31 August 2008

Through the Cracks

A couple weeks ago, I went out to the back deck to find J hunched over a tiny insect, very focused. As I got closer to see what was going on, J told me that there had been a large spider web and that he had pulled the insect off the web to free it. Though initially what seemed a good idea turned both of us inside out as we were left to watch the insect unsuccessfully struggle to break from the web that had encircled it.

Is the act of compassion rescuing the insect, or is it limiting its suffering?

Before we made up our hearts, the insect fell through the cracks in the back deck.

I think the true nature of compassion is to remain detached from your own feelings. More than anything, I wanted that insect to live, but that insect, I realize now suffered more because of our actions, despite the fact that our intentions seemed noble. Buddhism teaches us that all beings want to be free of suffering and that true compassion takes strength to cultivate. Our own feelings of rescuing and freeing the insect interfered with what was the more compassionate decision.

I've remembered that beetle every single day since that incident.

29 August 2008

Saturn Return

For anyone who isn't into astrology, the next little bit may be a little.. full of hoopla for you.

We had a staff meeting Monday night where it was announced I would be part-time (I won't amuse you to think this was the reason for the entire staff meeting.) Since Monday, though, several of my co-workers have approached me to ask about my wool dyeing, asking what I'll be doing, etc. One of the approached me today--she's a wonderful photographer--and commented that it made sense. Of course it did. It was my Saturn return.

The Saturn Return marks one complete orbit of Saturn around the sun. Usually, this occurs between your 27-30th birthday. Saturn is known as the "House of Troubles" or "The House of Karma" and so, according to astrologers, knowing where my Saturn was at the moment of my birth will help me understand what type of roadblocks I face. At the moment of my birth, it appears that Saturn was in Virgo--a sign marked with restraint, discipline, limitations, and structure.

As my sun sign is Capricorn--a sign ruled by Saturn--I'm curious as to how this may impact this Saturn Return.

Anyway. Hoopla. But it's interesting. It'll give me something to think about.

No new knitting news... but tomorrow is my last day in a full week's schedule! Hallelujah!

18 August 2008

Some newly dyed fiber:

(I'm just doing this to capture your attention!)

I won't lie... this week has been tough. As I'm inching closer and closer to going part-time, I'm starting to feel scared. A bit grumpy. And, to be honest, a step or three further away from my goals.

I really need to stay focused, but my mind keeps wandering. Reading through my last month's worth of blog posts is helping, but there's a lot of help I still need.

There are positive developments. One, I made my own seitan. I won't say it was a pretty or a fun experiment, but it sure smelled good. I froze the entire batch and learned a valuable lesson: use wheat gluten next time. I started with whole wheat flour and it takes forever (not to mention the water waste that was created by all the rinsing). Next time, I'll use gluten and I can skip all those water-wasting steps.

Still pulling through Walden. Interesting man, that Thoreau. I can't say I agree with everything--and he's a bit contradictory in places--but reading his philosophies really helps center my mind.

My goal for the next month: to start a dinner co-op. I've got several friends that are interested, but what better way to save money and eat home cooked meals every night? The crock pot easily cranks out a meal big enough for multiple sittings, or people, as the case may be, and I think it would be a fun thing to look forward to every week.

I really need to start cutting down on things and stop pretending that our lives aren't going to drastically change. Otherwise, this time next month is going to be really, really tough.

11 August 2008

Falling for Ewe Autumn Yarn Swap

Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft?

I have been knitting for over 10 years, but only seriously for about the last two. I don't crochet well enough to call it a skill.

Do you spin? What type of spinning do you do?

Yes, I've been spinning since November, though not as often as I'd like (though hopefully that will change). I tend to stick to wool, worsted weight yarns. I like single ply yarns but I'll ply 'em, too.

Are there any other crafts that you participate in?

I dye and card my own fiber, and occasionally sell it on Etsy. I make melt and pour soaps, but that's about all.

What are your favorite yarns/fibers?

I love any wool or alpaca. Squishy yarns are always good. Mmmalabrigo, of course, but I also really like scratchier wools like Peace Fleece.

What are your LEAST favorite yarns/fibers?

I don't like acrylic or novelty yarns.

Are there any types/brands of yarn that you are dying to work with but haven’t gotten a chance?

Yes--I'd love to try Socks that Rock/Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Malabrigo Organic Cotton, or any Green Mountain Spinnery yarns.

What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?

I have a lot of sweaters/tops/shrugs in my queue, but I'm usually a smaller project type of person. Hats, mittens, socks, even. I'm going to finish some sweaters.. yes, yes I am.

What are you currently working on? Anything you plan to start this autumn?

I'm currently working on some top-secret swap packages, but I'm also trying to find time to make a pair of "Squirrel and Oak" mittens for myself, as well as catch up on some of my Ravelry queue.

What is your favorite FO? (Please, post a picture if you would like.)

I am really happy with the Noro tam I made for a previous swap--picture's below somewhere.

What is your oldest UFO?

That damn Buttony sweater. I am trying to delay frogging it.

Are there any knitting/crochet techniques that you would like to learn?

I'd like to learn to steek, only because the more I stare at Ysolda Teague's new cardigan pattern, the more I think that maybe I need to learn to do it. But it puts a pit at the bottom of my stomach.

Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes. I have tiny feet--size 7-ish.

Do you have a yarn winder and/or a swift?

Yes, both.

Where/how to you keep you needles/hooks?

I keep my circulars (Denise and loose Addis) in a basket, all my bamboo single points in a needle roll and my DPNs in a jar.

Do you collect anything?

I collect garden gnomes, but I'm also trying really hard to limit the amount of stuff I bring home. (Is it possible to collect nothing-ness?)

What is your favorite type of music? Are you MP3 ready?

Sadly, I don't really keep up with music like I used to. I like Iron and Wine, Mice Parade, Boards of Canada, Mouse on Mars, Mum. But, I listed to Old Time Radio more now--particularly the suspense shows.

Do you like sweets? What are your favorites?

Yes, but I'm more of a salty person.

What is your living situation like? Any pets? Children?

My living situation? I am married and I have a cat and a dog. We live outside town limits, nestled away from busy streets. We're not far out enough to get lost in the world, but far enough that people like to pretend they can't get here. No children. And that's not likely to change.

Are you allergic to anything?

Nothing that would be important.

Do you have an online wish list (Amazon, Etsy, Loopy Ewe, etc.)?

Not anything that's updated enough to count.

Are you having a birthday during this swap?


What is your Ravelry ID?


03 August 2008


Lots to update here...

First, the menu of the week-ish. It's a week"ish" because it didn't start when it was supposed to and it won't end when it is supposed to, so it's a week-ish menu:

Lemon Pepper Tofu with Quinoa, Corn and Onion (we had this last night and it was delicious!)

(tonight's menu) Italian-Style Kidney Beans, Green Salad, bruschetta

Mideast Bean Pita with fresh spinach salad

Tofu Supreme (this sounds scary but it's a tofu sandwich) with a garbanzo-bean and tomato salad

Seitan Braised with Cabbage and Onion on a bed of Quinoa, Green Beans

While cooking dinner last night, I sauteed the rest of the tofu with barbecue sauce that became lunch today -- barbecue tofu sandwiches with tri-color potatoes and garlic. I am also going to make some eggplant curry, as I have eggplants that are begining to look a little... sad. I need to find something to do with them before they go bad entirely.

In one of my packages from my secret swap partner, I received the book The First Modern Book of Lace Knitting. It has several really amazing lace patterns and I've started (and almost completed) the first. My success with my first project has led me to sign up for the Mystery Stole #4 which begins the first week in September. You have to join the Yahoo group to receive the clues.

I've decided to knit the MS4 with Baruffa Cashwool in a gray heather. The materials list advised that we should also get 8/0 seed beads of ca contrasting color, so I've ordered black matte beads, translucent ruby and opaque green ones. Once everything gets here, I'll swatch them with each of the beads to see which looks best (and to practice this whole beading thing, since it requires you to loop them on individually with the world's tiniest crochet hook).

And here's some recent knitting, now that it's been received. The picture of the hat was taken without blocking and before it was completely finished. I think if I were to knit it again, I'd do a couple of things differently, but both the mitten and the hat were fun! Of course, I still have another mitten to make... but it'll get done soon!