Knitting for wellbeing

This post forms part two of a series about knitting as therapy.

Knitting is becoming ever increasingly Part 2popular as a hobby as people realise that not only is it fun, it’s good for you too.

There is a small, but growing, body of evidence that supports the notion that the gentle art of knitting is in fact good for mental health. The findings of the biggest study into the benefits of knitting were published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2013 (article paywalled). The study found that knitting can help create feelings of calmness and assists with stress relief.  The research also indicated that people who knit regularly (more than three times per week) are happier than those who don’t knit as regularly.

“Once you start doing it, it’s so rhythmic that it becomes a meditative thing.” – Athena Wallis

You can lose yourself in the moment. This experience has been called flow – those few moments when you’re completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. It’s a state in which time seems to stop and moving loops of yarn from one needle to the other is the only thing that exists. Knitting has been referred to as ‘the new yoga’ because of this zen-like trance you can slip into.

For those of us who are prone to visits from the black dog or his buddy anxiety bunny, knitting can help in many ways to improve your mood , as it helps the body to release dopamine (the pleasure chemical) and can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Other ways knitting can help manage depression are through: setting  realistic goals (eg by the end of the month, I want to be half way through my scarf) and measures of achievement (hey look, I’ve knitted a hat). It also creates a sense of productivity while relaxing, for example it removes the feeling of wasting time while watching TV.

“I keep photos of my singular accomplishments on my cellphone to boost my spirits when needed” – Jane E. Brody

Knitting also reduces experiences of isolation through making friends and social connections. There is always a way to bond with other knitters – talking about projects, favourite yarn and yarn shops and supporting each other through knitalongs. Going to a local ‘Stitch n Bitch’ group can improve wellbeing through the sense of belonging to a community.

Does knitting help you to keep your equilibrium? Or, are you inspired to give it a try to help manage your stress? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, Happy knitting.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Study | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Knitting as therapy – Intro.

Image shows part of a ball of yarn in a peach colour, knitting on double pointed needles and a needle case. It has the text 'Knitting as Therapy' in the top right hand corner and copyright stash and notions 2016  

I’ve been on the downward spiral of my mental illness (depression and anxiety). It’s quite possibly one of the worst episodes I’ve endured since I was first diagnosed at the end of 2010. I’ll get through it, but for now it’s probably going to tinge my writing with a touch of grey, instead of the vibrant, positive writing I try to push to this blog.

It’s hard to explain how it effects me. Everything feels overwhelming – my work, my study, diet, exercise, maintaining friendships, housekeeping. I don’t know where to begin – I’ve had writer’s block. I’ve struggled to keep laundry up to date. I have lapses of memory if I don’t write things down. It’s difficult to escape the physical manifestations of anxiety and the ongoing chatter of my mind telling me constantly that I’m a failure and a screw-up. 

It feels like knitting is my main lifeline. 

I knit for many reasons. It makes me feel like I’m not wasting time when I’m watching TV or on the long commute between home and work. I love the feel of luxury yarns and the quest to find the perfect pattern for a special skein. I appreciate the social connectedness of knitting groups, both online and face-to-face, and knowing that there is always another knitter not that far away. After a particularly stressful day, knitting calms me. Big projects, where there are hundreds of stitches on the needles almost put me in a meditative state as the yarn becomes a series of interlocking loops, which in turn become a shawl or a cardigan. 

There’s also a sense of accomplishment that I can cling to in the dark times – those quick projects where after a few short hours a stretch of chunky yarn is turned into a pair of gloves or a funky hat. When I’m feeling like I can’t do anything right, it’s solid evidence that my depression is lying and I have something I can cling to. It’s proof I can learn new skills – five yeas ago I had no idea how to knit more than a basic scarf – increases and decreases were beyond me. Now, I have plans to knit a large complex lace shawl for my future wedding – whenever we decide to actually do it. 

It gives me something to look forward to when I feel like there’s nothing else. 

Do you find knitting therapeutic? How does it help you? 

Happy knitting. 

Posted in Knitting | 2 Comments

A rose by another name

Last year, as readers of previous blog posts would know, I put myself on a yarn diet. I had about 44 kms 12 months ago, and that has now blown out to 53.

Oops.

So this year, I’ve put my hand up for a ‘cold sheep’ challenge. What’s a Cold Sheep, I hear you say? It’s basically just another name for a yarn diet. Knit from what you’ve got, avoid making impulse purchases (planned shopping at major events such as Bendigo is ok), avoid buying other people’s destashes etc. There are other names as well, but this year I’m trying cold sheep.

There’s a thread for it in one of the groups I’ve joined on Ravelry. they’ve set challenges to help motivate and inspire everyone to succeed in knitting from stash and the one I picked for January was to properly catalogue my stash. It’s done – all of my yarn stash is now photographed and listed in Ravelry which is helping me to feel super organised (in one part of my life at least!)

After taking stock of everything I acquired last year, I can happily confirm that everything is fabulous. Further, each and every skein in my stash makes me happy. There’s nothing I can bring myself to part with, except for what’s already been listed as ‘will trade or sell’ on Ravelry. It’s just making the time to work through things.

Here are four of my favourite purchases from the year, clockwise from top left:

  • Stansborough Yarn – Bofur Scarf knit kit. I picked this baby up when I went to the Weta Cave and Weta Workshop when I was in Wellington. I’m a little bit of a Tolkien nut, so it was a must have purchase. I’m thinking about knitting this one up for the husbot-to-be (although I may just keep it for myself – selfish knitter that I am!)
  • Dyed by Hand Camel Train Lace. It’s got camel fibre in it and it is gloriously soft and shiny. I also love how the base colour of the camel fibre has muted the tone to create an almost dirty-mint shade.
  • Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Solid – the final installment from the Cookie A Sock Club. I think signing up to that club was due to a touch of FOMO (fear of missing out) because I haven’t finished a single pair of socks from that club. but I will. Eventually. I put this in because it was my favourite colorway of the club.
  • Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace. Bought in Wellington, going to become a shawl for my wedding and it’s also shiny and soft and lovely. I think I have a bit of a thing for shiny yarn.

Do you have any favourite purchases – yarn or otherwise – from 2015? Tell me about them in the comments. (If you’re on Rav, leave your username if we’re not already friends so I can stalk your stash)

til next time, happy knitting.

Posted in Stash, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A charitable start

I fell off the blogging wagon pretty hard last year – in fact I lost my knitting mojo for a while. I didn’t knit nearly as frequently as I had intended. I was pretty stressed and looking back, kind of overwhelmed with all of the changes that 2015 threw at me. I couldn’t bring myself to blog, or knit and everything just ended up in a big old heap.

Ironically, facing my fears and picking up a new project and finding that lost mojo helped me to lose some of the stress and find my inner peace.

The yarn diet I went on last year – like most diets, I fell off the wagon in a big way and ended up with a larger stash than I started the year with. i kind of ignored all of that too, so I now need to do a stocktake, update my stash in Ravelry and figure out my plan for 2016.

But first, let me show you my first completed project for the year – a wee joey pouch to send  to Wildlife Victoria. Yesterday I saw a media release, which put the call out for joey pouches (link to pattern) among other items and I was compelled to cast on one immediately.

Here is the completed object, modelled by a Windrider Cub*

012815f98f5fc416b1813fb7e21ba9a65029918ca8_00001

I changed the pattern considerably, knit it in the round to avoid seaming. if anyone would like to use my method – let me know and I’ll put up the pattern in a later post. This was knit in some 8ply wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills and the best thing, gauge isn’t really a concern, because they need pouches of all sizes for all different kinds of animals.

Happy knitting!

 

 

*For those who don’t know, a Windrider is a mount from the World of Warcraft computer game.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Inaugural Aussie Cardi KAL

Have you ever heard of NaKniSweMo? National knit a sweater month. It’s held in November, just in time for a Northern Hemisphere winter. 

How about the Knitmore Girls’ Summer of Lace and Beads – held over July, August, September?

So I got to thinking – it is high time we in the Southern Hemisphere had our own season-appropriate knit along. After running it by a few friends, the Aussie Cardi KAL was born.  

The inaugural KAL will run from 1 May to 30 June 2015. For this year, there is one rule – start knitting on & finish a cardigan between the dates. If you’ve got a UFO that you need a little moivation to get finished, here’s your opportunity to get it done. No minimum amount of stitches, no patter or yarn rules and no theme. 

All I ask is if you participate let me know. 

Use the #auCardiKAL tag on Twitter and Instagram, auCardiKAL tag on Ravelry. Feel free to start threads in your groups.

Will you be joining in the CardiKAL? what do you think of the idea?

Posted in Knitting | Tagged | 3 Comments

The great Knit Picks incident of 2015

So, remember my great yarn diet? Ha. Ha hahahaha. It was stash enhancement week here at Stash and Notions and the binge has been glorious

019a28b53aeb5abae1b1f94b2f70c2351622dea1d9

Knit Picks, a ‘workhorse’ yarn from America, recently announced that they have started shipping to Australia, with an added bonus – free shipping on orders over $60.00. At first I wasn’t tempted because I’m on a diet.

Then I learned they a superwash merino in the hard-to-find 10 ply. There’s a commission project that has been in my queue for the last three + months that I had been waiting for yarn to come along. The total came to about $15. Now, I just had to get myself over the sixty dollar mark I said to myself, otherwise it just wouldn’t be economical.

In went a few more yarns. Basket total went up to about $150. Some tough decisions made and I got the basket down to exactly $75.00. Here is my haul:

0172a346eca27fb2d534b8c98036e804012ff40770Number One: Wool of the Andes’ Superwash merino – it’s a 10ply yarn, 2 balls of each, one in a dark pink (rouge colorway) and 2 balls in white. I’ve already cast on the project (details in a future post)

01abbc778a67f8fa332478b5a6ce371cee35b6695a

Next in the basket – stroll, hand painted sock yarn. I had to have this delicious variegated yarn. It’s a sock yarn of utter gorgeousness. Purples, greens, blues and teal. I think I might have a project in mind for this, but I’m not sure. 2x100g balls added 900 odd meters to the to the stash.

01a368ea3a7557708a15be93f827e9a4a770eedba1Then came Gloss Fingering – a four-ply of merino and silk. Not sure I love this colorway in real life as much as I did on screen – it’s purple, but it has a kind of grey-brown undertone that I’m not loving so much. Maybe I’ll have to trick my eye by knitting with with some colours that enhance the purple tones because the texture is divine. So soft and squishy and lofty.

Finally, two 50g balls of a teal (surprised? no) merino/cashmere/nylon sock lend called capretta. It’s squishy and I think these two balls may just be my first two-at-a-time sock project.

01881906adb0afebe26c37165ec0629f524f2f7d05

In addition, one of the lovely ladies from my Monday night knitting group, Richmond Knitters, destashed a ton of yarn – gifted it, mind you. This super-bulky colours of the sea AslanTrends Superwash blend called to me. Three skeins accidentally found their way into my bag.

0178a3d882e9615ff3f7a5260360ff95aabfdfbbb0

The end result, in the past week, my stash increased by about 1900 meters. In addition, it turned out I miscalculated my initial stash acquisition of the year. I told you all I’d purchased about 1.25 kms, and it was closer to 1.75 – 7 x 250g, not 5 times. Oops.

I’ve been knitting fairly steadily each day, but my productivity has decreased. I’m pretty tired as a result of work, and probably not eating as well as I could be. Also, study has been getting in the way! Study uurgh. This blog post may be procrastination from an assignment that is due in about 10 hours from now.

However, I have made some progress, but I think it’s fair to say that this diet is going the way of all other diets I’ve done. Fallen off the wagon and gained, rather than lost.

Stash Diet Summary – as at 29 March 2015

  • Meters knit from 1 January 2015 to date: 2048
  • Meters acquired since 1 January 2015: 3996
  • Position: Increased by 1956 meters 
Posted in Stash | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Finished Object – Achromatic Affection

More than two weeks have passed since the last time I sat down to write a blog post. I guess that’s what happens when you start a new job and don’t have endless hours at home.

My knitting productivity has also taken an obvious hit , but that’s to be expected when 40+ hours of my day are lost to the employment mines. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this new job and it came along at a point when I was starting to get a little stressed out about my personal finances etc, but I do miss being able to focus on doing things I love.

The good news, however since I last wrote, I have actually finished projects! Plural. Including my Achromatic Affection project. Check it out:

acromatic affection

Eyes on the shawl. Not the butt.

Like just about every other knitter on Ravelry, I had to knit one of these three-coloured shawls. My original plan was to knit it all in Cascade 220 Fingering in purple orchid, light grey and dark grey. Unfortunately, it turned out that the orchid and light grey colours were too similar in tone and blended into each other. I didn’t love it, and there’s no point in knitting something you’re not loving. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.

I grabbed a figurative snorkel and dived into my stash to seek out an alternative skein to replace the ousted Orchid. After a little searching, I put my hand on a hand-dyed skein I purchased long ago from the Quizzical Owl. A charcoal semi-solid that matched perfectly with the two greys already in the project.

Colour Affection Selfie

Love the shawl. SO HARD

The result: Happiness. I LOVE the finished project. I wore it to the curvy couture roadshow fashion event I attended on 7 March, and I loved the selfie I took while wearing it so much I’m now making it my profile image everywhere.

My one tip if you’re planning a Color Affection (uurgh. I HATE the US spelling of ‘colour’ but that’s the name of the pattern, so what can I do?) don’t stress if you don’t think you have enough yarn – you probably do. The pattern states you need about 350 metres of each colour. This is clearly inaccurate, as just by looking at the pattern you need far less of colour two than you do of one and three. With my tight knitting on 4mm needles, I used (approximately) 210 metres of colour 1, 142 metres of colour 2 and 250 metres of colour 3.

Having bought 500 meters of each of the original colours, I have loads of yarn left over for future projects. Hopefully I’ll find something soon for the orchid. If not, it can live in stash for a while. Speaking of stash, let’s move on to my progress on the Stash Diet and end this post.

Stash Diet Summary – as at 14 March 2015

  • Meters knit from 1 January 2015 to date: 1863
  • Meters acquired since 1 January 2015: 1593
  • Position: decreased by 270 meters

Happy knitting!

Posted in Finished Objects, Knitting | 1 Comment

Through the back loop

In addition to my quest for reducing the amount of stash in my life, I’ve committed to knitting more socks this year. To assist with this goal, a fellow knitter ‘enabled me’ and as a result, I signed up for the 2015 Cookie A sock club. This is not your ordinary sock club. In addition to receiving a skein yarn and two sock patterns, you also receive biscuit (cookie) recipes with each PDF file. Lordy.

The first shipment arrived after I drafted last week’s post, but before I published it to the web. So, I now have gained MORE yarn – another 400-ish metres of squishy sock-yarn goodness. The yarn we were provided with for this shipment is an exceedingly luxurious merino/cashmere/nylon blend from Anzula and indi hand dyer from California (USA). Cashmere for my feet! How decadent.

The colourway, Begonia, is a peaches-and-cream pinky/orange with subtle tonal variations. I’m not normally an orange or a pink fan, but as this colour puts me in mind of food, I like it!

As mentioned above, there are two patterns with the shipment. I’ve elected to work on the Pai Mei sock. I won’t go too much into the pattern, but let me tell you, it’s not overly complicated but requires a bit of concentration. After getting about 10 rows into the pattern I noticed that all of my ssk (slip, slip, knit) decreases were looking sloppy. A quick check of a ssk tutorial from my favourite go-to for knitting help, Very Pink Knits, and discovered that I had been doing a crucial step wrong.  It turns out that you are supposed to knit a ssk through the back of the loop, but I’d been doing it through the front. When I first encountered a ssk, I was doing them correctly but at some point in the not to distant past, I decided I was doing them wrong and needed to switch. GROAN.

Correctly knitting through the back of the two stitches means that the stitch of the right is the topmost stitch. Knitting through the front forces the left stitch to the top, making for a twisted mess.

After watching the fateful tutorial, I had a little vent on Twitter, then ripped out the entire sock and started again. This time, with the ssks being done correctly, the sock is coming along better. I’m 15 rows into the first leg.

01a277852e11736d3f2d9f335e200a8baadac5fddd

This isn’t the only project that I’ve messed up due to an incorrect ssk. I’ve done the same thing on the second half of my steampunk shrug, but the error looks ok, so I’m going to leave it as a feature.

shrug to the left 2.1 sock closeup

Here are too (badly taken) photos of my ssks for demonstration. On the left is the incorrect version – the bumps in the fabric are the incorrectly made ssks.  In the close up of the sock project, you can see how the correctly made ssks made a neat line leaning from left to right. Much like a backslash.

Stash Diet Summary – as at 27 February 2015

Meters knit from 1 January 2015 to date: 1625

Meters acquired since 1 January 2015: 1593

Position: decreased by 32 meters

Right now, I feel like one of those people who exercises a lot, but also eats way too much so they basically stay in limbo.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

What’s your stash?

Well, I’m back and finally blogging about yarn and knitting and all matter of fibrey goodness!

Aah, stash.

For any non-knitters who are reading this, stash is yarn that has been purchased, but it yet to be turned into an item. It waits, in bags, shelves and containers for the perfect pattern to come along, sometimes for only days, sometimes for years. Some people have rules about what is and is not stash. For some, if it’s purchased for a specific project, it’s not stash. Some say that sock yarn isn’t stash. For the purposes of this exercise however, I’m excluding my own handspun because it’s more difficult to calculate the meterage and I don’t want to be dissuaded from spinning more frequently. If it’s sat unused for more than 2 years, I call it deep stash. The longer I knit, the longer that period may become. I don’t know.

I love my yarn – I love collecting indie hand-dyed squishy skeins. I’m partial to those with silk, cashmere and/or bunny blends. I’m a self-confessed yarn snob. There is almost nothing in my stash I would part with. Sometimes, I like to just take it out to look at it and then I carefully put it back in its anti-moth zip-loc bags, so I won’t be reducing my stash by giving items away or selling them.

At the beginning of 2014 had approximately 27 kilometres of stashed yarn. By December I had increased that stash to around 44 kilometres of yarn. Over the last couple of years I’ve averaged about 4kms of knitting, which means I have stash enough to last me for over ten years, without purchasing any more yarn. And that’s not counting my fibre stash or handspun!

A random selection pulled from my stash.

A random selection pulled from my stash.

Here are a few skeins pulled from stash. There’s some indi dyer goodness from Little Dipper Yarns, some Mayhem and Chaos and some The Good Sheep. There is also some professional? manufactured? yarn from Misti Alpaca and Fyberspates on show. What you can see in the picture constitutes less than ten percent of my total stash. It is time to turn the tide. This year, I’m on a yarn diet. My goal is to end the year with fewer kilometers than when I started. It’s not going to be easy – I was given a yarn voucher as a farewell gift when I left my job, and as a result added another 1.25 kms to the stash in January. I’ve also joined a sock yarn club! As at time of writing I’ve knit about 1.25 kilometers, so I’m breaking even but am yet to get ahead. Are you on a stash diet?  Do you have any exceptions that exclude certain yarn purchases from stash? Comment below!

Works in progress

1. Achromatic Affection A genuine stash-busting project. I purchased yarn for this shawl last year and didn’t make it. the yarns I chose were three Cascade 220 Fingering yarns in [instert colourways]. However when I started knitting, it turned out that the light grey and the orchid were far too similar in tone and I wasn’t loving the result. My the original dark great became colour 2 and I pulled from deep stash an even darker grey – charcoal, almost black, for the third colour, hand dyed by the Quizzical Owl. I now love the result and am looking forward to the cooler weather so I can wrap myself up in it. The pattern is the famous ‘Color Affection’ shawl, I’ve named my project Achromatic Affection given I’m only using shades of grey now. Why not monochrmatic affection? Because monochromatic means one colour – it doesn’t necessarily have to be black, whites and grey. You can have a monochromatic scheme in blue! Achromatic is technically correct. The project has been on hold for the past week because one of the interchangeable wooden tips lost a fight with my knee and was snapped. It made a fair effort though, my knee ached for a good 24 hours afterwards! I’ve now picked the project up and estimate I’m about 85% done. Pictures to come in a future post.

2. Clara’s Revolutionary Steampunk Shrug Another stash-busting project and a KAL (knit-a-long) project! This one is for the steampunk knit-a-long and kept me going while I was waiting for the replacement needles for Achromatic Affection. I’m knitting this project using more Cascade yarn, it was a borderline deep stash find, purchased just on two years ago. Thanking past self for purchasing two skeins because I think this colourway is perfect for a steampunk project. Hand painted in shades of blue, turquoise, purple and chocolate, it lends itself to the simple pin-stripe lace pattern. The pattern is from the ‘Needles and Artifice’ book published by Cooperative Press. One part steampunk novel, one part pattern book, it’s certainly a unique book. I can’t quite believe it has taken me so long to knit something from this book, but then again, I think my skills needed to improve before I could do it justice. In hindsight, I’m glad I waited – I think there’s a wee error in the pattern where it transitions from part A to part B and I was able to correct it. The lace repeats are simple, the pattern is quite easy to read. It’s day 8 and I’ve nearly finished one half.

Summary – as at 16 February

2015 meters knit: 1296

2015 meters acquired : 1250

Position: stash decreased by 46 meters

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Study, knit, study …

When I’m not knitting, spinning or working, I’m studying. The end of my second study period with Curtin Uni through Open Unis is upon me. I have not one, but two major assignments due tomorrow (eep). As a result, my time to knit is scare.

That hasn’t stopped me though. I’m working on a pair of of fingerless mitts, using up some stash yarn. Knitting them two at a time to ensure they are the same length. Hoping for some magic a little later on with some dropped stitch action, but not quite there yet.

The yarn is Yarn Vs Zombies, Therian Base i(60% alpaca, 40% wool) n the Villaness colourway from the Year of the Geek yarn club.

014d25e0b7ef0dc7de33484760312ac9a4b517f096 01a84ca77081ca1b6d9345af09b548deb4662b312c

 

In the mean time, my next post will have to wait until after the assignment is marked. This blog was created as an assessment piece and we can’t make changes to form or content during the marking period. Fingers crossed that I pass!

 

Anyway, I best be back to the learnin’ mines. 

Posted in Projects, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment