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February 15, 2006

Go Team Wales - Day Five

The view from here is pretty good.

The sock, a work in progress, as adorned by Hershey:
Hershey, who yearns to love the sock

This is the only shot in which he did not a) lick the sock, b) chew the needles, or c) grab the sock with a deadly-inaccurate claw. If it had been alpaca, y'all would be reading a somewhat expletive-heavy account of the official Knitting Olympics cat toy.

I had a couple of nice comments, which make me all blushed and squirmy-happy. To you I say, Thank you. I'm enjoying this a lot--and I'm not sure if I'm enjoying the knitting or the writing more. Even if the writing isn't getting done until oh-dark-thirty.

It's funny. The response of some of you to the thing about which I wrote yesterday seemed to be, "Um, yay for you, but what did you do?" (and the gentle, implied, "why bother, when most of us can't see it?"). I am actually a big admirer of "process as art", of seeing the fingerprints in the clay, the brushstrokes in the paint. But with knitting there's a difference between just doing it and doing it to the best of your ability. I'm not trying to make something that looks store-bought; rather, as a competent knitter attempting to strengthen my skills, I'm trying to make something that looks like a good knitter made it.

More important is the fact that I saw the error. (I'm so happy that I did!) If I had not seen the error, then had finished the sock, I'd go on my merry way and love them. If I'd seen the error, but didn't know how to repair it, I'd have done some research and done my best and chalked it up to experience. (There are actually four stitches along the line I mentioned that I had to leave that are like that; they were inaccessible to me, because they were in an awkward location that I didn't know how to recreate using this method.) But I did see the error, and I did know how to fix it. Therefore, I had to do so. To not do so would be to dishonor the process. (Far better to dishonor my need for sleep.)

I was visiting with some friends and I attempted to explain what I'm doing with this Knitting Olympics thing. "There's an Olympic sock?" one asked. "You're knitting a sock why?" wondered another. I began to wonder myself what it is that I'm doing here. Um, needles, yarn, pattern. A project. A way to keep busy? A variant on the crossword puzzle craze of the 1920's? Have I surrendered to utter vacuity and a sort of numb domesticity? When knitting a sock has become a challenge and an imaginative focus, have I lost my ability to carry on a conversation with the over-two set?

Friend A: "So, I was reading this article in Ethos yesterday..."
Me: "See? Sticks! Tiny sticks and wool. Did you know wool comes from sheep? But it isn't yellow like this--actually this is more of a yellow-orange-gold color."
Friend B: "Yeah, was that the one about motivation and authority?"
Me: "But, yeah, it's naturally more white. Or grey. Or brown. So I can make these pretty pattern things with the yarn. It goes around and around like this..."
Blank looks.
Me: "But, see, people have been doing this forever. Just like this."

This isn't about the sock. It's about a set of skills and a goal. It's about having a reason to make myself take time for myself when my purpose and reason for being from the moment I wake until the moment I've put him to bed is keeping my son healthy, fed, and read to. It's about an activity that requires extremely fine motor manipulation, focus on the small and finite, and reading of intricate, reference-here-while-doing-this-and-keeping-this-place instructions. These are all things that, until he is asleep and I make the time, are not part of my day.

I miss them.

For me, the Knitting Olympics have become a tool, or perhaps a metaphorical construction crew, building for me a small window into grace.

Please do not think I am whining. Not at all! In Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language he writes about the "Zen View":

[A view is] a beautiful thing. One wants to enjoy it and drink it in every day. But the more open it is, the more obvious, the more it shouts, the sooner it will fade. Gradually it will become part of the building, like the wallpaper; and the intensity of its beauty will no longer be accessible.... [M]ake a special corner of the room which looks onto the view, so that the enjoyment of the view becomes a definite act in its own right...

So knitting has become my zen view. And the Knitting Olympics have become my daily reminder to go look out the window, and be glad. Because as beautiful as the view is, one of its best benefits is that when I turn around again, I'm so glad to be home.

Posted by Karen at February 15, 2006 12:48 AM


Love the sock; the lace is beautiful...very impressive. The idea of bamboo dpns is very alluring; I might attempt some knitting in the round, after the olympics. I ordered some circular aldis for the shawl, but they look like surgical instruments...very off-putting.

Posted by: Mary Jo at February 15, 2006 04:40 AM

Well said. I find myself in awe of your knitting abilities, in part because it's a progressive creative act. Most of my day is spent building up or breaking down or rearranging things: facts, electrons, words, algorithms. I'd love to be able to really Make something, to take it from a raw gift (sheep hair!) and turn it into something functional, beautiful, and real.

For now, I'll sit and admire the Zen view with you. :)

Posted by: Chris at February 15, 2006 10:50 AM

Me: "See? Sheep! Want to feed one? Look they are white and tan and black and chocolate and I really don't know what to call that one. Soon, we will shear the wool and it will end up on KK's tiny sticks and she will be happy!" :)

Posted by: deb at February 15, 2006 09:03 PM

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