Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So I'm at the barn yesterday visiting my long-lost horses... I'm at the barn a whole 10 minutes. I enter the tack room to discover that some newcomer has usurped my position. Apparently, the dust on my saddle was a signal to this person that the owner of the saddle (me) must not ever really use it, and probably doesn't actually come to the barn, therefore the owner (me) won't even notice that the saddle has been moved and the tack box shoved rudely out of the way of the newcomer's e-NOR-mous monstrosity of a tack trunk, therefore the newcomer automatically has the right, without asking, to relocate the owner's (MY) stuff as they see fit.

This involved moving my 27-pound western saddle from the lower rack (where I had it because it's too heavy to lift otherwise and because I actually like not having back trouble) to the rack above and putting their own saddle on MY rack.

OK. So I was a little bit busy this past summer taking care of my parents... but I am NOT one of those once-annual boarders (the ones who only come out on vaccination day and otherwise forget they even have horses) and I do NOT appreciate having my stuff messed with and nobody saying anything to me about it.

I tracked down the barn manager and politely inquired about the relocation that had been done. I was given a new spot to move to with a lower rack (the barn manager is nice and understood the summer I'd had). Thus began the process of moving my stuff to the new spot. This meant getting the 27-pound saddle off of the high rack above my head without having it land on my head. I lifted it up with a groan. I prepared to hoist it. I hoisted and lost my grip on it.

Twenty-seven pounds of leather and wood came crashing down on my right index finger, trapping it between the saddle and the 2x4 that served as a saddle rack.

All I can say is OUCH.

Being a true cowgirl, I checked it out to make sure it worked (it did... mostly), got some ice, and went on about moving my stuff then spent the afternoon playing with one of my horses. On the upside, having to behave so gingerly with that finger really improved my lightness when Porcupining my horse at Phase One.

I've no idea if it's okay or not. I'm playing it by ear. It doesn't hurt unless I use it (so, don't use it, ha ha) but it looks bad and it isn't working quite right (typing this is a real bear). Needless to say, all knitting is temporarily suspended (and just when I finally get on the Grey's KAL) until finger notice. Uh, further notice.


Saturday, October 28, 2006


Nothing much to report, really. Spent the day re-learning how to weave at a two-day weaving class at my LYS. I'd forgotten how much I love the process--even the preliminaries (winding the warp, dressing the loom) were enjoyable. We got as far as dressing the loom and doing tie-ups. Tomorrow, we weave. Yay!

I splurged and outfitted my needle stash with Crystal Palace 12" straights in every size from 5 to 15. I just love these needles. I may have several sets of brand-new never-used Brittanys on eBay shortly. (My LYS has a no-return policy on needles to prevent "borrowers"--you know: those people who buy needles, use them for one project, then return them "unused" when the project is finished. I totally understand. However, there should be some leeway for "ooops, I really do not like these needles". Perhaps an exchange?)

This pattern appeared in Fall 06's Vogue Knit.1.

I really like it. The magazine pushes Lion Brand Yarn, which is fine. I picked up four skeins of Homespun™ at JoAnn's but chose Barrington rather than the Deco off white as pictured. This swatch doesn't show the colors that well. It's deep violet with flecks of lavender, teal, fuschia, grey, and kind of a tealy-green. It's not striping yarn, it's more of a heather.

The only issue I have is with their sizing. Since when is an XL for a 39" bust? I swatched for gauge. They recommend size 10.5 needles. I'm using 15s and knitting loose. I need the extra 8 inches. (I actually have cleavage.)

Maybe it's not adult XL. Maybe it's teenager XL, which would explain a lot.

Anyway, between this, the CPH, the weaving and another sock to match the one lone TylerSox, I'm up to my eyeballs in projects.

On THAT note...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Confirmed Fiber Geek

Big news.

I've added my own Knitter's Geek Code Block at the bottom of this blog. Check it out!

Want your own Geek Code? Learn how here at Knitty.com.

That's all... resume normal blogreading.

Doing the Math

My needles arrived! *doing happy dance* I LOVE Crystal Palace Bamboo's. I know there are Addi Turbo fans out there that believe they can't get up the speed on wood or bamboo, but I beg to differ. CP's Bamboo needles are polished, unlike other brands that are more "natural". The polish provides enough slickness and speed to make the wool fly.

Armed with my new 35" circulars, I was able to return to the CPH project, with a few changes. I experimented with my goofy idea and found it less than satisfactory. I'm inexperienced with intarsia, fair isle and entrelac (ie multiple color stranding) which probably has something to do with the poor outcome. The center join produced a ridge that would sit right on the backbone... not too comfy; and casting on in two colors (off the top of my head) was a nightmare that didn't look consistent. So I abandoned that idea.

But Stacee commented on the CPH KAL website and suggested I try knitting it with two balls of yarn and just carry it up the side.

I've decided to go one step further. Muhwahahahaaaa!

Rather than switching off every two rows, I'm going to use three balls of yarn. Because the balls vary in the way the colors are wrapped, it provides more variety (that was redundant, but bear with). I will label them A, B and C. Then, I'll base the switching on the Fibonacci Series. In brief, the Fibonacci Series is a mathematical equation. It's a string of numbers where each number is the sum of the previous two, starting with 0 and 1. For example:


...and so on. The series in this case would be:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...

Obviously I won't have 0 rows. ;-)

If 1=2 rows, then:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13... translates to

0, 2, 2, 4, 6, 10, 16, 26...

I'd probably want to stick with the smaller numbers to avoid stripes (that's the whole idea anyway, to get a gradual blend rather than noticeable stripes). So my smaller series might be 2, 2, 4, 6, and maybe 10 (1, 1, 2, 3, 5).

I would switch off the balls in order A, B, C. But I do not have to use the Fibonacci Series in order--any combination of those specific numbers is fine. Therefore:

2 rows A
2 rows B
10 rows C
6 rows A
4 rows B
2 rows C
4 rows A
4 rows B
2 rows C

...and so on, in no particular order. And to think, I once thought I hated math. Well, OK, I guess I do, but I'm better at it now than I used to be.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Grey's Anatomy/ER night... time to put down the CPH and pick up the KnitGrey's project (even though for some unknown reason, I have yet to receive word on my acceptance to the KAL).

Oh. Wait. Apparently Grey's AND ER are repeats tonight. *siiiiigggghhhhhh* Oh, well. Netflix sent me "Lost in Translation". Suppose I can watch that.


While I wait for my needles to arrive in the mail... they were supposed to be here yesterday grrr. Oh, well. Probably this afternoon when the mail arrives (15 hours from now). I should not complain since the priority mail shipping was free.

I have some photographs of the two started CPH's to share. Because I wasn't sure about knitting on circulars, I kept the original I'd started on the straight needles in case I changed my mind about the circulars.

Doesn't this look like a smiley face?

Comparison side-by-side

The original colorway on straights

The colorway on circulars

On the circulars, it's a bit more stripey than I wanted. The original colorway really strikes me. If I went with straights instead of circulars, when I knit the fronts the colorway will be even more gradual, which I think I'd really like. Hence...

I'm beginning to think I should set aside the fancy colorway yarn (for now) and either

  • knit up the first CPH on circulars but in a solid until I get the hang of it. If I rush this one and mess up the colorway, I'll be so sad. Or,

  • do the crazy thing I thought of earlier—knitting the back off of two similarly-wound balls and somehow joining/crossing them in the middle so the colorways match the fronts.

My thought was, start the row with Ball #1, knit to the center back, then pick up Ball #2, knit to the end of the row. Turn the work. Knit to the center back with ball #2, pick up Ball #1, knit to the end of the row. Repeat. To join the yarns, I'd use the technique for joining a new yarn (stick the needle in the stitch, drop the first working strand, pick up the second working strand, knit the stitch with that strand, carry on). It would weave them together as they go.

That, or do it entirely in the round with steeks—but steeks are a horse of a different color and I don't want to make this too complicated! (Steeks, as I understand it, involve cutting down the center front upon completion. Sorry, but that terrifies me! I know others do it without consequence, but I have enough going on with this one to worry about that.)

More progress, this time for Socktoberfest. Another sock is born! I call this one Tyler Sox because the colors on the skein reminded me of one of my cat herd.

The Tyler Sox #1...

...and the cat who inspired the name.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

WHAT THE...?!?

... happened to Blogger today? I nearly stroked out when I tried to visit my blogs (both of them) and received this:

Oh, well. It's back to normal now and apparently everything is still intact. Blogger's been a bit iffy lately. I'm comfortable here and would hate to have to move on, but this is the third bit of weirdness this week. If it keeps up, I'm out of here. I'll find a new home in the blogosphere.

Since there is nothing new to report, it's imperative that I place the requisite cat photo here. I give you Tyler:

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

The three skeins of Blauband have arrived. There is enough for two pair of socks in this color (green/white/black/grey). If it becomes that rare, I can always put two of them on eBay.

Today's lesson in frustration: shorter DPNs are better for socks of finer gauge yarn. Seven inchers have so much needle sticking out over the edge that it's simply obnoxious.

I had the foresight last week to buy 0's, 1's and 2's in seven- and five-inch lengths (DPNs). Today I ordered yet another supply of needles. Five inch DPNs in 3 and 4, and 35-inch Crystal Palace circulars in 10 and 8 for the CPH sweater.

Today I discovered my new favorite online shop. The Knitting Shack in Wyoming, Michigan. They have a good online selection of the better yarns and needles, and the best part is, FREE SHIPPING. PayPal didn't include shipping in the total. I emailed the shop regarding my order and said that since I was in the middle of the project I was hoping to get the needles faster than US ground and was concerned that I hadn't been charged shipping. I made certain they understood I wanted to pay for shipping. They emailed back and said nope, we offer free shipping and it's going out Priority Mail so you'll have it Wednesday.

Who said Customer Service was dead? *grin*

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thank You, Tienne!

A huge shout-out to Tienne ("Tienne Knits") for responding to me via the CPH KAL regarding my issue with stripe mismatch on the colorway. (Sounds like a foreign language, doesn't it?) She suggested knitting the CPH in the round--left front, back, right front all on one circular needle--rather than in pieces so the colorway would continue across the entire piece.

BRILLIANT. Why did I not think of it? Probably because I began the thing in the wee hours when the brain was shut off. ;-) No, honestly, I'd heard of people who knit larger garments in the round, but I've never been a huge fan of circulars. I love DPNs, they are another story. Well, what the hey. I figured out how much to cast on and grabbed my size 8 circular 29" Clovers.

My deduction? It will definitely solve the striping issue. But the ribbing is taking twice as long to do! Then again... no seaming. No extra cast ons for other pieces. One piece and it's ready for sleeves and hood. I just might like this circular needle thing! Pix to come... I've also started yet another pair of socks for Socktoberfest.

It's DH/B&S night. (Desperate Housewives/Brothers&Sisters) Must run now...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Must Stripes Match? (CPH Colorway)

CPH stands for Central Park Hoodie (see "Stash Time"), and yes, I, too, have succumbed to the call of the CPH as have a bajillion other knitters throughout the knitblog-world. For the uninitiated, the CPH is a project from the Fall 2006 KnitScene magazine that has captured everyone's interest. Normally, I am one to buck trends and gallop to the beat of my own drummer, but I couldn't resist this.

Last week, I joined the CPH KAL. It's my first official KAL, though I've submitted to the KnitGrey's KAL and Socktoberfest. (Yoohoo... sign me up, please? Pretty please?) I also visited my LYS, Fiberworks in Toledo, for yarn and more needles (one can never have enough, can one?). Rather than blab on about it, let me SHOW you...

Here's the yarn (yes, the colorway does vary):

Here's the first four inches of ribbing and one round of cable pattern that I did last night on the back of the CPH. Yes, I'm using 12-inch needles because that's the longest available bamboo needle Crystal Palace makes:

Here's a close-up so you can see the really cool color shifts:

And here's my question for you expert knitters out there...(those of you on the CPH KAL might recognize this question and post, sorry)

I knew the colors would shift. I'm okay with that. What I failed to remember when I cast on for the back was that the back is twice as long as the front pieces. The striping will be completely different on the back than on the front--IF I continue on this way. I know that if I start each front panel using balls that are wound similarly (meaning the center pull on both is browns, outside is blues), they'll resemble each other. So. Do I resign myself to having mismatched "striping"? Or, can I resolve the issue on the back so that the stripes "match"?

Here's my initial thought, tell me if I'm on target. I could use two similarly-wound balls to knit the back. I could:

--knit the first half of the stitches with one ball, then pickup and knit with ball #2 to the end of the row.
--knit back with ball #2 to the center, pickup and finish row two with Ball #1.
--repeat, repeat, repeat

Sounds like a huge PITA, but would that solve the issue? 'Spose the only way to find out is to try it. *SIGH* It knits up rather fast so I won't lose that much time on it.

Off to knit. I will bring the results of my experiment when I return.

Project Updates (or, Bad Sox is Better Than No Sox At All)

I'm prone to rambling on and on. I am aware of this. I'm here to provide visual relief.

Bad Sox, Bad!
These are the sox I began while Mother was in the hospital. The LEFT sock was the first of the pair and was abandoned at the end because it was evident it was destined for frogville. My feet are NOT big. They are 7.5-8, AAAA. Yes. Narrow as all get out. These would fit my horse. Seriously. The RIGHT sock was my attempt at smaller needles. Apparently, size 5s weren't small enough (Leftie was knit on 6s). Plus it bulged at the join of the ankle and foot. I started it before Mother died and finished afterwards.

The Key to Better Sox
These fit!

Same yarn, different colorway (Patons SWS, which stands for Soy Wool Stripes). Soy! I eat it AND wear it! How odd. So I went down to 4s after doing some swatching and calculating. This was, of course, BEFORE I broke down and ordered Simply Socks and Sensational Socks. I always try to go it alone before asking for advice, LOL! I was following a pattern that had me turn the heel, then do short-row decreases to form the gusset, as follows:

K one round.
Next Round:
First needle—K across to LAST 3 STS, K2tog, K1.
Second needle—K24
Third needle—K1, SSK, K to end.
Repeat last TWO rounds until 48 sts remain.

I goofed. I did one round of knit plain, then 12 rounds of decreases without the knit round between them. And guess what?


This time, the blue and tan sock molded to my foot as if it were made for me. Uh, as I suppose it was, LOL! I knit on, finished the sock. One small problem: it wasn't exactly short, but just not quite as roomy at the toe as I like. I analyzed it and decided to go another quarter inch or so before decreasing for the toe on Sock #2, and VOILA. A sock that fits.

See the difference between Sox #1 & 2, and Sox #3?

Sock Fetish, or How I Spent My Inheritance (j/k)

Well, Michael's WAS having a sale... this was my post-funeral acquisition:

And these are my random skeins. On LEFT is a skein of Patons KroySocks in Krazy Stripes. On RIGHT is my lonely skein of Froehlich Wolle Blauband Jacquard #7821. It's enough for one sock. Froehlich Wolle is no longer producing yarn. This has been discontinued. Of course, that just makes it all that more appealing. :-) Thank God for the web, because I was able to locate its long-lost cousin vacationing at a yarn shop in Minnesota, and it's on its way home to us now.

Looks like the sock blockers I ordered will be coming in handy. I suppose it's time to dig out Priscilla's Dream Socks and get started, now that I'm all warmed up.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

That Darned Color Quiz

Another blog mentioned the infamous Color Quiz. By clicking on colors in no particular order, the quiz attempts to determine your mindset at the moment.

Let's just say, it's frighteningly on target. So that you don't have to click-through, I've gone ahead and copied my results below the link.

ColorQuiz.comKnittyBanter took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Longs for a tender and sympathetic bond and for a ..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Your Existing Situation
Defensive. Feels her position is threatened or inadequately established. Determined to pursue her objectives despite the anxiety induced by opposition.

Your Stress Sources
Eager to make a good impression, but worried and doubtful about the likelihood of succeeding. Feels that she has a right to anything she might hope for, and becomes helpless and distressed when circumstances go against her. Finds the mere possibility of failure most upsetting and this can even lead to nervous prostration. Sees herself as a 'victim' who has been misled and abused, mistakes this dramatization for reality and tries to convince herself that her failure to achieve standing and recognition is the fault of others.

Your Restrained Characteristics
Circumstances force her to compromise and to forgo some pleasures for the time being. Capable of achieving physical satisfaction through sexual activity.

Your Desired Objective
Longs for a tender and sympathetic bond and for a situation of idealized harmony. Has an imperative need for tenderness and affection. Susceptible to anything aesthetic.

Your Actual Problem
Disappointment and the fear that there is no point in formulating fresh goals have led to anxiety, and she is distressed by the lack of any close and understanding relationship. She attempts to escape into a substitute world in which things are more nearly as she desires them to be.

Your Actual Problem #2
Depleted vitality has created an intolerance for any further stimulation, or demands on her resources. This feeling of powerlessness subjects her to agitation and acute distress. She attempts to escape into a substitute world in which things are more nearly as she desires them to be.

Hmmm. Could that "substitute world" be: 1) a yarn shop; 2) the blogging world; 3) knitting binges or 4) too much TV? At least they have the "physical satisfaction through S.E.X." right (Stash Enhancement eXchange, I keep tellin' ya!).

Stash Time

Well, it was only supposed to be a needle run. It turned into full-on S.E.X. (Wow. That should get some interesting Google hits! All I'm missing is the Rock N Roll.)

I went to my LYS, Fiberworks Knitting & Weaving, and picked up some Brittany DPNs. Of course, they were all out of Size 2 and the order will arrive tomorrow. :-/ They had Lantern Moons, and I'm drooling over the Rosewood, but they did not have the smaller sizes in stock. So I satsified the tiny needle urge with some 0's, 1's, and 2.5's. That'll hold me for a day or so, LOL.

Grabbed the Fall KnitScene with the ever-popular Central Park Hoodie (CPH) pattern, finally laid my hands on Classic Elite's Tweed Four pattern book (I lust after the Cabled Pullover—what is it about twisty windy knitting that attracts me so?), and inquired about the yarn for the CPH. LYS did not carry the recommended yarn (Tahki Yarns Donegal Tweed). A swatch book told me why. To me, it felt like rug yarn! Itchy and scratchy and I'm not talking South Park here, I'm all about Central Park, right? So we began to look for a substitute.

I wanted something tweedy or heathery—in other words, not solid. I get bored with solid. My personal vision of Hell would be knitting a plain white solid 100% wool or 100% cotton sweater—no blends of silk, mohair, or anything else—in pure stockinette stitch on small needles. (For the non-knitters reading this, if there are any, hee hee, that means knit one row, purl the next, repeat, and small needles means lots and lots and lots of tiny little stitches.) BORRRRRing!!!

But I digress.

After scouring the stock on hand and not quite "feeling" it, the LYS fella remembered a brand new box had arrived from Cascade that afternoon and they hadn't opened it yet. Like kids at Christmas, we pulled it open. And that's when I found IT.

Di.Ve Autunno!

No, I have no idea what that translates to, but the yarn is amazing! Soft, slightly shiny, and it's a colorway. I chose #25741 in teal and brown. It will gradually modulate between the colors as I go. I cannot WAIT to delve into this. It almost makes me want to stop sock knitting for awhile.

I also discovered, and forgive me if I'm way behind, Jacquard sock yarn. I found a lonely skein of Froehlich Wolle Blauband Jacquard #7821 (green, charcoal, grey, white), which is only enough for one sock. We searched the bins high and low, but could not locate its friend. Sadly, I put it back. A new friend cannot be ordered because the company no longer produces the yarn. Rumor has it Cascade has bought the dye formulas and will be bringing it back later, but for now, too bad so sad, poor lonely little skein.

Of course I turned to the internet, and I ordered two skeins from A Stitcher's Haven.

Then I signed myself up for a two-day weaving class and bought the yarn for the scarf project.

Oh, my. What have I done? LOL!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Hurrah! Bamboo DPNs come as small as Size 1! And Yarn Market has Lantern Moon DPNs in Rosewood, Ebony and Blonde! Oh, the joy...

NOW the new question is: do I drop $40 on Size 1 and 2 Lantern Moons, or go with Takumi's for under $10?

HMMMMmmmm.... OH CRUNCH, Desperate Housewives is on! Gotta run!

Whadda Ya Mean, It's Gonna Rain All Week?

According to the Weather Channel, all the sunshine is leaving and it will rain all week.

How depressing!

Then again, it's a great excuse to stay inside and KNIT.

What's that you say? Chores? Cleaning? Sorting through Mom and Dad's things? Digging out the rest of their tax information that didn't make it to the accountant's? Ahhh, that can wait. :-) I have all winter to putter around the house. Fall is horseback riding weather (except when it RAINS), and I haven't gotten to do nearly enough of that this year. But when weather does not permit, it's off to the needles I go.

I nearly finished the first of my "real" socks (meaning, knit at the gauge and size that actually fits my foot), then realized upon trying it on that it was too short. Got out the next size smaller DPNs. Thanks to a cool trick I picked up from I don't know where, I picked up all the stitches below where the toe decrease began, frogged it back, and as soon as I leave this blog, I'm going to reknit and add a few more rows before decreasing. I'll have barely enough yarn to finish.

Then the question is: do I start on Sock #2 of the pair, or move on to Priscilla's Dream Socks for Socktoberfest? The lavender yarn has been calling me... but I'll be on Size 2 aluminums. Ick. I've decided I much prefer Bamboo now. Do Bamboo DPNs come in a Size 2? Must search...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Life, Apparently, Goes On

Well, it has been two weeks since my vigil with Mother. The house is empty, all the relatives have left, the Will has been read, and I'm left alone to sort out the remains and residue of two very long and productive lives. Along the way, I'm expected to sort out my own life.

Knitting content: I finished the first sock, which was too large. I did some calculations, knit a second sock on smaller needles, and finished it after Mother died. Michael's was having a sale on the SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) so I splurged and got enough for several more socks. I started another one on even smaller aluminum needles. Ick. Yesterday I invested in three sets of bamboo DPNs in sizes 5, 4 and 3. Much happier now. Pictures to follow.

Non-Knitting Content Continued...Being rendered an orphan at 43 is tough enough without also adding unemployment and lack of direction to the mix. I've also never married and have no children to speak of, other than the furry and hoofed ones. So, where do I go from here?

Last year at this time, I was taking classes at my alma mater, Bowling Green State University. I was toying with the idea of getting an MBA "because it made sense". I have a degree in Graphic Design. Following that up with an MBA, especially with a self-made cognate in Entrepreneurship (BGSU offers a minor), meant I might be better-equipped to run my own design firm or be a creative director.

IF that was what I wanted to do.

Trouble is, it isn't what I want to do. I'm not really sure what I want to be now that I've been forced to grow up, ha ha, but I know that my stint in the commercial art world is not something I wish to repeat... unless I have to.

My college career began in Graphic Design. I wanted to major in Art, but also wanted to be employable. :-) My Mother was a gifted watercolorist who had a degree in Art Education; my sister paints but chose to pursue psychology; my elder niece is a phenomenal ceramicist with two Masters (Fine Art and Art Ed) married to an equally-talented painter (with a Masters and currently on the faculty at a major university in Indiana). For years I heard stories that lead me to believe that if one majors in Art, one will surely starve unless one is lucky enough to snag one of the few-and-far-between college faculty positions or has capabilities in other areas (such as shoe repair, in my niece's case) or, even less likely, manages to marry well (as my Mother did).

So I took the safe road, sold out and went commercial.

Make no mistake—I enjoy the creative process and I'm computer friendly, but the deadlines, the stress, the 80-hour mandatory work weeks, the impossibility of making the clients happy... that I can do without. I hate wearing business clothes, I don't fit the profile of the hip young black rimmed clunky heels designer, and I can't stand being strapped to a computer 24/7 without sunlight or fresh air. Plus it saddens me to think that I could pour my heart and soul into a design, knowing that when the brochure or direct mailer arrives in the hands of the recipient, it will receive a perfunctory glance before being tossed in the wastebasket, headed for its ultimate destination: the landfill or, if really lucky, the recycling plant.

I started out as a Design major. We had to take art electives. I chose painting, drawing and fibers. I LOVED FIBERS. I fell in love with weaving. I spent hours on the weekends weaving far more scarves than the course required. I was lost in bliss tie-dyeing and handpainting silk. I re-declared my major as fibers.

My parents were "over-joyed" (thank you, Van Halen).

I was happily pursuing my bliss when my family stopped me in my tracks, asking me, "well, gee that's nice, but... what can you DO with a fibers degree?"

Er.... open a yarn store? Teach? ...(starve?)

After more tales of the difficulty my relatives were having making ends meet as artists, I panicked, and changed my major back to design.

So. Here I am. Orphaned, re-evaluating my life, longing for the soft whoosh and clank of the beater; yearning for the hypnotic rhythm of pressing the treadle... throwing the heddle... pulling the beater... repeat...; aching to put brush to silk and watch miracles happen; catching myself dreaming of a little farm in the country with a huge room filled with yarn, fabric, dye pots, a 48-inch floor loom, a spinning wheel, a sewing machine, a pasture full of llamas, sheep, angora goats and of course my two horses...

I love the academic atmosphere of the college campus, the spirited conversations, the urge to learn, the new ideas... maybe if I'm passionate about it, I would enjoy teaching at the college level. I warm to the idea—then like ice-cold water being thrown on me, the fear rises: "...but it's impossible to find a teaching position, you'll have to work at Wendy's to support yourself!"

But now IS the time. The only blessing in my parents' deaths is that they have left me with a solid foundation and a starting point. There is enough money to seed my dreams—if only I can figure out WHAT the dreams are!

And so, as I work on ribbing yet another sock top, I ponder. With each stitch, I'm sorting through my yearnings, past and present, comparing and contrasting, trying to visualize The Rest Of My Life—which began the day my Mother left me forever.

I knit, I purl, I ponder. Repeat as established.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sad News

My upbeat, positive, hopeful post from the 22nd was premature.

My beloved Mother passed away Saturday, September 30, 2006, at 11:42 AM EST. I have lost my best friend and I am devastated.

Sunday the 24th, I went back to church for the first time in years, and met the new interim pastor.

Because she was having so much trouble with food, it was suggested we try the feeding tube. The doctor also wanted to drain fluid off of her right lung, requiring a Jackson Pratt or JP tube in her chest. On Monday, she had the procedures. Pastor came in to visit with Mother and pray over her before the procedure. The surgery went very well. She was out of surgery in half the time, placement was good, and she was out of recovery quickly. She had some pain, of course, but was otherwise fine. They drained a quart of fluid off her lung in surgery and more kept coming out. All vitals good, lungs clearing up. But she was not allowed anything by mouth or feeding tube until the next day, only swabs to rehydrate her mouth. The last meal she'd eaten and kept down was Sunday's breakfast. After Thursday's good eating, she failed to keep down anything Friday or Saturday or the rest of Sunday. She couldn't eat Monday because of the surgery. And she was already bone thin.

Tuesday was harder because of the pain. The doctor said to expect it to be worse the second day. She was allowed ice chips.

Wednesday, she was finally allowed clear liquids by mouth. She ate broth, jello, grape juice and water, kept it all down, and was horribly crabby, lashing out at everyone, including me. She was even snarky with the Pastor when he arrived! Later that evening I noticed she seemed confused. She was convinced we were in Southern Ohio (where she grew up), not Northern Ohio (where she's lived the past 48 years). She also was very adamant about going home RIGHT NOW and very upset with me because I "had to have it my way all the time" and was "refusing to take her home". This troubled me, because Dad had the same confusion, agitation, and demands to go home the night before he died (this June). Mother's blood pressure was also a little low (70s-80s) and her urine output was down a bit. They were treating her for it.

Thursday, she was no longer crabby, but weaker. She was having a lot of pain in her stomach that morphine wasn't diminishing anymore. She ate... reluctantly. Most of it stayed down. They determined the tube was ready to go, and began feedings. She was still draining quite a bit from the JP. Her urine output and BP were still questionable, but they were hopeful. I stayed for quite awhile and worked on knitting a sock while she dozed off and on. The doctor was pretty positive that she could turn around and possibly go home the following week, but may need to recuperate in a nursing home for a couple of weeks. I was worried about her weakeness and confusion, but trusted the doctor's words.

I went home and did a lot more praying.

Friday morning, I went back to the hospital. I don't know what I expected to find; we'd obviously survived the night because no phone calls interrupted my sleep. She was even weaker. Having difficulty breathing. She said to me "help me! I can't breathe like this much longer!" They tried a low dose of Valium to relax her but it didn't work. She was refusing food. Her urine output was really low, her BP hadn't come up, she was more confused, and she was beginning to slur her speech. She did manage to sit up in the chair for a bit. At first she wasn't sure she could do it and almost decided not to. I remember thinking "It may be the last time you sit in a chair, you might as well try". Then I shook myself to reject that thought. Reverted to "she'll pull through, she's coming back home next week".

As the day wore on, she began to decline. She eventually stopped communicating with me altogether. I was very glad that something had moved me to tell her the last few things I needed to tell her while she was able to understand and communicate back to me. Just before she lost the ability to communicate (by sunset), the nurses told me if we wanted to continue to try to save her, she'd have to move into ICU. I said "but I won't be able to sit with her!" because they only allow brief visits (remembered from Dad's short stay in ICU this summer). They insisted it was important if I wanted her to live. They needed to take care of her. I began to sob. I was so upset. Mother was still present and my sobbing upset her. She looked at me with such pain in her eyes and feebly said "Oh, honey..."

The pastor came when I called and arrived before she went to ICU. He prayed over Mother and they took her away. He sat with me in the waiting room for a long time talking with me about God and Heaven and God's Will and death and my future and was very reassuring. The ICU nurse came out to tell me we could go in--without restrictions on time. They set up chairs for us and we sat with her. I thought she was sleeping so I let her rest while I knit my sock. The pastor went on home. Mother's vitals were otherwise OK except for the BP. Oxygen at 100% with just a nasal tube, heart rate a little fast but steady and strong, acceptable respiration rate. The only worries were her kidneys, her BP, and her elevated temperature (100). They had her on five different IV drips addressing possible infections as well as the kidneys and BP. After a while, I realized that she wasn't responding to my voice anymore, not even with grunts, and was staring off into space without blinking. I stopped knitting and moved to her other side so I could hold her hand and watch the monitors.

Then it began.

Her BP started to fluctuate wildly. It would be 70/44, then 50/30, then 33/23... then 90/45. The highest it went was 126/70. Every time it dropped, I gave her a pep talk. Every time it rose, I cheered her on. Her heart rate began to come down one beat at a time, slowly easing from 130 to 120 to 110... 109... 108... hovering and fluctuating slightly. Her oxygen level dropped to 98% and held for awhile. Then it dropped to 95%. Then 90%. They added a rebreather mask to the oxygen combination. Her oxygen went back up. For awhile.

Then it began to drop again. Her BP was by now unable to stay above 50/30. Her heart had slowed to 105. Her respirations slowed from 22 to 11. By sunrise, the nurse said it was nearly time to intubate her, if I wanted to do that. I had to have the DNR discussion. Mother had a Living Will and wanted all measures taken to preserve her life, because life is precious. But she wasn't expecting this. They told me that intubating could cause tearing and bleeding in her throat/lungs. I asked the nurse, "does she have a chance of bouncing back from this?" They said "a very slight chance". I said "If she did, would she go back to how she was?" They said "No. She will never be the same again. She'll be just like this. Maybe slightly better". I asked if I'd just have to pull the plug later and they said yes. I asked for a moment to think.

I looked my Mother straight in the eyes and explained it to her. Whether she understood or not, I don't know. Her eyes weren't focusing. Once in a great while they would shift ever so slightly but mostly they just stared. She "wasn't tracking". She wasn't responding to stimuli. I suspect now that she was already pretty much gone. Comatose, or in a persistent vegetative state. I was told that when the kidneys shut down, the toxins are released into the blood stream, and they can cause... hydrocephalus or something like that. They attack the brain, cause confusion, disorientation... they didn't say it but it probably also causes brain damage or death. With a compromised liver and low BP, she didn't have a chance. Besides, she had terminal incurable advanced end stage esophageal cancer with 95% of the liver taken over by masses. Her liver took up her entire right side. (If she hadn't always been poochy in her later years, we might have noticed it sooner.) I didn't think she'd want to live like that, but I wanted her permission. I asked her what to do. Then I waited. I looked into her eyes searching for an answer. I got the impression that she was beyond miserable, and that she didn't want it prolonged. I, of course, would have done anything to keep her here; but she, or her spirit, communicated to me to let her go if it came to that.

They kept her comfortable and kept all the IV drips and oxygen going. They warned me that sometimes "they" will hover like this for days even with a super low BP and oxygen rate. I kept talking to her as if she could hear and understand me. I reassured her. Encouraged her to try to stay until my sister arrived from the next state over. She tried to stay. A couple of times she began to slide, but I reminded her about my sister and she "recovered" briefly. I told her that I hoped she'd stay for my sister's sake, I hoped she'd fool them all and turn around and pull through, but that it was up to her, and if she felt she didn't want to keep going, I'd understand, I'd be all right, and she had my permission to go.

Around 11:00 AM, the descent began to pick up steady speed. One by one, her vitals began dropping off. Her oxygen dropped to 75%. Her heart rate was 90. She was barely breathing. I was still holding her hand tightly. At 11:30, the nurse came in. I was watching Mother carefully, staring into her eyes, telling her not to be afraid, that God loves her even more than I do, and that Dad is waiting for her to take her on a wonderful trip with him. The nurse said something. I looked away for a moment. The heart rate was 30 and dropping. The beats were growing farther and farther apart. I looked back. I realized she had just stopped breathing. No death rattle, no great huge sigh, just... stopped.

The nurse put her stethoscope to Mother's chest. I watched the heart rate on the monitor go from 30 to 20 to 7 to... 0. She flat-lined. I moaned. It beat a few more times. I cheered inside. It flatlined again. Twice more it did this before it stopped. She was pronounced at 11:42 AM.

My sister arrived at 4:30 PM.

The funeral is Tuesday. After that, I have the arduous process of figuring out who I am without my Mother, who I want to become, and reinventing myself for the rest of my new life.

Personally, I'd rather have the old one back. Mother and I fought like cats and dogs, but we also loved each other profoundly. Our bond was different from that with her other daughter because Mother and I talked daily. I lived at home until age 35 (I know...) I've only been "on my own" for 9 years. Even then, I only lived a half hour away and visited every week. I moved back home after Dad died and Mother was diagnosed. She is part of my daily life and rituals. Without her, life is completely different.

Somebody invent me a time machine, and throw in the cure for incurable cancer while you're at it.

As for the sock, I got as far as turning the heel and beginning the rest of the sock before she died. Haven't knit a stitch since.