Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Zizmor!

I have had so many wonderful things filling my life lately that it's hard to pick and choose what to write about. They all try to get through the doorway at once, and get stuck. I suppose there are worse things that can happen than a paralyzing overabundance of choices.

One of those things was a 2 week trip out West. We went to Wyoming and Montana, visiting Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Glacier National Park. It was an amazing trip full of staggering beauty, and I will post a link to the full set of photos once they're all up and organized on Flickr. Here's a teaser:

herd of bison

Too bad I'm writing this post before I've uploaded the SHEEP photos! Well, that will get you to read my next post, eh?

Another thing that's been taking up a lot of my time is the cello. A few months ago I decided to start playing the cello again, which for me was basically starting from square 1. It's an incredible challenge, and very rewarding, and I plan a more thorough blog post about it at some point. (One of those things jamming the doorway, I tell ya!)

There are times when I feel that I'm in over my head with good stuff, and there are times when I question why I try to do all of these things when I could probably be satisfied with fewer projects. Usually I suppress this question to the dark recesses of my mind when it pops up, treating it like an annoyance. Kind of like those people who tell you you can just buy a package of tube socks for $5 at Wal-Mart. There is a reason why I do all these things (and goodness knows there are people who do a lot more than I do!), but sometimes it's not so easy to articulate.

The other day I got some insight into how to frame an answer. Stick with me, here, because the path my mind takes isn't always straightforward. I saw a sign for some business that seemingly randomly brought back memories of Dr. Zizmor. Any of you who have spent time watching commercials or riding the subway in NYC in the past 20 years or so probably know who this guy is. For those of you who don't, you can click on that link (and watch that classic commercial!) if you want. In short, he's a NYC dermatologist who had (has?) cheesy but catchy TV ads, and print ads that are frequently found in subway cars. I grew up in Brooklyn and took the subway to/from school every day in high school. I'm sure I've seen his subway ads thousands of times.

Here's where the ride though my mind gets a little twisty-turny. When I saw that sign that reminded me of Dr. Zizmor, I thought that I should google him, to see if there is any NYC nostalgia online about those old dermatology subway ads. Then I thought about how when I was growing up, there was no such thing as google. The internet was in its infancy (at least for the general public), and I didn't have access to it at all before college. Back when I was in high school one of the other things you would occasionally see among the ads in the subway was something called Poetry In Motion. These were short poems interspersed among the ads, and I loved them. My absolute favorite Poetry In Motion poem was Blackberry Eating. (In fact, it's still one of my favorite poems.) I remember that one day I decided that I just needed to have that poem for myself, and searching for it ride after ride after ride, until I finally saw it and was able to scribble it down.

And here's the thing. In 1994, waiting and hoping was my only option. It took work to find information. Nowadays, I'm sure that a simple google search would get me that information in seconds. (In fact, it's among the first page of hits if you just google "blackberry poem" without the quotation marks.) While I greatly appreciate how accessible information is thanks to the internet, I do have a lot of nostalgia for the days in which it wasn't so easy to find what you were looking for. I think that having to work for it, and having to exercise patience as well as vigilance, made the information all that much sweeter when you finally got your hands on it. There is something special about a Galway Kinnell poem hurriedly scribbled in my own writing notebook, next to my own poetry, that is more satisfying and pleasureful to read than typed words on a screen found in mere seconds through a Google search.

And here we are, getting very close to my point. (I know, can you imagine! Yes, there is a point.) While I celebrate the openness of information that comes with internet access on a daily basis, and recognize its grand benefits for education and quality of life, I think that it has affected many or most of us. I have a theory. (No, not bunnies.) My theory is that the reason we see this "trend" (I hate that word, but there it is) in hand crafts is that we crave a type of information that can't just be googled. I feel that with the internet, if you want to know about something you can know about something. Information flows so freely that it doesn't always feel as special as it once did. There is no challenge. And I think that pushes many of us to find a challenge; To find chase a kind of information or knowledge that can't just be googled. Why am I playing the cello? Why is there a raw fleece on my porch? Why do I have 2 dozen (at least) pairs of hand knit socks? Because these things are concrete. These things don't exist unless I put in time and effort. These things come from and provide experiences that I can't get just from staring at a computer screen.

I know this isn't true for everybody, but I suspect it's at least somewhat true for the people who choose to read about me on a computer screen. Our lives have become virtual in so many ways, and connecting with people and information as become so effortless, that we need more concrete things in our lives. So the next time someone asks me why I bother, I think my answer will be "because it's real."

And yes, I think this is also why Alex and I choose to spend our vacation time climbing mountains and seeing the country for ourselves. Photos in National Geographic are great, but feeling the ground under our feet is better.

Oh yeah. You came here to see stuff I made? I know my last post was about socks, but I'm going to share more. I have been knitting a lot of socks recently, in part because they are a good side project while I'm designing other things and working on bigger but slower projects. There will be bigger and different things eventually, I promise.

Kai Mei
Kai Mei socks, designed by Cookie A, in sock yarn from Julie Spins. Bonus cormo fleece in the background!

Papaver Sok
Papaver Sok, designed by Anne Hanson, in Araucania Ranco Solid sock yarn.

Handspun Retro Ribs
Retro Rib socks, designed by Evelyn Clark, in handspun BFL.

The yarn I spun for these retro ribs was dyed by David of Southern Cross Fibre. The colorway is called vigilance, and I decided to split it up before spinning it for these fraternal socks.

Vigilance BFL
With cello music in the background! I am happy to say that I'm well beyond those pages, and it's nice to see visual confirmation of my progress.

That's enough for now, I think. Off to do some swatching and vacation photo uploading!

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