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 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.

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.

I absolutely fell in love with the mini stripe/accent packs of yarn I worked on dyeing last night. So much so that today I went out to get more wool and soda so I’ll be able to make a few more of my stunning stripe kits. They will still be a very limited run. This is good because I’ll be keeping one at a minimum. I can’t tell you how much I love these colors! I want to make black socks with these soda stripes. I think I’ll even try and make a special stripe kit tag for the packaging honoring my childhood cat, appropriately named Stripes.

I also picked up a ton of Cascade 220 with my $40 shopping spree I’d earned by getting enough punches at my local yarn shop. I plan on  using it to complete a project from my first big and original knitting pattern! This will be one awesome looking pattern sample. I can’t wait to get started knitting it up! Plus, all the leftovers of these stunning wool colors will get to be added to the 300 stitch afghan 🙂 I’ve got to get a few more projects off my plate first before tackling my new pattern.

Today and for much of last night, I’m trying to finish the Knitted Toys group’s July Mystery KAL. It’s shaping up to be such a cute pattern even made of cheap leftover acrylic! Unfortunately, it has way too much seaming. I hate seaming. I’ve already made a few alterations to the little sheep pattern to get around some of it. I’d so much rather work in the round. Pictures will be coming soon, just two arms, a leg, and a mini scarf left to knit. I’ve got to hustle because to be eligible for prizes. The deadline is the end of the month. Fingers crossed for a quick finish to the little guy!

On a final note, I’m about to load up on fresh wool to dye. Any requests? I’m looking at adding some 100% superfine alpaca, some 50/50 silk/Merino blend, and some alpaca wool blends to the shop in lace, sport, and worsted. Is there anything else you all would like to see? More sock yarns? I’m getting bored with just wool. Granted I LOVE working with it as evidenced by the major stashing today at Table Rock Llamas, but sometimes you just need some alpaca under your fingers. I’m also considering some cotton at my mother’s request. Soda dye won’t take to the cotton, but I will be able to get close to some of my other colors, like the tumultuous sea that she loves so much.

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.

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!

Doll Found in Glove

January 3, 2010

I took my dogs out for a nice walk through the neighborhood and when we got back into the complex, I saw something sticking out of the melting ice mess near a frequented parking space. The last snow we had was more than a week ago. For something to be buried in the ice, it had to have been missing for quite a while. I kicked at it with my shoe a couple times to loosen it and eventually pulled a grey glove covered in gravely slush and still frozen into a brick-like shape from the sludge. I carried the dripping mass home to throw out, but on the way I swear the glove was trying to tell me that it was still good and was begging for a second life.

I deposited the dripping mass into the bathroom sink and started scrubbing with some antibacterial dish soap to see just what kind of condition this glove was in. The suds were black the glove was so dirty. The warm water quickly defrosted it though and I tossed the clean smelling damp thing into the dryer with a pair of blue jeans. It came out stunning. Clearly, this wasn’t a glove ment for the garbage.

Random lost glove

I knew immediately that it would be a doll. I’m not sure if it was the brand name “The North Face” or if it was the finger pads that determined the glove’s fate as a doll. I took it into my crafting lair and set to work. First I removed the palm grip and the wrist elastic with a seam ripper being careful not to damage the grey fleece fabric. I cut the index and middle finger up into the glove about two inches and then straight across to make what would become the legs and body of the glove. Next I cut off the ring finger and pinky finger cutting down the ring finger to make it the same length as the pinky. I pinned the best pieces of palm fabric togther centering the logo as best I could and free-handed a circle with  my scissors to make the doll’s head. The whole thing was stitched together and now I have a sweet little n-face doll.

 

North Face glove doll