There is a method of knitting called the Magic Loop that allows you to make two socks at the same time on one long circular needle. I decided that this weekend I would learn how to do this. I sat down with a 40″ long Addi Turbo size 2, some Tofutsi sock yarn from the sale bin, and a set of detailed instructions. The instructions were very good and I got my two socks going in no time. The trouble is, even though I did this and have these things in front of me, clearly socks in the formative stage, I have no idea how it works. As far as I can tell, it makes a sort of double infinity-sign Moebius strip and the bend in space and time is what causes the second sock to appear.

I just found another method for two-at-a-time socks, this time on double-pointed needles. Where the Magic Loop is a sort of Moebius strip, this method is more like a Klein bottle, where the inside and the outside are one in multiple dimensions. If I keep looking, I’ll probably find a method that involves making one sock and then skipping that sock off the event horizon of a nearby black hole such that it refracts back in time, and then you take the time-shifted sock, match it up with the original sock, and you have a pair that is actually the same sock at two different points in its existence. Knitters are just that resourceful.

We did Earth Hour the other night. I was initially opposed to the idea because it just seemed like such an empty gesture – the sort of thing people do who feel guilty about overusing resources but aren’t interested in actually imposing limits on themselves. Every hour is, or should be, Earth Hour. However, Mr. Nettle thought the idea was cool and I had no real reason not to do it. I was in favor of just flipping the breaker for an hour, but Mr. N. reasonably pointed out that then we’d have to run around and reset all the clocks afterwards, and that was too much of a bother for either of us. So, we shut off the lights and every bit of non-essential power (we left the fridge and the chest freezer on, as well as all the plugged-in clocks.) Mr. Nettle shut himself in his studio with some candles and a book. I tried to knit by candlelight, which was OK at first but my eyes strained too quickly. I’m on my literacy break right now, so reading wasn’t an option*. I decided to make soup.

Half a large onion

4 cloves of garlic

4 medium-sized potatoes

Some big handfuls of fresh spinach (all these veggies are from the CSA box)

Dried fennel (from last year’s garden)

About a cup of sherry (bought at the liquor store; made in New York)

Olive oil (from the supermarket; origin: Italy)

Chicken broth (homemade, originally from a Lancaster County PA chicken, I think – I make and freeze chicken broth whenever I make chicken, so it could be from any number of past chickens.) (Veggie broth or water could be easily substituted to make this a vegan soup, if that’s your thing.)

Cut the onion, garlic and potato up into chunks. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions and garlic until tender and delicious. Add the potatoes and fennel; stir around so the oil and fennel and such get well-mixed. Add chicken broth, sherry (drink a little of the sherry if you like that sort of thing, which I do), and a little salt. Cover and turn heat to low. Simmer until the hour is up, the lights come back on, and the potatoes are falling apart. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach, mix in and let it wilt. Use an immersion blender to puree it all (I felt slightly guilty about this last bit since most of the soup had been made by candlelight, and here I was using a plug-in appliance to finish it – now I want to find some sort of hand-cranked immersion blender that will do the same job. Lehman’s maybe.) Eat tasty soup.

Lacking the ability to do much of anything else while the soup was cooking, I sat down in front of my altar and meditated for a while. I found the whole thing to be very pleasant – chopping vegetables by candlelight feels restful and significant, somehow, in a way that normal vegetable-chopping does not. I proposed making lights-out a once-a-week event in our house. Mr. Nettle agreed, and quoted hexagram 60 from the I Ching:

“Limitations are troublesome, but they are effective. If we live economically in normal times, we are prepared for times of want. To be sparing saves us from humiliation. Limitations are also indispensable in the regulation of world conditions. In nature there are fixed limits for summer and winter, day and night, and these limits give the year its meaning. In the same way, economy, by setting fixed limits upon expenditures, acts to preserve property and prevent injury to the people.”

(actually, he just said, “Hm. Good idea. Hexagram 60?” and I knew what he was talking about, because we’re cool like that.)

* you may note that I am here blogging in spite of the literacy-break thing. After sitting with the concept for a while it became pretty clear what the spirit of the thing was, and what kinds of reading were and were not OK.Ā  Social chitchat and keeping up with friend’s blogs is OK, I decided. So I’ll still post some.