The blog is about 10 years old. I know this because the age of the pages is showing up while I’ve been working on them for the last few hours.
2001-2007 involved following my spouse around the country and trying to figure out what to do with myself and how to hold myself together until we settled down. I did have some great career related experiences, which has led to my current day job, but there was A LOT of down time. Enough so that in one of these rural towns we ended up in, I speculated on opening my own business in the event that we settled there. I thought a yarn shop would be nice, so I named it in three fates knitting in my head, dreamed of what I’d carry and tried to work out what new textile skills I might need to pick up. (I even spent a day or two digging around in the library trying to come up with a cool name for a shop.)
I learned how to knit over thirty years ago, but I hadn’t become obsessed until around the start of this blog. Ten years ago I was living in Colorado. I had made ONE pair of rather boring plain socks in sort of okay yarn, but they weren’t anything I wanted to wear. I had messed very unsuccessfully with Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks, when the Yarn Harlot crashed into my life.
This post of Yarn Harlot’s shows two friends holding up socks they made. I didn’t even know that they knit. The next post of hers mentions these beautiful Potmatomus socks and then knitty and the rest of the internet that involved knitting crashed into my life. Within weeks I had found Lorna’s Laces sock yarn and with new determination set about making a pair of socks. If you don’t already know from my recent instagram post, an obsession with sock yarn soon followed.
I moved to Minnesota with my spouse who had a one-year renewable teaching post at St. Olaf. I had a high-quality volunteer job and fun retail job during our last two years in Colorado Springs. (The first two I was a decently paid environmental consultant.) It was such a great volunteer job that I was rather unwilling to fling myself at just anyone. I got a holiday season yarn-shop job and took on a series of baffling temp jobs. These involved working with a marketing group, packing dog bones, stamping gift bags and scheduling education testing. For some reason, as a person with a masters degree in environmental law I was unemployable in a two-college town.
We were there about nine months, just long enough for other knitters to sink their needles in and for me to get a ravelry account. I spent the days between jobs reading knitting blogs, trying new patterns, listening to knitting pod-casts, meeting Minnesota knitters, competed in sock madness, wrote about yarn shops I visited, entered new patterns into ravelry and applied for jobs. I also lamented my inability to focus on learning more about my chosen field, or trying to pick a new one, entering an online Ph.D. program, or writing a novel. There was a lot of down time. I played computer games for several hours a day.
When we got to Oregon, I got a one year AmeriCorps position through the University of Oregon, in which I ran a Farmers’ Market, took leadership classes and conducted a Community Facilities Assessment. When my contract ended, the economy was plumetting and the job prospects invisible. Our life stable, so we thought about having a child and I opened a dye kit.
I made my first etsy sale on October 4, 2008 (see picture at the top of the post) and I was pregnant probably about two or three weeks after that. My daughter was born during the first sock summit in August of 2009. I thought I’d never hold a paid job again that didn’t involve a cash register or a clipboard. I spent two and half years trying to be the absolute best stay at home parent/small business owner I could.
Given that I wasn’t offered a half-time job until December of 2011, I think I made a good call. I had a tough time even applying for it because I thought it might kill my business. I was wrong. I even work there a little more now.
I like my life this way. I cook for our family, snuggling my daughter for a few minutes in the evening between dinner and bedtime. I wind yarn and grade papers or pay bills. I lug around equipment and talk about knitting all day. I dig through the recycling, pulling out trash. I set up meetings and try to work out how to put in new bicycle racks. I go to the dentist and get my hair cut. I order take out. I calculate the kilowatt-hours needed to run a college in a year. I meet students to plant trees and herbs. I plan faculty workshops. I take pictures for Instagram. I attend music concerts and swim lessons. I contemplate the best way to teach climate change. I shop for clothes and toys. I plan community events with environmentally minded friends and colleagues. We go to the farmers’ market, garden, meet with friends and play board games. We go hiking and try snowboarding and skiing. Visitors come by. We attend weddings and funerals. I balance the checkbook and plan for the future. I try to figure out how I can lessen the environmental impact of the textile industry – a subject for another time.
Some days, I paint. All of the noise disappears as do the nagging self-doubts and concerns about the future and disappointments about the past. I stop thinking about the taxes and nutrition and all of the ifs, ands, buts and maybes vanish. Even the sadness I feel about the plight of lemurs, the loss of the black rhinoceros, concern for coral reefs and oregon seastars and quiet down for a time.
The only thing in front of me is color, one after another, after another.
Here is the thing. If you lose a sense of awe and of beauty in the world, you will diminish your ability to love and care for the world around you.