Saturday, November 16, 2013

Round the Bridges in Hamilton, New Zealand

Often when I travel there will be stuff going on, crowds gathering, etc. and I'll have to ask someone what the heck is going on.  This time I came prepared, though, I was in the know, and even signed up!   This weekend is Round the Bridges, which is apparently the oldest race in New Zealand.  I had to be here for work Monday morning, so I signed up for the 12K run and hoped I wouldn't be too jet-lagged to do it.
And I did it - 7.52 miles in 78 minutes and 53 seconds!  Go Me!!
I'd done 7.5 miles last weekend but there are a lot more hills here, and just to make sure I would have something to lay awake worrying about, I walked around the lake yesterday afternoon in shoes without socks.  I ended up with blisters on 4 toes on each foot and 2 blisters on each heel.  Last night I kept waking up every hour or so to slather lotion on my feet.  The treatment worked, and after the run I still have some blisters that haven't broken, and they didn't bother me at all while I was running.
The lake is in the center of town and has some scenery that reminds me very much of lakes in Ontario for some reason.  There's lots of reeds, water lillies and Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks.The water lillies were particularly beautiful - white, pink and yellow.  I haven't seen them in years. 
These are birds I haven't seen before so I think they may be native to New Zealand.  This guy was carrying that rotten orange in his beak across the path.
Here's a mother with her two little ones.  When I was here about 6 weeks ago, there were a lot of mallard babies, but this time there were a lot of these little guys.

This is just a typical Canadian scene right here - Canada geese and a mallard.  Maybe they're called New Zealand geese here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indoor/Outdoor Cats

In our neighborhood, almost every week there's new posters announcing a missing cat, or an actual dead cat on the street.  That's why, when Reggie joined our family, and Hermie decided that he was now going to be an indoor cat, I was kind of pleased.  We've always had indoor/outdoor cats, but we've never lived in such a busy neighbourhood before.  Although the suburbs can be just as dangerous.  When we lived on a quiet cul-de-sac Hermie got hit by a car and got a broken jaw and lost an eye out of the deal.  I tried to make him an indoor cat after that, but after a few weeks he wasn't having any of it.  He made such a fuss we finally started letting him out again.
When we moved close to downtown he was still going outside, but I tried to keep better track of him and made sure he was getting inside often.  Many's the night I'd wake up at 2 am, hearing thunder and get up to let Hermie inside.  It usually went like this:  run down the stairs to the 2nd floor balcony and call for Hermie - no response; run down the stairs to the main floor and call for Hermie - no response; go to the back door and call for Hermie - no response; climb back up all the stairs and go back to bed - MEOW!!!!
Ever since we've had Reggie though, he has no desire to go outside - not sure what his reasoning is, but cats are deep thinkers so I'm sure it's very logical.  Having two indoor cats means dealing with a lot of poop and a lot of cat litter and cats with a tendency to porkiness.  I can deal with that, the thing I don't like is that Reggie walks around like a 9 year old a month into summer break.  She clumps around the house meowing that there's nothing to do!  What?  I'm supposed to be entertaining cats now?

So I've started letting her outside in the backyard.  It's Harley-proofed and she's not much of a jumper, so she hasn't tried to escape, and there's geckos and leaves and birds chirping, so it keeps her amused for a while.  She's still very tentative out there though.  She thinks the small pebbles are hot lava, so she only uses the larger stepping stones.  Hermie comes out once in a while just to supervise her.

She doesn't last too long out there, she still prefers the indoors.

Harley thinks they're both idiots.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hallowe'en and Quilting

On Hallowe'en night, since we never get any trick or treaters we went out to see a scary play - Veronica's Room.  I'm always amazed at the high quality of theater in Houston - there are so many theaters, and many of them are very small, but the quality of the acting and the production that they put on are incredible.  We volunteer usher at 3 theaters, so we see a lot of plays.  This one we paid to see though - it was a spooky play on Hallowe'en, at a theater we could walk to, so I impulsively bought tickets.

We were both really glad we went.  After a slow first act, the second act was full of twists and turns.  I've seen a lot of plays, including a lot of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, but this one was different than anything else I'd seen.  

On Friday I went to the Quilt Festival, browsed the market and took a few classes.


It was interesting - in one class the teacher was encouraging us to be so precise - "make sure you sew along the edge of your pencil line, not on it" and in the other class the teacher was a little more slack - "hopefully your points all meet at the center - if not, that's a good place for a button". Anyway, it was a fun change from knitting, although I did take home a little alpaca from the WC Mercantile booth.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Just two for today, but they're very nice ones.  The first one is the Lanesplitter skirt and it's

almost finished - just needs the waistband.  I started this in New Zealand, got it to the point where it needed a waistband and ran out of yarn.  I had brought 6 balls with me and I've got more here at home, but have been distracted with other projects.  Maybe this weekend...

The other one is a beautiful yellow color called Buttercup from a yarn company in Australia called Skein.  This yarn called to me even though it's 50% merino/50% silk, which I've had very bad luck with in the past.  It either stretches out of shape if I wash it by hand, or shrinks down to nothing if I throw it in the machine - even on the gentlest, handwash cycle.  I'm hoping that my knitting is tight enough this time for the sweater to keep it's shape, and if it's not, then this is a drapey kind of sweater anyway.  The color of my yarn is very similar to the color of the yarn in the sweater pattern - called Vitamin D - I'm really hoping it turns out well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Puppy sitting

Harley isn't quite sure she's going to like who's about to come through the door.
We watched two little sweeties over the weekend - Bella, who's quite the jumper, and makes herself at home anywhere. 
And Louie, who's a little more relaxed and needs to be helped up the stairs sometimes, but is quite a pleasant knitting companion. 

Bella is also a licker - she especially liked trying to lick the inside of Harley's mouth.  Just a little kharmic payback for all the times Harley's tried to get up someone's nose.

We didn't see too much of the cats this weekend though.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back in Kindergarten

To help motivate myself to actually reach some of these goals I've set for myself - snacking less, running/walking more, blah blah blah... I picked up a few sheets of stickers from the Art Supply store.
It started out with just simple daily goals like not eating after supper, limiting myself to 1 glass of wine, writing for the blog, but once I decided I needed to get running again, it expanded to an 8 week program to prepare for a 10K race.  Then as I was working on stage 4 of Tour de Sock, I broke the sock down into what I thought were about 1 hour chunks and gave myself a sticker each time I finished a chunk.
Nice visual indication of progress and achievement.  The little stickers glitter down on me while I'm slogging away at work.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Knitalong Summer

This summer I'm participating in 3 knitalongs.  One of them - Tour de Sock - is stretching my knitting talents to the max.  For stage 1, my goal was to try and finish in the top 25 - and I made it - I came in 12th out of 250 and finished in about 19 hours + sleeping time.
If you look carefully, you'll see there's some beads on the back of one of the socks - size 8/0 beads no less.  The ones that require a teeny weeny crochet hook to get them on the yarn.
So for stage 2, I tried again to get finished within 36 hours.  This time I came in 11th out of about 180 and again finished in about 19 hours + sleeping time, but it was full of travelling twisted stitches in a pattern you had to look at every row, so it almost did me in.

So for sock 3 I decided to take it easy and just try to finish within the week.  But then I saw the pattern and decided to go for it...  This time it was the intarsia and weaving in the ends that drove me crazy, but other than that I enjoyed knitting these socks and this time I finished 7th.

We'll see what my game plan is for stage 4 that starts on Sunday.  This pair of socks has 500 size 8/0 beads and I'm planning on using a dark color, so it could be a nightmare.
In the pleasure knitting category, we have my Camp Loopy, project 1.  The objective is to knit yarn that you've never knit with, so I chose Sweet Georgia yarn and it's gorgeous and a dream to knit with.  I'm using my regular plan sock pattern (thank goodness) and have just added some butterflies to the leg.  One sock down and just the foot left to go on the other one before Sunday.

My other knitalong is a Mystery Shawl with the Fiber Gallery in Seattle.  When I was there in June, I picked up the first installment of the pattern and some beautiful hazel knits entice yarn, in a colorway appropriately called Pacific Northwest.  Here's the shawl with the first 2 installments of the pattern.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer of socks

I have 6 little parcels of yarn patiently waiting for their turn to take part in the Tour de Sock.  First up is some sparkly Dream in Color Starry.  I was going to go with these silver beads, but they're a little too long to fit nicely on the stitches, so I switched to regular seed beads that are transparent .
They don't show up as well but they're a heck of a lot easier to get on the stitch.  I think this is the first time in my life I've done a swatch for a sock, but all the chatter on ravelry about getting guage was making me nervous so I did it.  I'm going to have to go down to a 2.0 mm from my usual 2.25 mm to get 8.5 sts/inch. 
Also waiting in the wings is this beautiful sweetgeorgia yarn in honey fig. This is going to be my first Camp Loopy project and it will be socks as well. I'm going with just a standard sock pattern for this one, because I have a feeling the Tour de Sock pattern is going to be a killer, but I'm going to incorporate a butterfly pattern and hope that'll show off the yarn nicely

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Infinity cowl or cat bed?

The 9th project I completed as part of the 50 project project started life as a kit I bought at a knitting retreat in Carmel, California, about a million years ago.  I took my daughter Taylor along with me for a girl's weekend and we had a fabulous time.  I think she was about 12 years old at the time.  It was at an old spa/hotel near the beach, so I spent some time in knitting classes, we went for massages, had some nice meals and went to the beach.  She put up with us old ladies talking about knitting and she actually spent a little time doing some herself.
That was in the days when novelty yarns were really coming into their own - people were churning out fun fur scarves like nobody's business.  Wal-Mart's shelves were full of the Lion Brand's version, and even the high class yarn companies got into the game.
Even at the time I bought this kit I knew I would never make the shawl pattern that was included, but this yarn was just so much softer than any of the other nylon/polyester stuff I'd felt before, and it also came with 4 balls of Muensch Touch Me, which I was very enamored with, after buying Sally Melville's Knitting Experience book 2 - The Purl Stitch, where she made a cardigan with Touch Me and felted it to a magnificent veloury shininess.  The kit came home with me and languished in the closet until I included it in my 50 project list and it's number came up.
I cast on 180 stitches in the round and started knitting.  I had 6 balls of Prism Yarns Fern (the fuzzy stuff) and 2 balls each of green and maroon Touch Me.  I worked garter stitch in Fern until the ball ran out, then I switched to Touch Me and worked in stocking stitch.  I thought it was getting to wide after 3 balls of Fern and 2 balls of Touch Me, so I cast off and called it done.
That's wrapped around twice - it is very cozy and I might just wear it in Winnipeg, in the winter.  But I've only used half the yarn, so I'm thinking I might make a very soft, very expensive cat bed.  Possibly knitting a strand of Fern held together with a strand of Touch Me and felting it. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The 50 Project Project

I have a massive project underway which may easily take me to retirement.  It's the 50 project project.  Here's my progress so far:
You'll see that I'm ahead of the game, but there's a long way to go. 
I started with 50 kits that I gathered from my closet - kits that I'd put together with yarn and a pattern, intending to get to them eventually.  Now I'm working my way through and making an adventure of it.  I've given myself about 1000 days (20 days/project).  The way it works is, I can work on 2 projects at a time and once I've finished a project, I draw another number out of my little baggie of numbers and can start on that project.
So far I've finished 8 projects, not all winners, but closet space is opening up!  I will post pictures of finished projects in future blog entries, but I expect a slow down over the summer as I compete in Tour de Sock and participate in Camp Loopy.
An unofficial rule of the 50 project project is that I should only be working on items from the 50 project list, but I'm giving myself some leeway to work on other stuff as long as I don't get too far behind on the target.  And I think it's a little unrealistic for me to go without buying ANY yarn for the next couple of years!