Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas Challenges....

All festivities have their own particular challenges, I'm sure. However, as I was hanging out of the second story window of my house the other day, in the bitter cold, trying to reach the top of a twelve foot cedar tree, with my three-pronged cultivator, I decided that celebrating Christmas, in North America anyway, had more than its share of challenges.

Let me explain. Every year we put lights outside to decorate the house for Christmas. It's more about keeping up with the neighbours, or at least the more colourful and theatrical of neighbours, than it is about faith. It's also about cheering up those long cold winter nights with a bit of sparkle. Pagan rituals duly assimilated.

In other years, we used to decorate a small cedar tree on the front lawn with blue lights - OK, we are the more subdued neighbours. However, trees grow and what was once a child sized evergreen, is now a fully grown adult conifer, with attitude :) Yes, we could just wimp out and decorate the bottom part of the tree. But no, to do it right, we really have to start at the top.

This is how I came to be hanging out of our second story bedroom window in -5ÂșC for an audience of neighbours wondering about my sanity. Yes, I was still quite sane, although a little giddy from the height. Here was my logic:

1. a. The Plan - Throw one end of a string of lights into the top of an Emerald Cedar that was almost close enough to reach from an upper window. 1. b. The Problem - first, it took three of us just to open the window, after we had moved all the bedroom furniture to one side of the room. Fortunately, no one slipped a disc, pulled a muscle or sprained a something, however, we did bend a screwdriver or two!!

2. Adjustments to the plan - Just throwing the lights at the tree didn't work and I didn't happen to have a spare grappling hook in my back pocket. Sigh! What I needed was either longer legs or longer arms. Enter the three-pronged cultivator a.k.a. arm extender.

3. The re-purposed garden tool worked!!. The lights were anchored very close to the top of the tree. Now, all my husband (who was safely on the ground) had to do was wind the strand around the tree. Well, this bit of logic, needed some more thought as well. In fact, I had to use the cultivator more than once to lift the lights higher in the tree, at regular intervals, in order to get a decent spiral. This meant more precarious leaning out of the window. Maybe I was really losing my mind!!

Tree, upper window and moon :)

Finally, in a scene worthy of Romeo and Juliet, I leaned out of the window and said to my husband, two stories below, "You don't need me anymore."

He looked up and answered, "So, is this the end?"

Thirty-five years of putting up Christmas lights and we are still together. It's all in the obstacles and the surmounting there of...and maybe a spare cultivator and/or a grappling hook or two :)

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Ravelled Life.....

I realize that I haven't posted in almost a month. This is so unlike me. After three years of posting at least every other day and every day (sort of) in 2013, I am falling short for 2014. I can explain. You see, I needed a new sweater. Below is an explanation of how ravelling (knitting) in one area of one's life can result in the unravelling of the rest of one's life.

To begin with, the old sweater was still perfectly "wearable." OK, maybe there was an unravelled stitch here or there, but it covered up the "rolls" and kept the heat in. However, I was bored with it. Yes, after 23 years, I thought, really, I need a new sweater!! It's true, I could have gone out and bought a perfectly good sweater, probably for less than the cost of the yarn and definitely in less time, than it has taken me to knit this one. Knitting, though, is more about the journey than the actual product, even though, the product is often the reason the journey was begun in the first place - I know it isn't about reason - it's about escape, creative thought and dare I say Art (design).

The "adventure" actually began last March, when my friend, Julia, decided that I needed to start knitting again. Those who have knit most of their lives, know that there is more therapy in a knitted garment then a wall of psychiatric degrees. After winding a huge skein of yarn into a correspondingly huge ball of yarn, Julia handed me my "pill." Well it was white and it was round, but it was huge!!

I was now under an obligation. I had to do something with this offering. I thought about it for quite a while. I began a few projects, but nothing was ever right. Finally, in October, after I realized that I had arranged my spice cupboard in alphabetical order, I knew that I needed help!!

In less than a minute I decided to knit a sweater in Fairisle, using a pattern I had designed and knit several times before. The base colour would be white - remember that big ball of yarn - and using my general rule of thumb, "what colours do I have the most of?" I chose Coral and Mushroom. I really should have picked a third colour to work the sweater in four, not three, colours, but the other shades were getting low and well, there was the challenge of converting a pattern designed for four colours into a pattern of three colours. Knitters are also masochists, but you have probably figured this out already.

Apart from ripping back the sleeve several times, I am almost there. Today I will begin "and finish" the last sleeve!! It's a knitting thing. If the truth were known, there are more sweaters in closets knit for one-armed-bandits than anyone would like to admit :)

And so ends my excuse for not writing in almost a month. My creativity is obviously limited. If I write, I don't knit and if I knit, I don't write. Sigh!! Oh to be given the gift of many talents.

The pictures? Sweaters I have knit and loved and yes, I still have them. Why couldn't I have just worn one of them instead of knitting a new one?  You had to ask, didn't you :)

Have a ravelled day!