Thursday, April 16, 2009

Speed traps

A guy wrote a letter to the local newspaper complaining about a speed trap near an elementary school. Three things wrong with his protest: the speed limit is the same it has always been, it doesn't change for the entire length of the road, and if you aren't speeding, no problem. Fact is, speeders have been a chronic irritant in front of Austin Elementary School; not too long ago, in Lithonia, a mom on a cell phone struck and killed a child in a crosswalk WITH A CROSSING GUARD IN THE MIDDLE. So I really can't empathize with Mr. "Don't Give Me A Ticket Just Because I'm Speeding In Front Of A School."

Speed is an inherent part of the American culture. We want to get to school, career, wealth, kids, retirement faster and earlier. Slow and steady are for plodders. The early bird gets the worm. Problem is, with everyone trying to get there faster, no one wins. I like what a fellow blogger (Hi, Pattie) said about driving the speed limit on North Peachtree Road (another speeders' delight). As more cars fell behind her, she found herself leading a longer line of otherwise-speeding drivers - happily, since she was doing her "small part" to slow everyone down.

I do it. I've been late to an appointment, en route to the emergency room, rushing from carpool line to music lesson and pushed it just a bit too much. But I've been consciously working on planning ahead and driving steadily. You'd think that would cause more stress. The contrary is true. I'm feeling much more relaxed and in control. Amazing.

Of course, since I'm a knitter, I also think about speed knitting. There are people who knit lightning-fast (I'm not one of them), their hands and fingers a blur of dexterity and focus. They often perform this feat without looking at their work.

Part of the pleasure of knitting is the process, the leisurely art of working with cashmere and silk, wool and cotton and sharing it with kindred spirits. So is there a place for speed in this craft?

I asked one of these speed-divas, "do you make a lot of mistakes doing that?" Nope. The knitting was wonderfully consistent in gauge, with nary a dropped stitch in sight. So I watched her technique and realized that the whole tossing versus throwing yarn was at the root of her fast Knits Per Minute. (Want to see what it looked like? Check out the "World's Fastest Knitter"

The continental knitting technique has definitely increased my speed, though I'm having to adjust some tension and gauge issues (much looser). It has also improved tension in my hands and reduced finger cramping. So while I really don't care about increasing knitting speed dramatically, it is nice to have an alternate method to give my muscles a rest.

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