Well, hello there, friends!
Two things: An Admission, and A New Sweater Project
First the Admission.
If you want to skip down to the Sweater Project, scroll on down!
It’s been a while. I’m going to be honest with you and admit some things that are hard for me to admit. I’m going to admit them anyway because I believe that these things are getting in the way of me moving forward with my writing, my creativity, and my life. In a nutshell: I’m stuck, and I want to get unstuck. And at this point, I might as well admit what’s going on, not in the “poor pitiful me” sense of sharing, but because it’s the truth, and I have a really hard time writing and pretending to be something I am not. And one more reason: I bet I am not the only one who feels this way.
A list, perhaps?
1. I am depressed. Pretty badly so, in fact. So depressed that it is definitely getting in the way of me doing things and making changes. (Yes to therapist, meds, other needed medical care, thank you. I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself; depression is a tough battle to fight.)
2. I’ve got a rather large side order of anxiety.
3. I’m also suffering from a serious case of writer’s block.
4. And on top of all that, I cannot seem to find meaning in any sort of making things. I feel lazy when I knit; I feel as though I am wasting time if I sit and make something.
5. Due to 1-4 above, I am struggling with self-esteem issues, partly because I’m not living up to my own expectations, let alone the expectations of others. Partly because a life without meaning is just a short step away from feeling worthless.
So There. I’ve said it.
I haven’t wanted to write about these things, because, welllll…because I don’t want to come across as a depressing whiny person. So I stopped writing…until one day, a friend of mine, upon hearing about my writing woes, asked me what I was afraid of. “Driving away readers because I’m too boring, or too depressed; showing my weaknesses and troubles to the world; letting people know that my heart is broken and I’m having a hard time finding meaning, let alone self-esteem or pride, in anything I do these days.”
My friend looked at me, and said, “So, what happens if you were to just go ahead and post one of your depressing blog posts? What are you afraid of”?
Me: “People won’t like my blog, or my writing, anymore. They’ll unsubscribe, and folks will avoid me because I’m depressed, and no one will want to hang out or be my friend anymore.” (Yeah, I know. The standard fare of depression, biting me big time.)
And my friend, bless her, looked me straight in the eye, and said: “So what? So what if people leave your blog, and so what if people stop wanting to read your blog? So what if some folks won’t hang out anymore?”
I’m thinking, what? So I answered more honestly than perhaps I had really meant to. Me: “Well, that would be the end of me, the end of the reason I’m here. I write because that’s who I am and what I do. And people liked the old Sandi because she was bubbly and happy and silly. And so I’d be all alone in the world.” (Oh, c’mon. Anyone out there ever felt that way? Even briefly? That’s why I’m ‘fessing up to this: Because I know I am not the only one.)
Friend: “You still are all those things. Maybe not as much, because the depression is blunting your energy and your creativity. But you haven’t lost the core parts that make you YOU. If some people unsubscribe from the blog, well, then they unsubscribe. But not everyone will unsubscribe. Some people will hang around because what people love about you is your honesty, your openness. They love you because of your vulnerability and your willingness to admit to not being perfect. They love you because you can connect to their own vulnerability.”
“In Knitting Daily, what did folks love? They loved it when you talked about making mistakes, about trying new things, about being frustrated with a project and not knowing how to do something but going ahead and doing it anyway. They loved it when you showed them that you were just like they were, just another knitter, not some sort of perfect crafty goodie-two-shoes. There are plenty of perfect knitters to read about; sometimes, though, people just want someone they can relate to, someone who gets it, someone who is just like them. Those sorts of people will stick around.”
“And other folks will come along and find you, and then sign up to read what you write, because people are hungry for connection, they want to know that everyone else’s life is NOT perfect, that someone out there is having just as much a hard time as they are. They’ll come to read your stuff because you tell the truth about what it is to be human, not because you are perfect and every post is a paragon of great literary writing and awesome perfectly photographed creativity. They appreciate your ability to connect to vulnerability, your kindness, and your approachability.”
(I know: Wise friend. She’s a keeper.)
The infamous “they” say that depression lies, that it tells you lies about yourself, about how others view you, about your self-worth, about everything, really.
I think “they” are right. IT LIES. Just because I am afraid my writing is boring and meaningless, doesn’t mean that it is. Just because I cannot feel my own self-worth anymore, doesn’t mean that I am worthless. Just because I cannot see the meaning in my life, doesn’t mean that my life is meaningless.
It’s as though I am having a case of inner glaucoma: Depression is blunting what I see in myself, and anxiety fans my fears into flame.
That’s what I have to say. I’m not feeling sorry for myself; I am not asking for anything. I just needed to tell the truth about where I am and what is going on, because I think once I stop feeling as though I have to fake it around everyone and pretend nothing is wrong, well, then….maybe I can start to breathe a bit again, and just be who I am and what I am. I want to stop pretending; I want to stop making excuses why I am not writing and why I am not showing up on this social media board or that one. I just want to BE, and maybe if I can admit all this, then I might just be able to be a little more at peace with myself about it.
And who knows…who knows what might happen next? Funny you should ask….
A New Project
After years of not knitting sweaters, I finally decided that I was tired of doubting myself (I am the Paca Princess, the Knit a Sweater for You Not for the Model In the Magazine woman, after all). I’m tired of telling myself that I cannot actually practice what I preach and that I cannot really knit myself a decently fitting sweater. Because: Foo on That.
I just want something pretty, and colourful, and warm. If it doesn’t fit me like a glove, well, then, it won’t be the last sweater I will ever knit, and I can learn from my mistakes and do better on the next one, right?
Years ago, I bought a sample sweater from The Yarn Cupboard, a shop near Syracuse that I love (the owner is a wonderful person, the selection of yarns is great, it’s a lovely shop with lovely customers, so what’s not to love?). It was a hoodie, actually, made out of very colourful stripey yarn. I loved that hoodie! I wore it for days and days and weeks. It was soft, and it fit me perfectly, and I loved putting the hood up when it was chilly (I’d never had a real hoodie before), and I loved the pockets. The yarn was a wool/cotton/silk mix, so lovely and soft, and well. It was a nifty sweater.
I went to a show on the East Coast somewhere later that year and ran into a friend (different friend than above) whom I hadn’t seen in a while. Turns out she was having a tough time of some sort. It was cold in the big auditorium where she was minding a booth, so I lent her the hoodie because I had another jacket with me.
Oh my Bob. It looked adorable on her. I mean, completely and utterly adorable. And she loved wearing it. And so I did the obvious and gave it to her. No really. I gave her the hoodie I loved because she is my friend, and it looked so cute on her, and she deserved something nice right about then.
I was OK with that. I still am. But a couple of years ago, I started wanting a hoodie, a hoodie just like the one I had loved. I couldn’t figure out what the pattern had been, so I emailed the shop owner, and thank goodness, she has a great memory. The pattern is Undercurrent Hoodie, by Lisa Kay.
Because I know you’ll ask, here’s the yarn I am using:
• Noro Kotori (75% Wool, 10% Cotton, 8% Viscose, 7% Silk). Colour: 5 Lot: A; 100g/280m. Suggested needles: US 6-7 (4-4.5) (6-8?). Gauge: 16-18 sts = 4”/10 cm and 24-26 rows =4”/10 cm. (To get gauge, I used US Size 7 (3.5mm) for the smaller needles and US Size 8 (4.0mm) for the larger needles.)
It took me only a few weeks to finish the back of the sweater, and now, I am almost done with the ribbing at the hem of the left front.
Over the next bit of time, I am going to write up how I go about modifying this sweater and knitting it up, so if you’d like to follow along, you are most welcome to do so! Let’s see if I still have my sweater mojo. Who knows, there might even be BUST DARTS!!
If by any chance, you are knitting a sweater as well or would like to knit a sweater, maybe you can knit along with me and share your sweater adventures in the comments. It’s not exactly a true knit-a-long, but I thought it might be fun to revisit How to Make a Sweater That Fits You by seeing if I can do it myself!
Note: I used to have a workbook and online software for sale that taught folks how to do this on their own. I’ve taken down the link for two reasons: the server the software was on went kaput, and I’ve been playing around with updating the booklet with newer methods and better information. Stay Tuned!
OK. Soooo….I’m going to hit Post now. Courage!
See you on the other side!