Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Turkey Tracks In The Snow

I love snow. I’ve entertained myself this past month with snow-themed colorway names. Cardinals in the Snow. Frosty Morning Glitter. Sunrise on Snow. Winter Grasses. Shadowed Snow Tracks. Winter Woods. Blood on the Snow…ugh. Sorry. It’s been a challenging week here at the farm. In the dead of winter, the wild things move closer, driven by hunger to hunt even at the edge of my yard. Their activity has eaten into my writing time, my knitting time…and fed my imagination.

I stare at the computer screen, note that it’s as white as the snow-covered fields outside and the next thing I know, I’m staring out the window. The dogs bark, and I seize the excuse to suit up in warm layers and follow them across the fields to see what they’ve discovered. An armadillo this afternoon, an injured duck yesterday that barely escaped the clutches of a bobcat. We’ve a cougar in the area, too, though thus far I’ve found no sign of it hunting on my land. Believe me, I’ve looked. I wander in the company of my dogs for hours, studying the snow, imagining myself in wilder times and places, straddling the line between reality and the fiction I’ll write when I return to the warmth of my office. Time rolls by, and I don’t even mind that the list of to-do’s isn’t getting done. It’s not that I’m not doing…I am. Stuff happens and I deal with it. I’m in reactive mode, though, in process.

Winter is my thinking time, my time of restoration and renewal. Much like the land around me, I rest. I wait . . . and watch, and consider, and gather what I need to prepare myself for the season to come. I learn, plan, and figure out how to do better this year than I did last year.

I knit and frog, knit and frog. I’m not satisfied with the selvedges on the swatches I’m making for the Masters II class. So I’ve been practicing. Knit and rip, knit and rip, and with each attempt, the selvedges look a bit better. I started a new aran sweater pattern and haven’t quite figured out a slipped stich sequence at the center back – it actually looks a lot like my selvedges, and that’s not good. And so again, I knit and rip, but that’s okay. Each attempt looks better than the one before.

It’s the same with my writing. I’m trying on a new genre and feeling my way. I’m not sure yet how the pieces will fit together, and what parts I’ve written aren’t pretty or elegant. Those long rambles through the snow with the dogs knock loose the cobwebs in my mind, and each return translates to pages written after dark. The day’s adventures weave themselves into the fabric of this new story, for good or ill. Patterns in the snow, patterns in the knit fabric, patterns in the story I’m weaving. It’ll all come together and make sense eventually. I hope.


Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Laura, your posts always fill me with yearning--the photo of the tracks in the snow is almost as lyrically wonderful as your writing.

How many knitting projects do you have to complete for the Masters II? How are they evaluated? By whom? I'm fascinated by the process.

9:16 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Barbara - Thank you, I'm blushing.

For Masters II - 21 technique swatches, a Fair Isle mitten, a vest, and an argyle sock (eeek!). Plus some written reports. Not so much knitting. It's the quality level that's such a challenge - I make (and hide) lots of mistakes. Evaluation is by a committee of knitting experts from TKGA - you mail in the package and wait for the comments and evaluation to come back.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Just the thought of 21 technique swatches is enough to send me to the ER with a panic attack! And here I thought learning how to hide mistakes was the sign of knitting mastery! Imagine a world where you don't (or rarely) make any. Seriously, this is a fascinating undertaking. I think I mentioned once that many years ago I began a similar process with the Embroiderers Guild of America but lacked the focus (and very possibly the skill as well) to push through the task.

Now I can't leave without asking: what are the 21 techniques?

8:37 AM  
Blogger LauraP said...

The swatches are seams, increases, decreases, buttonholes, lace and cables, with various stitch differences. I'm stuck now on the seams since each piece is just 10 stitches wide, and my selvedges are much more uneven on narrow strips. I know what I'm doing wrong, I think, and just need practice. So I'm practicing.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Love those turkey tracks, Laura!

I hear you about cobwebs in the brain as you try on a new genre, too. Mine is a Depression-era story of courage, faith, love and the healing strength of forgiveness. Sounds lofty, huh? Ha! But I've got the first chapter done and am moving on, moving ahead to the second. And worrying, of course ... will anyone want to read it when I'm finished?

Good luck on your Masters stitches!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Hearing you talk about walking your dogs as you work out the story makes me miss my Max. He and I used to take long walks whenever I got stuck in a book and we always worked it out by the time we got home. There was something about being in motion and seeing his abandonment to pure joy in something as simple as a walk that calmed my brain and sent it more constructive directions.

8:38 PM  

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