The first Monday of 2011

I want you to know that I am Properly Supervised as I write today’s post.

Let’s do some crafty updates!


Progress has been made on the lining of the second mitten.

Someone in the comments a couple of days back said they wanted to know how to knit a lining for a mitten. Anyone else interested in this? I’d be happy to do a little tutorial if there is interest. Let me know in the comments!

Inkle Band

It’s working! It’s working! Instead of just nudging the weft into place, I’m taking the edge of the belt shuttle and firmly pushing it as far as it will go. I didn’t do this before, as I was worried that it would produce a weft-faced fabric, but it’s working! There’s not enough warp left on the loom to make an entire strap, so I’m just going to weave it until it’s done and save it for something else. I’ll put a new warp on and have myself a do-over. Good practice.

Pick-Up Tote

I am more than halfway through winding the warp. Since I am going to weave this on my floor loom, I’m using my warping board. And since it has been seven years since I used said warping board, and all I remember from Back Then is that warping often was a nightmare, I bought myself a copy of Peggy Osterkamp’s new book, Weaving for Beginners: An Illustrated Guide.

This. Book. Is. Da. Bomb. Step-by-step instructions on warping (back to front AND front to back) and all aspects of weaving (from rigid heddle to multishaft), tips, illustrations, oh my goodness. If you don’t have a weaving teacher near you, this is the next best thing. (Videos are good, but I like having something I can double-check as I do each step.) And remember that I write/edit knitting instructions for a living. I’m very picky about instruction books. This one gets the full 5 Tiaras from me.

Baby Surprise Jacket

I’ve never knitted one of these iconic sweaters before. But one of Nicholas’ grad students just had a baby boy, and I knit him a hat, and there was yarn left over, so of course I had to go stash-diving to find another colour that matched, and then I realized it was really fun to knit a potato chip. Which is what a Baby Surprise Jacket is until you sew it up: a knitted potato chip. Elizabeth Zimmermann was a genius. (How did she figure this out? HOW?!?)

Karmic Geese

I ran out of the handspun silk sewing thread I am using, so I had to stop stitching to spin some more.

Yes, I said handspun sewing thread. I know, am completely daft. But here I am, sitting here with handwoven fabric woven out of ONLY handspun yarns from 80 people…you think I’m going to use cotton polyester thread from FabricLand on this? No way. Handspun silk sewing thread.

Spinning sewing thread is a personal challenge for me. When you spin to knit, it’s really OK if the handspun has some inconsistencies in it; even lumps and bumps will more or less be hidden in the knitted stitches. When you spin to weave, you just have to make sure the yarn is smooth enough not to catch in the heddles or the reed, if you are using it as warp. (If you are using your handspun as weft, you can pretty much spin any way you want.)

Spinning sewing thread is spinning for OCD psycho bitches, I’ve decided. (Note that I am spinning sewing thread for hand sewing. I’m not psycho bitch enough to spin thread to use in a machine.) Your spinning has to be absolutely smooth, or it will get stuck as it pulls through the fabric. Your spinning has to be strong, or it will break under the pressure of being part of a seam, especially if the seam is what I call a “load-bearing” seam, like at the shoulders, or elbows, where the seam is going to be stressed. Your spinning has to be consistent, because if it is not, then it is easily abraded as you sew.

Here's a sample of some of the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey bits

I’m using two-ply thread, as sort of an insurance policy. I just don’t trust my singles to be strong enough. The first seam I did, with my first two-ply, was a load-bearing seam, and a long one. I stitched it TWICE, tiny wee little stitches. The fabric is very thick, too thick to do the in-and-out several-stitches-at-a-time-on-the-needle trick I learned from hand-quilting. Each stitch is done in two pokes: Down-poke. Up-poke. All the stitches. Two pokes each.

I decided after that first seam I would not be stitching the seams twice anymore. I want the recipient to get it whilst she is still living.


Nicholas: Why aren’t you using your new photography lighting set-up to take your blog pictures?

Me: Because if I set up that lightbox and the lights right now, we wouldn’t have a living room anymore. Plus, I’m afraid of losing one of the cats in there.

Musings on Self-Compassion

I wrote the first part of this as a post on Ravelry, and it got such interesting responses that I thought I’d post it here and see what you-all thought on the subject.

I had to go off of one of my meds (it’s not supposed to be long-term) and the result is rebound insomnia with a vengence. I’m sleeping only about 3 hrs a night, and wow. Brain liquification in progress.

This has been going on for about a week. It’s really easy to get down on myself, start thinking it’s somehow my fault, and be hard on myself for not being as alert and productive as I want to be. I just realized that if I mentally approach this in the same way as if I were low-level ill, like a sinus infection or something, that helps take the self-criticism out of the loop. It’s a more compassionate approach, and one I would take if it were someone else. Funny how hard it is to turn compassion so that it faces inwards.

Giving myself permission to be human, and have a body that doesn’t always function perfectly is a hard lesson for me. We have this attitude in Western culture that one can control one’s health, that if you Do All The Things, eat right, take the right herbs, exercise the way Some Tells You To (have you noticed that the govt guidelines for this keep changing/increasing? Anyone ever wonder if the gym and exercise industry lobbies have anything to do with that or I am just being a paranoid leftist again?), and be the perfect little First World Person, then you will be healthy and thin and whatnot.

That Western urge to Be In Control…it’s very insidious and when the illusion of control falls apart, wow. The self-recriminations are a bitch.

That’s the part I posted on Ravelry earlier today. Here are some additional thoughts.

My friend Gwen responded with a post about the connection between morality and illness. HOOBOY. As someone who has only recently been coming to terms with a chronic illness, I’m learning this connection the hard way. The thing is, though: Despite all the things that Western culture tries to tell us, ultimately, some things are out of our control. (Yes, I suppose if I were Totally Enlightened And A Yogi I wouldn’t be disabled and I would thin and beautiful and have long blonde hair and be a movie star. OK…so why are Beautiful People so often deeply unhappy? Yeah. Weird, ain’t it?)

The amount of guilt and the shame our culture fosters in us when we fail to be able to control our physical being is gobsmacking.

Well, let’s just stop there. What do you think? Compassion, morality, self-recriminations when one cannot possibly live up to society’s benchmark of physical health and perfection…Discuss.

Today’s Random Good

A high school in Etobicoke (about 45 minutes from me) has a lunchtime knitting group that is helping kids to make friends and build coping skills in a big city environment.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The first Monday of 2011

  1. Rachel says:

    Ahhh…learning to love oneself as well as we love others. That is hard isn’t it? I need to be as forgiving of myself as I am of others…but it often feels like justification.

  2. melanie says:

    Turning compassion inward is the hardest thing to do — when you are compassionate to someone else, you aren’t hearing a Voice saying, “Not good enough! Doesn’t deserve!”

  3. Patricia says:

    I’d love to know how to do linings in mittens; it should translate to lining socks to make them warmer for winter.

  4. Mireille says:

    Count me as those who would love to learn how to line mittens!

    Being compassionate with yourself is always hard, especially when there are multi-billion dollar industries trying to make you feel bad enough about yourself to try their route to perfection.

  5. Gwen says:

    Amazing the invisible baggage we all carry around. And it’s somehow still our fault… (I already got carried away ranting about billboards over there in Ravelry. I’ll spare the comments.)

    I’ve been watching the mittens grow with knitterly excitement. Grow linings Grow!

  6. Mardi says:

    I am, as often as possible, kind to others.

    Being kind to myself feels like cheating.


  7. Lori says:

    I’d love to learn how to line mittens. My dad needs some mittens for when he’s moving snow. His gloves just aren’t warm enough. It would be fun to make a lined pair of mittens for him.

    As for self-compassion…women are socialized from childhood to care for others before themselves. We’re bombarded by images of the perfect woman every day. It’s hard to turn all of that around, to accept ourselves as we are and put our own wellbeing first. All we can do is try our best every day. Some days my best isn’t worth much, but I have to give myself permission to call it good enough.

    Keep trying, Sandi. I really enjoy reading your blog. You have a wonderful perspective. The pattern on your bag strap is lovely.

  8. gerri newfry says:

    boy do i know that insomnia! my friend used to tell me to be “extravagantly gentle with myself.” i wish that for you.

  9. Rachel says:

    minor thing first: yes please tutorial on lining mittens

    major thing: compassion. It is incredibly easy for me to be compassionate to others. And the degree to which I am NOT compassionate to myself is proportional to the degree I can cut others some slack. I can beat myself up like nobody’s business.

    I keep hearing the word “selfish” in my head when I attempt to back off helping someone or to take some time to take care of myself. How dare I not do xyz, just because it means not doing abc for me?

    We have tutorials for just about everything these days. “For Dummies” books for everything. I’d love to find a book or tutorial to teach me how to let go and relax, to care for me the way I care for others.

  10. Barbara G. says:

    Oh yes, I also would love to learn about mitten linings!
    I am glad you are talking about self compassion as I think it is linked to self forgiveness which is something I have been thinking about lately. They both seem hard to do for oneself, and much easier to do for others. I have put a book on hold at my library regarding the forgiveness piece by Frederic Luskin who heads up the Stanford Univ. Forgiveness Project. I’ll report back if the book seems like a good one.
    In the mean time remember we all have a little younger version of ourselves tucked away inside us somewhere (I know the inner child line is over used, but that’s what it is) and its up to us all to help take care of those “little inner people”, besides it gets tiresome always being the adult!
    SO give yourself some room to heal and rest and be human!

  11. Jerri says:

    It takes wisdom to allow yourself to be imperfect. We must do the best with what we are given. How will you be able to meet the needs of others if you don’t take care of yourself?

  12. Sharon says:

    Firstly, yes, please teach a tutorial about lining mittens.

    You are all too right when you said that “[t]he amount of guilt and the shame our culture fosters in us when we fail to be able to control our physical being is gobsmacking.”

    Everyday we deal with the issue that any self-respecting person can control their health, body shape, etc. because my DH is obese, has diabetes, and some depression problems. Like go figure when everyone looks at him like he is lacking some moral fiber and intellect to ‘let’ himself get this way!! Obesity like his was set up in childhood and is a chronic medical problem, not an issue of self-control. I’ve seen his self-control diet him out of diabetes before, but that brought on other problems like poor nutrition and depression because he likes to cook and enjoys food.

    The sooner people understand that some conditions and diseases are not controllable by ‘growing a backbone and just stopping overeating, or doing some exercise, etc.’, the better off we’ll all be. It’s tough to be compassionate to yourself when so many people see you as a big fat slob who hogs food.

    However, it’s their loss because DH has an infamous sense of humour, a mind as sharp as a tack, is very well-educated and well read. And he’s someone you’d want to have along, if you ended up on a deserted island, because he’d built everything needed (including carve knitting needles and crochet hooks) and know how to make a canoe to go fishing. Despite his size, he’s a cyclist, kayaker, and camper.

    Sorry for the rant but your comment touched a raw nerve! I sometimes get ‘looks’ from complete strangers too. I think I’m seen as an enabler because I must be cooking and baking and providing too much of the wrong kind of food! Believe me, if DH was living on my cooking and baking, he’d be as thin as your Nicholas!

    On a personal note, I understand about coming to terms with a chronic disability, though I suspect not one as serious as yours. I fell years ago and have had chronic sciatic nerve pain ever since. I was told to try exercises – the pain was excruciating and caused pain in my shoulders with no change in my hip/leg. Somehow, this was a failing on my part which my own doctor subtly imparted to me. Another doctor just laughed and commiserated about growing older (55 is older??) and gave me a prescription for sleeping pills; I guess maybe getting a good night’s sleep would help me limp around longer the next day. This sort of treatment and attitude from my (male) doctors helped me come to terms with having a chronic problem and doing what I thought was best for it.

    I’ve learned to cut myself some slack and do what I can do without hurting myself too much. I guess I learned how to turn my compassion inward about then! Mostly because I was really pissed off by the dr.s’ attitudes that I didn’t have the character or moral fiber to keep on doing exercises that were clearly not helping and were damaging my body, and that I should just accept this pain because I’m a post-menopausal woman who probably is developing bone problems and shouldn’t expect to have an active athletic lifestyle ever again.

    Since then, I’ve had significant improvement by following my instincts and doing my gardening, etc. that I need to do in my daily life. I do some exercises too. For the first time in over 5 years, I think I can get back into my kayak and not be afraid that my back/hip/leg will hurt when I need to maneuver. That’s huge! Kayaking was a big part of our lives until I hurt my back.

    So, Sandi, you should just do what you feel you can do and don’t sweat the rest of it. Worrying about it isn’t going to help, only hinder. Enjoy what you did accomplish. Anticipate what you’ll do tomorrow! Eventually, you’ll get it all done, or if not, then maybe it really wasn’t all that important.

    I apologize about this post exceeding the usual limits. I guess I should have e-mailed, but I was really touched by the topics you threw out.

  13. astrbear says:

    The three dimensional thinking involved in designing the Baby Surprise Jacket is nothing short of uncanny. I think EZ was a benevolent alien, sent to keep us warm and busy.


  14. Faith says:

    As your beloved Allie said:
    “Clean ALL the things!”

    “Clean ALL the things?”

    Thank you for posting and being you. I really love my Moment of Wiseheartedness.

  15. Lisa says:

    Yep, the guilt over not being able to function “normally” is almost as bad as the problem that causes the non-functioning.

    I went to the chiropractor a couple of weeks ago because of my chronic neck pain. As I was struggling to turn over on the table, I said, “I hate getting old!” His immediate response was, “Age is a state of mind.” My only consolation is that he’s more than ten years younger than me, and he will find out sooner or later that the aches and pains of an aging body are real. I was actually taken aback by the fact that he even made that statement.

    Luckily, the orthopedic specialist I went to last week poked and prodded and said I was such a mess he couldn’t even do any sort of therapeutic work on me. He prescribed a muscle relaxer and a major pain-killer and never said a word about my state of mind. I think I love him.

  16. Pat says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Boy does al this ring a bell for me. I think that our society “allows” compassion for individuals with obvious, time limited conditions as long as the individual is resuming normal activity.( ie.broken arm, recovery from surgery). They go right back to work,etc. (No evidence of self pity there!) However those of us with chronic, invisible conditions are toast. My favorite example is using Handicapped parking. I have been reprimaned for using this resource a number of times. I look perfectly healthy. It has taken me years to allow myself to say “I can’t or No” to activities that increase my chronic pain. I still have days where I feel like I’ m being lazy.
    Sandi, don’t beat up on yourself. Fibro, by itself makes it hard to function. Add insomnia to the pot and accomplishing anything is miraculous. You achieve more then anyone I know who suffers from a chronic illness. We are not lazy or faking. It’s not in our heads. We aren’t getting secondary gains from our condition. Our bodies have a short circuit that no one can figure out. Let them walk a mile in our bodies, shoes, heads and then come back and talk to us. Take care of yourself. Toss those little negative beasties to the curb.
    Pat aka westies

  17. Sylvia says:

    Sandi, I so love the way you write about your feelings – I too resonate with the body issues/what we are SUPPOSED to do, big time. Done a lot of work on it over the years, but it never seems to be done, whatever state “done” is in that department. Big hugs out to you –

    Would you write some time about Ravelry and how you use it? I have been on for a while, and totally get it about looking for patterns, etc., but the way you talk about it makes me feel like I am missing big bits of a supportive community there.

  18. Dorothy says:

    I do enjoy your blog. Please do a tutorial about knitting mitten liners.

  19. Kathy R says:

    living in MN, I think lined mittens sound like they would be perfect addition to outdoor winter wardrobe……would love to learn how to do that!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s