Balanced

[I do get round to talking about knitting and spinning eventually in this post – keep going]

I’ve spent a bit of time during this last year or so bemoaning the lack of time I have to devote to knitting and spinning. With a full time job, two little kids, and a husband I really should spend a little time with, there isn’t a great surprise that life is full, but is it too full?

This week I’ve been away on a residential course with work. It’s a leadership training programme that is grounded in principles taken from the Rule of St Benedict. If you’ve not really studied the Rule of St Benedict (and lets face it, who among us can honestly say we have?), you might be imagining a focus on long hours of prayer and hard work scrubbing monastery floors. That’s not quite what this is about.

From the little I’ve read, the Benedictine way of life seems to be a life of balance. Now, the way the Rule of Benedict is followed in a monastery is very different from the way it can be followed outside the walls (see note about husband and kids, above). Nevertheless, there are some principles that transfer quite well.

When I got my timetable for last week, I noticed it started at 8am (with prayer) and finished at 9pm each day.  At least there’s no danger of the husband thinking I was slacking off on a work jolly (this suggestion has been mooted in the past in similar situations). Within this full day, there was a welcome gap in the afternoon. Between lunch and 4pm, there was a two hour slot labelled ‘personal time’. In my mind, I re-designated it ‘knitting time’ and took enough knitting to fill a good six hours per day.

Now, 13 hour days are not out of the ordinary in my line of work. When most of the people you encounter at work are either at work during the day or busily retired, a lot of things happen in the evening. In fact, 15 hour days come round every so often.

At the end of a 13 hour day I would expect to feel absolutely wiped out: the difference that taking 2 hours (to knit) out of the middle of the day made was astonishing. With the balance between work and recreation, those Benedictines were on to something. Making time for recreation means that there is something giving renewal in the middle of a long day. I was not the only knitter on the course. In one afternoon, we got up to four knitters on the comfy chairs (and we had one very interested bystander – we’ll take spare needles to the next bit of the course).

Slightly off at a tangent, but an interesting discovery anyway: Before settling down to knit I took a brisk walk each day and I was then awake enough not to doze off for the  next couple of hours. I’ve been getting internal and external nudges about the benefits of exercise for months. Maybe it’s time to take note and do something.

This course lasts for most of the rest of this year and we have a project to complete before the next residential. The focus of the project is something that will develop you personally, not a work-related thing, but perhaps something you have always wanted to do, something that makes your soul leap.

Here is my project: Spin to knit and publish. My spinning wheel sits in my study, always within easy reach but rarely touched. I want to get the hang of spinning, well enough to knit with my handspun. I also want to learn to write patterns and understand a bit more about design.

This is what I’m hoping to achieve:

  • practice spinning regularly (daily, or at least a long session each week) and get the hang of spinning a balanced yarn
  • complete Craftsy classes on spinning and plying
  • design an item to be knit with handspun yarn
  • write the pattern properly
  • knit the item
  • publish the pattern

This should be an interesting few months.

Another part of the course is to keep (and regularly review) a learning journal. Isn’t there a quote something along the lines of ‘the un-reflected life is not worth living’? I happened to have a new notebook with me and I’m using a lot of the Bullet Journal system: simple, yet effective.

WIP update:

I took the Fish Lips Kiss socks with me and I have mastered the heel. Very simple once I figured it out, but until that point absolutely baffling. I am now speeding up the first leg and wondering when to stop.

LetterMo update:

Two days behind, but enjoying writing (mostly very short) letters.

One Reply to “Balanced”

  1. Good luck! I’ve been trying to incorporate exercise into my work days (otherwise it doesn’t happen at all) and it definitely makes me feel more awake, although I tend to be reluctant to leave the library when it’s howling wind and rain outside. Otherwise, I have also been practising saying “no” a lot, in the interest of maintaining some life balance, which is also working well!

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