December 30, 2011 - 10:06 am

I am doing something uncharacteristic for me, and setting goals going into the new year.  I *think* the timing derives more from having a couple weeks of reflection time than from some sense of seasonal obligation.  I know myself well enough by now to be aware I will only make changes if they are internally motivated.  Extrinsic factors like the social pressure to make “New Year’s resolutions” or to lose weight for someone else or the like simply don’t work for me.  I also know I need to begin quietly, test how things feel, find my way into the new patterns before discussing them with the world.  It’s been a week now, more or less, and I’m ready to share.

I have begun to add two things to my routine:

1) Belly dance.  Because I need to remember to take joy from movement. 

I expect I will reap benefits in health and self concept, but the impetus is joy.  I want to move, I want to dance, and I have always absorbed the message from my parents and others that I’m too fat to dance without looking ridiculous.  Fuck’em all. 

2) I will do one thing I have been procrastinating each morning before noon.

Taking something off the “later” pile and doing it NOW is so good for me.  Not only do I accomplish the thing itself, I reduce the emotional pressure of all the things I feel I ought to do but haven’t, and I increase my confidence in my ability to do all the things, or at least more of the things. 

This past Saturday I organized my sewing station, which has never been properly set up since I moved in here but rather piled in a disorganized heap.  As part of cleaning up and organizing I decided to complete a bathrobe for D which was meant to be a present last winter- he’s scarcely been out of it while in the house since. The impetus of the clean-up effort got me to complete it rather than put it away unfinished. Riding the momentum of success, Sunday I picked up a quilting project that had been in my pile of unfinished things for a decade, sewed up all the pieces I had cut, and here is the outcome:

Quilt progress

And this is the schematic for what it will become:

Quilt schematic

The colors aren’t reproducing very well on my screen at least- each block has a saturated and a pastel half, as well as a cool and a warm half, with all 4 variants- cool/pastel, cool/saturated, warm/pastel, warm/saturated. This is a variant on a Log Cabin Barn Raising pattern, arranged to also evoke something like an oriental carpet.  It will be a bedspread.  The blue areas will be solid panels quilted color-on-color, so they will be about texture, not color. It’s going to be awesome, both in terms of the amount of work required and the eventual FO.

Monday I tackled some healthcare nonsense from the very large stack of procrastination represented by the pile on my desk, and then dug out another half completed sewing project long overdue to a good friend, which will be mailed out today.  I think they’ll be happy with the outcome.  🙂

Tuesday was more healthcare stuff, and I started working through another thing off the paperwork stack.  I also started investigating belly dance.  I found both local classes and online video classes.  This series is awesome, for anyone else interested in joining in on belly dance exploration with me.

Wednesday was, alas, more of the healthcare crap.  Good gracious I loathe the pharma-health-insurance conglomerate.  It is just WRONG that I’m one of the fortunate few with “good” health insurance, and yet I can’t get some of my doctor’s prescriptions covered.  The tests he required to determine what was wrong with me last month are also being contested as “not medically necessary.”  Afterwards I tried the belly dance videos for the first time, and more work on the quilt.

Thursday I completed some minutia at work I’ve been procrastinating for months, then practiced dance for an hour, followed by picking up the Blue Mud project again and knitting a couple inches on the sweater body.

This morning I gave the kitchen a deep down scrubbing, removing everything from the surfaces and cleaning, wiping cabinet faces, scouring the sink.  I am determined we will get back in the habit of cooking more meals than we eat out.  I was dancing around the kitchen while I cleaned, practicing the exercises I’ve been learning and shaking out the inevitable stiffness that comes along with a new routine.

I feel good.  I feel VERY good.  I have awakened from the vitamin D deficiency fog, and I’m in the process of clearing the backlog of cruft that’s accumulated while I was effectively absent.  I’m moving again, I’m creating again.  I am moving into the new year in a new frame of mind, both back to myself and more myself, or perhaps more aware of what it means to be myself than I have been in ages.  If ever.  It’s a beautiful place to be; life seems full of good possibility. I am looking forward, and moving forward, with confidence and joy.

Making Mud

December 2, 2011 - 4:03 pm

For the past couple years my design effort has been focused on socks.  Turning a simple curve, wrapping around the contours of a foot and leg, these have been the focus of my efforts and time.  But since October I’ve begun shifting my attention to a sweater.

When I started creating my own knitting shapes I started with toys and sweaters, but found when I wanted to write the designs I didn’t have the skills to do so. My interest in design and my interest in socks hit at about the same time, so it’s not surprising they became intertwined.  The majority of my published patterns are socks.  I’ve made conventional designs, slightly quirky designs, and zomg off into the hinterlands odd designs.  Socks have enough geometry to be intriguing, but not so much as to be intimidating.  I have developed the chops to be able to write a sock pattern before I pick up my needles and be fairly confident of having a comfortable, wearable, attractive FO at the end of the process. To be sure I’m not done learning about writing designs so other folks can follow them, but I’m developing my confidence.

Now, though, I am ready to up the ante, expand my horizons, do something new and dangerous. A week or so before Rhinebeck I picked up some powder blue Rowan Kid Classic yarn, and knit a little sweater shaped swatch.



My idea, roughly, is to replicate my favorite yellow Ingenue sweater in shape, but do something entirely my own in design.


At first I was taking detailed notes, but I rapidly let that go.  There was a lot of ripping.  A LOT of ripping.  I wanted to work this as a circular yoke, with a snowflake shaped lace motif to hide the increases, but couldn’t get the motif to work.  I gave up, and went back to a raglan design, with a little two stitch twist along the raglan line.  The collar is worked with short rows to be asymmetric, and off center.


I’ve added short rows to the sleeve caps and full bust.  The raglan lines divide the stitches into 4 equal sections, and about half way down the twist diverges from the raglan line.


I don’t know yet if this will work the way I want it to.  My idea is for the broken rib pattern to form an hourglass shape, with a plain stockinette panel in the front decreasing to the waist and then increasing, and the broken rib pattern increasing and then decreasing, amplifying the wearer’s natural contours.

It may work.

There may be more ripping.

I’m concerned at the moment there may be too many sts across the back.  Perhaps I should have stopped the raglan increases there when I started the diverging line in the front.  We’ll see as I get further.

I have given myself permission to make mud.  Meaning, I can mess up as much as I need to.  This doesn’t have to come out right.  I think I will have a nice sweater at the end of the exercise, but I may yet end up with a misshapen lumpy thing and a learning experience.  I don’t have to get anywhere.  I don’t need to keep careful notes so I can grade this later into a publishable pattern.  This sweater will be a one of a kind learning experience.  I’m learning to make a sweater.

I will rip and re-knit, ponder, then rip some more.  Tweak and explore and consider ways to make this sweater skim nicely without having too much bulk where I want less or being too tight where I want to keep a little mystery about the underlying contours.  Perhaps in the end get frustrated and just finish the damned thing with some flaws, or perhaps drop it in a UFO basket to be ignored for years.  Even so, it will have served its purpose.

I need to learn how to create a sweater, so mud I shall make.  Creative, fuzzy, fluffy blue mud.