Xylaria species

Xylaria species

Friday, January 30, 2009

What passes for entertainment

Ribbed Hat - completed:






Hartley Hat - just started:





180 sts. Mid-process in a Latvian Braid. For the uninitiated that is a technique which results in the two yarns wrapping themselves ever more tightly around each other as you progress; gets a bit tricky about halfway through the round. Then, on the next round the yarn progressively untwists itself. The result is a very cool looking braid. The whole process takes three rounds. On the first round you knit, alternating the two colors (easy to do - one yarn in each hand, no twisting). The second and third rounds involve purling (which I have not mastered with two colors in two hands - this means a lot of dropping and picking up of yarns), with the alternate colors being brought over (and on the third round, under) each other - hence the twisting and untwisting of yarn.

I did this twice, in order to have a two braid edge to this hat (maybe next time I should reverse the order of over and under and see if the braid 'heads' in the other direction...). Figuring my gauge is going to be somewhere in the 9 sts to the inch range (I hope, or will be looking for someone with an even smaller head than mine!)

Will (hopefully) post pictures of the hat in progress as well as on completion. Any guesses for how long that will take?

Running is going pretty well. A little bit of lateral knee soreness the past couple of days. Combined with the shins being a bit touchy I am wondering about all the time I am spending running on roads and downhill. Thursday's are still 'running to work' days; and that may be the problem. The first mile plus involves a fair amount of downhill running (at one point about 4 or so blocks straight). May need to explore the old route through the woods and fields and see if it is runnable to spare the legs. Total mileage for the week (don't laugh!):17. Yup - the reality is that I am a low mileage runner. For example, lets look at what a typical week of running is like:

Monday: 0 miles
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 5.2 miles
Thursday: 2.7 miles
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 6 - 7 miles
Edited:
Sunday: 1.5 to 3 hours of soccer (aka speedwork)

Granted, right now I am in that stage of my training plan where I just want to get consistent about running. Soon the long runs will get longer and I will be looking for rides out east or west so I can run the whole time with the wind at my back. But still, my high mileage months look like other runners weeks ;->

Loving all the sunshine we have been having, though longing for a bit of a warmup and for the winds to die down. I know, live in the wrong place for that - but a girl can hope!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Too much....

Ever feel like taking a vacation from your life?

Work has been very stressful. We have been short-staffed for over a month and even with everyone pitching in and doing their best, things are getting left undone. Today I totaled up my "overtime" (no such thing as I am salaried, just supposed to compensate at some point). I am up to 174 minutes - of the time I have been tracking. And yet I have a lot of "my" work still to do. On a positive note: I have gained an even deeper appreciation for what CMA's do! They rock and I am at best a remedial student of their ways with scheduling and tracking down results and records. I bow to their abilities to get it all done!

To top it all off life at home has had it's own unique stressors (enjoy your kids while they are young - the late teens/early adult years.... yowzer - are they tough times to parent!)

My refuge of late: running,knitting (when I can find the time for that) and reading (if I can stay awake long enough).

Got in a nice trail run Monday before donating blood. Then a day off (from running at least). Wednesday is the usual group run - this time with temperatures in the mid to upper 20's (hardly knew how to dress). Almost didn't make it there because of work - but managed to get out the door and to Canal Park without making the group wait too long. Thursday's are for running to work ;-> Vitally important this week as the stress builds!

Will take Friday off (may get a ski in with a friend) then Saturday is the "long" run. My schedule says 5-6 miles, but since I did 7 last week I may stick with that. Temps are supposed to plummet in the next day, making it another cold one, but if I run the same route I should at least have the wind at my back on the way home.

Sunday's are for skiing and soccer. Start the day with a 4k classical ski at a local trail, then in the afternoon it is indoor soccer. Last week (18th) was the first game of the season. So, what did I do - played two back-to-back. Yup - just about crippled the next day ;-> Had a heck of a bruise from getting hit with the ball (can still see it), prompting a run to the co-op for more arnica gel. This past Sunday I only played one game, but managed to take a ball to the face and get taken down, landing on my chest, left arm and apparently my left shoulder - hard. Bounced right back up, but had more than a few players asking if I was really okay. Felt fine at the time, but have since discovered that I must have hit harder than I thought. Left shoulder by Tuesday was really bugging me and had limited range of motion. Better now, but not back to normal.

Sauna Sunday night did a lot to relax the muscles and the mind. Got to remember to fire the sauna up more often (and a great way to dispose of items that need shredding ;-> )

On the knitting front: Another pair of rather large socks are done and gifted. Took one whole skein of Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox (60% superwash wool, 25% bamboo, 15% nylon) plus a little from a second skein (one skein is supposed to make a pair of socks). What to do with the almost full skein? Why a hat of course! Cast on for a ribbed hat (nice, soothing 2x2 ribbing). Once that is done I may be ready to tackle some color knitting in way of a Hartley Hat in fingering weight wool.

Reading: Dana Stabenow - couple of her thrillers. Preceded that with some Anne Lamott. On order: a new (to me) Connie Willis.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playtime at Wildknits

It has been years since we have had a sledding fest here at the Wildknits home. Family came for a visit and we headed out to enjoy the sunshine, warm temps (relatively) and abundance of snow.

Our yard has a 'significant' slope. Takes 26 steps to get up to the front yard proper, then 20+ feet of sloped sidewalk followed by another 10 steps to get to the front door. The rest of the yard is another 100 feet or so uphill. We are bordered by an unbuilt road - otherwise known as the sledding hill. Total length... good question, depends on where you start your run ;-> For the most part we stayed near the yard, starting above at the neighbors and heading downhill a hundred feet or so to roll out before going into the road. Not too many obstacles to avoid - other than the pesky street sign at the bottom. There is a point about midway down the hill where you really pick up speed! After a few runs your choice was to "hockey stop" your sled or wind up going over the snow ridge into the road and across to the other side (and possibly over that ridge and into the woods). Not for the faint of heart! Also requires an adult posted at the bottom to watch for cars when kids are on the hill.


Looking up towards the top of the hill from 2/3rds of the way down.


My awesome steering technique as I whiz past family members.

Much fun was had by all - even the timid four year old. She then requested we hike to the "creek". This involved another couple hundred foot climb through knee deep snow till we reached the Superior Hiking Trail. From there it was easy sailing on a packed trail to the creek. On the way up we talked a little bit about Porter. The last time we made this hike together Porter and my niece were inseparable. She was pretty matter of fact about him being dead, though did comment that he is with God. ;->



Running:
Got in a 7 mile run yesterday morning in an inch of fresh snow, then home to shovel all those steps and sidewalks, then some "hill repeats" while sledding ;-> Overall a good workout for the day. Only one soccer game today so should be in good shape for a run tomorrow (unlike last week when 3 hours of soccer just about crippled me for two days). Looking forward to a day off of work and time to enjoy daylight and relax a bit before the work week gets going.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursdays ARE for running to work

Left my house around 7:45 am. Air temp: -18 F; winds 12+ mph out of the northwest; windchill around -42F or so.

Distance: somewhere in the two mile + range (I kept hitting dead end streets in the maze that is Lincoln Park/West End).

Sunrise over the lake: worth it

I was toasty warm the whole way thanks to the hundreds of dollars of warm running clothes I have accumulated over the years (birthday and christmas gifts mostly). Once again I proclaim my love of Sporthill 3SP products. I wore the same layers as yesterday, kept the balaclava pulled over my face (ran into the wind most of the way which makes me wonder about the north; report from the lake said SW winds), and did not shed any layers. Had quite the frost buildup around the opening of balaclava and on my eyelashes by the time I got to work.

I commented to co-workers that I was actually warmer on my run than I am when driving to work ;->

Even managed to run trails for a short while before returning to the roads! The weirdest part of the commute was how so much of the run was uphill. I live near the top of the hill and work at the bottom. And yet, in the first mile I was descending and climbing quite often. Partially this was due to the multiple dead ends I hit and the need to find a new route/retrace my steps. But it is also due to the nature of traversing a hillside.

I run with a pack so I can carry a few important supplies: keys for work, date book, lightweight coat (liner from winter jacket), knitting (for trip home), cell phone (just in case - packed in a spare pair of mittens for insulation), and thermos of coffee (gotta have that second cup).

I try to stockpile food and a change of inner layers at work and always leave plenty of scrubs there so I can change on arrival (besides, scrubs are paper thin and terrible to wear outside in the winter).

Due to the cold and school being canceled I had the roads almost entirely to myself, even when I hit the main thoroughfare. It was nice to run in daylight, been a while since I have done that.

In the past few days I have run across quite a few pictures of Porter when he was quite young. So cute, and so little!


Hard to believe he was ever so small after so many years with him as a 100 lb dog. Still have his ashes here, waiting for the right time to distribute them.

Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Running in Northern Minnesota

Made it outdoors for a run tonight. Air temperature was somewhere between -4 to -8 degrees (depends on who's stats you take, the official NWS reading is over the hill and usually colder than by the lake, at least in the winter ;->). Winds were W 8 mph or NW up to 21 mph, again depending on who's stats you use.

Either way, it was a bit chilly out there, especially on the way back when we were running into the wind (funny how you don't notice the wind when it is at your back).

I was a bit overdressed it turned out, but on the upside my hands and feet were essentially warm for the whole run. Usually I deal with numb fingers and thumbs for the first 10 - 15 minutes (Raynauds).

So, what do you wear when running in subzero weather? I had on (from the inside out and top down):

Base layer - warmskin (lotion to face and hands); balaclava; long, winter weight running bra; Sporthill 3SP top; running tights; Darn Tough winter socks; polypro liner gloves

Middle layer - Sporthill running pants; Sugoi hoodie (wore the hood); long-sleeved fleece; wool/silk mittens; wool/alpaca hat

Outer layer - LL Bean anorak (with hood); Sporthill windpants; wool mittens

Ended up peeling a few layers off during the run: the wool hat, wool mittens and folded up the balaclava. Almost regretted the last one on the way back into the wind.

Five miles as the sun was setting and the stars were coming out. That is the beauty of running in subzero temperatures. The sky is so clear. We got to see a bunch of ducks sitting in a small pool of open water on the Big Lake. And, once you are out the door... well then it's all good.

So.... do I run to work in the morning??? Forecast: Partly cloudy, with a low around -15. Wind chill values as low as -36. Northwest wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

They are already canceling schools up here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Today I wussed out

It was -22F at my house this morning, predicted high of -4 or so. Winds calm, so wind chill was not a factor.[Side note: are you as annoyed as I am by the weather folks reporting the wind chill factor as if it was the true air temperature?] Packed up my bag with all the gear I would need to run in subzero temps with the intention of leaving work at 5:30pm ready to hit the Lakewalk and get a 3 mile run in before my board meeting. So what happened?

Stressful day of work. It was dark. I was tired (see my day at work). It was cold (about -4 F at the time). And I would be running alone. Yup, I wimped out.

Ultimately, when it comes to running in extreme conditions I need company. Tomorrow I will have that, but today.... couldn't get motivated to be out there alone.

I have run plenty of times alone - long runs, in the winter even. But something about the combination of cold and dark did me in.

Not a great way to start my 18 week training plan for the Superior 25K.

I will add that I had played 3 hours of indoor soccer on Sunday and am still a bit sore from that (the bruising is just beginning to show). Speedwork is happening at least ;-> The muscle groups used are quite different than in running and I can feel it, even today. As the 10 week season progresses it should get better and I won't spend Monday's hobbling around work.

On the knitting front:

I am on the second sock of another pair of socks for another large-footed person. This is the week of board meetings - both lasting upwards of 3 - 4 hours. The perfect venue for getting socks knit. Cast on the leg of the sock at Saturday's meeting and made great progress there. Tonight I finished the heel flap, turned the heel, picked up stitches along the heel flap and got through most of the gusset before the meeting was over. If all goes well these will be done in plenty of time for gifting on Saturday.

The other day someone asked me how long it takes to knit a pair of socks. Right now it seems to be working out to 2 weeks. Of course, that all depends on what else I have going on. At one time I timed myself and could finish a pair of socks in 8 hours. Let's just say they were not a men's sz 12!

Have some yarn sitting out, waiting for the socks to be finished. Actually went searching through my stash for this stuff. Thinking about creating a fingering weight version of the "Hartley Hat" (named for the original design knit for a silent auction to benefit the Hartley Nature Center in Duluth). I have knit multiple versions of this hat - it is a fun and easy pattern incorporating Lavtian braids and a 10 row pattern called "Heart Crook", plus a design of my own for the area between the top decreases.

Though, I did come across a picture of a hat that I knit and donated to another silent auction (Superior Hiking Trail Association) and would love to recreate that hat also - it was hard to give away the original.

Plus, speaking of silent auctions... The Superior Hiking Trail Association's Annual Meeting is fast approaching (first weekend in May) and I usually contribute a few items to that (as well as solicit items from folks I know). Then there is the NMTC Runs and their end of series give-away. I really need to get moving on some projects!

Stay warm. Remember (for those in Minnesota): we live in a "cold weather state"; it is supposed to get cold here; temperatures below zero are normal in our latitude; people have survived in weather like this for centuries (and with fewer resources than we have).

Embrace the beauty of a sub-zero day!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday's are not for running to work

So, my plan to run to work Thursday mornings has been derailed. First it was the holidays (both Christmas and New Years Day fell on a Thursday). Then this week I had to get my car up to the dealer and Thursday was the only morning I could coordinate their appointment schedule with my work schedule. Briefly thought about dropping the car off and running to work from the dealer, but that was a bit more time than I was willing to give (I am so not a morning person).

Why did my car need a visit to the dealer? The back windshield wiper fluid nozzle had disappeared. Apparently there is a 'bulletin' out about this happening in "cold weather states". Though they imply owner fault, my dealer said it would be covered under warranty. First car I have ever owned that this has happened to. Maybe a better grade of rubber Honda?

Did wonder what the trails would be like with the 6 inches of snow we got last weekend. Hoping the snowmobilers have been out packing trail across the meadow I traverse on my way to work (nothing like a trail run as the sun rises over Lake Superior).

Ran the snowmobile trail Tuesday and it was a bit soft yet. Definitely a workout, especially on the uphills. My goal is to not have to walk the last big hill on the way back by the end of winter. It doesn't seem like much as you head down it, but there is a gradual, long incline before hitting the steep bit and then it keeps rising for a bit afterwards. No lack of hills in West Duluth ;->

Ran the Lakewalk last night with the usual cast of Wednesday night regulars plus a few new additions (including one guy who just started running this month and ended up doing 5 miles!). Inspirational! The surface was pretty mushy and slow going. Effort felt the same, pace was about a minute slower. The best was the half mile start into the wind. Blowing over 10 mph and providing us all with a natural dermabrasion treatment due to the "moisture" in the air.

Not much else going on around here but work. That and preparing for board meetings (two in the next 5 days) and knitting in my spare time. The nice thing about simpler projects is that a lot of knitting can happen while I catch up on blog reading. Socks are progressing nicely. Hope to get the pair done before the 17th. Wish me luck - the recipient has size 12 feet. I really need to check peoples shoe size before I agree to knit for them!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Catching up

Lots has been happening in the last 7 days, and not much time to write about it.

Highlights:

Bird Mittens finished and gifted (they have been worn every time I have seen the recipient).

Socks finished late last night and gifted. A little effort at tears is effective in getting socks apparently.



These were for my sister, who wasn't as neglected as she let on. Had another pair of hand knit socks (by me) on her feet when I arrived.

Cast on another pair of socks this morning, already to the heel flap this evening. Using a new yarn to me: Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox; 60% superwash wool, 25% bamboo, 15% nylon. Feels wonderful! If they weren't several sizes too big I would be tempted to keep them ;-> Knitting them up on my 2.25mm (SZ 1) Knitpicks Harmony double points (love these needles).

On the running front:

School is out, so I have had a little extra free time (no school = no work, at least at one job). Last Tuesday I met a friend for a run at one of the local snowmobile trails. It was a cold morning and the trail was pretty firm. Ran for an hour, around 5.7 - 6 miles: Avg HR: 166, Peak HR: 211; Min HR for the run: 92 (Note tonight my resting HR was 48). Lots of hills on this route, which is good for the legs. Then on Wednesday I met up with the usual group for 5 miles on the Lakewalk. Not very hilly which is good as I was feeling pretty tired and not really up for a run at all. Thursday was the New Years Day Run at Hartley Park (now dubbed the Barely Organized Run). Logged another 4.5 miles, give or take, on narrow single track. Lots of fun followed by a potluck and time to visit with folks.

After all the running my IT band is a bit sore, so it is a good thing I missed a few runs this weekend. Guess my New Years resolution should involve stretching and use of a foam roller on a regular basis.

Hope everyone had a good holiday season! Stay warm, temps here are down to -9 F and predicted to go lower overnight.