4

In All Seriousness….

I am depressed.

There, I said it.  Or rather, typed it. At this moment I am also looking over my shoulder, afraid someone will see what I wrote, afraid someone I know will read this and gasp with shock. They will point their fingers at me and cover their mouths in horror as if I have just contracted some horrific jungle disease. I am more frightened to publish this than I would be to bungee jump from the Empire State Building in a saran wrap thong. Actually, yes, let’s do that thong thing instead.

This post was supposed to be about knitting, or how much I am looking forward to the upcoming year, or how great my holidays were. I wanted to be able to tell you those things. But I wouldn’t be keepin’ it real and, as many of you know, I’m kind of a fan of keepin’ it real. So – Confession time: All I want to do right now is stuff my face with chocolate and roll up burrito-style in a big down comforter and cry myself to sleep in a dark room. But I can’t do that. I have a husband and a 6 (almost 7) year old son who depend on me to function like an adult. I cannot afford to be selfish and wallow in my self-destructive pity. Trust me. I’d love to. I’d really love to.  But it’s just not possible.  And actually, that’s a good thing.  How can I expect to move forward if I don’t force myself to get up every day and do all the things I need to do to keep everyone else healthy and happy?

dont-stay-where-you-are-quote-image

However, I am determined that there must be a way to get myself out of this d-word situation (I can’t even type “depression” without breaking out in a cold sweat). Shouldn’t I be happy and healthy too? I have tried medication and therapy (my insides are on puree mode as I confess this). They work. They really do. But I want to try it on my own this time. And I think this year should be about me. It sounds selfish to write that, but if I am barely functioning on this planet, what kind of life is that? What kind of mother and wife would I be if I was just going through the motions every day? That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s getting pretty old.

I know you’re asking me, “So, smart ass. Just how are you going to do that?” I don’t really know yet. I do know that many doctors and scientists have been touting exercise as a natural anti-depressant, sometimes going so far as to say it works better than medication. I know I feel better when I exercise. So step 1: get some exercise.

I’ve heard good things about meditation too. This one makes me roll my eyes a bit, but I have an incredibly skeptical, cynical, male friend who has actually tried it and claims it works. If he says it works than I’m guessing it’s the friggin’ holy grail I’ve been looking for. I also know that clutter, unfinished projects, disorganization in the home, can all contribute to stress and anxiety. This is a problem I feel I’ve discussed often here at the blog. I’ve been working steadily over this past year to let go, let go, let go. It’s hard, but I’m getting better at it.  I read everything I find on the subject and am constantly re-homing or donating things.  There is always more to do and I plan to keep going.  Just this morning I got on my new iPad I received for Christmas and downloaded several podcasts.  A couple of them were just for fun, but I found a few that I thought might at least give me something to think about as a way to reinforce the habits I’m trying to establish this year as I make my way to a better existence. If any of you have listened to “Good Life Project”, “The Minimalists Podcast” or “The Hilarious World of Depression” I hope you’ll let me know what you think!

This will be a long process I fear, this road to well-being. I hope I will not become some annoying evangelist or exercise freak, that you will continue to come here for more than just my boring discussions on mental health (because I now dye yarn – squeee!). But I cannot promise I won’t sneak in a progress report here or there. This summer I found out that a woman I’ve known since college as a fierce, intensely self-sufficient, strong, intelligent woman whom I admired very much, has been battling depression for a very long time. I was shocked yes, but not because I was horrified or felt she was a pariah with a frightening contagious disease. I was shocked because I would never have guessed that someone as amazing as her could have been reduced to the hopelessness and helplessness I feel every day. For her to announce this, on Facebook, to remove the stigma for others gave me the strength to allow me to admit it to myself. And maybe if I can admit it to you, I can give you the strength you need to face it if you are struggling too.

So Happy New Year to you! Because, yes, 2017 will be happy. It better be, or there’ll be no one to blame but myself.

2

Summer Mom Fail

I had a plan.

My child was NOT going to sit around inside all day this summer, rotting his brain on TV and Minecraft. We were going to do a project every day, something that was fun, but also educational. He was going to read to me consistently and do his summer bridge workbook pages. We were going to have a great time together, spend lots of time outdoors, and he was going to love summertime with Mom.

Ha ha ha ho ho ho hee hee hee. Feel free to snort your beverage of choice through your nostrils at my cheerful optimism. Personally, I suggest something not carbonated.

I thought I was so prepared. I made a huge book with all sorts of activities I found on Pinterest. Beginning in May I spent hours looking for the best projects and purchased (little by little) a huge tub of supplies. I grew to love Pinterest (remember when I asked this? What was I thinking?!) with an all-consuming passion that still exists to this day. Ah, adorably naive pre-summer me! How sad that you disappeared so quickly after that last day of Kindergarten.

We are halfway through summer and I have nearly given up. The workbook pages get completed, but intermittently. Uptown has read only 9 books to me, and nearly every one involved crying, cajoling, frustration, and bad feelings all around. We have done maybe 5 of the projects I thought we’d do this summer and most of them were fairly spectacular fails. Whenever I bring up the “busy book” it is met with promising interest, only to fade into lackluster participation.

And I am failing at this Mom thing. I am exhausted, unsure how to engage my child because I am so wiped out, angry that he seems incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve a screen and disconsolate I can’t make this summer thing work. Someone please tell me that it’s o.k.; that I will not have created a mouth-breather who still lives at home when he’s 32 (there’s one of those just a few doors down!) just because I couldn’t keep us on track this summer.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, very little knitting is getting done. But I did manage to finish one project and add a (insert sarcasm here —›) whopping 198 yds to my Stash Dash 2016 total.

Death Star 2

This is my second of these crazy pillows and it was made for a high school friend who had to have one after seeing the other one I made. If you want specific project details, you can check out my post for the previous pillow, which went to the son of a college friend (incidentally my ex-boyfriend who then married my college roommate, ha ha!).

So here’s the updated Stash Dash 2016 list (all Ravelry links):

The Joker & The Thief and the Embroidered Apron are still in rotation, but I broke The Rule of Two and added in a third project, the Summer 2016 KAL from JLFleckenstein. So far it’s a lot of fairly mindless garter stitch using yarn from my stash (counts for Stash Dash – yesssssss!!) which I really really need right now.

Alright troops. Break’s over.  Back to mom duty!

1

Stashes, Dashes & Knits

I’ve been trying to write this post for close to three weeks. A collision of home projects, end of the school year activities, a rapidly accelerating canning season, some secrety squirrel projects I’ll show you later, and just plain old exhaustion, have kept me from sitting down long enough to do anything but wolf down some food and go to sleep. Just ask my Fitbit. Except, how come I am walking close to 35 miles each week just doing regular stuff and I’m still at a distressingly sad level of fitness?! It’s just not fair.

Never mind. Summer is here!

Uptown is now a First Grader. What?!  When did that happen? Wasn’t it only just over 6 years ago that this happened? He’s thrilled to be done with school for a while. Me? I’m not so sure. Right now we are still in the honeymoon phase and there has been plenty to do. But I’m waiting for him to drop the “I’m bored!” bomb on me any day now. I think I’ve cleverly blast-proofed myself though with a thing I call “The Boredom Book.”  I’ll tell you all about that another time after we’ve caught up.

Last day of Kindergarten!

Just in time for the last day of school, I blocked Frisson (which I mentioned here) as an end of the year teacher’s gift for Uptown’s Kindergarten teacher. R. Darling was kind enough to take a few photos for me, along with a couple other projects that had been languishing, undocumented, in the closet for a while. I’m going to spare you the usual FO rigamarole this time around because I’m sure your eyes are already glazed over due to my self-important blabbing (and because I’m too lazy and just want to post this b*tch already!), but suffice it to say, this was a super fun knit.  I love how it turned out and I will surely be making another.  If you want more details on the specifics I’m skipping this time, feel free to check it out on my Ravelry project page here.

Frisson

The main reason I wanted to post today was to talk about Stash Dash 2016. You can check out the details at the Ravelry Group or at my friend Knitting Up North‘s blog here. I participated (rather poorly) last year and plan to participate (probably just as poorly) this year too.  According to the Knit Girllls, whose podcast I don’t listen to because I’m stubbornly avoiding the whole podcast thing (don’t ask me why), Stash Dash is: “….a virtual dash to use up stash and/or finish some WIPs. Crafts included in stash dash are knitting, spinning, crochet, tatting, and weaving.” So even though I participate unofficially, and craptastically, I still get some sh!t done and that’s always a good feeling.  Never mind that the only knitting I do lately is the 20-30 minutes I get during Uptown’s evening swim lessons. I mean, it could happen.

Swim Lessons

So here’s my Stash Dash 2016 list (in totally random order & all Ravelry links):

I just recently found out that I have a brand new niece arriving in early November, so I have a feeling the list will shift a little.  But in keeping with my Rule Of Two, I am currently focusing on only The Joker & The Thief and the Embroidered Apron.  To be honest though, it’s been damn hard not to cast on for some baby frivolity!

And as a special prize for your visit today, I’ll leave you with an earworm from the album that inspired the title for today’s post (yes it’s in my CD library, and yes I rock the crap out of it all the time!).

4

Still Here, Still Weird

It’s been a while….cough.  I’ve been busy.  How have you been?

Reappearing here at the blog after an absence always feels a bit like running into an ex on the street or that friend you’ve been “meaning to call”, but haven’t.  Aw-k-waaarrrd. What do I say? Do you feel awkward too?  Are you mad at me for leaving without explanation?

Ha Ha! Just kidding!  I know there’s only maybe 4 people who read my nonsense anyway so I think it’s all good.  I have lots of stuff to talk about, but I’ve been so busy doin’ it all that I haven’t had time to sit down and write.

So I guess I’ll just jump in here since it’s the most recent project that I’ve finished and actually photographed.

Yes, that’s right.  I CROCHETED A DEATH STAR!  I’ll wait while the fanboys and girls calm down.  And…. wait for it…..I finished it on May the 4th!

As soon as I posted this on Facebook for friends and family to see, I received a desperate request from a high school friend who just HAD to have one for herself. I love making dreams come true!


 

PATTERN:  Death Star by Patricia Castillo

YARN:  Big Twist Yarns Value Solids in Medium Gray  & Valley Yarns Stockbridge in Light Gray

YARDAGE:  174.4 yds for main sphere & 13.1 yds for contrast details

CROCHETING DURATION:  April 8, 2016 – May 4, 2016

RECIPIENT:  A gift for a friend’s son

DODGY BITS:  Had to rework the Superlaser portion on my own, not because the pattern was badly written, just because I’m a barely competent crocheter & I couldn’t figure out how to follow the directions as they were written. I think it turned out fine the way I did it and with the contrasting details it wasn’t even obvious that I’d changed it.

BLISS FACTOR:  8


This pattern was well written and interesting to crochet. Bliss factor of 8 because, well, it’s acrylic (not that I’m a snob or anything, it’s just not my favorite) and it’s huge so it felt like I was going around and around and not making any progress.  Anything with details added after, at the creator’s discretion, drives me batty. Just tell me where to put the lines already! Don’t ask me to figure it out myself!  Hope the Star Wars fanboy who’s going to receive this will love it ♥

1

Mojo-a-gogo 

From Left to Right: Tidbit, Leafy Newborn Beanie & Seventh

 

I’ve been busy. There’s some serious knitting mojo goin’ on up in here. Plus, I’ve been bustin’ me some stash! It’s all good at Chez Funkytown.

These little hats are for my friend at Knitting Up North.  Every spring she knits baby hats for a contest her local Optimist Club holds. I always like to donate a few.  It’s for a worthy cause, I get to help out a knitting pal, and it’s pretty much instant gratification. I’ve actually made 6 already, but have only photographed the 3 above. I mean, these fingers are too busy knittin’ to stop and take photos people! The deadline is April 15th – hint hint. Not only should you check out her blog for some awesome inspiration, I’m sure she’d love to receive a few extra hats to add to her total ;) Just sayin’. Oh and she’s also hosting a knit along beginning March 20th for the Jujika Cowl. I’m in!  If you’re on Ravelry (and you totally should be!) come join us at her group here.

I decided early on this year that I was going to try to keep myself to a strict set of rules for my knitting in 2016. Well, it’s really not a set of rules, more like one big rule.  I have a penchant for getting totally obsessed with any new pattern that comes across my radar, to the complete detriment of whatever else I may be working on.  I have sweaters that have taken me years to complete (if they’ve been completed at all) not because they were difficult, but because I lost momentum and then lost interest in going back to figure out where I’d left off.  I gots me some serious start-itis folks.

This year I plan to end my wayward habits by instituting “The Rule of Two.” The Rule of Two states that I may only have 2 significant projects on the needles at one time: a UFO/WIP that needs finishing and one new project. This rule will remain in place until I have finished all said UFOs/WIPs in which case I will cast on with complete abandon. Or something like that.  Anyway, The Rule of Two has served me well so far this year.  I finished an afghan I’ve had in the works for a year, finished Los Monos Locos socks (picture to come later), am nearly finished with a sweater for Uptown, and finished the Frisson I mentioned last time (pictures later of course). Now if only I could be this successful in reducing my winter’s worth of insulation that has been accumulating underneath all those warm bulky sweaters I’m not knitting/finishing!

IMG_2704

Ribbon Afghan

 

PATTERN:  Ribbon Afghan by Olivia Rainsford

YARN:  Acrylic in Black (Caron One Pound), White (Lion Brand Pound of Love) & Olive (Vintage Bernat)

YARDAGE:  1004 yds

CROCHETING DURATION:  May 16, 2015 – February 15, 2016

PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED:  Briefly, here.

RECIPIENT:  Donation to Warmth for Warriors (Ravelry group here)

DODGY BITS:  None

BLISS FACTOR:  8


This pattern was well written and fun to knit. Definitely pretty mindless & a great stashbuster.  Love that it’s only meant to be lap sized for veterans in wheelchairs to use.  I could see myself making another for sure! Bliss factor of 8 because, well, it’s acrylic (not that I’m a snob or anything, I just don’t love the stuff).

 

4

Let It Go

 

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in Colorado Hairstreak

I have not {gasp} seen Frozen. Yes, there might be a big rock somewhere that I just crawled out from underneath. Even so, I’ve heard the “Let It Go” song a lot of times.  I mean a lot. Usually belted out off-key by preschool girls twirling around in tutus. Ugh.

I mean the song, not the girls. The girls are totally adorable.

But even though I pretty much despise the song, the whole “Let It Go” refrain keeps bouncing around in my head every time I look at this yarn I pulled out of my stash the other day.

A few years ago I was all nerdy fan-girl wacked out over (the now defunct) The Sanguine Gryphon. The obsession was a little over the top to put it mildly.  I was constantly checking for updates, cruising Ravelry destashes for rare colors, and doing my best to bankrupt myself collecting every color I could get my grubby little paws on. If they’d stayed in business just a little longer, I’d probably have sold a kidney to keep the collection going. Can you spell hoarder? Yes, you can. It’s spelled K-n-i-t-t-y-m-u-g-g-i-n-s, thankyouverymuch.

My Sanguine Gryphon stash has long been classified CDH, i.e. “cold dead hands.” As in, you cannot even pry this from my cold dead hands. I will come back from the dead and school your butt if you even try. But the other day I was looking for some purple yarn to knit a gift for Uptown’s Kindergarten teacher and, shockingly, I decided to use a skein of my precious, limited edition, SG Bugga! When I pulled it out, I tried to look at it objectively (for once). It was a beautiful color, but it wasn’t a color that suited me all that well.  I didn’t buy it for a special project, and it had been sitting in my stash since 2011.  What was I waiting for?  The apocalypse?  I’m pretty sure none of the Four Horsemen need shawlettes or socks in lavender.  Neither was I going to need them after I died. So why not use it?  There really wasn’t a single reason I could think of for keeping it around.

So now my beloved SG Bugga! in Colorado Hairstreak, will become a Frisson for an end of the year teacher gift. I’m finally letting it go.

2

Cross-Stitches, Bitchez.

 

Stitchin’ It Up Right

 

Yeah, that’s right. I’m bi-craftual, yo. Actually, I’m multi-craftual if you want to know my dirty little secret. I like ’em all.

Before there was knitting, there was cross-stitching.  My aunt got me hooked in high school and I had one project or another in the hoop for many years after that. Something about the counting, the neat and tiny stitches, and the beautifully glossy flosses appealed to me from the start.  I know. I’m a weirdo. But then, wooly true love and pointy sticks came along and I dropped it quicker than bargain bin yarn in baby poop brown.

So what’s up with the cross-stitching? I needed a gift. And I needed the right gift.

Let me tell you a little story.

Once, I was in my 20’s working hard on my mad scientist street cred at WSU (I used to be a microbiologist at a university before having my son).  It was a good time; friends, lots of free time, making my own money, youth, all that fab stuff. Then I met the love of my life and I had to decide between a job and a life I loved and the man I adored.  Of course I chose love (wouldn’t you?!). So I had to say goodbye to that life and it was hard, but not as hard as I thought it might be.  They had a little party at my boss’ house to send me off and a surprising amount of folks showed up.  Many brought cards or a small gift, which truly surprised and touched me.  I hate being the center of attention and it was all a little uncomfortable, though undeniably thoughtful and sweet.

One of the post-docs I worked with frequently, let’s call her Maggie, brought me a little gift. And to this day, it remains the most perfect gift I’ve probably ever received. Not the best gift, or the one I loved most, but the most perfect gift.  I’ll explain.

Maggie and I worked together frequently as I mentioned.  Though we were friendly, I wouldn’t say we knew each other particularly well.  But we chit-chatted daily and shared a lot of lab equipment and reagents and buffers and stuff. One of the things we passed back and forth often was a timer.  A lot of the procedures we were running required varying amounts of time in various solutions or apparatuses, so careful timing was necessary to run an experiment well.  At least once a day I cursed at the timers in the lab.  These timers could only be set in increments of 1 minute.  Meaning, if you had a 45 minute experiment, you had to push the damn button 45 times to set the timer.  I’m getting pissed just writing about it. What kind of IDIOT makes a timer like that?!

When I opened Maggie’s little gift a huge smile broke across my face.  She had given me a timer that could be set manually to any increment of time I wanted at the mere touch of a couple buttons.  I was stunned. It was the perfect gift! It was personal, yet not extravagant or too unnecessarily intimate. It showed forethought and highlighted the fact that not only had Maggie been listening to the nonsense I spewed from day to day, she understood and sympathized. It wasn’t expensive, so I didn’t feel abysmally undeserving, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed. Truly a perfect gift.

And now I needed one too.

This little project will be a set of jar-toppers for gifting canned foods.  A mom friend I know from preschool (not too well, but well enough to meet for coffee now and then with a few other moms) just had a birthday on Monday and we have a group coffee date coming up next Tuesday. I wanted to bring something not too big or expensive, but still thoughtful, personal, and useful. We taught her how to can this summer and she gave canned items as gifts for Christmas this year.  Jar-toppers, I thought, would be something she could use. And she could keep them for herself is she liked them, or gift them away if she hated them. Win-win. As she’s a single mom with very little free time, instead of gifting the kit itself, I decided to stitch these up for her. They’ll be ready to use whenever she wants them.  I hope she’ll find these to be the perfect gift (not best, not most loved, but just right).