Parent First, Artist Second

At this point in my life, I identify myself as a parent first and artist second. From the very first days of my daughter’s life, I knew that I would put the bulk of my energy into her. This was what felt right for me, and is not a judgment on anyone else’s priorities.

There are times, now that my children are in 5th and 3rd grade where it is a struggle to put them first. There is so much I want to do, so much a younger version of myself had expected I would have achieved at this point in my life. Yet, when it comes to choosing between spending a morning pulling weeds at school and meeting with a professional association of artists, my time goes to the garden party. When my son had a fever and a sore throat, I chose to keep him home for four days just to give him the extra cushion he needs to be fully present the following week.

Our children attend a public school in Seattle, underfunded by our district, as is the case across the country. Thanks to the efforts of our parent fundraising organisation, we manage to add music, art, PE and more to our children’s education, with the bulk of our dollars raised at our annual auction. Year in and year out, this is an enjoyable event, where parents and friends are invited to dash for desserts, dress in costume, cook for a crowd and grab a great bottle of wine for a deal. Donations come from all quarters: gift baskets assembled by middle school parents, mosaics created by elementary classes, trips, massages and more. This year, I am contributing two separate items: a felt flower workshop and a ruffled irridescent silk scarf.

This scarf is named Edith, in honor of our fearless auction chair. Two layers of ruby silk are held together with a narrow band of shimmering felt.

The auction will take place on Saturday March 26th, 2010 in the Wellness Center at North Seattle Community College, should you care to join us. The evening begins at 5pm with a fabulous potluck dinner, better than any catered event food. This is one of the things I most love about our school. I’m looking forward to a fun-filled evening putting my money where my heart lies.

A Quick Note About Gauge

How many times have I read how important it is to swatch for gauge when knitting a new pattern? Too many to count. But when starting a pattern I’ve already knit, it seems like an unnecessary step, and who really swatches for socks? For the most part, sock yarn is fairly stretchy and I seem to have an average size foot. Every sock I’ve knit fits more or less, some a little slouchy or a little long, but I’m not picky when my feet are warm.

I finished knitting this pair of socks last year. They are my favorite pair of socks by a long shot. The fit is snug without being tight, the plant-dyed wool yarn is a beautiful color and the pattern is deceptively simple. As soon as they were off the needles, I cast on another pair with a different yarn. Why spend time memorizing a pattern when this one is so perfect?

Because not every sock yarn is the same, that is why. Knit with the same size needles, these socks are so tight I can’t get them past my ankle. No matter of pulling, stretching and wiggling will work. Am I disappointed? Very. I love the color and the hand of this yarn, but there must be something in the fiber content (superwash merino/tencel by Tactile Fibers) which is not quite as elastic as the first yarn (100% merino).

Then there is the question of gauge. Most yarns are labeled fingering weight, but on both yarns the manufactuers offer a range from 7-9 sts/inch . When working on tiny needles, just a couple of extra stitches can make the difference between a pair of socks that fit, and a pair that don’t fit.