Brief absence.Posted: December 27, 2010
I’ve taken a bit of a holiday-related absence from knitting. I finished working my retail job (I’ll be taking on a research job in the new year. Sigh of relief.), Dublin was hit by moderate snow which shut down the entire city, A got stuck in the Netherlands briefly which struck me with panic that he might not return home for our first Christmas together, and the above factors prompted me to briefly move in with my family until things returned to normal.
In more recent news, A and I were without running water, and heat from our radiator, for about a day because the water mains to our flat froze. It was a surprising wake-up call to see how much water it takes to do something moderate like washing your face, much less your entire body. Of course, even though not having any water made us feel like we were suddenly living a subsistence lifestyle, we weren’t. We were able to run our computers as we washed our faces with the bottle of water that my aunt gave us, turn on our electric radiator and climb under our quilt for warmth, and if it came to it we could shower at the local leisure centre. We definitely had access to the resources to keep us healthy and clean and hydrated, but they were just slightly less convenient.
Here is where I, predictably, talk about how millions of people a day go without running water much less hot water. Which, of course, they do. And my experience was nothing like the day-to-day worry of keeping yourself alive. Nothing. It would be vain and insulting to people who do have to live that life to think that a single day with no water came anywhere close; what I experienced was definitely not a scarcity of resources. What it did demonstrate to me, however, is what it does mean to be frugal with resources. I am capable of washing my face and my dishes with a third of the water I normally would. Even to live in relative comfort, I do not need to use anywhere near the resources I do.
A good friend of mine came to visit us here and commented on our bar-sized fridge, taps that were separate for hot and cold water, and water tank that needed to be switched on to generate any hot water and was not capable of generating enough to wash the dishes from making and eating dinner. These things are a relatively normal part of domestic life in Ireland (except maybe the teeny tiny capacity of water tank), and he pointed out that, of course, not everyone can live like North Americans. And neither should we.
In knitting news, I’ve given up on making this thing into a scarf. Poor A, ever the gentleman, says it’s perfectly fine that I want to use it as an experimentation piece. To a certain extent, I don’t like the idea of using this piece just to learn things. I feel as though I should be thinking about the practicality of each piece I make, and that in making useful things I should amass skills. My process of learning should be a reflection of the values that are underpinning my project: self-sufficiency, non-consumption, frugality with resources. Realistically, though, I don’t think I’m going to even learn to increase or decrease stitches unless I make a sweater, and without learning those things I’m never going to make said sweater. So, after some logical acrobatics and rationalisation, experimentation piece it is. I also think I’m getting bored of doing the same stitch constantly on this scarf—it’s not that I set myself too big a project, it’s just that I didn’t realise how many stitches of sport-weight (bordering on fingerling) yarn go into a small amount of fabric.
Speaking of A the gentleman, for Christmas he got me (among many other things, he was very generous) a book called Glam Knits for Christmas. I was thrilled. The pieces are beautiful and a lot of attention is paid to tailoring and fit which I LOVE. I’m a sucker for beautiful things and I think this book will definitely give me some insight into how to put them together. I wish there were more books on how to make nice things for man-shaped people so that, someday, I could follow through on my promise to make something for this lovely man I live with.