Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Knitting: It's what school holidays are for, right?

We are now into the second week of the school holidays and while that's great for the boys, it makes my first week back at studying a little challenging.  However, I managed to power through the required course work in the first two days (go me) and the rest of this week will be dedicated to running, yoga and knitting.  I wanted to get all my spring cleaning done before the trimester started, and although not completely done, I managed about 95% of it - I still have our bedroom to do.  I'm pretending the gardens don't exist...  I have managed to get quite a bit of knitting time recently, which has pleased me immensely.  (Hi Margaret!  Yes, I'm still knitting, don't worry!).  Here's a wee roundup of FOs for you:

The Norma blanket, knit in Malabrigo Worsted (undyed) - I knit the largest size, which used the full charts to row 82 (the pattern on Knitty says to stop at row 32).  It used less than seven full skeins, so I still have a bit left to make a matching little something for the baby (maybe an Aviatrix hat or something).  I love this blanket!  It was such a fun knit, and it is so squooshy soft I almost want to keep it.

I knit Deane a new winter sweater.  It's from a WWII-era pattern which is pretty cool - the original pattern book has been restored and can now be uploaded in pdf form, or accessed online.  Pretty neat, huh?  I knit the largest size (44" chest) with Drops Alaska worsted yarn in dark grey, and used about 20.5 balls.  The last sweater I knit Deane, while not a complete disaster, wasn't exactly a complete success either - the ribbing is atrocious and looks terrible.  That one took me a while to knit as well, if you include attempt #1 which ended up being frogged (because I used two different-sized needle tips, duh) - like, a year.  Oops.  When the idea of knitting him a new one was discussed, he gave me a bit of flak for that.  So of course, reverse psychology being what it is, I knit this one in less than two weeks.  Again, I wouldn't call it a complete success - it's a little on the short side (I blame the belly... ahem...just kidding ;P).  Other than that its pretty good.  Deane likes it and he has to wear it, so I guess that's the main thing.  I certainly have ideas for the next one though!

To break up the monotony of knitting so. much. dark. grey. stockinette, I worked up a little market bag in some DK weight cotton yarn I've had in my stash since forever ago.  I used up all the yellow I had left and needed a different colour for the handles, and the only other colour I had was black, so this bag has ended up being accidentally Hufflepuff :)  I think it's cute, if a little on the small side - I was restricted with the amount of yarn available.  I might make some more in the future if I can get DK cotton on sale, and will use larger needles for the mesh part of the bag to make it bigger, as well as including more pattern repeats.

I'm planning to start yoga classes next week (at Auckland Yoga Academy - they have some pretty good deals for beginners, and they're not far from my house.  Double win) so I needed a yoga mat carry bag.  I knit this in some fingering weight cotton I was given by a friend quite some time ago.  The pattern calls for worsted weight, so I double-stranded for the bag, and quadruple-stranded for the strap.  Even then, it only used up a little over two balls so I still have some left.  Dishcloths, anyone?

And finally, the current project on the needles is another baby blanket.  This one is a lovely chevron striped blanket.  I've modified the pattern slightly by adding extra pattern repeats to make it wider, and have included extra stitches on each side for a garter stitch border, as well as some garter stitch rows top and bottom to prevent the edges rolling.  This is being knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and is another super squooshy soft blanket.  OMG this kid is going to be drowning in soft hand-knits!  If I had the choice I'd make it much more colourful, but the mum-to-be prefers pastels and won't be finding out the gender so I'm pretty limited.  Okay, so these colours aren't strictly pastel, but that's about as much as I'm willing to budge.  At least until we know what the little bubs is going to be :)  I'm quietly very excited about this new arrival, and have many knits planned (as well as some other little projects).

So as you can see, I've been pretty busy with the craftiness.  The next project on the list is either the Rocky Coast cardigan or the Tinder cardigan.  I have the yarn and patterns for both ready to go, so it's just a matter of making a decision.  I may need to flip a coin...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Vegan diet: nailing it (mostly)

I went in and had a full health check last week, with a whole raft of blood tests etc etc.  I am super ridiculously healthy!  My iron and folate levels, B12 levels, and all the other bits and pieces are perfect.  I have excellent blood pressure, and I am comfortably in the healthy weight range.  The only thing I am slightly low in is Vitamin D.  My only explanation for this could be the whole staying inside and studying/knitting, not spending as much time outside in the sunlight.  I have three tablets to take, one per month for winter, and then I should be sweet.  Vitamin D deficiency prevents your body from absorbing enough calcium, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis, or bone softening/weakening.  I have never broken a bone, so I think my bones are pretty healthy, but it's good to keep on top of these things :)

I am definitely gluten intolerant, but like many things, the level of intolerancy is a spectrum.  Mine is not severe, so I can manage it much like I do IBS - how it works best for me.  Thankfully, I don't have to cut it out of my diet completely.  I just know what will happen if I eat too much, so it's my own responsibility.

My doctor is 100% supportive of my vegan diet, and is confident that I am managing my diet well in terms of getting the right amount of nutrients (as indicated by my blood tests).  Onward with healthy, ethical, environmentally friendly eating!

Knitting the blanket is going very well - it really is quite an enjoyable knit.  I've churned through nearly four 100g skeins of Malabrigo Worsted, and am 42 rows through the large chart, with 40 to go before the border.  I expect I'll go through a few more skeins in the process!  I purchased eight, just to be sure I had more than enough.  Unfortunately, it's impossible to take a picture of a square blanket on a circular needle that isn't long enough to spread out even a quarter of the blanket, so the only picture I can offer you of my progress is this:

Can't wait 'til it's finished!  It'll look fabulous once it's blocked, and then I can move on to more projects, like this one, or this one.  Oh, this baby will be drowning in hand knits...

Although, I'm itching to cast on a cardigan or two.  Having gone through my wardrobe of knits for the winter, I've come to the conclusion that I don't actually like the necks on two of my jerseys (square and envelope collars), another one is too itchy (possum/merino blend), so that leaves me with my two favourite cardigans, and the lovely soft teal cardigan.  Others have been given away, or wrecked in some way (felted, got a hole that I never quite got around to fixing).  Yes, it's definitely time for new hand knits.  I'm thinking a Rocky Coast or Tinder...

As expected, spring cleaning (er, winter cleaning) is going slowly but well.  I've cleaned the entire downstairs from top to bottom (literally), and now just have the upstairs to do.  We won't mention the outside...  But today?  Today, my SIL and I will be watching Duck Dynasty :)  Have a good week!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Double Rainbow: 2015 Edition

I had a goal this year of beating last year's time.  I had a slightly more ambitious goal of placing in the top three for my age group.  I didn't quite manage it, but I came close - 4th place.  Oh well...

It was warmer this year, by about 4°.  The sun came out to play for a while, but then it went back into hiding.  From about 1pm onwards it started getting really chilly.  Although the official temperature was about 12°, the wind chill factor was biting.  One good thing about it was that it blew away all the bugs in the cow paddocks, so we didn't have to run with eyes and mouth closed through that section like we did last year.  That was challenging.  And gross.

The race itself went relatively okay - it started off pretty well.  From about the 10km mark I knew my stomach was going to cause issues - I've been eating quite a bit of gluten-based food lately, including a bagel for breakfast.  It was coming back to haunt me :(  The first hill climb was challenging, but the views were spectacular and the downhill was the most fun I've had in ages.  There wasn't too much mud, so the trail wasn't slippery.  I was flying, and it was awesome.  But as we know, all good things must come to an end, and there was another uphill climb ahead.  I haven't seen the splits yet, but I'm pretty sure the second climb was slower than the first - more walking ;)  I was also disappointed to find that there were no marmite and chip sandwiches at the top.  The prospect of that sandwich was one of the reasons I had decided to do the run again.  Turns out they'd misplaced the marmite (Martin found it later, buried at the bottom of a shopping bag).  To be honest, I probably wouldn't have eaten one anyway given that my stomach was playing havoc, but it would've been nice to have the option.

The photographer (Allan Ure from Photos4Sale) was being cheeky and positioning himself at the top of hill climbs.  I know it was because that's where the good background views were, but it certainly makes you work.  Running up hills is hard!  So I gave him a bit of flak for it:

I have no idea who that other guy was.  Guess he was just enjoying the view.  And ruining my photo...

Hey, you caught me walking.

Yes Allan, I'm happy

What? You want me to run?

Okay, I'm running. We good?  Great. I'm totally walking again once I get past you...

The home stretch was a little slow-going.  My tights, clearly designed for those blessed with thin legs, were cutting into my legs a little at the bottom cuffs.  My shins swell a bit when I run (yay shin splints) and by the time I'd finished my second climb and was heading back down, it was causing me some grief in my left leg.  The next day I had bruising and a big lump on my left shin where they were digging in.  Guess I'll be wearing them for short runs only from now on...  That'll teach me to wear new running gear on race day. #rookiemistake

I was going to try and finish in three hours, but had to adjust my time goal significantly with the day's little upsets.  Although slightly disappointed with my finishing time, I was happy to have cut nine minutes off last year, and move up a slot on the finisher's list.

Yay, finished!!  My shoes are covered in cow poop, but I'm finished.

My official time was 3:22:12.  I was very happy to find that they had warm pumpkin soup and vegetarian sausages as well as the usual meaty offerings for the runners afterwards.  And of course, beer.  We hung around for the prize-giving, and Martin won the last spot prize of the day - 'All You Can Eat Turkey', aka free entry into Lactic Turkey events for a year.  Lucky guy ;)  My friend Rob came second in his age category, which was pretty cool.

We arrived home at the very reasonable hour of 6.30pm, so the day wasn't as long as last year.  I'd set the alarm for 5am and we were on the road at about 5.30am - last year we were super early.  No need for that!

In other news, T headed off to Year 6 camp this morning.  He won't be back until Friday.  I'm going to miss him!

Bye!  Have fun!!

I've started knitting a lovely blanket in the most squishable yarn ever - Malabrigo Worsted.  YUM!  I ordered it online from Knitnstitch, and it arrived the next morning.  Gotta love speedy service :)  The pattern is Norma, and the yarn is Malabrigo Worsted Natural, which is a lovely creamy white and soooooo soft.  It'll be for a much-awaited, long-planned baby of some close friends.  They're not finding out what they're having, and prefer 'classic' colours, so I'm playing it safe.  So far this is a pretty fun knit - the chart is easy to follow, albeit rather large.  I've nearly finished the first (smaller) chart, and should move on to the large one by tonight.  It takes up two pieces of A4 paper.  Neat.

Square blanket on a round circular

We enjoyed a good couple of runs recently - hill repeats on Mt Eden on a foggy morning:

And a four-hour Monday trail run in the Waitakeres:

Love it.

With a few weeks to go before the next round of study begins, I'm taking the opportunity to thoroughly clean my house from top to bottom, one room at a time.  It'll be slow going, but it is sorely needed, so I better get stuck in.  Today, the dining room and downstairs hallway.  Tomorrow, the lounge!  Have a good week :)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Things that make me smile

My kids.

X, expertly modelling my recently completed shawl.  Love the facial expression!

 T, snuggling up under the crochet blanket I've been working on recently.  Excuse the mess...

Coming home from a three hour trail run to discover my family have made me vegan chai spice snickerdoodle cookies (from the Isa Does It cookbook I've borrowed from the library for about the fourth time).

Procrastinating about study by baking my own cookies - jumbo oatmeal and raisin (also from Isa Does It.  I NEED to buy this cookbook).  They were really, really good.

Eating the best vegan burger I've ever had at Vinyl Coffee Shop on Dominion Road.  It was so good, I hugged the chef.

Getting my running mojo back, and managing to dodge the downpours.  This morning's run - here comes the rain again:


  • Seeing a guy running in a heavy downpour the other day, wearing sunglasses.  #badass
  • $16 earbuds from JB Hi-Fi that allow me to listen to classical music and drown out all the weird noises my family members make that I find really irritating.
  • Spotify.  Pitch Perfect soundtracks.  #sohappy  

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Dude, I'm sorry...

I've been working on a shawl over the last few days.  One I started back in 2013 - this seems to be a bit of a theme of late, picking up old projects I started too long ago.

Cloud Illusions shawl, knit with Skeinz mink yarn in laceweight

Anyway, I finished the lace section and am now procrastinating about the picot bind off, knowing it will be slow and torturous.  I'm going to wait until I have a few hours to myself, perhaps with a movie and a large pot of tea, to get stuck in.  So with that put aside I picked up the fugly blanket to do a bit of crochet - another project I started a while ago.

With a colour change, I decided to work in some of my handspun scraps.  Now, I'd come to the realisation some time ago that as much as I like spinning, and the finished yarn in a skein, I don't particularly like the finished yarn knit into a fabric.  There are exceptions - namely my most favourite cardigan of all time:

97-18 Swing cardigan by Drops, knit with my handspun merino (about fingering weight-ish)

And may I point out that this cardigan still looks EXACTLY THE SAME four years later...  (Sadly, I recently had to throw out those jeans.  Best jeans ever.  I loved you, man.  We had some good times.)  I digress...

I picked out a bunch of handspun scraps and started working them into my blanket, when I realised just how terrible they were.  I mean seriously, truly awful.  I'm not sure if this was because they were scraps that I quickly navajo-plied to empty a bobbin - I'm sure some of them were - but even the two-ply stuff was pretty naff.  Some of it was actually quite rope-like.  I didn't enjoy crocheting with it AT ALL.  This got me thinking about all the stuff I'd made out of my handspun and given away to my beloved friends and family.  And dude, I am so sorry!  I apologise for the horrendousness that I have bestowed upon you with pride, thinking that it was something truly wonderful that I had made for you out of love.  I will not be offended if you feel the need to burn it, trash it, or otherwise dispose of it (if you haven't already).  All will be forgiven and let us never speak of it again.

I will finish the fibre I am currently spinning - some cormo fleece which is puffy and cloud-like:

The yarn is quite nice too (I checked, believe me!)  Once this is done, I will be selling my spinning wheel and remaining fibre.  This could be some time away, since I still have quite a bit of the cormo left to spin and I'm not in any particular hurry.  I may be persuaded to finish it a little quicker with the idea that I can buy a Garmin FR220 with the proceeds...

I much prefer the finished look of commercial yarn, and not spinning will give me more time to knit ;)  The latest FO was a pair of slippers for my mum - the pattern link had been doing the rounds on Facebook and of course people were putting in requests to their knitter peeps.  Me, being the awesome daughter that I am, obliged:

It certainly made coming up with a Mother's Day gift a lot easier!  These are Little Red Riding Slippers, knit in Panda Jumbo yarn.  Mum has little feet, so I got away with knitting the smallest size.  I'm going to be honest and say I didn't enjoy knitting these much.  Although they were a relatively quick knit due to the chunkiness of the yarn and the large needle size, they were fiddly to finish (and mum, I apologise if they don't hold together all that well).  Or maybe I just got lazy.  Who could say?  Moving on...

I went for a long-ish trail run last Monday.  Since I was by myself, I was restricted to using the Okura Bush Walkway - a single trail, well-used, with no deviations, therefore no chance of getting lost.  I didn't want to get my feet wet so decided not to run along the beach where I'd have to cross over inland streams, and just stuck to the main section.  This meant I had to run 2.5 out-and-backs, and I passed a group of ladies four times.  They probably thought I was a complete loony...

Pretty poison

So many stairs

The beach I didn't run on

More pretty poison

Surprisingly, not poisonous.  But ew...

The slip that's been there for, like, ever...

Um, yeah.  Rocks.

Most people need to duck under this.  I scrape under because I'm short.  There are advantages.

I love this huge kauri tree.

Just a little bit over the stairs now...

I was aiming for 18km but miscalculated the turnaround point on the last out-and-back and ended up running 17.6km.  Close enough.  Haven't run any more since, because I've been working on the final assignments for my two current papers.  Lazy.  Raining.  Procrastinating.  Blah blah.  Only two and a half weeks until the Double Rainbow.  Better get on with it...

Enjoy your week!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Blink and you miss it...

Wow, has it actually been a month since I last posted?  Y'all are probably wondering if I'd dropped off the face of the planet!  Or maybe all that beer I drank at the Film Festival really did do me in on the next day's 34km run.  Nah, sorry.  I'm still here ;)

Quick recap for you then:

Reel Wild Film Festival
This film festival was da bomb!  Loved all the documentaries, particularly the one about the Barkley Marathons, and Anton Krupicka (dude is scary, but in a good way).  We drank all the beer.  Seriously.  They ran out.  Looking forward to the next one!

The Hillary 34km Re-run - aka Kill Hill 2: The Revenge
Our pace was sedate, it was a beautiful day, and despite an enormous horde of tourists on the Te Henga track that we had to work really hard to get past, we made it in under seven hours.  A leisurely lunch break, plenty of stops along the way, photos, and an unusual little incident where a German tourist gave me a slap on the butt as I ran past, made for an interesting day out.  Our friend exacted his revenge on the 34km Piha to Muriwai section of The Hillary as planned, we got another runner hooked on trail running - mud, bush-bashing, amazing scenery and surroundings, fabulous company, what's not to love? - all in all a bloody good day.

Going well.  I celebrated a 98% result on an assignment the other night with a little too much wine which resulted in a slow, quiet recovery day the next day.  Oops.  Only two more assignments left for this trimester, and two more papers this year.  Then, the last two papers next year and I will have an undergraduate degree.  Graduation in 2017.  Hell yeah.

Awesome.  They've finally turned me over to the dark side - I have my own Steam account, and have been playing online games with them.  I suck at it, but that's not the important thing.  The important thing is that I am spending time with them, doing the things that they love to do.  We've also started playing card games, doing jigsaw puzzles, playing board games, and I think I may have won T over to mum-read Harry Potter.  X always liked my attempts at different voices, and liked to laugh at the occasional reading error.  Now T does too :)

Not 100%, but better than it was.  I've started training for the Queenstown Marathon by beginning a half marathon training plan, which will build up to a full marathon training plan.  I've allowed for a one week break between the two plans, and it will take me up to race date.  I'm trying to get Deane to follow the same plan, but he's having trouble fitting it in at this stage.  I'm pretty sure he'll be walking 90% of the marathon.  Having said that, a finish is a finish, and 42km is nothing to sniff at.  I'll still be impressed ;)

My current problem is shoes - the shoes I bought last (Mizuno Wave Rider 18s) are not right for me.  They're supposed to be a neutral shoe, but they're really not.  They make my feet roll out, which is causing medial knee pain in my left knee on longer runs.  That's making it hard to get out for scheduled runs and not over-do it.  I need to replace the shoes with something else, but can't really afford it.  Plus, I'll be left with near-new shoes that are not much use to me.  What to do?

Also, I still have the small matter of a 26km Double Rainbow top-three finish attempt to think about and train for.  Should probably be a little more enthusiastic about it...

So that is what's going on in the world of kreachr - you didn't miss much ;)  My Mother's Day was pretty awesome - I got breakfast in bed, a hand-drawn card (which was hilarious - my kids are a riot), we went to Cornwall Park for a picnic lunch then watched a show at the Stardome, went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 2 (my current movie obsession - I've watched Pitch Perfect four times in two weeks!  I think I'm done now), then came home to have dinner and put the boys to bed.  Lovely.

I hope you had a good weekend!  See you again soon, I promise :)