Friday, May 20, 2016

New Circles for a Square Peg


I haven’t worried about my social life since college. I’m an introvert. The daily interactions with colleagues and students at school more than met my social needs. Even staying home with my sons and husband on evenings and weekends didn’t leave me enough alone time. My schedule was so overwhelming that making time for old friends and extended family sometimes felt like a sacrifice. 

That has changed. Now I have a lot of time. I haven’t felt lonely yet, but I’m afraid that I will if I follow my natural inclination to sit on the couch with Netflix full time. Also, although I love the time I have at home with my family, they are definitely guys. Testosterone poisoning is a genuine risk if I don’t get out and find some girl time. I’ve found two groups that should help.

First of all, I’ve started to attend meetings of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP). This is an easy organization for me to join. Meetings are once a month at my neighbor’s house. My mom, aunt, and grandma attend too. About a third of the people there I’ve known for my whole life.

DUP is fun in a geeky kind of way. We sing old songs, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and take turns teaching lessons about different pioneer era topics. At the last meeting, my Aunt Sue taught about the world’s fair in Chicago. Utah was applying for statehood, so the fair was a good  chance for Mormons to prove that they could be patriotic, normal Americans. The refreshments usually tie in with the theme. Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit Gum, and Cream of Wheat were first introduced at the fair, so they were offered at the end of the meeting. To make the Cream of Wheat more appealing, all kinds of toppings were available, from fruit to caramel.

I will become an official member when the meetings start up again in the fall. Then I can have a chance to prepare occasional lessons too. Learning new things and using them in lesson plans is one of my favorite parts of teaching, so I’m looking forward to it.

My other new social circle is riskier because I don’t know anyone and it could get expensive. There is a knitting group that meets at The Unravelled Sheep every Saturday. I learned about it when I signed up for a knit-along. There are classes, trunk shows, and group projects there regularly, but this is the first one I’ve tried out. We are all knitting a scarf from this pattern. 

The teacher of the class custom dyed yarn for this project. Then she worked through the pattern four or five times to work out  the kinks and figure out how to teach it. We all worked together for about five hours last Saturday. I’ve knit mine off and on since. Here is my project so far.

I’m planning to go to the store and knit some more tomorrow morning. Part of me is. Shyness and the ache that comes from stormy weather are working against me. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Knitting with other knitters is both nice and strange. I’m used to being either a lone knitter in the corner or the one teaching a friend how to knit. At the class I was just one of the group, not any faster or more skilled than the rest. Most of the people there know more than I do about knitting software, designers, and new techniques. For example, I learned how to knit a few stitches backwards in order to work more efficiently on the scarf pattern. From overhearing conversations, I also know that several of these women are very well travelled. These could be fun people to know. I just have to learn to control myself and not spend all the grocery money every time I walk into the store.


Although I’m the only person I’ve seen knitting at DUP, it is a natural place for traditional crafts. One of my favorite pattern books is Victorian Lace Today. It is full of patterns and stitches that pioneer women probably used. One example is this hand-spun lace shawl in  my shop.

Another is this piece I just started. The stitch is called a melon stitch. It is a round stitch in a square (soon to be rectangular) piece.

The knitting inspired by this week’s topic is a circular scarf made of checkerboard squares.

The yarn is one I bought because I am fascinated with plant-based dyes. This is soft, merino yarn from Mountain Meadow and it was colored with dyers' coreopsis. I have yarn of about five different shades dyed with this same plant. It will show up again in a project I have planned for later. The scarf is for sale at my shop.

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