Wednesday, July 9, 2014

things performing taught me that i wish all people knew

so i started rehearsing a show this week.  this is a big deal for me because i haven't been onstage in 5 years, and i haven't participated in theater of any kind in 2 years.  so naturally, i'm both excited and nervous to dive back into the rehearsal schedule, the learning of dance steps and music and cues and tracks, the measuring for costumes (ugh), the sore muscles that haven't been used for dancing in a couple years, etc etc etc.

but it also got me thinking about the theater.  most specifically, it got me thinking of being a teenager/young adult in theater.  ok... that sounds weird... but it makes more sense if you know that for seven years i was the choreographer for a giant city-wide youth theater program, and i watched over a hundred kids each year put on a show and go through all the things that theater is and does for you.  i also watched them grow up from ages 13 to 19 and watched as they learned and matured and became amazing human beings.  and this is what makes me think of what it means to be a young person in theater.  

it also made me remember actually being a young person in the arts.  i didn't start on theater until college, but i was a pretty serious dancer from high school on.  and that kind of life, whether it's dancing, theater, music, etc, leaves you with some lessons that shape the way you interact with the world.  these are lessons that have helped me in much more than just the arts, but in getting through college, graduating and trying to juggle 4 or 5 jobs at once (at least one or two of which were always a show), adding grad school on top of all that, and finally in my career (which has nothing to do with theater... i work at a college... so there).  

now i see my students in my classes, learning how to navigate the world of higher education, and there are things that they don't know that i thought were common knowledge.  then i realized that they aren't common at all.  they were simply drilled into me by my upbringing in the wonderful world of performing arts.  so, here are some of the lessons i learned from the arts that i wish my students would know (aka, things that the arts teach you that have nothing to do with the arts) (aka, why every kid should participate in the arts):

1- punctuality is important.
the first rule i ever learned is that if you're 5 minutes early, you're already 5 minutes late.  get to rehearsal early so that shoes are changed and you are warmed up in time to start.  rehearsals are the epitome of "let's move along" time.  there is so much to get done, and the schedule is tight. there is no time to "pick this up tomorrow."  if you're late, we're starting without you. if we can't, the whole process starts late. if we start late, we stay late.  don't be the reason that the whole cast is stuck in rehearsal until midnight.

real world translation:  being on time shows that you are respectful of others.  whether it's to a meeting, a doctor's appointment, a class, etc, punctuality shows that you recognize that you are there for a reason, and you want to accomplish what you came for, respecting the time of everyone else who came for that reason.

2- it's not all about you.
a production is a result of many many people coming together to tell the same story.  all of the people in the story have to do their parts to make the story live.  if you are more concerned with being the focus of the scene than contributing to it, then you are probably doing more harm than good to the process of creating the world of the show.

real world translation:  you are not the center of the universe.  everyone that you meet in life has something going on that is not related to you in the slightest.  don't ask the whole world to stop and pay attention to you all the time.  recognize what is important in any moment, and let that be the focus.  sometimes it will be your thing, but most of the time it won't.

3- homework is crucial.
rehearsal (unless this is your full time job) is usually 3-4 hours long, and in that time the director is trying to block a scene, while the music director is going over music, and the choreographer is teaching -ography, and maybe the costumer is there taking measurements, and the light and sound guys and gals are trying to do stuff too.  bottom line, rehearsal is for taking the notes, keeping a record of what you need to know later, and moving on to the next thing.  there is no time for you to "learn" it.  that comes later.  at home. when you look over your notes and remember what you are supposed to do, and look over your music and lines and let the words and notes sink in, and practice the dance steps to get them in your body.  because tomorrow, you have a whole new set of blocking and choreo and music to learn.  not doing your homework can mean that you don't know what to do the next time you run that scene, which may not be for two weeks.  and if you don't know what to do, you are not only messing up the scene for you, but for the rest of the cast as well. and if you still haven't done your homework by showtime, you're the one who looks like an idiot in front of the audience.

real world translation:  do your homework.  be disciplined about your work, whatever it is.  if you are in school, do the homework so that the class can progress and you can be successful in it. if it's work, stay up on your reading and your projects so that the company/group doesn't have to teach you what you should have already taken the initiative to learn.  if you stay home, then do the work to make your home what you want it to be as it comes up, instead of waiting until it's in crisis.  prepare, do your work, and don't rely on others to bring you up to speed.

4- deadlines are non-negotiable.
the show opens on opening night.  whether you are ready or not.  there are no extensions for "not having time to rehearse." too bad.  there's an audience out there.

real world translation:  assume that deadlines are there for a reason.  the most mind-boggling thing to me when i started teaching was when students would simply turn something in a week after it was due, and then act like i was being unreasonable if i wouldn't accept it.  i still don't understand why they think this is alright.  deadlines, whether in school, work, applications, etc, are there because they need to be.  there are other things that need to happen based on that timeline, and if you miss the deadline, you either screw up the rest of the process or don't get what you were working toward at all. maybe everyone needs an experience where missing a deadline makes them look the fool (like not knowing any of your lines on opening night) for this concept to sink in.

5- sometimes you don't get the part.
performing means auditioning.  there are almost no productions for which you can just show up and be in it.  that means you have to go to an audition, do your best, and wait to hear if you got cast or not.  and sometimes, the answer is not.  sometimes the part isn't right for you, or someone else is better for it, or you just plain had a bad audition.  it sucks, being told no.  but it happens.  a lot. get over it.

real world translation:  you don't always get to win.  call me a meany-head if you want, but i think that we do a real disservice to our children by giving them a trophy every time they play a game, or doing the whole "e for effort" thing, or making sure everyone gets a "turn" to be whatever they want.  i'm not saying that kids need to be told they are stupid or anything, but there is an element of realism that kids are growing up without these days, and it's becoming an epidemic.  if you suck at basketball, you don't win.  you lose the game.  the world keeps score, and if you lose, you don't get the trophy.  and that is a lesson that we all need to learn: how to lose with grace.  (for more of my ramblings on this topic, see this post here)

6- be grateful to the crew.
sometimes it's easy to think that the only people that matter are the ones onstage.  but if it weren't for the DOZENS of people in the background, nothing would ever get on its feet.  designers, technicians, wardrobe, carpenters, stage management, run crew, business manager, artistic director - if not for all of these people, there would be a whole bunch of people in their street clothes on a bare patch of ground with no costumes, lights, sets, sound, heat, a/c, props, or even an audience to play to.  and if none of those things are there, then it's hardly a production.  being haughty and treating these people as "lesser" is the height of douchey-ness, and very few things make me more upset to witness.  everyone has a part to play in creating the world of the show, and everyone's part is integral to the show's success.  so be grateful, be kind, and be humble.

real world translation: everyone's job is important.  the world would not function as we know it without people to do all the jobs that need doing.  i see kids making fun of the janitors in a school and i want to ask them what they think would happen if there were no janitors.  if, when they stuffed the sink drain full of paper towels and let it run, no one came along to clean up the water and discard the sopping mess in the sink, what would they think?  would they realize that keeping the school clean is everyone's responsibility?  would they think that maybe being a jerk to the janitor is not a very good way to acknowledge that the janitor is a human being who is just doing his part to keep the school running?  would they stop being a**h*les and grow up to be human beings with respect for all the different types of people needed to make the world go round?  the bottom line is that everyone is needed and you shouldn't be a jerk.

7- no one cares how busy you are.
you chose to be in a show.  no one forced you to do it.  no one held a gun to your head and said "you will sing and dance and act, or you will die!"  remember that when you are complaining about balancing life with rehearsal and acting like you don't have time to be there.  if you commit to something, you are adding it to the other things you already do.  you know what those things are, and how much time they take.  if you don't have the time to add in a show, then don't.  if you decide to be in the show, then manage your time so that you can get things done.  that power is in your hands.  do it, don't complain about it, and get to rehearsal on time (see #1).

real world translation: manage your time.  and shut up about it.  everyone is busy.  EVERYONE is busy.  it may be a different kind of busy, but everyone has many things pulling on their time.  and everyone makes choices about adding other activities in to that time.  managing your time is YOUR responsibility, and whether or not someone else is busy in the same way is not at all your concern.  so shut up and just do it.

8- let the rest of the world go for a while.
when you are on stage, there is no taking a quick phone call, or leaving in the middle of the scene to deal with a family crisis or have a fight with your significant other.  no matter what is going on in the rest of your life, the hours that you are on stage can only be about being onstage.  the rest of the world has to wait, because that phone call, the family crisis, the fight, whatever it is, doesn't exist in the world of the show.  let it go. it'll still be there when you come back to the real world.

real world translation:  it's ok to be out of reach for a little bit. the world will not end.  in this age of being constantly available via mobile phone, people forget that this is not a necessity, but rather a luxury of the digital communications age.  there were hundreds of years before the invention of the cell phone (lasting all the way up to my own lifetime) when people couldn't be reached while they were away from home.  the world did not end. in fact, people seemed to be more connected to what they were doing at the moment rather than being preoccupied with the person on the other end of the line.  this was a good thing.  so turn off the phone, let it go to voicemail, check it at the end of the class/meeting/movie/lunch/dinner/whatever you are doing.  it's a wonderful thing.

so there you have it.  these are lessons that a life in the arts taught me.  these and many many more having to do with friendship and being present in the moment and hard work and discipline and the reward that comes with seeing the result of hard work that feels like play.  it also taught me that hard work can be fun, and that life can be fun.  it taught me to be empathetic, and live in someone else's life for a while, taking on their backstory and history and struggles and concerns.  but that's the topic for another post.  this one is long enough and i have to get ready for rehearsal now. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

summer vacation!

so, it's summer.  and i love summer.  this summer is particularly great because it's my first summer as a full time faculty member, which means i get to have a little time off.  not the whole summer by any means, but a couple weeks here and there to get away from the office means a few different things:

1. sleeeeeeeeeeeeep!  i've been doing a lot of extra sleeping - probably trying to make up for all the sleep i didn't get when i was stressed out about work all fall and spring.

2. VACATION! for the first time in years, we took a family vacation.  meaning that j and i, l and b, and mama all piled into cars and went away from home for a several day stretch at a time.  it was lovely.  we went to red river gorge, and stayed in a very nice cabin, and ate and drank and climbed things, and generally had a lovely long weekend.  it was only three days, but it was such a nice reprieve from the same spaces and routine.  plus being outside is awesome, and the weather was absolutely perfect for it.  here are some photos of my favorite bits (i won't put any people in the photos because i don't know if they want to be on here, but trust me, we had a good time):

our cabin

 the view from natural bridge 

and a random overlook on one of the hiking trails (my personal favorite)

later this summer i'll be heading to hocking hills with my bff, and then still later i'll be going to boston to visit some dear friends who moved away from me and i miss very much.  this is the first time i've been able to take multiple mini-vacations in one year, both from a time and finance standpoint, so i am taking full advantage!

3. the illusion of a clean home and tidy garden.  neither of these things have happened, of course.  i thought the elves were going to come and magically clean the house and pull the weeds and stuff, but they didn't.  they are real slackers, those elves.  sheesh.  i did, however, give the kitchen an awesome scrub-brush clean, which lasted all of a day before reggie got mad that i left the house and peed on the floor.  he went back in his diaper the next time i left.  jerk.  and then i had the battle of the ants in the kitchen, which went on for about 2 weeks until i discovered their food source (old jar of marshmallow fluff) and got rid of it and killed them with bleach.  yeah bleach.  but - the rest of the house is still yet to be deep cleaned, and i know that needs to happen... and i'll get to it.. soon...

4. sunshine!  i didn't get out into the sun much last summer.  i worked an extra lot, and i was moving, and i was just plain tired (like i thought there was something wrong with me tired) so a combination of a lack of motivation and a lack of desire to talk to any more people kept me away from the pool and out of the sun.  this year, though, will be different.  with my time off, i plan to be out and about and hitting the pool much more, hopefully getting some color on my pasty paleness by the end of summer.

5. books.  reading books.  for fun.  for pleasure.  in one sitting, sometimes.  already this summer i have read more novels than i did in the past year.  and i think it's because i'm not trying to squeeze it in around work and before bed.  i have reread the whole harry potter series already,
 and i just got hooked on tana french thanks to some friends,
and i'm looking forward to a summer of reading and remembering the joy of sitting in one spot for hours with a book in my  hand and getting lost in the story.  it's wonderful.

6. of course, crafting!  (this is going to require some sub-bullets) (also, if my sister or sister-in-law is reading she should stop now or risk spoiling the surprise of her wedding present!)

6.1. i have done a little knitting, but not much.  i needed something to take with me when i went to the gorge with the fam, and when i go stay with j, so highly portable knitting won out.  my uncle recently had some surgery on his foot which resulted in a rather large wound where his toes were removed, so he is all bandaged up and stuff, and needed "socks" to cover the dressing so they won't get dirty and all that jazz.  so, i just made a couple simple bags to serve as socks.  i didn't want to mess with a real sock pattern, since i haven't done socks yet and i knew it had to be a lot bigger to cover the wound dressing.  i went simple.  the first one i made was a basic black, but a little too short:


so i made the next one longer and decided that it should be in fun colors.  my uncle has dubbed it "summer fiesta" and it makes me cheerful just looking at it.

really though, that's the only knitting i've done... other than a couple random pairs of baby booties to donate to the nicu when i have a good collection.

HOWEVER...

6. 2. i have made a lot of good progress on my cross stitch project for l&b - finished an entire row of pages and almost a whole page on the next row.  for those of you who don't cross stitch, there are about 3,000 stitches on a single page of pattern, so that is a pretty big accomplishment.  i've only been off work for 9 days total (working days), plus weekends, and three of them were spent in the gorge with the recipients, so i couldn't work on their present, and another 3 were spent at j's where i can't take my cross stitch, so that left me with about 6 days of uninterrupted stitching time in which i did the end of the first row and almost the whole first page of the second row.
i took this photo as i finished the row - that's the full width and the center row of pages.  i've done almost another page below it since this time!

 my big goal is to finish the chart by the end of the year, so i have to get a giant chunk done this summer while i have time.  if i keep making progress like this, that may actually be attainable! i've gotten in a good rhythm with it, and learned a new technique called "parking" by reading a fellow stitcher's blog, which makes the whole thing a lot less tedious.  i concentrate on one 10x10 square at a time, and any colors that move up into the square above it i pull up and "park" in the stitch place until i get to that square.  it saves a LOT of time with the finishing off after 2-5 stitches, let me tell you.

cross stitch is a double edged sword for me, though.  i'm used to making things that show results pretty quickly.  even if i'm knitting something big, i can see the fabric materializing as i go, which makes it feel like i am doing something.  a lot of the time with cross stitch, i work forever and see very small progress.  so i get the "yay!  i made progress" feeling at the same time as the "holy crap this is taking forever" feeling.  it's rough, but i think it's going to be wonderful.

meanwhile, my friends (who are going to get the other cross stitch eventually) are celebrating their two year wedding anniversary today.  that's one more year that they didn't get their wedding present.  i know they don't care, but i do.  maybe next summer i'll use my time off to finish theirs (you have 5 years, right?)

so that's my summer so far!  there are still 84 days until the fall semester starts, and i'll be working some of them, but that leaves plenty of time to do more of the fun stuff.  yay summer :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

baby things, finished presents, and the slow progress of cross-stitch

hey there kiddos!

it's time for another update in jen's crafting world....

the update is that i'm playing catch up lately.

well that's not entirely true

i made some gifts for some little people:

that's the basic newborn hat by jennifer jackson on the right 


the multicolored hat and booties are for a brand new baby girl who belongs to some friends of j and i still haven't met yet... i worry that by the time we actually meet her she will be much too big for them.  but i made them when she was small... which is what counts, right?

the yellow booties i paired with kaity fraker's springtime baby cardi for a shower gift for another of j's friends... so many babies!!  
i do love making baby things though.  they are so little and cute, and so quick to make, that it's a whole bunch of accomplishment at once!  the cardigan may be my favorite of the bunch though.  it looks like a little old man sweater, and i think that babies in little old man sweaters may be the cutest thing in the world.  and it works for a boy or a girl, especially with the summery yellow (in my humble opinion)

after the baby spree was over, i worked on some grown up projects.  a lifelong friend of my sister's (and me too - we all grew up together, but they are the same age) is getting married in june and i made her a wedding present that took me forever... it's a two row repeat patten that just went on and on and on... but it's gorgeous and i couldn't be happier with it.   i won't post photos in case she reads the blog, but the project page is here if you are super curious. 

now we talk about me playing catch up.  on my board in my kitchen where i keep track of all the projects i need to do, i have a top section for wedding presents that currently reads something like this:
L & C - 6/6
K&M - overdue
L&B - more overdue
H&S - the most overdue

as you can see, the list of overdue projects is much longer than the list of finished ones.  one of them was a tandem project with my bff, who has been crazy overwhelmed with work this year and so getting our two halves together has not happened yet.  the other two... 

are cross stitch projects.  
i can say that because the people for whom i am making them know that they are cross stitch projects.  and they also know that it is much more likely they will receive them as 5 year anniversary presents than before that.  still though, i feel awful that i am so late on them.  

the thing with cross stitch is that, as rewarding as the outcome is, and as beautiful as a framed piece of stitchery is, and as much as i really do love making those neat, tidy little rows of xes in gorgeous colors to create a piece of art, it is very very tedious.  a tiny square takes hours to complete.  especially for me.  since i can't ever choose something simple and straightforward (where's the fun in that?) i choose big pieces based on art that have endless single stitch colors.  so after four hours of work i have merely gone from this:

to this:

doesn't look much different, does it?  

four hours it took me to make that tiny bit of progress.  and that is merely the center strip of the finished piece.  the other issue i run into is that stitching isn't terribly portable.  it's very difficult to take it with you when you need to spread out along the couch, with the pattern on one side, the box of floss on the other, the key next to that, the scissors with the box to cut all the floss after one single stitch, the pencil to mark off the stitches you've already made, and the work itself.  

my grandmother was a genius when it came to stitching in locations other than her sofa.  she would take it out by the pool in the summers and sit in her beach chair and work on the christmas gifts she was finishing for that year.  and the back of her work was a tidy as the front, and she was amazing.  i may have inherited a lot of my grandmother's traits, but that is not one of them.  i'm clumsy with my stuff, and the back of my work is atrocious.  the front is lovely though, and that's what counts, right?  

anyway... i'm hoping that since i have some down time this summer i'll be able to finish at least one of my ongoing projects.  but it is slooooooooow going.  and when i stay with j i take knitting, making tiny pairs of booties to a) stash bust and b) donate to hospitals.  they are easy and quick and don't distract me from my bigger projects when i'm at home.  i wish i were faster.  but i'm not.  i can only hope that the people i love for whom i am making these stitchery projects are patient with me as i finish them for 5 (10?) year anniversaries...


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rose and the Dalek

so i have this friend... and she is a fellow whovian.  over the years our friendship has included marathon viewings, big screen 50th anniversary specials, and, of course, doctor-themed gifts.

when her daughter was born, she decided to call her by her middle name: rose.

so what is more natural than making a whovian dress for rose that looks like a dalek?



taking my inspiration from other dalek themed projects on ravelry, i created a simple toddler jumper, basically winging it in terms of number of stitches and length and all that other stuff.  (and by winging it, i mean looking at dozens of other toddler dresses and seeing the basic dimensions and doing a lot of math and then hoping that it would all turn out right in the end)

so here is the pattern for that creation, which can also be found in pdf version on ravelry:

                                                                                                


Rose and the Dalek



Materials:
2 balls MC (Caron Simply Soft in Light Country Blue shown)
1 ball CC (Caron Simply Soft in Black shown)
Size 7 circular needles (24 inch)
Tapestry Needle
Abbreviations:
mb (Make bobble):
with CC, kfb into same stitch until 5 sts on needle; turn
P across; turn
K across; turn
P across; turn
K across; do not turn
Lift second st over first st; repeat until only 1 CC st left on needle

Skpsso: slip 1 stitch knitwise, Knit the next stitch, pass the slipped stitch over the knit one (dec 1)



DRESS
CO 140 in CC; join to work in the round – 4 rounds garter stitch as follows:
Rows 1 & 3: Knit around
Rows 2 & 4: Purl around

***Do not cut CC – carry up the rounds instead.  This will keep you from having to weave in CC ends into MC fabric on the bobble rows ***

Change to MC
Knit 4 rounds even – PM after 70 sts in first round
Rounds 5-7: *K9, P1* Repeat from * around

Begin Dalek Body – in rounds 8-68, follow the following
Repeat only from [ to ] the number of times indicated
Repeat from * to * once more to finish round

Round 8: *K2tog, K2, mb, K4, P1 [K4 mb K4 P1] 5 times, K4 mb, K2, P2tog*
Rounds 9-15: *K8, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K8, P1*
Round 16: *K2tog, K6, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K7, P2tog*
Rounds 17-23: *K7, P1 [K9 P1] 5 times, K7, P1*
Round 24: *K2tog, mb, K4, P1 [K4 mb K4 P1] 5 times, K4 mb K1 P2tog*
Rounds 25-31: *K6, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K6, P1*
Round 32: *K2tog, K4, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K5, P2tog*
Rounds 33-39: *K5, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K5, P1*
Round 40: *K2tog, K3, P1 [K4, mb, K4, P1] 5 times, K4, K2tog, transfer stitch back to Left needle, mb*
Rounds 41-47: *K4, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K5*
Round 48: *K2tog, K2, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K3, skpsso*
Rounds 49-55: *K3, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K4*
Round 56: *K2tog, K1, P1 [K4, mb, K4, P1] 5 times, K2, K2tog, transfer stitch back to Left needle, mb*
Rounds 57-59: *K2, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K3*
Round 60: *K2tog, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K1, K2tog*
Rounds 61-63: *K1, P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K2*
Round 64: *P2tog [K9, P1] 5 times, K2tog*
Rounds 65-67: *P1 [K9, P1] 5 times, K1*
Round 68: K2tog, K8, P1 [K9, P1] 4 times, K9, P2tog*

Change to CC – 4 Rounds garter stitch
Rounds 69 & 71: Knit around
Rounds 70 &72: Purl around

Begin Dalek top
Change to MC
Knit 6 rounds even
Next 12 rounds (2x2 “windows”): *K2 MC, K2 CC*  Repeat to end of round
Knit 4 rounds even
Change to CC & work 4 rounds garter stitch (K1 round, P1 round, K1 round, P1 round)
Bind off all sts

Straps (make 2)
CO 8 sts
Knit 103 rows or until desired length is reached
Bind off

Attach straps as desired
Weave in all ends
Wash and block if you like


Designed by Jen A. Martin.  Feel free to sell the finished product, but do not sell the pattern.  Thank you!

Monday, March 10, 2014

remember that time you asked me for...

i love making things for people.  really i do.  and when friends ask me for things, i always say "of course!  just as soon as i have a break from babies and weddings..." because let's face it - people keep getting married and having babies around me.

so deadlines like that always take precedence.  and except for the couple of weddings that are super duper overdue - namely my bff and my sister - i'm usually pretty on top of those.

this year, i have a little lag time though.  the next wedding i have to make something for is not until june, so i had some time to work on those projects that people have asked me for over the years...

i started with a hat for my cousin's baby:




and then some legwarmers that i've been promising a friend for a couple years now:



and a snood for my cousin - it's not the pattern i wanted, but when i tried to get to that pattern it was a block on my computer and i couldn't get it, and so i finally gave up and chose a different pattern:



and then i designed a darling little dalek dress of my own creation for my friend's little girl:




it feels so good to be doing this.  to be giving people things they asked for rather than things they never knew they wanted.  i hope i remember everything i told people i'd make for them!

ps: if you are interested in the pattern for the dalek dress, i'm still working it up.  i'll try and have it published asap :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

on the decision to join a gym

so, friends, i did it.  i spent the money.  i joined a gym.  i'm now a gym member.  i know, i know -  i belong to a gym for free at school, so why would i spend the money?  quite honesly, i don't go to the one at school.  for a couple weeks i decided i was going to go down and run on the treadmill every other day.  and i did.  until the day when the basketball team was working out at the same time and i decided that the shame of running next to a team full of swaggering college basketball players wasn't my style.  then i signed up for classes at school.  and i went, for a while.  until meetings and paperwork got in the way.  the gym doesn't open til 9, which is when i generally like to be at my desk working, so going in the morning sucks, and at the end of the work day i just want to get out of the building usually.  plus, 4:00 is a bad time to go to a class.

so when my friend said "you should come to yoga with me," i thought long and hard about what that would mean.  this particular friend is very motivated, and good at nagging (the good kind of nagging) me to do things.  she can usually talk me into things, even when i don't particularly want to do them.  and if she is going to 3-4 classes per week, surely i can find the time to do at least 2 of them with her.

and there it was.  i joined a gym.  it's not as expensive as the last time i was a gym member, but it's not free.  so i'd better go this time.  i'm even thinking of buying a swimsuit so that i can use the pool when my hip is bothering me.  so far i went to yoga on monday and felt better after, and then skipped zumba last night because my friend is sick and i have this book that i'm so almost done with and it's getting really good... sigh... it's a slow start for me and the fitness world, but i'm feeling like i need to do something.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Totally Indulgent

so i've been selfish lately.  like, really selfish.  i decided that i was going to knit a project that was totally and completely for me, and no one else.  i'm not gonna lie... i felt guilty.  i'm so used to knitting as a gift that i couldn't wrap my brain around knitting for myself.  "but jen, what about all those things on your list to give as gifts?  shouldn't you be thinking ahead to christmas?"  but i decided that it was time.  my office is cold, and i wanted something lovely for me and no one else.

so i decided a wrap of some kind.  wait, that's a lie.  i knew right from the start what i wanted to make.  see, i had fallen in love with the rockefeller by stephen west last summer, when it was everywhere at the young's dairy wool gathering.
(c) westknits via ravelry

so many people were wearing it, and it was gorgeous.  my favorite kind of thing.  the geometric patterns, the beautiful contrast, the right kind of shaping.  perfect.  the only problem was that i don't like working in fingering weight yarn.  so, i thought, it's a shawl.  sizing isn't super important.  i'll just use my leftover caron and go up a couple needle sizes.  so i did.  and i was happy.  for the first part of the pattern, and even about halfway through the second.

then, there was just too much fabric to keep on my size 6 circulars that i already owned.  and i got stuck.  i couldn't go on until i got bigger circulars, and i was really tired of spending the money to buy the individual needles.  so that brought me to my second indulgence.



the takumi interchangeable bamboo circular set. 


 i've been eyeing this set for over a year now, waiting until i had the justification and the money to buy it.  the stars were in alignment for me.  it was on sale, and i had gift cards, and i had enough bonus cash back on my credit card that i could order them at a cost of only $6 out of pocket.  i was a happy girl.

the day they came in the mail, i started using them on my rockefeller.  i was in heaven.  love them.  the only caveat is that they come unscrewed a little bit sometimes at the join, but if you pay attention and catch it it's not a huge deal.  (people really rag on them for this in the comments on amazon, but for this price, it's not the end of the world if you have to re-tighten them every once in a while)  anyway... so i finished the second part of the pattern, and suffered through the 330 stitch i-cord bind off.  it should be illegal for the i-cord to be used for any pattern over 20 stitches.  it's a beautiful beautiful bind off, and i love it.  but it took me over 2 hours to use it on those 330 stitches.

then came the wings.  oh the wings.  i nearly hated the whole project because of the wings.  i heavily modified the progression of the wings, because i nearly hated the whole project.  the wings start with something like 85 stitches on the needles.  and they decrease 1 stitch every 4 rows until you get down to 9 stitches.  it. was. so. boring. and, since i had gone up a couple yarn weights and needle sizes, the wings were ridiculous.  so i started doing 2 decreased stitches every four rows.  even that was too much.  the first wing i finished off when there were 15 stitches left on the needles.  just a quick i-cord bind off and i was done with that wing.  the second wing i got even worse.  i started decreasing 4 stitches over 4 rows and bound off when i had 10 on the needles.  i hated all the stripes.  i hated the wings.  i hated the whole dumb project.



then the most amazing thing happened.  it was finished.  and it was beautiful again.  i loved it again.  i have this perfect, warm, happy-making wrap all of my own.  and i wanted to show off to everyone.


i indulged my need for something of my own and my desire for the interchangeable needles.  i am a happy knitter.  and now i will return to the world in which i make lovely things for other people.  for a while.  until i need to indulge myself again.