What It’s Like

Hello readers,

Many of you don’t know me personally, but I’m a guest author on Prince Street today. I’m Krista, Chris’s wife and partner. Chris has encouraged me to contribute to his blog, and I’m taking him up on his generous offer. I can actually remember way back to Prince Street’s first post. Thankfully he gave me some great ideas to write about – this post is ‘What it’s like". Our writing styles are very different, so you’re in for a treat!

I’ve been with Chris for 15 years. We have two very creative children who are encouraged to express themselves artistically as much as they can. Chris and I both have day jobs in IT, but we are both very passionate about our hobbies. Model railroading for him; knitting for me. He told me on our first date that he was a model railroader; quite honestly I didn’t know what to think. I had never met anyone that was into model trains. I really only thought of toy trains that went around the Christmas tree.

I’m a third generation knitter (at least, if not possibly fourth) but I didn’t start knitting until my late twenties. My mom is an amazing knitter, and I grew up watching my mom, her sister Ann, and their mother Dorothy knit. I started knitting at our public library, but it was a very rough start. This is where Chris comes in. I never thought of myself as a "creative person". I didn’t make things like Chris did ( he’s an amazing scratchbuilder!). I couldn’t sketch things on paper like he does, and forget about showing me a schematic or a set of blueprints to visualize something. Because of Chris’s involvement in the hobby, he was able to motivate me and encourage me when knitting a square seemed like a lost cause.Today I knit a variety of items with relative ease, blog about my knitting adventures, and teach knitting in the winter semester at City Centre Community School.

Until I started to call myself a knitter and really immerse myself in the craft, I didn’t really participate in Chris’s model train interest. I honestly didn’t think that I had anything to offer to the discussion, I thought it was going to be all technical jargon or hours watching train videos, and I don’t have a great attention span for any media over an hour (with the exception of BBC’s Sherlock). Once I started to take a mess of yarn and turn it into something useful, I started to understand more about the interest Chris has in model trains. How he could focus his time for hours creating the tiniest bricks and windows I have ever seen! And the frustration when something just doesn’t work out, even when you’ve given it your best effort.

I love to explore why people create. While I don’t usually understand a lot of the fine details about the model railroad projects that Chris works on, I love seeing the thought process when he’s creating. His commitment and contribution to the hobby for 30+ years is enviable; I certainly hope to be able to celebrate a 30 year knitting anniversary. Over the years, I’ve asked him questions and tried to learn more about the hobby that is such a fundamental part of him. We have amazing conversations about design as well as interesting points about teaching skills related to our respective hobbies. Something we talk about a lot is layout design. I like to talk with Chris about layouts and the user experience – both the creator’s experience and the operator’s experience. I’m a very outgoing person, and I enjoy knitting and creating in a group setting. For as long as I remember, Chris has been attending operating and building sessions locally and in neighbouring provinces. I understand how much he enjoys these events, and I try to make it a priority to not encroach on that time.

On our travels, I encourage Chris to seek out opportunities to see railyards or other interesting locations related to railroading. I find myself keeping an eye out the car window to see if there is a lit signal or something working in a yard or coming down a line. Even my family who are hardcore thrifters and yard sale visitors love to find PEIR or CN treasures for Chris. Myself, I’m always on the lookout for GO transit merch for him. I’ve never had the chance to go on a train, but I hope we get to take a family trip to Montreal via train to see our oldest daughter. Our youngest likes to go to operating sessions and train shows with her dad … something I have yet to do.

One of the things that I appreciate about Chris is his patience when I ask questions that may seem trivial or "stupid". He is always happy to explain to me anything I ask. I still struggle with the different gauges! I’m very fortunate to have a partner who involves me in such an important part of his being. Apparently I inspire some of his work, and he learns about the hobby from me. I know, I’m not sure how either! Maybe by teaching he’s learning?

Both of us proudly display our work and work-in-progress in the living areas of our house. We have a cozy little house downtown with a layout-in-progress in our dining room and a knitting emporium in the living room. I believe that our hobbies are such an important part of us that it would look strange if they were not visible in the house. Our visitors thankfully never bat an eye when they come over and see our projects in various states of completion.

Thanks for taking the time to read my guest post. More to come!

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7 comments

  1. Very nice post Krista. The amazing part of the internet is that many of us who read this probably don’t know Chris any more than we know you (like me, other than having read his blog!). It’s nice to see how his hobby has helped you with yours, and clearly brought you together if you’re crazy enough to be looking out for trains on your travels.

    There are many parallels in yours/Chris’ story to my wife and our relationship and her learning about trains. I’m convinced she thought I was bonkers for the first two years we dated until our first trip to the U.K. together in 2011, we were over to go to the Severn Valley Railway fall gala and then go to Scotland and see family. We were on the first train south from Bridgnorth on the Friday morning (behind new build steam loco Tornado). A few minutes into the journey, we came into a clearing where there was a lineup of a hundred photographers in the field. She turned to me and said “you’re not so crazy after all”.

    She’s fully amazed that I have the patience to come home from work and build tiny fiddly little trains! But, I’m amazed by her hobby, I still haven’t figured out how every time I wash the kitchen aid stand mixer, some ridiculously tasty baked good appears :p

    All the best in your knitting!

    Cheers,

    Stephen

  2. Hi Krista, good to “hear” your voice here. Chris has always spoken highly of you and I can see why.

    I think partners of hobbyists don’t need to share the same hobby. They just need to accept it as “something they do”, without any eye-rolling or dismissive snorts.

    It sounds like you both have your things you do, and you accept and support each other. I think it’s great that you serve as a sounding board for Chris.

    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts!

  3. Good first, and hopefully not last, post Krista! I sometimes needle my wife about her knitting and crafting, which sometimes keeps me in stitches. Of course I’ve pulled the wool over her eyes when it comes to just how much train stuff I’ve smuggled into the house.

    Oh, and my favourite part about knitting? It’s kinda nautical. Yelling ‘Cast off!’ even and especially when it’s not called for.

    Eric (Karen is here, too)

  4. I can’t wait to see where these posts go and what they touch on. I hope that this is only the first of many and I know Prince Street is all that much better, like every other aspect of my life, when there’s more Krista. This I believe without question to be a truth.

    The typical model train magazine :”layout of the month” article always seems to include some brief biographical sketch that tells us about the modeler. Always including this sentence or one like it: “…is married to ___ and she supports his hobbies.” I don’t want to ruin these posts by listing all the reasons “Why?” but I do want to challenge that “support” paragraph and do so by example. When I’d read those words in the magazine, I’d always picture some patient partner telling the modeler that it was okay if he wanted to go play with his trains. It felt patronizing to read and I know we can do better than that.

    Model railroading is a lot of why I am the way I am. It’s not the only thing nor should it be but it’s one major part of who I am and “support” recognizes that and the agency this work provides to me. It is a good thing. It provides me a voice and means to practice expressing myself. It reminds me that I am creative and capable when other aspects of my life leave me feeling less than that.

    Chris

  5. Hi Krista,

    Good to read your post. If you sock it to us more, maybe Chris will have time to finish his layout?

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