Monday, December 29, 2008


The past week has been a blur, from the mid-blizzard arrival of my family from CA to figuring out how to remove glued-on play dough from the carpet. We made cookies from scratch, a phrase I had to explain to my 8-year old niece who thinks making cookies means opening a package and slicing. We made all sorts of crafts, including one bikini-clad felt snowman (courtesy of my 6-year old niece). There was one birthday party at a roller rink, which caused me to have my own middle-school flashbacks as I watched my nephew goof off with his friends, while he kept one eye on the pretty girl with long black hair and big brown eyes that he secretly admires. And there was a long visit with S., which I enjoyed immensely - not the least of which because I finally got to hear some of his new music (which, by the way, is fantastic).

There was no writing to speak of, but much thinking and conversation about art and all of its various forms. Some of this has been spurred by my friend K.’s recent gallery show, and her “tagging” me to do the same with my own little art quilts. Tempting. I mean, really tempting, and S.’s encouragement (insistence, really) that this is something I should at least try…well, it’s hard to say no. And it’s not like it requires investment, beyond the time and possible framing of the pieces; I have enough fabric to last YEARS and a sewing machine (although most of what I do is by hand). Driving home, I convinced myself that this was in fact something worth doing, and even if I fail I’ll at least have a stack of Christmas gifts to give people for the next few years.

And so, giddy with thoughts of becoming an Artist, I curled up with my stack of Quilting Arts magazines last night…and promptly got discouraged. An all too familiar feeling, my friends, and my giddiness quickly evaporated into thoughts of “who do I think I am, anyway?!”. *sigh* I think the antidote to this is another few glue-and-scissors sessions with my 6-year old niece, who attacks her art projects with a fascinating combination of determination, planning, and utter gleeful abandon (“look what I made!”). There are mishaps (like the aforementioned play dough and glue fiasco), but she’s never really troubled by them - scotch tape can work miracles, and if all else fails there’s always something else to be made.

Regardless, I worry this is yet another distraction from writing. As my knitting continues unabated, and my dad’s offer of borrowing his guitar entices me, the last thing I need is another distraction, another sucker-of-time away from sticking my butt in the chair and writing. Which, by the way, is exactly what I must sign off to do!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Only God Is Perfect (or, what NOT to do when knitting a scarf)

This summer I bought two skeins of a nice wool/alpaca/silk blend of Auracania yarn to make a scarf. I've used Auracania before, and it's a little tricky because there are no dye lots and so the same color yarn can be, well, not the same color! You are supposed to knit from two skeins at a time to help blend, but at the time I didn't know how to do this (I have since learned via knitting my Noro scarf, and of course it's hardly rocket science). But in my typical "oh, screw it and let's see what happens" fashion, I just cast on with one skein, and then when that ran out I added the other one. And, as you can see, it was VASTLY different than the first - much more blue than purple! So, I knit half the scarf length on one end, then picked up and knit on the other end. Honestly, when it's wound around my neck you can't really tell...or at least, that's what people are saying to me when I point it out (all non-knitters, know a knitter would grimace!). By all rights, I should rip it out and reknit it, but I have utterly no intentions of doing so, if for no other reason than it is incredibly warm and I wear it too much to not have it for a few days.

And Then There Was Knitting...

These are making me very happy right now, even if they are already getting fuzzy...the ribbing on the cuffs was done in a knit-one-through-the-back / purl pattern that looks really neat up close. And they are WAY warmer than the old store-bought gloves I was wearing!

Still on the needles? Three (different) socks; a Noro striped scarf (my first use of Noro and honestly? not loving it); plus a sweater and an afghan. Startitis? Me? Ha! And so I dragged out an old quilt top that I found and started quilting it...I had a little help:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Darkness and Light

Winter is nearly upon us, something I have been anticipating since September. As in years past, I spent the entire fall season moping about, mourning the departure of evening sunshine and dreading the November sunsets at 4:30 pm. Once the winter solstice kicks in on December 21st (give or take a day), the days start inching towards the light and I begin to feel the faintest twinges of relief. Each extra second of light is anticipated and appreciated.

In the Christian tradition, the season of Advent is all about a similar anticipation – in this case, the spiritual “light” embodied in the birth of the Christ child. Mostly all I remember from Sunday school (other than the cold wooden church pews…) are my feeble attempts at singing harmony in the choir and getting to light the Advent candles, adding one each week. It all culminated in a Christmas Eve service, with the church packed to the rafters and the lights dimmed, all of us holding tiny white candles and singing “Silent Night” and “Let Their Be Peace On Earth”. Afterwards we would all walk outside, with the stars above blazing in the freezing cold air as the snow scrunched below our feet. It was the one time of year that I went to church and actually felt like I’d had some semblance of a religious experience. Whether it was the service or the singing or the brightness of the stars, I felt part of something bigger, something meaningful; the world seem to get quiet and just, for a tiny spec of time, stop turning.

One of my favorite songs as a child was “This Little Light Of Mine” (I’m gonna let it shine…let it shine…let it shine). Unlike many of my peers, I had utterly no qualms about standing up in front of the congregation and singing loudly (if, um, slightly off key). Those Christmas Eve candles always made me think of this song - each of us carrying a representation of the light that resides within us. Many years later, while living in Memphis, I attended a fabulous church where, one day, the minister delivered a sermon on the concept of “Imago Dei”, quoting "This Little Light Of Mine" as a metaphor for how the light of God resides in all of us. She went on to say that really, this light represents all of our potential, and suggested that perhaps not reaching that potential or settling for second best is really the worst sin of all.

While I'm not the most religious person, I do go through phases of wanting God in my life - usually when things are completely falling apart, and prayers sound more like wish lists than divine communications. Lately I've been feeling like my light has been flickering, possibly even extinguished altogether, and that not only am I not living up to my potential, I don't even know what my potential is. God hasn’t really been all that present, despite all the praying I’ve done, and I’ve watched not just myself but people I dearly care for struggle with their own dark times.

And so, even though I am entering the Advent season with a lack of faith I find disturbing (paraphrasing Darth Vader there...), I want to believe that faith begins in these dark times, when there is nothing to hold onto but the promise of light. I want capital-F Faith under my tree this year, dammit!