Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ribwarmer Rehash

Well, what have I been doing in the way of knitting lately? Sometimes I forget this is a knitting blog.

I'm still hard at work on my Ravelry partner's pray shawl. It's a secret because we are keeping it all under wraps until the "big reveal" in November. I have a wonderful swap partner who is very talented - she's designing a shawl for me, I can't imagine being able to design. That's just a talent that is beyond me. So I'm working on a stole-type lace prayer shawl for her, but I can't tell you much more about it until November. It's about 25% along and is looking good so far. We're all exchanging and unwrapping the shawls around Thanksgiving time. What fun that will be!

The Elizabeth Zimmermann Tea that my guild held earlier this month inspired me to knit Zimmermann patterns. Since I love vests and fall is close at hand, I have started thinking "Ribwarmer." I tried to start this ribwarmer you see pictured here, in the Mountain Colors colorway of Tamarak but I don't know how well it is working up. It seems too long on my short-waisted body. Hmmmm. That's giving me pause. Plus I don't know if the varigated yarn I chose is working up like I'd hoped. The colors seem to be pooling in a way I'm not thrilled about.

While EZ's designs are amazing in their simplicity - they are straight-forward but not always detailed enough for my clear understanding. I can't always figure out what she's describing. So I'm struggling over this ribwarmer pattern. I've always LOVED this design and the way it looks on people. But I'm not crazy about how mine is working up. Recently, a Ravelry friend named Sandra has tried to step me through it a bit. I'm still trying to decide if I should rip this Mountain Colors/Tamarak vest and start over. Not quite sure yet.

We have had a wonderful cool summer - amazing really. And this weekend was cool and pleasant - an early Autumn perhaps? Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I am still under a lot of anxiety on several fronts, but this weekend was a welcome reprieve - I just have to have faith that Bob's job situation, and all the other uncertainties lingering in my life right now will eventually fall into place. In knitting, just as in "real life" sometimes you have to change direction, refocus your plans and be prepared to rip out and start over when things aren't turning out right.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Waiting for the Next Shoe to Drop?

Why is that so many people, including me, are under this weird sort of TENSION right now? Yes, the economy is bad. Really bad, especially in some parts of the country like Michigan, Florida and California where we have cousins barely able to make it right now in local economies that make ours look prosperous.

And yes, even those with jobs are afraid of losing them. And I know of this personally because my husband Bob is slated to lose his. They're shutting down his department and outsourcing it. We just don't know exactly when yet. So we're waiting for the shoe to drop.

But still . . . there's more . . . an unspoken tension in the air that is almost touchable. People on the road - driving much more aggressively than usual. Bickering. Back biting. Negativity. Maybe it's just me, but I'm noticing it more. I'm trying to shake it off, be positive. But sometimes I just wish I could stay in bed under a sheet and hide all day.

Sorry for this dive into self-pity. I just sense the overwhelmingness of what so many people are going through, and a fear somehow that I should be preparing for something - a BIG transition.

Hey, this is my Sunday. One more day to rest, and finish errands, chores etc. Maybe the shoe isn't really there. And maybe looking at it doesn't help. There are so many people buried under way more than shoes. Comparatively, I have few worries.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Elizabeth Zimmermann Birthday Tea Party

August 9, 2009 (Sunday) would have been Elizabeth Zimmermann's 99th birthday. My local knitting guild, The Sunflower Guild, celebrated by having a wonderful tea party at The Victorian Trading Company. This was the PERFECT setting for the gathering. We had, gosh, maybe 30 knitters from our guild in a little old-fashioned Victorian furnished parlour inside the store in a private tearoom. The furnishings were wonderfully authentic, and our guild members had all dressed up in their summer dresses and many wore shawls or Elizabeth-inspired knitting projects.

What can I say? It was a delightful afternoon. While we drank tea and homemade lemonade, we enjoyed treats prepared by several of the members.

We heard Elizabeth stories, about events from her life and her books. We discussed projects that were made from or inspired by her books. We had an Elizabeth trivia game and prizes were awarded. There were dainty little hand made notecards, handspun and/or hand-dyed yarn.

It was just delightful! This is the second year they had the event. I didn't get a chance to go last year, but will definitely plan to attend next year.

This lovely afternoon reminded me of an Elizabeth story I heard from Davis Xanakis during his Double Knitting class the first year I attended Stitches in 2003. He told of how Elizabeth used to be knitting constantly, including while her husband drove the car or motorbike. Whenever she would go to dinner at someone's home, she would often bring them a gift, and often a knitted gift. One day, he said, she was on the way to dinner at someone's home and she knitted the host a double-knitted pot holder so that the table would be insolated from hot pans. She just whipped it up and hurried to finish it on the way to dinner and presented it as she walked in the door, barely off her needles.

My own personal "Elizabeth" memory is one of my craft-loving grandmother, Ferne, (now 93 and still with us) watching EZ's PBS TV show. Grammy would never let us turn the station while EZ was on. She stayed glued to it the whole time. In recent years, she's really enjoyed us being able to view EZ videos from the library. It brought back a lot of warm memories from the times we watched it together during the 1960's during the PBS years.

So in closing, as Elizabeth would say, "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Naughty Gnats and Other Annoyances

Perhaps because we've had an extemely cooler and wetter than normal summer here in the Kansas City area, there are more gnats and other flying insects. How do I know this? Because at the office I've recently noticed these little fruit fly like things, gnats, or whatever you call it, hoovering around my desk at work, especially whenever I'm eating the fruits and veggies that I so often eat.

What I noticed was that day after day last week, as I worked on an undesirable project and it became more difficult and frustrating, my annoyance with the gnats increased steadily. Monday, minor irritation. Tuesday, why are they here? Wednesday, what the . . . . Thursday, okay stop it SWAT!! Friday . . . ughhhh. By Friday, I wanted to kill them literally, whatever it took.

So Friday I actually interrupted my work flow to conduct an Internet search how to get rid of gnats. Then I took an early lunch break, went out to the grocery store and armed myself with the homemade remedy recommended on several sites which is: put some cider vinegar in a small cup, along with some Dawn detergent, cover the cup with with plastic wrap poked with a few holes and held closed by a rubber band. Thus, I took the time to create these little gnat traps and put them all around my office.

Well, this sounds silly but I'm the type of person who attributes meaning to everything. Including gnats. What interested me was not so much the gnats themselves, but my reaction to them. My annoyance was about more than gnats. Maybe I'm annoyed and irritated by a lot of things. Too many things.

Then I remembered what a psychologist once told me. When something really annoys you, you have only four basic options: 1) accept the situation; 2) change it (by changing yourself or your environment since you can't always change other people nor gnats; 3) change your attitude; 4) leave (the situation, the relationship etc.) - simply eliminate it. That's it, four options in almost any life situation.

So in the case of my gnats, I'm trying to make my office environment less appealing to gnats (change the environment), and doing this by setting traps that may capture the little buggers while I'm gone this weekend.

And if all all fails, I may have to just accept and co-exist with them. I suspect I'm noticing and overreacting to their presence largely because I have to face that project and either tackle it effectively or figure out another option. The gnats were a distraction that I let myself become preoccupied with - in other words, gnats ain't the real problem. See what I mean? It's me and how I'm dealing with other things. It's also my attitude. I need to sometimes step back and not overreact to small irritations.

Many of the small things WILL eventually take care of themselves.

But I can't lose my peace of mind over a gnat.

What's "bugging" you this week? Can you change it? Can you fix it? What are you really "bugged" about?