Sunday, December 25, 2011

The post that almost didn't happen

I am generally a go-into-my-cave-and-lick-my-wounds-privately kind of gal. A pass-the-ammo type of woman. So this post almost didn’t happen. It’s not a happy post, it’s not about knitting, it’s not clever, or funny. In a strange dark way it is about hope. Hope that –if I’m honest – my words will help someone else in their struggles. At the same time, it’s selfish and about loss, about pain.

When my children died, I lost my future. Somewhere in the last year, I lost myself. I’m living with a stranger. Who the hell is this woman living my life? Doctors & books tell you so much, but they forget to tell you that the person who leaves that OR may not be the one who entered.

Another year of misspent youth has flown by. A year that was filled with tears. I’ve cried more this year than since I was a child & used to cry myself to sleep every night.

Oddly, the tears weren’t about the inexorable diagnosis, the tears were caused by people. People who hurt me, disappointed me, broke my heart –willfully or accidentally. Doctors stress the importance of a support system, they fail to mention the people who will turn away, the people who will reject you because of your illness, the people who act like you are contagious, or who don’t want to spend time with you because you can’t be happy & they don’t want to think about anything that isn’t happy. They don’t prepare you for the people who begrudge you a bad day; a day you don’t feel good, a day you are tired/worn down/short tempered. There’s no app for your phone to sort people. To warn you who will just expect you to carry on every day, to pretend nothing has changed, because their life hasn’t changed & they don’t want you to force change upon it.

No one warns you that rather than simply say “I don’t know what to say;” people will say nothing, leaving you isolated and alone. Not because they mean to, but because they don’t know any better. They don’t realize that puts you in an impossible position of trying to gauge timing & a correct level of sharing. Instead, clich├ęs and platitudes roll forth, well meant but worthless. People will say “If you want to talk.” And when you try to, they will turn away, they will reject your words – but it will feel as if they are rejecting you; and so…there will be no more words. And the longer it goes on, the more impossible to bridge the gap. And one day you’ll find that somehow, all the blame has been placed on you. Then, rather than let them continue to prick you in a thousand small ways, you’ll cut deep into your soul and shut them out before they can hurt you again.

You’ll discover – on a day you call in sick – that surprising people, people you thought were on the periphery of your life will call to check on you, but that people you work with daily will do nothing.

You’ll find yourself lashing out at people – because you hurt so much, because they continue to hurt you. And then be embarrassed, ashamed that you acted that way. But not be able to apologize because there isn’t a way to say that your action was a REaction; unless you’re willing to point out their behavior. Which you won’t do because, at this point, how do you divide the blame? And because you, secretly, want it all to be healed, for a miracle to happen, for them to make even one move toward peace – a real peace, not just peace on their terms.

Not only will you get a crash course in neurochemistry, time management, and insurance bureaucracy; you’ll get an undergrad in human behavior. You’ll be forced to learn to accept the situations; or become bitter and crazy. You’ll have personal growth forced upon you. You’ll find yourself forgiving someone a grievous error because their intention was good, but not someone else’s small mistake because it was self-absorbed; and then find yourself abusing yourself because you’ve let go of the one thing but not the other.

Now…before you decide that this is all too bleak and the solution is to go play in the freeway traffic…

There WILL be people who make you cry for other reasons. Good reasons. People with strength, courage, and chutzpah. You’ll discover your Real Friends have been sorted out from the crowd. And that is where you have to demonstrate courage too. That is where you have to speak up, speak out, reach out, ask for help, share and receive.

These are the people who realize that, just because you didn’t need help yesterday, doesn’t mean you don’t need it today. The people who not only have time for you at lunch, but have time for you at 2 am when you’re wishing you would just wake up dead. The people that are afraid for you, and say so, but don’t run away from their fear – or yours.

These are the people, who when you’re sobbing uncontrollably will say “well shit” and you’ll know – know that they don’t have words, but that they Know what you can’t say. And it will be enough.

They will understand that some days they’ll get answers to questions and that some days you have no words, because you have no control & words would just make you shatter into a thousand pieces.

Yet, they’ll ask again in the future.

They’ll admit that they don’t understand and listen while you try to explain something you don’t understand either. They’ll take the time to look up your diagnosis, in an attempt to get a better understanding; and let expert words apologize for some of your behavior.

They won’t just say “I don’t understand how you hold it together. I would fall apart.” And then go on their merry way. They look at you, and see the cracks, then pass the glue and fish little pieces out from under the sofa. At the same time, they’ll be honest when you’ve lost your damn mind.

Interestingly, it isn’t that you take a lot of time from their life; you don’t become a project to work on. You don’t become helpless, or dependent. You actually become stronger because they let you be weaker. I’m certain physics would say that’s impossible; but, whoever you are, I hope you remember those words if you ever need them.

Hopefully, next year’s birthday post will be about knitting.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for: ~ ~ ~

~For The Adored One – I don’t say it often enough, or well enough, but he changed my life and I couldn’t have gotten through the past year without him.

~The fact that my life is rich and full enough that I have to prioritize my WIPs in order to get them done. I'm having a little end of year WIP clean up, before casting on something really big for New Years Day.

This is the Circles Yoke pattern/yarn that I bought as a souvenir of my WEBS trip last year. I knit most of the body, then realized that my weight loss made it 4" too big and had to reknit it.

~For my friends that are willing to hear the bad news as well as accept the good news. And who have the courage to ask the difference; or to tell me the truth.

~I don't have the words to express the idea that - while it's not over yet - the people who demonstrate concern are the reason why I don't just give up; why it's not over Because I Won't Give Up. Or how afraid I am that I will hurt those people by not winning.

The sweater is still a little big, but I don't plan on staying this skinny. And if the people who thought enough of me to invite me into their homes for the holiday have any say, I'll be fattened up soon. ~Thank you for all the invites.

~There are people in my life that –quite honestly- I'm thankful I am not them. Either because of how they live their lives, or because the burdens they carry are so much worse than mine. That sounds terrible, but it's more about being aware of how good my life is.

~Profoundly thankful for simply being here this day. There have been days in the past year when that looked like it wasn’t possible. Days that I was scared to even admit to myself. Fortunately there were people who recognized the flailing around for the pain it was, and helped instead of withdrawing.

~Strangely, I'm soothed by Science. The same Science that while it can't fix the situation, gives me an explanation for the situation.

~And as always, thankful for the hours at the LA Public Library; which lent me the books I used to teach myself to knit & crochet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

When life hands you troubles

Play with Monsters!
Alot terrorizes the railway.

Isn't that what all rational Adults do?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No sooner do you get the mittens on

And they say they have to pee.

I gave the little monster to his new Mom, who named him “Alot” in tribute to the post from Hyperbole and A Half. And despite my not saying anything, she knew this week’s doctor appt did not go well, so she set me the task of babysitting him for the weekend. We had a strange little snowfall Saturday so I gave him a grapefruit spoon and sent him out to shovel the walkways. But being a mother at heart, I had to knit him some outerwear first.

As complex as small scale knitting is, those little pieces didn’t take long, so I also worked on my shawl. I’m at the point where each round is 1000+ stitches. Which means that I promptly trashed the patterning and needed to fix two entire rounds before moving forward.

In lace knitting there are 3 ways to fix a grievous un-ignorable error. And they mimic your options when a friendship has gone wrong. Which isn’t that odd, given that capital-K knitters talk about their “relationship” with their knitting.

If the yarn is forgiving enough, and the pattern has lifelines or breathing rows built into it, you can pull out the needle, rip back to before the error and then carry on as if it never happened. Just like a small error in a flexible friendship.

If the pattern is really complex, multi stitched, or just too daunting to pull the needles and get back on track, you can drop down each repeat and reknit it correctly onto a third needle, with an almost forensic intensity. This requires looking very hard at each stitch, seeing where you went wrong, and having the patience to correct each error. Tedious, painful, and depending upon how much you care, worth it.

If you’ve chosen the wrong pattern/yarn/needle/gauge combo, you can finally admit it to yourself. Pull the needles, rip, rewind, and forget it. Which is always a shame after you’ve invested time and effort; plus dropped a day’s wages on handpainted yarn that you’re not sure what you’ll use it for, now that this project is derailed.

I did get the shawl back on track, and I think the little wonkiness in gauge will block out nicely. If not, in the big fabric of the project, no one who didn’t know will be able to see it; just like all the best relationships.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

And there went October

There is a line in Crime & Punishment which states “We will talk ourselves to truth one day.” I don’t know that I always believe that. I believe the concept is possible, I don’t know that the timeline will always span one relationship.
I prefer to paraphrase the statement as “We will knit ourselves to silence one day.” I’ve been depressed and overwhelmed lately. Between health, work, and economics, I misplaced my smile. Things are wrong that I can’t fix. Things are right that I can’t enjoy. But knitting lets me step back from all of that, if I remember to pick it up.

As a result there’s been a lot on the needles and some things off.
I had dabs of Malabrigo Merino that became Milanese lace toppers.
I would highly recommend the free pattern to anyone knitting chemo caps. In a soft yarn they’re snuggly and soothing, but have just enough laciness that you don’t feel that your noggin isn’t getting air.

I did a test knit for Spencer Hill Spin Dye. (the lovely orange swatch) Her specialty is all natural plant dying. That delicious orange is from madder root. And for pity’s sake – someone buy that Charlie in Butter before I break down.
I cast on a shrug in Dream in Color Groovy “Gold Experience.” But I forgot how much chunky yarn bothers my hands so I don’t think this will progress as quickly as a bulky weight implies.

There was a tiny monster that had to see what was in my cup. (Newborn and already addicted)

A beaded hat that went to live in Texas. May the mojo be manyfold.

And the shawl progresses. I have two sweaters 75% done, sweaters I should finish and wear this winter. Do I? No. I keep knitting this deeply repetitive pattern. The original plan involved 1.36 miles of yarn. I decided to revamp it for 2 miles instead. Is the project practical? No. Logical? No. Useful? No. But the knitting of it is saving my life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi 5772

May we all be written.

Sometimes in looking forward, we see only the distance to go. We fail to look back and see how far we’ve come.

So often we resolve to live only in the present, this moment, only this moment. Then we come to situations that ask us to plan for the future, to forgive the past, to change. Which is difficult when we’re living the frustration of the situation right this minute.

5771 was a rough ride. And I found myself this morning looking at my list from last year, and feeling angry with myself for being further behind on it than when the year started. So many more transgressions, so many angry words, so many tears, so many apologies to make. Times when I was cruel or unkind merely because someone was human. I found myself angry and disappointed in myself.

Then I started thinking about the apologies. Why do I apologize? To acknowledge to the other person that they are not invisible, that they are a person, and that I know – in some way - I have invaded their dignity. To give them a chance to speak their piece/peace, to accept responsibility for what I’ve done. And to give them an opportunity to atone for their own things that might be related to the misunderstanding. To make the world a better place; by so doing we choose life.

Suddenly I realized that my list needed one more name: my own. So much of what I’ve done wrong to others this year, I’ve also done to myself.
Pushed myself, mocked myself, berated myself for the flaw of being human. Yes, 5771 was a rough year, and I cracked under the pressure more than once;

but there were also times when I did the right thing as well. And so did the people in my life. At the center of the truth, I love them all; and just as they accept and forgive my foibles, I need to practice demonstrating that core compassion…for all of us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three bags sewn.

Ostensibly this is billed as a knitting blog. And there is some truth that Rav has killed the knitting blog. I had been thinking lately of killing the blog, but decided that even though it hasn’t been much about knitting this past 6 months, I enjoy the private party feel of it. I have to organize my thoughts for public consumption, though it’s a small public, some of whom I’ve known for years. And from looking at the stats I can see where I get repeat visitors who never comment. So while life has been very full lately with plenty of reasons to shut it down...
The blog lives another day.

I had some time off of work recently so I whipped up three little project bags using fat quarters. They're just the right size for a small project. With a little pocket inside for my phone and a lipstick. Nothing fancy, just a touch of whimsy and colour for the coming days of grey winter.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


As a child you have imaginary friends. As an adult--well, perhaps you shouldn't. Or, more likely, you have imaginary friends that are real people. Not the people as they are, but the people as your mind makes them, interacts with them. Sometimes this can happen in knitting too.

If the project is off, you can keep knitting and blame reality at the end. Or you can accept the truth and try to use the actual parameters available as a basis for reconsideration:

When you're a child you escape by going to imaginary places in the mind. As an adult, you've been places, you just revisit them mentally. As a knitter you rip and reknit. With some blocking-in-the-wild to check your hypothesis.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


It's been quiet on the blog front lately.
On the knitting front I cast on an "epic" shawl in cobweb weight merino. Merino that fought me every inch, snarling back on itself, strands grasping the center of the ball desperately. Still I knit on, really enjoying the focus required. Enjoying the fabric rippling off my needles. Still a little voice would nudge me occasionally, trying to tell me something was wrong. Except nothing was wrong, the stitch count...perfect, the patterning...perfect, the colours...delicious. All other knitting lies abandoned.

About 600 yards in, I awoke one night realizing what was wrong. Gauge, desperately wrong. I jumped out of bed and blocked it in the wild - that wedge shown from about 9 to 11- blocked. Unpinning and measuring in the morning confirmed it. Should be a 23" radius, measures a scanty 11". But I like the fabric, yet didn't want the epic part to be neverending knitting. So I cast on in a larger gauge from one of the other balls. And loved the fabric. So the ripping began. Which the merino disliked even more than being removed from ball form.

Delicate cobweb weight threads, tangled.
Only beautiful when smoothed and entwined.
I want our threads to unsnarl, to relax.
To be transformed into something that,
if not beautiful, is useful and functional.

We're not enemies, yet so often we are tangled in misunderstandings.
The small scales of our surfaces caught on each other, creating a situation that will hurt or break one of us if not handled carefully.

Why don't people and relationships come with
clear pattern instructions?

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Not really a coherent post this week.
Life and knitting have been a hodgepodge the last couple of weeks.

I did get two more things off the needles, without casting on anything new:

And one thing off my mind:

"Sorrow has been my roommate lately.
Grabbing me with a tightness in the throat
Tears that course, silently.
Without clear reason, without fear.
It isn’t loss, or longing.
Nor loneliness or isolation.
Just sweetness that touches an unnamed need,
Languishing in a corner."

Monday, July 04, 2011

Pettine Pettiness

Despite the fact that both skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino claimed to be the same colour/lot they were about as alike as homemade marshmallow candies are to the marshmallow root - which is to say - Not at All. Even TAO looked at the shawl & questioned the juxtaposition of abrupt colour change. The first skein really emphasized purple hues and the 2nd was very much orange. I carefully weighed the first skein & when I was close to the halfway mark I switched to the other skein, thinking that when worn the colour change would not be so obvious. But it bothered me a little. It's knitting--not neurosurgery--so it shouldn't matter. Doesn't matter. But it's knitting--not intracranial shunt placement--so I can also have greater control over it.

I intentionally packed it for my vacation, with a dyebolical plan. I enlarged the chart enough to see it over my mojito glass, and finished the knitting. Then promptly consigned the shawl to the dye pot. (After much staring into space to decide which overdye hue to shoot for.)

Ahh, after it's refreshing simmer, and "blocking" (which was really just hanging it by it's little neck edge loops on the clothesline,) it's a keeper. But if you don't hear from me for a while it's probably because the Malabrigo dye police hauled me away for daring to overdye the yarn.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I always wanted to grow up to be an anthropologist. Specifically a cultural anthropologist. But I couldn’t figure out how I would pay the bills, so I grew up to be other things.

I still love to hear people’s stories though. How they ended up where they are. What happened along the way. What guided them. Finding the back story to the moment of their life that is today.

Which is ironic, in that I have such lousy skills in actually understanding/interacting with people. I spent the last two weeks trying to sidestep the booby traps. Those situations where what you WANT to do and what you SHOULD do are diametrically opposed and stressful. Even I understand that shaking someone while screaming “For G-ds Sake take pity on me and explain” would be counterproductive.

So I retreated to knitting. Charted, counting, nothing-exists-outside-these-needletips-knitting. The soothing rhythm of binary. Something, nothing, something, nothing, something something something, nothing.
After roughly 47 hours of “math” I emerged with my mind no clearer, but with a finished shawl. 570 yds of Wollmeise and the Trousseau pattern. Luckily I was not captivated by the elusive Wollmeise; I can think of 3 different yarns I’d prefer to have. I am however enchanted with the pattern, and have been considering re-knitting it in Mirasol Tupa. Several people in Rav had noted that they ran short despite having considerably more yardage than the pattern called for, so I used my scale extensively and finished up with less than 5 yds left over. The large calls for 500 yards, and I left out one 16 row repeat and 2 rows of final border. 50" wingspan and 25" back depth.

Sometimes I tell myself I’m just undergoing a vigorous “blocking” from the Universe. I hope when it’s all over the pattern of my somethings and nothings in time/action/choices will reveal a worthwhile life.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

There may have been knitting.

Most of you would not be the least bit surprised to hear that “there may have been knitting last week.”

After all, I think of knitting as the ultimate panacea. Want to think? There’s knitting for that. Want to NOT think? There’s knitting for that. Joyous? Knit. Sad? Knit. Apathetic? Browse patterns. Anxious? Wind yarn. Of course, this doesn’t work for monogamous knitters; they must surely have some other coping mechanism? Perhaps they are Opera fans, after all Opera comes in all those flavours too.

I’m still seeking the elusive silence of the mind. The only way I can describe last week would be: Roller skating in a Lightning storm. You have to keep one eye on the tarmac, looking for road hazards, and simultaneously cast a wary eye on the heavens lest you be suddenly cardioverted.

My mind was so cluttered that I totally forgot -until very suddenly today- that Sunday is my daughter’s Birthday. In one sudden swoop, all other thoughts fled. What do you do for a dead child’s birthday, especially when you are far from anyone who remembers her? When you remember that moment of epic joy, that later led to life shattering pain?

               I knit.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bogged Down

"There you go - all my own work. Contains almost everything except tea." M. Allingham

The nice thing about knitting slumps? They're not important. If you are driven crazy by a co-worker, they are harder to sidestep. If your loved ones are demonstrating the traits that you love them "despite" - short of running away from home - you still have to deal with them. If your own mind is fixated on a single jaw clenching thought, you cannot just hit "mute."

Knitting...that's another story:

If your tiny apartment eats two balls of wool necessary for a sweater; you order more, and while you're waiting you realize that the previously knit part is now 4" too big because you've lost weight. Rip Rip Rip.

If a project is bogged down because you mailed off beloved speciality needles and then the artist had a family emergency; you just mark the chart and set the project aside.

If you left out of work without the chart for another project - meaning all your weekend knitting plans are dead in the water - you pull out the swift, some stash, download a new pattern PDF that Jenny & Nicole are knitting, and
Cast on a new project.

I'm suddenly struck with the thought - if that sweater is too big, I bet the cute dress I ordered yesterday is too. ~Curses~.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Testing the resiliency

The term "stress" - as it is currently used - was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change".

We all have stress. We’ve all heard ad nauseum about Fight-or-Flight, any reasonably up to date woman can give you an intelligent discourse on the basic brain chemicals that we’re hopped up on in response to all those “tigers” out there. They can even give you a comparative commentary on how relaxing/recharging is different based on the activities needed to release chemicals in women vs men. Both halves of the species need to return to the cave. One to climb into a solitary charging cradle and one to have interaction with sympathetic listeners.

What happens when the tiger lives in the cave? When that suspicious sound you heard in the back corner turns out to be large & dangerous; waiting for the hunger to build before it pounces and devours your future? When it’s there in your mind, growling in the night?
Obviously as knitters and spinners we chose to indulge in our hobbies to release stress. Hence why this week has included a pair of SportWeight socks on 2.5mm, Tofu - who is going to Georgia to live with a little girl who has an inoperable brain tumor, and 120 yards of worsted weight "in the grease" 3 ply for mittens. The marl is for the hand and the solid chainply will be striped cuffs.

I've also re-read some old favourites, listened to hours of music, walked so much my plantar fascia hates me, and I suppose I will clean this place sometime in the near future.

What do y'all like to do to return to the still, quiet, silence of the mind?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Nibble nibble

I had a week that was roughly equivalent to ripping out 1200 yards of mohair lace knitting in a cobweb gauge. But we're not going to focus on that. Instead, I'm looking at the future. A future that will hopefully include a lovely light worsted weight 3 ply marled yarn for mittens. I'm actually going to chain ply a smidgeon for solid coloured striped cuffs and then marled mitten hands. Should be off the needles in time for my retirement to Northern Arizona.

I nibbled away at the spinning of this - 4 ounces of Corridale/BFL, stripping the roving down to roughly it's single colours and then spinning each individually. The natural definitely had more grease/nupps/2nd cuts in it and came out thicker, so I presume that's my shortest yardage. My goal in early May was to get back to a little daily spinning. Just 15 minutes a day. Of course, most days the soothing rhytmn sucked me in and in some cases, an hour was happily spent "treadling" in time to music & letting the sheepy goodness engage my fingers.

Now that summer heat is upon me, I will have to move the furniture around so that the wheel lives in the room with AC, extreme heat & humidity can't be good for the wood, not to mention being a sweaty experience for poor 'dainty' me. The very things that make this tiny apartment nice in winter, make it a sweatlodge in summer.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Because I said it once and I still believe it.

Decoration Day (previous post) is upon us again, and I don't think I can say it better than I've already said it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In the modern vernacular - Bling

“She would fritter it away of course, in small unimportance’s, so that, in the end, she would not know what she had done with it. But perhaps a series of small satisfactions; scattered like sequins over the texture of everyday life was of greater worth than the academic satisfaction of owning a collection of fine objects at the back of a drawer.” Josephine Tey

Since the universe is still wiping the floor with me I’ve been clinging to my resolution to notice the small things. The “Sequins” scattered throughout my life.

I picked up 2 skeins of Malabrigo Silky to pair with some Malabrigo Worsted to knit Colonnade, got to the lace part and discovered that all those double YOs were a wrist killer (too much like crochet). So I ripped that and cast on Pettine instead. Pettine is knit sideways with 2 different lace edgings with mismatched repeats. One set of instructions on page 2 and one chart on page 5. I went ahead and matched the chart up with the other edging on one sheet ~ it's the little things. The new "simplified" instructions mean I can enjoy an old favourite book in a new audio format with my cherished headphones. (Last year I bought audiophile grade headphones with inline iPod controls. Now I can Pause, FF, control volume from the wire without fumbling for the player. Especially nice if you want to pause the music & think for a moment.

Other joys in life include good tools. I sprung for a new pair of Blackthorn DPNs in the 2.5mm size for my sportweight yarns. They were such a tactile joy that these socks, which were invisioned for future airport knitting? Yeah, one sock done; the other already on the leg. This project also touched on other small treats in life. I used a channel island cast on; drawing on my love of learning new techniques. It's in a "Gulf" wool/nylon blend I've never used before. A breed just sturdy enough that I get to indulge in frequent hand lotion slathering. I think these will translate into warm cushy hardwearing winter standbys.

I've been seeking the contentment brought on by daily spinning. The yellow is a Falklands 56 micron that I am spinning woolen into a 3 ply worsted weight. I expect to have enough yardage to knit up the Brattleboro hat from New England Knits.

I finally bought a lazy Kate. I chose the Ashford one for portability. It's neither an inspired design nor lovely to look at, but with some tweaking I think I will get years of hard use from it.

In an effort to just feel like a "human" again I went to dinner with a friend. Had a lovely time eating fatty foods and laughing. Then we went to Target and I prescribed myself a new journal and pen for stress management. Even though I usually destroy my scribblings; the ability to "talk" to someone who doesn't interrupt, judge, blame or ridicule is very healing. I can be selfish, bored, moody, illogical, fearful or furious - all the things I can't be when people are watching. Additionally, since I have no expectation of a response, when there isn't one it doesn't hurt like the rebuff of silence from a friend after you've opened up and said something you immediately wish you could retract.

The other upside to multiple small joys is they are less likely to all be stolen at once. Someone can swipe your dream car, your heirloom jewels, and your precious StarWars memorabilia. You can lose your house, your retirement fund, your future. But it’s harder to collect up these little scattered delights and erase them all at once.

Oh, and if you receive a note written in Crayon? Well, Crayons are a little box of joy too.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's not food, drugs, or drink.

Several years ago Chelle and I had an interesting conversation about why it is when you are being kicked around by the big things, you become obsessed with the small things. We decided that it's a control issue. When you can't control the huge life changing events, you chose to lose all perspective about the little things: focusing on finding the "perfect" handbag, shoes, yarn, knitting pattern, eyeliner, tablecloth, Whatever.

After a week in which I was so miserable I couldn't stand myself, I self-medicated by becoming obsessed with some little things. And following the advice of Epictetus:
"Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope."
I opted for several small things.

I started trying to return to spinning 15 minutes a day - every day. And the Hobbledehoy is the perfect tiny amounts:
In keeping with my theme of fretting the small stuff I may have spent many hours searching for the perfect shawlette pattern only to decide to knit a stranded tam instead. Now I need to finish at least 4 of the colours before I can cast on.

"Little things" also decribe the tiny cables of Cookie A's BFF socks. Knit in Dream in Colour Smooshy. Which is a lovely yarn. But if I could only have one sock yarn for eternity I would probably chose Baby Boom instead.

The last of the small obsessions: tiny little dachshund legs. This will be a small project that will take a long time. The gauge is knit sooooo tightly that it bothers my forearms. So a couple of rounds a day and I'll have it finished in time for the recipient's birthday. Tofu by DangerCrafts. (In a sidenote, if you want to see the sweetest baby feet photo of all time...stop by Rebecca Danger's blog)

If you were on the shoreline of my life this week watching me dash myself against the rocks, I apologise for any stray splinters that might have hurt your feelings. I'm still chewing on it all, but the incipient madness seems to have abated somewhat.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


This is why you go to Festivals with people: I would never buy this on my own; but divvied betwixt us, it was worth the money. I did not share the Scotch; which was also worth the money because 300ml left a middlish sized woman with no ill effects the next morning.

It wasn't all food and games.

My modest haul included the Lucy Neatby angelic chorus newly revised Finishing book, a cute button that reads "I was a nice girl before I started all this knitting," and 4 ounces of Merino-Tencel 50/50 top packed as 6 colours. My plan is to spin a light fingering 2ply and knit a shawl, hopefully by MDSW 2013.

The weather was lovely today so I took the wheel outside and spun up the first .66; the denim blue tone. I think I'll knit Alyssum again because it's well suited to multi-hued knitting, but would welcome any ideas.

Now, if you'll pardon me, there's still Scotch in that bottle...

Friday, May 06, 2011


A little bit ago I realized that it was getting to be time to think about my annual Mother’s Day post. Or as I mentally label it…my Mother’s Day Wallow.

Except it’s not really a wallow.  To me wallowing is all noise and splashing around creating a messy scene while you sit on a stable foundation.  It’s the kiddy pool.

This place…this place of solace and peace? It’s different. Harder to explain. Harder to share. It’s the place below the chop of the water; after you’ve gone down the last time and discover what’s below the waves.   When you’ve learned to live with what you miss.

It’s a cool, smooth weightless space.  So encompassing that you’re not even aware of it until you struggle back to the surface and get a cold splash to the face, drowning once again. It’s peace, not dependent upon fortunate circumstances, present even when things are “not going your way.”

When my son died that November there was pain, despair, all that you would expect, but there was also the emotional life preserver of my daughter.  There was a certain amount of “turning everything off so you can get through so much pain” because a 2 year old will not let you dissolve.   Then I lost her that May and life became the type of insult from which you think you’ll never recover.  An incredible tsunami that destroys everything in its path, with a continous flow of aftershocks and waves.

Of course, the first few times you struggle to stay afloat, fearing drowning.  That fear separates you from the strength that lies deeper. You cannot conceive of anything other than drowning. Some people even manage a careful back float, maintaining equilibrium, not buoyed by the waves but not buffeted by them either.  The disadvantage with this is that it steals the good as well as the bad.  You can’t have any emotion or memory about the situation without upsetting the balance and beginning the struggle again.  

I am a coward; I can’t live in that type of pain. Eventually I stop flailing around and sink.  As time goes by withdrawal begins, not wanting to be brought back to the surface with its struggle.  In these cool depths I’ve come to learn that loss can stop being a soul-crushing sharp-edged blade that lashes a thousand cuts with every breath.  It can eventually become something that lets love return to your life.

If you let it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lord Peter and Harriet...

Whoops, wrong Wimsey. I meant WHIMSY.

I've been drug through GrownUp Land for the last few months and finally in mental exhaustion I rebelled. I started this about 10 days/2 weeks ago.

It's not strictly anatomical. There's no vena cavae, and the aorta loops around to form the illusionary cutaway of the pulmonic and aortic valves, but it's all for fun anyway.

And not content to stop there...I treated myself to Rebecca Danger's Book of Knitted Monsters. Soooo Adorable. And after a couple of days of looking, cast on this little gal:

As you can see, she's ready to vacation with FAW next year. She's the Lydia monster, but FAW wanted ears and preferred the snaggletooth. She's also in the Colours of FAWs new HEMI Challenger, hence her name: Hemi.

But all that tight gauge worsted on 3.75mm needles is hard on the forearms, so I've been lunchtime knitting: Cookie A's BFF socks in Dream in Color Smooshy in ?Blue Lagoon? I got the yarn in a destash and it was unlabeled. (also covered in animal hair, blech)but it looks like Blue Lagoon to me. What I really need is a nice garter stitch project, but there are Monsters calling my name....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Perhaps I don't still hate the Beach.

Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl
Off the needles: the Ginkgo in Birthday yarn! Shepherd Sock in the Intrigue colourway, from The Loopy Ewe. I used about 400 of the 435 available, making the large size and plan to throw away the pattern and never knit it again! The last 33 rows made me seriously think about just ripping the entire thing out and knitting something else. It was just not my flavour of lace. In order to get the dramatic curves there was a lot of decreasing against the grain. Tedious. Very tedious. But I think the shawl and the colourway are a perfect match for each other and look forward to wearing this often.

About the title.  Friends who lurve the beach were teasing me about my disdain for it.  Was it the sand? The wind? What? And it's some of those things, but mostly it's the loneliness. This provoked much merriment, but made me wonder where the answer came from.  And in thinking on it, I found my answer. 
When I was very young and still lived with my Mother she used to live for the days she was off work and could go deep sea fishing.  I was an unfortunate child for her to be blessed with, as the mere thought of a boat induces mal de mer.  Simple solution?  Drop me at the beach for the day.  Usually before dawn, and pick me up sometime after dark.  And there...there is my hatred of beaches.  A child under ten with no money, no lunch, and no idea when-if-someone will come get them.  The mornings were nice, I always knew it would be hours, so I would play on the swings and such, knowing no one would be looking for me.  But then, the day would get hot, I would be hungry, and I would start to haunt the "boring" end of the beach because woe unto the child who was not waiting at the seawall when Mother pulled up.   And there were a couple of occasions where they forgot me until after they'd been out drinking for hours, gone home, and no kid.  Oops.  
So beaches make me think of being alone and no one ever coming.  Which is silly, because decades later I'd get in a taxi and kick the arse of anyone who stood me up at the beach like that.  After I ate lunch, of course.  Better yet: I'd drive so I could leave whenever I wanted. 

What the heck does this have to do with shawls? Nothing. Everything.  It has to do with having a life so rich that episodes like that don't twist you into someone bitter.  With having good friends.  Fabulous friends.  Friends that when disaster strikes send yarn from your favourite yarn store.  It's all tied in with courage and fear, and the knowledge that in my life today: someone will come eventually if I just ask.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why knitting is better than drugs or drink.

When you've got mental worries and you're high, you may not be worried but you're not solving anything either. When you've got worries and you knit, you bang out a sock in a week.
Pointelle on 1.75 mm Blackthorn DPNs with Fiesta Baby Boom. 3 ounces of a 4 ounce skein

Drunks usually give you their opinion whether you want it or not. Knitters usually just become fascinated with their yo,K3tog,yo rhythm. In my case, this is a good thing, because so often what I'm thinking is definitely not something that should be shared if harmony is desired. It also creates a buffer of time, you don't just leap into the fray, you wait until you've reached a good point in the chart to put the project down. By then, the urge may have passed, or you've rethunk it.

When drugs are your choice, you tend to stick to only a small menu. When you're done with a knitting fix, there's a wide field of possibilities for your next toke/pipeful. And there's no problem if someone asks you to pee in a cup. You've probably needed to go for an hour but kept doing "just one more row."

When you're drunk and hug someone, you mostly spill their drink. When you knit and hug someone, they have warm clavicles for years.