ISO – replacement parts

*for those of you who are not internet hipsters, ISO = in search of

That is the Caterpillar Shawlette from KnitPicks and I purchased it long enough ago that I did get the yarn shown in the sample. It’s gorgeous and it is in desperate need of blocking. It’s also the largest all-lace project I’ve made using only charts. There were a few bits that I fought with, but overall I would say it was a wonderful experience. And since the pattern is free, why not give it a shot.

I find myself at a familiar place right now, the place where I want to try to finish all of the projects I have started so that I start the new year with a clean crafting slate. I’m fairly certain that is a total pipe dream at this point. Currently in the works we have:

  • Sugar Stick, a two color scarf using sock yarn
  • Kitty B, a lace scarf using lace weight yarn (this is my travelling project and will for sure not get done)
  • A baby blanket that will go for charity
  • A small-ish cross stitch of a cat
  • Ennis Lotus Cowl – this is lace, and beads, and it WILL be done before Thanksgiving if it kills me

I started it on August 15, 2021, but clearly I didn’t work on it consistently. It’s slow because of the beading and it took me making the Caterpillar to truly get comfortable with charted patterns. I’m now just about half done with it and it keeps getting quicker. The end result should be very subtle elegance, at least that’s my hope.

At any rate, all of this fast and furious lace knitting has me wishing I could shop for a new arm. Biofreeze to the rescue! If you aren’t familiar, it’s like most other topical muscle pain relief treatments, it just happens to be the one I prefer.

why must we do this to ourselves

I can’t even say that I really understand the origins of Daylight Saving Time because really, we aren’t “saving” a damn thing. The earth still takes 24 hours to make a full revolution around the sun. Yes, at certain times of year we get less of the light because of the tilt in the earth’s axis.

DEAL WITH IT.

Adjusting the clocks by an hour is like cutting fabric off the bottom of a blanket, sewing it to the top, and declaring that you’ve just “added” time. (not my original quote, some very wise Native American man is credited with it)

At any rate, the time change in the autumn always fucks me up. And it’s a silly thing really, but my body/brain always has a hard time making that adjustment. I’m like an animal that’s conditioned to eat dinner promptly at 5pm, and I don’t give a fuck if the clock says it’s only 4pm. Feed me, or else.

Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be feeling a little more like myself again.

creative goodies

Marlene had left me a comment about the beaded ornaments I mentioned so I thought I would try to show you all one of them. Apologies for the less than fantastic photo, I still shake and didn’t think to setup a better photo shoot this morning.

That one is a small glass ornament that I’ve done bead netting around using two colors of green size 11 beads, a different green in size 8 for the connecting points, and then I accented the dangles on the bottom with some red bicone crystals. I did a few others in a very similar style but with different color combinations and dangly bits. They take me a few hours to make on average.

I also did a few larger ornaments that are more disc shaped than the traditional globe shape. I used alcohol ink on the inside to give a little bit of color and then made dangle bits that are hung from the holes in the silver part at the top where the hook goes in. These were a lot quicker and quite a bit different than what I would normally do, but I like how they turned out.

I’ve done a variety of things with ornaments over the years, some more successful than others. One of the things I used to do quite a bit, that was reasonably cheap and easy, was to take the larger clear glass globe ornaments, take the top off, and then drip acrylic paint inside. I would use a few colors, usually no more than 3, swirl it around a bit, and then set them upside down in old egg cartons to drain and dry.

Having the paint on the inside protects it from getting scratched off and it helps this to be one of the less messy projects involving paints. It’s also great for people who claim to not be creative, have less than fantastic fine motor control, and small children.

psych update

Things seem to be going reasonably well. I haven’t been getting quite as much sleep as I know I should and I also know that’s contributing to my feelings of frustration lately. My fuse is shorter than I would like at times, but I’m generally able to keep it from reaching the sticks of dynamite, so I consider that a “win.”

I’m trying to dig into my bag of DBT skills and be the best “me” I can be. My self-care habits/routines are still in place and I have still been able to control my temper. I see all of that as positive. I also felt well enough mentally this weekend that I went and met with a group of knitters at the public library. It was good to get out of my safe zone and talk to other women.

making something out of (almost) nothing

That’s the new bulletin board hanging next to my desk that I made with bits and pieces I already had on hand. That’s an old picture frame that wasn’t in use, a piece of fabric I got on vacation this summer, and a piece of foam core board that Lancelot cut down to size for me. I attached the fabric to the foam core using packing tape because it was 1) fast, 2) easy, and 3) didn’t require cutting the fabric. I got myself some pretty pushpins and voila, new bulletin board. I’m very pleased with this.

I’ve also managed to get all those ends weaved in on the charity knitting projects. I finished 19 hats, 11 scarves, and 2 cowls that will be given to Youth Emergency Services. I told the gentleman who has gifted me with all of the yarn what I’ve done with it and he said it made him cry. My goal is just to pay his kindness forward. I don’t need more things, but I enjoy making things, so it’s a win-win for me.

I’m in full swing with making holiday gifts. I finished three ornaments this weekend and I believe that was the last I needed, though I do have beads picked out for more so we’ll see what happens. These are also using materials that I’ve got on hand, and I really am enjoying getting creative and making use of the things I have around.

oh the places I go

Welcome to Monday. No, I don’t care if you still have your receipt, you can’t get a refund. Buck up, little camper, here we go again…

Tao Silk Scarf – not using silk, maybe alpaca?

This is the “personal” project that I’m working on most right now. The pattern was free from Jimmy Beans Wool and is pretty straightforward; just a 4 row repeat. I’m using a ball of unknown laceweight yarn from my stash. I suspect it started life as “naked” alpaca from KnitPicks that I dyed myself about a thousand years ago but I don’t honestly remember. It’s pretty, it’s easy, and it makes me happy.

Other things that are making me happy include making a few more holiday gifts over the weekend, getting connected with a local knitters group that will happily take the hats and scarves I’ve been making and donate them to their chosen charity this year (I just need to get all of the ends woven in), and Lancelot. I mean honestly, what’s not to be happy about with a partner who gets what “partner” actually means.

Another thing that makes me happy is being a student, and I realized last week that it’s been too long since I wore that hat. I am not at all interested in another degree right now – for one thing I don’t think I can afford it in terms of my mental health. The university I work for covers some tuition costs if you attend one of the system schools, so that would help if I did decide to pursue a program there again, but mentally and emotionally I know that I don’t have what it would it would take to do justice to another full-on graduate degree. Not right now at least.

Instead I’m going to do a professional certificate program, all online and from the comfort of home, and I should be done in about a month. All for $50 and it comes very highly recommended. I’m excited about this. I really am someone who thrives on learning new things.

Goals update

Y’all probably know by now that I set myself some goals every year. I do not believe in the whole “new year’s resolution” thing, but I do believe in pushing myself to do new things and try to do some old things even better. The list for 2022 was (comments for each in brackets):

  • No new yarn (I have only bought yarn once, for a very specific project that was commissioned by a friend)
  • Learn a new knitting skill (I’ve finally learned how to knit with two colors!)
  • Complete at least one creative project every month (so far August was my slowest month with only 7 projects)
  • Learn a new craft skill (I’ve learned several new techniques for beading and jewelry making)
  • Try at least two new recipes every month (we’ve tried far more than this and loved 99% of them)
  • Plant and maintain a vegetable garden (we had tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, strawberries, and assorted herbs growing on the deck; I’ve started clearing space in the existing flower beds to accommodate a proper garden next year)
  • Lose 50lbs (this is the goal that I’ve struggled with the most and haven’t made any real progress with)

I’ve already been working on my goals for 2023, mostly so that I can be prepared. I’m 99.999% confident these are set now:

  • No new craft supplies (unless I manage to completely deplete my stashes of stuff)
  • Finish all of my kits (beading, knitting, etc. including the ones I’ve put together for knitting projects)
  • Read at least 4 books
  • Establish and maintain habits/routines for exercising
  • Complete at least 5 creative projects each month (anything creative counts – drawing, knitting, jewelry, LEGO, etc)
  • No new clothes unless I need new underwear or bras
  • No new shoes
  • Lose 50lbs
  • Post on my blog at least once per week
  • Learn how to bake bread from scratch
  • Earn at least one professional certificate
  • Learn at least one new craft skill

I think those should be both challenging yet absolutely attainable. And, in an effort to be able to tell when I’ve finished all of the kits I have, I’ve started taking an inventory of everything I have in the house. That’s been a great exercise because I’m uncovering things that I had completely forgotten about. It’s like shopping without spending any money.

I’ve considered going back to doing goals on a weekly basis; not quite sure about that yet. I will say I feel there’s a lot to be said for it in terms of keeping accountable. For now, it’s Monday and it’s time to see where today takes us.

Eric and Froggy are trying to hide from Monday, unsuccessfully

sometimes the pieces come together a lot later than you thought they would

Project from this weekend

Lancelot and I seem to have started a tradition of sharing a bottle of wine on our anniversary, and being the sentimental fool that I am, I’ve kept the corks from those two bottles. I wasn’t really sure why, it just seemed right. Yesterday I decided to see if I could make them more visible and that’s exactly what happened. I wrapped the corks with a bit of wire and added some sparkly bits. The other one is the same concept but with different accents. I have them hanging on the plant stand and they’re just perfect. I love projects that combine found objects and supplies I already have on hand.

I have definitely been keeping busy with the crafting lately. I finally finished some ornaments I had started working on sometime earlier this year, because the inspiration for how to finish them finally came to me. And I modified that Dragon Egg pattern to use some Koigu KPPM I had in my stash and ended up with a cozy for a plant jar.

I have no idea how much of a skein I used for this because it had been salvaged from a project of unknown origin and has been in my stash for well over 10 years. I had approximately 90 zillion ends to weave in because of this so instead of weaving them in I threaded them all to the inside and hid them instead. It’ll be our secret, shhhhh…

Keeping with my goal of not buying any yarn this year, and realizing that it wasn’t a struggle, has me thinking about going even bigger (actually smaller) next year. My thinking right now is that I won’t buy any new yarn, kits of any kind, or craft supplies next year. The caveat to all of those is that if I somehow manage to run out then my goal will have basically been met. But trust me, that’s not going to happen. I started making a list of just the bead kits I have and there are 10 on the list so far. So far. That doesn’t count the knitting kits, the crochet kit, felting kits, and other assorted craft kits that I know are lurking in this house. Step one is going to be to find and catalog all of those.

In other news, Lancelot and I took a mini-vacation to Des Moines, IA last Friday and had a blast. We went to the Art Center, Botanical Garden, an art gallery, and had the famous Crab Rangoon pizza at Fong’s. It was great to be able to get away and not spend an entire day on travel. It took less than a full tank of gas for the round-trip, plus we only needed a hotel for one night and L found a very nice place that was smack in the middle of what we wanted to see and was reasonably priced and had a fantastic continental breakfast. On Saturday when we got home we hung out and watched way too much TV and just had a really good time together.

We are sort of adorable together

psych update

There’s actually not much to update right now. I won’t see the doc again until the end of November, though I do see my therapist just about every other week. I think that therapy, like the medication, will always be a part of my life and I’m really ok with that. I feel very strongly that we all need someone to talk to that we know won’t judge us and will help us find solutions to situations that we just can’t talk to anyone else about. It’s just good for the soul.

seasons change and so do i

Doesn’t it frustrate you when you pick just a tiny bit of a song lyric out of thin air that perfectly fits, but you can’t remember which song it comes from? Ugh, bonkers. Anyway, moving on…

Dragon Egg Dice Bag for friend N’s birthday

The gathering of people for N’s birthday this weekend went really well. The food turned out great, there was some great conversation, and for me it was just a lovely opportunity to play hostess, which is something I quite enjoy. And the gift I made him, the Dragon Egg Dice Bag (Ravelry link to free pattern), was very well received. Even better – I already had yarn than worked out perfectly and I got to learn a new stitch to make it.

In general I would say that things around here have been quiet and smooth. We’ve had bumps, yes, but tiny ones. And I feel like we’re in good shape for the coming months. Our Halloween decorating is done, I’ve started working on my plan for Christmas decorating, and I’ve been working on gifts.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to work out a “pattern” for a bead embellished glass ornament and I’m very pleased with the results, especially considering I didn’t use a pattern.

It’s hard to see but there’s a small crystal star suspended inside the ornament

I had a bunch of these clear ornaments and a bunch of beads so, look out world, beaded ornaments for everyone on my list this year!!!

Psych update

Things with the med adjustment continue be going well. I have noticed that I’m not constantly thirsty like I was and I do feel a bit more animated. The other real change right now is that it’s time for the sunlamp. In addition to working to keep the Bipolar under control I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder that I’ve been very effectively treating by using a full spectrum sun lamp in the mornings during the fall/winter months. This was the treatment prescribed by my doc and it really does work. Plus, it’s not a pill and that’s a bonus when you have as many pills to take as I do.

Garth soaks up the sunshine every chance he gets

both useful and decorative

A friend of mine has this legitimately delightful habit of gently (ahem) correcting people who are exhibiting negative self-talk. “Are you saying mean things to my friend Erin?” And she’s right, we shouldn’t do that sort of thing to ourselves. It’s not helpful and often just makes things worse. The most important thing here though is that she listens and then offers this support immediately. It’s another way to tell someone you love them without using that word. Food for thought for us all I suspect.

Mildly remodeled plant area

My plant area in the sunroom was feeling Very Cramped, but since there are kitties in the house I have to be careful with what’s where not only because they are destructive little fuckers, but also because some plants are toxic to them. Lancelot helped me select and then assemble this very modular solution that fits in the space on top of the cabinet where the plants had been living. There are no new plants here they’re just arranged differently. I think everyone will be getting better light now and it certainly doesn’t seem as cramped. L even commented that the whole room feels different now.

psych update

I met with my psychiatrist last week and it went very well. She agrees that being off the Lithium seems to be going quite nicely. She also agreed with my thought that I might have been a tiny bit overmedicated. However, the entire support network has rightly been concerned about me not being medicated enough for a hell of a long time, so better safe than sorry.

I’ll meet with her again at the end of November and, assuming things are still smooth, we’ll talk about possibly lowering the dose of one of my other medications.

This is a paraphrase from something I said to someone last week, and it’s utter truth: If you had told me in 2006 that a time would come when my life would feel “normal” and I would be “happy” I would have laughed and called bull shit. But here I am. A mental health diagnosis is not a life sentence, it’s a call to arms.

no catchy title today, we are sold out

I’m going to guess that I’m not the only one starting to see shortages at the grocery store again. It’s possible that this is something different than the issues we were experiencing in the height of the pandemic, but whatever it is I find it a bit troubling. Because of that Lancelot and I have decided to “beef up” our pantry and freezer staples just a bit. No, I am not hoarding toilet paper or cans of tuna. I’m trying to shop the store sales and have a few extra cans/packages of the things we normally use, just in case.

I’ve also started gathering holiday supplies because last year I waited too long and then wasn’t able to get a few things I really hoped to have. So far I’ve ordered a few gifts and some Christmas decorations. I also picked up a rather large skeleton decoration. I have learned that if I see something I really want, that fits the budget, I should just freakin’ get it.

Alpine Meadow hat

I had to buy yarn this weekend, and yes, I really did have to buy it. My friend’s sister is fighting cancer for the second time and is anticipating losing her hair, again. And the weather here will be getting cooler. I love this pattern but didn’t have any bulky yarn, nor anything in the preferred colors. So Lancelot agreed that this would not mean I was going against my own goal of not buying new yarn because in a way this is a commission. (no, I am not planning to accept payment for this – the yarn was not expensive and I’m enjoying this)

The hat pattern (Ravelry link) is one I’ve knit at least three times before and is just lovely. I actually purchased it because they had the suggested yarn and a sample on display at my LYS several years ago. I find it to be well written, easy to follow, and it’s a quick knit.

Psych Update

In other news, last night I took my last Lithium capsule. This taper has taken four weeks and was done under the supervision of my psychiatrist. Please keep in mind that I would not ever suggest anyone muck around with medication doses, of any kind, without talking to the appropriate doctor. I would suggest that having frank conversations with your medical team periodically to see if what you’re taking (for any condition) is still the best thing and the best dose. Medical science advances every day.

I’m feeling pretty good really. I would say my motivation, concentration, appetite are all about where they usually are. I am experiencing the full range of normal human mood in a normal kind of ebb and flow. Nothing feels too hurried or too cumbersome. I do feel like I’m experiencing more enjoyment and excitement at times, but those are what feels like “appropriate” reactions to specific situations. I’ve discussed this with Lancelot and some of my support network and no one has noticed anything untoward.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist Wednesday morning to follow up on all of this. I anticipate having blood work done sometime soon. Probably the biggest bummer from all this is I have five rather large bottles of Lithium capsules in the cupboard that I almost certainly won’t be needing. I plan to ask doc what’s the best way to safely dispose of that quantity of unneeded medication.

critter update

Sleepy baby

Garth has a visit with the vet lined up for tomorrow. He’s got a few tiny “naked” patches that I’m concerned about. There are two little spots on his face above his whiskers and another one behind his ear. Truly it looks like the fur just fell out; the skin that’s exposed looks healthy, no signs of scratching or trauma, no ringworm or anything like that. Who knows. So we’ll go get him checked out.

Eric the Red continues to be the most mellow kitty in the universe. His latest trick is to “steal” the critter bed positioned between the chairs in the living room where Lancelot and I normally sit, and where Dog Blossom normally conducts her neighborhood watch shifts. Dog is not pleased by this. Cat has no fucks left to give.

Talk to the peet

a slightly different kind of thing

One of the classic symptoms of mania is starting All The Things, All At Once, and then not finishing a damn thing. I freely admit that I am notorious for having multiple knitting projects on the needles at once, mostly because I’m not sure what mood I’ll be in when I sit down to knit. This tendency stuck with me and we’ve decided it’s just a part of me, so we leave it alone.

Lately rather than starting a bunch of projects I’ve felt compelled to try to finish as many of the things I have started as I can. I’m enjoying this, honestly. I’ve recently finished two knitting projects – the Carmine cowl and the Japanese Leaf Lace Shrug – and I’m feeling determine to get the rest of the knitting projects I’ve started this year finished before the new year rolls around.

What I have left currently on needles:

  • Sugar Stick scarf – it’s my first two-color project and I love it, but I decided to use sock yarn so it’s SLOW.
  • Ennis Lotus Cowl – I love this, but it’s a beast. Also sock weight yarn, plus it’s lace, plus there are beads. This one was actually started last August.
  • Lace scarf – again, this is a scarf and I’m using lace because that’s what the pattern calls for. It’s pretty, it’s portable, and the pattern is pretty straightforward.

I’m also working on a small counted cross stitch of a cat with flowers and I’m trying to figure out how to make two old glass plates and some random beads become yard art.

In the “next on deck” category there are six knitting “kits” that I’ve put together for myself, plus a variety of bead related kits, and then a bunch of other random stuff I’d like to do.

Plus the holiday gifts.

I should probably go get started…

Close up of the leaf lace, desperately needs to be blocked