A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Much To Be Thankful For

Giving Thanks

It is the day before Thanksgiving, an important holiday in our culture, and a great time to reflect on all I have to be thankful for. Walking in to my cave-office in the basement of Western Sierra Medical Clinic yesterday morning, which also serves as the food bank for western Sierra County, to find the place literally stuffed with packed Thanksgiving food baskets, reminded me that the days have passed when I needed outside food assistance. While a younger, single mother, I used to be a recipient, until I could go to the director and say "No, I can take care of myself, and other people need the help more than me".

That alone would be enough to be thankful for, but I am also very thankful for what generous, caring children I raised, and for the loving (second) husband I have. I am thankful to have meaningful work at the two non-profits I serve, and to have enough money left over from those jobs to be able to donate to others, such as the hurricane and tsunami relief efforts this year. I am extremely thankful, every day of my life, to live in the mountains, surrounded by beauty. I am thankful to be the guardian of other species, my cat and five donkeys; there is much to be learned from inter-species communication and I receive at least as much as I give. I am thankful to be creative and to also apply some of that creativity to charity knitting this year. I am even thankful to have lost my job in the past year, as it gave me the opportunity to reconsider what I could and should be doing with my life.

Knitting Unto Others

It has been a productive week and a half working on my Knitting Unto Others KAL items... I managed to come up with a much larger pile of yarns to use from my stash than I will be able to get through in just the next five days or so, but will keep knitting away after the KAL ends.

I pulled out this Irish Hiking scarf, made in a vintage wool boucle yarn, used double, and finished it (just a tiny bit at the bottom was left). It had been languishing since May. Posted by Picasa

The other KAL item I have finished is this great cable toque pattern I got from Jae, made in Lamb's Pride Bulky (look for Lamb's Pride to be featured in Monday's Product Review). You can get your own free copy of the pattern at her blog. Great fit... Posted by Picasa

I am also thankful for people like Jae, who post free patterns to the web that are wonderful and workable, having paid for hat patterns that weren't near as nice and functional as this one is... I will have to make another for myself, and currently have a worsted version on smaller needles in progress for a school-age child. A little side note before I change subjects: if you are making hats for your KAL, I want to share that I pored over several patterns and discovered that it is pretty standard to make a baby hat about 3 1/2 inches before starting the decreases at the top, a toddler's 4 inches, an older child's 5 3/4 to 6 inches and an adult's 7 to 8 inches. I would ignore those directions that say a woman's hat should be slightly smaller than a man's, and if you are making one for a gift, try to find out what the person's hat size is, or if their head is larger or smaller than normal to ensure a successful fit (gauge IS important here to get the right circumference).

A Lovely Evening

Late last week, Sara Lamb found my blog while surfing the net, and wrote to invite me to attend the upcoming Foothill Fibers spinning guild meeting. She said there would be a slide show of textiles from around the world, and a sale of fair-traded artisan textiles. I learned to spin, weave and dye while in my late teens and early twenties, and have employed those skills sporadically over the years, but didn't think that there was any place for me in a spinning guild (actually, I had to admit while chatting with Sara and a couple of other women that I met last night who are almost neighbors out in my rural area, that I don't want to return to spinning because I never got all that good at it, and it cuts into my knitting time).

However, a friendly invitation should not be ignored (heck, I didn't even know that Sara was a celebrity till Margene told me!). Turns out Sara had recently returned from teaching a class at SOAR in Colorado, and Eileen, an instructor at our LYS, Meadowfarm Yarn Studio is this year's guild president! I decided early in the week that I would make sure and rush down after work so that I could see all the lovely slides and textiles, and maybe even find a Christmas gift or two.

Lucky for me, all of our children left early, and I was driving down Highway 49 while it was still light! I was able to grab a few things to eat at the local market, and get to the event, held at the library's spacious conference room, in plenty of time. The textiles offered were under the sponsorship of Weave A Real Peace, a non-profit group of weavers and others whose mission is "empowering women and communities-in-need around the world through textile arts". An indirect result of their work has been to help preserve the cultural heritage where they provide technical assistance.

The textiles offered for sale were from Guatemala, but the slide show featured examples from around the world, including Peru, Lesotho, Mexico, Croatia (rainbow socks in all kinds of colorwork patterns!), Scotland (featuring a 90-something year old weaver making tweeds in the traditional manner), and the Inuits in northern Canada. It was a great program, and is available to show to your local knitting or spinning guild. Information about borrowing the slide show is available at their website.

This is an excellent organization to support, and their website provides links to many fair-trade organizations, so consider doing some of your holiday shopping through these organizations.

The group was very friendly, and apparently lots of other non-members turned out to see the slide show and goodies, so Eileen had everyone introduce themselves. I discovered two "near-neighbors" in the guild, Audrey, a beekeeper who lives on the other side of Camptonville from me (it is a far-flung, loosely defined town, and I am in the center), and Jan (or jean? - I was too tired to get it right, I apologise if she sees this) from Pike. I reminded myself that I spent several days in June camped with some equally wonderful spinning guild members from San Francisco, and was very receptive to the offer to join them for "Spinning Saturdays" even though I plan to knit my way through (do you think they are trying to suck me back in to the vast mass of spinning fibers?).

Thanksgiving Day Plans

We decided last week that this would be the year we didn't stay the course. Instead of cooking the traditional, large holiday meal, or making the annual pilgrimage (traffic fight) to join Glenn's family at Lake Tahoe, we will be escaping for a back-country road trip. We intend to return to Clover Valley to explore further, as well as the neighboring Dixie Valley, and even plan to camp one night or so, weather permitting. Weather is always sketchy here in the Sierras, especially this time of year, when the "winter storm door" is only ajar and not really open yet. The prediction is for rain on Friday, so I am hoping to be able to stay warm and dry while exploring new places. We are taking lots of extra cold-weather gear. We also want to visit Quincy, where I hope to make a stop at the Wool Room. I have foresworn from the stress of knitting everyone a Christmas gift, but Glenn's granddaughter Mia's first birthday is right around the corner in January, and I would like to knit her a few toys. Pictures to follow....

I hope that each of you has a happy and blest Thanksgiving, with those you love.


Anonymous Carole said...

Great post. Lots of information and good thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

3:05 AM  
Blogger margene said...

What a lovely post to read. Thank you for being a friend and sharing your life through a blog. It is wonderful to meet fabulous people like you across the miles and be able to build a friendship. Enjoy your well deserved trip. Hugs.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous DebbieB said...

I found your blog through Margene, and your voice is so gentle and kind. I live in New Orleans. Life has been difficult these past few months, and now that we are back on our feet, I am trying to give unto others as I have been given unto. (Is that even correct English?) It is good for my spirit to visit people like you. Have a safe and peaceful trip!

5:32 AM  
Blogger FaeryCrafty said...

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Love the hat :)

8:28 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Oh grand, *do* come to Spinning. We will not suck you into the spinning vortex (maybe. unless. well, I guess there is no guarantee!). Nice to meet you this week, I'm so glad you had the opportunity to join us.

6:43 AM  

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