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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Forecast - FO or Frog?

I'm not sure if I have finished my Japel Forecast from Knitty, worked in Crystal Palace Bunny Hop, Teal Lake color. The sweater feels quite snuggly, but the fit is not what I was hoping it would be. I'm a little tired of this project and don't much relish frogging the sleeves, but think that might be in order. Maybe I'll put it off until autumn, when it is much more likely I'll be wearing cardigans again.

Bunny Hop was nice to knit up as it was soft and springy. The bobbles and cables have a nice contrast and body to them. However, there is no stiffness to the final product which, in retrospect, I see was part of why the pattern works so well in wool. It might have worked better too if I did a gauge swatch (which, by the way, you should do in garter stitch worked with purls not knits if you have different tensions with those stitches).

The body of the sweater is fine, but the sleeves don't work well. I did the usual modifications of the pattern (thank you Winnie), and thought doing 3-stitch rather than 5-stitch bobbles would lessen the enormous arm effect. Alas, these arms are baggy and bulky. Maybe I should have paid more attention to Winnie and separated for the sleeves as called for in the pattern. Instead I knit a further 1.5 inches because the bust was much too tight.

Not only are the sleeves big enough for Atlas, they suffer the added problem of being too short. The pattern allowed for dpns in the round for the sleeves, or knitting flat. I chose knitting flat. Now and then I pinned the arms closed to see about length. I thought I got it right, but the arms are much too short.

Oh how I wish this were done so that I could move on to my next Japel project, the cable-down raglan from Interweave Knits, Spring 2007. The Knit Picks Swish DK in cornflower has arrived and wants to be on the needles.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Color Enhanced

Through a series of events that span decades and the full range of experiences that might visit a family, I now live in the house in which I grew up. Mostly I am busy with my life and don't give much thought to the fact that in the very same space where we now eat my family has eaten many thousands of meals, or that where I do the laundry is where my mom did quite similar laundry, and so on for every thing you might do during a day. But sometimes I indulge in those memories and think of what it means to have more generations here, living. I am spending more time these days with those thoughts as we contemplate painting the exterior of our house.

I didn't imagine before getting ready for this project what a stumbling place it would be to chose the color. I mentioned to my husband a color of green that I thought was nice, he asked why not go get the color and test it? This seems so simple, yes? But, good luck arriving in a busy paint store and saying something along the lines of "I'd like a green that is fernish, maybe a little more chartreuse." Hah. And making a choice from those itty-bitty cards illuminated with fluorescent light is equally challenging. Given that we're painting hardi-board the color choice will be with us for a decade or more. And though I've lived in this house most of my life, I don't feel I can look to the paint/stain choices of the past for any guidance since I never particularly liked the darkness of it all. Still, thinking of the past is so often a good starting point for future plans.

This is a picture that my brother recently sent to me of our house, the photo was taken about 10 years ago. And this is a picture of the house today.

It almost isn't recognizably the same house, but then you can see how the doors and windows are the same. In the last several years we've had to remove most of the trees around the house. Some were actively falling over, others were in poor health, yet others had matured more than expected and were taking out the fence and constantly brushing the house. The end result of all the arborist's work is in part the loss of the feeling that the house was in the forest. It was perhaps the most redeeming quality of the house as it used to be, it felt very much as though you stepped out of the city and into a quiet place amid the bustle.

This color choice dilemma I think is fed by conflicting desires of how the house should be. It should be much like it was yet entirely different, full of color yet not garish, modern yet classic. The yets! And onward I go because, after all, it is just paint.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going Postal

At last I make my first post.  Years ago someone I don't admire so much mentioned that she was blogging for hours every single day.  She seemed pretty pleased about it.  I immediately imagined a drab diary on the internet and couldn't understand why to bother, and why anyone else would be interested.  What a failure of imagination!  I have only myself to blame for not investigating further until quite recently.   A few months ago I stumbled on blogs while searching for free knitting patterns and reviews of yarns, and what beautiful, detailed blogs they were.

I'm hoping to regularly "go postal."  It can be added to the list of other things I'm hoping to do as some sort of routine.  For instance, I will weed the strawberry bed regularly enough that it will take only moments a week instead of the hours on end at the beginning of the gardening season.  This is one of the many gardening "I wills" that I hope will come to some fruition.  Here you can see the half completed bed and it's promise of juicy July delights.

It is especially nice to see these plants upright and seemingly happy about Spring given the odd weather here earlier this week.  We set a local record for late snowfall.  Happily, the plants seem not nearly as confused as people about how to forge ahead despite their weird surroundings.