On Fitness

I haven’t written about health and wellness in awhile.  It is not because I have been negligent rather, I wanted to collect some data to share and show that exercise continues to be alive and well in my retirement  life.

When I retired, I said there were three things I wanted to focus on.  They were and continue to be:  knitting [of course], running, and writing/reading.   In my knitting life, I knew I would be attacking the stash working up projects I had only wished/dreamed of finishing.  UPDATE:  I moved OUT a piece of furniture that was housing yarn as those bundled fibers are now finished objects!

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Vest [Best] Dress[ed]

For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it.   I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it.  From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.

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Buffalo Knitting Guild Presentation, 2016

I want to capture, in writing, some of my thoughts from this last week when I was invited to speak to the Buffalo Knitting Guild’s Membership and be the first of its programming for the 2016/2017 season.  The talk was advertised as such:

SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 HOW DOES YOUR KNITTING GROW?
Presented by Marja Coons-Torn, Holly Olmstead

Our Guild President and Vice President introduce the theme “Grow” for this year’s Knitting Guild Season with a program to help you grow your skills through photography and technology. We’ll learn tonight how to photograph our knits beautifully and stylishly, just like the top designers do! And we’ll go on an interactive journey into new technology that the Guild will be incorporating this season. 

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A DC Opportunity Leads to a Knitter’s Reflective Moment

As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move.  (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)

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Creative Space Revisited . . . Again

Funny, when I notice my frustration regarding housing all things knitting.  I am quick to think it is the stash of yarn that needs some kind of attention.  Whether it be shelving for the large collection of yarn, or a way in which to organize the yarn, a color coding system, a pattern to fiber system . . . these sorts of things.   However I am noticing, it is not the housing of the yarn stash at all that is taking my planning and thoughtful consideration, rather the housing of my finished projects.  And, of course, as time moves along, this ‘challenge’ only grows.

I know, I know, you thought I had a system and I did.  Question.  Do you ever re-visit your own thinking or walk around critiquing this or that about your house after you’ve come home from a trip?  One of the things I like best about travel, besides the obvious, is that upon arriving back home, I do just that.  As if I were a visitor into someone else’s house and seeing the house for the first time, I walk around to see what it looks like, feels like,  I ask myself questions like what could I do to make my environment more pleasing?  Have I utilized light and space to its fullest advantage?

When I did just that this last trip, I didn’t love the arrangement I had created for my finished objects.  I also noticed the containers my sweaters were in looked sweaty, not a good look visually and I wondered if that was doing harm to the garments.  Also, I knew there was more space in my upstairs due to the fact that I have been working down my stash and not purchasing more yarn which is an amazing thing in itself!   Another thing I’ve felt, like children, when not in sight I miss them.  Yes, these projects really are a part of me.  ok . . I thought, I need to revisit my own system of organization of all things yarn and do so by utilizing one spare bedroom.

First step.  Since my closets are painted as beautiful as the room,  I thought, let’s take off the door so that it becomes an extension of the room.   “Does this shelf unit fit in the closet?  How ’bout a sweater nook?” I asked myself.  The sun streams east to west and narry into this space.  A bit of luck!  Let’s remove this, put that there and let’s see, “I think this may work!”   Not purchasing one new thing to pull this new arrangement off but rearranging in a smarter way, the look and feel is now quite different.

Feel free to browse my creative space.  I think I’m quite happy!

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fits perfectly

room for many more

The hooks were already there and yes, there is a working light in the closet and when turned on at night, is just beautiful.  Hey, if you want to see these things on, just look right HERE!

Space for over-flow is to the right . My knitted dresses and suits are housed, here. The top space is for sewing supplies needed for knitting.

Those four containers on the right? Leftover stash organized by weight . . bulky on bottom, fingering weight on top.  Such easy accessibility.

my precious Vogue Knitting collection . . .

There is no curtain on that back window because I love the view. That is where I sit and can view my sweater nook. ahhhhh

Would love to ditch that other curtain but you can see the sun streaming in. This is the view from the doorway. Heaven.

Until my next critique (after travel), me thinks this looks pretty good!

Where is the knitting?

The reader must be wondering, “Where is the knitting?  I thought this blog was on knitting!”  And, you would be right however, this blog also serves as a journal on related topics and I feel staying fit and making healthy choices interweaves in the kind of knitting I represent.

How is staying fit and making healthy choices a part of knitting?”   I’ll give you the top five answers that pop into my head.  1.  (staying fit) I want to keep my shape for as long as possible for the fashion statements I make with my knitting.  When asked why I knit, immediately I say, “for the fashion of it.”  2.  (staying fit) We have a routine for exercise that is meant to help keep that shape.  And, the routine is for two, hubby and me.

3.  (healthy choice) Even retired, there are responsibilities and obligations that are part of my life.  There is the enjoyable position as VP of the Buffalo Knitting Guild where I share my love and passion of knitting hoping to encourage and inspire as I go and there is a growing call for my time and service helping aging family members.  I am beginning to take my knitting with me for waiting room entertainment.

4.   And, full disclosure:  (healthy choice) Don’t get angry, knitters, but I do find pleasure in other things that are not knitting related.  When I take a break from knitting, coming back to it gives me a much greater appreciation of it.  5.  (healthy choice) Did you know people who knit for too long a period of time can and have done bodily injury to themselves?  If I sit for too long in one spot, my body get stiff and sore.  The repetition of motion of one’s hand, wrist and elbow for extended periods of time can and does create injury that could take months, if not longer to heal.  I purposely knit for short periods of time, involving myself in another activity in between.  So, one reason why you haven’t seen any knitting is because I’ve spent time on a number of these other things.

Another reason is because I am attempting knitting more than one item at a time!  Therefore, I am about 50% complete with two projects right now.  If you count a quickie crochet scarf, then I am in the middle of three projects.  ok, here is a sneak peak of the start of one and yarn (linen) for another.

I don’t think this multi-knitting projects is for me.  I seem to have a certain guilt that arises when I am knitting on one of the projects and not on the other.    I feel like I am not giving full attention to each project, like I am rushing through just to get them to completion. I notice I am not taking the time to appreciate the particulars like the detail, or whimsy of style, or innovative fabric.  When these projects are finished, I will be going back to my mono knitting.  Just call me a serial monogamist.

And, my last excuse why knitting has been missing in posts is because it’s been too blasted hot to knit!   (We have no AC.)  Even to have a photo shoot!   I actually do have a beauty in queue for a fashion shoot but it is a turtleneck!  It will have to wait.

So, enjoy some of these shots from our last bike ride.  This is a bike path that is quickly becoming my favorite in the local area.  I love how it follows a creek at times,

passes through a summer camp as it reminds me of my summer camp days, and winds in ever-extending trails through the University of Buffalo’s ‘playground’.

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Feel the summer breezes, take in the fresh air, work those large muscles, and know that knitting is always in the forecast of the future.

 

When Seniors Exercise

With this recent third incident, I said to myself, “ok, now I need to write a blog post.”  I am talking about our (hubby and my) morning outings for our daily fix of fresh air and exercise.   They don’t always go smoothly and we’ve just had our third mishap.  Me with my goals and hubby along for daily movement, we set out in the mornings either by bike, foot, or a combination of both, daily.  This is meaning we are both biking, both walking, one running and one walking, or one running and one biking.  I suppose it sounds confusing but there is a rationale for these combinations.   The large picture for both of us is to have a daily dose of fresh air, to move our bodies, to be together, and to have fun.  The main reason for the variety of combinations is due to safety, rest, and training.

Vignette one:  About three weeks ago, we set out, both of us on our bikes.  We got to our destination, were unloading our bikes, mine was unloaded first.  So, I got on and was meandering in the empty parking lot behind us.  We had not verbalized the direction we would take for our outing, so when hubby was ready he jumped on his bike looked both ways to see where I was but in so doing, twisted his bike and fell on the cinders and hard rock along the edge of the path.  More unnerved and embarrassed than anything, we mopped up the bloody mess, attended surface wounds, turned around, and went home.

Vignette two:  About two weeks ago we set out, both of us on our bikes.  It was an absolutely glorious day.  We do not always park in the same spot so as to vary up and keep interest in our activities.  Also, we vary the mileage, both on the bikes and on foot as the more we go out, the stronger we become.  Well, we were nearing the end of our ride, I was in the lead, and wasn’t even thinking of where we parked  the car.  This caused me to keep going.  And, going.  Hubby thought I would realize it, so he sat waiting at a nearby bench.  But after some time, became worried and began searching for me.  I got to a point that finally made me realize I was supposed to be looking for the car but by then, I had over shot it by miles!  I turned around, he was in search-mode, I was sheepish and that was the end of that ride.

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Vignette Three:  I was running, he was on a different bike than he normally rides. He wanted to ‘try out’ this bike he hadn’t ridden in some time while being my safety guard.  I took off, he took off, and I never saw him again until I reached the end of my run.  He claims I must have started in a different direction; I claim the different bike underneath him distracted him and he forgot about me.

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I say to myself, ok, three times is the charm.  What are these stories telling me?  What are we doing or not doing that we could change to avoid these minor mishaps that could indeed lead to major catastrophes?

I believe all three stories suggest a lack of focus on both of our parts and a  lack of communication in the area of informing the intentions of the other.  If I had said where I would be waiting for him in story 1, if we announced to each other where our car was parked in story 2, and if we reminded each other to stay near each other in story 3, these things might have been avoided.

Not a lack of communication in getting along rather a sort of reminder system realizing we are each getting older and need to say our intentions out loud.  Then, we need to make sure the other received the message.

We notice that if a direction is said verbally, it tends to stay in our minds better.  Much like counting the times around on a track out loud to know distance, or counting the levels in making coffee, hubby and I need to verbally remind each other of our intentions and desires more regularly and clearly enough so the other understands.  And probably, waiting for a response from the other to ensure auditory contact is in order, as well.

Minor tweaks to a well designed routine ought to be just what we need. After all, Seniors, at least us, just ‘wanna have fun’, too!

Mom Strong

The other night I was asked to define this term.  It was my daughter who asked and I took the request seriously.  I played around with the concept wondering if ‘MomStrong’ was a noun, verb, or adjective realizing it is truly all of them.  I gave considerable attention to its definition.  My daughter explained defining the term was the theme of the week at her place of work.

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Spring version of Renaissance Tunic

Well, I do keep my word.  Today, we had a redo photo shoot of my Renaissance Tunic, designed by Teva Durham.  Now, make no mistake as to how much I love this sweater as evidenced by its wearing this winter.  My love of this tunic is probably why I wanted to bring it to you, again as I wasn’t sure the first photo shoot did it justice.  However, this idea does add pressure to an already stressful activity.  That is how I feel with these photo sessions, pure stress.  Many reasons.  You see, hubby, who wants so desperately to please is not quite as flexible and energetic as he once was and the model is getting older.  Both get cranky and both want these photo shoots to be successful, at least in our eyes.  Also, a redo moment takes twice the energy to ready our ‘get-up-and-go’ and we (or at least, I) have high hopes of capturing some good looking shots.

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Blue Skies Trench

First and foremost in choosing a project, that project must be wearable in my lifestyle and go with the existing pieces I have in my wardrobe.  Of course, I am always looking at new trends in fashion, as I would like to think that even in retirement, I can continue on this quest of always looking fashion-forward.  But, what I have realized is that not all the pieces I intended on knitting are appropriate to wear in retirement and that I need to tweak my intentions for better purpose once knitted.   In an effort to get my yarn and pattern stash aligned to my lifestyle of retirement, I’ve had to do some reconsidering of patterns and re-shifting of yarns.  This has encouraged me to catalog remnants into their respective weights.  The more I play with my yarn, the more ideas I am getting and the more possibilities I seem to muster.   While this is exciting and certainly mindful of utilizing all of the materials I have here at home, I continuously need to remind myself to have patience and that I will eventually be able to act on many of these ideas.

This process has me researching in places I didn’t even know patterns existed.  Such places as VogueKnitting.com > free pattern tab or LionBrand.com > free  patterns.   Maybe, most yarn companies with websites have free pattern availability.  A function on Ravelry that has become most helpful is the pattern tab and its settings on the left-hand margin with specific criteria, being able to drill down to what you are looking for thus making pattern research more expedient.  Also, the function on Ravelry called queue has never been as helpful to me as it is right now as I can keep my pattern ideas listed there so as not to forget.   Well, one thing led to another and pretty much this is how I found ‘Trench Coat’ by Wilma Peers, a pattern from Vogue Knitting’s online pattern store.  Not a free pattern, but on sale.  I literally paid pennies.

I am drawn to the unexpected when knitting.  Or the juxtaposition of opposites which oftentimes leads to the unexpected.  For example a cardigan that can be flipped upside down or right side up or glamorous yarn knitted into a hoodie, or pleats in super bulky weight yarn.    When I think of a trench coat, I think of rain or wind and in a twill type of fabric.  So, the fact that this pattern was suggesting knitting a Trench Coat was highly interesting to me.  Hmm. . . I thought.  A trench coat for blue skies!  Complete with lapels and pocket flaps and what appeared to be a beautiful contrast edging, I had to go for it.

Then I noticed the suggested yarn.  Acrylic.  100% acrylic.  Oh, boy my mind began racing with all the thoughts of what could go wrong with this project in this yarn.  On the other hand, being so inexpensive I thought I would give it a try and when all fails, simply start over with yarn I knew more about.

So, I began and learned the half linen stitch.  This half linen stitch, formed with slip stitches and yarn carried on the outside of the work, creates a woven looking fabric.  Being of bulky weight (by title only as the yarn itself is as light as a feather), knitting the pieces really just motored along.  No button holes, no pockets (what you see are just flaps added on at the end),  this was really a breeze  to knit.  5 pattern pieces (back, 2 fronts, 2 sleeves, and the collar which is picked up from the neck and knitted) and it was time for my favorite part of any project, the finishing touches.   Bands were fairly easy to knit up the front however I had to readjust the number of stitches I picked up (way less than what was called).  And, for some unknown reason, the side seams were not cooperating as I felt they should.  A minor bit of blocking helped that matter and truthfully I was surprised acrylic even responded to blocking.  The collar edging as well as the flap edging was downright fun to do.  One has to pick up the stitches neatly as when the lapel is wide open flips to the front with the raw edge to the outside.

Well, I kept waiting for epic fail of this project.  I got to the end and to my surprise, I have what I think, is a beautiful, trendy trench that can easily be worn with today’s shapes underneath.

Details, details / Gift Wrapping Knitting

I like details.  I think they often make or break a decision, a choice, how I feel about something.  Did you ever notice when an actor puts himself into character?  The bow of a ballerina?  The music before the start of a movie?  The role of an actor does not begin at the first scene but long before and after to draw the audience into the portrayal of the story or to leave one thinking after the story has been told.

To me, delivering the wedding cape, talked about here to my friend was an opportunity to set the scene for the wedding that was about to occur.  Everything had gone smoothly in the process of knitting the cape so I wanted the happiness to continue.  Maybe, it was like Chapter Two, Smooth Transition of Cape to Bride.  How could the delivery of the cape that meant so much to me be delivered in a most meaningful and thoughtful way, to let the wonderful story of a wedding begin long before the walk down the aisle?

Well, this is what I did and it created some inquiry on Ravelry.

It happens that I have not only a yarn stash but also a collection of sewing materials.  I was, after all a seamstress long before I was a knitter.  It is surprisingly often that I go into the ‘sewing vault’ for something I  am knitting.  Snaps, seam binding, elastic are some items I’ve needed.  So, when I was thinking about packaging this project, I remembered I had a catch of fabric bags I had received yarn in.   How perfect are these bags for gifts!   I love that the hand knitting shows through this fabric.  These are just squares of tulle with a ribbon as a drawstring top.  How easy would these be to make, in just the right size, with ribbon strung through to match the theme of your gift!

I knew that the bride’s colors were navy blue and orange.  So, I took some pictures, like the one above of the cape packaged by our Van Gogh “Sunflowers” painting and sent the photos to her Mom.   Maybe, to be added to the photo album of the wedding?  It was my way of staying within the theme of the story that was being created.

When I saw these photographs of the cut flowers and flower arrangers, I was taken aback.  First, I had to hold my breath at how gorgeous the flowers were.  Then, I noticed the warmth on the faces of the arrangers.  Then, and only then I realized how our Van Gogh painting came pretty darn close to the exact shade.  Sight unseen, I thought that pretty spectacular.  Can’t you just feel the love in the air?

Here is a picture of one beautifully created centerpiece.  I like the touch of the navy fabric underneath and the warm light bouncing from the flickering candles.

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I wish the bride and groom every happiness in their future, and I must say, as I notice details, I do love the navy pumps in the photo, below.

Photo credit:  Amy Paulson/photography