Friday, 11 July 2008


Journeys have been on my mind and in my conversations a lot of late.

We've recently had a stint in Ballarat, where we saw snow. Totally pedestrian for those of you who reside in places where such stuff is a regular occurrence. Totally bizarre and novel to us.

Equally unexpected was the proliferation of yarn bargains in the op shop. The three parcels I picked up were choices - that's right there was even more I didn't buy! I turned up my nose at the packs with less than 500gms of matching yarn that wasn't acrylic - and for a good while later I was wondering whether I was mad to pass them up. In Melbourne it is rare to get more than a ball or two in one go.

This partially knit jumper was a total snap. Overlooking the instructions in the accompanying pattern book that this garment must be worn with shoulder pads. The pattern is so dense with cables that even though there is only a front, back and half of one sleeve I think there's enough yarn (600gm) for a reasonable size garment. It has none of the scratchiness of most mohairs, it is in fact divinely soft and the cream will dye up beautifully.

Ditto the 600gms of 5ply superwash in cream. Wil's next jumper for sure.

And a lifetime of lovely wash cloths/crochet toys/string bags in this bag of 750gm of 4ply white cotton.
And all for about $20. Gotta be happy with that.

And there's been other journeys.

I've been thinking about my knitting journey a lot. I finished the posmerino vest using an upsized version of the Teva Durham Ballet T Shirt pattern and for a while now I have been oscillating between loving it and considering ripping it back and starting again. The yarn is wonderfully warm and deliciously soft and the dye job is excellent. The basic technique used in the patterns is also fantasticly simple and smart, and it makes a wonderfully useful and comfortable garment.

But as something that's snugly fitted I wear it with a degree of fear that it may well attract the stares of people who think larger people should wear garments more suited to hiding their bulges. I have no doubt for some people it looks ridiculous (not in these photos mind you).

And I think if I ripped it back to the armholes and put in some more rows there, it would be a more more acceptable, and possibly better, garment.

What strikes me as I think through this dilemma (as I do each day I put it on) is that
(a) not so long ago I would never have contemplated ripping something back once it was finished. If it didn't work the first time I would have given it away or trashed it in frustration.
(b) part of why I am contemplating doing it again is just to see how a few extra rows would change things. I am actually looking to learn something here.
(c) I'm kind of resistant to the idea of trying to please other people by sparing them the sight of my bra strap bulges.

Further along in my journey I agreed, reluctantly, to knit a football scarf. Because I am a mum and I had an orphan ball of cascade 220 superwash in the right colour and enough superwash 8ply in red and white to be able to finish a medium sized scarf for a small girl looking to develop a love of sport. I ripped it back several times - see what I mean about the journey? I mean, shit, it's a football scarf for a 5 year old - trying to find a stitch and gauge which would make it all go quickly and yet not leave me looking at something unbearable.

And in between a few more rows of the Hanami (chipping away at it) I started the first pair of hand knit socks for me using the beaded rib stitch from Sensational Socks by Charlene Schurch and the universal toe up formula with a Turkish cast on.

Despite being busy and engaged and having a healthy sized queue of knitting projects I have to say I remain well excited about this knitting trip. I'm excited about what I've just finished, what I'm currently knitting and what I have yet to knit. Indeed the more I knit the more excited I become. Some trips wear you out a little, or at least provide you with some low points, but at the moment I am out on the frontier and feeling more alive than usual.

That's the thing about travel. It's hard and when contemplating embarking on a new journey it is easy to be overwhelmed by what it will take to get on the road. Those people in my crochet class who just sat in the departure lounge and watching everyone struggling with their metaphorical luggage and anticipating the hardships and thought, you know, I just don't need this.

But it always surprises me that once I get going on something new those hardships aren't hard. And I don't just mean that the anticipatory anxiety distorts our perceptions of difficulties, or that things go smoother than we thought they might. Quite often the opposite is true. You hit hurdles you could never have foreseen and witness difficulties which far oustrip your worst expectations.

What happens is I change. Each problem solved buoys to such an extent that I have fresh confidence in approaching the next challenge. The energy I get from accomplishing a leg of the trip diminishes the enormity of the task ahead. My sense of pride is great, the newness of things makes me alert and observant and filled with wonder.

I remember so clearly when we first planned our stint in Thailand. I had a 2 year old who never slept, a thesis I didn't know how to write, chronic sleep deprivation, no prospect of work, continual illnesses and a sense of overwhelming despair. And I remember when D suggested it, very tentatively (expecting as he did that I would throw myself on the ground and weep with yet another burden), that all the hardships and problems flashed through my brain. They seemed immense and insolvable and common sense dictated that I should if not throw myself upon the ground that I should at least laugh at the mere suggestion.

I agreed to go because really, life couldn't get worse. In hindsight I can't imagine what might have happened had we not gone because really what I needed was all the things you get from the journey. To get back in touch with my competence for a start. To experience the joy of the new, to be surprised, to overcome, to learn. To be able to get into bed each night knowing that you have really lived and not wasted another day.

And the other thing about journeying is the way it wakes you up to all the other trips out there. The possibilities, the things as yet unseen, unfelt, unknown.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow. Love. This. Post!

kris said...

"To experience the joy of the new, to be surprised, to overcome, to learn."

Yes, I think that's what I miss, not having travelled for a while - the sense of possibility and excitement.I love the experience of getting the feel of a place, much more than seeing the sights and ticking them off.

Michelle said...

You've just summed up exactly what I've been thinking these last few weeks. What would have happened if I'd stayed in the same job? How is my life different now, and how different will it be in the future?

Thank you!

Kate said...

Gasp! You used the J-word! ;)

I must say that travelling and living overseas gave me confidence. It was hard, on a level that I know that you and other people who have been in alien situations will understand, but others won't. In a day-to-day, I don't know the rules or fit in, kind of way. In a if I mess this up I won't know how to fix it way. In a I am alone in this situation way.

Sometimes it's hard to remember those lessons, though. Hard to remember that if I lived in China and dealt with the politics and got through not just ok but well, then working here should be a breeze.

It's strange what we think is hard, and what turns out not to be.

As for the vest - I say rip it, if you're not happy with it or won't wear it. But as for other people's opinions - those people will never be pleased. If all they can see is a bulge, then they're not looking right.

But that only matters if you think you can ignore them and wear it with pride. I find that putting an FO in a cupboard for a week and *then* trying it on often gives me some useful perspective.

the bowerbird said...

Hello sooz,

Thanks for your lovely blog - it was the first introduction to blogging and it inspired me to have one with some friends.

Cheers and beers