Health · Knitting

A Story About Mental Illness

Anxiety

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.

 

 

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:

img_0268-1

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

xoxo Shannon

Knitting · wool

my summer project

 

IMG_3432
Campside Shawl in Progress

I’ve been wanting to try this shawl for a looong time. Alicia Plummer’s classic design is free too, you can get it here. So far it has been an easy and enjoyable knit, I’m moving right along with no problems. It starts with a Garter Tab Cast-On then rotating and picking up stitches, a set-up row then off you go with increase section, lace work and ribbed edging.

My yarn of choice is Araucania’s Huasco DK hand-painted merino wool in #119 Silversea colorway (below).

IMG_3401
Glorious

I am truly loving this yarn, the color, the tight twisted plies, and the stitch definition it’s giving me. How do you like my cat and yarn pillow? It was my grandmother’s; not sure if she made it or someone else did, but it is definitely handmade. The cat looks a lot like my own Miss Squeakers with the same colored eyes! Too funny.

I hope you are all having a great summer so far. Taking any interesting knitting projects with you on vacation? Part of any good KAL’s?

Here’s a run-down of some summer KAL’s for you:

  • Woolful’s KAL starts today and runs until September 1st! You can choose from one of Hannah Fettig’s patterns out of her newest book, Home and Away. 
  • Organic Knitters have chosen the Gerbera Shawl by Linnea Ornstein, running until August 14th. They are offering kits starting tomorrow.
  • At the Berroco Design Studio, they have started Astilbe, a lovely free cardigan pattern by Amy Christoffers.
  • Olga Buraya-Keflian of Olga Jazzy is hosting one to start on the 4th of July! The pattern of choice is one of her designs, Tetrapods, a dazzling shawl.

Have a Happy Friday and 4th of July for me! I will not be doing too much, maybe a few fireworks and a little grilling, some ribs possibly and definitely some knitting.

xoxo Shannon

Knitting

Ravelry Pattern Review and a W.I.P. Update

Indigo Frost” by Isabell Kraemer

This speaks to me of snowy woods, winter time, sleigh rides, and Little Red Riding Hood. You know, something that is just calling for you to make. I love the way it hangs in soft, loose folds around the body, the ribbing, the eyelet design, the Fair Isle work at the yoke and the adorable pom poms. It all just comes together very well. Isabell is a prolific designer as evidenced by her Ravelry page and if you are looking for a good cardigan or sweater pattern, you have come to the right place. Check out her blog here.


poncho collage


At the top of Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” list, this could be the perfect gift for someone or a great addition to your winter wardrobe. And to make it even better, it is worked seamlessly from the top down. The color work is a simple 4-color slip stitch pattern (sounds like some Mosaic knitting to me).

Elsewhere:


IMG_3011

…. And talk about color knitting, the second color has been added to my surprise project! It is coming along swimmingly (do people really use that word anymore?). The only problem I have had knitting this project is my stitch count keeps getting messed up somehow and it throws off my mitered decreases and yarnovers. So far I have been able to fix it. It is frustrating at times, though, grrrr. Other than that, I love the project. It is pretty fast knitting and I am enjoying the color changes.

I hope you all are having the best day and happy weekend!

xoxo Shannon

design · Knitting · stitch patterns · sweaters · texture · wool

Pom Pom Mag Review, Issue #14

I now own my very first issue of Pom Pom Magazine, #14. I must say, I do love it. So concise, and just the right size to fit into your bag (6 1/2 ” x 9″ to be exact), as well as the obvious. It includes great patterns and articles such as the discussion of different breeds of sheep and their wool and how John Arbon Textiles in North Devon got their start to name a few. There is even a recipe for pumpkin spice cake included!

Here are some of my design picks:

Hitchcock” by  Alexa Ludeman of Tincanknits

Love, love, love this t-shirt sweater design. The richness of the “Pomegranate” color way gives it such great depth and the fact it is a simple, classic design puts it in the staple category, something I would want to knit over and over in many colors. There is one change I might make to the pattern. Since I am fairly short waisted, I would probably shorten it to just below my waist which would be an easy thing to do. This sweater seems to have been fashioned after the classic Henley. It is unisex so you can make it for your boyfriend, spouse, brother, sister. This is definitely going in my knitting que.

Stats:

  • Category: Sweater, pullover
  • Yarn: Swans Island, worsted in shades Pomegranate or Frost. This certified organic wool is hand-spun in New England and hand-dyed in Maine.
  • Sleeves knit first
  • Body worked from bottom up in one piece to underarm
  • Ribbing at hem, cuff trim, neck trim and buttonhole strip
Karusellen” by Erica-Knits

Adorable, rustic and whimsical. Really liking the tweedy texture of Shelter, a great pick! What a cozy, cute and quick knit. I have not personally worked with Shelter yet, but this design has me itching to!

Stats:

  • Category: hat, beanie, toque
  • Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, worsted in shades Woodsmoke and Thistle. 100% Wyoming-grown Targhee-Columbia wool
  • Colorwork
  • Ribbing at bottom rim
  • Pom pom
Magdalen” by Joji Locatelli

There is so much going on in this outstanding scarf by Joji Locatelli! Where do I begin? First of all, the color caught my eye immediately, one of my favorites. Then the design patterns! The dimensions coupled with the dramatic take this over the top.

Stats:

  • Category: scarf/wrap
  • Yarn: O-Wool Classic Worsted (a 100% certified organic merino) in Begonia
  • Size: One size at 16″ wide by 69″ long
  • Patterns: Honeycomb cable on the body and Twisted Rope cable for trim

Note: I ordered my copy of Pom Pom Quarterly from Fringe Supply Co. Unfortunately they are sold out right now, but have a few other good publications still for sale.

I hope you are having the best day!

xoxo Shannon

 

color · Crafts · knits · Knitting

Chullos Anyone?

Polar Chullo” by Mary Ann Stephens
Ribbels Shetland Chullo” an adaptation of the above pattern using the Puffin mittens color chart found here.

I’m sure you all have seen this style of hat that is most connected to what Andeans wear in Peru known as the “chullo” or hat of the Peruvian Andes. It is their answer to a stocking cap and was born out of necessity to protect themselves from the harsh winters in the mountains of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. “Chullo” coming from the Aymara and Quechua languages has several meanings but in terms of knitwear it stands for the symbol of the Andes, a woven wool hat with earflaps.

Believe it or not, this head-gear was once considered a crude piece of clothing only worn by Andean Indians, a lower class of Peruvian society. It did come to designate certain groups living in the high mountains. The colors, patterns and weaves would indicate where each wearer was from much like Gansey sweater designs did.

Chullo’s history: Read here for more on its origins and traditions.

I have long been an admirer of this style and have yet to make one. Nonetheless, I have been drawn to its folk inspired style, colorful design and the infamous earflaps. They usually always include ties, a long tassel or pom-pom and are sometimes lined. Mmm, that would make it nice and cozy. Here is Mags Kandis’ version:

Chullo Cap” by Mags Kandis
Squishy Chullo Hat” by Adriana Hernandez

Okay, well I could go on and on showing you one great design after another, and there are many to choose from as evidenced from this plethora of designs on Ravelry. I think you get the idea. If you have made one or decide to make one, I would love to see pictures! I could share them as a follow-up to this post. It might inspire me to get busy and make one as well!

I hope you all are having the best weekend, filled with pumpkin picking, apple cider drinking, leaf watching, etc.! I have partaken in the apple cider and leaf watching, but not the pumpkin picking yet. We are having the most gorgeous day here today too filled with lots of sunshine and fall colors. It just makes you glad to be alive, right? Happy knitting.

Now go knit and do good.

P.S. I just had to share this last one:

Andean Chullo Hat” by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence

Okay, I’m done.

xoxo Shannon

 

knits · Knitting · sweaters · wool

Project/Gift Knitting Lineup

woolen mittens

Hmmm, if this doesn’t get you itching to starting stitching for fall I don’t know what would!

Hi there! Ready to start those fall knitting projects? Or Christmas gifts? The yarn shop I work for has been getting decidedly more busy and mostly with knitters looking for yarn and/or ideas for Christmas gifts. There have been a few sweater projects started as well. Fall and cool weather are definitely in the air and with Christmas only a few months away, it’s time! Here are some ideas:

Antler Cardigan by tincanknits

Need a gift for that special niece, daughter or granddaughter? Is she adorable or what? Love the cardigan too! A tutorial for the pattern can be found here. This pattern which comes in adult sizes as well, is part of the book “Pacific Knits“. You will love the fact that it is knit seamlessly, the body is done in rows while the arms are knit in the round, and button bands are added on last.  I know I would love to have this in my wardrobe. The great thing about tincanknits patterns is they come in lots of sizes. Tell your friends!

Funky Grandpa” by La Maison Rililie

Rililie of La Maison Rililie fame is one of my favorite designers right now. She comes up with some really nice designs and stripes occur fairly often in them. They are classic with really great little design elements or use of color and stripes. BlueSand Cardigan, is another favorite. Check out her Ravelry page. This is a nice lightweight piece done in a fingering weight if you are looking for something not so heavy and too warm. It is also knit completely seamlessly and almost in one piece.

Mrs. Jekyll & Little Hyde” by La Maison Rililie

And while we’re at it, let’s add another of Rililie’s patterns. This reversible hat is ingenious and adorable. Who wouldn’t like this? It’s not too bulky, but yet done in two layers which will be warm. One side feminine, one side sporty. The ribbed rim is knit in one layer to prevent too much bulk near the face.

Border Socks” by Mary Jane Mucklestone

How about some socks for the men in your life? Or really, these could be unisex. I would wear them. I just had to throw in a color work pattern for you to be tempted by! Come on, try your hand at a little fair isle along with some wide wale ribbing. This is the perfect gift. I have a friend who could whip these out in no time. She has become a sock knitting fiend. I’m jealous.

Mosaic Blanket” by Purl Soho

As you might have guessed, I kind of have a love affair with mosaics right now. I have just about finished my PaintBoxes Cowl as mentioned and shown in a previous post. Mosaic is so easy, please don’t be intimidated by it. It just consists of using two colors and slip stitching and that’s it! Besides the fact that this pattern is beautiful, it’s also free. This was knit in Purl Soho’s Alpaca Pure in 24 outstanding colors and Worsted Twist in 34 glorious colors, both aran weights (worsted weight would work here as well). They used a pattern taken from Barbara Walker’s “Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns“.

Here is my latest project. Sssh, it’s a surprise for someone! I will tell you it is going to be colorful. I promise to show you the progress along the way.

IMG_2994

Happy knitting everyone!

xoxo Shannon