Goldi's Locks of Yarn

My place to discuss my raging obsession with yarn and crochet along with happenings in my life and the world at large

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Slowly but surely, progress is made

I will never know what triggered this bout of muscle spasms that I've been suffering from since Monday night. Doesn't really matter, though. The most innocuous things have been known to trigger it, and one can only be so careful. Maybe I should look to my supplements, increase my mineral intake, several minerals are involved with proper muscle functioning, and this could be an indication that I am low on them. Something, anything to try to avoid another episode like the one I had this week! It had been years since I'd had one this severe. I thought I was going to die - and welcomed it. Anything to get away from the pain!

It's still painful, but at least I can stand up straight again, and walk with minimal pain. Sitting, and standing from a sitting position (as long as it's high enough) can be accomplished. I will have to come up with something for sitting on the couch, however - that remains a huge problem. Sitting there is not so bad, but getting up off the couch - ouch! Last night I had to roll off the couch onto my knees and lean hard on the coffee table to ease my way back up to my feet. At least I was able to do it. Getting out of bed was not quite as complicated - or as painful - this morning, so I have hope that I'm on the mend. Not quite ready to go dancing in 3 inch spikes, however! Not that I ever did anyway, lol!

Aiding and abetting my misery was the as-always timely visit from Aunt Flo - who arrived with a vengeance and refuses to accept being ignored or playing second fiddle to a bum back. I am so wishing I could have had this situation checked out before my insurance ran out, as things are completely out of control. Bad enough to have to deal with either one of these issues in my life - but both at once? Sheesh! When it rains, it pours hailstones lately. Something is wrong with the equipment, it's definitely malfunctioning - or should I say functioning in permanent hyper mode? Anemia becomes a real concern. Back to those supplements!

I found a few things to be highly helpful in bringing my spasms under control to where they are receding. Late Tuesday night, I finally managed to collect enough scattered braincells together (those that weren't obsessing about the stupid pain) to gather up and mix the necessary ingredients for an aromatherapy rub. I finally got smart this time and wrote everything down - it's ridiculous that every time I've needed this stuff, I've had to "reinvent the wheel" because I failed to document what I previously used, and in what quantities! But no more! Of course, it's always a pleasure to play with my collection of little bottles of heavenly scents, just doing that always makes me feel instantly better. But I mixed myself up a bottle of oils and immediately applied some to my lower back. Ahhhh! my muscles said. There was an immediate response, muscles relaxing. I almost felt like dancing a jig, lol! But, even miracle oils don't work that permanently that fast, and I got almost no sleep at all, thanks to the pain, finally managed to squeeze about 3 hours out of yesterday morning.

Isis came up to see me in the afternoon, bringing me an extra heating pad, and a few vicodins she had left from a dental procedure a few years ago. Blessed relief! We ordered Chinese takeout and had lunch together, then called mom from her cell phone and both of us had a nice chat with her. Good thing, too, as apparently when I'd called mom Tuesday, she could hardly understand me. We've always had a hard time communicating when I call from my own phone, a cheap cordless number, and frankly I was in tears when I'd talked to her, further making it difficult for her to understand me. So she'd had no idea what the problem was that caused me to cancel my visit! At least now she knows. It doesn't look like I'm going to be able to go see her until next week at the soonest, thanks to this back of mine, which bums me out. But what can you do? At least, it's giving me an opportunity to finish up a couple of things I'd like to add to her Christmas gift, as the scarf didn't seem like enough to me, and I'd been feeling bad about that too.

Isis brought, along with all the helpful aids, the 3 dvd's she had of the Harry Potter movies, plus the latest book (which I have yet to read). I've got one of the Potter films, probably the first one, but couldn't check my movie shelves since it would have required stooping or getting down on my knees in the narrow hallway with a flashlight to look at the titles. I'm not quite limber enough to pull that off right now. So I told her to bring all 3. Now I have plenty to entertain me while I continue to mend.

Phil, bless his heart, brought me one thing that has made the BIGGEST difference - a back brace. He knows what I'm going through, as he was out of work on workman's comp for a year following a back injury, which still plagues him frequently, even though he works out at the gym on a regular basis. Until I got that back brace on, I could not stand upright at all, and it was getting tiring crab-walking through my house. I felt like the hunchback of notre dame! But the brace has helped tremendously! Between that and my massage oil, I am feeling almost normal again. It's funny, but many many years ago, when I suffered the first of these horrid spasm episodes, I had received a custom-fitted back brace from the orthopedic doctor I saw at the time. It was a big elastic and velcro belt, with a hard panel insert which had been molded to my back, to fit me where I curved, a nice close fit. I had thrown the panel out about 5 years ago, stupid me, don't know what I was thinking. Especially since the problem is so far down on the spine - it's sourced in the lowest part of the lumbar region, though the muscles that affected run up along either side of my spine to midback region. Now that the worst of the spasms have passed, I can actually pinpoint the mid-back muscle that spasmed out - when I press on that spot, it feels lumpier than the other areas, and it hurts when I knead it with my fingertips - in that good "exercised muscle" kind of way, telling me we're almost there, at least with that spot. The ones at the low end of my spine aren't being quite as cooperative yet, but they're getting there.

Later, I will share my back liniment formula, in case it might be helpful to anyone else.

So, I am happy to report that I am almost back to "normal", able to move with a bit more mobility again. But not quite enough yet for the acrobatics that will be required to clean out my dryer vent and hook it back up to the pipe leading to outside, which means I can't finish the laundry. The darn thing had fallen off while my last load was drying. Fortunately, I noticed it before I started to wash another load - a load of towels, no less! Good thing I have another set for the bathroom! I have lots of vacuuming that needs to be done in that basement, and everything is scattered all about, waiting for me to sort and organize it all, another one of my major projects. Besides, I never did get around to the "seasonal shift", bringing summer clothes down and winter stuff up, so I've had to resort to pawing through the crates whenever I've needed another sweater. I'd like to get to it soon, though, because all these extra clothes coming up have had no place to go besides the "unused" side of my bed, and that has turned into a real mountain, piled high with clothes and yarn, lol! That has been another bit of frustration for me with this back, because the weather has been cooperative yet I still can't get the job done. I hope the weather holds at least until I can get this accomplished, as it's holding up a lot of other projects too.

On the crochet front, I can't say I've been making blazing progress - I still seem to be suffering from the "snail" syndrome - but it is progress nonetheless. I currently have two projects on the hooks. The first is the Light and Lacy Stole from Dot, which I foolishly thought I could whip together quickly for addition in mom's Christmas package. After all, it only took Dot 12 hours to make this thing - and that was her "trial and error" version! I started mine Saturday, using a pretty tweedlike baby yarn from TLC but found the going rather slow and the result kind of sloppy looking, seeing as how I was working with a sportweight yarn and a K hook, which is much too large of a hook for this type of yarn, imo. I had shortened the pattern from the 72" length down to 60 since it is to be for a very short person. I was very dissatisfied with the way it was looking, and the process was not going smoothly at all. I finally decided it was because I was trying to use a plastic hook, when I switched to my aluminum hook, it began to work up much more smoothly and easily, and the stitches didn't look as "loopy". I had gotten about 5 rows into the project at this point, and decided to frog and start over, particularly because the starting chain was SO crappy looking, I couldn't stand it. So Sunday, I frogged the whole thing and started over. It's been a slow go ever since, largely because of my other issues stealing brain bandwidth, and my lack of ability lately to go on autopilot with even the simplest of projects. I have determined, though, that if I do another one of these stoles, I will use a smaller hook, and just increase the number of repeats to reach the correct length. It has been hard working such a fine yarn with such a large hook. I've found it impossible to keep the loops of my stitches looking even, especially when so many of them are chain loops,
and that bugs me! I think I would have scrapped it and started over, yet again, if I wasn't so far along with it now (about halfway), and if it wasn't such a pretty pattern. I also keep reminding myself that I am probably just being overly-critical of my work, which really isn't all that unusual.

The other project I've been working on so far seems to be coming along nicely - but I won't know how successful it will be until it reaches a stage where it can be tried on for fit. This would be the "Men's Thick Warm Crocheted Winter Hat
" (link is pdf) from Etaria, a pattern she so graciously offered for free from her site. It's a very nicely textured hat, which I'm working up using Lion's Wool-ease in the color Blue Mist (which I absolutely LOVE, btw - I want MORE, would also love to get it in a sportweight for their diamond-lace tunic pattern if I can find it - they've discontinued this one too, alas), so far so good. I'm on round 8 of this pattern. Last night, I hand-wrote the instructions for rounds 8 and 9 on a small piece of paper so I could take the project to the living room to work on - otherwise I have to be sitting by the computer to work on this one, as I don't have the pattern printed out. Yet. But if it works out, I may want to make more of these, and if I do then I will definitely print it out. She also has 4 other hat patterns, as well as scarves to match, for sale at the above site, and I'd like to get those too. These are not your run-of-the-mill hat and scarf pattern, and I love the textures on them! This hat, btw, is to be for Phil.

So, that's what I'm currently working on, crochet-wise. Hopefully, I will soon have pics of finished objects to show off! Time to get off and go see about getting closer to that goal!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Bob

My love, always.
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Robert M. Cairo
12/28/44 - 8/8/97

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Betrayed...

...by my body. It just wouldn't listen to me. I managed to wake up at 8:15, despite the ridiculous lateness of the hour when my head finally found my pillow, and my back found the heating pad. I slept with said heating pad, bolstered by a pillow, pressed to it, and had I not done so, I probably wouldn't have even been able to crawl out of bed this morning. I managed to get my espresso made, and proceeded to eat a bowl of cereal, but then got hit with an attack of nausea that forced me to go lie down - which I feared doing because I just knew it would be hard to stay awake if I did so, and I was right. I drifted off to sleep for another 45 minutes, but it did help as the nausea was gone when I again crawled out of bed.

Complicating my back issues was the other matter I had been (again) struggling with, this being the same one I'd had so much trouble with almost exactly one month ago, to the day. I had been taking otc meds for the last 3 days trying to resolve that problem, and things finally decided to move today. And move they did, veerrrrry sloooowwwlllyyy, and beyond that I will say no more! And, in spite of my hopes that it would, the result did not alleviate my back problem either. If anything, it felt worse afterward, go figure!

It didn't help that I was now feeling extremely anxious as I watched the clock ticking away towards noon as I struggled to get ready! It takes a good hour and a half to make the 75 mile journey to mom's house from here, and she is the kind of person who wants all visiting done and goodbyes given by 4 pm, and if there are plans to go out, she wants to get these done in the late morning/early afternoon. Arriving at her house at noon would be considered late, never mind any time in the afternoon. She is such an early-bird personality that she's in her pj's by 6 pm, day is done! I had been hoping to leave the house by 10:30 or 11 at the latest - and here it was, 11:15 and I still hadn't been able to even get in the shower yet! The more I panicked about the time, the worse my back hurt, too, until finally it had me in tears as I admitted defeat and picked up the phone to call her...

I can't express well enough the level of my frustration and disappointment, though she was gracious about it, and insisted I should not worry and that I shouldn't be driving if I was in pain. But I still feel like I let her down, and I know I let myself down. I had really been looking forward to spending some time with her! Why did my back have to do this NOW? Treacherous body! I haven't had spasms this bad in a good couple of years. And of course, without insurance OR money, there's not a whole lot I can do about it either. I have 3 of those nasty muscle relaxer pills left, and no way to get more (or better).

I am hoping and praying that I will be feeling well enough to make the journey tomorrow. The weather won't be as nice (relatively speaking, today's forecasted weather was the best of the week), but as long as there's no blizzard and/or subzero temps, I can handle it. Oh, and as long the spasms are at least under control, if not gone. I'm hoping they'll be gone.

I did manage to at least get a couple of pics of mom's scarf, so I will share it here. It actually looks pretty nice hanging on the hanger!
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Closeup of the flower band:
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Hopefully the scarf won't be too long for her - mom is only about 4'10" tall and weighs about 80 pounds! It hangs to mid-waist level on me, which is why I'm a bit concerned about the length being too much for her for this style of scarf, but I guess we'll just have to wait and find out. Because of the way I made this scarf (I worked it from the center outward on both sides), it wasn't an easy thing to adjust partway through the project, so I just have to go with what I came up with. I had been forced to frog the first half several times in the process of making it, and anyone who has worked with this yarn knows what a pain it is! But, length concerns aside, I think it turned out pretty nice! This took two balls of the Moonlight Mohair in the colorway "Coral Reef", in my stash thanks to a couple of 40% off coupons. I have 2 each of 3 other colorways of this yarn too, some obtained with 50% coupons, the rest with 40% off. Gotta love those coupons! I am thinking of saving and collecting more balls of at least a couple of the colors for some bigger projects, but at least I've got enough of each to make a scarf, if I want to. I must admit, though, that this yarn makes some fantastic flowers, would like to make more of those!

Well, I'm going to go take that shower - I'm hoping that the hot stream directed at my back will ease up the spasms some - and then I will go park on the couch with my heating pad and my yarn, and watch a movie, and probably nap too. I may go ahead and take one of those Flexerils too, since it's early enough in the day (and I'm obviously not going to be going anywhere now) that I can hopefully be fully recovered from the side effects of it by tomorrow morning, when the spasms will be totally gone (you listening, body?).

11th hour madness

I have it on good authority that I am the world's biggest procrastinator! It is almost a routine with me to put things off - or to put off finishing - until the almost literal 11th hour. After two weeks of screwing around with the Moonlight Mohair scarf I created for mom, and on the eve of my scheduled visit with her, I completed the last details of the finishing touches and declared it done! That was about 15 minutes ago! I've barely left myself enough time to sleep before I must be up and off, and yes, I have managed to put off most of those preparations for the last minute as well, so I can anticipate running around (well, hopefully - will get to that shortly) scrambling to pull together the last few things I wanted to bring with me, take my shower and wash my hair, get dressed, gulp some espresso to get my engine roaring, and race out the door. It's always problematic when you pair up an early bird with a night owl!

Because I guess I love challenges and must have felt I didn't have enough, my back decided to spasm out on me tonight, severely aggravating my sciatica to screaming proportions. To make matters worse, I dare not take one of the few remaining muscle relaxants I have left, as I fear I wouldn't wake up until tomorrow afternoon sometime. I had asked the doc I saw recently for the generic Soma, which I tolerate well, but he insisted on giving me Flexeril, which I hadn't had for years and could only remember that I didn't like it much. Now I remember why. The Soma was always reliable for knocking me out good and cold, but it generally let go of me pretty easily when it was time to get up, and I had no lingering side effects. Not so with the Flex. I barely feel it and can easily override the mild sleepiness it causes, but then I have a hard time waking up, and feel groggy and woozy for hours afterward once I'm up. I hate it! But it's all I have, and soon will be out of that too. Then what do I do? Hopefully the heating pad will coax those muscles to calm down. I think I'll keep the phone nearby, just in case. Sigh.

At any rate, the scarf turned out pretty cute! I winged it from start to finish. I'll try and write up how I did it - the hardest part will be documenting the flower band I created to hold the scarf together. I'll take a pic of it before I wrap it up, along with a picture of mom wearing it later.

Later, I'll give my Christmas report. For now, though, it's off to bed to try and snatch at least a couple of hours of sleep. I must be crazy!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Cherry on top

As if a package full of scrumptious yarn and delicious smelling soap and lotion wasn't enough to make me feel wonderful, the day just kept up offering more good things! First of all, my unemployment check came, a day earlier than last time, allowing me to confidently drop off the rent check which had been a week late because I needed this money to get it all covered (and I must here quickly note that my landlord has been highly understanding and sweet about it, for which I'm also grateful). Still, as nice as it was to get that check today, the good surprises weren't done with me yet!

The package from Kate came via UPS - fortunately I was still home when it arrived, as he just dropped it between the screen and front door. If I hadn't seen him, I probably wouldn't have found the package until tomorrow since I'd already collected my mail, and all normal comings and goings are done through the back at my house. Good thing too, considering what was in that package!

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Um, yes, I can hear you wondering: "Soap? So, what's the big deal?" I can tell you, though, that it is a wonderful smelling soap, and rose geranium is one of my favorite scents, not to mention good for depression - along with Lavender, btw. LOL! Well, decorum does not allow me to reveal what else was in the package except to say it was green. VERY green! Big things often come in small packages, ya know? Considering the worries that have been furrowing my brow lately, this "little" gift has gently smoothed away a few wrinkles. How like her! A more generous and sweet soul you will never meet, and I consider myself the luckiest gal in the world for this most cherished of friends - sisters, really! Thanks skater - you're the best!

There is more I'd like to say, but this eventful day has sped by like a bullet, and I have yet to even touch a hook and yarn! So I will have to save it. Let's just say that tonight I will be sleeping with a smile on my face and a ton of gratitude in my heart!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What an INCREDIBLE day!

Perhaps the start of my day was an omen of things to come. I don't know, but it just seemed to start out with a positive burst, something that I'd almost forgotten what it felt like, that quite frankly, I enjoyed waking up all hot and sweaty and anxious to be rid of my bed! And things seem to be transpiring to keep this ball rolling, in a BIG way!

I had received a phone call the other day from my best friend and soul sister, who lives in Baton Rouge. She had informed me that a package was coming, and so when I saw the postman go by my back door (where all packages are left), I rushed right out there to retrieve it, expecting goodies from Louisiana. Imagine my confusion when I saw a return address from Massachusetts, lol! But it didn't dawn on me what I had in my hands until I got the package opened and out popped the most luscious little ball of yarn, having snuck it's way out of the tissue paper wrapping it - and it's fellow balls of what I must say is the MOST incredibly beautiful little pile of handspun yarns I've ever seen! I was RAOKed!!!

I am speechless! I am teary-eyed! I feel blessed! And I am thankful more than I can possibly express with mere words!

I had not signed up for the Christmas Wish lists because I just wasn't in the position to be able to send anything out - we will also not mention the fact that I am still not organized enough to know what I have available to give, either, even though I know there is much I could share. I'm getting there, slow though it may be. But anyway, since I hadn't signed up, I was not expecting anything at all. So, my "Secret Santa", you surprised the heck out of me - and I thank you for it!

Along with the drool-worthy yarn balls (which are more properly called scraplets according to the website - though imo these are some pretty substantial scraplets!) was a wonderful-smelling bar of handcrafted soap, called Blueberry Burst, wrapped in muslin and tied with ribbon - I can't stop holding it to my nose to sniff it, lol! There is also a little bottle of Lavender lotion, also a handmade product and smelling heavenly - and Lord knows I need LOTS of lotion in this cold dry season!

These are all products of a business called Pink Peppercorns, a lovely little whimsical name that conjures up lovely thoughts, and smells which will probably be forever associated in my mind now with these lovely aromatic gifts - even the yarn, which was cleverly scented by the inclusion of a teabag - a wonderful idea that I will definitely have to remember for the future! I honestly don't know who this wonderful person is, having never before heard of this website (and enjoying my browsing experience immensely, btw), but at least I do have an email address I can write to in order to thank her properly.
***
I saved the above after I wrote it, because I wanted to be able to include pictures but didn't have time to get them taken and prepared. I had errands to run today, which is the first day I've been out of the house since last Saturday (I'd been doing some serious hunkering!). Got my errands done, and pics taken, so now I'm all set.

And now, drool with me please!
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It's just too bad that I can't share the wonderful scents with you all, you'll just have to conjure it up in your own imagination and take my word for it that it's wonderful!

I had to find a container to put this lovely yarn in, so that I could gaze on it for awhile while I contemplate what I might create from it - perhaps a crazy-quilt type scarf or some other such wild-crafted item, or perhaps a bouquet of wildly blooming flowers to be mixed and matched and worn to brighten up gloomy days. For now, just having this basket stuffed with these colorful balls is enough - it is now parked on my coffee table in front of the couch, where I spend the vast majority of my time crocheting of late. Here are a couple of shots - my basket runneth over!

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All in all, this is the best day I've had in a very long time - and before the holiday to boot! Makes me feel like I'll be able to make it through to next year after all - there were some days where I wasn't so sure.

Winter Wool! and Sidebar changes

Okay, in anticipation of my little windfall next month, I went ahead and signed up for the Winter Wool swap this week. I've been feeling a tad bereft, having had to bow out of the swaps for the last several months, though I knew there was going to be no way I could do them justice even had I not lost my job. I just know how hard it is for me to get through this season and I wasn't about to sign up for commitments that I would have a hard time fulfilling, that's just nuts. I've seen the disappointment it causes to those who get paired up with someone who doesn't follow through - for whatever reason - and my vow is to never allow that to happen with me. Best to just sit them out until I know I'm in a position, both financially and headwise, to be able to fulfill my promises. But this one, for sure, I can do! And so I will. I'm drooling over the thought of wool - real wool - even as I write this!

I've gone ahead and added the button to my blog, and in so doing, was reminded that I have a lot of stuff I've wanted to add to the sidebar but had no working braincells to actually get it accomplished. I've started by moving the Crochetville button out of the Swaps list (where it didn't really belong, after all) into it's own category. Later, I will start gathering all the buttons and links and codes necessary to add the other stuff I wanted to include here, and maybe I can spruce this blog up a bit - finally! I'm coming up soon on my first anniversary of having a blog - amazing how time flies! - so I will see if I can at least get this done by then, if not sooner. Maybe I can even start trying to keep up with my fellow bloggers again - well, maybe "again" isn't the operative word here, I've never been able to keep up with that prolific lot! All I can promise is that I will try, lol!

So, you might notice some minor changes on my sidebar. Then again, you might not! But hopefully there will soon be some major ones to take note of, so pay attention now!

Well, Glory Halelujah!

After whining about the extreme cold yesterday (which truly has been horrendous, especially when you fear to heat your house to more comfortable levels due to the cost), I woke up this morning to an unaccustomed feeling - being hot and sweaty! Just checked the temperature at my favorite weather site (WeatherUnderground.com - beware their photo galleries, you can lose lots of time there!) and we are at a balmy 29 with a high predicted to go to 36! Now I know that doesn't sound all that warm, lol, but after virtual subzero temps for a month straight, let me tell you it practically feels like bikini weather!

Granted, it's still pretty cold (my furnace just kicked on to remind me), but compared to the way I've been feeling upon rising every day for the last month, I feel like I might even be able to get a few things accomplished today - I feel like I can move again. Even the horrid tendonitis (at least that's what I think it is, though it has not been confirmed by a doctor) in my right elbow isn't hurting, something to truly be grateful for as it has made it pretty painful to crochet for awhile now - perhaps one reason I haven't done as much as I wanted, even though I was refusing to let it stop me completely. Whatever the problem is with my elbow, it is definitely weather related, or at least is aggravated by the cold. It didn't bother me all summer long and didn't start until the temps dropped below the freezing mark. I had forgotten all about it, the problem that had plagued me all last winter, until that happened, and it's been much worse this year. Sucks getting old! Oh well.

I got the band made for the flower embellishment for mom's scarf done last night, but was stumped on the "nubby" part to hook it to and ended up spending the rest of the night browsing through my pattern books for ideas, drooling (yet again) over many patterns, and finally ran across instructions for making a crocheted button that I think might work, but it was too late (and I was too tired and, yes, chilled) to give it a go by that point, so that is first on my agenda this morning (or afternoon, depending on how long I allow myself to spend on the computer). Hopefully it will work, and I can be done with this project, as I am hoping to go visit her either tomorrow or Saturday. So I should have a picture to post tonight.

Amazing what a mood lift it was to actually wake up sweating this morning, lol! I'm almost feeling human again. Glory Halelujah indeed!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Harvest Ghan and Handwarmers

The handwarmers were a quick and easy project, went together in a day (perhaps prompted by my extreme need), and they turned out very nice and, most importantly, warm!

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The afghan is a somewhat modified version of the giant granny pattern as posted at the Lion Brand website. This one is all Homespun, in 3 colorways: Harvest, Ranch and Prairie, worked doublestrand - and yes, it's very warm too, though if I had it to do over, I would have switched to the straight dc all around MUCH sooner - the granny stitch part is too open and cuts down on the warmth factor as a result. Still, it looks nice, and Meeps likes it. ALOT! Of course, that ups the warmth factor, so I guess I can live with it, lol!

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Dolcetto handwarmers

When I went to upload the recent pics off my camera tonight, I found this one, and realized I never posted the pic of my first fingerless gloves, made well over a month ago! These are very soft and warm, at least for the part that is covered, and these are my chosen ones for sleeping in as a result. This was from a pattern published in this year's Interweave Knits Crochet edition.

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Not my favorite time of year

I'm not sure why, but this time of year has always been difficult for me. It's always been a struggle, but I've managed to weather it, somehow. This year, though, it's the worse it's ever been. Depression, which isn't helping, has set in deeply, keeping me immobilized, aided and abetted by the severe cold and my extremely tight financial situation, which forces me to keep the thermostat set so low, I might as well not have the heat on. Almost. Of course, judging by the bill I just received, it doesn't seem like it. Ouch! Talk about adding insult to injury - looking at this bill, you wouldn't think I'd been suffering through this cold snap like I have! I am constantly bundled to the teeth (several layers of clothes, even in bed), even wearing my handwarmers to bed, and I'm still constantly freezing. I've been keeping the thermostat set to a low of 60 and a high of 65, and trying not to use the electric heaters too much since that just jacks up the electric part of my bill, which more than doubled from my last one in spite of my tight control. It's been so cold, you can feel the chill radiating from the windowpanes, even with the storms in place. Of course, this is an old house, rather drafty, which isn't helping. It certainly hasn't been helping the mood, that's for sure.

I know I should be spending time under my S.A.D. light, but it's currently sitting on the kitchen floor because there is no good place to set it up at present. I've had the box for over six years now, and worry that I might be nearing the point where the bulbs may have to be replaced, something which I would have a hard time doing at this time. Of course, that's not a good enough excuse to not be using it, but the lack of a place to park it is, in my mind. And I haven't been feeling properly motivated yet to actually do something about it.

I did manage to get the living room rearranged, enough to get that "entertainment center" (if you'd like to call it that) set up, and got enough of my unruly possessions somewhat organized and under control that, while the room is far from completed, I can comfortably spend time in there. Well, maybe not so comfortably - it's still cold as Siberia in there. And the lighting still leaves a lot to be desired, especially for crocheting by. I've also discovered that I have to be careful how many things I have on and running at the same time in there, blew a fuse the other day when I had my plant lights on while running my little electric heater (those things really suck a lot of power!). I did take a couple of "before" shots of the room when I started that massive project, but will save those to be posted with the "after" shots to be taken once I finally finish setting the room up the way I want it. Which will probably be a while, unless we get a good warm spell.

No matter what I do to try and stay warm, I am constantly cold, so much so that it is hard to do much of anything. My hands are the worst, the only area of my body that I can't keep covered and still actually do anything. It has made it hard especially to crochet, and the depression only adds to the problem. It frustrates and angers me to have so much yarn lying around and not seem to be able to actually do anything with it except look at it.

But there is a little light at the end of my tunnel. I have some money available I plan to tap into, though it won't be until after the new year arrives. It will ease things a bit, as long as I don't get nuts with it. Lifting my worries a bit will definitely help, and maybe release me toward thinking about future plans with a bit more gusto than I can manage right now.

In spite of the difficulties, I did manage to get some crocheting done, though. There's the afghan I made to go with my Homespun Harvest shawl, which I made while plowing my way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy; and the matching handwarmers - at least I'm stylish while trying to stay warm! I will post pics of these in a seperate entry. Yesterday, after a few false starts - and once I located the hook, which decided to play hide-and-go-seek with me for a bit - I managed to complete my second snowflake, started over a month and a half ago! As of now, my snowflake count is up to a grand total of 4 completed ones! Well, excepting blocking, which I can tell is gonna be a bear. I will have to find and verify that my pins are, for certain, of the non-rusting variety. Then I have to come up with a clever place to pin them to. Oh yes, and there's still those infernal tails to hide. Did I say they were done? Never mind! Pics will be posted once they are, whenever that might be.

I'd had all kinds of grand plans for Christmas presents this year, but didn't get anywhere near reaching those goals. It's not like I had a huge list of recipients for which gifts are a must (it stands at a grand total of 3 this year, with a larger secondary list of folks I would have liked to gift - and still intend to even though it won't be for this holiday), but I have found myself waffling back and forth on what to do, what was feasible for me to actually do (did I have the materials on hand? was it a project that could be accomplished in time? would it be something they'd like and use?), and thanks to my other difficulties, it seems like I haven't been able to do much at all. I had already made the Angel Hair scarf for dd months ago, but had been hoping to have something else to go with it. She's a difficult one to make things for, however, as her taste is extremely conservative - she doesn't like things that will draw attention to her, or which have the potential to be unflattering. I find myself at a loss when it comes to selecting things to make for her, at least from my current stash and supplies. Perhaps if I can get this energy unstuck, I will be able to make it up to her by her birthday. That gives me until around Valentine's Day.

I have had even more trouble deciding on something for mom, finally settling on - yawn - yet another scarf, this one made from Moonlight Mohair. I totally winged it with this one, trying to go for a ruffled look and not so sure I was successful with it. It's just not draping the way I wanted it to, and I'm worried I made it too long for the style I was trying to achieve - she's about 4 foot 10, so a five foot scarf would be far too much for such a tiny frame. While this one is nowhere near five feet long, it's still longer than I think it should be, but it's too late now to redo - and I frogged far too much already to even think of having another go. I'd be better off scrapping it and starting over. Still, it probably doesn't look that bad, I'm just being too picky as usual. I'll get a pic for posting taken before it gets wrapped for giving. I made a flower out of what was left over, and am contemplating adding a band of some kind that can be wrapped around the scarf (rather than tying it together), which would help with the ruffling, but I need for it to have a super-easy kind of closure. A button would probably be too heavy, and I don't want any pins, nor do I want to tie it. Maybe if I can fashion some kind of a buttony knot at one end of the band which the other end could be slipped over, behind the scarf and with the flower on the front... I have very little yarn left for this little feat, hope I can manage to fashion something that will work and not be too clumsy to use.

At any rate, I would have liked to have had more than just the scarf for her, too. I've had tons of ideas, but none of them are of the type that could be accomplished in just a couple of days, especially as slow as I've been moving. Again, it looks like I will be shooting for her birthday for anything bigger. So, between mom and daughter, I have two things to come up with in about 6 weeks. I'd better pull out of this funk soon, so I can get to it!

The third person on my list is Phil, and again I'll be looking to try to get his gift done by his birthday - which is a month away. But I won't even be able to start on his gift until I get that cash infusion next month, as I just don't have the yarn on hand that I need to make it. I'm also being rather ambitious with this plan, which is to make him a sweater! Seeing as how it would be my first full-blown sweater, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, Miss Meeps is on my case yet again - she has been bugging me like clockwork nearly around the clock to come play with her, sigh! You know it's cold when she shows absolutely NO interest in going outside at ALL! Which is the way it's been for most of the past month. And this kitty will not be ignored! Here is a pic of her taking it to the extreme with trying to get my attention while I'm on the computer:

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Just TRY to use that mouse while she's sitting on the mousepad, lol! And on your hand, over the mouse. Is that a Morris Look, or what? Of course, it does keep my hand warm when she's parked there, hmmm...

Okay, I could go on and on, chattering about nothing forever here, but since I actually feel like crocheting tonight - and it's not too cold right now - I'd rather go do that, so I will get this posted, along with those promised shots of my completed stuff, few though they might be. The update shot of my Iris seraphina will have to wait, though, as I've yet to take the pic. It hasn't grown all that spectacularly from the last shot anyway, so no big deal.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Crocheting off the deep end...

Okay, well... I've been rather awol for several days now, deeply lost in "Middle Earth". Somebody just may have to come in after me and rescue me, though I must warn: I will probably not cooperate with any such efforts! It has been far too much fun, lol!

After years of resistance to the phenomenon, I finally relented (now that I've got a "home theater" system of my own to enjoy, simple though it may be) and decided to check out the first movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. From the beginning, I found myself cast under it's spell, and it has yet to release me! After watching the first movie and all of it's special features (this was the first release edition, not the newer extended version), I just had to get my hands on the second and third. Immediately! I had picked up the first movie at the library but had not seen the others there, and being unemployed, couldn't just rush out to any rental place unless the price and timing were right. Fortuitously, I had just a few days previously received a flyer in the mail from Hollywood Video, where I had an account (though unused for a good couple of years due to being without video equipment) with 2 coupons good for rentals at 99 cents apiece, for FIVE DAYS! And so I went galloping off to the store and came back victoriously clutching the coveted disks in my freezing little hands. The Two Towers movie was also the earlier release version but the final episode in the series, The Return of the King, was the extended edition, with 4 disks for me to watch. All of the disks were badly scarred, alas, and so it was with some trepidation that I placed each into my dvd player, hoping for the best. I was fortunate. Although there were a few bad spots, none of them occurred during the playing of the movies themselves.

I have spent the past week in a Trilogy viewing Orgy! I am now taking a break from the final special feature disk of the last movie, having watched all three of the movies twice, followed by all the extras included with each! Well, except for the commentaries. I have also cunningly convinced Phil, who has never seen them (this not being his usual type of genre), to give me the green light to shop for the
extended set online which he will purchase (if I can find it at a reasonable price), and he will watch it too. He has indicated that it will likely be a birthday present for me, but he does want me to wait until after the holidays, feeling that the price will be less after gift-giving season is over. He is no traditionalist where holidays are concerned. I guess I can wait the three months. Maybe... LOL!

It has been so many years since I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and I never even knew about Sylmarillion - excuse any potential mispelling, doing it from memory here) that there was very little I remembered of the story save for a few bare facts and some of the characters, though I do remember I enjoyed it very much. These books have been placed on my "must read" list now, as well. The movies, and the stories behind them - the special features - totally captivated me, causing me to stand in awe of the cinematic achievement of all who were involved with their making. The attention to detail that was put into these films is absolutely mind-blowing! And I have loved viewing the many personal stories that evolved from the making of the films as well.

I have done little else while I have been so immersed in this fantasyland, but I have been crocheting! I am nearing the end of an afghan I started at the beginning of this little saga, and soon I hope to be able to post a picture of my completed project. This afghan was actually originally intended to be more of a lapghan, to match my Harvest shawl and the Harvest fingerless handwarmers I made with the notion of using the set to keep me warm while I play on my computer in this chilly house, as I have been extremely conservative with the thermostat even during a rather long subzero snap - I have been perpetually dressed almost like a polar bear and, unfortunately, closely resembling one as a result! I've stayed dressed this way even when I burrow under my down comforter to sleep. I move like one too! The slow movements have been forced, actually, both by the necessity of navigating tight passageways through small rooms in a bulked-up body and the lumbering effect that the cold often brings, especially when that bulk makes graceful movement, uhm, rather difficult shall we say? Except for perpetually icy fingertips, I've managed to stay mostly warm (if not fashionable) in a house where temperatures have not been allowed to exceed 65 degrees F - having a couple of small electric heaters has helped, though. I don't know whether all this sacrifice will have resulted in less pain from high heating bills, as I haven't yet received my first one since the furnace has been called on for this season. It won't be long, though, before I find out whether I will have to take even more extreme measures to cover the costs of keeping warm this winter on a severely reduced income. I do hear that there is a HEAP of help to be had, should I require it (with thanks to my friend Terra for the suggestion).

It has helped me to get through this period of cold to think about the people of those long-ago eras (and even the not-so long-ago ones, actually), who did not have the luxury of thermostats and furnaces to heat up a whole house! If they could survive it, I certainly can! It is the same thinking I engaged in through the summer without benefit of air conditioning, even through those hottest of days. Yes, I do have an air conditioner (a window version) but never pulled it out of the box after I saw the previous summer how ONE DAY'S use affected my electric bill. OUCH! Frankly, I'd much rather save that money for more stash enhancements!

At any rate, it may take me a few days to return to present-day Earth, lol! In the meantime, I will continue to try and make progress with the many wips and wims I would like to get done, as I manage to find other movies to catch my interest (though I doubt any will ever capture it as fully and intensely as this trilogy has done). Due in large part to the cold, and in no small measure to a general tendency toward a slow wielding of the hook, I can't say that I will have as much done as I'd like by year's end - and certainly nowhere near the number of Christmas projects as I'd planned - but for me this has been a pretty prolific year, project-wise even if I don't manage to accomplish anything more. I think I have plenty to be proud of, as far as my creative endeavors have gone. And next year will see a definite increase in those completed items, as I have a serious need and desire to start working my stash down to a more manageable level. Many of my planned Christmas projects will, alas, be late, but since they weren't anticipated anyway, it will be a nice surprise even if it is a bit on the tardy side. Better late than never, as they say!

Once I manage to finish rejoining the present, and complete my afghan, I will see about doing a photo shoot which will include, along with my Harvest set, an update on Iris, my Seraphina shawl - which I took a break from for a bit, but will continue sneaking in a few stitches here and there in between the other planned projects - as well as pics of a few other items I have yet to share. But if more than a week passes from this post without this promised photo update, it may be necessary to send out the search party...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snowy night...

As is typical of me, I stay cooped up in my little hidey-hole of a home until we have a snow storm. Then I decide to go out...

Honestly, though, I hadn't planned it that way! It's just the way it worked out. Besides, this wasn't supposed to be a snowstorm - the original forecast was for 1 to 2 inch accumulations total throughout the afternoon and evening, then it was supposed to stop. Yeah, uh huh! At least the temps have risen to less painful levels, finally!

I had put off going to Phil's all week so far. He wanted to feed me (and who am I to argue with that?) and I am down to my "lazy" food, as I like to call it. You know, open a can (or pouch, as the case may be for some of it), dump it in a bowl, heat and eat. My favorite kind! After years of cooking big meals for a family and now being down to just myself, I just don't feel a lot of incentive for dirtying a lot of dishes and preparing big meals. Besides, I hate to cook (probably all those years slaving away in the kitchen is my reckoning). And Phil LOVES to. He also tends to go waaay overboard on his quantities when he cooks, making enough to comfortably feed 10 to 20 people, so there are always lots of leftovers. LOTS. He's a good cook, makes lots of good healthy food with plenty of vegetables, interesting seasonings and no salt (due to his HBP and CHF conditions, it's a requirement for him, and not bad for me either). With a Cancer midheaven, he's a natural at these things, which is fine by me! But still I put off going there because I'm still in that "I don't want to leave my house" phase. Today, I agreed to go - and it snowed.

Dinner was a knockout: stuffed pork chops baked in the oven, with baked potatoes and a fresh vegetable medley steamed in garlic and lemon juice, with a light topping of cheddar cheese. By dinner's end, the pork chops weren't the only things that were stuffed! We never made it to dessert, a pear cobbler he had whipped together yesterday. But I have a generous portion of that in my doggy bag, which included half my dinner - it doesn't take much to stuff me! - and a large container of turkey vegetable soup he'd made over the weekend, enough for about 5 meals for me and representing about 1/3 of what he'd made.

I couldn't quite make it all the way through the movie he put on for our enjoyment, even though I worked on my mohair scarf while watching it. Since I'd skipped the nap and have been running on about 3 hours of sleep today, it got hard to keep my eyes open. I will have to catch it another time, when I'm a little less loopy. Besides, this flick demands that you be alert enough to absorb it, it's heavy on dialog of the philosophical and psychological kind, even though it's an animation. I'm sure he probably told me everything there is to know about this movie before, but that kind of information tends to go in one ear and out the other with most of them, not that I'm not interested. I'm just not interested to his level of obsession. The movie is called Waking Life.

So, we packed up all my goodies and I went to my car - to find it completely covered in a couple of inches of snow. Since it was snowing when I'd left the house, I'd had the foresight to make sure I had my snow brush in the car, but a broom would have been much better. As fast as I would get a section of the car cleared, by the time I was done with the next section, the first would be so heavily coated I'd have to start all over again! And, despite my preparedness in having that crucial implement in my car, that preparedness had not extended to my choice of wardrobe, particularly footwear for snowy weather! The snow on the ground was already about ankle deep, and around the front of the car, had I stepped into it, I would have been in up to mid-calf! My efforts at totally clearing the car of snow were futile, so I jumped in and got going. Verrrry slooooowly. Driving conditions were somewhat on the hazardous side, with the snow falling too fast for the snow plows to keep up, leaving the roads very slippery, and visibility was almost non-existent. But I made it safely home, and am now contemplating the snow shoveling job ahead of me tomorrow.

Thanks to the lack of sleep last night, and the wise refraining from a nap this afternoon, I think I will be able to fall asleep at a "normal" time tonight (knock wood). I could almost go now, I'm so tired, but I need and want to work on the mohair scarf, especially when I realized that I have to frog and redo what I did while watching that movie. It isn't quite the way I want it to be. Next time, I will rethink the wisdom of attempting a "make it up as you go" project in this yarn! It's just not suited to this kind of pattern.

Okay, the fuel gauge on this "tank" is getting dangerously low, and I also have to contend with my bored kitty again. I will probably regret this, but after playing with her peekaboo box and the streamer stick for awhile, I finally dug up and changed the long-dead batteries on her favorite toy of all time - the laser light. I managed to wear her out after about 5 minutes of chasing that light throughout the living room and hallway before coming here to write this up. But she seems to have recovered, as she is here pestering me for another session already! She will not leave me alone unless I play with her with that light for about 5 minutes every half hour or so, until she's thoroughly wiped out. This is why I was in no hurry to replace those dead batteries! Ah well, we'll manage to get through this, somehow.

Okay, that mohair is calling me!

Bloggity blog blog

Okay, so the time seems to be zooming on me. It's typical, for me. I've had my ups and downs, feeling good for awhile, then down and mopey, and withdrawn. Fortunately for me, for the most part the ups have been more than the downs, and I'm managing to make some progress on some long-neglected stuff around here when the energy hits. Only problem is that it often doesn't peak until after dark. Well after dark. I'm trying hard not to turn my schedule inside out, or upside down, or... whatever! But it just doesn't seem to be working all that great. I am not even going to say what time I finally found my pillow last night... uh, this morning - but as far as I'm concerned, it's not "morning" until I go to bed and then wake up. At least it's still morning when I wake up. But all in all, I'm not sleeping all that much.

The only thing I'm not managing to get a lot done on is my crocheting. I'm beginning to have some serious issues with this! I'm driving myself batty over it. I have this huge stash of assorted drool-worthy yarns with all kinds of ambitious plans for it and plenty of patterns to back up the plans - perhaps too many? Well, maybe... I have a short list of Christmas presents to make, or rather should I say gift recipients to make them for. These would be the "immediate family" sort of recipients, those closest to me, although there are others I would like to gift as well. And I can't make up my bleepin' mind what to make that's within reason!

Take my mom, for instance. Last year, I made her a prayer shawl. This year, I've entertained ideas of another shawl (a Seraphina, the one I'm already working on, in fact, though I had originally started it for myself), a lapghan to go with her prayer shawl (concerns about warmth tend to preoccupy me, considering I'm sitting in a chilly house in a frigid town (night-time temps have been averaging in the below zero range, with the daytime temps not much better. Brrr!), a fancy mohair scarf, a doily, a felted bag (it would be my first), even a silly little plastic bag holder/dispenser (only silly from the standpoint of all the other ideas I've been entertaining). The list is almost endless! On the positive side, I know that whatever I make her and regardless how well (or not) it turns out, she will love and cherish it, she's that kind of gal. Which is kind of what is fueling this idea list overload! Quite frankly, if I had the time, I'd make her ALL of these things! But at the rate I'm going, I'm gonna be lucky if I can manage to get just one of them done in time. Sigh...

Well, after a few false starts, I finally settled on the mohair scarf and got it started last night, only to realize that I am going to have frog several rows today because as usual, my edges aren't even. I always have the dickens of a time getting those edges straight at first on a project! But this yarn is a b*tch to frog! I'm using Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair, which is lovely and glittery but a major PITA when stitches need to be undone. Not impossible, mind you, but difficult - and not for the impatient! Why is it that the uneven edges are so hard to spot until you've gone a distance first? Grrr! But at least I've got a start.

Now, to settle on something for Phil... I'd still like to do a sweater, but I don't have what I would need, yarn-wise for it at this point. I'd like to make it in wool, in at least 2 colors, most likely blue for at least one color choice, if not both. I probably should start by making myself a sweater first, seeing as how I've never made a full-blown sweater yet! Still pondering on this dilemma.

Iris is temporarily on hold for now, until I can make headway on my gift list. I've completed it to 19 shells per side and am currently on row 2 of the next pattern sequence. Once I finish that series, I will take an update photo of it to share. Along with the mohair scarf, I am still contemplating gifting it to mom, though to be honest, it would be hard to give it up - I adore this color!

I was going to work on it the other night after spending much of the day working on my paper purging project (tossed SEVEN stuffed brown grocery sacks of paper and junk mail out to the curb for the recycling truck - progress!), but Meeps had other plans. She's been terribly bored lately, since it's been far too cold to spend much time outdoors and I've been too preoccupied to spend any quality play time with her. I had left Iris spread out against one of the cushions on the couch where I've spent most of my crocheting time. She rarely hangs out on the couch, but ohhh no - not this time! She must have been reading my mind (she's funny that way) because when I went to get my project, there she was, all comfortably curled up on it, grooming herself! When I approached the couch, she gave me this "I dare you!" look. The last thing I wanted was to have her snag the thing while making a quick exit at my prompting, so I just let her be, and proceeded to find something else to do. Bratty little kitty! If she wasn't so cute...

Okay, gonna post this and then go work on that scarf some more. I'm battling the sleepies, only slept a couple of hours because I was so worried that it would be afternoon when I awoke instead of morning (and I really don't want to do that!) that I woke up too early. I do need to get out and run some errands today, if I can find the energy and keep from passing out behind the wheel. And I've been delaying going to Phil's house (or anywhere, truth be told - this cold has me feeling like a bear wanting to hibernate), probably should go there today. In fact, he called a little while ago (after stopping by earlier) and is expecting me for dinner. I think I'll push myself and go get those errands accomplished before I head to his place, and forego the nap, with the hope that I can feel sleepy enough to go to bed at a more "normal" time tonight and get my schedule straightened out. We'll see if I'm successful or not.

Speaking of sluggish, the, uh, health condition I mentioned finally corrected itself, at least for a bit. That happened (as usual, I should have remembered) as soon as "Aunt Flo" showed up, which is usually the case. It's a real see-saw situation, if you catch my drift. And that's all I'm gonna say about that! Thanks for the prayers and good wishes, though - I was feeling particularly miserable this time out, and no longer having that insurance coverage only added to the worry, natch. I just need to remember to stay on top of things, so to speak. I can be such a flake about certain things!

Oh yeah, one more thing. After several days of a super-sluggish internet connection, I discovered this morning that my email was down. It finally came back up about an hour or so ago.

But now it's snowing - sheesh! I'd better get rolling if I'm gonna get out there!

Hope y'all have a nice day!


Friday, December 02, 2005

Quick (brief!) update

After nearly two weeks of being in a state of semi-vegetation due to a combination of factors, I am finally feeling energetic - and am knee-deep in cleaning and reorganizing projects around the house. Until I get my living room reassembled and again in a "livable" state, I will probably continue to be rather quiet for awhile.

One of the downsides of all this is I have had little time or energy to get much accomplished crochet-wise, but I'm hoping the major facelift on my working space will provide the boost I've been desperately needing, thus freeing my mind for staying focused on counting stitches! It better be soon, though, as Christmas is roaring down on me, and I am nowhere NEAR ready for it! Too much to do, so much lost time, eek!

Okay, back to work. I took a couple of "before" shots of the living room the other day, we'll see how it looks "after". I probably won't get an opportunity to post the pics for a few days at least, whenever I can find time to get 'em downloaded then uploaded, etc etc.

One problem concerning me now, healthwise, is the, um, digestive/eliminative problems that are plaguing me and making me mucho uncomfortable. Since my insurance expired on Wednesday (unless I can cough up around $400 for cobra payments, which is doubtful at best), I am hoping I can get this back under my control. As nice as it may be to be able to apply for medical assistance, it's notoriously crappy overall, unless emergency services are needed. I'm hoping it won't come to that, but I'll admit that last night I wasn't so sure. Asking for good thoughts to help me weather this, thanks for those who answer the call!