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July 27, 2007

We love you Howard


I read this blog post today and had one of those life-changing, epiphany moments. This is in combination to the press gleefully reporting the study that suggests obesity is contagious. It is nice to know that scientists will say about anything to get media coverage.

So, as much as I enjoy blaming fat people for things and as enticing as this all is as a sound bite, I have to part ways with how it was reported out. Fat isn't contagious, but behaviors are and if you are surrounded by people who are choosing certain behaviors and justifying those behaviors, you will fall in line. That is what we do when we want to align ourselves with someone. (But my way won't get covered by GMA because it sounds boring and sensible and there is no easy, one-step action to take.)

As a woman who has been told most of my life that any pain or illness I'm feeling is due to my weight, I totally understand the decision to stop seeing medical professionals as I "already know" what is wrong with me. I also, painfully, know sabotage. Now, I'm not trying to blame my weight on anyone else but myself. I have made all the choices that brought me to where I am today.

I think the key is breaking my deeply programmed responses of automatically putting on the happy face and being obliging and accommodating. Of holding onto the white-hot rage so that I can support choices I'm trying to make that will result in a healthier me. And when needed, having the slap-down ready. And I need to "be OK" with demonstrating different behaviors than people I'm around and "be OK" if they are uncomfortable with this.

Why haven't I held onto my health like it was precious and valuable? Why did I sacrifice it to peer pressure? When did I make the decision that it was less important? I took it for granted.

Not. Anymore.

Scenario 1: Long roadtrip in front of me. I make a special effort to get to the store at lunch time in the days before the trip to stock up on healthy snacks and food so that I could save some money (the trip was expensive for me) and I would have some option for healthy eating and could avoid fast food. The roadtrip companion, a beloved family member, bitched and moaned for most of the trip about the food. Food she likes but didn't want on this trip. This is the same family member who tries to have conversations with me about how worried she is about my weight and thinks I'm over sensitive because I don't want to have these conversations with her. In truth, I don't want to have these conversations with her because I'm pissed off about stuff like this scenario.

From now on, I will have these uncomfortable conversations with her and let her know...I'm pissed off. When she looks in my cupboards and complains I don't have any cookies for her...I'll tell her to suck it up. When she wants me to come visit...I'll just tell her it can't be for long because it is exhausting dodging the land mines she throws at me...ice cream, chowders, my favorite barbecue place, etc.

Scenario 2: I finally set up a meeting with a personal trainer and I'm going to keep it. I've tried in the past and something always comes up and I cancel like this is an expendable appointment. This morning I almost cancelled again because I got a last-minute invite from family who is visiting in the area and I would like to take off early to see them as much as possible. But leaving early on top of a long lunch (the appointment with the trainer) seems like slacking. And to top it off, one of my projects is threatening to blow up in my face because someone else has dropped the ball.

I don't know why I think an extra 2 hours will give me time to pull this project out of the crapper and I don't know why I would feel guilty about taking 2 freakin' hours out of my day when I tend to always put in extra time. This project's failure is not my fault so I'm not sure why I think I always have to be the savior. Again, I'll just have to tell them to suck it up. It isn't done because they didn't bother with it two weeks ago when I was trying to get momentum. I've documented this and I'm off an hour early today and you can't reach me at lunch. For once I'm not hunched over my keyboard at lunch. Deal with it. And next time...respond to my first email.

And to relatives who don't bother inviting me until the day before, a little notice would be nice because I do, actually, have a life. I need to shuffle things to come see you and run that errand you requested of me before I come see you. And I suspect I was only invited so I would run that errand. I won't say it was no trouble. I'll, nicely, respond with, I'm happy to do it because I love you, but, yeah, it was a challenge today to make it all happen.

And I'm keeping the appointment with the trainer.

Scenario 3: Clothing. How can something pound the self esteem so completely in the blink of an eye? I went into a national big and tall women store the other day. My jeans are looking disreputable so I needed to pick up a couple pair and thought I could run this errand at lunch. I knew exactly what I wanted as I have done some "research" and tried several different kinds. I like the boot-cut rigid jeans in tall. I don't like the stretch because they look hideous on me. They look like denim tights. Regardless of the size. Hid. E. Ous.

I zip to the wall with the jeans and I'm brought up short. I cannot find what I need. They are launching some fan-tabulous campaign with their jeans. It is supposed to be easy. Colors now designate whether something is boot-cut or flare, etc. Apparently, none of us can read "boot cut," we need the color blue to help us out. "I'm too confused! I'm too confused! If only it was a color so I didn't have to try to read!"

But that isn't what chapped my hide. It just made me roll my eyes.

What chapped my hide is that there are no more rigid jeans. They are all stretch now. And in some misguided attempt to, I guess, bolster our self esteem, the sizes are changed so that they don't follow standard sizes, they are now 1-6. You have to ask one of the sales people come over with their "special" tape measures that is marked off to find out if you are a size 1 or 2 or whatever. I did my best not to chew up and spit out the sales woman who was gushing at how much everyone loved the new jeans. Even after I told her, quite plainly, that I hated the stretch jeans, they look terrible on me. Gush gush gush.

I do deserve some praise for not picking her up and tossing her away from me like the Incredible Hulk.

I almost just grabbed a pair of jeans anyway to complete the errand. I often do that. I settle for clothing that is not flattering because it is hard to find things that fit me. I'm tall, I have long legs and no matter what weight I've been, getting jeans/pants that fit has been darn near impossible.

I'm sick of knowing I don't look great and feeling like I kind of deserve it because I'm heavy. I'm done with letting the fashion industry shame me into looking frumpy. I'm going to learn how to sew and I'm going to figure out how to properly size things up (if that is possible) and that isn't just out, that is up too because as a tall person, they seem to always put the extra length in the body so the crotch on my pants are always much lower than is comfortable (or attractive). I'm going to just have to learn how to do alterations myself.

So y'all, basically, today is all about "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

July 17, 2007


It seems to be all about red around Casa de Drew these days. Well, not entirely but for the two project updates I'm bringing you today...it is all about red.

First, I've been fitting in a little sock knitting between projects because I always fit in a little sock knitting and also because that is my Christmas knitting. Hand knit socks are all Grandma ever wants from me so I'm trying to shape up and give her hand knit socks.

This is a pair of Broadripples in Socks that Rock, Mustang Sally. This is one of those examples of the right pattern with the right yarn at the right time so they have flown along and been a lot of fun. I was able to take this in natural light so the color is true. The heel is turned, I just don't have a heel on my hand to demonstrate.

Grandma's Broadripples

For the non-knitters visiting this blog, I know it sounds like we complain, agonize, and sob over our projects a lot more than we enjoy them. And, at least for me, that is very true. So why would I continue knitting? Because when you hit that sweet spot, when it all falls together, it is the most relaxing, enjoyable, and productive hobby a person could take up. And it is worth it!

It is like that one great hit in a game of golf or when the bat meets the ball just right and it feels perfect and goes forever. Those moments when all the stars align and it carries you through all the future frustrating attempts.

But enough waxing philosophical over my Broadripples.

The Mystery Stole 3 has kicked my butt. Repeatedly. However, I have not given up. I was having to tink and reknit every 2 out of 3 rows 2 and 3 times! I kept plugging along telling myself that this wasn't hard and I could do it. Finally, I had to just had to admit to myself that while the pattern isn't hard (and it truly isn't) the yarn I was trying to use was making the project darn near impossible.

Laceweight yarn is little more than thread. Which isn't the problem. What became the problem was how much my yarn was splitting. It created more problems for me and more dropped stitches (and I've probably dropped three stitches in my lifetime) then I could handle. So as much as I liked the color and texture of the yarn, I had to consider not using it for this project.

Then I finally admitted to myself that as fun as it was to knit this fine fabric that magically came to life when blocked...it wasn't something I would wear. The scale and beading just is not something that matches anything I have in the closet and I would be afraid of tearing it up.

So I looked around the stash and thought I would try (just try) in a fingering weight yarn. I won't wear a black or white stole so I was left with the forest green or burgandy. I wanted a burgandy one to begin with so (since I was just experimenting) I figured I would experiment in a beautiful cashmere/silk/merino fingerweight I got from Elann a couple years ago. I have been saving this for a sweater for me and wasn't sure I wanted to use any of it up. But I would just try it out...right?

Mystery Stole 3 take 313

The yarn is a much richer burgandy in real life and I haphazardly pinned out the piece on the nearest light background around me to photograph (I'm not sure I was even looking as I pinned it out judging from the lopsidedness). And red rarely photographs well.

Now I can truly say it isn't a difficult pattern as I flew through Clue #1 and am happily moving along Clue #2 also. It is amazing how much better it looks and how much more I'm enjoying it now that I am using the right materials for this project for me. This is something I will wear.

July 12, 2007

Suprise! I have skills

There seems to be quite a bit of blogging about Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket so I thought I would pipe in with my own learning experience.

The BSJ is really a cool piece of architecture. But it is difficult for the likes of me because I'm very dependant on patterns. Actually, patterns are a big part of why I like knitting. They are like crosswords to me. Can I figure it out? What do I get when I follow these instructions?

So, while I truly see why working some Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns is such a growing experience for a knitter, I stumbled, and I'm sure it won't be the only time.

Here is my first adventure in Zimmerman-land. Her pattern calls for the knitter to pay attention to where the shaping is happening and I made the mistake of trying to mathematically determine where that shaping went. I discovered pretty quickly (maybe not quickly enough) that it put me far off track.

Exhibit A:

bsj problem found

Nice line of decreases jumps over. I'm so disgusted that I did this I decide I want to try to "fix" it rather than rip. Something about learning, blah blah blah.

So I put the knitting on either side of the problem area on needles and I unraveled the bit that needed to be fixed. Yep, right there I unraveled right in the middle of a project.

bsj problem unraveled

I knit up this middle bit. Several times. As I "learned."

 bsj problem reknit

Then we had to have a lie-down. This learning stuff is traumatic.

Sapph napping

When we looked at our work we were quite shocked to see...mistake gone. And you can't see where it was. What? Would this be...skill? I've heard about this in other people but I never knew I could get me some of those skill-thingies.

where is the problem

But my friends, that is what we are looking at here. Some mad knitting skillz!

knitting skillz

Thank you EZ.

July 05, 2007

Mystery to me

I love making tasks into games. I am easily entertained and I think that is a blessing so I take full advantage of this characteristic and make games out of as many chores as possible.

While this would hardly qualify as a chore, it is a daunting task that has easily overwhelmed me in the past.

I have several lace shawl kits to DIE for but I pull them out, get a little woozy from the thought of all that intricate work (can't work on these while watching a foreign movie or even a show that is too interesting) and put them back in the basket/bin/box/bag.

So I was pretty enthralled by the idea of the Mystery Stole. And so far it is living up to its hype. Who knew that withholding parts of the pattern from me would keep me interested enough to forge ahead?

At least that is the case for now. We all know what my attention span can be when it comes to the long slog.

lace knitting supplies

I happen to have a little stash of lace yarn waiting to be lovingly used in a project. This is a light grey that has the very slightest of variation in the color. So slight you can't really tell until you start knitting it up and then it just adds a wonderful depth to the knitted fabric. I'm making it with light grey beads so it is monochromatic but I think it will be stunning and more versatile for wear. The crystal beads were tempting but I think the lace is going to sing and dance and won't need sparkle competing with it. And I'm not very sparkly anyway.

The yarn is Lacy Lamb but I can't find a sample of my color and my label looks very different than what I see being sold online.

lacy lamb label

I'm about 2/3 through the first clue (and the second is released tomorrow so I'd better get a move on if I don't want to get hopelessly behind and discouraged, etc.). This is just under 6" along the side (that is nearly 15cm for folks outside the US and no, I don't know why we didn't follow through with adopting the metric system. My guess is that men with bucks complained about the cost to switch their machinery bits and since men with bucks rule the US...we bowed down to their whining complaints).

mystery stole progress

I'm a little disappointed that mine doesn't seem to show the detail in the design others are showing. I might need to go down a needle size or I might be doing my YOs wrong. Well, not wrong, but not as right as they should be for a piece like this. I like how it looks. Actually, I loved how it looked until I got a look around at other's work. Dang. But I do want mine to be a little bit bigger because, well, I'm a little bit bigger.

Oh, and the red lifelines? Cinnamon dental floss. Someone recommended it as a life line and since it is fairly portable, I figured, why not? Some of you are more adventurous and throw caution to the wind. I'm fragile to failures of this dimension (as I will be illustrating this weekend in a huge knitty opportunity I'm throwing out to all of you).

And I have the UFO stash to prove it.

Sitting ducks

The knitting project that requires little thought? The cardi of course. I'm still on the increases but I'm getting fairly close to when I separate the stitches for the sleeves and then this starts looking sweatery.

mallard cardi

This doesn't do the color justice. It is a richer blue/green (actually, the color of the head and neck of a mallard). But I didn't take advantage of the morning sun for these pictures. You are getting slap-dash pictures at lunch in between errands.

It is nice to have a good 'ole wool stockinette sweater to work on between fancy lace projects and fancy socks.

Feedback without direction isn't helpful

The instructor in me wants to know what I could do to raise my score. This isn't very helpful.