About shoelaceswitcher

My name is Alicia and I’m known as shoelaceswitcher on most knitting-related sites. I blog and publish knitting patterns under Woolen Diversions. Other than knitting I love spinning, poetry, books, music, the outdoors, and science.

Flax and a Finish

I’m happy to report that I’ve held true to my word to put down the phone and pick up the knitting more often, and lo and behold, we have progress!

First, I finished Pussyhat #3 that I’ve had basically done for quite a long time. It was languishing because winter was over, but I recently participated in a swap on Ravelry and I realized my swap receiver would be the perfect recipient so I stuck a Nasty Woman button on there (from Katrinkles), took a quick pic in bad lighting, and off it went to my swap receiver.

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It is the 8th month of the year, and that is my 5th finished object of 2017, and the 3rd Pussyhat. That should tell you something about the rate of knitting around here!

From my swap giver, I received many amazing project bags and gifts that are right up my marine-bio-loving alley, along with some lovely maroon-ish BFL fiber to spin. It was Hatchling-approved.

And finally, I have actually been knitting (even swatching)! This is my Summer Flax sweater for my little guy in a new-to-me colorway of Malabrigo Rios: Hojas. It’s such a great green! I was indecisive about the size, he wears 24 month clothes right now at 14 months old, and the pattern had either 1-2 years or 2-4 years for size choices. When I swatched, I liked the fabric I got with one needle size down and slightly tighter gauge, so I decided to go with the larger size, hoping that my firmer gauge will help snug it up a bit, and if it doesn’t, he’ll grow into it eventually. Length probably matters more than width at this point, so I’ll have to do some trying on when the time comes to make decisions.

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Hello Again, Friends

It has been three months since I last posted. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone yet, and I’ve missed writing here. Life has been so full and so busy and other things have been so urgent, that I’ve not often had leftover creative energy or time to post. For the readers who still come to visit, thank you, and I hope I can come back more often now.

To summarize the past three months:

  • My wee Hatchling is now one year old. He walks! He communicates amazingly well through a combination of grunts, points, yells, babbled words, and baby signs. He wiggles his little hips to dance and absolutely loves music. He charms me every day and he’s growing like a weed.
  • So far this summer we’ve thrown a big party, spent our first night camping with a toddler, attended three weddings, and gone to one funeral (for a dear great aunt, she lived a good full life and died in her sleep). There have been many road trips to Connecticut and Long Island. Many weekends away seeing lots of family and friends. And a couple more to go before this summer is done.
  • The Fiasco and I are feeling like we’re really falling into a good groove with this parenting thing. We’re much more comfortable in our roles and are being better partners for each other than we were a year ago and I am so grateful for that.
  • There have been some pretty major changes at my job which have resulted in my workload and level of responsibility essentially doubling. This has been really exciting for me (I love a good challenge), but also really exhausting as I’ve been scrambling to balance the extra work with the summer activities and quality time with my son. #workingmomproblems

Because of all that, I have done NOTHING crafty. No projects. No spinning. No knit night. No spinner’s guild. Nada, zilch, zero. I’ve been two rows away from finishing a cowl and one button away from finishing a hat and stalled out on the heels of a pair of socks since April, but these things all take mental energy I haven’t had the space to find.

However, my goal in these last weeks of summer is to seek out time for myself. Even if it’s a few minutes here, another few there, even if I’m tired and feeling lazy, instead of reaching for my phone or puttering away the time, I’ll re-train myself to use it creatively. It used to be second nature, to pick up the needles in every spare moment, but being pregnant and giving birth sucked all that motivation out of me. I don’t think it’s anything a little extra effort and mindfulness can’t fix, though, and as my baby is getting more busy and independent, my hands won’t be quite as full as they have been.

 

 

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!)