Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What a race! What a victory!

I've been having withdrawal symptoms the last few days.  No more Tour de France!  I've had to console myself with watching recaps and stages I have taped, just for a little while each day, so I don't have to go completely cold turkey, heh!  You'll have to indulge me a little with this post, I promise there is some knitting content at the end!

You would just about have to be living under a rock, in Australia at least, if you didn't know that Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the yellow jersey overall.  He looked in great form the whole race, and had fantastic team support (something he has mostly lacked, especially in the years when he came second overall), although I have to admit I wasn't 100% sure he could do it, until he did it!  Not that I doubted him but moreso I worried about things outside his control - an accident - since there were so many this Tour, it was almost amazing he wasn't involved in one.  It was a relief every morning when I got up and checked the TdF app to see the placings from the overnight stage, and to always see his name up there.

It wasn't just a grand Tour because of Cadel's achievement.  There were so many other inspiring and amazing rides.  Johnny Hoogerland cartwheeled into a barbed wire fence as a result of a media car deciding it was preferable to hit a cyclist than hit a tree.  Despite deep cuts all over his body (including completely torn from hem to waist bike shorts!!) he got back on his bike, finished the stage, took the King of the Mountains jersey (crying on the podium), kept it and tried his best to defend it.  And finished the race with 33 stitches.  That's determination. 

And Thomas Voeckler, the Frenchman who took the yellow jersey on that same stage and kept it for 9 stages, even though he was expected to loose it through the mountain stages.  He clung on and rode his legs off, and kept that jersey despite his own almost daily predictions that he'd lose it.  Even when his legs finally gave out chasing Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, he still gave it his all when he crossed the line.  To quote our favourite commenters Phil and Paul, the man has a huge suitcase of courage.

Andy Schleck, who didn't look to be in his best form, really showed everyone in the Alps, with two great days.  He lost it in the time trial, but if he can improve there, then I've no doubt he will wear yellow in Paris in the future.  He's lucky, he's young, he's got 8 years on Cadel Evans!

And even Alberto Contador, the man everyone seemed to love to hate this year.  Like Andy, he didn't seem to be in his best form, and was caught up in an early crash.  But he tried his heart out too, and never gave up, just like you'd expect from a winner of six grand tours.  Even if you don't like him, you've got to respect that (although I really really hope he isn't a drug cheat).

Speaking of which, only one rider this year withdrew due to a positive test.  Hopefully it will stay that way.  Another great outcome for a sport which is really trying hard to hold a clean race.

If you can't tell already, I really loved this year's race.  So much so that I've already pre-ordered the DVD, heh!  (And I am not usually one to watch and rewatch classic sporting events - until now!!).  I think Connor's early vocabulary will surely include the words "tourdefrance" and "gocadel"!

As for me, and my yellow jersey aspirations, well, I made it!  I'll do a proper FO post when I have some modelled shots of me in the skirt, so until then, I'll leave you with a sneak peek:
Only 11 months to go until the next Tour de France!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's all downhill from here (hopefully...)

Thought I should give you a quick update on my Tour de France project, since le Tour finishes this Sunday night (or really, early Monday morning our time!). 

Just to prove that I have been knitting on it in every spare moment (mostly Connor's nap times!):
It's been enjoyable - I have been having a dream run, much like Cadel Evans (fingers crossed his continues to the end and the yellow jersey!), although I must admit that I am hankering to start something new right now.  But I shall not, as I'm so close to the end - I think - this is one of those knits that does not seem to grow at all for days, no matter how much you knit on it, then all of a sudden it is half way done, then three quarters done etc.

So I'm hoping that on Sunday I will wake up and find it has magically kitchener grafted itself together overnight!!  I am not looking forward to 136 stitches of grafting!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Zippedy do dah!

Some time ago (almost a year!) I went on a journey to the Land of Cardigan.  I might have told you that my journey was ended, but really, I had yet to scale the highest peak of Mt Putting-in-a-Zipper.  It was a daunting daunting journey, hence my need to have a good long think about it over the summer.  Who needs a thick cardi in summer anyway, right?

Well, summer came and went.  And so did autumn.  And when winter hit, husby's plaintive question "have you put the zipper in my cardi yet?" got to me and I decided it was time to put on my protective gear, get out the ropes and crampons (all that is scaling mountain talk, right?) and tackle that peak.
I had husby take Connor out for the day, because I knew it was going to be an all day task.  At the very least.  And I needed some space to spread things out, and some time to percolate the various tutorials I'd read about putting zippers into garments.  And make sure I could find the cardi, and the zip and the thread (both the zip and thread I'd purchased some time ago.  Maybe during that summer of thinking...)
I started by pinning the zip into the opening.  I put the pins in wrong, I know.  I realised that about half way through.  But my back was already sore from the kneeling and bending, so I figured it'd be ok.

And then I started sewing - by hand!  I was maybe 1/3 of the way done on the first side when I realised I was doing my backstitch wrong.  There was no way I was going to unpull what I'd already done (sewing in zippers is slow going!!) so I just did it the right way after that.  And you know what, you can't tell anyway!  (But I did feel better doing it correctly, I must say!!)

It took AGES!  AGES I tell you.  At least 4 hours I think.  Possibly more, I think I have blocked it out of my head.  I was a bit worried it would bubble when the zipper was done up on the body.  But I was most pleased when husby put it on and (a) the zipper worked and (b) it didn't bubble! 

If I were to do it again, I'd put the edge of the garment over the zipper closure (it is knit with an edging for this purpose).  I was worried I'd get the edging caught in the zipper and wouldn't do it evenly, so I just lined it up with the outside edge of the zip. 
But apart from that, I'm quite pleased with how it went.  And let's face it, there is unlikely to be an again.  If I'm faced with another visit to Mt Putting-in-a-Zipper, I'm pretty sure I'm going to pay someone else to do it!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

StashDownUnder - June 2011

 A bit late this month.  You'd think, if you didn't know me better, that maybe there's a reason for my lateness, like, say for example, not wanting to admit to my acquisitions for June...ha!  As if I'd be embarrassed about stash acquisitions!!

(although, to be perfectly honest, when I did add it all up this month, I did go "gulp" at the final totals.  Those darn big Wollmeise skeins, they really do add up when you break them down into 50g lots!)

So I did some damage at the Craft and Quilt Fair.  After not going for a year (or possibly 2, I can't recall!) I bought a bag of Colinette Iona, in Velvet Plum.  In my defence, it's lovely yarn, discontinued, and was almost half price!

And then Ingrid, darn her, had to go and offer me matched skeins of Wollmeise 100%  in a red I don't already have (Zimtapfel).  And there were 4 of those, and it seemed a shame not to...  AND she happened to have a skein of Schwartz lace, which I was only daydreaming about that morning (not her skein, black WM laceweight in general!).  It was really meant to be.

Like the next purchse, a destash via Ravelry.  Rosenrot laceweight.  It's RoseRed!  Wollmeise!  Lace!  A colour and weight I don't have!  Also a foregone conclusion.  Yep, I am a sucker for a yarn with my name!  heh heh.

I also bought some yarn for a gift (already knitted and gifted, just have to post about it!) and picked up some yarn in the Morris and Sons sale, using a Christmas gift voucher - so this yarn doesn't count, heh!  Love making my own rules for stash honesty!!
So the totals (drumroll please!):
This month:
Actual balls used:  13.5 x 50g (thanks to a bulky knit, also yet to be blogged!)
8ply equivalent:  8 x 50g
In this month: 47 x 50g (ulp!)
metres used:  840m

Year to Date
Actual balls used: 3.75 + 13.5 - 47 = -29.75
8ply equivalent:  49.5 x 50g balls
metres used:  5687m

Ok, so I've added almost 30 x 50g balls of yarn to the stash over and above what I've used.  I think that really means I have to declare a total and utter ban on further yarn purchases for the rest of 2011.  Can I do it??

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Who's up for a bike ride?

It's that time of year again - the Tour de France starts tonight, and with it, my participation in the Tour de France KAL on Ravelry.  This is my fourth TdF KAL (I think - or maybe my fifth?  I think fourth!).  I love this time of year - so much good sport on the tv.  French Open, Wimbledon, TdF and then the US Open.  Weeeeeee!

This year, I have decided to go for the yellow jersey and indulge my desire for a knitted skirt!  I am very excited!  I'm going to attempt a Lanesplitter, using the construction method of the Swirl Skirt (provisional cast on and smaller sticks/tighter gauge), to avoid the bulky seam and hopefully avoid the dreaded bum sag that plague many a knitted skirt!
I used a Christmas voucher for Morris & Sons to buy my yarn - Noro Kureyon in col 188 and Morris & Sons Pure in "Sooty".  Just looked at the yarn requirements for the swirl skirt and am worried I won't have enough...but I should be able to get more if I need to!
I spent the last two days swatching - firstly on 3.75mm sticks, as per the Swirl Skirt pattern (the olive green stripes above).  This creates a nice firm fabric but is very hard on my hands with the worsted/10ply yarn.  I don't know that I can knit constantly for 3 weeks at this gauge without killing my hands.  So then I tried 4.5mm sticks (purple stripes, below) (noting that the Lanesplitter pattern suggests 6mm sticks!!).  This is a nice fabric, but possibly a bit too open (even though I am likely to wear a slip under the skirt anyway). 
I think I will end up using 4mm sticks.  That should still give me a firm gauge but will be just that bit easier on my hands.  I can't wait to cast on!!  Just hope I can knit the whole thing in the alloted time period!  Wish me luck! 

Oh, and if you want to join the fun of the KAL, it's not too late!  What could be better than watching well built men in lycra cycling across the beautiful French countryside, while knitting.  It's a feast for the eyes, I tell you!