Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Zen of Ripping

I have been working on a sweater for - um - years. Let's say it's been in WIP for a few years. It's a lovely wool and alpaca blend, and I still think the pattern is very pretty - it's called Northern Lights, and there is a beautiful variegated yarn that is used for contrast to represent the aurora borealis dancing across the chest. I had finished the front and back.

This morning, between 6 and 8am, I ripped it out.

I had planned to finish it. It would have fit. All of my sweaters have relatively thin torsos and especially long (shall we say Simian?) arms, just like moi. That's the beauty of handwork, it can all be customized. It has been on my "must finish it this year" since 2008, and it was next on my list. All I had left to do was sleeves, and then of course the little collar.

The knitting was perfect, or as close to it as I was willing to do. I had experimented with the variegated wool on the front piece, choking it on the wrong side whenever I ran into the heathery green that matched the main body color, but on the back had just let it run its course, and it was fine. The tension was good. Not a single glaring error.

Then I stood up and admitted something to myself last week: despite all it had going for it, I wouldn't have worn it. It was too long for me to wear with skirts, too similar in shape to 367 other sweaters I own, and I simply wouldn't have worn it.

I got to change my mind. I got to say, "I get to do something different. I tried this, I really did, and I did my best, but it's just not the right thing for me, and I don't want to spend any more time on it."

Somehow, I think I am maturing. Maybe it was just a matter of time.

Now I have two beautiful yarns all skeined up and a useful knack for designing new sweaters. I will create something original, something that will be both pretty and worn often. And I won't feel guilty about the Northern Lights sweater any more. It no longer exists. I have moved on.

May you be so empowered in your knitting. (And in your life.)

But What About Googol?

We're halfway through 3rd grade Saxon math. Which may or may not be a testament to how good the boys are in math, since Saxon math bores all three of us practically to tears. It is authored by someone who apparently belives that repetition is the basis for all learning. Gaaack. Nevertheless, both boys are good at manipulating numbers in their heads and on their fingers, coming up with alternative answers to problems, grouping numbers, and some of the basics of fractions and decimals (relating it all to money really helps, particularly with the Heir Apparent).

So, a couple of weeks ago I was showing His Highness that, with long numbers followed by lots of zeroes, we count from the right to left, and every three zeroes we add a comma.

Common mathematical parlance. No big deal.

"Then what about googol?" he asked.

My brain did a backflip. In an instant I knew what he was talking about.

"You know, you must be right," I said. I looked it up, and sure enough, googol - which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes - is actually a number that begins with 10. Not like a thousand or million or billion or heptillion or any of those other zany bigger-than-life numbers, which all begin with 1.

Pretty good for a 7-year-old. I wonder how long I can stay ahead of him...