The 52nd Head of the Charles Regatta

Hello everyone! It has been a crazy couple weeks. We finished ripping up carpets and putting down hardwoods in our living room and bedroom and painted the walls. The place looks completely different with fresh paint and nice oak hardwoods! I am glad we finished up in time for one of my favorite weekends, the Head of the Charles!

I decided against going down on Saturday because it was pouring for most of the day, but I did head down on Sunday because I was volunteering! Sunday is also a great day to go because parking is free in Harvard Sq and its the day of the Championship 4s and 8s! This was my fifth year of volunteering. I volunteered my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, and then the first two years out of college. My first two years we got long sleeve tshirts, the next two years we got fleeces from Nautica BUT unless you were there Friday night you got the big sizes so I gave those away. Brooks Brothers took over the volunteer apparel in 2009. This year they did a fantastic blue and red down vests and black hats. Love it. I have volunteered out on the docks in the past and I have volunteered in the info booths. This year I was in the info booth right across from the Brooks Brothers tent at Attager Row, the retail area between Elliot Bridge and the finish line. My fellow volunteers were great, all very helpful and interesting people. Volunteers aren’t just rowers, they come from all different backgrounds to help this amazing two day event go as smoothly as possible.

I think that having rowed in the event two years does help me to be a good info booth volunteer, as well as the fact that I got to learn how to row on the Charles in high school. I know all the bridges, all the boathouses, and the good places to watch. I have had some mishaps out there too:  I coxed a boat (the only time I ever coxed a boat) into the shallows on the Cambridge side by the Weeks Bridge (oops), rowed around in the basin during what felt like a hurricane, and swamped a four. Swamping the four meant hopping out of the boat to flip it, and then getting back in…not easy. For next year I am going to put together a HOCR guide- all the food, shopping, places to watch, and such. It will be really fun for me to write 🙂

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I did take a break to run over for a pic at the Brooks Brothers photo area.
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It was a cold and windy day, but gorgeous blue skies.
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I just loved the pink and navy unisuits on this crew
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Four launching out of Cambridge Boat Club from the Eliot Bridge.
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Beautiful scene by the Eliot Bridge. The boathouse up towards the left belongs to the Belmont Hill School and the Winsor School.

There were some fabulous highlights this year. Gevvie Stone who won the silver medal in Rio won the women’s championship singles. The O’Donovan Brothers who were hilarious in Rio rowed in a quad for a second place finish, the US Para Team rowed in the mixed eight race, and the gold medal women’s eight was on hand for autographs. The HOCR just after the summer olympics every four years is always a little special. I would love to row in the HOCR again. We shot for an alumni 8 but didn’t get a bid, maybe next year!

Now, sadly the HOCR gear from Brooks Brothers is not available anywhere else but their tent during the event. I really liked the HOCR long sleeve cotton sweatshirts but they were a little too expensive for me. The official HOCR merchandise is really nice too and can be a bit more affordable depending on what you are looking for.  There was no KJP presence this year in the Brooks Brothers tent which was interesting. The past few years there was an area within the Brooks Brothers tent featuring members of the KJP team and products.

How was everyone else’s weekend? Whose coming to the HOCR next year? Counting down already…

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Prep Craze: The Fair Isle Sweater

It has been very warm in Massachusetts this week, but the cold will come. My winter uniform is a sweater over a button down….I wear all the combinations I own until the weather warms up. There is so much variety in sweaters….cable knit, crew neck, fisherman, v-neck, honeycomb, aran, argyle, intarsia, wool, cotton, merino, cashmere……I could go on and on. Today though, we talk about the fair isle sweater.

Fair isle is actually a knitting technique from the Fair Isle of Scotland. The designs that we know as being fair isle are supposed to be in rows that go around the sweater circularly, no more than two colors per row, and really no more than five colors per sweater. There are rules about how many stitches the patterned rows can be too. All that being said, we can probably assume that not all sweaters that we call fair isle are actually fair isle. Popularity of this knitting technique started back in the 1920s when the Prince of Wales, later to be Edward VIII, wore fair isle tank tops.

Here he is in a fair isle v-neck. I love it, this was actually a portrait of him with his dog that was used for this advertisement….the media…even then.

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Anyway, I have jumped on the bandwagon as affordably as I could. Here are my two sweaters from Old Navy, both older…..the navy one on the right is probably not a true fair isle because the stitching is more just around the neck, like a yoke design I guess.

Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy
Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy

Currently, I can’t recommend any fair isle sweaters from Old Navy. What they have right now under fair isle looks more like just geometric shapes…..not the classic fair isle. And then here are my two fair isle sweaters from J. Crew factory. The one of the left is old, the one on the right is current. Its on sale too, $34.50. Its very soft, we will see how it holds up.

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So where else can we find deals on fair isle? There are always a few from Vineyard Vines. I remember the photos of Sarah Vickers, Macy Medema, and Devon Mackenzie from the KJP crew all wearing c/o Vineyard Vines fair isle sweaters a few years ago. It was lovely, but those sweaters are hitting you at ~$140 and upwards? The sweaters are really nice looking, but a little pricey for me.

Here it is, I think its from a couple years ago…its kinda preppy perfection with the scenery, vest, Barbour, bean boots, and Hunters.  Fair isle has always been a winter trend, but I remember around this time it became a really hot trend for the preppy crowd.

Devon, Sarah, and Macy in their beautiful fair isle sweaters, C/O

Woolrich has some nice looking ones Mohair Fair Isle Sweaters at $99. I am concerned though because reviews for some of their other motif sweaters have been negative, and there are no reviews on these yet…

Woolovers has a nice crew neck sweater in lambswool, all different colors, and I can speak to the excellent quality of these sweaters: Fair Isle Sweater and these ring in at $48 plus shipping from England haha. The only thing that stinks is returning sweaters to England is expensive, so pay attention to reviews and sizing info. Here is my favorite.

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Talbots always has some nice fair isle options…although they too have some that they are labeling as fair isle even though its just some zig zags and diamonds….here’s my two faves together actually! The one on the left I know is actually a dress but its here for $119 and the sweater on the right is here for $89. Great thing about Talbots though is they have awesome end of the season sales, so get one their email list and wait if those prices are still too high.

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Here is one from Brooks Brothers. The color combination is not for me, but $88 is not a terrible price for a sweater from them. Its kinda a weird one though because the pattern is only on the front and the elbow patches? They have another one for $148….which puts it in the same category as the Vineyard Vines sweaters…..beautiful, but not realistic for me…and probably many of us right now.

And lastly, LLBean….this sweater from the LLBean Signature collection is on my Christmas/birthday list. I love the colors, and I am sure that the merino is very soft. Its $94…..which is out of my price range, but…its a wish list item, something I wouldn’t buy for myself. We can dream right?

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Another amazing place to check out would be Etsy. There are sooooo many vintage sweaters on there from LLBean, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and others. You have to be careful because some of the Etsy stores don’t accept refunds and sizing has changed over the years but there are some real gems if you have the time to look. Then when people ask where you got it….you can say, oh, its vintage.

My fiancé and I are doing an engagement photo shoot this weekend….which of those J Crew sweaters should I wear? Looking for opinions! Its an outdoor shoot….so there’s either the cream sweater with navy and orange stitching OR the gray with navy, mint, and white stitching….lemme know what you think!!

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Head of the Charles Recap from Sunday

In my experience, fall head racing is full of amazing rows in gorgeous scenery AND some really cold windy days. I started rowing the summer before my senior year of high school, and rowed in the Head of the Charles my junior and senior year of college. I volunteered at the regatta 4 years, three before the year I rowed in it, and one the year after I graduated from college. The swag for the volunteers has really improved. When I was volunteering, Charles Schwab was the big sponsor and we got long sleeve shirts, and then Nautica took over and we had fleece zip ups. Now that BNY Mellon & Brooks Brothers runs the show, the volunteer jackets are awesome soft shell fleeces. I gotta volunteer next year.

We had a bunch of former and current WPI rowers to watch. There were alumni in the master’s singles races, the Director Challenge quad races, an alumni mens 8, and then the current varsity mens in the collegiate 8. The women’s team didn’t send a boat…..I guess they are going through some restructuring, getting back to basics, and are just focusing on the spring. Kinda sad though because I remember how big a deal the Charles was. I would have been bummed to miss out.

It was really cold and windy on Sunday. My essentials for survival are below:

Barbour Jacket, crew fleece ear warmers,LLBean Flannel & Boot Socks, Woolover cashmere/cotton crewneck sweater, bean boots, & LLBean thermos
Barbour Jacket, crew fleece ear warmers,LLBean Flannel & Boot Socks, Woolover cashmere/cotton crewneck sweater, bean boots, & LLBean thermos

My Barbour was amazing at protecting me from the wind, and we filled that thermos with tomato soup, which was a life saver. It also saved us from buying clam chowder for $10, eek!

I did stop by the Brooks Brothers tent to check it out. The KJP team was there hand painting your choice of oar blade design on leather bracelets. They were cute, but I really want a painted oar bracelet custom made with the oar blade design. It might be possible, I will probably be looking into this for a Christmas/bday gift 🙂 They were all super nice just in case you follow them on instagram and have always wondered what they were like IRL. They also loved Mizpah, who doesn’t though?

In front of the Brooks Brothers tent with Mizpah. Nice single behind me huh? One of a kind!
In front of the Brooks Brothers tent with Mizpah. Nice single behind me huh? One of a kind!

Going to rowing events make me miss rowing so much. The excitement of rowing to the start, the togetherness of the struggle through the race to the finish, and then the camaraderie after the race. Its just something you can’t replicate. We hung out with some of our former coaches, got to see some alumni, and blasted the heat in the car pretty much all the way home to warm up! Here are some more pics from the day!

Harvard's Newell Boathouse...we tried to stop here once for a bathroom break and their sprinklers to keep the geese away turned on!!
Harvard’s Weld Boathouse…we tried to stop either here or the Newell once for a bathroom break and their sprinklers to keep the geese away turned on!!
Me and Miz hangin out
Me and Miz hangin out
View of Northeastern's Henderson boathouse
View of Northeastern’s Henderson boathouse, pretty much at the finish.
Henderson Boathouse, where I learned to row in 2001, and where WPI has the privilege of launching every year
Henderson Boathouse, where I learned to row in 2001, and where WPI has the privilege of launching every year
LLBean everywhere....and Miz chewing a bully stick
LLBean everywhere….and Miz chewing a bully stick
view of the Eliot Bridge, last bridge before the finish...lots of collisions here
view of the Eliot Bridge, last bridge before the finish…lots of collisions here

We did end up paying $20 to park in the Harvard Stadium lot. Without the dog, we would have parked at Alewife and taken the T in, but I don’t know how Mizpah would do with that. We brought sandwiches, water, and the tomato soup in the thermos, so we didn’t buy any food, which was awesome. It was awesome to go support alums, reminisce about past years, and hang out with some awesome crew people. If you are ever in the Boston area for this weekend, I can’t recommend coming out to the river enough. Layers though….warm layers ha. The two years I got to row in it were both choppy, cold days. One year it was so bad, they shortened the course to stay out of the choppy basin. My fiancé asked me if I would have wanted to row in the cold yesterday, and I think the answer is yes, with the cold weather and all. I hope everyone got to do some fun fall activities wherever they were this past weekend!

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