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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crossing the Bridge

This has been a very rough month for the pets in our family's life.

It all started four weeks ago today, when our beloved cat Chester went out and never came back.  I'm very much afraid I will never know what happened to him.  I still startle at what I think are glimpses of kitty in the corner of my eye--but they are the staircase, or a squirrel, or the increasingly brazen rabbit who doesn't seem to think our beagle barking is any threat to him at all.  I desperately miss my kitty.  He was--and I am officially moving to "was" here, because unless some kind stranger took him in and has not brought him to a vet or shelter yet (and he has a microchip, so if he ends up in a shelter or at a vet, I will find him), he must have been killed by the local fox or the local fisher cats or something--a Very Nice Cat.  He was loving and cuddly and sweet, and he never ate my yarn unless I was using it, and he made an awesome foot warmer.  Our not quite two years together were incredibly wonderful and I am sad.
Chester: Scourge of Chipmunks and Lover of Yarn
Sitting on a boy's feet.

Then, as we were searching for Chester, our neighbor put down her dear Corgi Georgie, and since then she has also put down Corgi Dana.  They were elderly and both were having many difficulties, but Ian misses barking at them across the intervening yard and the world is just a little less bright for four fewer Big Pointy Ears.

And then my friend Trisha's Corgi Tryst crossed the bridge, with his loving family's help.  Tryst the brave, Tryst the agile, Tryst the Eater of All Things, and especially the Things that are PEACHES.  I never met Tryst in real life, but he was an active part of my Virtual Life.  His brother Radar misses him, and so does his Wee human sister.  Ian misses his pen pal (you didn't know a beagle could have a pen pal, did you? but they wrote back and forth several times).

This morning I woke to the news that my brother has lost his dog Sasha to the Rainbow Bridge.  I still do not know details about what happened; Sasha was a huge part of his life for many years and a very faithful companion.  I shall always remember her wedging herself into bed between Tom and me, taking us for a Very Fast Walk in Estes Park, and being the most enthusiastic Flower Girl of all time at Evan's wedding.  Oh, bestest of Big Black Exuberant Puppies, may you find holes to dig and countless belly rubs on the other side.

Sasha, Queen of Exuberance and Mistress of the Automobile

I have been blessed by many many wonderful animals in my life.  Ian the Eager Beagle is as loyal and opinionated as anyone could ask in a dog; Emrys and Guinness and Mariah and Oscar were all blessed and loving beasts.  Flower and Duke, the guinea pigs, squeal and purr and tolerate us even though we don't clean their cages often enough, and even the silly frog has managed to stick with us.  Today I'm thinking about all the wonderful animals that have graced my life and the lives of the people I love.  Belly rubs and scritches for all!

Edited to add:  I talked to my brother, and Sasha's life ended very suddenly and without warning.  She had had a couple of UTIs/kidney problems, and these seem to be connected.  There is a slim chance that Sasha somehow ate rat poison; the symptoms are consistent.  If this is true, then there's concern for his other, much younger dog, Sushi, though she hasn't yet shown symptoms.  My candle is burning for my brother and his wonderful pets.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fearless Knitting

Almost no part of my life is without fear.  Fear of 'doing it wrong' or fear of hurting someone.  Fear of making someone angry or of being embarrassed.  I fear losing those I love and I fear being alone.  I fear change.  When I think about all the parts of my life that are motivated by fear of something, it fills me with grief.

People think, often, that one knits to relax.  How often have I heard, "Oh, I wish I could knit.  It must be so relaxing!"  Knitting doesn't relax me.  Knitting challenges me, stretches me, makes me strive toward new heights and depths and widths and breadths.  Knitting connects me, giving me that opening with people, even a brief one, that my introversion requires before I can have a conversation with a stranger.  I love knitting in public and seeing the little girls, eyes wide, who just come to watch.  Often they don't say a word, but they sit there, looking, soaking it up, because knitting speaks to something visceral in people--more often, in my experience, in girls and women than in men and boys, though not exclusively so.  Yarn sings to us.  Needles and hooks and spindles are the instruments of a craft that binds us together, clothes us, wraps us, brings us to new places.

I have met many a fearful knitter.  A woman approached me the other day on my way out of that oft-frequented coffee shop and said, "I was watching you knit.  I knit too, but you know, just basic stuff.  Just knits and purls."  I smiled and replied, "You know, it's all just knits and purls," and she started to explain that she only did knitting she didn't need to follow a pattern for.  I have that kind of knitting too.  I call it my "social knitting," the knitting I bring along to watch D's gymnastics classes or to a party or a movie or the waiting room as I wait for my dear one to be done with scary surgery.  But I also have what I call my "anti-social knitting," which requires patterns and charts and counting and Deep Concentration.  When I'm working on something like that, my family knows not to talk to me, or bump me, or, even really to come near me at all in the middle of a row.

If I had to nail it down, though: why do I love knitting (and crocheting and spinning and maybe dyeing and weaving too)? I'd have to say it is because knitting is the one thing in my life I do without fear or worry.  Never do I look at a pattern and say, "I can't do that; it's just too hard."  I might say, "I don't have the experience to do that piece yet," but even that is rare nowadays.  I might not want to do it, but that's because it's not interesting, or too fiddly, or because I would have no use for the FO (that's 'finished object' in knit-speak), never because I don't think I can.  I haven't tried steeking(1) yet, but even that's not fear.  Not really.  I just haven't found the right Fair Isle project and the motivation to do it.  I know that if I decide to steek something, it'll come out fine--or it won't, and that's okay too.

I love how I feel about knitting.  When I see a pattern for something I like, I don't worry about whether I can make it happen.  I know I can make it happen.  Lace, colorwork, double-knitting, cables--no problem.  I can do it.  It's a very powerful way to feel, and I have come to the conclusion that I should feel this way about more in my life.  Knitting is lovely and I will always cherish it, but I want that fearless feeling in my every endeavor.

Worry is a hard habit to break.  I'm just noticing now, as I go through my days, how many of the things I do have some kind of fear attached to them.  Breaking free of fear may be a task that lasts me the rest of my days,  (may they be long and exciting!).  I suspect that the answer lies in knowing my own convictions, and learning to be true to them regardless of circumstance.  When yarn comes across something in its path, it might break--but more often, the yarn picks up the thing and makes it part of itself (which is why tons of beagle hair is incorporated in my knitting) or winds around it, taking on the shape of it but still being yarn.

Yarn has no fear, even of scissors.  If you cut yarn, it is still yarn.

Double Knitting!

(1) Steeking, you ask?  It's when you knit a Fair Isle sweater in the round as one big long cylinder, and then cut a slit on each side between two rows of stitches for the arms instead of shaping the knitting with decreases.  It's one of the riskiest things you can do in knitting, in some ways, because, well, you cut through this complicated pattern you just worked your tush off on.