Work in Progress Wednesday: My Sister’s Cowl or Scarf

My sister just recently had knee surgery and will be at home for the next few weeks.  She’s staying at a place without Internet access.  She told me that she was feeling a bit stir-crazy so I volunteered to teach her how to knit.  She was happy & immediately asked if she could make a “circle scarf”, similar to the one that I had made for her for Christmas one year.  At first, I told her that might not be good for a beginner but then I found a pattern that suggested how I could make the project either a scarf or a cowl at the end.  I figured a project that would be close to what she wants to do would be a project that she would finish.  Finishing a project, no matter how large or small, is so critical when you’re first learning how to knit.

I visited with her the next day and showed her how to knit & purl.  I selected this project because I thought it would be beginner friendly.  It has enough changes to keep a beginner interested, while enforcing knitting foundations: repetitions of the knit & purl stitch.

I’ve found that beginners really just want to get going without much in the way of discouragement, and I remembered how hard it was for me to get past a cast-on and the first initial rows of knitting when I was first learning how to knit. I also figured that someone in a ton of pain from surgery might not want to spend much time fiddling with a cast-on, which is something she would end up forgetting anyway.  She’d have to learn it again for her next project. & there’s plenty of time for that.

To this end, I decided to knit the first repeat of the pattern for her so that she would have something to begin with right away, and so that she could get an idea of what things might end up looking like.  Here it is:

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This made me start thinking more about the therapeutic power that knitting has – I’m sure, if she ends up enjoying knitting, that it will prove to be a fine, productive distraction for her as she recovers from her surgery.

Get the pattern here: Beginner Friendly Cowl or Scarf

Monday Musings: Where the Heck I’ve Been

The month of January didn’t have much for me in the way of knitting.  I was far too busy getting used to a new schedule, starting a new part-time job, and overcoming a trepidation with highways that it didn’t leave much time or inclination for knitting.  February wasn’t looking much better for me. However, I was able to finally finish the cowl last week and was so pleased with myself for doing so.  In the past, I wouldn’t have maintained nearly as much discipline with sticking to one project to completion.

It’s certainly a change from how I used to knit before – come to think of it, I was more of a “competitive” knitter due to my role as a knitting group organizer on Meetup.com.  I felt the need to keep progressing and challenging myself with knitting since I was in a position to teach and promote knitting to other people.  It’s so much more different now that I’m no longer organizing the group.  Now knitting’s more of a joy & a hobby that I can enjoy for the sake of itself.  I didn’t really realize it until after I stopped organizing for the group but it was honestly more of a “job” for me back then.

Monday Musings: Knitting While Traveling

I was away for a couple of weeks in the Philippines.  In my luggage, I had packed enough yarn & supplies to last me for months.  I had this vision in my head of getting ALL OF THE KNITTING finished on the plane trip or during miscellaneous periods and could not bear the thought of being without knitting supplies or yarn.  So I packed skeins upon skeins for a lap blanket I’m working on, and everything that I could for the cowl that I had started in early December.

I figured that I would at least finish with the cowl and get back to working on the feather-and-fan blanket but I was wrong.  I ended up finishing the cowl in terms of rounds listed in the pattern but found that the finished product was not wide enough for my liking.  Since it’s going to be something that I wear, I figured that I’ll keep going with the cowl until I’ve used up most of the yarn.  It’ll be a bit wider but that’s fine.  The project is good but a bit tedious at this point with fingering yarn.

Not sure what it is about traveling that makes me want to pack everything but the kitchen sink at least when it comes to my knitting. For some reason, the thought of going without while away from home… although a pragmatic circumstance that merits acceptance… just fills me with a bit of anxiety.  For those who do not knit but follow this blog: I suppose it would compare to any other hobby or habitual attachment that one might have while at home.  When away from home, the thought is to do what you can to have those comforts with you in a way that makes sense. (In my case, stuffing my luggage with skeins of yarn that I could not POSSIBLY go through in the time period that I was away from home.)

During times like these, I wonder about the merits attached to minimalism: the concept of going without many things.  Over the years, I have gotten a bit better at de-sentimentalizing myself because until very recently, I moved around a LOT.  Moving is a lot easier when you aren’t attached to a ton of your stuff.  There was a certain comfort to letting go of the “stuff” and the lack of attachment to certain things.  This trip has shown me that knitting is an exemption to this concept for me.  I may have a bit more to learn in that area.  Either that… or maybe in the area of overestimating the amount of knitting that I can get done when I’m halfway across the world engaged in family bonding time & settling a parent’s estate.

Happy Monday, all!

Monday Musings: Holiday Celebrations When Your Family Lives Overseas

As both an American & Filipino national, I fall into a category that many of us do:  I don’t have very much family nearby to spend time with for the holidays.  Most of them are overseas and are not easily accessible.

Tree outside of our home. The star decorations are parol, otherwise known as Filipino Christmas lanterns.

This circumstance has led me to think about the nature of holiday celebrations.  For many people in my life, they are a time to do the same thing every year, with the same people.  A time for traditions to happen over and over again.  A time for the same food & drink to be had… in the same location, with the same company.

Christmas in a hot country, where tropical trees meet the poinsettia.

Because many of my relatives live overseas, my perspective is a bit different. It’s nice to have the company and time while we have it. Location & having certain foods doesn’t matter.

I spent this Christmas overseas with relatives that I hadn’t seen in over a decade.  I did this after spending a great deal of money and time (23 hour flight!) to get over there. At that point, they were just happy we showed up at all and spent the time with me and my husband over a meal while the kids opened their presents:

Thinking about these things reminds me what this holiday season is about for me – more about gratitude for just the time that you can have with one another.  We may not have had Christmas cookies, apple pie or other Western holiday traditions that for some people, are incredibly important to have for their celebrations.  We had other things & but more importantly, just each other. After a very eventful 2016, I’m quite thankful for it.
Happy 2017!

Finished Object Friday: Final Paper

If you have a finished object that is written & not fiber crafted, it still counts as a finished object, right?  Either way, I’m making an exception for this object because it’s my last one.  I’m also finishing 2 objects for the price of one: the project itself and my academic career, which is another project.

She is called Death, 38 Pages & Destroyer of Incomes & Lives:

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I’m handing this in today.  It concludes the last leg of a long, arduous journey that started at a state college with a lot of personal and financial struggles, some accomplishments that I’m pretty proud of attaining considering where I started, and ended at the Ivy League.  Since that time, I’ve changed careers several times, got married, bought a home, and am successful.

Here’s where I continue to brag about myself and my self-importance.  Keep reading.
(Ha! No. Don’t worry.  The humility is coming & it’s very, very real.  See below.)

To be quite honest: I shouldn’t be alive right now.  I’m not being over-dramatic or exaggerating for the sake of good hyperbole.  It’s just the truth.  So writing a post like this is just pretty goddamn amazing to me.  The cards that I’ve been dealt in life did not work out in the favor of someone like me having a shot at the Ivy League in any way.

Yeah.  I can’t even believe I just wrote that.

I still have the same mindset that I had when I started out at the school:  “What the hell are you doing here?  People like you don’t go here.  They know you’re faking it.  Just give up.”  In my mind, places like that are for people who have been in America for a long time – who knew the systems.  Who had non-disruptive lives that didn’t involve a lot of moving around, living overseas, or a lot of the dysfunction and hardship that I’ve had in my life.

If anyone told me years ago that I would have even had a shot at doing what I’ve done, I would have laughed in their faces & told them politely to screw off.  In fact, that’s what I did to the first professor that told me to apply there.  I laughed at her suggestion.  I said,”Really? Are you serious? There is no way. My undergraduate transcript looks like it came from a gun range.”

I put in my application on a lark.

When I got called in for an interview, not knowing that they usually offer those to people that they are almost sure about accepting for admission, I thought: Okay, this is it.  I’ll interview & they’ll see how unqualified I am for this place & how much I don’t belong there.  I’ll get this over with & check on those other school applications. Tell Professor _____ I told you so.

The next day, I got a phone call. They told me that they wanted to let me in.

I even managed to not only keep my job while I did it but to also work my way up the ranks.

Now I’m graduating.

Feel free to share your own badass accomplishments with me in the comments below.

See you in 2017.

Monday Musings: On Being Childfree

I’m childfree but only recently became comfortable with advertising it a bit more in a public space.  In fact, I started this blog as a means for me to get comfortable with myself and the concept of being able to publicly admit my childfree status to many people.

I’m not militantly against kids & in fact, strive to be a great aunt, cousin, & sister. I love knitting baby things for people!  I’m the annoying person that the adults make the younger ones look up to – not on purpose or anything, but because I care a lot for the younger ones in my family.  Some of them are in dire need of a good example of a successfully married & working woman.  I strive to be the most authentic & strong person that I can for them.  I encourage them to push as far as they’re willing to go to better their lives.  I consider this my duty to them – and it’s something I could not do nearly as well if I had my own children.  Not to the degree some of them need me to do it.

My reasons for not having children are incredibly personal & painful outside of some of the common benefits others site for not wanting children:  wanting to have more disposable income, more free time, et cetera.  That stuff is nice too.  But ultimately: being childfree is not about what my reasons are – because they should not matter.

Being childfree, ultimately, is about choice.  It’s about choosing to live the life you want to live outside of societal norms or expectations.

It is about supporting my choice and the choices of those who choose to be childfree for the reasons that you don’t agree with… and the reasons you do.

Monday Musings: On New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.  In the past, I’ve failed to keep them.  Furthermore, I felt that they contributed to a cycle that I’ve been very guilty of: committing to a goal of some level of importance and then castigating myself for it when I don’t reach it.

I’ve decided to make 2017 different.  I’ve decided to go back to my elementary school roots and purchase a weekly planner.  In school, I was required to keep a planner in order to keep track of assignments.  I would get a new planner every year.  There was a level of discipline that was required in order to use the planner effectively.  With daily use, the habit became easy and almost effortless.  More importantly: the discipline that was needed to keep up with the planner trickled down to other areas in life.  I’m currently at a point in my life where I need an extra boost of that discipline in order to keep track of the stuff in my life right now. So I’ve decided to make attaining that my resolution for 2017.

In 2017, the only resolution that I intend to make is to use the planner that is currently being shipped to me. We’ll see if I can keep the resolution.

What about you?  Do you believe in making resolutions?