Sunday, April 26, 2009


"Let the beauty you love be what you do.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth." –Rumi

I walked a labyrinth yesterday. Walking a labyrinth, as I just learned, is an ancient tradition that is shared by just about every major religious tradition (Greek, Celtic, Mayan, Native American, and others).

This geometric form defines a sacred space, and the walking of it represents the act of pilgrimage. And so I walked, twice in the context of my retreat weekend. The first time I walked, I walked largely out of curiosity. I had not yet seen Bethany’s labyrinth nor experienced it, so I wanted to check it out. I walked with my camera in hand, took photographs, and figured out the doing of it. Quickly, I realized this was no sight-seeing experience, and that the discipline of taking this circuitous path could be deeply meditative. The second time I walked, I stepped deliberatively (having read the brochure on the meaning and the manner of walking the labyrinth). I took nothing with me, so my hands were free, my heart open, and my mind un-tethered. And I understood the intention of this winding design--an offering of time and space for meditation, prayer, centering and reflection. I shall return.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Butterflies on retreat

Next weekend, I will be retreating, driving away from home and into the mountains about an hour away to spend two days with about two dozen women at one of my favorite places--Bethany Retreat Center. Bethany, a contemplative community and center, was born and raised by an amazing woman, Sister Therese Dush, who is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. To prepare, I, along with the rest of the planning committee, met this morning to stuff retreat folders and tie up last minute details. The retreat theme focuses on transforming ones mind, and our symbol is the butterfly, so I did some crocheting this week, hooking up some butterflies. Crocheting is one skill I can honestly say I taught myself by just following easy-to-read directions. I have enjoyed simple crochet projects occasionally (like a granny square afghan), and knowing how to crochet has helped me finish off many a knitting project. I once did a lot of cross stitch embroidery and recently, have considered bringing out my old needles and floss. I also have done crewel work and some needlepoint. And now with my latest foray back to sewing, I suppose I can honestly claim a certain expertise in the needle arts which gives me a modicum of feminine (and feminist!) pride. However, knitting is still my favorite among all the needle arts and the lure of new yarns and patterns to conquer remains as the strongest siren call to my hands.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Birthday Sock Pledge

One of my favorite things to knit is socks, perhaps because rarely am I disappointed in how they turn out, AND they are just so darn practical. I have a draw full of my own hand knit socks, which I wear daily after discarding sandals in the fall. Socks seem so forgiving. They hide under jeans, yet create a funky presence when padding shoeless around the house. If they stretch out, I just wash them, throwing them briefly in the dryer before blocking them on a towel. I don't have to wash them after every wearing, they are certainly more colorful and unique than generic, store bought socks, and I feel a certain sense of permanence wearing footwear knit on size 1 or 2 needles (the equivalent of a bamboo skewer). They wear well, yet if they do wear out, I simply make another pair.

My children like my socks too...or so they tell me. The year I learned to knit socks, I made everyone a pair for Christmas, creating a bit of sock overdose. This winter I decided that birthday socks are really a better idea--spread it out over the year (although we have series of March, April and May birthdays!). At any rate, to my children (and their spouses, both present and upcoming)...I hereby pledge that for your birthday every year from this time hence, you will receive a new pair of socks. It pays to read my blog! (And Jim, if you ever change your only need to say a word and a pair is yours!)

Here is the latest project...socks for Rob's 30th birthday from great yarn, KnitPicks Felici self striping yarn.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ripping Out & Starting Over

Knitting has taught me to rip out (or as they call it in knitting circles, "frogging," as in "ripit...ripit"). Being willing to rip out is a good thing, because if I discover that I have goofed up a pattern or strayed off gauge, I readily acknowledge that it is worth the lost time and knitting to rip it out and then, try once again to do it right.

I encountered a similar situation yesterday with a sewing project, and my knitting wisdom served me well. I am still making those bedtime bags, featured in a previous post. The trickiest part of that project is applying iron-on letters, and Friday night while ironing on "Carter," the last "r" moved such that it smudged noticeably. The problem was I really didn't have enough fabric to cut another pocket of the same size. My choice--use the repaired smudgy one (I tried to reposition the letter and reapply, and it did work), or start over, redesigning the pocket. I decided upon the latter and actually am quite pleased with a new pocket idea, discovered by default. Later, with the same bag, I ran into another oops which ended up in me ripping out some stitching, recutting, and resewing. I am pleased with the result, but am even more pleased with my willingness to acknowledge what wasn't working and backpedal to "re" vision the product and the process.

Pretty much a life lesson, I think...

(Today would have been my father's 86th birthday; it is hard to believe he has been gone almost seven years. I miss him every day.)