Hello, 2019…here we go!


Well, hello there, friends!

Two things: An Admission, and A New Sweater Project

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Part of the New Sweater Project…I’ll explain this one later!

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.”

Me: “Oh.”

(I know: Wise friend. She’s a keeper.)

Depression Session

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.

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Look! I finally found the one-and-only picture of myself in That Hoodie ever taken! (Thank you, Google Photos Search feature.) This is the beloved hoodie sweater that started this whole thing off.

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.)

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Back of the sweater: Done!

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.

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Left front ribbing

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!
xo Sandi

Obligatory Cat Photo

Tessa-lapcat-thumbs

Tessa, enjoying some lap time. She’s three now, and yes, she does indeed have thumbs. Three on each front paw, in fact. (They are all covered by fur into one large thumb, but there are three separate pads under there…and three separate, and very sharp, claws.)

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age 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.
This entry was posted in Depression, Just Life, Knitting, Sweater Knitting, Tessa, True Friends. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Hello, 2019…here we go!

  1. Sylvia Dresser says:

    Sandi, I’m with your for the long haul!! I started reading your stuff at Knitting Daily, unsubscribed from that after you left … and have been yearning for your voice ever since. I finally worked up my own courage and made myself a sweater which I recently finished – and it fits! Such a lovely feeling. I’m one of many who has also visited the Slough of Despond, so many of your words resonated for me … Sending you many virtual hugs, Sylvia

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for sharing. It’s so hard to be vulnerable, but more and more I think it’s important to show up as our full selves, including the shadow parts, and including those parts is how we can be sure our right people will find us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marta says:

    ::hugs:: and ❤️
    We love you, friend. I would only add write for yourself and if you’re having difficulties, chances are there are others who would benefit from your heartfelt honesty. I know I do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. corrie says:

    GAAAH. The internet ate my comment. Short version: I’m one of those new people who found you (through the Daily Making Jumpstart, yay!) and I totally relate – in the last 3 years, I’ve had that lovely pairing of Anxiety & Depression. You are doing all the right things, and things will get better. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you for posting, thank you for sharing, thank you for being you! Why do we feel guilty sitting down to knit in the middle of the afternoon? Take care of yourself. I enjoy hearing about your projects and your kitties.
    Stay warm! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lori says:

    Sandi, I’ve been following your blogs since Knitting Daily. You can’t make me stop…you just can’t. While I can’t begin to imagine how hard you’re struggling right now, you are doing the right things. Things will get better. AND, I have that sweater pattern! I’ve been wanting to knit it for years. You’ve made a beautiful start. I’d love to join you in a psuedo-KAL. Unfortunately, I have an arm issue that’s prevented me from knitting since early November. ~sigh~ It’s beyond frustrating. Looking forward to hearing about your progress and seeing your knitting and more kitty pictures. Take care of yourself!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pat says:

    Sandi, I live with a partner who experiences the symptoms that you chronicled but life does improve. Honest!!! It takes hard work to fight your way out of the deep, deep, valley but it can be done. Those who love you and treasure you will not dessert you. Count me among them! Pat

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Glori Medina says:

    Sandi,
    Thank you for sharing how you have been feeling and thank you for being here. ❤️
    Love your sweater!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Annie Bee says:

    Your WiseFriend is right — I came for the knitting content, but really stayed for your voice, your thoughtful, loving, compassionate voice. (And the chispas, including kitty thumbs, but mostly your voice.) I’m also looking forward to spending more time with you in person, whether for a cup of tea and knitting, or a spot of light axe-throwing…!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. elaine says:

    Well Hi Sandi! So good to see you pop up in the email – I am sorry for what you are going through, but it’s great that you hit post! And even greater that you are knitting a hoodie! Thanks for sharing it – Love hoodies. I am t.r.y.i.n.g. to finish knitting my Carbeth Cardi, but still knitting Christmas things, too. So yes, I’ll check back and do a sort of kal with ya!
    )))hugs(((
    Ps. Keep hitting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. All the usual — yes, depression lies, yes the most intelligent people are the ones who suffer the most from “imposter syndrome”.
    However, thank you for having the courage to be vulnerable, to let us know that you are actually human (ok Paca Princess but still, human). It takes enormous courage to reveal to the world what you think are your flaws and insecurities, especially when they feel so overwhelming. You are a light in the darkness for many people for doing this.
    So all the hugs and love and I am glad you posted as I’ve been worried about not seeing your fingerprints on the web.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. K. E. Smith says:

    Please, please, bust darts!
    Also, you kind of buzzed over “broken heart”. What’s going on there?
    I too am a long-time follower. And I met you at the Cupboard in Syracuse at a terrific retreat.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Marilyn Nance says:

    Hang in there! I am concerned when not hearing from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. samatwitch says:

    I have been enjoying your contributions to the Jumpstart videos and Facebook page. Please continue to post. Love the colours you’ve chosen for your hoodie. (Gayle)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. sewsable says:

    Well you haven’t lost me and I’m glad to hear from you again. I’m very lucky not to have suffered depression yet, but I have lots of friends who do so I notice when people disappear for a while and hope they’re ok. I love your blog whether it’s about knitting or your life so keep on posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Msue Moore says:

    Sandi, you are loved. I am personally happy you are writing to us again. I have missed you. No pressure. It Does Lie. Have fun with the hoodie! Hugs MSue

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Tamara says:

    Oh Sandi, I love you so much. My best friend and I often find ourselves in the same spot in our lives, no matter how long it’s been since we talked. And I feel that way about your blog. It always speaks to me and what i’m struggling with. I self-diagnosed (though it’s been a dx that has cropped up sometimes) as having borderline personality disorder yesterday, saying “Yup, that’s me.” and “Check!” to the various criteria. And it dawned on me kind of for the first time that I have a mental illness, and THEY are right–mental illness/depression/anxiety LIE to you.

    So now we have a strategy–when we feel especially bad about ourselves, thinking people don’t like us or think what we do is poor/bad/etc., we can tell those thoughts they’re not real, and move on.

    I always wish you nothing but the best, and am ALWAYS thrilled to see your name in my inbox. Never doubt it–you are surrounded by people who think your wise friend is. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi, Sandi! So pleased you appeared in my blog reader. I’m sorry about your depression, and I’m glad you’re writing about it. Honesty is great; it’s not healthy for any of us to only be sunshine and light in our public faces. Real life happens! (I love that there is cat hair on your leggings in the picture of the front sweater ribbing. Because that’s the story of my life, too.)

    I met you a zillion years ago, I think it was at Sock Summit and you had the most wonderful tiaras. Some days I put on my tiara, because that’s the only thing that makes me do my bookkeeping.

    Take care, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  19. rue202 says:

    I like your knitting. Don’t be afraid to open up.

    Like

  20. eremophila says:

    What an amazing friend you have! Such a wise person obviously sees the gems in you too☺
    You’ve got heaps of courage and that will see you through this difficult time.👍

    Like

  21. Thank you for your honesty. Really. As a person who is fighting with a depression myself I totally relate to what you’re feeling. And I love the hoody, it’s lovely. I will keep reading your posts, they ‘re giving me hope that one day I’ll pick up the needles again, despite all.

    Like

  22. Lee says:

    Hi Sandi,

    It’s great to hear from you. As usual I find myself nodding at your words and thinking “what she said” on the comments. I too met you through your Knitting Daily columns and was captivated by your honesty and acceptance that things don’t always go the way we expect.

    You are so brave to share your fears as well as your hopes with the world. I treasure our friendship, virtual though it may be at this time, and hope to someday meet you in person.

    Meanwhile I look forward to your hoodie adventure; I am committed to a few other projects at the moment but will cheer you on from the sidelines and absorb what I can for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Nancy Urekar says:

    You’re a new friend and sort of neighbour. I appreciate your honesty and can I remind you that the more you give (share), the more you get? Keep sharing!

    Like

  24. Jane says:

    Sandi, it’s so good to see your post appear in my mailbox. I have loved your writing since Knitting Daily. Back in those days I was working on a bag you wrote about. I was having trouble with the pattern and I wrote to you on the KD blog. I was so thrilled that you wrote to me personally and helped me with the pattern. I thought, Who does that?! Why, the awesome Sandi Wiseheart, that’s who. I have followed you since (and I ditched KD after you left ;).) So sorry to hear what you’re going through – I can relate as I suffer those bouts, too. Knitting for me has literally been a life saver – literally, in the true sense of the word. The methodical rhythm, the yarn, the colors…good on you for picking up your needles and for a hoodie no less! I’ve just started a sweater after years of shawl/wrap and sock knitting: it’s Purl Soho’s lightweight raglan. I’ll follow along with you. I’m not going anywhere.

    Like

  25. Margaret says:

    It is always nice to hear from you, Sandi.

    Like

  26. Barbara G says:

    Forget “writer’s block” – you’re writing to friends. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just chat with us like we’re having tea together! We all know your worth – even if it’s hard for you to see sometimes. As the song says. “when you’re going through hell, just keep going.” And just so you know, when I see an email from you – I smile!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. ML says:

    You’re certainly not alone! I for one don’t come here expecting a perfect post, I come here because I like what you write, regardless of what you write about. As your friend said: “people just want someone they can relate to, someone who gets it, someone who is just like them”. Yep, that’s exactly it.

    Like

  28. Jerri Scott says:

    Thanks for your bravery and honesty. I started following you for the knitting and have stayed all these years because you are a real person and not afraid to show it. Many of us out here appreciate that you tell it like it is. Keep it up.

    Like

  29. Mary Lou says:

    Your way with words is as wonderful as your way with yarn. Hearing your description of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt helps me understand and interact more compassionately with the people in my life who are suffering with similar symptoms. I’ve always enjoyed your voice in writing, and am so happy to have found you in your post Knitting Daily life. You make a difference. Thank you! Looking forward reading future posts. Off to knit…

    Like

  30. M says:

    If someone’s not willing to stick with ALL of you, that person isn’t a true friend. Thank you for being here for us.

    Like

  31. Mardi says:

    I’m right there with ya from 1 to 5. Not doing well and not talking about it. Hugs, Princess!

    Like

  32. You are definitely not alone! I got depression with a side order of anxiety too, aren’t they just the perfect combination. I’ve found it much easier to cope since opening up and telling other people I’m struggling, so I hope you’ve had a good response as well.
    I’m currently working on my first ever knitted jumper and I have no idea if it’s going to work or fit properly or anything, but it’s so exciting to try.

    Like

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