Monday, May 22, 2017

Running progress

I completed my first half marathon! It wasn't in my "dream" time of 10-minute miles (and honestly, that may never happen), but I finished it, and jogged the whole time except for water breaks.

I jogged the first eight miles with my coworker, which actually made the time pass really well. She and I almost never jog with other people, but we're about on the same pace and we encouraged each other to keep going.

I had been having some knee pain since a bike ride and walk the previous weekend, otherwise my body felt very conditioned and ready for the race at the pace I was going. The knee really hurts today, so I'm trying to take it easy.

The distance was a good challenge, but man, I don't think I could do a marathon. (Maybe I will look back at this post in a few years and laugh.) I will never say never, but I can't imagine training for, and completing, much more than I did yesterday.

Pondering the decisions that
brought me to this place
I've got the Soldier Field 10-miler next weekend, and I'm a little nervous about the knee. Then I've got a sprint triathlon in June and an international distance one in July.

What I liked about the half marathon training was the progressive challenge of the training weekends, and the ability to eat a lot. However, I need to eat less than I think, because that kind of thinking led me to gain a couple of pounds back. And running will be easier and faster without those couple of pounds!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Sandwiches & shamrocks

I made a project in March that I've wanted to make for years - crocheted sandwich!!

Look at these layers. The bread pieces were kind of pains in the butt, because you had to make two layers and sew them together. But the other pieces were quick, and the tomato slices came out so cute!!

These are for a friend's kids. She's got a new baby, so I guess it's ostensibly for him, but her four-year-old is more likely to be able to enjoy it for the moment.

I shipped them in little Ziploc bags to emulate a real sandwich! Not pictured: I also made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

April came in with a bang - my birthday is April 1, so it always sneaks up on me. This year I had a fantastic weekend of voting for myself as library trustee in the local election, getting beer with friends at Lagunitas, running the Shamrock Shuffle for the second time, and attending Yarn Con! Phew.

The weather on the morning of the Shuffle threatened to rain, but it turned out just fine. Much warmer than last year, and my time was improved by a minute and ten seconds! Hopefully I can get under 10-minute miles next year.

Still sporting my participant medal, I attended Yarn Con in the west loop with Dave and some coworkers. It was their first yarn convention, so I think they were a little overwhelmed, but we all came away with amazing goodies. For instance, this wonderful handspun beauty from my favorite booth this year, BunnyBadger Fibers: 

It's a good starter convention because it is rather small - the size of a gymnasium, compared to Stitches Midwest in a true convention center. The fiber artists are mostly local, too, and you get to meet some really inspiring fiber artists.

Other favorite booths included Knit Circus and Leading Men Fiber Arts. Always wonderful!

I've got some other really fun projects coming up, including more crocheted food for a friend's two-year-old. I have been itching to post them to my Instagram page, but the kid's dad follows me and I want them to be surprised. I'll post next week after they've received the items.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gifts for others: babies and charities

Food baby gifts

My husband has a cousin in Boston who is expecting his first child with his wife. They are foodies and have cute modern style, and I asked them what kind of awesome baby gear they wanted. 

I have made a lot of things over the years, so I had a lot of choices available. They asked for sushi, or maybe donuts. I thought, hey, sushi can be for the wife's side of things (she's super chic and health conscious) and donuts can be for the husband's side of things (more goofy and indulgent). 

And best of all, I got to use scrap yarn for these cute little guys! So stackable and adorable.

The sushi was super fun to knit; I had one crochet pattern from a book, but I wasn't a fan of how it looked. I had been eyeing Needlenoodles' sushi set for a long time, so I decided, now is the time to jump on it.

And they turned out so cute!! I decided to do three rolls and three nori, which are adorable. I also learned some new techniques while making these. Of course, you should serve with DPN chopsticks...

Winter clothing for Syrian refugees

My coworker told me about the Syrian Refugee Knitting Project - a cool charity that is sending knitted and crocheted winter items to Syrian refugees throughout the world.

I sprung my fiber network into action and was able to collect donations from my crochet group in the burbs, my knitting group at work, and even some donations from Committed Knitters, the charity I volunteer for to teach knitting and crochet to inmates in the Cook County Jail.

Here's the first box:

And the second! Clearly, we got a good mix of hats, gloves, and scarves. Wide range of colors and sizes, too. 

Part of this project, for me, is showing Syrian refugees that America - and most humans - are not the irrationally fearful and racist individuals that end up on the news (or in public office...sigh). We are welcoming, we are concerned, and we are sympathetic. This is our Midwestern American spirit, knitted up into yarn items and sent off to warm others abroad.

I've got some big projects cooking otherwise, and I hope to be able to post photos of my finished gray poncho soon. So far, it has looked like a sad trash bag, so I haven't wanted to post photos to my Instagram.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Stitch marker frenzy

When I attended the Stitches Midwest convention last year, I met some ladies in a booth that asked me if I had any stitch markers to trade. I looked at their table, which had a large bowl of homemade stitch markers with adorable little rainbow charms attached.

I didn't have any markers to trade, but they let me have a rainbow pin anyway. (Thanks, ladies!) I told myself I'd make lots of markers to bring next year for trading.

On a whim, I checked out the beading section of my local JoAnn Superstore. They had adorable tassels...

And turquoise skulls...

And gorgeous ruby beads...

And matryoskha dolls...

And flamingos!!

I gave the matryoshkas, tassels, and flamingos to coworkers as gifts. Most of them are young and also new to crochet / knitting, so their stitch markers right now are paperclips. I thought I'd help them get a little more fancy.

The pins you see above are called bulb pins (which my JoAnn crew helped me identify). All you need to get started are beads, pins, rings, and pliers.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Incan Doors: Part 2

And now for the doors of Machu Picchu. Enjoy.

This one is a little hidden, but it's in the fog on top of the terraced hill!

My favorite!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Incan Doors: Part 1

I threatened to do a post with just the Incan doors I loved from my recent trip to Peru. I have now FINALLY organized my photos from that trip (see my Shutterfly vacation page here for the whole trip) and created a special folder with just the doors.

Here are the non-Machu Picchu doors:



Technically a window!

Wind Gate, a.k.a. Huayra Punku:


And now hopefully you see why I love these trapezoidal things so much.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Winter break projects

Northwestern University gave us the full week off between Christmas and New Years, so you know what that means. I was crocheting and knitting my hands off (almost literally).

The first set of projects were some bulky hats I made for the clothing drive at my local library. I had some extra yarn from these bulky basket sets I made, so I did mix and match hats from a pattern I've made before.

I also dropped off a scarf I didn't want (but never wore), so the clothing drive got a nice little donation from my household this year. (I even saw my stuff in the picture that the Palatine Library posted on social media!)

One of my favorite but simplest new things is a cowl to go with the hat and gloves I already knitted a few months ago. 

The hat and gloves are Playbill by Leading Men Fiber Arts, colorway Punk Rock Highlights. I did the hat in Peru and had enough left over to do the gloves. (Bought this yarn at YarnCon Chicago 2016. Love this vendor!)

I wanted to make a cowl to match, but I didn't have anything that matched these fabulous gold and pink tones. 

I found Nature Spun Sport Weight by Brown Sheep, colorway Goldenrod, in Kanawha City Yarn Co. while I was traveling for Thanksgiving. I love that store and enjoy visiting it when we see Dave's family.

I modified a plain cowl pattern to include the zig-zag that appears in the hat. Yes, I like to be matchy matchy.

Another find at Kanawha City Yarn was Malabrigo Caracol, the yarn that looks like stained glass.

I used this yarn to make a hat-scarf combo for my mother in law, although I had to get some bulky black yarn because I didn't have enough Caracol. 

One other completed object is a lacy sweater I've been working on for a long time. I found it in a Vogue Knitting crochet special issue in 2012 and fell in love. I found a lovely cream blend on KnitPicks.

I've still got to block it, but I'll post a photo to Instagram when it's done. I do know that it fits, which is a relief. It looked really big when I was making it.

I worked on two other things that I posted about on Instagram, but they aren't completed yet. The first is a glove set (one down, one to go). The second is a legwarmer set (one down, one almost down). I am really happy about both of them, especially the yarn.

One thing I learned this week, though, is that I probably can't (or shouldn't) crochet 12 hours a day for 8 days straight... I got back to work on Tuesday and was typing with claw hands. Gotta take it easy.