Knit 1, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1…

I’m the kind of person who has a billion hobbies and is always searching for more. I go through phases, or cycles of them. I’ll find something interesting and engaging, throw myself into it wholeheartedly and see where it takes me. I have a lot of creative energy, it makes me feel happy and fulfilled to craft or create. That feeling of accomplishment when you’ve produced something is a rush like no other. It makes me feel interesting and special, crafty and crazy. But most importantly, it’s an outlet. For all the thoughts, feelings, dreams, and internal strangeness that cannot be expressed any other way. If you’re a fellow zany, creative, crafter type, you’ll know what I mean.

A couple of autumns ago, I fell in love with ponchos. It was one of those days where you think it’s going to be warmer than it is, but the season is taking that sharp turn from refreshing crispness in the air to face numbing harshness. D and I planned to be out, walking around the city for a bit. I thought I’d be fine, but I wasn’t. We jumped in a shop and I started looking for an extra layer of warmth so we could carry on with our day. I found this gorgeous navy blue poncho with a cozy cowled neckline and lovely red accent stripes that appealed perfectly to my sense of style. For forty bucks, it was a steal. It started me wanting to buy and wear only ponchos and big chunky sweaters all the time. Shopping is great, but sometimes you find things that you would almost buy, but then not. Because something isn’t quite right enough to merit a purchase. If only something could be done or changed to make it more you.

I started thinking about how awesome it would be if I could just knit my own ponchos and sweaters. That idea simmered in the back of my brain for a while, I was still consumed with wedding plans and other things. It would have to wait, I’d circle back later. And life went on.

Flash forward a couple of years, the weather starting to dip into colder territory again, I was digging into the depths of the closet to pull out all of my ponchos and sweaters for another cozy autumn. I was starting to feel restless with current creative endeavours. It was time to pivot, try something new. That thought of knitting my own things started to heat up again, bubbling and eventually boiling over. I wanted desperately to start knitting, I could think of nothing else. I needed to try it, see if it was something I could do.

I thought I could just waltz into the craft store, grab a knitting magazine and some yarn then get started. I’m no virgin crafter, I’ve seen some shit in my time, man. Trust me, some crazy shit. I got this.

Wrong. I was wrong, all wrong, I take it back. Totally, utterly wrong on all the levels. There is so much to know about knitting! It’s overwhelming actually. And I’m very tactile. Seeing, seeing, and seeing again, then repeating is what I need to process and understand how to do something that’s totally new to me. I need help and feedback, lots of it. So I did some googling and I found this wonderful little shop in the west end that offered classes. I registered right away and I was so excited. So very excited. I’m going to learn something new, I’m going to knit!

I could think of nothing else the day of my first class. I couldn’t wait to finish work and dash off, yarn and needles in tow. I was the first one to arrive, helplessly early, twenty-five minutes early. That’s too early! But that’s who I am, eager and enthusiastic. The instructor was very warm and welcoming. She sat me at a table in the back of the shop and took the skein of yarn I’d purchased a few days earlier. She placed it on this amazing contraption she called a “swift”. Round and round the swift turned, I was mesmerized. It transformed that skein of yarn into a fat little ball that she then called a “cake”. So many new terms!

Other classmates started arriving, mirroring back at me the same mingled expression of trepidation and excitement. There were seven of us total, all women, all knitting n00bs. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. I loved that, I didn’t know there’d be this great social element.

It was hard at first. Trying to hold the needles in a way that felt right, they were so foreign to me. We started with casting on. The only place you can start. And it was tricky, but I got it figured out. Then we talked about muscle memory and the knit stitch. Everything felt so floppy and uncertain. I felt floppy and uncertain! I didn’t know what to do after I had knit my first row, what was next? The girl beside me told me to just do it again. Move the needle back to my dominant hand and do that same thing again. Mind. Blown. So this is knitting! Huh.

I got home and showed D the few little rows I had knit, I was so proud of myself.

first knit rows

D was excited for me. He loved how happy I was. But I struggled with the yarn I chose. It was too fine for my beginner’s hands. I took it off the needles and “frogged” it, another fun new term meaning that I destroyed all progress and went back to start. I bought larger needles and bulkier yarn. I started again.

bulkier!

That felt better. I could see the stitches more easily and make corrections when I messed up. I started to feel really good about it as the yarn grew longer. I loved feeling the yarn, watching it expand row after row. And I knew this wasn’t just another hobby, it was a lifelong passion.

I had three more classes, one a week. We learned how to purl, how to read patterns, weaving in our ends, planning projects, and so much more. We learned how to make hats using “DPNs” or double-pointed needles. We were knitting “in the round”, “tinking”, and “ktogging” with confidence! It was wonderful.

I’ve been very productive since that class, knitting up a storm. I love the way it makes me feel. It’s so rhythmic and relaxing. I feel inspired by so many things, the possibilities from here are endless.

My first attempt knitting in the round…

in the round

Wearing the first scarf I ever finished…

my first scarf

Crazy leg warmers!

leg warmers!

The infinity scarf I knit for my lovely friend the Magpie for Christmas. She loves it so much and that makes me so happy!

peattie's scarf

The first hat I ever knit, successfully. I gave it to my uncle who is so very proud and impressed with my work. And he’s worn it everyday since I gave it to him, even though it’s purple. He’s so rad.

wienie's cap

A teeny tiny little scarf I knit with leftover yarn for Harv, haha. (He actually hates it so much.)

Harv's scarf

And the project I’m most proud of so far, the seed stitch scarf I made for myself, with that very first ball of yarn I bought. This is a real accomplishment. I had almost written that ball of yarn off altogether because it was so tough at first. But after some practice with the bulkier yarns, my skills started getting better, and I felt brave enough to try it again. Progress was slower, but I had the patience for it now.

my fave scarf

I love this scarf so much. The texture is divine, I’m obsessed with seed stitch. I made this, me. I can’t stop marvelling at the fact that I knew nothing about knitting three months ago, and now I’ve made so many things. Damn, that feels good.

I love knitting, it is the greatest. It makes me feel so purposeful and inspired. And although I’m nowhere near ready to start knitting my own ponchos, I’m headed in that direction and I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m enjoying the journey, I don’t need to rush it. I have a dream that is simmering for now. One day in the near future, when it’s time, that dream will start to bubble and boil over too.

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New Project!

Hey dudes, I’m very excited to announce that I have started a new project. This is something that I’ve been working on for a little while now, and I’m ready to launch.

The Kingdom

So head on over to The Kingdom to check it out.

Basically, I’m just working my way through the entire Stephen King library, reading and reviewing it all. And hey, maybe we’ll even watch a couple of the movies and T.V. shows too. My hope is that this project will accomplish two things:

1) I’ll have a shitload of fun

and

2) I’ll actually start using my brain cells again instead of drowning them in booze

So if you decide to come along for the journey, you’re super awesome and I dig your style, man.

Outside the Lines

I have an artistic streak. It’s not a wide one by any means, but it’s there. Not to brag or anything, but I took art classes all through high school. Passed ’em and everything. And I was known to colour a real mean book back in the day. My friend The Magpie gave me some grief about this a few weeks ago. Said it wasn’t really believable that I could be artistic. I took umbrage to that. Then I proved her wrong by designing a killer logo for her blog, which you can see here on her site. Yep, that badass little magpie is my creation!

The artistic muscle just doesn’t get flexed as much as it used to, which is a shame because I shouldn’t be letting it get all rusty and shitty like the rest of my muscles. I did a watercolour of Jodi Foster for an assignment in high school, which this girl in my class later called “seductive” during the class critique. I could do that again, probably. All I need are the supplies and an idea!

But I might also be getting ahead of myself. Baby steps. You don’t just get up and run a marathon after years of outstanding achievements in laziness have atrophied your body. You have to wheeze your way up the stairs instead of taking the elevator for a few weeks. Then do some calf raises when you’re forced to stand on the subway on your way to work. Then take your first tentative jog around the block in the blackness of night because glaring bright sunlight and the gazes of a hundred hateful pedestrians aren’t very kind to your chubby cantaloupe legs.

Stick with it long enough though, and even the shittiest muscles will tighten up nicely. Isn’t that how the old saying goes? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s an old runners saying.

That’s what I’m hoping will happen for me. I’ll take a few baby steps, do some paint-by-numbering, and before you know it I’ll be right back to seducing the mysterious and sexually ambivalent girls of my art classes prior with my astonishing works of genius. But just, like, a friendly seduction. I don’t want to turn my whole life upside-down.

Sometime late last year, The Magpie was telling me about this cool paint-by-numbers kit she got with really awesome designs. A cat wearing a fancy coat carrying a fish purse, an old hippie man getting on a cable car in San Francisco. Cool stuff like that. I remembered how much fun I used to have doing paint-by-numbers as a kid and promptly rushed out to get some myself. I got a miniature one with some badass dinosaurs on it that I thought was going to be a real piece of cake. A couple of strokes in and I realized that this was going to take a lot of patience. Which is something I don’t possess in abundance. Also, it was looking hella shitty right out of the gate, so I just kind of gave up on it.

A couple of weeks later, I had to go to the craft store in my hood because I needed supplies for our awesome Halloween costumes. I strode purposefully down the aisle with the paint-by-numbers, just to see what was up. It was there that I found something even better than paint-by-numbers. Something even more lazy and indulgent. Pencil-crayon-by-numbers!

And it just so happened that it was another miniature scene with badass dinosaurs. Fuck yeah, this is my lucky day!

mini dino craft

Excited, I shelled out a whooping $2.99 and raced home to get started on my colouring adventure. When I got home though, I realized what bullshit those teeny tiny pencil crayons they supply you with are. Holy shit, they’re smaller and skinnier than my pinkie finger. And look at how small the fucking thing is compared to a real pencil crayon! I almost want my money back. Almost.

small pencil

small pencil 2

small pencil 3

And don’t even try to tell me that the pencils crayons are so small because I’m doing an activity for children. It clearly states on the packaging that this activity is suitable for anyone ages 8 to 88. They could have at least given out pencil crayons halfway between normal and Oompa Loompa sized ones. Oh well, just another of many great “you-get-what-you-paid-for” moments in my life. But I ploughed ahead with them anyway, despite the functionally impossible size.

ages 8 to 88

The road map to completion that they give you is even crazier. Holy shit, this is an intricate design for such a small-scale craft! And some of the tinier crevices don’t even have the recommended colour guides written on them. How am I supposed to know which colours to mash together in that tenth of a space?

crazy road map

road map

I started off dutifully enough, trying to follow the directions as precisely as possible. And it was coming along nicely too. I’m not going to seduce anyone with this piece, but I’m cool with that. At least I’ve accomplished more here than I did with the paint-by-number version.

About halfway done, and for some inexplicable reason, this little project of mine got stowed away in a desk drawer. Promptly forgotten about for a while, gathering drawer dust. It was starting to look like these dinosaurs were headed the way of extinction just like the paint-by-numbers ancestors that came before them.

But then all of a sudden, one night when D was out, I got this urge to finish what I’d started. I dug the dinosaurs out of the desk drawer and got to colouring. This time was different though. This time I was going to do it my way, guidelines and suggested colours be damned! No matter how hard I tried, I knew it wasn’t going to look anything like the picture on the package. So fuck it, I’m taking over creative control of this bitch!

The artistic streak had awoken from its slumber at long last. I coloured with abandon, and let myself get lost in the process. Before I knew it, D was home and I had a masterfully coloured dinosaur scene to show for my time spent alone.

finished

final product

Needless to say, he was quite taken by my work. I hadn’t intended for it to be so emotionally overpowering, but I’ve since learned that you just can’t stop the bubbling over of intense emotion that results from viewing this spectacularly coloured dinosaur scene. It makes me want to high-kick something. Hiii yaaaa!

I forgot how good it feels to create something. It doesn’t even have to be anything good. Just create something, anything at all, and you will feel good about yourself. You can look scrutiny right in its shrivelled old face and say “frig you, man!”

Indulge your creativity! Let your imagination soar! Live your passions!

Colour some fantastically rad miniature dinosaurs and display them proudly on the wall beside your desk at work for all to see! Because you refuse to be labelled incapable of anything that you know you’re truly capable of. You’re capable and your can-do attitude will never fail you if you trust in it.

But you’ll probably do a few more of these pencil crayon dealies before you move on to conquering the current art scene, just to be safe.