Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memoriam

When I was 16 or so, my family went to Hawaii. We stayed nearly a week on the little island of Kauai with all the wild chickens, geckos, beautiful jungles, waterfalls, and reefs. Paradise (and incidentally where I want to "retire" to).

The last two days were spent on Oahu touring Pearl Harbor. We toured the Missouri, the staggeringly huge battleship that spends it's retirement in the harbor (if you're rusty on your history, this is also the same battleship where the Japanese signed the official documents surrendering the war.) I've always loved ships, and it was this tour that first sparked the thought that I might join the Navy one day. We also toured a submarine while we were there, I don't remember the name of it. It was tiny and claustrophobic and my mom didn't want to be in it, but I found it fascinating. I knew sub-life would never suit me, I need fresh air and sunlight way to much, but still fascinating all the same.

But the part of the trip that stands out the best in my memory, even now nearly 10 years later, was the Arizona. She sits literally no more than a couple yards beneath the surface, some parts only a few feet beneath the water. There is a bridge built above her running crosswise so that you can stand just above her submerged deck. Looking down into the water, a portal in time seemed to open and a misty ghost of the ship rose until her deck was beneath my feet and I was standing looking into the harbor as any of her sailors might have done the day she sank. At the end of the bridge is a floating memorial with the names of those sailors that were killed or drowned. Columns of names that rose well above me head go on and on, naming the dead. I think I stood there until I had read every one of them. I was only 16 then, but many of the dead had barely been two or three years older than me.

When I was 19, I performed in a production of Hair, the infamous musical is which hippies protest the Vietnam war and actually get naked on stage. We did a slightly edited version of the show which meant no nudity, but we poured our heart into it none the less. I'd always end up nearly in tears by the end of every show, but the part that I remember the most clearly is this song, in which we had just had a bloody slow motion battle, metaphorically ripping each other to shreds. At we came to the end of the song, the drummer would strike the snare at the end of a line, and someone else would fall, shot. We then went into this song, and from the dead, I and another boy rose and began to move - he doing ti-chi and I doing ballet. In those moment on a dark stage with only a few footlights lighting us from oblique angles and the audience sitting in the green glow of the exit signs, we were all transported from the rough wooden stage to dark, wet jungles full of mud and half imagined demons. My friend Apollo and I acted together in this production and we never forgot it, and I think it really did influence the direction our lives took; make love not war became our new philosophy. We grew up to be the tribe we once pretended to be part of, working for a world of peace and love. When you learn to talk to the dead, they teach how to better live. Standing on that bridge staring into the water where once living people walked, I started hearing their whispers. Now I hope to satisfy their wishes by spreading peace and love to all those I can.

The spoken lines are in German for this one, but there is enough English to understand.

I remember you, and honor your sacrifice. Namaste.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Week

. . . is all the time I get before Apollo's birthday. And another friend's birthday too actually, but I already know what his present will be and it's not too difficult to manifest. But I need to crochet up two sock poi in a week. That seems pretty doable, but right now it feels like it's taking forever. I have no doubt once I get through the ball end of the poi it'll go faster.

I just realized that while I've mentioned these sock poi several times, not everyone might be familiar with the beautiful art that is poi:
Check this out.

The sock poi that I'm making are designed to be seen in the daylight and will consist of green and purple stripes that will hopefully show well while spinning. I'm making the two poi fraternal rather than identical twins, so on one the green stripes will be fatter and on the other the purple will be. The plan is Apollo is going to take these to Emerg+N+See in Portland this summer. When he comes home they'll be charged up with all the awesome energy of the festival. Meanwhile back here at home, I'll be crocheting up another matching pair which I will use to practice and soak up the good energies of home. Then we'll swap one poi from each set and each have a set made of a Portland poi and a home poi!

And then I'll probably have a flood of requests for sock poi. Ironically I have not even learned to knit socks yet. As much as people rave about socks - the yarns, the patterns, the portability - I actually predict I will have the same fun with sock poi. And I find crochet to be even more portable that knitting. My double points never stay nicely corralled and I'm constantly baffled as to how people can say sock are so easy to tote around. Small yes, but so many pointy ends that refuse to behave! (Socks knit on circs being the obvious exception.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lifelines and labyrinths

It's no secret that I've dabbled with psychedelics. Even people I haven't shared that information with tell me I seem like the type just based on my peace sign necklace, my bell-bottomed jeans with embroidered flowers, the way my car always smells like temple incense and other flowers. Psychedelics have shaped a lot of my philosophies and beliefs and have a very spiritual connection for me. Knitting has also had a profound effect on my person and is equally spiritual in its own way, though obviously in a more kinesthetic sort of way than a psychoactive one. Lately in my meditation I've been revisiting old experiences and drawing new wisdom from them, and I realized that I had, in my last big trip, used a priceless knitting technique as a tripping tool - the lifeline.

The lifeline in knitting can save knitters - especially lace knitters - hours of toil and headaches. For those who aren't familiar with the technique, a lifeline is a piece of extra yarn or string threaded through the live stitches at a strategic point (or several points) to allow the knitter to rip back sections without losing stitches or having to tink row by row. Your hope is that you never need the lifeline and will just remove it at the end.

I realized this morning that I had done a very similar thing before my last big trip. I was trying a new psychedelic and after I had taken it but before it had fully kicked in, I grabbed a good friend (there were several of us hanging out that evening) and told him "This is just a marker in time for me: The car keys are on the kitchen counter, and we had this conversation." To which he (being used to this sort of thing) said "Ok!".

I knew that if the trip took me too deeply down the rabbit hole, that conversation could be used as a lifeline back to a reality I lived in before the drugs kicked in all the way. I also hoped that if I couldn't find the car keys later, that conversation would hopefully serve as a memory tag. At the time I said it, I had a vague notion of my intentions behind such a conversation, but at the time it also seemed to have very little purpose as it was never again referenced by either me or my friend. This morning when thinking back over the event, I realized that I was trying to create the psychological equivalent of a lifeline. I didn't really want to have to use it, you'll goal in a knitting project is to get to the finish line without ripping back, but I had created it just in case I needed it.

This struck me as cool because it says two big things to me:
1) It is another example of how people can use psychedelics safely (something I advocate strongly)
2) It shows that knitting teaches you skills that you can use in ways you never even thought of.

As Theseus was saved in the labyrinth by a ball of string, so knitting left me a lifeline in the labyrinth of my mind.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Day

Well, if the Rapture happened, then at least I know all my friends and family will be keeping me company in hell since we obviously didn't get swept to heaven. I feel kind of heavenly though, I just had an awesomely relaxing night of sleep after partying all day yesterday at a little house rave celebrating not one but two birthdays. Much much fun.

I'm nearly done knitting up the boucle garter stitch zen project. It's not going to be a scarf. I cast on so many stitches that it ended up too short and wide to be a scarf. Had I cast on maybe a third of the stitches and made all that extra width into more length, it might have made a short, funky scarf, but I'm thinking that even then an extra third skein might have been needed to make a really satisfying scarf. So now I have another place mat. I'm developing an odd habit of knitting scarves that don't turn out to be scarves. This one like the last also seems to have a destiny in mind, and it's going to be fun making this one a reality. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I will say that this is going to involve taking a funky colored rectangle too small for much and using crochet, maybe some beads, and maybe even some embroidery to turn it into something wonderful. Hopefully by the time I have something to show, I'll have my camera situation worked out and I'll actually be able to show.

Next I plan to start on the crochet sock poi. Apollo's birthday is in a week an a half and I'd love to have them done by that time. It's going to be a challenge since I'm working with finer yarn and a smaller hook than I'm used to, but I think it'll make excellent practice and by the time I finish I'll probably be much much more comfortable with crochet. As much fun as I have crocheting, it doesn't yet flow as naturally as my knitting can. But I've got a couple years of knitting under my belt and not quite 3 months of crochet, so I've got some catching up to do.

Actually, what I have been working on a lot lately is my writing. I still write every day even though I've sort of slowed down on the blogging, because I've started working on a new project. I'm not sure if it's going to grow up into a book, or part of a collaboration that my friends and I are working on, or just what but I'm having a lot of fun writing it. It's mostly autobiographical, but I've been writing from a third person voice that really suits the work, and I'm not really striving to portray real life as it was, but more to capture the feelings and energies of those moments. It feels almost like I'm applying the concept of negative space to my writing, in the sense that I think about how I would tell the story of what I'm writing - say the party yesterday which I actually just started to write about - to my friends who weren't there. Then instead of writing that, I write everything else about the experience that might not get shared in the usual sense, the details we keep to embroider our memories with as much realism as we can hang onto and the thoughts we have that are too numerous to put into a shorter anecdote for our friends. It's making for some really interesting writing and contemplation about what goes on in my head.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stash Saves the Day!

I tried to start the crochet sock poi yesterday, but at the time I was sitting down to do it, I was just tired and stoned enough (and the hook was just small enough) that it was hard to concentrate and I put it away. I think I'll take another stab at it this afternoon.

I ended up not going to Michaels yesterday, somehow the time just slipped away from me. I did however make unexpected progress on my De-Stash The Yarn I Have No Clue What To Do With Quest. I had at some point in the afternoon came to the conclusion that I wanted to buy a couple skeins of Lion Brand Amazing (because it's one of my favorites when it comes to inexpensive yarns) in a really pretty color-way, or maybe even a few color-ways and then knit the psychedelic hippie's version of a prayer shawl. Or in layman's terms, a shawl/scarf/stole thingy that I knit on in meditative or trance like states as a way of enjoying knitting as a form of meditation, and to infuse the finished object with some really groovy mojo.

Since the trip to the store never happened, and I had a bad case of startitis on my hands, I ended up grabbing two skiens of Lion Boucle in Berries out of my stash. My friend Apollo had found these two skiens at the 99 cent store a few years back when I was first learning to knit, and he gave them to me as a gift. The colors are both really bright and sometimes garish, and also really really pretty. Don't ask me how that works, when you see it, you get it. And so I cast on what I like to call Vast and Fluffy Colors. Vast and Fluffy is one of those mindless garter stitch scarves that we knit because we can. I don't even know how many stitches wide it is, I just cast on until the needle was fairly full of stitches. We'll see where this goes, but right now I'm totally luxuriating in the simple, pure zen of just knitting because I can with a yarn that is kitten soft and very pretty.

I still relish the idea of making a shawl with Amazing at some point, but I'm thinking that since I do love the yarn so much, maybe I should use it for one of the awesome patterns waiting in my queue. This time around, all I really wanted was something pretty to look at and soothing to knit, and the stash did provide!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I took a little vacation from my normal life. Sort of. Long story short, the drama that had invaded my social life came home. Very loudly. So Bruce and I ended up vacating home and going to a friend's place at 2 in the morning. I was wearing pajama pants, a tank top, and a sweatshirt. I was carrying my car keys. That's it. I didn't even have shoes. We ended up spending nearly 24 hours away from home in such a state (Bruce was better prepared being fully dressed and carrying his backpack). After we came home, we spent most of our time being lazy and sleeping in. Today I think our "vacation" is done, but it was refreshing while it lasted.

Because I left the house with no knitting, there wasn't much progress on that either. But let's do a quick re-cap, since it is a WIP Wednesday.

My mom's birthday was the 6th and Mother's Day was the 8th and so my mother got her yellow mitten I've owed her for so long, and half of the neck pillow that I'd made before I ran out of yarn. She laughed at the neck pillow and said she can't wait to see it finished.

The only other thing I have on the needles right now is my last feather and fan dishcloth. This is the first project from my list of 10 that I wanted to complete, and it's taken me really quite a long time. Thank goodness for quests rather than goals or else I'd probably be beating myself up quite a bit right now. As it is, I'm merely starting to get bored with feather and fan and looking forward to starting something else, though I can't decide quite what. I had thought the scarf necklace would be my next project, but now I'm not sure, especially since the heat of summer is on it's way.

I still have my projects to de-stash yarn I don't know what to do with lined up and waiting for me, and a plan to crochet Apollo and myself some sock poi, but nothing about those projects is screaming exciting. Not to mention, in some cases I have nearly everything I need for the project except one critical item. Like for the sock poi, Apollo requested purple and green stripes, and I so happen to have purple and green yarn in my stash that would be perfect, I'm just missing the right sized hook.

I think I might go to Michaels today. I have some need for yarn, more need for needles and hooks. I have a little money saved up and the plan is to go look at what's there (since my local store's inventory in just about everything is pretty crappy). It's been ages since I bought new craft stuff, so I'm excited at the prospect, but also wary of spending more than necessary - I think a less than stellar inventory will help me there. I also need to be wary of buying beads when I go. I have a bad habit of dropping $20-40 on beads when I don't mean to. I'm thinking as a safety precaution, I should go through my stash of materials/tools and make a list of what's most needed and then see what I find at the store.

Oooh, wait! I just went to check my drawer of tools, and I found my second (of 2) crochet hooks! It's a millimeter bigger than the recommended size for the sock poi, but I'm pretty sure for my chosen yarn it'll be just fine! I'll probably just end up with slightly bigger poi, and since the length is custom anyway I'll be able to adjust. I think I found my next project!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Story time

Well, I don't blog for a week and then Blogger gets rid of the one post I do make yesterday. Meh, at least it wasn't a very important post. In case you missed it, it basically said "I'm fed up with drama and I can't even vent to my blog because I don't think this drama deserves to be splashed all up on the internet, and because of said drama I haven't even knit much so I don't have that to blog about either". As an aside, I think said drama has been dealt with, the ball is in the other person's court right now and a lot is riding on their response, which could seriously improve our relationship, or seriously damage it. I'm getting through this by channeling Emma Woodhouse (Jane Austen for those who are less classically inclined).

But I promised a story (because there still isn't much knitting or crafty stuff to blog about yet), so here goes:

Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary with Bruce. We both agree if feels more like somewhere between 6 days and 6 lifetimes. We'd also both sort of forgotten that our anniversary was creeping up on us, so there were no big plans. I kind of like that we're both forgetful of these things. Normally I'm not, normally I'm really on top of that kind of thing (I think it's a girl thing) but with Bruce, it feels like every day is a celebration of our love. Anniversaries are sort of an afterthought. And I guess these little ones (3 months, 5 months, etc) are sort of an afterthought. But half a year is a pretty big milestone, so we felt that we wanted to do something to celebrate.

So we decided to go out to dinner. Being super frugal, going out usually means burgers or $3 burritos, but we'd just gotten my tax refund so we have a little extra right now and we decided to go to a South American restaurant that Bruce had been wanting to try - he'd found one of their paper menus blowing around a parking lot a few weeks back and decided they sounded really yummy, so we've been looking for an occasion to go ever since. We didn't have an exact address, only a good hunch that it was located in a certain shopping center. When we drove there, we couldn't see it, so we parked and started walking around to see if it was hidden away in some corner.

As we were walking, I started relating a story of another anniversary dinner I'd had with an ex in a different restaurant in the same area, a seafood place that specialized in crab. Yeah, it seems weird to talk about an anniversary dinner with a former flame on our anniversary, but Bruce is the kind of guy that regards stories like that as just part of my history as a person. He's very awesome like that.

I was telling Bruce all about how we'd gone to this place with high hopes of a romantic evening, only to encounter the bitchiest and most sullen waitress ever. So bitchy and sullen that she put a real damper on the evening. Then we were surprised by the bill because it turned out to be more than we were expecting (though still within what we could pay) and the quality of the food was only good. Not really good, not excellent, nothing to write home about, just good. We ultimately decided to have a word with the manager about our waitress's bad attitude, and when the manager on duty came to the front . . . it was our bad waitress. Noticing that we were about her age, she immediately tried to get all chummy with us talking about how stressful life is and how "we know what it's like" as an excuse for her poor service. Wrong thing to say to us, my ex was working in food service at the time and I worked at a busy but high end shop in the mall so we did know how stressful things got, and how damn important it is not to let the customer know that! It was made worse by the fact that all through dinner we could see another waitress coming in and out of the kitchen and you could tell just by her face how exhausted she was and how much she did not want to be there, but as she rounded the corner into full public view she made a visible effort to center herself and put a smile on her face. If this girl could do it so well, it must not be so terribly hard, right? We decided never to eat there again, and my ex went back the next day to lodge a proper complaint with the owner.

Bruce found the story amusing, and just as I was finishing it up, we ended up walking right past the restaurant in question - which we then realized had been bought and converted into the South American place we'd been searching for! Giggling over the irony, we went inside to find out that a good friend of Bruce's worked there and would be our server for the evening. The owner himself came over to explain the specials and recommend a wine for us, and the whole evening was simply amazing. Excellent food, to die for wine, good service (from everyone, not just Bruce's friend) reasonable prices, it was the perfect romantic fairytale dinner. Even Bruce admitted that that was the most he's ever paid for dinner (he's more used to eating frugally) but that it was worth every penny.

We took it as yet another sign from the universe that we were meant to be together, and we simply cannot wait to see what the next 6 months brings for us, and then the next 6 and the 6 after that . . .

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I am a little sad

For a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that there's a lot happening in my life that I can't even blog about. A lot of personal drama that I don't think deserves to be splashed on the internet. It seems like my whole tribe is kind of in a slump right now. There are a lot of rumors of so and so being pissed off at so and so. I myself have inadvertently become the star of one of these little soap operas, and I don't feel like I have anywhere to vent, not even my blog. I haven't even been doing much knitting, so I don't even have that to blog about either.

I guess I can give the basic details. I made a joke a party which was (apparently, I've been hearing this from the grapevine) taken very badly by one person. This person has not yet called me out on it, and due to the nature of the joke I feel it is best for this person to bring the issue to me. Sort of one of those "I don't have a problem, but if you do you need to bring it to my attention so we can work it out" sort of deals (only it's already been brought to my attention thanks to the rumor mill). But thanks to this, it's also been causing emotional stress for this person's mate, also a close friend of mine, and I feel bad for that.

I hate drama. The joke was meant as a friggen compliment!!! Rarr, not going to stress right now.

Today is also my 6 month anniversary with Bruce. Yay for us. Such depressing circumstances though.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Alpha and Omega

It was brought to my attention that the end of April marked 100 years of marijuana prohibition. Prohibition of alcohol didn't even last 15 years, and that stuff can actually kill you. Marijuana actually cures cancer - YOU HEAR THAT, YOU FASCIST GOVERNMENT, IT CURES CANCER - and yet it's been illegal for a century. What does that say about us as a people? What does it say when we willingly keep pouring poison down our throats, yet keep a life-saving plant illegal?

In my own life I have used marijuana as an analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-histamine, anti-nausea medicine, creativity stimulant, and have seen - via real blood tests done by a real doctor - the number of anti-bodies causing my Hashimoto's disease decrease by marijuana treatment alone.

There is even strong evidence that the anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples to heal the sick and perform miracles was actually a very concentrated hash oil with a few other mystical plants like nutmeg and cinnamon, similar in concept to Rick Simpson's Phoenix Tears oil. In which case, yes Jesus really did cure the lepers. And we could do it again.

I have a theory that I like to call my Theory of Alpha and Omega Drugs. An Alpha is one at the top, in charge, leader. An Omega is used to refer to the lower, the less significant. In a wolf pack, an omega wolf is probably the runt, the one that gets picked on, and the last one to feed in a pack setting. They always defer to the alpha wolves.

The government likes to keep legal and endorse drugs that promote this Alpha/Omega relationship - i.e. drugs that encourage you to produce, reproduce, and shut up. Xanax and Adderall are perfect examples of these drugs. On the flip-side, the government fears and criminalize anything that breaks the Alpha/Omega relationship and encourages creativity, free-thinking, harmony, and brotherhood. Acid, MDMA (ecstasy), and weed are all prime examples.

The DEA schedules drugs into 5 legend categories, and non-legend or over-the-counter drugs. Schedule 5 is the lowest and mostly available over the counter, but also probably monitored or kept behind the counter for safety reasons. Schedule 2 is the highest legal scheduling and generally reserved for the gnarly stuff you get in the hospital. Schedule 1 drugs by definition have no medical usage whatsoever and are illegal no matter what.

Cocaine is schedule 2. It can be used as a vaso-dilator (dilates blood vessels to make blood flow easier, like in some headache and blood pressure medications), and is used in hospitals in emergency cases. It also kills people when dosed too high. Heroin is schedule 2. It's used in hospitals for extreme pain management because it targets opiate receptors better than morphine (technically once it hits the opiate receptors it breaks down into morphine, so heroin is really just the vehicle form, but a very efficient one). It also kills people when dosed too high.

Marijuana is schedule 1. It cures cancer, lowers my anti-bodies, and a million other health benefits. It also has no real toxicity level. That means you can ingest as much as you want and not die. Theoretically I guess it is possible to overdose, but you would have to smoke pounds upon pounds upon pounds in a matter of minutes to achieve it, so unless you can circular breath your way through a whole harvest in under 10 minutes . . . you'll probably just pass out, get distracted and walk away, or decide that a box of Cheez-its and a nap are a better idea.

The DEA says that one factor that determines how a drug is scheduled is based on it's addictiveness and potential for abuse. Marijuana, at schedule 1, has no physical addictive properties. I won't say people can't get mentally addicted to it, but you can mentally get addicted to anything - video games, cheating on your boyfriend, chocolate . . . it's a sign of something else going on, not a property of the plant.

But other drugs including most benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium) are schedule 4; a lot of available opiates (oxycodone, oxymorphone, etc) are schedule 3; anabolic steroids are also only schedule 3. These drugs are abused so vastly that I can't even begin to describe it, and very very addictive.

And then there's how these drugs make us feel. Most trip reports of people taking psychedelics or using marijuana detail how amazing the person felt, how much creative work they were able to get done, and how much their relationships with friends and family improved through open communication fostered by these drugs. Reports of those using legal (by prescription) benzos and opiates detail loss of creativity and initiative, a general pulling away from their friends, and hours, even days lost in a mental fog.

And don't get me started on drugs like DMT and GHB being schedule 1 - they are naturally produced in the human body on a near daily basis! We are all walking drug labs, so should we all be arrested and thrown in prison? Did you dream last night? Well you have more DMT than usual in your system, guess that's a life sentence for you!

You can't help noticing a trend. The DEA likes drugs that keep us quiet, un-rebellious, solitary in front of our TV's, and they don't like drugs that encourage you to be creative, to dream, be social, loving, and effervescent.

So is the DEA really looking out for us, or are they just out to maintain the Alpha/Omega status quo?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quest Progress

For the De-Stash the Yarn I Have No Clue What to Do With, I decided to start with the Lion Brand Homespun and have two patterns from my queue lined up for it: Calorimetry and Fuzzy Mitten Lamb. The lamb is going to be an experiment and I hope it works. My yarn is blue, but I think a blue lamb could be really cute. I'm more worried about the texture and just knitting the yarn itself, but if these three cuties were born from Homespun, I think I can pull it off too. If for some reason these patterns don't work out, or don't use up all the yarn, I have two back-up patterns lined up. It was actually easier than I thought to find patterns for this yarn, but I'm doubting it'll be as easy when it comes time to tackle the novelty yarn.

I do have some preliminary ideas for the novelty yarn. It's all really soft and has interesting texture, so I'm thinking of making a bunch of scarves or wrist cuffs or both until it's all gone, then giving them away at the raves. Most ravers can't resist soft textures, not to mention soft colorful presents are the best thing for someone who's overdone it a little and having a melt-down. It's funny how something you would normally never wear in "real" life suddenly becomes your favorite piece of clothing at a rave.

I also remembered that any unusable scraps can be knit into kitty toys for Apollo's cats. He currently has 6 kitties living with him - his momma cat Bobbi and her five kittens, two of which are being kept, and the other three will be given to friends or neighbors so that is a lot of kitty toys I can make, not to mention our own fat kitty here at home. And as a lovely commenter reminded me, cats at the shelter always need blankets and love too. So now I'm thinking maybe it won't be so hard to find uses for this yarn.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cotton is comforting

I've been knitting a lot with acrylic lately, because that's what's in my stash right now, but I was starting to not enjoy knitting with it anymore. I didn't even realize it until I decided to cast on a new project, the feather and fan dishcloths from my 10 Projects I Really Want To Make quest - incidentally, the first project I'm tackling from that list!

I pulled out the first ball of my small cotton stash and cast on. The first couple rows of the pattern are just garter stitch, so I started knitting away. By the time I was ready to start the actual pattern, I had noticed a remarkable change in myself. I felt way calmer, way more relaxed, and much happier and light-hearted. Sounds familiar to a normal knitter, but I hadn't been getting this kind of joy from acrylic lately. Kind of like the other day when Bruce lit up a cigarette and had to immediately sit down because of the unexpected nicotine head rush (by the way, he announced last night that he's quitting!).

Then I started remembering how much I love knitting in cotton. I know some knitters complain that the lack of spring in the yarn makes their hands hurt after a while, but since I'm one of those freaks that doesn't exactly play by the rules of tension, I've never had a problem with it. Instead, it just flies through my hands. I love the feel of cotton stitches slipping over aluminum needles. The fastest thing I ever made (before I learned to crochet granny squares) was my cotton peace sign dishcloth that I made in a single evening.

I had included the feather and fan cloths to my list of 10 projects because I knew they would make excellent gifts and I wanted to try out a feather and fan stitch pattern, but I honestly had been more excited about other projects on the list. I just happened to cast on for the cloths first in a fit of start-itis because I had all the necessary materials, but it turns out the simple joys of cotton were a much needed break from my stickier acrylics. The plan is to make as many as possible in what little cotton is in my stash, then give them as gifts to my parents and maybe Bruce's parents if I make enough. And since I want to make several cloths, I can intersperse them with my peace sign granny squares and other projects to give myself a cottony break if I feel another potential burn-out coming on.

I think I learned a very important lesson about how important switching up fibers can be in a knitter's life!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Be the Change - Showers

My hair is a slightly stringy mess right now. Because I'm working on being the change I want to see in energy conservation and reducing consumerism. Translation: I now take cold showers and don't use shampoo.

Explanation: I've been kicking around the idea of quitting shampoo for a long time. It's actually a really useless product. The natural oils our scalp produces are really all one needs for healthy hair, but we've gotten into the habit of stripping all that natural oil out with shampoo, and then dumping a bunch of other products into our hair. Because we've stripped the natural oil, the scalp over-produces in order to compensate, and suddenly we're addicted to using shampoo in order to avoid looking like an oil slick. The biggest thing holding me back from quitting shampoo was the really long transition time our scalp needs to stop over producing and scale back to a more normal oil production level - up to 3 months potentially battling the oil spill (though I'm hoping it'll be more in the 6 week range, from what I've read that's about the average length of time).

Bruce doesn't use shampoo, partially because he feels the way I do, partially because he's a guy and just doesn't care, and partially because he just has his perfect haircare routine down. Seeing his gorgeous hair encouraged me to finally take the plunge into no 'poo. And what is his secret? The cold showers.

Cold showers are not only great for your hair and skin, but also for your immune system (yes, counterintuitive but according to Bruce there is science backing this up). And cold showers are character building. Very character building. Very very . . . well you get the point. And in addition to being great for my hair and skin, cold showers also require no hot water, therefore no water heater, therefore less energy usage!

Since I'm in the super oily transition phase (2 1/2 weeks in!) I also use baking soda occasionally in addition to the cold water. It removes excess oil without totally stripping it 100% out like shampoo so I can get cleaner hair without ruining my progress. I also let my hair sun-dry whenever possible, it seems to help a little. And yes, sometimes despite the baking soda, I do just give up and tie a bandanna over my head.

No, it's not exactly fun giving up my nice hot showers, and I've all but stopped shaving in the shower because I don't want to hang out in the cold water longer than I need to (the bathroom sink will do for now), but the reward is worth it to me, so I persist. I am so glad the hot weather of summer is coming up to offset the cold, I don't think I could undertake this in December!

And in case you didn't notice, it's May Day! Another under appreciated holiday, at least in my circle of influence. May Day is a weird little holiday in that it can represent so many things - flowers, fertility, the start of summer, and more recently International Worker's Day commemorating the 8-hour work day and the fight for fair hours. Since there are no May festivals around here, no May Queen to crown, no May pole to dance around, I will be spending my May Day outside enjoying the flowers and general beauty of nature.