….And Don’t Forget His Dyer, Tyler.

IMG_1990Jonathan Berner sent me some yarn a few months ago from his company, MJ Yarns. You see? Another fella with his hand on yarn. Love it! See? We are everywhere :) Jonathan (…and don’t forget his dyer, Tyler!) work up, wind up, dye up this yarn themselves. And I was anxious to get my hands on it.

The minute it arrived, I pulled it out of the box and fell in love. In LOVE! This yarn was awesome, blending a soft love affair between wool and silk in strands that slipped through my fingers as I knit up teddy bears with it. Their little faces grew quietly and quickly, with a softness that was akin to the real meaning of the word “plush.”

IMG_2257So, if you’d like one of the bears I made up with Jonathan’s yarn, click here. Now, each of those bears was done using my pattern for “The Teddy Bear That Saved Me,” in both my Ravelry and Craftsy shops. And if you’d like to make this bear yourself with MJ Yarns, snag a hank here. It’s quite nice seeing so many fellas with yarn in their heart…..Yeah! Each bear is ready to ship with a signed card by me. Enjoy!

Next blog…I wanna talk about my rosary….

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate!

 

 

 

Come on, Kids! Get up!

So, I’m sitting here knitting furiously, crazy eyed, up to my ears in stockinette stitches. Finish a teddy bear leg, toss it to the side, humming to myself, “NEXT!” And I’d begin again. Cast on 10, begin with purl row….if you have my pattern, you know the drill.

Suddenly, Phillip comes along side me and says abruptly, “It’s my day off from work.”

“Cool,” I say while counting rows in my head.

“How long will you be knitting?”

“Until there’s no more knitting left to do….” (row four, row five….solid rule in this house. Speak no numbers should I be knitting, you might throw me off).

“Well, I was hoping I could spend the day with you.”

My heart sank. It was really sweet of him to say that, but I had so much work to do. “Dude, I’ve got this knitting I need to do.”

“You’ve been working like this for a month,” he pushes. “I think you can take a day off. Come on, the only thing I wanna do on my day off is SOMETHING with you. Look at this pile over here, man! You’ve earned a day off.”

IMG_2143I spied my little collection of odd and ended bears and I have to admit, it didn’t take long for me to go, “You’re right. Let’s go.”

We took to the Urban Trail, a 3 or 4 mile paved bike way behind the busier streets of Orlando, curling and turning into neighborhoods I never knew existed. It swirled behind major shopping centers, through the Science Center, up to Mead Botanical Gardens, where it dropped us just short of Park Avenue.

“Well, we’ve made it this far, let’s keep going!” And so we did. If you know nothing of Park Avenue in Winter Park, you’re missing out. A swank strip of boutiques and bistros that cater to a crust I shun from….but, it is a lot of fun strolling the road, looking so unfashionable. :) Me in my redneckishness (new word! Use it!), sweaty and big, bad teeth smile, passing debutantes and boys groomed for daddy’s company. Such fun!

I had taken my camera, but Phillip and were so involved in enjoying ourselves as we dashed into book stores and quaint little curio shops with over priced rocks, that I totally forgot to take a picture until the very end of our journey. 4 hours in the hot 115 degree sun, and one minute away from heat exhaustion, we opted to take the Sunrail back home….It’s only one stop, sure, but damn that took a good 20 minutes off our bike ride home…. and the air conditioned car felt soooo goooood.

IMG_2164While waiting for the train is when I snapped this. Look at us! Burnt in the face and over heated, exhausted, but truly having the best time. Our forced smiles scream, “Someone help us!” :)

Now home, we’re spending the evening in front of Great Britain. It’s a little thing we do. We’ll watch Father Ted, Miranda, Being Human, Keeping Up Appearances, and of course, round the evening out with a little Vicar of Dibley while having Shepard’s Pie. It’s our way of taking long adventures close to home.

The moral of the story? Kids, sometimes you have to let the knitting go, otherwise you’ll sit and dream, but never actually do. So, balance is key. Knit all you want, but when your mind starts to scream for action, by all means, get up and go! Find some little fun in a bike trail, in the close company of a loved one, in the laughter of a Brit-Com. Put the yarn down for a second and remember why you knit in the first place….to be a part of life, not to detach from it.

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate!

Speak, Knitter, for a Spell (Part 2)

“So what happened?”

The air in the room became thin, my heart began to race, and a warm blast of paranoia ripped through me quickly. I was slightly shaky, my hands a bit trembling, my teeth clenching.

“I was homeless….” I had said it one million times in one million forums, but this time, it proceeded into a place I had always dismissed, it continued into a part of my soul that I had always shut down, shut out, for fear its bitterness would poison me. “….and I’m so ANGRY because of it.” I said it through pierced lips. For the first time I had said it with the emotion that it was entitled. I was ANGRY. And on many occasion when the right frame of mind claims me, I’m STILL angry.

“You need to learn how to forgive,” she said in quiet response, studying me with her cat eyes, hands putting back herbs she had gathered, grabbing different ones now that I had made my claim. “You can only work through that anger with forgiveness. I’ll dress some candles for you. They’ll smell medicinal, but that’s fine, because that’s what they are….medicine for your soul.”

I watched her take small candles and press rocks against them inside baggies, then pour in oils and herbs. “These two are for immediacy. We need to get you working on this right away. This other candle,” she reached for a third and began to dress in the same way, “needs to take a little longer. Let it burn for three days.” She then handed me two stones that she had doused with clove and frankincense and told me to put them in a small bag for under my pillow or mattress. “We cannot help with your teeth until we get to the root of your anger. You need to forgive someone. This is why your teeth are grinding…..Now, it’s up to you to reflect, work through it, find out who it is….and then we can worry about your teeth.”

I did as I was told and went home, lit the three candles….and waited.

You know? It’s would have been easy for me to pick out the usual suspects. Whom needed forgiveness? I claimed quickly my family. They didn’t need to let me be homeless, and for that I’m angry. But, it didn’t feel right. Have I forgiven them? Hmmm. Yes….but I haven’t forgotten. Lifelong friends, those whom I’d known for decades, they came next in thought. Forgive? Hmmm. Yes, but I’ll never forget hearing those phrases, so boldly spoken without a moment of reservation that I still hear it to this day, “No, you can’t stay with me…..I’d never get rid of you.” Stinging, biting. As though I were some horrid cause that kept having issue. Well, YEAH! If I had a place to go other than the streets I could pull myself together! I don’t speak to those people anymore….But, I forgive them. What do I care now? So, nothing seemed resolved.

Two of the candles were burned up within the span of 30 minutes, and slowly it dawned on me.

I went to the mirror and said quit simply, “YOU. YOU did this…. You can’t blame anyone else. You were cocky enough to think that you were so valuable you could leave your job and anyone would be lucky enough to hire you….but, they didn’t, did they? Nope! And even THEN you were foolish enough to keep spending your savings as though it were a limitless supply…..”

I had never forgiven myself for the hell that I had put myself through. Becoming homeless was because of my stupid arrogance. No one else can take the blame for that. I looked in the mirror and said, “I forgive you for making the dumbest mistake of your life….and doing something good with it.”

Had I never done that, I would never have met any of you. Had I not screwed up so badly, the most important things in life would never have shown themselves to me; had I not destroyed my life, I would not have been blessed with a rebirth that learned more about the intangible, rather than the commercial. Had I not lost everything, I would not have ever gained everything that a man requires in life: love, hope, compassion. I would not have a life now had it not been for the foolery I can now fully blame myself with.

The three day candle finally burned itself out and I felt the tight muscles in my face soften. I slept that night without grinding. Mario curled under my arms, my back pressed firmly against Phillip’s chest to spoon. Had I not made the most disastrous decision of my life, I would not have this life now. And I just can’t imagine any other way that things should have turned out. Happy, close, loved, holding to hope….and better for it.

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate!

 

 

 

 

 

Speak, Knitter, for a Spell.

She put the candle down, turned to me and asked quite simply, “What happened?”

“Well, nothing that I can think of.”

“People who grind their teeth often have had traumatic moments. Either when younger, or more recently. So, what happened?”

She peered at me with deep blue eyes. Her deep brown complexion holding tight frame around that gaze, her dreads piled into a hive above her head. Before she reached for anything else, she held a hand with palm upward, stared at me with care and asked again, “What happened?”

I had just come from the dentist, by way of the pharmacist. The prognosis? Next Wednesday I’m to have my teeth extracted. Two weeks after that, a deep numbing cleaning of the underside of my gums. And then a week after that? Molds made for new teeth. These last few years were manifesting themselves into a nightly grinding of my teeth, moving them back and forth so aggressively that this coupled with poor nutrition and stress had allowed gum disease to set in.

I was prescribed antibiotics, went to the pharmacist and bowed my head as I took my bag of pills and walked away feeling empty. I hate taking antibiotics. I hate taking aspirin. I hate pills.

But, in this neighborhood we are blessed with an abundance of spiritual complexities. It is one of the few places in the world I know of where you can watch a Vietnamese Buddhist monk cross the street in his orange robe, pass a Kabbalah center, cut through the parking lot of a Methodist church, to fetch a cup of tea at a vegan cafe that shares it’s property line with a Catholic thrift store. Jerusalem should take note.

AvalonOutside31With that said, I popped into Avalon. Now, at first you want to call it a Pagan hub, a Wiccan knowledge base, a place where those that dance in Faerie magic reign. But, it’s been there for so long, and they offer so much more in the ideas of the unseen, that Avalon screams shyly of a place for anyone needing a different approach to the typical. And it truly is a neighborhood store. In my late 20’s I went there to buy incense and books on Hermetics.

As I stepped into the store, I just kept thinking, “I don’t want to lose my teeth. I don’t want to go through all that pain. I don’t want to spend the next six weeks in pain. I just don’t.” I wanted to ask for any help I could, any herb, any oil, a certain candle of a certain color, anything all that would let me keep my teeth and my sanity.

With the store busy with a flurry of people I walked up to the counter and made my case, “Do you have any advice? Do you know of anything I can do?”

She motioned for me to follow her to a room behind the counter. She popped her head in and asked to someone, “Can you do a candle for teeth?”

The voice said, “Yeah. Come inside.”

There was a woman, a dew drop shy of 3o if that, dressed in black, her tight woven hair piled high, her hands quickly reaching for multitudes of canisters that lined the wall. She said without looking at me, “I need you to go back in the other room and grab me some fluorite.”

I stood confused, not knowing what fluorite was, but did as I was told and asked the woman behind the counter to help me find some fluorite. She guided me towards some beautiful stones and said, “here you go.” I grabbed one, rushed back into the small little room and handed it to the woman in dreads.

She then started reaching again quickly for different herbs and roots off the large book case in front of her. Her hands dipping into a pile of salt before doing so. “So, what is wrong with your teeth? Do you have cavities?”

“No, I’ve been grinding them.”

She stopped, and finally at looked into my eyes for the first time.

She asked without hesitation, but with concern in her eyes, “What happened?”

“Nothing. I’m having problems with my teeth.”

“No….no no. Something deeper there. Your teeth are the symptoms for something bigger you’re holding onto.”

She looked at my hands. “They are soft. What do you do for work?”

“I knit. I’m a knitter.”

She said, “There is kindness in your hands…These hands do a lot to help people. They help heal people….But, sometimes the healers are the worst at helping themselves. Something inside you still traps you, holds you every night while you grab your teeth,” she said looking at me with curiosity, “and whatever it was that happened, it is very strong and it’s showing itself in your teeth. So, what happened?”

To be continued….

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What A F@$!king Disaster!

My teeth have been bugging me. Don’t worry. Finally have a dental appointment in the morning. If it were up to me? YANK ’em all out. I don’t care anymore! It’s painful, I tell you! PAINFUL!  Replace my gorgeous smile with something more synthetic….Aha! But that clever grin will still be there.

I’ve been dealing with this for YEARS. Another anecdotal realism from my homeless days. Poor nutrition brings about a loss of hair, bad skin, and teeth that cling to your gums for dear life.

I haven’t written my blog in a while because I’ve been pissy on the tooth end (chronically cranky I call it), and extremely busy on the knitting end. Shipping books has gotten better. They show up in the evening, we get down on our knees, me with sharpy in hand. I sign, pass off to Phillip who places the books in envelopes, seals them and BOOOM! We schedule a pick-up for the next day. So they came in one evening, then out the next. Nice flow. :)

I’ve been knitting in stretches that last hours, moments that seem to take over my conscience, knitting in dreams, if you could say.

Any serious knitter knows what I mean. You dig in with those needles and you just keep going. Nothing else in the physical world matters. No pain. You don’t have to be a veteran knitter to know how that feels. Often times, it’s the newer knitters that feel it most. “I’m going to FINISH DAMMIT!”

IMG_2131I knit, toss the piece to the side, then pick up another. For a few days there, I had to let go because of the teeth. The pain so bad, I lay in bed, head propped between two pillows, Mario curled under the covers at my backside…..both of us in a self induced coma. If you’re unconscious you feel nothing. Any serious knitter knows what I mean….

Phillip would sneak up from behind, toss his arms around me and I’d hiss back, “Can’t you see I’m busy??? I’m focused, man!” He’d slip away, head to what he was doing and within a few minutes I’d realize what I had done. I had shunned the one true hero in this endeavor of mine.

I know I’m difficult to be around sometimes. I’m always deep in the trenches of ambition, and sometimes you forget the support you have. I know it can’t be easy to live with me. I’m on a schedule. I’m demanding. I’m distinctly on track…. And he is kind enough to sit back, let me hiss, take my shit….and love me anyway.

IMG_2132So, I wandered through my pile of boxes of books, over Mario (check her out keeping guard). I’m covered in yarn scraps, a bit of tuna casserole on my breath. I tippy-toe, and landed him a kiss. “I’m so sorry, man. Look at this f@$ing disaster! I know it’s chaos in here. I’ve just got so much to do right now. But it will be so worth it one day. I promise.”

He smiles, kisses me on the top of the head (because he IS a giant, you know), and says quite simply with a smile, “It’s ok, sweetheart. I know you’re busy. It wouldn’t be you if this place wasn’t filled with books and teddy bears.”

Thank God, he forgives me.

I’ll curl up beside him, Mario will curl up beside me….and we all look like a bunch of tremendously gay nesting dolls. I spy in the corner and see my disaster….Not really that much of a disaster when you think about it. It looks more like progress. Absolutely. A great way to move the mind into the positive. That pile of yarn and books is the success we’ve been hoping for….

So, we’ll have a messy apartment for a while….the end result will be a life of reward.

Yeah….a life of reward. :)

(burp!) Tuna casserole!

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!

 

 

 

 

 

Yarn Talk Show

I was on twitter recently (rarely there! Busy! Sorry!), but I was made aware of this really cool trio of ladies with a rather impressive online talk show about knitting. They did a really wonderful, and I do mean lovely job, of talking about my work, my life, my history, in such a way that I had to find the girl who did the piece. Found her! Her name is Heidi, and without sounding ungrateful, I think she did a better job than Channel 13 did. (ouch! Now, that wasn’t supposed to sound like that….but, Heidi’s version of MAD MAN KNITTING was more of what I was hoping for.) When I was sent the clip, I was beaming from ear to ear.

vlcsnap-2015-08-02-22h01m39s857“Yarn Talk Show” does an excellent job (in just a few minutes) of pulling this yarn community into conversation. And I respect that more than you can understand. Quite a few yarners out there that want to be cliquish. Not interested in that sort. Love the ones that pull us closer as a group and hold us to our commitment of using our hands, with love, to shape and shift good in the world with our craft.

Do a rather good 10 minute favor to yourself and watch their latest episode on youtube. And smile with me at 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the program :)

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!

 

Book Order Update

For the last month we’ve had books shipped in, signed, then mailed back out in a rotation of 20 to 30 per day. They would arrive, I’d sign them, pack them all up and have them picked up the next day for delivery.

And then it all stopped…I figured they were going to my old apartment, and some did, but the lag time seemed off. Then I received an email from the printer:

“Dear Lulu Customer,
As luck would have it, we had a number of machines malfunction last week that put our print delivery times behind. Unfortunately your order is late in printing and shipping.  The machines are back in business and we are working double shifts to catch up.  You can expect your order to ship by next week.
If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Voice team at www.lulu.com/support or contact us at (844) 212-0689.
Thank you for your business and your patience.
Rachel Braynin”
So, I finally got a confirmation from lulu that the last of my books were heading here and would arrive on my doorstep by Wednesday. We already printed out the postage, smacked them on envelopes and are just waiting for the books to get here. So, Wednesday night, Phillip and I will order a pizza, I’ll sign all of them, hand them to him, he’ll put the in the envelopes and seal them and they’ll be out Thursday the 6th and should be in all of your mailboxes Monday. WHEW!
Sorry about that, everyone. I guess in the course of the move I didn’t realize that days had gone by with no boxes being delivered. I should have paid more attention. But, at least lulu is back up and running and we’re a go!
Thanks for being so understanding.

The Dusk Just Shy of August

I was outside a few minutes ago. Dusk at the end of July calls upon a remembrance so great, I couldn’t resist sharing it.

Sometimes you have to relive the past, because that is where the majesty of where your spirit lives. As much as you want to push it toward the present, and a hopeful future, you have to willingly tread into the back waters.

Some years back, in May of 2007, I randomly met a man online. And I can’t even remember how, but it was so far ago, I think it might have been myspace :) But, we met, we exchanged emails. And a friendship was born. We found ourselves writing to each other daily, and before long, we began talking on the phone.

BM1747810Our talks would begin in the early AM, before the sun woke. One of us would call the other, groggy talk and coffee in hand,  we’d face east, wait for the sun, wait for the new day. There is a powerful moment in this. Each day the sun greets you can be construed as a blank canvas, a tabula rasa. Night, the moon, the stars, all allow you moment of deep reflection….but the sun brightly blasts all of that clean….and you can step into the world given another chance, another moment to make right what you recall hindering you at night.

With our work schedules we found ourselves calling each other just about at dusk in the late summer.

As the humid haze touched the strumming ligustrum leaves, we’d talk about whatever in the world God wished us to hold onto. The bats would dance in the air. Bouganvillas bloom, and crepe myrtles show their foliage, but it was the random vine moving wayward in its step holding as a prize her brilliant blooms for someone who was not there, reminding with each nettle that life blooms indirectly sometimes, not where you can see it, nor hold it, nor feel it….but, sometimes there in the corner where you least expect it.

It was a summer’s coming to a close that all things new in life became real. It was the time in my life when my spirit opened to new ideas, to new adventures. And I took them, ran with them, where the troubles of the mind were ceased, and in the stead of trembling, communion and connection brought release. It was the time in my life where all those ideas and concepts of spirituality finally made themselves actual.

We can pray, but are we prepared truly for when our prayers are answered? I needed a friend then. And I prayed for one.

He carried me with him on the phone through the Moab desert, and I carried him with me on my move back to Savannah. Every step of the day, every minute of the day, we carried each other over the phone on our journeys through life.

I knit socks for him. He wore Birkenstocks….so we called them Birken-socks. (clever, eh?). And in turn he sent me a yarn bag he had crocheted, some Nag Champa soap, and a copy of WREATHTHU. And inscribed on the front page? The testament that we had been learning. “As above, so below.”

Yes, that all you put in the mind will form itself into reality.

My knitting took off that year. Because the knitting wasn’t for me, it wasn’t for my own self gratification. My hands worked the needles for someone else. I was showing affection, care and concern for someone else. Not myself.

And I saw greater projects, better movement in these hands of mine. I saw all that I hoped for come real.

And life moves on. As it should. Things happen, situations change. We move on….Life plays itself as a burden sometimes, doesn’t it? Incidences like homelessness and constantly moving pull you away not only from material things, but from people, too. Hard to keep in touch when no one can figure out where you are sleeping that night.

And we lost contact.

I miss my friend. I truly do.

And all of this was brought about because I was sitting there on my front stoop, just as the dusk just shy of August descended upon me, reminding me of back waters, of old hopes, of an old friend that carried me with him through the desert….reminding me that I would not be the man that I am had it not been for a single voice heard through the dripping dusk of late July, of the contact made with a kindred when so desperately needed.As another day ends with the dusk just shy of august I’m reminded that new things are beginning in my life, my spirit is learning again, seeing all sorts of new possibilities. And I’m reminded of that voice on the phone from so long ago.

I wish him well, I wish him only love and joy.

Before I came inside to write this I faced west instead of east. And wished my friend all the best as the sun set into night….

“Until the day that 8x8x8 is 4”

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!

 

It’s OK to Want More

Phillip and I have officially moved. As a matter of fact, I started moving out of my little 10×20 apartment last Saturday. The electric wouldn’t be transferred from the old place to the new place until Monday. So, we spent the weekend moving my books and yarn into our new apartment. The only thing left in my old apartment Sunday night was a mattress on the floor…..which is exactly how it looked the first night I moved in 3 years ago. Me, Mario, and a mattress on the floor.

When I moved in there we had been homeless and had nothing. But, we had a place to live and that was all I wanted. And that last Sunday night in that little apartment I was allowed a moment to regress, think about the past, the future. I was afforded the moment to think on how far I had come in just a short while. Five years of praying, of waiting, of hoping…..And it all came back to a mattress on the floor. And I told myself Sunday night that I wouldn’t go back there again. I wouldn’t be homeless again. I wouldn’t want for a meal. I wouldn’t WANT.

With head comforted on a sweaty pillow, I lay in bed with bright eyes headed toward the heavens and said, “It’s over….For good.”

And it took an awfully long time to feel, TO FEEL, that I deserved more than I had. I felt guilty for wanting a better life. I felt guilty for wanting a couch to sit on, a new desk to write on. I felt guilty for wanting more.

But,  not anymore. :) I had always said that I wanted to do more than survive. I wanted to thrive. I wanted to be successful. We all know that it isn’t material things that make a man successful, but rather, his desire to do right by the world, to protect his family, and to follow his heart to the fullest. And what made this leap so cleanly was that I wanted to take care of my family. My big franken-freak of a husband and his new best friend, Mario. I wanted more than anything to take care of them, give them a great life, a safe and spacious place to live, and a good meal on the table every night. And I did it. I sleep at night realizing THAT is what has made me successful. I am taking care of my family.

IMG_2088So, we’ve moved into a very nice apartment in a posh part of town. And now it’s my job to keep it, hold onto it…..and accept the gifts the Universe, God, have given me. A loving partner, a best bud in a cat, a great career, safety….and all of you.

Thank you all so much for this amazing life. I’ll never stop thanking you for that. So get used to it!

I think I’ll do 100 more signed copies of “Will Knit For Food” then I think my “virtual” book signing tour will be over.

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!