Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August projects

August has been a busy month for knitting and crochet! I had the wonderful Stitches Midwest convention in early August, where I bought some lovely yarns from KnitCircus and Primrose yarns.

Then I got sick for a week, and I didn't hardly knit at all. I just didn't feel like it! It was so weird.

However, I did get some projects done, and I started some fun new ones. The one at right is the finished product of the skein shown here. It was a kit of sock yarns I bought at YarnCon in April. I am really happy with it and may use the same pattern for another set of fingering / sock weight yarn I need to use up.

I also moved cubicles at work, and I made a Sophie mandala out of all purple scrap yarns to decorate the new wall. 

I think it turned out pretty cool! Very Northwestern!

I also made a violet for a coworker, which was a commission for her mother in law. Look at this happy little guy! 

I was actually really proud of myself because I did the French knots myself. For the last violet I made, someone else had to do the French knots. Kind of embarrassing for a lifetime knitter / crocheter.

Next month I'm going to be hiking the Peruvian Andes for two weeks, and I need to bring a project. I intend to bring it with me on the hike to Machu Picchu, so it has to be fairly small and something I can do without worrying about the pattern getting wet in my bag. TBD, look forward to fun pictures next time. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Taking a break

This month, I got really frustrated with this gray lace sweater I'm working on, which I had to frog for the SECOND TIME, so I decided to pick up a really simple project - a Sophie's Toes sock yarn kit I bought from Yarn Con 2016.

The yarn cake is more than 10 sock yarns tied end to end, producing a pleasing stripe pattern in a theme of color. I am using a pattern for a cowl that is 90% knit in the round for stockinette - just the easy, mindless pattern I needed right now.

I got to work on this project at the Allstate Arena the other day, where my jail knitting charity got free tickets to a Chicago Sky game. I had a lot of fun watching the game, and my charity's leader, Jo Anne Smith, won an award for her volunteer leadership. Go Committed Knitters!!

P.S. I was hoping to get on the jumbotron with my knitting, but no dice. Maybe next time.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tri time!

I finished my first triathlon today! I want to record my splits for posterity.

Time overall: 2:07:54


115 out of 140 women; 327 out of 374 people overall

This is not what I'm used to in a 5k - where I end up dead in the middle - but these were some pretty darn fit people, so I'll go easy on myself.


Swim time (700 m): 16:36 (pace: 2:05 per mile)
Transition 1: 5:13
Bike time (14 mi.): 56:16 (pace: 14.9 mph)
Transition 2: 1:30
Run time (4.5 mi.): 48:20 (pace: 10:45 per mile) 

Obviously I could shave some time off of my transitions - for example, the fastest finishers did their first transition (from swim to bike) in about a minute. I took five; I know I can do better. But the other thing is that I am just slow on my bike. I'm slow on all of them, but the bike has the most potential to improve.

To practice, and to next year!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Flowery spring projects

Flower Pot

My supervisor is retiring, so I made her a fun little parting gift: some flowers that'll never need watering! I think they turned out pretty darn cute.

I used this vintage yarn for the purple violets, and I got a lot of oohs and ahhs at the event where I made it. It's some kind of Kmart Sayelle, I think. Something I got from a garage sale pile.

I also remembered how much I hate French knots. I don't know why, but I can't do them! So frustrating.

Flower Shawl

I've wanted to do this flower wrap for years. In fact, I bought the magazine just for the pattern.

I thought you had to sew the motifs together, so I have been dreading to make it even though I bought the yarn about 2-3 years ago. I finally bit the bullet, and I discovered that it's join as you go! So the laugh's on me, I guess.

I made use of my fun new blocking squares, and I love the way it finally looks:

Definitely a shawl that demands boring shirt and pants / skirt, because it's got enough going on besides. But I like it a lot.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring projects - including cleaning!

I've been knocking out some big projects in the last couple of weeks, so I thought I'd update on progress. I'll start with the headliner...

I finished Sophie!! I did not add any of the "extra" border rows, but I did add the optional light pink flowers. I'm very glad I did.

I gave her to my friend, who was very excited indeed. I must say, I'm sort of missing working on her and having her around, so I guess I did the right thing in buying a kit to make myself one next year. I'll be using a smaller hook to crochet the first few parts, though, because this thing bulges in the center something awful.

In the midst of knitting some other projects that are somewhat frustrating (neither of which is finished yet), I knocked out a quick little pattern of some bulky weight crochet baskets. I had some extra bulky yarn lying around, and I'm trying to clean house a bit.

I think they are the cutest!! I have them at work right now because I don't know what I want to do with them. But I can tell there are more of these in my future. 

And speaking of cleaning house, I took a total inventory of my yarn today, organizing by color and donating a few skeins. 

Obviously I have quite a bit of yarn. But my closets look very nice now, and I have a better idea of what's in there now. And I found some bulky yarn to make some more baskets!

And I saved the funnest one for last - I completed an amigurumi airplane!

My friends had a kid, and I haven't crocheted anything for him since the blanket for the shower. The father of this particular child is really really into airplanes, and I found a cute pattern online.

Here are all the pieces:

Sewing it together was a bit slow-going, because each of the wing pieces and propellers had to be made twice and then sewn together so that they stood up sturdily. In fact, the wings also contain some plastic canvas cut to size, which helps them hang straight out.

The pattern was pretty cool and turned out exactly like the photo, but I did find some errors. I don't think anyone else on Ravelry has made the pattern, so I might be the first to notice, so here are the errors I found in case anyone following me needs this information:

Side Wings Rows 48-53 should say TWICE, not once
As written, the propeller body has two more rows of single crochets on one side (1-10) than the other (11-18)
Propeller Tops Round 2 should be “sc in 2nd ch and across” (as written it only tells you to sc in the 2nd ch.
Well, that's it for Val's World of Crochet today. I'm also working on a couple of sweaters, but I'm dreading one of them and bored with the other. Must soldier on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shufflin' my shammy

I just ran my first Shamrock Shuffle! This is kind of a big deal for me because it's one of the most popular and fun races in Chicago, it kicks off the Chicago running season, AND - most importantly - my husband and friends have been running it for years, and I never thought I could do it, and I DID IT.

My goal was at least under 55 minutes, and dream goal was 50 minutes. I got to 52:24, which is pretty much dead in the center of those two goals. So I'll take it. 

Here's a photo of Grant Park as all the runners began arriving. I had a pretty good vantage point from my 12th floor room at the Congress Hotel!

And here's my view in G corral!

It was a chilly morning, but aside from my cold hands, I wasn't too affected by the temperature during the run. Afterward, I even drank most of my beer! (I'm sure a beer will taste nicer after a summer run.)

Inspired by what a fun race the Shuffle was, I signed up for a triathlon in June. A few of my law school friends did it last summer, so I figure I'm in good enough shape to do it, too. The training schedule got fairly complex, because I'm also training for the Soldier Field 10-miler, but I figure that the triathlon training counts as cross-training for that run!

By the way, for those of you more interested in crochet than running, I finished the Sophie's Universe blanket and will post photos soon!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Four-word self help books

I was having a funny discussion with a coworker today about condensing a self-help book into four words. Here are the ones we came up with:

  • Take action; be grateful.
  • Get your shit together.
  • Live like you're 80.
Other submissions:
  • Stop sitting, start moving.
  • Just get a dog.
  • Lower your crazy expectations.
  • You're gonna die anyway.
  • Take yourself less seriously.
  • Who said life's fair?
I love them all.