June 27, 2015

Working on the chain gang

Knitting needle threaded through crochet chains
I have finished the knitting on Tulpenkatz, aka Giant Lace Thing.  Which is excellent!  Slightly less positive: I still need to work the crocheted edging.  Nothing wrong with crochet except that I'm bad at it.  I slip a few stitches off at a time, crochet a chain, slip off more stitches, chain, and repeat until my arm falls off.

In-progress edging

R) little bit I've accomplished, L) what's left to do
This is going to take a while.  The funny pink thing is my inline crochet hook.  I inherited it from a relative and I love it for chaining with laceweight.  A regular hook kept wanting to split my yarn.



June 22, 2015

Slip-sliding symptoms

When you're chronically ill you get used to a lot.  Pain and disability can sneak up on you, and the more things that go wrong the less energy and desire you have to deal with them all.  One of my best coping mechanisms is to distract myself, which is great until I realize I've managed to not consciously register a whole host of problems.  Generally I keep my own counsel about these things, but I guess that's what blogs are for?

Recently I've realized how many symptoms I have, and how many minor issues would be concerning to someone else.  Like fungus.  This might seem gross, but it's unfortunately common in immunocompromised people.  So I drink my yucky anti fungal every night, apply cream between my fingers, and hope it goes away in another couple weeks.

More bothersome is that I am losing sight of my ankles.  I wouldn't mind for aesthetic reasons, I have bigger fish to fry.  But the swollen tissue around my achilles tendons makes walking and standing stiff and painful.  My feet always have this cold burning pain sensation and much of the time my toes feel half frozen.  Even in summer.  What's worse though is when they feel warm--then they swell with even more blood and feel hot and congested.  Elevating my legs helps, as does physically cooling them down.  Suddenly I love having tile floors.

The minutiae of being chronic are petty and irritating, like a tiny sliver under the skin.  Each new problem adds one more task to my list, as I try and fail to maintain the status quo.  But on I persist.  Maybe I'm a splinter under life's skin.  That would hold a pleasant irony.

May 25, 2015

What I've Been Thinking About (God talk)

I made myself some tasty coffee, the kind my grandma would hate (almost syrupy-thick and black, sweetened with sugar, brewed in a Moka pot), and I felt like catching up.  I haven't written for a while because fatigue has been kicking my ass.  I've taken a couple trips out of town this spring, but day-to-day it's taking care of this sick body, passing time, and not much else.  Being chronically ill takes a stupid amount of time and energy.

The last year or so I've been thinking about God and religion.  I have almost no direct experience with religions other than Christianity, so that's the stake around which my thoughts graze.  I do believe in God and Jesus, and I'm fully aware that this is a choice I've made and others have made different choices.  I've had some bad experiences with churches and people, but since that's not enough reason for me to write off people I also decided not to write off organized religion.  However, getting to church is very difficult for me, as is sitting and paying attention for an hour plus, much less both in one morning.  So I haven't been doing that.

Uh oh, now the caffeine's really kicking in and I'm jittery.

Illness does this interesting thing when it steals your energy: it forces you to distill life down to what's essential.  Part of this simplification means that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about hypotheticals.  If God wanted me to spend my days doing and thinking about all kinds of God-stuff, I'd be not sick and actually have the energy for that (or so goes my reasoning).  Instead I think about my basic needs and ways to cope with pain, fatigue, frustration and loneliness.  But most of what I read about spiritual life focuses on spending so much time thinking about God and what God wants, or what we think God wants, or what we think God might want us to want.  I do almost none of that.  BUT, since everybody else is focused on God as micromanager, I don't get messages of "hey, what you're doing is different but I still think it's just fine."  I'd maybe worry about this more except I don't have energy for that.  So shrug.

I do like angry Jesus, though.  Having seen things from the "widows and orphans" side, I like the Jesus who throws tables over in the temple or eats sabbath bread while giving a "what are you gonna do about it?" look.  At least that's how I imagine him.  He's also the guy who got nailed to a beam and left on a hill, and I can related to that kind of pain and loneliness.

Sometimes I play a mental game where I calculate the total amount of pain in various scenarios.  You take Value of pain (V) x Length of pain (L) = Total pain (T).  Being eaten by a bear would be hideously painful but short, so might actually be preferable to being eaten by cancer over the course of years.  Short illness also doesn't steal parts of who you are the way chronic illness does.  But acute pain has the disadvantage that you're not able to adjust to the pain, unlike chronic pain.  Over the years vast tracts of real estate in my brain have switched from thinking to not thinking about pain.  It has the benefit of keeping me alive and sane, but I'm also dumber than I used to be.  Anyway, that's what I think about during Game of Thrones fight scenes.

I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I'll wrap up anyway.  I try to be the best person I can and listen to that voice that tells me yea or nay (Jiminy Cricket, God, or prefrontal cortex, I don't know).  Part of what makes us human is questioning our thoughts and actions.  If life is building to a final exam I just hope that my best is good enough to pass.

March 7, 2015

Riding Life's Rollercoaster

The last month has been interesting.  I've been attending the UW's Mini Med School, which I really enjoy.  It's two hours of public health-related lectures each Tuesday evening.  I won the gross anatomy lottery this year so was able to visit a gross anatomy lab.  I'm not able to distill that experience into words, though.  It was amazing.  It can be painful to revisit something I'm deeply interested in but completely able to pursue, however.

With the positives also come the negatives.  My energy has been lower this week and I think the recent decrease in fatigue is over.  My body wants to be awake and energetic only at night, which is inconvenient.  And making and keeping friends is always difficult.  I also lost a group of close online friends due to life's inevitable changes.

But I'm still here, and I'm pushing ahead on the Niebling lace project.  I've almost reached row 200 out of 250.  It should be a little faster from here on, the pattern repeats are shorter thus easier to memorize.

It this seems scattered, well it is.  Communication is difficult lately.

February 15, 2015

Ssk-free I-cord edging

I unvented a slightly easier way to apply I-cord edging.  You may read the description and think: pshaw, that's simple, I could have thought of it myself!  But you didn't, I did ;)  I may sound cocky but this is my blog and I get to revel in my own cleverness.

Without further ado the how-to:

1) Cast on your I-cord.  I used 4 stitches to make a more substantial edging but 3 sts is typical.

2) Ready the left side of the piece to be bound off (PtbBo).  This is where we depart from convention and aim for genius.

If PtbBo is worked in garter st, finish with a right side row.  Otherwise the stitches present themselves as purls and create unsightly bumps along your finished I-cord.

I-cord on left in blue, PtbBo on right in gray

3) Commence I-cording by slipping the left-most PtbBo st onto the right side of your I-cord needle.



4) Knit together the first two sts (I-cord and PtbBo).  Then knit the remaining I-cord sts as usual.



5) Slide the I-cord back to the right side of your needle (or slip the sts to the right needle if not using dpns).



Repeat steps 3-5 until you have completely bound off PtbBo.

My swatch half bound off with I-cord

So yes, knitting I-cord is still tedious.  But you've eliminated slip, slip, knit in favor of k2tog which always counts as a win in my book.  Happy knitting!

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