I had thought knitting was like breathing for me, something I didn’t really think about and that didn’t require much effort. However, after the chronic fatigue was triggered, everything including knitting became arduous. Even once I had the energy to knit stitches again, the brain part of knitting, the reading of patterns or thinking out my own project was immensely challenging. It felt like I was trying to work out a language that was not my own. It was exhausting and often impossible.
Chronic fatigue affects many cognitive functions including concentration, memory, ability to find words and to synthesise multiple pieces of information. It is called mental fog. This fog is the last thing to resolve itself when recovering from fatigue conditions. Sometimes the mist clears a little and sometimes it comes down in a thick blanket to squat on your mind.
I have discovered that you can’t knit through fog but you can knit with it. After abandoning a number of knitting projects that had become incomprehensible to me, I think I have developed some insights into knitting when the forecast is for fog.
- Choose straight forward but interesting knits that have significant sections of garter or stockinette with minimal shaping or stitch patterns. Carol Feller’s hap shawl Montbretier from The Book of Haps (2016) has been perfect for me.
- Have multiple projects on the go. I am normally a monogamous knitter, pushing through the hard bits to completion. Now there is nothing left to push through with, I need to have a variety of options open to me. I save the simple knitting for when I am really tired and need to rest. Anything that requires reading instructions, I save for when I am feeling rested. With a few projects on the go, there is always something I can knit according to how thick that sea fog is.
- Knit other folks designs. Knitting freestyle was my favourite thing but the calculations and multiple bits of information are too much for me at the moment so I am embracing the whipsmarts and clarity of other brains right now.
- Choose clear, tech edited, step by step instructions, where the knitting doesn’t require holding multiple instructions in your head at once. I have been able to complete a pair of Whisky Bay Woollens‘ Low Tide anklet socks which married clear steps with simple lace whilst I had to abandon a pair of Cat Bordhi socks with innovative shaping that moved at a different rate to the stitch pattern.
- Knit whatever the stash brings forth. The stash is so much closer than a shop and so much simpler that ordering online. Yarns I have been meaning to use for a long time are finally seeing the light of day.
What I can manage improves slightly every week. Sea fog is tricksy and persistent but now I have a map to keep me knitting when the forecast is for fog.