Let me tell you this. Mostly, there is not a lot wrong with earning part of your income teaching knitting.  Knitters are really, really interesting, and really, knitters are the only people in the world who seem to be interested in talking about knitting as much as I want to, which is a fair bit, and that keeps me from bothering regular people with knitting talk (often), which has been pretty good for my non-knitting relationships.  (I believe Joe is particularly grateful that he doesn’t have to talk about gussets that much anymore.)

It’s pretty cool to get to go to a lot of the festivals and conferences – although having been to them as both a teacher and a student, I can tell you that the student experience is way cooler – but considering I’m at  work? It’s a lot more fun that most people get to have at their jobs.  That’s pretty good.    I’ve gotten to meet some really great people, and I get to say things out loud like "When I was talking with Barbara Walker…" or "When Nancy Bush and I discussed it…" which is a pretty spectacularly cool thing if you happen to have a tremendous amount of respect for and interest in people like that, which I do, and if you’re always trying to learn more about knitting, which I am.

I love going new places, and seeing new things, and I get to spend a lot of time in yarn shops, and well, frankly… I love yarn shops.  I’ve even built up my resistance to them, so that my exposure on a professional level isn’t some bizarre zero sum game where the proprietor doesn’t pay me in money,  just lets me drive away with a trunkful of yarn.   (I’m rather proud of that.)

There’s only a couple of things that I don’t like about teaching knitting.  First, that it means being away from home, and missing family stuff, and driving, and sleeping in strange beds and eating strange food and sometimes it’s a little lonely, and it’s always totally exhausting… but mostly – the only thing that I freakin’ hate about teaching knitting?

You can’t knit while you do it.  That’s the little birthday dress, and the first sock of a pair, and as of today I’ve been away from home for five days, and that there knitting is pretty much the same. 

That’s the only thing I hate. 
I think that’s fair. I hated way more stuff when I worked at McDonalds.

69 thoughts on “Downside

  1. That can’t be too bad. Do what you love so that you have time to love it, is what I think. I have to say nice photo. I love the red pillow with the button in the back and might have to knit a cover like that for my place! Weird I know

  2. {{hug}} I know it’s only one simple thing to hate, and I understand that. Just think, however, of the increase in people who are clicking needles and pretty string making more and more beautiful objects.

  3. I’m fourth!!! Never been this high up the comments.
    When I had a job that involved lots of reading……I never got to read for fun, as I always felt guilty that I wasn’t reading for work. But the rest of the job was pretty great….but there were no French fries.
    Hey…how’s that Gansey coming along?

  4. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a math teacher and I don’t get any knitting accomplished during my workday either.

  5. I completely agree with Deborah; knitting and driving being mutually exclusive really stinks.
    Also, that sock looks like a That Laurie’s sock yarn sock, so things can’t be all bad.

  6. French fries or no, I cannot imagine Stephanie at McDonalds. My imagination simply can’t expand that far.

  7. I worked at Burger King. As a vegetarian there was plenty to hate, starting with always smelling like greasy burgers. Yuck. I’d rather work at a yarn shop.
    Of course, I used to work at a Japanese book store, and I was constantly resisting the books in order to make my rent. It almost always worked (thank goodness for the other 2 jobs).

  8. I have noticed that you have built up some resistance in yarn stores. When you first set out on tour I thought your head was going to explode with the love for all the yarn. But you have your wool legs now and it seems you can enjoy the experience without spending the grocery money.
    Well done you.

  9. Good to know. I’m about to make the leap into teaching knitting and demonstrating spinning, though it must be said that the day when I get paid for either endeavour seems still to be pretty far distant. If I’d been smart enough to study spinning wheel restoration I would probably already have received at least an honorarium.

  10. Give a woman a pair of hand-knitted socks and you’ll keep her feet wam until she loses one of them, but teach her how to knit and her feet will always be warm.

  11. I’m so happy to be out of the resturant stuff & on to knitting too. It’s a much better world to be in & you don’t smell like grease too often.

  12. Well we sure are glad you teach us and we are only a bit sorry you miss your own knitting. I for one totally enjoyed my time with you at Grok the Sock today. I think I likely could do a sock without a book right now AND even graft the sucker. I will treasure my signed book now. One ,more thing off my bucket list….Meet the yarnharlot…done.

  13. OK! You just made my day so much better. I enjoy laughing – even when it is a chuckle inside – and I did chuckle. I hope one day to attend a knitting festival or conference and that is due to you and your blog. Thanks for just making our days that much better.

  14. Maybe try to arrange your schedule so that you have large blocks of time at home. At least then going away won’t be so bad.

  15. I think the beautiful dress for Marlow looks a teeny bit longer…maybe it’s an optical illusion…

  16. I think your life is a perfect example of how to find out what job you should do in life. You figure out what you really like to do, what you do all the time when you get to do whatever you want, and then you figure out how to make that generate money. There was no job title called: knitting humor books, until you created it, but that was the job you were meant to do, and now it exists. And there was hardly a job called knitting + blogging+ teaching + making conferences that people are dying to attend, but that’s who you are and that is what you were called to do, and you made it happen.
    My daughter thought she wanted to study physics, but she never did stuff out in the garage to see how things worked, what she did was write fan fiction and talk to friends who were depressed and suicidal–so she switched her major to psychology, and now she has a great job in non-profit consulting.
    Follow your bliss!

  17. Ever think about seeing if you could swing a free class for someone if they were willing to drive you to and from the destination? It could work.

  18. I’m sure Joe doesn’t mind talking about gussets when it is in relation to socks that fit him well. I’m even more sure he’d LOVE to talk about gussets if that helps the gansey get done!

  19. It’s funny, you’re writing this blog post just as I’ve finished having a rather good day at work, and I’m struck by how similar our feelings are.
    I’m a freelance illustrator, incidentally. I love art. I spend my entire life thinking about art, enjoying art, looking at art, learning about it, loving it… I can’t get enough. It’s my life’s work – my calling. And I’m incredibly lucky, because I get to do it for a living. And sometimes it’s hard, and frustrating, and annoying, but it’s ALWAYS better than that time I worked in McDonalds (yeah, I worked there too!)
    Today I had an hour’s art lesson with a 12 year old student of mine (we learned about shading! And drew fruit!), and spent the rest of the day listening to very loud music and doing some black-and-white ink illustrations for a book that a friend of mine is talking to his publisher about this weekend, which means I have a short deadline. Yesterday I got one of the six illustrations I have to do for him done… and struggled with a second in the evening, before I realised it wasn’t happening. Today… I did four! 🙂 Including the really difficult one that I had no idea how I was going to tackle even slightly until I sat down to try and do it! Which means I only have the cover illustration to do tomorrow.
    And I heard back from my client, who’s thrilled with my work, and… well, I’m sitting here with a nice beer, thinking how I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Yes, some days my job sucks. Some days it’s boring and I don’t want to do it. But mostly it’s brilliant, and I love it so much. It’s taught me I can draw almost anything I put my mind to. It’s given me acres of confidence. I get to do something I love every day and get paid for it! How awesome is that?
    The only thing is, I never have any time to work on my own illustration projects. I’ve got a finished script (that I wrote) for a short comic sitting on my desk. And I have no clue when that’s going to get drawn, because after I’ve done the cover illustration for my friend and probably the graphic design of the cover too… I’ve got two pretty mighty illustrations to do for someone entirely different. And knowing how this works… by the time those are done, I’ll have something else to do for someone else, something I can’t even begin to predict.
    Not enough hours in the day to pursue the thing that makes your heart glow with happiness. There never will be. But that’s okay, I think. The only alternative is not doing the thing that makes you glow at all. Or only doing it as a hobby, and spending the rest of the week doing something you hate. And that’s not nearly enough heart-glow for me. And not enough for you, either, I bet. 🙂
    Keep on rockin’, Steph. And hugs to you.

  20. I dream of your job! But alas, I lack the technical know-how and wit to pull it off successfully. Tomorrow I return to my job as a para-educator. Working with special needs children is pretty darn nifty too, but the grown ups involved have been known to take the fun right out of that job whenever possible. Several years ago I brought a spinning wheel into the classroom and as incentive for the students to finish their work early, I let them have a go at it when they were done with their lessons. They worked the foot pedal, I drafted and spun the yarn while they found a rhythm and maintained it. Occasionally a student would try to work both the treadle and the fiber at the same time. Either way, they were delighted with the wonky, wilk and weird yarn they’d made and each of them got to take a little ball that they’d helped to make. It provided tactile stimulation, the repetetive motions were soothing and they had a concrete result. I remember thinking how neat it would be if the kids could all be taught weaving and/or knitting as well. However, my superiors made me remove the wheel and no fibery crafts could be pursued during classtime because it wasn’t part of the official curriculum. My reason for bringing this whole story up is to make the point that no matter how much we enjoy something, it’s always a million times better when we don’t have to answer to someone else. You have publishers, editors, etc., but in general, I think your job ranks pretty high up on the “I’m going to do what I want to do” scale. BTW, what is that delightful yarn you’re using for the sock?

  21. I hear you.
    I used to work in a bookstore. Friends who know how much I love to read used to think I got to read all day long. Oh, if only…
    Still cool, though, being around books and helping people choose something that would please them.

  22. Steph you do so much it’s amazing when you think your not measuring up to some arbitrary deadline. I’m lucky to finish a pair of socks once in a while. Sheesh!

  23. I love teaching too and agree with your view on teaching. The benefits far outweight the disadvantages. I’ve not quite built up the resistance to yarn shops that you have and usually spend some of my teaching pay in the shop. I do manage not to spend all of it though. Plus most of my workshops are fairly local so it’s only a day away.

  24. Hi ya – If you ever need a place to go and just knit in peace and quite feel free to come on down to country south of Chicago. We have a spare room and you’d have a private bath and the coffee or tea that you could drink. You’re always welcome.

  25. Hire a driver?
    I’m an attorney and generally cannot knit during my work day, except for the occasional telephone conference where I am the only person participating from my office. Today is one of those days!
    And readers/commenters here are really the only people who truly appreciate how excited I am to have an hour to knit in the middle of the day.

  26. You are the only one to hate working at McDonalds. Both my children did when they were in high school. My daughter especially hated it. When she came back after her first year of college and was looking for a summer job I asked her about going back there because she really just had to tell them she was back. Apparently she would rather cut off her index finger.

  27. But, the plusses outweigh the one minus! You spend much time in a totally knitting environment, you mingle with the super stars of the knitting world. You meet knitters from all over. They speak your (our) language. True, you are away from home a lot, but that has its bright side too. You don’t have to make a bed, prepare a meal or rush to wash the pair of jeans your daughter must have today! You will catch up with your knitting while you are remembering the great time you’ve just had!

  28. Sadly, my job frowns on me knitting while I’m supposed to be working too. I do look forward to the 20 minutes I get each day on the bus to work each morning. I had to give up the 20 minute bus ride back to my car as knitting time as I use that to get some exercise.
    I have two young daughters who limit my knitting time in the evenings as well although that job is usually much more rewarding than the one I get paid money for. 🙂
    But…tonight is knit night!

  29. I also worked at McDonald’s. Teaches you a lot about how to treat people in general. That is the one thing about working at McDonald’s; many people assume that, if you are working at McDonald’s, you are not intelligent and will never be anything other than a McDonald’s employee. Makes you learn early and often not to judge people. I may be getting your fries today, but I will be your international trade economist tomorrow. ;o)

  30. I also worked the night shift at McDonalds when the kids were babies. My hair always smelled of french fries but I was so exhausted when I got home I just went to bed and showered in the morning. On the plus side (?) I learned what pot smelled like. Never turn your nose up at any stray bit of knowledge.

  31. I did wonder how you could stand to be at the front of the classroom with your hands empty while the lot of us were knitting…
    If it makes you feel any better, I’m positive you’ve converted at least one of us into pattern-free sock knitters. I cast on my first “me” pair the second I had the chance 😀
    “my number” was a bit discouraging though. Gotta ramp up the weight loss so I can use less sock yarn LOL

  32. I totally understand. I’m a librarian. I’d be in BIG trouble if I were caught reading a novel at the reference desk!

  33. I totally hear you, I actually told friends the other day that I wanted to learn to knit with my feet so that I could knock out my Christmas knitting while at work. I’m a property manager….think they’d notice?
    I worked at McDonald’s in high school and a little in college, too. Lots of things to hate about it. Whenever I am stressed out, I have stress dreams of being the only person working both up front AND in the kitchen. And the drive-thru is slammed, and three buses have just pulled in. Is that weird?
    Rock on, Steph. Loving that party dress!

  34. In defence of McDonalds,and I grew up without McD’s (none in Scotland in 70’s)
    It taught you a lot
    1 How to work with people
    2 How to work hard (at the time)
    3 Be part of a team
    4 Standards matter
    I have friends you are successful business men,own thier own companies
    ALWAYS hire any kid who worked at McDonalds because they learned the above.

  35. I know how you feel teaching knitting I have done the teaching, sometimes it is hard. The students want you to do all their knitting. They think that is what a class is all about!

  36. Another classic post. I love how you always show life’s positives and negatives without losing sight of the balance. In this case the balance is obviously right. But it feels great to kvetch once in awhile, right? Another plus.

  37. “Would you like fries with that?” Much better to be a knitting teacher/author/humorist. I worked the lunch counter at Woolworth’s in high school. Fun, but nursing was much more rewarding. Retirement is even better–I get to knit whenever the urge strikes—well, almost.

  38. I think everyone needs to have one or two “McDonalds” experiences in their lives.Team work, and perseverance,hard work, never did anyone any harm. Bad jobs, let’s talk working at a egg farm.Shivers from the horrible memories.

  39. and you couldn’t knit working at mc’donalds eighter! …or could

  40. I totally get it. I love flying and it was great taking my plane to Salt Lake City and back for convention but that’s just it, no knitting while I’m doing the flying. Almost makes me want to go commercial next year. Almost.

  41. Thank You, Thank you, Thank you! You were even more awesome than I had hoped you would be!!!! I learned so much this week; my brain really hurts. That’s what happens when you exercise it (a lot)! So totally worth it, and love you lots 😀

  42. I was sitting beside Cherye this week and I feel the same way as she does,thank you for this week in Perth.You make knitting interesting,and you have an amazing gift to teach and not make those of us that have to take out the baby sock twice feel dumb.Thanks again and safe travels to you.

  43. Have to disagree with Maggie, Aug 28, who said: “teach her how to knit and her feet will always be warm”
    Nope, the reality is “teach her to knit and her feet will still be cold because she’s always knitting for her loved ones”!

  44. Pretty much the same here. Last few months, my knitting slowed down to almost zlitch as I am busy teaching!

  45. Hi Ms. Harlot – when in doubt, ask an expert (you). My daughter was hired today to teach sock knitting at our local yarn shop. She’s never taught before, but knits beautifully! Any advice on how she should go about teaching? She’s going to do the cuff down, two circular needle method. Thanks for any help you can give her!

  46. Wow, so that is what bobbin lace looks like being made. I first read about it years ago in “Framed in Lace” by Monica Ferris a murder mystery.

  47. One of the best things about my (now-ex) husband was he had to drive. He was a terrible passenger, so I knitted and quilted while he drove on all our trips. Now, I can do the same while my licensed teenage son drives! Once I’ve relaxed about his driving, of course…

  48. Definitely fair.
    Wouldn’t it be brilliant to be able to knit at work?! Sometimes I sneak in a row or two if I’m particularly stuck on a problem, but usually there’s no opportunity. I used to knit on the bus, but now I can walk, which is fantastic, but definitely cuts into the knitting time.

  49. When I managed an LYS, people often commented, “oh boy, I would LOVE to have a job where I could knit all day!”
    I would answer, “So would I.”

  50. Isn’t there someplace in the British Isles where the women would attach a bag to their waist and knit while they walked into town to the market? I’ve always wanted to try that. It’s a good solution to the exercise + hobby wishes!
    I also wondered about knitting socks on an exercise bike. I imagine the treadmill is right out.

  51. Warehouse 13 is a TV series and I think the comment above was either sent by them or somebody’s cat (I believe there’s a sci fi component to the show)

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