Archive for April, 2009

April 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I had an awakening a few weeks ago when I was at the gym and stepped on the scale. I’m not as bothered about the weight I’ve gained as I am about my health dwindling. It also hit me that I was letting my hair grow out – that means a change is a’commin’! I realized today that about this time every year at Uni I did an inventory – a spring cleaning of sorts.

So, for this year, instead of spring cleaning your house spring clean yourself.

1. Spring has (started to) sprung!

Take advantage of the nicer weather and walk. Take the mile or mile and a half challenge – walk, run, or bike anywhere within a mile or mile and a half. For me, that means walking to friends’ houses, the grocery store, and (starting this week) to work.

It’s rainy, you say? Embrace it. Invest in a good raincoat shell, some fun wellies, and go jump in some puddles. It’s too hot? Take some extra water, indulge in some Gatorade.

Rules for walking:
– wear good shoes
– walk on a sidewalk or on the LEFT side of the road
– always, always, ALWAYS carry water. And actually drink it.
– don’t forget your iPod (I’ve named mine Lucy)! Make sure to keep the volume low enough so you can hear cars and other walkers
– take a little bit of time to wander – notice something new, find the sunshine, take a mini-vacation.

2. If your body is a temple, it’s time to start treating it like one.

One great thing about living in Bar Harbor is that there are no fast food restaurants. When you go grocery shopping, look and see what produce looks good. Cut down on meat and get your protein from beans and fresh-tasting salads. For myself, I’m taking out all sweets and “extra” carbs like crackers and chips. The ice cream places are starting to open up in town, though, so once in awhile I’ll splurge on some really really good ice cream.

3. Your temple needs to live in a temple.

I know, I wasn’t going to start talking about spring cleaning, but that’s an important part of personal health, too. I’ve started really hating doing dishes, so today I’m going to completely tidy up the kitchen and try and keep on top of it.

It’s time to switch out the winter clothes! Since I live in a pretty cold place, I’ve got to keep some (ok, a lot) of my winter layering clothes, but I’m going to re-think my storage situations, use my clothes and colors to decorate my shelves. Also, since I’ve lived here for a few months (hard to believe), I can figure out how to use my space more effectively.

Evaluate your space. Switch things up – spend twenty minutes putting up a new pictures or posters. It’ll freshen up your space with no cost to you. Oh, and make your bed. Every day. It’s much more relaxing to LOOK at a made bed – and even better to sleep in one.

I am also going to try to institute a computer-free area. I love having wireless, but I’m much happier if Mildred doesn’t tempt me away from my reading or fiber time.

4. Nurture a living thing.

I am a much happier person when I’m giving part of myself to something else. Whether it’s a plant or an animal or another person. I have a plant that my sister gave me sophomore year, a Christmas cactus, and I live with two dogs. In addition, I’m an adopted “aunt” to my friend’s dog and I let her out a few times a week.

5. Give of yourself.

Find an hour or two of your week and volunteer, whether it’s with Girl Scouts (I’ve got a Daisy troop!) or shelving books at the library or just doing paperwork at your local Good Will. It doesn’t take a lot of time to give back to your community. In giving of yourself, you are most yourself.

6. Find something you really love.

Identify that thing that you really love (riding, spinning, whatever it is), and make it happen. Schedule a time every day or a few times a week to do something you love, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Use the time to come back to yourself.

7. Take the time to look nice. Every day.

Now, I’m not talking about wearing your prom dress or a business suit. But wear a clean t-shirt. Wear fun socks. Add a scarf. Once in awhile, shake it up. When you’re going to have a paper-reading day (or it’s lab meeting day), wear that blouse you love but never get to wear. Carry a cute bag. Everyone feels better when they look better.

For the gym (yes, the gym!), go to Good Will and find some funky colored t-shirts that are way too big and cut and tie them – fun color and design that’s cooler than just a regular t-shirt.

8. Treat yourself.

Paint your toenails. Create a new bag. Find some new fiber to spin up. Watch a favorite movie. Buy yourself some flowers. Do something once a week just because. It’s a time to re-fresh.

Happy Spring! We’ll see if I can keep all these up into the summer.

April 18, 2009


I was reading some of the archives of one of my friends’ fabulous blog and discovered post where she wrote a letter to her 12-year-old self. Got me thinking. I know I wrote a letter to myself to be read at the ripe old age of 18 when I was 10, but I’ve never thought of going in the opposite direction.

When I was 12 I thought I’d change the world. I was your standard goody-two-shoes student and my greatest ambition was to get a good education. I guess I thought subconsciously that I’d do something great early on. I wanted to write a novel, that’s still on my list. I wanted to go to NC State and be a vet, so that’s one of the two done. I took for granted that I’d have lots of interesting friends and a significant other by the time I was 22. I certainly have a few interesting and close friends, but no significant other. I thought I’d have a good job and have figured this whole ‘life’ thing out, I figured I’d be grown-up.

I think that my 12 year old self would be disappointed in me. I was supposed to be doing “cool” things when I was 22, not looking at another five or six years of school to do something that I’m pretty convinced that I want to do….but then again, five years ago, I wanted to go into business. Ha. 22 seemed so old when I was 12. 22 meant I was an adult, that my character had been settled on, that I’d know what I was doing in life.

I would want my 12 year old self to know that life is sometimes scary, but it’s been totally worth it when I’ve pushed my limits. I’d want her to know that it’s normal to question everything and that for a lot of the questions, she’ll have mentors to help her work them out. (And that a lot of them may never be worked out, and that’s ok, too.) I would want her to know that she’ll grow ‘younger’ and more mature in college, learn to have fun and not worry so much, become more capable and more spontaneous. I’d want her to learn that sooner, to remind her 22 year old self to stop taking the safe roads.

I guess I can still make a difference, I don’t know. I’m hoping I’ll figure out what I want to do in life soonish. I feel better with a plan. I have in my head what I want to do, sort of, but I’m not sure how to get there. But then, 32 seems a long way away, much like 22 did when I was 12. A lot can happen in 10 years.

April 11, 2009

A few thoughts on weaving.

It’s Holy Saturday, so I figured I’d post about weaving. What does weaving have to do with Holy Week and Easter? Well, I didn’t make the connection until last night when I was at church for Good Friday.

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took His tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in once piece from the top down. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be.'”

During the homily, Fr. O’Hara mentioned that what he was most fascinated with as a young person in this gospel was the everyday details that are included, from what the soldiers carried to the garden, to what type of fire Peter stood by to stay warm, to the quality of Jesus’ clothing. “Mary was a really good weaver,” Father said, “to make a garment seamless and strong, especially something that would have been worn so hard as a tunic.”

I like knowing that Mary was a skilled weaver, though if you think about it, she would have had to have been in that time. To think about Mary the Mother of God spinning and weaving to clothe her family, probably going to the equivalent of our ‘Stitch ‘n’ Bitch’ or quilting bees. She must have had a favorite spindle and little tricks for drafting. She definitely must have had tricks for keeping her weaving even and strong.

I did a little bit of online research, and (of course), I’m not the first person to have thought a bit about this. According to one blog, the Eastern Orthodox tradition generally depicts Mary spinning at the time of the annunciation, rather than reading like we most often see in the Western European tradition. She is usually shown spinning a red thread that would later be used to weave the veil of the temple.

Separate from the Annunciation and spinning, the Virgin Mary is often depicted weaving in The Book of Hours, essentially a lay-person’s breviary or Divine Office. The Book of Hours is an illuminated manuscript, or one with decorated letters, borders, and miniatures. It is interesting that these miniatures show Mary doing essential household chores, doing the work to care for her household.

It makes you wonder why most images of Mary depict her either holding baby Jesus or at the base of the cross. She was a busy woman, with friends and responsibilities. She had to learn to spin and weave as a child and probably started off with pretty lumpy-looking, uneven yarn, weaving it into stretched and uneven cloth. She had to go through all the growing pains and frustrations that we do – all while caring for the Son of God. Talk about responsibility. And through that all, she still was a superb craftswoman, clothing her son in a beautifully woven tunic.

April 5, 2009

a good reason that Maine winters are long

Fibers of yarn…

I finished my hat last night and wore it to church this morning. So far I’ve only found one mistake, but I’ve decided that I subconsciously put it there on purpose (for the evil spirits to come out, a custom I learned about in the fifth grade when I was learning about Australian aborigines).

I can’t believe that I didn’t discover cables before now – they’re so easy. The hat is a wee bit too long, but it cuffs up pretty nicely, so it works. A big plus is that it covers my ears, a must when it’s cold out, especially since I don’t like ear muffs.

I was worried about running out of yarn, but I must have had more than I realized because I have quite a bit leftover. Maybe I’ll make something else, we’ll see.

and fibers of life…

I’ve (finally) decided on a grad school! Mum and I had a long talk today trying to talk things out. I’ve chosen Washington University in St. Louis – I think it has much more of the atmosphere I’m looking for and a greater variety of research. I’m a little bit overwhelmed with it all at the moment, but I’m excited, too. It’s really happening!

April 4, 2009

Mad as a hatter

My first project, start to finish–a hat! When it comes to that, it’s one of the only projects I’ve ever finished at all. You can find the pattern here.

It’s cabled (another first) and a little bit too long, but now I know. It’s long enough to go down over my ears (a must for me), and it’s fine to cuff up. Another plus? I’ve got quite a bit of yarn left…whoops.

Pictures tomorrow.

April 3, 2009

The wheel’s been a spinnin’!

Well, I’ve not kept up with this as I ought to have, but life’s gotten in the way.

I spun up another bobbin-worth of my standard gray heather and ended up plying it, finishing it all up during Too Cute Tuesday (see the blog that started it all: I ended up with a skein worthy of knitting and a few people to ooh and ahh over it.

I’ve finally gotten so I’m pretty good at keeping even tension and twist. Next? Getting the final weight to be what I want. I think this time, I was shooting for worsted, but I didn’t make the singles thin enough.

I’m trying to sort out what to knit with it. I want it to be something I’ll use, either wear or have about. My mum found a great website – I’m enjoying looking at my yarn and imagining what it will be. In the meantime, I may have found a sweater I want to try. Anyone who knows me (and my problem with UFOs) must be surprised. A conversation at work with one of our postdocs made me start thinking – maybe I just get bored too quickly and need a more complicated pattern.Last night, I decided that I needed some spinning therapy. Ghandi believed the deepest state of spinning was a state of zen, and I think he had a point (like he did about so many things). I decided to spin up the wool I dyed green a few weeks ago. I like it much better all spun up than in the fiber – it has lovely tones of grey you can’t really see in the pictures. On that note, I need to work on taking much better pictures. I guess that some pictures are better than no pictures.

The whole bunch of it (and it was quite a bit of a bunch – you can see the dyed roving in an earlier post) was spun up in about an hour and a half. It’s about lace weight now so now for the big decision: do I keep it at lace weight or ply it with some lace-weight gray?

Now that I look at these pictures, some of them are pretty good, nice and “arty.” One of these days I’ll get good functional pictures, too!

Tomorrow or the next day I’m going to be going on a fiber-slurge. I think I’m going to try some dyed wool from a different type of sheep and probably some vegetable fiber, bamboo or soy. I would desparately like a new bobbin for my wheel. It’s getting old to wind off the single to ply anything or work on another project. I’d also like a niddy noddy so I really know how much yarn I’ve got. We’ll see.