Rainbow Boy

Right now, Luis’ favourite book at our house is The Rainbow Bear. My girls loved it too, and I took it out from the book bin just before Christmas because I though that Lou was ready for the sad story of a bear who just wanted to be  colourful, and lived out the downside of trying to be something you’re not, learning that each of us is supposed to be exactly as we are for things to work right. Maybe that was in my mind, or maybe it’s the winter grey that’s getting to me, but this weekend I sat myself down, and made my impending grandson a pair of bootees. I’d saved the leftovers from a pair of Rainbow socks a while back, with this exactly in mind. (Well, bootees in mind, but not bootees for my grandson. He was a sparkle in his mother’s eye when I saved it.)

startrainbowbootees 2017-01-16

I was totally right about the book. Luis loves it, and I was knitting the bootees on the subway a few days ago, feeling cheerful and happy about the whole thing, when a very nice lady sat down beside me and asked what I was making.  I told her my daughter was expecting a baby, and that I was making bootees.  “Oh, it’s a girl!” she chirped, and I paused for a second, and then said that it was a boy.

morerainbowbootees 2017-01-16

She looked at me for a minute, and I could tell that we were entering a fragile moment, one that we were going to disagree on, and this being Canada we’re good at disagreeing politely in public, and so she said “Goodness. Aren’t those a little… girly, for a boy?”

Now, since we are good at disagreeing in public, I did tell her what I thought, and I was gentle. “No” I said. “I don’t think it matters.” She looked at me for a minute, and she said “You’re right. He’ll be tiny. It won’t matter.” I looked at her for a second, and I said “Oh, I think it’s fine in general” and then she said this. “Of course – though when he’s bigger, you won’t want someone taking him for a girl.”

rainbowbootees 2017-01-16

We didn’t go any further than that, it was the subway, after all. Here’s the thing though – I think what happened there was pretty sexist. Not the overt sort of sexism that’s wound up with women having a significant pay gap, or men still owning most of the property and having most of the money (despite women having most of the education, but that’s a fight for another post.) I mean – and let me be perfectly, absolutely, fantastically clear… I think that if you’re worried about what would happen if a boy is taken for a girl, then you’re sexist. It means that you have a plan – whether you’re aware of it or not. It means that you treat boys one way, and girls another, and that you think you need to know if a baby is a boy or a girl, and that there would be consequences of some kind if you got it wrong.

When someone says “What if they were taken for a girl?” It tells me right that minute that you think that would be a problem. You can say all  you like, lady on the subway, that you think boys and girls are equal, but you’ve just revealed that you don’t think the same systems apply – and I’ll ask you this… What if? What if someone took my grandson for a girl? What if they absolutely took a look at this wee human with his gorgeous rainbow feet, and got his gender wrong, and treated him like a girl? What would happen then? What were you planning on doing differently?

If the answer is nothing, my commuting compatriot, then why do you need to know? I understand that there are problems here. That there are things that we think of as manly, and things that are feminine, and that there’s a whole great big system at work and it’s complicated, and hard to buck against, and I’m not saying that there aren’t families and parents where boys have to wear boy clothes, and girls have to wear girl clothes (and live with the fact that there are no goddamn pockets in the garb of the latter) and I am totally copping to the fact that from time to time, I feel the pressures of all of those things,  but here we speak of bootees. Tiny socks for a tiny person, and wouldn’t it be so nice if we could just begin their time on this earth truly thinking for one little minute that the sort of socks that they wear won’t have a huge impact on what happens, and how people treat them?

rainbowbear 2017-01-16

On the other hand, we live in a world where girls make less money (globally, 60-75% less) hold less power, do a disproportionate amount of caregiving, and have a 1 in 4 chance (and that’s in North America) of being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, and where someone who is about to be the President of the United States can talk about grabbing women’s privates because he’s powerful – and it will be dismissed by enough people as unimportant (or the way that men talk) that he will still win. So maybe, if I’m being kind… maybe the lady on the subway was just trying to keep our little human safe, because there are very real consequences to being a girl.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting, rather apologetically.

Undone

The Christmas is coming off the house. The tree is down, an epic struggle to gather up all the needles begun. I keep finding them all over the house. I’ll vacuum, sweep, and heave a sigh of relief that it’s all done, and then there will be more. Stuck to the bottom of socks, down the side of a chair that was by the thing, two in the curtains by the window, and as I wrestled it out the front door, it appears to have shed the equivalent of a small shrub into the shoes on the shoe rack. The decorations are all put away, stocking stuffers are making their way into drawers and coming into use. The cookies are all eaten, and in a desperate attempt to end it all, I threw away three candy canes yesterday. I don’t even know how they got here. It’s starting to be the end of Christmas for knitting too…

one togo 2017-01-11

Only a half a sock (and two heels -I’ll do afterthought ones) stand between me and being totally finished – it’s another big man sock, so it’s going on forever, and I’m thinking about having a party when this pair is done. I have this wild fantasy that as soon I finish it I’ll immediately cast on something for me, but some sensible part of me wonders if I shouldn’t begin a huge pair for next year straight off. At least it couldn’t come down to big man socks again. (It is worth noting that I don’t think I have it in me to do this, but surely I can be awarded points for considering it.)  Joe’s socks were blocked and dry this morning, and he put them on for a test wear.

joesfeet2 2017-01-11

Yarn: Alisha Goes Around, Descent of Woodpeckers – fingering weight. Needles: 2.25mm Pattern: Barrel Riders.

joesfeet1 2017-01-11

They fit, he loves them, and I am ready to knit something bright, colourful and… small. There’s a reason that my friend Denny says that this time of year isn’t for neutral stuff. The world outside is drab, to say the least. Bright and sunny days are few and far between, the days still short, the nights still long. As lovely as that colourway is, it has too much in common with my frozen garden and the bare trees all around me, and I’m glad it’s over.  Now is the time to knit a rainbow.

Save

Just knit faster

For a few days, I’ve been knitting the second to last pair of socks that I owe Christmas. (So there, you have it. I didn’t finish on time – by a lot.) One pair is for someone I haven’t seen over the holiday, so no rush there, and the other is a pair or socks I’ve been knitting for Joe. I explained to him that if we went skiing, he wouldn’t get socks until after the trip, and for some insane reason he chose the skiing. (I think maybe he has too many pairs of handknit socks for them to be proper leverage. I may withdraw supply.)  Have I ever mentioned that his feet are enormous? Hear me now, young knitters, If I had my life to live over again, I think I’d work harder at cultivating affection for small men. Near the end of every pair of big socks, I imagine the glee of a knitter who’s mate has tiny feet.  Big socks aren’t just a thing because they go on so long (although that is certainly something) but there’s a yarn problem as well.  A single skein doesn’t usually cut it for the people in my life with snowshoe feet, I usually end up with a contrasting heel and toe, adding another skein, something – but the point is that I can’t just walk into the stash, grab a skein of sock yarn and think that I’m going to pound out a pair of socks for Joe. I’ll run out. I know I will.

For the pair I just finished for him, I decided to chance it. I had a skein of yarn I really liked (Alisha Goes Around –  Descent of Woodpeckers. No link because I think she’s done making yarn, is she? Bueller?) I was going to hunt up something matchy for the cuff, heel and toe, and then I noticed that the pattern, Barrel Rider, said that it would be enough yarn. Now, I’ve been tricked by that before, but I was feeling wild, so I went ahead. I finished the first sock on the plane home, and sat there – remaining ball in one hand and the sock in the other, trying to be a human scale. Was the sock heavier? Maybe? I started the second one (because I was on a plane. What choice did I have?) and resolved to weigh things when I got home and make sure I wasn’t wasting my time. Well, when I got home, it turned out that the battery in my scale was done, and going to the store for another seemed really traumatic. (Did I mention I have a cold? They make me alternately angry and sure I am unloved. Neither of those people should go to the store.) I decided to keep going, and told Joe that if I ran out of yarn I would knit a pink toe on it.

I’m pretty sure he thought I was kidding. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. The game of yarn chicken continued, with me knitting faster and faster, trying to outrun the yarn, and up until just a few rows from the end, the suspense was killing me.

joesdescentlotsofyarn-2017-01-10

I don’t know why I worried. There was tons left.

Like she says

I have a young friend, she’s pretty little, and we have heart to heart conversations from time to time, and when things are extra meaningful to her, when she really wants you to understand that what’s she’s saying is important, or that you’ve come to the significant part, she’ll tell you and then tack on “IN REAL LIFE.”  I don’t know if it’s because kids today are so well acquainted with all the ways that something can be not real life, like TV or movies or games or cartoons or that maybe the world is getting strange enough that a little kid could be concerned that you thought that things weren’t really happening to her, but to her avatar, but her choice of words always makes me smile. “And then, Auntie Stephie, the big wave came, and it was so high, and it was coming nearer to me, and then it knocked me down.. IN REAL LIFE.”

I was going to come here and apologize for being gone so long, and explain that it was the holiday and then Joe and I went to Edmonton just before the New Year for his work and then we went skiing at Jasper and that whole time that I wasn’t at home the IP address I was at was blocked and the stupid helpdesk who could fix it had a 4 hour wait (because secretly, I think this was a worldwide plot) and I couldn’t connect to the blog from away, and then when we got back late on Thursday night I had a cold and… I thought about telling you all of that, but the truth is that I probably could have gotten here… except for the IP thing, but for one thing, and that was that things kept happening to me IN REAL LIFE.

I would be walking towards the computer, and something would happen. A person who was present would be in front of me, and they’d ask me to do something with them, or for them, and I’d glance over at my laptop, then at their face, and then I’d think “I’ll get to the blog later. They’ll understand.” and off I’d go. Over and over things like this:

sammakinggifts-2017-01-09

solsticecandles-2017-01-06 luisxmascookies-2017-01-06 samsings-2017-01-06 megalexlou-2017-01-06 santamouse-2017-01-06 frankielight-2017-01-06 erinandco-2017-01-06 lalthekids-2017-01-06

erinandicookies-2017-01-09 louknits-2017-01-06 kidsandlou-2017-01-06 newyears-2017-01-06  ice-lanterns-2017-01-09 familyselfie-2017-01-09 thewitches-2017-01-09 megandalexlou-2017-01-09

ski-2017-01-09

It was all I could do to keep up. IN REAL LIFE. In any case, I’m back, and my cold’s a lot better and I think I’m mostly caught up on the madness and it’s been about 30 minutes since someone asked me to do something, and I have bags of knitting to show you, and I think I’m finally going to take down the tree before it’s nothing more than a stick with ornaments on it,  and can you tell me what happened to you this holiday, IN REAL LIFE?

See you tomorrow. I mean that.