Friday, June 30, 2006

Saved By Knitting

Lately I have been increasingly frustrated with the speed of my lovely laptop. Is it this Blogger program? It's so slow, and since I've been playing with it , I've had all kinds of waits. I don't know. It could be an associative relationship.
So I grabbed my little childhood sweater and started piecing while I waited. Ta DA! No more frustration. One of the great things about this pattern is the placement of snaps instead of buttons. This allows the little person to do up her own jacket and be so proud. It also enables me to use the carelessly impractical buttons that I couldn't resist buying against all motherhood sense. No child would ever get those through a button hole. And so - no button holes. Win, win.
Sewing and embroidery are probably what I learned first at age five or six (?) and I'm comfortable with hand work. Since I read Sally Melville's Knit Stitch, my seams have been nicer and consequently more enjoyable.
I'm still enjoying Clapotis, but I'm going to take a quick break to whip up a few baby bonnets for underpriveleged babies in Californina. Stephanie will send me the detail, but a friend of hers is trying to promote breastfeeding and newborn health in California. One of my favorite things! I love newborn babies, and that's probably what I miss most about working in a hospital is handling the wee people. Sigh. I had my own babies and stayed home to be with them.
Yesterday it was official, my 13 year old daughter is taller than me. My son is over 6 feet tall and taller than his dad. I was the baby in the family. For years I was the littlest. Then I outgrew my mom and all but 1 sister. Now I'm the little one again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

That's Not My Weather

It's very hot. I have always lived in a moderate climate. Every month we have a day or tow that could be called November. But climate change means you get someone else's weather. We have hot and dry. That's not my weather. This rainforest is what I choose. Mild and wet. Oh well. I have nurtured shade. There is always a place in my garden that is out of the heat. As the sun travels over our backyard in its shallow arc to the the south, I can hide in different leafy spots.
Clapotis is 4 dropped stitch patterns along. It's still fun. Knitting is for evenings when we go into the basement and watch videos. My daughter has wanted me to watch with her. I try to introduce her to good movies. She tries to feed me fluff. It depends on how involved the knitting is, whether I can stand them. I walked her to scholl this morning for the last time in Grade 7.
My son bought a cool bike yesterday. It was expensive, but he doesn't spend a lot of money and I want him active this summer. This is the first year since he was 5 that he's not on a soccer team. Maybe he'll spend his 15-year-0ld summer ranging oabout and exploring as I did on my horse. He could use a dose of independence and time with his buddies.
When they return thismorning with their report cards and year books, the summer will officially begin and this solitude will be elusive and endangered. I will have to cheat to find time to write. I may have to occupy a coffee shop. One with shade.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Music to My Eyes

My flute instructor loved her scarf. It's so her - all sparkly and bright.
Our recital was "quaint". That's code for a bit painful. In that hot little room of the Heritage house we call the Music Academy, our flutes were not sounding good. Stuffy and sharp.
The other students are little kids 8-10 years old and one teenage girl. How they can keep going with very little, airy sound, I don't know. My own playing was not strong. I've played that Shubert waltz better.
But I wanted to support her and work on a piece to polish it. I do much better playing at church with the big space and good acoustics. I'm preparing "Simple Gifts" for July, but we're calling it Lord of the Dance. My ear is much better than my playing right now. I like to work on scales and stuff, though, so I hope to get a little ways this summer. These are the first flute lessons I've taken for 20 years, and I improved quite a bit on my own. But I don't want to be on my own. I want to join the Community Band, and then maybe the Chilliwack Symphony. I don't know. I just want to make music with others. I'd like to be in the company of those who appreciate my instrument and my playing.
It's not like knitting. When you're done, you don't have a garment or an object. You're just done. Sometimes you feel great for a while, and it's nice to share that. Sometimes, like lastnight, you're just done, and you know where you have to work. But I'm not in a hurry. I'm a process musician. I'm usually a process knitter, too.
Next week skating starts up again, so I think I'll get the wool for my poncho project to work on in the rink while my daughter skates. It's the magic of making that keeps us in there.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We Have Ladders

I was so comforted to have time lastnight to sit and knit a bit. Eventhough my computer was all clogged up and slow, I managed to get The Age of Innocence on my ipod to knit in the shade a little in the afternoon. After the Youth Group dance (phew! energy!), I hidey-holed in the TV room in the cool of the basement and watched Upstairs Downstairs. That's more my speed.
I love borrowing DVDs and audio books from the library. I am still working out the kinks with the internet borrowing of audio books. I think they can now be heard through itunes, but not by me just yet.
So I made it to the first two ladders. Not quite the adventure of steeking, still dropping stitches on purpose does require the fortification of a glass of wine. This kid-silk does cling a bit, but just enough to not rip down so quickly I jump to catch it. Yummy. Like broomstick lace a little, don't you think?
This week will be quieter, I hope. But I always say that.
Off to practice my flute for a little recital tonight. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of the scarf I made my teacher.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sudden Abundance

Suddenly it's summer. The deluges of rain have soaked in the flower beds are inexplicably dry. Good thing I plant for stability and endurance. My roses are bursting out all over.
D's family gathered in WhiteRock for good food and good company, yesterday. I made salad rolls and sushi squares. Very adventurous cuisine for me. But when I'm not cooking supper, I can afford the time to learn something new. There were babies and recent weddings and babies on the way. D is the oldest grandchild and the cousins are all fun to visit with. My son is the eldest great grandchild and towers over his great-uncle and most cousins. He passed Uncle Don when he was 11.
Today is Sunday. I could continue my internet research and answer my questions. I could research candidates for the skating club. I could walk the dog in the mid-day sun. I could return a list of phonecalls.
But I am going to listen to Brenda Dayne read Age of Innocence and try to capture a ray of beauty in my Clapotis. If it was a gift for someone else, I'd be all over it. But I want to have pictures of dropped stitches (in a good way) for tomorrow. Knitting for the day of rest.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

D got a new lawnmower. A baby tractor. This is a beautiful thing to him. To me, lawn is something to frame flower beds. My job is to steal a bit of turf every year for more roses. I thought the goal was to get out of mowing. But apparently it can be a hobby. It was his dad, a great mower of large farm lawns who bestowed this awe-inspiring gift on the eldest son. I cannot fathom the attraction.
But Carly, my 90 lb black lab cross is all sleek black beauty, like a selkie, a mythic shape-shifting seal, she has a magic about her. She came to us from the SPCA when the forest fires were burning out of control in Kelowna and Kamloops. She is my fitness buddy. We walk 5km almost every day. Even this week when I don't have time to go to the gym, when I'm clogged with volunteer administrative duties, the kids are writing exams at odd times and my husband has a birthday party.
We gathered lastnight with cake and coffee to celebrate his birth. He is well favoured and we had a good family visit with both our parents. I met him in 1978 when I was in Grade 10. We went out all through highschool and then again at the end of my Nursing School. Our farms were next door to each other.
Maybe that's why he has the urge to harvest the grass crop on a regular basis. We don't water the lawn because we're a bit snobbish about the environmental measures we have adopted. We grew up with David Suzuki and the Nature of Things and believe he has the right vision. My kids walk to school.
David Suzuki is listed on the iknit knit a river site. Yay! We have a little salmon river in our back yard and it is cold and clear and so beautiful.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Picking Up the Pieces

This is Childhood from knitty. I have made it once already, of stash yarn, for my baker's baby. This one is for "Race Car" whom we'll be staying with this summer. What really makes it special- not just the great pattern, the Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, and the yummy rhododendron colors- is the matching June bug that I'll be making from Jess Hutchinson's Unusual Toys For You to Knit andEnjoy.
This book was in my stocking and I fell in love with the soft robot. That went to a little Peaches for his second birthday. I made it out of my softest merino left overs. Knitting it was simple, but piecing is tricky to get the attitude you envision.
One of the young skaters at the rink laughed as I was knitting this sweater because it's exactly the same shade of pink as my knitting bag, and it looked to her as if I was unravelling my bag to knit the sweater.
I don't really like sitting at the figureskating lessons except I have good friends and I get to knit. My daughter is on a short break now before Summer Skating (a strong oxymoron) and then I'll start a new special project that I am not really designing but adapting.
I feel as if I have to produce a few projects in a hurry to deserve more wool. I usually only have one project on the needles, but I have a year long project that I tackle monthly and I had to meet a birthday deadline (with three weeks to spare so I can admire Kiri at my leisure).
I managed to get some gentle knitting in lastnight on Clapotis while I listened to Ideas on a CBC podcast. I was trying to settle my mind after a skating club meeting that was predictably overwhelming. I don't care about skating. It is my daughter's passion, and I will support the club and the great people in it. But I refuse to sell my soul to the program. Give me poetry and music and I'm in. I have a history of getting in too deep with volunteering and bugging out (once already in this club) when my health fails. So now I have to be my own mother and tell the nice people that Angie would be happy to help them after she finishes what's on her plate.
I feel as if I have so many pieces floating around in skating, pipeband (not as much as when I was playing drums), Sunday School and of course my course.
Today I will be able to dive into some research for next week's homework, prepare a birthday cake for D and his family coming over tonight and set up my next knitting project - after the June bug and the Clapotis and the other things I wanted to do first when I bought them.
I enjoyed my walk, and I will sit quietly to knit together the pieces of my mind.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Relentless Persuit of Beauty

Maybe that's why we knit. We are searching for the beautiful, surrounding ourselves in sensory stimulating colour and texture.
I did not knit today. I did not read or write. I did not make music. I didn't do my homework. I walked my 5km with my big black lab. I did the crossword puzzle. I ran around doing errands that may have been able to wait but were niggling at my mind. I walked in my rose garden.
I tried to create some order in this transitional week. That in itself can be a bit of beauty.
I also listened to Knitwit podcast. Carry is very sincere and tells a good story. That was my disengagement while I walked. I worry that I should have only music or silence while I am spending my victory hour with myself. But I yearn for a connection with others who share my passions. Listening to another knitter, or writer gives me the seed of community.
This blog is another step toward joining the on-line community of knitters who have encouraged me and made me laugh at myself, challenged me and left me in the dust over the last few years.
Is it wrong to be a lurker? I wonder if it's just a bit too voyueristic after this many months of addiction to the Yarn Harlot and Dogs Steal Yarn. If I am not a contributer, do I get to share in the joy of her perfect baby?
Maybe it was the nifty ipod. Thank-you Todd Mafin for explaining it all so clearly on CBC Radio. Maybe it was the sweet tiny camera I was given for Mothers' Day. I am so very inspired by the pictures on January One. (I will learn to put in links, but not at 11:00pm).
The signs have been leading me to this form of journalling. I have kept a journal off and on since I was about 10 years old and read Harriet the Spy. There was no lesson to learn in that book except that writing is breathing.
This is a new form of breathing. I am getting good oxygen from the web.
So now, eventhough it is too late, I will pick up my sticks, listen to Yoyo Mah's cello suites and settle my thoughts from my just concluded long meeting. Perhaps then I shall dream of beauty.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dream Knitting

I'm making my very own Clapotis. This is the first pattern I drooled over when I discovered about 2 1/2 years ago. I love the idea of careless elegance.
I guess it's a matter of opposites attract. I'm a big farm girl who was not out of place in the Reserve Forces Medical Corps. I always played with the boys because my next oldest sister (only 18 months between us) was a real tomboy. Her nickname was Moose. I had to let my ballerina dreams lie dormant or get a punch in the arm.
Now I'm over 40, I can dream generously and recklessly.
So I bought some beautiful Fleece Artist Hand Dyed Kid/Silk 2 Ply at Knitopia in White Rock. It took me over two years to get to that store. But it was worth the wait. My daughter had a figure skating competition in South Surrey and I insisted we stop afterward.
What dreamy ocean colors, soft hand and easy to slide yarn. Thank-you Nova Scotia, and I hope one day (another dream) to visit you.
The nice lady at the shop (Pat?) knew what I was talking about. My mom is a knitter of old Patons baby clothes and the the ocassional sweater, but her mouth was open as we discussed lace and knitty and clapotis. Our guide said she had knit FIVE Clapotis! My new best friend (Pat?). She helped me choose the perfect soft wool and enjoyed my victory with me.
That was only in May, and I'm already beginning. I'll be taking it with me to Vancouver today. That's my Lantern Moon knitting bag I bought last year at Urban Yarns at the gates of UBC. I love knitting on the #1 Trans Canada Highway. My husband gets car sick so he always drives. Maybe that's why I married him. D is 44 today. Happy Birthday. We're going into the city to have dinner with a classmate from vet school who's doing a course here.
I'm happy to have some time with him after a few busy weekends and before a few more busy weekends.
The kids can walk home from school and let themselves in. Can they behave appropriately for that long? My mom is just down the street and we have the best neighbours. And I have a cell phone. This is new freedom. Their dreams coming true. At 15 and 13, it is time to begin.
So can I contain myself until I reach the rows which drop stitches?! I hope the fuzziness isn't too much of a hindrance. Either way, this is my firts Clapotis. I'm allowed to make mistakes. No one will get hurt. Knitting dreams are soft and safe.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ritual Endings

Tomorrow is the last day of middle school classes for my two kids. Every year, before the great egress, my friend and I go on a road trip. We want to go every week, every month, every season. But with our "sherpa" duties, we don't have that kind of opportunity.
Today it was Langley, about 60 minutes west, toward Vancouver.
We only made it to Starbucks and Winners. That's 5 hours of bargain shopping in only one store. She's a brilliant shopper and spender. I try to stretch my Canadian Tire dollars to buy a handbag or shoes- at least they'll fit. I found some wonderful *pink* Dr.Scholl's sandals, just like my big sisters used to wear. The rule now is I can only buy it if I can't live without it. I also bought some Christmas presents. I know. I have a sickness. But the bargoons!
The kids still have one day of school left. But the drum kit arrived today. D. bought it on ebay. I was worried. It arrived unassembled. I was worried. We have many skills and talents but handy-man is not in the inventory. It's lucky I let my son bring his friend over. 14 years old, just over 4 feet tall, and he just swoops in, taking things off, puts things upside down and KABOOM - a drum set. And kaboom,boom,boom.
We have learned in our house to never wait for quiet for your turn to practice. It's good to be able to play the piano while your dad is playing bagpipes, or to play flute while the trumpets and trombone are practicing. Good for focus.
I didn't manage to mail my "knit a river" squares, so I'll share them with you in the hopes that you'll make one too. Or two too.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Secret Beginning

I'm so excited about this little secret. I have a blog. Like an amulet against my breast, my mind returns to it and I am bouyed up. I am not good at secrets. But I am encouraged by Grumperina. How can those who know her not know about her blog as do we who love her?
So this is my new game. I think the words "post published" really sent my heart racing. I have had a few poems published, but my novel is unfinished and the word Published is very enticing.
I listen to Mur Lafferty on "You Should Be Writing" podcast. But it's harder when I'm taking courses, because I know my writing time is spent doing reports.
This morning, after my husband opened his Fathers Day presents - Austin Powers videos- I let loose the Kiri shawl.
This really makes me happy. This is why I knit. The planning, the collecting of materials, the dreaming as I knit are all powerful to me. But the ocassional great success is magic.
Some might say that I am easily amused. But there is nothing simple about lace. Even Kiri, a simplified version of Birch, has a rhythm and intricacy that captures the creative part of your mind and settles it into a task that can gather other ideas, like a net. The softness of the Rowan Kid Silk Haze, and the gentle movement of the wooden circular needle entice you into quiet thought and slow breathing like an erstwhile meditation.
And then you run around with the finished product with your heart tripping and your breath escaping in laughs. This is worth my time and energy.
Not to mention it's a gift. I can hardly wait to see the face of my sister, who will wear the shawl when she speaks to large crowds of people. I will be at her side, through the shawl, as she was when I was very young.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

tricked again

I was just trying to encourage Lara at Math4knitters and the next thing I know, I'm signing up for a blog. It really wasn't painful. I've been following them since I found Life's Stitch a couple of years ago.
Have they ever helped me become more adventurous in my knitting and feel more connected from my lonely rural knitting chair. I have surfed for knitting shops in several cities and even ordered wool over the net.
Right now I have a black Kiri blocking on the livingroom floor. My big sister is turning 50 next month and I wanted to make her something special. She's not a non-knitter, but she hasn't knit for years. She's one of the people who tried to teach me to knit. They all failed. And she's the reason I think it's normal to knit in the summer. When I was little, she knit on the porch in a bikini. I have pictures.
I read blogs and enjoy podcasts. No I won't be so easily tricked into one of those.
Next to me are my two new marvelous mitered squares which are soon on their way from Sardis, BC, Canada to London. How exciting. "Wish I Had a River". Did you sing Joanie Mitchell as you knit yours?
I was supposed to be in London this summer, too. But we couldn't get enough piper for a band. Long story.
Hope to meet some of those amazing knitters through this format.