Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nesting Notes

Since my mind and heart have lingered so much lately on my daughter, I will post an old photo of her here. This is one from our trip to LA in 2008.

With Emily gone off to college, I am in a state of flux as I readjust my life to no longer being a parent. Missing her hits me at odd moments. Like yesterday, I was at a thrift store, and I saw two high school girls sifting through the dress area in search of old evening dresses. One of them was a thin, pretty brunette like my Emmy. I stood watching them, mesmerized, missing my daughter, for the longest time.

Finally, one of them looked uncomfortably toward me, noting my eavesdropping with a nod of her head to the other girl. So I spoke up, told her I agreed with her friend that the red dress would look stunning on her. I also explained that my own daughter is just a year or two older and has gone off to college and that the dress she held in her hand was the style that my daughter probably would have picked. The two girls laughed and explained they were both searching for homecoming dresses, and since they'd only wear it once, they saw no sense in buying a brand new dress. They said they often shop thrift stores. I told them Emmy did too. They both were pleasant and sweet, but probably thought I was a little nutty. So I drifted away, leaving them to their girlish camaraderie.

Other times, Bob and I will see a little girl in a crowd who reminds us of a smaller, younger Emily. We talk wisftfully about that time, and laugh as we go down "Memory Lane" together - then draw ourselves back to the present.

But all in all, we are doing fine. Emily seems to be doing fine too. She started out sick her first few weeks there, but she's feeling better now and adjusting to college life. She misses us too sometimes, but overall, is building a new life.

One thing I'm trying to do is refocus again on my diet and exercise. I've been letting that slide really bad these past few months. I like Jenny Craig program really well, but can't afford to keep doing it, so I've been off of that for quite a while. Tried to do diet and exercise on my own, but that really hasn't been working!

I'm at that stage where I'm still not back to my very fattest weight - but I've gained about 15 pounds and 2 sizes of it back again from my Jenny Craig fighting weight where I felt at my best. I am too fat to fit into the more stylish size 8 clothes that I fit into only a year ago. I want to get that "top of form" feeling back again and I KNOW I can do it. I have the time and energy free now to devote to my fitness and health again. I have no good excuses for NOT doing it. I will do it. Yes!

So last week (on Wednesday), I signed back up for Weight Watchers again. We'll see how that goes. I've tried it before and struggled because since I'm so short and small framed, I only get 19 points a day. What I've figured out and plan on doing differently this time is to use the online tools, and I'm already forced myself to look up the points and journal everyday online so I figure out the true points of the foods I eat. Planning ahead is essential since 19 points doesn't go very far if you don't carefully preplan. I always thought that figuring out the points was such a hassle, but with the online software, it is fairly easy to look foods up and record them.

My Mother and I are also getting back into doing our treadmills everyday. We're both trying to do the routine where we go fast and then go slow on the treadmill, we break up the pace, intensity and incline on the treadmill to give the workout more "punch." That seems to really help. I'm also wearing my pedometer and getting in 10,000 steps each day. I just started all this - so we'll see how it works out.

So I end this post by reminding myself that we can't live in the past, but must reinvent ourselves for the future - it's a process. Sometimes it a process we have to repeat (as in the fitness journey) but we have to do what work at each stage of our life, because we are never the same and can't go back to who we used to be to get to where we want to be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Art Yarn or Art Science?

When we were in Bethel, MO at the festival, several of us took "Spinning Art Yarn" with Brenda Schmidt. It was a fantastic class! We also had her for another on "Making the Most of Handpainted Rovings." In those two classes, we covered a lot of techniques and I went into my usual overwhelm mode but still and all, I learned a ton of stuff including Corespinning, how to make coils, cocoons and how to Navajo ply. I actually did it, yay!

Brenda has been spinning for many many years, and guess what wheel she brought along? Her beaten up, no-worse-for-wear 1970s Ashford Traditional set up with a jumbo flyer for the art yarn. It’s a 1970s model just like mine - and hers has only one ratio (I’ve since updated to the flyer with 3 ratios). She uses that thing like a true but reliable car - maybe it’s not the most beautiful, but it’s got 300,000 miles of spinning on it and it works like a charm. When the leather footman goes bad, she just replaces it with some leather cut from a thrift store leather belt. When her drive band goes bad, she just replaces it with string. When her spring goes bad - she puts on a new rubber hair elastic. Ha! When I came home, I gave my old Traddy "Fernie" a happy spin. I have the exact same type, that belonged to my Grandmother. Watching Brenda spin so skillfully on an old workhorse with NO special bells and whistles reminded me that you don't have to have a fancy machine to make an exquisite yarn! It's more in the spinning technique and skill than in the spinning wheel. I zoned totally out on the part about how to add beads and bobbles, but hopefully I can get up to speed on that later after I've practiced more.

So I came home and wanted to practice right away! I had my Fancy Kitty Drum Carder all fixed up for Ron's adjustment and new brush, so I carded up a big bat of Woolie Bullie alpaca in blue and some black alpaca along with a dash of copper Angelina, which is glitzy stuff, and carded that into this batt.

Then I subsequently spun into this this art yarn.

And with that art yarn, I made this Sophisicated Coils Art Yarn hat - a free pattern on Ravelry by fellow Sunflower Guild member and designer extraordinaire - Christine Long. It's a really easy and fun pattern. What I like best about it is that Christine tells you how to actually knit with art yarn, to make sure that the coils you've worked so hard to create will stay in the front of the yarn and show up in the hat.

Next time, I'd probably perfect my coils or cocoons (the big fuzzy things sticking out) but I was pretty happy with my art yarn as a first time effort. After all, Art Yarn is an art, right? And I don't yet have it down to a Science.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

168 Hours

In terms of money, we aren't all equal - salaries are as varied as people themselves. Some are born filthy rich and others will barely have a meal. But when it comes to time, that's a resource that is a level playing field. We all, theoretically, have the same 168 hours in each week to do with as we choose. I used to argue that those of us who have to work for a living in the corporate grind are limited, because we automatically lose at least 40-50 hours in a work week, not even counting the frustrating commute.

After diving into Laura Vanderkan's book called 168 Hours, however, I'm not so sure about that. She explores time management in a unique way. Instead of trying to better manage the tasks we must do, she throws into question our very way of life itself. Are we making the best use of our lives? Is our career something we really LOVE doing, and if it isn't, even in these hard economic times, maybe we should reevaluate what we're investing our time and energy into creating. If it's not work we love, then the hours, no matter how compactly spent, won't be fulfilling.

She focuses on how we can instead turn our focus to maximize what we do and like to do most so that we create a time orientation that reflects our values and priorities. This allows us to do more - and not just more but do things differently, so we're energized by a new purpose and not just checking off a long list of mundane tasks. She has convinced me that not only can we accomplish everything we REALLY want to do (i.e. fulfilling work, quality parenting and marriages, fascinating hobbies) but we can take time to eat healthily, exercise, and fulfill ourselves in every way that is truly important.

This is NOT one of those "you can do everything and be a superwoman/superman" type of books. It's not pie-in-the-sky postive thinking drek.

If you'd like, you can visit Laura's blog and take a look at some of her ideas and exercises to see if you too might benefit by taking a new look at the 168 hours that are available to us all.

Monday, September 06, 2010

World Sheep and Fiber Festival in Bethel

Oh what fun! I just returned from the World Sheep & Wool Festival held in Bethel, Missouri. I may never have the money or desire to fight the crowds that some people endure to go to other, fancier, BIGGER fiber festivals, such as Maryland Sheep and Wool or Rhinebeck. But here in Missouri, we have our own little festival and it's called World Sheep & Wool. Rather ironic since it's hardly big or "worldly" but is a whole lot of fun.

This year, I attended for the very first time, and went with 3 other local spinners, Luann, Julie and Christa.

We stayed in a cute victorian house. This one. Very quaint and comfy.

I took 3 classes: one on blending fiber with cards and drum carding. I have had a drum carder for over 2 years but never really felt I knew how to make the most out of carding - when you do it, why, how etc. After taking a class from Darlene, I am excited to do much more of it!

Plus, since a Missouri guy named Ron makes my carder, the Fancy Kitty, he was at the show and was able to tune up my carder, adjust it, and I bought a new brush for it which will make it even more productive than it was to begin with. I absolutely LOVE this carder (Fancy Kitty). It's the most efficient, least expensive drum carder you can buy in my experience. Keep in mind, I have never used any other kind, so my experience is rather limited, but I love mine and can attest to Ron's excellent customer service and affordable pricing.

We took a phenomenal art yarn class by Brenda Schmidt, of Wooliebullie. She does really great work and has such a patient nature. She and her mother, Bev, stayed in the same house we did and we enjoyed her company, as well as her teaching. She makes her living selling fiber and teaching fiber arts. She has one line of natural fibers with natural colors called Natchwoolie, and one line of bright colors and crazy fibers called Wooliebullie. One thing that amazes me is that she does it ALL on an old 1970's Ashford Traddy that just has one ratio - though she uses a jumbo flyer on it which helps in spinning art yarn. This wheel has been WELL USED - it's dusty, and a "no fuss" wheel that goes absolutely EVERYWHERE with her, to these fiber shows. When it breaks, she fixes it with string, leather from a thrift store belt for the leather on the footman. She just spins like a true spinning veteran. My friend Christa says she's a "gypsy spinner." It just goes to show that you truly don't have to have a fancy wheel to spin well, technique in the long run means more than all the fancy wheels and equipment in the world that you can buy!!

Speaking of buying, I found some wonderful fiber - here's a sampling of some of my fiber. I feel like a fiber glutton. No, not a glutton, okay I feasted on fiber. But that's what long holiday weekends are all about, right?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hotel Recognizance Mission

Lest you think I would lead a boring empty-nester existence after getting my daughter off to college - then here's proof that I still live a weird, if not exciting, middle-age life.

What did I do last night? On an otherwise mundane weeknight, I left work and met several members of the Retreat Search Committee from my Guild. Our assignment was to drive about an hour or so out of town to tour a possible site (hotel) for our Spring 2011 Knitter's Retreat. For the mission, Teri offered to drive her van with the rest of us riding shotgun - and during the drive out there, we continually argued with the misguided GPS.

Ironically enough, I was the one who was so excited to find this place on the Internet. On the Internet it looked perfect for our needs. Or so I thought.

What I learned from our outing last night:

Potential retreat sites, like potential dating partners, can appear better on the Internet than in person.

When you are starving and don't eat dinner until 10:00 at night, you start craving carbs and waffles start tasting really really good.

The aforementioned waffle house, late on a Tuesday night, has some interesting characters, some of whom offer to pay their bill in chickens.

Becoming a little tired and punchy, those of us trekking home begin reciting nursery rhymes, "To market, to market to buy a fat pig, home again, home again, jiggidy jig."

You can, with modern technology, be in such a panic to find other alternative retreat sites that you begin googling them on an iphone in a dark van.