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I Saw Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman in Philly

Look, there he is in Philly, looking….just like he looks in a photograph. Which this is. Oh. But really, he does look like he’s supposed to and he sounds like he’s supposed to and he reads from his book REALLY well.

I got to go in to the city all by myself last night, like a big girl, on the train and everything. I was ridiculously anxious for a laid-back person, and it took about five stations and eleven rows on my new sock before my separation anxiety abated (clearly I don’t get out enough).

Nobody's Monkeys
(Hello, sock!)

So the author, instead of reading a short bit and answering a couple of questions and then sitting at a desk while people file by for hours on end, has decided to read a chapter at each stop, answer some questions and let the bookstore sell pre-signed books. I applaud the decision. We were entertained for a good couple of hours and didn’t have to stand in any lines at all, which I probably wouldn’t have done anyway.

The Graveyard Book starts off describing a family’s murder, in a very disturbing fashion, including the murderer creeping up on an 18 month old. Particularly disturbing if you happen to be a parent, (I can’t imagine that my 15 year old nephew will be quite so freaked) but it quickly moves on to the warm and fuzzy part. Of course, in a Neil Gaiman book, the warm and fuzzy part includes dead people and possibly vampires and something unspeakable living under a hill, but still manages to be warm and fuzzy and funny.

If you get a chance to go and see him, I’d recomend it. For someone who writes so creepily, he comes across as a surprisingly nice guy, and witty in that very dry, British kind of way, which cracks Americans up. (If British people over here always look a little startled, it’s because we can’t quite get used to our weak attempts at humour being greeted with such generous laughter instead of sarcasm).

In case you don’t get a chance, they’re broadcasting the whole thing, as recorded at each stop here. (I was sitting right next to the camera at this stop so while you won’t see me, there’s a chance you may hear me chuckle, depending on how they did the sound. Either way, you’ll have almost exactly the same view I had, from the third row.

Apparently it’s modelled on The Jungle Book. Must go back and read that.

I had a fun time. It was nice to crawl out of my rut and squint around at what’s going on outside.

In The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron advocates taking at “Artist’s Date” each week. It can be something as simple as buying yourself new crayons and colouring in, or it can be going to look at something beautiful, or it can be something like i did last night. Now I see the value. I was inspired. Not to write a book about dead people and graveyards, mind you, but just to do the thing I love to do.

I think I have to. Otherwise, what’s the point of all this thinking I do?

Tension

I’m going through a trying time. In short, I’m having my second miscarriage in five months. But I have two lovely children, I have faith, I have friends and I have people who love me, so it’s all better than it could be.

But the other weapon in my arsenal, against the monsters lurking in the dark pools of my psyche waiting for an opportune moment to leap out and drag me under, is my knitting.

Stephanie has a theory that knitters are not patient people, but that while knitting, we exist in a bubble of artificially-induced calm. I am using my bubble as needed.

After I lost my first baby, unexpectedly, at 12 weeks two days before Christmas, I cast on a lovely, complicated, decadent, and beaded lacy cowl. I worked on it and made it as beautiful as I could. It was a challenge and it was delicate and beautiful and comforting. And I finished it, which felt like quite an achievement, in the circumstances.

On Monday as I sat in the waiting room, wondering if we were going to see a heartbeat or not, I couldn’t take out my current project in case the news was bad and the project was soured by association.

But after I heard the bad news and was dispatched to another waiting room, I pulled out my sock and looked at it. The yarn, TOFUtsies, is supposed to have antibacterial properties.

“Oh well,” I thought. “You can be my healing socks.”

(Then I immediately thought, gack, you can be disgustingly perky sometimes!)

But don’t worry, the wallowing in self-pity comes later with me. When it tempts me (when I get a chance, with two small children running around) I pick up my healing sock and it makes me happy. I love the colours, the delicacy, the way the yarn-overs spiral one way and the colours of the sock spiral the other. I love the feel of the yarn, and I love the stitch-after-stitch repetitiveness and the knowledge that if I get it wrong, I can rip back and fix it.

TOFUtsies Tidal Wave

I love that it keeps me focussed on the moment, on the present. And none of those moments are awful. I read about an author who lost her (eight year old?) daughter and turned to knitting to help her get through. How could she live through that, I wondered. That must be so much worse than my troubles. She must have had days when she needed the knitting to make her want to move at all. I’m guessing got through it stitch by stitch.

And that’s what I shall do.

Sweater RSI

OK, so all that 4×2 ribbing left me with a little RSI, so I’ve had to slow down the progress on the Manly Durrow a little.

However, I have made it to through the first repeat on the sleeves. (This picture taken a few days ago:)

Sweater Sleeve

There are some crazy cable instructions on there, but I finally figured out how to do it (I think). It’s the kind of thing where it is definitely better to follow the designers instructions than to wonder why, or if you can’t substitute your favourite increase or decrease.

Following her instructions creates a particular look and corners that I wouldn’t have believed possible.

I guess I haven’t done as much tricky knitting as I thought I had. I really like it. I think I need to investigate some Cat Bordhi…