Music


Madroña Shawl

What I can do when I feel like myself.

So I’ve been feeling kind of blah the past few weeks. Some of it was because I was sad because of Danny. Some of it was post-Craftcation/post-Stitches let-down. Some of it was just a general bad feeling. I don’t know why, but I was just feeling blah.

I wasn’t running. I was eating lots more ice cream and junk food than normal (I try to be pretty sparing with it). I wasn’t knitting.

When I’m not knitting, I know that it’s gotten really bad.

I’m usually knitting constantly. When I watch TV, on my breaks at work, waiting for my food in a restaurant, at the movies. And I just didn’t feel like it.

This wasn’t a question of none of my projects exciting me. I just didn’t feel like knitting anything.

I thought that going to knit night last week would help, because usually being with my Stitch and Beach group is really inspiring. I see what other people are doing, I touch pretty yarn, and I fall back in love with knitting. But it didn’t help. I picked up my project. I set down my project. I picked it up again, I knit a few stitches, I set it down. I got home and it sat in my bag, unloved, while Ron and I watched Star Trek.

When I get into moods like these, there is only one thing I can do to pull myself out of them. I have to commit to a bunch more stuff. It seems counter-intuitive. I’m already feeling blah and overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done. But somehow, by saying yes to a ton of commitments, I manage to jumpstart my dead emotional battery and then I’m energized again.

So, I signed up for a 5k and started a bootcamp class to get myself really motivated to run. I signed up for an acting class. I committed to a couple of singing gigs. And then I waited for it all to start working.

It took some time. I started to get scared and overwhelmed, but also a little excited at all the new projects I had in my life. And then last night, it finally happened. I went to knit night, and I knit, and I loved it. I was a focused knitting machine.

I got a lot of knitting done on my Madroña Shawl, and I enjoyed it. It was a good feeling. And then I came home and went for a run. And knit some more.

I’ve always found it funny that my method of overloading myself with commitments so I have no choice but to rise to the occasion is what always make me feel better. Now I just have to get through the next couple of weeks without collapsing! But it’s better (for me) to be too busy, rather than not have enough to do.

What about you? What do you do to chase away the blahs and feel like yourself again?

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It’s a happy day today. Ruth of the blog Kangath Knits has nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. I’m really honored and happy that such a fantastic blogger and designer (seriously, check out her designs, they are stunning) considers my blog deserving of recognition. The Liebster Award is not an award proper. There is no voting or applications. Liebster is German for “well-loved” and the purpose of it is to bring to light small blogs that aren’t well-known. I will pay it forward and recognize other bloggers I consider great and amazing. I’ll post my nominations some time next week.

The other part of the award involves responding to 11 questions that Ruth has posed to me and posting 11 random facts about myself. I’ll do the Q&A today, and the 11 facts will come in a later post. It’s actually really hard for me to think of 11 facts about myself that are actually somewhat interesting.

1. What kind of music do you like?

I like all kinds of music. Seriously. I can’t think of a single music genre which does not have some artists or subgenres that I enjoy. Yes that includes both the giant umbrellas of country and hip hop. Some of my favorite artists are Neko Case, Tegan and Sara, Lady Sovereign Elvis Costello, Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris, Nick Drake, The Beatles (yeah, that ones a cop out but I love them), The Sex Pistols, and Le Tigre. No, that is not a comprehensive list. I also listen to a lot of classical and musicals (I love Sondheim).

2. Do you prefer the weather to be so cold your nose hairs freeze or so hot you sweat just thinking about moving?

I definitely prefer cold weather. I can always put on a sweater (or seven). There isn’t much I can do when it’s too hot. Being a knitter, I am prepared for cold weather.

3. If you were forced to choose only one knitting technique to use for the rest of your life, would it be cabling, colorwork, or lace?

This is a really hard question, because I love all of these techniques. They all have so many applications and such diversity. But if I had to choose, I would choose lace. I just don’t think I could give up my crazy complicated lace shawls.

4. What was the last book you read?

I re-read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because seeing the movie made me kind of nostalgic for the book.

5. How do you tie shoelaces?

I use the two loop method and double knot them. They still always come untied.

6. Name one thing you have done that will you never do again.

Start a land war in Asia? No, seriously, I am reluctant to say I’ll never do something, because you never know where you’ll end up in the future and how you may change. But if I can avoid it, I don’t think I’ll be teaching children ever again.

7. Describe your relationship with your camera.

I always forget to use it when something interesting is happening, which I regret later.

8. Apples or bananas?

Bananas. Unless I’m looking for something to pair with cheese.

9. What scares you?

The future. I’m always worried about time running out before I have time to achieve my dreams. Losing someone I love.

10. Name three knit designers whose work you admire.

It’s hard to pick just three. But I love Cookie A, Hannah Fettig, and Alana Dakos. As a bonus, I really love Syvia Harding and Romi Hill.

11. What do you like to do after a hard day?

Knit. Watch really good or really bad television and movies or go see a band a low-key bar with my sweetie and knit.

I’m sorry I didn’t write for a whole week. Work just absolutely fried my brain last week. Every time I sat down to write, I just couldn’t get myself to form anything that was coherent or worth reading. Plus, I felt like my knitting updates were really boring. I was just working on the same shawl and the same sock.

Luckily, when my brain is fried, even though I may not be able to write, I can knit!

I finished the Roosimine socks, save weaving in the ends. Even more exciting, I finished all of the knitting on the Frost Flowers stole. All I have to do is graft it together in the middle (and, you know, weave in ends and block). I’m waiting until I have a little more brainpower, because it’s a lot of Kitchener stitch. A lot. I’m still not quite in a place where Kitchenering or weaving in ends feels good, even though this week looks to be a little easier work-wise. You’ll get pictures of those later. Honestly, they don’t look terribly different than all of the other unfinished pictures I showed you before.

Never fear! There is new knitting to write about! With pictures!

Baby Vertebrae Cardigan

Baby Vertebrae Cardigan

I spent Saturday at the NAMM show, and I knew I would need some easy knitting to take with me, so Friday night I cast on the Vertebrae Cardigan in Classic Elite Liberty Wool in the Majestic Mountains Colorway. I’m done with the body (I got in a lot of knitting time Saturday in between coveting instruments that are way out of my price range). I’m knitting it for my adorable nephew. I’m a big fan of the way this yarn knits up. I tend to be wary of variegated yarns, because sometimes I just don’t like how the colors go when they’re knit up, but this is turning out well. It really looks to me like an abstract depiction of mountains and the sky, like the way they look in Arizona or New Mexico. It’s really pretty and inspiring.

The NAMM show was crazy. It was really crowded. I got a little camnesia and consequently took no pictures. I hear from a lot of people that the show is kind of terrible. I can see that. There are a lot of people there with big egos, who want to be famous musicians and feel really entitled. If you were working the show and actually had to deal with those people, I can see how you would hate it. Since I was just there to see stuff, I could ignore those people, so I kind of had fun. I got to play a lot of beautiful instruments, including some Gibson guitars that I will never be able to afford in a million years. I also discovered 8-string ukuleles. I really want one. Basically, if you let me walk around and play ukuleles and guitars, hear good musicians, and ignore jerky people, I’ll have a pretty good time.

Celestarium Shawl

A tiny section of the Celestarium Shawl

Since I was tired from the NAMM show (we did a lot of walking), I decided that I would do nothing on Sunday, except laundry and a few chores. So after a nice breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants and a quick trip to the farmers market, I cuddled up in my jammies, watched a bunch of episodes of Supernatural, and just knit. I started working on my Celestarium again. I’m about a third of the way through the second to last section of charting. It’s a pi shawl though, so each round is 288 stitches right now, but in the last section, each round will be 576 stitches, so I’m not really even close to done. I’m loving working with this yarn though, I’m loving the beading, and I’m totally geeking out over knitting a star chart, so I don’t mind having more to knit on.

What are you working on? What’s inspiring you?


This is my current favorite song. Amanda Palmer is one of many artists who embodies an aspirational quality for me as an artist. She has this “I don’t care if you like it, here I am” quality about her. She just does thing that are so raw and real and honest and doesn’t seem to worry about what people think of her.

I’m sure she does have her insecurities and doubts–we all do–and I’m not trying to idolize or idealize. But she’s always seemed so fearless. For instance, this story makes her one of my fucking heroes. So what if she can’t play a concerto–she still wins at life and she makes the whole thing work for her by virtue of owning herself.

I am a timid perfectionist. Which is a shitty way to be if you want to be an artist. Learning to play instruments has been particularly difficult for me. I read music and I understand a fair bit of theory. But my clumsy fingers just won’t do what I want them to do. And I don’t want to practice. Not because I don’t like playing, but because I’m embarrassed that people can hear me play so badly. I’m kind of afraid to take lessons, because it means playing for someone on a regular basis, and that is fucking terrifying.

Which is why I like the “Ukulele Anthem” so much. It’s good for me to hear “Stop pretending art is hard” and “Play your ukulele badly” and “Even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing.” It’s a reminder that there is so much more to life than seeking perfection and trying not to look stupid and worrying about what people think. It embodies what my former partner-in-crime used to tell me. “You can’t get better and look good at the same time.” I probably need to write these things on blackboard over and over, like Bart Simpson.

Part of what I want with this project is to find the joy in what I love again. I’ve had a hard time with my art lately, because so much has not been enjoyable. And a lot of that is due to the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. I want to be more open and specific and fearless and to just do what I love, without worrying so much about how I am perceived. And now, I’m going to quit bitching and go play my ukulele.

So I’ve noticed in the past year just how much space I give up to people and things I don’t like. Or don’t love. I have limited time and limited money, and yet I spend piles of that time and money on things I don’t like all that much. And I let people I don’t like occupy far too much mental real estate.

2012 is going to be the year this changes. No, I’m not doing anything like quitting my job to pursue a life of playing my ukulele and knitting and growing flowers. I mean, no, I don’t LOVE my job. But I need the security, the stability, the health insurance. And I figure that since my job, which is all right but I don’t love it, gets 40 to 50 hours of my time a week, the rest of my time should be spent doing things that are amazing. Things that I love.

So what DO I love?

1. My friends and family. The few people who truly love and support me for what I am. And I need to differentiate those people from everyone else, and stop caring about everyone else’s opinions of me.

2. Knitting. I love creating beautiful things out of yarn. I don’t like stressing about time commitments and quality, so I am going to focus on giving myself enough time to finish projects and on being patient with myself when I need to fix mistakes.

3. Music. I love singing. And playing my ukulele. And my guitar. And the piano. And playing with my bandmate. I am going to devote time to learning all of these instruments better and to working out more and more songs.

4. Theatre. I love being onstage with people and creating stories. I do not love the competitive, nasty, back-biting nonsense that happens so much in theatre. I do not love working with people who don’t love theatre as much as they love the idea that they are going to be stars. I’m going to only do shows I love, with people who love creating something as a team.

5. Writing. I do love writing and I need to do it more without worrying so much about quality. Being an avid reader means that I have very high standards about what is good. But I love the act of writing, so I need to do it more. Quality will come later.

6. The Earth. I love this world I live in and I need to do more to make sure it is good and cared for. That means working more toward a healthy planet. I have some terrible habits that are bad for the environment that I need to change.

7. Myself. I don’t mean that I love myself in a narcissistic way. But I spent years hating who I am, and to be honest, sometimes I still do. This manifests itself in some behaviors that are self-destructive, or at the very least indifferent to my health. That needs to stop. I will take care of myself and love myself and protect myself and give myself a good place to live and be.

8. Humanity. I don’t believe in any kind of god. I firmly believe that all we have in this short life we are given is each other. I need to do more to make the world better for the people in it. Really, this is an oblique way of talking about activism and political involvement.

So, that’s it. My project is to devote myself to what I love. And how have I done so far?

I rang in 2012 with wonderful friends–musicians who are just good people. I spent yesterday at a party with many of the same good people. Today I cleaned my room up, read some, learned a new song for my ukulele, and went to another party, with more good people. So far, so good.