Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding the P-Spot

The other day we had a new member attend our knitter's group. (Welcome Judy from Oregon)! While she sat chatting with me, I was frantically working on finishing the final bottom strip of my Striped Modular Vest.

Judy brought up the familiar process v. product discussion. She stated that she is a process knitter, and that like me, she is a relatively slow knitter. It set me to thinking, once again, about where I rest on the process v. product pendulum.

A year or more ago, I probably would have said I was very much a "process" knitter, as knitting for me is enjoyable, relaxing, and I'm not in a race to get it done. Also because my very favorite thing to knit in the WORLD is lace, and especially shawls. For me, knitting a shawl is a pure act of concentration meditation. Knitting lace pushes aside any anxieties, worries or random annoying thoughts. I am fully being and doing and breathing during that delightful zen-like process.

But what is surprising to me is that more and more, I see myself moving toward the PRODUCT side of the spectrum. Why? As I gain knitting skill, the outcome really IS important to me. That's why I so often knit for myself - I really really want the Finished Object, either for myself or a dear friend or loved one. And how it turns out is important. That's why I am so disappointed in disaster projects, such as the Talia. Ughhh!!!!

Nothing delights me more than when a project turns into a perfect marriage of design, yarn, color, texture and being flattering on the recipient as well. What a a gratifying feeling when it all comes together. Pure Magic. The project doesn't have to be perfect mind you, but it has to feel right in all the major elements that are meaningful to me.

Granted, you can't always predict the projects that will really hit that RIGHT spot, but I am getting better at finding that P-spot (perfect project spot).

I'm getting better at spotting the YARN for THE PROJECT to create better results. Getting better at noticing when it's not coming together so I can add the missing element or frog the whole thing. I'm no longer satisifed with keeping or giving away things just to finish them and have them off my needles. If the project isn't right, I have to either fix it or frog it. My yarn and my knitting time are much too valuable to waste on a poorly executed Finished Object.

So where do you fall on the pendulum? Have you found your P-spot?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Vest - Ta-Da (Finally)

Remember how I was going to make this Creative Knitting vest in time for the Ravelempics finale on August 24th? Well, as you recall, that didn't quite get done on time. I was struggling through my final square, and having trouble getting it attached.

Then when I tried it on, OOPS!!! Too small in front.

Even though I'd gotten gauge perfectly, my prominent bust area made the button gape too much and I decided to add a one inch garter stitch strip on both sides of the front. That meant sewing up the first buttonhole I'd made in the original square and doing a buttonhole in a different direction in the new buttonband.

Since I picked up and knitted this new buttonband in an East-West direction rather than the usual North-South, it made me think carefully about how to do the buttonhole - I had to end up using 1 skein of thread on one side of the buttonhole and a second skein on the other, so that in knitting across, I would have strands of thread obstructing the buttonhole. Does that make sense? Hope so.

Here's the back of the vest. Again, if I weren't so bustily-endowed, it would have fit perfect without the modification, but I was so happy it worked out and I was able to make this fit better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Lion of the Senate Roars Again

All my life I have revered this man . . . affectionately known to all as "the Lion of the Senate." Though I was born on John Kennedy's election day . . . . though I admired the promise of Bobby Kennedy and then watched in horror as he was slain in 1968, his promise cut cruely short. I've always loved and admired the Kennedy family as a whole. They are a special family. But Teddy, honestly, has always been my personal favorite.

Why? Because in spite of his being wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, he has fought hard his entire life to champion the rights of the little guy - the average Joe - the most vulnerable and powerless in our society. He worked for 4 decades to bring about the changes in America that his brothers only dreamed about and barely started. He firmly believes in liberal viewpoints that shone brightly in the 1960's and 1970's during the years of my youth, but have sadly become darkened, and nearly dead during the '80s and beyond. He has been one of the few strong lights of hope showing us that YES a few of us still believe in those liberal ideals and someone is out there arguing on our behalf.

As Caroline Kennedy said, if you believe in these things he's fighting for, then he is YOUR senator too. He's certainly always been a Senator after my own heart.

The rest of the DNC event last night was okay - just okay, I think they could have rallied better during the first 2 hours, but seeing Teddy give his amazing speech waws a moment that left me awestruck and moved beyond belief.

Teddy, your strength and character is like none other. What a contribution you have made - and I hope someone else picks up your torch and carries it forward before it goes out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Getting the Monkey Off My Back

In Buddhism, there is a concept called "monkey mind" which describes the mindset of a person who is not fully conscious in the present moment. Like a monkey swinging from tree to tree, the monkey mind jumps from thought to thought, rarely resting for more than a brief moment. Monkey mind prevents us from “being here now” and distracts us from the present.

Well this week - another monkey analogy applies. The monkey on my back THIS week is my eating and excerise which has kind of gone into monkey mind mode. The weight monkey, that is. In fact, you could say it felt more like a 400 pound gorilla on my back. For 4 weeks I did great on my low-carb diet, was totally faithful to it and lost 8 lbs total. But I kind of "stalled out" or hit a plateau and became pretty discouraged and tired of eating the same limited foods day after day.

Last week and this week, during my "cheese eats the mouse" weeks at work, I've been stressed out and have eaten everything not nailed down - carb or no carb, I was binging like crazy. Plus, I was getting used to a whole new schedule that was playing havoc on my eating habits.

Because my theme for 2008 has been "Awareness" and I've been trying to be especially aware of self-destructive behavior, I decided that I needed to put the brakes on this out-of-control eating behavior before I gained back all my weight and THEN some. Because we all know how much quicker it comes back then it leaves. Right?

So I woke up at 6:00 this stormy Saturday morning and forced myself to attend the earliest Weight Watchers which starts at 6:30AM, yes that's right 6:30, it's NOT a typo! It is led by my always-inspiring leader, Christina. I discovered that I have still kept off 6 of those 8 lbs I lost during the low-carb efforts in July and August, so now I'm moving forward with the CORE plan, which is still low carb, but also low fat, and I know it's going to be more doable for me, because frankly, I was getting sick of eating the same things day in and day out. The variety of food choices that the CORE plan offers will hopefully still help me lose weight, but give me more options for the long haul.

That 6:30 group is really amazing! I've been there before, but they really are magic. Something about having the dedication to get out of bed at the crack of dawn on your day off must really bring out the funny, motivated, inspiring, and dedicated group of health fanatics! I don't know those people well, but can tell already that they are way different than the other WW meetings I've been to.

One thing they have there is something they call the "Monkey Files" which is a notebook they've put together of recipes, tips, etc. to help their members stay on track. They take turns bringing the notebook home, reading it and using it when they feel in need of weight loss support. When you feel like there is a monkey on your back, for whatever reason, then you take home the monkey files and then ADD one thing to it to help others. Along with the notebook, you get to bring home a cute little stuffed money to take with you anywhere you might need support that week. Well, I didn't take the file home yet, but I decided to adopt the Monkey concept, and bought myself my very own stuffed monkey.

Introducing my new monkey, and mental anchor for healthy living. His name is "Tidbit" - he's small, he's cute, he's a symbol of what I need to be aware of. And this monkey dispels all those OTHER monkeys who have been chasing around my frazzled mind:

Did you know that the term "monkey on my back" was originally a reference to one's drug habit? Though I don't have a drug addiction, I have a food addiction that clearly I and ONLY I can throw off each and every day that I choose to claim the power and control of my own life.

This little furry monkey, in psychological terms, will be my anchor. To help me remember just who is control of ME, I'm taking this monkey, Tidbit, along with me this week in my big purse and using his presence to keep ME present and on track with the choices I need to make for a healthy life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Squares 5 and 6 Complete

Here is the latest on my Ravelempics competition - finally 2 more down! It feels like I'm not accomplishing much knitting very fast, but at least I'm moving ahead and seem to be still on gauge.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Apparently Someone is Moving My Damn Cheese

There's this sappy sort of businessy self-help book called "Who Moved My Cheese?" (96 pages and has content for only about 3 of those pages) that has been popular for several years. I read the book if you can call it that - it's supposed to be a business parable - and to sum it up in my own words: "Change happens, especially in the business world and if you want to keep getting the cheeese (paycheck/benefits etc.) then you as a GOOD corporate MOUSE had better adapt to change and learn to crawl through the new tunnel to get that cheese, otherwise you'll starve."

I hate the book. I hate the mindless philsophy in business and everywhere else. In my opinion, it's even more insipid than The Secret, another brainless rehashing of metaphysical principals that are WAY more complex than the slick marketers would ever even touch.

At any rate, what I have found in my infinite and admittedly UNsuccessful past business experience and having always been a rebel from tripe of all sorts, and generally intolerant of corporate slick-speak, what I have discovered is that whenever managers start suggesting books such as this, boy you better watch out because change is coming all right. Cheese is moving. Yeah. Not usually good for the mice.

So when change happens, you can either buck up and face it, or you can leave and go find cheese somewhere else. Or you can laugh about it and try to survive. That's what I'm doing right now.

Not to be cynical or anything, but THIS wonderful youtube video by Michael Loeck perfectly expresses my opinion of this mouse/cheese concept. Funny, click on it and watch it. It will make you laugh too.

And as the new week approaches, and I scamper down a new tunnel in search of my cheese, I wish other mice a happy and mousetrap FREE week ahead.

Friday, August 15, 2008

4 Squares Down . . . . 4 More to Go

Last night I completed the fourth square, so I have the back of the vest finished, but not seamed together yet. That leaves 4 blocks for the front, plus a collar and bottom strip left to do. Not quite halfway, but almost!

I think I'm pretty much right on pace to finish by the time the Olympics end on Sunday, August 24th. I started this vest exactly 1 week ago - yay!

Next week will be tough because I'm changing shifts - moving up to an earlier shift at work, and changing my job function somewhat. It will be interesting to see if I still stay up late to watch the Olympics, or if I crash early. Not sure, but I need to finish this vest.

I really like it so far, and guess what? It's on gauge! I measured it the back and compared it to a sweater that fits and it appears to be on target. (I say that holding my breath). That old bugaboo "Gauge" and I have a LONG term battle with one another.

This has really been interesting focusing on solely one project for a whole week. As most of you know, I am not usually monogomous with my knitting projects and prefer to work on several things at once, but this focus on ONE thing at a time has been somewhat helpful to me and I might even consider doing more FOCUSED efforts on future projects.

This particular modular project has been a delight, because you get the instant gratification of compelting ONE square at a time, and there's that zingy feeling of completion each time one is done. Plus it's a very easy, mindless and portable project, which is always a good thing.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

As Summah Draws to a Close

So many things have happened this summer. My daughter is driving, holding down a job, dating, and seeing her friends. Her life is busy, and the summer has been full. But it's drawing to a close, as school starts again next week. It's hard to believe just how amazingly fast this summer has flown by, even faster than most.

Did you see the movie Mamma Mia, featuring the Abba music of the 70's yet? Great chick flick. Go see it with your favorite pals. Definitely, the most emotional part of the Mama Mia movie, which I saw a few weeks ago with Emily and my mother, was the part where Meryl Streep sings the song about letting go of her daughter. I've entered the beginning of the "letting go" phase, and it's so hard, but a relief to see how she's taking on more and more responsibility.

On the Ravelempics front, I am still futzing with Square 3 of the lower back. On this project, there are a total of 8 squares, plus a 3 inch border that goes all the way around the bottom, and a collar. I haven't gotten very far on Monday or Tuesday. Let's hope today I am able to accomplish more. Sure hope so!! It feels like it's not going fast enough, and I really want to have this entire thing done, including seaming, by the end of the Olympics on August 24th.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Becoming An Olympics Fiend

Did I tell you that I LOVE the Olympics? Never watched it this avidly before, but I'm really really enjoying it. That win by the Men's Swimming relay team last night was amazing. They won by literally a fingertip's length. Whew! Great move by that swimmer named Lezak.

Here's what I did yesterday - finished up the second square that I started Saturday. And there's also a close up of the K3 together decrease in the center of the mitered square. I also worked a bit more on the Margo shawl and it's coming along nicely too.

Doing this project is reminding me of how very much I enjoy Modular Knitting. I may be doing more of these types of projects in the future for the very fact that knitting a sweater or vest this way is so transportable! You only work on one small module at a time and then pick up stitches etc to join them. If you are interested in learning more about mitered squares, here is an excellent link to a blog entry by another blogger (Pretty Posey) called "Mighty Miter" that goes into great detail in demonstrating the technique.

As soon as I come home tonight, I'm turning on the Olympics!!! If you missed anything, I understand that NBC has video replays of most of the events. I'm going to check it out because I heard the women's fencing was excellent.

Ta ta for now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 2 of Ravelempics

Okay, don't worry, I'm NOT going to post my progress on the Mitered Vest every single day, that would probably get really old fast. But here is Day 2, just to show that I did manage to pick up from Square 1 to make Square 2. In this photo, I picked up the edge for Square 2. Made a mistake at first and picked up going the wrong way, from the left side over - but you MUST pick up from the upper right edge (corner) over toward the underarm edge. There are purposely 6 stitches there that you leave unattached, because that is the underarm area.

If you pick up starting with the left side, as I did at first, your Rows aren't corresponding with the Right/Wrong side of the directions and you have your Square 2 attached with the wrong side of 2 attached to the Right Side of 1. Not a good look. Finally got it going correctly. Whew!

I was so proud of my husband yesterday. When he was young, he always have 20/20 vision. But during the past 5 years, he's grown increasingly in need of longer arms, err you know, he needs reading glasses and can't see fine print worth a darn. In fact, even his distance vision is no longer perfect but is now 20/30. He was getting quite frustrated with having 20 million pairs of readers around the house, car and office and still never having a pair when he needed them. I suggested contacts, but he was resistent to that, because he's hated the thought of touching his eyes.

Yesterday, he bit the bullet and we went to an eye appointment to get him fitted for his very first pair of contacts. He learned how to put them in, take them out, and wear them for several hours yesterday. He has the kind where you have distance reading in your left eye and reading in your right. Just like mine. He loves it. Says it works great. I am so proud of him for trying something new and keeping his mind open about trying new things. Though we're both aging, and he's getting dangerously close to the Big 50, he's still young at heart, and can now finally SEE again. Yay!

On the diet front, I am starting Week 5 of the diet today. I am committed to sticking to this diet for one more week. I promised to do it until August 17th - or in other words for a full 6 weeks. Then at that point, I will be an assessment and decide if I want to continue to stay on this throughout the Fall or try something else. I have to admit that I'm getting a bit frustrated with it. Didn't lose anything last week, but I chalked that up to hormones. Now I still didn't lose again this week. Argghh!!! Though the diet isn't hard, it IS restrictive and takes a lot of preplanning. I still have only lost a total of 8 lbs in 5 weeks. I guess that's pretty good - or at least okay, but I think it's hitting a 2 week plateau that is getting my goat.

Losing weight and getting in shape in middle age is really hell, I'll tell you. It's just not easy. I really need to change my mindset and vamp up my motivation again. Grrrr. I better go buy and cut up more veggies.

Have a good week ahead everyone.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Day 1 of Ravelempics

Yesterday was a mixed day. I did several of the things on my list. Woke up fairly early and tried to watch the Olympic games promptly at 7 a.m. but then discovered that it wasn't going to be broadcast on TV until 7:00 p.m. CST.

I drove to Lawrence early to visit Yarn Barn and bought more of that beautiful auburgine colored roving I am spinning with my Golding Aromotherapy spindle. Here is my spindle. I'm actually spinning a bit better on my drop spindle so far than on my wheel, but both types of spinning are getting better and coming along nicely. I can't tell you how much I enjoy spinning! It is truly my new form of meditation and is something I've been doing a bit every day - it's the most enjoyable thing I do all day. Spinning is my small bit of nirvana. Weird but true.

Then Em and I went over to her school to check out her classes and locker, pick up her schedule etc. We also went school supply shopping and tried to find some shoes for her. She drove me around all day during errands. She's driving better than me now!

Finally, in the evening, we watched the opening of the Olympics. It was simply spectacular, and my new Striped Mitered Square Vest is starting off well - here it is. Love the pattern. Love the yarn. I seem to be on gauge. Yay!

Nice beginning so far.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I am so excited to have tomorrow off work. This sounds crazy, but I SO SELDOM take a day off work that it is really special when I do! I feel positively delighted to the point where I have about 15 different plans of what I can do on this day.

One involves sitting at home all day in my PJS watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and casting on for my Striped Mitered Ravelempics project and knitting on it all day long while watching the games. This way I'd get a good start on my project and really have time to "veg out" at home.

Another imagined plan is to get out of the house early, drive to Yarn Barn, one of my favorite yarn stores of all time, and see what wonderful rovings they have to offer to feed my new spinning obsesesion.

Yet another option is to get up early, clean my entire house from top to bottom while watching the Olympics. While I'd like a clean house, that option doesn't sound very fun on a day off. Nah! Scrap that one.

Then there's the option of taking my daughter school supply shopping, out to lunch, maybe catching a matinee movie and having a total mother/daughter day. I'm not sure if she'd want to spend all day with me, but it's a nice thought.

Yet another fantasty day is that I go into my cluttered knitting room, organize all the yarns and projects into a neat, tidy format so that I can just walk in there, pull out a project at any given time and know exactly what's on the needles and soon to BE on the needles. Now that I've given away most of my excess stash, this has some appeal. I've been pretty messy and disorganized in this room lately. It would be nice to have a well-functioning craft room again.

I think, much like planning a vacation, or anticipating a favorite holiday, much of the FUN of a day off is imagining all the possibilities.

My true day off tomorrow will probably be some combination of the above. I'll let you know what I actually do once the day is done. But whatever I do, hopefully I'll appreciate it and enjoy it fully.

Happy Weekend Eve everyone.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Feeling Wilted

The dog days of summer are really here. I hate the heat. With us being in a 100 degree little mini heat wave for the next few days, I feel like a piece of lettuce in a wilted lettuce salad. Eccckkk.

My daughter, on the other hand, is enjoying summer - that's a photo of her and boyfriend. She wishes summer would never end. School is creeping up fast on us.

But back to the heat - yuck! I just step out of the bath, and I'm hot and sticky again. I didn't feel like going anywhere and slept way too much. Somehow I felt like I needed it.

So this has been kind of a lackluster bor-ing weekend.

It was tax-free weekend for school supplies, but I was too hot and cranky to even THINK about shopping. My teen girl wasn't really hep on it either, so we're procrastinating. With her driving, working and hanging out with her friends, she's hardly home.

Knitting News: On the knitting front, I have made good progress by scrapping the Shoalwater Shawl and switching over to the Shetland Triangle. That was a great idea, why didn't I think of it sooner? Don't know. But I just re-started this shawl on Wednesday night and I've already completed 5 repeats and am into the 6th. Not sure how many repeats I'll do, but this is a really EASY shawl and a good introduction into total chart reading.

Always in the past, I've done lace patterns with both written and charted instrucitons, but I'm happy to finally wean myself off the written instructions. This pattern is well written and fast. Very pretty too. It's from the book Wrap Style. My goal is to complete this shawl by Thursday, August 7th so I can officially begin "Ravelempics" on Friday August 8th. I'd like to block the shawl by the end of this week and give it to Margo next weekend if at all possible.

You know what? I'm thinking about taking a much-needed vacation day on Friday the 8th in order to start the Ravelempics Vest Vault with a good strong start. That way, if I DO finish the shawl, I'll be able to block it on Friday and cast on for the vest. Sounds like a plan? I'm scheming to lengthen next weekend so that I can get through the next few sweaty days. Surely the heat wave will end soon?

Fitness Program: The diet is still going GREAT. I stayed the same in terms of weight this week but my pants are feeling a bit looser and I just feel plain GOOD. Need to step up the exercise though. With the heat and all, I haven't felt like adding any extra sweat, but I really need to do it. Grumble. Grumble. It would probably make me lose faster too. I'm lazy, what can I say? If I lived anywhere near Elsybeth, she'd be kicking my ass into doing something fun and fit like Zumba!!

Ta ta for now.