Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogger Problems Update

All right, then. Apparently if you go to my blog as a visitor, you see all the sidebar content.
But why didn't anyone but Debbie tell me that the typeface is microscopic??
I'm giving myself five minutes to tool with that, and then no more computer for you this morning, missy.

Blogger Problems!

Here's a good example of Blogger acting like a balking appliance.

All that I did was change the title of the book that I'm reading in my Profile sidebar. Fifteen minutes later, I'm still trying to figure out:
  1. why my entire sidebar has disappeared
  2. whether the problem is that I didn't republish the entire blog and the index after making the change
  3. where to go to republish the blog, if I haven't tampered with the template
  4. why the number 6 keeps appearing mysteriously in the top left corner of my blog before it's completely loaded (thought I'd nailed that one after going into the template to investigate the profile/sidebar dilemna, saw the number 6 before the first <>

Enough of this nonsense for now. More coffee, reading the Times from Sunday, knitting a bit.

Eunny Jang Search

I've been checking Eunny Jang's blog for a new post since September. Nothing. And this is a knitter who is so prolific that she's written entry after entry explaining to her loyal readers how the heck she gest so much knitting done.

Does anyone know what's up?

Movable Type and Typepad vs. Blogger

I'm considering moving my blog from Blogger to my own domain. Lots of reasons, including liking the look of blogs made from those systems, glitches in Blogger (though maybe that's true for all technical systems like this - I've learned the hard way that computers are more like washing machines than Perfect Machines), and frustration with trying to get some of what should be doable to work.

Can anyone point me to a source that compares the best blogging tool (e.g Blogger vs. Movable Type vs. Typepad)? Any other suggestions?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Teela Filter and Vata Teas

Treated myself to two new toys yesterday at the TeaGschwender store.

A small filter for brewing loose tea right in the cup.

And a selection of spicy teas, supposed to help ground you and counteract the windy, cold, dry air of fall. Lots of cinnamon, coriander, cardamon, orange and lemon peel, and licorice.


Hmm. Concentrate?

The "then there's a sliponestitchsifknittingknittwotogetherpasstheslippedstitchovertheknitttwotogether (abbreviated as ssk for obvious reasons" of last night's post isn't an ssk, it's an sk2p.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Swallowtail Shawl progress

Clearly, the trick is to concentrate. It's always good to reinvent the wheel, I say.

Yesterday, I had some time in between arriving at work and going into the store in the morning. I sat in my car and just studied the last row in the Swallowtail shawl. I noticed that as you start each repeat of the pattern, everything shifts to the left. Now the center stitch of the pattern falls in the middle of what was not pattern in the last repeat.

And there's a logic to the pattern. Each repeat of the pattern across the row has four stitches that do things: the first two stitches are knit together, the center stitch of the five-stitch portion is a plain knit stitch, then there's a slipknittwotogetherpassthe slipped stitchover (abbreviated as ssk for obvious reasons), and a plain knit stitch that ends the repeat. It also has two stitches that go along for the ride, stitches that create the openings that turn the knitted fabric into lace. These yarnovers (made by wrapping the yarn over the needle . . .) bracket the center stitch and are like placemarkers that remind me that I'm halfway through the repeat.

I didn't try to knit yet. I just sat and looked at the row. Then I made my way from right to left, checking that I'd gotten all six stitches into each repeat and that stitches were where they were supposed to be.

And I discovered I'd skipped a stitch. As reward, I let myself do the next row, which is the relax-and-look-up-occasionally-at-the-world row of purling back to the beginning.

Then, very proud, I concentrated. I made it across the row without incident. I even caught the mistake and corrected it. It's just a little thing. But can I say that I'm proud?

Honestly, I just noticed that I'd already said it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Row 3 in the Swallowtail Shawl

There's something strange going on everytime I work Row 3 of the Swallowtail Shawl. I even checked the Interweave Knits website, googled Swallowtail Shawl errata, Swallowtail Shawl correction, and nada. It must be me.

Row 1 goes smoothly. Except for the part right before the center stitch, when I forget that I'm supposed to knit a stitch after the slipslipknit and before the two stitches and the yarnover that ends the first part of the row. Finally caught that one after six or so repeats. Row 2: smooth sailing. Two knit stitches, purl all the way across, two more knit stitches. Ahh.

Then the evil third row. Right about then, I'm thinking, I've got this licked. I'm a knitter. I'm a knitter of lace! I will finish the shawls for my staff sometime before 2009. I start to daydream, and then about midway through the first half of the row, I realize that I've done Something Wrong. (I'm not the only one either!) And I try to study my stitches, as taught by my teacher, who is a master knitter of lace (unfortunately, all I can remember from her explanation of the difference between lace knitting and knitting lace is that there is a difference) and rightly instructed the class to learn to "read" your stitches. The idea being that, as you work each row, you're inspecting your work on the previous row, catching those pesky mistakes before you find yourself as lost as, well, I'm not sure what, but something politically acceptable.

But here I am again. Something is amiss. Unfortunately, I'm not yet a good enough knitter to do much beside rip back until I find the mistake. Therein lies another challenge. This is very sticky yarn. Beautiful, yes, and soft, and silky. A wonderful shade of brown, with undertones of pink and cream. But built in such a way that it grabs on to neighboring threads. You can see the halo of tiny, velcro-like threads in this picture.

Not since I tried to knit a mohair sweater has a yarn been so unrippable. That was early in my knitting efforts. A great, simple pattern; a peacock blue shade of yarn. I didn't know that beginners should not go anywhere near mohair. Imagine trying to pry apart the jaws of an alligator. And I'm not being overly dramatic. Somewhere along the way, I threw the whole project in the garbage can. I didn't know from having a stash at that point, and I just wanted it gone.

One thing I have learned from this yarn: the Bryspun needle is much, much better than bamboo circulars. Someone at my FYS suggested it when I asked for something with a more flexible wire than the stiff plastic on the bamboo circulars, but with a needle that would grip the yarn more than a metal tip. Great tools are everything. This has a smooth join, a just flexible enough cord, has a surface that's a little resistant and a little bit slippery, and warms in your hand as you work with it.

I plan to persevere with Swallowtail. I promise not to knit Row 3 while watching "Survivor," nor after driving home in a rainstorm and killing time at Trader Joe's while waiting for my take-out from the local Thai restaurant to be ready. Time to put the knitting away for the night, drink some tea, and read. Here's my solace for my Row 3 debacle.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Knitting and meditation

Lace knitting is very much like meditation.

As you work the pattern, concentrating on when to make a yarnover, when to knit three, when to slipslipknit and when to knit two together, the mind wanders. In yoga, we often refer to this as chitta: the chattering that often occupies the mind. Thinking about your errands while you sit in a business meeting, daydreaming while you drive down the expressway, having an opinion about the shoes on the person sitting across from you on the train. All those extraneous thoughts that busy the mind throughout its day.

Along with this chatter comes judgement, for most of us. And most often this judgement finds us wanting. We tell ourselves that we're not fast enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough. Last week, Robert Birnberg, a teacher from Los Angeles who led a workshop on the Yoga Sutras at the studio wehre I teach, remarked that everyone in yoga class is an overachiever who thinks that he's lazy. I think that goes for just about everyone, everywhere. At least in our American, make it bigger, make it better, culture.

But notice, as you knit, or garden, or walk, how often your mind wanders away from the task to think about something that you did not do as well as you wanted to. Notice how often, even as you knit or dig or walk, your mind isn't where you are at that moment, but off in the clouds, thinking about something that you did yesterday or something that you need to do today.

And when that happens, let yourself notice. But, just as I tell my students when we sit quietly at the beginning of yoga class, don't judge or reprimand yourself. Just try to bring yourself back to whatever you are doing. And try to stay with that until the next time that you notice that you've started thinking about the floor that needs to be washed or the friend that you need to call. Then bring yourself back again.

Stick with the sensory stuff: the sound of the water running through the pipes in the kitchen, people talking in a backyard that you're walking past, the colors of the leaves in the trees, the play of sunlight across the floor in the morning. And again, try to notice what's going on right now, right here.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in A Miracle of Mindfulness, talks about washing the dishes just to wash the dishes. Not to get the job done, or the kitchen cleaned up, or to get it over with so that you can collapse onto the couch to watch tv. It's great advice.

Try sometime today to do just what you're doing. Much harder than it sounds. But just like a runner training for a marathon, it's all about showing up.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday afternoon

It is awfully nice to spend Sunday afternoon knitting several repeats of the Swallowtail Shawl, having the first fire in the fireplace of the fall, and taking a long nap.

a technical question

So, I keep reading about something called permalinks. But my anti-analytical brain doesn't want to grasp the concept.

Can anyone (Becky??) explain? I think we've tried this before, but I need a remedial course.

And second, how do I use permalinks to link search engine hits to specifc posts, rather than linking back to the current post? I've rumbled around Blogger Help looking for advice, but everyone is speaking a foreign lanaguage and apparently I need this expressed in small, manageable words. . .

In one piece of help, the blogger said that she uses this code in her template headers:
Can I say "huh"? and hope that someone out there can unpack this for me? Unpack is academic speak for huh, by the way.

the cucumber and orange salad recipe

The key here is good olive oil. We buy Colavito at Nature's Best in a giant gallon can, and then pour it into a smaller bottle for use. It's a deep green and not too expensive.

To be honest, I didn't even know about olive oil until I met my husband. Until then, I thought all salad dressing came ready-made in the bottle, either bright orange French or maybe that Italian kind where you have the special bottle and add the oil (not olive oil) and water up to the line, add the seasoning packet, and shake.

Here's the recipe:
Pour about 2 T. of olive oil into a bowl. A salad bowl is nice, but not required. Add some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Moosh it all around with the salad server. (Moosh is a very technical culinary term.)
Peel the cucumber. Cut in half and scoop seeds out with a spoon. Slice on the diagonal into slices about 1/4" wide. Throw those into the salad bowl.
Peel the orange. Naval is best because no seeds to deal with. Other wise, remove the seeds. Slice the orange into discs about 1/2" wide and then slice each disc into 3 or 4 pieces. Throw into bowl with cucumbers.

Toss. Add more oil if necessary - you want just enough so that the veggies glisten but aren't swimming. Add either some orange juice or fresh lemon juice (the first will be sweeter, the second more refreshing and sharp).

After serving whichever poor souls who don't know the wonder of roasted beets, you can add some sliced beets that have been roasted in the oven for about 40 min. in a packet of foil, with a little olive oil. Be careful not to spill the beet juice or touch anything with your very pink fingers, or you'll have a happy stain wherever you touched. You can also get fancy orange or golden beets, and then no staining problems to deal with.

One of my daughters spent some time in Cyprus. She called one day and said that anything made with olive oil and lemon juice is wonderful. Probably even cardboard would taste good in this salad, though I don't recommend it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Flower Poll

Here's where progress stands at this point:

Two large flowers in background, small flower in front.

Two very large flowers. But nicely fuzzy, due to the mohair in the Lamb's Pride worsted and Malabrigo in my stash. And good symmetry: not too exact, but not too lopsided. Good color interest, because I combined a strand of the variegated Malabrigo with the pale pink Lamb's Pride.

Small flower posing on purse.

One smaller flower. Knit entirely with a pale pink Cascade 220 and a center bobble of maroon Lamb's Pride. A better size, but maybe still not small enough? And not as lush or fuzzy as the first flowers. A bit off center, as though it was blown sideways in a rainstorm. But more in scale with the purse. Color a bit blah. The original Noni pattern calls for knitting a strand of the pink Cascade with mohair, but I had no mohair in the stash. And even though it's smaller, I wanted to put a few flowers on the purse, kind of clustered together, and this size seems still too big to do more than one flower?

This part of completing the purse is starting to drag on too long. Who thought felted flowers, where gauge doesn't matter and you throw them in the washing machine and stand back until they are thick enough and the right size, would be so detail-oriented? And I am not a detail-oriented person.

Perfectionism and felting are not a good combination.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

while the latest flower is felting

Here's a link to lots and lots of flower patterns. My husband says I should be googling "tiny flower patterns." No time now. Spaghetti carbonara, a salad of cucumbers and oranges. I'm adding roasted beets to mine, and also eating the brussel sprouts that he spurns.

The Cupcake Rose

Here is try number two at making a somewhat closer to normal sized flower for the Clare bag. Still unfelted. Not even put together at this point, but photographed with some common, household objects so that you can get a sense of scale. It should be smaller after felting.

Of course, that's what I was counting on with the first set of dinner-plate sized flowers. This isn't a cupcake, but a side shot of my felted rose sitting beside the Altoid box and in front of the laundry basket.

Perspective may be playing a bit here, I'll admit, because it's not actually as big as the basket. It just feels that way.

However, this guy has a destiny. I'm going to use the oversized flowers for my project for Knit the Classics this month. The book is Gulliver's Travels. I'm going to try to combine the Brobdingian and Lilliputian themes: the chapters in which Gulliver is much, much larger than the townspeople and the part in which he is much, much smaller. If you haven't read the book, you must have memories of the 50s movie version, in which Gulliver, a fine strapping young man, is laced to the ground by a horde of tiny Lilliputians, and the part in which he runs along the top of a table and tries to escape by rapelling off the edge with a piece of thread. (Or was that a Star Trek episode?)

My plan is to play with scale in the project. Now, how small a sweater would a Lilliputian wear? And does it matter if you can't see the sweater behind the flower decorating it?

how to post a picture with words

The next posts can either be read from top to bottom, which would be working backward as I explain how to move pictures around a Blogger post and add captions and texts, courtesy of help from The Real Blogger Status.

Or, skip down to step 1, and read upwards. That will make more sense. And you can pretend that you are in a parallel universe, which is always a good antidote to reading the headlines in the morning newspaper or watching "The Batchelor in Rome."

Yes, I admit that I was disappointed at it's being pre-empted for football on Monday night. Raise your hand if you went to sleep thinking that the Bears had been crushed to nothingness by the Cardinals. Will miracles never cease? And a coach named Lovey? Everything is yoga.

how to post a picture with words, step 3

Okay, so this is where it gets dicey, and I find myself falling into the black hole of HTML. I know that's the case when: 1. I suddenly realize that I've been working on the same problem for over an hour 2. I suddenly realize that I'm about to be late for whatever appointment I thought I could squeeze some fooling around on the computer before 3. I suddenly realize that I have this stiffness in my shoulders and at the back of my neck from sitting, staring, and trying to rope this @#** HTML into shape.

What we have so far: success at getting the picture beneath some words. Failure at getting the caption underneath the picture. Instead, like Blogger's normally irritating habit, the words are snaking around the picture until they have room to bloom into a normal paragraph. I'm guessing that I'm missing a bit of code to flush the caption to the left side of the page.

Oh, was that coincedence?? As I was typing that surmise, the sun came out and hit the right side of my shoulder and the keyboard. Natural lightbulb going on, perhaps?

Let's try again:

All right, then. First go around is to get the picture into the post, with words (also known as a caption) beneath it. It's an opportunity for descriptive discourse or snarky commentary or glowing pride.

Here goes. Picture first. Then the caption.

The Perfect Bag for my older daughter: fantasy writer, zombie fan, and style setter.

how to post a picture with words, step 2

All right, then. First go around is to get the picture into the post, with words (also known as a caption) beneath it. It's an opportunity for descriptive discourse or snarky commentary or glowing pride.

Here goes. Picture first. Then the caption.

I'm thinking that this would be the Perfect Bag for my older daughter: fantasy writer, zombie fan, and style setter.

how to post a picture with words, step 1 1/2

Between the final post, where hopefully picture and text will meet, is an invisible, step 1 1/2.

I created a new post, where I uploaded the same picture of the Skull and Crossbones bag that is in Step 1. But this time, I clicked on Edit HTML (it's a tab at the top right hand corner of the Posting page) and copied the entire code. I highlighted everything from beginning to end. You can see where it starts by the letter a, preceded at the start and followed at the end with a < or >.

Next, I saved the post to draft status. You can't see this step: the point here is to be able to capture the code, but not to include this nothing-but-the-picture post in your blog.

Keep your fingers crossed for Step 2 to work!

how to post a picture with words, step 1

Okay, today's experiment is going to be an effort to post pictures with texts in between. I have beside me the tutorial from The Real Blogger Status, a copy of my original HTML template, and the template that is up on my blog at the moment. (Printed these twice after running out of paper, mixing the templates together, and deciding that life is too short to sort them out. Sorry, redwood tree that I scarificed to the paper companies.)

First up, the picture.

It's from Pyschobunny's blog. But I saved the picture to My Documents first. The point here is not to link back to someone else's blog or post: that takes bandwidth (which is how images are stored, and there's only a finite amount) and money (I'm fuzzy on this concept but perhaps someone can explain this in a comment?)

What we have so far: the image embedded in a post. I'll publish this version, then save it again with only the image, and that version gets saved only as a Draft.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Patience rests on trust.

Monday, October 16, 2006

plan B

It's time to have a plan B in place for the commute. Tonight it was raining steadily as I headed home. One hour and 15 minutes later at my doorstep.

My worst commute was on a snowy night last winter. I headed out at about 7 pm. Three hours later, and very appreciative of my car's four-wheel drive as I watched cars spinning and churning, I reached home. I do not want to do that ever again.

I need to find a nice little motel, where I can make a standing reservation, hole up for the evening, watch cable TV, and then drive home the next morning without traffic and weather to contend with.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday morning yoga

Traffic in and out of my yoga classes has as little logic as traffic in and out of Chicago on the Eisenhower.

Last week, four of my regular students, and a slow, meditative, yin class with lots of hip openers and some pranayama to warm ourselves up. I teach first thing in the morning, and the studio was 55 degrees when I came in.

This week, a big class full of students who either had never been to our studio or had not been back in a long time. A lovely class, lots of laughter, a nod toward sequencing the poses by returning periodically to poses that involved spinal twists. Long holds in each pose. Time for the class to stop, occasionally, and just feel how they feel. More difficult than it sounds.

When is the last time most of us just stood still, sat still, without an activity to keep us busy? Sometimes when you stop, you can hear things that otherwise go unnoticed. The wind in the trees, the crickets humming at the end of autumn, the sound of your breath, the sound of what you truly feel and think. It doesn't have to be a great revelation. Sometimes what you can hear is the simplest wish: for a good cup of coffee, or someone to do the wash besides you, or a better way to organize a drawer. If bigger thoughts come, all right. But to be mindful of the little things is a very good beginning and a very good place to rest.

A long savasana, with Barber's "Adagio for Strings" playing in the background.

feed me, give me to eat

Here my Audrey-sized flowers, before and after felting. You know, Audrey, from "The Little Shop of Horrors," who keeps growing and growing, until she becomes a man-eating cannabalistic, singing, dancing horror?

Okay, these are just knitted flowers. But aren't they grotesquely big?

On the other hand, the purse part is just right, to echo another fairy tale about scary girl characters.

I'm going to knit some new, more reasonably sized flowers from the Wooly Embellishments pattern by Two Old Bags. These monsters will find a home, eventually. Maybe on a very large tote that needs some embellishment?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Skull and Crossbones

Go here to see the perfect Halloween handbag. Thanks to Psychobunny, who made it in red and black; I found it first on her blog.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Banned Book Week

In honor of Banned Book Week, I started reading Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The writing, especially the descriptions of landscape, are amazing.

"To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahomas, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth." First line. Always a good test for what's to follow.

It's monumental and funny and sweeping and personal and American in many different ways.

Go here to take a look at what's been banned and what's being fought over in 2006, and perhaps to choose a banned book to read this fall. They come in all shapes and varieties, just like Americans.

I chose Grapes of Wrath because I wanted something long and loved Travels with Charley (a book Steinbeck wrote toward the end of his career about traveling America with his dog Charley) when I read it in high school. Your choice might be short or long, serious or funny: something that's right for you. Anyone who reads the Captain Underpants stories gets special honors!

And though my readers are a quiet bunch, I'd love to hear what you're reading. Just send me an email or post a comment with the name of the book, and anything else you want to add.

soup weather

Turned very cold last night and woke up to snow. Yes, snow.

I wasn't sure it was real when I looked out the window. The night before I'd dreamt that it had snowed and that when I looked outside, people were shoveling driveways and sidewalks. In my dream, I thought, it can't be that snowy already. So when I looked out the bathroom window this morning and saw snow coming down, laying on the grass, resting on the tree branches, I thought, for a moment, that I was dreaming.

It's soup weather. Making spiced lentil soup and cornbread for dinner.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

progress on the Clare bag

Here's a giant flower for the Clare bag, waiting to be felted. Accomplished during a marathon of "Veronica Mars," season two.

Friendly weavers

This is a jacket that I made about 25 years ago for my older daughter. I wove the material, cut the pattern, and sewed it on the sewing machine. Chinese frogs for closers and a silver satin lining.

I remembered it for the first time in a long time when I went to a weavers' guild meeting today. I was walking down the hall of the library, on my way to my car, when I saw a sign that said "Illinois Prairie Weavers" and heard women laughing. Even though I'd intended to do nothing today, I ended up wandering in. And because there is something very welcoming about women who make things, I, usually shy of being a stranger in a group, ended up staying for the meeting and a lecture by Daryl Lancaster from Handwoven Magazine.

Sometimes I'm convinced that everything is yoga.

Lancaster talked about focusing on the process, not the product: how, if you set out with one goal, you'll fail to see any other possibilities that might be out there; how she weaves when she feels like weaving and sews when she feels like sewing and writes when she feels like writing, or, in other words, follows her intuition, instead of some sort of rigid schedule of How and When to do things.

This might not sound revolutionary to a knitter, or even to most weavers, but when Lancaster starts a project on her loom, she doesn't have a set idea of what she's going to make. Instead, she weaves fabric, yardage that she places on a shelf. The fabric sits there until the day when she finds a pattern that is right for it. The best example was this coat, called Evolution: the lining is a piece of fabric that she made years ago in a class for her fine arts degree. Lancaster dissed the polyester fabric she'd chosen and the funky silk-screen design of two-headed fantastical monsters. But it works perfectly with this pale green and bronze twill pattern; it was just waiting for the right home.

Lancaster reminded me a lot of listening to Sally Melville talk about creativity. She also talks about listening to the material, letting the sweater become what it was meant to be.

My favorite comment by Lancaster: the more body surface that we have, the more opportunity to embellish. She is so glass-is-half-full that she presents her experience of having breast cancer as a chance for new hair, new wardrobe, new body parts. Many of us, she said, have more than one body in a lifetime. We have the first body from before we were sick and the second body from afterwards. But it is just as important to love this new body as it was to love the old.

And this was the most yoga-part of all, because just the other night I was listening to Matthew Sanford, a yoga teacher who is a paraplegic, say the very same thing while being interviewed on Speaking of Faith.

Lancaster passed lots and lots of swatches and garments and patterns around, because weavers, she said, are touchy-feely people and like lots of hands-on examples. And each time that I took a swatch or jacket to look at, I forgot which direction it was supposed to go next. Listening to Lancaster, taking in all the color, touching the fabrics, I kept handing the stuff to the guy in front of me, who would smile, then point out that he'd already seen whatever it was. After a while he just took the piece from me, and then sent it towards its proper path through the room.

I'm drunk with color, I told him. He smiled again, clearly understanding how this can happen to someone who likes to play with fiber and yarns.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

a reflection on being a teacher

The best thing that I learned at the yoga workshop I went to on Saturday is that I'm not alone in the way that I teach.
I'd been feeling that I'd been stuck in a certain kind of box: seen as a easy teacher, someone who couldn't cut the challenge of teaching more difficult poses or a more rigorous class. But the teacher who led the workshop reminded me of me. He is a quiet teacher. Before the workshop, he sat on the couch, worked on his preparation, and made a small amount of small talk while waiting to go into the studio. His class focused on accessible poses, instead of grandstanding gestures; moved studiously from pose to pose, instead of rushing through each movement to get to the next; and introduced some new ideas and new practices, without excluding students who were unfamiliar with the breath practice or a philosophical concept being addressed. No fireworks. Just slow and steady, grounding, peaceful, and aware.
It's not that I'm comparing my classes to his teaching. More that it reassured me that offering students some moments of silence; some working into the body in order to open the mind; some warmth, emotional as well as physical; some laughter; and some new ideas can be very significant.
I know that I came home from the workshop feeling calmer, more settled, more relaxed than I had in several days. I felt as though a small furnace had been turned on inside of me.
Also, I felt very lucky to be a yoga teacher, hoping that occasionally I leave my students with the same grace and peacefulness that this teacher offered to his students.

Friday, October 06, 2006

fresh baked bread

all buttoned up

Ta da!
A button in under ten minutes flat to go with my Midwest Knitters blog ring. Check it out in its proper home in the sidebar.

A Concert to Recommend in Chicago

There was an amazing concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last night.
An Estonian conductor named Paavo Järvi, a German baritone named Matthias Goerne, and a program of Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 (you can hear a clip of the orchestra playing the piece here) .

I recite this as though I know the music. But, in fact, I know very little about classical music history or styles or musicians. On the way in to the city, I drove and my husband read the liner notes for the concert aloud. Now this may sound incredibly pedantic and dull. But no, not at all. Very well written, nicely read, and how could one not be amused at the number of times the program annotator managed to work in the phrase "dass k-naaben vuunderhoorn" into the piece? Then, the Shostokovich review, which offered up details about Josef Stalin, the music on his turntable when he died (Mozart, not Shostokovich), intramarital affairs, and using musical notes to "spell" your lover's name out in a piece of music.

We sat way up in the lower balcony, in seats that seem to tip forward and want to spill you out on the row below. Not too much rustling or coughing, aside from a gentleman in the upper right balcony who sounded like he'd just escaped from The Magic Mountain. And the music was incredible. The Mahler song cycle, sung in German, was fluid and humorous at times, warlike and mournful in other songs. The Shostokovich symphony, even more amazing. The first movement is vibrant and insistent and loud. The second movement is so fast and bright that it seems impossible that the musicians could be moving so quickly and producing such beautiful sound.

And so it went. Unlike other concerts I've attended, I found myself focused on the music and the interactions of the conductor and musicians. And swept away for a few moments into the intricacy of the symphony. At the end, the audience clapped and clapped, and shouted Bravo for each soloist as he or she stood for recognition. It wasn't an effort to mine an encore: it was an audience truly responding to the art that had been achieved.

To make music seems such a difficult feat. To write a symphony that puts together so many instruments and sounds into a flowing beautiful whole: seemingly impossible.

And if you don't live near Chicago or can't get tickets, you can listen to the Mahler songs (say it with me: "dass k-naaben vuunderhooorn") on a recording with Anne Sofie Von Otter, Thomas Quastoff and the Berliner Philharmoniker. You won't be able to observe the Chicago orchestra - how chatty everyone is with one another when they are warming up, the animated conversation between two violinists about a large envelope that he's pulled out of his breast pocket, the angry violinst sitting in front of the harp not making eye contact with anyone, the number of times that the brass instrument musicians empty their spit valves - but the recording did receive a Grammy.

We do what we can, right?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So close, and yet

All right. Consulted Blogger Help and an incredibly helpful blog called The Real Blogger Status, which has everything you'd ever need to unveil the mysteries of HTML.

Really close now. Got the picture inserted into the title box, but no clue why it's so dinky.

Now I really am walking away.

30 minutes later

Yeah. I'm making headway.

I studied Mostly Knitting (now The Shiz-nit)'s template, which Frances was kind enough to send me the last time that I was trying to redesign my blog template. And I discovered that you need to insert the code like this: background: url (" the URL location goes here - and that you get by going to Edit HTML in Edit posts, and then Control C to copy, then Control V to paste"). Got that?

The result so far: I managed to insert the Shetland Triangle detail behind the entire blog. Pretty, but fairly unreadable.

The work continues. Now if I can only figure out where the location of the background box is in the template code, I'll have training wheels off and be riding on my own.

What can I say?

Well, there's 45 minutes that I'll never get back.

I've been playing with the template and the colors and trying, trying, trying to post a picture behind the title block. What I had in mind: a lovely detail of the Shetland Triangle Shawl. What I produced: suddenly, an entirely different blog, type face, centered: it looked like one of those cheap government documents that you get at the state driver's license bureau.

It's not so much the need to have the picture there. It's the aggravation of trying to learn a new language, a new process, with only the input of more, rather than less, computerese. I thought I had it down, had actually discovered that by going to Edit HTML on the Edit Post page, that I could find the code for the picture on that page.

But evil Profile page refused to accept it. Multiple red messages that claimed, once I copied the code into the right box for Upload Image, that the link was broken or the code exceeded the 68-character length.

The lesson here is: walk away from the computer. But I hate to give up. I'm so close. It'll only take another 3 or 4 hours to beat the HTML system into submission, right?


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

a work in progress

Time to get ready for work. It's amazing how much time you, I mean I, can spend fiddling around with something as incidental as the color and typeface of a blog font.
Work in progress and happy to accept any or all feedback on the current look of the blog. I'm going for a pale, pale blue background, almost white, but haven't found the right code yet. And with no time left to fidget, I have green, dark purple and rose in my various typefaces. Do you think it's too busy? Do you prefer a white background so that it's easier to see the words?
Like so much else, decisions and more decisions, and a learning curve before you, I mean I, get to a place where I know what I'm doing.
Another tech question: how do you change the typeface in the Blogger template? Each line about fonts lists various types. Can I choose one not listed? How do I tell my template to go to that font?
Not suprisingly, no reading or knitting done this morning. I went to yoga, only to be confronted with a restorative class. Yes, I know they're good for you. But I am a doer, according to the psychological stuff presented at a recent meeting I attended. (Honest admission: I did not join the doer group because they were creating a lot of friction by criticizing the people group for spending too much time fraternizing and not enough time getting stuff done, so I joined the process group, which was mellow and laughed a lot more.) My ability to lie still, in a relaxing position, and not fuss for an activity, is very small. But that's much the point of yoga: to put you in a place where you are not necessarily in your comfort zone, perhaps physically (a class that's too difficult) or mentally (a class that is contradictory to your usual habits, such as me trying to rest into a pose).
After wrestling back and forth, trying to find one of the poses, which involved lying on a bolster, placing your feet against the wall, and raising the chest, I asked my teacher for help. I don't feel like I'm doing anything, I explained. That's the point, he replied. But I'm a doer. But you are doing something: you're resting, the blood is pooling in your chest area, and there is something going on.

Tech question

I'm playing with the template and want to add an image behind the title background box. Can I just use the image from MyDocs? Or do I need to place it on some sort of Internet picture system? If so, any recommendations? The only one I've seen is Flickr and I don't have a Yahoo account.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I love felting

I've been looking for a purse to knit, and this called my name when I saw the pattern at the yarn shop. Fun colors, not too big or too little, and a chance to play with learning to felt flowers.
I went home without the pattern, but then kept thinking that it seemed just right. That's how I knew I'd made a good choice. Just like I tell my customers, if you go home and think about something that you didn't buy, you know that it's something that you will love. So I went back about a week ago, bought the pattern and some Cascade 220 in a heathery green and a chocolate brown. And the amazing lime-green handles I showed in an entry that weekend.

Fall is a good time to make something wool. This works up really fast. And you can knit it while you watch t.v., even the 2-hour premiere of "The Batchelor, in Rome." Yes, I admit that I watched it. I declared my wish to watch something mindless and that I didn't want to get any grief about it, and this show definitely answered the call. My favorite part: clip after clip of a 20ish-aged woman claiming that it's every young girl's dream to be a princess someday. Hmm, not the young women I know.

I'm hoping to finish this and then use it as my first project for Knit the Classics. Each month the group reads a book and then make something fiberish inspired by the reading. This month's book was The Time-traveler's Wife. Just what I was looking for: something long, well-written, and comforting. I'm thinking that my triangle baguette might be the sort of bag that Clare, an artist and a paper-maker and sculptor, would carry around Chicago. Next month is Gulliver's Travels. Last read by me in graduate school. I was thinking of knitting a tiny pair of trousers and shirt for the Lilliputians. If enough of us have the same thought, maybe we could outfit a corps of tiny people.

Monday, October 02, 2006

poncho with ribbon

Oh, so pretty with the handdyed silk ribbon that I had to take another picture.

And see the way that the desk looks? It is a direct reflection of the state of my brain today.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Something to recommend listening to

A yoga student of mine told me about a doctor, named Rachel Naomi Remen, who is doing work that brings together medicine, narrative, story, and compassion.

An interview with Remin is here. You can podcast it, or listen to it on your computer. I highly recommend it. For all of us who have wondered if there is any logic to the universe, Remin begins to make sense of the way in which we connect and make meaning through and by the stories that we hear, and the stories that we tell.

The interview is titled "Listening Generously." The program, Speaking of Faith, is not so much about religion. Rather, the host, Krista Tippett, uses topics connected to religion - Muslim thinkers, writers such as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy, or a physician who explains the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or repairing the world - as a vehicle to examine the values that can, but needn't always, be linked to religion: ethics, compassion, caring for the needy, finding meaning in chaos, doing the right thing, asking questions.

Easy Lace Poncho

Done. Not so shabby. I'm thinking of threading a pink silk ribbon through the neckline, in case the size Medium is a bit roomy for the kindergartener this is going to. But today is about relaxing, and the photo was taken before I rode my bike over to the yarn store to get the ribbon. You can imagine the effect, right?

Project: Easy Lace Poncho, Fiber Trends
Designer: Bev Galeskas
Size: Child's Medium
Yarn: Malabrigo, Shocking Pink, from the Yarnery, St. Paul
Amount used: about 1 and 1/2 skeins, or approximately 300 yards
Needle: size 10.5 Inox circular, 24" and size 7 straight needles for neckline
Size before blocking: 22" wide by 13.5 " long
Size after blocking: 23" wide by 15" long