A Very Surprising Ravelry Thread

There has been so much going on in my little world. If you saw the simple post I wrote a few hours ago, I wrote about comfort needed when your heart is bruised. And to be truthful, the last couple of days my heart has felt really hurt. I try to remind Phillip that the more people know you, the more they hate you. Having your face and name out in the internet can be dangerous. People will want to hurt you for no other reason than they don’t want to see you succeed. It is a sad part of the territory, but there you have it. If you want to realize your dreams, you’ll have to combat people that want to shred you, tear you down, based usually on their own insecurities. They aren’t living their own dreams, so they’d like to rob you of yours.

If you have followed this blog for a while you have seen how people can come at me hard, come at me fast, and use lies to perpetuate a viral desire to destroy. The same ones that denounce bullying and demand inclusiveness are the first to begin bullying and pushing people out. They utilize the wicked habit of mobilizing people with emotions, rather than facts, in order to destroy someone they have never met, never knew before, never even had dealings with, in order to obtain some false sense of power. They control who lives and dies. Yes, I’ll say it. Many of the same ones that rescued me from homelessness were the same ones that decided I was a conservative, getting too much attention, wasn’t following the rules of identity, and should therefore, be put back in the “gutters where we found him.”

I get to see where traffic comes from on this blog. And I large amount of traffic was coming from Ravelry, which always makes me nervous. Ravelry threads are notorious for belittling and bullying. You’ve seen many of them. So, I clicked on the link to read the thread, waiting for another one of those pointed finger links that screams, “There’s the guy! HIM! GET RID OF HIM!!!!”

I was surprised. Let me rephrase that. I was surprised to the point of tears. It was a thread started about my writing….about how I should win some sort of journalism award for my hurricane pieces. About how my books were such a thrill to read, how people were so happy to see me finally (after all of this PAIN) finally begin to reach my dream.

I needed that. I really did. When you think the world is totally against you, when the loud ones throw temper tantrums demanding you be destroyed, when you think you’re ready to pack it in and walk away, you see how many people DO appreciate you and enjoy your work. I really REALLY needed to read their comments, how they were discussing my books with absolute enjoyment. (I’m going to start crying again if I’m not careful).

So, if you’re reading this post direct from the thread on Ravelry, I can’t thank you enough. You made a bruised heart turning bitter, beat with more of the tenderness he is accustomed to. Thank you SO much.


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A Bear for the Bruised Heart

We all get hurt on occasion, as hard as we try to hide away from pain, sometimes our hearts get a little damaged, not broken, but simply bruised. Sometimes the easiest thing to cling to isn’t something perfect and grand, but something slightly worn and rough, familiar and old, comforting in its reminder of simplicity. Teddy bears are experts at healing the bruised heart, and the rougher looking bears are often the softest to hold. They look a little worn because they’ve been with you every time you’ve felt hurt, they look a little aged because they spend their days loving you back more than anyone else ever could. So, I made up this little bear for anyone with a bruised heart; a bear to hold, to banish your sorrows, to ease the harshness of the world, and to remind you that you are never alone. If you’d like him, click here.


You Love This Craft, You Love This Chaos

We all have moments in life that scream of a need for serenity. Knitters especially. We tend to have WIPS everywhere (“works in progress” for you non knitters), skeins half worked, projects half finished, piles and piles and piles of things we enthusiastically started, but let fall aside. Maybe we didn’t love the yarn as much as we thought we would. Maybe the pattern doesn’t work like we thought it should. Maybe LIFE just got in the way. And when you have a chance to get back to your knitting, you just feel as though you’d like to move on to a new project. THAT project was for THEN. Life is different now, I want something new to knit.

I’m no different. I’m just as chaotic with my WIPS as any one of you. I LOVE LOVE LOVE knitting my teddy bears. They pay my rent, put food on the table. They give me a purpose. Sometimes I want to do something else. I’ll move on to socks while watching a movie, oh wait! I love this new skein, let’s see what I can do with it, Phillip wants a set of fingerless gloves, my mother’s birthday is coming up, started (DAMN! missed it), neighbor asked me how to knit a hat, wouldn’t this yarn make a wonderful baby peacoat! How about a sweater for myself that I’ll be able to finish in 10 years with this skein, what about that brown that would have made a great bear? Is that Caron Cakes? NO WAY! Let’s get to work on an afghan! I don’t crochet as much as I should. Bring out the thread! Let’s get to work on a vintage pattern for a table cloth!…… and on it goes.

I think it has to be because we’re all so enthusiastic about this craft that we want to constantly explore, play, and try. Like being in a room full of puppies. That’s what knitters are like in yarn stores. Like being in a room of puppies. All the glee and love comes pouring out and it can’t be stopped. We hold those skeins like baby dachshunds, cuddling them, feeling them against our faces, eyes bright and thinking how complete our lives will be when we bring them home. Then we come home one day to find a pile of madness everywhere, the sort baby dachshund would leave should you let him be unattended for too long. A really GOOD knitter can look at that and say to you honestly, “I have no idea what I was thinking…..” We all do it. “I fell in love with that skein, that project….then love fell out.”

Life is chaotic enough. WIPS only add to it. Like a nasty little wagging finger that tries to remind that you’re too distracted, you don’t finish what you start. I hate when fingers wag at me. More so, I dislike when my yarn tries to tell me I’m too chaotic. But, that’s the beauty in yarn. It bleeds so much of what you are thinking, or what you want. All those unfinished things, gathered skeins, and attempts at something new scream something quietly about you: you love this craft, you love this chaos…

Every knitter is an adventurer, our chaotic WIPS show that. And how do we combat that? Don’t even try….That is who we are: rescuers of baby skeins 🙂

Despite what a therapist might tell you, I think you should continue in the chaos, keep those WIPS working. It shows how much we love to try new things, how enthusiastic we are about working other people’s patterns…..how much we REALLY love this craft.

That’s the sign of a good knitter.

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Possums Can Survive Storms

So, as you may have read in one of my previous posts, I was working on a possum the days after the hurricane came through. It seemed right for some reason, knitting aside all the fallen trees, the humidity clinging to everything. And in all that I was reminded that though we live in an awfully large city, the central part adjacent to downtown is still quite green and teaming with wildlife. We have bears that sleep in trees outside the courthouse, coyotes and owls that remind us not to leave our pets unattended, and possum blindly strolling along the cobblestone just an hour shy of rush hour.

A possum seemed right. The first one I did received a home FAST. He was outta here in no time. Bundled in a box to tell stories about his own experience in the storm, what he did to survive, and now that his tree has fallen, he’s grateful to be heading to a place where he can hang upside down again. I had to make another one right away. I like knitting up new animals. I’m actually thinking of doing a fox next, maybe a giraffe. Why not? The possum was a great success, I thought. So, if you’d like to give him a new home, a new tree to hang from, he’s made of wool, measures about 15″ from head to toe and ready  to go! Just click here. 

And Maria? You’d better not even THINK about coming this way…..

Oh! and be sure to check out the mouse that’s been hanging around the yarn truck, too!

“Knit No Harm….”

It was about 2am, the storm having rolled through 24 hours prior. The electricity was gone. I had tossed and turned for the better part of the evening. I struck up my little gas burner, made some coffee, grabbed some candles and my knitting and went back to the bedroom.

It was strangely quiet that night. An ethereal quiet that we rarely experience as humans. We’re always so attached to something outside of ourselves.

I think people don’t want to be detached. They may say they want to be left alone, but the truth is, we’re only left alone from other people, not from the noises of devices, radios, television and the rest of the media in general. So, while we may knit quietly by ourselves, there is usually the absence of silence, and with that, no true isolation and stillness.

There was no murmur of the city. No distant television, nor blaring radio beating the window panes with the bass line from a passing car. No whispering voices as people walk by. No laughter, no crying. There was no hum of an air conditioner kicking on. I didn’t feel just as though I had been submerged into total silence, but that I was alone in the world. There wasn’t the evidence, nor even the suggestion, of another living soul anywhere in the world.

The room looked completely different, the shadows having changed from one place born of an electric light being flicked on, to those a more ghostly sort; one that danced from the candle flames, giving different movements to the darkness. The shadows brought forth from the electric lamp were always stationary, lifeless. These new shadows gave breath to the room, as they shivered and shook, growing dim, then illuminating again.

I picked up my needles and began to knit, guided mostly by the feel of the stitches, rather than sight. The bamboo size 3’s moved with a silent clack as they brushed against each other, the wool whispering as it flowed through my fingers. My only companion was that place in my heart, in my soul that doesn’t compete with the constant jabbering of the mind. The mind uses words and sounds and pictures to entertain us. The interior of us, the soul, uses only feelings.

In the presence of some unknown span of time, I began to feel things that I hadn’t in so long. I was looking down at my knitting, at another teddy bear. This right here, this moment, in this isolation and silence was where I belonged, or rather, may have been brought back to so that I could remember something that may have been forgotten.

My place in the knitting community has always been on the edges of it, calling to the center to discuss knitting’s more contemplative aspects, its bearings on the soul, its framework for optimism, its catalog of graces on the spirit. I’m not the one that teaches you how to stitch, nor what to make, but what the action itself does for you as a person in this detached world we live in, and none of it done through instruction, but through experience. For instance, I don’t knit teddy bears. I knit a story about how a man knit himself out of homelessness, born in the form of a bear. It’s not a stuffed toy, but rather a symbol of hope and optimism in the darkest hours of your life.

We forget as crafters that all things born of these hands must come from a place of good. But, sometimes we knit things to show how well we can do them, or to show how much better we do them than someone else. Sometimes we knit to compete. Sometimes we knit to show our hatred for someone. Sometimes we gang up on people with our knitting. In those moments we think we’re doing the right thing. But, we’re not. We’re just adding more fuel to the mad fire that has consumed this world, just adding more negativity to the spaces and realms that we all occupy. And I will readily confess that over the last year I lost some part of myself and became guilty of behaving the same way. It is so easy to be wrapped up in the emotions of pain and anger, fanned by the noisy devices that influence our minds….that we forget to listen to the quiet part of us that never shouts, never screams. That part of us can only be found in silence.

In that silence I remembered feeling for people I had never met, in places I had never been, who’s lives were now a part of mine because we shared a love for this craft. We reached out to each other, connecting in ways that were well beyond knitting. We were sharing our stories, our souls, our heartbreaks and joys. In a world that is divisive and fueled on ideas of separation, we became connected through the manifested things born of hanks and skeins. We became connected by our desire to bring good into the world with what we knit. And in that silence, I remembered how good that felt. I remembered how warm it was to feel that none of us were alone as long as we shared that desire.

The sun began to rise, and as though surfacing from a trance, the room started to take on a more familiar hue. Birds broke the silence with their announcement of morning. I felt different, challenged to always hold a piece of that silence with me where ever I went, whenever I knit, remembering that shared connection that begins with the shearing of the wool from one part of the world, and all the people it passes before it rests in my hands. I was reminded to keep an open door to that room of silence in my heart, so that I would always be able to enter it so that my knitting would never manifest anything other than good. For we manifest what we feel more times in the day than we realize.

There is the idea in some philosophies that you should, “do no harm….”

I yearn for the day when the over whelming feel of the knitting community is to, “knit no harm…..”

If you appreciate the writing in this blog and would like for it to continue, please feel free to donate. Every dollar helps and we certainly do appreciate it! Or you can buy a pdf copy of one of my books in our shop. 


The Residue of the Storm

I can’t believe it has been one week since the storm made its arrival. What a very long week it has been. Life is slowly heading back to normal. Publix is finally fully stocked, traffic lights are working, and most of the city has power again. There is still this lingering exhaustion in the air. Everyone is simply TIRED. And they have every right to be. I applied for disaster assistance, but I was declined. The minimum power outage required for assistance is 5 days, while we were only without power for 3. But, that’s fine. I know there are going to be a swarm of people needing those funds much more than we will just rebuild their homes.

So, Phillip and I have been doing double duty knitting and crocheting, coming up with new ideas and new things to play with. I did a possum and a hound dog for the yarn truck (what pick up truck doesn’t have a hound dog?) Phillip did another Strange Friend, but is also now doing Strange Friend hats. I know, right? They’re brilliant. Outlandish. Like headdresses. You can find all those in our shop. He’s also been applying for any and every job he can find. Dish washing, flipping burgers, what ever he can find, even if its only part time, its a step in the right direction towards getting us financially back on track. The yarn truck is fine, but waiting a week or two to build more inventory before we head out again. I’m also working on a blog post that I’ll put up in a day or two, something I eluded to in my last one: about what I learned in the 2am silence the morning after the storm, knitting by candlelight. I think you’ll be surprised.

You have to remain optimistic in times like these. Optimism breeds enthusiasm and the energy needed to leap over hurdles. Hopelessness breeds depression and dismay….and nothing will get done.

Its Saturday night. I always look forward to Saturday night. Its our movie night. We really could use that. It’s been a long week, so I’m insistent that we watch a comedy 🙂 Take a long hot bath and read some Calvin and Hobbes, make some dinner for us, and finally plop on the couch in my comfie knit socks and refresh, allowing laughter and comfort to wash off the residue of the storm.

If you appreciate the writing in this blog, please feel free to donate. Every dollar helps and we certainly do appreciate it!

The Post Hurricane Post

Good morning! Its about 8am in sunny storm ravaged Central Florida. The sun is just beginning to stream through broken and battered trees. The shadows they lay look like dark skeletal remains on a battlefield.

We finally got power back about 3am this morning. For three days we’ve done without electricity, internet, communication. We were beginning to feel drained, doing our best to keep our spirits up, and minds distracted, but no matter what you do, you can’t hide your feelings from your partner. We could see worry in each other’s faces. No matter how many games of cribbage you play to keep your mind off the situation, you can still tell what the other one is thinking.

The storm hit Saturday night, harsh and wicked, like a brutal liar. It wasn’t supposed to even get this close, let alone come straight for us. Once the power was out, the winds whipped up worse than I have ever witnessed, nor heard, in any prophetic, apocalyptic language. You could hear the trees crunching, as though giants were slowly strolling through our town, breaking mighty oaks into splinters beneath their feet. We couldn’t see what was happening outside, our windows as barricaded as we could to keep any shattered glass out. We slept on the floor away from the windows….although I doubt either one of us actually slept.

By dawn the winds were heavy, but dying down. And like restless children on Christmas morning, we were anxious to take a peek and what surprises mother nature had left for us beneath a bunch of broken oaks. There were trees and limbs everywhere, covering roads, covering roofs, having torn down electrical lines. But, from what we could see, most homes in our neighborhood suffered very little damage.

We didn’t know if there was a boil water alert, so we just cracked open our jugs of water and started making coffee on a little butane burner I had bought at the Asian grocery, the sort you would find at an omelette station. That thing saved our lives. I discovered that none of our neighbors had anything to cook with, so I had pot after pot of coffee for anyone and everyone who needed it. Don’t ever look at a French Press as snobbish. I learned when living in the woods that all you needed to make coffee with it was hot water. No electricity required.

It was still too windy to do any clean up. The girls who live next door would gather limbs, carry them to the curb, only to have them blown back into the yard again. So we all spent the day on the staircases, getting to know each other, sharing with each other what we had, listening to the radio on the yarn truck for news and information about what was happening in the rest of town. But, by the end of the day, you could tell that the heat, the lack of sleep, and the heightened anxiety from the night before had just exhausted everyone. Phillip and I were in bed by nightfall, and simply could not sleep in the same bed. It was already 100 degrees at 8pm, and the last thing you wanted was another 100 degrees of heat sleeping next to you.

No one slept that night either. There is something about living in the city that is obvious: the constant murmur of white noise in the background. Traffic, jets, life….There was none of that. And it was eerie, unsettling. As though the world had gone vacant. There was no breeze, no slight rustle of movement through the trees. The air was stifling. Welcome to Florida, 1819.

I was up at 2am, knitting by candelight.  Just me, my yarn and needles. On some days we call them distractions, on other days we call them necessities. I was without either. There was nothing to be watched, to be heard, to be seen from any device, or radio, or television. The gentle scraping of my bamboo size threes as the swept aside each other the only sound to be heard for miles. One day I’ll have to expand on that. I learned a lot that early morning. I learned an awful lot in the quiet.

By dawn I was up and out cleaning up around the building. I know some may say that it is the landlord’s duty, its her property. You may be right, but this is my home, so I want to take care of it and make it look nice.

I got over heated about three hours into it. No matter how much water I had drank, I was still just sweating out more fluid than I was bringing in. I came inside, where it was 10 degrees warmer and just placed my head under the sink and let the cool water flow over my nape. We realized without proper hydration, or a place to cool, this clean up effort was going to take days when done in slow intervals early in the morning.

So, Phillip set up our big umbrella for the yarn truck over the patio area. We plugged our little fan into the cigarette lighter, brought out our water, coffee and our little gas burning stove and set up shop, resting, me knitting up a possum, him crocheting a Strange Friend. Our hearts had started sinking upon hearing the news that the power could be out for at least a week. We both looked at each other and knew that our food wouldn’t last that long. Even if it didn’t, where would we buy it? Everyone, even commerce, was without power. You just brush that aside and hope it doesn’t take that long.

Throughout the day we were hearing more and more sirens, assuming that people in need were now being rescued. No, not at all. Idiocy had begun to run rampant in our town; self absorbed arrogance and a sense of importance earned by whatever degree had started ruling. Traffic had returned to normal. Don’t ask my why, there was nowhere to go, nothing had electricity……especially the traffic lights. And no one was following the rules about using it an intersection as a four way stop when the traffic light is out. No, they were just running through them, crashing stupidly into each other. People assuming that if they were on the larger road, the other roads had to wait for a break in traffic. Or, as we heard one man say on the radio, “If you’re not moving into the intersection by the time I get there, I’m blowing right through. What are waiting for???”

There is no gasoline anywhere. The gas trucks have to be escorted back into the city by armed military. People were getting that desperate only 2 days after the storm. Panicking again that they were going to run out of gas while driving around looking for food. If you had laughed off the storm as a “hey, I’m from Florida, this is just a CAT 1,” then you were beginning to realize you had underestimated the power of Mother Nature and had overestimated the predictions of the weather man.

So, every half hour you would hear the sound of a collision. Ten minutes after that, the sound of rescue sirens. We were stupid enough to take a walk up to the store. He was open, he had no power, I had no cash, so I don’t know what I was thinking. But, trying to get there, we stood at the intersection for a good 10 minutes waiting for them to realize pedestrians were waiting to cross….They could have cared less. They were only concerned with themselves. We crossed, were nearly hit and promptly decided to go home as quickly as possible. Later in the day, police began directing traffic at the larger intersections.

That day dragged on. Phillip and I both looked distraught….tired. Afraid of what was going to happen to our little business without the internet. Without power, we couldn’t make any money, and we were already struggling. It is true we are going to have to restock our food. What we had in the fridge is gone, but with a few sales in the shop, we can have it stocked again in no time.

We went to bed that night in the same bed, despite the heat. We needed to be near each other. Under the window we slept, under the gentle kiss of some hint of a breeze, holding each other’s hands, whispering words of consolation to each other. “We’ll get through this. Have faith….and keep trucking along….”

And finally, in the early hours of the morning the power came back on, every light blaring bright…..We both sighed, heard the A/C kick on and promptly slept longer than we had in nearly a week of pre, during, and post storm intensity.

Turning on the television this morning I was finally able to see video of how bad this area was actually hit, and how lucky we were, how TRULY lucky we were. Whatever problems I may face post hurricane can be met head on, those can be dealt with. I’m a determined and resilient man. But, others didn’t do so well in this storm. Their challenges are going to be a lot harder for them to cope with. Those challenges are going to require much more than determination. Those challenges are going to require the mercy of Mother Nature.

The internet isn’t quite back to speed, so I’m sorry this was so long. I can’t even get a large enough signal to upload what pics I have. It could be a good day or two before we’re able to go fully online. We get a weak signal, then it fades out again. So, I’m writing this to put up once we get a strong enough signal because we won’t be able to go to facebook or anything like that to say hello and such. Thank you all so much for all of thoughts and prayers. We’ve made it gallantly through the storm with each other and our home, which is a lot more than some people can say. Some people haven’t fared that well. So, keep them in your hearts.

Today I’m cleaning the hell out of our home, not only of the debris outside, but every crook and cranny of every corner. I had wanted to do it just before the storm to keep my mind occupied, but kept thinking, “All this cleaning for a building that may not be standing tomorrow.” Well it did stand, and we still have a home, and I’m going to clean it show how grateful I am to have it. I’ll be praying not that life will go back to normal, but that it will be better than it was before the storm. That’s what you do after a crisis. You make  your life better than it was before the challenge.

We’ll get through this, by the grace of God, all of us.

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