Monday, August 29, 2005

Triathlon, Knitting, Golf and Dirty Laundry

That's the past weekend in a nutshell. I was busy and well, now I'm kind of tired. My company sponsors annual site games, like a mini Olympics. Each company site has its own set of games and athletes. The events are spread out over several days. This past Saturday they had the triathlon, 5K and 10K activities. Karl was signed up by another friend of ours and he frantically started training about 2 weeks ago. There were two triathlon groups, A and B. The "A's" were the competitive ones, those that have done their fair share of triathlons and were expecting to finish in about 1.5 hours or less. The swim was 500 yards in the lake, the bike ride was 14 miles on a hilly paved trail and the run was a 5K. The B group started about 10 minutes after the A group swimmers were all out of the water. After the B group had transitioned to the bike ride, the 10K runners lined up and were on their way. They had to run the course twice because the route was only marked for the 5K. That was kind of a bummer.
Friends and coworkers came to cheer on all the athletes but the cutest and by far the most endearing was a family of 3 kids who came with signs saying, "Go Dad!"
There weren't many women at all in either triathlon group, at least not individual competitors. There were some women who participated in the relay portions. Regardless, I was really impressed with how fit these ladies were and I vowed afterwards that I would get in better shape. Cindy, pictured as she began her transition from the bike ride to the run, had tried to persuade me to sign up. She's in her early 40's and is fantastically fit. She did her first triathlon last summer.
In other weekend activities, I finished the front of the tank top and man is it revealing. Not only is it cropped but the V-neck is something to behold. I will have to pick up stitches around the neck anyway but I had originally planned to just do single crochet. Now it looks like I'll be doing about an inch of seed stitch.

On Sunday morning, I got up early and, because I had vowed to get into better shape, ran 9 miles for my long run. I felt good for most of it. The worst was in the first 4 minutes where my knee hurt so bad I wanted to cry. Then the pain went away. I will admit that I'm in denial about this and am refusing to see my doctor.

When I got home, Karl was in a grumpy mood because he had to clean up from an aborted wash attempt - our washing machine finally died. We had to make an emergency visit to Lowe's and bought a brand new Whirlpool set. I insisted on a top loader...I must be able to felt!

Then later in the afternoon we played 9 holes at Indian Creek Golf Course, where I eagled the first hole! Woohoo! I beat the guys again, handily this time with an eagle, a birdie and a par to score 32. I tried not to be too smug.

There's still a couple of days left this month to seam up the tank top and redo the neckline. I...must...finish....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Knitting, More or Less

This month has been tough on the knitting front. Very little actual knitting has been done although I've thought about it and I've certainly visited with other knitters. However, there's still a chance for me to finish a project this month. In the next few days I'm going to work on completing the tank top to match my OSW. Yes, you've seen this little number before. It is little...even Karl commented on it's smallness. I'm hoping it will at least cover the boobs. I mean, look how low the V is.

On a completely different topic, Birdsong tagged me with a fun little meme so here goes my 23rd post 5th sentence:

There are two colors, green and white?

Doesn't sound very interesting, does it? By itself the sentence is totally incongruous but my 23rd post was about asparagus! So, did you know that asparagus comes in green and white varieties? The green is common here but in Germany you must try the white spargel. It is delicious – thicker, milder and more tender than the green variation, it has to be peeled before cooking. Because it’s grown in the ground rather than above, however, it is more difficult to harvest and therefore more expensive to come by.

The rules for the meme:
1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.

I'm tagging Kelly, Ruth, Rebekah, Joan and Lori. What was on your mind when you started your blog?

In other life news, I've joined Fit to Knit!, a community blog for knitters who are starting or continuing a running program. Check it out, it's already inspiring. This Saturday, Karl is participating in a triathlon sponsored by the company we work for. It will be held at Beal's Point at Folsom Lake State Park. I am volunteering as a photographer. We've also been playing some golf lately, and this Sunday will be our 3rd outing of the month! That's 3 times more than last year. I've picked up Pilates again twice a week. All this exercise is definitely healthy for my state of mind. Oh, and the new job helps too. It's going well and there's even talk of sending me to Malaysia next year for a 2-month assignment. What fun!

I'll end this miscellaneous rambling with a miscellaneous photo, taken from my growing collection of digital archives. We've had such terribly hot weather in the Sacramento area this summer that I have a hard time thinking about winter. This should help - it's taken from atop Whistler Mountain near Vancouver, BC. I was on my way back to the lodge when I snapped this photo. Notice how clear it was from my vantage point before I descended into the fog.

Until the next day in the life...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Visit to Frog Pond Knits

If you haven't visited Frog Pond Knits (FPK) yet, continue with the next 13 posts. The first thing you will notice is that FPK is right next to Nor Cal Motorcycles.


Tucked oh so conveniently behind the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop on Auburn Boulevard. BTW, nice ride Lori!

Camera Shy

Lori wanted to show you all the progress she's made on the baby blanket.


FPK has a great variety. Violet and Kaedean have done a wonderful job ensuring their inventory is different from the other yarn stores in the area. You will, however, see a decided preference towards PINK. That's just fine with me. Plus they carry Bryspun and Inox!

Scarf Armoire

A most tempting array of scarves knit in various novelties along with a skinny version of My-So-Called-Scarf by Beth C. (Only 1 skein required, and she knit the fringe in a contrasting color).

Manos, Anyone? Anyone?

Violet doing her best sales pitch. It worked, I bought 4 skeins.

Devoted to Manos

There's a set of shelves totally devoted to Manos del Uruguay. Notice the shawl on the mannequin to the right. It was done by a "knitter off the street".

This Is Mine

Now I'm wearing that shawl. Kaedean is writing the pattern for this convertible shawl/shrug. Notice that you can button up the ends to form shrug sleeves!

Will I Ever Get This Done?

Lori swears she will finish this baby blanket...sometime...

It's Not Too Late to Sign Up

Classes are still going on at FPK. The felted water bottle class sounds intriguing.

I Must Have This

Naomi fondling the goods.

OMG, That's Homespun

Originally uploaded by LynetteM.

Kaedean and Naomi with a really pretty shawl knit in Lion Brand Homespun!

Something About Pink

Cher, not unlike Violet and Lynette, is also addicted to the pink.

Frogs? What Frogs?

Umm, were you expecting any at Frog Pond Knits?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Decisive Moments

There is nothing in this world that does not have its decisive moment. - Henri Cartier-Bresson.

This quote is my absolute favorite and I have put a copy of it on my computer monitor at work so I can be reminded daily. I have had a few decisive moments in my short 37 years and thought I would share them.

My most dramatic life-changing decisive moment was probably the precise second I turned my head to see who was walking by my office at work and it happened to be Karl. Sounds simple, eh? Let's put it this way - my life until that second had been simple. Before then I had only been going through the motions. I had loved other people before, but not like this one. And this love was, is complicated for a number of reasons. We just let it be and let it take us where it wants to go.

Second most important decisive moment was when I was interviewing for jobs as I finished up graduate school and happened to call an old coworker just in case she could help in my job search. That led to a series of interviews that eventually brought me here to California. I left my family, old friends, beloved Chapel Hill and everything I knew about the world.

Third place decisive moment came on some warm, humid evening in the summer of 1991. I was having an excruciatingly painful discussion with my then-husband in the car on the way home. We were having a fight. I was shocked at myself; I wanted a divorce. I was 24. It was an epiphany.

There are several other decisive moments that deserve honorable mention. In no particular order, they include the afternoon my coworker taught me how to knit; the split second that my dog ran into the street while I was rollerblading with her (I fell to the ground and broke my front teeth); the day in grade school that I wrote my first essay and realized I liked to write stuff; the decision to take up photography because I was bored being just a housewife and needed a hobby; the realization that time had not stood still for me in North Carolina when I went home for a family visit (this one made me decide to move on with my life on the west coast and buy a house); the decision to let a poor stray cat into the house one stormy night during a hurricane - my first cat, ever. And the ultimate decisive moment which my parents made for *me* was when they put me on a plane from the Philippines to the United States when I was a tiny 3 year old. I love my parents for that. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if they had not made that decision.

I was reading an article in this month's Real Simple about "getting happy". One of the ways to teach yourself how to think happily is to meditate about what you are grateful for. And then this led me to think about which decisions I've made that have led to some of the most enriching, gratifying and enlightening aspects of my life.

Would you be willing to share some of your decisive moments?

*new posts to Image Zone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The English I Speak

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

25% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Midwestern

Knitting Thoughts
It was brought to my attention on Monday evening that I have put myself in a situation where I have time management issues due to my beloved hobbies. This Person (TP), who shall be nameless, said I now begrudgingly participate in activities that I used to enjoy because I would rather spend the time either knitting, blogging or working on photos. I will spare you the details of how this discussion even came up. My focus right now is to think about the following: (1) is This Person right? (2) what can I do about this?

Is This Person Right About My Time Management?
As much as I don't want to admit it, I think so. I have been spending an incredible amount of time on my new hobbies this year. Knitting and photography have never before overlapped with each other or anything else I was interested in. Blogging, on the other hand, has not only brought the two together but has made them and blogging itself important aspects of my life at present. I cannot go a week without researching a new knitting technique or checking out yarn. I can't look at anything or be somewhere without wondering if I should take a picture. And I am continuously thinking of what to write in this blog - a title, the first sentence, how to make it interesting. Does this mean I don't enjoy the other hobbies? No. But I am the kind of person who concentrates on something until I am satisfied I am good at it. This means whatever thing I am into gets my full attention. Everything I've ever done has been this way and it's not fair for TP to call out knitting, blogging or photography as being any different in that respect from running, golf, skiing, cycling, cooking or hiking. The biggest difference, however, is that my new hobbies are not the kind that TP can share. Ah.

What Can I Do About This?
The conundrum. After the discussion on Monday evening, I have been too disheartened to actually knit, blog or work on photos. After a few days of this, though, it has become clear that depriving myself of what I enjoy isn't the answer. Yet, those days without my new hobbies have also been a little liberating. I don't have to knit or blog every day, nor must I take a photo of the sunset each night to become good at any of those activities...I just need to be consistent and flexible. I realized that I have set some high expectations and overscheduled myself, to the point that sometimes knitting was kind of a pain, or that blogging was an obligation. I don't want to feel that way about things I love to do! So what's the fix? Well, I will start by reminding myself that this is all for enjoyment. That it isn't a competition. That there are no deadlines, no matter what I try to impose. And then secondly I will make sure that knitting and blogging and photography each have their own time, in their own place. (I will have to experiment to figure out what means, but I think it's telling that the first thing I decide to do after the hiatus is blog.) Third, I need to know that it is OK for all of my hobbies, past and present, to co-exist in my life because without them I would be bored as well as boring. Last but not least, I wouldn't have hobbies if I didn't enjoy whatever I do, I should love to do it (or at least make the best of it) and share as much as I can so that a certain someone, This Person, will not feel left out of the fun.

I will end my ruminations with a sappy picture. This was taken earlier in the year when we had continued, freaky wet weather in the Sacramento area. It's a view from my side yard. The landscape isn't so great but what was amazing was how often I saw rainbows appear in the distance.

Until the next day in the life...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Par for the Course

Lately I haven't had much time to knit, a phrase that's becoming a bit of a broken record. It's late summer and I'm shocked to discover I'm behind in so many things. Plus Karl and I seem to be popular lately - we've actually been invited to several dinner parties which is kind of out of the ordinary for us homebodies. Thus, knitting has taken a temporary back seat for a while.

On Saturday morning, though, I had a blast knitting with Lori, Cyndi, Violet and Kaedean at Frog Pond Knits, Violet's and Kaedean's new store. We sat in some very comfortable leather chairs nibbling on cookies while we all chatted, told stories and got to know each other. Everyone brought their latest projects. You'd think I would've whipped out the camera and taken pictures I was too busy having a good time! However, everyone, you are now forewarned. The next knitting circle will be a photo op! Oh, and we did shop a little. I mean, how could we not at such a terrific yarn store? I picked up a skein of Trekking sock yarn, 2 skeins of Louet Gems Pearl in natural so I can play with kool-aid and the Shoalwater Shawl pattern from Fiber Trends. This is what I'll use the Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb yarn for. Luscious.

On Sunday morning we got up at 6am to make it to a 8am tee time at Bass Lake Golf Course. 18 holes took almost 5 hours even with carts. The weather was perfect. This was only my second golf outing of the year, the first being a charity tournament in March. I am happy to report that I beat both the guys, Karl and Tim, with the stupendous score of 105 (hahahahahaha) that included 2 pars and a birdie. The birdie came on a par 3 in which I hit from the guys' tees so no one could say it wasn't fair. I'm not exactly Annika Sorenstam or Michelle Wie however, so I'm happy with my score.

Now the work week (that's WW34, btw) has started but I live for Saturdays and Sundays. I'm already planning the activities...hope you all have a good week, don't let the summer go by without doing something outside every day.

Until the next day in the life....

Friday, August 12, 2005

Figure 8 Cast-On

As promised, here are pictures of the Figure 8 Cast-on using Magic Loop. Something new and different as I continue my sock journey. This cast on, unlike provisional, does not require using waste yarn. For whatever reason I wanted to avoid that. Plus it seemed like one of the harder things to do so I couldn't resist the challenge.

You start by weaving the yarn left to right (1) through the needle tips, (2) up, behind and over the top needle, (3) down and between the needles and finally (4) behind, underneath and over the bottom needle. Repeat for as many stitches as you need on the top needle. End with the working yarn between the needles. In this example there are 8 stitches (the stitches are stretched out for clarity).

After several attempts I found that tightening up the stitches before you knit them prevents the "open toe" look. This may not work for everyone; in fact the pattern I'm using says to not worry about the loose stitches until you've knit a few rows. I'd rather take care of them in the beginning, though, so I tugged the yarn ends until I had a comfortable tension.

Now for Magic Loop, you'll need to pull the bottom needle through...

...and then knit the stitches on the top needle through the back loop. Notice that the stitches will be twisted. Also, make sure that you anchor the last stitch on the end closest to your left hand. Do not let the yarn end slip through the needles when you knit the last stitch.

When you're done with the top row, slide the needles such that they are in the home position again and turn the needles over. This means the row you just worked is on the bottom and so is the working yarn.

Pull the bottom needle out to a comfortable length...

...and knit the stitches on the top needle through the front loop. Note that the stitches are again twisted.

When you're done, the top of the toe looks like this with the stitches twisted and closed.

The toe after knitting 6 rounds.

It's been a good Friday. Some of you may have seen this yarn before, but Caitlyn's de-stashing is my good fortune - Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb in Iris Garden. sigh I so love pink and lavender these days. This yarn is heavenly soft with a beautiful sheen. I don't have any plans for it yet; I just want to pet it.

I want to sign off by saying thank you for all your sympathy, suggestions and encouragement while I figure out how to move along the path that life seems to be taking me. I will be following up with some of you, if you don't mind. I feel very lucky indeed.

Oh, actually one more thing! Caitlyn and I have postponed the Tivoli T-Shirt KAL because Grumperina is currently working on standardizing the pattern to include more sizes. She plans to have the new pattern available at the end of month and I hope that will persuade you to join in the KAL.

Until the next day in the life....

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Heart's Not In It

Here's the deal. I don't really feel like talking about knitting today. If that's what you came here for, then stop now. Knitting content will return in a day or so and I have some neat pictures of the Figure 8 Cast-On to show you.

Today I feel like ranting a bit. Well, not really rant. Just vent some frustration and personal contemplation.

From the time I was a kid and learned how to speak English (and speak it better than the other 6-year olds), I've basically wanted to write. Write about anything but I figured out pretty quickly what I liked the best. It wasn't fiction. I tried that and it was very awkward. I was self-conscious. You can't be a fiction writer if you're timid that way. I was good at writing essays, papers, etc., anything that I could inject my personal opinion in some way. And I loved writing dialogue. I'm not the wittiest or the pithiest but I listen very well and I appreciate a clever tongue.

Then along came my first real camera, a Pentax K1000, totally manual except for the light meter. I spent nights and weekends in the darkroom. I took pictures of nudes, dogs, mountains, cars, people I didn't know. Gradually I saw a pattern - I was trying to tell stories with my photos. I wanted to generate discussion and inspire dialogue using pictures.

But. As some of you Asian readers out there know, there is a great deal of pressure to go to school for a zillion years, learn the hard stuff (math, engineering, medicine), move on to a successful, demanding career and make gobs of money as a VIP in your chosen-for-you field. There is no room for anything artsy and creative.

I followed the conventional route as best I could and I've done all right but my heart's not in it. Because of that, I feel like I haven't done as well as I could have. I should be VP of something by now but instead I keep telling myself I need a life.

Now I'm at a quandry. Blogging has introduced a photojournalistic outlet for me that has also emphasized something else - I'd rather be doing this than my real job. Don't get me wrong, my company is great! And there are avenues in the company that I could take to satisfy some of this writing need. But. I'm afraid. I've never done any freelance work, ever. And that's what I'll have to do in order to get anything noticed.

I'm not saying that the opportunities need to come to me rather than me seek them out; it's just that...I want to make sure I know an opportunity when I see one. Make sense? And not have fear.

So this is my post for the day. Nothing about knitting. Just more about life.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Knitting in the Dark

Why I thought I would have time to blog while I was on a business trip is now beyond my comprehension. Perhaps it was because I knew I wouldn't have any "chores" after the end of the work day or errands to run before making dinner. Heck, I wouldn't have to cook either for that matter. However I still managed to be completely busy anyway. I was in Arizona for most of last week and it was my first trip there. I didn't leave the office until close to 7pm most nights and then I had to hunt for my dinner. This meant driving up and down unfamiliar streets looking for a decent restaurant. By the time I returned to my hotel, the most excellent Wild Horse Pass Resort, it was quite late (at least for me) and I was too tired to knit anything. Except, of course, on the night of the storm.

The beginning of August signals the start of the Arizona monsoon season. People had warned me about this and I was looking forward to it. I even goaded the rain gods by not packing an umbrella or a rain jacket. On Tuesday night while I was swimming, dark clouds swept in, the wind whipped the skinny trees with 60mph gusts, lightning cracked the sky and rain flooded low lying areas. Just before the power went out the local meteorologist said it was the worst storm to hit the Phoenix area in years. Then I was sitting in total darkness and quiet in bed. The power flickered on 3 times before it tired out. While this happened I was knitting the beginning of my tank top, ironically in Phoenix yarn. I actually continued to knit in the dark trying to stay calm and was amazed that I didn't drop any stitches.

I have since completed the back of the tank top over the weekend. It isn't a very exciting project except that it's the first one where I tried my "own" pattern using Software Wizard. The measurements were based on the white crochet tank on the left. I was worried that the Phoenix tank would be a little short and my suspicions were confirmed as you can see. It's going to be a cropped top.I laid Phoenix over the crochet tank and the length discrepancy is even more obvious. It's about an inch shorter at either end. All right, so it's going to be a sexy cropped top.

In other knitting news, I debated which socks I would try next and decided to just go for it all - magic loop, 2 socks at the same time, the Figure 8 cast-on and toe up. I've been practicing the figure 8 cast-on which doesn't require you to use waste yarn. It's tricky; probably the trickiest technique after continental that I've tried so far, more difficult than learning to use DPNs, 2-handed fair isle or cabling. I haven't felt that "Aha!" moment yet so I guess I need to keep practicing. I'll post photos as soon as I get it down.

On Saturday, I finally managed to make it to the Folsom Knitting group and met fellow knitter blogger Cyndi! She just finished Clapotis in a Lorna's Laces yarn that has an extremely soft hand. This was my first viewing of a Clapotis up close and I must say, it is very nice. Cyndi did a wonderful job.

I'll end with a plug for my photo blog - there are new photos on Image Zone if you're interested.

Until the next day in the life.....