On Knitting and Good People

Gentle reader,

I’m hoping this finds you well and happy and positively brimming with mirth and satisfaction after spending some quality time with your family – whether that be the family you were born with or the family you chose, or both! – and if not and this time of year is just a big ol’ pain in the rump then, drat it all to hell and tell me who I need to give some seriously stinky side-eye to, cuz I got yo’ back.

I suppose it’s also that time in which people take stock of the year behind them as they leap into the year ahead, and this Shy Lion guy over here isn’t any different. And so here are my ruminations on life and the people in it.

lifeislikeknitting-header

Sometimes, life is like knitting, and you are the knitter. As you pass the time, your knitting grows and grows and stretches down from your hands, the fabric gradually becoming neater and more assured. Your tension evens out, becomes steady, consistent and reliable. Your stitch definition becomes crisper and cleaner, and the patterns more and more complex and interesting.

Sometimes you will encounter people who just don’t get it. They won’t understand your knitting. They won’t see the time and effort that goes into every stitch. They won’t see the difference between garter and moss stitch. They won’t see your winding stretches of cables and understand that hanging, breathless moment when you crossed those stitches without a cable needle for the first time. They don’t understand that you couldn’t just sell your knitting, or see the difference between what you spent days, months, years learning to do, practicing, refining, and what someone programmed a machine to do.

But, there are other knitters who understand that this fabric – your fabric – took time and that sometimes it was a joy and sometimes hard won. They understand the time and control it took to knit smooth, even Fair Isle without puckering or Intarsia without holes. They know exactly how it feels to frog hours of work, they understand that sometimes you just don’t feel like weaving in your ends once in a blue moon.

And there are people who don’t knit but wish they could. They don’t know how those folded hems came to be folded, or how a few different stitches repeated over and over turned into the most intricate lace, but they love it and appreciate it all the same. They can sense the effort and the knowledge that went into it and they’re content enough with that, and perhaps are more special because of it. When you share your knitting with them, they treasure it, and handle it with care.

These people are your friends and your family. They are close to you because they can read your life the way other knitters can read your knitting. They understand your bumps and scrapes the way knitters understand your frogs and tinks. They know your joys and sorrows like knitters know your favorite colors or your preference for DPN over magic loop. And in the same way that someone doesn’t know how a sweater knits up but admire it enthusiasm anyway, maybe some of them don’t know how you came to be in their lives but are grateful that you’re there.

And in the same way that you go back to your favorite knitting groups or yarn stores or blogs, you keep those people close because they’re priceless and they’re special and you have them in your heart, always.

lifeislikeknitting-pic

 

Thank you so much for joining The Shy Lion for some crafty adventures in 2013, I’m super grateful for your company.  I hope you’ll come along for 2014, too! Share what you’ve been grateful for this year below!

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My Father, The Bonsai Master

Gentle reader,

I love my folks. I’m properly close to my Ma and Pa. Sometimes I suspect I’m adopted because they’re far more awesome than I could ever hope to be. My Pa is one of those people who are so talented at everything that it makes the color drain from your face and throw up in your mouth a little bit because you may as well pack up and go home, but in a good way.  ^_~

One of his more recent hobbies is bonsai plants. The other week he sent me an email with some photos of his plants as some of them were in flower. I was so taken with them that I simply had to share them with you.

Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Ralphie,

Not sure if this is going to work, but here goes.
I have attached some photos of by bonsais, the bougainvillea is just gorgeous and my desert rose is just starting to flower, it’s pretty too.

Luv Pa.

His nickname for me is Ralphie. None of us remember why. When I asked him if there was any info he particularly wanted me to include, he said “Just point out that my bonsai  skills are still in their infancy.” If these are his amateur bonsai, I’m fairly certain that his expert ones will make my eyes bleed with awe and incredulity. But anyway, here’s the bougainvillea; isn’t it a thing to behold?

The little thing in the corner of the pot is a little ceramic pagoda. I also feel a bit bad for cropping of Buddha’s head! Oops! Sorry, B-man!

This one is the desert rose. Isn’t it wonderful!? I wish I’d inherited Pa’s green thumb, but unfortunately I haven’t had tooooo much luck so far. Maybe I’ll have another attempt at gardening at our next house. But, I’ll leave the bonsai to him… that’d be biting off a bit more than I can chew, I think!

Pa has lots of other amazing hobbies that I’m sure I’ll share with you sooner or later. He also does decorative knot work (more in the maritime knot tradition rather than macrame, I think. It’s a bit different) which is kind of amazeballs. I have a rope mat that he made me, and some key chain charms. I love ’em!

Thanks for letting me brag about my Pa! I do adore him so. I’ll have some more knitting and crochet for you very soon! The last few posts have been all sorts of different things – I hope you liked ’em – but don’t worry, the yarn-iness will be back, I promise!

What interesting hobbies and talents are there within your family? It’s your turn to brag about your famz in the comments! Sharezies!

December Travels – Chapter One

Gentle reader,

As many of you may know, I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane about a year ago and these holidays I’m spending two weeks in my home state of Queensland. Week one is almost down, and here are a few highlights! (Please forgive the iffy picture quality; some of the shots and all of the editing were done on my iPod and iPad!)

First, the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane!

I LOVE flying, and I love flying even better when you take off before dark and are still in the air after dark. These pictures don’t do the amazing horizon justice. Also, I love photographing clouds. I think they’re totes amazing.

Clearly, she is a model and I am not.

My best friend Panda picked me up from the airport and I stayed at her place in Brisbane which she shares with Audra and Eden who are also amazing peeps and were so generous with their hospitality.

Over the few days I was there, we checked out some great stores, got a Totoro phone trinket, ate crazy amounts of Bread Top, went to visit our lovely friend Kath and her beautiful shop, Handmade High Street. We also went on a wild goose chase for yarn stores – one was shut and one didn’t exist anymore – before we finally made it to Tangled Yarns, which is AMAZEBALLS. They stock Berocco, Pierrot (my fave!), Cascade 220, madelainetosh, and Malabrigo. I’ll definitely be going back there. We also wandered through an antique/bric-a-brac store where I picked up some delightful old knitting patterns (more on that later!). I also got to catch up with my adorable friends, Alf and Robert.

Suzie, the lovely lady, and Larry, the resident water dragon.

On the Sunday, I visited Judy, one of my favorite people ever (you may remember her from my post about the crochet bolero I did a while back). Her and her husband Peter made the most delicious BBQ lunch, and we relaxed on their back veranda while Suzie and Larry kept us company.

Judy's hat, made from Noro Kochoran.

I also snapped Judy in the hat I knitted for her (and finished the night before). I made it using the Hurricane Hat pattern by Andrea Goutier with Noro Kochoran yarn. I’m not sure what color way, because it was just a left over ball from something with no label. I don’t know why, but all those shots came out blurry. Oy. But, Kate will be pleased that I’ve posted another FO. Happy, Kate!? Geesh. ^_~

"Sah-kurity!"

I also managed to get a bit done on my Bon Qui Qui cross stitch. The picture is terrible, but you get an idea. I drew Bon Qui Qui on some graph paper and then used colored pencils to figure out my color blocking, and then started stitching. I’ve got a looooong way to go, but it was nice to do something a bit different.

Pan-Pan! I miss you already! (Also, is my bottom lip really that big? Oy.)

Finally, on Monday, Panda dropped me off at the bus depot to catch a Greyhound to my home town. I was super sad to say buh-bye to Pan, and there were some friends I just didn’t have time to visit. But, I was so excited to see my folks, and we’ve been having a great time so far. More to come!

How is your holiday season going so far? ^_^

– R

Words To Live By

Gentle reader,

I’ll not talk around it: I’m an only child and I love my parents and often I miss them. Sometimes so intensely that I can barely think about anything else. I’ll own it. I think being a Mama’s and Papa’s boy is a far better stereotype to live up to as an only child than a spoiled brat.

So, as it goes, I’ve been really missing my Ma the past few weeks. I’ve been knitting her a shawl using some totes yummy Rowan yarn. But, I can knit all I want and she won’t know I was thinking of her until she gets it. So, I decided some snail mail was well overdue, and I picked out this card a few days ago in my travels:

Words to live by.

I thought the sentiment was bang on, although I’m sure my Ma would say that there was a relatively lengthy period that began somewhere around the fourteen-year mark when I did nothing but question my mother (she might even say that this period hasn’t truly ended even…). My family also has a running game of sending mail to whacky made-up names. The envelope I’ve just written out is address to “Myfanwy McGillicutty”.

That’s all for me, tonight. I’ll be dropping this little letter in the mail tomorrow. If she’s not close, why don’t you send your mama some love, perhaps in amusing card form!

 

Cheers, Big Ears

Gentle reader,

It has been very remiss of me for not posting sooner. I have taken on a casual office job on top of my yarn store job, and between those two and teaching, I’ll not have a single day off for two weeks! Eeep! I have many things on the go which I can’t wait to show you, but they had to go on the back burner while I finished off my Pa’s birthday present.

Some background… my immediate family has many in-jokes and sayings that make rather little sense to anyone else, and many of those are what you might say are call-and-response style things in so far as certain expressions require a certain reply. One of these is a farewell that Pa and I often use, usually at the close of a phone conversation. One of us will say “Cheers, Big Ears!” to which the somewhat… colorful… response is “F*$k you, Noddy!”. Apologies for the cussing! I have no idea where the expression came from – I suspect it’s an old pub toast perhaps – but it tickles us. We will often try to incite the other to say the Noddy half of the exchange in the most inappropriate of places (Pa has the trophy so far – he managed to get me to say it quite loudly in the university library during study week).

Noddy & Big Ears (Mr Pod in the background)

And so, in the spirit of Subversive Cross Stitch, I decided that this would be an excellent birthday present for my kooky father (and I will not lie, the ‘sequel’ for his Christmas gift is something I’m looking forward to!)

Poor Noddy...

Next up is Mothers’ Day, but I don’t think I will be making anything for that (I have a gift picked out already), so I will have plenty to show you soon. Until then, hug your folks if they’re there to be hugged!