I've been in training for International Pajama Day II for the past two days. Come along with me and see how I get ready.
International Pajama Day II
Sunday, February 6, 2005
For the unitiated, Secret Pals 4 is a gift exchange event for knitters and crocheters from all over the world. This event will last February 1 - May 31 2005. Ron thinks I'm daft to participate. Too bad, I'm doing it anyway.
For my Secret Pal, answers to the questionnaire:
1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do
you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?
I'm a bit of a snob, although I have been known to knit with Lion Brand Homespun. I prefer natural fibers. Red Heart makes me cringe.
2. Do you spin? Crochet?
No spinning. I crocheted, macramed and sewed in a former life.
3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
I am allergic to wheat and cow's milk. I also avoid caffein.
4. How long have you been knitting?
I've known how to knit for at least forty years, but have become obsessed in the past four years.
5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Nope, should I?
6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
Oh, yes. But I try to avoid chocolate (to be consumed only on very special occasions). Cappuccino jellybellies are a guilty pleasure.
8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
Knitting, knitting, and more knitting. I'm pretty much a one-craft girl these days.
9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
OK, the music thing is pretty eclectic. I listen to rock and roll in the car, when I'm not tuned in to Public Radio. My daughter has introduced me to some pretty amazing alternative stuff. Irish music, blueglass, folk, classical. Each has its place. Mandolin is a fave. Good cowgirl music gets me going. And darling, don't forget the yodeling. I'd love to get my hands on some Swiss or German yodeling rifs.
10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer?
Brown is my black, and I tend toward the earthy/autumnal pallette, but I love red, orange and have been known to wear fucshia. Trying to branch out into green, think olive, sage and forest.
11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Empty nester with three dogs, two cats, and a lovely husband.
12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
I'm dreaming of having independent children, who are happy, healty and support themselves. I'm dreaming of spending at least a month in Italy. I'm dreaming of..heck, I'm kind-of living my dream.
13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I've got some cashmere blend, picked up at School Products in New York, that's knitting up very nicely. Peruvian Highland Wool from Elann, Merino Wool, Kidsilk Haze. And sock yarns with a bit of nylon in them.
14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like cotton, but I don't really like it to knit with. And Red Heart makes me cringe.
15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Socks - they travel well and can ge worked on almost anywhere. But I'm knitting (or planning to knit) more sweaters this year. And scarves have their place. Dang, I also like to knit felted bags and hats. Pretty much everything has its place in my knitting life.
17. What are you knitting right now?
A gift feather and fan scarf in wine colored kidsilk haze. A cashmere blend cabled sweater for my brother, lace socks for my sister-iin-law, and finishing a poncho for my niece.
18. What do you think about ponchos?
I've knit two and am working on a thire, but I don't think I'd wear one.
19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
It depends on the project.
20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Again, it depends on the project. Mostly bamboo.
21. Are you a sock knitter?
22. How did you learn to knit?
My mother taught me the way her German mother taught her, Continental style.
23. How old is your oldest UFO?
18 years old! I just found it in the basement.
24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
I'm kind-of partial to dogs, especially tiny red weiner dogs.
25. What is your favorite holiday?
St. Patrick's Day!
26. Is there anything that you collect?
Margene asked the question today. Why do we do what we do? Knitting, that is. I knit because I love to run the fiber through my fingers. I knit because it's fascinating that you can take one long string and loop it around itself and watch a garment take shape. I knit because "Knit one, purl one," is as compelling a mantra as any other. I knit because I can visualize the recipient of a project and it's nice to have a visit with them - even if I'm absolutely alone. I knit because those on the receiving end are utterly appreciative each and every time I give something away. I knit because it calms me down. I knit because I can capture time in line, in the waiting room, and if someone's late. I knit because it has eliminated white-knuckle flights. I knit because it makes staff meetings bearable. I knit because there's a community of other knitters out there. I knit because I can watch TV guilt free. I knit because it's a great excuse to get together with Pamela. I knit because the process has a product. I knit because the process is productive in many other ways. I knit because I can.
I first started knitting when I was eight or nine years old. I had been fascinated to watch a neighbor girl, the older sister of a playmate, knitting a scarf and I told my mother about it. Mom taught me how to knit. I don't remember any early knitting projects.
I do remember my first sewing project, though. Mrs. Gobel taught me to sew the summer my grandmother got sick. Mom took my baby sister and went to help Grandpa in Roseville and Mrs. Gobel, Grandma's best friend, came to Berkeley to help Dad with the kids. With Mrs. Gobel's help I made a jumper that I could show off to Mom when she returned. The fabric was a pillow-ticking type twill with denim-colored stripes on a white background. Sewing was what I did for a long time after that. Mom is an expert seamstress and very creative with her embellishments. I didn't think I could ever become as good a seamstress as she was, but I did. And I worked as a seamstress and costumer for many years as an adult. I have boxes of fabric in the basement. Fabric stash that I just can't bring myself to get rid of.
I crocheted, too. Scarves and hats, mostly. I picked up knitting off and on throughout my adult life. I knit a sailor suit for Owen when he was a baby. And a couple of simple shells for myself. It's amazing how some skills just never leave you. Like riding a bike.
But I really became obsessive about knitting in 2001. Eva wanted to learn to knit so she could make her then-boyfriend a scarf. At the yarn shop, I saw a hand-knitted sock in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. In a variegated yellow, blue, pink, lavendar colorway. I thought, "I bet I could do this." Immediately, I was hooked. I have to admit, it took a while to understand the geometry of a sock. But after a couple of trips to the yarn shop for advice and a little judicious ripping, I was a sock knitter!
Then came the health crisis. A suspicious shadow on the mammogram. Terrifying. Thank goodness I had more sock yarn in my budding stash. In the month before the biopsy I knit two more pairs of socks. Obsessively. I didn't want to talk to anyone, just knit. One row of knit, knit, purl, and one row of knit, purl, purl. That was my mantra through Dr. visits and long dark nights. I got good at socks and I started to get creative with yarn, making up my own sock pattern as I went along. And then the biopsy came out negative! I was OK! Knitting got me through it. It gets me through a lot of things.
And now, through blogging, I can keep track of projects and connect with knitters near and far. Thanks, Margene, for reminding us about the process. Products are pretty and warm. But what I love best is the slow-and-steady process and the mantra of the pattern.
Don't forget, friends and neighbors. Sunday, February 6, we'll be celebrating International Pajama Day II. So get out your flannels, brush up your slippies, and prepare for a knit in in the privacy and comfort of your own home. More on how to celebrate will be posted this weekend.
I was up and out by 6:30 this morning. The first time in a week that I've made the morning walk with Schatzi. Yelps of excitement, squeals really. Yip, yip, yip, up the street! My reward was nearly instantaneous. A block away from home I ran into Keith and Greg, who were on their morning run. "We'll see you at the Royal," Keith called as they jogged past. Whee! Nice reward.
A warm bed is so enticing on these mid-winter mornings. I have to force myself to emerge from my comfortable quilted cocoon. Once I'm out, though, I like the pre-dawn chill. Occasional joggers and other dog walkers, hardy souls, are few. It's usually just me and my weiner dog hustling up the street as the sky changes from dark to pale. There's lots of color in the early morning sky, and there's almost always a moment just before I hit the Royal when I look up and wham! there's some glorious combination of sky, clouds, and dawn. That moment comes and goes quickly, so best appreciate it while it's there. Talk about rewards.
Keith and Greg live in Chico, but they come down to the Bay Area often. I got my 15-minute visit over chamomile tea and oat cake. Now it'll be three weeks 'til they're down again. I'll keep walkin' - you never know what rewards will come your way. Especially if you take the time to appreciate the simple things.
I woke up with a sick headache at 2:45 a.m. Thursday and couldn't go back to sleep. Nausea, restless, rough night. Dozed off a couple of times but couldn't sleep more than fifteen minutes at a time. By 8:30 a.m. I couldn't imagine being able to do anything of value at work, so I called in sick - something I rarely do. It was an unexpected pajama day. But I didn't feel like knitting.
The festivities in Washington didn't make me feel any better. But posting The War President at least made me feel like I'd done something. After reading Jessica this morning, I was really glad that I'd joined the knitblog protest. It's all about doing what you can.
After resting all day yesterday, I feel human and healthy today. I'm getting caught up at work and making plans for the weekend. First and foremost will be major excavation in the basement:
It's amazing how much
crap interesting stuff crap one can accumulate after twenty-plus years in the same house. The aim is to reinstate the craft/sewing workshop so we can actually use it and it doesn't overwhelm the home accounting office. We did quite a bit of organizing work last week. I found a lot of buried treasure. I also got rid of a lot of garbage and recycling. Tomorrow the excavation will continue...
Interspersed with the basement project will be appreciation of our glorious California winter. I know many of you are in the midst of freezing your buns off, but here the weather is quite temperate. We rarely freeze and rarely get below 40 Fahrenheit. So, when I walk through the back yard, I like to look up and enjoy the blue sky through the blossoming trees:
Oh, and there's always time for knitting. The kidsilk haze scarf is done! Ends woven in, steam blocked. And I've been swatching for gauge on several projects and trying to finish up languishing holiday projects.
Yup, life goes on...
Friends and neighbors, the Holiday Season is officially over at Chez Unraveling. We bid farewell to our oldest child this afternoon. She's on her way to Hangzhou, China. For school. It will probably be two hours until she lands. That's a lo-o-o-o-o-ng flight.
Eva wouldn't let me take her photo. As a matter of fact, she was very disagreeable about it. "I hate that camera," she said. "I hate the pictures of me you post on your blog." OK. So I took a picture of the plane. Its a big plane.
Now, the house is "quiet", if you can call living with three dogs quiet. It isn't. But it's "quiet" in a different way. And we are planning things. Like our trip to New York in February (we have tickets to Spamalot). And our trip to Rome in May. I'm really excited about going to Rome. I lived there for six months in 1971-72. Jeez, that's almost 33 years ago! Jeez. And we will go visit the boy/man in Heidelberg, too. After Rome. Or during Rome. We haven't quite made up our minds. We will. In a few days.
After seeing Eva off at the airport, I took her dog, that's my grandog Snooty, back to my place. And then I stopped by to get myself a treat at Whole Foods on my way to work. Moms need treats when they bid farewell to their children for extended periods of time. I don't care how old they are, and how
annoying special they are, we still need treats. It's rough on us. We worry. We are connected. We miss them already. So we need treats. I went straight for the No Cookies. They are vegan and have no wheat. Carob Mint is my favorite. But while I was there I thought I'd pick up a few things and wouldn't you know it, I found something I could not do without.
Oh, yeah. This is the way to wind things up. I needed this leopard-print broom, baby. Big time. This is the way to start the new year. A clean, hip sweep.
I made a list. I checked things off. And someone missed a meeting with me yesterday afternoon, giving me extra time to organize.
At 10 a.m. Friday, my cubicle looked like this:
By 2 p.m., it looked like this:
...which did a lot for my morale.
This morning, I will spend some time working out how to follow the pattern for Blaze. After two false starts, I realized I wasn't reading the cable pattern correctly. I'm hoping the third time's the charm.
This afternoon will be spend organizing the basement. I'd better go enjoy my knitting time while I have it. The quiet before the storm.
When I was a stay-at-home mom with tiny babies and young children, I lived for the moment that my husband would come home and I could venture out into the world unencumbered. Seriously. At that time, there was a produce store in my neighborhood shopping area - just three blocks away. Seems like they were always playing baroque music just prior to the dinner hour there. It was a nice place to escape to. "We need a vegetable for dinner," I'd say, and slip out the door. It's amazing how restorative 15 minutes with the produce and baroque music could be after a day with two small children.
When my kids were little, I would often go out one evening a week to the movies alone. 90 minutes of uninterrupted entertainment. Wow. I loved that. I felt that I needed to get away occasionally to cope with the demands of full-time motherhood. Small pleasures. I really liked being my own cheap date.
Life is very different now. I don't need to escape from home. In fact, I am required to leave home for at least ten hours on weekdays and most of the time I'm away even longer. I have my own (semi-private) space at work. I do interesting stuff. My kids are (almost) adults, living their own lives. My husband and I each have our own busy lives. In fact, we have to make time to be together. And we have to schedule time to be alone. As you probably already know, there's nothing I like better than a car-less, boy-less day at home in my pajamas. Those days are few, and far between.
So you have probably figured out by now that I'm in a contemplative, questioning mood today. I feel like I've been frittering away my time lately, or been having it frittered away by other people. Days seem to evaporate. What did I do to justify my paycheck? Today it's already bedtime and there's a long list of things I haven't done. It's not like I'm lazing around doing nothing. But I'm not sure I'm getting anything of substance done and the to-do list (when I can remember to keep it current) keeps getting longer and longer. Is this a typical middle-aged-empty-nest feeling? Projects loom large at work, yet little progress is made. I know what I should be doing but do I do it? Well, not always. It's often fun stuff first, looming projects later. And I don't think I'm expecting too much of myself. Focus, Celia, focus.
What I really long to do is just stay at home. The house is empty much of the time, except for pets who adore me. And frankly, I'd rather be knitting. I can measure my progress more easily. I can organize knitting projects. It's all that multi-tasking, being responsible, knowing what one is doing (not), and using one's brain that gets unwieldy. It's true. One should be careful what one asks for. I wanted a job. I wanted out of the house. I wanted to feel like a grown-up. And I do. And if I didn't have it, I'd wish I did.
So, tomorrow morning I'll try not to fritter. No blogging. Until tomorrow night at least. I'll make a list and see how many items I can check off by the end of the day. I will focus. I will wield.
Why, oh why, do I delude myself that things are going to quiet down? Seems like I'm always going from the frying pan into the fire. Just when things start to down (they're not quite calm yet, though) at home they heat up at work. I have to steel myself. Prepare for battle. Not really battle. Just nose-to-the-grindstone stuff. Make lists. Keep on top of things. Meet deadlines.
Thank goodness for the memory of International Pajama Day*. I discovered the most delicious combination of lounge wear last Sunday: silk pajamas, a cashmere sweater, and hand-knit socks. I have each of these items and they are color coordinated! Delicious, soft, and warm. I can put myself in a calm frame of mind just thinking of how they feel when I'm wearing them.
I got the most comments I've had yet in this flegling blog on my post about International Pajama Day. Seems like everyone likes the idea and Vicki suggested that we have it on a monthly basis. What a marvelous idea, in fact I need Pajama Day at least once a month in order to stay sane. And why do it alone, when there's a virtual community out there ready to celebrate calm and rest and delicious soft warmth? So kids, the next Pajama Day will be...Superbowl weekend, Sunday, February 6. Get your PJs ready folks. I'll be celebrating on my own, as the tradition is for Ron to meet his friend, Smith, at a location where they can watch the Superbowl on TV and then play golf the next day. This year they're going to Phoenix. And both kids will be on different continents. So it will be me, the dogs, the kitties, movies, and pajamas. Who will join me? Will you send photos please?
In knitting news, this evening Janine is joining me at Jill's knitting night in San Francisco. I'm still working on the feather and fan kidsilk haze scarf and last night I cast on a sleeve to swatch for Blaze. I'm using Nature Spun worsted weight from Brown Sheep Co. in Silver Sage (color #107). On my
lazy Sunday productive Pajama Day, I knit up a little Bow-Knot scarf in fuchsia merino to go with the fucshia angora sox that were in my Christmas stocking (Thank you, Santa!).
I have a million BIG projects but, darn it, these tiny fast projects are so satisfying, aren't they?
...and the angora sox:
Well, it lowered my stress level posting this. Now, off to "do battle" in the workplace. Please put International Pajama Day #2 on your calendar (Sunday, Feb. 6).
*I researched it online and found this site for International Pajama Day, which takes place on April 5, 2005. A TUESDAY? And they are encouraging people to wear pajamas to work? and on errands? I'm sorry that will just not do. It's all about lounging and quiet and calm. And not having to leave the house. And knitting. Wearing pajamas to work would simply ruin Pajama Day for me. I like this monthly thing much better.