Talking To Strangers

As a traveler, it is difficult to be shy.  There are so many people you encounter along the way, how can you resist making friends?  With social media and faster technology, it becomes even easier.

Having grown up in theatre, talking in front of people has always been natural for me.  That has translated into being able to create small talk at the drop of a hat; elevators don’t get quiet, train rides become entertaining, and I come away from these encounters with interesting stories and sometimes small tokens of the accidental friendship.

Last night, I left my cyr class and walked to the bus stop.  There was a fella standing there when I arrived, and he asked if I knew when the next bus was coming.  I replied “Nope, but at least it’s warm tonight.”  This seemed to spark something in him, because he replied about how cliché it is to talk about the weather.  I laughed and asked if he would rather talk of something else.  This was the beginning of a conversation that lasted the entire bus ride.

In the middle, he pulled a box out of his backpack and asked if I would like a paper crane.  Delighted by this, I selected a brightly colored one from the box.

I was on the bus heading towards a Couchsurfing meet-up.  Couchsurfing is my preferred method for traveling – you search ahead for a couch to crash on with a local in the destination town; it’s free and opens up a side of the city you may not have seen otherwise.  My network has grown over almost every continent because of Couchsurfing.  The Chicago meetups happen regularly, but I rarely get to attend.  A few beers, an amazing cashew butter and jam sandwich, and belly-aching laughs later, someone dumped a handful of origami on the table and offered them up for grabs.

Amused, I extracted the tiny little crane I had gotten on the bus just two hours earlier and showed them.  The gifter chuckled and plucked a large turquoise crane from the pile, offering it to me, a mate to the little one.  I don’t even remember her name, but I remember her face and smile, and the smiles on the faces of other giftees.

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Now, the two little cranes sit atop my computer monitor, brightly colored and about to take flight.  Each reminds me of the people I met with a simple salutation.

This is Why I Don’t Make Socks

1) There are two of them

2) If you are working on something particularly difficult, it’s liable to leave you frazzled, in the corner, and chewing on the edge of the cuff

3) They like to play tricks on you, by changing gauge, or eating up rows and ending up an inch shorter than its partner. (Case in Point; see Figure 1)

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4) Of all of the hand knits, they are worn through the quickest.

5) You cannot wear socks in the summer, and it is difficult to find a cute pair of heels that works well with the socks in the winter.

6) Otherwise, the handmade socks just end up inside of boots and the world never sees them.  And they get worn through faster.

7) They are on tiny needles, with tiny yarn, and take so much longer than other projects.  Consider this, combined with points 4 and 6.

8) While not always the case, sock yarn tends to run between $20 and $30, which makes it a very expensive pair of socks.  I feel less guilty if I turn the skein into a fancy scarf or wrist warmers.

I’m not sure if I want to rip out the sock to just before the heel, add an inch, and continue, or just rip out both and make something else (like this or this).  The first sock, I knit on the way to and from Burning Man last year, but the second one is rife with frustration and discontentment.  I love the yarn, so I would like to put it to use in a way that makes me happy.

Do you like socks?  What are your cases in support of sock-knitting?

 

Hibernating

This morning there was snow.  Yup.  A layer of bright white snow to mock the recently delightful temperatures.  I spent Saturday lounging on a deck outdoors, sipping a beer and knitting away – WITHOUT a jacket.  And this morning I’m back to needing boots.  My mind and body are in turmoil.  There are spurts of energy as the sun comes out and I want to get a million things completed.  Then I look outside and just want to curl up in my blankets with hot tea again.

I started something new, just to break up the monotony. This is for Ellette. The problem lies in the guilt I feel when I grab a pre-existing project.  Ellette looks at me with a scowl and says “You’re not working on my sweater!” I think I’ve gotten past the worst of this one though.  The pattern is Get Off My Cloud, by Kate Davies.  One of the reasons I was drawn to it was the adorable puffy sleeves.  I failed to remember that puffy sleeves mean loads of extra stitches, and the last few rounds were intense.  Not only was my mind going numb, but my wrists were starting to hurt from pushing the large quantity of loops around the needles.

 

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This morning, however, I managed to separate the sleeves from the body.  It should be smooth sailing from here on out.

I just want something to be finished right now, and preferably something simple and without difficulty.  I could use some instant gratification. And no more snow.  I could really do without that again.

Not Enough Silly

I am a very active person.  By this, I mean that I must always be engaged in something – whether it’s training, socializing, knitting, working, etc.  I have to feel like I have a purpose to my time.  The feeling of being bored or unproductive is the worst.  There are so many things on my to-do list; more than I think a lifetime could fulfill, but this ensures that I am always working on something.

The problem I am facing is this thing called a day job.  Initially, the office life was stable, consistent, and helped fund my creative and artistic endeavors.  Then I started teaching and other worlds and possibilities opened up to me, and I’m trying desperately to straddle the line between what I want to do, and what I have to do to stay alive.  And then my legs getting tired from holding myself between the gravitational pulls of the two worlds and my neck gets sore from looking back and forth, and I collapse in a fit of tears and anger because I can’t do it all, and I’m tired from trying.

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There’s a ball of yarn, neatly caked and ready to turn into a functional piece.  Sometimes, when you reach into the center, the yarn gets tangled a bit and out comes the fiber vomit.  There’s nothing you can really do but sigh and work through the tangles.  I am that ball of yarn vomit right now, working out the tangles so that the ideas that are neatly caked in my head can be turned into breathtaking works of art.

It started a few weeks ago, when someone I met at Burning Man found me on Facebook, and we started chatting and catching up.  He was telling me all about the silly things he’s been up to, and I was momentarily jealous.  I’ve got silly things going on, also, but not as much as I want.  I have a shortage of silliness in my life, and an abundance of serious.

It really struck me as a problem last week when I was sitting on the couch with Ellette.  I took the afternoon off of work to take care of doctors appointments, one for me and one for her, and it was the first solid chunk of time we’d had together for ages.  So, there we are sitting on the couch and we’re talking about what we should do with our afternoon.  And she asked if we could paint our nails because a classmate of hers was going to be spending the afternoon with her mom painting each others nails, and Ellette thought it was a wonderful mommy-daughter activity.  We didn’t paint each others nails but I did hang out with Ellette while she painted her own, and while she was busy with that, I asked what her thoughts were on how we were living – the hustle and bustle, the long days training, the short evenings together – did she mind?  Overall, she said, she liked it because no one else in her class was doing it and she felt like it was something special.  And then she mentioned, almost quietly, that she wishes we had more time together, doing special mother-daughter things, like painting our nails together.

That was a punch to the gut.  I felt instantly guilty about not sucking up my exhaustion and sitting on the floor with her.  I did promise that we will do more together; and I’m following through with some wonderful just-the-two-of-us trips for this summer.

This is what has been bouncing around my mind lately.  It’s making me a little angry and a little depressed, and a lot jittery to move on to the next adventure.  I am working and training so much now that it is no longer affecting just me.

This is the moment that I tell the world: WE NEED MORE SILLY!  And, I for one, am taking giant leaps of faith so that silly will be an every day adventure for me.

 

They Did It Again

The end of session recital struck again this weekend, and the 30+ students I teach descended at once.  I spent the first 3 hours of my day coordinating last minute rehearsals, trying to stretch and warm up a few dozen excited and nervous girls, and answering a million mundane questions.  And then the room filled with parents, grandparents and friends, and the girls lined up eagerly to perform and cheer on their friends, suddenly quiet as the magnitude of the day struck them.

I tried to upload a video yesterday from my phone, but technology did not cooperate with me – so this is what you get today.

The girls I teach are so much fun.  They are committed to learning, interested in every aspect of aerial arts, and constantly surprise me.  I love watching them figure it out, watch them finally nail that trick they’ve been working on for weeks and see their faces light up when they realize they did it.  I’ve been telling them over and over again that the knowledge is in them, the execution will be perfected, it takes time and most importantly, the ability to relax.  When we get to the recital, they don’t think they’ve got any of it, and then they surprise themselves.

I’ve been bragging about them quite a bit since yesterday, playing the videos every chance I get and telling the story of each of these girls.  This one couldn’t do this trick and it made her cry, but look – she did it perfectly!  And this one – it took a long time to build up that strength, but she got there.  Or this one hated the fabrics, but rocks the trapeze!  I love them all and they all stand out for me – their strengths and weaknesses, their favorite moves, their attitude and endurance.  It’s taken some skill getting to know who I can be stern with, who needs a bit more encouragement, and when to crack down and when to give up on the cracking down and throw in a silly exercise to loosen the sour faces.

This video clip is Ellette and another student (They are inseparable for the most part).  They picked the apparatus, and we experimented with height.  And then they choreographed a good deal of it on their own.  When they got stuck, I jumped in with tips, exercises, new tricks, endurance training, and the one day we were all stumped, I sat down with them and watched videos and looked at pictures and brainstormed as a trio.  Seeing them perform it in the end was a huge sigh of relief.  It turned out beautifully.  I can’t wait to see how they continue to develop as artists!

Oh Bleeding Yarn!

Dear Eyes Wide Open,

You sure opened my eyes.  I was so excited to make you – I loved the openness of the fabric, and the idea of pairing it with a camisole or over my leotards this summer.  I was excited to use up so much yarn, and how quickly, too!  I really enjoyed everything about making you.

And then I found the pattern error.  And, it wasn’t a clear pattern error where I understood a simple miscount.  This would dictate the plunge of the neckline.  And I messaged the designer, and haven’t heard back from her.  I know this isn’t your fault.  These things happen.  And seeing as I am the second person ever to attempt your construction, I kind of figured there would be some sort of issue.  I can deal with a pattern error.

But then! I decided to block the pieces I have so far – the sleeves and the back.  And…well…. How could you?

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I realize part of this is my error in yarn choice, but I did not anticipate the amount of bleeding that would take place when you were submerged.  When I first pulled out of the bath and gave you a towel stomp, the white had flecks of hideous denim blue throughout.  I thought I could rinse it out, so I plunged you in the water again.  This time, the white turned entirely dusty pale blue.

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I would almost be ok with this, except the white at the shoulders is still splotchy.

Combine this with the pattern error, and the temptation to put you in the corner is, well, overwhelming.  I loved you, I don’t understand how you could betray me this way.   I wanted so much to be wrapped up in your fibers, to welcome summer together.  And now…I would look like blue spat up on me.  And how can I trust that your delicate dye won’t rub off on the layers underneath?

I’ve been searching for an answer, and trying to understand what your motivation could be.  But I’m completely in the dark.

Please, open my eyes.

Sincerely yours,

Pixie

Sunday

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Relaxing in the air.

Can You Tell?

This sweater has really been giving me the run around.  Or rather, the yarn itself has been rather uncooperative.  It was a gift from a friend who was stashbusting.  Those kinds of gifts can be amazing (for instance, same friend just sent me a bag of yarn, and it was more lovely than I could have imagined!).  This gift was a wonderful gift; it is that some of the balls had been knit, and therefore were caked without ball bands.  I know what the yarn is, and roughly what color, just not always which dye lot.

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So this sweater has been a bit of cobbling together what I think is all the same yarn, realizing I don’t quite have enough and trying to piece together other yarns for it.  This is the back of the sweater, and therefore what the main body will look like.

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I bring up the color thing because the shoulders are white.  They are white because I ran out of the blue ball in the very last row.  When I attached the next ball, I realized that it was ever so slightly paler than the previous, and crocheting a whole row would have been awkward.  So, the white was thrown in to distract you from the color difference.

Can you tell?

The last three balls of blue I have are also a tad mismatched.  Two are the slightly lighter shade of blue, and one is the same blue as the front.  Do you think a shade difference between front and back would be noticeable?

Vacant Expression

I’m still working on this sweater, expecting it to be bigger every time I pull it out of the bag, even though I don’t work on it except for the 1 hour lunch break I have Monday thru Friday.  In the evenings and on the weekends I’ve been working on a different summer sweater – a new pattern that I’m really excited about.  This one, though – with the rows and rows of blue ripples – just sits there mocking me with it’s “Eyes Wide Open.”

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Granted, I have been spending a lot of my evenings with a similarly blank expression.  Something about my life right now is exhausting me to the core.  I had enough energy to get very upset about the state of cleanliness (or lack of) in my apartment last night, and then realized that the mess is all mine and I can’t get mad at other people for it.  My jam-packed schedule is also entirely my fault, and complaining about it doesn’t get me sympathy, just smirks.

Tonight, I hope to blast the music, clean the house, work on my hula hoop routine for this weekend’s performance, and knock out a bit more of this sweater before collapsing in my bed.  If I can get even one thing crossed off that list, I’ll feel successful.  Check back later for either “Pixie’s Mischievous Meltdown” or “I Deserve a Gold Star.”

Sunday

Back to my regular posts. Yay!

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