Friday, July 15, 2016

You never know . . .

Live long enough, and this phrase becomes a constant. You never know what single, simple decision will change your life.

So here is a little-told story of how my knitting career--at least, the book-writing part of it--came to be.

By the way, my first book was about using up leftovers, which is my most recent Craftsy class, so if you do not want to read further--but just want to check out the class--here is a link to the trailer
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and here is a half-price link to the class
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(You might have to copy and paste into your browser: somehow, on this page, my links never come through as working links! They do work in my Ravelry group, but not here. However this works, I invite you to pass these along to any knitters or groups or shops who might be interested.)

So, back to the story.

I had taken the Study Skills Advisor job at the University of Waterloo, as a favour to a friend (who was taking a 2-year leave and probably not returning, although she did not tell her boss that last part), and because my husband--who had died 6 months earlier--thought I might need the money. (Turns out, I did not.)

So I trained myself and then counselled students, taught workshops, gave presentations (on any of the following topics and to groups of any size), and wrote a website (which was an entirely new concept in the late 90's) on learning and remembering, time management, exam preparation, note-taking, text-reading, concentration and distraction, creative problem solving. I had two offices--one in Counselling Services (right below the president's office) and one in the Engineering building.

I loved the students, and I loved the stuff I learned. But I disliked working in a small space (exacerbated by the fact that the air exchange was through the parking garage, so we were all gray by noon and couldn't get through the day without a 20 minute nap!). And I loathed working 9-5. (I know, I was spoiled, but I would look out the window on a sunny day and think of where else I could and should be.)

So, at the end of the two years, my boss offered me the job full-time. (My friend did not, indeed, return.) I said "No thanks, Bob." He was--quite rightly--shocked!!! "But why? We really like you in this job!" But I did not like me in this job, although I must surely have mumbled something more polite? He then asked what turned out to be a very important question: "But what will you DO???"

And here is the moment in which my life changed. I was knitting a sweater for my daughter's boyfriend, using up whatever was in my knitting room (as a nod to the knitting curse) but wanting to make it pretty (in case we broke the curse and he did stick around). I looked down at the sweater, which I happened to be holding through the conversation, and said "I am going to write a knitting book on using up leftovers. Someone will buy it."

NOT someone will publish it (which turned out to be a bit of a struggle), but someone will buy it!

With faith that this plan would somehow materialize into a book, I worked out all the issues of using leftovers, knit lots and lots of garments, and eventually found a publisher. On the photo shoot (which was held in Canada, because NAFTA made it difficult to get garments across the border), my editor asked "So, Sally, how many books do you have in you?"

"I think SEVEN!" 

(This final statement turned out to be oddly prophetic, although it had no basis in an actual plan in that actual moment.)

Because the book on using up leftovers was very successful and, I think helped by the fact that there was not yet a glut of knitting books on the market, I was allowed to do what I wanted next--THE KNIT STITCH.

And, as they say, the rest . . .

So, I would end by encouraging a) you who have leftovers to check out the class and b) you who have lived long enough to wonder if you have had similar moments in your life--when an odd decision changed all that followed?


  1. Neither of the links are working

  2. You will have to copy it, then paste it into your browser.
    But if you go to my group on Ravelry, then to the post about a new Craftsy class, it comes through as an actual link there.

  3. Great story! So glad you quit that job ;)

    I love craftsy. So glad to be your student there, and thank you for the discount on your new class. Cut and paste worked perfectly.

    See you in class!

    1. Thanks so much!
      I, too, am glad I quit that job, but I will write a future post about what that job taught me!

  4. What an interesting story!!! Love your Craftsy clear and conscise.

    1. Thanks so much! It was fun to develop and film.

  5. What a great story! I have all your books and treasure them, but that very first one, "Styles", remains my favorite. It is so beautiful and so inspiring and the projects are gorgeous. Thanks for leaving your university career, Sally!

    1. Thanks so much. I will never forget the day I first saw that book in print. What a day! I had to call a friend before I opened the cover!
      I, too, am glad I left the job. But as I said earlier, I will soon write a post about some of the things I learned in that job.