Category Archives: Panic Monster

Lists are Calming – My Favorite Authors From A to Z


Dear Panic Monster,

You may have my attention after a particularly rough day, but I think I have you beat. It started with part of my oven falling on my hand that ended up with me in the Emergency Room – hyperventilating. My hand is all better, stuck full of drugs and relieved of it’s swelling it is the only thing that feel alright right now. OCD sucks, I know there are worse things but I will be damned if I can think of them right now. Thank God for Dragon Dictate. So, to calm my troubled mind here is a list of my favorite authors from A to Z.

Ah…sweet release. Just thinking about ole curmudgeonly Maugham makes me feel so much better! I never noticed that my authors are almost exclusively male and I find that rather odd, maybe it is time to give some female writers a bump on my “to read” list.

So friends and neighbors, do you have any favorite authors? The ones that make your toes curl, your heart race or quite your mind? If so, I am dying to know!

Your Mood & Your Gauge – A Psychological Study


– Not to sound desperate but Please Read This: I need input! –

The panic monster in my head started screaming at me one dreary morning this week, it was a litany of “you swatched this, why can’t you do anything right?” and “do you even know how to knit”. Well Panic Monster, I did a little study and proved that you are seriously messing up my knitting.

The back story to this diatribe is that a few weeks ago I designed a pattern for a baby blanket. I swatched, double checked, changed sizes to accommodate my misbehaving hand and put it aside knowing it would be ready when I went to cast on. So on Monday I did just that, I proceeded to cast on a whopping 244 stitches and went full speed ahead fully intending on pumping out this blanket. To my horror, the blanket felt stiff and tight. No longer was this the soft, airy, loose baby blanket I had envisioned, honestly the silly thing felt more like a rug than a blanket. I doubled checked all my notes and my swatch, I was doing exactly what I had planned. No deviation from the original swatch. So what happened?

The psychology major in me (one of my many degrees screams my OCD, type-A rattled mind) decided that my hand was not to blame for this one, my brain was the culprit. When I originally did my swatch I was relaxed; the weather was beautiful so the windows were open, I was as well rested as I get and Max was curled in my lap mesmerized by the yarn moving inches from his face. All was good in my brain the day of the swatch. On Monday, the day after Mother’s Day, I still felt emotionally hung over from once again not being a Mom. I was tense, upset, hadn’t slept well and had consumed copious amounts of caffeine. You can guess what comes next.

My Panic Monster was messing with my knitting.

I frogged the blanket and did another swatch, appalled by the fact I needed needles two sizes bigger to achieve the same effect. For all you non-knitters out there, two sizes is a huge difference – just picture needing shoes two sizes bigger. Two sizes…what are you supposed to do with that? and how much of this has affected my other knitted items? I have never noticed a finish product looking awkward or clunky, so how do you proceed?

Well, there are sedative….Just kidding. Kind of. You’ll see.

I spent the week doing the same swatch while experiencing the following emotions: Exhaustion (up for more than 19 hours), Happiness, Calmness, Sedation (a happy little pill to calm the Panic Monster that I rarely use, but after Mother’s Day I was a mess for several days) and Extreme Anxiety. I would come back to my needles during these emotions, knit the original swatch and then proceed to correct it with the appropriate needles. The results were a tad jarring.

Swatch: 10rows by 10rows should be 4″ by 4″ on size 7 needles.

  1. Exhaustion: Swatch was 5″ by 5.4″. Desired swatch size had to be changed to size 6 needles with increase in tension.
  2. Happiness: Swatch was 4″ by 4″. No changes necessary. Also no surprise.
  3. Calmness: Swatch was 4″ by 4.6″. Only slight correction in tension needed.
  4. Sedation: Swatch was 6.2″ by 8.7! Changed to size 5 needles rendered a product of 5″ by 5.4″. Changed to size 4 needles 4.1″ by 4.2″. Once tension was correct the product was 4″ by 4″.
  5. Extreme Anxiety: Swatch was 2.8″ by 3.1″. Change to size 9 needles resulted in 3.9″ by 3.8″. Consideration with tension and yet another swatch led me to size 10 needles which was 4.1″ by 4.1″.

I am rarely sedated so I’ve dismiss this as a duh! moment, if you are fuzzy and loopy of course your knitting isn’t going to be tight. That’s why it’s not a good idea to knit while drunk, one of the many good ideas :). It was the Extreme Anxiety swatch that scares me; as I move my knitting to sweaters, shrugs and socks my anxiety could produce a product that is never going to fit right. How can you correct for the Panic Monster?

What I have noticed is that my knitting relaxes me. So I asked a nurse at work to watch my vitals during a panic attack; everyone I work with already knows about my Panic Monster and I have never felt ashamed of it. Thank God for nurses, oh hell, hospital staff in general. Nothing surprises them. Anyway,  after about 20 minutes of straight knitting I am calmer, my heart rate slows and my blood pressure drops. So I have come to the conclusion that I need to be knitting something simple for about 20 minutes before moving on to the more complex, more complicated types of knitting to ensure that my gauge is correct. I am going to have to do the same thing before I swatch a pattern out so that I can avoid more frogging.

Yowzer. What a week.

So, friends and neighbors who manage to get through my ramblings I would like to ask a few questions. Have anything like this happened to you? Do you find that your swatches can vary from one day to the next? How do you work through the process of ensuring that what you are knitting will be the exact shape and size that it needs to be?

Stitch Pattern Week 9 & Expanding the Store


Drumroll please….Here comes Stitch Pattern Week 9! The Linen Stitch!

The Linen Stitch

The Linen Stitch

This week has seemed ridiculous, it just won’t slow down! I feel a tad bit guilty doing the Linen Stitch because I use this all the time. With a little Sugar and Cream yarn this makes the perfect face cloth! I probably have a dozen of these in my bathroom closet and use them everyday. I love the idea of being able to use something I make on a daily basis, I also love that the things that I make will always outlast anything that I can buy in a big box store. These are so simple to knit up and they never die! If they start to look a little grungy I just put them in with the cleaning rags and they get to live another life. They are also excellent for polishing silver, don’t ask me why…just one of the great things about knitted stitches!

Alright GG, it’ll be a quick on today won’t it?

co odd – Cast on any number of Odd Stitches (Aces!)

r1 cor k then  sl yth k, rep – Row 1: (RS) K1 *Sl1 wyif, K1; rep from * to end of row. (I think the yarn towards heart (yth) is really starting to grow on me.)

r2wrg k p  then slp away k rep til end k – Row 2: (WS) K1, P1 *Sl1 wyib, K1; rep from * to last stitch, K1 (The wrg caught me a little off guard but like I said, I know this stitch backward and forward. I wonder if other women she knitted with wrote patterns like this?)

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– Expanding the Store –

I have spent the majority of my day so far right here, in front of my computer feeling my shoulders slowly inch towards my ears. I have added more items to my Etsy store and although they are items I fully back on every front, they are…dull. Dish cloths friends and neighbors, I am selling  dish cloths. I want to say that I know that these little babies will last forever, they are so strong and resilient to anything. Anyone who has every knitted with Sugar and Cream knows that it won’t die. I even reenforced the edges to ensure that the corners were double knitted just so the chance of them unraveling will never…ever happen. But who will buy these? My Panic Monster keeps telling that this too boring to try sell, even if the product is incredibly well made. My great grandmother mades these more than 20 years ago and they are still around, I hold myself to the incredibly high standards she set. That nagging fear of failure is still tapping on my shoulder, insisting to be be heard.

So what do you do when you’re stressed out about knitting? Stress out about photos instead!

So what’s going on friends and neighbors? What do you think about the success/failure of selling/buying certain items of Etsy and do you think if you’re a knitter you’d look at it differently?

Stitch Pattern Week 8 – Dreams & Fears


Well friends and neighbors, it’s that time again! Let’s see what GG could work out for us this week. I humbly present to you Stitch Pattern Week 8- The Daisy Stitch.

Hello Daisy

Hello Daisy

If you follow this blog, you’ll recognize the daisy stitch from the Hinagiku Hat that was posted a few days ago. I liked the pattern so much – and found it in GG’s patterns – that I went out and bought some ridiculously (for me) expensive pure eco cotton and made bath mitts! The green was so fresh and vibrant that is screamed spring at me, and knitting it was like going back to an old friend. Knitted in the round, the daisy stitch twisted and turned as if on its on accord. It was made to be big enough to fit comfortably over your hand so you can scrub till your heart’s content. I’m kinda in love…. 😉

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Wanna see GG’s written Pattern? No worries, it will be anxiously waiting for you at the bottom of the page.

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-Dreams-

This week I opened an Etsy store, made a Facebook Fan Page, and barely managed to keep my head on my shoulders. It has always been a dream of mine to open a little shop full of handmade goodies. I never had dreams of making loads of money, not that it wouldn’t be a good thing, but of having things I created put to use in other people’s homes. These items are near and dear to my heart, everything made with love and care but also with the memories of generations of knitters behind it. My GG’s dish cloths are still in use today and she passed on almost 20 years ago, but every time I pull one of her dish cloths out I think of her. The wonder of turning a strand of yarn into something purposeful and beautiful is still remarkable to me. I always wanted to share that with people.

-Fears-

The downside to trying to bring your dreams into the light is that there is that looming sense of dread that you will be a complete and utter failure. Take for example the expensive Etsy kit I bought. I loved it when I saw it, the designer did an amazing job and did exactly what I asked for. But I don’t like it. It doesn’t resonate as something I thought my store was about and now there is that shadow of doubt hanging over my head.

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The panic monster in my mind has been screaming at me the past two days, it has invaded every thought and every action with its annoying chatter.

Me: This is a good start.

Panic Monster: Not good enough.

Me: This is really well made, took a while but still something I would use or give as a present.

Panic Monster: Took too long, could be better. SHOULD be better.

Me: So the Blog following and Facebook pages will take a while to grow, that’s how it should be.

Panic Monster: Nobody is going to bother with your sill websites, they look like crap!

Me: So what if   I haven’t gotten a blogging award, it’s only been eight weeks! Time  and patience and keep working hard, it’s the way things are done when done correctly!

Panic Monster: Never gonna happen, duh! You suck, your writing since college has gone down the tube and nobody gives a crap for a sub-par arthritic knitter. Don’t quit your day job loser.

This is pretty much how it has been going in my overly anxious mind. My OCD and panic monster are chopping at the bit to remind me that, guess what? there are things you CANNOT DO! Oh well live and learn and then get a big bat to smash the panic monster to bits and pieces.

There are so many wonderful, award-winning blogs that have introduced me to the talent and creativity that is out there. How could I possibly compete with that? Some have views in the six digit category and some have hundreds (if not thousands) of followers. So yes, it is intimidating to put yourself out there. I am just going to have to remind myself (and my panic monster) that I love what I am doing. Worse comes to worst and I never sell a thing and no one ever reads my blog again, I will have gifts for the next ten years to give and I will always love writing.

GG, Papaw, my husband and Max would be proud.

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GG’s Stitch Pattern vs. The Real Deal

-The Daisy Stitch-

(No cast on number…hmm….good start GG. Good start!)

odd k – Rows 1 and 3 (RS): K (Good, Good.)

r2 k1,p3together,ya,p3together –Row 2: K1 *p3 tog and don’t drop them off the needle, yo (wrapping yarn completely around needle), p same 3 together again and drop them, k1; rep from * (At first I really thought that I was going to end up with no stitches left on my needles until I visited my Hinagiku Hat pattern and figured this out. Thank goodness for the internet)

r4 kpk-p3together,ya,p3tog -Row 4: K1, p1, k1 *p3 tog and don’t drop them off the needle, yo (wrapping yarn completely around needle), p same 3 together again and drop them, k1; rep from *, end p1, k1 (Again, thank you ol’ in-tra-net (my grandfather loved to say this just to bug the living he!! out of me) you’ve saved me loads of frogging. As for you GG, I wish you were her so I could take you to town for this!)

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Well my ramblings have gone on far too long, I hope you enjoyed what you’ve seen or read, and thank you for visiting. To pose a question; Where did you get the inspiration/ know-how to make all of your blogs look so lovely? so functional? so…inviting? You’re all inspirations to bloggers at any level!

 

Hello Hinagiku Hat!


Spring has sprung here in the Buckeye State and I am loving every moment of it. Sitting out outside, watching the birds frolic amongst the bird feeders and the cloying sweet smell of freshly cut grass. Heavenly. With a new-found confidence that I will not allow either the panic monster or my arthritic hand from stopping me from doing what I love to do, so I pick up my needles and cast on. Hoping for the best.

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With circular needles in hand, I went on a hat making mission. Perhaps this is because of my miserable horror of making a pair of socks; I have the yarn, the needles, the pattern and overwhelming fear of failure! Out of misery came hats, so it can’t be all bad!

Max's New Favorite Hat!

Max’s New Favorite Hat!

The pattern came from Ravelry user 87Cafe and I loved the new twist on the daisy stitch. The moving of the first stitch to the last stitch created this awesome twisted texture that just had me head over heals for the pattern. Look and see! 🙂

Admittedly, I had some trouble with this pattern. The brim of the hat is a tight rib done on size 3 needles, which made my errant hand scream in protest. There was a lot of ice and Advil in the first section of the hat (not to mention a nosebleed. Oh the joys of aspirin therapy!) but it was worth it. Changing to size 8 needles made the daisy stitch seem like a walk in the park, even the K3tog went smoothly with a looser gauge. I tried to take more pictures of the process; maybe just to remind myself that it was getting done, there was indeed progress despite the many trips to freezer for a bag of soothing peas. All told, the pictures were inspiring to me. Picking up my iPod and scrolling through the photos was enough to keep me motivated.

As you can see, I had some fun with the filters. It was a nice distraction from the knitting, it also served as a way to rest my hand without feeling like I was failing. Working on the pictures was like working on the project, so no guilty no-no feelings about my knitting breaks. Plus, the whole photo editing with an iPod still seems so new and shiny, like a child with a new toy.

Confidence is a beautiful thing. After my husband read my post (yes, my husband read my blog 🙂 he wrapped me in a big bear hug and said “I never doubted you, I just want what is best for you. I want to protect you from pain, but you are obviously too damn stubborn for that”. It’s been a very, very good day.

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So, friends and neighbors, how do you take breaks from your knitting? With so many projects on the needles I tend to feel guilty not working on it. Even if it not knitting you are taking a break from, how do you relax these days?

Stitch Week 7 – Heartfelt Thank You’s & Photo Editing Mishaps


Before I get started today, I wanted to say thank you to all of you that commented, liked or simply read Please Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do. It was overwhelming to see that the blogging world actually cared about my circumstances, and the outpouring of support and encouragement left me a bit dumbfounded. I’m still surprised that something that personal poured out of me, obviously it needed an outlet. Infertility, especially miscarriages is something that most people want to sweep under the rug, like seeing it in the daylight would solidify it in reality. It felt like a weight lifted off my shoulder to just write about it, to purge my mind. So thank you so much. Thank you.

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Perhaps white was not the best yarn color to try to photograph, but live and learn and play with photo editors! So with no further adieu, I humbly present Week 7’s Stitch Pattern!

Hello Week 7!

Hello Week 7!

I will tell you that knitting this was a delight – a little confounding do to my dearly departed GG’s handwriting- but once you get past that it seemed to knit itself. When I started taking pictures of the dishcloth with my iPod, they were horrible! No joke, it was like the image just disappeared in the picture, which gave me the opportunity to play with both Instagram and Vintique . I haven’t done much editing with these applications, but playing around with them last night was a blast. Whether it was successful or not, I shall let you decide.

To be honest, I am feeling the Epic Fail with theses. On the plus side, I was introduced to all the fun filters and sophisticated things that can be accomplished with an iPod; something I foolishly used (until just recently) to listen to music and check the weather. Silly me!

With the filters on my iPod not giving me what I wanted, I pulled out my trusty Canon and decided to go old school – if you can consider digital photography and Photoshop to be old school that is. I was pleased with the result;, this could be because of the abject failure of the first attempt but hey, I am still learning! Most people who work in hospitals aren’t well versed in the fine art of making their pictures not suck. Or maybe that is hopeful thinking! Anywho, here are the shots from the Canon.

Much Better!

So GG, what did you have in store for us this week eh? Well, once again there was no name to the pattern, no punctuation, and a very odd Cast On number. Well Week 7, you haven’t disappointed me!

co38 – Cast On 38 Sts. (Feeling Pretty Good)(Why yes, I am a smart a**!)

R1 correct, kall- Row 1: (RS) Knit all Sts. (Seriously, sometimes when I read these patterns I think of the movie Nell and her secret language!)

r2,pall – Row 2: Purl all Sts. (Nice, nice)

r3 p2 k1 end – Row 3: P2, K1 to end of row (This would have been simple, but there are 38 sts and that definitely is a multiple of 3! Eh, don’t fight it Rachel, just see what happens).

r4 k2 p1 end- Row 3: K2, P1 to end of row (Well at least we are being consistent with the whole incorrect number of stitches dealio. Again Rach, just breath in through your nose and out through your mouth).

rep to end, fin. – Repeat Rows 1-4 to desired length, BO loosely. (Dear God, Please let this work out ok!)

Well, it ended up working out better than ok! The pattern was almost spa like in its interwoven bumps and ridges. I would even go so far as to say it felt luxurious! With this in mind, I got on Ravelry and started my scavenger hunt for dishcloths and facecloths for something similar. The closest I found was from Anne Mancine listed under Spa Day Facecloth, which was the same pattern, just outlined with a seed stitch border. What I found a bit confusing though was that the pattern contained a Copyright – how is this possible? GG wrote the pattern (or more likely copied it down from a magazine or a book) circa 1968. Thus I remain confounded by the whole Copyright thingamajigger. Well, it is something new to add to the every compounding list of things to learn.

Thank you again bloggers for all your support and encouragement. Feel free to leave comments, questions or insights….your knowledge is priceless. OH, and Max says Hiya:)

Hiya Bloggers!

Hiya Bloggers!

Please Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do


To Those Who Doubt Me,

Please, do not tell me what I cannot do. There are millions of things that are worse than an arthritic hand, a hand with only a thumb and pointer finger that are fully functional. Or the wee little panic monster living in my brain, you learn to live with OCD just like you would live with any chemical imbalance; one day at a time. Look around you; you never have to look very hard or very long to find something worse. I consider myself lucky in that respect.

If I want to mow my parents lawn as well as their next door neighbors – whose grandchild is dying in Children’s Hospital- please don’t tell me I cannot do this. I can tie a twisty tie around the power mower lever and push with my palms. I can rest for ten minutes here and there and elevated the swollen, screaming appendage then continue the task at hand (no pun intended, although it is a good one). Real pain is having a mother whose lungs will not allow her to do the yard work she has always loved, or losing a grandchild whose heart has given it up as a bad job.

If I want to clean my neighbor’s house to prepare for the impending arrival of their first child, please do not tell me I cannot do this. This is may seem like a double no-no for someone struggling with infertility, multiple miscarriages, and OCD that gets set off at the drop of a hat around baby items. It may seem a no-no situation to avoid the panic monster living in my brain, that little bastard and I have learned to live together, he won’t stop me from helping a friend when they need it. If I can survive the war in my brain knitting their baby blanket, so soft and sweet and utterly heartbreaking then my hand and brain can handle Windex and Pledge just fine.

If I want to for hours on end, please do not tell me I cannot do this. There are compression gloves – both those you can find in craft stores and the more sophisticated versions that specialist create for loads of money – that can pull the swelling from my abused joints. There is Advil, Tylenol, ice and heat to sooth the pain and malicious looking bruising. I don’t mind the dusky purple color my hand takes on, I choose to look at my hand and it’s odd coloring as a sign that another day has gone by and I have not let my life be dictated by something beyond my control.

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I am not mad. I know you worry because you care.

I am not depressed. I know your concerns about the overwhelming emotions brought on by being surrounded by baby items with no baby of our own are painful, but hiding from them would be far more detrimental.

I will not be deterred. If I decided to stop living my life and doing the things I love for fear of pain, that would not be living. Life can be painful, usually is to be honest. It is how we choose to go about our pain that makes us who we are. I am choosing to be someone who will not be defined by a hand injury, I am not making it any worse doing these things, just opting to live with what I’ve got to work with. I will not be defined by the fact that I cannot have the child that I so desperately want. My heart may feel like it is breaking on a daily basis but to ignore or neglect all those whose bodies will allow them to make a new life would be selfish, inconsiderate and destroy that happier parts of myself. Family is, after all, what you make of it.

So please, take heart that I know my limitations, that I know how to live my life to the fullest and embrace the things that make me the happiest even if I get a wee bit teary here and there. And please – Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do.

Jewelry Display Accomplished!


Even the Owl is Impressed!

Even the Owl is Impressed!

Who knew when Stitch Pattern Week 6 came to life that something even more amazing – in my ever so humble opinion – would come of it! This is one of things that I love about knitting, you learn one new skill, pattern, or technique and it leads the way to a limitless way to use it. So Stitch Pattern Week 6 is now a doodad hanger, pictured with two of my favorite things; a honeypot (which life is not complete without) and my owl cookie jar (who seems as surprised I finished it so fast as I do!).

Unfortunately, the idea was not my own; Lion’s Brand website was who provided the way to assemble this DIY project, and for that I am so grateful. All I needed way quilt batting, craft glue and an extra 8 by 10 frame to bring this to life. I am typically a person who makes accessories (hats, gloves, dishcloths, place mats, scarves, baby blankets, booties, ect.) so making something that is so functional and pretty and NEW is making me a tad giddy!

My OCD played a role in getting this done so quickly, can’t forget to thank that little panic monster for it’s contribution. After a knockdown, drag out fight with my Dad (and this is insane, I am 28 and the man still talks to me like an errant child- and errant child that still cannot defend herself) I desperately needed to keep busy. So I busted out in my iPod, put on Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth (which has been amazing so far) put my head down and got to it. Knitting is therapy. I’ve seen all these bloggers saying “I Knit so I Don’t Kill People”, well, mine would be “I Knit so I Don’t Totally Lose My Mind to the Panic Monster Living in My Brain”.

 

My New Moto

My New Moto

With my project done it is time to look forward – which means trying to figure out how and when to open my shop and….drumroll please….starting my first pair of socks! Pans & Needles has shown me so many beautiful socks that I cannot resist jumping into a new project, as if I needed another one!

So, finishing out my diatribe, I will unabashedly beg for advice. If there are any tips, pointers or magic spells for working on my first pair of socks….Please, for the love of God, SHARE.

Thanks for reading friends and neighbors!