Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Decadence and Lacy Progress

We had a wonderful weekend; Monday was our anniversary (another post on that soon) and my husband arranged a getaway for us at a spa in Calistoga that we really enjoy. We headed up there on Saturday afternoon, and went to the V. Sattui winery for their Festa Italiana for dinner.
It was amazing. Music, dancing, good food and lots of good wine; what could beat that? If you're not familiar with V. Sattui and you happen to be up in Napa sometime, check it out; the customer service is great, the wine is good (and some quite affordable), and the grounds are really pretty.

The next day we wandered around Calistoga a little bit, then back to the spa for a little luxury - mud baths, blanket wraps and then a massage. My life is so tough, I tell you. After the treatments we headed home by way of Tiburon, where we had dinner at Guaymas, a favorite of my husband's. Ok, and mine.

I managed to get some knitting done in the car (seriously, I do knit). I've been focusing on Icarus, and I'm nearly done the main part of the body; less than one repeat to go and I get to change charts!
I love the long color transitions in the yarn (Graceful from The Yarn Place in Sunnyvale). When using this yarn I can't recommend enough that you use the Addi lace needles: last year I tried to knit a lacy scarf using the regular Addis and some of the same yarn and it was nothing but frustration. The lace needle points make it a breeze; no splits at all and so easy to separate those little teeny loops!

Here's the Icarus taken from a few other angles:

Which do you think flatters the shawl the most?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You Spin Me Right Round...

Remember that song? I watched a 'Best of the 80's' show yesterday - Pete Burns, the lead singer of Dead or Alive has morphed into a woman with the most incredible trout lips I've ever seen. They're so full they must hurt.

Onward: Kathy in San Jose has started a blog! Head on over and give her a warm welcome to the dark side, ok? I met her from comments on this blog and it turns out we live quite close to each other. We spent a very pleasant hour at a coffee shop last weekend knitting and chatting, and I'm hoping we'll do it again sometime soon. Hi Kathy!

It has been a while since I showed any knitting activity; it has been going on, but I frogged the entire Icarus I'd started and have been re-doing it. It's going well - much better than the first time, but it looks essentially the same as it did when I last blogged.

I have however, picked up my wheel again (I can do that, it's small) and am making some progress. I still have a really hard time getting it started on the bobbin, but once I get going, I'm ok. I also need someone to show me how to Navajo ply! Anyone local care to enlighten me?
Here's what I've been doing:
I bought this roving at Stitches, from Carolina Homespun. I think it's Corriedale. I didn't have anything particular in mind when I picked it up; I just wanted to play with color at a modest price, and that fit the bill perfectly. There should be enough for a pair of ankle socks which I'll wear in winter along with my clogs - I prefer that over slippers for arch support. I also like that these are totally not my colors; it's a nice change.

I also spun this up:

This is the 'Mars' roving I bought for my birthday. This will also become socks, or else a scarf.

Now to make you all jealous. Look what I bought with some birthday money!!!


My best friend growing up raises alpaca with her husband in southern VT. The blonde roving is from Ayana, and the black is from Sami and Tamaya. I love how she includes a picture of the alpaca from whom the roving came . You're looking at about a pound total of amazing softness.

Bonnie is the person who introduced me to spinning about 18 months ago. I visited her just before I moved out here and asked her to show me how she spun. She let me try it and about 4 seconds later I was hooked. I visited her again last fall, and she had a big pile of roving in the middle of her living room just waiting for me, and I spent a very happy hour learning how to spin and to ply (kind of). She sure knows how to get a girl hooked.

So I want to start dying some of my own roving and yarn. I've bought some books, but I'd love to hear from people who do it. What's the best kind of dye for a beginner to use (I don't want to do the Kool-Aid thing)? I also want to avoid anything toxic. I'm hoping to grow a few dye plants in our garden, but for now I want to keep it simple. So any hints anyone can offer will be very much appreciated!

One last look at my treasures. What else could I possibly need in life? Except a few sheep and alpaca of course...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Woo-hoo! A Title!

So back at it - let's see if Blogger will melt down again. It's still not allowing titles, but it does seem to let me post pictures at least.

We made it up that hill and on to the next challenge. A 2nd go at the Golden Gate:

It was a toughy this time. You could see the campsite (Crissy Field) which marked the end of the day's walk, but damn it seemed far away! It was windy and cold - neither particularly bothered me compared to the traffic noise - it was incredibly wearing. I tried to concentrate on keeping my shoulders back and head up; the cold made it tempting to hunch over. 400 miles later, we reached the other side of the bridge.

And there was my husband Brian, handing out cookies to walkers and waiting to walk the last mile with me! It was awesome and I was thrilled to see him. Here's a picture of us earlier in the day before the walk started:

It was also good he was there because my feet had really started hurting and I was pretty wobbly. So he provided physical support as well as moral. We made it to Crissy Field:

Nathalie and I went in search of our luggage and couldn't find it - which turned out not to be a problem - John, our team captain's husband and some knitting friends had shown up during the day, and pitched tents and carried in luggage for the entire team. Sweet! I dug out my towel and clean clothes and off I went to the shower truck. Those showers. Wow. The.best.ever. Ok, maybe I'd have felt differently if I hadn't just walked all day but they were damned fine. It felt wonderful.

Next stop, medical tent! I got my blisters taken care of and waited in line for a massage. And waited...and waited... and then decided that I didn't want to sit outside in the wind all night waiting. The thought of a hot bath kept coming to mind, and as my husband was already spending the night at a hotel, I decided to join him. We had dinner at Mel's Diner (red beans and rice with cajun sausage - yum!) and went back to the hotel. I took a bath, stretched for a good 40 minutes, and then treated my feet to the softest (aloe impregnated) socks ever:
I tried to knit but couldn't - my hands kept cramping up, so I just bailed on it and watched TV until I fell asleep. I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday, stretched, and then we headed back to Crissy Field. Brian dropped me off, and Nathalie and I finished folding up the tent, and headed to the big tent for breakfast.

Breakfast was a formal occasion:

A few minutes later, off we went on day two!

I couldn't believe how well I had recovered from the previous day. I'd protected my blisters really carefully and stretched a lot. My feet, which the previous evening were all cramped and painful were absolutely fine. Nathalie felt good too.

The 2nd day took us through the city. Early in the walk we broke away from the crowd to go into a Pete's. Nathalie was excited to have a great cup of coffee. I was all happy to use a bathroom that had a flush toilet and running water in which I could wash my hands. It's the little things, I guess!
We took breaks:

and remembered to stretch:

We met up with a cheering friend from the day before:

This is the two of us with Pepper. Pepper spent the entire walk blasting "I Will Survive", singing and dancing along, and yelling out encouragement to everyone. We loved Pepper! She was so cool.

And I made a new friend. Meet Toni.

Or Tony. I didn't ask how to spell it.

We climbed some hills:
And stopped at a breast cancer center funded by the Avon Foundation. Our fund-raising dollars at work! Seeing something concrete that Avon does with the money we raise was really cool. Many of the staff were outside, thanking us for walking and making us feel like heroes, even though in my book, they're the heroes!

The last big stop was lunch.
We ate, we cooled off, we stretched, and headed out for the last leg of the walk. We were psyched! I was stiffening up, my knee was starting to hurt and I could feel my blistered toe, but nothing was going to prevent me from getting to that finish line on my own two feet. Or bloody stumps - whichever, I didn't care.

On we walked. And on, and on. My those last few miles went slowly! At about mile 10, I got a sudden, very sharp pain in my blistered toe - and then it kept vibrating; it felt like an electric shock. Very weird. I couldn't walk on it so I ended up limping my way to the last quick stop. Where Brian was waiting for us again, ready to do the last mile along with us. I so love this guy! Nathalie's husband met us a short while later; here are the two of them early on day one:

As we got closer to the finish, there were all sorts of people ready to greet us:

I *heart* the San Jose bike cops!

This is us with Phil. Phil was everywhere during the walk. He guided us during registration, directed traffic, cheered us on and was just generally fabulous. I'll bet everybody loves Phil!

We made it across the line, picked up our t-shirts, and then I headed to the medical tent to see why my toe was still vibrating.

It was pretty gross - and I could tell it would be even before I removed my sock. I won't go into detail - the picture is enough, but it was only one of about 5 really good-sized blisters. Ruby in the medical tent took good care of me though, and she had me cleaned and bandaged up in no time!

I couldn't fit my foot back into my sneaker so I just limped around with my bandaged foot looking much more wounded and dramatic than I actually felt.

As expected, the closing ceremony was great. It alternated between inspiring, funny and very sad. I'm sorry I have no pictures to post of that; my card was full. But it was cool, and moving, and Avon sure does a great job of making us feel like winners. They did a great job the entire weekend; it's not easy organizing and tending to 2400 plus walkers and they did it effectively, efficiently, and with incredibly good humor. Everyone on the crew was awesome.

After the closing ceremony we drove home to San Jose where I showered, had some pizza, and parked my tired butt on the reclining part of the couch and didn't move for the rest of the evening. If I hadn't had to go to work on Monday I probably would have stayed there for 24 hours.

But Monday came and off to work I went. Feeling fine. And tired. And happy. I don't know if I'll do this again, but Brian told me he thinks everyone should do something like this at least once in their life (he has done the AIDS ride from SF to LA 3 times), and I agree. If you can't do it for physical reasons, then volunteer to work the event; there's something for everyone. Just find something you really care about and give it your time and energy for a while. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, July 9, 2007

So Yeah, I Took a Little Walk This Weekend...

Holy crap, I did it.


I walked 39.3 miles over 2 days.
I raised over $4,500.
Over 2400 walkers participated in this event.
Together we raised over $5.4 million.
I am so proud of myself and everyone else involved I can barely stand it.
I have the most supportive husband ever.
My feet are Ugh-leeeeee...

I really don't know where to start. It was fucking amazing (there - does that up my blog saltiness rating?). I'll try not to ramble but there is so much to tell!

(I'm going to have to do this in more than 1 post - I think I'm breaking Blogger...)

We got to the hotel on Friday night, registered, loaded up on carbs at Fino's in Union Square, and tried to get a good night's sleep. I was too excited to stay asleep though. We met my walking partner Nathalie and her husband at 5:00 am in the lobby, and made our way to Speedway Meadows. We had breakfast and coffee, stood in the fog and wind during the opening ceremony and finally we were on our way! It was pretty crowded going at first:

It was early morning, but we still had a fair number of people cheering us on. And a few looking our their windows wondering what the hell was going on. The San Jose bike cops were there to help us be safe:

We went over the Golden Gate bridge and headed toward Sausalito. We met some friends along the way:

We passed some cheerleaders:

We took breaks:

And before we knew it, we were half-way done!

On the way back, things got a bit tougher around mile 20. First we hit this:

More soon - Blogger is misbehaving...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Just Enough Time for a Quickie

No, not that kind of quickie. That's the kind of TMI that just makes me cringe. I can be raunchy as hell but I don't want to know anything personal.

Anyway - it's late. I'm heading up to San Francisco tomorrow, and I'll be spending the entire freakin' weekend walking! I'm doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - 26.2 miles on Saturday, 13.1 on Sunday, and walk like a REALLY old lady on Monday. I've raised over $4,000 and I'm very psyched.

I'm part of the Knitters for Knockers walk team - I'd tell you if you're cheering along the way to identify us by checking out the hand-knit pink pasties attached to our shirts, but I have a feeling we won't be the only ones sporting pasties at this event.

I'll tell y'all about it when I'm done! (Y'all - when did I get all southern and everything?)