03 February 2017

It's dusty in here...

My gracious, it's amazing how quickly the dust piles up when you step away from a place for a bit. Let's shake some of the cobwebs off and tidy up, I believe it's time to get back to it.

How have you been? Good? I hope so. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I have kept myself busy. I admit that my creative mojo for the writing side of myself just went on vacation. I honestly felt like I didn't have anything to say. It was an odd feeling, really. One minute I am writing and the next, nothing. It wasn't a "block", I just went through a spell where I thought most of what I thought was not worthy of the act of me putting pen to paper to share.

Whelp, today I am home sick... and I just felt like I had something to say. Not that I was home sick, that's not really newsworthy, but I had things that I wanted to share. I didn't make any promises to try last year, at least not any that I care to go looking for to see if I accomplished any of them and then write the mundane post stating I either did/didn't/fib and claim I did complete. This year, my only promise is to do one thing a month that scares me. Allow me to explain.

If you've been around for a while, you know that I have social anxiety/panic attacks. You also know that they annoy the snot right out of me. I know they are illogical but they are something that I cannot control. As John Nash stated, the brain is a muscle and it just needs proper training - I think that is how it goes anyway. So anyway, my goal this year - my promise to try - is about doing one thing a month that scares me... and in January, I did and today, I'm doing it again by writing this post. Two months completed, like a boss.

What did I do last month? I drove almost three hours to attend a workshop that I paid for to be taught colorwork techniques from Franklin Habit! When I saw that he was going to be at A Good Yarn Sarasota, I told my husband about it who said without blinking "Sign up and go. Ask your mother if she'd like to go and we'll get her a ticket to it too". Did you see what he did there? He was doing what he does best, looking out for me. You see, if I have at least one person with me then I can usually get through things that scare me. Without them knowing, they hold me accountable for showing up... for completely showing up... because I don't want to let them down. Long story short, my mama didn't want to go because it was too far for her and she's awesome at colorwork so it wouldn't have been of value to her. I bought my ticket anyway and had a month to prepare myself.

I made one of Franklin's patterns to wear when I met him. A quiet nod to a fangirl moment. The man is so very talented and I have been a follower of his career since way back in the days of his blog, "The Panopticon", so we're talking about 12 years or so. I had already learned so much from him so to be able to sit in a room and be taught by him was a dream come true. So I decided to knit up the Centura Tam and wear it. Living in Florida, you just never know what the weather is going to do in the winter but a tam is always fashionable and never too stifling.

While I was working on the tam, I was daydreaming about what the session was going to be like. I had never taken a workshop for anything before so it was uncharted territory. I knew we would be knitting in the workshop because we had to bring two contrasting skeins of yarn, size appropriate needles, tapestry needle, and pen/paper for notes. I finished my tam and had it blocked and ready to go a week before the big day. That was poor judgement on my part because now I had a week to worry. I packed my bag for the event and put it by the door with my tam... and I looked at it for 6 days and nights, in fear of the unknown.

The drive down wasn't bad. Class started at 10 am so I left the house at 6:45 am because it was a rainy morning. I made it an hour down the road and I pulled into a McDonald's, contemplating turning around. Instead, I told myself, "Take 5 minutes. Get some breakfast. You have plenty of time." So I did just that. When I was done, I got back in the car and continued down the road. I arrived almost an hour early because it was 1) early on a Sunday and 2) the weather kept most folks tucked inside where it was warm and dry. So I sat in my car for a few minutes and that old familiar feeling crept up. I started my car to head home because I couldn't go in there. I felt like I was going to die and tears were welling up in my eyes. I took a deep breath and told myself, "Get some coffee. Take  5 minutes at a Starbucks and get yourself a treat. If you still feel like going home, okay". So I did. When my order was up, I got back in my car and drove back to the yarn shop.

There I sat. I paid for this class. I wanted to go, I really did. I was just so scared. I ran through my checklist countdown, it helped a little. Then I made a deal with myself. If I went inside, I could leave after 5 minutes if I really wanted to. That seemed fair to me. I grabbed my stuff and toddled inside. I found a seat - front row, end closest to the door. I sat down and made note of the time. I didn't unpack anything, I just sat there... breathing and willing myself not to cry. A woman with the kindest face on the planet asked to sit next to me. I smiled. I couldn't speak for fear of crying so I smiled and nodded while I busied myself in my bag so I didn't have to look at her. My time was up. I made it 5 minutes and I didn't die.

I was getting up to go because it was just honestly too much for me that morning when in walks Franklin. The person I drove all this way to see and learn from. The person who I had been telling my friends that I would die to be able to spend just an hour sitting at his feet and learning how he makes such gorgeous things. He was here. Now. In the room. I was mid sit/stand and he just smiled at me, saying "Good morning". I'm sure I looked a fool. Right then, I told myself, "Okay, 5 more minutes and if you still feel like your heart is going to explode then you can leave".

I must tell you, I am very sneaky with myself because there was no way I was going to get up in the middle of one of the most creative soul's lessons and just rudely leave. I would be mortified and I would never forgive myself. I cut myself a lot of slack but not this time. So I got my stuff out and tended to getting myself organized for class with the renegotiated option of leaving during the first break - which ultimately turned out to be lunch at 1 pm. Okay. The halfway point in the day. Umm, yeah. I can do that. I will be knitting after all so it's not like I have to be a social butterfly and everyone is there to see him, not me. I can bet that no one will even remember that I was there - except for the sweet faced woman who sat next to me and kept talking to me which was incredibly difficult for me because I just am not good at small talk. I'm sure she thought I was an odd duck but she was kind enough to not make note of it directly to me.

The first lesson was underway and we all made great progress. Intarsia. Interesting technique - tons of ends to weave in! I like the result though. After that, we moved on to speed swatching colorwork in the round. This was fun and challenging. It was at this point that he offered us up a quick five minute break to stretch or do whatever... and he spoke to me. Now, if I was going to leave, this would be my prime time to do it because it was busy with people mulling about and no one would know... except Franklin, who was standing in front of me. Nervous and out of sorts, I blurted out, "I made your hat pattern" and whipped the tam off my head, shoving it in his face. He politely admired it and stated how he had never seen anyone make it before, complimented my stitchwork, and even honored me with this...

Franklin Habit and my Centura Tam in MadelineTosh DK, Night Hawk
I was horribly nervous so pardon the blurry photo. My hands were shaking but he was so kind. He even told me to be sure and tag him on my Instagram post - which I did and he liked it. By the time that was all done, we were back to work. I didn't have a chance to leave. I renegotiated back to my original lunch escape and got back to work on making sure my "smiles" were loose enough to allow my swatch to sit flat.

Lunchtime came and we had an hour. By now I was feeling a bit more comfortable, though eating in front of others always unhinges me. It has my entire life. What do you do with an anxious kid, stick her in a huge noisy room full of other kids who spend their days picking on her and force her to eat. Yeah, it was one of my worst childhood nightmares come to life in my adult years. To distract myself, I asked permission to shop in the store since it was closed. Sue, the owner, said that since we were there for the class that we could definitely shop in the store. I wandered around a bit because it wasn't my beloved Four Purls in Winter Haven so I didn't know how things were laid out. Then I remembered that Sharon had dyed exclusive colorways for them back when she owned Three Irish Girls so I went looking for them. I decided on two skeins of Octopus's Garden - even though it is grammatically incorrect and that drives me buggy.

Three Irish Girls - Octupus' Garden - Adorn Luxe Sock, 430 yards per skein
Yeah, I know I corrected it in the image caption because, I told you, it was grammatically incorrect and driving me buggy. I also picked up Franklin's coloring book "I Dream of Yarn", which he later autographed for me. I used it yesterday during long hold sessions and a conference call. It is fabulous!

After lunch, we moved on to finishing up our stranded colorwork and headed into garter stitch stranded, which is quite interesting. I have still not yet decided if I like it but I saw the possibilities of what it would be good for and they looked amazing on his sample. Before I knew it, the day was done. I made it! Here are the results of my day...

Clockwise from top right: Intarsia cabin, Stranded speed swatch pattern, and Garter Stitch Stranded pattern.
After the day was done, I went up to ask him if he would sign my book and he said “Of course, Amy - right?” We didn’t have name tags or do any introductions in the class at all - and even if we did, this was 7 hours later. He knew me from interactions on Instagram and Facebook. He had said that he always remember people by their names on Facebook and so some women he calls by their full names because they have it on there… then we laughed about my initials. He said that it was awesome to have them like that. When I was all packed up and ready to go, he was surrounded by a group of women and I simply smiled and waved, mouthing thank you to him, and he said “Goodbye, Amy. It was so nice to see you”.

Of course, once I got in my car and was parked back in the Starbucks parking lot down the road, I had a little cry because it was just too much anxiety for the day. The sweet faced lady next to me just kept talking to me and I tried to do small talk but, like I said, I’m not good at it… but I did it, I think. I hope. When I got home, I wrote Franklin a thank you note and then kissed my husband and my daughter and went straight to bed after a quick bite. I was completely spent!

The next morning, I posted my little swatches of courage on my bulletin board above my desk. There are there to remind myself that you never know what you are capable of doing if you just hang on for the next 5 minutes.


  1. Congrats on managing the anxiety. It does suck. Mine isn't quite as bad, but still... Sounds like you had a great class anyway. Plus you got yarn! even if it's got grammar issues.

  2. I'm still jumping for joy that you actually did it! I remember how you fretted about it when you'd bought the ticket, and I'm so happy you went.
    Lots of love for you, my friend on another continent ❤❤❤

  3. Well done you! You are a shining star and I love the messaging of holding on for "5 more minutes". Love and hugs :)


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