Day 105

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Another song for when things are Not Ok, and even when it is. I love Paramore’s music. I love that it rocks. I love that Hayley is pretty and wears t-shirts and jeans. I love that I can sing along.

This one is called ‘Pressure’. I’m feeling weighed under by it today.

I hate feeling sick with worry most especially when I don’t know where the worry is coming from. I can’t stop it if I don’t know how it started. And, of course, worrying about that just makes it worse still. You know,  I don’t even wish I were well. That’s just a pipe dream these days. I just don’t want to feel like this any more. I don’t want my jaw and shoulders to ache from tension, or my gut to be cramped with anxiety.

Please don’t think that I am waiting for a miracle cure. I know that to get through this is largely up to me but there is a chasm between where I am and where I need to be to be able to do the things I need to to get out of this mindset. Sometimes it feels worse to know that, to have been on the other side of the yawning gap and to have it far behind me and know how much nicer it is over there. But right in this moment, the chains holding me here are many and so very heavy.

I haven’t crafting a stitch today. I’m still trying to talk myself into knitting today’s trapezoid……

I’m going to restart the free meditation programme at Headspace then pick up the blanket and do the knitting. Be right back…

I’m still restless and unhappy but the meditation helped. so trapezoid today….. Pink is a happy colour for me and I wanted to be cheered up.

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Day 30

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In the video from Day 6, Renate Hiller talks about the spirals in spinning that are repeated throughout nature, and the empathy with others fostered by creating yarn. I have always felt a connection to the past through my crafting but spinning has also taught me to find myself in the actual process.

I have been using the guided meditation from GetSomeHeadspace.com. In these, the repetition of your breathing is used as a focus. (I am sure this is true for other meditations but I have no experience with those.) Spinning yarn is a very repetitive process. From preparing the fibre through to the actual spinning. Your hands and the texture moving through your fingers becomes your focus, the rhythm of your heart beating to match the beat of your foot working the treadle and the spinning of the wheel in motion becomes hypnotic in your peripheral vision. Rhythm and repetition. I have lost many hours to this activity and come through it feeling slightly hazy and much calmer, just as I do after meditation. It is a time of intense but low pressure focus, and a time when the mind can be free to wander or to turn inward.

Meditation is, at least for me, about looking inward to re-establish my equilibrium. Some people exercise to do this. Some people clean house. I make, which allows me the opportunity of bringing happiness to other through gifts and through sharing my knowledge. I am very grateful for these skills and talents. In a society that places so little value on them, it is not about proving myself but about improving myself and the portion of the world I inhabit.

I have studied music on various instruments throughout my life. Do not think this makes me some sort of virtuoso. I got bored *a lot* but loved music so would eventually return. A few years ago I decided I would sit the music exams for an instrument. I lack the coordination to be a good piano player, and lacked the funds for a flute or something similar (I adore the oboe!) but I could afford a recorder. For 2 years I learned and perfected and enjoyed. The recorder is capable of such beauty and for many many years it was an instrument for which concerto’s were written. It was not a cheap instrument inflicted on children and parents alike but a valued talent.

It was during this time that I discovered the much celebrated recorder player Michala Petri and by extension some beautiful music that is so rarely heard because the recorder is considered such a nuisance as to never be played beyond childhood.

I fell in love with the music of composer Giuseppe Sammartini through Michala Petri’s performances and this is what I am sharing today. It is more than 12 minutes long but well worth listening to.

While listening to this I knitted another rectangle onto the blanket in the beautiful purple Fortissima Shadow Color yarn.

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My goodness! How am I getting worse at taking these photos?!

I’m more than halfway through the layout I shared a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be adding more to it in the next week or so.

Day 27

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Today has been a special brand of ‘What sort of frikkin’ idiot thought that would be ok?! You arse! Thanks for making this all so much more difficult than it ought to be.’ The lack of thought or effort some people put in to their actions can be utterly flummoxing, even when it is neither a surprise nor unexpected.

Bah!

After the Second World War, the Powers That Be were trying to work out why an entire nation followed a mad man into committing atrocities even they couldn’t explain their involvement in. One of many of the experiments done in an effort to make sense of this was done by a man named Milgram that studied whether people will continue beyond their comfort zone in an assigned activity if there is an authority figure giving them permission and offering reassurance that all blame will be theirs. The results were alarming. It showed that if there was an authority figure giving instruction, giving reassurance and absolving guilt, the participating person will continue with the activity well beyond the point they would have stopped if they were on their own. In the recordings of the experiments you can see people muttering their protests and displeasure, or giggling with nervous hysteria but they don’t stop.

There are a lot of things in life that we do that we wouldn’t otherwise when we are emotionally or mentally removed from a situation we are in. The anonymity of the internet allowing the unbelievable unpleasantness that is found on forums and Twitter is one example. There is no guilt or blame because no one knows who you really are, thus the Internet becomes the authority figure that absolves you of guilt or wrongdoing.

But this can also be used in a positive way. I find this happens with guided meditation. It is easier to relax more deeply, and possible to let go a little more than during my own meditation because someone is telling me it’s ok. I trust that the guide will take me ‘there’ and ‘back’. We all crave that ‘good boy/girl!’ pat on the head from others after doing good work and having even a recorded voice as encouragement makes a difference. I believe my meditation is more satisfying and satisfactory because of it. (go to getsomeheadspace.com to see what I mean.)

And now for something completely different….

Bill Bailey (on the guitar) is primarily known as a comedian but is as likely to use a piano to make a joke as not.

Did you recognise the music? Did you know you should know it? It’s ‘Duelling Banjos’ from the movie ‘Deliverance’. I’ve never seen the movie (and have no intention of changing that given what I’ve heard about it.) but still love this piece of music but the level of Epic went up with this version.

Turquoise rectangle today!

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Day 5

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Today has been a mixed day. I didn’t want to go to knitting this morning. It starts early so it’s always a bit of a pain to get up and get going but I enjoyed myself well enough when I got there. As usual though, I knit not a stitch. Part of that was because i had breakfast at the cafe but the other part was because I helped fix a friends knitting then helped another friend wind some yarn skeins into balls. Useful tip – sequins look very pretty in the yarn but they catch in the yarn as you’re trying to unskein it so proceed carefully.

I have an important meeting tomorrow that has me a bit more tense than usual so as well as my knitting meditation I did day 1 of ‘Get some headspace’s’ 10-minute meditation. The app has been on my tablet for more than a year and I kept meaning to try it so today I did. I really enjoyed it. It’s really nice to take 10 minutes to just be. I recommend it. Their website has lots of information.

Today’s music has been Handel’s ‘Water Music’ which I’ve not listened to in its entirety before. I love Handel’s music. I was going to keep listening to the CD (lots of knitting for today’s square) but the rest of the CD is the ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’. It’s a little more energetic and I find myself listening to the music instead of knitting. Not a bad thing, but not the point of the exercise.

I’m using Regia yarn today. This yarn is self-patterning and is from the Brasil Color range. This specific colour pattern is called ‘Salvatore’.

I made a big  square today. It’s the size of all four that we’ve just made so it took quite some time longer. Knitting is straight forward though.

Starting at the tip of square 4, pick up 31sts evenly along edge of squares 2  and 4 (15 on square 4, 1 at the tip of square 2, 15 along the edge of square 2), side cast on 32sts – 63sts on your needle.

You’re going to follow exactly the same pattern as you’ve been working for the smaller squares but you will start with larger number and knit for longer –

Row 1: k30, sl2 together, k1, psso, k30, turn – 61sts
Row 2: k across
Row 3: k29, sl2 together, k1, psso, k29, turn – 59sts
Row 4: k across
Row 5: k28, sl2 together, k1, psso, k28, turn – 57sts
Row 6: k across
Row 7: k27, sl2 together, k1, psso, k27, turn – 55sts
Row 8: k across
Row 9: k26, sl2 together, k1, psso, k26, turn – 53sts
Row 10: k across
Row 11: k25, sl2 together, k1, psso, k25, turn – 51sts
Row 12: k across
Row 13: k24, sl2 together, k1, psso, k24, turn – 49sts
Row 14: k across
Row 15: k23, sl2 together, k1, psso, k23, turn – 47sts
Row 16: k across
Row 17: k22, sl2 together, k1, psso, k22, turn – 45sts
Row 18: k across
Row 19: k21, sl2 together, k1, psso, k21, turn – 43sts
Row 20: k across
Row 21: k20, sl2 together, k1, psso, k20, turn – 41sts
Row 22: k across
Row 23: k19, sl2 together, k1, psso, k19, turn – 39sts
Row 24: k across
Row 25: k18, sl2 together, k1, psso, k18, turn – 37sts
Row 26: k across
Row 27: k17, sl2 together, k1, psso, k17, turn – 35sts
Row 28: k across
Row 29: k16, sl2 together, k1, psso, k16, turn – 33sts
Row 30: k across
Row 31: k15, sl2 together, k1, psso, k15, turn – 31sts
Row 32: k across
Row 33: k14, sl2 together, k1, psso, k14, turn – 29sts
Row 34: k across
Row 35: k13, sl2 together, k1, psso, k13, turn – 27sts
Row 36: k across
Row 37: k12, sl2 together, k1, psso, k12, turn – 25sts
Row 38: k across
Row 39: k11, sl2 together, k1, psso, k11, turn – 23sts
Row 40: k across
Row 41: k10, sl2 together, k1, psso, k10, turn – 21sts
Row 42: k across
Row 43: k9, sl2 together, k1, psso, k9, turn – 19sts
Row 44: k across
Row 45: k8, sl2 together, k1, psso, k8, turn – 17sts
Row 46: k across
Row 47: k7, sl2 together, k1, psso, k7, turn – 15sts
Row 48: k across
Row 49: k6, sl2 together, k1, psso, k6, turn  – 13sts
Row 50: k across
Row 51: k5, sl2 together, k1, psso, k5, turn – 11sts
Row 52: k across
Row 53: k4, sl2 together, k1, psso, k4, turn – 9sts
Row 54: k across
Row 55: k3, sl2 together, k1, psso, k3, turn – 7sts
Row 56: k across
Row 57: k2, sl2 together, k1, psso, k2, turn – 5sts
Row 58: k across
Row 59: k1, sl2 together, k1, psso, k1, turn – 3sts
Row 60: k across
Row 61: sl2 together, k1, psso – 1sts. Break yarn and pull tail through.

(I’ve gone back to day 1 and added in stitch counts for each row, and corrected the number of stitches to knit after the decrease. That’s what happens when you cut and paste, then don’t properly proof-read).

Phew!

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But Charlotte, what *is* sock yarn? 

Firstly, you need to know about ‘yarn weight’ vs. ‘gram weight’. Yarn is available in maaaaaaany different thicknesses. These thicknesses have been divided into general categories based, I believe, on how many strands of thread to be twisted or plied together for thickness way back when. This doesn’t hold true so much any more and yarn thickness is measured more by how many strands of a finished yarn it takes to fill the width of an inch on a ruler. This is called wraps per inch (WPI) but is rarely referred to outside the craft of yarn spinning (but is a much more accurate way of determining if one yarn can be substituted for another).

 

Gram weight is how much a ball of yarn weighs when placed on a set of scales. Much simpler to work out.

The most common yarn weights used these days are 4-ply and DK (double knit or 8-ply, therefore double the thickness of 4-ply) but yarn can be as thin as thread or as thick as your finger. Some people even knit with rope, and some with fine wire.

Sock yarn is a subtype of 4-ply (if you’re in the UK/Australia, or fingering if you’re in America), and refers more specifically to the fibre content than the thickness of the yarn. Sock yarn is 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. Superwash means that the wool is machine washable. If non-Superwash wool is washed in a machine, it shrinks and the fibres matt together. This is called felting. You don’t want this in a pair of socks. Nor do you want holes forming within a few wears. This is what the nylon is for. Wool is hardy but nylon adds longwearing to it.

Sock yarn is available in a variety of colourways. It comes in plain or solid colours. It can come in semi-solid colours – a bit like variegation but more subtle usually. It is also available in self-striping or self-patterning colourways.

These last two work best as socks as the patterning is designed to be knitted in the round and in stocking stitch. When knit flat or in garter stitch you lose some of the patterning or get colour ‘pooling’ – where one colour seems to gather in a particular spot rather than spread out as it is designed to. In garter stitch, because of the way the stitches interlock, you lose half of the pattern in the troughs between the peaks of right side rows. This means that you need to work 2 rows of a colour to get the same sort of striping you would if you worked in stocking stitch.

You can see how the number of stitches and rows affects how the colour gathers in todays square. Some of the rows have half a row of one colour while the other half of that row is part one colour and part another. The yarn I chose still made a good pattern in the square but some yarns have very short sections of colour which gives you only a few stitches of each colour. That can look like *clown barf when knitted in garter stitch. Be careful to match your yarn to your project and test your self-striping yarn in any stitch pattern you plan to knit. You don’t want to spend days knitting beautiful lace only to have it get lost in the bright colours of a self-striping yarn.

 

*No, I am not actually going to explain this term. You ought to be able to guess 😉