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.

I’m working on a zombie swap on Ravelry. This little zombie doll I made long ago had been helping me. She’s been trained to assist me in my crafting much like a zombie in “Fido.” I still haven’t decided if I’ll toss her in the box to my spoilee or not. We’re knitting something epic to say the least. It’s a custom pattern and custom chart I wrote just for my spoilee. I’ll post the pattern when I’m done or add it to my shop after making a few more size options and only after my spoilee has received her box. As I was knitting I realized we’re using Umbrella Corp colored knitting needles! Is this not the most epic of all epic wins? I have a zombie helping me knit a zombie project with zombie colored knitting needles!

July Mystery KAL

July 28, 2010

This month I signed up to do a mystery KAL in my Knitted Toys group on Ravelry. I finally got my little critter done. My original guess based just on the supplies required (black and white yarn) was right! We made a sheep…I’d figured the colorwork for a zebra would unfortunately be beyond too many people’s grasp to make for a good KAL, but I’d have loved to do a zebra. Maybe that’ll be one of my first animal patterns I write. A zebra’s stripes are close enough fair isle would probably work…

Anyhow, here’s my finished sheep! If you need more pictures and info, check out her project page on Ravelry!

I’m calling her Juliana. Her body piece was my first time to every do seed stitch. I only had to unravel one row because it had become ribbing which I think is pretty good for a beginner. I also altered the pattern a bit as it had TONS of seaming. I worked the arms and legs in the round, but not the hands and feet so I’d still be able to stitch in the pipe cleaners I used as stuffing. Her arms have just enough bulk from the yarn and plenty of poses from the doubled up pipe cleaners. I also made her scarf longer than in the pattern and instead of having her knitting on a second scarf, I knit a bitty sock for her to work on. She’s using shortened toothpicks as her double pointed needles.

The little bear beside her is one of those silly little personal things that one keeps on their bookcases. This bear once lived in my little sister’s doll house. When we were playing (mind you I was in college at the time, much younger sister) she said that bear couldn’t play because it had broken it’s leg falling down the stairs. There weren’t even stairs in the doll house! It was two stories, but it lacked stairs. What imagination! I carefully moved the bear, Ruby, to my apartment where I gave my sister some gauze and told her she should bandage up the injuries. This helped, but the bear was still bed ridden. She couldn’t walk on her broken leg. Of course I did the logical thing and built little crutches only an inch tall complete with padded arm rests for Ruby. When it came time for the doll house to find a new home, I just couldn’t pass Ruby along. She lives now tucked amongst my ever growing collection of antique medical texts. It seems an appropriate place. Maybe I’ll have to make Ruby some knitting one day; she and Juliana can have their own KAL.

Just a quick update

July 21, 2010

I managed another 2 swatches today, reverse stockinette and seed stitch. I’d done both before, so that made them easier, but I did manage to mess up on the seed stitch and have to unravel a couple of rows. For those who aren’t familiar with reverse stockinette, it’s the same as stockinette stitch, just flipped over, so you start on the right side with a purl row and all wrong sides are knit rows.

If you want to try to follow my size swatches, I did the first 5 stitches by casting on 20 and working the pattern for 20 rows. For the seed stitch, I cast on 15 and worked for 30 rows. I plan on doing the same 15/30 for my moss stitch which is next. I’ll also be ordering the blocking set from Knit Picks in my next order so I can block my pieces. Expect an instructional post on blocking afghan swatches soon.

Pictures will come later. I’ve just generally had a fail sort of day. I’ve been trying to package up a few of my yarns from the past few Mondyes to list on etsy and it’s rather draining. I need to get a packaging system in place to make this go faster and easier. I’ve got the crafting and the shipping down, but the packaging just isn’t so smooth yet. On the bright side, I did get to send away another yarn today. I’m selling the purples before I can even get them onto etsy! If any of you want Grape Crush Soda Pop Yarn right away, you’ll probably need to message me about a custom order.

Also, I’m quite curious, for those of you who need to rehank something from its original hank, how do you go about it? Is it best to have two swifts or should I make another few niddy noddies in the lengths I want for my hanks? I’ve got some stunning sock yarn I need to rehank to get into a soda pop bottle. I prefer center-pull cakes of sock yarn myself, but those don’t fit into 2L bottles very well.

Last night I started the most epic knitting project I’ve attempted to date. Last weekend, I finally got a book I’ve really been wanting. I decided I needed a stitch dictionary of some sort so I could make more of my own patterns. I got “Reader’s Digest’s The Essential Stitch Collection: A Creative Guide to the 300 Stitches Every Knitter Really Needs to Know,” mostly because it was in stock at Borders and I had a coupon. I’ve also drooled on my keyboard looking at several others on Amazon.

I’ve knit the first 4 stitches in the book using a 20 by 20 stitches to make the swatch. So far I’ve only used unlabeled acrylic from my stash. Photographing the subtle patterns of the swatches turns out to be a bit of a challenge. I’m going to block them to get better photographs. In the mean time, here’s a picture of the first 4 stitches in the book:

The blue one is garter stitch, the brown is four-row welting, the orange/brown is garter stitch welting, and the dark pink is stockinette stitch. Stitch 5 is reverse stockinette, and I’m not looking forward to it. I just did stockinette and they’re basically the same thing, but I want both to show up in the finished project. I’m already looking forward to a few of the more advanced chapters. The entire first chapter in this book is on knit and purl based patterns.

I hope you all are feeling inspired to join in and make this the most epic destashing KAL in the history of KALs. I don’t think we all need to use the same stitch books either. The idea is to just learn and try as many new techniques as you can. So pull out your favorite stitch dictionary and get knitting!

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!

Bagel Being

January 30, 2010

A friend of mine ordered a custom bagel being. It’s a life-size crocheted bagel with a face and feet. I stitched him up in such a way as to even create little toes. He could even stand up on those big feet of his. He is made of Red Heart Brand worsted weight yarn and stuffed with a premium fiberfill. I’ve made bagel and donut shapes in the past, but this is the first time I’ve ever made feet. I’m quite pleased with how they came out and will likely make feet following the same technique in the future.

Crocheted bagel being

I love custom orders, so message me and we’ll get something going for you!