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Snow Days

Weekend project time!

Weekend project time!

We’re expecting 16 inches of snow to drop on us this weekend. It’s nothing in comparison to the northeastern states and Canada – holy cow! – but generally that means lots of closures in Colorado. I used to regard this fact with some measure of disbelief. After all, in New York, if it wasn’t over two feet deep, almost nothing closed. You could be late to work, but you were still expected to be there, so the first time Aneira’s school closed down here, I was shocked, because there was less than two inches of snow on the ground. Why on earth were they closing?

It took me a couple of years, but I think I’ve figured it out: every single road here has curves or grades. Every. Single. Road. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Picture driving that. I can’t speak for the private schools, but the public schools in my area do not bus, so you’re driving your kids to school and back every day. Just doing that accounts for four trips in the vehicle per day, not including whatever else you have to do. Granted, they’re short hops, but the statistics say that most accidents occur close to home, so that’s four opportunities to wreck your vehicle, not to mention yourself. Then factor in teenaged drivers, cocky with owning their first car. Then factor in other people who shouldn’t be driving: those elderly people who haven’t yet come to the realization that their eyesight isn’t quite good enough anymore, drunks, stoners driving high…add all that up together with curvy roads, or hilly ones. Yeah, I’m thinking staying off the street is a very shiny idea! Sure, there are people who are very capable of driving in bad weather, who know to slow down, how to avoid locking up the brakes, who drive defensively at all times…and then there are those others. Even the best drivers can’t always avoid an accident.

That being said, before things hit the nasty point today, we had errands to run, one of which was for some thick yarn to keep me busy the rest of the weekend after homework is done. Once the girls saw my turban headband, there was no end to the clamoring for me to make one for each of them. I used some of the remaining white yarn to make one for Bryony already, and started another one for Aneira. Then I made a realization: if they both have headbands in the same color, the arguments would be epic. New plan needed. Thus, I went off to Michael’s and Jo Ann Fabric for some hot pink yarn for Aneira, teal blue for Bryony, and purple, of course, for me. This oughta keep me happy for the weekend!

Now that thicker yarns are finally on my radar, I foresee buying more of them. They’re fun for short projects like the headbands, and look just as pretty as fingering and sock yarn. I had a very hard time today, keeping it down to three skeins of yarn, but I had limited myself to spending only a certain amount, and there were a few there that, though I wanted them badly, one skein alone was two-thirds of my budget! There was a skein of a deep, dark purple, with something sparkly all through it, and it was gorgeous, but it would have cost too much today, so I very sadly bid it adieu, at least for now. Thankfully, the BPD wasn’t acting up today, so no manic phase, where I wouldn’t have had a budget, and would have spent every dime I had.

One of the nice things about picking up a craft, any craft, is that it forces you to learn patience. We live in such an instant gratification, disposable world now. Learning something like fiber arts, or pottery, or stained glass or anything else, really does force patience upon you. You envision a knitted scarf in your mind. It’s gorgeous, and you want it now. Well, you’ve got two choices. You can knit what you see in your head, but it’s going to take you a few days to do it because you can’t sit and knit all day. There are kids to take to and from school, homework to help with, meals to cook, laundry to wash, whatever. Or, if you really want it now, you can go buy a scarf at the store, but it won’t be the one pictured in your mind. It certainly won’t be one of a kind!

Can you imagine what life must have been like during the medieval era for instance, when your life and your clothing depended on your own skills? You raise the sheep to shear the wool to spin into yarn to weave into cloth to make a dress. Or you went hunting a boar in the woods and took the chance that he would skewer you while you were trying to do the same to him, so you could bring him back to dress and cook and have meals for a couple of days. I wonder what they would think of our world? “You want a woolen dress? Well, there are thirty or more variations available in as many different stores, in all colors and sizes and prices – choose a place and let’s go get it. You don’t have cash? Hey, that’s all right, just use your trusty credit card. While we’re out, let’s pick up a pork roast at the store. We can take it home, toss it in the microwave because it’s pre-cooked, and have lunch within ten minutes.” Really, what would they think? How would the quality of our clothes, our food, our things, hold up to their opinions? How would they feel about the differences between our worlds? I weave and spin and knit because I enjoy it; for them it was survival. If you didn’t hunt, you didn’t eat. If you didn’t weave, you weren’t clothed. It’s an entirely different perspective. I can’t imagine they would really approve once the novelty wore off. We throw away everything, up to and including marriage. We have instant gratification in just about everything. We have instant mashed  potatoes, for crying out loud. Just add water, butter, and milk, stir, and voila!

My mom never made food out of a box, with the exception of cake mix. She made meals from scratch. We begged for Chef Boyardee to no avail, but the only way we were getting that was by visiting our friends whose parents were more agreeable. I realized before I moved out on my own, though, that Chef Boyardee and others were all garbage food. Now, in adulthood, I’ve yet to hear anyone complain that I made potato salad rather than buying it at the deli counter. No one prefers Prego over my homemade spaghetti sauce. Every member of my family would rather cultivate patience and wait for what I cook than eat pre-packaged food. Okay, there are exceptions. I haven’t yet convinced them that baked macaroni and cheese is better than that Velveeta boxed crap any day of the week!

But anyway, the point is that I think learning how to do things for yourself makes you patient by default. It’s not always going to work, of course, because sometimes you do want it right now, and we do live in a world where it’s possible to get it right now. Ah, but how much better do you feel when you’ve done it yourself? It took you longer, but I’d bet anything that the quality of what you made far exceeds the quality of the one in the store.

I also think that the more self-sufficient you are, the better off you’ll be in the long run, and when the opportunity comes up to learn to make something new and functional, I always want to try it. There are things I still want to learn: candle making, soap making, canning…and if I do, if the apocalypse does come, I’ll be able to provide better for my family, by the ability to give them blankets and clothing, to give them light and a way to keep clean, to store food, and I’d even be able to barter those skills to those that don’t have them. It’s a crazy way to think, isn’t it? But the world wasn’t always industrialized to the extent that it is today, and there’s always the chance that it won’t be again. We thought it would happen once before; remember Y2K?

So far I’ve only tackled small things like scarves, belts, placemats, crocheted blankets, hats…one of these days, I’m going to tackle a sweater, just to see if I can. I’ve developed enough patience now that I know I can finish a project. My only unfinished projects now are the ones I’ve had to frog several times just as I get into a groove. But I’ll go back to them…just not this weekend. This snowy weekend, my skills belong to my girls and the headbands they want!

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