Knitting Stories: Cristina MurrayMarianne Henio
I met Cristina Murray on Facebook at the beginning of this year when she invited me to join Tracy Basten’s Machine Knitting group having bought my Spring Collection pattern book. I was thrilled to join the group and we have been friends ever since. Cristina is a relatively new, but very talented knitter with an excellent sense of humour, and I knew her story would be fascinating and appealing. So thank you Cristina.
Cristina was born in Romania, moved to Italy after she met her software engineer husband, and now lives in Germany in a small town in Bavaria. Her hubby works as a contractor for the US Army so, as you can imagine, his job involves plenty of moving around. They now have four children, and two grandchildren – soon to be three! Their three oldest kids still live in Italy, but the little one, who is now 23, and just finished school, has recently got a job in Germany and has flown the nest to begin life as an adult.
Cristina Murray grew up in a small mountain village in central Transylvania, Romania. As well as Italy and Germany, she has also lived in Estonia. She says: “Our family has always traveled a lot. My husband and I learned early on that we both love being in a place we’ve never been, stumbling through an unknown language, eating food we’ve never tasted, and chatting up folks we’ve never met. Our children grew up in the midst of our wanderlust and as a consequence, they all have the travel bug too. This is something that pleases me immensely.”
When Cristina and her husband first arrived in Germany in 2008, they only planned to stay for around two years before heading off on another adventure. But at the end of their two year ‘beer and wurst extravaganza’, as Cristina puts it, their baby (the 23 year old) announced that he wanted to make Germany his home. So they decided to extend their stay until he finished his schooling and they could be sure he could stand on his own. They plan on sticking around for another year or so before moving on to the Gulf Coast of Florida where they own a home. Wonderful!
There are no language ‘barriers’ for Cristina. She explains: “I wouldn’t characterize them as barriers, exactly. That would imply that not speaking the language makes it difficult and unpleasant to understand or be understood. Using hand gestures, animal sounds and charades I always make myself understood, and can usually get the other party involved in these theatrics too!”
Self taught in Italian at the age of 12-13, Cristina also speaks English and Romanian. She says: “I love Italian music and wanted to be able to understand the lyrics. I never studied English formally, but circumstances ‘pushed’ me into it by being married to and living with an American. I catch it by listening, and practicing with my dogs. So, if while I speak to you it seems like I’m trying to establish myself as the Alpha member of the group, this is why. In our house we speak 3 languages; Italian, English and Romanian. When it’s just me and my Hubby, we normally speak Italian. If there are no kids around, and you hear Romanian, one of the dogs probably peed on the carpet and is being yelled at!”
I knew Cristina had only recently self taught herself how to knit as well. She explains: “Well, when we left Italy for Estonia in the summer of 2006, I found myself alone in the house all day with nothing to do, so I taught myself hand knitting with YouTube lessons. I caught the bug, and my yarn acquisitions grew faster than a junkies stash after winning the lottery. By the time we got to Germany two years later, I realised I had way more yarn than I could possibly knit during this life. I opened my own business; an online arts and crafts supply store. Not long after that, I began dying my own yarn and started my Facebook page at Yarn with Love – Hand Dyed Yarn. I wanted to knit blankets and dye them by hand, but discovered this to be too slow and time consuming. So, in April 2014 I bought a knitting machine to speed things up a bit. I knitted my first blanket, and was hooked.”
Cristina currently uses a Brother 950 but has several other machines sleeping nicely in their boxes. She says that her goal is to learn how to use the ‘Cadillac of knitting machines: Passap’! She loves everything about knitting and tells us: “It’s a continuous challenge for me, every day I discover new things. What fascinates me even more are the endless possibilities to explore and learn. I generally get bored easily, but not while machine knitting.”
At present Cristina is busy sorting out their new home, having moved again two weeks ago. Her crafting room has taken precedence in the biggest room in the house – and her amazing husband agreed to this, helping with building shelves and brackets on which to hang unused machines, and organizing gadgets, tools and assorted ‘doodads’. What a man!
Looking at the great photos of Cristina’s new crafting room, one would think she was the most organised of us all. But, she explains: “I’m not a very organised person. Just ask my husband. All he needs is the slightest opportunity, and he’ll whine about how tired he is of seeing my stuff all over the house. When we moved, he begged me to try to keep all my stuff in just ONE place. (The ‘one place’ condition is what prompted him to go with turning the master bedroom into my craft room.) I try hard to comply, but like a recovering junky, I slip up sometimes.” We understand Cristina!
Cristina recommends: “To keep stuff organized and to free up floor space, use of wall space is essential. I hang or shelve anything not being used in order to keep the floor clean and easy to move around on.”
With a passion for everything knitted, Cristina says: “I would love to develop a business related to machine knitting. I have some experience with online sales, so perhaps a marriage of those two skills would be up my alley. But, for the moment, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about machine knitting and designing while we’re still here in Germany. My intention is to open a business when we get to Florida.”
We all know Cristina Murray from Tracy Basten’s great Facebook group Machine Knitting. Yarn with Love – Hand Dyed Yarn came to life after Cristina started dying yarn and wanted a promotional tool. She says: “Twitter is a big No for me. I really dislike the idea that I’m limited to just a few characters when I want to describe something related to machine knitting. Such an exciting activity should have no limits imposed on its practitioners’ ability to communicate with one another.”
Although I use Twitter myself, I agree with Cristina’s desire to share what she finds fascinating about our field of creativity. Both hand and machine knitting are a huge part of my life, as they are with Cristina’s, and I love the idea of writing about, and sharing with you, some of our own personal journeys and knitting stories too.
I invite you to subscribe to the Modern Knitting Patterns Newsletter below and hear more knitting stories, as well as plenty more information about what we all love to do. Create! And if you would like to share your story, please feel free to get in touch with me on the Contact form below.
Warmest woolly wishes,