Signing off for 2007

and back again in 2008. We're off to the snow for the rest of the year as of tomorrow and I'm also fortunate enough to have no internet access that whole time! There's about a foot on the ground as of this afternoon and it's certainly cold enough that it will stick. Should be interesting to see how much of a space has been cleared away for us to park - and also how heavy the snow is that we'll have to dig through to get to the cabin!

Anyway, I've been terrible about posting this month but work/life tends to get in the way. Hopefully next year will be better.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Swap swag

Admittedly, I'm late in posting this. I got my wonderful stuff from Meg(aphone) more than a week ago and I've already plowed through both the coffee and the chocolate. Both couldn't have turned up at a more fortuitous time as we were out of coffee (and I'd forgotten to stop by the store) and there was not dessert in the house, either!

Without further ado:

Coffee is a wonderful Costa Rican organic bean that is wonderfully mellow, but a very *round* flavor. Nice change of pace from the Indonesian varieties that are usually in the house! (Chris likes Costa Rican - that's his usual Trader Joe's bean). Next is the chocolate from local favorite, Ghiradelli. It's got (had) little nibs of espresso beans in a really rich dark chocolate. That stuff lasted moments. Best of all, a great skein of Trekking Natura (with bamboo) that is destined for a pair of socks for Chris and a cool skein of laceweight. I'm not sure what I'll do with this one yet - I need a nice black little scarf, so maybe the Dolphin Scarf or something just made-up. Regardless, there's a good quantity of mohair in there so it'll need to be something that will benefit from the texture.

Anyway, I'm back in the land of ginger and noodles - and I've nearly finished the scarf that my dad is getting for Christmas. He doesn't read the blog so there's no risk of him seeing it - but I do have the camera (clearly) so a pic or two is due tonight. What better way to spend the night than blogging? Heck, I sure don't sleep while I'm over here ...

I've been away ... but there's a prize!

Yes, I've been terribly busy lately - what with the holidays and jetsetting over to the Orient (yes, I leave again on Monday of next week) but I do have something to show for myself. Ok, maybe not *show* right away since the camera isn't handy, but I'll do my best to take some pictures sooner rather than later.

I've knit, assembled, hemmed and added buttons to the Sunrise Circle Jacket. No, this jacket isn't an original idea, but I'm hoping that I actually beat The Harlot to the final step. She and I began knitting this at just about the same time (serendipity) and she definitely got to the "done"-ish stage first. I completed the assembly over the weekend and it took a while to get the button part straight.

I originally started with Kate's directions for locating the button loops but that just Didn't Work for my shape and the way the jacket fell on me. If I had more yarn (yes, I'll take a picture of what's left .. this was truly scary) I would have widened the back between the shoulder blades to make it more comfortable - but overall, I'm very satisfied. This project has worked out better than anything in the past.

Interestingly enough - I knit this with size 5 Addis. Yes, size 5. The pattern calls for 7s, I think. While I can't say that I actually knitted a swatch, I did go a fair way on the sleeves and then checked gauge - I found that spi gauge was correct but my row gauge was way off. That's how I backed down to size 5s. Who knew?

Brief details:

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed
Color: 04 - Green Tweed with spots of orange, blue and black
Quantity: 10 skeins - ALL OF IT
Size: 36"
Needles: Addi Turbo Circular Size 5
Gauge: Per pattern

Picture of the yarn, below. Pix of the sweater to follow.

Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed

I love this thing.

We did it!

Ok, so I'm totally stealing this image (but not the bandwidth) from Engadget, but seeing as my company probably gave them the image in the first place, I'm not sorry about it!
It's Alive!

Yes, sports fans, this is our baby. After six months of not being able to tell my friends and family what I do, it's time to run outside and shout to the world, "I helped make the Kindle!"

More specifically, this is why I've been spending so much time in China. Starting the factory, managing materials and generally getting things up and running. It's been incredibly hectic (got home most recently on Saturday) and it's made life extremely challenging in terms of keeping up with friends, refereeing and knitting.

However, now that it's out there, the real work begins. Regardless, life is cool. And, if I can manage to stay awake, I may even have a FO to share this week!

Hip, hip, HOORAY!

Friday is for "relaxing"

or so one would think!

Life's been really hectic around here of late - what with the move, work heating up and the tail end of the fall soccer season. C. and I are both really ready for a vacation and were looking forward to getting away over Thanksgiving, but that's off the list since he's tied up with work. Couple all that with me heading over to China next week and I'm frazzled. Totally.

Last night I went head to head with all the stress and spent a good 4 hours knitting. Period. Nothing else. And let me tell you - it was wonderful. I'm not going to say what I'm working on yet (no, it's not one of those that are in the current progress list) but it's something I've been wanting to get to for almost a year and have finally managed to start. I've even taken the time to ensure my gauge is right (two needle sizes *BELOW* what's recommended!) and therefore I have high hopes that this one will turn out as planned.

Anyway - hopefully tonight will be another quiet and restful night (last college game of the season this afternoon) and that the trip next week will be uneventful. Even if we're not getting away, at least there's some time off in the future.

Thinking about 12th Night

Every year I throw a big dinner party for 12th. "Dinner Party" may be stretching it a bit since it's really become more of a graze-festival - plates of finger food spread throughout the house that makes for easy drifting and night-long noshing. It used to be a true sit-down dinner, but then there were way too many people I wanted to feed and simply not enough chairs. Bring on the appetizers!

While I do have a list of favorites that make the table every year, I like to spend at least some time browsing for a recipe that will give my friends something new to enjoy. That effort has, in recent years, started about 1 week prior to the event and hasn't really panned out as well as I'd like. This year, however, it'll be different. Honest.

Witness our first entry: Pumpkin Pie Blintzes. Yes, it's another Slashfood find, but this one looks truly scrumptious. Better still, it comes with a recipe for crepes from the illustrious Mark Bittman. My mother used to make crepes for dessert (she called them "breakfast pancakes") when I was growing up and I've never mustered the courage to try it myself. This recipe is making me want to try it.

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, and the fact that we're *not* going to the cabin (insert pouty-face here ...), it's a great excuse for me to try some cooking experiments. This one is on the list.

Update: and here's another one to add to the list. Green Tea Cookies as an alternative to the King Cake. While I usually make Cardamom Shortbread from Epicurious, this might just give folks something new to talk about. I sense that my Thanksgiving holiday is going to involve way more than just baking ...

A Halloween/Thanksgiving treat

found this interesting-looking recipe while surfing over at Slashfood this morning. It's for Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta and the picture looks as tasty as the dessert. Definitely a viable alternative for pumpkin pie (can you imagine?) and I also appreciate the reference to gelatin alternatives for us vegetarian-types. It's going on the list of things to make ... just need to figure out when. :-)

Quiet .. at last

After two days of hissing and spitting, I think the cats have finally figured out that the house is "ok" and that they really are friends! The first night was just awful - the yowling was incredible. Who'd'a thunk that those two normally spend all their time sleeping on top of each other given that they weren't even looking at each other without major protest!??! Regardless - we've all moved on.

The worst of the moving is over, but there's still so much to do. All the stuff that we've accumulated over the past decade is just incredible - but at least half is going away. Donations, trash, recycling, whatever. Bottom line, it's not coming up here! Life without furniture is certainly a pain and my knitting is non-existent (then again, so is my running).

Tomorrow, it's on to the winter running schedule (lunch at Rancho, hoo boy!) and buckling down at work. Boston on Wednesday, back Thursday night - then the final pack/move this coming weekend.

... now, where's my checkbook?

A new home

Ye gods - I can't believe it's been over a week since I last put anything up here. I hereby solemnly swear that I will blog once a day for the next week. Even if it's simply describing my commute or plane flight, I will do something.

Ok. On with the show.

We moved today. Ok, well maybe "move" is too strong a word. We packed a bunch of stuff, hauled some of it up the hill in the trailer, bought a new bed (yes, that's a good thing) and, most importantly, moved the cats. One is now hunkered down in the mostly empty living room while the other is snuffling around the kitchen and grumbling. This is, actually, progress. I would expect nothing else from the wee beasties.

While I wish I could say that the end of this move is in sight, sadly, it's very far from that. Given that we can only move the contents of our furniture and not our furniture itself (hence the new bed), this move will be a long and drawn-out process.

I did, however, manage to move all my knitting and about half of my stash. Hey, a girl's gotta have priorities! Pictures when I find my camera - which should be some time in June.

Coffee Swap Three!

Once again, I'm lucky enough to be participating in the Knitters Coffee Swap. Last time around, my partner was Jenni over in Scotland and she gifted me a whole box full of wonderful things.

So, without further ado, here are the answers to the questions for this round:

1. Whole bean or ground? - ground - for sure!

2. Fully-loaded or decaf? - fully loaded. While I like the occasional decaf, if it's of good quality, I don't *need* it so I'll stick with the normal stuff

3. Regular or flavored? - regular. No doubt. If I want flavor, I'll add some syrup or spices.

4. How do you drink your coffee? - generally with cream and sugar in the mornings, but often black or just with cream if I'm having a particularly luscious dessert!

5. Favorite coffee ever? - Aged Sumatra from Peet's

6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do? - generally, I'm fussy. I like a coffee with good flavor. Bad coffee is, well, just plain bad!

7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? - molasses or butter cookies, biscotti, simple pastry

8. Anything else about your coffee preferences? - I prefer low-acid coffees from Arabia, Indonesia or Central America. Kona, while good, just can't compare to a Sulawesi or an exquisite Moka-Java. Flavor. It's all about depth of flavor.

9. Yarn/fiber you love? - Anything wool, silk, natural fiber, or a combination thereof. I also love Wick from K1C2. If it's hand-dyed or hand-spun, I'm sold. You can find me on Ravelry to check my stash. That's a good indication!

10. Yarn/fiber you hate? - I generally don't like novelty yarns, though I've used them on occasion. I also tend to stay away from 100% acrylic, though some man-made is ok. Majority of the fiber needs to be animal/vegetable.

11. What's on your needles? - pair of socks, afghan, two sweaters. I'm now three weeks behind on the latest mystery shawl, but that's because I'm moving house! Actually, just check the queue to your right ... that'll tell you everything!

12. Favorite colors? - greens, browns, reds, deep blues. Yep, I'm an "autumn" girl

13. Allergies? - not that matter here - unless you're sending a bottle of Sulfa!

14. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? - I'm just happy to be a part of this. Knitting is a huge stress reliever for me and it also lets me do things for people I love. Coffee gets me started in the morning and also keeps me warm on those ridiculously cold days. When I can combine the two - what could be better! I'm also looking forward to meeting another new virtual friend. My last partner was a real dear and I can't wait to get started!

So there it is. Answers abound. Back to moving!

Woo hoo!!!!!

Today is a day of happiness. Two big stresses have become much smaller - not totally gone, but definitely smaller.

1. Removal of contingencies on our new house. Yup, this is as close as we get to actually *buying* the property. Folks, it's all over but the crying. And the signing. And the paying. Granted, I still have to organize utilities, garbage, pack, move, etc., but the house is just a sneeze away from being ours. Ain't it a beauty?

2. The address is correct on my Wollmeise package! I have finally managed to order some lovely wool from Germany and my heart skipped a beat because I'd forgotten to include the full address for my office. With the move and everything, I didn't want it to end up on an unoccupied doorstep, but I also never include the company name when I put on a work address. Over the weekend, however, I got an email from Claudia and she's assured me that she wrote the correct address on the box - that means I should actually get it! Maybe this week!!! OMG!

So - this week, it's more packing and boxing and stuff - and I'm also going to get a pair of halloweenie socks going for a party at the end of the month.

Hoo ha and hoooray!!!!

(oh, and did I mention - I'm back in the coffee swap! It just doesn't get any better than this!)

The only thing constant, is change.

When I was younger, I always had an idea of where I expected to be. It revolved around the place where I grew up, maybe on the lakeshore rather than inland, and it involved quiet. There would be snow in winter, there would be fish fry and beer and German Fest in July. Beer festivals in late summer, trips "up north" to see relatives - even the occasional road trip to Chicago and diving in the Caribbean. Yep, I was a MidWesterner - to the hilt.

Ten years ago, my life got turned upside-down. My (now) husband and I picked up and moved to the Bay Area based on him getting a job and me expecting to do the same. We sold our house, said "farewell" to friends and family and made a new life here on the left coast. We came out just as the housing market was going crazy and we barely managed to squeeze in to a tiny 2/1 house that was just under 1200 square feet. A huge change from our 2-story farmhouse on an acre of land! The market continued to skyrocket and we settled in for the long-haul .. because *surely* we'd never leave. Ok, so let's get started on that remodel/addition because we *DEFINITELY* can't afford to buy anything else!

Yeah, right.

Ok sports fans, toss all that stuff out the window. Cancel the permit (crap, add that to the list), call the inspectors, buy some boxes (due next week) and get ready to write that honking big check 'cause we're moving to the mountains. King's Mountain, to be specific. Though a combination of dumb luck and some fast decision-making, we've bought a new place about 6 miles west, as the crow flies. We're up in the redwoods with a peek-a-boo view of the Pacific. How much did it cost? About half the price of the remodel. Taxes will work out to be only slightly more, but overall, we're happy.

Moving day is 25 days away - and hopefully the old house will sell shortly thereafter. It goes on the market on/about November 5th.

I still can't believe it. But, honestly ... it's wonderful.

Has it been a week already?

I can't believe it's been a week since I've last posted. However, looking back at the last few posts, I sure feel like I've accomplished something. A while ago, I promised that I would take care of some things before I moved on to other stuff. Let's take a moment to check in on progress.

1. BSJ - crochet hooks found and it's been assembled and all ends woven in. Two of five buttons sewn on (they look cute!) so I'll call this 99.9% there. Finish tonight.

2. Mystery Stole - knitting done and it's ready for blocking. My blocking board isn't large enough to hold the FO, so I'll need to use the bed this weekend. On the "to do" list for Sunday.

3. Bella Blouse - no progress. I really need to decide if I'm going to finish this thing or set it aside for the next long holiday. It may really be Thanksgiving before this gets done because I need a solid block of time.

4. The Bag - some progress here in that I've sourced the lining material and I think I have a plan for how to do this. Again, it might be Thanksgiving for this one because of the time pressure, but who knows. Weekends are just a nightmare with soccer in full swing and me trying to finish my upgrades. If only I didn't have to work so much ... (ok, make that "at all" and it's more accurate)

Separately, I'm almost done with 1/2 of a Christmas present (short row ribbed scarf) - I just need more of the SWTC Karaoke for the matching mittens.

Back to the salt mines ...

Tell me again why I do this?

I like to spend time before a solid weekend of refereeing to read up on soccer news, referee chatter and generally turn off the "tech" side of my brain and turn on the "referee" side. Ok, so the sides part is in no way meant to mean the Left Brain and Right Brain; rather, it's meant to say that I have to put a different set of rules and guidelines into active circulation. I change the pace of my decision making, I turn in to much more of a manager/politician and I also get up to a more heightened state of consciousness.

During my sifting and sorting on the web, I stumbled on to this post. It basically is a laundry list of outrageous assaults on referees all over the world - from Africa to Canada - and all age groups (including a 13-year-old girl!). It's just downright depressing. A good chuck of my refereeing C.V. is made up of games where I volunteered. That's right, I gave freely of my time to help kids play soccer and for me to learn. I think it was a fair deal, but the level of abuse that came with it was legendary. Ask me some time why we don't keep standings at the U10 level for my local rec-league.

Over the years, as I've moved up to higher level games, the conduct of coaches and players and fans has also changed. The polarity is greater. Rather than a constant level of griping/nice folks there's a HUGE swing. From threats of bodily harm to very nice kids that wished me "happy mother's day". (I'm not even a mom.)

Anyway, tonight I will do a match at almost the highest level I can hope to reach. I'll be running the line on a NCAA Division 1 match with a Number 1-ranked team. It don't get much better than that. I've been obsessing all week - reviewing Laws, keeping fit, (mostly) eating right and now it's time to go get suited up. Standing under those lights and being a part of that game will remind me why I do this - it's fun and I get one of the best seats in the house. I will be challenged both mentally and physically and I will strive to do my very best. I will not be perfect, but I will give it everything. There are few things left in this world that coax this level of dedication and performance out of me - and tonight I get to do it again.

We're people, folks. We will make mistakes. But you know, it's only a game. No one's going to get killed if something goes wrong. Or maybe not. Peace. And good soccer.

My heart skipped a beat ...

because I clearly have a new "impulse buy" threshold - at least for knitting. I knew it was getting higher but I'm clearly over the top. Clearly.

Take a look at the new button at the top of my Knitting Links section. See that? The Year of Lace. Now wait. Now think. Now IMAGINE what that's going to be like. Want the details? Follow the button. I'm in. I'm SO in. Then again, I think I'm already a year behind.

Cleaning my plate

When I was little, my parents (good German WWII survivors) made a big deal about always finishing what I had begun before starting something new. Maybe that's why I've got a permanent case of "startitis" and like to have lots of projects lying around. However, given that I've got either an impending remodel OR an impending move coming up, I really, Really, REALLY need to get my collective sh*t together and kill off some of these knitting projects.

The siren song of a new shawl, a new sweater, a new pair of socks continues to sing in my ears, but I have got to do something! And soon! So, to that end, I declare a moratorium on all new projects until I get the old ones either ripped back or finished.

In order of importance:

1. BSJ. All it needs is finishing but I can't seem to find my crochet hooks. They've been AWOL for a little while and that's just fishy. I can sew it up and wait for the hooks to do the trim around the neck.

2. Mystery Stole. I started on Clue 6 last night and got quite a bit done. Now that it's down to the feathers it goes fast - FAST! The pattern repeat is easy to remember and there are not a lot of beads. Should be able to finish this week or next.

3. Bella Blouse. The cold weather is coming (so sayeth the Weather Man) so I need to kill this one before the season is totally gone! It'd be a shame to be this close and then never wear it. A little ripping and then it can be finished lickety-split.

4. The Bag. At least washed and ready for lining. It's completely done being knit, I just need to put it in the darned washing machine and let it do it's things. Darks are on the laundry menu for this week, so in it goes.

Whew. That's about all I can stand for now. If I manage that, I'm doing well.

Oh, and don't tell my Better Half that I'm off to the Mendocino Wool Festival on Saturday. While he's busy drinking with car guys in Sacramento, I'll be fondling fiber. Dude - I'm so going. And I'm bringing my credit card.

Granola Recipe

Found today on one of my favorite food blogs, Slashfood:

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup peanuts or toasted almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut (I always use unsweetened, but you can go for the sweetened kind if you'd like)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (I often omit this ingredient, as I tend to forget to buy it)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried fruit (dried apricots, craisins and dried apple are all delicious choices)
scant 1/4 cup cooking oil (not olive)
1/2 cup honey

Mix the oat, nuts and grains in a large bowl. Measure oil into the measuring cup and swirl it around before pouring into bowl. Then measure out the honey in the same, unwashed cup. The oil will help the honey exit the cup. Toss everything together until evenly coated and then pour out into a baking pan. I use a large roasting pan, as it keeps everything contained. A cookie sheet with a lip also works, but you have to stir it slightly more carefully if you use that. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, turning it with a spatula every ten minutes or so. You want everything to be an even golden brown. When it is finished cooking, returned the baked granola to the mixing bowl, add the raisins and fruit and stir to combine. Stir gently several times as it cooks, so that it doesn't clump together too much. Enjoy!

Looks like a real keeper - something to try out over the weekend, perhaps!

Skirting around my Engineering Degree

When I first saw the pattern for the Indigo Ripple Skirt, I wasn't too impressed. Sure, it was an interesting idea, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do anything with it. California gets awfully hot in the summertime and a knitted skirt seemed incongruous, to say the least.

Enter Eunny and her variations. First of all, Rowan Denim. Wow. This is rapidly becoming a favorite yarn. While a bit splitty (solvable by using blunter needles!), it's downright *creamy* to knit. Second, the idea of a knitted skirt that goes in the washer and pops right out - better still. Finally, I know that even a medium-weight cotton is survivable out here and a cotton "flippy skirt" is missing from my wardrobe.

Ok, I'm in.

I'm also getting braver when it comes to my kitting. No more blind pattern following - it's time to really understand what's going on and why so that the finished object is what *I* wanted; but, not necessarily what the designer intended. Elizabeth, you're my hero!

Modification 1: Stitch Density

I mentioned earlier that the Rowan yarn knits up beautifully and I really wanted to find a way to get some stretch in an otherwise non-stretchy (cotton) yarn. Simple solution is a tighter gauge. Rather that the specified US6 needle, I swatched on US5s. I got an extra 1/4 stitch per inch (5.5 vs. 5.25) and 1/4 of an extra row (6.75 vs. 7). Changing needle sizes is pretty simple math, as long as I know the gauge. Trusty Clover bamboos at the ready.

Modification 2: Fit

Because I'm "getting along in life", I don't like clothing that accentuates my belly. While not necessarily flabby, it certainly exists and therefore a skirt that fits at my true waist and tapers accordingly will simply show off a less flattering part of my anatomy. Generally, I like skirts and pants that ride between the waist and the hip so I needed to increase the size of the waistband. Second, I still needed to get the taper to finish at the right place so that made the calculation a bit more complicated. New number of increase stitches over a new vertical dimension - that required paper and pencil. Regardless, I have numbers I'm happy with and I'll give it a shot. Most importantly, the pattern is very simple. So simple that if it's not going where I want it to go, I won't be too heartbroken to frog and restart.

I cast on today over lunch. Maybe this is my new "in office" project. :-)

Gloves and Bags

About two weeks ago, I started knitting on The Bag by Wendy Wonnacott. I'm using the recommended yarn, AllHemp6 from Hemp for Knitting, but with a blue/black combination rather than the two oranges shown. It's been interesting, to say the least.

I've made good progress so far - actually I'm more than half way done. Three repeats remain on the lower section, with the last repeat being the bottom of the bag. The pattern is not subtle! Also, it's just about "readable", though I find myself going back to make sure I'm doing the right filler pattern for the sides. This picture is more "true" when it comes to the overall color of the yarns and also shows where the repeats change direction at the equator of the bag. Again, this really doesn't show when looking at the picture in the book but is immediately apparent (ok, so immediately means one repeat of the pattern).

Yes, mistakes abound, but I'll live with 'em. The colors pop nicely and it's cool to look at. Hemp yarn is VERY stiff and that's resulted in a looser gauge than intended, but I do think I'll have enough to finish. It may be close with the blue, but I can certainly frog back some of what's supposed to be the lining at the top to salvage enough to finish the bottom. Not ideal, but so be it.

Exactly how I'm going to finish this also remains a mystery. I'd like to give it more structure than the original as it's big enough to be a work bag so I think a more substantial lining and handles are in order.

Separately, I'm working the Gansey Gloves from Yarndemon. A word of warning - there is no sizing information so I was going in to this a little blind. It recommended a worsted weight yarn with size 2 needles. I'm using Cascade 220 on Addi #2 and they're a little large. Here's a picture of the glove progress to date:

Peace-out, hey? It's definitely way too big for me so Chris will be the recipient of these. The pattern makes for a great learning experience - I understand how to manage a thumb gusset, add fingers, etc. From here, making my own pattern to fit my own hands seems almost trivial. It was a fun knit this weekend - a welcome change from the (not quite) mindlessness of The Bag.

August UnderCover Squares

Two squares again this month. No, I don't have the names handy here at work but I'll see about updating with the names when I get a chance. Overall matched with a closeup.

The lighting doesn't really show off the color too well - it's really a very nice green with just a hit of yellow. The colorway is called "Willow" - so imagine the silvery-yellow-green that is a willow leaf. Heck, I really like it. I'd even make a sweater (or something) out of it! Very easy to knit this time around; I finished both of them in an afternoon.

Decongestants help, I think. ;-)

How'm I gonna explain this?

Ok, so the "perq" that came with this last-minute trip to China was that I got to spend the weekend in Hong Kong. Given that I used to come here when I worked for HP, I knew that the Sheraton Towers hotel is rather nice. Called up corporate travel and bingo - room's booked.

My trip has been cut short (good and bad - but I can't talk about that) so rather than three nights here, I'm only spending one. Called corporate travel and amended the reservation.

Took the car down from Shenzhen, worried the whole time about whether or not I'd be tagged for having a fever (wasn't) and arrived in fine time for dinner somewhere close by. There was a bit of a queue at the desk, but eventually I stepped forward and, upon seeing my name, the woman immediately directed me to the "Towers Concierge on the 16th floor. This way please."

Uh oh.

Ok, I'll bite. Let's see what's about to happen. I ride the elevator and step in to what looks like Hugh Hefner's living room. Upholstered walls, nice carpeting, the works. Hrm. "Welcome Ms. Palme. You booked a deluxe room but we have a rather tight situation so we have upgraded you to a suite. You are in room 1601. Please go through."

I walk down the hall ... and walk ... and walk ... lots of other rooms ... and I get to a dead end. 1601. Corner room. Bracing myself, I walk in to find this:

Um, where's the bed? Oh yeah ... that's next door:

And what's that little doorway off to the right? Why, that's the dressing room:

and AROUND THE CORNER from that is the bathroom!

Oh, and did I mention there's ANOTHER WHOLE BATHROOM right by the DOOR!??!?!


There's no way this is getting past the corporate expense guys. Thank goodness breakfast is already included. I think I'm buying my own dinner tonight.

Defeated ...

by the treadmill.

I was feeling poorly yesterday (sore throat, stuffed nose) and that makes me a bit paranoid when over here. As you likely know, SARS was rampant over here about 4 years ago and ever since, people are checked for fever when crossing the border. They shine a laser at your forehead and measure your temperature. As long as you're below 38C, they let you through. If above, then it's time for "evaluation". I have to cross the border today, and again tomorrow, and I didn't want to take any chances so I skipped yesterday's run.

I'm not running today, either.

Yes, that means I'm not as morally "strong" as I'd like to be, but I also don't want to get dumped in to a Chinese hospital for monitoring. I suspect that the run on Wednesday, coupled with lack of sleep was enough to make my body rebel - and the mild cold symptoms were the result.

The up side is that I'm going home tomorrow (Saturday). As often happens, there was a "development" and I don't need to be over here next week. I get to go home, go to a pool party and enjoy the mountains for my run on Sunday.

Lantau and the Tian Tan Buddha will be here for me next time. Honestly, it'll be nice to head home.

And no, I won't dignify the treadmill by taking it's picture. Beast.

A quick trip report

Yes, here I am in China again. This time, since I'm here for quite some time, I thought it would be a good idea to try and post a few updates from here. Generally, being in China means being indoors. I go from the hotel, to the factory, to the hotel. There's little opportunity to explore since I'm generally working all day and it's really not safe for a woman to wander around at night. That being said, here's my office:

Note there are a lot of things to drink on the table. See the green cans? It's beer. First of all, why they'd think that I want to drink all day beats the heck out of me. Second - it's been sitting in a warm room all day! Even less incentive.

If you were to stop by, you'd see this:

yep, that's me - typing away crazily while fighting off jet lag. There are those darned warm beers again. What's that? You're wondering what's outside the window? Ah, let me oblidge you:

Factories. Lots of factories. Probably filled with people that look a lot like me, typing away at emails, and fighting off jet lag. Sound familiar? This particular part of China is actually quite modern - and quite clean. There are "shanty towns" that I drive past on the way in every day, but they're mostly hidden behind the riot of foliage that just loves this hot, humid, wet climate. The jungle would dearly love to have this area back ...

I've also said that there is an upside to being over here - quality knitting time. Here's what happened on the flight over:

This is a Tuscany shawl from Amy Singers "No Sheep For You" book. I've almost finished 13 repeats of the pattern and I've still got a TON of yarn left over. This is being knit in Hand Maiden Sea Silk - one of the 150g skeins, of course. This is what I'm talking about:

Dude - there's acres of shawl still in that ball! I'm betting that I'll get 17 repeats out of this baby (Grumperina would have done the math, but alas, no scale) before the ball gives out. It'll be rather huge, me thinks. Should be done this weekend - or sooner if I get really sick of it. I do still have socks to knit.

It's the treadmill for me tonight - and 8 grueling miles. I hate the treadmill so much that I refuse to take a picture. Then again, maybe I'll take one next week - just to show you all what a torture device really looks like.

Bizz Johnson Week 11

Ok, this week will be a challenge. Next one, too. I'm overseas and it's me and the treadmill until further notice. Gods.

Monday - Cross Training actual: 0

Flight to Hong Kong. 12h of knitting on the Tuscany shawl. I'm finished with it per the pattern, but will likely keep knitting until I get to at least 15 repeats. Dude - that's a lot of stitches!

Tuesday - Run 5 miles actual: 5

Back to the treadmill. It's still hot and HUMID over here - pouring down rain. Gotta get over my vanity and realize that the jog bra is the thing. I'm running at night tomorrow for sure.

Wednesday - Run 8 miles actual: 8

! Wow. That was probably the worst 8 miles I've run in a long time. There's a "helpful" feature on the treadmill that prevents you from running longer than 60 minutes. Because of that, I decided to split my run and hopefully motivate myself in the process. I did 5 miles (8km) and then another 3 miles (5k) with a short walk/water break in between. More on this in today's post - but suffice to say, I did it.

Thursday - Run 5 miles actual:

Friday - Rest actual:

Saturday - Run 8 miles actual:

Sunday - Run 18 miles actual:

Total Scheduled Mileage: 44
Actual Mileage:

Here we go again ...

Remember my post from a few weeks ago that talked about China? Well, it's time for a "take two". I'm getting on a plane again on Sunday - this time for nearly 2 weeks. Yes, I'll have to stay over a weekend, but I've been "authorized" to head back to Hong Kong so that I can at least do something interesting (read: get OUT of the hotel!).

Now my dilemma is what knitting to bring. I nearly finished a pair of socks while flying over last time - this time I may take one of the skeins of sea silk I recently purchased and work on turning it in to a scarf of some kind. Also, The Bag would come in handy, but the night markets in Hong Kong are likely cheaper (and more fun).

I plan to try and drop in on a few yarn stores while I'm there - it's an excuse to get out and explore and see what's what. Oh, the joy of currency exchange.

Anyway, I'll have the camera and the connector cable along for the ride. Here's hoping that I manage to post in the interim!

Bizz Johnson Week 10

Time to get back in the swing of things. Holy mackerel, this'll be a big week! I also think I missed a week somewhere (was my last post really week 8?) but we're definitely on week 10. Dude.

Monday - Cross Training actual: 0

Cast on a Baby Surprise Jacket today ... in Patons Grace Cotton. We'll see how it goes. Oh, and I found my otherwise missing skein of Nature's Palette Ice Blue. Now I can finish those Embossed Leaves socks!

Tuesday - Run 4 miles actual: 4.5

My favorite loop through San Carlos - and boy, it's good to be back running again. Just need to remember to PICK UP MY FEET, DAMMIT! ... I do get lazy sometimes ...

Wednesday - Run 8 miles actual: 7.5

Windy Hill. One of the most APTLY named parks in the greater Bay Area. This particular loop involves quite a bit of elevation gain given that it starts at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains and runs to the ridge line. It's probably in the neighborhood of 1000' of climing over the course of 2-2.5 miles. Thank goodness for switchbacks! Anyway, it was sunny and nice at the bottom but the fog was streaming over the ridgeline by the time I reached the top. Ankle is still sore (it might be doctor time ... it's been almost 2 months) and I was *whooped* when it was done. Payback for a summer of avoiding hill climbing. Regardless, I'm SPOT ON for this week and intend to keep it that way.

Thursday - Run 4 miles actual: 4

Friday - Rest actual:

Saturday - Run 8 miles actual: 8

Refereed 3 games which netted out to a good 4+ hours of activity. I put in at least 8 miles since the standard game nets out to about 6 when in the middle and 1-2 when running lines. Fun, tho!

Sunday - Run 17 miles actual:

Ran squat. Got up early and packed to head to the airport. :-(
Total Scheduled Mileage: 41
Actual Mileage: 24 ugh.

A quick trip report

I'd mentioned a few times that I was off to China for a few days on business. The good news is that my time was in no way "wasted". Before I get to that, here's some photos. First of all, the pool.

Note the bank of windows to the left - that's the gym. I spent some quality time there every morning. Heck, I was up at 3:30a anyway. You'd be surprised how popular the treadmills are at 6a. I didn't bother with the pool. First off, no swimsuit. Second, it was so darned humid that I doubt I would have known if I was in the pool or just standing on the deck.

Now there's the view from the window:

That's the train station all the way to the right, just above that line of manicured trees. Interestingly enough, that train station was the best thing I'd ever seen the first time I was in China. (but that's another story)

And in the other direction:

Shenzhen is growing so quickly! Much of this stuff wasn't around 10 years ago. Heck, they're *renovating* stuff now.

Ok, the obligatory "harlot shot". How I wish I could have spent more quality time here:

I guess the sock likes the view:

And here's the upside of it all. They're finished. 1.5 of these socks were done on the plane ride out. Yes, the ride out. 13 hours goes a long way toward a pair of socks (ok, 3/4 of the way, to be exact.)

I love these socks. The yarn is great (STR Firebird, a RSC exclusive) - a lightweight 100% superwash. Shows off the pattern beautifully and these are my best fitting pair *EVER*. Anyway, that's that.

Oh, and one more thing. This guy cracked me up all week.

He and I go quite a ways back and I'm so happy to be working with him again. Doesn't he look just like Tin Tin?

Bizz Johnson Week 8

As mentioned in the previous post, we're hiking in Yosemite for most of this week. I'll be logging between 10 and 15 miles of walking (some w/pack and some without) rather than running through Thursday, but then it'll be time to do some make-up. I should be able to squeeze a few miles out of Thursday - Saturday, but to try and get the full 31 will be a challenge. The only bit of good news is that this is meant to be a "rest" week and the walking should give my ankle more time to heal-up.

(yes, it's still giving me trouble ...)

Monday - Cross Training actual: 8.6

Hiked 8.6 miles today, from 10,000' down to 7200'. The last three miles were hiking on the equivalent of cobblestones! We were WIPED. Absolutely wiped.

Tuesday - Run 4 miles actual: 0

Nothing today except lounging by the stream, a brief walk to the end of the lake and a nice, long nap. Merced Lake is a beautiful place.

Wednesday - Run 5 miles actual: 7.6

Hiked back up to Vogelsang via the Fletcher Creek trail today. It wasn't nearly as difficult as either of us expected and the views were incredible.

Thursday - Run 4 miles actual: 7

Back to Tuolomne Meadows via Rafferty Creek (same as the way in). Back down from 10,000' to 8,000'. Definitely warm (on, hot!) but it's always easier to walk down the hill than up it. :-)

Friday - Rest actual: 0

Oh, sweet lounging. Lazy, lazy, lounging. And the first good night's sleep since we left for High Camp!

Saturday - Run 7 miles actual: 0

Drove home. Knit. Ate a really good dinner. This is what vacations are all about.

Sunday - Run 11 miles actual: 0

More knitting and more sleeping. Wierd weather made it very difficult to leave the house. Make-up tomorrow ..

Total Scheduled Mileage: 31
Actual Mileage: 23.2 miles of hiking

Catching up a bit ...

Ok, so I've been remiss. I'd been doing such a good job of keeping my running log up to date, posting about knitting projects and even thinking about other stuff. Then, along came China.

Wierd things started to occur when I was logging in from Shenzhen - characters turned from English to Chinese (now *that* was wierd) and in some cases I couldn't even connect. Was this a symptom of the benevolent local authority "helping" me out? Was I really THAT jetlagged? Regardless, it kinda threw me off the bandwagon there for a while. I also impacted my running a bit, but things seem to be getting straightened out.

And now comes vacation! We're off to go hiking in Yosemite next week and that means no internet access (ergo, no blogging). I plan to bring along some knitting, but we'll see how that goes. No, the Mystery Stole is *not* the thing, but a pair of socks *is* the thing.

Before I go, here's some insight as to where everything is.

1) Mystery Stole - parked at the end of Clue 3. Haven't even started Clue 4, mainly due to Harry Potter and getting ready for this trip. Hope to pick it up again Thursday or Friday of next week.

2) Fawkes socks - done. Completed 1.5 socks on the plane TO Hong Kong, got a little more done on the way back, finished this past Monday. Pix in the camera, download pending.

3. The Bag - materials acquired, knitted up to the join of the CC, I'm unhappy. I think this puppy will get frogged back and restarted; there's a mistake in the CC row (missed a stitch somewhere) so it needs to be "addressed" anyway.

4. Meida's Socks - started and through 1st pattern repeat. This is what's going along on the hike. Totally portable and very simple.

That's it. Updated run info in a separate post and then I'm on hiatus until next Saturday, at the earliest.

Man ... I really need to get started on the Kauni ...

Bizz Johnston Week 7

Monday - Cross Training actual: flying

13 hours in coach to Hong Kong. The good news is that I finished 1.5 socks!

Tuesday - Run 4 miles actual: 0

Now is this US time or HK time? If US, then I ran. If HK, then no. We'll leave it as "no".

Wednesday - Run 7 miles actual: 7

Treadmill! Oh, the humidity (or is that humanity?). Jet lag got me up at 3a to watch the World Series of Carrom and that meant running at 6a. Lovely view of the pool, though ...

Thursday - Run 4 miles actual: 4

Managed to sleep until 4:30a today! Definitely a step forward ...

Friday - Rest actual: Rest.

Saturday - Run 7 pace miles actual: 6

and boy was that difficult!

Sunday - Run 14 miles actual: 0

Zzzzzzz ... and Harry Potter ...

Total Scheduled Mileage: 36
Actual Mileage: 17 (boy, that's not good ...)

25 years and still going strong ...

Ever wonder what 25 years of marriage looks like? Well, here it is:

These are two of my most favorite people in the world - and last Wednesday we were lucky enough to be invited to the party. Ralph and Carol treated us (and 12 other close friends and relatives) to a cruise on the San Francisco Bay - just like their wedding! The Blue and Gold fleet hosted the ceremony while Hornblower hosted the party. Food, drinks and fireworks were on the menu for the evening and the weather cooperated by keeping the fog at bay until after the pyrotechnics were done. By the way - that white number she's wearing - that was her "going away dress" from 1982. It still fits!

Ralph was also the officiant at our wedding - and he did a darn good job. Only one problem .. he neglected to tell us that he cries a weddings. Who knew?

Oh, and here's my other favorite couple:

These two just make me want to smile. Generally, if Chris and I are doing as well as these four when we hit our dotage (which is a hell of a lot closer than I like to think), I'll be pretty darned satisfied. What a wonderful way to celebrate the 4th of July. (and did I mention, that was our 18th anniversary?)

Independence day - feh. Here's to a little de-pendence. :-)

Catching Up on the Pix

Yeah, yeah. I've been meaning to do this for a while, so here are some pix (with more to come).

First FO is the Squatty Sidekick from the Knitting Daily website. I did this with KnitPicks Alpaca worsted weight. It knitted up SO fast and then I waited another week before I got around to felting it. The lucky recipient was gifted this past Friday while we all enjoyed Belgian beers at the Toronado. Little did I know that this purse also works as a hat! Harlot style, here's the bag in the front hedge:

Also, here's a set of pix of my progress with the Mystery Stole 3. The pattern called for either white or black/dark colors and I had this in stash:
This is my first time using the yarn from this supplier and let me tell you - it was a NIGHTMARE to wind the yarn. It had felted slightly as part of the dying process (I assume) which meant that the threads were stuck together and did NOT want to come apart from the rest of the skein. What should have taken about 20 minutes took more than an hour - and required the patience of my husband who did a FABULOUS job turning the winder slooooooowly while keeping tension on the yarn. I've got one more skein in a different colorway, but I'm not entirely sure I'll have the patience to use it soon! Regardless, doesn't it look scrummy? The colors are pretty remarkable and so far are knitting up nicely with the pattern.

Next pic is the stole after finishing the first half of "Clue 1". We're getting a clue every week (except week of 7/23 as Harry Potter is coming out) and the first clue was broken up in to two charts. The pic gives you an idea of the general pattern around the edge and also shows the level of stitch definition. Believe it or not, there are beads in there. I went with 8/0's and I think they're just too small for this stole. If (when) I knit another one, I'll definitely go up in size to 6/0's. So here it is after about 1d of knitting:

And here's what it looks like 4 days later, after finishing Clue 2. We're at 99 stitches wide (finished width) and have worked through 150 rows. I've no idea what the final pattern is supposed to be. Any guesses?

Next clue comes out on Friday but I'm off to Asia for a business trip and this is NOT NOT NOT airplane knitting. What with turbulence spilling the beads all over the place and losing stitches because I'm half asleep - I don't see forward progress being made. I'll just see what (if anything) I manage to get done over the weekend and then pick up again after I get back. Remember, it's not a race.

Stay tuned for the Breeze socks (need a wash already!) and the Wick socks that should be done tonight. Kauni remains properly locked up in it's bag. I just can't bring myself to open it yet ....

The Call of the Kauni

Since I saw the Harlot knitting it up back in June, I knew I needed to try this sucker. It's a really wonderful cardigan (what?!?! a cardigan!?!?) that uses a Danish yarn with looooooooooooooong color repeats to make the stranded knitting go much easier. Honestly, there are only eight rows of stranding for every twenty rows of pattern. Should be a hoot, right?

There's an excellent work in progress blog here that shows all kinds of wonderful things - like the color repeat possibilities, the way to deal with the steeks and associated openings, picking up stitches for the button band, the whole she-bang. We've also got a KAL going (see the sidebar for the button) and a source for all the different colorways up in Canada. I think all the versions are represented - but the rainbow is by far the most popular. Maybe the green would have been better ...

The yarn finally showed up yesterday - and I even managed to resist (RESIST!) opening the package mainly because I have no idea how I'm going to explain this to my husband. "What's that?" Oh, some more cool yarn. "What's it for? I mean, did you have a plan or are you still 'just buying' yarn?" A cardigan. "Cardigan!?!? What about my sweater that's been totally knit and has been sitting in a bag since Christmas and we're about to go on a long camping trip where it'll be cold and I might want it? What about that, huh?!?!"

No, I didn't open the bag.

Trying to figure out where to start the colors is what's really getting me. There are essentially three possibilities and I think that they're going to result in varying degrees of contrast. Less is likely to be more for me when it comes to this cardigan, but I'm not really sure. Maybe a look at a color wheel will help.

Any suggestions?

What a weekend ...

I think it's time to go see my optometrist. I spent a good chunk of the weekend working on my Mystery Shawl 3 and I think that's knocked off a good 10 years from my "eyeball life". Whew! I love the colors of the laceweight that I'm knitting with but I'd forgotten how hard it is to deal with dark colors. Shoulda remembered from my cross stitch days.

I also frogged back the Clapotis and I'm debating what I should do with the Sea Silk. I think I may do a Tuscany shawl (from the No Sheep For You book - Amy seems to like this yarn for that pattern), but I'm not sure. For now, it's sitting with my STR cotton/rayon blend.

The new Clapotis incarnation will be with KnitPicks Gossamer in the Caribbean colorway. Yes, it's a laceweight rather than a worsted weight, but I'm really falling in love with these tiny yarns. I also think that the scarf will be lighter and more wearable. Knitting on Addi #3's ... we'll see how that goes.

Also gave away the Squatty Sidekick to my knitting victim. Turns out she's going on a cruise with her boyfriend and his mom - and she wants to teach her how to knit! I'm hoping that a week of uninterrupted knitting goodness from a patient "old hand" will get Bethany started. If so, then I'll pounce. Oh, and continuing to wear my hand-knitted socks, of course.

Yes, I need to post pix. I have lots. There's just so much going on. And I have yet to get my collective sh*t together for me to get on a plane next week! Man, what knitting will I bring? I think socks ...

BIzz Johnston Week 6

Monday - Cross Training actual: knitting

yup - still on track with this stuff. Finished Clue 2 of the Mystery Shawl and then got to the heel of the Wick sock.

Tuesday - Run 3 miles actual: 4

Hash night - I'll chalk this up to about 4 miles. Lots of hills!

Wednesday - Run 5 miles actual: 6

6 miles on the good ol' Sawyer Camp Trail. Nice day for it, albeit a bit windy. Regardless, I'm doing well this week! Fitness test on Saturday morning ... blech.

Thursday - Run 3 miles actual: rest

nice afternoon off before the fitness exam ...

Friday - Rest actual: 4

Chris and I took a spin at Pulgas Ridge. A nice hilly loop on a GORGEOUS afternoon.

Saturday - Run 6 pace miles actual: 3

Fitness test. Actual mileage was about 3, but it felt like 7!

Sunday - Run 9 miles actual: 14

Getting ahead of the ballgame since I'm getting on a plane tomorrow. It was hot and difficult, but I git it done. Whew!

Total Scheduled Mileage: 26
Actual Mileage: 32

Lace kitting - away!

I've jumped on another bandwagon this week - the Mystery Stole 3 KAL closes signups tomorrow afternoon (there are more than 4000 of us already!) and it looked too good to resist. Basically, we get a new section of the chart every Friday (except Harry Potter Friday) so that we'll have a stole knitted up by the end of the summer.

I'm using a skein of Zen Yarn Garden laceweight in the Captain's Choice colorway. It's a cool mixture of dark and light blues that I hope will do the pattern justice. I also managed to pick up a nice set of 8/0 seed beads at the local bead store today so I'm ready to start knitting.

Addi #4 Lace needles are on order from Colorsong Yarns (free shipping, don't ya know!) but I'll probably start on my #4 bamboos. I sure don't want to have to wait until the actual Addis show up! Horrors! I'll be WEEKS behind! :-)

One of the two Wick socks is done, both finished by the weekend. The Kauni wool is on the way and now it's just a matter of what goes in the project basket for the trip to China.

Did I mention I'm going to China? :-)

Isn't that *cute*?

After many years of dealing with the insanity that is the Bay Area as well as it's progeny, the High Tech Industry, I've finally gotten content enough with my life to be able to NOT WORK through lunch every day. That doesn't mean I don't like to bring my lunch with me (see the post about the couscous salad and you'll know what my staple diet looks like) and enjoy a little bit of down-time between noon and 1p, but I also like to put that time to good use. Generally, that means I knit over lunch.

Small projects without intricate patterns are the best candidates for lunchtime knitting - socks, scarves (small ones, not the Clapotis! No, no ... NOT the Clapotis), simple bags - generally anything allowing between 5 and 20 rounds to be completed in a 45 minute period. The pattern should be easily "readable" and allow me to stop almost anywhere without causing a serious brain cramp when I return to it in the evening. I've not gone so far as to have a work-only knitting project, but that's coming. Sorry, I digress.

So there I was in my cube yesterday, knitting over lunch and feverishly trying to finish the clasp on the Squatty Sidekick before the start of a 1p meeting when one of my colleagues breezed past. He gave me the obligatory "hey there" nod and then kept going when his mental emergency brake got pulled. The reverse lights came on, he backed-up to my cube, and then said, "Oh wow. Knitting. No one does that anymore. How cute. Good for you!"


Why is it that knitting (and most other handicrafts, by the way) are no longer considered to be noteworthy? I find myself mentally unmaking sweaters, cables, mittens and other knitted items seen on the street to figure out how they were made and if it was human or mechanical hands that did the deed. However, for the unspun masses out there, it's a NiceGirl hobby that's outlived it's usefulness. It's cute. I think knitting gets brushed aside because the amount of skill and talent that goes in to the making of a Thing is not readily apparent to the uninitiated. Because it's an ancient and (relatively) simple craft, and the doing of it has been generally given over to metal contraptions that generate miles of fabric every day, the human version is perhaps seen as a "waste of time". Something we could ... well, outsource. What a shame.

What if we all pledged to teach one person to knit this year? I've got my mark already picked out (and she wants to learn), it's simply a matter of getting schedules to line up. What about everyone else? Are you with me?

If only knitters got the same respect that chefs do nowadays. You think Bourdain would be willing to learn to knit?

July SKL Sock ...

Wow-ee! Take a look at this pattern:

It's absolutely stunning. No idea what colors I want to use yet - and I certainly need another excuse to buy sock wool (NOT!). Seriously, it's gorgeous.

It' goes firmly on the "to do" list ... we'll see about when. Maybe during the hiking trip at the end of the month!

Bizz Johnson Week 5

Monday - Cross Training actual: knitting

Ok, so I almost finished the Breeze socks today. I'll for sure finish tomorrow.

Tuesday - Run 3 miles actual: 3

Today will be some speed work/training for my WCISOA fitness exam next week. Given that I've really got only about 6 training days to sort all this, I need to get serious. I don't expect to make HUGE headway in my times, but certainly prevent myself from failing. Two rounds each of the short events plus the 12 minute run and I should easily get my 3 miles in. I'll do a mile of warmup on the track before actually taking on the speed work (laps - ICKY!) but that's what I need to do. Thursday will be the same. Run, agility, then run.

Wednesday - Run 6 miles actual: 6

Oh. My. Goodness! It was ridiculously hot today, but I ran anyway. Stupid. I'm taking tomorrow off.

Thursday - Run 3 miles actual: 0

Yup. Farmers' Market and rest. And lots of water.

Friday - Rest actual: 4

Making up for yesterday ...

Saturday - Run 6 miles actual: 4.5

Ran the hash today - what a disaster. I got some distance but also spent a goodly amount of time apologizing to everyone for a poorly-laid trail. Geez. I had a great time regardless. Nice to be out in the sunshine with good friends!

Sunday - Run 12 miles actual: 12

Gorgeous day by the reservoir. I used to really *hate* this run (paved, lots of people) but now that I'm training on my own, I'm liking it much more. There's water at the 3.5 mile and 6 mile marks (which means also at 8.5 on the way back) and it's shaded most of the way. It's also further north so generally cooler. Anyhow, this was the best 12 miles I've run in a long time. Maybe the training is starting to "take".

Total Scheduled Mileage: 30
Actual Mileage: 29.5

We are fortunate.

I suspect that most folks watching the news in the US is aware of the big Angora Fire burning up in Lake Tahoe. It's been a nasty little bugger - jumping the occasional fire break and generally doing quite a bit of damage.

I heard today that good friends of ours have lost their cabin. It's gone. Burned.

Recognizing that most people are happy to have one home, and that the ability to have a "vacation home" up in a beautiful area is a luxury, it's still absolutely heart-wrenching to hear this news.

We (hubby and me) are also fortunate enough to have a place to get away to on the weekends and I often complain bitterly about having to "throw away" a weekend by spending it raking, hauling and otherwise disposing of deadfall and needles around the property. It's really quite a lot of work and I'm glad to see the back of it when we're done. Let's just say I'll likely complain a bit less when we do the deed next year.

This week has been a really pisser. The death of one of my husband's employees about 7000 miles from home, the death of a colleague's beloved puppy, the loss of dear friend's home - I'm sure hoping that the old saw, "everything comes in threes" is indeed true so that I can be DONE with this mess.

So, all things being equal, I realize that my life is pretty darned good. I'm quite fiercely in love with the man I married, my job is interesting and pays well, I have a group of friends that would give me the shirt off their backs if I needed it and I'm healthy enough to run a marathon. I've traveled, gone to University (twice) and live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

I won't say that I'll no longer complain or feel "put upon" at times. I will, however, promise that I will step back and realize how lucky I am on a semi-regular basis. Right now, I'm gonna go buy some yarn for a pair of socks and give them to Shawna. I think she needs some cheering-up.

By the way .. I DID IT!

I mentioned in my post last Friday (marking the onslaught of the weekend without knitting - which was true, by the way) that I was about to embark upon an amazing journey. Obviously, based on the title of this post, I was successful. However, I'll go one step farther and say that I learned a lot not only about how to be an Instructor, but also about myself - as a person.

The class was really exhausting, but way more so mentally than physically. We spend the weekend doing impromptu presentations (3 minutes Saturday morning, 6 minutes Saturday afternoon and then 25 minutes on Sunday morning) covering the Laws. I consider myself to be a pretty good speaker, and also an "ok" instructor, so I'm confident that bringing those skills to the class put me on a very firm footing. What I wasn't prepared for was realizing that I am *not* like everyone else.

(Treading carefully, here - they don't call it an ego trip for nothing)

Growing up, I was the smart kid. Yeah, I got 100% on all the tests, blew the curves for the rest of the class, and genuinely ENJOYED learning. School (the academic part, anyway) was really wonderful for me. This was true all the way through high school and even in to the first few years of college. I got a bit dose of reality when I took subjects I really had to study for (this was even more true when I went for my Master's Degree and realized I'd forgot Calculus) but I still knew that book-learnin' just isn't that hard for me.

I just never realized that the same is true for teaching. There were a few people in the class that just clearly didn't get it. Even worse, one of those people had a background that would lead you to believe he should have excelled at this stuff. But honestly, folks just weren't getting it. For me, however, I just was able to sit down and DO this stuff (or stand up, as the case may be). I was confident, smiling, and able to deliver just the message I wanted to deliver - and made people WANT to listen to me. I'd been told before that I'm good at this, I'd just never SEEN it before. Wow.

So, where does this leave me? I'll say that I now feel I have a duty to share this - and also to do more of this. When I was up in front of the class, I was JUICED. It took a lot out of me (amazingly, I'm actually a rather shy person) but it really was fun! Better still, the instructors (one was stellar, the other also needs work) were genuinely excited to get me up in front of students. And, the best part of all - I get to replace some folks that I just KNOW are not very good.

Finally, I'm going to have a real impact on this stuff. Refereeing is such a wonderful thing for me and has given me so much joy (as well as heartbreak, BTW); I'm just tickled to know that I'll have the opportunity to do for some other person what my instructors have done for me.

God - I hope I'm up to it. Actually, I am up to it. Go, me. GO!

O. My. God.

I've been doing it wrong. Wrong! This explains everything. This makes frogging back the whole darned Bella Blouse and the Clapotis ok. I had a feeling that things weren't right, but I didn't understand.

This showed me what the problem was.

I'm a "continental" knitter and it took me a long time to figure out the right way to knit. Turns out that for a long time I was knitting into the back of the loop (ktbl) which made me very confused the first time I hit a "twisted rib". Huh? What do you mean, "back loop". Wierd.

I also did almost everything circularly and with yarn that didn't really let me see the fabric. On this blouse, and with the cotton yarn, it's OBVIOUS that one stitch was twisted. Then again, the same was true with the scarf, but I was in denial (did I mention I'm half way through?!). Then I stumbled on this wonderful blog with a PICTURE!

I'm crushed now that I know I'm wrong. Then again, maybe this is all for the best - but it's certain that I'll be ... slower. Geez. That's not really the kind of help I needed. :-)

I'm gonna rip out the Bella Blouse and the Clapotis. It's the right thing to do - and I'm also probably going to do something else with the Sea Silk anyway. Not everything is a disaster ... right?

Bless you Techknitter. Really.

Bizz Johnson Week 4

Last week was not a banner week. I've got some making up to do but I think that's doable. I'll run after work tonight and tomorrow is guaranteed (running club + shopping - what could be better?) I've also got a 1/2 marathon on the calendar for Saturday, so I should be in good shape overall. Stay tuned.

Monday - Cross Training actual: 7

Lordy, it's still hot out here. Then again, because I live on the Peninsula, I get to reap the benefits of "microclimates". The in-dash thermometer said 86 when I left Cupertino, was up to 91 by the time I hit Los Altos (and The Dish was on fire!!!) but was back down to a civilized 72 when I got to Crystal Springs Reservoir. Tonight's run was penance for yesterday. I even turned a respectable time.

Tuesday - Run 3 miles actual: 0

Hubby needed me more yesterday than Bizz. He's still mopping up the mess from the weekend and dealing with co-workers that are absolutely devastated. The company is doing some things right, but it's also doing a lot of things WRONG (IMO, of course). So, we went for a nice walk around the neighborhood and ended up at a local sushi place for dinner. Heck, I probably saved us in excess of $200 by not going to the run. ;-)

Wednesday - Run 6 miles actual: 6

If this dish is open, that's where I go. If not, then it's likely Rancho. Regardless, I'm running tonight. The dish was specifically *NOT* open, and it's "closed until further notice" per the Stanford web page. Bummer. My run today was around the neighborhood and on one of my favorite, mindless loops. Regardless, it got done.

Thursday - Run 3 miles actual: 0

Farmer's Market, good bread, 'nuff said.

Friday - Rest actual: 3.5

Quick jaunt around the work place before heading over to pick up Chris at work. It was somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, so I'll just mark it down as 3.5. Man - it's HUMID today!

Saturday - Pace Run 6 miles actual: 6.2

Did some exploring about the cabin today - found out that the GPS isn't as good as I'd like it to be in terms of keeping signal, but that there are BEAUTIFUL fire roads and stuff where I hadn't ventured before. We're rarely up long enough for me to really run around, but today was that day. Did what I needed to do to keep on the regimen, but I was a bit worried setting up for Sunday ...

Sunday - Run 11 miles actual: 13

Today was the annual Hernia Hill 1/2 Marathon in beautiful Murphys, CA. The run has one KILLER hill (hence the "hernia bit") and is also always quite hot. The temp was around 70 when we started and was definitely above 80 by the time we finished. Regardless, it was beautiful (as always) and hubby ran the 10K, so it was a true family event. Two beers and an age-group 3rd place finish later, I was passed out on the couch for a ~2h nap. That time of 1:56:andchange is a keeper. And I'm glad to have that one behind me for the year.

Total Scheduled Mileage: 29
Actual Mileage: 35.7

A weekend without knitting

Can it be true? Can it be done? Unfortunately, I have NO CHOICE.

This weekend is dedicated to my other (third?) all-consuming hobby - Soccer Referee. I've been addicted to this since the World Cup back in 2002. I enjoy telling the story of late nights (drifting off only to re-awaken, bleary-eyed, to the image of Bruce Arena in the press booth), early mornings (stop yelling or you'll wake the baby!) and the loss of one *very good* bottle of wine all combining to make me think, "Huh. Maybe this is the way I get in to a referee outfit." I sent an email to my local AYSO Region and the rest is history.

I've got a three goals this season - all of which, I think, are achievable. After 5 full seasons running around with teams from U-little all the way up to amateur men's, it's time for me to get serious and really test myself. While two of my three goals have to wait until the Fall season to get started (more on that in August, or so), my first one gets underway tonight.

I want to be a USSF Referee Instructor.

Yup, I want to make more of me. I want more WOMEN referees. After two Mechanical Engineering degrees and more than 15 years in the "real world", I can hold my own with pretty much any group of guys. However, the fact that I'm looking around the conference room table and I'm the only one in a skirt (Utilikilts are more prevalent at Apple than at my current place of employ) is a wee bit disheartening. I get that same "darn" feeling looking around the referee shack/tent/tree as well. There are not enough of us - and whether I want to be or not, I'm a role model for the youngers coming up. If they see me, maybe they'll be more confident. Also, with an Instructor Certificate, my opportunity to mentor and guide young women expands.

So - I'm heading off to a weekend of Laws, presentations, techniques and assessments that will (hopefully) turn me into an Associate Referee Instructor. And, given that classes run from 9a -6p every day, with a ~40 minute commute, and homework to prepare presentations and the like, I don't think I'll get to knit. Heck I'm hoping to have time to run!

Tonight is the State Referee Exam (this also helps meet goal #2) - and I need a score of 85% to pass. Wish me luck, everyone!

Restlessness ...

Apparently I'm not the only one that needs to have "something new" on a regular basis. One of my favorite knitbloggers, Grumperina, writes here that even though she's got a wealth of interesting things on the needles, she's searching for something more. As you can see from my sidebar, I've also got quite a few things on the needles (though I secretly started another thing yesterday!) and I do go back and forth on all of them.

There are two projects that I haven't looked at for MONTHS - specifically the two sweaters. I blame that on season (it's getting hotter, not cooler) and also shifting interests. Small, ~1w projects have become more interesting since I have a hard time finding large blocks of time to knit. That means I need to be able to see regular progress in order to stay interested - so smaller is better. The Under Cover Club blanket has been perfect for this since a square knits up in a few hours and then I'm done for the month. The sock KALs are also nice - like a salad bar. I can knit the pattern of the month or wait for the next one without feeling too guilty.

I'm going to be more mindful of why it is that I have the semi-regular need to cast on something new before finishing the old. I suspect the new project resulted from the bit of "tentativeness" I'm currently feeling about the Bella Blouse and whether I'll need to frog that baby back. I'm not sure I'm happy with the size, and I'm also not sure that knitting it in the round was the smartest idea. There's some wierd stuff going on with my purling that I can't figure out (am I purling WRONG!?!?) and the fear of the unknown is a bit ... well ... paralyzing. I suspect that's it. Discouragement due to a mistake.

Huh. Maybe this will get me to swatch.

Or maybe not. ;-)

Bella - or maybe, Bell-ish ...

Brief update on my work on the Bella Blouse from this month's Interweave Knits web-only pattern. I made good use of driving and lunch hours to finish all of non-body embellishments: specifically the bottom band, both sides of the v-neck and both sleeve caps. Overall, once I'd get started in the pattern, it was very simple to leave the chart behind and just knit away. That allowed me to finish this stuff in record time. Everything got blocked yesterday.

Some interesting things to note, however, that have made the pattern more challenging than I expected.

1. Very poor directions for blocking these pieces.

In almost all cases, I've had to infer the sizes of these pieces. Other than the sleeve caps, no dimensions are given to block these parts in to shape. By looking at the drawings and reading the pattern, I've decided that the bottom band should be 3" x 40" (relatively straightforward) but I've had to totally guess at the v-neck inserts. I settled on 4" x 12 3/4" - here's hoping that's ok.

2. The k3tog stitch is ridiculous.

Given this weight of yarn, and also the size of the needles, there's no way that this stitch would work. I happily settled on the s2k1psso alternative that gives me a centered decrease (thanks Jane Sowerby!) but to even imagine that this would work is amazing to me! I'd love to hear from the pattern editors how easy it was for them to complete this stitch - and what needles they were using.

3. There's no right and left sleeve cap.

The patters for the v-neck are different depending on which side you're knitting. Makes perfect sense. However, this reversal wasn't executed for the sleeve caps - and I wonder why. Is it because they're deemed less visible? It'll clearly have the leaves running the same way in on both sides as opposed to running opposite directions like the neck. There's enough yarn leftover so that I could knit another insert after trying to flip the pattern (the neck pattern would serve as an excellent guide) but I don't know if I want to go to the trouble yet.

Anyway, I'm currently knitting away on the body of the sweater and doing it in the round rather than as a front and back piece. Again, the recommended construction method just seems odd given that the bottom border is knit all in one piece ... that'd make for *really* wierd seaming. I'm going through the yarn for the body like no body's business - though I'm sure I'll have enough as gauge is right on and the requirements for the embellishments was also accurate. I don't think I like the body yarn as much (might be scratchy) but the colors are gorgeous. Pix later today when I have time.

Bizz Johnson Week 3

Ah, Week 3. This is technically a "step down" week, but I'll use it for maintenance. Lots of easy runs with something a bit longer over the weekend. Next weekend is the 1/2 Marathon in Murphy's and I've got Referee Instructor Training all weekend, so the shortened distance is actually a good thing. I'll need to be "nose to the grindstone" on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday if I have a hope of pulling this off, tho. This weekend will be a lost cause otherwise ...

Monday - Cross Training

Maybe I should change this to "cross stitching". Another Monday by the wayside ...

Tuesday - Run 3 miles actual: 5

Ran a nice 5 miles around the neighborhood. A hill (or three) and a beautiful afternoon powered me through. Definitely a triumph of will-power as I almost napped on the couch instead!

Wednesday - Run 5 miles actual: 6.5

Stanford! Hooray! It was a beautiful day on campus and up at the dish. This run was a standard for years (before my running partner had a baby and dropped me like a bad habit *smile*). Now that it's back on my drive home, it's nice to know it's available. We used to do this run in ~50 minutes, which is pretty good given the profile. I am not wearing a watch yet since I really don't want to know about times. Right now, it's all about mileage.

Thursday - Run 3 miles actual: 0

total failure. I didn't run. :-(

Friday - Rest actual: 3.5

Nice 3.5 mile run in my work environs (got hassled by a cranky fat man who has way too much time on his hands) - a little longer than planned 'cause I got lost!

Saturday - Pace Run 5 miles actual:

Nada. Didnt' get home from class until 10p. That, plus essentially no lunch makes running hard. Did I mention I was up at 6a the next day?

Sunday - Run 6 miles actual: 0

Nothing. Spent the afternoon helping my husband deal with a subordinate that died on a business trip to India. He needed me more than my marathon did ...

Total Scheduled Mileage: 22
Actual Mileage: 15 (that's not great ...)

It's here! IT'S HERE!!!!!

On what has easily been the hottest day of the year, my wonderful Coffee Swap package arrived! I've been waiting ever so patiently (NOT) for this to arrive ... dreaming of yarn and coffee and other wonderful treats. Who knew that my swap partner Jenni would do such a wonderful job! Ok, start at the beginning.

I arrived home from work to find this on the doorstep - albeit out of the sun, but definitely languishing in the heat. Doesn't it look innocent? I'm terribly impressed by the detailed blow-by-blow list of the contents (no no ... no peeking for you!). Let's just say that I wasn't quite as detailed. Not like I was worried about customs or anything ... no, no. Not me. Ok - rather than heading in to the steaming house, let's head over to the backyard (better light!) where there's a little bit of a breeze to open the package.

Wow. A gift box! For those that headed over to Jenni's blog, you'll see that I was not quite so together. I recycled a box from a previous escapade and just crammed it full of goodies. "Enjoy!" Check. I'll have a good time with this one. Coffee colored ribbon ... beautiful paper ... gee!

Oh my goodness! Look at all this stuff! Yarn and coffee and balm and chocolate (uh, oh - remember I said it was really hot today?) and an espresso tumbler and a cool pen (that's going straight in to the project bag) as well as notes about the coffee and even a little "coffee and cream" coaster for the espresso cup. Amazing! Ok, let's have a look at some of this a bit more closely ...

The most important bit - the coffee. One each of a Kenya Peaberry (a single berry variety with a fruity flavor and mild acidity) and Granite City Blend (since Aberdeen is, after all, the Granite City!) If only it weren't so warm, there'd be a shot of this in the espresso maker already - and straight into the beautiful espresso tumbler she included!

Badger Sore Muscle Rub ... I think she's been reading about my turned ankle and marathon training! It says right on the label "rub it in ... you deserve it!" I sure do! Nestled right there in the background is a skein of Colinette Jitterbug yarn in the "Monet" colourway! I absolutely *adore* this yarn. One skein is enough for a pair of socks - now the only question is what to knit?

This is amazing. A ball of a wool/cashmere/silk yarn that is both undyed and unbleached. The farm from which this hails raises only rare-breed sheep in an effort to preserve them. The pamphlet says that there's a "crimp" in this yarn - I'm not sure what I'll do with this, perhaps the ladies at the knitting club will have some suggestions! It knits as a DK, so there might be enough for mitts ... particularly if I combine it with another yarn. So many possibilities!

Remember how I mentioned that it was hot? Like, 94F hot? The MacBeans are currently in the refrigerator - hopefully they'll regenerate into something more than just a mass of chocolate ... but then again, I'll enjoy it anyway! It'll be a nice treat after cooking dinner tonight.

Finally, there's also a pen as well as a wonderful recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes to go with everything. My goodness! My cup and stash overfloweth! Thanks, Jenni, for such a wonderful gift box.