Monday, December 31, 2007

Wishing everyone a
happy, heathy, prosperous
and fibre-filled New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the cusp of transition.

I don’t believe in New Years “Resolutions” as such, but it tends to be a season for reflection and I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, reviewing the past year(s), as well as setting/renewing goals and - probably most important of all - figuring out what I need to make of my day-to-day life in order to achieve those goals.

My agenda for the new year (and the rest of my life) consists largely of reclaiming my home and my body, detoxing and purging the excesses and the toxins from both, so that I can have more optimal conditions from which to actively (not aggressively, but avidly) pursue the musical career I want and deserve. For that I need my home and my body to work for me (not against me), to provide the environment and vitality in which I can focus my efforts on career-building: a return to regular coaching and role preparation (esp. for the big Emily Carr premiere in April), arranging and performing as many cross-Canada auditions as I can find, and getting all the details ready for the big NYC opera competition I want to do next winter (aside from the musical prep, I need to get a new passport, get visas if necessary, etc…). And if I am able to teach from my house (even for just a few hours a week) I can supplement what I get from the synagogue gigs and concerts/shows, and that income would be very welcome as the financial investment in coaching and travel will be big.

So getting my home in order is already underway. It's as if the bathroom emergency was the cork in a bottle and since then DH and I have been slowly but steadily purging stuff that's obsolete or delinquent on its rent and organizing the stuff which earns its keep, and serendipitously finding storage solutions that have eluded us for decades! (Goethe was right)

Still, this is a very big endeavour and daunting on our own. (DH is very helpful but, well, let’s just say it’s not his forte and leave it at that - ignoring for the moment his very own 3-D room of "stuff").

It's not easy. I’ve done it for friends (some of whom make me look like the queen of neat) and it’s one of those things that’s so much easier to do for someone else. When it’s your (my/our) own stuff it can be overwhelming. But my wonderful friends have offered to help and that's terrific. I’m not in need of an “intervention” (please don't call Peter Walsh). I’ve already begun to do it. But help will be most welcome.

Meanwhile, I am working on the stash. The mad recent cataloguing of my personal SABLE on Ravelry will make it much easier to either use the stuff (assigning it a pattern from my queue or finding one from the gazillions there) or divest myself of it(if it no longer makes feel me warm and fuzzy - pardon the pun).

And I am setting new firm rules for acquisition – ie: no new stringy stuff until I finish at least one large-scale project (headbands/hats/scarves/mitts do not count) AND absolutely no new project-sized purchases until I finish several large-scale projects (an extra ball or a few of whatever is needed to complete a project is permissible, but ONLY once that project is well underway and thus it won’t become stash).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weighty issues.

Tish came to SnB on Thursday and the discussion turned to her remarkable experiences with GBPS and recovery. Hearing her talk about it and mirror so much of my own experience with food and weight was exactly what I needed at the exact right time. I am deeply moved by her struggle, both for her sake and for mine.

These issues are right on the front-burner for me too right now and it is tough to deal with them “alone”. I know my friends all support me and I am truly not ashamed of my body or my weight, but I do feel lonely about it: I am alone dealing with my body and what I need to do about it, and though we all have our own body issues and assorted related syndromes, nobody in my circle of friends is in a similar condition. I have acquaintances who are women of larger sizes (some knitters, some in singing circles) but not one of my close friends is actively dealing with this right now.

Don't get me wrong - I don't expect or even want to be what anyone would refer to as a skinny or svelte. I am not biologically destined to be a slender sylph in this life. I will always be a bodacious babe, and I am just fine with that - very good, in fact. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a zaftig woman of surprisingly good health so far, despite having spent 40-something mostly sedentary years on this earth (except for that brief period of relative fitness from 2000-02, achieved by somewhat obsessive means). Due to my varying Rubenesque proportions, I have a rotating wardrobe in every size from 14 to 26. I love myself and my body at all those sizes, though to be completely honest I have to admit that I am most comfortable in my skin somewhere in the middle, around sizes 16/18.

I am also politically motivated to combat the zeitgeist of fat phobia - the last permissible bigotry. With the onslaught of reality shows and "helpful" talk shows, from the fashion industry to news reports of the latest studies on obesity, it is very easy to become caught up in the media frenzy and buy into the myths of fat vilification. The word itself, "fat", has become overloaded with anxiety and negative values. It has taken on disproportional connotations of shame and mortification, and no longer functions as noun or adjective, but is used almost as a swear word. Women in particular are bombarded with the message that if we are fat, then we are physical, emotional and spiritual cripples and I refuse to participate in or perpetuate that mythology. We owe it to ourselves and our daughters to combat the tyranny of our fat phobic society and how it targets and denigrates women.

But, politics and social issues aside, I do want to live a long and healthy life. I want to enjoy my body in all forms of physical expression and I want it to work for me as I pursue my other goals in life. I am currently about 40 lbs lighter than Tish was when she had her surgery, and I am grateful that my health hasn’t yet gone too far down the river. But it is sending up lots of flares (my blood pressure spikes last spring and summer, I’m prone to infection, etc.) and I am paying attention because I refuse to let it get dangerous and inaction now guarantees it will get worse. I am definitely not going the surgical route (despite my mother’s urging and offers to pay for everything a few years ago).

I have vowed that I am never going to diet again. Yo-yo dieting and the inevitable deprivation/obsession mindset it creates are how I got up to this size in the first place! Instead, I am determined to take better care of my health and to eat a fairly well-balanced selection of foods, mostly from the healthier ends of the dietary spectrum. I have already revamped a lot of my home cooking and I’m back on the exercise wagon I tumbled off when I was sick in October.

Still, I recognize that I need an emotional support system especially for this process, over and above what I get from DH and my excellent therapist, and I’m not going to go to a program (One day I’ll share more about my history with some supposedly helpful weight-related programs, but for now suffice to say that I have learned that they are not for me). And it is hard for me to reach out for support about this - or most things, actually. I am usually the one providing the shoulder for others, and though I do share my story with people openly, I tend not to let the feelings really come out (except for my husband and my shrink). I need to learn to reach out more because if left to my own devices I will just internalize all the issues that come up, especially those about weight and food and all the associated baggage.

So (deep breath), here goes: I would be very grateful for any and all support and encouragement, and especially now while I get used to actually asking for help if you check in on me once in a while (here, by email or by phone) I’ll be grateful.

And on that note I need to go defrost the fish and clean some vegetables for dinner.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Deck the halls with Malabrigo!
Fa la la la la, La la la la!

I'm revelling in Ravelry, frolicking in the fibre and celebrating my stash. In the last few days many (MANY) blissful hours have been frittered away cataloguing my valiant attempt to accumulate a respectable SABLE (I've got about half of it entered, but almost no photos yet), as well as exploring my options in the pattern galleries and setting goals for future projects well into the new year and beyond. Okay, so I actually have enough in the queue to get through the century. If these clever people would please press pause on all the new and nifty patterns for a while, maybe I could catch up. (Heh, heh. Heaven forfend!).

O.M.G. this place is wonderful! It feels so good to sort and organize my copious collection of string stuff and finally get an honest accounting of what's actually in there. And I am very excited by the ease with which I can cross-reference between the stash, my library, and my immense wishlist of (*cough!*) imminent and future projects.

There's not much to show for knitting around here. Lately I've been swatching and scheming and scribbling notes, and doing a lot of origami to help me visualize some design ideas that are rattling around in my head.

Still I do have one little FO from earlier in the fall. These are some super simple hand/arm-warmers I whipped up for Stella recently. MezzoDiva's simple fingerless mitts with a twist:

These are very simple 2x2 Ribbed arm/handwarmers with a cable twist at the thumbhole to reinforce the opening. Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit, Blue/Gold multi on 3.5mm needles (I find magic loop best, but if you like juggling DPNs go for it!) Here's the recipe:

Using needles a little smaller than typically called for by the yarn-band (to create a nice dense and warm fabric), cast on a multiple of 4 stitches (about 1.5 times the number you would use for a simple stockinette mitt; e.g: in a DK weight I'd cast on 36-40sts, 36 x1.5= 54, so these were made on 56 stitches which is the next number that's a multiple of 4) and join to work in the round. Work a 2X2 ribbed tube (in the round) until you reach the desired length before the thumbhole, ending with the two stitches of a purl column.

Do a cable twist (to reinforce the opening at the thumbhole) as follows: Slip the next FOUR stitches to a cable or spare double-pointed needle and hold them in back. Knit the next TWO stitches, then purl the next TWO (formerly knitted) stitches and knit the last TWO stitches (formerly purled) from the holder.

Work another round, but the next time you get to this cabled bit, knit the first two stitches (which were crossed over on the previous round and then work only the next purl stitch. Now TURN YOUR WORK and continue working flat (back and forth, instead of in the round) for about 1.5 inches, working the stitches as they appear to continue the 2X2 ribbing.

The purl stitches between the crossed-over twist will become selvedge stitches, finishing the edges of the thumbhole nicely.

When the thumbhole is long enough that if you pinch the edges together they form a slightly snug fit around the thumb, rejoin the edges to work in the round and do another cable twist (as above) to reinforce it at the top. Then continue in the round for as long as you need and cast off.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Oy to the world!

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned been remiss. It's been 25 days since my last confession er, blog posting.

'Tis the season to find that time keeps getting away from me without me having a clue where it went or what I did. It's really all a blur. I'm still not sure how I managed to miss SnB last week. I had plans to go and then...? I never even made the annual batch of Potato Latkes promised for the DH every Hannukah. (I owe you some, my love!)

Still, it has been a good several weeks with some ups and some downs: reconnecting with "real" life after the last of my fall gigs were done, reclaiming the house from the fallout of bathroom-and-kitchen madness, and a minor medical issue that could have been much (MUCH) worse. But where has all the time gone? I am stumped. Sigh. If you find where my time has gone, please do write and let me know.

I hope to have a nice long blog about it all, if I can figure out WTH I've been up to! (And my sincere apologies to the grammar police for ending the previous sentence with a preposition)

I've (finally) come to terms with the notion that I can whole-heartedly enjoy Xmas as a winter festival of light returning from the dark. This is the first year I've been able to really get into the seasonal spirit without feeling even a bit guilty for somehow betraying my own cultural/religious roots: Fa la la la la - Oy, vey, let's make merry! Most of our seasonal traditions go back much farther than any Judeo-Christian appropriation of the rituals, and all northern hemisphere cultures have our own variation of the same holidays, so let's hunker in together and celebrate the return of light.

Wishing you all a belated Happy Hannukah &/or Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali/Deepavali, Yalda, Dong Zhi - just celebrate Winter-Solstice Festival(s) of your choice. I've decided to enjoy them all!

(And if I've left anyone out - it's not intentional, please forgive me and let me know about it so I can learn more about your culture's seasonal celebrations.)

BTW, there has been knitting. Lots and LOTS of knitting, but most of it is swatching and pattern drafting and there are no pictures of any interest yet, but stay tuned in the New Year. There WILL be goodies to see and goodies to share!