Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thank You Yarn Harlot for the Knitting Olympics

My life is held together with sticks and string.  I am not the first, nor will I be last, who uses these materials to find comfort, strength, and MOST importantly community. 

On Friday, as the Olympic Torch was lit, I joined thousands of other knitters in the Knitting Olympics.  The Knitting Olympics were founded in 2006 by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot. The Knitting Olympics, as conceived by Stephanie, occur every four years in conjunction with the Winter Olympics.  It is a long story, but Stephanie did not announce that she would be hosting the 2010 Knitting Olympics until her post on February 5, 2010.

Eligibility: Any knitter who, embracing the "Citius, Alitius Fortius" ideal, would like to challenge themselves while embracing the Olympic spirit, and is just whacked enough to play along with me.

Concept: You must cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, Friday, February 12, 2010 and finish before the Olympic flame goes out Sunday, February 28. That's 17 days.

There are currently 3,928 athletes competing in the 2010 Knitting Olympics.  You can see a list, which includes me (A Knitter with Narcolepsy), here.  

I have chosen to knit Grove.  Mittens from Made in Brooklyn by Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed. I am knitting with 8-ply Supreme Possum Merino on size 7 needles.  This is smaller than gauge, which will make them perfect for my small hands (cue Jewel,).

I started knitting on Friday with a heavy heart.  I have been "dealing" with Menorrhagia for years.  My periods have always been heavy and my body is unable to compensate for the blood loss causing Iron Deficient Anemia.  It has taken a long time, but I have finally found a Physician, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, that I like and trust. He is a good listener, understands my perspective AND laughs at my jokes.  I have never been pregnant, and have never tried, but my Reproductive System is malfunctioning and I am relieved to have found a physician with the knowledge and experience to evaluate the entire system.

Earlier in the day on Friday, I had a Sonohysterogram to determine if my Menorraghia is due to a structural abnormality - like a polyp or fibroid.  The exam showed only an abnormally thickened endometrium.  My Menorrahgia is due to a hormonal imbalance, indicating "abnormal" ovulation.

It gets very complicated, and I will know more in a week or so after some additional test, but I may not be able to conceive.  I do not know how my Narcolepsy will effect what Fertility Treatments my body will be able to tolerate.

I may have started knitting on Friday with a heavy heart, but it was comforting to know that I was not alone.  Nearly 4000 other knitters were with me.  The spirit of the Knitting Olympics, as I understand it, is to choose to be challenged in order to advance our skills and grow as knitters.  I chose to accept the challenge of learning to knit joyfully during difficult times.

I made a few alterations to the pattern.  I decided to eliminate the first few rows of garter stitch and instead used my favorite tubular cast on, twisting the knit stitches as I "pulled" them up.  My least favorite part of mittens is picking up the stitches across the thumb gusset.  I am quite pleased with clever solution.  Instead of using the backward loop method to create a "bridge" of stitches across the thumb gusset I used my favorite provisional cast on.  This allowed me to have live stitches available when it was time to pick up across the gusset!  I find this method to be much easier and looks perfect!  (I will take some pictures of this method on the next mitten).

Last night I finally had a good cry, while on the phone with my mom.  I did a lot of crying, and little yelling - and my mom spoke softly, reminding me often how much she loved me.

I felt a little better and started to knit.  I finished the palm of the right mitten and it looked "nice".

I turned it inside out to do the three needle bind-off and....

... it literally took my breath away.  I LOVE this mitten so much more with the "inside" on the "outside".  I cannot describe the sense of calm and piece that came over me.  I had spent the past few days feeling "turned inside out" - incredibly raw and sad, and that heaviness was gone.  I created with my own hands tangible evidence that beauty and joy can be found by turning something inside out. 

I turned back to the designer's intended "outside" and did the three needle bind off.  I knew I should stop and document the moment with pictures, but I was too excited to knit the thumb with my new provisional cast-on technique.  After simply picking up the live stitches, I decided to go back and knit the live stitches.  The provisional cast on created a more of "obvious" loop to pick up than a "true" live stitch - most likely due to the twisted knit and purl ribbing.

I am so pleased with how this looks!  AND, now I will look forward to knitting the gussets of mittens, rather than dreading them.
Regardless of the physical and emotional pain that lies ahead, I am confident that sticks and string will continue to hold me together.  I will wear my "Grove Inside Out" mittens as proof that I am a knitter!

I would like to dedicate my "Grove Inside Out" mittens to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, founder of the Knitting Olympics.  Thank you Stephanie, and knitters everywhere, for the joy that we all create together.


  1. I'm not a knitter, BUT that is one gorgeous mitten! Gold medal, by my standards. ;-)

  2. That mitten is awesome!!! I was hoping for pictures when I saw your post.

    I hope everything improves for you and you get to a place where you have solutions as well as answers. Having a doctor who knows what's going on with you and what your options are is one of the best things that can happen. Family support is crucial as well. You keep hanging in there.

  3. Hi, I just wanted to say that your blog is really inspiring. And your mittens look amazing! Want to exchange links?
    creepercrafting.blogspot.com :)

  4. Hello-I'm new to your blog, but I'm glad I found it. Its awesome to be able to make something with your own two hands (I have taken up beading recently). Hang in there and I look forward to keeping up with this blog :-)