home, -ish

We moved! With no disasters. The cats were incredibly good.

IMG_4892.jpgOverlooking a La Quinta parking lot, I can’t remember which one.

We got here and had three snowstorms in March to welcome me back to true winter.IMG_5014

But eventually things have changed from looking like this:B7979491-54E9-4246-A373-96D0788D6052 (1)

To looking more like this:IMG_5164.jpg

And this:IMG_5200

And this:IMG_5190

This is what spring looked like when I was growing up. It’s very strange both to remember this landscape, because it was my default for so many years, and to find it completely unfamiliar, because it has been so removed from my reality for so many years.

In any case, we made it. And I have been knitting – as soon as we got here, I had to start making a hat, because it was really REALLY cold, and I had foolishly packed all my handknits to go on the moving truck, which took about a week to reach us. So I’ll show you those soon. Until then, have a birch tree.IMG_5118

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Coming up for air

I spent last week (and the weekend before it) absolutely swamped, and spent the weekend trying to become human again. The husband and I went outside tonight and sat on the curb to watch the moon go red, and that was pretty helpful.

Of course, since my only camera is my iPhone, the best picture I have of the eclipse itself looks like this: 

But I remember it, which is what matters. 

No more photographically ept, but maybe a bit prettier, was the beginning of the eclipse:  

    

In any case, it was a nice quiet moment, sitting on the warm curb, watching the sky, seeing the stars grow brighter as the moon grew dim, hearing kids running around the arroyo while their parents marked the movements of the heavens. 

incomplete [originally written November 3, 2014]

Collectively, knitters seem to believe one of the worst parts of any project is finishing it – particularly seaming something you’ve knit in pieces (people who like seaming usually confess this with some degree of embarrassment). I’ve reached the seaming stage at the first sweater I’ve knit that requires seaming, and I think there’s something else to the distaste: seaming is the point at which you finally determine once and for all whether the sweater’s going to 1) look and fit as you intended, and 2) look good on you or not. I think putting off seaming is putting off that moment of truth, when you have face whether your hunch that this sweater would look ADORABLE on you was correct.

Which is to say that my latest project is only partially seamed:

purple sweater

You can’t quite tell from this picture, but this is knit in a sort of huge cross shape, with the criss-cross open stitches in the center. Then you fold the sweater in half across the open stitches and sew up the sides – et voila, a sweater. I’ve seamed one side, then tried it on, and had two thoughts: “This looks…okay?”, and “The neck needs to be bigger.” I started picking apart the bind-off around the neck, which was going reallllly sloooooowwwly – and then stuffed it in its project bag and started something new.

I will finish it. I WANT to finish it. But maybe not right this moment.

purple sweater shoulder

(For the record, it’s the Lea pullover from the Summer 2014 Knitscene, and it’s an easy and lovely pattern [I found the drop-stitch criss-crosses tedious, but then, I find anything more complex than stockinette tedious].  And the recommended yarn, Classic Elite’s Firefly, blocks out into a lovely cool drapey fabric. The wrinkles in the picture are just from me stuffing it back in its project bag – it washes up very nicely.)

Now, if you knit a sweater in the round, you don’t generally have to seam it at all. And if you knit in-the-round from the top down, you can try it on as you go. You may not get a completely accurate assessment of how well it fits you, since most yarns are a little different after you wash them, and so if you use unwashed/blocked yarn to assess size, you’re not going to get the most accurate results. But the plus of trying on as you go is that you largely avoid that fatal moment of “so THAT’s what this looks like!”

So, for instance, there’s this:

green sweater 1

Knitting this was less of a leap of faith than knitting the sweater above. You start at the top with the shoulders, knit down through the body, then add the sleeves and the collar (can’t remember which order I did them in). You see the sweater taking shape bit by bit as you knit, rather than in one fell swoop at the end when you assemble. So there is no great reveal at the end, which is maybe why this sweater is complete, and just waiting for cooler weather (to the extent we get cool weather here).

* * * *

Knitting is my current free-time obsession. It’s an extremely zen occupation, except when it’s not, when there’s quite a lot of cursing. It’s a little bit like music, in that it’s physical without being exercies, requires pleasant concentration, and is completely different from what I do for a living. It’s pretty much how I’ve been spending my time, in the time that I haven’t been posting here.

I’ve spent most of my blogging time writing about negotiating a work identity, in part because I never had any real boundary between work and life. But now, I’m trying really hard to keep work and home separate. In my current job, I have worked at home, but not very often; I work late, and sometimes I work on the weekends. But I would rather stay late at the office or go in on the weekend than bring work home these days. And I would rather not think about or worry about or puzzle over work unless I’m at work.

So instead, today I’ve offered you observations about what happens when you manipulate pretty string with sticks.

Edit, March 1, 2015: I actually ended up frogging the purple sweater. I loved the fabric and the basic shape, but the drop stitches ended up looked messier than works for my personal style, and I didn’t like that I had to wear a tank or the like underneath it. The sweater has had its revenge, though – either the front or the back refuses to rip back like a sensible piece of knitting, and I’ve been forced to pick the stitches out almost one by one. The resulting yarn has tangled itself into an indomitable snarl, which I’ve shoved in a ziploc for some future reckoning. 

weekend update [originally written October 8, 2012, in another desert state]

I don’t buy the idea that people from the east coast are brasher, ruder, more arrogant than people from other parts of the country. (I think it’s just different communication styles/expectations.) But if it were true that east coast people are more arrogant than west coast people, I’d be tempted to blame the landscape.

Saturday I drove to the northern part of my state for a fiber festival (hey, I’m a yarn geek). Towards the end of the drive, you wind through some mountain passes, following the bends of a river, and then start climbing up and up. Then you come to the top of the peak, and a vast green plain opens up before you. It’s ringed with mountains – and I mean, mountains; there are, ostensibly, mountains where I went to college, for instance, but these look completely different. And dividing the plain is a huge crack in the earth, a jagged brown gorge ripping through the green.

I felt very, very small. Not in a bad way. But small.

The northeast is beautiful, and grand, but on a more human scale. And in the built-up cities, what towers above you is an artificial landscape made by humans.

The west just seems to put you in a completely different relation to the universe.

* * * * *

The fiber festival was fun – it’s always neat to be surrounded by beautiful yarn, and fleeces, and wool and leather products. There were alpaca, and fluffy angora bunnies who looked used to being waited on hand and foot. It’s also a highly feminized space, without being about beauty or fashion or other things relating to one’s looks. (I was going to say “or shopping,” but at least it’s shopping for the raw materials from which to make things. It’s consumerism, but consumerism that facilitates beautiful craftwork. Or even half-assed and not very attractive craftwork, but still something productive. Well, okay, most knitters I know have ridiculous stashes of yarn, but still, the potential for production is there.) Also, there are a lot of older women. Really, it’s very different from the average media portrayal of women, which is quite lovely.

* * * *

The town is beautiful – historic, artistic, physically gorgeous. But it was a little jarring to drive through some very impoverished parts of the state, including lots of Indian country, passing lots of little beat-up towns with rickety mobile homes – and then land in this middle of this highly touristic, precious little town filled with wealthy older white people. I mean, I’m white, and in the grand scheme of the world, I’m not badly off, and soon enough I will be one of these people. I’m not saying they’re bad people. Just that it was jarring.

* * * *

The trip left me a little torn, actually. One way of looking at it is: I drove 5 hours to spend 3 hours looking at things to buy, and I spent $30 on a (large) skein of yarn, when I could have driven 10 minutes to the yarn store nearby and bought the same amount of yarn for probably less money.

Of course, the other way of looking at it is: I got to see quite a bit more of this state, I did something with my weekend besides sit and stare at the TV or the computer or both, I mingled with other people who love the same hobby that I do, and I commemorated the day with lovely yarn dyed by a local/regional dyer whose products aren’t sold in your average yarn store.

(It is awfully pretty yarn – see? Though LDH was like, “Oh, it’s purple – I’m SHOCKED.” I kind of have a thing for purple yarns.)

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* * * *

So, that was my adventure for the weekend. What about you? Did you do anything fun?

What the end of winter looks like in the desert, take 2

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So, I don’t really know anything about photography, and I don’t have a decent camera – in fact, all I have is an iPhone. But there are lots of pretty flowers in the desert, and the above are the results of me practicing the cheap trick of close focus with blurry background. (The second picture is more just blurry, but I kind of liked that it looked kind of windy, because it was.) I promise not to just photo dump here, but I’m really enjoying trying to make my photos better. Believe me, there’s nowhere near to go but up. Maybe someday soon I’ll even get a camera so I can see what pictures I’m taking when I take them!