A Neurological Survey

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If you have M.E and are UK-based then follow the links to the Neurological Alliance Survey.  (Isn’t it heartening to see M.E included?)  Of course, the survey is for people with all sorts of neurological conditions so if you have something else in your life than M.E, pop along too.

Neurological Alliance Survey | Dead Men Don’t Snore.

In My Defence

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Yellow Yarn

Once upon a time I learnt to knit.

Or I tried to, anyway.

I’m not sure why I decided to ask a friend to show me how it worked.  Perhaps I was just taking an interest in her hobby, which sounds a little shallow or something, but I long ago learnt that most people have something that they’re prepared to talk about and that makes it so much easier for little ole me who hates talking and social situations.  Perhaps I really wanted to learn.  Although I’m not sure why.

There has long been knitting in my life.  I wore a lot of hand-knit jumpers in my childhood.  (I still have one of them now).  I knew a lot of people who knitted.  But I don’t think that I ever saw someone actually knitting.

My mother was always trying to get us involved in various handicrafts as children; maybe it was an attempt to introduce a level of refinement but I never found it particularly entertaining.  If you gave me a special kit of crafty things, I’d just want to save it.  Just in case.  Just in case of what?  In case I ruined it.  In case I needed it later, at a more important time.  There were a few that I had a go at.  Probably because they were given at moments of severe boredom.

There was a lot of needlework.  I don’t do needlework.  I still don’t.  My brother was better at the dutifully sitting and working something cute for praise than I ever was.  Or will be.  I couldn’t see the point.  It was boring.  It was fiddly.  It served absolutely no purpose whatsoever.  Did it really matter to the grand scheme of things whether or not I had just spent a two week holiday cross-stitching some circus-related square?  (That was the best one.  The others were far too twee for my tastes, even then).

I don’t remember having a knitting kit.  I remember my brother having a knitting kit.  I remember the little gold coloured needles hanging around in the drawer with the videos (remember those?) for years.  I’m not sure what he made, if anything.  A short, fat toy scarf or was it bookmark?  Did it get finished?  Did it ever do anything?  Yarn seemed more often related to needlework, winding it somehow through little scratchy plastic meshes to make, well, something.

So why did I want to knit?

I have no idea.

But after that first, brief lesson, I dutifully took myself to the department shop to buy ‘wool‘ and needles and to thus embark on that quintessential debut project: the garter stitch scarf.

I do not know what idiot decided that every wannabe knitter would have to go through the rite of passage known as the garter stitch scarf.  I do not think highly of them.  I feel even more sorry for the folk who, apparently, only ever knit the curséd things.

At least the Americans seem to prefer dishcloths.  A dishcloth would be infinitely more preferable, trust me.  It’s small enough to have some hope of ever being done with it and it would actually be of some use.  And people would be actually interested in the finished project.

Anyway, I made that scarf.

No one thought particularly highly of my scarf.  Apparently, I was the first ever learner knitter who had trouble maintaining stitch count.  Everyone else, apparently, had never, ever had this problem.

(I think this a lie.  I’ve seen beginner knitters at work since and I’ve even taught a few.  They all wobble).

My confidence was a little shaken by this feedback but I wasn’t to be daunted.  I had decided that I was going to knit and knit I would.

I wanted to be like all the other knitters.

This could never be a good thing.

So I decided that I would get on with some proper knitting, just like they all did.  (Because everyone else found it oh so easy!)  A jumper.

These days, learners have the internet.  I didn’t even cross my mind to turn to the internet for such things.  (Again, I don’t know why.  Perhaps it was the state of the knitting culture around me: old-fashioned at best if not plain backwards at times).  And with the world of internet knitting to tempt them, they take on all sorts of amazing, crazy stuff for their first project.  Because there’s nobody to tell them that they can’t or that they shouldn’t.

But I listened to the voices.  Voices have always been my authority, sadly.  Although I am perpetually accused of having a disrespectful attitude, I do listen to those ‘experts’, those who, apparently, know better around me.  Sadly, it hasn’t always done me much good.

So, the jumper.

Well, in my defence…

… nobody introduced me to the idea of tension.

(Other than to tell me that the lone bootee that I made between said scarf and said jumper was big enough to fit a four year old.  (I measured it recently, it wouldn’t.  But those words have followed me ever since)).

And in my defence…

… when faced with a limited and pitiful selection of yarns, I chose one I liked.  Which was a different weight to one indicated in the pattern.  But, let’s face it, there isn’t the greatest difference, to the eye or to the hand, between a DK and an aran.  In the English weight/ply system, one’s an eight and one’s a ten.  As opposed to 4-ply.

And in my defence…

… I know a lot of knitters of that generation now.  They never knit a tension square.  They read the pattern notes, they read the ball band, they cast on.  Sometimes they have to rip back an entire jumper.  Hey, it happens!  So, why was I suppose to know about tension and tension squares?

And in my defence…

… there’s also the belief that new knitters knit tight.  I don’t.  There’s also the belief that the stressed out and uptight knit tight.  I don’t.  But knitting loose is not a crime either.  Some people just do.  I am one of them.

And in my defence…

… I’ve found it difficult over the years to find reliable instructions for ribbing, a ridiculously basic stitch.  A lot of time if I followed said instructions, I would end up with seed stitch.  Or something just plain weird.

And in my defence…

… there was nothing in my instructions that explained where to hold the yarn when switching between knit and purl stitches on the same row.

Yeah, that jumper didn’t exactly have a lot going for it.  But I was determined and I stuck the abuse and kept on knitting.

It took me longer than I was expecting.  So when it came time for me to gift it to the lucky recipient, I had to present it missing at least one sleeve and a neck.  But hey.

But in my defence…

… all those perfect knitters who were giving me grief don’t knock out jumpers as fast as they were claiming.  A lot of them don’t even finish things.  I know this now.

It was eventually finished.

One knitter, despairing of my ribbing technique, started at least one of the sleeves.

And another, who felt that I had no hope of doing so myself, picked up the stitches and knit the neckband.

In my defence…

… I’m not sure which one of us actually cast off.  I think I did.  According to the instructions that I was given.  (The experts tend to disappear when you need them at key moments).  It has unravelled slightly.  But there’s something that I learnt much, much later which probably had more effect on this then my actual cast off technique.  Tying knots.  And weaving ends.  One of those you shouldn’t.  And one of those you should.

In my defence…

… no one showed me any finishing techniques.  I don’t think that I have even seen such things in print.  And those experts who criticised my work don’t seem to do things any better either.  And I only just learnt how to seam properly this year.  But at least I sewed it together immediately; some people have projects languishing for years just because of the making up.

In my defence…

… there is not a single hole in said jumper.  I have inspected it recently.  (Shortly after I bumped into one of those experts who was with my mother when I gave her her shawl and wanted to know whether there were holes in that too).  There are no holes.

In my defence…

… I twigged that I needed to go down at least a size or so to accommodate my yarn.  That’s quite advanced thinking, given all of the above.  It still came out pretty big.  As in down to the recipient’s knees.

In my defence…

… I knitted a jumper and it looks like a jumper should be.

What’s so bad about that?

In my defence…

… I am still knitting and I am still willing to learn.

What’s so bad about that?

(The lucky recipient kindly put it in on as soon as it was gifted but later laid it aside in a drawer because it was ‘too special’ to wear.  Now that’s a good father. 

Miss you Dad).

Why Should I Be Unhappy?

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To bloom is to be happy

But are flowers happy?

Do they feel the sun and smile?

Or when they admire their own petals?

 

To bloom is to be happy

Do I bloom?

And if I don’t, can I still smile?

And if I don’t, can I still be happy?

 

To bloom is to be happy

What does it mean to bloom?

To flourish?  To grow?

To feel the sunshine?

 

To bloom is to be happy

Do we only grow when we are happy?

Or is there growth in sadness?

Or is there strength in pain?

 

Or are we happy because we bloom?

 
 

A sort of poem inspired by this week’s Write on Edge prompt, which included this quote by Rumi:

 

Why should I be unhappy? Every parcel of my being is in full bloom. ― Rumi