31 December 2008

Redhawks? Blackwings?

Last night I was watching a hockey game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. Chicago came into the game with a nine game winning streak. They left having been bageled. (That's a tennis term I got from Husband, they got beat 4-0 and 0 looks like a...) This reminded me of one of the adventures that I had in October but didn't get to writing down.

Daughter, Brother, the Meschke, Kevin and I went to see the Red Wings and the Blackhawks play at the United Center. I should point out that Daughter and I live in the Chicago area, but we tend to be Red Wings fans. Daughter was a little peeved that the majority of the fans were booing the Wings and chanting things that I can't necessarily reprint in a family friendly blog. She also had a hard time keeping the names of the teams straight. She kept talking about the Redhawks, much to the amusement of the rest of the party.

This being my first professional hockey game, I learned a couple of things. First, 23,000 people can make a lot of noise. Second, Daughter can go through giant soft pretzles like nobody's business. Third, when they take a TV time out, scantily clad girls skate out and shovel off the ice that's been shaved off. I forgot to take a picture of them, but I did get a picture of everyone's favorite part of a hockey game...

It was a very exciting game, with both teams having a lead, then losing it, and so on until they were tied at the end of the third period. They played the overtime period and were still tied. They played the shootout and each scored one goal. Finally in the sudden death shootout Marian Hossa scored and the Red Wings finally won the game 6-5.

It was a very good choice as a first pro hockey game for me, and the first ever hockey game for Daughter.

In more recent news, I may have finished my sweater. I'm not sure that I like the neck, so I may be revisiting this, but I'll wear it once before I decide.

28 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Why, yes, now that you ask, it has been a few days since I last visited the blogosphere. Through one circumstance or another, I've found myself not keeping track of the little anecdotes that have been happening around me, and have thus had not much to report. I have been assured, however, that there are actually people (who never leave comments I might add) who do occasionally peruse my little musings, and who would like me to keep them informed in a more timely manner of the things that are going on in my little corner of Chicagoland.

The most recent event, of course, was the annual Van Kosky Chirstmas. Mom, Sister-In-Law, and I rotate houses and this year we found 8 extra people sleeping in our house.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, mostly because I like to be surrounded by family that I don't get to see very often. This year all of the travelers chose to drive into town on the snowiest day we have had yet. The Marquette to Chicago trip, which usually takes 8 hours maximum, took Mom & Dad 13 hours. The Detroit to Chicago route was a little faster, with average speeds of 50 miles per hour. Both groups reported a lot of cars spun out and in the ditch. The Detroit contingent reported that the majority of the vehicles that were off of the road were pickup trucks or 4 wheel drive vehicles. We imagined that the internal dialogue in the driver's head went something like, "I can go faster than the rest of these guys, I'VE got 4 wheel drive!"

Christmas morning started at 7:00, which for our family is a bit of a late start. The children dug into a huge mound of presents which they doled out to the rightful recipients. We then took turns opening one at a time, from youngest to oldest. We finally opened the last one at 10:00.

The traditional Christmas dinner for us is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. As of 11:00 in the morning, that and some form of shrimp was all I had planned for dinner. By the time we actually sat down to eat there was so much food it wouldn't all fit on the table. We need to have a fairly wide variety because: 1. Niece and Nephew are both alergic to dairy, so no milk, butter, cream, etc. for them. 2. Nephew is alergic to peanuts. 3. Sister-In-Law doesn't like most forms of meat. So the person doing the cooking is actually making several meals all at once. I may prove myself to be a geek, but for me it requires charts and lists to make it all come together at the right time. Well, to be perfectly honest it was about 1.5 hours late to the table because I miscalculated how long it would take to cook the roast. All in all, it was a very successful Christmas.

My gift from Neice was a kit for making a bath mit. In between cooking tasks I managed to had enough time to get it whipped up and ready to go.

(Blurry because I had to turn the flash off in order to make the leaf show up.)

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as well!

14 October 2008

Where's the Knitting?

The following message was found on the floor in the craft room this morning.

Dear Kathy,

We were all very excited over a year ago when we found out that you were going to be writing a knitting blog. We were all looking forward to having our pictures taken as you changed us from balls and skeins into sweaters, hats, mittens, or whatever else struck your fancy. It's true that the acrylic yarns in the back were a little hesitant; they were afraid that the wool and alpaca were going to make them look bad. I think we can all agree though, that most of the things you've done with us have turned out quite nicely.

Not too long after you started blogging, we noticed that there were non-knitting stories beginning to creep in. We didn't mind at all because although we take up a lot of your life, we do understand that you have to spend an hour or two each day with your humans. So we let it slide when you talked about your vacations. We didn't even point out that most knit-bloggers take sock pictures when they go on vacation. We aren't so self -centered that we have to have every entry feature us.

Unfortunately we feel that now we have to take a stand. It has been weeks since you featured us in a post. Have we somehow insulted you? Done something to make you angry? If we have done something that has made you unhappy with us, please let us know what the problem is. We can change, if only you let us know what is wrong.

Hoping to be back in your good graces again,
Your Yarn

My response

It's not you, it's me. I've let other things get in the way of our once happy relationship. I do value the time I spend with you, and i promise that I'll do better in the future. In order to start making amends I provide you with these:

A finished pair of entresocks and...

The beginning of a sweater. I don't have an actual pattern, I'm just making things up as I go along. We'll see how it turns out.

07 October 2008

Best Time in 23 Years!

The big race was held Sunday morning at the Morton Arboretum. It was a great day for a run; it was cool, the sun was just coming up (although I forgot to bring my sunglasses with me which made the first half of the race less pleasant,) and the predicted rain didn't come in until after lunchtime.

We got to the arboretum at about 7:00 in the morning. It was on the cool side, so everyone was bundled up, especially the spectators. The race didn't start till 8, so after I picked up my timing chip we wandered around a little. Dad picked out a good shooting location, and he and Daughter looked at some of the scarecrows that various local schools had created. This one was my favorite:

"Pirates of the Arboretum"

As it got close to 8:00 we all gathered up behind the starting line. They asked us to line up based on how fast we were. They suggested that the people in front should be in the 5.5 minutes/mile category. I lined up just in front of the walkers. I assume the race started on time, but I have no way of knowing for sure because I didn't hear anything. The announcer did mention over the microphone that the race had started and that those of us in the back would begin moving soon.

So we were off. Turns out I put myself a little too far back in the pack because I spent the first 5 minutes tripping over the people in front of me. Here are some of them:

Dad and Daughter were on a curve where the first good passing area was. In the photo above you see people running on the grass trying to improve their position. Dad said that they started out right next to the road, but kept having to move back to get out of the way of the grass runners. I was on the other side of the road but saw D&D so I got as far over to their side as I could.

(Note: I apologize to runner number 1048. I'm sure this picture does you no justice at all, but it's the only "good" picture of me from this location.)

The race course was described in the advertising as a "rolling" course. It did have a few small ups and downs, the most unpleasant of the ups coming just after the 2 mile mark. I was a bit disappointed to see an octogenarian pushing a stroller pass me at that point in the race. Yes, there were people racing while pushing strollers. Yes, 6 of the passed me. (And keep in mind they all started out behind the walkers.)

I saw many interesting things. I saw junior high kids charging past me, I saw one woman rolling on the ground, apparently with a muscle cramp, I saw 2 people at the 2 mile mark who had already finished the race and had turned around and were running back the other direction. At least they were nice enough to be shouting encouraging words to all of us lumps in the middle.

I finally saw the 3 mile mark ( the race is 3.1 miles) and remembering what Mr. Phillips, our long distance coach always told us, I put on a last burst of speed so I could "finish strong."

And the outcome of my first race in 23 years? I came in 827th out of 1353 runners. I was the 377th woman, and I was number 58 out of 103 women in my age bracket. My time was not quite as good as in high school, but not bad considering I have only been training for a month. I ran the whole shebang in 32 minutes, 15.7 seconds.

20 September 2008

Doing My Civic Duty

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. I encountered something that I don't think I have ever encountered before. I was instrumental in thwarting an attempted murder.

As I've mentioned before, I signed up to do a 5K run in October, and have been running several times each week to get ready. My route takes me to the Busse Woods Forest Preserve trail.

My usual run is across the yellow on the bottom of the map, up the grey, then turn around and come back. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 miles. The yellow piece is partly freeway overpass, and partly a section of very heavy underbrush in a low semi-swampy area.

Yesterday I started out as usual, ran to where the red trail starts, turned around and made it as far as the middle of the yellow trail. As I was running along, minding my own business, the victim came running full speed out of the brush on the left and took off into the brush on the right. About 5-10 seconds after he went by the "alleged" attacker came running up to the trail, saw me coming, turned around and took off full steam to wherever he came from. There wasn't anybody else on the trail, so I'm taking full credit for being the cause of him breaking off his chase.

I got a pretty good look at the victim because when he ran off to my right he was in a fairly open area. He was about my height and had short brown hair. The one chasing him was pretty short and had red/grey hair. Obviously I didn't get a great look at them, what with them both running and all, but these are pretty good aproximations:



The deer was an 8 point buck and I was very surprised to see him running across a pretty well traveled bike/jogging path at 10:00 in the morning. The mystery was cleared up when I saw the coyote come running up, then turn around and take off. I've seen many a white tailed deer, but this was my first coyote in the wild.

13 September 2008

Chance of Showers

It rained a little last night and this morning.

08 September 2008

But it's Full of Protein

Setting the Scene: Back in the really old days when I was in high school I was on the cross country and track teams. I was a reasonably good sprinter and an adequate long distance runner. Since graduating from high school I've run to catch a wayward child, I've run to grab a shopping cart before it bashed into a car, and I've run from the car to the mall when it was raining out. I have not run for "fun" in over 20 years. I was recently in a New Balance store waiting for my husband to pick out some new tennis shoes. While I was there I saw a brochure for a 5K run on October 5 at the Morton arboretum. I decided on the spur of the moment that I should sign up for the run and get back into running.

Over the past two weeks I have gone out running 9 times. I've slowly worked my way up from about 3/4 of a mile to around 3. I've generally been going out in the morning after getting Daughter off to school. Yesterday I went out for the first time in the evening because I hadn't had a chance earlier in the day.

There are a lot of good reasons to run in the evening. It was nice and cool, so I didn't overheat or get dehydrated. There was a lot of wildlife out. I saw at least 9 deer, including one fawn and one big buck. The evening chorus of birds, crickets, cicadas, and frogs is very nice to listen to. The running path wasn't crowded with other runners or bikers.

There are, however, a couple of reasons why evening is not the best time to go running. First, the sun is going down earlier and earlier, so even though I left the house at 7:15, it was pretty well dark out by the time I got back home.

Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, you can't see the bugs. Now I don't mind bugs too much. I grew up in the middle of the woods so I'm very familiar with what it's like to have a plague of insects hovering around. In this part of the world we don't really have that many bugs. We do, however, have plenty of gnats. They're very small and easy to miss under the best of circumstances, and jogging in the growing darkness is not the best of circumstances. In the half hour I was out I had 2 fly into my left eye, and another 2, well...

they'd go well in this book.

04 September 2008

Gauge Schmauge

There are days when I think that I am a pretty good knitter. I can make a pair of socks without looking at a pattern, I can whip up a sweater for a small child in no time at all. I can even make a pretty nice lace shawl if i feel like it.

Sadly, the fact that I CAN turn out a nice piece of work does not in any way guarantee that I WILL turn out a nice piece of work. The following illustrates this point.

When I was at Stitches I purchased some lovely suri alpaca yarn to make a beautiful lace top out of. Go ahead and click on the link to the top so you know what it's supposed to look like. I was very excited to start working on this, so I got out the needles, glanced at the first page of the pattern (level of experience, size, materials, gauge, lace pattern, techniques) then got started on page 2. Cast on 197 stitches. Let me tell you, casting on 197 stitches using lace weight yarn on size 9 circular needles takes a little time. I counted probably 6 times before I decided that all my stitches were there. Then came the daunting task of joining them all together making sure there weren't any twists around the needles. I managed it after about an hour, and after knitting the first 2 rows I was certain that I hadn't gotten any twists in there. If you're not a knitter, take my word for it, it's not easy.

So I spent the next few days working on my Gracie Top watching the lace take shape and the length grow. Then yesterday I got to thinking. "You know, it seems like the stockinette part on the model I saw at Stitches was a little tighter than this. What does the photo on the website look like? ... Hmm, that does look tighter than mine. Now that I think about it, there does seem to be a lot of fabric bunched up on my 32 inch needles. Maybe I should check my gauge."

Any knitter reading may feel free to begin laughing hysterically at this point, because you know where this is going.

I got out my measuring device and used the highly unscientific method of measuring what was hanging off the needles. There are supposed to be 20 stitches in 4 inches. I had about 14. So today I got a long piece of dental floss and took my wonderful work off the needles and strung it on floss so I could get a general idea of how far off I was.

Pretty far. Does anyone need a nice lace coverup for their big screen TV?

02 September 2008

Summer Rehash

So, since I didn't get to keep you up to date on the summer as it went on, I figure I'll just go back and relive some of the highlights.

Every year we go camping with a group of people in the mid-June timeframe. It gets planned 11 months in advance so that we can get the campsites we want. Some years it works out better than others, but it is a lot of fun. This year's trip was certainly worth mentioning.

When we make our reservations we make them for Thursday through Sunday. This year on the Thursday we were supposed to leave there was torrential rain in the area of the campground. The campground was actually closed because of flooding in parts of the park, so we were out of luck for Thursday.

Early Friday there were a lot of phone calls and plans being made and changed, but we ended up with campsites, in a different park. Luckily for us the new park was much closer to our house than the one we originally had reservations at. So instead of staying at Devil's lake, we went to Rock Cut State Park.

We were the 3rd or 4th group to arrive, so we got to choose a nice spot under a tree.
Last year we ended up with the least shaded campsite in the area, so this was a nice change.

After most of the families had arrived and all the tents were pitched we went for a little stroll on one of the walking paths.

We even managed to pick up a stray kid who's father didn't have any problem with a completely unknown group of people take his kid wandering around in the woods for an undetermined amount of time.

One of the families got there early, but had to take a quick stop at the emergency room within 5 minutes when their little guy had a bit of a problem.

He was fine, but it was not a great way to start the trip.

The second day we spent a good deal of time at the boating/fishing lake. No swimming allowed.

After spending the afternoon paddleboating and canoeing around the lake we returned to the campground where there was a stray branch growing straight down from one of the trees. There were a lot of people swinging on it,

trying to climb it,

and successfully making it up to the main branch.

After the evening around the campfire we went back to our tent, climbed into our sleeping bags, and discovered that there is a racetrack about 2 miles from the park where they have races on Saturday nights. It didn't really blend well with the crickets and cicadas.

Sunday morning we awoke to the sounds of thunder and rain. Since this was our first time camping with this particular tent, it was nice to discover that it is, indeed, waterproof, at least in non-hurricane conditions. The rain let up briefly, but when I called home to have Son check the forecast we learned that it was probably going to rain all day long, so we packed up and went home.

We've already got our reservation for Devil's Lake for next year, so if you're there around June 20 stop in and say hello. We'll be in the big blue and yellow tent with the knitting lady sitting out front.

30 August 2008

Stitches Report, Part 2

The Loot

This is what I came home with from Stitches. I would like to say that there were actually 2 things that I was looking for that I didn't find, so it could have been worse. I'll start on the left and work my way to the right.

First, from Daughter's favorite booth, I got some Suri Alpaca and a pattern for a lace top. I started it yesterday, and after spending a little more time than should have been necessary figuring out the pattern, I've got the first repeat of the lace done.

Next there's some Tofutsies and the socks that are nearly done.

From Woolstock I got a pattern for a shawl I can make with some Noro I got last year, as well as a bag of Ella Rae for myself, and a bag of Katia Nordic Print for Daughter.

From Webs, I got two bags of Geode wool. When I was checking out there was one man putting the items into bags and telling the other man what was being purchased so he could write up the sales slips. Everyone got a chuckle out of it when the bagger told the slipper that I got two bags of "Gee Oh Dee" yarn. (Correct pronunciation is Gee Ode for those not familiar.)

The more astute among you may notice that there is a shawl kit in there that's very familiar to one I bought last year. (It's from Just Our Yarn.) I ended up participating in an online knitters' tea swap in the spring, and while I was able to get all of the non-knitting gifts together, I didn't get the yarn in time. My person's blog made it quite clear that she was very into lace shawls, so last year's kit flew to Georgia. I've replaced it with a blue one, which will probably suit me better as I am most often wearing jeans during shawl weather anyway.

There are a couple of other skeins of sock yarn which can be blamed on the Yarn Harlot. She uses a lot of Trekking, so when I saw a skein I had to try it out for myself, and I also got a skein of Knitters Without Borders from the Blue Moon Socks that Rock collection. The Harlot started KWB to encourage knitters to donate to the Doctors Without Borders program.

Daughter was oohing and ahhing over some knit necklaces at Bagsmith's table on Friday afternoon, so I bought one for her on Saturday afternoon and made it for her on Saturday night. It's a very quick knit.

Last, I think, was the stuff from Yarn Place. I got a skein of Graceful Lace Yarn, and two bags of Bel Canto DK.

After this trip, I shouldn't need to buy anything for quite a while. Although, there were those two things that I was looking for that I didn't find...

25 August 2008

Stitches Report, Part 1

All told, the Fibreholic and I spent 2 pretty full days at Stitches Midwest. Day 1 was Friday, during which we went through the market (buying almost nothing I might add) and Janet took a class on Estonian Patent stitches. When I went back to pick her up, I brought Daughter with me. She had a grand time looking at everything,

hiding from me behind walls of wool

and generally entertaining everyone there with her unceasing chatter.

Day 2 found the Fibreholic and I both taking a class on knitting math, which was wonderful as I now know how to figure out increase and decrease math. It was taught by the lovely Edie Eckman who very graciously held my sock.

Edie has a new book out with 144 crochet motifs which is very cool, but which I did not purchase because I do not crochet. During the break in the middle of class, I noticed this when I went out in the hall:

That is a very small portion of the crowd waiting to get into the market when the doors opened.

After class we went to the market ourselves, and this time we did some damage to the credit cards. Shortly after we started shopping I learned that we weren't supposed to take any pictures while we were in the market, but I'll show you this one anyway. This was the feeding frenzy around one vendor's 50%-or-more-off bin.

After several hours of shopping (the fruits of which I will show you tomorrow) we went to the student banquet, which is the show where they invite the students to model their own creations. The food was really good

and we all got at least one gift to bring home. I walked away with a Trendsetter Yarns woven fabric mesh scarf kit. It was a great experience, as it always is, and I'm glad that Knitters decided to hold it in the convention center that is a 10 minute drive from my house.

22 August 2008

Stitches Time

It's the Stitches Midwest time of year again. Knitters from all over the globe have descended on the Chicago area to attend. I know this for a fact, because a very nice Canadian Lady showed up at my house yesterday for that very reason. Well, OK, she didn't show up at my doorstep, I went to the airport to pick her up, but you get the idea. She told me many months ago that the only time she had been in Chicago was when she had a connecting flight out of O'Hare, so all she had seen was miles of airport concourse. I'm not a Chicago native, but I'm pretty sure there are better ways to experience this city than wandering around the airport.

Instead of wandering the corridors of our huge air facility, I signed us up for a Segue tour of Chicago. We arrived at the showroom and found these waiting for us:

After a safety video which was clearly intended to avoid lawsuits and NOT to make the customers comfortable with riding these things, we pushed them across the street to the park and got our "On the Job Training."

That's one of the three Kathys in our group of 7, along with Alex our very energetic tour guide. It was clear that Alex enjoyed his job, although he was much more into the playing on the Segue part, and not quite as much on the historical facts piece of the job.

We got to see Buckingham Fountain (if you've ever watched Married, With Children, you've see this in the opening credits.

We went out around the planetarium and saw the skyline:

That's Henry, by the way, who's a bit of a mad man on a Segue.

Then we headed for Grant Park:

Alex told us that Grant park (and everything east of Michigan Avenue) was actually created after the Great Chicago Fire. There was so much debris that they didn't know what to do with it, so they pushed the whole lot of it into the lakeshore, then covered it up with dirt. They apparently were not quite as ecologically friendly back then.

We ended up at the Art Institute.

And naturally when we were done we had Alex hold our socks:

It was a very fun experience, we got to see a lot of the waterfront area (although we didn't make it to the Bean, which we were hoping to do) and we learned a thing or two about Chicago.

But today, my friends, we shop.