Spinning Around And Around

Well, I missed June’s post. Oops. In my defense, I was really really busy. We, the majority of my family, decided to take a trip to my grandparent’s. It was sort of last second. We left the day before I should have posted. In all the hullaballoo, I completely forget to write something it. It would have been basically the same as May. Right after our trip, the family got some bad news. I’m not allowed to talk about it. But it’s just been one bad thing after another.

When I first learned to knit, it was because I needed to move. It was peaceful but still active. Crochet and Tatting are the same. I can sit and still move. I have to focus on what I’m doing, so my brain is engaged in patterns and pictures. With all the bad, I couldn’t focus on any of that. I’d just end up staring into space.

The anxiety ratcheted up several notches. The question is: How do I shut my brain off? The answer is easy: Spinning! I’ve been doing almost nothing but spinning for the last six weeks. I’ve been taking my wheel everywhere with me. And by everywhere, I mean my best friend’s parent’s house. Other than home, that’s the only place I’ve spun.

I tried teaching myself to spin six or seven years ago on a drop spindle with limited success. I had yarn. It looked absolutely terrible, and I couldn’t get it off the spindle, but there ya have it. I dropped it for a year or two. Right after the baby was born, I tried learning again. I did a little better, but with similar problems. So, I let it go. Until two years ago. Mom and I signed up for The Woolery’s Beginning Spinning class. That’s it. I was hooked. The wheel mesmerized me!!!

I finally bought me a spinning wheel in February of this year. I spun everything I could get my hands on. It still wasn’t pretty, but it was so much better than before. I think I spun about 3 pounds of fiber in the first six weeks. My hands hated me. My spinning is a little better now. I’m still playing around with it.

I had two bags of fiber, both from Paradise Fiber’s Fiber Club of the Month boxes. Aren’t they gorgeous?! Bloom came from June’s box. Ponyo came from July’s box. I didn’t do anything special when spinning this. The goal was to just shut everything down, and spinning has been meditative in a way that the other crafts have not.

I took just a hunk of top and split into multiple sections. I just spun straight from that without blending in any particular way. There was no thinking about it. I just had to sit and spin the yarn. One the one bobbin of Bloom, I spun it into a center pull ball and plyed from that. It broke on me, so I ended with two small skeins and a ball that still needs to be plyed. The two small skeins are about 60ish yards. I’m going to do the same with the other three bobbins. I only have one clean bobbin, so something needs to be done.

I can’t stop petting my yarn. It’s not the most even or consistent yarn, but it’s all mine. Also, after months of no productivity, I have finally finished something. Well, sort of.

 

Sometimes It’s Too Hard

I have yet another month where I haven’t successfully finished any projects. It’s taken all of my energy, physical and emotional, to crawl out bed. I haven’t even succeeded in that some days this last month; some days it was too hard to even think about getting out of bed.

I’ve been in a mild arthritis flare. My anxiety levels have been high. I don’t even know what the depression has been doing, other than trying to go unnoticed but whispering behind my back the entire time. I don’t remember where I was going with this.

Because of the arthritis flare, I couldn’t finish the tulip. The thread is too tiny. I had no desire to start working with the brown and cream yarn. I didn’t even read much this month. If I wasn’t doing what I needed then I was in my bed.

I did make it out to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival. I went with another crafty friend, or I wouldn’t have left the house. We’d made these plans weeks in advance. I know that’s the only reason I actually made it, despite how much I wanted to go. We walked around and stared at everything, talked to people, and collected business cards. It took a couple of hours, and I was exhausted. After we paused for food, we went back and visited some booths. I bought a beautiful batt to spin, an adorable needle felted rabbit who is now known as Chai, and couple other little things for the crafty stuff. I spent the next day in bed barely able to move.

The project I started is a little sling bag for an aluminum bottle I have.  I’m half double crocheting the entire thing and making it up as I go along. I’m sure there’s a pattern out there, but I couldn’t be bothered to look for one.

I started writing a few days ago, but after a few hours, I only had a hundred words or so.  I feel better, but I don’t feel like my normal self. I took no pictures of the little bit of crocheting I started nor at the Fiber Festival. It hasn’t been a great month for my goals.

I don’t know what next month will look like. I have no idea which project I’ll focus on- if I focus on any.

Otto and Ollie

March has been a relatively easy month for me. There was some early stress over a friend, but mostly because I was feeling helpless. The anxiety doesn’t like when I can’t fix something. So I made something, even though it wouldn’t change any outcomes. I felt better. Life was good. Then yesterday happened. Abby caught the stomach bug that’s been going around. Then I caught it… Both of us have been home sick today, and it’s been miserable. Abby is doing so much better; I have not. I thought writing this post would be easy, but I’ve slept most of the day away, so I’m frantically typing at the last minute.

Sara, my friend previously mentioned in the first post, started taking progesterone shots at 16 weeks. Her first child, Liam (who’s three days younger than Abby), was born a couple of weeks early. They wanted to prevent the same thing with Baby Roman. At 29 weeks, she started having contractions and went to the hospital. They were able to stop them, and she came home with another medicine to help keep them at bay. I had to do something. I don’t handle worry well.

About a week later, I discovered an article with some probably dubious science about crocheted octopi being good for premature babies. The tentacles remind the babies of an umbilical cord, or something like that. Also, they’re just really, really adorable. So I told her I was making her one. Orange is her favorite color. I found some bright orange yarn at the store. I came home with it and a new hook, because I’d lost my hook again.

I’ve tried crocheting stuffed creatures before, but it didn’t go very well. I don’t know why not. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was a bad pattern. Maybe the stars weren’t aligned wp-1490996197700.jpgcorrectly. The world will never know. This pattern looked simple. So, I did it. And, I learned two very important things. Thing 1, USE A STITCH MARKER!!! I lost my starting stitch somewhere around Round 9. The pattern went a little wonky after that. I almost ran out of yarn while I was working on the tentacles. I had two inches left over, and that was mostly because I changed how I was crocheting the tentacles while I was making them. I had to use only a small part of the second ball to make the bottom of the octopus. I named him Otto. Sara adores him. Thing 2, I remembered why I quit embroidering, and it was really hard to embroider once the octopus was stuffed. The eyes and mouth took much, much longer than they should have. All in all, it took me about 8 days to finish Otto. Most of that was waiting because I didn’t have everything I needed.

wp-1490996198078.jpgLiterally, the day after I finished Otto, one of Sara’s friends, had Baby J quite a bit early. I didn’t know this woman. I didn’t know her family. They don’t even live in the same state as me. That whole can’t-sit-still-must-do-something thing kicked in. I made another octopus. Sara named this one Ollie. I happened to have a green ball of yarn on hand, but only one. I used a smaller hook because I didn’t like how open Otto was. Ollie is definitely more of what I was thinking. I used a stitch marker and embroidered as I went. Ollie was finished in four days and it took a few more to get him mailed. Baby J’s mother loved him! I loved that she loved him!

If you want to make your own, they’re super easy, follow the instructions at this link. I highly recommend using a stitch marker and embroidering the face on as you go. I embroidered Otto and Ollie’s eyes at rows 9 and 10. I went over them twice. I started left to right, and then went back over it from right to left. All with one strand of yarn. I did not split it. I like the big bold effect. I crocheted the mouth the exact same way across rows 13, 14, and 15. I knotted the yarn on the inside and, if it was real long, trimmed it.

  • Yarn: I used Peaches and Crème in Hot Orange (Otto), Rosemary (Ollie), and Black for the embroidery. I ran out of yarn with Otto and had to use part of a second ball. I had leftover yarn with Ollie.
  • Hooks: Otto was crocheted with a 3.75 mm hook. I thought the stitches were a little spaced out, so Ollie was crocheted with a hook, 3.5 mm hook.
  • Fiber Fill:  I bought a small bag from Wal-Mart. It’s going to last awhile. I used both more than I expected and less than I expected.Stitch Marker
  • Stitch MarkerYarn Needle
  • Yarn Needle

I loved making these octopi. They were quick, simple, and easy to do. The adorable factor is off the charts! I’ve already started a third and fourth. I think I have five or six more on my To Make list. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some made in my free time to donate to the local hospital.

April is going to be a little tight. I signed up to write for Camp NaNoWriMo, though I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be working. I’m also not sure how I’m going to juggle writing and crafting. In the past, everything has been put to the side for Camp and NaNo. Not this month. Because in April, spring has sprung. I have three projects I want to attempt. Two of them are a little higher on the list. One involves wires, and the other involves this pretty, pretty yarn:

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A New Stitch

It all started about three years ago. I suddenly got sick in the middle of the night. I was taken to the ER and had a CT scan done. The doctor suspected my appendix. I thought it was my appendix. My parents thought it was my appendix. The pain was in the right place, and my other symptoms matched. The very first CT scan showed that my problem was, in fact, colitis. And it all goes downhill from there.

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But, I’m not one to face my problems directly, so let’s look at some very pretty yarn. Don’t let its looks deceive you, it’s hell to work with. But it will be so worth it. I saw this yarn and knew immediately that it wanted to be made using the Crocodile Stitch. I mean, Dragonscales!!! Love!!! I bought five balls of this. It hung out in a bag until I decided what exactly to do with it.

Which brings me back to January of this year. It’s the very early hours of a Friday morning. I’m having some serious digestive upset. My three-year-old is asleep on my bed, and I’m trying extremely hard not to disturb her, so I do what any adult would do: I called my mommy. I called her three times, and she didn’t answer. Then I called my daddy. I managed to get my daughter to her bed. I have Mom take me to the ER. I had yet another CT scan. My fourth in three years, all because of the same problem. The ER doctor proclaims my appendix to be the problem and admits me. Every time before that, I’ve been diagnosed with colitis and sent home with strong antibiotics.

The surgeon I saw hours later declares that it’s not my appendix at all. I’m ready to have the danged thing removed at that point. It’s been three years of “It may be your appendix or colitis. We’re going to do a CT scan.” I’m more than a little frustrated but too sick to do anything about it. I spent four days in the hospital, and I’m still dealing with the fallout from my daughter. When I’m finally released, I’m told to go back to my doctor if I start having problems again. Which I do…

Noticing a theme? I’m not out of the hospital a week before I’m sitting at my doctor’s office hearing, “Well, it could be your appendix, it feels a little inflamed, but it’s probably colitis.” This medical practitioner doesn’t want to give me any antibiotics or run anymore test. She literally tells me, “go home and see how you feel later.” That didn’t sit too well with me. Two days later, I’m in a specialists office and I have a colonoscopy scheduled, which did horrendous things to my anxiety. I spent the next couple of weeks in an almost constant state of panic.

That’s why I decide to learn how to do 20170204_114557the Crocodile Stitch. When I get anxious, I also get this restless itchy feeling. I either pace for days on end, or I learn how to do something new. Afterall, I did have that pretty yarn waiting for me. One weekend when I was childless (what I call weekends when she’s with her dad), I picked up a hook and a YouTube video (I’m not planning on decreasing). And then this happened!!! See it?! I have a scale!

I have decided that I’m making a shawl for myself. As mentioned above, the yarn is a pure, beautiful hell. It’s not forgiving. There’s no room for mistakes. Mistakes cause the yarn to lock up on itself. Undoing anything requires very bright light and a small sharp object to basically cut the fuzzies that are tangled. I broke into a sweat trying to undo one stitch.

I knocked out quite a bit before the colonoscopy. After, though, I lost myself in books. Sitting long enough to crochet kept my mind stuck on waiting for my biopsy results. The specialist said everything looked normal during the colonoscopy. The biopsy results came in a few days ago with “non-specific inflammation.” I was also told if I had any more symptoms to call for a follow-up. That’s it. That day I knocked out two (well, sort of four) rows on the shawl. It helped that I was surrounded by people not long after the non-answer.

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Each row is sort of two. It has the foundation row and then the scale row. There is no actual turning of the project. It’s just back and forth, back and forth. It’s going to take significantly longer than I anticipated to make. I don’t have a size. I’ll just stop until the shawl fits the way I want it. But, fun fact, it currently has a total of 190 scales over 19 rows. Also, a fun fact, my first ball of yarn had two babies hidden inside of it. Aren’t they adorable! I used a wooden spoon to ball them because they were actually too small for me to wind on my thumb.

But don’t worry, I won’t bore you month after month with my slow crocheting. I will update briefly until it’s finished, but the month of March is dedicated to babies!

Welcome!

Hello, my name is Jeff. Actually, it isn’t, I was told to say that by Sara* because I’m not good at introductions. It stems from my anxiety. I’m Hannah.

I started knitting when I was sixteen. I had a sprained ankle. I was on crutches and told to keep my butt in a chair. Admittedly, I have a hard time being still. I was active, an athlete. Chair rest was making me crazy. About that time, my father brought me home the library books I’d reserved, plus an extra one: Chicks with Sticks (It’s a purl thing) by Elizabeth Lenhard.

My dad thinks he’s funny. I was mesmerized by the descriptions of knitting in the book. The first weekend after I’d finished the book, I pestered him until he took me to a Joann’s. I came home with a beginner’s knitting kit, and I had a scarf in two hours. It was not a very good scarf, but I was addicted.

Knitting satisfied my urge to move. It became a lifeline two years later when my depression and anxiety got much worse. I was 18, and I had just been told that I had rheumatoid arthritis. I didn’t handle it well. I don’t really remember handling it, actually.

I had all but stopped knitting at that point. But, after an extreme reaction to an RA medicine, I went to the store and bought some needles and yarn. I made a scarf and then another. Over the next six months, I’d made four or five scarves and a hat. All of them were basic stockinette or garter stitch.

I intend to post on the last day of every month. I’ll show you the projects I start and finish. Mostly the ones I start, though. I get easily distracted by things. I have a few big projects coming up, and some exciting things I’ve been dying to start. I’ve also had a lot of stressors this past month. I’ll discuss all that as well.

Join me and create some peace, too.

*Sara is a very good friend of mine. She’s one of the people who gets spammed by my anxiety fueled self-doubts.