Treat and Retreat
[If you're here for the knitting, feel free to scroll way down.]
Thank you, everyone, for the lovely birthday wishes.
I got through it just fine -- and I mean that in only the nicest way. While some people have really come down on me for saying this, for me, 45 is about the exact midpoint of my life (I hope). I come from a line of mightily long-lived people, and if nothing untoward happens, I will probably be about 90 before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
And that had me well and truly freaked out. I mean, halfway, right? Aaaaaiiiiieee! Halfway? I want more time!! I want more life!! Why did I go to graduate school? Why on earth did I drop out of not one, but two PhD programs? How can I instantly be a perfect parent and wife?! What is wrong with me!!!
So I was making Eric really happy, as you can imagine. For my birthday, he gave me me. Off for a retreat, all by myself, just to think and knit and spin. In quiet.
I drove to a yoga retreat center, and checked in. I looked for my parking place -- I was camping in the van -- and drove past the first one on the map, thinking, "That can't be it -- it's a gravel lot next to a building" The next one? A gravel lot next to the fire house. Finally I found a gravel lot, but away from the activity centers of the buildings. Unfortunately for me, it was a tiny bit tilted. Undaunted, I got out my spinning wheel and prepared to enjoy my peaceful solitude.
Then came the bulldozers. Two of them. Back and forth, up and down, right through and past my gravel lot. Grrrrrmmmmmm, zooooooooom, grrrmmmmmm. Thumpdumpdumpdump. Apparently yoga retreat centers need a lot of rubble moved.
I finally had to laugh.
Going and having a lovely massage helped -- it was quiet down on the other end of the campus. After that, I didn't try to spin any more. Not only am I horribly out of practice, but there was a gummy residue on my lace flyer and I didn't have rubbing alcohol or silicone spray or lubricant of any kind with me, although I did find a bit of oil from the massage behind my ears. Not enough, however, to approach that hard to turn wheel. Instead I thought about and wrote about my garden plans. It's easy to be a master gardener on paper.
Dinner next! Lovely vegetarian food, eaten alone while looking out at a small garden of some sort and some still-bare fruit trees. It wasn't until afterwards I realized that many folks were sitting in a semicircle around the guru of the place. Because of some difficult family history, gurus kind of make me itchy, so I wandered back up to my tilted van. . .
Just in time for the singing and stamping dance sounds to come wafting towards me. I could also hear birdsong, and running water, and frogs -- frogs!! -- but had to hear them through the human-generated noise. It wasn't as silent as I'd hoped, but no one was actually talking to me, and I got a whack of knitting done even though I waited until after dinner to start on it.
As I unknit first, in true Stefani knitting fashion, the sounds gradually died down until all I heard was the frog chorus. And people walking around and talking loudly, cars starting and driving out, or driving in and parking, but it didn't matter any more. I was so engaged in counting aloud and thinking and wondering if it was long enough yet and did I figure the decreases correctly -- I should never put a project down in the middle of any shaping -- that my focus became narrower and narrower. Just me and the needles and yarn and color.
Until I got this for my birthday:
I didn't have scissors with me, or even a pocket knife, or I probably would have tried steeking then and there, I was so excited. I folded it up and stuffed it in the bag and tried to figure out what angle to sleep in the pop top so I wouldn't roll downhill in the night. There really isn't much room there; I know now why some of the kids object to sleeping up there. Sorry, kids! It is, however, more comfortable than the downstairs bed, so maybe we can work out a trade. I'll have to talk to Eric about that for the next camping trip.
A three-needle bind off, from the purl side, seemed like a good choice. I'm happy with the shoulder seams. I thought about casting on for the sleeves and getting a few repeats in on them, but about halfway through the casting on, I thought that it was the better part of wisdom to realize when you're tired and go to sleep.
I drifted off to the frogs, looking forward to getting to go home. And then I woke up early, and cold, and thought, "Forget this, I'm going home now." And I did, and I snuck into the house full of sleeping people and was so glad to be home that I could hardly express it. It was also Eric's birthday, and I got to be the first to wish him a happy birthday by touching him with really cold steering-wheel hands.
The next day, I used a teeny crochet hook to make steek holding stitches, instead of dealing with my sometimes-balky sewing machine. They're hard to see, blue on blue, but my fingers are on each side of them.
Crochet worked well for short steeks, like the one for the back neck opening and the sleeves, but the neckline seemed too long to deal with each little crochet stitch. Plus, the yarn is really sticky. I am not that worried about it unraveling. Not unworried enough to do nothing yet, but I did switch to simple backstitch.
For sewing like that, I keep my sewing-up needles in this custom-made just for me needle case:
My father in law made it out of olive wood for me. You, too, can own one in any of a dozen woods or wood-blends. Just ask me how!
As the steeks fell open, it was more and more exciting. Deciding to do fewer neck decreases made a slightly less deep neck, which was good. I even slipped it on overhead and it will be a close-fitting cardigan, just the right length, blocking permitting. Finally, finally, I started to believe that there might be a real sweater "soon," a knitter's soon, for me. I picked up neckline stitches, as you can see in the top of that picture, and will knit that up, then knit the front bands, and then I'll knit the sleeves.
Once those puppies are done, there won't be anything more to do. Seems like a fantastic plan at the moment. But I won't be yoga retreating again any time soon.
Bee story over on my gardening blog.