Knitting for men ain’t easy

My friend Jenny is a pretty awesome lady. I could list the ways, but you know, it would sound like I was bragging about how cool my friends are (well, okay, so they are pretty cool), so to avoid going on at length, let’s say she’s a designer.

Knitting is a pretty amazing thing on it’s own. Take yarn, follow a pattern and using 2 to 5 needles, you get an object that’s pretty and often wearable.

Jenny goes beyond that and makes the patterns that knitters use to create this delightful treats of softness. She spends hours checking stitch patterns, working through directions with test knitters, and asking me the occasional odd questions like, “Does this fit your hand?” and “Will your boyfriend model for me?” all while homeschooling and chasing her two little ones around.

Knitting for other people isn’t easy. Knitting for men? Even harder because no dude wants to wear something girly, and let’s admit it now, most knitwear is pretty feminine. How to make something masculine enough and still show of the beauty of the yarn? It’s a tricky question.

The answer to which Jenny has clearly nailed in her recently released Soft Structure pattern.

After finishing a couple, she asked me if the handsome fella I’m in love with would mind letting her take some pictures. I told her I’d ask… after some conversation with him, I got back to her, he could do it. She asked me the morning of their scheduled shoot if I could do it too, as she thinks the cowl looks nice on women too and I was happy to help.

As you can see above, it’s a gorgeous piece of knitwear.

We also got some awesome pictures and had a blast with Jenny.

I currently have my very own sitting at home, with my heavy jacket, just waiting for a cool enough day to wear it. It looks a lot like the one pictured. It’s gorgeous, and not too girly. I like it as an alternative to my more flowy scarves.

It’s a beautiful knit, and if you’re a knitter, I highly recommend it for anyone on your list, but especially that hard to knit for man. It was approved as “manly” enough by both my love and Jenny’s, which is saying a lot.

You can pick up this gorgeous pattern, and Jenny’s directions for Easy Graft (totally worth checking out on it’s own) on PatternFish, Ravelry, or Etsy.

You can check out the rest of her stuff at zJonquil or follow her on Twitter @zJonquil. The woman does amazing work.

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A Moment

Taking a moment to breath on Friday night.

That’s me, right there, on Friday night.

By the coffee cup in my hand and the fact Jeff’s standing by me, I can tell you that it’s later in the evening.

I’m not even sure what the name of this building is, I just know it’s next to the roofless building and all the people I want to see on a Friday night are here. I’m there to party with my friends before barcampclt, celebrating the community we have and share.

My roommate is standing not far away, talking to friends. Jeff & Josh have recently arrived with Julie, who I only met in person tonight but tripped, literally, over someone to hug hello to I so excited to meet her.

I’m drinking a latte, that my friend Brent has kindly made me, (If you even get the chance to have one of his drinks, do yourself a favor, don’t pass it up.) despite the hour, knowing full well I’ll be up late and I’m tired.  You would be too, if you’d spent your day doing consulting and being interviewed for All Things Considered.

Taking a new icon picture for @maggiehyde

In a minute, when I finish my coffee, I’ll go join several of my closest friends who are wandering around, making the rounds and meeting and catching up.

My lovely Maggie has cut and colored her hair, and caused me to stare in shock, amazement and awe at her gorgeous new self.

One of my best friends, Des, is somewhere, taking a break from her own media blitz , telling her hilarious stories, looking gorgeous and accompanying Olga, who’s handing out free massages.

I’ve already hugged Scott, Chris, and a dozen other friends. I’ve touched at least a dozen more hands and given several hugs of greeting. The room is full of people I know from online mingling with people who’s purpose here is unclear to me.

Later, I’ll head outside and be in the right place, at the right time, to watch a dude break dance on top of a crazy-ass car. I’ll talk to Carlos about moving the Felicitea office to Area15. I’ll stand in the rain and talk health care with the tallest man at the party. Even later, I’ll sit in a friends truck and hear a story, then go to a bar and trade a few more over a couple of cans of PBR.

In a second, I’ll turn around to watch James taking pictures and Brent making coffees before I take a step forward to rejoin my friends.

But right now, I am standing still. I am watching someone sing or dance or talk. I am smiling as the people I love and the people I like and the people I want to get to know better all mingle, laugh and live out loud together, spilling life out into the cold, damp night.

Right now, I am taking a moment just to take it all in. I am happy. I am alive. I am having one of those nights you don’t forget about. I am here, in the moment, enjoying every second of it.

Note: All images by James Willamor, the much talented photographer for cltblog. You can see all the barcampclt pre-party shots he took here.

Leaving Home

Uptown from Bland Station

Uptown from Bland Station

I know a number of people who are moving, actively planning to, or thinking about leaving this fine Queen City.

One is a friend who’s visit was short term, and we knew that all along. Others have been here a while, and want, or more accurately in one case, need out.

It’s hard for me, in some ways.

Charlotte is Home to me. Deep seatedly, in my soul, come good or bad, this is where I want to be. Something about this city, over all the others, even Seattle, my first crush, holds me here. I can not imagine moving back to where I grew up, or to any other city for long. From the first day I set foot in the Queen City, over four years ago, she has held my heart in her grasp.

It’s more then just the people, or the skyline, or the culture. It’s all of those things, and something else. This is where my bones belong.

I will travel, and I will love other peoples and cities and cultures. I will eagerly taste the wonders of the world and the life the brims upon it. But none of those places will be home, and at the end of each trip, I will come home to my Queen.

So it is with sad and heavy heart I watch people I have come to love and care for leave her. A part of me is greedy: I want all the people I love here, in my city, with me. Or at least nearby, not a multi-hour flight away.

One friend tells me no one else understands his need to get out of this city. I do understand. That’s how I felt in Lancaster. While Pennsylvania is beautiful and beloved to me, is it not where I want to be or need to be. I felt a deep, aching desire for years to leave, to go, anywhere, just as soon as we could find a way out. This need was so deep that it played part in the end of one of my most important relationships. So I understand his need to go, and as soon as possible, despite any loss he may endure.

When I had to go back, for the long eleven months after I found my Home here in Charlotte, I pined for my city. Aching hearted, I looked at pictures, studied what I could find about the city. Relentlessly played “Gone to Carolina” on my iPod. I needed to be here, and every moment that stood between me and being here was simply to be endured. Massage school, doctor appointments, wedding plans all became boxes that simply needed checked off so we could move here.

I hate to see my friends leaving. At least four people I care for deeply will likely be leaving within a year or so, some as soon as next week. I am going to miss their presence, their laughter, our shared drinks, jokes and joys.

I will go visit, of course, see their new homes and share in their new places. But it won’t be the same as the calls that currently go, “Where are you? What are you up to? Can I stop by?”

It breaks little pieces of my heart off to see them go, leaving me with a sense of sadness and a little lonliness. But this is my Home, not just the place I live, and I will not be going with them.

My hope for my friends though, is this: that they find their Homes.

I pray that they find a place that makes their souls sing, that when they wake each day they feel at peace with where they are on this green & blue dot. I want to read their messages of cool new places they’ve discovered, things they want to show me when I come to visit, and how delicious the fries are at this place down the street. I want to see how local matters matter to them.

I hope, deep in my heart, that if their souls call out to them to move on, that they do so. That they find the place they’re supposed to be moving towards and that it brings them much joy.

I will miss them, but I will come visit them in their new homes. And I hope to see in their eyes the shining joy of being at Home when I do.