Fall? Is That You?

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Today was a beautiful weather day! Here in Wisconsin, despite the fact that it is mid-July, it was a cool low sixties and just about perfect in my opinion. I love fall. It’s my favorite season. I love how crisp the air smells. I love the way the world turns deep, rich shades of red and orange. I love sweaters and boots and, ahem, hand knits. I love football. I love pie and cider. I love carving pumpkins and picking apples. I love stomping on crunchy leaves. I love the spooky chill of Halloween and the warm embrace of Thanksgiving. As a runner, I love going on a nice, long run where the low temps keep me from even breaking a sweat. As a teacher, I love how my students are on their best behavior (something about the beginning of the school year keeps most of them in line). I just love fall!

And today, in the dead of summer, I got a precious pretend fall day! Wonderful! Just splendid! And there is nothing like a dip in temperatures to make me run to the needles (knitting needles, that is. I think that statement could be construed as a drug reference).

I have two sweaters already in progress that I would really like to get done before October so I can have plenty of time to knit my Christmas Sweater 2014 edition. One is my Still Light Tunic, which is thisclose to being finished, but it is currently in timeout for being boring. I think it will be a very heavily worn fall/winter clothing article, so I would like to get it done before it actually starts getting cold around here. The other is the Locke St. Cardigan I am making for my mother. I’ve been working on this a ton the last few days because it is cabley and fun, not like that naughty Still Light. And I really want it to be a birthday gift for my mom on October 19th.

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I think I have given myself a pretty generous deadline, but I never know when I will get distracted by something new and shiny. Startitis is real, everyone.

Happy knitting!

A Finished Shawl

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I have done it! I have finally finished my Color Affection! I cast this bad boy on over a year ago using Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace and since then it has been a never ending and monotonous pain in my butt. I would literally get through a row of it and then have to put it away for a few weeks. That is how much it wore me out. It is beyond beautiful and I love the end product, but never again will I knit another one of these.
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For the most part, I followed the pattern as written, but instead of a solid border as called for, I knit a tri-colored border. I saw a couple other projects on Ravelry that did this and I thought it brought the project together a little bit more. I also made my border about a half-inch wider than the pattern suggests, just to give the shawl more size.
I am so excited to wear this come fall. The colors are dark, rich, and slightly moody, which will be perfect for crisp and spooky fall days. And it also matches my most favorite faux leather bomber jacket perfectly, so I will be looking fabulous! ;)

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Normally, I would have modeled my new creation in its debut photo shoot, but I am feeling rather like a bum today and I don’t want to put the effort in to fix that. No makeup, messy hair, and running tights are my quintessential summer look, but they don’t pair well with hand knits, so I’m just going to let my living room and backyard wear my new shawl for pictures. Enjoy!

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For Mama

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It has been a while since I last blogged, but I am happy to report that the school year has finished and I can now put some of my teacher responsibilities on hold and enjoy summer vacation. There are still books to read, conferences to attend, and lesson plans to concoct, but it is nice to take a break from being “Ms. Ruby” for a while and get back to just being “Emily.”

There is an abundance of knitting time in my near future. Even with marathon training, Ultimate games and practices, novel reading, social outings, and work responsibilities, I have so much knitting time these days! It is a precious gift I plan on taking full advantage of.

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I’ve continued working diligently on my Still Light Tunic and, by golly, I am still not finished with the body. I am thisclose to being done with it, but as this is a never-ending stockinette monstrosity, I’m starting to think it will never be done. I have about nineteen rounds left (yes, I have a countdown going) until I can cast-off the body. This is assuming it is long enough when I try it on, but as a tall person more length might still be needed. Then I’ve got pocket linings and sleeves and this bad boy will be finished. Oy vey!

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I have also cast on a(nother) new project that is very special and exciting. I am finally getting around to making my mother a sweater and I have spared no expense. I am making her the Locke St. Cardigan out of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label in Sunset. The pattern and yarn are both extremely delicious. This thing is going to be seriously gorgeous. She knows that a sweater is coming her way, but she knows nothing about what it will look like or what the yarn quality will be. I get jealous every time I work on it that it will not belong to me when it is finished. I think this is a good indication that she will love it!

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My mom is the very best and she deserves the very best! She is a sassy, spunky, in your face, doesn’t take “no” for an answer, kind of lady. My friends always joke that my mom is a “force” and being on her bad side would be just about the worst thing ever. This translates into the fiercest kind of mama-bear there is. My mom has always gone to bat for me, always fights my case, and along the way has taught me to stand for myself and what I believe. I too have been described as a sassy, spunky, force of nature with a slight attitude problem. Look no further than the strong woman who raised me and it makes perfect sense.

My mom is also an amazing quilter and appreciates the textile and fiber arts in a way that most people don’t. My whole life has been a collection of handmade blankets, pillows, Halloween costumes, and clothes, all made from mama with love. My mom loves that I knit and speaks of my work to anyone who will listen (and plenty of people who aren’t listening). She has been saying for years that, “One day you’ll get around to making your mother a sweater. I only raised you.” Or, “ There’s an empty space in my closet for the sweater you will make me someday.” Can you feel the sass? The time has come! I hope she loves it!

Happy summer knitting!

Steadfast and True

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I am typically a “bouncy” knitter. I bounce around from project to project, a little here, a little there, in an attempt to avoid boredom. Projects seem fresh and new to me after they have been sitting for a few weeks. Just to give you an idea, currently on my Ravelry project page I have twelve projects on the needles, five of which are sweaters, and eight additional hibernating projects. Good golly! I don’t know if this is standard for knitters, but I feel like I have some sort of problem. Funny story: I was at a local yarn shop and I was talking to the girl that was working while she wound my yarn. She mentioned that she had three projects on the needles. I said, “Three?! Only three? I have, like, twenty!” And she said, “No, I mean three with me here today at work. I have a million more at home!” I guess if there are people out there who bring three knitting projects with them to work, where knitting time is less than abundant, it is pretty normal to have so much going on. I vow, here and now, to finish all of these projects, by the way. Amen.

All that bouncing, however, makes progress on any one item quite slow, and every once in a while I get to a point where I really want to finish something. And then I commit. I work steadfast and true on one single project until it is wearable. I went to my stack of unfinished sweaters this past week and picked the oldest and most daunting in the pile, my Still Light Tunic.

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The Still Light is less like a sweater and more like a dress. Made out of fingering weight yarn. Entirely stockinette. For those of you doing the math, why yes, it is a marathon of boring and eventless knitting. You know a project is bad when a “make one left” is exciting. But, alas, I really want the gorgeous finished product of this dress and, like I said, steadfast and true, and I have added about four inches to the length in the past week. I am almost ready to make the front pocket (Stop the press! It’s party time!), and then I may even try it on. I have yet to actually put the dress on to see if it fits. I know that even if it didn’t fit, I wouldn’t have the heart to rip it back, so I haven’t bothered to this point. Too big? I’ll get a belt. Too small? I’ll eat more salad. This thing is getting worn.

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I ordered some yarn and bought a pattern for a very special project that I hope to start this week! Stay tuned for the details!

Happy knitting!

Madison Twilight 10K

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This past Saturday night was the Madison Twilight 10K. I have been so looking forward to this race because of its 8:00 p.m. start time. I love night runs. There is something mysterious and mischievous about the night, and I feel like I run better at this time of day. So, armed with a neon shirt and a battery operated glow stick (provided in my race swag bag) I set off!

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The last few weeks leading up to this race did not go very smoothly. Three weeks beforehand, I started getting a nagging pain in my left hip, probably from overuse. I took a lot of days off and only went on about four training runs in total for two weeks (very, very bad for someone who is training for a marathon, but I needed it something fierce). Shortly after my hip issues started, I had a pinched nerve in my neck, which made it impossible to move my upper body without feeling pain for about a week. A couple days before the 10K, things in my body were finally starting to feel better. I was very optimistic. My feelings of good juju settled in just in time for me to get a cold. A runny nose, sneezing, coughing, big headed feeling sickness that sidelined me for another few scheduled training runs. All in all, about five runs over a three-week period, when I should have done about twelve.

I was still feeling a little sick at the start of the 10K, but I love race day, so I was still very excited. I had decided that I was going to go easy on myself. I think runners can be very hard on themselves, feeling guilty if they skip a training run or let down if they don’t hit the time they hoped to in a race. After much internal deliberation, though, I knew that I needed my days off and that I was slightly undertrained because of it. I knew that I was still feeling the nagging effects of injury and sickness, which meant that this was not going to be my best race. And I was okay with that. I love running, even if I’m not at my absolute best. I was going to haul my butt six miles and I wasn’t going to kill myself doing it. I would walk if I needed and slow down if I felt inclined and I wasn’t going to let myself feel bad about it.

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I finished in 1:22:03, which is about an average 13:13 pace. It’s very slow, even for me, but I’m fine with it. Given the hurdles this last month has thrown at me, I’m glad I finished and I’m ready to push forward in the next phase of my training.

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The race was very well run and everything went smoothly. With the exception of Observatory Hill (that relentless bitch) the course was decently flat and easy to run. There were so many helpful volunteers passing out water, marking the racecourse, and cheering on runners. I’m very glad that this is the same organization that is putting on my marathon this fall. I got a very cool shirt and finisher medal, as well as free pizza and beer at the finish line (Ahh, nothing says good health like pizza and beer!).

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With the unofficial start of summer this past weekend, I have a lot of things to look forward to. My next race, the Lake Country Half Marathon, is not until the end of August, but Ultimate Frisbee summer league starts next week and I could kiss someone I’m so excited. Training four days a week and playing Ultimate two days a week is exhausting, but so incredibly fun. I can’t wait!

Hope your summer if full of adventure! And knitting, of course!

Busy and Joyous Days

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Life has been absolutely crazy over in my neck of the woods this past week. I stood up in one of my very dear friend’s wedding this weekend and have been gearing up for all of the festivities for a few weeks now.

The wedding was gorgeous! So full of love and happiness. I am honored that I got to be apart of it. It was so wonderful to celebrate with friends!

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The beautiful couple!

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Prayer circle.

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My aisle buddy was an old friend from college I had not seen in so long!

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The venue was gorgeous!

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It was so wonderful spending time with friends! That’s me in the middle!

On a knitting note, I have started a new project (yes I know I have a million on the needles already. Is this normal?) I could no longer deny myself the privilege of knitting the Embrace Octopus sweater. It is a stranded color work piece that has a giant octopus and all of its tentacle-ly glory wrapping every which way around the sweater. It is so amazing and slightly kitschy in the most fantastic way possible.

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This one has been a blast to knit so far! Every row is different and it is so fun to watch my octopus friend grow. Plus, it is knit out of bulky (Cascade Eco) yarn, so he is growing quite quickly. I think this one will be done in no time. I had to start over a few times to mess with sizing, but I think I finally have a good thing going. I’m looking forward to getting back to some solid knitting time after the crazy, hectic week I had.

I hope you are and will continue to have a wonderful start to your summer season. In the next few weeks I have a 10K race, a graduation party, another wedding, the start of Frisbee season, and the end of the school year. It should be a fun and exciting time and I hope your days are also filled with joy and adventure, and of course, knitting.

Have a great week!