Category Archives: real life miscellaney

From the field

Last Saturday I grabbed some knitting friends for some knitting photography over in Toronto. It was tres fun. I put a couple of upcoming designs on Emily (you’ll see ‘em in the new year, I’m already impatient) who willingly modelled, and Jane snapped the pictures. Then Emily grabbed a few of her own sweaters that she’d finished for a while and needed project photos of, and just then a Segway tour rolled up in the background. It was fantastic.

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So now, the best part of all of this is that now Emily has these great Finished Object photos on her Ravelry project page with this attentive tour group in the background. You just can’t make this up.

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And then we bought some chocolate. The end.

Nov19-SOMA

Happy knitting today!

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Worlds colliding

I am thinking now with fond thoughts on the weekend – it was a pretty great one, as weekends go. Despite being a bit weary post-move, I got to dash off to the big city again and spend the weekend with various friends – all knitterly, and friendly in many ways. Lisa put me up for the weekend and she had decided we needed kick things off with a visit to the local tea shop that was doing an afternoon tea in celebration of the Royal Wedding. (Was that just Friday? It feels like years ago now. Also: still grappling with the fact that Camilla is one day going to be Queen Camilla. Just seems somehow odd. Thanks Wikipedia reading on the Royals! The more you know…)

Apr29-Tea

May3-FrolicPurchases

Saturday, though, was the Knitter’s Frolic marketplace day hosted annually by the Downtown Toronto Knit Collective. I made out moderately bandit-like, though only partly via purchases. I spent a bit, as might be expected. A japanese stitch dictionary came home with me, along with these lovely skeins from Van Der Rock Yarns (the bright green ‘gypsum’ sock) and Indigodragonfly Yarns (the other 3 – mix of sparkly, merino/cashmere, and merino). It was a pretty leisurely few hours, and had some down-time waiting for Lisa to finish her class before driving back downtown, so I ended up chatting with a few people for a while. That was a nice change of pace from the rush and crush that often happens at these events. And lucky me, I also came back with a few skeins for designing with, as well as a lovely gift. Knitter and runner friend Kathy (who is also going to be running the Wellington Women’s Half Marathon in June, in Ontario), generously sewed me up a sparkly fun running skirt (mine was purple, hers pink – we will do the girly event in frivolous and possibly sarcastic style). And when I went to hand her back the bag that she’d put it in, she refused and said “no no, all that’s for you, too.” Lo and behold, I now own a lovely new sock project bag and a skein of fun chunky handspun. Thanks, Kathy!

May3-FrolicGifts

And speaking of knitters who are also runners, I got to round out the weekend with the Toronto Sportinglife 10k race on Sunday morning. It was pretty darned huge, and a bit jostly-crowded at times, but I’m happy with my time and it was a good run. Fellow knitter-runner (and new racer, despite being several minutes faster than me, darn her) Dr. Steph was there too, and we met up at the beginning and end and then later for post-race burgers and beer. I think that’s the best part, is the finishing and cheering afterwards. Here we are about 15 minutes after finishing, doing our best not to shiver in the cool-down chills under the Toronto grey skies.

May1-10kMeandSteph

I am now working on Steph to do a half-marathon with me. I will win her over, I am sure of it, especially now that she has felt the glee of race-finishing.

Right now my possessions are in a transitional state, as I rearrange and organize, and my knitting is in a similar phase. I need to get some Finished Object photos in there for my Dusseldorf Aran (thank you for asking about it, friendly readers!) and start some new things. I’m thinking about a pair of sparkly Viper Pilots, since so many other folks have done it sounds like a good plan. And how can sparkly distracting things be bad, I ask you?

Until next time, dear knitters! Keep the yarn close by.

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Filed under knitting in public, real life miscellaney, running

Like Interests

I have been thinking a lot lately about running. This is partly because it’s spring now (officially, at least, even if the weather is still catching up one step at a time), and also because I go through periods (like now-ish) of latching onto new challenges and projects for goal-setting. This is also one of the many reasons I love knitting – it gives me projects to work on and finish. I may not know for sure what my employment situation will be in a few months, but by gar I know what knitting I’d like to work on, and I know races I’ll be running in the spring and fall. (Toronto Sportinglife 10k on May 1st, Wellington women’s half marathon in June, Edmonton half-marathon in August, and the MCM 10k in DC in October, for anyone curious. Ah-yep, that’ll be a fun year to train for). It’s also one of the best kinds of stress relief I’ve got at my disposal. It’s a lot harder to work up the energy to be stressed if you’ve just come back from an hour or more of running.

Mar20-Steeking5

I’ve also reached a point with my running where I can start to re-define my own version of crazy. Last year, my first half marathon was just crazy enough. This year, one is not enough, I need more crazy than that. This weekend I also started reading this book by this guy. and realized that actually, my version of crazy is is truly on my own scale. When you read about a guy who ran 50 marathons in 50 days and not only lived to tell the tale but finished #50 faster and healthier than #1, well. That’ll make you stop and think a bit about what qualifies as “too hard” or “impossible”.

Mar20-Steeking3

Reading him explain about his running and why challenges like running long distances is something people sign up for voluntarily actually resonates a lot with why I love knitting and challenging myself with yarnly mediums. Nobody’s forcing us to do this, we take it on ourselves because it speaks to us in a way that other hobbies or mindful pursuits don’t, and like running, it’s hard to ever see the bottom of it. There is always more of it out there to do. And i often struggle with running the same way I struggle with knitting – going through periods of reminding myself why I like it, finding new technique or new ways of balancing it into my life, reminding myself to compete only with myself instead of against others.

Mar20-Steeking4

And if you stick with running long enough, you realize that yes, it does get hard, but that’s OK because even when it’s hard it can still feel good. I often desperately wish I was a faster runner, but that’s the same thing that makes me feel better when I try a harder run and do a bit better than I did the week before.

So, anyhow, on the weekend I taught another class on steeking, and had an awesome time with it as usual, and found myself thinking a lot of these same things. Yes, colour-work can be a challenging technique to learn. And yes, steeking (cutting up your knitting on purpose), can be a challenging concept to wrap your brain around and can require a leap of faith that it will actually work out. But that doesn’t mean these things aren’t fun. If you ask me, they’re some of the most fun you can have with your knitting. Steeking is one of the few knitting techniques that appears impressive to both knitters and non-knitters – one of the times when you can say “SEE LOOK WHAT I DID!” and non-knitters will be just as impressed with it as you are.

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Not everyone is going to feel called to sign up for a bunch of running races and train for them (but if you do, kudos, and let’s be buds), but if you’re a knitter you can’t deny that this is a leisure pursuit that will give you as many challenges as you want, and reward you just as often as you try them. I was once a person who didn’t think she could run a half-marathon. I was once a person who was intimidated by cables and didn’t understand how they worked. I can’t say either of these things any more. I wonder what new things I’ll be able to say about my knitting in the coming year? I’m going to do my best to keep it not boring, that’s for sure.

Mar20-Steeking7

I hope you find some new knitting challenges this week! And I hope your yarn is waiting for you at the end of the day.

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Interim

I’m long overdue for some blogging time, and it’s been a scattered last week or two. Since we last met over here, I’ve been keeping my fair share of busy, no worries there!

1. I ran a 5k race last Sunday, my first race of 2011 and a good kick in the pants to get into gear with my running training. Since then I have been scurrying back to my running literature and am contemplating spring training plans. This year I’ll do two half marathons and two 10k races if all goes according to plan. (one each in the spring, then fall).

2. The fact that I actually scaled this plan back from 3 halfs and 3 10ks is probably an indication of my nuttiness not being confined only to knitting. (As for my actual finishing times…hoping for some improvement, but we’ll see how it all goes. Continued and dedicated training is the plan).

3. Since the calendar ticked over to March a little switch flipped in my brain and now all I can think of is how soon will the weather catch up, ditch the ice and snow, and let me take my bike out for a tune-up. I’ve been a winter pedestrian for long enough and am itching to get the wheels out again.

4. I’ve also been counting down the remaining number of weeks of lecture-writing and assignment-grading, make no mistake. This is both encouraging and depressing, since the end of said period will also usher in an unemployed state of existence, so. That’s fun.

5. Knitting design work continues apace, and right now I’m scurrying away to get my selection finished for Tanis’ yarn club. (Which you can still sign up for at any time of the year, BTW. Not that I’m enabling you or anything.)

6. I also finished another pair of ribbed socks to add to the sock drawer. They’re very comfy and serviceable, and I’d be happy to show them off if i hadn’t forgotten my photo-card reader at home. D’oh.

7. This means I have a gap in the “portable sock project” area, and feel that a new pair of Jaywalkers is nigh. I’m torn between various Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock colourways in my stash, (gothic Vampire Tea Party, or soothing Montrose? sock yarn battle! who will win! Film at 11!) and also reminded yet again how much I love my stash. It’s there for me when I need it.

8. I got laid flat end of last week with some kind of cold/flu that sapped my energy and fogged up my brain and I very much do not recommend. It sucked the life out of me so much I didn’t even feel like knitting. It’s a pretty sucky day indeed when I have no energy to knit. (Just a little tip from me to you: don’t get sick.)

9. Would you like a fun YouTube video to look at? I think you should look at this one. And find a fun song to play for your Monday.

More blog happenings soon, folks! I hope your knitting is waiting happily for you at the end of the day.

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A special FO 5 months in the works

After many months of training, much insecurity, and lots of stubbornness, yesterday I ran my first Half Marathon, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon event.

It was hard, but good, and I would/will do it again.

HMmedal

A Half Marathon is 13.1 miles or 21 km, as compared to the full Marathon which is 26.2 miles or 42 km. I don’t mind saying that I am sufficiently buoyed by my finish to try the Half again, but that the Marathon is indeed a level of commitment above the Half. Full Marathoners, I salute you. But thanks for letting us Half-ers join the party.

Sept26-HMfinish

The final kilometre was, I also don’t mind saying, the best kilometre I have ever run in my life. I would like to do it again, please.

Sept26-PostRace

And thanks to my friends and sister who were waiting at the end. It was great to have someone there to celebrate with.

Over the last few days I’ve heard a lot of people using the word “crazy” to refer to this kind of stuff. And I don’t have disrespect for that, because you know, it is sort of crazy. There is no immediate practical reason for anybody to do anything like this – let alone the FULL Marathon which is something that tests the physical limits of what the human body is capable of. (although I do think the benefits of running and distance training are many, but they accrue and are apparent in the long term) But I don’t think it’s any less crazy than any other mindful pursuit or commitment. We are all of us doing our own version of crazy. And I’ll say this much – running and then crossing a finish line, after any distance, is one of the most rewarding things I think I have ever done, and I think as many people as possible should have the benefit of that experience.

Today, my legs are tired, but I am glad to have finished. And I have the shiny finisher’s medal to prove it! Let’s do it again some time.

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There and back

I spent this past weekend on a family trip to Edmonton, for the occasion of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. There was much visiting, and of course a party with several relatives – most of my relatives from my father’s side of the family still live in that area. It was a pretty good time, and Grandpa is doing very well as a 95-year-old. Let’s all try to be so lucky, no?

June14-Cake

June14-Family

We managed to sneak in some time to visit some yarn shops – namely, River City Yarns, which has two locations. I’d looked up the Downtown location, and we visited there first, only to discover that the South side location was actually infinitely closer to my aunt’s house, and so we visited that spot too.

June14-RiverCityDowntown2

The two locations have some stock in common but differ in others. I think I liked the South location a bit more, purely for yarn selection purposes (I was rather taken by the Lorna’s Laces selection, and the beautiful displays of Louet yarns), but staff in both locations were friendly and helpful.

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June14-RiverCitySouth2

While in Edmonton I managed to knit sock #1 of the pair I’m working on for my grandfather (2.5mm needles, 76 sts, for a man’s Size 12 foot – erk), and I’ll carry on with that this week along with the Bridgewater shawl, which happily now has a complete garter stitch section for the middle.

Onwards with the week! Happy knitting as usual.

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Ticky Boxes

Thank you all very much for your comments on my last post, I appreciate them bunches. In the short term I know rationally that nothing is really that terribly dire, even if the part of my brain that would like there to be a firm and predictable long term is gurgling in self-doubt. I will spend a bit of time trying to come up with some next steps and I at least have lots of knitting to keep busy with. And I can use the rest of my time to work on a bit of writing. And blogging. And designing things. And training to run a half-marathon in September. Or, possibly trying to learn the choreography to Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies video. You know, whichever.

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But since there is thankfully still knitting to be done, and human beings to interact with in the outside world, I met up yesterday with a few of the lovely ladies from Canadian Living, as I have been working on another project with them for an upcoming issue. One of the ladies in the group, Tina, has a system to keep track of instructions in knitting patterns whereby, if the pattern reads “Do this step 8 times”, or whatever it is, she then writes 8 little blank ticky-boxes on the pattern instructions sheet and ticks them off every time she does the step. It is so brilliant I am starting to think of other ways to apply this to my general existence.

It also reminded me of the fact that everyone, probably you included, has their own system to manage this sort of thing. After I designed Ivy I had a lot of people (still do occasionally) emailing me to ask me to explain the “at the same time” instruction: the instruction that indicates that, while you work the side shaping and then later the armhole shaping on one edge of the front piece, on the other edge of the piece you are working neckline shaping “at the same time.” It took me a while before I started to clue in that what some people were truly asking me was for me to tell them what system they were supposed to use to track this. After that I started suggesting things – check marks on the pattern page, stitch markers on the WIP itself. You could line up sets of jelly beans in different colours and eat them as you go, it really doesn’t matter. You can find your own system that works and still get the intended result.

So, I will now go off in search of my own life-organization version of ticky boxes. This should be interesting.

Happy knitting!

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Ok go

Having a bit of a down week this week, my internet friends. My current job contract is ending and is not being renewed, I was not selected for the other job I applied for on the same campus, and I am in general feeling a lack of awesome.

Just to kick me when I’m down, I’m having trouble discovering my next knitting direction and new project inspiration is taking a bit longer to find me than usual. I’ll get there.

In the mean time, I will keep knitting this garter stitch lace weight, and eventually the garter stitch lace weight will be finished, and then I will knit something else.

I hope things are well in your corners of the world, dear knitters. Squeeze a skein or two of yarn for me.

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Tales of the Slightly Crazy Yet Practical

For the last year or so (I know it’s been a year because I remember when I started, it was Roll Up the Rim time, and so it is again now, how’s that for a bit of Canadiana?) I have been doing a little ongoing experiment.

It all started one week at the end of winter last year when in the span of a few days I found several coins on the sidewalk. And I decided that the logical thing to do was to go on picking up money I found on the street, and see how much it would add up to. Pure curiosity mingled with my pack-rat tendencies – plus, money. How can you argue with finding money? (Before anyone asks…I’m not in the habit of picking up other things I find on the street. The ‘Hoarders’ film crew can hold off for the moment.)

Anyhow, it turns out that if you do this regularly, and pick up every little coin you find on the ground while going about your day, after a year you’ll have nearly $14.00 altogether.

A Year's Worth of Coins 2

I don’t know if this counts as “a lot” of money or “not very much” money, for a year’s efforts. But I do know that this is all money that was just sitting on the ground. For this little experiment to be possible means that we are, collectively, quite literally throwing our money away by letting coins sit all over the place gathering dirt and rain and footsteps.

The interesting thing in my mind, is that while you’d think that this would add up to mostly pennies – and about 150 of the coins in this pile are indeed pennies – in fact there are about 50 dimes in here as well, along with a few nickels, quarters, “Loonies” (Canadian $1 coins), and even a “Toonie” (Canadian $2 coin).

Poor beat up pennies

It’s also pretty clear to me that of all our poor coins, the pennies (one cent pieces) take the most beating. I’ve rescued these little darlings out of seams in the road, scooped them up from curbsides, and can now recognize their familiar copper gleam from several paces away. (Experiments like this have super crazy side-results.)

There are a fair number of American pennies in here, too, something which I think speaks to how fluidly people in this half of North America deal with other North American currency. Nobody around here bats an eyelash if an American coin slips into your chance, we circulate them like normal cash. I’ve never seen anybody treat Canadian coins like that outside of Canada, that’s for sure. [Edit: notes in the comments reveal this not to be the same experience - thanks, 'Murricans that will accept Canadian coins and not blink twice!]

A Year's Worth of Coins

On the one hand, it might seem a little odd to be caring about picking up coins off the ground when, after a year, the relative total adds up to about the same as the price of a half-decent lunch. But in my mind the even stranger thing is why people don’t do this more often. Dudes, if every Canadian (there are about 35 Million of us) rescued $14.00 off the ground every year, we could fricking well save the economy. Just sayin’.

Or at the very least we’d all get a free lunch.

When’s the last time you found a bit of money? Keep me company on this Tuesday, won’t you? And keep the knitting close by.

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The State of Things

It’s busy times around here at Knitting to Stay Sane, both in the “real” non-knitting world and in knitting goings-on. Things I Am Up To include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Enjoying daydreaming about being back at the nice weekend I spent in the company of knitters, wherein I crammed in all the relaxation and knitting time I didn’t manage to get in over my actual break week.

2. Kicking myself for forgetting to bring my camera with me for said weekend. (It’s the classic problem that comes of switching over to a different handbag).

3. Contemplating approximately eleventy million design ideas at various stages of execution. (ranging from the “post-it note above desk” phase, to the “bookmarks in stitch dictionaries and yarn strewn about the house” phase, and even to the “prototype is half-done” phase. It’s good times.)

4. Wondering exactly what this Socks That Rock (“never on sunday” colourway) is playing at when it gives me spirally swooshes on one sock, and almost entirely vertical lines on the second sock:

Mar1-Socks

5. Playing the mental game of “how many papers do I have left to grade” vs. “feasibility/suitability of trying to get them all done in the next 48 hours.” (You can only play this at advanced levels.)

6. Realizing that daylight hours are growing longer every day, and that getting up in the morning actually no longer happens in the pitch darkness anymore. Thank goodness.

7. Daydreaming about knitting. Right now.

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