Saturday, May 28, 2016

Knitting Time vs Other Stuff

When your hobbies get in the way of your work - that's OK; but when your hobbies get in the way of themselves... well.  --Steve Martin
Week three of the broken foot completed. I can sorta walk, but I haven't really been pushing it. I still wear my cast and use my crutches at work to protect it, but when I get home, I take it off and put a tensor band on instead. It supports my foot while I walk the short distances from the kitchen to the couch, or from the bedroom to the bathroom. I still use my crutches when I'm feeling tired, because it hurts when I'm knocked off balance. Still, it feels good to get a little bit of strength back in my right leg. It means I can carry a glass of water by myself. Imagine that.

Despite the rainy day today, I decided to bust out the white jeans and get up the nerve to take some photos of my Chevron Lace Top. On a side note: it was only last year that I felt brave enough to wear white trousers. I quite like them now, actually. I was so sure they'd get dirty in two seconds, but you'd be amazed at how careful you become when you wear something you actually care about staining. White trousers don't quite make you graceful, but they sure do make you less of thug.

I still think the top is too long. I like the colour, though, and the design is quite clever. I like the way the v-shape of the lace lands in the right spot to frame your neck and face:

Maybe I'm just not used to wearing long tops. It doesn't look too bad from behind:

I was also a little skeptical about the short sleeves, since I'm self-conscious about my arms, but I think it'll be okay if I wear a jacket over it. Maybe it's just not my style. Coupled with the fact that I feel sluggish and bloated from all the sitting around I've been doing, the photo shoot was not all that pleasant, even if I do look quite pleased with myself:

Yeah. Not thrilled with the length. I'll stop fiddling soon, I promise.

I'm amazed that I still have three balls of yarn left. A little lace sure goes a long way. I'm not used to having so much yarn leftover: I am the Queen of the Close Call, after all. If I keep finishing like this, it might start to work against me. I can see myself getting cocky about how much I could get out of each skein, and end up right back into the "near miss" situation again.

Yep. Best to stay nervous about yardage, I say.

In the meantime, I've been working away on my Fuchsia Nouveau Shawl, and I've already reached the final chart for it. (I find "fuchsia" a really difficult word to spell. I always have to say the f-word in my head to make sure I've got it right.)

Knitting lace using laceweight yarn usually doesn't look that impressive in-progress. It usually tends to look like a crumped up fishing net, but I'm using a skein of Americo Linen Cordon, which is a blend of linen, cotton, and a little bit of silk. All of those fibres together are making for quite a nice, drapey shawl, which enough rigidity to open up the lace without blocking, even in the knitting stage. I keep stopping to marvel at how well it's holding up. I imagine this what it would be like if you could knit with a spider web.

Imagine if a spider could knit. Just think of how many sweaters they'd get done.

The Big Bike Event that I signed up for is on Monday. Naturally, I will not be riding, but when I contacted the organizers to tell them about my foot, they said that, if I showed up on the day of the event and cheered on my team, they'd keep my name on the team and I could keep on fundraising in my own name. There is a seat on the bike without pedals on it, and the team captain said I could get on if I felt up to it, but I don't think I will. I'd feel terrible making all those people carry me around while I just sat there.

I'm sick of just sitting around in general, really.

I signed up as a volunteer at the local art gallery this week. I'm trying to find other things to do, and other people to hang around with. I think being stuck at home has made me really feel the isolation of only having work as my social life. I like my work friends, but I think I need to expand my horizons a bit. I say this, but as soon as I checked the box that said, "I can volunteer at events," I could hear a little voice inside say, "but what about your knitting time?"

Life is a constant pull between knitting time and other stuff, it seems.

I'm changing out of my white trousers now and putting on something more suitable for drinking a cup of tea and eating a bowl of soup. I think I'll save my white trousers for when I feel like I'm more fit for the challenge of walking around and keeping clean. White trousers are not for the broken-footed.

Three-quarters upright. Here's hoping for a nearly-upright week soon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Inspiration Mondays: Fresh vs Fried

Inspiration and wretchedness are inseparable... With only inspiration, we become arrogant. With only wretchedness, we lose our vision. Feeling inspired cheers us up, makes us realize how vast and wonderful our world is. Feeling wretched humbles us. The gloriousness of our inspiration connects us with the sacredness of the world. But when the tables are turned and we feel wretched, that softens us up. It ripens our hearts. It becomes the ground for understanding others. --Pema Chodron
I'm conscious of how much of a drag I've been recently on this blog. I look back at posts over the last few months, and it all seems to say the same thing: struggling through weariness and looking for reminders to slow down, looking for things to lift me up, to keep me going. As tiresome as it is for me, I'm sure it's tiring for people to read about. It's not what I want at all for this blog.

I decided I'd really spend time today thinking about something to write for an Inspiration Mondays post. I've been dodging them for weeks, feeling pretty sure I had nothing to be inspired by. I was sure I'd skip it again today until I read that quote this morning.

I went to a yoga retreat a few months ago in the autumn, and the teacher said something like, "We can be in different seasons inside of us, even if they don't match the seasons outside. It might be bright and spring-like outside, but inside, you could be in autumn... in a time of hunkering down and bracing yourself." And that's how I feel right now: feeling the need to wrap up and stay cocooned. And for some weeks now, I've felt bad about it, but I think I'm ok with it now.

Most of the time, I want to be fresh and vigorous and bright... like a nice, tasty salad. Other times, I just want to be warm and comforted... onion rings instead of roasted vegetables.

Today for lunch, I had a salad and an order of onion rings. I got that idea from someone else (thanks, D). It was exactly what I needed.

As much as I'd like to feel inspired and cheered up today, I am content enough to sit in my "wretchedness" of being injured and grounded... and to let it soften me... and mold me into another version of myself. I am curious about what may come of it... and I'm trying to be brave about it. Perhaps this is why I am so attracted to making things with my hands: it is a message to myself to let myself be molded by whatever comes.

I kinda hope I get to be onion rings soon... but I'm open to anything, really.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One and a Half

One step at a time is good walking. --Proverb
I went to see my doctor on Tuesday, and she told me that I could take the boot cast off whenever I wanted to try to walk on it. I have been trying it out here and there at home, but I think I'll keep it on another week to protect it while I'm at work. I can sure feel how much weaker my right leg is now, but I think the few minutes of standing and the few steps here and there are enough of a challenge for it. I am too scared of making it worse before it gets better.

I'm grateful for the ability to move around just a bit more. Being able to move around a little more means that I feel like I can drink more water. Seriously: when you can't really walk, things like drinking water and going to the bathroom become things you consider carefully. The freedom to live life being a little less thirsty is one I will not take for granted again.

I did go back to the office on Wednesday, and I'll say this much: I am so sick and tired of explaining what happened to my foot. So. Sick. Of. It. I am glad I waited that long to go back, because trying to get around with a cast outside of your house is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. I find myself constantly knocking myself against doors and desks and stuff, and that would have been really painful if I'd gone back in the first week. People have been really helpful, but I'll be glad when things can go back to normal and I can stop explaining my cast and just get on with things.

For some reason, I was strangely motivated to try to finish my Chevron Lace Top as quickly as possible. I suppose it was because I'd decided I was going back to work on Wednesday, and I was so happy with having finished knitting the back of the top so quickly that I didn't want to lose momentum. I set myself up for some marathon knitting sessions. By Tuesday night, I'd knit the front up to the point where I had to divide the stitches for the neckline. Thursday night, it was blocking,

That's a lot of knitting, even for me.

While it blocked, I started working on another project: Romi Hill's Fuchsia Nouveau Petite. I'm using a skein of Americo Linen Cordon in turquoise blue that I had been pulling out of my stash to admire. I'm glad the yarn has some silk in it, because I had to rip out my stitches three times before I gave up trying to knit it from the written instructions and switched over to the charted version. I got right into the flow of it after that, but I had to put it on hold yesterday, because I realized I needed the needle to finish the ribbing on my top.

It seems that I am productive, even when I am broken.

I seamed the shoulders yesterday, knitted the ribbing, and seamed up the sides. As much as I hate knitting garments in pieces, I am quite happy with my seaming job. Can you see where the join is? (Say no.) I don't think I'll be doing it again right away, but I'm glad I haven't lost the skill:

It's finished now. The thing is: I'm not sure I like it. It turned out really long: a lot longer than the tops I normally wear. I decided I'd soak it again and spin it in the washing machine and then throw it in the dryer to see it if would shrink up a bit. It's not totally dry yet, but I don't think it's all that different. Maybe I'll feel differently once it's completely dry and I can try it on, but I don't really feel like trying on any clothes right now. I wasn't a fan of how the pattern was written - it's full of errors. If I could turn back the clock, I would have reduced the length by one whole pattern repeat.

Heh, if only I could turn back the clock...

It's a long weekend here. Someone asked me what I had planned for my weekend, and I replied, "I will be sitting." And that's what I've been doing, for the most part. I did go out yesterday for lunch with the hubby and then made the epic trek with my crutches through a parking lot, through the mall, and back again to pick up something I'd ordered. I did some standing to test my foot. And I made it through six minutes of an abdominal circuit on the floor. All that was exhausting, since that's the most I've moved in two weeks.

I guess once you start sitting, it's hard to stop.

Anyway, I feel like I have one and a half legs now, and that feels pretty good. Today, I crawled up and down the stairs thirty times for a little bit of exercise (if you've never done it, you'd be surprised at how much work it is). After that, I showered, crawled back down the stairs, and made a batch of Peasant Bread:

And then, I transferred some applesauce I defrosted from the freezer into a couple of jars. Yeah, it's pink. That's the colour it goes when you made applesauce with the skins. And I know it says home made on the jars, and I'd love to take the credit, but my friend's mom actually made it... which I guess means the jars are still accurate:

I chatted a bit with a friend of mine who is an ultra runner (one of those mad people who run 50+km in a race). He had a stress fracture in his foot a while back. It felt really nice to talk to someone who could understand how I'm feeling. He told me that when it healed up, it would be even stronger - fresh, new bone. I hope he's right.

For now, I am at one and half. Here's hoping I make it to one and five eighths soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Report From the Couch

Mere physical sitting is not enough. You have to sit carefully and attentively. Let your body and breathing sit. Let your mind and emotions sit. Let your blood circulation sit. Let everything sit. Then your sitting becomes indestructible, immovable. – Maezumi Roshi
It's just after a week since I broke my foot. It's better, but I've got a way to go before it's all healed. In the meantime, I sit.

I sit and sit and sit.

It's uncomfortable sitting around all day: you get sore hips, sore back, sore butt... It's a relief to stand up. Since my foot is a lot less swollen, I'm a bit braver about moving around without pain, but I refuse to put any significant weight on it until I know for sure it's healed enough for it. In the meantime, I've become an expert at navigating myself around the house on crutches. I'm grateful that all that time in the gym means that my upper body strength is really helping me support myself on them (thank goodness for dips). I get up the carpeted stairs on my hands and knees, and I come back down on my bum, sort of crab-walking my way down.

I've learned that pockets, straps, and loops are the way forward. I can make it from the kitchen to the couch with an apple and a wrapped sandwich in my pocket, and a cup of coffee in a sealed travel mug in my bag. And I can carry two skeins of yarn in each hand if I loop them onto my middle finger as I move around. And well, that's an important skill, yes?

My greatest idea was to use my old crochet bathroom mat on the tiled floor in the bathroom. It's very helpful at night if I need to use the bathroom. I don't trust myself to use my crutches when I'm that sleepy. I climb down off the bed, crawl along the carpet to the bathroom, then I kneel on the mat and pull myself along to get around.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, as they say.

One thing that happens when you're not very mobile is that you start to keep a lot of bits and pieces near you to save you the hassle of having to get up and bring them over to you. The things that have accumulated on the coffee table in front of me include:
  • my work laptop
  • cell phone (plugged into the work laptop to charge)
  • travel-size hand cream
  • lavender oil (for nap time)
  • glass of water
  • a hair elastic
  • set of crochet hooks
  • my darning pouch, complete with darning needles and scissors
  • a tape measure
Also strewn around me on the couch: a bamboo shawl, a sweater, and a pair of sweat pants, which I wear interchangeably with a pair of shorts, depending on the weather.

I also seem to be collecting skeins of yarn around me. I looked beside me yesterday and saw this:

Never hurts to be prepared, I guess.

I am working from home (and man, do I ever get a lot done when there's no one popping up in my door every fifteen minutes), but having no commute time and being unable to get out for walks or anything, I've got LOTS of spare time on my hands. I spent some time daydreaming about this skein of 100% silk laceweight yarn from Handmaiden. I think I've got a plan for it now:

And while I was sitting here, I looked up at my shelf and saw another skein that my friend, YarnKettle, sent me a while back. It's a Merino wool sock yarn from Cotton Ridge Farms. I never noticed how similar the colourway was. They could be sisters... or cousins, at the very least:

Great minds think alike, hey YarnKettle? Or maybe fools seldom differ...

I've been craving a lot of sweets these days, which is dangerous because I'm getting so little exercise. Yesterday, I decided to get up and make some Toasted Coconut Butter for the first time. I took some unsweetened coconut flakes and dry roasted them in a pan. It's trickier than is sounds: as soon as you notice it starts to turn brown you have to keep stirring and folding it, otherwise it'll burn. Even taking it off the heat to take this photo was taking a bit of a chance:

After that, it's a matter of putting it into a blender and pulsing it until it turns into a smooth liquid, which doesn't take long at all. About 200 grams made enough to almost fill a small Mason jar. After it cools, it sets into a spread, but I put it into the fridge where it hardened, and then I scraped some out to put on some yogurt later on. It's so good that it's probably better for me to keep it in the fridge. It means I have to work harder to get it out, otherwise I'd be eating this stuff by the spoonful:

And of course, the knitting. In the evenings, I knit and I knit and I knit. I finished the back of my cotton top already:

I decided to wet block it to make it easier to sew it up later. It turned out pretty huge, but it being cotton, I know that it'll spring back a bit after I take it off the boards. I'm happy with the length: I won't be forever tugging it down when I finally do get to wear it. I'm glad that I decided not to try to knit it all in one piece. This fabric will really need the stability of the shoulder and side seams once it's all finished:

And yes, I have a great deal of time to think. I think about all of the fun springtime things going on all around me: about the market I wanted to go to this weekend, the sunshine on the marina, the trail I like to run on Sunday mornings, my friends going out and about, and me, just sitting here. It's lonely and depressing. I know it's another reminder to slow down, but darn it all, I'm finished with reminders now - I've been sick, I've been burned out, and now I'm broken. I got it. Loud and clear.

All I can do, I suppose, is to try to practice some quiet meditation: to be fully here in the midst of all my frustration and loneliness, to face it and look at it and try to make sense of it. I've read about this kind of sitting a lot. I guess it's time for me to practice it.

On to week two.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

At Least I Got the Yarn

The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. --Leonardo da Vinci
So, I got a new accessory. Nice, isn't it? Sort of space-age, moon boot style. I had to do some special stuff to get it:

To explain, I must rewind back to Friday. I'd taken the day off so that the hubby and I could spend a weekend in Victoria for a short break. We had intended to go a couple of weeks ago, but I was ill and just didn't want to go. I was happy to be able to let him have a chance to get away.

We arrived, checked in to our hotel, and then went over to Victoria Public Market for lunch:

After that, he asked me what I wanted to do. I had spied Beehive Wool Shop across the street, which I'd never visited before, despite all our trips to the city. I went in while he waited outside enjoying the sunshine:

I found these little pretties, which are from Ancient Arts Yarns, from Alberta. I hadn't intended to buy anything, but the price was right and the yarn was lovely, and I thought it would be interesting to try to combine the two skeins:

They're slightly different: one is in a colourway called Inuit Art, and it has more grey and is generally darker. The other is called Great Blue Heron, which is the one I was attracted to first. I don't normally choose such speckley variegated yarns, but I was so drawn to these that I thought it was worth the gamble.

So, bag in hand, we set off back to towards the hotel to drop off our things and go for a walk in the park...

I don't remember exactly what happened, but I must have stepped on some uneven surface of the pavement, and turned my foot outwards. Pop, crunch, yelp... I hobbled over to the side and clutched the building in pain as the sweat started streaming down my face. I tried to walk a couple of steps, but I just couldn't. I managed to get into a shop, The Running Room, ironically, where the manager tried to help as much as he could. I bought some tape and bound it up a bit, and then the hubby went back to the hotel to get the car so I could somehow get back.

I iced it a bit, but then the hubby convinced me to go to a walk-in clinic, where I was then referred to the hospital for an x-ray.  The report read:
Subtle nondisplaced fracture is present at the proximal diaphysis of the right fifth metatarsal bone. The fracture extends from medial to lateral across the base of the fifth metatarsal bone and is nondisplaced.
So, I broke my foot. Not the whole foot, just the bone that attaches the pinky toe to the ankle. That one. And it's not super-broken. It's "subtle." A crack.

I wish I could say the words I said when I hurt it were subtle.

Apart from the pain, I felt terrible. I still do. If I'd only worn runners this wouldn't have happened. I wore low, half-inch wedge sandals... I never dreamed that turning my foot in them would make this happen. And I feel so bad that our weekend was cut short, after spending only a couple of hours there, and then many more hours with doctors and hospitals and pharmacies and buying air casts and crutches and all that. I feel bad that the hubby didn't get his time away. And this stuff does not happen to me. I have so many things to do. Four to six weeks is a long time to wait.

I guess I'm not done feeling sorry for myself.

So, for Mother's Day, I gave my mom a bunch of worry by telling her I'd hurt myself. I suppose that's nothing new: I think that, once you have children, worry is a way of life. I don't even like to tell her when I have a cold. I figured this one would be a tough one to camouflage. Sorry, Mom.

I'm working from home now for the next week or so. I like being at home: it's my favourite place to spend a day off, but this is not how I hoped to get more time at home. I'm learning about all the things that are more difficult when you are on crutches, which I think we all know in principle, but when you actually have to do it, man is it hard. My left leg is going to be an awesome, muscled sculpture, by the time this is all healed.

I guess I have some time now to work on my current knitting project, which has not entailed a lot of actual knitting thus far. I'm making this top from Sirdar's Summer Color Collection, but I was having a lot of trouble reading the pattern since the lace pattern is written out, not charted. I can usually get by with the written patterns, but I was going cross-eyed trying to figure out what was going on. Last week, my pattern looked like this: 

I was getting it ready to convert into a chart using Stitch Fiddle's Free Online Chart Maker. I entered it in last night (I did it while watching The Revenant, which has its own share of crunched up bones). It's a really good tool, because if your pattern is symmetrical, you copy the first half and then tell it to mirror the stitches on the other half. It now looks like this:

It took me ages, but I feel so much better having done it. Not only can I see what it's supposed to look like, but I now know the stitch pattern so well that I can mostly eyeball it while knitting. And now that I've done the chart, I've managed to knit a fairly decent panel, with relative ease:

Patience does pay off, it seems.

I guess I'm going to have lots of opportunity to cultivate patience now with this foot. I don't want to make it worse, but man do I want it to be better. For now, it'll be a lot of resting, drinking milk, taking my vitamins, and not trying to go up and down the stairs too much. I think I might just camp out on the couch...

... which, come to think of it, given the name of this blog, might not be such a bad place to be. Off to do more sitting. Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Knitting Because I Have the Yarn

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. -- Chinese proverb
I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of birdsong outside my window. It was early: about 5:00am, which is the usual time I wake up during the work week. I yawned and settled myself back down to rest some more, listening to the birds. Out of nowhere, I thought, "I wonder who decides which bird is going to sing first? Is there a 'morning bird' that springs off his perch and bursts into song and annoys the other birds? Or do they take turns? And if they take turns, how does that bird wake himself up? If he's late, are the rest of the birds thrown off?"

Yes: Saturday morning thoughts by Adriene. Welcome to my head.

I'm feeling a bit more like myself these days. My headcold has been reduced to a niggling cough that flares up from time to time. I'm slowly but surely finding my routine again, but man, is it hard to get back to the gym after being off for nearly two weeks. It's like I'm carving out two new sets of lungs from a block of wood in my chest. It's getting easier, but I'm also trying to be patient with myself... there's no point pushing myself so hard that I catch another bug.

My progress has been stalled by a bout of tendonitis in my right foot, which I first had last year when I was training for my half marathon. It irked me that it has flared up again, but it dawned on me the other day that I'm not training for anything right now, and so I've got all the time in the world to let it heal. And it occurred to me that it's been a long time since I've exercised without a race in mind. It feels good to work out for the sake of staying fit... to be outside on the trail for the sake of enjoying the trail...

... like a bird that sings because it has a song.

I'm finally getting the chance to take photos of my 2Hundert shawl. I pulled it off the blocking boards last Sunday evening, and I've been admiring it ever since:

I'm very, very pleased with how the cast off turned out. I really wanted to block a single point into the edge of each cable. I changed the purl stitches in the last chart of the pattern to knit stitches, and I placed the beads along that column of stitches in an attempt to create a bit of weight for the points to last:

And I'm particularly pleased with the size of the final product, even if I didn't manage to use up all of the yarn.

This week, I messed around with another little project. I've been thinking of something to make and sell as a fundraiser for the Big Bike Event for the Heart and Stroke Foundation that I'm taking part in at the end of May. I thought, "I bet it would be cute if I could make a bunch of little stuffed hearts with faces on them?"

The result was underwhelming, and it took way too long to make them a worthwhile endeavour. I need something that I can crank out a bunch of if I'm going to make this idea work. Good thing I have a back up fundraising idea on the go right now. Back to the drawing board for this one:

Today, I'm nursing my sore foot after a gentle workout at the gym this morning. I made myself a nice little lunch of medium-boiled eggs on an English muffin, with a little bit of Wensleydale cheese, some freshly chopping parsley from my CSA box, and some grape tomatoes. I even have the obligatory hipster Mason jar drink (a tincture made of dandelion tea, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and lots of water):

And, while I'm trying to figure out another fundraising idea, I've started working on a new, lacy summer top out of some cotton that I've had for a while now. I got it so long ago that I nearly forgot I had it. I got it back when I had another cold a couple of years ago. Digging it out now just seems appropriate. I have about eleven 50g balls of it, so I think I have enough. I have a feeling it's going to be a heck of a knit, because:

  1. I didn't knit a gauge swatch. I hate swatching over a lace, and this pattern doesn't have a chart. I'm just going to wing it.
  2. I've had this yarn so long that it's discontinued. I've got to get it right because I won't be able to get another ball. Yes, Adriene loves her discontinued yarns.

I'm not all that worried about it. I mean, what's the point? I've been down this might-run-out-of-yarn road before, and so far, I haven't died from it. I may as well knit it for the challenge of making it work.

I can be a knitter that knits because I have the yarn. Heh, how about that?

Happy weekend!