A perfect Saturday afternoon

So, I don’t talk about this a lot, but it’s really hard to get out of the house. I have depression which makes it hard to get up and move and I have anxiety which means that when I do get out of the house, I can spend a lot of time feeling out of place and stupid, instead of just being in the moment where I am. Now, I’m an adult who is gainfully employed, so I do manage to get out of the house for things like my job and the essential errands I have to run to be a functional adult. But that often means that I have no energy to go out and do anything else.

One of the many reasons that meeting Ron was one of the best things that happened to me is that he makes it easier for me to go out and have fun. He will come with me to run errands, which makes it easier to do them and makes them less draining. And in more social and fun situations, he acts a buffer between me and that voice in my head that tells me I’m too weird and everyone is staring at my stupid outfit and that thing I said was really dumb and I should just go home where it’s nice and isolated. But, about six months ago, I got an amazing job opportunity in the Bay Area. Because Ron is supportive and wonderful, he encouraged me to take the job, and suddenly I am 400 miles away from my main support. (Ron and I are fine; we didn’t break up; we are doing a weird long distance thing for the moment, which admittedly sucks, but we have plans and shouldn’t be quite so long-distance in the not-too-distant future.)

I think ultimately, this has been a good thing, despite how much I miss him. It has forced me to be more independent and I have to say that my new job was right for my career. But I have been a bit of hermit these past few months. I don’t know many people up here; those I do know are busy people (as am I), and my anxiety makes it hard for me to do too much. I’ve been to a few knit nights, forced myself to go play guitar alone at a few open mics (more on that some other time), and gone to a few movies, but have done very little to explore my new neighborhood.

This Saturday the weather was beautiful and with Ron’s encouragement, I went to my city’s incredibly adorable downtown, where I took a walk and explored some of the shops. There is a great used bookstore, where I found an The Art of Fine Baking, an old baking book from the 1960’s, and The Good Housekeeping New Complete Book of Needlecraft from 1971. I love old cooking and craft books, especially ones with handdrawn illustrations, like in the picture below.


I may never make a swiss broyage (or will I?), but tell me that isn’t an absolutely charming illustration?

I then settled at a little outdoor table in a small local coffee shop with my new book (Knitlandia by Clara Parkes), some tea, and my knitting (plus a cookie, because cookies are delicious). I had a wonderful time out and about and nothing terrible happened, in spite of my anxiety assuring me that it would.

Knitlandia is all about Clara Parkes’ ravels as a knitter to places like Iceland and the people she’s met, sometimes because she was unafraid to go talk to them. It’s a wonderful read, but on further reflections I am struck by irony…I’m afraid to go a few miles on my own, let alone to Iceland, even though I paradoxically dream of seeing far flung places and meeting interesting people. And while I wish that I could change how I feel immediately and be completely unafraid to jet off somewhere alone, that’s not how anxiety works. But I think that I’m going to make more of an effort to at least explore my own backyard. Maybe inch by inch I can make it to Iceland some day.


This is a catch-all post, wherein I will (finally!) tie up all the Liebster Award loose ends and share some good news.

So it took a couple of weeks, but I finally have my Liebster nominees! They are just a sampling of the small blogs I read, but all three of them are bloggers I appreciate and enjoy immensely. Go check them out!

In no particular order, I nominate

1. Jasmin of Better Than Yarn
2. Meg of Knit+Frills+Food=Love
3. Caitlin of All She Wants to Do Is Knit

Each blogger must post 11 random facts about themselves, nominate three to five other non-mainstream blogs that they appreciate, and they must respond to the following eleven questions (I use must here loosely. They must if they want to play and keep the recognition chain going):

1. What is your absolute favorite thing you’ve ever created?
2. Chocolate or vanilla?
3. Describe your ideal day.
4. What inspires you most?
5. How do you de-stress?
6. If you could give advice to yourself ten years ago, what would you say?
7. Which weight of yarn is your favorite?
8. What do you wish you could do that you currently can’t do?
9. What are your top five favorite movies?
10. What is your favorite kind of cake?
11. If you had to commit to one knitwear designer and could only knit his or her patterns for the rest of your life (no patterns designed by anyone else, EVER), which one would you pick?

And now, to finish up my Liebster experience, here are eleven random facts about me:

1. I love the ocean. If given my choice, I will never live more than an hour away from the ocean.
2. I always thought I hated running until I learned how to breathe properly. I learned to use my singer training to breathe when I run, and I’m a little ashamed that it took me nearly thirty years of life to figure it out.
3. Speaking of thirty, I am alternately kind of freaking out about and completely apathetic about my upcoming thirtieth birthday.
4. I really, really, really miss being in school. I particularly miss literature classes; I love reading books and discussing them.
5. I don’t wear jewelry or makeup, except my teeny nose stud. (I do wear makeup on stage).
6. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
7. I want to dye my hair pink or black and cherry red. Alas, my job precludes me having cool hair.
8. When I was eleven, I first read the book Contact and it had an inordinate influence on me. I still dream about going back to school to study astronomy. I have a biochemistry degree, so it’s not like it’s a huge career change. I had a subscription to Odyssey Magazine and an itty bitty telescope, that’s how much I loved space back then.
9. Sometimes I really miss the 90’s. I relive them by wearing skirts with Doc Martens.
10. I make awesome polenta. (Also, apparently Firefox spell check does not recognize “polenta” as a word).
11. I love good world building in a video game or science fiction/fantasy series. I will forgive a lot of issues with gameplay, plotting, or characterization if things are taking place in a world that I find fascinating. (I’m a geek and I won’t apologize.)

And finally, a quick tidbit of good news. My Celestarium was chosen to be featured in the Twist Collective March 2013 Newsletter. (Mine is number one in the collage of pictures). It makes me feel really good to be appreciated.

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.

Saturday was a busy day for me. I went to my guild meeting in the morning, and then some of the women from my Wednesday night knitting group and I went to lunch at Versailles, which has excellent Cuban food. Then, since we were in the area, we made a quick trip over to Twist: Yarns of Intrigue.

Twist is probably my favorite yarn store, but it’s a bit far to be my local yarn store. Cathy, the owner, is really sweet and personable. She has a great selection of yarns that I love, including lots of lace and fingering weights, which are my favorite kinds of yarn to work with. (I prefer finer gauge projects). She also dyes her own yarns, which are just beautiful.

But I am in stash down mode as of the beginning of the year, so I contented myself with walking around, fondling the yarn, inhaling the yarn fumes, and flipping through some very tempting books. I was strong, I was stalwart, and I actually managed to leave the shop without purchasing anything.

I called Ron after I left to let him know that I was on my way home and also to tell him how virtuous I was for not buying anything from my favorite shop. I was especially proud because I had fallen in love with one yarn in particular. It was one of Cathy’s hand-dyed yarns–an alpaca/merino laceweight blend with a tiny bit of stellina, which gave it a little bit of sparkle. It was in a lovely purple.

As I was waxing poetic about this yarn, which was really starting to feel like perfect yarn, Ron started asking me stuff like, “So you really love this yarn?” He started telling me that it was admirable that I wanted to knit down my stash, but he still wanted me to have the things I love. I shouldn’t deny myself something that I really, really love. I said that if I was still thinking about the yarn after a few days, I would maybe go back and get it.

He was quiet for a minute. “But this yarn store is kind of far away.”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“So when would you have time? What if it’s gone by the time you get back?”

“Are you telling me to go back and get this yarn?”

“Kind of.”

I laughed and told him that he was a worse enabler than anyone in my knitting group. But I did turn around and get the yarn. 1000 yards of subtle purple sparkly alpaca/merino laceweight yarn. It’s so beautiful, I took it out of the bag and petted it on the way home.

Twist Frost Yarn

This is the perfect yarn

I feel very lucky. A lot of people who don’t knit don’t understand a knitter’s love of yarn. They don’t understand how sometimes a yarn just leaps out at you and makes your heart sing because it’s the perfect color and it feels so perfect and it’s just the perfect yarn. A lot of the knitters I know have partners or spouses who roll their eyes when they talk about yarn and treat their yarn love like it’s a little silly. It’s not that their partners are jerks, they just aren’t knitters.

Ron isn’t a knitter, but he understands and respects my yarn love. He doesn’t think it’s silly for me to go on and on about pretty yarn and he can tell in my voice if I’m talking about a yarn that falls in the category of perfect, as opposed to a yarn I just like.

I knew there was a reason I loved that man.

I started this blog in the beginning of 2012 because I wanted to spend more time doing the things I love. I wanted to spend more time focusing on the things that made me happy.

I think I was largely successful in the endeavor. It’s not that 2012 didn’t have it’s challenges, because it really did. The last half of the year was particularly sad and challenging. I lost some people, and that was really hard. I have some ongoing health problems and I had some ups and downs with those.

But 2012 also brought a lot of joy. My beautiful nephew was born. My closest and dearest friendships continue to grow in wonderful ways. I grew so much as an artist and a knitter and an actress. I kept reminding myself that 2012 was going to be about doing what I love, thinking about what I love, and spending time on what I love. It helped, a lot, when life got hard. And I think it worked so well becuase I didn’t really make “resolutions” about changing my behavior. I decided to change my outlook and my attitude, and that worked for me.

I started looking at things I wanted to do or wanted to have and instead of saying “I wish I could,” I did it. Which is how I ended up taking acting classes, doing the shows I did, going to Craftcation, discovering knitting podcasts, learning all kinds of new knitting techniques, and…ummm….acquiring a lot of stash. I’m not super proud of that last one, but I’m not super ashamed of it either. I had never really let myself buy amazing yarn before, and it really does make me feel more inspired to have beautiful yarn to knit with. And I didn’t do anything like go into debt over yarn.

But I’m a little overwhelmed lately. I have a lot of commitments. I spent a lot of time dashing off from one thing to another, with very little space to breathe. I found myself getting impatient when I had to wait, because I felt like “I have things to do, let’s go!” Even if it was waiting for Ron to take pictures of the fall leaves. I think that’s all okay, but the manic pace wore me out.

In 2013, I want to focus on less being more. In 2012, I gave myself permission to do things that I loved. It was great, but it was unfocused. I did a lot of everything. I got a lot of everything. In 2013, I want to give myself permission to be a little more focused. I’m only going to do something or buy something if it’s absolutely impossible to live without. I’m going to focus on using what I do have. I’m going to knit out of my stash, spend more time at home with Ron, work on practicing the things I’ve learned over the year. I spent 2012 sort of filling up the well if you were–getting a lot of the tools and inspiration and skills I need for the future. 2013 is less about that and more about using what I have to the fullest.

That’s not to say I won’t take a class or buy a skein of yarn that makes my heart sing. But I’m being more focused on my long-term goals right now. By doing less, I can do more with what I have. And I can focus on what’s around me, all the people and the beauty that I am so lucky to have in my life. I can let that inspire me in a different way than the manic pace of 2012 did. 2013 is slowing down, and I’m pretty happy about that.

I was going to write today about how I was so tired and burned out yesterday from the long hours I’ve been working. I was going to write about the progress I’ve been making on my projects.

I was going to write about how I finally saw the sun today.

None of that feels right today. Instead I will say this:

My heart goes out to all of the families and friends who lost someone today. My heart goes out to all the children who were traumatized.

I try not to be political on this blog, but sometimes events are too large to ignore. So I have to say this. We need some kind of gun control in this country. There is no reason to allow someone to so easily murder so many. There is no excuse for it and anyone who argues that it is necessary for people to own assault rifles and semi-automatic guns, even at the expense of the lives of innocent people should be ashamed.

I don’t feel like debating this either, because this isn’t theoretical. There are at least 26 people dead because of the easily accessible guns in this country. Yes, a man decided to use the gun, but what if it had been much harder to get one?

My closing thought on the matter is this: When I first saw the news story about the shooting, my initial gut reaction was “Oh God, another one? Not again.” That is so, so, so very wrong. The fact that we’ve gotten to the point where mass shootings feel common scares me.

Love at First Sight!Last night I went to my knitting group for the first time in years. I’ve been doing tons of shows, so a Wednesday night where I don’t have rehearsal or something is rare. But last night I was free, so I headed out to the Stitch and Bitch. It’s really fun to sit around and talk about knitting and yarn with people. Because non-knitters really do not understand the obsession. It’s nice to know that some people don’t find it crazy to look at pictures of yarn online and to want to squish yarn and to have a knitting to-do list and to spend sometimes 30 dollars on a ball of yarn. (Admittedly, that is a splurge for me, but for some of the really lovely cashmeres and silks and mohairs, it is so completely worth it).

Speaking of expensive yarn, that is the dangerous part of this knitting group. The restaurant where we meet is right next door to an absolutely wonderful yarn shop. As I said before, I don’t usually buy really expensive yarns–I find a lot of perfectly good yarn for relatively little money online. But I can spend hours in a yarn shop, just browsing. And looking is dangerous. I, of course, walked out having spent more than I should have on some lovely Kidsilk Haze, a mohair-silk blend, and some Pediboo sock yarn, which is super soft and will make some great socks. There’s something so wonderfully satisfying about wandering around a knitting store and hunting for the perfect yarn. I can’t wait to make a pretty airy scarf out of the Kidsilk Haze.

My wristlets are progressing nicely as well. The knitting time last night really helped. (It’s easy to be super-productive when everyone is knitting around you.) I should finish one tonight and cast on for the second one.

Other than that, it’s been rehearsing for 42nd Street and prepping for two more auditions. I’m still trying to get over this icky cold, so I’m not super interesting lately. It’s nesting and knitting and not much else.

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