I am Inspired by YOU

Good Morning! It’s about 7:30 am, a frigid 40-ish degrees outside. (Welcome to Central Florida….I’m freezing my butt off.) Phillip is still crashed in bed, having worked his first full shift at his new job. A good 10 hours under his belt. Expecting him to come home exhausted last night, I found him quite exuberant and joyful. He’s just so happy to be working again. He goes in later today for another 10 hours and he’s looking forward to it.

I’ve been up since about 4am. Which is normal for me. I grab the coffee, turn on the radio to hear the news (by that I mean Coast to Coast AM :) ) and I get to knitting. Between 4am and noon is my most productive time, usually whipping out two of my bears before noon, then setting them outside for the postman (or post girl in my case…tiny little thing with a purple streak and nose ring….my, how things have changed).

But, I thought I’d take a moment to thank all of you that have commented about how much you’ve enjoyed my recent posts. Since I started this blog, I have seen my writing mature, become more internal, more descriptive of the reaction of the soul to the beauty and the hindrances of real life. And I think that comes from my knitting. I truly do. I value knitting as a contemplative process, a method of meditation born from the repetition of knits and purls. And in that time, the mind is allowed to hear all of  the thoughts your brain has been clogged with, and once you clean all of those out, you get a chance to hear the silence of the soul and you learn something. Something I learn deeper and deeper the more I knit, then write.

It’s usually after a good couple of hours of knitting that I sit down to write this blog and I am so thankful that what I write affects people in such positive ways. Better things happen in life when you align yourself with like minded people. And I am amazed at how many wonderful people I have met throughout the sharing of my work. I brought close to me the hope that I was sending forth. I did not dwell on how horrid the world was, could be, will get. Instead, I pushed an optimism that my life would be surrounded by kindness, compassion, and goodness. And I got what I wished for with all of you here reading this :) But, I have to say, for everyone of you that graciously says how much I inspire you, I have to confess that you inspire me so much more. I read about your stories, about your lives, and I’m so proud to be a part of your lives. And you will never truly know how proud I am to have you in mine.

IMG_1436So,  if you’ve enjoyed my posts you’ll be even more amazed at some of the things you’ll read in my book. If you haven’t snagged a copy, please do so, and learn more about this amazing journey all of us have had. And if you have a copy of my book, please tell your friends! Someone commented on how they hoped a publisher would snatch me up. Until then, I’m the publisher, and we have a long way to go before we break the 500 copies sold mark. A LONG way to go. And we also have a long way to go before we’re out of our financial hole and selling my book really is the best way to accomplish that. But, I know I can do it. I’m optimistic that all of my work, knitting and writing alike, will save my little family, will keep this blog alive, and will allow me to continue this wonderful journey that has been made a blessing by you.

Ok. I need to get back to my knitting. I wanna finish this bear up and have him ready to go before Phillip wakes up. I think I’d like to make my fella a congratulatory breakfast this morning before I send him off to his new job. I think nothing says, “Good job, pal!” like a pile of eggs, grits, and bacon.

All of you have a great day! And cast on!

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, and if you appreciate my writing, please donate. Every dollar helps! Your contributions help me keep going and are so deeply appreciated!

 

 

Repost: Advice for the Novice Knitter

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I was asked recently by a beginning knitter if I had any advice when it came to learning the craft and art of knitting. What was funny, was seeing how their face twisted into inquisitive when I was mentioning things that I don’t think they considered, nor had seen in pamphlets. Because I treat knitting as a more metaphysical accomplishment, my concepts on ideas for the novice knitter are a shade different than what you might generally hear.

1. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. There are some knitters out there that will smack you down for not knowing every stitch or technique there is. Smile, remind yourself they were once beginners, too, and carry on with your path. But always smile :) You are learning!

2. Scarves are amazing, but go big when you first learn. Scarves can be a great way to learn basic stockinette and garter stitches, but after a while, I think you get stagnant. You can get easily bored. Go big! Think of a sweater, or socks, anything that will constantly keep you on your toes and learning new things every time you pick up your work. You’ll be surprised at how much you retain, and how much you learn so fast if your brain is open and looking for the next technique needed to finish your first prized piece.

3. Learn to listen to yarn. Go to your local yarn store, pick up hanks and skeins and FEEL them, and listen to how you react to them. A relationship with yarn is no different than it is with people. Some yarn you are immediately attracted to. They feel good, they look right….but, holding it for a while can tell you something different. It can be difficult, demanding, and hard to work with. Looks aren’t everything. Listen to your yarn, see if you agree with each other.

4. On the same hand, don’t dismiss yarn. Just because it is acrylic doesn’t mean it’s bad. Acrylic has an important place in projects. It can be washable and puke friendly (as I like to call it, for the baby’s sake), and can feel quite comfortable. Don’t hesitate to go make a blanket with acrylic. It actually makes more sense. And don’t hesitate to treat yourself to some really good cashmere or alpaca if you have extra cash. Every yarn (like people) have a place in this craft. Don’t dismiss something because it wasn’t made “organically” or isn’t made of “natural fibers.”

5. Learn to be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes. Mistakes are one of the best lessons learned in life. You learn what works, what doesn’t. You learn. So as you work up some of your first pieces, you’ll pull them apart realizing how badly you screwed things up. That’s life, isn’t it? You get something wrong, you try again. You don’t toss the whole thing in the trash and say, “Screw it!” Nope! You see where you went wrong, you learn from it, and you correct it, and begin again.

6. Tithe with your knitting. Your first desire is to knit yourself something. The minute you get the hang of it and get a feel for those needles, your mind leaps instinctively to knitting gifts for others. AND THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT! Knitting is a craft of giving. Always will be. Every time you knit a stitch, you’re putting into life, into reality, a moment of kindness. Whether its a blanket, or a scarf, or socks, you are putting into motion the art of giving. Someone will receive your work. So, as you work up things for yourself, and things for others, be sure to be generous with your new craft. Knit something up for charity sometime, knit up kindness for those in need.

7. Don’t be a knit snob. As the first piece of advice told you not to be intimidating, once you get a handle on things, don’t boast about it, don’t claim yourself a higher degree on a knitting scale. Be proud, but not a braggart. Offer help and advice for anyone struggling. Keep the community close. Anyone who attempts to learn this craft already has a particular gift of giving that should be cultivated and nourished, not dismissed. And no matter how much you learn, there is always MORE to learn.

8. Never knit angry. Your emotions bleed into your work. No matter what is happening in your life, you’ll see it in your gauge, in your stitches. Things going bad? Step back, breathe, pick up those needles and remember, you knit to give of yourself…and the last thing you want is your work to hold all of your bad energy. Listen to music that makes you want to dance, or a show that makes you laugh. But, never knit angry.

9. Hear your thoughts. Knitting can be a moment of meditation. Hear yourself, listen to yourself. It can be a great place of quiet in your mind and appreciate that. Hear closely to the whispers that pop into your head while you knit. You’ll learn so much about yourself.

10. Enjoy yourself. Don’t take this knitting world too seriously. And people who do are probably not as impressive as they appear to be. The action of knitting can be incredibly enjoyable, watching your pieces come to life in the form of a sweater, or a teddy bear! But, the better part comes from finishing it up…and handing it over. You are going to have great moments knitting. You’ll love seeing it all come to fruition, but I promise you, nothing will give you greater joy than watching the smile on the face of the recipient of what you made. Your life, your love, your giving will all be rewarded by that one smile on their face, and it will be beautifully addictive. As a knitter, your great reward is giving. Enjoy that idea while you’re knitting! It should make you smile and knit more!

Remember that when you start to cast on, you’ve already tapped into a better part of who you are, a more giving part, a more connected part of the world and it’s crazy people. And your finished product is your moment of love shown in form.

By all means, share this bit of advice from one old knitter to a new one. This is one of the best communities you could ever be part of.

Now, go cast on!

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Bound Together in Stitches

Phillip and I were talking today about relationships….and how they sometimes end.

Money can be a great test in how much stress a relationship can handle. And Lord knows, we’ve had our fair share of testing. But, we’re still together, doing what we can to keep afloat. We don’t get snitty, we don’t start casting blame, we don’t push each other into a corner and cage each other like animals. We remember and consider with high regard that a good relationship, with the one you truly adore, can handle times of burden. And our’s seems to have done very well.

I was so proud of him yesterday. He had an “audition,” so to speak. He was invited to a chef’s restaurant to prove his skills. He did well, came home employed. I was so proud. But, more so, because of his intentions. He spent the better part of a week pounding the pavement, looking for work. And when he was told he was employed, he came in exceedingly happy, took a shower, got a quick bite to eat, then got back to work on his Strange Friends. Anything and everything he can do to keep us going, he’s willing to do. He’s much like myself in that respect. We don’t crumble. We face it, we battle it, we prove we can handle it. And life is so much easier to handle with someone on your side.

While we were having this conversation today I noticed that I was knitting my bears, and he was crocheting his Strange Friends, and that the stitches we worked up showed a pivotal truth: we were bound to each other by our good intentions, by our need to help the other. And we laughed and said, “We’ll probably miss these days soon….” Oh, what future we may be so honored to have, as to recall when we were flat broke and in love :)

We are each blessed with a relationship that can handle hard times. I’m so grateful for that. So many relationships fall apart because of money. But, our’s seems to be built on a common desire to lift each other up when things fall flat, not blame each other for the misfortune we face. We own our truths, we accept our faults….

Reach now for your loved one and give them a hug, reach for the one that has stood by you and fought with you, and laughed with you, and say nothing. Just be mindful of how hard it is to keep a love going….and that they are still there with you. Then pick up your knitting, or your crochet, and pray as you work up your project, that every stitch you work up brings you closer to them.

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The Clouds Are Passing Fast

In this frail chair, with this humble talent, I’m staring out the window with a gaze upwards, faceted on the stream of clouds boldly pushing through the sky, pushing winter aside, demanding the rites of spring. The rushing blows pull the limbs of the trees steadfast to the ground, as though they step aside to allow the hushed breath of mother nature to bring a new season. Its not like a bend, but more a curtsy. The fluttering leaves seem to be nothing more than a self induced applause of life turning again as it should. A sudden blossom is seen bleeding a bright color in the mass of green.

Should you seek peace, look to the trees. They hold the records of everything we never see, the truth that all seasons come back round again, back to rebirth, back to spring. And look at those clouds up there, moving by so fast….reminding that so is life, that life moves so fast.

I seem to hold myself at my best in spring. I’m not sure what it is, but perhaps it has so much to do with what I’ve learned through this journey of mine. I’m so looking forward to this particular spring, for I claim for myself the same rebirth that mother nature blesses us with. My writing will be better, my knitting will be better. For I am witnessing the world grind in a cycle as it should. I’m allowing myself to be reborn, along with every petal screaming for air, every new creature naively searching for being.

Those clouds rushing past, those trees swaying with graceful ease, remind me to let the new season be, let the past lay where it should, to look forward, to be reborn.

Perhaps I often feel the problems I face so readily are because I’m not allowing with a graceful bow to let life happen naturally. I think that I remain in the past too often, constantly living in my own fall, buried deep by my own winter, and never allowing myself to blossom as life should in spring. Perhaps I’m too entranced with what DID happen to allow what WILL happen. And now I see the clouds leaving me behind…life is leaving me behind the more these boots are stuck in the hallows of rotting leaves and dead ground, the past.

Slowly with one hard pull of the knee upward, I’ll lift myself out, with the wind, towards the bowing limbs of trees, towards the speckled scene of zinnia and daisies, forth towards to the beginning of a new season, into new life, and into the light.

When I have trouble sleeping my mind shifts towards a scene. Humming bees swarm past uninterrupted around me. I sit at a table in the middle of a meadow populated with wildflowers. The sun is warm, the air is crisp, and I brush dandelion floats away from me. I peek over to see my little home, and turn back to the pages to remember my grand life….

I can no longer live as the man who once had life piled upon him. I must be reborn into the man that saw every touch of his hand, every soul he encountered, every experienced he gathered, every word he wrote, every bear he knit as a step forward into a new life, and not a hold on the past.

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And Knitting Around an Evening Fire….

 

I decided to rest my hands for a minute and thank all of you for the great support you’ve shown me. The kind emails and comments are great to see. I truly appreciate that. It’s a great way to start the day. Life ain’t always sunbeams and joy. So, be sure to praise them when you see them. Haven’t felt well the last few weeks, but great comments and the morning sun made me feel so much better. I just sat there and knit as the warmth of both you and the bright rays came to comfort me. Thank you, again, for being so kind to me, for sharing this life with me.

Phillip and I have been talking about possibly leaving the city when our lease expires in July. Maybe it’s time to head back to the woods. It would certainly be less expensive than the city.

It seems the cheapest way to respond to the financial pressure is to leave the city. We’ve thought about going as basic as getting a little camper out in the woods. That’s pretty much what we can afford right now. Trimming out all the unnecessary fat may not be a bad idea. And we often feel that we don’t truly belong in the city most of the time. Despite the expense, there’s just a rule of life that is more aggressive, more “take before someone else does” and a competitive “kill or be killed” philosophy that really doesn’t apply to the way we behave, nor wish to live our lives. My agoraphobia takes me from here to the grocery store two blocks away. Outside of that? We don’t go to movies and restaurants and clubs and bars. No, we prefer sitting at home, listening to music,knitting, writing, having a beer and playing cribbage. Kara comes to visit. But, outside of that, we don’t get much company. And somehow, we like it that way. It’s just WHERE we are dig it is just far to expensive or us to handle.

I imagine in the hierarchy of needs food, clothing, and shelter must be followed with companionship. And I’m hardly lonely. I have Phillip, Bacon, Mario, and all of you. So, I don’t worry to much about having no one around with me. Before, when I was homeless….I had no one. That was much different. I’ve learned a lot more sense then. I’m appreciative of the values that I learned since being out there the first time. I don’t think I would mind at all being out there again…as long as I had my little family of my one broad strong man, two cats, and all of you. Once we get to the woods I can still write and knit to bring in money. We’d have to get Phillip a little car to get him to a job somewhere close by. He’ll continue to work up his Strange Friends in his downtime, and keep those tomatoes and pole beans growing. We’ll have to start finding a way to squirrel away a little money to get that little camper.

We actually romanticize about it lately. Wading through morning flowers covered in dew to get eggs from the chickens. The faint smell of Phillip chopping firewood for us to cook with. Boots covered in the dust of dirt roads. Screaming cicadas announcing the arrival of summer nights. Knitting around an evening fire….

Life would be less expensive, yet more valuable. Life would be remembered again in all the things you forget when you’re in the city. You tend to forget about compassion in the city. You tend to look down when you walk. I want to look up and see every star reminding me of every soul of whose pass I’ve crossed. And as each star brightens and shimmers, I’ll be reminded of how my own spirit has done the same with every one of your embraces.. In the city, you tend to turn away from the anger of man. But, I want to stare it down with every word that I pen, with every bear that I knit. I want to be able to change the world with these things my hand can command: my knitting and my writing. And leaving the city might be the only way to do that. Moving out the woods may be the only way we are going to survive.

But, I’m ok with that. I’m better with having my little family held together, rather than see the stresses of finances pull us apart. We don’t need trendy and flashy. We need only each other and a purpose that is well rooted in the reality of what human connection is supposed to be: caring, giving, compassionate. As E.M. Forster wrote, “Only connect.”

And when did this revelation come about? Sometime early this morning, as we verged on the first of the month when I realized we still need to sell  two bears, one of Phillip’s “Strange Friends,” and few books to finish paying the expenses for this month. One day, I won’t have to write that anymore. One day….. And not because we’ve become massive millionaires and are able to buy more things, but because we stepped back and shed the world of the unnecessary expenses of life. We looked towards having nothing, in order to gain everything in the world that is true.

I day dream: just us and a little camper.

Maybe by stepping back, I’ll be able to look forward to one day having my own Howard’s End.

…..my own Howard’s End.

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Not Revelation, But Remembrance

And I wait each morning for that splash of brilliance that shines right through this front window of mine onto my face, onto my soul. It is neither shrilling, nor blinding. It is instead, a quiet hum of light in rays that lay their light on hope. Every morning, each day, the light comes to remind me that darkness is only momentary, and blessed is he who remembers to hold the light in his hands, to feel its warmth, and remember that when darkness passes, life giving light will return.

When life has moments of brightness and brilliance, do your best to hold onto them, catalog them for later. When darkness comes to take it’s heavy stead, hold close, remain firm, and wait for the light to come again….For, as a promise never broken, the arming, warming light will return again.

You can get through life when you remember daily that bad things will slip past, just as easily as good things will. Its like having this one wonderful piece of knitting that you’ve worked on. And somewhere in the beginning you found a mistake….the rest of the piece is lovely, but not matter what you do, you keep focusing on that one mistake that makes your work, imperfect. As though life were constantly lived like that. The great amount of beauty that pervades you is shut down hard and fast by focusing always on that one simple, frail mistake. And the beauty of the piece? The beauty is that it is recognizable by anyone who sees it as genuine. And again, much like life, purposely imperfect to remind of how our focus seems to naturally shift towards the mistakes in the beginning, never ever fulling taking pride in how much better the knitting got with time, how fewer mistakes there were, and how that one mistake in your stitches never really amounted to much anyway.

Over the last few days I’ve been remembering things that were revealed to me at a time when I needed them. And that is this: I am a coward if I wallow and fall apart when I am handed my fair share of life’s misgivings, and that I am ungrateful when I don’t gleefully smile and relish when blessings are loved upon me.

Loved upon me.

IMG_2524What great phrase. Makes me sit back for a second and think of all the things loved upon me. These hands that can spin out a teddy bear, this heart that can deeply connect with others, that morning sunbeam through the window, this cat in my lap, that wonderful husband of mine outside growing us tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant for extra food, and each and every one of you that comes here to share your life with me. Blessings are an act of destiny, or God. But, acts of love, gestures of love, reminders of love, they all come from basic human connection. What great beauty is revealed when I remember how loved upon I am.

….how we all are.

We’ll do fine. All of us. Like the promise of the morning sun reminds, we’ll do fine.

I promise.

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Hear That? That Was Truth Talking….

As much as I try to be optimistic and hopeful with this blog, there are some days where positive emotions elude me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We all have our slight moments where we have to recognize truth, let it fill us with harshness, deal with it, then proceed back into the lives that we’ve designed for ourselves. If optimism is what you preach, then optimism is what you will get. If pessimism is your tactic, then by all means, have all the pessimism coming to you.

The last two days have been my turn to reconcile with truths. I was ill again yesterday. My health isn’t getting any better. And because of my arm and teeth being as wrecked as they are, I know all of it is intertwined.

We made some chicken soup from scratch and had the bed set up for me to climb in and rest again. But, I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t going down again. There’s far too much to do. So, I sat in a chair with an afghan piled on top of me, sipped my soup, and did my knitting. While sitting there knitting, truth decided to scold me. I had no choice but to listen.

Teddy bear and book sales plummeted over the last month. And I do mean dropped. I am knitting as fast as I can, but it’s just  not fast enough for some. And I understand that. Most of you have been so supportive and patient and you wait and wait and wait, and finally the bear arrives and I can’t tell you how kind it is of you to write me and tell me how worth the wait was. But, some have been disappointed. You have been loud, and I have heard you, and I apologize so deeply that I’m not knitting as fast as I once did. I truly do. I want you to be so happy when you finally get your bear and you realize what that bear represents, what that bear symbolizes. And I promise you. It really is the perfect teddy bear.

It would have made everything so much better for everyone had obstacles not slowed me down. But, they did. And it angers me that we could have survived a financial dip like this, had the IRS not confiscated the money we had scraped up to save. But, all of this is completely my fault. I can’t place blame on anyone. My health and finances are a result of choices I made five years ago.

Phillip’s hours were cut at the restaurant to 20 per week. He’s managing to keep at least those because he volunteered to take the position of dishwasher. Otherwise, I don’t think they would have kept him as a prep cook.

So truth quietly told me that I’m not getting healthier and that sales are down, finances are in the toilet. So, what do you do?

You pick your needles up and get back to work. You rest when you need to, push harder when you can, but you never ever back away and say, “I can’t do it.” Giving up has never been an option of mine. I wouldn’t have made it this far if it weren’t for my tenacious desire for a better life. And not just for myself, but for every single soul I touch with my writing and my bears. Be mindful! It isn’t a life filled with champagne and caviar, but a life honed in greatly on the simple.

So, I heard what truth had to say, acknowledged it, and squarely grabbed a space in my head where I could remain a fighting optimist, and got back to work. Health, arm, and teeth be damned…I have Phillip, Mario and Bacon, my books and bears to sell, and all of you to keep my heart warm. And all of that should get me through anything, right?

But, in all honesty, I’m awfully scared that we might not make it.

 

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The Family That Knits Together….

To begin with, I’m so very glad that so many of you truly enjoyed the first “Guest Blogger” post. I really enjoyed doing that, and I’ve gotten a few responses in my email. All great stories. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. I’m looking forward to making this blog a platform for so many more people, so many more voices and experiences in this lifting craft of ours.

Secondly, thanks for all the great birthday wishes! Truly kind of all of you to celebrate my birthday with me. And if it were up to me? I’d make January 4th  National Croquet Day. :) That meant so much to me. We still haven’t recovered from our disastrous tax bill, and my health hasn’t been at its best. But, a day of croquet with my husband, leaving all the sourness behind, was the best present I could have gotten. I’m still trying to push my book to help pay off that debt, and Phillip is doing his best to work up some more of his “Strange Friends.”

IMG_2289By the way! Today is our one year anniversary! It’s true when they say you should marry your best friend, the one who makes you laugh, the one that makes you want to do great things for a greater good, and the one that knows when you’re down and does something ridiculous to make you snap out of your scowl and go full grin. Now, look at that picture. Who wouldn’t want to marry that? Yep! I was having a bad day, and he pops in wearing that hat….how could I not laugh? How could I not throw everything into perspective and chuckle?

My mother came down for my birthday. Now, I haven’t seen my mother in 4 years. We talk on occasion, but there was some mending that needed to happen. I don’t need to get into that, but I’d readily like to say, those things have passed. We look forward. We don’t dredge hard feelings. We forgive. We embrace. We move on.

vlcsnap-2016-01-15-08h04m14s938It was a nice weekend visit. And at one point, we were all on the couch knitting and crocheting, gossiping about the Real House Wives (mercy), and laughing at our own foolishness. And that was when the mending began. But, more than that, this was when the embrace began, all through a craft we all share. And it caused me to think, that when a family in some trouble can manage to enjoy doing something together, you’ll find interesting things happen. So many homes are disgraced with each face peering into their own devices, phones, tablets, televisions…..never sharing. But, I saw that a family that spends moments sharing and enjoying each others company really does simple, yet miraculous things for connection.

vlcsnap-2016-01-15-08h04m38s731It was the first time my mother had met Phillip, and she thoroughly enjoyed him, saying, “I see why you adore him so much. He’s a very sweet man. I enjoy watching how you two interact. You compliment each other wonderfully. And I love watching the two of you laugh all the time.”

And now that I’ve taught Phillip to crochet, and he’s having a fun heyday with his “Strange Friends,” we spend much more time together, both on the couch, sharing our thoughts quietly and quickly, laughing when necessary, hushing each other when it’s important. (I laugh now that the tables are turned and I start to speak and he says, “SHHHHH! ……I’m counting…..)

I can’t help but smile. I’m poor as a church mouse…..but, blessed with so much. :)

IMG_2164So, if you can, grab a copy of my book and keep this beautiful life going. We actually really need that. We REALLY need that.

Thank you all so much for everything. And Phillip! I know you’re reading this, so Happy Anniversary! I love you, you big goon!

 

 

Guest Blogger: “It’s Better Than Feeling Sorry For Yourself.”

( Cathy is my first guest blogger. Loved her article on knitting! These are the kinds of stories I’m looking for. Be sure to check out her blog!)

During summer 2008, my life crumbled. Due to an orphan neurological disease, I gradually lost my job, my flat and a bunch of friends.

Soon, I would spend most of my time in hospital beds or in doctors’ waiting room.

Luckily for me, I learned how to knit and crochet as a child, and I decided to borrow some needles, grab some yarn and buy second-hand knitting books.

So I started bringing my yarn and crochet to hospitals. I always found crochet to be easier to carry in a bag. It doesn’t matter if you rip it up, it’s easy to mend.

I needed something to focus on, to forget about the smell and the noise. And we all know those gossip magazines just don’t do the trick. Knitting and crochet does.

Crocheting while waiting for an appointment had such a soothing effect. Not only on myself, but on other patients, too. Nurses would stop by and talk about their favorite crochet stitch. Older patients would stare at me, and men would often tell me how I reminded them of their mother.

Often, it wasn’t even properly done. I couldn’t see very well, my hands were shaking and would often forget the pattern. But every single loop was a second stolen from the gloom and despair.

In waiting rooms, I made this black mesh shawl. I spent hours of insomnia learning the pattern by heart from a book. Again, I felt like I had to learn something, create, as a way of enjoying life. It isn’t perfect but I noticed no one ever stops by to say I’ve made a mistake. And nurses are so much nicer when you try to do something instead of complaining all the time.

Then everyone around me started making babies.

I had never knit baby items. All I could knit at that time was basic scarfs or shawls.

I thought I would never be able to knit something wearable.

But I decided to overcome my insecurities, and looked for easy baby jackets. My mum found the pattern she knitted for my siblings and myself, and it was a very moving moment to read the pattern, cast it on with those very same needles she used 30 years ago and feel like I was knitting the same stitches as she once did.

I actually translated this pattern in English so everyone can share the feeling. Knitting for babies was very moving, because I can’t have kids, so it’s my little gift to humanity. Some people conceive the babies and I wrap them in warm, comfy baby jackets.

As soon as I was able to walk the streets of Paris again, I was shocked by the increased number of homeless people living in our streets. And I decided that on top of offering food and talking with them, I would bring them home-made hats.

bonnet donI only knew how to knit in the round with double-pointed needles, and with my hands shaking so badly it soon became obvious that I had to find another way. Again, it was an opportunity to overcome my fear of the circular needles. And I started knitting piles of hats. Knowing that, of course, it wasn’t much, but hoping it would make people feel like someone had thought about them. Hoping to make them smile.

I believe happiness is about making others smile. And knitting is a wonderful way of spreading joy and peace around you. From teaching people how to make their own customized perfect hat, to mesmerizing kids while knitting in public transportation,

whenever I see yarn, I forget about the pain. I just grab my needles and cast on something. Anything. It’s always better than feeling sorry for myself.

(If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please feel free to email me your story to madmanknitting@gmail.com. This blog is about all of us….)

 

Casting on, Thanks to Morrissey

The New Year has much to offer, and I’m one of those rare fellows that believes that today is the official last day of our holiday love. Epiphany. Or Three Kings Day. The tree came down, the little cranes we folded were placed aside (to be sent in any future boxes that get shipped out, to promote an idea of simple peace), and life goes back to normal.

I’m looking forward to the New Year. I have a lot of goals to achieve. Life can get hard sometimes, but I promise you, that if you stick to your faith, to your hope, stay close to those that love you and place good goals in your path everyday, you’ll do fine. The intention to live is much better than the actual goal itself. Those who face life sour will, in fact, face a sour life. (That was me just now…not Confucius.)

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-17h42m23s506I’m really feeling like this could be the year we make progress. I really do. I think we can do wonderful things this year. And that all begins tomorrow. Before we officially put the holiday season to rest, I’ll treat you with a video we promised. Birthday croquet, courtesy of Morrissey. It’s silly and frightful, but have fun. Click here to watch.

Tomorrow? Casting on….And don’t forget to snag my book!