Friday, October 31, 2008

What's Your Personal Year Number?

First, I must display the wonderful birthday package my friend Elysbeth sent to me. It includes "It Itches," the wonderful new book of knitting cartoons by Franklin Habit. Also some fiber to spin, and charming stitch marker. She is such a sweetie to think of me, and it warmed my heart a lot.

Because I believe in Numerology, each year, usually right around my birthday, I select my word for the upcoming year to correspond to my personal year in Numerology. My "year" doesn't run from the traditional January - December but from fall to fall, because in late fall, I start transitioning to the new year and reflecting on what I need to do to make the next calendar year better.

I've experienced a lot of loss this Fall, so I can already see the "2" year has begun. There have been transitions going on, and a lot of sadness and turmoil in my family and extended family. Thank God I discovered Spinning this summer, right before all the turmoil, because that has given me a way to positively deal with my frustrations and emotions.

Numerologically, I will be entering into a "2" personal year in early November, 2008 - it's commonly a year of letting go and changes that you have little control over - not a comfortable year for a control freak like myself. According to, "A personal year 2 is a wait and see time; a year when you will find yourself in the background and very much in a stage of development. This is not a time to force the issue and try to move forward. It is a time for cooperation and building relationships that will benefit you in the future; a year for accumulating and collecting. Aggressiveness will cause problems now. You must be prepared for delays, detours, stoppages and you must be patient."

Therefore, this year, I decided to create a theme word that will match and help me stay in flow with my personal year. This year I chose "Release" as my word - it matches the frame of mind I need to be in to make the most of this year of "going with the flow." With anything that has disturbed me too much this fall, I've found that word rising to the surface of my mind, making me a bit calmer and accepting. That word is already helping me to gain a perspective that is both keeping me sane and helping me grow deeper as a person. I'm determined not to let these changes make me bitter or resentful. Somehow, the events are being brought to me for a reason.

If you wish to figure out your very own personal year. You can go to that website and learn more about it. What you do is add your birth month + day + the year of your next BD. Say you were born on April 24th - then your personal year runs from April to late April. You would add 4 (April is the 4th month) + 2 + 4 (day of birth) + 2 + 0 + 0+ 9 (year 2009) for the upcoming year - and you would get a total of 29/3 - it would be a "3" year. If you have a fall or winter birthday, like me, you would go with 2008 because your "YEAR" actually starts at the end of the calendar year. So if you have a December 4th birthday, you'd add 12+4+2+0+0+8 = 24/6 - a "6" personal year. You always reduce the numbers down to a single digit except for 11 and 22, which are master numbers.

Book Recommendations: If you'd like to learn more about Numerology, I would recommend these books: Numerology and the Divine Triangle by Dusty Bunker; also Numerology, the Complete Guide (Goodwin).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finding My Circadian Rhythm Again

For the past couple of months, I've been working an early shift at work, and although I thought it would be wonderful getting off in the late afternoon, it's been suprisingly NOT a good thing. I find myself exhausted and just coming home to take a nap. I haven't even gotten any daily exercise in. It feels like I'm frantic and running all the time. It's apparently NOT compatible with my body rhythm.

Late last week, I found out that I've received a promotion at work into a department that will require more responsibility and eventually will require some federal certification that I don't have right now. And I have been moved back to my OLD schedule, which involves coming in later and leaving later, but hopefully will give me more time to breathe, think and function better. It's amazing how much the change of such a small thing can make such a big difference in my mindset. I already feel relief - whew. I'm having a slow relaxing Monday morning right now, drinking my coffee, puttering, and I've already walked 30 minutes on my treadmill. Nice change of pace.

We had a super busy weekend - on Saturday, we moved a desk to my Mother's house, and it's a beautiful desk that she'll really love. On Sunday, we went to the Psychic Fair, which is ALWAYS a blast. I had only one reading done, with a guy who interprets animal totems. I'm still mulling over what he said to me, it was one of those readings where it resonated somewhat, but I'm going to have to think it over to fully determine what it means for me - he sent me home with the three animal totem cards I picked from the deck and I'm supposed to meditate on those. Okay . . . will do.

Emiy had two readings, one only "so-so" and one really powerful. I used to hesitate to bring her to these events. but she really enjoys them and gets a lot out of them, without taking it all TOO seriously.

Bob had a nice numerology reading, and helped the numerologist trouble-shoot her computer problems. Ha! Seriously. He's a computer guru.

And lastly, though I haven't had much time for knitting lately, I DID get a chance to work a bit more on my Chocolate Truffle Socks designed by my friend, Laura
. Yarn is "Chocolate Truffle" created by Dome Hill Sock Yarn. She has created a really FUN pattern, and I liked the cuff part with the sparkly beads so much that I decided to keep going, making the cuff taller so that I could maximize the colorful candy effect. It's been the first time I've worked beads into my knitting, and guess what? It's really not hard at all. Have a good week everyone - and may we all put some laughter, fun and enjoyment into our days - regardless of what shift we're on, okay?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have You Discovered Smartflix?

Quick blog entry here, because I need to get ready for work. But have you discovered Smartflix? It's a wonderful website that rents out DVDs and Videos on everything from home remodeling, computer, electronic, metalworking and gobs of other practical topics, but unlike Netflix, Smartflix specializes in titles for a variety of practical skills, and has a HUGE craft section.

Since my current obsession is spinning, I am going to start by renting "Fiber Preparation and Multicolor Blending Techniques" by Deb Mentz. The descriptions says, "This video includes many wonderful ways to prepare fiber for spinning, using both drum carder and combs. The focus is on how to use fibers that have already been dyed to create multicolored yarns. It starts with drum carding "101" - how to effectively choose and use a drum carder. Then it's on to blending colors to create new colors. You'll learn how to get predictable results, how to blend luxury fibers, & how to create multicolored drum carded batts so the colors stay clear and bright. Multicolored yarns can also be created using combs. By using already combed and dyed solid wool top, the multi-colors will be created by using a multistep process of arrangement of colors on wide combs or hackles. Designing plied yarns with color effects in mind concludes this video workshop.

The Way It (Smartflix) Works: You order a video or DVD and if it arrives at your house on say a Wednesday, you have until the follow Wednesday - exactly one week, to watch it. Then you simply return it. I guess if you're late, they'll probably charge a late fee, I'm not sure of that yet, because this is the first time I'm doing it, but I don't intend to be late.

Anyway, this rental service has programs on knitting, spinning, weaving, and a whole wide range of topics of interest to crafters, not to mention tons of other fields. It's exciting to find such a service since craft videos and DVDs are so expensive. I'd rather watch and return them. Nifty idea!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Harlot, Harlot, Who's Got the Harlot?

It's been a wild, crazy week so I haven't had time to blog about the Yarn Harlot visit until now (the event was held on Monday, Ocotber 13th). The first photo shows a picture of our gang together.

We were in the front row, on the side of the auditorium. In the photo, to the left is my Mom, then myself, then Laura, Dorothy and Kay to the right. Unfortunately, the digital camera I have doesn't take good long shots, so the picture of the Harlot herself is dark and miniscule. In fact, most of the photos I took turned out badly. Don't know what was up with my camera.

My opinion of the Harlot before attending the event was "eh, she's okay, nothing special." My opinion after the event: "Super ehhhhh, nothing AT ALL special."

While I used to read her blog fairly regularly and enjoy whenever she talks about knitting, after all she IS a really talented and fast knitter and I would have greatly enjoyed hearing more about it. I have heard that in talks in the past, she knit, talked about her knitting more - but she didn't at this performance. It was all about HER and her book career. I frankly don't care about that - and the self-promo gets old very fast.

But fortunately, once the book signing portion of the event began, and over 200 knitters lined up patiently to get their books signed, my seat at the front and side allowed me to have a bird's eye view of all the talented knitters who came to see her. To me, THOSE were the real stars, the best and most DEVOTED knitters in Kansas City coming together in one place to show off their sweaters, shawls, socks etc. While waiting with them in line (not to get a book signed myself, I didn't care a thing about that). Instead, I stood up and talked to many of them, admiring their projects and talking about knitting itself, which was the REAL reason I was there.

So it was a wonderful evening, and I am glad I went.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Learning Some More - Yarn Design Class

I should know, from past experience, that the one thing which will make me feel rejuvenated is learning something new. Being a lifelong reader and avid student, I LOVE taking classes in all kinds of things, but who can beat a class on SPINNING just when I needed a lift?

I took my wheel, which I've now named "Fernie" after Grammy Ferne, who gave her to me.

The class? "Yarn Design," a 4 hour session at Yarn Barn. Boy was that ever a fast-paced wonderful class. We learned so many things compressed into 4 short hours. First we learned wheel mechanics, figuring out things like the whorl ratio of our wheels. Fernie's whorl ratio is 7:1.

We practiced spinning some yarn, then figured out the Wraps Per Inch, the Twists Per Inch and the Grist of our yarn using a Yarn Balance. That was fiber mechanics and it was really interesting.

Then we learned fiber preparation and blending, using combs and then a drum carder. We went upstairs to the yarn shop, picked out yarn we wanted to recreate, then practiced making a desired yarn. We practiced better coordination of our treadling with the type of draw that would create the right texture and thickness of yarn.

The whole thing was just such a blast!

Finally, I made this beautiful self-designed yarn. It doesn't look nearly as pretty in this picture as it goes in person. It contains brown merino, green mohair, purples and some gold colored silk. My partner, Janeice and I, were really proud of the batting we carded. Then we spun and plied it and made this cute little mini skein.

The book our teacher recommends is:

Diane Varney's SPINNING DESIGNER YARNS. She also likes an older book called "Essentials of Yarn Design" by Mabel Ross.

The biggest thing I learned today is that I don't have to just spin up whatever thickness and texture of yarn that comes out. With practice, I can also design yarn, creating a specific type of fiber and can prepare, spin, and ply the fiber to create the yarn of my heart's desire.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A New Look At an Old Book

The Mason Dixon Knitting book is rising to the top of my attention lately. Why? After all, it's been out several years, and I've made several projects from it, including the Peaches and Cream dishrag, the cute little baby kimono and from their website, the Buttonhole Bag. It's just a FANASTIC book. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed when it first came out. It has a rather lackluster cover. It mainly features projects for the home, more so than sweaters or garments.

For someone like me, who has gauge "issues," it's delightful not to have to worry about whether it will fit or not. A blanket, a dishrag, a linen towel, an absorbant bath mat, doesn't have to fit. Most of the projects are fun, easy and very satisfying. It astonishes me, frankly, that I haven't made even MORE projects from this book, and I intend to remedy that. (You can now buy the Mason Dixon book on sale from Knitpicks for a bargain at $17.95).

What is bringing all this to mind is that the NEW Mason Dixon book, Knitting Outside the Lines, is finally available. I've been looking forward to this book release for a while. Now that this second book is out, I've thumbed through it at the bookstore, and frankly, keep scratching my head thinking, "Ehhhhh, not so great." Mainly sweaters and garments and it doesn't look too impressive - few projects immediately grab me.

But then I remember that I wasn't too impressed with the first book at first either. So I went ahead and ordered Book 2 as my last "must buy" book from Crafter's Choice.

The MD books remind me of that "nice guy" you may have gone out with, not been overly wowed by at first glance, but then slowly fell in love with as time went on. For me, the MD book endures, and I suspect that might be true of the second, as well. Only time will tell. But now I'm starting to look forward to a long, slow courtship with Book 2.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Just Can't Get No . . . Knitting Satisfaction

Here lately my knitting has been kind of frustrating again. While I finished the huge Shetland Triangle shawl, it didn't turn out as intended and didn't have the same sense of "Ah" after completing it. Don't know why, but it just wasn't fulfilling.

And now I started the Pi Topper Chemo Cap for charity knitting using the Berocco Love It yarn, and Number One, I don't Love the "Love It" I think I hate it. It reminds me of that splitty yarn Nashua Cilantro that I disliked intensely. It's splitty and just feels like I'm knitting with stretchy cord rather than yarn. It wants to come unraveled and when you cut the yarn, it un-twines in a scary way.

Plus, while I love this pattern's design, it started off way too large at first. I had to rip out over half the hat and start over because even on size 6 needles, it was way too large. I knit most of the hat before realizing that. Damn! Then I switched down to size 5 and finally down to a 2 (too small), up again to a 3 - it was too large and just doesn't fit right. I don't know what's wrong with it - but I've spent over a week on it and am fed up. May try again with another pattern/different yarn. But for now, I'm setting it aside in total disgust.

What was supposed to be a quick charity project for Roberta turned into a week-long exercise of frustration.

Sometimes I feel amazingly inept as a knitter.


So, instead of knitting, I'm going to practice some of that self-care I spoke about yesterday. Taking 10 minutes to spin might be fun and relaxing.

Later note: even the spinning isn't going well --- argghh!!!!! I am so frustrated and unhappy right now. I am emotionally eating out of frustration and that isn't helping either. My Grandmother is in the hospital again and everything is haywire and going wrong right now. I need to get on a different track.

Calgon, take me away.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Importance of Self-Care

My dear friend, Elysbeth has selected her word for the year - since the Jewish New Year started the other day, she has selected "Nurturance" as her word to carry her through the coming year.

As everyone knows, my blog is calling "Hanging By a Thin Thread" for a damned good reason. Self-nurturing is essential whenever you are stressed - and who in the world isn't these days?

Julia Cameron wrote "The Artist Way" about 15 years ago and it is a goldmine of ideas for self-care and developing one's creativity. One of her best suggestions drawn from this book is the "Artist Date."

An Artist Date is a time you set aside each week to spend with yourself doing something childlike, playful, creative or just downright FUN. It's preferably spent alone, but you can also include a partner or friend.

Here are some of my favorite Artist Dates I've experienced:

**Visited the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City and gone inside the Budhist Temple exhibit for a wonderfully refreshing meditation session on the stone bench inside. Luckily, it was a slow day at the museum so no one disturbed me.

**Walking in a wooded area near my house on a brisk Autumn day and collecting some beautiful leaves. I later came home and pressed them into waxed paper using an iron.

**Sitting outside on my back porch with a hot cup of coffee and watching the sun rise.

**The classic but highly effective stress reliever: Taking a long relaxing warm bubble bath while wearing a scented facial mask to tighten my pores.

**Going camping in an old fashioned tent with my husband and daughter - building our own fire and cooking outside.

**Going to the circus.

**Visiting the Unity rose garden or the Labyrinth and enjoying a walking meditation.

**Making bread from scratch. This is an all-day undertaking, and my favorite bread to make is Challah (Jewish) for Shabbat. I also enjoy making Poppy Seed cookies, an old recipe Bob's Aunt Renee passed down to me.

**Cooking some delicious soup in the crock pot and eating it in front of the fire.

**Sitting at my piano - when everyone is gone from the house, and practicing my very BAD piano playing with the elementary music books I still have squirreled away in the piano bench.

**Going to a luxurious hotel lobby, even if I'm not really staying there and sitting in one of their comfy chairs knitting or reading. (No one ever questions whether I'm a guest or not).

**Setting up my spinning wheel on a cool day and spinning to my heart's content while watching Elisabeth Zimmerman videos.

**Select one of your favorite time periods and immerse yourself in that time period. For me, listening to 1920's music from a collection I bought and pretending I'm a flapper. My friend, Lynn H. (ColorJoy) has a couple of these CDs you can find here that she and her huband have made, they are really fun to listen to, especially while doing folding laundry or doing some otherwise mundane task.

I also love re-watching old movies set during that time period such as Paper Moon. There is going to be a new movie out shortly set during that period calling Changeling. But pick YOUR favorite time period and experience it through your favorite clothing, jewelry, music, movies. What fun!

Now - what could YOU do to nurture yourself this week? What are Artist Dates you've done or would like to try?