Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Yarn for Grown-ups

Some months ago, I purchased two Rambouillet rovings from Ani at Widdershins that she had painted like this:

Beautiful, right?  But somehow, as I was spinning the first one, I started having doubts.  There was this grey blue and this mauve colour and I just couldn't imagine how they would go together.  I mean, I don't think Ani specifically chose mauve because she is the least mauve person that I have ever met.  Still, sometimes when one begins to draft hand painted fibres, certain colours just appear like unwelcome guests at a party.

As my bobbins filled, I seriously began to wonder if this would be a dud.  It happens to the best of us.  I was spinning the Rambouillet extra thin and with lots of extra twist after the blooming madness of the previous one - I wanted this lace weight to really be lace weight.  So I was investing a good amount of work in this roving, all the while wondering if it would be a grey and mauve mess at the end of the day.

I plied it with extra twist as well, and even while I was plying it, I was saying to myself, " I don't know..."  

But lo and behold, after a good soak to set the twist, what to my eyes did appear?

It is beautiful!  I would go so far as to say gorgeous.  Stunning, even.  Sure, sure, you can have your reds and pinks and those flashy colours that are always standing up and shaking their booty at you.  Well, sit down and be quiet because I have my sophisticated colours here.  Honey, you have to understand the subtleties and the nuances of life to appreciate what this yarn is offering.   Adolescents need not apply.

Because I did a poor job of dividing the roving evenly, I had a lot of leftover on one bobbin, so I chain-plied a small skein.

Another lovely lady.

I mis-read you, my dear.  Can you ever forgive me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MIsh Mash

I am posting this photo for no specific reason other than it is of Colette.  Those with long memories may recall that she invited us to take a snowshoe/spelunking tour of caves outside of Corner Brook two years ago on her 60th birthday.  It was an unforgettable day but time with Colette often ends up in the "unforgettable" category.  She is now in Ontario receiving chemo treatments and seems remarkably upbeat.  She has a strong network of support that spans the globe so I know she has lots and lots of love and healing thoughts beaming down on her.  Let's keep it up!

On a more frivolous note, Lucy went on a tour of a couture wedding dress design house in Manhattan the other day.  Dorina does a lovely job of sharing it here.  Lucy was a bit iffy about going but she was happy to spend time with her friends so she went.  When she returned and I asked all about it, she described the dresses and the process and the expense.  Then she said, "They were beautiful but it's only one day in your life.  I mean, the important thing about getting married isn't the dress or the party, it's the person you are marrying!"  Yello?  Where does this wisdom come from?  For all the teenage angst that has been surging around me - and my dear, it has been surging - this was one of those moments when I told myself that everything is going to be alright.  Even if Lucy is flipping burgers or, more likely given current circumstances, divvying out our daily lentil ration, she will know how to manage her life in a positive manner.  (As an aside, I always think it is a little strange when people say things that indicate that I have done a "good job" as a parent if my children manage to get into to college and find some kind of employment.  I mean, those things come and go, as does happiness itself.  So when is my job finished?  When does it get labelled a success?  Or failure?  I mean, what if they have a terrible mid-life crisis?  Is that (still) my fault?  These questions haunt me.)  In any case, I am always grateful for these glimpses of maturity that signal that whatever happens, both she and Finn will have the good sense to do what needs to be done whenever it needs to be done.  

And from that...a little knitting content.

I may well be the last knitter on the planet to make this scarf - there are nearly 12,000 projects listed on ravelry - and for that reason alone I resisted for years.  Then, when we were in Santa Fe last February, I had a little incident in a yarn store.  I put the bag away when we got home, embarrassed that I, too, had succumbed to Noro's seductive colours and the allure of such a simple but enticing concept.  For months I ignored that bag and it ignored me.  Then, the siren song became louder.  Although I subscribe to Elizabeth Zimmerman's opinion about K1P1 ribbing, the power of these simple-minded but oh-so pleasing colour changes has me happily cranking out oodles of it.  I am sure there is some kind of Zen metaphor in there somewhere - doing this thing that I don't actually enjoy because I just want to see what's coming up ahead - but I can't be bothered to think about it because I am too busy making this annoying ribbing because I just want to see what is coming up ahead.

At least I know that I am not alone in it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

All is Calm

Well, not really.  Clearly there is no limit to how we will cause suffering to ourselves and each other.  May I suggest that one thing to do is to do our ordinary tasks but minus the usual mental narrative.  Nice, if you can manage it.  It gives plenty of room for feeling sadness as well as joy.

With that in mind, we put up a Christmas tree and we all took delight in the ornaments, the little twinkly lights and the most excellent smell (even if it is the smell of a tree in the process of dying).  

Lucy actually called me a buzzkill the other day.  What's up with that?  And how did she even know that word?

Olive, who is quite good at at doing things without mental narrative, found delight in a pile of recently scoured Shetland.  She has mighty good taste, that cat.  The Shetland is part of my experimentations for The Project in Which I Bitch Slap Richard Serra (But, You Know, With Wool) (working title).

A veritable beehive of activity.  

Please, I encourage you to embrace the darkness as well as the light of the season!  It all will pass swiftly by.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Healing Thoughts Needed

My dear, dear friend Colette is very ill.  Colette has influenced my life in ways too numerous and subtle to be able to tally them up.  This is remarkable in its way, but she has done this for so many others as well.  While most of us have dreams and imagine the time when we might take a risk and try something big, Colette dreams it, then she goes and does it.

You can see some of her work on her new website and on the website for her artist centre in McIvers, Newfoundland, Full Tilt.  Colette lives life at full tilt.  She is force of nature.

Consumer Cyclone from Colette Urban on Vimeo.
Clip from her performance of Consumer Cyclone.  Filmed as part of the full-length feature film  by Katherine Knight about her, Pretend Not to See Me.

Please get better Colette.  We all need you so very much.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Must Have Been Some Breakfast

Did my yoga-related haiku make you want to gag?  Just a little?  Well, here are two from a young master of the form, Ms. Lucy Love.

Pancakes are awesome
But oatmeal raisin cookies
are despicable.

Today already,
I have eaten pancakes and
took the train.  What else?!

Don't know about you but I feel better already.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Knitting Sweaters Like Normal People Do

Since 1955, Loes Veenstra knitted over 500 sweaters and stored them in her home on the 2nd Carnissestraat in Rotterdam. The sweaters have never been worn. Until today.

Het Verzameld Breiwerk van Loes Veenstra from Christien Meindertsma on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Site of the Battle

In the Ashtanga primary series, there are two balancing postures after most of the standing postures.  One of them, Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, I find quite easy and truly enjoy each time.

Here is Mr. Iyengar doing it.
It feels great and I look forward to it, even if I do have a small black-out period right after I stand back up each time.

But before the joys of ABP can be experienced, one must encounter...the other one.  You know who you are.

Yeah, I'm looking at you Utthita Hasta Padangustasana.  Stretching, balancing, shifting the gaze, breathing calmly, face relaxed, shoulders down - it wants it all.  I dread this one.  Really, like, "oh no, here it comes again.  I hate you UHP!"  Naturally, this attitude does not make for beautiful execution.

This morning, I did it on my own and then the teacher came over to assist me (basically, they hold your extended foot so the balancing part is removed from the equation).  I gave her a look that said, "what? you expect me to do this twice?"  She answered my look by saying, "It is easier when you get assistance."

I replied to her, "Sure, but I have a war going on in my head right now."

She said, "You said it, I didn't."