Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from David Babcock. You’ll love his inspiring story!
Yes, I’m that guy. I broke the Guinness World Record for “Longest Scarf Knit Whilst Running a Marathon” in 2013 by making a 12-foot long scarf during the Kansas City Marathon. Since that time, I have done a finger-knit scarf in a KC half marathon, a double-finger-knit scarf with words in the NYC marathon and I just crocheted a giant doily during this year’s KC marathon. I am planning on finger-crocheting flowers in the NYC marathon on November 1.
Very ridiculous and funny, but why do it? There are two answers:
1. I’m raising money to fight Alzheimer’s disease and support caregivers.
2. Because I can!
Professionally, I teach graphic design as a college professor and do freelance work, having been employed full-time as a designer. As an undergraduate student, I took as many classes as I could with a double major in painting and industrial design while taking extra classes in furniture and sculpture. I could call myself an artist or designer, but I prefer the title “maker.” When I have an idea, I make it happen using the materials and skills that express it best.
Images courtesy of Julie Babcock
Learning new skills keeps me feeling alive. I taught myself how to crochet from books and sources online to extend a hat that a student made for me. I quickly fell in love with crochet and amigurumi as a way to express character designs and make toys. The next year, I learned how to knit and I enjoy making hats and reasonably-sized scarves. I’ve dabbled in tatting and am considering learning felting, needlepoint and quilting. I don’t make distinctions between fine art and craft or draw boundaries around the “manly arts.”
Combining yarn crafting with running comes from my curiosity and creative impulse to try something new. Creativity is often not practical. For me, it was the question, “How can I find time to do two things that take a lot of time?” That lead me to experiment and fail until I figured it out. The answer is, “Yes, I can do this difficult and creative-crazy thing,” and so I do it. I have kept doing it because it serves a purpose to bring attention to the plight of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and to their loved ones.
I also keep running and crafting to inspire other people to tackle their own fears and the creative challenges they may have written off as too silly or impractical. It is hard to struggle with learning something new, and we often fear failure or other people seeing our failures. I hope that people will use my public silliness to conquer their own fears. I love my ugly knit hat failures that my kids don’t want to wear. I am a man and proud to publicly crochet a lacy doily. I can do this!
It is easier to buy something than to learn how to make it yourself. It is easier to stay in bed than to run a marathon on a cold morning. But it is better to see what you are made of and to see what you can make.