Reality Check

Recently I had to have some photos taken of me in Yoga clothes. Looking thru those photos was definitely a reality check.

Fact is…I’ll be celebrating my 49th birthday this year.  Most of the time I can conveniently forget that. Afterall, I don’t feel like I’m in my late forties, in many ways I feel like I’m still a 20-something with my life ahead of me.  I can mentally select what I notice in the mirror, but photos seem to make everything visible, even the aspects of my physical self that I would like to ignore.

Of course photos aren’t the only way I’m getting a reality check.  This past year more of my work involves sitting for hours in front of the computer or sitting crocheting.  Either way I’m leading a much more sedentary life than I was 2 years ago, and I am noticing the difference.  I have more aches and pains, I’m gaining weight and I’m losing muscle mass.

So that makes me wonder, is this just what happens as we age? Should I just accept that the rest of my life I’ll be living with these issues? Was my Mom right, and every thing after 50 is just “patch, patch, patch”? For those who know me well, you already know my answer.

I’m fighting back.  I’ve already been making efforts to become more active in my life, interspersing physical activity through-out my day.  I now  have a tread-mill that I walk on for at least 20 minutes each morning.  With our family adding a dog to the mix I get out and play ball with her and take her for walks as well.

I have plans for more physical activity as well, especially with summer finally arriving…hiking and swimming with my kids and yard work.

But exercise, though important, it isn’t the only change I’m making. My Chiropractor told me about a book called “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. that I am currently reading.  It is very interesting, discussing how our physiology isn’t really in sync with the modern diet.  The argument is we are basicially Stone-age beings living in the Space Age.

The Paleo diet consists of eating like our Stone-age ancestors; lean meats, fruits and non-starchy vegetables.  I’m very impressed by the information Dr. Cordain presents in his book. I have already discovered that I do better health-wise by eliminating wheat and gluten from my diet.

I’m a little leary about the amount of lean meat the diet recommends, but I know I’ll be happy with eating all the veggies and fruit I want.  The hardest part will be eliminating the sugars and salts I love.  His recommendations for the diet do include an occassional “cheater” meal, but I don’t know how easily I can adapt.

So I  have decided to conduct an experiment on myself.  I will be incorporating the Paleo diet into my eating life-style. Hopefully even convincing my husband and children to join me.  And I’ll be blogging about my progress as I go along.

My Crochet Companion

I am insanely crocheting away on a super secret project which involves 10 designs, and 2 of them have to be shipped today. It is past midnight so counts as today already.

My companion in this madness is my wonderful new 4-legged kid, Kenna. She loves to curl up on her cushy round bed beside my work area in the living room.  I have discovered this past week that she can snore like a real champ.

She is also very good at making me take regular breaks, since she wants to go outside for exercise and such.  I may end up with a rotator cuff injury throwing the ball for her to chase.

A Very Sharp Edge

As much as I love to crochet I have another craft I love that compliments crochet nicely. I sew. 

Lately most of my sewing has been about making project bags for my crochet endeavors, or linings for crochet projects.  Sewing isn’t as portable as crochet, and that is the reason I spend less time sewing lately.  My life is full of “on-the-go” situations and crochet can accompany me everywhere.

When I do sew, the biggest part of the task isn’t really the sewing…it’s the cutting out the fabric in the shapes to be sewn.  I am fortunate that I have a big table that is tall enough that I can cut at it without hurting my back.  Best of all it has a cutting mat on it so I can use my rotary cutter.

Rotary cutters are a necessity if you are doing more than cutting a single short line. Scissors are certainly an efficient means of cutting fabric, but they begin to take a toll on your hands after a while. It is also more difficult to get a clean cut with scissors, since you need to have the blades on either side of the fabric.

With a Rotary cutter, the blade slices thru from top to bottom with minimal disturbance of your fabric. Of course the sharper the cutter the easier it is to cut your fabric.

Which leads me to my least favorite part about rotary cutters. Their blades are very sharp and it is easy to cut yourself with them without even realizing it.  I have learnt the hard way not to use my rotary cutter when I am tired or distracted.

One safety feature I like about my Fiskar Rotary cutter is that the blade is retractable. This is nice from the standpoint of avoiding cutting myself, but it also helps keep the blades sharp longer as it isn’t bumping against other implements in my work basket.

I’ve had my rotary cutter for quite a while, so if you are looking to purchase your own rotary cutter there may be some better ones available now.  Either way, a nice sharp rotary cutter and mat can help keep your hands happy during your next big fabric cutting project.  Just remember to be careful of that very sharp edge.

Stretchy Fabric

One of the complaints about crochet fabric that I hear from lots of folks is that it isn’t stretchy enough.

My response is, you need to use the right stitches and stitch patterns (the yarn you choose has a big influence as well).

For solid stitch work that creates a stretchy fabric try my favorite stitch,  the Half Double Crochet – abbreviated “hdc”. That is the US crochet terminology for it, I think that it is called a Half Treble in the UK.

The hdc has been my go-to stitch for hats for years now.  Especially worked in spiral rounds, like the hats I made for my sons this past Christmas.

I just enlarged my Little Bitty Noggin Cap pattern by using worsted weight yarn and adding a few more increase rounds. To create even more visual interest I worked a few rounds in black to make a stripe just above the brim.  When I make a hat with worsted weight yarn I use a Size H (5mm) hook for a denser fabric.

The hdc is very simple to work.

To start the stitch, wrap the yarn once around your hook (just like you do with a Double Crochet), then insert into the space or stitch you are working on.  Wrap the yarn around your hook (YO – yarn over), pull thru a loop.  You now have 3 loops on the shaft of your hook. YO again and pull thru all the loops.

You just made a half double crochet.

Give it a try in your work and see if you like the stretch you get with this stitch.

Happy May Day!

Yikes! I just about missed it this year.

When I was a little girl we would make little paper baskets and fill them with flowers, then place them on neighbor’s doors. We would knock then hide…not really sure why or where we got the idea. It was lots of fun to brighten someone’s day with some pretty flowers though.

So here are some pretty flowers for my readers. Lilacs are my very favorite flowers, for me they are the scent of May.  I took these shots at the Denver Zoo recently, the white lilacs were really wonderful smelling.

The month is already shaping up to be a busy one here.  It’s the last month of school for my boys and I have sold a bunch of projects that are due this month and next month.   

If I can grab a bit of time in the next few weeks I hope to create another fun little flower pattern before the end of the month. I will try not to neglect the blog too badly, but if I’m absent you’ll know where I’m off to.

Hope May is a month of renewal and happiness for all of you.