Saturday, September 29, 2007
But today I realized that vairagyam isn't just about me. It's also about detaching oneself from judgement of others, trying to gracefully accept people for who they are. Rather than focusing on my concept of who someone should be, trying instead to notice the person as she or he happens. That's even more difficult than trying to detach from your own desires or expectations. It's like taking a walk away from the movie you wanted to see, going into the theater next door, and allowing yourself to be surprised and okay with whatever movie you end up watching.
Does this mean that I need to retire my All About Me socks?
Friday, September 28, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I'm almost done with the right front, but I'm on hiatus until I hear, hopefully, from Amanda, a knitter/blogger who's finished the sweater and made lots of extremely smart variations on the pattern. Go here to see her beautiful sweater. Perfect fit and sleeve length.
I'm also using the Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL. At $3.49 a ball, I'm tempted to stock up big time. Reminiscent to me of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarns: same sproinginess, similar gauge, easy to work with and good stitch definition. Translation: easy to knit, a bit of a sheen to the yarn, thick enough to have some weight but not too heavy or bulky. There's a Knitalong out there on the Web for this sweater. I tried to email the organizer two times in an effort to join and find some other knitters to quiz as I had questions, but my typing is off these days and I repeatedly mistyped her email address, so I'm soldiering on alone.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Not old scarves, though it would help the rhyme scheme, but green scarves!
It's Alive scarves!
Son of It's Alive scarves: half orange furriness and half loopy multicoloredness.
Plus two purses and a hat and some more, um, scarves!
Thank you, Nikki, and everyone who helped knit the fun and wonderful things in this box. Fourteen more scarves plus the hat and the two purses, and another box that Nikki says she'll be sending to me. Nikki found out about the project from her mom, who lives in Pittsburgh, and told Nikki, who lives in the Chicago area about it, and then Nikki contacted me, and eh voila, more scarves for the women of Housing Opportunities for Women.
I appreciate all the help I've received and l really like seeing all the colors and textures and techniques tossed together in a big pile before I count them. We have about 6 weeks left to collect. Tomorrow or Monday, I'll put together a contest for everyone who has donated and plans to donate. And my husband picked up an overflowing bag of scarves yesterday from the Knitche (yeah team!); more pictures tomorrow, and another Charity Knit Night coming up on October 11th.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Yogah citta vritti nirodah: Yoga is finding a focus and maintaining that focus over time, without distraction. Moreover, it's a focusing of the mind, the vrtti, rather than a physical activity. As a result, the true self emerges from beneath all the stuff that accumulates over time: the expectations, your role in your family or work, how the culture sees you. Tadah drastuh svarupe avasthanam: Then, the real you comes to the surface. Not forever, but at least briefly, so that you begin to have a sense of who you really are and who you are able to be. Kind of like taking a good long exhale after holding your breath.
I called my teacher here, and explained the situation. I emailed to the lead teacher for the program and my mentor in California, explaining the situation as professionally as possible. I also noted my plan for catching up on the information that I would miss. This session is focusing on breathing practices, which I am not versed in. I also sent an email to my study partner, apologizing for leaving him without a colleague and expressing my regret. Last night I told my boss here that I was not going on the trip. None of these were easy to do. And with each one, I was a bit more sad that I had to miss the session.
Here's the good part: everyone has been so supportive. It almost makes me cry to listen to their phone messages or read their email responses. I do feel surrounded by care and concern. I do feel lucky to have found teachers and a boss and friends and colleagues at work who are supportive. I went to a grad school that I call Boot Camp for graduate school: the overriding motivation was to break the student down, to infantalize him or her and leave one with no self-confidence in one's ideas or abilities. So to have found, through studying yoga, a group of folks who miss you when you're not there, who are concerned with your entire collection of stuff instead of just the intellectual, is surprising to me.
On our day off at the last yoga training session, my teacher and another student from Chicago and I went to Muir Woods for the day. It was only two months after my surgery, and while I'm in better shape than many women my age, I don't have much aerobic capacity. We took a trail going up. After an hour, I stopped to rest. We went on, and it was a fast clip set by my friend, who kayaks and hikes and camps while always looking beautiful. I started to flag. My competitive nature told me to keep going, but the smarter part of my brain told me that I should slow down or stop. I listened to the smarter part and told the other two that I was tired, but that they should keep going. I have a book in the car, I said, and I would just go back and read while they finished their hike. It was afternoon, good weather, and a clearly-marked trail close to the visitor's center.
Absolutely not, they said. I'll be fine, I told them. I can find my way down, and if I get tired, I'll just stop and rest.
No, they insisted. No one gets left behind. We're in this together and we're sticking together. Group hug on the trail, and we started down. Much laughter, a conversation about the best way to prep for a colonoscopy (true but sad - conversation of middle-aged women is so different than any other genre), and then to the beach to see the ocean.
No one gets left behind. That's how I feel today. I'm here, they're in Portland, but I'm still a part of the group.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Michael Keaton channeling Tom Waits, the guy with the extremely pin-sized teeny-tiny head in the waiting room to the afterlife, an unrecognizable thin and young Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, the dinner party doing a possessed Calypso to Harry Belafonte. Well, that's more than one, but it's been that kind of week.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
These are from Marcia. Thank you, and a great use of repurposing what we all have in our house. Beautiful, warm, and very Chicago-worthy. As the scarves prove, it's all about people and relationships, and I dropped the ball this weekend with Marcia. (Next time you come to Chicago I will put it on my calendar in giant red letters so that I don't forget and schedule myself to work. ) These are from Jan, a neighbor who moved to Wisconsin a few years ago. The blue one on the left is Branching Out, and the white one on the right is a design called Madison, developed by a local knitter in Wisconsin. The natural-colored yarn comes from her friend's farm.
My latest scarf. A lace design from a pattern bought years ago, knit in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool from Webs.
The box from Nikki. No time to appreciate it this morning. More pictures tomorrow, maybe? Keep knitting, digging through drawers, sending the scarves along. Wouldn't it be amazing if we reached our goal of 300, so that every woman has something special for the Chicago winter right around the corner?
Friday, September 14, 2007
And the other good news is that I've lost count of our scarf total. Nikki is sending me a box of scarves and some felted bags, and then another box of scarves. I noticed today that the bag of scarves at work has a few more donations. And the ladies at Sisterhood are hard at work: 25 more to send me!
At the Knitche, at least 5 more finished, and we had a group of 9 knitters at Charity Knit Night, ranging from a young lady in junior high whose mom dropped her off and picked her up, several regulars, and a colleague from work and me. We're hoping that we didn't scare our youngest member away, as conversation drifted to the new Viggo Mortensen movie and other topics best saved for those of us of a certain age. She didn't look frightened, though, and kept working industriously at her purple scarf.
And I found someone at least as competitive as me. Tina wants to challenge another knitting store, with the winner the store that makes the most scarves. I told her about the sisterhood ladies, and she's ready to tell them to bring it on. But they're nice little old ladies (sorry, Mom, I don't mean you or Aunt Nancy), I told her. That's okay, she said. We don't have to tell them that it's a contest; we can just run our side of it and make sure that we beat them. I somehow signed on for making one of those big thermometer posters (remember United Way in grade school?) to track the competition. Then I noticed that some of the other knitters seemed a bit concerned, so I sent Tina in to reassure them that it wasn't a contest, and whatever people want to make, or not make, was fine with me. But I noticed that, throughout the evening, there was a definite setting of expectations and quotas ("if we each made one scarf a day, we'd have 50 scarves in a week"). And I liked this group, because, like me, most of us couldn't knit and talk at the same time.
Next night up is Thursday, October 11th. You should come, even just for the conversation. We sit around a big table, drink tea or coffee, eat brownies, gab, and knit.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The address is 5150 Main St., Downers Grove, Il., 60515. The phone number is 630-852-5648. The store is open until 9 p.m., and charity knitting starts at about 7 p.m. Here's a link if you're computer-savvy: the Knitche. The owner, Kathy, has been so supportive and has put a great announcement on her home page, so please, come by and support this great local yarn shop that is willing and ready to do something for a community of women in need.
I had an email from Nikki, who's sending me a box of scarves from her knitting group, and then another box from a camp that she participated in. Pictures of some current contributions later, after I do some yoga, write my October schedule, and sit still for a while. Fall in retail is crazy, and yesterday we did a lot of business with just one manager (me!) and 3 associates.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
It doesn't mean being all serene and mellow, just letting the world drift by. And it doesn't mean not caring. What it does include is observing where you are enmeshed, anxious, judgemental, even, and making the choice not to become stressed or angry or overwhelmed by things that you cannot control.
Example, and a mundane one to start. This comes from my teacher. You love chocolate ice cream. You love it more than life itself. You go to your favorite ice cream store for the very best chocolate ice cream in the universe. And go figure, they're out of it. Here's the choice: you can either rage and scream, or internalize the disappointment so that you make the Eeyore move of "poor me," or any of a number of other worked-up responses to the lack of chocolate ice cream. Or, you can acknowledge your disappointment, and without going into a tailspin, choose another flavor, or go home and come back another day for the chocolate. Vairagyam: you can still be sad, but not so agitated that all that you can focus on is the emotional upheaval brought on by the no-chocolate reality.
Another example, this one a bit more complicated. It's your birthday, and once again, your brother or sister or best friend has forgotten it. Hmmm. Here's vairagyam: you observe to yourself that she is forgetful, and that although you never forget her birthday, that she invariably neglects yours. Vairagyam: you could tell her that you are disappointed that she never remembers, that it matters to you, and could you plan now for your birthday next year so that she doesn't forget?
Letting go of the outcome is tough. And taking our responses to life not going our way brings up all the old stuff, the samskara, or patterns, that we have come to adopt like long-lost children. But here's the pay off: being able to move on, being able to take all that energy that went into anger and gossip and recrimination and even, and too often, violence against one another, and turn it toward something more purposeful.
Here's a homework assignment, if you're interested: notice, as you go through today, the mood of those around you. It is September 11th. Are we still stuck in the events of 2001, or have we found a way to take that terrible moment and find something to learn or grow from it? Not to forget, or to erase, but to be observant rather than angry, able to salvage something worthwhile and not endlessly swirl in vengeance or hate.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Two years ago, emergency surgery after no pain. I had to persuade the emergency room doctor to admit me. Luckily, he was a good doctor and listened. Today, high-tech dental machinery reveals that I have a hole in my gum. No pain, no headaches, not hot or cold sensations. A few weeks ago, a feeling like my wisdom tooth was coming in, but they've been gone since 1974 or so. (Yes, I am that old, and my birthday is coming up, again.) Then, no pain, so I canceled my dentist's appointment because of something going on at work. Yesterday, I had some odd symptoms, so I called this morning and managed to get an appointment for 11:30 am.
My very young dentist took a look, took a fancy-shmancy picture and then put it up on the flat screen t.v. to show me the hole. We all marveled, and then he handed me off to the root canal guy. The even younger root canal guy came in (have all dentists suddenly become 19 years old?), took a look, and did some low-tech tests involving spraying something very very cold onto a tiny tiny cotton ball, which he touched to each tooth. He left the room for a while. I cried a bit, because the thing that I dread more than anything is the thought of a root canal. Then he came back, very carefully hedged his bets but said that he didn't think that it was a root canal issue, and passed me along to the oral surgeon guy.
The oral surgeon was also young, but mainly very silly. Like every doctor I've seen in the last two years, he proclaimed that my case was "weird." He suggested that I might be an alien, but I told him that I'd only seen the first two seasons of X-Files so I couldn't comment. Then he sent me for a crazy X-ray involving a camera that pans around your head as you bite down onto a metal fork to keep from moving your head. (I am not kidding.) And, just to build up the suspense, he promised me that because he watches CSI, that he had solved the case and had a theory for the hole, and would reveal it to me after the X-ray. I could hardly wait.
Because all of the above is Too Much Information, I'm not going to tell you the theory, Maybe it's right, maybe not. I'm on an antibiotic, can't do any serious breathwork/pranayama if I manage to make it out of town next week for my next yoga therapy training, and am hoping that I'll heal and won't have to do anything else to remedy this weirdness. I guess the good news is that, if there was a competition for Highest Pain Threshold, I'd be a contender.
Knitting news: beautiful scarves from Jan, a neighbor who has moved to Wisconsin. Both from wool from a farmer who lives near her. Pictures tomorrow, maybe. I think that brings us to 25, and a few more are in the mail. Yeah! I'd like to hit at least 100 scarves to donate to Housing Opportunities for Women. Who's going to join me Thursday night at the Knitche in Downers Grove? Excellent root beer, conversation, yarn, and knitting, perhaps.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
- Footloose, the collector's edition.
- Dinner of tacos and ten different salsas (one with radish and onions and another with cucumber and hot peppers and a really limey green salsa and a very very hot green salsa) and grilled garlic potatoes and vegetarian tacos with cilantro that even I, who abhors cilantro, liked and really good frijoles and horchata at the Taco Grill and Salsa Bar in Westmont. All for 14 bucks. Two guys who came in wearing hats with a deep crown and a short brim and navy-blue pants with stripes on the side and tuxedo shirts. Couldn't be the Foreign Legion, could it?
- Not being at work.
- Two more scarves for the Knitting for Compassion Project. From Jan. Hand spun yarn from a farm near her home in Wisconsin. Hand-dyed, too. Two more from Karri at work. That brings us, unofficially, to 26.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Scarf Number 22!
source: Knitche, Downers Grove, IL
Yarn: Lamb's Pride, worsted weight, from my stash, in pink, rose and lilac; amount used: 3 skeins (1 of each color)
Other supplies: white cotton string or yarn, something with round edges that can be used to make the Shibori reliefs in the fabric ( I purchased a set of various sizes of small wooden balls from the Knitche, which can be used over and over)
Needle: size 9 Addi circular, 24"
Gauge: 16 st and 21 rows to 4" before felting
Size: 9" x 54" before felting, 7" by 54" after felting
Pattern: Cast on 20 stitches. Throughout scarf, do a 2-stitch garter edge on each side of scarf to keep edges from rolling.
Color 1: Odd rows: K2, K16, K2. Even rows: K2, P16, K2. Continue until you've used about one half of your first color.
Color 2: Change to second color by doing 2 rows of knit stitch to create garter stitch border between colors. Continue as with color 1 until you're about halfway done with this color.
Color 3: Change to third color by doing 2 rows of garter stitch. Knit all rows to create garter stitch center. Continue with pattern until color 3 is used up.
Complete scarf by repeating Color 2 section. Lastly, use up Color 1: pattern here is 4 rows of stockinette stitch alternating with 2 rows of garter stitch OR Row1: Knit. Row 2: K2, P16, K2.P2 (repeat these two rows twice). Row 5 and 6: Knit all stitches.
Finishing process: Bind off stitches of last row. Sew in loose ends but leave a 2-3" tail, to be trimmed after felting. Place shapes at random on ends of scarf, placing the shape on the wrong side of scarf, pushing it through to the right side and placing a tight tie of string around"neck" of bump on the right side of the scarf.
Place scarf in lingerie bag. Fill washing machine, at lowest level, with hot water and a small amount of detergent. Add a pair of jeans or a bath towel to aid the felting. Add lingerie bag with scarf. Let wash cycle run for about 5 min. Check scarf. If you want to have a thicker, stiffer scarf, continue the process of washing and checking until you are satisfied. Then, remove scarf from the machine, rinse by HAND (don't let it go through the spin cycle), lay flat to dry. When completely dry, snip carefully at cotton threads, remove shapes, and Tada! a felted Shibori scarf!
If I had it to Do Over Again:
- Next time, I'll use a larger knitting needle. Over the weekend, I saw that my mother was making a beautiful garter-stitch scarf on size 17 needles and moving FAST, and I thought, why am I fussing around on such small needles? Felting can happen with any gauge, and probably, the more open the fabric is, the better it will drape after felting.
- Felt it in the washing machine, but finish it by rinsing it by hand. The spin cycle was the lazy woman's choice, and I was happier with the softness of the scarf before I let it spin out.
- Just to keep yourself awake, you could do this scarf in a simple alternation of stockinette and garter stitch. About 4 rows of stockinette to 2 of garter is about right: not enough texture to distract from the Shibori element, but enough to give your mind something to occupy itself with.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Twelve scarves collected this weekend from the sisterhood of my mother's temple in Pittsburgh. Plus one from Sharon at work. And two from my mom. And two more finished and two almost done by me. And one from Jan. And one from Christine. (Did I forget anyone? Remind me and we'll say a group Tada! for you, too.) That makes 21 scarves so far!
Here's a quick update: I'm helping to collect winter scarves to donate to a non-profit in Chicago that helps women and children transition from the shelter system to more permanent housing. The name of the organization is Housing Opportunities for Women; you can go here to read more about the great work being done by this agency. The scarves are going to be given, not to the moms, but to their kids, so they have at least one present to give for the holidays. Good cause, right?