March Madness

This has been the busiest late Winter of my life, the craziest March so far, and I’m not seeing any signs that Spring will be any less of a Payday bar than the rest of the year (payday = nutty? Get it?)

Entrelac On A Bike

Entrelac In My Blue Tulip Bike Pannier Bag

I’m tired. Mentally I’m tired, and physically I’m just now catching up on rest I missed in January and February.

I can sometimes ‘create’ energy for myself by exercising wisely. For me that means Yoga (when I can get my sorry butt into downward facing dog) or cycling (which I’ve been able to do quite a bit this week – YAY for a warm spell in MN!)

I’ve learned, though, that with an energy-draining condition like fibromyalgia it is difficult to catch up on rest and impossible to store it up for hard times ahead. I can only try to build up my stamina. Ride, fat girl, ride!

However, the excellent thing about working on one’s own business is that hours are fluid. Except for scheduled events like teaching engagements and fiber shows (of which I’ve had many this Winter) I can choose to rest when I need to, and work when my body is rested.

This works well for me as far as dyeing goes – I get up early and dye while I have physical strength.  Then as the day passes and my body becomes tired, and pain sets in, I withdraw to the most comfortable chair in the house and get ‘paperwork’ – computer stuff, pattern writing, emails, etc. – done.

The work I do is hard, physically and mentally, but I’m so fortunate that I’m able to compartmentalize it and work on each piece with the best part of my working self.

The Nut of an Idea

The Nut of an Idea

Right now I’m working on two new online classes for Interweave Press, Knitting With Wire and Charted Entrelac. They’re two of my favorite classes, two techniques that I return to over and over when I just want to unwind with some FUN knitting, and I’m excited to be able to offer them as online classes.

This means, however, a butt load (technical term) of previously unplanned work before Yarn Fest in Colorado April 14-16 (we’ll be recording the classes the day before Yarn Fest opens)

Step Outs for Entrelac

Step Outs for Entrelac, worked in ModeWerk Bulky

There is a lot of planning, writing scripts, and working up “Step Outs” (step by step samples of the project to be covered in the class)

I enjoy this kind of work. It’s perfect for a Virgo, a chance to try to organize what could be a chaotic TV shoot into comprehensible steps.

Today is devoted to step outs and script writing and physical resting.

Tomorrow, the world!

While I’m Otherwise Occupied

I’m working through a few rather large projects right now, two of which will be discussed further along this week.

What I CAN tell you right now is that if you’re interested in my new ONLINE KNITTING MILLINERY CLASS, and are one of the first 50 folks to sign up, I’ll send you a FREE copy of the new, revised Knitting Millinery (a $15 value)

Knitting Millinery Class
Add to Cart

The class will be self guided, meaning you will be on your own to work through the videos, handouts and syllabus in the class.  However, I WILL be available for online chats (privately or in a group if more than one person wants to chat at the same time) and I’m ALWAYS available via email for questions and assistance.

As a bit of a come on, here’s a video I’m putting together for the Knitting Millinery Class.

Note: There’s nothing whatsoever about CREATING hats in this video, it’s just a look at some hats through history, to set the tone and get the juices flowing for folks who sign up.  It’s only partially finished, but it will give you a taste of the exposition portion of the class.



You can visit the new classrooms, containing my established classes (Combination Knitting, Twisted Float Shrug, Universal Mitered Handbag and Lace Bootcamp PLUS the Free How To Knit course) at



I have two new classes in the cooker – Knitting Millinery and Knitting with Color – I’m hoping to have them done by December 1st and ready for students.

Until then I’ll be welcoming students into my new classroom on an individual basis – I’m changing the timing of the classes so that you can start any class WHENEVER you want – you don’t have to wait for the start of the month!

Folks will cycle in and out of the classes in their own 4-week cycles, it seemed that most folks were working very independently anyway!

Self guided classes are $10 cheaper than guided classes, and all new students can use the code CRASH for a 15% discount on their classes!  Past paid students can take advantage of the ppfrs discount (email me if you’ve forgotten the details…)

You can easily register for all classes, or just sign up to be part of the network to receive updates at

I’m handing the registrations manually for the time being, so it may take up to a day to get you processed after you register.  Your patience is GREATLY appreciated – thank you!

I look forward to seeing you in the classes, and I hope my upcoming offerings will be as much fun as my current class listings!

On A Personal Note

Thank you SO much for the love and kindness you poured out after my last post.  I really hesitated to write it – I know how tiresome it is to read about someone feeling pain, feeling sad, yada yada yada  – thank you for understanding.

My Husband, The Genius!

To be honest, I wasn’t horribly upset when my cell phone was stolen in Ireland.  It was the least of the missing items – and I didn’t like it very much.

I hate talking on the phone because I have a hard time processing audial information over a phone.  Listening I seem to be okay at, comprehending is hard, but answering in a way that makes sense is just too hard. Folks who call me get used to silence, followed by frustration.

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the fibro, but it meant that my pink razor (yes, it was 5 years old) was an attractive purse-weight and used only for emergencies.

I had craved an iphone for a long time, but I couldn’t justify the expense for either the phone OR the AT&T service contract.

But when I found myself in the market for a new phone, I came across a solution.  I found a used iphone 3G at ebay (it had a crack on the back so it was pretty cheap) and it had been jail broken – unlocked – so I could use a T-mobile sim card. 

An iphone image from the 4th

T-mobile actually has a department devoted to assisting folks who use one of their sim cards with iphones.  Who knew?

My local Tmobile office gave me the sim card, Gerry got me added to our current contract for $9 a month (we’d canceled my old phone in May) and I was good to go.

If I want internet that’s a whopping $30/month, but I think I’ll do without it and just use the wifi built into the iphone and scoot into a friendly caribou coffee when I need to surf the web.

I’ve had an ipod touch for a few years, now that has passed on to Gerry who’s making very good use of it.  So I was able to easily transfer all of my audio books, photos, movies, onto my iphone.

Last night as I was syncing my phone I allowed myself to be lulled by the siren song of the pop up status window, and to my dismay I found I’d clicked “Update” and soon my iphone was installed with the newest operating system.

Genius & Genius Jr

The newest operating system wiped out my jailbreak.  The fugitive had been captured.

My Hero

But then along came Gerry.  While I went off to bed with a very sore neck, back and legs, he sat down with the iphone and searched online until he found out how to jailbreak the newest operating system.

He said it didn’t really take that long to DO it, it was just waiting for the steps to install themselves that was the long part.

Either way, I’m very proud of him, and very happy to have my wonderful cheaper-than-I-would-have-dreamed iphone 3G back again.  Yay me!

How lucky I am to have a go-to guy who can figure things out like this?  I know I could have, eventually, but it’s a relief to hand something over when I’ve reached my own frustration level.

Pain Again

I’ve done a few days of Yoga this week at the suggestion of my physical therapist.  It’s DEFINITELY a stretch for me – physical, emotionally AND intellectually.  At Core Yoga, where I’m trying out a free week, the rooms are kept very warm.

For me, this is a sort of living hell (I know it’s wonderful for the stretches, but I turned so red in one class I really scared the teacher.) According to my acupuncturist I have a very HOT constituency (extreme Yang) and BOY was that evident in the first class I took!

They don’t heat the rooms for the C1 (beginning) classes, but the one I took came right after a C2 class, so the room was REALLY hot from that one.

After I figured that out, I went to an 8am class, which was much cooler, and I did a little better.  I’m definitely going back, although I have yet to determine if this is the right place for me.  It may be a bit more hardcore than I’m ready for.

I was heartened that there was one stout woman with white hair near me (we were about the same speed, but she had better balance) and other folks in the 8am class who did NOT look like Yogis, so maybe that would be the place for me.  I felt a little conspicuous for my lack of balance and extra girth in the first class.

Whether the yoga is having an affect on the pain is not yet determinable.  I’m still in that ‘first few classes’ state where I can feel the muscles I’ve been using this week, so it’s a different kind of layer of pain on top of the fibro pain.

This is the point where it would be easy to walk away, but I feel that would be in error.  I have to give it a better chance.

Right now, though, I think I’ve drifted into another flare up.  Achey, sore, very loud ringing in my ears (that’s the determining clue for me) and a sense of malaise and depression.

So I’ll sit and work today, I’ll try to get on my bike, and with any luck I’ll get the last videos finished for the Lace & Twisted Float classes.

In case anyone’s interested in what my videos are like, here’s one I just finished for the lace class:

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!

Pondering In My Heart

I’m trying to work through some stuff, directions, etc.

I thought I’d find a shining sign at TNNA: GO FORTH AND DO THIS! But I didn’t.  I did get a lot of support, though, which is excellent.

Shrug En Route & "B" Twist

I’m finishing up my Lace Bootcamp and Twisted Float Shrug Online Classes, which start on July 1.  I always feel doubtful about a class the first time I run it, and this time is no exception.  Time to just keep plugging away and try to make it as comprehensible as possible.

If you’d care to sign up for either of my new classes, please use the code “july” for a 25% discount. I feel better discounting the first run of a class, I figure I learn as much from you as you do from me, and this allows me to give a break to folks who are willing to be guinea pigs!

Wavy Lace Wrong SideAside from working on the classes, there’s not a lot going on.  I’m mentally and physically preparing for UK Knit Camp in Stirling (I’ll be teaching a few classes) and on the horizon is that magnificent Italian adventure in September (I’ll be teaching, it should be – how you say – amazing!)

But mostly I’m just – mentally – trying to find my place right now.

Calm Mississippi Dog Run

I need to find a peaceful, calm place to roost, a place where I can do what I love, pay the mortgage, and not feel encumbered by this fibro crap / pain that crops up at the most inconsistent times.

Mentally, the fibro is wearing me down, I have to say it.  When I was first diagnosed I was not aware of how much this would affect me.  This renewed awareness is almost more of a boulder in my path than the fibro itself.

I’m sorry I’m not more – me? – today.  Funny?  Joyful?  Deep down I’m all those things, really!

But right now the part of me that’s rising to the top is the scared and hurt part.  Obviously I need to knit more.  Or maybe I need to stir things up?  Or maybe I need some dispersant? However you spin it, this fibro-depression is lurking just under my surface like a 300 foot plume.


Why am I really so low today?  I had a bad doctor’s appointment.  Not a bad appointment, a bad DOCTOR who just went off on healthcare, political stuff, etc. with no encouragement from me.  Honest.  None at all.  And I know from encouraging folks to go off, it’s a real skill of mine.  This time, it wasn’t me.  He was going off on folks before we even arrived (we heard him explaining some of his views as we passed another exam room.)

This picture has nothing to do with the text. I just wanted to show that we'd been to see the Dead Sea Scrolls for Father's Day.

It was bizarre.  If Gerry hadn’t been with me (and if I hadn’t seen the look on the Physician’s Assistants face, who was in the room with us and was trying to keep it together) I would have thought I was nuts.

Well, maybe I am – but this guy was NUTSIER.

He tried, belatedly, to apologize for going off on  – me? the world? – I don’t really know who his anger/frustration was directed toward.  But he was angry.

He said so at one point – “I’m angry.” Very odd.

So that was my last visit, not so much because he’s a freakazoid (and I know from freakazoid docs, this was the fellow who delivered Hannah in Oct 1996, the same month as the carving incident) It was our last visit because our insurance runs out in 10 days.

See, a silver lining already!

The kids will have to be uninsured for 4 months before they’re eligible for MN care, Gerry will be on SSDI Medicare.  But I’ll be floating along like a dandelion seed, wafting away on a breath blown by an asthmatic kid.

Twisted Float Detail

And me? I will knit. I’m putting the resume together, looking into temp type work, but I just don’t think I have the physical stamina to work a full 8 hours in a day without resting, or coming home in severe pain.

Obviously the work a bit, rest a bit schedule is great – but since January I can’t seem to produce enough to keep it going.

How can I be terribly upset, though, when I have such amazing yarn to work with?  This is a swatch using Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Worsted (Zombie BBQ) and a tiny piece of Pico Accuardi merino as waste yarn.  The Pico was used above in the lace swatch.

This is excellent therapy.

Monday, June 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may long for a resting place in your ongoing struggle to hold on to recent gains while still embracing the future. Inevitable change seems to be knocking at your front door, but just as you think it’s okay to let it in, something happens that makes you question your assumptions. Don’t be attached to your expectations. Instead, be ready to flow with the shifting tides until they settle back down.