Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy New Year: A time for renewal...

Early in our relationship, a friend called me a "Renaissance Man". 

Our conversation that day had progressed into things that interested me and that I truly enjoyed doing.  The list moved from home improvements - carpentry, tiling, painting, plumbing, and electrical work - to dance, yoga, skiing, golfing, karate, music, writing, interior design, cooking, quilting, and yes, knitting.  After the casual mention of these things, my friend exclaimed, "Eric, you are a Renaissance Man!"  The compliment was beautiful, and I accepted this compliment as it came.  I think I blushed a little, too... Well... as much as I can blush.  ;)  But as lovely as that compliment was, at that time, I wasn't sure if I truly saw myself as a Renaissance Man.  Yes, I do dabble in a lot of things, and I am happy with how most of them turn out, but does the sheer number of things one does make him/her a Renaissance person?  Perhaps that is not what my friend meant... 

The Renaissance period was a time of rebirth and renewal.  It was during this period that many of the things we know and believe in today (i.e., philosophies) came to being.  Is that what she meant?  There is something very beautiful about renewal and rebirth.  (Hmmmm, I do get teary-eyed when there is a baptism during Mass...)  Renewal is our time to begin anew and move forward.  I love the spirit of finding new things and being able to simply do them.  Maybe that is where I get all excited when projects arise.  The fulfillment I get from these interests is certainly not in the sheer quantity of them or in their variety, but in the process and their outcome.  Each opportunity to try something new is an opportunity to reinvent myself by adding a new experience to my repertoire, no?  The beginning of every project is an opportunity for something new to take shape, to start something fresh, anew.

On living...

I had the joy of spending the Holidays with my family in Puerto Rico.  I loved every moment we spent together as a family and with friends, both old and new.  During this trip, my sister (hola, mi amor) treated me to attend yoga sessions at the studio where she practices.  I was a little shy at first - new studio, new teacher. (I think the older I am getting, the more comfortable I am with habits... Ugh!  Not good!)  But as the first session (of three I got to attend) started and got moving, my spirit started moving with it.  The breathing exercises at the beginning of each session became a reminder of the movement - body and spirit - to which I was committing.  And the final medidations allowed me to feel renewed.  It was in one of these final meditations that the concept of renewal became more than a passing thought through the chanting and the breathing...  Our instructor spoke of the spirit.  He also spoke about sweat and the role it plays in the renewal of the body.  Little by little, I found my body going back, finding its energy, and renewing itself.  The beginning of every yoga practice (or every run, every workout, or every cast-on for that matter) marks the beginning of my personal renewal.

On parenting...

Every August, I am thrilled to see my son go back to school.  While many of us parents look forward to the routine that seems to settle things down from hectic summer camps, vacations, and sometimes the occasional "nothing-to-do" syndrome, the beginning of the school year also brings with it the opportunity to start over once again.  The beginning of each of my school years from elementary school through my graduate program allowed me the opportunity to start anew.  I keep reminding P that August is a time to consider the things that went well in the previous year and repeat those, and try to change those that we didn't like as much or we could do better.  Renewal.  And this is the same conversation we have had the last couple of 12/31/XX.  As we close one calendar year, we have the opportunity to look back, ponder, and wildly look ahead and start fresh.  "P, this is our chance to look back at the last year and repeat those things that went well, and also learn the lessons of those things that did not go as well, so we can help them get better this new year."  The beginning of every school year and the beginning of every calendar year provide us with the opportunity to begin anew.

In the beginning...

A few posts back when I shared the concept of ripping stitches to begin again, taking things back and starting fresh, I never thought I would find myself looking at this slouch.

The hat was knitted with a simple concept in mind:  play with knits and purls to create a subtle pattern.  Well, can you see the pattern?!  Oh, don't squint too much, you can't even see it in real life.  It was an experiment.  In some folks' eyes, it probably went awry. 

At first, I thought I needed to rip it and repurpose the yarn.  Unfortunately, I grabbed needles, yarn, and a sketch of the pattern to be purled in the stockinette background so quickly that I had no time for ripping and starting fresh.  I had finished the hat before I knew it.  In the end, the beanie turned out to be a slouch, and the pattern - a very trendy skull and crossbones - can't even be seen!  But...

This slouch is significant for many reasons:

1.  It re-taught me the importance of gauge: a lesson that can't be repeated often enough.
2.  It taught me that sampling/making a swatch to try your pattern can be useful.
3.  It reminded me that perfection is subjective.  Both my son and my partner loved the try and the concept of this slouch.  And my son, the forever cool kid, kept it.  So there has to be some merit to the design, eh?
4.  Most importantly, I found in this little mishap an opportunity to renew my love for knitting, my spirit, and my energy.  I tried it, and I moved on.

The beginning of this project was filled with excitement, and after all the lessons I had... The beginning of my next project became the start of a new journey with more excitement along the way.  Every cast-on is a door to a new space, an opportunity to renew.

If I am not yet one, I want to truly become a Renaissance man. 

One short and final thought...

You know, every day is work - no, not the kind that pays the bills, or the kind that keeps your household running.  Every day is work for every one of us.  It's not that life is hard; it's just that we all have to work hard to move through the day.  Yogis say that daily practice maintains the body, soul, and spirit renewed.  I wonder if in our daily work, we all take moments to renew our spirits - whether it's yoga, meditation, prayer, rest (like a nap!), spending time with loved ones, or simply "staring into space" to calm our minds, bodies, and spirits.  What do you do to renew?

In the meantime, while we ponder together and as we continue to practice and find ways to renew ourselves and share, January 2011 marks the beginning of a new year - an opportunity to reflect on the past, and look wildly toward the future. 

Happy New Year!

A special thanks to my friend Steve B. who through his daily practice of living, loving, and taking care of himself lives a new year every day.  :)e-


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on renewal. I loved it.

  2. Hmm, renewal. I love reviewing the past year with your son to continue on with what was "working" for you and to think about discarding what isn't working for you. I will try and implement that with my kids.

  3. Thank you, Tia Judy and Angie, for your comments. Angie, please keep me posted on how that works with your kids. :)e-