Friday, November 29, 2013

Forgiveness And Retail

Good afternoon, everyone.  Or as I like to say at this time of day, good morning.

So, I may be missing a deadline for a design submission this week because I was working too much to put the finishing touches on the item.  I have to forgive myself...designs can be submitted at any time depending on the publication, and I did need that extra time to get the thing a bit more perfect, so I can't beat myself up over it.

Which brings me to the art of forgiveness.

There is a misconception out there that forgiveness and forgetting are related.  They are not.  If you are like me, where you are a perfectionist but you are far from perfect, then learn this lesson sooner rather than later.

The more anger you carry, the sooner you die.  It's that simple.  I'm not dramatizing...I'm being serious.

So when a new friend (meaning less than three months) asked me to help him out financially, even giving me terms for him to pay me back, I spent my day being horribly offended and then I just forgave him.  Yes, I was initially so angry I actually wanted to call him, especially since he spelled out that he needed probably about $3,000 and a co-signer to buy a car, in a text message.  But after a day, I stepped back and thought, "I can't change you, and you are who you are."  When I spoke to him a week later and he asked if we were still friends, I told him I was angry at him because he had no right to do that, but he was forgiven.

Here's the tricky part...he acknowledged he was out of line.  Then, though, he asked what he can do to make up for it.  You need to remind yourself that there is no making up for it.  If you are able to say, "Well, he redeemed himself by..." then there was nothing to forgive in the first place.  There is a difference between accepting human error and accepting someone's character.  It's the second one that's difficult to forgive.  But hey...he is who he is, and he needed money.  I was offended that he asked.  Move on.

So now, this week...many of you know I'm an overnight manager for Walmart.  I was surrounded by probably 3,500 humans last night, the vast majority of which who were blaming me for not letting them park in a fire alley, not being able to manufacture televisions or increase an order of them instantaneously, or not being able to magically build and staff another sixty cash registers.

I busted out my mom voice once or twice and said to someone, " job is to make sure you are safe and to get you back home to your family with your stuff so you can have some last-minute pie."  It was as if these people literally forgot it was Thanksgiving and it was more like, "Well, for some reason I don't have to go to work so I'll spend the day planning how I'm going to spend more money than I have for people who I expect to do the same thing for me."

I have nothing...NOTHING...bad to say about my company.  I just don't understand Christmas and what it's become...I told my family that until I see the Three Wise Men fighting over the last Wii at Best Buy, I was no longer participating in gift exchanges...and because of what it's become, people have now lost Thanksgiving as well.

Thanksgiving is the one non-denominational, non-political or military holiday that everyone used to enjoy.  If you don't believe me, look at the calendar...New Year's Day may be a close second, but it pretty much exists because people need to recover from New Year's Eve.  I don't mind that I'm at Walmart on Thanksgiving...more on that another day but two ruined ones out of my 39 total Thanksgivings and I've made peace with it.  But I'm offended at this country for not demanding to take Thanksgiving back for themselves, and allowing retailers to treat it like it's another day without offering a solution.

My idea is that retailers can start surprise deep-discount deals the week before Thanksgiving, and then give all of their employees the day off.  Walmart actually did do the first part...there were a bunch of items on sale starting last Friday and it was announced two days prior...but we are the "leaders" of the industry so our sale got moved up to 6pm on Thanksgiving.  People who are missing out on Thanksgiving are now in a position where they can't afford Christmas without missing the one holiday we were all given to actually share a meal together.

I understand Walmart needs to make their money and smash the competition.  I don't understand how it's okay with every shopper, and more importantly, how they act like someone won't love them anymore if they are NOT able to buy that LeapPad or Navi for Christmas.  It's just STUFF, people!  And it's not worth throwing punches or making a total fool of yourself to another grownup who is at odds with and outnumbered by the crowd approximately 100:1, customer to Walmart employee.  To say to me, "I'm not leaving here without that television!" when every single one of them has walked out the door before you purchased one, well, what is it that you want me to do for you?  You're welcome to stay until one more shows up, if it ever does...we are open 24 hours and as long as you go home to shower and come back and wander around with a basket in hand and you purchase items when you come in, I won't kick you out.

But is it worth it?  It's a television.  I'm sorry you wasted the one holiday you are supposed to have as just yours and your family by the fact that YOU wanted a 32" flatscreen...Walmart was not forcing it on you, they were enticing you, and there is a huge difference...but I also can't just produce a television, so stop yelling at me.

This morning, after working 29 hours in two days, I was driving home and taking a deep breath, and I was thinking that these people have no idea that their inner demons are so strong inside them.  They know not how they act when presented with a choice to give up spending time with their families in favor of greed and insecurity of love for their families.  They literally don't know until it's too late and they are standing in a line for two hours, angry that they can't spend $1,900 SOONER and that they have to wait for the people in front of them to do the same first.

They are forgiven.  I think Christmas has become too stupid for words, but I certainly support my employer and if people feel the need to turn into horrible people for a day because they can't believe they were pulled away from home for a good deal on a television, that's on them.  Not me.  And I can't change it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Knitting, Gas Bills, and Green Tea

I woke up early this morning because I figured I had a story that had to publish today.  I don't.  So I started cleaning out my inbox, looking at videos of Tori Amos on YouTube, tried to remember where my size US3 double-points were because I broke up with the Magic Loop yesterday (I think it's just a temporary breakup, but I don't know...I WAS pretty angry)...

To be fair, I did try to be productive.  I tried paying the People's Gas bill but the system was down due to maintenance.  I tried getting my paperwork together for my LLC because the taxes are due at the end of the month, but everything is pretty close to in order and I can't call an accountant at 8:30am on Sunday.  I looked for other stories to write, but don't have enough info on any of them to write at this moment.  So now, I am here to tell you about a scarf I altered for a friend, since the green tea has finished brewing and is sitting next to me in my ridiculously hot metal thermos.

By the way, I use the metal thermos because I had this fantastic BPA-free plastic bottle that I used for tea and dropped it so much that it finally shattered.  Read:  I didn't drop it once...I dropped it on several occasions.  Getting out of my car, twisting in the kitchen, walking down the stairs in my back yard.  So I bought a thermos that can't break.  What's awesome is there are about six dents in the bottom of it from times where know...dropped it.

Anyway, my friend Monica has a little boy, and her mother made him a scarf.  She came to me and said, "I knew if anyone would know how to fix it, it would be you."  Well, sure...the only other person I know who knits at work is Jeannine, and she is gone before Monica gets there.  Anyway, it wasn't actually broken.  It was just too thin for the boy's taste.

The grandmother made a simple, cute, ribbed scarf for her grandson.  Apparently, he wasn't happy because he did not want to wrap it around twice, and if he folded it and put the ends into the keyhole, it was not wide enough to cover the itchy zipper on his chin.  The grandmother is a new knitter, so she kept telling Monica, "Just have him stretch it out," and that was to solve the narrowness issue.  With some yarns and some water, that WILL work, but not this one.  Got it.  So here is the original scarf, in all of its cute-little-boy glory:

I felt the yarn and determined it was probably Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.  Smart woman, by the way...the grandmother went to Michael's and bought something washable, as opposed to making something out of 100% wool.  Let's face it...the kid is a little boy.  There would have been frog pee and hot wing sauce on this sucker within five minutes if it wasn't washable...that's how little boys ARE.

Anyway, I had Monica buy one ball of the yarn and I busted out the Clover needle set that I received from Wool and Company to determine what size needle I should use.  With my death grip, I needed to use size US15s to make my stitches close to the same size.  Not a problem.  Of course there was a 40" size US15 circular needles just lying around, so...

My thought was to pick up and knit stitches along the side, but this can be tricky because the last thing you want is for the sides to either pull together, or worse, ruffle, because you picked up the wrong number of stitches.  I tried three for every four.  Too tight.  I tried four for every five, and was on the fence about it.  Fine.  I went with picking up four stitches for every five rows, and then thought if I purled every row, I would have a bit more give.  I did it on each side.  This is how the scarf ended up:

I did in fact weave in the ends, even though I don't do that very often (the Zauerball socks still have four ends hanging off of them...I just tuck in the cuff end when I wear them instead know...taking the five seconds it would take out of my day to fix that).  But I think it's still boy-like, the stitches look pretty even, and now it should cover his face when he wraps it around his neck.  Good in the 'hood.

For more on how to fix things without unraveling, just ask...I live in a world where I think there is ALWAYS more yarn, so quite often, I will try to "fashion" something instead of ripping it out, and then I'll just get more yarn and do what I was originally supposed to do with a project.  And I'm a lefty, so I'm naturally clever.  A bit odd, also.  And silly.

I have some stories which are scheduled for next week already...some of your favorite Chicago local yarn shops have Black Friday deals going, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Third Vogue LIVE Hangover


So, the coordinators of Vogue Knitting LIVE invited me back this year to cover their event, so just in case I wasn't finally starting to feel better about myself after a non-stop year of loss, this did it. I feel since I am a guest of the event and my job is to write about it, well, the least I can do is make sure readers who can't make it feel like they are there, and readers who are there feel the excitement I do over the parts they hadn't seen yet.

So here are...ahem...all eleven stories I wrote about Vogue LIVE this year.  In one place, even!  And in chronological order, because I'm sort of OCD that way...

One of my favorite parts of the show is seeing people I don't get to see very often, like Vicki Howell (one of the nicest in the business) and owner of Wool and Company Lesley Edmonson (one of the other nicest in the business).  I saw Sam Boice, owner of The Wool Dispensary, and pulled out my pink socks that I am making with her yarn to show her.  She was pleased...I told her I am going to try and make her famous with the design and I'm not a hundred percent sure she took me seriously...

So then...I owe a friend a favor.  Long story short, I bought a property this summer that I now affectionately call The Money Pit. I have a new friend who is an HVAC guy, and he's also a professional vampire so I hear from him at four in the morning pretty regularly.  He won't let me pay him for some work he has done for me, so I asked if he would like me to make him a pair of socks.  He said sure, and that his favorite color is green, so I sent him a photo asking which one is his preference:


So anyway, he chose one and I now have a project lined up to counterbalance the Vogue sweater when I'm done with Sam Boice's socks.  But then I saw him later that night and he decided instead that he wanted felted slippers.  Which is good for me for two reasons:  it means he's FINALLY willing to cash in the favor and hey...bigger yarn bigger needles.  He actually stopped by my work to bring me these:

I of course don't have a vase lying around the office, so I had to make do with what I have.  But see...when you're crafty you can compensate in a clever way.  Like rinsing out your Diet Coke bottle and replacing it with clean water for roses.  Sheesh.

The flip-side is that a select few people at work saw him walking around before they saw me, then made the connection AFTER they saw me, and I'm the target for giggly tabloid gossip now.  I'll take that any day over the opposite, though..."Ughh...I hate working for Amy because she's such a..._____." Whatever their thoughts may be.

I am so appreciative that Vogue Knitting LIVE asked me to cover their event, and based on their re-tweets and the sort, they seem pleased with the coverage as well.  My story on Josh Bennett has almost two hundred likes on facebook...I'm quite proud of that.  I mean let's face it...I don't write about a professional sports team.  So if vibes are positive, whether there are five or 5,000, I SHOULD be pleased.  Happiness!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vogue Live Double Yay!

So, I'm currently sitting in the Starbucks at the Palmer House Hilton, realizing that last night I went to bed without paying my...umm...six mortgages.  Time to pull my head out of my arse.

The good news is that it only takes a few minutes, and then I can get back to covering Vogue Knitting LIVE, which has descended upon Chicago for the weekend.  Double yay, indeed!  Here is the article I posted last night before bed...I spent what I thought would be a few minutes in the lobby, waiting for the rain to subside. I ended up talking to people for two hours and missing a Halloween party I was very much looking forward to:

Anyway, the Marketplace is currently being set up, the lecturers and teachers are starting to pour in, and wearing something made by hand.  Me, I chose the hat I wrote the day I shaved my head for St. Baldrick''s a reminder:

Of course, I have hair now, but if you see me, come up and introduce yourself!  Tell me your story, tell me what's on the needles, what you're wearing, what yarn you used...all of it.  I want details.  And I'm a bit blunt so don't be surprised if I give you my opinion (I'm also pretty damn cheery, so my opinion tends to be overwhelmingly positive).

Have a great first day...follow me on twitter for up-to-date updates, and if you subscribe to my column before Sunday, just send me the confirmation email and I'll send you ANY of my patterns for FREEEEE!  I said it once already...double yay, indeed.