Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How To Get Through Winter

As you know, this is The Year of Creativity for me. You can tell because of all of my artistic face tattoos.

It's been a really good focus for me for 2017. I've immersed myself in more writing and Strangervilling and that has been incredibly therapeutic. Strangerville Live, which we launched at the beginning of the year as a part of my Year of Creativity has been one of the most fun projects I've ever had. And all of it so far has led up to my niece telling me that my hair is "a little out of hand."

Seriously. If you haven't listened yet, you need to check out The World of Babysitting. These stories are giving me life right now.



The last few weeks of work have been like a roller coaster for me. A really long, unfortunately-bumpy roller coaster that often happens until about 2:00 in the morning. But without the fun parts.

So I decided that I needed to take on a new creative hobby because my life philosophy is why be exceptional at a few things when you can be pretty bad at a lot of things?


The last couple of winters I have felt guilty about how much time I spend in front of the TV to just avoid being outside and so I really don't want to go through another Salt Lake winter season, rotting my mind with nothing to show for it. So I decided I need to make a plan for this year.

I'm not going to stop watching TV. That's simply not an option. Cutting out TV and replacing it with something else is off the table. Stop trying to put it on the table.

NO.

Fuller House Season 4 isn't going to watch itself!

So the only other option is to multi-task. Which is why I decided, yesterday, to start knitting.

Cue every single "OMG Eli you are so lonely/grandma/get a cat already/your shirts are too tight/how does your hair do that" joke.

I know nothing about knitting. But I texted my sister, Krishelle, and demanded that she teach me.

She mentioned that there's an old house in my neighborhood converted into a knitting store (something that I previously did not know existed) and she sent me there with a long list of instructions.

I found this house, walked up the steps, and pushed the door open. Inside there was the trendiest-looking 50-year-old I've ever seen in my life. But like, trendy in the if-Mother-Goose-was-on-a-Dolce-and-Gabbona-commercial kind of way.

She looked up at me.

Woman: Excuse me. This is a private residence. You are trespassing.

Eli: Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry! I thought this was a store!

Woman: Just kidding! Get in here, bitch!

I thought I was tripping acid. NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT ACID IS.

I nervously entered. The store/house was half-filled with people, mostly women, picking out yarn, sitting by the fire knitting, and chatting over tea.

If Santa and Mrs. Claus were real people who had a real house I assume it would look just like this place.

A swooping staircase in the middle of the main floor was lined with knitting projects that I might have been able to fully appreciate if I knew the first thing about knitting.

The woman, whom I shall call Betty-Lou because that's what her name should be, welcomed me in.

Betty-Lou: Now what is a nice young man without a known criminal history doing in a place like this?

Eli: Well, I want to start knitting so this winter when people say "what did you do all weekend" I can say "I made a sweater" instead of "I binge-watched That's So Raven" even though the latter will be true.

Betty-Lou: Good. You already understand that the entire enterprise of knitting is a front. What do you want to knit?

Eli: I don't know. A scarf? Because that seems easy.

Betty-Lou: Great. I'll getting you started on a scarf and then you should come back in two weeks when you abandon the project and we'll teach you how to make a hat instead.

When I asked "why" she thought I would abandon the scarf, she said something about Rome not being built in a day and that's why there's only ever been one Rome and even that one got half abandoned.

I don't know. I was fixated on her lecture about how there are actually eleventy hundred kinds of knitting needles. I previously thought there was only one kind.

By this point a whole army of knitters was standing behind me, uttering encouragements in unison about what I should and should not buy.

Eventually a man used a machine that is either from the future or from the Middle Ages, and it's one of those two and not any year between, to take the yarn I just bought and roll it into a neat ball that I actually don't want to unravel because it looks so nice just how it is.

When I left the place every single person inside was wishing me luck and saying goodbye. It looked exactly like the So Long, Farewell scene from The Sound of Music. Except instead of kids it was elderly women and instead of Nazis being the national enemy threatening to take everyone down . . . no actually just the elderly women part.

When I got home I immediately watched every video on Youtube including this one twice to learn how to get started and then I knitted away.

17 hours later I had a four-inch scarf.

That's long enough, right? Most scarfs are four inches?

~It Just Gets Stranger

44 comments:

  1. I'm more of a latch hook kind of gal myself. Knitting is complicated. I have a latch hook pillow with a panda on it. #winning

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    1. Oh my gosh, I'd forgotten about latch hook. It was the only kind of craft that I had any patience for. We have a latch hook santa rug that my mom brings out every Christmas that all of my siblings and I worked on. It looks terrible but I'm still kind of proud of it.

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    2. If I'm remembering what latch hook was, my mother used those 'hot pads' I made for YEARS in all my neon colors.

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  2. This brings me so much joy. My mom taught me to knit in high school to help distract me from a nasty breakup. I got my friends into it, and it turned into a whole trend and a knitting club at my school. 12 years later, and my house is full of abandoned projects. I love knitting but it takes SO LONG. It’s like losing weight. After a two mile run, you expect your skinny jeans to fit again. Hours of knitting later and you have a 4 inch scarf. The only thing I’ve finished and done well is a baby blanket for my daughter. I’m not sure if I’m more proud of the baby I made or the blanket.

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  3. I SO want to see photos of that shop, Betty-Lou, AND your scarf!!!

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  4. This makes me so incredibly happy! I shall follow your knitting progress with considerable interest, young man. I still treasure the first scarf I ever knitted. Just kidding! I threw that *bleep* away! But the one after that, I kept. It gets easier and more satisfying and more addictive... I'll just knit one more row. Just one more. And one more. Scarves are supposed to be ten feet long, right?)

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  5. You should check out the Stich and Bitch book (I can’t believe Betty-Lou didn’t recommend it!); it was super helpful for learning how to knit! I’m a really impatient knitter, so if my scarf or hat isn’t done in two hours or less, I’m out. I have a lot of abandoned projects haha! Side note, there are SO many needle sizes, but I tend to use bigger ones and big yarn so I can get a chunky scarf done quickly that way (though people will tell you that you look even more ridiculous when using giant needles)

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  6. The first thing i did in Vienna was go to the most ridiculously tiny, and adorable? And perfect yarn shop. I taught myself to crochet three years ago and then knit about a year ago and yes to all the “its addicting” mentions. I can’t tell you how many nights i watch “one more episode” of lab rats just so i can do that “one more row”. Also, if you know what just so Raven is but not lab rats then Netflix recommendations has failed you. A.R.

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  7. Don't abandon your scarf! It will be fab when you're done! I have been knitting for several years and it's therapeutic, cathartic, and can be so creative. When anyone tells you it's complicated, remind them that most complicated looking stitches are just a combination of the basic knit and purl. Then you'll sound like such an experienced knitter.

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  8. I just saw an advertisement for a knitting bowl that you put your yarn in on the Facebook. I have no idea why I saw this advertisement - I've never in my life looked up anything on knitting. Is FB now looking into my future and knew I would read a post from you about knitting????? I'm seriously freaked out now!

    Okay - not really - but the bowl looked cool and I think you should check it out!

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  9. OMG! Did we just become best friends?!?!?

    Ok, but seriously, if you need any help in a non-physical because I live thousands of miles away way you can totally send me pictures of your quandary and I will tell you how many places you went horribly wrong!! (And possibly how to fix everything without having to make eye contact with anyone) #truefriendship

    The reason Betty-Lou mentioned the hat might have been because 4 inches of hat is half a hat, and 4 inches of scarf is not as much as you were hoping for. I'm glad she was up front with you.

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  10. I need to know more about this store--like do they only specialize in knitting? Or could I go there with my crocheting questions? Also, I think we all want to see pictures of your four inch scarf in our weekly pictures and distractions.

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  11. I have the attention span of a squirrel. My late Grandma H left a bazillion and one knitting needles and crochet hooks, my mother gave me exactly half of them. Why? I have no idea, I can't do handiwork without throwing a tantrum every 2 minutes, because.hard.

    I have asked numerous kind, elderly ladies (mostly women I'm related to) to teach me how to knit or crochet. Every single time I attempt this I turn them into rage machines. My problem? When I make a mistake I can't leave it in the design, I have to unravel the whole damn project and start over. Which is why the only scarf I ever made was about 1 inch wide and 8 inches long, so a fabulous maxi-scarf for a barbie.

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  12. Knitting has always seemed to involve a tough mix of trick shots and boy scout knots that I promptly forgot when girl's camp ended, so I've never really tried it.

    Crochet, however, is pretty simple :)

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  13. Ok, imo crocheting is THE way to go. It's much faster, requires less coordination, and is so much easier to unravel when you mess something up (but some of us just leave those beauty marks in because we can't all look like Eli's hair).

    But also random knitting story: my now-husband learned to knit from his sister-in-law several years ago, before we started dating. He would sit in the student center at school and just knit away at this very ugly, very misshapen, very useless scarf thing, which we still have sitting half-finished in a box (though, since we aren't sure what it IS, it's hard to say when it will be finished?). I thought it was the weirdest and most adorable habit ever at the time (still do). For our first Christmas together, he knit me a purse while he was working on finals, and i think that's when I knew I was going to marry him.

    How does one sign off on a blog comment? Like is this just then end? Or do I sing "So Long, Farewell"? I'm confused.

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    1. It depends on whether you are dressed like a Viennese child in the 40s.

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    2. They were from Salzburg, not Vienna! You need to rewatch all 4 hours of The Sound of Music while you knit!

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    3. I’m embarrassed. I even biked through Salzburg once!

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    4. It's one of the most beautiful cities on earth, isn't it? I've also biked there - I got to live there for 6 months on a study abroad. One of the best experiences of my life.

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  14. Knitting is the literal worst. Worse than Glee. Learn how to crochet! Much less swearing involved :)

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    1. That's assuming he doesn't enjoy swearing, ya never know. Half the reason I go to yoga class is to curse under my breath every time I struggle in a pose, which is every pose, except maybe shavasana.

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    2. Not that we know what swearing is!

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    3. I can't even play innocent with that Nicole. I lived in Ireland, worked for a touring band, and was married to a Marine...my vocabulary is very, um, colorful.

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    4. In my house we call them adult words. There are only two things my son has been told he should never ever say - the rest he has been told he needs to wait until he is an adult because until then he will get in trouble for using them (although not from us - I've never once punished my child for saying a curse word - I'm sure he's lacking some necessary immunity since his mouth has never been washed out with soap).

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    5. I 2nd the crochet comment, I never learned to knit. What is this two stick witchcraft that you speak of?

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  15. I've been crocheting since high school (so many moons ago...) and still have never finished a blanket I set out to make. Most of my blankets turn into scarves or get unravelled and turned into other projects. I've found that I work on different projects at different points in my week. I have a flat piece that I refuse to call a potential blanket that I work on when I need the mindless, soothing motion and when I want to actively work on something I'll make a stuffed animal instead. Crafting is totally an excuse to have multiple things started but never finished, you never know when you'll pick it back up again and that's okay!

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  16. Honey, there are only 3 seasons of Fuller House. Although I would love it if they get renewed for a 4th. I am not ashamed of my love of all things Full House.

    You made it farther than I did with knitting. My first (and basically only) knitting attempt was just 5 rows of practice stitches from the tutorial in the front of the book. I didn't even get to a project! I prefer cross-stitching personally, although I have been pretty ok with crochet in the past.

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  17. I started knitting about 5 years ago, blankets and scarves. I accidentally ended up making a king size blanket because I forgot how many balls of yarn I used on one section and ended up with two half blankets that were very different lengths. I have learned, though, that if you use larger knitting needles, then after 4 hours you'll have closer to 8 inches of scarf (or blanket), and the super bulky yarn makes quick work of things. Plus now you'll have a hobby that will help keep you warm while you sit on the couch binge-watching.

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  18. Have you seen those chunky knit blankets all over the interwebs? I watched this video of this girl making one using no needles just her arms!Apparently you can make one in like an hour. I am sure it would take me eleventy years since I haven't knitted or crocheted in years but I am tempted to try.

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    1. Matt told me that they are releasing the second half of season 3 (or season 4?) soon. Did he lie?!

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    2. Ok. He didn't lie. The next batch of episodes comes out on December 22. But it's still technically season 3 so I should amend the post above.

      http://www.tvguide.com/g00/news/fuller-house-season-3b-premiere-date/?i10c.encReferrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8%3D

      Oh. NOT THAT I'M STILL WATCHING IT.

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    3. I love that this comment is here instead of in reply to Brittany (who I'm presuming it was intended for)

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    4. Haha, it's ok. Nobody's perfect, not even Eli (except for his hair, obviously).

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  19. Check out ravelry.com Knitting is awesome.

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  20. I love that store! I've crocheted for years, but knitting was a scary unknown to me. I went there and declared that I wanted to learn to knit last winter. After spending eleventy billion hours trying to pick just the right yarn (which they used a whole different language to describe, I swear), they sent me home and said to come back Saturday when they would teach me how to knit a hat.

    Somehow, after sitting by the fire for a few hours on a Saturday, I was sent back home with a half-finished brim and a page of instructions. They assured me that if I correctly followed said instructions, I would end up with something resembling a hat. Exactly 1 season of a show I won't admit to ever watching later, I was in possession of a russet colored beanie. It was like magic!

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    1. At least give us a hint on what show you watched!

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  21. I started knitting squares for a baby blanket when I was 10. I got half of a square done, and turned it into a cat toy for my grandmas new kitten. I now hate knitting, but crocheting is rad! I’ve made numerous wash clothes and pot holders, way more than any one person could ever need, but you’ve now inspired me to take up crocheting again.

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  22. This is exactly the reason I crochet! I love having something to work on while I watch tv. I'm currently working on a lap afghan, to be followed by cupcake pot holders. Yay, Christmas gifts! One of these days, I'll make something for my own home... Good luck!

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  23. Crochet! You need to learn to crochet!! No dropped stitches! Plus you can make oh so cute stuffed animals for the nieces! LOL Love your description of the yarn shop so dang true....

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  24. I'm still stuck on the part where you inferred that 50 is old.

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    1. Fun fact - Rue McClanahan was 51 years old when Golden Girls first aired. Let THAT sink in!

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  25. I learned to knit in grad school because of (hello!) the stress. But I never progressed beyond dishcloths. I had dozens of dishcloths. So about 15 years later, I took a class for the one purpose of progressing beyond 6 x 6 pieces of pseudo-cloth. I mainly make shawls and socks but have made a couple of sweaters too. It is very therapeutic and my gifts are always a big hit at the family grab bag at Christmas. A few years ago I taught myself to crochet and love it too. My husband calls me a needle savant. Now I have dozens of crocheted dishcloths but several blankets too.

    I am NOT CREATIVE AT ALL so knitting and crocheting are it.

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  26. I hate you a little bit over the YouTube link. I clicked on it because I thought "What knitting video would Eli watch twice?" And then it was HER. The lady who did "Excuse My Christmas." I'm super annoyed, but also I can't stop laughing. (It's playing in the background as I type this.)

    Pictures of your four inch scarf, please!

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  27. MY KNITTA!! (Bob's Burger's reference, anyone?) I learned to crochet when I was a kid, but started knitting in my early 30s and I never looked back. (I'm one of those "trendy" 50-year-olds you mentioned above hashstagNotOld) It's all about what works best for you, but for me, knitting is SO. MUCH. COOLER. You can make so many things that you just can't with crochet – socks, gloves, sweaters, etc. (well, you can crochet them, but you'll look like a 6th grader whose granny doesn't take no for an answer), so keep on knittin', my friend. Over the years, I've progressed from scarves to socks to gloves to sweaters. I just finished a Celtic cabled hooded sweater for my son (http://www.figheadh.com/patterns/sweaters/men's/P_S_IHP.html), which is the most awesome thing I've ever made.

    And I wholeheartedly concur with the comment above that said to get on Ravelry. LOVE that site!

    Some helpful hints: learn RIGHT NOW how to knit with circular needles (you'll thank me later); use wood needles (you'll thank me later); and spend the extra money on good quality natural fibers and don't use crappy acrylic yarn (you'll really thank me later). Yours truly, Tracy (a.k.a. Yarn Whore)

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