Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Want, Need, Will

I just spent 3 hours alone with myself in a car yesterday.  Alone with the thoughts in my head and an iPod that only had enough juice in it to last a podcast.  Not a great place to be for one who is clinically depressed.  I suppose, though, it gave me time to sort some shit out.  About what I want, about where I need to be.

I have been spending the past week trying to pull myself together.  I was attempting to gather strength, video-game style.  My weapons were unsheathed and ready to slash those big dark baddies with one elegant button smash.  It never happened though...somehow I just fizzled out. Poof!  Power drain.

What I really thought I could do this week was knit.  I thought I could start a small, simple project.  Something I was sure to finish. I wanted to do it so badly I could taste it.  I rifled through my yarn stash.  I looked at my knitting books.  I dug out magazines and even logged onto ravelry.  I made big plans, in my head so many things were already complete.  Beautiful works of lace, squishy scarves, socks galore, all knit in handspun.

I wanted this.  I wanted it badly.

There seems to be a block that stops me from pulling out those warm and slender bamboo beauties...the thought of actually casting on, of holding yarn in my hands again...for some reason it is so daunting.  I think I want to...I have walked to the vase that holds my needles (bouquet-style) and poised my hand there countless times. Just before my fingers meet the smooth wood I halt, no--I retract--repulsed?  I wonder why, every single time.  I get this odd feeling, as if by unsheathing these weapons I will be starting something I can't stop.  I am the Psyche that chose not to open Pandora's box.

It takes a certain amount of will to release your demons--be it into the world or into a object.  There is a power in creation--I wrote about it before.  The objects that spill out of our heads into tangibility take on memory, an essence of there own.  By taking those needles into my hand again, I am embarking on something that I am not sure I am ready for.

It seems easy-- "just do it!" -- but I simply can't.   I need to, and I should do it.  But I can't.

Allow me to deviate for a minute from all this talk about creation.  Instead, I want to examine the word "will".  I typed the word "will" out a few times before choosing different words.  I suppose the word "will" has such inevitability in it that again it seems like opening a verbal can of worms, and again I find myself a failed Psyche.  "I will one day" or "It will happen" are frightening and resolute phrases.  So much future in that word, so much surety. Two things I fear the most.

This brings me to the German phrase "Ich will".  So much like my native English "will", but oh what a different meaning.  It translates not to future occurrences, but to "I want".  I marvel at the fact that they have the same root.  These two meanings have never been congruent for me personally, and now as my life teeters between moments of sadness and less sadness...I wonder if they ever will be.

Once it was in my grasp and I didn't hesitate.  I opened the lid on that box and what spilled out was light.  It snapped shut all too quickly, however.  Too briefly was that radiant warmth in my life.  I ache for it again.

But what I also want is to knit again. What I want is to feel happiness and contentment.  I want to be free of the mental net I am tangled up in. What I want is to be at ease in my own skin.  I want. I want. I want.

There just needs to be a Will.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Star Without A Name

A Star Without a Name

Seeds feed awhile on ground,
then lift up into the sun.

So you should taste the filtered light
and work your way toward wisdom
with no personal covering.

That's how you came here, like a star
without a name.  
Move across the night sky
with those anonymous lights.

                (Mathnawi III, 1284-1288)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Things That Spin Betzi

Hello, dear Reader. It has been far too long. So much has happened in my life lately I am not sure that I would ever be able to catch you up all in one post. I won't even bother trying. Rest assured, it will trickle down to you bit by bit. Such a gentle stream of facts will never be able to reflect the tempest that has been my life lately, but I don't want to leave you in the dark either. So many of you were not just readers to me, but friends, and I have woefully under-appreciated the solidity that is your presence.

I am re-introducing Betzi Spins to the world, not as a spinning and knitting blog, but as a 'what's up with Betzi' blog. I assumed that when I started writing for this blog again, I would change the name of the blog to something more appropriate, less craft-related, because frankly dear reader, that will no longer be the focus. I hope to eventually provide you with more reviews, tutorials, etc., but for now other things take precedence.  I hope you will all stay with me however, as without you, my readers and friends, a blog is simply a journal.  I have enough private journals.  I am tired of hiding.

Lately I have spent a lot of time with more time with my old friend Music, and spin in a different way.  I have 2 weekly indie music streams, which I will give you more details about later, complete with links, times, how-to's.  Music has become an anchor for me, as it has been so many other times in the course of my life.  One thing is for certain:  regardless of the inconsistancies and fluctuations that may come along, music is always a constant. Music is something I can always land on softly, firmly.

 I spin my proverbial wheels in an attempt to regain all that I lost, including myself.  I have struggled to free myself from whatever it is I am mired in for so long that I have forgotten that the slick surface beneath my wheels has a name.  Perhaps the most prevalent spinning motion comes from those damn internal cogs, however,  the ones that have produced nothing lately but anxiety, fear, and self-criticisms.

Somewhere within me is a restful soul, one that knows what it is to be serene.  I know it is there, it is the normal state of me.  It is the me that lies beneath my persistent depression, the depression that seems to resurface when terrible and traumatic things happen, each time with greater severity.  And something did happen, friends--someone so very dear to me is suffering in a terrible and silent way, and I am unable to do anything to help.  For reasons I can't really divulge right now, I am unable to be at his side, to offer him my presence as comfort.

It isn't just that, though, that landed me in the Behavioral Health urgent care.  It is a culmination of things that have been slowly eroding me, and for years.  As is common for depression, though, there is generally a trigger and this was it.  The sudden disappearance of someone you love who also has a recurrent history of depression is so terrifying.  I am at this moment suffering from mild to severe depression and high anxiety with a sprinkling of codependency.  Not fun, but totally treatable.  And that, dear reader, is where I am:  getting help and support, finding that lost Betzi, attempting to get a foothold on life again.

I want to spin straw into gold.  I think this time, I will be able to.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cuz its just that awesome here...

Its no secret that I love this little town. Be it tranistory or not, it has become our home. The people, the surroundings, they have all become near and dear to us. When you move a lot--always following the job path, as we do--you don't really allow yourself to become part of a community. It is difficult to allow yourself to invest in friendships and to really and truly connect with people.

But being here has changed my mind about that. We were welcomed here with wide open arms, and pulled into the community whether we wanted to be or not. My kids have found the perfect playmates, and even though its no longer summertime they still make time to hang out with their buds. Another great thing about the neighborhood? Movie & Pizza Night at the neighbors' house every Friday night. The kids love it and can't wait for the end of the week to roll around.

Fall has been amazing here, and as it turns out the community doesn't go into hibernation just because there is a chill in the air. In early October our gracious friends and neighbors hosted Blocktoberfest, block party/Oktoberfest all in one. There was awesome food and I met and blabbed with people I regret not knowing sooner!

Of course there were gobs of Halloween activities going on, which we took full advantage of. There was pumpkin painting and carving, crafts, and hot dogs and chili. The kids had an awesome time! The pics to prove it:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

I love Halloween. I love it that kids are a little bolder and adults are more spirited. Heck, I even knit a Bat Shawl. I'm always a proponent of rediscovering your primal self, and Halloween definitely lends itself to impishness and fight-or-flight responsiveness. For one night, people step out of themselves just enough to play pranks and let themselves be just a little bit scared.

How exactly is all of this about knitting, Betzi?

Let's start with the New Year's Day 2009. I made several resolutions, one of which was "teach 10 people to knit or spin". It might seem like a very strange resolution to some, but I firmly believe that even if people don't want to create their own wearables, they should as least know that they can. I love spreading the word about knitting and spinning (as you all know) and prosylatize its benefits probably more than my friends and family can stand. And you never know...maybe they will someday teach someone to knit or spin and further spread the tranquility and joy comes with playing with yarn.

It is this thought that motivates me more than any other.

At any rate, Betzi has been busy teaching people to knit. What started out as one "student" quickly became two--this poor drop-in hardly knew what hit her as she had two needles and some yarn thrust into her hands. As the word spread, two became three. If you count in the 2 people I taught to spin I'm now up to 5. That's halfway to my goal of 10, but ya know what? I'm confident that I will be able to find some more potential yarn junkies knitters by December 31st. There is a whole neighborhood full of people who don't know how to knit!

I'm such a wool pusher...

Here is the budding knitter that started it all. She always brings the most awesome baked goods!

You should know that in lieu of our next knitting lesson, we are all going to the Yarn Store to introduce these ladies to my supplier. I am so excited!

It is such a lovely and peaceful thing to sit around with interesting people and talk, drink tea, eat homemade baked goods, and above all KNIT. There is a quietude that comes with the soft tick-tick-tick of needles in motion, and a distinct feeling of community, even with such a small group. Women and men have been doing this very thing for hundreds of years. It comforts me that even though certain aspects of knitting have changed so much (the materials, the designs, and techniques to name a few) the important things--the fact that knitters still gather to create and learn from one another gives me great comfort.

Well that's it for now from the Blue Bungalow! There is so much going on right now that I hardly have time to blog it all. But blog it I will, and hopefully next week I'll have some new yummy yarn to show you! Take care and keep on keepin' on!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Contest Winner!

...And we have a winner! Thank you everyone for entering! The entries were all fantastic, and I absolutely love the explanations some of you gave. We had over 50 entries between the blog responses, Twitter, and Plurk. Thats a lot of names to ponder! But ponder I did and I have decided that my poor nameless Schacht will now be known as...(drumroll please)


I have always loved the name, and "smart and sexy" as Lisa M put it is exactly how I like my men! ;) Out of all the name suggestions i received it just seemed right. Congrats Lisa! You've just won yourself some handspun, hand-dyed roving, or something knit from 4 oz. of handspun! Please email me your contact info at inkyfingers@gmail.com !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lace Knitters Anonymous

As you all know, I have been tirelessly working on my Cherry Leaf Lace shawl. As with most lace patterns, the beginning is fiddly, cumbersome, and annoyingly difficult. Every time I start a new pattern, I wonder how I will ever get the thing completed. It always seems daunting, but once I have cast on those few first stitches and get a few repeats under my belt, something just clicks.

I have heard at least a thousand times that knitting is the new yoga. I completely disagree with this statement. Knitting can be quite stressful. Anyone who has dropped a double decrease and watch it ladder down 12 rows will know exactly what I'm talking about. Even though dropped lace stitches are reparable, it isn't easy and shouldn't be taken lightly. Fixing that mistake will take hours no matter how you do it.

This is why lace knitters--those shawl-after-shawl kind of lace knitters--can be described as somewhat intense, with addictive personalities. I myself have been known to compare lace to crack from time to time. No, that's not really true: I always compare lace to crack. Many of us can't stand the thought of having a huge, gaping mistake in our lace and will spend hours tinking (thats knit backwards for the uninitiated)what took us even longer to crank out, just to fix some funky deacrease or wrongly-placed yarnover. But that isn't all that reveals our addictive nature: If I have something non-lace on my needles, I'm still thinking about the latest Ann Hanson design, or how long it is going to take me to knit that last border row, or maybe when and if I can ever knit that darn Crown Prince Square Shawl from Estonian Lace (mark my words, one day I will conquer it!). Here it is by the way, gracing the cover of the book:

Look at those nupps! What dimension this shawl has! Anyway, to the topic at hand...

What is it about lace that attracts me so? I love the charts, I love the incredibly thin yarn and tiny needles, I love the changeable repetition that comes with knitting a triangular shawl. I love the rush that comes from knowing that you no longer need that chart. I love that my mind, my eyes, and my fingers can reach such a harmony with one another that they are able to read what I have knit like a book and know what comes next. Working in harmony with one another, they reach a kind of knitting nirvana. This is what I really love about lace knitting. The epiphany that comes with absolute coordination of mind and body.

When I show friends and family my latest shawl-in-progress I always sort of stumble over myself and apologize that it looks so funny. They always kind of look at it and fuss over it politely, unaware that its true essence has yet to be revealed. That's something else that makes me adore lace: the transformative magic of blocking.

I actually hate the process of blocking. It is a two-man job at the very least, and usually I'm so excited that I finished a shawl that I can't wait for hubby to come home and help me pin it out. So I'm left to my own devises, sticking myself with pins huge T-pins and knocking myself in the head repeatedly with blocking wires. Oh, and the measuring and repinning are just vile. I swear sometimes it must look like I'm attempting to play some sort of demented knit version of Twister. In the end, all of that insanity is worth it. Because what you get as a result of all that precise pin placement and lump of holes, nupps, and stockingette is a masterpiece. Here is proof, seen once again in the example that was Kiri:

Kiri as a lumpy, noodle-y mess:
Silk Kiri

Kiri after washing and blocking to within an inch of its friggin life:

Silk Kiri 1

I know that many of you are thinking that the Kiri lace "leaf" and the Cherry "leaf" are similar--if not the same--animal. It is a common misconception that all lace leaves are the same. They are most definitely not. You'll notice in the previous post that there aren't any holes in the Cherry Leaves, just lines created by doing decreases. Here it is again, just as a reminder:
Cherry Leaf Lace Shawl in progress (wow, I'm all about the photo recycling today!)
The yarn over increases that counterbalance those lines are placed at the outer edges of the leaves to form a negative space outline. The opposite is true of Kiri. The yarn overs are placed in the center of the leaves and the decreases form the outline of the leaf. And displayed at the Barbara Walker Knitting Project is the gorgeous "Candlelight Pattern", which utilizes yarnovers both in the center of the leaf and along the outside.

I could probably go on and on about the merits and joys of leaf lace, but I'm sure this is not something everyone would like to hear me expound upon, so I'll just leave it at that.

One more thing I do want to mention about knitting lace: cats love it. I don't know why, but a cat cannot resist laying on a blocked shawl. WendyKnits has photographed her own cat perched haughtily on her delicate work of art many times. My own cat even enjoys the process. He loves batting at the blocking wires as they wiggle their way through the holes. It is a miracle that none of my shawls have suffered damage from this. A good thing, too, because my shawl wouldn't be the only thing suffering damage!

A Few Reminders:

* Please please please remember to enter the contest! We have 8 entries so far on the blog, plus a few on twitter and plurk. You can win either a skein of handspun, a handpainted roving, or something knit from 4 ounces of handspun yarn. All you have to do is name my wheel! See previous post for details.

* Virtual Knit Night is scheduled for next Thursday November 5th at 930 pm and will be air live at Stickam.com. Please remember to friend me before the show airs. It will be a closed session and we'll need to be buds before you can enter the room. You can see my profile and friend me here. Please remember to add something to your friend request that mentions where you heard about the show; I get many requests from users with such charming names like "naughtysecret37592" and "sgtlongdong". If you are hell-bent on using one of these names you will definitely need to identify yourself as a knitter or spinner. Uually these people get an automatic deny!

* I haven't forgotten about posting about my foray into reinactment spinning. I promise to blab about in the next post, when I talk exclusively about spinning and announce the winner of the Name My Wheel contest.

That's all from the sundrenched Blue Bungalow, where the weather has taken a lovely, sunny turn! I hope you are enjoying the same sort of treatment from your skies... Til next time!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Contest: Name that wheel!

Spinners, like boat owners, often christen their wheels the moment they get them. My first wheel, a gorgeous Lendrum, was dubbed "Lucy" right out of the box. I've had my Schacht Matchless for nearly a year now, and it has yet to be named. That's where the contest comes into play.

Here are the details: suggest a name for my wheel! The winner can pick the prize: a skein of handspun, 4 oz. of hand-dyed roving, or something knit from 4 oz of handspun. We'll talk colors, etc. once you are picked. Please no more than 3 entries per person. I will announce the winner in a week--October 24th--so be sure to check back!

Oh, and I should add that I'm pretty sure this wheel is a boy. Here he is:

Edited to add at Ann's request: my wheel's character: One treadle on this guy is really cranky and slips quite a bit. I'm constantly having to put it back into place. It eats up a lot of oil, but if you treat it right it spins like water. I don't use the double drive because it I kind of feel that it doesn't have enough finesse. I much prefer the sensitivity of the single drive/scotch tension combo. And if it helps, it was "born" on 6/13/07!

Commence naming!