Alum turns knitting into surprise livelihood
Back in her “what do you want to be when you grow up” days, Christie “C.C.” Almon never imagined her life would revolve around yarn and knitting. But when life threw a few curveballs, C.C. stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park.
Today, from her home in Bremerton, Wash., C.C. and her daughter, Dami, host a weekly podcast on knitting that is viewed by around 2,000 and downloaded off iTunes by about the same number each week. Add to that a few books of knitting patterns and a community message board that has legions of fans worldwide and C.C. has managed to knit together a career one purl at a time.
C.C. earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayland in religious education in 2001 and then attended seminary for a master’s degree in spiritual care with husband Russell, a 1998 and 2002 graduate of WBU who recently completed a Ph.D. in theology at the University of Edinburgh.
A new side hobby
After finishing her graduate degree, C.C. was in her element as a hospital chaplain, working regularly in the neonatal intensive care unit. She bought a book to learn knitting, noting it was just something she had always wanted to do. The new hobby gave her something to do during long, slow overnight shifts in the hospital. Before long, C.C.’s health began to suffer and she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that often results in debilitating pain throughout a patient’s body. The pain relegated C.C. to a wheelchair and she was suddenly unable to work. Stuck at home, she opted to resume homeschooling Dami, and the preteen wanted to learn to knit like mom.
“We were in Abilene then and took a class at a yarn store on knitting socks. I just fell in love,” recalls C.C. “Around that time podcasts started getting popular, I would watch a few from time to time. The lady at the yarn store suggested the Dami and I do one. We thought we’d try a video podcast so we could show people things we were working on, and I knew I could work the home-schooling aspect into it and help her learn different things.”
Geeky Girls Knit podcast – so named because the Almons all share a love for geeky pop culture – was born in 2012 and the duo just released their 318th episode in October. The weekly show releases on Fridays, a relatively new change since Dami is now a freshman at Seattle Pacific University and records the podcast with her mom through videoconferencing. The podcast is housed on their website, www.geekygirlsknit.com, and on YouTube, with links on their www.JavaPurlDesigns.com landing page for their various ventures.
“We have only missed recording maybe two or three times over the past six years, so there’s a lot of consistency. I think that’s why we’ve built such a community, because they know every week something is coming out,” says C.C.
“We are very open on our podcasts about life and what is going on. This is not a religious podcast but we do talk about our faith from time to time. We have an ‘Ask the Geeky Girls’ portion where we have had people ask about how we handled life after miscarriage, chronic illness, how we stay upbeat and positive through all this, and I think if I’m having a rough time I just talk about it. People respond to that because they know we’re not just sharing the positive stuff but the real stuff of life too.”
After the podcast began taking off, C.C.’s projects expanded. The gift of a skein of sock yarn led her to create her own sock pattern after not finding one that matched her vision for the finished product. She published that in March 2013 and still sells it, packaged with a Doctor Who-inspired yarn provided by an independent yarn dyer.
Since that first pattern, C.C. has published 60-plus patterns, mostly socks but some shawls and hats as well. Most are sold through Ravelry.com, a site for knitters that also features a message board for their podcast where they update viewers and hold contests from time to time.
In another unexpected twist, C.C. has self-published three books, encouraged by loyal viewers and purchasers of her individual patterns. The first was “Coffee with C.C.,” featuring seven patterns inspired by another of her loves, which was released just before the third Edinburgh Yarn Festival at which C.C. and Dami sold their wares. For the second book, “Coffee with C.C. (and Dami too),” C.C. collaborated on designs with her daughter. The third, “Tickled Pink,” released in the spring and features a number of patterns by C.C. and Dami using custom-created pink yarns. All three are available on Ravelry as well as Amazon.
As a personal side service effort, C.C. has also donated more than 200 preemie-sized hats that she knits each Sunday while listening to the sermons at church. The hats harken back to her NICU-service days and keep her prayerful for families who have little ones in the unit, much as she and Russell did when Dami was a newborn 19 years ago. Started in 2014, C.C. delivers a bagful every few months to her local hospital NICU unit.
“I know families are blessed, and that’s all I need to know. I remember how that feels and hope they know someone is thinking and praying for them,” she noted. “I still miss the hands-on ministry part of hospital chaplaincy and this helps me keep part of that alive.”
Top photo: Melissa Foltz
Devotional: Something good is bound to happen
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." - Galatians 6:9 (NASB)
Paul may be using the word “reap” to reference the blessings of eternal life that will come one day. He is encouraging the reader that in due time things will get better!
Farmers go about four months between planting and harvesting. I lived in a farming community twice during my early ministry. It was always fascinating to watch the process from planting to harvest and see a bountiful crop grow from just a seed. After watering and fertilizing the farmer always waits to enjoy the benefits of his or her labors. The same can be said for many parents who have loved and nurtured a child through the years only to experience heartache and frustration with what seems to be a rejection of those same values for a period of time.
Paul encourages us not to be weary and to keep praying and loving them. Many times
our good deeds on this earth go unnoticed, but God is waiting to reward us in heaven.
The key is to not give up! Even if we are discouraged, know that things will get better.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just
found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Sometimes when our plans don’t work out the way
we wanted, it brings us closer to where God wants us. And that’s really where we ultimately
want to be.
1. Who can you pray for that needs extra encouragement right now?
2. Thing of a time you were discouraged and how God brought you through that time. Praise Him and thank Him for that.
Prayer: Father, thank You for encouraging my spirit today through Your Word. Help me to not be disappointed when things don’t go as planned, but to know that You have everything under control. Thank you, Lord!
Tom Tillman is music and worship lead for Texas Baptists after serving in church music ministry. He earned a bachelor's degree in music at Wayland in 1988 and sang in the International Choir.
From the History Files
Early this month, Wayland's History Department and others across the campus will celebrate the centennial of the 1918 Armistice ending World War I. As a university, Wayland was 10 years old at the time, still ironing out the kinks in terms of class offerings and the academy roles, and still raising money to begin growing the fledgling university.
Wayland started the 1917 year with 302 students, but the American entry into the war and the influenza outbreak dwindled that number to 60 by the end of the school year. Wayland responded to the need in the area, adding summer school in 1917 for stenographers and typists in government service. The next year they added some military training for area servicemen, and the grounds were offered as a a military camp of sorts if Plainview managed to secure a squadron of the Panhandle Regiment of Cavalry.
By September 1918, Wayland was designated an A-1 college in military training service, and the enrollment began to boost back up with young men coming to prepare to serve. Dr. Wayland even performed the physicals. As it turned out, those enrollees helped save WBU during a tough financial time, and enrollment was back up to 309 by May 1919.
The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, just a month after Wayland's former president, Dr. R.E.L. Farmer, died in the influenza outbreak that struck many students but did not take any young lives. He had resigned his presidency in July 1918 to be a missionary for the Baptist convention. Many Wayland students attended his funeral.
Meet your Alumni Board
Jack DeForrest was on the final leg of his career journey with the U.S. Air Force when he enrolled at Wayland's San Antonio campus to pursue his bachelor's degree. In 2007, he earned a BSOE in management, gaining the confidence to move into a second career and to pursue a master's degree with Norwich University.
DeForrest started working with the San Antonio Northeast ISD transportation office as a bus driver, seeking a simple post-military job. Within a few years, he'd worked his way up to the executive director of the department that moves 20,000 students from home to school and back each day.
Now, he not only brings a deep love for his Wayland experience and the doors it opened for him, but he also serves as a recruiter of sorts for the university, encouraging others in similar positions to pursue their degree at his alma mater. Jack knows that Wayland's format of night classes and shorter terms are a great fit for working adults, and he's personally persuaded several friends and neighbors to become Pioneers.
As one of the newest members of the Alumni Executive Board, Jack hopes to help recruit alumni to engage with the university regardless of their life stage or residence.
"I love the opportunity to be involved in a leadership role with an institution that has served students for longer than 100 years and being a small part of helping keep the Wayland flame burning for the next 100 years," says Jack.
"Graduates are the beneficiaries of so many who came before. When each generation of alumni remains involved in any capacity -- whether by sharing their time, treasure or any other resource -- then Wayland's future will be assured for generations to follow."
Homecoming: Friends, family, fun
If you missed this year's homecoming weekend, you missed a great time celebrating the memories of the past, the successes of the present and the vision for the future. Our Golden Anniversary class of 1968 had a great time reminiscing at the luncheon and their afternoon reception, and Friday night's awards dinner was one for the ages. We honored Dr. Gary and Mrs. Janice Abercrombie as our Distinguished Alumni Benefactors, Miss Jessica Robinson as our Distinguished Young Alumni Award winner and Mr. Noe Valles, Mr. Randy Kaufman and Mr. Jared and Mrs. Carla Hardy as our Distinguished Alumni Award winners. Chief Greg Stevens of Lubbock was also named Alumnus of the Year. It was a great class of honorees and we had fun hearing their memories. We also had the honor of dedicating two new endowed scholarships from Dr. Glenda and Mr. Brad Payas, both benefiting math and sciences.
We also honored some great students with the Pioneers of Promise Award, enjoyed a panel discussion at chapel with Dr. Joe Jesko, behavioral healthcare consultant and 1968 graduate; Sarah Silva Wallace, an elementary assistant principal in Plainview and mom to two current WBU students; and Michelle Haage Barton, a 1999 graduate, a WBU Athletics Hall of Honor inductee and a multiple All-American thrower for the WBU track team. Throw in the International Choir reunion, the Hall of Honor Induction, the tailgate party and football game -- including a great win over Texas Wesleyan! -- and it was just a great time to be a Pioneer!
Want to relive all the fun in pictures? Here's an album you can peruse online or download to keep for your very own!
We're already making plans to make Homecoming 2019 even bigger and better for our alumni. If you're part of the classes of 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009, this is YOUR year! Plan to come, invite your friends to join you and we'll celebrate the Wayland family together!