Friday, September 30, 2011

Learning how to blog

Blogging has been a learning experience. I follow more blogs since I’ve started blogging myself, and I found an interesting link on one of them. In the Friday finds of Epbot Jen* linked to SEO for Non-Dicks.** The post is mostly for people who are way more into webpage design than I am. My focus is knitting and yoga, but it’s good to learn tips on how to talk to more people about knitting and yoga.
The main points I learned from the post are I need to be aware of anchor-text, and you can always use more content as long as it is good. I knew I needed to keep writing. Before Skywestern Crooked turned me on to Google Reader, if there wasn’t something new on a blog twice a week I’d forget about it. Google Reader has changed that for me, I have a list of the blogs I read and it tells me whenever there’s a new one. Still, if it’s been a month since the last post, I wonder if the author has found something else to do with her time.

The real eye-opener for me was anchor-text; those are the words that turn blue that link to somewhere. I’ve often seen the link be “here” or “this”. Like you can find my blog here. And according to SEO for Non-Dicks, and the very dry Google SEO Starter Guide, anchor-text is supposed to describe what it is linking to. It makes it easier for search engines but, more importantly, it makes it easier for a reader to decide if they want to click. I’ve tried to do that, but sometimes I get carried away. I once linked every word of a sentence to a different post. It made sense at the time, but it might put people off because they don’t know where they are going to be taken.

I know this post is not pretty, and it might be a little dry, but I wanted to share with anyone who is thinking about their next blog post. And I haven’t meta-blogged in a while, so now you know what’s going on behind the scenes. Also, I need to learn how to use DH’s camera to get better pictures. But that’s a different post.***

* I don’t know Jen but, from all the geek love on her blog, she seems pretty cool. She is also funny; you should check out her other blog Cake Wrecks.

** SEO for anyone who doesn’t know, and that included me until I followed Jen’s link, is Search Engine Optimization.

***Apologies to Mr. Brown.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pride and Falling

I was so excited about having done a headstand in partner yoga that I thought, “I’ll just practice, and next class I’ll do it all by myself.”
Sometimes, I amaze myself with my ability to hurt in new and interesting ways. I sprained the TOP of my ankle. I didn’t know you could do that. Here’s how:
1. Try a headstand.
2. Fail at attaining a headstand.
3. When you fall, be sure to land really hard on the ball of your foot causing your toes to attempt to kick your own shin.
And there you have it, one sprained top of ankle.

Life and fiber goals.

I have life altering* news! DH and I went to partner yoga and I successfully did a headstand. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t last very long, but it counts. Two days after the fact and I’m still giddy at the idea. When Yoga Scott said we’d be doing headstands I had that “I’m too heavy and my arms aren’t strong enough” feeling wash over me, again. But yoga is about personal growth!  So, I tried kicking up from the tripod**, no dice. Yoga Scott suggested a different position*** I'd tried before, but hadn't felt very stable. But DH was there and I trusted him to catch me, and if I kicked him by accident he wouldn't care. So I fully committed to kicking my feet in the air and, with a little help, there it was.

In school I had always failed the physical fitness tests. I couldn’t touch my toes; I could never do a pull up; headstands were something other people did, and cartwheels were scary. I still can’t do a pull up, but I am no longer certain I will never do one. Yoga has helped me achieve things I thought my body would never do. Someday I may even attempt a cartwheel.

In other news I pulled out my wheel and finished spinning the green silk-angora-merino-alpaca.

It is soft and fairly even. I’m not sure what to do with it since there’s only about 58 yards of it. I might be able to get away with a hat. I’ll put it aside for now until the right project comes along.

Also, I started spinning up some fiber I’d gotten at Hill Country Weavers recently. Three bags full. The first I opened is a Corriedale fiber dyed a bright blue. I’ve been spinning with merino or a merino blend for a while.**** But I couldn't resist the color, so it followed me home. Wow is it different. The staple length is so much longer; I have to treadle much slower and focus on my drafting. I may end up getting a new whorl so that I can go back to the muscle movements to which I am accustomed. Difficulties aside, I do like the way it is spinning up - much thicker than my usual singles.
It is SO blue.

I did bring home some merino. I know, you're shocked.
I'm still in love with purple.
Is it gray or silver?

I can’t decide if I want to ply the purple and the gray together or separately. I tend to knit with solid colored yarn, but the gray and the purple look so good together.

My shoulder was a bit sore after the extended spinning. But, if I’m careful, I think I can get back on track to spinning myself enough yarn for a sweater. That's a goal for next year. I want to take the rest of this year to get better at the basics before I start on a long project.

*Ok so your life might not be changed, but mine sure is.
**Where your head is on the ground with your hands on the floor and you put your knees on your elbows.
*** Cupping the back of my head with my hands so that my forearms would be on the ground to help support, and then kicking up.
**** DH is sensitive to wool but merino doesn’t bother him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Random Week

This week has flown by. ACL was pretty good this year. There were way too many people; even the crowds on Friday were insane. We skipped Saturday, and lent our wristbands to friends. You aren’t supposed to do that, but we weren’t going to use them. Went back for Sunday and had a much better time. We were not in the festival mood on Friday, but having a day off revived us. Also there were bands I really wanted to see the last day. My favorites were the first and last shows we saw on Sunday, The Airborne Toxic Event and Arcade Fire.

Blurry pictures!
I know you can't tell, but we were pretty close.

They put on an awesome show.

Monday was spent gathering strength, picking up car, working a half day, and then partner yoga. DH and I have been going to Yoga Scott’s partner yoga class at Soma Vida. We’ve gone three times, and every time we go I’m pretty sure we can’t make it the next time. A couple of weeks before I knew about the partner yoga, DH and I made plans to hang with second eldest SIL weekly for trivia. Trivia is, of course, at the same time as the class. I have fun at both, but I feel healthy after yoga.  Perhaps we will be able to go to the class and then after the six weeks are up we’ll do trivia more regularly. We'll see.

Tuesday was spent crashed out re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knitting. I still wasn’t fully recovered from ACL. We are almost through season two. I wonder if the marathoning has made me more in touch with my angsty-poet-teen side. I’ve been feeling the need to get my sketchbook out and play with pastels again. Haven’t done that in years. I know the show has made me miss all my wonderful 90’s clothes. Buffy holds up, except for the prevalence of cell phones, or rather the lack there of in the show dates it. They say, “I couldn’t find her at her house or the school, where could she be?” And I think “You could just call her.”
The late 90’s don’t feel that long ago fashion wise, but then I heard an interview on NPR about the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind. That made me feel old. I didn’t get into Nirvana until after Curt was dead, but still.
I’ve gotten good enough that I can now watch TV and work on the baby blanket. I have been cheating a bit and doing the wrong-side with my right hand. I’m just about 3/8ths of the way done. My tension has changed and it looks better at the top, so now I’m thinking about ripping it out and starting over. But that’s just the OCD talking. While it is supposed to be washable, it does have a bit of wool in it and should block a little bit. I hope.

Wednesday was yoga, grocery shopping, and delayed Dr. Who watching. No spoilers here, but the episode made me teary. If you aren't watching Dr. Who go back to the reboot in 2005 and catch up. The old Who is kind of campy, and while I like the fourth Doctor, I wouldn't suggest starting from the beginning if you haven't seen the new Who. Start with the new stuff, if you get really hooked then go back and watch the old stuff.

Thursday was weight training followed by hanging out at S's, watching him play video games and playing with kitties.

Yesterday was going with my parents to see Conspirare perform music by Samuel Barber. DH liked it just fine, but I was blown away. If you are into choral music at all, you should check them out. Then DH and I came home and watched Buffy until the wee hours. Yes, we are that silly.

Today was yoga, and yarn store. I was sore before yoga and I'm still sore, but I feel good. It was a very stretchy, rejuvenating sort of yoga.  The yarn store was Hill Country Weavers, one of my favorites. Some LYSs in central Texas have been rounding up donations for those who've lost their homes in the recent fire in Bastrop. Lots of knitters lost their stash or had it damaged by smoke, just when they need comfort. The donations that they asked for were skeins of yarn that were close to the heart of the one donating. If you love it, the person who receives it will love it too.  So, I decided that the blue that wouldn't do anything right but finally turned out well was something that I loved, that someone else might love. It felt right to give that yarn to the knitters who were going through such a hard time. I had such a hard time making it, and it took a long time until I figured out how to turn it into something that I liked. But in the end it worked out. And I feel like that's a spirit I want to pass on. Things may fight you, and things may seem completely ruined. But if you work at it, sometimes, it turns out right.

Tonight we are going to see Weird Al. DH is over the moon excited and, although I'm not as big Weird Al fan, I'll have fun watching him have fun.

Friday, September 16, 2011

We interrupt this regularly scheduled knitting blog...

I have two pressing issues I must share that have nothing to do with either knitting or yoga. The first is that the Fiat 500 is fabulous.

My car is in the shop for coolant leaks, and I scheduled a rental car. They ended up giving me a red Fiat 500. I didn't ask for one, I just wanted the cheapest car for the day. But I guess something told the very nice guy at the counter that I needed to be driving this car. They also gave me the red one instead of the gray one. I didn't ask.

I love this car. I want one for my very own. Top Gear did a segment on the Abarth version and I've been lusting after one ever since. This was the first time I got to drive it.

It has so much style, and is so very Italian. When I got in the car the clock was 10 minutes late,  just so you would be fashionably late and not unforgivably on time. The visors are so small as to be practically useless. But there were mirrors on both, so you could make sure you looked cool when you drove with the windows down and said "Ciao."

I had to take a few pictures before I gave it back:
Here's what it looks like parked in my garage.
And here's the inside.
I'm sure you can find better pictures out there, I just needed to take these.

The Fiat 500 is the little red dress. You drive down the highway and feel like everybody is looking at you and admiring you for your good taste and sexiness. Too bad it was just for the day.
I did not test if the spinning wheel would fit in the back seat, but I know it would look good in the passenger seat. The candy apple red matches my wheel, but I swear that has no bearing on how I feel about the car.

The second non-yarn, non-yoga subject is Austin City Limits Music Festival, usually referred to as ACL. It starts today and I'm excited.
Today I plan on seeing: Fool's Gold, Electric Touch, a bit of Coldwar Kids, Foster the People, Gary Clark Jr., and Coldplay!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm not dead yet.

Can it really have been four weeks since I last posted? I guess it must be. It’s been a bit crazy (birthday parties, holiday, and then the state caught fire) with not a lot of knitting or spinning. But here’s what I’ve done since we last met:
The top is silk, the "green" is cotton, and the bottom is llama.
A friend saw this picture and said it looks like a monkey. Now I can't not see the monkey.
I decided to try out some of the non-wool fibers I bought a while ago. I have a new appreciation for cotton clothing. Cotton is hard to spin! I tend to make overspun yarn, not always the best way to spin, but it is a good tendency to have if you are working with cotton. The staple length is so short you have to add a lot of twist just to keep the fibers together.
Silk (white) and cotton (green) fibers.
After spinning a bit of cotton I decided that I wanted to try to spin some silk, and that felt completely different.

I’ve stalled out on the baby blanket. I’m a little over an 8th of the way through it. Not because the blanket isn’t interesting, I just got... distracted. I've made a crocheted scarf for a co-worker who was changing jobs. I remembered to take pictures of it before I gave it away; I just didn’t take very good ones.
It was windy.
At first I wanted to make a crocheted shawl, but the patterns weren’t working, and the yarn fought back. So I decided that a scarf, in one of my favorite yarns, would be just the thing.

Here's what it looks like when it's not moving.
I’ve made a few of these scarves, and they never fail to please. 

I’d promised a few people handmade items at the beginning of the year. It’s September and I still haven’t made one, so I found the yarn I’d picked out for one and thought, “I’ll bang this out over a weekend or two.”

Sometimes, I forget that I’m not the Yarn Harlot (see her recent one-a-day baby knits) and that I can’t actually “bang” anything out. So I’m halfway through the first gift and it’s feeling a little bit small. I think once I block it out (never mind that the yarn is washable and so doesn't block) it will fit the recipient. I hope. I’ll show pictures once I’ve given it away.

I’ve still got two more of these promised handmade items to make before I start on Christmas gifts. I may be crocheting gifts this year.