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September 2008

And So, I'm Lazing into the Weekend...

Hazymorningafterfire

  • I've been ready for the weekend since Wednesday.
  • Not very Zen of me, but I have been able to cope with the last two days anyway.
  • The picture is of the smoky hazy sunrise from a couple of days ago.
  • A big fire raged on a nearby mountain for a day or two.
  • The fire isn't out, but it is smaller and doesn't produced the large amount of smoke it once did.
  • We've been lucky this summer where fires are concerned.
  • And our weather hasn't been too hard to handle, either.
  • This weekend is the proverbial end of summer.
  • Everyone is asking where the summer went, why do summers go by so quickly and winters drag on and on.
  • And yet, it is not winter and fall has not even arrived. 
  • At this point in time the end of summer is a state of mind.
  • There are still days of beautiful weather ahead.
  • They are to be enjoyed to the fullest.
  • I intend to do so.
  • Few plans have been made for the weekend.
  • The few in place include friends, good food (and drink), time to knit and time to relax.
  • Once again, I am in the throws of a finishing flurry. 
  • There will be a whole new bunch of WIPS by next week.
  • And, even better, a nice pile of finished goods.
  • Enjoy your weekend.
  • Go outdoors.
  • You'll be stuck inside soon enough.
  • Have a fabulous Holiday!

Focus, Not Obsession

Lovelyhabugimacharcoal So where did that sweater obsession come from along with the resulting angst? After I thought more about CPnoH, and rejected it, I looked at several other sweater possibilities for the lovely Woodrose Beaverslide.The one standout was Chloe, a sweater that's been in my Favorites (on Ravelry) for a long time. Norma also threw the queue for a loop when she surprised me with the yarn for Gisela .It's very modern and should knit up quickly. I'm trying to decide if I should fit it in right away (oh no!) or keep with the plan.(Plan, what plan!?)Habu Gima A-174  is paper-like cotton yarn, knit at a large gauge and it's a bit "crunchy" and hard to keep on the needles.(Addi's Lace needles should be the perfect helper.)The smoky, dark blue charcoal will be beautiful with black, gray or other winter colors.Maybe this would be a good foil to work at the same time as the Bohus sweater as it's on a larger needle and will knit up very quickly.And then there is Cassidy, by Bonne Marie, and Véronik's (Rav link) new sweater from Vogue were high on the list (have you seen the cool new slide show?) but, both would take more yardage.So, instead of buying more yarn for more sweaters, I'm all about knitting from stash.Money is tight and the reason one has a stash is to keep on knitting through all crisis! That's what Elizabeth Zimmermann says, and I believe that only with a good stash can you be fully prepared for a rough road.

Gasp...breath...

Did you see how quickly my mind got caught up in monkey behavior all over again?  Read the above paragraph as quickly as you can and you'll see how all this mania can make one, that is me, crazy. The truth of the matter is we knitters have an amazing number of fabulous patterns at our disposal.  A place like Ravlery brings a world of ideas, patterns, yarns, books and social events together in one place and the mere number of possibilities can be overwhelming. Instead of seeing and using Ravelry as a resource we pour all of our desires into it.

Lynn has had a similar monkey mind experience to mine, and she asked "Would you please tell us someday how you learned this calmness in the face of desire?"   

Desire, want, anticipation are all words that bring me up short.  While I am no expert on the art of being Zen, the one thing to remember is "being Zen" is a practice, something to strive towards every minute of every day. There is no end to the journey, only the journey itself.  Knitting is like life, it's full of ups and downs, failures and successes, forked paths and error prone ways.  No part of it is "bad", it is what it is and we can not, should not and will not ever control it.   

We are what we are and only by acceptance will we find any semblance of peace.  All this is easy to say, perhaps easy to understand, but living it, being it, can be difficult.   It's all good, life is what it is.

The easiest way I have found to stop my monkey mind is to change focus.  What is the focus of my obsession, what is the cause of the obsessive thinking?  Do I have control over the "thing", the person or the action that is making me crazy? Is there anything, anything at all, I can do to change the situation? If there is, then action should be taken, but if not, the best thing to do for your sanity is to change course, change your focus. 

Lady Day, in addition to the sweaters I couldn't knit while I was knitting her, had forced their way into my head.  They danced, taunted, teased and did their best to make me crazy.  The only way to find peace was to walk away from them all, change my focus from desire to need.  What did I need in that moment to cope with life? 

The first part of any assessment, at least from my point of view, is to look around at all that is yours, all that you have, at what is important and treasured.  Of course, we may first see the "things" we cherish; our homes, our clothes, our cars, our possessions. If you have one bowl to hold your rice (and rice to eat) is it not enough?  If you have one sweater to keep you warm, is it not enough? Even more important to us is our family and friends…are they not the true measure of a person?  Are they not the true measure of success? Are they not all that is needed to live a good life?

Acceptance that you can not knit everything, acceptance that what you knit is enough, acceptance that what is now is enough, will make you a happier more whole person and help to quiet that monkey mind.

When I returned to Lady Day, after the evening of simply knitting in the moment, I could clearly see what I could not while in monkey mind (anticipation) mode.  She was so near completion and it would only take an hour or two of knitting, and finishing, before I could wear her. Our journey together now moves on to the next step. It's also clear that the monkey mind did nothing to make this happen...lesson (re)learned.

Breath, knit, breath...


Changing Direction

When we last left our manic intrepid knitter she was having a meltdown of the highest order. Apparently whatever amount of Zen she had had slipped away momentarily.

Once the monkey mind takes over your thoughts finding Zen again can be difficult. My head was getting ahead of my heart and jumping around in the future...not a good place to be. Instead of knitting in the moment, and enjoying the process, my thoughts turned to the next sweater and how much I wanted to start knitting IT and then the NEXT sweater after that and the NEXT after THAT!  My head was full of wantdesirewhycan'tiknitfasterdesirefutureyarndesiremoredesireandangst. All this angst created a true sense of dissatisfaction with myself and my knitting. 

It was an obsessive moment, a moment so full of desire, and a resulting sadness, that it was startling. I stopped took a good look at myself, and my knitting, which in turn caused a reassessment.  Why do I knit? What satisfaction is there in jumping from one unfinished project to the next?  What is it about my LIFE right  now (not the knitting) that has caused this obsessive angst?  I took a deep breath, realized this was not a good path and moved away from the sweater. A break was needed, a new path was sought.

You may have thought I'd given up on glove knitting and it's true, the Knotty Glove hadn't been touch in a week or so (see her blog sidebar or Ravelry for the pattern).  By picking up the glove and quietly knitting for an evening, the spell of angst was broken. The change of scenery calmed the monkey mind and took away obsessive thoughts of sweater knitting.  Watching the last few rows of the knot form calmed the mind even more. A sense of accomplishment and simplicity settled over me and now only the digits are left to knit.
Knottygloveisreadyforfingers
Mountain Colors Bearfoot is a very nice yarn for gloves. It's soft, slightly fluffy and the mohair content should make for warm hands. The Ruby River colorway is rich with deep shades of red, orange and maroon, which create a warm sensation.  My mind has calmed, my thoughts have returned to the moment, and the joy of knitting has returned. 

Mittsglovesmittens_2 Instead of getting caught up in the thoughts of all the mitts and gloves that could be future knitting, I thought through a plan of projects that would make the trip to Rhinebeck. It's a true plan and not just the jumping of the monkey mind from project to project.  Mitts, mittens or gloves will make easy, portable travel knitting and I've started gathering the yarn and patterns together.  Now maybe I can return to Lady Day and finish the last bit of knitting without the angst.


Lady Day La De Da Angst

It's been exciting to watch the relationship between Lady Day and I grow, change and evolve, especially when it's been fairly happy from the start. (We won't mention the few errors in judgment at the beginning.)  I expect we'll be life long friends. 

Ladydayisveryclosetofinishline
I love a top down sweater for the mere fact that you can easily try it on as you go.  The body length of Lady Day was very easy to determine and I've opted for it to be on the short side. The sleeves, as written, were a little wide for my arms, but I needed the extra room in the yoke for my broad shoulders. UnderarmofsleeveonladydayThe fix I came up with was to work a little design feature in under the arm.  Seven stitches (the lace pattern repeat) right under the arm were left in stockinette stitch and after a couple of rows two stitches were decreased at each end.  A couple of rows later, two more stitches were decreased (this left 3 stitches) and a couple of rows later I did a center double decrease.  Two more rows and I decreased that one stitch by knitting it together with the last stitch of the preceding repeat.  After about 8 more inches I did the same thing at the elbow area. Two sections of lace have been eliminated and the sleeve is better suited to my skinny arm. However, I did get a bit bogged down on the first sleeve, went through a bit of ennui, and that let a bit a flood of anxiety seep in. 

After the first sleeve was finished I started thinking of the next sweater and the next…my mind got a little obsessed, jumping around from one unhappy thought to another in a way that made it difficult to knit the second sleeve!  I could NOT knit fast enough!  Arrrrrgh…it was ugly, unsettling and dissatisfying! There are SO many wonderful sweaters filling up my queue and I need to stop this angst!  What to do! What to do!?

Think I need to take a step back and stop this obsession (if I can)!!


This Could be an "R is for..." Post...but it Isn't

It took me one full day and two nights of good deep sleep to recover from all the fun of last week.  Keeping up with Norma and 6 to 8 other friends is a bit tiring, but it was so much fun it was worth every tired bone in my body.  We tried to do everything a visitor would want to do and yet, there were a couple of things we missed, a good reason for Norma to return!  KimG will be back soon for the Great Basin Fiber Festival in October and it will be wonderful to see her, along with dear friend Judy.  Anyone else want to come to Utah? Now that I'm recovered, recuperated and refreshed I'm ready again.

This weekend was the opposite of last and I did a load of relaxing (between loads of laundry and loads of knitting).  Smith and I found another colorful Mexican restaurant to love and enjoy. To make it even better, it's very near our home.  They have the best fish tacos I've ever eaten and it was a delightful evenings entertainment to sit on their patio and enjoy a yummy meal.

Welovecolorfulmexicanfoodplaces
Summer's end may be near as Tuesday as there will be bit of fall in the air (from what we've been told). However, after the last two days of temps near 100, one cannot complain, eh? And, because the days of summer are limited we headed to Silver Fork (you can never have too much of a good place) and Silver Lake (its beauty is never ending). I never tire of taking pictures of this lovely place and I hope you don't get tired of seeing them.

Beautyofsilverlakefromvisitorscente

There wasn't a hint of a color change in the leaves, but it won't be too long before its there, Silver Lake is at 8,750 feet, you know.

Just as we were leaving we spotted a moose in the willows. It was an immature calf so the mother must have been near by, but well hidden by the willows.  It's the time of year the young plants make good eating and the moose to bulk up for the winter ahead.

Mooseinthewillowsofsilverlake_2
As we enjoyed a lovely stroll around the lake (just as we usually do) a few beautiful pictures were collected for the Saturday Sky Saturdays to come (you'll need to come back and see). Because sitting at the computer time was limited I'm leaving you with that.  I'd love to hear what your weekend was like, there must be preparations for school going on for many of you.
Happy Monday!


Everything But...

There was laughter, chatter, stories, shopping, laughter, talking, shopping, laughter, pictures, teasing, stories, mad libs, laughter and some eating, too.  But, there was no quiet, not a bit. Laughter shattered the quiet of the mountain groves and any moose we might have spotted were warned away.  Quiet is not attainable when you have 5 women in a car, around a dinner, breakfast or lunch table, in a knitting group, whatever, wherever, 5 very talkative friends are not quiet. Quiet is not a menu item, quiet is elusive.  Over hill and dale quiet was broken while we enjoyed the views, always talking and laughing.

Amigaswaitingfordinner_2
Waiting for dinner at the Red Iguana...Shelley, Me, Cheryl, Gwen, Norma, Miriam .

Cherylandnormatalkingatcitris Susanbeingsillyandgoofy
Cheryl and Norma telling stories.                   Susan being silly.

Kimfellinseethepantlegs  Cherylinafunkyhatwewerelaughing
Me, Norma and Kim after Kim fell in the water.          Cheryl being silly.

Morelaughingandeating Okwedidstoptosmile
Susan, Chris, Miriam and Lisa at SnB.  Cocktails "A glass of wine" at Susan's.

Moresmilingbuttonsoflaughter
Me, Norma, Shelley, Susan and Laurie brunching at Finns.

Q is for lack of Quiet while with the best of friends, grrls who cannot be Quiet or stop having fun. (Maybe I'm stretching but, I like my "Q".)