Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stress relief

It's been quite the week chez Dear. Obviously, there's the whole "Holy Crap Christmas is in a week how the heck did that happen!?!" thing that sneaks up on me (and I suspect many other knitters) every year, but for added fun we've been dealing with Mystery Health Issues that Émilie's been having over the past few weeks as well.

Last Friday the school called me and asked if I'd noticed that something was wrong with Emilie's face. She'd gotten into a bit of a scuffle with a friend a few days earlier, and I honestly thought they were following up on that (she had a scratch beneath her left eye). I was in full "Responsible Mommy" mode, right up until they said "Well, we don't want to alarm you, but she appears to be paralyzed on one side of her face. You might want to come pick her up and get her checked out."

Think about that a minute. When the word "paralysis" is used in a conversation about your child, let me assure you that the adrenaline goes WAY up in a right hurry. Five minutes later, I was well on my way and Dad was on the phone with Dr. Grampa, who pulled a Mario Andretti and arrived at the house about 20 minutes later (a drive that would usually take 45 minutes easy). She receives a full exam, and the preliminary diagnosis is that she's got Bell's Palsy, which is treatable and reversible over time.

She's been on medication since Friday, and seems to be responding to the treatment. Facial control isn't entirely restored at this point, but we've been seeing some improvement, which is a good sign.

We were still concerned about WHAT brought on the palsy in the first place of course, so yesterday we took her to see the ENT. He suspects that she's actually got Infectious mononucleosis, and it's the mono that has caused her facial paralysis, which is rare but not unheard of in the literature.

What's NOT so good is that she also seems to have substantial hearing loss in her right ear, something that can't be explained by either the mono or the Bell's Palsy... Phone calls are made, and we somehow manage to jump ahead of a six-month waiting period and get her an appointment for a proper hearing test TODAY. See? Holiday Miracles really do happen!

So how do you think I've been dealing with all of this? Well, I've been knitting up a storm, of course. For instance, earlier in the week I knit Émilie a Holiday Candy Cane scarf for school.

See the Bell's Palsy? The right side of her face just doesn't quite work :(

OK, so it's not exactly a LONG scarf, but did I mention I knit it in one evening? Yeah... I cast on for it at 7:00 PM, and was weaving in ends and making fringe a bleary-eyed 4.5 hours later.

I also got a substantial amount of knitting done on the Non-Cookie-KAL Estonian Socks, mach 2.

MUCH happier with the colourwork of this version. I futzed around with the calf shaping, heel and gussets quite a bit (I'll get into the details in another post), but the important thing is that - as of 11:15 last night - I have a kick-ass Estonian Sock that fist me like a second skin.

Too bad I still have to knit another one...

Happy Knitting Everyone. If I don't get to post before the big day, we at Casa de Dear send wishes of Happiness, Peace, and most importantly Health to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There may be pictures

I'm writing this up before heading out to meet my ex-boby-builder sister-in-law at the gym for a "fun workout" (her words, not mine). I have not had time to edit the pictures I took this weekend. Assuming I retain any kind of muscle control when I get back, I'll put them in this post. If not, you'll just have to wait another day.

One of the things that troubles me about blogging lately is the absence of pictures. Someone once told me that a good blog is all about the photography, and that's certainly true for certain blogs I lurk in read. Sure, a funny story is all well and good, but this is a knitting blog. If there isn't going to be any kind of visual reference point for all the stuff I'm knitting (you know, like with Castlegar? Insert sheepish grin here), it's hard to keep your readers interested.

The only problem is that it's December in the Northern hemisphere, and I work full-time. When I leave for work, the sun's barely up, and that sucker's long gone by the time I get home. Weekends? Try getting some quiet, quality photography time with 2 kids in the house. Not to mention DORMA duties.

Sometimes I manage to pull it off, of course. This weekend I took pictures of my Non-Cookie-KAL Estonian Socks, mach 1.

Yup, Mach 1. I didn't like the results of my colour selection at ALL. I was aiming for something Mustaavillaa-ish and came up with.... ass. Blue-teal ass. Naturally, they've been ripped out since then, and all the little coloured bits of ass-making yarn are waiting in Albert the hamster's "nest yarn" stash.

I've re-cast on with a much simpler combo, and I'm reasonably happy with the results so far. I'm a bit concerned about the heel shaping for these socks (hint: there is no gusset shaping. I LOVE gussets) and the fit is giving me a bit of a ponder as well. But for now, I'm happy.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Added later: The workout was... well. Hard. Tomorrow is going to be brutal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A while back Kate-the-Enabler and I combined forces to purchase the lovely Cookie A.'s Knit. Sock. Love. (Wow! What IS it about socks, anyway? Just looking up the link for the book made me want to buy sock yarn. *Sigh*) She'll get the autographed hardcopy version, since I already own a Cookie A. book (don't argue with me, Katherine!), and I'll get the PDF version.

Anyway, all that to say that we were stoked. Totally stoked. We talked about how we'd cast on simultaneously for our socks once we got the book. We planned, we canoodled, we discussed yarn options and whether there was something truly Cookie-worthy in our respective stashes. (What? Knitting socks is serious business, you know).

But see, here's the thing: even though we were are totally commited to embarking upon a glorious joint journey into Cookie-Land, we're still KNITters with a capital KNIT, you know? I mean.... it's not as though we went into suspended animation or anything while we were waiting for the book to arrive. We continued to frequent Ravelry, we were exposed to other patterns, and, well..... things happened.

I cast on a pair of Estonian Socks, and Kate is still deciding between a few, non-Cookie options.

So there you have it! We're having a "We just bought the new Cookie A. book but we're knitting something completely different!"-KAL. Join us, won't you?

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

ps: Pictures of Castlegar are coming. The weather here has been pretty crappy, and call me crazy, I didn't really fancy modeling in the snow/hail/rain we had this weekend.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Chronicles of a Knitting Dumbass

Easing my way back into blogging today, my friends. I needed a wee rest after NaBloPoMo, but I've missed you terribly (I keep refreshing my email, wondering why I'm not getting any comments before I remember that I haven't posted in over a week), and I hope you've missed me as well.

I used to be a math wiz (whiz? probably not). Not only was I really an excellent student (my highschool teacher used to gush and fawn over my homework and test scores), I actually enjoyed doing maths. I loved that it was so predictable and orderly, and that if you just followed the steps, you would always arrive at the proper solution to the problem. Math suited my obsessive-compulsive control-freak issues me to a proverbial Tee.

Of course, that was 20 years ago (Aack! TWENTY years!!!!). After high school I shunned the ways of math and earned a coupla degrees in History, followed by another degree in library and information sciences, none of which use math all that much. Sure, I can add and subtract (sometimes I even do it in my head!), but those multiplication/division skills are, apparently, somewhat rusty. As evidenced by my sad, sad attempts to knit a button-hole row on the Castlegar cardigan earlier this week.

The pattern calls for 8 buttons (thusly, 8 button-holes), to be spaced evenly along the button band. Laura (I've knit 3 of her cardigans. I feel I'm allowed to call her by her given name) has you place stitch markers along the buttonband where you want your buttons to be, and then knit button-holes in the corresponding area into the opposing band. No counting, you just sort of wing it.

Now, Laura may be one of those free-spirit types of knitters who can just place buttons wherever they strike her fancy, but I, my friends, am not. I need structure, precision, and a little f*%$ing discipline. Place stitch markers on a whim? Was the woman high on wool fumes when she wrote this? No, this simply wouldn't do. Would. Not. I, fellow knitters, had a Plan. I would simply dig into my admittedly rusty math skills and figure out the perfect button-hole placement formula. Symmetry and beauty would be MINE.

Here's how that worked out:

  1. Each button-hole uses 4 stitches. I have 166 stitches on the needles. Decide I want a 4 stitch cushion between the edges of the band and the first/last button. Pull numbers out of my arse and decide that proper placement of 6 remaining buttons should occur every 21 stitches.
  2. Knit smugly, arrive at end of row with 2 button-holes yet to knit. Sit bemused for a moment, and reluctantly tink back.
  3. Decide to reduce the "cushion" zone to 3 stitches, and to reduce spacing between button-holes to 16 stitches. Feel certain that this should ABSOLUTELY work (because 16 + 4 = 20, and 20 x 8 - 160. Factor in the 3 "cushion" stitches on each edge, and voilà: 166 stitches).
  4. Knit smugly, arrive at end of row with not eight but NINE button-holes (whaaaa???). Curse. Tink back.
  5. Actually LOOK at the cardi and decide I don't really want a button at the top of the neckband anyway. Decide Laura might be onto something after all (why I ever doubted her at all is completely beyond me), and decide to just wing it.
  6. Retain the 16 stitch spacing as a guide (because you can lead an old knitter to water...), knit 16 stitches BEFORE placing the first button-hole, and knit nervously, praying to the knitting muses that they throw this poor, tired knitter a freakin' bone already.
  7. Arrive at the end of the row with a most fetching 6 stitch "cushion" zone. Feel profound sense of relief and victory.
  8. Said feeling of victory is promptly crushed when I realize that I've somehow managed to confuse the top and bottom of the cardigan, and that the longer "cushion" zone I had planned to be at the neck is, in fact, at the bottom of the button-hole band.
  9. Decide I'd rather set my hair on fire than tink back AGAIN, and that furthermore, only crazy people give a flying fart about button placement anyway.
  10. Finish button-band, graft underarm stitches and weave in ends. Do a small dance of joy that the cardigan is finally done, and immediately begin swatching for another project to take the edge off, thus thoroughly freaking out Muggle husband ("Honestly Dear, do you ever stop knitting???")

I'm hoping to get pictures of Castlegar this weekend. I'm actually wearing it today, and it looks fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Here's the ironic part though: I haven't sewn in the buttons yet. Kinda makes me wonder why I even bothered with that stupid row anyway? Laura?

Happy Knitting Everyone!