Friday, September 14, 2007

The Out of Sync Mom

We just can't get it together today. My ambitious plan to go to Trader Joe's is being thwarted by my children getting intensely involved with an activity, then I get involved in my own thing when they are ready to go, so they get involved in something else, so I continue my activity, and so on and so on.

One activity I tried was to make a crochet flower from a book I have. I was always wondering what makes one person a knitter and another a crocheter. A year ago, I taught myself to crochet because I thought I'd be a crocheter. I'm not sure why I thought that, I guess I was daunted by two needles -- one hook seems so much simpler and harkens back to a time when people held the door open for old ladies. Well, I crocheted a square and couldn't figure out what I wanted to make, so I gave up. Now, I have identified a need. I need ponchos. Well, I got the knitting poncho kit and knitting I am. But I thought a crochet flower would make a lovely embellishment and it's a small project that I can try instead of making some meaningless square just to practice my stitches.

I reported my day to my yarn friend, and this is what I said:

We've just been hanging out and planning to go to Trader Joe's. But then I realized Suzanne has her hand-knit poncho on and I wondered why Gabrielle wasn't wearing hers. Then I realized because I hadn't yet sewn the pieces together. So I did that, meanwhile, the girls started dancing to one of the Putumayo CDs. Then they brought out Barbies and were playing some bizarre game that sounded like it must have involved the Marquis de Sade. It was sort of disturbing. As they were playing, I finished the poncho, but not wanting to disturb their creative play since they were really engaged in it, I decided to try the crochet flowers I read about in a book [I had been using the crochet hook to weave in the stray threads on the poncho, so I figured I'd just go with it]. So I did a really wonky crochet flower because I got confused and was single crocheting where I was supposed to slip stitch and I was just getting jiggy with the yarn [this is why I may be a natural knitter -- keeping the stitches on the needles is much more orderly and is easier for me to track what I'm doing, crocheting is just like "what the hell is going on here" chaos for me. I've got one hook, one loop and all this yarn...] Anyway, the flower was supposed to have 8 petals but only has 5 -- but Suzanne thinks its beautiful and attached it to her poncho and now Gabrielle wants one.

So, will we get to Trader Joe's? Tune in next time when Suzanne says "but Gabrielle's flower has more petals on it than mine!"

It was through this email that I feel I have come to an understanding of the crochet personality vs. the knit personality. Last year I thought I'd be a crocheter, but I think I'm actually a knitter. I gotta see the stitches on my needle, man. I'm lost without it. But I accept that about myself.

Knit not Sew

Okay, so I still haven't threaded the sewing machine that a friend so graciously gave to me. I still want to learn to sew, but this same friend was also trying to get me hooked on knitting and she has succeeded in that respect.

I learned how to knit when I was a child and tried briefly to take it up before my first was born. I decided to try again with a kit designed for kids. Hey, if it can teach kids to learn, why not me? The yarn was thick, the needles were big, it knit up quickly. I have knit two of them, one for each daughter and have started a poncho for myself. My friend also gave me the link to knitting help, which has videos of knitting and is very helpful to me when I get confused.

Other than the frustration of trying to learn to throw the yarn more quickly and pondering whether I should go "continental" rather than "English", I am finding knitting to be meditative and an opportunity for personal growth. I can be perfectionistic, but I can also be a slob (you'd have to see how I keep house). I was relentlessly counting my stitches after every row (well, with the adult poncho, I am actually counting mid-row using my handy-dandy stitch markers. Hey, it's easier to fix a mistake if you can identify where it happened).

I am now working with "eyelash" yarn that was on sale at Michael's. This is like the spiritual retreat of my knitting. I am often off count because it's hard to see the stitches clearly and I'm always picking up an extra stitch or not fully dropping one as I knit. Very frustrating. But, the yarn knits up very fluffy, so instead of being perfectionistic and trying to fix the stitch immediately by undoing and redoing it (or going back and ripping out the stitch), I simply leave it and note where the mistake occurred. On the next row, I just knit the extra stitch with another and away it goes. The fluffiness of the yarn makes the mistake impossible to see. I'm even thinking of renaming the "eyelash" yarn "Jesus yarn" because it's so forgiving. But is that too irreverent?

So the moral of this story is that with eyelash yarn, you need not go back and fix every mistake, you can move forward and fix it as you go. Or should I leave the mistake where it is and just live with it? I tried doing that with a broken kitchen drawer, but my mother-in-law fixed it when I wasn't home. So much for Zen.

The Socialization Fear and Homeschooling

A nice article about one homeschooler's view of socialization.

My favorite -- the author recounts a story of being scolded for talking in class and being told "we are not here to socialize." She then wonders, "If schools weren't made for socializing, then why on earth would anyone assume that homeschoolers were missing out?"

Why is "what about socialization" often one of the first questions we homeschoolers hear? Just think about it for two seconds and a whole slew of answers come:

-- why would you want your child "socialized" with or by other school children? Is anyone laboring under the illusion that much of school interactions are polite and courteous?

-- is socialization one adult per 30 kids, telling them what to do? How is this like real life?

-- how many quiet or shy children really wish they had been pushed at age 5 or 6 or 7, to interact with other kids their same age? See question 1.

Oh well, to each, his own. I, for one, am glad that my second-grader does not respond to my requests with "whatever." I am glad my second-grader doesn't ask me if I'm going to talk about "s-e-x" when I ask for a few minutes to chat with my friend alone.

I've got a post coming up in a few weeks on Life Without School that discusses my thoughts on socializing vs. civilizing. Stay tuned!