The Dark

The nights are longer and longer here just south of the 49th parallel. I rise in the dark and wait for the weak winter light to filter through my windows. Soon I will come home in the dark as well. During these long nights and short days I am most grateful for running. Feeling the sun shine on my face and penetrate my psyche is nourishing to my mind and body. 


Don’t do what I did

Don’t make the Lace Leaf Pullover as written. Don’t knit it in two pieces. Don’t expect that the pattern will make sense. Make this sweater, but only if you are willing to rework the pattern. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the details:

Pattern: Lace Leaf Pullover by Teva Durham. 

Source: I have the book excerpt published in the Summer 2005 issue of Interweave Knits, but it’s also in the book, Loop D Loop

Yarn: recycled Aran weight yarn that I have had in my stash for at least 8 years (and maybe closer to 10)

Needles: size 13 circular. 

Size: a little smaller than the smallest size

Now, on to the problems with this pattern. One: there are math errors, at least in the version I have. And the link to errata from the Ravelry page leads nowhere. So, since I knew there were errors but couldn’t access the corrections I ignored it when the stitch count was off and just made sure that everything would line up properly in the end. The errors were in the sleeves and I knew I would be shortening them anyway. And I’ve knit more than 10 sweaters in my lifetime and I am of a non-standard (I can shop in the juniors section because I am only 5 feet tall) size so I’ve modified most of them in some way. The 2 important points in knitting sleeves is this: they shouldn’t cut off your circulation, give you sweater wings or eat your hands AND the bind off and stair step bind offs and decreases that make up the sleeve cap should match the same in the armholes. Or at least be close enough to fudge. 

Now, for the second problem: the completely counter-intuitive, unnecessarily complicated and unflattering construction. This pattern is written so that you knit the bottom half of the sweater from the bottom up, then set aside. Then you knit the top of the sweater from the neck down. Finally, you graft the two halves together. This is completely unnecessary. If I were to make this sweater again I would just knit it from the top Dow, reversing thenlace leaf pattern on the bottom of the sweater. This method of construction also leaves a visible line in the middle of the sweater. A line right across the middle of your torso. I tried several different ways of grafting together the two halves.  First, I used Kitchener stitch as the pattern instructs. This was the result

This produced a really obvious line. I picked it out. Then I flipped the sweater inside out and used Kitchener stitch again. There was still a really obvious line. Finally I settled on a 3 needle bind off, worked with the right sides of the sweater together. There is still a line, but it’s much less obvious. And I have to say, I like the sweater. I like the asymmetrical sleeves. I like the way the collar comes up on the neck and has a button. It’s a cute, quick,slouchy sweater. It’s perfect for wearing around town on the weekends. It’s just too bad that the pattern wasn’t well constructed.

Becoming a Runner

My heart was pounding. I could feel it beating against my ribs. My breath came in rapid, shallow bursts. It felt like a 300 pound man was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t think. My thoughts raced. I was having a panic attack. Another one. 

I was sitting in my office and I knew that I wasn’t going to get any more work that day so I went home. Home to the the second floor apartment I had moved into a month earlier, a month after my husband of 9 years told me he wanted a divorce. When I got there I thought: I can sit on my couch and listen to my blood pound in my ears or I can do something else. Anything else. I decided to run.

It was an unseasonably warm day in early April, 2013. I pulled on a pair of running shoes from the back of my closet and a t shirt and shorts and headed outside. I told myself I would run until I was tired and then I would turn around and run home. And that’s what I did. I ran until I my breathing steadied and my heart rate slowed. Until my already heavy legs felt tired from work instead of stress. 

I can’t remember how far I ran or how long or even returning to my apartment. What I do remember is the bright sunlight and the warmth hitting my sides and my legs and my arms. And I remember feeling more at peace than I had in a very long time after that run. After that initial run I decided that I would run every morning that I didn’t have my son with me. And I stuck with that. 3 or 4 mornings a week (depending on my custody schedule) I would pull on running shoes and head out the door. At first I ran short distances– 1 mile, 2. It was at least a month before I even thought to calculate my distance. I ran without a phone. The only thing I would take was my keys and my second generation iPod. 

I felt freedom. And peace. This was the beginning. 

About breakfast

So, yeah. Breakfast. It’s important. You should definitely be eating it. It’s really important to put some fuel in your tank after fasting for 8 or more hours. For years, before I had a kid, I didn’t eat breakfast. I would get up in the morning minutes before I needs to leave the house, grab coffee, and subsist on the caffeine, milk and sugar until lunchtime. And when lunch came I would be positively starving. Once I had a kid that never slept I did start eating breakfast but I didn’t really think about what I was putting in my body. Usually I ate cereal. That was ok but loading up on high sugar breakfast cereal isn’t the best choice either. I didn’t really think about breakfast, really think about it, until I started running.

Once I started running breakfast became a necessity. I would get up in the morning, throw on my running clothes, and go out for 20 minutes, 30, 45. And when I got back I would drink a glass of water and shower. I needed food when I was done and I had no time or energy to think about what I was going to have. My first foray into “breakfast” was oatmeal. I would put 1/3 c. of steel cut oats in a bowl with a handful of dried fruit and set a Pyrex measuring cup with 2/3 c. water in it next to the bowl. When I would return to my second story apartment after the run I would stumble through the door, pour the water in the bowl, then shove the bowl in the microwave and turn it on before jumping in the shower. 10 minutes later I would emerge. My oatmeal would be ready and I would eat it standing up before running out the door to get to work. This method lasted about a year, maybe a little longer.


Then I decided to run a marathon. That’s when I really got serious about breakfast. I started out making smoothies: Greek yogurt, greens, frozen blueberries, a banana and enough milk to make it all blend. That was good and lasted for several months (probably six.) then I decided to change it up again. I found a recipe for chia seed and oatmeal pudding on the Oh She Glows blog. I modified the recipe to make it less sugary: oatmeal, chia seeds, coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom. I would eat it every morning with a banana on top. Also good. Lately, I’ve been eating a slice of toast with tahini butter and a banana. This breakfast has the most protein of any of the options I’ve explored so far. It has protein, carbs and sugar. I also have a cup of coffee every morning. Caffeine not only helps me wake up and get energized, it also has analgesic properties, which help me run easier.¬†image

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