Monday, September 30, 2013


The last few weeks have been rather stressful for me.  I'm still adjusting to being single and a single parent, and my big test is now only four days and a wake-up away.  I have completely fallen down on the Rhinebeck Readiness Campaign, and haven't even produced any knitting to speak of.  And, as is my character, the fact that I have not met some goals while struggling to meet others has given me fits of frustration beyond all measure.

But Sunday was a very welcome break from all of that.  A friend and I packed a little picnic lunch and headed up to Litchfield, CT to the White Memorial Conservation Center to do a little hiking.  Well, more like a leisurely stroll through the beautiful outside.  I had never visited this area before, but I am sure to go back.  It is gorgeous.

After we ate, we walked past a little pond that was just perfect for little kids to skip rocks across

and enjoyed the very beginning of the fall foliage season.

We passed a stretch of lazy river where some local students were planting trees.

Even though you can't see them working here, they were.

We followed the path through the deep pine forest, where the pine needles were so soft and deep underfoot that our steps were silenced.

Some parts of the trail are frequently wet and muddy, so the caretakers kindly put in boardwalks so hikers can enjoy the area even if the ground is soggy.

Eventually, we arrived at the boardwalk that surrounds Little Pond.  The area around the pond is quite marshy, so having the solid footing is nice.  The views are gorgeous at every turn; I can only imagine how much more spectacular they will be during peak foliage season in a few weeks.

On our way back to the car, we walked through the greenest of glades. I don't know what the plants are that cover the ground, but the way the leaves caught the light and how the trees above created shadows on them produced more shades of green than I have ever seen in one place.  It was magical, and my pictures

do not do it justice.

It was the perfect breath of fresh air for both of us, short though it was.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Practice *1-8*. Repeat pattern between *'s until finished. Cast off.

In about three weeks' time, I will be testing for my Third Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo*.  For the last few months now, I have been focusing on what I need to know to pass that test and practicing those things.  Endlessly.  Repeatedly. Over and over again.  And then I do it some more.

I have decided that this is very much like casting on several hundred stitches of fingering weight yarn so you can knit a queen size blanket in garter stitch.  There is nothing new to learn, just the repetition of the same series of motions to make one stitch and then another, and another and so on.  There is no relief to be had at the end of a long knit row when you turn the work and begin the refreshing difference of the purl row ahead.  There will only ever be more of the same until it is time to cast off, but until then there is only the endless, relentless monotony of the knit stitch.

Since my Second Degree test, I have learned two new forms (Keumgang Poomsae and another that is unique to our school), eight self-defense techniques, eight grab techniques, the school's form for the bamboo staff (we call it "stick form"), learned advanced kicking and board breaking techniques and, at least in theory, improved my sparring.  I say "in theory" because 1) I really do not like sparring at all and 2) I'm terrified of getting seriously injured.  Not because I'm going to get hit, but because I'm afraid of landing badly or off balance and ending up in the emergency room.  Again.

I say that training for the test is like the blanket because of the sameness of it.  Six days every week I go to class, do the warm-up, and then SaBumNim sends me into a corner of the dojang with one of the assistant instructors where I'm told to practice 1-8 of self-defense and grab techniques until the end of class. And before class is dismissed, I know I will be tested on them with the rest of the class watching.  I have already been tested on them, and earned the tip proving that I performed them well enough to pass the test.  I have been tested on them at least twice each week for the last four weeks and this will continue up until October 4. The big test, the real one that I have been preparing for, is on October 5.

So until then, I will be doing the daily exercise in patience and humility that is the martial artist's garter stitch blanket.  I will go to class, I will do 1-8.  And then I will do it again and again and again.  Then I'll do it some more, but with people watching.  This sequence will be repeated today in class, and the next day and the next and the next after that until I wake up on October 6 and realize that the previous day I finished my blanket.  I have cast off; the project that once seemed endless is finished at last, and that now will be the time to start something new.

*It sounds far more impressive than it really is.  By all rights, my black belt should have a little blue handicapped wheelchair sticker on it, like they put on the parking spaces and license plates.  I have accrued so many injuries during my martial arts career that most of the curriculum has been heavily modified to accommodate my physical limitations.  My instructor has invented new sparring techniques for me to minimize stress on my knees, and I don't do any jumping kicks.  I have said for years that anyone who can run away has absolutely nothing to fear from me, because there's no way I could catch them. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Only One

Do you know how much one can be?  I am rapidly learning that one ounce of fiber to spin each is day is rather a lot.  Especially if my children expect to wear clean clothes and eat home-cooked meals.

I just finished spinning the singles from the mini-batts from Ever Improving Me, so only plying is left.  This leaves me exactly one ounce behind in meeting my goal.  I have come to the realization that I may have to reassess the feasibility of said goal.  Anyway, here are my two bobbins of wintery icy singles:

The photo doesn't really show how the silk glistens against the main color, but trust me, it does.  And it's lovely.

I think I'm going to now aim for about 5 ounces each week, including plying.  That was the big omission in version 1 of the RRC: no allowance for plying time.  Or a day off.  So we'll see how the RRC.2 goes for the next week.

But for now, I gotta go.  I need to make dinner and the laundry still doesn't wash itself.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Campaign Presses On

So have been spinning quite a bit these last few days.  I hope my motivation doesn't diminish over the next two months!

I finished the singles out of the Loop roving and chain-plied them to more-or-less preserve the color changes.  After a soak in the sink and a solid "thwack" on the counter, the yarn is now happily drying on the back porch.  I know I'm almost a competent spinner, but every once in a while, I wind up with something that I'm fairly pleased with.  This is one of those times.  Isn't it pretty?  (Just nod & say, "Yes! It's fabulous!" even if you don't agree.  It's OK, I don't mind the little white lie!)

Next up is a pair of mini-batts from Ever Improving Me on Etsy.  I have no idea how long I have had these, but they are the loveliest icy blue/green with streaks of pure white silk running through.  I think they are a mohair and silk blend, but the label doesn't specify.  The two batts total 2.75 ounces, so this should take care of the amount I was short on yesterday, as well as the next two days' worth in order to meet my RRC (Rhinebeck Readiness Campaign) goal.  I can't decide on the final product, though.  A nice 2-ply lace weight and for a lace scarf?  Or one ply nice and thin wrapped around a fluffy ply of the softest, whitest angora?  Hmm.  I may have do to try some test skeins to see which I like better.

I just love how the white silk glistens against the color.  These batts are definitely making me think wintery thoughts.

And, finally, photographic proof that I do, in fact, knit, and sometimes I even finish something.  This is the Liliaceae Shawlette designed by Angelika Luidl.  I made it in Road to China Light by the Fibre Company.  It's a beautiful magenta with a blue overdye, but I have lost the tags so I don't know exactly which color it is.  The fabric is soft, luxurious and drapes beautifully.  The pattern was fun without keeping me tied to the chart too much, and I'm thinking about making another one for myself since this one is a gift.  I hope she will like it!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Rhinebeck Readiness Campaign and an Update

First, the update, in which I do not come off looking like a particularly smart person.  This is where the project that "disappeared" went: