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Spring time is exercisey time. April 25, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in bicycle, cycling, fitness, health, why.
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Okay, so I might blog here about more than just craftiness and crafty things.  I think I really should call this "a beginner's blog" 'cause I hope the odd person stumbles across this who is just starting out into different things and finds this useful – you are not alone in finding your hobbies through your quarter-life crisis!

Last year I started into yoga a little bit, just in the privacy of my own home.  Something a little more into cardio and less into flexibility I would be fine with doing in front of other people but as my flexibility is now laughable (wasn't always, I was a dancer!) I feel more comfortable with Rodney Yee talking to me and only me in my Power Yoga videos.  I also have found the website ExRx.net very helpful for strength/weight training.  As for cardio, I always played sports and loved it – mostly soccer, but I dabbled in basketball, volleyball, and rugby as well.  Once I graduated from high school though and my schedule became so irregular I found it difficult to make the same committments and slacked off big time.  Eventually I realized – as my fat pants became my regular pants – that it was time to get back into that, time to stop feeling like such a lazy sod.  Only way to stop feeling that way was to stop being one.  So I took up running, but I don't really like running.  I don't stick with it for long when I start – but something I want to get back into and am just now, right now, starting to get back into is cycling.

Not used in ten years, I have a mountain bike from Canadian Tire – a purple SuperCycle "Breeze" which I remember riding with my best friend to the only store nearby at the time, the local Wal-Mart.  I am on the lookout for a new bike, but they're too rich for my yet-to-be-employed blood so I tuned 'er up to take her out in the mean time.  Also have been buying the bike accessories in the mean time.

Cycling Gear, guess I'll do that run down like a knitting pattern or my photo gear.

. Blackburn TPS-2 floor pump
. Filzer dB4LW wireless cycling computer
. Zefal 'Ping' bell
. MEC microwedgie seat bag
. Tools
… 6" wrench
… 4" vice grip
… bicycle wrench
… Louis Garneau compact tool
. Raleigh bicycle helmet

 What about a lock, you're wondering!  Yeah, I haven't picked one up yet – going to pick up one when I purchase a bike.  Maybe sooner depending on how long I wait to get a new bike.  So I'm looking to get a hybrid bicycle 'cause for now I've got a mountain bike which isn't really the right bike for the kind of riding I want to do.

Today I tuned up the old bike, which sat lonely and deflated in my basement, with the help of this tutorial.  It's very satisfying, just like all this craftiness, to work on something like that yourself.  By and large not much needed to be done – the most work came in making sure the wheels & brakes were alright, the wheels were just about perfect and I replaced the well worn-out brake pads with new ones and now I feel confident that my bike will actually stop when I want it to.  I attached my bell so I can ride legally, and unfortunately the little pouch I have is not going to fit under the kind of seat I have.  I then set up my wireless bike computer, which I tested out and it works like a charm.  Awesome.

I'm totally stoked to start riding – this is part good fitness, health & wellness, and part energy conservation for local travel.  I won't lie, this is also motivated by the desire to shed a few pounds – the warmer weather is coming and I would like to lose my winter-warming fat.

So here we go.. !  For now, on the sporty front, time to go watch the Ottawa vs Tampa Bay game.  Playoff game 3, baby, oh yeah! 

Knitting Olympics – I February 6, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in knitting, knitting olympics, why.
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I decided that I would join the Knitting Olympics and sign up for Team Canada. This is a great year to be a sports fan (what with my Ottawa Senators being amazing, the 2006 Turino Olympics, and later the World Cup in Germany) and it looks like it’s shaping up to be a great year for knitters, too. Lots of buzz everywhere about the Yarn Harlot‘s idea for a great knitting challenge, wonderful for knitters at all skill levels: The Knitting Olympics.
To date, the knitting projects I have worked on have been either scarves (five of them) or fingerless mittens (three of them) with a lone exception from several years ago when I first learned to knit and tried my hand at a ribbed hat (a UFO hiding in my closet). One of the scarves I’m working on, the Irish Hiking Scarf, is my first attempt at cables, a pattern, and natural fiber (I say first pattern as I deviated from the pattern of the OhMyStars fingerless mittens).

knitting olympics

So for the Knitting Olympics, I’m really stepping out here – I’m going to knit in the round using DPNs. While I have tried this before, I screwed it up and wound up frogging through the frustration and moved on to the OhMyStars mittens and yet more scarves. So, I’m going back to the DPNs – and I’ll try my hand at a little increase and decrease action as I make my very first pair of mittens – WITH FINGERS! Mittens, I say, and not gloves – I’m just not a fan of gloves.

So now the search for a pattern begins – I believe I will use yarn already in my stash.

Here’s what’s great about knitting, for me – I get to learn something new. With virtually every project I’ve started, even scarves, I’ve learned to do something new. I learn as I go, and I learn by reading and sharing. I’m just blown away by the knitting community, too, so far I have yet to come across anyone who is a complete snob and unwilling to help you to learn. Knitters, even and often especially the seasoned fantastic ones, are excited about their craft and excited about interest in it – it’s very cool.

My Camera Story. January 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, why.
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Originally written 20th November, 2005.
Most of my cameras have been gifts or not my own, truth be told.

The first camera I ever had of my very own was a Kodak Advantix 2000. Remember that craze? That was about eight years ago – I remember because one of my aunts had just had her first baby, and everybody loves taking pictures of the wee ones in their lives. The camera came with this little box that held the exposed and developed film along with index cards. The index cards were the coolest thing, I thought, about the whole Advantix system. It was fun having my own camera and having my own pictures. My friends, my way of looking at things. It wasn’t just that the cameras recorded what was happening in my life – the same could be said with the doubles of prints I got from family and friends, looking at my mother’s photo albums – it was that my camera gave my record, not a record.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to record little things – not just the faces of the people who were there, but a clumsy shot of an entire room – that’s where we were. A picture of a place sitting, this is the colour of the table cloth at the wedding.

Shortly after the Advantix camera – by the time I entered high school – the Polaroid JoyCam was all the rage. The pictures were small but not too small and let’s face it, it was cool to have things instantly – or just about. The image slowly fades in, waiting until it looks really done! Trouble is, it’s expensive. Also, people tend to want the Polaroids you’ve just taken. It was a Christmas gift, so I have all these little Polaroid 500 film images of Christmas trees, lights, and my family. I like those images.

I found photography interesting but at this point it wasn’t much of a hobby. I didn’t go out of my way to take pictures of things, it wasn’t how I would spend an afternoon. I’d be going somewhere, doing something, and decide that I wanted to take pictures of the folks who were there so the camera would come along.

SLR & The Darkroom
Canon FT QLIn my final year of high school I took a photography class sort of on a whim; thought it would be an easy credit to give me a bit of a break from homework amidst my more demanding courses. I wound up spending loads of time on my photography – taking pictures, developing negatives and prints. I used my father’s old SLR – a Canon FT QL. This thing was heavy, and I had access to two lenses. A standard lens and one that worked quite nicely for portraits. Since the camera was quite old, the 1000/s shutter speed wasn’t working quite right. It was so cool to take pictures and make some parts blurry and others clear, learn about different kinds of film, crank the film in and out of the camera by hand, and above all else – work in the dark room.

Taking pictures was pretty cool – but developing prints was incredible. I could be lost in that for hours – during spare time throughout the day, over lunch hours, after classes were through. Some folks were out playing sports, but by the end of my high school career I was finished being involved in that (didn’t enjoy it anymore) and now spent most of my free time in the dark room with dim red light, stinky clothing-ruining chemicals and the radio.

As the year came to an end, so did my dark room experience – but I still maintained an interested in SLR photography. I liked the control of it, holding a small automatic camera just felt silly.

An SLR of One’s Own

The Gear - NowGifts, like I told you. For Christmas in 2001, I was given a Canon Rebel G SLR. It was great – had some automatic settings when I wanted to click through a few snapshots of friends. Had all the manual control of the old SLR.

And, I could develop things at home – negatives only, but it was great to have a piece of the dark room at home.

By now, I was really interested in it – the art & science as I wrote about prior to having a photo-specific journal. I knew we had some old cameras in the house from my dad & my grandfather, I’d taken a brief look when I was taking my photography course. Recently, though, I wanted to know if they still worked, so I’ve begun trying them.

But first …

Let’s Get Digital

I really didn’t want to get into the digital thing for quite some time. I didn’t think the quality could possibly be so good, you had to remove the film and developing prints, and everything was back to point-n-shoot. It couldn’t possibly be for me.

Then, my family gave my dad a Nikon CoolPix 2000 and I got to give the whole thing a try. It was incredibly easy, and while I didn’t think it could replace film what was amazing was the ability to shoot countless images and share them instantly.

Last year, I was given a digital camera of my own. A Casio Exilim EX-Z30, which has enabled me to take some great digital images and even videos, something totally new to me.

Camera Museum

Recently I decided to test these old cameras in my house. The discovery of flickr helped renew my interest in photography. Like many, I take photographs so that they can be looked at, and not just by me. A community of amateur, beginner, and really excellent photographers talking about photographs and photography – very cool.

So, first on the agenda was to try the Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera – worked perfectly, I think this is a great camera. Unfortunately, the film will stop being produced Q1 of 2006. Luckily, the Polaroid website has something explaining how you can use 600 film with the camera (instead of the Time Zero film). I also tried using the Adox Golf 63 camera. This was my first experience with 120 film – the little square pictures your parents used to take. Amazingly, this camera worked as well – fairly well, although there is a light leak. Not bad for a 50 year old camera – the bellows were replaced once, maybe 30-40 years ago.

SX 70 - Blue Spruce Adox Golf 63 - Cat

Those are my dad’s cameras. We also have one of my grandfather’s old cameras, a camera he used to take slides all throughout Europe. That camera is the Agfa Ambi Silette, a camera I like to photograph. It takes regular 35mm film, so I’ve thrown a Kodak colour roll of film in there I’m just waiting to work through it.

Agfa Ambi Silette II

So. That’s the basic stories with the cameras up until this photo-journal. Sheer curiosity in some instances, the desire for attention, the need to be creative in others. As things progressed I have moved into another phase..

Digital SLR
It’s here – a few days ago, got into the world of digital SLR photography. I was long hesitant but finally made the switch, insisting for now (though several have told me otherwise) that I will never give up film completely.

What I am enjoying so far is the ability to play around with the wonderful control of a manual SLR camera but get the results right away. I think the learning will be much faster now and with the ever-increasing quality of digital images, I won’t be sacrificing in that department. What is missing is the dark room post-process, but that currently isn’t happening even if I stuck with the Rebel G.

So here I am, at last, with a Canon Digital Rebel XT – and with all this new learning, I decided it was time to dedicate a blog just to photography.

A kind of notebook. So that’s where I am now. 🙂