Monday, January 21, 2008

take a deep breath

I went to help my son and d-in-l and granddaughters through their misery, as misery went through both ends of my granddaughters and d-in-l and son. When I arrived, my d-i-l was in the hospital, too dehydrated to be safe at home, the girls, though on the mend, were confused and anxious about "puking on my pillow," and my son was white, freezing, and too weak to give me much of an update. For a day and a half I was helpful and happy playing with the girls and performing the satisfactions of a Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy. DIL came home, weak but hydrated, son slept, . . . I got sick, and sicker. And spent thirty-six hours between bathroom and a mountain of blankets. We're all on the mend now; I've crept home, so I can start my teaching semester tomorrow, shaky, shaky, listening during my long drive to stories of The Plague in 14th-century England, and knowing a bit about contagious diseases (Ken Follett's World Without End ).

Last night, I sat for hours on my sofa wondering if I'd ever want to knit again, and worrying about absence of desire, especially in the face of the gorgeous NORO yarns which had arrived in my absence (of desire, of presence): three bags full, from the fine sale at Seattle's Little Knits ( ). I especially love the colorways of Kureyon's "172" (is desire re-emerging? or is it rue, that I'll watch this yarn forever, burping and never touching needle to wool?).

While I wait for a stable and calm intestine, and for my NORO's fate, I'll re-draft the syllabi for the two classes which begin tomorrow. Sometimes work must bring desire in its wake.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm off to care for the sick

Here's some doggerel wisdom, while I'm away, caring for sick relations.

Woman's life is but vain
For 'tis subject to pain,
And sorrow,
And short as a bubble.

'Tis a hodge-podge of business,
And money, and care,
And care, and money,
And trouble.

But we'll take no care
When the weather proves fair.
Nor will we vex now
That it rains.

We'll banish all sorrow
And strand 'till tomorrow,
And knit, purl,
And knit, purl again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Little Bits

I finished up the little bits today: sewed the hanging loop on the Christmas stocking, for a baby being born in a few weeks; sewed buttons on a second "Dawn's Baby Joy " sweater, in Noro Silk Garden Lite, which will go with other goodies for the baby into the Christmas stocking; knitted two scarves for my two granddaughters; garter-stitched two blankets for the Kuhnergens' beds--the Kuhnergens live in the girls' Christmas doll house--and sewed buttons on the Cayuga Cardigan. Truly, tomorrow is for fresh fields and pastures new.

I thought about relations between fishing and knitting, fishing and Christianity, knitting and praying. I thought about knitting as a process of defying the mandate for a professional purpose, for defying the good daughter's productive life; about knitting as process and yet having for me the satisfaction of visible and sharable products, things I can point to, delight in, and move along from.

Grammy, this yarn is very soft.

A six-day trip away from the computer and the dogs: lots of sleep, having to find new ways to wander mentally. I left the Cayuga Cardigan blocking at home--finished that little fella in five days--and will sew on buttons this morning. With a pit stop at WEBS in Northampton, I spent my Christmas gift certificate and entered the contest to win $100.00 gift certificate. (Knit one of one hundred scarves for the UMass Hockey team, with yarn and pattern WEBS gives you; return it, get entered into the drawing at the end of January.) While visiting with my granddaughters, I pretty much finished the scarf; it's in the mail now back to WEBS ("I'm a winner").

Ainsley and Eliza spent some time "knitting" with me: when can they learn to do the strokes? Is there a knitting school for toddlers? We sang songs about knitting, and hugged the yarns, stacked markers on needles, and looked through translucent green rulers. The notions and the motions hold great appeal.

I'm off now for a knitting stint of odds and ends.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Woke up this mornin'

I woke up this morning feeling that in my last post I'd unjustly characterized , meanly characterized even, TERRA's Black Walnut, as mud-in-January-thaw. The January thaw out my window this morning is gobs uglier than any yarn. Though the picture from Fibre Company's website doesn't help amend such a characterization, knitting through a long evening while attending to both sets of Presidential N.H. debates softened my images of the kettle-dyed yarn: it's a yarn of CHANGE.

The changes, predominantly of browns slipping into varieties of green, include interesting tans, like dead maple leaves on the forest floor.

I've finished the back and the two front panels, and ten inches of the two sleeves; the pieces sit semi-composed on my coffee table looking, for all the world, like . . . Black Walnut (I think I've seen a black walnut). And I'm writing a little about the yarn because I really want to be working toward the end of the sleeves, NOW, but have to do stuff with the pile of papers to my left--correspondence, bills, deposits, scheduling for next semester, etc.

Another way to make a stockinette knitting project more interesting than otherwise: listen to an audio cd (this advice is hardly more than a duhhh suggestion, but last evening was the first time I'd ever done it, as I listen to books on cd only when I'm driving, not a time I'm usually kntting (though once on Rte 88, . . . but we won't go there) ). Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and its semi-sequel, World Without End , will now accompany much winter knitting. Building English cathedrals in the twelfth century commands a relation to stone even more patient and intimate than mine to the bagfuls of Noro yarns I'm planning to design work with.

And now for something completely different:

Caroline Gilman (1794-1888)

A popular writer of domestic and religious pieces.

My Knitting Work

Youth’s buds have oped and fallen from my life’s expanding tree,
And soberer fruits have ripen’d on its harden’d stalks for me;
No longer with a buoyant step I tread my pilgrim way,
And earth’s horizon closer bends from hastening day to day.

No more with curious questioning I seek the fervid crowd,
Nor to ambition’s glittering shrine I feel my spirit bowed,
But, as bewitching flatteries from worldly ones depart,
Love’s circle narrows deeply about my quiet heart.

Home joys come thronging round me, bright, blessed, gentle, kind;
The social meal, the fireside book, unfetter’d mind with mind;
The unsought song that asks no praise, but spirit-stirr’d and free,
Wakes up within the thoughtful soul remember’d melody.

Nor shall my humble knitting work pass unregarded here,
The faithful friend who oft has chas’d a furrow or a tear,
Who comes with still unwearied round to cheer my failing eye,
And bid the curse of ennui from its polished weapons fly.

Companionable knitting work! When gayer friends depart,
Thou hold’st thy busy station even very near my heart;
And when no social living tones to sympathy appeal,
I hear a gentle accent from thy softly clashing steel.

My confidential knitting work ! a trusty friend art thou,
As smooth and shining on my lap thou liest beside me now;
Thou know’st some stories of my thoughts the many may not know,
As round and round the accustom’d path my careful fingers go.

Sweet, silent, quiet knitting work ! thou interruptest not
My reveries and pleasant thoughts, forgetting and forgot!
I take thee up, and lay thee down, and use thee as I may,
And not a contradicting word thy burnish’d lips will say.

My moralizing knitting work! Thy threads most aptly show
How evenly around life’s span our busy threads should go;
And if a stitch perchance should drop, as life’s frail stitches will,
How, if we patient take it up, the work may prosper still.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cayuga Cardigan

This very simple, good-for-your-first sweater, has the home-grown title--Cayuga Cardigan--and the home-grown designers--Meredith Small and Hickory Lee--to seduce anyone who's cold in the Finger Lakes. My yarn--The Fibre Company's Terra -- imitates lots of mid-winter nature--if you stand too far back, it's tomorrow's thaw and mud; more benevolently, it's everything that pokes through the snow. Closer, more discriminating looks uncover the soft greens, blues, even burnt umbers in the "Black Walnut."

I'm knitting up a store sample, for Knitting Etc., before teaching the First Sweater class which will KAL make it. On #9's, it's a fast knit. I'm doing a final edit on the pattern, which comes in four sizes; and encourage anyone with a yen for a classically plain sweater, with a little waist-shaping, borders and bands in seed stitch, and a huge choice of worsted weight yarns, to have at it--check with Hickory ( for a pattern. One can watch Presidential debates or listen to Jacqueline DuPré's thunderous Elgar or meditate on the last stand of the Christmas tree, still bedecked but without I remembered to turn on the lights: there's nothing too attention-grabbing about this stockinette snuggle. (So pick an interesting yarn, nothing too monochromatic.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Entrelac scarf

This entrelac scarf, in blues and grays, like a hypnotized patient--hoho thisa way, hoho thata way--slinked along in Rowan Tapestry yarn. I did this one to learn the technique, basing this 9-inch-wide scarf on the clearly described patterns for a much more voluminous entrelac stole, in Scarf Style (Pam Allen). A nice late-Christmas present for Me Mum.

Now that it's blocked, I've cleared the decks for New Year projects, having finished all but one, . . . two, . . . no, three of my WIPs: the Dragon-Skin Wrap, the Cayuga Cardigan, a Kid Silk Night scarf.

I'm getting excited about the range of choices I'll have for subsequent projects as I tick off the few remaining ones I need to finish before leaping forward. I've got a Jaywalker sock started, in Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn, and expect to do considerable two-stranding work, in both Rauma's 3-ply strikkegarn and Jamieson's Spindrift, but haven't figured out what or the wonderful colorways awaiting my viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A single long strand

"I always wonder what it would be like to belong to a species — just for a while — that isn’t so busy indexing its life, that lives wholly within the single long strand of its being. " (Verlyn Klinkenborg, NYTimes, Dec. 31, 2007)

In the single long strand of the Dragon-Skin Wrap I was knitting last night lurked a twist, where I'd cast on the back neck band: as midnight approached, I tried to untwist or double-twist that crucial hiccup, to will it not to be important, even as I was trying to visualize how the back could, apparent to the pattern-writer but not apparent to the pattern-executer, knit down from the top of the recently joined two fronts. Not indexing my life at midnight but staring at what becomes of that single strand of the sweater's being, I . . . went to bed.

Happy New Year. Complexity will somehow resolve itself with the light of morning: I turned the entire left front on the needles, and VOILA the single long strand of the Dragon-Skin Wrap is all heading in the same direction, knots, twists, and hiccups all gone.

Moral: go to sleep.

(Interweave Knits: Holiday Gifts, 2007; Zara yarn)

And here's a chubby beauty, my fourth Christmas Stocking, by Judy's Colors (Nordic Fiber Arts). I'm not finishing a late Christmas present, I'm actually early for a February almost-baby. I've decided to knit Christmas stockings as baby gifts, since they'll suit the bambino/bambina for years instead of for two months, as would a baby sweater I'd otherwise knit. This one is a third as large again as the pattern called for (120 stitches cast on instead of the pattern's 80), so my friends can tuck the baby inside the stocking when it arrives: it's a stocking it's a swaddle.