I have lots to blog about, as I quickly knit up some holiday gifts.  I wasn’t going to knit much for the holidays this year, but then all of a sudden, as the holidays neared, I couldn’t think of what else to get my family members, or the things I thought of just didn’t sound as good as a hand-knit this or that, or whatever, so I’m now knitting up a storm.  Today I will share with you the cowl I designed for my sister-in-law.  I initially bought 2 skeins of Noro Silk Mountain to knit her a scarf, because I saw in on sale at Webs and I thought it just looked gorgeous.  Then I spent a bunch of time sitting at Purlescence knitting, and I kept hearing people talk about knitting cowls.  Mari kept saying over and over again that no one knits scarves anymore, everyone knits cowls these days.  SO, I decided I would try one out myself.  I looked through my new Barbara Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and I fell in love with the Seaweed stitch pattern.  I wanted something that was based on some kind of ribbing pattern, so that it would be stretchy. Since it knit up so quickly, I decided to share my little pattern with you. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to knit one up in a plainer yarn right now to show you what the stitch pattern really looks like. SO, you can either trust my good judgment and knit one up in a plainer yarn yourself, or you can knit one up in Noro Silk Mountain, or do whatever you like. Here’s my version, which I knit up for my sister-in-law, in which you can’t really see the stitch pattern at all, but it’s still nice and cozy and warm! The pattern is available on my blog here in print and as a pdf here, and on Ravelry here as a Ravelry free download.

Here I am also modeling the hat I knit my brother-in-law for Hanukkah…

And here you can see the beautiful colors of the Silk Mountain, color 8, that I used…

P.S.  Only 1 more person needs to join the Fiber Fiends Ravelry group before the Knit-A-Long starts!  I’ve decided to design a cabled shrug. Click here to sign up!

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It just gets in the way sometimes.  I didn’t blog for a number of days because after the whole blindness episode I had migraines every day for about 4 days.  So, I stayed away from the computer.  Then, since I had been staying away from the computer, I continued to stay away from the computer.  I’ve been adding a new medication to my migraine preventatives and it has been making me extremely drowsy the past few days, so that hasn’t helped with my productivity either.  I’ve also been freeeeeezing cold for the past 2 weeks or so, like wearing 2 cashmere sweaters inside when it’s 70 degrees and throwing a blanket over myself, and combined with the extreme drowsiness, which I wasn’t sure was caused by my new medication, I thought I might be getting a hypo-thyroid problem, which runs in my family (and which those are two symptoms of).  However, I got tested on Wednesday, and my thyroid is fine.

I started Mindfulness Meditation daily last week.  At first I started meditating at night, just before bed, but I fell asleep while meditating, and the instructor of my class said that wasn’t the best thing, so then I disciplined myself to start meditating in the mornings, after I fed myself and the dogs, beginning on Sunday.  It went well Sunday and Monday, but Tuesday morning I had a physical therapy evaluation at the Stanford Pain Clinic with a pain physical therapist, and I forgot to do my meditation when I returned home afterward, and then I managed to forget it later in the day and the day got away from me.  However, the therapist told me that I must make a conscious effort to exercise every day for my fibromyalgia (just like the rheumatologist I saw about 9 months ago said), be it walking half a block or a mile, and do my physical therapy (PT) exercises, so now I have a more complex grid checklist that I fill out every day that encompasses the following: did I exercise and what exercise did I do? did I meditate? did I do my physical therapy exercises? did I have a migraine?  Three of them just have check marks, or for migraines, sometimes I put AM or PM or whatnot.  In the exercise space I am now putting “1 1/2-2 blocks” or something like that.  Sunday and Monday I did meditation and PT, and I had migraines, but I did not exercise (that was before I saw the physical therapist).  Tuesday I did PT and exercised, and I had a migraine in the AM, but I forgot to meditate.  Wednesday, I don’t know what happened Wednesday.  I had an appointment in the morning, which screwed up my meditation routine, and then I went in to my primary care doctor in the afternoon to get my thyroid tested.  I didn’t meditate, but I didn’t have a migraine, which is good.  I did exercise (I tried to go to Yarn Place’s semi-new location in Santa Clara after my doctor’s appointment because they’re not too far from each other, and I walked from the car to the store and back, but the store wasn’t open, well, the sign said open and there was a bell on the door, a cow bell, and another sign that said the door doesn’t close all the way and ring the bell loudly, which I did, twice, but nothing happened, so I left — I wanted to get Annie Modesitt’s Ruffled Roses pattern, and they’re listed as a store that carries it, plus I haven’t been to their new location yet).   Somehow because I was so exhausted by the end of that day, I forgot to do my physical therapy exercises too!  Yesterday was good though, I was back on track with meditation in the morning, exercise (only one block to/from Bobaknit (Yay! I got to see everyone, including Cindy, all the way from India!)), and PT, and I didn’t have a migraine!  (Thanks to Abigail for telling me about the elevator at Red Rock, so R didn’t have to carry me up the stairs!)  Now, I’m sure you’re all getting bored with all this non-knitting talk.

I’m sure glad I’m able to at least get out of the house to go knit at Purlescence a bunch (I try to go there at least a couple of times a week for a few hours, and I have made much stash enhancement that I have not blogged about, but you can see on Ravelry), because they have a comfy rocking chair, and go to other events once in a while, although my back was really aching by the end of the night last night.  I don’t think I’ll get long-term disability, since my doctor would have to write a note saying that I will certainly be disabled for another 6 months, so I will have to go back to work, at least on a partial basis, before January 23rd. Since TNNA is January 15th-17th, I have to go back to work before then in order to teach the class I’m scheduled to teach then.  R doesn’t want me to go to TNNA at all, because he thinks there’s a good chance that it will be too stressing on me and it will disable me and I won’t qualify for any disability and I might lose my job and that would put us in a really bad situation.  I can totally see where he’s coming from, but my mom has agreed to come and help me out, and I don’t think I can get any of my money back at this point, and I think it will be really good for my business to go.  BUT if I lose my day job, then we can’t pay our mortgage and that would be much worse than having to miss TNNA and lose the sunk costs and even lose my business and have to start another business.  SO, a lot to think about and not much time to make decisions.

Here are some photos of Sicily I took with my new-ish camera remote and my new-ish haircut (so I don’t have to bug R to take photos and I don’t have to mess with the timer and moving a mannequin back and forth in under 10 seconds to get the focus to work!).

This first one was me trying to figure out how to get the remote to work, because it totally wasn’t working at first and then all of a sudden it took a photo.  This is what I look like completely confused.  I don’t know that anyone has ever caught this expression of mine on film before…

And here are some photos of Sicily, which you can purchase here, and find on Ravelry here

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Yesterday was a bit too much of an adventure for me.  I woke up, went to the bathroom, opened the linen closet, bent down to get some tums (my belly hurt), put the bottle back in the cabinet, stood up straight, and I was blind, completely blind, for about 3 or 4 minutes.  I was thirsty after popping the tums in my mouth, so I stumbled into the bathroom door (our bathroom is so tiny that we keep some medicine (like the tums) in the linen closet right outside the bathroom), found my way into the bathroom, and searched for the faucet handles to turn the water on.  I found a glass, our toothbrushes, the wall, the hand towel, but I could not for the life of me find the faucet handles.  So, I gave up, and decided I would just go back to bed because I was SO tired.  (It was shortly before 6:30am, and I wasn’t planning on getting up at this time.)  I walked out of the bathroom and into the hallway with my arms outstretched.  I remember touching a frame with glass in it and realizing that I was walking the wrong way down the hall, so I turned around and made my way the other direction, bumped into the gate that keeps the dogs out of our bedroom (it was open), took one step into our bedroom, and thought, hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t just go back to sleep.  This is really messed up.  I should call my dad.  He’s a doctor.  He’ll tell me what to do.  So, I turned around again and tried to make my way to the living room.  Then things started to brighten up a tad, to a very very dark gray, so I could just barely make out outlines of shapes.  I walked through the living room to the kitchen and walked straight into the gate between the kitchen and living room (dog gate, which was closed).  I opened the gate, took one step into the kitchen, and realized I can’t use the home phone to make a long distance phone call.  I turned around and went back into the living room to the couch.  I sat down and took several deep breaths, trying to relax myself.  I think I had been panicking a bit, maybe holding my breath to some extent.  My vision slowly oh so slowly started to come back some more.  I was able to find my purse and dig though it to find my cell phone, but I couldn’t see the numbers or read what it said on the screen.  I tried to dial my parents from the menu.  I speed dialed 7 (the only number I pressed) instead of 6 (look at a phone — these numbers are VERY FAR APART!  HOW could I get them confused???) and I got “Purlesence” instead of “Mom & Dad.”  The Purlescence voicemail tipped me off and I kind of freaked out a little bit.  By then I looked at my phone and I could vaguely see the outlines of the numbers, so I was able to tell which one was 6 to dial my parents.  I called my dad and while I was talking to him my vision came back all the way.  Since my husband is out of town all week, my dad told me to drive myself to the ER, if I felt I could, and since my vision had come back, and the ER doesn’t involve driving on highways, I thought I could handle it.  So, I did.  I spent 5 hours there.  They did an EKG, a cat scan, and some blood work.  However, the doctor could not tell me why I went blind.  He said that my neck muscles were so tight that my inner ear balance was off and that’s why I was dizzy/disoriented and he said that he thought I was on the verge of passing out for the entire time I was blind but my blood pressure was high enough that I didn’t pass out.  That part doesn’t make sense.  Not for 3-4 minutes.  I was supposed to see my neurologist at 10:15am (to discuss my new migraine meds), but I missed that appointment because I was in the ER, so I left him 2 messages, and hoped that I could see him later in the day, and after my dad called his office, he did manage to squeeze me in, although I did wait around for quite a while to see him, and after he saw me, he said he thought the episode had to do with my migraines, like some people have an aura before they get migraines, or have tunnel vision, although there are two problems with that theory 1) I didn’t have a tunnel, I was completely blind and 2) I didn’t get a migraine afterwards, so he had me go in for a vascular MRI this morning.  All in all, I spent 7 hours between the ER and the doctor’s office yesterday, and I had an appointment at the pain clinic this morning before I went in for my vascular MRI, so I’ve had a bit of a stressful medical overload this week.  They did an IV during the vascular MRI so they could put a contrast in my blood to make my arteries pop out in the image.  That wasn’t so much fun either.  And I really must add that the gown they had me wear this morning was missing one tie and didn’t close in the back, so it really was quite drafty!  Every day is an adventure.  Some days the adventure is more fun than others…  I don’t know when I get the results back from the MRI.  I hope soon.

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I’m copying Annie in telling you, Hey everyone!  No blog today!  I’m calling in gay!

I’m not currently working, so I can’t call in gay to work, but I can call in gay to the blog!

In case you don’t browse around the site, I will tell you to check out these web pages about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA): National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: ENDA Info and ACLU ENDA Page.

I will also tell you that you can contact your state representatives to voice your support for ENDA by going here: Contact your Represenatatives and Contact your Senators.

For those in California, you can also contact your state representatives to voice your opposition to prop 8. Two Equality California-sponsored resolutions will make it official state policy, when they are approved by the Legislature, that Prop 8 should be overturned. Write your legislators now to urge them to support the invalidation of Prop 8 and vote for SR 7 (Leno) and AR 5 (Ammiano). The resolutions state the measure should have been approved by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before going to voters.

Ok, maybe it did turn into a <small> post.

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I knit this hat for R to wear around me, because he shaved his hair super short like an army haircut, and I hate it.  HATE it.  He’s been shaving it short for a few months now.  In the beginning, he wore the hat all the time, but he doesn’t wear it very often anymore.  I keep asking him about it and sometimes he claims he doesn’t know where it is, other times he claims he too hot… grumble grumble.  I wish he would grow his hair back.  Whenever I tell him that, he says he wishes we didn’t have dogs, and this is his compromise.  I guess I’d rather have dogs than hair.  What happened to the days when I could have both?

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I wrote this lacy sock pattern, Sequoia, as the December/January pattern for the Six Sox Knitalong group.  It’s free if you join their Yahoo group.  They also have a Ravelry Group.  You can find Sequoia on Ravelry here.  You can see all of the Six Sox Knitalong patterns in Ravelry here, if you’d like to take a look before joining the Yahoo group.  The pattern is written in both English and German, in metric and British units.

I have some photos to share that were taken by a few of the test-knitters.

From top to bottom, you have Linda’s sock (blog in German),

Debi’s socks,

my own cuff,

and Brenda’s sock.

SIZE
Women’s Medium: to fit foot circumference: 8-9 inches / 20-22.5 cm

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Leg circumference: approx. 8 inches / 20 cm, unstretched

MATERIALS

  • 100g fingering weight sock yarn in a solid or semi-solid color
  • 1 set of 5 US #1/2.25 mm double-pointed needles, or
  • 1 set of 5 US #2/2.75 mm double-pointed needles
  • Tapestry needle

GAUGE
32 sts/44 rows = 4 inches / 10 cm in stockinette stitch or
28 sts/40 rows = 4 inches/ 10 cm in stockinette stitch, depending on yarn and needles chosen

NOTE
Some test knitters preferred 64 sts on US#1/2.25mm needles and others preferred 60 sts on US#2/2.75mm needles. Some worked the leg on US#2’s over 60 sts and the foot on US#1’s over 64 sts.

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I get the Princeton Alumni Weekly magazine every week. Usually it just goes straight in the recycling bin because I have all kinds of other stuff going on.  Often, I look in the back to see my class notes (people can email what’s going on in their lives and each graduating class has a space in the back of the magazine for this information).  Sometimes I leaf through the magazine to see if there’s anything of interest.  In the October 8th issue, I saw a profile article about Martin Seligman ’64, titled “Figuring out happiness.”  My curiosity was piqued, since I had just been given a book on happiness, so I read the article.  Dr. Seligman teaches at the University of Pennsylvania a branch of psychology called positive psychology that focuses on what makes people happy.  I tore the page out of the magazine and set it in a pile of non-urgent stuff to do (and recycled the rest of the magazine).  This morning I picked it up and I put a hold on one of his books, Authentic Happiness, which was mentioned in the article, because it’s currently checked out of the library. I also checked out his website, of the same name, AuthenticHappiness.org, where I registered and took the VIA Signature Strengths test (the long one, 240 questions, not the brief one).  It turns out that of the 24 strengths tested, my top 5 are:

Your Top Strength
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Second Strength
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Your Third Strength
Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Your Fourth Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fifth Strength
Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

On the website there are all different kinds of tests you can take, about happiness, emotions, relationships, optimism, forgiveness, work-life balance, compassion, satisfaction with life, and more.  There is a page of resources and there is a newsletter.  I just thought I would share!  I think the strengths test was interesting to see, especially because you can see all 24 strengths, and once you get to the bottom of the list, you’re really seeing your weaknesses (which I opted not to share!).

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend!  Because I promised some knitting content, here is the cardigan I knit for my nephew’s Courtland’s 1st birthday on Halloween!  I hope it got to him.  I asked R to mail it and I forgot to make sure he got delivery confirmation, so he didn’t, and I never heard if it was received…

It was a little big for my Tiger.  The pattern is Debbie Bliss’s Classic Cardigan from The Baby Knits Book.  I used 1 1 1/2 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in color 859 and US8 needles and I made the 12-24 months size.  Here’s the Ravelry link.  Pattern modifications:  I knit the sleeves in the round until the sleeve cap shaping, then I worked them back and forth.

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Remember when I blogged about doing a Ravelry Fiber Fiends Group Design KAL a-la Norah Gaughan?  That was about 3 weeks ago. There were only 62 members then.  I think there’s enough interest in the KAL for it to be a rewarding experience.  Thirty people have joined the group since then, bringing membership up to 92 members, and a handful of people have replied positively, saying they want to participate.  I stated that the Fiber Fiends Ravelry group KAL will begin when 100 members have joined.  That leaves just 8 members to go!  I’m thinking about designing a cabled vest or shrug, although I’m open to suggestions and feedback.

Let me explain a bit for those of you who know nothing of Norah’s KAL.  I will release the pattern in bits to the Fiber Fiends Ravelry group: first the schematic, then some initial instructions, then some more instructions, and more instructions, and so on until you have all you need to finish the project.  I will also release the instructions on my blog, which I think is required for the pattern to be considered a pattern by Ravelry’s standards.  That way people who aren’t in Ravelry can participate in the KAL as well.  I think Norah has taken quite a while to finish her KAL, but my goal is to finish before Stitches West so that whoever is local can meet at my booth at a given time for a group photo.  Oh, wait, you can’t bring cameras inside.  It will have to be in the lobby.  Anyhow, Stitches is at the very end of February, so it would be nice to start the KAL maybe in a few weks or at the beginning of January and go through mid- or late-February, or something like that, do a 6-week KAL, or an 8-week KAL, depending on the start date and on the project.  I know a lot of people have holiday knitting, but many people also have a desire to knit something small-ish yet a bit decadent for themselves during the holidays, or once holiday knitting is done, they want to start a project for themselves to reward them for all their hard work!  I want to fulfill that desire with this project, so tell me what you need it to be!  Is a vest good?  A shrug?  Do you want it to knit up quickly in bulky yarn?  Worsted weight?  Or do you want to take your time with DK?  Let me know in the comments, or go over to the Fiber Fiends Group (especially if you’re not a member yet!) and let me know in the thread! Not on Ravelry? Sign up!

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Warning: Long post with many photos!

I went to my parents’ for a week, and I thought I would blog from there, but the trip up there took 12 hours, because we missed the first ferry by 10 minutes, and the one we caught was delayed by an hour due to high (40 mph) winds (and the ride was quite rough)… and really, my back had quite had it when we arrived at the airport after about 5 hours of traveling, so after 12 hours I was in agony, and my body responded by giving me a 4-day-long migraine starting the next morning, which responded slightly to the injection I got at urgent care on the evening of the third day, and then came right back again late the next morning.  However, I did quite enjoy 2 days with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, and most of all, my most adorable 2 1/2-year-old nephew.

The unfortunate thing (besides the pain) is that my brother and his wife were only there for the first day and a half, so there was only one family dinner, and I missed it, because I was hiding out in my parents’ bedroom, in the darkness, completely nauseated.  I could only eat rice, with one ice pack on my back and one heat pack on my neck, and/or an ice pack on my head.  And I had to eat some rice, so that I could take my pain medication… I was very thankful that the last time I went to urgent care they prescribed me a nausea medication that dissolves on my tongue, because without that it would have been a much less pleasant night (the island doesn’t have an urgent care that’s open on the weekends and we arrived Friday night at 11pm, so I waited until Monday to go to urgent care, which is really more of a walk-in clinic, although I don’t know why I waited until late in the day…).

For both of the days I felt well, my brother-in-law’s mother was there.  The second of those days was Thanksgiving, and my brother-in-law’s sister, husband, and two kids, 7 and 1 1/2, were there that day as well, so the house was quite full.  The two neighbors also came over for Thanksgiving, so after much squabbling, the two leaves were put in and then removed from the dining room table, and the kitchen table was brought into the dining room and the tables were put together so that the 12 adults, one 7-year-old, and two babies could all sit around one table together.  My mom had baked 5 pies for some reason, and it happened to be my brother-in-law’s sister’s birthday, and a few weeks earlier was my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary (which is the reason my siblings wanted us all together) so the previous day my sister decided to bake 2 cakes, one for the birthday and one for the anniversary, so we had 2 whipped cream Princess Torte cakes (a Swedish recipe) right after lunch, and then there were leftovers from that, plus two different kinds of pie (pumpkin and pumpkin/pecan) for dessert after dinner!  I only saw two pies on the table, so I don’t know what my mom is going to do with the other three!  She always goes overboard with desserts!  There were all kinds of breads and cookies all week and blackberry pie and lemon raspberry bars, and… I can’t remember it all!  I brought my camera, but I wasn’t feeling well, so I actually didn’t take a single picture the whole time I was there!  No, that’s not true. I did take one. This one. It’s R and my parents’ Bouvier, Tek. He’s just over 1 year old.

Thankfully R took quite a few… here are two of Tek, who we both thought kind of looked like a bison when he lied down…

My mom made a batch of Gak, and R, myself, and my brother-in-law sat down to play with it… my brother-in-law imitated an elephant, (which I thought looked a bit obscene, and I could NOT stop laughing)…

I’m SO glad R snapped these photos!

Of course, my nephew had to imitate, but by the time the elephant nose got around to him, it was quite extended!

This is from some movie, I can’t recall at the moment… more laughing ensued on my part…

And of course it had to be mimicked!

R and I read the little one lots of stories (although I only got to read on the last 2 days)…

Here I am with a migraine…and my brother’s dog Pip on my lap.

And here I am feeling better, knitting! I’m also listening to a book on CD, Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth. I’m somewhere on the 3rd disc of 8. It’s interesting stuff. My sister-in-law recommended it. On a related topic, I just had the last class of an 8-week Mindfulness Meditation class at Stanford University on Tuesday. I did not meditate every day like you’re supposed to, but I have started to meditate some, and I have become more mindful. The book for the Stanford class is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, which I haven’t read all the way through yet either. However, if you’re dealing with chronic pain, I would highly recommend the class and/or the book. Other people in the class (besides those with chronic pain) included those with ADD, anxiety, sleep disorders, tension with their children, psychology students, medical students, and others. Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches Mindfulness classes in the Boston area and I believe there are other classes elsewhere in the country and possibly worldwide.

I’m also reading this book now and then that my mom gave me, How we Choose to be Happy, by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks. I haven’t gotten very far into it, but it seems to have a lot of very reasonable information. Being suddenly bombarded by chronic pain a year and a half ago has put an unimaginable amount of stress on my internal happiness, my relationships with my friends (both because I’m always dealing with pain and also because I’m often stuck in the house and I can’t socialize due to pain), and my marriage. It’s nice to have references to help me find the path to happiness again. I think these three books can all be references. I still have a long way to go…

I have a very strong tendency whenever I’m upset about something or in a lot of pain to gravitate to my knitting, pick it up, and completely immerse myself in it, because I know that it is the one thing that I can count on that will generally make me feel endlessly satisfied, especially when I’m designing something new. I think that it’s good that the thing I run to is productive (i.e. it’s not gambling or drugs), but I’m not sure that this is a good habit to have…

Remember I mentioned that the kitchen table was taken out of the kitchen and added to the dining room table? Apparently my nephew was still sitting next to the kitchen table eating lunch! He was left all alone in the kitchen! Kind of silly looking…

Last, but not least, my sister brought my nephew’s Halloween costume, which she made: an Elmo Monster costume!

She also made an Elmo Monster doll, so my nephew would be more enticed to wear the costume, which apparently worked out pretty well! He wore it several different days to surprise different guests who came and went…

That’s all for now! Tune in next time for some knitting content!

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