Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back: I twanged my back yesterday, getting out of the car in a tight parking space where I couldn't open the door all the way. I'm looking forward to my therapy session this afternoon.

It was gorgeous on the bluff yesterday, cloudy and still in the morning, clear and windy in the afternoon. There were a few hundred juvenile elephant seals relaxing on the beach, and more hundreds of pelicans migrating south. The 500-mile drive didn't bother me, or the 6-hour shift on my feet; the only trouble I had was getting out of my car once I got home.

The grafting of cuff-to-foot went well, for a first attempt. I pulled the stitches a little too tightly, so the line of grafting appears as a crease on the sock. I'll try to loosen up those stitches, before sewing up the back seam. I'm on the second strip of bacon above the egg, which means I should finish the sock today.

Then, I"ll make another like it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The doc is very pleased with the progress I'm making. He apparently believes in his technique-- I caught him napping on one of the stretching tables on his lunch hour.

I finished the intarsia egg, and am currently prepping it for grafting. Lucy Neatby teaches a grafting technique that involves knitting several rows in waste yarn, beyond the area to be grafted. Instead of having to kitchener loose, live stitches, and deal with the risk of dropping them or stitching them wrong, you have the stitches held in place by an intact piece of fabric. It's easy to see where they are, and how they should be stitched.

Onward and upward.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I finished the super-bulky scarf last night (one day, start to finish), and went back to work on the intarsia egg today.

I spent most of the day watching TV, both with and without knitting. I'm beginning to chafe under the doc's order to take it easy for two weeks. Since I had been laid up for three weeks before seeing the doc in the first place, I'm itching for an adventure. An air-conditioned adventure in a comfortable position.

There are a few people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude that transcends all possibility of future estrangement. I am thankful to Jim Rounseville for giving me the abandoned dog he found on his porch, who grew up to be the sweetest dog in the world, and the canine love of my life. That'd be Bonnie, if any of you remember her. I am thankful to Duane Smith for putting me through nursing school and helping to raise my daughter, Anka. I am thankful to Tom Stern for taking care of me, for loving me and trusting me, and generally being the best husband in the whole wide world. I am also thankful to Dan Brogan for being like a big brother to me in years past, and for turning me on to "The Simpsons." I'm not so thankful to him for turning me on to "Love and Marriage," which was funny at times but mostly vile. Thanks also, in current times, to Craig Miller for introducing me to "Big Bang Theory," which was certainly written about Tom and his college buddies, and to Marv Wolfman for introducing me to "Middleman."

Not all of these relationships are current-- I cut off contact with Rounseville more than 10 years ago, because he was a scheming louse. I divorced Duane, but we're still friends. Tom is sitting next to me as I type; if I ever leave him, have me committed for psychiatric care. Dan passed on about 12 years ago. Craig and Marv are still friends, of each other and of the Sterns.

Back to my knitting.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I got tired of working the intarsia egg, so I turned to my usual antidote for fussy knitting-- a scarf out of super-bulky yarn. This yarn I had already tried on size 13 needles, and had it come out too thick and stiff, so I cast on on size 17s. After knitting several inches, I decided it was turning out too wide, and I'd run out of yarn before it was long enough, so I frogged it and cast on again with 2/3 the stitches. The whole scarf should only take a day or two, after which I can go back to the breakfast socks.

I"m getting tired of drinking a gallon of water/day, and I'm only on the third day. I've lost six pounds, though. I know that's too fast, but I have so far to go, I can't help but be happy about it.

The nutritionist who works with the back doc sat me down yesterday, and gave me a good talking-to. Apparently, my blood work didn't please him. I'm chronically hyperglycemic, low in iron and vitamin D, low in thyroid, and display multiple markers of stress and inflammation. He's going to give me diet and supplementation recommendations next week.

I'm real sorry I won't have time to go to Oregon for the next couple of months. Mostly, I want my circular needles back.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I woke up sore as could be, after yesterday's therapy session. My usual ibuprofen is forbidden on this regimen, so I'm glad that moving around and applying ice took care of most of the pain.

I tried to knit the fried egg in the round, but quickly realized (two rows) that it wasn't going to work. I cast on the appropriate number of stitches on straight needles. I'll knit the egg flat, and graft it onto the sock foot when it's done. It's lucky that I audited that class with Lucy Neatby in August; I think I can manage the kitchener stitch.

Hmm... I wonder whether I should do the yolk in duplicate stitch, instead of intarsia?


Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's only Thursday? I'm ahead of myself.

Finished the strip of bacon yesterday, and immediately cast on for a new pair of socks. This one will be breakfast-- bacon and eggs on a red background. I'm already up to the second strip of bacon on the first sock. It'll use up several kinds of yarn, of none of which I have enough for a whole pair of socks.

Had my first therapy session today-- half an hour of stretching on a machine, followed by ice, heat, and more ice. It was mildly uncomfortable, but nothing I can't handle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I survived yesterday without much difficulty. My errand to Beverly Hills turned out to be unnecessary, and my appointment in West LA was scheduled for today, leaving only a trip to Riverside to pick up the dogs.

Several pillars of smoke were visible in both directions; the onset of Santa Ana winds brings out the worst in arsonists.

I saw the back doc today. My MRI was worse than expected. The good news on that front is that he accepted me for a course of therapy. I should be much better by the time it's finished, in mid-December.

The strip of bacon I'm knitting is almost finished. All I have left to do is to cast off and weave in the ends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I got home last night from the coolest perk of any job, anywhere-- a swim party at the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle. I volunteer at the elephant seal rookery because I love it, but I sure don't mind also being included in the swim party! We made a two-day trip of it, my husband and I and two of our best friends.

On the way up, we had lunch at one of our favorite places in the universe, the Palace Cafe in Santa Barbara. If you're ever in Santa Barbara, and you like New Orleans-style food at all, be sure to go there. It has the best Cajun/Creole food west of the Rockies, by all accounts.

The water in the Neptune Pool was cold, as always. We were afraid that the weather might be too cool, as well, but the cloud cover hugged the shoreline. The castle was well above the clouds; the sky couldn't have been bluer. We stayed in the water until sunset, so we didn't have a chance to warm up until the next day. After the swim party and a modest dinner (mustn't feast twice in one day), we watched the Emmy Awards in our rooms. That was the only time I had for knitting on that trip-- the bacon slice is now past the half-way mark.

Breakfast was at the Creekside-- Inn? Cafe? I don't remember, but it's a great place to breakfast in Cambria.

From there, we went to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It's having some troubles; they had to move out a lot of their mammals in order to upgrade their habitats. We may increase our donation this year, in order to facilitate the return of the lemurs and red pandas.

Today looks like it might be another busy one-- or not. If I have to see the back doc today, it will be very difficult to also pick up the dogs in Riverside. If the doc doesn't want to see me until tomorrow or the next day, it'll be easy-peasy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tom and I drove out to Riverside today to have lunch with an old friend. He looks well, in spite of having been out of work this last year. We went to an old favorite restaurant-- I lived in or near Riverside for 12 years in the '80s and '90s-- which was as good as it ever was, in spite of at least two changes of ownership. If you're out there, it's Zacatecas, on University Ave.

It was too hot to water the yard when we got home, even though it was late enough to make it legal to walk around with a hose. We won't be home on legal sprinkler day, so I have to water by hand. I did the front yard after sunset, and will do the back yard at dawn tomorrow.

After watering, I knit a few more rows on the strip of bacon. It's looking decidedly baconish. I'll be too busy to knit or blog for the next couple of days. I figure it'll take 3-4 days beyond that to complete.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It was a busy, busy day, with very little knitting. I slept in, started two loads of laundry, got my blood drawn (yes, my back doctor wants blood work before he starts working on my back), picked up Sharon at her house, went to Starbucks (fasting for blood work meant I had been neither fed nor caffeinated), and that was all by 10 am.

Then we fought our way through the wilds of downtown LA and past, to Torrance, where a friend-of-a-friend had some yarn for sale. She showed us the tables of yarn, announced that she was asking $1/skein, and suggested we put our selections in some plastic bins on the other side of the room. I started tossing skeins into the bin immediately; she had some good stuff there. I took all the 100% mohair, it being a weakness of mine, and all the mohair blends that weren't absolutely hideous. Then I started on the wool, letting up enough that Sharon had a chance. I also claimed some cotton blends, and a few novelty yarns, thinking that I could always toss off a few scarves for the annual Friends of the Elephant Seal fundraising auction. I ended up spending $50 for three grocery bags full of mostly natural fibers; several hundred dollars worth, at retail.

After lunch with Sharon at Polka ( a Polish restaurant in Eagle Rock which I can't recommend highly enough-- it has been a favorite for years), I swung down to the other end of town, and searched for the address where I was to have an MRI (which is a perfectly normal thing to do before starting a round of back therapy). I don't go to Beverly Hills often, not voluntarily, so I had no idea how long to allow for the drive. I miscalculated and arrived half an hour late. The MRI itself was the most relaxing part of the day; I got to sit in one place and watch The History Channel. I got to fight hideous traffic on the way home, throw together a quick dinner, finish the last load of laundry, and finally, finally got to sit down and knit by 9 pm.

That's a pretty big day, for someone who is retired, and mostly doesn't leave the house except for grocery shopping. The best part? As I was driving most of the day, and my Honda Civic fits me like it was custom made, I had less back pain than I've had in weeks.

In my next life, I'm going to be a long-haul truck driver. Who knits.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I wasn't sure at first, but the air conditioning seems, indeed, to be fixed. Sorry to obsess on it, but, unless you live in a desert, you have no idea how important air conditioning can be.

Have started to knit the strip of bacon. It's coming along nicely.

Consulted with a back specialist today. It looks like fixing my back is going to be a full-time job for a while.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The shawl is finished. It's more like a cape, actually, or a blanket. As a semi-circle with a 5 foot radius, it reaches the ground on all sides when worn. It looks stunning. I love it.

The air conditioning is finally fixed; hurray for our side!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm almost done with the penultimate wedge. I'd make the wild claim that I'll finish tomorrow, except that I'm not sure I'll be knitting long days today and tomorrow. I've been doing a lot of sitting and knitting over the last couple of weeks; my body is beginning to crave more activity.

My body is also beginning to crave more air conditioning. The technician's first attempt was an epic fail; the AC blew the circuit breakers within five minutes of the time he left. I tried to schedule him to come back and fix it. Instead of sending the tech back to fix the thing, the company sent two invoices via email for the first visit, which I had already paid. I phoned again today. They returned my call a couple of hours later, and scheduled a return visit for tomorrow.

That'll make five days without AC, and the weather is warming back up again. I'd really rather live in a place where the climate is endurable without the use of high tech, but that isn't an option until Tom can afford to retire.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Because there is a merciful God, the weather broke yesterday. The forecaster described the phenomenon as a "cold front," but "less hot front" would be a more accurate description. In any case, the weather yesterday was unseasonably pleasant.

I spent most of the day with Tom's family, eating a royal feast at The Smokehouse, in Burbank, or Glendale, or some such place. I highly recommend the Sunday brunch there, if you have a stern sense of self-control. I limited myself to two plates. It was a difficult task, as two plates meant I left the vast majority of the delicacies unsampled, but I didn't want to look like a glutton in front of Tom's relatives. I will say the caviar was quite nice, and the restaurant has to be losing money on the deal.

I did spend part of the day knitting, after spending another part of the day un-knitting. I hadn't so much finished the previous section as run out of yarn a few rows short of my intended end. After joining in the next color, I decided I didn't care for the slipshod color change, and pulled out most of the previous day's work. I'll re-knit using a slightly different ratio, for the sake of a neat join. This is the price of knitting by ear.

I thought about using the expression, "Knitting by the seat of my pants," but the visual conjured by that expression is just as ludicrous, and more unsavory, than that conjured by the expression, "Knitting by ear."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a weekend. No air conditioning. It failed on a Friday afternoon, so there's no hope of getting it fixed before Monday. I live in the San Fernando Valley, which is one of the hotter suburbs of LA. The heat here kills people, same as blizzards do in Minnesota. I'm particularly sensitive to heat. I'm not happy.

I have, however, completed a couple more wedges on the giant shawl; the end is within sight. A friend expressed sympathy that I'm knitting a blanket-sized project in the heat, but it's easy. I don't sit up straight when I knit; I lounge on my left side like a Roman senator. The bulk of the project is spread out on an end table to my left. I twiddle with the leading edge, and don't even have to lift the completed part except to change yarns when I finish a region. It's not bad hot-weather knitting, at all.

I dropped by the LYS Friday, shortly before the AC failed. The owners were there, but the yarn wasn't. They had been burglarized the previous weekend. The yarn hadn't been stolen, but it got messed up enough that they had to send it out to be cleaned. They hadn't been, apparently, the main target of the burglary; they are sandwiched between an office with weak locks and poor security on one side, and a pharmacy on the other. What a world. I hadn't been in the market for yarn, anyway. I haven't made a significant dent in the yarn I bought at the Summit. Since I managed to leave my notions-bag in Oregon, last trip, I bought some darning needles, sock needles, and a small crochet hook, so I don't have to be completely sock-free until I go back to Oregon next month.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Funny, I don't feel like a bomb-throwing extremist. I'm a respectable middle-aged woman, a retired nurse, who would just like to have as reliable a health-care system in this country as the People's Republic of Canada has in theirs. Judging from the response to Mr. President's speech last night, this puts me WAY out of the mainstream.

No news on the knitting front. I finished the variegated wedge of the giant shawl yesterday, tweaked my back worse, and started the penultimate beige wedge.

I'm currently doing the mental work on designing a scarf that looks like a piece of bacon. I bought a skein of Holiday Yarns's Bacon colorway at the Sock Summit, and am not inclined to knit any more socks this week. Not that I've giving up on socks, but I left my sock needles in Oregon. Given how much money I spent in the marketplace at the Summit, I'm not inclined to buy duplicates of things I already own.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I tweaked my back this morning, but it doesn't matter. My only plans today were to sit and knit, which I can easily do, tweaked back or no. Well, my to-do list says I was going to reorganize my kitchen cabinets, but, let's be honest; that was never going to happen.

I finished the variegated wedge on the giant shawl I'm making, putting me past the halfway point. I spread it out, in order to admire it; it's already bigger than a typical throw. I'm aiming for a little more than a half-circle. If I had enough yarn to make it a full circle, it would be plenty big enough for a king-sized bedspread. It might be more accurate to call it a cape than a shawl.

I'm madly in love with it, even though it's done in five shades of brown, and I don't wear earth tones.

By the time I finish it, I'll have Tom show me how to post pictures.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's been almost three years since I've posted. It's a good thing I have no followers, of they'd have been disappointed with my absence.

I'm resuming my blog because I'm a half-step out of sync with most of my actual friends; they have no interest in the things that involve most of my days. Maybe, if I cast this out on the waters, someone else will notice, and respond.

I'm currently knitting a gigantic shawl, one totally inappropriate for wear in sunny SoCal. It's a 100% wool, and will measure 5' x 10' when it's finished. It's done in wedges of various shades of brown, in garter stitch, with short-row shaping to make it come out to slightly more than half a circle. The design came to me during a sleepless night at Sock Summit.

I'm currently working on the center wedge, which will be in the middle of my back when it's being worn. I'm especially happy with it, because I had decided to add it when I had already budgeted all the wool I had for the project. I had to dive deeply into my stash to find more brown wool. I came up with some Colinette Cadenza, in the Copper Beech colorway. Since that's a sportweight, and the rest of the shawl is in Aran-to-bulky, I'm holding it double, and reveling in the colors as they unfold.

I never would have known I could have so much fun, working garter stitch in brown wool.