As a child, and—well if I am being honest, even as an adult—occasionally I walk into the living room where my mother is sitting and she would be watching some insanely boring show on Masterpiece Theater. They talk in their British accents, and are in some hotel or something-or-another, and as soon as I see what is taking place in the living room, I quietly back out of the room, and pretend to have been busy on the computer the whole time. How can she watch this stuff? They talk forever while you can’t understand them, and then nothing happens! And then, Downton Abbey happened, and now I find myself in my mother’s shoes. I get it. The whole thing is just terribly romantic. The costumes leave me drooling and I saver each episode with every breath. I make sure the baby is in-bed, soundly asleep or napping before hitting play on Hulu so I can be sure to follow every detail. I simply cannot fathom how so much can happen in just one one-hour show! How could I have been so wrong, for so many years?
This morning while giving the baby his breakfast bottle, I found myself reflecting on something that Granny, Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, says in the first weekend. Ramon has been working so hard on our house remodel and I have been working so hard taking care of the little guy at home. We are both exhausted. Exhausted. And we are both desperate to have this huge remodel project completed so that we can once again be a normal family, and do it in our new home. In the second episode of the first season, taking place in 1912, Violet Crawley asks, “What is a weekend,” demonstrating that the social stature of “real-men” don’t need weekends and this is what the measure of a successful man is. He is so wealthy he does not work, and this is far more noble and respectable than a working-man. According to “Granny” we are fools then, of the lower-class, who are not worthy of respect. Ok, yes, this is going a bit far, I know.
But it is this work that makes us real. Ramon has been working so hard to provide for his family. I have been working so hard on our family, and then we have our interests as well. I have been working like made to try to get my patterns published. As silly as it is, it is now my only independent income, I too want to feel like I can contribute something financially to our family. The pride I feel when I have completed something is unparalleled though. I know that Ramon feels that way about our new home, too. Watching him work the way that he does makes me think of our cross-country road-trips. We’ve taken two, neither of them cannon-ball-runs. Both off the beaten path across many two-lane highways were we wouldn’t see anyone for miles and miles, except the occasional farmer. I have never felt more patriotic than I have when we were on these trips. We’d see so many real people, doing real work. Largely ignored or forgotten, they really are the backbone of this amazing country in which we live. I always feel like working harder once we’ve returned from one of these trips. I realize somehow, on a deeper level, that it is worth it, that “Granny” is wrong.
This morning in my email inbox, littered with junk, I came across an email from Hulu: Top 5 Moments: Game Day Ads. Now, I didn’t watch the game. We have so much going on, and we don’t have cable right now, our TV watching exists only because of our Roku. So, all of these Ads are new to me. The top ad in the email shows a screenshot of a baby Clydesdale. Okay my attention is peaked. I clicked. I am a sucker for ponies. I love them. Always have, always will—another gift from my mother.
As to be expected, this ad almost brought me to tears.
Then, of course, I had to see what the number 1 ad of the Superbowl was (according to hulu). Ram. We have one of those. Ramon is driving it every day these days. Our big dualie diesel. Usually it is when he is working the hardest he is driving that truck. He loves that truck. I love that truck. That truck is the Little Buckaroos favorite of all of the vehicles we own. We both even have cowboy hats the we proudly wear when we’re in it. Amazing as Ramon does NOT wear hats, and isn’t a very silly person by nature.
I think many, many people feel a strong connection with this ad, and again even if they don’t it may ask them to think twice about their perceptions and ideals. Paul Harvey’s words, spoken in 1978, still ring true today, or at least make us think about who we are. Again, I believe, for our time, for this place, Granny was wrong.
If anything can make one feel patriotic, we should feel proud that it is the reminder of hard-work. Few nationalities can say their country was founded on this concept. Both a blessing and a curse, but still a tie that binds, no matter how larger or small the job may be.
I felt so disappointed when I had a muscle spasm in my neck on the dawn of Saturday morning. I had 7 patterns to publish, and I only managed to get three in by end of day Friday—meaning 1 am Saturday morning: the Carried Away Cowl, Levieva Pullover and Twenty for Five Pullover.
I did my best but with my number one job of mommy coming first, my great publication—and hoped new distribution—of what I think is fabulous knittery had to wait until after Buckaroo bedtime. Still, publishing three of 7 patterns is a great feat. I figured I could get the remaining 7 done the following day. Then the muscle spasm. This happened as a result of too much coffee and not enough water. Ugh! I did this to myself! And now I could hardly even pick the little guy up. Certainly no patterns would get published on Saturday, or even Sunday, or, alas, even Monday. Now here we are on Tuesday and it is not looking hopeful.
I received a comment on my blog post, Ignorance is Bliss, yesterday, reminding me that sewing—lets just say stitching—isn’t a race. This is a fact that I often forget. In fact, I believe that I forget this multiple times per day. The comment came as a gentle, supportive reminder that it is not the speed that matters but the end result, and the pride that I take in it. A few more days to get these patterns published won’t really make any difference. I won’t loose anything, except maybe a few eyeballs and a few sales, but isn’t my happiness, health and that of my son and my family more important? Yes! Won’t I enjoy the process more if I feel less rushed? YES! YES! YES!
Hard work, determination, pride, and joy. A sewing support group certainly isn’t a bad idea though. Like farming, sewing is an activity that is completely primarily in solitude, and I think it can often feel lonely. In my case, it can even turn into a race, or desperation to get something completed. I have received a few responses to my new group, my new pursuit for social knitting, Fashion Knits Out. Ironically, my responses have included the designer of the Downton Pullover from Interweave Knits, Fall 2012. Or, maybe it is not ironic. Maybe the show is just so amazing that everyone is obsessed with it. Why did it take me last week to discover it? I will keep plugging away at my projects, proudly. If anyone is interested in a sewing support group, I’d certainly be game.
So, going back to the Brotherhood for a moment (the ad with the Clydesdale), I guess even when no one else sees the amount of work and love that we put into something that is so important to us, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t felt. No one else will ever really know just how hard we all work on our individual projects or tasks, even the ones that we don’t work on in solitude. And ultimately, maybe it doesn’t really matter as long as we are proud of our result. To help our children learn something new? To share? To create something new? To provide for others? To get dinner on the table? Is there any greater honor than watching our offspring or our harvest fulfill its destiny?
Recently some fabulous knittery went viral. Shetland Ponies in sweaters! If there were ever a post to work this story into, this would be it. How can I not celebrate ponies in sweaters?
I don’t know how long these sweaters took. If one woman did them in solitude, or multiple women. I can imaging a knitting group of wonderful older ladies, each lady knitting an individual pony leg. These are seriously complicated sweaters. It boggles my mind. Most everyone, even most knitters (but not Knitters with a capital K) probably look at these ponies and think how damn cute they are. They are cute. But that is intricate colorwork. Those are huge sweaters. Yes, I am well aware that sheltand ponies are small. But think about knitting a sweater for a great dane, then adding some pony cub and hooves, and then doing it twice, with 8 colors and size 2 needles. I praise the knitters that worked on these sweaters. But it worked, didn’t it? These were done for a campaign to promote tourism, and they went viral. Those knitters probably worked for months and months but can’t they be proud of the hard work that no one will ever fully understand? Pony sweaters seen ’round the world!
My Levieva sweater is a great example of hard work that will never be known to anyone but me. I can tell you about it, but you won’t actually understand. Not really. In fact, my Cowl Beach is another great example. I had the entire cowl knit. Four skeins. 640 yards. And I ripped it all back out because I didn’t like the seam and needed to invent a new one. My Levieva sweater is worked top-down in the round. Which means that the entire yoke to the armholes is worked as one growing piece. At the end of it 6 rows take up 109 yards of yarn. 6 mere rows. I knit completely and ripped out the yoke of that sweater more than 3 times. It wasn’t perfect. It is now named after a Russian woman who played a part in Adventureland, set in 1987. A 1980’s throwback. In the end I even had to rip out the sleeves, create a new pattern and re-work them, even after washing and blocking the sweater. I let it dry for days only to discover that it still wasn’t perfect. Now, the pattern is published, and it is a beautiful sweater, but anyone who sees the pictures, or even knits it will never comprehend that probably well over 100 hours went into knitting this sweater & the versions before it’s current existence, just to get it right. Now, I feel nothing but pride when I see it.
Hey, I am a half owner in a Dodge Ram. Happiness can be the hardest work, and often done in solitude. But the payout is the greatest. Sorry Granny.