Reading Stitches
Books, Poetry, Things I Wish I Knew For Sure, and not all that much about Knitting

Jun 28, 2012

For Lack of a Better Future

The other night, a moment after darkness fought valiantly -
And had its brief but ever patient victory -
It asked me to look.

Against heavy lids I opened my cowering eyes ever so slowly
And saw for a fraction what I had long suspected would be there.
Except - within the pitch of dark, closer to me and to my left -
I saw the edge of what could be a light picture frame.
Or perhaps a piece of furniture left from some old tenant of that moment.
Whatever - it is mine now.

Today, naturally, I focus on that fragment of a light frame,
Crafting an identity for its presence in my view of a future.
Is it the mess in my office?
My past insisting on following me, wherever I go.
The last box in which I keep vestiges of who I thought I might be.
Something asking something from me,
And tripping me up, possibly, on my way to complete the darkness.

The bleakness struck me with an unexpected horror.
The future has been an illusion, and will be.
We love to prop it up with spectacular displays
Of happy-making billboards and smiley faces.
It’s how we survive.
It’s our food and shelter, that future.

It’s been a fake-out to me.
A super-nothing.
A magician’s rabbit.

Or... are secrets yet to be found there?
Was it the edge of the rabbit’s cage that broke the darkness?
After all, where is my self when I look?
Am I the rabbit that waits?
Now I see
I am also the magician, dressed in black.

Jun 22, 2012

U.S. Olympics Committee Deeply Offends Millions of Knitters - Why?

The Olympics are not what they used to be.  Many of us grew up watching the Olympics with our hearts in our throats, with still fresh, elementary school images of ancient Greek athletes coming together to outwit and outrun their competitors in grand matches of skill and bravery.  The spirit of the Olympic Games was one we all carried within us through long summers and longer winters, because as children everything was possible and nothing was unreachable.  We understood the hardships, the training, the sacrifices these athletes endured in order to compete at the top of the world against the best of the best.  And in each child’s heart, that heart that does not die within us, no matter how old, we felt the struggle, the desire and the drive to push the limits of human endurance and personal potential as far as they might go.  What child does not feel that potential waiting for its time to be tested?

We have never forgotten that the Games were founded as a great experiment of peace between nations.  How beautiful, how pure, how civilized and equitable, this experiment!  It instructed us, as few examples in our history have, that there are alternatives to war.  These were lifetime lessons that would seem impossible to sully.

The tradition of knitters coming together to share and refine their craft is also very old.  The indelible images in our hearts have not been etched by elementary school textbooks, but by the legacy of generations of grandmothers and great-grandmothers; of ancestors in old and new countries hand stitching ageless heirlooms of craftsmanship, many with millions of tiny stitches created with knitting “pins”.  The image of the knitter or crocheter is a part of the fabric of our lives; not just for knitters themselves, but as one of the world’s cultural icons - as taken for granted in the United States as a bible in church, a child’s baseball, an apple pie in the kitchen - an afghan for your bed, a thick sweater in winter, a pair of mittens on a fall day.

The fact is, because of their inviolable place in our hearts and minds, the spirit of the Olympic Games and of knitting can never be owned by any one of us.  They will always belong to all of us.  This is something that trademarks and media, or consumerism and profit cannot change.  The fact is, knitting will last as long as humankind exists.  I worry about the Olympic Games and their longevity.  Unfortunately, the need for money becomes the only lasting legacy of so many things in our world.  Such is life.

When the United States Olympic Committee wrote that a very large group of organized knitters - celebrating what is essentially the spirit of the Olympics within each of us - were possibly denigrating the athletes and the Games by calling their own consumer-less “games” Ravelympics, the USOC was not so much insulting knitters, but precipitating a clash of very old and very preciously-guarded comforts of the human heart.

The idea of knitters expressing their outrage in such a vociferous mass would seem comical to many, precisely because we all think we “know” who knitters are - the way we all think we “know” what the Olympics are.  Knitters are, and have always been, individuals, of all sizes, ethnicities, genders, race, color, age - very young to very old - and do not have much more in common than their love of crafting with pointy sticks.  If the Olympics draw these diverse people together to celebrate their love of their craft, in honor of the spirit of the Games - to essentially knit while watching - we are witnessing a coming together of two peaceful legacies that reside in the human heart.

“Owning” the Olympics changes the Olympics.  We all understand that, no matter how sadly distasteful it might be.  A well-known blogger and knitter wrote that the angry knitters’ “feelings are hurt”, by the insulting language of the USOC.  I think it is much more than that.  It is simply that knitters take their craft as seriously as its tradition is precious.  Many of us are used to feeling that precious private ownership of the Olympics, too.  The insult to knitters, with words about “denigrating” the Olympic spirit, expressed by a faceless committee invested in the protection of a trademark, seemed to jolt a still innocent, childlike part of these knitters‘ hearts.  I think instead of “feelings being hurt”, we could say our spirits took a shock.  It happens.  It might just mean it is time to stop believing in another Santa Claus, in the scheme of things.  But, like knitting and Santa Claus, there is always something deep in our hearts that we love deeply about the Olympics.

And now, let’s try to catch some of the highlights of the Olympics, which will be based on what sponsors and NBC decide we should see - if we haven’t purchased enough cable.  Now, it’s back to your regular program.  Nothing more to see here.

Jun 19, 2012

Rhythm and SSKs

I know the difference between a slip slip knit and a knit two together.
I can do them over and over again - and have.
I have taken the rhythm for granted, I think - such a shame.
I move on past those stitch markers with only a slight acknowledgement,
As if they chose to be there, insisted upon it, and I am only
Tolerating their presence!  But, I like the smooth movement when I ignore them.
Let them be there.

Most of them are a lime, almost florescent green color, and there is one purple one -
The only one I thank openly, with no shame - after all, I’m not counting!
Why should I, when the purple one is there?  And, my red clicking row counter?
It could be that I only use it for the sound,
And the better than bursting bubble wrap satisfaction it gives.
But, I’m lying.  I rely on that row counter.  I know I can survive without it.
I can survive without those stitch markers, perhaps even the purple one, too.
But, survival is no fun, and pretty stressful without tricks.

It’s marking time that’s fun.  It’s the bass to my rock and roll, the tick of the clock,
The beep of the microwave and the washing machine.  Remember we didn’t have beeps when
We were kids?  Time didn’t mean as much, so we didn’t need them.  Rhythm was like breathing.
But, now, marking time, my own ticking clock, it’s a way of telling myself that I am moving forward, Getting something done.  And, these days, it is also a way to remind me that if I ignore the rhythm,
If I take it for granted, like a damn kid, it will not exist without my attention.
Where is my attention these days?

I know the difference between a yarn over and a yarn over backwards, now.
With one you start from the front and go over.  With the other you start from the back and come over.  They’re beautiful in their own elegant way, these metaphors in knitting.  Simple, and profound, too.
We often enough need to stop and go back, or need to go back in order to move forward.
What worries me is what I ignore all too often these days.  Like ignoring steps in a dance.
As if somehow I don’t need to know the difference.

But, I do.
Knowing the difference reminds me that I am alive in a living world,
Even if my sense of rhythm, and time, are slow, and waning.
'This too shall pass', she said, 'so be present.'
Being present helps me to remember what I love, what we all love, which is the rhythm of living.
So what if, now, it requires my attention?  Should I be annoyed by the need for rhythm?
The need to pay attention?  The need to mark my time, or my presence here?
What happens if I stop?  Nothing.