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 still not doing as well as I’d like, but I finally managed to get the pictures off my camera and onto the web. Here’s the main shot with my last batch of dyeing in the back. You can see my recent work is a good deal darker. Pain really keeps you from feeling the bright, summery colors.

The purples pictured here are both Grape Crush, one in worsted weight Peruvian wool and the other in sport weight 75% Merino/25% nylon for socks. The purples up front and the exciting brights in the background are all destined for my etsy shop. Here’s a close up of the new zombie yarn.

I think this will end up going to my spoilee in my zombies and apocalypse themed swap I’m doing with Ravelry’s Odd Ducks group this month (and next). This came out so much gorier than the last batch which is currently on the needles to make some socks as a gift.

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!

Mondye July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

You know you’ve been looking for it, your Mondye eye candy! Here’s the week’s work:

This week’s dye lot includes some new sodas, a custom order, some Wilton dyed, and roving, worsted weight and fingering sock yarns! The left side is worsted weight Peruvian wool and superwash roving both in Big Red soda pop. The earthy one next to it is a sock yarn I’m falling for myself. The top back left is Orange Crush soda dyed onto fingering sock and the top back right is Grape Crush on worsted. This Grape Crush came out a bit more saturated in color than the last one, which was made into this awesome bag. The middle right yarns, Grapette I’ll be sending to Oregon and Cherry Crush, are both worsted. I learned that Cherry Crush and Big Red dye to exactly the same color red. Both are much more red than the pink of Mountain Dew Code Red. Finally, in the front right we have a roving I’m calling “tumultuous sea”.

Here’s a close up of “Tumultuous Sea”:

Additionally, I’ve got a close up of the Big Red roving because the fibers are so delicious and close-ups so luscious:

My last big dyeing project this week was to start making a dye binder and color cards. I figure this will help me to get color combinations I actually want for my cake dyeing and also to track which sodas look good together, how dark they dye on different kinds of yarn and fiber, etc.

I hope you love all the colors. Let me know if you see something you would like. Most of the goodies pictured in the top dye lot shot will be heading to my etsy store as soon as I get them dried and packaged up.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this review on Ravelry. This was posted by a fellow LSG group member who purchased some of my Grape Crush soda pop dyed yarn in Worsted Peruvian wool. I think you’ll agree her project is stunning!

“I purchased some lovely worsted wool yarn dyed with Crush Grape soda from swamps42 at her etsy shop: Hairballz Creations.

Soda Pop Yarn

It arrived promptly and I had to cast-on promptly too 🙂

I made a Ballband Bag with it.
Ballband Bag 1

You can see the Soda Pop Yarn in the garter stitch at the base, but to be honest the photo doesn’t due the subtly of the shading justice. The color ended up being just want I wanted; not too pink and not too purple-y.
Soda Pop Yarn

It felted up very nicely after a couple laundry loads:
Ballband Bag 2

Very happy with the final results!”

She also added, “when knitted in garter stitch, it felts to approximately 75% of its original length (didn’t pay attention to width as I was more concerned with how long to make the strap). This info might be useful for some.” so those of  you who want to use this yarn for your felting projects have a better idea of how it felts up. Of course, I know some people felt their projects differently. I personally felt the heck out of my stuff so it’s impossible to see the different rows and I’ve seen plenty where it’s still possible to see the rows and columns of stitches in the knitting. It looks to me like the 75% length is a pretty complete felting job.

I hope you all love historyweaver’s bag as much as I do! You can add comments to the original review thread in LSG here. I’m personally feeling quite inspired to try that pattern and likely will once I get a few other projects off my plate.

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!