Thursday, December 30, 2010

Taking a risk

I've been thinking about this post for a while but no matter what I did, the photos don't seem to represent the ideas well. I'm trying hard, bear with me!

Several folks mentioned that my last post was a good one. For those nice comments, I thank you! My dad particularly wanted to point out though that the first photo of Sally the dog looks like a black swan. I only saw a black dog in my snowy backyard, but heck, we always need other people to point out new ways of seeing things, whether it is the value of relationships or our photographs!

That leads me to this post. The professor and I are remarkably dependable "first" children. We are very duty bound. If family or friends ask us to do something (teach, help, whatever), we do what we say we are going to, with few exceptions. That said, both of us also seem willing to do more risk taking than many people I know. We take big trips overseas, move to other countries, experiment in weird ways in our work lives, and we try to reach out to new people--friends that are perhaps unlikely choices.

One reason I feel confident in experimenting in fiber arts is because I know the dependable parts of things...what is the worst thing that could happen? (Not much, actually, because it is just wool! Far worse things have happened to us during big moves or our travels!) Last summer, in the midst of teaching, entertaining, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I started a project. I used polar weight wool rug yarn I got for free on a challenging day. Using enormous needles, I doubled the yarn and knit it into a long flat rectangle. I planned to make it into a cushion, but when I got "done" (tired of it), it didn't look cushion-like.

Using an enormous tapestry needle, I stitched up one short side of the rectangle and pulled the stitches tight like a draw string. I stitched up the "open" end of the rectangle, and I made something that looked like a very floppy and deep bowl or hat. It still didn't look like anything.

I threw it aside and ruminated on the situation. One day, the professor was doing laundry...and I asked him to throw this "thingee" into the washing machine with a hot water wash. I imagined a hard felted bowl shaped thing would emerge. What came out surprised us both.

The washing fulled the wool (but hadn't quite felted it) and the bottom of the tube folded up on itself. It emerged all on its own as a rather sturdy looking hat. The shape reminds me of a Russian style hat, or the sheepskin trooper hat I bought for the professor. (He hardly wears it and says it is "too warm" to wear it most of the time. Note, it is -4F or-20C outdoors at the moment.)

The new "hat" is a bit too large for my head, but I think it might fit our resident student, who is coming back for a week or two this January to experience winter in Manitoba. She might just need a warm hat.

If that doesn't work out, it's not a bad felted bowl, either. Full of balls of yarn or a knitting project, I imagine there will always be another use for another yarn containment basket!

While I was getting ready to post about this experiment (a good metaphor for the much bigger risks we all should consider taking in 2011...), the phone rang. A local friend called, asking for coaching in replacing a zipper. It wasn't just any zipper though, it was a tallit (prayer shawl) bag used by his father. So, it was an old textile and a sentimentally meaningful one--this was something his father used for prayer, and now he uses, on a daily basis.

I could not believe the serendipity. I guess maybe I became known for taking risks in 2010.

That said, I coached our friend on the phone rather than in person, because the professor has a bad cold. I don't want our friend to get sick--and there is such a thing as too much risk taking for people like us (dutiful eldest children who worry about others)!

May you take risks in whatever makes you happy--safe risks only, please--in 2011, to discover new and wonderful things! Happy New Year!

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Blogger Willow said...

Your risking taking seemed to turn out ok. When I did something similar to some hand spun yarn, it didn't turn out so well. Maybe you could coach me over the phone too :) in the proper risk taking procedures.

Happy New Year to you and your professor!

December 30, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one! I thought that was the oddest looking goose I'd ever seen! I went back after reading about your dad's thought to look again. I still saw an odd looking black goose but eventually my eyes came to focus on....Sally. But then, I'm the who sees elephants & hippos in the clouds & ET in the woodgrain of my mom's cupboard door.

Happy New Year! Here's to safe risk-taking in 2011.

December 31, 2010 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

WHOA! PghCathy, you see ET in your mom's woodgrain cupboard? That's pretty cool...(waiter, I'll have some of what she is having!)

I think it's great that we can see different things in the same photo. Glad to hear you and my dad are on the same wavelength!

December 31, 2010 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it when serendipity serves up a wonderful product :*) All the best to you in the gregorian new year. I prefer my New Year to start at Rosh HaShanah, but the solstice change-over does inspire one with the additional daylight!

December 31, 2010 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Nah, Joanne, you don't want what I'm having...usually tea or milk. Every once in a while I'll splurge on a Capt Mango (w mango rum) but that's not the reason I see ET.

Do you think we train ourselves to see these things? Is it a right brain/left brain sort of thing? Just lucky? Let me go ask the teddy bear & reindeer in the tree trunk outside my dining room window.

January 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM  

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