Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Brilliant Baby Surprise....

There's no disputing that last few weeks have been chock full of chaos - I've discerned that from the comments this condition is not unique to me. Realizing I may be challenging the authority of the powers of the universe in saying this (I am donning my protective shield against lightning strikes, karmic retribution, and other acts of 'you don't make the rules, sister surprise) the band of tightening stress does seem to be loosening around here. What brought on the change? Here's the perplexing part: See, I'm a 'fix it quick' sort of person. If there's a problem, let's jump in and get it fixed. An emergency? Hop to it is my motto. Discord that is entirely normal amongst the altogether common place conditions of people of various ages, stages of growth (or denial), and personal preferences trying to survive the game of life together? I'm on the job to jump in and fix that right up. Only, I really don't like for people to be angry with me - so I want to do it just the 'right' way all the time. You know, so that a house of two dogs, 2 cats, 2 teenagers, 1`8 yr. old, 1 40 yr. old and of course myself will all be happy and smiling ALL THE TIME. It's naive, I know, but if you didn't know that about me by now, I guess it was time. So, this mysterious thing that I finally figured out to do that would end all the craziness so that we could pull together and function like the team of fools innovative thinkers that we are? Get this, they want me to just NOT CARE. I mean, not entirely of course. Heh, they want me to care if they are hungry, or if they need someone to. But, they expect me to let them carry on senselessly arguing about games, life, the weather, who fed the dog yesterday, etc.etc.! I couldn't believe it. But, after last week, when they had me so thoroughly frothing at the mouth that I chose to crawl into my shell and just take some wise advice and take care of myself - they were happy. Like, they needed the exercise of establishing and re-establishing their territories. This feigning disinterest in the little day to day disagreements and frustrations of the average wacky American Family? I could definitely start practicing that - it freed up some valuable knitting time for sure!

So, for all of you who listened to my woes, who offered friendship and empathy - and most of all for those of you who saw what was needed and gave me the ole 'woman, take care of yourself and let what is just be what is' puppy shake, thank you. MWAHHH! For the record, I'm not into abusing puppies. A puppy shake is a term I learned back when I was interesting in training dogs (before I realized I had no spine with them, either, and one whimper would make me stop dead in my tracks and beg their forgiveness for my cold-hearted cruelty) from the New Skete monks. It makes infinite sense. If you watch any animal, be it dog or sheep, the mothers have some way that they communicate an emergency or strong command to their young. You know, the ewe will nudge them hard in the side of the neck as if to say, 'shut up, you fool, you don't bah in the dark of night with wolves abound'. The mother dog does this most bizarre thing - she grabs the scruff of the neck with her teeth gently enough not to bite but firm enough to shake the pup's head a hard one shake and she growls. This means,'don't chase a car EVER AGAIN' and, it works. That is why it is imperative that a dog trust you before you try to go for its neck and put on a restraint or collar. They understand that as an at of alpha behavior so they must first respect you as a mother or authoritative figure. You needed to know this, yes you did. That's why you came to a knitting blog, right?

Like every Cancerian I know, hard days only bring out the stubborn hard shell of the crab and survival becomes practical where it would usually be emotional for us summer babies. So, we think about things - ALOT. While I've been pondering the time and sanity that this 'new complacent me' will enjoy, I've been thinking about other things, too. Like the crossroads. In gypsy culture, the crossroads hold great promise - and terrible fear at the same time. It is a place wherein choices must not only be made, but from that point on, acted on. You can stand on the other side of it, forever, refusing to go forward, or just trudge on through and try to end up better for the experience. Yes, for me this IS complacency. Don't judge, at least I'm practically harmless. While I'm thinking about this crossroads, I needed to knit. And I've always wanted to knit an adult surprise jacket. As you know, I've had a sort of weird coming around to Elizabeth Zimmerman. I think I assumed, from reading her back when I first started knitting, that she was far too clever, intelligent, and superior a knitter for me to grasp what she was so clearly trying to teach. I blame it all on the Baby Surprise Sweater.

I totally get cheap thrills about the idea of knitting a sweater COMPLETELY without have to sew in sleeves, sew fronts to backs, add in collars. Truly, seaming just about makes me put things in my basket and forget them. This sweater has only two tiny sewn seams and it sat in my basket waiting for those and some buttons for over 3 weeks. Okay, for that, you can feel free to judge. So, this woman's mind just gets me all excited and her skill totally makes me whine and feel sorry for my sad state of knitterly wisdom. A long time ago, I read the BSJ pattern and it was the reason I ignored all EZ books for another 3-4 years. Here's someone, I thought, who would be ashamed of my boggled brain at trying to figure out how the heck this blob of yarn tangles becomes a cute baby sweater.

Years later, I re-read the pattern (and since then pretty much anything by EZ that I could get my paws on) again and was thoroughly ashamed of myself for missing the humility in her teachings, the eloquence combined with kindly friendship that she offered to her reader, and the fact that she knew I would be boggled at the lump of tangles and was totally okay with that.

baby surprise 017So, it was all simple enough. I wanted to make a not baby surprise jacket for myself but thought that her advice to knit a baby size first to help figure out the shaping to be utterly brilliant. I chose a yarn that no one else would pick for a baby. Pastels and 'eggshell' tones were never on my babies - we sported bright colors and earthy tones for boys and girls alike. This is a super dark 'deep woods' superwash dk. And, I started knitting. It was addictive. And then I started to cry. I don't really know how to explain it other than to say that I realized that, in so many ways, I am still in that mode of my mother/wife journey wherein I am trying to coo and comfort every woe without seeing that my job is to watch the woes and sufferings go on and offer the sane support and guidance that will help these THINGS grow into fully functioning, healthy adults. Yes, I presumed to call myself sane - can't ya'll cut me some slack just this once? I realized that I'm a little afraid of the days when they are grown and there's no interruptions for a conversation between me and hubster. Though I complain about that and have always THOUGHT I wanted it to not happen - I secretly fear the day when it won't....because the silence will mean we are alone. I have no fear of being alone with the man so please don't think I'm saying that....it's really just that the alone means that three people(whom I seem to be unable to stop seeing as my cuddly babes and start seeing as my nearly grown kids) will be gone. Pass the chocolate, please...

And, while some may want to throttle their local Cancerian for over-thinking EVERYTHING, there is no need. Firstly, they will throttle themselves for you. Secondly, they will refuse to suffer such agony without learning something from it. Sometimes, when we are afraid, it turns out that the catalyst for our fear is exactly the thing we need to face to move along down the path. I knew this baby surprise jacket was a powerfully brilliant design - but who knew it had so much more to teach me? I fumbled with the blob of tangles, fretted at how impossible it was to make it behave and become a jacket, and planned a little camping trip with the Things that I've been promising to take them on all of last winter. My baby days may be behind me and I do love babies so there's no denying that makes me frown. But, the days ahead are just as easily marked for moments that make a life fulfilling. I've seen a few of my good friends feel lost and alone at this stage of their life and I don't want to let my fear of the unknown and yet totally certain - that my kids will grow up and far faster than I am ready for, inhibit me from enjoying every stage of that journey.

I may have been drunk on that contagious tenacity that EZ exudes even these years after her life has ended. I could have possibly been swayed by her tender encouragement and absolute assurance that you can do whatever it is that you want or need to do, when I planned the trip and arranged to rent a canoe for the day so that we can paddle around the coves and shores of Acadia National Park. But, who cares, really? In times such as these, when we are all working so hard to make up for the increased costs in everything - I managed to plan a very affordable getaway that promises to be fun and challenging at the same time. And, for kids the ages of Things 1, 2, and 3 fun AND challenging is the preferred route. Oh, for the days when a lollipop and some sing-along songs did the trick. Of course, I no longer have to wipe their butts so I guess there is glass half full wherever you're willing to look for it.

gold dust woman Sundays are my spinster days and I am all aglow with the Tour De Fleece spinning thingamabobble that's going on. Of course, I was all wrapped up and duct taped into that box of eternal chaos when the whole thing was being organized so I was too late to join in, but am joining in in spirit, on the ravelry group, and in our own group, where we're doing some tour de fleece spinning with Enchanted Knoll Fibers! Two days into it, I have these 'gold dust woman' batts (cotswold, silk, angelina, sari) spun into a shimmery, gold lovin' 400 yds. of fingering wgt. bliss. Go ahead, ask me how I found the time?