Monday, May 31, 2010

Lest We Forget

It's interesting how sometimes the most profound statements can be found in mundane places. The following is from a song by Lee Greenwood:

at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

Memorial Day has been celebrated here in the US regularly since 1866. It wasn't called anything then. It was just a day when people would go to the graves of all the men and boys they knew who had died in the Civil War. After a few years, it was called Decoration Day and established to be on May 30. It wasn't until later that it was called Memorial Day, and later still when it moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May .

(This would be a good time to point out the fact to all my Canadian friends that, while November 11 is indeed an important date, and that we would never try to downplay the sacrifices that Canadians or anyone else made during WWI or any other war, it's important to note that the reason November 11 is not as big of a holiday here in the US is because by the time WWI ended, we Americans had been celebrating Memorial Day for almost fifty years.)

But regardless of how it came to be called what and when, it's still the day that we Americans take the time to remember all the heroes, fallen and standing, of all of the wars in which we've fought. Because there's precious little in this world that's more important than remembering. Because the men who fought for freedom and liberty deserve to be remembered -- even if we don't remember their names, we at least remember what they did. Because without them, none of us would be where we are today. the words of Abraham Lincoln: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

Or in the words of Billy Ray Cyrus: "Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died"

Either way? Never forget.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Are We Afraid to Disturb the Universe?

So the Harlot has a debate going right now over the definition of lace. She is offering her readers four choices:

A) Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition, which is "a series of yarn-overs with accompanying decreases used to make holes" (or something like that).

B) Holes are holes, regardless of how they're made, so even if they aren't stable and are simply a result of knitting at a loose gauge, the result could be defined as lace.

C) As long as the holes are stable, intentional, and create some sort of design, the resulting fabric can be called lace.

D) Some other definition.

It's amusing to read through all the different comments -- to read about how "real lace" has to have patterning on both sides and how it must be accompanied by tears, angst, and language unbecoming a knitter, or how maybe we are really too rigid in a lot of our definitions.

The comment that really struck me though, was that a lot of people chose the first definition because, well, that's Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition, and who are we mere mortals to go against the great Knitting Goddess of Elizabeth Zimmerman?

Personally, I'd go with the third definition (because I don't think that yarn overs are the only way to make stable holes, or that knitting is the only way to create lace), but all those comments left me wondering...and marveling at the irony of it all (is it actually irony? I'm never certain). EZ was, truly, a knitting goddess. She made knitting cool before it was cool, and she authored many books throughout her lifetime that provide great, helpful information for many a knitter.

But most importantly (and here's where the irony(?) comes in), she disturbed the universe. And she dared other knitters to disturb the universe. Her definition of the perfect length of a border is "until the knitter is sick of knitting it." She constantly told knitters not to be afraid of doing something new or different (her motto was "knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises"). The first paragraph in one of her books talks about her "unventing something." She believed that there was no such thing as a mistake in knitting, only new things or deviations from a pattern, and that the correct way to create a long-tail cast-on was just to pull out a bunch of yarn until it looked long enough and go from there.

Now, I don't have any problem with any of those people who chose the first definition of lace if that's truly what they believed the definition to be. But to choose it just because it's Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition?

In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Roberts' character pulls out a Van Gogh paint-by-number and says to her students, "Ironic, isn't it? Look at what we have done to the man who refused to conform his ideals to popular taste. Who refused to compromise his integrity. We have put him in a tiny box and asked you to copy him."

I couldn't say it better.

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Thoughts

You ever notice how some patterns take forever to do, and then others you can get done really quickly? And not for any particular reason, either. I wonder why that is...

I'm working on the Francis Revisted sweater. Now, granted, it's knit on big needles, and there's virtually NO FINISHING. But still, I started it seven days ago, and I'm almost done with it. Normally, it takes me about 2-3 weeks to do a sweater, and this one will be done in about eight days. Weird.

And that's not the only one. Monkey socks are lickety split, too. Why is that, especially when other patterns out there are slow as molasses? It can't be the actual pattern: Francis is done in plain stockinette, and Monkeys in fish-scale lace. And it's not necessarily the needle size either, because I have another sweater on the same size needles as Francis that I just frogged because it's been on the needles , so what is it about certain patterns?

What other patterns out there are uber fast?

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

You ever wonder who the old man is in that rhyme?

So, in April, it got up to 90 degrees in the first week. Now, it's May, and it's back down to the low 60's. Huh. Maybe the temperature can't decide which month it is.

I'm trying to decide whether I can swing Summer's End with my Lion Cotton.

I'm going to go with the Boys vs. Girls series. Hopefully that will generate interest on both sides of the fence. But if any child comes home with ideas, I'm denying all knowledge.

Today is Gary Paulsen's birthday. Read Hatchet if you get a chance.

Friday, May 07, 2010


I'm looking for a series to do in the fall. It needs to be appealing to both genders, and for kids in the age range of 9-12. Anyone have any ideas? Here are the ones I've been thinking about so far:

1. Oz, by L. Frank Baum. It's fantasy adventure, which would appeal to boys, and it has plenty of strong female characters, which appeals to...well...girls. But would the fact that the protagonists are mainly female put the boys off? Also, how would I get around the fact that the program wouldn't be about the movie?

2. The Last Apprentice, by Joseph Delaney. Again, lots of fantasy adventure and great character development, but we're talking DARK here. And SCARY. Some kids might be put off by that. And then there's the fact that most of the girl characters aren't exactly the ones we want to root for.

3. Boys v. Girls, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. A different take here with present day, good-natured humor that's equally divided between girls and boys. A definite appeal to both genders...but is it old enough? The older kids might not be so into the younger siblings.

4. The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley. Horses with a male protagonist -- you can't not appeal to boys and girls here. And there's loads of adventure, with each book just a little different. But would some of the kids be put off by some of the datedness of the books?

So that's what I have so far. Anyone have any other ideas?? Comments?? Questions??

The Monkeys are done!