In reality, this doesn’t suck.

by therevknits

I went to my favorite LYS (local yarn shop) today to accomplish a few necessary tasks. I went to pick out yarn suitable to the knitting group’s new project (baby vest!) to take to the group tonight. I figure it’s easier to take the suitable yarns from the shop to the knitters than to get the knitters to the shop or to refigure the pattern for the various yarns they were sure to bring to the project. I also wanted to sweet talk Carol, the LYS owner, into letting me shoot the youtube videos for the pattern I’m working on in the shop (with her). My main purpose was to take some 500g hanks of undyed cotton down to 100g hanks using some of her heavy duty equipment.

The shop had lots of suitable yarns, Carol was down with the videos, but the re-hanking was a total pain in the butt. I think it took us 2.5 hours to create 25 hanks, some over weight, some under weight, and lots of yarn cut into ties because it was no longer suitable for dyeing. It was horrible. I am meticulous about yarn, so I’m slower than is necessary. 500g hanks are huge. They’re more than a pound, and contain 820 yards of yarn. Every piece of equipment squeaked under the weight, we had to count the turns on the wheel, and the original hanks were looped back on themselves in ways that left us both yelling. Halfway through the hanking, when both of us were hands-on, and I had already hit myself in the face with one of the swifts, Carol looks at me and says, “In theory, this totally works.” (See: And then she asked me about the meaning of “Onanism” (See:, and the discussion that followed left me snorting in laughter as I turned the handle of the wheel we were winding onto, counting silently in my head, holding the stool that held the wheel in place with my foot, trying not to hit myself in the face with the wheel (again), and making it clear that my vocation is much more likely to be something involving theory than athletics.

In theory, it’s difficult (but necessary) for pastors to make friends outside of their congregation. When you’re friend/pastor, you have to actually be pastor/friend. The pastoring always comes first, which often jeopardizes friendship, which means we should probably just find our friends outside the pews. Don’t get me wrong… I love my parishioners. I’m blessed to be a part of their lives. If I could choose a group of parishioners, it would be them. But that’s just it… I’m their pastor, and I’ve learned the painful lesson over six years of ministry that they have to be parishioners first and foremost for the relationships to be healthy. They need me to be the pastor, not to be another friend.

If you run a shop like Carol does, you have some similar issues (minus the midnight phone calls, family funerals, and having to remain neutral in marriage issues of your parishioners/friends). We both have almost no control over who walks in the door during the hours our “shops” are open. We both have to walk the line between providing what people want and what they actually need. We both have to have a great poker face, iron skin, and more grace with difficult people than our minds naturally offer.

When Alex jumped into the yarn industry, I got to cross into new territory of being “in the industry” instead of Carol’s customer. Hers was the first shop to carry Ale’s yarn and she was our guide into the challenging world of the LYS. Now that Ale has lots of stores to worry about, and I knit mostly Yarns of Italy sample pieces, we GET to be friends instead of being friends by proximity or need. Our friendship is not Cascade 220, the basic go-to yarn when you have to knit something cheap and fast. Instead, it’s Cashmere Queen, the luxury that may sit on the shelf for a few months but is something you love to pick up and knit together.

Carol told me once that if I ever wrote about her, she better not show up in my writing as some angelic figure. She’s real, and I get to be real around her. Together, we can say what we want, be who we are, and share what we think without concern that we will offend a customer/parishioner. We get to choose to like each other because of what we say, who we are, and what we think. I’ll never say she’s an angel (or that I’m an angel), but I will say that she’s a blessing. Even jobs that in theory should totally work but turn out sucky (like re-hanking heavy, tangled, dirty cotton) actually don’t suck when they’re done safely anchored in reality and choice.