Friday, November 6, 2009

Sweater Reverse Engineering

Last night I went on a shopping trip with my friend, Jeanne. A store-that-shall-remain-nameless-but-has-fruit-in-the-title was having a substantial sale (25% off, 30% if you possessed their credit card).

I purchased several things, among them a pair of pants with attached cummerbund, and the sweater below.

The sweater was $130 without the discount, and the fiber content was mostly wool, with about 10% nylon + 16% cashmere, and I think there may have been something else in the mix.

Well! I know this is very possible to replicate, so that is what I intend to do. Of course, at a machine-knit gauge of 9 st/in, I am not going to go all-out and knit it in sock yarn! However, I feel I can capture the spirit of the thing.

So I took photos of it.

And another photo, from the front.

Oh my god, do I actually have a defined waist?! Not really, it's all the jacket (at least from the back view).

I love the overlayed double-breasted style of the jacket. It has a 1" band of 2x2 rib around all the edges, and long ribbed cuffs. The sleeves are a tad puffy up at the shoulder, and are set in. The collar is a long bit of ribbing, too.

I measured the crud out of this sweater! Everything that I thought would be critical, got measured. Sleeve width, rate of decrease (so I measured about halfway down the sleeve, and then at the beginning of the cuff), cuff length, panel dimensions for the back and two half-front panels, button placement and relative distances (especially important because the front panels are not actually rectangular).

For $130, I think I can use a much nicer yarn, and possibly do it in the round. Damn right. The Spirit of EZ is with me, Hallelujah! Praise Saint Cascade and All the Sock Yarns!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book Review Time

I just splurged and bought two new knitting books:

Reversible Knitting, by Lynne Barr


The Enchanted Sole, by Janel Laidman.

"Reversible Knitting" is just what it sounds like - a stitch dictionary of fully reversible patterns. I also enjoy several of the patterns included in the book - my favorites are a sweater by Wenlan Chia that you can wear top-down or bottom-up, a bubble dress / tunic with flubby cables on one side and a texture on the other, and a double knit tank dress with a great labyrinth pattern.

"The Enchanted Sole" is Laidman's second book, that I have, and I love her colorwork designs for socks. All her socks in this book are based on myth or fairy tale. My favorites are the Tree of Life and Firebird socks. She also has some interesting sideways-knit socks that intrigue me.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago I bought Cat Bordhi's new sock book "Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters" (Rav link to patterns). I love Cat. This new method she has is certainly unique, but I am anxious to finish knitting my friend Priscila's socks so I can try it out. She has you make a cardboard cutout to match your foot, and then you knit a closed tube, essentially, to match your foot, and then use lifelines to cut a hole at the top of the sock, wherein you pick up stitches and knit up the leg. Neat!! And she explains it far better than I do here.

Meanwhile I am finishing up a book not about knitting, called "Bacchus and Me", written by a wine critic who I fear was not well known (Jay McInerney), but it is very delightful reading! He details his travels to different wine regions around the world.

I am off to relax for the evening and think about sleeping soon... pilates class tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flapper Hat FO

I finished my Side Slip Cloche hat on Friday, while eating my way through Portland with a friend of mine. :)

Here it is, on the floor:

I was really worried that one skein of Dream in Color Classy wouldn't be enough for a hat. I don't know what I was thinking - I have about half the ball left!

The hat construction is interesting - you knit the band around, then you block it (and I wove in ends), and then you pick up stitches around the top and knit up the hat in the round.

My hat is not as poofy as the pattern suggests, but it just might need some blocking to stretch out a bit.

Overall, I'm very happy with it! And I loved knitting with Classy - the colors are saturated, and the yarn is nice and tightly plied, which I love. In my opinion, it feels like a high-class Cascade 220.

...Now what to knit???

I have yarn wound off for many projects, but I think tonight I will work on my Spring Forward socks for my friend Priscila...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fiber Destashing

ETA: I sold the Lincoln Fleece!

I'm cleaning out my closet, and getting rid of some things! I want them to go to good homes, so hopefully posting them on Ravelry will be fruitful. I already sold a raw alpaca fleece, as well as a large bump of alpaca / Merino top.

The listings are on Ravelry: Lincoln fleece.

Here are the pictures. I have approximately 1 lb of raw fleece. Average staple length 5". $10 + shipping. It washes up to a beautiful white color (you can see it in the lower left of the picture below).

Below is a picture of an average lock, showing staple length.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Uber-Sweater

I think I have decided what to make with my Blue Moon yarn (BFL Sport) that I purchased at OFFF.

An Uber-Sweater. A basic, wear-it-around-every-day, colorful sweater that looks good on me.

I present a sketch:

Ignore the shadow on the paper. A childhood spent yearning to be a fashion designer, yet feeling I never really could until I wasn't overweight (have you ever seen a fat fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld pre-weight-loss not included? OK, I should say - have you ever seen a fat female fashion designer? No. Because 90% of those women are neurotic, smoke, eat too little and party too much to be healthy anyway. And I bet none of them could do any sort of deadlift at all! Bam!)

I digress. So... sweater details:

- Nalgar shoulder shaping (courtesy of EZ; notice the two diagonal lines at the shoulders above. Since I haven't browsed Ravelry yet for real-life pictures of a Nalgar in the wild, I am relying on translating her drawing of a Nalgar from her "Knitting Workshop" book into what it would like on a body.)
- EZ's knit waistband (vs. a ribbed waistband, so it doesn't tuck in and bubble out around my waist)
- deep ribbed arm cuffs (cuz I like that!)
- waistband hits mid-hip. I learned with my February Lady Sweater that cropped things hitting at my actual waist are Not. Flattering to me. At All.

A note: I find it interesting how my perception of proportions on bodies has changed over the years. My initial sketch had the shoulders too broad, the arms hanging out to the sides beyond the ribcage, and the arms too long. The forehead was too high, initially. Also, the legs were too fat (at least to represent ME **thank you Mom and Dad for not afflicting me with Cankles, Saddlebags, and giving me Nice Leg Shaping!**). Thank goodness for pencil erasers, and patience. I think, for a 20 minute sketching exercise, this is a fair representation of myself. :)


What's this? The beginning of a new hat! The "Side Slip Cloche" from Boutique Knits, to be exact. This is the lower band of the hat, with the side ruffles. It's about 14" long right now, and needs to be 20.5" before I proceed with the rest of the hat. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy worsted in "Flamingo Pie". It is a beautiful base yarn, more tightly plied than Cascade 220 (which is what I originally thought the base was), and the dyers do a wonderful job. And there is more yardage than Cascade 220 (well, 30 more yards!), although it is much more expensive than Cascade 220... but I think for a one-skein project, it works great!

Monday, September 28, 2009

OFFF 2009

My friend Jen and I went to OFFF again this year! We had a great time!!

We left on Friday at 5 AM, which wasn't hard for either of us, as we are both early risers. We arrived in Canby at the fairgrounds shortly after 8 AM, including a couple of stops for bathroom breaks and coffee.

We signed in for our classes (I took a lace spinning class in the morning, and a sock spinning class in the afternoon, and Jen took a Navajo spindling class), and wandered around for 30 minutes before going to our respective classes.

Rejoining for lunch, we compared notes. Jen discovered she didn't really enjoy Navajo spindling, but was glad she took a class to confirm that suspicion. I picked up several tricks for lace spinning - mainly the tenet of "overspin, underply". My teacher, Sheila January, also showed us how to spin cobweb laceweight yarn - that is, yarn that, at 2 ply, would be about the grist of sewing thread. She told us how a teacher of hers spun yarn for Orenburg shawls, and gave her about 2 oz, if that, of ultrafine Merino locks, and told her it would be enough for a 6 foot diameter Orenburg shawl.

We also got to spin a variety of fibers for each class. For the lace class, Sheila gave us some superwash Merino, then followed that with silk brick, then a Merino / yak blend (70/30?), and finally we tried our hand at cobweb spinning using some BFL locks. I was pleased to learn it is possible, though it is a technique I do not see myself using, except as a means to keep myself sharp and able to spin a variety of yarns.

After lunch, I went back to Sheila's room for the sock class (turns out she taught both classes!), while Jen amused herself by wandering and knitting. In this class, the main thing I came away with was to spin firmly for sock yarn, and that nylon as a strengthener is unnecessary, because all it does is make a skeleton to make darning holes easier. Natural alternatives for nylon in sock yarn include silk, mohair, or considering not using a fine wool to spin the yarn in the first place. In fact, one of the samples was Wensleydale top, and it made a great, firm 2 ply yarn for me! Other samples we used were a Shetland top that was quite lovely, a BFL top, a pin-drafted CVM which was lovely, and a Merino / alpaca blend.

Some seedheads at sunset in a state park in Canby

What did I buy? 3 oz Jacob top, two different Shetland preparations (one 4 oz ball of top, and 8 oz of Shetland prepared in two batts), 7 oz of BFL (the same preparation I spun in class), a skein of BMFA Laci, a skein of BMFA Socks That Rock Midweight (a Rare Gems color that reminds me of an aquatic rainbow), and two skeins of BMFA BFL Sport in "Jabberwocky", an autumnal rainbow colorway that enchanted me (and, at 600+ yards each, two skeins will knit me a fine sweater).

I thought I would share some photos of Canby itself, rather than the yarn I bought. You can see all that on my Ravelry stash page.

Moonrise at the park

I hate to have noticed this, but the demographics of a fiber festival are fairly predictable - mostly women, and probably 90% of those women are overweight. I don't know why. Maybe that is why I subconsciously chose to wear my Crossfit shirt on Friday.

Jen and I at the river
A dahlia farm

OK, I suppose I should show a picture from the actual festival... excuse the lack of focus from the camera!

A fuzzy picture of a ...fuzzy ram

I can't wait for the 2010 class list and another trip with Jen! :)

I hope to post my sample pics up here soon...

Yarny Update

I got some stuff in the mail!

The September Rockin' Sock Club shipment! I was waffling whether or not to sign up again next year, and you know, Cat Bordhi's patterns reaffirm my love for this club.

Here's a skein of BMFA Laci I got at OFFF for $6.80 (Keep in mind this yarn retails for $50)!! I'm going to use it for another try at Hanami.

Here is a 2 ply skein I spun from a Shunklies Shetland top. I am extremely happy with their fiber prep; the Shetland spins like a dream. I think I got around 160-180 yd at around 2 oz.

Finally, here is my first Fair Isle FO! An Opus Spicatum hat. I used orange and green Cascade 220 for this... it turned out really well!

Next up: OFFF pictures!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kestrel Follow-Up

OK, so I rode the Kestrel, 48 cm.

It was HOT, let me tell you. HOT like...riding on a pat of butter. The bike was beautiful, all craftsmanship and carbon fiber and Ultegra components. For $1600 cash, no sales tax.

No, I didn't get it.

And I will tell you why: if I wipe out on a full carbon fiber frame, and the frame cracks, there is virtually no recourse for being able to fix the frame. You can't weld carbon fiber. You can't bend it back into shape. It's a fabric that has been made stiff by epoxy. You are Up A Creek with a Very Expensive, Useless Paddle. Furthermore, I really want a triple chain ring up front. This means you get one more multiple of gears (for example: if you had an 18 speed bike, with two rings up front and 8 in the back, and you add one more ring up front, you'd now have a 27 speed bike). I really want that extra ring, because I am lazy and somewhat timid and don't want to fall down on some big hill because the gearing was too high.

I tried to head over to a local bike shop to ride some steel bikes after my Kestrel experience, but they were OUT of my size. Dang!

The good news is that the 2010 bike models are filtering into shops, so they may be more motivated to move 2009 model bikes out...

PS, I also sold my bike today! I had a Cannondale Adventure 400 hybrid that I sold for $200. I hope the wife of the guy I sold it to enjoys it! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm going to Kirkland tomorrow to try out some Kestrel bikes I saw on Craigslist.

I'm amazed at the component set on these suckers!

Daniel's Visit Here!

I had a wonderful week with Daniel, and am sorry to see him go this morning. However, I know Christmas is only a few months away, and considering it's been over 6 months since I saw him last, I can do that standing on my head! (However, these next few months, he will not be nearly as available to converse on Skype as before...)

Here's some photographic evidence that we spent time together. It also happened that my sister, Rosanne, and brother in law, Paul, were here visiting at the same time!


We went to the ice caves...

An ice cave. I guess it's two, technically, separated by a thin wall.

Here we are, still on the trail. It was a great mix of summer flora and getting blasted by winds coming off the ice caves.

... and we ate Korean BBQ with Kris, Randy, & Mark...

The exhaust vent was a clumsy centerpiece to the table.

... we took Rosanne and Paul up the water tower at Volunteer Park...

Except this is us at the water tower. Not Them.

... and we also took them to see the Fremont Troll...

I take everyone to see the Troll. I wonder when Daniel will get sick of it. :)

... here are Rosy & Paul walking ahead of us at Volunteer Park...

Gorgeous Day!

... here we are in a dahlia garden at Volunteer park...

This Garden Brought to you by the Seattle Dahlia Society.
That cracked Rosanne up; that there was a society devoted to dahlias.
Guess she's never seen Orchid Societies.

'Twas a beautiful week, and the only sad part was taking Daniel to the airport late this morning. I can't wait to see him again!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I had a Skype-date with Daniel set for Saturday at 11 AM.

At 10:30 AM, I received a call on my home phone, which turned out to be Daniel.

"Oh, would you like me to sign onto Skype now?"

"Nah, I think I'll just come over."


Holy Mother of Pearl!!!!!!!!

us at the Ballard locks, watching salmon jump

I get him until this Friday afternoon!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spinning About

I have been doing a lot of spinning lately, mostly to clear out my stash before I go to Oregon Flock & Fiber at the end of the month. By the way, has anyone else heard if they got accepted into classes at OFFF? My friend Jen and I have yet to hear...

...Mohair clouds, spun around a wool core...

...Carded wool, mohair, sparkle "Art Batt",
corespun around a wool core and wrapped with a silver Lurex singles...

...and these carded batts, which blend BFL, mohair locks, Angelina,
SoySilk, and other sparkle...

...Turned into this two-ply yarn, approx. 82 yards, fingering / DK weight.


All this spinning has caused me to make judicious use of my broom and dustpan.

Yesterday and today have been overcast with periods of heavy rain. Hopefully tomorrow will clear up; intermittently I see blue sky through the clouds, so there's hope! I am very excited to have Labor Day off, since it's one of very few holidays we get in the middle of the year. Whee!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing "Nibbling Seattle"

I decided to start my own food blog. I'm calling it "Nibbling Seattle".

I want to focus on local foods that I eat (no grains, etc.) and fun recipes. Notice I didn't say "easy" recipes. I feel confident in my kitchen skills, so I don't freak out when recipes say they are complicated. In fact, I appreciate them more, because the flavor profiles are usually more complex.

You want to know what I ate for dinner tonight? About 2 oz of hard cow's milk cheese (akin to a Parmesano), an organic medium sized tomato from today's CSA box, and a small organic cucumber from my friend Melinda's garden (picked Saturday), both sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. For dessert, a square (probably 1/4 oz) of 65% dark Vosges Calindia chocolate bar. And a glass of iced water.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I tried more bikes on Saturday.

They tried to upsell me to a Serotta titanium Fierte framed bike. The big difference, I noticed, was in the Shimano Ultegra components (vs. 105's or Tiagras).

I think I've narrowed it down.

I like the Trek 2.1 WSD (50 cm), and I also liked the Bianchi Imola (49 cm), but after feeling the smooth shifting of the Ultegra components, I think I want something that has those in it!

I went to Sammamish Valley Cycles, in Redmond. The salesguy I talked to there was a little pushy, initially, but he was great and gave good information. And he gave me great perspective: For every $1 you spend on a bike, you just ride a mile to compensate. Seems easy enough!

Anyway, I'm not in a big rush, and the SVC guy told me that once I had narrowed it to 2 or 3 bikes, to come in for a professional fitting ($200), and try all those bikes, and $100 of that fitting would be applied to the bike I chose.

I also want to try the cleats and pedals Melinda uses. They look more convenient than SPDs. I did some looking online and found out they were called Speedplays. The advantage I see is that they look smaller, lighter, AND you don't have to knock the pedal around to find the right side to clip into, which seems a lot safer than my SPDs that I currently use.

...more food for thought...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weaving and Stash and Bikes

I recently enhanced my fiber stash.

This beauty is 4.6 oz of 50% Merino, 50% Tencel fiber from "Perchance to Spin". I bought it from The Loopy Ewe. The colorway is called "From Kansas to Oz", and I love the concept. The fiber starts out in tones of gray (Kansas), and then gradually escalates to the Technicolor riot of Oz. I visualize maybe a thin 3 ply yarn out of this? One interesting thing about this roving is that it's REALLY dense. The package was really small, and I was wondering why, but the Merino / Tencel is just really packed together. Lots of predrafting ahead!

Here's my first WEAVING project! It is the "Thousand Flowers" towel pattern from the Handwoven magazine e-book, "Top Ten Towels on Four Shafts". I really love that they make an effort to supply books that focus on either 8-shaft or 4-shaft looms, so you don't have to wonder before you buy a book whether you can use the patterns, or at least adapt them to work for you.

The pink, orange and yellow stripes below are meant to be flowers, so I am hoping everything tightens up and fills in a bit when I block these towels, but even if they look a little abstract, I do like the shot of color they give. It is amazing how quickly things moved once I got into a groove with weaving last night - as long as the space for the shuttle was opening up correctly, I could throw the shuttle through and keep moving!

Here's a shot with too much flash, but it shows the overall effect of the loom I have, from the front side.


And now for something completely different!


I tried out some road bikes today! This was totally a new experience for me. I have a Cannondale hybrid bike, which means it's a bike that is meant for 'casual' riding, and is basically geared to ride around in a city, not necessarily emphasizing going fast or scaling mountains. You sit upright, which most people find comfortable, and you just mosey along.

I've been frustrated because the bike is just slow - even when I feel like I'm barreling down a hill, that might be around 20 mph. The bike is somewhat heavy, and I feel like the rolling resistance from the slightly wider tires is holding me back.

MAN!!! I tried out three bikes today, and two just blew me out of the water! First, I tried a Bianchi Imola, which is a steel-framed road bike. The three general types of frames you'll find for a road bike are steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber, with component-combinations thereof (a steel frame with a carbon fork is a pretty common combination these days). In general, here is what I've found:

- steel is flexible, cheap, and can give a "smooth" feeling to your ride.

- aluminum is light, strong, and can give a "stiffer" feel to your ride. (That is, the frame won't flex as much as steel, and you might feel more road vibrations).

- carbon fiber is REALLY light, stiff, and it ain't cheap. I'm pretty sure Lance Armstrong's bikes are some kind of carbon fiber composite.

Now, "stiff" and "smooth" can mean different things to different people. Some folks swear by aluminum, saying it translates all their energy to the road, and some people love the smoothness of steel.

For me, I'm not a professional cyclist. Probably never going to be. But I do like to ride, and I want to get into farther rides - 50 or 100 miles. I can do 20-30 miles (with little to no hills) pretty comfortably at this point on my hybrid, but I feel like I want "more". I am betting I'll probably end up with a steel frame and carbon fork, just based on preliminary evidence from today.

I also tried an aluminum bike, a Cannondale Synapse. It was interesting, and I did notice it felt stiffer, but I couldn't decide if that was REALLY the bike vibrating more, or me having a psychosomatic reaction and deciding that I'd read so much about aluminum being stiff that OH GOD IT MUST BE TRUE. (*I would link to the Synapse, but I had trouble finding the exact model I rode at the store online earlier*).

I tried a third bike, but it's barely worth mentioning. It was a commuter bike, and to me, it felt like an expensive version of the bike I already have.

So, what does this mean? Reviews? Well, I loved the Bianchi, only the distance from the seat to the handlebars was a little too long for me, and made it hard for me to squeeze the brake levers really well. The Cannondale felt better on that note (shorter distance to the handlebars), but the other geometry of the bike put a lot of noticeable stress on my knees. I also feel like, in general, I would like a handlebar with a smaller diameter. My hands aren't huge, and it was hard for me to grab everything securely and I never launched the bikes into an all-out sprint because I felt very insecure about being able to stop the bike quickly.

Best thing about the experience? I never really knew how LIGHT road bikes were! I could have picked one up with just a few fingers! It takes both hands for me to hoist my hybrid onto my car rack. Worst thing? Not being able to grab the handlebars, and being tentative about riding around a neighborhood with very narrow streets.

Luckily, there's a few more bike shops in town, so I will be able to try out many more types of bikes. This was definitely educational, though!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jessie & Jeremy & Connor, Part 2

Jeremy's home.

Well, in Washington. He's in the hospital. I just had a short text-message conversation with Jessie, since I didn't want to disturb anyone with a ringing cell phone.

Man, I thank my lucky stars that Daniel is only running exercises on his boats, not in actual lines of fire!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Great Paleo Post / Dietribe

Y'all have seen that I have linked to Melissa Byers' blog before. I dig her style.

And I dig her latest post, "How to Win Friends and Influence Paleo".

She speaks the truth. Whenever I tell people why I don't eat this or that, because it gives me acne, or sends me running for the nearest bathroom, or after I eat it my knees hurt for no reason... People don't believe you. Or they think you're crazy. Or both.

People are often out of tune with their own bodies. They may think that their chronic back/knee/wrist/stomach pain is "Normal" and "everyone has it".

I tried using this example once, with my mom. We were talking about birth control pills, and I said that I hadn't had cramps since I was on the pill (aside from the obvious benefit of not popping out an unexpeceted chill'un). She said I shouldn't have cramps anyway, that she never did, and I told her most people experience some pain, and she came back with, "And HOW MANY people do you know that are in Optimum Health?"

Case Closed. Mom Wins Again. (I consider myself extremely lucky that my mother is incredibly intelligent, inquisitive, and quick on her feet and able to cite scientific studies and authors like you wouldn't believe! It makes arguing tough, though, when hard evidence is smacked down in front of you!) :)

Remember those same people from two paragraphs ago? The ones who think their chronic pain is normal? They also probably will turn to Western medicine, pills and injections and god knows what else, to cure their pain, when the answer is probably very simple. If you eat the right things (for you), exercise in the right way (for you), get enough sleep, and have some means of eliminating stress, then you will, very likely, live a long and happy life free from any sort of disease or major pain.

Note I said "eat the right things / exercise the right way (for you)". Let's start with eating. Here is what I eat: grass finished meat, chicken, pork (including bacon) from Skagit River Ranch in Washington, about an hour north of Seattle. If I can't get that, I make an effort to find the, at least, "grass fed" or "organic" animal slices in the supermarket. Organic vegetables from Local Roots CSA or my farmer's market, local stores, etc. Organic fruit from my farmer's market and local grocery stores. Some coconut water (no added sugar, but it does have naturally inherent carbohydrates because it is a perfect isotonic beverage). Herbal tea (lots). Water. Butter. Salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. One cup of coffee with organic whole milk in the morning (~12 oz total). Roasted cacao beans. The occasional bit of salami or hard parmesan chunk (not more than an ounce or so). Nuts of all kinds. A large salad for lunch (courtesy of the CSA). Very little alcohol (a glass a month, or so). Do I go out to eat? Hell Yes, and I try my best to stick to this sort of food. Is this type of lifestyle cheap? Hell No! Notice nowhere in there did I mention I go to Wal-Mart or the Cash & Carry/Giant/Safeway/Vons for my food. I know it's expensive, but I consider it in the realm of "preventive maintenance". If I can live in a manner that I believe is in accordance with my beliefs about environmental preservation, eating local, healthy, becoming an optimum weight, and being pain- and acne-free, then Why in the World wouldn't I do it? Notice that nowhere in this paragraph did I mention grains or processed foods. They don't work for me, plain and simple.

Here is an account by my friend Randy, of why he started eating more vegetables.

I am also committed to the Long & Slow track of weight loss. This means I have cut down my meat consumption, as well as portion sizes in general. This pretty much means I'm hungry all the time, and it is annoying, but I can see some body changes! It's pretty amazing. And it takes forever, because for some reason those last ten pounds are as stubborn as a mule in the rain.

Now for the exercise bit. I have friends that do pilates, friends that do yoga, friends that row or mountain bike or hike with 50 lb packs for days on end, friends that take all the morning classes at the local gym and then some evening yoga, friends that run 12 miles and then stop for two weeks, then pick up one day and run 10 miles again, and friends that are always training for a new triathlon. Lifting heavy things and being forced to do fast, crazy drills at Crossfit works for me, with a small dose of pilates. I also believe in getting the hell outside as often as possible, whether that's in a kayak, sailboat, on skis, snowshoes, hiking boots, or on a bike. If I can't get to Nature, I'll take a walk around my neighborhood and admire the changing plant life.

I encouraged my mom to find a personal trainer in Louisana, and that seriously helped her get in shape for their recent trip to Peru. He focuses on pilates with her. And you know what? She got hooked and is going to stick with him!


To summarize, I think everyone needs to find what is right for them. Most of us are capable of acting like sentient adults, and making our own decisions. No, it's not easy changing habits. Yes, you can do it. Self control and determination are skills that require constant practice, they just don't *appear* one day.

Good Luck!


(Someone help me off my soapbox, please!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jessie & Jeremy & Connor

I became friends with the aforementioned trio via Daniel. Jessie & Jeremy had gone to ROTC together, and I think they either knew Daniel from high school or college... I can't remember how far they go back, but they are all really good friends!

I was speaking to Daniel via Skype last week, before he got onto the aircraft carrier (maybe I should explain: I was supposed to travel to Japan as of last Thursday, but the Tuesday prior, Daniel called me and told me that the Navy had reassigned him to a carrier at the last minute. Literally. As in, he was supposed to have flown out for a two day jaunt to Korea the next day, and now he was finding himself packing up for a who-knows-how-long stint.

Anyway, he told me that Jeremy had been injured while on tour in Afghanistan, and that his legs were injured. Here is an AP article that Jessie linked to in her blog describing the event. After much investigation on her part, she found out that Jeremy was OK, in good spirits, and is undergoing surgery in DC before coming home. There was some mention of metal plates; this can't be too exciting for either of them.

My thoughts are with them. Their son, Connor, is a cute little guy with some developmental disabilities, and he is actually the baby that I've spent the most time with. Ever. Can you believe that? :) In my mind, Jessie & Jeremy are some of the best parents ever - they are patient, kind, loving, ... did I say patient? And they are just really sweet people, and I sincerely hope that Jeremy's recovery goes quickly and they can get back to normal life, and hopefully he won't get deployed again, or at least for a very long time! (Or maybe he'll get deployed somewhere fun and safe, like Hawaii).

Cafe I Do

I wanted to make everyone who even glances at this blog aware of one of my oldest friend's newest ventures!

Please hightail it on over to Cafe I Do!

My friend Priscila had such fun planning her own wedding that she has started scouring websites and other material for beautiful, fun wedding ideas!

While I didn't attend her wedding, the pictures, cards, and associated paraphernalia that I viewed online or received in the mail all coordinated beautifully and provided a real cohesion to her wedding design ideas.

Hm, maybe we can shuttle her site off to Apartment Therapy or one of it's offshoots...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Post 30 Days of Paleo

I did it! I ate Paleo for 30 days!

The only digression I had was about 10 days in, when I had some slightly-sweetened cream inside of a chocolate shell at the L'Auberge du Lac casino buffet in Lake Charles, LA. Oh yeah, and the mini-can of Coke I drank when I almost fainted after my blood draw mid-month. That was a necessity, though, and the first soda I've drank in 10 years or so.

I feel great!

I no longer crave sugar. I mean, if I see a cupcake or pastry, YES of course I want it, but not like I used to crave it, and I also know that it is like crack, and if I eat even part of it, all this effort was for Naught, and I'll have to start back at Square One. And who wants that.

I have to credit Melissa Byers' blog for the inspiration to Sack Up and do this. She owns a Crossfit out in New Hampshire somewhere, and gives the Tough Love via Blog like no one else. Plus, you know, I am jealous and want to be pulling her weights. :) (Although my deadlift just went up to 75 kg, so I am finally pulling more than my body weight). ETA: My goal is to pull a 90 kg DL by December. That's TWO BILLS (read: 200 lbm) off the floor, people! I will have Fran ready with a camera.

As an extra incentive, I had an alternative sort of blood test done to determine whether I had any food allergies, and I found some surprising results. I am to avoid polysorbate-60, tapioca, and flaxseed for 6 months, and an odd variety of food and environmental / petroleum based substances for 3 months, before reincorporating them into my life. Most of these allergens are easy to avoid, but some - like TEA - are difficult for me, because I love it so much and have an entire cupboard shelf devoted to it. Luckily, substitutes abound, like the many varieties of herbal teas available.


Anyway, all I am saying is that changing your habits is possible, you just have to be willing to put up with the discomfort of retraining yourself in new habits.


As another update, I have lost probably about 4 lb since I left for Louisiana; not a ton of weight, but it's a start. Yes, it's annoying to be eating less - this means I'm pretty much a little bit hungry all the dang time. And I eat a lot less meat, and serving sizes in general, than before. So if that's what it takes for me to lose some more weight, then so be it.


Well. The sun came out today; I am glad! It is warm once more in Seattle.

I've been busy!...

I bought the World's Cheapest Bookcase at Target on Saturday. Worse than IKEA; none of the fasteners were metal, just injection-molded plastic that I had to snap off stems. It reminded me of making a plastic model car. But it was $20, and it looks close enough to my IKEA shelves, so it shall remain.

I also indulged in a new shower curtain, bath mat, table lamp, and ... I think that is it.


Knitting pictures!

I finished my Toasty Topper and Bootees for my friend Paul's wife, Becca. She is due to pop out their kiddo next month sometime, I believe.

The hat is knit double-stranded with Cascade 220 superwash. I have no idea what size head it will fit, but hopefully it will be too big, if anything, and their boy will grow into it. Like I've confessed before, I have no idea as to how big babies are, or how big they are supposed to be. I assume that since I followed the pattern, it will be "enough". And if not, well, uh, sorry Becca. :)

I had to wait forever on the booties. I emptied my Kundert spindle today by plying my Icelandic sample, and then was able to use it to add twist to some of the green Cascade 220 s/w and then let it cable so it would stay twisted before creating the bootie ties.


Here are some gifts my mom brought me from Peru! I am thrilled with the bottom whorl spindle she found for me! It's beautiful. I am fairly certain that the whorl was made on a lathe, but the shaft looks hand-carved. The man who sold it to her told her that the wood will last 'for generations'.

She also gave me a Shaman's hat that she bought. I think she bought it and then decided she wasn't going to be using it for her ceremonial work, so here's hoping it brings me luck skiing!


I leave for Japan on Thursday! I am soo excited! And as an added bonus, it looks like some friends from Seattle recently moved to Japan somewhere! I tried to contact them via Facebook; hopefully things work out and we can connect with them!

Now, to decide what to knit while on the 10+ hour flight...

Friday, August 7, 2009

General Update

I have neglected this blog for a while! Whoa!

Well, here is a bullet list of what's going on. I'll elaborate more, hopefully I'll have some time this weekend. With pictures!

  • I was just in Louisiana for 2 1/2 weeks, dog/house-sitting while my parents went to Peru. They said the trip was amazing, exhausting, exhilirating, and many other -ings. Thanks to my manager for letting me telecommute while I was out there!
  • My mom brought me back lots of goodies from Peru. A crystal necklace, a Shaman's ceremonial hat (which I am sure was for her, but she said she wasn't going to use it; maybe it will stay on my head while I ski - the pom pom on top is pretty wild), another hat, and over a kg of alpaca yarn in various weights. I also brought home part of a dish set that belonged to my grandma (surprisingly, nothing broke), and an alpaca hide rug. It needs some fixing, but is beautiful and oh-so-soft to roll around on.
  • I am home for 10 days, several of which have already passed. I leave August 13 for Tokyo, Japan! I am so excited! I haven't seen Daniel since we met in Hawaii several months ago, and I intend to make good use of our time together. :)
  • While in Japan, we're going to climb Mt. Fuji. Climb. Mount. Fuji. Hopefully I will be OK. I warned Daniel I'd have all my four-letter words in a row before we started, because y'all know how I like to have the Tourette's outbursts when picking heavy things up off the ground or other exhausting Crossfit-induced workouts.
  • After I get home from Japan (August 30), my sister and brother in law will be coming out to Seattle & Portland! Hooray! Paul asked for kayaking, and he shall have it. I would also like to take them to the ice caves, if they are in good condition.
  • I still haven't finished warping my loom. Sigh. Jen is out at Sock Summit this weekend, so she wasn't available to help. I finished tying on the back beam, I just need to do the front beam.
  • I received my July RSC kit; LOVE IT! It's inspired by heirloom tomatoes.
  • I also bought a bunch of other crap: Bose noise-cancelling headphones (refurbished, shipped from China. Hopefully they aren't fake, but they seem to work fine. They were specifically for the 10.5 hour flight to Japan, but they seem like they will come in handy at other times), a few new books from the Interweave "hurt book sale", and a Starbucks Barista espresso machine with included conical burr grinder! (That last one was off Craigslist, and I got the pair for $150. New, the pair would have been over $450, so I don't think I did too badly). I also justified it by thinking that if I make my own coffee instead of going out, I will save money AND be able to use better quality ingredients. For instance, I really like Stumptown beans. They are roasted in Portland, and delivered up here just a few days after roasting. They also make a Panamanian blend, so I can, you know, support the Motherland. I also use a vat-pasteurized half and half, from a local dairy, and I buy raw milk when I can get it (although I don't know how raw milk will behave under the steam wand of the espresso maker). Truth be told, I know I have lots of room to grow using the espresso maker, but dang if it doesn't turn out a great latte! I even managed to get some pretty fine foam on the milk.
  • I am almost done knitting a baby hat to go with the baby booties I am making for a friend who's wife is due to pop one out soon.
  • I ordered Clearwire, which is a local wireless internet service, but my reception isn't looking too good right now, and I may need to send it back and cancel my service. I was hoping to save money by not having a landline and ditching Qwest, but it doesn't look like that is a possibility.
  • After a couple of weeks of struggling to understand some coding at work, my coworker showed me a much easier way to write a script. I am glad that is working, because it was starting to cause me a little stress!!

OK, now it's off to an annual physical for more anti-baby pills! Hoorah!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Paleo Day 3 Update

Well... this hasn't been as bad as Previously Advertised. I do crave sugar, but fruit helps. It's still sugar, yes, but it's not as concentrated as you would get in candy or any sort of processed food.

I feel like I should be posting my food logs here... You may notice I eat a lot of the same things. Specifically meat. I love meat. For the last few weeks, I've been buying all the meat I eat at home (that is steak or beef jerky) from grass-finished sources at my local farmer's market. It's a bit more expensive, yes, but "studies show" that grass-fed beef fat contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, just like flax seeds and oily fishes.

I also eat a lot of fruit. I try to balance it with more veggies, but damn I love fruit.

The reason my diet hasn't varied very much is that I haven't been to the store recently! I'm leaving for a few weeks to my parent's house, and want to try to eat as much food in my fridge as possible.

Day 1:

- pastrami / salami slices
- blueberries
- strawberries
- nuts

- watermelon
- salami
- nuts

- meat
- salad with oil & white balsamic vinegar
- nuts
- pumpkin seeds

- meat
- strawberries
- peanut butter
- raw coconut oil mixed with raw cocoa (no sugar)

Workout: 4 PM Crossfit. 21 / 18 / 15 / 12 / 9 / 6 / 3 reps alternating wall-ball + burpees or squat-thrusts.


Day 2

- pastrami / salami slices
- strawberries
- blueberries
- watermelon
- nuts

- meat
- celery / carrot sticks
- nuts
- pumpkin seeds (in shell)

- meat
- rainbow chard, cooked in olive oil with garlic, onions, vinegar, splash of white wine
- watermelon
- peanut butter
- coconut oil /unsweetened cocoa (makes a chocolatey paste)

Workout: 4 PM Crossfit. Lift heavy shit over your head, pick it up off the floor to do it, and record the three heaviest lifts ( I was bitchy and tired, so I only managed to get 35 kg overhead). Back squats. (PR - 60 kg backsquat for 3 rep, also I snatched a 12 kg kettlebell repeatedly for the first time! Yeah!)

Day 3

- pastrami / salami slices
- blueberries
- strawberries
- watermelon
- macadamias

- meat
- salad (I got Italian dressing in the cafeteria :( )
- nuts
- mixed fruits from cafeteria

To be continued...
Workout: 4 PM Crossfit. I don't know what today's torture is. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

30 Days of Paleo

Inspired by Melissa Byers' great blog post, I am going to do this.

Eat Clean. For 30 Days.

I am starting NOW.

Breakfast was pastrami, salami, and blueberries. To drink I have my trusty 40 oz water bottle (stainless steel, of course), a tall glass of ice, and some tea (Kamiya Papaya Oolong from Teavana right now. It will change in a few minutes when I go make another cup). Lunch is a Trader Joe's chicken salad (sans the little fried noodles). Dinner will be, I think, steak and vegetables. Or steak and fruit.

I am giving up dairy, coffee (unless I can manage to learn to drink it black), alcohol, and sweets. The only dairy I was really eating was milk in my morning cup of coffee, so I am not too far off. And alcohol should be relatively easy; I was drinking about two glasses of wine per month. I figured out it exacerbates my allergies (very frustrating!).

When I get home tonight, I will also take oregano oil. It tastes like Satan's asshole, but it is a powerful anti-fungal agent. By eating clean Paleo and using natural anti-fungal agents, I will be killing off any fungal load in my body. There is research out that suggests that starving and killing off your internal fungal load will help manage hormones, thereby balancing things like fat management. It is hard to believe that I exercise this much and have not lost any fat. In fact, it's pretty ridiculous and REALLY frustrating, and makes me want to yell and punch things.

*Ding*. Did you hear that? It means GO.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Can Haz Loom!

I finally got my loom!

It's a Harrisville Designs 4 shaft loom, about 30" wide and maybe 48" tall? I love it!

I took that picture yesterday, before I had messed with it at all. My friend Jen agreed to come over Friday and help me get yarn and warp it for a project. I picked out a kitchen towel set to weave, and it turned out that my reed was too widely spaced (6 dents / inch), so either I need to pick a new project with thicker yarns, or get a new reed. I'll see if Weaving Works has reeds that will fit this loom; if not, I'll start with a different project.

Today, in preparation for Friday, I took some time to at least straighten out the straps and pulleys and make sure everything was strung correctly. The pulleys at the top that hold each harness were threaded incorrectly and strung over each other and prevented things from returning to a normal static position, but I think I fixed most of that. Jen may have to help me fine-tune some stuff, though.

I carded these batts over the weekend. Aren't they fun? Just a mix of what I had lying around - a lot of SoySilk in those batts, for sure (mostly it is the shiny peach colored fiber).


I broke down and ordered some stuff off Etsy. I found this seller called Shunklies off of someone else's blog (can't remember where, sorry!!), and they had a delightful kettle dyed roving that just really spoke to me. I also picked up 100 g of scoured Norwegian fleece for a song.

Here's the fleece:

Here's the roving! Isn't it neat? It's called "Humbug". I just checked, and there isn't any listed right now. It's combed Shetland.


Finally, some knitting progress. This is to be Daniel's sweater. Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Hand to Hand" sweater, using Cascade 220 superwash, size 10 Addi Turbo needle. I'm making the 38" chest sized sweater, and modified the cable up the arms. Instead of hers, I am using the "Nautical Twisted Rope" cable pattern from a Barbara Walker Treasury (can't remember which one, either!). The picture doesn't show it, but I am actually very pleased with the 220's stitch definition. If you're not familiar with this sweater pattern, the way it works is you start at one cuff, knit up and around to the collar, leave a hole for the head, and knit down to the other cuff. Then you pick up stitches below the torso portion of what you just knit, and knit straight down, in the round.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Too Lazy for Pictures

But not too lazy to write!

I broke down and bought a Skacel Schoppel Wolle Zauberball in the "Tropical Fish" colorway from the Fiber Gallery today. I also picked up a couple of Blue Sky Pretty Cheep project bags, in the periwinkle and tangerine colors.

I am SO SORE from hiking! Mostly my calves, butt & quads. Holy Moly! Climbing down the stairs was an event this morning. Another sign that I need to hike more!

I'm getting further on Daniel's sweater; probably a good 6" up the sleeve now. I also decided to make short socks out of my Cat Bordhi "Jeweled Steps" socks. I am just ready to be done with them. Maybe I took too long, but now I kind of think that pattern is a little boring. (!)

I am also spinning a couple of things - on the wheel is part of a 100 g braid of BFL roving I bought at OFFF last year. On my spindle is a tightly twisted thin singles of Gotland, which I drumcarded in a fit of excitement this morning before leaving for pilates. I think I am going to try and make a 3 ply sock yarn out of Gotland and possibly some silk and / or mohair and / or some other wool. I think two solid plies of something and then a variegated ply of something else would be really interesting looking... I suspect the outer coat of Icelandic wool would make a good sock yarn; it's not really soft, but it's sturdy and has a decently long staple (even the lamb's fleece I have).

I am also excited because my friend Jeanne got my loom for me!!! (I think!)... I should be able to pick it up from her Monday or Tuesday... WOOO!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I took a couple of test drives on Friday. My first drive was a Honda Insight, and that was shortly followed by a Toyota Prius.

The Insight is Honda's latest hybrid offering. It looks like a clone of the Prius, except it's smaller and about $3000 cheaper. I really wanted to like the Insight; I remember fondly driving the original Insight back when it was released in the early 2000's, and I worked for the California Air Resources Board. Then, as now, the driving was a little "ker-chunk"y. Back then, I think it was just that the manual transmission I was driving wasn't shifting very well. Now, it's the flywheel re-engaging when accelerating from a stop that is giving the clunky feeling. It's not enough to make a passenger sick, but it's noticeable to me, especially since my Civic is a fairly smooth ride. The other objectionable thing is that rear window viewing area has been compromised in the name of aerodynamics. You are forced to look through a window that is split in half laterally, and the C pillars are thick, so you don't get a lot of lateral-rear view. I don't believe the Insight comes with a rearview camera.

What I do like about the Insight is that it is smaller than the Prius. I like small cars, that's just me. I like that they maneuver more easily, you can get into tighter spaces, and park them in more areas than bigger cars. I like not having to think about how far away the ends of my car are. And I also felt that acceleration and driving were decent, if you don't take the kerchunking into account.

That being said, the Prius was a nice ride. The seat is firm, yet cushiony. The suspension is very smooth, as is the driving. I enjoyed the seamless transition from electric to gas-assisted power, and it provided acceleration that was at least comparable to my current Civic, if not a little quicker (probably due to the electric motor torque available on the low end). The rearview camera is a nice aid, but I would assume I'd be better off actually turning my head and looking behind me. The negatives... it's bigger, somewhere between a Civic and an Accord in terms of length, but the interior volume is equivalent to a Nissan Maxima. It's more expensive. The rear window is still in that annoying lateral-split configuration.

In the end, I decided to wait. I was eager to take advantage of the current promotion (if you take delivery of a vehicle with > 40 mpg fuel efficiency before August 1, you do not pay any sales tax). However, I think my parents, Daniel, and some friends convinced me to wait. I am going to ride out the flight test program at work, and see how my finances stack up after that; a few months of getting essentially double the paycheck should bulk up the savings quite nicely.

Tiger Mountain Hike

My friend Melinda and I went to a popular local hike today, called Tiger Mountain. All the reviews of Tiger Mountain I've read say it's a 5 mile out-and-back, but... I don't believe it. Melinda also thinks they redid the trail a few years ago, and we estimated we walked between 6-8 miles total. The signs up the trail, if accurate, mean that now the trail is about 4 miles to the western summit, roughly >2000 ft elevation gain.

ANYWAY, despite the possible / probably sign inaccuracies, it was a beautiful hike. And a challenge for me, which is something I enjoyed (when it was over, at least!).

I showed up at Melinda's house in Redmond at 8 AM sharp, and we drove about 20 minutes southeast on I-90 to arrive at Tiger Mountain (exit 20, if you're curious). We got to the trailhead early enough to score a parking spot in the lot directly adjacent to the trailhead. Upon exiting, we noticed that a ton more cars had parked, and people were adding about an extra 1/4 to 1/2 mile to their hike just to reach their cars!

Melinda seemed to have no problem ascending the mountain, but since I don't have a great cardio system (despite Crossfit), I was huffing my way up the mountain. I also chose to wear my knee braces, which was a smart move because the trails were fairly steep in a lot of portions, and the braces serve to stabilize my knees from lateral movements and causing further inflammation later.

Here I am at the top, after shedding my blue fleece and zipping off the lower part of my hiking pants. The cord around my neck that looks like it's choking me is actually a wide-brimmed hat, but the vast majority of this hike is underneath a deciduous tree canopy. Melinda remembered that if it's warm out, the forested area can get quite humid.

The view from the top is spectacular, especially on a beautiful day like today. In the next picture, if you look just to the left of the exact center of the picture, you'll see a white blob. That's the peak of Mt. Rainier.

Here is my "proof-positive" picture, confirming that we did make it to the top!

And here is a shot of Melinda and me, blue sky and green trees surrounding us at the peak. We played a brief game of fetch with an Australian Shepherd, and enjoyed a brief snack while taking in the scenery before descending.

I ran out of water from my Camelbak pack about when we were 1/4 of the way back down, which made for a slightly frustrating descent. Melinda had survived the hike with barely any water left in her bottle. We got down and I remembered I had some tea in the car, so we sucked that down, then drove back to her place, picked up her husband Chris, and went to lunch at Panera.

What a great day! My knees are still sore, but I hope that will go away tomorrow. I am going to take some ibuprofen tonight before I fall asleep, just to help inflammation stay away.

I really want to do more of these hikes, because getting out and hiking is the only way I can think of to really improve my hiking skills!


A side note: My new 3 rep max for military press is 25 kg. Yeah! That was after a 2000 meter row, too.

I got home and ended up getting a lot of knitting, and a few small things around the house, done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Surprise Package

I received a small package in the mail yesterday. From Daniel! He is currently on a ship, and emailed me to say they were planning to let the sailors swim off the side of the ship for a while. Sounds like fun! Except I was wondering how they get off the boat...after all, most decks are quite high above the waterline.

Isn't it pretty? It's a simple piece of woven cotton cloth, with a fun print on it. The print reminds me of peonies or chrysanthemums, with the occasional bee flitting around. The funniest part is the slip of paper that came with it, showing how one could use the fabric. My favorite picture is the final one, "Bath".


I also wanted to show off a wool shawl I purchased on my trip to Madison. I got it at one of those ubiquitous "hippie" stores that smell like patchouli or Nag Champa, and sell goods that are ostensibly fair-traded. Anyway, this shawl is wonderfully light, yet warm and snuggly. I have used it at the office a few times, and find it easier to don and doff than a cardigan. Although a friend of mine did call it "a bit mature for you". :)


My friend Melinda and I went strawberry picking on Saturday, up north of Seattle in a town called Arlington. Here is the result:

Beautiful. luscious red berries. Sweet as sugar, and fragrant. The farm wasn't organic, so we had to wait and wash everything when we got home. $1.50 / lb. I picked 13 lb ($20 worth) and helped Melinda get 20 lb all within about half an hour, which attests to the farm's dense berry plantings.

Below is part of my haul, drying on blue towels on my stovetop. In all, I made a large strawberry milkshake (using whole milk, strawberries, vanilla extract, and stevia liquid), froze 4 quart size bags of berries, had 2 x 32 oz containers in the fridge plus another couple of bowls full of strawberries to deal with yesterday. Yum!! My entire place was strawberry scented!