It’s Getting Better, Slowly But Noticeably

This past week and a half has been like getting a giant charley horse in my life, and slowly, over the past couple of days, I’ve been just kind of stretching through the cramp and loosening it up, and aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

Yesterday and today, I sat at the computer catching up on my blog reading and video watching, and knitted on the modified body of my cable edged shawl.  I’m really liking the increase in density of going to the smaller needle for the shawl body, and I did really need to go to 3 stitches for the garter stitch border on the leading edge of the shawl to balance the denser stitching in the body.

Some interesting things going on in the construction of the shawl body:  The garter tab is what sets up that 3-stitch leading edge border, which is knitted across the top edge of the shawl in both directions from the center point established by the garter tab.  However, in between that border and the body of the shawl is a yarn over (yo) on each end on every row, which increases your stitch count by two stitches every row (from the 9 of the tab, to 260).  That yarn over is what gives that little openwork line that makes it look like the border and the body are going in two different directions, when actually they’re not.  What you end up with is a semicircular piece of knitting with the 3-stitch garter stitch border across the diameter (top), and live stitches all around the circumference.  Then you start the garter stitch lace edging on another needle and each time you knit a row of the edging, you incorporate live stitches off the shawl body and join the edging on.

The garter tab is a nifty little bit of knitting in and of itself.  In this case, you cast on 3 stitches, knit 3 rows, then you turn your work 90 degrees to the right, pick up 3 stitches down the side of the tab, turn it another 90 degrees to the right, and pick up 3 more stitches across the bottom for a total of 9 stitches.  Your original 3 stitches become one side of the border, the stitches you picked up down the side become the body of the shawl, and the stitches you picked up across the bottom become the other side of the border.  It’s that little “turn the corner” around the tab that lets the border stitches go in both directions at once.  This type of construction is best for top-down shawls, both semicircular and triangular.  How you work your increases can give you some interesting patterns and textures.

I think I’m going to be exploring this type of shawl construction a little more.  I’ve found some garter stitch lace patterns for edging, and I found one that includes a mitered corner, which would work with a triangular shawl.

I’ve just sat down again from getting up doing things — I’m on a kick where I’m hungry for those baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and pieces of cantaloupe dipped in this particular brand of Ranch dressing, so I had to get up and get a plate of that.  Noshed on that while I read blogs, knitted, and played Spider solitaire.  Then I decided I wanted to bake some potatoes (I had three stashed in the fridge), so I got up and did that (washed, dried, rubbed with olive oil, baked in the oven at 360° for an hour).  (They’re baked and cooling now.)  While those were in the oven I made a bowl of tuna salad with tuna, chopped raw white onions, chopped kosher dill pickles, chopped black olives, and a (drained) can of those mixed peas and chopped carrots, with mayo and two large spoons of that Ranch dressing.  It’s chilling in the fridge as I type.  I must be getting better.  That’s the most cooking I’ve done in months.  I’ve got some Carr’s Table Water Crackers I’ll spoon the tuna salad on for noshing here directly.



What’s Going on Here?

I’ve lost about 9 days in a furious little, highly frustrating, energy draining, distracting, AAARRRHHH!!! health/life tangle that’s left me with a lot of aggravation, complications, and pointless scrambling about.  I could go into all the gory details but that’s not what this blog is about.  It was all just stupid on so many levels and all up in my face and in my way, and keeping me from doing what I want to be doing, which right now (and not surprisingly) is being quiet, calm, cocooned and knitting something.   Today is the first day I’ve been able to be where I want to be and just chill for a while.

So I was playing around with the cable edged shawl pattern and thought I saw something there I wanted to go after.  I was working it according to pattern, and thought it was going in a way I wanted to go, but, no.   I picked it up again today and, no.  Just, no.  Frogged it all out.  &*%$*#!  But I think I see what’s going on and why I don’t like the bits I don’t like, and how I can push the pattern closer to what I want.

The yarn weight works, but I’m going with a US9 (5.5 mm) needle instead of the US10 (6.0 mm) because I don’t want so lacy.   And the two stitch garter border for the top edge of the body of the shawl is too thin to my eye, and a 4-row garter tab to get 6 stitches is too deep and I didn’t like how that bit lay.  A 3-stitch border looks better to me, with a 3-stitch cast on and a 3-row garter tab to get 9 stitches.

The increase row for the shawl body adds 2 stitches a row using yarn overs.  I get that, and I see how it works.   However,  in the original pattern, you start the shawl body from a tab base of 6 stitches, which is an even number, and 9 isn’t, so if I start from a tab base of 9 stitches, I’ve got to sneakily either get rid of one stitch somewhere, somehow, or else add a stitch in somewhere, somehow to even things out so I’ll come out with the right number of working stitches (260) along the bottom edge of the shawl body so the edging pattern repeats will come out even.  So, in the pattern I’m writing to keep track of what I’m doing, I’ve got a step:  “Repeat row 2 until 260 stitches total.  In order to achieve this stitch count, at some random point in the shawl body work a single k2tog and mark it with a stitch marker so you’ll know you’ve done it.”  So there’s that.

My garter stitch lace shawl is coming along.  I’m liking the proportions of the increase.  I’m on my third pattern repeat for the edging.  Sticky notes work OK, but the stickum wears off the note when you have a pattern with a lot of repeats, like this one has.   I just surrendered to reality and got a typist stand for the pattern.  It is going to make doing this shawl so much easier, but it will also make knitting from any printed pattern easier, especially one with edging repeats, like the cable edged shawl will have.  I’m disciplining myself to do a whole pattern repeat at a sitting and to put my lifelines in at the end of each pattern repeat.   Dental floss.  Who knew?

Spooky. . .

I have a wall hanger in the laundry room where the empty clothes hangers go when the garment that were hung on them go in the laundry hamper.  When the clothes are done drying, the hangers go on top of the clothes dryer, right to hand as I pull items out of the dryer and hang them up. (The laundry room is one of those odd areas of my universe where my OCD spectrum disorders and autism spectrum disorders intersect and create this weird sort of plaid effect. . . .)

The load I did tonight was a mixed bag:  Tops and slacks, with a couple singlets and a small herd of unmentionables and socks.  (Anything that doesn’t get hung up goes in the laundry basket to be folded when I get a roundtoit.)  There were about 15 hangers that got piled on top of the dryer tonight, and I swear to you, each time I pulled out a pair of slacks, the next hanger on the pile was a pants hanger — every dang time!  Freaked me out.


Tis the season to be sneezing.  The Bradford Ornamental Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) are blooming all over town and my sinuses are in a howling uproar.  Of course, if you followed the link and read the article, you’ll know I’ll have my revenge on the owners of the dang things sooner or later. . . .

And not to put too fine a point on my day, . . . .Coming out of the parking lot at the doctor’s office this morning, a pickup (what else?) backed into me.  His bumper got all four side panels a good lick and did a number on my front passenger door handle.  It’s the pickup’s fault; I’ve got his info, but it’s all a big hassle I’ve got to deal with.   They’ll probably have to replace both the front and rear fender panels and both door panels and the door handle.   His insurance is supposed to furnish me a loaner while they’re fixing it, but that’s a hassle, and taking it in and however long it’s going to take to fix it is a hassle.  I’ve got too many things going on in my life right now and the last thing I need is one more hassle to have to deal with. AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

And not to put too fine a point on this absolute bummer of a Pi Day, Stephen Hawking passed away.  On Albert Einstein’s birthday.

In Memoriam

Sad news from Shoreacres

In Memoriam

On silent feet, the furry folk arrive,
Leave paw prints all across my days,
Scatter catnaps in my sunshine places.
Oh, how their presence graces me.
Quicker than a winking eye, as agile as a smile,
they stalk the pathways of my heart
And what great emptiness they leave behind
When it is time for them to go.

Poem "In Memoriam" ©2010 The Owl Underground

Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Some life happened, folks.  I’ve been having some health problems, which I won’t go into here.  One of them I knew about and I’ve been coping with it.  The other one came flying in out of left field and caught me flat footed. Add in a couple of adverse drug reactions (HIVES!) and these past two weeks have not been fun.  The scariest thing about it, though, is how the VA came through for me on some drugs that would have otherwise cost me $94 for 20 pills, as well as the other meds I needed.  Anyway.  Hopefully, things will settle back down again and I’ll have more frequent updates.

I’ve started working on this Cable Edged Shawl pattern which I’m doing in a Lion Brand Heartlands yarn called “Glacier Bay.” It’s worked as a garter tab from the leading edge downward, and you put the edging on last, working at right angles to the shawl body.  You work the whole body first, and I’ve got a way to go on that.  Simple garter stitch, but with a nice edging.

I’ve also gotten a little farther along on my modification of this pattern.  I took the hint of using dental floss as lifelines, putting in a lifeline after every pattern repeat.  I like the way it’s coming along so far, especially the texture of the shawl body.

I’m on my third pattern repeat.  You can see how the garter stitch lace edging is shaping up.  The only hard part about it, actually, is the garter stitch lace bit.  The rest of it is pretty straightforward.  So far, so good.  I will post the pattern on my knitting blog when I get it worked through.

I’ve been doing a re-re-re. . . read of C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner books, which has been instrumental in helping me keep my sanity through the fun and games I’ve been having.  I’m about halfway through.   There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr book due out, which I’m looking forward to.  Regency murder mystery . . .!

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.



The Eyes Have It

I know I’ve mentioned it here, although not lately, that I have a thing called ocular migraines.  Many migraine headache sufferers report an “aura” prior to their headache, a warning symptom(s) that a headache is coming.  Many of these “auras” are visual — scotoma, scintillating scotoma, etc.   Some people, like me, get the aura without the headache.  If you have to have migraines, and you get a choice what kind to have, choose the kind I have.  I get maybe 10-15-20 minutes of visual disturbances, and that’s it.  No headache.  No pain.  Just these annoying visual symptoms.  There is a genetic component to migraines, and women are more likely than men to have migraines of any type.  I have female cousins on both sides who have full blown migraine attacks — and who know their triggers.   Me?  I got off dead easy.

My ocular migraines typically involve a scintillating scotoma in my left visual field.   It starts as a flickering point just left of center in the area of sharpest vision.  It’s something that happens in my brain, not my eye, and because it happens in my left visual cortex, it affects both eyes.  (Anatomical aside:  The optic nerve from each eye branches and half of it goes to each side of the visual cortex of your brain, so each eye transmits to both sides of the brain.  If you lose an eye, you lose your depth perception.  However, if the right visual cortex of your brain is damaged, it doesn’t take out the vision in the right eye, it takes out the right half of the vision in both eyes.  Because you still have some vision in both eyes,  your depth perception is preserved.)  The scintillating point expands into a “C” shape, with the “gap” oriented toward the right lower corner of my visual field.  The “C” moves diagonally up toward the left upper corner of my visual field, getting larger and larger as it moves, until it expands off the edge of  the visual field and goes away. It only affects my sharp vision for a minute or two, but it’s visually disruptive until it goes away.   If I get one while I’m driving, I pull off out of traffic as soon as I can safely do so, and wait them out.

The whole reason I brought this up is that on the whole I may go months and months without having one, or I may have two or three over the course of a week.  Yesterday, I had four, and one was atypical — it was just like the ones I always have except it was in my right visual field instead of the left.  I’ve had another typical one today already.

Now, some migraine triggers are dietary (MSG, artificial sweeteners, nitrates, etc. ).  I eat Chinese food with impunity (and chopsticks).  I eat lunch meat and hot dogs with impunity (and mayonnaise), so MSG and nitrates are not suspects. Although wine is a migraine trigger for one of my cousins,  I can and will drink wine when it’s offered, and it’s not a suspect.  Changes in hormone levels are not suspect either; I’ve been on estrodiol-only HRT for (literally) decades and my hormone levels stay constant.  I suspect that changes in weather may be one of my triggers — possibly rapid changes in barometric pressure and such like —  and the polar vortex has been wreaking havoc with the weather here lately.  We had some nice warm weather earlier in the week, then Wednesday, it got cold again, and was drippy, drizzly, mizzly and dreich.  It’s the first moisture we’ve had in over a month.

I don’t care for artificial sweeteners and rarely consume them.  Saccharin has an unplesant “wang-y” aftertaste that I don’t like.  I’m not real wild about any of the others, either.  I just don’t care for the way they taste.   My mom uses both Sweet’n’Low (saccharin) and Equal (aspartame).  She likes the taste (300-500 times sweeter than sugar) and finds nothing “off” about it.    My dad never cared for diet drinks, and it is very likely that I get my dislike of them from him.*  (His tea was never sweet enough unless about half an inch of sugar had settled out of it into the bottom of the glass.  Yep.  I’m daddy’s girl.)

But the standout atypical thing about yesterday, apart from my having four attacks, was that I had this “zero calorie” bottle drink I hadn’t had before.    I bought four bottles of the stuff, but I bought it for the bottles — nice substantial, washable, refillable,  17-oz plastic bottles**.  The drink  was carbonated, contained several of the vitamin B’s, and it had green tea extract.   I’ve got three more in the fridge.  I’m going to try another challenge Sunday when I know I’m going to be staying in all day.

In the meantime, I think I hear some spinach focaccia calling my name.  I’d better go see what it wants.

*Taste breaks down to chemistry and your ability to taste or not taste certain chemicals is inherited. 
**I hate buying bottled water and throwing all that plastic away.  It's stupid and irresponsible, and it supports those criminally-irresponsible environmental-toxic companies who make them.  Not only is it much more environmentally friendly to get a set of bottles and reuse them for months and months, it's cheaper in the long run.