Hello, Old Friend

Whenever I get depressed, I tend to shut out everyone and everything.

That includes hobbies.

When I took a leave of absence from work, the only hobby I kept up was reading. I didn’t go out unless I had an appointment. I didn’t listen to music because I embraced silence.

And, for the most part, I had lost my love for fiber.

When I learned to knit, I became obsessed with the variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Going into a yarn store gave me sensory overload, and I loved it.

And I found that it was the one thing that could ease my anxiety. To focus on a pattern, to make sure I knit the correct number of knits and purls in a row, to not drop any stitches…

To do all this, I had to divert my mind from the panicky thoughts that made me nauseated and shaky to wrapping the yarn around the needle and pulling it through. Over and over.

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The more I knit, the more I loved to knit.

And then I learned to dye fiber and spin the fiber to create yarn. I even sold some!

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Since I had to concentrate on not putting too much twist into the fiber, I wasn’t letting anxious thoughts affect me.

Both hobbies helped me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

But I lost interest in knitting and spinning the way I lost interest in most things. And, instead, I let negative thoughts and feelings take over.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt so out of touch for so long, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I picked up the needles again.

And today, I put my feet on the pedals and spun some yarn.

Life is very good.

 

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The Best Things in Life

I made three cakes today.

Notice I didn’t say, “I baked three cakes today.” Because, honestly, the kitchen would probably be on fire right now.

I’m actually talking about yarn cakes. After I learned how to knit, I became fascinated by the process. Not just from casting on to binding off, but taking a skein of yarn…

Lots of pretty skeins at The Knitting Nest!

and turning it into a cake.

A yummy cake, indeed!

Then spinning came into play and the process started with dyeing, spinning, plying, washing, thwacking, drying, and knotting into a skein.

Our first few skeins hanging to dry after a good thwacking.

I haven’t made a cake in a while. I had forgotten how fun it is to watch the yarn swift whirl around and hear the click on the handle on the ball winder. It’s actually a bit of a soothing sound.

And since I’ve started going to the hypnotist, I’m now taking in the sights, sounds, and other senses of the world and enjoying more each day.

My homework this week is to list 10 accomplishments in my life. I think learning to knit, and especially appreciating the process, is one of them.

 

Why I Knit (and Spin)

My first socks

There’s a reason that this blog is called “On Pins and Needles.” Not only does it refer to my anxiety and panic attacks, but the title also refers to the activities that keep me calm: knitting and spinning.

I started knitting because I wanted to learn a new hobby. I loved to read and listen to music and to work all kinds of puzzles (Hello PennyPress!), but I was yearning to do something more creative. And at the time, Stitch n’ Bitch was becoming all the rage. Luckily I met someone who loved to knit and taught me how in the break room at work. I didn’t realize that I would come to love knitting not only because of the beautiful yarns and patterns, but also because it was therapeutic . . . in ways I never imagined.

One of the most vivid memories is when I went to an outdoor concert with Lee and his sister and brother-in-law. I was excited because I had never seen Ween before, but nervous because we were away from home in a venue I had never been before and there were going to be a lot of people there. I brought knitting with me to work on while we waited for the show to start.

The show was packed. At first I was fine and was having a great time, but then I started feeling anxious. I didn’t want to ask Lee to leave the concert because he was having a great time, but at the same time I felt trapped. I felt nauseous and my heart was pounding. I was dizzy and had a hard time catching my breath. I told Lee I was going to stand away from the crowd for a bit to get some air.

I found a place by the entrance gate and sat down. Then I pulled the project from my bag and started to knit. There were some curious onlookers, and even one woman who took my picture, but all I cared about was following the pattern. Knit the knits; purl the purls. The methodical winding of yarn around needles and pulling it through over and over. My restless thoughts started to settle. I was able to breathe. My panic attack had passed.

And later on, I had something to show for it: my first pair of socks.

Kromski Sonata

Kromski Sonata

Knitting isn’t a miraculous cure for my anxiety, but it definitely helps calm my nerves now and then.

Spinning I picked up much later. At first I found it very frustrating, but I was told that there would come a time when I would just GET it. And I did.

So now I can sit at my wheel and just watch the fibers pull from my fingers and twist into yarn. It’s mesmerizing, really. And Lee has gotten into the dyeing process, so it’s fun to see how his colors intertwine.

I am truly grateful that I have been introduced to two activities that not only divert my mind from negative and anxious thoughts, but that also create amazingly beautiful things.