Hello, February. We made it through the first month of 2016 in good form. As I was saying in my last post, I made some general, get-it-together, goals for myself this year. And I’m happy to report that I’m slowly chipping away at them. I’m trying to fit these goals into my everyday routine, integrating them into my life as a long-term change, rather than just a short-lived fling.
I finished up my 30-day yoga camp challenge, and miraculously have found that it not only has become a habit like I’d hoped, but it has also become part of my daily routine. Let’s be honest, it was not easy to get up and on the mat every day throughout the challenge. The third week felt especially like a slog. But slowly things took on a nice, soothing rhythm. I gained strength and flexibility, and could feel my mind clearing itself of toxic thoughts and focusing on the important things. And, on the weekends when I didn’t have to get up so early or do yoga first-thing in the morning, I found that my brain and body weren’t as awake and aware as they were on the week days when I got up early and hopped immediately onto the mat. So when I wrapped up with the program last Monday, I immediately asked myself what I could do to keep the momentum going. Lucky me, the program’s creator also thought of that and made a post yoga-camp playlist to continue the journey. I’m happy to say that one week post-yoga camp, I’m still waking up at 5:30 am on weekdays and doing some yoga or going on a short jog before I embark upon my day. And, darn it, it feels good. My body and mind are both happier for it.
I’ve also continued with my other meditative, therapeutic, and feel-good pastime—knitting. There was an article recently in the NY Times about the health benefits of knitting and, lo and behold, it touches on the connection I’ve experienced between my new-found yoga practice and my beloved knitting hobby. “The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” Well, who wouldn’t want some of that in their life? Knitting also has the added benefit of creating a tangible item at the end of the process that you can feel and share with others. And as you practice and your skill arsenal grows, you can see your progress reflected in these items, moving from simple rectangular shaped-scarves to triangle shawls to in-the-round hats to raglan sweaters and beyond. I love that you can return to your earlier pieces, appreciate where you were in life when you made them, and see how your technique has improved and your skill base has grown. And, to add a benefit to a benefit, you can share your precious knitting practice with others. You can keep them warm. You can share your creativity. You can wrap them in your love. It’s quite a wondrous activity, this knitting.
After a long period of knitting for others over the holidays, my craft has turned a little selfish of late, filling in gaps in my winter accessory collection and providing much-needed neutral, thoughtful, wear-with-everything-and-all-the-time items. My latest finished project was a pair of Sitka Spruce Mittens by Tin Can Knits. The yarn I used, Berroco Ultra Alpaca in salt and pepper, was left over from my recently-finished Lila sweater (I must have completely miscalculated how much I would need for the sweater because I not only had enough left to make these mittens, but I also have entire other skein of it waiting in my stash!). This was the first pair of mittens I had ever knit. I’d done fingerless mitts before, but never full-on mittens. As the weather was getting colder and colder this winter and my fingertips were slowly turning to icicles while I waited on the platform for my train in the mornings, I knew a pair of mittens was in order. And, boy, am I glad I knit them when I did because a blizzard dropped over 2 feet of snow on us the week I finished them up. The pattern was simple and well written. I don’t know if I’d recommend it for someone knitting a mitt/mitten for the first time because it doesn’t explicitly spell out all the steps and a more experienced knitter would know how to read between the lines and fill in the gaps a bit. I consider myself a fairly experienced knitter and even found myself having to rip back about 20 rows at one point because I’d missed the cue to start increasing for the thumb gusset. Anywho, I’m in love with the finished product and they happily live in my jacket pockets and get used nearly every morning while commuting. They were so nice and toasty during the blizzard and even kept my hands warm and dry when we went out for a walk around in the driving snow (you can just see them in the photo of me up to my knees in snow).
So, all that said, I can succinctly wrap up by saying: mittens, knitting and yoga for the win.