Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sundays are for spinning

And clearly, I'm running a bit behind on posting.

Before I talk about the fiberous part of my world, a couple of thank yous. Last week, I was very touched to discover that I'd been nominated for two blog awards, by two of my favorite bloggers. Part of the award, of course, is to nominate further blogs, and I immediately went into Dither Overload, out of which I still have not really emerged, but I wanted to at least say thanks to those two bloggers, even if I don't have my own lists together. Willow nominated me for the Brilliante Weblog, and Wanda honored me with a Pico Y Arte. I think that what put me into a particular state of dither was to be nominated by people whose blogs I admire so very much. Willow is an astonishing photographer, and it is clear in every picture she takes how much attention she pays to the world around her; she sees beauty in places where I would miss it, and captures it in ways that I just can't make my camera do. Wanda's writing about her life amazes me; so much peace and love and acceptance comes through in her writing, and I am always inspired when I read her blog to look for the same qualities in the people and places around me.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the old adage, "seek and you shall find", not in any religious sense, but in a very concrete way. It has occurred to me more and more over the years that it is literally true that we find what we're looking for (this must be the cognitive linguist in me, hewing to the notion that we see what fits into our categories, and miss or ignore what doesn't). I don't know if you've ever had the experience of becoming attuned to some particular experience or object, and suddenly seeing it everywhere? I remember that happening when I was first pregnant with Older Daughter; before I was even showing, it was like there were pregnant women and babies everywhere. I'm sure that they'd been there before, but I was in a mental space where I noticed them; pregnancy and motherhood were suddenly relevant categories. The same thing happens when I'm hiking; if I'm looking for a particular something -- a hawk, or a coyote -- it's possible to train my eyes to look for that shape, those colors, that movement, and bang, they appear, as if out of nowhere. They were always there, of course, but the looking makes it possible to see.

I think we do the same kind of thing in more subtle ways with people. When we assume that the people around us are nefarious, or only looking out for themselves, or not to be trusted, darn if that's not what we see. And I think that seeing, we make it so, both in the fairly abstract sense that if that's all we are looking for then that's all we find (and there are some very interesting cognitive studies that show that we interpret another person's behavior based on our categorization of that person), and in the more concrete sense that people who are treated with mistrust tend to respond to that treatment in negative ways, fulfilling all of our most dire expectations. On the other hand, approaching people while open to the possibility of good, I think, creates more opportunity for good to happen. So to some degree, we create what we believe; we find what we're looking for.

I'm not always very good at maintaining that open-heartedness, but I do know that when I try, even on those occasions when I've been very hurt by people, I am happier with the outcome, more willing to accept that the person who has hurt me isn't evil (such an easy label to apply, and so loaded with condemnation and a lack of opportunity to change), but is focused inwardly, on their own Stuff. The lashing-out so rarely has to do with anyone on the outside. I'm not talking about a willingness to be abused, but rather about a willingness to start with hope and go from there. I'd like to grow into a person who can maintain that view more of the time, rather than just on those rare occasions when I scale to the heights of philosophical clarity before falling back again.

The reason I'm blathering on about all of this is because I get that sense of looking at the world with equanimity and open-heartedness from both Willow and Wanda, and I find myself inspired to maintain that particular view when I read their blogs. Thanks to both of you for thinking of me when you received your so-deserved awards.

Right then, on to fiber. On Sunday, I spent some time with my spinning wheels, and with my skeins of handspun. I went through and made labels for myself of each one, listing yardage, weight, and wraps per inch, so that I can more easily figure out what projects I could use them for. Stella pointed out recently that it has been useful to her spinning process to knit as she spins, so that she can figure out what's working in her handspun yarn, and what she could or should change to make it more useful as knitting fiber. I am inspired thereby to start finding uses for my own handspun, sooner rather than later. I finished plying the lovely green/brown merino that Stella sent me awhile ago, and am fairly happy with the results.
(sorry about the dark photo there) This one ended up about 14 wpi, and not (yay!) overplied. I'm thinking I'll use this skein and the earlier one to make a hat, and maybe mitts, for Rick, as the color will look wonderful with his eyes.

I've also been working on Lacewing, which at the moment more closely resembles a Lacy Blob. Look, it's eating my knitting bag.
This is the stage wherein knitting is happening (I've finished the second of four repeats on the body sections), but it's really hard to tell. It's taking me about 15 minutes a row right now, and I'm getting a lot of listening done to my latest audiobook, Pillars of the Earth. Heh.
However, this is most definitely not good soccer knitting, and as the season has started, I'm working on the Kimono sock, too, and progress is more visible.
The heel is turned, and I'm almost done with the gusset. I'm guessing the foot will move fairly quickly. These are very nice socks to knit, in no small part because they're mostly stockinette, with just enough going on to keep them from being a slog. And I'm really loving the yarn, which is the KnitPicks wool/silk blend, in the color Pumpkin. I will definitely get more of this in some of their other colorways.

Today we're off to get school supplies for Older Daughter, who has completed her orientation at her new school, has her schedule and student i.d., and will be starting a week from today. Where did the summer go?


Alwen said...

Lace does look like a blob before it's blocked, doesn't it?

It's amazing how often I find what I think is going to be there. Fortunately this works in the physical world, with blackberries, too!

Nana Sadie said...

I have trouble keeping an open heart when approaching people, too. Past experience clouds my thinking, in spite of struggling against it - b/c I agree with you, we get what we expect!

LOVELY handspun! I like the color, and it would make a great hat/mitt combo!

Anonymous said...

One of the fundamental ways my husband and I differ is in our expectations of the world around us, especially the people. Unfortunately, my work pushes me into cynicism, which is just another way of describing poor expectations of others. Worth fighing against!

I love the green yarn. Sets off all my gimme alarms.

Summer's short. I think it's time to go through last year's homework and projects. We have 2 weeks to go...

Anonymous said...

Lovely post.

I've experienced what you describe many times - most notably when I went to work in a garden center in high school and suddenly it was interesting and beautiful to walk down the street because I could name things.

Another benefit of approaching people with generosity in your soul is it gives you practice for when you need to approach yourself with generosity in your soul.

Anonymous said...

I love how lace is so blobby before blocking. That's where the magic happens.

I have a hard time with the concept of you get what you're looking for - was that poor kid on the bus asking to be beheaded and eaten? It reminds me too much of the 70's cop questions to rape victims.

But I have had the experience of learning a new word and then hearing/seeing it everywhere! So in some sense, awareness must be like a tuning fork.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. On all counts, from the musings about looking for the beauty in others to the lace. Thank you for this.

Marianne said...

Excellent point, Ellen :^)

This is a most thoughtful post..I find I do try and keep an open and positive attitude when meeting people, but I also battle the introvert in myself who can be so awkward socially...

Your green handspun is absolutely gorgeous!

EGunn said...

I wish I knew where the summer had gone! Can't believe how quickly things are moving.

I always have a hard time with the section of a project where time is flying (and blog posts must be written), and progress seems slow. It sounds like you're managing to enjoy it, though.

In general, I agree that approaching people with openness is best. You do often find things you weren't expecting; people live up to what we expect of them (especially students!). I tend to be a bit too forgiving, though, and people often take advantage of the openness. It's a hard balance to strike, and one that I think we all struggle with, to some degree or another.

Rachael said...

I can't WAIT to see how that shawl turns out!!

Lynne said...

Lacewing eats knitting bag! That certainly makes for an interesting headline, doesn't it?

Busy, busy, busy. I thought you were on vacation!? Funny how there are never enough hours in the day to do what we want to do - even during the break!

Bea said...

I love your blathering. Its so insightful. I'm going to spend the day at the beach today LOOKING for things and see what I find.

That green brown merino turned out to be really really lovely.

I love lacy blobs. Even though you see a picture in a pattern its always such a delight and a surprise to see bits and pieces emerge as you pull the lace tight.

I love pumpkins...oops...I meant to say that I use that KP silk blend for my wool silk that I dye. It is really soft and pretty with just the right amount of sheen.

School is starting already??!?

Anonymous said...

Oh. I'm speechless.
Thank you.