Monday, August 30, 2010

dropping by to say, "hi"



Still here... But way too busy to blog much. Don't worry, I'm still knitting and buying yarn.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Long Overdue Ride2Survive Part 2

Sorry again...I promised I'd post the second half of the Ride2Survive ride and I haven't. Part 1 left off at the summit of the Coquihalla highway...

We hit rain from the old toll booths to the corner near Zopkios Brake check (that's that rest stop just before the big down hill). For those who don't know the area, that's about 3/4 of a mile where it rained. It was a nice cooling rain...not the "oh boy...here we go again" kind of rain.

I'd spent the previous few days on the phone with various authorities responsible for maintaining the highways and getting an update on the construction that was happening on the steep downhill known as "Snowshed Hill". We would have to keep our speed to 60kph/40mph through the construction zone. That may sound fast, but on a 4km/2.5mile stretch of road that is more than 8% downhill, and has parts at 11% that's brake-cookingly slow. We made it down safe and sound and entered the tunnel. Soon after the tunnel the wind we'd been missing for the last 3 hours appeared full force.

We were riding downhill into a ferocious headwind and the group began to split up. Folks at the front were rolling at 35kph, and I had teamed up with Chris to try and pull the back of the group up. The problem was, we couldn't go more than about 32kph. Riders behind me couldn't stay with me if I went any faster, and I couldn't go much faster myself pushing into that headwind. I got on the radio and tried to get the lead pilot car to slow up, but we still couldn't close the gap very quickly. We were most of the way down the hill and the wind was still blowing hard when we finally closed the gap. I was exhausted.

We pulled off onto Othello Road to take the back way into Hope and were finally out of the wind. It's a nice winding road that's generally not very busy because there's a 110kph/65mph highway "just over there" that goes to the same place. The road winds along the river and finally has a nasty little uphill section about 400m/1/4mile at 10% before the gentle "coast" into Hope.

I'd been feeling pretty good up to this point in the ride, and the group's morale had been fantastic. We got real quiet at the bottom of this climb and the words of encouragement were called out to riders struggling as we neared the top. I saw Al pushing Vicki up the last part of the hill and smiled - there's a running joke Vicki and I have about our love for hills. So there we were about 3/4 of the way up this grunt of a hill, and that's where it really stopped going well for me. My right abductor started to cramp. Don't worry if you don't know where that is...I had to cramp it before I found out I had one. Actually you have two. If you put your hand, palm down on the top of your thigh, your thumb lands on the inside of your thigh. That's your abductor. I found myself trying to pedal a bike up this hill while being unable to push the right pedal. I got a little further up the hill pushing with only my left leg and was driving my right thumb into my thigh to stop the cramp. It wasn't working...I called to Al to give me a hand and he started to push me up the hill.

I couldn't pedal any more...my right thigh was cramping up just from being pushed around by the pedal, so I had to ask Al to push me while I stopped pedaling. So there we were...Al pedaling for both of us to get the last 50m over the hill, and I was bruising my thigh to stop a cramp. I pretty-much coasted into Hope with occasional pushes from Al to keep my speed up, and I headed straight for the food after carefully dismounting from my bike. "I must be running out of electrolytes" I thought. (In hindsight, I may have been over-dosed on the electrolytes.) I had some potato chips, some chicken noodle soup, some water...and tried to stretch my cramping leg.

There was a lady from our local community TV channel filming a documentary on the ride. There's a clip of me in the program, sitting on a park bench eating and I'm asked,

"How do you feel?"

"Tired and proud." I reply. Five minutes later, I was sitting on the grass, unable to move either leg. Both my quadriceps and my other abductor were cramping. The wheels had fallen off, and I would not be leaving Hope on my bike.

The picture here sets the scene. Danika is there with her camera to the left. Al's in the foreground with his shoes off and the white socks. I'm sitting on the park bench in the background frantically shoveling food into my face.

The next photo has Dotty taking a picture of Gladys and me. See I'm still smiling.

And then I've tracked down
the Massage Therapist who

was a volunteer on the ride to help. The paramedics have given me a heat pad for my muscle and it's not really helping.

We take a group photo in Hope of all the riders and volunteers together. I couldn't stand up to get myself over there. So, Kelsey, Kerry and
Ray carried me over and set me down in the photo. I'm at the bottom left in the front row.



I was afraid to move for fear of cramping again, and I worried the you-know-what out of my wife. Sorry dear.

After the photo, the riders mount up and head back on the road for the last 140km to home. The wind was blowing still, and I would be doing the next leg in the back of the RV. The ambulance was the only other
choice, and once you get in the ambulance, your ride is done.

I drank a lot of water over the next hour or so...went to the bathroom (that's a good sign - it means you're not dehydrated), and generally had a great time talking to volunteers and relay riders in the RV.

I saw a side of R2S I've never seen before and I was back up and walking about by the next rest stop in Deroche. Right after the stop in Deroche is a 1.5km hill at 11% and it's not the sort of thing one tries to ride up with cold legs that have recently cramped up. I was back into the RV to the Mission rest stop. More water, more bathroom visits and some more food. I was helping unload luggage and handing out food and snacks at the Mission rest stop and cheering riders on as they rolled out. Many asked how I was, and I was feeling fine.

The sunset was beautiful and I changed from the RV to the pickup that was towing the trailer with my bike in it for the next leg. I re-joined the ride in Surrey and rode the final stretch in with the pack. It's a fantastic event and a fantastic thank you to riders, volunteers, family and supporters that were there to welcome us home.

Congratulations to Markus for finishing the ride, and to our wives for surviving the day. Volunteering on this ride is not easy and the riders can't do it without them.

Thank you to you readers too for allowing the annual R2S intrusion into this blog and for your support of the ride. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go put my newly made "STP bike ride" socks away. They're STR Cougar (yes, that's "Socks that Rock" STR) and they were made to replace the pair I wore out. It's very sad when you wear a hole though a favourite pair of socks. But, it's okay when you can buy more yarn and your wife will happily craft a new pair.

Tony.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Watercress Leaves pooling stole


Would you like another pooling pattern? I bound this off last night. It was so much fun to work on. You may recognize the leaves from the Flower Power Stole — the were a little lost in that one, and I loved them so much that I thought they deserved their own full pattern. This one's going to Teri, who donated the gorgeous bags to our Ride2Survive cancer fundraiser — thank you so much, Teri!

The yarn is Wollmeise 100% merino, and the colourway is called Bob. The colour is described as:
Green, yellow and orange like nasturtium (literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), as a common name, refers to a genus of flowering plants.

Wikipedia's comment: The name Nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus tortus, meaning "twisted nose", in reference to the effect on the nasal passages of eating the plants.

As an aside: I did think about calling this the Twisted Nose pooling stole, but then I realized that people probably wouldn't want to knit something with that name.


Note: If you're new to the pooling technique, please read the first pattern in this series to get a good idea of how to figure out where your yarn will pool. Also, if you need any additional support, there's now a Pooled Knits discussion group on Ravelry (registration required), which has quite a few people who are experimenting with different pooling projects, and are happy to help out with beginners to this technique. 


Watercress Leaves pooling stole

Using an "e" or backwards loop cast-on, cast on 83 stitches onto a US7 needle. Please see my previous posts about figuring out your own "magic number" to cast on, depending on your tension on the needles you've chosen.

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Start working with the chart below. The stitches in orange are your garter edging. My edging had 2 edge stitches on either side (4 total), but your edging will be different depending on your stitch tension, so please add or subtract stitches as you need to.



(Click on the chart to get it in a larger, more printable size.)

End with a Row 1 or Row 7 (to close off a leaf tip).

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Bind off very loosely using a sewn bindoff, to maintain the pooling.

Block and pin out the stole.

Friday, August 13, 2010

the big five-oh

No, I didn't age a decade in the last month but sometimes it feels like it. We're mostly recovered from the camping trip although our cookie stash is still severely depleted. I made 8 doz chocolate chip pecan cookies and they didn't make it past day 3 of our camping trip. Yes, we're oinkers when it comes to cookies. The nieces definitely helped out.

The other big thing that happened is that we finally figured out why my computer (less than a year old) has been acting flaky the last 8 months - bad RAM. It started out with the odd app error and escalated to full out OS crashing. We ran a diagnostic tool which pointed a big finger at computer memory. I convinced hubby to yank the RAM out of his computer and put it into my computer. We ran the tests again and the RAM passed so at least, we knew it wasn't the onboard memory that was flaky. Hubby did some research and I made him pick out a "better than good" RAM for me to buy. I installed the new memory and I've been crash free for 3 weeks. I don't even want to think about what data might be corrupt on my HD...


Pattern: plain top down 60 sts with picot cuff & short row heel
Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight; col unknown (mill end from Sock Summit; might be Spy Say Guacamoly)
Needles: 2.25mm dpns
Notes: Number FIFTY!!!! Yes, I have knit 50 pairs of socks. I've been knitting socks for 4 years now and I'm averaging about a pair each month. That's pretty good.

I've been working on another pair of socks which are top secret. But after completing the first leg, I had to rip the whole thing out. I decided that it was too tight in the leg and the row gauge was so far out that the heel wasn't working out. It's one of those Cat Bordhi heels and my row gauge resulted in a too-high instep. I'm going to go up a needle size (to solve the too tight leg) and use the shorter instep heel instructions.

I always need a plain pair of socks to work on. So I dug in my stash (nearly got lost) and pulled some Claudia Hand Paint that P-la gave me for my birthday last year.


The base reminds me of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock which I absolutely love - my second favourite behind STR.

Sadly, I haven't gotten very far. I seem to have hurt the thumb on my right hand. When I grip stuff a certain way - chopsticks, steering wheel, knitting needle - it hurts. I don't know why but it does. So I'm giving my thumb a rest. If I hurts, I won't do it. I haven't knit for 3 days and it does feel better. This self-imposed ban is driving me a little crazy but it's not like I don't have stuff to work on.

I finished sewing on the binding on a quilt top that I rescued.


It's taken me 3 years but it's finally done. Talk about a labour of love. I bought two embroidered tops and carefully took one completely apart. Then I took one strip of blocks from the second top apart because those blocks clearly matched the other quilt top. There was a lot of careful measuring and cutting to get all the blocks the same size. I fixed up some of the embroidery where the knots had come undone or the tails had been pulled to the front. I used Fray Check on some of the places where there wasn't enough tail to make a knot. I hunted high & low until I found the perfect sashing & border fabric (Aunt Grace 30's repro print). I preserved the original layout of the blocks. With one exception - I accidentally turned one the blocks on its side. Oops! The backing is unbleached muslin. It's machine pieced & hand quilted. All that's left is a label. I'm going to see if I can use pre-treated fabric in my new printer otherwise, I'll have to go the iron-on transfer route. I know what the label will say. It will identify the flowers in each block and document the construction of the top. This is one quilt that will hang on a wall to preserve the embroidery.

I've also pulled out my drop spindle. I had some BFL on there and decided to ply it to see how it looked.


I was aiming for fingering but I seem to have lace instead (that's Claudia HP on the right).


That's why the spindle never seemed to fill up no matter how long I was spinning. Oh well... I don't have much of the BFL (and the store that I buy it from no longer has a source) so I'm trying for fingering with another fiber before I return to the BFL. Wish me luck.

Neither cat has been very photogenic lately. Phoebe is sleeping under the bed and Ricky's in a heap on the washing machine. A few days ago, they were standing guard by their food bowls. Every time you got near them, they would dance on their paws and meow at you. When you left, they'd settle down and wait.


Phoebe's sitting on the new step stool that I bought from Ikea. It helps her and Ricky reach the "cat shelf". I used to have a small desk in front of that window but the cats were always sleeping on my stuff and knocking bits onto the floor so I got rid of the desk and installed a shelf for them. I'm well trained, aren't I?

Monday, August 2, 2010

is it a bird? or a plane?

No, it's paragliders!!!! All pics are clickable if you want to see more detail.


We stopped for a few days to visit hubby's parents and there was a big paragliding competition in town.

We drove out to the landing fields and watched the action from the ground.


This is Peter (already landed) and Hugo (still hovering). They're part of a group that takes the general public out for tandem paragliding flights. They take off from the top of Mount 7 - the leftmost pointy peak just under the rightmost wispy cloud. Each ride lasts about 20 mins long. It's pretty neat to see them floating around for so long.

You can't really see it in the picture but my in-laws live about halfway up Mount 7. If you can spot the 20ft high white cross, that's their place.

While we were waiting to see the pictures & videos from the tandem flights, the competitors took off from the launch site.


I'm not entirely sure how many were in the air simultaneously but each of us counted at least 17 paragliders.

Before we left the landing fields, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the gophers. They were everywhere. My FIL said that someone broke her ankle when her foot got stuck in one of the gopher holes.


We drove up to the top of Mount 7 for a different view of the paragliders. I took this picture the minute we stepped out of the SUV.


I couldn't believe how high up they were after they were in the air for over 15 mins. They were way above our heads and we parked almost at the top. See:


The competitors are given their flight specifics (i.e. gravel pit, then airport, and back to the gravel pit) before take-off. The gliders use GPS to mark their positions and times and the judges use that information when awarding points.

We watched lots of people take off. The landing field is the green/brown patch nearest the Kicking Horse River and directly below the paraglider. Speaking of the river, we went into town the following day and visited our favourite timber-framed pedestrian bridge.


A plaza, garden, and water feature had been added since we'd last been there.


I really liked the ironwork around the plaza. In a few years, the climbing roses will make it look truly spectacular.


A trip through the Rocky Mountains means wildlife sightings. One morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and a movement just past the flower bed caught my eye. I thought maybe it was a deer or maybe the dog, Jemima. Noooooo! It was a massive black bear. I pointed and shouted, "Bear! Bear! Bear!". Hubby came running followed closely by my MIL. The bear looked at us (probably because I'd been yelling) and then continued up the mountain. My MIL was very impressed and she thinks it's the largest bear she's seen on their property. It's the closest that I've ever been to a wild bear. Of course, there were gophers everywhere. We even saw a gopher sitting on the concrete barricade by the side of the highway on our drive home. Hubby saw a coyote in the slough.

I picked up the cats from the boarders. Phoebe was perched on a shelf way above my head and I couldn't grab her so I had to bribe her down with treats. Ricky was on the shelf above the window and when he saw me wave the cat carrier around, he zoomed down the cat condo and hid in the bottom. When I pulled him out, his tail was all poofed out. Both of them cried the whole way home - one very long hour.

When we got home, Phoebe gave us the usual cold shoulder. Ricky is usually fairly clingy but this time he was super clingy. Followed us everywhere. Both of us were outside doing stuff and he sat at whatever window he could see us from and yelled at the top of his lungs. When we came inside, he'd rush over to us and meow his relief that we came back. I couldn't go anywhere without him driving me nuts. I finally lay down on the bed for a few minutes to see if I could get Ricky to sleep. He jumped up and settled on his blanket and was asleep in seconds. I quietly got up and went downstairs into my sewing room. Less than a minute later, he was crying and pawing at the door. And when I was doing dishes, he head butted the back of my leg and made my knee buckle. I almost fell over. By 10pm, he was exhausted but happy that everyone was in bed. He slept like the dead all night long. I am happy to report that Phoebe is back to loving us and Ricky is sleeping solo on the washing machine.