Thursday, January 31, 2013

This I believe

This week's assignment for class is to turn in a draft in the style of NPR's "This I believe".  I am writing on creativity, one of the things I truly believe is life affirming.  I wrote two.  The following is the one I am not turning in, because I need to read the report.  I would not be able to read this without having a very difficult time, so I went another direction. It just seems a shame that I won't turn it in, so I will use it here.  I'll be publishing that one after I edit it.

Anyway, here is my rejected because it is too emotional "This I believe":

Knitting – the word evokes images of grandmothers making those funky little slippers that no one really likes.  But for me, knitting is a creative outlet, a chance to unplug, to create and discover a hidden history of people from around the world, a chance to touch the past and the future.  Knitting has been my saving grace, my creative outlet, and my prayers.  Working the yarn back and forth on the needles has provided me with an opportunity to fill otherwise empty time.  I’ve searched it out in literature and in my everyday life.  

 When I first learned to knit, choices were limited.  There were the itchy scratchy acrylics of RedHeart,  the itchy scratchy wools, or the way-out-of-my price range luxury items – cashmere or angora.  Today there are myriad colors, handpainted yarns in colors the designer dreams, colors that you would never guess would go together, yet somehow form a tapestry of hues rivaled only by Mother Nature, tonals in different values of the same color, solids, heathers, the list goes on.  Lately I have enjoyed dyeing colors I see in nature – the Pokeweed colorway in rich blue-black purples, purplish-reds and greens ranging from olive to muddy reddish green, the Field Corn in deep yellow golds, tans and just a hint of the strawberry pink that imitates the cob. To get the colors, I go out and look – really closely look at the natural world. 

Once I have the colors I am looking for comes the pattern search – looking for the pattern that will accentuate the colors, yet allow the texture of knitting itself become apparent.  Will it look better as a lace, with the negative space accentuating the colors of the yarn?  A cable with its twisting winding road home?  Perhaps just a simple rib with the hills and valleys?  Sometimes plan knitting in stockinette or garter is the answer.  Sometimes even deciding what the yarn wants to be is difficult.  I’ve had several yarns that I have started in socks, only to tear it out and end up making a scarf, shawl or hat from.  Yarn designated for a hat for one son became a hat for another. 

You may think that with all this knitting, I would have lots of beautiful knitted items in my home, winter wearables to keep warm and cozy, my adult children wearing hats, gloves and scarves lovingly made by their mother.  You would be wrong.  Honestly, I am not about the finished product.  I am more interested in the process of knitting – the feel of the yarn through my fingers, each stich becoming a prayer for safety, for compassion, for needs of the recipient.  Watching the colors flow from one to the other or the play of light on specific fibers – silk’s shining face, merino’s warm bloom, alpaca’s ultra warm fuzziness.  I picture my sister and her grandchildren wrapped in a warm ivory shawl on a cold winter day – reading stories and laughing together.  I envision my son, hunting in the woods in his ‘lucky hunting hat’ – hunter orange with black deer knit in fair isle – keeping him safe and bringing him a big buck.   The lamb stuffed animal, reminiscent of the lambs we raised when we were young, that I was creating for my mother when she passed last spring sits on my work desk as though she is watching over me.

The amazing part is that all of these items – lace, cables, the shawl, the hat – all are created using two stitches , because that is all there is to knitting.  I’ve known people who tell me they cannot knit, it’s too complicated, takes too much time, they don’t have the patience.  To these people I saw no.  No, knitting isn’t complicated.  It takes time and some understanding of the language of knitting, but there are enough resources to explain. I always find it remarkable that people say they don’t have time to knit when they are doing the same thing I am – watching a sporting event, riding in a car, plane or bus, or enjoying time with friends at our county fair.  We are all doing the same thing, yet my hands are busy with a simple pattern, creating something to be enjoyed.  You don’t have patience to knit, you knit to learn patience.  In a world of immediate gratification, that can be a valuable lesson.  We don’t always have to have immediate satisfaction and sometimes the greatest joy in a life is the time it takes to create a work of beauty that takes a little time and effort.

As an adult, my fiber obsession has seen me through some very difficult times.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, knitting allowed me to have a connection to my past, since both my grandmothers knitted, and my future, creating items for my children, nieces, nephews.  When I spent hours of time in the hospital with my mother, we would sit and talk about what my latest project was and who it was for.  She would pet the yarn as she would a beloved pet, comforting us both – her with petting, my ticking off stitch after stitch.  When I am stressed to the point of breaking, I find myself looking for something new to start, something to jump start a positive flow in my life. 
The creative juices used to knit an item are very individual.  I love that even though I use the same pattern as hundreds of other people, my choice of color, yarn content, even the very way I knit creates a unique item that no one, even myself, can recreate exactly.  I believe this uniqueness is what draws me to knitting in a way that other crafts do not allow.  The portability allows me to bring items with me to work on in odd times- during my lunch hour, perhaps while waiting in line at the bank, if the pattern is pretty easy, while I am reading. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many men and women who share my passion, meeting to have lunch, go to events, just to sit together and knit and discuss what we are working on, where we got the yarn, what needles we enjoy, etc. etc.  Inevitably, I am allowed to glimpse in other’s lives by doing this simple craft, having people ask what I am doing, recollecting their mother, grandmother or aunt knitting.  I enjoy other creative outlets – music, cross stitch, beading – but none satisfy or allows me to talk to others quite like knitting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Books and writing

 Well, I didn't notice until I had published my last post, but I had a comment!  An honest-to-goodness comment!  From someone I'm not related to!  I am so surprised.

The comment asked for some information on the books I am reading for my class.  Well, here is a partial list.  I will have to add more as I go.  I will also comment on my impressions of the books. 

First up is The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.  I am not sure how I feel about this novel.  It's relatively short, about 150 pages.  I am about a third of the way through it.  It is - unusual.  Written in the mid '60's, it's the story of a women, Oedipa, who is the executor of a past lover's estate.  It is kind of interesting.  I keep plugging through it.  What is making me a bit unbalanced are words like 'groovy' being used, not as dialogue, but as adverbs throughout the description.  It really brings home how we should try to leave description as generic as possible to allow for the longevity of a text.

Next up is going to be Sula by Toni Morrison.  I love this book.  Sula and all the characters in this book are interesting, well developed and wonderfully multifaceted.

In other news, I am working on several projects I want to complete before the month is over.  There are about 4 more I am dying to cast on, but want to complete these first.  The first one is the Frolicking Deer hat.  This is for Baylor.  I am better than halfway done, but am looking at about 15 hours of work on it yet.  The second is Platomon, a shawl.  I have 7 rows to complete an it will take about 7 hours to complete.  Well, I guess I am further along than I thought!

I found out a dear friend of mine is having surgery on Tuesday.  She'll be in the hospital for 5 - 6 days.  That is a long time.  I am going to try to go see her on Thursday, then see about making her something to heat up the following Wednesday.  Something easy to digest.  I worry because she is under a lot of personal stress.  This stress has nothing to do with her surgery but other events in her life. 

Well, I guess I better get on my knitting.  It looks like a good night to knit.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The year so far

Generally speaking, I am a pretty upbeat person.  I like joking around and am pretty quick with a quip when it is needed.  But honestly, this year is shaping up to be absolutely crap-tastic.  A total shit sandwich.  Let me elaborate.

Here we are at January 14.  I should have had a day or two without some kind of emergency, but it's just not happening.  On Christmas Eve, someone pulled up beside me on Upper Valley Pike and told me that the taillights on my car weren't working.  Baylor and Steve looked at it and couldn't find anything wrong with it.  We let it go until after the holidays, since I was off work.  It turned out that we had two choices - about $2000 to replace the tail lights on a 1999 car, or $500 to put in auxiliary lights in.  I opted for the second choice because we cannot afford another car this year.

So now I am waiting for the car to be fixed.  We have 8 registered vehicles, but can I find one to drive regularly?  No.....  The GMC is too tall and Baylor doesn't like when I use a stepladder to get in it.  Also, it doesn't run regularly.  Baylor had his truck, Ethan had his.  The blue truck - Steve prefers that I don't drive it for some reason.  The service truck?  No way.  Kelly had the Escort, the LaSabre was in Illinois. The Riviera was in the shop.

No sooner got the Rivie back than the Escort blew up.  So now Kelly's got the Rivie.  The upside? Ethan is in the Virgin Islands, so I can drive his truck for a while.  Baylor and Steve went to Illinois so B can go back to school and Steve can get the LeSabre.  All is relatively good for a few days.  The day Steve is to come home, Baylor texts me, followed by a call from Steve and later a call from Baylor.  Steve drove the LeSabre into a corn field and had to have Baylor pull him out.  Baylor was sideswiped by a deer on the way - the same side that he just had $4500 worth of bodywork on after slipping on a patch of black ice.  I got to hear a lot about what happened and how mad B was.

On this same day, my manager's father passed away and our database was so unstable.  It crashed a time or two and I am not happy about it!

So the weekend comes and Ethan is due home.  We cannot get him on the phone and have not heard from him since he left.  We try, but it rolls to voice mail every time. Texts don't go through.  Thought he would be home on Saturday, but no Ethan.  We waited around a while, but no Ethan on Sunday either.  About 7 PM, I get a text that he is in Florida and will be home about 2 AM.  What the heck, you got to be at school on Monday morning.

We find out Monday that Ethan is on Academic Suspension this semester.  But all is good.  He has a plan to keep busy until August when he can go back.  He's looking for a job - preferably with a chemistry twist.  Maybe do some community service as a track coach.  Plus he's planning a trip to New York to talk to someone about worm farming. Sounds like he's going to be productive.

Oh, and Kelly and Al will be moving in to the shop in the next few weeks because Al lost one job and got another, but it pays significantly less.  What a couple of weeks.  Hopefully, we will go up from here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Semester

This semester I am taking Contemporary American Novels.  I've been to two classes and already turned in a paper.  Amazing, huh!  It seems like it will be a great class.  We are reading a whole list of interesting books for the semester.  I think it will be fun.

Tonight was Sit N Knit at Panera.  What a great time!  We played 'Last Knitter Standing'.  It's a fun game, but I think we could come up with a whole lot more questions and challenges than they have.

Steve and Baylor went to Illinois, so TJ and I are holding down the fort here at home.  TJ is on point on the back porch right now, so he's doing what he does best.  Me?  I'm about ready to go to bed.  I hope I don't oversleep tomorrow.

This morning I woke up to Steve asking when I needed to be at work.  When I told him at 8, he said 'it's already 8'.  Wow!  What a way to wake up in the morning.  Took me about 30 minutes to get dressed and out the door, so I wasn't that late.  I usually stay until 5:30 anyway, so it was fine.

I have two alarms set for tomorrow so if I oversleep, I have a backup.

I thought I would get some additional knitting time when I got home, but Leslie needed some help with a project.  I haven't done anything as far as knitting this evening.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow.  I need to work on Baylor's hat and get it in the mail.  Then I have Ethan's hat to finish as well.  I'd like to finish my shawl before too long.  Then I can decide what to do next.

I have some items completed, but need to block and finish them.  I'll take photos tomorrow.  I may even get a Christmas gift done, if I'm not careful!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

First weekend

It is the first weekend of the new year and life is getting back to almost normal.  I started back to work on Wednesday, so this day off is greatly appreciated.  I cannot believe the whole 3 days that we worked would wear me out so much.  I was exhausted and ended up sleeping until 9 AM.

Ethan is off to St. Thomas.  I hear he made it to Miami and is enjoying his trip so far.  I hope he has a great time.  The turquoise beaches, the beautiful sun and the warm temps... wow that would be tough.  He comes home just in time to go back to school.

Baylor leaves for school on Wednesday.  He's paid his tuition and is ready for the next semester.  This weekend he's just getting himself organized... getting rid of two of his game consoles, cleaning up his room, that kind of thing.

I'll miss both the boys while they are at school.

Classes for me start on Monday.  I have my books and am ready to get started.  I need to get my bookbag out and ready.

For this weekend, I need to run the sweeper, get some of the dishes rid up and work on Baylor's hat.  I have a swap I need to get together.  At least get it started.  Then it will be out in the mail before next weekend.  I also want to clean out the refrigerators.  Both of them.  They are disgusting and there is way too much stuff in both.  But first, I'm going to clean the ice off the front steps.  They have a lovely sheet of ice on them that is dangerous on these warmer days.

Well, I better get on it or I won't get these things done.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New year, new goals

Here we are in 2013. Many people didn't think we would actually get here, thinking the world would end on December 21.  I told Baylor that if the world should end on the 21st to wake me up.  I've never been to an apocalypse and didn't want to miss it if it should happen.  As luck would have it, no end-of-the-world, so we  are still here and I still had some living room to clean as well as our kitchen.

So I finished cleaning my living room and got most of the kitchen done thanks to Kelly and Al.  It is great to have our living spaces back from the nightmare of the last two years.  I hate that I could only use part of our living room for two years. Although there are a few more things that need cleaned up, it's great to have most of these spaces cleaned up, or easily picked up in a matter of a half an hour.

Here are my goals for 2013.  They are much more measurable than last year:


  1. Do 13 home improvements.  I have a list of several that I want to complete, but need to find a few for inside the house to do this winter.
  2. Clean and purge 13 areas of my home.  This is a LONG LONG list.  I have lots of areas that I need to purge.
  3. Run the vacuum cleaner 13 times every 2 months.  That is twice a week.  It will keep the living room picked up and cleaned up.
  1. Come up with 13 new holiday traditions.  Our lives have changed dramatically in the last year.  We need to have some new traditions that make our holidays feel more 'full'.
  2. Complete 13 handcrafted Christmas gifts.  Doesn't matter if they are knitted or not, I would like to have 13 done by next holiday.  I will be starting with my gifts for my sisters. 
  1. Lose 13 pounds every 3 months.  That is a pound a week and totally doable.
  2. Read 13 books of The List.  This will enhance my English major
  3. Do 13 nice things for me.  If I don't feel good about myself, how can I do nice things for others?
  4. Create 13 crafts that are not knitting.  I know how to do lots of other crafts and this goal will give me the chance to explore them.
  5. Learn 13 new techniques/ stitches.  I am always trying to improve my knowledge of the craft and I have the Knitter's Life List to help.
  1. Do 13 Random Acts of Kindness.  This goal is easy.  There are always people in need of an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on or even just a little something to make them feel better.
  2. Write 13 blog posts every two months.  That is a little better than twice a week.  I think I can do that.
  3. Complete 13 items to enter in our County Fair.  I don't know if I'll have 13 for this fair, but I'll have a few.  That is better than I would have in the past.