Generosity and Numbers

This weeks’ numbers are all about generosity. Not only have I been generous to myself with my WW points (woops!) but I have also been given many things this week that have made me think about gifts and the role that kindness plays in material sustenance.

For instance Liz turned up at Sticks’n’String this week with a food parcel for me! I was very touched by this gesture but also concerned that perhaps I had been whingeing a little bit *too* much about my circumstances in last weeks’ numerical roundup. I must stress that I am viewing being broke and bigger than I want to be as amazing opportunities to get better at budgeting and eating sensibly as I feel my skills are very wanting in both of these regards. I welcome the creative challenge of counting more carefully and trying to live with/on less, and I am hopeful that it may improve my mathematical powers to apply a numerical understanding to food and money. I am blogging about my explorations in this area because I am certain I cannot be the only person who struggles with numbers, and I have been enjoying other blog projects which look at different economics – like the economics of craft at PYF’s woollen mill last week, or Cargo Cult Craft’s investigation of ‘wartime ration fare’ allegedly on sale in the Imperial War Museum or Colleen’s posts on thrifty food. I remember enjoying the practicality and thoughtfulness with which Katie noted the price of producing her Framed Baby Blanket when she blogged about that, and being struck a few years ago by the rich complexity and difficulty in Ani Di Franco’s open letter to Ms. Magazine concerning her monetary sense vs her view of herself as an Artist. In summary, I think our personal economics are fascinating, culturally loaded, difficult territories absolutely worth exploring from all angles, and I do not mind the squeeze I am in at the moment because 1. I know it’s only temporary and 2. it is proving to be a valuable learning experience.

But for all that, it has been very nice indeed to munch my way through measured portions of dried fruit, deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes, M&S roasted vegetable couscous, topical apples and all the other tasty noms that were contained in Liz’s generous food parcel and I very much appreciated it, so thank you. I have also been massively helped out by Mark, who – in exchange for my lending him my car while he had his serviced – *filled* my tank with costly petrol and has thus ensured that should I need to get anywhere at all this week, I can. Both of these things were quite humbling experiences for me and in terms of counting, reminded me how generous people are and of the part that gifts, exchange and kindness play in my domestic economics.

Gifts have also been involved in my recently completed unspun icelandic shawl, the yarn having been given to me by Kate in response to my extreme love for all things super-sheepy. The pattern was also free to me, being the Winter 2009 Knitty’s Bitterroot, and I was given a lot of helpful (free) advice from my fellow knitters in knitting it, notably Judith’s amazing yardage calculator spreadsheet (which truly is a feat of mathematical talents!) and advice from Ravellers ThereseS and Manisha, who shared their insights into knitting unspun Icelandic yarn without breaking it.

Unspun Icelandic Shawl.

This all reminds me that the craft world is full of informal exchange and amazing generosity; for instance check out the beautiful skirt that Zoe made from cleared-out-bits of other peoples’ stash this month or consider the exchange values at work in a destash/yarn-swap. I have been thinking to myself this week that the time that members of the Guild of Oxford Weavers, Dyers & Spinners are willing to give to novices learning to spin lumpen, questioning yarns, is amazingly generous…

Another ball of learning wool.

I therefore present Wednesday and Thursday’s numbers and knitting with the caveat that they are only a partial representation of my personal economy, and that there are many things which sustain me that cannot be counted in numerical terms. In short, I am lucky and people are very generous to me.

Wednesday’s Numbers:

WW points consumed: 28
£s spent: £2.30 on very necessary coffee, 49p on a Crunchie and £4.95 on rail travel from Reading to Oxford

Menu: White chocolate flavoured ready brek and hot chocolate for breakfast, (massive chocolate cravings were afoot!) M&S Couscous, apple and Cadbury’s Crunchie for lunch, LOTS of lentil lasagne (so much tastier than it sounds…) for supper, and dried fruit & nuts for snacks.

Thursday’s Numbers:

WW points consumed: 26.5
£s spent: 0

Menu: Fruit & Nut porridge plus loads of milk for breakfast, 2 helpings of the delicious lentil lasagne, 1 hot cross bun, 1/2 an apple and dried fruit for lunch; pickles, tomatoes and an apple for supper.

Knitting numbers:

Patterns worked on this week: 2 – Bitterroot and wazz’s woollen winter walking outfit #1.

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