I’ve got another interview with an awesome chronically ill crafter to share with you. This time it’s with Karin from Another Piece of Me. You should head over there and check out her blog she also does a load of guests posts that are really interesting but for now I’ll let Karin take over.
Who are you and what crafts do you do?
Hi, I’m Karin (in fanfic circles and on most social media I’m known as naelany). I run two blogs. My writing one and one that focuses more on other things I enjoy doing, and where I feature guests (one of which was Jess). I mainly knit, crochet, and cross stitch, though I’ve been known to try my hand at various other crafts from time to time.
What illness/es do you have?
I have fibromyalgia, asthma, and have suffered from herniated discs (well, technically the same disc herniated 5 times through the years). Those are the biggies, but there’s other stuff as well. Fibro’s been… an interesting development, I have to admit. Looking back, I can see that I’ve had symptoms for far longer than I’ve been officially diagnosed for. For a while, I was on Lyrica which helped in that my pain levels evened out to an extent, and my energy levels did as well. For a while. Of course, like with any such medication, your body grows used to it and you have to keep upping the dosage or, like in my case, your pain and energy levels start to really fluctuate again. I opted to go off the medication and finding alternative ways of dealing with it. I’ve never been more glad of that choice than now. I’d gained a lot of weight while on Lyrica and it mostly melted off on its own, the stuff I use now has my pain levels down to less than even on good days on medication was and my flares are less and fewer as well. Energy… well, that still fluctuates by a lot and is very much affected by things like weather and stress.
What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?
My favorite tools… I would have to say for my knitting, I love my lightweight circular needles – most of them are wood of some sort, which feels much better to use both for my fingers and my wrists. I can’t use straights anymore at all, and DPNs are… a pain. Literally. For crochet, I love my birch hooks. Very lightweight and smooth, making it much easier on my wrists to keep on hookin’. For cross stitch, I have to say my magnifying glass. I have poor eyesight and while I do wear glasses, having the magnifying glass enhance the stitches really helps a lot. For most of my crafts, if I’m using patterns I prefer having them be digital so I can enlarge as needed, and highlight where I’m at.
Also, not for crafting, but for reading, I love my Kindle. I can’t really read regular books anymore for some reason. Aside from physically holding a book that can be cumbersome and painful on the hands, I tend to, well… fall asleep with regular books. Not so with digital versions. Not sure why, but there you have it.
Oh! Another favorite tool that I use a lot is my KitchenAid mixer. I bake my own bread and I like to bake goodies well. That has gotten harder and harder to do myself over the years and about two years ago I was gifted a standmixer by a good friend and it’s enjoyed much use since then. I couldn’t imagine my kitchen without one anymore.
Why did you start crafting?
Crafting is… well, it’s an integral part of me (as is writing). If I don’t have anything to do with my hands, I tend to get rather… cranky. And bored. Being bored is, in my experience, a dangerous thing to be. Ask my husband, I’m sure he’d agree 😉
For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself to be crafty. Despite pestering my mother to teach me to knit at age 6, I never felt I was good at it. I couldn’t (and still can’t) draw, couldn’t sew, and the projects I made tended to be… less than stellar. Should note that while I learned to knit and purl, I was not taught how to read patterns – something I only learned to do over the past decade or so (needless to say, my knitting skills have vastly improved since then). Nowadays, I do identify as a crafter because I’ve realized that it is about creating, and doing something you enjoy doing.
What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?
Well, as I said earlier, I no longer use straight needles for knitting. I stick to circular whenever possible because it not only hurts much less in the long run, but also allows me to knit in various positions.
I’m slowly trying to do away with my old metal hooks and substituting them with birch hooks instead, again because they’re less painful for me to use.
One thing I am having more and more issue with the older I get: distractions. Once upon a time, I could have anything on the TV at all and craft along. Now, I can’t always have anything visual on at all, which is where audiobooks have been a blessing. For some projects, I can handle watching something if it’s a rewatch (Stargate SG-1 and Charmed are some of my go-to’s, for example). When I’m knitting plain blankets (I love log cabin ones for this very purpose) I can still watch pretty much anything, new or old.
I used to do paperclipping (papirklip, since I learned it in Denmark) but can’t really do that anymore.
For my baking, I sometimes have to have hubby help with the more hands-on stuff (some recipes are simply too large for the KitchenAid to handle).
The few times I have attempted to sew, hubby usually has to set everything up for me (meaning, put up the table, drag out the machine, etc.).
My favourite project:
I think this blanket is one of my favorites. Mostly because while I was making it, I wasn’t at all sure how it would end up, considering that I only used leftovers from other projects. So there were a lot of different kinds of yarn used, in a lot of different colors – including colors I personally am not a fan of. I didn’t make it with any particular recipient in mind. The intent was solely to use up scrap yarn so there was room in my yarn box again. When I finally cast off, however, I’d fallen in love with it and so had hubby. There may or may not be friendly arguments between us as to whose blanket it is and who can use it at any given time 😉
How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?
Yarn…. It gets expensive. It’s totally worth buying the good stuff, though, because well… it just is. It feels much nicer to work with, say, merino/silk blend than the cheapest acrylic out there.
Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?
If you’re new to a craft, I suggest trying to find someone who already does said craft and borrowing supplies. Use free patterns, at least to start with. Take breaks (it’s easy to get lost in crafting sometimes and inadvertently blow right past your limits and end up hurting for it). Remember to drink plenty of water (again, easy to just get lost in the work. Yes, I’m totally speaking from experience here).
Most importantly: give yourself a break. Meaning, allow yourself to not be able to do something without feeling bad about it, or guilty. Learn when to say ‘no’ (that doesn’t just go with crafting, but life in general). Learn your limits and listen to your body.
Big thank you to Karin for taking part, it was a great post and some really good advice. As always if you’d like to do a crafter interview please get in contact with me. I’m always happy to feature other spoonie crafters.