Books and Knits

Finishing a fun knitting project is similar to finishing a good book. You are happy to see the outcome, but deep down feel a little bit sad because it is over. I completed my sixth dog sweater (same pattern as the first five) and it was just as rewarding as the first. I love having a knitting project sitting there just waiting to be picked up. I have mentioned in previous posted that I try not to have too many projects going on at once. I have a big project that can only be done at home (blanket), a complicated project that needs my undivided attention which means no audiobooks, podcasts, etc., and then my favorite- my portable day-to-day project. I saw a sale on Kraemer yarn and I jumped on it and made Jonesy another sweater before the warm weather came. I just couldn’t resist. Go to Kraemer Yarns for the pattern and yarn. The pattern is called Poochie Keen dog sweater and the yarn is perfection worsted.

Thanks to my friend thebellapack I finished the book The Maid by Nita Prose. She is my “goto”when I am need of my next book. It also doesn’t hurt that we are in a book club and she has great suggestions. She had recommended it quite some time ago and it took a while for it to arrive from my library. There was quite the waitlist…but it was worth it! I was reading it while I was knitting the sweater. And I was reading it, not listening to it. This actually worked out well since I didn’t want either to end too quickly.

Now in the back of my mind while knitting this dog sweater I was thinking about what I had planned next. It is a lightweight sweater and I have been dreaming (that might be an exaggeration) since last summer. The pattern is called “Anker’s Summer Shirt” and you can find it on ravelry. I let myself get intimidated by big projects and I know that I shouldn’t. Well, I took the plunge! I went to Close Knit in Midland Park and they helped me choose yarn for this project. They are fantastic there! I go back and forth between them and Yarnia in Montclair. I like to support the LYS! (That’s local yarn store)

I started on the swatch while Jonesy’s sweater was in the washing machine! (BTW- I went to college in Pennsylvania my freshman year and they thought is was funny that I called it a washing machine) So here is the washed and blocked swatch! I think I hit the money on gauge. Phew! I look forward to casting it on! More to come!

Questions:

Do you call it a washing machine or a washer? My Pennsylvania friends found the term “washing machine” funny. They also didn’t say “vacuum cleaner”, they would say “hoover” or “sweeper”.

Are you sad when a good book is coming to an end? Do you star to read slower?

How about knitting? Do you like the start/middle/end of a project? For me it depends on what I am knitting…just like the book.

Always Learning…

On December 12th of last year, I started feeling soreness in my right shoulder. By the 14th, I couldn’t lift my arm. I could bend my elbow, but that was it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have calcification that causes the inflammation. What causes the calcification? Well, it isn’t from too much calcium. It is mostly caused from an imbalance somewhere but it’s tough to really pinpoint where that is. It could be that I am over using my upper trapezius muscle if my lower traps are feeling tight. But this would be something that would be ongoing so that is why it is tough to give true reason why.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

I was feeling nervous about going to physical therapy during the pandemic. I was doing all the exercises my doctor prescribed and I definitely saw improvement. But once that improvement stopped and I was still having discomfort, it was time to go see the physical therapist.

One of the first set of exercises I was given was internal/external rotation. I have done these exercises countless times on my pilates reformer. A huge benefit of doing pilates is that it targets the smaller muscle groups…like the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff consists of several muscles. They include the subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and the infraspinatus. So yeah, there’s bit going on there.

So my PT tied a band to a doorknob, closed the door (so the band was attached to the other side), and handed me the other end along with this rolled up towel that was taped up. It actually looked like an ace bandage that should probably not be unraveled ever again. He told me to put it under my arm as I did the rotation exercises. I had actually learned that you should try to keep your elbow as close to your body as possible. He explained that if you did that, you wouldn’t actually work your rotator muscles as well, so this rolled up towel will help keep my elbow just far enough away from my body and keep it in place so that I can get full use of the muscles. My mind was blown! It’s these revelations that I find so cool that make me think I should have studied something other than English literature when I was in college.

Here is the incorrect way (I am not so great at taking photos of myself exercising, but how can you not resist seeing Jackson taking a snooze in the background! I had to use these photos!):

And here is how my PT had me perform all my internal and external rotation exercises (Jackson continues to sleep. Yes, that is a ladybug Pillow Pet he is using):

I am realizing this post is very similar to the one I wrote about my ego being checked at the door. I do the same exact thing as these types of situations. I do believe my knowledge of exercise helps my physical therapy move along a bit faster, but I considered myself a clean slate when I walk in the door. I am a pilates trainer. Not a doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist, nurse, or any other type of health care provider. And just like everyone else regardless of their professions, I continue to learn.

Vacation, Over…

Well, once again, I did not knit much on vacation. I don’t seem to do much knitting on vacation as I wrote about it here. To be honest, it wasn’t a vacation. My daughter and husband were off from work though, so that was nice. Actually, the week before Christmas my shoulder started hurting. I did the normal things I do to help, but it just got worse. I ended up in so much pain and I wasn’t able to lift my right arm for just over a week. Yes, I couldn’t lift my dominate arm for a week! Even scrolling on my phone was painful!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I finally was able to knit again around the 29th of December. All gifts I was planning are just going to have to wait. Sometimes, that just happens. Friends and family will understand. Right? I did manage to finish this sweater for my neighbor’s dog right before my shoulder acted up.

Just wanted to write this quick post to document my lack of FOs and workout posts during the last month of the 2021. We are in a new year and I have new goals for 2022 so stay tuned!

What are your knitting/fitness goals? I don’t mean 2022, I just mean for January. Baby steps…

Tuesday Tips!

I just posted about my latest knitted FO….another dog sweater. Check out the details on my instagram @201pilates

My neighbor has the cutest little Dachshund and I just love the way she looks in sweaters. I purchased several skeins of yarn from Kraemer during their Black Friday/Small Business Saturday sale which included the colors needed to knit Jonesey (that is the name of the Dachshund) a Christmas sweater. While I was waiting for the box to arrive my neighbor came over to me when I was outside and asked if she could pay me to make Jonesey another sweater. Absolutely not! I don’t take money for the the things I knit as I explained in this post. So I had to let the cat out of the bag that I was planning on making her another one anyway!

So What’s the Tuesday Tip? Here it is…

When I knit Jonesey the first sweater (first dog sweater I actually knitted), I used the magic loop method to cast on. Well, I actually tried dpns but wasn’t so successful. You can read about that here. In the tutorial I followed to make the sweater, a Chiagoo set of needles is mentioned for knitting small circumferences. Hmmmmm, I was intrigued but I already have several needle sets for a hobby knitter and I wasn’t sure I would like holding such a small length of circular needles. So here’s my tip if you are unsure about a needle set purchase: Just purchase one size of the needles! Most needle companies offer “singles” of their needle sets. I think even Knitter’s pride offers a combo set of three different sizes in three different needles. Pretty cool. So, I purchased these and they were awesome. Here is a pic of them in action:

They are itty bitty knitting needles for an itty bitty dog sweater. I put the full set on my Christmas list now that I know I love them. What is really cool about the set is it includes two lengths of the same size needles. This way, you can hold the longer needle in your right hand (or I should say dominate hand) and the smaller one in your left so you can obtain a smaller circumference with more cord space. This takes using double pointed needles or magic loop out of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like using the magic loop method, but not right at the cast on. Here is a photo without a project so you can see how it works.

You can also attach both longer needles or both shorter needles, but I just like the way this setup feels in my hands. One needle is 2 inches and the other is 3 inches. You also get two cord sizes: 5 inches and 6 inches. This means you can make 9 inch, 10 inch, 11 inch, and 12 inch circulars with this set!!! I see more mitten, glove and maybe even sock knitting in my future!

You Should Totally Open an Etsy Shop!

Ok, ok, I am not trying to sound mean about the above title. I am writing this post because it is now “officially” the Christmas season. (My husband has all sorts of rules about when seasons begin and end. It deserves a post of its very own.) So many of us “crafty people” have stepped it up into high gear. Trust me, we have been “in gear” since the summer, but now we are working on finishing and fine tuning any last minute gifts we want to make/knit/create, etc. Well, I am anyway. Remember I am a complete amateur.

Summer knitting!

I would honestly only call myself an advanced beginner knitter that dabbles in some intermediate projects. But just dabbles. My favorite item to knit are hats and when people see my latest I get the following comment “You really should open an Etsy shop”. Yeah, that would be nice but let’s think this through. Now I am not saying NEVER, but the chances are low. Let’s do some math.

First, I am a SLOW knitter, so those cute items I post take some time. So think about how much money YOU make in an hour and now multiply that by a few hours. OK, now, I also don’t like to use cheap yarn. There is nothing wrong with using big box craft store yarn, but I love the way merino wool feels in my hands when I am knitting. Now add that all up. So when you see a hat for $40 and say “Oh I can get this at (insert name of store) for a quarter of the price, I die a little inside. Now I know there are people that really do appreciate something hand made and prefer to support a small business, and I am one of those people too! But I am just not sure that the things I make will come off well over a website. You can’t feel how soft my double-cuff hat is because I used a cashmere blend yarn! I am also not sure I want to give up my hobby. Read on…

So soft wool/cashmere blend hat!

There is also another part to this. Sometimes a hobby is just that..a hobby. I recently listened to a podcast that interviewed Brigid Schulte. She is the author of “Overwhelmed: Work. Love, and Play When No One has the Time”. Her book was inspired by a New York Times article titled “The Case for Having a Hobby”. I admit, I haven’t read the article because I do not have a subscription, but I would like to read her book. She talks about how people don’t really have hobbies anymore, Here is the first paragraph describing her book:

According to the Leisure Studies Department at the University of Iowa, true leisure is “that place in which we realize our humanity.” If that’s true, argues Brigid Schulte, then we’re doing dangerously little realizing of our humanity. In Overwhelmed, Schulte, a staff writer for The Washington Post, asks: Are our brains, our partners, our culture, and our bosses making it impossible for us to experience anything but “contaminated time?”

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

Does that make sense? If not, check out this article here. Knitting (or insert hobby here) can go down that slippery slope where it is no longer my meditation but my stress. I like to make gifts for people and if someone asks me to make a pair a mittens or a dog sweater, I am more than happy to oblige. I just don’t know if this “hobby” is ready to take off into something else. Maybe sooner or later it will but I think I need to take a hard look at myself and see if I am ready mentally to take that step. There is a line in the article I link to that says once you start making money at something, it is no longer a hobby. Truth.

Pilates teaser! One of my faves!

Let’s not forget, I actually DID turn a hobby into a an actual income producing activity. I teach pilates!!!!! When I started I had no intention of teaching. It took a few years for that to settle in and expanded to teaching many fitness formats. But I admit, (pre-pandemic) I would quietly join different studios so I could be “anonymous”. No one was trying to follow me or match my form. I was able to do my own workout without having to think about what was coming next or if someone was watching me to be the “example”. In that moment, I was able to enjoy my “hobby”. But these moments are few and far between and I accept that. Teaching fitness has become such a part of who I am today and it is in fact, a job. I prep for ALL of my classes. I have lists of exercises sorted by muscle group and tagged by level. I am not going to lie, it’s a lot of work. My prep time is on my dime and that’s fine with me because I love it, but I treat it like a job. Just because I treat it as such, doesn’t mean it isn’t a passion. It absolutely is. I STILL get butterflies in my stomach before I teach a class. I believe the day that no longer happens is the day I should stop teaching.

So, will knitting take on a new life of it’s own. I guess time will tell.

Check Your Ego at the Door

I learned this early on during my fitness teaching career. My IT (instructor trainer) for pilates explained how she always checks her ego at the door because instructors need correction and cueing too! Whether we are taking a class or at an instructor workshop, we can always learn just like in any other career.  We don’t see ourselves when we are doing a plank (even with a mirror because if you turn to look you put your neck out of alignment which could change the rest of your spine) so we can be crooked or hiking our shoulders in our ears. How many times has an instructor told you to relax your shoulders? Did you intend to hike your shoulders? Of course not, you didn’t even realize you were doing it. Same goes for the instructors. We need those reminders just like everyone else. But it isn’t just about correcting, it can be about anything. 

It’s been well over a year since I have taught in person so I am still getting my groove back. I’m nervous, self-conscious, and worried I am going to slip up or just blank. In other words, I have a lot of nervous energy while I am teaching right now and my ego is very fragile. Here’s what happened the other day to inspire this post.

Photo by Tomu00e1u0161 Malu00edk on Pexels.com

I introduced myself to a member and asked her name. She replied and we chatted for a minute or two about how we liked doing early workouts to begin our days (I am teaching the 6 and 7 AM classes right now). I told how much a pleasure it was to have her in class and thanked her for attending. I arrive home later in the morning and check my email. There is a message that just a half hour after I chatted with her she cancelled her class with me for the following day. (Note: I need to opt out of the option that I can see who books and cancels) I IMMEDIATELY took it personally. I said to myself that she met me, arrived at work, and cancelled the next class she had booked with me as the trainer. Of course she must have hated my class. What other explanation could there be?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Umm, Crissy? There could be several explanations. Yup, eventually my inner voice kicked in and reminded me about checking my ego at the door. I then had to tell myself:  She could have arrived at work and found out she had an early meeting. She could have looked at her calendar and realized she had a conflicting appointment. She could have just decided, you know, I want to sleep in tomorrow.  

This is just one example. I have had members tell me before class that they need to leave early for various reasons. I do appreciate it when they do it (not because of ego) because I know that they are Ok and aren’t heading to the ER right after my class. But seriously, everyone has a life outside of my class and I realize that. They have jobs, kids, significant others, and just their own well being to think about.

Oh, and that member ended up re-booking the class the following day.

They All Can’t Be Winners

They All Can’t Be Winners

Here is the good side. This is the hat

I am going to hold off on showing the “bad sides” until I do some repairing. I think I can fix some of my mistakes and I would like to write a separate post about how I did that. 

The title of this blog is the EXACT reason I love and appreciate knitting. I honestly didn’t realize it at the time. I wrote about all the reasons why I started knitting here, but today’s post is why I appreciate it so much. That other post is about why I started knitting, and today’s is about why I continue. 

No, the MTM was not a complete failure. It still resembles a hat and will still get worn (by someone) someday. It didn’t turn out how I expected, and you know what, that’s OK. And there it is. This hat I wanted so badly to knit did NOT turn out as I hoped. It doesn’t look anything like the model’s on the pattern’s page and even with all my repairs, it still won’t.

When things like this happen in my knitting (or in life) I recall this podcast interview where the founder of Fibre Forward talked about how she learned to knit just after her divorce. She explained how it gave her an outlet to experiment with new things…..and fail, and see how the world didn’t come to an end! I am probably not doing her comment justice, but the root I am getting to is how knitting has been such a tool to manage my stress and anxiety. Some of my projects will come out lovely, and some, not so much. Knitting is a creative art. We need to try new methods and techniques out and see where they take us.

Photo taken pre-Covid.

I still tag my knitting photos with #pandemicknitting because we are not out of the woods yet with Covid-19. I foresee many beautiful and botched FOs in my future and I will learn something new with each and every one. If you feel like knitting may help you calm down or relieve stress, please do get in touch with me. Contrary to what some people believe, you don’t have to open up an Etsy shop just because you knit a cute hat. It’s not that kind of pressure…but be warned, you may want to knit a matching cowl!

Back In The Studio

So a few posts back I talked about how I wasn’t ready to go back to “in-person” teaching. I had been teaching at Club Pilates in Clifton, NJ for just a few months when the pandemic shut down non-essential businesses. I actually contacted the owner and told her that I needed to stop teaching just before the lockdown was enforced. I told her that I worried about bringing the virus home to my husband who is immunocompromised. She was very supportive and understood my position. The lead instructor found subs for my classes for the next couple of weeks and asked that I stay in touch. Of course, we didn’t realize that only one of those classes ended up requiring a substitution as all non-essential businesses were ordered to close by that very evening.

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

I admit, I was relieved but I honestly thought it would be only a week or two. Was I way off!. To be honest again, I was content waiting it out in my home. I am beyond lucky that my husband is able to support us on his salary alone. He flat out told me he was happy that I was home safe, and I preferred I stay home for the time being. I know our pre-teen daughter wasn’t thrilled, but she handled it like a champ as well. Thank goodness for technology! Between Face-Time and online games, she got the socialization she needed with friends. That’s what I had to keep telling myself…she is getting what she needs.

So here we are about 16 months later, and Club Pilates stayed in contact with me. I even taught weekly on their virtual schedule until they retired it in October 2020 since most clients were back in the studio. They asked me to return, and I had to say no. I know the coming winter would bring a rise in cases, so I sat it out. But our lead instructor said something to me that makes me a bit weepy inside. She said, “You will always have a home here at Club Pilates.” I mean, right? They saw the value I brought to the studio and I appreciated what I brought to their business. We all were learning so much from each other and I could see my knowledge in pilates and fitness flourish.

Teaching virtual pilates from my living room with photo bomb from my dog!

Now this isn’t supposed to be a love fest post about my place of business. I want to write about WHY I decided to return. Well, my husband and I have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and our daughter received her second shot in early July. At that time our lead instructor contacted me about coming on to the Fall schedule. They are opening up another studio and needed additional instructors. I asked if I could just observe a class to see how I would feel, and of course they happily agreed. I was super nervous as most members weren’t wearing masks (I am only stating how I feel, I am not trying to start a mask argument) and I was sure to keep it on. I instantly realized how much I missed it! I went home and had a long heart-to-heart with my husband about how he felt about my returning to teaching. He told me I should go back. He could see how staying at home has been affecting my mental health as it just gives me more time to stress about what can go wrong. He also said that we are doing everything we can to keep our family safe and we can’t hide forever.

I called the studio back and I am subbing throughout August and will be on the regular schedule starting in September!

I subbed two classes last week. I purchased a pack of those “cool turtle” mask inserts which were a huge help! I didn’t feel out of breath at all. I admit I was nervous, but both classes went smoothly. As I continue to teach, I will do all I can do to protect myself from this virus. I am vaccinated, I wear a mask indoors, wash my hands (or use hand sanitizer), and social distance. The owner of the studio actually put in a “podium” at the front of the class and it is AMAZING!! I am just high enough that I can see the entire class and I was able to make corrections from a distance. Sometimes you just PHYSICALLY need to change your perspective. Ha!

I will have five regular classes come September and I think that is a good start to get going after not teaching in person for over a year.

Another FO and Mary Tyler Moore!

I finished my second dog sweater. Ta-Da! 

I know it is July but I am sure come fall Stormy (the dog I made the sweater for) will put it to good use. Long story short…some friends of ours rescued a pitbull. She is such a sweet dog but seems to have some autoimmune disease and has trouble regulating her body temperature. Throughout the fall/winter/spring I noticed she was always wearing some type of sweater or sweatshirt. So that is how I decided to give knitting dog sweaters a try. I will be sure to post a photo of Stormy wearing her new sweater once the weather cools down.

I was very excited to begin my new project. A hat! I love to knit hats. I purchased the yarn for this hat when I purchased yarn for this hat I made (love to get that free shipping). So I guess you can say this yarn was burning a hole in my yarn storage bag! (Nope, doesn’t have quite the same ring as “burning a hole in my pocket”)

Let me give some background why I chose the pattern I am currently knitting.  When we all went on lockdown in March, 2020, I started binge watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I remember watching this show on “Nick at Night” when I first moved out of my parents house. I had a tiny little TV in a tiny little room that I rented when I got my first job out of college. I thought it was so funny and witty and I guess I felt some kind of connection with Mary. There I was in my first apartment about 90 miles from where I grew up that I paid for with my very first job in publishing. I was going to make it after all!!!! The theme song is “Love is All Around” by Sonny Curtis. Fun fact: Joan Jett did a cover of “Love is All Around” in 1996 an to promote the NCAA’s final four. 

Ok, what does this have to do with knitting? Well, if you have seen the show you know of the famous hat toss at the end of the opening credits. Throughout the series those opening credit scenes change EXCEPT that hat toss. It has actually been ranked as one of the greatest moments of 1970s television. The hat is a Tam o’ Shanter and it seems to be knit, so I thought, I bet I can make that! So of course I went right to ravelry to start my search and chose a pattern as my favorite.

 I purchased the pattern just the other day and looked it over. It doesn’t look so simple. It has a twisted rib stitch? What? I looked over some of the projects that used this pattern and I did find one that just used a regular rib stitch followed by stockinette. That’s more my speed….but will it look the same??? The one the pattern designer has on her page is SO adorable! Just look at it!

So here lies my dilemma. Do I change up the pattern to make it easier? Do I just dive in and knit  the pattern as written?

Here’s what is actually funny about this entire post. As I type this, I am deciding to make the pattern as is. So I have answered my own initial question. Just knit it as written. This may not be the “easy watch tv project” but that’s Ok. It’s a hat, not a blanket. I have my audiobooks and podcasts to listen to as I knit.

Here is my cast-on and the first round or so complete. You can see with the lighter blue color I have started the “traveling jogless stripes”. I can see how the twisted stitches add to the texture of this “Tam” already. What are “traveling jogless stripes” you might ask? That’s a topic for another post!

 

Vacation! I Thought I Would Knit More…

I am embarrassed to say this, so I will just say it. I did not knit or workout while on vacation. I would repeat it for emphasis, but there really isn’t any need.  Instead, I went on roller coasters.

Oh, I brought my TRX suspension system AND my knitting bag…but I didn’t touch either one. AT ALL. I didn’t even go out running in the morning like I usually do while on vacation. I like to keep my schedule the same, so I usually head out before anyone wakes up. Well, this vacation was VERY different due to pandemic, but honestly, I was just happy to get away for a bit.

We went to Walt Disney World (the one in Florida) and we drove there from New Jersey. We just aren’t comfortable taking planes at this time. We tried to get a photo in each state. We missed Maryland and South Carolina. Oops!

So Why No Knitting or Workouts?

My husband is immunocompromised so we also spent as much time outside as possible. Disney did a great job at keeping the capacity low and keeping most of the lines to rides outside. We were just sure to put on our masks whenever we went indoors, which was not often actually. Have you ever been in Florida in late June/early July? Yeah, it’s hot and humid. I think that just took a toll on me so by the time I was finished taking my 20K + steps each day (no exaggeration) I was wiped. Usually when we go to Disney we take advantage of indoor shows and restaurants throughout the day to recharge. But as stated, we just didn’t want to be inside (with the exception of our hotel room) for long.

The one hobby I did keep up on was reading. I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and really enjoyed. So my relaxation was reading (usually poolside) and watching Mickey cartoons. That was it. My knitting bag just stared at me and I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty. I realized that it was OK if I didn’t want to knit or workout. I was in Disney World with my family and just doing whatever I wanted while I had time with them was exactly what I needed.

So that is what I have been up to. I started this blog to keep track of my pilates and knitting and I wanted to have an entry here to explain the gap. Of course, we are now full into summer and my husband says he wants to do 2 pilates and/or TRX sessions a week. I also plan to give my daughter some pilates sessions to keep her conditioned for her upcoming figure skating competition.

My point is even is we can all use a break from all things in our lives. I thought the only break I needed was from cooking, cleaning, and constantly checking my daughter’s grades online. Turns out, I needed a break from it all and sometimes we just need just that, a break. This includes the hobbies that help us relax and even motivate us. Sometimes we all just have to lie in bed and watch cartoons.

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