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Archive for July, 2009

Dumbledore YarnFirst off, I will not give a huge review here that will spoil it for all of you who have been hiding in a stainless-steel shed for the past 4 years and have, therefore, not read the book “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All I will say in terms of reviews is that it was great! Yes, I was one of the geeks at the midnight showing last night, and I’m still tired from the experience.

But I do want to tell you that Knitting has struck again in the Harry Potter movies. You who are Potter fans and knitters all know that there is a long history of knitting and cool knitted garments in the Harry Potter movies. As you may have read, I myself was inspired to learn knitting by the early-version Hogwarts scarves.

This movie contains wondrous encouragement to male knitters everywhere from our beloved Albus Dumbledore. When he finds a copy of “Knit One” magazine in the loo (bathroom) he asks if he can keep it, saying “I do enjoy knitting patterns.” I just about dropped my gummi bears from laughing so hard. It was indeed a beautiful moment.

As a male knitter, this declaration by one of the greatest knitters of all time warms my heart. Maybe more men, heartened by Dumbledore’s words, will take up knitting. Maybe more who already knit will begin to do so more publicly. Because after all, the world would be a much better place if more men had the balls to knit.

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A friend recently contacted me via Facebook (another addiction of mine) and, knowing I am a middle school choral director, asked me if I would be willing to work with her 13-year-old son on an audition piece for a musical. Having heard her son sing before, and knowing he has an amazing voice, I jumped at the opportunity. He’s also just a darn nice kid. We set up date and time, and discussed payment for my musical skills. When she told me the going rate in this area (I’m new around here) I was floored. I actually felt really bad taking that kind of money from a friend. But she also offered to barter…yarn for voice lessons.

PICT0003This friend is a knitter, and has quite a nice yarn stash, so her offer was to let me go through her stash and find an adequate amount in payment for an hour with her son as vocal coach. Now I must admit that I was torn. On the one hand, I could really use the money. But on the other hand, what if I find the yarn of my wildest dreams? We agreed that I would look through the yarn and if I didn’t find anything I liked, she would pay me.

I spent hours lying in bed thinking about exotic yarn possibilities…more time than any sane man could justify. My days were filled with thoughts of just how much yarn would be appropriate, and weighing the different yarn possibilities in my head. When it all came down to it, the idea of the barter was exciting to me, but I had no clue what I was doing.

So the day came. I rode my bike the 6 1/2 miles to their house, with my fairly empty knitting bag slung over my shoulder as if I was a postman. I figured there wouldn’t be more yarn brought home than I could fit in that bag. The lesson with her son went really well, and I just had an all-around lovely time. After the lesson was over, she led me to her room and there, on her bed, was an absolutely LOVELY¬† array of yarns, all laid out as if ready for market.

I wanted to plunge right in and feel the fiber flowing through my fingers; to stroke the softness of the alpaca yarn and lovingly caress the merino. Where to start? I brought myself back to my senses and thought of it from a project point of view. What can I actually use for something? And then, how much is too much or too little?

I started out with the Anne from Schaeffer Yarns. I knew that one would make a pair of wonderfully bizarre socks for my daughter, who is currently into wild socks. The creative possibilities are endless. Then I moved on to the Encore from Plymouth, with a hat in mind for a co-worker who has been seriously coveting my “Morgan” English-Style Driving Cap.

“Is that enough?” my friend asked dubiously. As I looked back at the yarn stash, one yarn kept calling to me. Not for a friend or family member, but for me. She had the assortment of Sunshine Yarns’ Harry Potter themed “Dragon” series, and the “Hungarian Horntail” had caught my eye. With a really cool and manly assortment of colors on the variegated palette, I knew this one had to be mine. Asking timidly if I could have this one too, she graciously agreed and I was on my way, thanking her for the trade.

I still don’t know just how well I did on the trade. This bartering business is hard. When you go to a yarn store or buy online, the price is clear: there is no mystery. I know that this will keep me busy for a few months, and that has value to me. The sock yarns in particular are of a very high quality, and I can’t help but wonder if I overstepped the bounds any by picking something that my friend had her heart set on using for something. Surely she would have told me. Or maybe I’m just thinking about it too much. The words of the Sioux warrior from “Dances with Wolves” keep coming to mind: “Good trade.”

And now, to find or devise a sock pattern that looks like dragon scales…

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Sometimes it’s necessary to take a departure from writing about knitting in order to reflect on the freedom to knit, among other personal freedoms those of us in the United States of America have. For those of you who read this blog from Europe, please forgive me for this diversion. I’ll be back to writing about knitting next time.

But I feel it’s important to take this time to say how thankful I am for the country that I live in. This is not always an easy thing for me. I have often complained about our country’s checkered past; I’ve been appalled at the injustices and atrocities committed by our forefathers in the name of imperialism back in the early days. I still wonder how many Native Americans can really enjoy a good Independence Day fireworks display. I am also often troubled with our current state of affairs; the unhealthy and unsustainable culture of greed which is affecting more than just those within our borders, and how the United States government often seems to take a “holier-than-thou” attitude in foreign affairs while corruption runs rampant within our system. My unrest with my country has at times even prompted me to fantasize about moving to Canada, England, or New Zealand.

But as much as I bitch and moan, I really do love my country. So below is a list of the things I love about the United States of America, and why I celebrate this holiday called Independence Day

  • Freedom to publicly bitch and moan about our government is an important part of our first amendment rights. I am thankful for this because without this freedom I would either be living a life of unhappy complacency or in prison.
  • Waffle House. It’s wonderful to go to a restaurant at 2 am and order hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered from a lady who calls you “baby”, “honey”, and “sugar”. Waffle House is a great American institution.
  • Diversity abounds, when within the borders of one country you can find majestic mountains, beautiful ocean views, deserts, forests, and people of many races, creeds, gender identities, and walks of life.
  • As a Home-brewer, I appreciate that I am given the freedom to make my own craft-brewed beers in the comfort of my home. That’s a beautiful thing.
  • I grew up being taught that “you can be anything you want to be,” and I believe it. It isn’t always easy, and often requires an insane amount of hard work, but I do believe this.
  • J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird, two of the most creative men in Hollywood. If you don’t know these names, look them up on imdb.com and get to know their work. Stinkin’ brilliant!
  • I believe that this country is headed in a good direction right now. I am positive about the future.
  • And most importantly to me, here in America we have largely broken down gender barriers which in many countries would make it hard for me to publicly knit!! As a male who enjoys a hobby that is often seen as feminine, I am glad that I don’t live in a country where I would be ostracized for bucking traditional gender roles and following my passion.

So there you have it. This list is in no way all-inclusive, but it’s some small expression of why I will celebrate today. I hope you all have a beautiful Independence Day, and I’ll get back to my knitting next time.

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