Lessons Learned From the Knitting Dad

This feature has certainly been an interesting little journey – largely due to the initial challenges and people’s reactions when you pull out your ball of wool and knitting sticks. I have to admit, I didn’t realise how demoralising dropping stitches would be and how awkward I would feel starting out. But it was completely worth it as it has led to a new skill acquisition that means I can actually make something from scratch for the little one, and in the process entertain my friends and family.



So after championing Sayed’s Black Box thinking concept and identifying the need to re-frame failure as a natural part of the learning process, I managed to master the basics of knitting and started seeing progress.



What I have learnt from my knitting experience so far:

As a beginner, start with a scarf! I trusted the lady behind the counter who convinced me to take a pattern that only the Da Vinci code could crack. A scarf allows you to practice the techniques and find your rhythm without the added pressure of shapes and multiple castings.



This leads onto the next lesson regarding the size of your knitting sticks and yarn. I started with thin sticks (because they were free). This became quite technical and fiddly for this first-timer and I’ll be investing in larger needles for my next project. Consideration also needs to be given to how firmly you pull the yarn after each stitch. I went all in with the pull which gave me a tight weave but made it difficult to manoeuvre my needles. This contributes to the technicality of the piece.

This became a little technical because of the size and tension of the weaves.

Be prepared to implement effective coping strategies when you drop stitches – I used tactical breathing.


Take your time and don’t be shy about mastering the ‘basic’ stitches: the knit and the pearl. These two stitches can really add flair to your piece and make you look like a knitting pro.

You may have some ethical dilemmas along the way. A 91 year old women convinced me she was a knitting Grand Master and she’d knock out a couple of lines for me. At the time, she was recovering from a stroke and her motor skills weren’t necessarily at their peak, so I had to watch while the dropped stitch count went into double figures. It was knitting carnage. Lesson: don’t let anyone do your knitting!

The most interesting aspect of the journey was the perception of knitting and who does it. I expected people to be amused at my knitting prowess, particularly when I got my knitting sticks out in public (I don’t think that’s a knitting term, but I feel it should be), but I didn’t expect the amount of blokes who later admitted to me that they knit, like it was somewhat embarrassing.

You can take your knitting anywhere

So although the intention of this challenge was to gain a new Dad Skill, and knitting was chosen because of the sustainable aspect, I hope my little one gets to see this as a natural learning process. Despite the social perception or attitudes, be confident and do not let this influence you doing your thing!

This chap is dancing to the beat of his own drum and demonstrating the volume of work required to be a master. Although I’m comfortable with my current skills, further exposure and practice will be required to attain this Grand Master status.

We need to be comfortable being uncomfortable if we are to truly grow – JP Sears

What’s next? Well, further investment is going into my podcasts and….. Homemade soap?



Being Grateful

There have been a few tasty curve balls thrown at the family during the last few weeks; work, family health set-backs and unexpected property maintenance issues. This is in addition to the normal daily expectations. Although this has been a challenging period, I feel there still needs to be perspective in light of recent tragic events in Florida. This tragedy has convinced me to adjust this blog edition, and to review the past few weeks and actually reflect on the moments that I’m grateful for.

So here goes:

I’m grateful for the chance to be Daddy Day Care and share some special moments with my little one.


I’m grateful that our society has progressed to support families by offering flexible working practices.

I’m grateful to be in the position to help my in-laws through a challenging patch.


I’m grateful for the great experience I had completing Team Adventure Coastal Challenge with my friends.


I’m grateful that the best gourmet pasty chef works within walking distance of my house @theKitchendoor.


I’m grateful for my wife, who is always optimistic and content regardless of the situation.

Also, what have I learnt?

Daddy Day Care is the best role ever! Although, there’s value in having contingencies. I may have to adjust my pre-baby ‘it’ll be right’ approach as this has back fired a couple of times.

I’ve also learnt that once you get the hang of it, knitting is pretty addictive and a great conversation starter.


Watch this space for my ‘how to knit for beginners’ video and for the Knitting Movement wrap up.

Finally, I listened to Lewis Howes’ interpretation of how we measure masculinity. Ideally, I would have liked to have discussed this further and consider how his 9 Masks of Masculinity theory relates to my experiences of being a professional sportsman. We’ll explore this further at a later stage but in the interim, I’ve attached a link to his take on measuring masculinity and will let you consider how you measure it.

So, what’s the next Dad Skill on the agenda?

My attention will be turning to my next challenge and……podcasting could be it!

Fulfilment comes from gratitude.
Be thankful for everything that happens in your life; it’s all an experience.  Lewis Howes.

Make a Thousand Prototypes Son – Reframing Failure.

For the Functional Dad spectator, this week’s main feature has been focussed on my knitting prowess.

This was taken after a hearty painting session.

Although my knitting mastery has been particularly eventful, one of my biggest achievements this week was finally finishing my book – Black Box Thinking by Matthew Sayed (it’s been a long time coming).

What I find most interesting is that we still seem to be discussing the importance of embracing failure and learning from our mistakes?? I assumed this was a widely accepted and practiced concept since it was championed by Carol Dweck’s Growth Mind-Set theory. Particularly when you consider the number of motivational quotes that get showcased about the topic.

“We win, or we learn” Connor McGregor

I was discussing this concept with some friends (who are considered high performers within their field) and interestingly, one friend admitted he was hesitating over a new job opportunity because of the fear of failure and how it would be viewed if it didn’t work out.

So, being judged from others was essentially preventing him getting his dream job.

Sayed suggests people learn to view failure as shameful or something to avoid, a learned mind-set which ultimately limits people reaching their full potential – demonstrated by my friend.

Like most Dads this is concerning, because we want our kids growing up curious, adventurous, innovative and fearless. So how do we reframe failure, so they don’t feel judged?

Well, this is my interpretation and approach based on the Black Box Thinking model

   Make a Thousand Prototypes Son – This means – do it, gain feedback,  learn, readjust and move on.

Like Sayed states, the most successful people have gone through thousands of tests, set-backs and challenges but have managed to persevere and succeed, because they acknowledged the importance of gaining feedback, readjusting and going again. Alternatively, people wait for the perfect moment or doubt themselves, and meanwhile they coast through life missing valuable opportunities.

As Dads, we need to reframe failure to be considered a natural process in the pursuit for success, happiness or whatever the desired end state is and look to create an environment that our kids feel safe to fail in.

I’ve attached a copy from Tim Ferriss which may help us practice this.


And in addition, if you haven’t heard about Carol Dweck’s Champion Mind-set theory, I think it’s worth watching as it discusses methods to promote a growth mind-set.

A final quote:

How do I make better decisions? With experience,
How do I get experience? By making bad decisions.


Top of my podcast playlist for this week is Lewis Howes from the Greatness Academy. Lewis discusses the 9 Masks of Masculinity that we (men) wear throughout our lives. These masks ultimately prevent us from being our true selves. He believes that identifying these masks will allow us to become more approachable and loveable.

The Knitting Movement


Considering my last blog; it was timely that a recent article in the NZ Herald suggested that new parents were more likely to have a negative impact on environmentally sustainable behaviour.

It’s difficult to comprehend this statement when surely, as parents we are so invested in our kid’s welfare? Yet it appears we are able to dismiss the value of protecting the environment for short-term benefits. I previously discussed how the continual battle between time and convenience always seems to linger, and the response to this dilemma ultimately shapes our daily behaviours. Maybe this could explain why we can overlook the consequences.

Busy Father Looking After Son Whilst Doing Household Chores

One suggestion from the article was to consider our positive legacy and actually visualise how we want to leave the environment for our kids. I’m sure our kids would thank us for it.

So, after a lot of research into sustainable practices, my new Functional Dad skill is going to be…. how to knit.

Why? A number of reasons:

1. I’m a big fan of knitwear, big fan.

2. The gesture; it’s so easy to make quick and cheap purchases with little thought. I’m suggesting that investing in a gift with time and effort is more likely to be appreciated by the recipient.


3. Maybe dispel some myths about who knits.

4. Arguably the most important point, reducing child labour. The stats regarding our throw-away culture and the manner on which we source our textiles is tough to read. It was reported by the World Counts that there were still over 150million children labourers clocking up 313,630,000 hours of child labour. Some of these hours would have been attributed to sweatshops making cheap clothes in poor working conditions for little or no reparation.

5. Additionally, in the US alone 15 million tons of textiles go to waste annually, with only 15 % of consumers recycling their textiles. This is despite most textiles being recyclable. It is important to note that synthetic clothing may take hundreds of years to decompose which strengthens the argument of using natural fibres. The final stat, if the average life of clothing was extended by three months, it could reduce our carbon and water footprint by up to 10%.

I am going to learn how to knit using 100% NZ Merino Wool.



Watch this space for a perfect demonstration…

Make it, Fix it, Re-use it, Re-cycle it.

It was an interesting experience leading up to the birth of our little one. We received loads of advice preparing us for the changes and sacrifices we would need to make. In particular, this advice focussed on the habits we had adopted as DINKS (double income no kids), which was epitomised by my favourite hipster habit – Sunday Brunch (avocado on toast, anyone?). “That’ll be the first to go” they said.


There have certainly been changes, but I consider them necessary adjustments and part of the journey to become an all round Functional Dad. These are the main ones I’ve noticed so far:

• TIME disappears. I hate to admit it, but they were right. I’ll glance up at the clock and it’s 10pm and I am constantly wondering where time has gone. But I have noticed there are still windows of opportunity to get stuff done. It’s here that lies the dilemma. What do you do in these moments; make dinner, clean, paperwork, sleep, train, eat? Especially when taking into account the day the Mama has had??


• Battling the urge to embrace CONVENIENCE. This particularly applies when it comes to accumulating waste through nappies, wipes, clothes, food and toys. It feels like a lot of effort and time to deal with reusable nappies and to make meals from scratch. We seem to use a lot more plastic and single-use products than before. Additionally, these products are often from areas that employ debatable ethical practices.

I acknowledge that as parents we are learning and compromises are a natural part of the journey, but it’s tough when trying to allow sustainable practices to guide your lifestyle. This seems even more relevant and important when I consider how our actions now shape what the world will look like for my little one.


So I’m setting myself a challenge: to explore realistic, ethical and sustainable practices. These may only be small adjustments but I’m confident they will contribute to the bigger picture. The philosophy will be either make it, fix it, re-use it or recycle it.

What’s first up?



The Functional Dad

This is the post excerpt.

I am a new Dad and I need to be responsible, stable and able to guide my children through ethical decisions… But what does that look like?

I am aware of the need to adjust to this new role given the new responsibility, and although I am incredibly excited, I am suddenly aware of the challenges facing everyone in this modern digital age. I want to be in the best position to nurture my kids and allow them to grow into strong, resilient and happy people.

The intention of the Functional Dad is to learn new Dad skills from experts, mentors or friends and family, and share these experiences with everyone to become an all round Functional Dad.