Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I'm Obsessed With Knitting

I've been thinking about my knitting addiction this week.  It is my only obsession  that I don't feel somewhat apologetic for.  I will admit I am ashamed of my sugar cravings (damn those gummy worms, chocolate parfait Nips and pumpkin spice Hershey kisses) and blatant caffeine addiction (hello Starbucks and my daily mega coffee consumption).  I feel bad about my periodic cheeseburger attacks and frequent BBQ Pringles weaknesses. 

I would even admit a little guilt about my love of Reality TV, Mad Men, Soup, Project Runway and TMZ...  I watch way more tv than anyone I know, but justify that since I currently live alone, don't necessarily have to eat on a schedule and am knitting almost every minute I'm not asleep or at work.  I won't even go into my reading, computer and secret obsessions with Jon Bon Jovi and John Corbett...

Here's my list of why I justify any and all aspects of my knitting fixation:

1) It has probably kept me from weighing 300 pounds.  I'm not a small person or particularly fit, but I'm weird about making sure my hands are super-clean when I knit, so simultaneously eating ice cream, cookies or chocolate just won't work.  These are two completely separate activities in my world.  I've also been known to skip a meal or two on the weekend when caught up in a knitting project (who has time to stop and rustle up something?)

2) I truly feel like I am hypnotizing myself when I get into the rhythm of knitting.  The repetition opens up my right brain (as I mentioned in a previous post), I feel my blood pressure dropping and I slip into another place, like a trance.  I can't get that feeling from anything else I do and I'm definitely hooked on the feeling.

3) All my tv/movie watching is justifiable when I'm knitting something useful, creative and sometimes lucrative.  I have never been able to sit and stare at a screen without doing something simultaneously that accomplishes a goal.  Thanks to knitting, I am never bored, ever...

4) I have found a creative outlet that meshes with my talent and background.  I was working on quilts during my high school classesl, sewed many of my clothes from a young age and earned money in college doing alterations and custom sewing.  I always loved creating things, good design and fashion.   Designing my own knitting patterns and customizing someone's pattern is right up my alley.  Continually expanding my knitting skills and knowledge is challenging and addictive in its own way.

5) I've never been a collecter of things people usually collect, like thimbles, cats, shoes.  But I am a huge collecter of yarn and it makes me very happy.  My obese yarn stash is so large that it has its own rooms in both my residences.  Collecting yarn gives me something to search out anywhere I travel, from the handspun Amish Corriedale yarn to hand-dyed Blue Moon sock yarn in the "Siren Song" colorway from the Flock & Fiber Festival in Canby, OR.  I'm always on the search online and offline for good deals on beautiful fibers.  And knitting with my finds reminds me of when and where I found them, like a good souvenir should. 

6) The first place I go when I get online (after checking my email and this blog) is  I love that knitting community more than I can express and would've never been a part of it if I wasn't a knitter.  The comments, shared obsession and information from that website are an integral part of my life.

7) The pure pleasure and satisfaction I gain from knitting something awesome for a friend or family member that is loved and appreciated.  How better to show people you care about their importance to you?  The finished project is proof enough of that, but also the hours and hours of knitting time I spent thinking good things about them while working on the project certainly counts for something, like the Prayer Shawl phenomenon. That positive energy is worked into everything I knit.

8) I always have something portable to keep me occupied in any situation with my knitting projects.  Doesn't matter if I'm facing a long plane flight, long phone call or traffic jam.  I have a small project tucked in my purse (usually a sock) for any emergency.  Time flies when you're absorbed in a fun knit.

I could add dozens more reasons, but I would like to hear other peoples' opinions.  Why are you obsessed with knitting and how has it added to your quality of life?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting Is In the House

I am so excited to report my copy of the newly-hatched Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting  has arrived!  I am having a blast seeing my pattern, "Baby Corn", and my name and bio in print and enjoying the other forty pattern contributions, as well.  My pattern not only has a 4-page spread with two photographs, but made the back cover (see photos on the left).

Debbie Stoller's writing is awesome, as always, and the first half of the 356-page book is devoted to her humorous spin on advanced knitting instructions.  There are some great diagrams and insight into doing everything from knitting with beads and deciphering a lace knitting chart to designing your own sweater creations.  She has really outdone herself on this one.  I think it is the best Stitch 'N Bitch book yet.

As mentioned before, I will be attending Debbie's book signing at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland on November 7th at 4:00 pm.  I am 2/3 finished knitting the "Coco" cardigan from Superstar Knitting in black angora/merino and will hopefully be wearing it for the event.

I will also be having a giveaway here for 3 copies of the new book.  If you want your copy RIGHT NOW, click on the Amazon link and get it for a great price and quick.  Stay tuned for more info!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Current Knitting Projects

In between working full time and day-to-day domestic survival tasks, I do find plenty of time to knit. I manage to squeeze in 3-4 hours a day most days. It helps preserve my sanity, lowers my blood pressure and opens up my right brain very effectively. I keep Sharpie and paper handy always when I pick up my knitting. It feels like a door opens on my creativity about 15 minutes in to knitting, especially really repetitive knitting like stockinette or garter.

Several days ago I had one of the best "creative spillages" I've ever had. I had put in a stressful 9 hour day at work and finally sat down to work on a simple boy's pullover worked in stockinette with sock yarn (on size 3 needles). I had been working only a few minutes and was alternating between the knitting and watching my favorite Thursday night TV shows when the ideas started flowing. Out poured great solutions for the my new slipper design pattern, color combinations that had never crossed my mind, embellishments for future designs and new pattern designs. I was writing and sketching so fast that I almost couldn't keep up. It was great - probably the high point of my week. Hope it happens again soon!

Does this happen to anyone else? I would love to hear about other knitter's experiences with the whole right-brain phenomenon. It fascinates me to no end. Feel free to post your creativity stories below in the comments section.

Meanwhile, I'm back to finishing the second slipper of my newest design. I posted a picture of the first one to the left, along with several other recent projects both finished and in progress. I particularly like the pink cabled cardigan. It is for my 3 year old friend, Jocelyn, to keep her warm this fall and winter. She will wear nothing but pink, so this awesomely pink creation should tickle her fancy. It was kind of tedious with all the cabling and double-stranded yarn, but I love the way it turned out and can't wait to see it on Jocie.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Debbie Stoller's Book Tour

I was contacted by Debbie Stoller's publicist at Workman Publishing about her upcoming book tour to promote Superstar Knitting this fall/winter, since my "Baby Corn" dress design/pattern is included in the book. The tour starts November 1st, 2010, the same day the book is released. Debbie says she got a first copy this week and I'm expecting my copy soon. From what I have seen, it is definitely one to add to your knitting library.

I am helping to let people know where to find Debbie as she goes across the country on her tour. If you are in the areas she will be visiting, be sure to grab a copy of the new book, meet her and have her sign your book. I was fortunate enough to have gone on the first "Stitch 'N Beach" cruise in 2008 with Debbie and Shannon Okey, super talented knitters and really fun women!

Here's Debbie's tour schedule:

I will be at the Powell's event in Portland, OR on Sunday, November 7th at 4:00 pm.

According to the publicist, Debbie will also be at The Yarn Garden at 1413 SE Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, November 6th at 6:00 pm. I plan to be at this event as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

SSS Part 2

The shop had been a gratifying experience and turned me on to knitting. I had just had a pattern accepted for the next Stitch 'N Bitch book (Superstar Knitting) and was excited about whiling away the days in my new knitting studio designing more patterns. This was going to be my ideal retirement, or so I thought...

Unfortunately, fate had another plan. My husband was diagnosed with malignant melanoma with about a 50/50 chance of surviving the next 5 years. He had surgery to remove the original tumor and no melanoma cells were found in his sentinel lymph nodes, which was the good news. The bad news was our private health insurance wanted rid of us a soon as possible with that diagnosis. No other private insurance companies would accept someone with that pre existing condition, either. I was forced to return to Edward Jones in Tyler, TX as an office administrator to qualify for the group health insurance since Mike was having countless CT scans, MRI's, biopsies and removal of other suspicious skin growths.

Back to a 45 hour a week job (long commute) I barely had time to knit anything, much less devote any significant time to designing new patterns. I managed to do that almost a year before getting re-licensed as a financial advisor and hitting the road as a Transition Rep. I figured the constant travelling and weeks at a time in hotels would give me more design time and a better paycheck.

I covered 18 offices without a financial advisor in the almost two years I travelled all over the US. I got to visit some awesome yarn shops everywhere I went and churned out more knitting than I had while parked in east Texas. Fortunately, my husband has remained melanoma-free and beaten the odds. He stayed in Texas while my youngest daughter finishes high school this year.

A combination of events brought me back to the Portland, Oregon area. Since my two older daughters and Spuds (my grandson) live in the area, I was spending more and more "weekends home" here. I came in from the road, moved to a really great loft in the Hillsboro area and Edward Jones friends needed an office administrator a mere 5 minute walk from my current place (no commute). Fortunately I have been able to go to a 4 day work week and focus the other 3 days a week on my knitting and designing.