ramblings

Finding Self-Love through Knitting

Another ramble type post, aka me just putting my thoughts onto the screen. Hopefully it's understandable! Hehe.

This Valentine's Day, I'm going to say "I love you" to myself.

This Valentine's Day, I'm going to say "I love you" to myself.

Valentine's Day is traditionally a day for couples to express their love for each other through grand gestures, romantic dinners and flowers. However over the past week I've been thinking about the meaning of Valentine's day and what this holiday represents to me. It's a day of love, but usually that means love for another person. What about love for oneself? 

I've been learning how to better love myself the past couple of months as a way to not only combat my depression/anxiety but also to help improve my health and my sense of self-esteem and worth. Knitting plays an extremely important role in this process, and I've found a few reasons how it has helped improve my life.

1. Designing Knitwear Keeps My Brain Active

Getting bored or falling into a state of inactivity is my number one ticket to restlessness, unease and often high amounts of stress. Since I've begun to design knitwear this has become less of a problem. Designing a garment requires using both creative juices and (thankfully) easy math. One of the reasons why I enjoyed college as much as I did (which was a lot) was because I was always studying, learning and using my head. When I've gone too long without doing something creative, that's when my body starts reacting negatively. Putting my brain to work helps combat this sense of void and keeps me sharp. An active mind is a healthy and happy one. 

2. Sense of Accomplishment with a FO

Outside of school work, I rarely completed any projects that I set my sights on. I liked to dabble in different arts and crafts, but I could never finish anything as I would either get bored with it, or, because of my perfectionist tendencies, give up halfway due to dissatisfaction with my work. Knitting has been the only craft that I've taken on and I've completed many, many projects - in fact, there has only been one project that I've given up on (a sweater). When I finished my first ever knitting project (a simple stockinette cowl), I was so excited and happy with my work, I couldn't wait to get to the next project. And when that was completed, I thought to myself, "Wow, I finished these projects with ease, I enjoyed it and I have something to show for my work!" With each project I finish, it pushes me to pursue a new one but also seeing the fruits of my labor in my hands gives me a sense of pride and happiness.

3. Treating Myself to Nice Yarn

If you watch Parks and Recreation, you should be familiar with the occurring theme of "Treat Yo' Self" (if you're not, the gist of it is that the characters allow themselves one day of the year to completely pamper themselves and blow tons of cash). That episode was rather damaging to my wallet as I started to treat myself to high-quality handmade yarns. But instead of feeling bad about having spent so much, I learnt to not worry about it as I grew to realize that my projects and designs were worthy of high quality (and expensive!) yarns. Besides, holding such nice and beautifully soft yarn makes anyone feel great and I was not an exception!

4. Knitting is Relaxing

There are many articles written about the health benefits of knitting, and I definitely agree with them. When I'm anxious or stressed, knitting has always calmed me down. The less anxiety and stress I have in my life, the easier it is for me to focus on the more important things in my quest for self-acceptance. 

Knitting has given me a sense of worth and accomplishment, and I've been able to see how far I've progressed over the year I've learnt to knit. It has also given me a community that I can connect to and interact with on a daily basis. While I still have a ways to go in my journey for self-love and fighting anxiety/depression, knitting has given me many tools to help. How has knitting helped improve your life?

 

Finding Happiness and Gratitude

I really should update my blog a bit more often than I already do (which is once a month, apparently). January has gone by so fast already and my projects are flying off the needles. I released the Caprius Shawl at the beginning of the year, and it was a really successful pattern. It was a really encouraging and exciting experience - local yarn stores would share the pattern on their facebook pages and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive! I was very touched when I received an email stating that someone had purchased the pattern in person at the LYS that I first went to and frequented often when I lived in Austin, Texas. 

As you can see from the first image, it has been snowing quite a bit here and even when it's not, it has been rather cold. While this is my third time living Japan, each experience has been different and this one has provided challenges of its own. My language abilities are not as good as I would like it to be so making friends is difficult. Additionally, the majority of the people living in the village are elderly people... all very nice and courteous but the age difference does put a huge block on how you can relate to them. Going out can also be a hassle as driving to nearest town is at least 20-30 minutes... driving to areas with shopping outlets and decent restaurants requires around an hour of driving (which is also made slightly more annoying with single lane roads meaning you will be stuck behind a slow driver forever). Not being able to meet and talk to people in person and being so far away from the everyday conveniences that I'm used to, in addition to the special type of grey lull that winter brings has equated to me having to fight off depression once again (the last time I was depressed was when I was studying in France in winter of 2012. Huh).

Thankfully, I have a lot of things in my life to be grateful for, such as my husband, who continues to be understanding, caring and loving. I'm also grateful that the knitting community has a large and strong presence online and on Instagram! I've been able to talk and meet knitters from around the world. I've been able to chat with people on Instagram and through Ravelry.  Just last week, I stumbled across a blog post where the author highlighted some of their favourite IG accounts and why - and I was floored to see my name in the list! (Give the post and the rest of their blog a read! It's a delight!). Then this week, I received a small shock when indie yarn maker Julie Asselin purchased my Ngaru Hat pattern! I had been eyeing her yarns for a while and had been following her work on IG (so needless to say, she is one of the yarn goddesses I admire). While I have been working hard on creating accessible patterns and getting them the most exposure as possible, actually seeing the results slowly but surely pay off that work is still exhilarating. 

I only have you, knitters who support and purchase my work to thank. You are the best.

Lessons I've Learned While...

lessonssweater.png

I know I haven't been active much (I'm so sorry!) lately. I'm preparing to move to Japan in less than two weeks while still trying to finish up some knitting projects so that my suitcase won't be so full of yarn! But some good news before my post. My Seashell Shawl has slowly continued to sell and the photos of the Smocked Pullover was featured on the Vogue Knitting facebook page! 

Here is a new test segment that I'm trying out; "Lessons I've Learned While..." Every knitting project I've done has taught me some extremely lessons, whether it be new knitting techniques, things to watch out for or just some random tidbits that knitters could also enjoy. So, without further ado, here are the lessons I've learned while knitting a sweater/pullover.

Taking the time to swatch and test for gauge doesn't take that long

It only takes 30 minutes and saves a lot of time and heart ache later. Additionally, getting ALL the right measurements for a fitted garment goes a long way.

When in doubt, re-do it. Especially when it's not for you!

If something looks funky or off, or if confronted with the question "Should I continue and hope it looks ok, or should I redo it?", it's better to redo it. I accidentally cut the yarn to the smocked pullover but was able to catch the snipped threads before they unraveled themselves. Unfortunately I was then confronted with a choice: try to tie them up neatly and hope they stick (while suffering from stress for the rest of my life from the nonending fear that the pullover might come undone), or unwind ALL the stitches and redo them (and sleep soundly at night). It was a tough decision, but I redid it and was able to breathe properly.

Take the time to eat proper meals

I get so invested in my knitting I end up eating 1 1/2 square meals in a day, and too often these meals get spaced heavily apart. Bad habit, must break, don't do again. If your stomach is rumbly, feed the tummy!

Watch good tv shows, but not too good

Bad tv shows cause my tension to tighten (and my blood levels). Not good. However, the really good ones catch my attention so well I pay more attention to the show than my project, which ends up left on the way side (Orange is the New Black anyone?). I find that anime or nostalgic tv shows are the way to go!

Mirror your knitting

If the garment is two pieces fitted together, copy what you do on one side the exact same on the other. Don't take shortcuts. Try to keep the tension and techniques used as close as possible.

Don't stress

Breathe. Everything will be ok. Believe in yourself and your talent! Getting stressed over the little details is not worth it.