Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost One Year

One year ago, my essay about how knitting helps me cope with disability aired in Episode 34 of Brenda Dayne's podcast, Cast On. Noricum heard my essay and contacted me with the idea that became this blog. So, thank you Brenda and thank you Noricum. You have had a larger impact on my life than you may ever know.

Here is my original essay:
As I’ve listened to this series on Sense of Place, I’ve slowly realized how my knitting does, in fact, reflect my surroundings. I’ve only been knitting for five months, so I assumed it was too early for me to think in terms of such an influence on my craft. I wish I could claim that my knitting is shaped by the endless stretch of Montana grasslands, or the heart-stopping, gut-wrenching beauty of Crater Lake in Oregon, or even the lights of a city nightscape, but I cannot. On the contrary, I cannot leave my home for more than a few hours a week. I am enclosed within the walls of chronic illness, a disability that has remade my life in its own image.

I fell ill at the age of 26, just twelve years and several lifetimes ago. Whether through prescience of my future, or dumb good fortune, I had already slept beneath the big sky of Montana. I had hiked down to the edge of Crater Lake. But I was not a knitter then. Had I been, I suppose I would have knit fair-isle sweaters for nights by a campfire, or thick wooly socks to go with my hiking boots. Complicated lace charts would not have frightened me the way they do now.

My knitting reflects the emotional and spiritual place I occupy within this strange disabled life. I need to knit simple projects that require little attention to detail because I cannot concentrate very well. My energy is my most precious resource, so every stitch must be both pleasurable and successful. I strive to create productivity and accomplishment in my day, defying my body’s restrictions. I absorb every expression of the craft of knitting, from patterns to books, from blogs to podcasts, so that I can transport myself outside my walls towards the community of knitters that I cannot visit in person.

My knitting also reflects my physical place in a simple way. I make two kinds of projects: gifts for treasured family and friends, and comforting objects for myself. The gifts allow me to symbolically travel out into the world with loved ones, since there are too many times when I cannot go with them. The things I knit for myself are simple, warm, soft. Because I spend my life confined to my home, I try to make it a place of simplicity and comfort. I’ve made quilts, drapes, pictures and other things, and each object tells a story about what was happening in my life at the time. I remember where I bought each yard of fabric or skein of yarn.

In May, my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We met shortly before my illness, and he has walked a difficult road with me. To honor this milestone, we traveled to New Mexico, a place I had long dreamed of visiting. The trip came with a high price, paid with pain and exhaustion, but it also felt like we were playing hooky from our day to day existence. We visited a small wool co-op, and I purchased three skeins of natural colored wool. When I got home, I chose two Barbara Walker stitch patterns: Navajo basket and tri-color tweed. I had never knit without a pattern before, but I calculated my gauge, held my breath, and somehow knit two pillows for our family room. The shades of brown and texture of the stitches remind me of the New Mexican landscape. I use the pillows every day to support my back or cradle my head. Most importantly, the process of this knitting keeps me connected to the most important place of all – the part of me that is not illness or disability, but strong and brave and powerful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Sound of Music

Dear Knittah,

Last week we went to see The Sound of Music at Rainbow Stage in Kildonan Park. Rainbow Stage is a somewhat-open-to-the-elements theater in the park. Here's a photo of the outside we took while standing in line:
Rainbow Stage
The night we went had rush seating. We arrived around 20 minutes before the doors were due to open, thinking that would be plenty of time. However, it turns out the early birds had all arrived quite a bit earlier. One person would stand (or sit on a lawn chair) in line, while the rest sat on picnic blankets and ate a picnic dinner. However, the seat we got was just fine:
Rainbow Stage
Here you can see the "open to the elements" bit:
Rainbow Stage
There's a roof to keep rain off, but the temperature isn't controlled, nor are insects. Luckily the mosquitoes didn't make an appearance. The dragonfly flying around during the opening "singing in the mountains" scene was appropriate, though. ;)

The music and play was fantastic! Noricum, her folks, and I all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

On a slightly related note, Noricum's neighbourhood is being used for some movie filming this week:
Movie Set
They sent around a notice, but Noricum can't remember what it's called. Winnipeg is a popular place for filming movies.



Eliza's pictures from Scotland in the Black Cuillins post reminds me of a trip we took together back in 1994. Do you remember, Eliza?

Eliza and I took two weeks to camp and hike in Oregon. We visited Crater Lake, my personal favorite, but we also traveled to the Three Sisters area. This used to be the site of an active volcano, and the evidence of eruptions can still be seen.


I was so struck by the contrast between the green of the pine trees and the black of the volcanic rock. This trip was the last camping trip I made before I got sick. We traveled at the end of July 1994, and I fell ill in October. It is so weird to think that this was the last time Eliza and I slept in a tent, made a fire, and hiked in a forest. At the time, I expected we would make a trip like that every year.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Black Cuillins

For our second hike in Skye, we ventured into the black Cuillins, a rugged range on the north side of Skye.

approaching the cuillens

towards the cuillens

the cuillens

In the cuillens

We picnicked in the shadows of the mountains, squinting to see climbers on the rocky peaks around us.

swatchy picnics in teh cuillens

On the way back, we came across a true Highlands celebrity:

highland cow

swatchy c and a cow

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Benn Eighe

En route from Gairloch to Skye, we hiked at Benn Eighe. It was a very very steep, rocky climb up to lovely views--west to even greater, rockier heights, east to a beautiful blue lake and more peaks to climb. Here I am at the summit:

swatchy et al on benn eighe

After all Eliza and I had imagined about the Highlands, we still just didn't appreciate how High and Rugged they really are:

on benn eighe

weds above the look

Here's the group, before we head back down:

Weds the group

Shortly after this photo, Eliza took a spectacular fall on the trail--tripped and flew and rolled in the heather. On flat ground. Classic.