Monday, April 10, 2017

Let's have a chat about mental illness

You see, I've had a really bad go of it for a few months now. It happens, but man did it all build up the last few weeks. I'm starting to feel like I'm coming out of it so I figured now was as good a time as any.

I have Bipolar Disorder. I'm not sure what you know, or think you know about this debilitating illness. Do you think of those happy/sad theatre masks? Do you think I go from screaming to crying in the span of seconds? Well, let's just erase all of that.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that comes in many shapes and forms. Mania, hypomania, depression, psychosis. Mania is a flood of energy, it's like all your thoughts are too fast and you can't stop them. You become impulsive, you believe you are invincible, you are high, and sometimes it won't stop moving so fast and it's not fun anymore. You miss sleep. You miss being able to string your thoughts together. Depression can and will crush you. You feel hopless, you stay asleep, you hate your life. Then there is rapid cycling. There is a lot to bipolar disorder, a lot more than just feeling sad and then happy! But instead of writing it all out here, take the time to read these resources: NIMH on "What is Bipolar Disorder"Help Guide.

I also have OCD. But no, it's not about organizing my colored pencils in ROYGBIV, it's not making my bed neat and tidy. It's not like that at all. It's an anxiety disorder that has compulsions, intrusive thoughts, obsessions. It can be checking things for hours on end. It can be repeating an action over and over. There is also a lot to this disorder so here are resources for that: IOCDF"What is OCD?"OCDUK "Different Types of OCD".

I wanted to bring this up, after the inner hell that was these last few weeks because it's incredibly important to me to be fully and completely open about these mental illnesses. It is important to me to break the stigma surrounding them, by talking openly and loudly about it.

If I stay silent, if I don't yell about this I just continue to let the stigma grow. Stigma that keeps thousands of adults from seeking the help they need. And considering that People with OCD are TEN times more likely to commit suicide and People with Bipolar Disorder are TWENTY times more likely than the general population, it is really important we talk about it and encourage others who need help to get it. There is absolutely no shame in getting help.

When you say things like the "weather is so bipolar lol" or "man I am so OCD I cleaned my room for an hour!" you both deminish what a person is going through and make these disorders have a negative light to them. You add to this stigma.

On top of those things, there are many other ways you can add to a stigma or keep a person from getting the help they need. Are you infantilizing someone who is mentally ill? Have they tried to provide you with resources to help you better understand them yet you ignored them? Have you ignored their warning signs? Do you treat them like their illness and not like a person?

The long short of this is that it can be hard and tiring to have mental illness, and a lack of communication and the increase of stigma can make it much worse. I try my best to be a present and active member of society with my mental illness, but sometimes it's much too hard. I can be a downright shitty person. I always try to apologize and better my actions, but it is not easy, and it is less easy with little to no understanding of how I fight my brain everyday.

The great thing about having people in my life that do understand me and how my brain is, is that it becomes much easier. My sister will always help me manage my triggers, she will reassure me during panic attacks, she sends me cute and happy pictures. My husband brings home flowers to brighten my day, he makes sure I remember to stay hydrated and eat lunch, he asks how I am doing and holding up. These things help, until finally the fog lifts and I can do my best to be there for them too. My wish is for everyone to have a support system like this.

Please, if you need help, I urge you to contact a doctor or therapist. I believe in you, and it gets better. Click here for a list of hotlines for you to use if you need them.
Click here for more resources

Overall, things are going much better for me and on the whole I have it much better than a lot of people. I am loved and blessed and have a support system. I just felt like it was important for me to talk openly about mental illness, since many people don't know how to be there for others with mental illness, or will continue to add to the stigma, or don't know anything about disorders like ocd and bipolar disorder. I want to be the best version of myself, and to be a light of positivity in this world, and I can do that best by doing my best to be an open, honest individual about mental illness.

Flowers from the husbando, I share them with you! 

I want to end this post by telling you I believe in you. I know how brave you are, and how strong. I am so proud of you, for being you and being here today. You being here makes the world a better place. Thank you. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

I'm not sorry to see March go!

A day late March round up! Late is better than never right?

This month came in like a lion and went out like a lion, especially emotionally. Maybe next month will be better. I like April a lot.

First things first about this month! I learned to cable!

An Antler Hat  from TinCanKnits for my great niece. 

And a Classic Cable Knit Hat  for my husband! (Thanks for the pattern Jess !) 

It was on my list of things to do this year and I feel really accomplished I did that.

I finished a few other things that are worth mentioning, a Grain Shawl  for my sister, a honey cowl with friend yarn for myself, and I learned to crochet!

See? A crochet dishcloth!

I also got a huge knit picks order from my husband.

So many goodies!

And as an added surprise he got me Mothy and the Squid  minis! Deadly nightshade, industrial accident, and Easter egg! With markers!

And My Dear Friend Logan  sent me a hug cowl! It's so soft and lovely. And scraps for hexis and squares!

I got quite a few hexis done, and blanket squares.

But that's pretty much all I've gotten done as far as fiber. It's been a long month, that ended with my husband being ill for a week. I'm pretty tired.

These are my current wips:

A virus shawl, Hitchhiker , and a yellow hexi.

I don't have much else to say. Everything had been fairly miserable on the homestead. Especially for someone who suffers with OCD, and Bipolar Disorder. I've been trying my best and hanging in there.

But we did do some fun things this month.

Like go out for sushi

And go to the park

And play Pokémon Go

And I won a really cool poke ball from Zoe.Creates on instagram ! 

Here's the round up:

March Round Up:
3 hats (1 charity one)
1 softie
0 coin purse
0 pair of socks
1 shawl
5 dishcloths
1 cowl
0 scarf
0 blanket
7 mitered blanket squares
5 hexipuffs

Year to date round up :
3 pairs of socks
3 softies
3 charity hat
5 unrelated hats
4 dyed yarns
2 shawl
1 blanket
0 sweater
1 scarf
2 cowl
0 glove/fingerless gloves
5 dishcloths
1 coin purse
 27 mitered blanket squares
 11 hexipuffs

Total things knit = 14 (not counting blanket squares and puffs)
Total dyed yarns = 4
Total things loomed: 6
Total things crocheted: 4

Things out of 2017 goal list completed: 8 out of 13

So that's about it. See you next month. (Whoops, it is next month).

P.S. look what husbando bought me to cheer me up and as thank you for taking care of him! Books and yarn!

The yarn is Easter Moon Rocks and Mochi by TiltingPlanet ! Isn't it pretty?!

Monday, March 6, 2017

5 Ways to Knit What You Want and Reduce Anxiety

I have bipolar disorder. It's something I've been very open about. I also have OCD. And neither of these are the quirky cute crap you see on Facebook with obsessive dog disorder and bipolar weather. No the real, crippling, debilitating disorders.

Today, I realized I am manic. I am thoughts racing, anxiety ridden, never finish anything, believe I'm invincible manic. And because of this I have 0 desire to finish my knitting WIP. In fact, I have a deep seated NEED to cast on Vanilla Extract Socks by RizzaKnits and a Honey Cowl. Seriously. Toe up magic loop socks. I have a MIGHTY need. They're ADORABLE. Nevermind that I only have size 2 magic loop needles. I'll make it work.

But. I also have many, many current projects.

Seriously. A lot. 

But. I am a well oiled machine when it comes to mania. 

So since I know a lot of knitters have a lot of projects too, I decided to make this list. 

5 Ways to Knit What You Want and Reduce Anxiety

  1. Project bags. No, I don't mean go buy 75 more. I mean that you should come up with a set number of projects you feel comfortable working on on a daily/week basis. Then pull that number of bags out. For example, I can knit four without an impending sense of doom. So I have 4 bags I use, which means 4 active projects. Everything else?  Well, that leads us to: 
  2. The Void. Everything your not working on? Put it in The Void. A bag or a plastic tote box. Something you can seal to keep things like dreaded moths away. Things in there don't count. And when you find yourself thinking "Wow I want something quick and easy!" Go through The Void before you go through your patterns! You might find something that strikes your mood. 
  3. Notes. So. Many. Notes. With every project before you place it in The Void, write down everything you can think of! Gauge, number of stitches, pattern repeat, needle size, everything. This helps when you decided to pick it back up again! You won't find yourself ripping back because you don't know what pattern repeat you are on. 
  4. Bags, on bags, on bags action. I put every individual project in its own zip lock bag. This means when I want to pick it up again all of the yarn is together. It also means there are less tangles in everything. 
  5. It's okay. I promise. I know that sometimes you just really want to cast on some thing with that new yarn, but you have an overwhelming amount of anxiety or guilt over your other projects. They won't have hurt feelings. They understand that wacky hot pink MCN with green speckles is an attention seeker, it needs to be made into socks now or it'll clearly die. No one is judging you, we've all been there. Take a deep breath and remember you are going to be okay. You'll get to it someday, and if you don't? Oh well. Knitting is for enjoyment. Enjoy it. 
That's all the advice I really have. So now, if you'll excuse me, I have the cutest ever pair of toe up socks to knit. Seriously. 

P.S. here is a Linkity Link  to RizzaKnits on Instagram, thanks for answering my question so quickly, Cassondra! 

P.S.S. here is a LinkyLinkLink to my friend ArmyWifeKnittingLife (Jess) new blog! Go read!!! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Good bye February!

It's time for February's monthly blog post and round up.

It has been a month. That is certain. I felt like the blows just kept coming but, I stayed strong and made it through. Even if that sucked ha. How wild is the weather though? It's super warm here in Kentucky even though it's only February!

My favorite part of this month is Valentine's Day!

This valentine's day was super good, I gave out knit gifts to my family.

My sister got a with a Pussy Hat and little cabled pink cat

My mom got a blanket done in Lion Brand Scarfie, and some slipper socks

My dad got a scarf and coin purse.

The Husbando got Rye Socks , a Voodoo Who Loves You   , and a painting and new Kirby video game! And sour candy.

He totally spoiled me too.

The spoils

Lolodidit yarn in Julep and Zonkos!

Bernart Yarn Pop Cake!

And GnomeAcres in Ninja Cupcake, yellow minis, a flash your stash tote, mug, and assorted goodies!

I of course immediately had to cast on.

Hermione's Everyday Socks  in the Zonkos and Julep.

Grain Shawl in the Bernat Cake.

A project bag by my super talented friend Sarah . With stitch markers too!

I also decided not to do the one pair of socks a month thing at this point. There is just so much else I want to do this year!

We also had a great time on valentine's day because we got to watch Deadpool and make stir fry. It was a lot of fun.

I decided this month to also make a with worsted scraps and a in sock scraps. They're long term projects.

The memory blanket has 2 rows already!

And the hexipuffs are growing too, including my first attempt at colorwork!

Another exciting thing about this month is that my friend Logan sent me goodies! A beautiful handmade dream catcher in her own handspun yarn, beautiful bell stitch markers, and beautiful hand dyed yarn (and a Caron cake!) My friends are so talented.  Logan is truly an artist.

I also got goodies from Jess ! So much yarn it's impossible to picture, a hat she knit in a yarn I dyed that's just gorgeous, a new set of looms, and a ornament! Her heart is so huge and loving and I am so thankful to know her!

I also won a giveaway this month from my friend ! For a story book art journal! It's super cool and I am so in love with it.

I've actually been doing a bit more art lately, it's cool!

My sister also took up loom knitting, we craft together now!

She made this hat!

The last thing I have is that I did the #yarnlovechallenge on instagram, all the way from day 1 until the last day! Go me!

So February has been filled with love. For family and for my wonderful fiber friends group and for everything in between. I can't wait to see what next month brings. Until then, xoxoxo. You know where to find me. ( @shadowknitter on instagram!)

February round up:
2 hats (1 charity one)
1 softie
1 coin purse
1 pair of socks
1 scarf
1 blanket
20 mitered blanket squares
6 hexipuffs

Year to date round up :
3 pairs of socks
3 softies
2 charity hat
3 unrelated hats
4 dyed yarns
0 shawl
1 blanket
0 sweater
1 scarf
0 cowl
0 glove/fingerless gloves
0 dishcloths
1 coin purse
 20 mitered blanket squares
 6 hexipuffs

Total things knit = 8 (not counting blanket squares and puffs)
Total dyed yarns = 4
Total things loomed: 6
Total things crocheted: 0

Things out of 2017 goal list completed: 6 out of 14

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Round Up

As January wraps up its time for me to stick to my resolution and make one blog post a month.

It's been a good month for yarn, if a bit of a hard month for mental health and the country I live in.

I got to go on dates with my husband quite a bit this month. Some of which involved dying yarn together.

And sushi.

Rasengan, the yarn my husband designed. 

The Kazekage 

I got to make a Voodoo Who Loves Me doll for myself with yarn I love from my friend I love. I decided to make 4 for my family for valentine's day and quickly changed my mind LOL.

Pattern: Voodoo you love me? by Susan Claudino.

I am making one of Rasengan for the husband for Valentines Day though! 

I made my sister a cat instead, which involved my first ever cable! 

I also worked on a pair of socks for my husband for Valentine's Day. They turned out lovely!

Pattern: Rye Socks  by TinCanKnits . Yarn is Kazekage!!

And I'm working on a PussyHat Project Hat for my sister on my loom!

I also decided to make myself a pair of socks every month this year. The first pair, January is a bit baggy on me. But they are cute. A pair of rye socks to match the husbando!

I have so much in store for next month too and so much exciting things to do with yarn this year overall!

Here is the round up:

January round up:
2 pairs of socks
2 softies (plushies)
1 charity hat
2 unrelated hats
4 dyed yarns

Year to date round up :
2 pairs of socks
2 softies
1 charity hat
2 unrelated hats
4 dyed yarns
0 shawl
0 blanket
0 sweater
0 scarf
0 cowl
0 glove/fingerless gloves
0 dishcloths

Total things knit = 4
Total dyed yarns = 4
Total things loomed: 3
Total things crocheted: 0

Things out of 2017 goal list completed: 4 out of 14

Until February friends! Xxx

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016!

I've clearly left this blog quite abandoned. I'm sorry about that. I have made it a goal of 2017 to post at least once a month here.

So much has happened since I left that I don't know if I can catch you up. So instead why don't I just round up 2016 as a whole?

Bare with me if you read this on facebook.

My grandmother used to make the most adorable things for us when we were children. My most vivid memories of her involve fiber dolls and Christmas ornaments. When she passed, being the first person I was personally close with to pass, I was deeply effected and continued to be for years. In 2015 I had come to grips with my emotions and decided to honor her memory by seeking to make the same yarny goodness she made. Knowing very little to absolutely nothing about the fiber world, I assumed she knit. Wasn't crochet some weird new world invention anyway? My father told stories of my grandmother sitting on knitting needles and such. It was knitting. Totally.

This Christmas after closer inspection of the things she made, she very clearly favored the crochet world. Whoops.

Anyway, so for Christmas in 2015 I asked for what was proudly marketed as a "Learn to Knit Kit! With everything you need!".

January of 2016, around the 25th to the 28th. I opened the kit. Inside were two plastic knitting needles, two balls of acrylic yarn, and a booklet of three patterns. It assumed I already knew how to cast on and what a purl was. Ha.

To youtube! I watched upward of 5 different tutorials. Hours later I had some very tight stitches on one plastic stick. Now what. In true Jack fashion, I tossed it in a box and ignored it. For a day or two. But there it sat glaring at me in all its red acrylic-ness. Whispering. "You want to make things! Yarn!"

So I picked it up and gave it a go. Listen, I don't remember how exactly I got it so wrong, and I don't have a picture of it anymore unfortunately. This finished project hours later was some kind of lumpy mesh disaster. I loved it. To the Internet! I posted it on a blogging platform. I figured it would probably get criticism the way the art community online or most communities are, or at best ignored. I forgot I posted it.

Then a day or two later, I was introduced to my first taste of the fiber community. There was an outpour of support for my little tangled mess. People said I did good for a first thing! They said it was cool! They urged me to keep going, that they couldn't wait to see where I ended up a year from now! I was moved beyond words.

Now, I'm not saying I was any good for like half a year. One time I got a skein of yarn and tugged on the end like a ball of yarn. It ended up a tangled mess.

But every time I got stuck or confused I went back to that unwavering support from the fiber community. They gently took my hand and told me about things like swifts, ball winders, fiber content, stitch markers.

And now we are coming up on a year in this weird fiber world.

I have knit: 35 things. Crocheted 1. Dyed 6 skeins of yarn. Spun my first hand spun yarn (note: not very well, but I did) Learned to loom knit. Learned to knit in the round on double pointed needles and circulars. I've made a shawl. I've learned to rip back and fix mistakes. I made a blanket. I made socks, I turned a freaking heel and did the kitchener!

And none, absolutely none of this is possible without a beautiful and completely loving and accepting fiber community. I've made friends I know without a doubt I will be friends with for all eternity (special mention: Logan, Tory, Sarah, Jessica. My fiber group is so special to me ). I've been a part of knit a longs. I've seen the community call to arms for charity, give away bits of happiness in times of great sadness. And I have felt this great tug at my heart so many times, that I never gave up thanks to this community.

This is a world where I know my grandmother fit in, in all her astounding silliness and kindness and love. And this is a world I am so happy I am a part of now.

So from the absolute bottom of my heart: thank you. Thank you to my friends, thank you to the random Internet fiber artists. Thank you to my family for never doubting me and for encouraging me and giving me the tools I needed. Thank you to the Fiber Friends group which started as something entirely different and morphed into people I will love and be friends with for the rest of my life. Thank you. This means so much to me. And it always will.

Next year: learn to make cables, knit my first sweater, and 12 hats over 12 months for warm up america.

In fact, I've named this year The Year of The Sweater, and a Flax Sweater by TinCanKnits is my last cast on for this year.

Pattern: Flax by TinCanKnits

I already have the ribbing done on the collar of it! 

I'll end this by rounding up my current wips. 

The flax sweater pictured above.

Skellington Shawl using Madeline Tosh Tosh DK Cosmic Wonder Dust and Expression Fiber Arts Rainbow Love Dewy DK.

A Basic Throw from a encore chunky pattern book using Lion Brand Scarfie.

Fresh Off The Needles:

Simple Yet Effective Cowl in some lovely Backyard Fiberworks yarn I got as a part of their advent giveaway on Instagram. This will be going to Logan! And will have matching mittens!

And a loom knit hat and scarf in Lion Brand Woolease for The Husbando.

Well, that's all for now friends. Have a safe new year! 

P.S. guess what? It turns out I've been purling wrong all year. But I can purl now! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Finished Herald Shawl

I have finished, completely, The Herald Shawl. I used a Blueberry Cheesecake Caron Cake. It's gorgeous and soft and warm.

I even blocked it, it was my first experience with blocking. 

Elenvty billion pins and thank you to my sister and The Husbando for helping me. 

This project has meant a lot to me. Through brain fog and depressive episodes and Resentment and Darkness and Mixed Emotions and Adulthood.

It means a lot. I love it so much. It's like giving myself a huge.

It's been a cathartic experience. It's helped me heal. It's helped me in ways I can't describe. I know a lot of people would say "it's just knitting, get over it" but it was a lot too me. And I'm really happy I stuck with it and it turned out so pretty. 

Now that it's over I'm going to finish the partner to my first sock, finish my mom's slippers, work on my sisters mistake rib scarf, make a dishcloth, and maybe cast on my husband's birthday Honey Cowl. That is until my birthday. Because I will be hopefully going to a nearby yarn shop for the birthday and I want to buy some new yarns to play with and that will lead to new projects. My birthday is in under ten days!!!!!! 

My Amazon Wishlist ///
My Knit Picks Wishlist  (this is under the husbando's name but is mine)