Category: Uncategorized

Peace, Love, and Understanding

With Valentine’s Day/weekend just past so my of our subliminal (and not so subliminal) advertising has centered around showing those around us that we love them. What doesn’t get any mention during this time is a harder subject to face….it’s about looking within to love yourself.

I made a promise to y’all in the beginning of this blog that I wanted to keep things light; however, sometimes real life has a way of interfering and demanding that a serious topic be addressed – this is one of those times.

I have made no secret that I struggled with anxiety and depression and self- esteem issues definitely factor into this. It is in these times when we are being told to share our love that we might give so much of it away (and maybe receive so little back in return) that we come away from this time of year emotionally and mentally fatigued. I certainly have been feeling that way. For the past few weeks I have been sequestering myself in my house more and more – to the point where even my father has made mention of it and he seldom comments of these things.

Some of it is that things have been so hectic and draining at my day job that once I get home that is my sanctuary and refuge and I really don’t want to leave it, unless absolutely necessary, and even then not always joyfully.

Some of it definitely is my actual OCD kicking in where I am enjoying crocheting so much that I just want to hang out and do that in the free time that I have. Partially, it’s that I only have about 70 odd days until Awesome Con and I am determined to have product to sell, unlike at Rhode Island where my pickings were slim to none.

But it also is just my brain saying no, we are done going out and giving of ourselves, we need some private time. And it is hard to accept that of yourself: It feels like getting into a rut, or sinking into a depressive hole. It is in these times when we need to love ourselves even more, but it is so difficult to do so – especially if family doesn’t always understand.

It can be difficult to explain to family in these times – when I might not fully understand myself – why Sunday on the couch in pajamas watching Top Chef reruns and crocheting is better than leaving and trying to do something. It can be especially frustrating to loved ones when this happens on a recurring basis; or can be seen as an excuse to get out of things.

I find this time of year definitely gets draining and triggers more depressive episodes, although this year seems worse than most. And once I get everything together for Valentine’s Day parties and to make the day special for my daughter, and prepare for my husband’s birthday, I just have nothing left to give – and certainly nothing left to give myself.

There are no easy answers to this. I wish there were, not only would it help my state of mind, it would probably make me fairly wealthy because I know a lot of people feel this way. It is the dirty little secret that we are taught not to talk about. It is seen as unseemly to discuss anxiety or depression. I haven’t even gone to the grocery store in about three to four weeks because I can’t people – I can’t bring myself to go into the store because I’m either going to have a panic attack, or I’m going to lose my temper and go off at someone.

Despite there not being any answers to be found here, what I wanted to do was to share my own feelings and thoughts. Maybe some of you have been feeling the same and felt guilty for having these thoughts; or thought you were alone in this – I just want to say that you are not alone. There are others that feel like you. I do find some safety and security in my yarn and being able to hug my little friends once they are made – but, as much as I still struggle with self-esteem issues and trying to please everyone by doing and being what they want – I am learning to be more accepting of myself. And, if I need Saturdays and Sundays to be PJ days, then that’s what I need – I probably will not always need that, but I do for now, and I am learning to be okay with that.

Thank y’all for reading, as always.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

Taking Inventory

So much beautiful yarn in the world, so little time. I really do find that I become enraptured with trying to find the perfect yarn to make my cutie creations. We’ve talked before about how I have found some of my favorites and how those favorites can change depending on the project, but it might be coming to a point where I need to actually get to the heart of the matter and address the size of my stash (*anything but that*).

While I usually like to hide my yarn in as many places as I can so my family doesn’t take me for quite the hoarder that I am, sometimes my reflex reaction to purchase new yarn is born from a seemingly legitimate reason: Making a new project.

Because I now have a few skeins stuffed here and a few skeins stuffed there (not to mention what I can hide under the couch), sometimes I think that I need to purchase a specific brand, type, color of yarn because there is something specifically I want to make: So, I order the yarn in the quantities I need, only to discover I had exactly what I needed – or darn close already in my stash that I purchased during a sale. Or have the reverse where I think I have enough for a specific project only to find myself short and then trying to rush order a particular color or brand and hope the at the color matches exactly – it can be stressful.

I have started thinking …. what if I would keep some sort of inventory on what I have. I’m an accountant and numbers and LIFO and FIFO (Last in, first out and First in, last out) are some of the earliest things that I studied about in inventory and accounting basics. Maybe if I force myself to actually sit down and take stock of what I have – what colors I have, where these are located, and the quantities that it would help me quell some of my need to collect yarn (probably not, but I’m trying to be optimistic). It might actually help when I’m planning projects if I know what colors I have and the quantities so I only buy what is actually needed if I am looking for a specific project instead of going crazy, as is more my usual style.

On the other hand, the moment that I start even contemplating this inventory, i start to have anxiety because it is a massive undertaking. I have a heck of a lot of yarn tucked into my house, and part of me is worried that if I would embrace the new system that I would get frustrated with myself that I actually have this much and no way to possibly use it all – especially with as slow as I work, and the fact that I have two more boxes of yarn coming to live with me in the next week. Oops. Look, I blame yarn sales and the fact that I’ve been trying to track down Scheepjes yarn in StoneWashed and RiverWashed and have just been able to find it so it can be delivered to me without costing an arm and a leg.

The inventory is definitely something that makes my accounting brain happy, but my OCD side is saying that perhaps in this scenario, ignorance truly is bliss. What do you all think? Should I rip the Band-Aid off and see what I have to help keep me on track? Or should I just keep things status quo for now and hope I can avoid future yarn sales?

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

Yarn It!

I am not exactly what you would call a people person. I’m not a complete hermit, but I have terrible social anxiety, am terribly shy, and have a good bit of social awkwardness. When I first discovered Amazon.com in 2000 during my senior year of college, I was elated. Finally, I could browse from my dorm room and not have to drive 45 minutes (no joke) to the nearest shopping mall. I could have things delivered to me and I didn’t have to people. It was delightful.

When I got back into crochet 18 months ago, I wanted to use that same philosophy to buy my yarn. Amazon has been my trusty friend for so long, it won’t let me down. I got my first shipment of yarn from Amazon (via Prime, so it came in 2 days) and I absolutely hated it.

My daughter is on the autism spectrum, and one of her major triggers is touch. If anything has too coarse of a texture, she cannot tolerate it. I think over time of making sure materials were soothing to her, I myself have become less accepting of certain textures. So, when I got my first skeins of yarn from Amazon, I was immediately dismayed with the texture. It wasn’t soft. I was going to be – at the time – making hats and scarves; no one would want this material to be rubbing on them.

Dejected that my trusty friend, the online shopping experience, had failed, I gathered my courage and went to the bricks and mortar stores. And for the next several months, Michael’s and Joann’s became my best friends. There I would be able to feel the yarn and determine what would work best for me to hold. What would feel comfortable. What color looked the best for a project. And the stores loved me as I came out laden with bags and coupons to come back in the next few weeks for even bigger sales.

However, the further I went down the crochet rabbit hole, the more I realized that while I liked a lot of the yarns at my local stores, I still didn’t like the social interaction and I had this feeling there was something better yarn wise out there that I was missing.

I started to do what I seem to do best….research.

Over the next several months, every lunch break I had I would find myself scouring the Internet for articles on the best yarns. I would cross reference that list with reviews of the yarns and the availability. I also started to pay attention to the patterns I was beginning to collect: I was looking to see if the designer would mention what yarn s/he would use and evaluate the appearance to see if it was something that I would like.

As I researched my options, I found that even a lot of the yarns that my local Michael’s and Joann’s carried that I enjoyed were available from online retailers (either the direct manufacturer or third parties), and often at the same prices I was paying at the store with my coupons, or even a little less expensive – depending upon the company and if there were any sales. Even though I knew what to expect from these brands, it still took a while for me to fully trust myself and the companies before I was comfortable ordering online.

And it seemed that once I started ordering online, I couldn’t quite stop (my need for a yarn intervention is legendary in my house, but I’m not going to stop any time soon).

I’ve found companies such as Paintbox and Knit Picks that I wouldn’t have found if I stayed in the stores. I found color options available online through Craftsy (now Bluprint) and Yarnspirations that were maybe too unconventional for my local store to keep in stock, but I liked. I also have been able through Love Crochet to try some of the brands such as Schjeepies that aren’t as easy to come across in the US as they are for our UK and Australian counterparts.

I won’t say that every online purchase has been a success: Even though I’ve taken recommendations from designers I like and solid reviews, the yarn doesn’t always live up to my expectations. So, there have been skeins that have been gifted to other fiber artist friends, or that are sitting in a corner of my living room looking forlornly as their more comfortable counterparts are enjoyed.

I think that Joann’s and Michael’s have finally realized that I might not be coming back. The past few days I have had about 20 emails and app alerts telling me they have yarn on sale and that it is the biggest sale of the year. I look to see what they are offering, and then usually go to my online vendor of choice. I have some new goodies coming in the mail in the coming days and weeks, so I think I have more than enough to keep me busy….for now.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

What a month!

I’ve seen this meme floating around Facebook for the past few days and it really is accurate. January both seemed to fly by at lightning speed and crawl and seemed to be packed to the gills with all kinds of goings on.

The month started with me getting sick: I am prone to bronchitis and sinus infections, and this year it felt that January was a good time to have me down for the count. I was out of commission for almost a week; and during that time I didn’t even have the energy to crochet. I’m definitely feeling better than I was, but I’m still having lingering effects from being sick.

On the heels of me recovering from bronchitis/sinusitis, my father ended up having three stents put in. Christmas Day he told me he had been having chest pains for about three months, but wanted to get through Christmas. He has a history of heart problems, so needless to say I was worried and nagged at him until he finally went to the ER to be checked, and he had blockages that needed to be addressed. Thankfully, he is recovering well and seems to be on the mend.

And then I ended up with the migraine from hell….I think it was a release of all the adrenaline that I had from knowing that he was going to be in the hospital and that he needed to have surgery. It has not quite been three years since I lost my mother, so I am not ready (by a long shot) to lose my father.

While I know these are small problems as opposed to what many go through, they have made to a trying start (mentally and physically) to 2019. I’m hoping that February gets things going in a more positive direction.

And while I have been having some set backs crochet-wise because of fatigue and outside influences, I have been having fun making the projects that I am working on. I have had some people custom order some really awesome Luvvies that I can’t wait to share with y’all.

So, this is just a brief post today to say “hey,” and to let you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. I’m here and I am so very excited for what is to come for us to share in 2019. I think we’ve got over the hump and it is going to be awesome!!!

T(hank)s for the Memories

For the long Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, western PA was warned we were going to have a snowmageddon – grocery store shelves were ransacked, bread became a precious commodity, and everyone hunkered down preparing for the worse…which ended up being (for my area) about an inch of snow and some icy roads – not too bad.

Because I prepared to not leave my house this weekend with the weather, I decided to revisit an arch nemesis of mine: The yarn hank. I have battled with hanks before with mixed results, and I was determined this time was going to be better. (SPOILER: It wasn’t).

As I struggled with my unruly hank, I pondered why do we need hanks? What makes them necessary? Are they just a throwback to a prior age? Why can’t I just have this in a skein, like 99% of my yarn?

The answers vary, but I think at the end of my research, I came up with some interesting answers/thoughts.

What the heck is a hank?

A hank is reminiscent of an infinity or a figure eight. The problem with a hank is that a crocheter (or knitter) isn’t able to just find the end and start working from this as they might be able to with a conventional skein of yarn. Before any hook or needle is set to this fiber, the hank must be disassembled and wound into a ball.

If you have a specialty yarn store in your area that sells hanks, they may offer their services to transform hank into a workable ball. If you do not have a service like that available, then you might have to do this yourself.

Who needs a hank?

From what I can see, the types of yarns that are sold in hanks are specialty fibers or handmade fibers. That’s great, but why do they need to create extra work for us poor fiber artists who can’t figure out what end is up with these contortions?

Some theorize that hanks are best for these specialty fibers because they can better show textures and any variegation in color. Being able to see the fibers in a hank display gives a crafter a better understanding of what they are going to have.

Some thought is that by using the hank’s unique shape, which allows each piece to lay flat, the yarn can be stored and shipped easier; although if that was really the case then all yarns would be stored and sold in hanks. So, that is a good theory, but I don’t put a lot of stock in it.

The theory that I put the most faith in relates to the material in the hank. For the vast majority of yarns sold in hanks these are more high end fibers: merino, silk, alpaca, hand dyed. By loosely winding the yarn into the hank, the fiber can rest without being bound tightly, which could cause kinks and knots.

Because of the effort involved in unwinding a hank, most crafters do not create the ball(s) until they are ready to actually use the yarn – this means the yarn isn’t constricted into the ball for as long and has more of a chance to provide a smoother finish.

There are some fiber artists that just prefer the hank storage style versus a skein because there is no “yarn barf” and they are in control of how big each ball is – which could be helpful if you wanted to make bobbins, or have multiple balls of the same fiber to create a corner to corner blanket.

Hank 1, Me 0

With a snow day on the agenda I decided to try to fix a hank of yarn I had previously tried (and failed to unwind).

The best advice for handling a hank says that you need to unroll the yarn until it is in a big circle, and then either have friends hold the sides of the circle, or turn a chair upside down to use the bottom to keep the yarn from getting tangled.

When I first started working with this yarn, I decided using my feet to wrap the yarn around was sufficient enough…it wasn’t, and I ended up with a huge tangle. So, of course with the huge tangle I got frustrated and threw the yarn (which I think is a silk blend a friend got for me) into a crumpled heap.

I conscripted Desi to help me try to make sense of the yarn and to get this smoothed out into a workable ball. After three hours (I was nothing if not persistent) of struggling and not making much progress, my husband finally asked how much was I really going to lose? The stubborn part of me insisted I didn’t want to lose anything, I was going to unravel this hank and it was going to be perfect. The side of me that wanted to be done playing with the yarn so that I could actually work with the yarn said – you know he might be right.

In the end, I cut my losses (literally), and lost some yardage from my hank, but I was still able to come up with three balls of workable yarn. The hank still won this encounter, but I hope that I learned some valuable lessons for the next time we meet: One of these lessons is my feet will not work as a hank unraveling device. The other lesson is that for people with limited patience (such as myself) probably buying yarn in hanks is not the way to go. I still have one or two of the finicky fiber folios hanging around that were gifted to me, but I think I’m going to go in my corner and lick my wounded pride before I attempt that again.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha