May 25, 2011

In the beginning was procrastination, and God saw it, but He didn't say that it was good

Sock Summit Preparation Journal, Entry #1:

In the beginning was procrastination, and God saw it, but He didn't say that it was good

I have probably bit off more than I can chew. When laying out my goals in preparation for my Sock Summit design classes, I calculated my knitting preparation for the three months that then stretched out before me. They seemed like an eternity and I figured that, since I can easily knit a pair of socks in two weeks, that 6-8 socks would be a comfortable jog to the Sock Summit finish line.

Really, I am in training—training for a weekend marathon of intense learning. But I have become like the casual runner who decides to sign up for the Boston Marathon. You know, the person who talks about how far and how often they run because they like to hear themselves called a runner, but in reality they only run about a mile a week and only then if it is convenient on their lunch break at work? And only then if there are no tasty lunch prospects on the potential running day?

That’s me.

I have realized that my lack of more intense knitting training before now is going to create a push to the end; a necessary flurry of knitting activity in order to not stand out in my classes as that chick who thought it would just sound “cool” to say she was a sock designer, prompting several eye rolls round the room upon my repeated asking of stupid questions. (Whoever said there were no stupid questions was stupid. Someone who doesn’t prepare for the test definitely deserves to have their questions called stupid.)

So why procrastinate? (see today's blog title...) When I find myself in these situations (this is not my first daydream rodeo) I find it a nice retreat to focus on the on the possibilities—the infinite possibilities under the best of circumstances. In other words, if I dream about the extravagant success I might experience--it gives me hope.

If I am the lazy runner, then dreaming about the finish line feels better than looking at the reality of my crazy planning schedule that will surely follow the languid, starry-eyed leisure of the fantasy finish line.

While I plan to continue—on occasion—to do a little Anthony Robbins-style success visualization, I am now ready for the hard work at hand.

After completing my last pair of simple socks during the weekend retreat with my knitting club, I am hitting it hard.

I have chosen to begin with Chrissy Gardener’s top-down Autumn in Oregon socks. Top-down is my most comfortable style, and feels like a good place to start. They have a separately knitted decorative top, which is then sewn together. This makes for a little extra style kick that I have never tried.

Having picked up my stitches from there, I have feverishly progressed down the leg, and over this past few days have surprisingly made it almost to the heel flap, which also is new for me: the pattern, which is until the heel has been knit in the round on 3-4dpns, will be back and forth.

The raindrops lace pattern will be worked back and forth on both sides, with no additional charting for that part, and the YO row on the "wrong side," but I believe I have figured it out: the purls become knits (of course) and the purl-direction YO followed by a purl two together will become a K2tog followed by a knit-direction YO.

That’s my plan, anyway.

No emergencies so far, and I am quite surprised, frankly, that I have been able to keep up with the lacey pattern of the fabric. Ironically, the multiple changes in textures and patterns have been a help and not a hindrance. This is because each change creates a frame for the next pattern, making it easier to keep track of. This feature of the pattern also has made it surprisingly easy to almost completely memorize early on, with only a few occasional glances at the pattern needed.

For these reasons, I would encourage anyone thinking that this pattern looks pretty cool not to shy away. You can download it on Ravelry.

You might want to join me in a little bit of big dreaming. For all its flaws, it’s a pretty nice pastime.

May 24, 2011

Stay tuned for tomorrow...

Journal to the Sock Summit, Entry #1: In The Beginning Was Procrastination

The start of the soon to be continuing story of my potentially overwhelming jump into sock design. Where to start? Let me think about it. For about two weeks.

See you all tomorrow!

The Knitting Muse, dreaming in hand-painted color

May 21, 2011

"You Can't Knit Socks!"

That’s what the woman in the shop told me. Oh, she didn’t say it in so many words, but she said it. Or, at least, that’s what I heard.

I was out for fun, using some very precious free time to go to a local yarn shop here in town. It was my first time going to my “local yarn shop,” a new phrase to me then as a novice knitter, but one that I would eventually use myself in the vernacular over and over again, as though I were tossing around the phrase, “grocery store.” On this Wednesday morning, the concept was still a great mystery.

I thought the LYS would be a good place to branch out from my knitting solitude, self-imposed due to my belief (and lack of understanding) as a newbie knitter that few people would share my passion for this fascinating and ancient art.

Until now, the internet had been almost my sole source of knitting information, and, interestingly enough, it was also the reason I was driving on that day to my “LYS,” the acronym I had seen so many times on various websites.

Online, I had slowly discovered the true magnitude of fervor, ardor and enthusiasm for the knitted arts. The vast, seemingly almost three-dimensional maze of knitting information that slowly built itself before my very eyes as I searched to satisfy my hunger for crafty knowledge was mind boggling. But I was still on the outside. I was still a “Windows” shopper, standing outside of my still-virtual LYS.

I wanted in. I wanted human answers. Why alpaca? Why or why not acrylic? What was drape, exactly, and how did one get it? What was the difference between merino, superwash merino and extra fine superwash merino wool? Was there a glossary of terms? Where were these knitting zealots (and Harlots) I had seen online so often on sites like Ravlery? How did I meet them? I needed direction—and directions to my LYS, which I also found online.

Today, I was ready. Ready for people; I was tapped out for cyberspace information. I could hardly stand the antici … pation on my drive to the LYS. It was only minutes away, but it felt like hours.

I used my time in an attempt to formulate my questions for the amazing individuals I would surely encounter. I planned on putting on my good listening skills (which I do not possess) and wait patiently for information without interrupting. I thought about some of the patterns I had tried, and the ones I wanted to try.

I had done the typical scarf thing, a hat or two and some easy slippers. I wanted to try something a little different. Socks had looked very interesting—the construction looked fascinating, though probably pretty unreasonable for someone as new as me. Still, I thought as I drove with Amy Rose watching a Barney DVD from the back seat, why not get the things I need to make them? At the least, I could save them for later, and then I could enter the store under the pretense that I actually needed something.

I felt that I needed to present myself with purpose in order to make a good impression on the store employees. This was serious business to so many people and I didn’t want to seem flip. I wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted into the magical inner circle of knitting—and after all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

I took a deep breath. I parked on the street near the shop. I removed the wiggling baby from the back of my large SUV, which felt just a step smaller than a RAZ Transport bus in relation to the tiny city street, and narrowly jimmied my way between cars, parking meters and curb to get to the sidewalk and to the door of the shop.

The outside was shining in the sun: my Oz. There were large windows with smart looking, colorful knitted, crocheted and felted projects displayed with precise and perfect merchandising skill. The paint around the door and windows looked new, with a perfectly clean stripey green and white awning framing the front door, inviting passersby to see what treasures lie within.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. Amy held my hand.

A little bell tinkled as the door swung wide with ease, and we stepped over the threshold.

Inside, the store was quiet and lovely. There were couches to my right--presumably for knitting--with a whole library of books behind and around them. There were, of course, shelves and shelves of colorful yarn in an amazing array of textures, thicknesses and sizes. Beads, needles and a wide of range of still-unknown-to-me notions lined most of the left wall.

It was so clean and perfect. Tidy. Just like I had hoped for.

I had created an image of the shop in my mind—one of tidiness, yes, but also of extreme organization while still maintaining a creative, edgy appearance. The actualy view before me was perfect beyond words.

As we stood in the entryway taking it all in, a small woman came from what I assumed was the back of the room. She was perfect, too. Small, almost supernaturally assembled in a lovely cardigan (did she make it?) with such tidy straight, no nonsense hair and calm demeanor. She was wearing a crisply pressed skirt and (hopefully!) handmade socks in new-looking Birkenstocks. She smiled as she approached—this woman, my guardian knitting angel.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

My mind raced. What should I say first? My inexplicable need to make a good first impression also made my nerves race. And when my nerves race, so does my mouth.

“Hi. I am looking for some sock yarn. And I need some needles to make them. Also, can you tell me more about making socks? I saw your store online and drove straight here! It was pretty close. I love it. It’s so pretty in here! How long have you been here?”

Her expression was changing. Crap. I had turned into crazy customer who has no idea what she’s doing. The phrase “more money than brains,” crept into my mind.

“Uh…what were you looking for?” She began to wander into the store.  Oh my God! We were going in!! My excitement could hardly be contained.

I tried to pull it together, act non-chalantly. “Oh, I dunno…just whatever sock yarn…”

“Ok, we have this one….” She began to pull out different socks yarns. “And this one here,” she was stacking them into my arms. I had to let go of Amy’s hand. I had no idea there was so much to choose from. I couldn’t hold out my thinly veiled persona of “just a chick who wants to make a pair of socks anymore.” This tiny, smartly dressed person was definitely going to see through me, if she hadn’t already.

I was babbling about how lovely this yarn was, and the next one, knowing nothing at all about what they would be used for, which would be best…I didn’t even know how to turn a heel, or even start a sock, for that matter. I wanted to back up, to reiterate the part about wanting to know about knitting socks, to come clean about my inexperience. To get that help I had come in for.

I was in too deep. I had to keep going. I started to get really warm.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Amy quietly disassembling a display near the table that must—I assumed—have been for classes. “Dolly,” she was saying to herself.

My arms full, I dropped the yarn and bolted for the baby.

My voice trailed as I ran, “Those are all soooo nice! Which one do you think I should use?” I was trying to keep up my rouse for continuity’s sake. Didn’t want to seem any crazier, as I picked up the pieces of the display in the Amy aftermath.

“Have you knit socks before?” she eyeballed me. Hadn’t I said that earlier? Why hadn’t I repeated it first?!

“Uh…no…I want to, though.”

“Have you taken a class? You really can’t knit socks without proper instruction. A class would be best.” She folded her arms. I felt like an information shoplifter.

She continued, “We have classes here, you know.” She floated in her perfect tininess over to the shop counter. I followed her too fast in the very small store. I lost track of Amy.

I ended up too close to the shop clerk’s back as she turned around. She tried to quickly smile at my face, probably huge in perspective as it was so close to her tiny one. She backed up and handed me a sheet of classes.

“Here.” She stood there as though I would whip out a pen and checkbook.

“Uh…” I was still trying to read the schedule I had been handed. How did I know what class to take? I thought I might be too self-conscious still. I also like learning mostly on my own. I knew I could never convey this information now.

“Here,” she sharply pointed her tiny perfect finger to the paper, now jammed in my face. We were still standing too close to each other. “You could do this one on Thursdays, it’s a five week class where you do the top one week, then the leg, then the heel, thenthenextweekyouturnit….”

It was all running together.

“Or you could do this one on Saturdays, or we also have  meeting Thursday nights, that’s only $25 and you can just drop in with questions…”

What?  I was getting so overwhelmed. Meanwhile, Amy was in locations unknown in the shop. I stared catatonically.

Her speech was speeding up.

“We have great instructors and our prices are so much better than some other shops. Don’t go to the big stores. They really hurt the smaller, local shops, and those online stores, too. You should always buy from local yarn shops…”

Was “crazy” contagious?

“You know,” this entire time, she had continued to load my arms with yarn and accessories, I stood there dumbfounded. “You would really do better with one on one lessons. We have some really great teachers. You can’t really do socks without one on one instruction.”

Hadn’t she said….wait…I was getting more confused by the minute. Amy save me! Crash something! Willing toddler destruction is the last defense for moms in distress.

The woman prattled on in her tidy, neat tone, which was now becoming like the cacophonous mini-bark of a Chihuahua, “Here,” another sheet plus more yarn, “these are the names and numbers of our teachers. They can help you. Or I can do it. I teach, too. You should plan a time.”

Then she began that socially awkward practice of talking too much about money—how much every single class was, how I had to spend amount X in order to knit socks….

I wondered how it was that I always met such crazy people. Did I have a sign on my back that read, “I Do Crazy,” left over from some junior high prank?

I wanted to leave. How to get out of it?  She was now staring me down through tidy brown glasses, the rims surrounding her perfect lashes in excellently executed symmetry.

She was closing in. Was I about to be transported to a back room with a single bright bulb? Was I about to be interrogated? Was I about to inadvertently purchase a used car?

She had moved behind the counter to the computer. “Which class did you want? And the instructors will come to your house, or meet you here.”

I hadn’t spoken in minutes. She had long ago stopped gauging my reactions to her words. I pretended to need to find the baby. I excused myself. I breathed. I found Amy in the back of the shop, noodling around in a yarn bin that was on the floor. To her, it probably looked like a marvelous grab-bag of toys.

I put back the now-scrambled hanks of yarn into the bin.

Through my haze of nerves and confusion, I made a decision to purchase of the yarns I had been handed—among about what seemed like 200—and a single set of double-pointed needles.

By the time I returned to the front of the store, the chatter had all but stopped. She had become like a perfect, tiny wind-up talking doll that run the course of her winding spring. She was back to staring at me, sizing me up.

I politely explained what I would like to buy, took the China Goo set of 5 dpn’s she handed me, and wandered silently, stunned, out into the street. The bell on the front door rang the close of my first LYS experience.

Of course, I have come to so love local yarn shops—who couldn’t? They truly are a wonderful resource. Truly, one bad apple doesn’t wreck the whole experience—I did use the yarn, and I did knit socks. And more socks … and more … and more …

May 14, 2011

Weekend Retreat

Wondering where the blog story is today? Don't worry, a new story will be up for tomorrow afternoon or evening!

I have been having a wonderful time on a knitting retreat with some of the best friends in the world this weekend. We have been on the lovely Oregon Coast, knitting, sharing, and eating some of the best cooking ever. I think the fresh sea air makes the food taste even better.

Here are a few pictures...

That's me on the case anyone wondered!

I hope you all are having a loverly, knitterly weekend and I'll see you all tomorrow afternoon for a new blog story, "You Can't Knit Socks!"

The Knitting Muse, laughing at her own jokes ... ad nauseam

May 11, 2011

My Journey Into Sock Design. Hopefully

I made the bold move (hopefully not a stupid one) in signing up for 2 design classes at Sock Summit this year. The first class, an all day affair given by Anne Hanson, is described as a "complete" sock design class and says things in synopsis like "students must enjoy math," and has lots of homework like making several swatches of fabric in advance to bring to class. The second class, a half day class with my Portland Idol Chrissy Gardener is on designing with variegated yarn. I thought this might be a nice follow up to the previous one.

Upon pouring over my stitch dictionaries and sock books, I am wondering if I was thinking clearly when I signed up for those classes. Hmmmm....the first class requires that the participants be very experienced in sock making. I have made several socks, but few out of the norm. Basics, cables, stripes, two types of eyelets, toe up and top down, but none with special heels (just short row) or toes--no star toes, here, and no fancy designs.

This means that I have done what I always do: I bit off a lot to chew. Is it too much? I am not willing to say that.

I really want to press on, so, in order to do this, I plan to remain optimistic. I plan to plan, and to learn.

For the next three months leading up to the event and the looming classes, I plan to use part of my blogtime to journal my learning--or mind-losing--however it manifests. 

I want to make 6-8 pairs of adult socks (I want to replace my store bought ones, anyway), I want to use several types of heels and toes and make some with lacey, more challening designs.

To this end, I have purchased and downloaded "Rivendell" by Janel Laidman (seems appropriate since we are both called "janelle," and I love The Lord of the Rings...I even own an Arwen amulet...) and "Autumn in Oregon" by Chrissy Gardener. Chrissy's pattern is top down, and I also own the toe-up version based on the Autumn design, "Springtime in Oregon." The last two I intend to compare and contrast while working them.

I will begin with these three patterns and move on from there. I already have the yarn stashed in a large, square clear Rubbermaid container in my closet, calling my name.

I guess my first order of business--the "prequel" to the sock journey--will be to finish the pair of basic ones on my needles and get on with it!

Finishing up the second one! Here we go!

 Saying good bye to basics, and hello to more challenging things...I might need this. Good thing I have one.

Sneak Knitting: The Art of Artful, Productive Trickery

“When you get your paycheck, just cash it first, spend what you want, and then give the money to your husband. That way he’ll never miss any of it.”

This was some unsolicited advice given to me once by a very good friend of mine. It was well-meant, almost entirely a joke and very revealing of her personality; words like creative, intelligent and mischievous come to mind.

She has an incredible way about her that enables her to accomplish absolutely anything. She works full time, bakes and cooks for her family of four, is very involved with church events, keeps an astonishingly beautiful garden, knits, sews and always has time for her friends. She never misses a step. It truly is as though she has a time machine in her basement, which I am sure she has carved out beneath her two-story house with a spoon in her spare time. I am also sure that this fantasy basement is well-decorated.

Sometimes, as I mentioned above, my friend (don’t worry, Joanie, I won’t throw you under the bus by mentioning your name…oops.) drops little pearls of wisdom to us lesser beings. She speaks of eeking out money and time through creative thinking and stellar time management. Here is one important example for our purposes today.

Joanie is a great reader. She is voracious in appetite and unsurpassed in speed. Enjoying all sorts of novels, she somehow finds time to finish several each month on top of everything else. Just yesterday she shared with me that she has just finished Jane Eyre (we are reading that one “together” and I am on chapter 20 out of 38) plus two more books. Seriously?

How is this possible?

Sneak reading.

That’s what she calls it. She speaks of sneaking a peek at her story du jour while cooking, while at her kids’ sporting events, and while in the bathroom. Sort of.

She says she locks herself in the bathroom under the guise of actually using it, when in reality she is reading as fast as she can, striving for the completion of more stories in limited time with the same vigor a marathon runner might employ while striving for a faster racing time. (Joanie also runs marathons, but I digress…)

When her husband knocks on the door, she finally comes out of her den of iniquitous deceit. Never before he knocks, but when, and only when, he begins to wonder where she is. This affords her up to several minutes—even 30 to 40—of sprint reading. It is in this way she completes book after book while us mere mortals lag behind.

How does this apply to knitting, you may ask? Or perhaps you already see where this is going.

Yes, we can consider using this same principle—in theory at first, at least—to complete more knitting projects in less time. Just think of the possibilities for problem solving.

Take your family and friends, for example. Did they line up to “order” projects once they learned you were knitting? As though you could just whip out a sweater for them in an afternoon or an afghan for their Auntie Mavis in just a few days? Perhaps they even said, “Well, I would pay you, of course,” not realizing the extensive hours a large bedspread or aran sweater would require? That even $50 might only work out to pennies an hour, depending on the project? (Of course, you probably did them for free, because that’s what we seem to do!)

How about the upcoming Sock Summit? A lot of the classes have prerequisites or requirements of preparation in advance. As for me, I have homework: I need to make several types of heels and toes and knit up several swatches of my choosing from stitch dictionaries before my class. First problem for me of course, will be the choosing of anything—that alone might take me a week or two.

Solution for these problems and more? Let’s explore this idea of “Sneak Knitting.”

As I see it, the foundations of this concept require a Rosie the Riveter approach: We Can DO It!!  A can-do attitude is the basis for any success in Sneak Knitting. You must believe that the idea will work, that you have the creativity, cunning and ingenuity to pull it off. You need to be driven (aren’t you already? You’re a knitter), a little crazy and willing to work hard.

Second, consider your own life situation. Take me, for example, I work four days a week, have a home with four children still living in it, a husband, too many hobbies (as we have already established), and minimal time to myself.

In order to write the blog entry for today, I have experimented a bit for myself over the past few weeks. Here are my findings.

I have committed Sneak Knitting while:

  • Gardening
  • Giving the baby a bath (I’m alone—just sit on the toilet or floor, voila!)
  • Cooking (waiting for biscuits? How about a sock on the side?)
  • Mowing the grass (mower noise definitely makes folks believe you are working)
  • Writing this blog (see days with extra typo’s)
  • At work—need a break? How about knitting instead of/in conjunction with eating? Or try Joanie’s bathroom trick.
  • Watching a guy flick with your husband (he will look at the TV, you check out your cables)
  • At the movies (easy—it’s dark. Knit by Braille will be another lesson)
  • While at Starbucks (Duh. But your coffee gets cold—be careful!!)
  • Painting my daughter’s room (everyone just thought I was slow)

More experimental ones that haven’t been successful for me (or anyone) yet could include:
  • While running or walking
  • While driving
  • While applying makeup
  • While applying makeup and driving
  • While having a fight with your spouse (not recommended)
  • While breastfeeding twins
  • While skiing, playing volleyball or soccer or other sports—may be a bad idea. Have a whole team of soccer playing knitters? You might get Vlad Dracul’s Forest of the Impaled. Pretty quiet game.

The point of all of this is that with a little creativity and a little Lucille Ball-esque mischief, you can potentially accomplish a lot of work.

Here is my most recent Sneak Knitting project:

It started out small. But after giving Amy a few baths and checking out a few guy movies....

The scarf is calling "Starry Evening" and can be found at under the spring 2010 newletter or in free patterns. I used Berroco Seduce for this one and added some beads that I found on clearance at the fabric store during a Sneak Shopping trip. 

The project is half way done, now. Just need a few doctor's appointments or trips to the park and before I know it, I can move on to those homework heels!

Give Sneak Knitting a shot! Be safe, be sure and know that "You Can DO It!"

May 8, 2011

Coming up Wednesday, new blog story!

For your midweek entertainment, join us on Wednesday for:

"How to Successfully Commit Sneak-Knitting"

Have a relaxing and wonderful Happy Mother's Day!

See you soon!

The Knitting Muse, committing senseless acts of knitting since 2008

May 6, 2011

36 Hour Days: One Woman's Rage Against Time

“You know, days are only 24 hours—you act like they are 36!”

I have heard this many times from my husband over the years. He has said it so much that it has become a joke between us. He thinks that I cram my schedule so full that I can never completely finish all the tasks I give myself. He says I overload my time. He says it’s irrational and I am setting myself up for disappointment. I say I am an optimist and a free spirit.  Who is right? Let’s discover it together…

Let’s begin by laying out the facts.

First, it is true that I have many, many activities. All the time, every day. I like it that way. I work full time, have six children, knit, garden, read, write this blog, sometimes do housework, enjoy cooking, pilates and aerobics, do much of the grocery shopping (which I can tell you in our house is no small feat!), enjoy Sudoku, feed my curiosities online or at the library when I obsess about some interesting topic such as, say, what are the real endings to those Disney fairytales? (I can tell you that Cinderella is a very different story than the one you’ve heard!) I want to learn spinning, dying, design, and more about crochet. I like sewing the occasional Daisy Kingdom dress, lead our knitting club, attend classes at church, badly maintain long-distance friendships with many girls from high school…what else…oh, yes! I also try to fill out my planner weekly, but almost never do.

I have one day off in the center of the week, Wednesday, and use it for all these purposes. Unreasonable? When I lay it out like that, maybe. Probably.

I try to be reasonable, to say “no,” once in a while. Maybe a great while. So far, it seems as though my husband is beginning to look like the winner in this one-person debate.

And, to be fair about that facts, I had better loop in a note about my children. There was an incident a few years back that began when my phone rang as I was driving home from Eugene, Oregon, two hours from my house. It was my son, Alex, who is currently 17, but was in the 4th grade at the time.


“Hi, honey! Are you home, yet?” I was jamming out to the radio, windows down on a lovely, sunny afternoon drive. My then 3-year-old daughter was sleeping in the back seat after a day of ceramic tile painting.

“Uh, no. Mom, I’m at chess club. You were supposed to pick me up.”

Silence. Absolute terror realized, I freaked out—on the inside. I imagined child services taking my son because I left him at his grade school so I could paint tiny cartoon dogs on unfired ceramic squares. I imagined he was standing all alone outside the school, the doors being locked as we spoke and the principal heading home to walk his dog. I couldn’t breath.

What I said was, “Honey, I am too far away. I am going to call Jake’s mom. I’ll call you right back.”

Did it work out? Yes. Was it humiliating beyond humiliating? More than I can say.

Strike two.

Here is the problem as I see it: I like to do too many things and I want to be all in or all out. I don’t want to be half heartedly learning to grow roses or accurately knit lace, I want to understand things inside and out. “Do it well or not at all,” as Grandma Miller used to say.

The struggle then becomes finding the time to do all these things and do them, well…well. The first options that spring to my mind are the following:

  1. Decide to believe in reincarnation and wait until the next life to get that Ph.D.
  2. Do a great job on your planner and stick to your schedule.
  3. Decide #2 is too hard and revert to #1.
  4. Realize that in scenario #1, you will never consciously realize or be able to assimilate your collective accomplishments. Jack of all trades after 5 lives? Hardly.
  5. Choose only your favorite, most useful activities and stick to them.
  6. Realize you are a fickle girl and that #5 won’t work. Admit your ADD.
  7. Listen to your husband.

Finding no answers in these options, I move on to metaphysics/transcendentalism and/or theoretical physics. A little science fiction never hurt anyone. And hey, if it can help me knit a sweater with not only time to spare for another project, but actually leave me with more time than I started with, all the better.

First, there is always light somewhere in the world. It is always noon somewhere, as some of my margarita-loving friends might say. I suppose I could live as though it was always time to get up, a perpetual morning with endless time in front of me. That might require me to travel at the speed of the earth’s rotation in the direction away from the dawn so it can’t catch me.  Or it might sound too much like a manic disorder, but let’s entertain it for a moment.

If I didn’t have to worry about crossing oceans, cultural and language barriers, and never had to mind that in each new town I would need an established life with transportation and an income, it would be nice fantasy.  But even if I could, right now, make a personal, life choice to become independently wealthy and buddy up with crazy risk-taker Sir Richard Branson for this project, it’s not quite right. In the scheme of this timeless day, when would I eat dinner?

If I could travel through time, the age-old dream of so many, that might help me complete a few pairs of fingerless gloves or felted purses. However, theoretical physicists say that travelling forward is more plausible than travelling backwards (and I definitely want to go backwards—what good does it do me to eliminate time?).

Furthermore, scientists postulate that if time travel technology ever comes to pass, it may only be in the very distant, if ever, future. This also is no good for my experiment. If it takes, let’s say, 8,000 more years to develop the knowledge and capability for time travel, I’ll be dead by the year 10,011 anyway. And what if the sun burns out by then? Who would even care about time travel if that happens? Everyone will be too busy trying to rediscover fire, while little kids busy themselves trying to find new ways to fry ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass but no sun.

No time travel. Sigh.

If there were a way to meditate and astroproject myself into a parallel universe into another life, that would be way cool—except that in that world, there would certainly be another planner, another family, set of children, job, etc. And it’s way too silly.

No, after considering all these things, I believe that I have to concede to my husband, who is not even in the midst of this debate to enjoy his victory: He is right. If I can’t even remember my kids’ dentist appointments, it’s time to change something.

I’ll think about it tonight while I am editing this essay/rant, cooking dinner, and finishing up my plans for the next two weekends with family and friends while finishing a great scarf I have been working on for my friend, replete with bead work and sequined inclusions, and catching up on American Idol….

It’ll work out.

And the winner is....

drum roll, please....

Mokihana who follows us on Google!

Thanks for reading to Mokihana and to everyone.


May 5, 2011

Coming up for your weekend coffee: "36 Hour Days"

New blog story, "36 Hour Days: One Woman's Rage Against Time"

What does a woman have to do to make her husband understand that a 24 day is just an illusion created by social contruction and that she can help him see past the facade?  Find out Saturday morning!

In other news, Sock Summit registration opened yesterday!!!! WOO HOO!!  At 12noon PDT, classes were opened and the stampede started! When I checked classes last night, there were still several options as they have added so many this year and were prepared for the onslaught of participants. I will be attending an all day class on Saturday and half a day on Sunday afternoon. One given by Anne Hanson on designing socks (you all will be the first recipients of my first design! Make it if you dare!!!) and the other given by Chrissy Gardener.

Which brings me to this: tomorrow is our drawing for the lucky winner of the book and yarn! I have 17 entries, which makes pretty good odds! Check here to see if you are the recipient of our fabulous prize tomorrow morning!

Thank you to all who participated in our promotion. I've been doing the blog for a little over a month now and have been very pleased with the very nice folks I have met because of it. Thanks for all the kind emails and notes on Facebook and Ravelry. They were unexpected!

On that note, please feel free in the future to give me ideas for stories in the comments sections, let me know what you would like to read! I will do my best to please everyone. That always works out, right?

Give us a peek tomorrow!



May 1, 2011

Emily Dickinson Had it All Wrong

Emily Dickinson had it all wrong. Well, not all wrong—just one line of one poem. I will not forsake my favorite poetess for only one small error; at least it’s an error by my estimation.

In her poem, “A Certain Slant of Light,” Ms. Dickinson speaks of the “slant of light” on a winter’s afternoon as oppressive, “like the heft of cathedral tunes,” she says. This image always makes me think of the book, “A Wrinkle In Time” (now there’s a quantum leap!) where, at one point, Meg and her heroic friends find themselves on a 2-dimensional planet being squished by gravity, not able to breath, feeling their bodies being crushed—only in my strange musing, there is no organ music.

Is late afternoon light oppressive? I think that Ms. Dickinson would have had a very different feeling had she lived in western Oregon or Washington State. Here, sunshine is like a happiness drug—a giddy elixir of rare joy—one that is legal, cheap, easily administered once you have it, and in very limited supply.

This past year, we have had a—dare I use such a strong word as I am thinking?—dismal time with grey skies. Back when summer came to visit us in 2010, I was okay with the still-grey and drizzly skies it brought along following a wet winter and spring.

I wasn’t ready for our wet winter and spring to be over, anyway, since both had afforded many opportunities for very cozy afternoons and evenings indeed. Coffee, hot soup, non-stop knitting … sometimes you just don’t want it to end. And sometimes you do.

After the wet summer of 2010 came wet fall, then cold and wet winter followed by a crazy-hail, cold, wet, thunderstormy spring in 2011. All grey, no exceptions. Even I, who grew up accustomed to this weather, began to have dreary, sleepy moods. I started wondering if I was developing a vitamin-D deficiency, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is relatively commonplace where I live.

Then, after seemingly endless months of cloudy skies and record-breaking precipitation, came a few days of late afternoon sun. They came like old friends--like old and cherished, but forgotten, memories that are brought back to mind by a photograph found in a shoe box by chance.

These days were not all in a row—they weren’t even close together. But they were powerful.

During each precious hour of that sun, I made it a point to sit in my favorite antique rocking chair with my two large knitting baskets around me on the floor, and a project in my hands. I set my small clock radio to the local classical station and gave it just enough volume to be heard, but not a distraction. I put my feet up on my little padded, Victorian floral-fabric box, which serves as both storage container and ottoman.

The right side of the chair is next to a west facing window with white wooden blinds. On those afternoons, the bright, late-day sun shone through the slats, onto my face and across my lap. Some people think the light at this time of day has too much glare, but not me—especially not after so many months of gloom.

With each visit to my special spot, I would look at the yarn in my hands—acrylic or wool, cotton or bamboo, and observe the intricate array of colors unveiled by the brilliant illumination. In other light, there may have been only one or two colors evident, but in this light, even the fibers with the simplest hues became like bursting prisms. I watched the yarn wind and twine around itself with each stitch, becoming more beautiful with each lost moment of sinking sun.

As I worked, I felt the light and warmth—almost heat—on my face as the sun passed through the glass of the window. By this time of day--about six or seven o’clock--its color was no longer the bright, simpler white of midday. Over time it had become golden, complex and inviting.

It cast deep shadows, dynamically lengthening, making ordinary things seem extraordinary. It was as though the sun had started out in the morning a young and inexperienced child, and was now a weathered sage, grown in wisdom and strength over its daylong journey. I imagined it was trying to share its discoveries and secrets with me, caressing my cheek and warming my hands before it would have to tell me good bye.

As the light sank lower and lower into the depths of the horizon, I sat unmoved, wishing the light would not leave me. It did eventually, of course, but not with a cold or empty feeling.

The next time you have an opportunity, take a moment to reflect in the late afternoon light, slanted though it may be. You may not feel oppressed, as Emily Dickinson did, but you may lose track of time. You may become contemplative and deeply content for a time. And you may never view “talking about the weather” in the same way again.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's 6 o'clock. I must be getting to my chair.