Why I Don’t Blog About Knitting…

I tried to explain to my husband what my blog was about. This was after I made the decision to even tell him that I was writing a blog. In doing my best to keep my anonymity, I still wanted to share my writing with the one person I love the most. He asked me if my blog was about my knitting, and I told him that actually, I hadn’t written a single post about my knitting. I immediately began to wonder why that is. Knitting is more than a hobby to me, it is a passion. Yet, I don’t feel the need to write post after post about all my various projects. There are lots of other people in the world that do, but it’s just not for me.

Then, the other evening, I was browsing my favorite group on Ravelry and the proverbial light bulb over my head clicked on. Ravelry is a website that, to put in a nutshell, is similar to Facebook for yarn crafters. There are many different groups you can join and chat in, features that allow you to showcase your projects, yarn, patterns, books, etc. There are so many different aspects of Ravelry that make it a haven of sorts, for people who make things out of yarn. Within the various groups, there is a swap group that I’m a member of. The premise is that you claim an offer of yarn, then you immediately offer some of your own yarn, and then someone claims what you offered, and on and on. Though I have swapped in this group for years, and have acquired quite an impressive selection of yarn as a result, it is in this group that I feel comfortably surrounded by friends. The ladies (and one or two men) in the group are incredibly supportive of one another and are just, all around, great people. While these are friendships that exist mostly in cyber space, there is nothing unrealistic about these people. When one of the members had her house completely destroyed by a wildfire, there was an online auction in the group to raise money for her. People auctioned off their own yarn and supplies out of the desire to help one of our own. The total amount raised was over 5,000 dollars.

So it was the other evening that I was reading posts in this group that I came across a post by a lady that was commenting on my hometown. She thought I lived in a particular city, but was disappointed to find out that I didn’t live there because she comes to that city every other week for work and was thinking it would be “so cool” to meet me in person. That’s when the light bulb came on. I was very touched by her comment and it made me realize that I don’t blog about knitting because it’s not so much the knitting that is worth blogging about, it’s the people that knit that are worth blogging about. Knitting in and of itself is very rewarding. Having a finished product that is beautiful and nicely made is worth the hours put into making it, but the best part of all comes when you’re around other knitters, whether virtually or in person. They are your enablers when you are trying to decide which yarn to buy, they are coordinators to help you decide which pattern goes best with the yarn you bought, they are your supporters when you are working on the project, they are your teachers when you make a mistake and can’t figure out how to fix it, and best of all, they are cheerleaders when you finish the project.

For so long I stayed within the virutal world of knitting. I enjoyed my Ravelry group because there is a comfort to not having to interact face-to-face with people. I was (and still am) more chatty with the people online than I am sometimes with people in “real life”. But there came a time when I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and go to the local yarn store for one of their Knit Nites, and sit around a table and talk about knitting with people I could actually see in front of me. It felt wonderful! I have had so much fun with the friends I’ve made going to that knit group. When I got married two years ago, though, I stopped going. I found that it was more comforting to stay at home with my husband on Friday nights. I stayed in touch with the friends I had made. Facebook and Ravelry kept the lines of communication open. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to go again. This group of people that I gladly call my friends, started meeting on Saturday mornings at Panera Bread. I found that Saturday mornings make it a lot easier to leave the apartment than Friday evenings. I went this morning, and while we don’t stay all that long, only about two hours, it really makes me feel good. Just a small group of women who are all from different backgrounds, have different lives, some have kids, some don’t, some are in the military, some aren’t…yet, we all speak the same language, we all share a common bond…we all knit.


Is it summer yet?

Being a teacher is something that I’ve always wanted to do. There is no question in my mind that I was meant to be a teacher and when it’s time, I will retire as a teacher. Politics, standardized testing, teacher pay…all of those issues have caused a lot of people to change careers. I must admit, with all of the complaints that I’m hearing from people I know that are in this profession, I feel pretty lucky to be the kind of teacher I am. Where I teach, standardized testing happens one time at the beginning of the school year. The results of the tests guide our instruction for the rest of the year. There’s no test at the end to determine grade placement for the next school year. I get to teach how I want…I’m given the standards and I teach to them. It’s fun. Most of the time.

Despite all of the advantages of teaching in a non-public school, I still find that I’m burned out. Sometimes it’s because of obnoxious parents or a boss that comes off a little too blunt and abrasive during faculty meetings, but most of what I burn myself out on, is the work that I bring home. It’s probably a well known fact that teachers work longer than 3:00 on a daily basis, and that we have little to no extra time during the day to get lesson plans written and papers graded. So then why do I feel that it’s unfair that I have so much work to do at home? I feel bitter at times, almost to the point where I’m jealous of people with 9-5 jobs that can come home and know that there is no work that has to be done…aside from typical housework.

A colleague of mine, who I mentored during her second year as a teacher, told me that she has a policy that she does not take work home. She and I are very similar in that we don’t have children to occupy our time when we get home. So how could this woman, who is younger than me, have the right idea from the very start, and I still can’t get it after 10 years? There are many answers to this question…from always having my job as my first priority to time mismanagement. Whatever the reason, I am feeling particularly burned out and lazy this weekend. It’s Saturday night and I haven’t even started my lesson plans for next week. When I complained to my husband, he asked me how many weeks there were left in the school year. There was a lot of sarcasm in what he said. With one rhetorical question, he shut down my complaint. Public or private school, new or seasoned teacher, you can’t argue with the fact that there are 16 days left in the school year. With so few days left, there’s no room for complaining. I’m off to start my lesson plans….

Dreaming of Grandpa

There was a time in my life when my choice of reading material focused on the paranormal. Many books about hauntings and dream decoding graced the shelves of my bookcase. The medicine I take on a nightly basis has always put me into a deep sleep and every night I have lengthy, vivid dreams that I distinctly remember every morning when I wake up. It is for this reason that the books about dream interpretation were of particular interest to me. Having vivid dreams each and every night makes it fun to go to sleep. What will I dream about tonight? Many images in my dreams are recurring and probably mean something, but are too weird to even begin to look up in a dream dictionary. What could it possibly mean when my teeth fall out in a dream, or that no matter how hard I slam on the brakes in my car, it won’t stop completely? While I am always curious about the possibility of a deeper meaning to all the various scenes that run through my dreams, I am aware that they are just dreams. Sometimes it’s obvious that what I dreamt about was connected to something random I watched on television that night. But what I will not dismiss, are the dreams about my grandfather. He died when I was a senior in high school and not long after his death, I began to have dreams about him. In my dreams, that I still have to this day, he is alive and well–however, I am always confused when I see him because I know that he is supposed to be dead. It always appears that I am the only one who is cognizant of the fact that he shouldn’t be alive. From the very first time I dreamt of him, I have always felt happy and content upon waking up. In one of my ‘new age’ books, a psychic medium theorizes that when we sleep, our souls connect to other souls in heaven on a different level. Whether that is true or not, or whether I even believe it, I do know that there has to be a significance to the dreams about my grandpa. I’d like to believe that he really is communicating with me; letting me know that he is o.k. and that perhaps he’s thinking about me.

In a way, it’s odd to be dreaming of him because I was never all that close to him. My parents and I visited him and my grandmother in Florida many, many times, and yet, I never really talked to him. I knew things about him…he was very humorous and loved being funny. His hobbies included reading, listening to classical music, and looking at pretty ladies, whether in real life or in the adult movies he collected. Christmas was his favorite holiday–one that he began decorating for immediately after Halloween. He had a passion for painting, writing, and collecting anything related to trains. Though I knew these things about him, I also knew that he wasn’t much for conversation. This made it difficult when my parents took me down to their house to stay for two weeks one summer. My grandmother often sent him and I to various places together while she did volunteer work–a water park, a beach that could only be accessed by boat, the community pool. I felt so awkward around him when we went to those places and I desperately just wanted to stay at their house and read. My introvertedness made it difficult for me to talk to him. He never seemed to mind though.

One night around the dinner table on that trip is one that I will not ever forget. The three of us were discussing something along the lines of what I wanted to be when I grew up. The standard question that every adult asks a young person at some point or another. I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher, there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to do that. When that was my answer to their question, my grandpa looked disgusted and said that I didn’t really want to do that because I wouldn’t get paid very much. I felt a little let down by his response. I knew he wanted me to be a writer, as it was my dream when I was much younger. By high school, I knew that making a living as a writer would not be very easy. Surely my grandpa could understand that. It wasn’t long after this conversation that I decided I would be a teacher with a writing career on the side, which would fulfill my dream and honor my grandpa at the same time. While I am not a famous author, and probably never will be, my blog is satisfying enough.

Those 2 weeks in Florida were certainly not the last time I spent with my grandpa. There would be a handful of other opportunities to visit with him and my grandma. I’d like to say that before he died I was able to finally make a connection with him through conversation, but I never did. The connection I did finally make with him was ironically, through my writing. I mentioned that he loved Christmas–this is a gross understatement of his true affection for the holiday. A newspaper article was even written about his decorations, particularly the Christmas village he set up in the back half of their house each year. When I was in the 11th grade, he asked me to write a story for him about that village. He wanted it to be about the village coming to life. I obliged his request and my grandmother told me that he had tears in his eyes as he read my story. It wasn’t long after that I realized he was a writer too. He often sent me poems he had written. I was never sure if he wanted to know my opinion of them or if I was to just enjoy them. I never found out. He died not long before I graduated from high school.

And now, 15 years after his death, I am perplexed by his appearance in so many of my dreams. So many questions come to my mind about the reason he is appearing to me. The funny thing is, in my dreams, he never talks. Not once have I ever had a dream where he talked to me or anybody else. He just smiles. I don’t have much experience with death. There are only two other members of my family who I was somewhat close to that have ever died. I have never dreamt of either one of them. It scares me that they haven’t appeared. Their deaths were the result of suicide. It saddens me to think that they might not be in the same place as my grandfather. Of course, it won’t be in this life that I find the answers to all my questions. As I tell my students during my religion classes, we might not ever know the answers to all that we question–even in the life after this. While I’m waiting to see if I am telling those kids the truth about their inquiries, I will go to sleep every night hoping for a visit from the man that I hope is proud of me, even though my profession is not one he would have chosen. I hope that in some way, the little writing that I get to do will show him that I haven’t given up on that one spark of a connection we had during the last few months of his life.