Monday, December 31, 2012

Marathon update and 2013 goals

Well, I've finally dragged myself out the door for a few runs, each one less than five miles. After the #deathflu, getting dressed wore me out, so I wasn't setting any expectations. Taking it easy was the only plan, because I haven't run consistently since before Thanksgiving. It was a slow road back after being sick, and I was just lazy and pitiful. After that it was a tailspin that landed me in the recliner in front of the TV. I really have no excuse for that.

I am finally getting back to training for Shamrock. I will be revising my time goal, however. The original goal was sub 5:00. I'm not sure how much it should be adjusted. I guess I'll decide after a long run or two.

One of the training issues has been my training partner (my husband) and my work schedules. He is off work at 5:00 and I work until 6:00. By the time I get home, it's dark outside, and he's ready for dinner. So, starting Wednesday when I go back to work, I'm changing my schedule to 8:00-5:00 instead of 9:00-6:00. We plan to meet at one of the Greenway trails between our offices and run before it gets dark. The new schedule will mean more nOg Club runs and more Fleet Feet group runs. Maybe mentoring another beginner running program is in our future, too.

Speaking of the nOg Run Club, they are trying for a Guinness World Record for the largest kilt race! How much fun is that?! The race is the St. Paddy's Run Green 8k on March 2, but the record is for a race with all the runners wearing kilts. The 8k is open to anyone, so the world record attempt will be a 200 meter run before the 8k. One of the race sponsors is Sport Kilt, and they are offering a discount. I just have to decide which one I want. If I really like it, I might wear it for the marathon on the 17th. We'll see....

In the spirit of the new year, I'm setting some New Year's running goals. I don't "do" resolutions; they don't have the same power that goals have for me. "I resolve to lose weight" is a little wishy washy. So here are my goals (in no particular order).

2013 running goals:

  • Get out of the recliner!
  • Set and stick to a regular training schedule (run 3-4x week, cross train 2x week).
  • Shamrock Marathon! Time goal tbd.
  • Buy a cool hanging thing for my five medals.
  • Mentor at least one beginner running program at Fleet Feet Sports.
  • nOg Run Club every Monday.
  • Yoga every Friday. (Is that cross train or rest?)
  • Buy a kilt. Break a World Record.
Happy New Year!

Design wall Monday: Off the wall

I need everyone to join me in a big "OMG," okay? Here we go....
Me: "My BQE top is finished!"
You: "OH. EM. GEEE."
That felt pretty good.

What's a BQE, you ask? It's my Biggest Quilt Ever. Queen size! I made this one for my very own bed. After making this giant thing, I will never buy a King size bed.

DH is standing on a step ladder in the driveway. This quilt is big!

I started it in January 2012 as part of the Michael Miller Clubhouse quilt along, and it's been on and off my design wall all year. Now it's done. Started and finished all in the same year! It has an appointment with the longarmer in February. I gave myself some extra time, just in case. What size is your BQE?

Click here to find out what other quilters have on their design walls.

Getting it done! Setting four quilty goals for January:

  1. Medallion mystery, month one
    • The directions for month one will be posted on January 1. It's not too late to join! The information can be found at Patchwork Times. Or click the "Back to Square One" button in the sidebar of my blog.
  2. Michael Miller Clubhouse 2013, month one
    • I had so much fun last year that I signed up again. We meet on the first Thursday of each month to get our kits, see a demo of how to put it together, and share our completed projects. My club meets at Wish Upon A Quilt in Raleigh, NC, but you can search for a Clubhouse near you here.
  3. Backing for Casino (the BQE)
    • I have my fabric, so I just need to piece it together. I guess it'll be in three pieces.
  4. Don't fall behind on Easy Street clues
    • We're so close to the final reveal!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The yarn along

A few days ago, I was looking through the photos on my phone, and I noticed something. The photos-of-yarn to photos-of-stuff-made-with-yarn ratio is way out of balance. I need to do something about it. I corrected the photos-of-fabric to photos-of-stuff-made-with-fabric ratio in 2012. No, it wasn't because I stopped taking photos of fabric, smarty pants. I finished more quilting projects this year, and I need to do the same with knitting projects in 2013.

stuff made with yarn

Another blogger posted a link to a weekly yarn along at Small Things. Every Wednesday, knitters share their WIPs and their finished projects. I added a button on the sidebar of my blog. I also set an alarm on my calendar to remind me that I should have something finished to share on Wednesdays. That's motivation.

The next project going on my needles is the Bigger on the Inside shawl. The Bigger on the Inside, TARDIS-blue yarn was sold out for a long time, but Jimmy Beans Wool sent an email when it was back in stock. I have my yarn, I have my needles, and I think I know how to read the pattern charts. This one is probably going to take me awhile.

something I'm going to make with yarn

I plan to post updates of the progress on all my projects. If I don't post updates I probably haven't made any progress, so call me out on it! Help me stay on track. See you in 2013!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sitting ducks

Bonnie at Quiltville surprised us again! I thought I knew what the next step was going to be, but I was wrong. She is very good at keeping it a mystery. Did you have the correct guess?

Part 5 says that we don't have any more geese to do. Yay! But, as I read through the steps, I realized that what we're making is basically flying geese with big butts. I like how they look (I cannot lie) but I don't think these fat geese will get off the ground. I'm calling them sitting ducks.

Another thing I realized is that Bonnie was using the two squares and a line method instead of the Companion Angle and Easy Angle rulers that she introduced me to a few weeks ago. I actually don't mind making flying geese using those rulers. Drawing lines on all those little squares seems to take forever and half the time I can't even see the lines when I start to stitch. These are just geese on squares instead of triangles, right? I can make the rulers work, right?

First, I cut strips 3.5in instead of 2in like the others. My plan was to start at the 2in line and cut the top of the strip using the ruler then cut the rest square. It didn't take me long to realize that wasn't going to work.

Next, I cut the strip into squares and tried to use the ruler to cut the corners on the top. The problem with that was trying to get the ruler centered for even cuts. The proportions were all wrong on the finished sitting duck.

So, I went with the old reliable two squares and a line method.

All my pieces are cut, and the right sides are stitched. I'm off work all week, and I'm going to be all caught up before the next clue is posted.

My Easy Street progress so far:
  • Part 1: approx 80 four patches to go. I've been using them as leaders and enders for other projects.
  • Part 2: done
  • Part 3: done
  • Part 4: done
  • Part 5: right sides done
You can see everyone's progress on the Christmas Eve linky here.

In case you were wondering, 24% of the quilt top remains to be revealed. Remember, this is based on the area not on how many weeks we have left. We still need to put all the parts together. Anyone have a guess on the next clue? I hope we make something with our limey greens.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

On the needles: End of the world edition

I started this sweater in a "knit your first sweater" class in 2007, and I think I made pretty good progress over the following year or so....

knitted top down

I love the detail on the front.

Then I went back to school for a Master's degree. I thought I would be able to knit my sweater when I wasn't working on schoolwork. As it turns out, I was just barely able to sleep when I wasn't working on schoolwork.

Five years later, I've graduated with an MBA, and I'm trying to finish PhDs (projects half done). Knitting, quilting, cross stitch...there are too many to list. I thought I would be able to pick up my sweater and quickly start where I left off. Problem is, I can't quite figure out where I left off. Along with the pattern, I found this in my knitting bag:

There are four pages of these crazy notes. Thousands of years from now, someone will find this and "decode" it to predict the end of the world. Hopefully my sweater will be finished before then. I especially like that I used the "$10,000 Downtown Puzzle Party" notepad. This is definitely a puzzle for me.

I stopped by Great Yarns, the awesome LYS where I took the class so many years ago, and they said to bring my sweater, pattern, and notes, and they would help me figure it out. I'm going up there after the holidays, because I don't want to get started now and then get interrupted again.

Thanks for stopping by. I enjoy reading everyone's blog posts. You can find them at Patchwork Times.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happening now

I'm getting my hair colored and cut. Nothing too drastic, but it has been seven months since my last haircut. Stay tuned....

Yes, that's my hair!



I wish I had thought to take a "before" picture. At least five inches are gone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mysteries are meant to be solved

Or at least investigated....

Let's look at the Easy Street clues:
  1. The intro said that it will finish at 84" x 84" before borders. That's 7,056 square inches. Borders are optional, so all the pieces we've done should fit in that area.
  2. By my calculations, there is roughly 33% of the area still to be revealed. I'll break it down. Please check my math (or my typos).
    • Part 1: 192 four patches * 3x3 finished size = 1,728 sq in, 24% of the total area
    • Part 2: 128 flying geese * 1.5x3 finished size = 576 sq in, 8% of the total area
    • Part 3: 64 shaded four patches * 3x3 finished size = 576 sq in, 8% of the total area
    • Part 4: 64 flying geese * 1.5x3 finished size = 288 sq in, 4% of the total area (we've already counted the part 2 geese that these get attached to)
    • Extras: b&w rectangles, green triangles, green squares = 1,606 sq in, 23% of the total area
  3. From parts 1-4, we have groups of 192 units, 64 units, 64 units, and 64 units. How many blocks can we make from these? Common denominators are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. Having 32 blocks would make the most sense to me. Those blocks would have 6 four patches and 2 each of the other units. We need to add something to the remaining part 2 geese to make them square; maybe flying geese with green wings made in the next part or maybe the b&w rectangles cut in part 2? We would need 4 of a new unit to make a 12x12 finished block. Of course, the units we've made might not go into the same blocks at all. [edited 12/18/2012]
  4. In her blog post for part 1, Bonnie said that she has to be home to do the mystery. A quick check of her calendar tells us that she will be in Texas from December 30 to January 5. The 4th is when a clue would be posted. Does that mean our last clue will be posted on December 28? On the other hand, she said to plan on 6 to 8 weeks.
I know I'm missing something. Anyone else have any clues to add?

On to part 4! I got all the pieces cut for this week, but I wanted to finish part 3 before I started stitching them. (Update: All the part 4 right side wings are attached.)

Easy Street part 4, in process

Easy Street part 3, finished

Also on my design wall right now are the borders for my Michael Miller Clubhouse quilt, Casino. (These are the blocks that you see under my part 4 pieces in the first photo.) I really want to finish the top before the first meeting of the 2013 Clubhouse.

Border blocks for Casino, ready to be assembled

Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stop by again. Please leave a comment and say hi. I'm linking up with Quiltville and Patchwork Times.


My previous Easy Street reports:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some like it hot

I was working along with quilt cam Saturday night, and making good progress on the final flying geese of step 2, when tragedy struck. My iron stopped heating. The "ready" light was on, but the iron was cold. It wasn't really a surprise, since I don't even know how old that iron was. It's been a good iron for many, many years. So, after a moment of silence for my old iron, I went back to stitching my geese. I finger pressed the right wing before I stitched the left wing, and then I left them to be pressed with my new iron.

Flying Geese waiting to be pressed

My mission for Sunday went from "finish Easy Street part 3" to "acquire a new iron." I checked my favorite online quilting groups and Googled some reviews before deciding to get another Black & Decker. I really wanted to start part 3, but I knew I needed to get an iron. Dilemma! I found an iron on the Bed, Bath & Beyond website with a pick-up-in-store option! I placed the order for the closest store, then I gave my DH the 20% off coupon and sent him to pick it up. I <3 the interwebz!

On to step 3: There was an intriguing alternate method for making the shaded four patches posted on the Yahoo message group by one of the mystery participants. I wanted to try it, but I remembered that I already had background pieces cut per Bonnie's instructions leftover from the flying geese. So I used Bonnie's method for part 3. All my pieces are cut:

purple squares, turquoise triangles

A question posted on the Yahoo group brought up the topic of how to get a good scrappy look. One of the answers prompted me to rethink my strategy. Basically, she said that she uses a 10% rule to keep the fabrics scrappy. For example, if 50 pieces of a color are required, no more than five of them should be from the same fabric. I hadn't really thought that much about it. My method was to cut a strip, subcut as many pieces as I could from it, and move on to the next fabric. I stopped cutting when I had all the pieces I needed. For the flying geese in part 2, I ended up with 56% of the triangles from only two fabrics and 44% from the other five fabrics. I'm not going to redo what I've finished, but I am going to pay more attention for part 3. I only have seven fabrics, so I can't really follow the 10% guideline, but I can make sure I have a more even distribution of the fabrics I have. I'm looking forward to see how it all turns out.

shaded four patches

My previous Easy Street reports:
Part 1
Part 2

I'm linking up with Quiltville and Patchwork Times.


P.S. In case you were wondering, my new iron is the Black & Decker Digital Advantage, $39.99. I really like it. It has a nice weight and nice digital screen that clearly shows what setting it is on and when it is ready.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A very zombie Christmas

WARNING: The photos are not pretty, unless you love The Walking Dead.

After 17 years of marriage, my DH should know that my Christmas presents can't be delivered to our house. I try to pretend that I don't see them, I really do. I've seen three packages this week that he tried to sneak by me from the front porch. I let the first two go, but I just couldn't stand it anymore when a big box was delivered today.

So now this is proudly on display in my living room:

Stab the zombie in the eye with the screwdriver...
to open the zombie head! 

The Walking Dead complete second season on Blu-ray is stored inside. My DH may not know that he should have my presents delivered somewhere else, but he sure does know how to make me happy!


Friday, December 7, 2012

A gaggle of geese

I need to make something clear. Flying Geese are not my friends. We don't exchange text messages with sideways smiley faces; we don't hang out at the mall. In fact, if I know that Flying Geese will be at a party, I probably won't go.

Don't get me wrong, I admire their work. They make some beautiful designs; pinwheels being one of my favorites. Flying Geese and I just don't work well together. The fit is never quite right, if you know what I mean.

Imagine my delight dismay when I saw step 2 of Easy Street, the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. We're making 128 Flying Geese? For realz?

But then I watched Bonnie's demo video and saw a technique I've never tried, and I thought I had tried them all. She makes it look so easy. Her technique uses two cool rulers:

The Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers make the pieces fit together easily with clear edges to line up for stitching.

I can't believe how well my geese are turning out. They aren't perfect, and some are better than others, but they are definitely the best geese I've ever made. Maybe I'll be able to work with these guys after all.

So now I'm trying to catch up with everyone (check out the linky). About 60 percent of my geese are stitched and ready to be trimmed. I'm excited to see what step 3 will bring.


Here's my post from step one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Did #deathflu kill my marathon plans

I hope some of my running friends are reading this, because I need advice.

Here's my problem: I am slowly (slooowly) recovering from what I've been calling the #deathflu. My last run was Thanksgiving Day, and it was just an easy three miles. I was in week two of marathon training when I got sick, and I don't know where to restart my training.

I've missed two (TWO!) long runs. It was early in my training plan, and they weren't *long* long runs, but still....

So, my options are:

Option 1- Start the training plan over from week one. But that will mean I don't get all my mileage in before race day. I've already registered for the race on March 17, so I can't push the date back.

Option 2- Start the training plan over from week one, but skip the recovery weeks until I'm back on schedule. How important are those anyway?

Option 3- Start training where I should be in my plan if the #deathflu hadn't happened. But after two weeks off, and still feeling poorly, I probably should ease into it a little instead of jumping ahead.

Option 4- Give up on the marathon and sit on the couch eating Cheetos. Okay, that's not really an option; I already paid my registration fee!

Option 5- Here's where I need my running pals. What would you recommend?

Thanks for reading and for your advice!