Health · Knitting

A Story About Mental Illness


There has been a lot of talk about this lately, which is good. We can share our struggles with one another and come to the realization we are not alone. Whether it be depression, an anxiety disorder, or OCD, etc., it’s all hard, very hard. Over the years, I have become intimate with all of these at one time or another. Actually at one time, all three were residing with me, anxiety though being my constant companion. That one time was after the birth of my second son and really when the anxiety started for the first time, which makes me think hormones might have played a part along with a list of stressors going on: caring for my first born son, a 1 1/2 year old, a new move, complications with a new baby, renovation of a new (old) house, and a husband gone a lot traveling. It was such a rough time in my life, there were days I didn’t think I could survive what I was experiencing. But I kept pushing forward, trying to manage it all the best way I could. You must seek help, don’t try to handle it all alone. When you try to do that, it will only exacerbate the situation. Get educated, learn exactly what you are dealing with, whether it be panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, my diagnosis), social phobias, OCD, etc.

I’ve since learned there can be medical causes as well to an anxiety disorder, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain for example. I won’t go into all of that here because either you have a mental illness or you don’t, and I am writing to reach out to those of you who have had to deal with it as well or know someone close to you who has struggled. To let you know you’re not alone, you don’t have to be isolated in this. As you can tell, my main demon has been the anxiety. Others of you are fighting something else, like a bipolar disorder, manic depression, etc., all under the umbrella of mental illness. We are all in this together.

Another reason I wanted to write on this topic was to offer up some things I have done to try to manage the anxiety; what has worked and what hasn’t. Sometimes it’s trial and error,  trying to find a medicine that might help you. I tried several, in my experience I could never find one that truly gave me relief plus I didn’t like some of the side effects. (There might be some new ones on the market today that work better, I have not looked into this for some time). So I got off of the meds and focused more on deep breathing exercises, exercise, changing the way I think. I talked to counselors, friends, family. I know in my case, my thoughts would loop around and around (OCD), and I worried a lot about anything that might come up in my life. So, it’s all about stopping those thought patterns and cycles, making a conscious effort to catch them and doing or thinking something else to get your brain distracted. For me, doing some busy activity would help as well, like household chores, getting out of the house, playing music, singing, whatever you can come up with. And of course, knitting has always been very therapeutic for me. It causes me to relax, be more calm and just pretty much zone out.

Certain foods have played a big part in causing my anxiety as well. I have food sensitivities to processed sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and white flour. If I spend too much time on my phone or computer, my head and body tighten up, and I don’t sleep well. So it’s all about learning what your triggers are and trying to avoid those as much as you can, which I don’t always do so well.

There are days when depression will creep in, fatalistic thinking also joins the group and of course, I can always count on anxiety being right there, waiting for me. My bodily symptoms have improved a lot, seemingly coinciding with the onset of menopause. There again, a hormone thing. Who knows? That part of it is much better, it used to be when that would start happening, I would have a very hard time controlling it and it would spiral down to a place of great discomfort. It is hard to explain, and unless you’ve experienced it, hard for a lot of people to understand. Believe me, I’ve been on the receiving end of some strange looks when sharing my dilemma in the past. So you learn either to not talk about it or be very selective with whom you divulge. But there are caring, well-informed professionals who do want to talk to you. You have to want to do it for yourself.

I hope this has helped at least one person. That’s all I want. Hugs and kisses to you all. Hang in there, God will see you through the storm.




A little Mecha….Etc.

Here’s what I’ve got so far working with the fabulous Malabrigo Mecha bulky in Mostaza on my Lykke circulars. I’m thinking maybe a cowl is the ticket. The Mecha is liking the stitch pattern so far. Everything’s good!

Happy Friday the 13th! Time to get out all the decorations, the wool yarn, the needles, the pumpkins, and the fall colors. I wish it would get into the cooler temps where I live; we’ve been having 80 degree weather for crying out loud.

img_0990I recently attended a Kaffe Fassett lecture in Paducah, Kentucky promoting his latest book, “Quilts In Ireland“. It was fabulous hearing him talk about color and how he finds  inspiration. If you don’t know, he is a knitwear, quilt, embroidery and fabric designer all rolled into one. He does amazing work.

Just a few fall/October images for you.

Have the best weekend. Do a little knitting, spend some time with the ones you love and in the great outdoors, they’re good for the soul.

xoxo Shannon


Off the Needles: A Plucky Color Block Scarf


Top picture: the underside of this pattern is just as beautiful as the right side. And this yarn certainly is a good choice for showing it off.

While this design project has been languishing on my needles for some time now, I am very glad to have it off and done. Have thoroughly enjoyed working with Plucky Knitter Traveler DK in the Green Goddess and Chamomile color ways. This yarn is a dream to fondle, made up of merino wool, mulberry silk, and yak. Delicious. It all came together beautifully, the yarn, the colors, the pattern – love it when that happens! Here it is all blocked and looking fine:

What are your fall knitting plans? Making anything for the holidays? I didn’t make Christmas gifts last year and so am thinking of trying to do that this time. Plus I also have several wips that need attention: the Grandpa Cardigan by Joji Locatelli, Fog Cutter sweater by Thea Colman (Baby Cocktails), and Shore Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Whew! Not enough hours…

Have a great weekend!

P.S. If you have Netflix, have you watched Shetland yet? It’s a crime, detective series set in Shetland with some AMAZING cinematography, as well as a little bit of Fair Isle knitting thrown in! Check it out.

xoxo Shannon


Rusty and It’s a Wrap – Progress!

I am moving a little slow on the Rusty Cardigan by Steinunn Birna Gudjonsdottir I first mentioned here. Since it starts out with a ribbed edging at the bottom of the cardigan, I decided to do a tubular cast-on (here is a great tutorial that really helped me from Craftsy). And needless to say, it was giving me fits. First of all, I started with too long circular needles and the stitches somehow got twisted. All in all, I think I tried at least three times before I finally got it right! I was determined not to give up though and decided to show you what I have so far:

Also, my wrap is moving along well; I am enjoying this knit immensely. It is relatively easy with some cabling thrown in if you don’t mind that, and I don’t! If I want to add texture to a design, this is one of my favorite ways to do it.

It’s also “Worldwide Knit in Public” day today! I might head to my LYS and participate in this national event. There’s nothing better than sitting out on a beautiful day and knitting with likeminded people, right?

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. It is beautiful right now in the Ohio valley. I’m thinking a lot of knitting is in order, taking pictures with my new Nikon which I’m very excited about and celebrating my youngest son’s 17th birthday tomorrow! Wishing you all the best.

Xoxo Shannon



Knitting Trends of 2017 – Did you Adhere to Any of Them?

Whether it was the ponytail or bun hat (can’t forget the pink pussy hats!), oversized sweaters, long coats and sweaters, long scarves, giant yarn, panetone’s green color of the year, hand-dyed yarn, texture and lots of it, the cocoon cardigan, or speckled yarn, this past winter knitting season offered many areas of inspiration and fun.  Did any of these influence your knitting this year? Did you feel the need to add any of these trends to your Ravelry que? I know I was definitely influenced in that I wanted to make an oversized sweater by Michele Wang or Norah Gaughan. Here are a few of my favorites:


Top: Michele Wang’s Illia – a cabled cocoon cardigan from her Brooklyn Tweed Capsule collection of patterns

Bottom: Norah Gaughan’s Sourcebook Flared Pullover from her new book, “Knitted Cable Sourcebook”, which I have. It is a great book to add to your knitting library.

These both speak to me in several different ways: the unique architecture of both pieces, LOVE the boxiness and ease of wear they offer,  and the beautiful texture in the form of cables and ribbing. Can you tell I like cables? Ha!

I’ve also really enjoyed ogling the speckled yarn eye candy of Instagram by Peepaloofields or Republic of Wool, not to mention the many other beautiful hand-dyed gems by, tusken knits, and house of à la mode, just to name a few!

Peepaloorepublic of woolTop: Flip Flop – Sensible Sock yarn by PeepalooFields, Sensible Sock is an 80% Superwash Merino Skein 20% Nylon, 2ply Skein – 400Yards/100gr. See PeepalooFields’ great feed and many updates on her Instagram page.

Bottom: Game Over – DK, a 1005 superwash merino, 250 yards, 115 grams. This is unfortunately sold out at the moment. You can easily get updates by following Michele on Instagram.

Y2Ktusken knitshouse of alamodeTop: Olann’s offering in Panetone’s fabulous color of the year in her Y2K sock yarn.

Middle: Tusken Knit’s “Fuzz”, another sock yarn.

Bottom: House of a la Mode’s “Smoked Peach” colorway which is offered in several different weights. Oh, what I could do with all of these!

Love these scarves from Missoni: What fashion statements, what color, what inspiration!

Missoni long scarf0cb167e2184790c7be5898526028ad9d

Here is my bi-color version of a long scarf using Plucky Knitter’s Traveler DK in Chamomile and Green Goddess in the woven diagonal herringbone pattern:One of my wips/designs I need to finish. It includes an edging and trim of garter stitch, then on to the herringbone stitch. Pretty easy but so beautiful.

So tell me, did you fall prey to any of these trends? Until next time …..

xoxo Shannon



It’s A Wrap and Other Worldly Pursuits

This new design has been giving me a few fits. I’ve had to rip out at least three or four times, trying to get just the right combination of patterns. I’m working with an alpaca/bamboo, sport weight yarn that I died myself with cochineal (which is a fun experience in itself!) Here’s a little glimpse of it:
This is going to be a rectangle shaped wrap/scarf with a lot of texture/pattern which I love to see in a garment. So once I get all the patterning figured out, I will finish the sample and show you!

And elsewhere in the world . . . .

I have always admired the amazing work of Marie Wallin. She was the head designer for Rowan Magazine for eight years but in 2013 decided to start her own design company. She resides in a small village called Hoby in Leicestershire, England. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook to name a few. She is known for her beautiful fair isle work:

Ravelry: Houndstooth Tweed Loop Scarf


Ravelry: Georgia Fairisle Tam

Ravelry: Hartington

If you haven’t heard of Rosa Pomar or seen her beautiful designs and website, then you must be introduced to her! She is a Portugese designer living in Lisbon. I recently discovered her extensive offerings of fiber related products on her website. There is so much there, you will think you have died and gone to a knitter’s dream heaven. She owns a brick and mortar as well (see below). Here are a few examples of her work:


… And another Fair Isle knitter. I recently discovered this article and wonderful video on Bloomberg featuring Fair Isle designer, Mati Ventrillon, who actually lives on this island raising sheep, shearing them and having the wool processed into yarn she can use in her beautiful designs. Her process is fascinating as you will see played out in the video. She does a combination of machine and hand knitting to create her designs. Be sure to watch the video, you won’t be disappointed. You can also find Mati on Facebook and Instagram.

store_imgbespoke_imageI hope you all are having the best weekend, and I have given you some good inspiration! Happy knitting.

xoxo Shannon



Knitting · sweaters · wool

A Little Plotulopi Anyone?

I recently received my “plates” of Plotulopi from Claire of The Woolly Thistle and also the popular podcast, New Hampshire Knits of which I am a listener. I highly recommend it!

She is currently hosting a KAL for the Rusty Cardigan by Steinunn Birna Guojonsdottir which is so beautiful, and one I have had my eye on for a while. And it’s free to boot! Won’t you join Claire and the rest of us? My color selections were eggplant for the body of the cardigan and cream for the fair isle work.

If you’re not familiar with Plotulopi, it is a one-ply unspun Icelandic wool yarn from Istex with a gauge for 1-ply: 19 sts to 10 cm (4”) over St st using size 4½ mm (Old UK 7) (US 7). This yarn could also be used as a 2-ply, you just pull from center of plate for 1-ply or from the center and outside of plate together for 2-ply. Lori Ann Graham of  the Lori Times Five blog features it on her Instagram feed and her Ravely project page.

And some photos courtesy of Ravelry:


I will keep you all posted on my progress. Happy knitting and happy Sunday!

xoxo Shannon