The Last Bears…

Phillip and were having, what I thought, was a miraculous time. I was knitting, he was gaming. That’s what we do. Then I got up, tried to put some dishes away and I slowly watched him watching me…..

“You can’t use your arm, can you?”

“No, having trouble today, but I can put the dishes away with my right arm. It’s fine.”

Quickly, he expressed his concern. “No, no no no. Not fine. You’re left hand barely works anymore, your teeth are killing you. Now, come on! I’m tired of watching you in pain.”

We talked about it for a good long while and we….debated. (Ok, argued. His version: I love you too much to see you in such pain. My version: I can handle it.)

Pushing myself to knit to fix my teeth and pay the bills is just doing damage to my arm. So, once I get my teeth fixed up, my arm will be too damaged to continue knitting to fix my arm.

I don’t think we’re going to make it to February 16th, which is when I was going to finish knitting teddy bears in homage to it being 5 years since I sold my first one to get out of homelessness. But, in all the hope of knitting to reach an end, to fix my teeth, to give us some security, to raise us up, to keep us alive…my arm just can’t take anymore. So, these last bears I knit, will be the last.

I would rather fix my teeth, rather than my arm. Sounds crazy, but, I’m at the point where I’ve poked a new hole in my belt buckle to keep my pants up. Wearing two pairs of socks so that my boots fit.

And he keeps asking, “What do you do next?”

I’ve never been fond of playing my cards before they’re ready, so I always just mention, “I have a plan.” And I do. I truly truly do. I have an idea of what I want to do with this blog. And it involves all of you. All of us and everything we’ve been through. I’m good at writing. I’m good at inspiring. I’m good at reminding of hope. And in my own way, I’m awfully good at bringing people together with the reminders that our commonalities should be shared through our differences. A safe haven for knitters in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Not a “Ravelry” and not a “Knitty.” Something different. Those sites have done incredible things for the art of knitting. But, I’m going to move into the soul of knitting. Because that’s where I speak best. That’s where my voice find it’s resonance. Why, and how, and for whom, are my calling. Not the stitches themselves, but the intention behind the stitches.

I have a solid plan for this blog and perhaps it’s time to start on that sooner, rather than later. Because, it does not seem we are going to make it to February. The more I knit, the less I can. The less I can knit, the less my teeth and arm are tended to. The less I knit…..

Well, let’s just say, I will NEVER be homeless again. I won’t allow it.

So, I keep picking up the needles, and as they drop to the floor because I can no longer hold them, I suck it up. Foolishly, I suck it up. I raise my chin defiantly and proclaim that I can do it. But, with my mornings I notice more and more the slowing of my knitting. My left arm just can’t follow the speed of my right arm. I drop my needles more now. I bend down to get them and find myself grabbing them with a grunt and a moan and quick, “f*!k,” under my breath.

img_1216With the orders I have to complete, and the bears I keep knitting up to keep the money coming in, the last teddy bears I have will be the end of my teddy bear making, long before February arrives. I’ve watched my work slow to the point I have to make amends for it, apologize for it. I watch my right arm take dominance and notice that my left arm will no longer hold a coffee cup. I watch myself reach to my husband to hold him and my left arm won’t lift as high to meet his shoulders. I’ve watched my left arm try to point at something and shake as it lingers mid air.

So, this is where we are. Concerned, pressured. Pushed to move quickly….like any knitter approaches a new and intimidating project.

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  1. having picked up enough dropped needles of my own because of chronic lyme/fibromyalgia,i share some of your knitting difficulties…i hope you continue to enjoy knitting for knitting’s sake and for your own pleasure,long after you lay your needles down when the last bear is completed and your production days are over…i will love to see where the next adventure into the soul of knitting will take us together…wherever you go,i for one will be along for the ride….<3 🙂

  2. Sounds like you are suffering with either a shoulder impingement or a frozen shoulder. I’ve got the former at the moment, but they share some symptoms and they are both very painful. If you can take them, you need some NSAIDs painkillers (the generic is called ibuprofen in the UK, not sure what you call it the USA) for inflammation and do some gentle exercises (loads out there on the internet, but if it hurts don’t do them, it might not be ready for that yet, then it’s just rest).

    I find I can knit with a cushion under my elbow. I hope you manage to find a comfortable spot too.

  3. I’m so glad you’ve put this out in the open, Gregory. It’s time, maybe past time. And clearly it’s time to open the door to collaboration of some kind so that your life gets bigger and richer and more alive. How can I help?

  4. Please don’t rush with my bear. Having followed you for so long I had to have a beautiful bear. Your health is more important so whenever he’s finished will be fine.

    Take care of yourself Philip can’t do it on his own.


  5. I read this with chills of concern. I care about you. There is a way. There is always a way. Being one who can take the pain is not a healthy way of being. You are probably more accepting of it than you have to. You don’t have to if you believe you don’t have to.

    I am an astrologer. Would you mind sending me your date, time and place of birth and I will share with you any insight I see.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your arm difficulties. Maybe some rest will help. I know it is difficult but take a little time off. I just purchased your “last bear.” I’m so happy to get one of them. I really enjoy your blog…… please keep it going!

    Love and Blessings to you and Philip.

  7. Those that can’t do… teach… why don’t you teach knitting, designing, knitting engineering… is quite obvious that you are quite talented in these areas….

    And please take care of yourself.

  8. I feel your pain hunny, literally… I too knit to try to keep my roof over my head (not quite succeeding at the mo but that’s another story) and I suffer from pain in my right shoulder. I have had a frozen shoulder there twice now and gosh does that hurt…took 18 mths each time to get bearable (no pun and I am left with what feels like nerve damage, it creaks and cracks and at times feels sort of ‘dead’ and the pain can radiate down to my hand…but I have no alternative plan unfortunately so will have to persevere.. (I have fibromyalgia as well which never helps!) …Whatever your new venture happens to be, I wish you every success and hope it takes you towards all you wish for… hugs from across the pond. x

  9. I am reading Who Moved My Cheese for the second time. This wonderful little book has sold more than 11 million copies for a reason. You can find it in your local library. I think you would be blessed and inspired, considering where you’re at now.

  10. STOP. THE. INSANITY… are a survivor…you will never be homeless again…you are a talent, an inspiration, a craftsman!!! Heal your body, then continue your path to inspire all of us followers! I’m so mad at myself for not ordering a bear from you sooner….cest la vie…I will wait for your next chapter!!! Now rest and let your mind create a new vision of your future success story!

  11. take care of yourself! put down the knitting needles and rest your arms. if you can get to a doc to evaluate the problem and treat it….to prevent further injury. maybe a new book – with essays and bear patterns? knitting books are pretty popular…

  12. “Moderation”. Learn it and take it to heart. Seriously. You no longer have a choice, when it comes to knitting. You will eventually knit for your own pleasure again, but you MUST slow down and heal yourself first. Is better to only knit a couple hours at a time every few days? Or stubbornly torture yourself and take 3 times longer to finish a bear because you can barely move and you keep trying EVERY day? If you don’t slow down, you won’t be able to finish what you do have and you’ll reach a point where you can no longer grip anything in the left hand at all until you get it fixed. Is that what you want? Look at it this way. The best way you can show Phillip your love and support is by taking care of what he treasures most. YOU. Stop trying to be a stubborn, Super Human Being and give yourself and your relationship the respect you both deserve. I say this out of love for you, my friend; and I’m sorry if it sounds harsh. It is not meant to be. Only the truth.

    Gentle hugs to you both,

  13. I was wondering if you had considered making a video to go along with your bear pattern. I purchased the pattern but would love to have a video that went along with it. I’m sure people would pay for the video I know I would. Take care of yourself and know that we will continue to follow your blog with or without teddy bears.

  14. Take care of your health, please. Its irreplaceable

    Have you considered doing something different with your experiences and skills? There are a lot of men in need of the physical and emotional help that something like knitting could bring. Veterans, stroke victims, people in need of a skill. Perhaps you could put together an ebook of stories, inspiration and some basic patterns?

  15. The thing is, not all injuries are forever. It sounds like you need to rest it and let it heal. Then you may be able to go back to knitting. I did something similar to myself years ago. Getting ready for a miniature show, I started with pain in my hand, which progressed, as the weeks went on, through my wrist, elbow, and shoulder until I was having chest pains the day of the show. I had a horrible case of tendonitis and it took four months of not doing anything with it, a wrist brace, and a round of meds to get back to the point where I could again work on my projects. But eventually I could go back to knitting and sewing again.

  16. Hmmmm I am in the same spot right now, have over done my knitting again and am going though withdrawals. But I know resting it and evaluating it later will tell me it it is time to see the Doctor. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Sometimes our bodies force us to step into that next new adventure…we will be with you though out the changes and into the new!

  17. I have had to take a hiatus from knitting because of my shoulder. It started out as a repetitive motion injury and progressed to frozen shoulder which sounds a lot like your issues. Inflammation is the enemy. Ice is your friend. Ice it for 20 minutes at a time resting about 20 minutes. Ice it as often as you can. And stretch it to the point of pain, but not past over and over and over again. It will get better.

    Thank you for your blog, your spirit, and your kindness. I pray you continue to share in one way or another. You have a voice that needs to be heard.

  18. If not carpal tunnel it could be calcific tendinitis which requires steroid shots. There is nothing wrong with applying for SSI and getting medical help. You paid into the system. Let them help you get back on your feet. I also suggest teaching knitting, paid knitting groups with project assistance and outsourcing your bears to other American knitters. Be well, sweetie, I am praying for you.

  19. I don’t care how long my bear takes, as long as I know eventually I can gift him. I don’t knit, but I do a lot of repetitive motion so have issues with carpal and tennis elbow. As I sit here typing this with an elbow brace on. Not sure if you’re using anything like that, but it helps me tremendously. Take care of yourself and Phillip; you need each other!. Much love to you.

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