Well, it's been a long time since I've shared a blog post - oops! Had several in mind, but it has been a busy year! Regardless, I did make incredible progress on my astrology python program I wrote that takes your astrology chart, and generates a knitting chart from it! It took me awhile to get up the guts to start knitting it too. I finally just picked a yarn I loved (and a second, contrasting color for the second color pattern bits) and cast on! As you can see, it's pretty cool!
My plan is to turn this program into an app, where you can enter your birth info and it will generate your knitting pattern from your chart! You can just knit the pattern, but you can also go deeper and learn a bit about your astrology while you knit, or journal the experience! (Be patient, it will be awhile until this exists!)
The program still needs work; the pattern currently has a ton of errors. I plan to work on it to correct some of them, but part of the experience is trying to fit disparate pieces of yourself into a single item. The experience, is one of alchemical healing, where you have to really integrate all the parts of yourself!
If this is something that interests you, please leave me a comment! I'd love to have some beta-testers ;)
Not every January in Colorado can you say you got a sunburn. But I guess technically I was visiting Arizona when I got sunburnt. The sun was warm so we sat out in it all day. Not a bad sunburn either. We were out visiting my to-be in-laws and I got a lot of knitting time in! (See photo for progress). Finally some dedicated knitting time, and not just on the plane!
When I'm at home these days, and actually have time for crafting, mostly it has to be dedicated to wedding crafting! As I'm getting married this summer, and I have to craft a lot for it! Last night I finally got started on my bouquet, which I crocheted several flowers for. Super excited to see how that all comes together. I'll be sure to post some pics post wedding.
In the gregorian calendar, we've reached the start of a new year. This tends to get one thinking about what new things to begin, goals to set, resolutions to make, and, given that Mercury goes retrograde today, it looks like we'll have three more weeks of looking back. It's a reflective time, to look back at what we accomplished last year, and what was perhaps left undone. What we wanted to get started but didn't, or what we started but need to finish.
For me the list of things started that I'd like to pick up again, include this blog, and writing. For the last 4 months, I had lots of thoughts about things I should write about, but somehow I couldn't convince myself to sit down and do it. Still battling that confidence thing. That's a theme that came up for me a bit last year, including in my job. Astrologically it would seem to relate to some transits over my second house (mostly Scorpio) and how that applies to my self-worth.
I am pleased that I managed to finish editing a couple of videos last year, but of course there are still many more that I need to finish, and even a longer list of ones to start. I hope I can find the right combination of time and motivation to make progress on that this year.
Unfortunately I've also been plagued by stops and starts with my knitting projects in general, mostly due to a repetitive usage injury of my right index finger. I managed to find some time over the holidays to do some knitting while traveling, but knitting for 10 hours straight (literally) brought back the finger swelling, tightness and pain. Somewhere in here there is a lesson about Balance ;)
Balance, which is an art, is also an act. It's not something that is ever finished, rather it's always in motion, or better, it's always active. It's like a tensed muscle, perhaps still but activated. Tiny adjustments being made to keep things IN balance.
This year my goals aren't huge or dramatic, they are more about making the small adjustments to keep my life in balance. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at, but I want to keep improving, to build upon the foundations I have set. My fiance tells me this is typical for your 30s :) Which is good to know, that I'm on track.
For the last five plus years, I've been on a journey relearning my relationship with food. This journey began after I stopped eating gluten and stopped cheating on dairy. Cutting out those foods, which had been the primary contents of my diet until this transition, left me feeling like I had nothing.
I had known I was allergic to milk (or lactose intolerant) since second grade, but I was still able to tolerate it to an extent. So I continued to eat ice cream, milk chocolate and cheese, and switched to soy milk in my cereal.
My gluten filled diet also included pasta, cookies, crackers, bread, desserts, donuts, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, waffles, crepes, etc. I didn’t like salad and didn’t eat a lot of meat.
But I was feeling completely drained of energy all the time. I had skin issues, and tons of tummy issues. I was eating GasX like it was candy. And after continued bouts of diarrhea, I knew something wasn’t right. My mom had figured out her intolerance to gluten years ago, and she kept telling me that it was possible I was going to have to ditch the gluten too. “No!” I told her, “I can’t stop eating bread!? No Way!”
I had to do something, though. I couldn’t continue feeling terrible and sick. I went to a nature doctor and they persuaded me (practically twisted my arm, ha) to stop eating gluten and dairy for a month, to see if it made me feel better.
It was painful as hell to try to give up gluten. Like a bad breakup, every time I would see that tasty pasta dish on the menu, the rush of emotions and memories of joy followed by feelings of hopelessness and despair, knowing that instead I had to choose the salad. Sometimes I actually broke down into tears right there in the restaurant.
But I started to feel better after that month. I got an amazing amount of energy back. I've never been the same since, actually. And now, more than 5 years later, I don't cry at restaurants any more, lamenting over the ravioli I can't eat, or the dessert I can't get.
It's such a different world to live in. I used to be pretty picky. Didn't even like food of different types to touch on my plate or the edge of toast. Now my favorite meals are all mixtures, casseroles, stir frys. So funny. Oh, and they are almost entirely made up of meats, vegetables, and healthy fats. I Whole30 or Paleo to the best of my ability. I try to give up sugar (which is still really, really hard) and soy and even the non-gluten grain foods.
I try to convince friends and family (sure, even new acquaintances) of the benefits of feeling good. "I can't do it," they tell me, "I can't give up bread! Are you crazy?!"
I know that. I was there. I refused to believe that the delicious bread in my life could be making me feel like crap. But it was.
I was becoming a brand new person. All in the name of feeling good. Maybe it's just natural, getting older, wanting to maintain your health as long as you can in this toxic world. But as much pain as it was to give up all the goodies - and it was, mental, physical and emotional pain - feeling good is worth it.
For my day job, I'm a computer scientist. Which means, amongst my duties, one is writing code. I enjoy that part very much. When I went to school for it, I also earned a certificate in Cognitive Science, an interdisciplinary field incorporating Computer Science, Psychology, Linguistics, Neuroscience and Philosophy. Which pretty much encompasses all of my favorite topics.
My career path has often circled around a particular theme, one of 'maps'. In fact I started out on a research project named MAPS (Memory Aided Prompting System) which was a mobile application (back before mobile devices were ubiquitous) that allowed caregivers to configure a set of visual and audio prompts for people with developmental disabilities. After college, my first job was for a GIS (geo-spatial information systems) company, working on proprietary software that enabled searching and mapping out everything involved with gas and electric utilities on digital maps. While I was there, I almost took a job in another area I have a strong interest, genetics, working on mapping the genome. This was similar to a college project where I helped create a application that matched up rat, mouse and human genomes.
So I've always been passionate about 'mappings'. And I love reading about the human brain. There are a lot of similarities between computers and brains, and I love drawing connections between as many things as possible. Just as computers run on code, I believe life does too. And this reminds me of course of astrology, which is like a star map of the cosmos, drawing connections within and between human life.
Speaking of code, I find that knitting patterns are written in a specific language, one that is encoded. I was once asked if I could encode secret messages in knitting patterns. That made me laugh - but sure! I told him. And that has made me think, what if we encoded particular intention into our knitting? I believe we already do, when we knit something for someone's baby, or knit a gift, aren't we encoding the intention of spreading love and sending appreciation to that person? What if we could apply what we know about astrology and encode healing into our knitted items? Take it up a notch!
That my friends, is my ultimately missions with Astraknots. I've already started a process of mapping the various elements of astrology - signs, planets, aspects, etc - to their seemingly connected fibers, colors, stitch patterns, etc. I've gathered these connections thru research, and since there is no authority on the subject, I've also utilized my strong intuition.
I'm striving to not hold myself to perfection on the matter, because I've been working on this project for several years now, and it may never come out into the world if I keep waiting to get it just right.
And so, I invite you to join me on this journey. If you have knowledge of Astrology, or the fiber arts, to help me refine these connections and see what healing and beauty we can create in the world. Let me help draw the 'map' that will lead us all to spreading more love in the world, one stitch at a time.
Thinking about it, when I googled for this combination, not much turned up in my results. Now I'm catching up on my reading - my favorite magazine, the Mountain Astrologer. Every time I read a deeply inspiring article, it brings me back to this desire to write about the connection of knitting and astrology, two of my favorite studies.
But I am amiss because I lack confidence in whether or not I know enough about Astrology to write about it. The writers of these articles seem to know so much more.
In contrast though, when I find someone with some interest in the topic, I am able to talk about it to seemingly no end. And the more I read about how to interpret it more fluidly, perhaps I should give myself more credit. Sitting here now I'm wondering what aspects in my chart give rise to this lack of faith in my skills. It must be one of the many squares in my chart. Perhaps the Venus square Saturn, or Moon square Mars. Or is it the lack of planets in the northern hemisphere of my chart altogether?
Perhaps it isn't lack of faith in my abilities or knowledge at all, and rather my indecisiveness. Or ability to dream but, without structure, difficulty in follow thru. My sun is in Pisces after all, a dualistic sign. And with a stellium in Libra, midheaven in Gemini, I've got plenty of air to float around dreaming in. My Capricorn Moon and Venus though do seem to drive me to accomplish a fair amount. Not to mention all the energy stirred by my Mars, Saturn, Pluto conjunction. Well, these are all guesses, I'm not even sure I know what I'm talking about!
I do know I had an astrological reading once that said I should write, and that it might help some people. Helping people is definitely one of my higher aspirations (north node in Cancer, Virgo rising, Pisces Sun). And apparently my Pluto trine Sun are also forming a grand trine with my midheaven.
Maybe I just dive in and see what happens. I hesitate against using any word sorcery against myself to hint that my readership is so low that my success or failure matters to very few... but then again that may just be another expression of self-deprecation to which I haven't yet identified the associated astrological aspect.
It's funny, because I do feel that I know a thing or two about knitting, and I am able to write about it to no end without all the self-judgement. I don't claim to know it all, by any means, I am a student of the fiber arts just as of Astrology. Perhaps something will come of my desire to link the two. Guess we shall find out together!
It's been a whole month without knitting for me, as I still have a sad index finger. I'm traveling tomorrow though and I always knit on the plane, so I may breakdown and just suffer the consequences...
Today I went to JoAnn Fabrics for some craft supplies, and right as I was checking out a lady walks in the store and asks if there was anyone who could help with a knitting problem. The cashier promptly told her that everyone in the store was busy. So I chimed in, 'What's your knitting problem?' ;) Her problem was a pretty common occurrence - set the needles down too fast and something got messed up. She knew what she was supposed to have, and had tried to fix it, only making more of a mess.
I helped her right there at the counter, gave her my card and recommended she contact me for a class or further help, and definitely check out my website for some helpful videos.
I left the store with a smile feeling like I've done my good deed for the day, and it didn't hurt if I drummed up a little business. And as usual when I help out a knitter in need, I got lots more ideas that I want to add for help videos, etc on the website. So hopefully I'll get to implement some of them soon!
In the meantime, please check out my Fix It videos, or if you want in person help, check out my list of upcoming classes for the fall at the Recycled Lamb in Golden, CO. I also do private lessons and help sessions, just shoot me an email for more info!
Unfortunately, my right hand index finger has been bothering me for a couple of months now. The doctor says it is a usage injury to the tendon. And given that soft tissue takes 4-6 weeks to heal, and I type for a living, it might be a long recovery! So I have to slow down on my knitting. I'm actually typing this with my finger taped to its 'buddy'.... Sad finger!!
As a result of this, I've had to stop progress on my community knitting stash busting blanket!! I was making good progress on it. Hopefully I'll be able to have my finger well enough soon to work on the witchy shawl project, 'cause the yarn for that is nice and super lightweight... but I'm going to try to rest the finger for awhile.
Which brings me to my ADVICE section of this blog post - stretch those hands and fingers when doing a bunch of knitting!! It is really good for them if you can stretch them out. Try these 'handy' stretches (hehe):
I started knitting in 2005, but have been crafting all my life. Knitting quickly became my obsession and I love to keep the needles in my hands as much as possible.