Saturday, November 7, 2015

What I Do When I'm Not Doing Anything

I've spent the last week in a haze. I don't mean this poetically. My vision (a challenge over the last year - one of those I really don't feel like discussing) has been particularly fuzzy. My head is actually heavy (but not painful, happy to report). I'm encircled in the kind of exhaustion that only the onslaught of hard-core international travel, death and loss of daylight can produce. I feel dissociative.

This weekend, I'm calling a time out. It began last night at Enoteca Sociale (my current local), eating gorgeous blue cheese (with candied pecans, made onsite - the key is deep frying), the best dense, sourdough bread in the city, soaked in copious amounts of olive oil (I don't like bread, but I'll make an exception here). I moved onto gnocchi with a smoked tomato sauce and dollop of silky ricotta. Somehow I resisted dessert - the wine pairings helped. I didn't waste my time with vegetables. Everything ingested was to soak up the floatiness and replace it with grounding. And seriously, if you care about service - amongst my most coveted requirements - you cannot go wrong here. Our Enoteca server friends bring a beautiful experience.

Peeps, if your world is uncertain, eat Italian. I mean, really good Italian.

Next week will go back to craziness at work, each evening occupied by some activity (more often than not meeting with architects and design-build firms, cuz we've got to do that reno I've been avoiding). But for the next 2 days, I'm sitting on my couch with knitting and a book. There will be some yoga. I may make a chicken pot pie. Convivially, I will drink a couple of bottles of wine.

A propos of reading and knitting, I'm fortunate to have some good things on the go:

The Knitting: Do you know this pattern?

L'enveloppe by Sally Melville
It's one of those very interestingly constructed, hybrid garments. It's either going to be great or hideous - but I'm up for it.

I'm using a yarn which is currently NOT impressing me: Rowan Super Fine Merino Aran in the Soot colourway. It does have lovely drape and it's a very nice grey meets black, but Lord, it's splitty. I had to buy a bamboo needle with very pointy ends, just to accommodate it, and I still need to be careful because the yarn is barely plied. You can actually untwist it by hand and see the numerous threads that make it an aran-weight yarn. Mind you, it is machine washable.

Since superwash yarns are notoriously expansive after blocking, I opted to use a size US8 needle which got me a horizontal gauge of 16 stitches in 4 inches and a fabric that coheres. The pattern actually gives you any number of choices to achieve 4 different gauges and numerous different sizes in those gauges. I actually find it more complicated than helpful, but if you want to use yarns of a variety of thicknesses, theoretically, you can.

I did swatch and block before starting this project because it's a fitted garment, to some extent - and I wanted to feel confident about the sort of drape the final fabric would produce. I was inclined to use a US9 needle (not that I ever knit anything with needles that big - even a US7 is an oddity for me), but the fabric would have been too open for my liking. I think this garment looks sloppy when the fabric is loose.

I've finally come to an understanding that, if one must be careful about one's knitting volume (for reasons of pain), it only makes sense to knit with bigger yarn on bigger needles. Fingering yarn on a US1 is 8 times the work of aran yarn on a US8 needle. Not to mention that aran yarn knits fast. Yeah, socks are always going to be a slim-gauge undertaking but they don't use a lot of yarn in the scheme of things. I sense my days of fingering-gauge sweaters are over for the foreseeable future (famous last words).

The wildcard here is the size. I'm making the small - which is a 32-34 in the bust.  Now, the yarn (being of larger gauge) has more stretch-per-inch than a smaller-gauge one would. Not to mention, I'm a narrow person in the shoulders (where fit matters most in this garment). In fact, I'm surprised it doesn't give measurement by shoulder instead of bust circumference. Moreover, the next size up is 36-38. Where does that leave 35 inches? Point is, I don't think the sizing info is particularly robust (and oversized versions look unlovely in the photos) so I'm erring on the small side. We'll see how that plays out.

The Reading: Recently I was interviewed by writer, Matthew Remski, who's researching a book about modern postural yoga and the injuries it can cause / the premises that underpin yogic injury. (Here's the prospectus, in case you're interested.) The thesis is fascinating, IMO, and I'm so pleased to inform a small part of it. Since I discovered Matthew and his work (which is featured in a variety of online publications including his own blog), I've been reminded of an ever-polarizing school of thought about yoga (the postural vs the pranic) and it's really expanded my awareness.

Anyway, though I appear to have been living under a rock for the last 5 years (yoga-book-wise, anyway), I finally purchased a copy of Yoga Body by Mark Singleton. Full disclosure: It reads more like someone's PhD thesis than a yoga manual. It's an academic consideration of how modern postural yoga owes much more to Indian colonialism of the 19th century and the European gymnastics movement of the early 20th century than to the ancient Indian practices with which modern westerners generally accredit it. Note: No one's proposing that yoga isn't an ancient art, but that postural yoga (that stuff you do at your studio three times a week - that stuff I've been practicing and teaching for 25-years) is a modern, quasi-western construct through and through. Does that shock you? It's pretty well what I have always presumed - particularly since the onslaught of popularized yoga (what I like to call YogaLite) in the 90s.

This book, when published in 2010, raised the hackles (and undermined the foundation) of many a yogi and caused quite a bit of discourse. I recommend it, though I'm only part way through.

Finally, BTW, I'm ready to put it out there that I have non-negligible issues with the decline of daylight at this time of year (steadily worsening till it's almost impossible to bear). OMG, it's RIDICULOUS. I can actually feel myself ebb. Yeah, if you look back in my archives, at autumn posts over the last 9 years, I'm sure you'll see this theme emerge at every turn. But it never ceases to floor me. How did people survive this before modern shelter and heating? Those Samis and Inuits are punished by geography. It's no wonder that alcoholism runs rampant in the far north of northern countries. At a certain point, hygge is everything and, while I realize that hygge more about good food, wood fires and coziness than booze, don't kid yourself. The booze is a meaningful part of that equation.

Today's questions are all over the place: Have you made L'enveloppe (or would you)? If yes, how did it turn out, size-wise? Have you read Yoga Body? Does it surprise you that yoga might owe as much to the west as to the east? Does it bother you?

And let's leave it on the seasonal affective note: If you live in the north (let's say north of latitude 40, to maximize the pool), how the fuck do you stand it?? Really, a fireplace only gets you so far. (PS: You can suggest exercise, but I've already got that one in the bag and, really, it only takes the edge off the worst of it.) Hibernation, alas, is not an option.

25 comments:

  1. Ugh. I took Tuesday off because I woke up so lightheaded that I had to lean against the wall as I tried to get ready! I decided nobody needed me to drive an hour in that state, so I stayed home, slept, and got better. Yes, it was partly because my month-long cold is predicatably settled in my lungs on it's way to becoming bronchitis... and yes, it was partly work stress... but really, I think it was daylight savings time. Not worth it!!!!!
    I hope your weekend of relaxing helps - I wish there was more in the rest of your life that you could cut back on!

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    1. OK, I'm glad to know I'm not alone! (Though I really hope you're feeling all better now.) How's the chest??

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  2. Hi
    I just had to comment on your question of livability North of the 40th. Just let me say that I believe one has to be genetically predisposed to put up with winter time shit in the North. I live on the 45th and I love all 4 seasons of the year.
    BTW I enjoy your blog. Its entertaining and sometimes
    thought provoking, to me anyway.
    Gary

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    1. I think you're right Gary. I also think that age degrades one's natural propensity for winter - it's just too difficult! Thanks so much for your comment.

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  3. I think your wrap thing has the ability to look either awesome or dorky, and it'll be a lot of work to find out which way that pendulum will swing. Fingers crossed for awesome!

    As for how people deal with winter, I think you just have to have the determination to not let it defeat you. Turn the cold and dark into a productive time and do something you enjoy to pass the hours. Open the blinds and let in what light you can, bake something, enjoy your hobbies, spend more time with your family. For example, we play a lot of games with the kids in the winter and spend time with other family as well. And this might just be me, but I find that if I clean my house (like a serious deep clean) in the Fall, it helps me breathe easier all winter. It's the little things, simple pleasures that will get you through. You can do it! :-)

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    1. I know! It's going one way or the other - here's hoping I've called it right.

      And thank you for your comment about managing the winter. Today I do intend to cook and bake my ass off - and it doesn't hurt that it's sunny outside.

      I'm pretty hard core about having a clean (and uncluttered house) so I don't know that I can maximize the deep clean - I try to make it deeply clean all the time :-) But I could sort my closet...

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  4. I think it's become far more recognized and accepted that lots of people have trouble with autumn and winter. I was at cistron today, and they were selling those full spectrum 'sun' lights that you used to have to get prescribed by a doctor to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't know how effective this Costco one is, but obviously there's a lot of demand find them...

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    1. I have a full-spectrum light visor that I got for this very reason (a couple of years ago). I stopped using it because I was having serious light sensitivity with the migraines but I will pull it out of the drawer and set it up again. I've been thinking about it - just to ambivalent to get my ass off the couch!

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  5. Look forward to your further thoughts on L'enveloppe -- have the pattern, but haven't attempted it yet. Agreed that oversized does not look as good with this (at least from what I've seen on Ravelry). Something about the proportions just looks off when it's too long I think. An interesting piece when done right though --!good luck.

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    1. Oh, I'm sure you'll hear more about that pattern - whether good or bad :-) I agree that some of the versions look terrific but most of them look weird and misproportioned, so I'm going to have to play it carefully. Stay tuned.

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  6. I live in Seattle. I use a light box for 30 mins when I get up, esp if it is still pitch dark outside. I sit about two feet in front of the light. I have a second light box set up on a high shelf that I use to light my sewing room. It really helps my seasonal dip into mental hibernation. Then I have the energy to plan a trip to a sunny place for Jan or Feb. Good luck.

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    1. I do have a light visor for this reason (see comment above about how I didn't use it due to light sensitivity). I'm going to pull it out and give it a go. And I really should book a winter trip to somewhere that isn't winter! I NEVER do that, somehow. I think I'm worried that the coming back will depress me so fundamentally that I won't be able to take it.

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  7. The northern light thing is definitely a division, similar to Nightowls vs Larks. I gre up in Rocky Mtn desert country and by age 25, had had enough squinting into bright sun to last me a lifetime. I headed north, and then further north: England, WA, and finally here in Juneau, Alaska. Peupke here actuLly head to Seattle for little sun in winter. Not even kidding. I love the gray, misty green rainforest here. I enjoy a day or two of sun, but if it stays longer than 3 days, and hats & sunglasses are involved, I get annoyed, frankly. It's dark at 3:30pm now, and that just means more time for good books and Irish whiskey by the fire.

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    1. Oooh, I've never thought of it quite like that! And I'm amazed that you find it so cozy and perfect to be practically in the arctic circle?!?! I'm aiming to feel ok about it. I think I just have to get to January and I'll be ok. That's when the weather tanks, but the light starts to re-emerge.

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  8. I discovered I was solar powered so I moved to the tropics.

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    1. Ha! That's what my parents figured out. Now they live in the best climate ever, IMO - the Carolinian one.

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  9. my personal prescription for winter above the 40th:
    - soaking up all the daylight possible
    - lots of lights on with daylight bulbs in them
    - happy-making food (things with spices and fruit and things roasted in the oven)
    - the fire :)
    - enjoying how gorgeous each season is (the colours of fall & the wonderful contrast of the cool bite under the sunshine, the way there is nothing quite as starkly beautiful as frost diamonds on the bushes in the morning light & the way snow glitters in the starlight)
    - planning something special for February because everything just gets a bit wearing by then...

    (I'm with ComfyCurvy on too many days of sunshine though - I get cranky & depressed :) )

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    1. OK, you have a very good system in place. I'm trying these things btw and I'm not feeling any worse! I really need a fire place (which I don't have). Instead I'm fixated on the wood stove I'm putting into the house when we do the renovation.

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  10. I have made L'enveloppe as it happens. I made the small, you can see my project on Ravelry username Northmoon. I was happy with how it turned out and the pattern was an interesting change from yet another triangular shawl.

    I too hate the loss of daylight at this time of year.

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    1. Thanks - and lovely project! I think I might seam up the entire neck - I saw one finished garment on Ravelry that was made up this way. I can always try it and, if it looks weird on me, rip it out. It's just a seam, right?

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  11. SAD Light! Plus extra Vitamin D, way more than is suggested. I feel like screaming when I realize it's pitch dark at 4:30 (it gets worse). One of these days I'm going to jump in the car and drive to Oregon just to get an extra hour's worth of daylight.

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    1. OK, I'm taking 6000 IUs of vit d per day. It's not doing any harm, that's for sure. And I hear you about jumping in the car. I'm ready to move to Ecuador at this point :-)

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  12. Forgot to mention that when I sit with the SAD light on all the dogs come and join me.

    BTW, my light is from COSTCO - no Rx needed here in US. I would think the visor would be too glare-y. I have my light to the side.

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    1. That's hilarious! I don't have access to Costco (I'm a non-car person) but I have to find a better option than the visor. You're absolutely right - it's too glare-y - especially for a migraine-getter.

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  13. I am comforted to read about other peoples issues with winter and lack of light. It gets worse for me every year! Cleaning and cooking does help, and I think I am going to try a light even though I have sensitivity issues as well. I live in central MI and it must be very similar to Toronto! Kelly

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