Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yarn Along

Blogger Ginny over at Small Things has a fun way to share two of my favourite indoor winter activities -- reading and knitting. The idea is to take a single photo of what you're reading and/or knitting right now and share it on your blog. At the bottom of her weekly Yarn Along post, there's one of those Mister Linky's Magical Widgets where you can share your blog post.

Here's mine:

I'm still working on Jack's now very overdue birthday socks, but as he's enjoying his dream pillow, I'm not getting too worked up over my tardiness. I'm at the pick-up-the-gusset-stitches stage, so this one should be off the needles in a day or two.

I might have finished before now if I hadn't been distracted by some beautiful wool my dad brought me, or the two cardigan patterns I just downloaded from Madelinetosh (Tea Leaves for mama, Tiny Tea Leaves for Ella), or the mitts I promised Lucas, or what I'd like to knit for this month's Year in Colour project, or...

But first, I'll finish his socks. It's another good life lesson in patience, focus and finishing what you start, even with things get tough/boring/stale or something more exciting comes along. (There's also a lesson in acceptance: a skein of delicious wool and/or an inspiring pattern can throw the most steadfast knitter off course!) Not that I think there's anything wrong with having multiple projects on the go -- knitting diva the Yarn Harlot (aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) writes in her book Knitting Rules that socks are a great distraction when she's deep in a sweater pattern. I just know that for me, I'm really good at starting projects but it's very easy for me to lose interest and momentum.

Not so when it comes to reading. When I get hooked on a book, I will burn through the pages with a voracious hunger for what happens next and how the story ends (if it's a happy ending, all the better.) But with Kristin Kimball's book, The Dirty Life: On Food, Farming and Love, I'm trying to slow down and savour each page. It's not easy, because her lyrical writing and compelling story of her intense love affair with a man (who would become her husband) and their farm, drew me in from the first page -- and I'm not one for romance novels. Despite the romantic overtones, she doesn't sugar coat her journey from freelance writer to farmer, either. She writes:

"The people we met kept telling us, with varying degrees of tact, that we'd fail. They said nobody in the area was interested in local or organic food, or even if they were interested, they wouldn't be able to afford it. And if we did find people to buy out food we'd still fail, because the farm was too wet and nothing would grow. And if we managed to grow something and sell it, well, then, it was only a matter of time before we'd fail, farming being farming..."

I get this. I've heard it myself. So I took some solace in this passage:

"When we would talk about our future in private, I would ask Mark [her fiancee, later husband] if he really thought we had a chance. Of course we had a chance, he'd say, and anyway, it didn't really matter if this venture failed. In his view, we were already a success, because we were doing something hard and it was something that mattered to us. You don't measure things like that with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome.What mattered was not whether or not you were moving in a direction you thought was right.

This sounded extremely fishy to me."

I love that last sentence. I see myself as a hybrid of these two people -- full of Zen-inspired possibility and hope at one moment, then skeptical and fearful in another.

I'm only halfway through their story and what I find so compelling is despite their many hardships and setbacks, they keep at it. I know how their story ends -- their ambitious idea to grow everything needed to feed a community worked, and today Essex Farm provides weekly "whole diet" shares to 100 people -- but I'm still looking forward to reading the happy ending.

So what book or books are on your nightstand? What project are you knitting/crocheting/sewing/wood working/creating? If you'd like to, head over to Small Things and share your story with Mister Linky or simply leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!


Amy Lagerquist said...

That sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for mentioning it...I'll put a "hold" on it in my library system!

(Both cardigan patterns are adorable, by the way. It's awesome that you can knit things like that. Someday I'd like to take a lesson.)

Fiona said...

Amy -- If/When you read it, I'd like to hear what you think!
And thanks for the kind words re knitting. I've been knitting since I was a kid but I've only recently taken on more 'ambitious' projects... like socks! The thing that I love about knitting is there's a project perfect for every level of knitter. Once you get the basic stitches figured out, it's amazing what you can create!

Mama Pea said...

I'm knitting (slowly as it's not a big priority right now) a lovely orange scarf (accessory type rather than keep warm type). It has an 8-row pattern and I have to keep track of each row with a counter so it's not exactly a no-brainer for me.

Reading (slowly because I'm savoring each recipe) a book I "won" in a drawing from Susan at e-i-e-i-omg! entitled, "Feeding The Whole Family, Cooking with Whole Foods" by Cynthia Lair.

Tracey said...

Oh that sounds like a great book. I am a one project at a time knitter. I am afraid if I have too much going at once nothing would ever get finished.

Fiona said...

Mama Pea -- love that your scarf is orange! Please post a photo when you're done. I mean, you've got all this spare time on your hands with the homestead, your quilting, etc. ;-)

Tracey -- thanks for your comment! I know it's best if I'm a one-project knitter, but I am SO tempted right now by a few 'quick knit' projects. I'm not "silly" enough to start one of the cardis, but maybe I could sneak in a hat, or a doll sweater, or a... And there it begins, lol! :) BTW -- the photos on your blog are beautiful! And I think I'd enjoy your veg book, too!

Anke said...

I just bought that book, but haven't gotten started on it yet. I'm really excited about it now.
Your socks are going to be great!

Erin said...

Sounds like a great read! Sadly, I have been knitting the same pair of socks for Finn since before Christmas - first I set them aside to do other socks as gifts for others, then I started quilting LOL... so the little socks are still in the basket!

Anonymous said...

the sock looks very cool...i love the colors:) i think i have a similar skein somewhere. i envy your dedication:) i am too easily swayed to pick up something new. if i don't have at least 3 or 4 wips, i get nervous:) the book sounds interesting, this is the second time today i've seen it mentioned :)

Gen said...

That book looks wonderful and inspiring. I really enjoyed knitting the Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan for my daughter & would love to knit a mama sized one for me.

The Barefoot Crofter said...

Hello - a friend sent me a link to your zuccini post and i have enjoyed reading about your journey.
That books seems to be a fairly influential one as far as i can see, so i may very well have a look at it. I love the idea of sock knitting, and I have done it, but the second one is never quite so interesting as the first.
All the best with your plans.

Fiona said...

Anke -- I'm really enjoying it. I'd like to hear what you think of it, too!

Erin -- You've got good reason for leaving the socks... your quilting is SO gorgeous!

atangledyarn -- thanks for visiting! I'm not sure if it's dedication or something else. I'm already feeling the pull of 'other things.' But I've taken a look at your blog -- gorgeous knitting talent there -- and even if you've got several projects on the go, at least you're finishing them!

Gen -- thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed knitting the tiny tea -- I think I'll start with that first. I've seen that pattern in many blogs, and I love it!

Barefoot Crofter -- thanks for the kind words. And yes, I find the second one, whether it be mitten, sock or sometimes even sleeve, more challenging to finish than the first. I'm already trying to negotiate with myself on this one... like if I finish the first sock, does that count as a completed project, meaning I can move on to something else? Sigh. :)

Jennifer Jo said...

I enjoyed that book---such a fun read!

Right now I'm (re)reading my mom's novel and finishing up my very first scarf. I'm inordinately proud of myself.

Linda said...

I saw your comment as another north-east Scot on The Barefoot Crofter and had to come and say hello. My father's family is originally from Aberdeenshire, later transplanted to Moray, where I grew up. My mother's family were Moray Firth fisherfolk. I haven't travelled as far as you form the north east, just 'down south' to Edinburgh. But an uncle and aunt emigrated to BC in the 1960's, so I have 'proud to be Canadian' cousins. All the best with your farming venture.

Bridget said...

Book sounds amazing. Thanks for the passage you shared.

Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Hi Fiona,
Thanks so much for the comment you left on my blog!
I'm glad you enjoyed that book too.

Lovely blog.

Have a wonderful night.

Love from Oregon!

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