#LoveYourBlog – Week 4

A Playful Day

So, we’ve made it to Week 4 of A Playful Day’s love your blog challenge.  And, I’m happy to report she went easy on us this week – the topic is Gratitude.  I’m sure I could write a million posts on the topic and I can’t wait to see what everyone else is writing about – should be fun!

The first thing I thought about was an article that talked about how writing down at least one thing you are grateful for each day does wonders for one’s mental health so I did that for a year.  It is an interesting exercise.  I’ve been lucky enough to travel to El Salvador on two occasions and each time I’ve come home more grateful than ever.  I would think about that trip when, at the end of a long day, I would struggle to come up with one thing I was grateful for.  The people I’ve met in El Salvador are so happy, and so grateful and have so much less than anyone I know here in the States.  The mere fact that I was lucky enough to be born in a 1st world country should make me grateful everyday.

These thoughts led me to think how grateful I am to be in a position to enjoy knitting as a hobby.  There are two separate ideas to look at closer.  First, let’s face it – knitting is not an overly affordable hobby.  I mean, there are ways to make it more affordable but good yarn is expensive, there are always needles to buy and books, patterns, etc.  I’ve warned my parents that if something happens to me they need to call my knitting peeps to deal with the room of yarn and needles in my house because there’s some serious investments back there.  Oh, but all the yarn is so pretty and shiny and cuddly…  I honestly do not know if I would be as interesting in knitting if my shopping was limited to box store yarns.  I’m so drawn in by the texture and feel of the yarn and all the beautiful colors.  You miss all of that if you are limited in yarn choices.

Second, I enjoy knitting as a HOBBY.  No one is forcing me to knit for pennies a day in a sweatshop in Asia or Central America somewhere.  I’m doing it because I like it and most of what I make, no one actually needs.  Again, hand knit socks are lovely but definitely not a necessity in life.

Not only, do I have the time and resources to enjoy actual knitting as a hobby, I also have the time and means to partake in love your blog weeks.  This means I have a reliable internet connection and an education which allows me to write with some level of competence (a fact that never ceases to amaze my Mother, who paid for said education including 12 years at Catholic school…)  These are all things for which to be grateful.

All of this got me thinking more and more about my gratitude log so I managed to find it.  The year was 2013 and it was super interesting to read back.  There were 30 (I realize this should be out of 365 but there were about 3 weeks in July when I was in Europe that I did not keep up – heck I was grateful everyday for being in Europe for 3 weeks so we’ll say 344) entries that related to knitting – either finishing a project, hanging with my knitting peeps or just having a day to knit.  That was pretty high up as being one of the most repeated entries.  Reading it today I realize I did not have much variety in posts.  I believe, second to knitting was working at home and also just a generic “great day” (really, because 2 years later I have no idea what happened that day but I’m certainly glad it was great). Clearly, not my most creative endeavor.  But, some of the entries really did bring back some good memories so I got it right some days.  In my defense, I would do it right before I went to bed and some night you’re just more tired than other nights.

At the end of this challenge (and post) I would like to express my gratitude to Kate at A Playful Day for organizing this.  I’ve been happy to connect with her and with the other blogs I’ve discovered during the month.  And, gratitude for whoever is reading this.  When Kate first posted the challenge several commenters were asking if blogging was dead and wondering if anyone is out there reading.  I’ve had some traffic with these posts so thank you for reading!

#LoveYourBlog Week 3 challenge – Ugly

Wow, this was a tough one and I’ve been playing around with it in my head for awhile since I read A Playful’s Day weekly post. And here’s where my head went with it – there’s nothing ugly about knitting, I find there is beauty even in less than perfect knitting.  So, the question became how to incorporate a challenge about ugly into a blog about knitting.

Here’s the thing – so often now our world and the events in it are very ugly.  I was reading Twitter posts by the singer Pink last night where she was calling out the trolls who were making comments about her weight.  Anytime you read comments on public stories you see the ugliest side of humanity.  It becomes overwhelming.  Knitting brings beauty to my world and helps erase the ugliness I observe on a daily basis.  Yarn is beautiful in so many ways – the color, the feel, and sometimes even the smell of new yarn makes me so happy.  And, then you have your needles and while we all have our “work” needles, we also all have needles we have splurged on which are beautiful.  To think, we take that yarn and those needles and make something out of it is so awesome.  While I’m knitting I can forget about what I had to deal with during my day job, I can forget about what I saw on the evening news, I can just forget about the ugly and be submerged into a world of beauty.

Our world needs a whole lot more beauty in it and if I contribute, even on some minuscule level, then I’ve accomplished something.

Beginnings

This week’s prompt in the LoveYourBlog challenge is: beginnings.  When I read it I thought beginnings of what???  Ah, that’s the point – it was a long (and lovely) Easter weekend and I’m a bit sleep deprived after spending is with my best friend and her four children.  And, then I thought it was ironic that I had just got back from said holiday weekend because two of the four children I was with were the impetus for me learning to knit.  So, it looks like this post is about how I began knitting.

My best friend and I have been friends since high school which is more years ago then we care to remember these days.  We could not have chosen more different life paths if we tried.  She is a stay-at-home mom of 4 and I’m a single career girl who has nothing that depends on me for food or water (because I can’t guarantee either of those will be available on a regular basis) but somehow we’ve managed to stay friend across the years, miles and life paths.  12 years ago she called me one afternoon and I had very exciting news to share – I had bought a new mattress!!  She also had news – she was expecting twins!  Lost that one…  She had a son who was almost two and we found out that the twins were two girls and before they even arrived she asked me to be Abby’s godmother.  At that point, for reasons unclear to me, I felt this weird need to knit for the girls.  I had never picked up a needle and my mother did not knit.  My grandma and aunt crocheted and had attempted to teach me but that was a failure.

As luck would have it a yarn store was opening across the street from my apartment so I signed up for Knitting 101.  It was a struggle – I’m a classic type A so just going with it was not really working for me.  I needed to know exactly how it was working and why it was not falling apart and boy, oh boy was I a tight knitter.  I wrapped those stitches around the needle as if their life depended upon it.  My instructor was fairly certain I would never really become a knitter for obvious reasons.  This was 2003 and pre-Ravelry so I got a Stitch N Bitch book and took classes to learning new things.  I do remember my instructor telling us that we should take a picture of everything we knit and start an album and write down what type of yarn it is and who we gave it to so we could remember (a little ahead of her time with that idea!).

I think my first project for the girls were Santa hats.  It was a class being offered through the yarn store.  Anything circular I feel is a tough first project and those first hats were awful – they had gaping holes where I was not holding gauge around the needles and where stitches dropped off.  I did a search for pictures and found none but I did find these two.  The first one is of my very first scarf and the second one is of the girls in their second set of Santa hats that they got when they outgrew the first set (sorry for the blurred faces but they’re not my kids so I like to respect privacy)

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Happily the second set came out much better and if you could see their faces you would know they loved them (those cute girls will be 12 in July, I still can’t believe it)!  I have this picture hanging up in my house.

When I was still a relatively new knitter (I had been knitting about a year) I hosted a baby shower for a friend.  I took a bootie class at the yarn store and carefully made a pair of booties for my friend.  She opened them and loved them and I was so pleased with myself.  And then, about 3 gifts later she opened the gift from her mother.  I had not met her mother before as she lived in Alaska so I did not know her mom was a lifelong, very talented knitter.  When my friend held up the matching baptism gown and blanket in a feather and fan pattern – all I could think is hide those hideous booties!!!  But, her mom was so kind and said very nice things about them and mailed me the feather and fan pattern when she got home.  I still have not tackled that – it’s a lot of counting for me!

These are some of stories I remember best about my knitting beginnings and boy did writing this bring back some memories.  I can’t wait to see what other beginnings everyone else explores!

#LoveYourBlog – April’s Challenge

For April I decided to participate in A Playful Day’s #LoveYourBlog challenge.  (You can read more about it here).  Each week she is posting a prompt to write about and then we can check out what others had to say about the same topic.  I love these events and this seemed like a perfect way to gear up for Knit & Crochet Blog Week next month.  Part of the reason I love it is because of community, which happens to be the first prompt.

Playful Day announced the challenge and I read it and thought about it.  She then started sharing posts on Twitter.  I read one written by Heather at Nearlythere and everything she said made total sense to me.  (You can read her post here).  And, after reading her post decided I needed to take a closer look at the challenge and jump in.

Until I started going to Thursday night knitting night I had no idea there was an entire knitting community out there.  My real reason for going was to make sure I had 2 hours a week to knit – I figured it would help me actually get projects done in a more reasonable amount of time (lo, did I know it would only cause me to become a hopeless ADD knitter with UFOs scattered around my home…).  I found I did not spend enough time at home knitting, I have no idea what I was doing with my time because now I knit all the time at home but either way that decision propelled me into the knitting community.

I could say so much about my in person, local knitting community.  I talk about them all the time in this blog and they are an amazing bunch of women (and the occasional guy) that inspire and encourage me every day but I feel this challenge is more suited to talk about the virtual community and the interactions from the people I will probably never meet.

As with most knitters, I think my first introduction to the online community was through Ravelry.  I’ve always used it to track my projects.  When I learned to knit in 2003 the woman who taught me told the class that we should photograph each of our projects and keep an album and write down all the details – little did she know what technology would do for us in a few short years!  I’ve been trying to become more involved on Ravelry this year.  I participated in a KAL (Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow 2) and followed along on the chat boards.  I also joined the Fluffy Fibers podcast group and have been participating in the chat boards.  We just finished an awesome tea swap and she is currently running a gentlealong – a project that will make your life more gentle, which is something I think we can all use.  I’ve “met” some great knitters from England through the swap and, of course, Isabelle a/k/a Fluffy Fibers in France.

My first introduction to blogging was when I planned a 3 weeks trip to Australia back in 2008.  (For more on my blog history you can read this post)  At about the time I decided to also blog about knitting I found Knit and Crochet Blog Week which gave me a springboard.  That first year I “met” knitrun4sanity and have enjoyed interacting with her now for a couple of years.  Since then I have been slowly expanding my online community.  I find the internet slightly terrifying with all the awful trolls out there but it seems the more you dive in the more you get out of it.

There were comments on the challenge post asking if anyone was still reading blogs.  I am!!  I also have some very loyal readers so even if I feel like I’m typing to myself I find someone is reading.  I’m not sure how My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures or Funky Air Bear or Windy Wonderings found my blog but I know they are out there reading and I am reading their lovely posts.

Twitter and Instagram also offer some great opportunities to interact with the fiber world.  Both are a little like black holes – you start following one person and find other people and still more people.  Which leads me back to A Playful Day – I have no idea what Twitter post I read that led me to finding A Playful Day but here we are.  I feel jumping into a Twitter conversation with knitter is far less scary than commenting on a more general topic.  I also have to admit to being freaked out when I found out how “small” the knitting community is.  Once you are on Twitter and you see all your favorite designers and dyers chatting with each other your head kind of explodes.  But, most are also happy to chat with me or you which is so awesome!

Instagram is evil – you can follow yarn from sheep to finished product and I should not be allowed on there, all that wonderful hand-dyed yarn that is on display ALL the time!  Both give me another way and opportunity to interact with the knitting community.

Perfect example – the other night on Instagram Fiona & Amanda at Knitsocial posted a picture of a sock they were knitting out of Regia’s Fluormania Neon Beach and I had just finished a sock with the same yarn.  I used a spiral pattern that really tweeked the color changes so I was amazed to see how their sock was turning out using a straight sock pattern.  I commented on their post and was pleased to “chat” about our socks.  (And for the record, my picture of my finished sock is my most liked Instagram photo to date 🙂 )

I think those are most of my thoughts on community and interaction.  I look forward to the rest of this month’s prompts and to see who they will add to my community!

A Playful Day