Learn about Recovery Café Membership

Member Spotlight: Carl

Carl never planned on knitting and crocheting becoming a part of his life. In fact, he almost didn’t take his neighbor up on joining the art class that led to him gaining these skills. The early art class offerings were not of interest: drawing and coloring, and working with beads. So he asked if there was anything else he could work on. The next day the teacher brought in knitting needles and yarn. “It was July 18, 2018,“ Carl remembers. “I don’t believe I’ve missed two days of touching yarn since that day five years and four months ago.”

Those who know Carl, who has been a Café Member since 2012, have seen plenty of evidence of his commitment to fiber arts: hats, blankets, dog sweaters, baby beanies, hoodies, shorts, even a knit toilet seat cover. He is perhaps best known for his coordinated short-sleeve hoodie and shorts sets. Carl gets requests for custom items from fellow Café Members and people he meets when he’s out and about. “A woman who works at Safeway asked me to knit her a  hat last week. She picked a nice shade of purple for her yarn. That’s good because I often use the same colors–black, white and red. I get to learn about new colors when I do projects for people.”

Knitting and crocheting is part of Carl’s routine when he’s at Recovery Café. He goes to a drop-in knitting class in the School for Recovery once a week and other times just finds a comfortable place to sit and focus on his latest project. It’s part of his life that is, as he puts it, “365 degrees different than it used to be.” Growing up in LA and living there until the late 90’s, Carl was involved with drugs and gangs and spent time in jails and prison. Moving to Seattle gave him a new start where he focused on his education, studying computers and eventually receiving a certificate in network administration.  

Looking back on it, Carl says it makes sense that knitting would come naturally to him. “When I worked with computers I liked putting the hardware together, working with my hands. Now I do that with knitting.”

There are two distinct moments that Carl points to when asked why he has stayed so committed to knitting and crocheting. The first, he says, happened before he even picked up a skein of yarn. “Teresa, who used to work at Recovery Café, said to me one day, ‘You got this.’ I don’t even remember exactly why she said it. But I remember feeling that she was encouraging me to do what I set out to do. I always remember that.”

The second moment came shortly after he discovered knitting and crocheting. He attended a class at the Café for beginning knitters and crocheters. “The teacher taught us how to crochet a circle. And she said, ‘if you can crochet a circle, you can crochet anything’.”

And while this advice serves him well, he says, “There’s a lot more to knitting and crocheting than making loops and circles.” That’s why Carl spends time studying online videos. “Ninety-nine percent of what I learned is from YouTube.” Like how to make the right size openings for paws in a dog’s sweater.

A recent benefit of knitting is that it’s helping Carl to quit smoking. “When I’m knitting, I could go for a four- or five-hour stretch. Stopping to smoke interrupts me.”

We are grateful that Carl is part of our Café community and that he shares his talents with us. We can’t wait to see what he creates next!