Sunday, April 24, 2016

Unplugged, Yet Recharged

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including you. -- Anne Lamont
There's really only one way to sum up what I've been up to since my last post:

That was the little sign I put on my door at work early last week. I caught a head cold that I'm pretty sure nobody wanted me to share, but I wasn't feeling sick enough to stay home, thus the Post-it warning. It was a pretty good idea, actually: I had the quietest day at work I'd had for weeks. Part of me thinks I might just stick it on there whenever I want a bit of piece and quiet...

... except I'm sure someone would either figure it out or send me into quarantine.

Catching this cold made me really slow down and take a much-needed look at how things were going, how much rest I needed, and how I was dealing with things that were happening in my life. The loudest message I got out of this was that I needed to be kinder to myself. By that, I mean: not just giving myself little treats while I was feeling sorry for myself (mmm, Nutella), but by really giving myself the time to heal, and compassion to not push myself so hard, and the patience to know that this wasn't going to last forever.

That meant that I didn't do much of anything except rest, eat, sleep, eat some more... I did not knit and I did not write. I barely went for walks. I made good friends with the couch and a book, of which I only read a few pages before I put it down to sleep.

On the bright side, I'm grateful that the days are brighter and that I'm waiting up to daylight these days, even if I am still a bit tired. My CSA box is proof of the bright and sunny weather:

I could not get over the beauty of these radishes. It seemed almost a shame to eat them, but they were so good for my healing body:

I had no qualms about eating that rhubarb. I made stewed rhubarb for the first time with them, and I'm almost sorry I did, because it was SO GOOD that it almost didn't make it into the crumble I made with it later:

I wasn't all that interested in working on my 2Hundert shawl. It was partly due to my low energy (as my friend, dkzack says: friends don't let sick friends knit), and partly because I really didn't know how I was going to finish it off. I had an image in my head about how I wanted it to look, but I wasn't all that confident my addled brain could figure out how to do it.

However, I was quite pleased when I figured out that I could put my little vintage Villeroy and Boch creamer to use. It made a perfect little container to hold the beads I was using, and the spout made an excellent rest for my steel crochet hook. That, in and of itself, made me feel better:

After a few days of knitting a stitch here and there in between naps, I finally did make it to the final bind off, but even that was a bit of a struggle. I tried about four different methods (with a nap in between each) before I finally found one shared on Slip Slip Knit that I thought might be ok. I actually used a crochet hook to bind it off, because I'd ripped out the stitches so many times that I didn't want to risk breaking the yarn at the end with my needles.

Even after the bind off, I wasn't all that sure that I was going to like the result. I wanted a nice, big shawl to wear over my shoulders during the cool summer evenings. I was determined to use up all of the yarn, but I got to the point where I couldn't force out another repeat for fear of ruining the shape of the shawl. For once, I was disappointed about not running out of yarn.

After I bound off the stitches, it looked disappointingly small:

Last night, I got up the courage to block it, and I was much, much happier with it. I was especially pleased with the points I was able to block into it, and I'm much more confident with the way the beads are standing out in each of the points:

It's still on the blocking boards right now, because I always like to leave things to block for a full twenty-four hours, just to make sure they are fully dry and so that they will hold their shape. I also wasn't in any mood to make myself presentable for photos. I think I'll wait until I look less like a zombie to share the final result.

In the meantime, I'm going to daydream about making something from this new pattern book I got yesterday. I suddenly feel excited to dive into my stash to pull out some cotton that has been waiting to become something:

I spent some quiet time with some friends this afternoon, and for the first time in a couple of weeks, I finally feel rested. There's something about being around a certain energy that rejuvenates you in a way that even a full night's sleep can't. I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be back to my old energetic self soon.

But first, I think I'll go lie on the couch for a bit. It's best not to rush these things...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Matlock and Missing Eyeballs

I'm in Winnipeg right now, visiting my family for a short break. My father had a brief stint in the hospital, and I decided that now was a good time to be home. He is doing pretty well, happy to be home, and weathering the tiresome Winnipeg springtime, as it teases us with sunshine through the windows, and then smacks us with harsh winds as soon as we venture outside.

I am so glad to be home. I've been so tired recently, and I am glad to be away from my office at work for a little while. Being here on my own without the obligations of holiday visits makes it my own little holiday. It's like traveling back in time, because I'm back in my old bedroom, with my familiar things around me. My mom feeds me with all my favourite foods. Dad watches a lot of Matlock and M*A*S*H, and sometimes, during the commercials, I catch myself wondering what year it is. I'm surprised by news of presidential campaigns and commercials for cell phones. It's like being pulled back and forth between the past and the present.

In the airport the other day while I was on my way here, I was sitting at the departure gate and happened to glance over as the lady next to me pulled out a ziplock bag with pink cotton yarn in it, along with two knitting needles. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she began to stitch. She was a beginner, concentrating hard on making her stitches even, counting them carefully. I pulled out my knitting bag, excited to find one of my people, eager to discuss what each of us was doing, but then I became suddenly shy. It seemed a bit rude to pull my lace weight, cabled shawl with the beads I was going to work into them ratting away in my project bag while she was concentrating so hard on her dishcloth. Instead, I folded my hands and watched her out of the corner of my eye. I'm always entranced by knitters.

Isn't it interesting how, in a departure lounge full of people, the yarn people found each other? She even ended up sitting behind me in the plane. Yarn has a strange magnetism, it seems.

I brought along my 2Hundert shawl. It's reached the stage where every single row takes about ten minutes to complete:

And now that I've started adding beads, it's more like twenty minutes:

And add all of the errors and dropped stitches that come along with trying to add beads without a pattern, it's actually more like an hour. Sigh. This will not be a coffee shop project... unless that coffee shop has lots of light and will allow me to shush anyone around me and will tolerate my muttered curses.

Perhaps I was a bit too optimistic about my knitting productivity while I am here. I brought along another mini project to work on when the shawl was finished, but it looks like I won't be getting anywhere near it. I was going to make little hearts with smiley faces on them to sell to raise money for an upcoming Heart and Stroke Fundraiser I'm going to be part of:

It's probably just as well I'm not going to start them yet, because when I pulled out my box of craft eyes, I realized I forgot all the backing snaps for them. Using them like this would mean that the eyeballs would pop out of each toy if anyone squeezed them. That would be funny, but maybe wouldn't be all that appropriate

I go back to real life tomorrow afternoon, and I can't say that I'm totally ready for it. I'm enjoying floating along in this life of no obligations and nowhere to be. I'm grateful to have the break, though. It's given me time to get a better perspective on things, and maybe life doesn't have to be the relentless push forward that I sometimes turn it into.

Gotta go. Family Feud is on. After that I'll take a nap.  Yes, I planned that. I have to plan SOME things to keep my sanity. Imagine the chaos that would ensue without planned naps... I shudder at the thought.

Have a great week, all.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

About a Tiring Week and an Alien Shawl

First thing every morning before you arise say out loud, 'I believe,' three times. --Ovid
I had a hard week at work this week. Well, in truth, it's been a tiring time for a few weeks at work, but at the end of this one, I felt like I ran uphill the whole time. By Thursday, I felt like I'd was getting close to the top of it. By yesterday, I was at the top, but then had to run through a patch of thorny bushes. So yes, it was a hard week.

Thursday morning, I woke up to the sound of springtime birdsong. I sat up with dread, fearing what the day would bring, but after I took a few deep breaths, I decided to believe that there was definitely going to be more to this day than work, and that I was going to go looking for something else to add to the day.

I got up, put on my running gear, and went out for a beautiful morning run. After injuring my knee last weekend and being relegated to icing and stretching and babying it at the gym, it felt so good to be outside in the fresh air, watching the sun rise as I trotted along, and listening to more birds singing (and woodpeckers pecking - I bet they're popular). It was a wonderful hour to myself - a good start, even though I knew I'd be crashing through the chaos of another day at work.

On Friday morning, when I woke up, I told myself again to believe that there would be more to the day than work. And there was. On the way to work, I noticed the magnolia tree on my driving route was in full bloom. I circled the block and parked underneath it (actually, I stalled my car underneath it - I wasn't quite awake enough for such a detour). I climbed out of my car with my phone and hopped around on the road, taking photos of its beautiful blossoms:

I noticed petals dropping as I took them, but it was only when I backed up a bit to get a shot of the full tree that I noticed the crow perched in it. He must have been having lots of fun poking around in there:

So, here I am on a Saturday, grateful to have reached it, grateful to have had a long night's sleep and to have had a nap this afternoon, and grateful to have some time to myself. I got up this morning and took these dried beans that I got out of this week's veggie box and put them in to soak. They're so pretty... like they've been dipped in marbling paint. I'm still deciding what to do with them, but I'm glad to have the chance to play around with them this weekend:

And of course, I'm happy to have some time to knit. I did have time to knit this week, but I'm thinking I might put a movie on this evening and settle down to an hour or two of uninterrupted, blissful stitching. I'm reaching an interesting part of the shawl I'm working on. As a true yarn nerd, I'm totally excited by it... even if it's going to take me a long time to finish it.

The pattern is 2Hundert, and the yarn is a skein of Paternayan Crewel, a discontinued laceweight yarn in a dusty pinkish grey that I bought a few years ago and that has been begging to be made into something. The pattern is a surprisingly simple shawl. It starts out from the top centre, and it grows outwards, a semi-circle that gets bigger and bigger until you add the cables at the edge. Earlier in the week, I was still in the "amazement" stage of the shawl, when you say, "Wow, this is working up so quickly! At this rate, I'll be done tomorrow!"

But you forget about this thing called this thing called geometry. I won't go into the formula for it, but of course, the larger diameter of a circle, the larger the circumference. In short, the more I knit, the bigger it gets, and the longer each row takes to knit.

And for some reason, there's no such thing as "steady growth" with a shawl. You fly through the first half of it in leaps and bounds, like you've got some kind of knitting super power, like in those dreams where you can run so fast without any effort at all. And then real life hits, and all of a sudden each row is like racing through a giant vat of custard... which might sound enjoyable, but is actually a lot of work:

I have still quite a lot of yarn left, but I'm not going to be tempted to try to do extra rows before the edging, because another annoying thing about these shawls is how they suddenly turn into hungry little beasts out of nowhere, gobbling up huge amounts of yardage for each row, where previously, they were only daintily nibbling at the ball as it grew. It's like those movies where people find cute little alien creatures and take them home: they look like they would make awfully cute pets, but soon they're eating all the food and all the people and all the toilet paper...

You haven't seen that movie? Have they made that movie? I'm sure they have.

Anyway, I am very glad that there is more to life than weeks of hard work. In my heart, I believe that it'll calm down some day, and I believe that I have the ability to change things so that it won't be so hard. It'll be a matter nudging things into the right direction so things will settle out it its natural order. All things have a natural progression.

Except for those alien shawls... sudden giants taking over your knitting bag... 

Hmmm, I believe I need another nap. Happy Saturday.