Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ultimate Workout Playlists: collected

So, since my new job (yay!) will mean that I won't have the leisure to arrange my workouts around available spin classes, I figure some new workout mixes are called for. There are a couple of blogs that have featured some, so I figured I'd collect them here.
Women's Health Magazine Strength Training Playlist:
1. Let's Get Loud - Jennifer Lopez
2. Jump - Van Halen
3. You've Got Another Thing Coming - Judas Priest
4. Jump Around - House of Pain
5. Set me Free - Velvet Revolver
6. Kick out the Jams - MC5
7. The Rising - Bruce Springsteen
8. Beautiful Day - U2
9. Let's Go - Trick Daddy
10. Something More - Sugarland
11. Ray of Light - Madonna
12. Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley

From Fitness, via That's Fit:
1. Good Day - Tally Hall
2. Mercy - Duffy
3. Elevator - Flo Rida
4. 4 Minutes to Save the World - Madonna
5. Touch My Body - Mariah Carey

There are a whole lot of user-recommended ones here, also.

Songs that've been big on my recent playlists:
*Sticks and Stones - The Pierces
I have no idea how I worked out without the Pierces. Most of their songs are bouncy with the right amount of edge.
*I'll Make a Man Out of You - Mulan
Don't laugh. It's inspiring! I usually use this, when I use it, as the first song. It's got a good beat, and it has a nice rise in intensity for the begining of a run.
*See You Again - Milie Cyrus
I'm embarrassed I like this song as much as I do, but it really is catchy. I like to stick this somewhere where I might want to slowdown because the beat keeps me going.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

MD Sheep and Wool: Ain't No Party Like a Ravelry Party

So, by the end of my festival time on Saturday, I was pretty tired and maybe just a little sunburned. As I was pulling out of my car, Casey and MaryHeather (and probably Jess, though I didn't see her) were walking by, and I shouted out the window "you guys are awesome." Hopefully they didn't think that was too weird. I went home, drank a good four glasses of water (something I'd foolishly avoided at the festival except at the end, so I could avoid the restrooms) and immediately started playing around with my drop spindle. Before too long though, it was time for the highlight of my weekend: the Ravelry party!

I was able to get to the hotel just fine, but I (along with the rest of the knitting world) was a little confused as to where exactly I was supposed to go. Happily, I found a group of equally confused Ravelers, and we asked someone at the front desk who helped us find a way around the weddings that were going on. The first thing I notticed once I got to the party were the awesome decals! My favorite was the bob decal:
Bob loves Ravelry
It was totally awesome. I got all 'checked in' (which really meant picking up my drink tickets and raffle ticket) and walked around taking in the sights. So many people with such gorgeous knitted garments! One of my first stops ended up by the Rav Merchandise area: there was (the birthday girl - look up tag later) with a stack of Ravelry tote bags! I'll be honest, when I looked at the RavStore online, the tote bag was maybe the only thing that did *not* capture my attention. I've never been much of a tote bag person in general, and the neon green didn't really do much for me. Of course, once I saw it in person, I could hardly resist it. I kept trying on the sample bag, and petting it, and thanks to the wonderful TeamRav members, I was convinced I had to own the bag. Purchasing it, of course, took up my very very last cash at all, and the end of my budget, but it was money well spent. The tote is incredibly sturdy, it has a large capacity, it has a nicely flattened bottom, and it has a great pocket between the straps on the front. Add to that the fact that the straps magically happen to be my favorite strap height ever, and you can see why I was sold. Plus, I'll admit it, I felt kind of cool walking around in my (albeit heavily modified) beta shirt with this awesome tote.

Walking around the party, I ran into SpaceKitty. SpaceKitty went (technically goes) to my old high school, and though I didn't know her when I was there, she was friends with one of my best friends from high school. (Hi, M!) She had already found a table and made friends, so my Gimlet and I (my standard mixed drink) walked over to the table. I met a bunch of wonderful people, most of whose RavIDs I forgot, but notably I met Julsey and Pamster73. While we were sitting around a lot of people were knitting, so I pulled out my Embossed Leaves and started knitting away. Clearly, I had found my people! People were very nice and complemented my most recent sock-in-progress bag I'd sewn (which you haven't seen yet...they'll be a post about that soon. =] ) and we all admired how really, Risata was a much nicer yarn than you'd necessarily expect from knitpicks. Pamster and I discussed our trials with lace, and I admired socks all around. We took a picture later in the evening, but I'll post it here:
Ravelry party!

Somewhere around here, I saw someone wander by with strawberries and I decided to go search them out. I found some and then I met Ikumi, a fellow MD Raveler. She's in school for medical illustration - maybe the coolest thing ever. We chatted for a bit, but then it was time for the RavGods (as I call them) to give their adorable speeches and hand out the billion door prizes.
Rav gods
Jess and Casey seemed amazed that Ravelery has come as far as it has, and I'll admit, I'm still amazed that they're as great as they are. I use Ravelry proportionally more than any other web products than Google products, but you don't see the GoogleReader designer throwing a party for his users, and drinking and chatting with them.
The Gods
Then, the raffle. Sadly, I did not win anything in the raffle, but SpaceKitty and ChezAristotle, the two people I have some connection with 'in real life' did, so that's good enough for me. The raffle and the festival convinced me though - I need to get some buffalo and yak fiber, and I need it bad! Thank you thank you thank you to the sponsors of the RavParty: it was a great party, and I'm grateful you helped make it possible. I'll list them here so any readers who haven't yet can go check them out:

After the raffle was over, ChezAristotle came over to chat with me. Now, much like I was four years above SpaceKitty in highschool, ChezAristotle was three years above me in college. I knew of her my freshman year (her senior year) because she was someone whose name was known, but I'd never spoken to her. It was thanks to Ravelry that we 'met.' Plus, she has one of the best blog posts about Hegel ever. (Her site's down temporarily, but I'll link you later.) We chatted about philosophy and about some of the trials and tribulations of having graduated from our mutal Alma Mater. Mary said it best - back when we were in school, we both thought it was kind of silly the way alums would talk about the importance of getting to know other alums, but now that we find ourselves graduated, we're seeing what they were talking about.

At the end of the evening, I caught Jess and Casey (Mary Heather I just spoke with in passing - she complemented my beta shirt mods. =] ) and was able to chat briefly with them. Were I less shy and worried about being an imposition, I would've gotten a photo with them, but there's always next year!

I went home happy and excited: I'd made new friends, met some of my internet idols, and had a great time. It was the best party I'd gone to in a long while. As someone who's not usually the most social, it was great to know that I could go somewhere where I knew almost nobody and still make friends. It also rekindled my desires to join a knitting group; knitters are such a cool bunch. The next day it was off to the festival again, this time with my mother. That will get one final post a little later.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

MD Sheep and Wool: Saturday at the festival

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I've known about it only for two years now, despite being a Marylander all my life, but because it tends to fall during the same weekend as Reality, this is the first time I've been able to go. Luckily for me, this year also had a very strong Ravelry presence, and we all know how much I LOVE Ravelry!
Cute sheep!

I didn't have any worries about getting there 'too late', since I didn't have a particular game plan. I knew I wanted to get a drop spindle and some fiber, and I wanted to try and get some yarn for one of the sweaters of vests I'm planning, but I didn't know anything about the specifics of any of these. Getting there 'late' (at 11:30am) meant I was parked at the opposite end of the massive parking field, but a spot's a spot!

I stopped by the Ravelry meetup and was informed by the lovely Ravelry helpers that Jess and Casey were running late. I was obviously there for Ravelry, because I was wearing my nifty little 'hello my name is' button that I'd purchased way back when they did their beta shirt sales. Since I knew I was going to go to the party that night, and since I'm not one of the more 'popular' forum posters, there wasn't anyone who I'd been dying to meet other than Jess and Casey, so I decided I'd come back later.

As I was walking around I was stopped by a number of people asking me where I got my Ravelry button or where the meetup was, and I felt special being able to help them out. I like being 'in the know,'

My first purchase was at the first stall I really looked at, the Hunt Country Yarns stall. I saw their knitted up sample of the Jojoland Swirl Shawl, and I decided I had to own the pattern. I bought the pattern ($5.30) with the plan to return later if I wanted to get the yarn that was recommended. The woman I spoke to at the stall was very nice; she told me they were offering the pattern free with purchase of the yarn, so if I ended up coming back to get the yarn, I should tell her and she'd take the pattern purchase price off the yarn price. I also liked her because as I was walking up, she was explaining how awesome Ravelry was to one of the customers. I love anyone who loves Ravelry!

My second stop was the Journey Wheel booth in the main exhibition stall. Purchasing a spindle was my main goal of the day, and thanks to Diane2knit who had started a thread about purchasing ones first spindle at the festival, I knew just where I wanted to go first. The two most recommended spindle types were the Goldings and the Bosworths, and having looked at both of them online, I thought I'd want to start with a Bosworth. My decision was made when ShielaSpins offered a quick spinning lesson for those who stopped by her booth and asked. As for why a Bosworth over a Golding, for now? The Goldings are beautiful, but they feel more modern and fancy to me. Part of the appeal in spinning, especially on a drop spindle, is that it's a connecting with the past and experiencing an additional step in the fiber process. The Bosworths simply looked like how I wanted my first spindle to look.

When I showed up at Journey Wheel's booth, coincidentally, I was there at the same time as Diane2knit who had started the thread that made up my mind! There was another Raveler there at the same time as us, but I didn't catch her name. She mentioned she mostly did the 'park and draft' style of spinning, but I forgot her Ravelry handle. Sheila gave all three of us a quick walkthrough on how she'd recommend we choose our spindles and how to do the actual spinning. I ended up selecting a beautiful Paduak spindle in the Midi range, 25gm /.88 oz. There was another spindle I was thinking about that was a little heavier, which would probably have been good since I'm still a beginner, but my spindle called my name. The wood was singing to me - she glows!

Drop spindle in hand, I went to get some fiber. Sheila so kindly had a handout of some of the fiber places that she recommended, and she'd even starred places she knew were at the festival! The first fiber I got was at Misty Mountain Fiber. I saw one bunch of merino top that was in my favorite color mixture. It was labeled as 100% merino top, 4oz, $8.95. It's a beautiful blue purple green yellow mix that was carded together.
Yarn to be
At the same stall, I bought a bunch of Colonial Wool Top, 4oz for $6.88. This looks more 'natural' colored, but there are beautiful flecks of brown and blue throughout the gray haze. Very beautiful.
Yarn to be

My next purchase, also fiber (as opposed to yarn) was from Spinner's Hill. I picked a wool from their wall and told them I wanted 4oz. They claim the huge bag they gave me was only 4oz, but I suspect I got the better end of the deal. =] The fiber is wool from Corriedale Finn Rambouillet Cross Sheep in a beautiful teal with magenta stripes. It is labeled as hand dyed and carded into Batts on their farm. I didn't get a receipt for that purchase, but it was $2.13 per oz, so I have to assume I paid around $9.
Yarn to be

Next up was the Interweave Knits booth. I decided it was high time for me to subscribe, so subscribe I did. They had a deal where you could get one free issue of the magazine they had lying around, so I got the Spring 08. I'd been regretting not having bought that once it vanished from my local bookstore, so I'm glad I caught it. Also as a 'thank you gift', I got a pair of mini travel scissors, that the nice person at the booth (whose name, I believe, was stefanie) told me was airplane safe. Even better!

Around here, I decided it was time to find my way back to Hunt County Yarns to pick up the Melody yarn for the shawl. I got 5 skeins @ 8.50 each, but I was refunded the cost of the pattern. I later ended up seeing Melody for $6 a ball somewhere else, but it was thanks to Hunt County Yarn's knitted sample of the shawl I knew I had to buy the pattern/yarn in the first place. I was excited to learn, after I'd already decided I'd buy it, that melody was a superwash yarn.
Swirl Shawl 'kit'

Then came my final fiber purchase of Saturday. I went to the Stormy Mountain Fibers stall and got about 3oz of their 'loose' wool in a nice green color (moss, I believe), and a 3.9oz braid of Colonial Wool Top in Northern Lights for $6.44. Northern lights is a beautiful mix of brown, dark blue, and a little bit a of green. Very vibrant, but very fun.
Yarn to be
The green was what I started spinning with the second I got home, so I only have a picture of that on my spindle.
My first yarn

By this time, I was hungry! I got a lamb gyro at a booth, and a 'snack pack' size of the cinnamon almonds. Very tasty!

Finally, my final yarn purchase. I went to the Woolstock Knits booth and sorted through their sale bin. Everything in the bin was %50 off! I've looked at the bin at their store before but never found anything.(They're one of my favorite local yarn stores, and people there have only ever been completely awesome to me, even back before I had any clue what I was doing.) I found a few different bags of Rowan Summer Tweed, a yarn I'd previously drooled over, and ended up getting a bag of a bunch of skeins of light green. Though it's not a perfect fiber match, I'm thinking of trying to knit the gathered neck pullover in this. Of course, to do this, I have to find my blasted copy of the magazine! I don't want to buy an additional PDF pattern when I know I have the magazine lying around! For those, I paid $5.98 per skein. $5.98! Down from $11.25!
Rowan Summer Tweed

My budget more than depleted, and my two goals achieved, I decided it was almost time to call it a day. On my way out, I stopped by the Landleth Seeds plant booth which had organic heirloom and vintage plants, and I got my mom some seedlings. Then it was a root beer (or, a sasparilla sharp shooter, to be exact) and off to find my car.

Next post, you'll get my writeup of the awesome awesome Ravelry party, and my writeup of Sunday at the festival with my mom.