My Headlines

Friday, July 27, 2007

fight the black dog - temporary hiatus

no newsletter this week - I decided I needed a 'mental health day'

have a good weekend all!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bendy spoils, but no HP spoils…

**** edited to add photos*****

I think I managed to have the most perfect weekend.

The plan was good – get into town at before 9, get book at 0901 (or there abouts), get picked up by Gwet and Clare, and then speed read all the way to Bendigo

And then late Friday night I received a call from Gwet – Clare, for reasons beyond her control, would not be able to make it to the wool and sheep show… therefore… after deciding I would rather spend the day with my nose stuck in the book, Gwet and I decided to reschedule and head up Sunday.

I don’t remember much of Saturday – Mum at some stage tried to lure me out of Hogwarts with dinner, but I decided to finish the book before I ate (my first meal of the day…) You will find no more on the topic here….

However, Sunday was fantastic – happy, happy, joy, joy good.

I, of course, took the opportunity to dress in some of my new (and old) works –

Jo sharp Beret -

Newly blocked sea-wool clapotis –

And preparing for the worst of the central Victoria weather, my Jet sweater and crazy socks were also included in my wardrobe choices for the day. (Naturally, all of these precautions meant it was a fine and sunny day – I was even questioning whether or not my nose was a bit sunburnt last night!)

On its first trip out in the wild, the clap did not disappoint! Several requests were made for the pattern, and queries made about the yarn. I took pleasure in being able to show off – and love the fact that the marriage of a simple pattern and a great yarn could yield such favourable results!

Gwet and I decided we needed to pace ourselves, so left the Bead and Opal Queen with much restraint (although 3 balls of opal for $25 was an excellent bargain – I managed to pass.) The restraint lasted until we got to the Braeside- and Becreatif- alpaca stands. I fell in love with the suri roving, and the magic worlds “last two left” meant I had to grab one then and there. Gwet had decided to by some of the suri handpainted yarn, but due to indecisiveness, managed to leave the stand without a purchase (which lasted, mayhap, 20 minutes, before she had to go back and finalise the purchase.)

The next place of ill-restraint was the Collinette stand. I too, was tempted by the semi-solid jitterbug so many Sydneysider knitbloggers had bragged about following the craft show, and ended up buying 4 skeins. We had a great chat with Sarah Durrant, who agreed with me that there are great similarities between jitterbug and socks that rock, and perhaps the same blanks were used by both companies.

I managed to bump into Barb – the editor of Yarn mag. She, too, was dressed head to toe in handknits (loved those legwarmers!). I was glad to catch up, because I recently sent her an email with some feedback and constructive criticism and wanted to ensure no offence would be taken. We ended up having quite a yarn ourselves! It was also quite a treat to see the samples from the magazine patterns made up!

I made one final purchase before we decided to check out the fibre beasts – Nancy Bush’s ‘Knitting Folk Socks’. I love the historical content included in the chapters before any techniques and knitting patterns.

Gwet and I both fell in love with the alpacas, but I was unable to have a couple* of the camelids follow me home (Gwet was driving and it would have been a tad bit too crowded in the golf!)

*you need to get them in pairs or more, as they are social animals

And this guy looked like he would be right at home down the coast – it is possible to teach alpaca to surf???

Follow up with a bit home-cooked tucker with Gwet’s family (and her adorable min-pin puppies) and it was a fantastic day! I’ll definitely be making the trip next year!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fight the Black Dog #4

Fight the Black Dog #4: A Little Industrial Action at the Serotonin Factory!

In this weeks edition of “Fight the Black Dog” you will find the following:

1 – Depression and work

2 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

3 – how to contact me and/or show your support

4 – a brief disclaimer

a quick note: thanks for all the emails and comments. I am terribly slow at getting back to people, and sometimes just need a bit of time to work out the response I want to a send (some of this is, in part, due to my depression). I am not trying to ignore anyone, and am thankful that you are sharing your experiences with me. I just happen to have lot of other crap on my plate right now, so am just trying to keep up with my weekly commitment – soon I should be able to focus more on this an put a bit more effort in. Thanks again, for all the support – please don’t stop because you think I don’t care!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

1 – Depression and work

I really feel the need to clarify exactly how my depression fits in with how my employment and career ended – yes, I did lose my job due to depression, however, that is just the specifics of my particular case. It was actually something quite closely tied to depression.

In case you have not figured it out by the many hints and clues I have dropped around my blog – or you new around here, I was previously employed by the military. As you would expect, there is a rather high standard of fitness and health required for this particular line of work, hence the intellectual, psychological and physical screening each applicant must pass in order to obtain a position within the ranks.

In order to retain this position, you need to remain relatively fit and healthy – and are subjected to various medical and dental checkups which categorise your health and dependant on what category you are in, decide where you can and can’t serve. Having depression does not necessarily place you in a certain category; however, taking anti-depressants does. A certain policy dictates that if you take any drugs to treat a condition (whether it be depression, diabetes, epilepsy or asthma etc), you need to be posted within a certain range of a doctor – or in other terms, you need to be posted at a major military base and are unable to be sent anywhere else you may be required for duty. In the case of epilepsy or diabetes, it pretty much means an automatic discharge – as you will be taking preventative medication for the rest of your service career and, hence, will not be able to serve in an appropriate manner. With depression it is a little different – they assume you will be on your happy pills for a period of time, but eventually will be able to continue without them and return to full employment. After fudging around for a long time with various anti-depressants, not taking them for a while, and then going back on them, it was decided that I may be one of the few who will need to take the happy pills as a daily ritual indefinitely. For these reasons I was medically discharged. I believe that if I did not attempt to manage my depression I may have declined to the point that I was a safety hazard, and then I would have been a psych discharge. To me, there is all the difference in the world – and it means that I can point out to people that it is a medical condition that I have, not a psychological issue.

That is not to say that I didn’t have a few people trying to tell me that I obviously couldn’t handle the demanding lifestyle required of military personal. A specific personal incident that had nothing to do with work was the catalyst for my condition. The lifestyle did more harm than good, but prior to this incident I had no qualms with my chosen career. It can be very difficult to explain to someone who has no understanding of mental health issues that usually it is a physical process in your brain that starts all this, not a thought process (however, the thought process is not far behind it!)

I had a little saying I used whenever any of my so-called colleagues used to tell me, usually in a very offensive manner, that my condition was “all in my head”. My response was always “Why yes, you are right. It is in my head, I happen to be experiencing a little industrial action at the serotonin factory! It usually opened up the door for a brief discussion on why depression is a medical condition– that serotonin in the main ‘happy chemical’ in your brain and my problem was that not enough of it was being produced. I may not have converted that many people, but I at least got them thinking about brain chemistry and hormones and mood levels… Please feel free to take my phrase and use it when you need to explain to anyone why what you are going through is a medical issue and not a psychological issue.

2 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

I've been reading your blog and think you're really brave to be writing about your experiences with depression.

I've had it on and off for probably most of my life, although fortunately not to the extent that I have lost a job - although it has probably limited my career. I was crying as I scanned back through your archives and put together what happened to you. Depression has, however, certainly impacted on friendships and relationships. But one thing I would like to write about and which I am happy for you to use if you want to, is how mental illness, for all the work of Beyond Blue and The Black Dog Institute, etc and for all the publicity about one in five Austrians having it, still carries a huge stigma in the workplace.

I am sending this from my 'anonymous' email address because even in my lovely progressive workplace, few people realise you can be a competent employee and suffer from mental illness at the same time.

I deliberately do not blog about my struggles with depression as nowadays colleagues and employers and potential employers have a tendency of Googling your name and making judgments about you based on what they find; I was quite shocked the first time someone I barely knew via work made a comment about my knitting on the net.

I work for a really good employer. The attitude is that as long as you get the work done and are available for required meetings, etc, you can come and go a bit as you please, work from home, leave early to attend the kids' school play, etc (it's the compensation for the overall low pay). They have been really supportive and accommodating of parents with caring responsibilities and a couple of employees who have unfortunately gone through cancer treatments. If any workplace could accommodate employees with mental illness, this is it. But even here, depression is still the illness that dare not speak its name.

My immediate supervisor is no fool and I think knows very well what my regular "specialist appointments" are and carefully ensures meetings are not held after them as I'm not always fully together then. He has told that he values me as an employee and wants to ensure I can keep on working there. But he also makes it very clear that he does not want to know anything else. Other colleagues, for some reason, believe the appointments relate to a chronic heart condition. And everyone is very nice and supportive and I find it fascinating that a life-threatening heart condition is more acceptable in the office than a mental illness.

3 – how to contact me and/or show your support

if you would like to contact me, you can do so at ginger_nut(at)bigpond(dot)com – if you are sending me a story of your particular battle, please try to include whether or not you want me to include your details. I received some emails from anonymous email addresses, and that is fine as well. I’ll include those stories later one.

I was happy that people have posted about depression on their own blogs, as well as sharing the button I created. If you would like to show support with the button you’ll find details of how to create the link via the first weeks post.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has mentioned my campaign on their blogs, podcasts or web-zines – I have tried to visit everyone who left a comment, and if you look at my sidebar you will see my bloglines list has grown quite a bit. If I have missed you, please leave a comment or send an email.

4 – a brief disclaimer

I need to point out that I am in no way an expert or professional in the field of mental health – everything I share with you here derived from my own personal experience and treatment in conjunction with ‘self-education’ from wanting to know more about this condition. I have started this campaign to raise awareness of Depression and mental illness and to help support others who are affected by this (whether directly suffering or knowing others who suffer) If you are in need of help, please contact your doctor and speak to those in your family and circle of friends.

Cheers,

Ginger_nut aka Meg

Thursday, July 19, 2007

BLURT!

I have a lot of things that I have been meaning to blog about in the past week or so, and just haven’t got around to it… so I have decided to blurt it all out here…

--------

This great little satchel is handmade by The Shopping Sherpa (www.theshoppingsherpa.blogspot.com) and I won it from her earlier this year in a blog contest. It is a very convenient bag, however, due to TSS’s monochromatic colour scheme it creates a great canvas for groovy badges and pins. Did you notice that one right in the middle? Let me zoom it in a bit for you…

This little jelly-baby pin was an impulse purchase when I was in line at the checkout – so cute that I had to grab one. It is to raise funds for research into Juvenile Diabetes and to attempt to find a cure. I am really glad that I did now, because it turns out that Dotter (aka Othlon) has been dealt the rather harsh hand of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the past couple of weeks. Jelly-baby month is officially May – but there are still some lingering around. If you see them around, spare your 2 bucks for a worthy cause – I plan to have an army of different coloured Jellybabies on that bag eventually. To read more about how annoying Diabetes can be, check out Dotter’s blog over at Othlon’s Demon Knits, or her Mum’s blog, Jejune’s Place

-----

Centrelink. GRRRRR! Need I say more!

However, I did get a good deal of knitting time down on the “got any blacker” commissioned scarf. Too bad that I decided it should be narrower to add extra length and frogged it all when I got home!

-----

The yarn I used for my clapotis is Fleece Artist Sea Wool – it is a 70/30 wool/seacell blend and a gorgeous silk mimic. I bought it through www.littleknits.com – I think that Kate at Blue Mountains Knits, and either Paisley Womble (or maybe Ozknitter? One of the sock queens) also has had a play around with it.

-----

Those of you who are awake will have noticed the past tense in the previous topic ‘yarn used for clapotis’ – Yes, c’est fini! After wearing it last night and today, I finally bought some foam tiles to block it on. It’s HUGE!

And the best part – this is all the yarn I have left!

-----

Having finished my Tour de France knitting commitments, I went looking for another French inspired knit before I went to s’n’b last night. I found a couple of balls of Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton in the stash and a cute beret pattern in Knit2.

Well… c’est fini! Guess I will just have to make the “got any blacker’ commission scarf my new tour project. And really, cashmere in a man’s scarf – that’s very European, dare I say it, Parisienne!

-----

My new spindle I flaunted last week is a ringspindle from Golding Fibre Tools – these are like the Lantern Moon for Spinners. The make gorgeous objects that can be displayed as works of art by themselves, yet are also beautiful, well-functioning tools. Go check them out at www.dropspindle.info

-----

And Pierre is still alive and well – to cope with the wet and cold weather down here I made him a doggie-sweater. I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago, but completely forgot to post it.

------

Also, someone asked me what EZ book I would recommend reading first – I think that you can’t go wrong with “Knitting Without Tears” – it covers all the basic EZ concepts and has patterns to keep you warm from head to toe.

-----

I think that’s the lot – I’ll try to avoid the monster posts in the future!

Winter Melbourne

Little monkey foo foo socks – check

Vintage hues cardi – check

Manual noro scarf – check

Roarin’ forties hat – check

Green Leather trenchcoat – check (yes, the avatar is based in some reality)

Half-blood prince audiobook for drive – check…

We are ready to head to Melbourne for a rainy winter day!

I may not have had the best colour co-ordination in the world, but I was very glad I threw everything in the car yesterday when I caught up with long-time friend CT yesterday. In preparation for Saturday’s big release, I have started listening to HBP again, and a drive to Melbourne and back meant I got a good 2 hours of Pottiness in.

I have known CT since I started high school, and in the past couple of months he has shouted me dinner a couple of times, so I decided to use my creative ways to make a little thank you for him. He is a retired goth who has not yet reformed his wardrobe, so I didn’t think he would appreciate a sweater. After a quick trip to the beading shop I had purchased all I required to make a couple of earrings (my first attempt at ‘real’ jewellery) – tiger’s eye and silver(?) earrings. A (non-imperial- see below) dragon on one, and a Scorpio scorpion.

And on with the day…

First up – brunch! Caramelised banana, maple syrup, cinnamon and ice-cream pancakes at an eclectic café in Fitzroy. I can’t remember the name of the place, but they served breakfast til 4pm – la vie Boheme!

CT and I then discovered we both wanted to see ‘The Great Wall’ exhibit over, so we dashed over to Melbourne Museum in Carlton. I didn’t mind the nil photography rule until we came to the most beautifully embroidered Emperor’s gown – it was gold silk with gorgeous, precise embroidery of, amongst other symbolic totems, the Emperor’s five-toed dragon. It is astounding that something that intricate could be made 250 odd years ago, before modern machinery. Of course, I can’t find a picture of it online anywhere either, so trust me, it was divine! (oh, and with all the layers of clothing, we were glad that the museum had a free coat-check)

It was still raining, and our metered parking was running out, so we did the completely lazy and un-green thing of driving the car a whole 3 blocks to Lygon st where we decided to spoil ourselves with a hot chocolate – and if you are talking hot chocolate on Lygon, there is only one place to be!

I love how typically Melbourne this photo is – it is pouring down rain, but we are so social we want to dine al fresco just so we can people watch and enjoy the fresh air!

I tried a koko black chilli blend hot chocolate – oh la la! Very warming!

It just so happened that The Knitters Workshop was on the way back to Coburg (CT’s residence) so we dropped in. (Didn’t think I make a trip to the city without a stop at an LYS, did you?) I manage to pick up a back issue of Jo Sharp’s knit for half price (apparently ‘shop-soiled’ – it has a small tear in the back cover) and CT mentioned that he would like a scarf. I tried to sway him towards a grey black merino with long colour repeats, but apparently this would have been too outrageous for recovering goth CT (see comment about un-reformed wardrobe above) After handing him skeins of different fibres, his only request was that it ‘not be scratchy’. The mohair was dropped like a hot potato, and he ended up choosing an 80/20 merino/cashmere blend that was on sale. I grabbed the last 3 skeins, paid and we left. (CT later forced money for yarn and labour upon me – lo and behold, my first commissioned piece)

Deciding that the weather was taking a turn for the worst (hail!) and that peak hour was almost upon us, CT managed to talk me into staying for dinner – which was real Melbourne, nay, Victorian fish’n’chips take-away (Melbourne fish’n’chips they throw your flake, potato cake, dimmy and chips in the same basket to cook, dump all the contents onto a sheet of waxed paper and bundle it all up in butchers paper – it means that when you settle down in front of the telly, the paper provides an instant tablecloth to catch any spills that may occur. None of this Sydney, cardboard box and your potato scallop will cost you extra! And yes, I am a tad bit biased, why do you ask?)

All in all, the day was brilliant – I have missed Melbourne so much in the past couple of years, so it was fantastic to bundle up and enjoy a cliché or two!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

“Fight the Black Dog” #3

“Fight the Black Dog” #3

In this weeks edition of “Fight the Black Dog” you will find the following:

1 – Alcohol and depression – some thoughts

2 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

3 – how to contact me and/or show your support

4 – a brief disclaimer

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

1 – Alcohol and depression – some thoughts

As mentioned earlier in the week, I’ll be discussing a bit about alcohol and depression. My full disclaimer is down the bottom of this newsletter, but I just want to re-iterate that I am in no way a professional and this is based on my own experience and self-education.

I have seen quite a few doctors and specialists in regards to my illness, and have had some varying advice regarding alcohol consumption – from ‘try to remain true to your life-before-depression, including social activities and drinking’ to ‘avoid it at all costs’. I am neither advocating the use or avoidance of alcohol here, just trying to let you know that there may be some unexpected outcomes. If you have more questions regarding your illness and alcohol I suggest you discuss them with the professional responsible for you treatment.

The first item I need to bring up may sound a little obvious – alcohol is a mood amplifier. If you are happy, you generally get happier, but if you are drinking to for get your sorrows, more than likely you will end up with tears in the bottom of your glass. Sometimes this can be a good thing – one doctor suggested that I have a drink or two with a trusted friend so that I could have a good cleansing sook and generally talk about what was going on. Sometimes, just having a good cry can be the best therapy. Depression usually means you put up walls between yourself and your friends, and sometimes alcohol can be a way to breach those walls. However, I strongly recommend that you drink with close, trusted friends. The flip side of the mood amplifier is rather dark and scary - a few years ago I was at a friend’s house for a party when one individual decided that we did not like him and locked himself in the bathroom threatening to slash his wrists. The isolation he was feeling within those walls was unbearable under the influence of alcohol. Luckily we managed to break into bathroom and get him bundled up in the back of an ambulance before anything else happened.

The next issue you need to know about alcohol is that it is a depressant – sure it may lift your spirits for a while, but generally, if you drink enough to get hung-over, be aware that it may not just be a sore head that is making you feel sorry for yourself – particularly once the hang-over has gone. Alcohol slows down your brain functions, and this includes production of ‘happy’ chemicals. If you are suffering from Depression, you already have problems with you ‘happy’ chemicals, so the effect that alcohol has, albeit prolonged or temporary, may create a more sever impact. Be aware that you may experience a ‘low’ period for a day or so after alcohol consumption. If you know that the alcohol is responsible, it can be easier to make it through these times. Once again, if you want more details speak to a professional, either a doctor or a pharmacist.

Everything else I am going to discuss here involves anti-depressants. If you are on a prescription for these, your doctor or pharmacist should have discussed these issues already – but sometimes in a busy world things can be mistakenly overlooked. If you are on these drugs you probably understand that your brain is having problems making ‘happy’ chemicals – the most commonly known one is serotonin. Anti-depressants (or, as I like to call them, “happy pills”) try to motivate certain areas in your brain to start producing more ‘happy’ chemicals. (Slight digression – just replacing the serotonin, which is what party drug ‘ecstasy’ does, will make you incredibly happy for short durations of time – however, these too have a long term depressive effect. With all the extra serotonin floating around your brain, the areas responsible for production may decide to pack up and leave for good. This is why you need to ‘retrain’ your brain to produce the happy chemicals.) The reason that there are so many different types of anti-depressants on the market is because everyone has a slightly different chemical make-up in their brain and drugs that are extremely effective on one person will have a zero effect on someone else. This leads me to why alcohol and anti-depressants can have rather surprising effects.

Anti-depressants, by their nature, play around with the chemical relationships within your brain. Alcohol affects these relationships too, resulting in your brain ‘slowing down’. With these two drugs in your system, the level you usually call yourself ‘drunk’ at can be severely warped. The week I first started anti-depressants, I went around to a mate’s place and had an alcoholic beverage – after half the drink I was well and truly ‘blotto’!

Sure, if I was breathalysed I would have been under the legal limit, but the combined effect of alcohol and happy pills convinced my mates to hide my car keys. I have also heard that this can work in reverse – someone can think they are stone cold sober, but in reality they would have quite a surprise if pulled over by a booze-bus. The general rule of thumb I follow is that I am either the completely dry designated driver, or I am a passenger.

The final issue I am going to bring up really involves the excessive consumption of alcohol, and the need to take your anti-depressants regularly. If you miss a day you may suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms – which are why you always taper down rather than stop taking anti-depressants cold turkey. If you drink to the point of throwing-up, be aware that you may also be discarding a dose of your ‘happy-pills’ and inadvertently end up with something terribly worse than your garden variety hang-over.

Hope this helps you to make your own decisions regarding alcohol, or understand a friend or relative that may be acting a little different under the effects of a drink. I just have to state again, that it is probably best to talk this over with a professional first, such as your psych, doctor or pharmacist.

2 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

I heard about your post on Sticks and Strings and I felt compelled to read your post and now to reply. Yeah for saying it out loud! I am on a depression roller coaster and have been for a total of 10 years now. Before it was me being "overwhelmed" but it didn't go away. Then I thought it was my marriage not satisfying me as a person. I was married to a pretty okay guy but felt something was missing. Two months after I was alone with my child thinking life would turn around now that I was separating and "happy" I ended up in my doctors office weeping and telling him how I couldn't get out of bed every morning and everything in life was an effort. And I mean everything. It was so easy to lay in my bed and stare at the ceiling for 10 hours! He said it was normal, people my age get depress, single mom, jobless, alone was enough to do it this day in age. Three weeks later I was a brand new woman and with so much energy. Amazing what an anti depression med can do.

Years later, it is still a roller coaster. I am way up or way down, the downward swing is like a plummet into despair but it seems to pass quickly. I tried talking to my mother about this the other night who is equally depressed and compounded since early May with the passing of my father. She said meds to her were not needed, I had always been strong and she "knew I would be fine". Well no, I am not fine. I am some days but not others. I realized then that she doesn't want to know that her daughter suffers with an illness, mild illness compared to most, but still, most days are hard.

So, I knit. When I find that darkness overcoming me and my mood swinging downward I know I will see more into everything than is there as the paranoia sets in, it is time to push everything away and knit (or spin). The fiber arts is incredibly healing. It slows the pulse and centers the body and mind.

Recently my blood has been tested and I am borderline normal with my thyroid which would explain a lot of the symptoms I have been having. I rejoiced to my best friend who happens to be in the mental health field and said, "IT IS MY THYROID, I am cured once I am taken care of for it!!" So kindly he smiled and said, "Honey, you still have good old fashioned depression. It will be good to get the thyroid part taken care of but you will still have some of that depression to deal with". Le sigh. Oh well, so I will knit! :)

3 – how to contact me and/or show your support

if you would like to contact me, you can do so at ginger_nut(at)bigpond(dot)com – if you are sending me a story of your particular battle, please try to include whether or not you want me to include your details. I received some emails from anonymous email addresses, and that is fine as well. I’ll include those stories later one.

I was happy that people have posted about depression on their own blogs, as well as sharing the button I created. If you would like to show support with the button you’ll find details of how to create the link via the first weeks post.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has mentioned my campaign on their blogs, podcasts or web-zines – I have tried to visit everyone who left a comment, and if you look at my sidebar you will see my bloglines list has grown quite a bit. If I have missed you, please leave a comment or send an email.

4 – a brief disclaimer

I need to point out that I am in no way an expert or professional in the field of mental health – everything I share with you here derived from my own personal experience and treatment in conjunction with ‘self-education’ from wanting to know more about this condition. I have started this campaign to raise awareness of Depression and mental illness and to help support others who are affected by this (whether directly suffering or knowing others who suffer) If you are in need of help, please contact your doctor and speak to those in your family and circle of friends.

Cheers,

Ginger_nut aka Meg

Thursday, July 12, 2007

black dog delays

Hey guys –

I know it is supposed to be Fight the Black Dog FRIDAYS, but I am a tad delayed with this weeks edition. Please check back later on tomorrow and I should have the final copy of my post for the week up… I'm sure it'll still be Friday somewhere in the world!

In the mean time, be distracted by the process I have made on my Clapotis, which is providing a stunning backdrop for my gorgeous new toy. Perhaps I should have signed up for the Tour de Fleece as well as the KAL!

Monday, July 09, 2007

So what does a gal do when she misses her market debut?

Well, I don’t know about you but I used my free Sunday to play up on Saturday night… but more on that in a minute –

Thank you all for your best wishes for my Pop – his surgery went fine, and as of this morning is back at home annoying my Nan. To clear up any confusion, Pop is my maternal grandfather (ie, Mum’s Dad) and there are some rather dashing pictures of him here. As to what he sells at the market – well, I have blogged about his markets before, but to recap there are handcraft by my Nan (mostly knit and crochet), plants and seeds propagated by my Pop, as well as his handy-work with wood and such that entertains him out in the shed. He also makes some fantastic recycled cutlery wind-chimes! He is a rather energetic old man, and sometimes I forget he is a septuagenarian and a month shy of being exactly 50 years older than me (I’m the 28th March, he’s 28th April) so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that things may go wrong requiring hospital stays – but it always is.

So now back to the weekends events – my bestest bud had a big party to celebrate turning 28 (his favourite number) and had family and friends from all over the state heading to Geelong. Needless to say, not needing to awake early on Sunday to prepare for market, I ended up not going abed until early Sunday. Since becoming ill, I haven’t been much into crowds, parties, or such; however I was apparently very much my old self from 3 years ago – very talkative and loud whilst making rounds of the guests. (I think that may have been a polite way of saying I was obnoxious and annoying – but I had a good time). I’ll be writing a bit about alcohol and depression for this Friday’s “Fight the Black Dog”.

Of course, my bud is a bit of an athlete, and in the past has competed in triathlons and cycling, but currently is right into building and racing recumbent tricycles, aka human powered vehicles. This means there were a few people into pedal power at the party, so at stupid o’clock in the morning we switched over to SBS to watch Le Tour prologue live from Londres. Sadly, no knitting was done (due to the fact I may have taken out my, or someone else’s eye with those dangerously sharp knitpicks in my ever so slightly incapacitated state) but I was clicking away in spirit. I doubt I will stay up to watch any of the other stages (I am supposed to be working on getting into a decent sleeping routine) but I will definitely be catching all Le Tour highlights on SBS each night (I think they are 6pm mon-sat, 530pm on sun) and sitting with my needles in hand.

The aim is to finish my Clapotis by the end of le Tour (I started it just before the KAL was announced, so it has been sitting on the back burner for a few weeks) and I am working it in gorgeous sea-wool. I have found the magic number of stitches for the most beautiful colour pooling effect, and I think the fabric looks like it was printed after it was made rather than dyed before.

And congrats to Robbie McEwan who is sitting pretty with the green jersey!

Friday, July 06, 2007

“Fight the Black Dog” #2

“Fight the Black Dog” #2

In this weeks edition of “Fight the Black Dog” you will find the following:

1 – a brief disclaimer

2 – some useful links for more information

3 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

4 – how to contact me and/or show your support

1 – a brief disclaimer

I think I need to point out that I am in no way an expert or professional in the field of mental health – everything I share with you here derived from my own personal experience and treatment in conjunction with ‘self-education’ from wanting to know more about this condition. I have started this campaign to raise awareness of Depression and mental illness and to help support others who are affected by this (whether directly suffering or knowing others who suffer) If you are in need of help, please contact your doctor and speak to those in your family and circle of friends.

2 – some useful links for more information

I have three links here that all provide some fantastic resources about Depression and Mental Illness. The first two are sites I am familiar with and have used often are Australian, however they still contain a lot of relevant information. The third was sent in via email. If you know of some great websites, please either include them in the comments, or email them to me at ginger_nut(at)bigpond(dot)com

- http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ was suggested by Sally in the comments of last weeks post. As well as a fantastic array of information, it also has support groups for sufferers or carers, news updates and some interactive features

- http://beyondblue.org.au/ has similar information, but presented in a more user friendly way. Beyond Blue is the national initiative to raise awareness of Depression and mental illness, and currently running a media campaign on national television.

The third site I’ll share this week is http://www.stitchlinks.com – this is an email I received earlier this week that sums it up better than I ever could:

Glad to see you feeling able to talk about your depression. I have had an episode myself, some years ago, after a break up, but was lucky enough that it did that natural swing back up to normal over about 18 months. I was a GP trainee at the time, and now a GP, and I do think even that relatively mild episode helps me to understand something of what people are experiencing when they come and talk to me about depression. I often tell them (just in passing) that I have had it, as you say – I think sharing that kind of info about ourselves can give power to other people and encourage them too.

The (hopefully) helpful info is – about Stitchlinks. This has been set up by Betsan Corkhill, an ex physio here in the UK. She felt she had noticed how much knitting (and also other crafts like cross-stitch) helped people who had depression and also those with chronic pain. She also felt this was unrecognised. She has set up an organisation that seeks to investigate the links, but also to support people with some of these problems. It might be something people would find helpful, and I wonder if you’d add the info to your blog? I’ve included the info from the site below, also the URL. http://www.stitchlinks.com

Why Stitchlinks?

At Stitchlinks we help our members to live a fuller life by combining

· an international friendship network (now spread across 10 different countries) with

· the remarkable benefits of knitting and cross stitching

· research into just how knitting and cross stitching affect the brain

· knowledgeable, practical health advice

· support and encouragement to move onwards

· and financially, with discounted products

What does Stitchlinks do?
It began with the need to support those who are isolated by circumstance or illness, but has grown to include all areas of life. We believe that what we’ve discovered so far could help everyone find balance in life.

We set up Stitchlinks with our members in mind. Many knitters and cross stitchers have told us that friendships forged between stitchers are important for giving them a sense of identity and belonging, for making them feel valued. So we set up a Forum, Newsletter and Penpal sections so that our members can link up and become firm friends, particularly those who are isolated by illness or circumstance.

Each member finds their own benefits for their specific situations and many will do it just for fun.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy so you don't have to be ill or isolated to benefit.

What's it about?
This email says it all:

Your network would have offered me somewhere I could talk about the one thing that seems to be helping me hold it together.

Somewhere I could find an interested listening ear; somewhere when I got stuck I could go for inspiration or a laugh or a chat or a moan; or just listen to others chatting and be involved without disturbing the flow; or ask for help with real people who were also for one reason or another only able to access this kind of support on the net, when they could.

Sometimes when life chucks you 'The Mushroom Principle' as my Dad calls it (you just get your head out into the light and someone throws a pile of **it on top of you) I find you need to talk to people who don't know you, who can't see you but who listen and answer. It takes away that emotional chasm that so often stops you saying the stuff you need to say or hearing the stuff you need to hear from those who know you and love you."

3 – a contribution from another “Black Dog Knitter”

I received several stories during the week, and will try to share them with everyone. I have taken the name out of this email because I forgot to ask whether or not I should include it.

I have happened to come across your post recently about depression and I agree with you wholeheartedly it isn't just a "phase" or some thought up disease it is in fact a real one. I have suffered with it for about 12 years off and on, it wasn't until about the last 4 years is when it finally came to the surface with full force. My boyfriend had just left me to raise my daughter alone and here I was an 18 year old girl with a baby I didn't know what to do, all i knew was is that it sucked and I was majorly sad because I had my heart broken and I was expected to raise a baby? well I got on for a few months being in an OK state of mind but then taking care of my grandmother got to me and I tried to commit suicide. twice.

My family finally realizing how much pain I was in sent me to a treatment center the first time it didn't help at all. It wasn't until the second time when I was sitting in my pysch's office that I realized i couldn't keep doing THIS...this OK state of mind I wasn't going anywhere. So for the first time in 2 years I got back on my meds, I actually WENT to see my pysch and here I am still here. I can't say that I am fully recovered because I can't say that all I can say is here I am with my happy pills and I am somewhat happy maybe a little miserable at times but I am still here living with it, my daughter, my dog, and that scarf I will probably never finish but it helps me when i am low.

4 – how to contact me and/or show your support

if you would like to contact me, you can do so at ginger_nut(at)bigpond(dot)com – if you are sending me a story of your particular battle, please try to include whether or not you want me to include your details. I received some emails from anonymous email addresses, and that is fine as well. I’ll include those stories later one.

I was happy that people have posted about depression on their own blogs, as well as sharing the button I created. If you would like to show support with the button you’ll find details of how to create the link via last weeks post.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has mentioned my campaign on their blogs, podcasts or web-zines – I have tried to visit everyone who left a comment, and if you look at my sidebar you will see my bloglines list has grown quite a bit. If I have missed you, please leave a comment or send an email.

Cheers,

Ginger_nut aka Meg

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This little piggy won’t be going to market…

…this week, anyway!

My Pop has generously offered me space on his craft market stall, and this Saturday was the going to be the first time Pierre the Yarn Snob would be appearing in a real marketplace. However, life has interfered somewhat, and my Pop has spent the last couple of days ill in hospital, so the market this weekend has been cancelled. He’ll be going into theatre tomorrow to have a small procedure done under a local anaesthetic, so please send some get well vibes his way – especially tomorrow morning!

This means that I have plenty more time to sort out some sort of inventory – I was going to take along some handspun and handpainted yarns, as well as some stitch markers (ie- the sort of stuff on my etsy site), but will be knitting rather frantically to get some other stock happening as well (I am thinking scarves, hats and mitts may do rather well!) I have also ordered a spindle and will be attempting to ‘spin the old way’ whilst I am at the market. I figured it would be a good way to attract a few people our way and if there is enough interest I may look into adding them to the store too.

Yet another s’n’b!

Last night Gwet (one of the gals from the Black Sheep Café Knitters) and I headed down the coast to Torquay to gatecrash their knitting night at the Pear Tree Café. It was a fantastic night – there is two seating areas in the café, and the knitters completely took the back area. It reminded me very much of SSK at Bermuda café in Sydney – a rather casual affair over coffee (and very yummy bailey mouse chocolate cake) with wide range of knitters (alas, no men though). The Torquay s’n’b is a weekly event, so I am planning to get back there.

Not co-incidently, the home of Pear Tree Yarns is just across the way from the Pear Tree Café, so I had a chance to chat to the owner, Sue, about her company. Pear Tree yarns are rather scarce in the market place and this is because it is a one woman show. Sue is rather passionate about how she does business, and is trying to manufacture ecologically sustainable, luxury natural yarns, entirely processed within Australia (local to Geelong, if possible). She had some of her current stock, and new lines of yarns out last night – and I have to say they are gorgeous! There was a gorgeous yarn that I thought was cria (baby alpaca) but was actually a long staple 13 micron merino (if that doesn’t make any sense, the finest cashmere is usually about 13 microns – so this is wool on a par with that). I hadn’t tried Pear Tree Yarns before because I didn’t realise they were such high quality. Sue is in the process of setting up direct internet and mail-order sales, but in the meantime I think Taryn over at Purl Yarns still has some in stock.

A quick note on vintage hues…

Remember when I did my review on vintage hues I mentioned I wasn’t sure how it would felt (or full, for the pedants out there!) – Queen of the felted bowls, Olivia, has given it a go and said it made a nice but rather thin fabric – she has a solution for coming up with a thicker resulting fabric, so if you are interested pop over to her blog.

Monday, July 02, 2007

FREE PATTERN – “La Lanterne Rouge” hat


The rider who is bringing up the rear (ie last) in the Tour de France is known as the “Lanterne Rouge” – the nickname stems from a time when red lamps used to hang from cabooses on trains.

When I think of the “Lanterne Rouge”, I have to admit I have rather romantic notions – this cyclist does not care if he doesn’t hold the yellow or green jersey, nor does he worry if he is not a contender for the King of the Mountain – because, this cyclist is ecstatic just to be competing in the world’s most prestigious cycling event and does not care where he places. There are times when I sometimes feel a little like a “Lanterne Rouge”, but then I remember that sometimes making it somewhere is usually most of the battle. This design is for anyone who has ever been proud to just show up!

Make this hat in a bright red and no matter how far you fall behind the peloton, they will never be able to lose you!

For this design I took inspiration from the shape of old iron lamps with live flames trapped within, and a ring on top from which you can hand the lamp. Worked in the entirely in the round, twisted stitches (or mini cables), divide the hat into 6 sections, each containing a flame motif on a basic lace background. An angora blend has been used to create a ‘halo’ or ‘glow’ effect. In order to obtain greater stitch definition, all knit stitches are twisted (worked through the back loop).

This hat uses less than one skein of yarn, however, if you make a gauge swatch you will have to unravel it to complete the project.

SIZE

This hat comfortably fits most adult heads up to 58cm.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

Cirumference: 44cm

Height: 26cm

MATERIALS

Naturally Sensation 10ply (70% merino/ 30% Angora – 120m per 50 skein – shade 305) x1

40cm 4.5mm circular needle (or size to obtain gauge)
4.5mm Double Pointed Needles

Stitch markers
Tapestry needle

GAUGE 22sts / 30rows = 10 cm in stockinette stitch

PATTERN

Cast on 102 stitches.

Join in round, being careful not to twist – place marker at beginning of round.

Follow chart from right to left starting at row #1. Repeat chart 5 times to complete round.

Continue following chart to row 72 (6 stitches remain)

Knit 2 together 3 times (3 stitches remain)

Work an i-cord on remaining 3 stitches until i-cord measures 8cm.

Cut off working yarn and pull through remaining 3 stitches to bind. Sew end of i-cord to top of hat to create loop as shown in pictures.

Weave in all ends.


(Click to enlarge chart)




Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wow - A great start!

Thank you all so much for your support of my "Knit & Fight the Black Dog" campaign - it has only been two days since I launched it, but already it has reached beyond the circle of my acquaintances. It was not an easy post to write, and I have a feeling that your frank and honest responses would have been just as difficult - I am already working on next Friday's post which will contain some links to sites, but already I feel some topics for future discussion have arisen from your feedback. Come back on Friday to see the next step in this campaign, but please feel free to stick around and see what else I get up too!

I signed up for "le tour" KAL - I have volunteered to be 'la lanterne rouge' !

Feeling rather inspired I designed a cute pattern that I should have available tomorrow (provided I can get the chart sorted :S). It uses just one skein of a gorgeous soft wool/angora blend. Here's a sneak peek - but piccies showing more detail are over at my flickr account (link in the side bar)

ALLEZ! ALLEZ!