Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Yoga Treat


It would appear that this blog and indeed my life has changed direction.

This past weekend I was immersed in the physical and to some extent the spiritual on a Cowdance Yoga Retreat "Into The Woods".


I am not entirely sure how this happened.  I must have signed up for a newsletter and when a last minute vacancy popped up in my inbox, catching me at a vulnerable moment, I did not hesitate to sign up.  Half an hour later, my train to Ulverston was booked, not entirely sure what I had agreed to do the following weekend, but without much time to worry about it.


It was quite a small group, sharing two mixed sex "dorms".
Three women camped outside in tents / a camper van, which I could understand.
But there was a slight sense they were not part of "the tribe" that first night.
There was a time not that long ago when I would not even have considered going if I had thought I would have to share a room, never mind with strange men.
Ha!
Fortunately, everyone was lovely.
Perhaps the nature of the activity is self-selecting. 
We were a diverse group:  international, of all ages, single, married, alone, with friends or partners. 
There were so many surprising connections to be made and conversations to be had.
Community I sorely miss in my current life.

I was up before daylight, as is my habit, and spent some time knitting my latest sock and writing my journal before the others got up.
Yoga began with a two-hour class before breakfast.
It was intense.
I have probably only been to five yoga classes in my life, so it was a real challenge to take part in such long classes, twice a day.
There were guided meditations round a campfire in the woods.
I realise this is sounding dangerously hippy-ish.
Shrugs.

All the food was seriously delicious vegan home-cooking with dairy add-ons for those who felt the need.
I came home and was inspired to get back to cooking properly.
Nurturing myself after three days of being looked after by others, if only by their very presence.

Back home:  Green pea, broccoli, mint and coconut soup 

Our final gathering round the campfire included a time of introspection.
Asking questions of our various energy centres and writing down the answers.
At the end we could choose to treasure our words or throw them to the flames.
I chose the way of fire.
It was profoundly moving.

Would I go again?
In a heartbeat.







Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Circus Every Day


This past weekend, I went to  the Edinburgh Aerial Acro Convention 2017.
Yes, really.

I stayed in a lovely flat at the top of a 17th century tenement on the Royal Mile.

Luckily I am not scared of heights (anymore) - but the spiral staircase did terrible things to my balance after a day hanging upside down... !


I am very much a beginner in all aerial disciplines.

So even the "beginner" classes were a challenge, because most of the other participants were skilled in at least one area of circus fitness.

I went into each of my chosen classes with energy and enthusiasm, but there came a point where I had to take an observational role, to know when to stop!

That's OK - I was useful to others, because I could often see what they needed to do next, even if I was not capable of doing it myself.

I took two Aerial Silks classes.

My first turned into a private lesson because nobody else had signed up for it - woo hoo!

This was great, because I was able to take my time to break down the mechanics of the most basic "climbs" and "wraps".

I also tried Static Cloud (the loop in the foreground of the above picture).

This required basic trapeze skills (to get up there) but quickly progressed into something springier and swingier.

Really clever people can loop-the-loop, using their own momentum to keep going.

I managed it once and decided that was quite enough for now, thank you :)



A highlight for me was Aerial Cube.

I say "highlight", in the sense that I was deeply intrigued by the prospect of navigating a three-dimensional trapeze-like structure.

I got up there OK, all by myself, using trapeze skills.


And I got down again OK, using monkey bars skills :).

But somewhere in between, I lost my confidence.
Probably when I realised I was too short to reach the top bar from a seated position...

Other people were doing forward rolls over the top bar and dropping to the lower one in one smooth motion.
Me?  Ha!  No chance!

The teacher had me "drape" myself in a horizontal position, with the aim of rolling across from one side to the other...  but I got stuck face-down, flailing like a... flailing thing.
Not very elegant!

I managed to do this though:


I also took Flexibility and Strength classes - both involving pairs' work.

Circus fitness is not suitable for people who guard their personal space too closely.

Ever done a sit-up while a complete stranger is sitting on top of you, trying to push your elbows down to the floor?!

And I tried Corde Lisse - which is basically rope-climbing with artistic dangling once you get up there.  I managed a couple of tiny climbs and then dangled at just-off-the-floor-level.
Not pretty!

On the Saturday evening, some of our teachers put on a show.
Wow!
These are professional circus people and they can do all the things.
I was blown away by all of them, but the highlight was definitely the trapeze piece by Chiara.

Here is her YouTube showreel:


Astonishing.
Terrifying.
Beautiful.
Inspiring.

Not even in my wildest dreams...!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Neon Subversion in the Workplace


I finished my Mercury Socks at the weekend.
Today they had their first outing in the workplace.
Anything I can do to raise a smile...


The speckled yarn is Baerenwolle BAERfoot sock in the Birthday Cake colourway.
So sugary my teeth hurt!
As is true of most things in life, the solution was to throw neon at the problem.
The heels, cuffs and toes are by Hand Dyed by Kate: the Sunglasses Not Included mini skein set.

I am not a huge fan of lacey socks but there is something reminiscent of Japanese street style when paired with my patent DMs.
They are my FRUITS tribute socks :)


The Great Decluttering continues apace.  I had the Bothy cleared by the professionals.
Now I can see the floor!
I spent Saturday cleaning it just enough to demonstrate its potential and remove the major Health and Safety hazards (a desiccated rabbit anyone?).



Back in the farmhouse, I boxed up what we shall call "The Archive".
Tiny Blue Notebook 2 and his friends have gained a reprieve until I summon the energy to deal with them properly.

Studies One and Two are both now completely clear of stuff.


Some paperwork had to be sifted slowly and carefully.
My teenage self was a troubled creature and she comes alive through her agonizingly neat handwriting.
The photograph of him holding the photograph of me sums up the whole sorry mess.
But no regrets.
None at all.
All boxed up.  Shut in the cupboard for now.


Other rooms were easier to "stage".
An Instagram friend described the vibe of The Boy's old room as "Amish metal fan"  LOL
Yeah - that sounds just like my son (not!)
I particularly like the leather-covered "Works of Robert Burns" and the wooden flute, left casually on his bedside table...!

The Estate Agent is coming to take pictures later this week.
And then the fate of the farm is in their hands.

As for my own future?
I have plans, and they are starting to come together: slowly, slowly.
As I keep saying, it's all going to be fine.

And until then
I have the circus :)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

To Hull and back




So... I went to Hull again and got the best haircut ever!
By Sarah at Solo on Posterngate.
Worth the trip  for this alone!
But of course there was more to it than that...
I arranged this trip to coincide with a fundraising day by Alex Baum at Bishop Tattoo Company.


Her friend Aaron has a rare type of cancer, called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue and bone cancer.  He has responded well to treatment, but has been told that he has not been "cured", as the cancer is aggressive and has a very high return rate.  All funds raised on 6 August are going towards Aaron's fund for immunotherapy, which is not available on the NHS.

If you look at Alex's facebook page you will recognise her style.


So... yes.  I now have a tattoo.  
I consider it to be beautiful and an expression of my core being.
And if that sounds pretentious... shrugs.

I stayed in an airbnb in the Marina building.
With the sun blasting down from a clear blue sky, I could have been in the Med.

Before haircut!
On the Saturday, it was the Humber Street Sesh, a music festival.
Just what I needed!
I danced.  I danced a lot
A Silent Disco, an open air DJ set and a laidback boogie in a tent at the end of the pier. 
If pictures emerge (as they might) I will consider posting them here.


I felt free.
Anonymous.
Me.

Home again, and The Girl came to stay for a week.
That was lovely.


And now?

For a time there, I seemed to be at the epicentre of an overwhelming storm.
I was the single point of stillness while everything whirled around me so fast I had to close my eyes to bear it.

And then I took a deep breath and decided it was time to take control.


I am selling the farm.
I don't know what will happen next, but this feels like the right thing to do.

That, and knitting socks of course :)



Thursday, 17 August 2017

Thursday, 3 August 2017

I came here for love


Oh this song makes me so happy!


There is so much to write that can't be written here.
Mostly I am in a state of euphoria.
Is it all in my head?  Probably!  But that's OK.

The Girl is coming to play next week.
But before then I am off on a little adventure.
Time to pack.

Back soon!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Sock Circus

Just a quick post to say:  I am still without phone or internet.  All that my provider can tell me is that they haven't fixed it yet.
Thanks - I noticed.

I am currently addicted to knitting short socks for padding around the house / yoga / circus cooldown use.


This is the Rose City Rollers pattern (free on Ravelry).

My first pair used less than one 50g ball of KnitPicks Felici in the Punch Bug colour, with a mini skein of neon pink by Hand Dyed by Kate for a cuff, heel and toe.  The final toe was something orange from the scraps collection.


The second pair is straight from the scraps bin:  leftover Twisted Limone self striping in the Poppyfield colourway, with something unknown, purple and sparkly for the first heel and toe and grey sparkly Knitting Goddess sock yarn for the second.

These are so quick to knit and surprisingly practical - they don't slip off my feet in wear, but are easily removed if you have the sudden urge to jump on a trapeze :)

I am not sure when I will next be able to post.

I am "on holiday" for two weeks from tonight.
I have lots of plans for: further house clearance activities, valuation of the farm, another trip to Hull (woo hoo!) and a visit from The Girl (yay!)

There will be knitting.
And I have a new audio book:  Queen of the Air, a true story of love and tragedy at the circus
What else would I listen to?!
Bye for now!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Detoxification


The rural idyll is trying my patience.
I am once more in the midst of an enforced digital detox, due to a lightning strike to my phone line.  AGAIN.
And because it is summer and the trees are in full leaf, I have to go to the top of the hill to get a mobile phone signal.
Sigh.
This has its advantages.


Out in the fields, all by myself, I can get bit wild and crazy.
Sometimes I run.
Sometimes I swing from the trees.
Other times I lie on the trampoline and stare at the sky.

It is the ideal opportunity to ask THE UNIVERSE for A Sign.
I ask a question, and if the answer is YES, I  will find a four-leafed clover.

Twice recently I have been delivered of a FIVE leafed clover.
LOL


Yesterday I found one of each.
And I wasn't even looking very hard.

Now, while there is probably a good scientific reason for this mutant botany, I am all about The Signs.
FL had very little time for my belief in Destiny.
But it worked out well for me and him, on balance.

But... whatever next?!

Part of me has had enough of the enforced isolation of this farm life.
There seems little point in living in a romantic wilderness if you are alone.
Unless I embrace the poetry and become a hermit.
Always an option.

Being cut off from the rest of the world can be unnerving.
Particularly when The Universe seems to be saying it has plans for you.

I would say "watch this space" but my connection with the blog is a little fragile right now, in more ways than one.

Hopefully, it will all be fine.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cirque-elling

Is that not the most perfect image?
Me, in a previous life, clearly.
Not even joking.

In aerial news, I had a major breakthrough last night when I successfully inverted, unaided.
In other words, I flipped myself upside down in one smooth movement on both silks and trapeze.
This is a fundamental skill, without which progress is impossible.
And it is not the sort of thing you can practice at home.
I eyed the monkey bars at the gym this morning, wondering if I dared try a modified version, but in the absence of a crash mat it seemed like a bad idea.

I realise I have not blogged about my recent circus-themed sewing.
I bought this rather lovely inky-dot patterned cotton from Backstitch, and initially planned to make a Merchant and Mills Heron top... until I realised it doesn't have significant sleeves.


Key to my design plan was to embroider "very very CIRCUS" on the sleeve, as a sort of test tattoo.
No sleeve?  Bit of an issue.

So I decided instead to make a modified Marilla Walker Mercury Top, with 3/4 length, slightly narrowed sleeves.
It took me a full day to complete, from start to finish, including the embroidery.
Thoroughly absorbing.


It is a lovely cool top - so light and breezy  for summer weather.

I am slightly shy about wearing it in the workplace, as I feel like I am wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Ha!  If ever there was a statement to explain the curtailment of my arm-tattoo plan, that is it!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

New Song: Magnet

OK... so I was just told I looked like I was singing along to Elton John.
Noooo!
I need to update my dancing style.

Enjoy!


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Yarn Tasting: BritSILK from The Knitting Goddess

When Knitting Goddess Joy put out a call on Instagram for yarn tasters  testers I barely paused to draw breath.

Disclaimer:  I love Joy's way with colour.  I have been a huge fan of her sock yarn for years, and have been really excited to see her experiment with new bases, with an emphasis on British wools.
So my starting point was one of eager anticipation.

And when this little package popped through my letterbox...?


I believe my exact words were:  "Oh MY!"

This is BritSILK 4 ply in the Almost a Rainbow colourway.

40% BFL, 20% Wensleydale, 20% Alpaca and 20% silk.
Each full skein will have 100g / 400m and will sell for £19.50


I'm sorry - can we pause just to appreciate that halo?
The glow and depth of colour?
And while it is fairly soft, it has a certain crispness, an underlying resilience.

And breathe...

The first thing I did was to cast on 56 stitches in the round on 2.5mm dpns and worked an inch of stockinette, as if I was knitting the cuff of a Rose City Roller sock.

The colours started to blend together on the reverse side, becoming altogether more muted.


As you can see from the photo above, I rebelled against such subtlety, whipped out a 4 mm crochet hook and ran a row of 3-stitch picots along the edge.

Oooh!  Pop Pop Pop!
I love how the rainbow came to life in crochet!

I started to imagine some fingerless mitts with some eyelets and a picot bind off...


This is still on 2.5mm needles.
The BFL-heavy base gives the yarn-overs plenty of structure at this gauge.

Ooh yes - fingerless mitts please!

I decided to play a little more and threw in some shaping and cable-crosses.


OMG those colours!
As my stitch count decreased, the rainbow definition increased.
Imagine the potential for stripey fingers!

However, I was also keen to see how the yarn played at a looser gauge.

So I took the other end of my ball and cast on 30 stitches on 4mm straights.


This is possibly a little too loose.
I would try again at 3.75mm if I was swatching for a full-sized project.

Hold it up to the light?

Yeah - a little bit too airy for my taste.

When I squoosh the stitches together you can see how this might behave on a larger scale.


It holds its shape well:  not at all floppy.
Great for pleats?
Are pleats a thing in knitting?!

OK so now I am thinking it would work well with an i-cord edging.
Something geometric...
Ooh - how about a Clincher?


Imagine the contrast of the garter stitch, with the colours blending into one another, set against the pop pop pop rainbows when the same yarn is worked as an i-cord?

Ooh yeah baby!

You want some now don't you?
Me too :)

It will be launched at Fibre East at the end of this month and Joy is adding it to the shop on Friday 4 August.
Form an orderly queue, please.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

This is not a Crisis


When I was a child I fell in love.
And it was madness.

So no surprise
That I still look for you
That in truth I see you.

Every day
A glimpse
At the edge of my vision.
A movement
And my heart stops
Dead.

I hear you speak in another voice.
He says my name and I fall apart.

I blaze.
I flare.
Consumed by the shame
By the flame
Of my teenage crush.

It's not you, it's me.
It is Him, not You.

So sudden
I am older.
One day I wake
And understand
That I am old.

How unfair, I think.
To be free of my fertility
When all that men can see
Is my absurdity.

I reinvent
Reconfigure.
I am fragile
I am strong.
No spare flesh on these fine bones.

My clothes are black.
A widow's web.
None small enough to fit
The fragments that remain.

My locket is silver
Our child asleep within.
My amulet.

Rest?  Rare.
Peace?  Impossible.

I dance.
I sing.
I paint.
I write.
I throw my self
on the pyre
that is love.

Who am I?
I am a risk-taker.
Un-mitigator.
I lose my inhibitions.
I have nothing else to lose.
For all is lost.

Except...

I am alive.
More than before.
Fierce and free
I am ME.
Vibrant with energy
Afraid of nothing.

Except myself.

Oh yes.
Believe.
I am afraid of me.

I am dangerous.

Beware, take care.
You!
You who are not Him?
Stay well clear.
Guard yourself.

Trust me when I run away.
It is for the best.
For this shy mess
Is not to be trusted.

Leave me alone to haunt the fields.
To rattle in an empty house
Like the skeleton I have become.

But

If my hand creeps out to you,
Seeking connection.
Please stand strong.
Let me hold on
For dear life.
Until the pain subsides.

I promise to let go.
Releasing that ring
That brands your finger.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Going with the Flow

July.
The mid-point of the year has passed.

Sometimes it feels like time is running away from me, and other times it seems to screech to a halt and I am a rabbit in the headlights.

I have a terrible compulsion to over-fill my days, for fear that if I stop I will have to confront myself, and my alone-ness.
Tsk.
Sunday is my "day off" from exercise and inevitably I get twitchy and take to stomping round the fields or dancing madly to Radio One, because I cannot bear to remain still.
I find myself standing with my car keys in my hand, thinking I will just pop to the gym for an hour, because there I will find my balance again.
NO.

Union Square pattern by Mina Philip
So I try to settle down with my knitting.
All of the socks, all of the time.
I am working through the New York Sock Collection by Mina Philip.
I have finished one pair and have another two on the needles.
Two further patterns in the series have been published and I plan to cast those on soon.

Avenues Socks by Mina Philip
 And I have almost finished my first Mercury Sock, using a Baerenwolle speckled yarn in the "Birthday cake" colourway, with mad neon heels, cuffs and toes using mini skeins from Hand Dyed by Kate in "Sunglasses Not Included".

Mercury Sock
My happy place is at the circus fitness studio.
I am by far the oldest person there, but I do not feel judged.
It is hard physical work. 
One week I am better at aerial silks than trapeze.  The next time, the opposite.
I tried aerial hoop too... and it was fun... but I can't do everything.

Mermaid pose - my hand should be lower down the rope, to fall further
I discovered that I am far less bendy than I assumed myself to be.
In my head, I am still that drama student who can touch her forehead with her big toe.
Ha!  Not so much.
So I have added a vinyasa yoga class to my regime.
I was so relaxed at the end of my first class that I had to drink a strong coffee before I felt alert enough to drive home!

Flexibility and balance - much needed.
Allowing myself to go with the flow.
Letting life wash over me.
Open to possibilities.
New adventures.
Sometimes peaceful but never quite at peace with myself.