An earthquake changes things.

Thursday, March 10, 2011.

While happily hooking my way through a crocheted wrap called the
Woodland Shawl, using lovely skeins of Manos del Uruguay yarn in a color called Wildflowers, I realized something that strikes madness in the hearts of fiber crafters everywhere: the first skein and the second one did not match at ALL.

See for yourself.
Wildflowers all wrong
My 12-year-old stepdaughter saw the obvious difference even before I pointed it out to her. The first is brighter (or in that photo darker) and more colorful than the second. (Sigh.) I knew the remaining skeins wouldn’t match either, such being the nature of this particular yarn. There are no dyelots, so there’s no guarantee one skein will match the next.

I was
seriously bummed about the whole thing, having made good progress into this shawl, and really struggled with what to do. Keep going and not care about the color changes? I care -- the difference is too obvious. Crochet decorative chains of flowers to mask the changes between balls? No. Crochet with two skeins, alternating them from row to row? Too fussy, and no way to gracefully mask that operation on a two-sided project. ARGH.

The more I thought about it the more annoyed I became. By bedtime I had resigned myself to ripping the whole project and using the yarn for something else. I still obsessed about it and worried I wouldn’t sleep because of it. I know I’m not the first and only crafter to lose sleep over something like that! But I managed to calm my mind and fell asleep.

Friday, March 11, 2011.

After a decent night’s slumber (and no troubling dreams about yarn and crochet hooks), I awoke to news of the
earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Grim reports flowed out of the radio, telling of the 8.9 magnitude quake, of massive damage caused by the ensuing tsunami, and of the tsunami’s trajectory through the Pacific ocean toward American shores. Words like casualties, battered, chaos, destruction, wreckage, obliteration, splintered, catastrophic, smashed, washed away, collapsed, adrift, and buried described the aftermath. A quick peek at some internet news sites showed frightful images of flooded towns, huge boats dragged inland, cars teetering over gaping cracks in the roads, houses floating out to sea, and frightened Japanese in varying states of bewilderment, shock, despair and homelessness.

Saddened and humbled, I dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast, grateful that my family was safe and our house still standing solidly on its foundation. I looked out the living room window and noted appreciatively the dry streets, my neighbors’ houses all still strong and upright, children playing on the corner waiting for their school bus, their mothers chatting amicably. No earthquake or flooding here, no disaster, no wreckage. Thank goodness.

Our critters were unaffected by the news.

I'm awfully glad we live in an area of the country that, thus far, doesn’t see too many natural disasters. Sure we live near a significant seismic zone, but word on the street is we don’t really have to worry about any serious plate shifts for several hundred years. Occasionally microbursts and tornadoes blow through, but our particular midwestern neighborhood doesn’t get hit with much. On rare occasions two feet of snow fall overnight, but the snow melts, we all survive and life goes on.
Piper blizzard 2011
That Friday, and every day since then, I was extra thankful to be out of harm's way. I occasionally imagined for a moment my house leveled by an earthquake and -- goddess willing we survived -- that we were homeless. Perish the thought. But it feels important to put myself in those poor Japanese -- and Haitian, Indonesian, American and all those who have suffered through earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc. -- souls’ shoes even for a few minutes. Does my sympathy, and lame attempts at empathy, help them in any way? No. I think about them, and care very much. Does that help? And is it okay to be relieved it's not happening to us?

When I looked upon my project again, I felt nothing--no annoyance at the mismatched skeins, no struggling with how to remedy it, no uncertainty about ripping out the work I had done. The whole dilemma ... well, that’s just it--it wasn’t even a dilemma anymore. The magnitude of the tragedy in Japan had reduced the whole shawl thing to a speck of cosmic dust in an infinite universe, to a drop of blue in a sea of green, to almost nothingness. Like it never existed. Fffffft! gone. I calmly pulled at the yarn, decrocheting it row by row, wound it into balls, tucked the balls into my project bag. I’d figure out what to do with those skeins eventually.

I have nothing deep and philosophical to offer here, just that we all have our troubles, both very large and very small. All I’m saying is sometimes the sh*t that happens out there helps put things strongly into perspective.

The ripped shawl, by the way, is coming back as a sweater.
Pansy sweater