Sunday, February 03, 2008

Exercise for the mind

Research at the Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute has found that when an individual is knitting her heart rate can drop 11 beats a minute and her blood pressure drops as well.

"A growing number of medical researchers say that leisure activities that challenge the mind—like learning music, playing cards, knitting, and woodworking—can prolong healthy brain functioning. .. "In some cases, even mild forms of what we call a brain exercise have been shown to give you about six or seven additional years of cognitive ability," says Lawrence Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. "

There you go, I'm preserving my brain cells. Now if I could just figure out how to knit whilst exercising... maybe on the reclining bike at the gym? No, I'm not really going to try it. There are actually a few limits to the amount of ridicule I'm willing to endure. I do KIP (knit in public) and now I can even justify it. So next time you want to make fun of me for knitting at parties, remember this. We're both killing brain cells with alcohol, but I'm rebuilding mine simultaneously.


Work in Progress - What a versatile phrase. It's almost as good as Pointification. It's a knitting term referring to the items on needles or waiting to be seamed, all those little and big things in life that you've got a start on but haven't gotten around to finishing yet.

I have WIPs in every aspect of my life - projects at work, around the house, and yes, at least 4 knitting projects - one that has been tucked into the back of the closet for about 3 years - it might be time to FROG that one, or finish it, even. Then there's Holly's blanket - I have decided I have time for that one (P~) and a sweater for my daughter (she says I don't work on that one near enough - it's boring). Then there's the cutest little sweater that's the one I am working on currently - I don't even know who it's for, it's just cute and working up really quickly, but I think I'm going to run out of yarn.

My children are WIPs and so is my ongoing weight battle. I made it back to the gym yesterday and I'm making myself go again today. I think I'll delay work on the house until one of the Crazy Eights (I just made that up, but they'll have trouble denying it) comes and gives me advice. I'm horrible at decorating and at knowing what looks good on me, from hairstyle to clothing style.
Fortunately, I have other talents and virtues, but I'll save those for the next time CC points out that I haven't posted in awhile.

FROGGING is the other side of the knitting process. That's when you rip out your work and either start over or use the yarn for something else entirely. Sometimes you only have to rip it back a few rows, to fix a mistake. Sometimes the whole darn thing has to go and you have to decide how badly you wanted that thing anyway. Of course, there are some mistakes that aren't big enough to bother fixing - they're so far back by the time you notice them that you figure if it took you that long to notice them, maybe you should just leave them be and learn to live with them (I take no responsibility for any marriage analogies that popped into your head).

Oh, why is it called frogging, you might ask (or not, but I'm telling you anyway). You're ripping out the mistake - rip it, rip it, rip it. There's a great picture book called Book, Book, Book, by Deborah Bruss, that tells a similar story. It's one of my favorites for reading when classes visit the library because it's about going to the library. The frog has the punchline.

So, back to philosophizing. One of the great challenges in life, of course, is deciding which WIPs to keep working on and which to frog. Who knew knitting could teach life lessons? There are two books that do a great job of making those analogies and they're good reads, too. One is The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs, and the other is The Knitting Circle: a Novel, by Ann Hood. They're both feel good, circle of life, chick lit sorts of books, the kind I would recommend for my book club.

Hmmm, I think my next post should be an annotated bibliography of knitting novels. That should make your eyes cross.