Weird Wool Wednesday: competing in the brainfog

On the last row of the leg I see I’ve been knitting it wrong:

I did not start the pattern on the back of the leg, after I put in the waste yarn for the afterthought heel.

It’s my first after thought heel and it was all new, not having a clear bend in the sock, an end row after which you do something different. I kept the sock on magic loop and just continued what I’d been doing: stockinette stitch on one needle, pattern on the other. Aiming for the endgoal: the cuff. Because then there’s be dessert: knitting the striped heel!

Only now, after 68 rows, do I discover that my sock is WRONG. Not the sock I meant to knit. Butchering the designer’s intent.

I could cry… not because of the competition, even though I probably lost it now. But because I’ve been working so diligently, catching and correcting every mistake I make in the stitch pattern (and I make mistakes every row because of brain fog). And now I’ve made this big mistake and didn’t catch it for 68 long rows. All that concentration, all that dedication and positiveness. I feel cheated. I hate ME.

UPDATE

It’s now a few hours later and I’ve started a new sock, with new yarns (both Drops Fabel):

Nice in white with greenish contrast colour. I’ll see how far I’ll go. At least the pressure is of the competition now, for me.

last day of Woolvacation 2016

It’s finally good weather. No sun but plenty of wind. I’m reading up on dyeing with plants, having one of the last pancakes of the vacation:

Last week I went out for a little bike ride and gathered some dyeing plants: Goldenrod (guldenroede) and Common Tansy (boerenwormkruid).

After our visit to Münster I also want to gather some Lily of the Valley and dye three batches in one pot. But as it turns out, choosing which wool to dye is my hurdle. I cannot decide whether to get some yarn or some fleece. And then I’d have to premordant it with Alum.

It’s strange, these are not big steps to take but all in all it’s too much for me to handle. I’m blaming CSF, AI, IBS-C and many other capitalized nuisances. Making choices is one of my well known symptoms. So I’ve resolved not to dye today. To let it go.

Instead I’m doing laundry and roam about our little patch of wood a bit.

Ewww! (banana for scale)

Now it’s close to 5 o’clock and I have not been able to do much today. I have not been outside other than taking these picture and using the laundry lines we’ve hung in the trees around the cabin.

I have been knitting though. I’ve been picking up stitches around the armhole of Grey Flinders and I now know not to use the very stretchy bindoff for temporarily bind offs because it leaves little bumps, here seen on the left:

To avoid that look I’ve picked up stitches THROUGH this little bump, as seen on the right.

Here is the bind off with its bumps and me picking up stitches:

Picking up stitches through the bumps causes major curling as I effectively use a loop at the right side of the knitting to pick up a stitch from. Only with severely blocking and some decreasing at the outer edge can I counter this curling. Here’s one arm hole done:

I did use the very stretchy bind off (JSSBO) for the outer edge because it is, after all, nice and stretchy.

 

Tour de Fleece Day 16: sitting outside celebrating the day.

Spinning the second half of the gradient pack. It’s a beautiful day in the Netherlands. Tomorrow it will be nearly tropical and the same on Wednesday. 30 degrees Celsius and more.

During the day I’m sitting inside with the curtains and shutters closed. I come outside early in the morning and late in the afternoon, just after all the commuting traffic has passed. It’s lovely.

Lovely the second: I’m baking a lot of pancakes!


Pancakes are celebratory food in my family. When I lived in Norway I was baking pancakes and at the same time my brother was baking pancakes, while studying in Spain. Together we spanned the European continent, with my parents somewhere in the middle.
Pancakes also featured in my wedding celebration, ten years ago.

I haven’t had pancakes in a couple of years because it was thought I couldn’t handle gluten but it turns out it’s bran that’s the problem.

Can’t have bran and nuts and corn and seeds and raw vegetables and broccoli and kale and any sulphur rich vegetable and cheese and mascarpone and ham and bacon and alcohol and yeast and fried vegetable oils and garlic and onions. I think that’s about it? And artificial vanilla flavouring.

That leaves me eating pancakes!
This week I learned to make them in a regular pan, not one with the anti-sticky bottom. A real pan needs more fat (I use coconut) and needs to be really hot before you pour the batter.
Then it sticks like mad but if I leave it alone for a while it unsticks itself. The taste is amazing! You are invited to come visit and I’ll bake you a pancake and we can both worry whether it will come loose from the pan or not and then you can taste for yourself!

I eat them with jam/jelly.

(‘jelly’ is American for jam, the Brits use ‘jelly’ for ‘jello’. Don’t try to make a PBJ sandwich with British jelly.)

So I eat pancakes or white bread with full fat butter and a fruity jam once or twice a day.

My third meal is protein rich, to get all the repair-proteins for bodily maintenance and regular operating procedures such as cell division on board.
It can be four runny egg yokes on white bread. Drumsticks, steak, homemade curries, chicken soup, fish. Liver.

Proteins are quite hard for me to digest, what with the weird bodily makeup I have.
First my stomach acid is not acid enough due to low cortisol. But if I supplement cortisol and I overdo it just the tiniest bit digestion is suspended because my body thinks we are in Fight or Flight.
Secondly my duodenum is twisted in an irregular way. The human body isn’t build too smartly anyway in the area where the exit of the stomach is. Organs are stacked on top of each other, with tubes running every which way trying to deliver digestive enzymes and bile. On top of all the colon comes for a visit, twisting its way from the back to the front and then to the back again, just curling forward to keep the exit of the stomach in a choke hold it seems. At least mine does.
Thirdly my liver isn’t willing to produce bile at the moment.
I have to coax and aid all of these factors. No wonder I have to lie down after this meal, when the stomach is ready to release its content.

Then fourthly, if proteins do manage to get absorbed into my bloodstream, I do not have enough blood pressure to push them into my cells.
Fiftly my cells cannot handle proteins very well because of DNA unfortunalities in the mitochondria. I aid this with activated vitamin B12 (methyl-B12 and methyl-folate). For years I couldn’t do this because mB12 is like pouring rocket fuel into your cells: you boost the processes big time. If there are heavy metals or other toxins or not enough minerals and cofactors in the cell the process will burn and crash spectacular, making the person crash too.

It took me a few years to get rid of all the heavy metals, to bring minerals into balance, to boost my blood pressure to minimum working levels and to calm down the various organs and nervous system.

Now I’m at the stage that I can take mB12 and mFolate on a regular basis without burning or crashing. So now I can eat protein and hopefully use it for needed repairs and adequate hormone levels.

And that is how I recovered from ME/CFS. I have a bunch of other problems still to deal with such as Adrenal Insufficiency, messed up neurotransmitters due to MAO A and MOA B being too slow and a traverse colon that won’t work (sending me into Fight or Flight every night).
But I’m not complaining. At least I’m no longer in my bed, very ill. I can sit outside again and spin a bit.

Which calls for celebratory pancakes!

no Countryfair for me today , no Countryfair for anybody yesterday

This weekend the Countryfair is held in a village nearby that I visit every year. It’s one of the highlights of my wool year! I host the cosy SnB table where we knit all day and eat lovely things and people can sit down and join us.

It’s a huge event with sheep and cows and brocante and food samples and a Steampunk popcorn maker and vintage and antique farm equipment and garments and prams and a adventure forest for children and dancing sheep and chicken football and hamsters and professional fencing companies and quad dealers and outragous horse breeds and cows to cuddle and reindeer and sheep dog shows and birds of prey shows and lots of felting art and supplies and lots of fleeces and so much more.

Last year I collapsed and couldn’t participate in the last two days. I brought my stretcher but it was no good:

This year I decided to go to the Organic Farm last week instead and skip the Fair. It’s just too massive and too intense for me this year. But now that the Fair is actually happening I’m quite blue and sad.

The Fair is such a lovely event! Every year I drive to the venue early in the morning. In my wool car, filled to the brim with wool examples and knits and fun things. And every year I get stuck behind an antique thresher and its antique tractor filled with hay.

It fills me with giggles as we slowly wind our way through the lovely, small scale landscape, with this High Summer atmosphere cast over the landscape. Golden grain and swallows everywhere.

The Wool-tent is a delight. I bring a nostalgic table cloth and flowers and food and glass bottles filled with water and slices of lemon and orange and mint (and salt) to make it through the hot humid day.

2012 or 2011, my very first fair:

2014:

I splurge on unsuspected wool purchases that make me happy the rest of the year.

2015:

Not this year.

I’m so sad. (I need to actively distract myself and knit and enjoy my own garden and eat lovely things at home. We’re going into the vilage and get an organic ginger ice-cream and I prepared a pinapple with whipped cream. Planning to enjoy my garden. Perhaps do some spinning outside? I made a list of things to choose from but still it’s plan B.

Then something else happened this year at the Countryfair! It got flooded. There was terrible rain all night long and the venue flooded and booths collapsed and drifted away. Lots of damage and an unsuitable terrain.

They had to cancel the first day of the three day event, something that happened only once in the decades it’s been on.

Look at this pictures of yesterday morning:

pictures by Omroep Gelderland, Gelrenieuws and Gelderlander.nl

They worked very hard all day yesterday, with help from the local Fire Departments, lots of volunteers and friends and the official water management institutions that are sprinkled all over my country (we’ve been battling water for 400 years over here, what with the country being below sea level AND receiving water from major rivers from all over Europe.)

They did it! Here’s yesterday morning and last night photo:
countryfair-2016

Visitors and vendors and hosts are advised to wear wellies and enjoy the day. Anybody with a useless ticket for yesterday is admitted freely today and tomorrow.

Please do so and have a lovely day!

So whatcha doin’?

Well….. I’m knitting a sock waiting at the doctor’s office:

A new pair of SlipStripeSpiral socks by Mylene Pijpers. I want something to complement that gorgeous blue green purple ball. And I’m all into greyish purples at the moment so I expect great things from this 50 gram ball of Regia.

The doctor is running late:

Apparently it takes me one hour to knit a toe.
How I pitied the other people waiting! They have nothing else to do but delve into their phones or leaf through germ ridden magazines filled with soul-eroding advertisements.

The dr. appointment went well. I got the OK to officially self manage my adrenal insufficiency from now on and he will tell his successor so.
The way he said that last part was: “Are you on my list of difficult patients?”
I am now.

Then we talked about DNA and Methylation and he concluded our visit with: “Every time you’re sitting here I think: what will you teach me today?”
That got me all flustered. I don’t feel like an expert at all, more like stumbling and good at choosing which pits to avoid.

I walked home and had a little cry. It has been so scary to go up against a mysterious illness that no doctor can explain and had me near death in my bed. Then tweak things a bit and get a foot hold here and there and eventually recover a bit and develop a working theory that makes sense but I cannot comprehend in its totality. My GP agrees on my theory and supports the drugs and tests I want to take. But now I take these dangerous hormones and I have to be smart and cautious at the same time and I’m scared all over again. Scared because now I have a chance at health but now I also know there’s so much (medicine/biology) that I don’t know and there’s so much in a body that can go faulty. That I can actively cause to go faulty. I know we all have to die of something in the end but I’m actively stirring the pot of options.

Brrrr!
After my little cry and a big hug from Robert, Lillepoes and some chocolate, we packed up and travelled to the cabin. Estimated travel time: one toe.

Seeing the two yarn together I decided I didn’t like the colour combination. The bluegreen is such a happy and vibrant and smooth yarn (Trekking) while the grey purple is muted and kinda fuzzy (Regia). No, neither colourway profits from this combination. So I put the one toe aside and cast on a second toe in the greypurple colour, from the inside of the ball:

It was done by the time we got to the cabin. Now I have to wait the long weekend before I return to the city to chose a better sock yarn to go with these toes and another yarn to go with that green blue yarn.
I’ll confess that I’m looking for options to buy some 50 grams balls of yarn tomorrow. Because I don’t have good colours in the stash, I already know.

This is the other project I forgot to take with me:

That’s right, it’s the mitten design that I’m making into a vest and I finished the stranded part yesterday! Now follows a bit of plain knitting, starting with the decreases for the waist. An excellent knit for a car ride. If I had thought to bring it with me…

But I didn’t forget everything. I brought the Rose and Thorn Sock Madness sock that now goes under the new name Purple Sock. That’s good for mindless knitting. And I brought some lace shawls. I’ll tell you about two of them in a next post, right now I want to show you the one that I finished knitting:

It’s the I Believe shawl. For World Wide Autism Awareness Day come April 2nd.

The cabin has a centrifuge, a top loader, excellent for wool projects. So now the I Believe shawl is blocking, upstairs on the spare bed in the little attic.

It’s so pretty! It’s already night time now but I have a torch.

My trusted critic:

I used a semisolid yarn to bring out the Holding Hands lace motif:

Battery in the flash light died:

Hopefully it’s dry tomorrow and I can take daylight pictures. I’m also very curious to see whether the edge will roll, because it’s all stockinette stitch. But it’s 100% silk so I may get lucky. An interesting experiment.

I used exactly 100 grams of yarn for the shawl, both yarns together. But I thought people wouldn’t trust that round number so I put 99 grams into the Ravelry database.

A bit like when Mount Everest was measured and it came to exactly 29,000 feet (8,839 m) in height. The story is they added 2 feet [0.6 m] to make it look more believable.

Can’t fudge 2 feet in a Dutch landscape though. Holland is flat:


Like a green pancake.

stranded hat: Estonian braided cast on

I’m still so filled with impressions from the fair! I want to show you a thousand things but I don’t know where to start. Also want to knit knit knit with things instead of writing about it. How am I supposed to write about it sensibly? Hang on, I’ll just show you what I’m doing RIGHT NOW. That’s a good place as any to start.

JUST NOW the post arrived and it brought a needle size 2,25 mm that Trude is borrowing me when she read I was knitting multiple projects on just the one needle. Thank you Trude! You are very smart.

I am less smart so instead of spreading my existing projects over the two needles I now have I took the new needle and cast on a new project:

That’s a braided cast on that is. Vikkelbraid? Kihnu braid.

Let me tell things chronologically, in an attempt to sound logical.

FIRST
Alexandra from Atelier Het Wolbeest was wearing a marvellous hat at the fair, in handspun pink and grey:
Untitled
It’s dolls holding hands! The pattern is Dollheid by Kate Davies (A title that makes me giggle because the Dutch word “dolheid” means “madness”)

Alexandra’s hat had me in awe, with the contrast and the happy pink colour and the special ribbing at the edge. It’s currogated ribbing, where you alternate colours but also knit and purl stitches. (I think, I haven’t read thus far in my pattern yet)

THEN
The booth next to Wolop was manned by Lidaholm, a woman with a passion for Swedish yarns. She goes there every Summer and visits small farms and spinning factories and imports their yarns to the Netherlands to spread the joy.


Sweden has some special breeds, some of them particular for wool quality.

I had to pass these yarns multiple times per day. They caught my eye because they were ridiculously soft and spun just the way I like to spin my own yarn: soft, lofty but yet a well plied yarn that looks like a string of pearls.
I got talking to Lida and she told about this small independent Swedish yarn manufacturer who have everything under one roof. They spin their own lambs fleeces on machines that are tuned to handle them particularly softly. They sell yarns but also finished products and their own designs.
Lida has so much enthousiasme and such technical knowledge it was a delight to talk to her.

AND THEN
things came together and I wanted a stranded hat like Alexandra, knitted in these yarns that are so sympathetic.
A hat to celebrate our successful weekend at the fair, a souvenir.
I felt the urge to perform an act of pure joy and not be tight with spending money on myself and later on regret it because a chance was there and now lost.

SO I WENT BOLDLY and bought yarn for a hat I hadn’t planned.
I even went out of my comfort zone, colour wise:

Salmon pink? That makes me look green or grey. I must have lost it.
I’m lost in giggles, that’s true. All these ice-pastels are making me so happy! The dark grey will set them off nicely and together they’ll have the same values of contrast that I have in my own face, with my darkish eye brows and hair and light eyes and fair skin. In theory this hat should make me look good.

They were in the skies too, these ice pastel colours, when we were driving back south on Sunday morning, a clear winter morning with a crisp sun. A perfect compliment to the timing and the colours of this yarn purchase.

NEXT
I spend Monday relaxing and admiring Alexandra’s hat online and looking at other stranded hats and deciding that whatever pattern I chose it should have a pompom because Wolop is wearing pompoms on all her hats.

THEN THIS MORNING
I knew which patterns I wanted to combine. Plus pompom.
It’s going to be the base of Simply Harika by Renee Burton

Simply Hakira offers different edges. I’ll do the braided edge and currogated ribbing (which I’ve never done before).

On top will feature pattern As The Leaves Begin To Fall by Eliza Jarvi. Plus pompom.

Leaves in light colours, back ground in dark.

As the Leaves begin to Fall really needs a new name…. all day today the ear worm in my head has been alternating Jingle Bells with that song by Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora:


GAHHH!
31 years after the release of this song is still too soon, apparently.
(you’re welcome. Sharing ear worms is my secret hobby.)

AND THEN
I was putting the laundry in the attic for drying and had to stop for a bit. It’s part of this therapy I’m doing to keep the nervous system out of Fight or Flight and thusly without the need to exasperate ME symptoms. Get bored? Feel symptoms rising? Stop what you’re doing and go do something fun. Endorphines, baby!
So I stopped midway and was just standing around for a bit thinking “now what?” (because I’m very new to this therapy).
AND THEN THE POSTMAN RANG.
WITH NEEDLE.

And that’s the story.
So here I am, casting on with endorphine yarns for an endorphine hat in interesting, endorphine creating, techniques.

Starting with the Kihnu braided cast on.

Kihnu is an island in the Baltic Sea with a proclaimed cultural heritage and a matriarchal nature.
“The most visible emblems of Kihnu culture are the woollen handicrafts worn by the women. Using traditional looms and local wool, the women weave and knit mittens, stockings, skirts and blouses which often feature bright colours, vivid stripes and intricate embroidery. Many of the symbolic forms and colours are rooted in ancient legends. Unlike Kihnu men, the women wear their national costumes in everyday life.”
What? Splendid!


You know that’s us!
This is also the place where Pippi Longstocking’s mum must be from.

The Kihnu cast on has a braid on both the inside and the outside of the outer edge. That’s a bit different from the braided cast on I know from Latvian mitts.
Skeincharmer on Ravelry has this picture:

The braid looks the same on the inside too.

I learned Kihnu braided cast on from this video, as the patterns suggests.
The designer of the Simply Harika hat says it’s best to follow it up with a purl row as it has a tendency to curl a bit otherwise.

I’m doing size Adult Medium for Fingering Weight gauge. Even though I’m knitting with sport but I’m on a 2,25 mm needle instead of my fingering weight needle size (2 mm).

Now I’m going to knit some more. Cast on isn’t done yet.
I’ll tell you more about other things I brought home from the fair a next time. I’ve bought other wonderful things. And there were so many wonderful people! Both sellers and buyers. Such a wealth of knowledge too. How was I ever to gain some knowledge of these wonderful soft Swedish yarns? Or of a life that involves going to Scandinavia often?

Come to think of it, Östergötlands Ullspinneri that makes these wonderful yarns is right between Denmark and Stockholm. Not that far away really.
I was practically halfway there, when I was at Midwinterwol.

I felt courageous and cheerful driving cross country and being so comfortable doing it. Now that I’m back home I’ve started dreaming of going on holiday. I haven’t been on an adventure out of the country for years now. Stockholm seems doable. Especially when there’s gorgeous yarn along the way and lovely wool people.

UPDATE

That cast on video is not very efficient. Lots of extra movements. I’ve found this video and am doing the rest of the cast on this way. Without a crochet hook, I’m just using my needle. It’s easier to keep the tension even.

It’s a yarn over combined with a knit stitch. The knit stitch stays on the right hand needle, the yarn over happens on the left hand needle. The yarn over really is the casted on stitch, the knitting on the right hand needle is just “to keep me busy”. Or to anchor the yarn/new colour.

It all happens at the left hand needle, the one with the yarn overs. That’s where you twist the yarns around, keeping track which one goes over and which one goes under.

kihnu-cast-on_medium2

The last bit is done this way, the tension is more even and more tight than the bit on the right. I’ll be frogging it all and starting anew, keeping it all even.

 

Idle mind, idle hands.

I’m too ill to sit upright or even think. It’s quite annoying.
No spinning today but I’m knitting away on Pumpkin Ale. WM Mauseschwanzchen, such a nice colour!

I’m knitting the left side panel now, I’m about to cast on for the pocket I think.

I’m also watching a fun Australian ’20’s female detective series. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. But I have to pause often because I lose the plot, all these white folk look so much the same, especially when they change clothes.
Except for the lead detective, she’s very distinguishable. And fun! Imagine a cross between Pippi Longstocking and Dame Joan Collins.

In the mean time there’re also a few new theories about “vague” chronic illnesses for me to consider. I find these very interesting but cannot get my brain cells lined up properly to do constructive thinking.

one is Fibromyalgia where now is proven that people with this have significant more nerve endings in their blood vessels.. ?? … I don’t remember. It was on my Facebook feed. And in Dutch.
It explains why they experience so much more pain than other, regular people.

second is ME as a infection of particularly the Nervus Vagus cells which are the very cells that signal the brain when a body wide response to ilness is required (fever, fatigue, the works. It’s known as the “Sickness Behaviour Response” and is needed when you need to stay in bed to battle a sickness.)
The theory is that the infection prompts this response because the wiring is attacked, not the whole body.
http://www.pdf-archive.com/2013/06/23/vanelzakker-vnih-cfs-in-press/vanelzakker-vnih-cfs-in-press.pdf
This theory explains why antibiotics can restore health in some people with ME instantly, before an infection can theoretically be cleared up. Because we’re talking nerves here, nerves and restoring their function.

Thirdly an infection of the endothelial cells which line all blood vessels and control dilation. Malfunctioning of these cells causes typical ME symptoms such as low blood pressure and whatnot.
http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/what-is-the-mechanism-of-fatigue.38556/#post-616737
This theory explain why drugs that promote blood flow give health to certain people with ME.

I myself am prone to seeing the body as an ecosystem, not unlike a coral reef. All kinds of critters live in the nooks and grannies. No: crannies.

 pic by Vincenzo Piazza

There’s all kinds of bacteria and viruses living about our bodies. We co-exist and there’s no reason to get all panicky about their existence within our body.

The immune system picks out the obvious offenders but that happens pretty much in an old Wild West habit where bad boys run and hide and the killer cells hunt them down. Remember that awesome little movie of that white bloodcell gunning for a lone bacterium?
That’s how they get them, one at the time.

Unless there’s a full invasion going on, then the whole body response is needed and the place is set afire (fever) to asphyxiate the culprits. With considerable damage to the existing furnishings but hey, the goal justifies the means.

Tonight I had 3 theories of ME/CFS floating in my mind, building upon this image:

  1. infection makes it literally impossible for the ecosystem to function normally. It’s overrun and bodily processes are severely hindered. Solution = eradicate the infection.
  2. infection induces the body wide Sickness Behaviour Response not because it’s a body wide infection but because it bugs the very wiring that tells the brain to engage in the body wide response. This could be via the Nervus Vagus, its cells infected by a particular invader and thus thinking the whole body is under attack. But also other sites. Solution = get rid of bugs OR block this signalling to the brain
  3. this constant battling against invaders tires and strains the system so much that the very stress of the situation hinders its function overall. Since the ecosystem cannot be rid of its occupants a solution could be to teach the system to learn to live with it without assigning stress to it. Probably live a less intense level of life then advertised.
    Solution: stress management aimed at the CNS and its brain components in particular. And learning to live with disappointment (a basic life skill I think)

but this morning I lost my train of thought and have not regained it yet. If I could just hammer out a clear picture and the interesting leads it’d provide!

The frustration of not being able to tires me extra… it’s very VERY annoying when the brain won’t function and the body is so overwhelmed it just wants to crawl away and deny the rest of the world.
But still there’s food that needs preparing. And eaten. Lillepoes who needs medications. A toilet that needs to be visited.
I just had a bit of a cry because I’ve been making custard since 10 o’clock this morning and have only managed to crack the eggs and pour the cream.

So this is how I spend my day today. Thinking in circles but not able to think at all.
Luckily the pattern for Pumpkin Ale cardi is clearly written, line by line, and I only have to follow instructions. Something beautiful is growing out of this chaos.

 pic by Mark Morcom

PS I hope this is not whining or fishing for your sympathy. It’s just how my day to day life is. I’m frustrated that everything is so mediocre when I give it my best. Getting D’s (or a 6 minus) is all I can hope for.
Doing laundry? forget some important items and give everything a nice shade of pink to boot. But at least things are clean. Better be thankful for that. Because things could have end up worse (forget the laundry’s in the machine, grow mold, flood the place).
That kind of thing. In every thing, all day. Getting D’s while giving it my full effort.
Like I said: hopefully not whining, not fishing, hopefully just illustrating.

PPS
my solutions for this kind of life is:
– minimal requirements regarding the logistics of daily life (all clothes match all other clothes; always have broth standing by; don’t panick over dust bunnies)
– surround yourself with lovely items. Handmades from friends; use luxury materials when knitting or lying on the couch; the best organic foods and supplements. Take time to pick up an item and admire it.
– mental hygiene. Don’t dwell on negative things; actively steer your thoughts towards positive things; avoid news channels and toxic people; allow for “lost time” such as leisurable surfing or just mindlessly petting the cat.
– be surprised often that the value of a life is not measured by economic output, by getting fame or by achieving things. Take note when life does have value: when you hold someone dear; when you experience beauty; as you add your own personal colour to the palette of human life just by being you.

where the WIPs at?

Let me check the state of all the WIPs I have going on at the moment.

Nothing was done at Spring Brioche Shawl. I know where it is though.
For Deco Cardi I did the necessary research. It’s now time to apply theory to the wool.
All of the socks are pretty much where they were when I photographed them on Wednesday.

Pumpkin Ale saw some serious progress in two days:

I’m knitting in Fingering weight while the pattern states Worsted. (There are two sizes between those: Sport and DK. It’s absolute ridiculous that I get a worsted gauge (21 st/10 cm) in a fingering yarn. On sock needles.)

My row gauge differs from the pattern though, so I’ll probably work way more rows than the pattern says. This is 12 cm long and twice as dense as the examples of others.

This week I’m spending many hours lying flat on the couch, (I’m having a relapse in health), and knitting on an interesting project prevents me from going out of my mind with boredom. This Ale Cardi is perfect.

Lots of strange things happening this week. Somehow the mirror in the cabin refused to function any longer unless I did something about the WIPs that I’ve been claiming to love so much. I couldn’t look myself in the eye anymore!

So I picked up Sprig pullover and within a few hours had completed the body:

Ahh, knitting with handspun is such a nice craft to perform.

When ill it’s also good to have a project that does not require attention, where you can just knit in the round and the round, while your brain marinates in whatever juices this stupid illness produces. (ME/CFS/SEID)
But now the marinating is done because the next step is working on the yoke, which is done sideways and features a branch:

detail from pattern Sprig by Alana Dakos

Here too I’m working at a different gauge so I have to understand the pattern thoroughly before knitting it in my yarn and on these needles.
For the numb brain knitting I have my various Skews.

When I was able to sit upright for a while I did some further spinning. I’ve now spun away two of the three boxes of Hollands Spotted Sheep, the organic sheep from organic farm Laan van Wisch:

This is one half of the white on the bobbin. There’s already a skein of half white/half brown and two smaller skeins.

This needs a few more hours of spinning white and then I can attach a new leader to an empty bobbin for the dark brown. The dark brown will take longer than the white because its staple is shorter. That means I have to do much more hand gestures per inch than with the white. And it’s way more fiddly to make the fleece grab onto the thread and cover it completely. I’m not looking forward to it, to be honest.

The next picture gives some clues of how much I’m not looking forward to starting the brown fleece… (or for how often I got to sit up and spin this week). That’s all the Skews and the Coexist sock right there. Conveniently at reaching distance from the couch.

Finished: Blumen in Brioche Cowl! And my drooping eye.




I’m very pleased with it!
The colours, the technique. Very pleased. It was great yarn to get, it knit up nicely, the colours made me happy and so does the Brioche stitch.

About that last picture: I look tired. Worn.
That’s accurate because I’m very tired and worn these days. This picture is actually the best of the lot. I don’t mind that I look the way I do, it’s an honest picture. And you know that tiredness does not prevent silliness. Or happiness.

I’m still tired from attending the Countryfair last weekend and the Knitters’ Picknick the weekend before that. I’ve been in bed and on the couch for every day since. My tummy is out of commission too, which always complicates things.
Yes, I’ve still got ME/CFS. I don’t mind showing it.

But the one thing I want to remark upon is my drooping eye… that’s not a wrongly timed shutter click. It’s there. And it’s worse when I’m tired.
The optometrist wants to test me for Myasthenia Gravis. It’s likely I have something from that particular potpourri of afflictions, what with the sudden double vision I acquired two years ago and all the holes I discovered in my production of hormones and neurotransmitters.
But I cancelled the appointment I had with the eye dr. back in February. Back then I was depressed which was more acute than a wonky eye and whatever it may indicate.

Then in May I suddenly got a foothold on my ME/CFS. (I’m actually healing from ME/CFS. Yes! Did I tell you? Probably not, I’m still scared I’ll loose it all again. But I’m also proud of how I solved the puzzle. Here’re some ramblings how I did it. ME is a personal puzzle though, I’m not sure my solution would help any other sufferer. Apart from digestion, stress levels and insulin. Those are turning points for all of us. ME or not.)

The thing is, I want to explore and enjoy my newfound health. While I do so, I don’t want to deal with eye medicine. I don’t want to think about it, research it, test out theories and project scenarios into the future.
I just want to enjoy life for a bit.

I think this is a reasonable approach. I’m not shying away from medical information. It’s that I find it more important to spread thin the stress in my life. I try to have only one thing to fuss about at any time.

May was “I cannot believe this!”
June was “Meet happy knitters”.
July is for spinning. Tour de Fleece!
August is for making things. Artisan things like shawl spelds. Emaille, enamel. Paper arts.
September is back to adult responsibilities. I’ll go see the doctor then.

(btw, I think fully healing of ME/CFS will take me a year. At least.)

So today: Summer!
Summer with wool!

This was me, checking if the previous picture was any good:

That’s when it hit me:

Happy EWOK in Brioche!

Ravellenics: plying misery

So I didn’t get to go to spinning group this morning, I was just not well enough.
I got to do some navajo plying all on my lonesome. Not even Olympics to watch on the computer because I didn’t fancy any of the sports of today.

I think navajo plying is tedious work and especially I love to do this in company of my spinning friends. One of them even has a very gracious technique and her presence alone inspires me to be less arm flailing and less knotting my fingers into the yarn. (talking about you, Anouk)
Besides, it’s so much more fun to spin with others who appreciate wool!

This yarn is the second half of the green I dyed and spun for Tour de Fleece. That one I combed into rollags and made into an airy, lovely yarn. Clun Forest.
This time I thought I might get away with just spinning from the teased locks. Unfortunately when making a sample I found out that the 2ply I had planned with this didn’t match the original rollags-skein in thickness at all. It had to become a 3ply. So navajo plying it would be. Which would be excellent for spinning group.

But I didn’t get to go. I had to do “the sensible thing” again. That’s really getting old. But I’m expected to do the sensible thing for another year or four if I ever are to be healed from this rotten illness. (ME/CFS).

So I missed out on spinning group. Which upset me because we only get to see each other once a month and I have missed out on 6 of the last 7 months.
I even had everything ready, which is a small victory when your energy and clarity of brain is limited. Ishowered and picked out clothes last night and everything.

Yeah, today I had a truly rotten day, with the ME/CFS.

I think both healthy and ill people do not realize often enough how couragous and stubborn people with this illness have to be, just to hold on and get through a rotten day. The same goes for people with the illness depression.
We/they are so brave, so strong. Even though we are so utterly destroyed on days like these.

Brain chemistry gets seriously messed up, especially females with their added hormone fest (I’m due to get my period tomorrow so today is about the worst day).
(I hope).

And all the time you realize this is not you, you are not your feelings.
But of course you áre! You are how you feel.
It is maddening and crazy and makes desperate and desolate.
And there’s nothing to be done. You have to sit it out. Keep breathing until enough time has passed. Which you do not expect ever to happen. And even if it does you know it’s all in vain. Life is rotten at the core you just had a mouth full.

Which is where the stubbornness comes in. If all fails you just have to be one stubborn bastard who just keeps on breathing while crying from the deepest truths and hiding from the world and failing at life.
Breathe dammit, breathe.

And this is why everybody experiencing these illnesses deserves a hug and a cry and a medal. And a red dress.

Today I plied my yarns. I did my walk. I ate everything in sight and I sat on the couch and cried at sad pet stories on the internet and watched BBC documentaries and didn’t have the heart to bother anyone of my friends with my misery.
It should pass in a couple of days. Once I get my period estrogens will kick in. I’ll be superwoman again. I’ll see colours. I’ll think about art.
I really hope.
In the mean time I cuddle Lillepoes and want to die.

Breathe dammit, breathe. Just be stubborn and prove once more that these things pass.

Here are my skeins:

my two 3ply skeins are at the top, at the bottom is the first skein. The first one is the same weight as one of the top ones but runs twice the length! That’s Long draw for you.
I wish I had done the others too in longdraw. But combing the rollags… it was just too much to ask.

I have a lovely new fleece of Clun-Merino. I’d LOVE to spin it. But is needs to be washed. Hot. I can’t. Maybe in a day or two.

Just to be clear: this is not a pity party. I do not need your heartfelt feeling of helplessness (sorry if I make you feel that way).

I just wanted to illustrate that ME (or CFS)(and depression but they are more professional about this) comes with daily battles to preserve sanity. And that it takes a lot of courage. Energy. Stubbornness.
I would like to tell all people suffering from this that this is normal. That this is nothing to worry about. That you are marvelous. And that it will pass. Just breathe.
(oh, and pop pills if you need to. Brain chemistry needs help from outside to get into balance again. For most people this is anti depressiva. For me, after intense research, it is progesterone, Lithium, Magnesium, Selenium, Molybdelum, Zinc and a lack of anything that upsets me including insuline inducing foods. And even then no garantee. Not when hormones surge.

Well, I’m off to bed. The skeins are a great colour of green. I’ve already looked at potential patterns on Ravelry. A green cardi or pullover, with lace. For a happy forest gnome lady.

And I changed my ravatar. I’m a bit done with Ravellenics for the moment.