Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Been A While...

I know - I had resolved to post more often. Then stuff just got nuts. I mean, overwhelmingly nuts, so much that Hubby seems to be in fear of my normal level of crazy-busy getting even worse. And he's probably right.

Nevertheless. I'm still standing, even if a bit more than on overload. So, let's see. Howzabout some Ruby Slippers?? Here's the scoop. We were at the mall...amazingly. We actually went to get my yoga teacher a birthday gift at Teavana, which is a dangerous place for me. Even more dangerous, however, was Walking Company. I stopped and said, "Oh, they have Dansko clogs. Now I know where to go." And lo and behold, Hubby says, "Let's go in." I got sized, which was a good thing, because my knitty clogs (no, no picture - I forgot!!) which I bought as my treat for losing the 30 lbs. were a bit tight across my very high instep, and that was after I had bought them one size larger. Turns out that it depends...each pair is hand-stapled, so they're all slightly different. We looked at all the nice styles, and Hubby says, "Don't you need a pair of plain black ones?"

Does that answer only one small part of why I married him????

We tried on the black ones with the no-skid sole, and about 4 other ones. He picked these red ones out, and said, "Now all you have to do is click your heels and ask to go home!" I think that was a rather pointed reference to the fact that for a few weeks there, I was not at home ONE. SINGLE. EVENING. Too much going on, I'm tellin' ya. And for good measure, he found a gorgeous pair of heels that might make it to the shoe closet; yes, there are even times I have to crawl into pantyhose and wear heels. I think he feels sorry for me - or perhaps himself because I can be cranky when my back and feet hurt! We didn't buy them, but we do know we can get them if we choose.

I finished the orange afghan, and I will take a picture once I've woven in the ends and blocked it. I've started Yellow, and for the life of me, it seems like it's taking forever. Could be because I frogged the original Fan-and-Feather, in favor of "Textured." I actually like this, because it reminds me of a basketweave stitch my Granny used to do in crochet, that I never quite learned to do.  Here's what it looks like, as is and close-up. I think it'll be much warmer for little Harper (the girl)... and no, I'm not certain that's her name. I'm just plucking one out of thin air because they want to use "literary" names, so Kid #2 and I came up with "Hunter" for the boy -- Hunter S. Thompson, but with none of elder Hunter's bad habits! And "Harper" for the girl - Harper Lee... All my nephew said was "I don't hate those names." LOL

I was seriously debating doing the afghan as a border with this basketweave and zipping along with a straight knit section, but my better sense prevails. I should not stint...even though it's taking for-stinkin'-ever!!!

It's kind of my own fault. The babies are due "anytime between March 15 - April 15" because they look to be pretty hefty little buggers. K has to wear a sling from now till delivery. Anyway, my mom is moving the Easter Feast up a week. Not only are we NOT doing breakfast ("At 75 years old, I'm not getting up at 4:30 a.m. to fix breakfast") but we're doing it all for a dinner on Palm Sunday. Once again, accommodates those who have in-law issues. But also, for me - gives me a reprieve from having to do much of anything for Easter. The menu includes: Cuban-marinated pork loin, "funeral potatoes," salad, broccoli salad, deviled eggs, nodif (a polenta-based sausage. DELICIOUS and a requirement.), and potica with perhaps a strudel or apple tart for dessert. I'm also commanded to make home-made ranch dressing and a vinaigrette out of this SPECTACULAR olive oil that Kid #1's girlfriend got me.

I'm telling you, the olive oil is's got a cork, it's in a dark bottle... I'm intimidated by a bottle. I'll have to look up some exotic dressing to use this stuff.

The point is, I want to give them the afghans at Easter (Palm Sunday) so that they can have them when the babies arrive. I can save the sweaters for Christmas because they're sized for 12-month and can wait a bit. So I'm knitting madly trying to finish this one.

So we also recently had my women's group fundraiser. I also had to accept a proclamation from the City for the Free Clinic. But I have to show you the picture of my friend Debbie. The theme for the fundraiser was "A Night in New Orleans" - which I am totally stealing for the Clinic's fundraiser next year!! We, Deb and I, have been through the mill with sickness, busy schedules and trying to "herd cats" with this group.  And through it all, we have found a lovely friendship. So here we are... I was really happy that we had such a great turn-out and that people got in the spirit by wearing their Mardi Gras duds.

The yoga training is going well. I'm actually teaching tonight to sub for my teacher at my local studio. We survived a touch of "snowpocalypse" yesterday, though it's snowing now. The farmers will appreciate this. We in IL have just forgotten how to use our "snow-legs" and we got all hysterical last night.

I haven't moved to Phase 3 of the new eating plan. I'm kind of stuck at 31 lbs. and frankly, have been having "I'm starving" cravings. I'm not starving. I'm at a plateau, and if this is it, then that's fine. I need to start exercising more, and I think that will help.

Oh, and I killed our Cuisinart blender. I was making my last smoothie, when something smelled horribly "burned." I thought I needed to add something to the smoothie, when Hubby said, "hang on, I think the motor's burning out." So we ended up with a new Vita-Mix. My yoga teacher says, "This will change your life." Well, I don't know about that. But it replaces a 10-year-old blender that did its duty.

The Vita-Mix is HUGE. I'll probably scare the dogs all the way to Lockport with the noise it's likely to make. But it's a lot more sturdy than what you can get otherwise, so it's well worth the investment.

I hope to get back here more often. Life gets in the way at times.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

And So I Begin...

So this past weekend, I started my teacher training - the 200-hour certification for teaching Yoga, at Prairie Yoga in Lisle.

And it was a doozy of a weekend! There are about 20 of us in this class - their largest so far. We're crammed cheek-to-jowl into a fairly spacious studio, and I kind of say that in jest because my local teacher tells me that in India, you're lucky if there's a whole 3" between mats. This weekend, we had nearly a foot between mats! That being said, I also learned what to pack: a light lunch, but not just a granola bar, thank you. And bring your own tea mug. I settled on a green smoothie and some almonds. Just enough because you can't -- or at least *I* can't - practice yoga on a full tummy.

It was a very intense weekend, but not without its humor and lots and LOTS of Yoga and learning. I'm up to my eyeballs in homework, and waiting on login instructions so I can submit it.

I've been subbing for my regular studio and it's been fun. I'll be assisting my teacher, as we have to assist & observe for training.

The training is fairly tough. This isn't one of those "learn to teach yoga in a weekend" seminars. It's a 10-month program. On top of the cost, there's just the sheer amount of work. We are there from 11:30 - 6 p.m Saturday and Sunday of the trainings, and then we have extra "master classes" we have to attend. A textbook about 2" thick and a number of other books, including those on theory and anatomy.

Oh, and we get to learn Sanskrit. And I did more downward dogs (excuse me: Adho Mukha Svasana) than I'd done in a long, long time. I guess it's a good thing I grew up speaking Polish and we use Latin every week in church!

I really do enjoy the teaching aspect, and I love the fact that we can make Yoga accessible to all who are willing to try it.

Friday, February 01, 2013

On to the Dark Side...

OK, so you all know that I kind of like DPNs. I learned socks on them; I've finished hats on them. I did EIGHTEEN small Easter Eggs and 3 "chocolate" bunnies on DPNs.

And let's face it -- how cool is it to have FIVE needles in your hands and actually look like you know what you're doing, while not dropping stitches or stabbing yourself? Really, I work in higher ed. I'm surrounded by PhDs who are humbled. HUMBLED, I tell you - when they see me weilding my 5 DPNs on a sock or a hat.

It's really hard to humble your average PhD. Trust me on this.

So. Today, at my friend Joan's house, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the Dark Side. To the land of the Magic Loop. (sigh)

I was just minding my own business, sitting there with Spikette, the MinPin who was determined that since I smelled of Elkhound and dog treats, I was probably an "ok human" -- and I was ambushed!! I had directions coming from both of the knitters there, simultaneously, with one of them saying, "OK, take that yarn off those DPNs and put it on this circular." Wow -- mental overload. I started out with a size 3 (32" circular) bamboo, but when I got home, I transferred everything (and didn't drop a stitch, by the way!) onto the Kollage 40" - it does give me more room to manipulate.

I know it's just another notch in my needles as a knitter to be able to do this. And I know that 2/3 of my knitterly friends do Magic Loop for everything up to and probably including hats, sweaters, scarves and gloves. But I was the one who liked "old school." I was (and frankly - still am) the one who liked the challenge of doing a sock or the top of a hat without any "runners" (which are those "holes" or spaces you can get if you don't tighten up the first 2 stitches as you transition from needle to needle.

Behold. My sock on Magic Loop. It's done on size 3 Kollage square needle (40" circular) and in Cascade 200 Heathers, which is 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. The yarn band says "needle size 7 - 8" (US size, sorry).

But the book I'm using is "Knit Socks!" by Betsy Lee McCarthy (publisher is Storey Publishing), and it's the Starter Stockinette. Her theory is that if you go down several needle sizes, the sock is heftier and wears better. These little stinkers will be lovely! The yarn's hand is gorgeous, and the weight of the sock will do well since I wear a lot of shoes that can kindly be called "hiking boots." She states in her book, "I generally need a needle 3 to 5 sizes smaller than the size recommended ... for general knitting" and states that this provides a "long-lasting sock fabric." I'm cool with that.

Oh, and the colorway is 9454, which is a nice purple-y tweed with hints of tan, yellow and blue in it. Here's a close-up of what the yarn looks like. Double-click on the picture to see a detailed photo.  It's coming along great.

As for turning the heel, I also have "Sonda's Basic Sock on Magic Loop," a pattern copyrighted by my friend Sonda Lee, who died this past May of melanoma. She taught me the "Sonda's Basic Sock" on size 7 DPNs with the theory being that if you started out on "fairly large" DPNs, you could (a) manipulate them better; and (b) see more clearly the construction so that you made "3 pairs right away" - on a size 7, they do move along quickly - and you put all the pieces together in your head and hands. Muscle memory and brain memory. It works. And as she often said: "You're only knitting on 2 needles at a time, one stitch at a time -- and that's what you're doing whether it's a sock, a shawl or an afghan."

I would tell you where to get Sonda's pattern, except that you can't anymore. But if you want to see some of her designs, take a peek at the One Skein Wonders books, both "Luxury Yarns" and "Sock Yarns." Her designs are in there.

So I'll tell you how it goes.

If nothing else, because I'll be stretching my body in yoga teacher training, perhaps it's good that I'm also stretching my mind trying to anticipate turning a heel on a circular needle!