Friday, September 23, 2011

Cool Pool

Hi all, posting again! I couldn't deny the requests for pool photos and so here she is. Please imagine me chillaxin' in the lounge chair, wearing something breezy.

Perhaps you're feeling a little bit jealous? You can almost smell the wisteria and subtle scents from the other beautiful plantings? You can hear the laughter and the splashing? You can taste the fun? Worry no more, jealousy does not need to inhabit your world. It is COLD baby, no one but the stupid chipmunks are getting in the pool.

And they get in quite regularly. At first I was thinking we should leave lights on at night so that they wouldn't stumble in during the dark hours. Turns out they go in during the day, just too busy gathering food to notice the drop-off to the pool of doom. We'll be closing the pool next weekend, to reopen around Memorial Day. And then perhaps you can let in a smidge of jealousy. Alternatively, you can come visit and enjoy it yourself.

What, you came here for knitting content? (right, I'm sure you're all super interested in my knitting).  In the knitting world there is lore of the boyfriend curse. Knit him a sweater and he will quickly find the door, a hat and he'll defenestrate (jump out the window). I've felt some guilt over the years for not knitting up a little something for Ken, I should at least sometimes pretend this is not an entirely selfish hobby. But there is the curse, and the fact that Ken doesn't wear sweaters or hats or scarves. Still, after me hounding him some he said he could maybe see using some fingerless mitts and hopefully showed me a picture of what he thought he might like. I got my hands on some nice sock yarn and went to work. Verdict?

There was no defenestration. However, you might note that is not a man's hand in the glove. "Too itchy" claims Ken. Phew, divorce avoided.

The specs: Hedgerow Mitts by Amy Ripton. Shibui sock, 1.5 skeins of "seaweed."

This was an uncomplicated pattern, I may well do it again in a less itchy yarn. I'm not a big fan of pooling but the effect here is moderate enough not to be a bother. I'm thinking Michigan autumn soccer momming might require mitts such as these and so in all it is a happy knit.

Happy Friday all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday, Really

I'm starting to settle in a little here in Portage. Two weeks ago today we met the movers at the new house. I felt so bad for them, with the heat index it was over 100 degrees.

I'm always hopeful to not be materialistic but a move from Seattle to Michigan has made it impossible to ignore our ability to fill 2/3 of a semi-truck with our material accumulation. Looking about in the morning the house felt fresh and like a new start in many ways.

This is much like my own position, fresh and new to this area. Not knowing anyone here allows a certain kind of freedom to invent myself anew with whomever I meet. Stripping me of friends and most of my family has made me oddly focused on who I am. Am I anything in particular when removed from all that is familiar?

The last couple of weeks have involved lots of unpacking. There are many boxes yet to unpack, and some missing items I'm hopeful to find soon. An odd item is on the top of that list - Henry's hamper. It's on the top of the list because I'm moderately concerned that it has dirty clothes in it.

There have been a good number of garbage bags filled since our arrival and some contemplation about why useless items have been held onto for so darn long. Just before we left Seattle, Ken made yet another run to the transfer station, 500 pounds! Okay, some of that was concrete. Still, I spent many hours last summer taking items out of the garage. Two summers ago I emptied the garage of 60+ boxes of books. And still that editing job is not done.

We have all been enjoying the new house (and pool). The kids are adjusting to school and making new friends. They trotted off to school on the first day with smiles and some nervousness.

Day two was harder by far with wet cheeks and cries about having no friends and really missing John Rogers Elementary. Day three complaints were limited to having to walk to school. A couple of days ago there was a complaint about the length of the school day (8:25a to 3:46p). As anticipated, the kids have made an easy adjustment. Us grown-ups are doing pretty well too. Ken has been enjoying the welcome at Kellogg, and is quickly adjusting to not thinking about billable hours. I've been busy with all-things-house and getting to know our surroundings.


This would hardly be a post by me without some kind of knitting related item. This is my Ithaca hoodie, named that because I bought the yarn when in Ithaca several years ago.


Pattern: Varese Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio
Yarn: Venezia Worsted.

The pattern calls for pockets on the front, which I tried multiple times to knit. The instructions were confusing and so I abandoned the pockets. I think this yarn is lovely but doesn't have enough structure to sustain a pocket so it's just as well.

I like the idea of a hood, but most of the time a hood is down which means you are mostly looking at reverse stockinette, which isn't as pleasing to the eye as stockinette. Garter stitch is time consuming but a hoodie in garter makes sense to me because the hood when down would match the rest of the sweater.

This profile shows the inevitable ride-up of the front of the sweater. I thought short rows wouldn't be necessary this time but I think I should just always add them in, after all the money and time it is worth that extra effort to have it fit well, right?

The Venezia is nice to work with and has a great drape. I think it would lend itself best to a more fitted pattern and/or a pattern with more lace.

Signing off, hope you all (you know, the three of you who are going to read this) have a fabulous weekend. Jenn

Saturday, November 14, 2009

1918 - Tying it all together

My grandma bought the yarn for this sweater a long time ago, maybe 20 years ago. And she began the back, she got about 4 inches along. Then she put it down and couldn't figure out what row she was on. So the sweater sat for five years or more. And then she showed it to me and asked me to finish it. I figured out where she'd been and attempted to get the same gauge as she had. I know where to look to see where her work stopped and mine began, but an unpracticed eye probably could not spot that there was more than one knitter on this project.

I found some buttons, finished the sweater and gave it back to Grandma. A couple of years ago my uncle was sorting through her things, figuring out what to do with her grand accumulation because she was going to a care facility. He brought a box to my house of all kinds of clothes, and the sweater. He had no idea that I had knit most of it. And now Grandma's memory is far enough gone that she probably doesn't remember anything about the sweater either. Still, both our hands worked on it. As Grandma said, there are no short-cuts, every stitch must be done.

Grandma (my mom's mom) and my other grandma (dad's mom) taught me how to knit. They were both left handed. I remember them laughing about how strange it was to teach a right handed child how to knit. I was pretty young, probably 6 or 7. I remember how they really enjoyed teaching me, they were so patient and would show me again and again how to do the stitches and how to hold my hand for a long-tail cast on. Knitting really ties me to my grandmas, and this sweater seems the embodiment of this beautiful art they passed on to me.

I have had so many hundreds of hours, possibly thousands of hours of pleasure that flow from those times long ago when they taught me to knit. I think now, when the time is long past for the questions to be answered, that it would be good to know who taught them. Grandma was born in 1918, 91 years ago today. And whomever taught her to knit most likely was born and lived mostly in the 1800s. I know Grandma hung on to knitting when she had terrible arthritis and was convinced it saved her hands from being crippled. But I doubt she did it because she thought it was good for her hands. She was divorced, poor and raising 7 kids. Maybe knitting let her relax, or at least temporarily forget her worst hardships.

In some ways knowing those details is not so important. Part of knitting is knowing there is a thread that takes you back centuries to other knitters. It is like that feeling when making bread, or cutting vegetables, or digging the garden. You know that you are doing what has been done before, and will be done again, and it makes you part of the whole of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I love this scarf. I'm pleased the weather is becoming cold and blustery for the excuse to finally weave in ends and put this lovely about my neck. For all its seeming simplicity, it took quite some time to finish. I do love the woven look of the linen stitch, but moving the yarn front to back to front to back does somehow take a while to do.

Pattern: Scrappy Lengthwise Scarf by Zona Sherman
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend - one solid and one variegated

I began the knitting in February 2009, right about when I wrapped up my attempt to lose the dizziness by not eating my most favorite foods. It is a relatively small percentage of people who can identify dietary triggers for migraine, and I am not one of those (lucky?) people.

I began instead to take anti-depressants, which is a common migraine treatment. By June it was pretty clear that the first anti-depressant was not alleviating the dizziness, so I was onto a second one. In August I doubled the dose, and then in September it was clear that things were only getting worse.

My neurologist suggested a neck MRI, especially because all along I have had numbness in my face, arms, hands and sometimes my feet. I am now taking an anti-seizure medication to alleviate the numbness. While she has not come right out and said that I don't have migraines, it sure seems like a quickly fading theory. The neck MRI shows a bulging disc. I do at least have a very pretty scarf to warm the neck that holds this errant disc.

I'm soon to have an EKG with ultrasound to make sure there is not a heart problem at the root of all this. And so, at the 16 month mark I don't quite have a diagnosis or treatment. And I'm starting to feel just a whole lot more dizzy. It's really hard to remain optimistic that all will soon be resolved and I can return to the life of a healthy person. Whine.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Migraineur & Some Fresh(ish) off the Needles

My health education is continuing. "Migraineur" is someone who has migraines. It seems there should also be "stomach acheurs," "back paineurs," and so on for the many ailments that afflict us human beasts.

I am reading, on my neurologist's advice, "Heal Your Headache, the 1-2-3 Program" by David Buchholz, M.D.. It is an interesting book, and has very much widened my understanding of migraine. Prior to reading the book I thought of migraine in its classic sense but now understand that most headaches are likely some version of migraine; and neck pain or sinus congestion might also be migraine symptoms.

In good part I am reading the book though to understand what foods might be triggers for migraine and am attempting to avoid them. It is quite the change from my usual diet. There is a very long list of foods to avoid, some of them are my go-to foods. There is a tempting box of satsumas in the fridge, but no citrus is allowed. No fresh yeast breads. No tomatoes. No, no, no. I think over the summer I inadvertently was eating foods that were making things worse. Some of the easiest things to prepare are full of potential triggers: pizza, spaghetti, all kinds of nuts. Such a long list to avoid. I'm motivated to get rid of the dizziness, but also skeptical that I have migraines given that I only infrequently have headaches. I am going to try this new diet for a while though and hope for improvement, and I just might lose some weight too. Oh, and no caffeine. I'm a Seattle girl so that is pretty tough to consider, no coffee? no chocolate? But, I'd do a lot to not be dizzy.

So, I have some finished projects to show. First up, a pair of pink socks for my little pinkerella. Turns out that they fit, but only barely.

Rather obligingly, J laid upon the floor so I could get a slightly better angle on these cute socks, and her cute feet.

This is a modified version of Chrissy Gardiner's Knotty or Nice socks from the Fall 2008 Interweave Knits. Knotty does not come in a child's size so I modified it based on the Basic Toe-to-Cuff Sock from HeartStrings Patterns. I used an elastic bind-off and that seems like the right one. J can get it over her foot and yet the sock doesn't fall down once on her. Now I just have to cut off the toes and do those over again so she has room. Or perhaps I'll never do that and just remember next time to aim big on the size. The yarn is Pagewood Farm Denali Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in Cotton Candy. This was a great yarn to use, it was smooth, didn't get splitty even with all the twisted stitches, and has a nice color variation within the skein. The only bad thing was that there are occasional dark stains, in the knit it looks like an ink pen mark.

Another sock project is now done. This time I studiously followed the pattern, including using the recommended yarn. This is my second Cookie A pattern, years ago I made a pair of Monkeys. The socks pictured here are Stricken

I began this project with both socks on one needle. This got frustrating pretty quickly because if I noticed a mistake I had to tink back not only the sock with the mistake but the other one too. And it was easy to make a mistake, at least initially, because this is a complicated pattern. It was so nice to watch this sock unwind from the skein and turn into these lovely twists and turns. Cookie is such an amazing designer. My main point of difficulty was on the wrong side of the heel, the twisted lattice cable from the backside is far from intuitive. The results though are so worth the effort.

The top of the foot is quite nice too, and a nice relief after all the complicated twisted cables in the body of the sock. In some ways it seems a shame to do much work at all on the foot of a sock since it will mostly be hidden inside a shoe. Indulgence in these thoughts is pretty limited on my part. After all, one can easily buy socks at most stores so the point of a knitted sock is more than one of strict utility.

Here is a gratuitous shot of the front. Okay, I like these socks lots. Maybe I'll even make a pair for myself one day. Right after I get through all the yarn in my stash.

Here is a close-up of the toes. I did the sock on the right first, using the standard Kitchener stitch. You'll notice the bump on the right toe. On the left I used a trick from the Vogue Sock book, and there is no bump. The trick is that you slip the last stitch on the needle over the next stitch, you do this for each end of the two needles holding your live stitches. Then you use the Kitchener stitch as per usual. Knitting is nothing if not these little tricks.

More on the dizzy saga, and knitting, sometime soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Say Dizzy

On June 1st I started a new life, one in which I can't take balance for granted. It has so far been a very humbling experience to not be entirely sure of my ability to stay upright, nor my ability to navigate through the health care maze.

About 4 or 5 days after the first day of feeling occasionally like I would tip over I realized I probably should do something about it. A quick search showed that there are about ten zillion causes of dizziness. I immediately thought about allergies. It turns out I have allergies to cover all the seasons, and now some new drugs. Sadly enough, I am not allergic to the cats. It would have been such a fine excuse to find a new home for them.

The dizziness continued. Off to the doctor who then sent me to the audiologist. And then I found a physical therapist, but one who didn't believe that the audiology report was accurate, and who asked me to please not say "dizzy" when describing how I feel. Fair enough, it can mean many things. I feel like I'm on a boat making a rough docking, I am water swirling and tipping in a glass held by a drunk, I am mostly but not entirely sure I can sit in the chair without falling out of it. I returned to the audiologist, who did more tests and recommended another physical therapist. Treatments so far have been ineffective. Another month later and I was able to get an appointment at a dizziness clinic at the local university. Then three weeks later I was able to get the tests to determine if inner ear was to blame, another week and I found out that my inner ears are working normally. And now I am waiting for an appointment in the headaches clinic to find out if I am one of the rare people who gets migraines that cause dizziness but no headache.

I think of myself as moderately patient. On the days I'm not much dizzy I think it isn't so bad that it has taken more than 6 months to get to this point in finding out what is wrong. On the bad days, it seems like craziness that so little has happened. Much of this trip has been comprised of waiting. Waiting to see if something works, waiting to get an appointment, waiting to get results. This is in all likelihood incredibly boring to read about, and yet it is a much condensed snippet of my dizzy explorations.

I'd heard, as so many of us have, that the ear was important to balance. And now I know a little something of the mechanics of that process. It is amazing how our bodies work, so complicated and simultaneously elegant. I'm stunned at how much can be determined of the ears' functions by looking at the eyes, and it is even more preposterous to me that some dizziness can be cured by tilting the head in one direction and then the other ever-so-slowly.

So far no one has suggested something more dire at the base, like MS or a brain tumor. In the quiet of the night I still, sometimes, feel this is a transient state.

Surely I'll post some of my finished knitting with the next post, and maybe some pictures too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another Reason to Knit

Since last posting I have travelled from one coast to the other and back. Unfortunately, my luggage did not go on the same trip that I did. On arriving I gave a description of my bag, and was asked if there was anything that made my luggage contents unique. I struggled. How unique is my toiletry bag? My jeans? My new running shoes I'd used but once? And then I remembered all of the knitting projects I'd put in the bag at the last minute.

It was a little embarrassing to consider how many projects I'd packed for a 7 day trip. There are the socks you see sticking out of my project bag. There was a hooded tunic for my daughter. There was the beginning of the Cable-down raglan by Stefanie Japel that you see here.

Days went on and I began to think the bag was truly gone but then I got a call. All of the tags were off a bag matching mine but they were pretty certain it belonged to me because of the yarn, needles and other knitting accoutrement. There were still several days before the bag caught up with me, and there is the ongoing struggle of reimbursement for essentials during those days, but I'm oh-so-happy to be a knitter.

My husband rolled his eyes when I told him how they matched the bag, the knitting monster had been fed. When we met, dated, got engaged, got married, and through the first few years of marriage my knitting habit was in an extended dormancy. I'm not sure what happened, but the critter is awake again and I spend lots of time knitting, thinking of knitting, thinking of yarn purchases, and so on. And now, to top it off, knitting is capable of retrieving a bag from the bowels of baggage handling. It makes me want to buy sock yarn, and so indeed I have.

I am thinking of doing the Jaywalker pattern, but in a toe up version with tips from Natalia. Though there is certainly enough yarn here to do a pair of socks I do love the toe-up style so I needn't spend mental energy on worry that I'll finish most of the sock and not have enough yarn left for toes. Far better to worry that there is insufficient yarn to have cuffs.

I'm planning to do a magic cast-on, much like the one I'm using here for the modified Thuja sock.

I'm hoping to have enough yarn left to start socks for my daughter. She is 2 and highly opinionated about socks. Commercial socks usually bother her lots due to the foot seams. If all goes well with the invisible cast on I imagine I will be knitting her some winter socks. It isn't such a big deal in our mostly temperate climate that she often refuses to wear socks, but in December I'll be hoping she loves the socks mommy made.