Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yarn Along (#14)

Please forgive me, this is my second week of not posting a knitting picture!  All I can offer is the yarn I hope to cast on tomorrow.

(I've been knitting a design that will be published by a magazine for Fall 2011.  I can't post pictures of what I'm working on.  I don't dare even post the yarn.  But I'm working hard and my deadline is quick approaching, so I haven't knit anything else these past couple of weeks.  I'm hoping to finish knitting this project tonight, however, because I've got another project I want to start swatching.)

About 2 months ago, my husband took the kids out for the day, leaving me free to do whatever I wanted for 12 hours.  At first I felt a little panicky.  How often does a parent of young children get that amount of time to themselves?  What did I used to do with myself, pre-children?  And would I get bored?

I spent the day driving up and down the seacoast visiting some yarn and antique shops.  I did not get bored and I got in and out of my car several times without having to buckle and unbuckle someone out of a carseat!  And I was a good knitter and bought only yarn for which I had an intended project.  Ok, some people might consider that to be silly, and I did have to fight the urge to buy the most amazing orange Dream in Color, but I did it.

So I'm finally now getting close to being able to use the bulky Cascade Superwash I bought (pictured above).  It's going to be a sweater for my daughter next fall, and I'm hoping to be able to experiment with the construction and design and we'll see what happens.  Hopefully I'll have pictures for you next week.

This week I've been reading Give Me Your Heart by Joyce Carol Oates.  It's a collection of short stories and not for the weak of heart.  I love suspense and mystery and these stories are very good, but I'm going to the library tonight to see if I can find myself something a little more light.

And I finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which I wrote about during last week's Yarn Along.  I posted my thoughts about it earlier today, if you care to read that.

What are you knitting and reading this week?  And if you're a sock knitter, have you got a must knit sock pattern that I can try?

Thanks to Ginny at small things for hosting another Yarn Along.

Cinderella Ate my Daughter

During last week's Yarn Along, I posted that I was reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  I found this book interesting enough that I wanted to give some space to it here on my blog.  If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Illustration by R. Anning Bell from Grimm's Household Tales, © 1912.
I have been no fan of the Disney princesses.  Since the birth of my first child just about 7 years ago, it has been an ongoing struggle.  That's why, when I heard about the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, I knew I had to read it.

The most important thing I took away from this book is that mass media and culture have an enormous impact on young children.  Young children are unable to be critical of all of the advertising and marketing messages they are bombarded with hundreds of times a day.  When my daughters see an advertisement for a drug that helps a woman control an overactive bladder, they will be the first to tell me that I should discuss this problem with my doctor.  Nevermind that I don't have this problem.  Or, they tell me that I should sign up for AAA because they'll be able to help me if my car ever breaks down.

I giggle about those kinds of things.  But my girls are also being exposed to messages about what it means to be a girl and woman.  Sexism, while often no longer overt, is still alive and well.  Companies are no longer selling a Barbie who hates math (remember her from the 1990's?), but the toys and products that mainstream culture offers them encourage them to shop and be pretty and sexy--and not much else--in not at all subtle ways.  If you're in doubt about how advertising encourages women and girls to dislike their bodies, you need only look at the two most recent examples:  Dove is now selling deodorant for women that promises to make your underarms look better in 5 days, and Abercrombie and Fitch marketed a push-up bikini top to girls under 10.

As Orenstein writes, princesses "did mark my daughter's first foray into the mainstream culture, the first time the influences on her extended beyond the family.  And what was the first thing that culture told her about being a girl?  Not that she was competent, strong, creative, or smart but that every little girls wants--or should want--to be the Fairest of Them All."

We should be living in a time when girls have the world open wide before them.  They should be able to play any sport they want, excel in any academic field, pursue any career they desire.  But the focus in our mainstream culture is on pretty.  And that focus starts early--ages 2, 3, and 4.  Pretty clothes, pretty hair, makeup, big eyes, tiny waists, high heeled shoes.  The princesses don't achieve anything, except for marrying a prince charming they've just met and barely know.

Over the past 7 years I have gone back and forth between hating the princesses and their insipid story lines and thinking they're not such a big deal.  But Cinderella Ate My Daughter has confirmed my suspicion of all things princess. As Orenstein writes, "Even brief exposure to the typical, idealized images of women that we all see every day has been shown to lower girls' opinion of themselves, both physically and academically."  There is enough in our culture that devalues women and girls--women are still paid less than men, women don't occupy as many positions of power in the public and private sector as they should, 3 women die at the hands of an intimate partner every day.

Orenstein struggles with the idea that just as women and girls seem to be gaining ground in our culture, these marketing forces come along that define girlhood in a narrow, restrictive way.   Girls can now be smart, but they'd better be pretty and sexy too.  And we may have thought these pressures were reserved for middle and high school aged girls, but they're extending to younger and younger girls.  I don't need my girls thinking they are not good enough.

I want to thank Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree for writing about this book.  It's what motivated me to read it.  Lori has been writing a series of posts on princess proofing that you should read if you're interested in this topic.

Monday, April 18, 2011

inspired Monday: yellow

I've had a taste for lemons lately.  It started with a trip to the gym in January.  I was running on the treadmill and the TV was tuned to PBS.  PBS was running an old Julia Child episode and she and a guest were making the most amazing lemon meringue dessert.   (Talk about derailing my desire to eat healthy.)  I searched and searched online and finally found the recipe.  I made it one night and it was really delicious.  Time consuming, but worth it.

I was reading Rhythm of the Home a short while ago and came across these directions for preserving lemons.  I had Meyer lemons, not thick skinned ones, so I followed a different recipe, but I've been enjoying looking at my lemons sitting on the countertop and hoping I can sample them soon.

Which got me thinking about designing with yellow.  One of my favorite children's books is Gossie by Olivier Dunrea.  My youngest daughter especially loves this book.  I dream about designing a sweater coat in a gorgeous yellow wool and finding a pair of red boots to match.

I have no yellow yarn in my stash right now, but Genevieve of Sweet Basil Fibre Works has two beautiful yellows to choose from:

Sweet Basil Fibre Works "Sunshine" on organic merino

Sweet Basil Fibre Works "Meadowlark" on merino/cashmere/nylon

How can you choose a favorite?

And last week, while I was reading other blogs, I came across this beautiful photo by Tracey of the blog Clover.  Take a look through her blog and you'll see she really does take some of the most beautiful photos.

Photo courtesy of Tracey who blogs at Clover
On Mondays I've been writing about what inspires me.  If you've written about something that inspires you, please feel free to leave a comment and link to your blog post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

::this moment::

From soulemama

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Feel free to share your links to your moments below.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

my own happy forest

I posted yesterday about the cowl I just finished for myself using Dream in Color's "Happy Forest" colorway.  I think if I had to choose one color to knit with for the rest of my life, Happy Forest would be it.

My girls and I went for a walk in the woods behind our house today and I came across this moss covered birch.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but it will remind me of how quiet and peaceful our walk was and how good it felt to be outside.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yarn Along (#13)

Another week has gone by and we're another week closer to spring-like weather.  It's hard to knit and read indoors when I'm wanting so badly to be outside.  But I've started a thought-provoking book this week:  Cinderella Ate my Daughter, by Peggy Orenstein.  I worry all the time about raising daughters who will love themselves, be strong, smart, courageous and curious.  Cinderella Ate My Daughter addresses some of the more recent cultural forces that are defining what it means to be a girl, forces that are somewhat different than when I was a child.  I'll write a more in depth post about this once I've read more of the book and thought about it more, but it's holding my interest at night even when I'm tired.

I finished the cowl I was working on for the past 2 weeks and I'm in love.  I will say that as much as I relish spring weather, I was a tiny bit happy yesterday that it didn't warm up to the predicted 70 degrees until later in the day.  The morning was damp and chilly, perfect for a wool cowl!

And realizing I've never posted pictures of other projects I've shared during these yarn alongs.  So here goes.

The little one's shrug:

My oldest's cardigan:

and my Rosamund Cardigan.

What are you knitting and reading this week?  Thanks to Ginny at small things for hosting another Yarn Along.

Monday, April 11, 2011

inspired Monday: my kids

Last night my husband was unexpectedly called into work.  It was about 7pm, so the kids were in their pj's and we were getting close to their bedtime.  We were watching a movie.  (Luckily, the kids had been outside all day so we were just unwinding a bit.)  And my husband and I were looking forward to relaxing after a busy day of yard work, cooking, and just being.

I know the call jolted my husband back into his work mode, but it also unsettled the kids too.  They weren't expecting their Dad to have to leave, and so putting them to bed by myself was no easy task.  My oldest was very upset and wanted me to sleep with her.  My middle chimed in that she wanted me to sleep with her too.  And my one year old just always needs a little help getting to sleep.  So I felt guilty tending to my one year old while the bigger girls were feeling so sad.

The best I could do at the time was to offer to get them a hat and a cowl that I had knit (and that they love to wear) and let them sleep with them.  This made me feel just a little less guilty and it actually made them feel a little better.  Better enough that my oldest was no longer crying.  And I promised them that I was just in the next room, and that Daddy was only gone for a few hours and would be home later to kiss them goodnight.

One of the emotions I struggle with most as a mother is guilt.  I feel like I can never do enough for any of my children.  It's hard to be emotionally present for all three children when they all need different things.  If I could have last night, I would have cuddled with my oldest to help her feel better.  The best I could do last night was a bunch of hugs and kisses and letting her sleep with something that I had made.  It won't always work and it shouldn't--a hat shouldn't be a stand in for a parent--but at least last night it made her feel like she had some part of me with her.

On Mondays I've been writing about what inspires me.  If you've written about something that inspires you, please feel free to leave a comment and link to your blog post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yarn Along (#12)

Thanks to Ginny at small things for hosting another Yarn Along...

Just this year, as my oldest daughter has learned to read, we have begun reading longer chapter books.  We started reading Tumtum and Nutmeg:  Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall several weeks ago.  My children have really developed a love for this book and the characters.  Our newest ritual is to read two chapters every night before the girls go to bed.  This is a new experience for us--reading just a little at a time and leaving more for the following night.  They both get so excited to see what will happen next in the story.  And they love conjecturing about what will happen and whether they'll have guessed right.

I finished Pride and Prejudice last week and immediately started in on Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I first read Middlemarch in a 19th century literature graduate course and remember nothing about it (which is extraordinary given it's over 700 pages long).  During my grad school days, I often had to read just about 1200 pages a week.  At the time I was just reading to get through it all.  How did I manage to write a 15 page paper about this book?  It must have been rubbish.  Graduate school ruined me on reading.  I didn't read a book for 2 years after I finished my Master's program.  I was afraid I'd never want to read another book again.  But time away from school has renewed my love of reading.

I'm knitting along slowly this week.  I've been working on some other projects and haven't actually knit much.  I knew that I'd be doing this which is why I picked this easy pattern that I could just drop and pick up whenever I wanted.

I'd love to see what you're reading and knitting this week.  And if you have any suggestions for books I could be reading with my children, please suggest away!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 7 :: Your knitting and crochet time

When I was in middle school, my family moved from Massachusetts to Maine.  We spent a lot of time in the car to make visits to family who were still in our hometown.  My dad listened to a lot of NPR, namely Car Talk, and the Doobie Brothers.  I considered this torture at the time.  Actually, I still consider listening to the Doobie Brothers torture.  But I'm now a total NPR convert.

One of my favorite shows is This American Life.  I fell in love with it after hearing this episode: Fiasco, especially Act One.  I've probably listened to this episode over 10 times, and each time I hear it, I laugh so hard I cry.

I tell this story because I'm usually listening to NPR while I knit.  I listen to broadcasts I missed during the week.  Sometimes, if my husband has rented a movie I don't think I'll like, I'll sit next to him while he watches and I'll knit.  And sometimes I play my crap TV reality shows and listen to them while I knit.  I guess it depends on whether I want to use my brain or not.

Today is the last day of the Knitting and Crochet Blog week.  I've really enjoyed being a part of it and being introduced to so many other bloggers.  I've also found it a challenge to try to keep the posts interesting.

To reward any of you who've made it through all of these posts, or even just this one:

Beneath the Rowan Tree is giving away a copy of my Lucia Sweater and Hat patterns to one person.  The giveaway ends tomorrow.  For more details, visit her blog here.  Lori has an amazing and beautiful selection of natural play items that she makes herself and I've followed her blog for a while.  Good luck to all those who enter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 6 :: Something to aspire to

From Eskimimi Knits: "Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have."

I'd love to be able to tackle a big, complicated lace project.  I just don't think I'm at a point in my life where I can do that.  I can only knit at the end of the day.  And by the end of the day I'm exhausted.  I've tried lace before and I make so many mistakes that I just get frustrated and give up.  

This Wisp is an example (if you read the project notes, note how optimistic I sounded).  I really loved the yarn, loved the color, and loved the pattern.  But I felt like I was knitting with sewing thread, and I kept dropping stitches and having to rip back to a lifeline.  I eventually got so frustrated by it all that I gave it to someone else to maybe continue working on.

I'd love to try lace again.  Maybe later this year.  Maybe in a few years.  I've got my eye on this beautiful Lace Tunic from Vogue Knitting.  I got a postcard in the mail as an advertisement for Vogue Knitting and it featured this pattern.  It looks so lovely, but so complicated, and so time consuming.  And if I'm ever going to actually wear it at a beach, I'd better start 2 or 3 years early.

Friday, April 1, 2011

:: this moment ::

From soulemama
"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Mother Nature created a little hideaway for my girls this morning.


If you've stopped by, please feel free to  leave a link to your moment from this week.  Thanks!

Day 5 :: And now for something completely different

From Eskimimi Knits:  "This is an experimental blogging day ...  Yes, it's April Fool's Day, so have fun with the post."

At least someone is appreciating our April 1st snowstorm.  Yes, I really did take this picture today.  The kids and I built a little snowperson who we bundled up in my baktus.  The girls thought it would be fun if I knit him or her a pair of glasses, but I'll have to work on those this spring and save them for next year.


Want to win both Lucia patterns?

Lori, of Beneath the Rowan Tree, is hosting a blog giveaway this week!  She's giving away both the Lucia Sweater and the Lucia Hat patterns.  She's one of my favorite bloggers, focusing on natural play for children.  After you've visited her blog, be sure to check out her amazing Etsy shop.

Here's the blog for the giveaway:  Blog

Here's her Etsy shop:  Etsy

Thanks, Lori, for including us!


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