Tuesday, February 26, 2013

what, no fiber?!?!? just relax!

Let’s take a moment to talk about… fiber.
You’re all like, but Ace, haven’t we BEEN talking about fiber? Well yeah, it’s true, we have. But so far mostly we’ve been talking about the fiber you knit with. Now it’s time to talk about – the other kind of fiber.
To make a long story short – for your sake and for mine – my stomach started really bothering me last year. I was pretty much miserable all the time from April to November. Conventional Western Medicine offered me a diagnosis, a prescription, and a life-long diet devoid of coffee, meat, sugar, high-fiber foods, etc (basically, anything that tastes good or that you thought was actually healthy). That wasn’t really acceptable to me, so I found a Chinese Herbalist / Acupuncturist who was confident that I can get back to some semblance of Normal. And well, I’m able to drink a little coffee every day, so I know I’m headed in the right direction!
I’d never had any experience with Chinese Medicine before this. It’s quite different – they really have a different approach to heath, healing, and diet. I can’t speak on the topic with any sort of authority – I can only give you an account of what I’ve experienced so far.
The Chinese seem to look at a lot of things from the perspective of the elements, the seasons – the interplay between hot and cold, summer and winter… Like, I can eat some fruits in the summer, others in the winter. Ginger for the stomach in the summer, radish for the stomach in the winter. It makes sense when you think about it – certain things are in season only at certain times, and with our instant-gratification, year-round, 24/7/365 mentality, it’s possible we have moved away from the natural order of how things work and what we would normally eat.
So, the Chinese doctor, who goes by “Anna,” makes me baggies full of what looks like dried swamp plants to brew into teas, powders to mix with honey and eat 30 minutes before a meal, pastes that taste like poppy seeds and petrol to eat before bedtime. The Neighbor probably thinks I’m nuts (“what’s in that stuff??” he asks. “I have no idea,” I reply. “Wow, you’re brave,” he says half with awe and half with suspicion…)
It’s all been helping. And now that I’m feeling a little better I’m now strong enough for actual acupuncture. I’ve been going every week for 3 weeks. Slow, slow progress…
Apparently everyone else just needs a tea or two, a few acupuncture treatments and they are good to go. So why is it taking so long for ME to get better?
Because I am my own worst enemy.
Here is a sample of a conversation between Anna and me that has occurred more than once (I’m paraphrasing of course, because her English is actually a lot harder to understand than what I’m writing here, bless her cute little heart)
Anna: You think too much.
Andrea: What does that mean?
Anna: You have too many things going through your head. You’re too romantic. You are never happy and you always get bored.
Andrea: …
Anna:  Your life is actually pretty easy. You didn’t have to emigrate from another country and no one thinks you’re not smart because you can’t speak the language.
Andrea: You’re right. I have a pretty easy life.

So what’s my problem? I think too much? Oh, and everyone tells me to relax.
Well how the heck do I fix that? If I have to think about it too much, I end up right back where I started and my stomach still hurts.
It’s so easy for everyone to say “You think too much. Stop thinking so much. Relax.”
If only it were as easy to just stop thinking too much and relaxing more.
I’m not really sure what to do at this point. Except go knit something.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

knittin' blues

You know winter is getting to you when the cold and the grayness and boredom set in, and you are tempted by craft-store acrylic and cute animal patterns. 

(This video sums it up nicely: Knitting Kitten Blues)  

Fortunately it began to snow before I succumbed completely, and now we are snowed in: I suspect the fever will pass, but what is a seasonally affected knitter to do in the dead of winter?  

The Christmas panic is over. The self-indulgence sweater sits unfinished in the corner with no signs of coming out. Trolling the 'net for new ideas becomes confusing and pointless. You find yourself eating instant maple oatmeal,  reading the safe-driving brochure from the insurance agency and the back pages of the Old Farmer's Almanac, searching for signs of spring. Yet,  it snows: everything is a relentless, seamless white.

Like the office white board. Empty of ideas.

But maybe that is a good  thing, a blank board, a clean slate!  I start pulling out yarn and piling it up on the window sill, where I can see the color against the winter white.


Shuffle the skeins around.  
Pile it in a handmade bowl and take it out in the snow.

Even the cat gets into the act and selects her favorite color: blue.
Finally, laying yarn out on my upstairs craft bench, something comes into focus -- it is a yarn garden, with plots and furrows and full of potential.

Some skeins are ready to go -- and many need to be wound.  

What better time to wind yarn than in the dead of winter, when the warmth and color are welcome, when the lure of the outdoors is minimal.

I brew up some French Roast, bring out the swift, punch up BBC4Extra on my radio app and settle in for some serious yarn winding.  

Project ideas start to form, and between twists I'm sketching fiber Tuileries for the year to come, plotting adventures in stash management. 

The sweater in the corner begins to look less hopeless, even interesting.  I'll give it another go over a movie tonight.  And suddenly, maybe it's just gotten a few degrees warmer.  Maybe Spring really is about to come!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

run for cover!

Ok I have to be careful here, in case The Government is patrolling knitting web sites for shady characters, or some weirdo trying to Google how to do some unscrupulous things accidentally ends up here.
Because - we are going to talk about bombing.
Yarn bombing!
Don't worry, it's SO totally not as bad as it sounds. Yarn bombing is a way to "decorate" the landscape, using yarn. Yes I guess technically it's graffiti and yes I guess if you were a really cranky person you could call it vandalism. But I don't. I call it art!!
I've always had a bit of a subversive streak - at least in my mind, but I rarely act on it. The one time I tried to leave campus in high school, I got caught and had to do detention. And now, a huge part of my Day Job is to follow a whole bunch of regulations and rules and make sure that my boss and I are always in compliance. So you see, I'm a Good Person - with a need to at least think about doing something out of the ordinary.
So yarn bombing is perfect! I get to create art. I get to make that art public. I get to meet people and have a hand in making my town a better place.
For a long time I complained about where I live. But about 2 years ago it hit me - instead of complaining, and instead of always wanting to move away (because it's not really an option right now), why not stand up and try to make this a better place? So a year ago, I started Yarn Bomb Tulsa with a few other local stitchers. We are a small group that plans knitting projects and events around town. We ask for donations of knit or crochet 12" x 12" squares, that we then piece together in the dimensions needed for whatever we're targeting. This year, International Yarn Bombing Day coincides with Knit In Public Day (which is actually a whole week in June, stay tuned for more details), and we are planning a few projects and a public event. I'm excited!!
On February 1 we bombed the Cain's - a great old wooden floor dance hall that Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys used to call home. My 2 favorite musicians from Austin were playing there that night and I wanted to give them a proper welcome.

bob schneider and bruce hughes can rock the cain's - so can ybt!

ace and accomplice brandi, happened upon some lovely art...

And it was still there that night!

I don't usually admit I'm one of the founding members of YBT. But there it is. And I'm proud of it.