2014 Yarn Crawl

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It’s not the first time I’ve been into something – how should I say this? – different.

When I was little, I loved the pioneers. I learned everything possible about Laura Ingalls and the Oregon Trail, and I was convinced that I would have an electricity-free farm when I grew up. (That dream’s morphed a little, thank goodness.)

I had chickens before it was cool.

I wore leggings LONG before it was cool. (Imagine this: black stirrup pants over white socks and an assortment of sneakers. Pretty hot.)

These days, what I’m into still gets a little flack. Teasing from various gentlemen who don’t know the joys of a warm sweater knit with love. I’ve been called a hipster for knitting, to which I respond:

Please, I’ve been doing this since I was five, WAY before it was the hipster thing to do.

That of course seems to solidify said-hipsterness. I do not understand how to combat this problem.

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Last fall, my friend M and I went to a Fiber Festival. No, it was not a warehouse full of various digestion-boosting devices, small group friends. It was a warehouse full of yarn and yarn potentials. There was sheep, alpaca, bison, hemp, you name it. There were more colors than you could imagine, and there was undyed roving waiting to be made into art (roving is the clean, un-spun wool).

M bought me a drop spindle and some roving to get me started. I’ve wanted to spin since I saw a woman doing it in the sheep barn at the fair. Since getting my gift, I’ve attempted it a few times, sitting on the couch in front of my family and nearly hurling the innocent spindle across the room. I think I need to sign up for a class…

Despite my frustrations with the drop spindle, that festival got us addicted to yarn extravaganzas. Yesterday, we donned our best-knit pieces and trekked out on the Fifth Annual Yarn Crawl.

What’s a yarn crawl?

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A yarn crawl is a weekend-long event where the shops in the area have special deals. You get a “passport,” and at each shop you get a stamp which enters you to win a raffle. (One prize was a beautiful afghan pattern and all the yarn to go with it. MUST HAVE IT.) We had seven shops to descend upon, so we made a route, starting up north and ending near the sea. I went with my ravelry pattern in hand, a few ideas in my head, but really, the yarn world was my oyster.

[If you haven’t checked out ravelry.com yet, do it. So many patterns, so many ideas. Lots of free stuff.]

We started the trip off right with chai tea lattes and a 50%-off rack.

After a full day of crawling, this is what I came home with:

photo 5I could’ve bought a lot more. I was restraining myself. I admire M’s wisdom when she says:

There are some things I will not feel bad about spending money on: books and yarn.

I would add tea and coffee to that list, but that’s me.

We talked about how “good thing people we know are having babies so we have more opportunities to make cute things.”

Get crackin’, people, so I can get knittin’.

This is my next project. I am working under the assumption that my dear friend never reads this blog and will therefore still be surprised when she opens it for the darling.

photo 2If she does for some reason see this post, pretend, by all means.



Good Things #23

Mulligans. I am extremely thankful for mulligans. No, I don’t mean these in strictly the golf-sense, as I have no intention of taking up golf. I’m thinking of two things at the moment:

1. Knitting. I take so many redos in knitting it’s ridiculous. I started a scarf for a friend – I found a pattern on ravelry.com (another good thing, just wait for it!), and I was so excited. And then I looked at it. And it was terrible. I ripped it all out and started over, this time with the same pattern but larger needles. Maybe I’m a tight knitter? I’ve always thought one’s knitting style might be a disturbing look at one’s psyche…stressed? anxious? uptight? So, I’m grateful for knitting mulligans because the new scarf is looking much better.

2. Teaching. I am so grateful that my students give me redos. We’re working on passive and active sentences in Latin, and there was one class where I thought I was explaining it well, but I saw the look in their eyes. I couldn’t seem to reword my explanations; I was too tongue-tied to unravel it. But the next day? We started over, went step by step, slowed it down, and worked it out. They’re ready for their test and I’m proud to say they can define the functions of the subject in both active and passive sentences. Ablative of agent, anyone? I’m grateful for teaching mulligans.

Music. If you were one of my students, I might make you listen to this while taking a test. It’s interesting – I would be totally distracted if a teacher played this while I took a test BUT THEY LOVE IT. It’s weird. Maybe it makes them feel smart? I probably should be playing Bach (isn’t Baroque the music for geniuses?). Oh well. Vivaldi’s not bad.

Swiss visitors. Monday night I got a surprise phone call – my friend who’s been living in Switzerland for the past year and half was calling to see if I wanted to go for a walk. Of course I dropped everything to walk with her and our good friend in the dark. We took the new puppy to the graveyard (ignoring, of course, the “No Dogs” sign) and talked about all manner of things. Soon she’ll be returning to L’Abri and all that I found there, but for now she’s stateside and it’s lovely.

Knitting Club

A few weeks ago, I was ambushed by a friend at work. She emailed me with a plea to teach something – anything, really – as an after-school activity.

I thought, This could be fun! Maybe a knitting class?

Yes, knitting.

So I signed up to teach a four-week knitting class to five sixth-grade girls.

I think I forgot what it was like to be a sixth-grade girl. 

It became pretty apparent during that first class that these girls had big personalities. One, the ring-leader, is obsessed with “winning,” with being “the best,” and is a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I sat and listened to her talk, and I felt an immediate sense of dislike and understanding. So much of my time was wasted on that same feeling. I wanted to fast-forward to when this little girl would not longer feel like she had to knit perfectly the first time, tell me all the things she was good at, or explain why her grandma had more talent than I did.

Another of the girls is quieter, but just as diligent. She came to class with her wrist in a cast, but she was still determined to learn how to knit. She is by far the least talkative, but her eyes are always lit, always watching, and she’s the one with the quiet witty comments.

One girl is also bent on knitting the perfect scarf. I told them that it would take a long time to get good, that it took me months to make something, and even then there were often spots that weren’t perfect. But this girl asks me every few rows, “Does this look okay?”, and she even emailed me over the weekend for suggestions on what to do if she had too many stitches.

These girls are going to make very detailed leaders someday.

Or, perhaps, type-A moms.

Two of the girls are a little slower at picking it up. They hold their yarn too tightly, straining the fibers until they become untwisted. Their stitches are uneven, they add and subtract stitches at random, until the edges of the scarf are completely misshapen. They look at me with sad eyes, “Miss H, something happened.” (Although sometimes they call me “Magistra” because I’m also their Latin teacher by day.) I tell them to take a deep breath, that it can all be fixed. But they still get upset, still want to be perfect.

I am surprised at how difficult I find this class. They are all good girls. They all want to do well, to please me, to make something beautiful. But it’s hard for me to hear them, constantly trying to tell a better story, to shock the other girls with their own experiences, to show me that they are grown up.

I remember one of my mom’s friends telling me when I was little, “I had to grow up really quickly, Catherine. Don’t rush it. Be a kid as long as you can.”

I look at these girls and I want to say the same thing.

Just enjoy knitting. Enjoy chatting with each other on comfy pillows on the floor. Enjoy the fact that the hardest thing you have to do today is unravel an inch of uneven scarf.

But instead, I just smile and say, “It’s okay, I’ll fix it.”