Monday, May 07, 2007

Nibble, Nibble

There's a standard motif in Japanese painting of a teeny-weeny mouse chowing down on a great big daikon. In some renderings, instead of a mouse it may be a rat. Or instead of a daikon, it may be a radish. But the basic idea is the same: small thing eating big thing.*

Nibble
Mouse and radish (detail). Not my scroll, but the motif is the same.

I've a nice specimen of this is in my collection. I'm so fond of it that I kept it over my altar for two months; usually I change the altar scroll every thirty days. The image of the little guy fearlessly tackling a gigantic project appeals to me at a very basic level. If you've ever stood next to me when I'm barefoot, you know why.

Last night as I was giving the homestead a general wash-and-brush I replaced the mouse with a painting of Jizo, the bodhisattva who watches out for expectant mothers and unborn children. (My sister is half a continent away, but she's uppermost in my mind at the moment.)

The mouse is rolled up and tucked away, but I'm reminded of it every time I pick up the christening shawl. The rounds are getting really long now (somewhere in the area of 600 stitches). When I consider how long they'll be before I start the edging I begin to teeter like Dolores after a wedding reception with an open bar.

So I try not to consider that. The mouse, you will notice, is not standing back casing the daikon and wondering whether he should have ordered the shrimp appetizer instead. He's just eating the bit that's in front of him. And that's what I'm doing. I'm knitting what's in front of me. 50,000 stitches? Big and scary. One stitch? Not scary at all. No sir. No reason to be scared of one tiny stitch.

Nibble Nibble

(Squeak.)

*Omigod, that totally reminds me of a wild story about something that happened in Ogunquit one summer which I'm not going to tell you because I'm sure my mother is reading this.

45 comments:

Anna-Liza said...

I really like the "just deal with what's right in front of you" idea. Life has been sort of overwhelming lately, and that's a really great reminder for me. Thanks!

Wish you could tell the "really wild story", but I get the "mom might be reading this" thing, too. Keeps my blogging decent!

Nancy said...

trust you and your parents will be trekking to maine very shortly. the mouse stands all of us in good sted.

ccr in MA said...

Yes, sort of like that adage about writing being like driving at night, that the headlights only show you the next bit of road, but that's all right, you can get all the way there that way. Best of luck!

Terri Lynn said...

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous lace. I'm trying to just get a little more ambitious than some booties for impending little girl a friend is having... Ummm did I say the lace was pretty?

Mary said...

The longest journey begins with one step.

Good luck, and best wishes for your sister.

Carol said...

Beautiful knitting, son.

And remember, good things come in small packages. (ducking)

Paul said...

hehehehe..... C'mon, you know you want to tell the story...

The shawl is lovely, btw.

Marcy said...

Hey, Franklin, I love the image of the mouse and the daikon. And I love the line, "I begin to teeter like Dolores after a wedding reception with an open bar." I can't wait to see the finished shawl; that's one lucky neicephew. And you've got one lucky sister, to have a brother like you.

The other day you recommended Mary Thomas' Knitting Book. Thanks for mentioning it! I bought a copy, and it's wonderful. The part about constructing block patterns is especially useful at the moment, as I have recently embarked on a cardigan with no fixed plan about how to reach my destination . . .

Karen said...

Awe, come on, you can't just throw out a juicy tidbit like that and expect us to behave and not beg to be told the story!

*sigh* I guess we'll just have to make due to the antics of Miss Delores and the baby shawl...

Rachel H said...

Courage, little mouse.

Victoria said...

Thank you for the reminder to take things one step at a time...I needed that today! I think I will go look for a print of the tiny mouse...I have seen it and I think that I need that sort of reminder in my life...lovely!

the shawl is coming out gorgeous and when its done the love and care you have put into it will spill over to your sister and her baby when they are wrapped in it...also another lovely thought to think about...thank you for that as well...

ted said...

And the lovely thing about working the edging onto the borders (when you get to it)? You do that in chunks. Every repeat of the edging uses up a few stitches, and the border gets eaten up by the edging, in chunks. You stop counting the number of stitches in those l-o-n-g rounds, and count the number of repeats of the edging you've completed.

I don't count stitches in those l-o-n-g rounds, unless I have to: I count off the pattern repeats as I work the round."Okay, here's the marker for the beginning of the round. There's a repeat finished, and now there's another repeat...oh look! I'm at the corner..." And very soon you can say "Here I am back at the beginning of the round again, and now here's a repeat worked..."

Very satisfying.

David said...

Nibble nibble little mouse
Who is nibbling on my house?

I will be expecting details about Ogonquit in my email before the end of the week.

Lynn said...

If I send you my email address, will you tell me the wild Ogunquit story? I promise not to tell your mom. Or your sister.

But if it would help with the Overbearing Employer, I'll tell them for you.

Lucia said...

There's a nice parallel between you and your sister here: all of the challenges of the next 18+ years, or rows, as the case may be, very scary to contemplate all at once. One step or one stitch at a time, we can do this.

I will now tell you something you already know: the shawl is stunning.

sonja poor said...

Franklin, your shawl is looking so lovely that I keep checking all the time just hoping for another picture. It's going to be absolutely beautiful; the very definition of heirloom and with so much love knitted in for your sister and the baby.

Susan said...

Oh, yeah -- like your mother isn't currently imagining fifty mutually-exclusive horror stories....

Sarah said...

That shawl is just dreamy. What a lucky niecephew! I hope you'll tell her/him about mice and daikon one day, it's a charming metaphor.

Flavaknits said...

That shawl looks like one Jean (Miles) would be proud of! And Susan is right btw . Saw a BBC programme on the Edwardian writer/journalist "Saki(Hector Munroe) and thought of you!

Barb B. said...

We had a saying, which I also read in a book..."you can eat a bear if you do it one bite at a time"...of course that's a whole other visual..hehehe.
Love the shawl, it's going to be gorgeous. And Ted is right, count the repeats, waaay less daunting.
Barb b.

marie in florida said...

you've got me wanting to make white lace.
i change little things on my alter altar; but Quan Yin is always there.
so; your talk with the job about whose life is it anywy...how'd that go?

Linda said...

It is looking very big and beautiful and you can do it!

Carson said...

Nice analogy.

lizbon said...

Mighty mouse! I hear you on the mom-reading-blog thing. My mom recently told me she'd seen pics of my new sweater on my blog, and my heart went Klunk! realizing what else she must've seen there. Yikes...

Love Barb B's contribution about eating a bear one bite at a time.

Kristen said...

I may have to make that mousie my mascot. Thanks for the story. I have faith in your ability to finish it!

Cindy G said...

The shawl is going to breathtakingly beautiful, and all the love even beautifuller.

FiberQat said...

May you not be played around with until you're half dead like the mouse Mel's cat found in his house. Hope your work situation is resolving well for you.

Very nice work. I'm looking forward to seeing your shawl when it's blocked.

MonicaPDX said...

Ohmy... That shawl lifts the heart.

And LOL re the story! Don't worry, I'm sure everything we're imagining now will outdo anything you could tell us. ;)

janet in dublin said...

Enjoyed reading the blog per usual. Mention of Ogunquit makes me homesick.

Lee Ann said...

I grew up not far from Ogunquit. Everyone I know from home has a wild Ogunquit story :-)

Me included.

Not telling :-)

Courage, mon petit gar...

KnitNana said...

Excellent!

(and each stitch - as well as the whole - is gorgeous!)
(((hugs)))

Carrie said...

What a wonderful visual, with the mouse! I'm going to keep it in my mind as I get through my days, running, running, running... The shawl is looking amazing! Good, impressive, massive work, one stitch at a time. Excellent.

Tammany said...

Ah, Ogunquit. The San Fransisco of Maine. Must be a good story!
The shawl is beautiful! I am sure its recipient will be just as gorgeous. It will be more than worth it in the end!

Richard, Washington, DC said...

Just a technical comment on the edge stitches of the center panel.
Picking up 1 stitch for 2 rows works on sock heels because of the stretch and the small area involved. Technically it is an incorrect ratio.
Picking up one stitch for 2 rows works in garter, but not in stockinette based fabrics which is usually 2 stitches for 3 rows. Slipping the edge stitch would not give you enough stitches to pick up in this case.
ANYWAY, knitting is so forgiving that it doesn't matter too much as long as you get the number close to what it needs to be. Then, of course, there is always the number of stitches needed for the pattern repeat that must be considered (most important of all, actually).
On another note, you should plan, if you can, to go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival which took place this past weekend.
It is the biggest sheep festival in the world and a must see for all fiber enthusiasts.
First full weekend in May every year. Next year May 3-4.
Cheers

5elementknitr said...

mom schmom. You can't do that! You have to tell the story! At least email it to me! craftycat28 AT hotmail DOT com

dhi said...

(I'll bet Dolores knows the real story...)

Seanna Lea said...

Just a chance word and here I am missing Maine all over again.

I usually don't think too hard about how big a project is. I just wait for someone to tell me, shouldn't you work on something smaller, easier, etc. and then I am off like a banshee and it is done.

doulicia said...

The shawl seems like the perfect Zen project, really.

That said, I don't envy you one whit.

Sneaksleep said...

I love love love the mouse and daikon image--and the idea of taking big projects one small bit at a time. Which reminds me, I have about 6 big projects I ought to be taking at least a small bite out of right now instead of reading blogs...

Liz said...

The shawl is so beautiful Franklin, your sister will love it. What a special treasure. One stitch at a time!

Maura said...

You might find it interesting to learn that in Japanese:
Mouse = Nezumi
Rat = Nezumi
Gray = Nezumi iro (iro= color)
Same word. You should have seen me trying to explain the difference.

Lisa said...

Franklin:

As a big sister and as the only active knitter in the family, I know that your sister will love the shawl. Your love of the craft and of your sister shows through. I can't wait to see the FO.

As for the mouse....I couldn't agree more.

"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be." - Socrates

Ina said...

In Buddhist folklore, the mouse or rat (the nomenclature is, er, fuzzy) was first to recognize that the Buddha had achieved enlightenment, which is one reason it's accorded first place in the zodiac and is special in iconography.

Good luck with your nibbling, mousie, and all good thoughts to your sister.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I'm somebody else's mother. I find it fascinating what family members do and don't try to keep from one another. My imagination, based on the mouse, daikon, 50,000 stitches and my OWN experiences in Olgonquit is probably crazier that even what you and/or Dolores could come up with. Courage!

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