Super Moon

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Once every thirteen months
the moon is uncharacteristically large,
the circumference of its orb almost threatening,
its glow, suffused with orange, demon-like.
Typical, then, that my eyes look up to a cloud-choked sky,
bereft even of the smallest hint of light.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Forgiving what I took to heart

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I love my dog more than life itself
and I’m not afraid to say it.
I think in the absence of the real thing,
she is my human child.

Some days, like today,
my love actually hurts:
a pain behind my ribcage,
wide and deep.

I think of my friends with babies
and I don’t know how they manage.
A cut lip would destroy me.
A sprain, and I would be a wreck.

And what of something serious,
like a virus or a disease?
I could never cope with compromised
or malfunctioning bits.

And yet I have –
in my own way,
on a much smaller scale:
navigating a broken tail,

fixing a dislocated knee,
treating a suspected heart murmur,
a skin parasite;
seeing her through hepatitis and gallstones.

We’ve been through a lot, her and I,
and so far we’ve survived.

I look to my parents with added respect,
only now understanding their challenges,
forgiving what I took to heart,
loving what I hated.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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I Spy with my little i…

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…something beginning with C

I am currently in the throes of knitting myself an ipad case, hence the ‘C’. While in Australia, I watched and admired a friend working on a cabled one and have secretly coveted my own ever since.

I searched around on Ravelry (one of my favourite sites for inspiration and the first place I go after having visited Google images and a few revered blogs and knitting shops) and finally came across a faux-cabled pattern. Much quicker and simpler than the real thing, it struck me as a good idea.

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The ‘good idea’

Passenger Therapy – like retail therapy, only cheaper

I don’t permit myself personal projects very often, except for in the car. I make art and I make gifts, only bequeathing myself when something hasn’t worked out, when I don’t consider it good enough to share with a wider audience. As it is, my presents are hit and miss, often causing mixed emotions in their recipients. I guess there are only so many hats, scarves, blankets, bags, purses, toys, baubles and trinkets one needs before they start to feel like their home is a museum to somebody else. Not everyone likes to fill a space so tightly, personal artefacts pinned and hung from every spare inch. So this is a big deal, something for me, and I am eager to enjoy it as much as I can given that it is motivated by need and necessitated by fear.

Anxious by nature, both inside and outside of a vehicle, it, knitting, is my method of transport therapy. Put me on a road cluttered with hire cars fresh from the airport and crazy locals who talk, smoke, eat and change lanes all at the same time, and I am a nervous wreck. I need something to contain me and knitting seems to do just that. Besides, I hate to be idle. My hands are rarely still, even at dinner parties. It makes for quite a reputation. But I like my eccentricity and do my best to nurture it. I have wasted too many years caring too much and holding back as a result. Looking behind me at the long list of ‘never haves’, I consider this tragic and am determined to make up for it.

Below are pictures of my progress.

A hat, a sock and a sleeve

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More like a hat than a case

Several journeys in and my case looks more like a hat than a case and I am tempted to stop here and make it into one. It’s only the heat of summer that prevents me. I would have to wait for months to use it and I don’t have the patience for such things. Besides, patience or not, I like what I see and I am enjoying the process. The design is really rather clever; so much simpler than juggling cable needles and slipping stitches backwards and forwards.

Faux-Cable:
R1-4: *p1, k3*, repeat between *s to end.
R5: *p1, sl1, k1, yo, k1, psso*, repeat between *s to end.
And so on, repeating R1-5 until you reach your desired length.

Official Cable:
R1: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
R2: *p2, k2tog but do not slip finished stitch off left needle, knit into first stitch on left needle again, then slip off left needle*, repeat between *s to end.
R3: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
R4: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
And so on, repeating R1-4 until you reach your desired length.

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It reminds me of a sock

A day later and it reminds me of a sock, a thought that makes me wince. Can you imagine trying to turn a heel and fashion a toe this big? Plus the whole thing would take ages and is far too fiddly for the car. Wrestling four needles, reading a pattern and balancing a chihuahua on your lap, all while your partner is weaving in and out, dodging and breaking to avoid near misses and dangerous drivers, strikes me as a mite bit too challenging. This is meant to be therapy, after all.

Pulling it out: the case of the case that looks like a sleeve

My hat has become a sleeve

Motoring along (pardon the pun) and my hat has become a sleeve. If I close my eyes, I can picture the jumper it would make. It would be a nice one: cheerful, unusual, pretty. Maybe my next project should be something larger and longer? If I start now, I might just finish it in time for winter. I only get a short amount of car time each day, between 30-60 minutes. At that rate, a jumper could take months. Probably better to stick to smaller things, things that I can turn out in a matter of weeks.

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The damsel can wear it

If the shoe fits, the damsel can wear it; or in this case, the iPad. I’ve taken it for a test drive, so to speak, and hurray!, it works. I am pretty yarn happy. It’s good to know my instinct hasn’t failed me, given that I was knitting in the car, away from my ipad and all means of measuring up and testing against. Can you imagine how painful it would have been if it didn’t fit, if it wasn’t wide enough? I would have cried myself to sleep. Tragic but true. I’m devastated when things fail: when the best of intentions, the grandest of ideas, the greatest of cares, backfires, and I am left in possession of a tangled wooly mess. The waste of such beautiful yarn, my time – all criminal. So much so, I usually have to reinvent it, thinking way beyond the proverbial box.

And if it was too long: going backwards would have been boring and hard. I would have made mistakes – dropped stitches, created holes, etc. I am relieved it is still perfect, without blemish or sin.

... an iPad in a case

Et voila!

“Et voila; je suis finis,” as the French would say. I’ll leave the rest of the world where it is: too much of a good thing is boring and detracts from the novelty. Besides, I’m not sure how far I would get; I never was much good at implementing languages outside of my own: my tongue is a little clingy, besotted with mother, clutching on to her hem lest she fly away.

Anyway, back to the point. We have landed safe and sound – bottom stitched together, top folded over and sewn under again; case as a whole washed, pressed and blocked, not a crease or a crumple in sight. Now all that’s left is a button to ensure safe transport to all who travel inside.

The Missing Link

Having gazed at it long and hard, both on and off my iPad, I have decided there is something missing and that the missing element is an attachment of some kind, a garnish or a flourish. And I have the perfect little design in mind.

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The perfect little design

Two days later, I have competed a bow. It took a while, as these things are inclined to do, but was well worth the effort. It completes the picture. When I showed it to a friend several night’s ago expecting some serious gushing, I was confounded by her somewhat lacklustre reply; a measure hurt by it too. It made me think, though, and that’s what led to the bow. So I have her to thank in a round about ‘you hurt my feelings and I had to seek therapy in my yarn’ kind of way. See: all’s well that ends well; we have our happy ending.

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Our happy ending

Made to Measure

If you would like a case of your own, please don’t hesitate to email me or visit me on Ravelry; I would be more than happy to make a few for the right people and price. There are easily six weeks of summer left to survive before the madness abates and I shall be clicking without interruption throughout.

I’m also planning on making mini-iPad, iPhone and Kindle cases, so keep your eyes open for these links to light up as I manifest my offspring. As with here, I will be documenting my progress throughout. Interested parties can sneak a peak, arouse their inspiration and pick up a few tips – like where to get wool and what wool to get, whether to use circular or dpn needles, which size works best, how long it all takes and ideas on how to accessorise once you are done.

A new leaf

I’m useless at taking notes and forever mourning creations that would like to have siblings but that will remain one-off’s because, their details trapped inside, I couldn’t possibly duplicate them no matter how much I desired.

It’s the same with my yarn. In failing to note the brand, the line and the lot number: I fall in love only to be denied, my passions dismissed after a casual fling.

In a bid to turn over a new leaf and save myself later anguish when you email enquiring about the specific of this piece, in search of details I have forgotten to add: like where to get faux-fairisle yarn, procure Knit Pro needles, a pattern for your beloved item – I have taken photos of the important things. I hope this will be one healthy habit that stays.

Below are images of the yarn that I used and links to where I brought it. If you would like to make your own case or something similar (like a jumper or a scarf), you can easily order from here. I have to warn you, though: they have discontinued the line, or at least this colour run, so stocks are running out. The same stands for those of you wishing to commission a replica. While I am more than happy for you to pick a ball from the site; I cannot guarantee I will be able to order it for you. It might perhaps be safer to commit to the desired ball on sight and then to have it posted on to me at my residence. That way, we all remain happy; our hearts achieving what they most ardently desire.

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Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter DK

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Lucie (171) – 50g

Up close and personal

Lucie (171) zoomed in

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4mm needles; 22 stitches x 26 rows, 10x10cm tension square

I bought this yarn from woolwarehouse.co.uk./a>. They are super-reliable, quick to act and prompt to dispatch and even post abroad at very little cost. That gives them five stars from me.

Yarn details from the website

A snapshot from the website

What colours will you choose?

So far, I have ordered one with my dog’s name (Bella) and one with my childhood cat’s (Fifi), for that reason alone. I also have a healthy collection of others and now possess over twenty different shades, although I have no idea which one is my favourite. I love them all, my preference shifting along with my intention and in line with my mood.

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Available Shades

If you would like to see them in action: my flamingo’s hair is made out of Bella, the grass in The Fairy Princess and The Frog Prince is Nessie, and the background for Angel Delight and The Chocolate Bunny is Elsie. And that’s just off the top of my head.

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The Water in Mallorca

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Drink flows like water,
which costs more than wine.
It’s the same with the bean and the bag.
In some bars, it’s €3 for an Evian
and €4 for some leaves in a mug.

In a bid to save money,
I’ve taken to drinking coffee by the litre
and wine by the jug.
While irresponsible for a person of my age and intellect,
inebriation favours me better than sobriety does.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Complaining to windows

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To my left, there is a lady cleaning.
She looks upset.
For half an hour now, she has been complaining to windows
and making faces at glass.

Every so often, she startles me with an exclamation
and several tongue clicks.
She’s hijacking my concentration
and trespassing my zen.

I want to abandon dignity,
chasten her with my lips.
But I settle for silent warfare
and apply my fingertips.

Dipping my index finger into make-believe paint,
I imagine I can see her aura,
tracing the outline of her body,
colouring it.

Brown turns to beige,
bows down to orange,
submits to pink,
dissolves into white.

My focus returns,
my mind reconnects,
my shoulders droop
and my heartbeat slows.

Oblivious,
my dog sleeps soundly,
entertained by a monochromatic landscape
of rabbits and moths.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Nice Girls Swallow. Sensible Girls Spit

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Life is complicated: the choice of potential options, vast; the possible pathways, many, meandering, overgrown and steep. Just thinking about it is daunting. Trying to affect our fate – making more than taking, succeeding more than failing, smiling more than crying, is overwhelming in the extreme and more than some of us can endure. It’s no wonder there are so many miserable people, so many hiding in their beds. We see a mountain and we run, reacting as if it were a spider. Maybe we have already climbed too many? Maybe we just don’t have the right kind of legs? Perhaps we have a fear of heights, an aversion to vertical? Whichever… whatever…: we are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have; with what we were given when we arrived, when we came out. If we are lacking, if we are struggling, if we have given up sooner or not travelled as far: it’s because the appliances weren’t there at the start. They either got left behind, left inside; or they were never presented to begin with.

My house was well-furnished and my box is fairly full. I have equipment. It helps. Heaven knows, I have needed it. I still do. If I had a pound for the number of hills and mountains I have encountered, the rivers and seas I have crossed: I would be a wealthy woman by now. Alas, it doesn’t work that way and I am as poor financially as the day I arrived. I owe my existence to benefactors and generous souls. But I am rich in other ways – in heart and in mind, in spirit, if a little disappointed, broken and sad. Trying and not getting; hoping and being denied, taint the image. The picture fades. The paint cracks. The brilliance is dimmed. I am older than I should be and upset by that. The mirror no longer presents a shiny object. I try not to look, and I look away. I go out with ink marks on my cheeks, toothpaste around my mouth, sleep in my eyes. People eyeball and I have no idea why, I have stopped caring. Or at least, I pretend to. In reality, there is no switching off, no numbing. Opinions hurt and I cannot help but be affected by them. I am only human.

Maybe that is why I spend so much time and energy on my art, on creating? Am I trying, perhaps, to make up for the lack in other areas? If I shine on the page, on the canvas, will others be more forgiving; will they remember me for longer; will I mean more, have more value? It’s not a bad theory.

Then again: creative people are characteristically hard on themselves and mostly unhappy, their glass having a tendency to remain empty in the realm of life; Life (the bitch) taking out as many drops as ‘they’ (the individual) puts in. It’s a long road and it’s bumpy. There are challenges. But without these challenges, we wouldn’t grow and growth is vital for creativity, for art. The brightest flowers come from the sparsest of gardens, the thickest of nights, the heaviest of storms. We cannot fight this: it’s the price of the gift. And we cannot knock the horse: what’s given belongs and what’s there is there: full stop, end of story.

So let’s all be thankful for that which we have and make the best of what we possess and wish for less and expect as much. That way, we know where we are and won’t be tripped up.

That said, here are some rules to live by. Take them or leave them. Digest or deny. Think me wise or consider me a fool. It makes no difference… I write as I see. I live as I encounter. I rule as I see fit.

1. Tackle what is beyond you:

The best protection is to be working on hard problems, that way you are always moving forwards and aren’t so easily distracted. And when you succeed, conquering a hurdle, facing something odious that cropped up, you feel great. There is nothing quite so powerful, so healing, so cathartic, as a conquest you can attribute to yourself. Carve up your bedpost. Make your mirror heavy with medals. Fill notebooks and sketchbooks with the stories that you write. Immortalise yourself.

2. Be curious:

View everything as an opportunity to grow and expand. Act like a kid. Probe and question. Reach out and touch. Grab onto and take with you. Sign up and attend. Dive in, go swimming, explore… Discover, find out… Be in charge of what goes in and take responsibility for how you interpret that. Be the captain not the victim. Write your own beginning, middle and ending.

3. Study the sky:

Count stars. Collect clouds. Become an expert at weather prediction. Take time each day to look around you. Absorb your surroundings. Be grateful for beauty and appreciate ugliness. Unsightly is also pretty. Sometimes, it’s exquisite. Think of an old person’s face and the stories it conveys, the life it reflects, the people and places. Think of a ruin, the history contained in what still remains, the things it once stood for, what it has survived. Be mindful in the moment and see the world for the magnificent thing that it is: big, chaotic and complex; incomprehensible, all-knowing and wise; multi-faceted, unpredictable and proud. Do this and do it often and live your life from it. Swallow don’t spit, unless what you savour offends.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Weak at the Knees

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Walking on air,
I fall head over heels;
I’m in deep.
My ankles buckle, as if under pressure.
My toes slip.

Collecting injuries,
like there’s no tomorrow,
I take my pain to bed,
curling around it like a senile cat;
feeding it and licking it.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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God is angry

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The weather is as stubborn as my chihuahua:
hot when it is supposed to be cold;
dry when rain was predicted.
It makes it difficult to plan
and I keep coming unstuck.

Today in cashmere,
I am itchy and uncomfortable
and I cannot help but scratch.
Red welts grow up on my arms
and my face dissolves into blotches.

Sipping water,
I attempt to cool down.
But it is all futile:
God is angry,
and the Devil wants to boil my brain.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Miserable Eyes

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Miserable eyes make me grumpy;
the sun’s glare
like needles dipping in and out.

Hiding behind tinted windows,
my agony is turned inwards,
pressed onto the cavities of my brow.

Exhausted and hot,
I sip Neurofen from a cup
and crunch ice.

It cools me down
but does little to influence my head.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A different perspective or a novel approach

My mother sent me this link, so I cannot take credit for finding or posting it, but I can, however, take the acclaim for passing it on and for sharing it. I can also add to her email by letting you know the thoughts and the feelings that it evoked in me.

But first, watch it, so I don’t spoil the ending or there will be no point in any of it.

What did you think? Sweet, huh? And kind of quirky. She is a real ‘retro chick’, isn’t she? Although whether I can get away with calling her that at her age or not, is another matter entirely? I think the term ‘chick’ runs out just shy of 30, and she looks somewhat older than that to me. Either that, or the period dress throws it all out of kilter and I’m basing my instincts on what I see instead of what is.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to impart. My intention was simply to say that this made me smile in a soft and gentle way, appealing to my romantic notions of the world, notions that tend to view objects as things with feelings and animals as little people, all of which have to be very carefully taken care of. I felt sorry for the nail file, magazine, mobile and laptop. And I was in anguish over the dress. To me, they all suffered just so that she, Miranda, could get something done. But it was also very clever and, strangely, I might actually have to try it myself. I might find a less complicated way of effecting the entrapment, though, one that ensures all objects are safe and remain that way. I wouldn’t want to traumatise my Kindle or fall out with the kettle. And how on earth am I supposed to pin down and trap the sun?

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