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 . . .


Judy H in NC said...

But hey, at least you try. Too often too many of us don't even try. So what if your art this time out looks like the dog's breakfast. And if the charting isn't going to well, at least you are charting your own work.

Ok, I'll go back to cleaning house now....we are out there for you.

Helen said...

NOW I understand ...
If only I'd known that depression is just part of the life of an artist, I'd likely have been less depressed and have been able to avoid blaming myself for doing something wrong to make myself feel that way.
You'd have thought that I'd have gotten a clue when I wrote the BEST poetry when blue.
But excellent quote. One I need to share with other family members...
Meanwhile, your plans only look like dog's breakfast to you.... you have higher standards for yourself than you do for others. It comes with the Artist territory. It's why I don't do that many swaps anymore... I spend too much time worrying that I won't stack up...