The Slow Knitter



Eight ways The Grocery Girls opened my knitting world

Late last year, someone in a FaceBook group I am a member of mentioned a YouTube video featuring two sisters from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. There I met (not literally, although I felt like I did) Jodi and Tracie for the first time. I was in awe. 

Like most who are part of the makers' movement, watching them strongly influenced how my knitting journey evolved.

Every project they enthusiastically showed - whether a work-in-progress or a completed project, every new skein of indie-dyed yarn, every new project bag, every knitwear designer had me transfixed. I couldn't take notes fast enough. Am I fan-girling? Yes, but for me it was so much more.

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I became afraid of attempting new or different things for fear of not being mentally or physically capable of doing them. While I have full mobility - I do walk with a limp and have to manage fatigue - the diagnosis robbed me of my gut instinct to take risks. I spent my career as an entrepreneur - taking all sorts of risks - now suddenly everything seemed daunting. 

What I did not realize at the time, was I needed some sort of catalyst to encourage me to take action - any kind of action. Without knowing it, Tracie and Jodi gave me the kick in the butt I needed.

Oh come on - it's just knitting! But for me, it's really about loving and embracing a skill, about accepting my disease, about being part of a community. While watching Tracie and Jodi, I learned about other podcasters. About indie dyers. About young, contemporary knitwear designers. About how this fiber arts community comes together for each other in times of celebration, grief, natural disasters, and life changes.

Here are the eight things they taught me:

1. Sock Knitting - their "sock tawk" segment taught me how fun sock knitting can be. Could I knit socks? Would I have attempted it prior to seeing their socks? I doubt it.

2. Indie dyed yarn - I didn't even know there was such a profession as an indie dyer. I did not know about the cottage industry and entrepreneurial spirit of today's indie dyers. Now PayPal and Etsy love me.

3. Knitwear Designers - I knew of some designers, but did not know about Joji Locatelli, Shannon Cook, Jane Richmond, Helen Stewart, Stephen West, Andrea Mowry, and more.

4. Shawl knitting - The shawls done by Tracie and Jodi are breathtaking. While I tended towards knitting shawls, their suggestions have filled my Ravelry queue and favorites,

5. To help me define what I want to do - I want to knit. I do not want to dye yarn. I do not want to design. I do not want to sew project bags (I will leave that to Jodi). I do not want to make stitch markers or progress keepers. I just want to knit all the things.

6. To help me define what my point of difference is (sorry, former marketing person here) - I am a slow knitter. Part of it is the MS, part of it is that I am not a monogamous knitter. I often have five or six projects on the needles at one time. Couple that with being slow and it takes me forever to finish anything. I would like to think they would celebrate that.

7. Courage - this sound big, but they did. Courage to talk about my love of this crazy craft. Courage to take risks again. Courage to talk about my MS. Courage to dip my toe into the podcast world.

8. Inclusion - after selling my business and subsequently retiring, I realized my community diminished considerably. My employees, my clients, and everyone I worked with was a large part of my life, Now, I have a new community - the fiber arts community - one that Jodi and Tracie turned me onto to.

To quote Tracie, "I can't even" begin to thank you, ladies for easing me into this second phase of my career. I am forever grateful. 




Knitting and work

(a blog I wrote in 2011 when I was still running my ad agency in Atlanta, Georgia)


I spent my early morning hours figuring out why a swatch I made is not the right size. Now, remember, I am a newbie knitter, so this problem is not intuitive to me. Out came the Vogue knitting book and lo and behold my first problem was that I was knitting the swatch using the wrong stitch (I was doing stockinette instead of garter). Ok, so I started again, and the size was still off. Back to the book to figure out what to do next - the answer: go up a needle size. Having just read one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's book, it verified what she says - never believe the recommended needle size in a garment pattern.

I had to put the project down as it was now time to get ready for work. While I was getting ready, I thought about whether there is a parallel between knitting and my profession (I run a mid-size advertising firm). Here are some inital thoughts:

1) Knitting requires precision - I guess you can say that about my profession, although I'm not that precise at work. Perhaps knitting is trying to tell me something

2) Knitting requires concentration - I have run this business for 23+ years and it is more and more difficult to concentrate at work. Again, knitting trying to teach me concentration skills.

3) I have multiple projects going on at one time - true at work, too. Maybe I like it when there is a lot of variety and I can be jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Or maybe I should go back to point 2 above and just accept the fact that I have adult-onset ADD.

4) Knitting confounds me a lot - work constantly confounds me.

5) Knitting is about math: I am marginally good at math (okay, that's a stretch - I suck at math), so here again, knitting is my teacher! Maybe after all these decades, I will conquer math and I can credit knitting. How funny is that?