Friday, January 30, 2009

King Lear

"Fortune, good-night: smile once more; turn thy wheel! "
Kent in King Lear, II.ii.
Barack Obama, in.
Rod Blagojevich, out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


My dog is on a play date with the American Bulldog across the street.

It's a pretty even match, though Parker was doing some interesting wrestling moves when they played yesterday, involving reaching his head under the other dog's belly to grab his back leg in his (Parker's) mouth. Much gnashing of teeth and growling and tossing one another over sideways. They went outside for a while, got cold and came in, went out again, came in. Are dogs any different than your average little boy?

I'm working on putting together a website and finding a space to occasionally rent for yoga therapy sessions. I'm looking for space in an existing practice, medical or yoga or some sort of healing venture, or in a public building, a church or temple, that would feel welcoming. I don't need much space: just enough for a small table, two chairs, a yoga mat, and a ceiling high enough that taller students will be able to bring their hands over their heads without grazing a knuckle.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I've been thinking lately about light.
Light at the center of so many rituals and celebrations: Hanukkah, Christmas, Ramadan, and many others. Including lovely Diwali, which was held during our last week in Chennai. Small oil lamps in front of each door, set out on the tops of walls and windows, gathered in groups inside houses that you can peak into as you walk by. And firecrackers - set off in that universal practice of boys, large and small, lighting them in the streets and then racing out of range to hear the pop and see the flash.

In my house, I've strung white lights along the tops of the windows in the dining room and living room. On very cold, grey days, it surprises me each time that I walk through the room to see these magical lights. Not Christmas lights, but winter lights. Several years ago, I wrapped them around the Adirondack chairs in the backyard. At the darkest time of the year, it was good to look out and see the light.

Today, there was still some light in the sky as I walked to the car after teaching a class at 4 o'clock. Two weeks ago, it was pitch dark at that time. I was so pleased that I pointed it out to the man going through the door ahead of me.

This quote about light fell out of one of my yoga books when I was moving them into the dining room as I set up a space for seeing yoga therapy students from home. It came in an email from my younger daughter all the way back in 2004. The subject line was "torch-bearers"; the quotation is attributed to Plato:

The souls of people, on their way to Earth-life, pass through a room full of lights; each takes a taper - often only a spark - to guide it in the dim country of this world. But some souls, by rare fortune, are detained longer - have time to grasp a handful of tapers, which they weave into a torch. These are the torch-bearers of humanity - its poets, seers and saints, who lead and lift the race out of darkness, toward the light. They are the law-givers and saviours, the light-bringers, way-showers and truth-tellers, and without them, humanity would lose its way in the dark.

Pretty nice, huh? I especially like that we all have the same light, and that it's only by virtue of chance (they happen to have time to grasp a few more candles) and by art (weaving a torch sounds pretty impressive) that torch-bearers are a bit different from the rest of us.
Yoga contends that we all have a light within our heart, an inner sun that some might call the self and some might call a soul and some might like to leave it unnamed and some are unsure that it exists. Through the practice of yoga, which is the act of focusing the mind and maintaining that focus over time (yogah citta vrtti nirodah, Sutra I.2 in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras)so that agitation decreases and understanding improves (hmm, knitters, riders, writers, gardeners, does this sound familiar?), we clean the smudges and dust and dirt off of the glass so that the light can shine through.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunny Fez Hat

This is the best hat, hands down.
Pattern: Sunny Fez Hat
Designer: Kristin Nicholas
Source: FolkStyle, ed. Mags Kandis
Yarn: Malabrigo in four different colors (Frank Ochre, Cadmium, Tuareg Blue, and a pink whose name I can't recall), about 1/2 skein of the blue, smaller amounts of the other colors
Needles: size 5 and size 7 16" circular, size 7 DPNs
Fits like a dream. Warm and comfy. Knits up fast (I am the slowest of knitters and I pulled this together in about two days of knitting and an hour or so of embroidery). A very happy hat. This was a present for my teacher, as part of the second wave of Sanga Hats. She asked for a rainbow. Below, a picture of her wearing her new hat:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby Animal Alert

This will make anyone feel better. Bested only by this. I could go on, but I'll stop there.

And having babysat a lamb years ago (my father had a client with a farm and for some unremembered reason was able to bring a little black lamb home for the weekend, which stayed in the basement in a small pen and was bottle fed) and still able to summon up the dank smell of the fur, the continual bleating, the lack of concern for grooming or cleanliness (sheep are not cats), and the general disinterest in humans (sheep are not dogs ), I should not crave one.

But look at their faces. Almost Albert Einstein or Yoda, but with fur, or is it wool?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Progress on Vivian

Making slow, judicious progress on Vivian.
I'm using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a pumpkin color. And I have written in my knitting notebook: "Decision #1: make the sleeve size from the size 34 pattern" to remind myself that the goal is to go forward, produce more knitted fabric, rip less, and most important, be decisive.
At first look, this sweater seems to be very tricky. Not so far. Many rows repeat the pattern from the row below. You need to stay on the lookout for when it's time to twist the cable, but otherwise, it's very consistent in when to seed stitch, when to purl, and when to knit.
Below, a closeup of the fabric:
Satisfyingly spongy, thick and soft at the same time so that it should be warm like a bulky sweater but less claustrophobic (I find that I only wear the bulky sweaters when it is below zero or I know that I'll be outside for a hike). And a magnet for dog hair. Maybe it's the microfiber in the blend (wool, a little cashmere, and some acrylic) but I'm finding much fur migrating into the cuff as well as the ball of yarn. I did have the ball of yarn on the floor beside my chair. I'm not sure where this habit came from, but it is standard for me. I'm now keeping the yarn on the table or in the knitting bag.
And a swatch for the Sunny Flower Fez , designed by Kristin Nicholas, in folkStyle. Malabrigo worsted in Cadmium. In person, a beautiful mix of soft yellows, marigold oranges, and colors in between. See, I'm swatching again. This may turn into a routine. Hopes are to knit the hat up by Sunday for a birthday present.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I'm reading Noelle Oxenhandler's The Wishing Year: a good, cynical, intellectually rigorous book on making wishes. It's a great combination. There are many sentences and passages that I want to hold onto and many places that I think, yep, that's how I feel.

The feeling that you shouldn't ask for too much or be too happy because then the boom will get lowered, the other shoe will drop, and things will go bad. The intellectual suspicion of coincidences that are neat and fortuitous. The impatience with flabby New Age writing which wants to tie everything in life into a neat, happy, healing bundle.

So what does it mean if this morning, when I had the seven millionth idea about an idea for a yoga therapy business, that when I Googled it, that the first hit was my blog? It's a post from 2006 and it does not even mention the words that I Googled. (See, I'm not going to say the name yet because it might bring on a curse or bad luck....) It does offer up a feeling that was driven home by my time in India: as a country, we need to do a much better job of accepting and welcoming those who are different from us.

And the post before the one that came up as a hit? A poem by Mary Oliver. On New Year's eve, we had dinner at the house of one of my yoga students. As we were playing Scrabble after dinner and exchanging presents, I mentioned, upon seeing some one's gift of a Mary Oliver book, that I hadn't read her. I was told that I needed to and that I would like her writing.

Apparently, I already had, but would not have remembered if I hadn't followed the path from the words that I was searching the Internet for. Which brought me back to my homepage.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I have no idea what to make of this.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dear Computer

Dear Computer:

Please stop tempting me to read every entry in the Vivian Knitalong on Ravelry. This will not get the sweater knitted. Nor will reading through each of the 77 entries on this sweater nor surfing the Internet for random postings.

It's time to choose a sleeve size and get on with it. (Which means I only have to rip a sleeve beginning one more time - which will make a total of three, including the two sleeves started on double points and now the latest sleeve worked flat - much much better - but worked for the size 40 instead of 34 specs and it is looking very big. And I did learn from Ravelry that Ysolda Teague, the designer, says that the fabric will stretch about an inch, so I'm hoping that the sleeve size that goes with my body size will work.)

Please also remind me that I knit because I enjoy it.

Thank you.


PS It's snowy and cold and dark. I must venture out to teach yoga, but when I come home, back to the sofa and reading a book.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Planning Vivian

The dining room table the other morning. I have entered, says one of the teachers at my local knitting shop, a new level in my knitting. I am swatching. I am measuring. I am trying on. Yikes, I am planning.

It started with the Not to Knit class this fall. Two sessions on the many ways that we can go wrong when we knit a sweater. Some are in the knitter's lap: not reading the pattern; not looking at the specs (which show measurements for sleeves, bust line, waist, and so on); being romanced by a yarn that is not right for the project; willfully (that would be me) refusing to take the time to swatch and thus depriving oneself (that would be me) of really important information on how this yarn and this size needle and this knitter will produce a certain product that may or may not be right for the pattern that sweet-talked you into making it; not stopping to occasionally measure the product to see if what you (that would be me) are knitting is close to the specs (see above) noted by the designer.

Other factors, not necessarily deliberate, may also assist you in taking a wide detour around the sweater that you are wearing in your mind's eye. Perhaps the picture in the magazine doesn't show all the details, like that heinous band around the bottom of the thigh-length tunic which does little for any one's shape. Or the model is standing so as to hide the many extra yards of fabric, so that the sweater that seems to be narrow is, in reality, trapeze-like. Or, the color in the photo is miles away from the color of the real yarn, and you (this would not be me) keep trying to talk yourself into the hope that what looks like mud will knit up into a rich brown shade.

Not because it's the new year, but because it is cold and I'm stuck inside and had time on my hands, and because the most valuable lesson of the very helpful What Not to Knit, for me, was: look at the specs. Compare them to the specs from a favorite pattern. Or measure a favorite sweater and compare that info to the pattern that you're considering. Below, the specs from Vivian:
Alongside each measurement, from cuff to height of hood to sweep (that's the measurement of the base of the garment), I noted measurements from my favorite, orange, hooded sweater from Anthropologie. What I found is that Vivian is cut much closer in the arm, smaller in the waist, and has a hood that's about three inches shorter. Overall, my favorite sweater is drapier, looser in the sleeve, and has more of a bell effect at the cuff.

Then I forced myself to do a swatch with my yarn, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (I think that this is color 16). The pattern calls for a thicker yarn, but I loved the color and feel of this cashmere-wool-microfiber blend. I made a pair of Fetching a year ago in the same yarn and color.
And I swatched, per the pattern, all three stitches: stockinette, seed stitch, and large cable. I was assisted by the finale, two episodes long, of Dancing with the Stars. I sat in the den, watched the shows on the computer, and swatched. Then I even finished the swatch by washing the same way that I'll care for the sweater. Results: with a size 7 needle, I was dead on for each stitch.
Next, I started on the left sleeve of the sweater, as a back-up, emergency test of gauge and fit. I worked the bell cuff, slipped the stitches onto scrap yarn, and tried it on. Okay so far: feels full enough, and I like the way that it has one pointier, longer edge that curves across the back of my hand. I continued onward to the end of the first cable chart for the cuff, including decreases from 40 to 32 stitches.
Slipped it onto scrap yarn and tried it on again. Be aware that this all takes much, much more patience than I have ever demonstrated, at least knitting-wise (and maybe in all endeavors) before. Not so sure now. The cuff, tried on with a short-sleeve tee because that's what I was wearing, feels a little closer than I'd like. And if I add in a long-sleeve tee, maybe even claustrophobic. And far from my Platonic ideal-sweater, which is 11" versus Vivian's 8.5 inches at the cuff and 9.5" versus Vivian's specs of 6.5 inches in the forearm. At this point, I put cuff into bag with pattern and stepped away.
I'll post a question on the Vivian Knitalong on Ravelry and see if anyone did anything as odd as making the sleeve from the size 40 sweater and the body from the size 34 (with needed modifications, and this is my first cable-seed stitch patterned sweater). Or perhaps I need to not do the decreases for the size 34 sleeve and let it be looser all the way up the forearm until I begin patterned increases for the upper arm?

Friday, January 02, 2009

When did Tamil appear in Blogger?

இண்டேறேச்டிங். (Edit number two: what looks like odd marks on your computer, if it does not have Tamil translation, is Tamil script on mine. Thanks, Rose, I would not have known.) English translation: interesting... (Edit number one: nope, not actually translation. Transliteration. I've posted a question on Blogger Help Group asking if my computer somehow recognized that I had been in India and added the feature. Even though the computer that I posted this entry from is not the laptop that I took to India. Curioser and curioser.)

I now have an option in my blog for (translation) transliteration into Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Malayam, and Telagu - five different languages from different states in India. Does anyone else have this?

Unfortunately, there is no Tamil equivalent for Arrrrggghhh, which is how I feel right now.

Let's see if fairy godmother (translates) transliterates: பைரி கோட்மொதேர். Hmm, I hope it has the same connotation, because truly, I am wishing for someone to come down, wave a magic wand, and produce a yoga therapy practice for me. (Ain't gonna happen. ஐந்த்' கொன்ன ஹப்பேன்.) Instead, today's goal is to put together a ten-minute presentation on yoga therapy and its benefits.