Knitting Myself Back Together

The best way I’ve found to fight my anxiety is with a pair of knitting needles.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

When I decided this past summer to move into my own apartment after years of living with roommates, my anxiety took over completely.

“Idiot,” it hissed after I signed a lease on a beautiful little place in a not-quite-nice area. “How the fuck do you think you’re ready for this? You can’t afford it, it’s not safe, you’ll regret it, you chose wrong.” Really, what it translated to was this: I hated not knowing the future, not being able to chart the edges of my life and promise myself it would all be OK. One day, shortly before I moved, I stayed home from work because I had such a strong panic attack that I threw up mucus all over my sheets. I put the sheets in the bathtub, called my mom, and then, in order to stave off another wave of nausea, began knitting a mustard-yellow sweater.

My knitting predates my anxiety by about a decade. I learned when I was 6, making washcloths and coasters and doll blankets (which are actually all pretty much the same thing) and years later moving on to lace cardigans, Mad Men-style dresses, and a lifetime supply of mismatched mittens. Those began in 2008, the summer after high school, and the only time in my semi-adult life I’ve been truly unemployed and truly depressed. I was competing for part-time jobs at Victoria’s Secret and Sephora against people who had degrees in fashion merchandising. I felt formless and invisible, so I spent those three months waiting for my high school boyfriend to get out of his lifeguarding job. I would then pick fights with him and stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning watching cartoons alone on my ancient laptop. And even though I was over the moon about college, which I’d be starting in upstate New York in the fall, the present muck of it all made me feel nothing if not useless. I had nothing concrete to point at to prove that I was doing OK; I was claustrophobic and tense, all of a sudden scared of driving and blindingly angry (at the world but mostly at myself) that nobody wanted to give me a job, that nobody seemed to be able to see me.

About a month into this listless, lightless summer, I pulled out my knitting needles. I’d never really gotten past that first washcloth-shaped phase, occasionally making things that kind of looked like hats or sweaters but not quite a garment anyone would actually wear. I couldn’t read patterns and that alone felt like it walled me out from all the knowledge and inspiration floating around on the internet, among people much more skilled than me who knew how to speak that secret language.

Knitting, then, became my task. During one of those nights of cartoons I started to pore over books and YouTube videos, figuring out what it meant to seam a shoulder or turn a heel. I knitted my first real sweater, a bright-yellow cropped cardigan I don’t think I’ve ever worn, in a blurred week of near-insomnia. It didn’t matter that the sleeves were too bulky or that the buttonholes didn’t line up — here was something that was 100% mine, that seven days prior had been nothing but a pile of exceedingly raw materials. Nobody had asked me to knit or had given me permission; I just did it, and that power was enough to propel me into a summer of unbridled, fibery productivity. I could, in some small way, stop waiting to be chosen.

Still, over the last few years, my anxiety has expanded and mutated. It gorges itself on mistakes I make at work and feasts on fights with the people I love, anything that makes it look like the happiness I’ve harvested could all of a sudden disappear. My good, logical self tries to wrestle the twisted and bloated version or at least make it listen to reason: You will not be fired, he will not leave you, that had nothing to do with you so please slow your heartbeat. More often than not, these arguments don’t work.

But making things dims the roar. The rhythm of stitches, the steadiness and the solidity of the ever-growing project — these are REAL, the antidote to the made-up apocalyptic extrapolation that is my anxiety’s bread and butter. What’s more, they’re under your control, progressing at exactly the rate and (sometimes) in exactly the manner you choose. Crafting is a lot like sex or yoga, how it shrinks your immediate world down to this cozy, manageable size where all you have to focus on is what’s right in front of you; unlike sex, at the end you get a new pair of socks or a coaster. I can graph my life by the pile of finished (and not-so-finished) knitting projects nestled in the back of my wardrobe: a chunky lace shawl from my first summer interning in New York, a pair of leg warmers from a winter break spent worrying over a test I’d kind of sort of cheated on, a single slipper for an ex (the relationship ended before I could make the second one). They’re all imbued with a certain energy from the period I spent working on them, and that helps me trace how far I’ve come and how far I have left to go. They anchor me.

The moment you know you are a real knitter, for good and for keeps, is when you fix your first mistake. Before that you are a little helpless, seeking out the aid of teachers and internet walk-throughs to take you back to the place before you made the hole, quadrupled the stitches, yanked out the needle. That first summer I learned how to read my knitting, to know which loop had to be repaired in order to create the next one. It’s good practice for what I try to do every day in my non-knitting life, with my therapist and with my family and with myself: Trace the troubles back to their source so I can better know how to fix them. So often my defensiveness or my irrationality spring from that fear of not knowing what’s next, of not being in control of a given situation; so often a gaping hole in a sleeve just needs a little tug a few stitches back.

When I moved into the new apartment, one of the very first things I did was unpack my yarn. It’s arranged in rainbow-ish order on a bookshelf across from my bed, and so when I wake up in the morning it’s often the first thing I see. I like having all those colors around, all that squishy, toasty goodness, but more than that I like the potential of it. What will you be? I wonder of a large pile of marled green wool, three balls of unbleached cotton, a tiny skein of silk picked up at a festival near the college I’ve since graduated. The not knowing isn’t actually so bad. In fact, it could be the best part.

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These Photographers Will Trick Your Taste Buds With Their Delicious Pictures.

I hope you aren’t hungry right now, but if you are… Well, you will probably change your mind when you imagine taking a big bite of one these tasty looking treats. Artists T.Q. Lee and Jessica Dance have incredible talent when it comes to creating food out of things you definitely don’t want to eat.

For Lee, he found inspiration in the vintage food photography he grew up with in the 80s with their brightly colored, picturesque portraits. However, he decided to take a different, “modern,” approach with this ingredient list. Dance created her woolly odes in collaboration with photographer David Sykes for their project, “The Comfort Food Series.” Take a look!

“Waxed Rolled Socks w/ Dirty Hot Shaving Cream”

“Lamb Burger”

“Brekky Bricks w/ a glass of Red Oxide Turpentine”

“Knit Dog”

“Bicycle Tyre Burger w/ Bendy Straws”

“Knitted Christmas Dinner”

“Hot Rubber Glove w/ a Suds Spider”

“Knitted Left Overs”

“Intercontinental Pizza w/ extra Currency”

“Knitted Full English”

“Teddy Bear Tacos w/ a Fishnet Dip”

“Triple Layer Mud Cake”

Actually, I’m still pretty hungry after looking at these. Maybe just one bite won’t hurt?

Share the scrumptious photos with your friends using the buttons below!

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Extremely Chunky Pet Beds Knit By Anna Mo

Anna Mo, whose

See more of Anna Mo’s work here

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This Rocking Chair Knits You a Hat as You Rock Back and Forth

At the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne’s (ECAL) low-tech factory, two graduate design students have built a whimsical rocking chair that knits you a hat as you rock back and forth.

Swiss designers Damien Ludi and Colin Peillex use a series of gears that are triggered by the rocking chair’s motion to knit the hat.

Low-Tech Factory is a project by ECAL. The university of art and design is based in Renens (in the urban area of Lausanne, Switzerland) and is affiliated to the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland.


ECAL Low Tech Factory
The Rocking-Knit, “Low-Tech Factory” by ECAL
YouTube: ECAL Low-Tech Factory / Rocking-Knit
My Modern Met: Ingenious Rocking Chair Knits a Hat for You as You Sway Back and Forth

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What One Woman Did For A Girl With Cancer Turned Into A Force For Good

When Holly Christensen heard that her friend’s young daughter had cancer, she felt helpless. Beyond offering comfort and support, what else could she do? But when she sat down and thought about everything that little girls lose while undergoing chemotherapy, she had an idea.

While remedying the symptom of hair loss might seem superficial, it can do wonders for a little girl’s spirit. That’s why she started The Magic Yarn Project.

This is two-year-old Lily, who was diagnosed with lymphoma. She completed this adorable princess look with a gorgeous Rapunzel wig.

While she’s beautiful and strong regardless of what her hair looks like…

…the smile that lights up her face when she wears this yarn wig is priceless.

It’s amazing what a little boost of confidence can do for morale!

Soon, mothers from around the nation with daughters who were diagnosed with cancer started asking if Christensen would make wigs for their little ones.

How could she say no? Making these fighters look like Disney princesses makes them feel special.

She started making as many wigs as she possibly could.

Eventually, she needed more help. That’s when these volunteers stepped in. They donate time and resources to this noble cause.

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You can contribute by making some beanies! They serve as bases for the wigs.

You can also donate a bit of money to help cover costs.

(via Bored Panda)

For updates on how this wonderful organization is doing, follow them on Facebook, and remember to donate! Even the smallest contribution can help these little girls smile. The strength to keep fighting is just as important as receiving the right medical care.

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