Friday, December 14, 2007

imagination and reality

My sweater with the zipper is done...the slip-stitch cardigan that I designed out of my handspun. I have a vivid imagination and this yarn was so delicious...I imagined something perfect. I loved the fleece, loved spinning the yarn, and even enjoyed the knitting. Yet, I'm sad to say that sometimes I finish a perfectly acceptable sweater and feel let down. It's not....(insert something here) right. I wanted a plunging v-neck but not too plunging, a bulky lofty yarn in a flattering pattern for an average sized shape, a zipper because I thought it would lie flatter than a series of buttons. Also, 782 yards of handspun (all the wool that was left from this fleece) only allowed for a very deep neckline. As it was, I used tiny bits to finish the short rows in the v-neck edging. There just ain't no more yarn!

When I washed the zipper and dried it, it dried with a ripple or two which haven't yet flattened out on my body. This photo, shot with the detritus of my knitting corner in the background, is small because I'm not thrilled with any of the photos AND I don't think photos are so flattering when one isn't feeling good. I'm considering some sort of neckline addition in another yarn--just not sure about that. What do you think?

All of your encouragement (and a shove from my mother and best friend) motivated me to contact my kind primary care doctor. He got me an appointment right away, and then scheduled another with a specialist soon, along with handing me additional antibiotics. He was honest, maybe this was out of his league, but that no, I wasn't imagining anything, there's probably something else wrong. I'm hopeful that I will heal up soon. In the meantime, it allows a lot of time for thinking and knitting.

I've been wrestling with a different issue regarding imagination and reality. Recently, I've heard of at least 3 couples who are likely to divorce. In several of these, I've observed highly competent women, who are juggling mothering and work as well as most of the household tasks. The current state of our gender (in)equality is stressful and taxing for women who don't get support from their spouses. That lack of support is excused by underlying "traditional values." It's made worse by the ever increasing individuality emphasized by our society and its commercial culture--of course there's leisure time to play golf or video games, watch every channel on TV or to party with friends or alone. There's also no time for community building activities, that seem to support people when they actually need the help. The reality is that childrearing, housekeeping and working require much of our attention. Plus, if one wants to maintain a relationship and a community, that takes work too. Without honest community members to keep us in line, we sometimes lose touch with what's important. (family, not computer time?) It's not all fun and games, despite what it looks like on TV. While feminism means that women should be allowed equal access to everything that men do, it doesn't mean men are excused or exempt from those same activities.

Living in one's imaginary world all the time --without a reality check--sometimes breaks up marriages, households, and children's lives. My reality? The professor's great at assuming responsibility when I've felt sick and unable to cope with much more than the book deadlines and my health. He's done the chores, from buying the dogs' kibble to doing the laundry and making dinner. (He's also good at ordering take-out!) I'm lucky to have this, but it takes work for both of us. In collapsing marriages, sometimes a woman often shoulders all the burden, and wonders whether it's necessary to remain tied to an unsupportive spouse. I wonder what's going on societally that makes this sort of mutual, positive spousal support seem unusual.


Blogger Melissa said...

Divorce is too easy, I think. Speaking from my own experience, there are times in our lives when we really need something to change, and sometimes our Marriage looks like the clearest target. There is so little outside of our individual circles to encourage us to stay married, and so I think couples take this route too often, thinking that it will be The Solution to what troubles them from day to day.
Of course, there are marriages that cannot be mended. But I think that too often it is ourselves that need mending, not the relationship.

December 14, 2007 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Melissa, I think maybe you're right--we need have to mend ourselves, our partners, and take care of others too. I think I hesitated about posting this--it seemed sort of moralizing. Yet I can't say more about those individuals who trusted me enough to talk through things with me, and I know there are so many others out there struggling with this.

December 14, 2007 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you wrote here. I am reminded of Anna Quindlen's essay I read once, when friends of hers announced their "irreconcilable differences" when they seemed a perfectly viable couple to her: "Of course you have irreconcilable differences. You're male. You're female. Get over it."

--AlisonH at, trying again to get Blogger to let me comment

December 14, 2007 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I love the sweater! It's so hard to be upbeat about *anything* when I'm not feeling well, so maybe once you're feeling better the sweater will look better to you. :-)

I agree with you about modern marriages! I fully subscribe to the "both spouses give 150%" idea, and I think the absolute BIGGEST thing is to say "thank you" to the other person. I'm lucky enough to be a stay-at-home Mom, so that might skew my point of view a bit.

Hope your primary doc helps get you better really soon!

December 14, 2007 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger jenknits said...

I'm sorry to hear you have not been feeling well. Take a rest and take care of yourself! The brown sweater looks warm and cozy. Yeah, the neckline may need some work, but I am sure you will be inspired once you start to feel better!

December 14, 2007 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After many years of marriage counseling (literally), it became clear that I would need to continue doing the work of two adults for the marriage to continue. The marriage ended, because I couldn't do that AND love-and-raise our child without bitterness.

December 14, 2007 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Where fibers meet mud said...

Marriage is all about dompromise and meeting in the middle ground. Without time to consider what your ground looks like - finding the middle is hard - - I am blessed with a man that gives me quiet time to think and be which has saved us on more than one occasion - blessed silence!

I love the sweater - thinking that either a square neck shirt under or a scarf that is curly would be a benefit to the overall look. Something to make the v-neck more user friendly...

December 14, 2007 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Firstly, v- necks are tricky, because the layers are so on show, but with the right necklines & colours underneath the zipper sweater will be great I am sure.

On the divorce bit. Hmm.... I heard recently that old friends were going to seperate 'like everybody else they knew' but it was very friendly & they were still going to work together in their business. They live a long way from us, so our main contact is email & the odd call (that broke the news) & I must admit that I don't 'get it'. How often must someone have commented that they are suprised they are together because they have different interests? Because their children have grown up? Because ???? ....and then the seeds of doubt have set in perhaps? Don't know, but perhaps marriage is a bit like knitting, sometimes it isn't perfect, sometimes it needs frogging a bit, but its worth sticking at!

Bit philosophical for a Saturday morning, must still have some red wine in my veins from last nights staff 'do'!

December 15, 2007 at 3:01 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

That nagging feeling that the end result isn't what I'd hoped is probably responsible for my lack of interest in sweater-knitting. But if we don't try, we'll never have anything. Right? Given my almost total lack of knowledge about such things, I wondered about adding a nice deep shawl collar.

I have had a lot of thoughts about the divorce thing. My parents divorced, my mother's second marriage failed. My friends tell me about their children's marriages failing. The situation for working wives/mothers is certainly unfair, especially if they're attempting to meet standards set by the 'Perfect Wives' in the media while their husbands conform to the traditional breadwinner role. But I also think that modern happy-ever-after stories obscure the realities of marriage. Marriage is not always fun or easy or fair. When problems develop you have the choice of trying to build bridges to make the partnership work – or walking away from it. I do think sometimes, some people walk relatively early in the partnership because it's easier to walk than try to work through the problems. I'm not saying all breakdowns are down to this, not by any stretch of the imagination. Some marriages were mistakes from the beginning. And people change. I'm not the person my husband married, he's not the person I married, but fortunately we're still friends :-)

December 15, 2007 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

I love the sweater and the smile!!!!

December 16, 2007 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

The sweater looks good, and you look fine-- I like your idea of a neckline addition (if it were mine, I'd stay with the same yarn, but that is just me)

..sorry to hear that you are still not feeling tip top...hope the specialist will turn things around and get you on the mend.

as for the issue in question...
two words come to mind..
priorities and accountability...
(or lack thereof)

December 16, 2007 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger annmarie said...

the sweater looks lovely and you look very nice, too considering that box of tissues close to hand. ;)

December 16, 2007 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I'll be interested to see what you decide about your V-neck. I have a couple plunging neckline vests which work well with turtlenecks and long necklaces. In fact, the necklines draw the eye to the necklaces - an unexpected benefit.

Re: marriages. If my 1st hadn't broke I wouldn't be in this perfectly delightful place now. Of course, we do not have kids and we didn't know each other as youngsters - takes a lot of unrealistic expectations from our shoulders.

Sometimes moving on is a really good idea for one's mental health.

December 16, 2007 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger CatonsvilleCats said...

I have to tell you, I have been grateful many times over for being single. Yeah I do all the work in my house - but as I do it, I am not demoralized by the added thought that I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO do it. I know it's all mine and I just do it, I don't have the added drain of resentment and the weight of caring for an adult as though they were an additional child. Just my two cents.

December 17, 2007 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger CatonsvilleCats said...

Don't mean to pipe up again but I read everyone else's comments after posting mine, and I wanted to say a supportive word to 'anonymous' for summing it up so succinctly - that for her marriage to continue she'd have had to accept doing the work of two adults indefinitely. Sometimes that is just how it is, and it's not possible to continue being the only adult in a two-adult household.

December 17, 2007 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger CatonsvilleCats said...

Me again. I don't comment for months and then I can't shut up... As a single mom by choice this is a subject that I frequently think about, so that's my excuse... Speaking to something Melissa said, about divorce being too easy. I think the root of that is that MARRIAGE is too easy to get into. People don't really think about it enough ahead of time so they end up in impossible situations. I'm not sure divorce should be made harder, but marriage definitely should require more advance thought than a lot of people give it. OK I am really done now.

December 17, 2007 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're continuing to search for answers to your health issue. There have been too many misdiagnoses around here lately. Keep pushing your doctors, even though I know you don't feel like it.

December 17, 2007 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Donna D said...

Well, I don't have kids, but I say, "Don't marry a man who won't treat you as an equal partner and split the domestic work evenly with you if you both have jobs."

I think there are so many divorces because people get married for the wrong reasons (cute butt, infatuation, cultural expectations, and so forth) and with the wrong expectations (women with Cinderella syndrome, guys looking for another mom to wash his socks and cook his dinners).

But, frankly, I don't care if people get divorced. Since I'm not a parent, I'll speak as a child. My parents got divorced when I was nine. I didn't care then and I don't care now. It didn't hurt me in any way. (OK, we couldn't afford any more tap dancing lessons.) If two people don't want to be married any more, I just don't care. I don't think they should stay together if they don't get along just because of more misplaced cultural expectations.

Personally, I wouldn't stay in a marriage that required work. What's the point of that? Yech. I want my home life to be relaxed and comfortable, not a constant struggle.

December 17, 2007 at 3:23 PM  

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