Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ravellenic Games

Did you know that knitters are competitive people?  I bet you thought that knitters were laid back since they spend so much time just sitting around and knitting.  Well, some knitters may be laid back, but I think we all have a very competitive nature.  We set goals for ourselves, crazy goals like knitting an adult sweater in 16 days.

Last month, you may all remember, I was in a competition called the Tour de Fleece, where competitors spin every day that the Tour de France rides.  I actually did really well.  I was happy with my results especially since I bought the spinning wheel just days before the competition began.  I even won a batt from The Fiber Universe for my spinning.

Pretty isn't it? The camera doesn't pick up all the colors.  There are some sparkles and sari silk in there.  It is my first batt.  I can't wait to spin it.

Now during the Olympics, yarn crafters again take up the competitive nature of the craft and are joining in the Ravellenic Games (formally Ravelympics but had to change name due to copyright).  On Ravelry yarn crafters sign-up to compete in different events.  The goal is to finish your projects during the Olympics.  Cast on during the opening ceremonies and have it done before the end of the closing ceremonies.

I am signed up for the Sweater Triathlon.  I think this may also count for Lace Long Jump.  Basically, I am attempting to make a lacy cardigan during the Olympics.  It will take about 1000 yards of worsted weight yarn to do this so I need to a lot knit every day.

I am this far:

not too shabby for three days (at the time of photo).  Now that I have stitch markers in, the lace pattern is going so much easier. I think I can definitely finish on time or maybe even a bit early if I am really dedicated (aka not cleaning the house).

I can win fabulous prizes from my local yarn shop for participating.  But I'm not doing this for the prize.  I am doing it for the glory of making a sweater.

Am I crazy?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hills Are Hard

Saturday morning I woke up early to run the Bix7.

I am surprised at how many people have never heard of the Bix.  It is a big deal in Davenport and a lot of elite runners run it (well, maybe not this year because they the really elite are at the Olympics, but the next best were there).  I saw Ryan Hall (American Olympic marathon runner) win it in 2010.  I guess growing up in the Quad Cities and being a runner has skewed my perception of the importance of this race. Or maybe more people need to follow running.

Last year I ran the Bix for the frist time and it was even my first time running 7 miles.  Since then, I have run 7 miles many times and run two half-marathon races.  So I thought that this time had to go better than that last...

It did and it didn't.  I did have a better time that last year by about a minute, but I also stopped to go to the bathroom last year.  Without that break, I am sure I would have had a better time last year than this year.  I just was not prepared to run this race.  For last year's Bix, I had a better established running base and I was running outside more.  Due to the excessive heat this year (near or over 100* most days this month), I have been training indoors so, no heat and no hills.  The Bix is all about heat and hills. 

I need to ramp up my training if I am going to run the Quad Cities Half Marathon at the end of September.  I have been following the same training schedule as I did for my last half-marathon, but maybe I need to cross train a bit more and get my stamina up.  Maybe I just need to get some runs in outside.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beanie Town

I made a fabulous hat from the newest edition of KnitSimple

 I want to make the cowl on the cover too.  So amazing!!!!

I may or may not have a magazine subscription problem, but I do make things from the magazines, so it is fine, right?

So, this hat was supposed to be a knit-along with Vickie Howell starting July 31st.  Well, I couldn't wait, so I cast on and made it all in one day, while watching Doctor Who (2005) from the beginning on Netflix.

I had to take self-portraits while wearing it so they are not the best.  I had to do a lot of cropping.

And my hair is extra flippy.

The pattern is Beanie Town by Vickie Howell and I used her yarn too Sheep(ish) in Magenta(ish).  It only took about half a skein so it is a really economical project.  I also recommend it as a first cabling project since there are only two rows of cables.

Again, I am knitting something that is not yet in the Ravelry database.  But you can see the project here on the KnitSimple website.

Do you like it?  I am going to put it in my shop once I get some better photos. Any tips for self-portraits?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have been knitting up a storm, a "knitstorm" if you will. Last Friday, I cast on a cowl and haven't stopped knitting (well I did read a book and do normal life stuff, but you know what I mean.).  I've made a cowl, two adult hats, a bib and started on another cowl.  I feel like I am getting over some "knitter's block"  If writers can have writer's block, then knitter's can have knitting block.  It is all about the creativity and producing something.

All year I have been very focused on what I need to knit.  I need to get this done or that.  Need makes knitting less enjoyable.  Really, if you need to get it done, where is the joy in that?  So on Friday, I purchased some yarn on a whim and cast on a cowl from the latest Love of Knitting magazine.

I am really enjoying this magazine, by the way.  This is my second issue as a subscriber. I highly recommend it.  I don't think it is a well know publication.

Anyway, in less than 24 hours from casting on, I had this cowl done.

The pattern is Raspberry Tart and it is so new I can't find a link to it anywhere. It is a broken rib pattern and so easy to make, if you can count to 2...which I may or may not have had issue with.  I mean knit 2 purl 2, what confounding instructions........

I knit on it all Saturday morning while I was at the farmer's market selling my wares.  It was wonderful.  I made something for no reason.  Just something I wanted to do and so, I did it.  It was so quick and fast that I wanted more.  Knitting can be like a drug.  I needed more projects to cast on and finish so I did, but more on those later.

Do you get blocks in what you do?  How do you overcome them?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Made it Through

That's right I made it.  The Super Mom week is nearly over.  Vacation Bible school is over.  My husband should be returning from his travels tonight. I managed to run according to schedule, have two half sick days to fight this sinus infection, feed my daughter, maintain personal hygiene and get over 6 hours of sleep each night.   All this in the 30 minutes before leaving for work/day car in the morning, the 20 minutes between getting home from work and leaving to go to VBS and the few minutes after VBS before bed. I am not sure how I made it this far.  I do have a huge list of things to do today including running 6 miles. 

I just need to keep on swimming.

Tomorrow you can catch me selling my knitted goodness at the Peoria Riverfront Farmer's Market. You can always see my wares on my etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitKnotOtt. (Shameless plug, I know).

Have a great weekend.  I am so looking forward to mine. Are you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hometown Run

Summer is the time for festivals.  This part weekend my hometown held theirs.  Well, it is not technically my town, I went to junior high and high school there and my mailing address was Eldridge, but we lived a few miles away in a unincorporated town of Park View.  So it is my hometown and not.

Anyway, part of the Eldridge day celebration is the Moonlight Chase .  It is unusual because it is at 9 pm.     It was still hot, hot, hot, but not like the morning or afternoon.  I started running this race when I was 14 or so and I like to participate when I can.  This year, like last, I signed myself up for the 4 mile race and my daughter for the 1/4 mile. 

She did pretty good.  Her Merma bought her special running clothes.

I still had to run with her, but I bet next year she will run all by herself.

As for my race, I suffered through it.  It was worth it to get Mike's Hard Lemonade and popsicles at the end. My mom even bought me a Lion's Club pork chop sandwich (delish!).

My cold made me slow.  I ran 38:38 according to my watch.  According to my chip, I ran 35:00 which is a big fat lie.  I can run that fast, but I did not.  They announced that they were having chip timing "issues," so I guess my "issue" is that it made me faster.  I have a lot of running improvement to make before me next race on July 28th , The Bix7.

Does your hometown do a festival?  What is their big draw?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Super Mom Week

This week I need to be Super Mom. On top of my normal working and parenting duties, tonight begins Vacation Bible School at my church and I signed up to help.

Months ago when I signed up to be a crafts volunteer, I was so happy to be helping out.  I want to help out at my church, I really do, but I never seem to be able to get my schedule and the volunteering schedule to coincide.  I thought VBS would be a way for be to be active at church while meeting other parents.

Well the VBS week has come and I have two unforeseen problems.

1. My husband is out of town all week for work.  He was gone last week too.  He has been gone a lot.  Without him home this week, I am not sure how to feed D.  After work I need to run.  Yes, I do need to run.  I can't skip.  I have a 7 mile race to train for in under two weeks and a half-marathon in September.  I can't skip.  So that means D and I will get home about 5:15 and we need to be at church before 6:00.  In the few minutes home I need to shower and feed D and myself, oh and the dogs.  I am planning on Lunchables for dinner every night.  When we get home from VBS approximately 8:45 pm, D will have to go to bed immediately.  Then in the morning it will all start over again.  Not sure when the dishes and laundry will get done.  But I have managed before and I will manage again, this dishes can pile up.

2.  I have a cold. The dreaded summer cold.  It is 95 degrees outside and I have a cold.  I have been taking cold medicine, but it makes me tired and unfocused.  So maybe what I am writing doesn't make sense.  If it doesn't make sense, I have a cold. Sorry.  I feel pretty crappy.  I have a cough and am sneezing a lot.  And my nose, so runny.  I had a less-than-desired race on Saturday.  But if I can run 4 miles feeling like this, I can run more and be the best VBS volunteer.

3. (Did I say two?) I also have a lot of stress this week because I am teaching a summer class and this is the last week before finals.  This is extra on top of my regular job. Work is getting pretty stressful in general because we need to get everything in the library ready for the start of school.  Whoever thinks being a librarian is all about reading books at desk and shelving, are so wrong. But somehow I manage go get my work done and work even better under pressure.

So this is the week to be Super Mom.  The cold medicine tells me I am all ready to go, but I have a feeling the cold medicine lies. I appreciate the lie.  This is the life of a mother, it doesn't matter if you are ready or not, you do it.  That is what makes all moms super.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vacation, The Third

So vacation was great and I got an amazing hair cut.  But that is not all...

While in Madison, my wonderful husband sought out and took me to a local yarn store, Lakeside Fiber.  I had a great time looking at new yarns.  I ended up purchasing yarn for a new sweater.  But the best thing I got was information about another yarn shop on a sheep farm. 

Since my husband was feeling generous, he drove us out to this sheep farm aka Susan's Fiber Shop.  I did not know it at the time, but she is nationally know for her shop.  She advertises in spinning magazines- full page, in color.  She get booths at fiber shows- several booths.  She is one of the largest spinning shops in the Midwest. I know this now, but walking into that store, I did not know what to expect.  It is just a big outbuilding... an outbuilding filled with delight! 

There was tons of yarn.  All different materials, weights and colors.  Brands I've only heard about.  Then there was the books.  Books and books and books on all things fiber arts.  Then in the next room...fiber!!!  Sacks and balls of fiber.  And rows and rows of spinning wheels.  And all sorts of accessories!  I should have taken more pictures, but I was in awe of the place and forgot.

She got D to "try" spinning.

She looks like a natural.

Susan had me sit down at a wheel.  "This is the wheel for you," she said.  And she was right.  This wheel and I clicked.  I've taken spinning classes before and it never was so easy and right.  My husband said I could have it.  SQUEEEE!  She could see I was in love.

It is an Ashford Kiwi.

So far I have made three yarns and starting on my fourth.  Not too shabby.

I am participating in Tour de Fleece which is a spinning challenge during the Tour de France.  More on this later though.

Am I crazy for spinning my own yarn?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vacation: Part Duex

At the end of my fabulous vacation I went to the salon....

My ponytail is in the mail to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and is to be made into a wig for a woman fighting cancer.

This is something I have been wanting to do for awhile.  My sister donated her hair several years ago and with my nieces cancer diagnosis, I was even more determined to give something.

This is for you Allison.  You were brave, lost all your hair and beat cancer.  This hair will go to someone as brave as you, I hope.

And it does feel good to have a lot less hair in this hot, hot summer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vacation: Part 1

Last week, we went on a real family vacation.  I call it "real" because most of our past vacation time has been spent visiting family.  That is a good vacation, but I wanted something a bit different.  I wanted to go somewhere we had never gone before and do new things, just the three of us.

Originally, we were thinking of heading up to Chicago.  Yes, my husband and I have been there before, but it was about 10 years ago and that was only a day trip.  I had a better idea to go to Madison, WI and see are very good friends from college and their son (only a few months younger than D).

This was a great vacation.  Despite 100 degree plus days, we had a lot of fun around the city and also had a lot of downtime. We went to the zoo and the children's museum.  We walked by the lake and got ice cream.  We saw a movie. We swam every day in the hotel pool. We drove all over the city.   We arrived back feeling refreshed and happy rather than frazzled from a over-packed vacation.  

I did not take a single picture of our friends.  What an oversight.  I guess we were just happy hanging out and having fun.

That's me being my daughter's zookeeper.

Where do you go on vacation? Do trips to see family count as vacation?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Signs

Sign of a great summer night...

I remember as a child playing outside all summer long until my feet were black from dirt (dirt is black in Iowa).  I am so glad my daughter will have the same memories.

What is one of your favorite summer memories?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saving June: A Review

Harper found her sister June dead in the back seat of her car with a sleeping pill bottle in her hand.  Harper doesn't understand why her sister, who was perfect and everything she was not, would commit suicide.  She with her best friend, Laney, starts looking for clues, anything that will lead her to understand why.   They find a mixed CD that leads them to Jake and a cross-country trip to save June the best they can.

I try to stay away from suicide themed books.  There is a plethora of them in YA, but I had two classmates commit suicide in high school so the subject is often too close to home for me to read.  Their suicides is something I still think about all the time, as I pass Jeff's house (just a few doors down from my mom and dad's) or as my nephew plays on Jimmy's brother's t-ball team. But, I decided to read this book knowing it was all based upon the death of the main character's sister by suicide.  The reviews were just so good.

I am glad I listened to the reviews. This was an amazingly powerful book.  Harper is raw and emotional, but also funny and smart.  It is very true to real life.  Plus, there is a lot of classic rock and old jazz references that make me feel smart.  Hannah Harrington has written a wonderful debut.

4/5 stars on Goodreads.

What genre or theme do you tend avoid?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day

I hope you have your fill of foods, fun, friends, family and fireworks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Green Thumbs

I planted a very small garden this spring.  Just 6 plants: 2 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers and 2 bell peppers.  Last year I did the same, but did not get very good results.  I am determined to make a go at this so, I tried again.  I always have the best intentions for a garden every Spring.  This year I added a secret ingredient MiracleGrow  (okay so it is not so secret) to the soil and I can really tell the difference.

They are alive and thriving despite my negligence and lack of rain (please, please, please send rain).  I probably do remember to water them ever week or so, but I am not taking care of them like I should.  I really should get our there and pull some weeds, there are a lot of weeds in those pictures.  I guess those best intentions I have in Spring wear off when it gets hot and busy in the summer. Anyway, without the MiracleGrow I am sure these plants would be a lot less healthy, at least they were last year.

This is not a sponsored post for MiracleGrow.

Are you growing anything this year? Veggies? Flowers? Just weeds?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sweater Blocking

I am happy to announce that I have finished my first ever cardigan!!! 

Well, I have finished all the knitting.  I gave it a soak and now I am blocking it.  I hope blocking teaches those edges to stay down and not curl up.  Once it is done drying, I will sew on the buttons (the buttons are amazing, I'll show you later).

It was nearly 100 degrees on Friday when I bound off the last stitch and gave it a bath.  Something about the heat really made me want to make a sweater.  I also did a bunch of yard work.  The heat will make you do crazy things.

I really loved making this cardigan.  I like a new challenge, but something that is not too challenging.  I can definitely tell that I am improving my knitting skills with each new project.  

But for now, it is drying and waiting for me to return from vacation (our first family vacation that is not to visit family, squee!).  I hope to finish my socks and start something new... maybe that hedgehog you all voted for me to make next. 

Vacation is for knitting right? Where are you vacationing this summer?