Category Archives: yoga

Here’s, like, a million pictures of my bookshelf.

Last weekend we rearranged some bookshelves to try to get the apartment into a configuration that makes more sense. We have book storage needs in just about every room and, while in theory we have enough shelf space for all our books, we haven’t always managed to get everything in a place that allows us to take advantage of that. I did a similar rearrangement last year with tables and I’ve been most pleased with the results; bookshelves were the next part of the plan. I didn’t see how we could do it without buying something new, but Dan came up with the perfect solution:

  1. Purge the bedroom bookshelves of stuff we don’t need/want anymore to free up space for the expensive books we keep in the spare room. This would not only free up a shelf in the spare room but achieve the goal we were aiming for by putting the spendy stuff in the spare room in the first place, which was to keep it away from the cat. (We used to not let her in the spare room without supervision, but we’ve relaxed those rules since my allergies forced us to ban her from the bedroom and we felt bad about closing off so much of the apartment to her).
  2. Move the expensive books from the spare room into the bedroom, then move the spare room shelf to the living room.
  3. Move the living room shelf to the kitchen. Wanting that shelf in the kitchen was the desire that started this whole thing for me. The living room shelf was sturdy enough to hold the stereo but the sides were open and we didn’t have bookends good enough to hold up all my knitting and crochet books. Things got messy very quickly in the vicinity of that shelf. But the top shelf had sides and would hold my cookbooks quite nicely while the other shelves held overflow from the cabinets and this would make a decent placeholder until I get the Hutch of My Dreams. The shelf moving into the living room, being not only sturdier but much larger, would mean no worries about my glossy, well-illustrated  hardcovers.
  4. Move the tiny, flimsy kitchen shelf into the spare room where there were now hardly any books it would need to deal with.

So, that was last Sunday. I was mostly happy with how everything looked when we set it all up but I wasn’t totally sure about the new-to-the-living room shelf. It’s one of those $25 Wal-Mart deals with the segmented cardboard backing. I’ve owned a lot of these in my time. This one was a holdover from an old life where if I got bored with a thing I painted it. The cardboard back had a still-life on it. A copy from someone famous, can’t remember who, not badly done considering, but just not doin’ it for me anymore. I haven’t been thrilled with it while it’s been in the spare room, but it was easy to ignore in there. After having been face to face with it for the last week, though, by yesterday I was certain it would no longer suffice. Something had to be done. Something involving lots of steps and the iron and the glue gun and one of those segmented razor blade clicky knife thingies.  A project. A proper project, one that could be counted in episodes of Farscape, which is my preferred measurement of time.

I decided to cover the back in fabric. Dan was pulled in to assist. The supplies were gathered. The Wii remote was kept close at hand. And it began.

First we made the living room look like this:

(And one of us narrowly avoided some broken toes; if you’re tipping one of these contraptions forward, folks, please remember that 3 of the shelves slide right out without you even having to ask.)

Then I pulled out all 11 million tacks that were holding the back on. Most of them were happy enough to come out of the particle board but damn stubborn about coming out of the cardboard. For what reason, I have no idea; particle board is stronger than cardboard, yes?

I took my fabric (one of the few pieces I hung onto when I got rid of all my sewing supplies a few years ago; I knew I might want it for something some day and plus it’s purple), laid the backing on top, and cut the fabric closer to size, giving myself a pretty generous allowance.

I ironed the fabric as well as I could, then me and a bottle of Elmer’s had us a time.

While I wasn’t worrying too much about the private side of things here, I’m still pretty impressed with how neat I kept the edges.

Since this shelf is so much bigger than the one we had here before, I wanted to plan for it to hold more than the old one. It would need to hold the stereo, which we already knew it did perfectly from previous apartments with fewer bookshelf options, and it would need to hold all my yoga and knitting books. I also wanted it to hold yoga and knitting accessories. Finally, I had a sneaking suspicion that the very top would be a nice place to store Dan’s laminated Heroclix maps if only I could manage a way to keep them from rolling off.

Well, when pulling it apart we had rediscovered that this particular shelf had 2 cardboard backings on it because between the 2 of us Dan and I moved 9 times in the 2.5 or so years before we moved in together and that leads to a lot of excess and duplication. The standard-issue backing was the one getting upholstered, which left the still-life for hacking away at. And the factory-scored fold lines made what I had in mind so, so easy.

I cut a section of the spare backing down to a rectangle 4 inches deep on either side of the fold line and just wide enough to sit across the top of the shelf. I covered this in fabric just as I had the backing, then cut some right triangles out of the rest of the backing for support.

I folded the long piece to a 90° angle, Elmer’sed the triangles into place, tied some kitchen cotton around the whole thing to keep it sturdy, then reinforced the hell outta my triangles with the glue gun. (FYI, I set it to the “super hot and constantly dripping molten glue on everything nearby dear god help us aaaaaaaggggghhhhh” setting because I’m fearless like that. Also because apparently I like going around the house all afternoon picking dried glue stalagmites off of everything and certainly ruining whatever article of clothing I decide to iron next.)

Then Dan was called in again to display his exceptional reaching skills and he secured the little fence I’d made to the top of the shelf. Moving so quickly I barely managed to capture it, I might add.

He weighted down the fencey bit, set up the stereo, and then it was time for a little break. We’d made some progress but there was still a long way to go as far as living room tidiness was concerned.

I managed to get most of that taken care of last night, but I had to make 1 more push (and watch 1 more episode of Farscape – the finale, in fact) this morning before I could really call the whole thing done.

Done.

(As you may notice, by this time I had moved on to The Commander and, if you haven’t seen it, let me take this opportunity to say, “SKIIIIIIIIIIP IIIIIIIIIIIIT.” For serious. Maybe if they fit the same amount of plot into 2/3 the amount of time and/or if any of the actors had any chemistry whatsoever among any combination of them it would be worth a watch.)

And there you have it: 3 pieces of furniture ready to fulfill their purposes more fully than before, $0 spent, 6 episodes of Farscape and 1 exceptionally tidy living room.

Next stop: the spare room. ‘Cause you don’t even wanna see what still needs to be done in there.

On Yoga, And Weekends Off

Yesterday was my second Sunday in a row without a class to teach.

My personal liability insurance was up September 1 and I didn’t have the money to renew this year, so last month I had to tell the studio owner I couldn’t teach for the time being. I was sad about it – I’ve only been teaching a year and I was still learning how to be a teacher and enjoying that process – but I realized it had been a long time since I’d truly had a weekend off, so I thought overall it might be a good decision for me.

I started teacher training in September of 2008. The training ran one weekend a month for 10 months, but there was a lot of work to do on my own at home, whether reading or simply practicing. As soon as I was out of teacher training I started subbing at the studio where I studied, then after 2 or 3 months I had a regular teaching spot. I’ve taught Friday evenings after my day job and Sunday mornings since then. Teaching early on Sunday wipes me out, and knowing I’ll be wiped out on Sunday motivates me to get everything I sill need to get done for the week done on Saturday. Then there’s no time for me. No time for a bath and a book. So, while I’ve had a weekend here and there due to illness or a holiday, it’s been about 2 years since I’ve had the expectation that a weekend would be 2 days for me to relax and do nothing, or do whatever.

Like napping at 2 p. m. because, hey, I was near the bed and figured, why not? Like sitting on my ass and doing nothing but knit for an entire day. Like having only coffee for breakfast, no food, because I don’t need to go anywhere and therefore don’t really need to keep my strength up.

And you know what happens when I do these things? I get restless and cranky and feel like I should be doing more. I get mad at myself and I end up doing laundry in an attempt to justify my own existence. So, I think I’ve proven my point. I need to take weekends off, because I do not know how to relax and take care of myself. This is becoming a theme in my life, if not quite yet an issue, and it’s best I take care of it now.

So, here’s what I’m doing, now that I’m not teaching yoga anymore: I’m teaching myself yoga. I have a short list of favorite poses that I hit every night while dinner’s cooking. Core, upper body strength, hip openers: The things I need and the things I love the most. Then, before sleep, I’m giving myself 10 good minutes at least in Legs Up The Wall with an ice pack on my head (helps ward off the migraines, I’ve found) and the lights off and my favorite blue blanket keeping me warm. And on the nights I can’t get to one or the other of these, or the nights I just don’t feel like it, I’m reminding myself of what my teacher told me once during training when I said I’d been too stressed and distracted the previous month to do anything but watch TV and go to bed most nights, when I felt I should have been practicing instead: Sometimes a glass of wine and your Seinfeld dvds can be your yoga practice. I don’t subscribe to the spiritual aspects of yoga, but I’m all over the parts that tell you to honor yourself and take care of your own body and boundaries. I was very good at reminding my students of that. My problem, what I’m trying to fix here, is that I’m a terrible student.

The Week Ahead

This has the makings of an awesome week. A day off to start with (I got in some Farscape, yoga and a tasty, healthy dinner, too). Some time set aside for knitting with friends (hoping everyone’s around for my usual Barnes & Noble meet-up, but anyway I get to make a new knitter on Wednesday and I can’t wait!). 5th anniversary with the man. And I’m on track to finish 2 big projects this week.

The Giant-Size Man-Sweater was here yesterday:

My first experiment with steam-blocking.

My first experiment with steam-blocking.

Yesterday was spent finishing the buttonhole band and seaming. I hadn’t seamed a piece of knitting since my first hat, and I probably could’ve picked something easier than stockinette-to-garter for my first big try at seaming. Too late now. I originally planned to use embroidery thread because this yarn is so thick, but even though the color was a perfect match the thread showed through too much and I was not happy. Going with the same yarn made the seam less obvious. After seaming, this got a good long soak (10 of them, actually; that dye bleeds) and is relaxing on the living room floor for a day or two. Just need to knit one more pocket, figure out exactly where they should go once the sweater is blocked, and sew on the buttons! The sleeves grew about 3 inches while soaking, but that turns out to be the perfect length for Dan. He looks so damned handsome in this thing, I just can’t even tell you.

The stripey Jaywalkers are coming out just like I hoped they would.

Stripey Jaywalkers

These are for a trade on Ravelry – I’m knitting these socks out of someone’s sock minis in exchange for a whole batch of sock minis to keep. I have to say, 2-at-a-time magic loop with about 15 or so stripes on each sock – so, 60 ends dangling from these by the time I’m done? By far the fiddliest thing I’ve ever knit. I’m trying to go back and weave in a few ends for every stripe I finish so it won’t be too overwhelming when they’re done and I’m confronted with all of them. But it’s worth it, because the stripes match perfectly, which I couldn’t have done making them separately, and I’m getting to play with some yarns I’ve never even touched before. There’s some tosh sock, Shibuiknits Sock, and some Wollmeise in there. Beautiful colors in all of them. I think the tosh sock is my favorite.

The baby sweaters have been shifted to a slightly different schedule than I originally planned for. The one I wanted to finish by the beginning of September so it would be ready for a mid-September due date still wasn’t finished by the time the mother went on maternity leave 3 weeks early. It’s a wool sweater I was thinking would be needed this winter, anyway, so this is less urgent now that there’s no longer much point in trying to get it done before the baby arrives. The other sweater I was hoping to finish by the end of September for a mid-October due date, not realizing the baby shower would be held September 1. So, really, that one’s still on its original track, but I did feel kind of silly at the shower saying, “And I’m planning on knitting you the cutest things!” At least the mother likes to squeeze yarn, so I could show her a skein of CotLin and she could ooh over it.

Being just ohsoclose to done with Dan’s sweater has opened up some other knitting time, so I’ve started my September socks – and knit 4 whole rows so far! I had planned to use this yarn to design my own pattern, but the swatch alone threatened to take the entire month and when I thought about it some more I realized I was less attached to the idea of my own design than I was to just cranking out another finished pair, especially with cooler weather coming. So, I gave up the design idea (for now) and decided to go with a plain old stockinette-with-ribbed-top deal, but I’m going top-down so I can try a heel flap experiment I’ve been thinking about. That way I still get a quick-fix project and meet my goal of one pair this month but still get to feel like I tried something new.

Since the plain old top-downs should be a quick knit, I’m planning to start the October socks early, because they’re going to be knee socks and I just don’t think I could knit a pair of knee socks in a month. My birthday present this year was my very first Socks That Rock (aside from the minis I’ve gotten to use in the Life-Long Blanket):

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

These are mill ends obtained through a Ravelry sale. They looked just slightly different in the skein, but in cakes one skein is clearly much darker than the other. And you know what? I don’t care. They’re both gorgeous. I will have fraternal twin socks (why? why do I have to have fraternal socks? couldn’t I have sororal twins instead?) and I will love them.

I’ve enjoyed setting the pair/month goal for myself this year. I haven’t made the deadline every month, but I have had a pair to work on each month, almost all of them finished eventually (still working on July). I’ve turned a decent amount of my sock yarn into socks, which is what it was intended for in the first place, and in turn made more space in the sock yarn drawers for more sock yarn. So, all around, this is a success! I’m already thinking about next year’s goal. I’m thinking a sweater, shawl, or other suitably big project every 2 months. Get through some of that laceweight I’ve been buying just to fondle.

Long Weekend? Long Weekend!

I’ve taken a long weekend for Dan’s birthday and for mine every year since I’ve been at a job that gives me paid time off (cranky as I get at my current job, I still don’t miss you, Barnes & Noble). I’ve never been huge into birthday celebrations, but it’s a convenient excuse for a long weekend, one that nobody questions, and our birthdays are nicely spaced within the year.

My long birthday weekend begins today at 4:31 and, let me tell you, I could not be more excited. I’ve been in a stress/red wine/migraine/crankiness/crying cycle lately. I’m not huge into those, either. A lot of that is just because I haven’t been taking care of myself very well. So, I plan for this weekend to be a little kick-start – cook some healthy food, do yoga every day, sleep until I wake up instead of until I just can’t stand the snooze button anymore. Sunday I’ll finish off my long weekend teaching my last yoga class until at least the Spring and with a little meet-up with some friends.

Today seems like the perfect day to start a long weekend. It’s gray and rainy. I hope it’s chilly when I get outside. This is actually just the kind of weather that makes me happy.

More later about why Sunday is my last yoga class for now and why I’m feeling pretty all right about that.

Prep Work

My weekend activities typically amount to yoga, eating, knitting, & little more. This weekend, though I did not have a yoga class to teach & spent most of my time preparing to eat & knit, rather than actually eating & knitting.

I recently redid our budget & realized that if we spend what I think we should spend on groceries instead of what we actually do spend on groceries, there might just be a small savings account in our future. This is a big, huge, wild kind of deal. Money’s been tight for a while. So the prospect of  a bit of savings – even a very tiny weensy little bit – is a great motivator. (It’s not just groceries, of course. We’ll also be cutting back our fun money, meaning fewer skeins of yarn & action figures, but – tho’ it sounds like heresy even to my own ears – that expense is a hell of a lot easier to cut back on than food.) It means changing how we eat a little, but that just means reverting back to the way I used to eat. It’s all about buying big, cooking big, & preserving as much as possible; the next few weeks will be about trying to find that rhythm again.

This weekend I made 2 quarts of marinara sauce, chopped & froze 5 lbs of onions, roasted a chicken, & made 2 liters of chicken broth with all the leftover bits, bones, peels, stems, etc. The fridge & freezer aren’t quite well stocked enough to keep us going for too long, but I’m thinking about small steps. Only as much big cooking as I can do on a Saturday & a Sunday afternoon each week. In a month or so I should have things pretty well under control – & maybe just a squeensy bit in savings, if my math is right.

On the preparing to knit front, there was a goodly bit of winding to be done. I can almost see that there might be an end to the second skein of Cascade Eco+ for Dan’s sweater (can I tell you how much I love the idea of knitting a big big sweater for my oh-so-tall husband with just 3 skeins of yarn? ’cause, for serious, I hate weaving in ends), so I got out the swift & ball winder to get the last skein ready. The thing about this yarn (or, I suppose more accurately, the thing about my ball winder) is that it’s way more than my ball winder can handle. So, about a third to half of the skein gets wound up all nice & neat into a little yarn cake, then the rest I have to wind by hand. Once I was in the winding by hand groove again, I got the giantest skein of yarn known to Randi on the swift:

Might not look that big. Just trust me on this one.

Might not look that big. Just trust me on this one.

That’s some Cherry Tree Hill Oceania right there, & my, but this is just a great deal of yarn. 1440 yds. This is going to live on the swift for now & I’ve enlisted the husband’s help to get it wound. No way the ballwinder will handle this, so I’m winding it around a paper towel tube. I almost can’t see the tube anymore & honestly I don’t see even a dent being made on the swift. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this ball to knit with it  (handle this ball!). I’ll need to fashion some sort of stand.

So, not much visible progress on my projects, but take a look in my freezer & on my coffee table, & things are clearly getting done.

My Summer Of Randilates Begins!

I spent most of mid-week sick and it was not terribly fun. Went home early from work on Wednesday with a migraine. Many hot baths and early bedtimes ensued. But I was well enough for a little yarn store road trip today!  Scored one of the last few skeins of Oceania they had – this is going to be a squishy, nubbly, triangley sort of wrap to keep me warm at work – and some Supersock Select in the Birches colorway I’d been craving for a while.

The spinning progresses:

First singles

First singles (with ergonomic keyboard, Jim Baktus).

 

First 2-ply (with toes, socks, sweatshirt).

First 2-ply (with toes, socks, sweatshirt).

 

I think I’m getting the hang of it:

Latest singles (with Jawalker, MODOK).

 

This is Sereknity Yarn and Fiber superwash BFL top. We’re in love and don’t you tell us that it’s wrong. I have 4 ounces. I split it in half and was planning to spin two separate singles of 2 ounces each, then ply them together. I’m not quite through the first 2 ounces and the singles snapped from the weight of the spindle. I also lost the first big chunk of this because it was just too thick and I had to cut if off. So, I don’t quite know what will happen with this, but my plan is just to continue and see where it takes me.

My spinning is getting much thinner and more even, my spindle flicking technique is getting stronger, and I was drooling over the spinning wheels at the yarn store today. I think I have a new hobby.

In other news, my Friday night yoga class was cancelled a few weeks ago. I’ll miss teaching on Fridays, but I just wasn’t getting enough students to justify keeping the class on the schedule – in fact, the last 2 weeks it was on the schedule, no one even came. The positive side to this is that I now get to take the Friday night Yogalates class. I like Pilates – or any core-focused practice – because it can be very subtle. Yes, sometimes you feel like you’re going to explode while you’re doing it, but more often I feel like I don’t notice what’s being done during the class itself. I really see the benefit the next day, when I can feel the previous day’s class from my hips to my shoulder blades with every move I make. It’s a good reminder of how important the stabilizing work the core muscles do really is.

I’m also going to sub for the Yogalates teacher while she’s away later this summer, so I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to expand my teaching comfort zone. Plus which, I do tend towards “yoga belly” – being so focused on keeping a soft belly for a full, deep breath that I sometimes forget that you need to work on strength for the softness to have its full effect. So, hopefully, by the end of the summer, I’ll have gained some new teaching skills AND be standing a little straighter and breathing a little better.