Woodland Reprieve

Reprieve

After the day’s desk work, just before twilight I enter the star flower’s realm of reprieve. Even abundant woodland mosquitoes are welcome reminders to keep moving to limit their bites and provide a few discomfort souvenirs for my desk-ridden workdays ahead.

The star flower beauties on the forest floor are built upon sevens, seven petals, seven stamens, etc. Exactly the nudge I need from the universe. I have been dreaming of and hesitant to publish my first knitting pattern which is built on sevens, and here this little flower says, “just do it!” I shall call my first pattern Star Flower and I will get a final copy done in simple word processing this weekend. My excuses have been waiting to save enough to purchase design software to “do it right”, knitting enough samples to test the pattern, fearing my little contribution to the vast world of knitting design will be woefully inadequate and irrelevant, etc. I have bouquets of design ideas for big projects, but I must start somewhere small.

Past weeks, I have been frustrated by back pain for the first time in my life and truly feeling my body’s age shift gears even while my focus has been solidly on physical health. So when I entered the woods, my heart leapt in gratitude to this anonymous artist who left a Whidbey Rocks rock for me to find precisely when I needed to find the love emanating from it. Thank you for the joy!

I was able to identify the plant in the blurry photo below that looks like red asparagus. It is in fact a species not well understood that is a parasite on fungi to get its energy (fungi vampire?) and has no chlorophyll. Common name Pinedrops or Pterospora. Near the same location of this plant in past years, I have seen another one called Monotropa, Indian Pipe or ghost plant for it’s white ghostly stems. I think it’s awesome that right at our feet, life forms exist that we do not fully understand.

Happy Things

As you can see from this poorly lit photo, Buddha Doodles is part of my life.  So I am thrilled to learn of Molly’s latest adventure in her video below.

 

Knitting = happiness in my world.

So here is a little video of a work in progress (and a great gift idea for anyone who drools over yarn) that I intend to model as soon as I reach my weight loss goal of 50 pounds, which will likely coincide with a completed cardigan and cooler weather.

I am also participating in a Mystery Knit A Long (MKAL for those who speak top-secret knitting lingo) which means I have no idea what the final product will look like and I cannot post any photos to preserve the mystery for the several thousand knitters around the world who are participating in this one by designer Joji in Argentina. I’m crazy about her designs in general. We receive 5 clues at intervals over a two-month period. If anyone is a knitter, I recommend joining an MKAL if you can because it is way fun to partake in a mindfulness mystery.

 

Wonder Yarn

I Love Yarn – projects that have been and will be

Overwhelming Love

On the occasion of my 50th birthday in December, when family asked what I would like, I requested a German “Wonder Ball” my grandmother had given me at age 11.  I purchased enough yarn to make a sweater jacket for myself during 2017 and handed over two balls of yarn to family members. I had no idea they could possibly or would possibly fit 50 gifts inside!

In researching the origin of the German Wonder Ball (wunderknolle?) I ran across this rather amusing fragment from Good Housekeeping  magazine from 1903. Apparently it provides a source of amusement to healthy 21st century mid-lifers as well.

The wonder ball, much in use in Germany, is good as a means to both interest and amuse a child. It is made by winding a hank of worsted into a ball, stopping every now and then to wind in some little present. The nicest or most expensive gift should be placed in the center, while tiny boxes of pure chocolates may be only partially concealed near the surface. The recipient of the gift should knit until the little presents fall out. The wonder ball might very well prove a source of entertainment to an invalid.

Well, this week I finally got around to starting that sweater alongside my other projects, because while I am a master at delayed gratification, I could not continue hoping that somehow I would not be 50 if I put this off. Age happens.

I’ve been working on a video of gratitude featuring all the items pouring out of the Wonder Ball for my family, but since today’s WordPress prompt is yarn, how could I resist posting a bit of the progress so far?  Each night as I’ve devoted time to this, I have been so overwhelmed with love pouring out of the wonder ball that I actually had to put it down from time to time and pause. I’ve never quite experienced a collective gift like this before and am so happy I requested it. I highly recommend it as a form of mindful appreciation to gift anyone who crafts with yarn.

End goal, Laurel Cardigan, free pattern linked to image:

Starting Wonder Ball (yarn KnitPicks Preciosa Worsted):

All that remains of the ball is in this image where I have started the second sleeve. I don’t want the wonder to end!

Patterns in Process for my five-projects-at-once while working seven days a week double life:

  • Third Turtle Journey Shawl for my uncle’s family, in worsted rather than fingering weight to make one larger overall.
  • Kimono shoulder blanket.
  • Miss Grace shawl, because I ran into a local knitter wearing one she made and just had to ask.
  • A unisex hat pattern for a You & Me challenge thanks to a wonderful Australian couple’s podcast, Fruity Knitting, where you knit something for yourself and someone you care about that has a connecting theme, style or yarn. I chose my dad since it dawned on me I have never made anything for him even though I care about him immensely, and he asked for a hat that goes over the ears. I might give a go at converting this Japanese arrow pattern I love and design the hats myself.

If I could make a living with yarn, walking, traveling. Ah, heaven. For now, I binge learn everything I can about what yarn artists are doing around the world. So much I do not know. Should you want me to knit something for you special order, contact me here. Knitting every day keeps me happy. : )

New Creations Birthed

Looks a bit opaque

Many thanks to designer Ambah O’Brien for her Xuan wrap, which means “spring” in Vietnamese. Her wonderful designs can be found on Ravelry here. This was my first go at learning mosaic technique for color work. Here is a description of Mosaic, for those interested.

This wrap/shawl will be sold to the highest bidder as a fundraiser for my daughter’s exchange year to Poland. She will model it for her gofundme page soon.

Rust and golden wool is super soft, rich hand-dyed color, and is thanks to Palouse Yarn Company. I had the opportunity to walk into the glorious vortex that is The Yarn Underground in Moscow, Idaho while chaperoning my daughter’s band for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival last year. Awesome, awesome yarn selection and staff.

Center color is Matrika Sugar Maple from Seven Sisters Arts whose owner has a degree in plant & soil science as well as nursing that she uses to create her amazing dyes. When I win the lottery, I would love to invest in a truckload of her yarns.

The second of three turtle journey shawls to honor my uncle is now blocked. Yipee!  This pattern can be found on Ravelry here. One more to go in forest & cucumber greens, and then photos without the pins will be taken.

Yarns are:

  1. KnitPicks Preciosa, waves from Expression Fiber Arts.
  2.  Wonderland, waves from Expression Fiber Arts.

If anyone would like to request a commission, feel free to contact me on my Knits page. I especially love making shawls, cowls, blankets, sweaters, but am up to give anything a go.

 

Feeling Helpless?

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Mother/Grown fawn visited me yesterday after months away – carvings gifted by my sister to honor my deer connection with this pair

Small actions shake the web of life. We may never see outcomes, but all I know is we have to speak our voices and throw our intentions out there, because otherwise it is as if we did not exist while we were here.

Actions can be on different frequencies. Prayer is powerful. If all you have to your name is nothing but a body, you can sit and focus your mental energies somewhere to benefit someone.

Here are three small actions I have taken to throw my pennies into the wishing well of humanity, posting in hopes they might inspire others.

ONE

Today, to honor the Standing Rock Sioux call to prayer, I will be holding a water ceremony of my own. I have been doing private ceremonies for a while, and the only thing stopping me at first was the question, “Is this okay to do even if I’m not a Native or spiritually trained?” The answer I arrived at is YES. The only requirement to support the field of water protection is intention. You might consider taking a small amount of any water source you feel is sacred (Hint: ALL water is sacred) and bring it to stand before a larger body of water. State your intention however your heart feels, whatever comes naturally. Mindfully pour your sacred water into the earth in front of the water source so that it may join the larger body. Mine goes something like:

“May all Water Protectors be protected and Earth’s waters restored. May all life dependent upon water be protected. May every cell carrying water in my body be protected.”

Here is a hub of actions people can design over the next months in support of Standing Rock:  Every Day Of Action

In light of THIS, it is not off base to think that soon environmental impact statements may not be allowed anywhere.

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Water cowl I am knitting

TWO

Knit for others

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Basket weave cowl

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THREE

I contributed my healthcare story to this Lifesaver Book collecting stories from 50 states. I listen to arguments against Obamacare. I do acknowledge there are many states seeing much larger spikes in premiums than in my own state, that there are many who do not fall in the income bracket the subsidies benefit, and I do know several states refused to implement it from the very beginning so their citizens never got a clear picture of its benefits. But for those of us the law has benefited, we must speak. If you feel called to distribute this storybook to your members of Congress as changes are in process, please do.

Fluid Uncertainty in 2017

There are many opportunities I am intensely grateful for in 2016. One of them was an online course beamed from Pema Chodron’s Abby in Nova Scotia. Another is spending the last few weeks in a group contemplating fearlessness. It all feels like preparation for turning the calendar.

No matter what side of the sociopolitical divide, I can’t think of a more resonant title for 2017 in the midst of global and personal shifts than this book of Pema Chodron’s. (click image to order)

9781590300787

Absorbing teachings and humor allow me a deeper understanding of ways to work with uncertainty. Plenty of opportunities ahead to practice remaining fluid and not getting too rigidly stuck in worry and anxiety about potentials for disaster during a time period many people are sensing is apocalyptic to scary to plain sad.

My body certainly tenses every time I read the news, and my mind spins to what if I lose my health insurance subsidy and cannot afford to insure my child, etc. And what if leadership of the largest energy consumer on the planet speeds up climate change to the point there is no more chocolate or coffee in my lifetime? I personally cannot imagine a world without chocolate or coffee, but I do understand these are extremely selfish reasons to want to slow climate change. Thinking about such dietary fallout is one way I am able to laugh at myself and my first world problems and keep tragic real-life consequences for millions of people and beings from ruling my inner life.

Since where we focus grows, I am receiving a strong intuition to work on peace generation in 2017 and attempt to host a few groups on this topic. How few of us actually know what peace means to us? What peace feels like inside our body? To contemplate how to be a peace generator even without a master’s degree in communication skills or military training. Is it possible to be a peace warrior without embodying hatred and anger toward the “other” and/or take decisive action while being peaceful?

Examples I see of peace warriors are Black Lives Matter, Water Protectors, and feminists. Fear and backlash against these organic movements arising from imbalance in a larger system is to misunderstand their intended meaning. Where in “black lives matter” does it say any other lives don’t matter? Where in “a belief in equal rights and opportunities for women and men” does it indicate men must be demeaned? What in water and earth protection threatens human life?

All I know is, after a decade of working on this topic inside myself and being barraged with many occasions to practice, I have finally turned a corner where things make sense that never made sense before. I am able to have strong emotions and let them go quicker, sprout ideas for positive action to shift my situation from fear to equanimity.

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Knitting as a Path to Peace?

In 2016 I knit more than I ever have before, (and crocheted for a young child my first ever stuffed critter – Totoro). And I feel more peaceful. I imagine any type of creative endeavor can harvest similar results. In a 2014 survey of over 3,100 knitters/crocheters, people reported:

  • Feeling of accomplishment (93%)
  • Reduced Stress (85%)
  • Improved Mood (68%)
  • Sense of confidence (56%)

Very similar to reported results of regular meditation. It’s pretty difficult to be an agitated, angry knitter, though I suppose needles might come in handy to defend yourself in a dark alley if necessary. Other writers on trends have commented about a rise in knitting post 9/11, a sort of “nesting” phenomenon.

Possibly not all knitting is docile. There is yarn bombing, a not-so-peaceful moniker for a trend started by this artist who prefers to be referred to as a street artist, not yarn bomber. She took traditional home-bound work to the streets and inspired many others. If past trend is any indication of future, I imagine 2017 will see one more spike in knitting demographics.