Tuesday, November 27, 2007

1.8 degrees F, wind gusts up to 24 mph, sunny, 1'' of snow

Those were the conditions that greeted me for my run this morning!

I decided that it would be a long winter if I couldn't face these conditions in November, so bundled up and headed out onto the trail for a short run - 5k on the Piedmont Ski trails in Duluth. Just enough snow to cover the ice and provide good traction without being so deep that you slide back a half step for every step you take.

The nice thing about trail running is, even though there are no leaves on the trees, they do provide some protection from the wind. I really enjoyed the sunshine! Working indoors makes me crave sunlight - especially during the darkest time of the year.

What does one wear to run when the windchill is -16F? I am a big fan of Sporthill and their 3SP products. So, from the bottom up:
Smartwool socks; Saucony running shoes; Sporthill tights (3SP); InSport long, winter weight running bra; Sporthill 3SP (infuzion) top; Sporthill fleece vest; windshirt from Whistlestop half; polypropeline liner gloves; silky wool hand-knit mittens; neck gaiter; fleece hat (found on the trail years ago - has nylon on the ear flaps and around the base); sunglasses.

If it had been much colder I would have added: wind pants (again Sporthill brand) and Warmskin (a lotion that protects the skin from windburn and adds a layer of warmth). A lot colder and I would have added a fleece sweater and pulled the neck gaiter up.

I love the windshirt they gave out at the Whistlestop this year. It is very windproof, nice "hand", has two pockets, reflective band on the collar. It is a very bright, tomatoey red which is not my favorite color, but on the other hand I will never be mistaken for a deer while wearing it :-> One annoying thing about it is that the sleeves are very, very long. Like 4 inches too long. This is annoying most days, but today it was a bonus feature. Kept my hands nice and cozy.

Did I mention I have Raynauds?? Yeah, makes exercising in northern Minnesota an interesting adventure. Dressing in the right layers is always a balancing act for runners. How many layers are needed so that you are comfortable but do not overheat? This is complicated with Raynauds because I have found that almost the only way to prevent the loss of sensation is to keep my core warm. Equals extra layers and the potential of over heating. Not today though!

Knitterly news: I am almost done with the first mitten (see previous post). A few more decreases at the top, pick up and knit the thumb and one mitten done. Then it is on to replicating it and refining the pattern. Pictures to follow sometime soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Work in progress

What I have been working on for the past few weeks is hats for the Mitten Tree at work. This is an example of what has been rolling off the needles:

Well-aged Lopi, basic hat pattern.

After many hats and lots of time with size 10 needles it was time for a switch. From deep within the stash I unburied some well-aged yarn. The salmony-pink (my camera does not do the colors justice) is Reynolds Candide. The grey is Condon's yarn from Charlottetown, P.E.I.

I am working up a mitten pattern - a work in progress at this point. So far I have the gauntlet somewhat sorted out in my head and on paper. I wanted to incorporate a celtic-style braid pattern I had floating around.

Again, my camera is not doing the colors justice (nor is the lighting in the livingroom late at night).

I had most of the pattern knit up while listening to a local performer (Rachael Kilgour) down at the Amazing Grace and then I realized I had switched the colors in the pattern and was no longer knitting it correctly. Nothing like ripping out 7 rows of two-color knitting in dim light! Waited until I got home to pick those stitches back up. But... see if you can spot my error (if it is shown in this picture).

My goal is to keep an accurate record of what I did with this mitten so that I can:
1. Make a second one that resembles the first;
2. Share the pattern with others (or just duplicate it myself) if the need arises.

Got out for a five mile run this morning. Luckily the wind saved the worst it had for us today to a bit later, though it did give me quite the push up one hill! The temp was in the upper 20's to low 30's this morning. A far cry from the low-to-mid teens on Thanskgiving Day when I ran. This was my longest run since the half over a month ago. Felt good to get out there and run for 45 minutes. I had started to miss the longer runs and have not been able to fit them in around work (too dark, too much going on). From here on out - or at least until April - every Saturday morning I can plan on getting 5 miles in, plus having a nice chat with some friends and getting some "oats with bugs"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas City of the North Parade

Only in Duluth could this become a long standing tradition. There is a video at from last years parade.

In years past (read "when the girls were much younger"), we would bundle up and head to downtown Duluth at about 5:00 pm to stake out our spot for the parade. Inevitably, after finding just the right spot on the curb to sit, by the time the parade came by the girls view (and mine - lets be honest I am short afterall) would be blocked by some less than considerate adults that had stepped in front of us. Nothing like having to tell some grown-up (often two sheets to the wind) to please let the kids see.

The parade typically starts at 6:30 pm - down at the DECC. Meaning, the first float, marching band, lead car would appear at our location around 7:00 pm (it is a mile plus parade route). BRRRRRRR!!! Often it was snowing. Often we were sitting on snow drifts. It has only been in the past few years that it has been "warm" for the parade. The highlight was when the hot air balloon company would go by and fire off the flame used when filling a balloon. Instantly heating the air for a half block around!

Sarah and Gilah continue to go to the parade every year, but I have bowed out for the past two - three years. I am not a fan of standing around in the cold doing nothing more than watching other's go by. The girls have other people (=friends) that they would rather go with. Perfect solution.

Knitting Update:

I have been working up a few hats in the mystery sourced Lopi. I have to say it is a nice change of pace to knit up an object in an evening. Most of my knitting is done on such small needles that it takes weeks rather than hours to finish them.

I am once again contemplating blocking (finally) Icarus. It has been finished for over a year now and I just have not gotten around to finding the space to lay it out. I was inspired to consider it again when I realized how fast the lace scarf dried. I just need enough space to lay it out for a few hours or so. Part of what holds me back is the effort it will take to pin it out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday night this and that.

Thought I would post some pictures of recent (broad definition of recent) knitting.

My nephew Zander in his Baby Surprise sweater. Apparently he did wear it once while it really fit him, but threw up on it before my sister got a photo. So, she got him into it, for possibly the last time so that I could get a picture!

The scarf I knit for the Peace UCC (Duluth) Silent Auction and Artist Cabaret (fundraiser for a building project). It is the Ploughed Lace pattern I have knit before in a brown, angora blend lace weight yarn. I modified the pattern a bit in order to control the rolling edges and knit it up in a fingering weight yarn that was given to me years ago and never seems to run out - it's like a miracle! I have a triagular shawl, hat, mittens, and who knows what else knit from it and yet I still have more on hand! The scarf is approximately 7 inches wide by 6 feet long.

Happy Birthday Porter!!! (this picture is from two years ago). He is now nine years old and has been slowing down. Porter is very, very happy with the cooler weather and really seemed to like the shady, icey, snowy trail we walked this morning with a friend and her two german shorthairs. He was not so thrilled with the temperatures when we ran this afternoon. It had warmed up to the upper 40's (50 at the top of the hill) and he was noticably slower and looked a bit heat stressed by the end. Luckily there is now a lot of water available along the trail.

We have had snow two days in a row. Enough accumulation that we had to brush the cars off, and to cause people to run off the roads. It is amazing how folks who live in a northern climate always seemed to be shocked by the first snowfall!

Skijoring (cross county skiing while being pulled by a dog). One reason I am excited to see snow! Last year we really did not get any snow, well, not until March and April, and then it melted pretty quickly. My skis never saw snow last year. Porter never had to don his harness and run any trails. I missed it!! I am hoping that he has another season or two in him, but if the winters stay mild I may never find out.

OTN: hats for the Mitten Tree at work made from some Lopi that appeared in my stash (not sure where it came from to be honest - gift from a friend? Originally meant for slippers?). Go to: to learn more about the Mitten Tree Project. Both of our sites have baskets full of yarn and fleece for people to take as well as a file folder of patterns. We also have two projects available for people to work on while they wait.

Reading: After a blitz of Patricia Cornwall I am taking a break and rereading The Lord of the Rings. I can't even count the number of times I have read the series, but it seemed like a nice fit and the library wasn't open when I ran out of reading material. Speaking of which, the City of Duluth announced that due to staffing issues the libraries will be closed one extra day a week. Aaagh! It is hard enough to get to the library if you work, now it will only be harder. I remember the "good ol' days" when the library was open 4 nights a week. Now it is only open two evenings a week, closed on Saturdays in the summer, and now closed an extra day a week (the day depends on which of the three locations you are trying to get to).

Enjoy the nice weather tomorrow! I have the day off and plan on spending a fair portion of it outdoors while the sun and warmish temps last.