09 Feb 2010

The good stuff

I realized this week that watching television without knitting in my hands is pretty close to impossible. It’s not the lack of knitting, however, that makes it so, but the lack of quality programming. With knitting, I can sit through pretty much anything. (Gritty urban drama about drug abuse, joblessness and/or teen pregnancy, taking place Somewhere up North, being a notable exception.) With knitting in hand, I’m embarrassed to admit, I am really none too discriminating about what I’m willing to sit through. Of course, I’d rather be knitting than not, but without knitting it seems I’m rediscovering some standards, and that’s not a bad thing.

Thank you, knitsibs, for your support over the past week. I know there are many things more important than the question of whether or not one is able to knit. Home. Family. Whose turn it is to hold the remote. All that jazz. Still, it’s heartening to know that you understand, even more so to know that other knitters have faced similar physical injury issues and come through to the other side. I’m taking all your advice gratefully on board, and am actually feeling a little better this week. There’s less pain. Not knitting appears to be working.

Meanwhile, those who’ve been urging me to make productive use of the time without knitting (Read: shut up and go paint something) will be happy to know that I’ve been doing just that.

Some good things: My familiar arrangement on the dining table – painting at one end, knitting at the other – works every bit as well substituting just about any other needlework project for knitting. What’s more, I can spin! Not on the wheel, not yet, but using the Spindle Ship is possible for short amounts of time (in all things, moderation) and the ‘ship has been flying this week. I’ve broken into my super special stash of fiber, and am spinning up The Good Stuff. (That’s camel down on the spindle.) I have some lush fiber in the queue, much of which I’ve been “saving” until I was a “good enough spinner”. Guess, what? I’m good enough.

Two years ago, while on the SeaSocks Cruise to Alaska, I watched everyone (okay, just Jasmin) buying up quiviut fiber, and I wanted some so badly. I’d never spun such a short staple fibre before and I was nervous about buying any, not wanting to waste money if my skills weren’t up to it. Jasmin asked what sorts of short staple fiber I had spun, and my answer was, “Um… none… but I have some!” Her advice was to practice on the fiber in my stash, the camel, then the angora, followed by the Mongolian cashmere, after which time I ought to be ready for that quiviet. I thanked her for her advice. My wallet thanked her. Tonia thanked her most profusely.

Two years on and I am finally, finally breaking into the good stuff, starting with the camel down. It’s a different sort of spinning than I’m used to, but I’m getting the hang of it. I can’t spin for very long, but even a few meters a day is a few meters more of camel yarn than I had yesterday. It’s reeeeeeeally soft and I am loving spinning it. But the best part is that it’s pretty hard to feel deprived of ANYTHING when you’ve got your hands full of luxury fiber.

Posted on February 9, in Blog


  1. Here I was thinking that the tulips with the drop spindle in front would make a lovely still life all painted in water color, have you considered mixing your hobbies and painting what you’re spinning (or is that like circular logic – see logic, circular?)

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  2. Jasmin wrote:

    Isn’t camel lovely? I’ve been spinning some here and there for Mom. And the quiviut? I’m spinning it this year, I’ve decided. 😉

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  3. Judith wrote:

    A creative person must create whether that be knitting, other needle arts, spinning, gardening, painting, making a great recipe, weaving, creating beautiful spaces in the home. Some times what seems like a tragedy in the beginning allows us to find the other creative flames glowing beneath the surface. Have you checked out Cloth, Paper, Scissors (the magazine), lots of fun creative things to do in there.

    Posted on 2.9.10 ·
  4. Heidi wrote:

    this post makes me happy.

    Posted on 2.10.10 ·
  5. DebbieQ wrote:

    I knew that you would not be long without something to do with your hands. I cannot sit without doing something. That is why I knit, because otherwise I would eat. I really like food. And it really likes my hips.

    And it isn’t that you can’t ever knit again (at least I don’t think so from reading the previous posts). It is just that you can’t knit right now. Just think of all the lovely camel that you will have spun and will have ready to knit when the time comes to again take up your pointy sticks. Makes up for the fact that camels are rather ugly, have bad tempers and will spit at you whenever they feel like it.

    Posted on 2.10.10 ·
  6. Colleen wrote:

    I knew you’d find something else to do with your time! Maybe this is your time to spin and paint, and do some other things, but in order to get you to do them a vacuum had to be created. Thus knitting has become impossible for a while.

    Thanks so much for the blog update! I really enjoyed reading it.

    Posted on 2.11.10 ·
  7. Robyn B wrote:

    I was so distressed to read your initial note and thought to myself, there are so many other ways to knit, like portuguese, that maybe she could try…. and as you have shared, maybe doing other creative things. But as others have mentioned in order to even think of going down the road less traveled, sometimes a vacuum has to be created for us to fill.

    For me it was the onset of arthritis, severe enough that I had to curtail my piano concert schedule (I mean full stop) and close my music school (could not bear to lift my arms to the keyboard the pain was so great). Friends at work saw the depression settling in and literally dragged me to a meeting of the local Decorative Art Society group. What I discovered was that when the man upstairs closed one door, he opened another. All I needed was to create a space by getting off the carousel I had been riding for so long.

    And what a door this has turned out to be. My painting astonishes even me – I always feels I must be possessed by another’s hand when I pick up the brush. A good man told me that’s because I haven’t yet learned to own the talent. (BTW, I can’t even draw a stick figure, but put paint and a brush in front of me and it’s an entirely different story) I’ve been working on owning that talent and I’m finally getting to where I actually believe that its me creating these wonderful pieces.

    So to come full circle, sometimes these barriers are put in our way to force us to a path we would never have considered before – and to do so in a more serious fashion – because by golly, we have got to put that energy somewhere or we would self-combust. LOL.

    Although we have never met, you have become part of my family thru the years since your created Cast-On. I think of you often as I go thru my day – almost as a muse. Please stay in touch thru your blog as you can, so I know you are all right.


    Posted on 2.11.10 ·
  8. Oh, the horror! I just found these two posts. I wish I were there to help. In the meantime, yes, spin, and paint, and maybe write? You seem to be pretty good at that, too.

    If you need better quality programming, rent the DVDs of Deadwood, Carnivale, Rome, Dexter, and True Blood… You’ll forget all about knitting for a minute, I swear.

    Posted on 2.11.10 ·
  9. Brenda,

    I am a fairly new listener. I must say that I have enjoyed all your shows so far. I’m finally up to show 68 I think. Will still take me awhile to finish. Maybe by the time I’m finished catching up you will be healed enough to do another show.

    I know the agony of having to put down the needles. I had tendonitis really bad last year in my fore arms. I had to put the needles down for about 6 months in order for it to heal. I also have arthritis in my hands, so I really can only knit about an inch or two a night. I cannot do all night marathons. Because of this, I will probably never really be a great knitter, however I am progressing slowly. I’ve done scarf’s, dishcloths, and finally just finished my 4th pair of plain socks. I am now working on a lace type sock and it is going well.

    I have anxiety and the doctor told me to find an outlet for that anxiety. I find knitting fits the bill. When I had to quit knitting do to the tendonitis I about went bonkers. No place for my anxiety to go. I’m not normally creative. Knitting was one thing that while it can be creative is also methodical. I’m a techie nerd and need methodical. So painting, and other crafts was just not my style. I ended up surfing the net for the most part.

    Anyways I am glad to be back knitting and hope that your recovery goes well. You will be missed as I do enjoy your shows so much.

    Take care and do whatever you can to keep your creative juices flowing.


    Posted on 2.11.10 ·
  10. Jennifer wrote:

    Just wanted to offer you some support, girl, and let you know that (in the words of that great 14th-century Mystic Of The Fens, Julian of Norwich) “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”

    I have trouble with changes. I had my entire week planned out, all my work scheduled (writing and watercolor), and then two snowstorms brought moisture up the east coast of the U.S. and dumped more than three feet of snow. School is cancelled through Friday and my schedule has gone out the window. … So I’ve gone sledding with my 12-year-old and done some early spring cleaning. And watched Mr. Knightley and Emma on Masterpiece Theatre.

    Interesting that your theme for this season has been “Twenty-mile radius.” Has your injury whittled that down even further? … In my experience, difficulties can become part of the story.

    I’ve listened to you for more than three years now. Can’t believe this is the first time I’ve written you.

    much respect, Jennifer

    Posted on 2.12.10 ·
  11. I found your blog/podcast some months ago and have been listening to the back episodes this whole time. I’m about half-way through right now. I know you get this all the time, but: it’s great, it’s changed my knitting life and inspired me to find my local knit-night group and connect with other knitters in person and knit thick, heavy, wool sweaters even inf 90% humidity and over 100 degree F weather (although I almost always listen to a podcast episode immediately after going to knit night).

    I am deeply sorry to hear about your injury and forced hiatus from the knit life. I’ve only had to stop my knitting – forcibly – for five weeks, when I was backpacking throughout Europe and had no room in my standard-sized backpack for knitting or fiber. I hope you heal quickly and completely.

    Posted on 2.14.10 ·
  12. Mel wrote:

    Several posts just got picked up by Google Reader. I’m sure you remember my rather severe bout with tendonitis several years back. It still gives me trouble now and then, but I did learn that I can set the needles down now and again when I need to and find something else to do for a while. Hope you find yourself on the mend soon, though from the sound of things you’d likely best take several months’ hiatus to heal properly.

    I have about a pound of camel down that Sara S. picked up for me 5 years back. One of these days I really am going to sit down and spin it up. Maybe if I can spin it really fine I can make myself a sweater out of it. 🙂

    Posted on 2.14.10 ·
  13. Laia wrote:


    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to put down your knitting. I, too, have problems with my shoulder (brought on a few years ago by a combination of martial arts, fencing, and stupidity) and at times I just can’t knit either. I also ruined my stomach lining with ibuprofen years ago (not for my shoulder, though) and know how awful that is compounded with the pain you’re trying to control with it. All I can offer is my warm thoughts and best wishes for a solid recovery, and a warning to let yourself heal well before you start doing things like knitting again. I was very stupid and “worked through the pain” and now have permanent damage at age 26. You’re much too talented to be lost to the knitting community.

    Best of luck with your recovery, sent from the Willamette Valley.

    Posted on 2.15.10 ·
  14. Diane in Chico wrote:

    Brenda, you have my sympathy for your lost knitting time. Get well soon.

    I have two shoulders with problems. One was solved by surgery for a bone spur and one is being managed with weight lifting to keep the muscles that support the shoulder strong. … and fucking Ibuprofen. … and I know that hearing other people’s shoulder stories doesn’t help you, but I can’t seem to help myself.

    Love to you,

    Posted on 2.15.10 ·
  15. LoriAngela wrote:

    I, too have a repetitive strain injury (not knitting yet) and cannot tolerate ibuprofen. We love you for all you have inspired in us, not just the next output. I like the “shut up and paint” comment. Who knew this was an opportunity for new greatness?

    Posted on 2.15.10 ·
  16. Sarah wrote:

    Having had shoulder problems as well I am very sympathetic with your problem. I found a solution largely through an energy technique called TAT. It hasn’t just managed the problem, either. I did TAT along with an essential oil technique called “raindrop therapy.” Between the two of them, I don’t have any more pain. There’s a TAT website: tatlife.com. Anyway, it sounds crazy, I know, but . . . .

    Posted on 2.15.10 ·
  17. FiberNerd wrote:

    Just want to say, take care of yourself above anything else!

    It is good to hear that you are finding new outlets for your creativity.

    It is funny that you mention your standards for tv watching. Now that you mention it, the same thing happens in my world. I even watched someone else play video games for a few hours Saturday while I made great progress on my Knitting Olympics project.

    Posted on 2.17.10 ·
  18. Linda wrote:

    I have listened to you for years, in fact, you are the only podcast I listen to. I am more a weaver than knitter and I love to listen while I weave. I was so sorry to hear of your problem. I felt like I would lose a friend. So tonight when I found you were still writing, I immediately went to bed with my computer so I could read in comfort. I have missed you. So keep going with anything that gives you that creative outlet, but please write in the blog. We need the connection.
    A knit sib..

    Posted on 2.17.10 ·

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