Monday, April 02, 2007

The minds, they are a'changin'

(With apologies to Bob Dylan: Sorry, dude. I can't resist puns. Or whatever it is that's in the title).

Sarah would like to know whether I've changed my mind about anything.

It is a worthy question. I am a pretty rigid person, usually. My mind, once made up, will generally stay that way, if not forever, close enough to it that you'd have to wait around a really long time. The times I have changed my mind are so rare and golden that I should start a hall of fame for them.

1. Ch-ch-ch-changes

One that leaps most readily to mind was my prejudice against science fiction books. I liked some TV shows (okay, just Star Trek, the Next Generation) and movies, but for some reason, the concept of the science fiction book conjured up all sorts of childishly mean-spirited images around the theme "dorks reading bad fiction." My husband once pointed out that, sure, there's a lot of crap out there, but some good stuff too, and anyway, Jane Austen was no great shakes, either.

After I recovered from this (!), he handed me a copy of Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. With its finely drawn characters, acerbic wit, and a dog who travels the space-time continuum with his master, I was happily engaged in this book from page one. What sets this book apart, however, are the grand themes that surface as the plot unfolds. The denizens of have given it a much more knowledgeable and thorough review than I ever could, so I shall direct you there for more information.

But Sirens probably isn't true sci-fi. Certainly not as I defined it in my knee-jerk aversion to sci-fi. So, I stuck my toes in a little deeper with the Ender series, by Orson Scott Card. There are a bunch of these, starting with Ender's Game, which in the grand tradition of series, is probably the best one. It certainly got me hooked enough to read up through the fourth book. After that, I was a little Ender-ed out, but I could see myself re-reading some of these, or continuing at some point.

Very basically, Ender is a young boy, and an outcast in society, for a big reason that is clear from the get-go. He gets recruited into an elite military school at younger than the standard age, where the kids train to be the best warriors possible in order to kick the butts of the aliens who kicked our butts a decade or so previously. From this fairly simple premise, Orson Scott Card got 3 really good books, and 1 mostly good book (and the rest I can't speak to) without having to thoroughly exhaust his bag of writerly tricks.

Though less in the way of grand themes, there is definitely a lot to hang your hat on intellectually, e.g., dystopia, family dynamics, ethics of war, cultural differences (esp. in Book 4)... and so long as the action is interesting, the characters are engaging, and the writing is good, I am up for pretty much anything.

2. Turn and face ...

More significantly, answering Sarah's inquiry got me thinking about why I had this prejudice. There is no logic to it at all, which makes it a true Capital-P Prejudice. I never had any highfalutin standards for my reading material, and though I do read what you might call literature every once in a while, I never thought of myself as being literary. I have read romance novels. I have no business talkin' smack about people who read sci-fi, y'know?

I will readily confess my other ____-snobs, i.e., wine snob, music snob, yarn snob..... But a book snob, I am not. If DH asks you where his Star Trek novels went, don't tell him they're in my book basket next to the bed.

3. The strange...

As for yarn, I am changing my mind about cotton. My second sweater was a white cotton tunic from a Spring/Summer issue of VK, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I believe the pattern called for Classic Elite Weekend Cotton. Back then, I was a new knitter, and pretty much everything I made was either a Lion Brand Pattern or kit, and I used the requisite Lion Brand yarn. When a pattern didn't call for Lion Brand yarn, I substituted. This wasn't a conscious thing. It was an access thing. I didn't make much money, there weren't lots of yarn shops where I was living, so I knitted with what I had.

For this cotton sweater, I chose a Lion Brand cotton (and I can't remember the name - it might have just been called Lion Cotton), and knitted away at K1P1 ribbing (ouch!) for ages until the sweater was done. It looked good, actually. Not as light and summery fabulous as in the magazine, but respectable, especially for one's second sweater.

It was also massively heavy and had all the drape of a hunk of siding. It wasn't very soft to knit with or to wear, so into the closet it went, until I ended up packing it into a bag of clothes I donated after losing my "living at home during law school" weight. I never touched cotton again. I bypassed it disdainfully in yarn shops, and found the Spring/Summer issues of knitting mags to be utterly devoid of anything knittable. I might have liked the pattern, but I wasn't touching cotton with a 10-foot needle. Nope. Not me.

That might have all changed. A few weeks ago, while browsing in Urban Knitting Studio for a light pretty something to make into a springy shrug (I was thinking silk, or maybe microfiber), I fell in mad crazy love with Blue Sky Cotton, from the wonderful folks who make Blue Sky Alpacas yarn. It was the shade that called out to me: a very light petal pink, so delicate it is only found on babies' toes. I had to have it. I didn't care what it was made of. Okay, I did kind of care, but when I picked it up and felt how soft it was, I was sold.

I started knitting with it this weekend, for another iteration of Stefanie Japel's Minisweater (made my first one a couple of weeks ago, and now I am addicted). Ladies and Germs, it is like knitting with cotton balls. I love it. I love that stitches don't squish up together like wool does, and leaves the fabric uneven. It really is just a touch uneven, and in such a charming way that I am not sure I want to block it.

I probably won't change my stance on eyelash yarn any time soon, but stay tuned for further developments.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Oooh, Blue Sky cotton...yes, that would make anyone a cotton convert! And yeah, what's up with Orson Scott Card? He writes the occasional really good book, but also puts out a whole bunch that make me wonder whether his editor even reads them.