Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Swimming for my life

Can you see me?  June 2021

I am back in the pool.  Since July 13th I have been back in the pool.  I am now doubly vaccinated so I am back in the pool! I hadn't been in the pool since the first week of March 2020 when all hell broke loose and everything was shut down.  Remember March 2020?  Things were going to shut down for two weeks.  Two weeks!  And we all know how that turned out.

I managed 46 lengths my first day back.  That is 1150 metres.  (There was a swim suit malfunction, but I remedied this by changing suits the second time around.) The pool lets you book 45 minute sessions.  It took me a while to figure out the system of booking, and until I figured it out there were many times not available.  The pool allows thirty swimmers to book - up to a maximum of five swimmers per lane.  I have put my name on the waitlist a few times, and twice I have been successful taking a spot that someone else couldn't make. 

Most days there are only two to three of us in the 'medium' speed lane.  I feel very safe there.  I arrive ready to swim, and after 45 minutes I wrap myself in a big towel and drive home for my shower.  I have managed three swims a week since July 13th, and I am booked up until August 7th.  My son is coming to visit and I have booked him to swim with me too.  That will be awesome!

The last two times I have made 54 lengths in the 45 minutes.  It feels so good to practice my 'Total Immersion' swimming techniques and to feel strong in my strokes.  My arm is feeling good too.  No problem with the rotator cuff injury that plagued me through 2019 and 2020. 

I did manage to get in the ocean a few times since March 2020.  I went in on my birthday in October 2020 to celebrate turning 65, I plunged in on January 1, 2021 to celebrate the new year, and I swam twice in June - really swimming - not just running in and out as I did in October and January!

Anyone who reads this blog know that swimming is my life line.  Quite literally I swim for my life.  Swimming brings me peace and a momentary break from anxiety. For the 45 minutes I swim it is just me and the water and my strokes. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe.  Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe.  And as I repeat the three strokes breathe, five strokes breathe rhythm I also say the 'Total Immersion' mantra to myself: Head down, Wide Tracks, Low Target, Patient Hand.  This mantra won't mean anything to anyone who isn't familiar with Total Immersion swimming, but it means a lot to me.  I have missed my long swims so much, and I feel with each session in the pool I am gaining some equilibrium with my mental health. 

We are going camping in a few weeks.  There will be a lake.  I have my swim buddy so I can safely go for some long swims and my dh will be able to spot me from shore.  I can't wait. 

I just read a post I wrote about my swimming from 2014.  You can check it out here, too. 

Oh, and by the way - I am still swimming upstream and sailing into the wind.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Yopping Update #4 - No surprise here - still knitting and spinning and swimming (not necessarily in that order)


I felt like I didn't do much this week (except mope) but now I am doing the weekly update I can see I have been quite productive.  

I washed and thwacked my spin - 

412 m - 167 gms

I finished my fingerless gansey mitts - 

I started spinning backward long draw directly from fleece - I almost have two full bobbins 

I started a gansey beanie with my left over frangipani yarn that I used for the toddler and my gansey.

I found a new sock pattern called Sunday Best that I can cast on now because my KnitPicks order arrived!

yummy Stroll sock yarn

I also got this cute tote with Kitchener Stitch instructions and lotsa pictures of pretty little socks - 


Plus I order two stitch holders.  I don't like the ones that look like giant safety pins because sometimes my stitches find there way off, and or they are too bulky.  I like these simple ones that are a straight pin that locks on both sides.  They can also double as a cable needle.  Win-Win. 

Most importantly I ordered some canvas boxes from Amazon thanks to a tip from LeftyCrafter's post last week.  I now have my fibre/handspun/yarn organized and labelled!  I still have some wool to put in the bins but it is in the freezer right now preempting any moths or larvae or eggs that might have travelled with it when it was mailed to me by my dear friend who said it had been in her stash for some years. 

Otherwise this week I did get in three pool swims, but no walking.  My back is not happy.  Yesterday we spent 7 hours working on our truck and camper.  Hubby was installing something I don't understand and I was there to hand him the tools while he lay under the truck.  Needless to say we ordered dinner when we got home - watched a bit of the Olympics (saw the Canadian Women's 4 x 100 relay swim team get Silver) and went to bed very, very tired.  Just before bed our daughter and grand-daughter video called us so that was a lovely end to a l o n g day. 

A new flower bloomed on my back deck.  I don't know what it is called but it is so delicate and lovely.  It came in a packet of seeds that is said to attract bees/butterflies and hummingbirds.  
blossom about the size of a quarter

Okay, that is it for my week. 

How I wish I was on that beach with her

I better go fill the Hummingbird feeder - those little birds get so bossy when the feeder runs dry.  Until next week, dear Readers - take care, be brave and find joy that is all around us if we only take the time to look. (Are you listening to yourself, Mary-Anne?)

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Yopping Update #3 - spinning and swimming and knitting too


First up this week is a finish!

Strandwanderer scarf

This meant having NOTHING on my needles for two whole days, so I turned all my attention to finishing this endless spin.  I divided my remaining fibre into equal(ish) portions so I would be finished by today 
However, yesterday I was in a mood, and decided just to spin and spin and spin.  I finished all the fibre and then plied it all.  Today I will get it on the niddy-noddy and measure it so I can post my final amounts in my Tour de Fleece group.  Today is the last day of the tour - stay tuned next week for my totals. 

3 full bobbins of 2ply handspun

My wool order hasn't arrived yet so I decided to cast on some gansey fingerless mitts.  I changed the cast-on and cuff but the pattern and thumb gusset are Beth's.

pattern by Beth Brown-Reinsel

Hopefully the Knit Picks order will arrive next week as I am itching to cast on some socks. I am going to start picking colours for my Advent socks - maybe even today!

There were lots of firsts this week.  I went into Winners and bought some pjs and capri pants.  This is my first time shopping in person since March 2020.  (I also bought some salt and vinegar potato chips - just sayin!)

On Tuesday I went for a swim at the pool.  You have to book in advance so they limit the number of lane swimmers, and no change rooms are open so you arrive ready to swim, and then after the allotted forty-five minutes you go home to shower and change.  It was amazing.  I swam and swam and swam for a total of 1100 metres.  Then I went on Thursday (and also this morning) to do it all over again.  It feels so great to be back in the pool.  I have missed it so much.  I even went into the ocean for a short swim on Wednesday - (my dh knew it was what I needed to boost my mood - smart man).

With all that swimming I did some more on-line shopping and ordered a new swim top and swim capris for ocean swimming.  I hope to swim well into the fall and think the long sleeve and long legged swim suit will be useful.  Maybe I will even swim through the winter.  Stranger things have happened. 

The weather has been much cooler this past week, but I haven't done much walking because my back (and my mood) has been on the fritz!  As my mother used to say "This too shall pass", and I am sure it will, but there have been some low days this past week - back pain takes the fun out of just about everything!

Yesterday I managed to do a small repair on my car by changing the bulb for the turn signal.  On Friday I tried but gave up, and then yesterday I managed it in less than five minutes.  Oh, the difference a day can make!

I was up early to swim on Thursday and the sky was so beautiful. 

Mother Nature doing her best to cheer me up

And then, of course, pictures like this always make me smile.

best friends
Until next week - happy crafting to all you yoppers out there, and to all my dear readers thanks for the comments and may your week have beautiful views and time with friends and family.  

Oh yes, and another first - I bought an ice cream cone yesterday.  So good!

If you want to subscribe to this blog you can go to Bloglovin  It is a great site where you can subscribe to any blog you want and when there is a new post it will be emailed to you.   You can find Breathing Life at https://mary-mann.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Yopping Update #2 - Planaria? Planarium? Planarii?


While working on designing my toddler gansey I attempted various planaria motifs.  Here is my progress:

Take 1- an outline with a wiggle - nope

Take 2 - still a wiggle and tried to fix head - still nope

Take 3 - how about no wiggle? (no improvement)

Take 4 - let's fill in the body - almost

Take 5 - blocking has almost got it where I want it

Take 6 - oriented different way ( pretty happy) 

Take 7 - The best one just before finishing cuff on the 2nd sleeve - phew!

So yes, the toddler gansey is complete - ends sewn in, washed and blocked.

recipient tbd

Besides designing planaria I was focused on spinning every day for Tour de Fleece.  Last Sunday was the challenge day so I spun a bobbin using the long backward draw method.  It took a bit to get into the rhythm, but I finished off a bobbin I had started last September, and then filled a 2nd bobbin so I would have enough to ply. 
plied and ready for niddy-noddy

128 metres - 85 gms

washed and thwacked

I started with 250 gms of fibre - either Shetland or Gotland - and I am determined to spin it all during this tour.  I have laid out about 20 gms a day so if all things go well I will finish it by the 18th when Tour de Fleece ends.  Today is another challenge day and I will get out my turkish spindle and update you on that progress next week. 

I only have one wip which is my Strandwanderer scarf.  I am enjoying this knit very much, and because of all the short rows I decided to learn to knit backwards to avoid turning the work constantly.  I taught myself and it seemed tedious so I went on you tube for a quick lesson.  It turns out I was purling backwards which doesn't really effect the result since it is a garter stitch scarf, but once I learned how to knit backwards it goes very quickly.  I am half way done now so should be finished by the time by sock yarn haul from Knit Picks arrives. 

No fear of yarn chicken because you just knit until you run out of yarn!

On the non-knitting/spinning/planaria planning/backward knitting front I had a busy week now that I am fully vaccinated and past the two week waiting period.  This meant:
eye check-up on Tuesday
dental cleaning and exam on Wednesday
Lunch on a restaurant patio with a friend - also Wednesday
Ordered take out Sushi yesterday and had it in the village plaza with an iced Latte

So I am slowly trying to resume some 'normal' activities.  As I tell my sister - babysteps!

There is my update for the week of Yopping.  I will soon begin the adult gansey complete with a planaria or two for my friend, and once the Knit Picks order arrives I will be casting on some socks.  

I will leave you with a picture of our local mountains - these two peaks are called The Lions.  Earlier this week at dusk I could really see them overlooking our evening walk by the sea. 

The indigenous peoples call them the Two Sisters

If you want to subscribe to this blog you can go to Bloglovin  It is a great site where you can subscribe to any blog you want and when there is a new post it will be emailed to you.   You can find Breathing Life at https://mary-mann.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Year of Projects 11 - Let's do it all again


Painting I did August 2018

Well, here we are again - another year of Yopping, knitting, crocheting, spinning, and enjoying writing for, and catching up with, readers and other yoppers. 

I think I have come up with a modest list to start the year knowing full well that I will add projects along the way that take my fancy.  I did make a rather large order of Stroll sock wool from KnitPicks a few days ago.  I have grown weary of variegated yarns so choose a rainbow of solid colours.  (Of course I had to get my order up to 100 dollars so I could get a cool tote bag for free.  I'll post pictures when my goodies arrive!)

So with no further ado I present my plan for the next 12 months. 


Toddler Gansey

I have been focused on this project all week.  I frogged about 4 inches of my gauge sample I had made for my gansey so I could start the gusset for the sleeves.  This project took a lot of math on my part to design the size and pattern placement.  I don't think the heat we had this week helped because I swear it took me a whole day to plan out the sleeves!  You can read more about the math in my project notes here if you are on Ravelry and so inclined.  I am learning so much from designing this gansey without a pattern and it will help me when I design an adult one in the future.  I have tried three different attempts at a planaria on this toddler gansey and I am not yet happy with any of them.  I will try one more on the 2nd sleeve - I am determined to find just the right combination of knits and purls so the planaria will be recognizable.  I will post more about this process next week. 

Strandwanderer shawl

I started this shawl and I am enjoying how the short rows are making the colours in the wool form little blocks.  It was a bit of a brain exercise for the first time through the pattern.  I thought I was doing it wrong and frogged 18 rows before looking at the tutorial and seeing I had done it right the first time!  Now the pattern is easy to remember (as long as I am not watching a complicated TV show at the same time).

And now for my plan for the next twelve months.  This list will be a new page at the top of this blog - but here it is as it stands today - the beginning of Year of Projects 11 (year 6 for me).


Mini Elizabeth Zimmerman surprise sweater for tree  (from last year's list and probably the year before!)

Gansey for Taylor

Gansey for Kyle and/or Brian


Tour de Fleece 2021 - finish 250 gm spin   (possibly dying it too)


Joy - Pride Fingerless Gloves


Advent Socks (from last year's list)

7 pairs - patterns to be determined with all the Stroll sock yarn I bought on July 1st! 

Red Pair

Yellow Pair

Green Pair

Orange Pair

Blue Pair

Purple Pair

Russet Pair


Weebee doll and clothes (from last year's list)

learn 3D granny squares

Small Knits

A gnome or two

Otherwise this week we had to contend with very unusual (for us) hot, hot weather.  It was 39C which for you American folks is 102F!  There was not much walking this week.  Even in the early mornings it was in the 90s!!!

On a funny note - on the hottest days we had to contend with a broken furnace!  LOL!!  We had turned on the fan only for a couple of days to try to bring up the cool air from the basement, but then when we tried to turn the fan off - it wouldn't.  We did finally get it fixed by monkeying around with it - but we only hope once we need the fan when the heat is on it will go off and on as it should. 

It was Canada Day on Thursday July 1st, but with the news of more unmarked graves found near residential school sites across the country it didn't seem the time to celebrate.  Instead I wore an orange shirt and went for a walk thinking of those affected but this tragedy.  Even nature seemed to want to show its support. 

If you want to know more about why the orange shirt is a symbol of support you can read about it here

For my American readers and friends - today is July 4th, and I hope you are spending time with family and friends and maybe having a bbq, or waiting for fireworks.  Whatever you are doing and whomever you are with I wish you a happy day. 

I got this picture of my dear grand-daughter.  She is 2 1/2 now!  I love the look on her face.  I truly hope this fall I will be able to see her and her mom and ta-ta in person!!

If you want to subscribe to this blog you can go to Bloglovin  It is a great site where you can subscribe to any blog you want and when there is a new post it will be emailed to you.   You can find Breathing Life at https://mary-mann.blogspot.com