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.