On Mother’s Day

May is apparently postpartum depression (PPD) awareness month, and that’s an important thing to talk about. You may hear about it, but you might not realize how prevalent it is or how many different forms it can take until you have a child yourself. I didn’t know that untreated PPD is “the number one complication of pregnancy” or that in some places, 1 in 4 mothers (that’s 25%) experience it. It’s serious business, and it doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways or at expected times.

The “baby blues” commonly occurs during a period of really heightened emotions from hormonal surges in the weeks directly after childbirth. Similar predictable emotional periods occur during “hormone dumps” that can happen at a few specific times: 3 days after birth, when your milk comes in, when your milk supply establishes, when your period starts again, when you stop breastfeeding or pumping. And then there’s more pervasive depression or anxiety that may ebb and flow, or get worse with time instead of better. I didn’t get treatment for PPD until 4 months postpartum and I didn’t begin any medication until 6 months because I wasn’t sure I “needed” it. I wasn’t incapable of getting out of bed, or afraid to leave the house, or having thoughts of harming myself or my baby, or hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, which is how PPD is usually described. I loved my baby and I was happy most of the time. But I was also wracked with indecision, every emotion was heightened, every argument with the Fiasco felt desperate, I had trouble sleeping even though I was exhausted, I was very quick to anger (unusual for me), and was often on the edge of tears (not that unusual). I regularly had “intrusive thoughts” which were (for me) horrible, gory, detailed waking nightmares of the baby accidentally getting hurt in many ways, most of which involved me falling while holding him or dropping him. When I began medication, I was amazed at how much more energy I had. I hadn’t realized how hard everything had been before until it was suddenly much easier. And that’s how insidious depression can be.

And let’s not forget: fathers can experience PPD, too. There are studies that show that hormones change for new fathers as well, and regardless of hormones, it’s a huge life event combined with sleep deprivation, figuring out new roles, changing relationships, having little time to clean or cook or eat, juggling job pressures, and a tiny crying ticking time bomb who will need things from you at any given moment in a more urgent and complete way than anybody has ever needed you before. That’s a lot of stress, and for some fathers it can trigger depression or other latent mental health issues just as with mothers.

So this Mother’s Day, hug a parent. Ask a new mom how she’s holding up, feed her some dinner, hold her baby while she showers, tell her she’s doing a great job, tell her everything will be ok, tell her to trust her instincts, help her find other new mom friends, send her to her doctor, suggest therapy if she can’t fall asleep when the baby sleeps, and check in with her over and over again. Ask a new dad, too. Tell him he’s doing just fine. Tell him the roles will sort themselves out, and if they don’t, counseling can help. Tell him he is loved and needed. Be there, listen, and ask questions. People don’t always ask for help when they need it most, so let them know you’ve got help to offer.

This went deeper than I expected it to, but there you have it. I’ll end on a lighter note, with a poem I wrote that was inspired by my beautiful boy and by a quote that I’ve heard many times but read most recently on the Yarn Harlot’s blog.

Oh Walking Heart

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

this is so true and because it’s so true i must proclaim in all caps that THIS IS SO TRUE and it’s something i hadn’t realized before. oh my god you tiny perfect incredible being you are my heart, my soul, my love made visible and tangible and vulnerable as the wee bundle of cells you once were in my uterus but now you’re outside, a crawling babbling kissing loving dancing growing galaxy of cells with your own wants and opinions and needs and likes and it is incredible so incredible to see your world develop to see you learn and watch you watch me watch you become a toddling little boy, child, teenager, man. to know that one day you will sometimes hate me and hurt me and probably leave me when right now i hold you and soothe you and rock you is so scary and so normal and so much a part of the deal along with fear, the insidious undercurrent in this ocean of love. because now, after our first mother’s day and before your first birthday, your first steps, your first words, your first day of school, your first test, your first fight, your first car, your first graduation, your first wedding dance, your first day of fatherhood– now, when you’re about to learn how to literally walk away from me carrying all of my desperate love and fervent hopes with you, now i can proclaim that THIS IS SO TRUE while i keep singing lullabies to soothe the glittering remnants of my old yearning heart.

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It’s That Time of the Month

No, not that time, but the apparently once-a-month occurrence of my carving out a minute or two to blog. Honestly, it’s not even a lack of time, but a sheer lack of energy. If I do get time when I’m not working or chasing my little speed-demon crawler or doing things around the house, I just want to collapse and veg out. I don’t always have enough spoons to be organized and creative and interesting. But enough apologizing! Lack of spoons has not meant a lack of yarn in my life, so let me tell you about it.

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Verdant Gryphon goodies

A couple of blog posts ago, I yammered on about Verdant Gryphon closing down. While it’s true that Gryphon herself has left VG, it appears that VG is in fact actually still producing yarn, despite word-on-the-street (a.k.a. Ravelry) being that they were not going to be doing so. Before I knew that, I made one last-ditch acquisition of my two favorite bases: Zaftig (grey, worsted weight MCN) in November Moonlight and Codex (black/green/blue, light worsted BFL/silk) in Verdant Love. For the sake of my wallet, I’m going to just go ahead and pretend like they really did shut down because I could spend entire paychecks on this stuff…

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VG Zaftig in Burying Beetle, click for project page

Guess how many years I’ve been hoarding that lovely little number in my stash? FIVE. FIVE FLIPPIN’ YEARS. I acquired it in 2012, so excited to use it, but it was too pretty, I was too indecisive, and there it sat. I finally found the perfect pattern for it, though: Sky Boat Cowl designed by Judy Marples. The cowl has so much wonderful texture, plays really well with the variegated colorway, and should be just long enough with the two skeins that I have. This I know because another cowl I knit from two skeins of Zaftig is one of my all-time favorites to wear. I’ve been monogamous to this cowl and haven’t knit anything else since I started it about 3 weeks ago. (The photo above is misleading, as I’m over halfway done now.) I’ve been working on it while I’ve thrown myself into the second season of Outlander on DVD, so it’s really felt like the perfect thing to knit lately  (the cowl was inspired by the poem adapted in the theme song to the show, as Judy blogs about here). I could watch that show and dream about a completely romanticized historical Scotland forever. Except I’d miss spending time with this toothy guy:

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❤  ❤  ❤

In some Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe news, a happy customer and fellow knit-blogger has featured my products in the ‘Monday Makers’ post on her blog, as one of a few excellent gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Check it out if you can. Thanks for the love, Jeannie!

Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

WIPWed #125: Back to Socks

I’m starting to feel more like my old crafty self again: I have an active pair of socks on the needles!

Waiting for Hatchling

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering, colorway Royals. Click for project page.

I have been trying to turn the above yarn into socks since before my wedding and honeymoon in 2014. (Yikes!) I knit an entire plain stockinette sock that I then had to frog because it was too small. I did not account for the fact that BFL has less stretch than Merino wool and I should’ve increased my cast on more. This time, I’m using a pattern with texture and ribbing (Aramis by Caoua Coffee) and cast on more stitches which should loosen things up. I started these while I was pregnant but my hands and joints were always tired and sore then and I hated fiddling with the small needles. Things feel back to normal now, though, so here’s hoping I get to actually wear these socks someday soon!

Wine Toasts

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage. Click for project page.

These are super simple armwarmers that I’m making extra big and toasty to wear with  3/4 length sleeve sweaters in my chilly office. I am currently in a game of yarn chicken with the deep wine colorway. A friend of mine has a backup skein if this one is not enough, which is a good thing because it appears that The Verdant Gryphon is no more. Gryphon herself is now living and working on a commune with her daughter, and the people she left the business to were not able to keep it going. I feel like a chapter of my knitterly life is ending! I’ve been deeply in love with VG yarns since I discovered them in 2010, when they were still teamed up with Cephalopod Yarns as The Sanguine Gryphon. My first skein was Bugga in the Cowkiller colorway that I knit up into one of my favorite shawls.

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This was 5 apartments ago… ha!

Looks like I’ve always had a thing for Gryphon’s reds. Sigh. As with CY, VG yarns will be missed, but man am I glad I have a nice stash to sustain me for a while. #justified

Tropical Merino

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun project page.

I started spinning this fiber way back in 2014 as well (wow, have I completed anything in the last 3 years!?) on a tiny Turkish spindle. Even though the Women’s March on Washington is over, I’d still like a Pussyhat of my own (I donated the others) and since I am out of pink yarn, I figured I’d make some. To speed up the process, I’ve also started spinning this fiber on my wheel and on my new Bosworth Mini spindle. The singles are very thin so I’m thinking I’ll 2-ply and then chain ply that 2-ply yarn to get a bulkier 6-ply. We’ll see how that works out!

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Current reading.

I haven’t tracked my reading in a while but since I’m finally starting to read things OTHER than parenting-related, get-my-kid-to-sleep, what-should-his-poop-look-like type books, I figured I’d share. And since the March for Science has got me all fired up, I’m doing some science-y reading for fun. (Because #scienceisreal! It’s not made up! Experts know what they’re talking about! The world around us can be understood!) This book is all about the different forms that sexual reproduction takes within the animal kingdom, so that should be fascinating. It’s refreshing to read a work written just because the author was curious about something, so they went and researched and figured it out.

What have you been reading these days? Linking up for the first time in a LONG time with Yarnalong.

Spindle Happy

Goodness knows I have an abundance of spindles. (Remember that time I thought I’d clear all my spindle spinning projects off in the few months I had before the baby was born? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m so funny.) But when I learned that Journey Wheel (a.k.a. the makers of Bosworth spindles) were going to be at the Knitting Weekend market, I knew without a doubt that I’d be adding to my collection.

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My new friends.

Bosworth drop spindles are among the best of the best. They’re prized by some of the most prominent spindle spinners in the business, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, perfectly balanced, and have a long, smooth spin. I’ve been wanting one for a long time but have been reluctant to order online because I didn’t know how to tell which one I wanted based just on a description of the size and type of wood. I really needed to see them in person and actually try a few out. Some I liked the look of didn’t spin as nicely as I wanted. One of my spinner friends was right when she said you have to find one that clicks for you.

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Blurry pic of the Midi spindle and Rag Hill Fiber batt.

I first clicked with a Midi size spindle made from Monkeywood. (I admit, I half picked it on name alone.) I purchased a batt from Rag Hill Farm(we’ve vended with them a few times, they’re lovely people!) and started spinning then and there. I’ve been using this batt to practice plying on the fly, and it’s been a lot of fun turn fiber into 3-ply yarn at once, instead of spinning it all into singles, winding it all off, then plying it in a separate step. (Google it, there are lots of videos out there.) Then I came home with a second spindle the next day (a Mini in Heart Pine reclaimed from the roof of an 18th century cabin) because how am I expected to hang around the pretty spindles and chat with the friendly and kind Bosworth couple without buying another?

All in all, it was an excellent show, preceded by a flurry of activity to prepare for it (and to meet some work deadlines) so I’m looking forward to spending my birthday (today!) going out to dinner and relaxing with my Fiasco. My parents are visiting this coming weekend, which should be fun, and I’m planning to spin with my new pretties every second that my hands are baby-free thanks to grandparent occupation.

(Have no fear, all the leftover product from the show will be updated to the shop over the next few days. Just not tonight!)

Sweet Sheep O’Clock

We’ve been working ’round the clock over here to prepare for a big event this weekend where Sweet Sheep will be vending. We did this marketplace last year, and it was pretty amazing. And the year before, I attended the classes, which were really great. I’m talking about Knitting Weekend, part of the Trad Arts Studio programming at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

knitting-weekend-2017-palm-card-front-96dpi-web-e1477511253609And we really have been going out of our minds making enough lotions, lip balms, and sheep-shaped soaps to sell at the two-day event. Last year we underestimated what we needed, hopefully this year we’ve overestimated! Major props to the Fiasco, who has been doing much of the production while I’ve been working crazy deadlines and wrangling the resident Hatchling. (Turns out, kids really suck up all your usual side-business time!)

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Who, meeeeeeeeeeee?

Bonus: if you come to the marketplace on Sunday, you’ll get to meet the little guy! It’s crazy to think that at the last show, I was pregnant. 0_O I’m much happier with my buddy on the outside, even if he is teething at the moment and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours in a row at night. (#teetharetheworst)

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Pussyhats, finished.

In other news, my pussyhats have left the building. It turned out that one of my coworkers was heading to the march in D.C. with her daughter, which is pretty awesome. I was happy to donate hats to the cause but I’m even happier that I know the awesome ladies who will be wearing them. I used the KitKat pattern by Andre Sue for mine (I much prefer to work in the round). The hot pink hat is in Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Cactus Flower) on size 10 needles with a 68 st cast on, my old standard for a quick chunky hat. The pale pink version is in a new-to-me yarn: Blue Sky Fibres Woolstok in Quartz Crystal, that I picked up at The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford (#shoplocal). For this second hat, I held the yarn double and used size 9 needles and a 72 st cast on. I really liked the yarn, it’s a thin worsted weight 2-ply wool that has a bit of a rustic feel, and lots of energy when knit held double. Both hats fit really well. I recommend doing the little stitch in the middle of the ‘ears’ to make them look more ear-like, as this pattern suggests. I did so after I took the photo of me wearing it and I liked it much better.

March on, sisters, and I hope I see some of you this weekend!

Pussyhats, Ahoy!

By now, you’ve probably heard about Donald Trump’s alarming enthusiasm for grabbing women inappropriately and without their consent. It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of blatant misogyny, and the Women’s March on Washington is a demonstration against this lack of respect for women’s rights and the rights of other marginalized factions of society.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

If you are unable to attend the march in D.C. for whatever reason, there are over 280 regional sister marches, as well. If you can’t make any of the marches, there’s another way to make your support known.The Pussyhat Project is aiming to collect over a million handmade pink hats as a show of solidarity and support for women’s rights. It’s even causing a pink yarn shortage.

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As a woman who believes she matters just as much as any man, this election cycle has been ridiculously hard to watch. I’m sure for others who live in fear of half of their own countrymen and its imminent leader, it’s been even harder. Some people think that we ‘bleeding heart liberals’ should just ‘get over it’ and get behind our new president, and those people are frankly missing the point. We are not protesting our future leader because of some vaguely laid-out political plan or long-held bipartisan views. We are protesting him for his blatant lack of respect for the majority of human beings in this country. I, personally, am horrified by his lack of due diligence in understanding international and environmental affairs, his lack of level-headedness in speech and manner, and his disregard for science and the education. I am worried about the kind of damage that a scientifically illiterate person can do in a place of power at this point in our planet’s climate history. Our society’s future is nothing without a firm grasp of science and appropriate education and based on his ignorant tweets, he just doesn’t get it. Even worse, he is surrounding himself with inadequate advisors and lashing out at individuals who oppose his false statements.

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Such a meta pussyhat.

And so I knit a couple of hats. I’m demonstrating in the most personal way I know right now that I support the rights of all people, of women, of myself. I am important, in and of myself, and not through the lens of men. Much of the societal shame surrounding overweight people is a perceived lack of sexual attractiveness to men. We are told we shouldn’t take up so much space. We should look a certain way. We shouldn’t be loud. We should always seem happy. We should always look pretty. We should sit back and let the men take care of business.

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Future feminist (and maybe knitter!)

If we take up space, if we make our presence known, if we show our anger, if we ignore societal standards of beauty, we are disregarded or attacked. If we take charge and excel at our jobs, we are called ‘nasty women’. If we get pregnant, our identities shrink to fetus-carriers. We are encouraged to have those babies (no birth control, but also no abortions), and then are further marginalized once they’ve arrived (no maternity leave, no affordable child care, no health services for the poor). There are so many things wrong with society’s treatment of women, and so much of it is subtle and ingrained that it’s almost a reflex. We need to learn to recognize everyday misogyny (locker room talk), and fight it.

It’s not the only issue and it won’t solve problems on its own, but in solidarity and hope, I’m making some hats.