Comparing Writing and Knitting

Writing is the most terrifying of hobbies, for me.  I always find myself with these ideas for stories floating around in my head and I want, so badly, to write them. Then, I sit down to write and think “I have no idea what I’m doing. I shouldn’t be trying.” I end up walking away.

The thing about writing is, its damn near impossible to know if you’re any good at it. You could compare it to knitting. With knitting, it is easy enough to know whether you’re doing it correctly. You can look at other people’s knits and know whether you can reproduce them. You take the pattern and either you understand the stitches or you don’t, you either struggle with following the pattern or you don’t, either the finished the product looks like the examples or it doesn’t. Writing isn’t like that. You can write and write and write, never knowing whether its readable. All words on paper look about the same but, as we al know, some are far more enjoyable to read than others. The only way to know whether what you’re writing is to give it to others, which is a challenge in itself.

Several years ago, I rediscovered my love of writing. In a very short time, I wrote about 35 pages of a story idea. I was pleased as punch about my ideas and what I had gotten on paper, but I really wanted to know whether it was any good. I passed it along to a coworker and my significant other. My coworker was pretty adamant about how much she liked it. My significant other was less enthusiastic (he wasn’t a person that was particularly prone to outbursts of emotion) but said he thought it was worth continuing. The problem is, people who care about you will almost always give you positive praise. So how are you to know the truth? How do you find an unbiased opinion?

In college, I never once took an English class. I did a dual high school/college enrollment when I was a senior and got all of the credits I needed, plus three extra hours from the AP test for English. So I have had all of no writing training or critique. My only basis for thinking I might have some sort of talent comes from childhood. I was frequently praised for being one of the best writers in class and I even won the UIL competition for Persuasive Writing two years in a row. Of course, that isn’t creative writing, but I’m proud of teen-me all the same. I had thought recently that it would be a good idea to take some creative writing classes. I’ve spent hours looking through online MA and MFA Creative Writing Programs, continuing education schedules,, a community college catalogs. I decided to try my had at an online Creative Writing class through my county’s community college. Sadly, I went online tonight to register and the class was already full. None of the continuing education classes seemed like what I really want. I would consider getting a Masters in writing but I would be nervous to start a program with no prior writing experience. The thought of sending out a writing portfolio to be evaluated by a real professor makes me want to break out in hives.

I feel at a loss for understanding how to overcome this anxiety that keeps me from writing. I cannot seem to turn off that inner voice that tells me to not bother, tells me I’ll never write anything that anyone would enjoy. Yet I also cannot find a way to assuage that voice or prove it wrong. With knitting, I took a class and taught myself at home until I could recreate the patterns I saw. Even now, I hit stitches I’m not familiar with and have to seek out videos to learn from. It is so simple to know I’ve done it correctly when I see the stitches unfurl into something recognizable. I cannot seem to find a way to do that with writing. I am a person that is cripplingly afraid of failure, so putting myself out there with something so so unsubstantiated does not seem to be something I can make myself do.

So instead of writing, I find myself knitting for comfort and safety. I also find myself browsing online classes again and again wishing I was brave enough to take that leap. To decide that, even though I already have a Masters and don’t need one, I deserve to give myself the opportunity to try for MA/MFA in writing. Of course, I might be more willing to make the leap Masters programs didn’t cost about $30,000.

Eventually, I will need to reconcile myself to the thought that I’ll never write and these characters will forever fester in my mind, or I will need take a chance.

Knit Crate

Although I forgot to blog about it, a month or so ago I decided to try out Knit Crate. They had the option to sample their subscription one time and I got the Baby and Intermediate/Advanced sets. I was really pleased so I decided to subscribe. I will possibly go back and blog those that I got but, for now, I’m moving on to my November subscription.

First of all, I may have subscribed to every yarn subscription service available (with the exception of those put out by a specific brand). Knit Crate is my favorite so far. It is costly, but great. Now, I went a little crazy with the subscribing. First I decided to subscribe to the mini set on a bi-monthly basis so I could get mini skeins for the Beekeeper quilt (which I have now abandoned so I may get rid of this subscription after the first month). Then I signed up for the bi-monthly Intermediate/Advanced crate. It was after I had done both of those things that I learned Knit Crate had planned extra special crates for November and December and I really wanted them. Due to the payment and shipping set up, the bi-monthly crates take 2 months to ship your first order. Which means I wouldn’t get a crate until January and would miss the special ones. I then went back and got a 3rd subscription for the Indie crate.

So now I am flush with Knit Crate subscriptions, two of which will most likely get cancelled after a month or two. But I accomplished my goal of getting the special crates. November is the anniversary of Knit Crate opening so they amped up the crate. With my indie subscription, I got two GORGEOUS hanks of Northumbria DK from Miss Babs in Jack Frost. The color is so great. It isn’t something I would’ve picked up for myself since I rarely do blues or grays but it is so lovely. Plus, it was inspired by the creator’s dog, so it is even more awesome. I haven’t chosen a pattern yet, but I’m excited to use it.

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The crate also included a Knit Kit, which is one of the handiest all-in-one tools a knitter can have. There was also an adorable tea infuser from Tea Forte (please excuse my lack of accent mark here, my keyboard is not cooperating), as well as coupon codes for several free or discounted knitting patterns. This was probably my favorite yarn subscription shipment I’ve received yet and I can’t wait for next month!

I Almost Gave In

Awhile back I posted about the Beekeeper Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits being the blanket everyone is making. The pattern still seems to be oddly popular. Back then, I was very dubious about the pattern. It seemed like it would take an eternity to make. The result would be very heavy. I don’t knit socks and don’t have scraps laying around. However, I saw the kit over at Knitcrate and decided to give it a try. My Koigu mini-skeins, needles, pattern, and fiberfill arrived, and I was ready to try it out. For the first two puffs, I had really decided to knit this monster. Even though I knew that it would take around 600 puffs to make a decent sized blanket. However, I sat there looking at the little pile of mini-skeins and realized that I had not overcome my desire for things to match.

Now, I am the daughter of a quilter. In fact, my mom opened her own quilt shop when I was 10. Although I do not quilt myself (I’ve dabbled once or twice with no real prolificacy), I have gathered up bits and pieces of quilting knowledge through osmosis. Mostly because I used to spend my afternoons when school let out at my mom’s store, waiting to go home at closing time. When I started considering how I could turn the Beekeeper’s Quilt into something I would actually like, I decided to look to the quilting world for inspiration.

There is a vintage quilt pattern known as Grandmother’s Flower Garden. It is small hexagons (1 or 2 inches) pieced to look like flowers with little white “paths” between them, or green “vines”. I decided this could be the perfect motif for the Beekeeper Quilt. All I would have to do is get skeins of sock yarn in colors I liked and arranged the final product like the quilt pattern.

I wanted to do the colors in something I wouldn’t normally pick. Since the quilt pattern is from the 1930’s, those colors seemed perfect. I went on Eat.Sleep.Knit and started hunting. I ended up with three skeins which, while they aren’t totally the 30’s style, will work.

From left to right I got Manos del Uruguay Fino in Crystal Goblet, Dream Smooshy in Rosalita, and Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Straw. I bought all of these based purely on color and cost so it was a gamble, but I am incredibly pleased with all of the yarns. Also, once they arrived, I realized that I hadn’t ended up with such random colors. In fact, they match the new colors in my living room. You can see the yellow throw pillow in the back there.

photo 1I started talking to my mom about my idea and it started to change. I originally called to ask if she had a pattern at her shop that would show how to lay out the flower colors. I began to describe the Beekeeper Quilt to her and she started poking holes in my plan. Firstly, why do they need to be puffs? We live in Texas where its warm so you don’t need a lined blanket. If they were just knit flat, it would use half the yarn, take half the time, and be lighter. Plus, the hexipuffs are connected by tying the corners with scrap yarn. That makes the back ugly because of all the strings hanging down. After my discussion with her, I had totally changed my idea.

Instead, I found the Six’es pattern on Ravelry. It is still hexagons, still done with sock yarn, but it is a single layer that is more neatly seamed together.

I guess I am still bucking the trend. Also, I’m excited about my quilt/knit hybrid, it brings together my mom’s world and mine.

 

Trunk Show (Literally)

In honor of the Yarn Crawl, my knitting group decided to do a literal trunk show. We meet at a Starbucks so people didn’t want to drag things inside, that meant going from car to car and browsing people’s wares right out of the trunk of the car. The group is such a talented bunch of ladies so their were countless skeins of gorgeously dyed or handspun yarn, fibers, and more. I restrained myself and only went home with three hanks. I already have a plan to knit the Cactus Flower shawl with my orange yarn and the Tosh Merino Light I got in the crawl.

Lazy Cat Yarn dyed by Rebecca. The color is called The Last Centurion and is actually much more orange than shown.

Lazy Cat Yarn dyed by Rebecca. The color is called The Last Centurion and is actually much more orange than shown.

Yarn spun by Micki in the color Mimsy

Yarn spun by Micki in the color Mimsy

DFW Yarn Crawl

I am so dreadfully late in posting this. Its sad really, because I really enjoyed yarn crawling for the first time this year and I planned a very involved post about it. However, the month of October zoomed by with incredible franticness and the post didn’t happen.

This was my first year participating in the DFW Yarn Crawl. My mother and I set a day aside to hit all of the Dallas shops we had never visited.

Our Itinerary:

1. The Shabby Sheep

My mom and I were both enchanted by this little shop. It is housed in a blue home that was probably built in the 1910’s. The shop itself is tiny and consists of pretty much two rooms, however, it is overflowing with charm. We went home from here with the official embroidered Yarn Crawl totes.

Sadly, this shop is soon to be no more. It is one of several historic buildings located in a square that is being sold to housing developers. The neighborhood is so sweet, it is like a little oasis in the city. I hate to see that go to make room for condos. The owner is trying out something that is still a novelty- taking her shop on the road, literally. She is planning to move the store into a vintage RV and travel to events. I’m very interested to see how this food truck style yarn-mobile will work out.

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2. Holley’s Yarn Shop

This shop is a decent size and had a number of yarns that I would’ve gladly taken home. They seemed to offer a lot by Rowan (which I love). I would definitely visit here again. I left there with a skein of Shalimar Yarn Breathless in Sprout and a beautiful project bag by Della Q. My mom was loaded down with skeins of a Rowan DK to make two baby sweaters (and maybe hats). I also won a skein of Imperial Yarn.

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3. Yarn and Stitches

Well, we were honestly disappointed with this shop. Unlike every other store I visited during this crawl, no one came to greet us or offer to stamp our passports. There was, overall, a standoffish feeling. I saw a few yarns I hadn’t run into anywhere else, but not enough to make the trip to North Dallas again. I ended up buying a pair of DPNs just so I wouldn’t feel awkward. It goes to show, hospitality in a shop goes a long way.

4. Woolie Ewe

This is a very interesting, large store. They had a little of everything, including buffalo hair yarn, spinning fiber, looms, and more. One huge compliment I have for this shop is that they were one of the only to decorate according to the theme. There were cowgirl touches all around, including saddles and mannequins with whole outfits. I really felt like they cared about the crawl. I think I only got some stitch markers from here, but my mom bought a few sets of the Cubics needles she has been wanting to try and couldn’t find anywhere else.

5. MadTosh

This wasn’t originally on our list of shops to visit since I’ve gone there so many times. My mom had never been though and I wanted her to see it since she owns a quilt shop and they also sell fabric. That, and, I had a very specific yarn desire in mind and I knew they would have what I wanted. I can’t even tell you what all we bought. I know I got my skein of sock yarn for the shawl I want to make. I know we got a few patterns. The shop was giving away a cool sock pattern that makes a cowboy boot looking sock with a star on it. So cute! My mom was really taken by their shop samples of baby booties and sweaters and wanted to make them all. I ended up with Tosh Merino Light in Luster.

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6. Jennings Street Yarn

When I learned that Jennings was going to be open on Sunday for the final crawl day, I decided to swing by there. It ended up being a quick trip since the first shelf inside the door had some Eco Alpaca I had to have. I grabbed two skeins with the plans of doing some sort of simple baby sweater with maybe a cable. I still haven’t found a pattern I love though. I also grabbed a white skein of Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk

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7. Knitting Fairy

I saved this shop for last since it is the closest to home. I had actually planned to skip it but I decided to go since they were open Sunday. Ted, from my knitting group, had recently gotten some yarn there called Theodora’s Pearls that I was really interested in. I ended up leaving with three skeins. The pumpkin spice has already made its way into being a pair of baby booties and the start of a cardigan.

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Finished Project: Promise Me Lace Shawl

Finally, I got this photographed. I finished it October 1st and got it all blocked and pretty, but had yet to take any decent photos. So here it is, my first-ever lace shawl. And the first time using beads. And the first time using mohair. And the first time knitting with lace weight yarn. So, yeah, this is a bit of a personal accomplishment for me. I am superbly pleased by the result. The pattern is Promise Me by Boo Knits and is deceptively easy to knit. The yarn is Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Dewberry. The beads were some random ones from Joann’s in the color Moonstone Mix. I didn’t have the frustrations with the yarn that many reported, although I admittedly would not have wanted to frog any significant number of stitches. Luckily, that wasn’t an issue in the project. Actually, it went shockingly well. There is one little section where I got a stitch off in the pattern repeat, but since it only affected about 12 stitches, its probably only noticeable to me. This was also the first time I’ve ever done a picot bind off and, although I’m pleased with the result, it took ages. Seriously, I clocked about 4 hours on just binding off.

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