Monday, July 30, 2012

Inspiration Mondays: Sitting in It

"Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life....My precept is, do something, my sister, do good if you can; but at any rate, do something." -- Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
I am guilty of overthinking things. My current knitting project is a perfect example of this:

I know. I'll make some little leaf patterns over here, I say to myself.

No wait, the thinker in me says.. You need to keep your stitch count the same.

But it should work itself out, I say.

You should do the math and figure it out, says Thinker.

It's only one or two stitches, I protest.

Fine. You'll only regret it later, Thinker sighs.

And well, Thinker and I battled it out until I ended up with a pile of yarn on the floor from a project ripped out three times. That Thinker... stinker...

And the same thing happens to me in other parts of my life: counting every single second of my workouts, measuring every single gram of food, recounting every little look and word I said, or every single look and word said to me... wondering what was meant by that... wondering what I should do next... wondering if that chair should go here... or there... or if I should water my garden now or hope that it rains...

Or, I could just stop thinking and just do stuff and not take everything so freaking seriously.

And yeah, I know details are important. It's my attention to detail that makes me good at knitting, and at my job, and helps my marriage. But sometimes, I just have to accept that I can't think my way through each and every problem. Sometimes, a problem is a problem, and the unknown is just... unknown. And no amount of stressing or pacing or ranting is going to change that.

A friend of mine said recently, "Sometimes, you just have to sit in it."

And that means, I just have to drop the psychobabble and just eat/drink/walk/work/love/listen/live. What's the worst that could happen with that, huh?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Floored, and Things From the Middle of the Night

My parents were here this week to help us install some laminate flooring in our kitchen. Nice, huh? It's wonderful to have handy people in my life, especially when I am not particularly talented in that department.

With my 10k training as well as with a busy week at work, I felt like the week went by in a flash. I wish I had longer to visit with my parents, but they're a bit like superheroes: They do their thing, then they disappear.

And since I was so busy, It wasn't until today that I got a chance to go out into the garden to check things out. Tonight, I pulled out a few fresh beets and roasted them for our dinner. I love the look of their jewelled flesh when you peel them:

And, somehow, I managed to get a section of my current knitting project finished. This is the ivory section of something I've decided to call "The Oreo Cowl," because it is going to be sandwiched by two black sections:

Last night, I woke up feeling a little anxious, so I got up, got myself a little snack, and started knitting again. The middle of the night is a weird time. Sounds seem louder, light seems brighter, and thoughts are dream-like, I think because you are not totally committed to the idea that you are awake. I'd been working on a simple "false rib" stitch section for the rest of the cowl, but as I worked away, listening to quiet music and the sound of the quiet house, somehow, this little leaf appeared in my work.

And I like it. I think I'll work these in at intervals for the rest of the cowl.

I like my sleep, but man, it'd be interesting to see what would happen if I kept working in the middle of the night. Too bad I have to work during the day, otherwise there might be some pretty cool masterpieces emerging from my needles...

But then again, maybe not. It's probably not the best idea to be working with pointy needles on small amounts of sleep. Ah well...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: When They Find Each Other

Remember how we played with paints when we were in kindergarten? We wore those plastic smocks and stood in front of an easel and used those big, thick brushes to make portraits of our families where everyone had enormous heads, stick-like arms, and occasionally had a body? And how there was a pot of water to dip your brush into to clean it, and how you usually ended up with a soggy piece of paper because no one told you about squeezing the water out of the brush? And remember when you started realizing that certain colours could go together and look nice together?

Well, the last thing didn't happen to me. I have no recollection of figuring out colour theory. I remember being told about complimentary colours once. Red and green, yellow and blue, purple and orange. That is the sum total of what I know about colours. Hue? What? Saturation? Eh? Tint? Say wha?

There are so many cool two-colour patterns out there right now, but I have so little imagination when it comes to figuring out my own unique colour combination that doesn't look like I burned out the rods and cones in my eyeballs before choosing them. Usually, it's lucky happenstance when my yarn ends up finding each other.

Take these, for example: madelinetosh dk in Candlewick and Koigu in a mixture of greens.

I glanced over at the table one day and found these guys hanging out together, like students at college who figured out that they're the same kinda folks: Sublime DK in icy blue and my own handdyed bfl.

The same thing happened when my eyes drifted over one day to these two skeins from Dragonfly Dyewerx. The funny thing is that they both have fruity names: It's Grape To Be Me and Honeydew.

Even though I have so little background understanding colour, I have a great love for it. It satisfies something inside of me that I really can't describe. It starts inside my eyes and moves into my heart. Corny, I know, but it's true. And since these little lucky combinations have happened, it's inspired me to go through my skeins and see which ones might be happy together. And maybe it's because I don't have any background in it that I'm not predisposed to rules and theory.

And yeah, this could be a metaphor for the way we people find each other, too... the way we meet kindred spirits in the strangest of places. The thing is, we need to be open to the lucky combinations life throws at us, and not get bogged down by rules and theory: like attracting like or opposites attract and all of that hullaballoo. Most people wait for the great friendships and relationships in their lives to announce themselves with all the trumpets and fireworks that all the books tell you to expect, but the truth is, people enter into our lives like seasons: with a whisper. And if you're open to them, there is nothing more satisfying than these lucky circumstances we find ourselves in.

Cheers, all.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Little Luggage Family

Old stuff makes me happy. Useful old stuff makes me even happier. Leave me in an antique shop, and I'll walk around it a hundred times before I want to leave... much to the hubby's chagrin.

Recently, my love for vintage items has extended to luggage. It started with the train case that is now holding my favourite yarn skeins. Yeah, I know it's weird. No, I don't care what anyone thinks. They just don't make stuff like this anymore, and I love the thought that I can have a pretty bag without waiting for a factory in China to crank one out for me.

Here's my little vintage Samsonite luggage family. Below me is my green Silhouette bag, which I use for carrying my yoga stuff. To the right of that is my blue Sonoma bag, which I use to carry my swimming stuff. Above that is a yellow Weekender bag, which does not have a use just yet. I got it last week at a charity shop for $3.00.

I know someone out there cares about this, so I'm posting this photo for a bit of luggage eye-candy, and maybe for a bit of affirmation. Luggage buddies, can I get a "woop woop!" It's kinda lonely not having many peeps who get my obsession... come say hi!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Limbo - noun:
1) a place or state of restraint or confinement
2) a place or state of neglect or oblivion
3) an intermediate or transitional place or state
4) a state of uncertainty
That's the definition of limbo according to Merriam-Webster. So, how come there's a dance called the Limbo that involves bending backward and moving under a stick? Hmm?

Anyway, I'm in a knitting limbo right now. Stuff is moving very, very slowly, thanks to the fact that I'm training for a 10K and working on my health issues. It's all been very, very hard work. Combine that with the hot, sultry, lazy evenings, and my hobbies have had to take a back seat most of the time.

It's a shame, really, because I keep coming up with these neat ideas for projects, and I have such beautiful yarn to work with. If it weren't for the fact that I had to go to work, I'd be cranking projects out the wazoo.

And no, I don't know the definition for "wazoo."

The project that has been languishing in my bag is a pattern of my own creation for a cowl made from some Mirasol Tupa, which is a silk/merino blend yarn. Part of it is being made with this lovely cream colour which I'm attempting to knit with undulating, curvy leaves. I'm trying to work in some tendrils that will extend upward, like little vines with buds on them. I've been stuck at this place for a couple of weeks now, because I'm not really sure where to go next with it.

I'm not really a designer, but I absolutely, positively love dreaming about creating things. When I made jewelry, I'd lie awake at night, thinking of colour combinations, bead textures, cord lengths... glorious! This cowl has filled many an evening with daydreams.

Except, that's all it has amounted to so far.

This is not to say that I've been laying off the creative vibe. I keep seeing things I want to work on, things I want to create, things I want to make for myself. Last week, while visiting a friend in Vancouver, I went down to an area where there were a lot of East Indian shops. I was hoping to find some wrap skirts, but what I discovered was much better: saris.

And what amazed me was that I could buy this beautiful fabric from $8 each. And there is at least 3 metres of fabric in each. You can't buy fabric at that price, especially jacquard prints and silks like this stuff is made from. My favourite so far is this silk sari, which I think I will keep as a sari and find some occasion to wear it... somewhere...

The rest are going to become skirts, I think. At least, that's the plan. I am looking into purchasing a presser foot for my sewing machine that will make a simple, rolled hem on each. I have a few wrap skirts that I can use as a pattern so that I can, in theory, make a bunch in the same fashion.

Except, I'm in limbo. And I have other fabric already that has also been waiting to be turned into skirts. So, what to do?

I suppose the first thing I should do is get off this computer and actually pick something up and work on it. Heh. You know, get up and do something.

Right. Here I go. Right now. Getting up, and picking up a project. Yep. 

But maybe I'll go get a popsicle first... yeah, that's that I need... then I'll get right on it. Tomorrow. Because it's getting late.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Inspiration Mondays: No Holding Back

Today, I was told that I learned very difficult lessons more quickly than other people before me did. I asked, "But... did I learn too quickly?"

I've always been a quick learner, in school, in knitting, even in videogames. It comes from a need to please and a restless mind. I want to absorb as much as possible as quickly as possible. And when it comes to learning difficult personal lessons, I worry that I move too quickly through them, and that I should be taking my time with days and weeks of contemplation.

Today, I was told:
When a child is learning algebra quickly, you don't tell him to slow down. You know that he is understanding, and is hungry to understand more. To ask him to slow down is unreasonable, because he's ready for more. And so are you.
Except, that's not actually true. Look inside a classroom, and you'll see plenty of very smart people slowly going crazy with boredom because we tell them to slow down and wait. We give them more and more of the same ol' thing so that they can be "at the same level" as everyone else.

And that sucks.

I don't know what the solution is. Actually, I do have some idea of what the solution is, but it's hard to put such things in place in the Industrial Revolution-style education system we have in place. How do we find ways to keep us moving forward, not going stale in a world that tells us to "wait for the others?" How do we keep inspiring and challenging each other? And how do we stop trying to compare ourselves with each other with a single ruler someone else made to measure all of the wonderfully complex people in the world?

We do this by continually challenging the status quo and finding ways to inspire decision makers to make things better every single day. And we support their decisions with constructive suggestions to make things better, instead of criticizing every single move they make.And we also don't hold ourselves back when we can feel the rush of understanding flood our senses. And we start to recognize that rush in our children, and encourage them to find it again and again.

No one left behind vs. no holding back. It's an interesting conflict, no?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On Vacation

Hey y'all! I'm away on vacation until July 16th. See you soon for more bloggy goodness!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Inspiration Mondays: The Right to Be Wrong

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. -- Dr. David M. Burns
How much energy have I wasted in denial that I was wrong when I could have just accepted it, learned and moved on? A heck of a lot. How much knitting could I have done in that time? A heck of a lot.

And I know I'm not alone in wasting time applying blame and excuses. I watch the news every day and see our politicians attacking each other about projects that didn't quite work out, and what are they achieving? I see it in my workplace, and even in the playground.

When we say that we should accept our mistakes, the same must be done for each other. We all make them. I do daily. And yet the world keeps on turning and my dog keeps on napping. All is right, even when we're wrong.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day, and Why 656 Is Not 1032

In case you didn't know, 656 is much less than 1032. Like, almost half. It helps to remember these things, especially in knitting. It can save you much grief... 

But it can also inspire ingenuity.

First things first: It's Canada Day today! Happy Birthday, Canada! This was the first year I've ever watched our local parade. I went over to a friend's house with hubby and Rascal and ate way too much food and enjoyed watching the floats go past and the children scrambling for the candy that was tossed their way.

Here's the ubiquitous Mountie shot.

And the ubiquitous bagpipe shot.

Rascal was a little scared of the bagpipes. I don't blame him. They're not my favourite, but you know, it's tradition.

The local Humane Society cheered him up a bit by bringing over a little friend for him to meet. Parades are great for meeting new friends.

There were a whole lot of other things in the parade, but that would make for a very long blog post. Suffice to say a fun day was had by all.

And now for the knitting portion of this post:

I finished knitting a shawl yesterday that has been on my needles for over a month. It's Romi Hill's Muir from Knitty. I've been so busy with other things that knitting has really taken a back seat a lot of the time, which really makes me sad. Since the acquisition of some new fibre during our trip to Olds last week, however, I've been inspired to work more quickly so that I can can enjoy all my new stuff.

When I cast on to start the shawl, I took a quick look at the pattern, and decided I liked the open work of the lace and thought it would work well with the variegation in the yarn. And, I don't know why, but my brain reasoned that I would get a nice, rectangular stole out of it, even though I had much less yarn than the required amount.

I had 656 yards. Not 1032. Almost half.

I bought the yarn during our trip to the Lake District. It's Filligran Lace No. 1 from Zitron, in a colourway called Taiga. The finished garment is nice, but since it is a singly ply yarn, any time I needed to rip back to redo sections, I would find parts that had already felted together and I would end up snapping the yarn. Luckily, it was easy enough to felt the ends back together, but it wasn't my favourite yarn to work with, by any means.

If I'd actually stopped to think it through a bit more, I could have made it narrower and got more length out of the yarn in the end, but thinking, apparently, is for chumps.

So, I took it off the needles yesterday, put it out for blocking, and saw that yeah, 656 instead of 1032 makes a really BIG difference. I didn't have a rectangular stole, but a big... square.

My momentary despondence disappeared once I took it off the blocking board. The edge brushed against my arms, and I immediately loved the beads I added to the ends at the last moment to give it a bit more drape. I liked the look of them against the back of my hand. Hmm...

I fished out the last few yards of the yarn I'd snipped off after I bound off the shawl, and started sewing...

And voilĂ : I have a shrug!

I don't usually like shrugs that are made from plain rectangles, but I really like how the sleeves look in this case. I'm still not crazy about how the back drapes, but I think I could live with it. I'm pretty sure this thing will get plenty more wear in this incarnation than as a square, unwearable shawl.

I'm now working on something of my own design that I've already ripped out three times during the design phase. Luckily, I've figured out the proportions of this thing with a bit more care this time... I hope...