Monday, 22 April, 2024

By The Fibreside

Knitting and spinning on the Sunshine Coast of BC

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Knitting

Carrots

For the last week, it’s been all blanket, all the time, and on top of the crazy diet changes and the whole right side of my upper back deciding to completely freak out earlier this week, I’ve been feeling worn down about pretty much everything. It’s pretty hard to get motivated when all these things seem stacked against you. It’s a good thing I’m a pretty old hand at it. Today marks the last day of National Pain Awareness Week, which seems a good time to talk briefly about pain. I have chronic pain. I’ve had a headache of varying degrees for well over half my life now, and after the first year of popping pain killers (and working up a tolerance to them in the process), I’ve been dealing with it mostly through non-chemical means. The hip thing is only the latest in a long line of musculoskeletal issues that I get, attempt to treat, make some progress on, and then deal with going forward. Even with the hip thing, I’m actually better off now than I was ten years ago, when a day of typing at my job was almost enough to keep my hands from doing anything else for the rest of the day. It’s not an easy thing, chronic pain, especially because it’s invisible. It’s hard to explain to people, hard for someone without a chronic problem to contextualize. There’s the spoon theory, which helps illustrate the decisions someone with chronic pain and illness must make every day. As scholars and doctors start to look at pain more, they have also talked about alternate pain scales. For someone like me, who unconsciously ignores any pain below about a 5 on the 10-scale, an alternate scale might be more useful.

I turned 36 this year, which means that I’ve been dealing with pain for just over two decades. That’s a long time. Long enough that I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. And for times like now, when I’ve changed up my eating habits and am craving the things I really (REALLY) can’t have, and the pain is not ignorable, and I have a relatively simple but still time-consuming project on a deadline, it’s all about the carrots. It’s those things to look forward to, that keep you moving one step at a time forward, because there’s no other direction to go, and stopping – while it might be nice – is just not an option. One of the big carrots for me this week was the long weekend and my week off. I made it to Friday, made it through Friday, and even though I woke up at 6 am this morning (yes, even with my alarm not on), it was lovely because I could just turn over and go back to sleep (it’s immaterial that I didn’t seem to be able to – I had a lie-in instead until just after 7, and it was glorious).

The Op Art blanket, for all that it’s easy and I like the pattern and the yarn, has reached that point that I knew it would, where I just want it over with. Thankfully, I decided to knit from the outside in, so I’ve managed to avoid shades of The Never-Ending Afghan of Doom. At least I know myself that well. But I’ve still been thinking about carrots, just so that I keep working on it, and I have a few.

Gradient-dyed yarn from the Wacky Windmill.
Gradient-dyed yarn from the Wacky Windmill.

I’ve been carrying this ball of yarn around in the bag with the blanket since the weekend. It’s a skein of Blissful Sovk (75% SW BFL/20% silk/10% cashmere) from The Wacky Windmill, which I picked up this summer at Fibre Week. The colourway is called KaPow!, but it reminds me more of a nebula than a comic book. You’ll notice that it’s cleverly dyed so that each section seems to be about the same width in the ball, which of course means that the yardage in each colour increases, making it perfect for a triangular shawl. It’s been calling to me for over a month, and it’s just the kind of carrot I need right now to get through the blanket. I just need to find an appropriate pattern. Maybe something outer-spacey…

Legwarmer supplies.
Legwarmer supplies.

On top of that, I’d mentioned to Mike last week that if I wanted to keep wearing skirts this winter, I was going to need some leg warmers for the to- and from-the-car periods (and maybe inside – I’m not discounting that either), and maybe I could pick up yarn at Pam’s as part of his birthday present to me. So I sat down over lunch today to find a pattern, and so many things just lined up that it was fate. The first pattern that came up in my Ravelry search was Nozky from Knitty First Fall 2013, a lovely over-the-knee leg warmer with a nice subtle lace pattern on the sides. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for! Okay, my above-the-knee measurement is a little larger than the XXL (darn that left-over fencing muscle anyway; it makes all kinds of problems for pants and other leg garments), but I figure it’ll be pretty easy to modify. Then I thought, ‘What do I have in my stash that’s DK weight?’ So in I went to my Ravelry stash listing, and while I didn’t have enough of any one colour, wouldn’t you know but I had two that could coordinate! I have two balls of Knit Picks Gloss DK that was part of one of my tangle-presents from a dear friend in a dark purple, and then two skeins of London 2012 souvenir yarn, The Natural Dye Studio Dazzle BFL DK, in lighter shades of lavender. Dark for the cuffs top and bottom, and light for the body! Perfect! And then I thought, well, best to do them two at a time, even though I’ll have to wrangle two balls of yarn, and then it hit me that I can test out Dad’s new prototype of a double-yarn-top! Kismet, I tell you. Just kismet. When I’m done the blanket.

Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness Monster

I also decided it’s time to make a new Nessy. The Loch Ness Monster pattern by Hansi Singh was the reason I bought the Amigurumi Knits book way back whenever that was, and I’d intended to make my nephew one as a toy even before he was born. Alas, that was not the project to learn kitchener stitch on, nor was it a good idea to use DK weight acrylic. I’ve been wanting to have another go at it now that I’m a little better at kitchener, so when I was out at Pam’s today buying my birthday present from Mike, I decided he should get me yarn for a Nessy. It’s Cascade 220 in green and yellow-green, and that’s also waiting for me when I’m done the blanket.

Op Art as of 9:30 this morning.
Op Art as of 9:30 this morning.

The blanket. I’ve been working on it all week. Last night, I reached the half-way point when it came to stitches, having reduced from 552 down 50 per cent. That was when I started on the last ball of the white yarn that I’d purchased, and hoped that I had enough. This evening, curiousity got the better of me (because if I need another ball of white, I want to go out and get it tomorrow), and I made a spreadsheet to calculate percentages and stitch counts. It turns out that by the time I reduced the stitch count by half, I’d actually knit over 80 per cent of the blanket. … Well, count me boggled. Today I’ve been piecing my day out in hours. I set the timer, and then work on the blanket for an hour. When the timer goes off, I get up and do something else, just to keep moving around, and also to get other things done. I probably have time for one more hour tonight before I get too tired, but I’ve already gone down to a smaller circular needle, and hey, over 80 per cent done. Probably closer to 90 now. Which means that even with laundry and Master Spinner homework plans and groceries and house stuff planned for tomorrow. I stand a good chance of getting it finished, if not tomorrow, then certainly Monday. And those carrots? I just can’t wait. The excitement about them breaks through the overwhelming nature of the week, and that is, naturally, the point of having a carrot in the first place.

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