Not according to the plan.

Don’t you just love it when everything goes according to the plan? Yeah, me too!

Well, this time it didn’t. I’d say it was fairly well planned. My following of said plan wasn’t bad either. I lacked neither dedication nor motivation. In fact, towards the end I felt I was ahead of the game. I was in the zone.

Today was the day I was supposed to reap the reward of the last 4 1/2 months of hard work. Two weeks ago I already had a foretaste of what was coming. As a last push of my training I pulled a long one. The last one, then just a few short and easy ones and lots of rest for two weeks.

It went like a breeze, way better than expected. My technique was getting fine tuned and I felt exuberant and was really getting excited about the race. I set my goal that sunday at 30k. I actually made it. I ran exactly 30 km, but only because I was born stubborn. The cramp in my right calf muscle at 28,5k appeared out of nowhere and wouldn’t let go.

There are times when the “no-quitter-attitude” should be used with caution. This was one of those times. It took a full week and every trick in the book before the cramps let go of its grip. The pain is still there, however.

So today, D-day I was supposed to stand among many thousand others on the starting line at Helsinki City Marathon, chomping at the bits to run 42,195 meters. The decision to pull out, I made 2 days ago, hoping and wishing to the end, but to no avail. This is part of the game, I guess. It’s all a calculated risk.

But, instead of moping about what could’ve been this day, I decided to make it a good one. Filling it with all the things that a good day is made of.

Coffee, Milkshake, Burger, Chocolate, Sun, Icecream, Sea, More Coffee. And a trip to my favorite yarnstore, to refill my stash. Time for some real therapy.

And yes, also watched the other runners push themselves to the limit. Hats off to them all!

Next time I’ll be ready.collage-2019-05-18-23_42_22

 

Smooth as silk

Another year, another birthday present. This was another fun project. Quick and uncomplicated. Rummaging through the shelves of the yarn store, I didn’t find what I was looking for. None of the colors felt right.

My frustration must’ve been noticed by the friendly lady behind the desk. I showed her a picture of the sweater I had in mind. And she knew right away. I should’ve known to ask a professional. That’s why they are professionals, because they know their stuff. She led me to the tall shelf in the corner by the window.

-I think this is what you’re looking for, she said almost in a motherly way. This is a very good thread. But, she added, I do have one that’s even better. She reached to the top shelf and handed me a bundle. I’ve never felt anything like it. Silky, was the first attribute that came to mind. Well, it was silk.

– Now, if you combine the two you get something extraordinairy. Light, smooth, but still very strong. I recommend you take both.

Silk and Mohair. It’s like mixing cream and butter. You know it’s good.

Often when a salesperson “recommends” a specific product, I automatically look at the price tag. This time I didn’t. Probably because I trusted her. She’s like that. You just know that she knows what’s best for you. She’s not just trying to get your money, she’s a professional making sure you walk out with what you need. Not until I walked out did I glance at the receipt. I balked, wondering if she got me this time.

This sweater was a quick and fairly easy one to make. The yarn itself made my hands smooth and soft.

She was right, it is light, smooth and very strong. The old proverb “A cord of three strands is not easily broken” still holds true.

Seeing and feeling the result, I know she didn’t get me. She knows her stuff and it was worth every penny. This soft fluffiness I could even imagine draping over my own shoulders on a chilly evening.

Happy Easter! 😊

Becoming a fitter knitter

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Stepping outside this morning I could tell something had changed overnight. Something felt different.
Immediately I got the feeling that today was probably going to be the day. A day that, if you live in a place with four seasons, is awaited and welcomed like nothing else. The air, although in the city, was crisp and fresh like a cold drink in the summer. Refreshing, light and pleasing to inhale.
Spring air. There’s really nothing like it.
Even though it’s not officially spring yet, the winter is gone as far as deep snow and arctic temperatures weeks on end is concerned.

Shakespeare once wrote;

“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York”

Although not summer, even by a long stretch, it still made me happy. With the rising sun on my face, I found myself humming on a cheery tune, smiled at strangers, waved at kids I met on the way.

The work day flew by with twice the speed of yesterday. The same birds from the morning walk were still at it in the afternoon. Same song, maybe even louder now, it seemed.20190226_161557-2

I found myself getting antsy on the commute and couldn’t wait to get home. I went through the details in my head, tried to plan every move ahead, as not to waste any time. The sun would be setting all too soon. Getting inside the front door, I followed my premeditated plan to the dot. Smooth like clock work. In probably less than 5 minutes, I was back outside and excitedly pressed “Start”.

“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows.”
-Forrest Gump

At least that’s how it felt. Despite the icy conditions, causing me to leap like a deer, slide like Bambi and skipping puddles like a frog, I never once fell out of rythm. I thought I would do my regular short run, but long before the turn down by the river, I made the decision to really give my legs a good stretch this time. So I turned right and chose the route twice as long.

Running never felt this good in years. The views were beautiful, as the trail followed the melting river. I felt unbeatable.
Because of the icy conditions, I knew I wasn’t breaking any records but based on how it felt in my legs, my lungs and my whole being, I didn’t, couldn’t hold back. I just kept gulping down the deliscious spring air.
I never once looked at the clock, didn’t want to know and didn’t care about the time. Still I was very positively surprised when I pushed the stop button.

I still have ways to go, technique to work on, weight to shed. But the goal is set, a few months away.
I am on my way.

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My colorful quartet

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Santa delivered this year.

These sweaters were shipped out around the world for Christmas.
The idea of making sweaters for my daughters, was born sometime late summer. I figured I’d have plenty of time completing them well before Christmas.

I am a procrastinator, hence I started too late.

I got started on the first one in early November. The last of the four was sent out 2 weeks after Christmas. I’d say that’s still quite efficient production time.

I’ve made one with the same pattern before (see “Sweating over a sweater” post) so I had a pretty good idea how long it would take. Not surprisingly, each of these took a lot less time. In fact the last one took about half the time of the first one.
I made a few changes to the pattern, each one a bit different.
For my very first one I used Drops Air yarn. I was disappointed with the quality of that yarn so this time I chose Sandnes Alpaca. Quite the price difference, but you get what you pay for.

I’ve also been trying the new Prym’s ergonomics needles with a drop-shaped point. These has a very different feel than traditional metal or wood needles. I kinda like them. However, about halfway through the fourth sweater while being in “the zone” and with stitches flying at max speed, I realised something was happening.

A few seconds later my knitting came to a screeching halt. One of the drop-shaped tips broke and fell off. I actually think speed might have been a contributing factor. The needles were in fact warm and the synthetic material felt soft. I wrote Prym an email and was asked to send them the broken needles. They promised me a new set, let’s see if they deliver.
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Making these sweaters for each of my daughters, was at the same time a walk down memory lane. With every stitch I was reminiscing and remembering, their firsts of everything. Cries and laughs, bumps and bruises, disappointments and achievements. First step, no training wheels, first and last day of school. Growing into adults, building their own nests, finding their place.

Memories of love and joy!

I am proud of the results with these sweaters. But, even more so I am extremely proud and Thankful for what these young ladies have become.
Each beautiful, independent and remarkable individuals.

I am blessed.

My new friend

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I have found a new friend.

In just a short period of time, this person has become very dear to me.

I have for a long time felt a desire to help a fellow human, to do some kind of volunteer work. During the last few years I’ve come in contact with several children and youth, who has experienced some kind of struggles in their lives. This has tugged at my heart strings quite strongly. Although I’ve often felt unable to help in any specific way, just lending a listening ear has earned a trust and created a stronger bond between us.

About a year ago, I read a story in the local paper about two people spending time together as friends, a teenage girl and an adult woman. These two persons had met through a local organisation that offers an “own buddy” system, matching an adult volunteer with a family where there’s a child or teenager who is missing an adult role model in their life.

I immediately knew that this was for me, contacted the OmaKamu (OwnBuddy) organisation and signed up. Went through a 15 hour class and background check. I was ready to go and very excited!

Because of different reasons it took quite awhile before my Own Buddy was found. After an initial meeting with a mother together with the organisation representative, the three of us agreed to meet again with her son in a park in early September. I have to admit I was more nervous than going on a first date!

A bit shy at first sight, the blond 6-year old boy was cautiously hiding behind his mother. After a minute he pulled a soccer ball out of his backpack and was ready for a kick-off! Sitting down in the grass for a break he wanted to show me his soccer card collection. While having a snack we talked about everything and nothing, like lifelong friends.

Since then we have met almost every week for a few hours of different activities. A couple of weeks ago we spent a long Saturday in the forest, together with a large group of other OwnBuddy teams playing, hiking, bbq-ing, exploring, pizza baking etc. Just having a fabulous time.

On the drive home, both of us exhausted, he exclaims; “We could be friends for the rest of our lives”

“Yes buddy, I would like that”!

During these last months with him, I’ve often thought about what this means to him and to me. I know for sure that to me it gives me way more than it takes. In fact, the only thing it takes from me is my time. I have 24 hours in a day. What would I do with these few hours every month instead of spending them with this sweet and exciting kid? Probably waste them on some silly, useless thing. Being lazy.

What does it give to me? Tremendous satisfaction. The broad smile on his face when we now meet, the tight hug around my neck from behind while we together dive to the bottom of the swimming pool, his lip-smacking sounds while eating a cheeseburger. Invaluable moments.

But most of all, knowing that I maybe somehow can make some kind of an impact on a young life, being a friend and a role model to a kid whose life did not start out on a level playing field. Priceless.

Soon enough I’ll introduce him to the art of knitting.

Happy International volunteer day! 🙂

PS. If you’ve ever thought of doing volunteer work, wondering what it’s like, give it a shot. Helping someone in need will never make you feel bad.

My long walk

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There’s this song that I keep coming back to, time and time again.

Kari Bremnes, a Norwegian singer/songwriter, has a way with words that often makes me stop and ponder.
Many of her songs are on the melancholy side, but still carry a message that resonates deep within me. I wouldn’t say that I am a melancholy person, but for the last year I’ve just about worn out one of her tracks on Spotify.

https://youtu.be/kS4xw6CH_yc


Her song E du nord? (Are you in the north?) begins with the words; (freely interpreted)
Things don’t always go
just as you had them planned
You do not always reach
the ferry you’d needed to take
You only see its lights in the distance
on the way to another place
And you who were only four minutes away
From a new beginning…

Sometimes I feel I’ve missed several “ferries” in my life, watching them sail away from me.
In a sense, the words in this song are a metaphor of what I’ve felt for the last couple of years, struggling with physical pain and the mental challenges that comes with long term pain. Not only have I not “reached the other side”, I felt that I didn’t even catch “the ferry.”

You can’t see the sun in December
the sun knows better than that
The night is eating from your day
and never seems satisfied…
Are you north in the country then?
will you just let the darkness reign
One evening, one evening
the veil is pulled away
and then comes a light of God’s grace…

Last week was the 1 year anniversary of my back surgery.
A long time before the operation, and for quite a while after, darkness was reigning in my mind. Even though positive thinking is something I’ve practised for the last years, there were times when the “night was eating from my day” like a big monster that never seemed satisfied.
There were moments when I was convinced that pain and cans of pills would be my companions for the rest of my days.
At those times knitting often kept me from despair.
But then; dawn.
The veil was pulled away and I felt relief and the “light of God’s grace.”
The pain didn’t disappear in an instant, but ever so slowly that I didn’t really notice it.
I remember the first moment of being pain free, while reaching a mountaintop in Lofoten, in northern Norway on a beautiful day this summer. I was not mentally prepared and felt gobsmacked when it dawned on me;
I haven’t felt pain for many weeks!
Emotional tears welled up in my eyes and I felt a need for a little rest.
What better way to celebrate than having a short knitting break while sending up a prayer of thanks.
I was “through the darkest of times.”
I truly felt like on the top of the world and at the top of my life, and still do.
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Knitting with a view

Another testimony to being on top physically, I felt last weekend.
For the last few years I’ve participated in a military march competition together with a few friends as a team. This is normally quite a tough race and although I was looking forward to it this year, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off.
Despite hiking all through the pitch dark night with a backpack that was way too heavy, I was thrilled to realise that I never felt any pain in my back! Even though I had to throw in the towel the next day because of other pains caused by wrong choice of footwear, I still felt like a winner.
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The winning team, finished strong without me

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Using time wisely while waiting for my morning coffee
You my friend, who struggle with pains, physical or mental or other difficulties and feel like you’re in complete darkness; hang in there, you’re not alone. One thing I tried to remind myself of during the dark times was;
Nothing ever stays the same in this life. Things WILL change! And you’re never alone! Try to focus on even the smallest ray of sunshine, and hang on to it.

You do not always reach
the land, because of changing winds
Things do not always go
just like you had thought
But in that you are not alone
we’re many who’re rowing there
and pass each other in darkness
crossing an open fjord
Are you north in the country then?
are you through the darkest of times
Spring has seen you and shoved you away
soon you’ll be on the other side

For me, exciting changes are happening and I can’t wait to take this next step.
It looks like I finally caught “my ferry”. I’ll soon begin on a new chapter, towards brand new goals.
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In the meantime I’ll keep on knitting

Knitting in the air, knitting everywhere

Some time ago I made a trip across the big ocean. Mainly to see my offspring, one granddaughter, and a couple of little grandsons that I hadn’t met before, one in the US and the other in Canada. Although I doubt they will remember our first meeting, the memory of the moment when I could wrap them in my arms, will stay with me for eternity.

Two grandsons, born by different mothers about a month apart, in two different countries. You’ld think they wouldn’t have many similarities, and at first appearance they really don’t. But after spending a few weeks with them, it became more and more obvious that the blood lines are connected. Cuddling and caring, singing and soothing, talking and laughing, I had the grandest of times.

I am sure next time we meet, they’ll already be running around chasing a ball or a puck, climbing trees or doing somersaults on a trampoline. Or maybe they’ll take up knitting at an early age. I can hardly wait to really get to know them and maybe even teach them a few stitches.

The weeks spent with near and dear ones were moments of pure joy, all too short but creating everlasting memories. Memories of times with people a world away, but people that mean the world to me.

Sitting night after night around the firepit with a friend, talking, knitting, listening, being silent -were priceless moments, forever cherished.

During the month long trip I probably knitted the most I ever have in a month. All the different places I knitted are too many to count. But what I found out was that one of my favorite places to knit was in the airplane. Instead of relying on the onboard entertainment screen to make time go faster during an otherwise boring 10 h flight, I pulled out my needles and yarn as soon as I settled in my seat. It had a calming effect, I never once was bored and time flew by, literally. Not to mention the icebreaker it created with the person sitting in the next seat. Interesting conversations.

Something must’ve gone wrong with the sales on one of the flights. Out of about 300 seats available, less than a third were occupied. At first I chose a place where I had the whole row to myself. This was nice for awhile but pretty soon I felt lonely. Walking up and down the aisles I discovered another knitter. I quickly headed back to my seat, retrieved my knitting and sat down in the empty seat across the aisle from her. After exchanging a few pleasantries, we both fell silent and knitted on. She was the quiet kind and it suited me well, I just didn’t like sitting alone in the empty aft of the plane

I only knitted two things during this whole trip. On the long flight over, I was working on my first pair of socks. Not really a fun or interesting project but I did finish them. Happy about the result, they fit the little feet and she seemed to like them.

The other thing I knitted was dishcloths. These I have done almost from the start and I like doing them. They are quick to make, don’t require much effort, I think they look cool and I like giving them away. In total I think I made close to 20 of them during the trip, a couple different patterns in many colors.

Numerous times during the trip, I was asked why I knit. I haven’t yet figured out an easy, short answer to that. After the trip I’ve had a longer than planned break. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but there’s been other things that’s gotten in the way. Maybe it’s something about the therapeutic aspect of knitting that I haven’t had a need for lately. Maybe that’s the answer to the question;

Maybe knitting has made me Mindful instead of having my Mind full.