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Variegated Yarn Tales: Monica Rodriguez

Occupation: Blogger, Theater Enthusiast, Executive Assistant

Ravelry Username: monifique

What inspired you to start knitting or crocheting?

My grandmother was an epic knitter/crocheter, but I did not have her swagger and confidence until later in life.  I started crocheting about 10 years ago, after she passed away, but did not become truly obsessed. I didn’t think I was “good enough” at it to really pursue it, and I knew for sure I would never pick up knitting. I think if I had more role models and a better understanding that the knitting community was a diverse group of people from all walks of life I might have been braver and stuck with it earlier.

Has knitting or crocheting got you through a difficult time in your life? If so, how did it help?

In 2014, I was at a terrible low in my life. My husband, Eirik, has cystic fibrosis. Long story short: shit hit the fan, they don’t do lung transplants where we live in Albuquerque, and, with maybe one day’s notice, we were flown via air ambulance to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California.

I was allowed a single carry-on bag for both of us. We lived out of that bag for two weeks. I was sleeping on a cot in his hospital room most of the time, until Eirik recovered enough to get discharged from the hospital to wait for his new pair of lungs.

Suddenly, we were living in a new place, with no friends or family nearby. It was isolating and crazy-making. We waited for 7 months. And while we were waiting I needed to find something to do – something to both focus my mind and numb the unbearable hospital lifestyle. I needed to feel productive when there was literally nothing to do but wait.

I taught myself to loom knit, and it saved my sanity.

Would a spa trip and therapist help? Yes, but yarn was way cheaper. Also, sometimes, you just have to sit in a hospital waiting room for 10 hours and stay strong and sane.  You can’t order in a therapist for that. By God, if you’re going to trap me in a room with nothing but the uncontrollable sadness of my husband in pain, at bare minimum, I’d better be able to make a hat at the same time.

His transplant was successful, and he is now a healthy man that I have a fairly uneventful marriage with. Normalcy for the win! As my husband recovered I became a more determined knitter and crocheter. Things that seemed challenging to me before no longer did. Teaching myself to needle knit was easy in comparison to all we went through that year.

What keeps you obsessed?

New patterns, new knitting friends, and my inherently stubborn attitude. After years of wanting to make beautiful things but thinking I couldn’t do it, I want to learn anything and everything to make whatever damn beautiful thing I want now.

What’s your favorite project that you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a Pussyhat for myself for the Women’s March on Denver. I dug through my stash and found pink yarn that I inherited from my Grandma. Using her yarn is going to make this hat extra special to me.

 What project are you most proud of? Why?

I am most proud of this blanket I loom knit as a wedding gift for my friend’s Will and Luke. The colors are based off their chosen wedding attire and their favorite colors- bright green and blue. I was so excited when I found a variegated yarn of both colors to use for the center squares to symbolize their union. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this blanket- the amount of sewing and weaving in of ends was ridiculous! I would say that I will never make a blanket like this again, because it’s too much darn work, but I’m already working on something vaguely similar for my mom- The Penrose by Woolly Thoughts.

What’s the best knitting or crochet advice you have received?

“It’s just knitting.” As someone who loudly badmouths yarn and needles whenever I learn something new and am struggling, sometimes it’s important to just sit back and remember, “it’s just knitting.” Technically I signed up to do this FOR FUN. So keep having fun, it’s never truly life or death. Unless we have a polar apocalypse, in which case my skills will be useful and it definitely won’t matter if the stitch pattern is off by one stitch as long as it keeps humanity, on the verge of extinction, warm.

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My name is Monica Rodriguez and I can’t stop fidgeting with yarn. I live in Albuquerque, NM with my husband. We belong to two terriers who manage to cuddle us just enough to keep us from revolting.

Let me know what you think!