Boredom Rocks a Knitter with Bubble Gum…and Nitzer Ebb

I do so love working with self striping yarn. I guess that is why I love knitting socks so much. “Oh, look! A new color coming into the color. Yippee!” If you’re a knitter, you get a little nerdy like that. New patterns and new colors send you reeling with an excitement that is better than sex….

(The crowd went quiet…. No, those are not crickets chirping, those are cicadas).

Ok, too far. But, if you’re a knitter, you know what I mean. New colors, new patterns, new stitches all make you feel giddy and excitable. One of the true beauties of this craft. You never stop learning. And just when you think you’re a masterful, over gloated genius who knows everything there is to know, stitches remind you that you know nothing. Among the many virtues of the fiber arts? Hubris.

But, oh, if you are of the mindset as I am that there is always something new to learn, then your world brightens with colors and experiences that enrich and hinder all at the same time. And so goes life. Enrichment and hindrance. Learn, love, enjoy, fail, learn to love again…..

Sometimes boredom rocks a knitter. Beats him to wanting to do something strange like…..turning old trash bags into rugs, or old t-shirts into curtains. Monotony can kill a fiber artist. So, the reason I step back into crochet on a regular basis. I’ll crack a beer, throw on some beautiful tunes, grab that hook, gather a skein and whisper, “Let us learn something new….”

I had the BEST time playing with the “virus” stitch. (Wish ya’ll would come up with a new name for it, but hell. It is what it is). Great pattern. Lots of fun, lots of movement and indulgent swirling of the the size I-9’s.

So, I present to you my latest exploration. A bear and baby blanket done in virus stitch. Great GREAT colors working themselves up beautifully, allowing the artist to smile readily, handing the recipient a reminder of a truly wonderful time creating. Made with Bubble Gum and Tutti Frutti from Lionbrand, they really were an enjoyable few nights in quiet crafting…..well, while Nitzer Ebb blared in the background. If you’d like to have the set, click here.

If it does well, I’ll make a few more. But, hush! Hold tight! Be quick! For I’m sure I’ll be off to learn something new….

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KNIT the Experience

Movie Day sucked. We’ll start there. If you have followed us for a while you know that Phillip and I spend one day a week lazily on the couch, in our pajamas, snacking and binging movies or tv shows. Down time, desperately needed downtime. We don’t check emails, we don’t go onto social media, we don’t do anything but decompress. With my health better, my teeth better, I have been eating things I haven’t eaten in years. Popcorn, check mix…..PORK RINDS!!!!! Oh, man. SO lovely, so wonderful.

We haven’t had Movie Day in a while so I was adamant we have it yesterday. I got tons of supplies. M&M’s, Jelly Bellies, potato chips, popcorn, etc. Ready to set my ass down with my husband and either get fully deep into a film, or sit back and laugh and make fun of it. Here’s the run down: start with a British film called, “Ghost Stories,” head to “Stan Lee’s Lucky Man,” then binge the rest of the day on “Castle Rock.”

“Ghost Stories” took 20 minutes before we turned it off. Boring. “Stan Lee’s Lucky Man,” also took no time to disappoint. I think 10 minutes in I had already gotten up and started doing the dishes. What the???? You don’t do work on MOVIE DAY???? But, I was desperate to find something to do. “Castle Rock.” Can you see me rolling my eyes? No? Then imagine it….

Third episode in I just looked to Phillip tossing a jelly bean in his mouth. He peered back, as potato chip crumbs fell from my lips as I said, “I know why everything we’re watching sucks.”

“Oh yeah? Why?”

“They’re all afraid of offending someone…..”

Whatever story they were trying to tell was obliterated. The were just the sanitized movements of people who cling to an alleged virtue. There was nothing interesting to say, nothing fruitful to watch or experience, nor even talk about because it was all so sterile.

The media has gotten that way hasn’t it? Books, films, music, television….they’re all kinda wimpy. Nothing to challenge, nothing to cause the reader, the listener, the watcher to stop for a moment and go, “Let me think on that, let me just….FEEL that for a second.” Art isn’t edgy anymore. And I hesitated to use that term. It just sounds….superficial.

But, art no longer moves towards the boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn’t anymore. “TRUMP SUCKS” isn’t edgy, it’s assembly line, manufactured, readily available, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Nothing new, nothing that demands a reflection of the artist upon the viewer. Whenever I see someone being edgy in the media now by being political with their art, I can only respond, “Bah! Humdrum….” (and let’s make something clear reader: being political usually means being anti-Trump. Fine, have your fun, follow the crowd. I’m old school. I don’t follow…..as a matter of fact, I piss people off because I don’t follow….And I kinda get a rise out of it.)

As a matter of fact I piss people off because I test the limits often, go places knitters that blog wouldn’t dare. They can’t take the risk of tarnishing their reputations. I respect that. I admire that. I wish I was like that. But, I’m not wired that way. I’m wired like an artist. I tend to be controversial, opinionated, outspoken and brash. Because I want you to look at something, REALLY LOOK at something in a different way.

And I own it. You may hate where I come from in my opinions, you may hate what I say about the life of a knitter, you may hate what I say about the knitting community, because other people won’t. Some people hate me for it, some people find me heroic. You may hate Gregory Patrick….but, you’re sure did notice him…didn’t you?

Maybe I do a disservice by calling myself a knitter. Maybe I should just call myself an artist…..who’s media includes fiber, visuals and words. Sometimes separately, sometimes, all at once….Sometimes hopeful and joyous. Sometimes painful and combative….depending on our far to the edge I wish to explore my own “brush on canvas,” on how much I really want to say.

Art isn’t about following. It really is about the impact of the creator’s own fringe worthy (not cringe!) but, fringe worthy attempt to step aside, look from outside, beyond the limits of what is permissible, and to report back in sounds, pictures, or to transcribe the experience.

….or KNIT the experience, thank you.

(Finally, we ended the night by watching “Yellowstone.” IT KICKED ASS! )

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The Kinda, Sorta Manly Granny Square

You know, there are just some techniques that you just love to play with. The Granny Square is one of them. Now, I love the idea, but no matter what you do, it always seems to just come out looking all pretty and flowery. No offense, but I’m a guy. Don’t let the gay part fool you. Phillip and I are still very much manly men, with manly things, and manly desires…..despite the fact one knits and crochets. Who said the craft is just for the feminine in nature? Have you seen Phillip’s “Strange Friends?” And come on. Just because we’re two men married to each other, doesn’t mean we don’t live like bachelors. However, our decorating styles are a little different. I’m more Pottery Bar, Phillip is more Pee Wee’s Playhouse….but, this is why we love Phillip. I’m more serious, He’s more whimsical. You put the two together and hot damn, you have seriously whimsical.

I love the technique of the granny square, but one motif in and I feel I’m going to have an afghan that looks so different from what my own style and instinct is all about. However, with a ton (and I do mean a TON) of yearning yarn ready to be made into something in the back room, I thought I’d just mess around with the Granny Square.

Now, doing one giant Granny is not something new. But, if you just sorta, kinda tweak the colors and their arrangements, I found myself working on something that was a little more masculine, a little more art deco, a  little more mosaic in nature. I really enjoyed it. It took me days. DAYS. I saw our the color of our carpet, the colors of the couch, contrasting natures, hues that should not be near each other suddenly go, “We actually love each other in little doses,” come to life and do what I had hoped: finally crochet a giant Granny Square that looked less like flowers, and more like artistic tile. Beset with coppers and grays, whites and tans, it really did move forward like any man should be: soft and muted on the inside, robust and striking on the outside.

I had so much fun with it that it ended up much bigger than I expected. Four and a half feet squared. And I still had a few more skeins I wanted to add to it. But, at some point, like anyone should, you need to step back and go, “Hey, man….now, you’re getting obsessive.”

(In my own defense, I really was looking forward to using up all this excess yarn).

So, there you have it. My attempt at a kinda, sorta masculine Granny Square. If you’d like it, it is yours. And if you can, pass it off to a fella. A nice decorative touch to keep him warm in his favorite chair, or draped on his favorite side of the couch. Just click here. Cheers!

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Well, There Goes the Neighborhood….

Maybe the saddest thing is that neighborhoods are being replaced with online communities. Hard to tell if that is a bad thing, really. But, the actual physical places we live and call home are being replaced with something virtual on a screen. And the one obvious difference that the real human interaction with someone, not in cerebral terms, but in the hand shake itself is being replaced with an emoji.

For the past 25 years if I have lived in Orlando, I have lived in this neighborhood. I’ve always loved this section of town. Perhaps it is only from a nostalgic point of view. I recall my idealistic, wide eyed 20’s here. Both my damages and blessings were conjured here. I LIVED here, CRIED here, CELEBRATED here, KNIT here, know every corner of it like the back of my hand, and now, in my mid 40’s, wander the rewards of each boulevard in the back of my mind.

The difference between a community and a neighborhood is that communities are built on the like minded ideas of members who chose to join, who chose to flock and congregate. They have similar views, skin tones, heritage, economic backgrounds, interests, needs, wants, cares, sexual interests. Neighborhoods are different. Neighborhoods are filled with the weird and unusual you have to learn to live beside. You don’t get to chose your neighbor.

The knitting community isn’t any different when you think of it. A like minded group of people with whom the majority is one majority sex, one age group, one economic background. All coming together to share their lives with a sense of homogeneous need for acceptance. And in that likeness we lose the brilliance of a neighborhood. In the knitting community you hear many who demand diversity and inclusion, force the fiber arts into a political faction, knit statements with their needles. They have built a community online, in a virtual world that spills into the real.

I’m amazed at this. Because the same knitters that demand that society be more inclusive and tolerant, don’t seem to be very inclusive and tolerant. “Look like us, talk like us, wear what we’re all knitting, or get the fuck out.”

Men that knit are tokens, novelties. I don’t see the first brown or black women they claim to defend in your see of pink, and I’m confused as to why you think only liberals knit. In this alleged knitting community I seem to see only one discomforting truth.

Sadly, the knitting community is not a neighborhood, which is what it should be, when you think about it. A place where the conservative guy who knits two blogs down is pleasant, but not your sort. You don’t kick him out, you HAVE learn to live with him. You coexist.

This may hurt, and this may be the smack up side the skein you’ve been needing. But, those who cry out loud at the lack of diversity in the knitting “community” aren’t looking for it, because you’re not knitting side by side with people with whom you disagree, with whom you have to share space, whether you like them or not. You’re not focused on the KNITTING. Of all things we disagree on, we could have this one thing, THIS ONE THING, that catapults us into an example for the world to see. A neighborhood that shares space, needles and skeins with anyone who happens to be live in there, whether you like them or not. You find what you have in common, not what you find in division. You should knit side by side with your foe, both finding communion and correspondence in the craft. We have to be better than this. We have to really, REALLY, focus on the brilliance that is our work. I’ll knit, you purl. What a grand moment that would be.

I don’t see enough diversity of skin tone, sex, or economic background in the knitting community because the knitting community has become a clan with a chieftain that requires assimilation as acceptance. Of all the merits that knitting can claim, we should be better than this. But, we’re not now are we? Because when the wrong knitter steps on the scene, well, there goes the neighborhood….

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The Confessions of a Gay Conservative

I mean, I haven’t felt this terrified since the 1980’s, when fear of being outed as a “homosexual” could ruin your life. You could lose loved ones, family members, friends, jobs, even where you lived for being gay. There were no protections for sexual preference under the law then. And even if there were, you could be socially ostracized and destroyed. You could lose your income. You could lose everything.

I posed a question on facebook about talking politically. Should I, or should I not? Well, why would you want to? Well, because I write about my life, my opinions, my feelings, my experiences from the shell of a man who has experienced things from THIS direction. My thoughts and opinions are from THIS place, over here, over at the edge, far from the ever twisted mainstream. They aren’t off, they aren’t odd. They are not even unique. But, they are told from a truth that I can only muster as “living history.”

So, in the process of writing about your life that turns memoir, you cannot withhold how you feel about certain things. Having said that, I asked my readers on facebook about speaking politically and it was a clear 50/50 split between yes and no. But, the greater point was that I even had to  ASK the question. That was the surrealism I was looking into: that you have trepidation exposing yourself with a political philosophy. Now, let me clarify before we go further that I do not follow a political party. I follow philosophies. I am not a republican. I am a conservative. And not all Republicans are conservative, and not all Democrats are liberals.

But, I had to look through the lens of this question of “am I even ALLOWED to speak on this,” because I wanted to examine why, oh why, that discussions on such matters can have you taken to the public square and eviscerated for everyone to see. I could be languid and rich with my words, but I’d prefer to take the more direct approach: what the HELL happened?

I FEAR, hear that loud and clear reader, I FEAR talking about my political philosophies because I fear losing my job. I fear losing my home. I fear losing everything I have worked for…..because of the way I FEEL. Feelings will be criminal after not to long. Careful of that. We used to be judicious over the actions of an individual. Now, we skip all that and just skin the whole horde for the way they think.

In many respects, I haven’t had this sort of social fear since the 1980’s. Like I said in my open….Some of us, once again, have reached another precipice in hiding. We had to hide our feelings then, only to be told by our “liberators” that we have to hide them again.

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This Might Get a Bit “Messy”

To begin with, I have to confess that I am working with a new keyboard. I got an external one because I’m going to be doing a butt load of writing over the next few weeks and I’m accustomed to bigger, heavier, taller keys. My long fingers don’t work well with these smaller laptop keys I’ve been working on for years now. I type fast, super fast, and when I’m in my head space, when I’ve got my flow, I type like a virtuoso pounding a piano, my fingers leaping and bounding in a tormenting fashion from letter to letter. So, I’m more excited about writing now because I don’t have to be conscious of where my fingers go. Just thought I’d share….

Now, I posed a question on my facebook page the other day. You see, I was given a challenge by my delightful husband, who is always urging me to think beyond my usual boundaries. “Describe your writing in one word.” Well, damn.

“Sweetheart, if I had the talent to express myself in one word, I wouldn’t be a writer. I mean, I wouldn’t write books and blogs, I’d write haiku!”

So, devoid of any one singular word at the time, I asked everyone on facebook to help me describe my own work. And do you realize that was one of the most engaging posts I’ve ever written? Nearly 2,000 people saw it, and scores responded, quite beautifully, if I might add. The responses were complimentary and helpful. I really got to see what people think of my work. In one word people were telling me what they thought of this blog, these books, these words….this man and his talent. Ok, only one comment confused me. “Messy.” I have no idea what that means. Did I spill a word, knock over a letter? Is my writing like a beautiful, delicious meal who’s (or whose?) preparation left behind a disaster in the kitchen???? Beautiful, eloquent but with a pile of dirty pots and pans and flour spread everywhere????(wait…..she may be on to something….)

As a writer, those accolades keep me going. As an artist, they compel me to find more places to explore between the human experience and they way it is told. As a man, a simple man, who quietly writes with often loud results, I’m humbled. The effect that one person can have on another should never be under estimated, and I should never, could never forget that these big, bulky keys that please me, pound out what only my soul can say in silence.

It is kind of ironic. I withdraw from “Gregory Patrick” only to write about “Gregory Patrick,” then package it back up, hand it over in a clever box, with a big bow, and a tidy card that reads, “From Gregory Patrick….”

So, I wanted to thank you so much for responding to my work, my writing, my life. I wanted to thank all of you for being a part of, inspiring and being so much of my work, my writing, my life. I keep this blog going because I know you’re reading it. And when I first started this blog, I just needed to speak to someone, just needed someone to hear me. And like a voice crying with loneliness you heard me, you cared, you took this journey with me. In one word? Grateful.

Ok, I need to get back to my OTHER writing. And yes, it might get a bit “messy.” 🙂

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This is Sex Without Touching

And when I found out that Peni had died, it took me a while to cry, because anger had pushed itself to the front, had beat the crap out of all the other emotions, had won the territorial front of emotions. He won, I suffered….until she said something to me in a dream.

Peni, not Penny. She wanted to be different, extraordinary, seen, heard, wanted to make people giggle and think her name was a plurality of “penis.” She was my soulmate, my “constant reader” (Dorothy Parker fans will pick up on that), my savior, my surrogate mother-aunt-sister combined. She was my best friend. Inside jokes abound! I can see her now, bending with laughter, “flip flops on a plane….” (Refer to Tracy Ulman….) We’d rush around in her Saturn Something blaring Bjork’s “Post” album. (Come on, THAT is a great album, “This is sex without touching….”). It summed it who we were, our relationship. Soul mates.

We were actors in a grand horror show called “Terror on Church Street”, we were broke as two church mice. We used to spend our evenings dining on a mix of “Tuna, Mac and Pees, Please.” Basically, a box of macaroni, mixed with a can of tuna, TONS of pepper and mayonnaise, and if we could afford it, a can of pees…..just for personality. And would laugh at the idea that if someone famous ate it and said it would cure cancer, all the world would be asking for it. “……please.”

There we would sit, watching reruns of “Rosanne,” eating out our tuna feast and solve the world’s problems. We had so many hopes, so many dreams. Our futures resting on being cast in a block buster film that starred her, based on a novel written by me. God, youth is beautifully naive. We didn’t have the internet back then. “Viral” was a dirty word…. You were shunned in those days for being “viral.”

If you have followed this blog for a long time, or have a good sense of foreshadowing, you’ll know this doesn’t end well. She died of lung cancer just a few days before her 40th birthday. She called me a few days before she died. I didn’t answer the phone. I was too caught up in being “Gregory Patrick.”

I have never forgiven myself for that. But, that is a blog post for another day.

The bottom line is, I’m hankering for a hearty bowl of Tuna, Mac, and Pees, Please.

I miss her, need to spend some time with her….In homage.

“I wish I want to be here, I wish this be enough….”

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