This guy is the main inspiration this month.
His name is Kilo, and he is not only the most handsome, but also the most adored Chow Chow in all the land. Four-legged companion to my best friend of over 20 years, when Kilo roamed the earth he was the epitome of love. (And he still is, from his angel perch above.)
Since February is (still) the month of love, as well as the beginning of the Chinese New Year, Year of the Dog, Kilo is the perfect muse for this inspire post. (Chow Chow’s actually come from China, so double points for that.)
Must Love Dogs
Though I’ve never had a dog companion in my family, I can absolutely attest to the amount of love, joy, happiness, and purpose a fur baby brings to the picture (Takk has made me a head-over-heels, obsessed, cat lady if you weren't already aware). That’s why, when I was contacted by someone at Sweater Pups, a collective of crafters dedicating their time, talent, fabric and yarn stash to Southern dogs being adopted in the colder North, I was all in.
For one, I am a Southern pup myself, and being this far North in the winter (I’m in “North” Carolina, after all) can get pretty darn cold, so I can relate to all the dogs needing a little extra help staying warm! Also, I think it wonderful to promote animal adoption by providing resources to the beloved animals that will in turn be delivering so much love to their new home.
When I was contacted, I immediately thought of Kilo. While he certainly did not need a sweater in the North (!), Kilo represents the spirit of joy that I want to be a part of by knitting a sweater for Sweater Pups.
Donations are invited in the way of handmade, or bought sweaters for pups of all sizes. I accessed the patterns they offer as suggestions on their site, and settled on a cabled sweater, size small. (I didn’t actually know how small, until I tried to put it on Takk and it was a little tight! PS. He didn't like it one bit, no surprise there.) I went for red-colored yarn, because I figured that it’s a unisex color. It also aligns perfectly with the ‘color of love,’ as well as being an auspicious color in Chinese tradition, standing for happiness and luck.
Although intially intimidated by the pattern I chose to knit, once I got into the rhythm, it started to make sense and look as intended. The sweater definitely does not need to be intricate, as the Sweater Pups say on their website, warm is warm!
Knitting for donation holds a special place in my heart, and I am delighted to be able to contribute to Sweater Pups in this way. If you know of other organizations that call on donations from crafters, please let me know!
Heart Full of Love
Love easily translates from the needles to the mat, so if you're looking for some heart-opening poses to focus on this month, I suggest backbends.
Backbends happen to be among my favorite yoga poses. I love the extension I feel in my spine, and the broadening across my shoulders. Let's face it - our typical day to day activities are very front-forward focused. From typing at the computer, to driving, to making meals, to carrying things, to crafting, to most everything else - we use our arms and hands repeatedly in front of our bodies. Over time, this can result in the shoulders collapsing inward, pain in the head/neck/shoulders, and even an outward curve in the spine of the neck/upper back. But, when practiced safely and with regularity, backbends can help to counterbalance some of these effects.
Another component attributed to backbends is their potential for their heart-opening benefit. Oftentimes posture reflects emotions, or vice versa - emotions dictate posture. Emotional sadness, for instance, can appear posturally as a closing in, or protecting around the heart through stooped shoulders, perhaps with arms hanging limply by the side or crossed in front. Spending a little time in a backbend can not only counterbalance the rounded forward posture but also give a boost of heart-opening confidence and happiness. Together, all of these benefits of backbends make them a pretty nice posture to focus on this month.
So that's a wrap on my inspiration this month - I think I covered the bases of love - receiving love, giving love, expressing love - yup, sounds good to me. So how about you - what's got you inspired this month? Olympics, perhaps? (Me too, watching the skill of the athletes is incredible, but that's a whole other story!!)
Cheers, friends, enjoy the rest of February!