The Power of the Knit or Not

Knitting starts to lose its efficacy at preventing knifing when I fail to note my changes to a pattern that requires me to knit two of the same thing. I was sitting at Wednesday night dinner last night, working on sock #2 in order to distract me from the waiting/impatience/frustration/obsession/analysis paralysis of playing Power Grid with five other people. Everything was going swimmingly until I hit the heel, remembered I ignored the bizarre heel instructions on the first sock in favor of a gusset heel, and failed to write down the number of increases or decreases I did. Trying to count stitches on the first sock while figuring out how much money I have and what I can afford to buy in the game were not compatible activities. And the knitting that was supposed to take the edge off of the analysis paralysis that occurs in these complicated multiple hour games, made it worse. The sock was abandoned after several attempts to turn the heel resulted in copious tinking (k-n-i-t -> t-i-n-k).

Needless to say, I did not win the game. And I didn’t make nearly as much progress on the second sock as I had planned. Sadie for the cuteness factor. She gets curious when I pull out the camera.
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And also, I figured out the reason the first sock is a little difficult to put on. Not enough gusset increases, which is what I get for straying from the pattern on my second pair of socks ever. My rationalization for continuing on is that the socks are not for me. They are for a person with smaller feet than me and therefore smaller ankles for whom this number of gusset increases *should* be just fine. Right?
Halloween is on Saturday, which means that Christmas is very close by and the Christmas knitting I thought I had totally in hand may have gone off the rails a bit. How many socks can a newbie sock knitter knit in nearly two months? (Say that five times fast.) I have somewhere between 5 and 10 pairs in mind, anybody have a guess? Also, I don’t plan on knitting exclusively socks. It might not be a reasonable goal.
If you’re on my Christmas list and you don’t want socks, shout out now or forever hold your peas. Unless you have a yarn eating dog, and then your not getting socks, like ever. Because last year you got mitts, two pairs even, and your dogs ate them in 24 hours to a week. So no more small knitted items for you. Good thing you knit for yourself, or you live in the tropics because you’re never getting knitty things from me again! (Okay that’s a lie, you may get something knitty, but it will be something you wear above the waist because then maybe it will stay out of reach of your knit-eating hound.)

Quick and Dirty

  1. I finished traffic school.
  2. I have a piece of a second sock.
  3. Today is for (desperately) trying to get a hair cut, meeting with clients, possibly going to the grocery store, and praying I don’t get another headache.
  4. Having a headache for 48 hours is crazy making. I lost my shit both Monday and Tuesday night and I can only blame the headache which lowered my patience in a very severe way. Last night my head hurt so bad and had hurt for so long that I burst into tears when E wanted to go to sleep instead of continuing to rub my head. I was definitely unreasonable. Mercifully, I woke up this morning headache free.
  5. Some solid knitting should get done today. Although, at this point, that’s still just a sock and the shawl. Once I finish the socks I might have something more interesting to share…or maybe more socks.

The shame of a headache

I’m fairly certain I promised coherence today, but I make no guarantees. I am still battling this headache (or another one) and just like yesterday, this day has gotten away from me. I keep picking up the computer to write this post and then getting distracted by something. I picked it up this morning and then realized I needed to do my day job. So I did that for a while and then came to a stopping point and started again, but then E came home for lunch. (No complaints here! He brought home taco Tuesday from his office cafe and I love eating lunch with him.)

So, here I am, after noon and I still haven’t posted today’s blog.

Headaches are on of those things that as a person with mental illness, I both appreciate and am loathe to tell anyone about. Internally, they gave me a physical excuse for laying around. But headaches, like mental illness, are another thing that no one can see. They are a common side effect of mental health meds, lack of sleep, too much sleep, overeating, poor nutrition, etc. When my husband comes home from work and I am curled up on the couch with a blanket over my head, “I have a headache” feels just as shameful as “I’m sad”. Sometimes, the physical symptoms feel worse than the emotional ones, because they extend the amount of time that I’m curled up on the couch in misery without a wound to show for it.

Someday there will be a blood test or some other kind of test that will give everyone with a mental illness a piece of paper that gives physical evidence of their illness. It will be undeniable proof that mental illness does exist. That people suffer with it can’t just pull themselves up by their bootstraps or decide to be happy. And our society will have to take a hard look at the lack of support in this country for people with mental illness.

Because of the very late post yesterday, I have absolutely no knitting progress to show you. I still have one finished sock and some amount of the shawl done. I have a hard time knitting with a headache. I will endeavor to have something to show tomorrow. Although, I have a feeling we’re all going to be sick of that shawl by the time it’s done.

Now Defunct

This late post is sponsored by a wicked headache and traffic school, which isn’t finished but gets no more of my time today.

We were in Albuquerque again this weekend.

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I finally got to wear the shawl I finished for months ago (that took two years ish to complete). The wedding was lovely. Small and sweet and I was so grateful and blessed to be there.

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My pictures are horrible. So that’s all you get. Trust me, or was beautiful and so were the brides.

We had a very brief visit with this beautiful girl (and her parents).

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We had a lovely brunch with the Yarn Masons.

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These are most of the ladies of my mostly defunct knitting/crocheting/coloring group that used to meet on Wednesday nights. (I’m writing this post on my phone, and it keeps auto correcting knitting to knifing. Anybody who knits knows knitting prevents knifing.) I see them almost every time I’m in Albuquerque. I miss them!

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This is the now defunct Nestled in Color shawl I was so eager to start. The color work motif on the sides wasn’t working out due to the aforementioned and totally foreseeable yarn weight issue. It was just too much work and I love that fleece artist yarn too much to continue. So I frogged the whole thing (ripped it out) and started over with yarn of the same weight. image_22515328001_o

This is the same frog tree yarn from the first try, with Rowan baby merino in “sky”. You can see the motif so much better. It’s very satisfying.

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And this is my plain knitting for when I have a headache or can’t focus on what I’m doing. (Socks that are almost certainly way too big for the intended recipient…)

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This headache is kicking my butt and we have dinner plans this evening, so I’m going to go see if I can soak it away with a bath. Tomorrow, more substance, less pictures.

Where Credit is Due

I don’t complain much and almost always only to my husband/mother/sister/best friend. Sometimes I worry that this blog is self-indulgent whining. My goal has always been to speak out about mental illness, to break the silence and the stigma, and help anyone who might read it that is suffering and feels utterly alone.

But sometimes, what I have to say about this day in my life feels small, petty, downright stupid, and like complaining. I end up sensoring myself. But this defeats my purpose. It is the thoughts that feel small/petty/stupid/self-indulgent/complaining that most need to be shared. Because feeling that way about what you are thinking/feeling is what stops people from talking about their illness/pain/suffering.

Mental Illness is essentially a first world problem. Most of us have our food/housing/health/safety needs basically met. And this leaves room for a host of other challenges that wouldn’t be quite as significant if we were only worried about not getting blown up. Although, of course, there are a great number of people who are homeless, food insecure, or living in dangerous situations who also struggle with mental illness. It is good to remember from time to time that there are a great many people in the world that are struggling to secure their physical well-being. And it is poor form to compare anything to the difficulties of people in Syria for example.

However, the blessings that you or I may have do not diminish the challenge/struggle/danger/pain of mentall illness. And so this, recognizing that I am seriously blessed with general physical health, financial wealth, safe and secure housing, etc., is the place from which I share my experience with mental health.

Today, I am sitting on the back patio of my large, comfortable house, watching my silly dog run around in the grass, listening to music from Pandora, and typing this post on a relatively new and expensive laptop that is almost exclusively mine to use after sleeping until I felt like getting up. I am worried about what the dog is eating, which of the many things in my fridge we will have for dinner, the weeds growing in the rocks, the flies going in the open back door, the impending changes in our life, and the mass of laundry that needs to be washed and folded.

I don’t know what to do with my life. Every day I feel more and more that I am wasting my precious time. I don’t want to feel this way when I get to the end of it and look back. I am not passionate about much of anything. I started this blog up again so I would have something to show for the passing of time. I know all of the things I *should*/*could* do: keep an orderly house, volunteer for anything, get a full time job, go back to school, etc. None of those things appeal to me (especially the orderly house part). I am in the unique and (extremely) self-indulgent position of not having to work outside the house. I run our business in a small number of hours a week and spend the rest of my time rumbling around the house (lately knitting and watching way too much TV).

I feel the largess of my lifestyle and I hate it. I regularly get the urge to sell all my stuff and go live in a tiny house (although that’s pretty self-indulgent too…but at least it leaves a small footprint on the planet).

When I was in college, I took the maximum load of classes and worked one or two jobs at the same time to support myself. At the end of a day where I had gone to work, gone to class, gone to a different work, gone to class, and done homework, it was incredibly satsifying to sit down over a meal with friends or watch TV in my pajamas in my teeny studio apartment. I had earned that rest.

Now, I don’t feel like I have earned any of the incredibly blessed life that I have. I am grateful and restless (I’m not sure that’s the right word) at the same time.

I am depressed, lacking energy and motivation, and anxious every day. My amazingly supportive husband gets up (at an ungodly hour) every day and goes to work to support us financially. And I wake up every morning struggling with the meaning and value of my life. This, I remind myself, is why my life is structured the way it is. I don’t work outside the house because doing so seriously exacerbates my anxiety, which is the same reason I don’t get involved in any other organizations. I don’t schedule meetings or appointments for first thing in the morning because I frequently have sleep disruptions that make mornings challenging. I purposely limit the demands on my time, because I don’t respond well to stress and requirements. I go where the wind takes me most days and these days, the wind only ever takes me to my couch.

But I am alive. I work for a (small) living. I do enough laundry to keep E and I in clean clothes and towels. The dishes don’t usually overflow the sink before getting done. The dogs are well cared for. And I bathe (almost) regularly. All in all, for me, that’s not so bad.

What can you give yourself credit for? Remind yourself of what you have accomplished today. If staying alive is all you can manage, then try to be grateful for that.

Dear Husband/Partner/Caretaker/Friend

Dear Husband/Partner/Caretaker/Friend,

Sometimes I find it difficult to talk to you. Not because you don’t listen or don’t want to hear, but because I know you won’t understand, because I don’t always know the words, because I’m afraid you’ll misunderstand and talking will feel even more hopeless than it did before. Sometimes when I talk to you, I want you to ask questions to try to understand better, so if you don’t, it feels like you don’t care. And sometimes I don’t want you to ask questions because when you do I feel even more stupid and crazy for not being able to explain myself than I did for feeling how I do in the first place. I know it’s an impossible task on your end. Knowing when to ask and when to just listen, knowing when to offer solutions and when to simply hold me while I cry. I want to explain. I want other people, especially you, to understand.
It makes me angry that I can’t explain. And I know that feels like I’m angry with you. But I’m not. I’m frustrated with my stunning lack of eloquence and inability to express how I feel and what I’m thinking. Hell, half the time, I seriously don’t know what I’m even thinking.
I will sit next to you, wanting to talk to you, forming the words in my head, wishing you could read my mind because I can’t summon the strength to say them out loud. I will start a sentence with the intention of telling you and divert it half way through. I will write you letters I will never give you.
Bear with me while I try to find the words. While I sort my thoughts and feelings. Please be ready to listen and try to understand.
I need new words and a large dose of courage. And we both need extraordinary patience.
Love,
Me
Every single stitch featured below has been knit at least two (twelve) times. The color work and double knitting comes with a steep (at least for me) learning curve. But I am determined. It’s going to be fantastic.
(Hey look! I’m outside! The heat has finally broken in Tucson and we’re in the 80s every day, 70s in the mornings. I can actually sit outside for a length of time without sweating or getting eaten by mosquitoes. Hoorah!)
To break up the intense focus I have to give the above project, I picked up this:
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Which is supposed to be this. But it turns out that this yarn/dpns/cables are even more finicky than the colorwork shawl/scarf thingy. I think it’s the large cables, they’re each worked over 16 stitches that make them very difficult to work. My hands hurt from one round of cabling. I’m not sure this hat is destined for completion. I love the yarn though. (I seem to have misplaced the ball band and I don’t remember anything about this yarn.) I’m seriously considering ripping it out and making a pair of socks instead.

All about this shawl

nestled scarf

Picture from @lotzakatz on Ravelry

I am thrilled, absolutely enthralled with this pattern (pictured above) and this yarn in brown and the fleece artist in foliage. It’s a double-sided, two-color shawl with all sorts of techniques I’ve never used before. I’m so excited!

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Clearly this is not evidenced by progress, but that is only because I didn’t finish the damn blanket until late yesterday and I had to shower, wrap a present, take care of the dogs, and get ready for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner where it would have appeared rude for me to at the table during dinner.

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Here’s the blanket (mostly) finished and unwashed, which *I hope* is why it’s not laying flat. We won’t discuss the fact that the yarn I used for the border was a different weight than the yarn I used for the rest of the blanket, which might mean that I totally screwed myself and this blanket will never lay flat…Also, there’s this:
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Also, I’m sick. I woke up yesterday with a little ache in my throat (mostly when I yawned, isn’t that weird?) Anna’s add the day progressed the ache for worse and I started to feel pretty blah. Enter energy suck and lack of desire to (gasp!) knit.
It is only my incredible excitement for this project that gave me the will to cast-on and once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. If going to bed at the same time as my husband wasn’t important to me (and also if I wasn’t under the weather) I think would have knit to the wee hours of the knit, I mean, night.
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Look how pretty! I can’t wait to start the color work for the snowflakes.
Yesterday when I was mooning over this yarn while in the 7th ring of blanket bind off hell, I realized that while I had taken a great deal of care to choose both the right color and right yardage of yarn for this project, I had somehow managed to forget that yarn weight is sort of important too. I pulled out the fleece artist and the frog tree yarn to check their gauge suggestions. The fleece artist is 26 stitches per 4 inches, the frog tree is 22 stitches per 4 inches. Either of these would work for this pattern, but the problem emerges when both are meant to be used at once for the same pattern. How will brioche rib turn out when knit ink two completely difference gauges? For now, I’m playing the denial game and hoping it will turn out just fine.  Stay tuned.