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Saturday, May 2, 2015

What if the world is your oyster... and you don't even like oysters?

This post is in tribute to a theme that has arisen in my Very Favorite Virtual Place--my 'dorm' in Ravenclaw Tower, and forgive me as I ruminate through some Hard Work I did while taking Rev. Tamara Lebek's "Personal and Professional Power" class at Ferry Beach from July 5-11, 2014.

May 2, 2015: I just found this unpublished; I wrote it months ago.  It is time to publish it.

I sat on the big, stately dining hall porch in a comfy rocker, with my very first assigned conversation partner and contemplated power.

I remember feeling powerful as a child.  But I don't know when that feeling went away.

And I didn't know how to get it back.

I also can't remember, honestly, how long I've been carrying what I can only describe as a weight on my chest.  It has perceptible feeling--to me, anyway, though it's a ghost weight only I can feel, which no one could measure.  I can't remember it coming.  I can't remember how long it has been there.  I can't remember when I lived without it last--except I am sure I wasn't born with it.  I am also sure it has been growing in strength over recent years.

The blur of the week... talking about recognizing facial microexpressions (for an idea of what this means, watch the show Lie to Me) and cultural awareness of power, and definitions of power and more small-group conversations, and an experiential exercise... ended abruptly for me on Thursday afternoon when I, almost reluctantly, attended a session on Intercultural Conflict Style.  

It was at least the third inventory we'd taken that week, but it came with unusual instructions.

"Answer the questions," said Rev. Tamara, "as if there are no consequences."

We prevaricated.  She clarified.  "Answer them the way you would if there were no one else on earth but you."  We looked askance.  She clarified again, and then we just started in, trusting the process as we'd been attempting to do all week.

The scoring for this assessment is thus: you have 5 points.  You may break up the 5 points any way you want, assigning some to the first and some to the second of each pair of answers.   You may give all 5 to one and zero to the other, or 2-3, 3-2, 4-1, or 1-4.

My lightbulb went off and my earth shattered on question 2.

A: Maintain emotional calm & stability.
B: Allow my own emotions to come out when interating with the other party.

You can see the crossings-out on my paper as I switched from my first response: A:4, B:1 through weighting them 2, 3 and then finally, registering and taking to heart Rev. Tamara's instructions, going for the truth: A:1 B:4.

Because if there were no consequences, I would be a heck of a lot more emotional than I look.  

This is copyrighted material so of course I won't share more.  It costs about $15 to take this test and you can find out more at

When we read the results, my one, single, resounding, earth-shaking Aha! moment of the week came, picked me up, and left me shaking.

The test is scored on a 4-square grid.  The X axis is "Indirect-Direct" and the Y axis is "Emotional Restraint-Emotional Expressiveness."  The four quadrants are "Discussion" (High I-D and low R-E); "Accommodation" (Low I-D, Low R-E); "Dynamic" (Low I-D, High R-E) and Engagement (High I-D, High R-E).

We lined up according to our numbers for each axis for Indirect-Direct.  All of us had numbers between 23 and 45--Lower than 23 puts you into Quadrants 3 and 4--Accommodation and Dyamic, styles usually preferred in Latin America, Asia, and the Arab Middle East.  (And, please note, the test comes with a 16-page interpretation handbook, so what I'm doing here is dreadfully oversimplifying!).  Anyway, most white North Americans tend toward high Directness, and our group of 16 people was right in line (though not all were white).  

Then we did the Restraint/Expressiveness numbers.  

The group's numbers were much lower--we had people with numbers as low as 7.  And then there was a range of people between 7-20 with the number 23 being the center point.   But there were no 23s.  There was 20, standing on my right side.  And then there was me, number 28.  And to my left were 2 other people.  13 people in the room were in "Discussion."  I was in "Engagement."

And as we talked it hit me.  Throughout the week we'd been talking about what happens when a member of a cultural minority--a person who's Black or Hispanic, or gay or lesbian or transgender or bisexual or whatever--suppresses a significant part of themselves in order to get along at work (or in life).  Play it straight at work so I don't get fired... ignore cultural slurs and ignore my own values so I don't stand out so much...  Intellectually I understood this could happen--I've seen it happen, I've lived it a bit, even, as a member of a gay family in the 1980s.  Rev. Tamara likened it to cutting off your leg.

By forcing myself to live in Discussion when my soul is in Engagement, I've been cutting off my leg.  I know why I do it: I'm naturally loud; I have an animated face; I like to be silly and sad and angry and joyful and after the emotions pass I let them go.  But while I'm having them, people look at me like I have at least one extra head, and maybe horns.  So I've learned to contain myself.  Apparently the lid on the jar I use to contain myself is located right in the middle of my solar plexus, where that weight has been living.

I've been practicing opening the jar.  I don't want to go all OMG SILLY SAD ANGRY JOYFUL!!! on everyone all at once.  But I came to some seriously amazing realizations:

1) That One Person Who Pushes All My Buttons, who spends her time expressing herself loudly and not being heard MIGHT be living in Engagement.  Instead of protecting myself from her, I may be the person best qualified to meet her where she lives and help her get her needs met.  I've always feared that I will meet anger with anger and make the situation worse, and lose control of myself.  It turns out, that might actually be the best course of action.  

2) This isn't a blame game.  But I'm reasonably sure that at least some of this started when I had to learn to keep the Family Secret.  My mom coming out as a lesbian in 1983 was absolutely terrifying.  If my dad had found out, I'm very sure he would have made her life--and mine, and my brother's--a living hell.  And people were cruel about LGBT people, and I was already fairly vulnerable.  I came back in High School into a place where I had friends and some social standing (at least among the geeks and nerds who were my refuge, and who are still my people, thank goodness!) from my time in elementary school when I was close to the bottom of the pecking order, bullied and outcast by many of my classmates.  So telling my friends about my mom was out of the question.  And mom barely had the wherewithal to negotiate her own path down that rocky road; looking back I know I needed help finding my way to grace, sympathy, and acceptance, but I didn't know how to ask for that help, and I'm not sure mom would have known how to help me get there.

3) And in my Virtual Dorm, we've been contemplating class reunions and wish fulfillment and success just recently.  I'm a deeply different person from the teenager I was.  I, too, thought the World was my Oyster--that I would Work Hard and Achieve my Dreams.  I layered arrogance and cocksureness on top of myself to cover up a lot of hurt and insecurity. I thought highly of myself--at least, I'm very certain that most of the people in my life thought I did.  I really didn't.  I never have, not in the "I can do anything" kind of way.

And so I've changed. A lot of those dreams I held aren't dreams anymore.  I no longer believe that I can bulldoze my way through life.  I measure success differently from the way I did way back then.  I've fought the Black Dog of Depression more than once, and while it's never won, I can't always get it to lie down and heel, either.  I let the weight on my chest get heavier and heavier and tried more and more to fit myself into the Discussion mold... but no more.  I can restrain myself to keep from scaring people, but I'm no longer going to be embarrassed about being an emotional human being.  It's going to be a learning process, because I really am surrounded by hundreds of people who are all living in Discussion, and if I live in Engagement they will continue to look at me funny.

I'll tell you something, though: since last Thursday, the weight has been gone.  It came back a little on Monday night at a work meeting, so I know that work is a place that's going to be Hard, but I've rarely experienced something so thoroughly altering, in my whole life.

Is the world my oyster? If I go to my 30th reunion in 2015-16, I won't be thinking about whether I can impress my former classmates with all my accomplishments and successes.  I'm certainly not going to be the person everyone admires for maintaining her weight and clothing size after all this time.  But I think I still love some of the same people I loved then.  And I think there are some different  people I love more now than I did then, and some other people I loved then who, sadly, are no longer my people.  If I go, I'll go to have fun, not to impress anyone.  I'll go with love in my heart and a smile on my face.  I'll go, with grace, from the place where I live.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

One Human Race

I have to say it.

I don't have all the facts on Freddie Gray or what's happening in Baltimore.

Neither does anyone.

The old adage "There are two sides to every story" is false.  There are as many sides to every story as there are people in the story, which in this case is thousands.

I used to tell my preschoolers (who are universally into Bad Guys, by the way, it's totally a developmental thing) that I do not believe in Bad Guys.  No human being is inherently evil.  Their actions may be evil, but the thing in their hearts is--self preservation, self-defense... taking care of yourself in a world that maybe has provided no options.

I have done things I wish I hadn't done.  I have never set out to do a thing to hurt others.  But I have hurt people.  I am in the privileged place of having the time, resources, and energy to see when I've hurt others and try to fix it.  Usually.  I try my best.  So does every single human being I've ever met.

But people who have lived in godforsaken conditions, in fear and terror--may not have that luxury.  I believe strongly that our poor, tired, huddled masses have been kept that way because those who live in privilege are convinced that resources are limited--that if the poor had more, the rich would have less.  This has led to wildly uneven distribution of wealth, as wealthy people grab more and more wealth.  And--here's the kicker--they have the soon-to-be-former middle class convinced that we have to hold on to what's ours so that those lower class people don't get it.  In their fear, they have caused us to hate and fear those we should be caring for--so that they can grab more and more resources and go largely unnoticed.

I think our resources are only limited because we treat them as if they were.  If we all entered into a covenant of stewardship with the people and places of our planet; if those who have grabbed so much that they and their progeny couldn't spend it in a thousand generations would stop grasping and send those resources into the world, if we would care for our planet as a home we wish to preserve forever rather than as a reserve to be used up for our comfort in the now... I believe we would grow in wealth and materials rather than finding it all spent up.

Baltimore is an economic issue.  It is people with nothing finally being fed up with having nothing. Violence isn't the answer, but I understand in my heart why people who have been kept down through their whole lives by systemic oppression would finally snap.

I also understand how police officers, who enter into the force with every honorable intent of protecting and serving, can be lulled into comfort with a military response to peaceful protest, or to treating some folks among those they serve as less than human.  It is the exact same human condition that causes the looters and rioters to feel that they can loot and riot: they have a crowd behind them. If 99% of the police force said "this is not right" and treated all their constituents with respect, the one guy who tried to beat up a kid for shoplifting would be quickly and publicly removed from duty.  If 99% of the people on the streets said, "No, we will not burn and loot," then the one woman who broke a window would be quickly and firmly restrained.

This same crowd mentality is what caused the stupid "Pumpkin Riot" up in Keene NH last year, when a bunch of drunken frat boys decided that it would be fun to turn over cars and throw stuff and punch people in the streets.  They didn't even have anything to be angry about, but they had a crowd. Having a crowd fuels bullies.  In the case of Baltimore we have two crowds--one which bullies systematically and the other which was driven to fighting back.

Not one single one of those people believes they are evil.  They all, every one, believe they are acting rightly.  And: they are all right.  They are all acting in a way that the system has told them is correct, or at least justified in the moment.  They are all human-merely-beings: fallible and vulnerable.

Pointing fingers at one 'side' is not the answer.  Calling people 'animals' or 'thugs' is not the answer. Making sweeping statements about police forces is not the answer either.

Treating people with respect and dignity is the answer.

Living together without looking over our shoulders at Those People, wondering if they are trying to take our toys, is the answer.

Recognizing where we have and others have not, and doing something about it is the answer.

Recognizing when we have power and others have none, and making every effort to equalize power, is the answer.

It will take strength and fortitude and humbleness and we must strip ourselves of moral outrage and any illusion that there is 'us' and 'them.'  There is only us.  There is one human race, and we are all in it, and either we all win the race together, or surely we will all die.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Faerie Gardens, Part the First

Not long ago, I got sucked into a Pinterest black hole, completely egged on by friends who shall remain nameless.

Go on Pinterest and search Fairy Gardens and Fairy Houses.  Then come back here.  No, wait! read this first, because otherwise you'll never come back.  You'll spend a month or two pinning cool pictures, and then you'll go to the craft store and find things that could be made into Fairy Houses, and then you'll spot the wonderful bark that fell off the neighbor's tree in the last storm and is just lying there! and you'll forget all about looking at the pictures of what I did! So, read this first, and then go search Pinterest.  And then take lots of pictures so I can read about your adventures... unless by then I'm off on another journey of my own.

After the Pinterest binge, I ended up at Michael's finding a lovely bird house.  And stones.  And grout, because grout.

And Popsicle sticks!  Because the little hole for the birdie was not an adequate door, and a fae will need windows, right?  Right.

We will not discuss the damage to my thumbs from trying to use an X-acto knife to mitre the corners of the window frame.  I have no regrets.

The grouting process took a couple of weeks.  I wasn't working on it solidly all that time, but I could only really do one side at a time.  I glued the rocks on first with tacky glue (translated into French: Colle inélégante.  I love this fact, don't ask me why).  I had to do one side, let it dry (because, the dripping! oh, it was extreme!)  Then I used some Martha Stewart grout, because that is what the craft store had, to fill the spaces in between the stones.  I could sort of do two sides at a time, but the grout got dry and crumbly and I ended up going back to redo the second side with wetter, less crumbly grout later.  

Once the grout was on and dry and patched and repaired and dry again, I went to the neighbor's to collect the awesome bark.  I hadn't thought through how I'd attach it to the roof... but I wound up cutting it into shingles and only using a small amount, which means I have some left for making other cool things later.

I sacrificed a lot of Colle Inélégante to the task of roofing the house.  I'm going to need a new bottle soon!

I found a cool, very curvy piece for the ridge post.

And then David and I went over to the garden store and picked out our stuff implements of fairy gardening: a 1-cubic-foot planter, soil, and four awesome succulent plants.  

We made a path from stones, planted the plants, transplanted some lovely climby green succulent foliage that has found a home in one of my old flowerpots and grows little tiny yellow flowers, put in a picket fence, and voilà! A faerie garden!  We still have a couple of things we want to add... because what fairy doesn't want a gazing ball and a bird bath! but this is our first installment.  And I'm pleased with how it turned out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thoughts on Running While Fat and Other Tales.

Harmonic convergence inspires me to write.

Today, for example, a friend posted a link to this blog post:

in which the author notes that she, as a fat woman, gets regularly harrassed by men as she runs or walks for exercise.  Things that would make you want to take a bath, and maybe scour out your ears with a brillo pad.  Really.  Read it; I'm not repeating it here because I'll need another shower if I do.

My mom responds to the friend's post, saying that she regularly experiences people--again, mostly men--slowing down near her house, rolling down the windows, and shouting things like "f***in' dykes" at her, and presumably at her partner as well.  Her partner happens to be a woman.

In the article above, the author notes that it really doesn't help much if, when you're trying to talk about the experience of, say, being rudely propositioned out of pity because you're such a fat c-word, to people you love and trust, or to your facebook friends, or whatever, to be told that "All men are not like that."

Of course all men are not like that.  And all straight people are not like that.  And all white people are not like that, either.  But saying that does not mean it didn't happen, and does not mean it didn't make you feel dirty, or disgusting, or angry, or despairing.  Having someone say "All men are not like that" distracts from the matter at hand: that some horrible excuse for a human being just made you feel like dirt.  

And the harmonic convergence part hits close to home.  Because it concerns people from my high school, from my town, and because they are people on my facebook friends list, this seems like both a twist of the knife and a trip back through time to when I was afraid to be myself.

One friend posted a link to a recent article and picture of Michael Sam, gay NFL draftee, making out with his boyfriend in celebration of being picked for a team.  She wrote how happy the sweetness of this picture was making her.  The other friend commented something along the lines of "It's just as sweet when a straight man kisses his girlfriend."  Friend one--we'll call her Sue, because that's totally not her name--has deleted the post and so I don't know exactly what was said.    Friend two, whose name is not Camille or anything resembling Camille, got offended when Sue took offense.  They have now unfriended each other, and the first I knew about it was when Camille posted a rant on her page calling Sue by first and last name, stating she was a 'bitch', and saying that Sue had taken something she'd said 'wrong' and gone ballistic on her.  She said in a comment that Sue got upset because 'I called gay people and straight people equal.'  

And I totally missed the boat to comment on this behavior.  I waited, uncomfortable, and by the time my response was well thought-out and complete, Camille's post was 24 hours cold and I don't want to go on there poking a dead horse and starting it up again.  Apparently Camille and/or her friends and family have been inappropriately pursuing the matter and harrassing Sue (again, not something I can see, and therefore it is hearsay, but Sue is freaked out and scared).

So.  The harmonic convergence bit, right?  Here it is.

Camille is wrong.  Not morally wrong--at least the point I want to focus on isn't about morality--but factually wrong.  When she said that she called gay people and straight people equal? She didn't.  Straight people don't, as a rule, worry about posting pictures of themselves kissing the people they love.  While a nude photo of me having sex with my husband would get me banned online and probably fired from my church job (no picture like this exists, by the way--it is purely theoretical!), a picture of me smooching him at our wedding raises not one single eyebrow and garners the most 'likes' of anything I posted all last year.  But my friends who are gay? Some of them don't, even now, dare to put a picture of their life partners on their desks at work.  Because it is still legal in many places in the US to fire someone for being gay.  

I'm going to say that again.

It is still possible to fire someone for being gay.  In the US.  Here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So, when a man--who just a very very short time ago, days or weeks ago, would not have been allowed to play football because of the person he loves--gets to freely be himself and we all get to see him love someone and enjoy how sweet it is... this is in no way 'equal to' the picture of me smooching my hubby at our wedding.  It is far and away, incredibly, sublimely more amazing and fantastic than my wedding picture!  It is a celebration of brand new, life-affirming freedom, and it is wonderful!  And if a straight person, who has never once had to worry that someone would discover her secret or fire her or harrass her or beat her up for being who she is, comes by and says, "Oh, but straight people are cute too!" she, whether intentionally or not, is kicking this wonderful, special moment in the teeth, saying, "You are not special! I'm going to normalize you so fast you won't even know what happened, because I can't let this special moment shine out.  That would give credence to it and make it right."

Of course all men are not like that.  As I quipped to the friend who posted that article way up there, if all men were like that our species would have died out long ago.  But almost all women have the common experience of having been treated like a dirty, common, horrible thing by some man sometime in their lives--I mean, really, who among us hasn't been wolf-whistled at or propositioned from a moving car, or called fat, or called thin-and-therefore-bitchy... we've all been there.  It makes us put on a hard shell and protect ourselves from harm.  And when those who purport to be our allies refuse to recognize it, refuse to hear about it when it happens? That perpetuates it.  When you dust it off with "All men are not like that," you're allowing it to go on.  When you dust off the wonder of a gay man being allowed to freely kiss his love in public by pointing out that straight people have been doing that for years, you're stuffing gay people right back into the closet they've been fighting to escape.

So, Camille, I hold out little hope that anything I say will change your mind, but if you read this, and I've touched you at all, I hope you'll at least delete your nasty post with Sue's name in it.  If you're really getting this, then think about why that picture made you so uncomfortable that you needed to make the comment you did.   And maybe next time take a minute to listen, and put yourself in someone else's shoes.  It might save a whole lot of high-school drama.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bodley's Cardigan: The Agony of Defeat

Fessing Up

So, it's been a while. 


The last evening of November was... disheartening to say the least.  I thought I had plenty of time to finish the collar--it's just a collar, after all! but.  I was wrong.  The collar's beautifully designed--you cast on an extra 35 stitches and then on the way back, you SSK the last collar stitch together with the first yoke stitch on the needle.  And there are... um, a lot... of yoke stitches on the needle at that time.  So.  35XAlot= 35 Alots.  Except it's actually 70XAlot because you knit 35 on the right side, SSK, wrap & turn, and then you knit 35 back to the edge of the collar.  So that's 70 Alots of Stitches.  I won't do the math.

And then... about 2 hours before the deadline... I ran out of yarn.  Ran out! I'd spun an extra skein a week before, just to be safe--but no, not enough.  So, I went upstairs to my stash and dug out a skein of Plymouth Encore Worsted, and kept knitting.  I knew I'd have to rip it out later and replace it, but at least I'd get my sweater finished!

At 2:50am Eastern time--that's 11:50 Princess Onica Standard Time, the time to which all House Cup events are aligned--I looked at the 2 inches I had left and realized it wasn't going to happen.  I attempted to take my defeat picture and post it to the thread, and I didn't even make that--as I was posting, the thread got locked, and so.  

This is where I was when I stopped.

Count em: 13 stitches left. 

So, I cried.  Then, because it was the middle of the freakin' night, I went to bed.  I figured I'd finish this sucker in December and turn it in for 10 points to Detention in January.  

I didn't sacrifice all my points on this sweater, mind.  I earned points for the 50% and 75% turn-ins (I have to look it up to figure out how many that is, but it was a couple hundred I think, and I made those both on time).  But, meantime, I'd also sacrificed my Order of the Phoenix mission in order to finish my NEWT... and so, I had 25% or so of a pair of giant socks to finish as well... sigh...  I was tired.  Bed was in order.

House Cup to the Rescue!

To my delight, the House Cup came to the rescue.  In December, they announced that they were bringing back an idea that had been tried once before: The Detention OWL.  The purpose of the Detention OWL is to finish up a bunch of projects that weigh on your mind.  Well, I have all my 12 OWL badges... so I hadn't been planning to do Advanced Studies at all this term except maybe a Phoenix mission (2 pairs of socks FTW!)... but I thought, wow, I could finish my sweater AND the Giant Socks and the mittens I started for my niece in December but didn't finish AND my shipwreck shawl (the need for which is, at long last, fast approaching... no need to say more here).  So, I proposed a Detention OWL at 3:01am on January 1--because, they were only accepting 60 candidates, and over the course of a couple of weeks I realized I must do this project.

The project I proposed is OWL worthy but, for me, fairly modest.  Knitting the rest of the socks... done.

Those are on Size 13 men's feet, by the way... 

Spinning 40 rolags (the brown is wool I bought--all I had left of the Giant Alpaca bag was gross and very hay-filled)...

which I carded during the Super Bowl, by the way, into 200 yards of 2-ply yarn...


is done.


That's what I agreed to as my 50%, which got turned in 2 days ago.  I still have to knit the collar, knit the second mitten, and knit the last several rows of the shawl to get my badge.

Today I started knitting again.  I've completed about 2 inches of the collar (I had to rip out all the store-bought yarn, so when I started this morning, I had about 10 inches of collar left).  After the collar comes the button band, and then end weaving and washing and blocking.  And then--the wearing! That's the bit I'm looking most forward to... it seems the heat in my office may not actually get fixed until summer of 2015... I'm glad this cardigan is warm.

And just for a happy thought--here's a Flying Spaghetti Monster wishing you Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bodley's Cardigan: The Penultimate Post

Almost there!

I suspect this will be my penultimate Bodley's Cardigan post.  The sweater is coming in to the last little bits.  I've added the sleeves in--and didn't that go swimmingly? Why yes, yes it did!--and I've knit 9 1/2 of the 11 repeats of the yoke section.  Once I'm done with the yoke I do two repeats of the short rows section and then I'm on to the collar--and that's it!  I have till Saturday night to get my NEWT points, and I really think I'm in good shape to get there.

Joining the Sleeves

So, this is the first time I've done a bottom-up sweater where you join in the sleeves and then work the whole thing, decreasing in a raglan style.  I worked 11" of the sleeves before I joined them on--it's a 3/4 sleeves sweater, thank heaven, or I'd never get done in time, honest! and then I had just a minute of ... OMSQ, can I do it?  Does this make sense?

I trusted in the pattern, and because DovieJay is brilliant, it went exactly the way it was meant to do.

And then I knit...

And I knit knit knit knit.  There are short rows in the yoke.  German short rows, yay! They're easy and cool, and it makes it so I don't have to worry that the sticky alpaca will prevent me from knitting in the wrap.  And I knit and knit and knit, and suddenly it started looking like a sweater!

More Yarn, anyone?

I spun an extra skein of yarn a week ago.  I had to buy more roving--and of course I couldn't get the same kind of roving I bought before, and this is silkier and harder to make rolags with, but I did it.  And I'm glad I did.  I haven't added it in to the project yet, because I was thinking if I didn't use it I would use it for a class project instead.  But I think I will use it, even though I don't really need it.  I'm not going to run out of yarn, I don't think.  But Skein SadieLou, the last of the skeins I spun for this project, is a little rough.  I think it'll be okay when I wash the sweater, but I'm still not sure I want it on the collar. I'm going to use the softer yarn for the collar.

I'll just be traveling on...

We're heading to Pennsylvania on Sunday for Thanksgiving.  I probably can't work on this in the car, but on Thursday night, Friday, and Saturday morning I should have ample time.  I might even have time for a third class project, you never know... I've already got 2, and 25% on my Phoenix socks which didn't go quite as planned...

I'll have to bring something with me to work on if the sweater gets finished.

I'll see you all on the other side of a finished sweater!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bodley's Cardigan: into uncharted territory

First, I must gripe.  The new iOS lets you 'multitask' by shifting among open applications (but, sadly, does not let you actually close any without shutting the iPad all the way down, but that's another story).  However, the Blogger app seems to have missed the memo and I just lost a whole post while I was looking for something online.  I'll attempt to recreate now, but it's past my bedtime so I don't promise I'll be witty.

Beyond the Charts

I finished the charts last night just before switching over from Once Upon a Time to the baseball game (Go Red Sox!).  I've got a bit over 7 inches now--just 8.5 to go, in pattern, until the arm-hole decreases!  It might take a while.  I'm about halfway through my second skein and I need to get to the middle of the fourth skein by the end of October.  You may commence prayer, candle lighting (just not near the wool, please), smudging to cleanse evil spirits, whatever you think might help get me there.  I shall do my part by knitting.  I may have overstepped myself attempting to do this sweater while, you know, living my life.  And knitting a Phoenix (socks! They helped the Red Sox win, I swear!) and I also spun for a class, but I think it might be my only. I'm quite swamped.  NEWT first, other stuff later.  Prioritites.  I must get my first wand.

Anyway, progress:

The ribbing is a bit looser than I'd like, and it's a little hard to see the 'stained glass windows' pattern...

but it's coming out well enough and it will certainly be the warmest sweater I've ever knit.  It's very tight--I'm on size 2 needles! and I think it'll be a little less stiff once I wash it.  When I washed the swatch, dirt came out in amazingly larger proportions than when I washed the skeins, and everything softened up a lot.  And got tighter.  But softer.

Keeping the brain occupied

So, I spend a lot of time watching TV -- mostly Netflix except for the odd foray into ABC-land for Once Upon a Time.  I've watched several whole series since I started this project: Beauty and the Beast from the late 1980s (I learned 2 things: George RR Martin hasn't changed much in 25 years, and Ron Perlman must have been Benedict Cumberbatch's smoldering professor); Alphas, Continuum, and I've just begun Arrow.  

But there are other things to do while you knit or spin! I've been listening to audio books--I just went through all the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce, a re-listen for me--and I'm currently listening to The Alchemyst which is happily also a Fantasia workshop this term.  And I'm also reading.  According to Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitting master and creator of the February Lady Surprise Jacket among other awesome patterns, 

Some may gasp and stretch their eyes, but knitting and reading at the same time is just a matter of practice.  Of course you must love knitting and you must enjoy reading; if you don't love them equally, one at a time is sufficient.

--Elizabeth Zimmermann, The Knitter's Almanac, April (found at location 835 of my Kindle edition... I can probably reference a page at a later time).

So, reading and knitting.  This week the final ETA: sorry, penultimate book of the Heroes of Olympus: House of Hades by Rick Riordan was released.  Having required 3 years to mostly exise the unpleasant narration of the first book from my head (splutter splutter don't pronounce "Hera" like SheRa! splutter splutter), I simply refuse to listen to these, so reading it is! On my iPad, I can access my Kindle app, and it stands up on its little standy thing, and a page turn is just a matter of a quick swipe, and I can make the text large enough that I can sit back in my chair and knit and read and knit and read.  I mostly knit for a bit, then finish the page, turn it, and knit more... I'm not so much doing them at the same time as alternating them.  Still, I'm getting through this book... Annabeth and Percy are in dire straits, and of course Hazel and Jason are too... I'm going to guess it all gets resolved somehow by the end of the book since this is the last one, but Riordan can be tricky, so we'll see.

Okay, bed now.  Have a lovely night!