Caught the Bug

Admittedly, I’ve been off knitting lately. I’ve had zero desire to pick up the needles in the last few months, and even less to cast on for something new. No longer were skeins of soft merino calling out to me. I don’t know what it was, but my brain had checked out of knitting.

Until last week that is. Frankly I’m not sure what happened. I logged on to Ravelry for the first time in months and was immediately hooked. Within the first 5 minutes I had found a pattern the I HAD TO KNIT. My reaction was not, ‘hmm, that looks nice. Let’s queue it up’. No, no. This was an urgent need. That pattern had to be mine. There would be no waiting around.

Sure enough, before I turned in for the night I had the beginnings of the project on my needles.

What was the pattern that had me so enamoured? None other than Viajante. That’s right, a plain stockinette pattern. Me. Interested in that? There’s hardly a YO or cable to be found. Sure, there’s a bit of lace at the end, but that’s assuming I’ll make it that far without caving into the monotony.

Something has changed. Yes I’ve caught the knitting bug, but it’s a whole new entity. Before my hiatus, I used knitting as a way to occupy and challenge myself. Give me a project with cables or mind-numbing lace and I was all over it.

Now, I’m seeking out simplicity in my projects. I feel pretty fulfilled in my current pursuits (riding, running, anything that starts with an ‘r’ apparently), which means that knitting doesn’t have to serve as entertainment as well. Instead, I want it to soothe. I need it to be something I can come home and relax to. Something that takes little brain power, and for that, I couldn’t have found a better pattern.

Early progress on my Viajante

No matter how long you stay away, knitting will always welcome you back, in whatever capacity you can handle at the moment.


Run, Run

New Kicks

Earlier this year I posted that this was going to be my year of seizing life by the horns and doing this that I enjoy. I’m pleased to report that so far, so good! I’m still riding regularly and will be in my first ever horse show!! However, I’ve also learned that you can buy happiness, and if you are having too much fun, it starts to get expensive. This realization has forced me to make a choice between some of extra curriculars, as it’s just not feasible to afford them all.

Sadly the first thing to go was my regular bootcamp class. It was not a decision I made lightly, because the year I’ve been doing the program has been so fantastic. The regular workout routine had such a positive effect: I felt more energetic, was less irritable, and I felt fabulous. It definitely trimmed and toned me up. Despite all these positive benefits, when it came down to it, exercise is something I felt I could do on my own: horse back riding, not so much. And so, riding lessons won out for now.

Just because I’m not paying for an exercise routine doesn’t mean I’m not eager to maintain an active lifestyle. Yes I took a month or so off, not really doing much, but as the weather gets nicer I’m eager to get back into the swing of things. My solution: running.

Running seems like the perfect answer. It’s cheap, I can do it anywhere with little equipment, and it’s a great workout. Motivation is my problem. But in the age of smartphones a solution is rarely more than an app away.

Activities that are measurable and track-able are what I’m drawn to, so naturally I sought out running apps that would allow me to do just that. Here are three that I’m giving a trial run.

MapMyRun (MMR)
This was the first app I downloaded. I’m already part of the ‘ecosystem’ if you will, as I’ve occasionally used MapMyRide for cycling trips.

Love the voice pace/time tracking. Much better than having to reach into my pocket to check the time on my phone. It’s fairly easy to use. The interface is not overly attractive, but functional. I paid the $3 to get rid of the ads. I didn’t think I’d like the sharing feature, but found that it keeps me a bit more accountable.

Had I approached this right, I would have searched for popular running apps before buying one, but that’s just not my style. After using MMR, I decided to see what others were using, and RunKeeper ranked top of the list on many review sites. As an added bonus, it’s free unless you’re a true die hard and want advanced analytics.

Zombies, Run!
And just for fun, why not add a few Zombies to the mix. The premise is you’re in a city overrun by zombies and it’s up to you to rebuild. The app contains multiple missions which you must complete. As you go for your run you collect supplies and avoid zombies, whereby your only option is to run faster. After giving this one a go, I found it a little too distracting on my run. I couldn’t get into that “run zone” you find after a few minutes.

After a few runs using each app, I’ve settled on using Run Keeper. I find the interface the most simple, and it offers training plans without an extra fee.

The Horse Palace

As you may have read, this is my year of being happy. Horseback riding has been my big thing right off the bat to accomplish this goal.The Riding Academy

The Riding Academy offers an adult introductory riding course that runs for 8 weeks out of the Horse Palace, which is on the exhibition grounds. The building itself is a strange, yet wonderful place. Originally built in 1931 to house the Royal Winter Fair, it remains mostly empty for the majority of the year. The Riding Academy is housed along the south wall, with approximately 20 horses. Also housed in the building is the Toronto Police Mounted Unit.

My first visit to the school was a bit surreal. I entered the building through the south west red and black doors adorned. Upon entering the vestibule, I was met with another set of red and black wooden doors. Once through them, I was in a huge – seemingly deserted – building filled with rows and rows of empty stalls. There’s no signage to direct you to the school, so I wandered through a few rows, hearing only my footfalls on the concrete. I ventured up a flight of stairs covered in dust and bits of straw, but came across only more stalls. I returned to the main floor and started my exploration to the back of the building. To my delight, at the very back there was the school. As I turned the corner I was met with a bustling hall, filled with horses and riders tacking up. The entrance is marked with a wrought iron arbor decorated with white Christmas lights. As I walked through, I couldn’t help but feel like I was entering my own fairy tale.

Now that I’ve been a few times, the mystique has faded away, but the complete joy I feel every time I enter is unmistakable.

New Year: Be Happy

Oh my, I have neglected this blog like nobodies business. I suppose I could trot out the usual excuses: it’s been a busy fall; I’ve been working through changes on the home front, etc., etc. However, that would belie the fact that I just haven’t felt the urge to share.

Happily, I’ve made it through the holidays and it’s a fresh new year. A year that I’m pledging to make a good one. I’m not normally a New Year’s Resolution type. I never keep them, and know almost no one who actually does – except for my sister, who shocked me in December when I found out she was still keeping hers. I find it so impressive I actually tell other people she’s managed to do this when others mention no one ever keeps resolutions. I think she’s the first person I know who’s kept a specific resolution all year. Good for you!! – For me, this year is going to be a different story. I’ve made a seemingly simple, and oft admonished, vague resolution: this year, I’m going to try to do anything and everything (within bounds of reason and social acceptance) that makes me happy. This is the year I don’t worry about what others think, that I don’t put things off, that I grab the bull by the horns and do those things that I’ve always wanted to do because they’ll bring a smile to my face. It’s still early days, but so far so good.

These are a few of the things that I’m doing so far that tickle me pink:

1. Riding Lessons at the Riding Academy

I suppose it’s a cliche, but I have always wanted to ride. I’ve even gone so far as to work at a horse stable, but not actually ride. That’s right, I voluntarily chose a job where I picked up horse crap just so I could be near them. Now that I can actually afford the sport, I’ve signed up for adult intro lessons and am loving it! So far it’s covered much of what I had already picked up (in between shovelfuls), but it’s always good to confirm you’re on the right track. And since it’s only week one, there I’m guaranteed to learn much more.

2. Getting Fit for Me

Since last May I’ve been regularly attending Body Buster Fitness -a bootcamp fitness class that’s just awesome – 3x week, and I’ve really started to notice a change. Early on the benefits were apparent: I had more energy. I was considerably less grumpy, and I could sleep like a baby. But now, my hard work seems to be paying off visually: I feel stronger, slimmer, and dare I say, I see a tiny bit of a tricep poking through. I can safely say I’m at the point in my fitness where I want to continue living a healthy lifestyle because it makes me a happier person, not because I want to change how I look. I find making healthier choices  (for the most part) and I’m reaping the benefits. That’s an important moment in a lifestyle change, and I hope to keep doing it.

3. Barreworks

Going along with my desire to stay fit, I’m going to shake up my regular workouts, just for a bit of variety. Enter Barreworks: a spin on the total body workout, BarreWorks incorporates the ballet bar. I have my first class tonight. We’ll see how it goes.

Aside from these kind of big commitments to being happy, I’m going to try to find happiness in the little things. I’ll be tweeting my simple pleasures with #behappy hashtag. Follow along or share your own happy moments. Wishing you all the best in the new year. Make it a happy one.

Chances were slim…but not impossible

Ever the optimist, I gave my self a knitting challenge that I was quite certain I could not accomplish. On August 26 I cast on for a beautiful lace stole pattern, Love on the Edge. It gets it’s name from the beautiful hearts along the outer edges of the stole. When I first saw it I was smitten. The project is so delicate looking. I thought it would be the perfect accessory for an upcoming wedding that I’m attending.

Unfortunately I himmed and hawwed before actually purchasing the pattern and so, didn’t get a start until possibly too late.

The biggest challenge of the project lies in the fact that the pattern is a translation from Dutch. Never before has the adage “lost in translation” been so literal. The pattern doesn’t have the usual verbal flow of a knitted pattern, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the instructions mean.

I’m happy to report that I think I’ve got it mostly figured out, now speed is my only limiter. Sadly, lace knitting is not really known for it’s speedy quality.

Despite my doubts, I bound off my stole last night! Now for a good blocking and it’ll be already to be packed with the rest of my things this weekend!

Stay tuned for blocked photos!

Grinding to a Halt

Last weekend I went to the Knitter’s Fair in KW and it was awesome, in every sense of the word. There was so much yarn-y goodness it was daunting and a bit overwhelming. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to actually commit to a purchase there were so many options (don’t’ worry, I got over that fear).

I took my advice and made (almost) a complete round of the booths before laying down cash. (Yup, I was good and left the plastic at home. ) I tried spend on  yarns or other items that I don’t normally have access to, or yarns that I’ve been dying to try.

Here’s my yarn haul.

String Theory Caper Sock Yarn
Colour: Labradorite
Yarn: Merino 80% Cashmere 10% Nylon 10% (so soft!!)

Skein Sock Yarn
Colour: Sea Salt
Yarn: Merino 85% Nylon 15%

madelinetosh light
Colour: Opaline
Yarn: merino 100% single ply

Now that I have all these new treats, I have ever more project ideas floating around. And not just patterns that I think would maybe be nice to knit, but patterns that I have everything to cast on right now!

Turnalar Socks which I’ll use Cascade Heritage Silk in Italian Plum and Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce for.

Thanks mom….that purple/green colour combination stuck with me. 

Marin, which to be fair, was already in my queue, but now I have the yarn to do it. Methinks madeline tosh light is just the thing.

However…despite having all these fabulous new yarns to play with and new patterns to try out, I can’t. All knitterly endeavours shall be suspended until I finish this shawl.

It’s my Love on the Edge shawl. I’m hoping to will have it finished for an upcoming event. The shawl is beautiful, the yarn is delightful, but the project in general is starting to become the bane of my existence. Nothing like a firm deadline to take the fun out of knitting.

This bag now goes with me everywhere. I’ve been trying to squeeze in a few rows whenever I get the chance. Thankfully, this is paying off and I’m almost done the body. Almost.

Fingers crossed the border isn’t too slow.

KW Knitter’s Fair

It’s on.

Tomorrow is the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter’s Fair.

It’s the perfect chance to see many Canadian knitting vendors all in one spot. It’s my first time attending any sort of fibre festival and I’m so excited. And a little bit nervous. I know that I’m going to be overwhelmed with fibre-y goodness. To keep my emotions (and spending) in check I’ve tried to approach it practically.

Tips for a Successful Fibre Festival

  • Arrive early. Parking is a premium and hiking to the venue is not the best use of yarn shopping time
  • Do a complete tour before making any big purchases. You never know who’s got the best deals.
  • Bring cash. Preferably only as much as you want can afford to spend and leave the credit card at home. You’ll appreciate it later. Yarn fumes can have strange effects on your will power.
  • Bring water/snacks. I tend to get a bit crabby if I don’t have enough of either.
  • Make a list. Sure, you have all kinds of project ideas and must have yarns, but the moment you step across that threshold it’s likely your mind will go blank.

And so, my own list of items to keep an eye out for:

  • Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles: 3mm
  • Solid sock yarn in vibrant colours, not necessarily full skeins.
  • Signature needles (mostly to ogle, not to purchase).
  • Complimentary solid and variegated fingering yarn. 750 yds/840 yds (It’s not too late to start Malice).
  • MCN solid, maybe grey, for Marin