A Burgeoning Obsession: Fingerless Mitts

I used to think that fingerless mitts and gloves were, well to be honest, weird.  I just didn’t get them.  I mean, why make, buy or wear something that only did half a job??

Oh, naïve Me.

I knitted my first pair of fingerless mitts despite these ill-formed beliefs primarily because I didn’t feel quite ready/skilled enough to knit a full pair of gloves and wanted to practice a bit first.  Needless to say, once I knitted them, I realized how deluded I had been.  Fingerless mitts are fantastic!  I just finished making my third pair (my favorite so far) and I can’t get enough.

mitts 4

Not only are they just plain fun as a fashion accessory, but they actually do a complete and wonderful job – it’s just a DIFFERENT job than the one full gloves or mittens do.  I’ve mentioned before that I have Raynaud’s Phenomenon.  It’s an awful thing and even when I’m indoors at work, my fingers, while not in full-on Raynaud’s dysfunctional immobility mode, are still quite cold.  I tried wearing gloves in my office, but typing became a bit problematic.  After fumbling with my keyboard and typing words with so many errors that they didn’t even resemble English, I knew gloves and work were not going to co-exist harmoniously.

Enter fingerless mitts.

Now, obviously, they don’t cover all parts of my fingers, so I still have some cold and discomfort, but the additional warmth on the majority of my hand really does make some difference.

Plus, they’re fun to knit.  Many knitters have favorite things to knit.  Some knitters always have a pair of socks on the needles, others live for hats.  At least for right now, these are my becoming my go-to project.

These newest ones are made from the Pine Court Mitts pattern by Shannon Squire.  It’s a fantastic pattern and, even better, written by the owner of my very own local yarn store, Twisted, which is an amazing LYS.  They’re not too chunky, which I like, and the cabled detailing is enough to make them interesting and fun, without being too busy on the eyes (hence not detracting from or clashing with whatever I might be wearing on any given day).  I used a beautiful random yarn that I picked up in a clearance bin.  The bit of cashmere in it makes it unbelievably soft and cozy on my hands and the variegated grey colorway is endlessly versatile.  Frankly, I couldn’t be happier with these.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m not eager to cast on the next pair!

Holiday Gift-Giving is What Drives Knitters Completely Mad, Right??

I was one of those knitters this year that decided to gift handmade goods to everyone on my holiday giving list.  While I can honestly say that I am glad that I did so and I enjoyed all the making of items for others, I can also honestly say that it was a wee bit stressful.

Some of my creatively handmade gifted items this year!

Some of my creatively handmade gifted items this year!

Sure, it starts out all giddy excitement – picking patterns and yarn and imagining spotless, perfectly knitted pieces of lovingly created craft wrapped up beautifully, waiting to be opened by their recipients with delight and care.

But it comes to an end with needles frantically clicking together, items stretched out, blocking all over the apartment (leaving little room to walk), you taking clandestine trips to coffee shops where you knit speedily in secret away from those in your home who are receivers of said gifts, and wrapping up items quickly, pushing cats off the wrapping paper and frowning with stress over all the errors you notice (a purl instead of a knit here, a slight snag in the yarn there, that one stupid row where you forgot to slip the first stitch and knitted it instead!), until you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve put together sad excuses for gifts that would be fine if they were coming from a third-grader who goes to a Waldorf school and learned to knit that term, rather than a 32-year old woman who has been at the craft for a couple of years now and spent weeks working on them.

Phew.

But, really, I AM glad I did it.

Irregardless of the imperfections and unsure of which items will be put to good use and which may be tossed into the dark recesses of a closet, I AM glad I did it for a Knitting vintage girlcouple of reasons.  Each handmade item was crafted with thought for the intended recipient.  Instead of heading to the mall and buying whatever gifty things were marketed to the masses, I did take the time to consider each recipient and personalize something specifically for each of them.  I also supported local, small businesses with my crafted gifts.  Supplies used either came from my stash of yarn (which had been previously purchased locally) or was bought fresh from local yarn and craft stores.  And I am proud to share something that I love to do with others in my life.  Like me, the items may not be perfectly crafted, but they are full of good intentions and the spirit of generosity.

Also, of course, now that it’s all over, selfish knitting can take over!  Now begins a few months, at least, of sorting through my Ravelry library and queue and cozying up to items that I can toss around my own neck, slip onto my own hands, and sprinkle throughout my apartment.  Exciting stuff is in the works, indeed!

Why Wednesdays? – Why Creativity Counts #5: It Connects Us

A Note about This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.

I’m an introvert, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like feeling connected to others. I generally seek connections that are meaningful and serve a purpose – connections that provide opportunities for fun, joy, laughter, learning, growing, and so on.

photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc

I make connections in a variety of ways, but I often find that one method of connection that frequently makes itself apparent is through creativity. Something that I find truly exciting about these particular connections is that they cross over so many dimensions. I connect with people living and deceased (I’ll explain more – I’m not talking about séances, here!), people near and far, people young and old, people that I never would have imagined having anything in common with, and I owe it all to a shared sense of creative spirit.

I have connected through creativity in some of the obvious, physical ways – meeting people through a knitting class, a cooking demonstration, or the like – but through more subtle means, as well. The blogosphere is one fantastic means of this, as I’m sure many of you know. The practice of sharing one’s words and images on a blog is most definitely a creative act, and a rewarding one at that. Though I haven’t laid eyes on the writers of the blogs I follow and the readers of my own, I have made connections through shared stories, recipes, and pictures. Though I haven’t shaken your hand or shared a cup of coffee with you, regular readers of this blog likely know me better than those who share an office space with me for 40 hours a week.

photo credit: Julie70 via photopin cc

I’ve been pleasantly surprised when I read another’s writing, feel touched by it, and then read more about the person to discover they are of a different generation, nationality, political affiliation, gender, and so on. It reminds me that (regardless of differences and perceived barriers) a mutual interest, an inspired spirit, and willingness to share them both can connect even the most opposite of individuals.

Some of the most interesting connections to me are those to the past – to those I never had an opportunity to know or communicate with

Eve by Rodin

directly, but to whom I feel connected through the creative products they have left behind. A great example of this occurred recently. I had the opportunity to visit the Detroit Institute of the Arts. As I wandered through the museum, I was moved by various pieces of art. One piece in particular, ‘Eve’ by Rodin, really struck a cord with me. Standing still and quiet with that piece, I felt connected to the history of it, to the feeling that it conveyed which seemed still as relevant now as it was decades ago. That one piece, born out of a sense of creative energy by a single person has likely impacted thousands of others. How amazing is that?!

Creative acts may be fleeting or lasting, but either way, they are an incredible tool for connection. I’ll never forget the feeling that Rodin’s piece brought me. Or the memory of my grandmother patiently teaching me how to sew a stitch carefully. Or the childhood excitement I shared with others over stories that fostered my imagination. Or the sense of understanding I feel when I listen to certain music. The energy that goes into a creative process doesn’t stop when an end product is complete. It moves on, linking people and making connections that, so often, the creator never even thought possible. If that’s not important, I’m not quite sure what is.

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Previous Entries in This Series:

Why Creativity Counts #4: It’s Handy When You’re Cheap and Broke Frugal

Why Creativity Counts #3: Self-Sufficiency

Why Creativity Counts #2: It Makes You Smarter

Why Creativity Counts #1: Because It’s So Much More Than You May Think

A Big Thank You and Lots of Blog-Love

I am thrilled to say that Laura over at Cook to Love nominated this here blog for the Sunshine Award!  I’d like to give a big thanks to Laura (who has great things going on over at her own blog, by the way).  I’m still somewhat new to the blogging community and I am so appreciative of the warm welcome I have received from so many of you!

As a recipient of the Sunshine Award, there are a few guidelines to follow.  Recipients are asked to provide a link to the blogger who made the nomination (see above), nominate 10 other bloggers, and answer a few questions about myself.  Below you will find both the completed questionnaire and the fellow bloggers I have nominated.

Happy Weekend!

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10 Questions:

1. Who is your favorite philosopher?

This is tough, as I don’t know that I have a single favorite.  I love wise progressive, feminist minds such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft and Judith Butler.  I’m also a fan of Foucault.

2. What is your favorite number?

I don’t have one.  Truly.

3. What is your favorite animal?

Cats.  All kinds of them, but specifically these two:

Grady

Eliza

                                                                                                                                                

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter?

I don’t tweet and I have only a personal Facebook page.  If you’re interested in it, just let me know.

5. What is your favorite time of day?

Dinner time.  Actually sitting down at a table to enjoy food and company is a semi-short, but much welcome break from the busyness of a normal day for me.

6. What was your favorite holiday?

Before Mr. Move Eat Create and I moved to Portland, we came up to visit and make sure it’s where we wanted to be.  The instant feeling of belonging and ardor that I felt for the city was fantastic.

7. What is your favorite physical activity?

Running.  Clearly.

8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Coffee.  Strong, black coffee.

9. What is your favorite flower?

I change my flower love on a whim.  On any given day, I’m in love with whatever is at the farmer’s market or outside of New Season’s Market.

10. What is your passion?

Learning.  In whatever form it takes – formal education, reading an article, chatting with someone about interesting topics – I never want to stop learning.

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And, the nominations go to . . . . .

veggiereader

domesticities

Emily Cooks Vegan

Andrea’s Garden Cooking

The New Pioneers

Tenacious Dee

on the lam(b)

Plant Based Diet Adventures

Health on the Run

beautifullittlesarajevo

Why Wednesdays? – Why Creativity Counts #3: Self-Sufficiency

A Note about This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.

I have no illusions about being a completely independent, self-sufficient person.  I know that I will always rely on the skills and talents of others to get through my life.  When my toilet breaks, I’m calling a plumber.  When I want to travel, I’m putting myself in the hands of a trained pilot.  When my computer breaks, I’m shouting for help from Mr. Move Eat Create.  You get the idea.

But as sure as I am in the necessity of calling upon others for their abilities, I’m just as sure that stretching my own talents is useful, practical, and enjoyable.  I want to be as self-sufficient as possible.  I want to know how to do things and to not be afraid to try, for better or worse.  Drawing upon my creative-self to become more self-sufficient just makes sense for a number of reasons.

Photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc

I’m a pretty independent woman, don’t you know?  When I don’t know how to do something that (in my mind) seems simple, it upsets me.

No.  Wait.

It pisses me off.  Yes.  That’s more accurate.

So the more creative I get with my abilities; the more handy I become; the more adventurous and clever in my talents; the more independent I am and the less pissed off I am.  It’s simple, really.

When I was getting ready to turn 30 I freaked out.  I had some very serious early-mid-life crisis action going on.  And then it happened.  The big day came and I was still a mess for a bit.  Now I am 32.  In those two years, a lot has happened to change my view about being a woman in my thirties and one of the biggest factors has been reflecting upon how much I know and how many things I can do that I couldn’t do just a few years ago.

And, I undoubtedly owe most of it to finding my creative side and letting it prosper.

Things I couldn’t do in my twenties:

  •             Cook. (Okay, I could make grilled cheese sandwiches and mashed potatoes.  Not exactly an extensive repertoire.)
  •             Knit.
  •             Sew on a button.
  •             Organize a useful pantry.
  •             Develop a fitness routine that kept me engaged.
  •             Make a tasty cocktail.
  •             See so much beauty in nature.
  •             Make a homemade greeting card.
  •             Make my own scented body scrub/bath salts.
  •             Put together an attractive outfit from thrift store finds.

Things I can do in my thirties:

  •             All of the above.
  •             More.
  •             Be damn proud of myself for it.

Photo credit: [ henning ] via photopin cc

I used to be envious of my obviously creative friends.  My friends who decorated their homes with their own artwork, wore clothes sewn in their dining rooms, threw beautiful gatherings on their cleverly lighted patios and painted their own furniture.  Now I just recognize that I needed more time to find my creative streak.  I was busy doing other things and that’s okay.  You know why?

I was just saving these particular adventures for this decade.  My thirties don’t look so bad anymore.

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Previous Entries in This Series:

Why Creativity Counts #2:  It Makes You Smarter

Why Creativity Counts #1:  Because It’s So Much More Than You May Think

Why Wednesdays? – Why Creativity Counts #2: It Makes You Smarter

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.

Exercising the creative part of your brain is a great IQ booster.  I mean, I don’t actually have any research or statistics to present to you today to support my claim, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.  I’m CERTAIN that I could find some if you really wanted me to.

But for now, I will make this claim based on my own personal experience.  Because that’s valid in its own right . . . right?

As I see it, being creative provides me with a huge mental boost.  Making connections, thinking of things in new ways, learning new skills – all of these activities get my little neurological synapses firing away.  As someone who loves to learn and get education in various formats, I’ll also attest to the fact that exercising creativity is one of the best free (or at least low-cost) forms of education we can get. Learning in traditional environments is great, but as we get older, it’s often difficult to continue to get that sort of education.  It’s costly, we have other obligations on our time and, quite frankly, at some point, you may just learn the same things over and over again.

But, being creative – picking up a cook book, following along with an online tutorial, taking a community class, getting a book from the library on DIY – these avenues for learning are generally accessible and provide endless possibilities.  And I have no doubt that accessing these resources has increased my own mental capacity.

You want examples, eh?  No problem.  Here are a few:

Craft

You all know that I’m a knitter.  I bet non-knitters don’t realize how much math can be involved in the craft – I know I sure didn’t!  What happens when I see a pattern that makes a 22-inch circumference hat using size 8 needles and worsted weight yarn, with a cast-on of 96 stitches and I want to use DK weight yarn that I already own and make the hat for someone with a 19-inch head????  Math happens – that’s what!

Being able to make conversions such as these (and this is pretty basic one) is a great exercise in brainpower.  I have oodles of respect for knitwear designers who create complex patterns using an amazing amount of numerical-based talent.  It’s serious business.  I’m quite certain this extends to other crafts beyond knitting, as well.  Sewing, painting, drawing, sculpting, et cetera all can be improved by learning about other disciplines, such as mathematics and natural sciences.

Cooking/Baking

Cooking has taught me so much about the world.  When I’m looking at recipes and whipping up new meals, I often come across ingredients and dishes that are unfamiliar to me.  My curiosity naturally kicks in and off I go to learn about these items.  The tidbits and pieces of information that I have picked up about cultures, history (the history of certain foods – spices, salt, olive oil, etc is fascinating) and societies has enriched my general knowledge base time and time again.  And, you’d be surprised how many trivia questions you’ll be able to answer with what you learn!

Practicing Any New Creative Skill

I’ve accessed various methods for taking courses that have taught me new skills.  I’ve taken community ‘Learn to Sew’  and ‘Learn to Knit’ classes, used the Internet for online craft-related courses, and taken a local pasta making class all in the name of pursuing creative endeavors.  I haven’t become an expert at all of these things and likely never will, but I HAVE put my brain to work during each event.  Practicing a new creative skill, something that is generally unfamiliar to me, makes my brain work in different ways and builds new mental connections.  I may not be someone who enjoys making pasta dough from scratch on a regular basis, but learning about how the ingredients in dough react to one another, to temperature, to manipulation, this increases my knowledge of science.  Chemistry, my friends, was one of my least favorite subjects as a student – but teach me chemistry through food and cooking and I’ll learn more then I ever did in a high school laboratory.

These are a few examples in a whole world of creative activities that have enriched my mental capacity.  A personal goal of mine is to remember that there is always more to know.  There is always more that I can understand about the world and all of us in it.  My creative pursuits constantly help me to both feel smarter and more knowledgeable, but also remind me that I always have more to learn.

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Previous Entries in This Series:

Why Creativity Counts #1:  Because It’s So Much More Than You May Think

Why Wednesdays? – Why Creativity Counts #1: Because It’s So Much More Than You May Think

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.

I’m not sure if others can relate to this, but for the longest time I was really confused about creativity.  I didn’t actually know that I was confused at the time.  In fact, I thought I had it all figured out.  I’ll take you through it.

When I was young, I learned that there were essentially two types of people.  Left-brained versus right-brained.  A-type versus B-type.  Creative versus not-so-creative.  I easily classified myself as a left-brained, type A, not-so-creative person.  I was analytical, for sure.  I was no doubt a rationale person.  A planner.  I still am.  That piece of my identity, I was not confused about.  The problem was that I had essentially learned that being such a person was mutually exclusive from being a creative person.

And learning this ‘truth’, I short-changed myself.

In elementary school, creativity occurred in art class.  Those that excelled could sketch with talent and paint with beauty.  Those that didn’t (i.e. me) slapped stuff on a paper and waited out the tortuous period, anticipating the bell to ring.

In high school, creativity occurred in electives.  There was art again.  But there was also photography, drama, and music.  My vision of what it meant to be creative expanded – but just ever so slightly.  I tried these things.  I really did.  And, I generally failed miserably.  I still couldn’t create anything beautiful from chalk or pencils or paint.  I was way too insecure and shy to get on a stage, and musical instruments were like foreign objects to me.  If it wasn’t a triangle with a little wand to hit it with, I wasn’t going near it.

By the time I reached early adulthood, I was entrenched in the mindset that I was simply not born with creative ability and would never obtain it.

It wasn’t my thing.  When I thought about it, this disappointed me, but it was something I accepted.

But oddly enough, as I moved through the world, met other people, read new things, and took different jobs, I realized just how confused I had been about what it means to be creative.  Creativity is not limited to art or theater.  Creativity is a mental process.  It’s a method of thinking and living that involves exploring new concepts, generating ideas, trying new things, and being adventurous in experimenting with thoughts and actions.

Once I understood this, it became clear to me that I am a indeed a creative person AND a type-a, left-brained, planner, too.

I’m creative when I problem-solve with clients at work about how to make their lives more safe and comfortable.  I’m creative when I wade through my apprehension to see what it feels like to work a sewing machine.  I’m creative when I see a recipe and start thinking about what spices to swap for one another and what vegetables I might want to use that aren’t included in the instructions.  I’m creative when I read a book and let my mind wander into a world of fantasy or when I generate ideas for blog post while out on a run.

I am creative all the damn time.

Seriously.

I bet you are, too. And, you may not even notice it.

My creative pursuits are most evident these days in my knitting, cooking/baking, and writing.  (By the way, I’ve always been a writer, but never thought of it as creative.  Since I generally wrote non-fiction-type things I didn’t think it counted.  Funny.)  But, as I’ve shared, it shows up all over the place.  Some of my most creative moments don’t necessarily have any tangible end-product.  Brainstorming with co-workers and solving problems with clients is a whole world of creative energy in its own right.

Moral of this story?

It took me to practice creativity in my thinking to understand what creativity really is.  Doing so has opened up a whole new sense of self and a fascinating abundance of possibilities.

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To read the previous series in this column, select the ‘Why Wednesdays’ tag in the right side column.  The prior series in this column explored the topic of running.