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.

Week 3 300 Stitch KAL

August 17, 2010

This week we’ll be only doing 3 swatches for a total of 6 points since last week we had 8 points. Here’s the plan:

Swatch 15 Knit and Purl Diagonals: cast on 20 stitches and work for 20 rows. Note: this with require working 2 charts and a half rather than just a complete number of charts.

Swatch 16 Lozenges stitch: cast on 20 and work for 20 rows. Here you will also do 2.5 repeats of the chart. It looks best if you do 2 stitches of the chart, the two full repeats and then 2 stitches of the chart to break your half into two one-quarter sections of the chart.

Swatch 17 Squares within squares: cast on 36 and work in pattern for 48 rows. Due to size, this should be your most time consuming swatch this week.

Get ready for next week as it’ll be a bigger challenge. We’ll be working stitches 18-20 and they’ll all be rather large swatches due to the large pattern repeats. I’m getting so excited. We’re almost half way through the first chapter. I’m really eager to get to some harder patterns, cables, and lace.

Hope all is going well with everyone! I’d love to see some pictures. I’ll have mine up soon. I’m working on my last swatch for week 1 at the moment. I had such a long week with appointments that I didn’t even get to do any dyeing! I’ll try to get back on track for a great Mondye next week to make up for it.

Here’s the plan for week 2:

This week we’ re going to tackle 8 points and a total of 7 swatches. We’ll be working stitches 8-14 from our book.

Stitch 8 small blocks stitch: cast on 30, work in pattern for 20 rows

Stitch 9 K1P1 rib: cast on 21 knit for 20 rows

Stitch 10 Twisted single rib: cast on 21 and knit for 20 rows

Stitch 11 Broken single rib: cast on 21 and knit for 20 rows

Stitch 12 K2P2 rib: cast on 30 and knit for 15 rows

Stitch 13 Broken double rib: cast on 30 and knit for 15 rows

Stitch 14 tucked rib: cast on 30 and work for 46 rows

Because we’re doing 8 points this week, we’ll only have 6 points next week. Therefore, you’ll still be right on track if you are only halfway through swatch 14 by next Tuesday.

Happy knitting everyone!

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.

Here’s the basic rules:

  • Have fun
  • Learn new techniques
  • Improve your knitting skill
  • Make new friends
  • Use stash yarns where possible, however, wool is preferable due to blocking requirements
  • Avoid variegated (except on things like garter/stockinette). Use lighter colored yarns to help show off the stitches. Black and variegated tend to hide your stitch work.
  • Share what you learn along the way, about knitting, about life, or anything
  • Share pictures of your stitches if possible, I’ll repost them here as well.
  • You don’t have to use the same book as I’m using, just a book of knitting stitches
  • Late joiners are just as welcome as original members. If you want to join 5 years from now, great! Feel free to still message me. I’d love to see what you’re doing.
  • You don’t HAVE to meet any deadlines. We play nice here. It’s just to help make sure people keep on their work and actually finish.

I’ve devised a basic points system so we’ll have 7 points per week, one per day. The difficulty rating of a swatch is a point, up to 3 points per swatch based on the difficulty listed in the book. Colorwork and beading doubles the difficulty points. Excessive size adds a point as well. This way, we don’t have 7 huge and complicated swatches in one week and can still have plenty of time for our other knitting.

Each Tuesday, pending life those life crises we’re all prone to, I’ll post the week’s swatches and points per swatch so you can try to keep your knitting on track with one point per day. If you run into any trouble and need to talk through a swatch with someone, by all means ask! We have a ravelry discussion here and we can use the comments section of each week’s blog post as well.

Week 1:

Stitches 001-007 in worsted weight

001 Garter Stitch: Cast on 20 stitches and work for 20 rows (acrylic ok)

002 Four-row welting: Cast on 20 stitches and work for 20 rows (prefer blockable fiber)***While working this welting, I opted to continute working in pattern until the end of row 22 so I would have the same 2 rows of stockinette at the beginning and end of the welting to make it look more balanced in the final swatch. I recommend working for 22 rows instead of 20.

003 Garter stitch welting: Cast on 20 stitches and work for 27 rows so the pattern begins and ends with some stockinette (prefer blockable fiber)

004 Stockinette stitch: Cast on 20 st and work in pattern for 20 rows (acrylic ok)

005: Reverse stockinette stitch: Cast on 20 stitches and work 20 rows (acrylic ok)

006: Seed Stitch: Cast on 15 sts and work for 30 rows (acrylic ok)

007: Moss Stitch: Cast on 15 sts and wrok for 30 rows (acrylic ok)

Ready to get playing? This first week is going to be one of the easier weeks as the stitches are all very basic with easy to memorize pattern repeats. You’ve likely done most of them before, or at least heard of them. Of course it’s ok if you haven’t either. I’m new to all kinds of welting and the moss stitch. The welting is less common of a stitch and interesting to learn. Now we can all do horizontal ribbing in our designs! I do recommend spending time making sure you can read and use the small charts provided in the book on these easier swatches so you’ll be an old hand at it by the time we get to the trickier swatches, like 195 Paisley. (Don’t worry too much about 195, it’ll have PLENTY of points assigned. 3 for difficulty, 1 for excessive size, and 2-3 more for excessive bobbles. It may just end up being a 7. We’ll keep it doable!

Good luck everyone! I can’t wait to see the pictures!!!

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.