Month: August 2013

knitting and the gym: strange bedfellows

I bring you an interruption from the regularly scheduled programming for a short anniversary celebration – and some reflection (what would a blog be without some sort of navel-gazing? Nothing, I tell you).

Two years ago this month, I started two new hobbies – knitting and exercising. One of those hobbies receives a lot of air time on this blog; the other one not so much.  I mostly save stories of my workouts, yoga practices, and gymnastics classes for my boyfriend, who by now has lovingly suffered through more jokes about how “swole” I am than any person should ever endure in a lifetime. As different as they are (and even though I very rarely discuss my fitness-y life with the internet), I love both of these pastimes equally, and over the course of two years they have taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined since the day I picked up a set of needles and popped a workout video into our DVD player (not at the same time of course – I may not be a doctor yet but I would feel safe betting that that is NOT recommended by any physician). As my grasp of the English language is dwindling to robotic and unconscious utterings of medical acronyms and mnemonics, I’m going to continue this post in list form. Feel free to read on, or roll your eyes at another blog about self-discovery written by a 20-something and click back over to Twitter.
  • After 21 years of allowing myself to think that I am incapable of waiting, it turns out I have a level of patience most saints would envy.  (Okay, maybe not saints, but the beatified probably wish they could tap into my reserves of composure.)  If I could spend hours upon hours untangling knots without being driven to insanity, or do hundreds of crunches and not immediately look like a Bowflex ad, then I could definitely not fly off the handle for minor inconveniences.
  • I have limits. But I learned how to push them safely.  Due to some overly complicated medical history stuff, I always assumed that I would never be able to do things like run long distances or do long workout classes without getting sick, so I just didn’t do them for fear of being the “wimp” who took too many water breaks or passed out in public.  Now, I’m better at deciding what I can and can’t handle, and finding safe ways to push myself.  The same goes for knitting! I used to think that I was just afraid of trying new things, but it turns out that’s my absolutely favorite part of knitting – picking up a new and confusing pattern and gaining a new skill.
  • In that same vein, I learned when to walk away. This was a particularly hard lesson for me, and one on which I need to take a refresher course from time to time.  Nothing is to be gained by pounding yourself into the ground (whether that is a literal pounding, with countless numbers of power squats because you feel lazy and slow, or figurative, with a freaking sweater that will not freaking unfrog itself without becoming tangled eight freaking million times – ahem). Things will still be there when you come back in a better frame of mind.
  • You can always find a way to express yourself, regardless of the medium or situation.  When I first started working out and knitting, both of my forays into those worlds were pretty cookie cutter. I ran a couple times a week and then did weird stuff on top of an exercise ball; I knitted a scarf. I liked both of those things, but when I really started to get excited about both of my hobbies was when I found a way to bring my other interests into the equation.  This has helped me a couple of times in medical school – I get to do my anatomy doodles, and sometimes I even throw in a really cool powerpoint.

In some ways, I know that I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to being well-adjusted and normal, but hey – at least I’ll squat and knit my way toward it. (:


dabbling mania

Uh, hi everyone.  Not to interrupt your lives or anything but this is the COOLEST THING OF THE DAY (caps lock totally warranted): 

For people like me who have exhaustive lists of hobbies and interests, this website is just a massive enabler.  How could I resist beginning crochet lessons? Or pancake appreciation?  The possibilities are endless (even if you don’t live in Chicago).   Just thought I’d let everyone know (:

beady fruits of sweaty labor

Last Monday was the final day of my beadmaking class!  I concluded the session with a full six hours of hunching over the blowtorch to finish all the beads I had set out to make.  Oomf.  While I probably won’t be returning to the glasswork studio on the reg to make beads, it was definitely a cool thing to learn and (temporarily) add to my hilariously long list of hobbies.  I don’t have all my beads back yet (soon though!), so I can’t post/not-so-subtly humblebrag about them here, but some of my favorite techniques I learned were sculptural work and flowers (although admittedly my skills are still quite childish at both).

Even though I still have about 15 beads waiting for me I did manage to turn some of the ones I already have into jewelry! I made these as a birthday gift for my boyfriend’s mom, who loves flowers and the color purple.


on mass production

Over a month ago, I decided to be proactive and drew up a Christmas list of gifts for others.  I figured that since I had almost two years of knitting under my belt, I should suck it up and make as many knitted gifts as possible – even if it meant starting insanely (five months) early. When I realized how many people I wanted to bestow with something warm and fuzzy, I decided to knit a couple things many times over (namely, the Tuesday Night Cowl and the Growing Leaves Cowl).  I figured that I’d save myself time, sanity and money by not having to memorize ten different patterns, standardizing my process (and hopefully speeding it up along the way) and not spending a buttload of money on different needles.


What I didn’t account for was that I would absolutely loathe knitting the same thing over and over again.  I can watch movies multiple times, I’ve reread the entire Harry Potter series approximately once a year for as long as I can remember, I eat the same thing for lunch almost every single day – time and again, I’ve proven that I am a creature of habit to an almost disgusting extent.  Apparently, I’ve reached my limit – I cannot repeat knitting projects without losing some of my marbles (evidence below).

Photo on 8-21-13 at 12.05 AM #2 Photo on 8-21-13 at 12.06 AM  Photo on 8-21-13 at 12.06 AM #2 Photo on 8-21-13 at 12.06 AM #3


(Apologies to all friends and loved ones who were expecting a Christmas gift I hadn’t contaminated with my mouth-breathing.)

Alas, alack. (I’m also whining because I have only finished FOUR of these bad boys, and I have four more cowls to go. And I know plenty of people on the internet have knit probably four times forty of the same thing without whining nearly as much as I have.) I’ll just have to knit through the drudgery.  I definitely have enough yarn for that, considering my mammoth KnitPicks order, shown below (before I started any of my Christmas knitting). I guess they didn’t want to spend the shipping money on a larger box, so my order came packaged like this – doesn’t it make me look like a crazy yarn hoarder?  I’m really looking forward to converting all of this yarn into FOs.


copykat(niss) part 2: progress and anti-progress

I had finally made some headway just in time for more of the movie cowl to be revealed, showing my design to be a bit off.  The newer preview shows that the back is quite different than I (and I think many others) had expected.  I assumed it would be symmetrical to the front, but nope – some weird looping and branching off happens in the back.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 2.55.44 PMAfter some doodling, I think I figured out the shapes of the pieces I’d need to make and graft together in order to get a more or less faithful-to-the-film cowl.  Buuuuut… I had already almost finished the first (and largest) portion of my own project.  I decided to keep trucking with what I had.  Then, when I bound off, I HATED it. It was just way too big and lumpy and not what I had hoped for. Whoops.  So I started over. That’s what I get for trying to cheat on this cowl.  I’ve finished the crossbody loop piece and now all that remains is picking up stitches for and knitting the flap that will go over the shoulder.

Slide2 Slide1


I still don’t know why it occurs to me to take photos of my knitting only AFTER I finish long workouts and am sweaty and gross and wearing a sports bra.  Sorry world.  Also, it is both a pathetic and a difficult thing to take mirror selfies with a DSLR (I got too crabby with the timer, and nostalgic for high school I guess?).

In other news, I need to find a good way to securely close this thing once it’s done. Any suggestions?  I’m thinking a seriously overlarge toggle (a la this one found on Knitpicks) to go with the rustic Hunger Games-y feel.

One more thing! I reread Catching Fire (all in one day, it was a sick glut of reading) and I am now insanely excited for this movie.  The second book in the trilogy is probably my favorite, so I can’t wait to see what they do with the movie adaptation.  Fangirl squee.

WIP wednesday

  • The Tuesday Night Cowl has become an Every Night Cowl. In order to preserve my sanity I’ve vowed to only work on these projects during lectures and buses to and from class.  It’s the perfect mindless project, and I get to save the more fun things for when I’m relaxing at home and enjoying the knitting process.  (On that note, I feel like I’m really getting the hang of knitting while making eye contact with/paying attention to others.  In fact, it makes me feel like I’m paying closer attention than before, when I would do everything but physically prop my eyelids open in order to stay even the teensiest bit focused.) Slide7
  • Ugh. Still working on the Katniss cowl. I actually finished the shoulder portion of the cowl only to discover it was overlarge in spite of my surprising dedication to knitting with gauge. Two silver linings: the frogging process was not totally excruciating and this re-do has given me the opportunity to create a cowl more in-line with the one depicted in the preview.  Last weekend I finished the shoulder portion, and soon (ha. whenever that is) I’ll pick up stitches for the last bit. I’m taking lots of notes, Thomas Edison-style on the 999 ways to not make the Katniss cowl, and I still plan on doing a tutorial/pattern for this bad boy.  I’ll keep y’all posted.  I’m still thinking of what would be the best way to clasp it, since the preview doesn’t seem to have a clasp (poo). Slide3
  • Beer sweater! This is also a Christmas gift.  I love, love love miniature things so I can’t get over how adorable the little sweaters are (if I do say so myself).  I had some “duh” moments with the construction of the shoulders, but I’m almost done and I’ll be starting my second one soon! Slide4

in absentia

If you weren’t able to tell, school has started up again.  I’ve been having a bit of trouble balancing everything – passing exams! extracurriculars for school! extracurriculars for funsies! cleaning my apartment! knitting! ensuring that my sinuses drain adequately (it would be too difficult and sad to actually explain to you how much of my time and mental energy this has required lately)! letting ceecee chew on minor appendages!  Recently I’ve felt like even the fun stuff is stressful – boo for being stretched too thin.  Luckily, I’ve got a mini-vacation coming up and I’m looking forward to a weekend of delightful nothingness.  NOTHING. I’m serious. I might not even bring knitting.

(Then again, I might need something to distract me from missing my wonderful kitty.)

IMG_3310Kitty fun fact of the day: I dissected a human brain today (yanno, just for fun) and one of the professors who pointed out some structures also shared with us that cats (and rats) have enormous trigeminal nerves (the cranial nerve in humans that allows for sensation on the face as well as motor control of the muscles of mastication), as they process information that arrives from the whiskers. Whiskers are so cute.

TL;DR: I’m still alive, but I’m a living person currently struggling with work-life balance.