Thursday, November 1, 2007


In a moment of insanity, I have joined a community of similarly crazy writers who will each write a 50,000 page novel during NaNoWriMo. It's a national event to get writers to go ahead and write a novel, rather than equivocating and saying it will happen eventually.

Now, I hardly expect to create a Pulitzer-worthy novel--in fact, I would be happy if I simply finish with a novel in hand! But I do love the ambitious quality of the movement, and so I have joined it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ravelry, Love, Socks, and Chai Tea

[for non-knitters, there is non-knitting-related content further down!]

Having explored Ravelry's functionality further since my initial post, I can safely say that it is an amazing resource and community. It's a brilliant idea and so useful when creating something new. I wanted to knit Monkey [a Knitty pattern] but the pattern is written for a top-down sock. I prefer to knit socks toe-up but wasn't sure how the stitch pattern would appear upside-down. A quick search on Ravelry for completed Monkey socks revealed multiple pairs of sucessfully knitted toe-up socks with a charming upside-pattern. Rather than trawling Google results to find a specific modification on the pattern, I could access a veritable cornucopia of finished socks with notes on the yarns chosen and the changes made. Fantastic!

Ravelry's photo sharing settings require Flickr, so I have obtained an account [hence the sidebar addition]. I've posted photos of my new Victorian wristlets, one completed monkey sock, and some sundry items.

Yesterday was a delightful day as I drank chai tea and read a new cookbook, Veganomincon. It's funny, clever, and full of new recipes to try. It has even convinced me that I ought to expand my spice rack beyond the boring cinnamon, pepper, and ground ginger that I currently own. I'm put off by the cost of spices, but when they are available in bulk in a nearby store, I really have no excuse to stock up on at least some small amounts...

Besides several books, my latest reading material has been my dear friend Lauren's blog, Writings in Cursive. How could I not love the blog of a history major studying abroad in Scotland? Her writing is excellent and she takes wonderful photos, so everyone should go visit and enjoy her blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ravelry = True Love

This week is crazy thus far, but I have to share my joy because I am finally on Ravelry! I got on the waiting list back in June or July and today, I received my invite at last. I hope to get a nice link in the sidebar menu eventually, but for now, my username is sparrowlight if anyone is on there. : )

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Second City

Last night the legendary and incredible comedy troupe Second City graced our campus with their presence.

Beyond sketches, songs, and strange skits, a good portion of the show was improv--a ridiculous situation if there ever was one. How people can stand on stage and whip out lines after lines of dialogue or hysterical actions without knowing beforehand what they will have to do is beyond me. Certainly, they can practice with weird prompts during the rehearsal, but it's impossible to predict precisely what a group of [crazy] college students yell out.

What made the show particularly brilliant was that the troupe clearly either researched Davidson first or talked to students beforehand. They referenced Davidson's culture and events, which made the show even funnier. Also, for the last act, they brought Oops! on stage--Davidson's own improv troupe, who held their own with the professional group.

It was strange to have that event be on a Wednesday night, when it felt more like a Friday night type of event, but it was a great interlude to the week nevertheless.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Humanism, Carpe Diem, and Love for C.S. Lewis

Today was the first day of classes after the summer break; it's excellent to re-enter the world of academia. Both my French class (on contemporary France--current events and the like) and Humanities should be great.
The title of this post concerns this morning's lecture in Humanities, given by Dr. Randy Ingram of the English Department, who gave an introduction to the Renaissance and humanist thought before we began our first reading. He delivered a lecture full of enthusiasm, passion, and genuine enjoyment of the topics (or so it seemed). It is not easy to attain and hold the attention of eighty-odd college students whilst discussing Renaissance thinkers' fascination with antiquity or humanist motivations for study or other historical topics, unless the group of students are all personally interested in those areas of study. Nevertheless, Dr. Ingram managed to not only instruct the class, but he was also entertaining, making references to Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" and The Colbert Report. I had a personal moment of glee when he quoted C. S. Lewis, but I enjoyed the entire lecture.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Clutter, Messes, and Stuff

I keep stuff. I have notes from French classes in high school, articles from that I printed years ago, and enough fabric to clothe an army. My Mac isn't much better--so I have three Word documents for one essay, PDF articles from the Stone Age, and files for programs that I've uninstalled.

Although I can argue that the piles on the floor are "organized," the motto my mother taught me for years comes to mind as I survey the chaos. "A Place for Everything...and Everything in its Place" reverberates in my mind. A little creative clutter is good for some projects, but mentally it's difficult to function in an extremely messy space.

All this points to one thing--a determination to get tidy and stay tidy. It's sort of appalling how much stuff I have accumulated over the years. I read these "get organized" blogs--like Declutter It! and unclutterer, but the fact remains that reading blogs posts does NOT clean my room. It can give me ideas on how to be organized, but will not do my work for me. At the end of the day, I have to keep things tidy...not my computer.

I'll report on my progress (hopefully not lack therof) on the Great Get Organized Project. I'm working on implementing the principles of David Allen's Getting Things Done, so that should help as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Apologies, Paired with news

First of all, I am appalled at myself that I have not posted in so long. I certainly planon improving my writing schedule to prevent this sort of extreme lapse in future.

That said, here are a few updates--

1. Hunter's blanket is 100% finished! I will be giving it to him next weekend (not the one in two days, the one after that) and plan on having a full photo shoot.
2. Sockapalooza 4 is partially wrapped up. I sent Michaela her socks and to my delight, they fit her well and she likes them. What a great ending! I'm still waiting on the socks from my pal, who did send me an entertaining email.
3. I'm soon to start another Harry Potter scarf. This will be my four (!) HP scarf, in Gryffindor colours for my little sister.
4. The manly socks for my younger brother are finished too--they fit him well. I hope to sneak in a photo session soon.

More to come soon...

[edited 13.03.08 to add photo of sock-in-progress. Sorry for the strangulation effect with the yarn twisted like it is -- the socks are in good health, I promise.]

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The End of An Era

A momentous occasion took place today. During a tense episode of "The Next Food Network Star," I cast off the final border strip of Hunter's blanket.

This project has carried me through many, many hours of TV and movie viewing, late nights, etc. It's been my fallback knitting for so long that it will be strange to finally finish the project. Of course, tonight doesn't mark the end. I've barely begun the arduous process of weaving in the ends--a project in itself!--and I still need to sew the corners of the border strips. Also, I am debating a crochet border for stability.

In anticipation of finishing the blanket, I started another project--my brother's long-promised pair of socks. They are his present...from last Christmas. Better late than never, eh? I'm knitting them in Knit Picks yarns--Essential in Navy and Gloss in Serengeti (gold). The toes and heels will be gold and the foot and leg will be navy with one gold stripe at the top. I'm doing a small patterned rib. There will also be his monogram at the outer edges of the sock. I'm knitting this pair on two circular needles, which I've never done before. I ordered 2 24" circs from Knit Picks as well, and I have been so pleased with the needles and the technique. I can't believe it's taken me so long to try this method.

I've still got my sock pal's sock on the needles too--the first one is nearly finished. I love the yarn, but the pattern (2x2 rib) is so boring. I wish I had tried something more interesting!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Never Could Get the Hang of Thursdays

Sometimes days go by when I barely think of blogging, while sometimes I wish I had more time to keep this blog more current. I really admire the fantastic knitbloggers (and other bloggers) who manage to post quite frequently. However, my knitting progress, if measured daily, is not always that exciting. I have been working mostly (surprise) on the epic blanket. Now I am on the third border strip. I've enjoyed having copious amounts of garter stitch for movie and TV knitting, but it will be great to finally finish this project. It definitely wins for the largest thing I've ever knit.

Later on this summer, I plan to knit some vintage-inspired cardigans (for office wear to fend off the air conditioning!) from Interweave Knits.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Project Updates!

It’s been a great summer so far—lots of sewing, knitting, and reading before I start work. I’ve mostly worked on Hunter’s epic blanket, and I finally reached the border.

The other main knitting project is the sock for Sockapalooza, which I’ve been taking out during waiting times or car rides. The yarn is knitting up beautifully and it’s Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, one of my favourite sock yarns. I wish it were a bit heavier so I could use my size 2 sock needles, but I do have 1s that I’m using now.

Besides the knitting, I’ve sewn a green dress from Simplicity 4072. I was very pleased with this pattern overall. It fits well (the shoulders are a bit wide, but that is a common problem with commercial patterns and my personal fitting issues) and is quite comfortable. The sleeves are in two parts, and next time I make it, I think I’ll use just the upper sleeve.

I also have worked on my quilt, but hand-quilting is such a slow process that I’m sure I’ll be fifty before it’s done!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More blanket news

Here's an in-progress updated photo. The top edge is all crinkled from being gathered on the needle. That's the second-to-last section. The last section is half black, half blue, and will be knit at the exact opposite end. Then the border, in sand, will be knit all around. It looks wonky but isn't in real life.

Updates galore!

As the spring semester wrapped up, I became (surprise) increasingly busy. Now that the summer is ahead, I will have time to post more often.

Last week I went to Panama City for the RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) Summer Conference. At the conference, about 700 students from all over the country took seminars in the mornings and interacted in the afternoons. It was an excellent and informative week.

During the trip, I worked on the Turtleneck Tube Vest and the Sockapalooza 4 socks. The socks have already entered Sock Legend. The first time I started to knit, I decided to design a pattern where a diagonal row of yarnovers and decreases would zigzag symmetrically across the foot and then around the leg. However, I disliked the way the pattern looked knit up and decided to do a simple 2x2 rib instead. So, I ripped back the toe and started afresh. This time, I messed up the stitch shifting between needles and ended up with 2x2 rib...except for a section of 4 knit stitches. I unknit the foot section that I'd completed (not the whole toe) and got started again.

I also enjoyed a delightful moment as I reached the end of the second-to-last section in Hunter's blanket. The tan sections are the most boring, so I was very pleased to approach the 33 ridges needed. Then I re-checked my directions and realized that the section has 66 ridges instead. Fortunately I had two hours of 24 to enjoy whilst I knit these superfluous rows.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Our future is a big question mark"

Today Davidson College hosted a video conference between approximately fifty students at Davidson and about 25 students from the University of Baghdad.
Similar events took place at Davidson in 2003; one conference was held right before the invasion of Iraq and one was held soon afterward. Several Davidson students who attended the first two conversations came today as well.
The event was moderated and hosted by James Zogby of the Arab American Institute. He did an excellent job; it is not easy to deal with satellite lag, take questions, and steer discussion all at once. Satellite lag was perhaps the biggest issue; there were 4 satellite hops (Washington to London to Abu Dhabi to Baghdad).
We convened at 8 A.M. because of security concerns for the Iraqi students. Indeed, they did not even meet on campus, but went instead to a hotel. Several students spoke to the uncertainty of each day and the danger in simply getting to university. Besides having their lives in danger, many students said they did not always have electricity or running water.
As can be easily surmised, the main topics of discussion were the current occupation of U.S. troops in Iraq, the stability and effectiveness of the new government, and continuing civil strife. Most students seemed unhappy with the troops in Iraq, but wanted them to stay and help them fix the problems. They were happy to have Saddam gone and for the election, but mostly they seemed angry at continuing fighting and problems that were not assuaged by the presence of troops. Most seemed unhappy with the current government and thought that it was not effective.

I found this event unsettling. A lot of media outlets I’ve observed seem to say “Yes, there is violence, but in general the Iraqi people are glad we helped deliver them from Saddam.” The impression I got today was much more negative and almost pessimistic. I was delighted to attend, because of my interest in politics, but it was more sobering than I had expected.

Press Release
Article about first conference

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sock Pal sock yarn and new project

I stopped at the yarn store today where I work to pick up yarn for two new projects.

I got two skeins of this Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in 504 "Lakeview" for my Sockapalooza 4 pal. Hopefully she'll really like it. I haven't decided on a pattern yet; it'll probably end up being something I designed myself with a short-row heel and toe.

The other project is the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest (which wins an award for wordiest pattern title!) from Fitted Knits. I got two skeins of Cascade 220 in colour number 7813.

Now I just have to pretend the yarn isn't here until my road trip in a few weeks...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Project updates

I thought I'd post some progress pictures for my two current projects (there are more on the needles, but I'm mostly working on these two).

The first is Hunter's blanket. I've done a lot of it, but there are still a few sections left and the border as well. The pattern is from Mason-Dixon Knitting; it's the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. Because it's in garter stitch, it's an excellent movie and tv project. The blanket in the picture below is on my charming roommate's bed (thanks Sarah!) because I didn't want to photograph it on the floor.

The other project is the Sierpinski scarf from Knitting Nature. It's for on-the-go knitting. I'm just knitting it in dishcloth cotton yarn.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sockapalooza 4 assigments!!!

Sockapalooza begins today...the matches are in! I'm delighted to receive my match...won't say anything here about the details just in case she reads this, but I hope she's looking forward to getting a pair of socks.

Now I have to choose a pattern--I'm tempted to make cabled socks because I've never tried that before. I still love varigated yarns though! We'll see.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

April is the cruellest month

Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, 10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

T. S. Eliot, "The Wasteland"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tony Snow, Class of '77, Visits Davidson College

Today Davidson had the privilege of hearing Tony Snow speak on the topic of liberal arts education and the importance of critical writing and thinking skills. The lecture was not planned well in advance; rather, Mr. Snow was in town this weekend for alumni events and he graciously agreed to speak to students briefly.

He gave a few brief remarks on the importance of brevity in thought and writing, but then spent the rest of the hour answering questions. Question-and-answer sessions tend to make me nervous; I’m always afraid that someone will ask a dumb question or worse, attack the speaker. Fortunately, only one student fell into the latter category. His question—one of those that last five minutes before getting to the point—seemed designed to trip up Mr. Snow and criticize some of his past action. Despite the student repeated efforts to engage Mr. Snow in his bizarre dialogue, Mr. Snow simply refused to fall for the bait.

The most surprising and pleasing element of his talk was the humorous aspect. “When people stop laughing at politicians, that’s a problem,” he said. Responding to a question about his opinion of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, and satirical commentary, he reminded the crowd of students that laughing at yourself and at others is important and not something to avoid.

Questions ranged from asking Mr. Snow his opinion on Fox News, to how he would explain the White House’s perceived “lack off transparency.” He answered each question with style and articulation. Though I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to ask a question—I was afraid I would speak too quickly and that he wouldn’t understand—I did at last. I asked what relevance a liberal arts education had today, in light of new technologies, especially blogging. He responded about blogs first, adding more humor, but then becoming serious in his note that blogging democratized the media—now everyman and everywoman who can access the web can share an opinion. Then he addressed the liberal arts education, giving his insight that college teaches you to learn; he said he’s in the “world’s longest grad school.” I love the concept of life-long learning, and thus found his position valuable.

Overall, Tony Snow’s lecture inspired me to be more articulate in both my speech and my writing. His notes on brevity reminded me of Strunk & White’s admonition: Omit Needless Words (also one of my father’s favourite aphorisms). It was a wonderful opportunity to hear him speak and also highly entertaining.

Sockapalooza 4!

It's almost time for Sockapalooza 4--this is my first swap and I can't wait to get started.

Not that I need more more knitting, but I love to knit socks. I need a new portable project for carrying around and knitting during the in-between times. Hunter's blanket is now so large that it has to live in its box and doesn't travel with me very far.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


"He first, I second, without thought of rest
we climbed the dark until we reached the point
where a round opening brought in sight the blest

and beauteous shining of the Heavenly cars.
And we walked out once more beneath the Stars."

(Dante's Inferno, lines 140-147 of Canto XXIV)

Though the Divine Comedy is one of those iconic, classic works that everyone is supposed to read during their lifetimes, I've never been assigned the work before. In the Humanities sequence, we are reading parts of the Inferno and Purgatorio, but none of the Paradiso, oddly enough.
The most interesting fact that I've learned about the Divine Comedy so far is that each of the three books end with the word "stars." Perhaps this is just the rapid Harry Potter fan in me getting excited, but I am reminded of J.K. Rowling's plan to finish the last book with the word "scar."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Time to Protest?

In light of the recent tragedy in Virginia, a discussion of campus safety in general has begun.

Last night on the news, following a brief coverage of the shootings, the local channel of Fox News interviewed directors of safety at UNC Charlotte, a local large university. They were asked how they would respond to a similar incident, and thus explained their alert system, the emergency call stations located around their campus, and so forth.

Students from VA Tech have also been discussing their lack of awareness of what happened after the first shooting, claiming that emails were vague and not helpful. They have been critical about how the crisis was handled.

What concerns me is this: does society not have a period of grace or mourning during which criticism is frowned upon? Can the campus not have a time to grieve before others and outside parties begin to critique their methods of handling the situation. Naturally, the students are an exception, because they are part of the campus, but nevertheless. It seems that as soon as tragedy strikes, someone is blamed for not preventing or dealing with it in a better manner.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Poem for Monday

Rather than exclaim over my shock at how cold it is for an April day, I'll substitute by offering a personal poem. When my French class last semester centered around poetry analysis, I found it extremely challenging. Because I lack a musical ear, I struggled with hearing the syllabic breakdowns and rhythms. However, I still enjoyed penning small poems in French. This poem grew out of that experience.

in translation

when I write to you in
it becomes a labour
of love, of course and
of academia, of deliberation

and yet too scientific
les pieds se mêlent
I count the syllables, weigh
The hémistiche
like the scientist
who titrates carefully
o the wonders of analytical thought!

instead,I write in
my mother tongue
whose kind nature
and comfortable contours
that familiarity and welcome

reminds me of you

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Live at the Tabernacle: The Decemberists

Yesterday I saw The Decemberists in concert at the Tabernacle. I’ve loved The Decemberists for a while but had never seen them in concert before. When I read their tour schedule and saw that they’d be in Atlanta Easter weekend, I knew this was my chance.
My dear friend Lauren drove the two of us to the Tabernacle with half an hour to spare. We waited impatiently while laughing at the emo haircut* that many members of the crowd, both male and female, sported. The stage was already decorated with a large backdrop of a Japanese-style landscape and large paper lanterns were hung overhead. The floor and balconies quickly filled and at 9, the opening band came onstage and played approximately seven songs. Towards the end of the set, the crowd was clearly restless. Our fellow floor-standing audience members were complaining and we all wanted The Decemberists to arrive.
At last, Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and Joen Moem came onstage. They opened with the title tracks from their latest album, The Crane Wife. Colin made excellent conversation between songs, which was delightful. Sometimes bands play songs continually, pausing only to say “Hello [name of city]” or just “We’re so glad to be here in [name of city].” A weak attempt at interaction can ruin a concert or at least make the experiences much less enjoyable. Fortunately, Colin had no trouble, cracking jokes about the rats in the parking lots (inspiring a fan to shout, “Atlanta’s rats love you too!”) and breaking into a spontaneous moonwalk. He led the crowd in a contest at the end of “16 Military Wives” to see which side could do the “la-dee-da” part better. “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” featured an accordion, a huge upright bass, crazy percussion, audience participation screams, and an impressively imposing large grey whale onstage, made of what looked to be paper-mache.
While I had most anticipated seeing Colin sing and perform, I found myself drawn to Jenny, who played the piano and keyboard (among other instruments, including the accordion). She threw herself into every song, playing with panache and passion. When she sang backup vocals or had a few parts in a song, the audience gave her the recognition she deserved.
Overall, it was a fantastic concert. We could have listened for another hour, but the set did last for an hour and a half, which was fairly long. Even if the set list looks paltry, The Decemberists tend to have quite long songs—more 8-minute epics than 3-minute radio hits.

Set list (all the songs they played, though I can’t remember the exact order):
The Crane Wife 1 & 2
The Crane Wife 3
Billy Liar
Grace Cathedral Hill
O Valencia!
The Island: ~ Come and See ~ The Landlord’s Daughter ~ You’ll Not Feel the Drowning
16 Military Wives
The Mariner’s Revenge Song
Eli, the Barrow Boy

The Tain

*The emo haircut is characterized by short, choppy hair that includes fall-in-your-eyes bangs. Often accompanied by ironic small ponytails at the back of the head, its predominant color tends be black or brown. Blond streaks are permitted. Above all, the emo haircut must look slightly messy and unkempt.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A New President for Davidson

Halfway through my nascent post on Davidson College’s new president, I accidentally closed the web browser window and lost all that I had written. I’m taking that as a strong encouragement to write my posts in Word, save them, and then post them. Hopefully that will lower the risk of anger, frustration, and general angst at losing what I’ve written.
Suffice it to say that Davidson announced its 17th president today: Thomas W. Ross. He isn’t quite what my friends and I had hoped for (a woman president) or even expected (someone from outside the Davidson community), but looks to be an excellent president. As a graduate of Davidson and a trustee, he clearly understands the Davidson community and knows its values. Overall, I was favourably impressed by his speech. The head of the presidential search committee emphasized his faith and his humility, two qualities that are vital to any leader.
I look forward to seeing how Dr. Ross interacts with students in the months to come. Bobby Vagt enjoys great popularity among the students; it will be fascinating to see how well Dr. Ross assimilates himself.

See Also:
Official Bio
Press Release

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

La Negritude

The French class I am currently taking is L’experience noir en la littérature de la Caraïb et l’Afrique, or The Black Experience in Caribbean and African literature. Normally I would have taken French Romantic Poetry, or Women Writers of Medieval France, or even Modern France and Advertising. However, none of those classes or anything similar was available this semester. I knew taking a semester off would probably result in a degeneration of my French knowledge, so I reluctantly signed up for L’experience noir.
Aside from some difficulty earlier in the poetry analysis (who knew scansion was triply difficult in French?), the class has done a wonderful job exposing me to writers that I’ve never encountered in English or in French. Currently the topic is the movement “La Negritude,” which was a French literary and social movement inspired by the American Harlem Renaissance. The writings of Damas—short, powerful, staccato poems—and of Césaire—violent and rebellious exhortations—are fascinating. Even though I personally cannot join these men in proclaiming my strength and pride in my African or Caribbean ethnicity (my WASP status is fairly concrete), it’s stirring and emotional to just read their words. The call to arms for human rights after centuries of oppression applies to many peoples throughout history and not only to one particular place or time.

mais l’œvre de l’homme vient seulement de commencer

et aucune race ne possède le monopole de la beauté, de l’intelligence, de la force

[but the work of man has just begun

and no race possesses a monopoly on beauty, on intelligence, on strength]

from Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal

Sunday, March 25, 2007

And voila...

At last--photos on the blog! I have acquired a digital camera and will be adding photos to my posts. Now I can show the progress on the epic blanket and also add excitement for other discussions.
I took the above photo last weekend at Lake Norman. The tree had a wonderful, other-worldly quality to it.

On to the knitting:

Here is the massive yarn box for Hunter's blanket:

And here is the blanket so far:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Coming soon...

There will be exciting changes in this stay tuned. I'm psyched about the new developments.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Update on the blanket

After only starting the project on Friday night, the first block of the MLCB [Moderne Log Cabin Blanket] is done. I bound it off yesterday and picked up stitches on the right hand side for the next section. Since I cast on 76 stitches and knit 66 garter ridges...that's a lot of knitting for a weekend!
My picked-up stitches always seem to come out a little wonky. Even when I knit the stitch right after picking it up, and tugging the stitch so it's smaller, it still ends up looking weird. I like the wrong-side better--the little v's lined up look more uniform.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jesus Camp

Last night I saw the documentary Jesus Camp with a group of friends.

It was fairly disturbing and raised a lot of questions. The film is about a Pentecostal Evangelical children’s camp in North Dakota.

After we watched the film, we talked about the issues that the film raised, doing our best to not bash the leaders of the camp or anyone else in the film. Rather, we wanted to critique what was horrifying about the film and commend what was good.
One of the most interesting topics was the difference between teaching and indoctrination. If these children are being brain-washed into believing certain statements by a persuasive speaker who plays on their emotions, then how can they have true belief? If they are sheltered their entire lives in a highly insular environment where opposite beliefs are scoffed and disregarded out without any consideration, how can they stand up for what they believe in when challenged? For example, one of the moms who homeschooled her son Levi claimed that “science never proved anything” and said that global warming was a myth.

Nevertheless, the most troubling aspect of the film was the part when the leaders of the camp told the children to “stop being hypocrites” and “clean up their act” and then come to Jesus. There was no mention of salvation by grace or of God’s mercy. Rather, the camp was about training militant and coerced children to take over the country.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's epic...

Yesterday I commenced a new project: a blanket for my friend Hunter's birthday.

Like most gifts that I knit, the project was chosen with his input. I'm basically following the pattern for the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket in Mason-Dixon Knitting. The yarn we chose is Caron Simply Soft in tan (3 skeins), navy blue (4), forest green (4), and black (4).

I love all-garter stitch projects for movie viewing and nighttime knitting, so this project will be great. Also, Hunter's birthday isn't until October, so I have plenty of time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My heels can't touch the ground...

After yesterday's critique of "the zen of knitting," I tried something that is supposed to be genuinely centering: yoga.

I'd always wanted to try yoga but found classes prohibitively expensive and was loathe to teach myself from a book, for fear that I would do it wrong. When I found out that the community center was offering free classes this month, I knew that this was my chance to find out what it was really like.

Overall, it was quite nice, though challenging. I've never been flexible but I tried to follow directions. It wasn't as relaxing as one might hope, but that will probably come with practice.

It did occur to me that knitting was much, much easier than most of what we had to do during class. However, I plan to keep trying it and see if I improve. I did like the emphasis on posture.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Zen of Knitting

If I were to read the title of this post somewhere on the web or in a magazine article, my eyes would probably roll to the back of my skull as I shook my lace chart in the author's face, crying, "Does this look relaxing to you?!"

The trend toward comparing knitting to yoga, or meditation, or touting knitting as a form of self-help or therapy, always seemed to be fairly ridiculous. Perhaps if someone who was familiar with the craft decided to make something simple--a garter stitch scarf in a plain yarn--then that experience would indeed be easy and relaxing and "centering." But I've always failed to understand how painstakingly following a lace chart, discovering a mistake five rows back, and ripping out hours of work helped one achieve inner peace.

At the same time, knitting helps keep me sane. Long car rides without knitting or movies without knitting make me squirm. If my purse doesn't have a knitting project in it, then I'm prone to grumpiness when situations require waiting. And conversely, knitting during those in-between times reminds me of the joys of handicraft. Standing at the airport, knitting socks while waiting for someone to arrive--I'll remember that whenever I wear those socks. If it's in a doctor's office and all the appointments are pushed back, then I can be productive and avoid the decaying issues of Time from 2004.

Even though I will laugh at those who embrace knitting as the new yoga, or because it is trendy, or because some actress took it up, I can appreciate the attractions of something as simple as two needles and yarn. It can be as complicated or as simple as I desire, and that is beautiful.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New knitting projects

Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits is full of clever sweaters.

Top of my list to knit:

but in blue,
and this:

but in some other colour..maybe black.


[picture from Interweave Knits; this is not me or my shawl!]

I wish I had a digital camera to show a picture of the shawl I finished on Thursday--it blocked overnight and then was ready yesterday morning.
Because I lack the camera to document the finishing, here are the specs:

Icarus Shawl

Colour: greenish teal
Started: July 2006
Finished: March 8, 2007
Pattern source: IK Summer 2006
Yarn: Skacel laceweight wool (about 1300 yards a skein!)
Notes: This shawl took forever to knit because I took very long breaks. The first part, the long stockinette and yarnovers section, was pretty boring. Towards the end I never wanted to knit a shawl again. After it was blocked I started thinking about what colour I would knit the pattern in next time...another example of how quickly the mind forgets tedium.

Yesterday I started a new project, a gypsy shawl made from my sock yarn scraps. It's simple enough for with-movies knitting but the colour changes make it interesting enough to hold my attention otherwise.

Prose poetry

When I was in elementary school, the emphasis on poetry was that it ought to follow certain guidelines, contain rhythm, contain rhyme, contain meter and alliteration and metaphor.
In high school, the emphasis changed to "anything goes," but poetry still had a certain look--like broken up lines. It never stayed in tidy paragraphs like prose.

Recently in my French Literature class, we began to discuss poetry. At the beginning of our text were two poems, one a classical French sonnet and one a prose poem. I was skeptical. Prose and poetry never overlapped in my mind. They were two separate entities that did not meet.

However, reading the selection revealed poetic elements: alliteration, metaphor, and a sort of rhyme. Against my prior inclinations, I had to admit that this paragraph was poetry.

La maladie que j’ai me condamne à l’immobilité absolue au lit. Quand mon ennui prend des proportions excessives et qui vont me déséquilibrer si l’on n’intervient pas, voici ce que je fais :
J’écrase mon crâne et l’étale devant moi aussi loin que possible et quand c’est bien plat, je sors ma cavalerie. Les sabots tapent clair sur ce sol ferme et jaunâtre. Les escadrons prennent immédiatement le trot, et ça piaffe, et ça rue. Et ce bruit, ce rythme net et multiple, cette ardeur qui respire le combat et la victoire, enchantent l’âme de celui qui est cloué au lit et ne peut faire un mouvement.
La Nuit remue , Henri Michaux. ]

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A poem for Spring-

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

--Gerald Manley Hopkins, 1918

[HT: ]

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Welcome to Marvelous Things

Welcome to my blog, Marvelous Things. This is my first blog and I'm delighted to finally join the blogosphere after reading many blogs over the past several years.

The inspiration for the title of my blog comes from Micah 7:15, one of my favourite Bible verses. The context of the quote is about the works of God as "marvelous things." I intend this blog to be unlimited in its scope and discussion--music, books, politics, current events, craft, etc. Therefore, the idea of writing on marvelous things was greatly appealing.

Feedback will be appreciated, so don't hesitate to email or send comments.