On a List of the Best

Well, it is seems this blog of mine has ended up on a list of the 100 best knitting blogs to look for in 2018. And I have to say, on a personal level, that really means a lot to me. This is where I belong, this is where I’m strongest. Writing about this life of a knitter happily exiled to the outside fringes of the craft got people reading. I was once called the “bad boy” of knitting. I was once called “the worst example of knitting.”

Writing this blog began as an open diary where people saw the struggles I faced through homelessness, while knitting my way out of it. Then it shifted. It became a beacon for people who felt disenfranchised by our mainstream knitting culture. I rebelled. We’re not all white, we’re not all middle class, we’re not all liberal. We come in all sorts of interesting and amazing variations that are often quieted in order to pursue a picket fenced glorification that LIES about who knitters really are. And the knitters that don’t suit that criteria are often sent packing.

I saw so many people being shoved away from the mainstream fray of this wonderfully generous craft. Knitters come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and political affirmations. We don’t focus on that. We focus on the stitches… and in turn, focus on the what those stitches do to our lives, how we are affected by them, how we grow with every knit and purl, how we become rational, reasonable, productive people simply with the movement of thread over needle.

So, I am truly TRULY honored to be acknowledged to be on a list of the best knitting blogs to look for in the coming year. Because it says to me, more than anything, there are different voices in this community, and more and more people of those voices are being heard.

If I could do anything with this blog, from this point forward, it would be to make this blog a definitive place where those who feel turned away from the knitting community are given a  place of refuge and acceptance.

Cast on, ya’ll. You’re welcome here.

 

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I Miss You

Yes,  I have been so quiet. This illness has just wiped me clean of any ambition. I wake and stare. I just don’t have the energy to do anything else. Wrapped in my afghans I sit in a chair and….just stare…and wait to go back to bed again. But I had to come out of my quiet to thank all of your for your kindness and encouragement. I really wish I wasn’t his sick. I’m so ready to be back to my resilient, determined self, but for now, I’m just weak. I’m writing every one back to thank them, albeit slowly. I send two emails, then have to go lay down. And I know a TON of people are going through this right now. So many people seemed to have been struck with some weird form of bronchitis that has tossed them aside for weeks. Well, I’ve been on a diet of citrus and raw onion (lots of vitamin C in raw onion, and antibiotics. It can be awful, but so worth it. No one wants to be around you, but you’re sick, so you don’t really care anyway, right?).

I’m hoping to be back to fighting self sooner rather than later. I’m also involving myself in laughter. Laughter causes you to inhale, clear the lungs. DON’T take cough suppressants. You NEED to cough, that’s your body’s way of getting toxins out. And the occasional shot of whiskey to ensure a night of sleep helps, too. Heat helps. Even though its nearly 90 degrees, I feel better taking a hot bath, wrapping myself in my pajamas, then being on the couch covered with a few layers of blankets watching, “Grumpy Old Men.”

I gotta say, I miss my facebook group so much, and my foreign correspondence, my friends. I haven’t had the energy to pop on facebook to see how they are, but I do so miss them. Kara came over the other day and said, “Wow….you look awful.” To which I could only respond in my wry, wrapped in afghan bitchiness, “This is why I didn’t hire you to be my publicist.”

We did pay rent, but we did have to pay a penalty. Understood. That’s only fair. And whatever extra we had we put towards next month, sending the landlord not only our rent and penalty, but more cash towards our balance for next month. And again, I can’t thank you enough for helping us. I’m writing each of you back. Its just taking a minute.

So, I just wanted to come out of my quiet for a minute to thank all of you, to let you know I’m doing my best to get better, that I miss all of you so much, and that if you were here with me in this little apartment, making me laugh, I’d probably be back on my feet by now, because you all make me feel so much better when I’m feeling awful, you make me laugh when I’m sad, you make me feel strong when I feel weak.

I love you.

Gregory

 

A Note on My Previous Post, “A Knitters Career Expressed in a Week.”

I just wasn’t prepared, just wasn’t ready to handle another attack, nor controversy, nor any hiccups in our plans.

This last month was a brutal one. First the hurricane, which drug on for about a week, and a week without being able to sell is disastrous for us. Then this whole incident involving one our previous foreign correspondents on our show. She confided to me that she was tired of doing things for other people and that she wanted to do a spin off show.

“Sounds good. Wish you wouldn’t go, but if you feel that will make you happy and whole, then I support you completely and will be here if you need anything,” I said.

Then just after that I started receiving screen shots of her totally trash talking Phillip and I in other groups, and what is worse, she had enlisted SO many of our previous supporters to do the same. She pulled them from us with deceitful stories and lies. That hurt. That hurt so much, because I had considered her a friend. I had considered all of them friends. So, when I found out, I cut her out of my life completely, blocked her. That is the sensible thing to do, I tell myself. Don’t fight back, don’t lash out, just cut ties and be done with them. We allowed these people into our lives on personal levels, and they used those attachments to hurt us. And I never saw it coming.

Apparently, that insulted her. She would  not tolerate being ignored. So she and a friend of hers pulled together people who have no idea what was really happening to flood my Mad Man Knitting facebook page with nasty comments. Again, I had never heard of any of these people, but saw them all coming from one particular person’s facebook post where they asked people, that again had never heard of me before, to go and leave hateful messages for all the world to see.

I was up at 4am, saw dozens of them, and spent the better part of that morning deleting them, blocking them, and basically refreshing every 30 seconds or so to see another bomb dropped. Then they went to Ravelry. As if this situation had anything to do with Ravelry. But, needed another forum to let other knitters know that I was a monster. In one thread that was praising my hurricane posts, they showed up again, bitterly swinging the topic around to fit their narrative. Thankfully, one of the moderators stepped in and used the “Don’t be a jerk,” community policy to delete their comments.

We weren’t so luck with Ebay. Yes, they had taken one of Phillip’s Strange Friends that they had purchased and decided to list it for sale. Nothing wrong with that. However, the description of the item said nothing NOTHING about the actual Strange Friend itself, but instead was a defamatory paragraph of insults that went well beyond libel. I immediately reported it. Nothing. I asked others to do the same. Multitudes of people reported the listing, alas to no avail.

I tweeted ebay and told them that this was unacceptable. You should not be allowed to make money off a product simply by trash talking the creators of the product and use your listing NOT to describe the product, but to again find another way to spread more vitriol through the internet.

We saw our sales plummet, we saw our numbers increase to this blog, only through search engines, and again, more nasty comments were left here that I deleted. She found a way to flock people into an attack simply by what she said, with none of it being true. That listing stayed up for 5 days, with no help from Ebay who told us that their reports are done in the order they are received. I’m sorry, but if you have multiple red flags against a listing, I imagine there is an algorithm out there that says, “You should look at this one asap.” It finally sold for twice what Phillip sold it for, as she used her defamatory listing to find some sense of compensation. We didn’t promote her enough, she said. She wasn’t making enough money off being involved on our show. I never offered anyone money, but promotion in return for their videos.

I should have been more prepared, should have been less trusting, but that isn’t what I do. I genuinely love people and help whenever I can anyone who needs a hand up. I don’t have much myself, but what I have I’ll happily share with you. And I never mentioned this whole incident publicly because I didn’t want to give her the war that she wanted. To me, it would only fuel her publicity, it would feed a rage that would linger, when both parties should have just walked away and said, “Have a nice day.” Rather than fighting back, I coiled in and watched so much of what I have to rebuild OVER AND OVER AND OVER being stripped again.

And all of this stress got me really sick. A bad episode of bronchitis that has robbed me of my appetite, my sleep, and my constant burning desire to excel. It has made me worthless, tired, unable to function as I usually do. And a week on, it is still fighting  with me.

We weren’t selling anything. Book sales dropped, teddy bears dropped, Strange Friends dropped. And we saw ourselves skidding towards disaster. And throughout this year we have been relying on all of those teddy bears and book sales and Strange Friends to keep us afloat while Phillip looked for work. He finally found a wonderfully paying job, but he’s not going to see a paycheck for  few weeks. So we weren’t able to pay the electric, until at the last minute someone stepped in and said they would take care of it for us. It wasn’t a loan, it was payment for dinner and a couch to crash on when they come around this way next year (They’ve come twice already, it’s not like its a total stranger).

We still haven’t paid rent. And I don’t know what I’m going to do about that either. I don’t have much to sell. And I don’t know what to tell the landlord. I really don’t. I am so beat down right now that I…..I fear this is all completely finished.

Even the most resilient people get beat down sometimes. Even the strongest have to walk back and admit they’ve been hit too many times to wonder why they keep going in the ring.

I don’t belong to the knitting community, I don’t think I ever did. But, I don’t think about them very often. I think about THIS community that I helped build and nurture, of knitters and non knitters alike, who just wanted to find something bright in an increasingly shadowed world, who looked for softness when the world turns hard on you, who sought the warmth of a virtual hug, snug only in written word against a cold society that betrays you quickly. I wanted to be that voice. I really did. But, it gets harder and harder to make proclamations of optimism when all people want to do is destroy you for their personal empowerment.

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A Knitting Career Expressed in a Week

On Monday I was a homeless nobody.

On Tuesday I went viral and became a well known knitter.

On Wednesday I became a commodity.

On Thursday I was found to have a different voice than other knitters and became a liability.

On Friday I lost half my following and my endorsements.

On Saturday I fought back.

On Sunday the bullies of the crafting scene won the internet and the knitting community decided to send me “back to the gutter where they found me.”

….On Monday I was a homeless nobody again.

Monk Follows a Nun into a Bar….

I take no hesitation in saying that I love watching old episodes of “Mother Angelica Live.”

Last night Phillip and I went to bed. He was cut loose from work early because it was slow. He came home to find me wrapped in afghans on the couch, watching “Murder, She Wrote,” and only smiled. I love my little old ladies. Hush! I was wrapped in a giant afghan made of homespun. It’s huge and cream colored. I looked like the scrawniest, sickliest, albeit darn cutest, little viking ever. 🙂

But once we went to bed at about 10pm , I could tell my illness these last few days were truly bothering him. Every 20 minutes I had a coughing fit lat lasted about 20 minutes. He’d roll over and groan, slowly moan and grumble. Every time I coughed that badly I went to get another glass of orange juice, until about 2am where I decided, “Well, damn….I guess I’m up.”

I was cold, wrapped in all sorts of flannel, but still sweating, freezing. I got the coffee started and moved on to what we all do. We check to see if the world has forgotten us, or what the world has done without us, or what madness has gotten itself into without first telling us. I turned on the news, social media, opened the phone…..

The world was a disaster. I hacked and coughed and spent an hour reading through headlines and facebook threads and the world was a disaster. I coughed so hard at one point I thought I had lost enough oxygen to even breathe.

No matter what happens in life, listen to that little voice in your head that says, “Walk away.” You should listen to it, take heed. It knows better than you do. That is instinct telling you that flight is a safer way to handle your survival the fight.

So somewhere around an hour ago, I cracked open a beer (I’d only been asleep for two hours, hoping a beer would settle me into a longer sleep), and pulled up an old episode of Mother Angelica Live. Perhaps its the old monk in me, perhaps my contemplative side that doesn’t need the realms of religion and piousness to lure me into fruitful thought. Perhaps she just makes me feel better.

I will tell you this. I did not cough once throughout that entire episode. The sickness of the world is contagious, however, so is the beauty of the world, just as much affecting as any other stimulus that demands response from the soul. I put myself in a place where I felt connected, secure. And that isn’t to say that Mother Angelica Live would do the same to you. But, in the deeper areas from where my heart bleeds, from the nested places from where my mind dreams, that was where I needed to be. Surrounded by the comforting aura of a once adored friend.

I had another beer. Why not? The show is an hour long, filling time. Still no coughing. Though the show was 20 years old, the topic was just as valid today. The media, politics, and gossip attempt to sway us into a world of battle lines, of pitted sides, of friends becoming foes….and as I sat there with my beer I thought only of that great line in Mathew. “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

And I see all of these tweets, and all of these facebook feeds, news reports, instagram hits….EVERYONE is ready to angrily destroy the other. Yes, in Las Vegas, evil struck. But, it doesn’t mean it won. But you’re allowed to believe that through the trappings of pushing anger and vitriol and political discourse that this is who we are, and that it isn’t our faults, we’re just responding…..

….but that response could be what makes you just as nasty as the people that are URGING you to say it. So be careful of what you say on issues so heartbreaking as these.

I do believe I’ll have ONE more beer…..and read a touch of Thomas Merton to ground myself, rather than hear the pounding pundits of social media socialites tell me they are experts on who and what is to blame for evil. The defilement of our society is coming more and more from not what happened, but what is said about it. Go have a cocktail already. Leave the defilement behind.

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Lay Down, Old Man….

I haven’t been quite myself the last few days. I seem to have picked up something that congested my chest and handed me a fever. And you know how it is when you get that way. There’s not a whole lot of energy left in you burning off the germs to get up from bed. So Phillip propped me on the couch, we made two batches of Savannah swamp voodoo chicken soup, and rested and watched laughable things. We lit my prayer candle, gave the Buddha a flower, and thought positively.

I just hate it when I’m down for the count. I’m so driven, so full of purpose, so at the ready, that I begin to feel useless, anxious, and yes, sometimes a little terrified. I feel like I’m starting to feel better. Some energy has returned. My congestion isn’t as bad as it was yesterday, and I’m not bundled up beneath a pile of afghans still shivering.

So, I’ve decided maybe I’ll have enough energy to pull out the needles today while watching something long and familiar so that I don’t have to pay attention. Maybe I’ll watch “Feud” again. I rather enjoyed that. God knows I’ve got to get the needles back out. I think last month was a stress that we all could have done without. I always have a problem keeping on weight, but when I’m stressed, I simply quit eating, and without the proper diet, you get sick. And stress itself can work some nightmare on your body all its own. So, I think with the stress of the hurricanes, and the stress of people you thought were friends publicly backstabbing you, it really is no wonder that the Universe said, “lay down, old man….Rest.”

If it were up to me? I’d take a nice, long, warm shot of whiskey and pass out, let the rest do its work. I’ve been consuming HUGE amounts of water and broth. Maybe what I need is just a swift kick from a shot of whiskey to knock me into sleep for a while. We went to grab some orange juice when this thing started rearing its nasty head, but the hurricanes have made buying orange juice a severe luxury. $4 a gallon. So, no OJ for a while. (But, hey, at least we’re not in Puerto Rico where they don’t even have water, so find the perspective in everything).

Phillip is enjoying his new job, although I don’t get to see him very much. I’ll see him for about an hour this afternoon before he heads out, but then won’t see him again until tomorrow. I’m trying to match my body clock to his new one, but I’m so famously up and out of bed in the early am. Where he doesn’t even come home until around that time. We’ll get back in sync again. I think that is the only drawback to this new job, and Heaven knows we really REALLY need the money from his new job, so I won’t complain about anything. We won’t see a paycheck for a while, but at least its a turn towards our favor.

I’m not going to focus on the madness of the world today. I’m going to focus on optimism, gonna go perch under the afghans, in my comfy sweats and knit socks and while away resting, and focus on bringing joy to the world with my little green bear. Click on the picture if you’d like to give him a home. And he really could use a good home.

Blackboard

Alright, its just slightly shy of 6pm in Orlando land. Tonight is Phillip’s first full night at his new job. I don’t think I mentioned how that all worked out, actually. See, he applied for a dishwasher job. Was willing  to take whatever he could. The manager met with him, saw his application and said, “No….no no no. YOU are not a dishwasher. All of this experience does not say dishwasher. YOU are what I need right now. I need a saute chef and you have all the experience.” So, Phillip got hired for a much better gig than what he was looking for, at so much better pay. (And I do always put that bug in his ear, “Go for gold, sweetheart! AIM HIGH!”) But, things have been rough. He had no job offers for a year, so he undersold himself. Destiny decided otherwise. If you at least TRY, the universe will take care of you. I promise you that.

Yesterday was his orientation day, getting all the company policy under foot. They do NOT allow cell phones in the building. I love that. THAT is commendable. We want an enjoyable work environment, if you’re not happy, tell your manager. Don’t come in hungover. You will be fired. You’re still drunk. (I love these policies). And Phillip came home gleeful and happy and said, “I think I’m really going to like it there.”

But, tonight is his second night, he’ll be closing the restaurant. Working from 4pm to midnight, which is completely off of our normal sleeping routine. We’re famously up EARLY am, in bed by 10 at the absolute latest. But, this is more important, we’ll just have to change our routine. So, coffee pots were filled, naps were taken, alarms were set.

Sadly, I kept sleeping. Didn’t get to see him leave. I woke, made coffee. We are old school people. The trappings of technology have not claimed us to a needy degree. Where most might send a text, we have this old blackboard we found at the thrift store that we hung in the kitchen. You know, for important reminders, scribbles like “Coffee. Toilet Paper. Boxes for shipping. Some of those things you got last time that I liked. You know, the ones flavored like mango.”

Its our communication tool and its much easier than using some fancy phone. Because it is IN your face, whereas you get to swipe things aside on a phone. No, this is ALWAYS right there, burning on a board when you enter the kitchen. Want something to drink? You’re reminded of the whatever mango thing he wanted to get from the supermarket. Washing dishes? We need toilet paper. Boxes for shipping. Always there.

So, I took a long nap because I want to wait up for him to come home safely. And as I was making coffee I spied at our little blackboard to find this lovely message. And It just made me smile. He could have sent me a text, but again, that just isn’t how we work.  He wanted me to see this message all night long.

You know, this will be the first night in an entire year where we have been separated for 8 full hours. The house is weirdly mature when he’s gone. It is unusually serious and normal. It is unacceptably not our home. The house isn’t silly enough. There is a definite loss of loud laughter.

I know, I know. I sound ridiculous. Married couples are split every day, all day, across the world. I’m just reminded with his absence, how much I really love that big goon.