Saturday, November 29, 2008

Into Every Project Some Doubt Must Fall

I have noticed a trend, or cycle, or predictable set of events, that happens in every one of my projects. First there is the great elation of a new idea, an ambitious goal, the thought of a result that seems, in some cases, profound, in other cases, at least kind of cool. Then there is the work of making it happen. Again, I start with enthusiasm, enjoying the process, dreaming of the wonderful results. At some point however, the enthusiasm begins to turn into doubt: why did I do this? why do I always do this? whose brilliant idea was this anyway? Usually this stage rears its ugly head when the process takes an unexpected turn and the piece is no longer exactly what I had imagined, so things start to feel slightly unpredictable.

So here I am. My piece (the tip of the pencil that will cover the roof) has about 400 stitches currently. It needs to be about 740 by the end. The math of figuring out the increases is slightly beyond my abilities but I think I have it worked out. What is plunging me into the deep unease is the shape of the point. I don't like it. At all. But obviously I am not ripping out to fix it. I have thought about making another point and simply sewing it over the current one. Maybe. Can I cut it off and attach a new one? Close-up appearance is not that important as most people will be seeing this from 15 stories below.

Your advice is welcome!

And then there is the colour...and maybe it is too homemade looking for these slick ad agency people...and what if the whole thing fails and no one even knows it is supposed to be a pencil? I could go on, but you get the picture...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yarn on Yarn Action

Yesterday I had a phone call from a reader, let's call him Mr. Picky, who suggested I was spending too much time in introspection and not enough time showing the goods. He wanted some yarn on yarn action.

Well Mr. Picky, I hope someday you will be able to actually use the comments section of this blog rather than tying up my phone lines, but here you are:

The early stages made for a very striking hat.

Later in the day, it became a spookier. It reminded me of a piece I saw in a Whitney Biennial a few years ago...kinda creepy.

This is what it looked like when I turned in my hook for the night. Getting there, ever so slowly. (For the detail oriented - are you listening Mr. Picky? - the lighter colour that represents the "wood" is not as bright and white in real life as this picture suggests. I think it will be convincing from 15 stories up...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finding Focus

Those who regard worldly affairs as as obstacle to their training
do not realize that there is nothing such as worldly affairs
to be distinguished from the Way.
- Dogen, Bendowa

This is shaping up as a quiet week for us. Most of our regularly scheduled activities are off because of the holiday so we are mostly home all week. This is a great benefit to me since I need time to crochet - a lot of time - and I have to be home to do it since the piece is already large and heavy.

Yet, despite the cancellation of yesterday's activities, it took me until afternoon to get to the crochet, which was the primary job I set for myself for the day.

It seems as thought there are always ten things to be done, usually all at once, before the one thing can be done. It can feel so frustrating when the real, true focus feels just beyond my reach; that it can only be accomplished after I get the next thing...and the next thing... finished. But the next things just keep coming.

What if that's all there is? What if that IS the focus?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Message, Not So Hidden

This weekend is not about crocheting a giant pencil. Probably it should be, but it isn't. This weekend is our second and last weekend of being taught by Srivatsa Ramaswami. Mr. Ramaswami was a student of Krishnamacharya for 30 years, so his teaching are straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Last weekend he fooled me into being lulled into thinking that he was a lovely, older man who was gentle, if strict about what he teaches. He lectured and then led us through some vinyasas - nothing too tricky or strenuous. He was to lead us through more vinyasas on Sunday, but I got all cocky and decided I should do my Mysore-style ashtanga sequence in the morning before that. Well, dang it if he didn't kick our butts for the rest of the day. An hour of variations on shoulder stand! Note to ambitious 40+ year olds: Do not underestimate the elderly!

This weekend, however, we are discussing the Yoga Sutra on both days. It is beautiful text that is truly the essence of yoga, which by the way, is not about difficult physical poses at all. There are only three mentions of asanas in the whole 195 sutras and they are about how to sit in meditation. No, yoga is about ceasing the action of the mind.

Hmmmm...quieting the mind. Now where have I heard that before?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And so it begins...

There were at least two people who were happy to see six big boxes in our living room:


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back On!

Everything is go for the project. It was a tense day yesterday as the UPS guy stacked six huge boxes in my living room and I hovered over my email waiting for some conclusion. At 9:45 p.m. that I received word that things were on track.

Let's hope that this was the requisite drama that every project must have and now it is over.

I guess that means I have to open those boxes now....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Promptness not always a virtue

Yesterday morning I ordered 400 skeins of Lion Brand's Thick 'n Quick for the water tower, hoping that the yarn would live up to its name and make this project move swiftly. I rounded up a half dozen fast crocheters to assist me and I was right on schedule.

Yesterday evening I had an email from the ad agency in Toronto who is organizing all this that there is a last minute glitch with the organization in London - they are coordinating another promotional piece there and there was some snafu. I wasn't given the details, only told that everything is on hold and may possibly be canceled today.

Not exactly what I wanted to hear when I had just put $1500 of yarn on my credit card.

If the project is canceled, it will be a disappointment in some ways. It is a pretty fun and funky project and it will attract a lot of attention and publicity (and that's good, right?). And I do like me some marathon needlework projects. Canceling the project will be a huge relief in other ways. I had so envisioned my life for the next month with this in it, that to suddenly feel the possibility of that space opening up feels like a gift. Even as I had been complaining of an overfull schedule before, it will feel light and leisurely should the whole thing fall through. Handmade holiday gifts for everyone!

But no such celebrations yet. In the meantime, I wait for word one way or another even as I wait for the UPS man and my six cases of yarn.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

In the Land of Unrealistic Expectations

On Fridays we head for a local library where our chess coach offers two hours of free lessons and game time with other homeschoolers (technically, it is open to anyone but since the hours are in the middle of the day, it is homeschoolers who show up each week). Finn and Lucy play chess while I get to chat..or whisper...with some other mothers and knit or crochet. Today was a quiet day with only a couple of other families participating so I browsed the shelves a bit.

Here's what I returned home with: Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Uh-huh. Yup. You know, because what I will be doing in the next few of weeks is making innovative and delicious homecooked meals and reading huge Russian novels.

Can we see that picture of the water tower again?

Did I mention that it is the 10,000 gallon size? The largest one made in NYC?

That glass is always half full in my own special world that I live in...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Watch What You Wish For

Yesterday as I blearily checked my email after eight hours of chess with 628 other children (observation: people who may be able to plot their next twelve moves on a chess board seem to be seriously organizationally challenged in real life), I saw that the water tower cozy project has been given the green light on all fronts.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today is Remembrance Day. We will be spending it at an all-day chess tournament in Harlem - Finn and Lucy's first one. My sense of these events is that there is a lot of time to sit around between games of chess. So we will take a moment today to remember that we are involved in two wars in this country right now. And that people - soldiers and civilians - are dying in our name everyday as a result.

This weekend we had our second session of meditation training at yoga teacher training. The teacher described it differently from the Zen meditation that I am familiar with but the essentials were the same. At one point, the teacher said that if we could begin to bring an awareness of our thoughts into our being, to feel familiar with our mind, then we could start talking about peace as a society. Or that's how I understood it.

That's a high standard to start from - things being what they are, people being who they are. I would like to start talking about peace right now because things are too messy to wait any longer. And for the first time in a while, I feel like there is a small chance that this conversation might actually happen.

War is hard. Peace is harder.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lots to Do

There's still the 10,000 things....

but, today, hooray for us!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Inner Princess

While we continue to await the final word on the water tower cozy project, I have been making more hats.

One thing I love about making hats to sell is that I can use any yarn in any colour that strikes my fancy. It is bound to be suitable for someone. Peachy colours, pinks, yellows all make me look like the walking dead but since it ain't for me, I am free to indulge my pinkest, most peachy fantasies.

Using another skein of the fabulous yarn from islandsweet, I made a hat that is truly a fantasy. While I was knitting it, it occurred to me that it was a hat for a princess. It has lots of golden glitz (or angelina as it is sometimes called), along with snippets of sparkly commercial yarns and lots of and lots of soft merino in a range of pinks.

While I will admit to occasionally being a bit of a diva, I am not much of a princess. But this is a hat is for someone's inner princess...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Quiet Sunday

It is a quiet weekend in Sunnyside. No teacher training this weekend, although I do have to finish our midterm exam. Yes, we have a written exam that has to be emailed back by noon tomorrow. Yoga is serious business. Otherwise we are just catching up on a variety of things that have been put off for weeks. Here are some pictures of this and that.

Here is the hat I made from Shawn's yarn. I love it. Pure pleasure.

Dan is notoriously difficult to give presents to - his interests are such that it is very difficult for someone without his kind of expertise to find a gift that is appropriate (I'm thinking historic preservation here). Plus, he usually refuses to say what he wants so his family members are left guessing, usually wrongly, and he is usually left with a somewhat random collection of things (I'm thinking of that really nice turkey baster his mother gave him a couple of years ago - hey, she's still trying!). Personally, I have stopped following this kind of polite, for-myself-nothing approach to gifts. I think it makes everyone happier to just state upfront what you want (assuming there is something). Everyone is happier.

By some miracle, Dan decided to take on this approach himself for his birthday in October. He asked for, and lo! received! a custom built raw oyster tray. He is a great fan of raw oysters and he didn't have a proper tray that could hold ice and enough oysters. Since we take a pottery class each week, he requested that I make him a tray that met certain specifications - a rim high enough to hold the ice, a footprint large enough to allow a dozen or more oysters to be served, and maybe a place for lemons.

Here's the thing - he got exactly what he wanted and he is happy. Change we can believe in!

Finally, the etsyFAST team that I belong to via Wee Ball Yarns is having a challenge in December where we use another member's goods as part of our item. Shawn and I immediately agreed to trade a skein of yarn. She has some luscious red handspun headed my way. I asked her if she wanted something she knew she would love or something that might be more of a challenge...and she said, "challenge me!" I interpreted that to mean a limited palette and colours that would not be what she would pick naturally. Here's a sneak preview...