On Moving Across the World (Or How Not Having a Plan Scares the Sh*t Out of Me)

kunanyi by Nina Hamilton

kunanyi by Nina Hamilton

how do you begin writing a semi-formal announcement about moving across the world because your visa is running out? 

i haven't known how to, and i've been avoiding writing this for that reason (and others, i guess) 

how do you write about how you moved across the world for love that you thought was gonna be a forever kind of love and how that love ended? it's been a really weird thing i haven't been able to properly speak about on the internet for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because of bureaucracy. i am on a visa that is tied to the existence of a love relationship with my now ex partner. in the eyes of the government, our relationship was the only thing worth letting me hang out in australia for. not my contribution economically or to my community. not for making this a home for over 4 years.

(to be clear, i'm so so so aware of my immense privilege to have been able to move here of my own free will to begin with, and that my US citizenship has made my life pretty fkn easy. and even though i'm not as active in making this choice to move back to the US as I'd like to be, I am not fleeing, and I get to return to a place of relative stability and comfort (even though of all the times i could possibly have to move back to the US, the era of the Sentient Cheeto is not what i would have preferred) ) 

ani's blunnies and socks by kunanyi by Nina Hamilton

ani's blunnies and socks by kunanyi by Nina Hamilton

i guess now what i'm doing is trying to stay present for my last month in Tasmania, accepting that this place has had an enormous impact on me as a person, but that it can be let go of (at least physically). i'm trying to stay grounded in the idea that home is in your body, and i'm trying to remind myself that i did this move before - i moved across the world (i only knew one person), i moved interstate (i didn't know anyone). this time i have family to come home to, and that feels like such a gift. i know i'll be leaving a chosen family in tasmania, but it helps to remember that this little island isn't going anywhere. and i sure as hell will be back. 

now, when i get back to the US, I don't really have a plan or anything in particular lined up. this scares the shit out of me. i am an organised person, and i like having a plan. 

here's what i do know (so we can spend time together in the places we are, and in case you might have any suggestions for what to do/where to live/where to work): 

November (location: Tasmania) 

8th/9th Nov: teaching at Commuknitty - 10am-11am Mathers House. This is a free learn-to-knit skillshare. come on by! 

7th Nov: teaching at Lily and Dot (Hobart) - sold out shawl knitting class

14th Nov-23rd Nov: traveling Tas with my little brother 

If you were hoping for a little private tutelage in knitting, or small group stuff, I'm available, so get in touch

I'll also be selling a few things (my bicycle, some clothes, a DSLR), so if any of that is of interest lemme know. I'll probably end up posting the clothes and yarn on instagram in stories. 

Dec (location ~ Bay Area) 

Landing in the Bay and going from there. I went to Berkeley so I'm fairly comfortable with at least that part of the east bay, but if anyone has any advice on what i should be doing in the bay, places that are good to work for, yarn stores to teach in, pls send me your thoughts.

and if anyone just wants to hang out or go for walks or just hug each other or cry a little bit (or a lot) pls HMU because i'll probably just be doing that for most of the month of December/always

in big, confused, perpetual WIP love,

x ani 

 

 

 

a mid year review/check in/thought spew

i was thinking the other day how this year is pretty much half through, which got me thinking about the things i wrote out at the beginning of this year for myself, sort of new years resolutions, sort of goals, sort of just thoughts i was having at the time that i wanted to keep myself accountable to. 

from my iphone notes 12 jan 2017: 

At first glance, you might think I went a little overboard on the journals for 2017.

But damn, do we have our work cut out for us in 2017.

Personally, it's:

- managing a day job + a small business (reimagining what that looks like and how much I want to/can monetise it, being intentional about how my time is spent on 'work')  

- mobilising myself and my community into positive action in the era of the sentient Cheeto in the highest office in the US. Staying abreast of the issues, staying accountable to calling representatives, marching, doing what needs to be done (and acting in solidarity from Hobart) 

- showing up to myself and telling the truth (daily, day in and out, every day, forever) 

- planning how to use the materials I already have (stash busting, curating my material objects to the necessary, beautiful, joyful) 

- looking after my health, my body, my mind- calling for backup, getting help, sitting in it (recognising that there's no way around, only through)

- showing up to my friendships, new and old, being the friend I can be, that I want to be. 

And this all will require intentionality, goal-setting, accountability, checking in, readjusting, staying open, staying flexible, going with it, but not getting complacent, remembering, holding, practicing. 

(show up, tell the truth, stay with it)

I just wanted to take a second to sit with these, re-evaluate them, see if they still resonate, and I wanted to do it publicly for accountability. 

some reflections: 

- managing a day job + a small business (reimagining what that looks like and how much I want to/can monetise it, being intentional about how my time is spent on 'work')  

wow, what a movable feast this one has been! so much change in the last 6 months in the structure of the monetisation of my day work and passion work. i went from managing a shop to just working in it to working in it only 2 days a week, moved into a studio to get serious about my podcast work, started teaching more regularly and weekly classes, got serious about committing to getting sponsors for the podcast and valuing that work. a lot has changed and is changing about the way i value my time and grow my comfort with asking to be properly compensated for my skilled labour. i am learning to say 'no' to things that do not pay me or otherwise make me come alive/contribute to my community in a positive way. (learning that this leaves more of me to DO THE WORK). still working on the fear involved in this, but learning to take more risks and be less afraid to talk money. 

- mobilising myself and my community into positive action in the era of the sentient Cheeto in the highest office in the US. Staying abreast of the issues, staying accountable to calling representatives, marching, doing what needs to be done (and acting in solidarity from Hobart) 

ive been avoiding thinking about this one, because truthfully it is the first thing to fall off for me if i get busy or sad and then i just let it sit there because i feel immense g u i l t about it. i haven't been paying close enough attention to what's happening in the US. i hear the outrage and i feel it but i have also blocked it out a bit because i have felt a bit powerless. that being said i have put a few things into motion with Joy In The Struggle - but I've also dropped the ball there, both in Hobart and online. I need some help with this one. i'm just not sure where/how to ask for it. 

- showing up to myself and telling the truth (daily, day in and out, every day, forever) 

phewf! this one is so much harder than i could have imagined. telling the truth, especially when u consider yourself an honest person, sounds easy, right? the part i'm struggling with is the realisation of truth - the telling of truth to own self. it's not hard to tell the truth to others, but if you're not sure what's your own truth, oof. being honest with myself about my comfort levels in relationships of all sorts has been really hard. i am learning to hear my actual self more clearly, listen when my gut is telling me to go home or stay or say no or back away from an interaction. 

i am also getting more comfortable with vocalising my "no". in situations that i would have previously stayed quiet for fear of an 'awkward' conversation or in fear of hurting feelings, i am learning to say no when my boundaries are being pushed in an unhealthy way. (definitely one i am working on and having to be pretty gentle with myself on when i fuck up) 

- planning how to use the materials I already have (stash busting, curating my material objects to the necessary, beautiful, joyful) 

i'm finding this one pretty easy, actually. i don't think i've bought anything more than 1 skein of wool (for anything but teaching, that is), and i've been knitting for others from my own stash, as well as working through the larger quantities of wool that i have to make jumpers i've planned. 

i also haven't bought much in the way of new clothing - a couple dresses and a few merino base layers (necessary to get through tassie winter) this year, but mainly i've paired back to what i really really love and get a lot of wear out of. oh, i did buy blunnies, but again, necessary for tassie winter. 

everything i own right now is made by friends or is beautiful, and if it's not, i've been happily parting with it. i'm very aware of my transience in this place (and kind of also in life?) so i'm conscious to stop collecting, as tempting as it can be. 

- showing up to my friendships, new and old, being the friend I can be, that I want to be. 

wowee, 2017 has felt like the year of the friend to me. so many new people have shown up in my life and i feel really grateful for the ways ive been held by them. i'm working on giving enough of myself to my relationships whilst keeping some for myself (to keep going). this is the part i'm finding remarkably challenging - the how to be a good person to everyone you meet without spending your whole self (how can a person be something to everyone? i think they probably can't but somehow i'm still trying to act as if you can) 

- looking after my health, my body, my mind- calling for backup, getting help, sitting in it (recognising that there's no way around, only through)

the calling for backup part of this has been huge, this is the year i started seeing a psych regularly, which has been a really positive change for me. i've called on more friends when i need help. ive deeply and thoroughly sat with my emotions, especially my grief, even when it's uncomfortable, which tbh fucking sucks. continually trying to learn whom to ask for help, trying to be okay with the fact that this changes. 

some new thoughts, some adjustments

- learning the delicate and powerful art of saying NO. 

i am pretty sure this will be a forever work-in-progress for me, to learn to say no and not make too many plans. i've been doing a pretty shit job of it this year, and it catches up with me in the form of anxiety and plan breaking, but i'm learning to see the signs sooner, and to very gently say no when I can/should (in my work, my passion work, my relationships) 

most of those still resonate for me and i'm not sure i have any business adding any more priorities to this list really. just needed to have a quick check in, and thought i'd share those thoughts. 

xx

ani 

 

Bartering, Trading - A Love Affair

I'm just going to kick this off by professing my immense love for bartering. Now, I'll keep this post to the purely trading/bartering and stay away from the topic of the "sharing economy/collaborative consumption" - not because I don't want to talk about those things, but because I have too many feelings about them for one post (ie I LOVE THE SHARING ECONOMY, and am a complete geek about it). So, I'll stick to pure and simple trading of things for things/ things for services where there's no money at all involved. 

Like many things in my life, my first experience with trading came as a result of my creepin' around on Instagram, checking out (read: stalking) folks that seem rad. Well, actually, to give myself a little credit for being a little less creepy, it was actually the other person who found me and suggested a trade. She saw a hat I made in my instagram feed and commented "love this hat - would love to trade for it", and I of course, immediately went to her website, found her email and sent this whole long thing that was like "um, hell yes, you're an awesome lady who works with leather, I like leather and supporting small batch makers, and I think I love you" (well I left out the love you part, but  I think it was implied). 

So, how did we do it? It basically looked like this:

  • We figured out what we both needed/wanted from each other, and worked out whether those things were within the scope for each of us to design (or modify) and create
  • We did a rough cost mock-up to see what would be of similar/equal value for trading. We put a price on our labour ($20/hr for both of us), just to make things simple.
  • We tweaked our materials, designs and overall products until we were happy with the value of the work we were doing for trade.

What did it look like in the end?

  • I made Brittany two hats, she made me 3 little knitting supply pouches and a handbag - all from lovely leather. 

I think what made this trade feel so right and special was not that I particularly needed those leather pieces right away. I could live without a leather bag and knitting supply holders, but they were things I had been eyeing from afar for a long time, wishing that I felt financially able to splurge on those things. So it was this nice thing that popped up for me that enabled me to have those sweet and lovely things in my life without spending money on them. Instead, I got to spend my time lovingly creating these hats for her. And I spend pretty much all my time knitting anyway, so this was such a joy! 

I'm finding that the more I knit, the more I run out of things I actually need (like how many more beanies does one chick need?) It is so liberating and fun to work on a piece of knitting for someone who is excited about it, someone you know will like it, and who will appreciate how much work went into it. That is a truly gratifying experience.

Now,  I hope I haven't bored you too much with my love note to bartering, and what I really hope is that you'll get in touch to work out a trade. I'm especially keen to trade for: podcast audio editing skills (this one is a big one for me right now!), ceramic cups, leatherwork (would shoes be too much to ask?), fermented foods, lessons in fermenting foods for that matter, meals, vegetables, rides (in a car) around Tasmania, borrowing of said car, linen clothes, handmade underwear and bras (!), lessons in crochet or sewing, lessons in bicycle maintenance, and many many other things I'm sure I don't even know I need yet. 

I can offer for trade: custom knits of all sorts - you do the dreaming, I'll do the doing, knitting lessons, yarn from my stash (maybe - depends on if I can part with it), a song for you (I like to sing), yogurt and granola making, and probably other things that I can't think of right now. 

Get in touch - I'm presently working on a trade for a special lady artist friend, and the very thought of getting to create more special things for more special people in exchange for a little bit of their love in the form of their work makes my heart sing. You can find me at hello [at] closeknit.com.au, on instagram, and in person in Hobart (and sometimes Sydney, and rarely, the USA). I promise, I'm a nice lady. 

xx

Ani

HOW TO :: (NOT A HOW TO) Improvise a Quilt

quiltinprogress

 

A few weeks ago, I made a quilt. Well, kind of. It's a wonky mess, that's not finished "correctly", but it is technically a "quilt" and I slept with it on my bed last night, and it didn't fall apart, so I'm calling it a quilt.

quilt finished

I went into this whole quilt-making thing not wanting to follow any rules, any tutorials. I was in a mood and I was just not having any of that. I was not about to cut anything straight, measure anything, do any math. I just wanted to make. the. thing. damnit.

Here's what I did:

Step 1. Take a bunch of old sheets and pillowcases - doesn't matter how many, I used 2 pillowcases that were different colours, a big flowery sheet, and a double bed fitted sheet. If, like me, you're using a sheet with elastic in it, rip that shit out. Seriously just make a cut with some scissors and then rip it out. 

Step 2. Rip up your sheets/pillowcases. Doesn't matter the size, or if they match or anything. Maybe keep one that's reasonably big to use as the backing for the quilt. I basically ripped a double bed sheet in half (roughly) to get the backing for my quilt.

Step 3. Lay those ripped up pieces out in front of you and start jigsawing them together. Bonus points if  - like me- you tried to do this on your bed and accidentally pinned through your sheets a lot 

Step 4. Pin your pieces into place once you roughly have the look and size quilt face that you want - it doesn't have to be perfect here, I left a few spots that I filled in later with bits to fit the quilt backing that I'd made. I decided to fold my pieces over so that there weren't raw edges, but raw edges would be cool, too (I guess you'd just have to worry about the seams coming apart after a while) 

HOT TIP (which I learned after I made mine, of course): try using safety pins instead of regular pins when you're pinning your quilt pieces together so that they don't just all fall out when you go try to sew it. 

Step 5. Sew your quilt top! start wherever the hell you want. I know I did. There's probably an easier way to figure out where to start, but I don't know it.

Step 6. If your seams are so wonky that they cause a whole part of your quilt to get all billowy and floppy, just fold that bit over and make it an "accent" - make it work, right? 

Step 7. with right sides facing (this is the only time that a rule matters) sew your quilt backing to your quilt face - now you've got a lil quilt cover-y thing that you can slide some batting into. 

Step 8. Go buy some batting - and maybe measure your quilt before you go - that way you're not wasting money/batting. Bring your batting home. Cut your batting (probably don't try to rip it, that probably wouldn't work out well) to just under the size of your quilt - I didn't measure, I eyeballed. 

Step 9. With your quilt cover thingy right sides out, slide the batting inside. Trim if it doesn't fit inside. I had to. Then once it does (roughly) fit inside, pin it in a couple place so that it stays put.

Step 10. Make some cross marks with pins (or don't) and just start hand sewing little x's every so often to hold the quilt in place. I guess mine ended up somewhere around 10cm apart - but again, screw measuring. 

Step 11. Sew up the top of the quilt either by hand or by machine. 

Step 12. Admire your wonky ass quilt. 

quilt on bed

You've just improvised a quilt! Sorry in advance to all the real quilters who actually know what they're doing - let's just call this thing a "how to that's not really a how to".

xx

Open for Commissions :: A Mindful Making Ethos

Lately, I've been working on commissioned pieces, for trade, or for money, just on a small scale. I wanted to let you know that I'm available to knit custom pieces for you (for money, or trade). I also wanted to take this chance to express why I am choosing to primarily create custom work. 

When I first conceived of Close Knit, I was stubborn about knitting items for sale. I thought, "there's no way I could possibly make a living from that", "I'd get arthritis", and "it would kill the joy of knitting for me, if I became a production line of hats (or insert other thing here)". So I went about laying the foundation of Close Knit with the intention of only designing, teaching, providing resources, etc - I wasn't planning to knit except to design and also for selfish projects. 

I still believe in most of what I thought then. I'm not prepared to knit 30, 100, 1000 of the same garment - no matter how much I like the design. There aren't enough hours in the day, and my hands are too prone to soreness that I just don't want to risk it. And the more I've thought about this, the more resolute I've become.

Close Knit is an exercise in mindful making. I was trying to think of a way to describe my practice, my ethos -- I didn't want to use a term that felt wishy washy to me, like sustainable, and I wanted my practice to encompass so much more than that. When I am making, I like to take my time, and be intentional. Some questions that I (try to) ask myself before starting a project are, do I need this? is it beautiful? are the materials sourced as well as they could be? (I try to take into account environmental impact and human/social impact, which can be hard) is it something that will get a lot of wear? To me, this line of questioning is the crux of mindful making. Though at the same time, I make because it feels good, because I love it - I don't necessarily NEED that 10th beanie, but the process of creating is such a pure expression of joy to me that it would feel wrong not to honour that. (and for the record, sometimes I make totally bizarre stuff that no one would wear, and that's kind of just part of the process that I'm learning to accept) 

That feeds into my decision to work on commissioned and (primarily) one-of-a-kind pieces. I want to get that chance to work on a special design for someone - made exactly as they want it to be. Is this the fastest way to get something done? No way. Is it going to be cheap? Not really. It will take me a lot of time, and it will cost more than a garment you could get at a big box store. But that's why it's so important. I want to use these commissions as a practice for myself in slowing down, and a practice for the recipient in (hopefully) loving and treasuring an item that was made just for them, with love and dedication. And that's also why I'm open to trades and discussion. I want to continue valuing my time, and sometimes this means with money (because rent and bills sadly won't pay themselves), but I want to have an open practice around this that includes trades, payment plans, collaborations. 

If you have a piece in mind that you'd like knit for you, please get in touch: hello@closeknit.com.au - let's chat and make something work! 

xx

Ani 

What My 2015 Really Looked Like

2015bestnine.JPG

You know that "#bestnine2015" thing that was going around instagram recently? Mine is above. I posted it up with some caption like "linen, knitting, beach. I like it", but I instantly felt fraudulent. I thought, "all of those images are from the last 4 months of the year". What you didn't see in those photos - the bulk of 2015 in terms of time - was a lot of stuff, stuff that's probably not so fun to see in cute little squares on social media.

You didn't see that for over a year I was incredibly unhappy in my job, I left the office in tears more times than I'd like to admit. That it took me that entire year to work up the courage to resign from a job that was hurting my relationships, my self-worth, in spite of having great colleagues, and working toward a cause I believe in. 

You didn't see the heartache I felt living across the world from my family. Whilst I am incredibly grateful for the support and love I get from my partner in Australia, going over 2.5 years without seeing my siblings was pretty heartbreaking. My parents, whilst healthy and strong, are aging, and I don't get to see or speak to them as often as I would like. That's on my mind every single day. 

You didn't see that I struggled to find friends in Australia. That I often used social media as a crutch, and other times used it to carve a niche to help find those friends, albeit sometimes virtual. 

When I look back on 2015, though, it's not so much all that crap that I remember, although it's certainly present in my memory. What I remember is the newly formed strong friendships, the knitting workshops, the "knit nites", the slow weekends spent lounging around the park with a frisbee and friends, my first solo trip (to Tassie), the farm party send-off for my best friend, my first time going back to the US since moving to Australia, meeting my sister's partner, seeing my brother at University being all grown up with a strong build and a deep voice, navigating a fifth year of partnership with Narayan.

When I look back, I think I needed all the hurt and downright crappy times of 2015 to embrace (and honestly just recognise) the good stuff that happened that year. All that has propelled me forward into 2016 with an open heart, lots of passion, and even more gratitude for this life. 

Learning As I Go - On Self-Acceptance

knitting_at_kingman.jpg

The 'Learning As I Go' series invites you to take a peek behind the curtain. Each month, I'll be posting thoughts on life, crafting, pursuing passions, and the messes I make along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey of mine.

For the first post in this series, I wanted to talk about something I find difficult to talk about. Silly as that may sound, my hope is that in sharing this, however inarticulately, it might help others on their journey with self-acceptance, wherever they may be .

Now, let me tell you, I am far from being all "I love me, I love myself, I don't need anybody else" (sorry for the ridiculous reference there), but I'm getting better at accepting the parts of myself I used to feel really ashamed of. 

I think it started in high school, my being cognisant of my difference, that is. I didn't really feel like going out, partying, drinking. And at first I think it stemmed from this weird place of judgement. I think I liked feeling "above" people for not partaking in activities I saw as bad or unhealthy. And this stemmed from my school environment - 200 of the same students, more or less, for 12 years. I couldn't break out of this "goodie-two-shoes-stick-up-her-ass" image people had in their heads. So that's what I was - a goodie-goodie. But I wasn't feeling myself that whole time.

Fast-forward to university, and things were feeling a bit better. I found like-minded friends, strong, athletic, tender women who raised each other up. But still, there was this nagging feeling. Every Friday and Saturday night, my co-op would boom with loud music, friends and acquaintances would run down the hallways, screaming til the wee hours of the morning. And sure, there were times that I was that person. My face painted, high heels on, I was running up and down the halls, dancing til my feet felt like they were going to fall off. 

But something about that never felt right. I would often drag myself to parties, only to leave 30 minutes later, feeling deflated and honestly just sad. I'd pity myself and reflect on how "boring" I was, how different I felt to everyone else my age. I'd try to shake it off and poke fun at myself, saying I was an 80-year-old in a 21-year-old's body - but I'd mostly say that just to make the joke before someone else could. 

There was one night that I had a moment of peace with it all. I was walking down "frat row" - the street that had all of the sororities and fraternities (aka party central) - as it was the fastest route from my co-op to my partner's house. I looked around at all the people, drunk and stumbling, giggling and singing. I'd just finished performing at an African Dance concert, and I was feeling alive. And in that space of contentment, I thought maybe I'm more like everyone else than I had believed. Maybe we're just all looking for ways to have fun, ways to be happy. And for me, that's dancing in an ensemble, knitting alone on my couch, singing in my shower. And for others, that's dancing the night away, imbibing, living wildly. And we're both right. Neither of us is doing things wrong, we're all just trying things on to see what fits us. 

Maybe we're all just learning as we go. 

xx

 

Welcome to the Close Knit Blog

Welcome to the Close Knit blog. It's funny you should find yourself here. Funny because I always swore I would never become a blogger. It seemed like everything that needed saying had already been said, and with all the noise on the internet, why should I have to add to it?

But here I find myself needing a space to showcase the incredible talent, generosity, kindness, and authenticity of the fibre community. Needing a space to document the journey I'm on - a love affair with knitting and a constant desire to learn more about the fibre arts.  A space to be honest and transparent about my craft triumphs and failures, the materials I use, and attempts at being "sustainable". 

I plan to write a few ongoing series, a weekly "What's on my needles" to show what I'm working on each week (which might be nothing some weeks), a monthly "Learning As I Go" series, to be open with my heart about my journey of just being alive, and a fortnightly (maybe even weekly!) interview series with amazing fibre artists and educators from around the world - this may even take the form of a podcast. (stay tuned!) 

I hope you'll find something here that resonates with you, and I'm truly excited to share this part of myself with you. 

xx

Ani