This Feels GOOD!

I finished this a couple of days ago, and I’m still grinning about it! Actually, the farther I get from having done it, the more I love the project! 🙂 And to think… it only took me a couple of my “stuck on the sofa” days AND it was one of my goals for 2010! It’s so nice to have it done after it languished for so long in my UFO pile…

Yup! I’m done with my little petit point sampler, and I’m madly in love with it. 🙂 What you are seeing in this picture is smaller than a credit card – frame and all – and it’s my first finished miniature needlework, not to mention, I framed it myself.  Any wonder I’m grinning?

There are a total of 4536 stitches in this project. The rest of the details are in last week’s post from when I started working on it again. If you would like to see the process I used to frame this piece, I wrote a tutorial for it and have it posted on the blog HERE or you can access it through a link on the sidebar.

Oh, and it even got the official “Hitty Seal of Approval.” The girls are all a flutter about wanting to work on Friendship Cabin again now. 🙂


I’ve Been Wondering…

It happened again tonight, and I have to say that it’s starting to bother me a bit. I think I’m a reasonably good amateur photographer.  It’s something I enjoy doing, and I work hard to get good photos – at least when I’m not just grabbing quick snapshots that don’t matter that much. I do consider photography an art, and it’s something to be learned, honed, and practiced – and continually improved.

So why is it that when people look at my very best pictures, they inevitably say (with envy dripping off their words), “You must have a really good camera!”

I’m SO tempted at times to say, “Yeh, I do. It’s a magical camera. I point it in the general direction of something vaguely interesting, and it automatically composes and frames the shot, removes background clutter, levels the horizon, assesses the lighting, adjusts the settings, then at the optimal moment, snaps a breathtaking shot for me to show around.”

I can just see them telling Rembrandt that he must have a really good paintbrush… or their mechanic that he must have a really good wrench… or their surgeon that he must have a really good scalpel… or their favorite author that she must have a really good computer…

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 7:10 am  Comments (2)  
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A Prescription I Can Live With!

Today was my third appointment at the sports medicine center, follow up care for the hematoma I got in Chicago last month. After the doctor looked it over carefully, poking and prodding a bit, he shook his head and told me that I really did it up right – very impressive injury, then asked again how I did it. Looking at my chart, he answered the question himself before I had a chance, mumbling about concrete. As silly as I feel for having banged myself up so badly, I’m still glad to know I’m not imagining things. Of course, he also told me today that in the first 24 hours, he could have drained it. That answers my question about how athletes keep from being laid up for weeks on end with things like this…

Anyway, he told me I still shouldn’t stand or sit long, as long as it causes swelling, and under no circumstances am I allowed to bump or impact the area (like I did it on purpose in the first place?). And he told me that a year from now, I’ll probably still have a small “nubbin” in the area, indicating something about the size of a nickel with his fingers, which tells me that this is going to continue to disintegrate very slowly. Then he said I should start walking. That’s going to be some slow going because I’ve lost a lot of muscle strength, especially in my left leg, but at least I can actually do it without pain. 🙂 The BEST thing he told me is that although I’m not to just sit in a chair, spinning is the perfect exercise! Now how cool is that when my doctor actually prescribes quality time with my wheel? Other than that, I’ve been officially released on my own recognizance, barring something wacky happening, so there won’t be anymore trips to the doctor. Whereas I’m not going to miss the trips into the city, my hubby has been going along and buying me a UDF sundae each time. That I AM going to miss!

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sanity Break

So, I cast off the last main piece of my East Meets West insanity project last night, and I knew instantly that I couldn’t face starting the finishing work on it without taking a little bit of a break. Took me all of 12 seconds to figure out what I wanted to do, and I even knew where it was. Of course, the fact that it was laying out, not put away after the trip I foolishly dragged it on in June in case I was bored in Alaska had nothing to do with my desire to work on it, I’m quite sure… 😉

Anyway, what I’m doing is another of my annual goals, and it’s going a lot faster and with much less of a headache than I was getting from that bag I’ve been knitting for the past two weeks. This is where I started – well, almost – tonight. I did forget to photograph it before I worked in two very small areas of color, but it wasn’t THAT many stitches, so I figure this counts.

At 40 stitches per inch (Yes, that’s 1600 per square inch.), it’s making the size 1.5 knitting needles I’ve been using for the previous fortnight look like tree trunks! I’m really enjoying the change, though, and it’s going rather quickly. My biggest problem is going to be figuring out how to frame it worthy of the work. This is totally new territory for me, and I don’t want it to look second rate!

Tech info: This is The Boating Sampler designed by Nancy Sturgeon for Threads Through Time. I couldn’t say if it’s still available, and I’m not even sure where I bought it, as I started this about 4 years ago. I’m not even sure it was new to me then, to be quite honest! It’s a perfectly satisfactory little kit, and I’d not hesitate to buy another from the same company. Eventually this will hang in Friendship Cabin, the future Hitty habitat here. They are ever so fond of sailing related items… and I’m not good at saying “no” to them. 😉 Though this is perfectly suitable for 1:12 scale and Hitty is about 1:9, I’m taking advantage of the fact that pictures come in a very wide range of sizes. It would make a seriously nifty inset on a trinket box for me, too, but I’m not willing to deal with a Hitty uprising, so they will get to keep the finished project. 🙂

East is East

So I’m going to serialize this post. Otherwise, it would be so long that no one would sit and read it clear through, and besides, I simply can’t sit at the computer very long at one time… still… 😦 At 4 weeks, 4 hours, and 22 minutes since impact, I’m still relegated to the sofa for most of the day. Bad thing is looking at and thinking about all the zillions of things I can’t do. Good thing is that whereas all the travel this year had me of the opinion that I’d never make my 100 book reading goal this year, now it looks like a shoo-in with me going through books almost faster than the library can supply them to me – at least one a day most of the time!

Despite the positives of being sofa-bound with just my books and knitting, about two weeks ago as I was finishing a pair of socks (more later on that…), I was feeling seriously sorry for myself. Now the fact is that I have several annual goals I could easily work on even as Princess Couch Potato, but I was chafing at having to “be good,” I’d just finished a goal, and my best friend kept chattering about her latest love affair, which involved her first Fairisle knitting. I haven’t done any stranded knitting since my clock, and I about a dozen Fairisle projects backed up here, complete with yarn. I honestly wasn’t having a very good day (complete with self-pity crying fit), so when I found myself in need of a next project, instead of being oh so good and picking up one of my older UFO’s like I should have done, I caved and went for the East Meets West Satchel, a kit I’d bought from KnitPicks, instead. I will say right now that I’m not only sorry I picked it up to knit that day, I’m sorry I ever saw the pattern in the first place! The joys of buying something like this from an online marketing photo…

Now, I could see from the original photo that there needed to be a bit of a change on the colors used in the main part of the bag. The Fairisle is so muddy that it’s difficult to see that there are roses worked on the bag, and lining them up together when the kit arrived and viewing them in black and white showed why. There was definitely not enough contrast. If I was going to knit Fairisle roses, I wanted them to show! I was able to fix that problem easily, and I spent an enjoyable evening playing with values and getting it right. There were a couple of colors I still didn’t feel good about, but I also realized that working them into the project might make them work right. Besides, the worst of the shades, a neon pink, looked good in the advertising photo, so I figured it probably was safe enough. Satisfied that I’d done well, I packed it away for a rainy day, which turned out to be two weeks ago, right in the  middle of my pity party.

There are three main sections to this project: handle/gusset, main body, and flap. In addition, there is a mess of knitted on i-cord, and full lining. It is knit with size 1.5 needles with Palette yarn, which is a light fingering weight yarn. Somehow, I saw all this info, but it never quite registered that this is quite frankly a monumental project. Now I know. Or, I sort of know. I’m still trying to get my brain around the fact that I’ve worked on this for at least 10 hours a day for the past two weeks, and it still isn’t finished. And I’m not exactly a novice knitter!

So, now you have a bit of background. Today’s topic is the main body of the bag. It’s a bit unique, to be quite blunt, and I did NOT like the way it was designed to be worked, so I made a sanity change, for which I’m very glad! The front and back of the purse are each 5/9 of a circle. They are knit together as a 10/9 circle of fabric with a steek band between them, then secured and cut apart. Since they are worked entirely in Fairisle, this is a totally logical way to do things, despite some inordinately long carries in some areas. However, I’ve yet to figure out why, but the designer chose to to knit this from the outside in, casting on 478 stitches, which are then to be joined “without twisting.” After one solid row, the hapless knitter is then tossed into two-color work with very long repeats and fine yarn, with rows 478 stitches long. Since early rows of knitting are so much fun (Note my lifted eyebrow.), and working into a the center of a closed circle is just as much, if not more fun, this sounded more than a bit masochistic to me, and I opted instead to take the easy way out. I started in the center. I cast on 38 stitches in waste yarn, knit back and forth a few rows, then joined it into a circle and knit a few more rows before launching into the pattern, which I worked from my now upside-down chart. That worked like a dream, and IF I ever get Alzheimer’s and decide to knit this pattern again, I will definitely approach it in this fashion.

Once I cast off, which took much less time than it would have to cast on 478 stitches counting obsessively, then trying to join without twisting, I secured and steam pressed the steek zone and boldly cut my knitting for the first time ever. (Do I need to include all the self-talk that was needed regarding having faith in the countless thousands of women who have done this successfully over the past umpteen generations?) Then I cut out the waste yarn, threaded a double-strand of yarn through the stitches at the inside edge and drew them up tight, hemmed the steeked edges under, and easily steamed the whole thing flat. I felt like a conquering hero! My colors look good for the most part, though I still wish I’d had several more shades to work with in order to ease a few of the transitions, and the roses pop boldly instead of being mired in a muddy background. I’m definitely happy enough to consider this part a success, now that I’ve made my adjustments.

I do want to add the comment that the camera seems to create more contrast between some colors than I see in person. I’m assuming it has much to do with how it sees the undertones. I have a fantasy of owning a digital camera that sees and manages colors without adding its own bit of creativity to the process.

My color adjustments (Rnds being the chart row numbers, which is the reverse of how I worked it.):

Rnds 1-3: was Bark and Rouge. I used Hazelnut and Raspberry Heather (Rouge is garish neon pink!)

Rnds 4-7: was Bison and Raspberry Heather. I used Brindle Heather and Lipstick. (Dumped Bison from project)

Rnds 8-13: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento

Rnds 14-21: was Doe and Garnet Heather. I used Almond and Garnet Heather.

Rnds 22-28: was Suede and Currant. I used Oyster and Currant.

Rnds 29-36: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento.

Rnds 43-46: was Bison and Garnet Heather. I used Hazelnut and Serrano, though I’ve second guessed the Serrano a good bit. It’s rather brash, and I wish I’d used something a bit more subtle – one of the two darker colors in the ribbon swag, perhaps.

Rnds 47-56: was Semolina and Bark. Did not change this, but I’m still trying to figure out a good purpose for this rather brilliant sunflower under the flap of an otherwise earthy, rose blessed purse.

Rnds: 57-59: was Sweet Potato and Bark. I changed to Orange and Bark. I see absolutely no reason to buy a ball of Sweet Potato yarn for 3 very short rows that are hidden under the flap of the purse, especially when the color isn’t that much different. Orange looks good, and it serves easily for both spots – and cuts down just a bit on the calamity of colors in the project.

Rnds 60-65: was Masala and Bark. I didn’t not change these.

My Final Souvenir

So July 23, I found myself in a very unusual state of mind. I was heading home from a trip and actually excited about the prospect. Four major trips this year has been an exhausting marathon, and I was more than ready to crash for a few days, then figure out in which cupboard I’d locked away normal life. I’ve not completely unpacked from any of the trips this year, my annual goals are growing mold, I have well over 10,000 emails in the inbox of my most used email account, and I have a desperate need to generate a lot of income – fast. Besides, Chicago, as much I loved what I saw on my first trip there, was stinking hot, which was making sightseeing a miserable chore instead of a pleasure. So it was with a light step (at least in my mind) that I walked out the door of the yarn shop, heading for the bus that would take me to the train to O’Hara airport.

And about 3 heartbeats later, I felt myself floating through the air, anticipating the impending collision with a Chicago sidewalk.

I’m not kidding about the floating thing. I remember wondering why I wasn’t falling faster and harder. My guardian angel did a really great job, all things considered. 🙂 Still, gravity won and I eventually found myself sprawled face down, surrounded by a cluster of people who seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, all asking at the same time if I was alright. Of course, that’s human nature and the right thing to do, but at that moment, even if I could have spoken, I didn’t know the answer, and I thought it oddly humorous. However, once they coaxed me into a sitting position and I saw my leg, I found myself asking exactly the same question, and I couldn’t fault the several who were wanting to call an ambulance. Within seconds of my impact, a totally amazing transformation had occurred on my shin, making it appear someone had slapped a large, thick slab of biscuit dough across the front of it. However, my assets consisted of $21 and an airplane ticket; I had to get home if it was humanly possible. So, with a decidedly foul look at the unmarked, oddly placed step that had been my downfall, I asked my rainbow entourage to help me to the restaurant next door, and before I had time to thank them or even see most of their faces, they’d delivered me and my luggage to a table just inside the door and vanished as quickly as they’d appeared – with one exception. Don (or was it Dan?)had apparently parked illegally when he saw me go down, and he risked a ticket to stay with me for the first 15-20 minutes of ice packs and ice water and post injury shaking. I wish there was a way to better thank him now that my head is clear, and Don in the Loyola polo, if you ever happen to read this, please know you were appreciated far beyond my ability to express it. I’m more inclined to think that God will be the one to orchestrate the repayment, and he’ll probably never know it came from me… but that’s okay. 🙂

The next few hours were a whirlwind of unique experiences and angels wearing skin, and I’m so grateful for every one of them. The restaurant didn’t charge me for any of the service they provided. Though I rarely get her on the first call, when I phoned my best friend, she answered my sobbing call from the bus stop. I desperately needed someone who knew me to know what was happening, not to mention how much I needed to hear the voice of someone I knew. (Doesn’t hurt that she’s a veteran ER/trauma nurse, either!) The fact that a Chicago bus driver stopped BETWEEN bus stops to let me off exactly at the top of the stairway down to the train is definitely miraculous! As I stepped off the bus, a woman appeared out of nowhere and asked if she could carry my bag down the stairs for me. It happened so quickly, I’m not even sure how she knew I needed the help, and then, after she put me on the elevator and said she’d meet me on the platform, I never saw her again, giving much credence to my angel theory. 🙂 The train, though full, maintained just enough space that I could sit with my leg up on my suitcase and under an icepack during the 45-minute or so ride to the airport. Although I had a nightmarish walk shuffle from the train into the terminal, before it was over, a cleaning lady, who spoke only Spanish, rushed to my aid, taking over my suitcase and running ahead to summon me an elevator. I was SO glad I have some Spanish to my credit, as it was fun to see her eyes light up when she found we could converse. 🙂

Once I hit the terminal, things started getting easier, which was a very good thing, considering my flight was to leave in just 50 minutes. There were two TSA agents near the door of the elevator, and while one summoned a wheelchair and headed off to get my boarding pass, the other helped me get to a chair. By the time I was rolled up to my gate, I found that the flight had been delayed by the impressive electrical storm I’d been watching from the train, and though I regretted having to wait, I did appreciate having some time to collect myself a bit. Besides, I was making some really good progress on the scarf I was knitting. 😉 In the end, our flight was delayed nearly 3 hours, but it could have been much worse. The people who were flying to Cleveland saw theirs canceled! The woman beside me was heading there for her brother’s funeral, and my heart was breaking for her to have to deal with all the additional stress this caused. The woman beside her had even more problems. I figure God put me in the right place at the right time, though. 🙂 She was also on the Cleveland flight, and when it was canceled, she got a little panicky. That’s when I found out that she didn’t speak English either! In fact, it turned out in the end that she was from Latvia – and no, I don’t speak Latvian! She did seem to understand a bit of the German I tried, but the biggest service I was able to provide was to offer the use of my cell phone. She asked me to call the number she had written on a piece of paper, and when I reached her relative, I was able to explain the situation to her. We went back and forth several times with this long distance interpreter, then the gate agent did the same, and as my momentary friend headed off to a new gate after getting reticketed, she stopped for a moment with a smile and tears in her eyes to express her appreciation via a big, fat chocolate bar that had traveled with her from her homeland. I was so touched that I about cried!

Sitting for several hours at the gate wasn’t very good for my leg, and it was a bit embarrassing to have to call for a wheelchair escort so I could go to the bathroom and get a bite to eat, but I survived, partially because of the incredibly sweet fellow who arrived to be my chariot driver. He was a gem! Then there was the plane… The Chicago/Columbus hop is short and done on a puddle jumper – 50 seat Embraer. They aren’t comfy under the best of circumstances, and they are miserable under bad ones! I was moved to the bulkhead seat, but it was on the left side, so I had to sit sideways in a too small seat. We didn’t get off the ground for nearly an  hour after boarding, and I had no ice and no elevation – not good! Once we were finally in the air, the flight attendant got her own suitcase out of the cupboard and put it under my leg, and even though there was no food service on the flight, she got me water so I could take my Tylenol. I also started chilling, and she dug out her own sweater to cover me, then when we were near to landing, she prepared an icebag to see me home. That lady deserves a HUGE gold star for all she did to make my situation a little less miserable!

Bad thing is that by the time we landed, my leg had swollen to the point that I was totally non-ambulatory; my knee and ankle refused to flex more than a couple of degrees, and since my knee was bent and my ankle straight, it was hopeless. After the shuttle driver took me right to my car instead of dropping me in the aisle as he’d done the rest of the vanload, a cell phone photo and phone consultation with my nurse friend – not to mention the fact that I’d have not been able to get into my house if I’d gone home anyway – convinced me that I had no choice but to go to the emergency room. Anyone who knows me, knows how hard of a decision that was for me, even though it was an obvious one! I really don’t know Columbus at all, so she got online and found a hospital for me, then looked it up on Googlemaps, talking me into it from her perch in Detroit. The ludicrous nature of going to the ER in this fashion helped take some of the sting out of the experience! The bad thing was that there is a lot of construction going on at the OSU hospital, and they don’t have the ER labeled well. An employee on the grounds misdirected me, and I ended up stuck in a parking garage with no way to get into the hospital. In retrospect, it’s almost hilarious, but at the time, it just caused me to finally break down and bawl. 😦 After driving in circles for a while, I finally parked near an elevator, and Joy looked up the hospital phone number. I would have loved to have seen the look on the operator’s face when I told her I was a non-ambulatory ER patient-to-be, stuck in the parking garage! It took 10-15 minutes, but eventually a security guard showed up to rescue me. He looked like a knight in shining armor to me by that point!

The next 12 hours were pretty typical emergency room stuff, I suppose, but since I wasn’t in pain unless I moved and wasn’t on medications, I actually enjoyed the show a lot between catnaps. I was in a 7-8 bed ward with 2 psych patients, a suicide attempt, a woman who insisted on sleeping instead of providing the necessary urine specimen, a fellow who was asking every few minutes when he could have more pain meds, and the narrator, who gave a rather loud running commentary on everything from his treatment to a jubilant “You’ve got a runner!” when one of the psych patients made a dash for the hall. The woman who wanted to sleep had a few things to say about this monologue, but I have to confess I found it somewhat amusing. It felt a lot like I’d landed inside a TV show at times, and it was good company for my knitting – which came home 21 inches longer than when I’d left home the previous Monday.

So, now I’m home, the accident was 17 days ago, and I’m using a cane instead of crutches, and the past few days, I’ve not needed an icepack. The leg has been – and still is – every color but pretty, and an ever changing kaleidoscope. It’s fascinating to watch the sometimes hourly changes in color as my body slowly deals with the misplaced fluids. I have a VERY impressive lump over my tibialis anterior – the big muscle running along the outside of my shin. It’s impossible to get a photo that shows how big it actually is, but this should give you at least some idea. Keep in mind that my entire leg is swollen in addition to the lump, which is so big itself that it takes my entire hand to cover it completely. The second picture shows my right leg as a comparison.

This photo was taken the second day that there was pooling in my foot. It looks a rather wimpy in comparison to what is there right now. It’s currently about thrice this size and MUCH brighter, but I don’t feel like coping with taking pix at the moment. On this particular day, even the bottom of my foot was discolored – a first for me!

After the first few days of improvement, healing leveled off, leading me to break down and go to a sports medicine center up in Dayton, where they told me everything looks normal, and that I need to be patient. This sort of injury takes WEEKS to heal, not just days. GRRRRR!!!!!! What I am dealing with is an intramuscular hematoma, and the doctor says I may have as much as 12 ounces of blood inside the muscle. That could explain a few things! The bad part of this is that as soon as my leg goes vertical, it starts to swell and hurt, so I’ve been a couch potato for the past 2.5 weeks. Since my new laptop got sick a couple of days before my trip, I can only get online for a few minutes here and there without aggravating my leg beyond my tolerance level. (This post has taken me a week to write!) Good thing is that I’m getting a lot of knitting done; bad thing is that I’m going stir crazy! I love to knit, but I don’t necessarily like HAVING to knit! I’ll work on a knitting update here next, I think, as I’ve been more than a little bit productive. I miss my online friends and connections, and I have SO much I need to be doing… cleaning, remodeling, doll repair, earning some income…

About that break I’ve been needing so badly? 😉

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 2:51 am  Comments (2)  
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