Knitting

...the sheer inevitability of wings

It is fiercely cold here today. When I got up this morning, just after sunrise, it was      -7F and dropped to -10F before starting to warm up. Even with the stronger sun of the last day of February, we have still only reached +7F. 

The sky looks so blue and clear but more snow lies ahead, 8-10 inches by late tomorrow. I heard yesterday that we are at 90 inches for the season so far with a good 6 weeks of snowy weather yet ahead.

There is something in this long drawn out move toward spring that keeps my mind turning to the transition of midlife, to the task of moving from the roles and expectations of the first half of life to the call to new life of the second half, the time when we are less bound by role and freer to follow a new path, one set by the movements of our hearts. As I have been reading on this theme and musing about it, I ran across the following --

                                                  Do you know 
                                             how the caterpillar
                                                      turns?

                                              Do you remember
                                                 what happens
                                                inside a cocoon?

                                                   You liquefy.

                                          There in the thick black
                                          of your self-spun womb,
                                                void as the moon
                                                   before waxing.

                                                        You melt

                                                    (as Christ did
                                                     for three days
                                                      in the tomb.)

                                                     Congealing in
                                              impossible darkness,
                                               the sheer inevitability
                                                          of wings.

                                                                         ~~Kim Rosen

Signs of spring

This morning on Yarnstorm, I saw a beautiful picture of daffodils, which Jane says are at their peak where she lives in England. Here in New England, daffodils are still deep under the snow and won't be seen until late March at the earliest. We have many snowstorms between now and daffodils. But spring does begin to show up on my windowsill as my Ponderosa lemon has decided to burst into bloom with a half dozen clusters heavy with buds. This plant grows slowly -- after 4 years it is barely 12 inches tall but it bears fruit, one huge lemon each year. This is the heaviest blossom set it has had so far, so maybe this year it will go for 2 lemons. Meanwhile the scent is intoxicating.

Our latest snowstorm finally passed through last night, leaving us with about 6 inches of heavy wet snow. This morning when I took my daily photo, the last of the clouds were moving out to see and the blue sky was just beginning to show -- now we have bright sun.

Feb 28

No new pictures of Arabian Nights today. I am in that long stretch where there is no change in pattern, just addition of length. I think I will likely finish sometime late next week or early in the following week. I have to spend time this weekend and next getting everything prepared for my big seminar on the 15th -- I have lived with the Medea material for several years and have presented this seminar twice before, but there is always work to be done on it.

Terrific essay

I've not much to write this morning but I do want to point you all to a terrific essay by the knitty professor. Her thoughts on auto-immune schadenfreude really struck me, especially as I watch my own thoughts and feelings about the race for the Democratic nomination.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

When I got up this morning, the sun was just coming up and oh, the colors were so beautiful! 


But beware -- red skies at morning, sailor take warning. It started snowing about an hour ago and we are due for 7-10 inches or so followed by the famous "wintery mix" tomorrow. Makes for a cozy time.

I've been doing some reading and a lot of thinking about some new directions I want to take my practice in. And this morning I re-discovered this from Jung --

We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life's morning,
for what was great in the morning will be little at evening,
and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.
                                                                        ~ C. G. Jung 

I am moving toward focusing my work on late afternoon and evening of life -- seems appropriate given that is where I am in my own life. 

And Arabian Nights has now reached early evening as well as I have but 200 rows left on the second half. 

It all falls together somehow, doesn't it?

By the way, the Moroccan Days/Arabian Nights pattern and kit have been released -- be sure to get yours here or here.




No news is good news

I'm still knitting along on Arabian Nights, part 2 -- 260 rows yet to go. I think I will finish it on time with no difficulty. Here are a couple of closeups of parts of it --

closeup2

If I didn't stop to fondle it every few rows, I would be much further along!

The New England knitting world is quiet this weekend because of the NETA Spa weekend in Freeport. I was going to go, but a chance to spend the day and evening with both of my kids came up and I just didn't want to pass up the opportunity. Next year I will go for certain. We had a terrific meal together and fun conversation -- what more could a mom ask?

We're all set to watch the Oscars tonight -- we have laid in a nice supply of snacks so we're all set. Last night we watched There Will Be Blood -- not my favorite movie from the las few years. But then again, I have seen fewer of those nominated than I usually have, so I can't say that I have any strong opinions. 

Sunrise is now before 6:30 -- an hour earlier than when I started my photo project! This morning was beautiful --

Unreality shows

I'm not sure on what planet the so -called reality shows actually represent reality. Let's take Big Brother as an example. You know, in the summer when the mind gets lazy, Big Brother seems a harmless indulgence. And the last couple of years it was even interesting, though often maddening. But this year -- Oyyyy! I'm guessing that the prospect of 3 months confined without books, music, television, or other diversions with a bunch of other people would cause most really bright, interesting people to run in the other direction. That would explain the generally less than scintillating intellects that are to be seen on the show. But this year, this winter edition, lowers the bat far more than I would ever have expected. The whole soul mate couple thing seems ridiculous even had the participants bee the least bit interesting. or even entertaining or infuriating as Evil Dick was last summer. But this crew is simply dull and far less than bright, incredibly narcissistic, and annoying. Bland and boring. We have DVRed the After Dark segments on Showtime in the wee hours and have discovered that f we skim through that, we don't have to watch the show at all -- in fact, I am going to stop even that. UGH!

Faded Flower

As you know, I love photographing flowers. This morning the fading blossoms on my magnificent red amaryllis caught my eye. It is easy to be drawn to the beauty of the newly opened bloom, but there is a kind of beauty as well in it as it fades and withers.

Look at her, even as her edges are curling and withering and her deep red is fading to a washed out purple, she waves the stigma of her pistil still, hoping some wayward breeze or insect will drop pollen in her and make her bear fruit before she dries up and drops off.

Aging isn't for cowards.



Slow and Steady

I am managing to meet my goal each day for number of rows I knit of the stole, so I am optimistic about getting the second half completed to wear on March 15. I expect to get to row 60 tonight -- which is 67 total out of 348, with 21 days to knit. 

The light the last couple of days has been wonderful. This is what I saw this morning at 7 --

Gotta get back to my knitting -- I have rows to go before I sleep. And American Idol to watch.

Please tell me --

So last night while I was knitting, I watched Big Brother. Now no one can watch this and not feel a little slimed, and I am no exception. But, you know with the strike and all, pickings are a little slim, so I watched.

Can these people possibly be as dim as they appear? If any of them were my kid, I think I might become suicidal. 

But I got the first 24 rows of the second half done. I need to do 20 rows a day to finish in time to get it blocked and ready to wear for my workshop.

Back to One

It is very cold this morning and clear in the way it can only be when the air is so frigid. When I got up 2 hours ago, it was just barely 2F, but the sun in mid-February brings warmth so already it is up to 12F and heading to 35. Hardly balmy but quite tolerable. The cold at sunrise means wisps of arctic sea smoke, one of my favorite things in winter.

With the drama of completing the first half of Arabian Nights done now comes the hard time, kind of like second sock syndrome. Because it is back to one to knit it all over agin, this time without the spur of the excitement of seeing what comes next. I cast on for it last night, after again stringing the gazillion beads for the fringe. The spur for the wrk now is that I would love to wear it when I do my Medea seminar next month. Think I'll make it?


The road to hell...

I had every intention of pinning out the completed half of Miss Arabian Nights. I really did. But I confess that blocking is my least favorite part of knitting these lovely lace things. So I got a towel, spread it out on the dining room table, and finger blocked her. Then the challenge of getting a good photograph -- lighting is always a problem with darker yarns like this but I think what you see gives a pretty good idea.

arabian16a

She is the width of a standard bath towel without having to hard block, so this stole really will work as a stole rather than a wide scarf. I like the width a lot.

Loosely blocked like this, she is 40" long and will easily block to 45" which will give a total length of 90". Now I know that sounds really long, but the drape is so fluid because of the beads, I think it really benefits from the greater length. I personally would not want it to be less than 80".  Real blocking will open the lace more and allow you to see the lovely laciness of the pattern.

Needle: KnitPicks Options, 32" circular, 3.25mm (US 3)

Ta-Da!!

The first half of Arabian Nights is finished! I wanted to get photos up even though the light wasn't good. So beware that the color is not exactly right and I haven't pinned it out at all.

arabian15

I'll get better photos tomorrow and also measure the length and width. Meanwhile, keep your eye open for the announcement of the pattern release and the kit here.


More snow!

It's snowing this morning -- predictions are for 8 inches or so before it changes to sleet and rain and freezing rain -- a messy, messy Wednesday. 

My From-My-Window photo project has become an important part of the way I start my day. I get up -- at whatever time I wake up, usually somewhere between 6 and 7:30 -- come downstairs, go to the bathroom, then pick up my camera and go to the window. Each day I take as many as 10 shots from slightly different angles out the window and then spend time looking at each one until I feel I have found the one that best captures what I saw.

And what an exercise in seeing this project is! Some mornings, like today, the landscape is a study in shades of grey and the photo looks almost to be in black and white. Or I discover the slightest hint of pink on the underside of clouds on a day that is overcast. The subtle color of the plants in the winter. The knotweed, which is in the foreground, is often the most vivid color in the photo, with its red-brown. And once in a while, I discover a gull was flying by as I snapped the photo.

Maybe I am just getting old

I have been thinking today about the caucus yesterday and some of the things I heard. One woman, in her early 30's, stood up to speak on behalf of her candidate. She started by saying that she has never before been even remotely interested in politics and had not been paying any attention to the campaigns for the nomination. Okay, it's good that she is becoming engaged for the first time. But I do not find it heartening that she went on to say that she had chosen her candidate solely on the basis of a YouTube video and really knew nothing more about either of the candidates than that she had liked this video. I know it is wildly unrealistic to expect even the majority of voters to take the time to become well informed on the issues and the proposals of the candidates, but come on -- one short video? Makes me think maybe the smoke filled room wasn't so bad  --  after all, that method did bring us FDR and Lincoln.

It is bitterly cold and windy today -- wind chill is -6F. So I have been working here in the living room with my down lap throw keeping my legs warm. With heating oil at $3.20/gallon, we keep the thermostat at 62F and on windy days like today, that doesn't feel too very warm.

Caucusing in Maine

We spent all afternoon at our caucus. I helped check people in -- our turnout was 2 1/2 times the 2004 turnout so it was really hectic getting everyone set for the vote. I expected Obama to carry here, and he did. The really good news was how many people were willing to take a snowy Sunday and show up for a process that can be tedious at times.

This is what our caucus looked like -- we met in the gym of the middle school in town.

caucus1

So I didn't get as much knitting done as I hoped. I got a couple of pictures of my progress this morning though so you can see the wonderful center motif --


arabian10b

I'm just too tired to write more. It was a good day.


Pause Before the Next Storm

We have had light snow almost every day this past week resulting in around 8 inches of new snow. This morning though the sun was out for a while as we are in a brief pause before the next storm which is supposed to arrive this evening and bring us another 6-10 inches by noon tomorrow.

So when I got up, it was clear and bright --

Feb 9

And  a little later, the rowers were out in the harbor -- it was just 18F out there!

rowers2

And a dad and his wee one outside sledding --

sledding2

Tomorrow is the Democratic caucus. We expect a big turnout and both candidates and their  many surrogates have been all over the state yesterday and today. I will be one of the people checking folks in tomorrow. I hope to have some photos for you.

So today is all about relaxing and watching movies and knitting. I started the center motif yesterday and I am up to row 15 of it now, that's 15 out of 100 -- for this half. The photo gives you some idea of the length but there's not enough of it done yet to give you an idea of how the new part looks -- I'll get that tomorrow.

Almost there!

I have completed 17 of the 20 repeats needed before I can start the center part of Arabian Nights! And I will be knitting all evening, so tomorrow I will be beginning something new and will have something to show you. 

In the meantime, it started snowing this morning and we have a skim of ice on the harbor --

ice

We've gotten around 4 or so inches in the last 2 days -- lazy off again on again snow making beautiful patterns

branches

and giving Spike something to watch

spike

Yesterday's amaryllis bud has opened to show its glory--

open2

Knitting time!

Shrimp Season!

January to April is shrimp season in Maine, when the small cold water shrimp are caught. My husband came home with 20 pounds of them bought right from the fisherman -- for $1.00/pound! So he is de-heading and cleaning them and soon our freezer will be full of these sweet wonderful crustaceans. Yummmm! 

This bowl shows just 5 pounds of them.

I hope you vote

I don't talk about politics much here. And I won't be talking about it much today either, except to say I hope you vote. This is the most exciting election for me in many years. I won't be voting today because our caucus here in Maine is not until Saturday. How amazing is it that no matter the outcome of the primary season, the nominee of the Democrats will be groundbreaking -- either a man of color or a woman? How many of us would have imagined that would come this soon? In the midst of all the other difficult things happening in the world, this is one point of light for me. And just think, one day the fact that among the candidates are women and people of color will not be noteworthy. It will happen.

It is lightly snowing this morning. We expect to get around 3 inches and then perhaps some of the not so wonderful wintery mix. We haven't had a substantial snowfall in several weeks now and I am starting to miss it. I would far rather have 10" of snow than sleet, freezing rain and rain. It's still a long wait for spring and I know there are snowstorms yet to come. 

Tortoise knitter

After the activity last week, this week promises to be slower paced with more time to relax. Which means I have time to work on my workshop for next month, to do more reading and, of course, knit. 

I am definitely not a speed knitter. I have to take breaks for the sake of my hands plus I like to stop and feel and really look at what I am working on. I am astonished at the people who can knit complex pieces in a week or two. Someone once told me that I gulp rather than sip at life, but I think I have become more of a sipper, at least with knitting. This makes me a little anxious as a test knitter because I want to be able to go quickly in order to provide both feedback and a finished piece. Today I reached a milestone of sorts on Arabian Nights -- I completed 14 repeats of long motif and that was the number originally called for. I can definitely see that the additional length I suggested will look better. So I have another 60 rows, 6 repeats, to go before the center panel. So sometime around mid-week, I should get there. No way will I have it finished by Spa weekend though -- that is in just 18 days. So here's hoping the first half will be enough for people to get an idea. Here she is this morning--

Silent Poetry Reading

Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes -- Rainer Maria Rilke
 
That was the strange mine of souls.
As secret ores of silver they passed
like veins through its darkness. Between the roots
blood welled, flowing onwards to Mankind,
and it looked as hard as Porphyry in the darkness.
Otherwise nothing was red.
 
There were cliffs
and straggling woods. Bridges over voids,
and that great grey blind lake,
that hung above its distant floor
like a rain-filled sky above a landscape.
And between meadows, soft and full of patience,
one path, a pale strip, appeared,
passing by like a long bleached thing.
 
And down this path they came.

 
In front the slim man in the blue mantle,
mute and impatient, gazing before him.
His steps ate up the path in huge bites
without chewing: his hands hung,
clumsy and tight, from the falling folds,
and no longer aware of the weightless lyre,
grown into his left side,
like a rose-graft on an olive branch.
And his senses were as if divided:
while his sight ran ahead like a dog,
turned back, came and went again and again,
and waited at the next turn, positioned there –
his hearing was left behind like a scent.
Sometimes it seemed to him as if it reached
as far as the going of those other two,
who ought to be following this complete ascent.
 
Then once more it was only the repeated sound of his climb
and the breeze in his mantle behind him.
But he told himself that they were still coming:
said it aloud and heard it die away.
They were still coming, but they were two
fearfully light in their passage. If only he might
turn once more ( if looking back
were not the ruin of all his work,
that first had to be accomplished), then he must see them,
the quiet pair, mutely following him:
 
the god of errands and far messages,
the travelling-hood above his shining eyes,
the slender wand held out before his body,
the beating wings at his ankle joints;
and on his left hand, as entrusted: her.

 
The so-beloved, that out of one lyre
more grief came than from all grieving women:
so that a world of grief arose, in which
all things were there once more: forest and valley,
and road and village, field and stream and creature:
and that around this grief-world, just as
around the other earth, a sun
and a silent star-filled heaven turned,
a grief-heaven with distorted stars –
she was so-loved.
 
But she went at that god’s left hand,
her steps confined by the long grave-cloths,
uncertain, gentle, and without impatience.
She was in herself, like a woman near term,
and did not think of the man, going on ahead,
or the path, climbing upwards towards life.
She was in herself. And her being-dead
filled her with abundance.
As a fruit with sweetness and darkness,
so she was full with her vast death,
that was so new, she comprehended nothing.
 
She was in a new virginity
and untouchable: her sex was closed
like a young flower at twilight,
and her hands had been weaned so far
from marriage that even the slight god’s
endlessly gentle touch, as he led,
hurt her like too great an intimacy.
 
She was no longer that blonde woman,
sometimes touched on in the poet’s songs,
no longer the wide bed’s scent and island,
and that man’s possession no longer.
 
She was already loosened like long hair,
given out like fallen rain,
shared out like a hundredfold supply.
 
She was already root.
 
And when suddenly
the god stopped her and, with anguish in his cry,
uttered the words: ‘He has turned round’ –
she comprehended nothing and said softly: ‘Who?’
 
But far off, darkly before the bright exit,
stood someone or other, whose features
were unrecognisable. Who stood and saw
how on the strip of path between meadows,
with mournful look, the god of messages
turned, silently, to follow the figure
already walking back by that same path,
her steps confined by the long grave-cloths,
uncertain, gentle, and without impatience.
 

Beads in my window

It snowed. It sleeted. It rained. There was ice. This morning, while it was still cold, the ice on one of the screens looked as if the beads from Arabian Nights had been flung into it. So everywhere I look, I see her --

The sun is not yet string enough to melt the ice in front of our door, but it is now above freezing and tomorrow we are supposed to see 41F . 

Many of my friends have grandchilden and certainly I would love to have some. In the meantime, I get to take care of pets. David's dog, Olive, is having her first overnight with us tonight. Moe will disappear under the bed until she leaves and Spike will taunt her. Tell me this is good practice.

Here is my lovely early this morning --

arabian2:1

And a closeup of that center motif--

detail

Now to go around the house and get all the baskets of yarn up out of harm's way so that I can settle in to knit.



Storm coming

If you look at this morning's photo, you can see the storm clouds just beginning to move in. 

Feb 1

Any time now it should start to snow then change to sleet, rain and freezing rain. Our snow cover is slowly disappearing. Chances are though there is plenty of snow yet to come, as February is usually the snowiest month.

On my windowsills, despite the snow and cold outside, spring is getting underway in earnest. The next amaryllis is about to open --

comingnext

And you can see on the left the next one after this is coming on as well. The Ponderosa lemon is full of flower buds and I just noticed that the lime, which is in the big pot you can just see in this photo, is setting new flower buds also. So pretty soon they will both have abundant fragrant white flowers.

Though my knitting focus is strictly on Arabian Nights these days, I am always looking ahead. Yesterday this beautiful wool/silk from colourmart arrived --

It will become one of the mystery lace projects, just which one I am not yet certain.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.