Cummington has spawned another true believer. Most milestones in one's life are approached lacking the critical information to survive them comfortably. The cult of Cummington's success lies in the provision of appropriate talismans, the gentle teaching of their use, the immediate availability of the materials needed to use them, and the celebratory meal after the rites. It is an effective recipe.
Spindle choice was easy. JourneyWheel had a compelling selection of well-balanced tools in seductive woods. Sheila Bosworth starts the brainwashing with a brief demonstration of spinning with the drop spindle.
You might notice that the picture has TWO spindles. She is so effective, that my DH was caught in the backwash and had to have one also. Mine is the on the left (a midi), his is on the right (a maxi). How do you argue with a husband who says, "If I get bored with it, you can have it."
Claudia is direct and succinct. "Here", she said, pointing at two chairs behind us. Two chairs? At a sheep festival fairground? Right behind us? Wow. Fate. She is a superb teacher. I got it.
She claims to not be a cook. But the obscenely delicious, prurient sheepy tart belied that notion. Risa and Claudia both kept me on track with appropriate roving choices. Isn't it easy, how $5 here, $7 there, and suddenly you have a volume of roving in your unsuspecting life, large enough to stuff a mattress. I exaggerate only a little. Claudia, masquerading as teacher, and morphing into a pusherenabler resource in fiber selection, took me to see Ken, of Dorchester Farms. She introduced me to different crack fiber sources. Shorter fiber lengths were considered possible, based on my recent experiences, and that is how angora/cashmere (on the left), and merino (on the right) came home with me.
And let's not even talk about the alpaca:
One more. This will be my graduation exam of fiber to scarf. The woman at the Fantom Farms booth was helping me mainline select this:
The intriguing thing about the experience is that, yes, I bought yarn. I have new sock yarn from Spirit Trails. and a beautiful dyed handspun worsted. But, for some reason known only to the cosmos, I can't get the pictures to show the colors with any fidelity whatsoever.
All you spinners are laughing. Yeah. We will get back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
Let me just close with this: There is nothing worse than a certain spinner/knitter in New York, who, at this VERY moment, is chortling, rubbing her hands together in glee, and feeling very satisfied with herself.
He watched the Eleanor, Jonathan, and Yumi scarves take shape. The idea of making a pattern out of the Barbara Walker Stitch Treasury intrigued him. The Etherknitter became even more clever in his eyes.
His cashmere came. The DH was INTERESTED in yarn arriving at this house. I handed him the Treasury, aimed him at open-work patterns, and tried to stay quiet. It was difficult. He was such a GUY about it. The first choice:
was nixed because of the unfortunate name. I think that since the caption is not typed in, I will avoid a whole new demographic of Google hits.
He dithered between Brioche stitch and the flame pattern. He asked me questions about them that were the manly equivalent of "Does this make me look fat?". A few grunts followed. "Anything's fine." (I've been married awhile: that means indecision.)
Then he said, "Ask your blog readers".
Okay, knitters. It's a given that I can't guarantee he'll do what you say. But he gots to know. This:
The yarn is this:
Tomorrow, in our continuing deluge, comes my reward. I am weight-bearing on two crutches in a funky postop shoe. But I'll still win in a race to the spindle vendors at Cummington. Cassie put out an APB to the regional spinners for my capture and offered a reward. Does this mean I have to put on lipstick? Everyone will be looking at me.
No matter. They will have to recognize me under the bags and bags and bags of wool that will be slung over my body.
Juno's comment on Monday poked a few brain cells into action. She wrote:
"Superstition - sometimes I just think it is human beings afraid their
happiness will be taken away from them. We don't want to attract the
malignant eye of Fate in case she wants to punish us for enjoying
Is there some force at work beyond our control that has the ability to bestow and to steal? It is remarkable how through human history, that belief has governed our spiritual and practical lives. You don't even have to cite recorded history. Artifacts tell their own tales. Museums have artifacts going back thousands of years that speak to our trying to placate, invoke, create, change what happens to us. Religion. Sorcery. Magic. Myths. It is something that is so strong, so constant, that it must be hard-wired into our neurons.
When you look back at how our brains are evolving, you recognize constant forward change. (The Boston Globe published an article reviewing a book, Everything Bad is Good for You. It is about how computer gaming and pop culture have changed our brain evolution in line with what is now needed to function in our increasingly technologic world. The author certainly makes sweeping generalizations on circumstantial evidence, but it IS a provocative theory.)
We strive to make sense of what happens to us and around us. Some day, way way way in the future, we will be able to look back and laugh at the dead ends we took. Will western religion be one of those dead ends? How about astrology? Maybe the path to explaining and controlling everything really resides in learning to understand the concepts of flow, as expressed in meditation, spinning and knitting. Time will tell.
I do know that we, as people, are way more sophisticated than prior generations. "Way-ll, liddle lady, howz about a beer a'fore yore pappy gets wind 'a my bein' here?" That was probably the height of sophisticated pick-up lines about 150 years ago. Or, how about a line from my dating life, oh so many years ago: "I'll tell you what. If you don't like it, I'll take it right out." On second thought, maybe that DOESN'T illustrate much progress.
And speaking of progress, the Etherknitter has made some, but not enough, on Marla. What optimist thought she would be at the decreases by today? Heh. She is 4 1/2" from the 19" needed to start serious shoulder shaping.
Noah would recognize our current weather conditions. I need to knit until I reach a standard cubit. Because I have no garden bloom to offer, there will be plenty of time to float Marla.
1. A formal act or set of acts performed as prescribed by ritual or custom: a wedding ceremony; the Japanese tea ceremony.
The first entry in www.dictionary.com speaks to why I celebrate spring by bringing Hotei out of the garage each year. (Concrete doesn't last through New England winters. It spalls.) When I bought him, just after my mother died several years ago, I made the classic gaijin mistake, confusing him with the Buddha. No matter. He sends me on my way each morning with a smile, and welcomes me home, still smiling. It is said, " if a person is to rub his belly, it brings forth
wealth, good luck, and prosperity. He is often admired for his happiness, plenitude, and supposedly wisdom of contentment." I can't think of a better garden icon.
The DH and I toast his coming-out party with a glass of good white wine. White wine celebrates the return of warmer temperatures. (I did think of Lorette this year, and made sure my husband carried my glass.) We observed this ceremony yesterday, under glowering skies.
I think New England is taking its toll. The only thing that cheered me up today was the arrival of my next batch of cashmere. Spendthrift, you say? No. Juno sent me a great eBay link. You owe it to yourself to check this one out. Both she and I have ordered. The guy is great. We emailed back and forth for three days over one of the color/weight combinations, and I bought it ALL. This cashmere will only bloom after the first wash.
I'm looking for the wisdom of contentment today. So far, the only place I've found it is in my knitting, and in Juno's excellent post. Marla's back is 2/3 done. I'll wait til Wednesday when I'm well into the decreases for the photo shoot.
The world can be divided into those who are superstitious, and those who are not. The world can also be divided into those who oversimplify, and those who do not. Cut me some literary slack here for a moment, okay?
I wasn't superstitious until I started practicing medicine. If I say to the charge nurse, "Gee, I haven't seen a patient with neck trauma, belly trauma, orthopedic, and head trauma from a car accident in a few weeks", guess what rolls off the elevator within the next two hours? And then, six hours later, if the gods are really laughing, it happens again. It would be better for the human race for me to just SHUT UP.
It also applies to bringing the newspaper in on Sunday calls. Have the Sunday Globe under your arm, and I can guarantee you that I won't get the opportunity to sit down for 24 hours. If I don't bring the paper? I'm bored with the slowest day all month, and forced to read the shards of everyone else's cast-off Globe. That's usually the Wal-Mart ad, the Circuit City flyer, and other equally unengaging clutter.
I was thinking about this as I ripped my second Pineneedle sock for the second time, and cast on for the third time. Every project I do on dpns needs to be cast-on three times before it is a keeper. Can you guess my internal dialogue? Yes. I was congratulating myself on succeeding this time on the second cast-on. Then I couldn't figure out why the stitch count wasn't right. I recounted. That was fine. I looked at the pattern. Sumbitch. I was knitting K2P2. The pattern is written K1P1. Third time really is a charm. I'm at the stockinette no-brainer part, FINALLY. "Oh, socks are easy!" rolls off my lying lips when women in my knit group voice apprehension about trying them. Yeah, socks ARE easy. It's the ribbing that'll kill you. Or maybe just sheer hubris.
I'll get some inches done before I pose the beauty for her glamour shot. The best picture yesterday was Halesia carolina, aka Carolina silverbell. It's a native New England tree. It grows in sun or semi-shade, is undemanding as to soil and water conditions, and will shyly peek out from her door once per year, then run back in to finish her sock knitting:
Life and the universe are predictable on a macro scale. The earth turns. The sun rises and sets. Death happens to everything. Even rocks die. (What do you think sand is? It's the dust that rocks become. It's simply on a vastly different timeline.) That makes the unpredictability of the micro scale hard to understand. Why is the weather so hard to predict? I wanted sun today so I could bolt outside and take pictures of what's in bloom. Nothing, not even Photoshop, substitutes for the color and shadow contrasts created by warming sunlight. A 30% chance of rain has become a 100% chance of clouds.
What new project strikes a knitter's fancy when something else becomes a finished object? That has proven impossible to predict. First, one last picture of the Yumi scarf. It was (and is) hard to let go:
Gifting is a delicate dance performed by two people. The gift - its nature, quality, connection to the other, and intent - is one pole. The recipient's understanding, fund of knowledge, gracefulness and connection make up the other pole. Yesterday, Yumi appeared to get it on all levels. Knitting is not the only thing that is all about relationships.
I am thrilled to be making progress with the Marla sweater. I think the three repeats shown here give you a better sense of what it is going to become:
I do need to escape from SSS and finish the MC Mountain Goat Pineneedle socks. I have a parasol baby blanket pattern that I would like to start (NO babies in sight, NO deadline knitting). The wool will be the ultrasoft merino worsted from Shelridge Farm, in Mango.
The DH has been remarkably quiet about his next sweater. I think I need more Marla progress first.
I was making conversation. In spousal unit terms, it was a verbal kick to engage his attention. I asked him a question that he couldn't answer. No knowledge base, right? What does he know about knitting, other than swifts are cool, and ball-winders can get you in a heck of a lot of trouble if you don't keep watching.
The question: Do I have enough yarn left for another repeat? His answer: "It's long enough. Now."
It wasn't the answer I expected. I had been SLOGGING all weekend. I didn't think I would finish by tomorrow (surgery-to-remove-hardware day, gifting day). My goals were simple:
1. Get beyond decorative length, into warmth territory, or 2. Finish the ball of yarn, or 3. Recognize that it is Monday, blocking day, and halt.
Whichever comes first. It was rather startling to look down, REALLY look down, SEE the scarf for the first time in several days, and say,
"Oh. You're right."
One more row, bind off in pattern, and it is done. Blocking is titchy. I think I killed the Eleanor scarf back in the fall by overstretching it with blocking pins. I have since learned my lesson(s) with alpaca. So the extended process by which the Etherknitter blocked today can be summarized like this:
Put crutches down. Lay scarf on blocking board. Smooth out ripples. (Hophophop) Reposition self to other side of table. (Hophop) Smooth out edges. Thread in blocking wires. Inspect. Pull out blocking wires because of distortion of the end. Hophophop to middle of board. (More than three hops means loss of balance. Ask me how I know. ) Moistened towels barely on top of scarf. Hophophop to other end of board again. Pin end. Hophophop (pause) hophophop for the photo shoot:
The teapot is from Ito-En in NYC. I fell in love with the harmony of the shape, the metal-sand color-texture and the zen of the handle echoing the pot shape.
Sometimes, the best gardening combinations are accidental. When we built the house, we left as many trees as possible untouched. The forest growth on the edge of the property, exposed to new sunlight, has done what it does. I love lace, both in my Yumi scarf, and in the backyard: