Tuesday, January 22, 2008

gauge issues

The lack of posts is directly correlated to the lack of knitting I've been doing lately. I've had lots on my mind, the kind of stuff where you wonder if life is fair. For example, my dad has one cousin, who is the mom to two (adult) kids. The cousin lost her husband to leukemia about 20 years ago, and now her son, who is 32, just had an operation to remove a malignant tumor from his stomach this week. He's in ICU and is having kidney troubles and can't move his legs much, if at all. How is all that fair for any family to go through? I'm saying lots of prayers and hoping I don't have to think about the unfairness anymore, that it will end up OK and we can rejoice in his full recovery.

I was beside myself this weekend, too, when Gracie pup threw up and it looked bloody. I was beside myself at work that night, but my boyfriend stayed with her (and I left directions and a credit card for the emergency vet if she got sick again). She seems like herself again; I think she just ate something she shouldn't have. But I was crying and tense and contemplating her mortality and ugh. For the past week, I've just kind of stuck with the basics of getting through my day - going to work, phone calls with family, asking Josh for lots of hugs, that kind of thing.

Despite all this stuff, I've managed to keep running - it's been a nice time just for me. I had a great 4.6 mile run yesterday in the cold and today was a fast 3.2 mile run today with Bethany, my friend and intern at the newspaper. She has returned for a few days of working (and is staying at our place) before she up and moves to Australia (sniff ... but trying not to think about it). We are going to go to my favorite park on Thursday and I'm aiming for eight miles.

In knitting land ... I'm finding it hard to get my gauge in check on a fingering-weight sock - after working on the aran-weight sock for my dad (which fits, by the way!), I feel like I'm knitting too loosely, with stitches laddering and stitches are gapping. There's probably some kind of metaphor to be made about finding my gauge in life, but I'm too tired to come up with it and instead I'll squeeze in a little nap before work.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This past week has been a long one.

It started with about two hours of sleep Sunday night (no exaggeration) and has been a whirlwind of spending lots of time at the hospital, going to work and not enough sleep. My aunt had major surgery (but then, what surgery isn't major?) so I have been chauffeur/visitor/barf-bowl-holder/babysitter-arranger/maker-of-awkward-calls-to-her-recently-separated-husband) and finally, helper at home after I drove her home yesterday.

I think with all my time at the hospital, I caught a little bug. Or I'm just really exhausted in general. Either way I was dizzy and nauseated for the past two days and missed work last night because of it. Ugh. I hate calling off work.

I'm a bit nervous about my running ... both because of a lack of time and not feeling well, I haven't run since Saturday, and I'm supposed to run eight miles today. I pushed it back to tomorrow, and I'm going to try to just jog a couple miles (no more than 3) today to get back into it, or at least to give myself a little more confidence for tomorrow. I will get back in the swing of things, I have to.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a wee update

I finished my dad's sock:

one down, one to go

It took about 14 days to make - my fastest sock ever, actually. I'm going to mail it tomorrow to make sure it fits, then ask him to mail it back, and cast on for the second. Whew! All that for a pair of socks.

I picked up this sock afterward and it feels soooo slow. I'm working back and forth on a heel flap that never ends!

Two non-knitting updates of the consumer variety.
I paid my first visit to a Bloom grocery store Thursday. It was really nice! Very clean layout - and a clean store. They've got fun, quirky signs on displays and the employees wear tags that say "My name is JOE. Ask me about HUNTING." I decided my tag would say "Ask me about KNITTING" (of course). Unfortunately there's only a handful of Blooms in Hampton Roads, none really close to me. However this one is right next to the running path I frequent on my long runs, so it might become a weekly visit.

Also ... I went for a massage at a really nice place on Friday. I was looking to get one as a treat, because I'm halfway distance-wise to the half marathon (I had a good seven-miler Thursday), but I didn't want to pay $65 for an hourlong massage at the place within walking distance from my apartment. So I somehow stumbled across Zen Massage Center on the net; it advertised a $39.95 hourlong massage. Score! I figured it was a decent amount of money, but if for some reason it was awful, I'd learn my lesson that some things are worth more. Well it was really nice. The massage therapist was really nice and did a great job. The table was heated, and it totally relaxed me. I think I might have to treat myself to one after the half marathon in March!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Well ... I'm finally getting around to making a note of my resolutions for this year. First, a quick look back at 2007. I had three resolutions - become a stronger runner by running a half marathon, set a budget/focus on erasing credit card debt, and become more adventurous at crochet.

I'd say I met 2.5 of the goals. I ran the half marathon and went to the gym a LOT in 2007 (but ... kind of slacked, as I will mention in a few paragraphs). I became a lot more adventurous in my yarny pursuits, avidly pursuing knitting - including picking up sock knitting. As for the financial stuff ... I didn't come close to erasing credit card debt - that's not going to happen for a while, but I made a consistent effort to pay down my lone credit card by paying at least twice a month, and I really watched my money a lot in 2007.

This year, my goals include:

--running year-round, not just until March (when the Shamrock Half Marathon occurs). Last year I got burned out after the half marathon and just stopped working out for a while - probably a couple months. I put on some weight to show for it, which is really disappointing, because it slows you down to run with more weight and I can't afford to get much slower! (Plus there's the whole vanity side of it.) So, yes, keeping up with running year round, and, if I can't bear running in the summer's heat, then re-join the Norfolk fitness center (for a whopping $10/month! Take that, $52/month YMCA.)

--paying more attention to my body when it comes to eating healthfully, getting enough sleep, etc.

--watching my spending habits, saving more money and paying down credit card debt. I'm putting at least 10% of every paycheck in my savings account. I contribute a large amount to my 401(k). And I have become much better at living on a budget.

With this in mind, I have decided to give myself some guidelines for buying yarn. (Please try not to notice that there are more yarn guidelines than there are resolutions.)

1. No trips to LYSes in Hampton Roads. For any reason, including DPN replacement. Truth be told, I prefer the cheapie Silvalumes at Joanns.com than bamboo needles.

2. No buying knitting books unless they are on sale or I have a coupon (I'm not really worried about meeting this one - I rarely buy knitting books, even with my two-book binge after Christmas, haha.)

3. I must finish knitting a pair of socks before I am allowed to even consider buying yarn for another pair of socks. For example: I am working on a sock for my dad. When I finish this sock and the second sock, I am 'allowed' to, when the opportunity presents itself, buy enough sock yarn for another pair of socks.

And when *would* that opportunity present itself if I'm not allowed in LYSes?
--I'm going to Columbus to visit my family in February. Perchance we will visit a yarn store or two when I'm there.
--I'm heading to Maryland in May to visit a friend and go to Maryland Sheep & Wool together. If I set aside money for those occasions well in advance, well, then I can shop knowing that I worked hard to save in advance for those very occasions.
--I do plan on allowing myself a wee treat from BMFA for my birthday.

4. If I somehow decide I am brave enough to cast on for a sweater, I will wait until I find sale yarn at WEBS or KnitPicks. This isn't to plump up my stash ... this is I'm-so-eager-I'm-going-to-cast-on-the-minute-the-darn-box-arrives knitting I'm talking about.

OK ... enough blabbing about resolutions. Time to get some rest ahead of a nice, long run tomorrow. I'm aiming for seven miles!

Monday, January 7, 2008

trucking along

Ten days after my family left, I've got half a sock for my dad:

dad's sock progress

I'm a little nervous about the fit - my dad has big feet and biggish calves. (I've got plenty of yarn, though!) I'm hopeful it'll work out. I'm going to finish it, mail it to him to make sure it fits, then, if all goes to plan, I'll cast on for the match.

I took a couple hours on Friday, my day off, to read. I never do that anymore. I don't know why, it's so relaxing! I'm in the middle of "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult and I read "Knitting without Tears" by EZ, cover to cover. She is so lovely. I wish she were an old aunt who I could visit and knit with. She makes me feel like I could be a knitting superhero. I've never had any desire to knit sweaters - too darn intimidating - but her percentage methods make so much sense. I really want to make a seamless raglan or a seamless hybrid (for some reason, raglan looks less intimidating to me). I love her patterns because they *aren't* patterns. That's how I learned to knit socks, after all. Unlucky for me, I own neither a sweater's worth of wool nor any circular needles to cast on for a sweater. That's an aspect of my stash I have yet to delve into.

In other news, the past week of running has been pretty good. Last week's bad news somehow turned me into a running queen - I ran six miles at a really good pace Thursday, simultaneously trying to comprehend everything and turn my brain off. I ran longer than normal on Saturday, but it was a bit slower pace. It feels good to get some higher numbers on my running log for once. On the downside, I slept really oddly on my neck Thursday night and have had some major neck and shoulder pain since. I've been using a heating pad and Icy Hot but it hasn't helped much. I must have pulled something for the pain to last so long.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I generally shy away from discussing work on here - in part because it's a knitting blog, in part because there are limits to what I can post *because* of my job, in part because I don't want to bore anyone (most of all myself). But something pretty major happened, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it here. The company I work for is up for sale. There's been a lot of upheaval in the newspaper industry, and I guess I've been naive and thinking that everything is insulated for me here in my little bubble. It's mostly felt very surreal. We who worked Wednesday night and put out the paper were aware of it, but I can't imagine how shocked others must have been to see the front page on Thursday. This throws a lot of things into the air, but I'm hoping and praying that our newsroom gets through it with minimal strife (and, of course, that I still have a job when it's all said and done).

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas recap

Hi! So, I think this will be a picture-heavy post. Lots to show and tell after Christmas. I had a nice full house for Christmas. Here are my guests (minus my boyfriend) at Brutti's in Portsmouth (man that place has yummy brunch).

everyone at breakfast

That's my mom, me, my boyfriend Josh, my dad, and my brother Josh. We also went to Lynnhaven Fish House another day and my mom snapped this great shot of the stormy Chesapeake Bay:

stormy bay

I was afraid my two-bedroom apartment would be pretty cramped - and while there were people sleeping everywhere, there was no fighting or crankiness about the small quarters. Even the dogs loved it (well, at least Augie, my parents' dog, did):

smiling Augie

Augie LOVED the leopard pillow you can make out behind him. He lay on it all week. Gracie mostly gave Augie dirty looks and got mad when he tried to eat his own dog food. And if I paid *any* attention to Augie, Gracie would come over and snap. She is so darn possessive of me!

And of course there were yarny Christmas presents. My mom waited to wear her socks until after Christmas (I gave them to her three weeks ago on the trip to Pittsburgh). She modeled them for me:

Mom models her socks!

There were lots of gift exchanged. I think my family could own a small stake in Hallmark with all the ornaments we've purchased over the years, and this was no different. There were three of the "A Christmas Story" ornaments exchanged (I got my brother the one where Randy is all bundled up and can't put his arms down) among at least five others.

I must've been a very good girl this year because I got lots of great presents. My boyfriend got me an iPod dock with speakers (so I can use it like a stereo in my room), which I've been using all the time! It's so much better than listening to music on my laptop's less-than-spectacular speakers. Some friends gave my boyfriend and I a membership to a dining club, with lots of 2-for-1 entree deals at restaurants in Hampton Roads. We love to go out to eat, so I'm excited to try some new places. (As an aside, I don't think I've been a recipient of a present-for-two before. Is this some new stage in our relationship, haha?!)

But back to the yarny gifts... I think this is my favorite gift ... an umbrella swift, from my parents! I think it's from JoAnn's (someone at the college where my mom works got a handmade one and only used this one once or twice - she sold it to my mom for $25 or $30!). I of course got it out to play right away.

yarny Christmas gifts

That's my first yarn cake! It's kind of messy but I got better (I definitely wound about four or five skeins just because I could, haha.) That yarn is Noro Sakura, which my mom said she got at Knit One in Pittsburgh several visits ago. It is so gorgeous. I love seeing the subtle color shifts in the cakes. I think I might make a lacy hat or little scarf out of it. That stitch dictionary was a great gift, too. I'd love to try to design my own socks with it. For now, the Sakura will marinate in my stash because I started the socks I intended to make for my dad before Christmas and never did:

new sock!

This photo is a bit old because last night I got to the heel! It's at least aran weight, it works up so quickly. It's Country Classic Yarn for Sox, worked over 48 stitches on US 6 DPNs. Even with my slow tendencies, and my dad's size 13 feet, I will definitely have these done before I see them in February.

I showed my brother and dad the yarn for their socks - I don't think my brother really "got" the whole knitting thing until I showed him the socks I've been working on. He was well impressed! I'm so glad my family values and appreciates the yarny pursuit and the handmade items that result. I think it stems from my mom's quilting over the years - the quilts she's made are priceless.

And yes ... there was also some final stash acquisition of 2007. I got my mom a gift certificate to Ewe Knit Kits and Yarn so we went there one day. I wasn't going to buy anything - I swear - when the idea popped into my head to have my mom pick out some sock yarn for another pair of socks (someday, y'know, when I make the pair for my brother ... and finish the Monkeys for Jamie or Lauren). She picked out this yummy skein of Colinette Jitterbug:

yarn for my mom

I know the yardage is sometimes short on Colinette so hopefully it'll be OK for her size 9.5 feet. When I wound it into a cake, I was disappointed to find two little knots and one or two felted joins (in fact, you can see one - it's the fat orange section on the left side of the skein). That's kind of disappointing. I mean I can work around it, but I shouldn't *have* to. Oh well. There's been talk on the Ravelry boards about people being disappointed with Jitterbug. I have another skein in my stash, hopefully I won't run into problems with it.

We also took a trip to the Knitting Corner in Virginia Beach because it was next to a quilting store! I had never been there. I picked up three balls of Universal Pace in a nice camel color - it was really reasonably priced, I think it was about $5/ball, so I figured I could make myself some super tall socks for my big feet. Then I asked my dad to pick out some thin yarn (so I could make him some tall socks out of thin yarn for his size 13 feet!) and he picked some charcoal-colored Pace.

Oh yes ... with a couple gift cards to B&N, I got "Knitting Vintage Socks" by Nancy Bush and "Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I was hoping the EZ book had the recipe for the Baby Surprise Jacket, but alas, this isn't the one. I'll eventually get another book by her that has the pattern in it - she has such a great writing style.

To come: a post on my resolutions - how I did in 2007 and my goals for 2008. In the meantime, I'm making lunch!