A Portrait in Objects: Safiyyah Talley

Our heartiest congratulations to Safiyyah on the publication of her book, Knit 2 Socks in 1: Discover the Easy Magic of Turning One Long Sock into a Pair! that explores a second-sock-syndrome-busting method for knitting everyone’s favorite accessories. Today she takes us into her home for a look at the things that inspire and support her as a knitter and designer.

—Ann and Kay

Last year I replaced my work desk with a futon, and it literally changed my life. It reclines at the perfect angle for knitting and it’s way more comfy than my office chair! Usually during the week it is in a “couch” position where it becomes the prime location for filming the True Crime and Knit podcast, sponsored posts, or just anything really. And if I’ve had a particularly hard work day or mom day, or (shudder) both, it transforms into a comfy bed to hide in so that I can knit, design, or sketch in peace.

In high school, building my fashion portfolio to apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology, I needed an affordable knitted swatch to represent the fabric I wanted to use in a sweater dress design. So I went to Walmart and picked out this gorgeous deep forest green yarn along with some knitting needles. I went online for a tutorial (this was before YouTube, so all I found were a few grainy videos that looked like they were shot on a potato) and I sat up all night learning how to cast on.

When the portfolio was done and sent off, I had yarn left over, so I knitted it into an infinity scarf while watching a corny horror film. I didn’t have a pattern or a plan or anything really, I just felt deep in my being that I needed to knit. At this time in life, I was under a lot of stress. We were in the middle of a recession, I was being viciously bullied at school, and my home life was a wreck, but even now I still remember how freeing it felt to release all of that baggage into my knitting. Now that scarf is on display in my “yarn office” keeping my cardboard taxidermy antelope warm.

Though knitting is my dream job, sometimes I need a mental break. So in comes my harp. I bought my harp in the middle of the pandemic. It came as a DIY kit—just a heap of wood and cardboard that I spent a month painting and putting together. I’m still a beginner, but playing the harp helps my soul when I am tired or frustrated or uninspired.

I love to indulge in hot drinks, but because I have a toddler I have to use an ugly travel mug to prevent said drinks from being dumped on everyone and everything. So, as soon as I lay that child down for a nap, all of the breakable mugs come out! Many of these mugs have been part of my collection for years and survived many moves, and as a result have chips and cracks. But that just gives them character. And I keep these drinks super hot on my candle warmer that I use as a heated coaster. Best impulse buy ever!

I can hear you all now saying, “Safiyyah, it’s just a stylus!” But no, it is more than that! This overpriced stylus has changed the way that I do business. I use it to sketch out my designs, to draw out my ideas during online courses, to highlight key points in the cases that I research for the True Crime and Knit podcast, and for pretty much anything beyond that. I just used it as I’m typing this article to notarize a form for my son’s school. Being an artist, I prefer to use my hands over typing and my surface pen is a great compromise between tangible and digital art.

I literally cannot live without a good set of DPNs—and not only for socks—they are also my go to for knitting itty bitty baby sleeves on my son’s clothes.

I have ADHD, so for me to be productive, every day, I need to meticulously plan out my tasks. I love my dotted notebook because it allows me to not just organize my ideas, but to also neatly sketch them out. Whether these are ideas for my classes, patterns, or outlining a podcast script, my dotted notebook can handle it all. And once I have my ideas laid out, I can organize when to execute them using my planner. Usually, if you see me with my notebook, my planner won’t be too far and vice versa.

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