Author Archives: Annie

About Annie

I knit weird and I enjoy showing others how to find the joy and intuitiveness within their OWN knitting! We don't knit to make THINGS, we knit to make OURSELVES HAPPY!

Hard Work Behind, Light Ahead

Sunset On Our Trip Home From Ohio

Sunset On Our Trip Home From Ohio

It’s been an incredibly busy time for the past few weeks; ModeKnit Yarns had five shows in four weeks, and all the travel that entailed.  Setting up the booth, standing around selling the yarn, breaking down the booth and driving to the next location are actually pretty enjoyable physical activities, but coming right on top of each other bang-bang-bang it was a hard thing.

Leading up to our time away and our local shows was a few months of intensive home fix up (all of it catalogued under the hashtag #HomeSaleFixUp if you’re interested) so I was already running on fumes.

Adding to that, while on the road we acquired three new wholesale accounts (yay!) which meant a lot of dyeing when I returned home (yikes!) Add to that a bunch of new orders (yay!) which also meant a lot of dyeing (yikes!)

2016-05-30 23.18.17We also acquired a new kitten (well, it’s Andy’s kitten from school, and it is FEISTY!)

Yikes because we’d cleaned up the basement dye studio pretty nicely, and every time I dye down there I spend almost as much time setting up beforehand and cleaning up after.  But we have to keep the home ready to show at any time, and that includes the basement!

So I just finished dyeing almost all of the items on our ongoing, “Orders To Fill” sheet.  (In our business, Kathleen receives the orders and then fills the sheet so I can see exactly what needs to be dyed, and then I dye, set, dry and skein the yarn to fill the orders)

Right now there are a few items I can’t dye because we’re having issues with our knitting machine

In the past  year I’ve broken two yarn feeders in the carriage (one by dropping the carriage about a year ago, the other by pushing the carriage to hard.)  I’d come up with a solution to glue the piece back together using superglue and rayon ribbon, and it worked for a few days, but it was never a permanent solution and now it’s watch is done.

So about 5 items from various orders are waiting for a part that should be arriving on Tuesday, then I can knit up more fabric and fill the waiting orders.  And I plan on ordering a few spare yarn feeders because I’ve discovered it can be an incredibly fragile little plastic piece, and practically impossible to fix once it’s broken.

What I HAVE dyed in the few days, though, is amazing.  I’ve dyed the equivalent of 240 skeins of yarn, most for orders, but some of it for our stock.  And now that the last batches are in their citric acid baths, I’ve changed out of my dye clothes and into something dry and cool, and I’m engaging in one of my guilty pleasures; binge-watching ALONE on the History Channel, and enjoying my indoor plumbing, running water and beautiful home!

I think I’ll ask the kids to wring out the yarn and hang it up.  They should be good for something, right?

2016-05-31 11.20.43Speaking of the beautiful home, we’ve had a lot of interest, a lot of visitors, and a few return visits.  The house has a LOT going for it, but two things we can’t change are the fact that we have a one-car garage, and we live on a busy street.  Those two things could be non-starters for a lot of folks, but I feel confident that we’ll find the perfect family for our lovely home!  We’ve certainly been very happy here for the past 9 years!

I’ve also been able to get out on my bike every day or so, which makes EVERYTHING better.  I have a presentation to prepare for The Knitters Guild here in MN on Tuesday at the Textile Center.  I’ve got all my props set and everything written out, now I just need to make it smooth by rehearsing it a few times.

After this presentation, I’ll have nothing immediate on my plate until Stitches Midwest in August, except getting this home sold and finding a new one…

 

A Few Days On The Lake

Lake Erie Sunset

Lake Erie Sunset, finally resting for a few days!

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been SO incredibly busy!

Living & Dining Rooms

Living & Dining Rooms

A combination of getting our home ready to put on the market, and preparing enough yarn to see us through a bunch of online orders that came in (yay!) and SIX fiber engagements (5 fiber fests & a trunk show) in 6 weeks across six states meant that when I had a few spare moments I was generally using them to take care of personal activities like brushing my teeth.

Who knew time for flossing would become a luxury!?

Universal Catherina by Myrna Stahman at Shepherd's Harvest

Universal Catherina by Myrna Stahman at Shepherd’s Harvest

So ModeKnit Yarn partner Kathleen and I did a few shows in MN (Yarnover by the MN Knitter’s Guild and Shepherd’s Harvest out in Lake Elmo) and had an amazing time!

We have begun to divide the work in a better way; I dye all the yarn (which means also doing all the blank knitting for our FLOW colors) and I do the skeining.

Andy's Always With Us!

Andy’s Always With Us!

Kathleen handles the sales & marketing, shipping orders and staying in touch with wholesale orders and club customers.

Kathleen also makes up the mini skein sets, and puts our kits together.  She gets to see a LOT of Andy (in pattern photograph form.)

When it comes to traveling, Kathleen does the lion’s share of booth planning, packing and loading our trailer, I help set up the booth and help deal with customers, and at some shows I teach (which generally brings in more customers from among my students!)

Drying Yarn

Drying Yarn for Yarnover

I do most of the driving and planning our hotel accommodations, Kathleen handles the interactions with the show producers & handles filing our tax info for out-of-state sales.

So suffice to say that BOTH of us are pretty ragged right now!  It’s a testament to our friendship that after all of this work, and all of this driving, a week into our trip we’re still giggling and having fun!

Happy Sheared Sheep at KY Sheep & Fiber Show

Happy Sheared Sheep at KY Sheep & Fiber Show

After the Kentucky Fiber Show last weekend (what a sweet, well run and friendly show!), and an incredibly joyful stay with a good friend of Kathleen’s (THANK YOU MIMI!) we drove up to Columbus for a trunk show at 614 Knit Studio, which was AMAZING!

614 Knit Studio Trunk Show

614 Knit Studio Trunk Show

614 Knit Studio is such a lovely shop, if you’re in the general area, it would be WELL worth your while to stop by and have some knitting time!

614 Studio had an INSANE accident a few weeks ago when a car drove through their front window.  No one was hurt, miraculously, and we’re in awe that Andrea has her shop up and running again so quickly!

Our nod to 614 Knit Studio's recent auto incident...

Our nod to 614 Knit Studio’s recent auto incident…

We arrived on Tuesday, set up a trunk show, hung around to sign some books and just watched the yarn fly out the door!  We also had some of the best take out Chinese/Malaysian food we’ve ever had – Buckeye Asian, we love you!

On Wed (Today!) we drove up to beautiful Vermilion, OH for a few days at a lakeside motel, just hanging out and enjoying the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

Toes In The Sand

Toes In The Sand

Lake Erie was a disaster when I was a kid, polluted and terrible. We could swim, but we had to hose off, and we never ate the fish we caught.

Then it got MUCH cleaner – yay! – but now, because it IS so shallow, it is susceptible to alge blooms.  We’re here before the ‘season’, while the water is still pretty cold, so alge’s not an issue, and the water is so much clearer than I remember from the Summers of my youth!

Pre-Trip Dyeing

Pre-Trip Dyeing

So we’re here to recharge our batteries and fight the battle of the midges (some things never change…) before we head down on Friday to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH.

I LOVE this show, I used to teach at it about 8-9 years ago, and it’s been a long time since I’ve visited!  We’re both looking forward to vending there, and I’ll be teaching three classes (Combination Knitting, Knitting with Beads & Mad About Plaid) so come on by and check out our yarn and my crazy teaching!

Andy in Weaving Class at Earlham

Andy in Weaving Class at Earlham

After Great Lakes, we’ll head over to Richmond, IN to pick up Andy from her May-Term at Earlham, along with her new cat, and ModeKnit Yarn (aka, the Joad Family) will travel back to St. Paul to prepare for the Zombie Knitpocalypse next weekend and my talk on Color for the MN Knitter’s Guild later in the month.

ModeKnit Yarn on the road!

ModeKnit Yarn on the road!

Did I mention that Max’s graduation is next week, my 90-year old mother-in-law is flying in for it, and my knitting group will be meeting at my (on the market) home.

I’m looking forward to July, when things slow down…

When It Rains, It Snows (well, it IS Minnesota…)

We’ve had a few weeks of Springlike weather, and today it’ll be snowing. We’re in good company, a major storm is coming through the West and Upper Midwest, so it’s also snowing (blizzard) in Colorado, where Kathleen and I will be driving with a trailer next week.  But, that worry’s for another day…

140_sale_DR_LRIt’s been a very busy few weeks here since I last posted. We’re working on getting our home on the market for sale, with both kids (soon to be) off in college, it only makes sense for us to downsize.

Gerry’s health follows a pattern, this is the third time we’ve been through this; a new treatment is started, he does pretty well on it, there’s a slow, slow decline as the drug begins to lose it’s efficacy, and when his numbers hit a certain point they begin a new therapy.

The cancer and the drugs make him very tired, exhausted. And the pain doesn’t help. The doctors can treat the cancer, but the crushed vertebrae and brittle bones and the pain they cause are a constant in Gerry’s life. So, with all of that it seems prudent to find a one-story house that’s easier and cheaper to maintain.

Two tone wall, darker on top, lighter below the picture shelf moulding.

Two tone wall, darker on top, lighter below the picture shelf moulding.

As I tell Gerry, “I’d rather make this choice now, than have the decision taken out of our hands in a few years.” At least this way we’ll be more in control and have more time to choose the right new house for us.

It means a LOT of work! A lot of painting, fixing small things, hiring someone to fix LARGER things, and packing, packing, packing! We can’t afford to take on two mortgages, so we’ll be showing the house while we’re living in it, which means we are trying to get the home as empty as possible, while still being livable for us!

So far we’ve packed up almost all of our books, and along with all of my fabric storage & knitted samples from the past 15 years, they’ve been stored at a facility nearby. We have a lot MORE to store there, but the place is SO easy to use (the loading dock is entirely covered, elevator, excellent staff, long opening hours) that it’s not difficult to do a few runs when possible in our station wagon!

140_sale_copper_plackGerry’s mostly relegated to packing and patching plaster (nail holes, an odd crack) and shining up the copper plaque over our fireplace. He wears out pretty easily, but he keeps going, even when he’s exhausted. Max has been great, this past weekend he helped me get our living room and dining room walls painted, they look amazing!

So we wait for the weather to accommodate us so we can paint the deck and the outdoor trim on the doors, we look at homes (knowing that by the time we can get them, they’ll be snapped up by someone else!) But we can dream!

I’ve had a few big projects to finish, which coincided with a bout of bronchitis, so sitting and crocheting was about all I could manage for two weeks. I’m MORE than ready to get back to getting the house pristine, though!

Week One of #HomeSaleFixUp Down!

It’s been a crazy, busy week; on alternative days I’ve been dyeing buttloads of yarn, skeining yarn, knitting up yards and yards of fabric AND scraping, spackling, painting and cleaning up the house, room by room, to ready it for sale.

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

When I look back and the work I did this week, I’m astounded.  It did NOT feel like that much, which makes me so relieved because I was terrified that I’d be so exhausted and pain wracked that I wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING.

As I wrote in my last blog post, I think my return to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has been an extremely positive change in my life, and I DO understand that this isn’t the route that is right for everyone! It works for me, though, and I feel like a new person!

Wulfentine Flow

Wulfentine Flow

My goal this week is to finish Max’s room (I left it half-finished on Wednesday to work on the hallway and kitchen/bathroom) and to make a sizable dent on the basement dye area (I have a CRAZY cool idea for that space, which I won’t write about until I try it, to see if it works!)

And I have a dyeing goal this week of at least 80 balls of FLOW in addition to other dye finishes, we’re gearing up for our Spring/Fall shows and I remember from last year how quickly we ran out of our popular yarns (the first show!) We can’t let THAT happen again!

 

Thank You, Estrogen!

Medicine is expensive. CRAZY expensive.

In the US this is due to several reasons, not least of which is the stranglehold big Pharma has on many of our Senators & Representatives.  But that’s a discussion for another day…

Some medicines are covered by our insurance, others aren’t. It always seems to be a crap shoot, and figuring out which medication is covered has made more than one of my doctors pull their hair out.

It's my OWN damn fault!

It’s my OWN damn fault!

I took a estrogen/testosterone pill after my radical hysterectomy in 2001, and it worked like a charm.  Not having those pesky ovaries meant that my body didn’t create estrogen OR testosterone, so I needed to supplement that. I used a pill called “EstraTest” and it worked beautifully.

Through the 2000’s and up until the ACA was passed, I didn’t have steady health  insurance. Now I do (thanks, MNCare!) and my health has improved dramatically because of regular doctor visits and access to medications I need for my chronic conditions like asthma & fibromyalgia.

I take daily asthma meds, and use Vitamin D3, exercise and diet to control the fibro, but access to my acupuncturist and chiropractor, and regular checkups by my rheumatologist are priceless!

The fly in the ointment of all this health goodness was that beginning around 2007 my Estratest was no longer available/covered by insurance.  I was switched to Estodial, but it just wasn’t afforadable ($180/month, WITH insurance!)  I fell into the habit of taking one pill every three days to keep my non-estrogen symptoms at bay. Finally, I just gave up and stopped getting the prescription.

That was last Fall, and it took about 3 months for me to feel the full effect of no estrogen; exhaustion, depression, brain fog and KILLER hot flashes!

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut in Summer 2015

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut in Summer 2015

Last month I made an appt with a new Gyn (who KNITS!) and she suggested checking with Target, who carries the Estrodial at a cheaper rate. So, for the first time in a few years, I’ve been taking my estrodial daily and the change has been amazing.

I wake up feeling ABLE to work! I’m not dragging myself through each day in a pain fog! My mind is clear, and I just feel more like MYSELF!

I told Gerry, “Just wait, after a few weeks you’ll see the old Annie back!” and I was right. This week, while getting our house ready to put on the market for sale, I have worked harder painting, scraping, cleaning and spackeling than I have in years.

Yes, I’m definitely feeling all of that work — I have the aches and pain you’d expect — but after a bath and a good night’s sleep, each day I feel able to actually WORK again.

I’m reveling in this, and I have to force myself to NOT overdo it. After all, physical exhaustion leads to fibro flare ups! But with the estrodial, I’m doing two to three times as much as I would have been able to do a few months ago, and I’m NOT exhausted!

Hormone replacement therapy isn’t for everyone, I have a lot of friends who deal with their menopause symptoms with less pharmaceutical methods, and they work great for them! But having NO ovaries at all (and after discussing it with my doctor(s)) this seems like the best route for me.

You can see the fruits of my labors this week.  Tomorrow is a big dye day, and I’m NOT dreading getting up in the morning! YAY!

If you want to follow my daily DIY progress on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I’m using the hashtag #HomeSaleFixUp and posting each day that I’ve done a bit of work.

Home, Sweet, Home..?

104 lexington front-749313

Our 2007 Change of Address Card

We’re doing a lot of fixing up Chez Modesitt-Landy, because we’ve come to the decision that it’s time to put the family manse on the market.

We love our house, it really HAS been a home and a haven for us during a very difficult nine years (NINE YEARS?) It’s been nine years since we moved into this house on Feb 17th, 2007, and we’ve worked every inch of this house for all it’s worth!

But with Andy in college and Max on the way out the door, and looking toward the next 10 years, we realize that we need to downsize and eliminate as much debt as possible. We’d rather move on our own terms than be forced to make a decision because of circumstances later.

My Knitting Group on our Back Porch

My Knitting Group on our Back Porch

We’d also love to find a rambler or some house with most of the living on one floor. A basement (for the dyeing biz, which still isn’t big enough to warrant a separate facility) is also a necessity.

So yesterday I started us rolling with a general clean up of our front porch. Today Max is scraping and sanding the upstairs bathroom vanity so we can paint it to match the rest of the room. We’ll be sanding and painting our stair hall, the basement stair, the basement floor and main area walls, two of the bedrooms and the kitchen woodwork. Wow, that seems like a lot.

What a difference it makes this time around, nine years later, with a strong teen son to help with the work!

new_kit_ne_corner_2076568859_o

Our Kitchen!

When we bought the house, we had no idea that Gerry had cancer. We just knew that he had a bad, bad backache, and thought it had a lot to do with how much he hated his job in New York. We figured, “As soon as he starts doing freelance video work, or finds a job in Minnesota, he’ll be happier and in less pain!”

Wishful thinking.

Along with the Multiple Myeloma that was discovered mere weeks after our move, Gerry also had a terrible bout of recurring Ulcerative Colitis.

At that point the house had ONE working bathroom (upstairs) and the new washing machine we’d purchased wasn’t working, so I had many, many unpleasant trips to the Sel-Dale laundry those first few months.

We’d planned on updating the kitchen when we first looked at the house (that was part of our budgeting) so we altered that design to make the kitchen a bit smaller and add a ground-floor bathroom/laundry room. Later we framed in and dry walled a bathroom in the basement (best shower in the house!) and my office down there, so we HAVE made some nice improvements!

We’re hoping all of this will help with the house’s value. We know, though, that we purchased at the top of the market in late 2006 (damn!) but we’re hoping we can get at least what we paid for it back when we bought it.

So whenever I have free time over the next weeks, I’ll be taping, scraping, painting and cleaning.  And looking for our perfect next-phase-of-life house.  With a nice, unfinished basement…

Winter Wonderland

Max & Friend

Max & Friend

I love Winter.

I know many folks don’t, and I don’t love EVERY aspect of it, but ever since I was a kid I really thrived during the Winter months. I’d hunker down and read books (I was the kind of kid who would read from sunup to bedtime if allowed!) and then I run outside and build huge snow forts with my brother and our friends.

We lived in Toledo, which gets a fair amount of snow. We get the same kind of lake effect snow as Buffalo, NY, just not quite so much of it. Usually.

So Winter here in Minnesota, although annoying at times, is something I love.

Last night I loved it even more!

Ice Castle

Ice Castle

There are a LOT of Winter activities up here; we have the great gift of KNOWING that there will be snow pretty much whenever we need it in the Winter months, so — Minnesotans being outdoorsy & athletic types of folks — there are many festivals and events to make the season glow.

One that I’d heard of, but hadn’t participated in, was the Luminarie Loppet.  I was under the misconception that it was for cross-country skiiers only, so I never bothered to register.

Finally, this year, I discovered that the candle-lit course around Lake Of The Isles in Minneapolis is for WALKERS as well as skiiers!

Suspended Ice Sculpture

Suspended Ice Sculpture

The registration fee was steep for us, it’s no secret that with one kid in college, one on the way and a single income we’re stretched pretty far. So the best way around that barrier is volunteering!

I signed myself and Max up to go hand out KIND bars at a booth on the route, and thus earned us the glow-sticks that are required to traipse around the course.

The Setup

Minneapolis is the “City of Lakes” because it’s full of – well – lakes!  In the Summer they’re full of swimmers and boaters, but in the Winter they freeze over and all kinds of sports take place on them! Lake of the Isles is in a beautiful area of Minneapolis, and there are two small islands in the lake (hence the name.)

loppet glowsticks hatIn the week before the event, volunteers for the Loppet pull water from the lake and fill 50-gallon pails to freeze.  Then other volunteers take the huge, round “ice cubes” and drill holes in them to place a candle.  (This is not unlike what I did for Max’s Bar Mitzvah a few years ago, just on a MUCH larger scale!)

These luminaries are stacked in various ways to create sculptures, and artists from around the area also create beautiful ice-formed creations that are strewn about the course.  Then folks who’ve registered for the event pick up their glow-sticks, and walk (or ski) around the entire course.

There are various stations to get hot chocolate, listen to live music, have a beer, or watch fire dancers! One of the islands is turned into a sort of ‘fairy land’ with a lot of sculptures and lights in the trees.  The amount of work that goes into this is staggering, almost all of it volunteer!

Max Volunteers

Max Volunteers

Max and I showed up early to see if we could help, and they put us to work assembling garbage & recycling containers and putting them about. Then we went off to have dinner and returned to our assigned location.

Our job was to ‘prep’ about 100 cartons of KIND bars, which we did with a very nice and funny “Brand Ambassador” from KIND. After we’d finished our work, we took the time to stroll as much of the course as I was able (walking can sometimes be hard for me, sometimes the cold makes my fibro act up) and then we watched the fire dancers for a while, then came home.

At many points around the lake braziers are set up with hay bales surrounding, and there are fires and companionship wherever you want it.

Max and I, Loppet Fireside

Max and I, Loppet Fireside

It was a glorious night. It was so special, so lovely, and so wonderful to do it with my son. Both of us are very aware that after this year he may not live at home again, and I think we relish every moment.

If you are near the Twin Cities, take part in the Luminarie Loppet next year!  There are also MANY, MANY other Loppet activities (races, etc.) but those are too athletic for me! I just like the lights!

Darkness, meet Dawn

2015-04-16 12.01.56

On Set In Loveland, CO March 2015

Hey Folks!

I’m writing the post that I’d been hesitating to write for over a year. [deep breath]

It’s been a pretty hard 14-month period, but also an amazingly great period. A dull twilight punctuated with glimmers of pure white starlight, and dark moments, too.

The Good

Andy gets a tattoo!

Andy gets a tattoo!

The family’s healthy—for the most part— we have a home, heat, food, running water and as much love as any family could need! I have exceptional friends, excellent work, beautiful yarns to dye and sell and one of the best business partners I could ask for.

The kids are beautiful and thriving, Andy’s doing well in her 2nd year at Earlham, Max is applying to various colleges (c’mon Hampshire!)

The Bad

Max Gerry Gustavus Tour

Max, Gerry & Jasper on a College Tour

Gerry’s health, which has fluctuated between very good and scary bad since his initial diagnosis with Multiple Myeloma in 2007, has been on a bit of a downswing. We’ve experienced worse, and as we experience the loss of friends with this disease on a regular basis we realize how fortunate we are, but it’s a constant mental and emotional burden.  But our dealing-with-ongoing-chronic/terminal-illness muscles have been honed, and we generally have a pretty good attitude about it.

I can honestly STILL say that the lessons that cancer has taught all of us—mostly about ourselves and our love—are worth learning.

The Embarrassingly Bad

In November 2014 I tried to kill myself, and I’m still dealing with the fallout.

I wasn’t depressed (well, no more than usual, like my father and many other members of my family, I suffer from depression and treat it with prozac, eating well and exercise)

I WAS, however, on a drug that caused me to behave in a way that was absolutely foreign to me.

Lyrica Blues

In August 2014 I was diagnosed with Shingles, and it was a bad case. The pain was overwhelming, causing me to be in and out of the ER several times. As part of my recovery, I was offered Gabapentine.  Having used it before for Fibromyalgia, I knew it did little more for me than make me dopey.

So then I was offered Lyrica, and the difference it made in my pain was outstanding. Not just the shingles, but my fibro pain as well. It was as if Annie from 5 years ago was back and I felt like a million bucks. Until I didn’t.

One evening, after a VERY silly and unimportant argument with Gerry (seriously, we argue as every couple does, this was NOT a big one, just silly…) I found myself sitting in the living room with a fully bottle Gerry’s pain medication that I’d picked up from the drug store that day, and without really knowing what I was doing, I poured a big handfull out and swallowed it.

It was surreal. It was almost an out-of-body experience. I still can’t quite believe that I did it. It was almost as if I were watching a movie of someone doing what I was doing.

Gerry was upstairs, the kids were out of the house, and something in my brain just said, “Hey, take a bunch of those pills why don’t you…?” So I did.

I told Gerry immediately. He didn’t understand at first, but when he got it, we were off to the hospital.

And here’s where it got interesting.

This guy would like a walk, too!

Help with dyeing

I expected to be questioned pretty thoroughly, perhaps admitted to a psych ward or something (the only thing I have to go on with this are Lifetime movies.)

But when I explained to the nurse admitting me that I was on Lyrica, and I had NO idea what happened, I just suddenly had 30 strong painkillers traveling down my throat.

And her response? “Oh, Lyrica. Yeah. We see that a lot.”

I was sent to an exam room where a doctor and nurse came in to give me charcoal to drink (I chugged two bottles in record time, good to see my college education paying off) and, when I explained to them what had happened, they replied in unison, “Oh, Lyrica, yeah. We see that a lot.”

They didn’t even have a social worker come to talk to me, they chatted, and on my promise to see my primary care doc the next day, I was released.

The next morning I did see my doc, we worked on a schedule to taper myself off of Lyrica, and I also saw a therapist for a few months.

Since Then

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut!

Pure Happiness; Gerry, Jasper & My Bike

I had never had such a strong urge to do myself harm before that night, and I haven’t had an urge like that since. Amen.

The fact that I DID have that urge is frightening; obviously there was something inside of me that felt entirely overwhelmed and full of despair. But it was the Lyrica that crystallized those feelings, that made them solid and compelled me to act on them.

I haven’t discussed this with the world in general (until now – hi world!)  My good friends, family and some of my customers have known, though. I’ve had several folks come forward to tell me they’ve had the SAME experience with Lyrica.

I’m not saying that Lyrica should be banned, but I do think that it can be a very dangerous drug, I’m proof of that. The entire time I’ve had Fibromyalgia I’ve worked hard to deal with that ongoing pain with diet changes and lots of exercise.  My instincts in this were more right than I could know, I’ll continue in this vein as long as I can.

Why Now?

So why am I telling the world this story now? I’m not entirely sure.

I feel as though there’s been a dark cloud on the horizon since this episode in Nov 2014. As much as I tried to fight through it, I would wake in the early morning hours gripped with terror (unreasonable fears; financial ruin, Gerry’s demise, something happening to the kids, etc.) and it’s been a long road coming back from the fear surrounding this episode.

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Ft. Myers Beach Escape, Feb 2015

It’s just been in the past few weeks that I feel I’m finally passing out of this dark phase. I knew it would happen, I knew the light would shine again and I’d feel more like my best self. But it’s been a lengthy process of dealing with guilt for the fear I caused Gerry, anger at myself, and fear that I’d broken something that couldn’t be fixed.

But light is filtering through again. Many folks have written to ask why I’m not blogging as much, how come I’m not on Facebook as much as I used to be; this is the answer.

Last year I talked about my experience in front of a Multiple Myeloma group leaders at a conference . Lyrica is a drug that is commonly used within the MM community as shingles is often seen among these patients.

After I’d heard Lyrica praised over and over at the conference (and it IS a remarkable pain med!)  I wanted folks to hear from someone who had personally experienced the, “may cause suicidal thoughts or actions” warning first hand.

ModeKnit Yarn Cables

Thank Heaven for Knitting

As many of you know, I’m no shrinking violet and can speak in front of a room, but this was a terrifying experience; admitting that I’d done something so stupid and potentially harmful to my family. But I feel it was an important thing to do, and heard later from someone who’d had a similar experience in the group but had never talked about it.

So now you know.

I’d like to say, “Now let’s just forget this ever happened, and go back to life as it used to be!” and I’m trying to do that as much as I can. But I’ve stood on the cliff, I kicked a stone off and in an almost trance-like state, I followed it over. But I caught a branch on the way down and didn’t go splat.

ModeKnit Yarn_A Lovely Thing

A Lovely Thing, “My Year In A Colorway”

The reality of this experience had darkened everything I did for months.

I’ve been adding touches of black to many of our ModeKnit colors (which works well in many cases) but finally I feel as though I’m able to see many colors as they really are, pure and bright.

As much as I understand that there will be periods of light and dark in the future, I’m feeling more hopeful about moving forward than I have in – well – 14 months. Thanks for sticking with me.

MKY_all_the_colors

The Holiday Cycle

andy_alison_inside_lav

So wonderful to have the girl home, even if only for a few days!

I generally feel some kind of let-down on the day after a big day, and Thanksgiving is no different.

I think it’s all the cooking, cleaning, organizing and trying to get the troops sitting at the table at the same time that is so wearying. I also think I’m afflicted with an early case of empty next syndrome. I realize that this time next year both kids will be away at college – and after that, who knows?

Coming from an incredibly disfunctional (and at times absolutely toxic) family environment, I’ve worked hard to keep my own family holidays as low key and – well – small as possible.

It always seemed to be at the larger family events that someone would take joy in pushing someone else’s buttons; I’m afraid I got a lifetime’s worth of that at a young age.

Small and quiet works well for us.

And then I worry that our holiday will be TOO small next year.

Someone's been helping me with the skeining...

Someone’s been helping me with the skeining…

I love my family, and they love me, but somehow during the holidays there generally comes a blue period when I foolishly begin to doubt my abilities as a parent.

It makes me wonder if my own mom (and her mom, etc.) felt the same at the holidays. I miss my mom (and cousin Jan) all through the year, holidays are one of the hardest times, though.

And, as it’s been a bit colder (after a LOVELY early November) I haven’t had a chance to get out on my bike for the past week.  Astounding how that rocks my world. I know a good amount of the ‘blues’ is due to inactivity. So it’s time to do something about it.

This guy would like a walk, too!

This guy would like a walk, too!

We’re incredibly lucky here in St. Paul, we have a wonderful network of Rec Centers, and for the low cost of $30/year we can visit ANY of them whenever we want for gym time, pool time, or to take a yoga or zumba class (those last have an additional fee, but it’s pretty low!)

So I’m setting out to renew my membership again, so I can try to get some regular exercise to take the place of my daily bike rides.

I’m lucky that right up the street, about a mile away, is a great rec center with a pool and a sauna. Kathleen and I have discussed finding a Zumba class, so maybe we’ll be doing that, too!

My mom used to say, “When you feel blue, take a walk or take a nap.” and I think right now I need the equivalent of a nice long walk every day. Maybe a nice, long walk down to the Jimmy Lee Rec Center?

red yarn settingIn working news, I have SO much yarn to dye in the coming months.

The good part is that I’ve been scheduling the dye sessions, so I’m not working haphazardly (as I might have last year with smaller orders).

I’m trying to work in a very planned way to dye all the yarn that is required for a some pretty big orders, (and the nonstop fiber shows in the late Spring & early Summer of 2016 we have coming up!)

Feeble is a State of Mind

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.23.02 PMYesterday ModeKnit Yarn was at the Fall Fiber Fest, and we had an exceptional time!

MKY's new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

MKY’s new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

Sonic Green Gradient Set

Sonic Green Gradient Set

This is a lovely MN-centric fiber show in Hopkins, at the Eisenhower Center, and I just love it! We visited last year as customers (and came away with some beautiful yarn and books!) but this year we applied and were accepted as vendors, YAY!

And I was exhausted. Worn out, hurting, totally wrung out. But I tried to own it, I accepted that it was because I’d spent two long days in the dye room, and worked hard not to see my physical weakness as an indication on my worth.

Sometimes it takes a few days to bring my energy levels back to normal. Mentally, this admission is great progress for me.

Kathleen and I have centered this year of our business on developing our Fiber Show “chops”.  Indy Yarn Dyers have a few options to grow their business; some choose to focus on wholesale to yarn shops, some choose to focus on online sales, some do clubs and some do fiber shows.

In truth, just about everyone does a combination of these, and we’re no exception.

kathleen_annie_station_wagonBut I’d be lying if I said that Kathleen and I don’t enjoy the Yarn Festivals a bit more than the other segments of our business. I think the reason is twofold: it allows us to personally interact with our customers, which both of us love SO much! And it allows Kathleen and I to spend time together, and at the heart of our business is the fact that we ARE good friends. So we love the festivals! And we love a road trip!

This was a local show, which meant that Kathleen leapt out of bed before 4am, packed up her truck, then zoomed over to my house to pick me up and we were over to the venue by a bit after seven am. Where she got the energy, I don’t know! I was dragging my sorry tail all day! Thank heaven lovely Karen Ryan showed up and helped us set up our booth, she was an angel!

2015-11-09 15.36.58The two days leading up to the festival I’d been dying a HUGE amount of yarn (40+ skeins a day) so I understand my exhaustion, but I still felt a trifle guilty sitting in the booth most of the time (perhaps the guilt was because I cadged the chair from the knitting guild? Don’t tell them…)

I was given pain pills when I first was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but I’ve really struggled NOT to take them. As a matter of fact, I still have the same bottle I was given several years ago (probably time to get that refilled) because I generally only take them on high pain days – which tend to be Festival days – like yesterday! And allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the relief for a few hours.

Because the weather’s been so mild this November, I’ve been able to ride my bike a nice amount each day, and that’s really helped with my pain. When I think of where I was a year ago (still fighting shingles) I feel like the luckiest person alive!

BRAHMIN MOTH SHAWL

Brahmin Moth

Brahmin Moth

I just released a new pattern, one that I’m REALLY excited about! I love working garter mitered squares, so when I was inspired by the beautiful Brahmin (or “Owl”) Moth, I thought mitering was the way to go!

The design has had three major iterations, there’s been a LOT of knitting to get to the final version of this shawl.  I had samples knit in two additional colorways, the final garment should take approx 100g of each of three colors in fingering weight yarn. Of course, I feel our ModeWerk Fingering is the most beautiful yarn you could use!

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

The pattern’s been tech edited, and it’s up for sale at Ravelry and over at ModeKnit Yarn. One caveat to mention is that the final “V” shape that joins the two ‘wings’ is slightly different in the final pattern than it appears in two of the samples.*

Over at ModeKnit Yarn we have a kit ready for you to order, just let us know what three colors you’d like to use, and well put them together for you!

(*I altered the original text so that no Color B is used in that part, which could raise the amount of Color B required over 100g)