Thursday, June 14, 2012

Explaining knitting, and other stories

Explaining Knitting

Yesterday I was knitting near two very small brothers who apparently found what I was doing to be much, much more interesting than Madagascar (which was playing on a nearby TV at the time.)  So flattering!  Eventually the older one asked,

"Are you sewing, or knitting?"

And on the spot I came up with an answer I still really like today.  I said, "I'm knitting; when you are sewing, you put the thread through a hole in the needle, and when you are knitting, you put the needle through a hole in the thread."

I wonder if he liked the balance of that as much as I do?

(I was knitting a cashmere blend sock, incidentally.  He definitely liked how soft it is, and was also astonished by the thought of a Sock being Made By A Person.)

(must say, I'm still a little astonished by that myself.)

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Inspirations and Imagery

I've been super loving the music videos uploaded to YouTube by melodysheep, or (for?) Symphony of Science.  I found them when the Mr. Rogers Garden of Your Mind video just started to go viral - love that one too - and am especially crazy for The Quantum World which is so catchy even though it doesn't help me understand Quantum Theory.

My favourite line in The Quantum World is Brian Cox saying, 'that's a wonderful and significant story'.  Never mind what 'that' refers to - isn't it just a beautiful idea, for a story to evoke the emotional heights of wonder and the depth of meaning both at the same time?  I would love to be able to write a story like that.

I mention my YouTube obsession because in Ode to the Brain (warning for the squeamish: this one has actual brains in it) there is a reference to our delicate but hardworking neurons as 'an enchanted loom'.

This is a consolation to me because  I have an unenchanted loom sitting about five feet away from me right now which I have no time even to set up, and won't have, for another few weeks yet.  Nice to know that I'm sort of weaving anyway.

Another reason to love Ode to the Brain is Jill Bolte Taylor describing the work that our brains do with the information pouring in through our senses as 'an enormous collage'.  Which is how I experience a lot of sensory information - it stands alone, but near enough to other very separate ideas to form new perspectives and insights.

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Fear Your Knitting

If only I could apply my testing skills to my knitting - or rather, if I could approach it with a similar degree of fear.

I don't know what the rules are for financial advisors where you are, but in Ontario, just to sell life insurance - a pretty key part of most financial plans, but not the only one - you have to have a license.  The test you have to write to earn it lasts four hours (no bathroom breaks) and covers 140 questions which are really, really hard.  You have to know a lot about different vehicles for growing money, but also for betting against risks to financial security, and after you've learned just a crazy number of formulas you end up having to split hairs between two effective solutions for a particular need so as to pick the one that is 'right'.  And even though that is stressful after the two-hour mark when you are regretting the coffee you drank I think it's a good thing, because money isn't something you want to mess up with.

(I didn't drink coffee, incidentally.  In fact part of my personal test preparation was practicing getting through four hours without a bathroom break.)

Here is how this connects with knitting:

I wrote that exam yesterday, and I approached each question calmly and methodically until I was confident either in the rightness of my answer or the completeness of my effort.  Because I have learned that you put a certain amount of time in to understanding what is being asked of you, and if you guess at an answer and come back later to for a second opinion on your earlier logic you have to understand it all over again, and that just takes up so much time.

Compare this to: knitting without following the directions on the pattern, making a mistake, ripping back to it to fix it, and knitting back up again to where you were before.  Sound familiar?  I do that all the time, and now I'm thinking calm and methodical is better.  More peaceful, too.  I'm going to really try to take the testing approach to knitting for a while and see how it sits.

(In case you're wondering, I don't know yet whether I passed the exam. I should do in another three hours or so. Not that I'm watching the clock or anything.)

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Nothing Lasts Forever

I had a sad earlier this week when I realized that my favourite must-read-every-day blog, tiny happy, is going more or less dormant.  Melissa is going to study journalism and won't have time to write it every weekday anymore, though with luck she will still be sewing up things sometimes for her shop.  Lucky I treated myself to all those knitting bags when I did!

The whole world of blogs is a bit funny, isn't it. Who reads them, why they read them, what goes into writing them, the pressure to keep writing them - it's social networking in some ways, but newspaper- or magazine-y in others.  I often look at what I do here as a special interest column, but over the weekend I felt I'm sometimes more of an essayist.  I know that the things I most want to write about are often not the things people most want to read about, but after many many years of writing I also know that you have to be yourself and write accordingly.  When I am reading others' blogs I often wonder how they feel about this.

Craft blogs are especially intriguing to me not just for the craft ideas and often gorgeous photographs, but for the inspiration in the life of the host him or herself.  The process of making things and sharing them online is unbelievably time-consuming - so difficult to do when you have other commitments like children or a full-time job or just plain bills to pay.  In the near term it can be a mental and emotional survival tactic in the midst of other demands, but it's hard to maintain, which is I'm sure why many craft bloggers I read have found ways to team up and share blogs through shiftwork.

If you make things from necessity you will find time, but often when I look at the cost in time of making a Thing versus buying it, I know I'm really just indulging myself by choosing 'make' instead of doing paying work and just buying the Thing.  There is such a cost to too much of that indulgence.  So: people who keep up craft blogs in a regular way have my utter admiration because I know how much they are giving to their readers, and I don't grudge it when they stop, or cut back.  I'm grateful for the inspiration I've had from them.

Just as doors close and windows open though, I did notice a rather thrilling development in the little world of Blogs I Read.  Because Amanda of Soulemama roomed with Stephanie of Yarn Harlot at Squam.  This is like having the characters of your two favourite TV shows guesting on each other's programs, and I can't help but feel it's going to lead to some fun reading over time; as Stephanie notes, they share many values, but I'm sure I'm not the first person to feel that their writing styles could not be more different.

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I am pretty sure there are three or four more little stories I could tell you this morning - finally! free space in my head now that that test is done - but I have to sit down with a new textbook for yet another test, this time on mutual funds.  And I am pretty sure you don't want to hear about mutual funds any more than I want to write about them, so with that I will leave you.

Hope you have a wonderful day, and if you do check out any of those YouTube links or the ones from Squam, I know it will have some inspiration in it too!


Gina said...

Obviously not understanding the concept of "the stash" and the pleasure gained just from having the yarn, my mother gave me a 4-heddle Leclerc loom because she said it would help me use up my yarn faster. I put off assembling that thing for a reeeeally long time. When I finally put my mind to it, it took a whole day to put it together. I still haven't learned how to use -- and the stash continues to grow.

I love your explanation of knitting and sewing. Little kids make the best giftees of hand-knits. They just get it.

Pauline said...

I know two financial planners of the US variety and now a third, aborning. I'm sure you will succeed, but here's a "Good Luck" just for luck. All three are very warm people. All three are creative types, one a visual artist, one a musician/music business person, and you! So much for the stereotypes about creative souls vs. the 'dry' field of insurance and finance.

I know a small bit about how much effort you are expending, so, again, good luck.