Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image


What Is It About Tiny Things?

I’m not obsessed with miniatures, by any means.  I don’t have a collection of any wee little things, unless you count buttons or stitch markers as miniatures; I think of them more as tools of my craft.  But occasionally when I run into a tiny replica of something, it evokes a visceral SQUEE IT IS SO TINY reflex in my brain.  No idea why.  Maybe it’s something to do with childhood memories, of being a small person in a big world?  I don’t know that it actually matters why I get pleasure from miniatures, I just do.  I was exceptionally pleased with myself when I came up with a plan for Mother’s Day.  At the garden center, I’d picked up a couple flats of succulent ground cover (I’m slowly planting them all over the place).  I was admiring them and thought… these would be so sweet in a tea cup! Or a little mason jar*!  I HAVE MASON JARS OH YES IT’S ON!


So I rounded up my little mason jars (and I put their rings on them, just to make them look a little festive), and I put a bit of sand** in the bottom of each.  (Mason jars with sand… Pinterest eat your heart out!)


I carefully ripped appropriately sized chunks of succulents out of the flat.  I know careful tearing sounds like an oxymoron, but I learned last year that a) the roots grow together like whoa and b) there are two different layers of a plastic mesh woven through the roots.  It adds stability to the plants as a whole but does make it hard to cut it into pieces.  Then I lovingly nestled plants into each jar; topped the edges up with sand, and gave them a teaspoon of water each.


And I decided to bust out my Tiny Mail Activity Kit*** and make little tiny letters for each recipient.  I’d love to say I wrote something deep and heartfelt in each letter, but my tiny writing skills are not so sharp, so I stuck to “Happy Mother’s Day”.  The envelope isn’t much bigger than my thumbnail.


Then I sent them out to the world!  The littles delivered a couple around our neighborhood; and I have a couple that I hope to get delivered today.  Moms will understand the lateness.

And moms that are out in the world, know that I wish you well even if you are too far away for one of my kids to drop off a little jar of plants. It’s a tough job, and you are doing great.  And if you can’t accept that you are doing great****, accept that  you are doing the best you can, and when you can do better, you will.


*I know.  Mason jars.  They are part of the hipster craftpocalypse.  I used them at Xmas to hold hand scrubs.  I am refusing to go buy more even though LOOK AT THE TINY PLANTER!!

**Sand recently released from the tyranny of the sand box.  Part of mud kitchen/garden supplies now.

***I can`t describe the awesome.  Just go look at it.  Leafcutter Design’s Tiny Mail Activity Kit.

****Slightly uncomfortable look in the mirror, here.

Taking Care of Things

And by “Things” I mean taking care of myself, taking care of other humans, taking care of furbabies, and the garden.  And the assorted roles I’ve committed myself to – friend, designer, bookkeeper, landlord, volunteer.  You may have noticed that I put myself first on that list – there is a reason for that.  I can’t take care of anything else, if I don’t take care of myself first.


Part of that self-care is confronting that my depression was on the upswing, despite loads of self-talk, lots and lots of physical exercise (I am training for a 10K run), prescription medication, and so much love and support.  I say “was” because I’m watching it with my full attention now.  This time, the depression isn’t post-partum; it’s situational.  The situation is in large part beyond my control, and not even really about me, so I’m not going to share a lot about it.

To clarify – even though it’s not about me, I’m still affected by it.  Imagine driving down the road, and the guy coming towards you has an epic sneeze and swerves his car into yours.  Now, the sneeze isn’t about you – but you’re still left dealing with the results, right?  Right.  That’s how this is, but no  sneezes or cars are involved.   I have set boundaries, I’ve communicated about the boundaries and the consequences if they aren’t respected.  I’ve done everything else possible with the situation that I can think of.


Now I need to focus on mindfully caring for myself and the people and things in my world.  The littles are thriving – they both got haircuts and are looking so sophisticated!**  The man is good.  And most exciting, spring is well underway!  I am so happy to be out working in the yard.  I admit to some concern that we appear to be a solid month ahead of where things usually are… gardening in Calgary means Never, Ever Plant Anything Until After May Long Weekend***.  I can see the point where I’m at Costco, sucuumb to temptation, fill the cart with tender annuals, come home and plant all the things.  Then I’d watch it snow two days later.

It will snow.  I know it will.  I have seen snow in every month of the year, here in Calgary.  It doesn’t stay long, in the summer months, but that “chubby rain” can happen at any time.  Tell me it’s too soon to go get dill and marigolds and set them out.  I’ll content myself by weeding around the perennials and researching rhubarb recipes.


Can you believe the size of my rhubarb?  That is more than two feet tall.  I’ve got to go pick some and make something.  Every year, I feel like the rhubarb and I are in competition.  I’m trying to pick and use enough to keep it from going to seed, and it’s trying to grow fast enough to bury me under  rhubarb muffins.


And a last photo to close with; this are the new leaves on our trees out front.  They will be green soon; but that first tender gold of spring gives me hope.

*Well, I’m taking it easy on running for the week because I think I overextended or strained a hamstring.

**Okay, well, the new haircuts look terrific when their hair is brushed.  And when it isn’t brushed, they are still cute as anything.

***Exception: Sweet peas.  They are amazingly cold-resistant.  Pop the seeds in the dirt as soon as you can work it.

Ever Notice That There’s Always Something?

Have you ever noticed that?  That sometimes, it seems like whatever you want to do or have planned, there’s some higher power out to thwart you.

There isn’t.  There really isn’t.  If there is a higher power (and I sort of think there must be), I am confident that it is as about as interested in my knitting projects (and able to directly affect it) as I am in an ant`s attempt to move a breadcrumb.

For example, I have three patterns I’m in varying stages of writing, and a year of bookkeeping for the company to wind up.  I’d like to get all of this done by the end of next week.  And of course, a couple evenings ago, my ceiling chose to fall.  Does that sound dramatic?  It sort of was.  The littles had been in bed for maybe twenty minutes; the man & I were watching tv, and SPLAT.   Part of the ceiling stipple fell down.

SPLAT!  Splat splat.  The man got a drill, I got a bucket and a drop cloth, and we spent the next several hours messing with the ceiling and trying to figure out what was happening…


Turns out that one of the lag bolts on the toilet was broken, and the wax seal was either broken or unseated or had decided it really needed a break, and short of a trip to a beach in the Bahamas, the Calgary landfill would do.


I was feeling oppressed by it.  I’m glad we were home and awake when it happened – that would have been an awful surprise to wake up to – and the first chunk of ceiling landed on my favorite chair.  So I fixed** it.  With a staple gun and a roll of craft paper.


Call it an art installation – Phoenix Rising.  It’s about the emotional life of the ceiling.  Conceptual art.  Very high concept, actually – I could hardly reach the ceiling with the staple gun!

Anyways, despite the little voice in my head that says “Man, it’s a sign. This pattern is crap and you should trash it and do something useful”, I continue to edit the three patterns.  There’s always something; and I’ve learned that every single project of mine goes through a stage where I just want to walk away from it.  It varies from a mild feeling of distaste to a strong desire to light it on fire. It’s a neat trick to discern between that demoralizing voice, and the voice of reason that occasionally pipes up and says “Gee, that doesn’t look like the right ____and it hasn’t looked like the right ____ for about ten rows now…

I tend to err on the side of optimism, which means a good deal of the projects that I end up frogging have more work invested into them than they really should have – but I am happier knitting on an obvious failure that trashing a really fine idea.  Depression and self-doubt are sneaky bastards, I have to be vigilant against them.

Speaking of vigilance, I am due to start to work on the bookkeeping.  There is a deal I`ve made with myself – a couple hours on patterns, a couple hours on books.  The books are a heck of a lot easier, and yet, less fun!

*First we both ran upstairs – because that spot is pretty well directly below the kids’ washroom.  There was no water visible.

**Fixed, as in, rendered it funny so that until it is properly fixed by a professional, it makes me want to laugh, instead of cry.

Errors, Large And Small

My last post was about some minor errata for His Golden Lair – and there have been some other little errors in my life of late too.

Nothing big, nothing calamitous, but enough that I’m taking a look at how I interact with the world, and how I address my personal life.  I realized that I’ve been letting things slide through in my personal life that I never would have allowed in my professional life*.  Again, nothing big, nothing critical, but you know?  I have higher standards for myself.  Just because I’m a stay at home mom now doesn’t allow me to be lazy or misallocate my time. (Although seriously, there are days when I NEED to knit for a while.  Before anything else happens.)  Maybe I need to look at my personal life in a more work-like way?  Although that sounds kind of awful, when I type it out.

(Gratuitous knitting shot.  I’m still knitting on all sorts of things, never fear.)

Maybe I need more lists and to actually have the never-ending bathroom renovation completed.  I’m a visual organizer**, so not having things where I’m used to having them messes with me.  And having one entire bathroom’s contents in another bathroom is messing with the entire upstairs of the house, and my laundry system, and oh my goodness, you should see laundry mountain.  The girls’ clothing needs to be culled – there are some things that they’ve outgrown, some things that they don’t wear, and with the flooding, I think that any clothing to goodwill is a good idea.  So I piled it all up on our bed, with the intent to sort, fold, and organize.

That was last week.  The man has been away this week, so laundry mountain is just getting shifted to one side of the bed, and I snuggle up to it for the night.  In the day, the girls ferret through it looking for their favorite clothes.  While it actually works okay, I’m going to have to break down and fold it.  If nothing else, before the vanity gets installed – I don’t want my finish carpenter thinking I’m a slob!  Ahahahaha.  He’s known me for twenty years, and I suspect has figured out that I rock the clutter.

Actually, a thought just crossed my mind – this feeling might be because of a slight shift and lightening in my depression too.  I’ve been on Prozac for six months (give or take) and Prozac has a longer time to build to efficacy.  I’m feeling like I can accomplish things, not just survive and keep moving forward.  I can move upwards, too.

I can also move to the laundry room.  There was an INCIDENT.  I’m knitting an afghan for the man for our anniversary; he’s a huge Tolkien nerd, so I’m knitting an Aran-weight version of the well-known Evenstar, by Susan Pandorf.  I’m using a cashmere-cotton yarn, and it’s quite lovely and cushy.


I started taking shallow breaths and scrubbed it frantically in the bathroom of the Starbucks in Medecine Hat (we were on a road trip).

I’m still knitting away, although I’m afraid there is a large stain on it.  The stain is making me love it less, but I’m hopeful that it will actually come out when it’s off the needles and I give it a proper wash.  I’m just finishing the twisted stitch arches – I’m modifying the edge of the pattern to something simpler and more architectural; some flowers in the center are okay, but I think that editing them out at the edge will give a more masculine feel to it.

If big lacy afghans can be masculine.  I guess overdying it the color of dirt would make it more manly, hey?  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  I know I CAN, but I don’t want to.  I wanted it to be a big, beautiful snowflake of a blanket.  So.  Here’s hoping that sunlight bar soap will work wonders.

And now to go work wonders on laundry mountain!  The man gets home in four days, I’d better get to it.

*Back when I worked in an office downtown and had a timesheet and wore high heels all day, sometimes.

**In other words, I <3 clutter

***S____ asked: “Did you look at him and say ‘Do you want a DIVORCE? is that what you’re telling ME???'”  It would have been funny, but no.  Not my first reaction.  Neither was murder, actually, my first thought was ‘where is the nearest sink oh my bob oh my bob oh my bob…’.

The Continuing Saga… Or Should I Say Yarn?

So, this blog might seem like it’s all about meds, for the next little while.  Trust me when I say this is not all that my life is about; I’m just trying to document my experience and put the information out there, because maybe it will help someone else.

There’s still manic tonnes of knitting going on.  Trust me.  I did a bit of a stash survey, and I’m officially on a yarn fast for a while.  I was unofficially on a yarn bender for the last quarter of 2012.  Anyways.

I’ve begun the skip a Pristiq periodically plan, and I think that the skipped Pristiq days result in a migraine that arrives at about midnight.  Dreaming about having a migraine, only to wake up, with a migraine?  It kind of sucks.  On the other hand, I can take Advil before bed, that lessens the migraine.  It also seems to monkey with my natural circadian rhythms, which is something I remember from when I started on the Pristiq.

Maybe I’m just extra-sensitive to this drug, but honestly, I’m not sure I would have started it if I had know that the extrication process would be so… complex, and the effects it would have on my focus.  The ringing in my ears is getting less, and varying on the days that I skip the Pristiq, so I’m hopeful that that’s going to go away forever once I’m off of it.  I did have a hearing assessment, and it turns out: I have crappy hearing.  This isn’t a huge surprise, there’s terrible hearing on my dad’s side of the family.  I can’t hear high notes at all, really.

Sadly, I can still hear that awful SQUEAK PHOEEET of the plastic flute.  If only it were an octave higher…

I’m not discounting the depression I was feeling (that I’m not feeling, now).  My mood is stable and positive, I just can’t focus for… hey, I need a new cup of tea.  And I should change the load in the washer.  What should we have for supper?  I think I need to wash the towels, too.  Right, this needs to be dusted.

Which is how I end up in my upstairs bathroom, holding a piece of frozen halibut, feeling thirsty.  I’m confident it’ll pass, and I’m trying to adjust my reality a bit to allow for hey, did I set the pvr for Downton Abbey?

Depression is hard to understand or explain, if you’ve never suffered from it.  It’s hard for me to clearly remember it, or put it into words.  I’ve just deleted several hundred words that were doing a terrible job of trying to explain it.  This is my last try:  You know those things at the gym, that are half a spongy ball, with a hard surface, and you can balance on them, to work your core muscles more (or something, I’ve never touched ’em)?  Imagine that you’re trying to balance on one of those all day, everyday.  Except instead of balancing your physical body, you’re balancing your emotions.  It takes a huge effort to recognize anything positive, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t enjoy things as much as you know you should.  That can trigger guilt, or self-loathing, or more apathy.  Everything feels deeply exhausting, and nothing feels good.  It’s not as simple as ‘feeling sad’.

Anyways, on that note, I should go investigate the silence… oh wait, they must be playing sleeping babies.  They just woke up.  Good, I can keep ignoring
letting them play, and work on the final edit for His Golden Lair, my Smaug inspired shawl.

The Elephant In My Reality aka: Out Of The Brain Meds Closet

So, there’s something I haven’t been talking about too much.  Last summer, depression started creeping up again, despite everything right in my world and all the support and love I’m surrounded by.  I was heavily alarmed when I realized; summer is my best time, my happiest time, the sweet spot of the year for me.  Winter, with the cold and the dark, has historically been tougher.  So to feel worse in late August than I do at the end of the average February – well, I took it as a bad sign.  (This is a word-heavy post, so I’ve put some random pics from my ‘photo’ folder in.  Just to brighten it up a bit.)

I didn’t not mention it out of a sense of shame – but it’s not one of those things that commonly crops up in conversation.  It’s one of those things that society is still trying to get a grip on.  Diabetics need insulin, and they can talk about that fairly openly.  Depression still has a stigma attached to it – some think that that using prescription drugs is weak.  I’m of the opinion that using a cast to fix a broken arm isn’t weak, and neither is using medication.  Anyways.  It’s a Big Topic, and while I talk about the snow, or what I’m knitting, or any number of other small things, Big Topics can be harder to broach.

(Knitting on a beach in Tofino.)

I tried to learn a lot from my experience with post-partum depression (PPD), and the biggest lesson was “TAKE DEPRESSION SERIOUSLY”.  So, I talked to my doctor, and started an antidepressant.  Pristiq, to be exact.  My mood improved, although I gained twelve pounds out of the blue, and  my sleep took a while to adjust.

After a couple months, I noticed a ringing in my ears.  I talked to my doc, and she put in a referral to a hearing specialist.  That appointment is at the end of this week – not super quick, but you know, not costing me anything out of pocket.  Anyways.  The ringing has been getting worse, and weirder – it moves from ear to ear, varies throughout the day, and changes tones a lot, too.

(The girls in our garden…)

To say the least, it’s distracting.  And sometimes hard to fall asleep.  Just before Xmas, I realized that hey, this might be a side effect of my antidepressant… and sure enough, after internet research, tinntinnitis is a listed side effect.  Visited with my doc again, made a plan to come off Pristiq and then go from there, as far as mood goes.  Apparently, ringing ears is a really rare side effect, but it sucks.

(Me, all spoofed up for a wedding last year?  Year before?)

The plan was the same as how I came off Prozac (which is was lifted the PPD). Skip one dose the first week, two doses the second week, etc etc.  EXCEPT IT WAS A GIANT FAIL.  You see, Pristiq has a different drug in it that Przac – one that is metabolized and used far faster.  I was a little leery of how a skipped dose would be, because varying the time of day I take Pristiq by even an hour caused… effects.  The day of the skipped dose wasn’t so bad, but by bedtime (when there was virtually none of that drug in my body or brain), things got weird.  Insomnia crossed with brain zaps crossed with lethargy… It was very weird.  I took the next dose on schedule, and got A to school on time that morning, but on the drive home, I realized how very stoned and awful I really felt, and called to make another appointment to talk with my doc about A Different And Better Plan.  After a lot of research and online conversations, I had a series of suggestions.

Chief among them was NEVER SKIPPING A DOSE LIKE THAT AGAIN HOLY CRAP THAT WAS TERRIBLE.  I’m now taking a bridge dose of Prozac, and after the Prozac had built up in my sytem over the course of a couple weeks, I cautiously skipped a dose.  I was out of it, a bit, but no brain zaps.  (A brain zap is hard to describe – but most people describe it like a little electric shock, in your brain.  You know how fireworks look and sound?  That’s how the inside of my brain felt.)  So.  I’m calling that a win.

(Suki, being a polite knitters’ cat.  Sometimes he does try to floss with my knitting.  But that gets him NOWHERE GOOD.)

I’m in at the beginning of the process, really; in a month and half, I should be on Prozac alone.  Hopefully all of the weird tinntinnitis will have gone away – I talked to my dad over the holidays about his ringing ears, and he said no, his are the same noise, all the time.  That should increase my ability to focus and sleep.  (On skipped Pristiq days, the ringing is not as weird and loud.)

Of course, the problem I had with Prozac last time was that it completely sapped my creative drives.  Now, for some, this might not be huge, but for me, it was a very big deal.  I have creative ups and downs, but to completely lose the urge to create something new?  It was quite frightening.

I mean, the part where I just plowed through all my projects that were on the needles and finished them was great, but once I was done those, and had no urge to cast on, or any ideas?  Creepy.  I mean, I could just sit on the couch.  My fingers didn’t itch to me knitting.  I could look at things, and not see new ideas whirling.  I felt sort of like I’d lost a superpower, and sort of bereft.

(When I finally break the current self-imposed yarn fast, these babies may very well be what I go for.)

I’m on a lower dose of Prozac this time, and hopefully it’s not going to turn off that tap of creativity again.  The Prozac (currently) isn’t a long-term plan, although given the Pristiq brain fire-works, I am loath to try other brain meds.  I don’t have many long-term plans, actually; what I once told my boss during a yearly review was actually the truth.  He asked where I saw myself in five years.  I told him: “I don’t tend to make long-term plans because then I miss the potential right in front of me.”  Who knows what will be going on in a year? Or five years?  This afternoon, I know that I get to take both girls to their first ballet class.  And in a month or so, I’ll hopefully be done with all the weird ear ringing.  Plans* enough for now.

*Oh, but I have knitting plans.  And yarn.  Lotsa yarn.  Like, a lot.  I love it all – it’s good stash – but I need to knit quite a lot of it before I get any more new.  Most of the knitting plans aren’t time-linked, though.  I have one sweater I’d like to knit before winter is done – but ha!ha!, winter is never too far off and I’m usually cold, so meh.