Friday, January 23, 2009

Going in Deep

It's been a rough week. Several people at my company were laid off this week. Some had been with the company for a long time. I work in the TechPubs department, with five others, and three of us were laid off. I'm very grateful that I wasn't one of them, but very sad to see my coworkers struggle with this unexpected shock and its inevitable repercussions.

One nice thing this week was that Jim has a house to work on. We don't know if there are more in the immediate future, but for now, this one job is good enough. That's all you can do really. Is take it one day, one job at a time.

That's what I've learned recently. To exist in the now, to live just this day. It came to a point with a single profound thought.

We'd been watching Lord of the Rings last weekend and I got to thinking about what really happens to us after we die. We humans tell ourselves a lot of comforting stories, but what logically makes sense? And I thought "What if it's just nothing?"

That's a scary idea at first. I'm sure many people would rather not think about it, I know I didn't want to. But I stuck with it. What if, after I die, I entirely don't exist any more? No suffering, but no pleasure either. I think it's the thought of no love that scares me most, no loving God, or light or presence. But I wouldn't care, because.. well.. nothing can't care.

Then I realized, if there is nothing (and it seems that this makes the most sense) then it means that every little thing I do while I'm alive is just that much more important. Every act is a one time opportunity. Every sensation is a treasure. I felt a renewed appreciation for my life. And yet, could all the stories be wrong? There are some very smart people holding some very strong beliefs that life after death is a fact.

I read a children's book this week called Holes. It is an excellent book that made a very good point about belief. In it, the narrator describes a highly poisonous lizard that can kill a person with just one bite. And he says:

"A lot of people don't believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn't make a difference whether you believe in it or not."

It's the same for life after death. If it exists, whether I believe in it or not, it will still be there. Presumably I will get to enjoy it because I'm a good person striving to be better. At least that's what most of the stories agree on. If it doesn't exist, and I live my life with the idea that there is nothing more than this life, then I will strive to appreciate and do well with every moment I have. It's really a win-win situation.

So now I'm not scared that there might be nothing after death. I've explored the worst and it wasn't so bad. Plus, I've still got hope that there's something better.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How do I love thee? Let me Knit Socks.

For my dear husband, who is going through a rough patch, I knit alpaca blend socks in vacation souvenir yarn. Jim has been feeling slightly ill for a few months now. He has been undergoing tests for several months, but so far, all the doctors could find was a vitamin B deficiency. One of his symptoms is numb and cold feet.

Also, when he went back to work on after the Christmas break, he found out that there was only one more job to do and no work in sight. Jim is a sider (he installs siding on houses) and between the economy and the weather there are no new housing starts. Given his health situation and the bitter cold we've been experiencing, I'm actually glad. But it does put a kibosh on the great, get-out-of-debt resolution of 2009.

For my lovely mother-in-law, who will be celebrating her 85th birthday in February, I'm knitting some socks to specification, using Online purchased on sale.

While she loved the lace socks I gave her for Christmas, I knit them too loose and they won't stay up! Drat. Of course she's keeping them, but she requested a pair of fancy yarn ones for her birthday. I was actually bummed because I've been hankering to knit some fancy lace or two-color socks. My mother-in-law is a knitter, and one of the ways I show my love for her is to knit her really special socks. But I guess the most special socks are the ones that are knit exactly as you asked for them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Found Luke's homework on the computer tonight after the kids had gone to bed. (Spelling corrected for readability.)

My house, like all others, is seemingly normal on the outside. And it is what a surprise. Anyways I'll tell you about it room by room. The living room - hell with it what's in the rooms is more important. Anyways the living room isn't really much it has the main TV but usually its my parents watching it, not me. The kitchen performs exactly what its supposed to and is linked to the dining room (well actually more like area). But the biggest thing is the men's den. The place where I enjoy my video games. In it we have a Wii, a PS2 (often occupied due to the release of Persona4) and a computer. I'm usually on the computer, what I'm doing on it is hard to predict, easy to find out. It can be anything from Shin Megami tensei -imagine, to Team Fortress 2, to reading fan fictions. While I'm on the topic of my house I might as well mention my family. My mom is very responsible and, like everyone else in my house, a little weird. She likes things to be clean, but doesn't go so far as enjoying cleaning.

Can't hide the truth!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Breath of June, in January

The Bee Fields shawl had a slow finish because I was ensnared by a can't-put-down book. But as with all lace, it was well worth the wait because the results were just as thrilling as the tale that captured me.

It's like the leaves are back on the bush with this springy, fresh shawl draped over the bare branches.

I've nothing extraordinary to report about this knit. I bought the kit, knit the pattern as directed and ended up with a shawl that looks pretty much the same as the original. It was fun, the results are great, but somehow its not as satisfying as some of my other, more creative projects.

Two issues. One, I made a lot of mistakes that I just fudged over. I believe you can get away with this in lace knitting because the eye sees the whole pattern, not one small part of it. In two-color knitting, it's much harder to fudge this way because the eye is immediately captured by the small error. At least we have duplicate stitch in that circumstance.

Second issue. I find it hard to use blocking wires. I was terribly excited to start using blocking wires, thinking it would simplify the process, but I find them annoying. Once you've threaded one wire in, threading in the next one becomes awkward. At least the way I do it, which is in my lap. If I lay it out on the floor I tend to have the lace slip off the wire. And the shawl is damp and cold in my lap as I try to thread it on the wires. This shawl had a long top that required two wires to span it. I got frustrated and just used pins at the bottom.

I believe in a firm blocking to open up the lace to the maximum. I've seen some pictures on Ravelry where I think the lace wasn't blocked severely and I don't think it does the knitting justice. Well, I block tightly enough that the wires were bending in the middle. I had to support them with pins. Is that typical? I'm wondering if I blocked too tightly. The stitch pattern for this shawl puckered quite a bit in the pre-blocking, and I wanted it to be flat.

I knit the tall size, since I'm 5'9", but the pattern called for a 3.75mm needle and I went down to a 3.5mm, so my finished shawl isn't quite as big. It' will still make a lovely little summer wrap for me, but not a cozy winter one.

The kit came with a generous three skeins of yarn and I used only two. I have a pretty good idea what's going to happen to that third skein.

Oh, and the book? It was The Power of One, lent to me by a co-worker. It's a very dramatic and powerfully written book. It started off stronger than it finished, but by the time I was half way through, I just had to know what happens to the main character. It was a great escape!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Loading the Queue, Bucking the Trend

While many knit bloggers lament the number of projects they have on the needles, I'm actually trying to cast on several right now. I've found that when I'm really busy with work, it can be hard to start a new project. I get overwhelmed and end up impulsively casting on a rash choice. Or I slog away at a boring project that I don't love. So, while I'm still fresh from the holidays, I'm loading my queue with a variety of projects to suit whatever mood I happen to be in.

Here's where my needles stand poised:
  1. I have the final 5 bees to knit on the Bee Fields shawl. That's a great yarn, a pattern I know, and just a short dash left to the finish before the magic of lace blocking.
  2. A Noro ribbed scarf. For me. I'm thinking that this will liven up my black fall and spring jacket. The colors are 205, and 244.

  3. A vest for Jim. The yarn is Fleece artist and once I picked it up, I could not place it back down. These are huge 250g skeins each containing 425meters. The label says it is Special Leba, a blend of 65% kid, 20% wool and 15% nylon. That's a good blend for socks, but I think I'd rather put these colors on more prominent display.

  4. I've ordered sweater quantities of yarn for both my parents from Elann. My Mom is getting Peruvian Highland Donegal in Deep Lavender for the Susie Hoodie. Dad is getting Peruvian Highland Wool in Deep Twilight for a pullover with a twisted stitch front. I knit them both something small for Christmas in anticipation of knitting them something big afterwards, when I have more time. They helped pick the pattern and they yarn colors. The other bonus is that since it's not a surprise, I'll be able to get them to try it on for best fit.
This list is rounded out by simple knits like socks and and a garter stitch scarf. So, anyone else loading up their needles with knits for winter? It looks to be a long cold January and February.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Old Year, New Year

Well Happy New Year to everyone!

I don't make resolutions, but I do make goals. My big goal in 2009 is to clear the debt off our power line of credit. In 2008 we paid for braces for Luke and in November my car was paid off. The cash freed from completing those payments is now going towards the debt. I'm very excited to see a light at the end of this tunnel. Yippee!

We kept a pretty quiet Christmas when it comes to gifts. My favourite gift came from Jim and was a set of Rosewood double pointed needles. He had noticed me admiring them in the store, and was thoughtful enough to get them for me, knowing I'd not likely get them for myself.

All this week I've been off work and yet still very busy enjoying myself. My mother gifted the whole family with Animal Crossing City Folk, so we've all been playing that. It's been fun sending each other gifts and notes in the virtual mail. The family has also been enjoying playing Mario Kart and Munchkin. It's hard to find fun games for teenage boys to share with their family, but these fit the bill.

As for the knitting, 2008 saw a slowdown in my production, which is kind of hard to believe when you look at what I did complete. I don't think the slow down is a bad thing since it comes from walking the dog regularly and more responsibilities at work. I also slowed down on the blogging. Part of the problem with that is the kids are hogging the machine! Next year, all I want for Christmas is a laptop. Once the debt is gone, I think it's a reasonable request.

Post-Christmas, as predicted, I came to my senses and I abandoned the Cabled Yoke Jacket. Here's as far as I got:

I was breaking every design rule possible in one sweater for a plus-sized woman. All those puffy cables and the light color offset with a brown yoke. Not smart. But it was like a boxing match. My process knitter knocked out my product knitter in the first round. Thankfully, the product knitter made a late comeback and triumphed over the process knitter.

Now the process knitter and the product knitter have called a truce and all this week I've been happily plugging away at this ray of sunshine:

It's the Bee Fields shawl by Anne Hanson. I started this back in April and was halfway through the second section when I screwed up and ripped back to the first section. This was so disheartening that it languished in the stash cupboard till last week. The holidays have given me a well rested head to tackle it with and I'm hopeful that it will be mostly done before going back to work. I'm enjoying the lace and the color. Every time I pick it up I'm reminded of green grass and sunny skies.

I've needed the reminding too. We've had snow, rain, wind, cloud, fog, snow, and a bit of sun. The rain and wind conspired to knock down several pine trees, including one that fell over a driveway containing four cars. It crushed the hoods of the last two cars, trapping the whole bunch in. I can just imagine the consternation in that household when they realized their Christmas guests would be staying a few days more!