Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who Me? ...Selfish?

I totally agree with Laura's comment on my last post, and want to elaborate on it. Most people may think that being self-ish is a bad thing. I, however, think it is a good thing. This is possibly construed as a slap in the face of everything I was brought up with. Selfishness was always defined as a bad thing. I happen to believe that it is essential to life. Our very body processes are not designed for making another's life better, but to nurture and sustain ourselves. If we stop taking care of ourselves, then our body will go into survival mode. We are selfish beings from each tiny cell, to our organs, to our complete, selfish, magnificently functioning bodies. ...And our Creator made us this way! So, to go on along this line of thinking, how do we stay in fine tune with ourselves? ...By thinking positive thoughts and taking the best care of ourselves that we can. Pretty simple.

Well, it would be if we were taught that to begin with. ...And in all fairness, survival of the species does require a lot of sharing and helping others along too. A group that is moving together in the same direction can accomplish so much more than a single person alone. Our problem comes when the group dictates everything from our thinking to our behavior. Case in point: myself and the way I dress. I love clothing. I love making clothes. I love decorating them too. I love the colors and fit and style. I get excited over fabrics and fibers. ...And why not?!!! We all have to wear clothes don't we? Why not use our bodies as a place to hang art that expresses our moods and lifestyles? So, what is my point? Well, I live in a very conservative city, in a very conservative state.

As I look around me, I see people wearing the most popular brands (you know, the retailers with the biggest advertising budgets) . Think about this, these brands must be made to appeal to as many people as they can to flourish. This means nothing very unique or expressive in an individual sense. ANYBODY can wear the product. ...Except me. ...Well, I do live in a pair of Lee jeans. But after that, one never knows what I will put on that makes a statement about how I feel that day.

By the way, I finished the Holiday scarf. In fact, making it was so much fun that I had to make another very like it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Finding myself

Well, for starters, finding myself is not as easy as it might seem it should be. After all, I have a lot of years of expectation dust to clear off. Someone should invent a spiritual vacuum cleaner that will do it all in a flash. That would be easy. It has occurred to me that once one finds oneself, then the work of staying found begins. Just like cleaning house, the house will not stay clean unless there is constant concentrated effort to keep it clean. ...And isn't it much more fun to just play all the time? ...And wouldn't it be great if life was always kind and people were always kind and did the right things and took care of their own business? ...And wouldn't it be great if we were raised up to be knowing who we are instead of some version of what our cultural surround wants us to be?

It seems to me that the more I look for myself, the more I see I am lost. So, looking back to the last post, where I suggested that the process is a little easier if we focus on what things we like and enjoy doing, I have been finding more of myself in this action. So, actually, I have moved the second question: "What do I love to do and couldn't do without?" up to first place. My list looks something like this:
  • I love knitting, beading, sewing?, making jewelry, …being artistic!
  • I love being impulsive and in the moment.
  • I love teaching to a big group.
  • I love my acupressure and hypnosis career.
  • I love my home.
  • I love my husband.
Now, I said "something like this" because it has changed a few times. My first list had loving the hubby in second place. After a few days, however, I realized that this really didn't define who I am, and the focus has been shifting to those self-defining loves. In many ways, loving my husband does define who I am, and so it remains on the list, but as this is dependent on a changing, growing, renewing partnership, it is not who I am. The first on the list is very important. Being creative especially defines who I feel I am. I am currently focusing on increasing my creativity, looking for new ways of doing things, creating something new and wonderful, even if it is not so in anyone else's opinion. At one time in my life, I was much more free to explore my creativiyt. Now, I have boundaries of family needs, financial needs, etc. So, I make it a point to set aside time for myself. That's important!

In order to fuel creativity, it is essential to just do it, and forgo all judgmental criticism. Why? ...Because criticism puts on the brakes. Creativity comes in a flow, in the flash of the moment, and if you stop the flow, it's gone and more reluctant to flow the next time.

My latest efforts are getting ready for a holiday boutique. After 5 1/2 years of knitting, I have a laundry basket full of creations that need a home. I have also been toying with setting up an etsy store. It isn't nearly ready to go active, but I do hope to have it up in time to send off some special creations to someone who will adore having them.

My on the needles project? ...A joyful scarf in holiday colors that will send the message that whoever wears it is a merry person.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yes, I am still here... just quietly contemplating my navel

It has been ages, I know. Well, sometimes we just get seriously sidetracked and lately i have had so many priorities that I just haven't kept up with the blog. In some sort of defense though, I have been journaling. It has been an ongoing project of mine to get back to mySELF. ...A continuance of a spiritual journey that I began many years ago. So, I started a journal about the same time I stopped blogging. Private stuff you know. Time has been precious, and so the blogging end of things seemed to be less important. I do want you to know that I have been making progress with my finding mySELF. I was actually right here, under my own nose. Just a little forgotten and very confused. Wouldn't anyone be if you forgot where you put yourSELF? I was hidden behind everyone else in my life, getting tarnished and dusty, and it felt like my own needs didn't matter a bit. A life of service is fine for Mother Theresa types, but I do have my limits. So, I have been asking questions like:
  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • What do I love to do and couldn't do without?
  • What do I want in my life?
...well, you get the idea. I know for sure that I love being creative, and it makes my SELF feel really great when I am creating something. I will be sharing some of my process in the following blogs, but this is how I started out:

I am on course to figure out just who I am these days. …Maybe where I got lost along the way,and which way I want to go. I feel usurped. Everyone else came in and bumped me out. I am just hanging on by my itty bitty fingernails to my own shoulders.…And it doesn’t feel good.

The process started with listing 6 things that I love. And Guess what? They changed after a few days!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bark & Vines

I am taking off into unknown areas now. Into the trees with my latest creation, which I am calling Bark & Vines. Probably #1. It took a lot of pondering before the first stitch. There are simply endless ways to represent bark in a knit fabric. Not only could it be a knitted barkground of scale-like patterns, in a solid tightly knit fabric, it can also be light and lace-like, with many irregular stitches laid down with absolutely no pattern or plan in mind other than to make certain that there is no particular patterning going on. So, I just started out with knit stitches, creating an irregular edge by adding on unevenly with each progressive row. As the rows built up, I randomly added in purl stitches, yarn overs and knitting 2 togethers. Because the yarn is a lightweight Silky Wool by Elsebeth Lavold, the stitches really control the fabric. The result is a very rumply, textural relief surface that does remind me of tree bark. Now, I am in the process of creating vines: ...I-cord ropes that will twine in and out of the holes, and twist about each other with elegant green leaves extending outward to frame the face.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moss & Clay: a story of greens and terracotta

I have finally finished knitting a vest from a pattern by Jane Thornley, named the Riverstone Vest. Her version is an astonishing replication of river rocks in shades of blackish-grayish-creamy yarns that would get lost if you happened to lay it down on top of a river rock. I loved it at first sight. My own creation strayed a bit in color when I found a gorgeous ribbon, Sari by Louisa Harding. Shades of mossy green, rusts and browns, set off with a strip of copper gleam, it just had to come home with me. ...Along with a few other beauties that befriended it in the shop. It is a super fast knitting project, but I was held back by running out of yarns, having to order, and even over-dye a Patagonia Nature Cotton that was a bit too yellow to blend in with the first one.

Once I started, I forgot to count rows along the neck edge. (I do things like that occasionally.) As a solution for a barely discernible deviation of symmetry, I decided that some terracotta dangles and ribbons to give a bit more character to the neckline was exactly what it needed.

Several Internet searches came up with no terracotta beads. Perhaps for some reason I have yet to discover. However, I am the sort of person who won't take "No' for an answer, and made it a mission to find them. Ever eying some broken flower pots in the back yard, I finally came to the realization that if I were to have what I wanted, I would have to make them myself. Hammer and Dremel in hand, I did what I had to, and this is my result. Photo of the final result will be coming soon!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Faded Roses

Finished!!!! The Cloud Bolero by Ysolda Teague is done!!!! I wore it all afternoon yesterday, and love it! Didn't even block it. I am not sure what blocking does for a cotton and nylon knit (ouch!). I think it is mostly for wooly wonders. It is such a cute shrug, but I am not sure whether I will be doing Solstice gifts of it though. Maybe I could get the hang of it? Its amazing that I didn't go insane with all the knitting/frogging/knitting/frogging/knitting I had to do. Once I decided to use straight needles it was so much better. …But I really don’t like the straight aluminum needles. Way too slippery. Sure wish I could find a way to use the circs without losing track of the stitches because the markers slip though.

I am also about to finish the Riverstone Vest by Jane Thornley. It was love at first sight. I love my vests, and have several. This one will be a real fashion statement as it is long and drapey, in shades of rust and copper, alternated with dark brown and mossy green. I am calling it Moss and Clay. ...Can't wait to get it done and wear it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I can no longer be trusted....

Of course, those of you who knit may have fallen prey to this affliction. I have joined the ranks of the yarn shopaholics. Just this morning, I visited my LYS in desperation to get a yarn I had run out of. As soon as I entered the door, I was bombarded with many lovelies that absolutely had to come home with me. ...In a huge shopping bag, no less!

How did this happen? Well, I am a sucker for a sale, and it just so happened that the owner was busy marking things down to get them out of the store. Noro Silk Garden for $2 a skein for Heaven's sake! ...And Elsabeth Lavold Silky Wool for the same price! Then, there were the lashies for only $1. That was in addition to the regular priced yarns that I needed.

I feel so satisfied!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Green Glop

I have been making green glops for years. ...Since my kids were little and I couldn't get them to eat spinach. So what can a mother do? Disguise it! With a little help from Doctor Seuss and the blender, my green eggs became a green glop. Actually a fritatta, which is something like a pancake with spinach and cheese, it has became a favorite that my grown sons eat even today with gusto!

Now, however, the blender is no longer a necessity, and this glop just has green "stuff' in it. Add a little salsa on top, and you've got a yummy, fast, and nutritious breakfast!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rodarte ...high fashion grunge?

I have discovered a sister design team called Rodarte. They are amazing, young explorers in the field of fashion. Their designs are based on nature, and create more "wearable art" than wearable fashions, but they are so interesting to me. They appear to be complete opposites of what they design. The sisters are heavily influenced by string art of the German-American artist Eva Hesse, and create their knits to look like this art was draped onto the body.

The Rodarte duo looks at nature and determines to replicate it. I have to ask myself “if I were to do this, how would I create what I see?” …I have had some ideas about this to, you see. I have been wanting to do bark. Yeah, tree bark. …And vines.


My imagination stretches and awakens with Rodarte’s influence. They are organic designers, true California-style creations themselves. I feel as though there is a new definition for designing that I can achieve. It never felt right to me to use traditional shapes and try to make something new about them. Thus, I labeled myself “technical” rather than designer. One of the sisters said that she tries to create fashions that seem to have existed, and without structure. Yeah! ...ORGANIC!
I love the newness and sheer creativity.
I love the way they exonerate and recreate something perfect in itself.


I can see myself back "in the garden" doing something more organic than "Fairies..." was.
That was a lot of fun, and it flew off the needles. Now another creation is brewing and about to birth itself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nearly done and what else is going on here...

So-o-o-o, ...after not posting for way too long, I guess I have to show that I have not been a totally idle couch potato. Not only have I been helping my mother, who is 93 1/2, become adjusted to living with my husband and me, I have been keeping my hands busy with knitting. The Endless Mountains wrap is nearly done. I have been thinking of increasing it along the lower edge by adding several more increased rows, creating something of a ruffle. That ruffle is morphing about in my brain as a solid color and then multi-color, and until it all calms down, I am content to wait.

Here is a close-up of the fabric:

I have also been doing a very mindless project. This happens when my brain wants to check out, but the hands keep moving. I got a Noro Catwalk pattern book for Christmas, and was planning to make one of the pullovers in it. However, I really didn't want to do endless cables with sock yarn. As it is, the thousands of tiny stitches are enough of a challenge with only a stockinette stitch on circular needles. I knew if I was going to do a project of this sort, it had better be something I get a lot of wear out of. Heaven forbid that after all this, it just sits in a drawer. As I tend to prefer minimalist, or a good structure to build off of, I thought a top-sown raglan sounded like a good bet. To make it even more simple, the neck and hems are going to be left to roll up. Never having done one of these, I started out with courage, yet with trepidation, wondering that it may not fit properly, and other various concerns.

To be on the safe side, I researched what I could, finding very little to provide assurance. However, I have discovered that this sweater is easy enough for a first project. Amazing! What could be easier than getting the gauge, and then casting on enough stitches to give the right neck hole? There is a bit of juggling for front, back and sleeve stitches, but after a few rows that curled the neckline nicely, I separated the stitches into four groups with stitch markers, and began to increase on each side with every row. I continued to knit in this way until a try-on determined
the length was sufficient to meet under the armpit easily. I am hoping that there will be a bit extra throughout the length in the event I get carried away and throw it in the washer one day. I love the way Noro's colors morph into each other. These yarns must have been rainbow inspired.

In spite of the tiny yarn and the #6 needles, the knitting is going along quickly. What you see in the photo is mostly done with just one skein of yarn. The pattern I originally thought to make called for two, and I may manage to finish this with what I have. However, I am just enough of a perfectionist that I will want the sleeves to be symmetrically striped, and to match them to the torso. I know, kind of anal, but I do want to love it and wear it often.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Endless Mountains

Another wrap is on the needles. I have been haunted by the thought of knitting a wrap that exemplifies to me the "cabin." Nestled in the "Endless Mountains" (American Indian name) of the Appalachian chain, the cabin exists only in memory now, as it burned to the ground about 10 years ago, but it is so much a part of my life that it demands recreation. So, now it is once again coming out in my knitting as yet another version of Jane Thornley's Feather 'n Fan Organic Wrap. The first was not quite hitting the mark, and was smaller than I had wanted. I wanted a luxuriously abundant wrap that draped about my shoulders the way whipped cream tops a banana split. Abundant. And colors. Colors to use are deep hemlock and mountain laurel greens, powdery reddish earth and hemlock needles, brown tree trunks, gray rocks, blue sky, silvery tin roof, teal shingles covered the outside walls, red bee balm, golden grasses, green of all shades, watery blues and white foam. oh how I wish I could share all this with you, but the digital camera came too late and the only pictoral memories I have are on paper.

I am using mostly the same colors and yarns, but in different combination. As you can see with the first wrap, it has more stripeyness, and the red I added to represent the brilliant red of bee balm growing wild in the field across from the cabin, takes a prominent place. The bee balm was very spotty, and just a few precious heads showed themselves at any one time. The hemlocks are everywhere, and I am making the foundational color of the wrap in the same deep rich greens.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I made a purse!

I never thought I would do this, I don't even recall making one when I used to sew constantly for (scratching head), ...hmmm, most of my life. They just seemed so home-made. I always liked leather purses. However, the lure of a quick project with vibrant yarns just got the better of me. After all, I have been working on light tan socks for my hubby's Christmas gift forever. The endless rows of knitting/purling have gotten to me. I get really jazzed with brilliant color and sparkle. I just know I couldn't talk him into any of that. So, when Jane Thornley came up with yet another pattern just before the holidays, and I suffered a cringe as I thought of the line-up of knitting ahead of me, I sort of wrote this one off. Until now. It was as promised, fast and fun. There are endless possibilities for design diversion with the pattern, and it was great,, better than great to be able to use up several bits of yarn that were only about 10 yards in length. Even though it is all in ribbing, just like the socks, it was so much more fun. This purselet only took about 5 days, but I only worked on it for a few minutes each day, and even skipped on some days. It is small, but perfect for holding the driver's license, credit cards, and a lipstick.

The yarns:
I realized as I started out that the browns and
oranges needed another color to perk things up. So, I pulled in a handpainted orphan banana yarn. I bought it on close-out because I wanted to experience alternative yarns, and even though I would never have planned to knit with orange and blue yarn, unless they were school colors and I was a cheerleader, the yarn was wonderful here.