Here’s a life update disguised as a DIY post.
During the Christmas break in 2020 (which spilled over in the first quarter of 2021), I had a lot of time to reflect on the year that passed. Being confined to our own homes 24/7 has introduced a different kind of stress because the lines between workspace and rest space have been blurred. It has merged into one physical space which made it more difficult for us to set boundaries and say no when to stop working. I, too, experienced that in 2020 which led me to a major burnout. I went in overdrive and worked myself to the point of exhaustion.
The two-week Christmas break was the greatest blessing that I received because I learned to take a step back and see where I was mentally and physically. Mental health professionals emphasized the need for self-care in 2020, especially since anxiety has been in its all-time high due to the worldwide lockdowns. I realized that in order to promote self-care, I needed to know myself first. Knowing who I am, what my personality is, what gives me fulfillment, what I want to give and receive, allows me to find the self-care methods that would help me move forward.
Come 2021. The self-discovery and daily reflections continued. Every day I am learning something new about myself. Part of it was understanding my personality trait. For the longest time, I knew that I am an INFJ but I never took the time to read more into it. After retaking a personality test online, the results validated how I felt towards work, relationships, and life in general. I’m still an INFJ and it meant having a “sense of idealism and integrity, and take concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting impact.” It made a lot of sense because every time I took on work, I always thought how I could help fix it or contribute to fixing a societal problem.
I spent all my energy taking care of work in 2020. In 2021, I made a promise to also take care of myself. That meant learning to take some time off and being mindful of how I react to things around me.
According to this article by Mental Health America, there are various ways to take care of yourself. It can be categorized into 5:
- Living healthy – not just with food, but in exercise and seeking help from medical professionals
- Practicing good hygiene – hey I learned to regularly use sunscreen!
- Seeing friends and building connections – gotta settle with online for now, even if I really miss seeing friends face to face
- Trying something enjoyable
- Fiding ways to relax
I’ll treat this as a guide as I’m sloooowly working on taking care of myself. I’m doing it at my own pace because I don’t want to be overwhelmed then retreat again in my stress bubble.
“Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old.”Robert Brault
One thing’s for sure: DIY projects provide joy. When I’m on a craft mode, my brain shuts out all negative thoughts and stops me from overthinking. I get to divert my attention to doing something offline and the output becomes useful for me (wow, this fits my INFJ personality).
For an enjoyable and relaxing activity, I went to relearn a skill: crocheting. It’s actually my mom’s hobby and I just picked it up from her. It’s been more than a decade since I learned how to crochet and I was worried that I might have forgotten how to crochet. But a friend reassured me that I’d have muscle memory once I have the hook and yarn in my hands.
I raided my mom’s crochet bin and borrowed her hooks and yarn. I had not decided on the type of yarn that I would use for the doily project so I got all the yarns that were available at home. You may have seen the black and white lace (?) yarn from my planner projects. The thicker fine (?) yarn are from my mom. Forgive me, I know nothing about the types of yarn haha. I just make do with what I have.
The plan was to practice first and relearn the stitches because the patterns I saw online use codes like st, sl st, and dc. The chain stitch was the only one I knew 100% and that was the most basic.
Muscle memory is amazing. I didn’t have to look online or ask my mom how to hold the yarn. I’m not sure if this is the proper way, but it was how I was taught. The yarn is looped once on the pinky (which is wiggled from time to time to “get” more yarn), placed over the point finger, then held by the middle finger and the thumb. Pulling the point finger farther from the thumb and middle finger allows you to tighten or loose the stitches.
For the practice, I did two rows of each basic stitch — chain (ch), sc (single crochet), double crochet (dc), and half double crochet (hdc).
It was easier to count the stitches and practice on a thicker yarn. My practice stitch on the thinner yarn resulted in a funny looking shape instead of having clear stacked rows.
I wasn’t planning on making three doilies. I only needed one for my work table, but ended up with two practice doilies and one final doily. It was also my first attempt in making doilies so I went in blind with the patterns that I saw online. All my patterns came from KristinesCrochets.com and it provided text patterns and video tutorials. I’m so thankful that she included video tutorials because the text patterns were confusing for a beginner like me.
I chose the thinner yarn because I didn’t want my doily to look too fluffy. I started off okay, surprising myself when the stitches were starting to look like an actual doily. The first design is a flowery and round doily.
Then everything went downhill when I had to make 29 stitches and I LOST COUNT. hahahaha It was my first time making a doily, I was learning how to recognize the stiches for it to be counted, and at the same time I had to be mindful of the stitch count. I think I over counted midway the pattern. The uneven spaces in the doily were so visible.
I showed my progress to a friend who also crochets (follow @mimoknots on Instagram!) and recommended that I use stitch markers to keep track. I couldn’t wait another day for a delivery of legit stitch markers, so I improvised and used yarn. I tried a different pattern for another practice doily. This time I vowed to pay more attention and count carefully.
The stitch markers helped a lot because I didn’t lose count (I think). The doilies were supposed to be around 5.9 inches in diameter, but because the yarn was so thin, didn’t come out as expected. It was 2 inches smaller in diameter.
The thicker yarn was more difficult to count because of its fluffy texture. I had to pull on the doily from time to time to be able to count the stitches properly and insert the hook in the proper spaces. It caused me to overcount and had to start over on the third doily. At the end of one round I was wondering why the gap was too big to be joined. Then when I backtracked, I found that I did one whole extra set of stitches.
I realized that crocheting is not an activity where you could just zone out. Usually for DIY projects, I put on a movie or a podcast, then let my hands do the work. With crocheting, I could not even put on music with words because it was messing with my counting. I had to concentrate and be mentally present for every stitch — all 31 of them on a particular round.
After the third doily, I was done. I achieved the diameter that I needed even if it wasn’t the yarn that I wanted.
When you think of doilies, it’s usually used a coaster for drinking glasses. But I made the doily for a mini usb fan on my work table. The small fan is for my laptop because I don’t want it to overheat because of the weather, especially now that we’re on the hottest season of the year. When it’s on, it vibrates on the table and the sound becomes too annoying. I needed something to absorb the vibrations. I originally used a round rag, but the colors did not tie up with the aesthetic. Having a visually aesthetic table is part of my self-care route, so I have to be particular on the smallest details starting off with the color scheme.
If we’re going to continue this work from home set up for the unforeseeable future, I needed to curate my home office. I am also trying to transition to a natural and earthy color scheme (brown, green, black, and white). I even replaced my blue mouse and went black. Here’s my current home set-up:
How is 2021 treating you so far? I hope you are also taking care of yourself in activities that you enjoy doing. It may not be a good day today, but we hope and look forward to better days. I still struggle and have low days, but I am slowly learning how to manage these feelings. It’s a slow climb, but progress is progress no matter how small it may be. So please hang in there, take it one day at a time, and we’ll survive each awful day together until we rise above it.