Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fast Knitting

Gaidig raised an interesting point yesterday--bigger needles don't always mean faster knitting.  Actually, I don't often knit with anything bigger than size 8s because the big needles feel uncomfortable.  Of course, there are still faster options than this:
which is the project that got all the attention yesterday.  Does anyone think size 1 needles are the fastest knitting option?  I was actually planning on tackling some sweater WIPs because I have THREE sweaters really close to being finished--two of which I can even locate.  But, Monday I lifted some weights, walked in the pool for an hour, assembled the monster tree:
had a turkey-rematch, vacuumed the stairs, and did lots of physical therapy exercises.  As you might have guessed, Tuesday was a bit painful, but my back did pretty well--or well enough for me to think another hour of walking in the pool yesterday would be a good idea.  So, whether or not the socks are fast or slow knitting, they are the only current project that are considered "safe" for a knitter doped up on pain killers and Valium while she ices her back to reduce inflammation.  I think that's a whole new knitting category for me......

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great Decisions

So, no new "things" from my personal account this year, but I am allowing activities. 

Last spring a friend invited me to meet her Great Discussions group.  I had never heard of the Great Discussions program, but it's this wonderful program put on by the Foreign Policy Association.  They send out books and a DVD, and the group meets once a week for 8 weeks (I think) and you read a chapter in the book, watch the DVD, then discuss that topic.  I got to join them last year for the last one, which was on global energy policy.  For a topic I had honestly never thought about, it was fascinating.  I just got the email about this year's group, and while I will need to buy my own booklet, I'm counting that more as an "activity fee" than a "thing."  Extra points for it being a totally nerdy activity, too.  :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

18,000!

I am now just over 1000 yards away from tying my best yardage year ever, and 2000 yards away from that 20,000 mark that I've been chasing for years.  I see a lot of BIG needles in my future next month.........

Monday, November 26, 2012

Living Dangerously

Knowing that I am on a year-long buying ban and knowing that it could be very, very dangerous, I still couldn't help myself:  I had to look at the Cyber-Monday sales at Knit Picks to see if the yarn I had recently ordered to do ornaments next year was on sale.  Why, I don't know.  Torture?  Curiosity?  Tempting fate?  But for once the Knitting Gods were on my side.  NONE of the colors I had bought were on sale.  Ha! Ha!

What I would have done if they were on sale is anyone's guess, but thankfully it didn't come to that.  I am feeling supremely smug anyway.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Black Sheep Retreat

The Stashdown group on Ravelry is having a virtual "Black Sheep" retreat this week in honor of the holidays and going NOWHERE near a mall for the holiday weekend, and without officially signing up, I have pretty much been participating, thanks to a cold.  Yep, missed Thanksgiving for the second year in a row, but at least this year Andy got to join our friends for the festivities, so we're making progress.  And sleeping most of Thanksgiving Day really did help, as I now have only a slight cough and intermittent sore throat, and I think the nausea level has moved back to the general "I'm-taking-pain-pills" level, versus the "Get-out-of-my-way-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you" level, and never did get to the "please-just-let-me-die" levels of the new muscle relaxers a few weeks ago, so REALLY there is progress.  And,
a sock for next year's Christmas gift bag is in progress,
the cowl neck sweater is gaining the cowl neck, which is the last knitting on this sweater, making it close to becoming sweater number nine for the year, and towel number 11
is on Jeeves as I write this.

Normally, I would be decorating the house this weekend, but this year we've agreed that having the normal Christmas party is probably too much for me, so we are scaling back and relaxing a bit.  We'll still do the trees, but I have a friend coming to help next week, and I really am just going to do minimum decorations this year.  My back muscles are still pretty touchy, and having to pop my hip back into place aggravates them but resting too much will undo the strength building I need to keep my hip in place in the first place, so my main focus just has to be building hip muscle strength, and some days that means an hour walking in the pool followed by several hours of rest on the heating pad.  It's frustrating, but getting on top of this once and for all will make life sooooooooooo much better that I can let a lot of stuff go this year.  And spending most of the days of the holiday season at the gym cannot be a bad thing, really..........

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If This Blog Had Sound Effects, You Would Be Hearing Loud Cheers Right Now

Sweater number EIGHT is done:
which also counts as WIP number 6 for the year, AND it counts for "Blue Christmas" as well as "What Child is This?" in the Holiday Music Stash dash.  Dang, that feels productive--which is sort of amazing since 11 months to finish a toddler sweater is anything BUT productive.  I know I've been busy, but when it takes longer to produce the baby sweater than the actual baby, something is wrong. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

How I Spent The Monday Before Thanksgiving LAST Year

*  Wake up at 7:00 after a long Nyquil-induced night which you hoped would relieve the back pain from having thrown your back out the day before.

*  Make your way to the bathroom, only to realize you are about to pass out.

*  With as much grace and speed as one can muster with a sore back, get down to the floor before actually passing out.

*  Realize now that you're on the floor, you can't get back up

*  Have husband hand you 3 Advil tablets to see if you can numb the pain enough to get off the floor, which you now wish you had swept over the weekend.

*  After a while and repeated examinations by both cats, realize it's rather hopeless.  Consider spending the entire day on the floor.  Wish part of the bathroom was carpeted.

*  Admit defeat and allow husband to call for paramedics.

*  Give the neighbors plenty to talk about as both an ambulance AND a fire truck pull up outside your house.

*  Surrender any last trace of dignity you were pretending you might have had when you great 8 strange men while you're laying on the floor in your crossword puzzle pajamas.

*  When two young men have helped you to your knees, scare them by fainting from the pain.  It's best not to have warned them that you tend to get dizzy if you want to achieve the full effect.

*  Come to on the bathroom rug in time to hear the paramedics discussing how to carry you down the stairs.  Try not to think about how often the furniture got bumped when it was being brought up.

*  Scream loudly in pain each time they move you a bit to get you strapped onto a very cold metal frame--this will help them appreciate what growing old is like.

*  Pray none of the neighbors are around to see you being wheeled out of your home on a stretcher.

*  Enjoy a long ride in the ambulance as it strives to hit every single bump and pothole on the way to the emergency room and wonder why ambulances are constructed without shocks.

*  Realize that trying to downplay how much you are hurting is stupid as A) the paramedic has pain medications he is willing to share, B) he can see you flinching in pain, and C) you have already totally parted company with your dignity anyway

*  Scream repeatedly in pain as the doctor examines you, which will result in you finding out that the number one thing people show up in the emergency room for is indeed back pain, and that there is little they can do except give you prescriptions for drugs.

*  When the nurse tries to move you to a wheel chair to discharge you, warn her you're feeling dizzy.  When she doesn't really take you seriously, faint in the wheelchair.

*  Wake up back in the bed with an I.V. now in the opposite arm, and many new wires attached to you.

*  Enjoy a full battery of tests that go on for several hours, only to be told that the body's response to pain is often to slow down the heart beating, which is probably an okay response except when one already has a naturally slow heartbeat.

*  Take several hours before you can get into the wheelchair without fainting.  This time the nurses leave the I.V. in until they're sure they will be able to get rid of you, as you have run out of arms.

*  Make it home with very funky drugs and where you finally get food almost 24 hours after your last meal.

*  Enjoy a drug-induced sleep, interspersed with wake-up head bumps by a very worried kitty.

*  Find out that the drugs might limit your consciousness, but certainly help with the pain as well.  Wish you'd taken a few less spills on your horse as a child--especially the ones involving splatting into the pole arena fence.

*  Decide aging might beat the alternative, but that is still stinks all the same.......

No matter WHAT happens this week, I'm already having a better Thanksgiving than I did last year.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

On The First Try!!!!

Look!  A towel without holes!!!!!!!!!!!!
 At first I did think that my card might be corrupted (again),because the design was leaving the stupidest number of "jump threads" possible:
which are the threads you can see crisscrossing the design.  All those random threads were left by the machine "jumping" to another place to start doing the outline of the design.  It's been so long since I did this design that I didn't remember if it was like this to begin with, so I was worried until I pulled up the design in the software and discovered that, no, it really was just designed that badly.  Whew!  The cards are $200 IF one can find them, and my hip can't currently do a 4-hour round-trip drive to see the non-criminal Husqvarna dealer I finally found.

And I am happy to report that there were no nightmares last night!  Thank heavens.  I can't decide what is freaking my subconscious out--a spending ban or buying more stuff.  Seemingly, it's buying stuff because the bad parts of the dream always involve having bought stuff, not finding something I can't have.  Maybe it's my subconscious's way of saying, "We have WAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY  too much stuff already."  Or the pain meds...........

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This May Be A Long Year........

Today is the 15th day of the buying-ban, which I thought I was handling pretty well--and awake, I seem to be.  Last night, though, I had another nightmare.  This time I was leaving Joann Fabrics having spent over $1,000.  Besides not having that much money in my personal account in the first place, I was seriously stressed about having blown it so badly--not to mention having to find space for everything.  The weird thing is, I would have thought I'd be stressed about the lack of buying things--not stressing over blowing it by buying things.  I guess I'm really determined to do this--even on the subconscious level. 

I do wish, however, that I hadn't woken up before seeing what in the blazes I bought at Joann Fabrics for $1000!  I mean, really--how much fabric do you think that would be?  And if I'm going to keep having these sorts of nightmares, could I at least make it about cashmere or silk?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Hint of Desperation In The Air..........

With less than 2 months left to go in the year, I have 5 sweaters and 7 WIPs left before completing those "12s."  So...
a toddler sweater I started last December is the new favorite project.  I have one sleeve and the back done up to the raglan shaping.  The pattern doesn't say to do so, but I'm putting everything on holders as soon as I do the initial decrease for arms and will knit the whole thing in the round for the rest of the sweater.  Why would anyone sew raglan sweaters together?  Besides the fact that I am just lazy, the shaping never looks as neat when I sew it as when I just knit the whole thing together.

Since they're fast and the least-complex part of the sweater, I'm about to cast on the second sleeve, so then I'll be so close to being finished that I (hopefully) won't even hesitate to cast on for the front.   Childish?  Yes.  Effective?  Sometimes.  Besides, if I get this thing done, I can also count it for "Blue Christmas" AND "What Child is This?" for the holiday basket stashdash.  Aha!!!  A method to the madness..........at least sometimes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Have Been Turned Loose!

Yesterday was my last physical therapy appointment, and tonight I'm sore and laying on the heating pad.  Yeah--anyone who didn't see that one coming?  In my defense, we had discussed a "plan of action" for my ongoing progress, and exercise REALLY is the key right now.  As my hip grows stronger, I'll have fewer and fewer problems.  The therapist, of course, was a big believer in "slow" progress, but try as I might, I just don't seem to grasp the concept.  I thought I WAS going slowly today.

This may be a VERY long month...........

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ha! Ha! Can't Touch Me! At Least Not THIS Year.........

Last year I landed in the hospital the Monday before Thanksgiving, which left me sulky, immobile and feeling sorry for myself just in time to get ambushed by Cyber-Monday sales.  No one on drugs of any sort should be confronted with tremendous deals on fabulous yarn in such a weakened state, and the results weren't pretty......though the yarn is. 

NOT THIS YEAR!  Ha!  I'm ready!  Cyber-Monday, do your worst!  I am cheerfully deleting every email offering to sell me anything as I will not be spending money until November 1, 2013.  Ha!

Of course, that probably means that I should put my credit card in the Witness Protection Program before next year's Cyber-Monday when I will be coming off a year-long personal spending ban and may be in a weakened state, but I will worry about that next year. 

Bring it on, baby!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Not As Interesting As I Thought

One of the sweaters I have been working on this year is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Epaulet Sweater
 
because I knew it had some unusual shaping,which intrigued me.  Well, the shaping part was intriguing.    Now it's been derailed because--and it pains me to say this because EZ is my knitting idol--this is a really boring sweater.  GASP!  I know--I can't believe I have said this, but I am going to frog an Elizabeth Zimmermann project!!!!

I thought it best to do it while I still have access to Valium.......I may need it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

And On A Happier Note...

There has been knitting!!!!!!

The green sweater is progressing,
and I have just finished the THIRD ball of fingering-weight yarn for it.   I have not yet looked up how many balls of yarn I'll use (I did when I ordered it--thank heavens), because I think at this stage it would just depress me.  But I love this sweater!  The pattern is interesting but not difficult (yet), and I'm still just immensely proud of myself for finally starting this sweater.  I just hope the feeling lasts for the next year, so I can get it finally finished. 

For knitting-while-reading, I have another sock:
 the beaded scarf got several more rows:
 and the new sweater has a front AND back,
and I'm doing the sleeve shaping already.  It's another cowl neck sweater because 1. I love that sweater and wear it a lot, 2. It's fast and I'd like some instant gratification, and 3. the pattern I intended to make with this ribbon stuff was designed for ribbon stuff 2 sizes smaller than this, which I had failed to notice when adding it to my queue.  (And all of this was even BEFORE the pain pills, so I can't even blame them)  I'm going to do the cowl neck slightly different this time--probably just straight rows rather than the short rows to make the front bigger.  I am sure it's just me, but every time I wear the other one, the front reminds me slightly of a bib--possibly because I keep spilling food on it, but a design change sounds good anyway. 

And my new yarn for the ornaments arrived!  I opened up the box, basked in its existence, then closed it back up for January.  I think if I'm going to make it an entire year without buying anything new, it might help to stretch out the last new thing I got for as long as possible.  If I get really desperate, I might have Andy wrap it up in smaller boxes and occasionally leave them on the doorstep.  Or maybe inside--our neighbors did take some squash I set outside to cure in the sun, so I may not want to trust them with yarn...........

Emerging.......

I think I speak for most people--
 and cats--

when I say THANK HEAVENS THE ELECTION IS OVER!!!!!!  In their election night speeches, both Romney and President Obama called for a joining together and moving forward, but I am not too optimistic, largely because of this:

Snopes articles about President Bush
Snopes articles about Romney
Snopes articles about President Obama

Not counting anything listed as "half true" or anything except false, there were

9 untrue rumors circulating about Romney
17 untrue rumors about George W. Bush, even though he spent 8 years in office
85 untrue rumors about President Obama

Not to imply that everyone who voted for Romney believed this junk or that everyone has to be a fan of Obama, but this taints us all--whatever we personally believe.  That level of hate that it takes to generate so many false stories and to circulate and believe them is just not going to go away or compromise.  Whether or not one likes a candidate, to automatically believe anything no matter how "out there" is really just a matter of determined hate.  I remember when the rumor first surfaced that President George W. Bush knew about the 9-11 attacks ahead of time but let it happen anyway, and while I didn't care for him as president, I still didn't believe it and sent out the Snopes links to people who did.  There can be dislike without hate, but I think when one opens their heart to hate, I don't know that one can ever stop, and I don't know that our nation will ever heal--and it makes me even sadder because so much of this is because President Obama tried to help the uninsured in America, which is a cause I truly believe in and a cause I firmly believe humanity requires.  I am sure that I will anger someone by--for once--airing a political view on this blog, but I firmly believe that helping others is something we should fight for, not against, and I will never believe otherwise. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ah...........

Just as I was starting to enjoy NOT being flooded with election emails, the Black Friday ones begin.  Why yes, after the one day a year truly dedicated to stopping and appreciating everything in our lives, getting up at 4:00 AM to trample others to buy myself cheap electronics made by people in foreign countries who cannot possibly be earning a liveable wage and which I don't need REALLY is how I would like to kick-off the season of giving and good will toward all.  On what other day of the year can we completely trash the meaning of TWO holidays simultaneously?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Election Day, What The Rest Of The US Could Learn From The Crafting World

*  When a knitter believes knitting is the best craft EVER, he or she doesn't then hate all other crafters for their personal preferences.  He or she might even ask the other crafter for a few lessons.

*  Selfishness is not a virtue.  There are very few crafters (if any) who haven't made something for someone else as a gift, or answer questions from other crafters.

*  "Compassion is not weakness and kindness is not socialism."  Making items for charity is highly popular in the crafting world and is seen for EXACTLY what it is:  kindness

*  Most things can be fixed, but only through effort--not yelling.

If something isn't working, try a different approach--don't just blame other crafters

*  A bumper sticker or Tweet is not sufficient length to convey even the simplest crafting solution or idea

*  Hanging onto anger won't fix anything, and can really mess up your gauge.

*  Just because someone doesn't like the same pattern you do, it doesn't make them "wrong" or "stupid."

*  One CAN behave nicely on the internet, or one can be a troll.  It's a personal choice and only one of those choices will earn you some great online friends.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Day, Another @$#%) Towel

Remember when I could just pump out embroidered towels like they were nothing?  Well, today was not one of those days. 

Needing four more towels and enjoying a day that didn't involve the heating pad, I dug out several towels from my stash, and almost thought my spending ban was in trouble.  The "reader" that copies designs onto cards that can then be inserted into my embroidery machine wasn't reading the card.  As everything else I have from Husqvarna has had issues, I was worried that the reader had now reached the end of it's life cycle (because while accessories are wildly expensive, Husqvarna generally carries pathetic 90-day warranties on them).  Again and again I tried, rebooting my computer twice.  I finally pulled the card out, carefully wiped it off, blew gently into the reader, and turned it upside down in case I missed any lint, and that finally got it to work.  Notice that at no time did it occur to me to contact Husqvarna to ask for help--we all know how that has worked for me in the past.  The reassuring thing is that my little box has a "Made in Sweden" sticker on it, so that makes me a little less nervous.  Most of what I own predates their move of production to China, so I made the "non-crap" cutoff at least.  But for about two hours I wondered if I was going to have to find a loophole to stalk Ebay to find a replacement for the reader, as my machine can't embroider without it.

Once I finally got the designs transferred, I first managed to not click the hoop into place correctly after some readjustments, which led to this:
Deciding that an embroidered towel where only one side looked good would still be okay for a towel that we kept, I hooped the other side of the towel and started again.  Now this would have been a great time to remember that I had stopped using this clear plastic-like water-soluble stabilizer on the top of towels because it doesn't work very well......BUT NO!
 The little spot that looks like the swirl is furry is where I had a hiccup where the plastic stabilizer ripped and the foot went under instead of over, and I had to start over.  But hey, if we can have an error on one side, we can have a bit of fur on the other, right?

Well, why not?  Because next (and this finally wasn't actually my fault), it created TWO big snarls when I tried to embroider the "s," finally causing so much damage to the towel that we now have a towel that reads
 "If mu(hole)ic be the food of love, play on."  But at least we have a towel that I won't mind if it's actually USED as a towel, so there is that.  And, crappy, hole-enriched and furry towel that it may be, it counts for one of my 12 embroidered towels for the year, so now I only need 3 more.  Heaven help me!

After such a fiasco, I decided I needed a little "treat" (especially since martinis are currently off-limits because of the meds), so I decided to try one of the new ornament designs I bought for next year:
 I am in love!!!!!!  Pure white might have been a better choice than ivory, but I wanted to make sure the pattern shown through on this one.  I've looked at this design pack for about 3 years, and decided to splurge a bit to get ready for next year (especially if it wasn't yarn), and bought some icicles and ornament covers.  I was going to save them all as a treat for myself to start the new year, but I want to attempt another towel tomorrow and frankly, needed some bribery.

 While the machine was pumping out the nice little ornament, the beaded lace scarf got some attention:
Not that I need another scarf, but as I don't yet own a beaded scarf, this one is for me.  No wonder it's being neglected..............

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And We're Off!!!!!

I'm not sure if it's a good or bad sign, but I woke up this morning seriously confused as I had dreamed that I had placed a MASSIVE yarn order, and I was worried about where to put it all.  As much as I love yarn, it was a relief to wake up and realize I wasn't about to be bombarded by yarn.  (I know--I can't believe I'm saying that either)  Obviously, the spending ban has permeated my subconscious, though I'm hoping the nightmares end soon.  Being attacked by large amounts of fabric would just seem too realistic given some of the issues in the sewing room.........

I fell a bit short of the 4,000 yards needed for the Mad Halloween Dash, but I suppose 3,599 yards is a decent showing.  I think I might have made it if it hadn't been for the problems with the pain medications this week, no use crying over spilt wool.  I still ended October with:

Skeins of yarn used:  11
Yards of yarn used:  1805
Yards of fabric used: 0

The Holiday Music Basket Dash kicks off today as well,  and I need to use up 2717 yards of yarn before year end to beat my best-yardage-ever number, and 3,533.15 yards to reach 20,000 yards.  And I need 5 sweaters.  I'm thinking this last one could run into a problem, and I think if I had to pick, I'd put yardage over sweaters as I'm SO close to a new record.  Or with two whole months left, could I do both................?