Thursday, December 14, 2006

Scottish Monochrome

My KP order arrived yesterday:

Some DK merino for the hat version 2.0. I plan to knit this at a very tight gauge for warmth, as well as wind and water resistence - it is not uncommon to ride the lift on the bottom half of the mountain in pouring rain, especially early and late in the season.

Fingering weight for the mittens - the white is merino, the black is merino with a bit of silk. I am completely thrilled that Lorna is in the process of procuring the Sanquhar pattern leaflets from Edinburgh for me - what a marvelous thing this blog community is!

And one tiny little splurge snuck into the shopping cart: a couple of balls of Suri Dream for a soft snuggly neckwarmer.

It's an interesting thing, this business of giving up the comfortable income in return for more time to create (though unless the weekend goes exceptionally well I may be scuttling back to the salt mines in the New Year, but I'm trying to think happy thoughts...). Suddenly there is far less money for raw materials. But while I occasionally cast a longing eye at the scrumptious yarns floating around blogland, it is an excellent opportunity to connect with knitting's more traditional roots - taking ordinary, serviceable wool and using texture and pattern and ingenuity to create things of beauty. Not such a bad thing at all.

This week hasn't seen much knitting - mostly frantic polishing and tagging and boxing and preparing for the weekend. Today's task is to do a dry run of my display set-up - pictures tomorrow. The happy sweater is down to the last cuff, and eleventeen thousand ends to weave - with any luck I may have an FO for tomorrow as well!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Snowy Lichens

While poking around under a tree felled by a recent windstorm, it occurred to me that blue and red aren't the only colours that look handsome in a minimalist pairing with white. First iteration:

Much better:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Silent Night

One of my very favorite Christmas albums is Count Your Blessings, a (seemingly) unknown little gem recorded live at the Glenn Gould Theatre in 1993. The women (Holly Cole, Rebecca Jenkings, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Jane Siberry, and Victoria Williams) restore a sense of authentic, raw intimacy to carols that have become trite with commercial abuse over the years. Their rendition of Silent Night in particular, reduces me to helpless weeping - it is imbued with a womanly vulnerability that connects deeply with my own experience.

Christmas 1999. I was pregnant for the first time, and Rob was away for six months on a particularly nasty peacekeeping tour in East Timor, having been given a week's notice to sail. We found out we were pregnant three days before he left. I had come within a hair's breadth of miscarriage, my only contact with my husband was by email, the misogynist element in my workplace had ramped up his bullying by a considerable degree, and all in all, I was feeling more lonely and vulnerable than I ever had in my life.

Shortly before Christmas, it fell to me to assist with the delivery of a young woman with advanced HIV whose lifestyle and racial origins had relegated her to the outer margins of the marginalized in our (not entirely idyllic) community. The child was to be apprehended by Social Services shortly after birth, there were layers upon layers of waterproof barriers in place, and all the facts of the matter pointed only to sorrow and hardship and disease.

But the babe was beautiful - robust, alert, innocent, perfect - and there was still that moment - that magical moment where he came to rest on his mother's breast and their eyes met, and all her damage and torment and self-loathing fell away and she loved him as purely and truly as any mother on earth.

Later that evening, I attended a Christmas concert - symphony and choir and sing-along carols, and an auditorium filled with well-heeled "nice" folk. It was blandly pleasant enough, but somewhere in the middle of Silent Night, my own experience and the day's events coalesced and it was all I could do not to shout at the top of my lungs that we were completely missing the point.

The Story, at its root, is about the terrifying vulnerabity of an unwed woman in a patriarchal culture, pregnant by someone not her fiance, and in imminent danger of drastic marginalization or even death. The scene of radiant motherhood by the manger was preceded and followed by danger and uncertainty and darkness - its commemoration is poignant and beautiful for precisely that reason. Mary had far more in common with that young woman in hospital than with smiling facades of well-modulated upper middle class goodness.

How is it that "Christmas Spirit"- both religious and commercial - has come to be a sort of blandly generic form of cheeriness - shiny, plastic, and conflict free? The season has been polarized into the"fortunate ones," who have the money and energy to keep up the facade, and the "less fortunate" who receive their annual hamper of dutiful good cheer. The fact is that we all live with darkness in various forms, and it is no shame to acknowledge that.

If we did, perhaps we would also have less need to be territorial and defensive and fearfully correct about form and custom. We could simply be and notice and gratefully celebrate and share our moments of Light.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Busy Season

This weekend was the big push to get packages ready for mailing (sigh - I remember years when I've had them at the Post Office by October. I think those were non-moving years.) I couldn't resist getting a little creative with the wrapping, particularly since we don't have much room now to be storing leftover Christmas wrap.

The string bags are full of the cookies that Rob has diligently been making late at night for a month now. Since the gift baking is finally complete, we indulged in some of our own, and let the kids get in on the act.

Ah, the happy excess of childhood!

There was knitting too, but only a few forearm rounds on the Happy Sweater, which looks like it will make it all the way to the wrists, and with any luck will be done later in the week. The big push this week is preparations for showing my jewellery at a local artisan market on the 16th & 17th - polishing, printing, packaging and general fretting because it is my first fair/show/opportunity-to-be-rejected-live-and-in-person. Hopefully there will be a little knitting in there too, otherwise next week will be a full blown Christmas sweatshop (of the sort I promised myself I wouldn't allow because it is SO not Christmas spirit-ish, but.... live and learn.)

PS - DD just noticed that she was not included in the gingerbread photos and this is apparently Grievously Unfair, so:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Again With the White Death

So after Friday's little destructo-fest, Rob and I had a chat about the remaining stuff presently not jammed under shelter. The table and chairs (we originally harbored notions of winter barbecues in this mild coastal climate) appeared to be well beyond the avalanche zone, and in any case, the chairs were tipped up in such a way as to deflect any stray snowballs from the glass table top. Besides, the worst was over - the other section of roof had never dumped anything too big on the patio.

Guess we'll be rethinking that.