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Monday, September 28, 2009

Going Around in Circles

AKA Spinning

In her page-a-day calendar, the Yarn Harlot wrote that Gandhi thought that every person should spin yarn for 30 minutes a day. He “believed that the practice of quiet, structured, peaceful work would promote those same qualities in the people who did it”.

I spent a good portion of my summer wanting to learn how spin, which was problematic, since there aren’t any local yarn stores near me that carry spinning supplies, or teach spinning classes. So I was pleasantly surprised while in Colorado to stumble upon a yarn store named “Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins.”

There, I met the very kind Maggie Casey, author of the very helpful book “Start Spinning”, which has been my guide on my spinning expedition. Once I explained that I was interested in learning to spin (and was allergic to wool), Maggie grabbed a handful of plant fibre, a wooden drop spindle, and sat me down for a lesson in spinning 101. I left the store happily caring a bag of Alpaca fibre (already prepared into roving), and a Schacht Spindle, made locally in Boulder, Colorado.

I then followed Yarn Harlot's example of setting aside one day a week for spinning (her day is Tuesday, mine is Sunday – I like the alliteration “Spinning on Sunday”. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It took me awhile to control how many fibres were in my drafting triangle, which effects how thick the yarn is. I became better as I progressed, and ending up un-spinning and then re-spinning my earlier attempts. I also sometimes had the fibre break off when I spun it too thin, causing my spindle to come crashing to the ground (maybe that’s why it’s called a drop spindle?)

But even while struggling, I began to understand what Gandhi meant. Spinning was, well calming. And creative. It was the act of taking useless fibre and binding it together into something useful. Creating order from chaos. Reverse entropy.

Maybe it sounds like I’m exaggerating or romanticizing, but that is truly how it feels, at least to me, to spin. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. You can borrow my book.

Anyways, after all my trial and error, I have,  finally, produced…yarn!

Yes, it’s lumpy, and its gauge changes every six inches or so (which should make for some pretty interesting knitting), but its yarn. Honest to goodness yarn.

P.S. The yarn is actually black. I don’t know why it looks brown.

P.P.S. I learned how to wind a centre pull ball here, which I think is one of the best knitting tricks I’ve ever learned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Underwater Eagles and Fuzzy Skies

This weekend John Antonio came down for a visit. Since we both like rollercoasters, we went to Sea World to check out their new coaster, Manta. Manta is a flying coaster, which means you’re parallel to the ground the whole time. Talk about a head rush! The lift up is terrifying from the front row, and the first drop leaves you feeling like you’re going to fly out of your chair. I wouldn’t recommend the back row unless you have a tough stomach.

The line for Manta is really cool, with underwater views of tanks filled with the ride’s namesake, manta and stingrays. I’d never realized how graceful these creatures are. One variety, I was pleased to note, was called the Eagle Ray. It’s well named. Rays swim through the water like birds fly through the air, flapping their wings for a bit, then spreading them out and coasting.

The rest of my visit with John was nice, though short.

In other news, today I got some lovely spinning fibre that I’ve been eagerly waiting for. The fibre came for “Twist of Fate”.

“Easter Bunny” Hand Dyed Alpaca (to be spun for a special friend-or maybe friends if I can spin fine enough)

I was pleasantly surprised to find not only the fibre I’d ordered, but a nice, handwritten thank you not in the package, and a free sample of another fibre:

“O” My, 100% organic hand dyed wool. (It’s colour reminds me of a cloudy sky on a sunny day, and I love it so much I might have to try spinning it even though I’m allergic to wool)

Well, that’s it for today! I hope you all have had a good week!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Cheat

So, it's 11:00, I'm getting ready for bed, and I realize I've forgotten to post! (In my defense, I did post twice last week). And so, I'll have to cheat, and post something I wrote about two years ago. It's based on true events, and I'll give bonus points to any one who can identify which character is me.

The Bug: A Play in two (short) Acts
Roommate 1
Roommate 2
Roommate 3
Large Roach (to be played by himself)
Act 1
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Enter Large Roach, unnoticed on the ceiling, crossing from stage right to stage left.
R2: There’s a lot of cheese in this packet.
R1: Yeah. I was thinking about not using all of it.
R2: When I was little, I called this fake macaroni. It was only “real” macaroni if you grated your own cheese.
R1: I did the same thing. It was real if my mom made it.
R2: How—sees LR and cuts off
R1: How what? follows R1’s gaze and sees LR, now crossing above stove top. R2 quickly covers pot of noodles.
R2: Quick…we need a broom or something! This exclamation is followed by a short moment of desperation as R1 and R2 realize there is not, in fact, a broom in the apartment. Someone get a shoe!
R3 enters downstage right holding a flip-flop R3: Oh no! How did it get in here?
R1: I guess it got in under the door. All stare dramatically at the door, as if expecting an army of roaches to force their way in.
R2: Here, give me the shoe. I’ll see if I can get him.
R3: Careful.
R1: Don’t knock him into the food!
R2 makes several unsuccessful attempts to hit Large Roach. She stops. R2: I can’t hit it. I’m too short.
R1: Let me try. Takes flip-flop and tries to hit LR, equally unsuccessful. Crosses downstage and grabs a stool. Standing on stool, she hits LR. LR falls onto top of cabinets. R1 climbs on counter to look for him. I can’t see him!
R2: There’s a squish mark on the ceiling. He’s probably fatally wounded.
R3: I agree.
R1: Well, that was exciting.
R2 and R3: Sure was!
R3 exits. R1 and R2 resume original positions, and continue discussion on “real” versus “fake” macaroni. Unbeknownst to them, however, Large Roach, has rolled himself back onto his (now) 5 legs.

Act 2:
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Unnoticed, Large Roach climbs up the wall behind the cabinets and precedes to cross the ceiling from stage left to stage right
R1: What kind of cheese do you use when you make macaroni?
R2: Cheddar. But at home we—uh-oh. R2 once again breaks off to stare at LR on the ceiling
R1: Oh no, not again! Is that the same one?
R2: I think so. He’s missing a leg.
enter R3, downstage right R3: What’s wrong?
R1: I think we’re going to need your shoe again.
R3 exits. R1 and R2 continue to stare at LR, transfixed by the horror of it all. R3 returns with same flip-flop. R3: I guess I’ll try to get this time.
R1: Try to get it at an angle so it doesn’t fall on you.
R3 shudders at the thought, but resolutely grips the flip-flop
R3: Okay, here it goes! R3 takes a step back and throws flip-flop at LR. LR is hit, and all three yell and jump back as he loses his grip on the ceiling. LR, however, is very determined, and, hanging only by one leg, manages to pull his other (4) legs back up.
R1: You got him!
R2: Try again!
R3 throws flip-flop a second time. Once again, LR is hit, but still manages to tenaciously hold onto the ceiling. All three yell and jump back (again.)
R1: That was really close.
R3: Okay- one more time. R3 throws flip-flop. LR is hit. Exhausted from the previous attacks, he loses his grip and falls, landing on his back. He desperately waves his 5 legs around. All three yell and jump back (at least there was a good reason to this time).
R1: Well, he’s off the ceiling now.
R3: I’m not squishing it.
All three stare at LR, who continues to wave his legs in the air. R1 and R3 look up after a moment and stare at R2. R2 notices their stares and sighs. R2: Fine. Give me the shoe. R2 raises the shoe and brings it down on LR with a rather anti-climatic “squish”.
R1 and R3: Ewww.
R2: looking at shoe I’m not cleaning this. Hands shoe to R3, who holds it tentatively between her thumb and forefinger. This is followed by a moment of silence as all three regard the now dead LR with mixed emotions. 
R1: Someone needs to clean this up.
R3: Not me!
R1 and R3 stare at R2. Wordlessly, R2 crosses downstage and retrieves a paper towel. She crosses back and lays the paper towel over LR. Careful not to get roach guts on her hand, R2 scoops up LR’s remains and deposits them in the trashcan located at stage right. All three give relieved sighs

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I Remember

I was in 3rd period math when I heard about the attack on the World Trade Centers. An my thoughts immediately went to my cousin, N., who was 9 months pregnant at the time. Her husband, S., worked at the WTC.  I called my Mom at worked, and before I could say anything, she said, "S. is okay." There aren't really words for the relief I felt.

But what I remember most that day was feeling very, very, alone. Something about 9-11 moved me in a way I can't explain, and my reaction to it surprised even me.

I wrote. Almost everyday for a year I wrote about 9-11, my reactions, and the reactions of those around me.

And I read. I read the newspaper, and I cut out the pictures, headlines and articles. Some were positive reactions, some were negative, but I tried to collect a range of them. And I thought today I'd share some of what I collected.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Unfinished Business

Oh, Rats!

Hey! Look what I found...a UFO! (Un-Finished Object):

I found it while organizing my yarn stash, which, while not having hit SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), was getting enough out of hand that keeping it all stacked together in a laundry hamper was no long a viable option.

Here's (the small, organized part of) my stash:

And another picture I call "Optimism": (I even labeled the drawers. Who do I think I'm fooling?)

And finally, some pictures of Knit and Purl (Knit is the gray one):

Hey! We were sleeping!

Do cameras taste good?

Can I come out, please?

Camera Shy

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somewhere in Between

There are a lot of “in-betweens” in life. There’s “in-between” jobs, “in-between” places, and “in-between times”. And perhaps the most “in-between” of all, the time between childhood and adulthood. And smack down in the middle of that transition period is Middle School.

Admittedly, High School, and to a lesser extent, college, are a part of that transition, yet I always felt that there was a definitely a leaning towards adulthood during those parts of my life.

But in Middle School there was no sense of leaning one way or another, no sense of movement. It was a stagnant period in life when I was neither one thing nor the other. Neither child, nor adult, nor moving towards one or the other. And I will openly admit I hated Middle School. It was the worse three years of my life. And so, when I got a job this year as a part-time tutor at a Middle School, I was a bit apprehensive. How was I going to relate to students that were in a stage of life I’d tried my best to forget?

It turns out my fears were un-founded, and the students answered that question for me. I’ve come to have a new appreciation for what seemed to me a stagnant period in my life. I’ve discovered the beauty of this strange transition period, where you have come to realize that the world can be a hard place to live, but have yet to let go of childhood dreams.

Many of my students come from rough backgrounds and one-parent homes. Their families struggle to make ends meet, and they deal with the anger they feel towards the adults in their lives who have let them down. They have none of the naïveté of childhood. Their world is rough, and sometimes cruel. But they have not left childhood completely. They still dream big, and seek wonder and beauty.
I’ve met students who want to be poets, actors, and of course professional sports players. Others want to be doctors, lawyers, and nurses. And if asked why, not one of them will say it’s because of the money. They want to do what they love, or to help other people. It’s a kind of innocence of motivation, one that is all too often lost as we age.

And while my heart breaks at some of the glimpses I’ve had into my students’ lives, at the same time, I’m filled with the hope of their dreams. And if I could choose one thing for them to learn from me, if I could pick the one lesson I hope stays with them, it’s to keep that “innocence of motivation”. To pursue a vocation, a calling, not a career. And to believe that the darkness in their world is not all there is. That is what they have right now, in this in-between time in their lives. A loss of naïveté, without a loss of hopefulness. And I pray that never changes.