Monday, February 15, 2016

Slow Knitting: The Starry Starry Night Socks That Kept Me Going

Starry Starry Night socks (Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt from Interweave's Favorite Socks)

I always laugh when friends exclaim "you should sell those on Etsy!" over my projects because I'm pretty sure there is no sustainable business model for selling socks that take three months to knit.

No, slow knitting projects are like stately redwood trees, each ring (or row) imbued with depth and character and carrying echoes of the time in which you knit it—good or bad. The last three months have been tough—but these socks help me get through, and I thank them for it.

1. The Big Sock Bang

I first matched this intergalactic hand-painted yarn (Frolicking Feet in "Starry Starry Night" by Done Roving Yarns) to pattern ("Embossed Leaves" by Mona Schmidt from Favorite Socks) during the crafty high of last Me-Made-May. I was still on maternity leave, starting to feel like myself again and amusing myself by trying to photograph the kids and myself in as many me-mades as possible at a given time. Whee, look at us, we're all wearing things I made! Me!

Me Made May: Me and the kids in our handmades

2. Dark Sock Skies

And then I went back to work, and I was just too busy between nursing the baby all night, getting daughter to kindergarten early in the morning and pumping and work and EVERYTHING to take five minutes to gauge swatch what size needles I needed to use (thankfully the answer turned out to be 0, and not 000 like my last sock-yarn project).

3. From darkness, light

Fall came, and with it, misery. In November I started getting—and staying—sick. Constantly, endlessly sick, in a sickeningly familiar way. Our whole family would catch a mild cold, everyone else would get better in a few days, and I would end up bedridden with what felt like the flu—a high fever, aches, horrible pain in my face, unable to breathe through my nose, so hoarse I could barely speak. Over, and over, and over.

I never really recovered fully, but after 2-4 weeks I would slowly start to feel somewhat less awful ... I'd have one or two days of joy where I could slightly breathe through my nose... and then the cycle would begin all over again. Chronic sinusitis strikes again, just three years after the surgery that was supposed to fix it. SIGH.

So in the midst of this misery, I needed something happy I could do while:

  • Lying in bed feeling crummy
  • Riding the subway to work terrified a nearby straphanger would cough on me
  • Pumping and grimacing (I'm glad they exist but breast pumps are the WORST)
  • Waiting in waiting rooms — at one point I had 8 doctor or lab test appointments in two weeks.

So I knit my Starry Starry Night socks. I knit while loopy with fever. I knit while feeling sad I had to cancel playdates and get-togethers and miss work. I especially knit after I had to cancel Baby D's first birthday party — it was the first time we had invited lots of friends over to our new apartment, but I wasn't in a state to host. (I don't think he noticed, because: CAKE!)

I just looked down at those little needles and made one loop after another.

And now they are done, and blocked, and they fit, and I love them. And I am getting good medical care and getting better, and I love THAT.

Starry Starry Night socks (Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt from Interweave's Favorite Socks)

Too bad I chose a high-contrast variegated yarn for such a detailed lace pattern. You really can't see the embossed leaves at all!

This is my happy toes not caring:

Starry Starry Night socks (Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt from Interweave's Favorite Socks)

I think the little dude loves them too.

Starry Starry Night socks (Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt from Interweave's Favorite Socks)

I will say after all that slow knitting, I did need a quick-hit palate cleanser. So I've got a chunky-weight neon green alpaca "Wavy Moss" hat on the needles that I MUST finish by TOMORROW — I've lost three hats in the past month and it is COLD OUTSIDE.

Wavy Moss Atomic Green hat in progress

P.S. full Starry Night socks Ravelry details here. It's a lovely patttern, but the lace requires care and concentration and chart-reading, hence the slowness. I made them slightly snug so they wouldn't fall down and sag, and so far it is working a treat.


  1. Love the socks 😊 sorry to hear your health hasn't been good, hope you get successful treatment soon x

  2. Great socks!

    BTW, when I read of your sickness symptoms (the body aches particularly), I'm reminded of myself when I was at your age and stage. It's brutal when the kid gets sick (and better again in 4 minutes, happily) but you're down for the count for weeks. The one thing I'd suggest is that you look into body work (or MELT method, yoga tune up) for myofascial pain. You might be experiencing that as a corollary to your primary illness trigger. What I find now is that I can feel myofascial pain start to happen as I'm under the weather and, by working on the fascia, I can avoid or vastly diminish the symptoms of potential sickness. Now a cold is just a cold - not a week in bed with hideous body aches. And I'm rarely sick these days (though I am out of the kid as germ incubator phase). I swear, I'm not trying to be an armchair alternative medical practitioner! I rarely suggest this to peeps, much less over the internet, but your long-term symptoms, which I've read about for years, really resonate.

    You're a full-time working mother with 2 kids in a seriously hardcore urban centre. You're a wife, a person who manages a home. And then there's the urge to be a human being in your own right, every once in a while! You're basically functioning on everybody else's terms 99 per cent of the time and it's very likely going to to continue to take a toll (esp. as you move through your 30s into your 40s) unless you get to the root of the issue.

    Feel free to ignore me (or to tell me to mind my business!) - I'm not trying to tell you how it is. But if this resonates, a great naturopath might be the next doc to visit (even if your allopathic docs are wonderful for managing symptoms and full blown illness).

  3. Sorry to hear it's been rough. And those are amazing socks! And glad to hear that you're getting the medical care you need. So, more socks! ;)

  4. Ugh, the neverending illnesses! That's my least favorite part of winter. A combination of my kids getting a bit older (and me getting more sleep) plus all the preventative respiratory measures - steroid inhaler and flonase every day - have so far kept me from sinking low into a chronic infection and horrible asthma as I have in years past. My issue is obviously different from yours, but it's the same kind of
    "sense of impending doom" at the first sign of a cold - like, is this going to last for four weeks and require nebulizer treatments? EFF ME. So glad you're feeling better now, and hope to see more blog posts. I'm glad I follow you on instagram!

  5. Thank you everyone for the kind words!

  6. I miss your blog posts. I hope you are doing well! You must be super busy with your kids, your business and your new house.


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