26 February 2014

WIP: Orchid Cowl

It feels like forever since I had a real project on the needles. I've had this one planned for a while, but I kept putting it off. First it was because I had to finish my mother's mittens, then it was because I didn't have the right needles, then it was because I had lost the right size crochet hook for the provisional cast-on... Excuses excuses! I finally just decided to cast this one on for the RRG2014 on Ravelry (TEAM MEEN REPRESENT), hoping to at least get halfway through the pattern before the end of the Olympics but alas, no dice. I didn't even make it through the first lace section! I did, however, learn to do a provisional cast-on flawlessly. Casting on 3 times before making it through even the first repeat without mistakes will do that to you.

The lace part of the pattern is really easy to memorise, but despite that I keep messing up! Sad, really. I can't even pay attention to a pattern for 42 stitches a row. I blame the speed skating. Was way too exciting. I'm now done with the first lace section and can begin the stockinette and garter stitch sections now. So I should be able to speed things up a bit now! 

The yarn I'm using is Cascade 220 Heritage in maroon. It's soft, squishy, nicely saturated, smooth, and doesn't seem like it's splitty at all! I originally bought it, along with two skeins in black, for a cardigan to wear at my wedding, but that plan sort of fell by the wayside as 8 weeks was a little short on time for me to learn how to knit lace, not to mention a garment with armhole shaping, waist shaping and buttonholes, all things I hadn't (and still haven't) done before. So the yarn has been in my stash ever since, and I've been trying to come up with plans to use it for different projects. This should take exactly one skein, so one down, two to go!

3 February 2014

And this is why I don't run very fast.

This little lake is right around the corner of my house. It used to be a location I dreaded during my teenage years (over a decade ago, I'm getting old!), because the path around it (all 4.6 km of it) was the backdrop for a lot of PE-induced anguish. We had to run around the lake for a grade. Oh, how I hated it! I always got a 5.5 out of 10, the lowest possible score for a passing grade, because I figured out exactly how fast to walk to make it to the finish line just before the time ran out. I ran as little as possible, because ugh, running!

It's an eerie place in the dark, this lake. Most of the surrounding grounds are wooded areas with a thick undergrowth of brambly tangles and pointy branches that you do not want to fall into (trust me on that one). The cycling path between the lake and the canal was the fastest route home from the train station, and when it was dark I used to speed up until I was almost out of breath just to get through it quicker. One time, in the midst of winter, I ran a flat tire just as I left the path and while I was waiting for my mother to pick me up, I huddled up in the middle of the deserted path, despite the wind blowing right through my coat and the snow coming down in thick clumps, because I was too scared to find shelter near the tree line, where the gnarled stumps were all overblown with snow and ice hung from the branches instead of leaves. In the right light, it must have been beautiful, but in the dark, with just the light from the occasional passing car and the distant street lights, it was actually terrifying.

In the past few years though, I've come to realise that this little lake and its surrounding paths can be quite beautiful and peaceful. When I took the panorama above, it was drizzling quietly and the only sound I could hear was the soft hiss of the rain falling on the lake's surface, and the occasional quack from ducks that swam over to see if I had anything to eat. It won't surprise you that on a nice Sunday morning, this path is full of people going for a walk, runners, cyclists, and people walking their dogs or their kids.

The past few weeks, this path has also become my running route. I'm back to running outside and I love it! I bought some cold weather running gear (soft, thick leggings and a shirt and a wind and rain-proof running jacket), so I'm well prepared for the cold temperatures. Or, well, I say 'well prepared', I think I'm well prepared, but the cold that hits me when I first step out the door is still a bit of a shocker. Brrrr... And to think, it's not even below freezing temperatures here! But as soon as I start running, and turn the corner on my route that takes me towards the lake, I no longer feel the cold. I feel the thrill of running instead! If only I had experienced that 10 years ago, I would have started running a lot sooner!