Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Night

Have you ever read a book that moved you so deeply that you felt compelled to meet the author?

One such book for me is "Night" by Elie Wiesel. I did not read this as part of Oprah's book club, but read it long ago, more than once, partly because Buddy Bill also taught it to his students before he retired. Last night I was fortunate enough to be present when Elie Wiesel spoke to a crowd of over 1600 people at our local University. Even better, I was in the front row!

Buddy Bill, his younger son, and I arrived over an hour early and were near the front of the line, which grew quickly. While waiting, I knitted the cuff of monkey sock number two and we chatted with people in line. We saw people we knew, of course, with both of us being teachers. It was amazing to see the diversity of the crowd, and even more amazing to see the size of the crowd since Ralph Nader was also on campus at the same time, and former President Bill Clinton was in town speaking less than 3 miles away. Talk about tough competition!

Mr. Wiesel, a gentle, softspoken man, delivered a strong message about racism and religous fanatacism, tempered with humor. Best known for surviving the concentration camps during the holocaust, he made little mention of his time there. Instead, he spoke of his feeling shame when encountering the discrimination of black people in the southern states of America during the 1950's, and how amazing it is now to have an African-American candidate for President! A summary of his lecture can be read here. Afterward, given our close proximity to the stage, Bill, younger kid, and I were all able to get our books autographed by a very gracious Mr. Wiesel.

I found it hard to sleep last night, with his words bouncing around in my head, and decided that today would be a good day for my Absent-Minded Professor to read "Night." He has a day off because of teacher work day and is home from school. During the trip to Washington DC in June, we will be visiting the United States Holocaust Museum and the book will give him a good idea of what happened to the Jewish people during that time.

So tell me, what book(s) moves you? What author would you feel compelled to hear speak if he/she were coming close to your home?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kids and Monkeys

Is there really a difference between kids and monkeys? Most of the time I would say no. Today, however, the monkeys I'm referring to are these. Yes, the Cookie A. type of Monkeys. They were next up out of my pile of UFO's from the Sock of the Month Club.

These socks are more challenging that what I normally take on for socks, but I am enjoying stepping out of my comfort zone. Last night, at knit nite, I started the gussett and made good progress. The yarn is a custom colorway from Sarah at Perfect Day Yarns.

My child monkeys and I made a visit to a nearby pumpkin farm on Sunday and had a wonderful time together. This was a true working farm complete with animals of all kinds. I managed to get the kids to slow down long enough to snap a photo of each. (OK, I bribed them with a donut and cider!)

As for the love of sheep, well, that seems to be genetic. Both Mayhem and my Absent-Minded Professor ran directly to the sheep pen and this guy trotted right up to them at the fence.

They sure do look happy, don't they?

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Something Blue

I'm in a Sock of The Month Club at my LYS, Yarn Cravin'. It started in January of this year. Nearly each month we have a new sock pattern and new yarn introduced, and we have been challenged by new techniques, such a learning how to knit a sock from the toe up. It has been so much fun, but there were some months I never even got to start the sock for that month and I fell further and further behind, or I have one sock partially completed, and the second sock is nowhere in sight.

Case in point. Here is the yarn we received in January.

Beautiful, isn't it? Lovely yarn from Khris, of Chewy Sphaghetti. The colorway is "Haven" and it was dyed just for our sock club. The pattern is Right Twist Cable from the book Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. (If you don't have this book in your library, don't wait any longer!)

One glance at the calendar will show that is now mid-October. My pair of socks is just now finished. Yes, the socks from January. They weren't hard to knit. (In fact, most of sock number two was knit during the three hours I supervised a one-on-one PSAT and ACT test administration for students who needed small group accommodations earlier this week.)

But, the socks are finished. All along the way, from January until now, I worked on other things, started other socks, even learned to spin! You all know that's on top of working full time, being a mom, running a house and dealing with a crazy mess of an ex.

I can also say I have one more UFO off the list.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Contagious

Some people swear they are never going to knit socks. I was one of them. Using double pointed needles (DPN's) scared the bejesus out of me. How in the world was I going to manage keeping track of 4 or 5 little needles that, in my mind, were basically elongated toothpicks? I have gone to knit several pairs of socks, big and small, and find socks to be entertaining as well as wonderfully portable projects.

Recently a blogging friend has come to the "dark side" and is now a sock knitter as well. If you check out Knitting Confidential and scroll down to see the October 5 entry, you will find that he (yes, he) has finished a wonderful pair of socks. Way to go, Secret Knitter!

This weekend my parents were in town and Mom, who learned to knit as a child, is knitting again. Guess what she's knitting? Yep, socks. Without a pattern, no less! She needed my help with the heel - turning the heel and remembering how to do the gussett. What makes this incredible is that my mom is nearly blind from macular degeneration. She's knitting socks from memory, people.

The really neat thing is that after seeing me knit, and seeing Oma knit, now my nephew Nicholas wants to knit. Nicholas is 9 and in the 4th grade. He has asked me for a pair of mittens and we have set up a time for me to take over some bigger needles and worsted weight yarn and get him started knitting.

I'll keep you posted on everyone's progress.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Then and Now

In the middle 1800's, women dressed like this:
And this:

Young girls dressed like this youngster, or in garb very close to what she is wearing.

While I can't picture myself covered head to toe, even fingertip, in all that fabric, and being limited in movement by the hoopskirts, hats and petticoats, the ladies of that time period and I do have something very much in common. By now, you've probably even guessed what that common thread might be. Yes, knitting.

The thought occurred to me as I sat on the sidelines of a Civil War Re-enactment yesterday. Bill and I took my kids to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center to watch a battle and tour the Presidential home. I sat on a paved path beside a shaded, grassy lawn, watching the drama unfold, all the while knitting on my latest project. Clad in jeans and a campaign t-shirt with an orange wool sweater over top, I watched these ladies parading by, some toting little costumed children, and realized that over 150 years ago, during the Civil War, they were knitting too. Even some of what we knit is still the same; socks, mittens, scarves. Things to keep our loved ones warm.

This skill, knitting, that has been around for centuries, provided those women with the same benefits it gives me. I'm sure they knitted to keep themselves busy when they were worried. I'm sure those women knitted to calm themselves, and help assure their families that all would be well. Even with this going on outside, all would be fine if Mama was sitting down with her knitting, right?
Even as my son posed in front of the gates that Pres. Hayes stole from the White House when he left office, I couldn't help but feel connected to the past... and grateful I don't have to wear those ridiculous dresses!

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