The opposite of Madness

Happy Monday morning, my friends.  This blog post comes to you from a motel room in Maine, as I take the long way home from Squam.

I’m taking an extra day to visit a friend before I tackle the big drive, which is fine with me, because it turns out that long distance solo driving turns me into the kind of person who yells expletives in the car (not at anyone, just because I’ve hit my limit) cries in motel bathtubs (again, I’m not sad, just past it all) and apparently, puts her bra in her purse.

Squam was, of course, Squam – and along with everything Squam always is, it was also Taproot Squam – The Taproot Gathering, and while I know the people who put Taproot together and quite like them, I didn’t know what the intersection of the two would look like. 

I will make a confession here- Amanda wrote today about her experience at the gathering, and she talked about when her kids came home from camp with a whole new language that her family didn’t really "get". It was charming and funny, but an experience her boys had shared that the rest of them weren’t in on, and how that made it hard for the family to connect with their experience.   I thought that might be what the gathering was like.  I am not the sort of person who "holds intentions" or "moves mindfully" though my day, and when people say an experience was "real" all I can think is "how could it not be?" I mean, if it’s not a hallucination, it’s real – right?  I try to be kind, and I try to be articulate and I try to get on with my fellow humans in a meaningful way, but that language isn’t part of the way I talk about how I live and I wondered if that would be a barrier.  It wasn’t. 

It turns out that that everyone who’s living in a way that’s designed to reflect their values and ethics is pretty much on the same page.  Sure, I don’t raise chickens, but I want to be the person who buys your organic eggs, and my family didn’t want or need to un-school our kids, but I did want to shape their education to reflect their personalities and needs, and it turns out that even though I use different words (mindful= thinking, intention= plan) I’m on the same page.  I had a wonderful time.
I have a lot to say about this, but I’m having trouble making it all come together in a motel.  I’m sure my idea’s will firm up while I’m driving.

In knitting news, I’d taken my Kusha Kusha scarf with me to wear, and it occurred to me that I’d never taken pictures of it as a finished object. 

It’s knit from one strand Habu stainless steel/merino, and one strand superfine merino, held together, and then not, and it took me years to knit, because the yarn annoyed the crap out of me. When it’s done, you felt it lightly.

I had a vision  of a post-apocalyptic my-clothes-are-all-rags but-I-am-still-chic sort of look, and since I look post-apocalyptic on a good day anyway, I thought I could pull it off. 

I imagined it layered over a black or white shirt, with a plain skirt or pants, and that’s just how I wear it, and I love it.   The stainless steel in the yarn means it stays where you put it, and I’m a simple enough person that I can get hours of amusement out of that.  It’s fabulous – and somehow, even though in my mind it’s straight out of The Matrix, it looks perfectly at home among the trees, like a spent leaf, or an old piece of moss.  You wouldn’t think that would be a good look, but somehow, it suits me.

For anyone keeping track:

The baby blanket is a little bigger, and yes. It is tricky to hang knitting-in-progress in a tree for a picture, but the look on the face of passers-by is totally worth it.

See you tomorrow.

243 thoughts on “The opposite of Madness

  1. Hope you’re enjoying my home state 🙂 Loving the blanket and hey, everyone reaches their breaking point. That’s why it’s called a trip and not moving 🙂

  2. Thanks for making my morning enjoyable. I guess I’m a simple enough person too. I got a laugh out of your post today. It was really real! Love the idea of strange yarns out of The Matrix. Will have to look that one up. The blanket is straight out of heirloom quality and style. Love it!

  3. Dear Stephanie, This is my first time commenting, although I have been following your blog for many years. I wanted to say thank you. When my world starts to go awry, I often turn to your blog, and the bits and pieces of your life that you so generously share with all of us help me to realize that we are all more alike than different. I can than pick myself up and keep going. Fondly, Joanna

  4. The scarf looks as though it grew out of the tree, but really, I want to see it on you, with the clothes as described. Maine is one of the best places on earth. You are so lucky to be there, but I sincerely hope that you don’t intend (plan?) to drive home in one day.

  5. I’m going camping this weekend in hopes of finding my zen away from the noise and little blue lights that are everywhere in our house (you know, the DVR, microwave, stove, etc). Taking socks – 5 balls at last count because they all fit into my bag!

  6. It is always great to see the world as you see it and today it was camp and that lovely scarf in the trees. That blanket is coming right along. Enjoy the drive home.

  7. I totally get your comparisons re taproot-speak vs. real life. I’m in your camp.
    So cool you are in Maine!
    I’ll bet you didn’t go swimming at Squam this time.

  8. I have a couple skeins of Habu sitting in my stash that I have no idea what to do with (one is the steel/merino blend and the other is a silk blend of some sort). I might just have to do a fancy little scarf like that 🙂 We’ll see.

  9. You’re in Maine? I’d buy you lunch if you came to Rockland. Love, love, love the scarf. I’ll be looking for some Habu stainless/merino …in red, I think. Can’t wait to meet you in November.

  10. Yes! Love your description of this. Turns out I don’t move mindfully through my day either and really didn’t feel like I would “fit in” at that kind of event. Sounds like it worked out great though! Maybe one day I’ll have the funds to “do” Squam!

  11. The scarf looks fantastic-love the mossy color-it is at home in the trees. I have a few multi-year projects myself. And the baby blanket? It’s gonna be stunning. Lucky baby. Drive safe.

  12. Thank you for showing how easy it is to respect others beliefs even if you don’t believe that way yourself. Glad you had a great time.

  13. I wondered what happened to that scarf! What about the Sweater in that same yarn?
    Has it been lost in the stash?

  14. I love the scarf. “The stainless steel in the yarn means it stays where you put it, and I’m a simple enough person that I can get hours of amusement out of that.” Cracked me up because I can identify. I would find hours of endless entertainment with such a thing.

  15. Just when I thought I should be knitting little Christmas trees, you’ve pulled out that amazing scarf. Going to have to find some of that wool and try it! Good for you for taking your time coming home, and some time with your friend. Remember, despite what the GPS says, Toronto is north.

  16. please, please continue to talk about that special language/barrier stuff. I have many of the same feelings and hesitations, which likely come from a not very generous place. but some of that “intentional/real/this moment” stuff makes me feel a little not included. I want to hear more of your thoughts and experience on that front. (and, funny enough, this comes from an homeschooling mom with chickens who just made a batch of granola.)

  17. For some reason a blanket in a tree makes me think ‘rock a bye baby’.
    And thanks for not putting your bra up there for a shot, too. 🙂

  18. I’m surprised that you’re surprised that the Habu scarf works with your wardrobe. Haven’t you always said that your fashion goal is to dress like a tree? 😉

  19. Just realized that you’re knitting the baby blanket on straight, not circular needles. Do you prefer straights over circular, or does it just depend on the: project, yarn type, whatever needles are free at the moment!? (I certainly know what that’s like!) Just curious…

  20. Hey! I saw a pantless man in a tree getting photos taken of him this weekend. I would have much preferred to see your scarf or blanket!
    I love the flowers. I wish I had some on my desk right now, too!!
    Have a lovely drive and visit, my dear.
    Katie =^..^=

  21. The Habu scarf really is cool and I’m afraid I would be the simple type that just sits there and moves it around and delights in the stainless steel properties. Because I am very simple.

  22. If it looks good with trees, it should look great on you. Isn’t your first rule of dressing to look like a tree (brown on bottom, green/orange on top)?

  23. The scarf looks beautiful! Makes me want to knit one myself, but I suspect that the yarn would also drive me crazy. Perhaps someday when my current stash of yarn has dwindled greatly and the blessing of many small children has turned into the blessing of larger children.

  24. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I should explain, my 6 month old teething full of a cold baby only settles to sleep at the moment when i read your blog to her. I read it to her if she is fussing and the smiles and giggles make the sleepless night worth it and easier to handle so thank you.

  25. Sorry, I forgot all about the blanket once I saw the habu scarf. Love it!
    Hey, the words are wayy different for those of us who are 1. older than you, and 2. never had kids.
    Can anyone with kids imagine a life lived without? Is it wonderful? Yes. Are we missing anything? Hm, don’t think so, we still have the nieces & nephews and feel the pain of parents making hard decisions and seeing the kids experiencing their own pain.
    Wow. Way off target. Glad you’re back,hold on to that weekend away, and the opportunity to try different things!

  26. “my-clothes-are-all-rags but-I-am-still-chic sort of look” – in other words, what Hollywood thinks all post-apocalyptic heroines will be wearing after, you know, the apocalypse. LOL. On their pencil-like figures.
    And at first glance, I thought you’d joined Franklin Habit in knitting a pair of men’s bathing trunks circa 1890, when I saw the blanket in the tree…

  27. Like Rachel posted above ^ I’m surprised you’re knitting on straights rather than circs? Is there a particular reason? Just curious!! 🙂

  28. My impression is that “mindful= something closer to deliberately alert, aware,” but I’m easy. I’m more interested in a scarf that stays where it’s put. Mine amuse everyone by going walkabout around my neck. This one, however, would probably decide to continue facing north when I turned south. Lovely, though.

  29. I wish I understood one word of the first half of this post. But I enjoyed reading it anyhow, as I do all your writings.
    However, the blanket is beyond stunning.

  30. Nice blanket. Nice background. If you understand what the intention of the words are, have translated that thought and actually communicated. We feel left out when we are not communicating. It’s like two people speaking Russian to you and…well, you just are not making the connection. Then you feel strange. But when meanings that each of you understand, actions, and descriptions meet and a light bulb goes off over each of your heads…then you don’t feel left out anymore.
    I think that I understand…right?

  31. Oh, but my dear. You move through life with more mindfulness and intention than nearly any person I am aware of on this spinning planet. You might not embrace the language as your own, but instead you choose to simply live it daily. I read many of your posts as meditations on mindfulness and the like. Call it what you will, you model it well.

  32. I read the description of Taproot too, and thought it sounded a lot like Mother Earth News and Harrowsmith used to, back in the day, when everyone was going back to the land and getting off the grid, building windmills and raising chickens.
    Not that this is a bad thing; I think way too many people wander through life being anything but mindful. I just couldn’t see me doing that, and I’ve never been to summer camp, either. Or joined Brownies or Guides. Just didn’t see myself doing any of that.
    So what did I do in my middle years? Moved out to the country (though not off the grid YET), raised chickens, goats, pigs, cows and geese; and now at an age where I’m semi-retired I just bought sheep and fences, and got re-acquainted with spinning and weaving. I feel like I missed the whole 60’s and 70’s hippy thing, but can cope quite happily now that I’m armed and girded for the Zombie Apocalypse, or any other apocalypse too.

  33. liek a few others, I wondered why you were taking photos of bloomers/large underwear in a tree, then realized it was the blankie….I need better contacts! The flowers are lovely – if I didn’t have cats, I’d have a bouquet like that on my desk all the time . ^..^

  34. I remember when you got that yarn ER um steel and wondered what ever happened with it, now I know. Neat.

  35. I’m SO tempted to ask where in Maine you are because I live in Maine! 🙂 I’m not quite as much of a crazy knitting stalker as this makes me sound… really.

  36. My Kusha Kusha scarf kit is still sitting in its bag unknitted since I first bought it 3 years ago. Possibly because I don’t understand the instructions. The colors of yours are just beautiful. Maybe I will go find a pattern interpreter

  37. I’m moving to New Hampshire when I retire and I can’t wait to go to Squam! I’ll only be an hour or so away! It looks lovely. Love the scarf too! Can’t imagine knitting with stainless steel yarn.

  38. That mossy scarf so blends in with the forest, like it’s its natural habitat. And then the tree waves the white flag of surrendering to the knitting. You’ve put such a smile on my face–thank you!

  39. Isn’t it amazing how some yarns can be royal pains to knit, yet turn out into attractive and/or highly-useful items? Your stainless-steel yarn, some dishcloth cottons, even that well-known brand of crapcrylic. . .just a matter of finding the right pattern and design. (The crapcrylic is good for warm and snuggly dog items, especially blankets for Fido’s bed. That usefulness may not last as more and better superwash wools come on the market.)
    The scarf is lovely. In springtime, I’d encourage you (or one of your daughters fair) to try it with a pale yellow top.
    The baby blanket seems to be coming along apace. I like that richly-textured pattern, as such patterns usually look very elegant and provide much warmth to any kind of blanket or throw. I see a dark-colored strand in there — is that some type of provisional cast-on or is it a lifeline?

  40. I love that scarf!! One day I’ll make it and suddenly, I’ll be slim and hip and smart. Meanwhile, please continue to carry the banner for the rest of us.

  41. We’re dealing with yet another mass shooting tonight down here south of the border. I needed some of your sanity and humor tonight. Thanks.

  42. Thank you for taking time to blog at us even when you’re in flux. It’s always fun to read what’s happening. Most of the time, I’m okay if I just see photos of knitted wear without a human model. But I’m dying to see how the scarf looks on you! I really want to see the post-apocalyptic effect in that cool green. Maybe one of your daughters will wear it for a photo and then accidentally keep it. LOL.

  43. OK — now I’m going to have to finish my navy Kusha Kusha if it kills me! I know where it is…I can see it from where I’m sitting…I’m just not sure where I put the instructions with the note that tells me which row I’m on…this could be a problem…

  44. Haven’t read the other comments, but just wanted you to know that my three favorite words from your blog are in order as follows: “see you tomorrow”.

  45. Love, love, LOVE! Kusha! Andyou’re right, it does look a tad Matrrixy (But more Walking Dead to me. I swear to god, that show’s freakin’ addictive. Have you SEEN Daryl Dixon?! Cute!) but I’m totally in lust with it!
    And knits in progress in trees? Definitely worth odd looks for cool pictures!

  46. Yarn with stainless steel? Is it not scratchy?? Going to have to find some of that just to see what it feels like 🙂 Never watched the Matrix.
    Giggling at the thought of the looks on peoples faces – love doing things that make people go “Mmmmm”.
    Not sure I understand all the “mindful” stuff either, even though we are a sustainable family.

  47. Your posts about Squam sent me on an online mission for info about the area that culminated in me finding a listing for an “immobile home” for under US$20k in a Squam resort. For 5 minutes or so, I fantasized about raiding my 401k, packing up needles and stash, and “falling” (like “summering,” only later in the year) in Maine.
    Like other posters, I really think a Squam sojourn is in my future. But the trailer probably isn’t.

  48. This post made me smile. I know people who talk like the people at Squam. But once you get used to it, you can understand what they mean. “Mindfulness” = “think before you speak or act,” “moving through the world” = “live” and so on. The words we use reflects your view of the world. But you know this, you are a writer. I like that Squam-speak makes some things more explicit to emphasize the focus of what people are there to do and experience.
    It’s like any other subculture and thanks for a glimpse into it.
    Also, I may have to try that steel yarn. Sounds like a good portable toy for my baby, so I can actually get some other knitting done at knit night.

  49. I share your understanding and appreciation of the language of Squam though it isn’t my personal language. Thanks for articulating that so clearly and concisely. I love how going to Squam retreats makes me feel and all I learn there from teachers and participants alike, but I get kinda squirmy with some of the language. Doesn’t mean I don’t share the values.
    Also, I really like how some of the spammy-looking comments above equate you with the opposite of the madness of fake Hermes accessories & pop celebrities. That is making my night!

  50. The knits are beautiful, as always. But I have to get something off my chest.
    Every time you lay some totally gorgeous perfectly white piece of knitting in progress on the ground, all I can think is, “OH MY GOD PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP! IT’S GETTING DIRT AND BUGS ON IT!!!”
    I know it’s not rational but you always give my OCD a complete stroke. 😉

  51. Circumstance a handful of items i was seeking for. I did not foresee that we’d receive so considerably away from studying via your possess compose up! You’ve just acquired your returning buyer

  52. Im not certain exactly where you are acquiring your data, but good subject matter. I demands to commit some time studying much more or comprehending much more. Thanks for magnificent data I was hunting for this info for my mission.

  53. Hello there, I identified your web site via Google even though looking for a associated matter , your internet site came up, it appears fantastic. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks

  54. This edging is simalir to one I used in a cowl pattern that was joined after doing all the points and then knit in the round using another pattern on Rav it is the Little Green Elf Cowl by Susan Goodwin. I really like doing the edging first and then picking up for the rest whether cowl or shawl. I am going to try it. Thanks.

  55. Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is just excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

Comments are closed.