Sunday, January 25, 2009

Knitting Priorities

As my sprinkling of readers may or may not know, I've been putting in a lot of hours at work lately. We're in a real crunch there on several incoming clients and projects. It's meant a lot of overtime. I'm not a person who does well with a lot of hours. This blog isn't calling "Hanging By a Thin Thread" for nothing, don't you know?

I have some stress coping mechanisms, but most of those involve having time off to meditate, read, knit, walk, do some yoga, reflect. With the time crunch, I've lost a bit of perspective.

But this coming weekend, I will have time to do ALL those things. Because . . . . The Studio Retreat at The Elms is finally coming right up. I'm counting down now. Five days to go. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday . . . then da da da DA - Friday I'm at The Elms. Three whole days to intermingle with my knitting peeps. A hot spa tropical bath treatment. A yoga session or two, lead by a yoga instructor. Sitting in the lobby, pictured here, of a 150 year old hotel in a peaceful setting. Nothing but TIME, TIME, precious TIME to share with my knitting friends. I can't begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to it.

I was considering taking some classes there, but decided that the time to just relax and knit is more important than anything else right now. Learning a new technique would be nice . . . but not as nice as just vegging out. Remembering my priorities - yeah, no classes for me.

My knitting life, much like the rest of my life, has felt fragmented, confused, sporadic and unfocused. Though I don't want to put myself on any kind of productivity regimine, because knitting should be fun and not work, I nevertheless haven't felt relaxed even in my knitting lately, because I feel off kilter and unsuccessful at nearly every project I laid hands on in 2008.

Don't know why, but I produced a lot of duds last year, and 2009 started off with a frustrating experience trying to knit a Jane Thornley Organic Wrap that I ended up frogging. I had hoped to wear it to the Retreat, but no, forget that.

While I'm at the retreat, I'm going to reflect on what are my knitting priorities this year? What do I want to make, learn, do? What excites my knitter's passion in 2009?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day of Pride

In November, we did it, we elected Barack Obama as our 44th President. That election day filled me with euphoria. But today, on his inauguration day, I am filled with something else, something deeper and more profound . . . not just hopeful idealism, but true pride in our country and the realization of how far we've come in my own lifetime.

My childhood occurred during the years of the Vietnam War and during the struggle for racial equality. I was raised believing that while women and blacks SHOULD have equal rights, they really didn't and were desperately fighting for it.

Today I had to work, so I tried to catch glimpses of the big event on my coworker's monitors as we watched it through website feeds. But when the swearing in came, we all stood transfixed as we saw the dream come true. It was very emotional and moving.

Now we've come full circle. We have a leader who represents all the best qualities we so desperately need in a leader at this point in our history. It feels as if we are on the brink of something.

This President isn't promising to do it all for us, but to lead us in a new direction and into an America that we all participate in and create together.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Knitting Caddies

I am a natural bag lady - one of my favorite things to knit is purses and bags, and those have also been some of my most successful projects.

However, yesterday when Bob and I were shopping at an Antique Mall, we happened upon this:

Finding that knitty caddy reminded me that my favorite knitting bags aren't knitting bags at all, they are knitting CADDIES and that's why I have these other two as well:

My Grandmother used similar caddies during the 1960's and 70's and I forgot how much I love them!! I am going to be on the lookout for a vintage version - I am very sentimental about the wild, garish prints of the '70s and those are my favorites.

Now the reason I love these caddies so much is because they sit on the ground, open while you are knitting and when you are ready to go, you just flip it closed, grab the handle and go. Your knitting stuff never falls out - it's compact, easy and really works well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun Saturday in Parkville

Knowing this was my last "workfree" Saturday for the next few weeks, I took a small roadtrip to Parkville, Missouri with my Mom and Kay - and we drove to the Florilegium shop. It's a charming yarn shop that is that and so much more. It's a unique gathering place for crafters.

This week, they featured a visitor, Dave from Ozark Handspun fibers. Dave was there to demonstrate his talent of spinning hand dyed locks in big creative skeins of yarn that knit up quickly and produce works of art.

Best of all, Dave brought along a trunk full of freeform garments to try on, many of which were designed by my Ravelry friend, Janice Rosema. I first "met" Janice over on Knitter's Review Forum several years ago where we shared a mutual love of Freeform, but whereas I'm a dabbler in the art, she's a true master - she designs pieces that are amazing. This weekend I was finally able to see these projects first hand.

You should have SEEN the shop full of excited knitters, gathered around ohhhinngg and aweing the fabulous yarn. There was a gathering especially around the huge trunk with the freeform garments. They looked like a happy group of little girls at at a costume party. They were trying on wild crazy hats, vests, sweaters and purses, all the while asking the other women, "How does this look on ME?" Great fun.

If you would like to see some of Janice's work, she has an article with photos of her freeform shawls in the Jan/Feb issue of Belle Armoire. She also has a pattern in the Winter issue of Knit N Style - it's a freeform cape design with matching fingerless gloves.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Huckleberry Ascot Completed

In spite of the craziness and required overtime at work, I've been able to squeak in a LITTLE knitting. This is my latest project - the Huckleberry Ascot from the Winter 2007 Holiday issue of Interweave Knits. I am showing a shot here with the left side bobble-free and the right side with the bobbles so you can see how it looks both ways in case you don't like bobbles.

My friend Laura kindly gave me a gift certificate to The Studio, so I bought the most luxurious yarn called Shi Bui which is DK weight Baby Alpaca. That is what I made the Huckleberry scarf with - the colorway is 229 which is a rich purple-burgandy.

Though the time for gift giving is now officially over, it's good to keep this project in mind if you ever need a quick gift. I knit it up in one week - a very hectic frantic week at that. Many faster knitters could probably whip it up in a couple of days. The ascot uses short rows and you pick up the wraps. That taught me a new technique because I'd never picked up wraps before. Carol showed me how to do it. Also, the optional bobbles on the ends of the scarf were fun.

Just to note though, instead of doing 8 repeats of the shortrow to create the flaired ends, I did only 6 and also instead of picking up 120 stitches on each end I picked up only 48. This made the scarf less bulky at my neck, and also saved yarn. If you knit it "as written" it uses a bit MORE than the 225 yards, causing you to have to buy a second skein to finish. But if you do the abbreviated version I did, you use slightly less than one whole skein.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I'm Reducing

2 decades ago, when I was a young sales clerk in a Ladies' Wear Department, I worked with a fascinating and attractive older woman named Betty. In her early 50's at the time, she was the epitome of grace, style and class. She kept a beautiful figure and ate and exercised carefully. Whenever her clothes became a bit snug, she would come to work that day, hold her manicured fingertip in the air and announce, "Okay, ladies, the skirt is pinching a bit, therefore I am re-DUC-ing." Reducing seemed such a classy way of saying, "I'm going on a diet." Betty didn't diet, she REDUCED and somehow it made her wellness routine an elegant process. (the photo is of actress Tippi Hedren, who played Melanie in The Birds, but that is how I always pictured Betty must have looked during her beauty peak).

That "reducing" phrase has always stuck in my mind - and since "dieting" has such a negative connotation with me and all my various attemps at weight loss, I'm going to change my phrasing to REDUCING as well.

Taking action: I've been on the Jenny Craig eating/exercise and mental tune up routine since November 18th - and am now on my 7th week of "reducing." I've lost 12.6 pounds and some inches as well, but I need to take my measurements again before I can report on the inches yet. Suffice it to say, my bursting-at-the-seams size 12s are now LOOSE, so I'm a happy reducer.

So far, I am quite pleased with the Jenny program, because with the prepared meals, it has alleviated the stress of planning, shopping and cooking a 1200 calorie healthy and tasty food plan each day. The Jenny foods provide the variety in my food plan that I didn't find with other plans. I am exercising so far by just walking on my treadmill regularly and wearing a pedometer. My goal is 10,000 steps a day, and I'm walking at least 7000-8000 steps - still aiming for more, but it's a good start.

I also like the way that with JC they focus each consultation session on food/exercise/mind - all 3 components working together is working well for me. Eventually, they will start weaning me off the frozen foods and onto cooking a couple of days per week for myself. But I'm enjoying the well-balanced meals. I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. I drink at least 64 oz of water and I exercise. On my drive to work and back, I listen to self-help CDs to retrain my thinking.

While I'll never look a thing like Betty, or Tippi Hedren, I'll look and feel like a healthier ME. Here's to healthier in 2009.