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Knitting at the top 10 percent of my ability


My Dad used to recommend skiing at the top 10 percent of your ability- his thought was that you wouldn’t improve if you just coasted along on the easy runs.
For the past several years, I have been skiing at probably the bottom 10 percent of my ability- teaching the kids to ski, then saying, “oopsy! time for hot chocolate!” or “brrrrr… lets go warm up!”

The knitting is finished, but the finishing isn't even started.

This past week or so I have been knitting at my highest difficulty level, though. It all started when I got a library book about the history of Bohus knitting, and kind of made up a yoked sweater pattern, based on a design from the book. Knitting it went smoothly enough ,I finished that in November. I put the sweater into a tote back next to my closet door because of what had to come next. steeking, which means stabilizing the stitches on either side of the center front, then cutting, thus turning a pullover into a cardigan. Scary.

Deep breaths, just snip, and it will be fine.

I committed this week to doing it, though, so I checked multiple internet sources, picked up button bands, and this morning, got out the brand new sewing scissors, and cut. Many sources recommend a glass of wine at this step, but seeing as how it was only 9:30, I decided against it.

The newly-knitted button bands will fold over the raw edge.

There will be a few more finishing steps, like sewing down the button bands and picking up and knitting the collar. I plan to park on the couch, watch some episodes of Downton Abbey. I hope to wear my new sweater this next week.

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Fuzzy Purple Mittens


It's so fuzzy!

January is for starting new things, right? Is that why I have started knitting a cat bed for the guest room, two pairs of lace socks, a pair of purple mittens, and a lace cowl?

The cowl and mittens are to match my new jacket (umm, is it new if I got it two years ago? yes, because my not-new jacket I got 11 years ago, and my old jacket was purchased in 1990) They are also kind-of my school colors- burgundy and silver. I am scheduled for parking lot duty soon, and I wanted some layers with a “be true to your school” kind of theme.
When I was planning the mittens, I wasn’t sure what yarn to use- I thought I would have to buy some, thinking, “oh, I don’t have any  purple, this must mean a trip to the yarn store.” Then the voice of reason said, “seriously? no purple yarn?” and I looked in my stash. Of course there was purple yarn.

There was a ball of solid purple mohair that I remember getting at the sheep festival a couple of years ago- no label anymore. I had started a blanket with it, but decided I didn’t like it. It has been sitting in a ziplock bag for 3 years. I also had some purple and grey mohair that I had gotten on sale, for the same blanket project. It was time to make something with them.
The mitten project is easy- look at http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/FEATmittens101.html for a quick tutorial- make a mini mitten, and you’ll learn everything you need to know. Knitting in the round, decreasing and grafting are the big skills. They go pretty quickly- I was able to make these during a couple of tae kwon do classes and a night of TV. If you are nervous about moving on from scarves or blankets, mittens are a good next move- useful, and people lose them enough that it makes sense to make them. I know I have lost multiple pairs of mittens, in a way that I don’t lose socks or hats. Or sweaters… I hardly ever lose sweaters…

 

March 17 edited to add: Yes, I lost one, about a month after I made them. Sigh.  I weighed the surviving mitten, and weighed the yarn I had left, and am working on another one (yes, I looked for it!) I wouldn’t have bothered, except they are predicting snow for Monday.

Exercising Willpower


I learned recently about the idea of will being like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to be strong. I guess before I thought it was like a talent, something some people are born with, like mechanical aptitude, or great hair. but two things have changed my mind about this: I read in a yoga magazine about the idea that the front of your body embodies desire, and the back embodies will. Both sets of muscles must be strong, and will must follow desire. Strong belly, strong back, strong back, strong belly.

Is desire stronger for a lot of us? So many people tell me, “I wish I spoke Spanish,” and I have to tell them that wishing isn’t enough, they have to do it. The same goes for learning to knit, or play music, or anything you desire- the will to do it has to follow.
The other thought I have had about willpower is that most of us try for willpower on the big things in life- quitting smoking, or changing our diet, rather than exercising our willpower on little things for practice. Is there anything bigger than changing your diet? We all try, at one time or another, then discover it’s too big, and blame ourselves for lack of willpower.
I have been training myself-  putting post-it notes on my computer that remind me to do things.  Simple things, mostly- like “stretch” or “menu plan.” As I do them, I feel this satisfaction that I am exercising my will. Yeah, there are benefits to stretching, and to planning out a menu once a week, but the other benefit is that I am doing something simply because I will it.
I have also gotten in the habit of cleaning the kitchen sink every night before I go to bed- no dishes to soak, no goopy pans. Most nights, it is a pain, but most mornings, it is a joy to have a clean sink. I will it to be so!
We have an older house, and there are a lot of little things wrong with it, that I have desired to have fixed, but haven’t had the will to follow through on. So, now that my will is stronger, I have started to work on home projects- not crafty ones, but things that can be defined as “handy.” Things that involve caulk, and levels, and maybe the rental of a heat gun. Projects that I have “desired” to be done, but until now, haven’t had the will to do myself. These are projects that I want to accomplish, that I will accomplish. (slowly, and with plenty of mistakes, I’m sure- watch this space)
So, what do you do to exercise your will? Not resolutions, but things that you desire, and are willing into existence?