Friday, November 17, 2006

Winter and the Bridges of Konigsberg

I love Portland. I love it in more ways that I have time to detail for you right now (I'm on my lunch break), but I'm not sure that I can settle down here because the winters just kill me. My whole soul feels damp and deflated when the sun doesn't come out for days on end, and I am not generally a damp and deflated sort of gal. To wit: This summer? Illness of a loved one, parents' divorce, other crazy family shit, and the usual business of earning a living and trying to be a good human. And I was fine. I was great. Now? I realize I'll have to rip out my sideways scarf because I miscalucalated the row length, and suddenly I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

So. Given that, I have to be, I require myself to be, deeply grateful when the sun does show its face, which it's done now two days in a row and maybe three days this week. It gives me the push I need to try something new, like printmaking. Thus I give you my very first Eye Candy Friday:

This is my backyard, folks. How lucky am I?

I'm pretty happy for my first attempt.

As for my knitting life, it was by no means safe from the giant hole that winter dug. First there was the dog incident. I came home one day a couple of weeks ago, to find this:

...along with Sebastian, the lovable but not terribly bright greyhound, greeting me cheerfully as though nothing had happened, and Maya, the lab/shepherd that could probably get into Harvard looking at me with that "I swear I tried to stop him, Mom" look of equal parts sheepishness and disdain.

Sigh. Swear a bit. Thank Sebastian for not attacking the the actual knitted portion, as he and I would still not be on speaking terms if he had. Sigh again, and put the whole mess away for awhile.

Then one morning I woke up with the words "Bridges of Konigsberg" on my lips. This is a little nugget of elementary graph theory that you can go read about if you like, but the relevant bit is that it saved me from being totally overwhelmed by the task of untangling my yarn. Let me demonstrate:

The yarn has only two ends, one of which is obviously in the shawl itself, and the other is somewhere in these tangled islands. Starting from the shawl end, the yarn first travels through the big clump at the lower right, and since there's only one strand between them, it never returns to the shawl. From there it travels to the pie-shaped clump to the left and the big messy one up top. But because there are 2 (an even number) of strands between these bottom two piles, I know the yarn returns to the first clump again and never goes back to the "pie". That other trip, you will notice, is marked with a "5". There were an odd number of strands between those two piles and no other two, so the free end had to be in that largest pile. Who knew discrete math would come in so handy?

(Um, I shouldn't imply that finding the free end ended world hunger or anything. I still got horribly frustrated and ended up handing it to The Lady who very patiently undid the whole thing -- which pretty well illustrates one of the key differences between us. I'll analyze something to death before I actually dig in and do it, and she's happy to work things out with her hands.)

So, very long story short, I'm finally working on the leaf lace shawl again and fully expect to finish it this weekend.

And then there was the Print o' the Wave stole that had to be started over, the super secret project that's languishing untouched, and the scarf that was supposed to be a mindless distraction from lace and ended up eating up two full evenings and much of my presence of mind... but then I did some yoga and ate some fruit and the sun came out. Just you wait and see what I have for you on Monday.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Wow. I am just in awe of your mathing here. I knew I shouldn't have been so stupid at it in school.