Mad Man Knitter Be Damned

It’s roughly 7pm in the middle of Central Florida. I’ve been up since about 1am. I seem to be doing really well, though. That crazy ambition of mine. 🙂 I got up so early because I had to finish editing all of the work on the latest episode of our youtube show. Glad I did. It took me five hours to edit, process, then upload to youtube.

(I haven’t been posting those episodes here. I got the feeling that….well, much like with many people you know: you like it when they do THIS, but can’t STAND it when they do that. You that read my blog don’t seem to care for my youtube show, and I truly understand. And people that like my youtube show don’t really care for my writing. It’s a different group of friends on both sides. Some like Downton Abby, some like Arrested Development.)

But, with wild pots of coffee in tow, I finished it though. That was around 6 or 7am. Then I hit my needles. Grabbed Phillip’s latest Strange Friends, took photos, then listed all of them and what I had made for sell (RENT! the man, screamed RENT is due!) Then it was time to tend to some marketing. You learn as you go, but the process is simple. Be yourself. Packaged isn’t my style. I don’t fit any mold for the “knitting” community. Which I try to think has it’s advantages. You can see the executives across America asking, “Sign HIM? How do we market that? The redneck ‘thing’ is over. It went out with Duck Dynasty and Paula Deen….” But, he persisted 🙂 And that’s why I get up so early in the morning. Not that I have an alarm clock, not that I have a schedule. But, the first moment I turn in bed I know I should just go ahead and get up, despite what time it is. If I’m restless in bed, then I’m obviously restless in the head. It means I can’t get any rest until I get something MORE done, do SOMETHING to get myself to the next level.

Now, I know people (and you know them, too) that despise the idea of art and commerce coming together. Usually, the ones that AREN’T trying to get ahead make the vicious claims of their peers TRYING to do well as “sell outs.” Fine, you go right ahead and play starving artist. I want a home of my own someday, and I don’t want to have to worry about putting food on the table EVERY day. So, you go ahead and wait for something to happen, I intend to MAKE it happen.

If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work. And I want this to work. I really do. I’m 45. My chances of making this work get slimmer everyday. But, he persisted 🙂 I know that persistence will work out. The more times I’m turned down for not “quite fitting in to what we’re looking for” the more I know that there is an army of people out there that feel the same way. They don’t “quite” follow the mold people expect of them. “Well, he’s a MAN that knits? That’s not so special. Men are knitting more and more all the time…and they’re not as controversial.” Yes, more and more men are knitting. No, they’re not as controversial.

So, I get up the minute my body stirs beneath the sheets, knowing deep in my sleep that I can actually do this if I REALLY want it. I can HAVE my little house. I CAN have my full plate of meatloaf, mash potatoes and peas whenever I want. And if those suited beauties can’t find a way to market “MAD MAN KNITTING” then I’ll just have to go do it on my own. Grass roots style, skein of yarn in hand. Molotov marketing. Mad Man knitter be damned….

I “gots” drive 🙂

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We Have Cause to Celebrate

We have reason to celebrate tonight. I signed my first book contract. If some of you have not heard, two of my books, “Mad Man Knitting (or) The Waiter and the Fly,” and my children’s book, “The Teddy Bear That Saved Me,” are both being published by a wonderful little publishing house in France….translated into French. Now, how cool is that? How COOL is that? These are the kind of days that authors dream about. New eyes get to read my work, the barriers of language broken so that what little things I have to say may be seen by an entirely new and eager audience.

We’ve been working a few months on this deal. (yes, and people ask, who is this “we” you often discuss? Well, obviously YOU and me! We’ve been on this journey together for YEARS. You are solidly with me in everything I do.) The negotiations were easy, swift, wonderful and full of enthusiasm. The publisher and I developed a grand relationship that leans itself toward success. She said, “I picked you because I LOVE how you self promote yourself.”

So, we received our advance today. Now, as I’ve said on facebook, don’t think we’re gazillionairs now 🙂 Now the advance is the standard for a first time author for a house. It is very fair. But, once those books are released in France, they could have a tremendous impact on my career. Other countries may come forth. AMERICAN publishers may come calling. It’s all decidedly, a wonderful WONDERFUL arrangement and a great opportunity.

And so, in decidedly Gregory and Phillip fashion, we’re celebrating tonight with a home cooked meal. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas. Because I feel a sense of coming comfort, and I wanted a celebratory dinner that beautifully defined comfort. 🙂

Look at this journey we’ve taken. When you found me, I was a homeless man living in the woods, knitting one teddy bear just to feed myself. How far we’ve come….

…and I’m looking forward to seeing how far we’ll go. 🙂


A Knitter Giggles in the Tub

If you’ve read this blog for a long time, then you’ll know that one of my classic methods of destressing, my first go to for a need to relax, is something as simple as soaking in the tub with my collection of “Calvin and Hobbes.” I feel warm, I giggle, I smile with enjoyment. For a good half hour, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Nothing happens. It all stops. The madness that is the world, the things you read, the things you hear, the things people say are substituted by a boy and his pal tiger and their amazing imagination.

And it dawned on me that I’ve been would up rather tight lately. The usual pressures that plaque many of us were on my mind. And just as I started getting snappy and cranky, I realized I hadn’t soaked in the tub in an awfully long time. So, there it was, the middle of the day, in the middle of things that needed to be tended to, walking away for and turning on the faucet, peering through my bookcase (“FOUND IT!”), and shredding my clothes. Phone was turned off and place in the desk drawer. Towel in hand I headed for the suds.

AHHHHHH……the only thing that had changed was that I need glasses now to read 🙂 But, it all did exactly what it was supposed to do. It got me out of my head for a moment. It warmed my bones. It made me laugh and consider you don’t need to hit a hillside filled with daisies to find truly peaceful moments. When all was done, I dried off, emptied the tub, put my clothes back on, came back to whatever crisis needed to be dealt with and said with the most genuine smile, “I feel better.”

Try it! Don’t go in the tub with a tome that would cause you to think and reflect. Go in there, close the door with something ridiculous to read (NO DEVICES!), and enjoy yourself in the warming womb like safety of peace.

We have a few in our shop that need good homes. And we need to find them homes VERY soon. Be sure to check them out. Phillip would LOVE for you to have his latest Strange Friend. That would truly mean a lot to him.

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The New Face of Knitting: YOURS

Where once there were but a few faces that defined the image of who a knitter was, I’m glad to see that many MANY people are coming out from behind some sense of admonishment to show themselves as knitters. Where once broods of knitting groups and marketing execs carefully categorized and shined only a “certain” sort of look, knitters of all shapes and sizes and sexes and backgrounds are starting to make a much bigger impression on the yarn world at large.

I’m terribly proud of you. Where websites, facebook groups, podcasts and yarn skeins depicted a very narrowed point of what a knitter not only looks like, but what their life SHOULD be like, you’re all coming together brazen and bold to show that we are about as complex and different as well…..a pile of yarn in a clearance bin. And in many ways, I think many of you have been made to feel like that. Less than best, cast off, tossed off to the Island of Misfit Knitters. Reduced to the bargain basement way, simmered down slowly to feel separate.

But, we don’t do that here. And thankfully, so many of you are beginning to see how impressive you can be when you find the right group of people to offer confidence, solidarity, and humor. YOU are starting to wake up and shine. You’re starting to really be involved and aware. YOU are becoming something so more interesting than the role models that have been doled out to us.

I am so happy to see that our facebook group has added nearly 200 people in the last week. We started our “Knitter Be DAMNED!” adventure for those who felt they didn’t belong anywhere, a place for those didn’t belong to feel strong, so that those in the outer edges of knitting could band together without visible knots. A place of refuge for the outcast knitter.

I’ve very happy to be along side a number of people that don’t identify with the common picture shown, or the avatar that depicts, nor the “illusion” of what a knitter looks like. The new face of knitting isn’t pretty people with suburban credentials with the money to spend in boutique shops and cute, button nose faces that depict perfection. “Here, by our yarn. You’ll be beautiful. Or socially aware. Or politically correct.”

No, you’re a knitter and that’s all there is to it. You take needle to skein, you take yarn to task.

No, the real face of knitting is YOURS. Down in the trenches, knitting with acrylic, knitting with yarn you bought at a thrift store because that’s REAL social awareness, up late at night knitting for a cause, or for a charity that no one deems reasonable because it won’t get enough hashtags, knitting a quick gift with what you found at Walmart on sale, knitting for someone in need, not selflessly to promote an agenda.

I want you to be proud of yourselves. YOU are the new face of knitting. You’re not an image, you’re not an corporate smile on a skein of yarn. You’re not a brand adoring darling out for the latest trend in fibers. You knit because you love the craft, you love the joy you bring to people with your work. And THAT makes you welcome and appreciated.


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All Endeavors Are Stamped With Intent

I had a pot of coffee brewing. And as I waited for it to steep, I plopped into my chair eager for the buzzer to say my cup of caffeine was ready to set me back to work. I had this pile of yarn in front of me, much to do, pieces worked up quickly so that we could sell them, SELL THEM! In the middle of that chaotic stash of purples and greens and piled up skeins I saw what my life tends to look like sometimes. A bit overworked, a little messy and haphazard, disorganized….But, then I saw the prayer candle at the back at the edge of my desk. I have them everywhere. Not that I light all of them at one time or anything, but when I light one and finish it, I have a VERY hard time throwing them away. I don’t know. It feels like a terrible thing to do 🙂 So, I stick them here, stick them there, never able to let go of them for fear of being weirdly disrespectful.

But, I saw that prayer candle and the whole line of sight gave me some thought. A messy stash of yarn, a bundle of bears to knit to pay the rent…..look past all that, look at the peace in the midst of all that madness. Focus on that. Focus on the greater thing that you’re trying to do. Give hope. Reflect back the kindness you’ve been shown, be aware at all times of your impact on others, hold firm to your faith.

All endeavors are stamped with intent. Is just paying the bills the reason we knit and crochet so much? Of course not. And this picture reminded me of that. The real reason is to bring joy to people. And if I can do that, then God will take care of the rest. I believe that.


I Knit This When I Heard Him Say He Loved Me

I was about to sit down and pound out on the keys a loving note to my husband, that I know reads these posts of mine after I’ve gone to sleep. But, if a nutshell will suit you, our days have been spent lately so far apart, in each other’s space, working, busy, hard to task, greasing the mill to keep our lives alive and afloat. He handed me this skein of yarn yesterday and said, “I know you’re anxious to work with it. Give it a go.” And as I worked up this little bear, he’d float by on his way to the kitchen, a smooch on my cheek, a hand on my shoulder, a bended hug. When all was said and done, this bear had come along and made his little life known. Knit up at just the moments Phillip was telling me he loved me. We get so busy that we forget to actually say it out loud, we just show each other in random, quick, drive by kinda ways. Truth: you may not get spend all of the time you’d like with your loved one, but the moments you do, as simple and as quick as they can be, are sometimes greater than any love poem ever conceived. If you’d like this little bear, click here.




Embracing the Resistance

We tried, we really tried. It didn’t work out, but we’ll try something again. As long as we make the attempt, then we can’t be accused of helping to feed the anger. At least we’re TRYING.

A few days ago I received word that my name was being “discussed” in some of the more left wing knitting groups. It’s weird that our world has become so shattered into splintered factions that we now call each other’s groups “left” or “right.” As if to say, “You know that restaurant is left wing….” I could care less. I’m there for the nachos. But, aside from that, here is where we are. That even those as pure as knitting could be categorized as “left” or “right.” Your ideology, despite what you do, has you on someone’s radar, which I think is pretty petty when you get down to it.

Nonetheless, the name of the group was the Resistance Knitters. A knitting group that vowed to use their talents to halt the policies of the Trump administration and blah blah blah. I’ve never understood how you could use your talents, your craft, to fight AGAINST something. You should be using them not as battle ready weaponry, but as means and methods of peaceful approach. In other words, our knitting groups have become akin to being lead by generals or popes. The generals will plot defense and attack. The popes will simply ask that you reach out.

And that’s what I decided to do. I contacted the admin of the group hoping that the vitriol of political leanings could be left aside, and that she and I could build a bridge of dialogue with the end result being that our two sides of a political leaning could show the world that our talents could be used for a greater purpose. We may not agree politically, but we’re both leading knitting groups that have very passionate members. We could REALLY do some good work.

And do you know what she said?

She said, “YES!” She agreed whole heartedly. She is on board, ready to go, ready to bring our groups together in a way that would be a lesson plan for the….well, hell, the greater discourse in our country as it seems to be. I am thankful, grateful for her positive response. I know this is someone I can work with. I respected her ideas, her opinions. I respected HER. No discussion of politics was put into play. I joined her group, she joined mine.

…..then it all went to crap. Not because of anything she and I did, but because the residue of rumor seems to love to linger like the smell of a dead carp on your doorstep.

By allowing me to join her group, she was attacked. Apparently, I threatened to rape and kill people….because that’s what I would do, if any of you have ever read this blog, yes. Yes, my words and tones, my admissions and my confessions of hope and optimism all lead one to conclude that I find my justice in threats of rape and murder. (ahem)> Carrying on….But, the fact that I am a well known conservative dismisses what I may have to say about the human desire to rise without materialism, and to move the heart towards moments of purpose, where no matter how bad things are for you, they are worse for others; that your craft could not only feed your stomach, but could also feed your soul should you listen carefully enough. All of that was dismissed and abandoned, and the noise of gossip and lies was allowed to take hold….The admin defended me….and was nearly asked to leave a group that she started.

Weird, isn’t it?

Over the course of several hours, the admin and I had wonderful conversations throughout this ordeal that would have made Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh ask us what our secret to dialogue was. It was a wonderfully sincere and genuine conversation that I was sure would bring allegiance to faction.

Alas, she informed me that her moderators had removed me from the group. I’m too much trouble. I am not only to be silenced, as I was reminded a few months ago. I am to be destroyed.

But, that isn’t the issue I wanted to discuss on this post. I wanted to talk about the intent to begin dialogue, and how leaders between two groups can decide that yes, we should really talk, and our combined efforts can bring some wonderful change. But, the vitriol of those that follow ideologies will destroy any attempt to bring about communion. “I hate you because you exist. And if you were to go, the world would be a MUCH better place,” is not the sort of phrase that one can deny hearing.

The admin and I, I think, are building a wonderful relationship. And I cannot stress enough how much I REALLY enjoyed talking to her. She’s a good person, a kind person, and someone who feels deep within her soul that the greater things are not on the surface of who we are, but our shared pains, joys and experiences as people in this mad world.

So, I told her that our attempts to bridge were not canceled. Simply postponed.

When our Knitter Be Damned facebook page was started we laid down three rules. 1) no rules. 2) everyone is welcome, no one would be banned for their political leanings. 3) don’t take everything so seriously. Enjoy yourself.

The state of our country is in peril because, I think, those rules that we apply to our group, are not being applied to social discourse. Everyone, apparently, is an enemy.

We didn’t fail, we were only hindered. And no amount of vitriol will keep this bridge from being built. I am determined to embrace them, even if they don’t want me to.

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