Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Thank You Letter to Wil Wheaton

I don't remember when it began, but at some point, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns at 5pm on Fox became a tradition in our household.  My mom, sister and I would usually watch in the sewing room before getting supper together. It got to the point where we could tell you which episode it was before the screen changed from black, but that didn't stop us from continuing to watch the episode.  It was our thing and we enjoyed it.

The thing that I didn't understand (and no one beyond my family had a clue about) was that I had dysthymic disorder, commonly referred to as chronic depression.  This was before there was much talk about this sort of thing, so I really didn't understand why I usually felt like shit.  I could fake happy around friends, but while I wasn't a rebellious teen, it also wasn't particularly easy for my parents to get along with me.  I had a good life: friends, parents who loved me and each other and a great sister. I played soccer, I loved to read and did well in school.  There was no real reason for me to feel so bad, why didn't I feel thankful for what I had?  My mom is wonderful, but didn't understand why I couldn't just be happy.  And if not, why didn't I talk to someone about it.  But why would I talk to someone, what the fuck was talking going to do?  How was talking about how shitty I felt going to help me feel better?  Well, she'd say, maybe it would help if you knew you weren't the only person who felt like this. Well shit, now I feel terrible for the people who feel like me.*

Back to ST:TNG.  Not only did I like the show, but I had a serious crush on Wesley Crusher (played by non other than Wil Wheaton, but you probably figured that out from the title).  Now, after school, I would usually come home and take a nap.  My mom would come wake me up by 5 to watch ST:TNG if I wasn't up by then.  But, when I was feeling especially crappy, I just want to stay in bed.  At that point, the only thing getting me up was if Wesley Crusher was in the episode.

Now if you follow Wil Wheaton on Twitter (you should) or you read his blog (you should) you know he's been cleaning out his garage and going through stuff he's kept through the years.  He's made some funny comments about his insecurities as a teen and he's written a post about depression.  And this is where I say thank you.  Your teenage self may have been insecure and kind of a tool, but I thought you were awesome enough to get out of bed to watch on TV (which was a bigger deal than it sounds like). 

I was finally diagnosed with depression in 2001 and have been on medication since then.  There are still days that are harder than others, but knitting, spinning, reading and exercise help.  Watching my daughters grow up also helps.  My family and friends help.  And knowing I'm not alone, well, it does kind of help.

I am not as eloquent or funny as I would wish, but I just wanted to write this down.

Now, I will leave you with pictures of the birthday girls Margaret (11/15) and Alice (11/23), eating cupcakes (made to Margaret's exacting specifications by my MIL) for Alice's birthday.   I can't believe they are 5 and 2 already!

Alice ate the frosting, but left the actual cake almost untouched.  The only part Margaret didn't eat were the crumbs that dropped to the floor.

There will be actual knitting (and spinning) content soon.  Really.  Because, dude, I went to Rhinebeck this year and it was AWESOME!

*My mom feels guilty that she didn't do more at the time, but really, how would she have known what to do?  I wouldn't have talked to anyone.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am not your biggest fan

Dear Joss Whedon, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Seth Green, and every other celebrity I follow on Twitter*;

I am not your biggest fan. 


Don't get me wrong, there are certain celebrities (like the ones I follow on Twitter) who seem like cool people and of whose work I am a big fan, however, I just don't get the whole fan thing, exactly.  I've been reading a lot of ComicCon tweets this week and while it seems like it could be fun, I don't think it is for me.  I would love to go to some of the panels, but to stand in line forever just to get someone to sign something?  I just don't really get it.  (Confession: in college I went to some ... convention thing and did actually meet and get a picture with David Boreanaz, it was fine, the line wasn't too long.  I don't think I have the picture anymore)(I've also been to a couple readings/signings of the Yarn Harlot's.  They were funny and the part where she spoke was great, and now I have books signed to me, but, those are just things.)

Do these people need me to stand in line to tell them I like their work?  No.  They hear that all the time.  I don't feel like I need to get things signed, I don't need more "stuff".  And while they seem like interesting, funny people, it's not like we are going to have some amazing bonding moment in one minute and become best friends and start hanging out.  New friends are cool, but I like the friends I have and don't feel like I need to "upgrade" even if that were likely.

If there were downloads of the panels at conventions, I would be willing to pay a small fee to download and watch certain of them.  If Wil Wheaton came to Aurora, IL to do a reading of some of his work, I'd love to go (if I could get a babysitter).  I saw The Avengers and will get the DVD or Bluray so I can watch it with Joss Whedon's commentary.  But I'm not sitting in line forever to do any of this, either.  I like showers and bed more than a flash of a meeting with someone who might be the nicest most interesting person in the world but who won't really be able to show that in one minute.

If my fan card must be revoked, that's ok, I'll just sit and spin.

No, really, I've got lots of Romney and Corriedale roving to spin.  Also some silk, some Blue Faced Leicester, Wensleydale, and more.

*Joss Whedon is not actually on Twitter

Monday, May 7, 2012

Is there confusion?

Last night I woke up and my stomach was churning with acid and I was having a mild panic reaction to the thought that I might have given the wrong impression about Beth Smith from The Spinning Loft in my last post.  Did I?  I don't know, I'm kind of afraid to go back and read it now.  The only reason I didn't write this post last night at 3am is that Alice was sleeping in the Pack 'N Play in our room because we had company and their child was in her crib; I didn't want to wake up Alice (which leaving would have done) and I didn't want to possibly wake up our company.  So, during naptime, it is.

Anyway, the gist of it is this... she is an awesome and inspiring teacher.  She is kind and helpful and wonderful.  If there was anyone in the class that she didn't like, she did not show it at all and was gracious.  There was one person who wanted help with things that were not covered in the class description and while she shut them down, she was not at all rude about it and I don't think the person left thinking they had been rebuked (which they really hadn't, except in the imaginary conversation that happened in my brain). 

So, was there confusion before?  Is there now?  Well, I hope not.  If there wasn't before, well, the acid in my stomach at 2am was telling me a different story, and I don't want to wake up tonight and think there might have been someone who read this (hahahaha!) that decided not to take a class with Beth because of something I said.  There is another teacher (who I shall not name) who I wouldn't take another class with, but Stringtopia teachers were GREAT!

Knitting and spinning news will have to wait... the girls are napping which means it is time for MY nap.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stringtopia 2012

This last weekend, I went to Stringtopia 2012 in Lebanon, Ohio.  It was so much fun and so inspiring, I actually felt like I needed to blog.  I know it's been a while (hello, August last year), but what can I say, after the girls are in bed, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Or doing some knitting, or a bit of reading.  Well, add more spinning to that mix, because, as I said, I had an inspiring weekend.

The samples from Breeds Study and Spinning for Lace
Stringtopia started last year, and while I had heard about it and wanted to attend, I didn't think going with a 5 month old would be doable.  Well, after taking a class with Abby Franquemont last summer (see previous post), I knew I didn't want to miss it this year.  I would have missed it, however, without the assistance of my most awesome mother.  She flew out here from California and we drove down to Lebanon with the girls.  While I filled my days with wonderful fiber classes (more about them below), she spent time with Margaret and Alice.  We all ate our meals together and I helped get them ready for bed at night (before leaving again for socializing), but for the most part, Friday through Sunday, the girls hung out with my mom.  The best part?  She's willing to do it again next year!

So, what did I take?  What classes inspired and instructed?  Breeds Study with Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft was a fabulous class.  Learned about how sheep and wools are classified, but most importantly (to me), we covered how to process the wool ourselves.  Excellent instructions for washing, and flicking, carding, and combing locks.  I have a set of cards, but now I want a flicker and a set or two of combs ... oh, and fleece, I want the fleece to process.  The number and quality of samples we got to spin was phenomenal, and she provided a way to organize it, too.  Other than the obvious knowledge Beth possesses, my favorite part about her as a teacher was how she handled a student who wanted individual instruction that was not part of the scope of the class.  She was polite, but directly and quickly told them to (and I DON'T quote), 'F-off, that is not what this class is about, this is about sampling the fleeces of different sheep breeds.'  Seriously, it was a thing of beauty.

Saturday was again with Beth, but this time, Spinning for Lace, which is really about spinning fine yarns.  Again, we had crazy samples (qiviut!!!) and again I came away feeling more confident in myself.  Both classes helped me think about my spinning so I can better make the yarns that I want to, instead of just ending up with whatever comes out.

Sunday I took Doing More with Your Drop Spindle with Abby, which was great.  I've incorporated some techniques already, however, I have found the best way to do more is, wait for it... use your drop spindle.  I know, shocking, right?  If you actually use it, you get yarn made.  It's crazy.

And then, Sunday afternoon I had Spinning Silk with Sara Lamb during which I cried.  No, she was great, they were tears of exhaustion, joy and "ah-ha!".  One thing she said (really, it was kind of a theme with all of the instructors throughout the weekend) was that you don't have to be perfect.  Now, I will  not claim to be perfect (certainly no one who has seen my house would claim I'm a perfect housekeeper), but I know I have some perfectionist tendencies (which I have tried to squelch).  That being said, however, I don't tend to pursue activities at which I am not immediately compentent.  When I started spinning, I could make yarn, and I enjoyed it, so I continued.  I didn't spin as much as I might have, though, because while I could make yarn, it wasn't the fine yarn I wanted to make.  And logically, I know that to get better, I have to practice, but this weekend really hit that home for me, and also made me more accepting of the yarn I get while working towards the yarn I want.

Jacob wool spun on Turkish drop spindle and Greensleeves spindle

While down there, I sold my darling Louet S-10 Maggie to Shelly.  She had spun on it and really liked it, and after spinning on Abby's Louet Julie last summer, I bought one of my own.  I didn't really need both wheels and while I have an emotional attachment to Maggie as my first wheel (and a good one she was), Shelly will provide her with an excellent home and get a lot of use out of her.  Beth brought a shop down with her and boy, it was hard to rein myself in.  I came home with some lovely dyed Jacob and a braid each of dyed Shetland, Wensleydale, and Tussah silk.  I might have also purchased a small Turkish spindle (with which I am in love) and a Greensleeves spindle that was too beautiful to pass up.  To thank my mom for helping out, I got her a cool small handheld loom (didn't get pictures of it before she went home), beater and yarn needle.  It is something easy and quiet she can do while watching soccer games with my dad.  And I got a Cricket loom for Margaret (also, kind of, maybe, me).

Margaret enjoying weaving
There is more to Stringtopia than just the classes, you get to meet some really wonderful people, too.  I've known Nancy Folsom online for a while now, but getting to meet her in person and hang out with her was really fun.  She is just as funny and snarky in real life.  And Sandi Wiseheart is just as great as you would hope.  Rebecca and Lara and Janet are all warm and funny and wonderful people, too.  I know there are people I'm not mentioning, but seriously, it was so much fun and I really am looking forward to heading back next year.

The girls have changed and a lot has stayed the same since my last post.  My parents have visited once, my mom has been out two other times; Margaret turned 4 and Alice turned 1, both in November.  So we're here, just playing and running around and knitting and spinning and really, this time, I hope not to let so much time pass before blogging again, but, sometimes what really needs to happen is a nap.
Alice napping in the car on the way home from Ohio (photo by Margaret)