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O'ahu born and Rockville bred, both Maryland and Hawai'i are home. Middle-aged knitter (believe me, my 40 is NOT the new 20) seeking the courage to live consciously, each and every moment. Now if I could just remember where I put my keys...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

song for waking up still dreaming, still dreaming, still dreaming (with thanks to Josh Ritter)

I had a dream last night
I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above
Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark
Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam
The drifters who'd gone under

Time, Love
Time, Love
Time, Love
It's only a change of time

I had a dream last night
And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships
Leviathan and lonely
I was thirsty so I drank
And though it was salt water
There was something about the way
It tasted so familiar

The black clouds I'm hanging
This anchor I'm dragging
The sails of memory rip open in silence
We cut through the lowlands
All hands through the saltlands
The white caps of memory
Confusing and violent

I had a dream last night
And when I opened my eyes
Your shoulder blade, your spine
Were shorelines in the moonlight
New worlds for the weary
New lands for the living
I could make it if I tried
I closed my eyes I kept on swimming

(c) Josh Ritter

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chptr 65: In Which We Moan About Not Being Perfect (yet)

My knitting life this past week has been focused on TENSION.  Argh.

Tension, for my non-knitting friends, is how tightly or loosely the thread that is creating a stitch is.

Ideally, a knitter wants to have EVEN tension all the time - this way all the stitches look alike.  The stitches in a row all are the same size, and the stitches above and below any particular stitch are the same size.

When I first got into knitting, I was attracted to yarns with BRIGHT colors, and yarns with uneven texture.  The patterns I choose really showed off the yarn - they were simple patterns because the yarn's colors and textures were the main attraction.
Uneven yarn = uneven stitches, but with this yarn - who cares?

This is great fun - knitting with big crazy yarn, making splashy items.  It's like being 3 and learning to hold fat, bright chalk and making happy designs on the sidewalk - turning four and using more colors, making a first rainbow, figuring out how to make the forms you're drawing and the colors work together -  everyone walking by oohs and aahs 'cuz your pictures are bright and vaguely recognizable, and especially 'cuz you yourself are so durn proud of your creations.

I'm at the point now where I want to start knitting a bit more quietly in color and texture, but this means attention to my techniques.   Also, I'm starting to knit for other people and I want what I sell to be as perfectly crafted as possible.

Making my basics beautiful (*sigh*).  Back to what Ma always said:  Practice, practice, practice.

I'm working on two projects right now that are kicking my ass - both showcase stocking stitch (this is when you do what looks like the simplest kind of knitting, just plain old stitches back and forth).  They are very different: one is a sweater in a mid-weight yarn, and one is a lacy shawl.

Damn that stocking stitch.  It looks so easy.  Here is a sample of stocking stitch knit by my paternal grandmother (never allowed to call her "Grandma," she wanted us to call her "Pal"). See how even her stitches are?  Each stitch so close in size to the ones above it and the ones beside it and below it.    
As a contrast, here is my current skill level at this, with a picture taken from the sweater I am knitting in Noro Taiyo (yes, this is Meredith's still unfinished Christmas present).:  Do you see how my stitches are the same size as the ones next to them but not to the ones above and below them? It almost causes the fabric to ripple - and I want the lines that are seen in this sweater to come from the colors of the yarn and not the size of my stitches. 

This is also an issue with the lace shawl I'm knitting as an antidote to all the Christmas projects that kept me busy for a couple months with yarn that was so much bigger and fatter than my beloved lace-weights.  I'm hoping to enter the shawl I'm knitting now into local competitions, so I'm trying to make each lacy detail as perfect as possible.  And the lace weight REALLY calls out my uneven tension on stocking stitch.
I'm trying different things to make my stitches more even.  I'll have to work on that and give you an update in the coming weeks as to how this is being solved.  My favorite resource online has been TECHknitting(tm)'s two blog postings:  one here, and the other here.  (The third part of her series on uneven knitting is here.)

Thank goodness for Ravelry and other knitting bloggers - and youtube.  I haven't yet explored what's out there on video, 'cuz I'm hoping that some attention and tricks from TECHknitter will get me evened out.

How's your NY going?  What is challenging you?  Would love to hear.

Enjoy your day, friends, and peace, and love, and happiness.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chptr Sixty-Something (we think) - in which we are late for work, have too many projects going and are missing SUGAR...

"hey, this wasn't MY resolution..."

So.  Confession:  I gained about 20 lbs between July and December 2010.

Part of it was cutting out my daily hour-long walks, which I somewhat blame on having increasing pain in my ass (ok, hips, but I like saying that not only AM I a pain in the ass, but I have one, too) because of 15 years of my body compensating for a shortened leg (result of an injury in 1995). Also, it's gotten cold, and I get lazy, and I have an excuse not to walk so I'm taking it.

A HUGE part of the weight gain has been a ramp-up in my sugar intake, especially around chocolate.  Who knows why, who cares why, but I began eating more and more and more chocolate the last 6 months - for breakfast, at the office, with dinner - not just for dessert, but as an appetizer while I was making microwaving my supper and feeding the dogs, and of course for dessert and as a bedtime snack.  I just kind of obliviously kept chocolate around, ate it whenever, and one day found I was kind of moving from fix to fix.

To combat this, and because I've done a lot of reading and talking to folks about what to eat and not to eat, I've decided that as much as I can without becoming a Food Nazi, I will not be eating food where sugar (even unprocessed types of sugar) are in the first 3 ingredients.

I got the 3 ingredient rule from an overeater's anonymous speaker tape, and the speaker decided on that rule for herself because her favorite salad dressing had sugar as ingredient number 4 and she wanted to keep that salad dressing on her approved foods list.  This makes about as much sense as anything to me, and indeed while reading food labels, I'm finding that a ridiculous amount of the food that I was eating had some form of sugar in the first 3 ingredients!

I'm one week in to this - I started before the new year, and then on new year's day found myself mindlessly munching cookies at my mom's and they also had cheesecake and I decided that cheesecake as my last sugar fix - chocolate raspberry cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory - was a high-end last indulgence.

The day of this week where I ate sugar, I noticed a big rush and then a brain-freeze-like headache.

I wish I wasn't noticing positive results from this - I LOVE MY CHOCOLATE, I MISS MY CHOCOLATE - but I am.  I had energy at work yesterday afternoon - I didn't want to crawl under my desk and nap.  Don't know that I've noticed that I'm more focused yet, and not sure I'm sleeping better which have been mentioned as positive side effects.  But one week in, and I'm noticing enough good stuff that I think it's healthy to keep going with this project.

It definitely is a one circumstance at a time gig - I can get through getting ready for work, cuz I've got no chocolate in the house, plus my morning yummy thing is coffee (and I admit to putting honey, raw honey, in my coffee - may give this up eventually, we shall see).  But then I have to get to work, and that is a minefield - folks keep candy jars in their offices (my deal is to troll stealthily from office to office, usually at 3pm), put out stuff to share in the kitchen, and I work OVER a Starbucks.  And then there's the evening marketing, usually at the Food Coop, and I have to stay away (STEP BACK FROM THE CANDY BARS, MA'AM) from the chocolate bar display - large and prominent, and being by the cash registers, somewhat unavoidable.  Then home to safety.

My knitting indulgence right now is a fairly complicated lace shawl.  I still have one Christmas present to finish (my sweet Meredith is so patient), but knitting this lace is soothing me.  More about that on another posting.  For now, I'm signing off and wishing everyone a happy 2011 beginning, and lots of resolve - and be kind to yourself when you slip.   That's the biggest thing, not throwing in the towel with a setback, don't you think?  Getting up, saying "OK, I forgive myself for the error," and staying on the healthy path.

XOXO - Jann (and Chester, mais oui!)