Another Loss, Juneteenth, and Some Knitting
Bad news again? Yes. I am afraid so. We received news earlier this week that my husband’s friend from Officer Candidate School died suddenly. It was neither war nor COVID related. They had been friends for many years, and it has been a very sad and difficult time. Particularly for my husband. I think that Marines are prepared to lose friends in battle. That kind of goes with the territory. This is something different. It is being faced once again with your own mortality, and then, to top it off, we can’t say goodbye in person. So, hard week. I have been knitting, parenting, cooking, and doing a lot of thinking.
I have no finished objects, but I am very proud of the fact that I have separated my sock snake and have begun knitting the toes onto it. I have abandoned the pattern completely, and I am using a method I learned while watching this video. I am not very familiar with Magpies Cottage, but this tutorial was very clear and helful. I used two different methods to pick up the stitches. For the first row, I used a 9” circular needle in US size 0. Using a smaller circumference made it easier to pick up the stitches, particularly because the yarn has quite a halo. I discovered a little too late that I don’t have any circular needles in the appropriate length in size 0. When I tried to pick up the stitches in the next row, I found that the sock was hopelessly bunched up on the small circular needle, and I couldn’t make it work for the second one. I tried plan b. I threaded some dental floss (I use glide waxed. It was what I had) through a tapestry needled, and that worked like a charm. It added step because I later had to put the stitches onto my dpns, but it was easy to do that. The cutting was a little bit scary, but after that one teeny little snip, it was just unpicking the loose ends. I finished the first toe last night, and I will probably have heels and toes done by tomorrow.
Rift is going well. I have separated for the sleeves and I am working my way up the front of the sweater. I have decided to knit it with a v-neck in the front and a crew neck in the back. I was on the fence, so I asked the peanut gallery. He chose v-neck front. I want to knit the pattern again anyway, so I may do my next one with the v in the back. I am really liking the drape of the Berroco Mantra, even though the top will be scandalously see-through. I have plenty of tank tops. That twilight color is going to look really good with jeans.
The design bug has struck again. I tried to avoid it. I already have several designs in various stages of completion, and I didn’t want to add to the pile. Sometimes, there is no avoiding the power of inspiration. Sometimes, I can see the finished design in my head, and I have to kind of reverse engineer it to knit and write the pattern. This was a little like that. The idea popped into my head almost fully formed, and I just had to fill in the details. I am a little like my 2e son in that way, or maybe he is a little bit like me. I prefer to push through and work during long periods of focus, and when I have an idea, I am often entirely at its mercy until I get it out. This time was no different. I tried to focus on my other knitting, but my mind kept wandering to my new idea. I finally had to put my wips aside and work on the swatch so I could measure the gauge and get some numbers into a spreadsheet. If you follow me on Instagram, you know which yarn I am using and why. I will have more to say on that, but not now. The design will be a fingering-weight poncho with a long ribbed collar. And stripes. There will be stripes. I really love stripes and ribbing (not necessarily together) as design elements, and I have a feeling they will be part of my work for some time.
What have I been reading?
Well. The Libby app strikes again. I was not quite finished with The Water Dancer, but another patron was waiting, so Libby took it back. I have placed myself on the hold list, and I fully intend to finish the book when it becomes available again. I mentioned in my last blog post how much I am loving the book. I won’t repeat my comments here, but I can tell you that I love it more than I have loved anything since I read The Shadow of the Wind about 10 years ago.
I am now reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Is it a comfortable read? No. Is it a necessary read? Yes. Real conversations cannot happen unless we are all willing to be a little uncomfortable. Am I going to make mistakes? Yes. Is it hard to face the truth about injustice? Yes. Am I allowed to ignore systemic racism? No. Not anymore than I can ignore what happened to my own ancestors as recently as the 1940s. Here is the goodreads write-up:
“In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.”
The writing is funny, informative and honest. It is an important read, and, better you should read this than ask your friends of color. They are already exhausted.
So, What else? It’s Juneteenth. It probably would not surprise you to learn that until recently, I had no idea what Juneteenth was. I was just bopping along through life, worrying about my own problems. I never really stopped to ask, either. And that is a real shame. It may have been a case of “meh. Not my holiday” or, yes, I really could have been that self absorbed. The last decade has been pretty tough on our family. I certainly did not learn about Juneteenth or the Tulsa riots in school. I am not here to make excuses, though. I have come to believe that Juneteenth is an important day for all of us as Americans. In case you aren’t aware, Juneteenth is the day that slavery as an official institution in this country was officially ended. General Gordon Granger and his Union troops rode into Galveston, Texas and read General Order Number 3. The language of the order is difficult. It starts off on a high note with:
"The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and free labor.”
Good start, yes, but then it goes on to say:
“The freed are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere." I found the end of the document troubling. In many ways, it underlines the amount of work we still need to do 135 years later. To me, it sounds like “Congratulations! You are free, but we suggest that you stay exactly where you are”.
Don’t get me wrong. Emancipation is definitely something to be celebrated. Slavery is a blight on our history; and it has proven to be an oozing, festering sore that grows in dark places with the accompanying racism that has persisted in our culture for far too long. Freedom is always something to be celebrated. I am in favor of making Juneteenth a national holiday. My favorite holiday has always been Independence Day. I am a dork (in case you were not aware), and on July 4, we always read the Declaration of Independence aloud. I am always in tears by the end. I believe in the ideas within it. Our reality does yet not live up to those ideals, but even so, I will take every opportunity to celebrate freedom. If you would like more information on the Juneteenth holiday, you can go to www.juneteenth.com. There was also a good article published in the Wall Street Journal today that you can find here. Have a proud and happy Juneteenth. We have a long way to go yet, but I will be right here, doing what I can to ensure that we get there.