Friday, January 29, 2010

Just in time for the SuperBowl...

...I FINALLY finished my Colts square!

This was my first project knitting intarsia, which basically means incorporating more than one yarn color within rows to create a pattern (here, the letters and horseshoe logo in blue on a background of white). The biggest problem I had with intarsia was keeping track of my yarn. I ran into a lot if twists, knots, and tangles along the way. When knitting intarsia, you carry the color not in use across the back of the work. I didn't leave enough slack when I started the letters, which is why they look slightly puckered (the blue yarn is pulled tight against the back of the work, not allowing the stitches to lay flat). About halfway through this project, I read a blog on intarsia that suggested twisting the two yarns together every 4 or 5 stitches to keep the proper tension and eliminate the pulling. It worked, but I don't really like how you can sort of see the blue through the white. But, all in all, I call this a successful first intarsia project! You be the judge...

Intarsia was slightly difficult and required quite a bit of concentration to follow the pattern, but I will definitely use this technique in the future, and this was a great first project to try it out on. Now, I'm not sure what to do with my finished "square". It measures about 16" by 16", so I'm thinking about knitting a solid blue back and turning it into a pillow. Otherwise, I could just use it as a spirit flag! :) Your suggestions are welcomed!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cast on for the Colts!

I've blogged before about how I have displaced fan syndrome, being a die-hard Colts supporter in a city of teal and spots. For the most part, I can treat my problem with shopping online (I got my new Dwight Freeney jersey in plenty of time for today's game), checking ninety times a day, and watching a lot of SportsCenter. There are some things, though, that I can't possibly know about without living in Indianapolis.

Thank God for my Aunt Brenda, Indy native and knitter extraordinaire. The email I got from her today was *almost* as exciting as the Colts victory, and I am so excited about the project that will keep me busy as I wait for this year's SuperBowl and well into next season. Check out what Indianapolis is doing in preparation for their SuperBowl host year (Febraury 2012)...

In February, 2012, Indianapolis will welcome the world as it hosts NFL Super Bowl XLVI in Lucas Oil Stadium. Staging this game – and dozens of related community events – will require the efforts of nearly 8,000 energetic volunteers. In an effort to show appreciation for each volunteer’s good work, the Indianapolis Host Committee is asking the community to hand knit a unique scarf for each of them. This personalized memento, aside from being part of the Official Volunteer Uniform, will serve as a warm “Thank You” for their service, and provide an instant connection between the scarf makers and wearers. Indianapolis has a rich tradition of volunteerism; let’s continue that history with the Super Scarf Project!

If you live in Indy, you can actually pick up scarf KITS at any Marion County Public Library (shoutout to my favorite librarian!!). There are no specific patterns, but they do give you a few samples, and designate that the scarf must be ALL blue and white. Actually, they even pre-selected the exact colors (and I am thrilled to report that my personal yarn stash is stocked in the same Red Heart blue and white that this committee deemed Colts-appropriate).

This will not be the first Colts scarf I've made...

I actually cranked out two of those bad boys (one for me, one for Em) and wear mine pretty regularly throughout the winter (which lasts about 2 weeks here). It really compliments the majority of the rest of my wardrobe...

I can't wait to cast on my first scarf, and then watch with eagle eyes during SBXLVI to see a volunteer wearing it. Blue models it so nicely! (that pic was taken at last week's playoff game!) If you are a beginning knitter and/or a Colts fan, this is an AWESOME project to be involved with. Let me know if you want to join... and in the meantime, GO HORSE!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hostile Takeover.

It's no surprise to anyone still reading this that my blog is NOT about knitting. It should be, but it's not. Instead, it's more of a sounding board for whatever hobby is striking my fancy that day. Recently, it's been running.

I made a goal for myself to run a half marathon this year (more on why, etc. in another post). Having two very fabulous besties as marathon vets has made my training pretty easy -- they're there to answer my questions, they understand what I'm going through, and they help keep me motivated. Conquering the weekly mileage has actually been one of the easiest things about training. Let me tell you about some of the ways my body has reacted to the 15-20 miles a week I'm taking it:

-- I am TIRED. I mean, I know the "work retail during the holidays" tired. I've experienced "I just had 3 20 page papers due and I've been up for 72 straight hours" tired. I'm even familiar with the "I just slept for so long I can't possible consider getting out of bed without clocking another 8 hours" exhaustion. But this "running" tired is something I've never known. My body craves sleep -- at LEAST 7 hours a night, but easily 10-11 (especially mornings after a long run) if I'll let it. I've even NAPPED a few times this weekend after my 7 miler. It seems I just cannot get enough rest.

-- I'm STARVING. Am I the only person to actually GAIN weight while burning ridiculous amounts of calories training for a race? I can't get full. I eat all. the. time. I have been pretty good about staying with healthy (ish) foods, but my portions are insane. I swear I ate a 32 oz. container of fat free cottage cheese in 2 days. I made applesauce in the crock pot today out of EIGHT apples and it's halfway gone already. I've developed a serious peanut butter and Eggos addiction. The worst part is, I know I am eating ALL of the calories I'm burning on my runs (and then some), but I can't quit!

-- I'm getting REALLY ANNOYING. All I talk about is running, because it seems like it is all I'm doing. I know balance is important, and I do do (hehe, doodoo) other things (like eat! and sleep!), but I find myself telling people how far I ran, or did you see the new Nike headphones at Dick's, or do you know how to configure my Garmin settings? I'm trying to stop myself from commenting on my sore shins, or the blister on my right toe because I left my socks out of my gym bag and ran 4 miles without them, or bring up how much I LOVE spandex. My apologies to everyone for my irritating running rants (silly, really, because this entire blog post is one of them!).

-- Everything else I do has gone out the window. Sure, I'm keeping up on Idol ("Walkin', talkin', with your pants on the ground!"), I caught the premiere of P. Runway, and I didn't miss a second of this weekend's NFL playoff action. But TV is pretty much the extent of it.

I haven't picked up my knitting since I naively started a Christmas gift project at the beginning of December. But I know that balance is important, and you shouldn't always be about just one thing. So tonight, I'm logging in to ravelry. I'm going to pick out some cute patterns. I'm going to post them here. And this week, I AM GOING TO FINISH THAT DAMN COLTS SQUARE (sure to be part of a Super Bowl XLIV Champs blanket). I will find balance between work, running, and knitting. I will fulfill my roles as boss, wife, and dog mom. I mean, I can do this -- I'm not even planning a wedding!

In the spirit of this post, "On The Go" has been updated to reflect part of a playlist I'm working on (working title: "GO. RUNNING. NOW.").

No more posts about running this week, I PROMISE!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

6 Miles - CHECK!

It was cold, I was fighting the end of an upper respiratory/stuffiness ick, and I was supremely undermotivated, but I got my butt out the door today and whacked my 6 miles off my training schedule. Time doesn't matter, so I put a smiley over that area, but I am proud to say I did not walk ONCE. My feet may have slowed to a shuffle slower than my grandmother's mall walking pace, but by all definitions, I was not walking. This week I am facing 4 miles on Monday and Wednesday, 2 on Tuesday, an "easy run" on Thursday, and I am supposed to do a "5K race" on Saturday. I haven't found a race yet, so I might skip ahead and do my 7 miles this weekend. We'll see how the legs hold up!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Out With The Old!

Keeping a blog is so handy. This morning, when I was thinking about the new year and if I should make any hollow resolutions, I realized that I couldn't remember what the hell I had wanted to accomplish in '09. Then I remembered my BLOG! So I went back through some past entries, and look at what I penned on 12/30/08...

I've been reading that instead of picking huge, daunting goals (i.e. "I'm going to the gym every day!" or "No more Starbucks, EVER!"), you should focus on small goals that will be easy to accomplish, yet contribute to your overall resolution. On a personal level, I'd like to be more fashionable, so I am going to accessorize more and limit my ponytails to no more than 4 days a week. For my overall wellness, I do have a weight loss goal, but my resolutions are to limit food court breakfast treats to one per paycheck (that's only one trip to Panera every two weeks!) and pack my lunch at least twice a week. I also plan to walk Lilly at least once a week, instead of just turning her loose to run all her energy out in the backyard. As far as my knitting goes, I am thinking of picking a project to work on during this season's American Idol, so that in May, instead of focusing on the countless hours I wasted watching the show, I will have some fabulous knit garment to envy!

I am happy to report that I have been VERY good about accessorizing, and in addition to wearing my hair down most days, I am even alternating between straight and curly (!). That thing about the food court is pretty hilarious... but I did pack my lunch most of the year (until holiday hysteria set in), and Lilly does get walked regularly :) The knitting goal was an epic fail, and I can't think of one single thing I produced this year. So, we'll call '09 a 50/50 for resolutions, and look to the future for more successes...

If I am going to continue with this trend of accessorizing and my new goal of elevating my personal aesthetic, I had to start at the ground level.

By that, I mean ground zero.

The pile of rubble that used to be my closet.

For the most part, I really am a fairly organized person. I am a bit of a "piler", though... I make piles and then ignore them. I have a ridiculously full junk drawer in the kitchen. I hide stuff under my bed. I put handfuls of old receipts into purses I'm not using, instead of into the trash can where they belong. You get the idea. On the outside, the picture of pulled-together-ness, but on the inside, some messy secrets. The one thing that always remains sorted, colorized, and finger spaced, however, is my closet. It is my moment of sanctuary at the start of my day. The place where the ensemble I choose could make me feel fabulous or... fat, and horrible, for the entire day. I understand that this sounds decidedly shallow, but it's true. You can't BE great if you don't FEEL great, and I can't feel great if I don't feel like I look great (whew). The closet situation in this house has never been ideal, and although I have been granted full access of the "master" closet, and given the guest room closet for my outerwear, I still struggle from season to season. I have to stay on top of editing, and if I haven't work it in 90 days, it gets the boot, for good. The tricky part about the climate here in north Florida is that you don't have a seasonal closet changeover -- I have to be ready for a sleeveless dress or a turtleneck sweater at a moment's notice! The finicky weather over the past few weeks has contributed to what I can only call the worst closet catastrophe of my time. Truth is, I never really dug my house out of the post-wedding mess, and then I rolled straight into the holiday season, which meant long(ish) hours and sheer exhaustion. It was all I could do to maintain clean dishes, washed laundry, and fed dogs. When the smoke had cleared and the holidays ended, I took in the true mess that I had let my closet become...

Look at that MESS! Hangers everywhere! Short sleeves mixed with long! A pile of jewelry on the floor that, I'm ashamed to say, had been there for WEEKS. In short, a complete disaster. I knew I couldn't start my year as a fabulous looking, feel-good working girl without gutting this thing clean.

First things first -- a nice big pile to take to consignment! I used to have a real problem letting things go. I always thought about how much it had cost, or if someone had given it to me as a gift, or if I might regret getting rid of it, or if I might actually lose 20 pounds and be able to wear it again... Since we've moved into this house, though, I've been much better. If I'm not using it, it goes. If I'm over it, it's outta here. I do have a small area to keep the question marks -- a few pieces, from each bi-annual closet gutting sesh, that I keep in that back of the spare closet. If, within 90 days, I don't go after them, they either get consigned or donated. If I go back for them, and wear them, they get to stay (they hardly EVER get to stay). I was feeling especially editorial today, and ended up with a nice pile for donation/consignment that even included a few "designer" handbags...

After the gutting, it was time to decide on an organization method. I tend to mix this up from time to time, although my go-to is usually to organize my sleeve length, then color (lightest to darkest). Today, I thought about what I wear most and how to make it accessible. I also thought about how I want to layer more, so I ultimately decided on mixing ALL sleeve lengths. I separated cardigans to the most accessible side of the closet (as I wear at least one every day), jackets and Colts gear to the back corner (I know where it is when I need it), all sleeve length tops down the middle, then my few pants and my ever-growing dress collection (currently at 34). Then I decided what needed to be folded vs. hung, and what accessories could stay in the closet vs. what should live on my dresser (costume = closet, quality = j. box). The end result is organized and most ideal for my tiny, tiny, space. I think it will lend itself toward some stellar outfit selection!

By adding VIP spaces for favorites (Betsey bag, Colts spirit beads), I know a little bit of happy will be infused into my attitude every morning when I get dressed. Now I know what I own, what I need (skinny denim), and most importantly, what I DON'T need (a v-neck tee in any color). I'm thinking of holding myself accountable for being stylish by posting some daily outfit pics to the blog. Then again, I've never been one for keeping resolutions...