Annual Freaky Time, plus knitting & spinning


Why, hello there.

Tim on sofa

Tim bids you hello from his favourite spot on the sofa. He loves the ticking of the clock, and is forever in search of the small bug he is quite certain is around there somewhere…

Yes, I dropped off the blog for a while. It’s been a long, weird winter here; as I type this, we are expecting freezing rain or hail or sleet or fire and brimstone tomorrow (depending on the interpretation of your weatherperson). And for whatever reason, this winter a lot of stressly stuff just hit me smack on the forehead, with an understandable result: Depression.

Raise your hand if you get to experience the exhausting, oh-so-amusing hall-of-mirrors ride that is Depression, with a sidecar of Anxiety, just to spice things up a little. Oh, look. There’s a bunch of you out there who are on this ride with me, or know someone who is. At least we are not alone…

I’ve got a few tips for dealing with this thrill ride. (There’s going to be knitting soon, I promise, just hang on for a moment, or skip ahead if you like.)

– Admit it to yourself. Say it out loud to you-in-the-mirror. Apparently, some study was done that showed that just by naming the demon, the level of depression lifted…a wee bit, but I’ll take what I can get.

– Tell trusted ones around you what is going on. You don’t have to be the Doom and Gloom Monster, nor the one heavily sighing in the background. You don’t have to go into details. But think about it: Depression is an illness, often a chemical imbalance in your grey matter. When someone you know seems like they are in pain or sick, don’t you ask them how they are doing? And don’t they usually respond with a brief “Oh, I have bad arthritis in my hands, and they’re just really swollen today.”? This is completely normal levels of caring conversation, so the next time someone asks you if you are all right, try saying, “Oh, I’m struggling with depression lately, and it’s just particularly bad today.”

You’d be AMAZED at the conversations that can come out of saying something like that. Not with everyone, not in every context, but with friends and people close around you, you’d be amazed at the compassion that can flow from just admitting what’s REALLY going on.

– Read blogs/books by folks who are suffering, and are either extremely good at striking just the right note of comedy about their struggles (Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, who deals with anxiety as well as depression), or whose honesty and clarity is inspiring and uplifting (Lisa B. Adams, who has stage 4 breast cancer and faces grief and loss openly and head-on and does so with a grace and beauty that astounds me).

– Do the doctor visit thang, and the therapist thang. If you suspect it the long winter making things worse, get a SAD light.

– Find a way to make some space in your life to contemplate joy and have a little space of kindness for yourself. Be compassionate to YOU. This is hard, and it sucks, and you’re strong, and if you can manage to get out of bed in the morning, dress in pseudo-matching tones, and get the coffee-maker going, you SCORE.

Besides all the above, I’ve been trying to cope in various creative ways. I started doing volunteer work at my church, I joined a few groups (book club, choir) and I even started a group on my own that is going surprisingly well. We call it “Craft and Chat”, only because it’s through my church and you really, really can’t put “Stitch-N-Bitch” in the parish bulletin next to the Sunday ham dinner.

margaret wilson 2

I started a craft group at church! It’s been a great success. Here, Margaret shows me that she brought plenty of yarn to knit her scarf.

I also went at my unfinished projects list with a vengeance. I felt that by finishing things, I would get that nice sense of accomplishment that we knitters get every time we bind off and weave in those pesky ends.

Thus: Knitting

Oh, look! A hat:

Zelda hat

No, really. It IS a hat. It’s a little eye-searing, granted, but the young lady whose head it shall grace is quite fond of neon colours. I had the yarn dyed up for me by Lorajean Kelley, proprietor of the Etsy shop KnittedWit. I love the super-bright colours, and I suspect the future wearer of the hat will, too. Plus, I only had to don sunglasses for the last few inches of the pink, so all in all, a fun project. (The pattern is a Sandi Pattern Not Written Down Yet, in case you’re curious. If anyone wants me to write it up, let me know.)

Neon Girl has a brother and two parents. I wanted to make a hat for each family member, and so Neon Girl’s hat is the third of four hats to be finished.

Dad-of-Neon-Girl’s hat:

Habitat Hat 1

Pattern: Habitat by Jared Flood, slightly modified with a second vertical pattern repeat adapted for my own tastes. GREAT PATTERN. The top of it is so pretty:

Habitat Hat top

Wow, not the clearest picture, sorry. It’s a  lovely flower  cool starfish design.

The yarn is my own hand blended, handspun wool/silk tweed, 3-ply, heavy DK to worsted weight yarn that I drumcarded and spun. I have at least one skein, maybe nearly two, left over, and that is for ME.

Finally, Mum-of-Neon-Girl’s hat:

Tam 1

The colour above bears no relationship to the Actual Colour. Let’s try this:

Tam slice 2

MUCH better.

Pattern: Mica Tam by Laura Nelkin.

Yarn is alpaca/silk by Dicentra Designs.

And last but not least, my sweater-in-progress:

Hiro sleeve cuff

Pattern: Hiro by Julia Farwell-Clay. However, please note that per as usual, I’ve modified the colourwork on the cuff. The original has only two colours; I wanted three. So I worked the chart once with purple (CC1) and green (MC), and then once again with green (CC1) and grey (MC).

Yarn: Again, this is the wonderful work of Lorajean of KnittedWit.

The body is in grey, and is already knit up to the armholes. The lower body to the waist is knit according to the size 48″ instructions; the sleeves and waist to yoke to collar will be knit according to the 45″ instructions, because I’m bigger on the bottomside.

Spinning

I must have at least five spinning projects going on. In no particular order:

Diane singles pol silk

Above: Singles on my Sidekick. Fluff is polwarth/silk by Diane Palme of Schafenfreude Fibres. I want every single fibre Diane dyes. She has awesome blends and sophisticated colourways that beg to be spun.

plying ball Ruth yarn

Above: Plying ball for 2-ply fingering yarn. Fluff is BFL from Jennifer VanCalCar of Holiday Yarns mixed with some Chasing Rainbows silk. Jen’s BFL is a dream for blending and spinning; it has a loft and richness of colour that make me just hand over my wallet every time I’m in her booth. (Chasing Rainbows needs no introduction, I trust. If you need an introduction, here: Go buy some of her silk. Lovely, lovely.)

Below: Just a taste of the 2-ply yarn-to-be.

2ply Ruth yarn 

Off To See The Wizard

As I write this, I am preparing for my annual teaching jaunt at the Yarn Cupboard’s Winter Retreat. I went back and read my post from the week prior to last year’s teaching gig, and I could literally cut-and-paste, because I am now experiencing the Exact Same FreakOut Feelings as I did last year.

At least I am consistent.

This year, I’ll be teaching my tiara class, a class on finishing sweaters, and a class on creating your own true-to-you schematic that you can use to customize almost any sweater pattern so that it really fits you. There will be vendors, other teachers teaching fabulous things…if you are going to be near Syracuse, NY, from April 19-21, check out the website and come and join us!

Chispas

Even in medieval times, cats walked all over us.

Because it’s snowing here on April 11: Oat and Maple Syrup Scones. MMMMmmmm.

Cute, capering baby donkey.

Kitten meets hedgehog.

In view of this article, I am going to attend the Orangeville Alpaca Show on Saturday with a few of my Kitchener-Waterloo peeps.

‘Til next time, me hearties.

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About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Almost 2-yr-old kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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18 Responses to Annual Freaky Time, plus knitting & spinning

  1. Carol Ann Burden says:

    So glad to hear from you again, Sandi, I have been concerned about you. I’m glad to hear you have found some ways to get the gremlins to retreat. Terrible winter for anyone to be cheerful! I’m glad you have found fellow travelers on the road and others who are there to lift you up and support you. The church group sounds great, I belong to one that is inhabited by the oldest, the youngest and many of us middle aged types and it is more fun … so interesting to become involved in other peoples’ journeys! Stay well, someday we will all be able to take off six layers of clothing and literally smell the roses!

  2. Tamara says:

    The picture of your friend at church and her yarn ball is hilarious! And the kitten and hedgehog make me want to get a kitten…. Please, someone, talk me out of it!

    I like the notion of just saying “I’ve been struggling with depression lately and today I’m feeling particularly down”. I have found for myself, as you have Sandi, that when we are open and vulnerable, it opens up the world.

    A link to Brene Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame–they’ve gone viral, and are so wonderful:

    It WILL be spring soon–so they say! 🙂

  3. Gina says:

    Had just come across you on Twitter and followed..so glad, as it led to your blog post which I really enjoyed and found helpful. Thanks for the straight talk on depression – I appreciate the links you’ve put there; will be sure to check them out.
    Have fun at the retreat!!
    Gina

  4. Mary h says:

    It was so good to hear from you again–we missed you. Sorry that you’ve been going through a bad time–it sounds like you’ve been doing some good things in dealing with it, and hopefully things will keep looking up. Loved seeing your knitted projects, and I’m going to have to order those cookbooks you mentioned and try those great looking Maple Syrup Oat scones! Warm regards!

  5. molly says:

    raising my hand here. it’s still snowing here in saskatchewan too….there’s been a lot of the white stuff this year and winter seems to not want to leave us. winter is not nice to those of us who have anxiety and depression, but you are right bang on about how to deal with them. hooray for you, my dear! carry on carrying on! (and thanks for the chispas! especially about the cat pee!)
    cheers
    molly

  6. Laura says:

    Thanks for taking good care of yourself, and for taking good care of others by putting out info on depression/anxiety and by putting out pretty pictures of creative endeavors. I hope spring comes quickly and deeply for you, both seasonally and mentally/spiritually.

  7. Anne says:

    Hey there Sandi,
    It was great hearing from you again after a long winter. Here in Manitoba, winter is still highly visible, but the days are longer and the sun warmer, so things are good. I know how winter can get you down and mess with the grey matter.
    Here’s to early morning birdsong, sunny skies,warm sunshine, lovely fibre, clicking needles, wips and finished projects!
    Anne, aka knitshifty

  8. laflaka says:

    Silly cat.

    Depression sucks.

    Nice hat Ow! Nice hats!

    OMB the sweater! I absolutely love the colors you’re working with! (making note)

    Beautiful spinning.

  9. laflaka says:

    (Stupid logging in. I’m Gwen. Please ignore the goofy login name argh)

  10. Wendy Perkins says:

    So glad you’re back, Sandi. Hopefully the summer sun will help to pull you out of your “hole”. Depression is not something I would wish on anyone. Keep knitting those beautiful items.

  11. msuem says:

    Sandi, thanks for being courageous enough to not just drop off, but to let us all know what’s going on with you. While depression and anxiety ARE illnesses, we really don’t have them out in the open where they need to be. Your straightforward inclusion of us in your life will help some of us directly or perhaps help us to recognize others who are struggling. Thank you for this gift of authenticity!

    Neon colors are fabulous!! I like the mental image of you knitting with sunglasses!

    Hugs to you…know that there are many, many people out here who care about you and are sending prayers and good thoughts!!
    msuem

  12. Bonnie says:

    As I read your post, I kept finding more and more things to get excited about. Ooh, the daughter hat! OOH, the dad hat! HOLY COW, the mom hat has beads! But when I saw the Hiro sweater… Wow. It’s gorgeous. I love the pattern, and I love the colors. Thanks so much for sharing your projects and your life with all of us. It’s so great to see you back on the blog! I hope your depression lifts very, very soon.

  13. bishop_588@msn.com says:

    Misery loves company. Apparently depression does too. Heading towards a cast-off soon that will make me giddy! Phew! I’m on the right track! Carry on!!

  14. dclulu says:

    Yup, I hear you, Sandi. And I’m right there with you, alas, with depression and anxiety. Hang in there — it’s so wonderful to have your voice back on the blog and you’re courageous for sharing all you do! Love the colorwork on your Hiro. Just love.

  15. niki says:

    thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Playing along here at home, in the “name that emotion” game….
    I have missed reading your reflections on knitting, and now am deeply appreciating your straight talk about depression. What a radical and brilliant idea, to just tell people, when they ask how you are doing…
    I am going to try this!

  16. Deb says:

    Missed you. Keep hanging in there….Spring is coming!
    Beautiful sweater.

  17. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  18. Lisa says:

    Hi Sandi, just wanted to say that I’m so happy to “see” you again. Your discussion about your depression brought tears to my eyes. Been there, too. It sounds like you’ve got some wonderful support going. So important to recognize you’re not alone and to reach out to others, especially in times of need.

    Happy happy spring!

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