Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Check, please.

Oh, was this supposed to be my KNITTING blog? I think John Lennon said it best: Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. It's all good, but - sheesh! – I've hardly even been able to knit, let alone blog about it. I'll get the personal stuff out of the way here. Tomorrow it's all knitting - I promise.

If you've been looking me up lately you'll know that I kicked up my get off the couch plan. That's really a whole lifestyle adjustment with it's own baggage and emotional repercussions and it has taken a lot of my focus even while not actively on the hoof. So I’m back digging in the personal stables for my pony and much of the work is rough and raw. I have to take more responsibility for my emotional well-being as well as my physical well-being, as the latter is a consequence and symptom of the former. And probably vice versa. I really can't fix one without the other.

Meanwhile, I declared another intention for 2007, to cast a wider net professionally in my performing career, and I blithely sent that off into the ethereal universe. Yee Har!!! Yeah. Sure. Careful what you wish for. Now, of course, I’m receiving all kinds of (usually last minute) info about audition calls for musical theatre and commercials (and some opera too), and I’m scrambling to get my act together for them. It’s all good, I suppose, but with the aforementioned not-so-little personal reclamation project I haven't been singing all that much and even if I do get the pipes working I am just not in the mood to put on my best Ethel Merman persona. Yeah. I know. Cry me a river. I should never complain about being able to do what I love for a living, so please bear with me, but it can very hard to shake the emotional manure off in the middle of mucking out the personal stables in order to go out and *Be a Star*.

Well enough about me. (typical self-involved diva: "but enough about me - how did YOU like my last show?") Never let it be said the universe does not provide reminders to stop bemoaning our own disappointments and count our blessings. I was trolling some of my favourite knitblogs during a bout of insomnia last night and I came across this reality check while visiting Not-so-Mean girl Jen and Crazy-like-a-fox Aunt Purl:

Allison is a self-employed craft-supplier Mom with a gorgeous three month old baby, Evan. As if there wasn't enough going on, what with her online store and the new baby and all: Evan was diagnosed with a brain tumor and will soon be travelling to Phoenix for baby brain surgery. Those last three words should never have to appear in the same sentence, and hopefully someday they never will. But since they do, I have the urge to do something - anything - to help.

If you've been hankering to upgrade your fibre intake or need a Very Good Reason to cheat on your 2007 yarn diet (we get one day off a month, don't we?) please come visit Allison at SuperCrafty - her online yarn and needle and pattern and notion shop. Her prices are good, she's very fast with response to queries and usually ships orders in 24 hours or even the same day.

You can also go to Allison's blog and make a donation to the brain surgery fund. The LAST thing they need to be worrying about right now is medical expenses! With your help we can defray at least that part of their concern. If we can chip in to help someone buy a spinning wheel or a loom, just imagine the mojo we have to support these brave parents determined to make a healthy and happy future for their son. Thank God the medical intervention exists that will hopefully help them do that.

Evan has the first review of his MRI and medical records next week at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, so they should know more about the treatment options soon and Allison will post updates on her blog. Meanwhile, let's send them some love from the fibre and knit-blogging community. Keep them in your prayers.

All my best wishes for Evan, his mommy Allison and his daddy Jeff. Evan's already blessed to have you for parents and that's a great way to start. Have faith!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Run-A-Go-Go! Week number four:
Return to Active Duty! Hurrah!
[21/01/07 thru 27/01/07] 5 miles
15 miles down, 85 to go.

I shook off my lethargy, honoured my impulse to get up and go at midnight on Tuesday, and we went out and walked a mile. Then we did another mile and a half on Wednesday night. Thursday and Friday were spent in unapologetic hibernation: I don't care what any meteorologist says, but minus double digits with severe (skin destroying) windchill is not a high unless you live on Mars. However on Saturday we were right back out there again and did a good two and a half miles in the snow. So although that's only 5 miles this week, I'm pretty proud to have returned to active duty.

If you don't count week 3 (the week I dropped out), then 5 miles is my weekly average for the first month of this new lifestyle commitment. I know that's low - I need to average 9-10 miles a week to get to 100 miles by April 1st. But I look at it as a good start. I'm not expecting to go from full stop zero to 10 miles or more in one fell swoop. That's how I used to approach my life. I'm a bit slow to learn these lessons, but I give in: All-or-Nothing did NOT work for me. That's how I got into this mess to begin with. Instead of trying to go at the max from the start, this time I'm committed to gradually building longer distances into my walks so my weekly numbers will grow - dramatically - as the weeks go by.

An added bonus is that DH and I are walking together most of the time and these walks are becoming a wonderful opportunity to talk about everything from the banal to the profound, the sublime to the ridiculous. While I can go walking on my own, it is certainly much more pleasant to have good company. And it's not that we can't or don't talk a lot at home. Communication is not a problem at all here at casa MezzoDiva. I am often in awe of my good fortune in finding this exceptionally sensitive man and persevering through our years together, building a life with him in spite of both our histories and the flaws and baggage we carry. But these walks are deepening the intimacy between us in wonderful and surprising ways. And that is becoming further powerful incentive to keep on walking!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back in the game again.

Whew! Thanks to everyone for the positive reinforcement. By the time we got ready with coats and boots and all it was 11:45pm and we got out and just went as far as felt good at the time. Only one mile but what a mile it was! Felt so good to be out and moving. I’m just on my way out again now - going to see a therapist about the emotional baggage that’s really been in the way - but I’ll also get a mile or so under my feet on the way there! Thanks again to everyone - just for being here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Run-A-Go-Go! M.I.A. confessions.
Week number three: [14/01/07 thru 20/01/07] 0 miles.
Woops. I need some help.

Still at the 10 miles mark. DH and I were on track with this walking thing for the first 10 days of the year. Then we stopped. Since January 11th I have scarcely left the house. We have been pretty good about maintaining the healthier eating plan. But there has not been any activity that could be reasonably called exercise. I'm thoroughly disgusted with myself about it.

What the h--- happened? To make a long story short, I fell into a lovely little private self-pity party and I am just shaking it off now.

Okay, then. I am going to do something about that right now. It's 11:30 p.m. here, light snow with temperature -2C and windchill (makes it feel like) -8C and I am throwing on my clothes and shoes and going out. If I go around the block - fine. If I do more than that - great. But I am getting out there. So I'll be signing off now. I should have some more to say tomorrow.

This is up to me. Nobody can do it for me. But any positive reinforcement right now will be appreciated.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sneak Peak: Anybody want to knit these spectacular new socks?

Psst!... over here. Just get a look at these lovelies! They were knitted toe-up with a provisional cast on, short-row toes and short-row heels. But they will easily translate to other methods, though this lace works best from the bottom up. Some familiarity with lace would be helpful, but it's not a hard lace to knit, just a simple variation on dayflower lace done in the round. I made them using the magic loop method, but the pattern should also work on two circulars or dpns.

The magnificent magenta originals (pictured above) are made from 2 skeins of Koigu (KPM #1170), on 2 mm needles. For this lace, solid colours are best. A VERY subtly variegated colour-way might be okay, but too much colour striation will distract from the lace pattern.

I'm just translating my knitting notes into more decipherable instructions for those who aren't lurking in my head with me. I hope to finish editing them tonight. More soon.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Run-A-Go-Go! Week number two:
[07/01/07 thru 13/01/07] 4 miles.
Went out walking only twice this week.
Cumulative Total: 10 miles.
90 more to go by April 1st.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We have pointy sticks and
we are not afraid to use them.

So angry about this I cannot speak or blog.

Hell hath no fury as a sock-knitter scorned.

The fur on the back of my neck is standing up.
Must go knit 10,000 stitches to calm down.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

To the kind persons waiting to be testknitters for my new sock pattern: Please stand by. We are experiencing technical delays. Thanks for your patience. XOXO - MD

I can’t wait for the new VK – Have you SEEN IT? - For the love of yarn, GO take a look! They have some major pattern-porn going on in the winter07 issue. I just love the sneak peaks. Seriously – even some of the new intarsia stuff looks good to me (though I would have to go for different colours) and I am just not into that stuff.

Their new modular star-fish cabled cover pattern is positively drool-worthy!!! I want to wear it so badly, but I really couldn’t. Step away from the capecho, Ma'am. Nice and easy. Keep your hands where we can see them. It would look absurd on a very busty gal. It makes me wish for a petite or average chest (sigh. maybe in a future life).

BTW: have you seen these?
I found them on the Fall Cable KAL and they are my next new small project. She made them as a variation on this pattern (scroll down for English instructions), and she added the partial fingers – I might need a little help to get that right. Want ‘em. Need ‘em. Gonna make ‘em. SOON.

Hey – I just realized the mitts will go perfectly with the new cabled hat I bought from Liane last week!

Speaking of cabled goodness, I am still swatching assorted lovely things from stash to find the right yarn for the sexy curvy cabled cardigan . I have some sinfully soft and sensual SRK Truffles (80-20 virgin wool/cashmere) in the deep red Maroon colour, but I don't like the way the reverse stst background looks in it. That's the tricky thing with this pattern. The assymetrical cables are gorgeous in almost everything, but reverse st st doesn't look good (to me) in many yarns. Hmmm... It might work in some of my dk or light-worsted cotton blends, but they're buried deep in the stash. That stuff will be easy to find. I'll do that until I can work up the nerve to go spelunking in the stash.

And of course I need to pick up the Manos vest and finish it - now for the DH. Oh, did I forget to mention that I never did finish the vest for my stepdad? I was getting so many mixed messages and opinions about whether or not he will like it or the colourway are too bold for him or what my mother thinks I really should do:
what he really needs is more slippers (despite having just bought himself a new pair he loves), so I should make him slippers, not a vest (well, I'm halfway through the vest) and those colours are too bright, I don't think he'll wear that (the man proudly wears a kilt in Buchanan plaid!),and how is the vest coming along? is it ready yet? and you know his birthday is this weekend...

SO my head was spinning and I misread the simplest of pattern instructions (you don't do the pattern every round, you just knit the alternate rounds straight) and I had to rip the vest back from the armholes. I just couldn't muster up the heart to redo it right away, so at the last minute I gave him these felted slipper booties instead (courtesy of the multi-talented and speedy Liane, and I'm not ashamed to say I left that last part out).

PLEASE - if I am ever so insane as to knit something - anything - at the suggestion of my mother, will you all immediately march right on over here and smack me hard upside the head? Really. No hard feelings. I promise.

Anyhow, DH loves that yarn and pattern, so now that I have it going the right way it will be his next new handknitted gift from me - no special occasion required - just thanks for coming into my life and sweeping out the madness, preventing me following that crazy lady down the rabbit hole / going totally and completely bonkers / being carted off by the nice men in a white jacket with moebius sleeves following in the family tradition. Really, I am feeling much better now. (Please ignore the twitch.)

But I digress. Okay - back to the swatching and stash saga.

I really have to go through my stash and catalog it all so I know what I have and where it all is.
I am way past the stage where I can remember everything that's in there. But I am just not in the mood for a stash excavation right now... maybe on the weekend.

I have spent the last few weeks sorting and purging and otherwise digging through our own stuff around here. Then, just when I could see the dawn of a new clutter-free era here at casa MezzoDiva, a family friend brought over a car-full (!) of second-hand clothes for me to choose from before they go to Goodwill. Seriously, there were twelve HUGE bags of the stuff, as well as a mound of things on hangers in the trunk. Yippee! Just what I needed – more STUFF to sort through. But she has a great sense of style and a champagne budget, so I persevered gratefully. I found lots of good diva-style things as well as about 50 Tshirts in assorted fabulous jewel tones and brights – many of them new, with the tags on – which I might share with DH. If he's good.

And speaking of glorious colour, Project Spectrum starts February 1, 2007. Come along and sign up for a colourful year!

I think I'll combine my stash reclamation project with Project Spectrum 2007. That will be a really fun way to use up lots of my stash. Every couple of months I'll make a new colourful project (or two or three...) out of stash yarn.

Stash-along is a tricky thing. I don't believe an organized moratorium on yarn acquisition is a very good idea - mostly because it wreaks economic havoc on your local LYS and I believe it's very important to support the smaller independents. Besides, who really wants to stop buying yarn (even if you do get one day off a month)? Still, we can decide to shop more judiciously and meanwhile commit to knitting from your stash at the same time.

Oops - really gotta go now. We’re dashing out for a walk in the nice weather before the sun goes down and it gets too chilly and DH wants to check his email. He recently accused me of excessive verbiage: “Everything you write has to be the Great-Canadian-Email!”(Okay, Tell me how you really feel.)

Yes, dear. That’s why Haley told me to get a blog.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Week number one
[31/12/06 thru 06/01/07]
6 miles down. 94 to go.

MezzoDiva -aka- the operatic knitaholic (proper noun), Def:
1. Classical, theatre, jazz vocalist/actor; obsessive fibre artist and unrepentant sock-knitting addict; chronically verbose blogger.
2. A 40-something size-24 woman who blithely registered for a two-day 60-km weekend walkathon The Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer taking place September 7-9, 2007 and had better get her fat ass off the sofa NOW and start moving.
3. WTF was I thinking?????

In recent discussions with the girlfriends I was reminded of a lesson I learned in acting class about the basic underlying drives for all human behaviour. There are two types of urges to which human beings respond: Every action stems from either attraction, the impulse towards something, or aversion, the impulse away from something. There may be millions of differing specific details in every instance, but every single thing we do boils down to one of those two imperatives.

In other words, it's always about the carrot, or the stick. Furthermore, most human beings have a tendency to be more responsive to one or the other of these types of imperatives. And it has taken no great amount of self-examination to realize that my primary mode of motivation is the stick. I have to admit that I am more strongly driven to do things in order to avoid discomfort or punishment than I am driven to do them in order to reap the benefit or rewards. For me, fear is a powerful motivator.

Let's take it a step futher: There are two specific things that I fear.

In the grand scheme of things, I am concerned that if I do not get my health, especially my weight and fitness level, under control starting now, then it's all going to be downhill from here. I am currently out-of-shape and unfit, and except for a brief period of physical fitness a couple of years from 2000-2002, this has been the norm. And in my family tree of geneological medical histories you'll find the top ten tunes on the obesity-related diseases hit parade: there's been type-2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, angina, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and asthma/COPD. Oh, yeah, add to that a few extremely painful cases of varicose veins.

Now, I am very lucky that despite my tendency to rubenesque proportions, I haven't yet developed any of these potentially life-threatening complications. But at 40+ I am at a chronological cross-roads: if I continue to slide down this slippery slope of least resistance, returning to the fork later and choosing the other path will become exponentially more and more difficult. So I have some pretty good reasons to want to develop a healthier lifestyle that I can build into habitual behaviour for the rest of my life.

In the short term, the fear is more immediate: I signed up for a two-day walk of 60 km (that's 37.5 miles) next September. And oddly, I am not so much afraid of the first day as I am of the second. I am REALLY afraid of trying to cajole my body to go back out on day 2. The discussion will go something like this.

Me: Good morning. I know you're a bit sore, but we really should get going. So let's move please. Okay?
Body: No.
Me: We'll get up and stretch... then we can go for another 30 km walk today. C'mon, it'll be fun!
Body: No.
Me: There will be coffee. And breakfast. Mmmmm....
Body: No.
Me: You can get a massage....
Body: No.


Me: Come on, just a little stretch, a couple of steps and I promise you'll feel better! How about just around the block?
Body: No.
Me: Okay, how about we start by just getting out of bed?
Body: No.
Me: But we promised!
Body: No. No. No. No-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-..... NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!!!!

My body will have become a recalcitrant two-year-old rooted to the bed with a new favourite word and nothing I say will move her.

All kidding aside, I am afraid of setting myself up for some serious pain! If I don't get myself out there NOW and start rustling up some mileage, I will not be ready to do the real focussed long-distance training that begins in the spring. There are coaches and plans available to help us work up to the goal, but I need to get in some advance training to be able do the training.

So when I saw Runagogo! I decided that this was a great way to begin. I won't be running, but I will comit to get in my 100 miles by April 1st. That's just 9-10 miles a week on average. Even I can do that! And if this weather continues to hold, I'm getting back on my beloved bicycle which has been languishing as a purely decorative feature of my front porch for the last couple of years.

When I got fit the last time, the bike was my primary mode of transportation and I was a road warrior! I biked everywhere, often 15 miles a day or more round trip through the GTA, downhill and back. I was still a zaftig babe, weighing in just under 200 lbs, but much of that was solid muscle. Pilates mat classes strengthened my mid-section so bending forward on my bike didn't strain my back. I lost over 60 pounds back then over about 8 months by burning my own body's reserves for fuel, by drinking a lot of water and making sure to eat all the things you should eat.

See by the time you eat all the things you "should," there is not a lot of room left for the things you "shouldn't". Don't get me wrong - this was no deprivation situation: there were some significant quantities of food consumed here at casa MezzoDiva. It was more about proportion control than portion control. Eating less was no part of the agenda. But the quality and ratio of the food was healthier.

We cut out the processed and white foods almost entirely: refined sugar, flour, yeast, and most conventional dairy. We ate lots (LOTS) of lean protein and healthy fats, especially fresh fish, beans and soy, some poultry and also steak; lots of whole grains, especially brown rice; some organic milk, cheeses and yogourt; and at least half the volume on our plates consisted of colourful vegetables and fruit, often raw and in huge magnificent salads we devoured daily. Good quality dark chocolate was also a staple. And listen up people: there was still the occasional ice cream and cheesecake, even french fries. But they were the exception, not the rule, and they weren't missed very much after the first couple of weeks.

We are committed to making these changes in our lives again. We're buying better groceries and phasing back into that healthy mode of eating, cooking more and eating packaged foods less. And of course there's the moving thing.

DH is very good company on any kind of expedition. We have done a couple of walks together already: just 1.5 miles on New Years Eve and another 2.5 miles Friday. I know that's only 4 miles so far, but I had to take a break mid-week due to fun-of-fertility rituals (which in recent months have become rather debilitating for 3-4 days). But Friday we jumped right back on the wagon, and we're going back out again today for at least another 2 miles.

I aim to go out and walk 4-5 days a week (with some time off for lunar hormonal challenges). If I get 12-15 miles a week most of the time, then the periodic times off once a month won't keep me from getting in my 100 miles.

Why not get up off your butt, put your knitting down (briefly) and join us! For more info about it, see Rachael at Yarn-A-Go-Go for the details.

And if you REALLY want to motivate me, you can (please) sponsor me here. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

I have some exciting knitting news about my first FO of 2007, but I'm keeping it for the end of this post (scroll down if you want to see that first).

Welcoming 2007 in the spirit of renewal and self-discovery, I decided to look up what my name means. I entered my full given name as stated on my birth certificate(i.e: MezzoDiva's alter ego in the physical world).

Wow. This really is true to me. Go to the What Your Name Means quiz here if you want to try it.

There are 17 letters in your name. Those 17 letters total to 75. There are 6 vowels and 11 consonants in your name. Your first name means wise defender (Teutonic & Spanish); counsel; mighty protection; guards wisely (German). Well, I tend to be a pitbull about fighting for the rights of the underdog (other people whose rights I perceive as being trampled) in unfair situations, so the defender part's correct, and I will even concede the wisdom (in regard to helping others, that is - w.r.t my own life, well, let's just say I'm learning).

Your Personal number is 3. Characteristics of #3 are expression, verbalization, socialization, the arts, and the joy of living. The expression of 3 produces a quest for destiny with words, a variety of lines that may include writing, speaking, singing, acting or teaching; [People with personal number 3 are] our entertainers, writers, litigators, teachers, salesmen, and composers. You also have the destiny to sell yourself or sell just about any product that comes along. Yeah - all that fits me on so many levels - especially the last part because in my biz 90% of my job is to audition. You are imaginative in your presentation, and you have creative talents in the arts, although these may be latent.

You are an optimistic person who seems ever enthusiastic about life and living. You are friendly, loving and social, and people like you because you are charming and such a good conversationalist. Your ability to communicate may often inspire others. It is your role in life to inspire and motivate; to raise the spirits of those around you.And maybe I tend to play that role too often. I am working very hard to allow the less entertaining but equally authentic parts of myself to come out of isolation too.

The negative side of number 3 expression is superficiality. You may tend to scatter your forces and simply be too easygoing. It is advisable for the negative 3 to avoid dwelling on trivial matters, especially gossip.Ummm... yeah. Like she said.

Your Soul Urge number is 2. Your motivation is centered on relationships: friendships, partnerships, and companionship. You want to work with others as a part of a cooperative team. Leadership is not important to you, but making a contribution to the team effort is. You are willing to work hard to achieve a harmonious environment with sensitive, genial people. My favourite and most fulfilling experiences have been in collaborative situations, creating and developing ensemble projects with others both on and off stage.

In a positive sense, the 2 Soul Urge is sympathetic, extremely concerned and devoted. The nature tends to be very sensitive to others, always tactful and diplomatic. This element in your nature indicates that you are rather emotional. You are persuasive, but in a very quiet way, never forceful. (Will someone please tell my darling husband to stop laughing so hard.) You are the type that makes really close friendships because you are so affectionate and loving. If this number is over-emphasized in your makeup, you may be over-sensitive, with a delicate ego that is too easily hurt. You may be timid or fearful, too easygoing for your own good.

Your Inner Dream number is 1. You dream of being a leader and one who is in charge. You want to be known for your courage, daring, and original ideas. You seek unconquered heights. People may get a first impression that you are very aggressive and sure of yourself. (I tend to compensate for that later.)

Okay. Enough navel-gazing.

I am simply giddy to report that MY OWN FIRST PATTERN - my favourite lace socks - is ready for beta testing!

I showed off sock number one at an informal SnB at Knitomatic last Friday. LYS owner and friend Haley, she of the pretty feet and ankles, tried it on and modeled for us and everyone said it is very beautiful. I have to agree - it even looks good on my plump tootsies and ankles (but I won't inflict them on you).

I spent the holiday weekend making up the second sock by attempting to strictly follow my notes and I've done it! The notes were then translated into what I think are clear instructions, but I might be mistaken about that, since I'm pretty good at reading my own mind.

Now I need to enlist a few intrepid test-knitters to try knitting from my pattern directions and provide feedback to help me debug the pattern.

The socks were knitted toe-up with a provisional cast on. Some familiarity with lace would be helpful, but it's not very hard. I made them using the magic loop method, but the pattern will also work on two circulars or dpns.

If you're interested and willing to be a guinea pig, please let me know ASAP.


Lots more knitting news soon.