Friday, April 25, 2008

Insert Evocative Title Here

Today tastes like chinese long beans, like rapini, like underripe cucumbers. Bitter. But I like it. Because it is bitter and because it is my heart. 1

It's one of those weeks where everywhere I turn, everyone does it better than me. Whatever it is. Whoever they are. I'm hip-deep in exchanges where others are posting swag and swag to be, and I look at what I have planned, and it looks like a dog's breakfast.

I'm busting my hump to chart a lace pattern. It's one of those times where you read the written pattern--multiple of 18 plus 1--then you check the actual directions and count stitches for the first row . . . and notice that you have to have 25 to work across once. My math may not be the best, but when I take off my shoes and count, 18 plus one DOES NOT EQUAL 25.

But it has been charted by someone else, and used to good effect. I have a plan to use it to great effect, if I can only get reality to cooperate with my dream. I may be smoking something. Won't be the first time.

Oh, I got it charted, with a great deal of skull sweat and test knitting. My hair caught fire two-three times, but it's charted. Now all I have to do (she said modestly) is reverse the pattern while keeping the character of the stitch.

You can stop laughing now.

You Big Dawg Knitters are nodding along--you know it's not just a matter of working the directions backwards. You know it's not even as simple as working from the last line to the first and reversing decreases.

Did I mention that this pattern has unbalanced increases on the knit side that get decreased away on the purl side? If it actually works, there will be a knitting wonk post to beat all knitting wonk posts detailing my thought processes as I flipped the lace. This is one of the Holy Grails of knitting--figuring out how to take a pattern you love from the bottom up and make it work top down.

I know this. I know that I may be Galahad here, cursed to see it once and never to grasp it.

And yeah, I'm doing this to myself. I'm looking over the shoulders of a couple of knitalongs where some knitters are discovering that there are patters where you have to --gasp-- pattern on both rows without resting, OMGBBQ! Yup, I have it in me so much nearer home to scare myself with my own desert places. 2

So I go to write on the Neverending Story Project. I have a lot of catching up to do. Amazing how they pile up when you don't get that story a day done each day. I'm banging along with my perpetual duo, and each story, due to the brevity of the format, feels like a scene in a chapter rather than a chapter in its entirety.

And I have the sinking feeling that I'm telling the same parts over and over and even fifty-five words is too long to forestall tedium. And on the other hand, if I collected them all into some sort of order, I might well have something worth exploring one of these days real soon now.

So I go to read my email. And Li'l Brah has posted a poem on his blog which not only piques my curiosity (really? Give up the chance to fanbabble at Shakespeare and Lincoln???) but containes that amazingly evocative line "I would give up all the fallen leaves in Gesthemane" and now I can barely see out of the bright green lenses that are my eyes. (I got even. I sent him a poem by Rumi. Hah!)3

So, in order to close with something gone right, there will be knitting:

(Eventually. I haven't made time to block the completed item yet, but will stick a picture here soon soon.)

Summer in Kansas, done Helen's Lace, Bucks Bar colorway. I started this shortly before I broke my hand last winter, and it was one of the first things I picked back up, solely to prove to myself that I could still knit lace.

Probably not the best choice. The silk kept catching on the Velcro of the brace, and I couldn't use my right hand the same way, and yeah, the pain pills interfered with the counting somewhat. ("Five, six, seven, thirteen, yellow . . .")

About halfway through, I realized it was literally riddled with errors and I wasn't going to be able to change patterns. So I ripped the whole thing out back to the cast-on row, made charts and charts of what I was doing and where I was going, and started. All. Over. Again. After the New Year.

Once I had all my tools in place, this was a fun little knit. Even the gazillion rows of the border where I had to have the charts handy for every stitch, and cheered when I finally turned the middle corner.

Not entirely unlike turning the middle finger.

1. Google Stephen Crane and "In the Desert."

2. See Robert Frost's "Desert Places."

3. Li'l Brah, hope I didn't out you to the 'rents here. Butcha know, you shouldn't post it to the intarwebs if you aren't willing for your mom to find out . . .

P.S.--And in yet another example of serendipity, the quote of the day for a group I read was this:

"The artist's personality, built upon strong desires and compassionate vision, is by its nature prone to depression. Therefore an artist will be visited by depression as a matter of course; his job is to recognize how his own thoughts and feelings contribute to his sadness. He can discourage these visits by affirming his freedom and worth, by remembering to love, and by gently encouraging himself to believe in a world of renewed possibilities. Depression may be natural, but still the artist can dispute and overcome it."

--Affirmations for Artists by Eric Maisel

Talk about your basic Godsmacks . . .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Muse Musing

Today tastes like long beans in oyster sauce, red bean paste in sesame balls, and pencil shavings. Dim sum in the classroom.

Some of the bloggers I read and feed from are questioning the purpuse of their blogs. There are those who wish to make money from their writings, and understand that (a) you have to post regularly and (b) you have to post things that have value to the readers.

So the question becomes, does a trump b? Is it better to post regularly about whatever randomness floats through your head (butter beans! Scissors! Lee Iacocca!) in order to have regular postings or should one keep the focus of one's blog narrow and tight in order to hold on to one's hard-won audience?

And while it seems as thought I splatter just about anything in these pages, this isn't my only blog. This is more about what I'm creating in the moment, minus a whole bunch of process blather. I mean, really--how many shots of one knitted square at a time are you willing to sit through? Do you really need bit by bit ATC assemblage musing?

I note, though, that the blogs I actually READ are more about one little slice of the author's life, where our interests intersect. I know Fleegle spends time in Japan as an embroidery student in addition to her knitting, but I couldn't tell you the names of her kids. 37 Days's author doesn't talk about her hobbies, and the only way I know what she does for a living is in the context of the retreats she holds once a year.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Second Review

Spending a year with the Groundhog Resolutions system of David Shea's (see the posts for March 3 and February 2, 2008 if you want a review). Essentially, you make your New Years' resolutions on the second of February, then review your progress once a month, on March 3, April 4, May 5 etc. Mine were:

1. I will not beat myself up for falling short of perfection with respect to this list.

2. I will complete 9 knitted projects this year.

3. I will complete three spreads per month in the art journal.

And boy, I'm glad I made number 1 a priority.

Not only am I late with the April review, I'm not making progress with respect to the rest of the list. I'm wondering if this is more than I'm willing to take on, given the rest of what I do. (I work out 5-6 days per week; I write a 55 word story each day; I post here once a week. I refill the well with words others have written. I take on projects to enliven my world.)

I know that my muse tends to wander off when I work a creative job for my livelihood. She doesn't care for the spotlight. She wilts in the heat, and the "fun job" becomes just like any other job. The joy of creating gets sucked out, leaving a rattling husk.

I've been knitting and knitting and knitting like a fiend on two projects--a blanket for Linus and a shawl for me. The Linus binkie is nearly complete--technically finished, even--but it needs a border. It's been nagging me for a border since it was about half-through. Fine. I'll knit the border on because I can't let it go without. I'll know it's really only half-done.

The shawl is sooooo very nearly done I can taste it. I have about 20 more repeats of the big edging to do, and 2-3 rows along the hypotenuse, and we're through. That's essentially another day's work, so I may very well post two porjects for April, which would put me neatly back in the running for nine knitted projects this year.

I thought about picking up socks for the rest of 2008, I really did. I could bang out my nine projects easily. However, the amount of stash consumed would be negligible, and that's really what it's about for me. Making stuff from the stuff I bought to make stuff with. That's what matters to me now.

And, of course, making stuff takes time. I'm not slacking on the knitting front.

I am, however, slacking on the art journal front. Part of it, I suppose, is that I'm working in images only, working fairly slowly, and working to make complete pieces without any journalling. I've struggled to keep to fewer than 10 words per spread.

The result? I have not done any art journal work since mid-March.

No wonder. It's hard to dance when you've shot yourself in both feet.

So . . . what can I do?

I can finish out this section, doing a little at a time--maybe even the timer system that has worked for me in the past. (Set a timer for one hour, and knit. Set it again, and do paper arts. Set it again, and read the current novel. Lather, rinse, repeat.) Given how achy my neck and back are from sitting and knitting and reading charts (that's what really kills me, turning to read and leaning to move the row marker, and repeating every few stitches and every row) that may well be a good choice for next weekend.

Once this section is done, I can change to doing single sheets rather than spreads. I can use the same technique as far as binding is concerned, where I do one section at a time and knot them together at the end, but I can work on one page at a time. I certainly can also give myself premission to journal or doodle in the blank spaces, and just work to create a single focal point to work around.

All it has to please is me, after all.

See you in May!