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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Here is a knitting survey that is going around…

Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.

Afghan/Blanket (baby)
I-cord
Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Shawl
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up

Knitting with camel yarn – not in the budget yet
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down

Hat
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting – seems overrated
Participating in a KAL
Sweater
Drop stitch patterns

Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn – yay freecycle!
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn

Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns

Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Cardigan
Toy/doll clothing

Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn

Slippers
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book
Scarf
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental) – but I HATE it
Knitting to make money

Button holes
Knitting with alpaca – a current project is 100% alpaca
Fair Isle knitting

Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors – I have so many dried flowers I’ve been saving for this purpose

Knitting items for a wedding – it wouldn’t be any different from regular gift knitting as far as I’m concerned
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting – only if someone makes a really cool team
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Bobbles – going to have to learn in the bobbles and leaves chapter in the 300 Stitch KAL
Knitting for a living – I’m trying to get there now!

Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking – going to have to as it’s in the 300 Stitch KAL
Dying yarn
Steeks
Knitting art
Fulling/felting
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Purses/bags

Knitting with beads – it’s in the 300 stitch KAL! Yes!
Swatching
Long Tail CO

Entrelac – again it’s in the 300 stitch KAL
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items

Knitting with cashmere – believe it or not, I’m not that into it to pay for it BUT I may be forced to make gifts…
Darning
Jewelry

Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Gloves – I picked the pattern yesterday!
Intarsia – in the KAL

Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting – but it wasn’t intentional
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Pillows
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Rug
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting – I may make this swatch 301 in the KAL to fill any gaps in the afghan assembly
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets

Shrug/bolero/poncho
Knitting with dog/cat hair – Sketch wool is the best!
Hair accessories
Knitting in public – pretty much EVERY time I go out, do I get extra points for spinning in public?

Not bad for a beginning knitter. I’m actually proud of the mass of bold. There really isn’t anything on this list I wouldn’t try, and more things that I’ve tried that aren’t even on here! Where’s the two-at-a-time socks? The size 0000 needles? Knitting with magnetic tape from old VHS? Knitting for swaps? Self-taught? The super stretchy cast off? Kitchener stitching up a seam and the funky cast on that goes with it? Taught someone more than a decade older than you to knit/a new technique? Inventing a new method for dyeing protein based fibers? Been named the “Yarn Doctor” at Michael’s Arts and Crafts to help folks at their yarn events? Been there, done them…and I want extra bold for ’em!

And yes, guy pal had to learn to knit. He only does knit stitches, and only enough to add a few stitches of extra love to each hat I knit.

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.