29 December 2006

Uncertain Times

A belated Merry Christmas to the three people who read my blog. My holiday, except for a wonderful Christmas Eve service, was... well, it left something to be desired. While carving out new holiday patterns of my own that I share with Joel and his family, I do miss my family's holiday traditions a lot. Suffice it to say that we're still working on figuring out what Christmas looks like for us.

I'm feeling very un-grounded tonight. Life is up in the air. My ordination process is up in the air (you'd think I'd be used to that). An out-of-country trip I am supposed to take in three weeks is up in the air. My friend's wedding (the reason for the out-of-country voyage) is up in the air. Work stuff has been up in the air for quite a while, and I don't know how resolved things will be when we return from Winter Break. My finances are up in the air.

I need to knit something that will bind me to the earth. Something that will bring clarity through the process of creating. Something that will solve all my problems (yeah, right!).

If anybody has any suggestions, please send them my way. The best solution I've come up with so far is running away to Scotland, but only if I can convince Joel to come with me.

16 December 2006

knitting as a spiritual discipline

My mom taught me to knit. I must have been about eight or nine, I don't really remember. But I remember sitting on the side of my parents' bed, my little fingers working intently on some horribly ugly scarf that I probably never finished. I remember the excitement I felt when my mom took me to the craft store (probably a long-gone Ben Franklin) to buy my very own knitting needles: a pair of size 9 straights, made out of a special kind of plastic that looks like ivory. I thought they were actually ivory for years. Until I stepped on my knitting, buried under a pile of something on my bedroom floor, and one of the needles snapped. I still have the intact needle in my stash, waiting for me to lose another size 9 straight, to form a mismatched pair. Since I use bamboo circulars pretty much exclusively now, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Knitting fell out of my interest sometime in middle school or high school. I'm not sure how it happened, but given the many and varied interests I pursued as a kid, it's not surprising that some of them slipped through the cracks. There is still a half-finished rabbit cage somewhere in my parents' basement, from when I built a trap and attempt to domesticate a bunny that lived in our backyard -- but I lost interest before I finished the building part of the project. Name an interest I could have had as a kid, I can tell you a story. I was going to be an astronomer, until I took physics. I was also going to be a cheerleader, until I went to a tryout and realized I didn't like or respect most of the girls in the room.

Unlike astrononmy, cheerleading, and rabbit cages, I picked up knitting again when I was in
college. My girlfriend Jennie invited me to join a design-and-knit-your-own-sweater class that she taught, and I had a study-heavy courseload and wanted a diversion, so I gamely went to the first session. And I haven't looked back.

So two nights ago, I had a hugely important phone meeting with my ordination committee back home. I've been writing a paper on-and-off for the last two years, and this meeting was The Big Grilling. Picture a dissertation defense. I was nervous. Each committee member had been asked to write three questions for me, and they simply went around the room asking things until they were out of questions. Nerve-wracking. They can ask anything, and they did. One of the committee members tried to back me into a corner and say that I think people who are not Christian are going to Hell. Another tried to get me to say that I should stick with working in an elementary school rather than pursuing my call to ordained ministry. And one asked me to describe any spiritual disciplines I follow.

But that last question was easy. It was easy because I knit.

I talked about how knitting is a way to participate with God in the act of Creation, one slow, deliberate stitch at a time. I talked about how the final product is a gift that can warm a cold head, warm a cold heart, make the world a better place for someone else, even if only for a few moments. I talked about how humans are called to create, to care for each other and for the world, and how knitting is a part of following that call. I talked about the growing interest in knitting for charity, and how I work with the Knitting Club at school to get kids to knit afghan squares to donate to Warm Up America!, and I talked about the book Knitting for Peace. There was so much more that I could have said, about building community, and the practice of prayer, and how knitting is love, but I was afraid of spending too much time on any one question. But what I said was enough. I knew it was a satisfactory answer when the woman who had asked the question paused, and then said,

"I know exactly what you mean. I'm a knitter, too. Thank you."

10 December 2006

Long time, no write (a.k.a. two months of rambling catch-up)

Been knitting a lot lately, but not posting (even my mom's commented on the lack of posts!). Mostly I'm not posting much because I've been knitting Christmas presents, and I don't want to give anything away. I am excited about the presents, though. I'm making something for Joel that I've never attempted before, and it's turning out really well, so that's happy. His mom's present (Misty Garden scarf out of Plymouth Handpainted Originals) is finished, but not blocked yet. And, um, I'm making a set of felted coasters for a friend at work. Other than that, actually, I've been a total slacker on giftyness. Not cool.

BUT! I made the Sunflower Tam from
Knitting Nature, out of Cascade's bulky alpaca. That's totally for me. And I'm going to knit some slippers soon (probably over winter break, all hail the public schools and their built-in awesome vacation periods). Also for me. But first I need to figure out what the heck I'm going to do for co-workers. Maybe knit a handful of bookmarks, something quick like that. I'm thinking some pretty little argyle bookmarks -- shouldn't be too difficult or time consuming to make, I'll use yarn I already own, I'll make ten or so and give them to people who give me a gift. I need to break down and get a book for the art teacher (who is pregnant! with twins!) who befriended me over knitting. I'm thinking Big Girl Knits.

I've been really slack about keeping it all in my knitting book, too. You know, the book in which I write a little blurb about each item that I knit, and include the yarn label and a snip of the yarn, etc. Someday I'll get a digital camera, too, and then I can put knitting pictures up here and in the book, too.

I've also learned how to do Entrelac -- I made a scarf out of Noro Kureyon, and my art teacher friend was going to sell it for me at a craft fair... but alas, the scarf didn't sell. So that may be a Christmas present for somebody, to be determined.

Life has been crazy, and knitting and singing are the reprieves of choice. And I'm loving the new British TV series Robin Hood -- lots of fun handknits to admire. And in the History Channel's Mayflower thingy they showed again and again last month. Makes me want to knit my very own Pilgrim outfit. Maybe I will someday.

28 September 2006

A Nice Contrast

The beret looks terrible. I'm gonna have to fix, uh, something. The problem is the brim, so I may have to take the whole thing out and do it again. Ugh.

But that's not the point. The point is that a wonderful thing happened to me this morning at work. Six months ago or so I had a disappointing incident with the art teacher at my (former) school, which I wrote about here.


This morning, one of the teachers at my new school approached me in the hallway and asked if I'd made my scarf (the Kata/Felicity Scarf). She then asked me what stitch combination I'd used. She then asked what yarn I'd used. ("It's, um, Alchemy? I had to go to North Carolina for it?" "Oh, yeah, I know that one.") She then invited me to help her lead the knitting club on Mondays after school. Aha! She's the art teacher!

"Come by my room, we'll talk fibers sometime," she said as we parted ways.

I am so working at the right school now.
And there is hope for the creative futures of our children.
Thank you, God.

27 September 2006

Lull

There has been a bit of a lull in the knitting.

First of all, I finished the Kata/Felicity Scarf from the previous post, and knitting with any other yarn just seems like kind of a letdown.

Secondly, I've been working on getting ordained. That takes considerably more time and effort when the people who are in charge of your process act like they have their heads up orafices that they'd have to be pretty stupid to stick their heads up in the first place.

Thirdly, I ran out of yarn and patterns that worked together. Well, I ran out of neither yarn nor patterns, really, but it sure felt like it for a while.

Then I went to a therapist for a day (part of the ordination stuff -- "they" have to make sure I'm not crazy. And I'm officially not!), in a part of the Atlanta metro where I almost never go, and so I spent a bit of time at this yarn store. I spent a bit of money there, too. I'm just sayin'. It was a good store -- if it weren't an hour away from any place I ever want to be, I'd go there more often. But I have new yarn now, which means new knitting inspiration.

I've been needing some inspiration lately. I was going to write a post titled "Inspiration," but I just couldn't get excited about it.

Anyway, inspiration. I now have yarn with which to make Christmas presents for Joel and for his mother. I think I'm going to start, though, with a beret for myself. I'm feeling the beret again this season, which is nice. I used to be a beret kid, back when I was a kid. I think it's time again. I'm hoping I bought enough of the yarn I plan to use, because I misread the label in the store and may have underbought. And that store is at least an hour from my house.

And I have two discoveries to share. The first is that my old-new favorite yarn store is no longer a favorite (they're moving away from the yarns I love, toward lots of yarns I don't love), which is especially too bad because my job is a less-than-five-minute drive away. The second is a new-ish blog that has quickly become a must-read for me: PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers is a hilarious read (the Manolo meets New England Unitarian Universalism in the form of a fabulous single female minister who just wants us all to look as good as God intended) by a dedicated almost-daily blogger with a sense of decency and style. If PeaceBang had an email address, I'd let her know privately how much I enjoy her blog, but as it is, she has no contact info on her Blogger Profile, and so I must share with the world my love for her (and let her know about Ann Taylor LOFT's new "Julie" trousers, which are the most flattering trousers I have perhaps ever found for the very-bootylicious ministers among us). Thank you, Ann Taylor LOFT. And thank you, too, PeaceBang, for your unending quest to bring a little bit of taste to those who think they are not of this world (but who still have to live in it!).

Now. To the beret!

02 September 2006

Knitting with Honey

So, that link I used to have over in the sidebar that said something like "Yarn I Love But Have Never Seen"? I've seen it now. And I love it even more than I thought I would. If it weren't so darned expensive, I would swear to knit with nothing else for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, at $20 a skein, I simply cannot afford to make a promise like that.

Joel and I went to North Carolina a few weeks ago. A college friend of his had eloped last January, and she and her husband had this big "We Got Married" weekend celebration up in the mountains near Boone. (Great town. I could totally dig that vibe, man.) And as any good knitter would do, I googled something like "yarn store, Boone, NC" and came across a couple of different options, one in a town just over the mountain that sold Alchemy Yarns. So when we got up to Boone, I made Joel drive over the mountain in the rain -- we had to call for directions twice -- to find this shop and buy some yarn. I bought two skeins of Synchronicity, a 50/50 silk/wool DKish blend. Amazing stuff. I normally hate knitting with silk. There's something about the feel of it that grates on me, like knitting with synthetic fibers. But like I said, I really don't want to knit with any other yarn, ever. It doesn't feel like silk, it feels like honey.

I immediately went to the new yarn store I love in my old 'hood and begged the owner to start carrying Synchronicity. We'll see.

After carrying the two skeins around for about three weeks, they finally told me what they want to be. The Kata Felicity Scarf from Mindful Knitting (a book that I do eventually plan to review). I've been working on it for a couple of days now, and the yarn is perfect for this pattern. Just the right shine, just the right drape -- the particular stitch pattern combined with the silk makes the yarn look like ropes of jewels (emeralds, since I bought a deep green) that somehow magically hang together in invisible settings.

Despite the premise of the book from which I got the pattern, I am not meditating while making this scarf. I am watching improv comedy. There's a huge tournament happening this weekend at the theater where Joel works, and I almost always knit during the shows. (I've made it my short-term goal, since I apparently am going to be in Atlanta longer than I had intended, to become one of those local celebrities: "The Girl Who Knits At Dad's Garage.") So I've been working this pattern in the dark, which is particularly fun because it's a lace pattern -- lots of yarnover and s1k2togPsso action to keep track of, but a pretty simple repeat -- and I have not made a single mistake in the pattern (knock wood). It looks amazing. And when the lights come on, I stop knitting and work a crossword or talk with friends instead.

I hadn't realized that knitting in the dark was all that unusual (everyone knits at the movies, right?), but last night I met a fellow knitter during intermission. She was working on a sweater and I asked if she was making much progress during the shows, and she said that it was too complicated a stitch pattern to work in the dark. A k1p1 rib. Too complicated. Oh. I had just showed her my lacy scarf. On the one hand,
I am terribly proud of my knitting-in-the-dark skillz. On the other hand, I hadn't meant to make her feel like an inferiorly-skilled knitter. Whoops. Hopefully she didn't notice, or overanalyze the situation like I just did.

Anyway, there are two more shows tonight, and then the tournament is over and I'll have to knit my honey/jewel/improv-not-meditiation scarf by the light of day again if I want to finish it and move on to something else. But for now, I'm just enjoying the feel of time slipping through my fingers.

05 August 2006

Victory is Mine! ...more or less

I knitted a sweater in two days. Giant yarn (Cascade's Lana Grande, in black), big needles (US 13s), no sleeves, super-easy. But still. Two days! I have a couple of ends to weave in, and it needs a light blocking, but other than that, it's a whole garment that took seemingly no time at all and I can wear it to work and everything! I made the body about four inches longer than the pattern called for, so it's a little less teenager-y and a little more jacket-y.

So, I'm boring and lazy and technologically not-very-with-it, but Jennie isn't, and she's posted pictures of our Florida trip (scroll down till you see palm trees). Yes, we really were on the Jumbotron at the Devil Rays game!

02 August 2006

Disconnected

Today I'm having something of an off day. Grumpy grump grump. Maybe it was the bickering in the car as I drove my boyfriend to the airport this morning. Maybe it was the loneliness on the drive home. Maybe it's the post-vacation back-to-real-life blues. Maybe it's the impending end-of-summer back-to-work blues. Right now I just feel bleh.


BUT! A new yarn store opened up in Atlanta about two weeks ago. It's everything a yarn store should be. Beautiful layout. Great atmosphere. Friendly service. Cool owner. No snobbery. Their own custom-roasted blend of organic and socially-conscious coffee that is always freshly-brewed and all-you-can-drink. Awesome selection of really nice yarns in a variety of prices, and no novelty crap. Even sample layout copies of books that aren't yet published but for which they are already taking preorders. Seriously, I may never shop anywhere else for yarn ever again. The only bad thing about this shop is that I
used to live down the street from the location, and now I don't anymore. Then again, now that I'll have to drive 20 minutes to get there, as opposed to the six-minute walk I would have if I still lived in my beautiful Blue Apartment at 780 St. Charles Ave., maybe I won't spend as much money there as I otherwise would. But since I really want this shop to do well (and goodness knows we've got a ton of yarn stores in the Atlanta area and nobody seems to understand how they can all stay in business in this market), I could see spending more than I should there anyway. And maybe if I went every day, I wouldn't feel obliged to buy something every time I go in. As it is... I'm thinking of driving to choir a little early tonight and stopping in for some superchunky something that will knit up quickly into this little number.

There are only about four more days of summer vacation. Work starts Monday. In fact, there's a meet-and-greet potluck for the new folks (that's me) this Friday, for which I haven't RSVPed but which I plan to attend anyway. That's two days away. And my knitting goal for the summer had been to learn how to do colorwork. Both intarsia and Fair Isle. I did the intarsia bit. That was way easy. I have yet to bother with the Fair Isle thing, though. I have yet to find a pattern I like enough to want to make it. I haven't done much looking, but I have done a little. I'm just a solid-color kind of gal, really. I always have been. There was a time in my life when I refused to wear any clothing that wasn't completely solid colored -- no subtle floral patterns, no polka dots, no stripes of any kind. And definitely no writing! Not even a tag that poked out from the side seam. Growing up in the label-conscious eighties (when it was the height of cool in the halls of my elementary school to wear sweatshirts with "United Colors of Bennetton" blazed across the chest), I was in trouble. Apparently, I'm still in trouble, when it comes to doing this Fair Isle thing. I want to know how to do it. Knowing that I will never bother to wear it is something of a motivation-killer, though.

One last non sequitur. I've always been something of a "Mary Mary Quite Contrary." Never one to jump on the bandwagon, go along with the crowd simply for the sake of being like everybody else, etc. And so it goes with yarn. I'm a huge fiber snob. I have a very limited scope when it comes to what yarns I will use. Heck, I don't even like knitting with cotton! Or silk! So when I was talking with the owner of my new awesome LYS about possible yarns to use for a sweater I'm going to do someday, she suggested I use Cascade 220, or possibly something by Debbie Bliss, or something else, blah blah blah. "Ugh. 220 is what everyone uses. It's everywhere. Forget it." I thought. But, she handed me a skein of Cascade Pastaza, and pointed out that it's 50% llama wool. LLAMA, people! So I bought a skein to play with. And grabbed one skein of an interesting colorway of 22o while I was at it, not realizing that it was 220. Brougth them home, swatched them up... and oh my goodness, I understand now why everyone loves 220 as much as they do. Geez, it's a beautiful yarn, and so soft to touch, and so easy to work up! Love love love love! It's not my New Favorite Yarn or anything, because that's just going too far, but wow do I like this yarn. The Pastaza's great too (I like the shine it has -- without silk, even!). Never again will I turn up my nose at Cascade yarns. And after Ann Shayne's gorgeous porch chair pillows, I'm inspired to knit some like hers for our porch rocking chairs as well... which means going back to the LYS and buying some Cotton Classic. Breaking all kinds of self-imposed rules here, people! Throwing caution to the wind! Learning how to do that really cool hexagonal stitch pattern is just the bonus.

Also, I purchased two books from KnitPicks last night and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. Also also, I finally broke down and subscribed to Interweave Knits. Lots of inspiration headed my way. It's about time, since I have been feeling somewhat stagnant in terms of my knitting this past month or so.

20 July 2006

Connections

I don't remember to check Knitters Review all that often, but I was poking around there one day a couple of weeks ago and found this poll, which I loved. KR polls really only tend to scratch the surface of any issue, but I love that of the 1924 people who have taken this poll as of this moment, nearly three-quarters think that there may be something to the idea that knitting and spirituality are connected. That's 1400 people! And considering how many more knitters there are in the world who haven't taken the poll (I mean, how many thousands of people participated in the Knitting Olympics? over 4000? And how many more of us didn't participate? Like me?)... that's a lot of knitters who connect to The Great Something-Out-There (or, as I like to say, The Big Chick in the Sky). We could start a church. And if we can start a church, then we can start a REVOLUTION!

Ok, about the revolution...too much? Too much.

I think that knitters already have started churches, actually. Weekly knit-nights, S'nB groups (or whatever we're saying these days that isn't a contested trademark), whatever you call 'em. They're knitters' church. Come together, from your different worlds and busy lives, shut out the chaos and the obligations for just a moment, join each other in this space to learn and grow and share something of ourselves with another person who would otherwise be a total stranger, but who isn't because you have this common love for something that is greater than yourselves, bigger than each individual would be on his or her own. We don't always know why we do it, except that we have to -- something has called us to create, to build, to join, to love. Something bigger than we are is calling out to us, inviting us to be a part of this world that not everyone sees or appreciates or understands. And we can make the whole world a better place, simply by listening to that Something Bigger, giving ourselves to it, letting go of all that external stuff that's holding us back, and connecting -- stitch by stitch -- to this fabric that we are creating, and which in turn creates us.

And I don't just mean the physical fabric of the garment that we're making out of needles and yarn and time and effort. I mean the spiritual fabric, the metaphorical and metaphysical fabric, knitting us to one another, to the person who receives the garment we make, to the other people who share this calling to create, to the Big Chick in the Sky who breathed into us and gave us the needles and yarn and told us to be fruitful and multiply. That fabric stretches over all of us, bundling us together, blanketing us in this Something Bigger.

I am constantly amazed at the sheer size of the internet knitting community. I'm not a frequent commenter on others' blogs (and I have yet to receive any comments on mine, or even to check and see how many people read it), but I lurk on several, and I am amazed at how comfortable I feel peeking into the lives of these people I've never met, and how much I want to share myself with them. If I were to go to LA, I'd totally email Crazy Aunt Purl to see if she would drink wine with me. A friend of mine is getting married in Toronto in October, and if I go, I totally want to meet the Yarn Harlot. Et cetera. There are thousands of us out there, all lurking on each others' blogs, all wanting to meet (and occasionally doing so), all knowing that we're going to be fast friends the second we see each other -- already being fast friends, in many cases, in spite of never having been in the same time zone at the same time, even. Amazing.

This weekend I am going to Florida for a girls' weekend with two of my best girlfriends from college. Jennie is the one who encouraged me to get back into knitting, after having laid aside the needles when I was young. Ali is the one who sat next to me in our painful Senior Seminar, knitting away furiously on our sweaters and trying not to scream our heads off. And both of them are trying to figure out things to do while we're together for two days: there's been lots of emailing back-and-forth, what about amusement parks in the area, what about a baseball game, what about this, what about that??? And all that's well and good. I'm all for the Axis of Diva going to see a Devil Rays game. But what I really want to do is sit around with two of my best girlfriends and knit. Knit on the beach, knit on the dock, knit by the pool, knit inside where it's air conditioned and simply look out the window... whatever. I'm just happy to have knitters' church and connect with my girls.

08 July 2006

Callous

Hooray for the new Knitty! I am particularly enamored of the lilies -- but I'm having needle issues. I only have two plastic size-one dpns, and two metal size-two dpns plus a really long size-two circular. This makes knitting in the round very difficult. I generally prefer knitting with larger needles (size 5 is on the small end), and after doing 12 inches of i-cord on my size-ones, my fingers hurt! A lot! I'm afraid that I'm going to develop a callous on the tip of my left finger.

In other news, I'm stalling on the SCJ. I have no desire to sew the hem flat. I still can't decide if I'm going to felt it or not. I don't quite like the way it hangs on me, but I can't figure out how to fix it. Meow, meow, meow.

Been catching up on lots of KnitCast listening this afternoon. And I found my Weekend Knitting (it was on the floor next to the bed, of all places!). And I'm trying really hard not to purchase any new yarn in order to save money for upcoming travels. Really, I just want to be on the beach in Florida with my girls, sipping fuzzy drinks and knitting fuzzy goodness. Not getting callouses.

07 July 2006

Where does the time go?

I cannot believe that it's July. I only get two months of summer this year (I'd gotten used to a cushy three-and-a-half. Ah, grad school, I do miss some things about you). Still, I have one more big trip coming up: a girlfriends weekend in Florida, followed by a week in New York City with Joel. There is much knitting yet to be accomplished before elementary school hell begins again! Oh, and I'm running vacation Bible school all next week. Man, I wish I could just sit there and teach the kids to knit. Knit for Jesus, kids!

And by the way, I totally didn't write that song I posted for the Fourth of July. L. Stone did (no, I don't know his first name), to the tune of Finlandia (by J. Sibelius)(and his first name was Johann).
But I did grow up singing it in church. Maybe I should teach the kids this song.

04 July 2006

Because Loving Your Country Doesn't Have to Mean Hating Others'

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine,
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine,
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, O God of every nation,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

30 June 2006

Little Lost Lamb

I cannot for the life of me find my copy of Weekend Knitting. Where did it go? It's not on the coffee table in the stack of knitting books. It's not on the shelf where the knitting books actually belong. It's not on the floor of the basement where the knitting books eventually wind up. Where is it?? Where???

In other news, I have finished the knitting of the SCJ. Now I just have to sew it all together. I have never actually had to sew giant pieces of knitting together before: every other sweater I've ever made (all two of them), I've knit as one piece so that I wouldn't have to sew them together later. So I really don't know how to do it. Also, I think I'm going to felt the jacket slightly, if I don't like the final fit (I haven't liked the way it looks on actual women in actual photos on their actual blogs, but it may be the women and not the jacket, you know?) and as a way to help firm up a few of the thin spots that resulted from using a thick-and-thin yarn (does that work?). What does all this mean? It means that I'm venturing into uncharted "I'm confused about how to proceed" territory, and I may have to call in the big guns.
After all, what are girlfriends for?

27 June 2006

You Can Go Home Again

...you are just older when you get there.

I am happy to report that I have been home, visiting my parents, and that (a) I accomplished a lot of behind-the-scenes career stuff, (b) I still like my folks and they like me, and (c) I did a lot of knitting. Oh, and I got to watch a baseball game with my girlfriend Jennifer and watch twin baby deer(s) frolic in the back yard. And pluck cabbage worms off the Brussels sprouts in the garden.

But back to the knitting. And the relaxing. And the church. And the new yarn store.

My home church has a new minister (new since the last time I was home long enough to go to church, anyway -- he's actually been there for a while now), and he's the guy who oversees the bunch of programs that includes the Shawl Knitting Ministry. So I'm trying to convince him to learn to knit. He actually seemed pretty cool with the idea, what with the good-deed-doing and the fun and fellowship and the earning-points-with-the-church-ladies, and the fact that most of the time he sits there and hangs out with the knitters anyway. So that's a project. Convince the man my mom calls "our new whippersnapper preacher" to learn to knit. Who's with me?!?!!? If I still actually lived there, I'd totally sit down with him for twenty minutes and have him knitting before he even realizes it. But I don't live there, so I guess that's not going to happen.

NEW (to me) YARN STORE in my hometown. Within walking distance of my house. Across the street from my elementary school. In the shopping center where my first coffee shop job was. Amazing selection. Totally friendly owner. Did I mention the great selection, and how it's all good stuff and no crap? And I found good things in the 20% off bin. Bought a singleton blue Reynold's Lopi, so knitted a hat for Joel while in a meeting that weekend. Nice way to connect to him from a distance of 1000 miles. And the hat is beautiful -- I'm totally going to steal it if he doesn't wear it this winter. Or even if he does. Or at least, I'll insist that he shares it. I'll wear it inside, even. Great hat. If I even knew where I could buy Reynold's Lopi in Atlanta, I'd buy another skein and knit a second hat so I wouldn't be forced to arm wrestle my boyfriend for the good one that, um, I made for him. So yay for that new yarn store.

So every morning I woke up ridiculously early (sometimes I went back to bed, but not every time) and tromped downstairs to watch the baby deer frolic in the backyard. Yes. Baby deer. Since deer is a tricky singular/plural word, let me clarify: there were two. Twins. Little white spots, too young to jump over the fence. Lots of frolicking. Lots. And then the nursing. The cuteness-o-meter really couldn't go much higher. Then we'd eat breakfast. Then I'd curl up in a chair and knit for a while and talk with my mom. Lots of knitting. Lots of talking. Lots.

I've been working on the Sunrise Circle Jacket. I started with the left arm/front, rather than the back, and did the whole left side during my spring break, way back in early March or whenever. Started the right side, got through the arm and up to the increase-y part, and had to stop. Had to. The eight-or-so days of nonstop knitting was too intense, and I had to work on smaller stuff for a while (finished a pair of socks that I started last August, tho', so that was a good thing). Picked up the SCJ again for this trip home (airplane knitting! car knitting!), and breezed through the right front and most of the back in the ten days I was there. And! knitting the hat in there provided a good break, so I didn't get SCJ burnout. I'm still finishing out the raglan on the back, but I still like it. Months later. So that's good.

Meanwhile, I had good meetings with important people (important in that world), and I'm hoping that it means I actually get to get a job soon. Better than that, though, I reconnected with a bunch of old friends. I didn't see everyone I was hoping to see, but close. And I saw the people who are most important. Both of my brothers! My "adopted sister" and her new-to-me boyfriend! Jennifer-who-lives-in-Chicago! Mom! Dad! Neighbors! Church people! Oh, it was good to be home.

And I'm not just saying that because my mom now knows about my blog.


10 June 2006

Book Review -- Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the Heart with Craft

Susan Gordon Lydon's Knitting Heaven and Earth reminds me why I tend to eschew the whole autobiography/memoirs genre: because although I could sit with rapt attention and listen to her talk about her experiences for hours and days and weeks on end, I find it damn difficult to bring myself to care when her experiences are laid out on the written page for all to see. The moment the personal struggles and revelations are put into words and arranged on the page, they become flat and boring. It's also why I don't bother to keep a journal of my own, and why I prefer to write fiction, or to write real life into poetry rather than prose. Much as I love reading and writing, the written word is sometimes inadequate for storytelling. This book is an example of one of those times.

I had hoped things would be different with this book, seeing as how Knitting Heaven and Earth is supposed to be about knitting and spirituality, a combination which increasingly fascinates me… but no. This book quickly became bathroom reading, and then eventually devolved into a project I had to force myself to finish rather than allow myself to abandon altogether. Really, it's too bad, because I did begin to connect more with Lydon toward the end. Her story became more urgent with the suicide of a close friend and her own journeys through multiple cancers. Unfortunately, there was less knitting and more needlepoint at these times, too – which begs the question, why spend a huge portion of the book talking about your needlepoint if the book is supposed to be about knitting?

Meanwhile, her musings about knitting, while often insightful and underline-worthy, seemed to float disconnectedly amongst the stories she told. Her alcoholism, her unhealthy and abusive romances, her strained relationship with her father… all the knitting reflections she interspersed while relating these experiences seemed interchangeably unrelated to the stories in which she embedded them. Yes, if you knit a sweater for someone, you feel a greater connection to that person, and they may or may not reciprocate that feeling, and their response to your offer will affect how you relate to one another. It's the Boyfriend Curse writ large. It took you forty years to learn this lesson? Lydon phrases her spiritual knit-musings beautifully, but doesn't earn their discovery in the telling of her journey.

I wonder, though… this is the first book I have read by Lydon; would I have felt differently if I had read The Knitting Sutra first? I still plan to read that one, if it's still available in bookstores (I've never seen it on the shelf). I hope that it will help me to appreciate some of the writing of Knitting Heaven and Earth – rather than merely to appreciate having finished it at last. On the upside, as I finished the book, I had a sudden and inexplicable urge to knit one of those yummy flower washcloths from Weekend Knitting. Books that inspire me to specific projects are not all bad!

02 June 2006

I have not fallen off the face of the earth

...I have just been a bad blogger, that's all. But I've been a good knitter! So that's something.

Brief update (as I'm about to go to a friend's moving-away party):
(not that anyone cares, as probably nobody reads this blog anyway)

I'm reading a couple of knitting and spirituality books, reviews for which I intend to include as posts someday. One's not so great, one looks to be pretty good but I've only just started it.

I've been knitting lots of random things -- finished a pair of socks I started a year ago, got about halfway on the Sunrise Circle Jacket before putting it aside, am currently breezing through the Spiral Shell from WrapStyle. I'm sure there are other things as well, but those are the highlights.

My knitting has been very good for my soul, pretty much the only thing that has been good lately. Well, not true, but work was pretty miserable there for a while. Now it's over, and I'm relieved. As far as I can tell, the best benefit of working for a school is two months of summer vacation. I'm going to visit my parents in a week and a half, and that'll be good for my soul also. But there are several Big Projects (not knitting, unfortunately -- job-search related) that I need to complete before I can go home and enjoy myself without my own guilt combining with the guilt my mother will set upon me with every waking moment and causing my upper chest to implode.

'Cause that's where I feel all my guilt. In my imploding upper chest. Hopefully knitting the Spiral Shell will help to protect me like so much blue wool guilt-deflecting armor.

09 March 2006

It Is A Paradox!

I get "thirty minutes" of "work-free" lunch each day. I sit in a conference room, eat my lunch, and knit. The ten minutes I actually get to spend knitting and eating are the most relaxing and also the most re-energizing ten minutes of my day.

Relaxing and energizing. At the same time. Who knew? Well, we all did, actually.

As I was sitting there, the art teacher came in and looked at the yarn in my lap.
"Oh! You're crocheting!" she proclaims.
I delicately explain the difference between knitting and crocheting -- which she doesn't understand, so I must repeat it. An art teacher who can't tell the difference between two needles and one hook? I am concerned about the artistic future of America's children.

She then proceeded to say something like "gosh, you have so much time on your hands. Must be nice."
To which I replied, "I have to make this time, and it's very important to me." My commute to and from work is an hour each way, after all, and as far as my mom knows, I don't knit while driving.

She then asserted "someday you'll be married and have children, and then you won't have time to knit anymore and you'll have to get up at four in the morning just to do the laundry." And then she patted me on the shoulder. The patronizing tone, the invasion of my personal space, and the implication that I have no real life until my husband and my children take it over and prevent me from doing anything else I love? Not cool, lady. Not cool at all. On so many levels. No thanks for ruining my lunch. And my relaxing/energizing knitting ten minutes that I so carefully carve out of my busy schedule. I'll ask my domestic partner and my cat to suck out more of my soul before I see you again, just to make you feel better about yourself.

The art teacher has no soul. And doesn't know the difference between a needle and a hook. The art teacher. So sad.

A Little Slice of Heaven

So, although the Atlanta area has a rather good number of LYSes, I have never been particularly happy with any of them, tho' I'd settled for a big rambling house the next 'burb over. But it did feel like settling. Lots of pretty yarns, but also lots of ugly yarns. Several rooms of fun fur. And not particulary friendly to anyone under the age of menopausal. Weird vibe, in general. But whatever, I bought yarn there and ignored the vibe as best as possible.

Until Monday.

On Sunday night, I played around online looking at pretty yarns, and discovered another option. I went Monday after work and the place quickly became my new most-favorite yarn store ever. This place is awesome. No fun fur in sight. And the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. And the owner (whom I didn't meet) is a rockin' twentysomething with impeccable Blue-Sky-Alpaca taste. And she was having a sale. So I win.

27 February 2006

At The Oasis Again

Bwa ha ha ha! I have foiled Atlanta Rush Hour again!
I think. It's almost 6 p.m. I'm going to search for some sushi soon before Monday night choir rehearsal.

Over the weekend I was really sick. Well, moderately sick. Just sick enough that I had to stay home and knit all weekend (when I wasn't sleeping, which I did a lot). So I did. All the ends of the Fairy Princess Lap Blanket are woven in, so it's officially Finished. AND! I made the fingerless gloves from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, too, out of a random ball of Paint Box I bought on sale a few weeks ago. So pretty. And I made the spiral rib pattern go up in the opposite direction on the second mitt, so they're all symetrical an' stuff.

And the boys who have Autism in my classroom really liked them -- the scratchiness of the wool, the bumpiness of the pattern -- and they made our walk to the busses much easier today because my charge actually wanted to hold my hand. Rock on! Does this mean I can count my yarn and needles as a tax deduction?

I had a hard day at church on Sunday. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my church. Being a minister is my career and all, and I love it. But some weeks I find myself going simply so that I can go to lunch with my church friends afterward. This has been the case a lot in recent months. (I need a vacation. Kind of difficult to negotiate when they don't actually pay you for the job you do. All the other stand-in associates have been sick lately.) Yesterday, however, the sermon was very helpful and fitting to my life. And lunch was absolutely miserable. Some of my lunch companions were perfectly pleasant, and others were so astoundingly rude that I swear it was like being in some alternate universe where their sort of behavior must be okay. I came home and had fantasies about walking out of the restaurant after telling off one particular offender. I sat on the couch going over various bits of the lunch conversation in my head, working on the second fingerless glove with astounding speed. Joel brought me our kitty and said "you're knitting very angrily." And I dropped the needles, curled up beside him, buried my fingers in the kitty's long, soft hair, and squeezed out some hot, angsty, clich
├ęd tears.

And then everything was better.

Knitting is a language my boyfriend can understand. Even if he doesn't know how to knit.
In the face of that, who cares about some jerk's poor behavior over drippy burgers and steak-cut fries a few hours ago?

23 February 2006

Also...

I almost forgot to mention! My fairy princess Lap Blanket is finally done, except for a few ends I still need to weave in. Joel (a.k.a. Big Meanie) wouldn't let me finish finishing it the other night. Just 'cause we had to be somewhere! Geez!

Anyway, it's done, for the most part. Pix coming ASAP.

An Oasis in Suburbia

Many thanks to the Knitting Queen for the shout out!

Joel found the card for the (broken anyway but mostly redeemable) digital camera, so hopefully
soon this blog will suck less. I have ideas, people! I just can't implement any of them because I am not technologically advanced. Heck, right now I'm stealing wireless internet for the first time ever, simply in order to update my blog. Welcome to the twenty-first century, right?

So, I recently moved to the suburbs of Atlanta. After living in the actual ATL for three years, I finally couldn't afford the luxury of having my own apartment any more (damn student loans!) and broke down and started shacking up with my boyfriend, who has been a grown-up longer than I have, working a real job and owning a house and actually feeding his cat every day, etc. Me? I'm twenty-five and still work the occasional unpaid internship. Anyway, living in sin with Joel has been great so far. The only problem is that I now live OTP -- that is, Outside The Perimeter -- in Marietta. Even worse, I work in Alpharetta. Both of these cities at least used to be their own independent villages with real town squares and everything, so they're sort of redeemable. And our house is a simple brick ranch-style home, not some horrid plywood McMansion in a gated subdivision that was a forest two years ago. But still. I live in the suburbs. I'm not that kind of girl.

Yesterday, however, I discovered a coffee shop between home and work that, although it is one of a chain, is really rockin' and doesn't feel like it's just on the other side of the ever-expanding highway-to-the-exurbs from a gigantic mall. Okay, so there's a Porsche dealership next door. But still. There were two geese magically finding food on the perfectly-manicured (pesticided) strip of grass between the parking lot and the street. The girl at the counter has hair that's dyed multiple colors that couldn't possibly have grown out of her head -- but not in that tacky, trendy, trying-to-be-hip kind of way. And she gave me a free drink before plopping down at a table with the manager (constantly having non-work-related converstaions on his cell phone) and a guy I think is her boyfriend. There's an actual lake out back. I'm not asking if it's natural or bulldozer-made, because I might be disappointed. I sat down in a comfy brown leather chair and sank into knitting my brioche hat for a good 45 minutes. The hectic day with the eight-year-old who can't find his nose and "forgets" how to walk just melted away. I felt like I was back in the coffee shop where I worked while I was in college. It was awesome.

Amazing what free coffee and good knitting can do for the soul.

Anyway, I came back today. Here I am, right now, stealing wireless from a nearby Cigars, Etc. (shame on you, Caribou, for making your customers pay for internet access! I spent four dollars on the damn Turtle Mocha I'm drinking!)(so much for that free drink I got yesterday.) and looking out the window at the peaceful lake. And I'm going to try to write job applications and knit. And pretend that there's not a Porsche dealership next door.

Amazing what knitting can do for the soul, despite the four-dollar coffee.
(the "free" internet helps. Thanks, Cigars, Etc.!)

18 February 2006

WIPs

I woke up this morning thinking about my WIPs, listing them in my mind and thinking about how much I might be able to accomplish today. This is the first Saturday I've had totally free for a very long time. School's out for a four-day weekend (I'm have no idea why -- President's Day? why do we get both Friday and Monday off?), but this past week was soooo busy and I didn't have any knitting time at all, and I got sick on Thursday night (My Immune System? meet Elementary School. Elementary school? Meet my Immune System. Hey, Elementary School, why are you beating up my Immune System? Stop that! I mean it! Stop! Hey, ouch!) and so I slept until noon on Friday.

So today, I bounced out of bed around 10:30 thinking about that modified Laptop Purse from AlterKnits that I started months ago and have been debating frogging, but suddenly wanted to finish after all. And I thought about the sock I still need to knit in order to complete the pair I started at that conference in August. (This is why I'm not much of a sock knitter -- having to make two of the same thing bores me.) And I thought about the Rio that is begging me to turn it into a sweater. And I thought about the Last Minute Knitted Gifts raglan sweater I'm going to frog completely because I don't think that raglan sleeves will be a flattering and comfortable cut on me. And I thought about the fairy princess Lap Blanket that is sooooo close to done! And I thought about this blog, and how I haven't had time to update all week. And I thought about the semi-broken digital camera that I asked Joel to fix last week so I could finally post some pretty pictures on here... and I thought about the sticky buns we bought yesterday at the DeKalb Farmers Market... so I catapulted out of bed, made coffee and heated up a sticky bun in the microwave.

It's now a little bit after 1:00, and after all that I have not knitted a stitch. But I have caught my blog up to date and eaten a yummy breakfast and watched quite a bit of Olympic Women's Cross Country Skiing. And now I think I just might go upstairs and grab some knitting and come back down to watch more Russia kicking everybody's butts.

The Post I Wanted to Write Monday, But Didn't Have Time

I started a new job this week. No, not in a church. I'm working as a Special Ed classroom assistant in an elementary school. There are five kids in my classroom; I'm in charge of two boys, both with Downs Syndrome and Autism. It's a pretty tough job, but I like it so far. On Monday, I picked up the brioche hat I'm knitting and sat behind two of our kids as they were watching a computer reading of Cat in the Hat. We'd parked one kid's wheelchair in front of the computer so he could see the screen -- this kid's growth is very stunted, he can't speak and he can't really move his body much, but he can turn his head a bit. Anyway, I was sitting behind these kids, knitting and repeating "sit on your bottom, sit up in your chair, put your feet down" ad nauseum with the one mobile kid, and the boy in the wheelchair turned his head around as far as possible so he could watch me knit. And he was smiling, which is a huge deal (smiling and looking at something are the only ways he can communicate at all). He was smiling and watching me knit!

I think it's an important discovery.

Was it the colors of the yarn? Was it the action of the needles? Was he simply looking at me and telling me he liked me? I don't think it's the last one -- he was looking at my hands, not at my face. Anyway, he liked watching me knit. I wonder if that will be justification of me knitting at work in the future. That'd be awesome.

09 February 2006

Knitting Olympics?

I'd like to participate in the Knitting Olympics (My gorgeous red Rio is calling out to me!), but I just don't see how it's going to happen. I think I will be reduced to observing from the sidelines this year. I don' t have a sweater pattern I like. The timing's just not right. I should be working on job applications.

But I want to knit!
Alas, it is not to be. But in 2010, baby, you can count me in!

I did send my sister (an Important Editor at an Important Newspaper Sunday Magazine) information on the Olympics and the link to her local team. It's news, people! The Knitting Olympics is even bigger than the Actual Olympics! Maybe somebody in the mainstream media will pick up the story. I feel like I've done my part, at least.

Fairy princess pix coming soon, I promise. And then my blog won't look exactly like Annie Modessitt's anymore. I hope.

07 February 2006

In which I stop numbering my posts

So, I have discovered something Very Important about the phenomenon of having a knitting blog. I felt very obligated to get more "into" the knitting community today (not that I've actually posted a comment anywhere yet... I'm still figuring all of this out and I know nobody is reading me yet, except maybe Jennie), which meant that I spent a lot of time looking at other people's blogs that I haven't read much before. Normally I check Crazy Aunt Purl and You Knit What?? and Mason-Dixon Knitting and then carry on with my day. But I spent most of the day jumping from blog to blog...

And not knitting.

I've only done about two inches of my fairy princess lap blanket today, and I knit close to half of the whole project yesterday.

But on the upside, I finally made a Half.com wishlist of knitting books.

Post #3 -- In which I actually talk about knitting

Still finding my voice on this thing. Please be nice.

So I'm starting a new job next week, meaning that I don't have anywhere I have to be during the day right now, meaning that I've been doing a lot of knitting lately. My current pet WIP is the lap blanket from Melanie Fallick's Weekend Knitting. Love Melanie Fallick. Love Weekend Knitting. Love the lap blanket, which looks like something a little girl would imagine a fairy princess would like -- it's all purples and blues, with a bit of pretty sparkly gold/purple/aqua thread my sister gave me. Someday I will actually take a picture and post it, when I figure out how to do that. I'm halfway through it right now, and have already used it to warm my lap. Which makes me feel like a fairy princess.

I'm also looking for a great sweater pattern for some beautiful red Rio de la Plata worsted wool (a thick/thin, though, so the great pattern quest becomes trickier) I scored the other day. Actually, this is a great story, all about me being a winner. My main LYS had a giant sale just the couple of days before New Years, and I fell in love with this red stuff. Love at first sight. I had to have it and make it a sweater. Alas! they only had four hanks, enough for about 3/5 of a sweater. Sigh. But I bought it anyway, because it was something like $4 a hank, and I was in love.

Then, this weekend, I decided to check out another store I'd just found on the internet. Never been there before. I popped in 20 minutes before closing on Saturday afternoon, found a couple of good things in the sale bin, but it's a mostly-fun-fur kind of place. I'm not-so-much a fun-fur kind of gal. Then! In the very back of the store! They had about four or five colors of this Rio that my other LYS carries. And Lo and Behold! They had four hanks of the Brick Red. I bought them -- dye lot be damned, I knew I'd figure out some kind of alternating scheme or something. And I brought the four new hanks home, put them next to the four I already had, examined the labels, and what do you know? They were the exact same dye lot. I win!!!

So, that's my story about me being a winner.
Anybody want to send me some great free sweater patterns? I'm thinking a size 7 needle would be about right (i.e., roughly 15 sts=4in, St. st.). I have just under 1100 yards, should be plenty.

'Cause I think I'm going to rip out the raglan sweater I started last week (only got about 2 inches anyway, not sure that I like the fabric, and I'm iffy about raglan sleeves with my body shape), and the brioche hat I'm making (also from WK) is pretty easy and kind of starting to bore me.

What, brioche boring? I know, that was blasphemy, wasn't it? But I just finished another brioche hat of the same pattern, and two in a row is just a bit much.

06 February 2006

Post #2 -- In which I post a funny link

A college friend passed this link on to me, and I think it is noteworthy because it provided me with the Great Belly Laugh of the Day. And because it's the first link I've ever made, to this blog or to anything else. Ever.

Post #1 -- The KnitBlog Experiment, Introduction, and anticipated FAQs

I've been telling myself (and my partner) that I'm going to set up a knitting blog for months now. Months, I tell you! I may have been considering it for as long as a year. But probably not quite that long.

So here I am, humbly submitting my voice to the cacophany of knitting-and-whatnot blogs out there. Finally. I'm doing it.

But what can I contribute to the knitting blogosphere, you ask? Who do you think you are, my senior seminar professor? Screw you. I may or may not have anything new to say, but we won't find out until I say it, now will we? In the mean time, I need a more appropriate outlet for my knitting enthusiasm than my current options provide. So here I am, the Holy Knitter.

How did I pick this name/persona, you ask? Well, first of all, after months (months!) of trying to think of a good blog name that hasn't been used, I lit upon HolyKnit.blogspot.com. Unfortunately, that one was already taken. By somebody who's not even using it. Grrr. So I tried a derivative, and this one was available. And so, the Holy Knitter was born.

Who the heck is the Holy Knitter, and why are you being all mysterious, you ask? The gist is this: I'm a minister without a pulpit. I graduated from seminary this past May, but have yet to get an actual job in an actual church. I'm working on it now, but had taken a break from the long-term job search process because of some short-term life stress and therapeutic needs (i.e., seminary is hard, and will make you crazy!), and because I opted to do a continuing education program certificate that made my life hell for four months but is now finished. I am certified! (note: that is different from being certifiable.) Anyway, now I'm looking for real jobs, in real churches. And because of the nature of the job search in my denomination, I find it prudent to stick with remaining more-or-less anonymous at this point, at the risk of someone on a pastoral search committee somewhere finding this blog and it influencing (positively or negatively) my chances of getting the job. This blog, after all, is only one part/one expression of who I am, not the full picture. Of course, anybody who does figure out who I am is really really smart and, um, I'm sure they wouldn't be influenced by a silly thing like a knitting blog!

Actually, I'd like to expand this blog to talk about knitting as a ministry (also not new, I know), and how my knitting and my ministry impact one another. I'm sure that will all happen in due course. For now, I just think it'll be fun to have a knitting blog.