Friday, February 29, 2008

That Time of Year Again....

...time to prep the finances for tax time. Eeeeek! Marble is smart - she's running away.

As you can see, this year I will be upgrading to the 2008 version of quicken, and I am going to make the attempt at converting to an actual accounting program for Spritely Goods. I'm telling myself this is a good thing - and that it won't be too painful. We'll see how I feel after the weekend ;)

In much more interesting reading (or maybe not), Amy tagged me for the 6 unimportant things meme...
6 non-essentials about me (but may explain some of my oddities):

1) I aspired, at one time, to be a pastry chef...then I thought about being a personal chef...instead, I'm an engineer. And a fiber artist. But I still like to bake and play in the kitchen :)
2) I have my own unique style of organization - it always makes complete sense to me and I can most always find things when I need them....this method of organization sometimes completely baffles others.
3) Before I became an engineer, I went to a liberal arts prep school.
4) I have learned 3 languages (other than english)
5) Sadly, I only speak one moderately fluently - I'm completely illiterate in the other 2
6) I know what it is like to have a business of ferrets underfoot.

I tag the following:
Angela, and

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knitting Progress

Knitting has been going on, just a mite slowly. The Miter Square blanket and the Secret of Chrysopolis lace have been languishing (Still stuck at 3 mitered squares, and the lace has stalled out in favor of easier knitting of late). Frolic has moved onto the couch, having been removed from my carry-all and replaced with a cuff down sock (I'm test knitting a pattern) - I'm currently on the heel flap...the other 2 pairs of socks are making slow progress as well - the reincarnated firestarters are at the beginning of the gusset, and the dark blue socks are also progressing quite nicely.

I'm trying to decide if I want to attempt to lengthen the Scherherazade's Slippers by increasing the number of pattern repeats and various other modifications to make them knee length socks - apparently the original design ends somewhere mid-calf and may result in slightly slouchy socks...we'll see how much yarn I have to play with (I'm knitting both socks at the same time using separate needles and magic loop). Hopefully before long I'll have at least one set of finished socks to share!

Monday, February 25, 2008

I better get knitting...

I'm already 2 months behind!

I received a review copy of Twelve Months of Knitting: 36 Projects to Knit Your Way Through the Year a while ago - and it's been sitting by my knitting pile waiting for me to tell you all about it. As you may guess by the title, the book itself is broken down by month - and right in the front of the book is a "weekly planner" that may help you plan your knitting - the planner includes the name of a pattern plus the general timelines for completion. Of course, the page for the pattern is also included for easy reference :)

Projects vary with skill level (each month contains a pattern for beginners, intermediates and experienced knitters) and variety - from simple accessories like hats, bags and bookmarks household furnishings like lap blankets, pillow covers and placemats, to apparel including vests, cardigans and sweaters...even a couple of swimsuits - you're bound to find something to knit in this book. In addition to a wide variety in projects, the patterns include several that are targeted for men, others for women, and even some for children. Styling of the various projects also vary, providing opportunity to learn and develop new skills as you knit your way thorough the book.

Each apparel pattern is available in several sizes, and the patterns have easily followed directions. My only lament is the lack of charts for the cabled projects (of which there are quite a few) and some of the lace motifs. While I am able to knit easily from written instructions, my personal preference is to knit with charts when possible.

The photography in the book is beautiful - with nice clear photos of the finished projects. I know I found some inspiration just in paging through this book - I'm looking forward to queuing up some of the projects to cast on once I clear some of my current projects on needles (photos soon, I promise!)

Friday, February 22, 2008


While it's cool out, my hair manages to grow out - I don't ever really realize how long it is - though photos from the half marathon (now available for browsing!) show my rather long ponytail swishing away - I guess that's a good sign, because it wouldn't do that if I wasn't actually jogging!

A browse through the photos show that I apparently left the start line 6 minutes after the gun, so my "official" finish time was approximately 3:01:45. Not a sub three, but I'll take it happily :)

The skeiner and I are on talking terms again - it seems all the issues with that last skein of lace weren't necessarily entirely the skeiners fault. I had to scrap one more skein recently - seems I failed to inspect the skein properly before I dyed it - it seems a bunch of strands were either damaged or cut - I'm certain I didn't cut them in the unpacking process - mostly because the "knife" I use to open boxes isn't sharp enough to cut yarn. Anyhow, that particular skein was entirely unsalvageable and will be cut up and either used as samples or to tie bags shut. The other skeins that had more than their fair share of knots will be listed at a discount in the newly added "Naughty Skein" section of the Shop - if no one takes em, I'll be knitting with them because I don't mind the knots :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let me eat cake.

Still recovering from the Half :) and still awaiting photos - almost as good as happy running photos is a photo of cake...

Red Velvet - my current favorite and fascination, even though I've never baked one myself - this slice came from AJ's Fine Foods - quite tasty, but not as tasty as Melati's Red Velvet Cupcakes...her website isn't open for business yet, but she has been taking and baking orders - if you're local, you can inquire about her fantastic cupcakes by emailing her!

Knitting is photoless - but progressing - I've cast on for some rather fancy socks called Scherherazade's Slippers - I'll be trying to modify them a little as I go to accommodate my curvy calves - possibly making them one repeat longer to get up up over my calf and to my knees - we'll see if the yarn holds out :)

The firestarters and I are back at the beginning of the gussets - I'll be back to where I was pre-frogging in no time. In an attempt to eliminate bagginess through the instep, I shall be adding some ribbing in the sole.

In other news, a big box of yarn arrived - and is being prepped for photographing. I'll be having Malabrigo Silky in the shop soon!

Monday, February 18, 2008

13.1. It's Official.

Well over a year in the making*...I'm finally a Half Marathon finisher!

Weather: Sunny and cool in the morning with temps in the low 40s at the start, warming to a balmy 70+ degrees in the afternoon.

Gun Time**: 3:07:45
Watch Time***: 3:02:28
Max Heart Rate for the race: 195. Holy smokes. Looks like I need to adjust the programming on my watch ;)

* I had intended on running this half last yr but laid myself up with awful shin splints that resulted in a good 4 months or more of physical therapy plus new orthotics and a seemingly endless hunt for shoes
** read on for comments regarding the Gun Time
*** there is an actual likelihood that I actually finished in less than 3 hours - I had a post race brain shutdown and forgot to stop the timer - and then since I was wearing my Polar rather than my regular Timex, I had some operator error troubles :P

Race Wear: After much fussing, I opted for a Black 2-pocket GymGirl, a turquoise and white mid-sleeve v-neck, handknit wristlets, and my black Iron Girl hat

Apologies in advance for the lack of photos - I didn't bring a camera and DH was laid up at home with the flu - I'm now awaiting the official race photos, of which I expect to have some satisfactory images since I spotted at least 4 cameramen along the way :)

Night Before the Race, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except for me. With my pre-race jitters. I had intended to go to bed early and be well rested, but alas - at 11pm I was deciding on racewear and pre-pinning on my midnight I had set my alarm for 5:20am and had been laying in bed, listening to I don't even recall what program while knitting away on a pair of socks. I think I finally drifted off around 12:30am...only to be awoken by my loving cat at 3am as she uncharacteristically stomped around on top of me while purring loudly (normally, she sleeps at the foot of the bed, or next to my hip - I don't know what got into her that night!). 5:20 came all too quickly with the beeping of the alarm.

Hopped out of bed, slathered on the sun block and the body glide, donned the race wear and toasted and peanut buttered a bagel for the ride out to the race. Water bottle in hand, I was out the door with plenty of time to pick up some coffee enroute.

The drive out was dark, and uneventful with no traffic to be seen - until the exit that was designated for the race parking - but even then, with the stop and go to the parking lot, I still had a half hour or so to catch the less-than-5-minute shuttle to the start. A quick survey of the area revealed a bathroom with flush toilets! Hooray! No port-a-potty for me, thanks! After what appears to be the standard pre-race visit to the restroom, I got in the swift moving line for the shuttle....

And so the fun begins ;)

Apparently, the driver of the shuttle bus that I got on had been shuttling marathoners out to the marathon start - 25.x miles away from the parking area...can you guess where this is going? LOL - indeed, the shuttle headed out in the entirely wrong direction, then was finally stopped and redirected by a local racer - unfortunately, instead of heading back into the parking area to take the "normal" back way to the race start, they took surface streets and wound up dropping us off about a half mile away from the starting line due to the road closures for the race. This would have been okay if I had the time for the warm up walk to the start ;) but as I was walking briskly towards the starting line, I heard the countdown to the gun...and wound up watching the large field of half marathoners heading in my direction as they flooded through the start and were on their way - I still had to make it down to the start, and drop off my bag and sweatshirt for after the race!

**We interrupt this race report for more Stats for you:
The total field size was 845, the total number of women racers was 465.
My official time placed me well in the back of the pack, finishing 771st in the field and 403rd of the women.

Anyhow, I'm quite certain that by the time I had left my bag at the drop point for post-race stuff and made my way back to the starting line I had lost 10-15 minutes based on the impending countdown for the next race start time. Ah well, I was in it to finish - I had firmly expected to come in pretty far back in the pack. After all, due to my previous injuries and most of my training being relegated to a treadmill, my race strategy was to pace myself and run/walk the race with the intent of having fairly even splits as the miles progressed. To aid me in my quest, I had set up a fine selection of Podrunner Podcasts starting with 130 bpm, ranging up to 146 bpm - I figured the fixed beats would help me with my cadence and keep me on pace...after all, at these bpms, I was consistently training within my MAF zone, only having to resort to walking in the latter portions of my workouts.

...I was wrong. Apparently, the competitor in me was not happy about being so far behind - so even though I *thought* I was matching my running cadence with the 130 beats per minute of the tunes, I was apparently moving quite a bit was evident when I came up on Mile Marker 1 (11:34.5 with a Max Heart Rate (MHR) of 189 (oops - for your reference, my MAF training pace is 16:35-17:00)). Cripes. A definite newbie mistake - everybody warns about coming out way too fast at the start of a race. In order to try to calm my poor heart down, I wound up walking most of Mile 2 (15:00.6, MHR 174/Average HR (AHR) 166), mostly to see if it was possible to even get my heart rate down to somewhere close to my typical training zone - the answer for the curious is No - must have been the caffeine and the adrenaline - at least that's what I'm telling myself. Heading into mile 3 (13:09.4, MHR 184/AHR 179) I seemed to settle into my planned routine of running and walking - though I did it more adhoc rather than on a set time schedule - this was mostly done to accommodate the unanticipated hilliness of the course (It hadn't occurred to me to drive out and scope the course before hand - silly me). While the sun was rising in my face, I was still happy to enjoy the view of Superstition Mountain looming in the distance as the race course headed out along Lost Dutchman Blvd.

Mile 4 (14:12.8, MHR 182/AHR 175) was mostly dirt (as was mile 3, if I remember correctly. Graded dirt is definitely nicer to run on and noticeably softer than the pavement in some places due to recent rains). After getting past the backside of the hill known as the Dutchman's Revenge, my mind was still freely wandering while I continued to glance around, looking for early wild flowers (sadly, none to be found).

Mile 5 (13:08.3, MHR 185/AHR 179) saw the leaders coming back. They were looking plenty strong - while I highly doubt I will ever hit a pace like they were churning out (around 6:35 if I'm doing my math right), I do hope one day to be able to run the full distance of a half and look strong doing it!

Mile 6 (13:30.3, MHR 187/AHR 179) still going strong, and still passing people (hooray!) As I was getting closer to the turn around point, the leaders of the Full Marathon started to pass me by - they were moving at quite a clip and were seemingly untroubled by the distance. Some of these runners lapped me twice - as a leg of the race had all of us going up a street and then turning around - the full Marathoners had to run a bit further out before making their U-turn, thus the dual laps.

Mile 7 (14:03.7, MHR 187/AHR 187) I was still run/walking and still enjoying the light playing on Superstition Mountain.

Mile 8 (13:50.1, MHR 186/AHR 180) Starting to feel the burn, and slight aches, I switched from water to gatorade at the aid stations.

Mile 9 (14:14.8, MHR 188/AHR 180) As my focus began closing in more on the road and the immediate terrain (while still drifting off now and again as I spotted the occasional "for sale" sign on houses that we were running wogging by), I began wondering to myself if this was such a good idea. My shins were starting to give up the occasional prickle, and once or twice my calves had started to make initial noises of protest. I slowed a couple times to stretch and evaluate, and coax my legs into behaving.

Mile 10 (15:47.1, MHR 185/AHR 175) the Dutchmans Revenge. An aptly name hill, it's a tenth of a mile long, and rises 50 feet in that short distance - it's definitely a killer. I didn't even attempt to run it, instead, I took the opportunity to walk up while stretching my calves out along the way. The course at this point is mostly down hill with a few dips and corresponding rises along the way.

Mile 11 (13:44.0, MHR 187/AHR 178) I can see the the finish line in the distance as I continue on my quest - I'm still moving, though it's definitely taking more effort to remain running rather than walking.

Mile 12 (13:39.1, MHR 188/AHR 178) Thank goodness for the slight downhill grade - it's just enough to assist, without requiring the quads to chime in with braking power. I'm still determined to run as I can, slowing to a walk as demanded on occasion by my cardiovascular system.

Mile 13 (14:46.9, MHR 185/AHR 175) After beating back a hostile takeover by my calves and shins (I wound up walking longer than planned this last mile to calm the impending revolt), I rounded the corner back into Prospector Park and the finish line. Laid out before me was the finishing chute - and a mere 0.1 miles to go - determined to finish it strong, as I neared the mile 13 sign, I broke into a full out sprint, passing several folk along the way, it was such a joy to hear my name called out over the loudspeaker. I had finished!

I'm officially a Half Marathoner. It feels good - painful, but good :) My calves, shins and core are still having their revenge - I was hobbled a good portion of yesterday after the race (there were no options for an immediate ice bath and by the time I got home, I really didn't even want to contemplate burying myself in ice. Course, that may well have been my downfall.) Today, I'm still hobbling, though stairs don't hurt quite as much as they did yesterday. Laughing and sneezing though, are serious killers - I forgot how much my core hurt after I did my 5k last December...

I guess the big question is would I do it again? I think I have to say yes :) though I hope to be better trained next time - and will hopefully be able to run more than walk it. I managed to astonish myself with my finishing time, though now that I'm checking, the McMillan Calculator actually predicted my finish time pretty closely - at 3:04:26.

What's next? I've not decided - though if I can get my body back into a happy state, there's another 5k happening on February 29th!

Yes, I know the Half Marathon route is an out and back, and therefore the race profile should mirror itself starting at the 6.55 mile marker - I have no idea why it doesn't - isn't technology wonderful? I just find it hilarious that the hill called the Dutchman's Revenge appears as a rather prominent spike right at the end of Mile 10 - because that's exactly what it felt like!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can't we all just get along?

Behold! The firestarters....and what appears to be a perpetual sock line, even though I haven't been out hiking in quite some time. LOL - the things that become apparent with photographs!

Sadly, it seems I'm having a run of bad luck with my projects, those socks that look so lovely up above actually have some issues.

It seems that even though I already made one needle size change after knitting the toe, I wasn't able to bring the gauge down quite enough - while they fit, they are a little baggy and loose - especially noticeable at the I've frogged em and started over on US0s.

As if that wasn't traumatizing enough, my skeiner ate a skein of lace weight yarn last night - it was the first and last skein of the evening, the skeiner was put into the corner for a time out. We'll be having another discussion tonight. (Why yes, that does mean that the dyepot has been busy :) ) The good news is the skein wasn't a total loss - it just has too many knots for me to want to put it up for sale, so I'm now looking for a suitable lace pattern to cast on for.

I'm thinking I might have to knit the Irtfa'a Faroese lace shawl - it's gorgeous....and newly added to the shop. I've knit rectangular lace, and triangular lace - faroese lace would be new :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

the Long and Short of it.

Elbow length cabled gloves, knit by me - details over here - not too many details because I made them up as I went along and failed to take notes.

Wrist length mitts, knit by Kiki - out of Spritely Goods Sidhe yarn in the Garnet colorway - Kiki had heard me talking about how my hands get cold and work less properly when I get stuck on the computer for long periods of time and she took pity on me by gifting me those lovely mitts. I adore how they pooled - they look really neat when they are on too with the expansion of the 1x1 ribbing and the way the colors stack up in the fabric - sadly I had to take these photos of the mitts on the table since I had no helper to assist with the photography.

I thought both projects were fitting with the current Project Spectrum element of Fire - partially due to the color, but the cables on the long gloves also remind me of the licking flames of a large fire.

In other fiery news, the Firestarters were off to an exceptional start, and I turned the heels and finished the heel flaps yesterday - sadly, I suspect they are going to the Frogpond to be ripped and redone on US0s. I'll take photos so I can show you the glorious colorway though - I'm really enjoying the knit, so I don't think I'll mind re-doing it (at least not too much anyhow). Stay tuned :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year :) It's the Year of the Rat, which is typically marked as a year of renewal and opportunity. May your year be wonderful and full of health, good cheer and prosperity!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Adventures in Fair Isle

Wool takes a long time to dry in the winter the time it took for this hat to dry, I actually knit another ;)

As always, all the gory details (and there is a bit of discussion on this one) over here.

The long and short of it is:
1) Fair Isle work is pretty
2) I apparently have issues with bell shaped hats
3) The proscribed decreases do not fit my head (or I have issues with float tensions)
4) I am now trying to decide if the not so properly fitted hat is suitable as a gift, or if I have needs to go pattern hunting again.
5) I apparently still have plenty of yarn to keep on attempting this :D Lets just say that my stash is rather healthy. Perhaps a little too much so.

Go read. And leave me advice :)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Classic and Glamorous

Since the lighting was no good this weekend and my Fair Isle hat was still damp, I offer you these books in entertainment until I get my photos taken care of.

Another pair of books featuring classic knits and glamour knits - this time for your home instead of for yourself.

Like the first pair of books, these are beautifully photographed hardcover books - with a binding that lays flat quite nicely, stunning glossy photos of the projects up front followed by the pattern pages on matte paper accompanied by monochromatic photos. Each of the lovely photographs is clearly labeled with the page on which to find the appropriate pattern - this makes navigating the book simple, no flipping back and forth between the project photos and the table of contents.

Between the two books are 30 lovely patterns to add something special to your home - with projects ranging from small quick knits (wash mitt, key fob and scented sachets) to medium sized projects such as a lampshade, plant pot cover, and any number of cushions. Of course there are also the larger projects including several beautiful throws.

Both books clearly identify the materials required for each project, along with size and gauge, though no information is readily apparent regarding the difficulty level of any given project. Given that I'm a fearless knitter, I tend not to be overly concerned with some things. Both books feature projects that incorporate knitting along with woven fabrics, allowing the knitting to be used as a special accent showcased on the final product - it also makes for faster projects since not all the components need to be knit!

I've already earmarked several projects out of each book to try, and I'm looking forward to casting on!

Friday, February 01, 2008

New Colors...

...and some other goodies are now at the shop :)