But what Dakota most enjoyed about the beginning of winter was the crispness of the air (that practically demanded the wearing of knits) and the way that tough New Yorkers - on the street, in elevators, in subways - were suddenly willing to risk a smile. To make a connection with a stranger. To finally see one another after strenuously avoiding eye contact all year.
Your average knitter, obsessed as we are with the art form, is quickly going to begin producing far more in the way of warm things than are needed by even an arctic-bound knitter. Knitting breeds generosity, true...but perhaps in a hurry to avoid burying ourselves in hand-knits. There are only so many scarves one knitter can use.
Compassion does not only refine and civilize human nature, but has something in it more pleasing and agreeable, than what can be met with in such an indolent happiness, such an indifference to mankind, as that in which the stoics placed their wisdom. As love is the most delightful passion, pity is nothing else but love softened by a degree of sorrow: In short, it is a kind of pleasing anguish, anguish as well as generous sympathy, that knits mankind together, and blends them in the same common lot.
To every class we have a school assign'd,Rules for all ranks, and food for every mind:Yet one there is, that small regard to ruleOr study pays, and still is deem'd a school;That, where a deaf, poor, patient widow sits,And awes some thirty infants as she knits;Infants of humble, busy wives, who paySome trifling price for freedom through the day.At this good matron's hut the children meet,Who thus becomes the mother of the street.
But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition- and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation- and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity- the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.
Heart's blood and bitter pain belong to love, And tales of problems no one can remove; Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine - And if you lack the heart's rich blood take mine. Love thrives on inextinguishable pain, Which tears the soul, then knits the threads again. A mote of love exceeds all bounds; it gives The vital essence to whatever lives. But where love thrives, there pain is always found; Angels alone escape this weary round - They love without that savage agony Which is reserved for vexed humanity.
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Fairy tales are about trouble, about getting into and out of it, and trouble seems to be a necessary stage on the route to becoming. All the magic and glass mountains and pearls the size of houses and princesses beautiful as the day and talking birds and part-time serpents are distractions from the core of most of the stories, the struggle to survive against adversaries, to find your place in the world, and to come into your own. Fairy tales are almost always the stories of the powerless, of youngest sons, abandoned children, orphans, of humans transformed into birds and beasts or otherwise enchanted away from their own lives and selves. Even princesses are chattels to be disowned by fathers, punished by step-mothers, or claimed by princes, though they often assert themselves in between and are rarely as passive as the cartoon versions. Fairy tales are children's stories not in wh they were made for but in their focus on the early stages of life, when others have power over you and you have power over no one. In them, power is rarely the right tool for survival anyway. Rather the powerless thrive on alliances, often in the form of reciprocated acts of kindness - from beehives that were not raided, birds that were not killed but set free or fed, old women who were saluted with respect. Kindness sewn among the meek is harvested in crisis... In Hans Christian Andersen's retelling of the old Nordic tale that begins with a stepmother, "The Wild Swans, " the banished sister can only disenchant her eleven brothers - who are swans all day look but turn human at night - by gathering stinging nettles barehanded from churchyard graves, making them into flax, spinning them and knitting eleven long-sleeved shirts while remaining silent the whole time. If she speaks, they'll remain birds forever. In her silence, she cannot protest the crimes she accused of and nearly burned as a witch. Hauled off to a pyre as she knits the last of the shirts, she is rescued by the swans, who fly in at the last moment. As they swoop down, she throws the nettle shirts over them so that they turn into men again, all but the youngest brother, whose shirt is missing a sleeve so that he's left with one arm and one wing, eternally a swan-man. Why shirts made of graveyard nettles by bleeding fingers and silence should disenchant men turned into birds by their step-mother is a question the story doesn't need to answer. It just needs to give us compelling images of exile, loneliness, affection, and metamorphosis - and of a heroine who nearly dies of being unable to tell her own story.