Honeybees! Aren’t they marvelous? It’s very fashionable right now to admire bees, but my relationship with the honeybee goes deeper than fashion. When I was very young, my best friend and I kept dead bumblebees in a little jewelry box; we’d carefully touch its bristly-soft fur. (Don’t look at me like that. We didn’t kill the bees. Just collected them.) Later on I wore a pewter pendant of a honeybee, every day, for most of a decade.
Wasps were far more common around my childhood house than bees were, for whatever reason; no summer went past without a few papery nests hanging from the porch. Terrifying. Bee stings are painful, but honeybees are sensible creatures who won’t attack without cause (and they inevitably die in the process.) Wasps are far more aggressive, stinging and swarming for any perceived threat. And their venom is far more painful.
Bees make wax, and beeswax is great stuff. This weekend I whipped up a batch of wood butter. I’d never made the recipe before and it was dead simple.
Just melt —
and let cool
and rub all over your unvarnished woods. Cutting boards, mixing spoons — even a worn-out nightstand, fifty years old.
My wood things — they’re all golden now. And they smell like sunshine and honey.
Officially it’s still Spring — but yesterday was June 1st, and the thermometer was over 90F in the shade, and that’s summer enough for me.
It’s also six months away from the end of the year.
Which means gift-giving.
In six months.
It seemed like plenty of time (aeons!) when I was planning all this, back in January.
Doesn’t seem so long now.
Well, a journey of a thousand miles, and so on and so forth.
It might take a thousand miles to turn this into a Milkweed.
No fear. There are six months.
We’ll get there.
In the meantime … summertime.
(This post is a day late because I have an infected tooth. Pity me.)
It’s not the most skilled knitting I’ve ever done, or the best-designed garment I’ve designed, or my first time steeking, or the biggest thing I’ve made, or the fastest. It’s not the most of anything.
Except: It is the most I’ve made for another person.
Knitting for others can be (ahem) difficult. Even if they pick out the yarn and the pattern and seem incredibly enthusiastic … the finished object might not match expectations. Swatches lie, yarns misbehave, and optimism overtakes reality. Sometimes we forget that our physical form is not exactly that of the lithe 15-year old in the pattern photograph. You know. Normal things.
So here, I did all the right things. I involved my gift-ee in the process. We talked about yarn weight; she chose the colors; I knit up swatches; I measured and consulted and made her try on half-finished sleeves.
All this took months. From yarn choice to casting on was two months, at least. Plus another few
days months for knitting and reknitting and reknitting, and …
… and still: it didn’t seem very long.
This sweater was my constant companion for half a year. Even before I began knitting I was designing, planning, thinking about shoulder seams and how many steeks I could fit into a single garment (three), and what about the buttonbands, and how am I going to manage the hood. And when knitting began, I carried yarn and needles to my job and knit there.
After a while it grew enormous. Then I took it to my sign language class, where I worked on it beforehand, as my friends and I chatted in English. (It is impossible to hold a conversation in sign language and knit, simultaneously. I have tried.)
I knit in fast-food booths — on sofas — on long car trips — in a rocking chair while the cat slept on my lap … and it didn’t become boring.
And all that’s left is to weave in ends.
So … I got a leetle carried away with this stress-knitting thing.
Just a bit.
Actually it got pretty bad.
And then it got silly.
Somewhere around the third meter, I lost it.
I draped i-cord over everything in sight. Couldn’t help myself.
I noticed my salad was almost (but not quite!) as pretty as my knitting.
… a wandering rock-n-roller modeled for me
… as did some very random sculptures.
(This cast iron yard ornament approves of your awesomeness!)
But we wanted more, the i-cord and I. We wanted away from all that fuss.
And at the end, it was just me and the i-cord.
Like a Zen garden of stitches.
And I found something else, too.
Here’s my secret:
If you hold enough i-cord to your ear, you can hear the ocean.
shhhhhhhhhhhhh … don’t cry. it’ll all be all right.