We Start TOMORROW!

Today was lab day, the day we go to the Health East Cancer Center and get a line put into my port so they can draw blood for various blood tests.  Then an appointment with the nurse practitioner who works with my med oncologist, where we got the surprising (and VERY welcome) news that tomorrow morning I will begin chemo.

The regime that I’ll be on is, basically, the same one that Mayo wanted to put me on.  I’ll be in the hospital for 5 days, during which I’ll be receiving pretty strong, high-dose chemo which they will be monitoring (hence my 5 days in the hospital.)  I plan on bringing my own fan (it gets REALLY HOT in the hospital, I’ll need some fresh air.)

I’m eager to get started, and I’m also terrified, but definitely more eager than terrified.

In so many ways, this is the best of all worlds.

No, it’s not Mayo.  But I WILL be given the strong CODOX=M/IVAC chemo that Dr. T. was proposing, which should work better for my specific cancer and the way that it’s manifesting itself.  I’ll be in the hospital just 6 miles from my house, and when I’m out of the hospital I’ll be HOME (which is lovely!)

I don’t know if we’d even be talking about this stronger chemo if I hadn’t gone to Mayo for a second opinion, so even with the stress and heartache last week, it seems that going down to Rochester was, ultimately, a very positive move.

The stress of the travel and the stress of the insurance snafu last week have left me exhausted, though.  Absolutely shattered, just SO tired that I feel as though I’m sleepwalking.  My body and my soul need rest, so perhaps these five days in the hospital will be a bit of a respite for me?

I had signed up for a class at the Textile Center that’s due to start tomorrow; Wearable Art.  It’s a class for women over 55, but I know they were working to fill up the class, so I’m not certain how strict they’re being with the age limit.  If it’s possible, I’m going to see if Andy might be able to take the class in lieu of me.  Every Tuesday for the foreseeable future will have me undergoing some kind of medical appointment; chemo or testing or something along those lines.

And, of course, the most important thing is to get the chemo GOING, and to do well with my recover weeks between the chemo.  Time to stock up on salmon and spinach!

 

A Uniform

Uniforms are something I don’t have a lot of experience with.

Just a bit of hand sewing to go!

I never wore one in school, even in gym class we were able to wear whatever we wanted (that had changed a few years earlier, much to everyone’s great joy!) and my few forays into the fast food industry in my teen years were about as close as I got to life in a uniform.

But now I want one.  I want a Chemo Uniform.

I want something that’s easy to put on, take off, wash and just NOT THINK ABOUT.

Perfection would be a pretty linen dress that’s a big apron with lots of pockets. So I made it.  I may make another (in a different fabric) because this is going to be going on for more than a few months, and I just don’t want to have to spend time deciding what to wear each day.

So after pondering many images on pinterest, considering the important elements that matter to me, I pulled out some Laura Ashley fabric that I’d had squirreled away for almost 20 years and got to work in the wee hours.

Sleep comes around 9 or 10pm, and I enjoy it.  Then around 2 or 3 I wake, around 4 I get incredibly uncomfortable in my bed (laying can make my back ache, especially now that there are MORE tumors that have appeared in my hips and tailbone) so I get up and sit, read, knit, just change my position.

This morning my position was at the dining room table, sewing away on a machine I purchased last year at Stitches Midwest, and I finished my little dress in just a few hours.  All that time working in costume shops pays off when I want to whip up a new dress idea!

I’m gravitating to blue, which is my favorite color. I have SO MUCH BLUE in my box of fabrics, and I have ideas for more dresses and for a few pair of pallazzo pants which are easy to wear and easier to sew up.  I have a pair that I made in an exquisite rayon fabric back in 1990 that look pretty much as they did the day I sewed them.

Quality fabric is NEVER a mistake, buy the best fabric you can afford and you’ll have a piece you can wear for years!  If cancer’s given me anything so far, it’s time to stop and contemplate things I’d like to do, and realize that if I don’t do them now, I may not get another chance to.

A very dear friend, Jolanta, who some of you may know as the “bead and jewelry woman” from Stitches Midwest, sent me a care package yesterday with beautiful wafers, some chocolate AND a gorgeous Lapis Lazuli necklace.  Blue, and calm, and lovely.  Perfect for chemo therapy.

Fear Returns
The fear of cancer is always here, but the fear of BONE PAIN haunts me like my insane fear of flying, stinging insects.  I just received a note from MyChart (HealthEast’s portal) that I’ll be getting another lumbar puncture on Tuesday morning. This is a surprise, and I’m sure we’ll be spending a good deal of the day on Monday explaining that I WILL NOT HAVE THE PROCEDURE if they don’t include some anesthetic.

The place where I’ve been scheduled to get it is exactly where Gerry went for his first, with NO anesthetic, and it was absolutely horrible.  The two procedures I had along these lines this past week were both under anesthetic, and even then THEY hurt like hell for a few days after.

I keep running into folks who say, “Oh, I didn’t even FEEL it!” and I wonder at their strength. I know I’m a baby about a lot of things, this is one of them.

Another Class
On a MUCH brighter note, I signed up for another class at the MN Textile Center.

We are SO fortunate here in Minneapolis/St. Paul to have a wealth of museums, fibre and fabric resources and an AMAZING textile center.  The class I took in rug hooking in the Spring was SO exciting for me, so enjoyable.  It’s funny, I felt myself becoming weaker, more tired, with so much pain as the class went on, but I LOVED the class so much.

Now I’ll be taking a class called, “Wearable Art” and I’m really looking forward to utilizing some of the lovely fabrics I’ve been collecting over the past 30 years. Andy will be accompanying me to class as I’m not allowed to drive (too many drugs in my system.)

I’m looking forward to being in the class with Andy, who is beginning to find a love of stitching and fibery things.  Perhaps that’s something else that cancer will give me, a chance to connect with my kid on a whole new level!

I’ve never been shy about explaining how Gerry’s cancer, as scary and terrible as it was/is, was in many ways a gift to our family.  We don’t hesitate to tell each other we love each other, we know that time is never on our side.

So this morning I contemplate a nice amount of hand-sewing to finish my dress, and I ponder how lucky I am in the midsts of such a scary shit-storm of malignancy.  Please don’t think I’m a Pollyanna, I’m having a rough time dealing with many aspects of this journey I’m on, but I KNOW how ungrateful I’d be to NOT recognize how fortunate I am, too!

Fundraiser
We still haven’t heard whether I’m approved for SSDI, but I’m crossing my fingers.  Until then, life is a bit scary because so much of my projected income this year was going to be from classes I was going to teach at various fiber shows.  Add to that the medical expenses (it feels as though every week I’m dropping another $150 or $200 for copays and not-entirely-covered procedures.

If I DO quality for SSDI, the kicker is that it will be at a pretty low rate since I’ve been self employed while caregiving for Gerry for the past 12 years.  In our Social Security System, women who care for family members NEVER get a break, and it stinks.

Compared to what this adventure MIGHT be without insurance, we are lucky.  But it’s terrifying to see the bank balance go in one direction when I’ve been so used to seeing it rise and fall (like everyone else does, I’m sure!)

When I mentioned that I wanted to do a knit along, I hadn’t really thought it through – especially not as a fundraiser!  But the amazing folks at Mason Dixon Knitting (Hi Kay!! Hi Ann!) picked up on this and put it out there as a quick and easy fundraiser!

That was absolutely brilliant, and so many folks have responded by purchasing the Split Cable Wimple Pattern (currently $4.00 until I start my Chemo)  Thank you to EVERYONE, I can only say how humbled and grateful I am to each of you, and to the exceptionally kind folks who have also donated to my Paypal Fundraiser.  I feel crass even talking about it, but YOU are helping me pay my co-pays.  YOU are helping us put gas in the car for doctor visits.  THANK YOU.

Waiting Game

Today was the Lumbar Puncture, and it went quite well.  Thank you, to all of you, who sent me positive vibes and love, I’m certain that I was surrounded with so much positive energy that it couldn’t HELP but increase the chances for a good outcome.  You are all stellar, take a bow, star-stuff folks!

Waiting Room Knitting; Setting up for Mitered Square #4 in ModeWerk Fingering

As usual, the nurses and docs at St.  John’s were terrific, my only complaint was after the procedure I was STARVING (thank you, Dexamethasone…) and I was about to eat someone’s arm off before they got me the bagel I’d ordered AN HOUR BEFORE.

After a procedure, like my port placement or the LP today, they allow you to order a light meal since these are fasting procedures.  The food’s always been crazy fast, but today I couldn’t get a bagel for love nor money. You do NOT get between a woman on Dex and her bagel, it’s just NOT DONE..

Bone Marrow Biopsy
Tomorrow I’m at a new place, Woodwinds in Woodbury, MN.

Working on Mitered Square #4 in the BULKY blanket. Colors: Pearl, Platinum & A Lovely Thing

I’ll be under sedation for a Bone Marrow Biopsy, and then I’ll be home resting the remainder of the day.  Wait until THEY hear me roaring for food after my procedure!

Friday is my last diagnostic test, it’s a PET Scan back at St.  Johns (this is the test I screwed up on Tuesday when I ATE before instead of fasting!)  I’m really thrilled they were able to get me in so quickly.

I hoped that if I’d be able to get the test done THIS WEEK, then next Tuesday when I meet with my medical oncologist he’ll have the info he needs to decide which chemo drugs to mix up for me.

So I’ll be waiting around for a few days.  But, at it’s heart, that’s what a great deal of life is, and I’m prepared with needles, yarn and several amazing audio books.  

Life = time, that’s really all that we get.  We can choose to spend it happily or in great frustration. Circumstances can make this choice INDESCRIBABLY DIFFICULT, but at some point there’s a moment when we can choose to decide, “This mind set is making me sadder than I need to be, let me try to understand it and perhaps change it.”

For me, knitting is the tool that allows me to move from a frustrated, can-hardly-stand-to-be-in-a-waiting-room person to a woman who is just a tiny bit happy to have a few moments to sneak in a couple of beautiful rows and make myself very happy.

I’m VERY fortunate to be starting the FIFTH version of a new pattern.  It’s a baby blanket that is based, loosely, on the Fibonacci Number.  Mostly it’s just a way to do more mitering using interesting colors juxtaposed against white.

I’m re-knitting this project SO much because I want it to be a Universal Pattern, meaning it can be used with ANY of our bases, ANY weight yarn, and still get a nice result.  In the current incarnation of this pattern I’m using Pearl as our neutral contrast, but the main color ISN’T one of our FLOWS or Variegated Colors.

Blankety-Blank-Blank
I’m using a blank (basically, a large swatch weighing 100 grams) that I’ve hand painted in a design (in this case, I drew a few mountains and a valley, so the whole thing is in shades of green and blue and purple.)

Working on Mitered Square #5 off of an “artistic” blank.

I’m VERY disappointed that I  didn’t photograph this “masterpiece” of dyeing, It really WAS a lovely blank!  If we end up marketing these, I think I want to present them already in balls, but with a photo of the original blank on the package.

Since I knit/dye two blanks worked together, I can’t just sell the blank, that would be TOO hard to work off of (two strands??) for the average knitter.  Hell, it would be very awkward for me!

Essentially, it would mean ripping out the blank as I worked it.  But, in addition to the yarn I would be working with, there would be an equivalent amount of yarn to roll into a SECOND ball as the blank yarn was knit.  This is just too confusing and would be bound to cause a lot of knots and tsuris!

The way I knit our blanks (yes, I knit them, I don’t purchase pre-knit ones) I put TWO strands together for the sock weight bases, which means when I dyed this blank I ended up with two matching balls of yarn.  In this pattern, there are 2 balls of color, and 1 ball of neutral.  I alternate the colors with a neutral, using 2/3 highly colored & 1/3 neutral color yarn in the project, I think that gives a really nice balance.

I’ll work on one color yarn-from-blank ball from the inside out, then switch to the second ball working in the opposite direction, the colors should ebb and flow nicely.  Well, that’s the plan.  I still haven’t gotten to the BLUE part of the yarn, THAT’S what I’m waiting for!

Another Fibonacci Spiral in ModeWerk DK Colors; Cuckoo Wasp Flow, Coal

I have to say, though, the colors really ARE lovely!  But I’m such a sucker for green and blue and purple that I’d love it no matter what.

So scattered through this post are a few shots of the piece so far, I’m still in the “green” area of the painting, I can’t wait to see how the whole balance of color changes as I move into the blue and purple areas!

If it seems like a lot of work for a very SIMPLE pattern, it is.  My own mind is a bit scattered right now, and re-knitting something I’ve done several times is just about my speed.  You can learn SO MUCH when you redo a design, and I’m hoping that this pattern will have very helpful tips that will improve future mitering projects for the knitter.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that GARTER STITCH is such a lovely fabric, it makes me feel at peace with little or no effort.  Excellent radiation brain knitting!

Lovely, uncomplicated Garter Stitch Fabric. Colors: Pearl, Platinum & A Lovely Thing

The Tumor Sleeps Tonight
But today I learned that yarn and patterns and ME, myself, haven’t been the only things waiting for something to happen.

During each radiation treatment Xrays were used to align the laser for best zapping power

Apparently my tumor has been a sneaky pete, waiting in the wings, hiding in places where only an MRI would find it.  I can’t be TOO angry at the tumor, after all, I made it.  And I’m enough of a crafty woman to appreciate a good (artistic?) creation.

The tumor has grown straight (well, not really in-a-line-straight) through my T10 vertebra and is going into my T9. There’s also some growth to the right, which I can feel, which is the weirdest thing in the world.

No one has an idea HOW long the danged thing’s been growing.  How long have I HAD Lymphoma?

And, apropos of nothing, I keep imagining my tumor growing like Little Groot. Probably the absolute LAST kind of imaging I need to do as I “think” this tumor away, but I can’t stop. It just LOOKED like Groot in the MRI.  I’m a nut.

Baby Groot Has Been Patient

Gerry wonders if I EVER had Fibromyalgia, that perhaps it was Lymphoma all along.

I’ve been exhausted, in pain, but nothing that seemed extra “tumor-esque”  And it took an MRI to even see this tumor, a couple of Xrays and a CT Scan didn’t really show anything.

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks receiving radiation treatments to shrink the spine tumor. Even though the treatments are done, the little rays are still zapping around in there, doing their work!  Will they be successful? We’ll have to WAIT.

I’m trying to come to peace with the fact that I was clueless (on a conscious level) of something so huge happening within in my body.  I think I am better at discerning trouble in Gerry, whether a return of his dreaded M-Spike or an impending, unexpected Heart Condition, than I am in seeing/feeling/knowing that something is amiss in my own body.

Messy little first attempt
Colors: Guava FLOW and Pearl

Caregiver is a hard role to slough off.  Patient is a harder role to inhabit.  Thankfully I have my costumes picked out for me, and I have my waiting room knitting!

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…

 

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)

Moving More, Eating – well, just about the same…

fat bike signWhen Andy (née Hannah) was a baby the Rosie O’Donnell Show was one of our favorite mommy-baby morning routines.  One year she promoted a campaign to “Move More, Eat Less” and it was a good thing for a lot of moms like me, with new babies and brand new areas where fat had appeared.

I’ve never been thin, but I’ve been thinner.  Actually, there was one time in 1984 when I was a size 10 for about 32 minutes, but that is long gone.  Amazing, though, how many pieces of clothing one can buy in a 32 minute time period…

I’ve always fought my weight. I’ve dieted, not-dieted, starved, binged, exercised like a dervish, sat on the sofa for weeks on end (my “Gilbert Grape period”) and, although I have to admit there were differences in weight, nothing was permanent.

At this point in my life I’m not expecting to every be thin, but I’ve been striving for the past 5 years to be HEALTHY.  My benchmark is to be able to ride my bike for 7 miles a day. This seems to be the magic mileage that allows me to have good movement and reduce the Fibromyalgia pain, and it’s very doable.

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

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

If you’re someone who doesn’t ride a bike, you might think that 7 miles sounds like a lot. It’s not – really! I worked up to it. I remember when riding 2 miles to my son’s baseball game was a challenge! But it only took about 2 months of daily riding for 7 miles to feel like a walk in the park.

And, since bike riding is seven times more efficient than walking, it IS like a one-mile walk in the park!

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where biking is encouraged. Our city & state government here in St. Paul, MN, is behind directives to promote ALL kinds of physical movement. We have an excellent ‘nice ride’ bike share program, and our bike paths, share-ways and greenways are legendary! Yeah, riding in the winter can be cold, but once you’re well covered (hands & faces are the most important) then a winter ride is really VERY nice! Just watch out for that ice!

However, since starting ModeKnit Yarns with my partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, I haven’t made the time to get out and ride as much as I used to.

I get overwhelmed with the amount of physical work involved in dyeing hundreds of skeins of yarn, and I talk myself into believing I don’t have the time for cycling. Add to that my inability to get my Xolaire shots for 3 months this Summer (Damn you, Health Partners!) and there was a huge period where riding my bike was NOT as accessible as it had been before.

Spessartine Flow

But I’ve made a promise to myself that I will increase my cycling (and I’m back on the Xolaire…)

Being on my bike makes me happy (ENDORPHINS!) and it really does help decrease the amount of muscle and nerve pain that haunts me on a daily basis. It’s non weight-bearing, so I can bike without wrenching my knee

(Damn you, high school basketball!)

Now I just have to keep convincing myself that the hour-a-day I take from my busy schedule is WELL worth the time. It’s really true – when you run a business, it’s very hard to take time for YOU!

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles (based on a Tissot Painting)

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles

So it’s Submission Season, which means a lot of swatching, sketching, and a whole bunch of thinking. As much as I feel guilty when I take time from the dyeing biz (see above) I know that getting a good submission pack together is important for several reasons;

  • I need to stay visible and pertinent as a designer
  • I enjoy the income from designing (Damn you, mortgage!)
  • When I’m permitted by the magazine to use ModeKnit Yarn, it’s a great editorial benefit to our company.

Win, win, win!

But, like the cycling, I need to take time out to actually DO the knitting, swatching, etc. It’s so easy to just put my head down and work, work, work; endlessly dyeing,  skeining and updating the website. But if I don’t put in the non-dyeing time, the business ultimately suffers.

Who knew that at age 54 I would be able to learn so many lessons about using my time wisely!

I’m Shorter.

The last time I went to my doctor and was measured, I was a full inch shorter than the last time.  ONE INCH! This was a different doctor’s office, and I’m certain there are some discrepancies in how hard the nurse pushes down that little metal arm on top of my head to get the reading, but an inch is a LOT!

So it’s not so much that I’ve gained weight this year, as that I’ve lost height. And it shows! Clothes seem to fit differently, my own ‘personal space’ just feels different.

It’s frustrating as I’ve been eating pretty intelligently this year (although never enough leafy greens, always working on that!) but I haven’t been cycling as much as I have in the past.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.48.09 AMOr maybe I have.

I just made a chart of my total miles per month (I’ve been keeping track of all these numbers via Daily Mile since 2010) and it looks like my cycling has actually INCREASED in the past few years.

Wow.  I guess I am cycling a lot.  Those 4 and 7 mile rides really add up!

That doesn’t change the fact that clothes are fitting weirdly (not tight, just weird) so I have NO idea what’s going on…  It’s so odd when a portion of your personality’s been based on being tall, and suddenly it seems you’re one of the short ones in the room!

Well, regardless, I’m off for a long bike ride today. I’ve earned it, damnit, and I deserve it!

Brahmin MothYesterday I did something I haven’t done in months, I biked over to St. Kates and sat on the porch, knitting.

I’m finishing up a sample garment that we’ll be releasing in December, a scarf (shawl?) I’ve based on the beautiful Brahmin Moth.

I’ll reveal the images later, but it’s one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever designed.  I’m really excited about it, as soon as it’s tech edited I’ll have some folks test knit it, then I’ll release it!

Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo Wasp

I often get inspiration for colors from insects, they’re so beautiful! While looking through a bunch of moth and butterfly images I ran across this amazing moth, and knew I had to create a garment that reflected the stunning contrast and tone gradations.

I’m terrified of wasps, but one of the most beautiful creatures on earth is the Cuckoo Wasp, which was the basis for one of our colorways in our FLOW club last year.

I was so excited to find this baby online (and NOT in my house) and it was thrilling to be able to match the colors in yarn!

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn in ModeWerk Fingering

Here’s some of the Cuckoo Wasp yarn already dyed, ready to be rolled into balls.  I knit all the fabric up, then dye it (so I can place the long-color gradients) and then roll it into balls.

Yes, it’s labor intensive, but it’s worth it for the beautiful FLOW effect!

I’d be interested in hearing from you what color inspirations you see in your life!  Please add a link in comments to an animal, landscape, food, book – anything that gives you a ‘color shiver!’

I must have been VERY bad

In a past life I must have REALLY pissed off someone – or maybe in this life – because the pain I’ve had the last few days is crazy.  A sore back sent me to bed early on Tues, where the pain became SO bad at 3am that Gerry said we should go to the ER.

Test, test, test.

Test, test, test.

Apparently I had had a kidney stone. Different tests showed that there’d been one, and the fact they couldn’t see it on the scan led the doctor to say that I’d passed it. “The pain should go away now, just rest for a few days and make an appt to see your own GP.”

But the pain didn’t go away, it got worse.

And added to this pain was an incredible skin sensitivity (think of how your skin feels during a bad flu, then add poison ivy pain to that) and I had a lot to talk about with my doc on Thursday. As she was examining the part of my back that hurt the worst, in the general location of my right kidney, I half joked, “It couldn’t be shingles, could it?”

Yes, yes it could.

My constant companion

My constant companion

I’m on the watch for shingles all the time, but for Gerry, not for me. Because of his stem cell transplant and various drugs he’s on, he’s more susceptible to develop shingles. There has been at least one time when I caught the symptoms on him just in the nick of time (earning raised eyebrows and a smile from our oncologist) At the time it was taken care of with a quick course of Valtrex.

But these shingles had a bit of time to settle in, and they are intense.  Everything you’ve heard in those TV ads is true. I have so much pain that I’m nauseous.

The nausea makes it hard to keep the pain meds down. It’s a vicious circle, and I’m in the center of it.  I haven’t had this kind of out-of-control nausea since my first pregnancy.  I can’t wear anything but the loosest cotton dress, anything touching my body is cause for agony.

In other words, I’m not a good date.

In fact, if you asked me what was going on with my body (and if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy and wasn’t 52) I’d say, “Obviously I’m in labor!”

Since Tuesday. This sucks.

Work Continues…

Our newest design, Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

The worst part is that I can’t get much work done. I finished up some schematics for my new book and got that out the door, and yesterday I wrote up a simple plaid pattern for a multi colored cowl (in our new Caledonian Colors) but my concentration is poor, and I can only knit for a few minutes before pain causes me to change my position into a non-knitting one.

Thursday evening we had to reshoot three sweaters for my upcoming book, and I KNEW that if we didn’t do it, it would be BIG TROUBLE. Andy goes off to college next Thursday, and I really needed to get front shots of 3 garments.

My photographer (Lara Need of Math4Knitters) is amazing, and she did most of the work. The models (Andy & our friend Lydia) were beautiful with great attitudes, so it was as stress free as a shoot could go.

I consider it a huge success that I was able to wait
until we got home to be sick. We all have different yardsticks.

I haven’t been able to ride my bike (the idea makes me break out in a cold sweat) and that makes the fibro pain grow in unwanted ways.

Well, what doesn’t kill us… right?

I find myself SO hesitant to write about this (I’ve actually been rather hesitant to blog at all these days…) because I know that someone will pop up to say, “Stop whining about your pain, just work through it!”

And they’d be right in a sense. The best thing to do with pain is to find a path through it, and sometimes talking about it isn’t the best path.

But the last 3 days have been overwhelming. I gave birth twice, to two big babies, the last one (11lbs) with no medication. This pain is worse. And it doesn’t seem to want to end.

Having said that, the pain does seem infinitesimally better since yesterday. I think the meds are working, but the nausea is as bad as ever.  But even that small change for good is reason to hope.

The cowl, down Jasper gets around

The cowl in it’s down position.
Jasper gets around

Your Reward

For reading my long tale of woe is that I’d like to gift you with the cowl pattern!

Lanark Plaid Cowl To download click on image of pattern.

Lanark Plaid Cowl
To download click on image of pattern.

Bear in mind, it’s been written by a woman in pain, and the tech edit was pretty quick and dirty. But the pattern is crazy simple [notice I didn’t say EASY, just SIMPLE] and if you want, you can consider it a fun test knit…

And (because I’m not in my right mind) I’ll pick ONE name from the comments of a person to receive a ball of ModeWerk Bulky. This is soft, beautiful yarn – it knits up like a dream – AND it’s super wash. I so hate making a gift for someone, then attaching a “care instructions” card to it.

Just leave a comment below, I don’t care what it’s about, and your name will go in the hopper for the drawing!  I don’t want to restrict this to US folks, so if you want to participate and you’re in a foreign country you’ll have to pony up $10 for shipping (I’ll cover the rest, and all of the shipping costs if the winner’s from the US) Leave your comment by midnight on Sun, Aug 17th (US Central Time) and we’ll pick a winner on Monday.  Good luck!

So go, leave a message, and make me laugh.  Please.

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?

Garden Spot of Alberta!

A lovely gift from a student!

A lovely gift from a student!

So, until I was approached by Olds College, I wasn’t aware of Olds Fiber Week.

I feel silly – after all, I should know about these things – but there it is.

And boy, I’d been missing a lovely week of fiber fun!

The Olds Fiber Week is small, not a huge extravaganza, but the folks here are PASSIONATE about spinning, weaving, dyeing and – perhaps with a foot in the door this year – knitting (?)!

Ground Transportation from Calgary Airport

Transportation from Airport

I taught three full day classes, I was able to get deep into the topics (always delightful) and my students were SO wonderful! Excited, unfailingly pleasant and polite (a highly underrated skill set) and hard working.

Well, they were Canadians, so that goes without saying.

A happy student & her mini Kraken

Student & Mini Krakken

The staff of the show is all new this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups (which EVERY event has) they did a really wonderful job of allowing the students to enjoy their week of fiber fun with very little worry about the change in show management.  Everyone worked SO hard, and the hard work paid off in very happy students.

Olds Pergola

Olds Pergola

Olds Irises

Olds Irises

The show is held at Olds College, in Olds, Alberta (about an hour north of Calgary) and I was totally unprepared for how beautiful the campus would be.  It’s essentially an agricultural and animal science school, lots of equine information and farm courses available, and the gardens throughout the campus reflect a commitment to healthy, beautiful botanical specimens.

The walk from my rooms to my classes was a LONG one, and because of various external triggers (temperature, exhaustion) my fibro has really flared up this week. I’m ashamed of how hobbly I look as I meander back and forth, but if one has to walk slowly, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll!

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

Tomorrow I fly back to St. Paul, which is about a month ahead of the plants here.  It’s been wonderful to experience tulips and lilacs again (they’re finished in late May back home) but I’m pining to see my husband, my pooch and my own not-very-exciting garden back home!

The kids are at their various camps; Andy’s canoeing in the Canadian Arctic, Max is attending Debate Camp at Augsburg in Minneapolis, so when I get home Gerry and I will be temporarily child free!