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Female anglers have been at a disadvantage with regards to gear for years. Our options have been limited at best and frustrating at worse if they even existed. For years, I’ve walked into fly shops only to leave in frustration and disgust as I look at the racks upon racks of men’s gear and clothing and mad as all get out at the male anglers trying to sell me a men’s small or something in pink. Thankfully, manufactures are realizing not only do women fly fish and they plan on staying in the sport, but we sure are ready to buy good well designed gear made especially for us. Yes, there have been waders made for women on the market for a while, but they are either feature poor or priced incredibly high. Patagonia, just entering this market in January 2014, is a bit late to the game, but the wait is well worth it.

For starters, the fit, arguable one of the most important features, is incredible. A poor fitting pair of waders wears out quickly if there is excess fabric, or can cause irritation if too tight in the wrong places. Excess fabric can also lead to discomfort and hinder mobility. If water is rising or an angler needs to move quickly, the excess fabric can become dangerous in addition to cumbersome which is why women should not buy men’s waders. Don’t do it ladies, ever.

The fit on the Patagonia Spring River Women’s Waders is tailored perfectly to a women’s figure. They are made with enough ease to easily accommodate variances in body shape without being too bulky or too tight in any one area. I ordered the regular small even though my bust measurement is a smidge larger than the size chart and my hips are a smidge smaller than the size chart. I also wear a women’s size 7.5 shoe and my feet with a pair of Smartwool socks and Simms wading socks fit very comfortably in the bootie of the wader. They are also still comfortable without the Simms wading socks. I have not tried them barefoot. Even with a tee shirt, a fishing shirt, and a pullover sweater, I had enough room in my waders to access the inside waterproof pocket, but not too much to feel bulky.

These are the first pair of waders I’ve ever worn that I’ve forgotten I had on waders. From getting my rod rigged after slipping on the waders to walking through a field to fishing on a drift boat to wading on the Norfork, I easily forgot I had on a pair of waders. My previous pair of Lady Hodgeman always felt like waders, and I felt clunky lumbering around, but the Patagonia just felt comfortable. I was able to move freely in all conditions. On the river, the fit of the waders allowed them to hug my legs as I waded without bulking up in any one particular spot and they didn’t add drag as I waded. I could walk through deeper areas as well as shallow areas with ease. I was even able to kneel down in the river to release the lovely big rainbow I landed without any issue. The waders moved with me like an outfit should. On the boat, they were comfortable as I casted from the drift boat, allowing me to move easily with full mobility. They were also great wind protection and kept me warm.

For features, the waders are incredibly feature rich. The suspender feature provides convenient, the hand warmer pocket is fabulous, and the two waterproof pockets are wonderfully accessible. The suspenders also include clip on tabs for zingers so you can keep items in very easy reach. The wool lined booties are a great feature for colder stream wading, especially for women who’s feet tend to be colder than most men. Overall, this is my new favorite piece of gear, in fact the gear driving me towards finding a time to fish again just so I can use them. After springing a leak in my Lady Hodgeman waders, thanks to a thorn, I hobbled through November and December being careful of how deep I waded, so I could wait until January to order the Patagonia Spring River waders. I’m glad I waited because these waders were well worth the wait and I’d order them again in a heartbeat.

Pros: The fit. These are the best fitting, most comfortable waders I’ve worn. The anatomically correct legs and feet give a tailored streamline fit without too much excess fabric. The waders are also feature rich, including the much talked about suspender system.

Cons: If anything, maybe the price. Coming in at $399, the waders are not inexpensive but they are also not the most expensive on the market. They are not designed for someone who wants to tryout fly fishing. Instead, the waders are designed for female anglers, those who love the sport and are willing to invest in it. That said, if you are a man and want to get your lovely lady into fishing and have the means to afford these AND accept life if she doesn’t fall in love with fishing, then these waders will help her fall in love with the sport and not be the deterrent that most other waders will be because she will look darn cute in them and still feel like a lady.

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How quickly time goes by

The title is relevant for more than one reason. Not only has the time between the last blog and this one gone by much too quickly for me, but the time between today and September 1999 has gone by quickly. In September 1999, around this date, I was standing on the outskirts of the dance floor at my friends’ wedding, watching the Mother Son dance, balling my eyes out. My heart was breaking at the realization that one day, that would be me and my son out there. My son who was in the nursery down the hall as a three week old baby, would leave me one day to get married and the thought just solidified in my mind as I watched my friend dance with his mom.

Now, thirteen years later, my baby is entering the end of an era as he starts a new era. He began 8th grade, the last year of in the school he’s attended since the 4K.

(The neighbor’s cat just couldn’t refuse being in his last school photo as a middle schooler)
This is his last year to eat in the cafeteria, to see the same faces every weekday, to be surrounded by the same support staff he’s had as a part of his life the last 9 years. The school has left a positive mark on his life and ours and we are truly grateful to have had this experience.

In addition to beginning his last year at his school, he officially entered the teenage years. I’m not sure how it happened, but the little baby I coddled and held and bathed and soothed and love more than I could have ever imagined has grown into a teenage boy.

He is beautiful and kind and thoughtful and talented. He lights up a room with his smile and his freckles radiate with mirth and laughter. His joy is visible and his gentle spirit is easily observed when he is lost in concentration. He has taught me about what an amazing world we live in and he helps those around him grow and become better people. Looking at what he has accomplished in the last thirteen years, I can’t wait to see what the rest of his life holds for him. Even as his exterior changes and I see the inklings of the man he will be, there will always and forever be a part of him who is little baby boy to me.

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you have to do something, but you don’t know if you can go through with it? That was me, sweater vest and scissors in hand, wondering if really truly, I could cut my knitting.

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Even though the sweater vest and I hadn’t been together for very long, it still represented hours of my life. I knew I couldn’t bare to see my life literally unravel before me. Yes, people steek all the time. Yes, they still have fully functioning sweaters at the end. People also bungee jump all the time, but I have absolutely no plans on ever jumping off a high structure attached to a gigantic rubber band. The sweater and I sat together. I hugged it, as if saying good-bye, just in case one of us didn’t make it through this endeavor. Then, I took a shot and proceeded to cut.

Snip – there goes the cast on edge of the steek
Snip – there goes the first stitch, cleaved in twain
Snip – there goes the next stitch, goodness, the stitches are holding!
Snip – they are holding!
Snip – this might actually work

I didn’t cut with reckless abandon, but I did begin to snip a little faster. The stitches held fast, but the cast of edge did fray a bit, not enough to cause any issues, but enough to make my heart beat quicken. By the time I snipped the last steek stitch, I felt confident in the process and sure of my stitches. I picked up for the armhole edging and after a couple of more hours, I not only had a new garment, but also a newly accomplished skill to add to my bag of tricks.

Ta-da!
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Spoiler Alert!!!

Italian: What are you watching?
Me:
Italian: Ah, your British soap opera.
Me: Shhh. It’s not a soap opera. It’s a drama.
Italian: Hm, right.
Me: It’s not like they brought anyone back from the dead with amnesia or anything.

Then I saw Downton Abbey, Episode 5 of season 2 when yes, indeed, there was a character brought back from the dead, with amnesia. I’m still going to watch season 3 and pretend it is more drama than soap opera, because, to me at least, it isn’t the soap opera it seems to be, but is instead a complex drama of post World War 1 societal strife and upheaval. Just like my current WIP isn’t what it seems to be.

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This oddly shaped blob of a garment isn’t a doggie sweater, but is a sweater vest. It will continue to defy American knitting convention when I cut it. It may seem as if I’ve had a lapse in sanity, but a lot of knitters out there are absolutely adamant that taking scissors to knitted yarn is not only perfectly ok, but results in a lovely sweater. The stockpile of wine continues to grow and I’ve added tissues just in case. Wish me luck.

It has been brought to my attention, by more than a few readers, that my blog has been silent.  I apologize for the lapse.  I could regale you with tales of our adventures over the last few moths, but I think it would be better if we pretended I’ve been in training for the Olympics and move on.  So…

Let the games begin!

Despite the best efforts of the USOC, I will be knitting in the event formerly known as Ravelympics.  Taking a note from Nike, I am looking for my greatness in the form of a steeked sweater.

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This is my first attempt at steeking, the act of taking a pair of scissors to a physical representation of hours upon hours of one’s time in the hopes the yarn holds and you magically end up with a sweater.  I’ve already begun stocking up on wine as I knit away.

Little Clover has also been striving to find his greatness.  He’s looking for his, not in yarn, but in something much, much harder – ice.

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He began hockey earlier this year, and not only does he really enjoy it, but it’s something he can see himself doing for a few years.  Being a bit behind the eight ball compared to other kids his age who have had years on the ice by know, he decided to attend a couple of hockey camps.  I love watching his determination and grit while on the ice.  He’s a joy to watch and he continues to amaze me with each feat he tackles.

Granted, the Olympics doesn’t include any knitting or hockey this go round, but that hasn’t stopped our little home from setting our own personal challenges and striving to prove to ourselves that, yes, we can succeed.

Carry on.

Missing

I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed it terribly. Looking at my last post, it’s hard to imagine what could have kept me from writing for over a month. Occasionally, our lives hit a certain level of activity, and we as a family enter into survival mode. Imagine mountains of laundry needing to be washed or folded, dinners pulled from pre-packaged freezer containers instead of cooked each night, food brought in from restaurants, piles of mail waiting to be sorted, etc. February, even with the extra day this year, carried the same level of commitments and actions, but with fewer days.

Little Clover had a basketball season to finish out with games twice a week and practices three times a week. He also competed as a Mathlete at the Regional Math Counts competition. If that wasn’t enough, we added in hockey lessons, and he still manages to keep his grades up.

Italian decided he wanted to up his physical activity, so he started P90X and somehow convinced me to do it with him. I’m still trying to figure out what mystical powers he used because I don’t like to sweat. We are now in Phase 2 of P90X, having completed 5 weeks. I don’t hate sweating as much as I used to, and I’ve picked out my reward bikini. Yes, I’m going to wear a bikini, and by golly, I’m going to a beach this year.

So what have I missed in my life? I’ve missed writing on the blog. There have been many things I’ve wanted to post and share but sleep and laundry have really gotten in the way.

I’ve missed cooking and the farmers market and fresh vegetables. I’ve missed thinking about food and reading cookbooks and looking at recipes. I’ve missed browsing the produce aisle at the grocery store and spending time in the kitchen. We still eat, but I miss tasting food I’ve prepared at home.

I’ve missed photography. This amazed me. I’ve always known I enjoyed taking pictures, but I didn’t realize how much I miss taking pictures, organizing my pictures, and looking back on our photo albums. In the midst of activity, I managed to snap one photo of a finished object, still waiting to be blocked.

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Lady’s Circular Shawl

Now that I know what I miss, the challenge will be fitting it all back in and finding time to play a bit more. We don’t really need clean clothes do we?

Accomplishments

Italian has been fishing the same stretch of river in the Arkansas Ozarks since high school. He introduced me to it in college and I loved the river so much, I married him. Naturally, we didn’t think twice about taking Little Clover there, in utero and post. The river has been a part of Little Clover’s entire life. Therefore, his accomplishment last weekend shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is still amazing. He achieved a Norfork Grand Slam – twice. On each of the two days we spent on the river this weekend, he caught a rainbow trout, a cutthroat, a brown trout, and the elusive brook trout. Many an angler has attempted this feat and failed. My little guy not only did it once, but repeated it the second day! He also caught the fifth species of trout, the cut-bow, as well, just for good measure. He caught them all on his own, with his own fly rod, with the fly he tied. I swear, he continues to amaze me.

The elusive Norfork brookie

One note regarding the brook trout: After catching the brook to solidify the grand slam, Little Clover, in his excitement, exclaimed, “All right! Let’s go get a grown-up brookie!” To which Italian laughed and replied, “There’s aren’t any grown-up brookies.” Part of the brook’s elusiveness is due to it’s small size and juvenile stage. They are often gobbled up by the more aggressive browns before they can make it to a significant size.

My accomplishment on the river was much less impressive. I managed to hike down river a little less than a quarter of a mile, then back up the river on the opposite bank a bit, to retrieve my fly box which had decided to go for a bit of swim down a fast paced riffle. I now join a long (very, very long) list of fly fishers who have chased a floating box downstream. Even though it was a lovely hike, I hope I never have to repeat it. I did still have a great weekend on the river, catching my own variety of trout specimens. I came up a couple of species shy of a Grand Slam, but I had fun nonetheless.

My knitting and organizational attempts have been a bit more successful. I’ve managed to organize my desk, transfer everything to the new Mac, organize Little Clover’s art box, and declutter my bookshelf. The office still holds much more for me to do, but I’m making progress in cleaning out my life. The knitting is also coming along and the knitting Fates smile upon me, I might just have a finished shawl by the end of this month. Even if I don’t, I’m making excellent progress in knitting down my stash.