Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Challenge

I have been issued a challenge!

Some months ago, my darling daughter fell in love with some yarn that she found at a Spinners and Weavers convention. She texted me about it, sent me a photo of it – and it is gorgeous! – and asked if I could make her a sweater out of it. I asked, of course, what weight it was. She sent me a photo of an intricate lace shawl that had been knit out of it. Again, it was beautiful, but I feared that it was very fine yarn and could not imagine making a sweater with it. I told her that it was her duty to find a suitable pattern.

When the yarn at last arrived at my house, my fears were realized. It’s fingering weight!
We searched for sweater patterns that she liked. Needless to say, we found nothing. So the yarn sits in my cedar chest, un-used.

The other day, my darling daughter broached the subject of the yarn again. And, again, my fears swelled up. I envisioned rows of 200 stitches knit in very tiny needles. A swatch, I estimate, will take a good four hours to knit for gauge. A sweater would take months!

She drew a sketch of a simple tunic. With a hood. My eyebrows meshed for a moment with my hair line and I braced myself against an aspect of shear dread. Socks I could handle! But a sweater? A tunic, no less?

Then a vision began to form. The yarn is variegated in bright colours spanning the full spectrum of the rainbow. Spun and dyed in Denmark by Kauni, it is simply some of the most beautiful yarn I have ever seen. I see the finished tunic, edged in a simple moss stitch with short slits up the sides, slightly flared sleeves and a round neckline with a split down the centre. I vetoed the hood! Then I agreed to give it a go! (What have I done?)

I’m nearly finished a pair of socks for a dear friend. When those are complete, I will begin the process of swatching for gauge. Then we’ll take measurements and the real math will begin. I’ve never designed a sweater before. At least not one that I’ve actually attempted to knit; and certainly not one made with fingering weight yarn. This isn’t just a challenge. It’s a test!

The very idea scares the heck out of me. The yarn is not cheap, nor is it easy to come by. I daresay that if I make a mistake or miscalculate in any way, this sweater could be destined to end up being very expensive stuffing for a pillow!

Ah, well. I have to say that my daughter’s confidence in my ability is uplifting. I’m reasonably sure I can do it. I’m just dreading rows that take several minutes each to knit and weeks and weeks of repetitive stocking stitch without a change.

But first things first. The Math! The part I’m most looking forward to, oddly enough. While socks are easy and I can do most of the math in my head, a sweater is a very different story. This sweater needs to be slightly fitted. The sleeves will be dolman in style. The neckline will be rounded and split with a moss stitch edge to match the cuffs and bottom. Then there’s the seaming to consider. I am toying with the idea of knitting the body without seams and doing the fitting by evenly decreasing and increasing throughout the process. Not sure about that, though. That might be something best attempted on a project for myself. We’ll see how brave I feel when I get to that point.

Earlier this year, I set a goal for myself to finish the three sweater designs that I’ve had rolling around in my head for years. I haven’t done that. I’m hoping, if this is at all successful, that it will inspire me to take the plunge and get those sweaters made. One is a tunic. One is based on my favourite, but worn out, sweat shirt. The other is based on the Cowichan sweater design, but with a funkier and more colourful motif. Hmmmm.... Now I’m thinking again...

Well, before I can do any of this, I first have to finish the socks on my needles. I also have to get to work and earn some money so I can pay some bills so I can buy the yarn to make the sweaters. Hi-ho, hi-ho!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where's Batman When You Need Him?

After several false starts and a major interruption, I have concluded that Yemalla’s Moon is not as ready to evolve as I thought. While sipping coffee and trying to compose a thoughtful introductory missive yesterday, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but something told me that it was worth answering and so I did, only to find out that the library had been broken into sometime during the night. My first thought was: Who commits a B & E on a night as cold as this one? It was -25 over night.

When I arrived at the library I discovered that the thief had executed a rather well planned burglary. The evidence trail told us that the single perpetrator entered through a side window that he had, apparently, left unlocked sometime during the day when the library was open. The staff does check the windows every night, but with the weather being this cold, the windows are not opened during the day and it never occurred to us that the locks would have been tampered with.

Upon entering the library, the thief made his way to the circulation desk where he helped himself to two sets of keys that are kept in a drawer. Finding that none of the keys opened the door to the staff room, he proceeded to chisel the lock out of the door, destroying, in the process, a very expensive door, handle and lock. He then rifled through the storage and filing cabinets before entering my office and finding what he was looking for; the cash drawer, locked and hidden under my desk. Though he had the keys to the cash box, he still managed to break the lock, which he left in pieces inside the dime compartment. He also went through the key cabinet, though it doesn’t appear that he took any keys. We think that he might have been looking for the key to the cash box, not realizing that he had it all along.

Once he cleaned out the cash box, he helped himself to the donation box and the Blue Ray player before leaving out the front emergency exit. He got somewhere between $80 and $100 cash as well as the $250 Blue Ray player. (I’m really looking forward to telling the kids on Friday that there will not be an NID Matinee, because we no longer have a Blue Ray player to show movies on!)

During the break-in, the thief disabled the phones and left me without power in my office. I will now have to pay an electrician to come in and fix that. The District of Houston will have to replace the staff room door and we will have to somehow come up with the money to replace the Blue Ray player. The cash is just gone. We will never be able to make that up, and while it sounds like a very small amount, to us, every single penny counts.

Obviously, this is not the happiest of blogs. I am beyond angry, hurt or saddened by this incident and filled with an overwhelming and nameless emotion that sits like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I keep thinking: Where’s Batman when you need him? And if you find that amusing, I can only assure you that I’m not kidding. We need Batman!

We need someone who is not afraid to deal with these punks and teach them some respect. The legal/justice system certainly isn’t going to – even if the police do manage to catch the little bugger. If he’s a juvenile, he’ll be asked to write a letter of apology to the library that will be printed anonymously in the paper. He’s parents will be forced to make financial restitution. Personally, I would prefer to see him set in stocks for 24 hours in the town square with a sign that says: I am a disrespectful and selfish little brat who broke into the library and stole cash, goods and damaged property. Please throw a rotten tomato at me.

If he’s an adult, he’ll probably get a slap on the wrist and be told to make restitution for the damage to the door and the cost of the electrician, the amount of money stolen and the Blue Ray player, which he will not do, nor will anyone follow up on it and force him to. The only way we would get anything would be to take him to small claims court at a cost of way more than what he owes and we would still probably never see the money. I ask you: Where’s the Justice?

And I tell you: There is none.

I’m not going to rant on about my thoughts beyond this. I know there are some very good people with very good intentions employed in the legal/justice system and I have no desire to disparage or besmirch them. It is the system that incenses me and the way it fails both the criminal and the victim in so many ways, in so many cases. And I’m not holding out much hope for justice – for the library or for the thief – in this case either.

I concede that crime is as old as the hills and is one of those flip sides so necessary to balance in the world. There are no less than 49 synonyms for the word crime and only two antonyms. (Thesaurus.com.) That doesn’t sound very balanced to me. And yet, if we look at the antonyms - Good deed & Kindness - they both exude a powerful energy far greater than any of the withering synonyms. It takes 49 negatives to equal two positives. (That’s interesting!)

A few months ago, a young patron at the library set some paper towel on fire in the men’s washroom. Luckily, he had second thoughts and put the fire out before any damage was done. He was caught and, due to his personal circumstances, decided not to press charges. We asked only that he come forward himself and apologize to me and the staff member that was working at the time of the incident. Until then, we said, he was banned from the library. It was not my intention to keep this normally gentle, albeit troubled, young man from using the library forever. On the contrary, we only wanted him to own up to his deed and accept responsibility for his actions. He has not yet come forward. Nor has he returned to the library. This, I think, is very sad. I wonder sometimes if he understood what we were asking of him. His was a case of a bad decision that could have had very bad consequences, but, thankfully, did not.

This time, though, it is a different matter. It was a very bad decision that did have some very bad consequences, some of which are yet to reveal themselves. The staff, for instance... Who’s going to feel safe working there now? I’m dreading going in to work tomorrow by myself. What about the patrons? Are we going to be suspicious of certain people now? Are we going to treat them differently? It’s not unlikely.

As with all things, both good and bad, life goes on. I now must bake pies and do some shopping for a celebration tonight. Funny how life works, isn’t it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Direction

A few days ago I deleted Yemalla’s Moon, but I recovered it and decided to just delete all my previous blogs and start fresh. In the process of deleting some 80+ postings I stopped to re-read a few. Some made me giggle. Some made me frown. (All are safely tucked away on a flash drive!)

I love to blog. I love to sit and write down my thoughts and feelings and observations and experiences. Sharing them on the Internet is an entirely different thing. It’s scary. Baring my soul, so to speak, opens up all sorts of avenues for all sorts of things to occur. I think what I think and I write what I write. But clicking that Publish button always gives me pause...

There is always a moment when I hesitate over the notion that I might offend someone who happens upon my posting. This is often followed in quick succession by a wave of anger, peppered with guilt and salted with fear. Then I say to myself: Self, don’t be silly. And then I commit by taking a deep breath and clicking that dreaded orange icon. What’s done is done.

Yemalla’s Moon started out as a place to post what really amounted to a personal diary. It had no specific purpose other than an exercise in preserving what was on my mind at any given moment that happened also to coincide with a desire to write it down. The fact that others had access to it, not to mention the ability to respond to it, was, I’ll admit, to some degree, my ego projecting just a wee bit of a superiority complex. Yes, conceit played a role; I’m not ready to confess that it dominated the endeavour, though perhaps it did. (I’ll have to review Jung, for I’m sure he could spin it much more positively than Freud.) But there was an element of expectation on my part that was not inconceivably one of praise for and awe over my postulations.

Okay, I have a streak of vanity. I will admit that. But who doesn’t? It is necessary to survival, I think, to hold one’s self in some measure of esteem. And Yemalla’s Moon has both buoyed and bruised my ego at different times. But the point is, I suppose, that Yemalla’s Moon needs a purpose, a point, a direction...

Yemalla’s Moon must become a journal of some defined and unambiguous topic. What that topic may be is still a mystery to me. There are several possibilities jockeying for position at the moment. Alas, though, I must conclude this vague and hazy introduction and hasten off to my current appointment with professional destiny.

Stay tuned, if you dare. What waits under the beams of Yemalla’s Moon – or perhaps lurks the shadows – will soon be revealed.