Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Joy of Awesome Knitters' Stuff

It is becoming winter on the mountain and as I get excited about skiing for a full season (and working at the resort) I also really relish diving into my knitting projects. I have discovered a yarn I can only find in one shop: Angelika's in downtown Portland (my LYS and the store where I learned to knit!) It is a gorgeous yummy sock yarn that is truly unique in its brilliant color and high end quality:

I have made several scarves out of the dizzying array of glorious colors - and that is what I like most about them, the richness of the colors, the squishiness of the yarn and the fat yardage (well over 400 yds).

Here is my friend Anna, wearing a scarf made of the beautiful "Pot O Gold" colorway. The colorways are brilliant and intense, and the creative mix of colors in a single skein is mind boggling. I gave this to Anna a year ago & she said she gets tons of compliments. Also, the super soft merino is completely itch free. If you love super drenched color, there is no better yarn that I have found. Oh, and it's made right here in the ol USA!

As far as needles go, I am loyal to the ones I started with: the shiny, slick Knitter's Pride:

they are affordable and for someone like me with limited vision, I can see the yarn really well on the reflective surface...the joins are really good, and I only buy this brand.

Because I knit so many hours in a row, my hands get dry from all the fiber: this is the best lotion I have found: it smells delish and feels luxurious on the skin...such a treat all the way from New Zealand! I actually use it on my whole body...

Gosh, I can't wait to start my projects for fall...

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skiing & Knitting, Feb 2013

Random Logorrhea around Skiing and Knitting

I am reading Philip Roth and so glad I discovered him. Of course I'd heard of him all my life but just got around to reading him after a delicious discussion at a ski lodge last year about the "Great American Novel." My friend suggested I read American Pastoral, which I started and could not give much time too as my knitting took up every second that I was not asleep or doing something with my hands. At the one year point of this completely obsessive hobby, I felt that my intellectual self was starved so I started buying the New Yorker and started reading again. It took me a while to catch on fire with the book, but when I did I could not put it down. I started reading it on a knitting cruise in Norway, and put it down to knit & hike. When my neighbor on the ship said she'd finished her book I loaned her AP and she didn't come out of her room for several days except for meals and one port stop. She said it was amazing, gave it back to me after downloading it on her kindle, and then checked with me with the last sentence was as she couldn't believe that was the ending, so I got my paper copy and checked it...didn't pick up the book again until I was at a painting workshop in Taos and then started skipping my painting sessions to hungrily finish the was one of those you didn't want to end, and when I finished it I gave it to my mother and am now reading the Human Stain - wow!

When I got on skis for the first time in 2007 I was as unnatural at it as a person could be. I was really bad - just awful. But something happened in the middle of that trying ski week: I entered a world that was previously completely unknown to me - the world of learning and mastering a challenging sport. I had never played sports as a child, but yearned to be athletic and be a part of a "team", but there were no opportunities for that. I probably would have never even tried skiing except that I fell for a ski bum in 2005 and to humor him took a snowboarding lesson (March 2006) because it looked so much cooler than skiing. I was as bad as it as one could imagine. The instructor shaking his head in disbelief. I didn't make it the whole day, I quit at noon a teary, trembling mess with a broken tailbone. With relief I put snow sports off the table and just decided that hanging out at the condo and getting massages at the ski town would be my role. But during my next deployment I had plenty of time in my boring data entry job to think about how I'd spend my off ice time. I googled and found a ski week in Taos and got excited. If I had a whole WEEK of lessons I might get through the misery part.

Driving up to Taos Ski Valley in March of 2007. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw the mountain. Who was I kidding - I was just doing this for some one's approval and it was costing me a fortune. This ski week for "never evers" included lodging, lessons, equipment, meals. I just had to pay my big bucks and go to my lesson every day. The lessons were morning and afternoon for 6 days. There were about 6 people in my class, and I was by far the most clueless....I fell constantly and was sweating like mad under the boiling sun. The younger people in the class moved on up to the bunny hill and I was not ready by day two. I don't even think I went up on day three. I saw my classmates going up the big lift, coming down the mountain in turns, no longer wedging. I've blogged ad naseum about it before but I somehow went down that bunny hill for the first time on my fourth or fifth day after standing on top of it filled with so much terror I didn't think I'd ever go down it...nothing in this week had been fun. The nice people at the lodge kept saying "are you having fun!" and I said NO every time. I said I was F*CKING MISERABLE! But that something happened. And it had to do with believe what my instructor was telling me and just doing it anyway. Kind of like when I jumped out of an airplane not wanting to do it but wanting to just have done it...but when I decided to listen to him and ignore the relentless screaming in my head I went down the hill, beautifully and full of suddenly from who know where confidence, and I was beaming and filled with joy and pride. I finally understood why all these people were out here. This was effing fun! And not just fun but filled with positivity and a high priority on personal accomplishment.

Now it is early 2013 and I have been to six ski weeks with no skiing in between until last year, where I get in around 10 days before my ski week because I moved to Oregon, and live about 90 miles from Mt. Hood. I struggled this winter with how I was going to get my skiing in as my ski buddy moved away, and I drove up one day by myself, had  a pretty good time, but wanted to get home before it started snowing too hard. I'd spent some time trying to outfit my car with chains (it can't take them) and then balked at the price of the snow tires, and almost resigned myself to just waiting for my friend to come to town to ski with, as it's always more fun with other people. Then I saw something amazing: a ski bus from my town to the mountain three days a week. I bought a mid-week season pass and pay the $20 walk on fee each time and have now gone up 4 times in two weeks. And I get a little better each time.

Skiing shows me where I am with myself with everything. Everything about this sport is in direct opposition to my programming, and for that reason, it is an excellent thing for me to do for myself and anyone I come into contact with. You cannot feel sorry for yourself and ski. You cannot be preoccupied with something else and ski (at least I can't!). In the four days I've skied at Meadows this month I have seen people who have skied only once or twice EVER skiing at the same level as me. They did not have the fear I had - they are more of a natural at it. Everytime I snap on those skis for the first time my heart is pounding and I am afraid! Afraid of falling while getting off the lift, afraid of not knowing where a run goes, of going to fast and forgetting how to make turns, afraid that I'll never get to do that beautiful fast skiing I see people doing.

I am focusing on skiing right now because I am missing my second deployment in a row to the Ice. Right now I'd be winding up my season, getting ready for offload, being so busy and so fried but having so much intensity in my life that from where I sit now, I would give anything for it. I am basically a shut in in this charming townhouse out in a suburban farm town outside of Portland. I have my knitting and do some rewarding volunteer things and have some trips planned, but I miss the Ice so much I wonder if anyone ever missed it as much as I do. I am still a little bit in shock too - for 7 years I just went and there was no question that the dog had a second home and now he doesn't. He doesn't have a second home so I have to stay with him.  I have thought through every option with him so that I can go back. I hate to say this, as it shows a person I don't want to be, but there is something about this that feels so....unfair. It was like, after 42 years, I was gifted a thing so wondrous beyond anything I could have imagined for myself. Why settle for your wildest dreams when something better could happen. And it did. I think of all the little things I miss...the dorms, walking to hut point every day, a dance every Saturday night...and Sunday brunch..glorious Sunday brunch! I got to have that for 7 years! Seven years and now I can't go. And I haven't fallen in love with Portland or Oregon and am not actually really even totally all here. I am not all here because my soul is there. My heart is there. Every thing I force myself to do here is just that: forcing. Because I don't really want to be doing it. I want to be there. Not here.

The whole missing of Antarctica is has taken on a life of it's own. Or more a shape of it's own. It's like a dark, shrouded thing camping out in my brain, camping out in the corner of my living room (the room I never go into - my dying room) - it is the sad (and I'm sad to say), bitter part of me who felt her joy was yanked away from her. I don't really want to explore the feelings of unfairness or bitterness because I haven't really accepted them yet. I am still trying to get involved in a bunch of activities here in my new home state. But I can tell I'm not going to stay here. I cannot believe how sentimental I am for all of the things that were a part of my old life - things I hated before! Austin, ease of  using Houston as my travel hub/doggy drop, riding my scooter, Texans.

I move here for one reason: weather. And that has been great...but everything else, everything else has been a bust.

Skiing and knitting are the two things keeping me afloat. I am going to Dubai in March. If I'm not getting to be on Ice, then I'm going to chip away at my bucket list.