Weird Wool Wednesday: a racoon in a balloon

racoon in a balloon

I’m only knitting a few rows every evening but I have started to make a little drawing every morning right before work.

Drawing is a passion of mine but I never do it because I’m too critical of my style.
Then yesterday a friend (Hi Meilindis!) redefined my sloppy brush style as “expressive”.
That’s just the right word to keep my inner critic at bay and make another spontaneous drawing tomorrow morning.


no pressure…

Old Town cardi is back at the top of the back panel:

I’ll just start knitting on it again. No pressure.

I wouldn’t mind a bit more pressure though. Adrenal Insufficiency has left me with permanent low blood pressure and last week it got extremely low, due to the tropical temperatures we had in the Netherlands.

Vianen, 35 graden #weer #hetweer #rtweer #record pic by Julian Lim

The heat made my blood vessels dilate and as a result my blood pressure (BP) dropped below functionality and I’ve spend two mornings in bed, unable to think or move for hours. My usual supplement of hydrocortison and salt water did not have any effect (apart from preventing me getting worse).

Hedge in bed pic by Tomasz Stasiuk

It’s very weird, not being able to think, to speak. I was slurring words. Didn’t find the right words and didn’t mind anyway. I only wanted to sleep. But it wasn’t sleep. It was… something else. Where you just… exist? But not consciously. You just lay there. Not even breathing consciously, just letting the parasympathetic nervous system run things, I guess. I did think a few things but they were slow and dream like and not very coherent nor interesting.

Just being. Not even in a profound way.

Old Friend Guarding Home pic by Scott Johnson

I’ve been like this before, a few years back, when I was really really ill. Then too I could not get out of bed in the morning. Couldn’t even lift my head. Couldn’t think, couldn’t talk. Each morning my husband had to put something salty in my mouth before I could lift my head. The thing was: he usually woke up before me and would be down stairs, sipping coffee. So I had to summon him to help me but I couldn’t call him. Each day it would take all the concentration and will power I had to initiate the action to knock on the side of my night stand to make some sound and “call” him that way. He’d hear and come up and ask what I needed and I’d lay there, trying to make him read my mind and feed me some of the salty cracker that was on my night stand. This went on for about 2 years I think.

That was really bad hypotension. Or maybe just adrenal problems. And we let it go on for too long. But we were surviving back then, we weren’t thinking straight, we didn’t know what it was.
I should have told my doctor sooner. I thought I had described it to him but apparently I hadn’t, not really. I remember that when I eventually did, my GP got pale and stared at me and wrote out a prescription for cortisol without breaking eye contact. It was surreal.
It made me too scared to ask how bad these episodes had been.

Doctor pic by Jeff Eaton

Nowaways I cruise at a BP of 90 over 60 with a heart rate of 60 bpm when resting and 80 when standing. The daily doses of hydrocortison (= cortisol) insure my body is up and running again -or at least sitting and knitting- and there’s enough to get me through the day 24/7. I no longer have those weird zombie spells.

"Don't worry about those cream-filled idiots. At least you have a brain." pic by Josh Wedin

A blood pressure of 90/60 is still too low for me, it’s hypotension. It should be 120/100 at least. One of the troubles is there’s not enough pressure to push nutrients and sugar and oxygen into tissues, muscles and brains. Because that’s what blood pressure is for. It’s not for keeping your arteries nice and round.

This failing to deliver goods to important places results in malnutrition of organs, in weakness in muscles (including bad coordination) and mental symptoms where you cannot think properly. I still struggle to notice when these things present themselves, due to the brain fog it brings. Also I have no solution for this low BP, I cannot get it up. I take salt by the bucket, straight out of the shaker and with everything I drink. I drink a lot. And I once experimented with taking higher doses of cortisol but that didn’t raise it either.

Day 19 pic by Pascal

Last week with the hot weather temperatures rose to 35 degrees. I didn’t recognize fast enough how vulnerable I am too heat. I had two of “those mornings” again. You just have to lay there. There’s nothing else you can do. Head full of cotton fluff. So tired, so tired. Clammy skin. All you want to do is sleep. But it’s not sleep, it’s existing, without time or plan.

Blood pressure monitor pic of blood measure by Tunstall

It would get better around noon, as the natural cortisol levels of the circadian rhythm lessen. I’d get out of bed and write on the legal report I have to submit next week. I’d forget about the morning, too busy to catch up on the day. After two days I recognized that this was not good. We tried to take my blood pressure but it took a whole other day for me to remember where the meter was (in my night stand, where it has always been but I was sure I put it somewhere else and I didn’t even check. That’s how messed up the brain gets.)

Anyway, on the day it got cooler I found my wits again and was able to sort things out. I got out of bed, got dressed, found the meter, BP was 79 over 57 with a heart rate of 57 beats per minute. Ridiculously low. But I was functioning.

Got to the (new) doctor, asked for a mineral corticosteroid called Florinef (= fludrocortison) which solely busies itself with raising blood pressure. Got it. Felt better.
Then felt worse. Because one of its side effects may be depression.
Oh please! Give me a break!

The kettle just won't shut up! pic by Benjamin Lehman

Today I ruled out it is anything else apart from the Florinef making me sad. That it’s not from something I ate (vanillin, vanilla essence) or a shortage of Progesteron or Zinc or vit D or Lithium (the mineral, not the drug) or Choline. I have a whole array of things that can cause acute depression in me and it’s driving me mad!
I established that yes, it is indeed the Florinef causing my depressive mood. Well, that’s new.

Luckily my husband read online that this may be caused because Florinef uses up a lot of the Kalium which is supposed to be in balance with Natrium (= Sodium = table salt) to keep your BP up. And also the brain chemistry of ridiculously sensitive people.
I ate half a banana (chuck full of Kalium) and the doom and weepiness seemed to lessen.

Tomorrow I try again. Take Florinef, see if depressive feelings rear again, see if I can curb them with half a banana. So I can be happy (or just merely OK) and do some knitting or other stuff.

I’m sorry. I don’t usually post these things here, I hope, with al this grievance and so little knitting. But it’s on my mind now and it colours my every day and it explains why there are few knitting blog posts these days.
I’m so tired of this shite. All these variables and this sensitive, sensitive system I’m working with.

I wouldn’t mind one bit to be a robust extrovert for a month and just enjoy things!

happy banana pic by ingridf

(Luckily I match my list of chemical imbalance culprits with a list of tactics to get rid of them. But today I feel the need to gripe about it all and couldn’t keep it away from the blog. Sorry about that.)

PS I did do some knitterly things today. I knit four rows on the Old Town cardi and then I saw I’d better go down a needle. My gauge has changed since I knitted the top of the back panel. So at the moment I’m in the middle of trying to pick up stitches four rows below where I am but this is fiddly and needs a bit more brain power than I can muster in my free time.

Instead I spend an hour making a new ravatar for Tour de Fleece, carefully choosing the right shade of pink for the cat’s wig:

Tour de Fleece starts in week. Sshh! I haven’t finished that blue Shetland I wanted to finish before. Haven’t carded the Swifter fleece I want to spin so bad during TdF either! And also… before TdF starts that court document I’m writing must be submitted. Oh man… the heat is on.

Weird Wool Wednesday: a frog with a silver lining.

I thought I got away with nothing weird in my knitting this week. But tonight I must admit that the shaping on this back looks really awful:

It’s like I’m hiding three little frogs under there!

These are reeeeeally long rows, top down, seamless. In fingering weight.

Front looks alright. The yarn is nice and soft against my neck.

It’s my New Old Town cardigan in my handdyed yarn. I’ve been knitting on it for days now, enhancing the pattern with some back shaping to suit the small of my back. That’s where the owl marker was used! But I guess I’ve started too late and have decreased too much in too few rows. It sags horribly.

It’ll have to be frogged to just a few centimeters below that copper centre back marker. Where I still have breasts to cover on the front, which is why I postponed all decreases until I had knit past them. I now think I will insert some gradual back decreases high up but no side seam decreases yet…

Hmpf! I was enjoying the mindless rows of stockinette stitch because we’re dealing with tropical heat in this little frog of a country and I’m also writing new reports for the courts and we have painters in and around the house.
My days are packed and stressful, I need my mindless knitting at night!

Well, the half full kind of person would say I now get to do even more of that soothing mindless knitting …
He looks so not impressedpic by Colin Campbell

Finished Indigo socks. And it was a snowman!

I changed the direction of the leaves in the cuff:

There’s a neat little leaf in the cuff, adding to the decreases there:

It’s my own addition. Just like how I changed the heel flap:

I used 85 grams of Wolop Basis Sok plantaardig, handdyed indigo sock yarn. Mock cable. Only twisted stitches on the cuff because they are hard on my rsi. I’d prefer the look of twisted stitches on the leg but I prefer painfree shoulders more.

And these are the gifts that were hidden in the ball of yarn. I LOVE knitting up a magic yarn ball!
magic yarn ball knitter gifts
Buttons and stitch markers and a seam ripping tool for sewing (much appreciated) and a cat shaped pinch thingy annnnnd indeed a snowman! Thank you Lieneke!! 😘 You have given me Sinterklaas in the middle of Summer!

magic yarn ball knitter gifts
The packaging was neat too. Little bags with polkadots and owl tape 🙂

Look at the owls! They have opinions, I think:
magic yarn ball knitter gifts
And that mushroom stitchmarker haha! I gave these mushroom beads to Lieneke for our first Sinterklaas because she loves mushroom (just not for dinner thanks). And she has the skills to make these amazing stitchmarkers (that won’t snag on your knitting for example) but I didn’t know she had and now I have one!

I freed up the owl marker before the mushroom and it’s already been in use:

On my Old Town cardigan. Yes I am dutifully knitting on my WIPs now that SockMadness is over! Nice place holders make it all the more enjoyable 🙂

Happily knitting a blue sock.

You know I don’t like to knit with blue yarn.
But I make an exception for the hand dyed indigo yarn from Wolop. This is great to knit with!

I’ve already finished one sock.

The pattern is a pattern with leaves that I’ve used for plant dyed yarns from Wolop before and I LOVE those socks. They remain beautiful and wear so well.

Woad and Red onion:

The pattern used to be Blattwerk by Stephanie van der Linden but there’s an error in the charts and I’ve changed the mock cable and the heel and other things. Also this time I’m knitting it top down.

The back:

The toe:

(I still cannot kitchener toes without them getting pointy edges. Don’t know the solution. Do you? I tried pulling the yarn through the last three stitches but that didn’t work.)

This is where I am now, about to turn the heel on the second sock:

There’s an extra incentive to knit with blue: this yarn is wound into a Magic Ball!

As I knit little presents fall out:

As part of a swap Lieneke filled it with little gifts that are are freed when I knit up the yarn. This was freed already:


Now that makes me knit with blue yarn!

This is still waiting for me:

Poke poke to get a peek peek:

Hmm. Suspicious shape… I know this shape…

Could this be…. a snow man?…. as a cookie cutter?

What do you think, Lillepoes?


Yes, definitely a cookie cutter. Knit on and make me some salmon flavoured cookies!

Knit on, human!

Last round of Sockmadness is Sunday.

Tomorrow the very last round of this year’s Sockmadness starts. At 11 o’clock in the morning in New York time the pattern will be released, that will be about 5 o’clock in the sun filled afternoon in Europe.

Every team has one last knitter standing and these will compete against each other. We think the winner will knit 24/7 and will have a pair finished in maybe as fast as 10 hours. This is ridiculously fast! The average time for knitting a pair of fairly uneventful socks is 14 days for normal people.

The team member in my team Nattier Markhor who is still competing is Puppymancer. She’s a chemistry teacher and loves puppies. Add to that that a Markhor is some sort of stubborn goat and you’ll apreciate the pictures I found to cheer her on with tomorrow in the team thread:
Distill the meaning of the pattern!

Make sure to tighten those stitches!

A month ago I knew I’d run my race when Sock Madness pattern Symphony came out. Being a pattern with lots of twisted stitches my rsi would flare up and I had to be sensible. It wasn’t fun, giving up, but after a few days moping I returned to the team thread to cheer them on. Also the Dutch SockMadness thread has been fun to read.

Being out of the competition meant I didn’t HAVE to knit the competition patterns that were released. And I didn’t. I had too much fun returning to the vests and cardigans I’d been knitting before the Sock Madness started. Not to mention the plant dyeing and flower printing and that lovely day of spinning at the Sheep Shearing Festival.

These are the patterns from the last few rounds:
round 6, the last round, Pentoeminoes by Mylene Pijpers:

This sock features intarsia in blocks of five squares which are called pentominoes. I’ve never done this technique in a consistent way. I have not knit this sock.

This is round 5, Honey and Clover by Natalia Vasilieva:

This technique is mosaic, with slipped stitches and changing colours every two rows. It’s not a technique I particularly like because all the slipping means you have to practically knit every row twice. This sock is made with garter stitch which I do not find an appealing look.

Beautiful cuff brim and heel and sole stripes:

So many socks this year have colour work in them, it seems to be an emerging theme for SM11! It made a lot of socks thick. Not bulky per se but warm.

In this sock madness there were also some bonus patterns, for the people who had finished their competition socks fast and had to wait for the end of the round.
This is Guise & Gyle by Carolyn (Candy) Degel:

Cables and stranded colour work and twisted stitches.

There was one sock that could benefit from a semisolid yarn, Ssssnakes by Bridget Landry:

There’s a snake lurking in the greens.

And the other solid coloured, no stranding, no beads sock this madness, Retro Madness by Copper Blade Designs:

Just playing with knits and purls.

Here’s the bundle where all the patterns of this year’s Sock Madness will be:

Now I’m getting ready for the last round of this competition and being a fun cheerleader. Of to search some more pictures and help those goats.

Go Puppymancer, go!

(breaking my own rule I did not put sources to the puppy and goat pictures yet. I’m too tired at the moment.)
(All sock pictures are pattern page pictures and are attributed to the designers of the socks.)

Finished: grey Pumpkin Ale cardigan

It’s finished but it’s not: the pockets need to be cut out and sewn in. But the knitting is done!

Pattern Pumpkin Ale by Ysolda Teague

Cabled back panel from free pattern 123-9 Lady Love by DROPS design

The yarn is Chester Wool Superwash merino 300m/100gr and I used 4,35 balls. That’s about 1300 meters.
It’s wonderfully soft and very suited to wear against my skin. Like the collar in my neck.
I look forward to finding out how well it wears. I expect pilling with this softness.

Knit on needles 2,25 mm getting a gauge of a-smidge-under-20-stitches-in-10-centimetres. Except on the sleeves where I knitted with a gauge of 26 stitches per 10 centimetres. That is why I write in bold on all my project notes: knit sleeves on bigger needles!
If only I learned to read and follow instructions…

The back panel is so beautiful!

Mushroom steek repaired

The end result:

the two vertical needles indicate the part I frogged and rebuilt. Everything between those needles has been frogged, down to the acorn marker that marks the centre of the steek.

This is where I started:

The steek is positioned 10 stitched too much on the right. And I forgot to do the decreases in the first couple of rows above the marker.

Here’s everything frogged and the marker positioned at the stitch that has to be the new middle of the steek. Steek will be 8 st wide total, 4 st to each side of the marker. Decreases will be 2 stitches away from the steek.

Having determined what goes where I now have to sort out which yarn goes in which row and in what colour sequence. That spaghetti is daunting…

Figuring out which two colours belonged to which row was best done from the Wrong Side of the work. For the first six rows I parked them and marked them. The red pin on the bottom left holds the two yarn for the first row. One yarn I found at the edge of the frogged work, the other I found by “walking” along that row until I found a dangling colour:

I then took the first two colours, tried to read the colour pattern of the existing row, and knitted the live stitches in that pattern, except the stitch with the marker on on top of which I cast on 8 stitches.

Having knit from right to left I met the existing knitting on the left and found out I had knitted way and way tighter than the existing gauge. There was still length  of yarns left but no more stitches needed:

I don’t know what went wrong. Gauge for sure, I’m nervous doing this and yanking the yarn. I also do not remember whit what colours I casted on those extra 8 stitches the first time around. I probably used more green then yellow then, seeing as I now have more green than yellow left.

I undid the row and knitted it again, trying to have a looser gauge and trying to use equal amounts of colour for the 8 cast on stitches. It didn’t work. I tried again. I tried loosening every stitch after I knit the whole row, to make the yarn more equally distributed. Didn’t work.

Then I gave up. Then I decided to knit the right half of the row from the right side and the left half from the left side. The extra yarn would end up in the middle (of the steek) and that would be alright because eventually this is where the steek will be cut so these extra ends won’t matter. I am at peace with my gauge for now being tighter than the rest of the vest. It’s only a detail.

Here’s how that first row looks after this approach (not all steek stitches have been cast on yet):

That’s ok. That’ll do.

So that’s how I worked it. Pick the two yarns appropriate for the row. Figure out the stitch pattern for that row. Work one half from the left. Work the other half from the right. Remember to do a decrease every third row. Leave extra length in the middle of the steek and be cool with that.

Here I am half way. Not trying to panic over looks and the yarn spaghetti:

Still so much yarn spaghetti!

Don’t panic. Just keep working, one row at the time.

Eventually I reached the top. The spaghetti sorted itself out, two strands at a time. The middle looks weird and messy but it is correct technically. If I pull on the loose parts the neighbouring stitches will tighten and it will look better.

The sides of the steek look good too. Patterns continue. There are decreases. I think I’m alright.

It took 5 hours, over the course of a couple of days.