Friday, January 24, 2014

Guilt-Free


Last night I wrote a lengthy blog post about why I have been away for so long. I realized as I was nearing the third page that what I had intended as a blog post quickly became a stream of consciousness, getting my thoughts all out of my head and down on paper. I'm not going to make you read that post, but it did help me recognize that I miss blogging and have been keeping myself away from it for unjustified reasons.

This past month has been a difficult one for me. My job ended before the holidays and I have spent the past few weeks trying to find a new one to no avail. My days are full of uncertainty and the ever-present feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. I try to stay positive and optimistic, but there's always that constant voice in the back of my mind whispering to me about how I'm a failure, that I'm no good, that I'm not trying hard enough.

Through it all, I've been knitting. I've been knitting every day, and you know what that voice says? “You're wasting your time.” “You don't deserve to be knitting.” “Stop being lazy.” It must be my Catholic upbringing resurfacing. Feeling guilty for trying to relax. But I do it anyway because I know - and you know - that knitting is so much more than a way to use up spare time. Knitting has given me something to hold on to, a way to push that voice away that says I'm not good at anything. Knitting is the constant in my life that keeps me grounded when it seems like everything else is up in the air.

It's for these reasons that I've kept myself away from the blog. I didn't want any of my negativity to work its way into my posts and I didn't want others to look at my posts and think, “that's what you spent your day doing?” That's just projection – my own voice and feelings of guilt resurfacing. And the truth is that yes, that's what I spent my day doing. I also spent my day practicing clarinet for several hours to prepare for upcoming auditions, doing chores, running errands, networking, tweaking my resume, etc. But this is a knitting blog, so I'm going to talk primarily about what I've been knitting and will most likely leave out the other 22 hours of my day. Knitting is important to me, especially now, and I want to continue to share that with all of you because you guys understand. You have my back, and sometimes what you need is someone to simply say, “it's ok. You'll get through this. Just keep knitting.”

And so I will.

Would you like to see what I've been working on? For Christmas, instead of buying everyone a gift, everyone in my family pulls a name out of a hat on Thanksgiving. Every year this process gets a bit more complicated as we add husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, and nieces and nephews to the mix. My youngest sister, tech savvy as she is, came up with the idea for everyone to upload a wish list onto Google Docs so they can be seen by everyone else. (I still have trouble with this every year. I always have to ask my brother to help me figure out how to make it work.) This year I pulled my sister's name (Sister #4) and just by luck, one item on her list began “If a knitter pulled my name...” She requested a charcoal headband with a flower.

I have to confess - and I can't blame my colorblindness for this because it's gray – but I don't know what the color “charcoal” looks like. So I had three options, three different grays, but in the end I went with Ultra Alpaca. Apparently my other two choices were too dark to be charcoal.


I used the pattern Knit Earwarmer with Crochet Flower by Ashlee Prisbrey.  It's a free pattern that Sister #5 posted on Sister #4's wish list asking "Something like this?"  See how Google Docs can be helpful with things like this?


It became painfully obvious that I have no idea how to crochet when it was time to make the flower.  I tried four times and I assure you that this one is the best of the bunch in the way that it sort of resembles a flower instead of something I pulled from the trash.


I love this button.  I think it's a perfect fit for the project.  It did start at the end of the headband, but it turned out to be too large for my sister, so I had to relocate it.  It was still too large, though, so after these pictures, I took the button off, ripped out a bunch of the headband (nearly 4") and fixed it up so the button is now back on the end.  This is why knitting is superior to store-bought items - it's customizable.


A friend of mine had also asked if I could make her a headband this winter.  They're apparently a hot item to have this season.  I used the same pattern, but left out the flower on hers.


The yarn is Shibui Merino Alpaca in the Cypress colorway.


Then I made my brother a long overdue scarf.  He asked for one last year and I bought the yarn, but unfortunately never got around to making the scarf.  Perhaps that's a good thing, because this year he no longer wanted a gray scarf, he wanted a green one.  With cables.


This is one of those projects that once it was finished and dry, I had a very hard time giving it away.  I used what I consider to be the ultimate in luxury - Zealana Rimu DK in the Kiwicrush colorway.  Made with 40% New Zealand Possum, I have never met a yarn that was warmer, softer, or had such an incredible halo as this.  (And it has the price tag to match...)  For this scarf I used four balls and it ended up being a generous length - perhaps 6 feet.


I love how the halo of the dark possum fiber adds such depth to the cables.  The pattern is Quay by Jared Flood.  The cables were a little more involved than I anticipated, but the pattern was intuitive and I had it memorized after the first repeat.  I had to bring out the cable needle for this project, though.

This winter I have been making good use of my handknit socks.  I've never been a capital S Sock Knitter, but this winter I have begun to embrace the merits of a nice pair of wool socks.  Mostly, and you'll find this absurd I'm sure, I've realized how much warmer my feet are when my ankles are covered.  I only buy ankle socks, so imagine my surprise when I put on a pair of wool socks - with legs! - and discovered how wonderful they feel.  It's a no brainer, but somehow it never occurred to me.

So now that I am actually wearing my handknit socks, I don't have enough.  I'm working on rectifying that.


I took this picture while I was driving my brother back to school in Madison.  (Or, rather, he was doing the driving.  I was doing the knitting.)  These socks are an exact replica of the last pair I made and showed you briefly in this post.  Malabrigo sock in a simple k2, p1 rib.  These new ones are in the Ivy colorway.  I have read a number of poor reviews on the durability of this yarn and even mentioned in my other post that I didn't think my socks were going to last very long, but I have worn that pair several dozen times now and they are no worse for wear.  They continue to be my favorite, most comfortable pair.  The sock above is now done and I'm slowly working on the second one while I practice.  That's what I use sock knitting for - practice breaks.   Practice for half an hour, knit two rounds on the sock, etc.  It's a good incentive for me as it gives me a reason to take necessary breaks and keeps me occupied so I don't wander off or stare at my music stand for five minutes.

While I'm not working on those socks, I've started another sweater for display in my LYS, The Yarnery.  (That reminds me, I have to show you the other one I made.  It's the only handknit sweater I actually wear.)


Am I lucky or what?  Who could resist a beautiful pile of BrooklynTweed Loft in the Almanac colorway - a wonderful, rich blue.  It is on its way to becoming Redford from the BT Men collection.  The best part is that after it has been displayed for several months, I get to keep the sweater for myself.

Ok, enough is enough.  I actually do have to go practice some more now.  It's nice to be back!

15 comments:

  1. We do have your back and are hoping that the job situation improves. Lovely sock and love the blue of that yarn.

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  2. I don't usually comment, but I feel that this post needs it. I knit to keep anxiety and depression at bay, and as much as I know I need it for that, I too get the feelings of guilt about doing it when I think I should probably be doing other things. But some days, it's the only thing that keeps me going! I love the headband (now adding to my never ending queue on rav...), and as someone who knits and crochets, the flower looks just right to me. :) Also I love the scarf, but I think I'd kill myself before finishing that amount of cabling...

    Stay positive! I've learned things always work themselves out somehow, and it's taught me not to over-stress about the things I can't control.

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  3. I'm sorry that you've been going through rough times, and I hope you find blogging helps in some way. It's just my opinion, but I do feel that you're "allowed" to let negativity out on your blog: it's your blog, it can be for whatever you want.

    Meanwhile, I'm glad to see what you've been working on! The button is perfect for that headband, and wow, do the cables pop in that yarn! Just keep knitting...

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  4. I stumbled across your blog and I love it! I'm sorry, too, that times have been tough. I was out of work for 18 months and just (Jan. 1) got a job. It's seriously cutting into my knitting time, but I am happy to be working again and soon, so will you. As a knitting person who was looking and searching for a job I know what it is to sit and knit for an entire day. After month 4 I stopped beating myself up about it and called it a "mental health day." A day where I would just do something for me. Without the guilt or worry. I even entertained a thought or two about getting a job as a knitter somewhere. (I'm a former shop owner.) I love that your LYS does the knit, hang and take thing. I use to do that and it was fabulous for 2 reasons. I always had something beautiful to display that would spark sales and the person who knit it ended up with a sweater of their dreams. So yes! We have your back strangers or knot. We knitters stitch together.

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  5. Its so nice to see you back! Best of luck with the job hunt. Knitting break as mental health break....Anita is certainly right on that one. Toss the guilt. Everything will turn out fine.

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  6. Welcome back yourself! I went through the job search hell at the end of last year and it was horrible, but I promise it will get better. (Even though I know it feels like you'll be house-bound forever.) That scarf is amazingly beautiful. I have been wanting to work with possum forever. I'll have to start checking the local shops to see if anyone carries it.

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  7. Always nice to discover a new blog post - and I love those cables!

    Knitting is definitely not a waste of time; I'd say feeling guilty about would be a waste of time, not to mention energy. You're making use of your time and talents!

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  8. You are a knitter with a capital K which means you have great worth! Look at all you can make with your two hands. From the sounds of it, you are not one to waste time. You're always doing, always planning, and/or always knitting. Cut yourself some slack. You are a great guy! Good luck with the job situation.

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  9. The scarf is beautiful! Amazing cables. Hang in there on the job front. Things do have a way of working out. You are welcome to come to Anoka Fiber Works and knit or spin or just hang out.

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  10. The possum scarf looks amazing - I will have to look for that yarn. And I didn't know The Yarnery was carrying Brooklyn Tweed! Good to know. Redford was my favorite from that collection, too bad you can't keep it :)

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  11. Are you sure you didn't blog so that you wouldn't have to respond to so many people's comments?

    Kudos for your perseverance in keeping negative thoughts at bay. I can relate a bit; it's pretty draining. My absence from the blogosphere has had more to do with unwillingness to spend all my time staring at a computer when I could be knitting; the cold weather has given my knitting a delightful sense of urgency. Despite frequent rotation, my socks have finally reached the point where they all require occasional mending. Only recently did I get up the nerve to sit down and do the dirty work. Now that you're wearing your Malabrigo socks, fear not; they will wear thin. When they do, you can pat yourself on the back, and I will induct you into the Secret Society of Handknit Sock Wearers.

    I have yarn for a couple Redfords but was a bit daunted by the pattern... maybe we should have a little knitalong so I will get crackin'.

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  12. ZOMG, I covet all your knittiness. Being unemployed sucks HARD and I hope you get something soon. Last time I was unemployed for any length of time, I was so depressed it was all I could do to get out of bed. The fact that you're up and about and not only running errands and tweaking your resume, but knitting and practicing? Brother, you're going to be fine. Tell your Inner Sr. Mary to eff off.

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  13. I have been unnemployed for the last 4 months, and it sucks , i understand your negative feelings but i´m pretty sure they´re not right, no matter the reason why you loose your job, and i´m sure you´ll find something better.
    About your knitting, i think i envy you, last holidays i was only able to knit a shawl, i had a long list of items to make and they´ll have to keep on waiting.

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  14. We've talked, so you know how I feel about the troubles, and troubled minds. I've got your back, young man. In so much as one can have another one's back from afar.

    Everything you knit is lovely, but that SCARF. Wowza.

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  15. Welcome back Peter! It is great to hear from you! We all think you are wonderful and talented, so please continue to let us know how you are doing!

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