Hi, my name is Henya Kazatchkov.
I am an adventurous knitter, yarn lover and needle collector. My favorite craft is knitting and I knit a lot! I knit for the pleasure of knitting and wearing a well made garment. I knit for the pleasure of clothing my family in sweaters, hats and socks I made for them. I knit for the joy of giving gifts, made by me to my friends and even to strangers. I crochet and do Kumihimo beading for the same exact reasons. I enjoy my crafting, it keeps me sane (note, I do not go as far as normal), it keeps me loving, and it keeps me interested.
There is a strong stereotype that all Russians know how to knit literally from the cradle. Not me! I really started to play with yarn in United States after my GP suggested knitting as “cheap occupational therapy” for my arthritic hands. That shows you, he had no idea how much that hand-painted merino could cost.
I remember my very brilliant and not very patient Grandmother sitting me down, when I was about 3 years old. She was going to teach me how to crochet. I remember making a long chain. One hundred stitches. Herculean job for a frisky three year old. Frankly, at that point of my life, climbing trees was a lot more fun than pocking hook into yarn. My Grandmother was a very talented teacher and designer. She had hundreds of students. Clients, who wanted one of a kind couture dresses, were in and out of her small apartment. But stubborn uncoordinated three year olds were not her forte. Pretty soon we were both frustrated, tired and mutually unsatisfied. Thankfully, she was very wise and recognized that this was a struggle with no victory in sight. She stopped teaching me and I happily returned to my tree climbing.
Many years later, when I learned to crochet from books, I benefited tremendously from her experience and her talent. She was able to transfer to me a wonderful belief – that with time, thought and effort she could make anything she wanted. I, on the other hand, was able to introduce her to fine hand-painted wool and alpaca yarn. It gave me lots of pleasure to search out the yarn she would love. In her later years, after she became almost fully blind, it had to be a very light colored yarn, but as long as she could hold her hook she would crochet at least a row a day.
As it turned out, that while I like crocheting and pretty good at it (and even published some crochet patterns) my main passion is knitting. After reading through a library size load of books I found my Teacher. Elizabeth Zimmerman – EZ – has really shaped my knitting philosophy. I came to believe that, despite a popular opinion, most things that seemed impossible in knitting could really be accomplished with relative ease and some judicial forethought. But I was still a devotee of an American style of knitting. Using needles that were not too skinny, unless I knit socks. Giving the yarn most central place to play. Very soon I realized just how much fun it could be to design my own patterns. I started with some very simple patterns for hats and socks. Then I saw that sweaters were not so hard too!
What kind of knitter am I? I love shaping garments using short rows, increases and decreases and knitting in many different directions because good fitting garments are my goal. I love texture, cables and simpler lace patterns. Actually, I love complicated lace patterns too, but they would have to wait until I could get a few predictably kid-free hours a week. Color is difficult. I love color but also somewhat intimidated by it.
Because I refuse to be a serious person I love knitting jokes and have designed, published and knit beards (I have a crochet beard pattern too), crowns and boob-looking hats for babies. I love Folk knitting. I think that preserving patterns, knit by generations of knitters is very important and can be fascinating. My Amazing Siberian Slippers pattern is a result of extensive research and experimentation with a specific slipper, knit in a tiny village in Siberia.
A few years ago I began to discover a lot of very interesting knitting techniques unique to the Russian knitting. I started adopting some of them. Others are just too much for me – I am not ready to attempt a sweater size 3X (currently my size) on size 2 needles. Not that I am not adventurous enough. I simply value my sanity. Because of all of the above, what I would like to do with my knitting is to blend both American and Russian styles of knitting to be able to make garments that would fit well and be achievable for me at the same time.
I love writing and I love knitting, and writing about knitting is truly a wonderful thing to do. For many years I published a blog “Chicken Stitches” – a play on my name, Henya, which means “little chicken” in Yiddish. Then, for many reasons I stopped writing. When I made a decision to start blogging again, I realized that I have become a different person. Therefore, I needed a new name for my blog. I used to think that to “be good” I have to be perfect. But since perfection is not truly attainable this used to give me a lot of heartache. Not anymore. As I am pushing fifty, I look at myself and dare to give myself permission to be imperfect. I am grateful to G-d and my kids for understanding that imperfect can be good too. Life would be so boring without imperfections.
I was born in 1970, in Kiev, Ukraine, when it was still a part of bad old USSR. When I was 19 I came to the US. There I met my wonderful husband and we had our first seven kids, while living in New York. My two younger kids were born in Israel, where we moved in 2011. I am now a Mom to 9 kids ages 22 to 3 years old and Bubby to two grand-kids. We live in a truly glorious part of Northern Israel where something is always in bloom.