I broke. But I’m not broken.

I broke.

There’s a difference between breaking and being broken. To break is to fall apart. To shatter. To BE broken is to linger in that state: pieces on the floor, jagged edges sharp and untouchable.

Picture… a teapot. Sure, why not. This teapot seemed perfectly fine when it left the factory. In fact, it was very valuable; when it was brought home the whole family came to admire it.

But maybe the teapot came with an issue no one could see. Maybe its walls were a little thinner, less resilient than the others in its lot. Maybe it was unevenly manufactured. Imbalanced.

Over time, the porcelain began to discolour. It retained the memories of all the tea it has made. You can’t see this darkness unless you look inside. But it’s there.

The teapot isn’t flawless any more.

At first the problems are small; tiny spider web cracks lengthening and connecting, forming spots that can’t be trusted to be strong. You can see them if you know what to look for: hair-fine fault lines marring the rest. You might make a note to yourself to be gentler, not to put too much pressure on something that is already falling apart.

The word for cracking porcelain is crazing.

Then one day you pick up this teapot, just like you have every day of your life, and it shatters in your hand. Everything it held inside bursts out, making a mess so big it seems it will never be cleaned up. Some pieces will cut you when you try to retrieve them. Others don’t seem to fit anywhere. It’s overwhelming. You gather the pieces up as best you can and dump them in a box to deal with later.

Months pass. You take up cross-stitch, you knit, you watch terrible reality TV just to keep yourself distracted. You stay up all night because every time you close your eyes you see those broken pieces and you can’t imagine how you’ll begin to put them back together. And unless you’re willing to throw it all away you’ve got to fix this at some point.

You learn to ask for help. Someone to help hold the pieces together while the glue dries. You learn to accept the pot’s new limitations. You handle it more carefully. You let yourself appreciate its imperfections, its tiny missing chips. And while you worry every day that it may shatter again, you wake in the morning and use it anyway. After all, it’s the only teapot you have.

I broke. But I’m not broken.

If you are struggling with mental illness, you are not alone. Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day to raise awareness of mental illness and to support those affected. For every post today on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell Canada will donate 5 ¢ to Canadian mental health initiatives that support people like me.

Post-Christmas Reveal!

I hope you all had a fantastic winter holiday of your choosing.

Us Sniders (past, present, and honorary) gathered at my in-laws’ yesterday for Christmas dinner. C and I brought gifts for the kids — “kids” in this sense including his 15-year-old little sister. Which worked out well, considering that when I saw a certain pattern I knew I had to knit it for her.

dmscarf1

She’s a Harry Potter nut — she knows everything, and I mean everything about the series. Her favourite House is Gryffindor, hence the colours. But she’s not 100% pro-good-guy: she mentioned a while ago that she wanted a Dark Mark tattoo.

Which brings us to the best part:

dmscarf2

dmscarf3

Illusion knitting uses strategic knits and purls to create peaks and valleys that, when viewed on an angle, reveal a picture. It was a ton of fun to knit, and I think she really liked it (“You could knit for me next Christmas” is probably the most enthusiasm you’ll get from a teenager).

The pattern information is here; it’s free with a free Ravelry membership. If you make one, let me know! I’d love to see other versions.

Oh, and of course I made my father-in-law’s favourite ginger-molasses cookies, because there is nothing worse than seeing a grown man cry.

gingercookies

Have a great day everyone!

Super-Last-Minute Holiday Knitting Patterns

I FINISHED MY CHRISTMAS KNITTING!!!

Ohhhhh yeahhhh, that feels nice.

It’s a tradition of mine to make presents that are much more complicated/time-consuming/difficult than they ought to be, and then to procrastinate, which usually means panicked Christmas Eve crafting and cursing. I always pull it out at the end, but there’s always that awful feeling of what if.

Not this year.

I can’t talk about it yet, or post pictures, because my family reads my blog, but trust me: IT RULES. Pics to follow after Christmas.

In the meantime, if you’re panicked and looking for something last-minute to knit, check out these patterns:

7556617618_a19a2506b4

pattern

3125860002_ac2d6f94b2

pattern

And if you’re really pressed for time:

il_570xN.396205073_q8gb

pattern

I made a tiny sweater once. It only took an afternoon, and came out really cute:
180787_10150407254840112_4337432_n

You’ve got two full days to finish your shit. You got this.

Domestic Little Weekend

This weekend was exactly what I needed. The week was exhausting, and stressful, and I still feel like the whole week flew by without my getting anything done. By the time Friday night rolled around all I felt like doing was hanging out under blankets and reading. So I did. Saturday we meant to go to the movies, but by the time C finished work neither of us was in the mood. So we had a nice dinner out, then bought movies and snuggled up on the couch. Today I went to a book sale with my mom, and out for brunch.

Then I spent the afternoon cleaning, and reorganizing, and reading the Young House Love blog. It’s time to get the house ready to be closed up all winter, to fill it with yummy smells and baking bread and rich, heavy meals. It’s the time when I start reading cooking and decorating blogs and making plans to cozy up the place. As much as I hate winter, it gives me a great excuse to just be comfortable at home.

This winter I think we’ll finally get around to redoing the living room floor. I want to get C’s blanket finished. I want to master this whole Crock-Pot thing and spend more time making good food.

The outside world is getting faster and harder and, frankly, meaner as time goes on, but that only means that home is more important than ever. So if you need me, I’ll be here: reading and knitting and working on my writing career. Working on what matters, what makes me happy.

Why I Won’t Knit for Free

Lately I’ve been taking my knitting along to work with me. You know me and my fidgety fingers: if there’s spare time to be had, I’m using it.

I’ve sold some of my knitting in the past to coworkers and friends-of-friends. I knit for free for family, of course, but even then, depending on the project, I’ve been known not to get around to it for a really. Long. Time. I’m working on this blanket for my husband…at this point he’s wanted a blanket for three years.

Anyway.

One of my coworkers asked if I’d ever auctioned off any of my knitting. Oh no, I thought, here it comes.

“…because my nephew’s hockey team is looking for items to auction off…one lady’s mittens sold for sixty dollars!”

I never really know what to say in these situations. I’m not great at saying no. So what came out was something like, “No, I don’t knit unless it benefits me. Sorry,” which, while true, came out wrong and totally makes me sound like a bitch. Here’s what I meant:

I won’t knit for you for free because:

1. Knitting takes time. This is listed first for a reason. My time is valuable to me. I like to spend it in ways I enjoy, which, when it comes to (free) knitting, means at my own leisure and on projects of my choosing. Believe it or not, even someone speedy like The Yarn Harlot can take 16 hours or more to knit a single pair of socks. I can do a lot of other things in 16 hours.

2. Knitting costs money. True, I have the needles already. But if I’m making your project for free, I’ll need to supply yarn. I’ll either need to give up some of my stash, which cost me money, or go purchase new yarn, which will cost me money. Either way, I’d be paying to do you a favour. Not happening.

3. No one works for free. Do you know how much money those mittens would “cost”, in real-life terms, if I charged by the hour? Do you realize that I’d have to give up other things in my life to make the time to knit for you? Would you come over and make me 16 free dinners? Or wash 16 loads of my laundry for me? Why not?

4. It’s my hobby, and therefore it needs to benefit me. When I knit for myself, this is a no-brainer. I get to use the end product: wear the sweater, use the gloves to keep warm, revel in the luxury of perfectly-fitted socks. When I knit for family, in ways that’s even better: I take time to pick just the right project, and colour, and yarn. I sit and smile to myself, imagining the recipient enjoying whatever it is that I’m making. It makes me no money, but it’s incredibly rewarding. If I donate my knitting to a charity — which someday I’d like to — I’ll still feel the warmth of knowing I’ve kept a preemie’s head warm, or gotten a handmade bear to a child with cancer, or whatever.

When I’ve knit for paying customers, that glowing feeling is replaced with cold, hard cash. Still beneficial.

If I give you something to auction for a league sport, neither of these things happens. You could just as easily sell chocolate bars.

5. I plain don’t feel like it right now, which means forcing myself would make it feel like work, and we’ve established I don’t work for free.

This isn’t the first time this has come up since I taught myself to knit. It’s kind of strange, if you think about it: asking someone (oftentimes a mere acquaintance) to give up hours and hours of their time and some of their money, as if it’s something you’re entitled to. Sure, I enjoy my knitting, but I bet there’s lots of mechanics who enjoy their work, and I don’t see them giving away free engine overhauls.

Today Looks Like This.


The Mariah sweater in progress. What I’ve cleverly disguised is that I have less than one half of one sleeve done. Instead, gaze upon my (limited) productivity!
It’s going to be a cold Autumn wearing what amounts to a washcloth.


Then I came downstairs and stumbled on this scene. At first I was touched to see the cats actually enjoying a nap together. But look closer — Zoey’s tail has formed a careful buffer zone around Jadie. I got a sour look for catching them almost touching. They mutually disgust one another.

I haven’t opened any windows or blinds yet today, and the house is chilly from last night. I’m going to hang out under a blanket, knitting and watching online documentaries for the rest of the day.

What’s your day like today?