I’ve had what I consider an Unexpected Career for just shy of 14 years now. While I always loved to write, I never in a zillion years expected I’d make money doing it—let alone earn my living from it. When I was in college, the kind of work I do now didn’t even exist (there was no world wide web back then, kids), so even dreaming of this writing career wasn’t possible.
And, if we can assume the unmitigated shitshow of the pandemic and the havoc it wreaked on my travel industry clients (the bulk of my work) is a temporary blip, I have paid my bills for more than a dozen years by stringing words together from the comfort of my desk at home—usually while wearing sweats and slippers.
It’s weird, this thing I do for a living.
Fast forward to 2017, when I learned to knit and became obsessed almost literally overnight. Pair a new crafting obsession with my existing inability to sleep on what some call “a normal schedule” and you get someone who knits an average of 4–6 hours per day (well, night, if we’re being picky)…
I kept diving into projects, not looking at where they fell on the beginner-intermediate-advanced scale or whether a beginner like myself “should” even tackle certain things. I still think it was that utter ignorance that made it possible for me to knit some of the things I did early on—I didn’t know I was likely to fail, so I often just kept at it until I figured it out or discovered the skills I needed to learn first.
When I fell in love with knitting, it didn’t occur to me that it was side hustle material. I have had the good fortune of occasionally combining my writing career with my knitting obsession, but the idea that knitting itself would be a way to earn money seemed far-fetched and/or impossible.
It wasn’t long, though, before I was envisioning garments I wanted to make and for which I couldn’t find existing patterns. I started by modifying existing patterns, which was nice but didn’t always scratch the very particular itch I had. I’d sometimes futz with garments in a trial-and-error fashion, which was ridiculously time-consuming but often produced satisfying results.
Eventually, I figured out a few things and started designing my own simple patterns.
To date, I’ve published two knitting patterns for sale (plus a couple of freebies) and have several more in various stages of readiness. I never expected the sales to really pay my bills, but it was so gratifying to be able to make my visions come to life—and fun to create patterns that other people might want to make.
And then 2020 happened.
Knitting became an even greater source of solace than it already was, and my travel writing work almost completely dried up. I had even more time on my hands and friends and family I couldn’t hug, so I made more than 20 of what I call “knitted hugs” to send out in the mail. One of those very knit-worthy friends is insanely creative, a fellow secular Jew, and funny as hell.
And that combination, believe it or not, is what leads me to the book pictured above.
See, my friend and I have plans. We’ve got several Jewy sweaters already sketched out, and I’m confident we’ve barely scratched the surface. So, on the last day of 2020, this book I ordered weeks ago has finally arrived, and it seems a fitting send-off to a fucking awful year and simultaneously a hopeful symbol of a (fingers crossed) less fraught future.
At the very least, the future will include more Jewish-themed knitwear. I mean, if every Jewish Mother is going to tell you to “put on a sweater, already,” you might as well be prepared.