Leaping Into Design

My son says I don’t do things half-way. By that, he simply means that when I discover I enjoy something, I plunge in with every fiber of my being (full warning: that is the first of many, MANY puns. Blame my son for his bad influence).  When it came to needle arts, there was no exception to this.

I taught myself to knit less than 4 years ago, via a combination of books and YouTube tutorials. Most of my beginning efforts were so bad I resigned myself to using the cheapest yarn and needles I could find, reasoning that maybe over time I’d get good enough to make it worth investing in better materials, though to be honest, I wasn’t devoting a whole lot of time to getting better.  Just a project here and there

In the spring of 2014, I was rear-ended in what can only be described as the “least serious car accident ever”, but because I was sitting in the driver’s seat in an odd position, my right hip and shoulder were both injured.  In the oddest catch-22 of all time, I found that knitting helped distracted me from the pain I was experiencing (both from the rear-ending and from a 7+ year battle with chronic pelvic pain), but because of my injury I could only knit for maybe half an hour before I’d start having numbness and tingling in my right hand, and my elbow would ache for days, even if I limited my activity.

Fall arrived, I was still dealing with pain and having to restrict the time I knitted to less than half an hour  week.  In desperation, I decided to teach myself to crochet, reasoning that the motion was different enough from knitting that my shoulder and arm would heal without my having to stop the needlework entirely. My YouTube search for crochet tutorials led me to several fun, informative and extremely helpful videos by Chandi Agee, the creative genius behind Expression Fiber Arts.

I signed up to get her blog updates and started following her on Facebook. The thing is, it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t resist trying out “just one” skein of the gorgeous yarn she was posting pictures of every day. I’m usually a very hands-on person. I touched and squished every single ball of yarn at Hobby Lobby AND Michael’s before I bought some to knit with. I knew it had to feel soft and not scratchy (even if it was just acrylic).  So to buy some random yarn off the internet, just because it was pretty, was a huge stretch for me. I knew my moment had arrived when she listed this gorgeous beauty:

Tahitian Turquoise pearlescent

Love at first sight…and first touch. Expression Fiber Arts had a new, enthusiastic fan.  We’re going to pretend that significant portions of my bank account were not involved in what can only be described as an “ongoing love affair” with Chandi’s gorgeous colorways and fantastic, inspired, custom-milled fiber blends. I do NOT sit in the corner, playing with my little beauties and lovingly stroking them. The words “My Precious” have NOT been uttered. That didn’t happen.

Let’s just skip right on ahead. Expression Fiber Arts announced the beginning of a knit-along (KAL) and crochet-along (CAL) on Ravelry, and I was more than happy to sign up for both, thinking that one month was plenty of time to finish two projects. Which, of course, I definitely would need some yarn for…and probably would need to place a few orders to get just the right yarn. Right?

Those contests turned out to be the best thing for both my skills. I quickly learned that sometimes you need better tools to become a better artist.  Anne Shirley once wrote to Gilbert Blythe that she couldn’t write love letters with a scratchy pen, I’ve never heard romantic music come out of a beginner violin, and apparently you can’t do a very good job of creating beautiful needlework projects with cheap yarn, cheap needles, and badly-made hooks.

My knitting went from this: bleh (I didn’t take pictures…those were some embarrassing finished items).

To this:

GlamShellsBack

And my crocheting went from this: meh

To this:

image(1)

I will admit there are some willpower issues involved here as well. I can’t count the number of times my husband looked at me in dismay and said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” as I ripped out my entire, nearly-completed project because of some little mistake I’d made near the beginning. But as I said, my son knows that I don’t do things half-way. If I’m going to do something, I want to do it well.

I was overjoyed to be asked to help moderate the Fall 2015 Knit-Along and Crochet-Along for the Expression Fiber Arts Forums on Ravelry, and spent most of my summer furiously learning to knit and crochet socks (confession: I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of crocheting socks yet). I knit on dpns. I knit on magic loop. I knit an entire pair two-at-a-time cuff-down all the way to the toe, only to rip them both back to the beginning so I could knit them two-at-a-time toe-up.  I made tutorials, and realized I really enjoyed it.

And now, I’m thrilled beyond belief to announce that I am making my debut into the world of writing my own patterns.  Our Winter 2016 CAL is going to feature Broomstick Lace. Only after testing several of the free patterns on Ravelry, I concluded that they were either too plain to hold the interest of our various-leveled CALers, and the moderator agreed. So I suggested, and she gave her permission, that I could write a pattern instead.

So welcome to my little blog – “little m expressions”. I hope, like everything else, it will be full of all the passion, joy, and excitement that I’m discovering daily through knitting and crochet.

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