Love at First Feel

During the 3.5 years I’ve been studying Iyengar yoga, I’ve learned the importance of having “active” feet.  I used to think that if I was standing or walking my feet were active but how wrong I was!  Activating my feet means being able to connect each toe and various parts of the sole with the ground in an intentional and purposeful way, ultilizing the 4 layers of muscles in the feet, driving the movements up above.  Usually wearing socks, shoes or slippers is like trying to manipulate your hands while wearing thick mittens; recently I discovered an exciting alternative.

I came across Jordan Vezina’s YouTube video “Kettlebell Swing Corrections” in which he describes why not to use running shoes when practising kettlebells (“it’s like doing (weight training) standing on a mattress”).  He recommends practicing barefoot or using a Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) shoe.  That piqued my curiosity.  I practise barefoot at home but thought that when I find a class, I likely couldn’t go barefoot so I started researching the very weird looking Five Fingers and learned that Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) sells two models: KSO (Keep Stuff Out), and Flow (the warmer model).

large

I’d planned to try a pair of VFFs but as I hadn’t found a kettlebell class in town, and was struggling with elbow tendonitis (a knitting-related RSI), there didn’t seem to be any hurry.  Then, much to my delight, I learned of a thrice-weekly kettlebell class here in town, and happened upon MC’s Begin 2 Dig blog posting about how fantastic he she found it to be wearing his her Flows for the past five months. My elbow isn’t yet ready for a class but knowing that I could wear the shoes walking and hiking with the dog, I picked up my KSOs on Friday; I tried them on but was in a hurry and didn’t walk around in them.  I wore them around the house on Friday night and found myself tripping over the “ring” toes when I wasn’t paying attention.  It turns out (as explained in another Begin 2 Dig posting) that one should go down a shoe size with two of the four VFF models, including the KSO.  Even so, I had happy feet while I was wearing the KSOs.

Saturday I returned to MEC to make the exchange and, as it was nearby, stopped in to view the kettlebell class in action and meet the RKC certified instructor. There were about ten people in the class and three of them were women. I learned that their lightest kettlebell is 18 lbs (as is mine).  I’m looking forward to joining the class in a few weeks once my elbow improves. 

I returned home, slipped into my KSOs and headed out for a long walk around the neighbourhood.  It was about 12 Celcius and, without socks, I noticed the cool air on the top of my feet.  That didn’t last long.  My feet warmed up very quickly even though I was only walking.  I found that walking along a gravel path was like having random reflexology.  After years of wearing shoes or slippers, I am very tender-footed but there were very few moments when I resisted putting my whole body weight on my foot because the pressure of a larger piece of gravel was too intense (no risk of puncturing the sole). 

I also walked on a packed dirt trail and the concrete sidewalk.  My feet felt great the entire time, although my 1.5 hour walk was a bit too long for a first outing in new shoes.  I developed a small blister on one heal and a hot spot on another during the last 20 minutes.  Blisters with new shoes is common for me.  I did say that I am tender-footed.  All in all, I think I’ve found my new favourite footwear.

basement_performance_minicrew_thumb

P.S. Injinji socks, which can be used with VFF shoes, are sold by MEC and others.

 

 

 

Tang-y

We’re halfway through March already and I’m just now writing again.  I will say that I’ve been busy (rock climbing, learning to use kettlebells, and reading) and having a fascinating time!

Tang in Malabrigo Worsted "Shocking Pink"

Tang in Malabrigo Merino Worsted Shocking Pink

I’m knitting Tang from Wendy Bernard’s Custom Knits and really enjoying the process of learning yet another new knitting skill.  Every project brings new knowledge: some I intend at the outset, some opportunities leap out at me along the way.   I’ve long wanted to knit set-in sleeves by picking up the stitches and knitting down to the wrist but couldn’t quite envision how short row shoulders would work.  I’ve done short row heels but they go from wide to narrow with each wrap and turn occurring after knitting fewer stitches on each consecutive row.   Set-in sleeves would be working from narrower to wider.  As well, I wasn’t sure how much armscye (a.k.a. armhole) stitches I’d pick up initially and when to incorporate the rest.

As it turns out, all the armscye stitches are picked up and knit, with markers placed at key locations to guide the short row knitting.  Each wrap and turn (wrp-t) is worked in before the next wrp-t is made.  Now it all makes sense.

Malabrigo Merino Worsted is soft and heavenly to knit, and the pink makes me think of raspberry sorbet every time I look at it (the rain was starting to fall as I took the picture so it doesn’t do it justice).  I’d planned to put a cable down the front but was enjoying being able to knit (and read) without interruption in the pattern that I decided to save the cable for the next sweater.  (I’m also sewing up my Must Have Cardi, and knitting a Honeycomb vest so I haven’t been lacking for cabling.)  

Sometimes the plainest stocking stitch sweater is surprisingly revealing of flaws.  I knit to the waist shaping and then decided to try the mechanics of knitting a sleeve.  My choice of methods for adding 5 stitches as the start of the rows of the armscye base created a bit of an unsightly mess on the inside of the sleeve seam.  I frogged back, way back to use another method. (In case you’re wondering why my sweater has no sleeves presently.)

Custom Knits really impressed me and it’s a book I’ll be adding to my own library in time – as much for the knitting skills knowledge as for the patterns.  I’m thinking of knitting her Updated Old Classic and Saddle A-Line sweaters (as my first saddle shoulder sweater).  Coincidentally,  I’ve been catching up on Kelley Petkun’s Knit Picks Podcasts and heard her interview with Wendy Bernard (Episode 87) in which Wendy discusses the creation of the book which added to my enjoyment of it.  I head Wendy is in the process of writing a new book.  I’m really looking forward to it.

This time I borrowed the book from my local library.  I stumbled upon it by keeping an eye on the “New Releases” list that is available on our library’s web site every Saturday.  I know the first three digits of the call numbers of the categories of non-fiction books that often interest me.  If I don’t have time to scan the whole list, I head to the knitting section (746.xxx) to see what our library has.  There is always a queue for new knitting books so the wait can be from a few weeks to a few months.  I request almost every new knitting book the library gets.  I don’t knit very quickly (especially given how much I frog and reknit sections) but I find inspiration in many new books and my list of projects for the future is VERY long.

Our library website has a “Suggest A Title” page, and they’ve purchased all of the titles I can recall requesting, though it can take many months.  As well, the number of new knitting books has increased dramatically in the past 2 years. It seems that the more the books get used, the more the library buys about that subject so, to all the library patrons who request a book and wait weeks or months to get it, thank you for helping to build the collection!

I think I’ll request some Lucy Neatby DVDs next.

Um. Hello? Testing…1, 2, 3.

I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind journey over the past hour or so and then abruptly and unexpectedly landed onto this stage and the bright white of the blank page has blinded me.  I planning an hour or so of blog reading when I sat down.  All that changed when I stumbled upon Christine Kane’s blog entry from yesterday. She inspired me to choose a single word intention for 2009: emerge. Then my eye was drawn to a side link entitled “18 Stupid Mistakes Bloggers Make in Their First Year” which roused my interest – though I’d never blogged. The first point “Even bothering to get overwhelmed” mentioned thinking you needs a Lens and, never having heard the phrase before, I followed the link.  (Looking back, it was like following a sign that says “this way to ‘overwhelmed'”.)

Initially I misunderstood and thought it was a quick blog page setup. Even then I wasn’t planning on starting a blog, I was just curious about the application.  I created a Lens and then realised that it’s sort of a business card or synopsis for a blog residing elsewhere.  In the process of creating my Lens I had to give my blog a title and while pondering my goals, and with my intention to “emerge” still lingering in my thoughts (“emerge and then what?”) “Emerge… and celebrate”, well, emerged.

Late in the last century I worked briefly (unpaid) on developing a web page. I took a class and learned a bit about CSS and HTML codes and never quite managed the knack of successfully uploading what I saw on my own computer to create a working web page. (On the positive side, after that seemingly endless week, I then knew not to steer my career in that direction.) 

Fully expecting a similarly unpleasant experience trying to create a blog page, I thought I’d give it 10 minutes (knowing it might become 30 or 60) and eventually be sufficiently annoyed to quash of the impulse to start a blog. I looked at a few blogs that I read until I found a couple that appealed to me, that were free, and that didn’t require a separate web host.  I signed up and suddenly a bright white screen was starting back at me.

I tell you all of this so you’ll better understand my relief and excitement when I say “Look at this! Woo hoo!” (For those of you who have already gone through this and found it to be a simple process or have not felt the need to write about it, I’m not usually the doofus this post might suggest.)

This living by intention stuff can work FAST.  Here’s one example of emerging.  I’m off to celebrate with my sweetie who has just arrived.