Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Not over until its Over.

Funny thing about this race.  Dallas Seavey will probably be getting to Nome in the wee hours tomorrow morning, for his third Iditarod Win.  The race doesn't end there.  Until the last musher allowed comes into Nome, winning the Red Lantern, this race goes on.  There's a bit of money even for those at the back of the pack.

So maybe another 5 days until the Red Lantern, meaning I have that amount of time to complete the sweater that never ends.  Usually enjoy fair isle but didn’t take into consideration that this sweater is way more than 60 inches around what with the body and two sleeves in an XL. So about every 20 stitches I have to drop the two strands I’m holding to shove stitches along the cable. Was really really glad to get back to only using one color. 

I think next time this might be approached differently. I like working up 2 sleeves at once, although leap frogging on 2 separate sleeves would work too. It’s the attaching and then the huge mass to keep moving and the stitches on the cable too. Perhaps a larger gauge with a larger needle would feel better. 
Am using Rowan felted tweed which is classed as DK so I thought I’d be using US 6 or 7 needles but it's more like a heavy fingering or sportweight yarn so I’m using US 5’s. Sorry to whine. 5 more rounds and I can bind off a bunch of stitches for the deep collar area and go into row knitting. By then I should be noticing fewer stitches, I hope. I also hope I can get this done by the Red Lantern. This race is moving so fast. Thought I could keep up with Ellen Halverson but she scratched, sigh. And now the one's in last place are moving right along.

And here's one of Jessie Royer's pups.
Isn't she the sweetest.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On the Coast - Unalakleet

The first town the mushers get to on the coast is Unalakleet.  It is accessable only by boat, sled or air but has 2 restaurants and 2 grocery stores nonetheless.  One of our Iknitarod moderators lives there so we get great reporting from the coast (Shown above at sunset)

She's been keeping us up to date on the weather.  There were 35 mph winds yesterday.  I don't want to know what that meant in minus whatever wind chill.  They've been getting ready for days for the onslaught of reporters, officials and mushers coming in and through.  There's a prize for getting to the coast first and Aaron Burmeister won it.  Actually he's won several prizes along the way already.
Aaron's team

Special berms of snow have been made to protect the dogs from the relentless wind.

This is a big checkpoint for dropping dogs and picking up a fresh sled.  Not all mushers can afford to ship a sled, but the veterans usually have enough sponsorhip to afford it.  All mushers have bags of food and supplies that they leave in Anchorage before the race which are shipped to most of the checkpoints by plane.

scrap wood for heating water for the teams

 Not the bright pink label for DeeDee's sled

Drop bags for Jodi Bailey and Rohn Buser

Aliy Zirkle, Jef King, Dallas Seavery and Mitch Seavey have already been through this checkpoint.  Some stayed to rest for a bit, others just to snack their dogs and off they go over the Blueberry Hills to Shaktoolik.

I'm working on the body of the sweater and the sleeves at the same time.
A zillion stitches around per round it seems.  Even though I am decreasing 8 sts every other round, that doesn't seem to register much yet.  Plus I'm using my largest cable, 60", which is not near the circumference of this sweater if the chest is 49 and each sleeve is 18.  So I have to shove stitches around every 20 or so knit.  Slog slog slog for 10 more rounds.  Then I get to cast off a bunch for the neck band and work back and forth.  That doesn't thrill me either but I'm going to learn Brazilian Protugese purling on Wednesday night and the new skill will make my purling easier and faster.  I might even grow to like it which is the object of the lesson Rosanne will be giving us at Knit Knite.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting to the Coast

The race always seems faster in the second half.  Don't know why.  Front runners are due into Unalakleet, the first town on the Coast, later today.

If you have read the story by Danny Seavey about Lance Mackey in yesterday's blog then you'll understand the widespread respect folks in Alaska have for this man.  If you haven't you might enjoy a story about a man who overcomes adversity on a regular basis.

Meanwhile I have attached the sleeves to the sweater body.
  Sheesh is that a handful to hold now.  This is the first sweater I've done in this fashion.  All other sweater have been top down and I add the sleeves after the entire body is done.  Granted top down also works on the sleeves to the armpits but doesn't feel as cumbersome and huge to hold.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Halfway to Nome

It's been a fast exciting week.  The the severe cold in the north has Lance Mackey's hands frostbitten.  Then Brent Sass, who won the Yukon Quest this year and was definitely in position to win this race, was Disqualified (DQ) for carrying a newer iPod.  The newer ones are capable of two-way communication and that's a huge no no in this race.  Even though many mushers use one on the trail, someone told someone about Brent's and then there was no choice for the judges but to DQ him from the race.  The speculation is that the bushes around Tanana are now full of used frozen iPods.  :)

It’s also the third year of the Fantasy Iditarod Game (the page comes in slowly), sponsored by Danny Seavey. Basically we pick 7 mushers totalling $27,000 (each musher has an assigned $$ based on past performance). Scores are added by times between checkpoints and who gets into a checkpoint in what order. 
When Brent Sass got DQ’d it threw a large monkey wrench into the game as over 300 of us chose him as one of our 7. Bam! Down to the bottom of the pile we went. All his accrued pts were disappeared. sigh 
I just about gave up checking the spreadsheet when we got an email from Danny saying he had a special button on the spreadsheet called ‘ipod’. Click on that button and magically we are back in the game with only 6 mushers. Too cool.
Danny Seavey is some kind of spreadsheet genius, besides being a very good writer (this story tells a brief story of Lance Mackey, probably running his last Iditarod). The first two years Danny spent most of every evening updating the sheets. This year he figured out how to have the spreadsheet automatically update itself at each checkpoint. WOW!!!! Fun game!

Been working on Bryan's sweater and am now only an inch or so from attaching the sleeves to the body.  Sleeves in the sunshine!

Jeff King won the first musher to Galena Prize.
A fantastic meal and money.
Us crazy knitters were so busy looking at the hand knit sweater he was wearing (the pattern under the dogs is actually paw prints) we failed to see all the cash sitting on the table.

This is the first year the Iditarod has gone through the mushing town of Huslia near the arctic.  Several original serum run mushers came from there and a famous Alaskan sprinter too.
The village of 275 people really came all out for the race.
Aaron Burmeister was the first musher in to this village and they all came out to greet him.

It's -31 in Huslia and they take it in stride.

Aliy, who has come in 2nd in this race 3 times, is the first musher to leave Huslia.
It's only halfway through the race so we still can't tell who the real frontrunners will be but once the times are adjusted (to compensate for when they left Fairbanks), in the next few hours, we'll begin to see them appear.  I really want to wear the Iditarod T-shirt that says,
"Alaska, where men are men and women win the Iditarod."
It's been too long.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's Iknitarod time again.

Once again the prize for getting through February is the Iditarod and Iknitarod in March. The Ceremonial  Start was yesterday. They trucked in as much snow as remained in the Anchorage barns but after such a warm winter there wasn't much, plus it rained yesterday leaving mostly slush for the teams in the back of the pack.

Slushy rainy warm downtown Anchorage

Mike Santos navigating a snowless trail outside of Anchorage.

I am challenging myself to complete Bryan's sweater. It got started late as it was supposed to be a Xmas present but the measurements were unknown until late late Nov.  Then, once I saw it couldn't possibly get done in time I let it go to work on other things.  Then I Had Surgery which limited my ability to work on any knitting that needed a bunch of thinking. Sweaters, in general, aren't hard but I always add something to keep my interest.  This time I started from the bottom and worked in stripes.  Before the race started yesterday I had completed the body up to the armpits.
Magoo is recouping after his pre race run. 

Yesterday I got the first sleeve done to where the stripes end.  Actually I started both sleeves together on one needle but managing 4 balls of alpaca blend wool proved too crazy making so I put one sleeve on dpns to wait.
 Why the camera made the sweater grey is beyond me. And writing this blog on my iPad without the external keypad is totally nuts as it keeps hiding the writing screen and not allowing me to scroll.  sheesh....  Turned it portrait which helps some.  

After all, the real purpose of doing two sleeves at once is to keep them even.   I had an aha moment after untangling umpteen twisted strands.  I figured out that since I was counting stripes, there was no way the sleeves would get uneven until they were just one color.  Whew!  So much eaiser to handle.
Late last night I got sleeve #2 up to the last stripe as well. Now to join them again and work on them, work with only 2 balls of yarn, adding stitches as needed up to the armpits.  Again the color is wrong.

Today the mushers travel up to Fairbanks where there is plenty of snow.  

Official ReStart is tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

HIPpy News - A Recap

I've been posting small progress reports in the Iknitarod Forum on Ravelry.  Thought I'd recap them here for those of you who don't spend all some of your free time on that Social Network.
Surgery took place on January 14.  I came home 4 days later.

(Thursday, January 22), 
I am recovering from hip replacement surgery so am a bit slow at the moment. Don’t yet know when I can get back to dyeing. Might be a month or more.
Each year I come up with an Iditarod colorway in yarn for youse guys to play with. Anyone have any ideas besides the needed white? 
light bulb here. A sparkly white sounds interesting and fun. And the more I think of this the more excited I am to design a one skein fingering wimple/snood/smoke ring pattern of lacey snowflakes and optional silver or white beads. UNdyed would keep the costs to you way down and still be in the spriit of the race. 
Whaddya think?

(Friday, January 23)

Am healing very well. Ahead of the curve. Hope to be off the walker and using a cane by some time next week. I’ll know more on Wed when all the bandages come off. But I am putting full weight on the leg now for short periods of time, faithfully doing my exercises and trying not to do too much by myself which drives Jim crazy as he worries I’ll fall. Haven’t fallen yet and don’t plan on it either. I did have to frog all the knitting I did while in hospital. Even thought I Only took simple knitting I made a mess of it. Oh well…..
Been looking at stitch patterns. Will order some sparkly fingering today so I can start the design next week. 
People might choose silver or white or pale blue/periwinkle beads.

(Friday, January 23)

I thnk so too. The hospital I went to has a ward dedicated to joint replacement. It’s called Joint Camp ala boot camp with nurses and care partners that make us get up, walk, do exercises, breathe, etc 
Sent home with a 100 page booklet delineating each week’s progress and expectations. Jim says I’m doing well and exceeding expectations. A lot of the after surgery improvement relies on pre surgery exercises. Faithfully did mine for 3 months before.

(Tuesday, January 27)

1 reply  

My legs are now the same length. Maybe first time in 20 years. So my muscles are dloing a lot of adjusting. What’s really bugging me at this point is my knee. They thought it was my knee for years. I have a huge collection of knee braces. The patella was loose often for the past year until finally this orthopod took hip Xrays. He couldn’t believe I was walking without a cane.
I graduated from the walker to a cane yesterday. Tomorrow the bandages come off and the weather is cooperating as we need to drive almost an hour each way to the appointment.
1 reply  

(Friday, January 30)
1 reply  
Oh you can be my role model!!!! 
Bandages are off!! Can now walk a bit in the house sans cane. 
Can now take a shower.
Walked back and forth, albeit slowly, watering plants today. 
Meds are slowly getting spaced farther apart and my clear mind is returning 
Doc said the knee pain is a result of swelling. Eventually as the muscles get adjusted to living with a leg the correct length and a hip that rotates, the swelling will go away.

posted about 1 month ago (Saturday, January 31)
1 reply  
Thank you. I expect the ease to come in time. Certainly the pain I had before is mostly gone and now I am sleeping through the night comfortably. Before HIP I dreaded going to sleep so stayed up as late as possible until I couldn’t sit up any longer. Modern medical miracle is what I call it.

And there was knitting done too!
posted 19 days ago (Thursday, February 12)
1 reply  
My sister’s Valentine’s present (quiviut/cria hand spun iCorded necklace and bracelet) is ready and being packed up to mail right now. So that one item on my Quest list is done.

posted 17 days ago (Saturday, February 14), edited 17 days ago
Really beautiful. Going to be such a delight to wear. May have to make one with leftovers. I love the idea of spring flowers on a winter hat being knit in February.
You inspired me! 
Well, last Tuesday night Jim came home with a large bag of food goodies sent to us by his co teacher (they teach a 4 yr course on both testaments at his church). Peg grows a large garden so is generous all summer but this was over the top. Enough food for several meals. Since Jim has been doing all the shopping and cooking since my hip replacment, this was very welcomed. However I did feel she needed something besides a thank you in return. I remembered she was asking about fingerless mitts last fall and Jim knew the colors she like sooo……. 
I took a basic mitt pattern and did my thing. Seems I can’t help doing my thing on almost every pattern, even when I say I’m just going to follow it exactly. Never happens, nope, never. 
So your corrugated ribbing edging got me started and here is the result. (thumb still needs to be completed) Done with 2 strands of fingering held together. The hand pattern is very dense so very warm. I used some leftover orange in the cuff and edging but think it would work very well with just a colorway and one solid. I’ll have the pattern up on Rav in 3 sizes by tomorrow methinks.

posted 13 days ago (Wednesday, February 18)


posted 7 days ago (Tuesday, February 24), edited 7 days ago
Yesterday I realized that I am healed enough to be a danger to myself. Haven’t taken any pain meds in two days. With all that snow I feel as though I am on house arrest. My DH still has to drive me anywhere I want to go. He’s an angel about it but I’ve been dependent for almost 6 weeks now and it’s getting very old. I want to go pick out some thread to ply with some roving or use with some yarn. I feel that’s non essential so don’t want to ask him to wait around in JoAnnes while I pick out thread.
Off the cane for the most part. Showering by myself. Still doing my exercises 3 times a day. Stair climbing is still limited as is certain leg movements and bending. Dropped my iPhone yesterday and, without thinking, bent down and picked it up. uh oh. That’s a no no and I did feel something twinge. I would attempt walking outside but the wind chill is -20. sigh, never mind the daily snow accumulation that Alaska should be getting. Still sleeping in the LR on the recliner until I’m allowed more stair climbimg as my BR is upstairs. Whine Wine wine. Perhaps I need to be drinking wine as I’m thinking those pain meds kept me nice and laid back.
10 more days until I see the surgeon who should remove some restrictions, like driving, I hope.
OK those of you who have gone through this--- got any wise suggestions?

Thank you. That’s a really good idea.(walking in a mall) Jim has an appointment near the mall on Friday. Perhaps he can drop me off and pick me up an hour later at the same door. If I get tired I can sit on a bench but it would be a large change of pace and scenery. And it would be way more interesting than walking around the house 10 -15 times. Don’t really like malls much but for now, they are flat and not snowy or icy.

posted 7 days ago (Tuesday, February 24)
1 reply  
OK 10 days to see the doc and counting. 
I did design the Snow Dance Cowl and a hat but am now slogging through a summer cardi. Only last night I discovered I was using the wrong gauge so it’s 8-10” too big. I know if I frog it all the way back I might not finish it since its done in fingering yarn on US4’s. sigh. However maybe I can just frog back to where I separated the sleeves off and not add stitches connecting the front with the back. That would eliminate about 5-6 inches. Might keep me occupied. And this is my design too. I have figured out I am intrinsically incapable of just following a pattern. I make so many changes on the original it becomes a different design by the time I am through.

posted 6 days ago (Tuesday, February 24)
Frogged back 5 inches to the sleeve separation. 
Realized that every other row is purled so I stopped with a purl row, therefore didn’t mess up the lace panels.
Got clever and put it on a towel so when the beads bounced off they were caught in the terrycloth. This should go relatively fast as I got rid of 28 stitches which is about 6 out the 10 inches needed. I can live with that as I’ll call it positive ease. Onward. Thank you all for helping. 
I agree about separate sleeves never quite matching. Good idea. Might do mine cuff up 2 at a time and then kitchener them to the sleeve starts.

posted 6 days ago (Wednesday, February 25)
1 reply  

I did manage to go out to the shop this morning and get orders ready. First time in 6 weeks. Major Progress. 
I am sorely tempted to go sleep in my bed for the first time since last April when stair climbing got awful. I was on the LR couch until the surgery, then on a recliner since. However there is no bathroom up there and I do need to use one a couple times in the night. hmmmnnnnnnn

posted 5 days ago (Wednesday, February 25)
1 reply  
It’s not the safely I’m concerned about it’s the amount of times in a day. Today is 6 weeks to its a big marker. 
oooh oooh oooh. I just read on p62 of my Hip Book, weeks 6-12 -- 
“Your range of motion precautions for your hip only need to followed for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, we only request that you not put the hip in an extreme position such as trying to put your thigh on your chest.” WOW!!!! So does this mean I can put on my sock without the aid? That I can dry my toes by myself. I think I’ll call to check.

Good thing I called.  No I still have major restrictions for another 6 weeks.  But I am now cleared for driving once I feel comfortable enough.

posted 1 day ago (Sunday, March 1)
Ironically, now that I have had hip surgery I am never to put my knee against my chest again. Lots of other exercises, but not that one among others like jogging and repetitive wt lifting. However my doc said I could go back to kayaking this summer. outta sight! Haven’t been in a kayak in over 2 years and the spreading of the legs to straddle the kayak is allowed by then. hip hip hooray!

posted 1 day ago (Monday, March 2)
1 reply  
That’s what the doc promised and it’s already coming true. I dyed 2 pans of fiber with no pain while walking. Major change. 
Just walked 0.82 miles on the treadmill in 30 min. I know that’s slow but that’s what I was told to do until I work it up. Eventually the goal is 5 miles. No pain, just tired muscles. What a change!!!!!

Today I walked a half mile on the road.  It has a slight incline coming back so that is good too.  Everyday more progress.  Everyday I realize one more thing I can do without pain.  This is very good.