Stop Right Here!

It used to be that I had bad days. As I get older these days draw out and it’s more like bad weeks. I’m in the middle of such a period right now.

The latest happened exactly two weeks ago when I reached into our cooler and ended up in agony on the floor with lower back spasms.

I know from experience that if I don’t break the spasm cycle I’ll be out for weeks. So instead of heading to San Francisco, we head to the hospital. A couple of shots later, I barely make it out to the car. For everyone who’s had that, you know. For the rest of you, light a candle to the higher being of your choice.

Self-medicated me then heads from San Jose to San Francisco, where we had arranged a house exchange for a few days.

If you saw a woman the next day bent over like a 110-year-old or someone who’d lost their contact lenses, walking toward Imagiknit, you guessed right, that was me. But it also was the last time you saw me on the streets of San Francisco. Though Imagiknit is only a few blocks away from our house exchange gig, I never made it back as I promised. Instead, I tested out the comfort of their couch. All 5 days.

As any knitter will know, I had along so many knitting projects and yarn, I could have stayed there the rest of the year. Also, it’s no fun knitting on your back. I have no idea how the time washed over me, mostly in a daze or asleep from the medication.

Totally in awe of myself, we somehow made it back home. And exactly two weeks after the cooler incident I’m still in pain, on heavy-duty doctor-approved pain medication and in my chair in front of the computer for the first time today.

You’re caught up. I wish we could catch up with our tomato abundance. At the time I took the photo I was delusional, thinking this was a lot of tomatoes. We have at least three times as much now, and they keep on ripening at a pace I can’t even walk at.

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The tomato below is a deep purple-red, fleshy and exquisite.

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When something happens, something unexpected, I usually find out that I’m not alone. Thanks to the interwebs I find my experiences duplicated over and over.

A few weeks ago a friend and I were chatting in our living room when we heard the strangest of noises. To be honest, neither of us had any idea what it was nor had ever heard such a sound before. We did eventually figure out it came from outside. And this is what we found:

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It turns out that exploding patio tables are not all that rare. We’ve had this one long enough I don’t mind having to get a new one. In wood, please. Imagine sitting at the table eating when this happens.

In other news, I put in a drip system in the garden, probably contributing to the back issue. It would have been so much easier to do with starter plants, but always going for the hard way, I was digging around mature plants trying to find their stems and the right placing of the drip in 100-plus degree heat.

No pictures of knitting today? I finished a hitchhiker shawl made with Wollmeise yarn, ok, the ends need weaving in, but who’s looking right now. I finished a pair of socks, again, I have to close up the toes. There just might be 5 pairs of socks needing a similar finish. I feel the holidays starting to breathe down my neck.

This pony is also learning a new trick, toe-up socks. Got some Socks That Rock heavyweight yarn. The problem is that the pattern Spice Man from Yarnissima I’m using doesn’t accommodate the thick yarn. I’m making it up as I go. And I’ve reached a point of stuckness. I have no idea what the pattern is talking about. Where do I do the decreases? The solution is making another pair of socks in thin sock yarn and following exact directions so I can tell where the decrease happens. For sure not where I tried to put it. As my friend Meg says, there’s got to be someone out there who is contorted enough that it will fit. Meg, I don’t think that holds true. At least not with anyone I know.

Someone recently asked about a baby sock pattern. I just scale down my go-to sock pattern. I love the littleness and cuteness. And did I mention they are super-quick to make?!

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Confession time. I got more fiber to spin. But I have a good excuse, really. I love Inglenook Fibers. And my first ever hand-spun hand-knit item left me a few yards short. Probably because I can’t spin exquisitely thin yarn yet. I’ve been looking for months to find a fiber that I could finish the cowl with and finally: success!

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Time to get off this chair and into something more comfortable.

 

Success

Yes, success is mine, almost. Of course I’ll weave in the ends and block. Yes, this year. I think.

I’m over the guilt joy of bringing back lots of yarn from Stitches West. There actually is less yarn and more clothing. Well, only if cowls qualify. Surprising myself, I started using Plucky Knitter yarn first. Not surprising myself, I made yet another Zuzu’s Petals cowl/shawlette. Eventually one might get tired of this pattern, though I don’t see why.

Zuzu's Petals
Zuzu’s Petals

Reminder: this is neither blocked nor the ends woven in. A super-fast knit that uses very little yarn. Did I mention this is my fourth?!

Another easy and very fast knit was the Benton cowl. It was the yarn I could not keep my hands off that made me do it. The Miss Babs Sojourn: cashmere and silk. Yes, I know, expensive, but try keeping from knitting with it. That’s the sign of an exquisite yarn, one you have to transform into something wearable to keep on feeling it.

Benton made with MIss Babs Sojourn
Benton made with MIss Babs Sojourn

So what it’s not blocked or ends woven in either. Does not need blocking. The ends woven in? More so.

Other news on the yarn front? Yes. I would like to order three rounds of yarn from three different places. Resistance is futile? We’ll see.

I would like to make another shawl but have not found the pattern yet. Something stripy. With the plucky knitter yarn. I should have gotten more of one color. Don’t have enough for a large Derecho. Enough in yardage but not in the right colors. I could work around that issue, right?

Did I Learn Anything?

Day 2 at Stitches West

I was in training for weeks to be ready to get up for my Stitches class. Why they start classes at 8:30 am is beyond me. But when the day arrived I was so excited I woke up voluntarily in time.

Most important lesson was learned yesterday, at home. Just because I learned how to do something does not mean I should. What was I thinking? With renewed enthusiasm after my Stitches Saami Mitten making class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, I tackled Liana’s Deathflake Mitten.

I started by unraveling what I had because I had learned about yarn dominance. Who would have ever guessed there is yarn dominance. Stranded knitting is knitting with two or more colors where you carry the yarn along in the back of your work. As you go back and forth between the colors one has to make a decision: place the yarn you are about to knit above or below the yarn you just knit with. Confused yet?

Guess which is the dominant yarn? The one that gets placed above the one you just knitted with? Guess again. Right, it is the yarn you carry from below. Since the yarn that goes above has a shorter distance to travel, it creates a smaller stitch. The other yarn from below creates a slightly bigger stitch, therefore becomes more dominant and visible in the pattern.

In the pattern of the Deathflake mitten I believe I’ll make the white the dominant yarn.

We also learned the braided cast on. With enthusiasm I incorporated that trick into my mitten. Since the mitten only asks for white and black yarn I picked another color, red, and knit away. Except, I don’t like it. In my usual fashion instead of immediately frogging, I’m knitting on. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. That I’ll get used to it? That it’ll start looking better? Right now the balance is out of whack. It hurts more to frog than looking at that braid. Until that balance changes I’ll keep on knitting.

Another trick I learned is a herringbone braid. Yes, I will also incorporate this into the mitten. Perhaps adding insult to injury will make it all right and balance out.

When learning to work with 3 stranded colors in a row, one really starts to appreciate 2 stranded knitting. The latter I found very difficult until the 3 stranded.

Mittens are mostly knit in the round. What helps in stranded knitting is turning the work inside out and knitting on the inside. That gives a better tension to the strand that is carried around the corner from one needle to the other.

Really, this was a most amazing and outstanding class. I never did get a mitten done, but I do have a picture to show you. This is a class picture of all the started mittens.

Saami MItten Class at Stitches
Saami Mitten Class at Stitches

I’ll document here the rest of my purchases at Stitches. Starting where I left off yesterday, the rest of the Plucky Knitter loot.

Plucky Knitter - One Hit Wonder
Plucky Knitter – One Hit Wonder
Plucky Feet - Table Setting
Plucky Feet – Table Setting

Every knitter should have a ball of Kauni once in their life. This was my time and not surprisingly I picked the rainbow color. Not sure what to make with it yet. Though I’m a firm believer that if I buy it, the idea will come.

Kauni - Rainbow
Kauni – Rainbow

How beautiful this yarn knits up and I have photos to prove it.

At the Kauni booth at Stitches
At the Mannings booth at Stitches

 

Another example of knitting with Kauni at the Mannings booth
Another example of knitting with Kauni at the Mannings booth

As I am a knitting Mama, I could not neglect my knitting daughter. I sure wish the knitting bug would bite her like it did me. Then we could be a mother-daughter team at Stitches. To be an enabler I selected two skeins of heavy weight yarn. Unless otherwise instructed, this is what my daughter knits with right now.

Malabrigo - Rios for Liana
Malabrigo – Rios for Liana

What is left to show you is the fiber. A spinner needs to increase her fiber stash, don’t you think?

I had a very nice chat at Greenwood Fiberworks. What attracted me at first was the prominently placed fiber with bling. It was downhill for my credit card and me from there.

Greenwood Fiberworks - Merino with Stellina
Greenwood Fiberworks – Merino with Stellina
Greenwood Fiberworks - BFL with Tussah Silk
Greenwood Fiberworks – BFL with Tussah Silk

 

Greenwood Fiberworks - Merino Batt
Greenwood Fiberworks – Merino Batt

I also picked up a couple of grab bags from Abstract Fibers.

Abstract Fibers Grab Bag
Abstract Fibers Grab Bag

Enough photos for today. Yes, there are more. NO! No more loot. Isn’t this enough? Just photos of yarn not bought and left behind for other.

Have  knitting day!

Finally: Rain!

Waking up to the excitement of rain this morning. It will do little to help the horrible drought we’re in, but it is a drop or two in the bucket, and California will take every drop it can get. It did not keep us from taking a two mile walk, but we ended up soaking wet and were glad to get into a warm house.

In my future today is spinning. I started last night and could not get to sleep because I did not get enough spinning in. At the Foothill Fibers Guild Meeting last night Lisa Souza gave a presentation and we all succumbed to the fiber fumes she brought along and I ended up with two 4 ounce bundles of fiber made of 50/50 bombyx silk/fine merino in the colors petroglyph and water gardens. And here I was going to show restraint until Stitches. Really?!

As promised I will show you the Steve West shawl, but, and this is a huge but, there is no way I can take an appropriate picture in this rain or the dark house, so you’ll have to settle for an awful blocking picture. But even with the colorful distraction of the mats you might get the idea.

I just found out the Tibetan monks are in town for their yearly visit. One of their projects is a sand mandala they then destroy to show the transitory nature of material life. The last part of this sentence is plagiarized. I’m always in awe that these folks take so much time to create these exquisite paintings knowing they will not last.

Yesterday when I was contemplating destroying/unraveling the shawl I saw a similarity. Except I did not know beforehand I might destroy the shawl, and it took me way more time to knit this shawl than it takes the monks to do the mandala. And there would have been a totally different message in my destruction. So perhaps I’ll quit the comparison.

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While I’m doing photos, let me show you a small shawl I made for my friend’s 96th birthday:

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I will only show half of what I bought last night because one of the colors did not photograph well at all. That’s a shame because it is most unusual and my favorite one.

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And that’s it for today. Some cooking and lots of spinning and Netflix waiting for me.

One more photo. Did I ever show you my Schacht Matchless? If I did, well, it’s well worth another look.

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Whatever Happened?

Do you ever go to a blog and then see that the last entry was a month, a year, a decade ago? Then wonder what happened to that person? Did they die or just made a switch to facebook or some other social network? I fantasize about them, give them their unique stories depending on the mood I’m in. But honestly? They probably only got caught up in their lives, like me.

Why has it been over a month? Well, the holidays always play a trick on me. They go by way too fast. I always remember my childhood when the days until Christmas took forever. Feeling and shaking the boxes under the tree, just knowing the day will never come. Nowadays that day comes way too fast. Probably how my grandmother felt trying to get the presents together.

This Christmas was kind of cool as Hanukkah came so early, I got to relax and not worry. I leisurely knit on anything and everything I felt like, no pressure.

Then the days between the years arrived. That’s what my grandmother called the time between Christmas and New Year. Always a strange state of mind for me. Sort of like being a lame duck president, this time is the lame duck time of year. No way one can get last minute stuff done one had high hopes for at the beginning of the year. And no need to start anything new, since there is time. It’s that time of year when I get hopelessly confused about what day of the week it is, too.

I eventually just give up and wait for New Year’s Eve. That carries lots of baggage for me. For no reason whatsoever I feel that night should be significant. I try to ignore it every year and then panic and make last minute plans. Having become a little smarter with age I made some plans ahead of time. I invited a couple of friends that feel the same about this strange evening. We had a meal together and then played board games. Board game is more correct. We played ‘Dominion.’ Yes, still my favorite game.

January has been speeding along, but I don’t mind because I’m going to Stitches West. I even signed up for a class: Saami Mittens. Let’s hope the yarn fumes are not so overwhelming and I’ll survive the experience financially intact.

I have been knitting Steve West’s shawl called Bolting. I used 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn from Blue Ridge Yarns called Transitions. That’s 1200 yards in case you didn’t know. At the end one row took as long as a TV show, about 40 minutes and more of Netflix streaming. I’m sure there are way over 800 stitches to the row. And I even made the shawl bigger as I noticed I have some extra yarn to play with. Not such a great idea. It’s blocking right now, but you have to wait until tomorrow when I get to upload the pictures. This is written on the iPad which doesn’t allow me any fancy maneuvers.

Nothing happened to me except life carrying me along.  Looking for my next big project is my biggest challenge at the moment, so life is good.

Promise Fulfilled

Last night heralded in a new season. Gone are semi warm days, lights are finally making lots of sense. And now I’ll admit to loving all the little christmassy lights everywhere in December. Forget all the consumer hoopla, but give me your lights. Just the thought of January and February with the colorful lights all being gone and the dreariness. No, will not go there now, but instead fully embrace the garish decorations.

Before going to bed I took some pictures as points of reference for the morning, just in case it would be needed.

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Yes I know, not very impressive. So let’s catapult forward to this morning:

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Same tree, more snow. I love the quiet, the reverence nature forces on us. Taking deep belly breaths. Yes….

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I love the do not disturb sign nature has hung out, but I also love to see a sign of my existence by disregarding the sign. Others are no better and soon there are footprints and hoof prints and paw prints and tire prints and….

This is a day to learn navajo plying or chain plying as some call it. At least I think they’re both the same. It’s a bit difficult to work on two skills at the same time. I’m getting used to the wheel, but have so much left to get accustomed to. Which whorl to use, getting the right tension, treadle and foot rhythm, drafting, on and on. And then there are plying skills. Of course that assumes I had the skill to make singles to begin with. But ever impatient I’m forging, or rather, forcing my way toward yarn.

A new spinning wheel would seem sufficient to most as a project. But we’re talking about a Gemini at work here. I signed up for level one of the masters knitting program with The Knitting Guild Association.

Impatiently waiting for my chosen yarn to arrive to knit my projects with. Did I say this is only level 1? This might never go any further than level one because level two requires putting your seaming skills to the test. If I’ve never said it before, rest assured there is nothing more hateful in life than seaming, for me. There is a physical aversion that is so strong that I can show you parts of a finished cardigan, at least finished in that all knitted parts are done, that still sits in a basket because I’m avoiding seaming. It’s that bad alright. Oh, it has been resting there for years. 8?

On to navajo ply in a winter wonderland.

Where’s My Mojo?

It’s gone, just gone. Can’t find it no matter where I look. Have you seen my knitting mojo?  Have you perhaps stolen taken my knitting mojo? Wherever it is, whoever has it, please return!

I’ve been too busy lately, mostly being busy with doing nothing. At least I can’t see results of my busyness. Usually that means I’ve been online going nowhere. Not this time, at least not that I’m aware of. Or am I on autopilot and don’t even know what the left hand is doing? I just can’t get into another gear with my knitting. Holidays coming up very fast and Hanukkah on turbo-speed or even warp speed heading our way this year, makes no difference, I don’t feel the pressure.

Good for my heart. Bad for holiday presents. I always have some super easy knitting on hand to do while waiting for appointments or attending classes. That would be washcloths or dishcloths. But how many can one woman make if she doesn’t even have enough people who use these items? Socks are another knitting project for on the go, as long as they are simple socks. But I got it into my head that I’ve made enough simple socks in my life and now it’s time to work patterns into socks. I have two such projects on the needles and neither is the perfect no mind needed kind of knitting.

An update on the deathflake mittens: I managed to knit with the right color progression, see below, but noticed that I knit very loosely when knitting stranded and, yes, frogged it all again. My next attempt is with smaller needles but I put it aside for a while to finish a pair of socks.

Here are the frogged mittens:

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You see where I’m heading here? I’m burned out on dishcloths and washcloths and simple knitting but can’t find the stretch of time needed to make more complicated items like patterned socks or shawls or sweaters or….

That’s what I call a major mojo problem. I’m making an appointment with another season of “The Good Wife” and knitting today. It might be the cure.

I’m a very handy person when it comes to problems around the house. At least I think I am. This might all be a big delusion I’m finding out now. Yes, I can put down laminate flooring, but I can’t do the finishing touches. For years now, we are missing the finished edges of our floors. And where the floors turn into stairs? Ha. That has never been worked out in my mind. And the fact that I stopped cold when it came to the dining room and living room.

I also do plumbing jobs. Most times with a little bit more success. OK, you’ll never have to worry about that stopper again once I got my hands on it, and who needs it anyway in the bathroom. Our latest is the shower, it drips. I worked my magic, but unfortunately it had nothing to do with the shower head. The drip, I diagnosed, is caused by the thing that turns the shower on and off. I could replace whatever part is worn out, but I’m pretty sure I should turn off the water supply first. Now I know how to turn off the water supply to toilets and sinks, there is a handy knob to turn underneath them. But where does one turn off a shower water supply?

Doing research online tells me this shut off mechanism is not easy to find for showers and tubs and there is talk about concealment of these valves. Is that fair to the amateur plumber I ask? Since I’m not about to go hunting for something someone was trying to hide from me, probably successfully, I’m aware I have to shut off the water supply to the house if I am to make the repair. I can do that and have done that before. But, here is my fear: what if I can’t fix the problem? Then I’m stuck with a shower that would spew out water and the only control is no water to anything. Can I risk that? This is one time where I need to follow up and fix the whole problem and not just a part of it.

Next! Believe it or not, both our bathroom sinks are malfunctioning. They were both clogged up. No problem, I have done this many times before, get down on the floor unscrew the trap, clean it out, and reattach. With my frozen shoulder it has become somewhat of a bigger problem, but I can still do that. Unless part of the metal pipe breaks off. No problem, I put a plant in there so no one is tempted to use that sink. And after all there are two sinks in this particular bathroom. So I go clean the other sink and reattach the trap and guess what, something is wrong and now water leaks out of the trap. That has never happened before. The only solution I can see is get a new trap and keep my fingers crossed. That will be a purchase made later today.

At least the sink in our second bathroom still works, but I’m starting to feel squeezed. We have not renovated our bathrooms since we moved into our house in 1992. My belief is that we still deal with fixtures from 1976 when this house was built. But the new roof and gutters ate up our extra money and we’ll have to wait for a while before any thoughts of a new bathroom get to cross our minds.

No wonder my knitting mojo left this house new roof and all, who wants to live in a one bathroom sink home?

I’m still struggling somewhat with the heart anniversary, and I’m following along and reliving the events. You can stop right here or follow Stephen’s posts from last year.

“October 18, 2012

Still uncertain about the atmosphere on this planet…. A pretty rough day here: another transfusion and a many-syllabic-named lung problem, on top of the usual pains, discomforts, and indignities. I hereby predict much better things for tomorrow. Marianna on the Mend! -S

October 19, 2012

What’s the point of surgery if you don’t have scars to show off? This is a lesser one, of course, on the arm that graciously gave of itself – the one that hopes to soon join its partner in knitting. All in all, a better day today. The highlights were pretty high – including several hours of visits from 5 friends (asked if she’d seen the tunnel of light, Marianna responded no, it was dark and smoky, with jazz playing); and the lows were manageable. Onward! – posted by the husband of the Bride Of Frankenstein

October 20, 2012

No sugar-coating in this update (that would be bad for M’s diabetes). The only good news is mostly symbolic: 8 days after our ambulanced arrival, she’s finally out of the ICU and into her own room. Other than that… Not a good day, sorry to say. From a pre-dawn attack by a seemingly psychopathic (but presumably incompetent) couple of syringe-wielding nurses, through an entire day and evening with energy tank registering empty-minus, this has been the one step back that paves the way for tomorrow’s two steps forward. As for tonight… I think I’ll stay right here and create my own ICU. -S

October 21, 2012

The Creature Walks Among Us!

Best day yet. Two hallway walking journeys, a coupla hours of chair sitting adventures, and another good visit with friends. Marianna is well spent after all that, but definitely on the road to the road home. As always, thanks for the supportive e-shouts! -S

October 22, 2012

If you’re following Marianna’s journey from death’s door to health’s highway, you know what to expect: this was another 1-step-back day. The apparent culprit: meds that kept her blood pressure too low. Way too low, like ~74/45. Less pressure on her healing heart, but it prevented her from doing anything beyond breathing. With blood pressure meds on hold, she’s back to her self, as we look forward to morrow…. -S

October 23, 2012

A pretty good day in general – a little more walking, a lot more waking, and a major post-surgery highlight: sitting in a chair for an hour’s worth of bathing, hairbrushing, and braiding by 2 attentive nurses. I (Stephen) promise you: Marianna was in full radiance.

Still no word on our return date (probably accompanied by an oxygen tank), but I think it moved a lot closer today. -S”

Anniversary

It’s been a bit quiet around here. Not at our house, just here on the blog. It hasn’t been so loud at our house since my teenagers got into punk and them or me blasting the music. Enough suspense: we got a new roof.

As a typical German I was prepared with food and drink for the workers, but they hardly accepted anything. My grandmother used to get a case of beer and food whenever a repair project got started at her house. I watched and learned. But people here don’t let me be nice to them, I feel ripped off.

Today, a year ago, I was in surgery. This is what Stephen posted on my facebook page at the time:

“October 15, 2012
After 7 hours of *successful* surgery – quadruple bypass – Marianna 1.4 is inching her way toward consciousness, to be followed by weeks/months of healing. Whewwwww. I’ll report more when we know more; for now, see – and read and repeat aloud – previous sentence; repeat as necessary… -S”

It probably was the most difficult time for my family ever. Both our kids were around, our daughter Liana having flown in from Denver and Toby was able to take a few days off from firefighting. I have no idea how Stephen held it together, whatever the “it” is. Turn this situation around and you can be assured I would have fallen apart.

Some recollections from Stephen who was posting updates to my facebook page then:

“October 13, 2012
Hi friends of Marianna Greenberg… If you’ve got some spare prayers/love/good healing thoughts/golden circles — whatever you’re into — please send ’em her way. We’re at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, where she’s recovering from a massive heart attack and will have open heart surgery within the next coupla days. She should be sleeping peacefully right now, after a very nightmarish few hours. Visited a few minutes ago: tho really weak of course, she seemed to be pretty much back to her full self — enough so, that she asked me to let folks on her 1000-truffle-benefit page (sorry, no handy link) know there’ll be a delay…. G’night for now, happy birthday to Toby who’s sitting/dozing across from me, and LOVE for Marianna — more massive than anything else. – Stephen

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October 14, 2012

Update: We’re still deep into the woods, but on a clear path toward home. Probably tomorrow morning (depends on how Marianna’s doing, according to all the tests and numbers and evaluations), the path will become a surgical journey through a triple (minimum) bypass. In the meantime, she’s pretty stable, glad our kids are hanging out with her – Liana’s braiding her hair right now – and really appreciative of your love and support. (She said, “Tell them they’re sending so much light, it’s keeping me awake.”) More thanks from me – feeling much more like me after actually *sleeping* (in a 3-question-mark motel!) last night.

Following up on our previous update – re Marianna’s concern about getting so much light from y’all, see pic. In other news, kids and I moved out of – make that escaped from – the seedy motel and into a nice hospital-related apartment across the street; from homely to homey. And the uppest update: Marianna’s on track for surgery, tomorrow around 8 am till midday. Soon, friends….”

Right now I’m reliving this and trying to process. I’m not aging gracefully. But then I have always totally thrown myself into any experience good or bad. There is no half-way for me. Let’s make this a massive heart attack seems to be my modus operandi. And then go for the quadruple by-pass. And then let’s have a pulmonary embolism to top this experience off nicely. I bet my life will end in the ultimate: death.

Since it’s Halloween season I might as well creep you out a bit with the arm picture after surgery:

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All that is left now is the line down the arm, no more Frankenstein look.

Today I get to indulge, indulge, indulge. Just try to stop me. Bored? Come back another time. Though eventually this all leads to knitting.

At some point during my second heart attack or escalating heart attack I was technically dead. I have been asked about the white light and flippantly answered seeing smoke, hearing jazz, etc.

I can report nothingness instead. Whenever I came close to dying, I felt myself falling into emptiness and nothingness, falling asleep without dreams. Often my thought then was, this dying is not so bad, this feels like easy death. Every time I would wake up again and realize that my death would be much more difficult for my family than myself. At some point during my initial stay at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital I asked the doctor if I would die. He answered: You could. I asked Stephen to call Toby. I had this grand idea of a profound good-bye, but all I managed to tell Stephen and Toby was to take care of themselves and each other and that I’m OK dying.

The image of hell as a 30s nightclub with lots of cigarette smoke and jazz stayed with me for days. In my morphine induced semi dreams and pain state of my body, it morphed into deeper and more desolate pictures. I saw dumpsters and rats and the refuse that used to be people, the music long gone. I wrote poetry in my head about it, but that is long gone too and all I’m left with are the images.

After coming out of surgery, mostly unconscious and breathing tube still in my mouth, I remember Stephen saying that I looked like crying and screaming at the same time. I remember thinking that he can read me well. And then a memory of someone dying behind the curtain next to me. Discussions about DNR and that a decision needs to be made. Next I hear a priest saying a prayer, and then an announcement that it’s over. I could not wait to be able to speak again and talk about this. And the nurse confirmed that it really happened.

Before surgery I assured the surgeon that it would be OK if I died on the operating table. No hard feelings since I brought this on myself. He replied that no one dies in the operating room. Well, but apparently they can a short while after.

I still have the memory of being wheeled to the operating room on my bed. Thoughts of what a big mess this room is, sort of like my house with stuff all over. Not much color though, mostly monochrome. Many, many people bustling about. Then everyone trying to explain what they will be doing until I told them to just put me out and that I’m hoping I will not feel any pain. And that no matter what they explain now, it will make no difference. They will do their job and I’m down the rabbit hole now and hope to find my way back eventually. Next: I’m out. Thanks guys.

After almost 7 hours, I wake up, kind of, almost…. The difficulty was my family waiting all this time. They are the heroes in this story, and of course the doctors and nurses. It’s unimaginable to me what I put them through. I will never, ever be able to show my appreciation and gratefulness and love to them. All I can do is knit whatever they want.

And here we are at knitting, finally. The Zombie BBQ scarf has stopped me. I’m avoiding working on it because it’s not what I wanted and I’m settling for what it is. So many new projects were started until I realized what’s going on. Avoidance. So I made a pact with myself: finish this scarf and you get your knitting freedom back. You’d think this would work, right? No, instead I do all other kinds of crazy stuff.

Here is one crazy project: I signed up for online classes with edx and coursera. 4 of them. Two have started. One is Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease. The reasons for this class is that my life might be affected by people with this disease. The other class I signed up for is Science and Cooking, a Harvard class. Am I over my head in this class! Want to know the molecular weight of food ingredients or the number of molecules in the food? This is the class for you. But they won’t bring me to my knees, though I am close many times. All I have to get is over 60% to pass, I might be able to do that. This is so absurd from someone that had to get the highest grade or feel like a failure. I’ll keep trotting along until the next class How to Change the World and Scandinavian Film and Television.

All this because I don’t want to work on the bloody scarf. There are socks to knit, shawls to finish, mittens to start. Do you realize that Hanukkah starts a day before Thanksgiving this year? Is this crazy or what? It will have to be lots of I-Owe-Yous this year.

Something I believe I did not show you yet is an Ashton shawlette worked in silk for my MIL. I was hesitant to post a picture in case she’s reading here. Her birthday and present giving over, take a look. A silk scarf does not stretch as wool does, but it still turned out.

Pre-blocked and while blocking. One of the next posts will be about my fiber fleece adventures.

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Where a window slams shut, but a portal to another world opens or how I learned to love spinning

Spinning has always been intriguing to me. But investing hundreds of dollars into equipment I might not be able to master is not very appealing. And so I have been yearning and dreaming but did not take any action.

Going to see the San Francisco Giants on Stitch and Pitch night was a dream of mine and about the only item on my bucket list. The only arrangement needed was a dog sitter because our Daisy was not allowed at the park. That’s when the window slammed shut when absolutely no friend was willing or able to take care of her. And Toby was out on a fire during that time. Daisy is absolutely one of the sweetest dogs we ever had, but that did not help.

Wallowing in pity and lamenting that my birthday sucks this year and how I could not even fulfill my one dream, I get a phone call. A 95 year old friend of mine needed some assistance over the next couple of weeks and could I help out a few hours a day. It flashed through my mind that this is the time of my birthday, a very big and important experience every year with big party and all, but I was in the middle of feeling sorry for myself and had not planned a party, remember, the failed attempt at a Giants baseball game, and I just said yes. Might as well do something useful.

My friend Meg and I had a great time together, talking wool, and yarn, and politics, and spinning, and weaving. Meg had been a spinner and weaver for a long, long time. My drop spindle I treated myself to for my birthday arrived and as I always have everything any human being could ever need around the house I of course had some fiber to spin. What fun it was. I invented the extra, extra, extra bulky yarn for which there were no knitting needles large enough.

But let’s get to the portal opening. Meg had a spinning wheel in her bedroom. I dared and asked if I could take it home for a week to give this a try. She not only said yes, but told me to keep it. Talking about generosity! If this isn’t the best experience of my life, and still is. I LOVE spinning! I can’t shout it enough: I LOVE spinning!

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My Anthony Cardarelle spinning wheel number 325 from 1969. My portal to a new universe. Ok, the drawback is less knitting time, and I wish I was twenty and could start over and have a lifetime of spinning ahead of me, but hey, I take what I have and try to make the best.

Yesterday I remembered what I decided to make last holiday season for our daughter for this year’s holidays. Big sigh here because I’m so way behind in my holiday knitting that if I don’t take deep breaths now I might just go into anxiety attack mode. And wouldn’t you know that Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year! Thanksgiving? Does it get any crazier? That’s like what, 2 months away? There oughta be a law….

But back to gift for daughter. It’s the biggest challenge in my knitting life. I will attempt anything and feel competent, but I have this one mountain that I usually don’t climb. OK, there might be a couple of mountains. Though I have made fingerless gloves/mittens, I have never made gloves, but how hard can that be. Just keep on knitting, right? The real obstacle is multi color knitting, changing colors within a row, call it what you want, I call it difficult to impossible. But I will give it a try. Bought the yarn in a panic attack yesterday. Actually walked to our lys to pick it up. And wouldn’t you know, there was some gorgeous other yarn I just had to have, what else is new, and see here my loot.

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The bottom yarn is 1200 yards of fingering weight Blue Ridge Yarns Transitions in the color River Rocks. See how easy it is to sidetrack me? I want to make stuff with this yarn, right now.

Above this yarn see the black and white stuff? Yes, that will make the deathflake mittens. You have to take a look so see how cool our daughter will be with these on. If you are not registered with ravelry and you knit, resistance will be futile. One can spend hours there looking through patterns that will last beyond anyone’s life expectancy. Way more fun than any other online site I have been to. Here is a challenge, find me a better site for a knitter!

Do you see those mittens? Did I mention that the pattern is free? First there is a scarf to finish in Zombie BBQ from Lorna’s laces. I have run into a little snag with the self patterning. The second skein does not behave as well as the first and I have to keep on cutting the yarn and starting at another spot to keep the pattern alive. But I’ll post a picture in the next few days after it’s finished.

In other news, especially health news, I’m going to a shoulder class this evening. Since the beginning of 2007 I deal with shoulder pain. Trying to show the twist on ice to our exchange students, the Yuba river had frozen that year, I fell and braced myself with my hands and arms. Not avoiding falling into the water and being soaking wet, but at least I did not hit my head. I can’t afford any further damage to this priceless appendage on my shoulders if I still want to attempt projects like deathflake mittens.

Well, something jammed in my shoulders and off and on I deal with the consequences of the twist now. But hey, I had some stellar dance moves before the humiliation.

What I have is impingement syndrome and calcification in the shoulder. I have to attend a class before orthopedics is willing to take over. I was OK for a few years but I fell again and since then the pain has not let up. Lately it’s keeping me from sleeping and enough is enough. Considering our monthly health care premiums are $1430, I can expect some care.

Eye Candy

Let me start with some housekeeping before I give you scrumptuous eye candy. Or ignore me and scroll down.

For some reason when I signed up with wordpress I knew not what I was doing. So this blog ended up titled with my name. Yuck! It’s like hearing your own voice or seeing yourself in the mirror in the mornings. I will try changing that today or in the next days. If you are subscribed here I have no idea what will happen. If you do not receive notifications anymore, perhaps do a search for Gemini at Work, I will try for that name.

Old Lenin would be proud of me. Yesterday I knit 6 rows on the KAL lace shawl, tinked 6 rows and knit 2. You are wondering why I’m not hysterically throwing the thing in a far, far corner? Because now I’m the proverbial dog with the bone, I can’t let go. I will show that shawl who the master is. It can’t get any worse, so success will be mine today.

I’m not understanding what is going wrong. I knit, I count, I use pencil and paper, I cross out, I double check, I’m awake. Apparently none of those qualities are needed to knit a shawl, or at least this shawl. Breathe!

Yesterday was still a good day. I got my interchangeable needle set. The addi long lace ones. They arrived 30 minutes too late to start the lace scarf. Yes, I admit, I started another lace project. You knew it? But I had to use half a size up because I could not find the right needles. When the set arrived I immediately switched with a prayer that no one could tell I’m now using a different size needle.

I probably never showed you the yarn I’m using. Have a look, it’s from Hand Maiden. Smells a little, in a good way, but not really like the ocean. But yes, it contains seacell.

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Not sure I picked the right project for this yarn. Time will tell if I frog or knit on.

Now to the pictures you have all been waiting for. Y’all know I started spinning. It will take me months to master that skill, but I’m keeping at it. Bought a few pounds of cheap yarn to practice with and waiting for the day I can use stuff I actually want to knit with.

Have you heard of Inglenook fibers? Check here. I just had to get my hands on a couple of batts and roving from Macrina. She’s an orthodox nun in Boston. But for more information visit this site. Go there if only for the picture of the craft room. I wants this.

I knew about the wool and I also knew how quickly it’s all gone. When the time came for Macrina to post the latest I was at the computer hitting refresh over and over.

And here I present you with my first batt, superwash merino, tencel, bamboo, starbright, silk, silk noil, in the color wine country:

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And one more time from another angle:

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Then I could not resist the bfl/silk top in the color lichen:

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And apparently I have a thing for seacell, because here is the merino/seacell in the appropriate color of river stones:

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And then I ran out of money and time. As soon as I learn to spin like a pro I will be going back and going crazy.

Imagine though, the nun included some crack in her package, a sample of merino/silk. Is this legal? It is the softest thing ever and had me go back to her etsy shop for another hour. A good thing she charges for shipping or I would have succumbed yet again.

My little rant of the day is about a roofer we wanted to make ours. He said he would come by to make a bid several times now and has never shown up, this morning is no exception. We had him bid a couple of years ago, but then I had a breast cancer scare and a year later the massive heart attack and bypass surgery. I think legitimate excuses not to deal with a roof. We might have to move on and find a more reliable person, sad. We kind of liked him and friends who used him were happy.