Where I’m headed

Nearly two months ago I wrote Where I’ve Been and admitted that I was struggling not only with my fibromyalgia but also with my anxiety disorder.

Summer break is now here and while I’ve been able to get the rest I need, I’m still exhausted, both mentally and physically.

So, it was time to write about what the next steps are for me.

I have taken a break again from designing. I recently did a couple of designs for a yarn company and those will be out later this year, I’m sure. But that showed me that it has become really difficult for me to do this anymore. Unless the project is a super easy one that I can do in a short amount of time, I likely won’t be taking on any new work. The other eye opening situation was that crocheting even just an hour would cause my hands to cramp up severely. I have been knitting recently and I don’t have the same issues there, something about the movement of the hands, I’m sure. So, still playing with yarn, just in a different way.

I’ve already alerted my current clients, but I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from tech editing. I do not trust my brain to do what it needs to do in that arena and I won’t be responsible for messing up another designer’s work because of that. It’s hard, and I feel like I’m letting people down, but I had to do it for me.

Right now I’m not sure what the future holds. I’m taking things day by day, some days minute by minute. I’m working at taking care of me as well as my family.

I do so appreciate all the warm thoughts and prayers. They mean more to me than I can express. Hopefully I can keep updating this blog with posts about my spinning and knitting adventures (and they definitely are adventures, let me tell you).

Where I’ve been

So, hi. Yeah, been a while since I’ve written. I apologize for that. Every week that went by without a post, I’d get anxious about not posting, but had nothing to really write about, so it was difficult to come up with something.

But, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I haven’t been posting and figured it was time to be honest about why I haven’t been posting.

Many of my longer time readers know that nearly two years ago I took a sabbatical from designing. I was feeling burned out and no longer creative. What you may not know is that the burnout came not just from overworking, but from my anxiety disorder getting out of control.

Yes, you read that correctly. Too often those of us with mental health issues keep these things very quiet and private. I fell into that. Well, no more.

My name is Tracie Barrett and I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

This means that things can be going really well in my day and I can have out of no where a full blown panic attack. These are scary and hard to deal with. Even if I don’t a full blown panic attack, my anxiety levels get so high that I lock up and can’t function. This is what happened two years ago at TNNA. By the time I made the walk from the hotel room down to the show floor, I could barely breathe, my hands were shaking, and I felt like everyone was watching me. I just couldn’t do it. That was the most anxious I’ve ever been in my life, even back to when I was diagnosed in high school.

I thought that the main trigger was the pressure of designing. I thought that if I took time off I’d feel better and be good to go. I was wrong.

This last year, while everything in my life was going well and should be making me happy, I was miserable. I would sit on the sofa and have my anxiety ramp up until my heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe. The anxiety triggers my fibromyalgia pain (it’s not my only trigger, but it’s one of them) so then I’d start hurting. The pain kept me from doing what I needed to do in the day, which would make me more anxious. It was getting to the point that many days I just couldn’t function.

During the last few years my fibromyalgia has also been getting worse, which was hard to come to terms with. Things I used to do just a year ago are nearly impossible now. Things I enjoyed like walking to downtown, going hiking, decorating our home, cooking, etc. This has been an eye opening and depressing situation all around. I’d been accommodating for my weaknesses so much that I had never noticed how much I was doing that until I was forced to. That was difficult and did not help the anxiety.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I’m tired of hiding in the shadows with this. Mental health issues should be just like any other illness and be talked about without whispering and hiding.

Last month I was started on a medicine which does seem to be helping ease the hard edge of the anxiety. I’m still dealing with the pain and mental fog of the fibromyalgia. Granted, as many of you who follow me on Twitter have seen, the medicine is causing a very disruptive side effect – massive fatigue. I’m having to learn how to work around that, which only gives me about an hour or so a day of actual work time. Which is very difficult.

I’m not going to promise when the next post will be. Some days I can barely link together words into simple sentences. I’m hoping once summer break hits I can start sleeping in a bit and see if that will help me be a bit more productive during the day.

New pattern: Northern Lights Cowl

Whew, it’s a bit dusty in here! Sorry about that. Summer was crazy and I’m just now getting my bearings and figuring out my schedule again. You know, just in time for winter break from school. Oh well.

Anyway, let’s talk about the big news! I have a new pattern to release. Apparently, designing is like riding a bike, you never really forget how to do it, no matter how rusty you may be at it. :)

I was approached by someone to design an item using Blue Heron’s Rayon Metallic. Oh, this yarn is so yummy. Definitely a splurge item for a stash, but so beautiful and fantastic to work with.

The yarn cried out to be a cowl, similar to my Southern Lights Cowl, but much fancier. So it demanded to be bigger, lacier, etc. I let the yarn do the talking in this design. It’s another mobius (because I love these for cowls), and the body is a pretty easy lace design. The true stunning part of this design is in the lace edging. It’s deep and allows you to fold it back like a collar. In fact, in the photo it almost looks like I’m wearing a shrug, not a cowl.

Now, some notes about this pattern. It is VITAL that you check your gauge. I used all but about 10 yards of this yarn. And I had to rip back a number of times to subtract rounds to make sure I used all of the yarn without running out. If you’re not using the Blue Heron, then this may not be an issue for you. But if you are, you need to make sure that you match my gauge. That may mean you need to use a different hook than I did.

If you’re going to substitute yarn, I would use a yarn with a lot of drape. A heavy wool or even a cotton may not drape the same. Part of the appeal of the design is how drippy and slinky the cowl is. Make sure your yarn has that same drape.

Northern Lights Cowl

Northern Lights Cowl

Northern Lights Cowl

$4.50 PDF Download

I hope you give this pattern a try and that you enjoy it!

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