Monday Musings

Unexpected Treasure

This blog thing is hilarious to me.  I usually have an idea of what I want my next blog post to be about.  Often times, it involves me texting/calling folks and asking them for pictures of stuff I’ve given away to show you.  But, my non-existent ADD comes out to play, and something else invariably pops up right before posting, so I end up with a bunch of 1/2 done blog posts, which I’m sure I’ll get out later.  This does NOT AT ALL reflect my normal creative process.  Pay no mind to Poopie’s frantic gesticulating.  He has no idea what he’s talking about.

In my defense, I have finished some of the previous blogs.  For example, Recuerdos was hanging out for a month or so, until the PERFECT opportunity to update and post arrived.  This also happens in my normal, day to day life.  I just have way more space to spread out IRL vs. on the inet.  So, the newest shiny subject is gardening.  I have a half done post about something else I was going to do tonight, but this weekend was faboo for the gardening aspect.

I chopped up my fruit trees.  20180310_114005.jpgI have no idea what I’m doing.  That’s a bit of a stretch…I have SOME idea.  I’ve taken a couple classes from the Master Gardeners.  But, ideally, someone would come to my house.  Blindfolded, of course…I don’t want anyone knowing where I live.  They would tell me: cut here, because this.  And: cut there, because that. It’s hard for me to do spring cutting.  I feel bad about curbing growth.  Logically, I know I’m directing growth, rather than curbing..but still.  Last year, I didn’t trim back far enough based on conversations I’ve had with others who espalier their trees as well.  Fun fact, that is not the same thing as espadrille.  This year, we’ll see if I have let the pendulum swing too far the other direction.

Roses, I’m good with.  Contrary to popular belief, they are hardy suckers.  My mom showed me how to chop them up but good.  They keep coming back just as strong as ever.  As does the hydrangea.  Poopie doesn’t seem as concerned with the roses when I chop them up, but the hydrangea usually makes him worry I’ve gotten too exuberant.

This year, I won’t be able to participate in either of the seed exchanges I know about in my area.  Seed exchanges are soooo cool.  You show up, maybe with seeds, maybe empty handed, and you go home with seeds that you can turn into plants.  Or…sometimes, you get bulbs, or starts for different plants.  This year, even if I were able to have attended one or the other, I wouldn’t be able to really do seeds, as I’m going to be gone for almost two weeks in the middle of seedling time.  Which is fine, I end up starting way too many plants, and overwhelming myself.  I’ll just buy seedlings this year. Meanwhile, I’ll send a bunch of seeds (see featured image) to one of the exchanges.

But, I still need to get my plots ready.  20180310_114029.jpgI came out early enough that the weeds aren’t too crazy.  Plus, I got to see my volunteer kale.  I do a pretty poor job of fall cleaning.  I can tell you it’s because I am letting the nutrients go back into the soil.  And that may be true, but I justify it by seeing my volunteers the next spring.  If I had done a better job of clean up, the kale and the chard would be gone.

Let me tell you my favorite volunteer story.  I periodically try to grow potatoes.  My success is…questionable at best.  So one year, I *DID* do a good job of fall clean up.  I pulled the last of the potatoes out of the bin, and put the tops in my home composter. My outside composter only gets garden stuff. No weeds.  It doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds.  The next spring, I’m be-bopping around the yard, just puttering, and notice what looks like potato leaves coming out.  I don’t think much about that.  20180312_191048.jpgIn the warmth, and the nutrient rich environment, some clippings get what appears to be a surge of growth, but nothing happens with them.  Fast forward to the end of the season.  I open up the bottom section to pull out the composted stuff, and out spills a bunch of potatoes.  So…I go to the kitchen, get a bowl, and gather them up.  I decide to try out a new potato recipe with those potatoes.

Apparently, Thing 2 had been watching.  When I served the dish, I told Poopie how it was made, and Thing 2 asks “are those the potatoes from the garbage?”.  (She was such a pleasant teen)  Yes.  Yes they are.  To this day, that dish is called “garbage potatoes”.

This goes to show you that the difference between serendipity and adversity is often a matter of perspective.  Her garbage was my treasure.  My father in law grows blackberries….on purpose. I am forever cutting back blackberries.  20180312_190903.jpgLast year, this whole area was blackberries.  The poor lilac has been overrun. Even weeds express this dichotemy…Did you know that dandelion roots can make a dye for yarn? The leaves make a different color; and the flowers, still another.  Poopie spent a lot of time pulling out scotch broom as a weed (it IS in invasive species).  But a couple of years ago, I made him bring me home a bunch to dye yarn with.  I gave that yarn to L.  She’s on vacation, so I’m not going to make her send me a picture of it for you.

Monday Musings

Recuerdos

In Spanish, souvenirs, are called recuerdos.  Which literally translates to “memories”.  I have most of my loved ones pretty well trained to bring me yarn and/or textiles as souvenirs.

So, I end up with beautifully interesting yarn from (I think) Brussels from Thing 1’s graduation trip.  She was with her mom, so they just made a side jaunt to grab me something. As you can see, it’s a blue cabled yarn that’s also rainbow…so glad for pictures because this doesn’t make sense otherwise.  20180212_202325.jpgI wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it for the longest time.  I only ask for a skein of yarn because I never know what I’m going to get, and I want it to be something of reasonable cost.  20180212_202316.jpgMy MIL asked for a rainbow runner for her table.  Finally, I knew what to use the yarn for!  I wove this runner.  There wasn’t enough of the yarn for either a full warp, or to use as weft.  Generally speaking, warp is the long strands of fiber, whereas weft is what goes back and forth side to side.  The lovely thing about weaving is that you are not constrained to use the same yarn for the whole project.  Which is why knitters/crocheters often expand out into weaving.

When we get to playing with scraps, I’ll explore all sorts of different warps.  I can’t wait…but I must buckle down and finish some things before I move on to new things.  This responsibility crud is garbage.  Back to the runner.  I used the souvenir yarn for the center of the warp, and played with the color outside of that.  We won’t tell her, but there’s actually a bit of…shall we call it asymmetry..to the piece.  The weft, as you can see, is just the warm colors of the rainbow.  Some of the reasoning is that that’s what I had left over from other projects to use for this one.  Some of the reasoning is that the rest of her house is blue, so this color scheme would make the runner “pop” in her house.  Most of the reason is that it is how I wanted to make it.  I like how it turned out, and she does as well. This is the joy of crafting! I can do what I want (yes, I did say that with attitude)

Thing 2 went to Germany in high school, and knew I’d appreciate yarn.  Keep in mind, she was a teenager with a bunch of other teenagers, and had to ask to stop by yarn stores.  Poor thing.  She got me various yarns in bright colors which got turned into Christmas tuques (I’m forever going to use that terminology now) this year.  Slightly hilarious because Thing 2 gets grumbly about the folks who received the tuques.  But…one of the yarns was actually for a kit for a scarf of some sort.  It came with needles and a pattern.  Written in German. If you can’t read German, it’s in Italian as well. Or French.  I speak Spanish. The poor kid couldn’t even translate the German for me because conversational German is *vastly* different than knitting German.  Don’t believe me? Look up a knitting pattern in English and tell me what it means. So, I stared at the photo, and thought it looked sort of like a 1×1 rib.  I tried that.  It didn’t really work. So, I tried to see if I could stare cross eyed at the Italian, and somehow figure out what it said. I mean, Italian is a romance language, and Spanish is a romance language… It wasn’t working that well.  French is also a romance language…  I stared, and stared, and stared.  And then I saw the magic word–Brioche.  Guess what, Dear Reader? I know what Brioche is.  I didn’t know how to do it, mind you, but I can YouTube with the best of them.  So I made the scarf.  And gave it to Thing 2. I have asked her to send me a picture of it, so I can share it with you.  She has forgotten.  You will just have to believe me that it’s awesome.

On my honeymoon20180305_201349.jpg (I have SOOOO many stories of my honeymoon adventures, which I’m sure I’ll share), we went to Whitefish, MT.  I stopped by a yarn store, and purchased a skein there, and then I made this lovely cowl.

Several years ago, we went to Hawaii.  I purchased souvenir yarn then, as well.  As you can expect, there aren’t many fiber animals in Hawaii.  However, in Hanalei (I’m singing “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, and now you are too!), they have a store called Strings and Things.  20180305_201244.jpgIt’s half yarn store, and half guitar store.  In that store, they have locally dyed yarn.  By the smell and the colors, I believe that they are Kool Aid dyed.  I turned that yarn into this cute little wrist bag for projects.  As a side note, they also sell yarn at the Ace Hardware in Lihue, but that’s just generic yarn.

The lovely thing about these stories is how much use and memory will come with these yarns.  Grandma has a runner that was made for her by me, with yarn supplied by her granddaughter from Europe.  Thing 2 has a scarf made by me from her trip to Germany. The recipients of the tuques were told their yarn was German, but I’m sure they’ve forgotten. When I wear my cowl, I remember the adventures I had.  While I can no longer smell the fruity smell of the dye on the project bag, I do think of Hawaii when I use it.  For me, these make better souvenirs than tchochkes.

I share these stories with you today because Poopie and I went to Pendleton this weekend.  The Pendleton.  Home of the Woolen Mills.  While Poopie made sure to book us a tour of the Underground, neither of us thought to make sure the Woolen Mills tour runs on the weekends.  Spoiler alert…it doesn’t.  That’s OK, we went to the store.  It was…a store…but, in the back was a neat mini-museum.  I was initially confused because the artifacts weren’t confined to Plateau Indians work.  I’m impressed with myself to be able to recognize the difference between some of the First Nation’s works.

While I am sad that I went to the home of the Pendleton Woolen Mills, in the middle of historic sheep country, and didn’t get *any* fiber, I did bring home a recuerdo anyway.  The featured image is the locally distilled coffee vodka that came home with me.  It packs quite the wollop, let me tell you.  Even when I can’t get fiber, I try to get something unique.  I blame it on never finding my name on those racks of souvenirs.  The benefit though, is that when people see *my* souvenirs, and tell me they are lovely, I get to tell them the story.  Whereas, when they see me wearing a shirt that says “Lincoln Beach”, they usually don’t give me the chance to expound on my various adventures. I’m not saying it stops me…it’s just not as organic.  I mean, I never turn down a chance to tell a story.

 

 

Monday Musings

Showing up

I tell people that Poopie and I are ineptly supportive of each other. This is because we do support each other. We are just terrible at it.

In the early part of our relationship, I had said that I thought I wanted to learn how to spin yarn. I mean, I already knew how to knit and crochet, so the next logical step was to learn to spin, right?  However, in looking for a wheel, I discovered that there is very little depreciation in the cost of a spinning wheel.  This meant spinning wasn’t going to be a low cost experiment.  Knitting and crocheting can be done on the cheap, and someday I’ll tell you about my introduction to weaving, but spinning…  I couldn’t justify that big of a purchase if I didn’t *know* I was going to pursue it.  So, I decided that was that. It would need to wait until I got rich.

Except for Christmas. My Poopie had found a spinning wheel in an antique shop, and purchased it for me!  (no, there are no pictures, Dear Reader…what is your deal with pictures??) I was so excited!  I would learn to spin!  And I diligently tried.  I really, really did.  I even found out about a poly drive band, and made Poopie help me figure that out.  Nothing.

However, I am lucky enough to live close to the Aurora Colony Spinners. And they have classes.  See, I had been trying on my own, and failing.  I don’t know if YouTube existed, if it was in it’s infancy, or if I just never thought of it, but regardless, I didn’t play on the YouTubes.  I decided, instead, to take a class on spinning.  The Aurora Colony even let me rent a spinning wheel.  With the patient help of Barbara Quinn, I was able to learn to spin (and ply) in just one day.  Seriously.  Just one day. All that time on my own, and one little class fixed it.  Le Sigh.

So, I called Poopie and ask him to please bring my wheel. He did.  I am informed this is called a chair wheel.  It’s a re-creation of a wheel that was made using the bottom of a chair as the frame.  I told everyone the story of Poopie buying me the wheel, and how supportive he is.  Appropriate oohs and aaahs.  I sat down to try out my new-found prowess…and nothing. One by one, several ladies tried.  No one could get the blasted thing to work.

So, I found out that it wasn’t me!!! It was my equipment. 20180226_213919.jpg Armed with this new knowledge, I went out (eventually) and bought myself a wheel.  Or 2. Or 3. Then I sold #2. Then bought #4. And later, #5.  Trust me, Poopie tells me about my wheel collection (which is only 4).  I ask about his guitars, and he finds somewhere else to be, and his hearing has suddenly deteriorated. I would also like to point out his wall of lp’s behind spinning wheel #1.

I, too, am inept at being supportive.  A couple of years later, I found a reel to reel for Poopie.  He had been wanting to start recording his music.  Being a Luddite, he was wanting analog.  So, I was in our local record store and noticed a reel to reel for sale.  Huzzah!  I bought it for him.  If you are a crafter, Dear Reader, you know that equipment has lots of variables that mean nothing to the lay person, but can make or break your project.  20180226_213943.jpgApparently, the same is true with music.  It would be very helpful, however, if Poopie didn’t sound like a trombone when he talks about his music equipment.  I’m not one of the Peanuts kids, I don’t understand “Wa waa wa waa wawa waa”.  So, even had the reel to reel I bought him actually worked, it was a 2 track instead of a 4 track.  Our local record store took back the defunct reel to reel.  Two machines later, he now has the one he wanted. Also, please note the 2 guitars and mandolin, in addition to the guitars and basses in the music room.

This post started out to be a post about equipment.  I was going to end that the lesson I learned from this is that if something doesn’t work, don’t necessarily assume it’s you.  MjAxMy1iMGFkZjZkM2M4OTI0MWNj

But then, yesterday, Poopie sent me a picture of this real, true to life CD (featured image).  That’s me being thanked on a CD.  Do you know what I did to deserve that? Me neither.  Except…I showed up.  I sat in the audience at most of their shows, and crafted.  When there were side projects, they knew they’d have at least one friendly face in the audience. Even my party foul story is about us showing up.  While Poopie and I were bumbling around like idiots, our friend was texting to make sure we were going to be there.  He was going to go up in front of a room full of strangers, and wanted just a couple familiar faces.  Never underestimate the value of showing up.

Poopie and I gave each other objectively terrible gifts that we had to return.  But, the true gift is that we showed up for each other.  So, take your crafting and show up somewhere and support someone or something you love.

Monday Musings

Madrona day 4 (belated)

The last day of Madrona is like the last hour of a night out partying. Everyone is exhausted, but no one is quite done. We know it’s time to go home, and we are ready to go home, but… there is still so much party left to be had.

As I said Saturday, Sunday’s class was John Mullarkey. I saved the best for last! But honestly, how do you pick a favorite class? I really can’t. I joke about my mad crush on John, but really, all the classes were excellent, as expected.

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Franklin Habit’s sheep

John and Franklin are BFF’s, so I got a bonus Franklin visit when he came in to draw a sheep for John! John has many other talents.

Remember the story of how Pam and I met? Well, the other lady from that story was in this class. This time, we were on opposite sides of the room, and Pam didn’t attend. Did that stop the shenanigans? Don’t be silly, Dear Reader, of course it didn’t!

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John Mullarkey’s sheep

John was gracious as always. Especially when I compared his drawing of a sheep to Franklin’s drawing. I think he only threatened to kick me out of class a couple of times throughout the day. For a Sunday class, that’s pretty good for me.

You may think with John’s drawing skills, I should look elsewhere for a design class.  You may be wrong.  Like I said, he has other talents.  One of which is teaching.  His medium for art is in fiber and weaving, not in pen and ink.  He made the belt he was wearing, which he called “Robot Factory”.  Which looked like little R2D2’s, but, are NOT.  I really wanted the pattern, but it involved hexagonal cards, and I am not there yet. I couldn’t take a picture without being extra creepy. I think this showed remarkable restraint on my part.  20180218_091331.jpg

Here’s what I started off with to begin my design journey.  I generally try to bring colors I wouldn’t normally use, or wouldn’t normally pair together, for classes.  My thought is that I’m experimenting anyway, so I might as well go whole hog in my playtime.  Those colors are very “Easter” to me, and not ones people would generally associate with me.  So I played.  20180218_100404.jpg

The featured photo is the band I came up with.  I originally wanted to do a lollipop, but clearly did not grock the whole “S” and “Z” threading properly.  So it ended up being a Truffula Tree.  However, as people were coming along, some thought with different colors, it could be a poppy, and I tend to agree.  That’s the fun of design class, you just play and play.  With most of my samples from classes, I’m able to find things to do with them later. I’m sure the same will hold true for the Truffula Trees.

As I said, the class was great, and I was pleased that John remembered me from last year.  We will just conveniently forget it was probably because I am such a pill to have in class…or that I may have been creepily following him around last year (Hey, I didn’t take a picture of his belt!).  Hopefully, he’ll come to Oregon again next year, since I missed him last time he was in Eugene a couple of years ago.

After class, we were ready to go straight to the train station.  Pam and I had packed the night before.  My packing is on the left, and Pam’s packing is on the right.

As you can see, we have different styles of packing.  However, I’d like to point out that I knew where my brush was Sunday morning.

Today has been a day of recovery for me.  This wasn’t just a night out, after all. It was a VERY LONG weekend out.  My brain is still mostly mush, but I can possibly be of some value tomorrow in my day job, and that’s all they can ask of me, right?

Madrona was clearly a success for me.  It’s so much fun to try new things, and see how other’s approach the same things.  Isn’t it wonderful we aren’t all the same?

 

Monday Musings

Penny Lane

This week has been so eventful! I finished the shop hop. I went to a professional sportsball game. Aaaand…I got my first PodPledge supporter! This is so exciting, now I have to deliver on what I promised for support. I will also get to see exactly how the accumulation works. I *think* I understand, but I’m often a kinetic learner, so I may not have fully understood. While I will get that off before I leave for Madrona, I’ll need to play more with that site once I’m back. Everything I receive via PodPledge will be used to offset the costs of fun events…like Madrona.

Speaking of Madrona, I’m getting all my stuff and things together for the classes.

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As you can see, my packing is mostly project related, vs. clothes related. It’s all about priorities.

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I have also made sure to print out all my supply requirements and homework. I am finally getting excited.

We got our train tickets last week. I had planned to have a room to myself, but Pam needed a roomie, so we’ll be snoring in tandem.

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I think I forgot to tell her I’m *really* not a morning person. She wakes up at the butt-crack of dawn because she’s used to having to do farm stuff before work.

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Hopefully, she’ll have all her appendages when we are done.

It was at Madrona last year that I met Pam. Usually, I make her tell the story of how we met. She says she was in class, keeping quiet, focusing on learning tablet weaving. This is where people who know her laugh in disbelief. I assure them that she actually was minding her own business, but they never believe me, either. Anyhoo, in her story, there were these two girls in the corner (of which, I was one) laughing and being loud (I agree). But *this* is where her story gets wonky. She tells people we were saying things like “Marilyn does it this other way…”. (Marilyn is a “rival” of the teacher of the class we were in) We were not. However, we WERE the only three who the instructor remembered the names of.

Fast forward to the next day, I’m in a different class, minding my own business. Pam is next to me makes a couple of forays into small talk. I’m terrible at small talk. That and my RBF probably makes me come off pretty poorly. Luckily, Pam is never deterred. She asked me “what are you doing after this class?” I replied “eating lunch”. See?!?!?!?!? Terrible! “You need to meet my friends…and show us how to do that” Referring to the Portuguese Knitting I was doing. So, I followed along, and the rest is history. This part, everyone who knows her believes.

Pam is a force of nature. No one seems to notice me frantically blinking out SOS with my eyes when we go to different events together. That’s not true, Dorothea did, but she told me it was too late. I did have a chance to escape at the very beginning, but much like small talk, I’m terrible at picking up cues.

This story starts with our Airbnb room, which was located over a pawn shop. The instructions are to pick up the key at the pawn shop before such and such a time. If after that time, please go to the bar next door, and the bartender will have your key. Barb, who was my roomie last year, and I arrive after said time. So, we go to the bar. We ask the bartender about our key, and he’s confused. So he hollers at this guy who’s sitting at the bar, much like Norm from Cheers. The guy confirms there is a key behind the bar, and we get our key.

It’s a lovely little room…but, the door doesn’t actually latch. As you can see from the featured picture, it’s a lovely door, but the deadbolt is what keeps the door closed. I met Pam on Friday, and we were to meet for lunch on Saturday. Barb had a class Saturday, whereas I did not. She picked up her keys from the table, and I closed and locked the door and went back to bed. Later, I got up and got ready for lunch…but…no key. Barb had taken the key, thinking it was her car keys, and I was too asleep to know. So…I was locked in. I couldn’t leave because the door wouldn’t even latch (much less lock), so I would have left all of our stuff in a room with the door wide open. I didn’t call Barb because she wouldn’t have had time to come back and get me and go back for her class. The end result being that Pam thought perhaps she had scared me away (as if!). Had I just let her believe that… I could have escaped her orbit.

BUT…where’s the fun in that? Pam persevered, and I said “Yes” and have had many adventures since, and am looking forward to next weeks adventures! See, don’t you want to help me make new, exciting stories?

Monday Musings

Ma’am, you need to leave

I’m going to tell you a story that even my knitting ladies haven’t heard yet.  This just happened this past Thursday. I wish I could say that Thursday was the first time I’ve heard those words from a bouncer…We all know that that’s not going to be the last time, either.

Poopie and I went to Portland for a concert.  You’ll soon find that concert knitting is something I take VERY seriously.  I have to take lighting, seating, and table space into consideration.  There are some places which have surprisingly good accommodations for crafting, and I can do relatively complex work.  Thursday’s venue, however, isn’t one of those.  It doesn’t often even have seating.  So, the knit hat is what I generally take to work on when I’m headed that direction.  I can knit the hat standing and I can even do it in the dark, if need be.  These are but two reasons why it is absolutely my go to project on the go. However, I do need to make sure I have cast on prior to arriving, as that can be a problematic step to do standing up in the dark.

Well, Thursday was my lucky day.  While Poopie made his way to the front at the stage, I went up to the balcony and found a seat!  Up at the stage, one of those blurry guys is Poopie, he’s looking down at his phone. 20180201_193513.jpgHere in the foreground, you see the brim.  I’m that far along before the opening act got onstage.  When it’s general admission, you gotta get there early.

Prior to the concert beginning, I listened to a podcast on my iPod, and knitted.  Once the opening act started, I turned off my iPod, but kept the ear buds in.  This, Dear Reader, is why I can still hear even after all these years of being married to Poopie and going to all those concerts.  My earbuds double as earplugs.  So, still knitting along around and around in 1 x 1 rib, just listening to opening act vs. podcast.

When the opening act was done, a hand landed on my arm.  My neighbor in the next seat over asked me what I was knitting.  I told her I was knitting a hat.  “Oh, like a tuque?”  (Clearly, she is from Canadia).  I confirmed that’s what I was knitting.  She complimented my color choice, and I thanked her.  A little later, she asked if I thought I would be done knitting the hat by the end of the concert.  I chuckled and said I didn’t think so.

I continued knitting and listened to the headliner, and knit, and knit, and knit some more.  Meanwhile, Poopie was up at the stage so he could gaze adoringly at the guitar players. Lo and behold! I did finish the hat.  But, by that time, I really wasn’t into doing the finishing work.  There was probably enough light, but I would have had to strain my eyes, and it wasn’t worth it, so I put it away and fidgeted my way through the last few songs.

As everyone was getting ready to leave, the same woman asked if I had finished my tuque? I said I had, mostly, but I needed to weave in the ends.  She asked if she could buy it from me? I apologized and said no because I hadn’t woven in the ends. The woman assured me that she didn’t mind the ends flopping all about.  So, I took the hat off the needles and handed it over to her.  I had asked her for what I thought was fair for an unfinished hat, and she gave me more than that, but less than she had pulled out to hand over (what she had pulled out was more than I ask for a finished hat). I would have woven in the ends, anyway, but the bouncer was giving us the bum’s rush.  How like me to irritate a bouncer because I’m trying to complete a knitting transaction.  There were still lots of people up in the balcony, so I don’t know why he was hovering over US.

That was my excitement for the week!  Poopie thinks that she wanted the hat as a souvenir of her experience at the show.  I tend to agree. I would love, love, love to hear this story from her point of view.

I had planned to take pictures and all of that, but my plans went awry.  I was probably going to use the hat in a scrap post because I was using up spare bits of yarn to make a striped hat.  The lighting, though didn’t make in process pictures very viable.  I was going to wait until the next day when I had better light.  But, my hat had a different destiny than what I thought. The story I thought I was going to tell changed and became a different story.  Honestly, that is a theme of my life…probably life in general.

I do wish that I had finished my calling cards, so I could have given her one.  While the mystery of me is good for her story, where will she get her future hand knit tuques from???  Although, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of being the mystery knitter in some woman’s story.

In case I haven’t been clear before, I try to copy Life After Work in many things.  I tell her it’s the sincerest form of flattery, which she seems to be buying so far.  I did have some business cards done up for La Tejedora Crafts. However, when I started the blog, I knew I needed to update them, and carry them around to pass out like calling cards (this is the part I’m stealing from L) instead of just “business” cards.  However, while I have the mock-up done, I haven’t taken the time to print and cut the cards themselves. I’ll be doing that, you can be sure!

Monday Musings

Zen and the art of crafting

I flagrantly paraphrased the title of a wonderful book.  But I love the title of this post, and think I may unpack this over several posts.  (holla back to my yarn wall!!)
Today was a Monday.  Let me tell you, it was MONDAY.  It started off literally with me having to send an “All the best” email.  For those of you who don’t work with me, that’s how I say “FU” in a professional email.  Everyone I know in any sort of customer service gig has a phrase like that, like “Have a nice weekend”, or “Enjoy your day”.  How are we to deal with these days? Well, I craft.
“Zen is the “spirit of the valley,” not the mountaintop.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
…And so it is with me.  Crafting has been there for me in my valleys.  My very first yoga instructor explained how yoga/meditation can create some space around ourselves.  A mental moat, if you will.  That moat gives you space to respond to, rather than react to people and situations.  Many articles have been written about the difference between the two, and how important that difference is.  Reacting is sending the email that says “had you read the previous email, jerkwad…”  Responding is “all the best”.  Actually, responding is probably “I’m sorry you feel that way”.  “All the best” lives somewhere in the middle.  This is a journey, Dear Reader, I’m not there yet.
Even before I understood what meditation was about, I think I was meditating while crafting.  As I form a stitch, or spin a length, or any of the myriad tasks I complete on my way to my finished project, it is almost as if I enter an altered state.  While I engage one part of my brain to do my craft, another part is processing complex thoughts and feelings.  More articles talk about what meditation can be.  I have taken from my research* that anything done mindfully can be a form of meditation.
I find it difficult to do traditional meditation.  I know I’m supposed to let the thoughts pass through, but I seem to pick at them.  When all I’m tasked with is paying attention to my breathing, I get bored.  It’s not good to admit.  But, Dear Reader, if I don’t admit to the two (ha!) shortcomings I have, you’ll never think I can relate to you.  When I am crafting, though, I don’t seem to need to to pick at the thoughts.  They can come and go.  I can pay attention to them, or not.  That little bit of attention to what my hands are doing is all it takes for me to enter into the appropriate head space.
Not every project is a good Zen candidate, though.  You need something that you can “zone out” doing.  That thing depends on your familiarity with the craft in question.  It also depends on what you need out of the project. Something that is technical for you may not give the “Zen” experience. In fact, there have been many times in my crafting where I’ve needed to meditate to deal with what I’m trying to craft!  Crafting to solve my crafting problems! It’s crazy!!!!  (We’ll talk later about what those more complicated projects can do for you mentally)
Granted, crafts don’t start out as being calming or soothing.  I remember directly after teaching DeAnna to knit, her telling me I was crazy for thinking she’d ever find knitting relaxing.  Well, no, not while you are learning.  But it wasn’t even a couple of months later that she related a story about being irritated with her 70 kids (there are actually *only* five), and one of them brought her her knitting bag because he thought she needed the stress release.  She has many stories of using knitting as a stress relief (which is what meditation is supposed to do, right?).  The point is not to take up crafting in the hopes that you will suddenly find Nirvana.  Unless you hid “Nevermind” in the bottom of your craft basket.
If, however, you have already taken up a craft, see if maybe you can use it as meditation.  Is there something repetitive that you do in this craft that needs you to pay just a little attention? I, personally, have many projects going at the same time.  Each has a purpose, and one purpose could be meditation.  Even if you don’t have an entire project for this purpose, you may find that within a project, there is a step you dread because it’s mind numbingly boring.  Instead of looking at it as boring, does it help to use it to see if you can turn it into meditation? (I’m looking at you miles and miles of stockinette stitch in the body of a sweater–and don’t think I don’t see you quilt binding that needs to be hand stitched…)
Crafting has the added benefit of being “useful”.  It gives us an “excuse”.  While we can discuss the reasons why it’s BS that we need excuses, the fact remains that excuses make things easier.  You don’t have to explain you don’t want to talk to anyone today because you sent five “all the best” emails.  You are crafting.  You don’t have to react to your family member’s questionable political view, because look, that stitch just dropped. Hunh, where did that go?  And those days you just can’t even? For literally no reason other than it’s Thursday? Well, you’re being productive.  And you didn’t have time to shower because you had this project you needed to finish.  It’s not depression (unless it is, and if it is, get help for that shit, you are neither Superman, nor Wonder Woman)
That’s not to say that those who are close to you won’t know.  But just as it’s easier for you not to have that argument, it’s easier for them as well to not have that argument.  You don’t have to explain you need to decompress.  You don’t have to explain that yes, you are just sitting there doing nothing, but that in itself is doing something.  You are making Things.  And if secretly, you are building a moat so that you don’t scoop out their eyeballs with a spoon to feed to feral dogs, well, we can let that be our secret (that was oddly specific–unless you live in my head–in which case, it was just specific).
The featured photo is a gift for Barb.  It was Zen crafting at its finest!!  I spun the yarn, and was able to be soothed by that.  And then, the pattern was simple enough and repetitive enough that I was able to be soothed by the making of the scarf as well!
*there are no sources cited.  This is a blog, not a dissertation.  Use Google, like I had to!