women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sail Away

"So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

—Mark Twain

Wow! It's been a while, hasn't it? Time flies when you're having fun...

So, where have I been?


"But Susan," I can hear you saying ( What? You don't hear voices in your head? Is it just me? Me too. What? ME TOO! Shh, I hate it when you interrupt. Who me? Shut up and let me think...)

Where was I, before I was so rudely interrupted? Oh yes...

"But Susan, how is it you have been sailing, when the rest of us have been slogging through melting slush and mud? Have you been on vacation and forgot to tell us? You didn't even ask one of us to be your test knitter tourist to guard against inadvertent mistakes (luggage displacement, inadequate sunscreen distribution, dropped stitches sunglasses, etc!)"

Rest assured, I have not budged from the sunflower farm. I have, however, been traveling in my mind.

Next month, Scott and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary. And, while this is not exactly a landmark, next year's annual event will be cause for exceptional celebration. Every five years, we celebrate with a little trip. Our twentieth was marked with a week in Hawaii, and we enjoyed our twenty-fifth with a slightly shorter (due to the fact that I was enrolled in Seminary at the time) voyage to the wine country of Northern California. We had a wonderful time in both locales and are now beginning to look ahead to our thirtieth.

So, when I needed a break (yes, even I occasionally put down the needles) last week, I went to my trusty laptop and surfed the net for someplace warm, tropical, romantic, laid back, and cheap enough we could avoid selling the children into slavery to raise the necessary funds.

I spent a lot of time in the virtual world, looking at scenes like this:

To steal a line from Ma Bell, it's the next best thing to being there. It ain't spring break in Florida but, as diversions go, it ain't a bad way to kill a little r & r time...

And it got me to thinking (always a danger...)

How many times I wish the course was clear, and straight, and short, and direct.

And how many times I have to tack.

If you are familiar at all with sailing, you know that the shortest distance between two points may indeed be a straight line, but you can't get there from here, unless the wind is blowing in exactly the right direction.

Unlike other forms of boating, you cannot control your course; you can only adapt to the conditions that present themselves. You are, to a certain degree, dependent upon the whim and mercy of the wind.

So many times, in my life, I see where I want to go. And I do my best to stride ahead purposefully in that direction, only to be taken aback and pulled up short by a perceived setback or roadblock. So I must re-chart my course, adjust my sails, and detour around the obstacle, muttering under my breath ruefully, regretting the additional time and effort this requires.

When I reach the other side, I turn and survey the territory I have recently covered and can (nearly always) see exactly how I got there. And I understand how what seemed like an unnecessary circumnavigation at the time was, in reality, essential to my timely arrival in safe harbor.

But, at the time? Hah! I fret. I fuss. I try my darnedest to make the wind blow MY WAY, DAMN IT!

Have you ever tried this? Yeah, well...good luck with that...

I am not nearly so philosophical. I fight frustration, as, I am sure, you do as well. It is the human condition.

Sometimes, it seems we will never reach our goals. Wouldn't it be simpler to just ditch the boat altogether, and swim?

Even if the waters are infested with piranha and sharks?

It often seems that way, doesn't it?

But I know that God sees a larger picture than I do. I see the shore. God sees the full map of the Caribbean with all the shoals and sandbars clearly marked.

So I sigh; I let up on the rope; I pay out the line; I adjust.

Because I know something else as well.

If I keep faith, the divine wind begins to blow, as it always does. And it sees me safely home.

It is but for me to trim my sails.


After much tacking last week, Sherwood is well on her way to her desired destination. I am loving the seasilk's sheen and glowing green richness.

But it was not a straight shot across the forest. No-siree-bob!

She took on a lot of water in her construction, but every time I pulled her back, she sailed truer for the course adjustment.

A swagged design turned into a garter stitch leaf design, turned into a stockinette stitch, turned into a reverse stockinette stitch, turned into both!

A leaf insert turned into an all over lace pattern with some adaption and removal of extraneous elements.

And each time, I delayed posting pictures until she was a little further along on her voyage.

Before I knew it, a week had passed.

And I was still sailing...

Though this time, along a more manageable course, with the wind at my back.

At least until the next...



Wind shift...

In other news, look for a MD/AN errata posting later today (wOOt! BIG fun there...)
And make sure you visit the Woolen Rabbit. Kim has done up the cutest little stitch markers for the McGregor's Garden sock. Thanks to the industrious efforts of Donna Lee and Heatherly, the kit should be available soon!

Am also looking into reorganizing the website to provide easier and more complete access to pattern information. DH is workin' on it...


Is it any wonder, with pictures like this in my head:

I began thinking of a summer pattern called Caribbean Dreams?

Made out of this?

Now the only question is:

Which beads?

And what shape?

And what pattern?

I think I feel the wind comin' up...


Unknown said...

"I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky...and all I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by."

I so love the oceans and sailing but it has been so many years since I've sailed - and five since I've been near salt water.

I can see so many ideas for this type of knitting - but am not able to translate them to stitching. May your winds blow more true than mine in this quest.

Anonymous said...

I eel so fortunate to live where I do. I look out my windows and see Belfast Harbor. We open out into Penobscot Bay and then into the Gulf of Maine. No crashing waves here, but we have wonderful 12 foot tides. Right now, there are just 2 boats moored out there but come summer I will look out at sailboats of all kinds and sizes -- at least 40 will be within sight of my view. At night in the summer with the windows open, we hear the gentle sound of the rigging and chains clanging. And always gulls and loons.

I hope you get your time with the sea.

Donna Lee said...

I am not a good sailor. I get awful seasickness. Happens on airplanes and when I am a passenger in a car for long trips. I think Freud might say I have a problem when I am not in the pilot's seat. Good thing I don't believe in Freud.

Chrispy said...

I agree God has our life figured out but to us it is like sailing. I would never have suspected that my dreams would come true. That I would get to stay home all day and play with fiber. My Bible degree got me to study culture and religion and the art inspired by those. My second degree was in art. My goal was to go overseas and help impoverished villages start co-ops using handcrafts to send back to the US. During my time in art school, I realized that I was in the right place but headed in the wrong direction. I pulled back and allowed the wind to direct me. It was hard to realize that I was to not live overseas, since this had been a goal in my life since I was 5 years old. I was to stay here in the US and do what.

Through soul searching and leaning on the Lord, I realized that I loved fashion. Everyone who knew me was shocked when I realized this since I had the largest collection of clothing for someone of my age and limited resources (I always found cool clothing for pennies).

I followed this path towards graduation and created a thesis collection of dresses that reflected 3 of the Fruits of the Spirit.

Upon graduation I looked for ways to work in fashion without doing production work. I hate doing something twice the same way.

After some floundering and a realization that I loved knitting but had not dug too deeply into this arena. I started to design things in my head. Now those designs are coming together as patterns. Slowly but then I prefer to not stress out and allow things to form their own path.

Kim said...

I spent many of my days sailing when I was young as I lived very near the ocean. I miss it.

This was a beautiful post. One of the reasons why I love my little lookTao book so, is for many of the reasons you spoke of. Many times we can not change what is going on around us, we can only change how we react.

I am glad you had a virtual vacation and your new yarn and beads.....scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

Tease!!! That yarn looks like it came from the water in the Caribbean.

My version of God's direction is "The steps of a righteous chic (or guy, etc.) are ordered." My family hears that a lot.

Ronni said...

What a lovely post. I would love to visit the locales of some of those photos though. Beautiful!

I can see I'm gonna need to get faster with the knittin' if I'm going to keep succumbing to your beautiful designs. Sherwood is lovely so far and I'm pretty sure I'm going to love the Caribbean looking one as well.

Lucia said...

My dad had a sailboat when I was a teenager, and much as I loved the sky and water and a fine day's sail, anything longer had me pining for dry land. But air, land or water, doesn't matter, the shortest distance between two points is the long way around.

I like the middle beads. What is that yarn?

Megan said...

I think the wind was blowing in my face about a week ago but now the sailing has become a little smoother, not as fast as normal but not as rocky either.

That yarn, and those beads are amazing!!! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

EGunn said...

Oh, the ocean! There's nothing quite like the open seas, is there?

Sherwood is looking lovely. I like the new tack. =)

As for shawl shape, I would always vote Faroese, and that yarn is just shouting waves and clouds and wind. Can't wait to see what you come up with!