Thursday, March 24, 2016

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Knitting Through Tough Times

Since my last post, I have gone through a major life change. In July of 2014, my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer,  and it announced itself with a seizure and a car accident. After almost a year of chemo, pain, multiple medical emergencies,  and numerous hospital stays, he passed away on June 26, 2015, exactly  11 months after his diagnosis.

After almost a year of caring for and supporting Mark, I had to deal not only with losing him, but also with losing my purpose and daily routine.  I had to leave my job to care for him, and so I really had nothing.  It was like this huge numbing void took over my life. People really rally around youun when someone is very ill, but after they're gone, people tend to go back to life as usual. I'm not saying that everyone up and abandoned me, far from it, but I felt very alone and lost.

One of the things that helped me keep it together was my fiber arts. I knitted my way through hospital stays and bad nights. I spun yarn when I didn't have the brain power to knit, and I eventually purchased a loom and added weaving to my recovery.  I honestly don't think that I would have made it through without having these things to give my brain and body a rest.

If you are struggling with greif, loss, or stress, keep knitting!

1. Pick a project that just keeps your hands busy for those times that following a pattern is to draining. Just the rhythmic motion of your hands can be soothing.   An easy garter stitch scarf or plain vanilla socks might fit the bill.

2. Have another project up and running that is more absorbing for when you need to give your brain a rest. I know that,  for me, it was one of the few things that allowed me to get away when I needed a a break from all of the emotion.

3. Look to the future and browse through patterns on Ravelry. I found that this gave me a sense of future beyond what I was currently dealing with.

4. Consider making a gift of your knitting to the people in your life who are there for you.  I knitted a shawl for Mark's chemo nurse. She was  always there with support for both of us.  I also knitted some gifts for some of our friends who threw us a fundraiser.

5. Don't beat yourself up if you just can't concentrate enough to knit,  or do anything besides what has to be done.  There were days when I was lucky to just take care of Mark's needs, and get some food in my belly. You need to just try to roll with what comes along.

I'm definitely one of the lucky ones.  I did manage to get through it all with the help of good family and friends,  my knitting,  and a little medication.  I found a great guy to share my life with,  and expect to have a happy future with.  I have my dogs that I work with.  I have totes full of yarn stash to plan with. While I still miss Mark,  and always will,  I have found a way forward,  and for this,  I'm extremely grateful.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fibery Goodness Roundup

Things have been a bit hectic since my last post.  My hubby started a new chemotherapy drug which is leaving him drained and ill, and this week he has several brain radiation treatments,  which added to his chemo, will do a serious number on his energy,  along with some nasty headaches.

My big excitement was having my Brainless Cowl featured on A Baby's Smile blog for Inspiration Monday. To see the post and find out more about the Inspiration Monday linky party, head over to A Baby's Smile and say hello.

My Event Horizon Pi Shawl is in the end stages, with the border going on slowly,  but surely.  I'm looking forward to the Solid Sock Ravelry Group KAL that will be starting on April 4th, and have my yarn set aside for that.

Yesterday,  I found out that our county 4H is going to be giving a fundraiser for us, to help raise money to cover our medical expenses.  Even though we are fortunate to have good health insurance,  copays alone are practically breaking us. I haven't been working because I've been home with him, and,  as you can imagine,  things are just horribly stressful.  I'm going to be knitting a shawl to be auctioned off, and I've chosen to do Annis, from, although I'm going to replace the nupps with beads.

For my quilting friends,  I saw this post over on Bloglovin', and had to share this fat quarter giveaway.  Please head right over and get your entry in, because,  seriously,  this fabric is GORGEOUS!
Seriously..I think it needs stitches.: Purple Punch Giveaway

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#WIPWednesday : The Event Horizon Pi Shawl

I love this shawl, and learned a lot from knitting her. I'm finally in the home stretch,  and ready to bind off. I cast on New Year's day, and was supposed to finish on Pi Day, 3/14, but that obviously didn't happen.
The Event Horizon Pi Shawl , by Donna Druchunas, was featured in her book, Stories in Stitches 2, and is only one of many projects, along with accompanying stories, that can be found in this lovely little book.
More information on designer and author Donna Druchunas,  can be found on her website,
Sheep to Shawl

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free Pattern: The Brainless Cowl

Inspiration Mondays
I'm happy to say, the Brainless Cowl is just that, brainless.  I was looking for a way to use up some of my many skeins of handspun yarn, and sometimes I could knit on autopilot while I read a book.  Hence, the Brainless Cowl, a giftable project you can complete in an evening while sitting in front of  movie or reading a book.
This cowl is simplicity itself. For the cowl pictured,  I cast on 80 stitches on a set of US 10, 16 in circular needles, and I knit for 5 rounds, purled for 5 rounds, alternating as I  went, ending on a knit set, and bound off loosely when I ran out of my skein of worsted weight handspun yarn.
This pattern is very easy to adapt to any weight yarn. If you are using fingering weight, go down to a US size 6 needle, and increase your stitch count to 120.  If you want a longer cowl, kust add more stitches.
I hope you enjoy this fast, stress free knit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Think I Will Take Up Sewing

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I think I'm going to take up sewing.  This has been something that has nagged T me for years,  which is a bit absurd.  After all, I own three sewing machines.  Yes, three. They keep coming into my life and my home,  and amazingly enough,  no matter what I do, I can't seem to make those suckers work.  They always end up with a tangled mess around the bobbin,  or the whole thing just sort of seizes up. At first,  I thought it was the machi2 that were at fault.  After all, I'm a pretty crafty girl. I'm a more than competent knitter. I make my own yarn. Really,  what could be so difficult about running a sewing machine.  Even kids do it all the time.

In an effort to get these machines working,  I had some sewing friends of mine take them for a test drive.  I was completely disgusted to hear that the machines were just fine, and actually worked very well.  Hmm.

Further proof that I'm supposed to be sewing something lies in the fact that I have multiple totes of beautiful fabric,  and by multiple,  I mean no less than five. If the universe didn't want me to do this, I can't imagine that so much sewing paraphernaliaon would have been dumped in my lap to steal space in my house.

So, in the face of all of this evidence,  I think it's time to put some of these lovely fabrics to work decorating my home. If I can ever figure out how to make those stupid sewing machines work!

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Eventful Year

I  couldn't believe it when I saw I hadn't posted in almost a year. Most likely because it has been, long, stressful,  terrifying,  and  more than a little eventful. Last summer,  my husband was diagnosed with cancer,  which announced itself with a seizure.  He went from being relatively healthy,  active,  and working full time,  to being a cancef victim in the hospital over the course of one day.  It totally blind sided us. We had no idea anything was wrong.  After the seizure,  he was in and out of the hospital for several months,  one admission being the result of a heart attack about two weeks after the cancer diagnosis,  almost certainly brought on by stress.

In the meantime,  my son was holding down the home front,  while I stayed at the hospital with my husband. Four days after we found out about the cancer, on the day they started  the preparation to start radiation treatments,  my son called to tell me my dog passed away.  He'd taken her to the vet the day before because she was feverish and wouldn't drink. I was completely devastated.  I literally  cried for two hours.  I'd worked so hard to hold it together for my husband's sake, and this completely put me over the  edge.  I was so bad,  they had a staff person following me around thinking I was having a breakdown.  I probably was.

I think knitting totally saved my sanity. I dragged it to the hospital,  to the oncologist office, pretty much everywhere.  Even though I didn't ever seem to make much progress,  it soothed and absorbed me enough to get me through.
Time just seems to get away from me now.  I'm working part time,  mostly from home, and my husband is popping in and out of work as he's able.  We just seem to live in a whirl wind of  doctor appointments,  chemotherapy,  and down days to regroup.  One thing is for sure,  no matter how crazy life gets, or how much time I spend sitting in doctors offices and hospital rooms,  my knitting will be a constant.   Right now, I'm working on my Event Horizon Shawl by Donna Druchunas. Definitely an absorbing knit.

Below is a small sampling of some of the things I've knit over the past few months.
The beginning of my Event Horizon Pi Shawl
Easy Handspun Cowl: Cast on 75 stitches on size 10 circular needle. Join in the round. Knit 5 rows, purl 5 rows, until the cowl is the size you want. End cowl with 5 knit rows. The handspun was a heavy worsted weight. Easy enough to read while you knit.  A definite winner, and you can finish it in a sitting! 
Baby bonnet. I've knit several of these now. Threaded with pretty ribbon,  it makes a great gift.
Socks I knit from one of the Jane Austen Knits magazines. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yarn Tastings and New Babies

Things have certainly been exciting around here. After a long and difficult pregnancy,  my sister Brittany has mad me an Auntie again. Ireland Ellen made her appearance on Monday with great fanfare.

Me and Ireland

While waiting for her arrival,  I spent some time working on my entrelac baby blanket for my cousin. I'm working on weaving in the ends as I go. Hopefully it will save me some serious hassles later

Weaving in ends as I go. Yay me!

Last night I attended a yarn tasting at Common Thread in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Common Thread is right on the main drag in downtown Saratoga  Springs, NY

 It was hosted by Cascade Yarn, and let me tell you, it was a full house.

You can see that it was tight around the tasting table.

The shop employees were kept busy with all the purchases and prize drawings

The yarn and projects were beautiful, there were some great door prizes (I won yarn and a pattern), and there was wine and yummy snacks. They also had color cards there that they let you look over and place orders from.  That was an especially nice feature.  You weren't limited to the stock at hand.

This was the tasting table. They had mini skeins wound up that you could do a little test knitting with.

I did purchase some yarn, but honesty,  it was almost too crowded to shop effectively,  and some of the people there weren't always polite enough to move out of your way. Consideration is everything in a crowd.