Walking My Bike

It’s been a very busy few weeks, mostly with me sitting squarely on my butt, but yet it’s been frantic. But more about that later…


Cover by Franklin!

Whenever I travel and teach, I’m asked by at least one person, “How can I become a hand knit designer…?” and I answer them as best I can.

Actually, I start by asking, “Do you have a secondary income source and health insurance…” because you’ll need that as much as design chops or knitting skills.

As long as magazines like Vogue Knitting continue to pay designers only 10% of online pattern sales (they’re actually paying me NOTHING right now because I won’t agree to their insulting 10%) then other  magazines have no problem offering 36 designs in an issue where 24 would do, and – like Vogue – paying the designers a watered down fee that is lower than designers were paid in the 80’s.

But I rant digress.

When folks ask me now about how to become a hand knit designer, I can point them to the best book on this subject I’ve ever read.  And that’s NOT just because I have an interview in it.

The KNITGRRL Guide to Professional Knitwear Design is wonderful.  In appearance, it’s like those generic “SUGAR” and “CIGARETTES” packages you’d find in supermarkets in the 80’s (second 80’s reference in one post.  I am old.)

It’s simple, direct, and doesn’t pull any punches.

If you’re contemplating a career in knit design, or if you’re already designing, this book is WELL worth your time!

And I’m giving one away!  Look under your chair and you’ll find your copy!

Just kidding. Write a comment about ANYTHING and you’ll be in the pool for the book.  The winner will be picked at random on July 7th.


Twisted Float in LL Shep Worsted

Four online classes started on July 1, two old friends (Combination Knitting & Mitered Handbag) and 2 brand new ones (Twisted Float & Lace Bootcamp). You can still get in on them without missing anything, really.   Just sayin’  Use code “july” for 25% off!

As of right now, I still have several videos to complete for the new classes (there are at between 5-7 videos up in each classroom, plenty to keep the students going for at least a week)

Why am I behind?  If I say, “I don’t know.” would that officially count as denial?

I have pain. That’s the truth.

I had been thinking about getting an intern, an assistant, something to help me get through the work.  I wasn’t quite expecting that my constant companion would be Pain (and let me tell you, Pain is a notoriously bad assistant.)

Pain is like that friend who comes over and just hangs out, and you can’t get ANYTHING done while they’re lounging on your sofa, eating your chips and watching your cable TV.  My pain just drops in, always uninvited, and I really never know when it’s going to turn up.  Sometimes it doesn’t even knock, it just barges in – SURPRISE! – like Jill Zarin in St. John.

But I still have work – a mountain of it – and I’m just moving slower and slower and slower.

Obviously I’m not blogging as much as I used to, I’m hardly twittering (which I enjoy as the ‘water cooler’ in my life – my connection with co-workers in the fiber world, like the aforementioned Ms. Okey) and my designing is a mere memory most days.

And the mountain grows.

I’ve saw a doctor at the MN Head & Neck Pain Center last week, he asked if I exercised and I told him I ride my bike between 2-6 miles every day.  Which is absolutely true!  I’ve discovered that riding my bicycle, and working up a bit of a sweat, is one of the few ways I can guarantee a few hours of pain free existence.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to control fibromyalgia pain is through exercise, aerobic is better.  The bike is the most enjoyable for me, it’s something I really WILL do, so I gravitate toward it.

Imagine my chagrin when the doctor responded, “2-6 miles on a bike isn’t that much.  You’re not fit.” Well, obviously not.  Or maybe NOT so obviously not.  Maybe I’m more fit than I look to the naked, size-ist eye…?

As Ramona C pointed out on Facebook when I posted this, Perhaps size-ist prejudice on his part prevents him acknowledging your true fitness level? I think she’s right.  The doctor saw a large woman walk into his office, and his assumption is that I must be one notch up from lazy slob lounging on the sofa (right next to Pain, who hasn’t left yet, by the way…) Well, I’m not.

And I’m not entirely fit either.  Sure, I could lose 20 (or 80) pounds – I’ve lost 40 in this past year – but c’mon doc, give a big girl her props!  I’m MUCH more fit than I was a year ago, even with the pain I’m more fit.  Seriously.

I rode my bike to my physical therapy on Wednesday (my last day with insurance – live it up!) and got a much warmer response from my PT about my bike riding.  Thank you.

And I felt encouraged.  Not like I wanted to tie myself to my bike and throw myself in Lake Como.  Which I sort of felt like when the doctor dismissed my measly 2-6 miles a day.  Just sayin’

I ride my bike whenever I need to make a short local trip (Trader Joe’s, Kowalski’s, CVS, or to Max’s baseball games) and I feel pain free afterward.  It’s a great high.

I’ve been experimenting with longer trips (no, Dr. X had nothing to do with that.  Okay, maybe a little) and I definitely need to balance the length vs. pain-free outcome.  Too long of a ride and I hurt in places I didn’t before.  It’s a pain trade off.

I rode down to Trader Joe’s yesterday – we were out of oatmeal and I crave it now for a variety of reasons.  [hint: if your digestion could you a kick start, try oatmeal for a week]

It's a cat...

Coming back from Trader Joe’s with a basket full of bananas and oatmeal, I realized I just couldn’t ride up the long,low-grade hill up Lexington.  So I hopped off and walked.

A few bikers passed me, they were nice about it, but I felt a bit like a sludge.  A sludge pushing a bike.  Not to be confused with a cat flushing a toilet.

And then it hit me – the hill, the bike, the groceries – they were an analogy for my current situation.

The bike is my life.  It can go fast, or it can go slow.  I’m in control to an extent, but the landscape I travel is also a consideration.

Just when I think I'm at the summit...

The basket is my work, my duties, all that I’ve taken on.  Sometimes it’s empty, usually it just carries my knitting bag, but sometimes it’s filled with heavy groceries.

The hill is the trajectory my life’s taken.  Right now it’s uphill.  That’s not to say it’s entirely not enjoyable, there are GREAT moments when you’re going uphill, but it’s definitely harder than riding downhill.

Gerry’s illness, my illness, that’s the hill.  When the pain abates, when Gerry’s doing well, it’s a plateau.  It hasn’t been downhill for a long, long time.

Gerry’s cancer numbers are on the way up again for the 3rd straight checkup, I have days when I feel absolutely frozen in place, paralyzed by soreness. And my basket is full of the classes I’m teaching, my blog, my designing, my writing – it’s all in there.

The thing is, much as the groceries from Trader Joe’s were all heavy, they were all vital.  I needed all of them.  Well, maybe the chai was an extravagance, but I needed the oatmeal, berries and bananas.

So I pushed my bike and realized that there will be times when I move slower, when I’m carrying the bike as much as the bike is carrying me.

If I were to set the bike down and just walk up the hill, I may be lighter, but when I get to the top of the hill not only do I NOT have my bike and groceries, and I’ll miss out on a lot of fun going down the hill. 

Running down a sidewalk is NOT the same as scooting down the bike lane on my cheap Target dream bicycle!