Monday, April 23, 2018

Monetizing Serenity

This last weekend I visited Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for the first time.  It was clear I am not a natural part of that community of people.

Critiquing is Easy

An English teacher in High School got tired of hearing us say why we thought The Scarlet Letter was crap and told us that critiquing anything was easy, but finding what was awesome sometimes took some effort.

So, while I critiqued and judged the general population at Kripalu, it was more that I realized that I just didn't enjoy hanging out with this crowd.

Yes, I abhorred sitting in the beautiful lobby overlooking the Berkshire Mountains listening to flip-flop-clad women rushing to their next yoga session to make sure they got their preferred spot in class.  Aggressive pursuit of serenity just seemed so odd to me.  The whole atmosphere of the place felt like a reality show called The Real Moms of Atlanta...a bunch of contentious, self-absorbed people securing their place in the social status of Ayurvedic history.

I also felt that the scope of this venture was way too large to maintain a simple, serene environment.  Thousands of people and acres of parking for their cars just seems so contradictory to being able to work toward self knowledge and peace.  Putting into place rules about where you can't use your cell phones and making the huge cafeteria a silent place during breakfasts...those efforts helped get it closer to the goal, but not close enough as far as I was concerned.

The effect on me was that I felt lonely, isolated and excluded.

It's easy to recognize that it was all my state of mind and not anything about the other people there, and like Mr. Scanella said..."Critiquing is easy."

Photo Credit: Jack Turkel ca 1977

I do have to say that I thought the food was incredibly mindful and well prepared for such a large population of people.  And I can't say enough amazing things about the workshop I participated in.  The participants, the workshop leaders and the content were truly amazing.  I will continue to pursue Breema as a method of discovery and nurturing.  Hopefully just in different venues.

Current Knitting

Whilst examining my belly button this past weekend, I did have some time while not doing yoga during my optional program times to get in some knitting on the Briar Rose Pullover.

The back of the sweater is up to about 22 inches (it will end up being about 26 inches).  Here's what it looks like from the front.

You can see how stockinette-like the reverse of the fabric is compared to the faux ribbing.

It's also more obvious in looking at the photos that the variegation of the yarn has changed the granularity of the color pooling, but not enough so that I care to re-do the sleeve holes using steaks to avoid it.  Although I'd be open to hearing others' opinions about that too.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Off to Breema!

Headed to Kripalu, the East Coast capital of Yoga and all things mindful.  I'll be doing a Breema workshop with my Breema master and the head of the Breema Center in Oakland, CA.

Body-Centered Mindfulness

When I return home on Sunday, I'm not quite sure what to expect.  I'm pretty certain I won't have a third eye that will have emerged and I'm pretty certain my ability to levitate won't have been increased.

But I am looking forward to making progress on an inner-spirit journey that I've been on for a long time now.  And I'm starting to think that whoever coined the phrase, "It's the journey, not the destination" realized that when one's life really is about the journey, the so-called destination seems to expand endlessly...ever-increasing the limits of expansion...or more accurately, making one realize that there are no limits to personal growth.

I must admit that like many experiences of personal growth, the process started long before the first day of the workshop...I have been examining what's important to me for the last few weeks in anticipation of the workshop.  From a very basic perspective, I have also been keenly aware of how anxious I've gotten in the last few days about travel to Massachusetts, about food and lodging and about the timing of when to get there and what to pack.  Very unusual for me, but it's been fascinating to observe.  That kind of uncomfortableness usually indicates there is some breakthrough available that is making me anxious.

But while I'm gone, please be good...thank you.

Current Knitting

Since I've done virtually nothing more on the Briar Rose Pullover, I thought I'd feature the next color stripe completed on the Knitted Sheet.

I'm finding this kind of knitting the closest to meditative that my knitting has ever been.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Freshening The Look of QueerJoe

I'm always open to self-improvement and blog reader Leslie mentioned that she was starting to have trouble with the size and color of the font on the blog.  So things look a bit different today.

Web Tools

I rely heavily on two web tools...Blogger (which I use to publish this blog) and Weebly which I use to publish web sites like The Men's Knitting Retreats.

Both tools make it incredibly simple to do tasks that used to require a LOT more time.  Posting photos, designing a themed web site, hypertext linking to another site, setting up a simple store-front/shopping cart functionality, etc.

Years ago, when these kinds of tools weren't available, I remember teaching myself php coding so I could create forms for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.  I can't tell you how satisfying it was to create a MySQL database and then write code to create a web form that would populate that database with things like workshop preferences for the guys attending the retreat.

Recently, I've looked at WordPress as an alternative to Weebly and there are a number of reasons why it would be a better tool.  The flexibility of the tool is MUCH greater with many more developers adding new themes and plug-ins all the time.  WordPress also has better integration with other platforms like Facebook and PayPal.  With the help of a friend, I went through installing WordPress and playing around with setting up a web site for a new venture I'm working on.  Like many things, (including PHP coding), I found it a bit daunting understanding how themes worked and plug-ins and add-ons.  I found myself continuously translating terms from WordPress into their equivalent Weebly feature.

After getting a much better sense about what WordPress has to offer, I've decided it's overall easier and good enough to stick with Weebly and Blogger as my web site development and blogging tools.  I am giving up some functionality and features, but none that are critical or that I can't create some reasonable facsimile with clever workarounds in my current tools.

But boy, it's nice to know all that's available in a robust web site development tool like WordPress...just in case I ever need it.

Current Knitting

Ho hum...a few more inches completed on the Briar Rose Pullover.

But the nice part is that I have finally started the sleeve hole shaping so it should move along a bit more quickly until I hit the sleeves part of the project.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Kids! I Don't Know What's Wrong With These Kids Today!

The older generation is always disappointed in the next generation of young people because they are different in some critical ways than they "should" be.  Lazy, entitled, rock-n-roll crazed, selfish, dumb, unmotivated, etc., etc., etc.


It's so easy to look at younger people and think they aren't as ambitious as they should be.  Or more spoiled than we were.  Or feel like they're more entitled.  It's easy to criticize parents of young people that they molly-coddle their brats.  How giving constant praise and reward for nothing...that we've raised a population of entitled, self-centered young adults who are in for huge disappointments when they enter "the real world." an English teacher in High School said, "Critiquing anything is easy."

But when I look at the next generation of younger folks that I know, I have to say, my experience is not any of the standard complaints.  Mostly, I see a group of smart, responsible, self-assured, knowledgeable, caring young adults.  Mostly I'm amazed at how much they seem to understand about themselves and the world and how insightful they can be.

The latest group of students from Parkland is a perfect example of young people who have proven themselves extremely capable of standing up for themselves and also culling the support of the older generation to help them make the country a better place.  I'm wondering if these kids got trophies "just for playing" and if they were constantly lavished with praise and attention.  Because if they were, it clearly seems to have worked for them.

In fact, I have a many more critiques of the people in my generation these days.

Who would have believed there were so many who were so hateful (enough to elect a racist for a president).  And worse yet, despite all evidence, they still support the man despite all he's done to ruin this country.  Ignorant...obstinate...uneducated...hateful...hypocritical...delusional.  Who can imagine that enough of my generation care so little about the environment that they don't insist that our country do anything at all about the climate fact, they allow elected officials to work in direct opposition to efforts trying to fix it.  And it's truly unthinkable to me, that greedy organizations are allowed to dictate the laws we have about sane gun control and taxation that continues to make them richer and keep us poorer.  Yes, my generation has a lot to answer for...what did our parents do wrong?

Perhaps my generation is the "lost generation" that we should just give up on after all and let the next generation try to fix our mess.

Current Knitting

The weekend seemed to include a lot of knitting time and yet I've still only been able to add a couple of inches to the Briar Rose Pullover.

Given the weather out (cold, windy thunderstorms), I had to take flash photos of the project, but you can see I'm almost up to the armhole shaping.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Can You Ever Have Enough Stitch Dictionaries?

As someone that likes to design on the needles, I can find endless inspiration from leafing through stitch dictionaries like Barbara Walker or Vogue Knitting, etc.

New Japanese Stitch Dictionary

I just got an advanced copy of Japanese Stitches Unraveled by Wendy Bernard.  The book will officially be released on May 15th, but pre-orders have already started...I would recommend getting in on the first wave of orders for this one.

As noted on the front, the book has 160 stitch patterns (and 3 basic projects at the end of the book).

What I like about the book:
  • It's beautifully presented in a clean, bright way
  • All of the stitch patterns have a sample swatch clearly shown
  • Stitch patterns all have row by row written instructions
  • All the relevant stitch patterns have charts as well
  • There is a stitch multiple index at the end if you're looking for a stitch pattern with a specific number of stitches.

What I would change:
  • The book includes two basic stitches with instructions and a photographed swatch which I think could have been excluded from the 160 total (garter stitch and stockinette)
  • I would have added an index of reversible stitches as well (minor complaint).
Overall, I'm very glad to have this book as one more option for being inspired to design.

Current Knitting

I always feel bad at this phase in the progress of my WIP, that it feels like I'm subjecting blog readers to watching paint dry, but I've made a few more inches of progress on the Briar Rose Pullover.

The odd part is that I'm constantly designing and envisioning the next phase of the project in my the shaping of the arm holes and the neckline, so it's not at all boring for me...even at this pace.

Readers' Comments/Questions

A big shout out to James who sent me a birthday care package all the way from New Zealand.

A beautiful watercolor sheep card, mushroom fabric underwear and candy with a sexual innuendo.  What more could I have wanted.  Thank you, my friend!