Today is the 100th International Women’s Day.

I am a feminist.  I can say that unequivocally, because I know the definition. Feminism is defined, in every dictionary you will look in, as something like "the  belief in the political, social and economic equality of the sexes." (It is worth noting that the word is equality. Not sameness, since the sexes are not the same, nor superiority, since that’s not true either. Nor does it even define the gender of the person who would believe in this equality.)  Since we do not yet have any of those things, I’m still a feminist, and I feel like were I to say I was not, I would be saying that I don’t believe in equality, which I do. Firmly.

I had a talk recently with a young woman who said several things to me about feminism. She said first, that she absolutely believes in the ideas of feminism, but doesn’t want to say she’s a feminist, because she thinks the word has negative associations with a minority group of radicals.  Second, she said that she thinks things are much better than they were for women, and that maybe we don’t need feminism as much, because things are better. 

We had a talk.

I asked her if she thought things were, indeed equal.  She didn’t, and we talked about how even if things were better  (which for her, seemed to mean good enough) for women here, that what about the International nature of human rights. Was it good enough for things to be better here, but not elsewhere? Even if things were perfect here, with equality up one side and down the other, don’t women in Africa and the Middle East need her feminism?

We talked then about the associations that she thought people made with the word feminist.  This young woman said that it was her conviction that the sexes should be equal, that she thought equal pay for equal work was something that she would like to see in her lifetime, and that of course she wanted the right to own property or vote for all women, but that really (and here I’m paraphrasing) she was not willing to publicly state her convictions by labelling herself a feminist (even though she meets the definition) in case people made a bad association with that aforementioned tiny minority of extremists.

Another talk.

We talked about convictions, and principles, and how the power of all of that was in being true to your belief system, whether or not other people liked your beliefs, and then we talked about the Westboro Baptists (although really, you can insert the extremist-nut-jobs of your choice.) Is there anyone that you know, I asked her, who is walking around saying that they absolutely believe in the ideas of Christianity and believe those principles to be important and true, but don’t want to use the word Christian to describe themselves? People who instead of using the actual word that describes them, are instead saying "Well, yes.  I believe in Christ and all everything that Christianity is defined as, but I’d rather be called something else because of those Westboro Baptists."

No.  Instead- they, we, all of us – define the extremist-nut-jobs as the ones who aren’t entitled to the word, and don’t allow them to corrupt it’s meaning. A few extreme Christians don’t make Christianity extreme. A few bad Muslims don’t make Islam bad, a few bad men don’t make all men bad, a few shifty plumbers don’t make all plumbers corrupt, and by extension, the beliefs of some women don’t get to define my principles or the word and what it means. They can have their beliefs,  but they can’t change the dictionary – at least not without a qualifier, like "extreme" or "radical" in front of it. 

Feminism means you believe in equality.  I am a feminist. I like the word, because I know what it means.

Today’s pictures are my mum, my sister, my daughters. They are my favourite feminists, and the best reason I know for the word.

Hanging Tough

Jen and I were weaving the other night, and we argued.  I said it was going to snow, that the rain would turn to ice, then snow… and Jen said it wouldn’t.  I started to try and convince her.  I reminded her of some pretty simple laws of physics that say that if it’s 0º and raining- and it’s getting colder as the big burning ball of  light slips below the horizon, that pretty soon rain is snow – but Jen didn’t want to hear it.  She told me all the reasons that rain was better than snow- and said them like the planet was going to be convinced.  "Rain means spring!" she claimed, and I looked at her and tried to figure out why any proper lifelong Ontarian would be under any freakin’ delusions at all that an early March rain might mean spring.  Spring is a ways off, I started to tell her, and then I saw that look in her eyes.  I see it on almost everyone right now, and I shut my mouth.  That look says "I don’t know how much more winter I can take.  I’m starting to get a little squirrelly about it, and if you’re going to harsh on my spring-is-coming-and-the-rain-proves-it delusion, then I might wig out.  Spring is coming.  There will be no more snow.  This is rain, not snow – lalalalalala."

I didn’t say much after that. We both knew that the rain was a big nasty-ass faker, and that it would turn to snow and that we’d be freezing and shovelling again… and we just gave up the conversation because no matter how used you are to the winter, it’s just a demoralizing thing in March, and we just had different approaches.  Jen liked denial, and I like reality.  I find the crushing of hope even more demoralizing than March snow. I prefer to have no hope,  besides, if you let March snow get to you, then how on earth are you getting through April snow? Better to dwell happily in the land of doom than rail against it.

This is what I was thinking when I got up Sunday morning and there was a fresh dump of big snow.  I saw that, I stomped around for a few minutes just to get the impotent rage out of my system, then I finished a quick pair of socks while I thought about improving my lot.

Spud and Chloe Sweater 55% wool/45% cotton in pink and cream, knit up for a friend’s friend’s daughter who’s recovering from surgery and needs to be cozy.  No pattern, just one I keep in my head. There’s a (deliberate) difference in the sizing between the two socks, so I reversed the colours on the second one so she could quickly tell the difference between right and left.  Worsted weight socks are speed demons. It felt like it took longer to weave the ends in than it did to knit them – which is not true, but it’s cool that it felt that way.

While I drank my coffee, the answers came to me.  I would do two things so that I didn’t feel completely miserable about the snow.

#1.  I would cast on my March socks – and I rigged the system to pull the ones I needed. 

Giotto, being knit in  Dream in Colour Smooshy, in Spring Tickle, because no matter how dim it seems now,  this month we will definitely see a sign of spring.  It will be green, and it is coming.  (The first kit I pulled out had grey socks in it. I observed Denny’s rule.  No knitting grey in March.  There’s too much grey already.)

#2. I would remember that winter has it’s own charms,

that I love Canada despite this (and despite muttering something about it’s forsaken nature while trying to chip a block of ice the size of Finland out of my damn recycling bin for the 47th time this year)

and think of that fabulous song.

Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.  – Gilles Vigneault.

It means "My country is not a country.  It is winter."

Chin up.

Socks for Joe

Finally.  I finally finished February’s socks and even though they went overtime, I don’t feel badly about it.  As Meaghan, Heather and Marsha (and a few others) pointed out in the comments, they’re big socks and February is the shortest month and that was a loser’s game from the start.  If Joe’s feet were shorter and the month were longer, I would have nailed it. 

"It’s Tea Time" socks, from Around the World in Knitted Socks , Cherry Tree Hill supersock solids in Bark. 

Joe thinks they’re fantastic, because they meet all of his criteria for socks.  Joe likes socks to be a neutral colour. This category is slightly more expansive than you think. It naturally includes white, cream, black, grey, beige, taupe and brown, but can also include any other colour that is a dark enough shade of that colour so as to be "manly".  This includes very dark blue, very dark green, very, very dark red and absolutely excludes purple in any shade or tint. (Purple, Joe is sure, is not a man’s colour.) They aren’t stripey, which can be dodgy, even if the stripes are comprised of acceptable colours.  (Too many colours at once – also not manly, although for some reason I don’t understand at all- this does not apply to plaids.  The man is a mystery.)  The big bonus for Joe is that these socks are fancy in the right way.

Joe likes texture on his socks.  Decorative knit/purl patterns, ribs, cables, they’re all his idea of snazzy knitting, and in this department I can do anything I want, as long as a yarn-over doesn’t sneak in anywhere.   That’s lace.  You can imagine what category lace falls in for Joe. 

It’s like at some point in his knit-education (which is not inconsiderable, even before he met me the man was raised by knitters – and for the record, he can sort of knit, though rather oddly, chooses not to) Joe grasped the concept that lace is usually comprised of yarn overs, and decided then that a yarn over always equals lace.  That even a single  yarn over is a singular bit of lace.  This causes him to be rather suspicious of yarn over buttonholes, and their presence needs to be justified quickly, lest Joe comment that I’m putting "a bit of lace" on the front edge of a cardigan. 

These socks though, they’re perfect, in the world according to Joe – and despite the way they had me muttering foul language towards the end… 

It was remarkable how much better looking they got when they were off my needles and on his feet. The only thing that he doesn’t like about them is that after the photo shoot they came off his feet, and went into the long-range-planning box.  He can look for them to re-surface at Christmas.  He already got socks this season.

Welcome to Dullsville

Oh look.

It’s a big brown sock.  It’s a very nice big brown sock, but it is a big brown sock and there’s not much more to say about that. (Thoughtfully, I have photographed it in the kitchen rather than the dining room, just to break up the monotony from yesterday’s picture.)  Sadly, finish-it-up-itis has fled the scene, leaving me totally recovered and dreaming of shiny new knits – but I can’t do anything about that, because it’s me and the sock. Forever. Apparently.

This sock is stuck, and it isn’t even really challenging, I can’t type some funny story about how it’s jerking me around or the pattern has attitude or I mis-counted and ended up in a world of hurt. Nope. Me. Big Brown. I mean it is a really huge sock, ’cause Joe is a refrigerator of a man, but still – this is getting stupid. I knit and knit, and we’re going on together into the sunset of another day.  I feel like even though I’m spending all my free time on this thing… it’s still never finis- oh, wait.  I think I just figured it out.  No free time.  (Note to self: actual knitting is never accomplished without actual knitting time.) If I can meet my Sock Summit work goals and my Sock Camp work goals and my writing work goal today then maybe I’ll make it out of here to Knit Night tonight, and perhaps that’ll break the wee bastard.  (Don’t get on me for calling the sock a bastard either.  I have it on good authority the skeins it’s born of were not married. That’s the technical definition, and this brown sock of perpetuity meets it.)

In the meantime, I wouldn’t get really excited about tomorrow being better.
Big. Brown. Sock.

(Secondary note to self: If I am ever in a spouse choosing position again, I am going to remember this.  It is just as easy to love a small man as a large one.)

(Note to you: Stop it. You have a dirty mind.)

Tuesdays are for Random

1. Tuesdays are really for spinning. I thought about weaving too, but I didn’t.

2. The February Socks aren’t finished.

3. I was really super anxious about that, and busted a move trying to finish, but it turns out that red-eye flights destroy whatever day follows them.  Saturday wasn’t even like an actual day,  more like a period of gentle weeping and cracker eating.

4. It turns out that nothing really bad happens if you don’t finish your socks on time, and that the deadline may have been actually just important to me.

5. I was trying really hard to finish the socks on Sunday, but me, my mum, Amanda and my sister had a tiny Oscar party.

6. My mother refuses to believe Keanu  Reeves is alive.

7. She believes he collapsed and died outside of a club years ago.

8. We have told her that was River Phoenix, but she doesn’t believe us. There is absolutely no amount of evidence you can give her that will dissuade her from this belief.

9. We have tried.

10. I can’t tell you how much this summarizes what it’s like to watch the Oscars with her. Well.  That and the fact she and my sister wanted to bet my couch on whether or not Steven Spielberg is Canadian (he’s not) and that she kept referring to "Tuscan Lumberjack".

11. Turns out that’s Justin Timberlake.

12.  Sock Club is open to the general population. You can find info about it here.  It’s always awesome, and wacky(You can see posts about it here, here, here and here.) – but this year there’s me, Tina, and the wonderful JC Briar, the incredible Anne Hanson and ANNA ZILBOORG.

13. Sorry.  I kind of have a thing for Anna. She’s an icon and a wicked role model. Love her. Just the thought of eating breakfast with her makes me a little woozy.  Not that I’m not all over JC and Anne.  They’re made of awesome.

14. My feelings about Anna are better since I actually met her. Now I can speak in her presence.  Mostly.

15. Something else about my Mum. In addition to her conviction that Keanu Reeves has shuffled off his mortal coil, my mother also doesn’t believe in "best before" dates on food. 

16. Once she ate a really old yogourt and didn’t even get a little sick, and it reinforced her theory that the dates were open to interpretation.  I’d mock her, but if there wasn’t something to her premise she’d be dead by now.

17. Like Keanu Reeves.