Plans Post-CubeSpace

A list of a few things I’m looking forward to doing in my post-CubeSpace existence:

  • Gardening. The garden has gotten minimal to no attention the last few summers. I’m really looking forward to having the time to spend in the yard and grow some veggies this summer. Also, it will be great to get grapes trellised, the raspberries under control and reclaim the brick path. Oh yes, and some serious dandelion eradication. We’ll see how many laurel bushes get taken out over the course of the summer as well.
  • Knitting. While I’ve been knitting all along, I haven’t been very creative in my knitting while at CubeSpace. It’s just taken too much of my attention and energy. I’m hoping to be able to do more creative work, and maybe some design work. For me, it’s an outlet for creative exploration, and I want to use it as such.
  • Photography. I love taking photographs, but haven’t really spent the time to practice recently. Hoping to do some of that this summer.
  • Beavers Baseball. I’m hoping to go to a baseball game or two this summer. I’ve been meaning to for years, but the last game I made it to was the summer before we opened CubeSpace.
  • Cheap Movies. We live walking distance to the Baghdad Theater, the Laurelhurst Theater and the Avalon Theater, all of which show movies for $3 or less.
  • Paycheck. It will be lovely to get work where someone is paying me for it. Just one of those dreams of mine.

I’m quite certain I’ll come up with other activities, and that I’ll discover that I have not nearly as much free time as I imagine I will. Nonetheless, these are a few of the things I’m looking forward to in the next stage of life.

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Knitting Lace

Recently, I realized that my knitting was becoming somewhat routinized. I’ve been knitting the same patterns (mainly socks) over and over. Don’t get me wrong. I love knitting socks, I love having socks I knit. But I’m getting a touch stale. There is a lack of challenge in socks. It’s not like…lace.

Lace is a challenge. Lace is an adventure. Lace is something, that when you screw it up, you have to rip it all the way back to the beginning (or, if you are very clever and put in a lifeline, to your last lifeline). Lace is intricate and complex and detailed work. To do lace, you need to concentrate. So I said to myself, “let’s do some lace.”

I cast on my 56 stitches for 3 repeats of the pattern (18 stitch repeat with 2 stitches at the end). It’s not a particularly complext pattern, just 12 pattern rows (which you then repeat until the scarf is the desired length). I got through my first set of 12 rows, and realized that instead of the predicted 6 inches wide scarf, mine was closer to 12. Now, this isn’t a terrible problem, but it is wider than I wanted the scarf to be. So I ripped the whole thing out, and cast on 38 stitches (2 repeats of the 18 stitch pattern plus 2 stitches at the end).

That’s when the trouble began. I got six rows in, and realized I had the wrong number of stitches. Out came the needle and I rip out the six rows.I cast on again. Four rows in, one of my repeats of 18 stitches is 20 stitches long. Pull out the needle, rip out the knitting. Cast on again. Two rows in, and my stitch count is wrong. Rip it out again.

Tonight, after letting it lie fallow for about a week, I cast on again (after discovering I had to rip out, again). I’ve gotten through the first 12 rows, and so far so good. I’ve made an adjustment: I’ve added stitch markers every 9 stitches to keep track of my place in the pattern. It makes it easier to catch mistakes before I get too far. As I say, so far so good.

This would be the point when I would normally insert a photo, but my camera batteries are currently charging, so while I could insert a photo from my walk to work this morning (of flowers, not of lace), I don’t think the picture would illustrate any of my points particularly. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a thousand off topic words in a 600 word post seems like a bad idea.

David’s rules for knitting lace:

  • Never knit lace after any alcohol.Trust me, when you pick up again the next day, the stitch count won’t be right.
  • Lace knitting is not for meetings; you have to concentrate too much (or at least I do) to be able to fully pay attention to the meeting.
  • Don’t knit lace while tired. See above under “alcohol.”
  • Put in lifelines frequently (a piece of yarn threaded through the stitches of a row which lets you safetly rip back to that point). OK…so far I’m failing this one.
  • Be committed to the process not the finished product (be prepared to rip out a lot, and be okay with that).

I’ll point out that these rules for knitting lace are all lovely, but I do much of my knitting during meetings. Often I knit when I’m too tired to do other work. Occasionally I like to knit while sipping a glass of wine. And I’ve never quite gotten good about putting in lifelines. Nut I’m quite skilled at ripping out my knitting.

Sum up of the Week

So we’re heading into Shabbat, and I haven’t posted all week. So the quick recap:

The gloves I was working on to have done by Monday evening?

Looks pretty good, right? Just need to weave in the ends.
Unfortunately, here’s the left hand:

Fail!  Note the lack of a thumb, and there’s no mitten shell either. (It’s almost done now).

Other projects I’ve been working on this week: trying to learn Drupal. This has involved spending most of three days trying to install web servers on various computers, which led to installing various forms of Linux on two computers, repartitioning various hard drives, and basically wasting at least 15 hours.

Also, spent about 56 hours at CubeSpace and did 2 wedding meetings.

I’m delighted that the week is over, and very much looking forward to a shabbat of rest and “Moonlighting” (the TV show, not adding another job).

Knitting to a Deadline

I’m knitting to a deadline at the moment, something I haven’t done in a few years. It makes for an interesting change of pace. It makes the knitting somehow different, a bit more of a competition against time. I wouldn’t want to do this all the time, but as an occasional thing, I’m kind of enjoying the challenge (check in again next Monday as the deadline comes due to see whether I’m still enjoying the challenge).

The project is a pair of Broad Street Mittens, which is a pattern I’ve knit several times before (though the only time I blogged about it was apparently here). In this case, I’m knitting them up for my MIL, and hoping to send them with Eva next week. It’s a pattern I like, and have finished a mitten in about a week, so it’s not completely unreasonable. 

Here’s where I am now:  

As you can see, the first mitten is not quite done yet. Which is a bit of problem. But I’m gettting there, and I do believe I have a chance at making this work. 

Recently, a lot of my knitting has been fairly long-term. The kind of project (like an afgan) where you will finish at some point, but that point may be months away. This project is a concentrated sprint, which is making for a change…a sense of a push. It’s bringing a challenge to my knitting I haven’t felt in a while.  It’s not the challenge of a new technique, nor of stretching my brain, but a challenge of time: can I complete this work in a fixed time. 

For now, it’s fun, and I’m delighted to be racing against the clock. We’ll check in about that again next week.

The Year that Was

Every year at Rosh Hashanah, I try to look back over the year which passed, the events which have transpired and how I’ve changed. This year, I thought I might do some of that by looking back over the blog posts I’ve written since last Rosh Hashanah. 

I’ve written 95 blog posts (this will be the 96th) since last Rosh Hashanah, going back to last October and this post, wherein I was noting how strange it was to move from the workaday world to sitting with a family as a loved one died. It was light postings through December, as I was really getting my feet under me as a congregationally rabbi in Salem. I was learning to balance the roles, while still talking about knitting upon occasion. 

There are the posts that describe specific events from the year. There’s the post talking about how I invoked the Oregon State Senate, which was amazingly cool. Also when I passed the 100,000 mile mark on the car, and thinking about where the car had taken me. There was the time I saw a pair of raccoons in the yard. There’s the post I wrote as I was leaving Salem

Then there are the feline related posts. We adopted Chloe and were excited. A week later she was dead, and I wrote my prayer for a dead pet. Ten days later, we faced a much harder loss. Diana, who had been with me for 14 years, died. 

There are posts about the connections between knitting and spirituality. And posts about my experiences teaching Sunday school and bar and bat mitzvah students. And posts simply about Jewish Spirituality and theology

There were a whole slew of posts about Shabbat. Some commenting on how ready for it I was, some on how I planned to spend Shabbat. 

There are a huge number of posts about knitting, and I can track my progress through various projects over the course of the year. I note a few times that I seem to have a lot of projects going at once. My celebration of finishing a shawl that took about 6 months. 

I note a number of posts talking about how much I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but I’m exhausted because I’m doing too much

 And also a post about how cool it is that I get to perform weddings. And several posts about doing funerals, how satisfying it is, and how hard it can be.

There are blog posts about me. About me feeling like I’m getting older and that my brain is less efficient

There were some humorous posts (or at least attempts). One about Hannukah. One about Purim and Talmud and Knitting. A post about why I haven’t been posting. A very mildly humorous post about fictional items for auctions. A post about Rosh Hashanah sort of rounded out the year. 

There were post about flowers and the coming of spring. A post about cleaning up the front yard. And a post when I realized I’m not going to have the garden I’d hoped to have this year. Then I took some pictures of flowers on the way to work

Also some posts that are among the most frequently searched by keywords. One about the fact that life isn’t fair, usually in our favor. Another on the subject of being strangers in the land of Egypt

It’s been a long, full year. I’ve been at CubeSpace and at the congregation in Salem. I’ve performed 8 weddings, and 6 funerals. I done 9 bar or bat mitzvahs. It’s been a long year, and a good year. I’ve grown and become more the person I want to be. I’ve shared much of that with you all who read my blog, and it’s been a privilege and a pleasure. You’ve made insightful comments and sympathetic comments. 

May the new year be a good year for all of us. Shana Tovah umetuka. A good and sweet year to us all.

My Socks–and Mourning (?)–are Done

So I’ve finished my socks that I started in the wake of Diana’s death. I am quite pleased with them. They are colorful and fun. THey are comfortable, and wonderful. And to some degree, they will always remind me of Diana. 

Being done with them, I am filled with conflicting emotions. There is always the excitement of completion, and the sense that I am very  much going to enjoy these socks. In this case, there is an added level. I had said that finishing these socks would, in some sense, mark the end of my mourning period for Diana. Now the question becomes, how ready am I to be done mourning?

In most senses, I think I’m pretty ready. I’m not aware of her absence all the time, anymore, but there are moments when it sneaks up on me, unaware. Times when I think I catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, and catch myself thinking I’ve seen her. Moments when I’m making sure there are no plastic bags lying around, and realize it doesn’t matter so much, because she isn’t here to chew on them. But for the most part, it’s getting easier. 

I’m very excited by these socks. They are warm and colorful and represent the kind of clothing I wish I could wear all the time. And therfore, I’m looking forward to wearing them often, enjoying the yarn and the colors, and thinking of Diana.

Diana Memorial Noro Socks

It’s been way too long since I blogged. First, I wasn’t blogging because I had nothing to say besides, “I’m still missing Diana,” and I didn’t think that merited anyone else reading it. Then, I couldn’t quite figure out how to start again. Then I got pretty busy. So I haven’t been blogging. 

But now, I return. With a new knitting project: socks of Noro yarn, which I deliberately started while mourning Diana. It not’s that I didn’t have other knitting projects, but they were all for other people. And for the first week after Diana died, I didn’t feel like knitting at all (hard as that is to believe). After that, I wanted to begin to explore knitting again, but didn’t want my sadness and mourning being poured into a baby blanket I was working on, or a gift for anyone, in fact. I wanted to have those emotions become part of something I was knitting for me.

These socks are made of Noro Kureyon sock yarn which I bought with a gift certificate which was given to me as a thank you for doing a bat mitzvah. Noro is significantly more expensive than the sock yarns I’ll usually buy, but I’ve always admired the colors. It was a splurge, and it was for me. So when I was deciding to make something for myself, that I could put whatever emotions I was feeling into, this felt like the right thing to work on. 

At the beginning (and I’ve been working on these for 2 weeks or so, now), there was a huge amount of sadness involved. I would not have wanted to been working on a baby blanket at the time. Now, I’m still sad sometimes, but for the most part, I’m ok. In between I turned the heel, realized I’d made the foot too short, ripped back, and turned the heel again. I’ve been watching the colors slowly unfold from the skein, and enjoying the progress as they do. 

I’ve knit my sadness into them, and I’ve knit some happiness into them. Now, it feels like i want to finish them before moving on, as though finishing the socks will officially mark the end of a period of mourning for Diana. Obviously, the process of mourning doesn’t end that suddenly, but having a demarkation, whether it be one of time or accomplishment, can be useful to let one know when it’s time to regard life as “back to normal.”

In Judaism, there are three stages of mourning. First, there is shiva, which lasts about a week. Then comes shloshim, which is 30 days. Finally, for the first year after the death, it is customary for the mourner to go to the synagogue daily to recite the kaddish, a prayer in memory of the deceased. Obviously, I wouldn’t observe these stages for a cat, even one I love as dearly as Diana, but I want some way to mark the end of the period of active mourning, and I think finishing the socks will be that way. 

So I’m knitting along on my socks, and looking forward to finishing them, and moving onto the next stage of life.