enjoying the great weather

Due to a rare hurricane aiming for Ireland we get warm air from the south of Europe. It’s right Summery over here!

I’m making good use of it, washing an old fleece and a newer one.

Someone has lived in the old fleece!

The newer one (Spring 2016) looks much better.

Both are organic fleeces from De Laan van Wisch.

I plan to spin them 2ply, preserving the colours and knitting a sweater from it with enough wearing ease.

not sure yet whether to make the sweater a whole gradient (“ombré”) or make random dark and light stripes. But will take care not to have one white and one dark single all the time. Sometimes there need to be two white or two dark.

I also think I will knit something from it for the organic farmers who own these sheep. But what?

The woman is thrilled with her fingerless mitts. A second pair? I don’t think she wears hats.

O well, first wash these babies. Then dry. Pick. Card. Spin. There’s plenty time to think!


Skimpy sweater knitting

I knit a bit of a cowl on the Shetland handspun boxy winter sweater and continued knitting downwards.

A bit of waist shaping, “eh, this isn’t so boxy after all” and a bind off later.

It should be longer. I should knit up all the yarn that’s left in my hand, even my husband says so.

So I’ll frog a bit and then reknit. As usual.

Yes, we’re having nice day at the cabin. The weather is warm and we needed to be here for a meeting with the neighbours about the pending court cases against the manure plant. It was a lovely meeting and they showed their appreciation for my efforts:

Today we rest.

birthday gift: a handmade cat tea mug! And lots of cats cuddles.

So last Wednesday I met up with Dootje, from The Woolly Dodo amazing stitchmarkers, and she gave me a birthday gift:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cakeArtushka cat tea mug ceramic ceramics handmade cuddling kittyArtushka cat tea mug ceramic ceramics handmade cuddling kittyArtushka cat tea mug ceramic ceramics handmade cuddling kitty
A big handmade cat tea mug! A wonderful, functional, cat mug!

Remember a while back when my knitter friend Spectre had her birthday and Dootje gave her stitchmarkers and I gave a cat mug from Etsy and we met her cat Suus?

Such a friendly party it was. The mug was from Budapest artist Brigitta Bondar who has an Etsyshop ARTushkashop as well as a brick & mortar shop in the centre of Budapest.

Dootje went to that knitters’ party, knows how I adore cat/tea/ceramics and in August she went to Budapest, to the amazing festival Sziget. She had contacted Brigitte and arranged to buy a mug for me. So fantastically sneaky and lovely!!

She saw her both in her shop and in her booth at the festival:
 pics by ARThuska
She took it all the way back the Netherlands (that’s across the continent of Europe) and then brought it to the cat café Balthazar in Nijmegen to give it to me.

Balthazar is an amazing cat café, with a very nice atmosphere, no hurrying and lots of relaxed and friendly kitties. Among them Coco:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake
Ew, a naked cat. I’ve never seen a Sphinx cat up close. I imagine all cats have these wrinkles, only they are covered with fur.

Coco is very friendly! And intelligent. And want to play a lot. And adores the sun. She has beautifully coloured eyes but I don’t have a picture of them. Look at that thin tail:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake

Noor the Norwegian Forest Cat came and laid on Dootjes cat bag:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cakecatcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cakecatcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake
Such a beauty!

Like I said, a very friendly café. No fixed time by which you have to go. Lots of lovely food. The best cat café I’ve visited until now. Look what amazing cake they had that day:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake

This is the cat of the owner, who lives above the shop. He is huge! And very friendly.
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake
I’ve never seen a cat that big. He was so friendly. Didn’t like to walk across the pebbles though. None of them did.

The two kittens Kiwi and Moes, always in for mischief. Or falling asleep right in your lap. Or next to Coco who is radiating warmth. And will clean your fur for you.
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cakecatcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake

While we sat there I got a message from home:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake
“All cats relaxed and happy here too.”

When I walked to the station I encountered this plant, in one of the gardens people create spontaneously in their street, right in the public spaces:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake
It’s called “Cat’s Whiskers”, kattensnor.

and I made this with my Pentel Pocket Brush:
catcafé Balthazar Nijmegen kattencafé cat café tea cake

I did bring some knitting with me. The lila cardi, which has its back panel finished and now whants its sleeve reknitted. Mindless stockinette stitch, just what I needed. I knitted on it in the train, staring out the window.

Amazing mug:
Artushka cat tea mug ceramic ceramics handmade cuddling kittyArtushka cat tea mug ceramic ceramics handmade cuddling kitty

Want to hear something funny? Spectre and I share rare, handmade cat tea mugs.

I now have this new one, from the same range that Spectre has.

But a previous cat tea mug that I bought and showed here, she liked so much that she got one for herself:

I love how we appreciate the same things, while there’s a span of land and sky between us.

Thank you Dootje! You amazing gift giver.

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.

Solar Dyeing by myself

Today it’s 30 degrees in the sun, a good prompt to do some solar dyeing.

I chose some duizendblad (= Cow’s Parsley) to see whether I could overdye some two toned blue Merino I’ve got. Mordanted with alum:

21-06-10 Cause I'd Rather Pretend I'll Still Be There At The End ~ Explored #1 pic by Bethan Phillips

This is the Merino I started with, a whole box full. It’s so soft! Two tones of blues, very similar to the Shetland I’m spinning at the moment.

The new and the old colour next to each other:

The darker blue only got a tinge of yellow. The light one is beautiful, really bright. But it’s all too bluegreen. I don’t enjoy spinning, knitting nor wearing greenblue at the moment. A good experiment. Now I know I won’t be overdyeing the Merino with Cow’s Parsley.

Here’s the experiment in a better colour photo:

When I tried to open the jar an hour ago it wouldn’t budge. I grew so frustrated that I decided to prick a whole in the lid. And I noticed I couldn’t open the other jar either….

It’s the red onion solar dyeing project I got at Wolop’s plant dyeing workshop a month ago! Might as well prick that one too. And since it then opened so easily I better take out the skein and look how it went, my first solar dyeing experiment.

Ooh! and Aaah!

It’s so hard to capture the colour! It’s golden green, through and through and it seems to come from the core of the yarn, not laying on the outer surface. It’s gorgeous.

I saved the dyebath and hope to cook it up later today and dye some fleece with it.

more WIPs

The new Sock Madness pattern dropped and it’s Symphony Socks by Elisabeth White:

Beads! Twisted stitches! Lots of little cables!

It’s a lovely pattern but pretty much from the start I knew I’d better be sensible and stop racing. Allow myself to become a cheerleader in the Sock Madness competition. A sock like this, with little cables and a deadline, would ignite my RSI. The same thing that knocked me out in the first round of the competition last year.

It’s not too bad to bow out. I had so many things I wanted to knit on instead. The startitus was raging and now I got to do something about it.



This flew off the needles.
It’s my continuous version of Debbie Vest by Aethalia O’Connor. Provisional cast on at the back, only need to cut yarn once before the body is cast off.

This part took 150 grams of handspun, about 340 metres on needle 3,75 mm. Getting pattern gauge which is 19 st /10 cm
The ribbing on the neckline and arm holes is done on needles 3,25 mm. Which means my 3,75 mm needles are free to cast on another Continuous Debbie vest in the green yarn I bought at Midwinterwol for a Spring vest.

I’ve also started on my mushroom dyed stranded project:
It will be a wristwarmer. So much more sensible than trying out for a vest.

This way I can try out the pattern I made on Stitchfidle and find out the gauge. I was tempted to cast on for a steeked vest but that’s really too ambitious if you don’t know your gauge, if you don’t know how much yarn the stranded parts take, if you aren’t sure about the design you made anyway and if you have never steeked before.
Also: next week there’s a woolfest in Nieuwpoort, organized by De Schapekop, and I promised to show my stranded mushroom thingie there. Knitting a stranded vest in fingering weight in the coming 7 days is ludicrous.

The yarn knits very nice and the pattern makes me want to do one more round, one more round, just one more round 🙂
I’m knitting on 2,25 mm and my gauge seems to be 26 stitches in 10 cm. The colour work is done over 60 stitches, the ribbing over 54 st.

In between I’m knitting away on my magic ball:

Here’s me this morning, having a bit of quality time by myself 🙂

The yarn is indigo dyed sock yarn from Wolop and I’m making it into Blattwerk pattern socks top down. The magic ball unravels while I knit and reveals little presents. This one was made by Lieneke from Wolop.
I’ve nearly finished one leg and the first little present is in sight!

On my plate i a Dutch pastry called a Bokkepootje. This one is huge! Usually they are about the size of a finger:
 pic by cliokchia
It consists of two almond merengues, glued together with buttercream and both ends are dipped in chocolate. With almonds sprinkled on top. Here’s a recipe.

The name means something like “Billygoat-feetsie” and originates from a baker in the very old dike-hamlet of Tuitjenhorn. In this God loving community there was an annual gathering to commemorate all the local people who had died. Eating pastry was part of that event. Eating little devil-feet shows wished victory over evil influences in the hereafter.
(I did not know. Eating “bokkepootjes” no longer has this connotation but it does explain where the name comes from.)

Two vests, a sock and a stranded cuff can be added to the WIPs I’m already working on.

Weird Wool Wednesday: startitus interruptus

Today I wanted to cast on three vests, a sock and one hat. Seriously.

I was going to show you funny pictures too.
A picture of these new WIPs-to-be (5) and the WIPS I’m currently working on (3 socks and 1 vest and 1 cardigan and 1 spinning project) and the WIPS I very much want to work on (3 cardigans and 1 weaving project and 2 knitting related sewing projects) and the WIPs I don’t want to work on and stuffed in the back of the closet but that I ought to get back to (3 cardigans and 1 shawl at least).
It would be funny, taking stock of the WIPs and I would knit like the wind all Weird Wool Wednesday long!

But here I am. Sick in bed. With a sore throat and or lungs. All day.
This is my third cold in seven years I think…
I’m never ill because I have this low cortisol level. It makes for a mean and reactive immune system 🙂 You could say I have a diva warrior defending me. “Everything is a threat and they must BURN!”

It seems I’ve crippled my warrior at the wool party, taking perhaps too much of my cortisol Hormone Replacement Therapy. There has also been some stress the past couple of weeks, with the planned manure plant next to the cabin (I’m still fighting them in court). And yesterday I had to manage a doctor at the hospital into getting me the exam I need. Not an easy thing to do since they are very overworked at that department and the times are still not ripe for patients who are competent discussion partners in their treatment. But we’re getting there. Luckily less and less doctors feel threatened by patients asking questions and giving suggestions. But it takes some grace and social skills, both of which take me a lot of energy to muster and apply.

Anyway, stress ups cortisol levels and cortisol surpresses the imune system but you have no time to be ill so you soldier on.
Untill you do have time. And that’s why you get ill at the beginning of your holidays or after you’ve done the doctor thing or done the legal thing. The stress has lessened overnight but the cortisol rages on for a while, it being a slow train of an anti-stress hormone.
You finally have time to be ill and so you are.

I’ve been in bed all day. Coughing and sleeping. Lillepoes likes it a lot. Not the coughing bit but the sleeping bit. It’s nice 🙂

I thought I just pop in here and talk to you, from my iPad. Hopefully tomorrow I can take those photo’s. But honestly, the magic moment has gone. Tomorrow looks to be just plain old regular Thursday.

But we’ll see. Haven’t touched wool today. Might be a decisive factor on magic.