Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finally - a 'Knit Thing' post!

Good evening and Happy Thursday, everyone!

I have a long-planned post for today, but I wanted to say that I noticed I got a lot of traffic from Runs For Cookies (and even a few comments!) and I hope a few of you have added me to your RSS or blog reader. I think I added 10 blogs from the list of racers she put up, and was so excited to see my own name on that list!

Also, I mentioned in my last post that I bought a planner and started putting my crafting projects in it - well here's my memo to tell you that just putting it in a planner doesn't make it happen. I have a (simple enough) fleece tie-blanket to make. For myself.

I bought the fabric in December and got sidetracked with everyone elses' gifts, and it never got made. I fully intended to make it last night, but there was a miscommunication between my mom and myself about dinner (each thought the other was making it) and I ended up making dinner. And I may have made some double chocolate chip cookies too. I also went to my grandparents' house for a bit, and had errands to run right after work, and...well you get it.

So the blanket didn't get made last night. I'm hoping for Friday, but I have another something (a gift) to finish for someone before Saturday, as well as cooked thing to take to a party. And I have to do my taxes. And other stuff. It's all written down, and some of it will simply scoot from day to day until it gets done.

Which is okay!

Progress, not perfection, right? After all, we all know setting unrealistic expectations and goals increases the risk of failure. Being able to re-evaluate and adapt should be seen as a strength, rather than looking at a missed goal and seeing it as a failure.

But I digress. Here is a knit thing that I have now made two of! It's a Minecraft Creeper Pillow Case. This particular case is 20x20 inches, but you really just need to make a gauge swatch to change the sizes. The colors are complete random, except for the face pattern.

I did originally buy a pattern for this, but I wish I hadn't. The pattern used intarsia, and even the pattern maker's final product looked too "loose" - almost like there were too many holes caused by the intarsia. So rather than take that route, I knit this strips. Each column is one long strip, and each strip was seamed using mattress stitch.

Step One: Knit each strip. I numbered mine with tags so it'd be easier to sew them together.

Step Two: Start seaming! This part of the process is pretty time consuming, but you'll be glad you did it. It's also pretty cathartic to end up with such a seamless finish.

Line your two pieces up, left yo

Cut a length of yarn at least 2.5-3x the length of your strip.

Joining your yarn to the cast on tail of a strip.

Just separating it out to see how the stitch works.

A close up of the stitching process.

Half way there!

That's it! Knot it off, nothing fancy necessary.

Yay! That one's done! Repeat the process until you're finished :)

This is what the front of the pillow should look like before moving on.

Step Three: Knit the back. You're going to pick up stitches along the bottom and the top - the two will be knit separately, and then seamed along the sides. When picking up, pick up the number of stitches in each square, minus one. So if each column/strip is 10 stitches wide, you only want to pick up 9 stitches. This accounts for the stitches lost to seeming.

Just starting to pick up!

All the picked up stitches!
Knit in stockinette until you near the middle of the pillow, and then knit the ribbed band that the buttons/buttonholes will go on. Just a note: the buttons will be on the piece that you knit from the bottom of the pillow. You will need to add button holes on the ribbing coming from the top of the pillow (there are pictures of the back of the pillow at the end). Don't forget to swtich to smaller needles for the ribbing. This will help keep it tight and really hug the pillow in.

Step Four: When both the bottom and top flaps for the back have been knit, it's time to seam them to the sides. Start with the bottom, as you want it to be the "inside" flap.

I secured my first stitch by looping the working yarn through the slipknot I made.

It's a little difficult to see, but this is the first join stitch. You will mattress stitch exactly as you did for seaming the strips together, but this time your two pieces are already joined at the bottom.
Step Five: When you've finished seaming, it's time to add button holes! Lay the pillow out with the back up, and mark where each button should go. Sew them on, and you're done!

Ta da! The finished product, unstuffed.

I used round black buttons on this, but I think square buttons would look really cool!

With the pillow insert in!

Sorry for the terrible lighting on this...I guess my kitchen table isn't the best place for this :(

So there you have it! The long promised Creeper Pillow. I hope that was mildly informative and interesting for some people. Pattern instruction isn't my strength, but I know sometimes you just want to  know how it's made!

I will say, however, that although I find mattress stitch very fulfilling, I'm not going to be making another one of these pillows again. At least not anytime soon. Two was quite enough for me, thanks!

Do you knit or crochet? Have you ever started a project following the directions and then thrown caution to the wind and done your own thing? I don't know about anyone else, but I think it's a pretty liberating feeling!

If I don't post tomorrow, Happy Friday, and I hope everyone has a great weekend :)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I meant to put this post up last night, but I was shattered after Cam and I got back from the gym. I woke up super early yesterday (4:00am) and we didn't finish our workout until after 7:00. His new class/work schedule is brutal for both of us! But we got the workout done, and that's what matters!

So now, let me take a moment to say - Boy, oh boy do I wish it was spring already. I'm day dreaming about after work (outdoor) runs and bike rides. I miss the sun and warm!

Unfortunately, it is cold and slushy in Chicagoland, so there goes that day dream.

But I've got a few spare minutes, and what better way to spend it than talking about the plans I have for those summer months?!

First of all, let's start with the Runs For Cookies Virtual 5k that I participated in on Sunday! I've only ever run one other 5k (this past September), and I think I was more nervous for this one! My only goal when I ran the 5k in September was to not finish last (I didn't!). I was running with a friend and finished in something like 42:17. When I registered for the RfC 5k I put down my time goal as "42:17" because I simply wanted to do better, but as I started training I realized that was way too easy because I'd be running on a treadmill. So I adjusted my goal mentally - I wanted to do better than 39:00 min on the treadmill, and see if I could push it with an incline. I only trained for a few weeks before the race, and was sick for half of it with that lovely cold/upper respiratory infection, so that felt like a fair challenge to myself.

I have to say I was pretty happy with the results. I'd settled on doing a run/walk method of 5:1 (walk 5 minutes, run 1 minute) for the race, with a pace slightly under 11 min/mile. I extended my first run by a minute, and then kept with the 5:1 for the rest. Around 2 miles I could really tell my lungs were working and I was coughing during my walks - an unfortunate side effect of the upper respiratory thing. But I also realized that if I kept pace and pushed a bit at the end, I could wallop that 39:00 min goal. So I pushed. I sprinted the last two-tenths of a mile, and came in with a time of 36:24. Here I am, lovely and sweaty (and proud!) at the end:

So now that this particular 5k is over, I have a myriad of goals I'm going to attempt for 2015.

Ready? Here it is. I would like to run (in order):

  • A(nother) 5k - with my goal being to run the entire thing in under 36 minutes and 24 seconds (bet you didn't see that coming.
  • A 10k
  • A 15k
  • A half marathon
I'll say now that I have no desire to run a full marathon, but a half (that's 13.1 miles) seems like a good "long" distance, and I'd like to get to the point where I can run 8 miles comfortably if I want to. Aside from the 5k, I do not have any time goals for these. My goal is just to try and run and finish each race.

Although, perhaps the bigger goal is to complete the training. I realize that, more than anything, this is a huge time commitment to make. "Just running" is one thing...but I'm looking at a steady running schedule for the next 6-8 months (I'd like to do the half in August or September) and realizing that I need to commit time and consciousness to eating and sleeping well - and to strength training.

I feel like I've had an overhaul in motivation since joining the DietBet this month. It really inspired me because it got me into a steady work-gym-healthy eating schedule and mind set. Working out went from that thing I could do after work, to being a non-negotiable (except when I was sick).

But I'll admit, I need a little help staying organized with all of this, so I went out and bought a planner on Monday!

I feel like I've been over extending myself a bit, and like I need a place I can actually write down the things that fly through my head at times. So I bought a colorful planner and an assortment of pens, and I hope it can at least help me feel a bit more organized. I plan on putting my workout and running schedules into it, as well as notes about the crafting projects I have to finish since I have a few works-in-progress that need to be wrapped up that I keep forgetting about. I'll be honest, it's nice to have the room open in my brain again!

So there it is! Everything from Sunday to today, laid out bare. And those goals. They are finally out of my head for other people to actually see. Until now I'd only told two people, and words that hang in the air are much easier to ignore than ones you can see in front of your face.

Here it is. The time to hit publish. Time to let everyone else see it...

...oh man.

Edit: If you're reading this and you're a runner, do you have any advice?! I plan on using Hal Higdon's novice methods. Any input, advice, or experiences are welcome, just leave a comment!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Long day.

I fully intended to post tonight, but now I'm just not feeling it. It has been a long day, filled with ups and downs, and now it's time for bed. Night!