29 January 2011

Like so many days in January, today is wet and grey. When I look out the window, I see a greyish-white sky, with no hint of blue. The wind is blowing, and it's raining occasionally. I hear people talking about the weather, about how depressing it is, how it weighs on them, how they miss the sunshine.

When I go for a walk in the rain, I don't mind the wetness. I don't mind the grey skies. When I lift my face to the sky and I feel the rain coming down, I feel hope well up in me. Yesterday, it was raining steadily as I walked home from the bus stop, and the wetness felt wonderful. It wasn't so cold that the rain was deeply chilling. Instead, it was invigorating.

Over the summer, it was all sunshine and scorching heat. No rain. Few clouds. I hid indoors when I could and despaired because it seemed as though autumn would never come. Heat drains me of energy, and bright sunlight makes me close my eyes to shield them. The combination is wrenching. I grow unhappy in the summer, and for some reason, it's harder to handle than on the days when the sky is grey. I miss the rain, and I hide in the shade of trees.

The first day at the end of the summer when the skies opened and it poured down rain, I went for a walk, lifting my face to the rain.

It felt like a benediction.

17 January 2011

The semester just started last week. I think several trees have died as a result of the photocopying I've already had to do (the prof I TA for always uses paper handouts, and I had to photocopy a 60 page article to put on reserve, plus it seems like there's always a new handout for class, even when we haven't finished the last one. I'm not complaining, mind, since the photocopier is usually my friend--except for the time last week when the server had crashed and I was trying to scan something). Given the reading schedules for my classes, plus all the marking and reading responses I'll be doing, I think I can definitely state that I will not be committing to anything more this semester than I'm already committed to.

Last Tuesday, I went to language philosophy class. When your professor walks in, and he's wearing a tweed jacket, he has sideburns, and he starts by reciting a Dylan Thomas poem, you just know it's going to be a good class. Sadly, tonight I've been bogged down in Lakoff's thing on objectivism, and an excerpt from Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I've read Kuhn before, and while I understand him better now, I still don't agree with all of what he says. Fortunately this time, I have more intelligent reasons for disagreeing with him. Last time it was because I was so sick of trying to wade through what he was saying. I'm not too keen on objectivism, either. After reading that I wanted to go back and hide in the excerpt from Confucius' Analects on language and names. I still really love the class. I just want to read all the fun stuff on how awesome language is, and not read the people who have drastically influenced linguistics with all their formal, true/false, dualistic, "we're objective" stuff. Which is important, certainly, but it can be boring. And language shouldn't be boring. Language is---well, when I have a better-formulated concept of what is, I'll get back to you---truly incredible.

In the meantime, I've been doing that thing where I start a lot of random projects because I'm feeling jumpy. I finished a double-knit hat and a pair of mitts this weekend, I'm closer to finishing a pair of stranded colourwork mittens, and I have one sock out of a pair finished. I also started a sweater. And I finished the first half of a pair of mitts for a friend. Yeah. I know. I'm probably a little nuts. And on that note, good night.

03 January 2011

Way back in July, I found a sweater at a thrift store. It was black and beautifully soft. And yet this sweater was not exactly pretty (baggy and dowdy with buttons that didn't match the fabric). I brought it home and carefully unraveled it, deciding that it would be the sweater to match the very cool steampunk buttons I'd bought in April. So I swatched and I cast on, and then the heat wave hit. Did I mention that the sweater was a blend of wool, nylon, and angora? I set it aside until the weather cooled down.

Then, what with one thing and another, such as work, and school, and other projects, the sweater grew in fits and starts. Finally I said, "I'm getting this thing done by December 23rd (the day we were leaving to visit family)." And I did. The sleeves suddenly turned out to be not so hard to knit, and the last bit--attaching the sleeves and working the raglan decreases, went quickly. Several days before the 23rd, I bound off the last stitch and wove in the last ends. Then I blocked and jumped impatiently up and down while waiting for it to dry, and sewed on the buttons.

It is soft and warm and comfortable, and I like it very much. It's a sweater that makes you want to pet it, because it's made out of bunny hair. And I love the buttons, although they are a tad large for the button band.

After that, it was time to pack for our bus journey north. I thought very carefully about the projects to take along. We were leaving on the 23rd and returning on the 29th; we would be gone for less than a week. In the end, I packed J's scarf (which I finished on the 2nd and when I have a decent picture, I will put one up) and the beginnings of a second sock. Then, almost as an afterthought, I added the yarn for a pattern I've been meaning to do for quite some time. I printed out the instructions and the errata, highlighted all the rows which contained errata, and put them in my backpack.

That night, on the bus, I pulled out a crochet hook and started chaining.

I actually started this whole crazy yarn thing with trying to crochet. I was doing what I thought was single crochet and actually turned out to be slip stitch. Then I learned how to knit and I dropped the crochet hook.

One day, I checked out Wrap Style from the library. This is a book of mostly knitted patterns, with variations on what a wrap is. A little crocheted shawl, Chanson En Crochet, caught my eye and I lamented the fact that it wasn't knit, because I was hopeless at crochet.

What with one thing and another, I left things there until last January, when I finally figured out what I was doing wrong with crochet. I made a few dishcloths, picked up the yarn for the shawl when some stuff I liked was on sale this summer, and then the yarn sat in my stash.

No longer. (Actually, there's still some in the stash...a ball and a half....because the pattern lied about the yardage requirements). A few days before we left my in-laws' home, I had this:

I can crochet. But I'm not going to be trading in my needles for hooks. I can crochet, and it's an interesting exercise because it's so different, but it just doesn't feel as intuitive as knitting does. A lot of crochet patterns just don't appeal to me (not to knock crochet, since a lot of knitted patterns just don't appeal to me either; I've just found more knitted patterns that I like than crocheted ones). And knitting feels more versatile, in some ways. But I need no longer fear the crochet when I find a pattern that I like. Next on the list for crochet is broomstick crochet, since that just looks cool.

I'm learning to be as fearless with other crafts as I've been with knitting. This is a good thing (the whole fearlessness quest is a longer story than I really want to get into).

In the days following the completion of the shawl, I have finished J's Space Invaders scarf and a pair of slippers for someone at church, and gotten to the gusset on the socks I want to finish. There's one mitten left out of a pair to complete, and then I'm pulling two projects out of hiatus. A lace shawl and a pair of stranded mittens that I started last winter. I may start a sweater, too, but we'll see. I have to knit at least a few rounds on the shawl first. I really ought to finish what I've started, especially since I still like the patterns.