What not to do at your meditation retreat

Well.. there are a lot of things, but as far as the technique of meditation is concerned thinking about stuff is by far the last thing you should be doing. The point is when your meditating, observing your natural breath or body sensations, and a thought comes along you should, upon realizing it, give it no importance and focus back on the meditation… immediately. This turned out to be a most difficult task for me this time around. Not that it isn’t usually a challenge for everyone. It’s just that this time it was truly the biggest roadblock to my progress. The good news it that I managed to figure out a way to be accepting of the fact that I was having said difficulty and use it as a means to develop more equanimity. Anyway, the better news, at least for the blog, is that I had some great fibery breakthroughs and project ideas while sitting on my cushion.

First off, like you Jill, I do not own a swift. I must say, I have by now pretty much collected most any fancy tool I might need for basic fiber related activities. Except this one. Not sure why I haven’t gotten one yet. Has nothing to do with $$ cause god knows I’ve spent plenty on other stuff. And I’ve certainly needed one, desperately at times. OG’s a good sport about winding and I’ve even managed to recruit my best man-buddy Craig to help out too. But, really, this is not the best way. It think it may have to do with the fact that I just haven’t seen one that really appeals to me. Although I did really fall in love with the upright swift that Mindy won at the county fair. (Must email her for more info!) Anyway, so I was sitting on my cushion and wondering about winding my next skein of lacewight for the Pi Shawl and imagining how I might do it without any assistance. I had seen online a while back a contraption dreamed up by someone out of a 2 liter soda bottle and a bunch of wire hangers. Not gonna happen for me since I don’t drink soda and I just purged my wire hangers in my recent move. Then I had the brilliant, or so I thought, idea to take two lay kates (Yes, I own two lazy kates but no swift. The wonders never cease…) with empty bobbins thinking that the skein would easily spin round and round if I used enough tension between the two kates. This might possibly work with heavier yarn, but to my disappointment, not laceweight. Then I started thinking about the upright swift and how the “bobbins” are like cages so the skien has a large circumfrence to grab onto in order to facilitate turning and how possibly the gravity part might help. So this is what I came up with…

One papertowel tube and two magnetic towel bars stuck up on my fridge. Certainly far from perfect, but a big improvemnt in the time saver department as well as aching man-arms department. The biggest drawback about this set up is that it winds a very tight ball. I know this is superbad of the fibers, so once I finished with the refrigerator “swift”, I put it right back on the ballwinder and rewound a nice, loose, squishy ball. Can you see the difference in these photos?

Ball wound from swift

Second ball re-wound from first ball

So, her’s my list of other ideas I couldn’t get out of my mind…

EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket: I suddenly became obsessed with making this jacket out of a CVM (California Red Sheep) lamb fleece I bought last year in Corsegold, CA on my way home from my first Vipassana retreat. I envisioned spinning the fleece up woolen, fat and fluffy, and separating out the very small amount of cinnamon parts from the more creamy parts to spin as trim yarn. Spent at least 1/2 a day trying not to think about this one. I think this will be my first spinning project of the new year once I finish my Sheep to Shoe kit. Which, btw, has been mocking me calling to me from across the livingroom since I came home.

Dye experiments inspired by BMFA Raven Clan: I have some alpaca fleece that is black with a little suntipping. Could be very interesting to overdye, maybe navy and teal? The main question in this case would be whether to dye in batts or after spinning… Never dyed a batt so that might be fun! Could also be disastrous. Even though alpaca doesn’t felt as easily as wool, yarn might still be safer. Also I have a few pounds of this kind of dull grey roving that was millends from Brown Sheep Company. I would never use the color as is and wondered how it might look with with a bath in a dark palette.

Sock dyeing techniques: Probably too many to list here, but having some thoughts of dyeing knit tubes, and sprinkle dyeing loose skeins.

Indigo dye pot: What are the odds that I could set up and sustain a indigo dye pot on my patio. I’ve heard that some Native peoples kept dye pots going for generations. It would be really fun to be able to dye at will without having to set it up every time. I’m sure someone at the guild can help me with that. I’ll have to ask. Are we still doing “Ask & Tell”?

What else are you not supposed to do at your meditation retreat…?

Well… knit. I did bring knitting. I confess. It’s so close to the holidays and I couldn’t help it. I brought two mindless, “meditative” projects to work on during our recess periods. I made some really good progress. I had this seed stitch scarf that I started at last year’s retreat. I marked my progress with a green stitch marker, so you can see I got quite a bit done.

I was really using this piece as a way to practice both knitting and purling back and forth holding the yarn in my left hand. Up until now I’ve been switching and doing purl rows with my right hand or if it is a combination of both I stay on the right. This is slow and annoying. Anyway, I’m getting better, but my gauge is much looser than I’m used to.

The other project I brought was EZ’s Pi Shawl which I mentioned earlier. I managed to get through the one skein of the Knitpicks Shadow I brought and and made it to row 45, just a few short of the final increase row to 500-something stitches. It was very nice to work on and I like this yarn a lot. I was a little concerned around day 3 that I would run out of knitting, but it ended up working out perfectly. Here’s a photo with the new ball of yarn attached. I think I’m going to finish up with twelve more rows and then add the border which I’ll have to talk about later…

I have to admit, the fact that I brought knitting undoubtedly added fuel to my fibery thoughts while on the cushion. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t have mattered either way. . .

Jill P



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4 responses to “What not to do at your meditation retreat

  1. Wow! Definitely let me know when you are ready to dye stuff. I’ve been thinking about the Raven Clan colors too.

    I think Ask & Tell is still happening. Ruth Scholley is a good person to ask about natural dyeing, I think.

  2. By the way, I bought the pattern for “Irtfa’a Faroese Lace Shawl” on Knitspot.com. It’s a design made for the Raven Clan. It would be great to dye up some lace weight to use for the pattern instead of paying $50 for a hank of BMFA Laci. It’s a bit pricey!

  3. Jill B.

    Mariko was telling me the other day that Indigo pots are really bad for your health. They can cause respiratory problems or something. So maybe you don’t want one hanging out in front of your house.

    Jason, that’s the shawl we were talking about doing a KAL for. Even though I kind of want to wait and see if there’s something I like more in the Raven book they’re putting out. Talking about the “Raven Clan” sounds so ridiculous, like Power Rangers or something.

  4. There’s a Raven book?? By the way, the rectangular version of the Raven shawl, Simurgh, is available on Knitspot.com now.

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