#mendormodifynine

I've been quietly participating in the #2018makenine challenge and I am sort of surprised by how nice it is to follow along on Instagram.  I give a little mental hurrah! for every finished project I see in this feed because I know part of what that finished project would have entailed and the resulting spark of happiness it brings.  I like knowing there are people out there making joy.

I mentioned in my previous post that my #2018makenine is pretty unambitious, at least comparatively.  I have all the materials and patterns in my stash already so there isn't any time being spent on sourcing, some of my projects are WiPs, and several others are of the small and simple variety (which is not why I have suddenly taken an interest in sock knitting).  (See previous post.)

However, the operative word is "comparatively".  As far as I'm concerned, my list presents a decent challenge for me since I am good at making lists and not so good at making time.  It probably doesn't help that I seem to lay down multiple obstacles to my making of anything for a variety of reasons, one of which is guilt--the guilt that I "should be doing more important things".  Which is entirely true, but if I actually got right down to doing those important things instead of finding some other unrelated task to work on (such as blogging or surfing), I'd probably have time left over to indulge my love of knitting and sewing, right?

Anyhow, I've been seeing lots of pants and Ginger Jeans popping up in my IG feed and it got me thinking that indeed, I really could use a pair of well-fitting pants and/or jeans.  Pants are a bugbear if you don't have the body of a runway model.  I am not at all trying to suggest we'd all be better off if we'd only been born with a "better" set of genes.  What I mean is that there are so many ways a pair of pants won't fit a female body, and that most manufacturers, in all their wisdom, have chosen their average proportions from the rather narrow segment of the population we have collectively deemed "better looking than the rest of us".  The rest of us just have to squeeze in or cinch or resort to wearing long cardigans or all of the above.

If you've ever attempted drafting a pant pattern for yourself, you would know just how many measurements and calculations are required and unless you are a master pattern drafter, you still have to tweak and tweak again and then some.  But sewing experience isn't at all necessary to have intimate knowledge of the fact that pants are hard to fit.  Trying to buy pants off the rack is a bit of a nightmare for a lot of women and I suspect that's why so many of us have a predilection for bifurcated garments with spandex.

Also, this is the reason I own an entirely ridiculous number of RTW pants.  And why about 80% of them don't get worn.*  I don't sew my own pants anymore (see previous paragraph) so I buy them (entirely too often) but so, SO rarely do they ever fit straight off the rack.  At the very least, they will require hemming.  I'm under average height and since pants usually come with a little extra inseam to not exclude the reasonably tall people among us, I have to hack off a good chunk so that I'm not sporting donuts around my ankles or tripping over my own feet.  (Nowadays, I just say no to flares, for my own safety.)**  But, in truth, many don't even get hemmed because in my heart of hearts, I know that I won't likely wear them because they are bunching a little too much somewhere or sagging a bit elsewhere.  Of course, I don't make that admission until it's well too late for returns or exchanges.

 And this is just the pile that I want to start with.  The required modifications here range from simple hemming to over-dyeing to something just shy of a miracle.

And this is just the pile that I want to start with.  The required modifications here range from simple hemming to over-dyeing to something just shy of a miracle.

You'd think that a three-way mirror and my own good sense would have prevented me from repeatedly making this mistake, yet here I am with very few pants to wear and far too many pairs in my closet that are almost wearable.  Clearly, the answer to my troubles is not more shopping.  For a moment, I thought the answer was to buckle down and make my own pants, but every time I open my closet or that particular dresser drawer, I see that stack of clothes (and let's be clear, it's not just pants or just RTW***) which, with a few hours of work and a perhaps a little creativity, could become useful, contributing members of my wardrobe.  Which is where the #mendormodifynine hashtag comes in.

I'm setting this challenge for myself, not to necessarily mend or modify nine articles of clothing in 2018, but to use the remaining nine months of this year to practice.  To practice the arts of mending and modifying and to practice the new decision-making processes that I want to develop when it comes to consuming, hoarding, and discarding material things.  I want to use that time that I practice to think about how I came to have the current consumption habits I have and how I can modify those behaviours to reflect my ideals and my concerns.

When I think about my thought processes for deciding what I wanted and subsequently, what I bought, I'm starting to see how many lies I had to tell myself and how many conclusions I avoided making to justify all those things.  But this challenge isn't about the mea culpas or atonement, although they kind of figure in a little bit because I can't help myself. It's about learning how to go forward with what I have, and learning more about how I can make better decisions as a consumer.  I'd like to make #mendormodify something that I do as a matter of course and not just a single-use hashtag on IG.****


Footnotes

*Full disclosure, not all of that 80% have a fit issue. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I don't stray far from the path of trendiness.  You'd have a hard time getting me to enter a public space wearing a pair of low-rise, whiskered jeans circa 2005

**This isn't really a footnote on the text.  This is just the point in my editing where a few mistaken keystrokes erased about two hours of writing and editing and I uttered a litany of curses upon the House of Squarespace for their evil wysiwyg editor.  Until I reluctantly admitted that it was entirely my fault--this time.  But still, it was way too easy to accidentally erase all that work.  When will I EVER learn to write all the text in a different app, one that has a revision history???

***I don't like to claim that I make my own clothes because they fit better or are nicer than RTW because the evidence (which is jammed into the farthest reaches of my closet) proves otherwise. Sure, I have made items that I love and use, but I have also sewn and knit a number of garments that never made it out the front door.  A few of those are going into the "modify it" queue this year.

****I don't expect this hashtag to catch on since I can safely assume this blog post will just take its place in the food chain of the internet somewhere between plankton and krill.

(Not the Heisenberg) uncertainty principle

It took me a long while, but I eventually learned to never say never.  Things can change.  Circumstances, ideas, and above all, people, can change.  Or at the very least, if a person isn't opening her narrow mind to the infinity of possibilities, she can rephrase her sentiments.  For example, a knitter who would once emphatically proclaim: "I would never knit socks" might instead say something like, "I'm not really a sock knitter", thereby introducing the possibility, if not the probability that sock knitting might happen in her life.  Likewise, another knitter might have spent the last decade firmly entrenched in the belief that project monogamy was essential to that project's completion and also that any other path led straight into the abyss of eternal startitis.  Yet the turn of the new year has that knitter toying with the idea of starting all the projects all at once just to test the validity of that theory, because, hey, why not? and let's be honest, not a lot of knitting got done in all those years.

But that has nothing to do with me, I'm sure.

Let's talk about my recent knitting and the projects I have going.  In the fall, I cast off my first ever bona fide socks.  That's sort of a lie.  I have knit a pair of "cabin socks" as a gift and a lifetime ago, I knit a pair of hiking socks (that could stand on their own, which was helpful because no one was prepared to assist them).  What I have never knit until now is socks out of fingering-weight yarn, i.e., socks that were theoretically wearable inside a pair of shoes.  And now I have.

After that, another pair of socks happened because the first pair was supposed to have been for me but didn't end up fitting.  I learned that -10% ease is way too loose for my liking and in the interest of self-preservation, I just knit a longer foot and presented them to my partner, who also likes a snug sock.  Why waste a perfectly good sock toe and a few inches of stockinette by frogging, I asked myself.

It's a good thing I got over the frogging aversion because otherwise, this second pair would also not have fit me or any adult I know.  I'm glad I made the necessary changes because I'm pretty pleased with these socks!  It's only been in the last year that I really came to appreciate wool on my feet after randomly buying a pair of wool socks to make it to the free shipping threshold for an online order.  Am I about to become a sock-knitting addict?  Jury's out (buying more self-striping sock yarn).*

It didn't take me long to cast on another pair of socks, despite having already started multiple projects since 2018 got going.  Lest you begin to wonder, I am not really a sock knitter.  Really.

When I bought this skein of fingering weight BFL last year in this super-charming "Dalmatian" colourway by Ancient Arts (another fantastic Canadian dyer) it was to make a hat, but I tried casting on for a hat, ripped it out, started again twice more and finally concluded that this yarn just wanted to be socks.  Who was I to argue?

All this knitting has unfortunately caught up with me so to give my wrist flexors time to recover I'm taking a break from knitting and starting on my #2018makenine sewing projects.  (Aside from a couple home decor items, I haven't sewn in the last few years so this is really exciting for me.  Although, I'm not sure if the more exciting part is the fact that I now have a room in which I can actually do some sewing and not have to pack everything away at the end of the day so that we have somewhere to eat and can sit down without fear of getting stuck by errant pins.)  I happened across the Make Nine challenge for the first time just last month and I really loved the idea partly because it was like a year-long Summer of Basics** challenge and partly because following the #2018makenine tag on IG has provided a nice dose of sewing inspiration.  I've been out of the sewing game for so long that I'm pretty unfamiliar with what's been happening in terms of the range of independent pattern publishers and fabric sources available online.  Seeing what people are choosing for their Make Nine gives me a nice little snapshot of what's going on and I really enjoy seeing people tackling their projects with such enthusiasm and confidence.  I tend to hesitate for way too long before starting (or not starting at all) because I'm afraid of screwing something up or ending up with something that doesn't blow my mind away.  But disappointments will happen and it's just a part of making.  If I have any New Year's resolutions (besides the requisite commitment to stashdown and to start exercising regularly), it's to ignore the what-if-I'm-not-good-enough-fears that stop me from attempting things and just START already.

But, I'm a fan of baby steps.  My #2018makenine is pretty tame.  I have all the materials and patterns for nine projects that I'm totally stoked about making so I don't have to spend any time (or money) on acquiring stuff.  (Truly, I have all the materials and patterns for much more than this, but I think nine projects in a 12-month is plenty ambitious for me).  The projects I've chosen are not super-complicated, they are all things I really want in my wardrobe, and a few of them are already cast on or cut out.  (WIPs are fair game too, right?)  This means I've got way more projects in active rotation*** than I've ever had before.

It never occurred to me before this year that having several projects going at once might actually be more efficient if you are someone who is easily distracted when something about a task becomes frustrating or boring.  You just switch gears and pick up something else that's also on the go.  Something's getting done and it doesn't involve Train of Thought or mindless surfing.  (I used to think that if I didn't start working on an entirely different project, I still had every intention of tackling the project at hand and toiling through the difficult stages--so I would do something noncommittal, like play a game on my phone or surf, but it would be weeks before I came back to it because life only offers you so many hours to spend on a hobby.)  Which is why I'm experimenting with starting multiple projects without finishing something first.  I can't deny that this feels a bit like skipping dinner and raiding the dessert table.  Which is to say, I'm really enjoying this strategy at the moment but I fear there may be consequences.


Footnotes:

*My first two pairs of socks were knit with Striped Turtle Toes by Turtlepurl Yarns, an independent Canadian dyer based in New Brunswick.  The first colourway is "Beekeeper" which I purchased at The Knit Cafe and the second is "Comic Strip" which I found at Eweknit (both are fantastic shops in Toronto, but if you are not in Toronto, Turtlepurl's Etsy shop is well stocked).  I think I may have given this whole sock knitting thing a whirl because I enjoyed these self-striping colourways so much and I needed an excuse to buy them.  Not exactly in keeping with my stashdown goals, I know, but my guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that I knit two pairs of pretty fun socks as a result.

**My Summer of Basics wasn't exactly a success or a failure but it did get me to narrow down the infinite list of possible projects and I actually started (and completed!) a couple of projects.  A real triumph for a perpetual procrastinator.

***This is not to suggest that I never had a huge pile of WIPs languishing in a corner.  However, if I ever put aside a project to start something new, I had pretty much sentenced it to permanent exile.  If it didn't get frogged or chucked, it's still sitting in a box somewhere.  (Sorry, Mom.  I really do mean to come by and deal with those.)

What I did this summer

*Note: this post was mostly written at the start of September and I didn't publish at the time because, well, that's just another thing I didn't get to.

So blogging was not one of the things I did.  Another thing I did not do this summer was finish my three projects for the Summer of Basics MAL.  Going in, I had a sliver of doubt that I would make it to the finish line, but that was okay.  I just liked the idea of zeroing in on what I really wanted to add to my wardrobe and even more appealing to me was the permission I would give myself to work on these projects instead of endlessly berating myself for "wasting" time on a mere hobby when life's priorities are constantly in need of seeing to.  I thought I'd give deliberate "me-time" a spin instead of just snatching at it when I was at my rope's end.  I guess I need more practice because I ended up telling myself that I'd work on my SoB projects when I finished up my other work and now it's September and pretty much nothing is done.

*Note: actually, it's now mid-November

However, I'm not prepared to call my Summer of Basics completely unsuccessful.  I completed two of three items (albeit, after August 31st), both of which presented a challenge to my pattern writing skills, and it was a nice little confidence booster to plan and execute designs that had been bouncing around in my head for a while.  (I sometimes think I put off starting a project not for lack of time, but for lack of confidence.  I can't fail if I don't try, right?)  The other thing I did, to my surprise, was shed the extra pounds I had packed on since 2015.  So while I didn't totally succeed with the making aspect of the Summer of Basics challenge, I did have some success with the weight-loss challenge I decided to include in my version of SoB.  I managed to gain back some of my favourite wardrobe pieces, something I'm going to consider a win for my slow fashion efforts.

I'm not saying I ballooned numerous sizes in the course of the last few years, but I had put on enough weight by last April that I couldn't comfortably wear most of my clothing, including unmentionables.  I spent a few months only wearing those items in my closet with enough positive ease or spandex to accommodate my new size, most of which were still pinching and pulling in the most uncomfortable ways.  Don't worry, I'm not trying to spin this as a tale of woe, I'm just trying to explain why I was faced with making a decision to either replace nearly my entire wardrobe or go on an official diet.  I'm not really keen on the concept of dieting, I can't help viewing it as an entirely unpleasant way to go about living.  Counting calories, exercising so you can eat, and obsessively stepping on a scale sound like a fast-track to misery, if you ask me.

But then, there are many upsides to staying in shape.  The usual reasons that healthy-living types proclaim, like increased energy, improved mood, a more positive body-image, and the like are definitely all good reasons to exercise and eat a healthy diet, but in the context of slow fashion, there are a few other upsides that I hadn't considered until my weight-gain created a wardrobe crisis.  The main one is that if I can find a good lifestyle balance and maintain my weight, I'm not really forced to buy new clothes to replace clothes that haven't lived out a full and useful existence.

*Note: my idea of excess weight is based on my normal.  My "normal" has changed as I've gotten older.  (Also, my normal is not your normal which is not the next person's normal either.  Please redirect any outrage you may feel stirring in your soul, perhaps towards fructose, the real enemy.)

A healthy diet is something that I've had to radically rethink in the past few months.  After reading this book earlier this year, I was convinced I needed to try a version of the IF/LCHF diet, partly because I wanted to shed a few pounds quickly, partly because I had been recently advised of my increased risk for type II diabetes, and partly because I knew that my eating habits were probably the cause of my sudden weight gain. Also, I really liked the idea of learning to control my hunger and my dependence on sugar highs.  I was basically grazing on small amounts of sugary goods from waking to bedtime to keep my blood sugar elevated because I felt like it was the only way to maintain my energy and mental clarity.  I would feel pretty lifeless without sugar, not to mention a bit grumpy.  I was close to ordering this t-shirt but the possibility that I might be able kick the carb dependence and control my weight at the same time was too tantalizing to ignore.

Before you start to think that I'm bragging about the weight loss, let me stop you.  I lost just enough to get  closer to my normal and I'm happy about it, but what I'm actually proud of is having overhauled my eating habits.

Note: I wrote the previous sentence in September.  Full disclosure: I cheated a fair bit while I was travelling last month.  Amazingly, my trip was not as pastry-filled as it would normally have been but I ate like every meal was my last, and I still lost another two pounds, although possibly due to all the walking.  So much walking, all of it seemingly uphill.

But I'm totally digressing here. I could go on about my new diet if given half the chance, and no one wants that.  So I'll just abruptly switch back to the topic at hand: my two of three SoB FOs. The first is a linen tank top that I am calling the Ube Nut Tank in honour of the one ice cream cone I had over the summer.  If you were anywhere within a 3-block radius of iHalo Krunch this summer, you would likely have seen multiple people devouring black soft-serve ice cream in a jet-black waffle cone.  It was pretty eye catching, so I being merely human, got in line to find out what all the fuss was about.  I enjoyed the ice cream (coconut and ube flavour, hence, Ube Nut) but I had regrets about sporting black lips and tongue for the remainder of the day.  A few more details about the tank top are on my Ravelry project page and these are a few of the photos I attempted to take with only myself as both model and photographer (i.e., not an entirely successful endeavour):

My second project was not a summer item, but it was my on my list of possible SoB projects because it met the requirements and I wanted a backup knitting project to work on.  I call these my Mundy Gloves because they are not those $2 magic gloves you can buy everywhere.  (Yes, I am a fan of the Fables comic books.)  Magic gloves are small but stretch to fit any size and they can be worn under fingerless mitts/mittens/gloves for extra warmth.  The second-skin fit also means you retain some manual dexterity without being fully exposed to the cold air.  My gloves are the opposite of magic gloves in that they are not infinitely stretchy so you have to customize the fit, they are wool, not acrylic, and they were made to last.  I admit I love magic gloves but I hate that they are pretty much disposable because the fingers wear through in one season and there is no way I'm going to mend magic gloves but I will mend handmade wool gloves.  Also, I get uncomfortable when things are ridiculously cheap.  The cost to the environment and humans tends to be high when retail prices are driven so low.  I had some multi-ply laceweight that wasn't getting used for anything so I knit myself this pair of totally mundane gloves that happen to fit pretty darn well (after much frogging and revision) and are pure wool to boot!

I wrote myself a pattern because there are surprisingly few patterns available for laceweight gloves.  Am I the only one who is surprised by this?  Maybe there aren't that many knitters with my predilection for magic gloves, or maybe there are but no pattern designers think there are?  Maybe I'll add this to my secret list of patterns I might publish in my super-secret dream of one day writing and publishing patterns?  Lucky no one reads this blog.

 

One last post about Christmas knitting

I issued myself a Christmas knitting report card last post and let's say, by the numbers, my 2016 performance was a little disappointing.  But, as with real report cards, the full picture is sometimes obscured in the details.  In actuality, I concluded that it was all worthwhile all because of one response to one of the gifts I had knit.*

I have a theory that a maker whose handmade gift is received with true happiness experiences tenfold happiness themselves.  Of course, there is the joy we derive from the making itself and the love we put into each minute of that process, but we can only hope and not expect or demand that the recipient will love that thing as much as we do.  And even if the recipient is a three-year old child who would likely have been delighted with just about any gift, sweet kid that she is, I feel just as much satisfaction as if I had been judged worthy by a panel of experienced knitters. Maybe more.

For a good friend's daughter, I decided to knit a polar bear girl from Julie Williams' (aka, Little Cotton Rabbits) Girl Bear pattern and some clothes from the various LCR animal clothes patterns.  I was really taken with the beautiful winter-themed animals Julie posted on her blog and I convinced myself that a little dressed polar bear was just the right thing for this particular little girl, whom I will refer to as "E".  So, I made Polly Behr:

Making Polly and her little travel set was almost as fun as seeing E open her present.  Polly is knit with an Ontario grown-and-spun alpaca yarn I purchased from the lovely Alpaca Avenue shop.  The clothes are knit with various yarns I had in my stash.  The nice thing about doll clothing is that you don't need much yarn so I could dip into my collection of partials and singles and make a wardrobe, although it did limit my colour palette.  I made a few attempts at knitting some of the Fair Isle dresses Julie published, but unfortunately, stranded knitting is not my forte, especially under time constraints, so I settled for simplified colourwork and accessorised instead.  It wasn't intentional but all the accessories are of Danish design (which I deeply love, so probably not really a coincidence).  The little suitcase is made by Maileg (purchased from Kolkid, here in Toronto but available online).  The gift box, a red tin mailbox, and the teddy passport (how could I resist?) are from a Flying Tiger store in NYC, (which is where I happened to be last month).

My little friend has a great imagination and I decided to give Polly a little back story about having travelled from Greenland to attend nursery school in Toronto and needing a nice place to live.  E, who is many wonderful things, also happens to be none too fond of nursery school.  I think (I hope!) it helped her relate to Polly because she seems to have taken Polly's "care" to heart.  E's parents tell me she puts Polly to bed in her house (the red mailbox) at night and tries to keep her warm when they go outside to play.  I already thought it was a great triumph that E was so excited about Polly's removable "shacket" (aka, jacket, aka, cardigan) when she opened her gift but the update from her parents really made my day. :D

Needless to say, E has earned herself a lifetime appointment to my knit-worthy list for this alone!


Footnotes

*This post may have the slight stench of the humblebrag.  Try to forgive me this weakness, but E was so happy.  I'm just going to bask in this for a day or two.

Christmas knitting report card

So Christmas 2016 has come and gone.  From the perspective of a knitter, the success of Christmas might be measured by how much knitting was or was not done.  For the organised and rational knitter, a good Christmas holiday would have included some stress-free knitting in a comfortable, warm nook.  For the rest, there would be varying amounts of (probably frantic) knitting taking place during any free moment available, sometimes in unlikely places in order to meet a deadline.  Since I decided to embark on Christmas gift knitting sometime in early December, I should have fallen squarely among the latter group, but I did rein in my ambitions to three, relatively small projects, which had to be done or abandoned before I left for the holidays.

But that said, how did I do, really?  I decided to assess it by the numbers and I issued myself a Christmas knitting report card based on the three projects I had decided to make.

In truth, I don't really deserve that A+ for attendance because the majority of the Christmas gatherings I was invited to were all scheduled for days I wasn't even in town.  Which is to say, my performance for a mere three small projects was pretty disappointing even if I thought it didn't go as poorly as some previous years.  I think the conclusion is obvious; I should really just knit for myself and I can do it guilt-free because this report card confirms everything I knew to be true about (my attempts at) gift knitting.   Which is, it rarely ends well.

(If you would also like to issue yourself a Christmas knitting report card, feel free to print one for yourself.

If this were a fancy-like blog, I would have it generate your grades for you, but that is not where my skills lie.  You'll have to do it the old-fashioned way.)

Luckily, internet shopping has reached a level of efficiency that allows me to get to inside a week of Christmas Day to decide (objectively)* if the project in hand can be completed in time or if I need to order something right now.  Incidentally, I used to think I would rather be kept awake for three days straight by the barking of dogs and the clashing of garbage bins being knocked over by raccoons rather than brave a mall even once in the weeks before Christmas.  This year, having been forced to make a few trips to various malls, I found that it was surprisingly not utter pandemonium.  I'm going to attribute this to the rise of internet shopping.  Some people think the internet is destroying meaningful human interaction but I'm now rather inclined to think that it might be saving us all.

But back to the subject at hand.  Clearly, deciding to knit gifts a mere handful of weeks before Christmas is never a sound plan, yet somehow I convinced myself to give it a try anyway.  It would probably be smarter to set the publish date for this post for sometime in November of 2017 as a sort of wake-up call, a reminder to my future self of the inevitable outcome of last-minute gift knitting which you know I will be contemplating again in eleven month's time, but that would be planning ahead.


Footnotes

*I'm not sure if I'm alone in this, but in the past, when the clock was running down and I still hadn't completed a project, I would then, through some strange logic, convince myself the answer was to forego some hours of sleep per day for the remaining days before Christmas instead of just going out and buying a gift to replace the one I wasn't going to be able to finish.  Like I said in my last post: madness.  Internet shopping allows me to get that close to a deadline and not lose my grip on reality.

Do-overs

After my last post about my run-in with a flock of birds, I started feeling some regret about how I chose to introduce myself to what I can only be thankful is not a vast readership.  Certainly, when I first contemplated writing a blog, I had no intentions of sharing personal experiences of public humiliation or using this platform to vent my anger towards birds.  This was supposed to be a blog about my knitting and sewing endeavours with a few observations thrown in about the world of knitting and the "slow" movement.

Which leads me to my topic for today's post: audiobooks.

If you haven't guessed already, I am fond of a long, convoluted, and often awkward sentence construction.  Or, I presume I am because I have a hard time writing a sentence any other way.  My writing on the whole exhibits the same characteristics and not surprisingly, so does the typical line of reasoning I follow in my head.  So to me, audiobooks makes reasonably good sense whereas you are wondering how I got there.  Let's see if I can explain during the time it takes me to finish my coffee.*

To begin with, the birds of Toronto and I have a bit of history.  I thought it was all ancient history by now, but I feel that this past week's events may have been a reminder that all is not forgotten.  I'm going to skip over the details of this saga (strong language was used, lives were lost, and I discovered that words have power when you say them with enough conviction, so I try to keep my true thoughts to myself these days, at least in regards to birds).

Moving right along.  My uneasy relationship with birds brings to mind a character in a Neil Gaiman book who also has bird troubles.  (I have been devouring Neil Gaiman's entire oeuvre for the last year because I can't get enough of it.  I had never read The Sandman (I know!) but I might not have been in the right headspace for it when it was first published anyway.  I'd like to say I was too young at the time but I think it'd be more accurate to say I was too ignorant to really appreciate it for more than the artwork. If I had read The Sandman in my formative years, I probably wouldn't have taken this long to discover all his other writing.)  Anyhow, the character I referred to is Fat Charlie, the protagonist in Anansi Boys (2006). The story is highly entertaining (if it's your sort of thing) but what's even better is the audiobook version read by actor Lenny Henry.**  Easily, this audiobook is one of my top three favourites of the many, many audiobooks I've listened to.  It is one of those rare instances were I have found the audio version to actually outdo its already excellent source material.  (Incidentally, I'm not necessarily recommending this title to you.  Neil Gaiman's audience is vast but he isn't for everyone.  And just as I would never presume to tell you what to knit, I would also never presume to know your literary or listening tastes.  That, and I am never comfortable being to blame for any recommendation that doesn't go over well.  I'm that person who is "good with any restaurant you choose", and silently praying, please, please, do not say you are good with anything too.)

So I've managed to get to audiobooks before the end of the last paragraph but why does it have anything to do with a blog that is allegedly about knitting and other sundry crafts?  You might have guessed it by now because I'm not the only knitter who figured out that an audiobook is a superb accompaniment to pursuits that require your hands but not a whole lot of your brain--particularly if it's a pursuit that some might not deem a good use of your time or one you might feel guilty about having started instead of dinner.  Throw on an audiobook and suddenly, knitting endless rows of garter stitch doesn't feel like time spent poorly.  Audiobooks elevate an experience; ironing is no longer pure drudgery, weaving in tails on a complex intarsia blanket becomes something to look forward to.  Yes, in an ideal world, I would read a book instead of listening to a narration of it.  I get so much more out of actually reading words on a page because my attention is undivided and there is just something about encountering the words visually that adds another dimension to the experience--for me, at least.  Yet, for the past several years, most of my book consumption has been of the audio kind.

You'd think in the hundreds of hours I had spent listening to audiobooks, I could have sewn a patchwork cosy for my house and probably still had time leftover to yarn bomb the big oak tree out back, but sadly, my nearly mindless work in recent years has not required the use of knitting needles or sewing machines and it still doesn't.  Nonetheless, I think I'm going to get crazy this weekend and sit down with some knitting, turn on Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse, and ignore everything else for (most of) a day.


Footnotes

*I can say, without telling a lie, that I finished this entire post before I finished the coffee.  Which will sound much less impressive when you find out that I forgot to put the coffee on altogether.  And that my attempt at editing ended up being a two-cup process later on in the day.  Hopefully I caught more of my errors in this post than I did in the first and second.

**Neil Gaiman himself is also a gifted narrator.  I wish all authors could narrate their own audiobooks because some of the performances I've half-heartedly endured probably ruined reasonably good stories.  But I'll never know because even if there ever was a chance that I would have read the Jason Bourne series, there is certainly none now.

Where has the knitting love gone?

I have on occasion entertained the possibility of starting a blog but in the absence of sufficient confidence and anything of interest to say, I have always been quick to dismiss this as a silly notion.  The rest of this entry was written two days ago as a sort of exercise for myself and I had no intention of posting it...

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