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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Losing the battle or surrendering the dance?

If hope is the soft belief that something good is on its way, despair is a cutting blade that shears off the future and poisons every sip of the present.

I lost a friend this week. Actually, I lost two. Both were by choice. One by my choice, a realization that energy invested would never equal energy returned.

The other, by his choice. As a young man with a painful and terminal disease he opted to take his own life. His wife is devastated, yet accepting. Actually, that’s been the interesting part. Experiencing the shockwave of reactions. It really brings home the concept that; as we let people into our lives they begin to feel that they own a piece of it. And they become angry if we take that piece away from them. No matter how small it was.

Conversely, the people with the largest investment have been most at peace with his decision; regardless of their own personal beliefs. The more intertwined the thread of his life was with ours, the more his pain transmitted to us, and our own pain makes us realize why he would want a release from that suffering. People with a smaller part in his life feel that he was selfish, wanting him to battle on for Their sake.

That’s where the challenges of love come into play. How to balance your own wants with the respect and acquiescence of another’s decision. And conversely, how to make your own decisions with kindness to those you care about. In the end, you have to knit to your own gauge and adapt the pattern to suit.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Leading a life of quiet...

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." HD Thoreau

In my case, not desperation, just quiet habit. I just keep chugging away. Better suited to Thoreau's "...and makes life seem inexpressibly serene and grand."

I cast off Wisp-Act II. Led on only by my remembered love of the first Wisp. It was no less a tedious bore to knit the second time. And after Chelle's Wisp arrived I did give serious consideration to ripping, but decided on a Wisp finished as better than a skein unknit.

I finished the Right Pointelle. With the non patterned foot. I did continue the extended ridgeline because I don't think that will be as annoying as weird lace patterns embossed on the top of my foot. And being a good knitter - promptly cast on the left one. Check for that photo in about 5 months.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Unraveling a friendship

We’ve all had them: those projects that we really like, that we dream of, visualize, fancy. Yet…they are filled with pitfalls.

First you swatch. The gauge, not quite right.
Swatch again, again, the math just a smidge off.

In the end, you decide…I want this project, I will knit really tightly, really loosely, on mismatched needles…I will mold myself to make this work. Rarely DOES this work.

Work around in hand, you cast on. Knit eagerly, but…it’s not right. The work doesn’t match the pattern. The pattern is a lace shawl, why are you suddenly knitting a 3 armed jumper for a turtle? You decide you’re tired. You’ll go to bed, and when you’re fresh, you’ll start again.

Okay, pattern, yarn, needles, good light, nice drink, everything you need to create a masterpiece. You carefully read the pattern. It sounds like it works. You cast on again; noticing the yarn is starting to look a little frayed. Quickly you find yourself back at the same wall.

Exasperated you hurl the project into a corner. You check the Web for errata. Aha! There it is- errata. You didn’t realize the pattern was written by a Murri in native dialect then translated by Ainu before being published in the form you purchased. With such a complex difference in backgrounds and terms…no wonder you were confused. It was a communication problem.

You break off the old yarn. You’ll start fresh with new yarn symbolizing your new understanding.

You make progress. Until you notice…what’s that sleeve like thing doing there again? There are NO appendages on a shawl! How did you end up here again?!?!

You set it aside. You get on with other knitting. Knitting that behaves. Knitting that works with you to create lovely things. Knitting that entertains, amuses, fulfills.

Occasionally you walk by the table, lightly touching the frustrating project. Lulled by the yarn, the tactile feel, or the depth of color. Your annoyance fades.

Perhaps, one day, you need those needles. The yard gnomes have made off with every other pair of needles that size you own. It’s a bizarre holiday in which all purveyors of craft supplies are closed. You are forced to go back to that project.

You pick it up, intending to place the triangle shaped round shawl on a leader line and use the needles elsewhere. But the yarn draws you in. You fish out the pattern and decide on a “quick row.”

Fatal mistake.

You’ve wandered out of the DMZ and are now back in the sphere of influence known as enemy territory. You realize this only as you hear the click of the landmine when you step on it.

Slipping free of this situation becomes your only goal, you no longer care about the potential beauty of the shawl. You want only to survive with everything intact.

You ease the needles away from the laddered stitches. You hold your breath, and in one desperate move- whip the cable from the work and leap back. The yarn falls on the floor, where you immediately begin a frenzied unraveling, winding it into a ball for the stash. You put the pattern at the bottom of a stack at the edge of the bookcase and bless yourself for a narrow escape.

Sometimes, when you are hunting through the stash you come across that ball. And the pain is still tangible. You think of all the potential that is contained in that yarn. But it still hurts so much that you can’t cast on again because the wound is too fresh. So you set it aside and knit a life with projects that don’t require so much effort to be happy with.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring vacation

Knitting doesn't always work the way we want it to. Sometimes we do everything disappoints. Sometimes we do nothing right...and it shines.

I finished my Elysium. And it was a beautiful spring day so I rushed right out to take photos- ignore the feet of snow in the background, it really was a shortsleeve kind of day.

I finished the knitting gamble 3 repeats short. In fact, I had to unravel my swatch to bind off. But that small amount of asymmetry doesn't really show. I had calculated that I had about 800 yds, the pattern called for 700. But since I don't have a yardage meter...I'm blaming my math.

I really like how the garter short rows played up the color sequencing of the fiber. None of which was planned. I just let the chips fall where they might during the spinning and plying. I did fiddle with the sleeve knitting using two skeins to keep each sleeve from being 2 big blocks of color.

In all, this was a lovely exercise in Acceptance, from the spinning through to the wearing. Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go find my halter top.