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.

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!

Mondye July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

Right now I need to focus more on listing the past two weeks worth of dyeing and less on new dyeing. Plus, I ran out of yarn! Rest assured, more yarn has been dyed and you can get your Mondye fix.

This week I did only 3 hanks of yarn. One is another Orange Crush fingering sock weight yarn. I loved the sample I knit up so much from the first Orange Crush sock yarn, I had to make more right then that night. I also dyed one worsted and one sock yarn each in the Jolly Rancher soda. Each hank was split into 3 smaller, roughly equal hanks and dyed in 3 separate colors to create accent/striping kits for the store. I’m so in love with the Jolly Rancher kits. I’ve still got to package, photograph and list them. I don’t want to though. I just love being able to meander into guy pal’s kitchen and see the colors staring back at me from the drying rack. See what I mean?

This batch of striping sock Jolly Rancher does have one little problem, it tends to go all Packman on you when you aren’t looking!

I’ll be making a sock kit for myself next week and start that just as soon as I’m done with the gift “Punk Entrails” socks I’m working so hard on at the moment. The eyelet rib lace is giving me a bit of trouble. It doesn’t agree well with two-at-a-time on a magic loop. Of course I still was losing my YOs on the DPNs. This will be the last time I EVER do this pattern!

Today I managed to score a very limited supply of a new kind of soda and am working on dyeing up some of the most stunning yarns. Since the soda came in only 1L bottles and I only have a couple hanks of yarn on hand to dye, I’m making stripe/accent sets! Each set is still the same 100g of yarn, but split into three 33ish gram hanks. I’m making one in Peruvian Highland worsted weight and one in fingering sock weight (75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon). Each set will include 3 separate bottles of soda with just enough of each color to add stripes to your next project or even make up some swatches! I’m probably going to make a few sodas in these smaller sets for myself to use in the Epic 300 Stitch KAL.

I’m so happy with these colors. I also tasted a little shot glass of each soda, and they’re so good! I’m really hoping I’ll be able to get more of these flavors. I found them at a local discount store, but they cost more than normal soda…go figure.

Curious enough yet? I found Jolly Rancher brand soda! I got every flavor they had, blue raspberry, cherry, and my personal favorite Jolly Rancher flavor, Green Apple! Here’s a picture I found online of what the soda’s look like. I haven’t been able to find any of the other flavors, yet.

The worsted yarns are in their bathing process now and look excellent! I love the green and the blue came out so much better than Mountain Dew Voltage, which had to be over-dyed. This set might be my favorite dye job ever. It’s a bit more time consuming to wind up the separate but equally weighted hanks, but I love the colors and the idea of getting 3 littler hanks to play with. What do you all think? I’m hoping to have this batch, a whole 2 sets up in the store by early next week and will make more if I can keep getting the soda.

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!