Sunday, March 30, 2014

Keeping Myself Out of Trouble

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a wee bit of self-pity going on in the last couple weeks and while I have had a double-dose of kitty therapy,
it's hard not to get depressed when I have set-backs with my hip/back.  This has gone on for SOOOOOOOOOOOO long and so thoroughly dominated my life that any hint that it might not be ending as quickly as I hope is hard to cope with.  When I can get out and walk (which can include moderate hills now in my 3.5 miles), it keeps me going.  But when my days shrink back to just our bedroom, it gets harder to find ways to distract myself.  I'm trying to avoid "retail therapy," but realizing I still have a few ups and downs ahead of me, I thought sometimes it might actually work.  In January I had noticed that Herrschner's had an Ornament of the Month Club, which is actually 4 ornaments in a month, and thought it would be fun to try and had planned to join it next January.  Well, next January I hope to be so flippin' active that I don't have time for any such thing, so I decided to subscribe now as a pick-me-up.  And let me tell you,
they are quick.  My first shipment arrived this week, and I've already started the first one:
which is also the easiest one.  This one is a Styrofoam form, but the eggs are satin-covered since much of the eggs will be visible.  I've actually finished all the pink sequins since this picture and started on the green with beads.  I have to say, it's quite fun--it's just difficult enough to not be boring but not so difficult that I get frustrated OR can't do it while on pain meds.  Pretty good entertainment for $20 a month, I have to say.  Since I get 4 a month, I'm hoping to use them to bribe myself if I'm starting to get frustrated and dangerous.  When I get frustrated and angry, I push my back WAY too much, which does me no good whatsoever.  If I can stop myself from doing that while I'm getting more and more active, I can hopefully avoid any really big setbacks--like the back sprain last December.  The weird thing is, I can actually run now--I haven't been able to do that in 2.5 years without throwing my hip out.  I don't go running because it is still a spectacularly bad idea at this stage, but when I forget or when I have to run to get out of the way of a driver who believes pedestrians are merely targets (which is sort of an Idaho thing), I can do it without my hip going out.  That is HUGE.  I can twist my hip out, but it can't just pop out on it's own--that's a big thing.  I--of course--think it should be getting better faster than it is and have to stop and remind myself that I was almost immobile much of last year.  I was out FOUR nights last week.  FOUR--out of SEVEN.  I can't even remember when I could do last do that.  If I can just stay patient.........................

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Has It Already Been a WEEK?

Oh my!  It's already OVER week since my last update!  Oops. 

The lace and I needed some time apart, so,
there is a new chemo cap!  I haven't made any caps in a while, but several have gone out to friends, so it seemed like a good project to work on while I am recovering from the I-don't-exactly-know-what-I-did set-back two weeks ago.  Nothing puts the old back issues in perspective like the thought of people dealing with cancer.  I managed to do the decreases for the crown a different way than the pattern said to do,
but I sort of like the swirling effect that gave it, so we'll say it was on purpose.  And the fact that I have one more finished project before March ends doesn't hurt either........

It's been an up and down but busy week.  Tuesday night we went to the Idaho Songwriter's forum, which is a monthly get-together where people can perform songs they have written.  No less than THREE of our friends had written songs, so we went there to cheer them on.  It was a terrific evening, but it was also 3 1/2 hours, and if I ever really could sit for that long, those days are LONG gone.  I got up, walked around, found a quiet corner where I could stretch out my hip, but I was still flat out in bed the next day for that little adventure, and could only make a welcome home party for a good friend on Thursday night by taking full pain meds and an entire half a Valium pill--which would normally have knocked me out cold.  Yesterday I was pretty sick from the drugs, but still managed to go over to our friends' house to play some music and have dinner.  I intended to rest today, but Andy and I ended up going out to lunch and hunting thrift stores for a few hours.  Then my back was really, really, REALLY done and I've almost been resting ever since.  Almost.  I swear I really am going to take it easy tomorrow. 

When I have actually managed to rest, I have made progress on the March Madness sweater:
though I think it is looking a little unlikely that I am going to finish it before the first.  I'm casting off for the sleeves and decreasing for the neck, but the edging extends a fair bit past the shoulder so it can be sewn around the back edge of the neck as a collar, so I'm not sure how close I'd say the fronts are to being done, then I have to pick up the stitches on the cuffs and finish both sleeves, and that would be a LOT of knitting, and even I believe I can't knit 2 sleeves in 2 days.  3 maybe............

Friday, March 21, 2014

A "Crafting" Friday

I'd love to be able to show you something I finished today, but at least there was crafting. 

My hip/back still hurts, but I'm recovering from last week's setback pretty quickly.  I was able to walk 3 miles yesterday, and about a mile today.  I can't really sit yet, so
I took the opportunity to continue cutting out the latest jacket.  This pique cotton has been in my stash for a while.  I don't have exact records of dates, but I purchased just under 6 yards of this stuff for $8.81 at some point, and made this in 2009:

which is just perfect for gardening--even if I look a bit like a frog in it.  It softens up with washing, so it will make a nice casual jacket.  Not bad for about $9. 

Luckily, my "helper" didn't discover my activity until everything was cut out,
and I was just trying to get pieces marked.  Of course,
his instinct for covering both the first pattern piece AND the instructions is as unerring as always.   I did manage to get a small piece sewn,
and Theo's intervention does give me time to consider my top-stitching strategy.  This thread is just a couple shades lighter.  I could go darker, or I could go all the way to white--both of which would be more noticeable than the green, which would look nice if I can get it smooth, but would also increase the pressure to actually GET my stitching smooth.  Exactly matching would make the jacket a bit too plain, so I'll think about it. 

My excursion to Joann's to find more of the music flannel for Andy's pajamas turned out exactly as expected--a failure.  So,
I bought solid black flannel and will go with the blended look.  I did manage to buy nothing else, which was exciting, but I'm still annoyed that the pattern was wrong.

The March Madness Sweater hasn't received any attention yet today, but
there has been some knitting on the child's sweater.  I'll admit--I'm mostly into this because I'm about to finish up another ball of yarn, but it is also a MUCH less complicated pattern than my MM sweater, and sometimes even the best of us needs a break from lace.  Hopefully it's a short break, as I could still finish the MM sweater in the next 10 days, which would be quite exciting.  Ideally, I need to finish a few things in the next 10 days.  To hit my goal of 100 projects and 100 yards of fabric, both should be at 25 by the end of the month.................and neither are very close.  Must. Craft. Faster!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

And We've Lost a Few Days

Somehow, between trying to go at the therapy exercises a bit easier so I wouldn't be so sore and cleaning out old files in my "office,"
I managed to throw my hip out of place over the weekend, and the getting-it-back-IN part was almost worse and now all the little nerves are on edge and cruising for the next fight (I picture them as the Jets in West Side Story), so it was a bit of a long weekend.  Everything is back in place and I've stepped up the exercises, but sitting for even a brief time is out for a while.

It has given me some knitting time, and this
is BY FAR the most re-knitted bit I have ever, ever done.  I think I have knit enough on this cuff to make an entire scarf.  I got the decreases wrong, got the diamonds too wide, missed bits--the only thing I didn't do was drop a stitch.  The second one had no problems, which is probably best as I have frankly run out of problems to HAVE.

My original thought was to knit the sleeves THEN the fronts because sleeves always seem to take the most time.  They don't, of course, but I thought with the sleeves done, everything else would be smooth sailing.  After all the trouble with the cuffs, however, I thought it best to move on to the fronts while I had finally gotten the gist of the edge pattern,
and it would be best to strike while the iron is hot.  It turns out, I needn't have bothered as I still managed to get the decreases going on the wrong side of what will be the right front and had to rip back several rows to fix it.  I don't know if I even get to chalk all this nonsense up to the pain meds, as I have been able to control things with just Over-the-counter-strength Aleve and occasional 1/4-pills of Valium, but I am going to try to blame them anyway.  It sounds so much better than "just being stupid."

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Madness - Day 10!

And the back of the sweater is almost done.  Exciting, but considering that the month is 1/3 over and this is NOT 1/3 of the sweater, I may need to pick it up a bit. 

The problem, of course, is monogamy.  Over the weekend there was some attempted sewing,
and nothing brings the felines running like laying out a pattern.  Calisto waited patiently for her turn,
but she never got her chance.  Theo is amazingly determined about these things:
Part of the time was spent sorting patterns and clearing off the things that had been moved INTO the sewing room to clear out room for the desk, but I still might have gotten more than two pattern pieces cut out if it weren't for Theo.  Instead,
I made a new lace Santa ornament and started a new rope bowl,
because no matter how hard they try, the cats can't actually be everywhere at once--even if their fur CAN.

Strangely, the biggest challenge to the March Madness Sweater is
the counting of WIP rows.  I so wish I had thought of this sooner.  The problem with WIPs is that the excitement of a new project is gone, but the excitement of finishing a project doesn't kick in until the project is actually sort of close to being finished--which most of my WIPs aren't.  But, now that I can write down in my little spreadsheet that I did 10 rows or 5 rows or whatever and see the tally grow I'm all of a sudden excited about them again.  Which is great except when trying to work on something new.  I can't decide which part annoys me the most--that I am now really excited about WIPs after breaking my streak or that I can't figure out any way to take this new motivation technique and apply it to cleaning the house...............

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday Recap

*  Theo and I have been cleaning up the back room
though one of us is more into supervising.  The back bedroom was where I had the movers place the boxes that weren't room specific.......and some of them are still there.  So,
we're sorting out things that can be donated to charity--including two afghans I made out of Red Heart Acrylic.  Not that there's anything wrong with Red Heart, but it isn't the softest stuff and is cheap enough that these two afghans replaced two red ones I had in college that I gave away when my color choices changed.  We haven't used them in over 7 years, so it wasn't a difficult decision.

*  The reason for this new found cleaning (because "it just really needs it" doesn't often work with me) is this:
I have always wanted a roll top desk, but they are generally really expensive and the really fun ones aren't made for computers.  But when we moved here, I gave my desk to Andy for the office, and I haven't had a desk since then.  I can't tell you how much I have been lusting after drawers.  We had run across a decent desk at a thrift shop for $50--which had unfortunately just been sold--so at first I was just stalking thrift stores for desks.  But then we decided to try Craig's List, and since used furniture can be a really good deal, I decided that if I could find one that wasn't too expensive, it was time to get the roll-top desk.  And we finally found one last week, AND managed to get it home.  The woman selling it was really nice and very close to my age, and she was recently recovered from neck surgery, so trying to maneuver the desk without sending anyone back to physical therapy was a bit of a challenge, but luckily we made it, and there was only one point when I started to do something where I had to say no, it was going to be a bad move for my back--AND it was before I actually did it, which is a new level of maturity for me.  It was a bit more challenging for just Andy and I to get it out of the back of his truck when we got home, but we did manage.  Surprisingly, I wasn't sore at all the next day (I think the white chocolate martini afterwards might have helped), but Andy has wisely lined up a friend to help move the desk into the house and up the stairs.  I, of course, would have tried it and probably ended up back in the ER, so Andy is in charge of decisions about lugging furniture around the house. 

*  I have been so careful about cutting out Andy's new pajamas, double- and triple-checking that I was following directions and getting all the notes right side up, and
the pattern yardage estimates are wrong.  ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!  To add insult to injury, I have made this pattern before:
TWICE, in fact.  But both times were with 60"-wide fabric.  Flannel is 45" wide before washing, and even without having made a single error, I do not have enough fabric to make the pants without piecing them together.  I haven't ventured to Joanns for the buttons yet, and will be in that general vicinity this afternoon, so I may stop in there on the 1000 to 1 chance that they still have some of this fabric.  Otherwise, I might pick up some black flannel.  Maybe go with the harlequin effect of the front of the right leg and back of the left be in solid and the other pieces be in pattern?  And I had even double-checked the yardage requirements before starting AND cut the sleeves out first to make sure.  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

*  Feeling angry and rebellious regarding everything sewing, I decided to prewash home decorating fabrics,
though I did have the sense to spare them the dryer treatment.  This wasn't in any of the literature regarding the house when we bought it, but if you ever have a railing that looks down into the entryway, it makes a killer place to hang long pieces of fabric to dry.  A big selling point, I should think, or maybe that's just me.

*  Because I am also extremely impatient when I'm angry,  
I started cutting out another jacket in some leftover pique cotton.  I had, at least, always intended to make this jacket out of the leftover fabric, though it's a lot of sewing for very little yardage and maybe not the best choice for serious stash-busting.  But never argue with an angry woman--especially when it's yourself. 

* The Rows on WIPs project is really motivating.  The back of the toddler coat is seeing the most attention right now,
as these needles hurt my hands if I use them too long, but 5 rows here and there works just fine.  I once knit a baby sweater almost entirely at stoplights.  It took about a year, but a few rows here and there really add up.

* Getting the most action, of course, is the March Madness Sweater,
which was quite a bit longer than this first thing this morning, but my join was coming apart and I had to rip back and redo it.  This part I do remember about this yarn--of course, only after ripping back and fixing it.  I almost wish I was back in my young and naive knitting days when joining a new ball of yarn simply meant tying a knot on the inside of the sweater and going merrily on with knots all over and not a single end woven in.  Ah......the good old days....:)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Madness Begins

Which theoretically means that I regain my crafting sanity on the first of April, right?  I will make a note to remember how that feels.  As a woman with over 50,000 yards of lace yarn alone, it's not a sensation I'm overly familiar with.....

So, yesterday I hemmed and hawed and looked at the patterns and the yarns, and this morning
went a completely different route.  This has at least been in my queue for at least a year, and is DEEP stash--another colorway of the alpaca I've hoarded stashed in so many colorways.  I bought this in 2006 to make a sweater for my husband while we were on our honeymoon, and still have 17 skeins of it left. 
It doesn't take up quite as much space in the closet as the Lion Brand yarn, but it takes up a lot of mental stash. 

When it came down to it, almost everything else I was looking at would require alterations of some sort, or longer needles, and after 2.5 years of a LOT of knitting, my hands get tired faster when working with bigger needles.  After two swatches to verify, I can use the size 7s the pattern calls for (I know, weird--right?), and in nice warm rosewood in shorter needles.  And much of it is in nice, boring stockinette stitch, so it will be a nice break from my chart-intensive WIP pile.

Speaking of which,
the February baby sweater is no longer with us.  I think I used up most of the remaining yarn for it in the BSJ earlier this year, and when four years have gone by and you still can't convince yourself to even work on a little baby sweater, it's time.  So 1 new project, one frogged project.  AND, I am trying a new way to channel my Type-A tendencies toward my knitting WIPS:  I am keeping track of how many rows I knit on any WIP for the remainder of the year.  I wish I had thought to do this in January, but as one WIP was an ornament, that would have skewed it with some very short rows.  Most of my existing WIPs are wonderful, but not even close to being done.  I enjoy working on them, but I'm not going to get the satisfaction of having a finished project for most of them anytime soon.  So, frogging the baby sweater left me with 20 WIPs.  There will be some smaller projects during the year because I'll need some gifts and instant gratification, but every time I work on one of those 20 WIPs, I'm going to write down the rows/rounds worked.  My goal is for at least 1000, but since starting this on the 27th, I have been so obsessed about "just one more row" that I'm already at 35 rows.  I got the idea from the Fall Stash Dash, because I still felt like I was making progress by doing 20 rows on a project even though there was no visible progress, and it should either get a few of them finished or many of them moved along before the year is out.  Just 5 rows a day would add up to 1825 in a full year, and I am trying to ignore the fact that the Starmore sweater on size 2 needles could probably eat up that entire amount.  In rows, even that thing is probably manageable...........