Friday, December 24, 2010

The underappreciated

While most of those around us are concentrating on a seriously big holiday, for us, this is generally a quiet time since it isn't our holiday. The professor took me out to lunch today and we watched everyone else rushing around. It's actually a relief not to have to engage in the hoopla of many people appear very stressed by it. (We do, after all, have our own hoopla several times a year--for instance, getting ready for Passover each spring or the High Holy Days in the Fall)

Early this evening, we may go out to a movie with some friends. Tomorrow we might go to services at synagogue since it's a Saturday. Anyhow, this time when things slow down for us makes me think about how people perceive "value."

The professor and I value quality time--with friends, with family, and with each other. A really stellar evening is one where we have a good meal with friends. Another kind of fantastic time is just a week night, where we sit on the couch, each busy near one another with his/her own task. The professor is often working on research or answering student email. I am often knitting. We take time to pet dogs.

All this means that we don't necessarily value big expensive things. Rather, we tend to value ideas, handmade things, and special experiences like travel. As a result, I save money elsewhere. I often buy things as a 'good deal'- for instance, yarn that others consider discards or leftovers.
Last summer, when I was teaching a lot and we had our resident student living with us, (she's a knitter, btw), we saw that there was an amazing deal online. A yarn company had some yarn they considered a mistake. They called it "overspun yarn." They sold this wool sport weight yarn online in big bags of 10 skeins for a dollar a skein and said it knit up at 6 stitches to an inch.. I could barely contain my excitement.

This first photo is only a small portion of the yarn I bought. (It got a bit out of hand...) I've since used some of this yarn for weaving a scarf. Lately I've been knitting a skein of it into a sock. It turns out that I LOVE to knit with this yarn. The yarn's hand is firm and the resulting fabric (at 7 stitches to an inch) is a delight. I cannot wait to see how it will wear over time...but so far, I see no fear of biasing or other problems that were predicted. Sometimes, a handspinner's knowledge of yarn construction is a valuable thing! If the socks wear well, I can imagine knitting whole sweaters out of this yarn sometime in the future, either at this fingering weight or doubling it for a firm textured thicker yarn.

This is what it looks like up close in the skein.

When I encounter yarns like this, I can only use them for my own personal projects. Since these "deal" yarns are a one time offer, discontinued, unavailable, or otherwise hard to find, I can't really sell a knitting pattern using this yarn since other knitters will want to knit the pattern in the same yarn as I used. Instead, I find I brainstorm ideas. Sometimes I reknit a whole project for a design in a more widely available yarn later, but the first project usually gets worn at home instead.

I'm also including Sally the dog in my post about the "underappreciated." Sally sometimes scares people who come to visit us because she immediately does an alarm bark and tries to protect me. She is a nervous, high strung kind of girl. Some of that is the Pointer in her. She's definitely a mixed breed dog, but if you look at her body and her behaviors, she might also have some coonhound in her...which wouldn't be a surprise since we got her from the pound in Kentucky, where there are a lot of hunting dogs.

She is a fast runner and an amazing hunter...even though we really don't hunt. (need a rabbit, squirrel or snake? Just ask Sally!) Sally is also very intelligent and practically trains herself to do all sorts of things. She taught herself to retrieve by watching Harry do it--and it took a while to teach Harry this skill! She is a wonderful nursemaid and will spend hours with me in bed if I am not feeling well. She brings me lots of squeaky dog toys and makes a nest for us!

Sally can sense if a new person is nervous around her. She doesn't like loud voices or quick movements. That said, once Sally makes a friend, you're really part of her pack for life. Certain friends and relatives who are either very calm or dog people have been rewarded with Sally's love. It is truly delicious, but not everyone has the patience or the right kind of calm nature to see it.

The professor is finishing up grading his final exam. He sits on the couch and either Harry or Sally "helps" him. Here is Sally, dropping by for a visit. She will paw at one of us gently until we pet her the way she likes. She knows that if she paws me twice, she gets 2 "pets!" Three times? Three pets...she is clever.
I think we all have a tendency to fall for the dog who is immediately affectionate (Harry comes to mind, if you've met him!), the super soft knitting yarn, or the things that are easy and/or expensive. Sometimes, it is a discarded yarn, an abandoned and skittish dog, or a conversation with a friend that can be really valuable in the longterm. I am counting up the things I value--and sometimes, it can be more work to see how truly incredible that overspun yarn, that anxious dog, or a complicated friendship can be. For me, this effort is truly worthwhile. Sally, and the lessons she teaches, are really blessings.

If you celebrate a holiday around now, I hope it is a joyous and meaningful one! If you don't, please come by (via the comments?) and visit with us over here on the couch...

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Blogger AdrieneJ said...

We always have a great holiday, because it's not about the presents, but about the many, many friends my family has, and how fun it is to be together (if somewhat tiring!). Today, we had 31 people and one little dog in our living room, all laughing and having a good time!

I also wanted to tell you that my hubby got me a copy of Fiber Gathering for my gift. I'd been eyeing it for a while... and he caught on and got it for me. It's such a beautiful book!

December 25, 2010 at 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in Maine means that we have a very similar winter to yours and we find that filling the dark and cold months with as many potluck dinners and time with friends, the better. It's truly a gift of time to sit and chat in front of the fire with our spinning and knitting. The anticipation of spring with the lambs and kids that are coming is somehow very satisfying. Any holidays that we celebrate are only meaningful to me if our family and friends are enjoying it with us! I am glad that you had a quiet and lovely day with your professor and your dog friends!

December 26, 2010 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

My favorite part of Christmas is time with family. As our children are now adults (and no grandkids yet) the presents take a back seat. This year we traveled from PA to GA to meet and spend time with the family of our son's finacee. It was wonderful!! We bonded over food and coffee and the love between our two children.

I am glad your blog is not all about the knitting and fiber, but you share your heart.

Happy New Year!

December 29, 2010 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger ayarnlover said...

Thanks for the reminder that value is not found in the quantity of "stuff" we have, but is in the quality of our relationships and in the way we live our lives!

December 29, 2010 at 11:12 PM  

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