Friday, March 30, 2007

Works in Progress (continued)

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Works in Progress (continued)
Part I – Me…and unfinished projects

Here I go again…haven’t been here in ages and I think I am better when I’m here, so it’s time for me to write again. I’m still mostly in limbo, project-wise. I did finish (FINALLY) my felted clogs – BOTH pairs. Can you believe it? I mean, they have been stuck for ages. I think I must still have a problem with shrinking my knitting on purpose.

Anyway, the pair I was making for me was mostly done. I just needed to finish the second sole on one and stitch it up, but I had almost a whole slipper to finish for Mike’s pair. I don’t know if it was a breakthrough or not, but I sat down last Sunday and finished them both. Then on Monday night after work, I felted them. Check out the pictures; mine are the green/brown ones and Mike’s are the blue ones. Of course, his came out much better than mine. Like when you’re making breakfast and everyone’s eggs come out perfect and your yolk breaks, you know? One of mine is a little too small and totally misshapen – it looks kind of deformed even though I can get it on my foot. Mike’s are a little odd too…one is a bit bigger than the other, but not so much that it would be uncomfortable or even really noticeable (I hope). I haven’t put the leather bottoms on them yet. I’m not sure if I’ll bother or just save them for a better pair. Also, they seem to be taking forever to dry. I even put them on a cookie rack on the floor because I have radiant heat in my floors, thinking that might make them dry a bit faster. I mean it’s Thursday and I felted them on Monday and they are still very slightly damp. Is that normal? I’ve never felted anything before. Well, except for the red sweater from hell and that doesn’t count because I dried it in the dryer to make sure it made really thick heavy fabric. I plan to use it for a laptop case, so it has to be sturdy.

Update #1 (Friday morning): the clogs are actually dry. I’ve posted some pictures in various stages for your viewing pleasure.

Update #2 (Friday night): I can’t put the leather bottoms on them. When I held them up to the slippers I found out they are way too small. I think I’ll have to bring the slippers when I buy the slipper bottoms and use the ones I’ve already bought for another pair or two for someone with smaller feet...

I also seem to have a “thing” for washcloths…I have done about 6 now. See the pictures on the right for some examples. The only one I haven’t taken a picture of is supposed to have linked hearts on it, but I missed a row in the middle somehow, or maybe I knitted an extra plain row, so the pattern is off. I’ll keep that one for myself, I think. I won’t care if it’s messed up, but I wouldn’t give it to anyone like that. I did give my Mom one and then she called me up the next day and asked for more. Of course, I gave her 2 more yesterday and I’ll probably give her a couple more because she likes them so much. I suppose I wouldn’t do that for just anyone, but Mom being Mom, she can ask and I give. She’s mostly been there for me, too. At least since I’m an adult she has. She had her own life when I was a kid. I don’t always like her for that, but she is still Mom and I love her. How did I get off on that? See, the meds must be doing some good because it’s a bit easier for me to talk about things. Well, some things.

The “Zen” knitting piece got frogged. Yup, you heard me, uh read me, right. When I had used up all my yarn, it wasn’t big or small enough for anything. Not wide enough for a shawl and not big enough for a lap robe but too big for a shawl, so I frogged it. Well, most of it anyway. I kept a small piece and bound it off for a smallish scarf for under my jacket to keep my neck warm. Then, I got a pattern from a friend who had altered a pattern from a book and I liked what she did, and I knit it up. I cast on 200 stitches, joined the round, and knit, Zen-like, for 7 inches. Then I did some decreasing and knit another 4 inches. Then I did some more decreasing and knit another 4 inches and bound off all the stitches. Then I tinked the bound off stitches and frogged about 2 inches back because I had decreased too much and it wouldn’t go over my fat head. Baby Alpaca mohair-like yarn is NOT a happy thing to frog once and twice was a nightmare, but I managed it and it actually came out pretty nice. It’s kind of like a collar – picture a large soft Elizabethan-like collar. It comes down to just around my breasts and is so toasty at work where the vent blows down on my back all day. I’ve posted a picture of it, but not on me, so you’ll have to figure out what it looks like on me from the picture.

I started the “Branching Out” scarf from about a week ago and it’s taking a lot of my mental capacity. I’m not a lace-knitter, but when I saw this pattern and read it, I figured I’d go for it. I got a great deal on some Malabrigo in a beautiful burnt-orange colorway and when I swatched it, the stitch definition was gorgeous, so of course, I had to use it for this pattern. See the pictures for where I am right now. I HAVE to pay attention to this pattern, so I can’t do it at Stitch’N Bitch because I end up tinking more than knitting. I can’t bring it to work because I only get a half-hour for lunch and I’d get about 2 rows – maybe – done a day, and that’s if the phone doesn’t ring or someone doesn’t come up to my desk wanting something or whatever else might happen. I can’t knit it while I’m watching a hockey game because I either miss the game or screw up the knitting. So, I can only pick it up when there’s nothing else going on – it may never get done at this rate, BUT, it’s getting done right! Personally, I think it’s gorgeous and I don’t care how long it takes. I may just have to make or buy something to go with it, though, because it just does not go with my mauve coat… Can’t help it though; I just love the color and it works really well for me.

About the Socks (Capital S is how I think of them)…the black ones are still about an inch of ribbing. I just can’t seem to make myself like knitting socks. The blue ones haven’t been touched since I took their picture. I just don’t know why I keep them except that they taunt me. Why is it that I have so much trouble with socks? Everyone else seems to think they’re so easy and my friends at SNB wonder why I can’t seem to make myself get to them. Someday…maybe.

Now for my stash…I don’t have the stash I wish I had, but I still had some storage issues. I picked up some lovely storage shelving recently – it’s supposed to be for inside your closet, like mine’s got this kind of room – and Mike put it together for me with all the right stuff glued nicely together and nailed and screwed or whatever so it stays together the way it’s supposed to. There are 8 square cubicle-type boxes on the bottom part and 15 shoe-size cubes on top. I bought some nice 9-inch square cloth “drawers” for the cubes and filled them up with all my stash after putting it into Ziploc bags to keep the beasties out. I don’t want to encourage anything to munch on my goodies, after all. And since they are all stored neatly where they can’t be seen, the baggies are not too ugly. I put my knitting books on the top with some nice bookends and filled up the “shoe” cubes with needles, cotton yarn, and other “smalls”. I like this a lot. I don’t even mind that it is in my living room. I don’t have room for a knitting-only room, so I do it all in the living room. All my knitting magazines are on a bookcase that I got at a yard sale for $1 – never let it be said that I’m not a bargain-hunter – and I can find the stuff I want so easily now. The only problem is that I do have to stop buying yarn for it’s own sake. I tend to fondle yarn whenever I go to the LYS – which is all too often – and then, of course, I can’t resist it. I MUST buy some. It calls me. I’d like to stuff my mattress with it…well maybe not with the Malabrigo – that’s just too expensive to sleep on….maybe under it….

Part II – Me and my surgery

Well, I left off last time after I had finally told Mike I wanted to have the surgery. That’s when I started doing research in earnest. After about 2 years, and my weight jumping up to its high of 286, I had a gastric bypass at Albany Medical Center on July 1, 2003. I woke up with a raging fever to nurses packing me with alcohol-soaked cloths to try to get my fever down. A shot of morphine and I was out again. My fever was gone in the morning, but my mind woke up. I wondered what the hell I had done to myself. I remembered others telling me to expect this feeling of doom that was now hanging over me.

I didn’t have a lot of pain, really, so can’t blame my feelings on that. My doctor had recommended an epidural (those of you who’ve had children will know what I’m talking about) and I was pretty much numb from my breasts to my knees. I’ll spare you other details – I don’t even like remembering some of them myself. Anyway, I went home on July 5 and found out that I couldn’t lie down on my bed. I felt like my incision would open up and spill everything out. I had been in a nicely reclined hospital bed, surrounded by pillows, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got home. A friend came through with a recliner, which I literally lived in for about 4 months. The hardest part was keeping Miss Alvin (the cat) from jumping up on my tummy. Whenever I sit anywhere, she likes to be on top of me. I had to sleep every night with a huge pillow over me so that in case she did jump up, it wouldn’t do any damage.

I had a terrible time with eating anything, and I mean anything. Almost everything I ate came up as soon as it went down. I cried all the time. My surgeon told me that it would get better. My “new” tiny little stomach, or pouch, was healing. I was supposed to eat protein as much as I could to help the healing process, but I couldn’t keep anything down. If the water was too cold, it came up. If I had a hot beverage, like tea, I couldn’t drink it hot – I had to drink it warm or it would make me sick. Broth made me sick. Bread still makes me sick sometimes. I found that about the only thing I could eat was yogurt and then only a spoonful or 2 at a time. I missed food. I knew that food was not my friend, but I missed it. It had always been there for me, to comfort me, to make me happy, and now, I couldn’t keep it down. I was so miserable; all I could do was hope it would get better.

I like my job – I know, I must be nuts – and I was going stir-crazy at home, so I talked my surgeon into letting me go back to work after 4 weeks. BTW, I didn’t knit then, so I really didn’t have anything to do except watch TV. I do have a thing now for the Tour de France. It was the only thing on sometimes at night, so I watched it and got hooked. Who would ever thing anyone could sit and watch guys riding bikes all day, but for some reason, I enjoyed it. I haven’t missed a Tour since. Anyway, I have a desk job; no lifting, mostly computer work, so I figured it would be ok if I went back to work and my surgeon agreed with me. If I got tired, I could go down to the nurse and lie down. I was all set to go back on August 4, a Monday. On Sunday, I ate a soft-boiled egg, thinking that eggs would work as protein and as long as it was soft, it would work great for me. On Sunday night, I was in the hospital. That egg set me off on a 6-hour spree of almost continuous vomiting. I literally could not stop. When I finally called the surgeon, I was told to get to the ER immediately. At that point, I was so dehydrated that they could not draw blood and it was difficult to start an IV. They had to give me 2 liters of fluid before they could draw blood and they had to give me the anti-nausea drugs through the IV because they couldn’t find another vein. Needless to say, I did not go back to work on Monday. That was really my lowest point. If I could have reversed the surgery that night, I would have. In 4 weeks, I had lost about 50 pounds, but I felt so lousy that I hated everything and everyone, including myself for doing all this to myself.

After about 15 months I lost a total of about 150 pounds, so I went down to 236 pounds, and that was the lowest weight I had been in years. I went from a size 32 to a size 18 so I suppose I’m a success. At least my surgeon thinks I am. Apparently, I’ve lost more than some folks and kept off more of what I lost than some folks, so I’m considered a success. Of course, I have had a lot of problems since that surgery. It affected my hormones and apparently “excited” the fibroid tumors I had that I didn’t know about and that made me have gynecological issues that are still going on even though I’ve had surgery to correct most of it. My gyn wanted me to have a hysterectomy and I absolutely refused – they still know almost nothing about hormone replacement and I wasn’t going to go into surgically-induced menopause without knowing how it would affect me. I ended up having a kind of new surgery where they actually block the blood vessels that feed the fibroids, which kills them, and that has worked up to now. Now the real menopause is on me and things are crazy, but at least it didn’t happen overnight, so I can get used to it, I guess. From the gastric bypass, I also ended up with an incisional hernia which caused me to have emergency surgery to repair it on Valentine’s Day in 2006. I’m waiting now to hear whether the mesh that they used to repair that hernia is the one that has been recalled by the company that makes it because the mesh, or the expandable ring that holds it in place, I think, can cause “severe health problems, up to and including death”. I’d say death is a pretty severe health problem. I don’t know if that’s what they used, but it was used exclusively for the type of hernia that I had and at the time that I had the surgery, it was the standard. So, I’m waiting to hear.

I’m still having problems with depression and I still feel like crying more often than I don’t. I see my doctor next week and she’ll evaluate my meds then. I don’t know if this latest round of meds is really working for me. I’ve also been having some problems with my weight lately, and I’m up again to about 270 and a size 20-22, and that is certainly contributing to my depression as well. I really wish someone had sat me down and told me that after going through all this, I could go back to eating the way I have. I thought that I would always have a little tiny tummy and only ever be able to eat about 1 cup of food at a time. Wrong!! I can eat again. Maybe not as much as I could put away before, but I can eat. I still have problems with pasta, bread, and rice (especially rice), but I can eat pretty much anything else, and that’s not good because I will eat. I know this. I know I need to do something about this or I’ll end up at 386 again. I have been thinking about joining the local gym. There’s one around the corner from me and they are open 24 hours. I don’t have to sign a contract and I can pay month-to-month, so it might be a workable option for me. I’ll keep you posted.

Frankly, I mostly feel lousy but I’m trying very hard not to let it all get me. I think if I didn’t knit, I might just go right off the deep end. Knitting has been one of the things that has helped me to relax and not take things so seriously. It has been almost spiritual in the way that it works for me. It seems that even if I don’t finish projects, I enjoy them. I know I’ll get to them sooner or later and they don’t mind languishing on my needles until I get there.

This has been a very long, rambly post, but even if you’ve just skimmed through it, thank you for reading it. I just needed to get it out of my head, so thank God for blogs…I won’t promise a date for my next post, but I will promise to try to get here more often.

Until next time, remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!