28 April, 2008

Running breakthrough

This morning I woke up a little groggy from yet another night of strange, intense dreams. To clear my head, I went for my usual training jog, but this morning I decided to set my Nike+iPod thingy to 5k as my goal. And I ran it! Without stopping!

So I have officially reached my goal, but I'm not going to stop yet, because the race I'm signing up for is still several weeks away, and I'd like to try to improve my time (well, I'd really just like for the last kilometer or so to feel a little easier) so I'm going to keep pushing it.

I gotta admit... it feels great to have done something I couldn't do before. But I need to come clean about something: I have a paper to write that was due a week ago. I need to get that in ASAP... I guess sometimes you can't win 'em all.

Off to the playground!

23 April, 2008

Update: the one about running

I'm on Week 8 of the Couch to 5k program. This week I run for 28 minutes, three different times. I'm doing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (so I've already done it twice).

Twenty-eight minutes! Nonstop! That equaled 2.74 miles this morning.

I can't effing believe it. Running, I am doing you. SO THERE!

Update: the one about the knitting

Vacation knitting.

Vacation. Knitting.

Vacation = knitting.

So many ways to think about this, here. It took me about an hour and a half to pack my bag for the Folk School, and about 85% of that time was devoted to which projects I would bring, making copies of the patterns, debating over whether or not to follow Kelley Petkun's advice and bring a spare ball of yarn and some straight needles, in case I met someone who really wanted to learn (I did end up bringing supplies, but didn't teach anyone), and the science behind "how much yarn will I need for a given number of days on vacation." Which has probably been blogged about with more aptitude and witticism than I can do here, so I'll skip it, and just share my personal philosophy for packing more than a few days' worth of knitting at a time:

-Bring something skinny, something medium, and something fat. In other words, something with tiny needles and fingering weight yarn, something worsted that uses a US size 7 or 8, and then something bulky, if you want. The theory here is that your hands hurt less when you vary up the size of the things they're gripping. Just can't hold on to that sock yarn any more today? Whip out your scarf and work a couple dozen rows.

-Bring a no-brainer project that you absolutely will not have to look down at, for knitting after meals when everyone is sitting around or when you're going to be listening to a talk/concert/whathaveyou. Then, bring something just mentally engaging enough to keep you interested (socks are perfect) but not something you'll really need to pay lots of attention to. Then there's the "I'm learning something new on vacation" knitting, which requires lots of personal space and a pretty quiet room, so that you can re-read the directions for that new stitch pattern, or mumble over a lace chart, without being disturbed.

-Finally, bring more yarn than you think you'll need, and bring yarn you can tote around with you. Nothing too finicky that can't be stuffed into your bag and swung over your shoulder. Those things are not vacation projects. Unless your vacation promises to be really clean (mine never do).

So what did I bring? Well, I had to finish my pair of squeezed-out ankle socks, wrought from a leftover ball of not-enough-yardage sock yarn:

(you can see that I did indeed make it past the heel-turn and ribbed a significant enough amount to qualify them as functional socks)

I also brought my beloved and revered Silky Wool, and knit like crazy on it for four days in a row, and now have this to show for it:

Hooray, it's (going to be) a cardigan! I have deep azure buttons for it, which I never would have thought to put on a carrot-orange-red cardigan except that when I was at home I was cleaning out my junk drawer and found those buttons that I bought at a market in Saigon last year. Aha, I thought. That will just do. (Pictures of the buttons to be posted some time soon).

I had also brought some cheapo purple Wool-Ease to give the My So-Called Scarf a try, but realized after casting on that I needed bigger needles. So I put it away and focused like a crazy person on the cardigan. It's almost time to start the sleeves...

Update: the one about the Folk School

So, my spring break destination this year was the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. I took my 3rd ever class there, in basketry (the 1st one was a ceramics class on saggar firings and some raku; the 2nd class was the hot glass gateway class which totally, totally left an impression on me. And my wallet.)

We made baskets from kudzu vine, which was awesome. The vines we harvested were thick, long, heavy and unwielding. My arms and shoulders ached after an hour of wrestling 10 foot vines into under-over patterns. But it felt great to finally be doing something productive with that great invasive species (I'll admit to trying to smoke it back in the day, with neighborhood friends, in a desperate attempt to do something unholy after school; baskets are a much better idea).

My teacher, Regina Hines, is a kind person who really knows her stuff, yet has a very laid back way of instructing. She gave us a lot of freedom and I was able to complete a basket every class day, so five in all. There were only five of us in the class (four of whom were not insecure snobby ladies from Manhattan, but that's all that needs to be said here, really) and I loved being back at the school, eating in the dining hall, running on the trails, and hanging out on the Keith House porch. Tentative plans (are they ever anything but in this business?) have been laid yet again for my host dates. At some point in the next few years, I will spend 6 months living and working there. At some point. Time will tell.

I had a bit of a new experience this time since I wrote a research paper for my Masters last semester on the history of the folk art revival in the Southern Appalachians, with a particular focus on the Folk School, since it has such a well documented trail of, um, documents available for perusal. I got to really cozy up with a lot of the artifacts I studied (transcripts of conversations, photographs, drawn and written plans, etc) and it felt like I knew a lot more about the school as well as that specific part of Appalachian history. Anyone going to the Folk School should definitely go hand out in the History building, where all of the documents are superbly displayed.

So yeah: friends were made, connections were rekindled, music was played, baskets were woven, and a whole poo-load of stitches were stitched. More on spring break knitting in the next entry...

Update: the one about signs

As I was driving through western NC, o favoritist of favorite places, I saw some signs I thought you all might like. All punctuation or lack thereof come exactly from the signage.

1. "Don't wake up STUPID tomorrow (quit drinking and drugs today)"

2. "God send us someone to cure cancer AIDS etc."
"I did but you aborted them!" (doh!)

3. "Hill billy Church: wrangling souls for Jesus"

4. Then there was my favorite intersection: the corner of Granny Squirrel Gap and Sulfur Rd.

Oh, western NC, I love you.

02 April, 2008

Oh god, it's so late and I'm so tired but I must, must, must tell you this:

I have entered my 5th week of the Couch to 5k program. Two weeks ago I was struggling to run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, run for 3 minutes, etc. Last week I had advanced to run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, run for 5 minutes, walk for 90 seconds and repeat. This week I have increased my running times to 5 minutes and 8 minutes, with the short walks in between as above. Did you hear that? Eight minutes! Plus five, plus five, plus five! And this morning I actually sprinted a little bit, and my legs felt great and my lungs felt almost great.

Of course, now I'm tired as poop, and I still somehow have 2 more pages to tack on to the end of my paper which is due in 48 hours, and I still haven't packed for my break, and tomorrow we're putting almost $1,000 into the car because we love it and that's what responsible owners do.

Oh, and I finished my sweater. Pictures soon.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr