You can take the knitting away from the knitter…

…but you can’t take the knitter away from her obsession.

So, several weeks ago, I hit (what my Reverend so graciously referred to as) “a bit of a set-back” with my mental health that required me to be, well, hospitalized. A fact I’ve been very open about with my friends and family, and something I don’t feel the need to keep hidden from anyone who is taking the time to read my blog. (Including potential future employers. Are you out there? I sincerely hope so. I do not plan on being sick for the rest of my life.)

It’s no secret that I’ve been suffering from depression for a little while, and when it became rather severe at the end of November I decided to seek help. The staff at the hospital were wonderful, and I was able to be in a safe place while they sorted out my medications (vastly improved) and learn better coping strategies, (all the rhetoric my mother has been spewing for years about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation? Turns out it is shockingly helpful. She has kindly kept her “I told you so’s” to a minimum…) But one very big draw back to living in a psychiatric hospital is …. no knitting. No yarn, no needles, for obvious safety reasons.

What’s a knitter to do?

I did have a notebook full of graph paper at my disposal, and a vast variety of very dull pencil crayons. So, instead of knitting I wrote patterns instead. Let me tell you this – trying to design patterns without the use of anything to measure gauge is a real shot in the dark. I have pages of designs – some complete and some just little doodles of an idea – and all of them might be rubbish.

It started in a fairly straight forward fashion – I wanted a hat to match my previously published pattern Snowfall Mittens.

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Following that, I had a picture of a pair of mittens on my Ravelry page that I had made over five years ago for a friend.

3180662484_992aa681af_zThe design was my own improvisation, but the pattern notes are long gone, so from the picture I recreated the charts:

IMG_20141219_161511With any luck – and a little test knitting – perhaps I’ll be able to publish this pattern, too.

From there I started improvising with flowers and roses…

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Some days it was too difficult to draw anything. On those days all I could do was lie in bed, cry, and attempt some semblance of prayer that God would help me. Eventually that idea channeled itself into a mitten design of an angel praying, based on a crochet pattern I’d found via Pintrest. Copying out the praying angel was almost like the act of praying itself, and it refocused my mind onto something other than how miserable I was.

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When I was feeling a little bit more hopeful I started looking forward in my life, which in an of itself was a big milestone and indication of improvement. I thought about New Years, about Valentines Day and began messing with ideas for Valentines Day themed mittens.

V-Day collage 2The best pattern however was based on a request from Cassie. Peter Pan-themed mittens were not something I’d ever heard of, and they proved to be by far the most challenging thing I tried to design during my stay. There are countless iterations of children flying, and Peter Pan’s profile that were absolute rubbish…and after many hours of “wasted” time, I finally come up with these:

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Do you recognize Peter and Wendy? The decreases along the top feature an acorn (for Peter) and a thimble (for Wendy)

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And of course for the palm design I wanted the second star to the right…

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This pattern is actually almost entirely written, and Cassie was delighted with the design so (unlike a lot of things I doodled) these might actually get made.

I’m at home now, feeling much better, and finally back in possession of my yarn and my needles. It doesn’t seem possible that there are so few days left until Christmas…fortunately for me, my Christmas knitting was mostly finished before life went to hell in a hand basket. I just have two baby sweaters to work on, so they are currently what’s occupying my needles. It seems I’ve under-estimated the size of a two year old, so my hands are happily (and rather quickly) working away at a Christmas sweater for him…

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