Monday Musings

Zen and the art of crafting

I flagrantly paraphrased the title of a wonderful book.  But I love the title of this post, and think I may unpack this over several posts.  (holla back to my yarn wall!!)
Today was a Monday.  Let me tell you, it was MONDAY.  It started off literally with me having to send an “All the best” email.  For those of you who don’t work with me, that’s how I say “FU” in a professional email.  Everyone I know in any sort of customer service gig has a phrase like that, like “Have a nice weekend”, or “Enjoy your day”.  How are we to deal with these days? Well, I craft.
“Zen is the “spirit of the valley,” not the mountaintop.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
…And so it is with me.  Crafting has been there for me in my valleys.  My very first yoga instructor explained how yoga/meditation can create some space around ourselves.  A mental moat, if you will.  That moat gives you space to respond to, rather than react to people and situations.  Many articles have been written about the difference between the two, and how important that difference is.  Reacting is sending the email that says “had you read the previous email, jerkwad…”  Responding is “all the best”.  Actually, responding is probably “I’m sorry you feel that way”.  “All the best” lives somewhere in the middle.  This is a journey, Dear Reader, I’m not there yet.
Even before I understood what meditation was about, I think I was meditating while crafting.  As I form a stitch, or spin a length, or any of the myriad tasks I complete on my way to my finished project, it is almost as if I enter an altered state.  While I engage one part of my brain to do my craft, another part is processing complex thoughts and feelings.  More articles talk about what meditation can be.  I have taken from my research* that anything done mindfully can be a form of meditation.
I find it difficult to do traditional meditation.  I know I’m supposed to let the thoughts pass through, but I seem to pick at them.  When all I’m tasked with is paying attention to my breathing, I get bored.  It’s not good to admit.  But, Dear Reader, if I don’t admit to the two (ha!) shortcomings I have, you’ll never think I can relate to you.  When I am crafting, though, I don’t seem to need to to pick at the thoughts.  They can come and go.  I can pay attention to them, or not.  That little bit of attention to what my hands are doing is all it takes for me to enter into the appropriate head space.
Not every project is a good Zen candidate, though.  You need something that you can “zone out” doing.  That thing depends on your familiarity with the craft in question.  It also depends on what you need out of the project. Something that is technical for you may not give the “Zen” experience. In fact, there have been many times in my crafting where I’ve needed to meditate to deal with what I’m trying to craft!  Crafting to solve my crafting problems! It’s crazy!!!!  (We’ll talk later about what those more complicated projects can do for you mentally)
Granted, crafts don’t start out as being calming or soothing.  I remember directly after teaching DeAnna to knit, her telling me I was crazy for thinking she’d ever find knitting relaxing.  Well, no, not while you are learning.  But it wasn’t even a couple of months later that she related a story about being irritated with her 70 kids (there are actually *only* five), and one of them brought her her knitting bag because he thought she needed the stress release.  She has many stories of using knitting as a stress relief (which is what meditation is supposed to do, right?).  The point is not to take up crafting in the hopes that you will suddenly find Nirvana.  Unless you hid “Nevermind” in the bottom of your craft basket.
If, however, you have already taken up a craft, see if maybe you can use it as meditation.  Is there something repetitive that you do in this craft that needs you to pay just a little attention? I, personally, have many projects going at the same time.  Each has a purpose, and one purpose could be meditation.  Even if you don’t have an entire project for this purpose, you may find that within a project, there is a step you dread because it’s mind numbingly boring.  Instead of looking at it as boring, does it help to use it to see if you can turn it into meditation? (I’m looking at you miles and miles of stockinette stitch in the body of a sweater–and don’t think I don’t see you quilt binding that needs to be hand stitched…)
Crafting has the added benefit of being “useful”.  It gives us an “excuse”.  While we can discuss the reasons why it’s BS that we need excuses, the fact remains that excuses make things easier.  You don’t have to explain you don’t want to talk to anyone today because you sent five “all the best” emails.  You are crafting.  You don’t have to react to your family member’s questionable political view, because look, that stitch just dropped. Hunh, where did that go?  And those days you just can’t even? For literally no reason other than it’s Thursday? Well, you’re being productive.  And you didn’t have time to shower because you had this project you needed to finish.  It’s not depression (unless it is, and if it is, get help for that shit, you are neither Superman, nor Wonder Woman)
That’s not to say that those who are close to you won’t know.  But just as it’s easier for you not to have that argument, it’s easier for them as well to not have that argument.  You don’t have to explain you need to decompress.  You don’t have to explain that yes, you are just sitting there doing nothing, but that in itself is doing something.  You are making Things.  And if secretly, you are building a moat so that you don’t scoop out their eyeballs with a spoon to feed to feral dogs, well, we can let that be our secret (that was oddly specific–unless you live in my head–in which case, it was just specific).
The featured photo is a gift for Barb.  It was Zen crafting at its finest!!  I spun the yarn, and was able to be soothed by that.  And then, the pattern was simple enough and repetitive enough that I was able to be soothed by the making of the scarf as well!
*there are no sources cited.  This is a blog, not a dissertation.  Use Google, like I had to!
Friday Fails and Fixes

In which she drops the f bomb (once)

OK,  I said yesterday I’m expanding, and so I am (that’s not a fat joke).  I *wanted* Friday to be Friday Fuck-ups.  But, I was reminded I’m supposed to be PG-13.  Apparently, you can only have one f-bomb in the movie to keep it PG-13.  I hope to be doing more Friday posts, so….I had to rethink.  Thinking in the first place can be rough.  Re-thinking…torture ;).

I wanted it to be in that same vein, though.  And here’s why: we see on social media (blogs included) the best facet of people’s lives.  When we meet someone in person, we meet their Facebook persona.  Life is *not* like that though.  As an example, I have an affinity for crafts, and naturally catch on. So, in classes, I soar ahead of the other students.  HOWEVER, I still have epic fails. They don’t see that in classes, and may think it always comes easy… which it doesn’t.

Comparing ourselves to the online versions of people is an awful thing to do to yourself.  I have had it described to me as comparing our rough draft lives to someone’s final draft.  “Oh look, she has this perfect family, her husband bought her flowers.” Meanwhile, I’m over here giving mine the silent treatment and he doesn’t even notice it’s been three days since I spoke to him.  What she’s not saying is that he bought her flowers because he was out all night, and came home smelling of booze and cheap perfume.

Dear Reader, I hope by now you’ve grocked to the fact that my stories about crafting are VERY thinly veiled stories about life.  They are all true, mind you, but the lessons have more to do with life than the actual craft. For example, I’m not going to be telling you about the time my husband farted in my face on my 30th birthday because he thought it would be hilarious. That would be rude and uncalled for…kind of like farting in someone’s face ON THEIR BIRTHDAY.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the above shawl, and you can infer what you want from that.

This summer, my LYS had an event wherein each month, you made something that fulfilled the requirements they put forth at the beginning of the month.  August’s project needed to have a pattern who’s name included Sun, or Solar, or Eclipse (I think).  So, I bought yarn, and a pattern.  This is a big deal for me.  I rarely buy yarn anymore *cough* yarn wall *cough*.  Same with patterns–there’s so much out there for free!  And I almost never buy both for a project.  Even more shocking, I ended up purchasing (on accident) the yarn called for.

I set about knitting this thing.  And I hated almost every moment of it.  The lace pattern was not intuitive at all, the pattern was confusing.  I had been spoiled by shawl patterns by Sivia Harding*. I really liked the yarn and color-way, but was slogging through the shawl.  Fellow crafters were in love with the shawl.  Pam even bought the pattern and some yarn to do one herself (over my strong objections).  I just couldn’t have the same enthusiasm…until I finished.  Huzzah! I was done!!!!

Sivia had finally convinced me of the joys of blocking (we will get there someday, Dear Reader), so I went to block this shawl….and that’s what I saw….A giant freaking hole (already dropped an f-bomb in the post can’t do another.  Believe me, in real life, this was a hard R moment).

I was about ready to cry.  The only thing that saved me from tears was my absurdist sense of humor.  Of course the shawl I hated would be a fail.  Of course I spent a solid month working on something there was no salvaging.  While I’ve taken classes and become fairly adept at fixing lacework…this lace has no repeat.  It’s a mess to do it in the first place, much less to figure out what dropped where.

No.  the only fix was to take a picture to share my shame with my crafting friends, and rip the sucker out.  The pattern has been shredded, and the yarn, as you can see is back on the yarn wall where it can think about what it did.

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Yarn in its naughty spot

So that’s the fail.  In this case, the fix is to delete, delete, delete.  In life, we don’t always have that option.  He can’t unfart in my face, and is that really a break-up-able offense if you aren’t Elaine?  I know, I had to think hard about it too…  Unlike life, crafting ALWAYS has that option.

When I first taught DeAnna to knit, we were knitting squares for Warm up America.  She went off to knit, and came back with…something. It wasn’t square, or even a rhombus, we don’t know what it was.  She was almost in tears, she was so frustrated.  She had no idea what she did wrong (neither did I frankly, to this day I don’t know).  I told her not to worry, we’d fix it.  I pulled out the needles, and undid the whole thing.

Just like life, my crafting advice can be a bit…dubious.  I mean, a better teacher would probably have figured out what she did, and actually fixed it, instead of just tearing it out and having her do it over again.  But, I know DeAnna.  What she needed that day was a do-over.  Some days are like that…even in Australia.

So, if you have need of dubious advice, let me know! I’m more than happy to oblige!

*no sponsorship, I just love her classes and designs!

 

 

This Must Be Thursday

Snowday

In telling you about the life of the hat, I briefly mentioned our snow day, which turned into weekend. This is a thing I had started when my nieces and nephews were young.  I don’t know why I decided to do it, but it was probably some hippy anti-consumerism idea I had.  Instead of buying them junk, I would get them a disposable camera each, and we would go to the mountains and sled on some random by-road.

A couple of things I really appreciated about this is that I got to spend time with all these people, and create memories… and we have a lot of those. It also made the whole Christmas timing thing a lot easier.  With how families have grown, there is often a lot of stress about getting to all the Christmas functions without hurting feelings.  Snow day has to be in winter because…snow.  But otherwise, it can be whenever (unlike Christmas).  We’ve added to it, of course. Mo started coming when he came back from the Marines.  When my mom and Jane moved to central Oregon, it became a time we could meet up.  When Poopie and I got together, he and Things 1 and 2 came as well.

As everyone gets older, traditions are more difficult to maintain. Since Things 1 and 2 are adults and, therefore, no longer required to join me, they opt out.  My nieces and nephews have jobs, and significant others, and lives of their own.  This year had started out much larger, but one by one, people bowed out.  So, this year’s snow day was just me, Poopie, Mo, and O.  I think the snow day tradition may be dead, but that is how life goes.  You need to let go of things that no longer work for you, and it may be that snow day doesn’t work for them anymore.

We had fun anyway, though, and extended snow day to a whole weekend with a cabin! We were able to get to the snow Saturday morning about the time we are usually leaving the valley. Had Mo and Poopie not decided to hike around the lake, we probably would have gone out again.  I took several projects to work on.  The knit hat being one.  We also played board games.  O introduced me to a new tablet game, which I’ve already finished (as well as the three sequels).

You would be so proud of me, Dear Reader, I took pictures….many of which, my camera ate…but I salvaged a few. I’m not going to re-post the hat, but below is the montage of crafting.  20180120_084945-1.jpgYou can see the several pairs of socks I had packed for keeping toasty.  Those socks were done on my CSM.  I’ll blog about the joys of CSM knitting at a later date.   There are also some gloves my dear friend Life After Work made for me last year (I don’t’ recall if it was birthday, or Christmas, she’ll remind me, I’m sure).20180120_163701.jpg

Here we have another project I am working on. I can’t show much yet, because it is a gift long in the making.  While I’m pretty certain the recipient doesn’t read this, I don’t wish to let the cat out of the bag. As you can see, I don’t limit myself to yarn work.  While it IS my main medium, it’s not my only medium.  I believe this project will be the first blog of what will become WIP Wednesday.  I’ll be adding more days to the blog.  More on that later.

Back to the hat and changes. You can’t tell on this hat, because of Fun Fur, but that cast on is called a tubular cast on.  When I first started knitting hats, I did the long tail cast on, because that was what I knew.  Then I learned the German twisted cast on, which gave much more stretch, so I used that.  I then learned how to do a twisted cast on in knit and purl, so I was able to maintain purls all the way down.  In fact, the hat Poopie is wearing in the featured photo has that cast on.  And now, I do the tubular cast on.  Which is my favorite so far, it has the same tension as the rest of the knitting, and is most like a cohesive fabric to me.  So, we change and grow in crafting as well as in life.

Speaking of growing, I’m working on expanding my empire! Buahahahahahaha   I think I mentioned initially I have no idea what I’m doing.  So, I’m following a writing mantra/belief/saying? One of those words is the right word.  As I understand it, the saying goes “better published than perfect”.  So, I started blogging without having all the support pieces necessarily in place.  I am taking you on my journey of discovery.  You can be total hipsters about this blog when I become disgustingly famous.  You can keep me humble by reminding me of all the missteps I’ve made.

To that end, I’m going to still only promise one post a week, but I will have different focuses (foci?) for different days. Thursday will be my gallimaufry day.  I’m working on a PodPledge Project Page.  (I think Chaz made that a tongue twister on purpose).  It is also up, but also in process.  I’ll be putting the knitted traveling hat up for sale on the merch page, and adding new stuff as I go along.  I’ve got a Facebook page as well that I have yet to do anything with.  I will also be taking a social media class at Madrona next month.  So, yeah, I am expanding, and working.  On top of normal every day crap.  I have no idea why I do this to myself.  Sooo many changes coming up.  This is exciting right?

Monday Musings · Uncategorized

The life of a Hat

I craft in public. Lately, it’s been knitting…so this story is another knitting story.  I promise I do other crafts, it’s just knitting is uber portable for me.

Often, I’ve been told by strangers some variation of “I don’t have the patience to knit”.  My response is always the same…I don’t have the patience NOT to knit.

I DO NOT have patience.  I can’t stand waiting.  My time is valuable, dammit!!  However, since beginning crafting, and taking my crafting with me, I’ve been much more chill about having to wait in lines, or waiting rooms.  I just make sure I have something portable with me.  Take this hat, for example.

The life of the hat often begins on the yarn walls.  I’m going to re-use some photos from before to show you.  20180108_083103Here you see where it all begins…the Yarn Wall.  In the corner, is the Fun Fur.  If you look really closely at the photo of the Yarn Wall in the previous post, you will see the yarn in the very lower left hand corner.

The body of the hat actually was in the music room, but was hidden underneath a failed weaving project. See, underneath that cloth is the yarn I used.

20180113_142814 I know I can do hats pretty much anywhere, so I had decided to make a new hat be my new carry along project.  I wanted to try something different.  And I was inspired not only by my yarn wall, but also by talking about my yarn wall.  I wondered if maybe I could use the Fun Fur to make the hat look like it had a fur trim??

20180111_203205.jpgI tried a couple times to cast on.  Oh, yeah, this is why I don’t care for Fun Fur.  It’s not really all that fun to work with. So here I am at a bored board meeting.  I’m being unnecessarily snarky.  Strangers may think I craft because I’m not paying attention.  The opposite is true.  I actually am better able to focus when crafting.  I will discuss that in another post.  This is actually the second attempt at casting on.  I didn’t like the look and feel of the first time.  20180112_212808.jpg

Here I am knitting in a bar.  Poopie and I were at a friend’s birthday party last weekend.  Those ladies in the background were not part of the group.  Hat knitting is wonderful for bars.  It is small, and I can knit the hat in the dark.  Thank all that is holy, because the stupid Fun Fur makes it impossible to see your stitches anyway.

20180113_212025.jpgAnd here it is the next night at a concert at local venue. I have, apparently, a reputation for knitting at concerts.  There will often be chairs set aside for me at house shows so I can sit in my corner and knit while listening to live music.

I actually took several more pictures over the week, but my phone ate them before I uploaded them to WordPress…so, my lesson for this post is…save your pictures right away.  This hat came with me to stand in line outside of the Old Church in Portland  for a general admission show on Tuesday.  It also came with me to a City Committee meeting on Thursday.  My knitting is also commented upon (I’ll assume positively) as I perform my civic duties. 20180120_111958.jpg

Remember folks, you need to be involved.  If you don’t like how things are going, get involved and change them.  If you like how things are going, get involved to keep them going that way.

OK, off my soapbox, and back to my hat.  The final trip the hat made with me was to the mountains for a snow weekend.

Here we see me close to getting it off my needles.  You will see that while on a snow weekend in a cabin, and playing a tabletop game, I am finding time for knitting.

Turns out, the hat ended up very much as I had hoped.  The Faux Fur look worked out, and it adds a stylish touch to an otherwise “boring” beanie.  I’m not at all certain it was worth it,  but I had the yarn, and was able to experiment.  I, personally, wouldn’t buy Fun Fur, even for this, but since I had it, I’m glad I found a use for it.

While I have mentioned lessons and have jumped on my soapbox, the true lesson of this hat and post is that you can find time for crafting.  I’ll be talking a lot about how crafting benefits me, and what I get out of it (besides the things I make).  But, this is how I do it.  Just one stitch at a time.  Wherever and whenever I can, I make just one stitch.  And then, the next time, I make another stitch.  Each stitch is so tiny, it seems inconsequential, but put them all together, and you have a nice, warm, hat.

 

 

 

Monday Musings

Yarn Wall

I’ve shared with you, Dear Reader, the beginning steps of my crafting journey. Being a journey, there are many steps along the way.  There are also supplies needed.  While I do not limit myself to yarn.  I have a passing acquaintance with yarn *snigger*

Speaking of yarn, do you see the header? That’s a slice of my original yarn wall. The above photo is a larger view of the wall.   I don’t honestly remember where I stole the idea from, but when Thing 1 moved out, I got my craft room back.  WooHoo!! I took large pieces of pegboard, had O spray paint them, and hung them on the wall.  While the local big box hardware stores had the pegs in stock, the costs were pretty high for something I wasn’t going to see anyway.  I was able to find them much more cost effectively online.  Since I am a six year old at heart, I am all about the instant gratification.  I did buy a package locally to get started and tide me over.  But, since I’m disgustingly responsible, most of the pegs were computer generated.  I opened up bins, and spent a weekend putting yarn on my wall.  It’s adorable–Poopie tells people I have 10% of my yarn up on that wall.  Sure, 10%, that’s a number.

However, my craft room was overrun by *dun dun duuuuuuuun* guitars.   And pedals.  Lots and lots of pedals.

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LOTS AND LOTS OF PEDALS

While I may have been pulling yarn out of secret stashes, Poopie was pulling out guitars…dafuq?  And my craft room was less *my* room, and back to not my room.  But, Poopie loved how the yarn wall made the acoustics in that room work for playing and recording. So when Thing 2 moved out, and he moved all his crap out of *my* crap craft room, he said I could have a yarn wall in there, as well.  He even hung it himself. So now, I have two yarn walls!! I think Poopie may still be telling people it’s 10% of my yarn.  I’m still letting him.

 

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Acoustically useful yarn wall.

What my yarn wall has done has been to give new life to my yarn. Before, it was in tubs.  I really didn’t know what I had. Plus, I’m basically lazy, and trying to find something, even if I know I have it, just sounds like a lot of work when all I want to do is craft!!!  Now, the yarn is up on the wall, visible.  So, it’s pretty before I’ve even turned into something.  Even yarn I will never use, that I bought “on sale”, or was given to me is pretty.  I also have less of a tendency to only know about 5 of my 6 balls of yarn, so I can better plan my projects.  I have been doing a much better job of using what I already have, and choosing projects to match my yarn rather than the other way around.  Which means I have been purchasing a lot less yarn.  And yarn that no longer speaks to me gets to find new homes which will be better at loving it.

Granted, I still buy sock yarn every time it goes on sale, but that’s for another blog.  “Staples” yarn (cotton, sock, and baby yarn) live in the music room since I don’t generally get to go in there to get inspiration.  Other yarns live in my craft room, where I can make plans for it. (insert diabolical laughter here)

Notice what you don’t see up on these walls? My Red Heart.  I haven’t taken my Red Heart out to breath.  It’s still languishing away in obscurity.

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neglected Red Heart

Yes, you do see a motorcycle wheel to the left.  My Red Heart is still in the garage.  I used to have tubs of yarn I got from an estate sale on my back porch in addition to what lives in the garage (and other secret locations).  The porch yarn moved to the craft room wall when I got the music room yarn wall.  But not my poor Red Heart.  The porch yarn was pretty obviously not where it should be, and the tubs were getting brittle because of the elements, so that took precedence. 

I want to be clear, I’m not ashamed of my Red Heart.  I just know that it is sturdy and can handle being in it’s vacuum sealed bag (see, I am protecting it).  The other stuff, though, it needed to be unpacked.  I needed to go through it and see what I could use, and what I no longer had a use for. I *know* my Red Heart.

All in all, I am very happy I’ve unpacked my yarn.  Don’t tell Poopie, but there is still a lot left to unpack.

So, the lesson of the yarn wall is to unpack your shit.  You don’t know what you’ve got if you don’t examine it.  Find out what you’ve been overlooking.  Find out what no longer works for you.  And remember, just because it’s not for you, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t love it. Unpacking your shit can be painful and time consuming, but it is worth it.  And don’t beat yourself up if you can only take it in small doses.

This Must Be Thursday

I never could get the hang of Thursdays

I love alliteration.  Notice Monday Musings? My “plan” (stop laughing, Dear Reader, you probably don’t know me well enough yet to know what a joke that is) is to post once a week.  But, I must strike while the iron is hot!  And my iron is apparently hot. So…Thursday…what goes with Thursday? I was thinking Thoughtful Thursday (to go with “Musings”)…but, then I remembered my friend wrote a comic in high school called “Thoughtful Man”…I’m already copying one friend (lifeafterwork.site) by doing a blog, I’m not stealing another friend’s thing.  Before I go on, let me back up and repeat myself…

HE. WROTE. A. COMIC. IN. HIGH. SCHOOL.

Remember how I said I surround myself with creative people?  I wasn’t exaggerating.  Also, don’t play Pictionary with him.  A: his drawing skillz will make you want to smack him, and B: he gets unreasonably irate when you can guess cemetery from a nine year old’s scribbles, but his highly detailed masterpiece gets him a blank stare.

Thoughtful Thursday isn’t really working for me. Then, I thought maybe Thankful Thursday. Life has kicked me in the proverbial balls lately. Who am I kidding? that’s kind of how my life goes on the regular. But even so, there are lots of things I have to be grateful for, even if I can’t see them in the moment.

I probably won’t stick with Thankful Thursday,  but I will tell a story that fits into that theme. And likely any other theme I decide to go with for Thursday.

Last post, I shared how I learned to crochet. People who know me now may be surprised my crafting journey started with crochet.  I am, after all, more well known for my knitting.  So, this post, I’ll share the start of my knitting journey.

It starts with Concha. She tried not once, but twice, to teach me how to knit. It was awful. First, there was the language barrier. She barely spoke English, and my Spanish was….painful at best. Then, there was the fact that regardless of the love we had for each other, we do NOT work well together. I was also like 13, so…pure spite incarnate. I was probably 15 when we tried again. Communication was easier, and I had probably graduated from being Chaotic Evil to Lawful Evil…but teenagers really are the worst. I remember being so frustrated because the yarn kept slipping off.  I was also quite sure there was some trick she just wasn’t telling me.

For those keeping score…yes, we were still working with Red Heart. It was blue, and I believe it was going to be a sweater for Chiqui.

Fast forward to my early twenties. I’m working in a call center. A friend’s wife just started working there. Maria is Spanish, from Spain (how cool is that???). I was crocheting a green and pink Afghan which I remember clearly, but have forgotten who I gave it to… She was knitting, but I don’t remember what because I had only graduated to Chaotic Neutral at that point,  and was very centrally focused–on me. We were talking about our relative crafts, and I mentioned my previous attempts at learning (being taught) knitting.  It just wasn’t for me.

Oh no!  Maria was sure she could teach me.  We worked in a call center, so we had spare time between calls.  She started me off with a baby blanket.  So I got some needles and baby yarn…care to guess what brand????  This time I learned to knit.  Still in Spanish.  My first blanket had a ribbed edge, and eyelets on the diagonal.  Nope, still no pictures.  And I don’t remember who that went to.  While Concha was knitting Continental (throwing), Maria was knitting English (throwing).  I can do both now, but the throwing worked better for me to learn.

The above is not the original blanket.  My knitting journey has been a loooooooooooong one.  When you had to pay for film and processing, you didn’t take random pictures of random things.  At least I didn’t.  This is, however, the same brand and colorway of yarn.  So, it’s something, right?

Shortly after, my Aunt Beth was having a baby, and wanted a layette. I know how to knit, so she asked me to knit one.  I mean, by that time, I had knit like three or four baby blankets–I was practically an expert.  So, I went to the craft store, found a booklet, some more baby yarn, and set about starting to knit a baby sweater. !@#$%^&* (cue needle scratch on record)

Have you ever read a pattern???? They are full of nonsense!  I mean, what the heck is a knit stitch? and a purl stitch?  Remember how I said I learned to knit in Spanish? She never said “this is a knit stitch” she said “do this”. And even if she named the stitches, it’s not like that would have been the same in English as in Spanish.  She might as well have named them Laverne and Shirley.

Keep in mind, this was the late 90’s.  The internet was barely a thing.  I didn’t have access to it. And there certainly weren’t any YouTubes yet.  What I had available to learn by were weird drawings (not done by my above-mentioned friend) in the booklet.  So, there I sat, with the booklet in my lap, stabbing at yarn (swearing), and then going “wait! I know how to do this!” and then doing it again with the next stitch.  Finally, I made my first thing. As far as I know, that sweater was never worn.  But, my aunt was thrilled with it.  I never let her see what the thing was supposed to look like.  That’s a secret to my success.  Liberal use of design features.  Some may say “never let them see you sweat”.  I don’t. I want them to know I worked hard!  I say “never let them see the pattern”.  That way, they’ll have no choice to believe that the left sleeve was intended to be longer than the right sleeve.  It’s a design feature!

So, I’m thankful Concha tried to teach me to knit (twice).  And I shared with her before she died that I still knit, and am grateful for all that she did.

I’m thankful that Maria didn’t believe me when I told her it wasn’t my thing.  I have since shared with Maria how much that has meant to me as well as let her know that her knitting has been passed on to multiple people.  I use her “technique”, but in English, to teach.  I’ll tell you about my first pupil at a later date.

I am also thankful that my Aunt Beth didn’t have any doubt I could do the impossible. She usually doesn’t, even now.

I’m sure there is a lesson here, probably something about perseverance.  There might also be something in there about striving for more than you think you can achieve.  What do I know, I’ve only gotten to be as good as Lawful Neutral, and that only on good days, I’m probably still mostly Chaotic Neutral.

Interestingly enough, I am wearing that shirt as we speak…and I didn’t plan it.

 

Monday Musings

And so it begins…

OK…I’m starting my first blog post.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  When have I ever let that stop me? OK…often.  I’m human.  But, I’ve been inspired.

There have been a lot of little and not so little things that have prompted me to make this (for me) giant leap.  I miss writing.  I used to write short stories, poems, and who knows what else.  However, one of the “drawbacks” with being surrounded by incredibly talented people is that I end up comparing myself to them, and find myself coming up short.  So, I let it slip by the wayside.  Now, I *could* journal.  But I am so weird about that, I get to thinking that I must do it daily, or I must do it a certain way, or…. Yeah, like I said, weird.  Somehow, I never got into letter writing.  Plus, many of these posts would be super weird to be received as a letter.  I can imagine Margot’s phone call now.  She would be all worried that I’d suffered a stroke, or something.  That’s not actually true.  She would be super happy to receive even the most rambling of correspondence.

Some good friends have a project starting, and they asked for some help.  But, for reasons unimportant to this endeavor, I need to have a blog, or a podcast.  Since I sound weird recorded, and DO NOT need the TV 10 lbs (not to mention my technical skills, time, and capacity for terror are not sufficient), I am blogging.  I was already kind of kicking around the idea of a blog, but wasn’t really sure if I’d have anything to say.  It probably would have stayed just an idea except I was asked for help.  I’m still working on saying no to people.  I’m getting better.  According to the people I’ve said no to, I’m too good.  I still think I have some ways to go on that, though.

I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll start at the beginning.  At nine, I learned to crochet from my Aunt Char.  My first project was a potholder.  It’s a super simple pattern, and great for beginners.  However, my tension was all over the place.  I’m not sure where you, Dear Reader, are in the crafting spectrum, so if I over-explain, I apologize.  Tension is how tight or loose you work the yarn.  Uneven tension creates uneven fabric. In my case, the potholder was not the flat, double-layer fabric it was intended to be.  Rather, it laid flat on one side, and the other side had a mound…like a bubble rising from inside.  My dad made fun of it. I cried.  My mom said (not for the first, nor last time)  “Don’t worry, honey.  We’ll take it to Grandma Bonnie.”

The next time we went to visit my grandma, we took my deformed, red variegated Red Heart monstrosity to her.  I reluctantly passed over the potholder, and she was so excited. She told me how the bubble actually made the potholder fit better in her hand.  Even at nine, I knew she was lying to me to make me feel better.  It was hideous, and should be burned–except it was Red Heart, it would just melt.  Except….

Except, she kept that stupid potholder until literally the day she died.  And she used that potholder.  She didn’t keep it to pacify her distraught granddaughter, she kept it to use it.  And use it she did.  When she died, that thing was frankly gross…and not from my handiwork.  It was like the Velveteen Rabbit.  Nothing had worn off of it–did I mention it was Red Heart? and not the cool stuff we have now.  The nasty stuff from 30 years ago.  It was stained and melted, and just really unusable for anything.  My grandma wasn’t lying to me.  She wasn’t trying to make the best of a bad situation.  She just really thought it was cool that the potholder conformed to her hand.

I’d love to say I learned from that something profound, like “even in flaws, perfection can be found”.  I was nine.  I learned nothing.  But, clearly, the experience stayed with me.  And I built upon it.  Just like anything else.

I know this post doesn’t have pictures.  I’m learning as I go, and I wanted to get a post out so I could see how it works.  Also, I have no pictures of the potholder.  Who takes pictures of potholders? Remember, when I was nine, digital cameras were not even thought of.  And if my dad laughed at the potholder, he would have been furious over wasting film and processing on it.  Even by the time grandma passed, digital photography was just beginning.  We ended up throwing out the potholder.  I’ll try to do better on future posts.

Huh, WordPress says this is over 700 words already.  See, I do have lots to say!  Not sure how much is interesting to you, Dear Reader, but this felt cathartic to me.