General knitting

The Purple/Pink Shawl

I’ve finally gotten around to taking photos of the shawl, and am ready to show it in it’s finished, blocked, glory:

As I said previously, I’m really quite pleased. More pictures? If you insist:

You will note the nice, pointy little edges. I’m very pleased those worked out as well as they did. Please also note the expanse: nearly 6 feet, which is the result of a bit of agressive blocking, but it really made the whole shawl work.

For slightly less expansive occasions, it can be worn folded in half:

I’ve written so much about this shawl, I don’t feel like there’s a huge amount left to say, so I’ll leave you with a final picture:

Jewish Spirituality Rabbinic shabbat

A Coming of Age Ritual

Somehow, I’ve been running pretty hard recently, and though, on paper, I should be getting enough sleep, I’m exhausted. But there’s a bat mitzvah coming up tonight, and I’m getting ready.

A bar or bat mitzvah is always a somewhat strange sort of Shabbat. The service is led mainly by the kids, but somehow that feels more stressful for me as the rabbi, rather than actually a day off. They always do fine (and I’m completely confident in the young lady who will be leading this evening), but I’m always sort of holding my breath through the entire service.

The coming of age ritual is celebratory, and it’s wonderful for the young adult, the congregation, and myself as rabbi and teacher. It’s a privilege to be part of it, but it’s not so much relaxing, and not spiritual as a prayer experience. It’s inspiring in terms of seeing a young man or woman taking their place in community, but I’m too aware of the performance aspect of prayer to pray with intention.

Nonetheless, I’m deeply excited, and will enjoy it. I will also enjoy getting home tomorrow afternoon, at which point I get to collapse.


My Pink Jacket

I’ve started a new project for myself. It’s a pink outerwear jacket. It’s the Danbury Knitted Sweater Jacket. You can find out more about on ravelry here. I’ve now knit up the first foot of the back about 4 times, and frogged it each time trying to get both gauge and a good texture. The most recent version, just before I frogged it, looked like this:

The stockinette gauge was ok, but the ribbing was too large. So out it came, and I’m starting the ribbing now with size 5 needles to go with the size 7 needles on the stockinette. The pattern actually calls for 10.5 needles for the stockinette and 9 for the ribbing, but I’m using a much heavier yarn, I think.

I’m really loving this yarn (bought it at a destashing sale (yarn equivalent of a garage sale). It means I have to describe the yarn, rather than simply tell you the brand, etc. So they yarn is wool, fairly variable in weight, without much twist to it. At times, it almost seems like it wasn’t so much spun as drawn. Very soft, in light pink with streaks of purple running through it. The weight is varying widely from very thin (almost a fingering weight, to extremely chunky. It’s a pleasure to knit with.

I just finished casting on for my next go round. We’ll see whether I can actually keep what I knit this time.

Jewish Spirituality knitting spirituality

Mindfulness Through Pain

Back when I was meditating regularly, when I was experiencing pain, even fairly intense pain, I found that if I concentrated upon the pain I was able to better tolerate it. When I really tried to focus upon the pain itself, to really feel where it was located and how it felt, it turned out that in any given moment, the pain itself wasn’t so bad. It was the ongoing nature of the pain, the sense that the pain was present and was going to continue to be present for who knows how long, that made bearing the pain difficult. I don’t know if this is a common experience for those who meditate or not (or if I’m the only one strange enough to look at pain as a potential focus for mindfulness meditation), but it was certainly my experience.

This came to mind recently, as I’ve been thinking about mindfulness and pain in a somewhat different context. Yesterday morning, getting out of the shower, I reached for my towel. Somehow in the process of grabbing my towel, I managed to do something unpleasant to the muscles around my neck. As long as I keep my neck vertical and still, everything is good. Bend my neck down or up, or twist my neck side to side, and it hurts. The pain can be anything from a gentle stretching ache to a sharp shooting pain. The obvious answer is to keep my neck fairly still. Which is where my musings on mindfulness and pain come in.

I am being forced to be mindful about how I hold my neck because otherwise I experience pain. Overall, I am not necessarily finding this a particularly spiritually satisfying form of mindfulness, but it is pushing me to think back to other forms. When it first happened, I had high hopes. After all, I’d profitably combined mindfulness and pain before, perhaps it would work well, this way also.

Not so much. Part of the issue, I suspect, is that mindfulness is largely about being mindful for it’s own sake, rather than for the sake of avoiding pain. There seems to be something a little odd about seeking mindfulness in order to limit pain. The other part of the issue is that I haven’t been meditating consistently recently. I think knitting has largely taken the place of the meditation in my life, and while it fulfills many of the same functions (relaxation, clarity of mind, peace of spirit), it does not provide the sharpness of mental focus that mindfulness meditation provided me.

I’m beginning to think (continuing to think) that I need to make time in my life for meditation again. The trick, as with all of life, is doing it.

General knitting

The Shawl is Done!

After about 6 months, my pink pinwheel shawl is done. I am very excited.

It’s not blocked yet, so you can’t really see the pointy edging I put on, but I’ll definitely post more pictures once I block it.

I was concerned as I was working on this that it wouldn’t work out. I was concerned in all sorts of ways. For the last 5 days, since I started the edging, I’ve been convinced I would run out of yarn (though some time yesterday I relaxed when I realized I was okay). I’ve been concerned that it wouldn’t lie flat (it mainly does, and I think it really will once I block it). I was concerned that I wouldn’t like it (I do…a lot).

I think I’m planning to offer it for sale, to try to offset my yarn habit…though if I wind up keeping it as a wrap, I wouldn’t be heartbroken.

For more details about the construction, you can take a look at the ravelry page for the project: I’ve included the pattern for the edging there.

Have I mentioned I’m excited to have finished this?


Is this Summer?

I know the calendar says it is June 12, but for the last week it’s really felt more like winter than late spring. People have been walking into CubeSpace bundled up in fleece and hats. It’s been wet. And while this recent week has been extreme, it’s not like it’s been isolated. We really haven’t had much of that beautiful spring/summer  weather we cherish so much in Oregon.

There was that brief period of two or three days when the temperatures sky-rocketed up into the upper 90s (which was either in April or very early May), but it was such a fluke that it didn’t register as summer (especially because it went back to low 60s and rainy immediately thereafter).

So at this point, every time we get a blue sky, and the least bit of warmth, we’re wondering, “is this it? Is summer finally here?”

I see the endless waiting wearing on people. There is little of the late spring joy one so often sees in people hereabouts this year. Instead, there is a mopey-ness. A sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. A sense that the universe has it in for us.

Nonetheless, I believe that summer will come. This mood will lift. Then, we will all be excited and play outside. In the meantime, we’ll all just have another cup of hot tea, and hope that we’re finally approaching summer weather.

General Rabbinic spirituality

Length of Days

I’ve been thinking about the length of days in a lot of contexts recently. Whether it’s the length of daylight, the amount I can get done in a day, or the number of days allotted us before death, I seem to be encountering the issues.

I was driving home from Salem on Friday night last week, watching the last light disappear from the sky. It finally became dark enough that I couldn’t really tell that the sky was at all illumined by the sun at 10:10 PM. I came out of CubeSpace yesterday after closing, at 9:05 PM, and it was still really light. I haven’t opened CubeSpace in the dark in over a month. There is just tons more light in the day than there used to be. Yay, Light!
Somehow, the longer days aren’t resulting in me being able to achieve radically more. The number of hours in a day, and more importantly, the number of hours in a days when I can work effectively, seems to be about the same. Which is frustrating. I am getting a little more knitting done (I just finished the second sock of a pair that I’ve made for myself–pictures to follow), but in terms of real work, not as much is getting done as I would really like. So I’m going to try to step up the pace a little over the course of June, because over July and August, I suspect it will be more difficult to get work done, what with people being on vacation and all.

Finally, I’ve been doing a lot of funeral-type work this week. A funeral yesterday, memorial prayers tomorrow. Death has this way of focusing one on what really matters. Is it the day-to-day, or the big picture issues that matter more. Does it really matter if I get that phone call made, or should I spend a little more time with family? Unfortunately, in the longer-term, making the phone call may enable more time to be spent with family. Somehow, the simple comparisons never are.

I am increasingly aware of the fact that I am again. I was keeping track of a baseball game via the internet the other day, and I realized that the only player on the field who was my age or older was one of the pitcher…and that he was a knuckleballer (you can throw a knuckleball into your 50s–it’s a pitch that takes much more skill than athletic strength or stamina). Yet one more marker of my aging.

Yet as I age, I also feel myself becoming more competent and comfortable in who I am. My body may not be what it was when I was 25, but I’m happier with who I am.