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Russia conspiracies, custody battles: Claire Danes has had it tough on 'Homeland'

Season 7 of "Homeland" saw Carrie Mathison caught up in a Russian conspiracy and losing custody of her daughter all while still dealing with her bipolar disorder. “That was challenging to kind of sit with her in that terror,” says star Claire Danes.

It goes without saying that each season of "Homeland" will find Carrie Mathison in a state of constant stress as she obsesses over a crisis involving the national security of the United States. So, yeah, Claire Danes, the actress who portrays the former CIA agent, seeks ways to counterbalance the intensity of the fictional world she inhabits.

For Season 7, the refuge came in the form of knitting.

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"I got really involved with the knitting," Danes said when she stopped by the L.A. Times video studio. "For a long time, embroidery was my thing. I've always had a fondness for crafting. [So] I was very excited to discover a whole new world of crafting… It started with scarves and then I advanced to hats with attachable pom-poms."

Danes said she kind of recruited Morgan Spector, who played FBI agent Dante Allen this season, to join in the loops of fun — noting he was game for a bit. And she made a scarf for costar Mandy Patinkin, who plays Saul Berenson, that was "not so successful, but he very sweetly wears it all the time." Of course, it wasn't always a welcomed activity on the set of the drama.

"The [assistant directors] were not happy about the development, because they'd call me to set and I'd be like, 'I just have to finish this row,'" Danes said. "It did impose itself onto the filming a little bit. But it keeps me sane."

And Season 7 certainly needed an equalizer. The season saw Carrie caught up in a Russian conspiracy and losing custody of her daughter — not to mention the character, who suffers from a bipolar disorder, is acting erratically after building up a tolerance for lithium.

"That was challenging to kind of sit with her in that terror," Danes said.

And next season will likely keep the stress coming for Carrie. But is relaxation on the horizon for the embattled character? Production on Season 8 of the Showtime series begins in January, and there's talk that it could be its last — though, there's been no official decision. Whatever the case, Danes always wishes for the same thing each season.

"I'm always praying for a little relief and peace and grace — something really mundane for her," Danes said. "But that's not going to happen. That I've learned."

The full conversation can be viewed below:

Claire Danes discusses 'Homeland's' 'spy camp,' Carrie's many challenges and the intricacies of knitting.

Twitter: @villarrealy

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