Monday, August 26, 2013

Wizard of Earthsea

I made good on my resolution to abort the novel, although I suspect I'll check it out again one day because I'm basically among the 38.1% at the bottom of this infographic.

In the meantime, I've started Ursula K. Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea because it was sitting on the coffee table, where it had been relocated from my son's bookcase several months ago for reasons involving Matthew McConaughey.

OK, I know I have to explain that one.

At some point this past winter, undoubtedly due to sunlight deprivation, I got it into my head that a character played by Matthew McConaughey advised reading Le Guin as an introduction to science fiction for someone who may ordinarily prefer, say, Jane Austen.

I remembered McConaughey's character in The Jane Austen Book Club giving this advice to Maria Bello's character.

Wait, you say: Matthew McConaughey wasn't in that movie! Yeah, I know: Grigg was actually played by Hugh Dancy. But for some reason, I thought at the time that Matthew McConaughey was telling me to read a Le Guin book, so of course I fetched the only Le Guin I could find in the house. And there on the coffee table I let it sit for months because I had other things I'd rather read.

I'm not loving this wizard book either, but I'm halfway through, and it's fairly short, so I'll finish it and hope to discover the magic before the end. Also, this is fantasy, not science fiction, but maybe that's what Hugh Dancy's character was recommending anyway. I can't remember. I suppose I could look it up in the book, which I own. Or I could read it again; I liked that one.

However, the wizard did get me to thinking about knitting. It made me recall the fabulous knits in the film version of The Golden Compass, probably because that was also based on a fantasy novel, and as the film was released several years ago, I wondered if any knitting patterns from the costumes had become available. So I googled, and I found my next project.

My teen daughter, who will never wear a hat even on the coldest winter days, was looking over my shoulder and let me know that she would consent to wearing this if I knit it for her:

I found the pattern at Ravelry, and I probably have equivalent yarn in my stash, so as soon as the sweater is finished, this will be a go.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wild abandon

I sent my daughter to writer's camp this week, and perhaps through a extrasensory transference such as the type seen only in the movies (think What Women Want or even Spiderman), I have been imbued with a frenetic writing energy that requires multiple outlets.

In other words, I'm resurrecting this blog. I've already dusted away the spammers in comments, so if any real readers still exist, it's safe to come back.

It can be difficult to write about knitting when one is not actually knitting, which has been my problem for the past three years. Am I knitting again now? Not yet, but I think I've figured out the root cause.

I received this enlightenment yesterday while contemplating a novel I've been "reading." (Reading, of course, is usually incompatible with knitting except for those blessed with the ability to pay attention to audiobooks. I'm a more prolific reader than knitter.) My progress on this book has stalled after about 60 pages, and yet I've so far refused to follow Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50 and give it up. I started it for a reason -- because the author is highly regarded and someone I feel like I "should" read -- and that reason doesn't disappear just because the book hasn't engaged me.

Yet I know I could've read at least three other novels in the 6 weeks or so that I've been "reading" this one. I pick it up, read a page, and set it down to do something else, but I don't read anything else because I have this to finish first.

The same problem has stalled my knitting. I think it may be six years since I started this sweater:

It's from Solveig Hisdal's book Poetry in Stitches for those interested.

It's lovely sweater, and I'll be happy to have it completed, but it's a rather random, non-repeating pattern that requires constantly looking at the chart. This means it's difficult to do much of anything else while working on it. I can watch television if I don't want to look at the screen, but foreign films with subtitles (which make up about 80 percent of my Netflix queue) are out of the question.

My progress has been so slow on this sweater than I believe moths may have already been at some of the early rows. There's broken yarn I can't explain.

Really, I should abandon it and move on to something else, like a scarf or a sock. But I'm almost finished with the body and the sleeves will be much easier! It would be tragic to abandon it now after so much work.

Many situations in life require us to resolve to let things go to maintain our sanity, or our relationships, or to allow room for other things to breathe. And yet, it's often with the projects we persist on, when everyone else may be urging us to give up, that we're most rewarded. The trick is to recognize what's worth pursuing and what's better consigned to the remainders bin.

For now, I think I'll return the novel to the library and finish up the sweater, resolving to make sure my next knitting project is mindless and portable.

The novel, by the way, is Thomas Pynchon's V., in case anyone wants to plead its case in the comments.