As Autumn Releases the Inner Knitter

That must be one of the coolest things about autumn…..errr, pun intended!

As the temperature slowly drops to allow the relief of crisp air, we start getting cozy, don’t we? We start baking, we start heading for the couch to collapse under a comfy afghan to binge watch, and we start knitting like crazy. Maybe it’s a nesting thing, maybe its the idea that we need to start busting out Christmas gifts for loved ones, or maybe it’s just because we’re gonna need warm socks for the coming winter. Whatever the reason, autumn is definitely the knitter’s season.

IMG_2309I’m going to be busting out teddy bears until well into December so I can get my teeth fixed before the new year. Others start knitting up sweaters and socks, or scarves and cowls. Everywhere you step, you start to see the inner knitter in many people begin to show themselves. In cafes, park benches, and bus stops, Fall calls to the nesting crafter to start your projects for the season. And the best part? New knitters emerge, ready to embrace this meaningful craft in innocent ways: they want to give out handmade Christmas gifts, and are ready and willing to learn the stitching and purling needed to make that happen.

So, let’s all make sure to knit more and more in public as the Knitter’s Season approaches. Say hello to your fellow knitters, and encourage new ones that ask questions. Make new knitting friends along the way, and share your needles with those in need of a lesson. And above all else, smile and remember our craft is one of giving :)

Now, go grab a cocoa and cast on!

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Knitting With the Papacy

I was quite excited for the Pope’s visit last week. I think even non-Catholics felt a truly overwhelming sense of peace and compassion pervading the air. I believe it was being called The Frances Effect. And on some of the pundit, talking head shows, they even somberly posed the question, “Will this lifting sense of joy fall away when the Pope leaves?” The question was probably asked because once the Holy Father leaves the States and heads home we’ll all go back to our normal lives….and sadly, I think our daily routines don’t often hold as much peace and compassion as they often should. That must be why the religious use icons and scapulars and rosaries, as constant reminders of sacrifices made, sacrifices given, and the reward and joy that only comes from being connected to the heart.

Once the Pope made it to Washington and started giving speeches, I was glued to the radio. I grabbed my knitting and sat perched on the edge of this chair of mine and dutifully listened to what he had to say. I know that many of us were dead set on trying to categorize and classify the Pope’s message as either right leaning, or leftist. Which somehow bothered me. It was as if they weren’t taking what he had to say to heart…they were just listening for code words to politicize his statement. Can you imagine tolerance and grace being only afforded to one political party? Nonetheless, I was sitting with my knitting, hearing what he had to say, and (always looking for signs), I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard the Pope address congress and not only mention, but quote one of my most beloved heroes, Thomas Merton. What a wonderful, delightful surprise!

And with a big smile, I looked down to my knitting and remembered my teddy bears. It is to those I owe my daily remembrance of compassion, not only received, but also given. I reminded myself that every time I pick up my needles and knit a teddy bear, that I was connecting to the compassion in daily life.

So, I feel like I’m on the right path, so to speak. If the best of life is born of quiet humility, then I think we should all consider ourselves blessed. If the smallest of actions brings joy into the world, then let the simple smile of contentment on your face fervently bring peace and compassion to our daily lives long after the Frances Effect is gone.

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Too Many For My Liking

Phillip and I were out running about yesterday. It wasn’t so humid, wasn’t too hot, so we grabbed our bikes and went to get supplies. Yarn, poly fill, boxes, groceries….We hit Joann’s first, and on our way back, rode through Colonial Plaza to run into Staples and Hobby Lobby. I saw about 5 homeless guys lingering about. I see them often and have learned to hold my heart tight. Then we headed to Publix and I saw 3 more sitting outside. And as we moved towards home, I noticed another 3 or 4 more walking down Colonial. But, the clincher was when we decided to hit the library. (Been looking for Thomas Merton books-harder to find than I thought). We passed through Lake Eola on the way and the entire park was filled to near capacity of homeless men. And outside the library, probably a good 10 more. Then, inside the library, practically every chair was filled with another one. By all estimates it seemed throughout our day we had seen more than 50 (50!) homeless men in a one mile square area. 50!

Now, keep in mind I made notice of how other people reacted. They behaved as though they didn’t see them. As though they didn’t even exist. These men were no more impressive than street signs or shrubbery…..or a floating piece of discarded trash, hovering close to the curb and gutter. And then I saw some reacting with disdain, clearly sneering with a word bubble over their head as they turned up their noses as if to say, “There are too many for my liking.” And that same phrase popped into my head. But, for such a different reason. Yes, there are far too many for my liking. Does anyone else not see how MANY homeless there are in this one square mile? Don’t you find that incredibly strange? There is a real problem here!

I see them often, I notice them daily, but it’s usually only 1 to 4. Nothing more. And I lower my head and think, “I can’t help you right now, buddy. But, I will be able to someday soon. I promise you. I’ll be able to help someday soon.” However, I have NEVER seen more than 50 in a day and in such a small area. What happened? Did it happen overnight? Or was it gradual? One more person made homeless per day….And what happens now? What do we do?

The mayor of Orlando is announcing his budget today. Included is a huge chunk of money to help combat homelessness in Orlando. But, what does that mean? Combat how? More shelters? More programs? That doesn’t work as much as prevention. Homelessness is a symptom to a much deeper problem. And it must be taken case by case. Some of those guys are addicts. Some are mentally ill. Some slid into debt and expenses like they hit an oil patch, couldn’t hold on, and just collided with real life. So, we can’t just treat this problem AFTER it’s happened, it must be dealt with well before it has someone on the streets.

We, as individuals with kind hearts are the ones that must do that. We shouldn’t wait for government programs. We shouldn’t wait to see a man sleeping on a bench, or a woman crouched beside her shopping cart. That’s too late. We offer kindness, assistance, hope, prayer, and yes, money.

I was asked recently if I had any advice for someone about to face homelessness and I erupted with, “If I knew someone headed that direction, there is NO WAY I would let it happen. I’d offer a space on my floor, share my meals with them, do something, anything to keep that from happening. I could not IMAGINE knowing someone about to become homeless and simply ALLOW it to happen and THEN offer advice.”

We are a good hearted species. We don’t allow things to happen, then correct them. We prevent them from happening first, with our understanding and our prayers and our selflessness.

Someday I will be able to do something. For myself? It starts with teddy bears. I’ve always wanted to be successful financially so I could a lot more philanthropic. I would pay back to the good world what it has blessed me with. I may not be able to help now, but I can surely write about it. Discuss it when I can, and bring attention to the need for prevention, rather than a cure. And never forget, when it comes to the human soul, human needs, not one size fits all. People are individuals, each with their own hearts and minds in need of a greater compassion that comes from a true understanding of who that individual is, and what pains them distinctly.

We should remember that before we start grouping them into a category as simple as “The Homeless.”


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.

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8PM Bliss

First? I can’t thank all of you enough for the support and prayers. That means so much to me. The outpouring of encouragement is enough to humble someone. And trust me, I could definitely feel it.

So, after I wrote my post on Monday, I got my antibiotics and started taking them at noon. Here we are two and a half days later and I feel a LOT better. I can’t eat massive solids, but the pain is definitely withering down to almost non existent. I’ve been eating a lot of soup. Tried to move up to crackers, but eh, not so fast. So, I just let them dissolve into the soup. Tried some cheese, and that works better, but for now? I’m ok with exploring the nifty world of soup. (I pureed the lentil soup to make it easier and man, that was delicious). Been drinking lots of chamomile just to mellow out, and that with a hot bath, while reading Calvin and Hobbes is one knitter’s bliss. Now, all we have to do is wait to have the extractions, which the earliest will be next Wednesday….. or the Wednesday after, depending on how finances go. Then? Then it’s denture time. Wow…..

Oh, well. Time to pony up, be a man and accept it. It’s amazing to me that of all the hardships I have stared at and conquered, this whole business with my teeth terrified me to no end. Not so much anymore, not since I’ve accepted the inevitable and decided to embrace it. I keep thinking on the positive side. That’s what I do best. I do my best to remain optimistic. Within a month my mouth will be repaired enough to have a steak dinner…..and all the Jelly Bellys I damn well please.

And speaking of knitting, my productivity has been a lot better, too. Without the distraction of a nail being hammered into my jaw, I actually have gotten a LOT more knitting done. Got lions and tigers and bears, oh everywhere.

So, just wanted to thank all of you for the prayers! Just wanted to let you know that they were heart felt. Thank you!

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.

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3AM Eternal

For a good week now I’ve been going to bed at the usual time, somewhere around 11. But, at 3am, I seem to wake, moaning, quietly screaming from tooth pain. I’ll get up, get to knitting and do what I can to ease the pain. And I have tried everything. Prayer, meditation, garlic cloves, onion bulbs, hot baths, humorous distractions (laughter), and acupressure under the chin bones. Nothing worked. Nothing at all.

Then tonight I woke up at midnight instead of 3am. I snuck out of bed and headed towards my yarn. A snoring Phillip left behind, sprawled in bed. (and he’s huge, so trust me, when he sprawls….well, he conquers all available space). I lit my candles (sacred hearts-more on that on another post), fired up some Absolutely Fabulous, and started to knit.

But, the pain is just amazing. It is relentless. And some of you may ask, why haven’t you taken any drugs for this? Because it’s a holiday weekend. Simple. Before? Yeah, no problem. I’ll take the pain, focus on something else. When you’ve been poor and without, you learn to take the pain.

But, tonight? Or this morning, rather? It’s driving me crazy. It is sharp, concise, and distinctly ripping my face with a stabbing detail.

So, I thought I’d just ask for your prayers. I haven’t had my teeth extracted yet, because….well, because I’m terrified. It’s an acknowledgement of a poorly lived life that I can’t escape. But, here we are, and as days progress, it’s just gets worse and worse…..

Even Phillip is now cross with me, citing often, “I am SO tired of seeing you in pain. I won’t have it anymore. YOU WILL get this corrected.”

So, while I wait for my appointment, and watch the world cease for a few days to shrug off labor, I’m here in pain, knitting my little heart out, and trying to remain distracted with hot baths while reading Calvin and Hobbes. (honestly, that’s when I feel the best).

I’ve been clinging to my new rosary (again, more on that later), but hope while the hours scream by with stabbing pain that you’ll just pray for me. All of you always make me feel so much better, so thoughts of you holding me, comforting me, and praying for me would make me feel so much better.

It’s now 6am. Gonna try and crash for a minute.

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.

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i am reminded that my spiritual journey is on going.

….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.

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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.

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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!