Saturday, August 25, 2012

Race Update

Yesterday I took the train up to the city to walk the Giants Race course so I could get a look at any hills, weather, and a good place for my friends and family to see me.

I took the Caltrain up to the city because parking is a pain up there and it would allow me extra knitting time. When I'm doing a lot of walking I like to have a plain knit sock with my and a messenger bag that can fit everything and the yarn in it.

Travel knitting before leaving

I set off with my knitting, snacks, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on my iPod, and got off the train a few blocks from the starting point of the race:

Starting point

Walking along the pier I was really surprised at how nice it was. I even got a little sunburned on my arms and was really happy that I'm in the habit of putting sun block on my face, because otherwise I'd be red as a lobster. The only thing that sucked was the wind once I'd started walking the curve of the city that that takes you from the peninsula to the mouth of the bay. This is also where all the tourists are and it is hard to walk with a purpose through the crowds there. I did do some research and checked out prices for some stuff Anna and I want to do though.

Eventually I made it past the touristy areas and to the thing I was seeking out, Fort Mason. It is actually the hill that I wanted to take a look at because it rises over 100 ft in a little under a tenth of a mile.

This is the start. It gets steeper as it
wraps around and keeps going up 
I walked up the hill really quickly and made the decision that if I powered through it I would be fine. The other side of the hill has much less of a slope to it and as long as I control my speed running down each side (and not fall on my face) I have nothing to worry about.

Turns out that Fort Mason was the only real hill on the course and I'm really greatful we're not running Van Ness which I walked back on shortly after hitting up Greenwich Yarns (only took me 4 blocks out of my way).

I also decided that near the end of the race was where my family should see me run and we'd meet at the usual place for an after run snack:

Happy Donuts across the street from AT&T Park rocks!
The walk took me a total of 4 hours (including stop for yarn and getting lost once) and I have 3.5 hours to run the race. I learned a few other things along the way too. I need to wear my running socks when I walk that far first off. I had a blister the size of my thumb when I got home. Though wearing my ankle weights seemed like a good idea when I set off, the pain they were causing around mile 5 gave me new perspective into my pain tolerance and has set the bar higher. I also learned that even my undergarments play a role in that much physical activity.

By the end of the walk I was looking forward to getting on the train and decided to forgo lunch because I knew if I sat down that it would be hard to get up. Walking down the stairs from the second story of the train was really hard, and then the walk home was something I'd rather not think of.

I know my iPod ran out of battery, I napped on the train and this is how far the knitting got:

Sock that is made from my self striping
Tardis yarn which was the last yarn in the
Dr Who club!

Now I'm sitting in my chair with heat on my knees and ice on the weak ankle to make sure they will be alright tomorrow for work.

I know I can do it, it just will not be easy (which I kind of knew already).

PS. I'm still $90 from my minimum so any donations, even $1, are greatly appreciated! Thanks to all the knitters that have helped raise me this far already! You all rock and tomorrow there will be a giveaway!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christmas - Phase 3 - The Projects

This is the phase that is the hardest. I usually get a wicked bout of startitis when in this phase, but we all have to hold off until we have finalized the list.

First you should have a list of people that are knit worthy, and what you would like to make them.

Now go onto Ravelry and start sorting through the patterns to find something that is just right for each person on your list. It sounds so simple right? Wrong.

Ravelry makes all of us want to cast on every single thing on the site! I usually start with my queue to see if I have already picked out something for someone, then my favourites, and if there is nothing in either I dive into the patterns library and look through hundreds of patterns till I find something just right!

Next list what size to make, needle size, type of yarn and colors you need for each project. Your list should look something like this:

Who Item Pattern Yarn needed Needle Size Size Color
Mom Silk Mittens Basic Four Needle Mittens 4 oz Silk Hankies check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Purple
JM Silk Mittens Basic Four Needle Mittens 4 oz Silk Hankies check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Green
Dad Gryffindor Socks Basic Socks 4 oz Dyed Self Striping check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Red and Gold
Grandma P Giant's Socks Basic Socks 4 oz Dyed Self Striping check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Orange and Black
Grandma Jane Blanket Leaves of Grass 4 skeins Fingerling Cream 4US DPN 6US circ N/A Natural
Aunt Lee Blanket Girasole 3 skeins Fisherman's Wool 10US circs – 2 sets N/A Natural
Aunt Bobby Shawlette Lazy Daisy Shawlette 300 yds DK 7US circ N/A Lt Blue
Aunt Lynn Shawlette Lazy Daisy Shawlette 300 yds DK 7US circ N/A Sea colors
Stina Cowl Hydrangea Neckwarmer 150 yds Sport 3US circ N/A Green
Court Cowl Botanical Cowl 300 yds Sport 6US circ N/A Dark Blue
Jim Boot Socks Basic Socks 400 yrds Worsted check gauge, need 4st per 1" Men's 8 Black
Jim Boot Socks Basic Socks 400 yrds Worsted check gauge, need 4st per 1" Men's 8 Black
Anna Fingerless Mitten Love at the Opera 900 yds Fingerling check gauge, need 9st per 1" Get Red

Notice I have left the socks with "check gauge, need 8st per 1" " instead of listing a needle size? This is because for any fitted item gauge is important, but because I own so many DPNs I'm not going to do the next step for them.

Now comes the fun messy part!

Your homework tonight after you've made this list is to toss the stash and see what you have the can take care of something on the list!

Go through the stash and needles and put them in a big pile! Sunday I'll show you what to do with the pile!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real Quick!

Stephanie aka the Yarn Harlot made her $50,000 goal for Friends for Life Bike Rally! Thanks to knitters she has beat the highest amount ever raised by an individual in the history of the race and today is the last day of her giveaways!

Check out her blog today and see if you spot something familiar!

As Summer Wanes Knitters Rise

These last days of summer are the jewels of the season.

As I sit here looking at the grapevines beginning to change their leaves from green to red I savor the last bit of heat. The end of summer is when we get all the best parts of the season. The heat, the colors, the food, and the friends.

Since moving back to San Mateo I've been able to make it back to the weekly gathering of my friends. What started out as a girls night a few years ago has expanded to include boyfriends, siblings, neighbours and band members. It is not the type of party you would expect to start the week off with.

Anna will usually try a new dish, or splurge on some treat. Courtney will rush to us after work. Stina will learn how to cook something new. Paul will come late and usually arrive with dessert. Nivek might have a ban member in tow and then go back into the house to practice. Sometimes Teresa will drop by with a friend and boyfriend with something from a bakery.

We're all from San Mateo, but our interests vary so much you will never know where the conversation will go. Actually other then my knitting or spinning I don't think you can really expect anything. One of these nights has turned into a late night trip to a casino 3 hours away.

What I can say is that we're a close knit bunch and on these nights I always remind Anna and Stina that they should grab their knitting, because as much as we don't want to admit it, these days are numbered. Soon the leaves will drop off our apple tree, the basil and squashes will die, the swing will be wet with rain, and we'll move inside to stay warm.

I'm lucky because my studio has a great view of the backyard with all the glories of the garden, and on Tuesday nights I'm content to help the girls out with whatever craft they bring and sit in my big chair and just look outside. This is the time to knit I remind myself. This is the time to savor the summer and prepare for the winter. I am a Stark at heart and I think that all knitters really are, because we are all thinking about how winter is coming.

and balancing a teacup on my knee

Right now I'm knitting Nutkin socks, preparing Christmas lists and warm clothes while enjoying the heat with thoughts of how I'll be indoors in the upcoming months.

In the winter we have to remember that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would say winter is the "glory days of knitters"...

But sometimes you might find us bundled up in our knits enjoying tea on the back deck while it is pouring rain.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Christmas - Phase 2 - The Box and Planning

So do you have you're stocking stuffer gift that you made yesterday?

Yes, good for you! You'll succeed!
No!?! Well get on it... slacker...Camm I see you...

Next go get a box. I use a cardboard box because they go unnoticed, but a storage tub, that is not clear, will do well too.

Now take that stocking stuffer and drop it into the box. This box now has the honour of being the Christmas Box!

This is mine:

I'll be upgrading to a larger one as we get closer

You might notice mine has more then just a washcloth in it and I will tell you a secret. Last year when all the Christmas stuff was going on sale for $1 I did some shopping for this year! I picked up catnip toys, decorations and wrapping paper! I also shop though the entire year to take the edge off last minute Christmas shopping. When I see something I know someone will love I buy it and I toss it into the box! Sometimes I grab it back out for a birthday, but normally it just sits there till Christmas rolls around. If you plan on this let me suggest that you label who's gift is for whom. Two years ago I had a horrible day of dumping the box out to wrap things and I could not figure out who was suppose to get what.

Big thing about Christmas is that it can be very expensive if you do not plan it out right. I try not to spend hundreds of dollars in the two weeks leading up to Christmas on gifts because that is rather stressful. Instead I budget how much I can afford for each person on my list and start thinking of what gifts they will like. It sometimes helps to make a list of what each person's favorite color, shoe size, hobbies and interests.

Next I look at the lists previous to make sure I'm not giving the same stuff again. Nothing it worse to someone as getting slippers last year and getting them again this year.

Now it is time to brainstorm! Take your list and write down ideas for each person and what they might like knitted and otherwise.

This is also a great time to review if someone is knit worthy. Everyone on the list will get the knitted stocking stuffer, but that might be all the knits someone gets this holiday season.

Now here is the list I'm looking at now:

2 pairs Silk Mittens
1 pair of Gryffindor Socks
1 pair of Giant's Socks
2 Blankets
1 Shawl
2 Cowls
2 pairs Boot Socks
1 pair Fingerless Mittens

Now remember 2 things when making this list:

1. Don't plan on showering everyone with knitted gifts. Be selective to those that are worthy and don't give them too much. You need to hold stuff back for next year.

2. Don't forget anyone on your list for the holidays. Every year I make my Christmas list I look back to last year and see who was on the list and add and take away names. Check around to see who might be visiting, who had a new baby and who might be skipping the family get together.

So your homework tonight is to make your list, and start brainstorming patterns you might want to use!

Winner is....

Kat S.

She has won 253 yards of my wool beaded handspun! I love making this yarn with its thread and the beads for the ply and when I'm blending it is always fun to have a theme! I did this one after the Hunger Games, though it is equally appropriate for Halloween.

I found more of the white silk merino blend so I'm going to spin up more of that to get a full 4 oz.

Also, since I know I'm behind by 2 skeins I'll be having 2 extra giveaways this week! Look forward to the white silk merino and some alpaca from North Star Alpaca!

PS. If you want to find out how to enter the giveaway go here! I'm also adding those that donate to my race to this month's Radioactive Rabbit Monthly Giveaway!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Christmas Kickstart! Phase 1 - Lists and the Small Stuff!

Did you know that there are 137 days/19.5 weeks till Christmas? Every year I make this grand scheme to get the Christmas knitting done early and just fly through the entire thing without a care. I make lists and then slowly as we get closer get ideas are abandoned for small gifts out of the same yarn, however I'm still convinced that I'll follow my plan and succeed!

I know 19.5 weeks sounds like plenty of time now but think about how many people are on your Christmas list or take a look at mine:

Grandma P
Grandma Sue
Grandma Jane
Aunt Lee
Aunt Bobby
Uncle Paul
Aunt Lynn
Cousin Seb
Pets - 6 cats & 2 dogs


At 17 people (pets count as one) that leaves me just a little over a week per person so I need to start the planning now and I recommend you do the same.

First thing you need to do is make your list. Go make it and I'll wait right here.... Got it?

Okay, second thing I like to do is split my list up in to parts for stocking stuffers:

Stocking stuffers are a great starting place for Christmas knitting. What you pick to give should be small, easy to carry, and if you have a large stash, most should come out of there.  Women this year will get handmade soap and the men will get hats. Since there are only 4 men I plan on stash diving for some worsted weight alpaca. 

Now pick some simple patterns that everyone will like! Don't choose different patterns for each person, that personalization will come with the next step. The idea is to pick a pattern that is easily memorized so it is quick!

Here is my Plain Hat Pattern and the Marsan Watchcap is a fine choice too. For the wash clothes there are many choices, but I like function so I'm just making simple garter stitch squares or you can go the extra mile with the Leafy Washcloth.

Next is the stash diving. If you have a large stash like I do then this part is easy, but if you don't then it is a good idea to start budgeting for Christmas now. 

For the men's hats I will need about 200 yards. I have a small stash of alpaca worsted weight that I got on clearance once so that is perfect for these hats! The washclothes I need about 360 yards of cotton for so I'll go grab the left overs from the baby toys I made years ago. 

Now go start making your first stocking stuffer and have it ready for tomorrow's post!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What a week!

So I've finished moving and I'm nearly done unpacking. I even dyed yarn yesterday and I'll be doing more today, but the main thing on everyone's mind must be the handspun giveaway!

Drum roll please...

The winner is...

Patti S.

She has won these very beautiful skeins of my handspun. I blended the colors myself using my drum carder and that total yardage is 310 yards!

Tomorrow I will be giving away some lovely silk/merino handspun. I actually spun it on the Yosemite trip the girls and I took.

I did a little extreme spinning and the the yarn is a lace/light fingerling weight. The weight is a bit under 4oz because I dropped some in the river above. Sorry but I was not going after it. That river is really quick.