Friday, April 20, 2007


I haven't felt much like blogging lately - can you tell? I'm going through a funk with my knitting. I don't feel like designing. I wonder if it's worth the trouble - it hardly pays anything, and it seems like designers get zero respect from anyone unless you happen to be a knitting celebrity. I just don't know if I have the stomach for fighting my way to the top and then figuring out how to stay there (assuming I could even make it to the top). It's taking me away from my kids and my family - do I really want that?

I've been thinking a lot about balance lately, spurred on in part by this post. My friend Chris sent it to me on Monday, and it was sort of an "ah-ha" moment. Not that I want to move to a one-room cabin in the woods and sew all my own clothes, but it does make me question (again) living in the rat race. Having suffered from depression after the births of both of my children (and during my 2nd pregnancy quite severely), I wonder how much of that has to do with the isolation and meaningless of modern life. My darkest days were when I was alone in a new city with a 20-month-old, with Bill commuting back to LA to work the last few weeks of his old job. I got myself back into healthy head space and then decided that just staying home with my kids wasn't enough. I still had that drive to "make a contribution to society". So I started designing.

The nice thing about working for yourself is that you can control the amount of work you do. However, in order to keep yourself from sinking into a deep, deep hole financially, you need to do a lot of work. I have one more year to run at a loss before I lose my professional status in the eyes of the IRS. I need to figure out if I want to focus on designing for others or for myself - it doesn't seem to work that well to do both (everything suffers, but my own line is what's easily put off when a deadline is looming).

I miss having time to read, or to just play with the kids, or snuggle with Owen on the couch right when he wants me to instead of putting it off just one more minute because I have an e-mail to quickly send before I forget, or a contract to pop in the mail. I put him in front of the TV so he'll give me a half-hour of peace and I can get a few things done. This does NOT make me feel good about my parenting skills. It would be one thing if I only did it a couple times a day, but I'm often yelling from my office "GO WATCH YOUR SHOW!" when somebody wants a little attention.

In some ways, I'm more worried about Bill & I than I am the kids. They're good kids, and I think that they won't have problems until they're older if at all. But what about the grown-ups? What does it say about us that we're always a little bit cranky because the house is a mess, the kids are clamoring for our attention and all we want to do is zone out in front of the TV every night? We don't have family dinners - we eat in front of the television. On weekends we often stay in the house, catching up on our shows. And then we wonder why we never get anything done. I love TV, seriously, but I'm seriously considering giving it up. Why do I need to watch The Bachelor? So I can see yet another guy claim that his top priority is a great personality when in reality he picks his girls based on breast size and hair length? Do I really need to know who the next Apprentice is? I don't think we'll be eliminating our TV all together, but we can certainly reduce our watching to a few shows that can be seen in an evening.

I'm also taking a discussion course from the Portland-based Northwest Earth Institute called "Healthy Children-Healthy Planet" which kind of goes down the same path as the Casaubon's Book post. It's all about how kids aren't happier when they have a TV in their bedroom, designer clothes, elaborate birthday parties and everything that commercial culture is telling them they want. It gives lots of practical tips on how to protect your kids from the extremely aggressive advertising that comes at them from all sides today, one of which is to (obviously) limit their commercial television watching. It also talks about the importance of doing things together as a family, building family traditions and rituals, and fighting to keep them going as the kids get older and are pulled away from their family by their peers.

All of this is made even more poignant by the happenings at Virginia Tech earlier this week. Even as my whole heart goes out to the families of the victims, I can't help but feel sadness for the shooter as well. Why is it that mental illness is so marginalized and ignored in our society? Why is it that in Virginia, someone can buy a gun by attesting that they've never been diagnosed as a danger to themselves or others but no further checking is done? I mean, who is going to look at that form and say, "oh, wow, I don't want to lie so I guess I can't buy a gun after all"? What drives people to such a desperate level of unhappiness that they feel the need to pull out a 9mm and start shooting? It makes me think of a scene in Bowling for Columbine when Michael Moore is asking some kids in a cafeteria what causes school violence, and they point across the room to a big, bullyish-looking guy and say "that guy". Not that this was the case at Virginia Tech (and I don't advocate blaming the victims, no matter how crappy their former behavior towards the perpetrator), but it does make me sad that ours is the culture of The Sopranos and The Real Housewives of Orange County and Friends, and we wonder why it drives people to drink, shoot and kill themselves with meth. How are you supposed to deal day-to-day when you're just not smart, funny, skinny, or rich enough and, according to the television, everyone else is?

I sure don't have the answers, but I'm going to continue trying to find my way, for my kids' sake. But now, it's a beautiful day, so I'm taking my kids to the zoo. I will be bringing my knitting, just in case...


Blogger Mama-E said...

I understand. I really, truly, understand.
Here is the thing.... it always gets better. I fantasize about throwing all of my dyes away when I am under deadlines. Taking the yarn and throwing it off a cliff... but then it gets better.
See you on Saturday!!!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

I'm sorry you're feeling in a funk. I have missed your posts, but realize your life is really busy with the chicks (both human and farm animal), the designing, etc. Unfortunately, you're right that designing doesn't really bring in all that much money unless you happen to be a Nora Gaughan or Veronik Avery, but I hope you'll find some happy solution to your situation. I love your designs. Your blog was one of the ones which inspired me to start designing. So I of course hope you find some way to continue to do so :)

11:05 AM  
Blogger Sparkly Spiral Girl said...

Sorry to hear you're not feeling well these days. The only thing I can say is to follow your heart. I think your designs are great and we would be missing out if you were to stop, but you are the more important part of that equation.

As for the TV? I was in the same trap a little over a year ago. Found myself watching garbage just because it was there. When I moved I couldn't afford cable at first (wow, talk about sticker shock! How much money do they need to install???) and as time went on I found that though I missed getting to see occasional shows, over all I didn't miss it at all. Got Netflix and now that I have the cash for cable we don't have it. And we are happier for it (ok, don't ask the kids, they would want it back in a heartbeat...)

Hang in there...

11:10 AM  
Blogger Sonya said...

Hang in there, Chrissy. There seems to be a lot of funk going around. I know I have personal reasons for being in a funk, but I kinda feel like there's a national funk going on. We all ache for the VT victims and families, but I feel pretty certain that not a thing will be done to prevent future massacres. Iraq continues to circle the drain, but we seem to be stuck with an aimless, failing policy. And on and on and on.

I guess we have to have hope that this too will pass. (This comment sure isn't going to cheer you up!)

1:40 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

You're not alone in finding that being a parent of young children is extremely demanding. Each child (even a teenage child) needs some one-on-one time with mom (or dad) every week, if not every day. But, children bring so much happiness, too. So, think about the happy times when you feel down.
(When my children were that age, the neighborhood wisdom was to go for a walk and/or drink a glass of wine -- just one glass -- when things were beginning to get to be too much. The thought was that distancing oneself for a while helped.)

Also, you're a really good designer. You have a design style that is all your own. It would be a shame for you to quit, but you need to do what's best for you.
Good luck!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chrissy, Jennifer the runner in Manzanita... I am sorry to hear of you frustrations regarding designing. It is hard to keep a balance between work, home and kids. I know you work from home and I would think that must be even more difficult than if you worked out of the house. You are constantly being reminded of what you are missing or what you think you should be doing, when you are trying work and then you feel guilty. If designing is your passion it will work itself out. Life is full of peaks and valleys... As Dori said in the movie Nemo "just keep swimming!" You will get there, where ever the path leads you. Keep your chin up and hang in there!

4:41 PM  
Blogger Breien in Lansingerland said...

Sometimes I feel in the same way you do. The TV here is just a mess - nowadays I often use the off-switch. My older kids otherwise forget that they have to study,or can be able to play outdoors and catch some vitamins in the sun. I for myself started to design just recently, and find that most of my patterns need to be put into the computer - they are written out in note pads and sadly stay in there. Having one computer usually has as result that the kids go first when they need it to study - then hubby - also for studies, then mom. The baby is the only one not claiming computer time (LOL) but he is claiming mom time. I feel it is good to be there for kids, though here in Holland they urge women to find a job and drop the kids into a child daycare center. What caught me recently was the article in your blog about the nursing lady in the Ronald McDonald house... I am nursing my baby too and people here often feel ashamed to see a mom nursing her child. Sad in my opinion... but it is reality. Enjoy your weekend and take some rest!

2:47 AM  
Blogger HDW said...

Your blog entry is my life to a tee right now......I am in a fnk with too much on my plate. I would never give up knitting though as it is my therapy. I suffered severe PPD after my 3rd was born and still sort of weave in and out of it.....he was a surprise and our 2nd was only 22 months old when he was born. When I am working I do the same go watch your show routine and often rely to heavily on my 6 year old to ake care of her brothers.......I just wanted to make sure you know you are not alone..........sounds like you could use some YOU time too.......Hope you feel better!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hang in there. Everyone goes into a funk now and then.

At my house we do not eat in front of the TV. Never have, never will. With 4 children I always used dinner at the table as a time for everyone to side down and visit with each other for a half hour.

Now that my kids are older (18-24) they still comment about how they always liked dinner at the family table every night.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Holly said...


you are right on target. Being a parent is the single most important job of all things on your plate. Enjoy them now, as long as the house is not condemned, don't worry.

Being one of those anti-TV shows person, I can live with out it for months. My family is movie nuts, so that is the weekend alternative.

Your designs are lovely. Even if they do not bring much money, they bring joy and knitting happiness.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

When we left the US, we left the tv too. Its amazing how much time you can spend with your family when there is not a tv. We cuddle up for a dvd once in a while, but that's it.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Katrina said...

Chin up, girlfriend. You are one of my favorite designers, hands down. You have an eye for great design, and the knitting world has already and can continue to benefit from your contributions.

As a mother to small children myself, I also know that it's easy to over-extend yourself to the point where something's got to give. Unfortunately, I can't always say that my family gets the best part of me. I'd like to change that about myself, so I understand your struggle there.

The fact that you are stepping back to reevaluate what's working for you and what's not is a testament to your great sense of self awareness. The most successful human beings in my opinion, be they in the corporate world or at home, are the ones that are constantly striving to improve themselves. You definitely fall into this category.

What you are doing has value. I hope you find the balance that works best for you and your family.

4:23 PM  
Blogger yarn addict said...

You just described my life a few years ago with the PPD and children needing you all the time. I found that if I hired a babysitter once a week and went somewhere by myself I actually missed my children and looked foward to some quality time. I know it can be expensive but soooo worth it when it helps you be a better mom!

4:23 PM  
Anonymous mk said...

I've been mulling over your post - I've had similar feelings lately, wondering when this stopped being fun and asking myself the same question you had posed in an earlier post ("who am I designing for?"). The kidlet has one more year of high school (and therefore I have at least one more year of living here), and what would I prefer? Spending my spare time charting out a pattern for something I wouldn't make for myself, or spending time with a fabulous young lady and the great outdoors? I think I know the answer too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, and your plan.

10:24 PM  

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