On Not Knitting.

It has been very quiet on the blog.

That's because for the last few months, I haven't been myself. (I know that sounds hella dramatic, but it feels true.) I've talked about it in the past: for the last year and a half or so, I've had intermittent problems with arm pain, related to knitting, spinning, sewing (pretty much all crafting), typing (which is super hard to handle because I'm a grad student in the throes of dissertation-ing, which involves typing a lot... and I used to have a job where all I did was type, which I had to stop doing), and even some household chores like chopping vegetables and ironing. 

I've been seeing a physiotherapist who specializes in arms and hands since November, and he's had some great advice. I've been trying to rest a lot, and that means minimizing typing, taking breaks, trying to sit in a more ergonomic position, and absolutely no crafting of any kind. Also, testing out heat vs cold for soothing flare-ups and relaxing muscles, gentle self-massage, and figuring out which stretches help my particular body to feel better. 

It's not carpal tunnel or de Quervain's or any of those more specific things; the medical people I've talked to all say it seems like just a bad case of tendonitis that isn't going away, or that keeps coming back. 

Today, after having very responsibly not crafted at all, not even a little, since February, I knit one row, to see how it would feel. Not an especially long row, no intense stitches, just a row of purl on my Clincher. I was really, really hoping that all the rest and care would have paid off. I'm feeling pretty good most days, able to type for short period as long as I stretch and use my wireless keyboard instead of the laptop keyboard, and generally not having pain all the time. But, I could tell by about two thirds of the way through the row that my muscles were already getting tight and the telltale tickle of burny feeling was creeping in. Sigh. 

This is probably a pretty boring blog post to read, but since it's my blog, I'm putting my thoughts here. I really, really miss crafting. Over the last ten years, creative things, knitting especially, have become central to my life, and an important part of my identity. Not being able to do the things I love, the things that make my brain hum happy and my spirits feel joyful, is very hard. I feel silly about those emotions, sometimes, because geez, what a first world problem to have. But man, it hurts my heart not to be able to make things.

For now, I'm going back to no crafting. I'll keep stretching and massaging and hoping. Maybe in another three months, things will be different. Until then, my yarn is put away and my heart feels a little bit on hold. 

Some Photos That I Used to Know

Hi! I haven't been knitting much (okay, at all); still trying to rest up my chronically tendonitis-ey appendages. I do have something pretty to show you though - and it's not yarn for once! 

In high school, I was lucky enough to get to take several classes in photography. We used black and white film, developed our own negatives, and processed our own photos in the darkroom. It was fantastic, a creative pursuit that I found addictive. 

Once I was out of high school and no longer had access to a darkroom, I kept taking photos on colour and B&W film, and just had them processed at a photo store. I missed the darkroom but still loved making photos. Digital photography has never really made my heart beat fast in quite the same way, and I stopped taking (what felt like) artier photos years ago. But! I recently came across a folder full of my old photos. I'm sure to some they'll look weird, dated, blurry, juvenile, amateur, or just boring, but they remind me of a time when I felt particularly creative and when taking photos was a meditative, thoughtful and exciting experience for me. I like looking at them :) 

Maybe I'll share more of these old photos sometime! Are there creative or artistic mediums that you used to pursue but now don't? 

Keeping from Knitting.

I am trying to listen to my body, and let it rest, and let it heal, and remember that "not as sore for the last hour or so" is not the same as "healed and ready to do things again". It's the weekend, and I would really really like to spend a chunk of today relaxing and enjoying some knitting. But I KNOW I shouldn't. My wrists really aren't better, I'm still icing them every night just from the amount of hand writing (notes) and typing (notes) and mouse-use (charts and internet and research) I'm doing at work. Even with lots of breaks.

I don't know quite what all of this extended arm trouble means for my future, but I cannot think about a future with no knitting.

For now, I'm trying to stick to my guns and not pick up my sticks! ;)

Instead, I've been reading a lot. In the last two weeks, I've read This Is How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Wintergirls and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, and The Railway Man by Eric Lomax. I know, a lot of YA Fiction.

Let me know if you have books to recommend, so I can keep sticking to my healing-up resolutions!

Walking... Still not knitting

There were some completely lovely comments on my last (quite whiny, really) post about wrist pain and time away from knitting - thank you lovely commenters! I'm still on my knitting break, so I don't have anything yarny to show you. I did go on a lovely rainy walk, though, and I thought I'd share some of the best bits.

I started out near the inner harbour, which I kind of love on gray days.

Harbour

This time of year, Victoria also has lots of cherry blossoms - super pretty!

Cherry blossoms

AN ADORABLE SNAIL!!!

Snailio!

There was some fiber-ey content - I passed three or four of Victoria's giant spindle whorl sculptures (more on them here - they're called "Signs of Lekwungen", and honour the Coast Salish). I love, love, love having such amazing and public connections to fiber arts in my city!

Awesome giant spindles

Spindle detail!

It's 100% spring here, so flowers are happening!

Blurry but pretty

There's also a series of sculptures around the harbour of hands doing a variety of things. I both love them AND think they're super super creepy :)

Super creepy hands sculpture!

I love my city, and walking is definitely a good thing; I'm still looking forward to getting back to knitting, though!

Knitting to stay okay.

Sometimes, when people see me knitting in public, or when they hear that I'm a knitter, they'll respond with some version of "Wow, I wish I had the time/patience/attention span/ability to knit!" I totally understand that reaction - that's more or less what I say to my friend who gardens prolifically, or the one who goes the gym all the time because she genuinely enjoys it. Sometimes I just nod and smile, and sometimes I tell people that actually, I knit because I need to. Truthfully, I knit for a LOT of reasons.

I love the creativity it involves (even when I'm knitting from patterns, which I usually am). I love the colours and textures. I love that it produces warm, comfortable, occasionally-stylish and occasionally-frumpy garments and accessories and things - it takes my time and converts it into a tangible object I can hold and wear and sometimes give away to a person I like. I love that it connects me with a less technological time (even though technology is pretty critical to my knitting life... *COUGH RAVELRY COUGH.* I love that there are constantly new challenges, new skills to learn, new techniques to master, new ways to expand my knitting repertoire.

But one of the major reasons I knit is that it makes me feel more... okay.

I'm a fairly, ahem, "highly strung" person, to put it delicately. I get nervous easily, I worry apocalyptically all the time (even about things that don't really deserve to be worried about), and I fidget constantly. Knitting lets me channel some of that anxious energy into an activity that is both productive and placating. Most of the time, I can actually feel my body relaxing and my breathing becoming more regular when I pick up my needles. (The other knitters reading this are yelling EXCEPT WHEN YOU DROP A STITCH RIGHT?! - yes, that has the opposite effect! ;) )

Knitting helps keep my mind busy, and it makes me a happier, calmer, more functional person. The last few months have included a bunch of personal challenges, from health stuff to job and academic stresses to being apart from my best friend, which is extremely, constantly, wrenching. As a result, I've found myself reaching for my knitting even more than normal. I'm really, really glad that knitting is part of my life, because I don't think I would be okay without it.