Summer Has Arrived

blue toes

May in Boston was a bit of a weather disaster, with weeks of rain and 50’s until this week, summer came bursting on the scene. Last weekend was the first tease, and my 1/3 lawyer sister and I went to get our nails done and what heck, toes too. And while you’re at it, paint them blue. I think they look super fantastic in their chaco sandals. The weather is so fantastic, it’s been such a treat to ride in the not-rain to and from work. I know lots of people, including myself in August are dreading the summer weather, but I am thrilled. I’m of the opinion that you can only complain about it being too hot OR too cold. Not both, you can’t be happy ONLY when it’s 72F . And since I seem to run cold anyways, being too warm is kind of like complaining that you only have 3 months of vacation or that your husband only does the dishes 6 nights a week. Sorry dude, not a real problem.

And as such, we have lettuce which I’m sure we’ll kill within a week or two* lining the steps.

lettiuce

And we’re having asparagus lemon pasta deliciousness for dinner. Again. I know we’re a tad past asparagus season, but I only recently discovered that I LOVES it and it reminds me of being in Munich at the end of April where there were stands and stands and stands full of asparagus.

lemon asparagus

cheese and bread

And so I’m sitting down again to knit on Cherry, which I expect will be done by the end of the LONG WEEKEND COMING UP. Oh, did I mention I’m excited about the long weekend. No? You know, the 3 DAYS OFF IN A ROW? Hunh. Funny. I thought for sure I’d mentioned that.

working on front 2

*we have red thumbs (red is the opposite of green). I’ve managed to kill mint. Again. For real.

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Woolly Pursuits

So, back to woolly pursuits. The Cherry sweater has a back and about a third of the front completed, and is zipping right along. There has also been washing of fleeces. The Jacob has been separated out and is about 90% washed, and 20% carded.

alethia and turtle

I’ve never honestly tried hand-carding before. I mean, I had hand cards, and I’ve made a few really lousy rolags which I was not impressed with spinning, and determined it’s too slow and I hates it. However, since I intend to card this Jacob fleece, and I do not have a drum carder, nor a spare $700 (especially since I’ve got my eye on $200 wool combs…) I should probably try a less half assed attempt to learn to card properly.

handcarding

And guys, it’s not bad. It’s kinda fun. I actually liked it. And my new and improved rolags beat the PANTS off of the ones I was making that I hated spinning from, so I expect the spinning of these to be much nicer. Everyone says spinning from hand carded rolags is the way to go, so I’m hoping for some great success here.

And, in other exciting news, my sister and I made an excellent trip to the Goodwill store and came out $7 poorer but with a roasting pan and what we’ll call a sheet (there is some discussion about whether it is a sheet, a curtain, or a shower curtain. There was a brief discussion of it also being a duvet cover. Whatever. It’s $1.99 which is the part I care about). With that excellent purchase, I intend to wash my Romney fleece, keeping the locks intact for combing.

alethia preswash2

It’s so PRETTY! And it smells so SHEEPY in a good way. Very excited to start that. I’m trying to get through spinning my last fleeces worth of wool so I can start on these. SQUEE!!!

Ode to Running

I have posts about wool and knitting coming up, I swear. But today I wanted to mention the end of bike to work week.

There are a million things I don’t know about myself, a fact which confounds me. But by the time I’m 29, I am starting to realize a few things. I like to be around people but don’t like to be on teams. I am all about fairness and goals. I like to push myself physically for reasons that make little sense to others but somehow make sense to me. I like communities. I like technicalities. I don’t like things that are all about gadgets. I like history. I like feeling like I’m part of history. I am astounded by the subtleties of history and how it continues old things in new ways. I like science and math, especially in the experimental sense. I love spreadsheets. I don’t like stupid fiddling. I like things that serve there purpose specifically and the intricacies of why you’d pick that thing over another. I like things that are unique, in the ‘that suits you/fits you/works for you’ way, not in the ‘oh, that’s… unique’ way. I like things that are natural. I don’t like the latest fad.

For these reasons, I was lousy on softball teams (I went to one game and two practices… I was a lousy teammate. I I hate the prospect of possibly letting the whole team down by my girly swings and inability to come close to a ball never mind catch it). I love that the work you put into a training season or a sweater is evident in a personal record or a perfect sweater. I love marathoning. I love the running and knitting communities, people who ‘get it’ when the rest of the world is like “wtf man.” I love the technical training for marathons and the fitting of knits. I don’t have a fancy knitting case, but rather one made by me for exactly my needles – or more specifically my needles and those of my great Aunt Ester, who’s knitting and embroidery things still live in the same psychedelic knitting purses-turned-bags they’ve lived in the past 30-50 years.. I love the Boston Marathon and learning about traditional knits. I love seeing traditional knits done in a new way that normal people would wear. I get a familiar feeling when weddings, deaths and births happen, like this is the way things should be, this has been happening for thousands of years and a warm cozy (and sad but realistic in the case of deaths) feeling comes over me. I like graphing my miles run and my knitting charts and have spreadsheets galore for every possible thing. I don’t like sewing because if your corners don’t match or the left side is sloppier than the right, it’s not ok, it can’t be blocked, you can’t fudge it. I love that running requires sneakers, a pair of shorts, and a sports bra, knitting requires string and sticks. Even spinning requires fluff and a stick with a disk on one end. And Give me Wool or Give me Death (none of that stupid plastic stuff).

I’ve gone through many hobbies and goals and the ones that keep me going, in my soul, are knitting and running. Knitting is still there in all it’s glory. All of a sudden, on September 3rd, 2009, I picked up a rug after a hard run, and after 2 MRI’s and 3 doctors have ascertained that I tore my adductor tendon in a way that it just.won’t.heal. 1.5 years, a total of probably 6 months of PT and 3 doctors later, I’m finally in some sort of final phase of mourning over running. I will never, very likely, run a marathon again. I will possibly be running every other day for 5 miles maybe at a time. And I will be thankful for that. Running has been my stress relief, my savior, my friend through many many things. And to say I’ve been lost without it is an understatement. I cried for a week straight when it tore for the third time last Thanksgiving. I went for a final run on my birthday, Nov, 27th, knowing it would hurt like hell after but it was my birthday and damn if I wasn’t going to run.

While most people’s lemons is their doctor saying they really should get some exercise, how about running, my lemons were my doctor saying, I’m really sorry, you can run, eventually, but not like you think of running. Most people’s lemonade upon learning of an adductor tear is aww, shucks, I better get back to the couch. Mine is my bike. I’ve tried biking but it never gave me the euphoria, the total and complete happiness that running gave me. I’ve never gotten that, but I’ve admittedly never tried that hard because, well I’d switch back to running. This time I can’t. I’ve tried weights, which helped my physique but did little for my mental sanity. I need long distances, long times, speed, distance, and rhythm. I need something to keep my body busy while my mind wanders. Running was as much or more for my mind as for my body.

So at the end of April, I decided to try the bike for real. Bike commuting. Great for environment, money, and body. But I need it to be more, I need it to be my sanity. This past week was bike to work week, and the weather was lousy. I have, however, procured a fantastic don’t-kill-me-yellow jacket which as it turns out is waterproof, and my husband has a cycling cap I am borrowing and as it turns out biking in the rain is possible and even pleasant. It leads to you looking like this when you go to bring your bike into the basement where it lives.

rainy day biking

But while wandering around a neighborhood in search of a less pot-holed road, in the rain, on Thursday, I finally got a glimmer of that pure joy that I could produce almost always by running. So I’m hopeful that this will work out, that it’s just a matter of conditioning and habit. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. I am at the cape every weekend in the summer. I wear red pants every Wednesday for the past 6 years, I never leave the house without some knitting, we have homemade pizza every Friday, and I used to run 5 days a week rain or shine, 5 am or 6 pm. Here’s hoping biking can give me a little back. By the end of my 4th week of biking regularly, almost 400 miles later, I must admit, it’s no running, but my biking becoming more me, I’m more comfortable on it, and biking to work beats the pants off of sitting in traffic (and the extra 500 calories don’t hurt). This might just work out. I’m aiming for a century (100 mile ride in a day) by the fall, and while I have no doubts about my ability to complete it (I still maintain that anyone without a bum leg or knee is fully capable or running 26.2 miles with proper training, the question is in the desire) it will feel hella good to be back in the game again.

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool

Last Saturday I had a great time. This was my third time at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool and it’s interesting how your focus shifts depending on where you are in your projects. The first year I was a new spinner and bought some alpaca/cormo blended roving. The second year I purchased some yarn from some dorset horned sheep, and a shetland fleece to process myself. I was interested in breeds I had no experience with. This year followed in that step, but I may have overdone it a wee bit…

But some gratuitous fibery photos first:
NHSW
Hey Guys.

NHSW
Butts!

NHSW
Rasta sheep

NHSW
So cute, it hurts. Little wiggly noses.

A friend and I drove up to New Hampshire, which made for a quick trip, and thankfully the clouds stayed clouds and didn’t turn to rain. We had a great time. I poked around in all the fiber barns, squishing fleeces and learning about the different breeds. I wanted to try at least one new type of fleece, and I ended up coming home with two. The first fleece I bought was a Jacob named Turtle. Spotted dark brown, dark, medium and light grey with a very little ‘white,’ which is more silver I suspect. I was surprised it was as soft as it was, perhaps I just didn’t know what to expect. That one I split up right upon getting home and began washing it. The dark brown is washed and in the middle of carding!

The second was an 8 pound first fleece from a Romney names Alethita. Dark charcoal with sunbleached tips, very soft. This one will be for learning to comb.

And while we were there, checked out the sheepies, and the alpaca which amuse me to no end. I love the sheared alpaca with the puffs for heads! It was a great time had by all.

Great End To the Week

This week was a pretty good week. Firstly, it went quickly. Gotta love a week when you’re surprised it’s Friday already instead of the usual where it’s ‘only Thursday.’ I think this is at least in part because of my bike commuting. 4 days riding in on the twocycle, total of 96 miles biked (this includes two ‘long way home’ days) and re-discovering a fantastic stretch of road that I intend to make part of my normal ‘long ways home.’ I really look forward to the ride home, which I think makes the day more tolerable. And, being the queen of efficiency that I am, I am feeling rather smugly clever to be combining commuting and working out, this pleases me to no end. I am jealous of every runner I see, but I can’t run right now, so I shall bike my tushy off. Speaking of which, I’ve ordered a few new pairs of shorts. I have two good ones and two that make me hate life. I’ve also ordered some magic stuff which should make these tolerable but generally speaking, I think your clothes should be comfortable, otherwise what’s the point?

may13

I’ve also made mad progress on Cherry. I kept intending to pick it up for just a minute and then it was bedtime, but it’s almost to the armholes and I’m still in love with it.

fishing widow

Today’s weather was fantastic. Greg is off fishing, so I’m home, the laundry is half done, dishes are done, pizza is in the oven, and I’m getting ready to settle down with what’s on the table: a beer, Cherry, and my sheepie book.

in sheeps clothing

And the reason is… tomorrow is New Hampshire Sheep and Wool!! Co-workers laugh but I’m freakishly excited. Looking for my second fleece to process (one without guard hairs this time, thankyouverymuch) and whatever else I find that suits my fancy. I can’t wait. Off to check the pizza, happy Friday!

Captivating

wound yarn2

I’ve started a new sweater. A few months ago, I traded in the extra from my new favorite sweater and walked around the yarn shop for 20 minutes. For some reason nothing really stood out, except this pale pink alpaca. I kept stopping at it and then deciding, come on Kate, you don’t wear rose petal pink, and kept going. Finally after stopping at it a few times, I decided to stop creeping around the yarn shop and get it. So I came home with 660 yds of baby pink sport weight alpaca and no plan.

starting the back

While surfing through Mags‘ blog, I came across Cherry (rav link) and it made sense. I wouldn’t normally pick it because (a) it’s short sleeved and well, if it’s cold enough that I want a sweater, I probably want sleeves, an (b) it had an all over pattern making it not mindless. But it did fit the bill, and it did look cute and what the heck. So I cast on.

fuzzy

And guys. I can’t stop. It’s so fun. It’s so fuzzy and comfy and just pleasant to work with. And then those little twisties! So fun!! Hopefully quick progress continues.

Today is not your day.

This is the end of my day.

flat tire hands

You see a messenger bag, containing clothes from the day. Bike shoes. And my hand. Note carefully the dirt on my hand. Let’s just say this wasn’t my day.

I get to work, speedy bike commute, beautiful morning, no moron drivers, life is looking good. Internet is down at work. Has been on and off all week. How this occurs at a “world class facility” I will never know. But it’s not that great of a thing. Friday is Bagel Day at work. Each week, someone different has signed up to bring bagels. Typically, you know the natives get restless around 8 am. So one would assume if one rode their bike to work, there would be bagels by 8 am… 9 am was more like it today. Whatever. I am the organizer of this group of carb lovers. I was voluntold* to do this, and I’m giving up my chairmanship after being yelled at by someone not even in the group of bagel providers. Somehow, by 9 am, I had bagel drama, no internets, and was on the edge of monster hungry. This was not looking good.

Food consumed, I continued on making graphs in excel for a report due today. Excel has decided that it wants to redraw my graph every time I touch it. Seeing as how I have to change 10 different series on it’s graph to “pink,” this was not good. It mean it took me 20 minutes to make each of 6 graphs. This was not looking good, but seeing as how the bagels had exploded in my face, it was about par for the course. A series of other annoyances followed, and by 4 pm I could not be happier than I was to get on my twocycle and cycle my little tooshie home where there was a beer in the fridge.

And then, about 3 miles in, while contemplating that I really should have lubed my chain, which was sounding rather like a nest of baby mice, I felt the familiar bump, squish, fpt fpt fpt of a flat tire. And that is how my fingers got so very dirty and how the end of my no good very bad day ended. And you know what, compared to being in my windowless office fighting excel to make one line all “pink,” I didn’t mind one bit to be changing a tire on a sunny day. Thankfully the end of my trip consisted of nothing worse than a bike salmon** and I was soon home.

At this point, I put up my hands, backed away slowly from my day, and did the only sane thing I could think of. I grabbed my knitting, a homebrew in a glass and went and sat outside where there was no excel, no tires, no bagels or people to yell at me about them, and just worked on the ‘not my socks.’ The ‘not my’ part shall be explained soon.

socks and beer

knitting pint

So a synopsis of this weeks bike commute:

89 miles total, 4 days of bike commuting, 2.26 gallons of gas saved, rode in the rain one day with the pleasant discovery that it is possible and not so unpleasant, and one day of long way home, passing cows and sheepies and getting a great workout. Totally worth it every day.

*voluntold = when someone who is your superior volunteers you for something

**bike salmon = people who are going the wrong way. This woman was somewhat cluelessly barreling towards me in the bike lane on my side, when there was a perfectly excellent bike lane on just the other side of the street going in exactly the direction she was. Curious.