Back in Time

The pandemic really has thrown me back in time.

First, it was the bread baking. Remember when we all thought we were going to STARVE and there WOULDN’T BE ANY BREAD?

(I never did get a sourdough starter going, I just stuck to the NYT no-knead bread recipe. I’m lazy.)

Then it was the knitting.

I was already on board with the knitting trend, but it would seem that many others (Michelle Obama, included!) joined me.

Then there were all the things that I started doing again that I hadn’t done in a long time: tennis lessons, playing piano, writing on the blog…

But this latest development has taken me so far back into the past that I could almost feel at home in one of the Barbara Pym novels I wrote about last week.

Sock Darning.

Yup. It’s true.

I have taken to darning socks.

Darn(ed) it!

Not just any old socks, mind you. I’ve darned some fancy Smartwool socks. The kind that you’re not supposed to need to darn. DARN THEM!

Mindful Mending

The act of threading the needle in and out, back and forth, focusing on keeping my shoulders relaxed and my back straight… It’s meditative.

The pandemic has been anxiety-provoking for most everyone. For me, stitching helps to calm my mind and soothe some of that anxiety.

Honestly, it also helps to stave off feelings of boredom, uselessness and inactivity.

Loved Clothes Last: Added Bonus

I haven’t been shopping much during this pandemic. I’ve avoided my bi-annual clothes shopping excursions. I’ve tried ordering some clothes online, but the waste of having to mail so many of them back is frustrating.

I’ve participated peripherally in the slow fashion movement by making myself some sweaters. These I wear all the time.

(I’ve practically lived in my Weekender sweater this winter!)

But with the pandemic, and with being unable (or unwilling) to do much clothes shopping, I’ve found myself slowly embracing the mending movement.

An attempt at mending a cardigan

First it was the socks. Then, this cardigan that was my mother’s. These aren’t fancy clothes, and you could argue that they’re hardly worth mending.

But they’re clothes I like to wear. They’ve been in steady rotation since the colder weather set in, and I’d like to keep them that way.

If You’ve Any Mending…

Don’t throw away something you like to wear just because it’s got a little hole in it.

Pick up your needle and thread and set to it! You could try doing some visible mending to make a fashion statement.

(Or, like me, you could attempt to make your mending invisible and fail entirely.)

After all, there’s a pandemic on. It’s not like we’ve got a whole lot else to do.

Talking to Kids About Death

We got some sad news before the weekend.

The teacher’s assistant in the Bug’s online kindergarten class died in her sleep early last Thursday morning.

She had been off from school for about a week, the Bug’s teacher having told the class that Mrs. H wasn’t feeling well and was taking some days off.

So we knew she was unwell, but we had no idea how unwell.

Hard News

Chico and I were upset to learn of Mrs. H’s death. Though we didn’t know her well at all, we felt like she was part of the household.

We heard her voice every school day, coming through the speakers on the Bug’s computer. She rounded up the kids and got them ready to focus on the day.

She would chat with each child a bit before lessons began, and often shared little anecdotes of her own in response to the kids’ stories. She was a calm, kind presence in the Bug’s class.

Knowing how much the Bug liked Mrs. H, and worried about how he would take the news, we agreed to wait until the weekend to tell him.

His Reaction

On Saturday, when we were sitting together as a family, we broke him the news.

Without discussing it previously, Chico and I knew to use very clear, unequivocal language. In both Spanish and English, we told him that Mrs. H has died. Her heart has stopped beating, and her body has stopped working. She will not be back in his class.

We told him how sad we felt about her death, and how it made us feel like crying. We told him we would miss hearing her voice through the computer.

We each told a story of something she had said that made us happy to remember. Then we asked him to try and remember something about Mrs. H that made him happy.

He was fiddling with a piece of Lego in his hands, and he seemed distracted. He said, smiling, “If I have to think of something about Mrs. H that makes me happy, I’ll be thinking a long time! She always makes me happy!” Then he didn’t seem interested in engaging any more on the subject.

We told him that if he felt sad about Mrs. H not coming back, he could talk to us or to his teacher. He smiled, nodded, and went back to playing.

I, for one, was a bit surprised at his seeming lack of interest in the subject. But I reminded myself of several important points:

1. Mrs. H was a virtual presence to the Bug.

School for the Bug has been something he participates in through a screen. Mrs. H was only recognizable to him as a face on his computer.

While he enjoys his virtual schooling, I think that puts a bit of distance between him and the teachers and other kids in his class. Almost as if they’re not entirely real.

2. Her death is an abstract idea to him.

The Bug learned about her death on a Saturday, more than a week since the last time he saw her. His life isn’t materially altered by her absence, and he has yet to interact with others who might be sad about her death.

He may feel it more keenly when he “goes” back to school on Monday morning and she isn’t there. I don’t know what his teacher plans to say to the kids, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone brought it up.

3. Children grieve in fits and starts.

According to an expert interviewed by NPR, kids don’t process grief all at once.

(Neither do adults, as a matter of fact.)

What may barely elicit a shrug one day might be keenly felt the next.

And as a child grows, the grief of losing a relative or someone close to them years before can come back with renewed force as their understanding improves.

There May Be More To Come

While he may have appeared uninterested or unconcerned when he got the news, I would be surprised if the subject didn’t come up again.

The Bug is highly sensitive, and he will surely be influenced by his teacher’s reaction, or the reactions of other children in his class.

I expect we’ll get occasional questions about Mrs. H, and about death in general. He still asks questions about his Nana’s death (though he was only 2.5 when she died, he still remembers some).

The only thing we can do is to respond honestly, clearly (no euphemisms such as “passed away” or–God forbid–“went to sleep”) and kindly.

Where are Nana, Grammy (his great-grandmother) and Mrs. H? Well, we don’t really know for sure, but our Christian faith teaches us to expect Heaven: eternal rest in the company of God.

Kids At Funerals: Yes or No?

We had little choice. We had to take both the Bug and the Bear to their Nana’s funeral. Anyone who could have babysat them was going to be there anyway.

Besides, the Bear was three days old and my milk was about to come in.

For children as young as the Bug and the Bear were, I think it hardly matters to them that they were at the funeral.

I’ve read that experts advise giving older children the choice of whether or not to attend funerals. However, in the case of family members, I would expect our children to be there.

My mother firmly believed that children should participate in big family events, whether weddings, parties, reunions or funerals. I share that belief.

Mourning, especially for a family member, is done as a family. It is a communal activity. I would expect our kids to attend family funerals, but would not require them to go to other funerals.

Others may feel differently, but I have personal experience of missing a family funeral, and I still regret it.

Though I was visiting when he died, I had to go back to boarding school before I could attend my cousin’s funeral 18 years ago. I have always regretted that I wasn’t there to share that part of the grieving process with my extended family.

Not Easy, But Important

It’s never easy to talk about death, especially to kids.

But in the end, it is worth it. Death is a part of life and cannot be ignored.

If we hide that reality from our kids and isolate them from participating in the communal grieving process with the rest of their families (or friends), we deprive them of understanding how life and death are intertwined.

I don’t know how things will be for the Bug. He may not grieve much at all for Mrs. H. Or he may be slowly internalizing what’s happened–processing it in his own time.

And that’s really all we can do. Give it time.

Snowy Day Exercise

Does shovelling the snow count as a workout?

I tried to log it on Strava, but there’s no “shovelling” setting. It’s definitely more than a walk, but probably not quite a run.

And what about sledding?

Sledding is quite the workout, you know! Especially when your kids insist on you joining in. It’s not like I can stand at the top of the hill and just push them down.

I’m heaving myself on and off the sled, hauling myself and the sled up the hill, starting all over again.

I logged sledding as a walk, but I’ll need to strap on my heart rate monitor for Strava to really register how much work I’m actually doing.

If I had to guess, I’d call it an RPE of about 5. Nothing to sneer at, especially when it lasts HOURS AND HOURS.

Snowy Day Fun

The snow started here in northern Virginia on Saturday night, and it’s been snowing on and off since then.

It’s snow days #3 and 4 for the Bug, and he’s over the moon. They’ve already declared the snow day for tomorrow, and the Bug is already anticipating the fun we’re going to have.

Groundhog Day!

Tomorrow is also Groundhog Day! We’ve got a groundhog-related take-home craft to do. We picked ours up at the library this morning.

(We were some of the few people brave enough to venture to the library today.)

Quiet Days

As you can tell, these have been some quiet days. The boys are at home, activities and facilities are closed, and our days vary only in which storybooks we read and what’s for dinner from the Hello Fresh box.

The snow is a welcome change, and makes it that much easier to get outside.

It seems the entire region agrees, judging from this headline in the Washington Post.

While it was strange having to wear a mask while doing all these activities, it was such a relief to the confinement and grayness of winter in a pandemic.

Aching, Tired Bones

Despite having aching, tired bones and muscles, I’m so glad this snow is here.

Anything to break up the tedium, and bring a little joy to our days.


Photo credit: Charlotte Geary Photography.

Anyone For Tennis?

One of my Christmas gifts this year from my beloved Chico was tennis lessons.

That’s right! I haven’t played since senior year in high school, and yet here I am, new tennis racket in hand and hitting the courts…

AT 8 O’CLOCK ON SATURDAY MORNING.

Now I do like a lie-in, and my Chico, being a morning person, very generously lets me laze about on the weekends.

But now I’m having to haul my lazy self out of bed bright and early on these cold winter Saturday mornings to go chase down some tennis balls.

And you know what?

I’m Loving It!

Sure, it’s not easy to get up and out, but once I do, it’s so much fun.

There are three other adults in my class: a young couple and another lady. The other lady has played before and she’s definitely the strongest of the four of us.

It wasn’t long before we all exchanged numbers, realizing (as one does) that playing for one hour a week isn’t enough for us to really improve.

This week we met up for the first time outside of tennis lessons.

Not Feeling It At First…

I was half-tempted to bail. I’d done my workout this morning and wasn’t feeling up to much this evening.

But Chico wasn’t going to let me bail. He was almost more excited than I was about my going to play!

So I kitted up, put on my tennis shoes and headed over to the courts.

Boy I’m Glad I Did

Exercise always makes me feel better! And doing something socially like playing tennis doubles? It’s the best.

Not only did I get my exercise-induced endorphin rush, but I also got my fix of social(ly distanced) interaction!

My doubles partner warned me: “You get addicted to tennis doubles!” and I can really see why that happens.

You have the fun of playing tennis without killing yourself trying to cover the entire court. And you can meet some cool people! Playing at the HOA sports pavilion allows me to meet people who live locally.

Here’s To More Tennis!

My Chico just loves tennis, and our boys are getting into it, too. The Bug takes lessons with the same teacher as me later on Saturday mornings.

I’d love for this to become another activity that we all share, like bike riding. So here’s to more tennis!

Image sourced from the Washington Post

Motivation Flagging

I was doing SO WELL!

I was steadily losing weight. My energy levels were up, my fitness levels were great, and my digestion! Well, I won’t go into the details, but it was great.

Then Came Christmas.

The Christmas cookies. The Panettone. The mulled wine. The port wine! The red wine! The white wine! THE CHAMPAGNE!

My normal rule of only having an alcoholic drink on the weekends went out the window.

That’s not to say I drank to excess, but I had more frequent glasses of wine than usual.

And it wasn’t just the tasty booze. Chico spoiled me rotten with littleneck clams and hake on Christmas eve. New Year’s Eve was yet another culinary treat.

Everything was too tasty to have just one helping!

So Naturally…

The numbers stopped moving downward on the scale. They halted and hovered. Then they crept back up slightly.

While I kept up my regular exercise, it wasn’t enough to counteract the excesses of the table.

And so I fell back into bad habits. My blood sugar started spiking and dipping as it had always done before.

All the hard work I had put into levelling out my blood sugar and fighting hanger, lost!

CURSES AND DAMNATION!

Struggling to Get Back to It

And so here we are in January, and I’m struggling to get back into the habits I had fought so hard to build before the holidays.

The funny part is, I felt so much better before indulging over the holidays.

I notice it especially in my mood, my energy levels and my digestive health. Overindulging in carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol has thrown my system out of whack.

But the addictive nature of these foods makes it hard to break the cycle.

A Little Willpower & A Lot of Help

It’s time for a little force of will and a lot of moral support.

Part of the willpower is removing temptations. Like the Bug’s leftover birthday cake, the panettone lingering in the bread bin, the opened bottle of wine in the fridge, the Christmas treats…

I may face pushback from other members of the family, but they’ll get over it. They’ve had plenty!

The other side of the willpower coin is taking the time to plan. Now that we’re back to our normal routine, I have to remember to plan appropriately for meals.

That means making sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy options.

The help and moral support mostly comes from my Chico who is pretty much the only other adult I see on a regular basis these days.

But encouragement from family and friends, and from those of you who read this blog is a big help.

Not About the Number

In the end, though, this effort I’m making isn’t so much about the number on the scale.

(Though that number is definitely a factor, I can’t lie. Numbers mean a lot.)

The biggest motivation behind my desire to lose weight is to avoid the persistent back problems I’ve had.

Since dropping 5kg and increasing my overall fitness and strength, I haven’t had a single crisis with my lower back.

That’s huge. I used to have them nearly every month, and I had a particularly bad one in the fall that left me nearly immobile for a whole day.

(Joining the kids on the trampoline might have had something to do with that…)

So while it is nice to see numbers trending downwards on the scale, and measurements shrinking, the biggest reward is being pain-free and being able to hop up the stairs two at a time from the basement to the top floor without being winded.

So I’m ready to hold onto that thought, and get back into the business of taking care of myself.

Because if I don’t take care of myself, how will I take care of my boys?

Forgetting What Hanger Feels Like

What’s your danger zone?

Mine used to be anywhere between 11:00am (sometimes as early as 10:30) and lunchtime.

I had another danger zone typically somewhere around 4:00pm (again, sometimes as early as 3:30), when I HAD TO EAT SOMETHING.

When Hanger Strikes

Hanger (or the combination of hunger and anger) can strike swiftly and without warning.

One memorable occasion was early in my relationship with Chico. We were heading up for an overnight in the mountains towards the end of our first summer together.

We’d breakfasted early on toast, jam and coffee (a typical Spanish breakfast). With our preparations, though, it took us a while to get on the road.

Then, on our way up to the mountains, we stopped to pick up a picnic lunch. We packed it away, ready to pull out on our bike excursion later. By the time we checked into our bed & breakfast and got on our bikes, it was AFTER FOUR PM.

Chico said, “Let’s cycle out a ways and stop to eat by the lake.”

He remembers this as the first time he ever saw my death stare. A cold glint appeared in my eye and I said, “No. We are eating NOW.”

Needless to say, we ate then.

Crippled by Hanger

It used to be that I could not fathom going to a grocery store between 10am and lunchtime.

If I ventured into a supermarket at that witching hour, I was sure to fall prey to the buy-all-the-food-because-I’m-so-hungry demon.

And don’t even THINK of having the kids with me when shopping at that hour. My hunger and their pestering would prove just the alchemy required to produce an EXPLOSION of hanger.

It could get ugly.

Hanger Evaporates

Today, though… Today, I went to the grocery store at 11:30am. I hadn’t had lunch.

I didn’t buy a single item that wasn’t on my list. I didn’t have a meltdown in the store when I couldn’t find the Babybel cheeses. I didn’t feel like I needed to stuff my face with food as soon as I got home.

Why was today different?

Probably, because finally, after working at it since September, I have managed to level out my blood sugar.

Gradually Getting Less Hangry

I’ve told the blog everything. I told you all when I decided to start counting calories. I told you of my frustration when I spent so much time feeling hungry.

I also told you about reading up on the benefits of a higher-fat, higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet.

I gradually started to up my protein intake and make veggies my main source of carbohydrate. The impact on my weight was visible on the scale almost immediately.

Even without doing anything as drastic as the “induction phase’ of the Atkins diet, my body seemed to be responding to the changes.

But for a while, I still felt hungry. I’d even finish a meal and still feel hungry. The combination of that hunger and my frustration led to quite a bit of hanger, not gonna lie.

Then Suddenly, One Day, I Wasn’t Hangry

I can’t tell you exactly when it happened because it was so gradual.

The Bug has his lunch break from 10:30am to 11:30am. It’s a ridiculously early lunch. It used to be, however, that I was hungry enough to join the boys for lunch at about 11.

Then one day, as I got the boys’ lunch ready, I realized something.

I wasn’t hungry.

I didn’t feel like eating lunch with them. So instead, I brewed myself a cuppa and sat down with them while they ate.

Relief!

Without noticing it happening, I had succeeded: I had managed to get to a point where my blood sugar levels don’t dip and spike the way they used to.

Sure, I feel hungry. But it happens much less frequently and with far less urgency than it used to.

Generally, I find myself eating less, eating less frequently, thinking (and obsessing) less about food, and worrying less about snacks.

The Result

The result is that I feel a lot better. I’m slowly and gradually losing weight, a pound or two a week.

Back in September, when I started counting calories, I took out my tape measure and noted down some numbers.

The other day, when I was feeling a bit down, I decided to check my measurements.

The difference is dramatic. I can feel it in my clothes, but seeing the centimeters melt away really provided a much-needed boost.

Ongoing Debate

I know there’s a lot of debate about what constitutes a healthy diet. It’s one of those irrationally emotional arguments we get into.

Much like politics or religion, diet and nutrition are fast becoming one of those topics you shouldn’t raise at a dinner party.

I am in no way qualified to tell others what is best for them. All I know is that I have rarely felt better than I do now.

Not even when I lost weight successfully on Weight Watchers or during my short-lived stretch on Noom.

If I’m feeling good physically, emotionally (though there are still ups and downs), and about the way I look, then I figure I’m doing something right.

And I’m going to stick with it.

Check On Your Extroverts

This morning my very dearest friend sent me a quick Whatsapp message.

“Hey, I’m free. Do you want to talk?”

“Do I want to talk??” I thought.

IS THE POPE CATHOLIC?!

DO BEARS DO THEIR BUSINESS IN THE WOODS?!?!

Yes. Absolutely. Yes I want to talk.

Her Spider Senses

My friend has a sixth sense for these kinds of things. She just seems to know instinctively when she’s needed.

Something must have told her that a little chat wouldn’t go amiss, and despite being in the office and having plenty of work to do, she gave me a call on her lunch break.

She’s a doctor. She’s done a residency in psychiatry. Psychology is a large part of her job. She has an idea of how different kinds of people are handling the pandemic.

She also knows me very well, and knows that I’m an incorrigible extrovert.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Hearing her voice was a breath of fresh air for me.

I’m very much a people person. If I cannot get social contact, if I cannot meet with other people, whether they be dear friends or even other parents on the playground, I wilt.

Seriously. I wilt.

I feel a hollowing out inside me, I feel a crushing loneliness, and I retreat to a gloomy place in my head.

That’s not to say that I can’t be alone. I very much enjoy my alone time. But I need it balanced with social time.

So when I got on the phone with my friend, though I had so many questions to ask her, and so much I wanted to catch up on with her, I proceeded to talk her ear off.

Kicking Myself

It was, necessarily, a quick call. My friend had to get back to work and I had to get my day started.

When we rang off, I stopped and thought, “Gah! I wanted to ask her about _____. I didn’t ask how _____ went!”

I had been so busy gabbing like a goose that I forgot to listen. It happens sometimes.

I regretted instantly how I had squandered our short call on seemingly unimportant blather. I ached to get her back on the phone and say, “Your turn!”

Sadly, it will have to wait until the next time we have a free moment.

Check On Your Extroverts

What my friend did today was a good deed.

That’s not to say that I was the only one who derived any pleasure from our talk. We enjoy chatting and listening to each other in equal measure. I know that it’s a pleasure for me to sit and listen to her when she needs it, and I have no doubt she feels the same way.

But she thought to herself, “I know an extremely extroverted person who is in social isolation right now. She probably needs a call.” And that was a Very Nice Thing.

A friend on Facebook posted this the other day:

Check on your extroverts, after 8 months of this, we are not ok. I miss people. Zoom is not a replacement.

K.M. ON FACEBOOK

PREACH, SISTER.

An Invitation

I invite you all to do as my friend did this morning and check in on someone you think might need it.

I call my Dad daily. If I’m seriously extroverted, I get it from somewhere. That somewhere is most definitely my Dad.

He and I alternate chatting and listening, and while we can drive each other nuts, we also get a lot of joy out of our talks.

Even if you’re handling this situation just fine, and you don’t feel the need to reach out, do it.

Think of that friend, that relative you know to be struggling with the isolation. It could be an irrepressibly bubbly friend, or it could be an elderly relation who misses contact with family.

Extroverts tend to have the highest highs and the lowest lows. It happens to anyone who is slightly off an even keel.

A call from you may just be the high the extrovert in your life needs.

A Review of “Knitting Comfortably”

I’m an old dog.

Well, maybe not old. But definitely middle-aged! And learning new tricks is no picnic.

Regular readers will know that I have been off the needles again. The knitting needles, that is.

In an effort to reduce discomfort and avoid injury, I purchased myself a copy of Carson Demers’ book Knitting Comfortably: the Ergonomics of Hand Knitting.

It arrived the other day, and I have learned many, many things. For instance…

I’M DOING IT ALL WRONG!

I exaggerate. (But not much.)

Posture? WRONG. Knitting chair? WRONG. Lighting? WRONG. Yarn tensioning? WRONG. Pairing needles and yarn? WRONG.

You get the idea.

Okay, to be fair, it’s not a question of right or wrong. It’s a question of ergonomics, and balancing productivity, efficiency and safety.

A Balancing Act

In his book, Demers makes it very clear that there is no incorrect way to knit: no one method that is superior to any other (though there is one he pooh-poohs).

How we knit is a balancing act, and he uses the image of the 3-legged stool to demonstrate. Ergonomics (or comfort) is the seat, and the three legs are what I mentioned above: productivity, efficiency and safety.

He then breaks down the elements that contribute to each of those three aspects of ergonomics and addresses them in relation to knitting.

My favorite part of this book is that Demers is himself a knitter, and truly understands how much knitters love their craft. He is just as passionate about yarn and patterns as the next knitter is!

He pairs his understanding of the knitter’s psyche with his expertise in ergonomics brilliantly, and the result is an engaging, clear and easy to understand (and apply!) book.

Applying the Concepts

You can start applying the concepts from the get-go. He begins with a discussion of posture, which (according to the physical therapist I saw back in early 2020) is the source of my problem.

What the physical therapist could not tell me (because she is not a knitter and didn’t even pay attention when I showed her how I knit), is exactly how my posture was causing me pain.

One chapter into this book, I already had significant changes I could apply. And since I had been on complete knitting rest for 10 days or so, I was starting with a clean slate and could gingerly experiment.

Here’s where the old dog factor comes in.

Old Dog; New Tricks

You know what they say…

I learned to knit in 2012 or 2013. It’s not like I’ve been knitting forever. But once you get comfortable with it, it then becomes very hard to change how you knit.

I had already made an effort to change the way I tension my yarn (you can see my video in this post). However, that wasn’t enough to remove the pressure from my shoulder.

More drastic changes were clearly in order.

In addition to changing where I knit, I have to change how I hold my knitting. Up until now I’ve tended to hold my knitting up to look at it more easily, but doing so pulls my shoulder forward and puts pressure on both my shoulder and my elbow.

What I need to do is lower my knitting into my lap (or to a cushion on my lap) and try and keep my forearms parallel to the floor. It’s not easy to do this, as my arms have a tendency to creep up as I keep wanting to look down at my knitting.

But part of the exercise is to learn to trust that my hands know what they’re doing, and that unless I’m working a complicated stitch pattern, they can be left to their own devices, with only an occasional glace.

It needs practice, and I must constantly check in with myself to see how my shoulder is handling it. So far, so good.

Don’t Overdo It

Another change is a behavioral one: I mustn’t allow myself to sit and knit for long stretches of time. We’re always told that sitting for long periods is bad for us.

But that’s so easy to forget when we’re doing something as enjoyable as knitting!

I need to set a timer, or simply stand up to knit. I’ve got to remember to give myself plenty of breaks and ease back into it.

Not Just About Knitting

Demers’ observations and advice apply not only to knitting, but to any sedentary activity (think: using the computer, poking at your smartphone, or driving).

All of these activities involve neck strain (looking down), pressure on wrists, elbows and shoulders, and awkward postures.

So this information is not only valuable in the context of knitting, but also for computer and keyboard use, smartphone use and driving.

Final Word

Don’t buy this book unless you’re a knitter. I don’t think it would even be that helpful for crocheters (though you could definitely get some useful information from it).

But if you ARE a knitter, no matter whether you’re experiencing discomfort or not, YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.

Not only will it help you improve your knitting comfort immediately, it will open your eyes to some potentially unhealthy habits that can endanger your long-term knitting ability.

Don’t risk it. It’s not worth it. If you love your knitting as much as I do, you’ll want to make sure you can keep knitting comfortably for as long as possible.

Click here to visit Carson’s website and order your own copy. (I have not been paid to write this article, and clicking this link doesn’t give me–or Carson Demers–any money. Unless, of course, you buy his book, which would give him money. Not me. But if you want to send me money, I am on PayPal. Just saying.)

Have You Had Your Dance Party?

Guys, have you had your Friday dance party?

What? No?? What are you waiting for??

A Friday dance party is a way to shake off the stress of the week and kick-start your weekend. No matter if your dance moves are shockingly bad! Just GET MOVING!

The weather turned this week here in Virginia. We were having warm, sunny days until the temperature dropped and it started to pour rain. Today, the sun came out again, and we were grateful to get outside this afternoon.

But even an afternoon of running (aaaaaand accidentally rolling in dog poop–LOOOOOVELY) couldn’t get out all the pent-up energy from a rainy week in lockdown.

Enter: Dance Party!

Our kids LOVE a Friday dance party. Our current favorites are the Day of the Diesels from Thomas and Friends and (*shudder*) Crazy Frog.

But really, any song that gets you moving will do. We’ve also gone through some World Cup songs (hello Shakira!) and some old school dance hits. The boys do love to do a Twist.

We put on the little Bose bluetooth speaker, pull something up on Spotify, YouTube or whatever and GET MOVING.

Mostly, we’re just running around like fools in the living room. Sometimes we attempt some real dance moves, but mostly we’re just being silly. And that’s the beauty of the Friday dance party.

It does not matter how well you dance or how cool you look. You’re sharing an unguarded moment of silliness, fun and joy with your family.

Put It In Your Calendar

Schedule it. Put it in your calendar. Make your Friday dance party a weekly event.

Pull up your favorite dance tunes (no, it doesn’t have to be Crazy Frog). Crank up the volume. A bit of boogieing before bedtime is definitely in order.

2020 has been a hard, and sucky year. Lighten it up. Add a dance party to your routine.

The Pain of Not Knitting

Back in February I was ordered off knitting because of pain in my shoulder.

Well folks, it’s happened again.

All that Election Day (and Election Week!) stress knitting took its toll.

Early Twinges

I was already starting to feel some twinges when I finished the Bear’s Flax Lite sweater (it’s now blocked and BEAUTIFUL!), but the flurry of knitting I started on Election Day seems to have been too much.

I don’t feel the pain while I’m knitting. That’s the problem. It’s once I stop that I feel an ache in my shoulder and pain just above my elbow.

It gets to the point where my shoulder and the spot above my elbow become sensitive to the touch, and the whole area is generally achey and uncomfortable.

Physical Therapy

Before the pandemic hit, I did consult a physical therapist at a practice that is supposed to specialize in hand, arm and shoulder care. However, I was disappointed that the therapists didn’t ask to watch me knit, to see what movement I was doing, or observe my posture while I knitted. As a result, they weren’t able to pinpoint the source or cause of my pain.

I went frequently and did the exercises they gave me, but with very limited success in managing my discomfort. When the pandemic hit, I dropped my visits altogether.

More Knitting = More Pain

In periods of less knitting activity, when I’m picking something up and only working on it occasionally, this isn’t really a problem.

But when I’m working on a project I really like, or am trying to finish something by a certain date, I tend to knit more. That’s when the pain and discomfort flare up.

Feeling Deprived

Everything I’ve read says that one of the biggest mental health benefits of crafting is the sense of purpose, the objective you have to work towards. Whether it’s a hat, a sweater or some baby booties, you have delayed gratification while you work towards the final product, and the anticipation of enjoyment once it’s done.

Right now, that feeling of having a goal to work towards is huge for me. With life in limbo due to the global pandemic and my career/job prospects on hold for the time being, knitting has been a beneficial creative outlet.

And now I cannot knit. As I wrote back in February, my productivity and motivation are low, and I feel very little sense of purpose.

That’s not to say that being able to knit solves all problems, but it certainly helps.

Fearful of My Needles

Also upsetting is the apprehension and worry I feel about picking up the needles again once my arm feels better. Will I just hurt myself again? Why am I doing this so wrong that it hurts?

There’s definitely anxiety there.

Looking For Solutions

And so, I have ordered Knitting Comfortably, the Ergonomics of Hand Knitting by Carson Demers, a physical therapist and knitter based in San Francisco.

I learned about him on the Fruity Knitting podcast, and I am hoping that his book will help me answer some of these questions. I’ve also reached out to contact him and ask if he knows any physical therapists in this area that he could recommend. It’s a long shot, but there’s no harm in asking.

Here’s hoping that with rest, icing, warming, massage and then with the help of this book, I can get back to knitting without worrying about injury.