Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Give me your answer, do.



Here's the pattern. Again, if you actually knit these, please let me know.

Daisy stitch socks

Materials Needed
US size 2 needle. Pattern is written for magic loop, but should adapt easily to DPNs or two circ methods.

Note-These socks do not allow much ease in the leg. When in doubt, make them larger, and try on periodically. I have extremely large feet (women's 11 wide) and the larger size, while it fits, is a bit snug on me.

100G sock yarn, works best in variegated/handdyed colorway

Tapestry Needle for weaving in ends

Gauge-7 stitches per inch in stockinette.

Size Medium (Large)

If you need to make these larger or smaller, increase in a multiple of eight, one multiple of four for each needle. Easy-peasy!

Cast on 64 (72) stitches and divide on needles into multiples of four. Work raised ribbing for one inch or until you think you have enough. (I always think I have enough)
Raised Rib:
K1TBL, P1. Repeat.

Begin Daisy Stitch

Row One
Knit around. When approaching daisy stitch, it is best to knit loosely so you will be able to accomplish the "three in one" on the next row.
Row Two
K3TOG, YO, K3TOG in same 3 stitches. P1. Repeat to end.
Row Three
Knit around, remembering to stay loose
Row Four
P2TOG, (K3TOG, YO, K3TOG in same three stitches. P1.) At end of needle (magic loop or circulars) K2TOG, YO, K2TOG in same two stitches.
Continue Daisy Stitch until leg of sock is desired length. End on row 2.

Work heel.

Heel row one-Slip one, knit 31(35). Turn work.
Heel row two-slip one, purl one, repeat to end.
Repeat these 2 rows 16 (18) times more, or until heel flap is desired size.

Turn Heel
Row 1 [RS]: Sl1, k18(20), ssk, k1. Turn work.

Row 2 [WS]: Sl1, p6, p2tog, p1. Turn work.

Continue in this way until all heel stitches have been worked.


Pick up and knit 16 (18) stitches along side of heel flap.

Knit across in Row 3 of Daisy Stitch pattern.

Pick up and knit 16 (18) stitches.

Knit one row around. When you reach the instep stitches, you will continue with row 4 of daisy stitch pattern worked as follows-

Move one stitch from foot to instep. K1, (P1, K3TOG, YO, K in same 3 stitches) to end. 33 (37) stitches on needle

On subsequent row 1s of pattern, you will (K3TOG, YO, K3TOG in same 3 stitches, P1) until one stitch left on needle, K1.

(this maneuver is to prevent the foot from biasing. It doesn't really matter if the leg stitches bias.)

Knit one, SSK, knit to 3 stitches remaining before instep, K2TOG, K1.

Continue instep in Daisy Stitch pattern, reduce every other round on foot until you have 31(35) stitches remaining on foot. Work to 2 inches less than desired length.

Work Toe

K 1 round.
Decrease Round: K1, ssk, k to 3 stitches remaining on needle, K2tog, K. Repeat for foot stitches.
K 1 round.
Repeat these 2 rounds until 8 stitches remain on instep needle. Graft toe. Weave in all ends. Block if desired. Cast on the other sock right away!



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's been no bed of roses

Here's my prediction.

Pens in six. My gut says five, but I have to remember that the Wings have home ice. And I so badly want to see the Pens skate the cup here, in Mellon Arena, under the other cup banners.

I back up my prediction thusly. The western conference does not have the skill level of the east. The Pens ran roughshod though the east. Furthermore, Detroit is a very old team. Osgood and Hasek are two of the oldest active goalies in the league. Chelios is older than Gary Roberts. (and he's not playing anyway.) Pittsburgh is a young team, a fast team, and a team with a great deal of momentum.

Other than hockey, PT goes on. Knitting goes on. Spinning goes on.

In spinning, I've done the easter egg sock yarn.

The fiber was very nice, but frankly, I'm a bit disappointed in the yardage. Handspun yarn uses more fiber weight than millspun, so a four-ounce mass of fiber is going to come up slightly wanting in terms of making a full skein of sock yarn. This is also chain-plied, as promised, so is actually slightly thicker than fingering weight. At just under 300 yards, I should be able to get a pair of short socks out of it.


I also spun up some Wensleydale yesterday. Wensleydale is a lustrous fiber, long staple and very soft. It spins a lot like Cotswold, but is much, much softer. The resulting yarn is extremely drapey, too.

Its a two-ply aran weight yarn. I'm planning to dye it, so I did not wash and hang the skein yet.


In knitting, I'm still working on the Oriel Lace socks.


I'm quite happy with them. They're lovely, and the yarn I'm using, Lisa Souza Sock!, is perfect for the project. Very soft and smooshy yet with definition. They're delicate things but hopefully will hold up to wear with no problems.


I've also started a new sock design, Daisy Socks. The first one is past the heel and I'm taking copious notes and will post the pattern when I'm done with it.


Getting Daisy Stitch to work in the round is a bit challenging, but with persistence and compromise, I think I've worked it out without having to do any "borrow and lend" calisthenics over the needles.


(Obligatory "sock in a flowerbasket" shot.)


I like this pattern much more than the "no purl monkeys" I was making from this yarn before. Too stripey. This breaks up the color more and has some nice textural interest. Anyway, stay tuned for the pattern.

I think I'm going to go to the Tuesday knitting group at Knit One, since I won't have a chance to do it again for a long time. Then I must stop at the grocery store for some essentials. Between all that, I also need to put gas in my car, and it's rainy and cold out again today. I guess I must be feeling better after all, to be willing to go out and do all this in this kind of weather.


Friday, May 16, 2008

My pillow never dries up

I have a new and intensified dislike for chilly, rainy weather.

The plan at this point is to return to work on May 27. I have an appointment with the orthopedist next Wednesday. My knee continues to refuse to bend beyond 65 degrees. My ankle is bending much better now. I continue to build strength, and can do more each day though I need to remind myself of that pretty often as I am frustrated by the lack of knee bend. I can drive my own car (stickshift) for short distances now. That's the biggest thing this week.

Spinning lots lately. I did this sock yarn


from bluefaced leicester roving in a handpainted "fiber club" format that I got from a person on Ravelry who was destashing. I'm happy with it-it's 14-16 WPI and about 375 yards. Enough for a pair of socks, surely. I also did this one...


a 16 WPI nice hard, worsted-spun sock yarn. 390 yards. I'm tired of barberpoling, though, so the next one


Sock fiber from a local spinner, is going to be chain-plied. I am spinning it as thin as I can and still maintain control. It's nice fiber, so it's going well.



Finished some socks and started some others.


That's the Bellatrix socks I posted about previously. The new ones are Oriel Lace from Charlene Schurch's book, Sensational Knitted Socks.


I reminisce about the days when I was intimidated by a four-row pattern repeat. This one is 28 rows.


It's really not that hard.

Now if I could only make a living from spinning and knitting. HAH. As if. Perhaps when I'm retired, I can start a cottage-industry spinnery, or that fiber arts studio that I dream of, and devote all my spare time to creating beautiful things out of wool, but for now, it's back to the daily grind for me, and soon. I'm a little scared.

Edited to add-Figment is such a GOOD kitty. How many cats could resist temptation this way?


Friday, May 09, 2008

Just have to share this

Fabulous fat-positive video from a Romanian musician. A little heavy on the food porn, but still, they're gorgeous and they own every second of the video.

We got our george bush hush money, er, economic stimulus money today. Another buffer between me and penury. I keep dreaming about a town I used to live in, and I finally figured out why I keep dreaming about this place. See, about ten years ago, I made a really bad series of decisions about where my life was going and what I was doing with it. I ended up leaving a job that was stressful but pretty awesome and paid well (municipal bus driver) and ended up broke, evicted, and depressed for a very long time. (Some would say "still") During that time in my life, I lived in this town called Springdale.

Now, it's worth mentioning that because of those bad decisions, I ended up meeting the most awesome people I know, including my husband Bob. So obviously, the results were not all bad. But still, Springdale represents financial disaster, stress, worry, panic, and shame because of money woes. So naturally, when I'm worried about all of the above, it shows up in my dreams.

These things show up in my backyard, otherwise known as Buttercup's Animal Refuge.


We have quite a few bunnies, in varying sizes.


This one munches on fallen birdseed and whatever greens are growing under it. My yard is so full of weeds right now it's ridiculous, and I can't do a damn thing about it.

And funniest of all, this dude comes by every morning to get a snack out of the bird feeders. Hey, he's a bird, right?


Poor Figment sits in the window and watches him and just ... vibrates. It's hysterical. I tell him that the bird is five times his size and would kick his little kitty butt, but he doesn't care.

figment wants the bird...

cute eyeball

He lives a hard life.

Yesterday, I was out on the front porch with the dogs, and I heard this weird metallic drilling noise. Our pileated woodpecker was sitting on top of the transformer across the street, drilling it. He seemed very proud of himself, that he'd found this truly awesome tree that would make the most noise of all the trees. I went in to get the camera, but when I came back he was gone. I've been trying to get a picture of him for some time, because nobody believes we actually have a pileated woodpecker in our yard. They're notoriously shy.

Off to do my increasingly painful and difficult exercises for the morning.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Giving in to temptation

Well, I did some more spinning. It's getting a little easier, but it's still not as comfortable as I like. And of course, using both feet is not an option at this time.


It's just a little skein, about 218 yards. It coordinates with the last yarn I spun, the one that was half and half from spindle and wheel.


I plan to make a third skein that matches as well. I'm just having fun with the wheel and bits of my fiber stash at this point. A distraction.

My outpatient PT started yesterday. I got two exercises to do, for this I needed outpatient PT? Couldn't they just mail me something? Each visit is going to be a fifteen dollar co-payment, too, which is going to get awkward in a hurry. I just hope they can get me close enough to normal to go back to work as soon as possible, but the advice my therapist gave me after my evaluation was "don't put yourself on a timetable". This makes me very unhappy.

Ok, so here's some more pretty yarn photos to make up for the unhappy.



And dogs. Always dogs to make me less sad.



Honestly. That face is just too much.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Small things

I find myself pining for spinning. Knitting socks is getting tiresome since that's all I've been doing. I do best with crafts when I vary them. The problem is, I find it pretty difficult to spin with my knee the way it is. I don't have the flexibility, even if I spin one-footed, and I get into an awkward position and the wheel moves, and I get uncomfortable pretty quickly. But I need to find a way. My spinning stash is taunting me, laughing and waving yak and cashmere under my nose.

I think I'm done with the tiny socks for a while.





I'm happy with them, I'm just tired of making them. I'm tired of a lot of things. I think I need to go back to work now, ready or not. Outpatient PT starts tomorrow. And I just received notice that I've been approved for ongoing medical leave through the end of the month. I really want to go back. The problem is that walking across a parking lot wears me out. Standing for ten minutes is exhausting. Negotiating steps on and off a bus will be very scary. Hopefully PT can help with that.

Socks for myself move on, too. I started these on Friday night. I ripped them out Saturday morning. I finished the first one today. I've never seen socks move so fast. but I love the pattern and the yarn is a sheer joy to work with. The pattern is called "Bellatrix" and it's available on Ravelry as a free download. The yarn is Pennyrose. I cannot speak too highly of this yarn.



It's actually seafoam stitch, which you see a lot in scarves but I've never seen in socks. It makes the gauge weird, these are much bigger than I thought they'd be.

Here's some detail on this gorgeous yarn.



I'm also doing "No Purl Monkeys", the Monkey pattern from Knitty but with all purls. I did the regular pattern not too long ago, and wanted to try the smooth version. So far, so good. The yarn is "The Purled Llama Dulce" which is heavenly soft but doesn't feel very durable. Luxury socks for special occasions.



We went to the Off-Track Betting place for the Kentucky Derby. They didn't have the NBC feed, so we knew nothing about Eight Belles' death until we got home. I'm really feeling that the standards need to be changed to breed stronger horses, even if it means sacrificing speed, both for their sakes and for the jockeys' health. Too many horses die needlessly, and it's common knowledge that being a jockey usually means a life of bulimia. I'm not an expert in this; I leave that to Mr. Buttercup; but I feel very badly for the horses and for the jockeys.

(Roses the aforementioned Mr. brought me on Friday. They get prettier every day.)

And last but far from least, a Figment.

Until next time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Smoking Cessation

This is something I've been meaning to post. As regular readers know, I smoked my last cigarette on January 11, 2006. I worked up a smoking cessation talk for our local Mensa gathering that summer, and figured I'd go ahead and put it out here in case anyone finds it helpful.

Don't be a chicken, go turkey!

Smoking Cessation

Facts and Figures

-Tobacco kills more than 1,500,000 humans each year. On average, each will die 22.5 years early.
-A few years ago, lung cancer became the most common cause of cancer death in women here in the United States.
-At least 20% of all heart disease deaths are smoking related.
-Tobacco causes 30% of all cancer deaths.
-Tobacco greatly impacts lung function in smokers and their children and spouses, causing premature aging of the lungs.
-Risk of stroke in smokers is 1.5 to 3 times higher than that of nonsmokers
-Smokers have more infections due to tobacco-induced decrease in immune system function

Definition: ``A cigarette is a euphemism for a cleverly crafted product that delivers just the right amount of nicotine to keep its user addicted for life before killing the person.'' World Health Organization director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland

Recent polls indicate that, despite all accumulated knowledge on the subject of diseases caused by tobacco products, a shockingly high percentage of smokers continue to believe that their cigarettes will not cause them harm.

As smoking decreased over the last five years, cigarette manufacturers increased the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, even in “Light” cigarettes. Dependence was thus increased. Do you really want to give these people your money?

Philip Morris Admits Making Cigarettes More Addictive
July 31, 2000
News Summary
Philip Morris International admitted to using ammonia to make its cigarettes more addictive, the Sydney Morning Herald reported July 27.
Philip Morris acknowledged it used ammonia to change cigarettes taste and marketability and boost the absorption of nicotine. "This disclosure is an important step in our ongoing effort to work constructively with the government, the public-health community and others to address issues concerning tobacco use in our society," said a statement from the company.
Associate Professor Simon Chapman, editor of the journal Tobacco Control, compared the addition of ammonia with techniques used in the manufacturing of illegal drugs. "The changes they make are like changing cocaine to crack cocaine -- it's all designed to get the drug to the brain that much faster, which makes it more addictive," he said.
Internal tobacco-industry documents noted that adding ammonia is just one of seven methods used to increase the "nicotine kick" and addictiveness of cigarettes. "Methods which may be used to increase smoke pH and nicotine 'kick' include use of alkaline additives, usually ammonia compounds, removal of acids from the blend and special filter systems to remove acids from or add alkaline materials to the smoke," said one industry document.

Link Here

Cigarettes would be bad enough if they just had tobacco in them.
· Additives are used to make cigarettes that provide high levels of 'free' nicotine, which increases the addictive 'kick' of the nicotine. Ammonium compounds can fulfill this role by raising the alkalinity of smoke
· Additives are used to enhance the taste of tobacco smoke, to make the product more desirable to consumers. Although seemingly innocuous the addition of flavorings making the cigarette 'attractive' and 'palatable' is in itself cause for concern.
· Sweeteners and chocolate may help to make cigarettes more palatable to children and first time users; eugenol and menthol numb the throat so the smoker cannot feel the smoke's aggravating effects.
· Additives such as cocoa may be used to dilate the airways allowing the smoke an easier and deeper passage into the lungs exposing the body to more nicotine and higher levels of tar.
· Some additives are toxic or addictive in their own right or in combination. When additives are burned, new products of combustion are formed and these may be toxic or pharmacologically active.
· Additives are used to mask the smell and visibility of side-stream smoke, making it harder for people to protect themselves and undermining claims that smoking is anti-social without at the same time reducing the health risks of passive smoking.
Additive technology is a major tool used by the tobacco industry in the production of this nicotine 'package'. While some cigarettes have been marketed as additive free, according to the verbal testimony of JL Pauly of the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., the modern U.S cigarette contains about 10 percent additives by weight, mostly in the form of sugars, flavorings, and humectants4. But there are others - present in smaller quantities --, which may have a more profound influence on the product. Evidence suggests that additives are actually used by manufacturers to influence the pharmacological effects of nicotine, make individual brands taste more appealing to young and 'aspirational' smokers and mask the taste and immediate discomfort of smoke.

At the simplest level, a cigarette delivers a dose of the main active ingredient, nicotine, into the smokers' lungs in a mixture of smoke particles and gases. The nicotine is rapidly absorbed into the blood through the large surface of the lungs (and mouth and throat) and reaches the brain within ten seconds. Receptors in the brain respond to nicotine stimulation by producing chemicals (dopamines and other neurotransmitters) that give the user what is variously described as a 'hit', 'kick' or 'impact' - the drug effect of nicotine. Over time the receptors become conditioned to expect nicotine (tolerance), and when deprived, the smoker experiences nicotine withdrawal - a very unpleasant sensation for many. This pharmacological impact and withdrawal, enhanced by psychological and social factors related to smoking, create dependency on tobacco products. Nicotine is the main reason why tobacco products are addictive. As this report shows there are a number of subtle ways in which the delivery of nicotine to the brain's receptors can be influenced by additives.

You may think it’s your choice to smoke. Maybe, just maybe that first one was your choice. But the manufacturers took that choice out of your hands with deceptive methods like these. It’s typical drug pusher behavior. Get them hooked, and keep them hooked.

So how do I quit?

The secret to breaking free and staying free is education.

It takes just 72 hours to rid your body of all nicotine and 90% of the chemicals it breaks down into, and for the symptoms of withdrawal to peak in intensity before beginning to subside. No psychological crave anxiety attack will last longer than the time it took you to smoke a cigarette - about three minutes. The maximum number of daily craves experienced by the average quitter is six, which occurs on day three (72 hours). In other words, that's 18 minutes of possible hell on the worst day of recovery (3 minutes x 6 craves). By day ten the average quitter is down to experiencing just 1.4 craves.

Do what works for you. Visit websites. NOT cigarette company websites! is an excellent site. Livejournal has a great smoking cessation community, quitsmokingnow2. I strongly suggest either not using a nicotine replacement or using it for a very limited amount of time. I’ll get into the reasons for that more when I talk about my quit.

My Quit.

One day, on the way home from work, I was almost out of cigarettes. I needed to stop and get some, so I pulled into Eckerd Drug’s parking lot near our home. I’d been thinking off and on about quitting, as most smokers do, for years. I’d been thinking about it more seriously recently, because I had started to learn about the dirty tricks that the tobacco companies play on us and I really did not appreciate being hoodwinked that way. Bob and I had been going out singing karaoke a lot and I knew my voice would be better if I didn’t smoke. It was getting more and more expensive. I was tired of being sick. I’d get a cold and it would last forever. I couldn’t breathe outside in the winter or in very hot weather because of my asthma. I was afraid of getting emphysema. I had so much to live for that I didn’t want to die in five or ten years.

When I went into the drugstore, I bought a box of nicotine gum and several packs of regular gum.

That night, I told Bob what I was doing and asked for his understanding and patience. Of course I got it. The next morning when I woke up, I chewed the gum instead of smoking. I made it through a day and a half that way before I relapsed. I spent a lot of time over the next few days doing research online, looking for what I’d done wrong. The conclusion that I reached was that I’d done NOTHING wrong. I just had to try again. And again, and again, and AGAIN if need be. It turned out the next time I tried was the last time I needed to try. I smoked my last cigarette on January 11th, 2006. I chewed the nicotine gum for one week. I did this consciously, because I knew I needed two stages to break the addiction.

Stage one was breaking the impulses. Looking back on all my previous attempts to quit over the years, the one thing that did me in was the impulse control. I have No Impulse Control at all. I needed to learn how to stop myself from reaching for that cigarette, and I needed to learn not to obsess about not having one. Chewing the nicotine gum gave me the drug that I was craving and allowed me to really think about what I’d be doing with my hands instead of smoking a cigarette. I took up crocheting. I chewed a lot of regular gum, straws, cocktail straws, pencils, pens. I redirected my energy from smoking to creative acts. After a week (and not an easy week), I made the decision to stop chewing the gum and get off the drug. I didn’t want to be addicted, and as long as I was already edgy and crabby, might as well get the whole thing out of the way. I chewed the last of the gum on a Wednesday night. I went to work that Thursday, but took Friday off, as I knew the last two days would be the worst. They were. I was not at all disappointed in the intensity of the withdrawal. My hair hurt. My bones itched. My skin crawled. I heard things. It was bad.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that nicotine withdrawal is easy, because it isn’t. You’re just as addicted as any junkie, you’re just able to buy your drug over the counter. Nicotine is nasty, it’s insidious, it is all through your brain and body and you will have hell kicking it. But kick it you can. Three days is the magic.

After three days, the drug has lost its physical power over you. Really, it has. Do whatever you have to do to make it through those three days. Now comes the hard part. Resisting the impulses. Thinking you can have "just one" and it will be okay.

You can't, and it won't.

Two years and some months later, I'm mostly free of impulses and cravings. I don't have any desire to smoke. Any whim that might tempt me to light up like stress, smelling others smoking, or nostalgia is not strong enough to make any real difference to me.

I can never smoke again. I can never take so much as a drag from a cigarette again. I am as much a nicotine addict as an alcoholic is addicted to booze, as a heroin addict is addicted to opiates. The hypersensitive receptors in my brain that I spent 33 years developing are waiting there, tendrils outstretched, hoping to grab onto something, hoping to trap me again. It’s not going to happen. I’m finished.

I can sing again. I can breathe again. I gained about 30 pounds, and have lost most those again. My lungs are still clearing themselves out, but the tarballs are almost gone. My sinuses have finally recovered from the 33 year long assault on them. My sense of smell and of taste has come back, and my brain has learned, finally, to stop overcompensating by being hypersensitive to smell and taste. I’m learning to be patient with myself in terms of my own healing. And finally, finally, I’m getting my life and my health back.