I’m BACK!

December 7, 2010

This past year I’ve been doing less and less. When I graduated last December I was more functional than I’ve been this entire year. It’s been frustrating to say the least. I feel like I’ve lost enough of my life due to these accidents and having the gains I had made over the past few years falling away was brutal. When I couldn’t keep dyeing yarn or even posting about my exploits it nearly killed what was left of my soul. Being banished to the only (moderately) quiet and dark place I have to go, my mother’s basement, just hasn’t been very satisfying. Thankfully things got so bad this past November that they’re getting better.

Those of my Chronic Bitches and any others who have spent the past few years on OxyContin know exactly what I’m talking about. Having been on the same dose for way too long, I’d been feeling worse and worse with time. To make matters worse, on Halloween night, I started the first dose of the new OP pills. Sure, they may be harder to abuse, but they’re also impossible to digest leaving pain patients to suffer through withdrawal and worse, the full force of the underlying pain they’ve been trying to hide. Thankfully, withdrawal for me isn’t too bad. I get super sweaty (which makes using the TENS impossible because electricity + sweat = all sorts of zaps and hurts), super cold, and my sleeping gets even worse. I don’t get a runny nose or flu-like at all. Some muscle aches, but nothing too horrid. All in all, not that bad and compared to the pain I’ve been living with, VERY short lived. What got me was how bad I hurt. When I hurt like that I thrash about trying to find any position or movement that relieves the pain. This thrashing about only further injures me. I’ve been having minor to moderate thrashing bits for about a year and a half since the old dose wasn’t working anymore and then suddenly, I literally had to use every fiber of my being to stay still because I know the thrashing makes things worse. By the time my physical therapist asked me to wear a cervical collar until we figured out how to get the pain under control I was very happy to wear one.

My old doctor’s office (and their after hours answering service) refused to believe that the change in pills could cause any of this and treated me like a criminal for stating the simple fact that I needed help getting my pain under control ASAP. The urgent care I finally went into (no health insurance makes it a very expensive proposition) proceeded to lecture me, told me that this was my own fault for not managing my meds effectively, that it wasn’t possible for the OP pills to be giving me any problems (unless I was an addict who was snorting them or whatever the fuck people do with them), and gave me some completely useless pills to last me a whopping 3 days, until Monday. Because of course you can get an appointment with a new pain doctor that fast after a holiday weekend!

Thankfully Tuesday morning I got in to see someone my PT had suggested I see. She looked at me a little sideways until she found out who sent me. Then, I actually got to explain my problems to someone who would listen…for over an hour! I kept talking at warp speed. I’m so used to having to get through everything in those typical 4-6 minute appointments! Ultimately, I got put on new pain meds, in a dose that actually works for me without being treated like a criminal. Within 24 hours of starting the new pills, the changes were so dramatic I wouldn’t have believed them if I hadn’t been caught inside of them!

The pain is lower than it’s been since…before the wrecks, 4+ years ago. I still feel the hurt, but it’s shockingly manageable. I don’t feel all dizzy and drugged like I have any time the pain has been knocked down in the past. My brain actually works again! I can keep track of what row and stitch I’m knitting! Last night I pulled out a rather heavy textbook about headaches and was able to follow it through the few pages I was interested in, even though I had a bad headache! I got to go play with my friend’s kids for the first time in months and months. I was just as overexcited as the kids were! I took my dogs on a short walk after my PT appointment last week. The dogs hardly knew what to do. They’ve not really been on any walks since early last winter and even those were rather sparse! I even went to knitting group for the first time since July! I feel like if I can get back some strength just maybe I could work again, probably not a scheduled job because of the fact that pain doesn’t adhere to a schedule, but maybe be a writer or work more on knitting patterns and yarn dyeing.

The most exciting thing right now is that I’m knitting Christmas gifts for my family. I’m way to broke to buy them anything though I’d kill to go shopping. I desperately want to get out and be a part of the world now that I can for aa few hours a day! Sitting in the same cell I’ve been trapped in for the past year and a half just doesn’t feel like it’s got any holiday spirit to it. Maybe I should decorate. BUT, the point is, I’m making holiday gifts for the people I love. I was dreading the empty handed holidays. I’d given up around Halloween. I couldn’t even finish my costume, or my mom’s birthday present. Thankfully, my mom is the kind of person who still gets rather excited when you show her a tangled mess of yarn and explain what you were trying to get done. I may not get all my holiday gifts done in time, but there will be a few!

My goal for this year was to get good enough at knitting that I could start writing patterns. After the first wreck and the loss of work, I’d started working very hard on putting together a set of crochet pretend food patterns (this was way before Tasty Crochet) and then had to quit with the second wreck when I lost the ability to crochet. I found a dog sweater I’d attempted when I was trying to learn to knit in 03. I’m unraveling it as I knit on my brother S’s gift. The progress I’ve made even with the hell I’ve been through this past year is incredible. Just in this one picture, you can see how I used to unintentionally twist every stitch and how irregular my tension was. On the right, you can see the torso of the ‘doll’ I’m knitting. The gauge is an even tight fabric (to hold in the stuffing) and there are no twisted stitches.

I’m very pleased that in this year of hell I’ve made some progress in something even if it seems like the shreds I’d been clinging to of my previous life have all slipped away. I’ve missed several trips this year, including one to Europe. I’ve missed weddings, parties, dates, meals, countless night’s sleep, and just the feeling of the sun on my face as I stroll around with my dogs. But, I’m coming back now. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have this Christmas than this hope that I’m not stuck in the pained state I’ve been in for the past year and a half. Just having a clear head is worth everything. I’m not sure how fast, or even what I should/shouldn’t be doing given how bad the pain the drugs are hiding really is, but now that I’ve got a spark of strength and the hope that there is someone new who actually believes in helping me through my pain rather than ignoring my gradual decline, consider me back.

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I was getting lost around Etsy today and found what I’d want at my baby shower, you know, if I ever found a guy, settled down into a traditional lifestyle, and had kids. It’s a lot of ifs, but I LOVE this item.

This is the first actually cute diaper cake I’ve ever seen. I love the colors, not all pansy at all. Plus, it comes with a Cat in the Hat plush. That seems like a good one to get for a kid. Think of the trouble they could get into and then blame it on the stuffed guy!

I just wanted to share. Usually, these baby things are just so fruity looking, like pastel cloud vomit. This one looks awesome and I’d totally have to have it if I were having a baby shower. It’s epic. If I were to ever try my hand at making diaper cakes and such, you can bet it’d look more like this than anythign you’ve ever seen. You can get it here on etsy if you are planning for a little one in your life.

Last night I took a short break from swatch making to finish the first fingerless mitt in a pair I’m making. I’m using the pattern Green Thumb by Diana Foss that a raverly friend of mine gave me. While I love the pattern, I felt like it needed some serious colorwork. I altered the pattern to have the colorwork I wanted, green for the leaf and knit stitches and brown for the purls. I used a two-color cast on method so my first row would still match the rest of my pattern. Some of the strands on the thumb leaf motif were a little bit too long (I worked the entire mitt in fair isle) and caused the mitt to bunch up. I ended up cutting the worst 8 offenders and tieing them up and weaving in those ends as well. Now it’s perfect! I love wearing it so much it’ll be hard to take it off long enough to get a shower today!

I ended up learning a bit more about fair isle and colorwork in general on this project. Here’s what my supplies looked like. There were more when I ended than when I started:

I started out with nothing but the pattern, a set of size 3 DPNs in bamboo, and the yarn, Berroco Comfort DK. I got frustrated with the DPNs because the yarn wasn’t sliding well. I’d like to get more Addi Turbo and Bernat Aero needles, or even some more BaleneII. Unfortunately, this is all I have in size 3 so I’m stuck with them for now. I did just buy a square circular size 3 DPN but I’m afraid that it might mess up my gauge on the second mitt. I do plan on using the new circular to make some gift mitts 2-at-a-time magic loop style. As I worked, I added a cute stitch marker I made to help keep track of the beginning and end of the round.

Then I made myself a row counter because I couldn’t find any I liked. The most brilliant addition to my supplies is the little thingy that keeps your yarns from getting tangled when doing colorwork. I picked it up at one of my local shops, and it’s been one of the best purchase ever! I highly recommend them for all colorwork projects. It take a little while to figure out how to get your tension right while wearing one, but it pays off. Unfortunately, I also had to add a small crochet hook to the little kit because I made a few mistakes in the 2X2 rib. I kept my colors right, but when sleepy would mess up the knits and purls. It turns out it’s very difficult to drop a stitch, run it down and work it back up when doing colorwork! Finally, I put the whole thing into the perfectly sized bag that choperena made for me in the Dr. Horrible Swap.

Here’s a few more pictures of the finished mitt for your drooling pleasure. This pattern is tons of fun and I highly recommend it. If you decide to try to tackle it with colors like mine, feel free to contact me with questions. Heck, with any luck after my big swatch project, I’ll be able to make my own leafy mitts that I like more and have even more green leaves! I’d love to see more of the ‘sapling’ knit ribs grow into having leaves and buds on them. We’ll see, it’s back to some special gift crafting and swatches for me in the meantime.

 

I just had to share:

I’m knitting on the socks with the “Punk Entrails” colorway I dyed Friday. I’m using a pattern from dye-namics called Eyelet Rib Sock Pattern. I finished the first 11 stitches on a provincial cast on and am now knitting the provisional cast on together with my working row. At this point in time, I have 8 double pointed needles all working together in a delicate balance. That’s right, I don’t just knit with two sticks….I knit with 8 double ended sticks! It’s quite a power trip to be mastering it all. I’m the ruler of the DPNs!

It’s MONDYE!

July 12, 2010

I’ve decided to start a new weekly tradition for the hairballz blog. Every Monday, we’ll have Mondye! It’s a chance to oogle all yarn, fabric, wool, and even ungloved fingers that were dyed during the past week. If you have to start another week, you might as well do so with some fuzzy eye candy, right?

Here we have an overview of the week’s dyeing, most of which is destined for my etsy shop. It was my first time to dye roving! The yellow yarn that’s hanging in the back of the picture is 5 hanks of Mountain Dew dyed yarn for a custom batch order. I’m very pleased with how these came out. The color is perfect, and the subtle variation in color within the hank is ideal for adding that gentle interest to solid colored knit pieces.

Unfortunately, I had a rather high pain week and wasn’t able to do as much as I set out to do. Additionally, the yarn and wool I was expecting to receive on Thursday didn’t arrive until Friday. I started in Friday right away with some sock yarn and some professional acid dyes I ordered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY happy with my food safe dyes and acids, but I wanted to experiment. So I got some acid dyes in black, grey and blood red. My intention was to dye some zombie/apocalypse yarn. This way I’d be plenty inspired for the upcoming zombie swap with the Odd Ducks of Ravelry. I envisioned a mottled grey yarn with black flecks and blood splatter. The goal was truly gruesome sock yarn to make some stunning mid-calf socks for myself. The black I ordered was a blueish black, and mixed with the red blood color made for lots of purple. Next time I’ll dye the grey, wait for it to cool, wash the yarn, then dye the red splatter, wait for it to cool, wash…. and so on to layer up the color rather than my current dyeing history of just keeping going and only washing at the end of all colors. This way I may be able to prevent some of the color mixing that caused my zombie yarn to come out so feminine. I’m calling the color “Punk Endtrails”:

I’m no longer content to have my socks made from this. However, I do like the color a ton. It just wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. It reminds me of colors a goth girl might wear. It’s very similar to my punk zombie doll. Who knows, if I swapped yarn dyed this color with my little zombie doll, then it could still be on theme even! I just don’t want this yarn for me though since the colors came out so un-gruesome. Unfortunately, this particular yarn got a bit knotted up. Thank goodness I’ll have a yarn swift soon! Since it does have about a half-dozen little knots in it, I’m calling it unfit for sale. I wouldn’t want any of my customers to have even one knot in their yarns! I spent hours hunting through sock patterns on Ravelry to find just the one. I decided I’ll knit socks out of this yarn anyhow, and I bet my mother would love these colors! I’ve got to get my holiday crafting done sooner rather than later, and she has a birthday around that time too. If the finished socks don’t seem very her, then surely they’ll be very me. Either way, I’m still knitting socks!

Next we have soda dyed rovings. I don’t want to leave the spinners out of the awesomeness of soda dyeing! Here’s the “Orange Crush” and “Grape Crush” both dyed on a superwash merino wool roving.

Both colors came out with tons of white area even though each is the same weight of wool and dyed in the same quantity of soda as my soda yarns. The superwash just sucks up the dye before I can even get all the wool into the pot! The orange is just varied shades of orange and off-white so it looks just like orange soda with foam. The purple came out with stripes on the inside of deep bluish purple in addition to the lighter soda foam areas. It’s a very interesting roving to say the least. I’m quite happy with how both came out and I’d love to spin that orange up! The purple is nice, but it’s just not my color.

I also dyed a roving with the blood red professional dye. I dipped it much like making hand-dipped candles. The color came out exactly like I wanted, but darker than I’d intended. I was just going to use the dye that was left over from my sock yarn to make some pink roving, but when I added a bit more dye to the pot, I got the most stunning color. I’m calling this one “Wild Strawberries” because looking at this roving makes me hungry and almost makes my mouth tingle with the tartness of a wild strawberry.

The final roving I had to dye, I wasn’t sure about what colors I wanted. Then guy pal suggested a waterfall over dinner. Every dyer seems to make a waterfall colorway, and I’m sure I will to at some point. I decided that since I’m in Colorado, and it’s the summer time, the appropriate color would be white water rafting instead! I used several Wilton cake colors to make acid dye for this roving. This color is truly one-of-a-kind. Be sure to watch out for those rocks on your rafting (spinning) adventure!

I’m so happy with this week’s dyeing, I don’t think I can pick a favorite. Even though I don’t like purple much, it’s a stunning shade. I’d love to spin up the white water colorway, but I know those colors don’t look good on me. The orange would be super fun spin and knit into socks. It’s superwash, so all you’d have to do is ply in some nylon thread! Then the wild strawberries I want to spin into a worsted weight yarn and actually make up one of the many free patterns for knit and crochet strawberries. Of course then I’d have to dye a stem green as well… The Mountain Dew always comes out great. It’s such a reliable and soft yellow. All geeks should knit their kids’ blankets out of Mountain Dew! As for the sock yarn, I’ve adopted it and someone on my list is likely to get some socks made from it…so long as this pattern works out well. I could see some great fingerless mitts there too. Send me a message if you’ve just got to grab one of this week’s dyeing. This is all there is from this week, so you’ll have to jump on it!

I finally got my package done for the Doctor Horrible Sing Along Blog swap I did for the Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry. Given how much work I ended up having to put into this package, the absence of inspiration for the first month, and all the paperwork and time that ended up being involved for the deposition and then the hearing that didn’t happen, I’m really pleased it came out this well and only took an extra 5 days to finish! It’ll get mailed out first thing tomorrow morning via FedEx 2 Day. That means I only have to wait and squirm in anticipation of my spoilee opening it until Thursday! I don’t think there is anything more exciting than getting to spoil someone. Yes, it can be very hard to send away all your awesome creations, but somewhere someone will squeal with delight.

One of my earliest ideas was to send some soup from the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen. I also have a history of wood burning spoons, so this seemed like a good, easy handmade to include. My partner doesn’t like really spicy stuff as I found in my stalking, so I got a different flavor soup from what I’d normally buy for myself. I’ve tried the same brand of spicy tortilla soup, but still had to add some heat. I picked up a set of wooden utensils when I was in Arizona at the IKEA, so the total cost of this craft came to 3 bucks for soup and 49 cents for utensils. I used her favorite quotes for the spoons and came up with a design for Caring Hands.

I love the slogan I came up with for them based on Dr. Horrible’s attitude toward their efforts. After all, the solution really is to just put the power into different hands, and not necessarily their caring ones. The date is the year the movie came out.

I did a big sewing project too. I’d seen several people make Wonderflonium knitting bags, but I wanted to be a little more unique than that. No one wants to see everyone make the same projects for the swap, right? So I made a binder to hold patterns and included page protectors to keep the patterns safe from Moist. I’d hate to have him drip on my patterns and smear the ink. I made 4 pockets too. There is one sized just for the Dr. Horrible needle gauge I made, a big pocket with 3 separate compartments each large enough to hold a set of DPNs, and a little pocket for odd bits of yarn or stitch markers. I know for a fact my spoilee made some awesome stitch markers for her spoilee and was talking about crafting them in double to have for herself. Here’s the front inside:

And here’s the back inside with the last pocket for holding circular needles. My spoilee is a sock knitter and I wanted to make sure she had space for all her sock knitting supplies, or at least enough to last a short trip, vacation, or wild stitch-and-bitch session. Even this binder came in under budget. While the actual binder was expensive, all the fabric I used was in the remnants bin at the Hancock Fabrics by my house on a day when all remnants were on sale an additional 75% off! I have plenty to make another binder even. All the remnants were at least a half yard! But, I don’t have the program or card writer for my embroidery machine though and ended up using Sharpie on some white satin I had in my stash for the labels. I also contemplated needle felting black wool on, but that just wouldn’t fit with the sparklie briefcase nature of the project.

I love this binder so much I have to make one for myself. I don’t know what theme I want for mine, but I want this binder. I also want a nice needle gauge. If only I could figure out a theme, I’d have the best set of stitch markers, a row counter, a binder, a few bags, and a needle gauge. I want the finished set, I just can’t pick a damn theme! I may go something earthy, something hippie, or something punk. I have no clue.

Here’s the whole haul I’m sending off. Believe it or not, I came in under the $30 budget. I wanted to do more, but a few little birdies on my end kept saying that I can’t do that much because it makes the smaller swap packages and packages from folks who don’t craft/shop quite as well as me look lame. I certainly don’t want to make anyone look lame, but I want to have the most awesome packages anyhow. I think this will have to suffice.

I like to wrap with clues. My family almost always uses clues on our Christmas presents, and we even do celebrity gifts! Every person gets one gift a year (and usually a big one like Santa’s present) and it’s addressed as from the celebrity. It’s my favorite holiday tradition. I mean who wouldn’t want to get a gift from Hannibal Lector? Then when I checked my wrapping box, I had tissue paper left over from the video game swap I did. There were several bright colors and METALLICS! I love the whole package being wrapped up in the steam punk-ish Doctor Horrible color scheme. Could it be more perfect? Not unless I’d had a shipping box big enough to package it all in a blue, round laundry basket like Penny’s! For the record, I bought one at the dollar store, but the binder didn’t fit inside and I didn’t have a big enough box. The basket is now holding fiber under my spinning stool so the wool doesn’t get icky on the floor.

The clues I used are:

  • for the ice cream flavored candy and chapstick, “what a crazy random happenstance”
  • for the black and white thread she had on her wish list, “for that classic battle of good and evil”
  • for the chair, “we all need somewhere to sit while we dream about the keys to a shiny new Australia”
  • for the Otterpops style soda pops, “the freeze ray needs work…may I recommend your freezer?”
  • for the needle gauge, “It’s ok, he won’t feel a thing”
  • for the soup, “From the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen”
  • for the odd duck, “Steampunkin’ up the Odd Ducks”
  • for the pop rocks mad scientist set, “Materials from the E.L.E. for your next horrible experiment”
  • for the Wonderflonium binder I included a message in the front pocket about why I’d made the pockets the size I did and that this binder, like wonderflonium will include what you need to finish your next horrible project and to keep knitting those awesome socks because you have to remember, “Even in the darkness, every color can be found.”
  • for the page protectors, “to keep your patterns safe from Moist”

Fingers crossed she loves this package at least half as much as I loved putting it together for her. I hope she feels very loved and very spoiled. I hate sewing with satin. Doing so is a sign I really, really like someone.

I love the odd ducks group on ravelry’s swaps. The topics are often off the wall and inspire the best and most creative crafting from all the members. I’m trying to get a package finished to ship out. It’s due at the end of this month, but it looks like I’ll ship in the first week of July. I hate being late, but I am one of the best spoilers out there and it takes a while to properly stalk a person and craft a package that will leave them breathless.

The swap I’m working on right now is the Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog swap. Everything has to be themed around that movie. For starters, I decided to make my partner a needle gauge. She knits socks constantly and most store bought needle gauges don’t go small enough for sock needles. I’ve noticed most gauges stop at size 0 and I’d like them to go to 000 or smaller. Conveniently, guy pal has a great set of drill bits and a drill press AND was willing to help me.

I first cut out a shape on my scroll saw pulled from the outline of a man on a restroom sign. I just added a little neck in before cutting it out of craft plywood from Michael’s Arts and Crafts. I sanded it lightly and started figuring out what size holes I would need. Knitting needles are measured in mm and the drill bit set I have access to is in inches. So I spent quite a while with a calculator and digital calipers trying to decide if I wanted to go with a .072 or a .068 inch bit for a given hole. I drilled all the holes with a little help from guy pal. His drill press and I aren’t good friends. He and I got holes drilled to make this needle gauge go from size 000 to 10.5 and tested the holes with my own needles to be sure they were just right.

Then I took the cutout shape with holes home to draw a Captain Hammer on it. I figured that it would be great. I could include on the gift tag that it was from Dr. Horrible’s knitting bag. He does seem like the type that would have a voodoo Captain Hammer as his needle gauge if he knit.

Then a few weeks later, I saw a new forum post by my partner indicating that she didn’t really want anything Captain Hammer. So I erased the Captain Hammer drawing and started drawing on a Dr. Horrible. I figured this too would be ok. The tag could just reference the last line of the film by reading, “It’s ok, he won’t feel a thing.”

After finally being satisfied with the new drawing I pulled out the box of acrylic paints and set to work. After finishing painting the Dr. Horrible needle gauge, I ended up re-drilling all the holes because the paint had closed some in just a little bit. Next time I may drill all the holes after painting so I’m not doing the work twice…or be more careful with the paint.

While painting the needle gauge, I also painted the awesome chair that Dr. Horrible has in his lair. He sits in it holding a picture frame with a picture of Penny in it when he sings about handing her “the keys to a shiny new Australia.” Everyone in the swap group seems to really love this chair. When I was out shopping at a local thrift store, I found a picture frame shaped like the big chair! It was filthy and the paint job was really bad–not at all Dr. Horrible.

I cleaned it up and painted it to match the one in the film. It combines the picture frame he’s holding AND the chair he’s sitting in. I think it should score me some mad creativity points. It’s really a shame for the sake of photographing them that he’s not smaller and the chair’s not bigger. That chair is really HUGE in the movie!

Remember, while I may not be able to duplicate the chair frame due to the strange find at the thrift store, if you need a custom needle gauge, leave me a comment or send me a message on etsy! They are a time consuming task, but the result is totally worth it! I’m sure I’ll be making another one for each swap I’m in and a few more generic ones for my store. It’s so unique while being sturdy enough to handle getting tossed about in a knitting bag and functional enough to please even the most difficult swap partners. It’s also super easy to make them fit different themes if you’ve got scroll saw skills!