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Bring it!

Friend L, who first inspired my blog writing, has re-vamped herself and her blogging.  She can now be found at On Pens & Needles.  I have updated my sidebar to reflect this.  You may wonder at my posting on a Tuesday.  I do not normally do so, as this is the day Poopie and I set aside as date night.  However… I’m making an exception tonight. And let me tell you why…

Last week, L asked if I would like to start walking with her in the mornings.  I agreed (I must hate myself).  She makes me get up at the butt crack of dawn…5:30, and I proceed to hike over hill and dale to the tune of almost 3 miles.  This is after spending all weekend working in the yard.  And…to be honest, I’ve done very little excercise-wise in several months.  I only bring this up to point out that L has kicked my ass.

Does she feel bad about this? Who knows.  What I do know, though, is that I found out last night…along with the rest of the world…that my DEAR FRIEND has thrown down a gauntlet.  I have to wonder about the timing.  I am weak from lack of sleep.  All my muscles are screaming at me.  And this is when my supposed friend decides to throw a mental challenge my way?

I tell you, with friends like these…

So, in future walks, L and I will be hashing out the details.  In the meantime, please enjoy the pattern, and Franklin Habit’s words: Lady’s Travelling Cap.  The featured image was stolen from Knitty.com.

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.

 

 

Friday Fails and Fixes

Party foul

Last night, Poopie and I were going to support some friends by watching their band play.  However, it was a venue I had never been to before.  Poopie hadn’t been there in a very long time.  Dear Reader, you know what that means…I had no idea what to take to work on.  The comparable bar Poopie suggested I use as a guide happens to have a well lit table in the back, I can’t count on that.

I started a concert hat just in case.  20180222_141950.jpgBut…I had some projects half started from Madrona.  Plus another thing I just started (which is not the shawl I’m supposed to make for Sheri, because I suck).  IMG_20180222_194635.jpgPlus spinning, plus…plus…plus… So, I just packed a little of everything. There’s the weaving on the knitting loom that hopes to become a hat someday.  There’s the new hat.  There’s the drop spindling.

We vaguely knew where the new-to-us venue is located, and went there.  We pulled into a cruddy parking lot, and saw our friends’ car, so we knew we were in the right place.  Huzzah! The Facebooks told us that our friends’ duo was going to be a solo since their poor children had come down with the plague.  We walked into the bar, which was NOT situated for live music.  Ok…many bars aren’t really set up for that.  However, we didn’t see our friend.  How weird.  Poopie didn’t think much of it, though.  He went to get us drinks.

Meanwhile, I am trying to use the information from my Madrona class on social media.  I was taking the picture of all my stuffs and typing up a caption for Instagram when he came back.  He brought the largest White Russian I’ve seen outside of my kitchen.  The featured image shows that it’s in a diner’s juice glass.  He also brought menus, just in case.  “Huh” he said.  I was happily typing on my phone..clickity clack.  “What?” I asked without looking up (I can be rude like that).  “We are in the wrong place.  I guess that explains why our friend isn’t here.”  Sure ’nuff…

SO…if you were to follow me on Instagram (latejedoracrafts), you would see the picture, and the caption, which says: “When Poopie makes me go to a new venue, I need to pack ALL THE PROJECTS. Also. We are in the wrong venue.”  I find me hilarious.  I had believed from my class that the post would also share to my Facebook page (La Tejedora Crafts).  I was wrong.  Apparently, I have to go in and check it over? I’ll have to do more research to see if I can make it auto-cross-pollinate

In my defense, I was busy hating on Kristi (not her real name) during my class.  She was loud, obnoxious, and was clearly always right…even when she wasn’t (no! she was not me!).  It started off with her being snotty about my laptop “I don’t know why people spend thousands of dollars on a laptop when a tablet will do everything a laptop does”.  Except, Kristi couldn’t figure out how to log into the WiFi, and had to ask for the password like five times (take that!).  It went downhill from there.  I mentally added an “e” to the end of her name.  She strikes me as someone who would HATE that.  She kept talking over the teacher, and interrupting.  At one point, the teacher was working with a student one on one, and Kristie (notice the e??) just started asking her random questions from across the room.  All this means that the instructor was not able to share as much as she probably planned, nor was I able to glean as much as I wanted.  But…I know how to Google.  It’ll happen, just slowly and painfully.  Kristie will forever be my social media scapegoat.

Back to last night…I chugged that White Russian.  It wasn’t very good.  I think they were running out of Kahlua? What it lacked in flavor, it made up for in volume.  (insert NSFW joke here) We went across the parking lot to the correct bar.  It was what I imagined it would be.  There really wasn’t a stage space.IMG_20180222_225216.jpg  The tables were lit with Beer signs.  There was even a large biker dude, complete with motorcycle patches on his leather jacket.  Also, he had an itty bitty dog with its own leather vest.  Apparently, it was a support dog? The dichotomy was startling to say the least.

While the various bands played, I worked on the loom weaving. As you can see from the beginning of the night, to the end, it’s relatively quick work.  And I can do it by the light of the beer sign.  This post and caption DID happen to make it from Instagram to Facebook.  My social media ineptitude is making me fear I am totally turning into my mother.  Pretty soon, I’ll be over-using and abusing emojis in my texting.  (Don’t ask, I have a rant all prepared concerning my mom’s texting habits)

So, last night’s party fouls were only somewhat failures.  We made it to the right place (eventually), and were able to show music love.  It ended up just being a hiccup in the process.  Hopefully, the continuing social media fails will be hiccups in the process.  And even if they are not, they are apparently making good blog fodder.  Just please, as much as I love my mother, don’t let me turn completely into her.

Totally off topic, I’m writing this in a coffee shop, and this couple next to me are clearly on a first date.  Spoiler alert, he is NOT failing.  He’s making good eye contact, clearly listening, asking all sorts of follow up questions.

 

 

 

Friday Fails and Fixes

Madrona day 2

Remember how I told you I went to a sports ball event last week? Well, I won Blazers tickets at Christmas party for my day job.  My plan originally was to give them to Thing 2 and her S.O. for Christmas. However, Poopie thought it might be fun/interesting to go to the game.  So, last Thursday night, we went.  As you can tell, our seats were nosebleed seats (third row from the top).  Which means that Poopie and I were both terrified we would randomly fall over, and tumble to our deaths.  Neither one of us is really into any of the sports balls.  This was an experiment.20180208_185625.jpg

Wednesday, I realized that I needed to start another hat so I could knit while watching the sports ball tournament (full disclosure, I’m totally using the wrong terminology for purposes of aggravation).  I mentioned this to Poopie, and he asked me if I wouldn’t rather do a project where things change when there’s a score.  Don’t worry that this sentence didn’t make sense.  This happens in long term relationships (a friend and I have been known to have entire conversations without saying a single word). The important thing is that I knew what he was talking about.

Poopie was referring to one of the first classes (I think it was *the* first class, but don’t want to exaggerate) I took at a festival.  I don’t recall the name of the class.  But the instructor was Debbie New.  I had no idea who she was, but she had already written Unexpected Knitting.  This class was a very interesting take on patterning.  If you check out her book at the library, or purchase a copy, you will find that she is an insanely smart person.  This particular idea is a variation on the one she calls “Cellular Automaton” knitting.  It’s an idea taken from nature, where the environment dictates how the pattern develops.  (I really need to figure out what would be necessary to teach this technique) Anyhoo, I thought this sounded like a great idea for a souvenir of the sports ball event.

The idea *was* great.  The execution was not.

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pre-game

The first section here is my attempt at remembering what to do.  I separated it with a purl row.

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first quarter

Then we have the first quarter.  My plan was to do a yarn over each basket, and the direction of the decrease would be who made the basket, so right leaning would be us, and left leaning would be them.  I chose to do lace vs. a knit/purl patterning because the yarn is speckled and fuzzy.

20180209_195024-e1518808865120
second quarter

What that means, though is that the “wrong” side is generally stockinette, so I can’t “record” any points during my knitting back section.  So, you can see partway through, I gave up on that, and did yarn overs regardless of right or wrong side.

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third quarter

I missed soooo many baskets though, because I was going off of crowd reaction.  I apparently dropped a bunch of stitches, because everything got smaller.

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fourth quarter

As you can see, the match went into overtime.  Poopie was less than enthusiastic about that.  Which made me unreasonably happy.

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OT hahahahaha

The featured photo is what I ended up with.  While I am perfectly happy with a random patterning, this just looked like I had no idea what I was doing.  Even if that is often true, I try not to advertise that.  It’s a secret between us, Dear Reader. So, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  I like the idea of a keepsake of the sports ball.  But I did NOT like the scarf.  I decided to take it out and start over.  Poopie reminded me to take pictures.  So here they are!!

Why, you may ask, am I talking about sports ball from last week when I’m at Madrona?  Well, this is the scarf that I was working on on the train.  So, there’s that.  I’ve restarted it, and re-did the rules.  I may post more specifics about it, but yesterday had a story that I thought would go well with Friday Fails and Fixes.

Remember how L was working on green? It’s a pattern that Madrona put out in 2014 for the event.  Well, yesterday, while waiting for Pam, L had to frog and tink and was *very* mildly irritated with a mistake somewhere in her knitting.  Meanwhile, I was knitting away on this scarf.  Then I got super excited.  I had had a mutation!20180215_162212-e1518840096919  There was some error somewhere, and the patterning I hadn’t even realized was occurring in my “random” stitches got messed up.  It may be difficult to tell, but the eyelets below the box tend to go up towards the right.  Regardless of how random the pattern is, the eyelet is always to the right.  However, you can see in the box that the eyelets are to the left of the row below. I got off a stitch somehow.  It was super exciting for me.  L thinks I should teach her this technique so that she can be excited for mistakes as well, rather than irritated. I told her I’d think about it.

So, in this post we have a couple of methods of dealing with failure.  We can be glad we tried something, but decide that it’s really not for us (sports ball games).  We can admit that something isn’t working in the form that it’s in and try something new (first scarf). Or, we can be excited to see what new fresh hell we’ve wrought exciting things we can discover (current scarf).  Regardless, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying new things!

 

This Must Be Thursday

Madrona Day 1

Greetings from Madrona!

Often, when going on a trip, I prefer to take an ease in day and an ease out day from work. These days are my transition days, which are necessary for my health, which means it’s necessary for others around me.

Yesterday was my transition day…ish. It was also my travel day. Poopie didn’t bring me coffee yesterday like he usually does. He was letting me sleep in. This meant I didn’t make an appointment he was unaware of. The next opportunity was going to be mid-day, which meant that I would be cutting my pick up time kind of close. Not close enough to be terribly concerning, so I rolled with it. I packed up before the appointment rather than after.

Since I’m taking five classes, I had a few items I needed to bring for supplies and homework. While all that fit in my carry on size suitcase, I wouldn’t be able to bring clothing. I have no idea what the nudity laws are like in Washington, but regardless, I chose to be clothed for this event. Which meant I had to take the giant suitcase. I told Poopie that I would be made fun of, and that I was sure that L would have all her stuff in a backpack. I was right on both counts (though it was a small duffle rather than a backpack). While Barb made fun of me, she had NO room to talk.

Thankfully, for my schedule, our train was late, and Amtrak was kind enough to let us know before hand. Or, past me was smart enough to sign up for text alerts…Tomayto, Tomahto. We bundled ourselves onto the train and had an enjoyable trip up.20180214_174118.jpg I’m not sure our compartment-mates found us as entertaining as we found ourselves and each other, but no one shushed us, so I consider that a win. L is knitting the green, while I’m knitting the stuff that’s reading as pink.20180214_174126.jpg

Pam was to pick us up, and then we had the typical comedy of errors of there apparently being two train stations within blocks of each other. Of course, we couldn’t both end up at the same train station. I have no idea how we did these things before cell phones, because it took us a while to figure things out, and we were texting and calling like the crazy ladies we are. 20180215_200950.jpgEventually, we found each other, and our respective Airbnbs (we’ll assume that’s the proper plural). Penny Lane was as charming as I remembered. I got a new welcome sign on the door.  Pam is my “& guest”.

We bundled back into the car to go to the hotel to check in to the festival. This is a wonderfully well run event, so that took no time at all. That is, once Pam was able to find the Giant Blue Light on top of the hotel. Have you heard of too many cooks in the kitchen? There may have been too many navigators in that car. How Pam managed not to smack us, I don’t know.

Then off to find food. YAY! Except the place we went to closed just before we got there. So we decided to pack our toys and go home…to the Airbnb. See, mine and Pam’s is above a bar. Barb and L’s is literally around the corner above a Pho place. We went to the bar, since the Pho place closed as well. I knew from last year that I liked the bar. The kicker for me last year was when I ordered an amaretto sour. They asked me if I wanted a small, or large glass. I’ve never been asked that before. I know this will shock you, Dear Reader, but I chose a large glass. Out came a pint glass. I knew then I had found my people. This year, however, there was no amaretto. Sad face.

After a yummy dinner, we went back to our rooms. Pam and I stayed up way too late talking. This morning, while drinking coffee she so generously made for me, Pam told me of her battle with a spider in the middle of the night that I slept through. She had also managed to get at least half a day’s work done before I even thought of waking up.

Unfortunately, Barb woke up ill. We are hoping it’s a 24 hour thing, but even if it goes 48 hours, I don’t believe she had any classes set for tomorrow. The remaining three of us headed off to learn at the feet of the great Franklin Habit. But before we get to that, we see that I broke my bag.  More on that later. 20180215_155327.jpg

Regular classes with Franklin are always full of history. Imagine how a class called Antique Vintage Knitting Patterns went? It was fascinating, as expected. The handout was very useful, and will be useful back at home. Not only did we learn how to read vintage patterns, he gave us some basic skills and practicum at reverse engineering extant items. Then he had us work from a vintage pattern, in a mini mystery KAL.  L and I have dared each other to make his Lady’s Traveling Cap.  Look forward to duelling blogs!

This is L’s first festival, and this was her first class. When I first saw this class description, I immediately thought of her. She has assured me that Franklin, the class, and the event has lived up to my hype so far. Thank goodness! I fear over-hyping things.

While I am writing this, Pam is in her afternoon class. Neither L, nor I have a class this afternoon, so L got to experience her first marketplace. I just *had* to replace my dollar store bag.  The featured image was the replacement.  Always trade up, Dear Reader.

Confession time, I may be an enabler. L is still holding firm right now. But I’ve already moved her from “no way will I learn to spin” to “well, how do you…?” All it took was showing her The Homestead Hobbyist’s booth. With colorways such as “Toxic Waste” and “Crime Scene”, how can she continue to resist?

I love this stage of a crafter. This is the stage of possibility. The stage of transition. Where a person goes from “not” to “beginning”. It’s exciting! Making room for the new, seeing how the new can mesh with the existing. She’s waffling right now. And who knows which way she’ll go? Even if she chooses not to take up spinning, seeing just for a moment how spinners look at fiber I think will benefit her in how she approaches fiber projects in the future.

Well, this is all for now. I don’t have classes tomorrow, but there’s still tons to do. Even if it’s just sitting in the corner listening to the chatter of fellow crafters while I while away the day with whatever project I bring, it’s great being here.

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!