March 30, 2011

Little teeny demonstrations of progress


I spent most of Saturday knitting.  Well, it gave me an alternative excuse for red, burning eyes* and at least at the very plain beginner knitting level I’m still doing it’s soothing.    Nothing matters but that next stitch-loop, and the one after that, and the one after that, and they’re so cute, as the neat little things line up on your needles,** and so orderly***, as row piles up on row.  The appearance, however illusory, of control, plan, system, is part of the comfort.  I wrote this to a non-knitting friend† who is something of a science/medical geek, who wrote back that as it happened she’d just been reading AN ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC STUDY of knitting and the release of endorphins:  it’s the small precise repetitive motion that drugs us silly.††  The knitting world, by a casual glance at google, is apparently well aware of this connection anecdotally.  I still don’t recommend knitting and chocolate simultaneously:  they may rub off on each other to mutual disadvantage.

            But I’m fascinated at this acquisition of another new skill:  this one is so much more methodical than, say, singing.  I think I may have said this before:  the hellhound blanket squares are in pretty fat yarn, so-called ‘chunky’, and on 6 mm needles.  When I started of course this was quite fiddly and scary enough . . . and when I leaped somewhat too quickly to my first Secret Project on 4 mm needles it was total moan and bane and horrible crooked knotty things.  Then I made it worse by adding a new yarn to Secret Project #1 that had BOBBLES on it.  I did not, of course, realise that they were, you know, REAL bobbles.  I thought they were just flecks of colour.  Nooooo.  When I got them home and cast them on the needles the ghastly reality was revealed.  Bobbles.  After struggling through a square of that diabolical stuff the ordinary smooth 4 mm is positively feasible.  And then . . .

            Okay.  I need to hang photos.  Among other things I need to demonstrate to doubters that I am not indulging in my bent for fantasy:  the (various) squares are mounting up.  But I’m not going to do it tonight.†††  For one thing, I want a little time for knitting before I go to bed. 

* * *

* Must get some better lighting sorted out for my standard chair at the mews.  At the cottage my knitting locations seem already to have suitable lighting but at the mews I’m mostly either at the computer or the piano.^

^ Hellhounds occasionally try to run between my legs in such a manner as to make me fall on the sofa but this hasn’t been working very well.  And yet I’ve still got some operas stored on the TV.  Supposing I remembered how to turn it on.  Supposing the storage machinery hasn’t been eaten by moths or grey nanobot goo.

             I am occasionally nostalgic for the bad old days of three or four TV stations, when all you had to do was turn on the power and lo!, there was a rerun of Wonder Woman or Leave It to Beaver, right there on the screen.  There was no 437-button remote and yes, you did have to get up to change the channel, but that meant channel-surfing hadn’t been invented yet.  There was no forty pages of on-screen menu, including the page of instructions and inexplicable acronyms.  In America the stuff just came beaming in, over here you were (and are) expected to pay a relatively minimal yearly TV license fee—and the stuff still just came beaming in.  Only weird people had satellite—only the wealthy and/or obsessed paid proper money for TV.   There were only 9,813 ways for everything to go horribly wrong, instead of several gazillion, most of them involving long queues on the telephone to your ginormous corporate personal beam provider whose customer service centre is located on several of the larger of Saturn’s moons, and attended by inadequately trained aliens with a rudimentary grasp of all human language, which does not seem to include English at all.  You didn’t use to have to have a frelling password to watch TV.+

           I think that the pinnacle of the home entertainment system happened somewhere in the mid-80s, when using  VCRs stopped being slightly more complex than a combination of the Large Hadron Collider and the Tardis, and before two billion channels became the norm++ and you were obliged to develop a close personal relationship with an electronic negotiation consultant whom you need to answer questions at those times when the telemetry to Saturn’s moons is down. +++ 

            I was originally thinking that I might finally get back to watching TV—I’m sure hellhounds can learn not to lie on my knitting.=  But maybe I’ll just stick to knitting.

+ Passwords:  the Unacknowledged True Destroyer of the Modern World and Civilisation as We Have Known It.  Global warming?  No.  Terrorism?  No.  Cheap nasty acrylic yarn?  No.  The real villain is the  malign proliferation of passwords.  I think passwords may be the grey goo of urban myth. 

++of which no less than 51% by contract are home shopping networks, which does offer some relief to someone wanting dragons or the Doctor. 

+++At least one chronometric exception to stopping in the mid-eighties must be made:  Buffy.  Buffy is necessary. 

= Okay, not sure sure 

** Supposing they are neat, which is still a somewhat aggrieved issue.  

*** See previous footnote 

† Yes I do have them.  And I’m planning on keeping them. 

†† It’s also supposed to be a good defense against arthritis and rheumatism, which would be me^—also Alzheimer’s.  Mmm.  There’s Alzheimer’s in my biological family, and I have friends who’ve nursed Alzheimer’s relatives, so I’m most emphatically not being offhand about Alzheimer’s, which may be the ugliest, most horrible disease ever, or is anyway in the top three.  But have you noticed the way ‘prevents Alzheimer’s’ has become a buzz phrase?  Chocolate, champagne, fantasy novels, singing, hellhounds, they all prevent Alzheimer’s.  There are periodic little flurries in the bell-ringing world about method ringing being a preventative—and there are always the sad rebuttal stories about the multiple-surprise-peal ringers who nonetheless developed Alzheimer’s.  I don’t know if anyone has done a statistical comparison between incidence of Alzheimer’s in method ringers and the rest of the population however. 

^ While I was poking around for mentions of knitting and endorphins, I wandered across several sites about overcoming depression—knitting again is cited for the repetitive motion thing:  it should include the fact that your repetitive motion produces something, which is to say, knitting, but I didn’t read that far—and was reminded that a favourite folk remedy for depression is potatoes.  So long as you don’t eat so many that you get depressed about the whole new wardrobe you have to buy.  I had to go off potatoes and tomatoes—another notorious health food—a few years ago when menopause began to bite, and rheumatism with it.  Works a treat.  I don’t know if it’s permanent or merely a staver-off for some years, but I’ll take what I can get.  But menopause with its hormonal havoc is also when my depressive tendency went from something I knew was there to full-blown I’m-not-at-all-sure-this-is-worth-it, and the chief thing that kept me putting one foot in front of the other for about three years was the hope that it was menopause and would go away.  Which it mostly has.  But potatoes weren’t an option if I wanted to go on using my hands and walking on my feet.  And that’s aside from the fact that your frelling metabolism shuts down with menopause too, and chances are you can’t afford the calories.  I certainly couldn’t.  Unless, of course, I wanted to buy a whole new wardrobe.  Which I didn’t.+  Menopause:  one of life’s little practical manifestations of killer irony.   

+ You know those periodic la-la-land stories about people who claim not to eat at all—this is usually in aid of being at perfect one with the planet and not having to murder things to survive—if any of them is a menopausal woman, I might just believe her.  

††† And probably not tomorrow night either.  I don’t want to frighten the non-knitters, who seem to be a much twitchier bunch than, say, non-singers, non-bell-ringers, non-rose-growers, and non-owners-of-hellhounds.  Feh.


Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.