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March 31, 2005


The New York Times. Ran an editorial yesterday. About knitting. Surely I think this is a good thing? Surely I am pleased that the very thing I am trying to center a life around merits some ink. Any publicity is good publicity, right?


Okay. I just needed to get that out of my system. I'm all better now.


[deep breaths]
[more deep breaths]

Can I try to explain what riles me so about this? It's kind of meta, I admit. I'm not so upset with the author of the opinion piece, who, after all, is entitled to her opinion: she is allowed to tell us that she once felt knitting was the province of grandmothers (*incompetent* ones, too -- did y'all notice that her grandmother made her "oversized" hats? You have to love casual ageism). I am upset that the Times felt it was worth printing.

This kind of puff piece is somewhere between a press release for the Craft Yarn Council and a personal essay for English Composition 101. It's got no business being on the op-ed page of a newspaper of record as though it were of immediate relevance for today.

The author says that since "we are in the final days of National Crochet Month," it is "the perfect moment to reflect on knitting and the American way of life". I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense to me at all! First off, crochet and knitting are TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS! Secondly, "National Crochet Month" is a STUPID MADE-UP OBSERVANCE. Thirdly, I don't really understand what prompted Ms. Carol E. Lee to write her piece at all. It is very little about her grandmother or her own knitting.

I find the insistence on the "hipness" of knitting to be detrimental to the long-term renaissance of the craft of knitting. Interest in knitting started picking up about five to seven years ago, and at first I was truly delighted, because let me tell you, I was good and tired of walking into yarn stores and being the youngest one there.

Right now, though, I am very much coming to resent people thinking that I knit because it is hip, or that I have opened a yarn store because I would like to capitalize on it having become hip. That idea is so far from the kind of person that I am that I just want to grab the people who mistakenly think that way, and I want to bounce up and down in front of them while I go all screamy and red in the face.

I've been knitting since I was twenty years old. I own a couple hundred knitting books, some of which are extraordinarily obscure, and are by no means hip. I have taught myself techniques that I will almost certainly never use in garment construction, simply because I find them interesting to figure out. I learned to spin wool years ago, not when all the cool kids on the knitting blogs started going to Maryland (hi, cool kids! Can we meet up?) but because I read the dear ancient FiberNet group (which used to be a BBS). And even though I love my little green iPod (and god help you if you try to pry it out of my cold, clenched, paresthetic fingers) I'll be damned if I ever knit it a fucking cozy.

You may have noticed that I'm feeling a little unrestrained in my diction today -- that would be because I am teetering on the edge of nervous collapse. I leave for Louisiana on Monday; between now and then I teach twice, we have the Church of Craft open house on Saturday, I'm throwing Francis a birthday party on Saturday night, I will be squiring a young friend around town on Sunday, and I have approximately eight hundred loose ends to tie up before I leave. A couple of friends have helpfully pointed out to me that not everything is going to get done before I leave, and that it will all still be okay. I have never gotten the hang of that last bit.

Posted by Rose at 02:46 PM | Comments (6)

March 19, 2005

Blog silence = life chaos

I'm swamped. I've got tons of copyediting and proofreading and factchecking to do (which is what I do when I'm not selling yarn or going to the gym or swing dancing or writing). That would just be the normal amount of busy, but this week it's been hard to get anything done at all.

I found out on Monday that my mom's got colon cancer. More specifically, rectal cancer. She's only 59 (she'll be 60 in June). Her doctors are talking "cure" and not "months to live"--so that's good news. But the next few months are going to be just horrible for her. It's starting to sink in that they aren't going to be so great for me, either.

She and I have had a complicated relationship over the years. Superfically, we are extraordinarily different women, and that seems to be a big stumbling block for my mom. She just isn't able to see my similarities to her, she can only see our differences. So she looks at me and sees: a purple-haired, eyebrow-pierced, liberal entrepreneur who abandoned the south for the metropolitan northeast and who hangs out with intellectuals and freaks. Yep. That would be me.

I look at my mom and I look at me, and I see stubborn, gregarious women, who build communities around themselves, and develop connections between people, and who persevere through incredible difficulties. Although our interactions around her teaching me things were especially fraught when I was a teenager, in the end I have become someone who loves to cook, and to make things, and to garden, all of which she has loved over the years. So you'd think we could manage to find some common ground, wouldn't you?

My hope right now is that somehow this stupid illness will help us manage to talk to each other more frankly than we have in the past. I know that I often get frustrated with her, and then end up feeling like it isn't worth the emotional effort to try to make a conversation have a better outcome. On her side, I perceive a sort of fatalism, a kind of belief going in that "since we're so different" there's no way we can talk about one thing or another in any sort of useful way. Perhaps cancer will work its evil mojo to create a sense of urgency around the situation, and we'll manage to have some better talks.

Or maybe we won't. I have no idea. I'm trying not to expect too much; I'm trying not to expect too little. I'm trying to take care of myself, even as I keep falling apart and freaking out entirely. Today I'm pretty okay. Yesterday I started having a meltdown as I was reading the side effects of the chemotherapy drug (5FU) she'll be taking for six weeks.

If she were a perfectly healthy 59-year-old woman going into this, I understand that the prognosis would be pretty good. But she's had an enormous number of health problems over the years, and I'm worried that a bazillion things could go wrong with the chemo and radiation.

I'm actually going to be splitting up this blog into two blogs soon, so that this one will be more yarn store-related, and the new one will be more personal, and if I had done that already, obviously this entry would have gone there. But that's one of the little projects that's on hold as I'm trying to hang on by my fingernails to what's left of my humor and my stability--I'll post here when that blog is ready to launch.

Posted by Rose at 10:37 AM | Comments (10)

March 05, 2005

Green with glee

A few folks have have asked how the training is going, and a couple have asked if I'd share some of the advice I've been given, and I'm happy to oblige!

I'm having a blast!

I'd say I'm still at the "building a base" part of the whole marathon endeavor -- I haven't run much more than a mile "in a row" even when I do three miles at a time (running and walking) on the treadmill at the gym. My first goal is to get up to three miles in a row (which would let me run a 5K race) and then six miles (10K) by June. That would put me solidly starting the NYRR marathon training plan in plenty of time for a November race date.

If I don't get picked for the NYC marathon, I've got backup plans. I'll look for another marathon to run, probably another fall one, since I think the training will be most comfortable in the summer and fall. Secondly, I'd still love to run NYC, so I'll plan to gain "guaranteed entry" for 2006. The way you do that is by running 9 NYRR races in 2005 (as an NYRR member, and these can be 5-10K things, not all marathons or anything scary) and then you're in for the next year's marathon.

What worked for getting started exercising was twofold. I started swing dancing last fall, and it turned out I loved it. At first I hoped that dancing would help me lose weight and gain stamina, but soon I realized I wanted to lose weight and gain stamina so that I could dance better! In January I started getting back to the gym regularly to try to do that. My second realization was that I'm no good at deciding on a day-to-day basis whether I "should" go to the gym. So now I just go every day that I work at Yarnivore, which is five days a week. Even if I only go for half an hour, that's still half an hour of exercise, and that adds up.

As a reward for all this absurdly active healthy behavior, I have bought a new little friend to make going to the gym even less painful -- a green iPod mini! It's only about a quarter full, and I already adore it. No more bad techno and CNN for me! Knitcasts and They Might Be Giants and Ted Leo all the way!

In exciting Yarnivore news, I have the new March-April class schedule up, and it's pretty brilliant! Annie Modesitt is teaching wire knitting on March 19th, and I've got several new classes, including pattern adaptation (take control of your knitting!) and an introduction to cables.

UPDATE: I was on my way to the gym this morning, and didn't have time to add in links to some helpful running sites. Cool Running has a page of stuff that's especially aimed at new runners that I found friendly and informative. The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer is a fabulous, practical, and inspiring book that I've been using. I also have The Runners' World Complete Book of Running. A side note about that last one -- they also publish a Complete Book of Women's Running that looked like crap to me -- it had all this stuff about weight loss and body image and pregnancy and clothing and dieting and its tone was just so icky. The Complete Book of Running has a chapter on running for women that includes stuff about periods and sports bras without being condescending and stupid.

Posted by Rose at 09:17 AM | Comments (13)