“Unlike you, knitting isn’t the main consideration behind all my decisions”

Paradox Point, New Brunswick, Canada

I took this picture Saturday evening from their front deck. People go their whole lives never seeing such a beautiful place, and they LIVE HERE. Crazy.

Went to visit my parents this past weekend. They live not too far from us, just a 2 hour drive, and where they live is absolutely gorgeous. Right on the ocean at the tip of a peninsula overlooking the water. Phenomenal spot, and actually so beautiful that my husband and I opted to get married there on their lawn! A visit was long overdue, we hadn’t seen them since Christmas which is a long time for us, though a big part of the reason why it had been so long was because they spent a good chunk of the winter in Arizona. Good visit was had by all I’d say. Lots of “You’ve gotten so big!’ comments about my kid (because he seriously is growing like hell). My mom got to show me her bowls that she is making (really neat if you ask me!)¬†and I got to show her my knitting projects. Fun stuff. ūüôā

The visit isn’t actually the point of this post. The drive home is.

There is two ways for us to drive between our house and my parents house. Both routes take roughly the same amount of time (~2 hours), and generally we opt to take the slightly faster, mostly highway route. Just a smoother, easier ride. Yesterday, however, my husband announced he was going to go the other way. The twisty turny bumpy way. This was extremely uncharacteristic of him, but I immediately knew exactly why he decided to drive that route – he thought it would be more fun to drive, especially now that he recently got a new car with a “Sport Mode”. I put up a bit of a fuss and tried to convince him to go the normal smooth straight hiqhway-way, but no luck. He finally asked me why I cared so much which way he went, and I had to admit that it was because the way he wanted to go was too turny and bumpy for me to be able to knit on the drive.¬†He replied teasingly….

“Unlike you, knitting isn’t the main consideration behind all my decisions.”

At first I was going to argue the fact but I had to agree that actually knitting is the driver behind not all but definitely a disproportionate number of my decisions. Knitting factors into all types of decisions, such as:

  1. whether or not to go to the gym (If I go I will have less time to knit in the evening)
  2. what to eat (some foods make my hands greasy and that can rub off on to my knitting. Also, if a meal takes a lot of preparation/tending it can really cut in to my knitting time as well)
  3. what to watch on TV (I can concurrently knit and watch some things without difficulty, but some things require my full attention)
  4. what to wear (depending upon the yarn I am using some of my shirts just suck up every single little fluff from the yarn and end up looking ridiculous, so if I am going to knit with fluffy yarn I will NOT wear certain shirts)
  5. when to use the washroom (do I pee now and risk losing my place in the pattern, or do I hold it, finish this pattern repeat and THEN go pee?)
  6. how to style my hair (if I am knitting cables I make sure to have my hair up so that I can stick my needle into my hair when I’m not using it. If I don’t I inevitably misplace it.)

And now I can add “what route to take when driving” to the list of decisions affected by knitting.

I know to lots of people that is extremely odd and maybe even a little troubling. The way I see it is that we all have our priorities, and they don’t always make sense to other people. For example, my husband’s desire to drive over twisty turny car-sickness-inducting roads for “fun” is beyond me, as is his¬†refusal to relinquish any more of our lawn space to gardens because it would mean there would be less to mow, and he LOVES mowing the lawn. We’re all weird as hell, and we all value things differently from other people.


Anyway, I couldn’t knit on the drive home, all because my husband values driving on swervy roads¬†over knitting. Some people…


Knitted purses done right

As the warmer weather approaches I have been looking towards projects that aren’t so focused on keeping me warm. I have long wanted to make a knitted purse that I could use every day but I feel like this is a tricky project, and not because they are hard to make.

The problem with knitted purses is that they can end up looking really tacky.

There. I said it. I said the thing you aren’t supposed to say, but it is true! Weird Al is the only person who¬†could pull off a lot of the knitted purses out there. (Sidenote:¬†man do I love Weird Al! Going to his concert later this year! YEAH!) I love to knit and love the look of most knitted things, but I am fully and completely aware that it is very easy to make very tacky, kitschy, dare I say ugly knitted things. VERY easy. I am also prepared to admit that some of the things I have made are ugly. (Cabled Leg Warmers, I’m looking at you…) Knitting is already regarded as being a dorky hobby, no need to compound that by knitting tacky ugly things. I am far from being a slave to fashion, but I do think that how you look and present yourself to the world has an effect on how you are treated. Maybe it isn’t fair or right, but it is just how it is. Plus, I am a civil servant and (unfortunately) have the expectation upon me to look more or less professional and civil servant-y (whatever the hell that means) most of the time.

My other problem is that I have a long history of atrocious taste in purses. I LOVE purses and often end up buying the ugliest purses on the planet. I have literally had strangers come up to me and insult my purse. I have learned to approach purses very cautiously.

So, how do I do the knitted purse while still looking fashionable? There are a TON of patterns out there for knitted purses in every shape and style imaginable, so first I look for knitted purse patterns that have elements I like in the purses I would buy!

  1. Not too big but able to carry what I need without over-stuffing
  2. good pocket placement
  3. comfortable strap at a good length
  4. structured
  5. not overly detailed or fussy

Then I take out the ones that have knitted elements that I find tacky, like the use of novelty yarn. To me, novelty yarn is NEVER the right option. Never ever. (Except maybe in this cute hedgehog pattern…) I also assess whether I think a non-knitter would be likely to wear the purse. If not, well,… maybe it isn’t the best choice.

So what does that leave me with? A surprising amount actually! I think I have narrowed it down to the following patterns.

For purses on the more simple side of things, I love this Braided Cable Handle Tote by Amanda Silveira. (Free pattern) Uncomplicated but still interesting thanks to the cables. And it is felted, and we all know how much I like felting!

For something a little more detailed, the Bee’s Knees purse by Andre Sue is pretty fantasic. Love the pockes and the stitch patten, the straps are nice and wide, and a fun liner fabric can¬†do a huge amount to make it extra exciting and fun (while still being fashionable and untacky). The only think I’m not in love with is the garter stitch for the handle, but that is easily changed.

This DROPS design Bag with cable pattern (free pattern) is pretty simple and I think could be nice if done in a solid colour. It is a pattern I keep coming back to but for some reason I just don’t think it is right for me personally. Maybe it is the shape.

This Pleats Purse I by Josephine Woo (paid pattern) is pretty, felted, and interesting with the pleats. I also LOVE the mustard colour of the purse in the project photos and it is possible I’m responding more to the colour than I am to the purse design.

One pattern I keep coming back to is The Cinch by Nora J. Bellows. Part of me thinks it is too big and bulbous, but man… I just love how it looks. The belted detail adds so much and would be well worth the hassle of having to buy the hardware and do the extra work to finish it. The pattern is a bit pricey at $8.50, but very possibly may be worth it for me.


But then I think, hey, a purse is just a big pocket with some straps… maybe I can design my own! And that may very well be what I end up doing. I do like all the above options (especially Bee’s Knees), so maybe I can take the different elements I like from the different patterns and create a brand new design that exactly matches what I want in a purse. It isn’t like designing a sweater where fit matters.¬†Its just a purse, after all. And this is knitting. If it ends up ugly I can always frog. ūüôā


I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!


Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:

My kid thinks I am a knitting superhero 2

My kid, in all his splendor. The stupid faces in pictures is mostly my fault, because every time I take pictures I have him do a serious one AND a funny¬†one. Also, note that he is wearing the very first pair of mittens I ever made for him. ūüôā

For his birthday supper he asked for steak and Bearnaise. My not-yet-eight year old LOVES my homemade Bearnaise sauce and asks for it by name. I am raising this kid to be a proper gourmet. ūüôā

My son ¬†is fairly awesome. Technically¬†he is¬†my step-son, but I hate using that “step” qualifier. He’s my SON, full stop. I don’t have (or want) bio-kids so¬†having him as my stepson is just about the most wonderful thing ever, and I am so thankful for him. Being a step-mom is pretty hard sometimes, but he makes it about as easy as it could be and I don’t think I would love him any more if he were my bio-kid. He really is fantastic. And yes, I appreciate that every parent thinks their kid is awesome, but seriously, mine is pretty exceptional. I never stop getting surprised by that kid. Take last night, for instance. I told him to think of something awesome to have for supper tonight because his father was going out with his friends so it would be just him and me. I figured he’d choose pizza or tacos… normal kid stuff. Know what he chose to have? The homemade broccoli soup I make. THAT was his “something awesome” choice. Name another kid who would choose that!¬†His father just sort of shrugged and smiled at me as though to say, “That’s all your influence.”¬†And hey, I’m more than happy to have broccoli soup tonight, it is easy and delicious, and I am the one that is always pushing foods like that on him so it is because of me he likes that stuff,… but you know, part of me is disappointed we’re not having tacos…

Taken a few years ago on one of our first family outings to the beach, but not much has changes since then. We bonded over our love of taking stupid looking pictures.

Anyway, my kid¬†is awesome for many other reasons (not just for his apparent love of broccoli soup and Bearnaise sauce) and one of which is his appreciation of my knitting. I think the Creeper Hat I knit for him pretty much sealed the deal for him, he has worn that hat almost every day this winter,¬†occasionally pondering over whether he should wear it on the green side or the black side (it is double knit so totally reversible). He thinks it is fairly magical that I was able to knit something that cool, and it is never a bad thing having your kid think you’re magical. Plus, having knit him a pair of mittens in one evening probably added to his “Lesley is a superhuman knitter” belief.

I have to wonder whether he really does think there is some magic involved in knitting because he is funny around my knitting. He is always very careful never to pull on yarns or anything, but it goes further than¬†that.¬†Once his foot apparently got wrapped around some of my yarn and when he got up and walked away from the couch it pulled the yarn with it. When he noticed he FROZE and said in this huge, totally serious panicked voice, “OH…. NO!!!!!!!” and then started hollering for me to come. It was a total non-issue, he didn’t pull out any stitches, all I had to do is ball up the bit of length he unraveled from the ball. I reassured him it was totally not a big deal and I said it was my fault for leaving my yarn about all messy like that, but it clearly freaked him out and ever since then he has been even more¬†insanely cautious.¬†Now, if my knitting is on the couch and in the way, he picks it up and moves it as though it were a bundle of dynamite and lit matches.¬†Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s careful with it, but its a bit overkill. Maybe he’s worried if he ruins my knitting by accident I may decide to never knit him things again. ha ha

2015-03-11 13.14.19My sock blanket has been a bit of an enigma for him. He has watched me work on it from square one, I explained exactly what I was doing, and when I started off knitting single squares I would toss them at him as I finished each one and let him play with them, but the whole project just seemed to confuse him. Tiny squares into a blanket didn’t compute, until two nights ago. I was knitting while he and I were watching Spongebob together and he started asking questions about it, asking if I had used up whole “bundles” yet (he meant balls of yarn), and asked what it was going to look like. I finished the square I was working on and then laid out what I had to show him.

His jaw dropped.

He could not¬†BELIEVE what I have made so far. He thinks this sock yarn blanket is the coolest thing ever (I can’t help but agree) but then asked how big I was going to make it. I said “Big enough to fit on a bed”. He stood a couple of feet away from the blanket and asked if it would be “this long” and I said around that big. I said to him “It has taken me a few weeks just to knit this bit, so it is going to take me a really long time to finish the whole blanket! It takes a lot of people who make this kind of blanket over a year to finish it!”.

He just looked at me, smiled, and said completely confidently, “You’ll have it done a few months.”

Well, crap. Now I feel like I need to finish it in a few months so that I don’t ruin the “Lesley is Magic” belief he has in me. I refuse to lose my Superhuman Knitter status.

“You could sell that!” Here’s why I can’t…

I think pretty much every knitter has heard it at least once…

“You could sell that!”

It is always meant as a compliment and I do take it as such since they are basically implying that it is good enough that they think people would pay money for it. Here’s the problem (and why a lot of knitters get their knickers in a twist when someone says this to them) –¬†It is exceptionally difficult to sell hand knit items and make a profit.

To me, being able to make a living from hand knitting (not machine knitting, which is entirely different) is some sort of magical Unicorn Land that few ever get to visit. It happens, absolutely, but it is very difficult. Hand knitting is not a terribly quick process and this is why knitting for profit is difficult. Let me give you an example:

20150111_215520Take my Neon Ski Bonnet as an example. Cool hat, right? I have gotten a lot of “You could sell that!” comments on it so it is a perfect project for this. Let’s figure out¬†how much it would take¬†for me to break even. Not make a profit, I’m saying simply break even.

The yarn I used was some fairly inexpensive acrylic and I even managed to get it on sale at Michael’s for half price. I used two balls and the total yarn cost was ~ $5.99 plus tax. Not very much, right? I could definitely sell that hat for more than $5.99 and turn a profit, and you’re right, I could, but the yarn isn’t the only cost.

…and this is where things start to fall apart…

I spent approximately 15 hours making that hat. (This is actually a pretty conservative estimate.) 15 hours of work. Yes, it is a hobby and I enjoyed it, but it was still 15 hours of work and if we’re hypothetically hoping to be able to make a living from knitting then we need to figure out an hourly wage/salary. So, 15 hours multiplied by the current minimum wage where I live ($10.30/hr) equals just over $150.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If you paid me¬†minimum wage to knit that hat it would cost over $150.00. And I’m a fast knitter.

Other things to be taken into¬†account include: establishing and maintaining an¬†inventory, the fees charged by Etsy and Paypal, wear and tear on your knitting supplies, shipping costs,…

But then comes the argument “Oh, but Lesley! That hat is so detailed and¬†complicated! A more simple pattern that took less time to knit would be a better example.” but that isn’t entirely true because you have to remember you are SELLING this and it needs to be something someone would want to buy. It needs to be appealing and somehow different from what they can get in a store. And the other thing is that even a simple hat could easily take me 5 hours (this simple hat took me a lot more than 5 hours…), and anyone would be pretty hard pressed to find a lot of buyers for a¬†50$ for a basic hat.

It seems to me that the two ways best of making money from hand knitting is by either knitting for commission or to¬†knit truly amazing artisan type garments that you can sell to a luxury market and sadly neither of these options appeals to me. Knitting on commission means I don’t get to decide what I am knitting and (even worse) I will no doubt be under some sort of deadline to have the item finished. That would pretty effectively suck the fun right out of knitting for me. As for creating high end knitted works of art, I thoroughly doubt I possess the sort of skill, ability, or patience that would allow me to do that. Plus, truly intricate pieces could take upwards of 100-200 hours. The hourly wage yet again makes it a big bag of “Nope.”.

If my only goal was to recoup the costs of the yarn then knitting for “profit” wouldn’t be hard, but there really is so much more involved than just the cost of the yarn. And¬†to be perfectly honest, I kind of like keeping the things that I have knit! I have a lot of difficulty knitting something and then giving it away as a gift. If I sell them it means they aren’t mine anymore and I don’t get to see them again! A lot of people don’t care about that but I do.

So sadly, it seems pretty likely that I won’t be visiting the magical Unicorn Land where people get to knit for their job.

I like knitting useless projects

Anyone else make projects that you know full well you have no use for? This is something I do from time to time. I’ve knit shawls because they were fun and pretty, but knew right from the off that shawls aren’t really something I wear or use. I have knit hats for myself when I already have a lot of hats. And now, I am knitting a blanket when I have no use and no space for a blanket. My husband has asked me more than once what I am going to do with the blanket once it is done, where it is going to go, etc. and my answer is usually something along the lines of “I dunno, you can’t have too many blankets…”. But I understand his issue. To him I am spending hundreds of hours on something that he feels won’t be used and therefore he is concerned I am wasting my time.

What the hell am I thinking?

– an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
synonyms: pastime, leisure activity, leisure pursuit;

Actually, I know what I am thinking. I am thinking that knitting is a hobby. I am thinking that I knit for fun, for enjoyment, to learn new things, to develop new skills, and to just have fun. Hobbies¬†don’t always need to have a point. I don’t have to justify or validate my hobby by producing things that somehow improve our life. Hobbies don’t have to serve a purpose aside from just being fun. You¬†don’t have to have something useful¬†to show for the time you spent doing the hobby. Sometimes a hobby can just be about the hobby. Knitting (and other crafty and creative hobbies) have the trait that the hobby centers around making something, and it is natural to assume or expect that you are making it for a reason. And sometimes we are! Sometimes we knit a hat that is intended as a gift. Sometimes we knit a sweater for a specific person. But sometimes we knit something just because it is fun to knit. Sure, having a useful finished item is great and I personally get a lot of satisfaction using something that I have knit, but for a lot of us that is just a bonus.

The problem is that not everyone understands that. For people who don’t enjoy knitting it makes sense that the decision to knit something would be based upon the usefulness of the finished object, and it would not make sense to knit something that you have no use for. If you don’t enjoy knitting then the concept of knitting for the joy of it (vs. for the finished item) would probably be pretty confusing, especially since knitting is so centered around knitting specific objects.

Compare knitting¬†to rock climbing. For me the only reason why I would ever go rock climbing would be because there was some spectacular view once I got to the top, but for people who enjoy rock climbing the joy comes not from the view at the top, but rather the act of climbing up the cliff. I’m sure they appreciate the view at the top as well, but that isn’t why they do it. They do it because they enjoy rock climbing. And for a lot of us knitters we do it because we simply enjoy knitting!

So I will continue to knit my away at my sock yarn blanket knowing full well it isn’t needed. And I will knit pretty pretty shawls just because they are pretty, not because I’ll wear them. And if someday I see cute baby cardigan maybe I’ll knit that too (after reassuring my husband that I am NOT pregnant). I knit for fun, and that is enough of a reason.