Archive for the 'The new yoga' Category

Stitching every day

Friday, January 21st, 2011

I bought this book for my new Kindle:  365:  A Daily Creativity Journal:  Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life.  When I ran across this book, I was in search of a daily meditation book I could keep on my Kindle, something like Barbara Crafton’s The Sewing Room:  Uncommon Reflections of Life, Love, and Work.  A creativity journal was not really what I was looking for, yet, as in all things, what I find is often not what I was searching for.  I’m not even really sure why I bought this book, to tell the truth.  It simply “spoke” to me.

Of course, I’m quite familiar with the concept of a daily creative effort and the way in which committing to such an effort can act as a spur to creativity, a path to discipline, and even a spiritual practice of sorts.  Growing up, our father got up every morning quite early before going to work and sat down to write.  When I was a small child, he wrote on a typewriter (accompanied by much cursing, as he was a poor typist).  Later, he upgraded to a DOS-based computer system and word-processing program, complete with daisy-wheel printer.  Now, of course, he has an up-to-date (well, fairly) computer with an ergonomic keyboard and laser printer.  There are times, however, when he goes out-of-town or stays with family, that he still writes in longhand with a clipboard, paper, and pen.  The point is, in the 40 years of my life, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that he has skipped his morning writing session.  Very few people have this kind of discipline.  As a child, I took my dad’s discipline for granted, but when I really stop to think about it, it is astounding and awe-inspiring.

So, with such an example before me, I really have no excuse.

My new book is written by Noah Scalin, a man who resolved to make a skull a day for a year.  He used all kinds of media.  Some of his projects were small, and some were very large.  Some were permanent, and some were temporary, recorded for posterity only in photos.  Some were solo efforts, and some he made with friends.  The only rule was that he would make one image of skull each day.  All other factors were variable.  He recorded his efforts over the course of the year in a blog, and now has written this creativity journal as well as published a book of the skull images.

Yesterday I sat down and did a little brainstorming about what my year-long project might be.  A number of things occurred to me, but with Scalin’s advice to keep the outlines broad enough to remain interesting and flexible, I decided on these two year-long resolutions.

1.  Stitch every day for a year.

2.  Finish one project a month for a year.

Number one is cheating a little, I admit, since I normally stitch every day anyway.  By stitching, I mean knitting, cross-stitching (which I have been doing a lot of lately), sewing, and quilting.  I am deliberately keeping my definition broad here so as to leave myself lots of room to switch media and projects at will–something else I typically do anyway.

But resolution number one leads me to resolution number two–something a little harder for a craft transient such as myself.  I have many, many unfinished projects languishing in dark corners, drawers, and bags.  You see, my vow is to finish, not just any project, but a currently unfinished project every month.  At least one a month.  In any medium.  There are many possibilities here–afghans, sweaters, socks, shawls, quilts, cross-stitch projects.

Let the stitching begin.

The Difficult Person

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Last week, my sister and I were having a discussion about difficult people. You know the kind we’re talking about. Everyone has had experiences with these types—someone in your family or at work who is irrational and combative, who likes to keep everyone else on the defensive or a little on edge, who throws obstacles in the way what should be the simplest transactions or tasks, who attempts to drive wedges between people and play one person off against another, who is vicious and wantonly cruel, but if called out on his or her behavior will claim that he or she has no idea what you are talking about and that you must be crazy or pathologically oversensitive.

You know the type. You probably have one in your family or office. A person you cannot easily get away from, a person of untrammelled malevolence, someone who makes your days long and fills your nights with dreams of homicide. You know the type?

One of our grandmothers—God rest her mean, twisted little soul—was a
Difficult Person, so we are well acquainted with the territory. Well acquainted.

But as a result, we are also less patient with this type of individual when we encounter her elsewhere because we know from long and bloody experience that nothing satisfactory is going to come of interactions with a irredeemably Difficult Person. Nothing. We learned this lesson as children.

And they can never take that away from us!

Sarah and I were discussing difficult people not only because we were nostalgic for the Golden Days of Yore when Grandma was still alive and could spoil an entire holiday with one exquisitely-timed vicious remark over turkey and cranberry sauce, but also because I—as is inevitable in this imperfect life of ours—had once again encountered a Difficult Person.

My patience and tolerance sorely tested, I was casting about for ways to cope. Then I remembered the lessons of the “Wisdom” column in Yoga Journal. Admittedly, I used to cast the hairy eyeball on the “Wisdom” column because I had come to regard it as—in the immortal words of one of the great philosophic minds in the Western tradition—“windy, New Age horseshit.”

But upon further reflection, I realized that at core, once you (ahem) cleaned out the stable, you really were left with some of the basic lessons I learned in Sunday School. Love your enemy as yourself. Bless those who curse you.

There was in fact a recent “Wisdom” column on the power of blessings, a power, the article claimed, that we all have within us and that would bring us, in return, abundant blessings. But there was one catch: you had to bestow sincere blessings on people you did not like. A Difficult Person, for instance.

A very deep, Sunday-schooled part of me found this mysteriously compelling. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if I could bless this Difficult Person and create a magical nimbus of positive energy and love around our interactions? Instead of, for instance, thinking of ways that the Difficult Person might come to be poisoned with untraceable chemicals and the killer never apprehended by the authorities?

So I set out to become a blesser of the Difficult Person. I’m a morning person by temperament and I start every day by walking my dog, an activity I greatly enjoy at a time of the day I greatly enjoy. What could be a better daily backdrop in which to bless the Difficult Person? The day is new and fresh, anything is possible, I have a steaming hot cup of decaf coffee laced with high-fiber soymilk (The Breakfast of Middle-Aged Champions!), and I am parading about my neighborhood with an overexuberant yellow dog. People, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Thus I set about the sacred task of bestowing blessings upon the Difficult Person. On Monday, I offered this blessing: “Difficult Person, may you be blessed with joy, wisdom, and the love that all of us deserve.”

Not bad, I thought, and certainly in the right spirit, but a little generic.

So on Tuesday, I refined my blessing: “Difficult Person, may you see that the road on which you have been travelling is the road of hatred, not of love, and the road of hatred is full of stones and home to scorpions. May you turn down the road of love at the very next intersection. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.”

And then on Wednesday: “Difficult Person, may you find the right blend of psychotherapy and psychotropic medications to transform you from a monster into a half-way reasonable person.”

Clearly, I had a long journey ahead on the road to enlightenment and ennoblement.

With my program of blessings degenerating quickly, I decided to take a new tack. An earlier “Wisdom” column specifically about dealing with difficult people had suggested that you invite the Difficult Person into your special “Heart Space” (I can only hope that we are meant to understand this as a metaphorical or imaginary space…otherwise, blech…) and once you envision yourself with the Difficult Person within the imaginary of your “Heart Space,” you extend feelings of warmth, compassion, and understanding toward the Difficult Person, inspiring healing, trust, and mutual compassion.

So I invited the Difficult Person into my imaginary Heart Space and I was sitting there with the Difficult Person, exuding imaginary warmth, compassion, and understanding, when I noticed that there were a couple of violent-looking heavies standing at the door to my Heart Space. Since they were guarding the only entrance or exit, I immediately recognized them as the hired muscle of my Heart Space, a pair of spiritual bouncers, if you will.

Though I knew it was wrong, I stopped exuding compassion and motioned toward the heavies. “See those guys?” I said to the Difficult Person. “Maybe they can help you understand that in my Heart Space, it’s my way or the highway.”

Perhaps this was not what I was supposed to glean from this visualization exercise. Perhaps Yoga Journal will learn of my indefensible Heart Space interaction with the Difficult Person and drop me from their subscriber list.

But I think my expulsion from the Garden of New Age Wisdom, should it come to that, would be worth it. Already I find that I feel better about the Difficult Person than I have in months.

Zen knitting

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

After that whole Minnie debacle, the pain of which is still well in mind, let me tell you, I have decided that in lieu of never knitting again (which I briefly but seriously contemplated), I will do a couple of simple projects before tackling another sweater.

Neat, clean, brief projects with minimal chance of abject failure.

Exhibit A:

Scarf for Alex in Rowan Cocoon, Charcoal Grey—yet mysteriously labelled by the company as color “Mountain”…whatever on God’s green earth that means. 80% Merino Wool, 20% Kid Mohair, 100% Amazing. Also knits up on a U.S. 10.5 so fast that it actually makes you feel like a semi-competent knitter again and not the kind of person who would churn out an ugly, semi-unwearable sweater…but enough of that…

Exhibit B:

Socks for Nasser in a basic 5/2 rib. Knit from Classic Elite’s Alpaca Sox, one of the greatest gifts to sock knitting ever devised. Also in charcoal grey. (See, stick around and a pattern will develop…)

I figure the successful completion of these items should smooth my ruffled feathers and make Minnie a distant memory. And then…Tangled Yoke, here I come!

Meanwhile, it has not been a particularly auspicious week.

First of all, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs. (And yes, Laura, I can sense your gloating all the way from Cleveland, so don’t think you can fool me. I know the ways of the Cleveland fan, and they are the ways of the gloater.) Secondly, I have been ill with this mysterious “sleeping sickness” and although I am better, I am still not feeling as well as I would ideally like.

Ever just want to sack out and put your dogs up?

I can stand the fatigue and the general feelings of physical malaise, but what is really intolerable is the virus-induced black humour I nearly always find myself in when I am sick.

I currently feel, for instance, that civilization is in decline, that we are living in a moment of collapse of empire, that human beings are an overwhelmingly dismal species, and that I myself have made a series of irrevocable but mistaken decisions that have diminished my life.

Personally, I just like to get in a good nap as often as I can.

These may be slight overstatements. I mean, just slight.

Of course presently I will be well and all of this will seem utterly ridiculous. Well, okay, maybe not the collapse of empire business, but all the rest of it.

Then again, did I mention that the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs?

Berkeley Eclogue

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I’ll come clean about that title: Berkeley Eclogue is actually the title of a poem by Robert Hass, who has a lot of lovely Northern California poems to his credit. But since I was actually out in Berkeley for a whirlwind forty-seven hours earlier this week and I’m still in a recovery period, I figured I’d just borrow from Bob.

Besides, “eclogue” is a word that comes from the Greek and means short, pastoral poem, usually in the form of a dialogue between two shepherds.

I love the idea of a couple of Greek shepherds having a dialogue about Berkeley.

Dystopia the Shepherd: Diabetes, this place is as weird as Diogenes of Sinope in a business suit. I am prepared for glory, yet I can make neither heads nor tails of the people here.

Diabetes the Shepherd: Oh, I don’t know, Dystopia, I kind of like it. Dude, it’s got a lot of beautiful flowers.

And I’ve just, like, moved into a commune where all the members, like, drink human breast milk! Plus I have, like, an appointment this afternoon to get my aura washed and then I’m going to my Bikram yoga class.

Dude, it’s enlightened! Plus loafing around the commune fondling someone’s breasts—in a totally non-sexual way, dude—beats the living crap out of eking out a meager living by herding sheep all day.

Dystopia: Diabetes, the code of ancient Sparta does not condone yoga and communes, much less the consumption of human breast milk. I myself will repair to the local travel agency, Trip Out Travel!, and return to Greece.

(Note: You probably think Trip Out Travel! is just another one of my jokes, but no. It’s a real travel agency on College Avenue. What did I tell you about Berkeley being a very bad place for a satirist?)

That said, I had a really great time. I genuinely love being in Berkeley for short bursts. For one thing, there are the aforementioned flowers, which bloom all year round:

These flowers go with…

…this house. I feel certain that the person who lives here did something commendable in a previous life.

Let us compare the yard above with my own yard:
According to the karmic metric I have used above, I must have spent my previous life torturing squirrels and selling heroin to school children.

But I digress. There are redwoods:

And palm trees:

And old Victorian houses with vegetal overgrowth that is nothing short of gothic:

But most of all, when I make these brief visits, I get to see all my wonderful Berkeley friends, none of whom live in communes or incline to coffee enemas, and it’s always absolutely terrific. I’ve also learned that if you stay only two days, you simply don’t encounter that many of the maddening aspects of Berkeley. Then you’re back in New England—in the stiff and chilly but somehow comforting embrace of the descendants of Cotton Mather—faster than you can say, “War is not good for children and other living things.”

Of course, I did say that you don’t encounter “that many” of the insanity-provoking things about Berkeley. Some you simply cannot avoid. To that end, I need to “share” with you a new feature of Berkeley city planning, which to all evidence is done by malevolent chimpanzees.

See what that is? Yeah, it’s a roundabout. A very small roundabout on a side street, of a sort that seems to have sprung up all around town. Like poisonous mushrooms in the night.

Look closely and you will see that right in the middle of the very small roundabout there is a tree. Right now, it is a very small tree in the middle of the very small roundabout, but things grow out there like they do in a jungle. Let me assure you, that tree will get very large very fast.

And then?

Right. You won’t be able to see any of the oncoming traffic as you enter the roundabout.

Well done, Berkeley. Well done.


Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

First off, I want to thank all of you who left such kind and supportive comments on my post from Monday.  After I got to feeling a bit better (on Tuesday), I started to think that it had been a bit self-indulgent of me to post that on the blog, but I can tell you that it really was heartfelt at the time.  However, I certainly don’t feel that way all the time.  There are many, many good days, and there are also many days when I am able to retain my sense of perspective a bit better.  Anyway, thank you all for listening so patiently and responding in such a supportive way.  It really does help me to know that there are people out there who care.

And now, back to fiber!

Ellen and Alex sent me these three gorgeous skeins of Alchemy Haiku for my birthday last Friday.

Alchemy Haiku

I am attempting to think of a project that is worthy of their gorgeousness.  Thanks, Ellen and Alex!  (I’ve pulled them out to pet them several times now.)

In addition to baking lots of batches of cookies recently, I’ve also worked on combing my fleeces.  (Combing is a great activity for me when I am unsettled in my mind:  I get to work with fiber, it’s surprisingly physical, and it’s also repetitive in a meditative sort of way.  You have to pay attention, but not too much attention.)

I have a pretty little pile of combed grey Romney, which I hope to take to the wheel some time this week,

combed Romney

and more of the double-coated dark brown fleece.

combed double-coated fleece

(The guard hair is on the right in the picture above.)

I just really enjoy combing this dark brown fleece.  There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction in turning that unruly, messy, dirty stuff into something not only usable, but beautiful.  Hey, maybe it’s not a yarn of transformation (or not yet, anyway), but it’s a transformation nonetheless!

I thought about Monica’s suggestion about dyeing the guard hair, and then I started thinking about plying it with a strand of mohair (both spun fairly fine) and dyeing the finished yarn.  Wouldn’t that be pretty?  You’d get the greyed tone of the guard hair and the shiny jewel tone of the mohair, playing off each other in one yarn.

Hugo, meanwhile, has been occupied with pestering our old and chubby cat, Tortellini.

Hugo and Tortellini 11-29-06                                          “I just don’t understand why she doesn’t like me!”

Hugo and Tortellini 11-29-06                                  “Maybe if I go around to the other side…”

Hugo, Dog of Transformation.

Cafe Gratitude

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Still hanging out in Berkeley. You know, feelin’ groovy and generally diggin’ the scene. I’m leaving tomorrow, though, which is fortunate, because my supply of groove—never abundant—is really running low.

But I’ve been enjoying reconnecting with old favorite attractions, like the bear fountain in the middle of what we call “The Circle,”

the wonderfully recherché Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue,

the sunsets,

the weird decorations outside various bungalows,
One can only hope and pray that these are left over from Halloween, but in Berkeley, there’s no telling.

and the omnipresent scampering dogs on campus.
campus dogs.png
Quick, Scottie! There’s squirrels to be had!

This morning, I took a run over to my last house, just to case the joint. It looked much the same as when my delightful housemate Laura and I lived there with our two dogs, nine ducks, and two chickens. Except that a lot of stuff had been cleared away in the back yard and, come to think of it, even the front yard.

This could be because under the Laura and Ellen Regime, the house was busted by the municipal government for, “accumulations creating rodent harbourage.”

There’s nothing more embarrassing, let me tell you, than being suspected by the Berkeley City Government of accumulating crap in order to harbour illegal rodents. We really weren’t into rodent harbourage per se, you see, but there was a restaurant nearby and sometimes one of the, ahem, larger rodents (okay, they were rats) would wander into the yard.

The horror is beyond expression.

Laura walked out one morning to find several rats cavorting on the front lawn and overheard a passerby—who had paused to contemplate the gleeful rats—comment to her friend, “You know, I think the people who live here must be Buddhists.”

I know what you are thinking. But in Berkeley, it really was the most likely explanation.

After what came to be known as the “they-must-be-Buddhists” debacle, Laura decided, in a very un-Berkeleyan moment, that the “non-violent solution” to the rat problem was simply not working and she initiated Operation Rodent Apocalypse.

We won’t go into the details.

Ah, those were good times. Good times.

But there are new things in Berkeley, too. For instance, there’s a new joint called “Cafe Gratitude.” They have a prominent awning on which is printed, “What are YOU grateful for?”

Dude! You asked the right question.

I am grateful for Alex, for Shelley, for knitting, for friends new and old, for family, for flowers in November,


for avocadoes, for good wine, for good books, and for so many, many other wonderful things.

But most of all, dude, I am grateful that I no longer live in Berkeley.

Reporting from Missouri on Friday, where the KnitSisters will be reunited!

Until then, my friends, keep on channelling all that “positive energy” in the universe. Maybe if you get good enough at the energy channelling, you can save on your heating bills this winter.

Just a thought.

Feelin’ groovy

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I’m here in lovely Berkeley, California. And that’s not just rhetorical, either. It really is lovely.

I mean, here’s where I am a student:
Yes, it’s a redwood grove. On campus.

Down by Strawberry Creek.

Bikes are de rigeur, naturellement.

Wish they all could be California Halls…

Still, I just don’t actually show up in person here that often, in spite of the fact that I really adore my advisor, I think my department is absolutely great, and I have many wonderful friends here. As I think I may have admitted at some earlier point, I don’t really love the city.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I hate this town. I lived here full-time for three years and it never felt like home. I practically wept for joy when Shelley and I got on the plane to go back to the East.

Personally, there was only so much mileage I could get out admiring trees, having my aura washed, drinking exclusively shade-grown coffee, buying organic vegetables, striking a mellow pose, and feelin’ groovy.

So sue me.

However. I am having a wonderful time now. In spite of this:
Tomorrow is, however, Tuesday. Let the wool gathering recommence!

It’s a great place to visit. I mean it. I’m getting to see all my Berkeley pals and their babies (all of whom are beautiful and of well-above-average intelligence), I’m eating avocadoes whenever they are offered, I’m drinking fine wine, and—against all odds—I’m striking a mellow pose.

As you may have noticed, I do not strike a mellow pose easily, but I can fake it for a few days.

I am not what you’d call a naturally groovy person. I am rarely even cool, but—and it gives me great pain to admit this—it is widely accepted among scholars and experts that I have never been groovy.

But dig this! This is the kind of vegetation we’re enjoying out here. In November:



And here’s the kind of mellow, groovy, hobbit-style houses people are living in here on the Left Coast:
Berkeley house.png

And here’s the kind of conversations they have:

Dude One: So, it’s like, dude. Dude! We take all the positive energy in the universe and we, like, channel that energy into, like, recreating ourselves, like, every single day, dude!

Dude Two: Dude, that is, like…dude! So awesome!

One toke over the line, sweet Jesus? Um. Try, like, seven.

And feelin’, as always, groovy.

The mindful vacation

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Next week I’m going to the Carolinas for vacation with some family friends. To the beach!
No way! You’re leaving? Who’s gonna feed me?

And talk about timely! I just read this article in Yoga Journal about the mindful vacation. Given yoga’s ties to vegetarianism, it is more than a little ironic that I read this article while loitering around Wild Oats Market—known affectionately in this family as “The Goat’s” for reasons no one can fully recall—waiting for the butcher to make me specially four hot Italian sausages.

Anyway, turns out that the yoga folk have noticed that most Americans have trouble truly relaxing, that we tend to pack our vacations full of activities and busy-ness and then return home more exhausted than when we left. Well-observed point. The article recommended meditating on the beach. Or chanting on the beach. I think the latter is supposed to bring you “the twelve gifts of the sun.”

The obvious question here is, what the deuce are the twelve gifts of the sun? I’ll surely never know because chanting on a public beach is just not in my life plan.

Because here’s the thing: when a middle-class, middle-aged (give or take), Midwestern (by origin if not by current residence), American WASP is caught sitting in the lotus position chanting on the beach, having cherry-picked a practice from Vedic Hinduism, she looks—at best—like a total dork. At worst, she could even appear disrespectful to an old and complex religious tradition and its legitimate practitioners, even if that were not her intention.

As you may have noticed, I have no real problem looking like a dork. I embrace my Inner Dork and I regard her with compassion. Still, I think I’ll leave the beach chants to those who fully embrace the tradition of which they are a part.

You know the chants just aren’t for you when you find yourself secretly hoping that one of the “twelve gifts of the sun” will be hot Italian sausages and that another will be a six-pack of Negra Modelo.

But I think this whole “mindful vacation” is an idea worth entertaining, as long as it doesn’t involve Vedic-chanting, sausage-eating, Episcopalians down by the seashore. How about mindfulness through knitting? You know, the new yoga.

Here’s what I’m taking with me:
Rogue, of course. Note progress on sleeve.

Because nothing says “fun in the sun” like a hoodie in aran-weight wool!

Bamboo socks:
Regia, 45% bamboo; 40% superwash wool; 15% nylon; 100% fabulous

Since a number of you have asked, I’ll say a little more about the bamboo sock yarn. First off, photos cannot capture this yarn in all its glory. It glows. It has internal luminescence. You also cannot tell from a picture how wonderfully soft it is. Which brings me to a concern: how will these socks hold up in the long run? Remains to be seen, but the wool content should help. It certainly ameliorates the tendency of bamboo yarn to split, which is a blessing while you are knitting with it.

On the ball band the yarn claims to be, “ecologically pure and environment friendly.” Sounds good, but I don’t know how you would verify those claims. And compared to what? Are sheep so terribly bad for the environment? I guess they consume more resources than bamboo, but I seriously doubt that the lifestyles, consumption patterns, and emissions of sheep are really the most pressing environmental problem confronting our leaders today. Still, nothing wrong with a really nice fiber made from bamboo (and wool, let’s not forget)! It’s an idea whose time has come. Thumbs up!

And because I have absolutely no ability to judge how much knitting I can get done in a week, I am also taking Alchemy Haiku for Icarus:

Here’s what I am not taking with me:
You come to me two days before you go on vacation and you ask me to do murder. To kill mice. But you don’t show respect. You don’t show friendship.

Mr. Kitty has been especially insufferable since we let him watch The Godfather.

Since I’m leaving, I’ve also had to do a little housework this week so as to leave the place clean. What with the animals shedding like mad in the heat, it has been no small task to keep up with the sweeping. And yet, the moment I notice veritable drifts of dog and cat fur monumental enough to make Frosty the Snowman say, “Howdy!” any evidence of shedding, I get out my trusty vacuum and sweep that right up. Heloïse would be so proud!

Fittingly, the “mindful vacation” does not include an internet connection, so Sarah will be blogging next week with a little assist from Alex. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone in August.

Oh, and guys? May the twelve gifts of the sun, whatever they may be, be yours. Namaste.

A big storm knocked it over

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Although yesterday was downright pleasant, the weekend brought us some truly horrific weather in the form of the tail end of a hurricane. Those tails still have some lash left in them, I’ll tell you.
Results, regrettably, all too typical.

In one case a whole, mature tree was cut down in its prime. My attempts to photograph it on Saturday morning were foiled by—and I know you’re not going to believe me at first—the humidity. Yes, it’s true. There was so much humidity in the wake of the storm that the felled tree was barely visible through a nimbus of suspended moisture.

There were reports of 197% humidity.

Yeah, yeah, I know. But it felt true.

Fortunately, I had read an article earlier in the week about running the marathon in adverse conditions of high humidity, so I was able to explain to Alex what happens to your body when you force it to perform in 197% humidity.

Me: “Your body produces sweat, but then when it doesn’t evaporate, your body produces more sweat. And then do you know what happens?”

Alex: “No.”

Me: “Your blood volume drops!”

Alex: (Pause.) “That doesn’t sound good. That doesn’t sound good at all. (Pause.) How about if we go to the museum today? Where the lights are low and the AC is set to 78 degrees?”

Note that I did not emphasize (a) that, unlike the people described in the article, we would not be running 26.2 miles that day, or (b) that I have no clear idea what the medical ramifications of a blood volume drop are. But who cares? It sounds absolutely dire. And I wanted air conditioning.

Others had the same idea:

On a brief break from the galleries, I enjoy a contemplative and civilized knitting moment with my Regia bamboo sock yarn:
Knitting, the “new yoga,” can be practiced virtually anywhere with little or no risk of public humiliation. The old yoga, with its undignified poses and unfortunate insistence on bare feet, often proved socially devastating to its public practitioners.

Still working on the bamboo sock under the watchful and slightly disapproving eye of a 19th-century Boston socialite:
“My dear woman, it is hardly as though I approved of the old yoga, either.”

The bamboo sock relaxing with a book in a quiet corner of the museum:
“Oh, thank God we didn’t go to the zoo! I would have been forced to spend the entire day fending off pandas.”

And thus was a cool afternoon spent and normal blood volume preserved.

Just for the record, after admitting to you all last Friday that I had a Sleeve Problem, a magical thing occurred: I started one of Rogue’s sleeves. From the top down, of course. Because I would rather go to a quadruple root canal appointment at the All-Night Dentist than set in a sleeve.

But the real fun is gonna happen when I get to that complex Celtic cable on the lower part of the arm. The one that is charted going the other way? Assuming that you would knit the sleeves from the bottom up instead of the top down? Uh huh. That one.

Stick around. Things could get very interesting…

Knit two, purl two, namaste

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

We’ve been hearing for a year or so now that, “Knitting is the new yoga.” Like most of these kinds of catch-phrases, it doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny. (I also have issues with, “Forty is the new thirty!” Since I am nearing forty–but still vigorous!–I often get this from salespeople at stores like Sephora. If forty really were the new thirty, they wouldn’t be trying to sell me products like Philosophy’s When Hope is Not Enough. When I was actually thirty, hope was enough. But I digress.)

But for some of us, knitting and yoga do seem to coexist in our lives: see, for instance, the wonderful Yarn Harlot post of a couple of days ago. She wrote so delightfully about her problem with competitiveness in yoga class. I, too, both knit and do yoga (see below my yoga mat in its little bag surrounded by supportive balls of yarn my sister spun for me),

But as a few of you must have realized from my comment on her post, my problems go much, much deeper than hers. I figured I’d just come completely clean.

Although I have gotten a lot of benefits in terms of stress relief, illusory tallness, and general mellowness from doing yoga, I’m still like someone unclear on the concept. I have been known to pass the time while “relaxing” in the Downward Facing Dog position by fantasizing about what Chinese takeout I am going to order when I quit standing on my head with my posterior in the air. Or, since all I can see in that pose is my own feet, by becoming obsessionally seized with the conviction that I have painted my toenails the wrong color and that my toes look like horrible little sausages.

Part of my problem was that I started doing yoga seriously while I was living in Berkeley (of course!). I’d be the first person to say that Berkeley, CA is a great place to live. If you are not me. It never really worked for me; what can I say? I lived there for three years and never felt at home, not for one minute of any given day. It kind of wore a girl down some.

And as far as not fitting in, yoga class in Berkeley was where the rubber really hit the road. I used to go to yoga about three times a week, which was all fine until the morning that our yoga instructor wanted us to do a two-person pose that involved running straps around the other person’s waist and in between his/her legs and pulling in ways that seemed potentially damaging to the person’s long-term, um, fruitfulness. Remarkably, everyone else just fell into line. When the yogi asked why I was standing aside, I said, “Sir, my cultural heritage does not prepare me to assume these positions in public.”

So I already had that black mark against my name when the fateful day arrived. Here we were in the Tree Pose when a man fell over–just fell right over!–and before I could stop myself, I yelled out, “Timber!”

No one laughed. Needless to say, I was no longer welcome in that yoga class.

So now, even though I no longer live in Berkeley, I do yoga only at home. This poses its own difficulties, most of them related to my dog.

She likes to check on me when I’m doing yoga, which occasionally even means going underneath me when I am doing Downward Facing Dog (how fitting, yes?) and plopping down on my sticky mat. I consider this part of “working at your own pace.” You know how on the DVDs the instructor is always pointing out the woman who will be doing the “modifications” (translation: the easy stuff for the total losers)? She’s always named Natasha or something exotic. Natasha will be doing the modifications; Ellen will be working around a hyperactive, 50-pound dog. But that’s also fine! We are all about acceptance. It’s all good!

Here’s a shot that combines knitting (note progress on pair of socks) and yoga (note over-the-top sticky mat with paisley pattern):

In other knitting news, although I’ve repeatedly sworn off all lace-weight mohair, I keep falling off the wagon. It starts with a couple of social skeins, and the next thing I know I’m waking up in a welter of Alchemy Haiku and Kidsilk Haze, with no memory whatsoever of how I came to have this yarn.

Perhaps I need an intervention.