Saturday, March 04, 2006

Family tree

In the process of starting this blog, I played around with some different names and headers. I figure I'll continue to do so until I build up some more posts and features to get a sense of what the blog will actually feel like. What I started out with and what I have right now reflect some facets of myself, of course -- anyone who's been around me knows that I have a fondness for, uh, tangents -- while also serving as shoutouts to various members of my family.

Originally I picked "You Can't Go Wrong With Navy Blue." It bit the dust due to my chosen templates being green :P My maternal grandma was the great knitter in my family, the one who taught me when I was eight (before I knit a one-inch scarf and abandoned it for eighteen years). However, she was also the paragon of all other domestic skills and etiquette. "You can't go wrong with navy blue" became a mantra for all situations, sometimes completed with "...and a nice strand of pearls and some pumps." (The number two spot would probably go to her admonition to my mother before her high school choir trip, during which she would stay in someone's home: "Don't use more than two inches of bathwater.") When I started knitting, I didn't have a very good memory of my grandma's projects, aside from the pile of baby blankets she always had next to her chair. She'd died about a year and a half before I started, and she hadn't knit for a while due to Alzheimer's. I remember seeing the pieces of a very old and very intricate traditional aran on a table at her funeral and asking if I could have them. My aunts and uncles told me no; they treated the knitting as if it were art. At this point in my knitting career, I certainly don't have her speed or her innate knowledge, but I've done a fair amount of cabling and know I'm capable of just about anything if I follow a pattern. Still, it'll take me years to work up that level of finesse, but I'm really excited to have that connection.

The "but anyways" part does reflect my typical manner of speaking. You've probably noticed that already, between the parentheses and the ellipses. I do tend to use the phrase "but anyways" fairly often. However, this phrase also has family significance. I'd say it runs through my great-uncle Verne, Grandma's brother.

Verne's a fairly well-known sculptor. I suppose that working with giant sheets of metal and an oxyacetylene torch isn't exactly akin to knitting, but I've always felt more of a kinship with 3D forms than most others. Verne and I share the habit of telling stories, though I wish mine were half as interesting.

But anyways... but anyways, he says that you can tell what branch of the Shaffer family we're from because of the Split. Somewhere between Princeton, IL and New Wilmington, PA there's an imaginary line clearly delineating the usage of this phrase. To the west, it's "but anyways" and to the east it's "but anyhow." I can't say it their way, and they probably can't say it mine. Go figure.

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