Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I crossed the Nihon Finish Line!

Sorry for the lack of posting! I was busy getting all my homework done!

This past weekend was the final class for our the Nihon Vogue level 1 course. Joni has some good photos of the weekend. Go to her blog and check them out.

Here I am with Jean and my certificate. Do you know how much this certificate means to me? It feels better than when I got my CPA certificate/license! Honestly this course work was much harder than studying for and passing the CPA exam!!

Coming into the weekend I was determined to turn in all 8 projects and have them approved by the end of the weekend. I really longed to have a summer break!

I dedicated many hours in the past two weeks working on my projects. I still had quite a bit of knitting to do. The biggest task was filling out my design notebook. This notebook shows your designs on paper - the design is drawn 1/4 scale and you need to document needle sizes, guage, how many rows to the armhole, how many stitches were cast on, the calculation of armhole and neckline decreases, etc. It took me, on average, 3-4 hours per design to do the documentation. I wish I would have done the design notebook earlier because it helped me find mistakes in my designs. I think I would have carried my learning further into future projects if I had taken the time to do the design notebook as soon as I drew up my designs on the life size patterns.

Honestly I had a moment of panic when I turned in my projects for Jean to review. As I watched her look over my projects(turning them inside and out, looking at details, etc), and at my design notes/calculations I began to sweat. It wasn't workout sweat, it was fear sweat! Here she is checking my work.

Saturday night, Suzanne hosted a celebratory dinner for all students and loved ones. It was a fabulous way to end the year. We all displayed our completed projects around the room. It was amazing to see everyone's designs. This is a talented bunch of artists!

Here is a sampling of my fellow student's work.

Isn't it amazing what we all have produced in the past year?

Saturday night after the celebration dinner I had to go home and continue finishing my projects. The crochet project was a killer. I spent all day Saturday during class and I stayed up till 2am to make as much progress as I could on this crochet project because I knew I still have the front closure on the final project to complete before I could turn in the last two designs. I was determined to make my goal and I did what I had to in order to make sure I came home with my certificate.

In all honesty, the past week was as much work and as stressful and exhausting as actually doing a software upgrade. I'm not kidding you. In 2001 I actually did the work to upgrade the City of Seattle's financial system. Me and another person did around the clock work to get the database upgraded over the span of a week. Like the upgrade, I had this Nihon deadline and I was going to make the deadline come hell or high water! :)

Jean showed me this super cute edging for my final project(picture will come soon - too lazy to photograph it right now). It is just a chain 3, slip stitch crochet edging. So simple and so cute. I think this is the only crochet I will be doing in my future...edgings only!

Man, when Jean signed off on my last two projects I had to just jump up and down and say some loud works of excitement! Boy was I happy!!!

I'd like to take a minute to say a bit about this course. All 15 of us(I saw someone out there on the web term us THE NIHON 15) struggled at the beginning of the course. We were overwhelmed and not sure where Jean was going to take us. Jean has taken us on an amazing journey. She has stretched us, she has encouraged us, she has laughed with us and she has taught us SO much. Jean, you are wonderful!

Anything this hard comes with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. This has been an awesome experience. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity.

I also want to thank Suzanne Pedersen at Madrona Fiber Arts for bringing such incredible teacher's for us to learn from. (I took a 3-day spinning class two weekends ago from Carol H. Rhoades - tech editor of Spin-Off - I will do a post on that soon, I promise). Without Suzanne's commitment to us, we would not be able to continue with year two. You all know I was wavering about continuing on with year 2.

You know what? I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Here is a photo of the Nihon 15(Shiori and Meredith are not photographed). I have so enjoyed the journey with these incredible women. Not only do I learn from Jean, but I learn from these women as well(and it isn't always knitting related!).

I joked with a fellow student that we all need t-shirts that say "I survived Year One of Nihon Vogue". Not only did we survive, we thrived. Isn't that what learning is about? They don't call it growing pains for nothing! We all survived with the help and support of each other. I have established a very special bond with these women.

Bring on Year Two!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Knitters are Athletes

It has been awhile - trying to get a handle on this retirement gig.

As the Beijing Olympics approach I am reminded about how my massage therapist views knitters(besides obsessed!).

I met Mimi Polvino when I took a class titled "Self Care for Knitters" at Hilltop Yarns quite a few years ago. I was taken by her holistic approach to the human body.

She has worked on athletes from Philadelphia Eagle football players to Pacific Norhtwest Ballet dancers and everyone in-between.

She views knitters as athletes because of how we use our bodies - repetitive motion in pursuit of our *sport*. Most of us, when we knit, are endurance athletes. Yes, we all may know that we *should* get up every 15-30 minutes to stretch our bodies but we rarely do so. I know you all do it - marathon knitting!

Greg used to worry about me and my body abuse with my knitting. I used to have bad wrist pain. Being a computer programmer, avid knitter and gardener took its toll on my body.

Since I have been seeing Mimi regularly, I don't have wrist pain anymore.

As I said before, I love her holistic approach. She is fascinated by the human body. One of her hobbies is to learn about anatomy(besides running and staying in incredible physical condition). She is like a sponge when it comes to learning more about biomechanics and how all the pieces of the body work together.

I make once a month appointments(because she is only in Seattle for a few days each month so you have to schedule in advance) with her because there is usually something that crops up by the time the next month rolls around. I went in to see her yesterday with this annoying ankle pain. I have been walking about 4 miles a day and I had to take a number of days off because I felt I needed to baby the darn thing. She evaluated my body and said ok...you have this shoulder thing going on which is affecting your opposite hip which is pulling this on your leg and pulling this in your calf. She worked my various parts, pulled on my ankle and all my body pieces re-aligned and my ankle is happy, once again. Yesterday I had residual soreness but today I worked out and my ankle is happy as a clam.

There are some clients of hers that don't *get* this approach. They say "Oh but 'X' part of my body hurts. Why are you working way over here?". People have to learn there is much more to a productive massage. You have to get to the source!

I am fascinated by this approach. I find it hard to find a massage therapist that can do this. Most figure you come in for relaxation only. Sure I love the relaxation aspect but I love the pain relief as well.

For months, Mimi and her partner discussed moving from Seattle to Bend, Oregon. I was in denial. Then she told me it was firm. The house was up for sale. I was devastated. My first thoughts were "I can't live without you! I have to be able to knit and spin!". I'm a marathoner!

Luckily she comes back to Seattle once a month to maintain her clients here. I am relieved because I know without my bodywork with her, I could not maintain the healthy mechanics of my body. Greg was asking about this expense recently and this is not something I'm willing to give up. I'm an athlete for goodness sakes! :)

Note: Greg was not saying this in any kind of negative way - it was more of just an overall evaluation of our living expenses. We ARE on a fixed income now and must make good decisions - especially the way the stock market is performing!

For all you fellow Knitting Athletes out there, don't forget to take care of your body! Maintenance is the key!

Don't forget to get up a couple times an hour to stretch your body/neck, arms, hands, etc!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Covert Knitting!

Now...for the CONTRABAND KNITTING! (My term for non Nihon Vogue knitting projects while taking the Nihon Vogue certification course)

The word contraband is used more in the illegal trade of goods. Maybe I should term my non-Nihon knitting as Clandestine or Covert Knitting. Maybe Cloak-and-Dagger Knitting?

Whatever you want to call it, you know me. I can't just do Nihon Vogue!

I started a Clapotis. Yes, I know. This was popular years ago and I am just getting to this. I have always wanted to knit one. I guess it is like marriage, I was waiting for just the right yarn. This is Sundara's Blooming Fuschia.

This yarn is was one of Sundara's Season's yarn subscription yarns for the summer season. I wrote to Sundara to tell her if I could have created up a color that was *Naomi*, this was/is it. I love the color and I love the yarn base. It is 50% merino and 50% silk. So yummy and cozy. Perfect for a Clapotis. I'm making it wider than the pattern design(I inquired after the packages were sent out to see if she had additional skeins I could purchase). I just want to be able to wrap myself up in it! In person it is more fuschia than purple-ish. It is hard to capture the complexity of the color in a photo.

At the left part of the photo you can see a bunch of my cute stitch markers made by Amy. Her shop can be found here. She hasn't had a stitch marker sale in awhile(hint, hint Amy!).

Here is a photo showing a bit of the dropped stitches.

A couple weeks ago a couple of my friends and I started a Hemlock Ring . What possessed me to agree to do this with them? 'It isn't homework' seems to be my only criteria these days!

I'm making mine out of Blue Sky Alpaca's Cotton. I really like working with this yarn. It is very soft and perfect for this project.

Here is yet another project. I love the portability of socks. I always have a pair going(gotta have something to knit on at the Mariner games that doesn't take concentration). This is self-striping Vesper Sock yarn - this one is Serendipitous. I'm a sucker for self-striping sock yarn - especially hand dyed ones.

I also knit a square for Ryan - as you may know she is going through a difficult time. Janine is organizing the project to make a blanket for Ryan. She is extending the deadline to make a square to July 10. See Janine's blog for more detail. Here is my square(Ryan knows about it so I won't be spoiling the surprise of what my square looks like - she has already seen it).

I am dying to start a lace project. I remind myself that my final Nihon project is half lace. I am going to cast-on my final project today...which begins with the lace section.

You see? I can say no to myself to NOT start another project. After all, I can get my lace fix with my Nihon homework! A round of applause, please!