Saturday, May 06, 2006


With all the spring fervor percolating lately, Madrigaia (Viva Voce) has found its way back into the CD rotation. This is an incredibly talented seven woman vocal / percussion group from Winnipeg. What I love about them is the voluptuous, raw womanly energy that permeates their songs - the very antithesis of insipid, male-created girly pop.

The album never fails to remind me of a pivotal experience in my sense of what it means to be a woman. It was a bridal shower, given by a patient of mine in honor of her eldest daughter. She was Syrian, a single mother and devout Muslim who had taken her children and fled for her life from a bad marriage. The majority of the guests were women who had immigrated from Pakistan, India, and other Aisian and Middle Eastern countries. These were not women with easy lives - many were my patients, and I had spent a great deal of time observing and working through the pain and isolation of cultural restrictions magnified by language barriers. Many had non-specific chronic pain conditions that I believe were their only viable means of expressing distress.

In that hall though, filled only with women, they seemed lighter - embracing, laughing - Sikh, Muslim, Hindu - there were no barriers. We shared a wonderful feast... and then the dancing began. I suppose it would properly be termed belly dancing, but it was not about costumes - it was spontaneous, unselfconscious, joyful, and thoroughly, vocally, loud. I was drawn into a sense of strength and community that I had never before experienced. My constricted, "escape oppression through achievement" idea of feminism had never entertained the possibility that being "womanly" could be anything but a state of socially imposed deficiency. I felt at once ashamed for having underestimated them, and tremendously privileged to be included in such a sisterhood. I began to see myself and the women I cared for with new eyes, and to celebrate things womanly. I began to see the tremendous creative power in childbirth, and the curvaceous beauty of milk filled breasts nourishing a child.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Today was the best sort of running day - warm, sunny, lightly breezy, and best of all, fragrant with spring. Through the fields where the warm earth cushions my feet, down to the creek bottom where pairs of geese glide serenely to and fro between ecstatic choirs of frogs. My favorite, though, is the green of the barely-new leaves, a miracle of painfully intense purity like new love and baby skin. It lasts only a few glorious days, before settling into multihued maturity, sobered by dust and insects and the tasks of bearing fruit. And like mature love and growing children, the foliage will be beautiful in a different way, but always there is that tiny pang of loss.

Junior Knits by Debbie Bliss arrived yesterday (along with one or two or.... um three others - did I mention I'm on a bit of a book buying bender?)

Perhaps ill advisedly, I elected to give my children some say in what I make for them next. "I want the purple one" said my daughter. "I want the blue one" said my son. End of story. "What about the darling Guernsey hoodie that I've been dying to knit for years?" "But it's white." "I can knit it in purple." "But I want the purple one." And so on. There's nothing wrong with the sweaters they chose, I was just hoping they'd explore their options, perhaps opt for something a little more challenging for me. Well, here they are.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

Little jars, drinking glasses, and anything else that will hold water are full of these at our house. Apart from the sad fact that they are virtually the only thing blooming at present, they remind me every year of the beauty that may be seen by the unjudging eyes of a child.

On a more knitterly note, and now that my order is safely placed, Yarn Forward is having a 25% off sale. I picked up some sock yarn, including the intriguing Step by Austermann - wool / nylon with aloe vera and jojoba oil. They claim it remains after 40 washes, and I'm thinking it can only be a good thing for hiking socks. A pair for me and a pair for hubby, I think.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It Arrived!

Knitting progress has temporarily stalled, as my copy of Knitting Rules arrived yesterday. Interestingly, despited being listed as "shipping in 1-3 months", it arrived before all the other knitting books I ordered at the same time that were listed as 24 hrs. Guess Amazon has their priorities straight! Aside from (not surprisingly) being terribly funny, it also contains one of my longtime fondest wishes - a recipe for a no frills, knit - to - fit sock. Thank-you Stephanie!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

To Steek or Not To Steek?

Day 2 (well, technically 3) of the Dulaan sweater, and rapidly approaching the armholes.

To steek or not to steek: that is the question:
Whether 'tis easier on the nerves to suffer
The flings and tangles of two color purling
Or to take scissors against a steek of stitches,
and by cutting, end them?

At this point, I will now admit to owning a copy of Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters and to having one of the ganseys knitted all the way up to about halfway through the steeks, though I haven't picked it up in a couple of months (ahem years) and am not entirely sure where the book is - possibly under the debris in my perpetually reorganizing studio or else in a box in the basement helpfully marked "miscellaneous" by the last set of movers.

However, I just found a brief description of the procedure in another knitting book, and really, how hard can it be? Plus I can't face flat knitting the back to match the front on a free spirited sweater of this nature.

Steeks it is.

Monday, May 01, 2006

One day's knitting

Here's the progress on the Dulaan sweater. The Briggs and Little is not the softest wool, but I think it will wear well, and the lanolin content will add to the weather resistence. Also the amount of Lopi carried on the reverse makes the effect considerably softer. This will be fun to post day by day, because I'm not sure myself how it's going to look in the end.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


I've checked the deadlines, pulled the yarns, and made the commitment: I'm going to knit a sweater for the Dulaan project. It will be an all wool, knit in the round (thank-you Jacqueline Fee), make it up as I go along, multicolored Fair Isle style (I love working with color this way), with Briggs and Little for the the background and my stash of Lopi Lett oddments for contrast (love love love the colorways of that yarn). That combination should be both warm and durable. I'll size it for my 6 year old daughter - firstly, because it's easier to have a live model in front of me when creating from scratch, and secondly, because my DD thinks the concept of knitting for a child halfway around the world who lacks adequate clothing is the coolest thing ever, and making it her size will be that much more personal. I've never knit for charity before - primarily because it has taken me more years than I care to think about to trust myself enough to finish things - especially something on a deadline for someone else. And because (to be brutally honest) I was stuck in a perfectionist gotta save the world in a big way to justify my existence mindset that disdained a single sweater as too small a contribution. Coming to terms with drastically scaling back my Important Healing Profession in order to attend to raising "just" my two children has forced me to think about making a difference in a whole new way.