Sunday, January 30, 2011

Everyday ordinary: knitting

*I started this post a week and a half ago...where did my week go?*

I don't normally blog about my knitting. My two main reasons for this are: 1) there are plenty of good knitting bloggers already out there; and 2) I take forever to complete my projects. The latter is not because I'm a particularly slow, or incompetent knitter, I just don't spend much time on my knitting. Generally I get in a couple of hours a week when I might sit down to watch a movie on the weekend, or on Wednesday nights when we catch up on the latest Castle episode (we don't have cable/satellite, so we watched it on the CTV website). At this point I'm actually pretty adept at cables, bobbles, etc., and my knitting is pretty smooth, although I have less experience with knitting colour patterns.

I use to knit in class during my Masters. Not all the time, mind you, just during classes where presentations were scheduled and I didn't have to take notes. I'm perfectly capable of listening to people talk, while knitting. In fact, I'd argue I pay more attention while knitting, then I would have if I'd sat at my desk with an open notebook. Then I'd be more likely to doodle, or jot down writing ideas, in which case I'd totally tune out the speaker. I generally don't take my knitting out on public transit or at movies/theatres, however. In the case of transit, I ride the LRT all of two stops and often don't sit down. And although I'm pretty good at watching t.v. and knitting at the same time, I don't think I could do it in the dark. That and I'm pretty fussy about my theatre etiquette.

At any rate, I've completed a variety of projects as of late, so I thought I'd showcase them here.

My most recent sweater. I generally only complete one (full sized--i.e. not for a baby) sweater a year. I started out making a cardigan, but it became clear about half way through that this wool was too thick a gauge to work properly. I re-started it sometime in February or March and only got it finished in November (3 baby sweaters got in the way).

Fingerless gloves. I bought this wool over a year ago and had a different glove pattern in mind, but I never got around to finishing them. I re-tackled this project just before Christmas, and had them done shortly after retuning home.

A cozy/case for our netbook. No pattern used here. I just picked an interesting stitch pattern out of my Vogue Sitchionary and knit it in a long rectangle. I've been meaning to add some buttons so the top flap will stay closed.

A closer look at the pattern--a simple lace. I did a different pattern on the other side (plain eyelets) that I thought might look like the 'under side' of the pattern. I started this sometime in November and completed it over 2 weeks.

I decided to sign up for this crafting 'Pay it Forward' thing going around on Facebook. I happen to have a package for 6 vegetable bags...this is the first, a pea pod purse. I just need to sew in the pockets and add the zipper. I knit pretty much all of it last weekend during the Canadian Nationals.

A cabbage clutch. My second 'Pay it Forward' gift. I just need to finish up the top edging and add a zipper. I think I started this one last Sunday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Much ado about nothing

It would seem that my 2011 is off to a slow start. Considering the things I've seen friends posting on the Facebook and Twitter accounts, I suppose this is a good thing. I am healthy and no one I know has died/lost a job/been diagnosed with something, etc. The only trepidation my slow start has caused me is that I haven't much to report on my little blog. I went to work every day last week, skated on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, edited my manuscript on each of the nights as I was home, and we had a couple of friends over for dinner on Saturday night. Everything's been perfectly ordinary, which given the flooding in Australia, the mudslides in Brazil, the political turmoil in Tanisia, and all the other strife in the world, I shall not complain.

Instead, I will look forward to what is coming: lots of skating this week (junior and senior nationals are underway in Victoria, BC), there's a perogy dinner next Friday night (Jan 28th), Andrew and I will be going out for dinner and a concert the Friday after that (Feb 4th), I'm attending a conference in Vancouver mid-February, I'll be baking another wedding cake in March, my 30th birthday is in April, and much more (including ESO concerts, the first of which I believe is sometime in February). I might be off to a slow start this year, but I'll have plenty to comment on later. So perhaps for now I should relax? Or at least, I should be happy to be busy with the little things I do. Maybe I'll spend my next few blog posts talking about the ordinary things until something extra-ordinary takes place.



Friday, January 7, 2011

My life and figure skating: two worlds that don't exactly collide

I debated for some time over what I would write for my first blog post of the new year. I considered writing a look back over the year, or to layout a couple of my new year resolutions (yes I make them, not that they're any different from most people's), I even considered not writing at all (after all, I'd have more time to dedicate to my manuscripts if I didn't take the time to write a blog post once a week). I've kind of become attached to my blog; however, and for my three followers, and maybe half a dozen more random readers out in the vast space that is the Internet, I'm not ready to stop yet. Therefore, from the way things are looking after the near completion of my first week of 2011, it looks like figure skating is going to take a major role in my life for the next couple of months. And so I'm going to take a few (many) minutes to write about it.

If memory serves I started figure skating when I was eight. Just group lessons, nothing fancy, I probably had a pair of Canadian Tire skates and that was just fine for the time. I progressed reasonably well through the first couple of levels. Within maybe two years I was doing all the jumps except for axel. I would have loved to take private lessons or to compete, but sports weren't a priority in my household, and as noted in a previous post, I was a chubby child (i.e. I didn't exactly have a figure skater's physique). I dreamed that someone might 'discover' me and I would finally get the lessons, and do spring and summer skating school, but of course that never happened. I took a few tests here and there as my minimal coaching would allow and eventually did land an axel (something I'm struggling with now), but stopped around aged fifteen as even I had to admit I was never going to be a world champion.

Skating became a sometime (or more like rare) activity until a few years ago when I decided to look around and see if there were any adult programs, which I discovered to my delight, there were. I joined the Ice Palace F.S.C. in Edmonton, for no particular reason except that it was the first one I found. After that I started working with a really great coach who is always enthusiastic and encouraging of what I do. After getting a good quality pair of skates (the first new ones I bought were not sufficient for the level I was skating at) I started to see a noticeable improvement in my spinning, which has always been weak. I'm working towards landing axels again (actually, I've been pretty much trying to do this since I started back) and my loop jump, which used to be my least favourite jumps is now one of my best.

Okay, so there's the recap of what I've been doing, so now what? Now I'm planning to take two tests in March, the preliminary skills test (Skate Canada's replacement for compulsory figures) and my junior bronze freeskate test (both the skills and program components). I want to pass, and in order to pass I have to be able to land an axel or a wally, and do a flying spin. My flying camel is surprisingly good. I would never have suspected I could do one without falling when my coach had me first try last winter. Then there's my axel. See, here's the problem with having skated in a small club coached primarily by kids only a couple of years older than myself: bad technique for my axel has set in because no one corrected me and now it's causing me problems. I have a tendency to kick my leg out wide when I take off, which makes it hard to get the rest of my body around and complete the one and a half rotations necessary.

In order to pass my tests I need to skate more. Competitive figure skaters practice upwards of twenty-five hours a week, it's how they develop consistency and improve their skills. Obviously I'm not going to skate that much. I don't have the time, and I don't have the money to pay for that amount of ice time (and oh yeah, I'm still not going to be a world champion), so I'm going to try to squeeze in as much practice as I can from now until my test day. That means running over to the U of A arena on Tuesdays at lunch to use the figure skating club ice time, then again on Friday days during the rec skate ice time. It means skating on Wednesday nights on the Ice Palace adult time, and it means long runs on Saturday has been replaced with long skates in the afternoon on an open session at a nearby arena.

Hopefully at the end of all this I will pass my tests in March. I'd be disappointed to fail--I mean who wouldn't be? If I pass I'll be qualified to take the first level of Skate Canada coaches training. I'm not sure if I actually have time to coach little kids right now (the rest of my spare time is spent on writing, of course), but I might find I have time in the future. We'll see how things ban out over the next few weeks.