Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Motown Tango Part 5: Footwork and Knitterly weirdness...

After the zamboni break we got back on the ice and began the footwork portion of the seminar. This was a good thing to save for last, because while it is hard, it is not exhausting.

We started by going over the different types of turns (I was interested to see mohawks and choctaws on the list with crossovers and chasses as steps- not turns...) and then set out to a patch that Amber had traced out (the small group meant everyone got their own circle 8 with room to spare.) Here we started with just basic forward inside and outside edges, and then moving onto backward ones. I think my circle was perhaps a bit too large for my height (just a teeny bit), but am ashamed at how weak my back edges are, especially. We are spoiled by the half lobes on the MITF test- getting the full way around the circle, especially on back inside is nearly impossible! At this point, I should have taken a picture of my patch, as all we had done were edges and it was an absolute mess.

-Three turns
Then, we moved onto 3-turns still on the circle. Amber and Alissa had written a "lesson plan" on the rink glass and they alternated through points. Once again my main thing here was that I need to bend my knees. In back 3 turns I was turning fine but I could never seem to get back to the center of the circle (we were still doing these all patch style).
Moving on to brackets I was pleased with my forward inside right bracket and made a good effort at the left one. The outside ones were terrifying and I gave up going from the center of the circle, that had me moving just too fast to even think about turning. Amber just kept encouraging the knee bend, but I think I need a sports psychologist for this one. We did not do backwards ones.
Also only do forward ones here. Here Amber and Alissa talked a bit about telling the turns apart (counter points where you are heading, like a C points to the new part of the sentence, and rocker points where came from, like the curve at the top of an R points backward.) Then we gave them a try. These made A LOT more sense to me then when I've done them in LTS because of the position on the circle- it was easier to tell I had done it right if I ended up on the other side of the circle, with the flag going the right way, then when I had to look for the "S" across the line. Not surprisingly the rocker/counters that correspond with the 3-turn/brackets that I am good at were stronger.
Then we went to the end of the rink and tried forward inside twizzles. We traveled across the rink just trying to do one, then back the other way trying to do a double twizzle on our good side, and a single on the bad side. I think I did one or two double twizzles, though they may have been to slow and would be called as double 3s. Alissa also showed us her twizzles.
-Put it all together
We spent a few moments where we were to take 3 different types of turns and 2 different types of steps and put them together. We needed to have 2 full rotations of direction, and to do all 3 types of turns in both directions. All I can say is I'm glad I'm not at a level yet that needs this sort of footwork requirement!

At the end when we were discussing what the necessary things were to get a footwork level, Alissa demonstrated her straight line footwork, and we tried to call the steps as she went. I would not make a good technical caller. Then we talked about how different footwork is now then it used to be and Alissa took off skipping along frantically on her toe picks in imitation of someone's footwork (someone famous, as everyone else knew who, and I recognized the name but can't think of it now...) It was quite funny for someone who had been pretty quiet all day.

At the end I took a 15 minute private lesson with Alissa. We worked on my backspin a bit, which due to the nerves of working with her wasn't fantastic, but did improve with her suggestions. I flipped to my inside edge once (NO! Do not want that habit) so I was not happy about that. She suggested I move where I am holding my arms when I pull in, and that I go into the entry with more power (yes Courtney, I know you've said that too...) and after a few tries they were noticeably better than the first few I demonstrated. Then we did some footwork- outside mohawks and that pretty much came down to bend your knees. Talked a little bit about the difficulty of the early moves patterns when end patterns show off your bad side, and she said that it's really important to conquer one sidedness early. I think it's too late for that!

In closing, I have to say that the DSC has the best ice that I have ever skated on. This includes Kettering, Troy, Coralville, Cedar Rapids, St. Louis, Chicago, and Dallas. It was soft and silky and easy to get an edge into. Seeing as how I had power pulls that actually growled on inside edges, it was definetly the ice helping me out!

Knitterly weirdness- the Yarn Harlot has had a thing for sock pictures for a long time. It's a way she documents her travels and connects them to her knitting. I also imagine it makes socks more special, as she can trace their journey. As such, many sock knitters have begun taking sock pictures, and it was something I wanted to do. The Yarn Harlot donates to Doctors Without Border's for pictures taken with heads of state, high level politicians, or candidates for such. She also really likes famous people with socks. The SKA group on Ravelry recently had a scavenger hunt (which I couldn't particpate in...) and one of the top point getters was recognizable athletes (most of which were in the background of pictures... say at a baseball game.) I was disappointed it wasn't just a bit later- as I had a chance to get a recognizable athlete picture with a sock. I decided to do it anyway! So here are my sock knitter's with Alissa and Amber. (For the scavenger hunt since Alissa is in her Team USA uniform, I would actually get extra points for the uniform too, haha) Alissa and Amber, apparently both knit- though only scarves. Alissa was asking me how the extra needles work, and since I didn't have the 4th one with me, it didn't really help the confusion. She told me this was not the weirdest request, and that a guy who asked her to sign his chest with a permanent marker was. (When I told Kevin I was going to ask her to sign my boot, he misheard me. When he realized what I had said, he recommended I say "skate" to avoid any misunderstanding...)

For Alissa and Amber's good humor in taking pictures with my sock, I am going to donate to Doctor's Without Border's.

And that concludes the "short" recap of the weekend. Can't wait to go back next year!

Motown Tango Part 4: Spins

Today was the BIG draw for me. I have to admit- the main reason I went to this seminar was to get a chance to meet Alissa Czisny. I've only ever had two favorite skaters- and she is one of them, Kristi Yamiguchi being the other. Her name is what attracted me to the seminar, the time I spent skating with other adults is probably what will pull me back.

I was quite nervous how Sunday would go, as I was INCREDIBLY sore from jumping so much Saturday. My left quad- a muscle I was pretty sure I didn't have was killing me. My left hip flexor was the worst. My feet weren't nearly as sore as I expected them to be- still, I was worried I wouldn't be able to do my best or get the most out of this day.

We met at the rink and started with off ice with Debbie Pitsos. Debbie did a fantastic off-ice class that was similar to Jonathan's, but not quite the same. Both warm ups had me exhausted by the time I got on the ice, however, my knees didn't bother me at all this weekend, which leads me to believe I need the warm up! While we were warming up upstairs we could see one of the Czisny's taking advantage of the empty ice by doing some figures. We assumed it was Amber, as Alissa was driving in from a show and we expected her to be late- later we found out it was indeed Alissa, who also mentioned her figures are not as good as Ambers. (Alissa would not trace out the circle 8s for us to practice on, instead having Amber do them all.)

So finally the time came to get our skates on. I have to admit I rushed just so I could get out to the ice quicker. Not everyone had that idea, so we did have a bit of wait time, but we filled that time talking to Alissa and Amber, and skating a little bit. (I tried to warm up on ice as well as stop and say hello, but really really tried not to be fan-girly). Alissa and Amber were both very nice, with Alissa being much more reserved, though I think she warmed up to the group quite a bit by the end.

We started with spins. Amber talked about the things you need in a spin entrance- stepping into the circle, bending the knee, PUSH, and keeping the weight to your heel. Then we went out and tried a few. I did 2 really bad ones, 2 pretty normal ones, and 1 PERFECT spin. I was very pleased with myself. Then we come back to the group. Amber asks if anyone did a nice one they want to show, and I said I had a good one, but also some bad ones. Thinking we'd look at the tracings we'd already done. Nope- she wants to demo the spin. Now, I'm nervous! I have to do the first demo of the day in front of my skating idol. I wind up for a spin, and start a spin that travels, but not a ton. Amber points out that my entrance was exactly what they asked for (thank you!), showing how I stepped close together, directly into the circle... and that if I held a bit longer before 3-turning I would have centered better. She also tells me Alissa was excited to see an opposite spin. Of course, Alissa doesn't say this.

So we break out again, and do some more. While working on these spins, Amber and Alissa make their way around, and this was the only time I think I worked with Alissa during the spin section of the seminar. She watches a few spins (Nervous!) and then works with me on ATTACK in the entry, and tells me I have good knee bend in the wind up, but I need to stay down and not come up before the push. I incorporate her comments, and after a few tries center a really nice spin with her watching. That made me feel really good- one, she saw it, and two, she knows her comments helped.

Then we group back together and talk about camels, and seperate again. My camels are not going well. My legs are so tired at this point I'm shaking (and I take a few seconds to go eat some almonds to see if food will help). I never had to deal with dizzy, but physically exhausted was an issue. Amber and Alissa again help around the rink, and when both were at the person on either side of me, Amber calls us all back together- oh well. Then we talked about the difference between a flat camel and a bow and arrow camel. I think I've been doing a bow and arrow, as my shoulders are usually perpendicular (well, they should be) to the ice- though my arms tend to be all over the place. Alissa demonstrates a gorgeous camel, which Amber tells us is not a true flat camel but is not a bow and arrow. A bow and arrow offers me control, a flat camel more speed, Amber says.

So I give both variations a try and find that neither offers me speed :) But I can hold my edge better with the flat camel. Amber comes over and works with me a bit, and I tell her I feel a bit like an airplane. She suggests I really concentrate on getting my upper body parallel to the ice, because my leg is fine. We try a few, and she says they are looking better. There were some really nice camels on the ice, and one of the men had a very fast back camel (he demonstrated for bow and arrow).

We group back together and are split into groups for sit spin and layback variations. Alissa takes the high group and Amber the low group. I was a little sad to not get to work with Alissa, but Amber is really what I needed. Watching the two coach these groups, it seemed Alissa worked the way her coaches probably do- she stayed at the wall and skaters would come back to her and then go back out. Amber skated among us, and was hands on if she wanted a position change. Amber is the style of coach I needed to be with for this part. We started with a Y-spin variation. (Um- this was supposed to be the easy group...) Amber showed us how from a sit spin we should grab our calf, then our ankle with the other hand, then the boot with the first hand and pull up into an upright spin. Because of my flexibility issues, I realize I'll have to do this from a back-sit, something I can't do! So I work on back sit, and Amber tells me to really think about being straight and back on my blade, unlike the forward sit where you lean front more. I do this and slowly progress to attempting to pull my leg up. This gets me to about a dog/fire hydrant position. HAHA.

Next we do a twisted sit spin position (I can't remember what she called it, but she said there were 1,000 different names for it.) This is the sit spin where you take your opposite arm and set it on the thigh of your free leg, and then lift the same arm as your free leg into an open position and look at it. My issues here: 1)I think I lost the sitting position 2) this makes you spin SO much faster it was terrifying, and 3) I have no nerve connections when I skate. I knew my head wasn't looking at my arm, but I couldn't make my brain fire the things that tell the head to turn, or my hand would be flipped the wrong way, but I couldn't get my brain to communicate with it to turn around. Yes- I am that disconnected. But it was fun to try.

Then we moved into laybacks (or head tilt ups, really). Amber talked to us about holding our hands on our hips, and how anyone can do this turn even without much back flexibility. One man said men don't do this turn, and the other man in the group argued that now many many do. The first man still did not attempt it. I was really pleased with my attempts, mostly because Andy had put so much work into my attitude spin ahead of time. Even after looking up at the ceiling, I was able to maintain balance (though not leg position) and remain spinning. Amber told me it was the best one she'd seen thus far (recall, however, I'm in the low group)- which really made me smile. Then she talked about rungs of the ladder- get an upright spin first, then move the leg, then the hips, than the head/back.

After this, we took a zamboni break.
I asked Alissa to sign my skate and she did, commenting that purple was her favorite color, the sharpie color I handed to her. Alissa also told us that she had her new short program choreographed, and that she was keeping her long program, but changing the dress (although it was very pretty, probably wise since the skirt kept getting caught on the back sequins.)

Motown Tango Part 3: Island Dinner Dance

Motown Tango has been an ice dancing event for many many years- freestyle clinics were just added last year- with the spin and footwork seminar, and expanded this year to include two days of freestyle clinics. To help include the freestylers in the weekend festivities, we were invited to the Saturday night Island Dinner Dance.

This event started about 10 minutes after we were scheduled to get off the ice (and actually the bar opened before we got off the ice, since we were running late due to the gas leak!) As such, the dancers who had had a few hour break all look beautiful and smelled pretty nice :) Some freestylers went back to hotels, showered and changed, others (myself included) merely changed. Plenty of people were willing to sit next to me and talk with me- so I must have been okay :)

Coming into the event I was thinking "i'm a really picky eater, maybe a sort of pricy dinner isn't a good idea?" by the time we got up there I was so worn out, compltetely exhausted from jumping, and FAMINSHED I would have eaten anything! As is, I actually didn't eat the chicken. We had red potatoes, string beans, a lovely salad, rolls, and apple pie. The salad was very good- excellent ranch dressing I wish I had gotten more of that!

I sat with Susan and her friends from Rockford during dinner, and then switched tables to talk with Catherine and Patricia. There was dancing, and I danced a few times- mostly when people either made me (Paul forced me to go show off my white girl shuffle with a group that was dancing in a circle) or asked me (I did a swing dance to Thriller, with a nice man in the ice dance group.) Also did a bit of group salsa. Then I sat back and did a few rows of knitting. This was my weekend off, and I wanted to knit!

There were door prizes and I won a pair of Stink-eez something I have been needing for a VERY long time. They apparently work well, as when I opened my trunk after driving home from MI, it did NOT smell like feet. (I skate barefoot- so, you can imagine how that works out...)

I left fairly early- maybe 10:45, as I was just so worn out, and starting not to feel well. I was also worried about driving back to the hotel very late at night if I had stayed till 1:00. A well founded fear, as I took a wrong turn leaving the club and ended up in a not so nice neighborhood, which I realized very quickly and got turned back around without trouble. THEN I misread a sign getting to a highway, and got quite a bit more lost trying to find the highway- though this time in a nice area, so lost was more stressful than scary.

Kevin should not let me leave the state again without a GPS. (Future trips to and from the DSC rink where a breeze, however.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Motown Tango Part 2: Off ice, Transitions, and Jumps

Transitions were to be "style on ice" but the instructor insisted that style is nearly being able to connect things with transitions, and preferred for us to think that that was what we were learning

Jonathan Cassar did the clinic on Saturday, and ran the off-ice clinic. Off ice started very much like a jazz dance class with lots of isolation of the different body parts starting with the head and moving to the feet, and then transitioned into jogging front then back, lots of jumping jacks, stylized jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, and some dynamic stretching of the quads and calves. No static stretching before skating- it is no longer advised. I felt to some extent the warm up was designed to aggravate the tendinitis in my ankles, but they were still holding up, and although I was extremely tired (from a workout that is about equal to a normal workout for me, not a warm up) I was determined NOT to let it show. We then talked a little bit about transitions, and how to connect moves together.

Then we moved onto the ice, where Jonathan was joined by Ben Woolwine (I think that's the name)- who was introduced as someone who would be helping with jumps, but I don't know what sort of "credentials" he carries. I assumed he was a staff pro, but he was not on the DSC wall of professionals. We started just doing swizzles around the rink, moving our arms and playing follow the leader with Jonathan. Then we moved into doing a spiral followed by a jump of our choice. I did spiral-3-turn-toe loop, which I really liked, and when Jonathan came over he suggested I do the spiral, transition it to a catch foot and then do the toe-loop, so I worked on that a bit. Then we did Ina bauers into spins. Because of the direction that I can do a Bauer in, I was pretty much forced to backspin. There were a few people who could do true straight line bauers, but I felt better when Jonathan told us all that a curvy Bauer is perfectly legitimate, and he complimented the combo I put together (bauer-backspin) and suggested I try doing the Bauer after stepping forward from a jump, asked me if I could work on that, and then demonstrate it for the group. I worked on it from waltz jump, and after I was comfortable enough with it, added a RBO spiral to the beginning of the waltz jump. Then the group came back together and I demonstrated the RBO spiral- waltz jump- ina bauer- backspin sequence I had put together. Jonathan told me he liked the toe-loop better (I'm not sure he noticed I changed the spiral though- I couldn't do a toe loop from that), but said to the that it was a perfect example of how a low level skater (at PB I was decidedly among the lowest test, and likely the lowest level jumper) could link moves together and not need to just stroke in between things. Then a Gold level skater did a combo, that was similiar, but obviously better, and ended in a layback, and then a Novice level adult did a similar combo, that incorporated move footwork and an even more impressive layback- and he talked a bit about the progression, but how we all used the same skills spiral-jump-bauer-spin. Then Catherine, a skater from Canada who I knew from skating forums, showed off her gorgeous spread eagle, which I assume she also added a spin too, though I don't recall.

We might have done something else on the "style" or transitions portion of the seminar, but I don't recall, and then Jonathan showed off the spread eagle section of his program, to our delight. He has the best spread eagles I've seen, changing from outside to inside, and riding the inside edge for so long until it forms a tight circle where he lays very close to the ice he is on such a deep edge.

Oops- no photos from skating Saturday. Here is the Sunday group picture. The Saturday group was larger, and did not include the Czisny's.

We then moved onto the jump portion of the seminar. I'm not a jumper, and have never pretended to be. The thing I got most from this portion was probably just the time I spent with other adults. Nothing revolutionary was taught here, and I really don't think I picked up any tips to take home. What I did get, however, was a lot of jumping in. Probably more than I've jumped all year, and I kept at it to the point of exhaustion. We started with waltz jumps, salchow, and then loop. I don't recall if either Ben or Jonathan came over to me at all during the first two jumps, but Jonathan did come over to me during my loop and suggested I curve the entrance to the right (I do a stroke and then a 3-turn in pretty much a straight line. he wanted a stroke, and then a 3-turn in a different direction)- I'll ask Andy and Courtney what they think of that, but I gave it a try, though I'll admit I see no difference right now. We moved onto lutz, and as we spent a lot of time on it, I tried full revolutions, which I mostly landed two footed, nothing was said to me about this jump. We went onto flip, which I also tried full revolutions, after trying from both 3-turn and mohawk, I decided I favored the mohawk entry, and kept at it. I also never landed one, but was told by other adults it was my highest jump (maybe a full quarter of an inch off the ice? LOL) Jonathan did come over and give me some tips about connecting my arms to my entry, but it was very rushed and I don't really even remember what he said right after he had me show him two. Oops.

The last hour of ice was freeskate, however we were all SO tired that Jonathan and Ben stuck around and we mostly just chatted, and then Ben would do walleys and one foot axels for amusement (wow- walley's look hard. Not toe-walleys, which seemed much less impressive). Taking my skates off I was amazed to realize I never lost feeling in my feet, nor did I have any blisters. I had survived 4 hours, jumping for over 2. Going back to the hotel I was a sore as I could ever remember being, Red Jacket summer camp included, and was pleased to realize I do indeed have a left quad muscle- it might be underdeveloped, but I managed to work it out today.

My only complaint about the Saturday clinic was I felt that the higher level jumpers got much more attention than the lower level ones. I've heard this echoed by a few skaters, but it's possible that it was actually the VOCAL skaters who got the attention. There were one or two skaters who were particularly demanding, and they may have monopolized the instructors time, rather than the instructors favoring them. It's tough to tell. Then again, as a 20 something instructor, who wouldn't be fascinated by the 40 year old doing doubles? But even without much individual attention for the jumps, I felt the clinic to be completely worth while, and would go back for this portion again. (Especially if they kept Jonathan for transitions and brought in a different skater/coach for jumps. I've been told that in addition to being known for spread eagles, he is known for spins- which clearly Alissa already has claimed!)

Motown Tango Part 1: Before the skate

I realized this was getting really long, so I'm breaking it into four parts.

Alright. Motown tango- how can I remember everything I did?

Starting Friday- I drove from Iowa to Detroit. The directions I got came from google maps, and were apparently designed to avoid toll roads. I got dreadfully lost after exiting 80 and not being able to find the highway I was supposed to find. After stopping at two gas stations (without maps, but with friendly people telling me how to get to Indiana- um, I wanted to be on a very specific road in Indiana, so it didn't seem like these directions helped, as they were telling me to get back on 80) I found a walmart and bought a map and found at that I did indeed want to stay on 80. Stupid google maps. While being lost I found the Artic Ice arena we skated at for synchro nats. How odd that I would get lost in the only part of Chicago I had ever been to, not like it helped. Due to getting lost I got there too late to meet Kristin at the rink for a tour.

I checked into my hotel, a Candlewood Suites and made myself a dinner of spaghetti shells. The hotel was picked due to it having a full kitchen, and I was very happy to find that it ALSO had an extremely comfortable bed. After a long drive a comfortable bed was very nice.

Saturday- I woke up Saturday morning with the same feeling as the first rehearsal of the ice show "never mind... I'm not going"
I resolved to get there early, and to my surprise I got a text a few minutes before I had planned to leave from Kristin telling me she was already there if I wanted to meet her early. The rink was easy to find, and I got there about 1 hour before the clinic was going to start. Kristin and I got on well immediately and we chatted quite a bit, she showed me the layout of the rink (3 sheets, a ballet room, weight room, nice locker rooms. Only downside is the bathroom is about as far out of the way as it possibly could be). Then while we were talking another woman, who I sort of recognized, came up to me and introduced herself to me as Susan. Susan is an Iowan skater who I've been in contact with online for quite awhile but never met. She was there for ice dancing.

Notice the sign welcoming us all to "Mow"town.

About 10 minutes before the off-ice portion of the clinic was going to start, we were evacuated for a gas leak. This was a MAJOR disappointment, but word came around soon that it would only be about an hour, and we would be allowed back in. Reassured that we would get to skate, I enjoyed the sun and the company. After the sun became overbearing, we moved further away to the shade, where I was shocked to see quite a few ice dancers out without guards on. There was no way to get to this spot without walking on the grass, and at least a little concrete, so short of a fire and immediate need to run out, I sure wouldn't do that. (In our haste to evacuate, haha, some dancers even changed clothes.)

We suggested to the man running the clinic that the freestyle off ice could take place outside, but he thought it would be too hot, so we waited to get back into the building. Alas, the issue was taken care of, and we were allowed back in.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Plenty of Sunshine Today

I finished my "Ain't No Sunshine" socks. Thank goodness. While these are absolutely gorgeous, I don't think I'll wear them much. They represent an absolute hell of a month. I am glad they are done.

I emailed the company I am freelancing for and told them I would continue on the project but needed either more reasonable hours or better pay. The pay still isn't great, but it's better. The hours, remain crazy.

I am starting a sock now for Ravelry's SKA Knit-Along for Design Your Own. I had a really cool idea that is based in Cookie A's Kai-Mei socks; the gusset decreases don't have to be on both sides. So I'm going to try putting them right on top of the socks.

This means I have to do the entire cuff before I have any idea if my idea will work. But I'm really excited about it. I'm breaking out my favorite of the Wild Funnies yarn from my German shopping expedition. Will post more soon.

Detroit in 4 days!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yarn take two.

This is the same yarn I posted the last time. To get rid of the white spots (which I hid in that photo) I dumped it into a bath of red kool aid. So now the yarn isn't pink, but reddish-pink. I'm very happy with it. You can still see some very light spots, but after carefully looking at them, I think it's safe to say they are LIGHT pink.

I reskeined this last night, which means that I took the skein I dyed and made it into a new skein that is a different size. That way the "chunks" of color don't group together, and instead the colors interact with each other. The photo isn't very true to color, it's a very light red, not orangey, but the interaction of the colors is pretty realistic.

I think I reached my goal of doing a semi-solid pretty well.

I'm finished with the gusset decreases of my Sunshine sock. Back to work now... but hopefully a more reasonable day, not 14 hours.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Deal of the Day

Today Old Navy has ribbed tank tops on sale for $2. I went at 11:00 after LTS, they open at 10:00- the selection was almost completely picked over white was more or less all that was left. I managed to find 2 Smalls, and then went for my secret weapon- the children's section. There I found 2 XL! And on the way out of the dressing room got another AS. So that's the limit of 5.

Old Navy makes these really long now (I don't like that for normal clothes) but it's perfect for skating- cover up my big butt! I also really like skating in these tank tops, so I am very pleased.

Retail value: $37.50
Sale Price: $10.00
What I paid: $0.60

That's right: 60 cents.
Last week I got an email from the mall list serv (I knew signing up for this would be worthwhile) with a offer for a free $10 gift card- no strings attached at all. So all that I paid for was the tax.

I have a lot of work to do today (blah) but I think today will be better than the rest of the week was. 3 hours on the ice this morning, and game night tonight!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I am so stressed. I've been going to bed incredibly late, waking up at a normal time and working 12-14 hours a day. The pay is NOT good enough for this, but I can't turn it down when I have nothing else in sight.

I just want a day to sit, knit, watch TV- anything but work ALL day long.
Kevin has even been eating lunch downstairs so he can spend time with me on his lunch break- I eat at the computer while working...

Thank God for skating in Detroit next week. I cannot wait.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kettle Dying

I tried to do a semi-solid dye method yesterday. It didn't work the way I wanted. The first pot I didn't get ANY color on the underside at all- just the surface that I could immediatly see. Urgh.

I so I made up another pot and got about 75% coverage. Why are there so many white spots?

So I made up a third pot for immersion- this time there was no kettle dye method at all, I wanted full coverage. Grr- STILL white spots.

So now I'm trying to decide if I should keep it as is and just see how it knits up. I think it's going to be strings of 7-8 stitches though, so probably not that nicely. Maybe I should dunk it in some Kool-Aide to over dye it. Kool-Aid seems to have better coverage than the Wilton's dyes I've used.

I do really like the pink though. Pink is fun, and pink socks are very fun.

Finished the first brown sock... have done the ribing for the next one.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knitty Summer 2009

I'm almost done with my first Ain't No Sunshine. I did the whole thing on US 1.5s so my wrists are really hurting :( How big where these supposed to be? I'm getting 9.5 st/inch- way smaller than the pattern and even still, maybe the foot could be a bit smaller, but I'm mostly happy with the cuff (There is a weird pucker at the top of the heel... ) I like them a lot though, and though my Marlene socks had a small cable twist in them, this is probably the first real cable sock I've done.

The new knitty is out :)
One of my traditions from livejournal was to post my opinion about each pattern. I love looking at Knitty patterns but rarely make them- the only ones I've ever made have been socks. And when I used to knit in college I didn't make socks.

I'm not sure what I think of winter patterns in the summer. Will they put summer patterns in the winter issue?

So Summer 2009:

The Deadliest Crab:
Cute crab, would not knit this.

Diamond Halter
Pretty- maybe something I would wear when I was thin in high school or college. I wonder how much support the knit fabric would offer though, and I feel like it would sag a lot in the back when a halter is made at such a large gauge. (Obviously halters are generally knit fabrics- but super tight thread knit ones). The ribbing doesn't look very good on the model, so I doubt it would look great on most people.

This is one of those things I don't get. I've never seen anyone where anything like this. It's like a garment made for the sake of knitting a garment. I don't really like the stitch pattern.

Super cute. I need a girl to knit for.

Miss Honeychurch
I don't like the shaping of this one either. I feel like it would sag pretty badly.

Kingdom and Verdigris:
Very pretty- look like WAY too much effort.

first off- I think it's funny the URL is Trani. These are very pretty, and while I like fingerless mitts I don't get the point of these. Don't sleeves do this?

Um- these are just weird. WHY?
"These odd looking creations provide the warmth of a mitten, with the dexterity of a glove. Thus, getting out your keys, turning radio dials, pulling the break lever on your bike, and even answering your cell phone are all possible while your fingers are kept warm! Amazing!"
How do they have the dexterity of a glove? It seems like it would be so ackward to keep your fingers apart like that. And I do think mittens are a bit warmer than gloves, but seperating out your fingers kind of takes that away. (And isn't the arguement for toe socks that they are warmer than regular socks? Isn't that the opposite of the mitten/glove arguement?)

Morning Glory:

Cute- impractical for my lifestyle.

Treetop socks:
These are alright. I'm not a huge fan of the pattern, but it might be the color. I'll have to see what other people do with it. I don't think I'd make these.

Outside In:
I really like this, and I think it's a clever way to avoid a ton of purling (which I don't mind, but is kind of painful on my wrists with tiny needles). I'm not sure I'm crazy about the line of YO in the middle- too many holes for a sock maybe. But this one is going in my ravelry queue.

Mermaid Socks
I like these ones a lot. These also went into my rav queue, however, they remind me of Potomatus and I hated making those (but love how they look) so I might not get to them eventually.

Cold Mountain Stole:
Very pretty. When I get back to lacework this might be something I consider.

Entomology :
Love this one! I haven't tried beads yet, but they seem very popular lately.

Urbanista and Trilobite:
Nice enough, wouldn't make it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Time to breathe

I finished my assignment last night at midnight. I thought I'd get the whole day off today, or at least until they can assign me something else. Sadly I woke up to an email asking me to "fix" some of my work- in a manor that I pretty much thought was a change in the parameter of the original assignment, or at least the way it was explained.

Oh well, not morning off. For 3.5 hours I worked my butt off to get this done by noon- I finished 3 minutes before then. (That's when they needed it by.)

So I've had some breathing room this afternoon. I vacuumed and did laundry- things that have been very neglected as I've been crazy for 2 weeks.

I did a bit of knitting. And I made a drawstring bag. I hope to make a few more of these, as a way to keep projects together. I can put them all in a basket upstairs, and Kevin won't know he is over run with yarn. This one is the perfect size for a ball of yarn and a sock in progress, but it doesn't fit the pattern. I need to make it a little bigger.

With it, my "Ain't No Sunshine" sock. I'm now at the point I was when I ripped the other one out. It's taken me 2 weeks to get there- the other sock took 3 days... I hope for more knitting time tonight, but we are going for sushi too! The sock blocker is one of the ones Kevin made for me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I long for knitting...

... how can I tell I'm not getting enough knitting time in? (Other than the fact that neither the sweater or sock are growing.) I long to make a blanket. I've been looking at lots of blankets on Ravelry in my 30 second breaks (this is one of those).

I HATE blankets. BORING! Who wants to knit miles and miles of knit stitches? ME! I just want to knit.

This morning I finished my sample unit for the company I used to work for, so hopefully they will accept that and I can write a full unit. I am also super busy with freelance company #2, though not nearly as hectic of a schedule as last week. Tonight will be a very late night, but it is my fault- this morning I worked on other things (that needed to get done), and this afternoon I have been procrastinating, plan to go skating, and watch SYTYCD. No wonder nothing is getting done.

I also heard back from freelance company #1 some feedback on a lesson I wrote, and it was very positive. Since they were somewhat critical of one of my other submissions, I was very happy to hear they really liked this one. That bodes well for future assignments.

I had planned to post a picture of the Ain't No Sunshine sock, but alas, I've procrastinated enough, so here is another boring entry without a picture.

In skating news- I thought I had managed to not pull my hamstring yesterday, but today it's aching like crazy. Guess I can't handle attitude position. (While spinning it's the hip flexor that yells at me, but the next day it's the hamstring.) But it's exciting to have the start of a layback. Not that I'll EVER do one of those.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

No progress

Today was a day where nothing got done. I'm still ridiculously exhausted from not sleeping all week. Last night we went to the Robert Earl Keen festival at the Iowa City Arts festival. That was worth staying up late for (although, we were home by 11:00!!) It was a fantastic concert, though I must say REK needs to learn to enunciate a bit, some things were tough to understand, and Kevin and I knew many of the lyrics. He sang all my favorites (except Merry Christmas from the Family- but that's to be expected) and kept it fairly family friendly for someone who sings mostly about beer drinking. And I managed to experience something I never thought possible in Iowa- listening to someone make fun of Lubbock. I had a really great time, but it made me very homesick.

So back to today- I left open my work screen and got done today 1/3 of what I had to do on last Wednesday and Thursday, but that should get me a bit of a jumpstart on the week. I have 140 items due Thursday, for comparision last week I had 120 items in those two days (plus about 1 hour on Tuesday that I was able to work when I got the assignment). This week should involve much less lost sleep, if only I can sit down and be productive. Fortunately, this week is also a subject I'm less familiar with (so it's taking longer) but if I had this subject area first- I don't think I would have made it through last week in time. Additionally, I have an assignment with yet another company that I HAVE to get done by Wednesday- and that is writing, not just aligning. Writing requires much more creativity, and I'm having a bit of writers block as I've had so much exposure to items I think of a good idea, and realize someone else had it first. I just finished a month of lesson writing, so sometimes I'm the person who had it first- but you can't write the same thing for two companies.

I called about the job applications at ACT (for the Specialist positions) and they have them now (they didn't get them the first time). My former AVP called over to the hiring managers for me, so I'm hoping I at least get an interview. This is a high enough job, that even though it is hourly and would be a step down on the ladder it should be challenging enough to be interesting.

In knitting news- I'm about 2 rows further into my "Ain't No Sunshine" socks. Brown just seems a strange color to pick for these, but I think it looks pretty nice.

We are still dog sitting and I don't know how much this teeny 9 lb dog should be eating. He is used to at will feeding, and Elsa thinks that's a marvelous way to take his food, so we can't leave it down. He'll eat if I hand feed him, but if Elsa is outside (he is scared of outside unless we go with him) and we set it down, he'll eat ONE piece, and then stop. That surely isn't enough.

I need to go back to the "comically small portion diet" my weight is back on the rise. I refuse to be overweight again!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine

Actually there is a lot of sunshine- the rain has stopped and my fingers are crossed it will stay away long enough for us to go see Robert Earl Keen tonight. The title refers to my sunshine sock, which I started in a green/yellow colorway. Once again, choosing a variegated yarn fought with the pattern and I have ripped out another cuff of a sock. I recast on in a semi-solid brown color. Knitting with dark yarn is tough- hard on the eyes. I did the ribbing last night while we waited for the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Iowa City is having their Arts Festival, which explains all the music. The Squirrel Nut Zippers blew a fuse (transformer? The whole city block was dark) so they started 2 hours late. I was exhausted already from a very very busy week (hence no blog posts- 11 hour work days take the blogging away) so we only stayed for 3 songs :( But we got great sushi and ice cream with friends. Tonight is Robert Earl Keen and I am SO incredibly excited. I miss all the great music I listened to, and went to concerts to hear, on a regular basis in Texas.

We are dog sitting so we have a second dog in the house. He is an adorable little dog who is very needy- won't go outside without us, and wants his balls thrown constantly. Elsa really really wants him to play with her, but for the most part he won't. She chases after him when he is running for his ball- but Basie really could not care less that she is around. Poor Elsa.

I have another busy week freelancing, so maybe not too many posts. But I'm not at a point where I feel like I can turn down work, so I'm willing to give up my entire life for it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lazy Monday

In knitting news: I cast(ed?) on for Sunshine, another Cookie A book pattern. Cookie A is without a doubt my favorite sock designer. Not only are all her socks gorgeous, they fit me :) We must have similar feet. For now, St. Moritz is sitting in time out where I decide if going back down to the tighter gauge was a good decision or not.

I met my friend Courtenay today for ice skating and shopping. We skated for about 30 minutes when my tendonitis in my right foot really started to bother me. It was likely because we were mostly doing laps, something I rarely do, and something that mimics walking more than other skating does. Walking does me in too. Anyhow, I hope the tendonitis isn't going to be a reaccuring thing, because I've been enjoying being pain free.

I goofed around and tried to do some figures- just circle eights on all 4 edges. HAHAHA. First off, after coming home I found out that the new tests require you only do 1 circle, and not retrace- so on my forward edges I'd likely be fine, on the backward edges I couldn't get enough speed and needed to toe tap down to push myself through the rest of the circle. When I tried to retrace though, I'd be spot on for just a little bit, then like 4 inches away from my tracing, then back on. I managed to always come back to the same center though :) But for anyone who hasn't done them FIGURES ARE HARD!

Before going skating I had a training meeting. This is the 2nd I've had (and the second company I've done freelance work for since I got laid off) if this is going to be a thing, I've got to find a speakerphone! Ouch my neck hurts, and it can't possibly be good for my shoulders to have to use them to hold the phone in place. I tried to you my hands, but it's hard to do that for that long.

Tomorrow is the EIFSC board meeting. I'm really debating if I should be a board member this year. Membership is due at the end of June- if I don't have a job, I'm not sure it makes sense to pay $75 for a club membership, especially since if I'm not taking lessons I definetly won't test- and that's really the only thing I need the membership for. But of course, if I'm not a member, I can't be on the board...