Almost There

We are barely a week out from the wedding and I have FINALLY finished almost all of the wedding crafting.  Yay!  But, as you know, I can't show you anything.

Oh look! Knitting needles!

What I can show you is the progress I am not making with my packing because oh yeah, we sign out lease tomorrow.

With these photos my dirty little secret is probably out.  I finally made an Instagram account (tharensolo).  I've resisted forever because I don't want to be that hipster.  I already dress like a hipster.  If I start posting predictably ironic filtered photos, I'm just going to lose any leg I had to stand on.  I joined for an "ironic" coffee photo, but I now might actually be a fan.

Anyway, we should be back in business tomorrow, just in time for the Ravellenics!  Stay tuned . . .


Reset Run

Wow.  Has it really been an entire week since my last post?  Well, I promise I have a really good excuse.  See, I'm getting married in less than two weeks!  And I still have so much left to do, including a lot of secret crafting.  And since the nature of secret crafting is that it is secret it makes for some really boring blog posts.

As you might imagine, as the wedding draws nearer I become more and more stressed.  I'm not sleeping well if at all, I've got the jitters more than you could possibly imagine, and I just can't seem to keep my emotions under control.  I really am excited to be getting married and to have many of our close friends and family be with us for the occasion.  I am thrilled with how everything is turning out, even if a lot of it is much more last minute than I would hope.  But for some reason I end up irrationally upset with no clear cause.  It needed to stop, or at least slow down a bit.

Recently I have been reading Mile Markers, Kristin Armstrong's published collection of her blog posts over at Runner's World.  In it she talks often about the concept of a "reset run".  A run that helps her to transition from mother to woman when her kids leave to spend time with their father.  Along with blogging, I stopped running over the past week because I had just too much to do.  On Thursday I decided that I'd finally had enough.  I skipped my zumba class and waited out a thunderstorm to go on a late evening run.

As I pushed myself to go the rather paltry distance I felt the worry and stress start to slip away.  Steep inclines and fast straightaways forced me to take my concentration off of everything and focus on breathing, on pushing myself just a little bit more. And then I started to notice things outside of myself.  The route I run follows a creek behind a neighborhood, now swollen because of the rain.  The sound of the water had changed as it gushed over rocks rather than sliding around them.  Several rabbits came down to join me at various points.  Showing no fear and shying away only when I got too close.  I met a sweet older gentleman and his doggy friend Meghan, who was so enthusiastic that I stopped for a few scratches behind the ears.

It started raining again as  I came back, but I welcomed the moisture, rather than muttering grouchily about wet shoes and potential headphone damage.  I was just plain better.  My room may still be a chaotic mess of boxes anticipating our new home, my to-do list may be a mile long, and my thank you notes may be woefully neglected.  But I came back a better version of myself.  I left a week's worth of stress and anxiety out on the pavement and came home raw and sore, open to receiving and enjoying this new experience.   It is something worth remembering next time the idea of music selection threatens to cause a nervous breakdown.  When the crafting just is not relaxing any more it is time to lace up my shoes and reset myself.


FO: Bitchin' Socks

Two FO Fridays in a row!  Do not expect to see this kind of productivity from me again for quite some time.  This week I finished my Bitchin' Socks, also known as the Georgia On My Mind pattern by Leslie Thompson.  But I knew before I even wound the yarn that these would be my Bitchin' Socks.

This is the first pair of socks that I have knit since the tragic loss of my Nutkins last month, and so I desperately needed them to be a success.  And boy do these socks not disappoint.  The yarn is Gnome Acres' Molly Weasley in her superwash merino/nylon base.  It is sturdy, vibrant, and makes for excellent stitch definition.

This stitch panel may be the reason I now am obsessed with all of Gnome Acres colorways.

Leslie's pattern was a dream to knit.  I made them a tad shorter than called for with the intention of hitting my perfect inch-over-ankle cuff that I love for work, but I decided to try the Eye of Partridge heel rather than my standard short-row.  This resulted in a taller sock for reasons that were obvious after I finished the first heel.

If it was not for the fact that I absolutely hate knitting the gusset I would probably sub in this heel construction more often.  The look of the bright colors in this stitch pattern made me super happy.  I would find myself stopping after a few rows just to look at the way the verigation was working up.

Sadly it has been far too hot here for wool socks.  Normally I wear them despite the heat, but with our average temperature up over 100 before you account for the humidity even I am opting for shoes sans socks.  I'm really looking forward to trying these out as soon as I can.  I just got a new work shirt that is bright orange and would match them perfectly.

For more FOs, please go check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Body Language

Because of all of the wedding crazy around here, I have not been geeking out about much aside from secret crafting (what could I possibly be doing with that modgepodge), and vague references to secret projects just would not be fun for anyone.  So instead I thought I would talk about a new Etsy discovery I made thanks to designer Alex Tinsley's blog posts about mineral eye shadow.

When I found Body Language, I was just interested in looking at different eye shadows because I love the names that independent producers give their product lines.  But what hooked me was the different skin care products.  I decided to give the Soothing Lavender dry facial mask a go because I have super sensitive skin and thought a vegan-friendly shop might have something that would be less abrasive.  They also happened to be running a sale in the shop, so I grabbed the small tin and a lip balm (because you can never have too many) for a very good price.

Monday I received my second, much larger order.  I am completely hooked.  These are my new favorite lip balms and I already want everything in the Sandalwood Rose scent.  Even with the shipping, I have found that I am not paying any more than I would at the drug store for a more generic, highly-processed option.  Even for someone as used to a constricted budget as I have, this is a real deal.

The other thing that I love about this shop is the samples that Lindsey includes in the box.  I get to try out mineral eye shadow or a fun gloss without the investment of the whole container.  The idea of "one for you, one for a friend" business cards is also a great extra.

As a knitter, I love to be able to buy yarn from an individual, and am willing to pay a little extra for something that supports an artisan and their family, rather than a corporation.  I still buy a lot of things because they are the cheapest option, rather than the most eco-friendly -- it's just the way my personal economy works and I work hard to change that where I can.  But for life's little luxuries, like lip balm or hand-dyed yarn, I am quite happy to pay for the quality I have found in these individual shops.


Socks of Crazy

I know that I said I did not have time for any more crafting and I have barely had time to work on anything during my lunch breaks, but I did get sucked in to the Knitting in Circles/Knitabulls July KAL.  But seriously, with my newly discovered obsession with Gnome Acres yarn, how could I not?  I bought Froggy Monkey as an impulse buy on my phone (I can now Etsy from my phone.  This has proven quite dangerous) and felt that I must cast on something or else suffer the guilt that I prevented someone who really wanted it from participating.

I am knitting Socks on a Plane, which is a free Laura Linneman pattern (I may be slightly obsessed with her stuff as well).  It is very basic knitting with just a bit of interest in the wee cable moving along the side.  If nothing else, I think it would make excellent travel knitting for the honeymoon, which I should really start thinking about because I don't know where we are going and we'll be gone for a week and what should I pack to knit and will I want to knit where we go and . . . Sorry.  I'm back.  Where was I?

I love the way that the colorway is knitting up.  My foot size and gauge is just right that the green sections move together while the orange and aqua stripe with each other.  Usually such pooling bothers me, but I like this riot of color.  Sadly this will probably be as far as I get as the wedding draws ever closer and my to-do list ever longer.

But don't despair.  There are plenty more positive and productive WIPs over at Tami's Amis!


Domestic with Cucumbers

Recently I have begun trying to have what I call a "domestic day" every week.  Generally this falls on Monday because it is my day off and I am the only one home during the day.  On Domestic Day I clean, do laundry, work on secret wedding crafting, and continue my quest to become a better cook. Yesterday was this week's Domestic Day and I pulled out my copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook that my mother gave to me as a wedding present last month.  Because it has been so dreadfully hot I decided to try a chilled soup.

The Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup was actually one of the least time-consuming recipes I have tried in a while.  I made the Arabian Squash Casserole two weeks ago and it took me all afternoon.  But the longest amount of time for this one was spent grating the cucumber.  Have you ever grated cucumbers before?  It takes forever!  And it's a messy job because all of the water in the cucumber sprays everywhere.

I also really liked this recipe because it used all ingredients I already had in the apartment, aside from the cucumbers.  I was unable to garnish it with fresh mint like the directions say because I'm not that fancy yet, but I did add in the optional honey to make it a little sweeter.

The verdict?  For a girl who is on the fence about cucumbers I really enjoyed it.  It's a little stringy, but that is to be expected.  Andrea had some as well and called it a "sweeter version of a cucumber sandwich," which I would say is a pretty accurate description.  And because it is a chilled soup, all I have to do is throw some in a bowl to take for a healthy work lunch.  Fast and easy leftovers -- my kind of meal.


What a Feeling

When I was in high school one of my dreams was to be in an 80s dance movie.  Like in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or Footloose I would be the small town girl who suddenly broke out with spectacular moves and mad gymnastic skills.  Sadly I was the only one who thought the 80s would ever come back and so I eventually gave up my leg warmers and oversized tops when it became clear that they were not acceptable work attire.  Oh, if only those doubters could have seen me today.

What you can't see are my super stripey leg warmers and the tiny pigtails held back by three neon headbands.  Today was our zumba 80s party at my local YMCA.  The class was packed to the walls with women and men shaking it to "Push It" and "Material Girl", doing squats to "I Love Rock and Roll", and shouting the words to "Wannabe" (we delved into the 90s for a bit).  It was a blast.

I don't talk a lot on here about my exercise routine.  Possibly because it is not really a routine and also because I don't feel like my personal image issues are something everyone should care about.  I'm just another twenty-something how would like to be a good ten or twenty pounds lighter.  But I do have to say that the community aspect of these classes has really helped.  Not only am I working out different muscle groups than on my solo runs, but I'm actually interacting with other people.  I'm looking at myself in a mirror and I'm tapping in to my inner diva.  I may not look different after the past few months, but I feel different.  I'm gaining a confidence that I never had as the gawky awkward teenager, and I'm getting out of my own brain for an hour a few times a week.

And if it means I get to bounce around to "Bust a Move", well that's just the cherry on top.


FO: Trillian

There comes a time in a knitter's life when she finally finishes that lingering movie theater project.  That project that is always at the perfect "pick up and go" section.  That project that won't let you down because it will never, ever, end.  Sadly, that time came last week when I finished my Trillian, which had been my movie theater project since November.  It was a good little shawl, portable, easy to understand in the dark, and full of garter with just a tiny bit of interest at the edges.  It only acted up once, but that was during Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and who really can stay completely calm during that film.

I find it fascinating the number of movies that I watched while knitting this shawl.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (twice)
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Star Wars: Episode One 3D
Beauty and the Beast 3D
The Hunger Games
The Avengers
The Five Year Engagement
Magic Mike

Forget the fact that I actually watched this many movies, in theaters, this actually adds up to not that many hours spent knitting.  I wonder how fast I would finish my knitting if I only focused on one thing at a time.  But that would probably take all of the fun out of it.

Sorry, no modeled photos this time.  The Trillian pattern itself is quite lovely.  The edging surprised me and was pretty ingenious. I knit this one in Miss Babs Yummy Superwash 2ply in Iris that I purchased at SAFF back in October.  I love the stitch definition and the way the colors look like they are moving through the garter stitch.  It reminds me a bit of a book about Monet that my sister had when we were little.  There was a detailed passage about the water lily paintings and some of the darker ones had similar tones.  I have not yet knit a Hitchiker, but I have some plans to repurpose another skein of Miss Babs for this purpose.  It seems to be the logical progression of the psychosis.  Maybe it will lead me to actually read the book that inspired it all.

For more FOs and maybe even another finished Trillian, check out Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Spider-Man

Today's post was supposed to be a rave review of The Amazing Spider-Man, but thanks to very patriotic individuals who shot of fireworks well past midnight, my enthusiasm for anything but my coffee is lagging a bit.  So here's what I thought in one sentence or less:

Go see Spider-Man!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  I was obsessed with the earlier movies in high school and this just blows it out of the water.  Half the movie I was just sitting there with my stripey sock in my hand, staring open-mouthed at the screen.  Go see Spider-Man.  I, for one, was not disappointed.

That hair?  In IMAX 3D?  May have something to do with that.


Maintaining Good Vibrations

As we get closer to the wedding my brain is finding it harder and harder to focus.  At the same time, since the completion of the Umbre Lovre I am dying to do more colorwork.  This has made for some interesting knitting day dreams as I flip through Knitscene Accessories and think about all of the mitt patterns I could knit up with some leftovers.  But I have never done entrelac and I have no desire to suddenly take up intarsia when there are many more things I absolutely must get done.  So two nights ago, in a desperate attempt to avoid a cast on frenzy of doom I turned to my secret weapon.  The yarn I saved for just this occasion that I tried so hard to forget until it was absolutely necessary.  I was hoping I would make it further into July, but I just could not hold out any longer.

Today after I discussed yet more wedding details with Mom I went with friends to our local Menchies for their 4th of July special.  And I did not pick at my nails once.  Last night we went to see Spider-Man and I suffered no panic attacks because something made me think of something that is related to another something that I absolutely must get done.  And it is all thanks to this special, some would argue magical, yarn.  This is my first ever pair of self-striping socks, knit in Lollipop Yarn in the Good Vibrations colorway.  I fell down months ago and came back with an Etsy-stalking headache and this squishy little thing.  I had my typical yarn-buying guilt and put it away to save for the "right time."

Now I know what my subconscious knew then.  I am a crazy person on a normal day and there is no way I will survive the next month if I don't have something simple that is bright and shiny enough to hold my interest.  I just hope that I can find a way to get more because I'm not sure how long I will be able to make these last.

I hope that everyone in the US is enjoying their 4th of July.  It is my first paid administrative holiday ever and I was almost in a parade when I went on my run this morning.  If I can make it to fireworks tonight it will be the best Fourth ever.  To everyone else, happy Wednesday.  Please head over to Tami's Amis to read even more WIP posts and show your support for the woman who has brought us to 100 weeks of Work-In-Progress Wednesday!


More Holla Swatching

Thank you to everyone who left such kind comments about my Umbre Lovre.  I have not had an occasion to actually wear it out yet, but it is sitting in the closet anxiously awaiting its turn about the town.

Now that I have that off the needles, it is time to turn to the other sweater I have planned for this summer, also from Holla Knits -- the Holla Back Tank by Emma Welford.

I am using Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Bordeaux, which knit up beautifully in the swatch.  I once again ran into the problem of falling between sizes, but my stitch gauge on the recommended needles was a little small, so I am hoping to achieve the preferred amount of ease on the size 36.  I'm excited to see how it turns out as I have not knit a seamed garment in a long time.  Hopefully my skills have progressed enough to avoid some of my early sweater failures.

I was planning to have this to wear for the honeymoon as well, but now it is starting to look like it will be something I actually knit on the honeymoon as I keep adding more and more secret wedding crafting to my plate.  Hopefully someone will stop me soon.  It is becoming insane!

Side note -- everytime I read Holla Back Tank I think of this (starts at 1:50)

Hep Alien is the greatest.