Hump Day: Learning to work with your hands great experience

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Several months ago, I wrote a column about my desire for a hobby – something I could do with my hands.

I wanted something practical. I’m not really into collecting-type hobbies, so having rows of Smurf figurines along my walls or drawers full of stamps or coins wasn’t going to happen. I could have learned how to decorate cakes, but the cakes would just get eaten – by me. Eventually, fitness guru Richard Simmons would be bawling outside my house while guiding the crane needed to load me onto a flatbed truck to take me to an abattoir – where they slaughter cattle – so I could get weighed.

So, collecting stuff was out. Anything food-related was out, too. Internet and anything television-related were out. I’m online all the time now and watch enough television to kill a horse. (Just how much would that be, anyway?)

Carpentry-related crafts were out of the question. I have no room in my house to build things and I’m pretty sure I’d just end up hopping into the emergency room on one leg while holding the other one in my hand. “I cut my leg off building a birdhouse!” It could happen, trust me! I’d figure out a way. My good intentions about getting those cute little finches fed during the winter months would only lead to tragedy. Bunch of ingrates!

I didn’t want to get into scrapbooking. Way too time-consuming and it takes up too much space – at least for my taste. Besides, I know people who scrapbook. They make heroin addicts look like nuns. I swear, if you cough in the presence of a scrapper (that’s what they call themselves), you end up with a 25-page scrapbook on your doorstep the next day entitled “Brian’s Cough” that looks like it was put together by Martha Stewart herself.

I mean, these people are nuts. They’re so desperate for ideas that every trivial thing that happens to them or someone they know gets turned into an album thicker than the New York City telephone book. You’d think they were a newspaper columnist desperate for ideas every week who grasps at every straw he can for ideas. Oh… wait.

I take that all back. Actually, I’ve seen many scrapbooks and they’re all very artistic and beautiful. Creativity is a wonderful thing. They certainly bring those old photo albums I used to buy to a whole new level – you know, the ones with cardboard pages with a sticky sheet over them that you lifted and then placed your photos underneath. I still have some here at home. Now, that’s my idea of a scrapbook!

So, back to my story, I’ve decided on a new hobby. I am now officially a member of a relatively rare group: men who knit. I thought about crocheting, but my sausage-like fingers weren’t conducive to those little hooks. Besides, after watching a few YouTube videos on how to start a barebones basic crochet chain, as they’re called, I still couldn’t get past the first knot. I just sat there staring at the computer screen disgusted with myself that I couldn’t even tie a knot in order to get started.

On Labour Day weekend, I ended up at a craft supplies store and decided to take a chance on a knitting loom. Although it’s not knitting with needles, I took to the very simple knitting loom like a duck to water. I read the instructions and managed to get the project started without causing myself too much emotional distress.

After working on it off-and-on for less than 48 hours, I had myself a pretty nifty-looking scarf complete with tassels! Thanks to some helpful YouTube videos, I learned how to make the tassels (not terribly difficult, but I’d never made them before), and also learned how to cast off the loom.

Basically, casting off is the term used for finishing the knitting project. You can’t just yank it off the loom. You have to ensure it stays together. Again, thanks to YouTube, I learned how to do that, too, and even got to use the blasted crochet hook that drove me crazy earlier when I was trying out crafts-related hobbies. My sausage-like fingers managed to finish off my masterpiece. I added the final tassels and ended up with a pretty good-looking scarf, if I do say so myself!

I must admit I’m as proud as a peacock about that scarf! It’s not perfect, but I have to say it’s a pretty good start to what is promising to be an all-encompassing addiction. Even before I’d finished that first project, I’d already picked up more yarn and looms. I even have my eye on a loom on which I can make blankets for gifts and for donating to Project Linus, a charity that has provided nearly four million new handmade blankets and afghans to children who are ill or who have been traumatized.

I posted on Facebook that I had joined the ‘men who knit club’ (albeit with a loom rather than needles) and told everyone how proud I was of my first scarf. Almost immediately, I began receiving orders from friends. Most of the requests were posted in jest, I’m sure, but what many of them don’t know is that (perhaps more than) a few of them will actually be receiving a scarf at some point, as I continue to experiment! As I practice, my woollen offspring will need new homes, right?

Knitting on a loom is incredibly easy. I caught on right away. I still marvel at those who knit using needles and create projects using complicated stitching and different yarns. Maybe someday.

In the meantime, I’m happy that I have new hobby after months of searching.

One Response to Hump Day: Learning to work with your hands great experience

  1. Proud of you, great work and I was litterally ROFACGU when I was reading the scrapbooking parts, thanks for that, it made my day.
    Keep up your knitting and I hope to see you bring in your 1st blanket to Project Linus!!