Tag Archive | knit

Sub sub sub sub…

Groups and sub-groups fascinate me.  First of all, there is no group of people that can’t be broken up into multiple sub-groups.  Second, no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

Let’s hit the first point: every group of people has sub-groups.

You all know this: think about where you work.  You probably all have similar training, work in a similar environment, doing similar things, but you are not “the same” as these people.  Your background, experiences, and personal interests make you different.  Someone walking in to your workplace might just see “a group of engineers,” or “a room full of teachers” but you know that isn’t true.

As an ASL Interpreter, I have Deaf people who I count among my friends.  If you’ve only “met a Deaf person once,” you will assume all deaf people are just like the person you met.  I can tell you without question, that is not so.  Deaf people are just like people who are not Deaf, that is, different from one another.  In my group of Deaf friends, one is a knitter, like me.  One speaks on his cell phone, but doesn’t text; all of my other Deaf friends text me.  One is a stay-at-home mom who is an avid reader. One loves music and dancing.  (For those people who are confused right now, being Deaf doesn’t mean you hear nothing, it means you have a hearing loss.)  The only thing these friends have in common is that they are unique.

We all want to be unique.  Unique is good.  Unique is special.  Our fingerprints are all different. Our DNA is ours and ours alone.  There is a point, however, when unique becomes, well… weird.  You wouldn’t want to be the only person in the world, for example, who liked eating chocolate covered pretzels.  First of all, they’d be very hard to find.  People would ridicule you for making them yourself to satisfy the craving.  And, if every time someone tried your delicacy they got sick, you’d start wondering just how “unique” you are.

Which brings me to my second point: no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

For better or worse (and I’m definitely a “better” believer), the Internet has made the world smaller.  There may only be a few people who share your interest in antique cars, whale bone corsets and macrame, but rest assured someone likes these things as much as you do.

I’m a member of a website called Ravelry, which I’ve talked about before.  I describe it as Facebook for Knitters, but it’s really much more.  On Ravelry, you can join various groups of people who share your interests.  I belong to a Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup group.   The House Cup group is run as a School.  We’ve broken the year into 3 terms (3 months, break, 3 months, break, 3 months, break).  Everyone is sorted into a house (just like the original books) and each term there are classes with a “homework assignment.” You craft an item for the class to win points for your House (I’m a proud Badger of Hufflepuff in my 5th term.) Each house has it’s own separate forum where we can chat online and cheer each other on. You post pictures of your project to prove you’ve finished your “homework” and … okay, some of you are reading this thinking, “Okay, THAT is weird.”  Well, the HPKCHC has over three thousand members.  I may be weird, but I’m in good company.  And they really ARE good company.  Besides chat & encouragement, I received many birthday wishes online last month and two of my Hufflepuff classmates sent me snail mail cards with gifts!

These people are great and I feel lucky to have found them.  They are my sub-group.  Maybe even my sub-sub-group. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

Just for fun, I recommend you check out the website 10 of the Weirdest Hobbies (http://www.oddee.com/item_97171.aspx).  Even though one of them is knitting related (no, I’ve never knit one of those), my favorite is number 8: Grooming Dogs.

My response to the Yarn Harlot’s response to the USOC

You can read the Yarn Harlot’s post here: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2012/06/21/now_that_you_ask.html

It is nice to have a calm voice rise above the mob. I agree with much of what you said. However, I believe you missed the mark on this one.

You are correct that the USOC is not asking Ravelers to abandon their games, only rename them. (I say “their games” because I don’t personally play along, although I am an active Ravelry knitter.) I don’t know much about copyright laws, but what you said made sense, except that I agree with the people who pointed out that, unlike your Sock Summit example, nobody would confuse what we do with THE Olympic games.

You missed the mark in your comparison of knitters to athletes.

The difference is NOT that we are knitters and they are athletes. The difference is that they have a world-wide competition every four years to find who is that best at running 100 meters or playing table tennis or shooting an arrow. We have not had a forum, on the global scale, to compete with our peers. If we did, I’m sure we would be eager to see who would win at Cable Construction or Turning a Heel or Working Without a Pattern.

You said, “We are not, however, spending our whole lives trying to be not just someone who can run 100 metres, but trying to be someone who can run 100 meters better than every single other person on earth.”

Perhaps not. But we would! If there was a global competition to be the best at something knitting-related, there are those of us who would train and compete in those events. At whatever cost. In my home state of Connecticut, our local fair is having it’s 100th annual event. (http://www.goshenfair.org/contests.htm) Among it’s contests are Needlework, which include knitting and crocheting. Competition is fierce. Those medals are displayed with much pride.

The Olympics only highlights athletes. (Can I use “Olympics” here? Is there a jar I should throw a quarter into?) We don’t know, every four years, who is the best typist on the planet. Or the best electrician. Or what construction team can frame a house the fastest. For some reason, long ago, certain sports were chosen to highlight achievement, and we continue to raise our athletes to demi-god status. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as much fun to watch someone type, or wire a house, or even knit a sock. It doesn’t make for riveting television programming.

You said they “put more sweat and training and work into that than anyone else ever has in the whole world.” I understand that physical training is different than knitting but you, of all people, should know how hard we train! Just like the athletes who want to be coached by the Great Ones, knitters travel to your Sock Summit, or various retreats to learn new techniques, training with those in our field who are recognized professionals. Somehow these knitters find time, funding and passion to better themselves at their chosen endeavor. It just happens that they are improving knitting skills rather than rowing or sailing skills.

You said, “We are not like elite athletes.  We are really great, but we are not the same as they are.” Well, of course not. The same way my surgeon is not the same as my accountant, but if I said that my accountant, by doing a great job on my taxes, “saved my life,” I’m not denigrating the work that my surgeon does. In the same way, Ravelry’s competition, using a derivitive of the Olympic name, does not somehow belittles their athletic efforts.

As for being an elite athlete: You are not, perhaps, an elite athlete (recent bike-riding notwithstanding), but you are elite. Let me say that again really carefully: You, Stephanie, are an elite knitter. You belong to a small, select group. You are paid to travel, teach and learn about knitting and knitters. Many of us would choose that as a vocation were it an option, however, because our craft is not held in high regard, there are few people who could command enough money in this field to make a living at it. You are an exception. You are doing what many of us would like to do but can’t. Your profession is made possible by the devotion of knitters to their craft.

The USOC said that by spending time knitting, competing amongst ourselves, and doing it in our own forum during the same time the Olympics are held, we were, being “disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fail(ing) to recognize or appreciate their hard work,” which in turn implies that anyone can, without any time or training or effort, pick up needles and knit something – basically failing to recognize or appreciate our hard work. I’m not advocating pitchforks and angry mobs but is it any surprise their words were met with such hostility? They added their voices to the many who already can’t believe we pay upwards of $20 for yarn to make one pair of socks or that we value giving a handmade hat that took 15 hours to make instead of simply buying a store bought item. And you defended them.

It’s a fine line to walk. I agree we must “Stay Classy.” That doesn’t mean we should accept the abuse, nod our heads and move on; it means we express our outrage in a civilized manner. I don’t know how sincere the USOC’s apology was, but we wouldn’t have received one had the knitting community not risen up together in anger. Now, I believe that, for the most part, we have been heard and it’s time to move on.

Perspective

It’s really all about perspective.

Y’see, I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals.

I’m quite a klutz and spent most of my childhood falling and getting minor (and sometimes major) scrapes.  I’ve been stitched up more times than I can remember.  I used to say, “Well, at least I’ve never broken anything.”  Then I fractured my ankle.  Then I fractured it again.  And, just for good measure, I did it a third time.   Yes, the same ankle each time.

In the seven years we’ve been married, my husband, the carpenter, has spent more than his fair share of time in the ER.  Staples in his head.  Pieces of his fingers getting stitched back on.  That kind of thing.  Not to be outdone, I’ve managed to clock a few hours in the ER myself, once or twice with seasonal asthma-related breathing issues, but I did manage to fall down a flight of stairs and get food poisoning  (in the same week!) a year or two ago.  My mother-in-law, however, has been the frequent flyer in the family and, since she lives with us, we spend countless hours getting her to and from the ER and visiting her in the hospital.  As a sign language interpreter, doing emergency work in the ERs and hospitals is some of my favorite work.  I know how overwhelmed a person can feel talking to a doctor when a loved one is ill, and knowing that I am providing a valuable service makes my job extremely fulfilling.

In general, because of my experiences, I feel very comfortable in hospitals.

Next week that will all change.

Because next week, I will be the patient.

I’m having surgery.

(Pardon me if I don’t share all the details publicly.  All I need to say is that it’s considered major surgery and, no, it’s not cancer.)  I’m in my late 40s and my last surgery was when I was 7 (or was I 6?) and had my tonsils out. I’ve managed to come through 4 decades without doctors cutting me open.  Even my son’s birth didn’t require a knife or any painkillers.  (Well, at the time, I may have disagreed about the painkillers, but I didn’t get any.)  Not counting tonsils, I have all my original parts – even my appendix.  Maybe God figured I didn’t need any extra scars; I’d gotten so many as a kid.

I’ve talked to other people who’ve had this surgery done and they’ve said it will be fine.  I understand that everyone’s experiences are different, but I find it comforting to talk to people who have walked this path.  Especially since I did what most people do, in this day and age, when I found out I needed surgery: I turned to the internet. What a mistake!  The horror stories were rampant!   I turned to my husband one night, tears in my eyes and fear in my heart and said, “I am NOT having this done.”

Obviously, I’ve reconsidered.  I know the benefits outweigh the risks.

Still, I will admit, I’m scared.  One friend who had a similar procedure done told me, “I’d been in so much pain that recovery wasn’t bad.  I felt so much better.”  I understood what she was saying but, I’m not in pain.  Not yet.  But I will come out with pain.  Luckily I’ll also come home with painkillers.  I’ve been told I’ll sleep a lot.  I was also told, by a fellow knitter, that I should knit a simple washcloth while I’m on painkillers, just for laughs.  I’m considering it.

Because, more than anything, I know it’s about perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m scared because I’m still on “this side” of the surgery.  I don’t know what to expect. Once it’s over, I’d really like to look back on it all, maybe look at a washcloth, and laugh.

The Real Hunger Games

The Real Hunger Games

Is there anyone who really doesn’t like to learn? I remember not liking “school.” And there were certain classes that I didn’t care for.  (Some classes where the teacher would’ve taken me to task for that previous sentence, which shouldn’t begin with the word “and,” and shouldn’t end with a preposition.)  But mostly the math classes. I just can’t wrap my head around those. Numbers don’t change, so by now I should have a pretty good grasp on them but, frankly, they get more mysterious to me every year.

I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone, though, who wanted to stop learning. We naturally have a Hunger for Knowledge.

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning a lot about knitting, crocheting, spinning yarn, and other fiber-related things. (Some of my friends and family have also, albeit without as much enthusiasm, learned alongside me.) But I still want to learn more! I want to read about it, take classes to improve technique. More! More!! I have a sewing machine in the attic. I want to learn how to use it. I’ve tried at least twice in my life to learn to sew. Failed miserably both times. Still, hope springs eternal. “This,” I think, “will be the time I put Martha Stewart to shame!” All I need is an instructor (looking around hopefully…)

My mom has started going to exercise classes. She plays Mahjong (which I had to look up online to get the proper spelling). She’s doing new things to keep her mind and body active and I applaud her! My dad got back into painting recently. Each painting shows he’s trying something new, even if only one small aspect of the craft. He’s darned good at it, too. (I mean “good” like, “Your DAD did that?!” I can’t draw more than a stick figure. ::shrug:: He can’t knit.)

A friend of mine shared with me her recent experience with bio-feedback. She’s in college working on her second (third? fourth?) degree, all while balancing some difficult medical issues.  It blows my mind.  Another friend had her first written work published recently.  Isn’t that awesome?  My husband is considering going back to college after…well, after many years.  He’s thinking about changing careers.  I couldn’t be prouder!

And we are all over 40!   We talk about our medical procedures with each other.  That’s what OLD people do!  But we’re still young enough to learn.  No – to WANT to learn.  We’re still Hungry.

Every now and then I get depressed about the future. Today was one of those days. The economy is awful. Politicians make me sick. The gap between The Rich and The Poor is huge and I’m much closer to the latter than I would like to be.

Then I remembered all the opportunities that still await. Tons of stuff I don’t know yet. So much left to try! So much left to learn! It’s probably a good thing that our brains don’t “growl” when they’re hungry the way our stomachs do. I’m not sure they ever get full.   The noise would be deafening.

iKnit

I may not write, but I sure can knit.

I knit constantly.  Wes likes to drive, so I knit in the car.  I knit while we watch tv.  I knit when visiting friends.  For 10 months my mother-in-law was in a nursing home and we visited nearly every night…I got lots of knitting done during those visits.

I also crochet, and I spin my own yarn – with an honest-to-goodness antique spinning wheel.  I’m presently learning to dye my own yarn and I’d love to learn to weave.   Most people show a bit of interest in all of this, but I can see on their faces that they truly don’t understand why I love it so much.  I wish I had an answer.

It’s kind of like an addiction.   Instead of cocaine, it’s cashmere.   Instead of alcohol; alpaca.  Yarn is yummy.

But when someone sees me making socks I can see the question on their faces: “Why?”  Especially if they inquire… How long does a pair of socks take to make?  About 20 hours, depending on the pattern.  And the sock yarn isn’t cheap.  Its’ about $14-24 for good sock yarn, depending on the fibre.  (But a wool/cashmere/silk blend sock is a luxury most people will never experience!)  “That expensive?” they ask.  They look at me in confusion.  Sometimes their heads turn a bit like puppies do when they hear words that don’t make sense.   My shoulders slump.  Yes, I know I can buy socks for $3 at WalMart.  That’s not the point!

 

Everyone spends money on their hobbies.  People who like sports spend money on tickets to watch their teams.  They buy sports-related clothes at inflated prices.  Other people play those sports and spend money on equipment or lessons.  It’s the same thing.  I don’t knit because I need socks.  Or a scarf.  Or a blanket.   That’s just a wonderful benefit of the hobby.  I knit because it’s fun.  I love it!

A skein of yarn is like a toy.  A transformer.  At first it’s squishy and smooshy.  (Yes, smooshy is a very technical knitting term.)  You can play with it.  It’s full of potential.   All the patterns battle in your brain to be the winner of that yarn!  And YOU are the judge!  You choose which path the yarn will follow.  Sometimes the yarn rebels.  It doesn’t want to be a scarf!!  Not THAT scarf, anyway.  And you may eventually agree with it and rip it out and start over.  Letting it fill with potential again until the right pattern makes itself known.

 

 

At this point, my non-knitting friends believe I have taken a few steps away from the Sanity Center.  My knitting friends are just nodding.