My family’s origin is from Panama. As a child, I spent many summers and Christmas holidays with extended family. Those trips allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for my heritage. Afro-Latin culture was prominent in many aspects of my youth, including food, music, and holiday celebrations.
An Early Start
My maternal grandmother and parents migrated to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Both my grandmother and mother were creative and tactile women. Mom baked cakes, decorated, and created elaborate floral designs. Grandmother was a seamstress who also enjoyed upholstery and decorating our home with fabric and tapestries from Panama.
My grandmother also introduced me to fiber arts by teaching me how to crochet (we made Granny Squares) and needlepoint as a child. Next, I learned to use a small loom with loops of fabric. Using the loom, I made potholders and trivets as gifts for relatives.
What Knitting Did For Me
Shortly after 9/11, I developed a debilitating fear of flying. This created a challenge, as my job required me to frequently travel to various colleges and universities. Initially, my doctor prescribed a mild sedative that allowed me to relax slightly for the duration of the flight. I also started knitting around this time as well.
Over a few months, I noticed that through a combination of knitting and music (later knitting and audiobooks), sedatives were no longer needed. Now, my knitting projects are the first things to get packed into my carry-on whenever I travel. In fact, the airplane has become one of my favorite places to knit. I now treasure the peace and solitude of being in the air.
Knitting also helped me during the grieving process after losing my mother and grandmother. When I felt unsettled and unable to concentrate, knitting allowed me to mindlessly connect to the stitches. The soothing motion and rhythm of knitting would provide relaxation and allow my mind to once again focus.
My Knitting and Travel Experience
Crafting, especially knitting, allows me to give a bit of myself to the recipient. I often purchase supplies with the receiver in mind. As I knit, I meditate on the person, hoping to “weave” a bit of my positive energy into the finished project. It allows me the freedom of self-expression and self-care. I use crafting time as an opportunity to decompress from the stress and demands of the day. Crafting is the ability to create something almost magical with simple tools.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few fiber festivals in other parts of the world. A few of my favorites include the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in Scotland, the Barcelona Knit Festival in Spain, and the Unravel Festival in the United Kingdom.
A few of my favorite shops include:
- All You Knit is Love (Barcelona)
- Retrosaria (Lisbon)
- Tolt Yarn (Seattle)
- Lamb & Kid (Seattle)
- This is Knit (Dublin)
- Provisions Kenya (Nairobi)
- Loop Yarn (London)
- ImagniKnit (San Francisco)
- Fibre Space (Virginia)
- My local yarn shop, String Thing Studio (Brooklyn).
Connecting With Other Knitters
Through crafting, I have not only made memorable items but also incredible connections with some of my dearest fiber friends. In the next five years, I hope to continue my global travels, expanding my network of local yarn shops and making new fiber friends along the way. My bucket list places to see are Peru, Brazil, and Argentina. I’m excited to experience South American culture…
The biggest moment in my craft experience was traveling to Nairobi, Kenya. That trip was of special significance to me, as it was my first time visiting the Continent of Africa, which I have always wanted to do. This trip also combined many wonderful moments, including historical and cultural experiences, time on safari, and the opportunity to relax on the beach. A special highlight was visiting a local yarn shop, Provisions Kenya, in Nairobi. This was truly a bucket list experience for me. I will always treasure my time there.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Considering the many conversations regarding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Representation in the craft space, we have an opportunity to closely examine the community to identify areas where all dimensions of diversity are not properly included. This examination includes every fiber touchpoint from farm to fiber and magazines, festivals, and yarn shops.
Cecilia enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, family, and friends. She attends various fiber-related festivals, including Vogue Knitting Live, the NY Sheep and Wool festival, and Worldwide Knit in Public Day. In addition to knitting, she enjoys baking and decorating cookies, scrapbooking, cardmaking, and keeping a visually inspiring paper planner.
Follow her on Instagram @creativececi