Finished objects eleven to fifteen

Here we go again! Because I’ve run out of things to write in this introduction, here’s an article about a couple who knit all sorts of cool maths-related objects. I’m particularly inspired to try the hexaflexagon and Pseudoku designs.

CUWiP mug cosy

This was my first experience of doing cable knitting. I wanted to start small, so used this pattern to make a cosy for my rather spiffy CUWiP-branded mug. Unfortunately it’s a little too big, meaning it doesn’t really stay on the mug as it should, so I’m probably going to make another one that is slightly smaller. I’m really pleased with how the cables came out, though.

Double moss stitch scarf

Not much to say about this scarf – it’s very similar to the others I’ve done for Knit for Peace. This is the sort of thing I like to knit while watching TV because it doesn’t require much concentration.

Hurricane hat

Unusually for me, this yarn isn’t purely acrylic – it’s an alpaca-acrylic blend that I picked up in Ruddocks of Lincoln (now closed, unfortunately) for use in another project that didn’t pan out. I knitted this hat for myself, using this pattern, but decided to donate it because it didn’t really suit me after all. I really love this pattern though – it’s so simple, but so effective.

Blue box experiment

Technically this isn’t a finished object, but I’ve listed it as such because I’m quite proud of it. I designed this illusion knitting pattern myself using Microsoft Excel and was intending to knit a whole scarf, but stopped when I realised that that TARDIS design was too stretched out. Maybe it’s falling into a black hole and undergoing spaghettification. Regardless, I’m glad I gave this a go and now I know how the pattern needs to be altered, so in future I can try again.

Festival socks

These were my first completed pair of socks – I started another, but frogged them when I realised I’d used yarn that was too thick. I really love this yarn, which is Wendy Festival Chunky “T in the Park”, and the pattern I used was easy to follow. Unfortunately they didn’t fit me well, so I sent them to Knit for Peace. It’s nice to be able to pass perfectly good knits that don’t quite suit me onto a good home rather than having them languish in a drawer somewhere. It makes me more inclined to attempt challenging projects knowing that, whatever happens, I won’t be wasting my time or yarn.

And that’s it for this batch of knits! Hopefully by the time I write my next post I’ll have come up with some better ideas for introductions and conclusions…

Relevant links:

I am not the problem

This blog post deals with emotional abuse, mental distress and suicide.

I had my first panic attack a few months before my sixteenth birthday. One of my family members decided I was going to have a huge blowout party and my objections weren’t going to get in the way of that. I remember very clearly where I was when they started shouting at me, refusing to take no for an answer – until I started hyperventilating. Looking back, I’m glad their behaviour at least had some limits.

After this incident I had to see a counsellor at school for a while. At the time it made perfect sense that the counselling focused on my dislike of parties as a topic on its own, not connected to anything else. The problem was me and the way I was; I had to be fixed so I could be normal. At home I was told I was miserable, too sensitive, hard work, couldn’t take a joke. My family member’s behaviour, the direct reason for the panic attack, was never even mentioned in the counselling. I didn’t even see it as significant myself until about four and a half years ago, when I started having flashbacks to this and dozens of other incidents involving this person and other family members.

I’ve had a lot of counselling and therapy since and am currently being treated with trauma-focused CBT. Essentially I have all the symptoms of PTSD, but because I never feared for my life I can’t be formally diagnosed with it. I’m receiving the same treatment I would get if I were to be formally diagnosed though, so it doesn’t matter that much overall. I’ve also done a lot of work on my own, including reading the stories of other people who grew up in similar circumstances. It’s much harder to dismiss what happened to me when I do this and see that abuse doesn’t have to be happening every minute of every day to a criminal level to be damaging.

The most useful thing I’ve realised in this process is that I am not the problem. My mental health issues are essentially maladaptive coping mechanisms I developed to deal with what I’d argue was the real problem: the hurtful behaviour of the people who should have been looking out for me. These coping mechanisms helped on some level, but they’re not helping any more, so I’m working to find some healthier ones. Recognising that there was a reason I developed them – one more meaningful than the much-cited “chemical imbalance” – has really helped to shift my perspective. I no longer feel as if there’s something inherently wrong with me or that my issues came out of nowhere and are too mysterious to fully address. It gives me hope for recovery. It has also helped me to stop over-identifying with my mental health issues to the extent where I use them as an excuse for not growing as a person or focus on them so much that they get worse.

I recently listened to “Pepper Spray”, the second episode of the “Sincerely, X” podcast, which contained the following suggestion for treating people with trauma: approach them from the perspective of “what happened to you?”, not “what’s wrong with you?” That really sums up what I’m trying to say (so I kind of wish I’d heard it before starting to write this post!).

It’s not about blaming my family for all my problems – it’s about recognising where my problems started, seeing how my beliefs and behaviours developed from there and using those revelations to grow as a person. When I first realised the extent of what happened to me as a child I rushed to “forgive” people and feel sorry for whatever situation “made them do it”. When this didn’t solve anything I swung into impotent anger and thoughts of “why me?”, which eventually turned into “well, why not me?” when I realised how common abuse is and recognised that I would never get a satisfying answer to the question. I am still angry that I was treated badly and no one stepped in, but it’s not as destructive now. It’s frustrating that I have these issues because my family members were too oblivious to work on their own issues, but I’ve come to accept it and realise that I’m a stronger person for it. I pity my family members, but I don’t accept their excuses. I actually feel like less of a victim and more of a survivor now I fully understand the source of my issues.

When I was a teenager the family member mentioned above told me that I might as well kill myself. They told me how I should do it too, just in case I was stuck for ideas. When I feel particularly bad, I’m right back in that moment, and in the aftermath where I had to “be the bigger person” and apologise. (I can’t remember exactly what I said to elicit that reaction, but I think I responded to a question in a tone of voice that they found disrespectful. To be fair, I don’t think the reaction would be justified in any situation.) When I’m in that mental space I can’t help but think: if it weren’t true, why would my own family member say such a thing? When I’m feeling better I can recognise how ridiculous this behaviour was. I would never tell someone to kill themselves, let alone a child. To make things even more ridiculous it happened out loud in a public place; as an adult, if I saw that happening, I hope I’d have the strength to intervene. I actually find it particularly cathartic to laugh at my family members’ behaviour, which I like to think of as tantrums. To me this is part of the process of turning the chaos of traumatic memories into the relative order of regular, less intrusive ones (introduced to me as the linen cupboard metaphor). Here’s an example: whenever I took part in a play or concert at school, the family member previously mentioned would get angry if I didn’t wave to them from the stage. How thin-skinned must they have been for that to be such a profound insult? And they say people my age are “snowflakes”…

As I said, I do not see myself as a victim. Overall I have been incredibly lucky. I’m the first in my family to go to university and get a degree. I’ve held down several jobs and am valued by my employer. I survived abuse and have made a conscious decision to break the cycle. I probably won’t put the latter achievement on my CV, but it’s definitely the one I’m most proud of.

BSc (Hons) Open (Open)

The title of this blog post is now also my title!

Yes, last night I accepted my degree and officially graduated with a 2:1. I now have an Open Degree from the Open University, hence the repetition above. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, and the only thing left to go wrong would be not receiving my diploma in the post. (I’m not bothering with a degree ceremony because it feels like a waste of money to me – I know I’m a bit weird though.)

It feels very strange to be completely finished. To be honest, I was expecting to feel worse about not getting a First, but it’s not something I’m too fussed about. I can’t go back in time to get better results and I’ve done well enough to not be too disadvantaged when applying for jobs or future study. Even though I enjoy learning and studying, I felt a bit stuck in a state of perpetual studenthood. Now I can move on to exciting new things (hopefully – I have to admit I doubt anyone will actually want to employ me!).

I’ve had so much support from so many people along the way and consider myself very lucky to have been able to get my degree. Now it’s time to join the real world at last…

Finished objects six to ten

It’s been ages since I posted my first five finished objects, and I’ve completed quite a few more since then. I didn’t really do much knitting in the months running up to my final exams, but hopefully now they’re over I’ll get back into it. This post starts with two of my overall favourite projects, so it was particularly fun to reflect on them.

Green Rosalind scarf

This scarf (designed by Alice Bell) is the reason I started knitting. A project combining science with knitting, named after Rosalind Franklin? Sign me up! When you look at it straight-on it just looks like a stripy scarf, but the DNA spiral is revealed when you look at it from an angle – this is called illusion knitting. It only uses knit and purl stitch so is easy even for beginners and it’s very satisfying to see the pattern emerging as you progress. The most important thing is keeping track of the row you’re on, which you can double-check by counting the stripes. I did make a couple of mistakes, but they aren’t too noticeable. If I make another one of these, which I probably will, I’ll make it a bit longer and also see if I can prevent it curling so much at the edges, because it took ages to block. Alternatively, I could learn to be a bit more patient. (I can’t remember what yarn I used to make this, but it was double knit and acrylic.)

Tea cosy

This teapot belonged to my Grannie and came with me when I left home for university. At first I used a tea cosy that looked a lot like this one, but I wanted to try knitting one. However, due to the teapot’s unusual shape I couldn’t find a pattern that worked, so I decided to make up one of my own. I did a bit of measuring and used double pointed needles to create it as one seamless piece. I used a basic rib pattern for the main body of it, then decreased stitches to create the flat top. I accommodated the knob on top of the lid by stopping the decreases for a couple of rows, then restarting the decreases to finish off. It doesn’t look particularly polished, but it does its job and I’m actually quite proud of how I put it together all by myself. The yarn is Cygnet Seriously Chunky in the colour “Candyfloss”, which also made an appearance in my last post.

 Orange hat

The yarn I used for this project, Robin Super Chunky in the colour “Marigold”, was a somewhat misguided purchase. I’d intended to use it for a pair of socks for someone, but when it arrived I realised it was a paler orange than I’d expected and I honestly wasn’t too keen. It was still perfectly good yarn though, so I used it to make this simple hat instead, combining the instructions from here and here. I was aiming to make a child-sized hat, but it ended up being adult-sized, as you can see from the picture on the right. According to my Ravelry notes, it was “a nightmare to finish”, but I can’t remember that at all so it can’t have been too bad. Gordon actually quite liked this hat, but I sent it off to Knit for Peace because I have another pattern in mind for him. Hopefully someone out there likes pale orange!

Diagonal rib scarf

This was another Knit for Peace project, again using “Candyfloss”. Not much I say about it, except that I really like the diagonal rib pattern, which I found in this book that my mum passed onto me.

Purple lattice scarf

And another Knit for Peace project using a stitch from the Harmony Guide! This one didn’t work as well – the lattice pattern isn’t as pronounced as I would have liked – but it was still okay. I can’t recall what yarn I used, but it was chunky and acrylic. (Side note: most of the yarn I’ve used and have in my stash is acrylic because (1) I’m cheap and (2) I don’t want to donate items that are going to be itchy or difficult to clean.)

Here’s my Ravelry profile again – feel free to add me if you don’t mind me nosing through your projects!