Knitted :: for my run/walk buddy (Mochimochi Martian)

A year ago this past weekend, I ran my first official half-marathon and had my most beautiful race experience ever, at the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. Two days later, the Boston Marathon Bombing happened; that night, my then-eight-year-old asked if he could go for a run with me. I blogged about that experience here.

I had high hopes of continuing my runs with him, as well as of preparing for a full marathon. But a few days later, I realized I was injured, and my recovery took longer than expected. In the year since all of that, I’ve stopped and started running a few times, setting and revising goals all along. I won’t bore you with the details, but the upshot is that by mid-February this year, (after already giving up the goal of a full marathon in late fall), I realized I needed to quit trying to prepare to run the same half-marathon again this spring. In fact, I’ve taken a break from running pretty much entirely for now, and have devoted myself to something else in the interim, which I’ll share about when the time is right.

It’s funny how sometimes in order to receive some new gift in your life you have to let go of something else first. Within a few days of releasing the goal of my next half-marathon, and of giving up running entirely (for now), my son asked me if I would help him train for the kids’ marathon at the same event. The idea is that, over a period of several weeks, kids log miles with the goal of completing 25 miles before race day. Then on race day, all the kids run 1.2 miles together. The focus is on completing the distance not on being fast (the race isn’t timed at all). The kids who do it, receive the same medal that the adult marathon runners do.

Little Buddha didn’t care whether we ran or walked for our training; in fact, he preferred to mostly walk. So in mid-February, when it was still bitterly cold and snowy, we began our walks together. I rarely get time with just one child, but Tiny Dancer had no interest in joining us, so it was just the two of us for all those miles. Most of the time, he did all the talking, while I got to listen. A few times, he asked really important questions, or shared pretty deep thoughts.  Sometimes he would slip his hand into mine while we walked. Little Buddha was focused on winning that medal, but I felt like I got my reward every time we walked – time with him.

When race day was almost here, I decided to make him something special, in celebration of his achievement. Since the race is martian-themed, I went with a tiny alien from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give:

mini-martian

mini-martian

THE CUTE, y’all. I could hardly stand it. I didn’t have fingering weight yarn in the right shade, so I went with Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool DK in lime along with some light bright blue for the antennae (I think it’s called “lakeshore”) and some navy for the eyes. Because I used a heavier yarn than the pattern calls for, he’s a little bigger than the book shows. But he’s still pretty little:

little alien in my hand

little alien in my hand

Little Buddha carried him along for the race packet pick-up:

a martian for luck

a martian for luck

And brought him to the start line:

martian invasion

martian invasion

And actually ran while holding him. In fact, the alien’s a little felted now, from the sweat and the friction. And the love!

Though we mostly walked for our 25 miles of training, we ran a good bit of the 1.2 miles on Saturday. It was a perfect day for it, and doing stop-start slowish running with a kid didn’t seem to aggravate my injury too much. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

marathon medal!

marathon medal!

Of course he had the handknit alien in the other hand.

If you are a runner, you know how great it feels to cross the finish line. If you are the parent of a runner, you know how wonderful it is to see them cross the finish line. If you are a knitter, you know how amazing it feels to see someone cherish something you’ve made for them. So yeah, I was pretty much feeling all the feels on Saturday.

with all his bling

with all his bling

And now I basically want to knit all the teeny-tiny mochimochi toys for my kids and everyone else.

raveled

Knit Penguins, Not Penguin Sweaters

It’s hard to deny the cuteness of penguins in handknit sweaters, which explains the social media traction of those articles asking knitters to make sweaters for penguins affected by oil spills. Of course, the actual need for those itty-bitty sweaters has been debunked – most of the sweaters either end up unused or on stuffed penguins, the sales of which do tend to benefit wildlife charities. Still, I’d rather donate directly to charity and save my crafting time for other pursuits.

Like knitting wee penguins!

Teeny-tiny mochimochi penguin

Teeny-tiny mochimochi penguin

A couple of years ago, I bought the book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give, with the idea of knitting some holiday-themed itty-bitty toys to donate to our school’s holiday bake and craft sale. I never made anything, though, because I never seemed to have the right yarn available.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I hopped into a new craft store on my side of town. They sell a little yarn, a little fiber, and a few other things – including little Mochimochi kits. I couldn’t resist the wee penguin kit, which came with the pattern and enough yarn to make three penguins.

a handful of teeny penguins

a handful of teeny penguins

This was a super-gratifying quick-knit palate-cleanser type project after finishing Little Buddha’s sweater last week. I am usually bad about finishing stuffies – I tend to stall out at the finishing (the stuffing, or the seaming, or the embroidering). But these are so tiny and fast that it was almost impossible to stall out.

wee penguins in a row

wee penguins in a row

They didn’t turn out perfect, not by a long shot, but they are so little and so whimsical that it doesn’t really matter to me.

I see a lot more tiny mochimochi in my future.

Some spinning > no spinning

My spinning goal for the year has been 14 pounds. So far this year, I have spun … 12 ounces. Oh well, some spinning is better than no spinning, right?

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This is 4 ounces Hello Yarn Limited Edition American Wool Blend in “Ships and Whales and Icebergs,” (March 2013 Fiber Club) spun as a standard 2-ply, yielding 385 yards DKish- weight.

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I split the fiber once vertically down the middle, spun the first half straight as it came onto one bobbin, and then tore the second half into smaller chunks horizontally (four of them, I think), and spun from different ends of those smaller chunks all onto a second bobbin, then plied the two bobbins together. The effect was some barber-poling and some color-matching.

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Love that shot of blue!

I have no particular intentions for this yarn. I just wanted to spin it up. So I did.

Work-in-progress Wednesday :: all done but the weaving, the blocking, the wearing

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On Monday night, I finished Little Buddha’s sweater. Just in time for 60-degree weather! He was still happy about it, proclaiming that his insistence that I work only on this one project worked out really well.

I still have to weave in the ends and block it. And then I’ll probably have to rip and add length to the arms and body so he can actually wear it next season….

Crackerjack :: One week in

We got to go to our first Tigers game of the year this weekend.

Ready for the game!

Ready for the game!

The boys wore the jerseys my parents gave them for Christmas. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Fifty degrees is still a little chilly, but after the winter we’ve had, it felt like a real spring day. It was actually a perfect afternoon for taking in a game.

RAWR!

RAWR!

Hello, Comerica Park! It’s great to see you again!

Miggy!

Miggy!

The day before we went, Miguel Cabrera made his 2000th hit, the second-youngest player ever to reach that milestone. We were hoping to see him his number 2001, but it was not to be. We did, however, get to see my guy Torii Hunter hit a 3-run double and a 2-run homer. Over the weekend, he hit three homers in three games. Love that guy!

 

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Yeah, baby!

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Chillaxin’ in the sun

The Tigers entered the top of the ninth up 7-1. But then Phil Coke took the mound, and all I’ll say about that is that by the time the game was over, the score was 7-6. It was a nailbiter. A win is a win, though!

After the game

After the game

We left the stadium happy! And then we saw a guy propose to his girlfriend in front of this giant tiger stadium, so that was cool. Also, after four games, the Tigers were the only undefeated team in the MLB!

Of course, nothing lasts forever. And sure enough, the Tigers lost against the Orioles yesterday afternoon. Which means:

4 wins, 1 loss

4 wins, 1 loss

I knit my first white stripe on my Crackerjack.

I’m not crying, though. At .800, the Tigers are currently leading the league. I’ll take it! Hmm, how about a wire-to-wire season, boys?

I hope that regardless of how you’re team is doing, you’re enjoying working on your Crackerjack! It has been so fun to see everyone’s projects in the works. I find I’m not only keeping up with my own team, but I’m more aware than ever of how the other teams are doing. This first week of the baseball season has been a blast!

Plotting for a handspun handknit shawl

I say “plotting” but I really mean “obsessing.”

I am finishing up my current spin (I’m about halfway done with the plying, which I think I’ll finish tonight), but after that, this is going on the wheel:

FLUFF

FLUFF

That is 4 ounces of Merino/Silk in the colorway “Lost,” from FLUFF (which, sadly, no longer exists – but, happily for me, I still have quite a bit in my stash). I have hung onto this fiber for almost four years now, not sure exactly what it would grow up to be. Sometimes I spin fiber just because I love it, and I decide later how I will use it. Other times, I wait until I have a sense of what I want to knit the fiber into, so that I know how I want to spin it. That is the case with this.

Earlier this week, Kirsten Kapur released a new shawl design, Saranac. I am totally obsessed with this pattern, y’all! Crescent-shaped is currently my favorite shawl shape, and the design of this one is so fun. I love the border and the inventive way it’s designed. I immediately imagined knitting it in some sort of blue or blue-green handspun, something with silk in it, to wear on vacation this summer. I went stash-diving and was thrilled to find this fiber.

yum

yum

I think it’s going to be perfect! The pattern calls for 550yds of fingering weight, which will be a challenge for me to get out of 4 ounces. I could do it if I just spin the fiber as singles, but I was really wanting to do this spin as a 2-ply. We’ll see how it goes.

Would anyone be interested in spinning along with me for this project? I’ve started a thread on Ravelry in the Through the Loops group, for anyone who might want to spin for this. I’m super-excited about both the spin and the knit.

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Of course I can’t cast on for anything until I finish Little Buddha’s sweater. He is policing my every crafting effort at this point, so I’m sure I’ll finish soon, right?

Work-in-progress Wednesday :: Sleeve Island

It’s not so much that I’m stuck on Sleeve Island as it is that I have been here longer than I’d like and I’m ready to be done. I find knitting sleeves so tedious once the body is done – both because it seems like I should be done with the sweater already and because I hate having the bulk of the body to deal with (i.e., continually turn and rearrange) while doing the small circumference knitting of the sleeves. But I need to just quit my whining and finish up already.

The Deuce, with cat

The Deuce, with cat

I am to the point of adding the stripes to the sleeve, then the ribbing, and then it’s on to the second sleeve. I would love to be done with this by the end of this coming weekend, because I am ready to move on to Spring things!

Crackerjack cast-on :: a WIN

I promise I won’t be reporting on each and every Detroit Tigers game and each and every Crackerjack stripe, but of course for the season opener I can’t help but photo-document:

Win, baby!

Win, baby!

I didn’t get to watch the game, but I did obsessively check MLB.com. I was out running errands last night after the game ended, and it was super-fun to see so many people in their Tigers gear. It was also 60 degrees out, so it actually felt like a real Opening Day. Meanwhile, I got myself a new Tigers sweatshirt, because I’m going to the game on Saturday and it will not be 60 degrees then.

After much angst about my yarn options, I finally went with my original selection – Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool in Worsted – on smaller needles than I originally planned. After swatching, I determined that my new gauge is 4.75sts/inch. I totally forgot to measure my row gauge before unraveling my swatch, but it will be something less than my original calculations yielded, which is great. That orange (Stonehedge, in “Creamsicle”) is not the orange I’m using for the actual stripes, that’s just waste yarn for my provisional cast-on. And as I keep saying, the blue, though not a true navy, is not quite as royal looking as this picture might lead you to believe. I cast on 60 stitches on size 5 needles and am knitting two rounds per game.

We’ve got over 60 knitters in the Crackerjack Knitters Ravelry group now, with many (but not all) teams represented. If you are knitting along, you might want to come on over and join us!