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Friday, March 22, 2013


...indeed I have an FO to share on a Friday. This is Garance.
details are on my Ravelry page here
I'd had my eye on the pattern since it was published last year. Love Julie Hoover's style and I knew I loved the Heichi (this is my fourth sweater knit with that yarn!). But it didn't call my name until I saw this blog post. Whoa. And I was knitting Mix No. 9 at the time and realized that carrying along Silk Cloud wasn't as fiddle-y as I thought it might be. And it was certainly a good sign that I had a sweater's worth of Heichi in my the colorway the pattern suggested.

But as great as all that sounds, what totally sold me was the swatch. Oh my I can't even describe how great the fabric feels. The Silk Cloud takes all the rough edges off the Heichi and leaves behind just silky softness. With a bit of a mohair halo. Truly, it's lovely.

I knit the pattern as written except that I knit the sleeve cuffs 5" shorter since I don't intend to roll them back. Also, I planned only three inches of positive ease (I don't think I'm tall enough to carry off the 6+ inches shown on the pattern!).
the sleeve cuff with just a single layer
three inches of positive ease is plenty, especially with the wide neckline
I finished the knitting last Friday and spent my knitting time on Saturday sewing down the collar, seaming the underarms, weaving in ends and finally wet-blocking. It took over 60 hours to dry...and over that two-plus days, our temperatures dropped from low 70's to 30's and 40's. 

My apologies to all the Atlantans who thought spring was here to stay. Today is still cold. And I'm going to wear the sweater again (yep, four days in a row!)...this time with black pants and a white button-down. Love how versatile this sweater is - it layers beautifully and the color goes with just about anything (I'm especially looking forward to wearing it with my white cropped jeans and a camisole...once it gets a little warmer!)

Also - super cool moments for me to get replies from both Julie and Shibui when I tweeted about the sweater's debut on Tuesday. And a very nice comment on my Ravelry page from Karen, who inspired me to knit it in the first place.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

random thoughts.

...I was delighted that Carole's prompt this week was just what I was wanting to blog about. random thoughts. and because it's Tuesday, this means I'm only sharing ten (lucky you!)
notes I captured this morning about photos/etc to include in Project Life
1. oh my, I have a lot of Project Life to catch up on. as in my last completed week included the Super Bowl. (if you're counting like I am, it's FIVE complete weeks plus a few days. yikes!)

2. wedding shoes. for Katie, Sara and me. Katie is the most urgent; her first dress fitting is next week. thankfully, Sara and I have another eight weeks to find the perfect pair(s).

3. I'm hosting bookclub next Tuesday. thankfully I finished - and loved - the book. but I am caught in that weird place between winter and spring about the menu and can't decide what to fix.

4. taxes are due april 15. our accountant delivered the draft return last week but Marc and I haven't had time to review it.

5. Katie and I joined the Y. now she has a place to swim and I have a place to take classes. I really want to round out my workout but I haven't figured out what that means. Today I ran a fast three miles on the treadmill and then took a pilates class. If my "core" is up for it tomorrow, maybe I'll try yoga.

6. I want to join a running group. my neighborhood group runs on Saturdays but the forecast for this weekend is chilly rain. there's also a group that runs from the Y.

7. Meals to Heal. last month, I agreed to coordinate the ministry at my church and I need to follow-up with our church's chef to see where we're at with our initial list of to-do's. (I'm hoping this isn't an assignment where all I get to do is nag. I hate those).

8. yikes! Google Reader is going away July 1!!! I tried blog lovin' and hated it. I'm now using Lively and I think it might work. (can I vent for five seconds and say why??!! is Google getting out of the reader business??!!)

9. my photos are out of control. iCloud has been so easy... I now have 1,300 photos on my phone and who knows how many gigabytes of photos stored on my computer. Must get a routine established that works. (does anyone use flickr still?)

10. I'm two-thirds through my Lenten yarn & pattern fast. as usual (this is my third year giving up buying yarn and patterns during Lent), some days are easier than others. but in all, I still feel like this is the right discipline for me. (not just because I've spent a little time thinking about what projects I get to start on April 1 :-)

...and there you have it - ten very random things on my mind. right now. and I can't wait to see what the rest of you are thinking about!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

13.1 | done.

...yesterday I ran my first half marathon and finished a minute ahead of my 2:00 goal.

Wow, that's a statement I never would've imagined I'd make (or until last September even want to make) and I'm still trying to get my head around the possibilities it's created.

It was very special to share the event with three of my favorite people.
me, Katie, Sara and Rob (before the race)
Katie, me and Sara (after)... still smiling!
...but I did the run itself on my own (well, along with 14,000 other people and 8,700+ running the same race). It was dark when the race started at 7:00 am (I was in Corral F and crossed the start line about three minutes later) and it was uplifting to see the sun come up over the Atlanta skyline. The race started and finished in Centennial Olympic Park and the course took us mostly east, through the Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Little Five Points, Freedom Parkway, Virginia Highlands, Piedmont Park, Midtown and a final stretch through the Georgia Tech campus (which is a lot hillier than any of us remember!) A great course, and very familiar thanks to those six 2-day walks that cover a lot of the same hills. I met up with the 2:00 pace group about mile 3...whew! I didn't find them at the start line and was really disappointed; after that practice run I was counting on them for not only the pacing, but also the encouragement. They'd started about a minute behind me, though, which meant I needed to finish about a minute ahead of them.  So I left them just after we left Piedmont Park and ran ahead.

The run was tough, but never unbearable.  Love my new Garmin watch (and I especially love that I can read the three numbers - distance, overall time and pace - without my glasses); it was a huge motivator...and a huge comfort. My favorite moment (besides the one when I crossed the finish line) was when I hit 10 miles around 1:30 and realized I could run those last three miles at a 10 minute pace and finish at my goal time. One thing that surprised me was how crowded the course was the whole time...not only runners, but also spectators cheering us on. All that support really made the miles go by quickly.

from Marc  ♥
The support at home and on instagram and iMessage was wonderful too. thank you!

We celebrated all of that with margaritas and mexican food. and then a nap. Pretty much perfect.

So...what's next? More half marathons for sure. Katie & I are planning to run the Atlanta Half on Thanksgiving morning (Sara has already said she'll cook dinner while we run and I think that's a perfect plan!) and the Georgia Half again next spring. We've also signed up for the Peachtree Road Race - a 10k 4th of July Atlanta tradition that I'm very excited to participate in for the first time...since I've lived here for nearly 35 years! and we're scoping out other races. I'm also planning my first run with the local running club next weekend. Like I said, I'm still figuring out the possibilities...

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Friday, March 15, 2013

blog lovin'?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

I'm looking for a replacement for Google Reader and this is the first one I'm trying.

Friday, March 8, 2013

five (favorite) things. marks 67 days that I've taken and posted a daily photo prompted by fatmumslim. today's prompt is favo(u)rite. I guess it's been a great Friday because I had a hard time deciding what to even highlight. and that's when I decided I should probably just blog about five favorite things. a few photos later...I logged in to blogger and saw that my last five things post was also inspired by one of Chantelle's prompts (which led me down a bit of a rabbit hole to see if all the Friday prompts were "five things" types of prompts...and then I remembered the one about what's in my fridge. nope. it's just a coincidence...)
the post I shared on instagram. favorite flower in my favorite color.
in any event here are five of my favorite things about today.

1. Whole Foods is having a huge sale - today only - on tulips. three 10-stem bunches for $10. of course I bought the orange ones. ...and had a few that broke making this big bouquet. found the perfect spot for them.
on my desk...
2. Debbie, my assigned coach at the Y. I had my first coaching session with her first thing this morning. and I was pleasantly surprised. delighted even. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but she's a fit and active older person (like I see myself on the good days) and she really listened to me and made worthwhile suggestions about my fitness routine. I signed up for a follow-up appointment the first week of April so we can map out a strength training program.

3. I got to spend a big chunk of the day with Katie (and a bit with Sara and Rob) on wedding stuff. All of it went very well. and a lot of it was really delicious.
shared on instagram. petite desserts. um yum.
4. My new hot air popper works great (and since Marc's away ... my favorite spot really is a mess of knitting and papers and stuff, but it's OK).
yes, a half cup of kernels really does make a lot of popcorn!

...the rest of the counter.
5. I'm going to get this post done and then devote my evening to knitting. First up, the Thursday and Friday lessons from Ysolda's class...all about swatching. And then, DVR'd TV (have you seen Parade's End yet? I'm not getting my hopes up...too much!) and the first sleeve on Garance.
yarn rolled. needles ready. time to swatch!
What favorite moment(s) do you have to share from today?


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hello March! happy to see you! (and thanks to Carole's prompt this week, I know a lot of my friends are, too).

As usual, I'm welcoming spring with a new blog banner and a new color scheme...and while that usually means flowers and/or blue skies...this year it's rain boots. yep, I'm trying to go more with the flow and hey, they're pink. with lots of tiny flowers. (and they keep my feet dry. and they coordinate with holly's pink collar...which didn't make the crop for the banner but you can see it all below).
the banner photo...uncropped
and that, dear March, is reason #1 I love you. a fresh spring-y look on a (by now anyway) drab winter landscape.

here are the other nine reasons I'm so glad to see you:

2. forsythia, dogwood and azalea blooms. it's still a bit early to capture them, but I know by the time you leave, they'll be everywhere.

3. asparagus. my favorite vegetable. finally abundant and fresh at every store.

4. daylight savings time. I honestly can't believe I'm even writing this one down because I am a dark early bird and losing that hour of sleep on Sunday is going to make me cranky (really cranky), but adding that extra hour of daylight on Monday, when I teach class til 8pm...makes me realize summer is really just around the corner.

5. the Georgia/Publix half marathon (not even bothering to link this one again!). I'm running it for the first time on March 17th. and I'm saying it here now, I plan to make this a fixture on my March calendar going forward.

6. March Madness. I know. I've only half-watched two (?maybe) games this whole season. I still love to fill out my bracket and keep score. maybe this year I'll get lucky and all those teams I randomly choose...will win!

7. spring break. Georgia Tech's spring break is always in March, usually the third week. and I realized as I was putting this list together that I have only two more to go. 2013 and 2014. so that makes me especially happy that Sara emailed she'd like to spend the first part of her break here (to eat and sleep well in preparation for our half-marathon :-) and I'm not going to let myself wonder what I'll do in 2015 when spring break is just a holiday for other people.

8. lighter knitting. I knit for the seasons and warmer temperatures mean lighter weight yarns. I finished my last winter cowl and noticed that my knitting bag is lighter. I now really understand why wool is warm. it's heavy! the mostly silk I'm knitting now is much easier on my shoulders.

9. 31 days. seriously. February seemed super short and I'm so glad you're a full-on 31 days...which brings me to:

10. Ordinary Time. I know you've got Easter this year (on the very last day), but usually you are a month without birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, you name it. nothing. and after five months of celebrating all those things, I'm ready for the Ordinary Time. 

Truly, March - I'm glad you're here! and I'm looking forward to the good times we'll share.

xo - M.
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

(almost) 13.1.

the mapped route - 12.9 miles training plan called for an 11 mile run today, but last week, I got a reminder email about a "course run". and convinced katie to join me. as late as yesterday, neither of us thought we'd run the full course. but then, in the crazy dark early hours pre-start, we kind of both said "maybe". and when we got there - and got caught up in the excitement and energy - and I found a 2:00 pace group and encouraged katie to find something faster... she did and we decided. to go for it. (let me mention here - it was 36 degrees and snow flurries were forecast for the morning. it was cold, but we'd run together in colder).

I started out with my earbuds in, listening to my iphone and an encouraging playlist I'd made a few springs ago... remembering all the advice to stick with the pace and resist the urge to break through to less crowded track. about a mile in I felt my right shoe come loose...and a mile later my left as well (ugh. shoe laces??) so when we hit the first stop light I tore off my gloves, set down my phone and tied those laces tight. in the process of getting back up and getting those gloves back on my ten fingers, my phone flew out of my pocket, the earbuds jerked from my ears...and I decided to just run. and that's when the real fun began.

Why not strike up a conversation? yep, I started chatting with the folks in my pace group. turns out one was a woman I'd worked with about seven years ago. she's done marathons all over the world and today's run was regular training for her (after our 13 miles, she had another four to go - she's running a marathon in big sur in april). we chatted about all sorts of things and I have a feeling I held her back a few times, but she made me feel like a real runner and those (almost) 13 miles went by pretty fast. ellen, if you ever read this - you have a special place in my heart for keeping me company on those miles I ran today, especially 10+ when I realized "hey, this is the farthest I've run. ever" and you said "see?!".

We finished in two hours and now that I've mapped the course, I know we were a bit shy of the actual 13.1. but who cares. I'm confident now that I can run that full distance. and I even think I can do it in two hours. I've got friends in that pace group and I know they'll cheer me on. along with a whole lot of other people!
Post-race (in just two short weeks!) our plans are a warm shower and Pure. today, katie and I hit lululemon at perimeter. I bought a long-sleeved shirt to layer over a (lulelemon) tank and running pants I bought on sale last summer (and this afternoon I've been looking at garmin watches). I figure it's time I start dressing the part...and planning my next half!


Friday, March 1, 2013

another month of grace. in wow, it's March already and there's another prompt up for Ali's class...but before I start that, I'd like to share what I did for February.

Ali's prompt was to create a vision board. I was really excited when I watched the video back on February 1 and immediately spent a few hours poring through magazines and catalogs...but Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, Traditional Home and Pottery Barn weren't as full of grace as I'd hoped. So I let it sit for while and even visited the bookstore and leafed through a few other magazines to see if they were more inspiring. Nope. So it sat a bit longer. Until last weekend when I finally sorted through all the pages I'd ripped and realized it really was enough. I blocked out time this week to get out my scissors and glue and I did buy a 16x20 canvas, but I had a jar of soft gel medium (from a few years ago; how it survived the scrapping purge is a mystery!).

I started by sorting the pile of pages again...a pile to use and a pile to discard.
the discard pile - I hated that the twinkle lights ended up there, but I couldn't find a place for them!
Then, following Ali's advice, I separated the pile to use into big images and words (and trimmed them all).  I arranged the images first.

And then adhered them. The soft gel worked ok on the paper, but not so great on the heavy cardstock. I ended up not being able to use that piece I'd planned for the lower right, but I got to use the twinkle lights instead (I was glad I hadn't actually thrown away my discard pile).

And finally added the words. Here's the finished piece.

I do need to get some Elmer's glue to clean up the edges (handily cropped smooth for this photo!), but otherwise it's done. and I will definitely do it again. I could see it being an annual process and how cool would it be to have a collection of these 16x20 canvases??!!

And then the intentions and actions I planned back in January.  February's intention was to accept grace, inspired by this verse
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. - 2 Corinthians 6:1 NRSV
working together. I wanted to dive into my Deacon Care Team assignment and start a Lenten devotional journal. and I did both.

My Care Team is Sympathies and Celebrations; it's a lot about prayer support and connecting with the congregation. I've written a lot of notes and a few emails and delivered flowers. I'm enjoying all of it (although I'm still getting used to having such a long prayer has seemed overwhelming some days). I also volunteered to lead our Meals to Heal ministry (providing prepared frozen meals to folks who need them). The ministry has been around for a few years, but it's under-utilized (our congregation is nearly 1,000 members and we delivered less than two dozen meals last year). After a few discussions, I think all it needs is a good communication campaign and a little bit of Excel to track the usage. [if any of y'all have ideas/experience with similar ministries, please share!]  I'm glad I had this intention so early in the year...I'm not sure I would've said "yes" to another commitment without it.

For my devotion, I'm reading N.T. Wright's Lent for Everyone: Luke, Year C...on my kindle. This is my first experience reading a book like this, which I expect to mark up a lot, make notes, etc., without having a "real" book. So far, it's going well. I have a little moleskin tucked into the inside pocket of my kindle cover so I have a place to write notes, and I'm getting a lot more comfortable highlighting the text (I guess it's helping me get more comfortable reading on my kindle altogether). It helps that Wright includes the scripture in the book so I don't have to look it up separately. This is my first time reading one of his books, and I am really enjoying it. He makes it so approachable, and he has great insights to share. I've had a few aha moments and look forward to more.

and now I'm excited to begin a new month, inspired by the half-marathon on March 17th and this verse:
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.- Hebrews 4:16 NRSV
bold grace. train. encourage. run!