Sunday, January 30, 2011

Designing Women

I was at my wrap-up marathon party on the week-end and I wore a sweater that I had knit (the Sunrise Circle jacket by Kate Gilbert). This is a sweater that I love. I loved knitting it - it was a simple stockinette stitch that morphed into this most incredible design, created by strategic increasing (and some decreasing, but really, mostly increasing). There were no sleeves to sew in (the bane of my knitting existence) and still, it is one of those sweaters that people just love. But when people say "You are so creative" I really want to say - "No, not me", because I think that the creativity is in the design, not the execution. And I know that this is at some level really wrong - we women always downgrade out talents and skills with a "Pfff - this old thing" kind of attitude.

But if I can put that thought aside for a minute - the designers out there in knitting land - there are some wicked talented people there. Kate Gilbert (Sunrise Circle, Samantha Roshak, Ysolda Teague (Vivian) - these are just three that I can think of at the moment (oh, I just thought of several more - Anne Hanson, Cat Bordhi,
Kirsten Kapur) - and these are just a few whose patterns I have knit or have queued in Ravelry. (Now the hamster is running - Fiona Ellis, Cookie A., Norah Gaughn, Jared Flood). Every time I knit a design (really, almost any design) I am blown away by the thought that has gone into the design process - for example, in this sweater that I just finished (Vivian), the body is knit to the underarms and then the sleeves are knit and then they are joined together in a really cool manner that incorporates the cable pattern and then slides into the shoulder, which turns into the hood - you really would need to think outside the box to put this all together. Well, I would have to think outside the box.

See I don't think I have a design bone in my body. I am one of those "follow the pattern" - and if I incorporate a change, it is not because I thought about it ahead of time. It's usually because I made a mistake and rather than rip it all out, I incorporate it into my garment. And I would really like to be able to create in that manner or really, in any manner, since I can play the piano (but not by ear and certainly not my own compositions) and I can write a little bit - but I have never really had a thought about writing a book or anything. This blog is my first foray into any kind of public writing.

The only thing I have created has been my children (in collaboration with my husband) and they are still a work in progress (I guess we all are, when you think about it). When I read about people who are "thinking" about starting to design things, it really takes my breath away, because it never even occurs to me to think about it, let alone try.

I suppose like most things, it starts small - there is an urge to find just the right garment (be it sweater or cowl) and when it can't be found, the person in question sketches out her own ideas and after some pain (probably a lot of pain) and lots and lots of ripping and re-knitting (and swearing) then the whole thing comes together.

Sometimes, I want to say "Why, yes, I knit this. Oh, and I designed it too." (I draw the line at saying I spun the wool. Despite having a spinning wheel, I have never gone beyond the rudimentary stages of learning to spin - for me that would be crazy making.) But really? That is not me - so I guess I should just say "Thank you - I did knit it" and leave it at that.

The world has to have everyone in it - the people who design, the people who spin, the people who knit. If we all just designed, there wouldn't be much of a market to cater to. Ditto for the spinners and the knitters.

But I do wish that the muse had given me just a tetch of the creative mode - just a bit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's with this cold??

So I am starting a campaign for "Stupid Cold" days - where you are stupid if you go out. The weather in Calgary this week has been downright chilly. Yesterday was -29 (with the wind chill) and today it was -20 when I got up. There is minimal wind however, so the radio stations are not reporting the wind chill - and it even looks like the sun is coming out.

I only want "Stupid Cold" days from Monday to Friday, mind you - so I don't have to go to work - just stay at home where it is sensible, to drink coffee and knit or read or nap. Since I am not in one of those jobs where the world would fall apart if I did not show up (say, like a doctor or a bus driver) I suppose I could call in sick - but I am haunted by an exalted sense of responsibility, so I haul myself out to the car and into traffic to get up to the university to do my thing. But the chair and blanket and yarn beckons relentlessly.

The local drive-home CBC show has been running a "It's so cold...." phone in this week and I have my own completion statements. It's so cold.... that my "designed in Sweden built in Canada" car window stopped working and needed an extensive, expensive repair before it would go up again. It's so cold..... that my computer hard drive got sick (i.e. developed a virus) and at last look appears headed for Mexico. It's so cold....that no one wants to run - even with all their cold weather running gear. It's so cold..... that even the teenagers are putting on hats and hoods (but no mittens - has to be -45 for mittens to appear, apparently.)

It looks to be warming up for next week, for which I am eternally grateful - people will want to run again, my car will be happy - and maybe even my computer will work again.

But I still think "Stupid Cold" days are a good idea.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I hereby resolve....

So I typically don't make resolutions. Through a long process of self-discovery, I have realized that as soon as I make a resolution, I break it. Not because I want to, as my intentions are usually pretty good. I think it is more about the things that I want to accomplish the most, I do anyway - and putting them to paper seems to somehow mean that I can rest on my laurels as I have resolved to do something - and so I don't really have to do it. (If this makes sense in any sort of convoluted way, please let me know!)

This year, however, I have decided to make them again - but make them with a goal in mind - so they are not really resolutions, but more steps towards accomplishments that I want to do anyway.
So here I go:

In 2011 I resolve:

1. To reduce the pile of books by my bedside by 50% (currently numbers somewhere in the 45 - 60 range). Why I have that many, I am not sure - it's not like the book is going to disappear the second I don't buy it (well, except for second-hand books, because someone might just snatch that bargain away from under my nose if I am not careful!) And besides - there will be less to dust....

2. Which brings me to my next resolution. To try and tidy just a BIT more often. My house generally looks like a bomb has gone off - between 2 boys still at home and lots of things to distract me AND the fact that I don't really like housework, things like dusting and vacumning never get done. I don't want to go overboard - I like a house that looks lived in and inviting - but I think the laundry on the dining room table (for 2 weeks at a time) could go. And in case any of my children are reading this? You get to be part of this too!! (Sharing is part of any good resolution strategy.)

3. To take more baths. Which will help with resolution # 1. If I don't fall asleep in the tub. Which I do. Alot.

4. Get to bed earlier. Sleep "that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care". Besides being good for me, I think it might help my productivity and my running. And maybe my weight (but I am not counting on it). Besides, sometimes I am just plain tired.

5. Knit more, instead of wasting my time playing Plants vs. Zombies. You wouldn't think a non-violence sort of person like me would like a game like that, but I do. Perhaps it relieves some latent hostility I have towards gardening. (By the way,I don't think I have latent hostility - but the zombies win more than the plants, so perhaps I need to explore that.)

6. Try (really hard) not to buy more wool. OK - why am I even writing that? Maybe I should say - only buy wool that speaks deeply to me and begs to be knit into beautiful things.

7. Stop biting my tongue so much. I think I always want to be seen as the good person - which means I often swallow my opinion instead of speaking my mind. Then I mutter (alot) under my breath. In the interests of preserving my tongue, I am going to let some of those thoughts out. I will still be nice - just a little more candid.

8. Post blogs twice a week. Just trying to set an example for my daughter - if she is reading this.....

I think that's enough. If I can achieve these 8 and feel satisfied, then it will be a good year.

Happy New Year!!