s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Don’t solve my problems, just <i>talk</i> to me

Friday, February 10, 2006

Don’t solve my problems, just talk to me

The other day I was on a 45 minute car trip with an acquaintance from the ward. And it came up that I’m learning how to knit, and she mentioned that she knits and I thought “Great. Here’s something we can talk about.” So I started talking about knitting and projects and then I mentioned something about how it’s hard that yarn can be so expensive. And she said that I needed to go to such-and-such fabric store and buy Lion brand yarn because it’s really cheap and comes in a variety of fibers. And that was pretty much the end of the conversation.

Only later did I realize why I had been so vaguely disappointed with the exchange: I really didn’t want my problem solved, I just wanted to talk about it. That’s what we do in my family, we sit around and talk about things – ideas, to be more precise. We don’t rant endlessly about the unalterable facts of life (that’s a pet peeve) although one is welcome to vent.

In my mind, the distinction is one of duration. A rant involves getting worked up about something that’s always bothered you, always will, and will never change. I swear some people actually enjoy being offended. I’m not one of them, and I don’t enjoy being around those who are. Venting on the other hand, is a one time occurrence driven by some recent event. It is done to family or close friends, for the purpose of receiving validation (yes, that was a horribly insensitive or dumb thing to say, you’re right to have been annoyed) and for the purpose of feeling better afterwards.

Anyway, I mostly like to sit around and talk about ideas. It’s easier to start out with the idea of a minor problem because that at least gives you something to work with – a bit of tension in a situation to tease out and explore, but not so much that strong emotions are likely to come into play.

A problem that I’ve noticed in my ward (and more generally, since moving to Illinois), is that I can’t find anyone to talk to! If I present a problem, I either get a glib solution, or some kind of vague comforting. If I mention that it’s tough being an “older” single LDS woman, I hear that I need to date more and go to YSA activities or that I shouldn’t worry so much because everything will work out OK. This is one of the main reasons I’m panicky about Melyngoch going on a mission. It’s not just that she’s been my best friend for more than five years (and therefore doesn’t need to be told the backstory in any given encounters) it’s that I still talk to her at least once a week, and I don’t know what I’ll do when that’s gone. (Don’t take this the wrong way, Petra, but I’m praying that you don’t get admitted into any more schools. Or at least that no one will give you any money.)

At any rate, I now give you four carefully composed, conversation-starting provoking responses to the statement: “Yarn is so expensive.”

1. Does that make knitting a generally more expensive hobby, than, say, tatting or cross-stitching, where one uses substantially less thread or floss?

2. Is it “regular” yarn that’s so expensive, or is it novelty yarn? (And do yarn makers develop novelty yarns just so they can have something to put a huge markup on?)

3. Yarn may be expensive, but it’s probably still cheaper to knit a sweater from expensive yarn than it is to buy a sweater made from the same materials. Plus you can design it and size it to your own specifications.

4. Natural fibers are a lot more expensive than, say, acrylic yarns. If you just enjoy the process of knitting, maybe you can stick to the cheaper stuff. Of course, maybe if something’s worth making, it’s worth making out of good materials. It’s a bit of a balance.

And those are just the ones I thought of myself. Imagine how much more I could come up with if I had someone else to talk to!

6 Comments:

At February 10, 2006 6:13 PM, Blogger Th. said...

.

I was going to tell you how to solve your lack of an outlet for venting, but then realized that would totally be missing the point.

Anyway, do tell.

 
At February 11, 2006 1:49 PM, Anonymous Petra said...

I suppose now it's time to see who God likes better: you're praying I won't get other offers as tempting, and I'm praying that I will. Bring it on!

(You realize, too, that you're not really selling me on the idea of Illinois, here.)

 
At February 11, 2006 11:29 PM, Blogger Katya said...

*sigh*

I shall pray that you get into the program where you need to be, and that they are generous with funding. I shall also pray for a friend here at UIUC. God willing, the two shall coincide.

 
At February 14, 2006 1:59 PM, Blogger Master Fob said...

And I will pray that someone will tell you how to solve all your problems. I think the solution with the Petra thing is to break into all the other schools' admissions offices and tear up her applications. Aren't you glad I solved that for you?

 
At February 15, 2006 11:08 AM, Blogger ambrosia ananas said...

My response would have been somewhat less neatly composed. Probably something like,

Yeah, it is, if you're using any reasonably good yarn. But it's so fun to knit when you use nice material. And they have so many fun kinds--baby llama wool, and sparkly stuff, and that chunky fluffy stuff. I want to make a hat out of that stuff, but I haven't learned to use round needles or double-ended needles yet. It looks hard. Have you tried it?

And then I probably would have asked you what projects you were working on now, and what kinds of yarn you prefer to use and why, and I would have picked your brain to see if you knew any cool knitting tricks that I didn't, because I need to collect cool knitting tricks. And I would've asked if you know any sweater patterns that turn out looking fashionable and nice (in a classic sense), because all the patterns I see end up looking like something from the seventies.

Yeah. That's probably what I would have done. Ummm, and I am actually interested in your answers to those questions.

 
At February 17, 2006 10:50 PM, Blogger Katya said...

I want to make a hat out of that stuff, but I haven't learned to use round needles or double-ended needles yet. It looks hard. Have you tried it?

I bought a pair of round needles, but then they turned out to be too small for my hat. And then a friend of mine out here convinced me that double pointed needles really wouldn't be that hard to work with. I did drop a couple of stitches while gauging, but they're really not that bad. I think I have a tendency to stretch out the stitches a bit where they go from one needle to the other, but otherwise I think I'm doing fine. And you can always buy point protectors if you're really panicky.

And then I probably would have asked you what projects you were working on now,

Having finished the scarf, I am now working on a matching hat. Afterwards, I think that I'm going to start working on an afghan. And after that I might do another scarf. I want to work up to a sweater, but I need to do some intermediate projects, first.

and what kinds of yarn you prefer to use and why,

So far I like wool (or wool blends) and am coming to dislike acrylic, especially as I had to switch back to it in order to give Melyngoch lessons. (I'm a firm believer in learning to knit with cheap variegated yarn. It makes seeing the stitches so much easier.) Melyngoch says the cotton's hard to work with, and I've read that wool is really the best thing to knit with because it gives a lot more than most fibers. Some day I think I'd like to work with silk or cashmere. I like how the fluffy fuzzy yarns look, but I don't know that I'd ever knit myself something with them because I'm not the fluffy hat or fuzzy sweater type. But I have promised to knit Melyngoch many orange things while she is on her mission, so maybe I can make use of novelty yarn then.

and I would have picked your brain to see if you knew any cool knitting tricks that I didn't, because I need to collect cool knitting tricks.

Probably not many, but I've been reading up on a lot of knitting blogs and I found this article on knitty.com which was pretty helpful. And I picked up a copy of Knitting for Dummies, which has actually turned out to be a pretty good book.

And I would've asked if you know any sweater patterns that turn out looking fashionable and nice (in a classic sense), because all the patterns I see end up looking like something from the seventies.

Like I said, I haven't worked up to a sweater yet. I think that the problem with knitting sweaters is that anything classic is bound to be hard and anything easy is bound to look really odd. (No, really. I wanted bat-wings or dolman sleeves or whatever.) My grand goal is not to knit anything that I wouldn't buy. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for caring. I miss you all.

 

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