Temporary Reprieve?

I’m supposed to call my oncologist’s nurse and report symptoms. This morning I called in to report that I had the cracking of the skin of the fingertips last week, which has progressed to peeling of the palms of my hands. As in shedding my skin like a lizard in big flakes and sheets. I’m peeling everywhere else, as well, but in tiny flakes.

So while I was out getting my hair trimmed and getting a manicure (I have a really hard time clipping my right nails with my left hand), and filling my car up with gas, and picking up some WD40 for my squeaky bathroom doors, my oncologist’s nurse called and he wants to postpone my next cycle of chemotherapy until after I’ve seen this dermatologist he’s referred me to and is trying to get me in with him ASAP.

I know why he wants me to see a dermatologist. There are several skin side effects of bendamustine that are rather nasty, like Stevens-Johnson syndrome. But my research has revealed that some of the listed “less common” side effects of the drug are “hives, itching or rash, and redness of the skin.” and “incidence not known” side effects of “blistering, flaking or peeling of the skin.” Considering what the more common side effects are, I’m getting off light. Also, the redness, itching, and peeling are the same side effects I had when I had my first course of chemo with bendamustine in 2018.

My late friend who passed from breast cancer as well as my friend KC, who has also undergone chemo for breast cancer also had the cracking of the skin of the fingertips from chemo. I was able to get over it within a couple of days by debriding the thickened skin of my fingertips with my Amopé tool, slathering on the Sween cream, and then putting a pair of disposable latex gloves on for a couple of hours until it fully soaked in.

I got mom’s stuff to the tax guy Tuesday. Where I live is off 17th street, and his new offices are on 122nd street, which is way the heck on the other side of town in deepest, darkest Yuppieville. When I called him on the phone to tell him I was bringing her stuff for him, I asked him if I could sign her tax return as POA, and he said, “Yes.” When I go back, I’ll be able to pay what she owes and sign, and he’ll file it electronically, and hunky-dory-ness will ensue.

They’ve started the knitting group at the public library up again, and the same lady is running it as before. It’s at 1 pm on Tuesday afternoons now instead of at night. KC and I went Tuesday afternoon. I’d like to be able to start going back.

It was on sale. Half price, and so pretty. So, I treated myself. After what I’ve been through with the chemo side effects this month, I thought I deserved a little treat. The website I got it from is WEBS and they have a sale section, as well as a very wide selection of yarns. They had a half-price sale on their Cascade Yarns’ Merino Dream “Hand Painted,” Super fine:1, 100% merino, 3.5 oz/100g, 437 yds/400 m. This colorway is 112: “Dusk.” Pounce!

I also follow the Needles At The Ready podcast that Kevin and Ray do, and Kevin has been dyeing yarn. He has some really nice colors. I was able to snap up the last three skeins of this colorway called “Chestnut Mare” off their Etsy site. I love the color. It’s on an 80% superwash Merino/20% nylon sock base, 400 yds, 100 g. You really have to pay attention to when he restocks. He dyes in small quantities, and when he restocks, they bounce once and are gone.

This evening, I took the WD40 to the hinges on my bathroom doors — instead of one regular door that would take up a lot of room to swing open, it has two small doors that open like French doors. They are now completely de-squeaked and I are so happy.

I finally assorted and deranged all my tchotchkes on the shelves. I have a collection of Celtic and Norse goddess statues that I had in my office as well as a Quan Yin on a dragon, plus a cloisonne collection of mine and mother’s pieces, some tea cups, whatnots and etc. And the top shelf is reserved for my kitty babies. That leaves me the two boxes from the move (contents of the china cabinet) and hanging my suncatchers and I’ll be pretty much all moved in.

The plan is to go for the boxes tomorrow, but somebody is supposed to call me and tell me when I go see the dermatologist, so I’ll have to play it by ear. I need to put in a work order to get the maintenance guy to put this plastic storage bin up on the top shelf of my closet to get it up off the floor so I can put that under bed bin of yarn in its place. Saturday, I’ve got to do probably two loads of laundry, but the plan is to spend this Sunday like I spent last Sunday: Snuggled in bed reading and eating cracker sandwiches. And knitting.

Oh, It’s Knitting Time Again, The Weather’s Cooler*

Our weather has been consistently cooler (finally!) and rainy of late, with crashy-bangy T-storms rumbling in out of the southwest, heading for Oklahoma and points SE. I stepped outside this afternoon wearing a short sleeved tee shirt and the thought actually crossed my mind that I might want a light jacket.  (Must have gotten down into the low 80’s F/26-27 C.)  If it cools down any more, I’m going to have to start wearing clothes in the house again. . . That’s ok, though because I have long-sleeved, ankle length sleep shirts, too. (Cotton is my friend. . . ). . . . And would you believe, only two finished, wearable shawls?

Mom and I have a flying visit to Pearland scheduled toward the end of October, and after that, the top priority item on the knitting agenda will be making the “talents” for this year’s scholarship auction at that Sekrit Klub my mom belongs to.  (The members are suppose to utilize their talents to make items for the auction.  My mom’s talent is getting me to make stuff for her. . . )  It’s going to be knitted Xmas balls this year.  Three sets of three.   I think I’ll make a red and green set, a red and white set, and a blue and white set.  I’ve got the red and white yarn, and I think I have the green, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the right blue in the right yarn.  I’ll have to go stash diving to make sure, though, before I hit up Michael’s.

So now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m feeling more knitty (and less gritty!).  I got this little mini-hank of fingering weight yarn at the knitting group Xmas party year before last.  A lady who was not part of the group, but known to several of its members (she is both a drop-spindle and wheel spinner, had chickens, dogs, goats and alpaca, and would have had a long drive into and out of town at night, and anyway, with all that livestock, who has time??) dropped by the party on her way back out to her place.  She evidently had a RACSB moment and, without preamble, handed me this mini skein of hand-spun yarn in a plastic sandwich bag.  I don’t remember the exact fiber content, but there may be some alpaca involved.  It’s this not-quite-teal shade of blue/green.

It’s a neat trick for one person to wind a traditional skein without a swift, but I improvised.  Most of the yarn I buy is cheap and (hypoallergenic) acrylic and comes in pull skeins (pull skeins are tools of the Devil**, y’all.  Just sayin’. . .) and have no pressing need for a swift.  It’s when you start getting into the pricy, big name and/or “artisanal” woolen yarns — i.e., yarn from a big name European company, or yarn exclusively from only one breed of sheep, or artisan hand-spun/hand dyed yarns,  or yarns blended with fiber from truly exotic species (yak, musk ox, saluki. . . ) — what I refer to as “snob yarn” — that you start needing a swift.  ( Compare Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarn at around $5 per 315 yd/170 g skein –depending on where you buy it, and Malbrigo yarn (from Peru) at $18 per 440 yd/100g skein.  A sweater’s quantity — depending on your size — of the Malbrigo can run you more than $100!)

About six months ago, I sprang for some skeins of Malbrigo sock yarn (Peruvian) in a luscious dark teal (are you beginning to detect a color palette here?) and  some donuts of Knitting Fever (Australian) yarn in a really zippy two-tone combination of strands of light purple and medium Prussian blue twisted together.  I got both of them (on separate occasions!) from the Must Love Yarn Shop in Shelburne, VT.  Two of the owners of MLY put out a podcast every Friday (I follow their YouTube channel) during the course of which they will feature a particular brand of yarn as “the pick of the week” and give a discount code for 10% off that’s good for two weeks if you buy that particular yarn (in any color they have in stock) either in person from their store, or from their website.

Anyway, to crawl out of that rabbit hole and get back to that little hank of yarn (remember it?), I have been threatening for (literally) years to knit a sweater for the little 25-cm ball jointed doll belonging to the wife of my favorite author (C. J. Cherryh) and I had earmarked the aforementioned hank of yarn for that project. We’re talking fingering weight yarn on size US1/2.25 mm double pointed needles at a gauge of 6 stitches per 2 cm.  I’m having to use a tapestry needle to work the cable because none of my cable needles are small enough in diameter.  (The smallest cable needle I have is US6/4.0 mm).  I have the doll’s measurements, and I’m writing the pattern as I go.  (If God had wanted me to do math in my head, She wouldn’t have given us calculator apps!)  I’m also playing a little knitter’s game called “yarn chicken.” (I do love a challenge!) Thankfully, I have a “Plan B” — some compatible colors in this weight yarn — that I can “design in” to the pattern if I need to.  The US1’s I’m using are from my ChiaoGoo sock set.  Believe me, this sock set is a real bargain.  You get a  really nice, sturdy cloth, zippered carrying case and SIX 5-needle sets of 6-inch double pointed needles:  sizes US0/2mm, 1/2.25mm, 1.5/2.5mm, 2/2.75mm, 2.5/3mm and 3/3.25mm.  These are high-quality stainless steel needles.  (They also have sock sets in bamboo)  I absolutely adore them.


There’s a thing knitters refer to as UFO’s, UnFinished Objects — Works In Progress (WIPs) that have run out of gas. I’m telling you.  I have enough UFOs to re-enact  (H.G. or Orson, take your pick) Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”   Most of them are currently in a parking orbit in two of the drawers of my stash bins.  I’ve got four sets of bins crammed full of yarn and another two large plastic bins of yarn on the floor beside them.   I think after the first of the year, I need to go on a serious WIP whup.  A finish or frog-athon. (When I’m not in free-fall down the “Outlander” rabbit hole, that is. . .)(So many books, so little time!)  Sigh.

Today’s earworm is brought to you by the woman who would become Princess Leia‘s mom the year after this film was released, and two of the all-time great song-and-dance men  (Donald O’Connor and the incomparable Gene Kelly).  The unsinkable Ms. Reynolds is  having no trouble at all keeping up in this rarified company, singing or dancing.  The film this scene is from is a classic.

* With apologies to Ray Charles.
**They were ostensibly designed so you could use the yarn straight from the skein, without having to roll it up into a ball or cake first.  However, if you pull from the outside, you always have to be stopping and unrolling more yarn (or else you give it a good yank and it hops off the couch and rolls halfway across the room and you have to get up and go get it).  If you pull from the inside, locating the yarn end in the center of the skein is like Finding Nemo and once you're down to about 20% of the skein, they have a marked tendency to suddenly implode into a big wad of yarn barf.   Either way, they'll have you losing your religion in a New York minute.
***What the little ball chart calls "hankenskein" by any other name is still yarn barf.

Down The Rabbit Hole

As in Alice falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.  Except that the rabbit hole I keep falling down is YouTube.   Did you know there is a video game in which you choose which of a selection of baby dinosaurs you want to be and then have to find food and evade predators until you grow to be an adult?  It’s based on the prehistoric ecosystem of the Hell Creek formation and many scientists who study the flora and fauna of that era consulted on the game.  From what little I’ve seen of it, the CGI is better than the various Jurassic Park films, and a good deal more scientifically accurate.  If I had a kid, that would be the kind of video games I’d want them to play instead of those ghastly shoot-em-up games or kill-them-before-they-kill-us zombie/monster games.   I may have to get a trial download for PC just to see the graphics.

I’m telling you, rummaging about on YouTube turns up some of the most interesting things — like video of ROV exploration of the deep oceans, or those great BBC English history videos, or some lady using a pattern from the 1940’s to make a dress, or twenty years of Time Team, or people building their own houses/homesteads, how-to videos that teach you how to do practically everything,  videos  about every hand craft you can imagine, videos about every hobby you can imagine.

Just this evening, I stumbled onto the channel of a Russian woman who is evidently a naturalist of some kind who cares for (rehabilitates?) birds of prey, mostly owls.  She has an eagle owl, some smaller owls, as well as frogs, lizards, millipedes, and a cat.  Some of her videos have titles or brief explanations in English, but they’re all narrated in Russian.

I studied Russian for 18 months once upon a time, and I’m fascinated by the sound of it.  It’s been a while, but I still recognized words and phrases.  More and more comes back the longer I listen to it.   Every language has its unique sounds, its unique rhythm and meter.  Russian has oddly shaped vowels interspersed with snarls and globs of consonants (the word for “hello” has 8 consonants and only 4 vowels — здравствуйте –zdravstvuite.)  Whereas the English alphabet is derived from the Roman alphabet, the Russian alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet, and it has more letters than ours.  Russians only need four letters to spell “borscht”  – борщ  – that last letter is pronounced “shch.” The word for “bird” is птица  (ptitsa) and both the “p” and the “t” are pronounced.  It’s an infected language like Latin, with cases and endings, and a truly mind-bending system of verbs.  It has no articles (“a/an” or “the”) and the verb “to be” has no present tense.

. . . Anyway, in one of the videos, she and three of her besties went to a lake in the country so that one of them could take a baby otter swimming.   (Baby otters are not instinctive swimmers.  They have to be taught.)  — it was on a leash the whole time.  Despite the surrounding vegetation being green, the lake water was so cold she had to put a wet suit on to go in swimming with it.  One of her other besties is a veterinarian, and there was a video about her examining two birds (with some really state of the art equipment!) — a fairly good sized owl and some sort of hawk or falcon.  The cat (named “Murloc”)  walks on a leash, too.

My hair is finally beginning to get some length to it.  It’s long enough to just barely touch the top of my shoulder and the hair across my forehead is down past my nose, i.e., if I want to see, I have to part my hair in some fashion to get it out of my eyes (the medical term for it is “growing out your bangs syndrome” and it’s a PITA).  For some strange reason, I started parting it on the right.  Then last week, I had a “DUH!” moment.

I have anisometropia, which is to say, the vision in my right eye (20/400) is very much worse than the vision in my left eye (20/40).   I have excellent vision in my right eye until about 2 feet from my head, at which point it quickly deteriorates to “what chart?”.  My left eye has fairly normal vision and I can function quite well without glasses — except I can’t drive without them. I usually read without glasses — and with just my right eye.  (The left eye just tunes out.)  Most of the time, I don’t wear my glasses in the house unless I’m at the computer or watching TV.

So, “duh!” if I part my hair on the right and don’t put a clip in it, the hair falls down over my good eye.  (It only took about three weeks for me to realize this!)  So now I’m parting my hair on the left, so if I don’t have a clip on it, the hair falls down over my right eye, which can’t see the furniture anyway.  This situation will eventually resolve itself when the front part of my hair finally gets long enough that I can pull it all back into a pony tail.  In the meantime, we are dealing with less-than-satisfactory interim solutions.   And barrettes.

My mom called a while ago and during our chitting and chatting, she informed me that she just found out that my first cousin once removed’s husband (who is in the Air Force) just made brigadier general.   She is the daughter of the cousin who drives in from New Mexico to take my mom and me to lunch ever so often., and her daughter (removed x2) is the one I send all the books to.

My “office” (and computer) is in the spare bedroom, which is carpeted.  I have most of a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood on the floor under my desk and chair with one of those heavy plastic chair mats screwed to it because not only does my chair have wheels, so does my desk.  I don’t have speakers hooked up to my desktop computer.  I have an extension cord plugged into the speaker port on the computer which is taped to the underside of the desk with packing tape with the business end just under the front edge of my desk.  I plug my ear buds into the extension cord jack.  This set-up is a hold over from my medical transcription days when I was required to use headphones for transcription because of HIPAA  privacy regulations regarding patient confidentiality.   I have a pair of speakers, but I don’t use them.  I’m just so used to putting on headphones/earbuds when I sit down at the computer.  I noticed the other day that if I I have my earbuds in and shuffle my feet across that plastic mat, I get a double earful of static electricity.  Gets your attention, I can tell you!

Gah, I hate scammers and telemarketers!!!  I’ve had four (!!!) calls just during the time I’ve been typing on this blog post.  They call to tell me they are about to deduct $299 from my bank account for some subscription unless I call their toll free number.  They call pretending to be somebody from Microsoft telling me that the license on my copy of Windows is about to expire.  They call about problems with my (nonexistent) credit card.  They call me about a problem with my social security account.*  Unfortunately, the brand of cordless phone I have on my land line doesn’t have the number blocking feature like my cell does and at any given time, about half my voicemails are from stupid scammers or telemarketers.

*Don't people realize that if the IRS, or the Social Security Administration, or any other governmental body has a problem with you, they are not going to call you on the phone? They are going to write you a letter about it and snail-mail it to you.


Chronic Startitis

Yep.  I’ve got it.  And not just startitis, but chronic startitis.  I’m so bad about starting things.  I get so excited about them and plunge into them  and then they don’t get finished because I’ve started something else that I’ve gotten so excited about and plunged right into.  Which is to say, I have a ton of UFO’s.  Which is to say, I’ve started something else. . .

The knitting group I go to is through our city library, and we meet in a “community use” room adjacent to one of the branch libraries.  At least two or three times a year we get people coming by saying they ‘re cleaning out their late Grandma’s house or their late Aunty’s house, and the deceased were knitters or crocheters, and then they start bringing in great boxes of yarn and donate it to us.  I usually end up cherry-picking the acrylic yarns because I knit hats for our local cancer center and it’s not only hypoallergenic but machine washable and usually machine dryable as well. Somehow, I’ve managed to accumulate a great gob (like about 20 skeins) of Moda Dea Dream yarn, which is no longer made (the company went out of business?).  I had some grape purple, which I’ve already used all but about a golf ball size ball of, as well as  multiple skeins each of black, “leaf” (green), and “lilac.”

I am a huge fan of the Must Love Yarn ladies, and am in the process of watching all their podcasts.   I participated in one of their “‘knit-alongs” (KAL) over Christmas and actually won a prize.  More on that later.

So, on their next to last podcast, the MLY ladies decided their next KAL was going to be a Fuzzy-Along. To participate, you have to knit something using a fuzzy yarn.  Moda Dea Dream is like angora fuzzy, ya’ll, and I have enough to make something big.  Like a shawl.   Do I go find a pattern that would work?  Of course not.  I’m writing one.

I want it to be cape-like.  In fact, I may even put a frog closure on it, which would totally work.  It’s a five-panel nearly circular shawl with a neck opening.  It has a cable down each of the sides, and the panels are separated by three stitches with yarn-overs on either side.  The neck opening and the front opening together would look like one of those old-fashioned keyhole locks.  Naturally, I’m calling it the Fuzzy Keyhole. It would also make a great stash buster project, because the stitch pattern I use in the body has an 8-row repeat (i.e., 2 cable crosses).  It has a 3-stitch stockinette border on the ends which curls to make a nice finished edge.

Unfortuately, this yarn does not have good stitch definition, and you can barely tell the cables are cables, but if you were to make it with, say, a DK weight smooth yarn and a fingering weight mohair yarn held together . . . .  or even just a simple worsted yarn . . . .

Anyway, I’ve got til April 15th to finish it.  I’m going to make a serious effort to do so, even though I’m still pretty much in “reading” mode.  I have started knitting again, though.  When I get in “reading mode,” I don’t want to go out and don’t care to be around people much, because all I’m really interested in doing is reading.  I really, really need to finish my reader’s shrug. . . but more than that, I want to finish the book I’m reading . . . Sigh.


See There? Knitting Is Good For You

Yeah, I’m kind of preaching to the choir here.  If you’re a knitter, you already know what she’s talking about.  What’s good is that this lady gives you the talking points, the whys.  If somebody gives you grief about your knitting, you can come back with some of her points.  It relieves stress, generates endorphins, relieves depression, helps you deal with anxiety, is calming, etc.

I want this one on a tote bag . . .

Friday Afternoon Mitt-Along

The rainbow mitts turned out almost just right.  Hard to believe both mitts came from the same skein of yarn, but they did.  I’ve sent them on their way to my BFF who has been wearing them to bed.  She’s an artist and loves bright colors, so she had no problem with all the different colors.

So, I tweaked the pattern based on that pair and I’m knitting up a second pair using a skein of Caron Simply Soft in a grey heather colorway and the pattern as tweaked.  I got one knitted except for the thumb and saw more tweaks I want to make in the pattern.  It was a right mitt.  I’m in the middle of knitting a second right mitt with the retweaked pattern, so I’ll frog that first one and use the yarn to knit the left mitt. When I get it how I like it, I’ll publish it on Knits From The Owl Underground.

I spent the morning working on the first right mitt and binge-watching back episodes of “Must Love Yarn’s” podcasts.  I’m up to episode 44, and their latest episode is 118, so I have some catching up to do.  But then, I have a lot of projects going and they’re fun and entertaining.  The two podcasters have great personalities and great chemistry.  Watching their podcasts and knitting is almost like being in a knitting group with them.

I may have mentioned that Michael’s and Joanne’s both had yarn sales and because of Must Love Yarn, I have fallen down the Joji Locatelli rabbit hole.  She’s a knitwear designer who lives in Argentina. I realized that if I could get 7 more skeins of that purple yarn, I’d have enough to make this.  They had exactly 7 skeins left.  See there?  Fate.

I’ve been noticing something interesting in the last four or five blog posts, that instead of transferring pictures from my camera, I’ve been transferring them from my phone.  I suspect lot of it is from now being on Instagram, but it started before that.  My phone has a pretty good camera on it, and I’ve had my digital camera for six or seven years, and the picture quality between the two is pretty much the same.  There’s this program called SideSync which allows me to link my phone and my PC through either Bluetooth or a USB cable, and I’ve been transferring photos that way from my phone.  (So does that make people who take pictures with their phones “phonetographers?”)

So, I’ve been going round and round with the VA again.  I ran out of a particular prescription on the 28th of December because my cardiologist increased the dosage, and the change didn’t make it to the VA pharmacy.  I put in for a refill in a timely manner, but I kept waiting and waiting for the refill and it didn’t come.  I thought that the fact they’re closed the same as other government offices over the holidays and that might have been the problem, but when I went on their website to track the refill, they said it wouldn’t be refilled until 1/24 because the prescription hadn’t been updated.  So I’ve been without it for two weeks now while I tracked down the problem and got everybody on the same page.  I’m supposed to be able to pick it up Monday.   Being without the medication for the past two weeks has been a bummer.

While all this was going on, I got a reminder from the VA to make an appointment with the optometrist to get my yearly eye exam.  When I called to make the appointment, I found out that we haven’t had an optometrist in our clinic here in town since last May, and that I’d have to go 125 miles to Amarillo for an eye exam, which would include having my pupils dilated so they can check my retinas.  (Dad with macular degeneration, aunt with optic nerve cancer. . .) I’d then get to drive 125 miles on the Interstate with dilated pupils through herds of trucks to get back home again.  They’re supposed to be trying to hire one.  I don’t think my glasses need to be changed, so I’m just going to wait until they get one.   When I get new glasses through the VA, they mail them to me, and if I have to have the frames adjusted or a lens replaced, I have to drive 250 miles round trip to Amarillo to get it done.  Our government in action.

While I was out getting yarn, I got a skein of black and a skein of white in fingering weight yarn.  Deathflake may strike again, y’all.

WIPs, Owies, and Deathflakes

I got this Samsung Galaxy “smart” phone over a year ago on which I can text, and I do actually text people on it, except about 80% of the time, if the phone is not in my purse and I’m out of the house hooting around, it’s on the charger back in the bedroom, and I’m elsewhere in the house and don’t hear the ping.  So, I have these texting conversations with friends that last, literally, for days, as in they text me, and I don’t hear the ping,  and don’t see it until the next day when I take my phone off the charger and it vibrates, and then I text them back. . . .  Hopefully now that I’m on Instagram ( the_owl_underground ) and I’m trying to post there at least once a day, I’ll have the phone by me instead of in the next room . . .

Earlier today, watching a “Must Love Yarn” podcast back episode, I got to thinking about my growth as a knitter.   Up until about 12 years ago, my knitting was pretty episodic and I didn’t do any for years and years.  Then I got back into handwork about 16 years ago and did some serious crochet (teeny thread with minuscule needles) there for a while, and then I got back into knitting again about 13 years ago, and have been pretty monogamous since then.  When I got back into it, everything I did was simple patterns, worsted weight or bulky yarn, large needles (US 9/5.5 mm to US 15/10 mm), just knitting and purling.  I did do baby socks-cum-booties on double pointed needles in tiny baby yarn, but otherwise, it was Walmart yarn on Walmart needles.  Then I learned continental style and I was heavy into Takumi bamboo needles.

. . . and you buy things like a storage ottoman to keep WIP yarn in . . . my xmas present from me to me . . . I did need the ottoman for ottomanning purposes, too . . .

But, I’ve noticed that as time goes on, the needles keep getting smaller and smaller, and the yarn keeps getting lighter and thinner.  I’m into metal needles now, ChiaoGoo Red Lace ones with the lace points, and I’m moving into the esoterica — lace knitting, two-color work, etc.  I’m thinking about starting some socks from an actual pattern (got the yarn, got the circular needle to do two at a time), I’ve bought a sweater pattern and come payday, I’ll buy the yarn for it.   It’ll be in cotton because I have a yarn impediment — I can’t tolerate wool against my skin. (Don’t mock the afflicted.) I get very itchy and sometimes I hit the jackpot and get a rash, too.   But the flatlands where I live is a big cotton growing region and, as I may have mentioned, my town is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, so climate-wise, cotton makes a whole lot more sense than wool here, anyway.  And there’s irony for you:  A knitter who’s hypersensitive to wool.

The Ilisidi shawl is coming along.  I’m really liking how it’s turning out.   Shawls, y’all.  There appears to be two schools of thought about wearing them.  I fall into what I call the “shawl as cape” school.   To me, a shawl  goes over your shoulders and wraps around  your upper body, so I like them with wide wings, long from neck to bum,  and worsted weight.   When I wear a shawl, it’s for warmth, and . . . oooh, shiny . . . shawl pins!  The other school of thought, which I’m calling the “shawl as lobster bib” school, puts the center of the shawl body over the chest,  brings the ends behind the neck and back around to the front and tucks them underneath.  This school of thought likes lace weight and fingering weight yarn,  lacy patterns, and a shorter distance from neck to waist or higher.

So, the owie.  I was making tea in my carafe, which takes 3 bags, and I had taken all the tea bags out of their paper envelopes.  And, like I always do, I grabbed up all the little envelopes and torn off bits into my left hand to throw them away, and a pointy corner of one of the foil-lined envelopes poked up under one of my fingernails clear into the quick and drew blood!   Today’s Trivia Tidbit:  The term “quick” referring to fingernails is a hold-over usage of the word from the 1500’s when it also meant “alive, living” (as in “the quick and the dead” — yeah, that!)* The “quick” is the part of your fingernail that’s alive, and hurts when you poke it with the sharp corner of a foil packet, and bleeds like a stuck pig for half an hour because stupid clopidogrel, because stents . . .  argh!.  And, of course, you know which finger it was . . . . that politically incorrect finger in the middle of my left hand that I use to pinch each stitch against the needle to hold it when I knit it . . .

So, I just couldn’t stand it.  I’ve been giggling about it for days.  Now I’ve gotten the ribbing done on a hemmed toboggan in black that is going to have Deathflakes on it in white.  So hysterical.  I’ve got about three rows to go before I can start the colorwork part.  The hem on this toboggan is going to be really deep, because knitting worsted, US 6/4 mm needles, and a 30 stitch x 30 row motif, with only about 2-3 inches left to knit before time to decrease for the top of the hat, but Deathflakes, y’all!  And Deathflake mittens!  I’d have to buy yarn for the mittens because I don’t have any fingering yarn, but I have the Chiaogoo sock set needles.  I knitted Xmas balls with them and they are lovely needles.

Dear friends had mom and me to Xmas dinner at their house this year, and they gifted me with a tin of this tea.  I’m having some now.  It comes in the gauze cloth sachets, kept in an airtight tin (no paper envelopes to stick up under my fingernails!).  It has cinnamon and cloves in it, too, which are two of my favorite spices.  We’ll see how my tum handles the orange peel. (I’m allergic to “regular” oranges, Citrus × sinensis, but not other citrus fruits.)  Maybe this won’t bother me too much, because cinnamon and cloves!  (I gifted them a pair of hand-knit xmas balls and gave him a couple of bags of a tea I discovered,  Stash’s “Breakfast in Paris.” which has lavender and vanilla in black tea.)  Nums.

I have this one task to do, and I’m done adulting for the day, and then I’m going to go back to my knitting nook and work on Deathflake.   BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!

*Another usage is "quicken" which refers to the point in a pregnancy when the mom first feels the baby moving -- the baby has "quickened."  However, that usage has declined just in the last 30-40 years.