My dog Dusty helped me knit while I wasn’t looking . . . or knitting.
These trees on the University of Texas at Austin campus are all cozy and warm. They each have their own hand-knitted sweaters. There are 99 trees and fortunately for them, no two sweaters are exactly alike; no trees were embarrassed and wanted to go home and change.
This art in public places effort was part of the Knitted Wonderland Project. For a few weeks in March 2011, the plaza outside the Blanton Museum of Art looked like a Dr. Seuss forest. It was wonderful.
The Texas Capitol building is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. These photographs are two of my favorites now.
The four most dangerous words — in any language — are “I can do that.”
I can do that.
Sometimes the meaning is clear: You see an item for sale that you are interested in. You know how to make it: you have the skill, the experience, the equipment, the time and the desire. You use what you saw as an inspiration piece. You end up with your hand-made item, probably crafted better than the item at the store.
For the rest of us who are mere mortals, this is a statement of many interpretations.
I can do that. Meaning = That is too expensive. You are certainly not paying that kind of money. Get a grip. You do without it and congratulate yourself for your will power.
I can do that. Meaning = You could make it, if you wanted, but you don’t want to and you are not buying it. You do without the item and congratulate yourself for getting your priorities straight and spend your time otherwise.
I can do that. Meaning = You want to make it, you have the skill, the experience, the equipment, but not the time or desire. Your item would have been better than the store-bought item. You do without the item and revise your personal history to slant the personal choices you made that got you where you are. You congratulate yourself because It’s Not Your Fault.
I can do that. Meaning = You want to make it, you have the skill the experience, the equipment, but you haven’t seen the equipment in who-knows-how long. You might have caught a glimpse of it last time you were looking for something else in the garage/attic/junk room. You do without the item and by the time you get home, you have forgotten that you wanted to look for the equipment and you forget to congratulate yourself.
I can do that. Meaning = You want to make it, but you have no skill, no equipment and more desire than time. You drop other activities to make room for this one. You spend a small fortune on equipment. You take classes, local or online. You are surprised that after one or two attempts, your results are nothing like what you saw in the store. That item was the result of double-digit years of experience and thousands of dollars in equipment and supplies. You do without the item, but don’t realize it. You consider yourself in training for the rest of your life.
This last scenario is not such a bad place for
me you to be in. You are happy with whatever progress you are making, even if you are taking a Zen-like approach and are in the envisioning phase forever.
And if I can do that, you can, too.
Penelope and Odysseus were a Greek couple who made headlines a few years back. One day Odysseus left to go to the market for some milk and was gone for 20 years. While he was gone, Penelope wove a shroud by day and undid it at night. This was a delaying tactic to put off suitors who were wanting to take advantage of her husband’s absence.
My Penelope Project is a shawl. My shawl has nothing to do with suitors, it has to do with my learning how to knit. I finally managed to step into The Yellow Sweater, a wonderful knitting shop in Buda. Lots of lovely yarn, so soft. I was inspired to go beyond my scarf routine and I decided to knit a shawl.
Here’s my routine: knit, knit, knit and knit some more. Discover that there is a glaring error several rows back. Emphasis on several. I put down the knitting for a week or two while I decide whether to leave the mistake there and keep knitting or undo it. I undo it. Then I put it aside for a week or two before I knit some more. Then I knit, knit, knit, only to discover a glaring error several rows back. Repeat.
After some three months of knitting, I have a shawl about the size of a bib for a baby doll. At this rate, it may take me 20 years to finish, the same time frame it took Odysseus to return to Penelope. (He said he was on an adventure. Uh huh, sure.) I’m thinking that milk was sour by then.