StressKnits

My Year of Andrea: A Year of Knitting and Learning to Love Myself.

Stacy OliverComment
All of my Year of Andrea Projects

All of my Year of Andrea Projects

Last year while I was stuck in bed in the hospital 2 weeks before my daughter Eliza was born I was bored. I wan’t allowed to walk anywhere, I was alone most of the day, I was scared. Between visits from my husband, friends, and family, all I could do was knit, watch something, or listen to something. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t knit. I hate watching TV in the hospital, it makes me feel dizzy and nauseous. So I would watch knitting podcasts, movies, and TV shows on my phone. Or if I was sick of watching I would turn on a podcast (usually true crime) and just listen. 2 weeks of sitting in a hospital bed trying not to have a baby is a LONG time. So there were moments where I wouldn’t want to knit, so I would browse instagram and ravelry. Andrea Mowry had just wrapped up her Harlow Hat 4 day challenge over memorial weekend and I was craving casting one on, but I didn’t have yarn for new cast ons with me, and my own personal stash was lacking in yarn that would make the perfect hat. So I started online window-shopping and added the pattern to my ever growing queue. As I was browsing my queue dreaming of what I would cast on once I was finally out of the hospital I started noticing a pattern in my patterns; they were almost all Andrea Mowry designs.

I fell in love with Andrea’s designs with find your fade, which I think is pretty common for most of us, and have been knitting her stuff ever since. But I was always searching for the perfect yarn, or nervous about the finished object not being perfect, or not ending up how I envisioned. So I decided right there in that hospital bed that I would spend the next year casting on one of her designs every month, starting with the Harlow Hat.

After a month in the hospital which included a NICU stay for Eliza and re-admittance for an infection for me, we were finally able to come home (I was still being visited by a home nurse every other day for the next month, so it took a while to settle into our house with our daughter). During one of Eliza’s naps that July, I decided to cast on the Harlow hat. The cast on took a few tries but once I figured it out ( with the help of tutorials) it was a wonderful rhythmic knit. Brioche used to be this mystifying stitch that I would really have to focus on when I was knitting, but this hat made it feel as simple at stockinette.

The Harlow hat took a back seat when I was picked to be a test knitter for the Throwback sweater. I can’t even begin to explain the excitement I felt when I got the email saying I was chosen to test knit. I ordered yarn and cast on immediately. This sweater was so much fun! It got me through countless pumping sessions that ended in tears because my body wasn’t producing enough. It was my focus when I was doing everything in my power to try to produce more milk. It was my comfort when I was hooked up to a machine more than I was able to hold my daughter. It was my solace when I realized I could never keep up with my growing girl and had to end my breastfeeding journey much sooner than I had hoped. This sweater saw so many nights of tears when I felt like a failure and that my body had betrayed me for the millionth time.

The Throwback

The Throwback

When my wound had finally healed, and I was no longer connected to my wound vac 24/7, I was able to dye yarn again. I started experimenting with new dye and new techniques I was constantly thinking about while in the hospital. Something I had wanted for a long time was the perfect mint green with darker green speckles, so I tried to dye something like that and after a few skeins that just missed the mark, my succulents colorway was born. The moment I saw the colorway I knew I had to use it in my next cast on, Birds of a Feather. This shawl was a labor of love. It took months to finish, but I’m so glad that I have it. It’s such a beautiful and light shawl that I can wear year round. If that shawl taught me anything, it’s that I love mohair but not on its own.

Both the Harlow hat and the throwback sweater used Spincycle yarns which I had loved from a distance for most of my knitting life, never knowing what to do with it. Once I started knitting with it, I couldn’t stop. So in October I cast on The Shift. It was my first journey into mosaic knitting and I loved every second of it.

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One of the patterns I knew I had to knit during my year of Andrea was Wool and Honey. It’s a sweater that I’ve loved ever since I saw the first picture of it. I love a good honeycomb motif, I love a good wooly sweater, I love a boxy shape, I just love this sweater. So when one of my favorite yarn stores, Wool and Honey, was having a knit-a-long for the sweater I knew I had to join (the discount didn’t hurt either). I knit feverishly on this thing. It’s all I would do any time Eliza was sleeping. I tried so hard to get it done in the month that the knit-a-long was running, but I was a sleeve short. I never miss a deadline, and here I was, not done. It was weirdly devastating. It added to all of my shame and failure I felt, and to top it all off it was too big. And looking back on it now I know that I was deep into my postpartum depression and even if i would have finished on time and had it fit, I would have found something to blame myself for. I took this beautiful sweater, that I loved, and turned it into this object that represented everything that had gone wrong in the past year. I put the sweater in a drawer and haven’t looked at it since, until now. Now that I’m feeling happier and more confident, I’ll figure out if I actually love the fit (I kind of like it now?) or if I’ll give it to a friend, or maybe even frog it and knit a size down.

After that sweater mess I decided I needed to take a break from sweaters and cast on the Night Shift in December. It was the perfect project to work on during the holidays. The ever changing colors of spincycle really kept this knit fun and interesting, and it was just what I needed to clear my mind, move forward, and enjoy our first Christmas as a family.

Once the new year hit, I decided it was finally time to cast on the sweater that I knew I would love, the Weekender. This sweater looks good on EVERY BODY. I’m not a big fan of a bottom up sweater, but I would knit this again and again. Once I finished and I tried it on, I realized that I could knit sweaters that fit me and actually fit into my wardrobe. I didn’t have to knit something to fit into a trend in the knitting community (hello imposter syndrome, you can leave now). The Weekender gave me permission to enjoy what I was making. It gave me permission to use a more affordable yarn (shout out to Candance[Transitory] who inspired me to use Knit Picks stroll tweed once I saw her finished sweater) and not feel guilty about it. This was the turning point in my journey, I was no longer going to knit what I thought people would want to see, I was going to knit the patterns I wanted in the yarn I wanted and enjoy it!

Enter Ronan. Ronan is my ideal sweater. I’ve bought many sweaters with this silhouette. I had that yarn to knit this for a while, but I was nervous that it would never fit my postpartum body. Or if it fit, that it wouldn’t look good on me. But I really wanted this sweater. So for my birthday month (February) I finally gave in and cast on the sweater of my dreams. It’s quite a large undertaking because of how long and oversized it is, plus the giant brioche shawl collar, so I’m still working on it. It’s actually the only project from my year of Andrea that’s still on the needles, I’m hoping to finish in the next two months, but whenever I finish it, I know it will be a sweater I wear all of the time.

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I was focused so hard on my Ronan that I almost forgot to cast on something in March. I was packing up a group of mini skeins to send for yarn support when I saw the most gorgeous pink fade. It made me think that I need to cast on one of two faded projects, either the Comfort Fade Cardi or the So Faded pullover. I really wanted a project that would go pretty quickly so I opted for the Comfort Fade Cardi since it’s knit in a heavier yarn and would come back to the So Faded later. I dyed up my cream to pinky/brown fade and cast on. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this sweater except that I love it and I’m going to wear it all the time once the weather gets chilly. I’m so glad I waited to knit this sweater until I had the perfect fade. I can picture myself curled up on the couch in this sweater watching football and eating apples that we just picked at the orchard.

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In April I was starting to get into the full swing of prepping for my first time vending at a knitting event. I really wanted to show off my worsted base in one of my minty semi solids. I pulled a sweaters quantity of Lake Effect out of the shop and cast on my new favorite sweater, the Weekender, immediately. We were going to visit my sister in law in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so I knew I would have at least 9 hours each way to knit on this sweater. Oh boy was that a mistake. I don’t know how I messed up or where I messed up, but the faux seam running up the middle of the front and back was off center. When I was binding off the neckline I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice. When I was doing the 3 needle bind off for the shoulders the front and back were uneven. But I fudged all of it and pretended that I didn’t care. I even knit an entire sleeve. This might have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in knitting. The moment I tried on this sweater and realized the faux seams were off center I should have frogged it. It stayed in time out for a few months, but when I pulled it out to finish the second sleeve I couldn’t stand it. My first Weekender wasn’t perfect either, and I’ll probably give it to a friend who will wear it more than I will, but I still love it. I can see myself knitting a bunch of them in different colors because it really is the perfect sweater. But I just can’t live with all of these mistakes. So for the first time in my knitting life, I’m admitting defeat and I’m going to frog the sweater and try again.

It was memorial day once again and Andrea posted that she was going to host another 4-day hat challenge. I knew I had to join this time so I ordered some spincycle and patiently waited for the announcement. I was planning on knitting the Ghost Ranch hat, but when she released the shiftalong hat for the knit-a-long I knew i had to knit it. After 3 days of knitting nothing but this hat I finished! It’s the perfect hat that I can see myself wearing all fall and winter and I can see myself knitting this one a few more times and even one for my daughter.

As my year of Andrea was coming to a close I decided to return to her sweater patterns, and cast on a pink So Faded pullover in my hand dyed yarn. I love fingering weight sweaters and this one is no exception. I cast on a size with more ease than the pattern calls for, because I know that’s what I like. I’m so glad that I did! I finished this sweater a few days ago and I can already tell that I’m going to wear this sweater all of the time. I love it so much that I’m knitting my daughter the pint sized version in the left over yarn. When I tried this sweater on for the first time last night I was a little nervous that it would be too small. I was nervous that I would feel uncomfortable in it, that it might be too cropped. When I looked in the mirror I smiled. I love this sweater and the way it makes me feel. It’s in yarn that I love, it’s that perfect size where it’s cozy but doesn’t look sloppy. I feel so confident in this sweater, it’s intoxicating. This is how I always want to feel.

The last project I cast was another test knit, the Stonecrop Pullover. I used the exact same yarn I used in my first project: Spincycle and Quince & Co. This year had come full circle. The stonecrop was a bit out of my comfort zone, and as I was knitting it I didn’t think I would ever wear it, not even to Rhinebeck. It has a lot of details, bobbles, cables, texture, and colorwork. Part of me wondered if this would look good on my body, if it would call attention the parts of me I was trying to love but still struggled loving in pictures. As I was blocking the sweater I was dreading my husband taking pictures of me in it. I was really nervous I wouldn’t want to share these pictures on instagram. Once I put the sweater on, I felt nothing but confidence. It hit me in all of the right places, it fit like I wanted it to, it looked cute with high waisted jeans. I felt good in this sweater, I felt proud in this sweater.

Stonecrop Pullover

Stonecrop Pullover

And then it was over. I had cast on an Andrea Mowry pattern every month for the past year. I finished all except for 2 (the Ronan that I’m still working on and my second Weekender that I’m frogging). This year has been a rollercoaster (aren’t they all?) but I’ve learned a lot, and these designs helped me through.

  • It’s okay to not knit with the yarn or colors in the pattern pictures, in fact you’ll like it better if you knit what you want. I know this feels like common sense, but I’ve struggled with this since I started knitting.

  • Not everything is going to fit and that’s okay. It’s not a failure. It’s an opportunity to learn more about what styles you like and what fits into your wardrobe.

  • Knit for your body. This is something I’ve struggled with since I’ve had my daughter. My body has drastically changed due to medications I was put on and I’ve been struggling to feel comfortable in my own skin ever since. I’ve realized that it’s okay to want to feel good now. It’s okay to knit that sweater to fit now. I deserve to feel good now. Andrea’s patterns gave me that confidence, especially the Weekender, So Faded, and Stonecrop. I highly recommend these three patterns to every knitter I know.

  • Stop trying to knit what every one else is knitting. This includes patterns and yarn. If you like it, go for it. But if you’re doing it to just fit in with the trends it’s not going to be worth it. I’ve felt like I had to knit the popular yarn/pattern so many times. But now that I have embraced knitting what I love and not caring if other people love it, I enjoy my knits so much more and I will wear my knits more if I genuinely love them.


Thank you all so much for following this journey, and for everyone who started their own year of Andrea. It was such an amazing ride.

I’m obviously going to keep knitting her designs and I can’t wait to share more of them!



Music and Color

Stacy Oliver

I’m inspired by many things. My family, flowers, trees, podcasts, television, movies, ect. But by far the greatest inspiration is music! Last year I created the Mixtape collection, 5 special colorways inspired by some of my favorite songs. But those are not the only song inspired colorways that I have! So I thought I would share the story behind my song inspired colorways and also share a playlist of these amazing songs so that you can listen for yourself! I highly recommend this playlist for drives with the windows open!

You can find the playlist on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6nHlELknbLjrn5xF5tAAPp?si=1lFiM4I1SnKE4nMSIKB_OQ

Some of these stories are personal and there is talk of depression and miscarriage.

Sweet Disposition

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Song: Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap

I fell in love with this song while watching the movie 500 days of summer. I know, I know. But 15 year old me really loved it and all of it’s quirky rom com (kind of ) ness. There’s something about this song that makes me feel like I’m driving with all of the windows down and out of the front window all I see is a city on the horizon in a pink haze right before sunset. And that’s where this colorway was born. I tried to recreate that exact feeling on a skein of yarn. It’s one of my oldest colorways, and most popular colorways. I think it’s a forever favorite.

Rattle

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Song: Rattle by Penny & Sparrow

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I heard this song for the first time at a bar in Columbus Ohio. My friend from college, Kayla really wanted to see this band and she thought I would be the one who would dig their chill and sad music. She was right. So we took a 3 hour road trip north to watch them play. My husband (then boyfriend) asked Kayla if he could surprise me and show up and he did. We stood in the back of this dark and dingy bar while 2 hipster dudes with one guitar sang. I can remember hearing them sing for the first time in this moment. I felt like my world stopped and that I was the only one in the room with them. It sounds a little woo woo but their music resinated with me in a way that no other music had. Then they decided to play a new song, Rattle. It’s about battling that inner monologue of not being good enough. Not feeling like you’re worthy of love. It hit me HARD. I don’t know why but it was exactly what I was feeling. I was in the middle of a pretty long and horrible depressive episode and the song just felt so personal. I wasn’t dyeing yarn at that moment in my life, but about 2.5 years after that moment in the bar with these two guys and one guitar singing, I knew I had to translate it into a yarn I could have forever. The dark grey and deep mauve tones felt like the perfect representation of that time in my life and also the comfort that this song brought to me. I was knitting a sweater in this colorway when I miscarried by son, James, and it was the perfect project to work on while I was in those early and hard days of grieving.

Ophelia

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Song: Ophelia by The Lumineers

This song is a jam. There’s no way to deny that. The simplistic piano and stomping brings a joy into my heart when listening to this song. Even though this song is about fame and not really knowing if you’re going to okay, it makes me feel happy. It’s one of my go to songs while I’m dyeing yarn, or cleaning the house, or just hanging out with my daughter during the day. I wanted to capture the warmth and joy of this song so I tweaked a colorway I dyed long ago “January Wedding” (also a song reference, also just a reference to my own wedding) and made the pink a little lighter and used a different green to speckle. I’d like to think that I captured the warm feeling this song gives me, and I hope it makes you feel that way too.

No Trail to Follow

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Song: The Night We Met by Lord Huron

Fun fact, even though this colorway is inspired by this song, I totally got the lyrics wrong when I named it and just decided to go with the flow and own my mistake. The lyric this colorway refers to is “I’ve been searching for a trail to follow again”. So there ya go. BUT this song. I heard it for the first time shortly after I miscarried. And again, it was one of those songs that really connected with where I was in my life. (And yeah, we can make anything fit any situation, but it’s a song I had on repeat while I cried). I felt lost. I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had already started picturing myself as a mom and thinking of all of the things James would be, and then one morning it was all gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt like I lost all control of my life and my body (and honestly I still do, yay therapy!). I always love a good mint. And I was dyeing my pillow mint colorway and it was more on the green side than usual so I decided to try to create something new. I added dark grey speckles, and it was perfect. It felt like exactly what I was looking for. I still have plans to knit something with this colorway, but I’m still not sure what it’s going to be.

Smitten

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Song: Smitten Pt.2 by Penny and Sparrow

On a crisp day in September of 2017 I drove to the mall to go grab some new lush products. I’m kind of obsessed with all things Lush and they had just launched their jelly face masks. It was still 10 days until I started my new job as a behavioral therapist and I had the day off from Starbucks. I was still in a weird place after the miscarriage (it took me months to even function like my “normal” self again), and I went to turn on music for my quick 15 minute drive and saw that my favorite band had released their new album Wendigo (if you haven’t heard it, go listen to it. It’s amazing). I had all of the windows down, and iced coffee in my cup holder, a flannel on, my hair in a high pony tail, really living my best fall life. Then this song came on. It was a waltz, which I really enjoy, so I was just driving and then the song stopped. But it wasn’t over! It started again and I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I can’t explain it but it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. I wanted to encompass that in a colorway so I did. I used grungier versions of my pinks and blues and mints and added some dark speckles. I love this colorway so much and can’t wait to knit Eliza a sweater out of it for the fall and winter!

Palm Lines

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Song: Palm Lines by Lowland Hum

I fell in love with this song on accident. When Doug and I went to go see Penny and Sparrow( are you surprised?) in October of 2017 we didn’t realize there was an opening act. I was a bit cranky and wasn’t really excited to sit through a band I didn’t want to see, but we stayed in our seats and listened. It was a husband and wife duo. I rolled my eyes and looked at Doug but as soon as I was about to tell him I was going to go to the bathroom really quick she started singing. Her voice is soft and a beautiful mid-range. I couldn’t stop smiling. They were just looking at each other on stage and singing to each other. It was such a beautiful thing to witness and made me feel thankful that I had my person sitting next to me also experiencing them. They sang the song Palm Lines and I quickly added it to my driving playlist on Spotify. I was aiming to create a darker, more muted version of my go to pink, My Jam, and I did that (Cheeks) but when I tried to duplicate it I didn’t add enough dye to the water. When I pulled it out of the steaming pot of water I was a little frustrated. But I rinsed and washed it and just stared at it. It was perfect. It was a barely there pink of my dreams. All I could think of was combining it with the same color in mohair and make the perfect fuzzy sweater. I’ve had a sweaters quantity of Palm Lines in both Single and Halo since I died it on accident and I still haven’t decided on the perfect sweater. But Andrea Mowry (again, are you surprised) just came out with her Daydreamer sweater and I think it will be the perfect match.

Below My Feet

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Song: Below My Feet by Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons really stole my heart in college when I was watching them on some award show with The Avett Brothers doing a tribute to Bob Dylan. Their music is always my go to when I don’t feel grounded. When I need to close my eyes and let myself breathe. It’s also perfect for when I’m angry at the world, so of course I had them on repeat after the miscarriage. Below My Feet is a song I would normally skip over, or listen and not pay too much attention to it. But it’s a song that I listened to a lot during this time. The chorus alone made me feel all of the sadness I was afraid to feel: “Keep the earth below my feet. For all my sweat, my blood runs weak. Let me learn from where I have been. Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn”. It’s a song that helped me acknowledge my loss of control while also feeling the hope of better days to come. This song makes me feel the exact opposite of what Ophelia makes me feel, so I decided to create the opposite color way a meadowy green base, with flashes of blush, and for a stark contrast, dark green speckles. That dark olive green dye is so fun because it always breaks on the yarn and you’ll see flashes of hot pink and blue within the green!

For now, those are my only colorways inspired by songs. But there are quite a few songs that I would love to translate into yarn, and you’ll find those on the playlist but I’d also like to list some of them here:

River by Leon Bridges

Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding (this my favorite song of all time)

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

and many, many more.

Accidental Gemini

Stacy OliverComment
This is a simple raglan cardigan I made for Eliza for her 1st birthday using Accidental Gemini. It’s such a special piece that I’ll cherish forever.

This is a simple raglan cardigan I made for Eliza for her 1st birthday using Accidental Gemini. It’s such a special piece that I’ll cherish forever.

Accidental Gemini is a colorway I dyed to celebrate my daughter’s first birthday. She was born 6 weeks early, making her a Gemini instead of a Leo.

This colorway embodies her calm and kind nature with a hint of boldness. For every skein sold I will be donating $3 to March of Dimes. It’s an amazing non profit who helps women and their children start their journey with all of the information and resources they need. Our NICU works very closely with the March of Dimes and I’m so excited that we’re going to be able to support them in this way!

We were able to raise $300 for March of Dimes during the selling period of this special colorway! I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me that we’re able to support such an amazing organization in this way. It would never be possible without you!

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the love you have shown my family and I throughout this year, especially in those first few weeks when we weren’t sure we’d even be lucky enough to bring her home with us.

Because of how much I love this colorway it will be sticking around! It’s going to be a part of my autumn color palette that I’ve been building over the last few months, and I think it would make a gorgeous fall knit! I’m thinking about making a No Frills Pullover!

I cannot wait to see what you make with this colorway!

-Stacy

(This blog post was intended to go up closer to the end of June instead of the end of July but life happens. The summer is a wonderful but difficult time for our little family so thank you for all of the patience you’ve shown me over the past two months. So excited to kick things into gear!)

A Year in Reflection

Stacy Oliver

Warning: This is about my miscarriage. I wrote this to reflect how I’m feeling right now. That being said I am still very happy with my life and our family. This time of year is just hard.

January 7, 2017 is the day I married my best friend. January 7, 2018 I should have had a baby. January 7, 2019 I should have had a 1 year old, but I don’t. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have my almost 7 month old daughter who is the love of my life. But there is a child of mine I never got to meet or hold that would be turning a year old if they would have survived. 

It’s a really weird feeling knowing I would have a kid walking and talking (kind of) if everything went well. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s really hard to look at babies born around this time. It feels selfish and awful, but it’s the truth. I have nothing against anyone who has a baby that’s turning 1 right now, I love these parents and kids a lot, but it’s hard. 

Not only is it hard, it has to be difficult in private. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m ungrateful for what I have (I’m not) or that I’m mad at them for what they have (again I’m not) it’s just a bizarre situation that I have no idea to how to navigate. I want to be happy, I want to be supportive, but it’s more difficult than I want to admit. It’s debilitating. 

It feels really good putting it out there; I know I’m not alone. For those of us who have miscarried, due dates are a funny thing. For me it’s a time to think about the baby I love that I never met. To appreciate the time I had with them. 


Here are two pictures that I love from that time in our lives that I never felt brave enough to share.

The only ultrasound we had with them. This was at about 12 weeks.

The only ultrasound we had with them. This was at about 12 weeks.

Outside at a wedding. My bump was just starting to show. We lost them soon after.

Outside at a wedding. My bump was just starting to show. We lost them soon after.

Knitting Pulled Me Out

Stacy Oliver

For most of my life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. I’ve seen numerous school counselors, talked to friends, talked to family, but it was never really enough. I’ve always been afraid of going to an actual therapist because I know in someway I would have to lie in order to avoid hospital admittance, and really what’s the point of therapy if you have to lie? Unfortunately, this story is far from unique. I’ve searched for years to find something, anything that would at least help on a micro scale. Enter knitting.

I know what you’re thinking. Everybody talks about how great crafts are for mental health. There have been loads of articles about how knitting lowers blood pressure, helps with anxiety, helps with depression. But I think it’s important to talk about what works, and why it works for us in a world that feels increasingly helpless. 

My sophomore year of college I was a Resident Advisor and we were completing room checks before Thanksgiving break. Laying out in a dorm room was a red skein of yarn and giant knitting needles. Inside me something clicked; I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. I come from a pretty crafty family (one grandma sews quilts, another crocheted) but those crafts never stuck with me. Over the next few days I grew an obsession with learning how to knit. I watched knitting tutorials, which led to me watching knitting podcasts (specifically Kristin of the Yarngasm podcast because I thought the name was amazing). After the six and a half hour drive back home I begged my mom to go to Michael’s craft sore with me so that I could start knitting right away. I picked out a skein of chunky gray acrylic yarn that I thought would be the perfect amount for a scarf (it wasn’t), and an obnoxiously large pair of aluminum dark green needles. We got back home, I popped in my headphones, and I started playing all of the knitting tutorials I had saved from my weeks worth of research. No, my yarn did not become a scarf; turns out ninety yards of a chunky acrylic will make you a horribly misshaped pot holder. Even though my project didn’t come out as expected, I was obsessed with figuring this out. So I went back to Michael’s and bought two more chunky skeins with more yardage than the first and boom I had made my first scarf.

Getting to see and chat with Kristin of Voolenvine Yarns/ Yarngasm is always a good time.

Getting to see and chat with Kristin of Voolenvine Yarns/ Yarngasm is always a good time.

After my first successful item, knitting consumed me. The love of knitting grew inside me like a virus I could never fight off. I kept buying yarn and knitting scarfs. When I got bored with that I moved on to hats (my first hat looked more like a baby beret since I knew literally nothing of gauge). I soon found Ravelry, started watching more and more knitting podcasts. I started buying nicer yarns, better needles, prettier notions. I became a proper capital “K” Knitter. 

I pushed myself to take risks in my knitting. I knit my first pair of socks, my first multi skein shawl, and my first sweater. All I wanted to do was consume everything I could about my craft which was quickly becoming my lifestyle. 

Throughout the rest of college I turned to knitting for every hard moment: weeks of RA training, fights with the boyfriend, the loss of 3 of my grandparents, and crippling depression. There were so many days where getting out of bed seemed like the most impossible task. So I would sit up and knit. After a few hours I would look at my project and how it had grown. I accomplished something, I was productive, I was worth while. At the very least it enabled me to feel worthy of getting up and feeding myself. 

In January of 2016 I decided I wanted to be more involved in the knitting community I loved so much. I wanted to be able to connect with other people who felt the same way I did about yarn and needles. I wanted to make friends with people who understood. So I decided to start the Stress Knits podcast. It was bizarre talking to the camera on my iPhone for an hour, but there was something about using our language without having to explain what an indie dyer or ralvery are. Even though I had no expectations of anyone watching me, I felt better just talking about what I loved so much. Never in a million years did I expect to actually make friends and build a community. I owe so much of my happiness to putting myself out there and talking about knitting. 

Hanging out with knitting friends turned actual friends, Jaclyn of Brooklyn Knitfolk and Julie of Sweet Sparrow at Rhinebeck 2017

Hanging out with knitting friends turned actual friends, Jaclyn of Brooklyn Knitfolk and Julie of Sweet Sparrow at Rhinebeck 2017

A few months later, I graduated college and moved from West Virginia back home to Michigan. I felt lost again. Back to a world I lived in for eighteen years, but felt so far removed from all of the friends I made down south. It didn’t help that finding a job was near impossible. After I sent out about one hundred applications I decided to take my old bosses advice and do what I’ve talked about doing for a while, learn how to dye yarn. My boss was so encouraging and actually gifted me a starter kit and some bare yarn so that I would actually try. So I did. I fell head over heals in love with how dye would dance around the water and find its home on the bare yarn and create something beautiful. Dyeing yarn gave me a purpose while I was lost and trying to find a job I had always thought would be so easy to find.

That summer all I did was buy bare yarn and dye it. My husband (fiancé at the time) encouraged me to open an Etsy store and just see what happens. If no one bought anything, great! I had yarn to knit with. If people liked it and bought it, then maybe this could turn into something. And it turned into something. 

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I would wake up and crave turning a bare skein of yarn into something beautiful. I enjoyed the entire process. Tying  the yarn so it wouldn’t tangle, soaking all of the yarn, setting up my work station on the kitchen counter, adding just the right amount of water in the pot, experimenting with how the colors play together, rinsing the yarn in my favorite scent of Tuft Woolens wool wash, and hanging the skeins outside to dry. It is a very meditative process for me. It makes sense to my body and my brain. 

For the next year I would continue to enjoy knitting and dyeing alongside working at Starbucks. And then everything changed: I got pregnant. It was only a few months after my husband Doug and I got married but I was still terrified. I felt like my entire life was over. We weren’t going to be able to travel, I wasn’t going to be able to find my dream job and build my career. Before I could completely freak out I started getting ridiculously sick throwing up multiple times a day. It was so bad that I had to go on leave from Starbucks, I had to stop dyeing yarn, and I even had to stop knitting. I lost who I was all over again. But slowly I began to remember. I was able to dye yarn occasionally, I was able to get out of bed, I was able to pick up my needles. And then I experienced the worst thing I could have experienced in this situation, I lost the baby. It came as a complete shock because there were no symptoms and I was past the first trimester. No one thinks of a miscarriage at sixteen and a half weeks until you have one. I hit the lowest part of my life. I felt numb, empty, and experienced the deepest sadness I have ever experienced. 

One of my best friends offered to run and grab clothes and whatever else we might need while we stayed a few nights at my parents. I asked her to grab my toffee Fringe Field Bag that had my Madewell Cardigan by Joji Locatelli in my yarn in the “Rattle” colorway. The first night I let myself fall a part, but the next day I needed something. My husband and I grabbed coffee and then sat on the couch together, he encouraged me to try to knit so I did. I couldn’t stop. The cardigan was maybe a fourth of the way done before I picked it up again. I finished it that week. I needed more. So I went to a yarn store in East Lansing, Woven Art Yarn Shop because they are a flagship store for Quince and Company. I grabbed a sweater quantity of lark in the “Iceland” colorway for the Boothbay cardigan by Hannah Fettig. I finished that sweater in a week while on a family trip in Wisconsin. Knitting gave me something to focus on, something to do with my hands, something that helped me ignore the world and everybody’s questions about how I’m doing. Knitting became my lifeline. 

Once I started working through my miscarriage and talking about it with friends and family I started healing, but I honestly don’t think I would have ever gotten to that point if I wasn’t a knitter. As the months began to pass I kept clinging to knitting to keep me going. The project that really helped me forget about the world and just focus on healing and filling back up was the What the Fade Mystery Fade Along hosted by my favorite knitwear designer, Andrea Mowry. The combination of color, brioche, and garter stitch consumed me. Everyday I would wake up, grab coffee, turn on knitting podcasts, let my pug Esther fall asleep on my lap and knit on that shawl for hours. I owe so much to that beautiful shawl and to Andrea Mowry, because honestly I don't know where I would be without it. 

My happy place: Knitting on my What the Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry while my pup Esther sleeps in my lap.

My happy place: Knitting on my What the Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry while my pup Esther sleeps in my lap.

 In November of 2017 I found out pregnant and the whole thing started over. I got ridiculously sick and had to stop knitting for about twenty four weeks.  I was finally able to pick it up again and started making sweaters for our sweet little lady. I was able to start dyeing yarn again and even opened up my own website. And then my water broke at thirty two weeks. It was absolutely terrifying and I had to spend the next two weeks wondering if the baby and I were going to make it the extra two weeks the doctors wanted. Once again knitting saves me. I began designing hats and shawls. I was finished project after project counting down the days until my induction. Once induction day was finally here I tried to knit during early labor which was much easier said than done, and I had to give up. 28 hours of labor later they told me she was not tolerating labor and had to come out in a C-Section. We were so lucky that it went well but unfortunately being a premature baby she had to stay in the NICU for a while. I recovered fine, clinging to knitting as I counted down the hours until I could see Eliza again. And then my incision got infected and I had to be readmitted to the hospital indefinitely.

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And that’s where I am now. In the hospital with my husband, knitting and counting down the days until Eliza and I can go home. This situation is the hardest I have ever been in but luckily I have an amazing support system, and most of all I have knitting to fill myself back up.

On a lighter note, I’m participating in the #notalonekal hosted by my amazing friend Kemper of JunkYarn. Please check out her Instagram for more information. Please feel free to use the coupon code NOTALONE for 15% off anything in my shop until the end of July. Take care of yourselves and happy knitting!

My husband Doug is my rock and biggest supporter. I don't know how I would have started a podcast or a business without him. He encourages me everyday to take risks and I'm so unbelievably glad he does. 

My husband Doug is my rock and biggest supporter. I don't know how I would have started a podcast or a business without him. He encourages me everyday to take risks and I'm so unbelievably glad he does.