Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Year

About a year and a half ago, I started seeing a personal trainer for the first time. She was very nice, but it was hard. It was early in the morning in the winter, so I drove there in the dark and the cold in order to feel weak for half an hour. I persisted for a few months, and then my trainer decided to quit training and become a nanny. (Oddly, nannies get more sleep than trainers.)

I didn't want to lose momentum, so I joined the JCC. It's within walking distance to work, so I decided I could work out right before or after work and thus avoid the siren song of the couch.

I talked to a coworker's partner who works at the J to get trainer recommendations. I called them and they promptly set me up with someone else. (The person recommended wasn't available.) I put on my mental armor and made an appointment.

He was physically intimidating. He looked like a stereotypical trainer. That was scary to me. It had been scary to go to the nice, female trainer who understood when I needed to sit down because things were going a little black around the edges of my vision. I wasn't sure I could work with someone who looked... like that.

But he was kind and encouraging at that first meeting, and as we worked together he continued to be. He is very careful of my back. I have scoliosis, so strengthening my core to avoid back injury is one of my primary goals.

We started out meeting twice a week, but that's not financially feasible for me long term. Now we meet once a week and he writes workouts for me two other times a week. He emails when I don't show on a day he expects to see me in the gym, and that means I rarely skip. I've found that I do really well with that accountability, and I'm grateful for it.

Tomorrow will mark one year since our first appointment. I gave him a thank you card this morning.

He made me do alternating walk up planks and deep lunges. I choose to believe that's his way of saying, "You're welcome."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

HANDSOME: Yeah, You Are

Exciting news! Pamela Wynne's latest genius project, HANDSOME, is now available! As Pamela says, "Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body is an e-book collection of six menswear sweater patterns designed to fit every size, shape, and gender of adult human."

She's not screwing around. I did one of the test knits for this, and there are options. The specific sweater I knit has narrow/average shoulder option, A-line shaping option, and custom-length sleeves with the cute thumb hole. There are also custom calculators so you can make sure you knit yourself a sweater that actually fits well.* She wrote these patterns using real people for measurements, and the lucky devils who modeled are now the owners of sweaters knit specifically for their body.

I knit the pieces for the blue Kale pictured above, and Pamela did the finishing. That fabric was glorious, and it fits the model beautifully. I would wear one of those sweaters in a heartbeat.

Check out the lookbook here. She's running KALs for each sweater and has a Ravelry group for the patterns.

These aren't just for men. Men's knitwear is an underserved market certainly, but these sweaters are good shapes, well-designed, and easily customized so they can fit anyone. We all got lucky here.

I'm thinking gray, but I always think gray.... Wouldn't a gray Kale be lovely? In my head, I'm already curled up with a book in my new sweater.

*I'm going to work hard at not thinking about the sweaters I knit that I don't wear because I don't like how they fit. Spilled milk and all that.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Grandma's Bag

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling plagued by projects I had told myself I wanted to do but had never done. Let's pause a moment and recognize what a gift it is that I have a life that can be plagued by my hobbies instead of real problems.


So, I emailed some smart friends about it. Lynn asked if maybe I was just tired of making things and needed a break. I sat with that for awhile and decided that I just hadn't been in the mood to do new things. A tenth pair of diagonal rib socks? Yes. A project that I couldn't do while zoned out on the couch? No.

Mysteriously, that was what it took to get unstuck. 

I don't remember my grandma knitting, but she did it a lot before she had Parkinson's. Parkinson's is terrible. 

Grandma's old knitting bag had sat in a garage for years. It was badly, badly torn and frayed, held together in places with safety pins, was disgustingly dirty, and contained some dubious black things that made me shudder. I cut the material off the wooden frame and washed it. It was worth the risk of it falling completely apart in the wash. There was no way I was using it for a template as it was.

Once clean, it sat and stared at me judgmentally for months.

I was off yesterday, and I spent it at home working on one of the bag. It started with a list and some math.

I had already purchased and washed the material I wanted to use for the project, a canvas for the outside and a satin for the inside. In addition to the bottom of the bag, there's another flap that goes under the wooden frame to hold it in place. Since that and the long seams on both sides that go over the handles had to be done with the frame in place, there was a lot of handsewing. 

I tried to be Zen about it. I only sort of succeeded.

I measured my notion bag and made a pocket for it in the lining. It's possible that pocket is wrong side out, but I'm sticking to the story that it depends on your perspective. My perspective says it's fine.

Seven hours, a bobbin refill, a bent sewing machine needle, far more handsewing than I anticipated, only one shouted outburst of, "FOR FUCK'S SAKE," and it was finished.

I learned some things, certainly. I would have done the lining differently if I had it to do over, but thank God I don't have to do it over. No 4-H judges will ever look at it, and it doesn't matter that there are some wonky areas. I'm pleased with it, and I'm thrilled to be able to use something that was grandma's for a hobby we share.

Last night I loaded it with a mostly finished hat that just needs a pompom, a matching, long, worsted weight cowl in progress and the 6 balls of yarn the cowl requires. It all fit, which makes me think this might be related to Mary Poppins' carpet bag. 

Thanks, Grandma. I'll think of you whenever I use it, which will be a lot.