Knitting in the air, knitting everywhere

Some time ago I made a trip across the big ocean. Mainly to see my offspring, one granddaughter, and a couple of little grandsons that I hadn’t met before, one in the US and the other in Canada. Although I doubt they will remember our first meeting, the memory of the moment when I could wrap them in my arms, will stay with me for eternity.

Two grandsons, born by different mothers about a month apart, in two different countries. You’ld think they wouldn’t have many similarities, and at first appearance they really don’t. But after spending a few weeks with them, it became more and more obvious that the blood lines are connected. Cuddling and caring, singing and soothing, talking and laughing, I had the grandest of times.

I am sure next time we meet, they’ll already be running around chasing a ball or a puck, climbing trees or doing somersaults on a trampoline. Or maybe they’ll take up knitting at an early age. I can hardly wait to really get to know them and maybe even teach them a few stitches.

The weeks spent with near and dear ones were moments of pure joy, all too short but creating everlasting memories. Memories of times with people a world away, but people that mean the world to me.

Sitting night after night around the firepit with a friend, talking, knitting, listening, being silent -were priceless moments, forever cherished.

During the month long trip I probably knitted the most I ever have in a month. All the different places I knitted are too many to count. But what I found out was that one of my favorite places to knit was in the airplane. Instead of relying on the onboard entertainment screen to make time go faster during an otherwise boring 10 h flight, I pulled out my needles and yarn as soon as I settled in my seat. It had a calming effect, I never once was bored and time flew by, literally. Not to mention the icebreaker it created with the person sitting in the next seat. Interesting conversations.

Something must’ve gone wrong with the sales on one of the flights. Out of about 300 seats available, less than a third were occupied. At first I chose a place where I had the whole row to myself. This was nice for awhile but pretty soon I felt lonely. Walking up and down the aisles I discovered another knitter. I quickly headed back to my seat, retrieved my knitting and sat down in the empty seat across the aisle from her. After exchanging a few pleasantries, we both fell silent and knitted on. She was the quiet kind and it suited me well, I just didn’t like sitting alone in the empty aft of the plane

I only knitted two things during this whole trip. On the long flight over, I was working on my first pair of socks. Not really a fun or interesting project but I did finish them. Happy about the result, they fit the little feet and she seemed to like them.

The other thing I knitted was dishcloths. These I have done almost from the start and I like doing them. They are quick to make, don’t require much effort, I think they look cool and I like giving them away. In total I think I made close to 20 of them during the trip, a couple different patterns in many colors.

Numerous times during the trip, I was asked why I knit. I haven’t yet figured out an easy, short answer to that. After the trip I’ve had a longer than planned break. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but there’s been other things that’s gotten in the way. Maybe it’s something about the therapeutic aspect of knitting that I haven’t had a need for lately. Maybe that’s the answer to the question;

Maybe knitting has made me Mindful instead of having my Mind full.

Your doctor’s prescription

This link was sent to me recently by a good friend.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/knitting-reduces-anxiety-depression-chronic-pain-slows-dementia-research-knit-for-peace-uk-a8254341.html

For awhile I’ve known and personally experienced it.

No matter how bad of a mood I am in or how bad I am feeling physically, when I grab a pin in each hand, twirl the yarn around my finger, lean back and start knitting, something happens not only to my mind but to my body as well. It almost immediately relaxes both, and as a result, it gives a wellbeing difficult to describe.

For the last few months I have been struggling to decrease my pain meds. The back is slowly but surely improving, but getting off the pills is no walk in the park. But I am making good progress.

One of the really crappy things with withdrawals is the anxiety. When that cloud rolls in, I just want to run for cover. Eventhough I have educated myself on the subject in the past and learned how to handle it, it’s still ugly.

Now going through it while kicking the pills, knitting does help tremendously. For the last few weeks, it’s been a real eye opener. The calm that enfolds me while knitting is quite amazing.

Some days lately I have even felt a “high” while knitting, similar to what the pain pills give. This has confused me since I know that it’s not from the meds. Well, based on the article it must be serotonin.

I’ll take that😃

Now, let’s wait for the doctors to start prescribing knitting and handing out patterns. Imagine the millions in savings!

(Swedish version for my non-english speaking friends)

Detta Àr nÄt jag vetat en tid och personligen upplevt.

Oberoende hur jag nedstÀmd jag kÀnt Àn mig eller hur fysiskt dÄligt jag mÄtt, nÀr jag tar en sticka i var hand, snurrar garnet runt fingret och börjar sticka, dÄ sker nÄnting med knoppen sÄvÀl som kroppen. SÄ gott som genast blir bÄda avslappnade, och dÀrefter infinner sig ett vÀlbehag som Àr svÄrt att beskriva.

De senaste mÄnaderna har jag kÀmpat med att avvÀnja mig frÄn smÀrtpiller. Ryggen blir bÀttre sakta men sÀkert, men att sluta med lÄngvarigt anvÀndande av vÀrkmediciner Àr ingen söndagspromenad. Jag gör dock stora framsteg.

En av de riktigt Àckliga sakerna med abstinensbesvÀr Àr Ängest. NÀr det mörka molnet rullar in, vill jag bara gÄ och gömma mig. Trots att jag lÀst pÄ ganska mycket om Ängest tidigare och lÀrt mig att hantera den, sÄ Àr den lika Àcklig iallafall.

Nu nÀr den uppenbarar sig medan jag avvÀnjer mig frÄn pillren, Àr stickning en stor hjÀlp.

De senaste veckorna har varit överraskande pÄ detta omrÄde. Lugnet som infinner sig med stickandet Àr ovÀrderligt.

Vissa dagar har jag t.o.m kĂ€nt mig “hög” pĂ„ nĂ„t vis nĂ€r jag stickat, ganska likadan kĂ€nsla som starka vĂ€rkmediciner ger. Lite konfunderad har jag varit, eftersom jag vet att det inte varit av medicinen. Men enligt artikeln sĂ„ Ă€r det tydligen serotonin.

Det duger helt bra för mej😊

Nu kan vi bara vÀnta och hoppas att lÀkarna börjar skriva ut recept pÄ stickning och dela ut mönster. TÀnk vilka miljoner som skulle sparas!

Svensk översÀttning av artikeln

Resultatet av stickning Ă€r inte bara en ny tröja – forskning har visat att hobbyn ocksĂ„ kan minska depression och Ă„ngest, fördröjer utveckling av demens och distraherar frĂ„n kronisk smĂ€rta.

Knit for Peace publicerar upptÀckten av resultatet av omfattande forskning kring tidigare studier som analyserar fördelarna med stickning samt initiativets egen forskning.

Enligt Knit for Peace, ett nÀtverk av över 15 000 stickare i Storbritannien som stickar för mÀnniskor i nöd, finns det vÀsentliga bevis som tyder pÄ stickning Àr till nytta för ett hÀlsosamt sinne och kropp.

Gruppen bestĂ€mde sig för att undersöka saken efter att mĂ„nga medlemmar rapporterat förbĂ€ttrad övergripande hĂ€lsa efter att ha börjat med hobbyen – och det visar sig att det avkopplande hantverket kan krediteras för mĂ„nga hĂ€lsofördelar.

“Det finns en enorm mĂ€ngd forskning som visar att stickning har fysiska och psykiska hĂ€lsoeffekter, att det bromsar demensens början, bekĂ€mpar depression och distraherar frĂ„n kronisk smĂ€rta”, sĂ€ger rapporten.

En av studierna frĂ„n 2007 utförd av Harvard Medical School Mind and Body Institute, fann att stickning sĂ€nker hjĂ€rtfrekvensen, med i genomsnitt 11 slag per minut, och inducerar ett ”förbĂ€ttrad tillstĂ„nd av lugn” i likhet med yoga.

Förutom lugnande effekter kan stickning av en filt eller ett par vantar avleda dig frĂ„n kronisk smĂ€rta – eftersom fokus Ă€r riktad nĂ„gon annanstans. De repetitiva rörelserna som krĂ€vs för att skapa ett mönster, utsöndrar lugnande serotonin som kan lyfta humör och bedöva smĂ€rta, enligt resultaten.

En studie frĂ„n 2011 av Mayo Clinic pĂ„ över 70-Ă„ringar fann att de som stickade hade en “minskad risk att utveckla mild kognitiv funktionsnedsĂ€ttning och minnesförlust”.

Dessutom kan hobbyn, som ofta Àr förknippad med Àldre, hjÀlpa till att bekÀmpa ensamhet, en plÄga som drabbar 1,2 miljoner Àldre i Storbritannien, och öka kÀnslan av att vara till nytta och inkluderad.

“Det Ă€r en sĂ€llskaplig verksamhet som hjĂ€lper till att övervinna isolering och ensamhet, alltför ofta en egenskap av Ă„lderdom. Det Ă€r en fĂ€rdighet som kan fortsĂ€tta utövas nĂ€r synen och krafter avtar”, sĂ€ger rapporten.

Resultaten stöddes ocksÄ av Knit for Peaces egen undersökning av 1000 medlemmar.

Enligt undersökningen uppgav 70 procent att de tror att stickning förbĂ€ttrar deras hĂ€lsa – den frĂ€msta orsaken Ă€r att det fĂ„r dem att kĂ€nna sig avslappnad.

Undersökningsdeltagarna visade ocksÄ att stickning hjÀlper dem att hantera kronisk smÀrta, 21,4 procent rapporterade att stickning lindrar smÀrtan frÄn artros.

Knit for Peace hoppas att resultaten kommer att uppmuntra fler mÀnniskor att ta upp stickning, eftersom de tror att det kan minska behovet av lÀkarbesök.

“Varje lĂ€karbesök kostar omkring 50€ men vi tror att stickning kan hjĂ€lpa till att hindra att mĂ€nniskor behöver besöka lĂ€karen sĂ„ mycket och hjĂ€lpa dem att kĂ€nna sig lyckligare, mindre isolerade och mer hĂ€lsosamma”, sĂ€ger rapporten.

Eftersom hĂ€lsovĂ„rdssystemet Ă„rligen spenderar 30 miljarder euro pĂ„ bekĂ€mpande av demens och ytterligare 345 miljoner € pĂ„ antidepressiva medel, enligt NHSs Ă„rsrapport, kan stickning vara svaret pĂ„ lĂ€gre medicinska kostnader.

SÄ nÀsta gÄng din mormor erbjuder att lÀra dig att sticka, acceptera erbjudandet.

Eller sÄ kan du alltid vÀnda dig till YouTube, dÀr det finns hundratals stickningsvideon för nybörjare.

Sweating over a sweater

Not much writing lately, I know. I’ve been busy. Knitting has taken up alot of my time for the last months, but especially the last few weeks. I’ve kept the eye on the yarnball, so to speak.

For awhile now I have wanted to try something more challenging and significant. But I’ve also needed to hone my skills with the needles and yarn. I think anyone with a few mobile fingers can learn to add a stich to another. Anybody can also learn to make a scarf or a hat very quickly.

But when it comes to making a bigger piece of clothing, and make it look good, it takes practice. Alot of practice. So that’s what I have done. Simple things, routine stuff, mundane and repetitious patterns just to fine-tune the muscle memory of my fingers.

When I felt the time was right I ordered the pattern. Went out in the field to catch a ewe, sheared it and started spinning the yarn. No, I took the easy road and headed for the store and got some nice wool.

Once comfortably at home in my couch I cast off (or on). Seemed simple enough. With nothing but time on my hands, I kept going for hours on end. Day after day, morning and evening, I fell into a rythm.

Despite the repetitiveness and little variation in this pattern, it never felt boring. For every row completed, I could see the work growing and taking shape and the satisfaction and pride in my creation grew.

The toughest challenge presented itself when it came time to start with the sleeves. Without any prior experience using a DPN set (a set of 5 needles), the beginning was a painful struggle. It took me pretty much a full day of knitting and unraveling, over and over before I felt confident to move on. I think I even bent a couple of needles getting them stuck between my fingers. When you are trying to find the right grip on 5 needles with 10 fingers for the first time, it just feels impossible. At one point I was ready to sacrifice both my pinkies on the chopping block! There always seemed to be something in the wrong place. But by late evening I got it down and things started to flow again. What a feeling!

Another feeling, not so pleasant, appeared two days later. I woke to find my left hand being completely useless, hanging limp. A painful inflammation in my carpus kept me away from the pins for three days. Serious withdrawals.

Despite the monotony of creating this beautiful sweater, it never became boring. The monotony instead let my thoughts wander, all over the place. It was relaxing and fun and I wouldn’t mind getting started on another one soon. I am totally happy with the result and quite proud of what I accomplished!

I am a stats and numbers kinda guy. I am curious about the time it takes to make something and always thinking about and looking for ways to improve production. The key to doing things faster is not to hurry but to avoid doing unnecessary things. I am aware that I still do a lot of unnecessary movements with the needles, but things are improving.

So, here are some numbers;

This size of the sweater consists of 57136 stitches. Roughly.

Working on this sweater, my average clocked time was 1.5 sec/stitch. Not that fast compared to pro knitters but a major improvement since I started out.

This means that if I knitted nonstop with that speed, I would’ve finished in about 24 hours. Well, I didn’t of course. Taking into account all the stops and starts such as coffee/food and bathroom breaks, reading the pattern, a few dropped stitches, consulting with other knitters, more coffee and tying off all the loose ends, blocking etc. adds a significant time to the total. In fact it took me more than double that time, in actual hours worked. My rough estimation is close to 55 hours.

Which was a positive surprise to me. I actually imagined such a project being much more time consuming and difficult.

All in all, it was a fun project. I learned a lot of new things, it’s beautiful, soft and fluffy and it turned out just the way I wanted.

Thanks sis, for your great help!

From the President

This made my day today! A thank you card from the President and his wife.

I’m glad the gift was received and hopefully it can be used. It’s a bit chilly here, the thermometer todays shows -14, feels like -22 C (6, feels like -8 F).

Still I bet the majority of all Finnish babies and toddlers took a nap outside today.

Probably sounds weird to the rest of the world, but that’s what they do. I wouldn’t be surprised if the President’s baby did the sameâ˜ș