Thursday, June 13, 2013

Home Again

I came home late Monday night after ten days in Iceland and I'm still feeling disoriented. It's been a long, long time since I went on such a big adventure, one that makes the familiar unfamiliar when you return to it. I think an exchange of molecules takes place when you travel-- breathing in different air, drinking different water, eating different foods, seeing different sights, hearing different sounds. I imbibed a small draught of Iceland and I may never be the same. It's kind of freaky.

I'm trying to unpack back in to my usual life. There is laundry to be done, groceries to buy-- fresh vegetables will again be part of my diet, thank goodness-- gifts to disburse, and four nights of work ahead of me. Sleep schedules need to be recalibrated-- it stays light almost 24 hours in Iceland this time of year, and I didn't adjust well.

But I still want to hold on to all of it: dizzying bare volcanic cliffs, pools of silver light on dark seas, winds strong enough to lean into, water pounding down mountain sides, lambs scampering, terns screeching, the eerie bubbling call of snipe. The sound of no road noise. The spicy sweet smell of some plant or tree that perfumed Akureyri. The sulfur smell of geothermal hot water on my skin and the laminate coating of minerals in my hair. The strange caramel flavor of brown cheese-- perhaps best forgotten! The unbelievable fat-free richness of skyr. Trying to enunciate mouthfuls of baffling consonants: Snaefellsnes, Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, Hvoll, Vagnsta∂ir.

I have pictures, probably not as many as I now wish I had taken-- I find it hard to take things in and take pictures at the same time-- and I will share some soon!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Slow Socks

I have been knitting these socks for I don't know how long. They didn't seem to grow much for the first six months or so. Most of what you see now wasn't there two weeks ago. I'm either going to finish them in a week or they will return to a vegetative state. I'm not even sure what made me pick them up again after making so little progress for so long-- I think from time to time I just need to knit something that has already been started, that requires no effort to get going.

I am knitting them very tightly-- so tight that I have to take breaks because I get a stab between my shoulder blades from gripping my size 0 needles. They are going to fit perfectly and wear like iron. I love the colors and the blurry stripes the patterned yarn makes. It's ordinary Patons sock yarn from the craft store, nothing sacred or fancy, but it delights me all the same.

I have one other pair of hand-knitted socks, and I cherish them. They cost me effort to make and they aren't easy to replace. I wash them carefully and fold them carefully-- I'll probably even repair them when they start growing holes. It's probably placebo effect, but I feel different wearing them-- like someone cares a great deal for me, even if it's only myself.

Sock knitting may just be the opposite of "fast fashion"-- at least for me, at my snail's pace. I have been kicking this phrase around my mind quite a bit in the past month or so, ever since the disaster at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh. I have been thinking about the true cost of the abundance of cheap, disposable garments available to us, and searching for a different path.

I would like to live in a slower, kinder world-- the one we have seems so fast and cruel sometimes. It's a naive wish, or an impossible one, surely. Hand-knitted socks are probably not an answer or antidote, but maybe they are a small part of one.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Few Questions

The sweater I mentioned is finished. I wove in the last few ends on Friday, as promised, but I didn't end up blocking it until last night. The blocking scared me a little-- in fact, anticipatory fear of the blocking was what held me back from finishing the darn thing in the first place. After touching water, will it still fit in an attractively slouchy way... or will it become lounge wear? Or better yet, a cat bed?

It's still sopping-- it will be days, weeks, maybe, before it's dry enough to try on-- but I think it's going to be okay. I don't dare verify this with anything so scientific as a tape measure. Which seems like the right thing to do, given that I didn't check my gauge with anything so scientific as a swatch before I cast on.

Delusional knitting is what that is called. But doesn't it look wonderful?

And I think the universe was satisfied by my efforts, because another happy accident of fate brought me together with a dear friend on Saturday. Though we live in the same region of the country, within driving distance even, and generally smile and laugh our faces off every time we get together, this doesn't happen often enough. It was so nice to see her.

I wonder what will happen if I go off now and swatch for a new project? Using my own hand-dyed yarn? It has been sitting unused for almost a year-- if I take it up now what rewards lie in store? Should I buy a lottery ticket?

Friday, April 12, 2013


I came home from work last night at 11:30, which is unusual because I normally come home at 7:30 in the morning. I occasionally get these little gifts of extra free time, and since I have been lately thinking about writing here again, the moment seemed ripe for starting.

It has been almost a year since my last post, but I prefer to say that it has been less than a year since my last post. The devil is in the details. As with many other time periods of less than a year, many things happened-- and not much happened-- but I have let it all go by without comment. Which I don't regret, entirely.

I wasn't sure I wanted to write about anything, least of all knitting. I haven't been trying to come up with things to say, but I also haven't been deliberately avoiding it either. I guess I have just been waiting for something to push me in one direction or another-- either to definitively stop or definitively start.

What I have noticed is the desire to write slowly returning to me. I want to organize thoughts into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and so on. I remember handing in my last paper senior year of college, and thinking, with great pleasure, "Ha! I never have to do THAT again!" Strange to find myself here, ten years later, wanting to write about everything.

And by everything, I mean a lot of things that are not knitting. When I think about knitting, more often than not, I think IN knitting, if that makes sense. And I dream in knitting quite a bit too. But someone once said that writing about art is like dancing about architecture -- the translation is complicated. I'm also beginning to think that I started a knitting blog (or two) to disguise any notions of being a "serious" writer-- which isn't really fair to knitting as a craft or as a topic worthy of  consideration. A blog with few readers flies under the radar no matter the subject, so I suppose I'm free to choose whatever subject I like.

I have a feeling knitting will come up at some point.

Now that is started, and with some of my remaining unscheduled free time I think I will try to finish something else-- a sweater, a nearly done sweater with a mere handful of ends to be woven in. It has been sitting there for almost three weeks. Or as I prefer to say, less than a month. The moment is ripe-- the universe demands it.