Posts Tagged ‘SCSC2011’

The Neglected Blog Looks Back

I have had nothing to say. Nothing to show you. Nothing to share. Not that there hasn’t been an abundance of words, potential photos, or knitted projects, it’s just that it is the time of year where my brain is overwhelmed and I just don’t feel like talking. I have neglected the blog and I am sorry.

2011 has been a year for wild ups and downs. It will go down in my memory for several momentous occasions.

First, it was the year I found my feet. I started running in the Spring of 2010 a few months after gastric bypass, but it wasn’t until this year that I found the confidence to run races. It began in January when I learned that Warrior Dash was coming to Virginia and I signed up as a way to motivate myself. Then I discovered the SuperHero 5K; a perfect race given my ability, my fondness for superheros, and the charity appealed to me. In total, I ran 3 races this year, finishing the year with the Jingle Bell Run, and even before 2012, I have signed up for two more races, both 13.1 mile distances. I am already well into training for the half marathon I am running on March 17, 2012.

I will also remember it as the year I received my Pelican in the SCA and as a year in general where I gave most of my spare time to the SCA, at least up until about October. Between autocratting, gate keeping, and general event support staff, I put a lot of time, sweat, and work into the SCA. I have committed to making 2012 a lighter year for the SCA for myself. No jobs, no event staffing, no offices; nothing unless I am taken hold of by some bolt out of the blue and inspired to do something.

It was the year of car repairs and cash hemorrhaging in general. Things were looking up early in the year, but then the van needed work, then the washer gave up the ghost, then we bought a new t.v., then my truck needed $1000 in work, then the van again, then the truck broke down the day before Thanksgiving, and finally, the van needed a new radiator just last week. It has been brutal, but we have held on and received a lot of blessings too; just the fact that we aren’t deeply in credit card debt still puts us in a better place than we were 3 years ago. I hope things will improve in 2012.

Also in the hardship category has been the breakup of my parents’ marriage after 32 years. As I told my dad a couple of weeks ago, this has been a long time in coming, so long in fact that I just stopped believing it would actually happen. But at long last it has, and we are picking up the broken pieces of my family and trying to figure out how to make a new puzzle out of it all. Some pieces are missing. Some pieces don’t fit together anymore. For better or worse, I suspect it is only the glue that is Grace Elizabeth that is preventing total disintegration.

I confess that I always assumed that divorcing parents would be vastly easier to manage as an adult than as a child. In fact, I thought I would have no emotional fall out whatsoever. I was categorically wrong on that front. This is hard. It hurts. And there is not a quick end to the hurt in sight, but I will push on to do right by all of my family, even though that balancing act is difficult at best and leads to hurting others sometimes at worst.

2011 was the year I began to earn some culinary chops. I have enjoyed experimenting with food, flavors, cuts of meat, and preserving food. The surgery I underwent almost 2 years ago has totally transformed my interests in food. Gone are the days when fried chicken and French fries made a meal, and all for the better as far as I am concerned. Yes, almost everything I cook has to have some kind of sauce with it for my own benefit, but the great thing about sauces is you can cook the same type of meat 10 times (hello boneless, skinless chicken breast) and have a different take on it every time. I have truly begun to enjoy cooking to the point that I frequently prefer it to eating out at a restaurant a lot of times.

It is also the year where I began to really care about what is in my food and where it came from. Websites I follow like Well Preserved and Fooducate have opened my eyes to possibilities and problems with our food. Sites like Food Freedom and Farm to Consumer Legal Defense have opened my eyes to the incredible power wielded by the large food corporations and how they influence government policy to their own fiscal benefit, though frequently to the detriment of the general public (remember, this is the year that tomato paste made pizza qualify as a “vegetable” for the purpose of school lunches).

It was not a big year for knitting for me. My Corrie Vest was the only really impressive project I succeeded at. The well-intentioned Self Created Sock Club flopped in May when it was supposed to be a pair of socks for my dad; this was simultaneous with the discovery of the divorce. Between the insanity of getting ready for Sapphire and the tumult of the early days of the divorce proceedings, I just couldn’t bring myself to knit his socks. And once I was off a month, I never got my sock mojo back. I have a new plan for 2012 and for knitting that I will describe in a forthcoming post.

It has been an incredible year with my daughter. Watching Grace become a little kid who can write her name, her numbers up to 10, who can spell C A T, who can color in the lines, who can draw pictures, and can remember and sing entire songs back to us has been uplifting and amazing. She has been the light and joy in my year.

I feel like I am ending 2011 a very different woman than I was when it started. I feel much older, more care-worn than I was 12 months ago. It has not been an easy or light year in any way, which doesn’t expressly mean it was a bad year overall, just a very intense year across the whole spectrum. I feel like I changed more in just this year than I have ever before, in some ways for the better, and in other ways, not so much.

I am closing out my third decade of existence very soon as well. My twenties were an awesome set of years, to be sure, but I am entering into my thirties in better health than I have ever had and with an amazing family I didn’t have at the beginning of my twenties. I don’t know where I will be at 40 in the same way I could never have predicted where I am today when I was 20, but I hope and pray that the coming decade will a decade of action and doing. I want to use these years to do rather than to hope to do. I will never be any younger than I am today, every day, and I learned very acutely this year that if you want to do something, you better hurry up and do it. Opportunities come far less frequently than excuses.

On that note, I will be closing out 2011 by running seven miles on Saturday morning. That is something I definitely could not have done on 12/31 a year ago. I can’t wait to see what I can do a year from this Saturday.

I wish you and yours an amazing 2012.

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Two Autumn Challenges

This entire year is proving to be a roller coaster of a year. Ups and downs, 180 degree turns, and sudden stops. I am ready to embrace autumn with open arms if for no other reason than maybe it will provide some relief from the nonstop hits.

I finally made up my mind and placed a KnitPicks order today, following up from my post a couple of weeks ago.

Rather than take the Triple Dog Dare challenge and go for the Dogwood Blossoms Pullover sweater, I ordered the Blue Corrie Vest. I could better easily afford it and I am twice as likely to finish it, I think. I am looking forward to what will probably be a significant challenge for me, between the small gauge, the intensive charts, and simply because I don’t usually finish really large projects. I wanted something to keep my hands and brain busy this autumn and I think this vest will do it.

I also ordered the appropriate needles, a set of Harmony 2.5mm dpns, and because my balance was then $46 and change, and less than $4 more would get me free shipping, I went ahead and ordered a skein of Shadow Tonal Lace yarn, in colorway Pearlescent. I will get a small shawl out of that.

While Hurricane Irene was raging and the power was out, I did something I haven’t done since probably as far back as March. I sat down at my spinning wheel. I had already spun up more than 4 ounces of Ashland Bay colonial wool, and it was a matter of spinning the second half and then plying.

On Monday, a holiday, I spent 2 hours plying.

That is a uncomfortably full bobbin of about 8 ounces of fingering weight, 2 ply handspun beauty in the form of wool. No clue on the yardage. I need to find my niddy noddy and get it into a couple of skeins, wash, whack, and then contemplate its future. Once I have a better grasp on its yardage, I will decide on its ultimate purpose, I think.

Autumn puts me in a knitting mood. I hope so anyway because I have lots of socks to finish for Christmas and the 2011 Self Created Sock Club has washed out for the past several months. Autumn also puts me in a cooking kind of mood. Squashes, stews, beans, and the like. I already did mashed butternut squash a few nights ago and it was very yummy. I got a single volunteer butternut squash out of the garden, completely by accident, and after it has had some time to cure and let its natural sugars build up, it will probably become butternut squash soup.

Last year I made stuffed acorn squashes that were delicious. Then this blog post got me interested in things I can make with pumpkin.

The week I got home from Pennsic, I was so frazzled, so crispy, weary, and worn thin, in spite of just having had a vacation, that I requested another week off, this time for the week of October 10-14. That request was granted and I have been thinking up fun things to do with my time and with the time Grace and I will have together. I decided I will take her to Chesterfield Berry Farm and she and I will pick her Halloween pumpkin, and I think I will pick up a few baking pumpkins. I want to try my hand at pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie NOT out of a can this year for Thanksgiving.

In fact, I have been toying with the idea to attempt a 100 Mile Thanksgiving Feast Challenge. How much of our Thanksgiving spread can we get from a 100 mile radius to our table? The fact that we have already ordered a Heritage Breed Turkey from Empress Farm is the inspiration behind all of this. We did it for two reasons: first, because I have wanted to try a turkey from a small farm for years, and second, because my sister-in-law cannot eat the nitrates that are injected into CAFO turkeys that help make them moister and more flavorful, and every year we go through a whole list of hoops to jump through to make sure her food is safe for her to eat and not become ill.

Maybe no one else at the table that day would care but me (and probably Byram, as he is getting on board with eating local too), but how fun and cool would it be to serve dinner and then announce at the end that pretty much everything we served came from a local farmer? Admittedly, some of the stuff we normally serve like corn and green beans, can be purchased from almost anyone at the farmers market, but they have to be bought soonish and preserved, either through canning or freezing, because late November is honestly kind of a lousy time to celebrate the harvest that was done 2 months earlier. But I think this will be a fun opportunity to challenge myself and challenge my ideas about what a Thanksgiving Feast should look like.

I will post ideas, recipes, and progress throughout the Autumn as we head towards Thanksgiving.

Anyone want to join in on the fun?

Swoon

Love
I am positively in love with these socks and the designer who gifted them to the world.

I am entertaining all sorts of little fantasies: fingerless mittens, the cuff and detailed edge of a cardigan, and so forth.

I love this pattern.

The Sea Change

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.

Shakespeare – The Tempest

My Summer Mystery Shawl is deceased. Dead on arrival. Pulled off the needles and mourned appropriately (meaning I didn’t fling it across the room, but only sighed as I tucked it away to rewind the yarn later). Somehow, as I got to the last 10 rows of the third repeat of Clue 3, it became clear I had Screwed Up ™. I had 9 more stitches on one half of the shawl than the other. How did I not notice this before I was 95% finished with the shawl? Those nine stitches allowed the pattern to still work out almost perfectly. I still cannot see how I added (or subtracted from the other side) all the extra stitches without noticing. The pattern is not muddled or messed up looking on the body of the shawl itself, but the problem was when it came time to bind off, one side would be ready to bind off several rows before the other side, and there was no fixing that.
Edited to note that I went back and discovered there were several mistakes posted in the patterns, and because I was away from the computer so much while all these were coming out, I never checked to see if there was any errata! Maybe the fault is not all mine afterall! Remember, knitters, ALWAYS keep an eye open for errata!

Ah well. It was a lovely distraction while it lasted. I am going to turn that handspun yarn into a pair of fingerless mitts now, I think. It is silken and beautiful, but not really right for a shawl, I now believe.

I was supposed to cast on the June socks too. Beautiful German cabled pattern called Falling Tears. They were intended to be knit for my grandmother for Christmas (remember, most of this Sock Club is about getting my Christmas knitting done), but the pattern is intended for a Size 9 women’s foot, and I cannot see a way to shrink it down for my grandma’s dainty size 7 feet. I needed smaller needles than I currently have just to make it a size 9. I guess they will get knit eventually, just not for Grandma, and just not this month.

Instead, I went back to the May yarn. A KnitPicks self-striping yarn intended to become a pair of Jaywalker socks for my Dad. Instead, with a mind too frazzled and hands too sore to function well, I chose to cast on the most vanilla of basic socks and start a pair of toe up striped socks to end up under the Christmas tree most likely, just not for my Dad.

I am pulled too thin to wrangle intricate and beautifully structured cables on a pattern called Falling Tears, and I am too raw and hurt to knit something for the man who is literally pulling the yarn and unraveling my entire family.

My extended family is in a state of flux at the moment, and will likely remain so for a very long time to come. Byram and I are strong, united, and we adapt well to sea changes, but it doesn’t mean that the ride won’t be rough.

Sapphire Joust took a lot out of me this year, as I knew it would. That wasn’t the problem. The trouble came in the fact that Sapphire happened at the same time the unraveling yarn of my family began to pick up some serious speed. Additionally, between the three tick bites I picked up over a two week period, I picked up something more sinister: my symptoms line up best with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but it could be Lyme or one of the other 24 different tick-bite transmitted illnesses (thus with the sore hands; painful joints is one of my symptoms). Either way, I am on a very potent broad-spectrum antibiotic, and the rubber band that is my life feels like it was stretched until it finally broke, and I am curled up and broken and useless right now. J.R.R. Tolkien described it through Bilbo Baggins as feeling like butter spread too thin over toast. That is me. That’s where I am.

We are going to be okay. Really. In life, you have to hike through the valleys to reach the mountain peaks, and I know that. My family will rally together, support my Mom, act as the safety pin you use to catch a running stitch, and we will pull her up back to safety. I am going to get over whatever crap I caught pretty soon. My husband, daughter, and I will grow and adapt, and love and learn. Tonight, I am going to pitch a tent in our backyard, light a little fire in our firebowl, and we are going to roast marshmallows and “camp out” per a request Grace has made (very earnestly).

Life is good, even if right now, we are in the midst of a sea change and our little boat is a-rockin’ and we are too close to the rocky shore for comfort. I will knit on, pray on, live on, and on the other side, I will be stronger and smarter for it all; my household will look and feel different, but change always comes. It is up to us to either embrace it or adapt to it, but you cannot reject it.

I wish you a happy Father’s Day weekend.

Solitude

So, what day is it? June 7th? Sounds like the perfect day to debut my April 2011 SCSC socks.
Vellamo
I actually finished them on Saturday (yes, the April socks were finished in JUNE). Wet blocking did wonders for what otherwise looked like a stranded mess.
Socks
Pattern: Vellamo
Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Solids, one skein each of Aurora Heather and Mustard (Mustard is being discontinued)
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Modifications: My only modification was to change the cuff. I felt like the socks were so fancy they needed a showier cuff, so rather than a 1.5 inch 1×1 ribbed cuff, I went with a picot edged cuff. My first ever picot edge. I am a little disappointed that the socks are not all that “clingy” since I don’t have a nice stretchy ribbed cuff to help hold them up, but they look like some fancypants knitting, so I can live with them being somewhat saggy.

In other news, the week before Sapphire, I cast on the Summer Mystery Shawl that Wendy Johnson of WendyKnits started publishing. I wanted a distraction and something to invigorate my will to knit once the event was over, and it seems to have worked. I cast on in the handspun green merino/tencel (or it might be bamboo) blend I bought on Etsy last year and spun last Autumn. I don’t know how I feel about the yarn. Having never spun something like that, I didn’t know what to expect. I overspun a lot of it, and some of it is underspun. None of it is especially consistent. It is knitting up a lot like pure silk with little give. I think it will look nice once it is blocked out, but right now, I am somewhat taken aback by the mess every time I look at it.

Anyway, Wendy has put out all of the charts now, but the main body chart came out the day I was loading the Uhaul to go out to Sapphire, so I only started that chart over the weekend. I am taking my time with it, but the project is speeding up as I go because I am getting very familiar with the chart and because each right side row drops off two stitches.

I bypassed May’s Sock Club socks altogether. I had a feeling when I set up the club that May might wash out and sure enough. It doesn’t hurt that the socks are intended for a pair of Size 12 feet, and those feet belong to someone on my Not Too Happy With list, at the moment. I had little heartache in skipping over those socks. My June socks are waiting to be cast on very soon. The pattern is Falling Tears, and the yarn will be more Knit Picks Stroll in Dusk colorway. My main delay is that I need to replace my 2mm DPNs and I really need a 2.5mm set too. I think this sock is going to need me to go down a size from my normal 2.75mm needles.

Maybe this weekend I will have time to cast on while I am back at Tom Scott Park for Warfighter.

I am really suddenly looking forward to the event this weekend. We won’t have an “encampment” to speak of. It will just be Byram and I alone in our normal location, and there is a better than average chance that one night, it might even be me by myself. He will understand (I hope) when I say that the idea of a night alone in a tent, completely by myself, is deeply appealing right now. In the wake of Sapphire, of autocratting, of my job, of life in general, I feel a bit like I have had a 60 grit beltsander applied to my soul and I need some time to heal up. I need some quiet time. I need some solitude.

You wouldn’t think going to an SCA event would be the balm I need, but the way this weekend is looking, I think it is going to be perfect.

Now, I would like to leave you with some photos from my lost month of May.
Grace and I are exploring the River.

Admiral Achbar gives us a warning from what is one of the most random tags I have ever seen in the City.
Photobucket
My Beloved. Both of them.

A blooming magnolia; the scent took me straight back to my childhood in Hampton.
Magnolia
One of the most hellacious storms I have ever driven through.

My goofy girl and her wax lips.

Going for a run with a little added weight.

The Civil War memorial on Belle Isle.

And Grace.

Bombs Away

I think I am out of my “Blue Period.” Here is the evidence:
Green
From left to right, you have the second Vellamo sock, Serpentine Mitts (in positively divine Zitron Noblesse…yum), and Freya. I never go in by halvsies on anything. I was all blue. Now I am all green. I should cast on something orange, just to throw myself off.

Not that there isn’t still a *little* blue in my world.
Not Noro
That is Son of the Not-Noro Noro Striped Scarf. Yeah, it has been on the needles a long time. It isn’t like I am desperate for a scarf right now, and it is the perfect go-to project when I need something mindless to knit. Like this weekend, I added a foot and a half to it while watching Grace and other assorted SCAdian youngsters play in the nursery at the site we were at this past weekend. It wasn’t a good time for colorwork, so no Vellamo socks, and not a good time for un-charted lace work, so no Freya, and not the time to interpret cable charts, so no Serpentine mitts.

Speaking of Serpentine Mitts, I have been relatively blog-lite on them. I finished the first mitt WAY back in the first week of March while I was doing mental battle with the Charade socks from hell. I couldn’t get a decent picture of the finished product on my hand, and it looks a little pitiful if not stretched over a model. The Zitron Noblesse is one of the finest yarns I have knit with thus far, being very fine wool and silk, and I think it was positively a steal at only $8 a ball. If I was knitting a sweater, it would get a little pricey, but if I successfully get a pair of fingerless mitts out of its silken yardage, I would do a cartwheel for that bargain.

Running continues. I am trying to keep up with my training progress on my running blog at The Mud Dauber in Training. I don’t keep up enough like I should but I am going to try. Initially, I was just documenting my training goals and efforts for the Warrior Dash I signed up for in October, but since I have expanded my goals, I will try and expand my writing (just not at the expense of my training). I will try and include aside from the training details, stuff about nutrition, the mental aspect of training (which seems much harder at this stage than actually pounding the pavement), and stuff I am learning and loving about the culture of runners.

Finally, I leave you with a very poor, blurred photo, taken at some speed, with one hand, while driving my way towards a dentist’s appointment here in the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond.
Bombs Away
Richmond, we have been Yarn Bombed. I am practically giddy at the thought. (It’s crochet, so therefore I have proof that it couldn’t have been me.)

One Down

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the Worlds Finest team and our efforts to raise money for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs. Combined, between the donations made directly to the team and those that were made in Grace’s name, we have raised over $350!

The first of the April SCSC socks is done; I decided in the past day to make a major modification to the pattern. I decided to do a picot edged cuff. Until now, I have yet to knit a pair of socks yet that didn’t have a ribbed cuff, and while ribbed cuffs generally look nice and do a swell job in helping to hold up your socks, they just struck me as being far too dull to bring this flashy pair of socks to a close. This blog was vastly helpful in assisting me on choosing my binding off method.
Outside
And, because I have an appreciation for a view of the wrong-side of colorwork projects, I give you the inside:
Floats
In spite of all the attention I have been giving to the socks, my brain has been in a lace mood. I haven’t touched Freya since Wednesday, though I hope to give it some attention soon, but in the meantime, I have spent a lot of time looking at lace projects and shawls, and dreaming of future projects.

The Spring/Summer issue of Knitty debuted recently (this week I assume), and I fell pretty hard for Lilah in this issue. I like the idea of the two-toned shawl, but I don’t like the fact that the beautiful edgework becomes invisible with the transition from white to black. I will either knit it in a solid color, or dye it myself, ombré style.

I still fantasize about knitting Shipwreck again, but my list of shawls I want to knit is so long that it is hard to want to set aside the couple of months it would take to complete it, when I could be knitting something completely new to me. Here are just a few that I have been wanting to knit for a while.

Rona Lace: a stunning circular shawl I have been fantasizing about for years. Like Freya, it has no charts, which has kept me reluctant to just cast on and go for it.

Perlata Pitsigootti-huivi: there is an English translation for this gorgeous, Finnish shawl. It is a bottom up shawl, and casting on 404 stitches does make my heart flop around in my chest a bit, but when I am ready, I think it will be worth it.

Peacock Shawlette (Rav link): so I like peacocks, peacock motifs in lace, and the colors associated with peacocks. This one is also worked bottom up.

Cartouche: I LOVE this shawl. I love it that it looks heavy, warm, and exactly like something you would wrap up in on a chilly, early winter night, sitting outside. I love that it is lace and cables. I love that the difficulty level on it is going to be on the high side. I plan to knit this late this summer, maybe taking it to Pennsic to start it there. It certainly won’t be a “Two Week Pennsic Shawl” like Haruni was last year, but it would be nice to have it done in time to wear it once the weather cools down later this year.

When I have $20 to spare, I am going to buy Romi Hill’s Seven Small Shawls to Knit e-book. Tagyete, Caelano, and Asterope are my favorite shawls of the seven in the book.

So what’s on your queue to knit that you are itching to do these days?