Beyond the Aftermath

After ten days of horrible coughing and next-to-no sleep I’m finally on the mend. In my journal I’ve taken to calling this the “asthma attack aftermath”.

There isn’t much written for those of us suffering with adult onset asthma but the first of the three books I ordered has arrived. Several kind friends in the blog world have offered suggestions and shared their experiences of living with asthma. It helps immensely.

A new daily inhaler arrived (costly little buggers) and it too has helped. The elephant sitting on my chest has left. Now what remains is the coughing. I’ve discovered (with thanks to my good friend Jan at Hungry Holler) that popsicles are medicinal. We’ve gone through about three dozen so far, although I think Chris is eating them purely for pleasure.  A popsicle – be it grape, cherry, or orange – calms my throat and decreases the coughing spasms like nothing else. It beats the dickens out of Robotussin and I’m not even talking about taste.

Last night was the first night of decent sleep I’ve gotten since the attack began. Decent is what I’m calling four hours of sitting-up-in-the-chair sleep and an added bonus of two hours of morning sleep in the bed propped on two pillows. I feel like a new woman and the bags under my eyes look less like steamer trunks and more like my Aunt Nita’s carpet bag purse. I’m good with that improvement!

Thursday I was told to take the whole day off. I wouldn’t say it was ordered but there was scolding involved. I was so exhausted I did as told. With the help of popsicles to calm my cough, I managed to get quite a bit of knitting done on my Emily Dickinson Shawl. (You thought I’d forgotten this is a knitting blog didn’t you?) I’m now well into the third chart and still loving this project despite the miles and miles of garter stitch. The copper lined beads rest beautifully in the chestnut silk. I wish I could get a decent photo (and I’ve tried!) but that will have to wait until it’s off the needles and Chris pulls out his camera. My point and click doesn’t do justice to the beads. Just doesn’t, but here’s a little look-see.

 

I’m hoping to bind off Sunday and get it blocked before we leave town on Tuesday morning. How much knitting time I’ll get between now and then is questionable. We’re gearing up for our first trek to the Amish Acres Festival in Nappannee, Indiana. Four days in a beautiful historic setting chocked full of craftspeople! We’re taking the lavender products and as much merino and silk as we can pack in the van.

Since we’ll be camping onsite and not staying in a hotel there won’t be anywhere to block Emily if I finish it while driving over. So I’ve lined up two projects to take with me. My Nutkin socks, because we all know socks are good travel knitting and I’m in need of more fall socks. If you haven’t tried Tempted sock yarn – you should. Not only are Stacy’s colorways fabulous but the twist of the yarn perfect for socks. I’ve knit with plenty of sock yarn and I think Tempted is hands down my favorite – even over BMFA’s Socks That Rock. Really!

The next lace project is the Brandywine Shawl by Rosemary Hill aka Romi. Romi’s designs are always intriguing. For Brandywine I’ve chosen one of my Oklahoma Fiber Partnership yarns – a rich brown alpaca spun with 20% tussah silk. (the rest of the alpaca/silk – mostly white – will be dyed and available at the farmers market soon). It’s incredible – soft to the touch, the right amount of bounce, and glorious natural color. I only bought a tiny bit of this fleece and spinning it resulted in only two skeins of the brown. But while I was cleaning it I knew I had to claim at least one skein for myself. I think Brandywine will be perfect shawl for this lush yarn. 
 (again with the less than stellar photos)




After ten days of horrible coughing and next-to-no sleep I’m finally on the mend. In my journal I’ve taken to calling this the “asthma aftermath”. There isn’t much written for those of us suffering with adult onset asthma but the first of the three books I ordered has arrived. Several kind friends in the blog world have offered suggestions and shared their experiences of living with asthma. It helps immensely. A new daily inhaler arrived (costly little buggers) and it too has helped. The elephant sitting on my chest has left. Now what remains is the coughing. I’ve discovered (with thanks to my good friend Jan at Hungry Holler) that popsicles are medicinal. We’ve gone through about three dozen so far, although I think Chris is eating them purely for pleasure.  A popsicle – be it grape, cherry, or orange – calms my throat and decreases the coughing spasms like nothing else. It beats the dickens out of Robotussin and I’m not even talking about taste. Last night was the first night of decent sleep I’ve gotten since this began. Decent is what I’m calling four hours of sitting up in the chair sleep and an added bonus of two hours of morning sleep in the bed propped on two pillows. I feel like a new woman and the bags under my eyes look less like steamer trunks and more like my Aunt Nita’s carpet bag purse. I’m good with that improvement! (which reminds me that I need to blog about my beloved Aunt Nita some day)Thursday I was told to take the whole day off. I wouldn’t say it was ordered but there was scolding involved. I was so exhausted I agreed. With the help of popsicles to calm my cough I managed to get quite a bit of knitting done on my Emily Dickinson Shawl. (You thought I’d forgotten this is a knitting blog didn’t you?) I’m now well into the third chart and still loving this project despite the miles and miles of garter stitch. The copper lined beads rest beautifully in the chestnut silk. I wish I could get a decent photo (and I’ve tried!) but that will have to wait until it’s off the needles and Chris pulls out his camera. My point and click doesn’t do justice to the beads. Just doesn’t but here’s a little look-see.I’m hoping to bind off Sunday and get it blocked before we leave town on Tuesday morning. How much knitting time I’ll get between now and then is questionable. We’re gearing up for our first trek to the Amish Acres Festival in Nappannee, Indiana. Four days in a beautiful historic setting chocked full of craftspeople! We’re taking the lavender products and as much merino and silk as I can pack in the van. Since we’ll be camping onsite and not staying in a hotel there won’t be anywhere to block Emily if I finish it while driving over. So I’ve lined up two projects to take with me. My Nutkin socks, because we all know socks are good travel knitting and I’m in need of more fall socks. If you haven’t tried Tempted sock yarn – you should. Not only are Stacy’s colorways fabulous but the twist of the yarn perfect for socks. I’ve knit with plenty of sock yarn and I think Tempted is hands down my favorite – even over Socks That Rock. Really! The next lace project is the Brandywine Shawl by Rosemary Hill aka Romi. Romi’s designs are always intriguing. For Brandywine I’ve chosen one of my Oklahoma Fiber Partnership yarns – a rich brown alpaca spun with 20% tussah silk. (the rest of the alpaca/silk – mostly white – will be dyed and available at the farmers market soon). It’s incredible – soft to the touch, a little bounce, and glorious natural color. I only bought a tiny bit of this fleece and spinning it resulted in only two skeins of the brown. But while I was cleaning it I knew I had to claim at least one skein for myself. I think Brandywine will be perfect. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

I’ve got it bad.

I fight being sick with everything I’ve got, but I have to finally admit – I’m sick. Last Wednesday it began with difficulty breathing, a little asthma, and my voice was horse. I didn’t feel bad, just not great. By Saturday I was coughing and my voice was quite horse even at a whisper. It’s now Tuesday and I haven’t slept much in the past week. No deep sleep whatsoever. I am coughing deeply though. So deep my chest burns with the aching of the coughs.

While in town this weekend we stopped at the bookstore (don’t we always?) and I thought I’d see if I could find a decent book to help me better understand adult onset asthma, the triggers, and how I should respond. It seems I have one of the unpopular chronic diseases as far as finding books on the topic go. There was one book – The Dummies Guide to Asthma, which followed the one book for another disease – The Idiots Guide to Arthritis. Now if I had a gluten problem there would be a wealth of written material to chose from – a shelf and a half to be precise. (no offense to those with Celiac’s Disease is intended in this minor rant)

I’ve since done some searching on Amazon and found a few more titles and promptly bought three books that intrigued me. One of which tempts me with the possibility of going inhaler free by learning certain breathing techniques. In my mind I imagine the likes of the breathing that got me through natural child birth. Okay I tell myself, I’m willing to do that if it means I can toss my rescue inhaler. (Did I mention that the inhaler burns the dickens out of my throat. Maybe I’m allergic to my inhaler. Is that possible?)

Late this afternoon after prompting from Chris I stood in the shower with hot water creating a fog thinking it would help my ravaged bronchial tubes. I grew up in a house with one small hot water tank, learning at a young age to make my daily ablutions quick and thorough. Standing for a prolonged time in the shower is tough – but I discovered I can make the time stretch by combining one of my two favorite ways to lose track of time. Obviously I couldn’t knit in the shower. But I discovered I could read in the shower. I grabbed my copy of Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. Subtitle, My Year of Knitting Dangerously.

Martini chronicled the year she spent knitting an Alice Starmore fair isle sweater called Mary Tudor. Starmore has her devotees and those who think she may just have gone too far in her legal pursuits and prosecutions to protect her patterns and her yarn line. What she has given the knitting world is a legacy of intricate colorwork sweaters, the patterns and yarn which have become so rare that they fetch astronomical prices. All of this legacy though is somewhat shrouded in the mystery of the woman who designed them who escaped to the Scottish moors and only makes rare public appearances.

The author of Sweater Quest interviews a lot of famous knitters, and quotes Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, at least once a chapter. Adrienne Martini has taken a stab at creating a book to be compared with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. While I’d say it’s not a masterpiece, it’s a good book to read if you’re a knitter who is stuck in a long hot shower.

So you see I have it bad. The cough, sleeplessness, chest pain and porn voice. And an addiction to knitting that just seems to seep into everything I do.
I’ve got it badI fight being sick with everything I’ve got, but I have to finally admit – I’m sick. Last AdriWednesday it began with difficulty breathing, a little asthma, and my voice was horse. I didn’t feel bad, just not great. By Saturday I was coughing and my voice was quite horse even at a whisper. It’s now Tuesday and I haven’t slept much in the past week. No deep sleep whatsoever. I am coughing deeply though. So deep my chest burns with the aching of the coughs. While in town this weekend we stopped at the bookstore (don’t we always?) and I thought I’d see if I could find a decent book to help me better understand adult onset asthma, the triggers, and how I should respond. It seems I have one of the unpopular chronic diseases as far as finding books on the topic go. There was one book – The Dummies Guide to Asthma, which followed the one book for another disease – The Idiots Guide to Arthritis. Now if I had a gluten problem there would be a wealth of written material to chose from – a shelf and a half to be precise. (no offense to those with Celiac’s Disease is intended in this minor rant)I’ve since done some searching on Amazon and found a few more titles and promptly bought three books that intrigued me. One of which tempts me with the possibility of going inhaler free by learning certain breathing techniques. In my mind I imagine the likes of the breathing that got me through natural child birth. Okay I tell myself, I’m willing to do that if it means I can toss my rescue inhaler. (Did I mention that the inhaler burns the dickens out of my throat. Maybe I’m allergic to my inhaler. Is that possible?)Late this afternoon after prompting from Chris I stood in the shower with hot water creating a fog thinking it would help my ravaged bronchial tubes. I grew up in a house with one small hot water tank, learning at a young age to make my daily ablutions quick and thorough. Standing for a prolonged time in the shower is tough – but I discovered I can make the time stretch by combining one of my two favorite ways to lose track of time. Obviously I couldn’t knit in the shower. But I discovered I could read in the shower. I grabbed my copy of Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. Subtitle, My Year of Knitting Dangerously. Martini chronicled the year she spent knitting an Alice Starmore fair isle sweater called Mary Tudor. Starmore has her devotees and those who think she may just have gone too far in her legal pursuits and prosecutions to protect her patterns and her yarn line. What she also has given the knitting world is a legacy of intricate colorwork sweaters, the patterns and yarn which have become so rare that they fetch astronomical prices. All of this legacy though is somewhat shrouded in the mystery of the woman who designed them who escaped to the Scottish moors and only makes rare public appearances. The author of Sweater Quest interviews a lot of famous knitters, and quotes Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, at least once a chapter. Adrienne Martini has taken a stab at creating a book to be compared with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. While I’d say it’s not a masterpiece, it’s a good book to read if you’re a knitter who is stuck in a long hot shower.So you see I have it bad. The cough, sleeplessness, chest pain and porn voice. And an addiction to knitting that just seems to seep into everything I do. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

Tasty, frosty and local

There was a buzzz at market yesterday morning. The word spread pretty quick that Claudia of Vine & Branch was in attendance.

The market bell (actually it’s a triangle) rings at 7am and I was fourth in line to get my two bags of grapes. Claudia said next week she’ll have more but it no matter how laden down her truck is she sells out quickly.

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Chilled, frozen or eaten fresh out of the brown bag – these are the bomb!
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Thinking Fall.

Summer in Oklahoma can be brutal. The heat and the humidity are taking the toll on many of our farmer friends. While our field has already been harvested, Chris is working each morning (while the temps are slightly lower) to maintain or reclaim parts of the field, in the afternoon he’s been tackling paperwork or joining me in the studio. I’ve been making crazy in the studio with countless batches of soap for the fall festival season. Well, not countless really. I’ve got calendars and spreadhsheets and quickbooks to help me forecast and plan how many batches of soap per event that we’ll be attending. Soap takes four to six weeks to cure so I work backwards on the calendar to see by what date each events soap needs to be made.

Part of the way I deal with the Oklahoma heat is to try and get my mind into Fall. My friend Steve over at Pork & Greens swears that fall is in the air. The man thinks he can feel and hear it in the wind. You know farmers spend so much time outside that they have this extra instinct. Right? I thought the same thing last weekend when I saw the first yellow leaves float on a breeze. Maybe Steve’s right.

Today my Emily Dickinson shawl will move to the last chart, which has beads. It’s coming along nicely and I like the progress to shorter rows. Usually those long rows at the end of a shawl make me groan, but I can already feel the rows speeding up on Emily. But beading means that Emily will become couch knitting and no longer a travel project.

It’s not quite August (also referred to as Hell in Oklahoma) but in my attempt to avoid thinking about insane heat my thoughts are leaning towards Fall knitting so while I was contemplating a new project to work on in the car, I mentally listed some of the works-in-progress. Then I looked at the ones that jumped first into my mind (because all knitters know there are WIP’s that need to stew and brew and some just get ignored).

There’s the Nonpareil Cardigan. I love the pattern and love the yarn. I’ve got half of the back piece finished. I’d really like to have this one done in time to wear this fall – but it sits in a bag hanging from a chair in my office aka The Rabbit Hole. It’s a possibility for  a travel project.

Last year at this time I cast on the Rogue Hoodie. I love the pattern and the color of the yarn but am uncertain about the quality of the yarn I’m using. I think there is an error somewhere in my cabling too so it needs to be frogged. Not travel ready.

There’s also the Icarus Shawl. I have not done right by the Icarus. I’m halfway through the final chart and can’t seem to pick it up and finish it. Shame on me. It holds possibility.

So what’s a knitter to do? Last night we made a mad dash into Tulsa to trade cars with my daughter.  She’s going camping in Colorado and our Jeep seemed a better vehicle than her little Golf. So for car knitting I grabbed a ball of previously wound sock yarn. (a knitter always needs to have some yarn wound on hand for emergencies, don’t you know) and a copy of the Nutkin pattern, needles and a sock sack. I began casting on as soon as we got off the dirt road onto the blacktop. Socks are a necessity in the fall, and the colorway just sets you in the mood for crisp breezes, a roaring fire, maybe a hike along a path with scattered leaves of gold, green, brown and red. Yarn – Tempted Good Grrl in colorway Saucy.

Summer in Oklahoma can be brutal. The heat and the humidity are taking the toll on many of our farmer friends. While our field has already been harvested, Chris is working each morning to maintain or reclaim parts of the field. I’ve been making crazy in the studio, with countless batches of soap for the fall festival season. Well, not countless really. I’ve got calendars and spreadhsheets and quickbooks to help me forecast and plan how many batches of soap per event that we’ll be attending. Soap takes four to six weeks to cure so I work backwards on the calendar to see by what date each events soap needs to be made. Part of the way I deal with the Oklahoma heat is to try and get my mind into fall. My friend Steve over at Pork N Greens swears he smells fall coming. The man thinks he can feel and hear it in the wind. You know farmers spend so much time outside that they have this extra instinct. Right? I thought the same thing last weekend when I saw the first yellow leaves float on a breeze. Maybe Steve’s right. Today my Emily Dickinson shawl will move to the last chart, which has beads. It’s coming along nicely and I like the progress to shorter rows. Usually those long rows at the end of a shawl make me groan, but I can already feel the rows speeding up on Emily. But beading means that Emily will become couch knitting and no longer a travel project. It’s not quite August (also referred to as Hell in Oklahoma) but my thoughts are leaning towards fall knitting so while I was contemplating a new project to work on in the car, I mentally catalogued the works-in-progress. There’s the Nonpareil Cardigan. I love the pattern and love the yarn, but I am no where near getting the correct gauge with the size needle that is recommended. I’ve got half of the back piece finished. I’d really like to have this one done in time to wear this fall – but it sits in a bag hanging from a chair in my office aka The Rabbit Hole. It’s a possibility for  a travel project. Last year at this time I cast on the Rogue Hoodie. I love the pattern and the color of the yarn but am uncertain about the quality of the yarn I’m using. I think there is an error somewhere in my cabling too so it needs to be frogged. Not travel ready. There’s also the Icarus Shawl. I have not done right by the Icarus. I’m halfway through the finak chart and can’t seem to pick it up and finish it. Shame on me. So what’s a knitter to do? Last night we made a mad dash into Tulsa to trade cars with my daughter.  She’s going camping in Colorado and our Jeep seemed a better vehicle than her little Golf. So for car knitting I grabbed a ball of previously wound sock yarn. (a knitter always needs to have some yarn wound on hand for emergencies don’t you know) and a copy of the Nutkin pattern, needles and a sock sack. I began casting on as soon as we got to the blacktop. Socks are a necessity in the fall. Yarn – Tempted Good Grrl in colorway Saucy. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

I was teaching myself to knit…

Continental. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

I thought since the Emily Dickinson shawl is garter stitch that it’d be a good time to learn to knit Continental. The fastest knitters are usually knitting Continental style. Like Mariam Tegels, she’s in the Guinness Book of World Records. 
I’m a Thrower, not a Picker – which is what Continental knitters are called. Instead of having my ball of yarn on my right side and throwing the yarn around the right hand needle with my right hand each stitch, a Picker keeps the yarn on her left side and using her right needle deftly scoops or picks up the working yarn as it is wrapped and held in her left hand. If this is confusing the best place to see what I mean is here
In my present state I can’t explain it. 
I don’t want to explain it. 
I want to stop doing it and not think about it. 
My gauge is all shot to hell. The stitches won’t slide on the needle. I just can’t continue. But first I have to fix a dropped stitch that happened while I was trying to be slick and cool and fast with Cont… you know – that other type of knitting. 
The only thing that’s saving my sanity is remembering the cow this photo that I took on a nearby dirt road earlier today. It’s hot and sticky here in Oklahoma and apparently the cows are pretending they’re water buffalo to keep their sanity. When you’re in a state of panic – like I am – anything can be funny. 

Color, yarn and the local-vore connections.

As you can tell, I’m really having fun in the studio lately. But dyeing yarn is also an incredible creative process for me. It allows me to bring the joy of color from the natural world into the fiber world. It’s also work – picking through fleeces and removing cockle burs and other vegetable matter, getting the fleeces ready for milling and then after it returns months later, standing over boiling water for hours, hefting large cauldrons of water, skeining and reskeining yarn. 


The new yarns are all fibers from Oklahoma farms, which ties into the ever growing local-vore community that stems from our relationships born at the Cherry Street Farmers Market and the Oklahoma Food Coop.  The yarns in the photograph below are from East Friesian sheep from Cordero Farms, and the wool was spun with bamboo to add sheen, depth of color, and extra softness. Other fibers include llama with bamboo, alpaca with silk. Later in the summer Australian Merino and Rambouillet will be added to the lineup, as well as more llama/bamboo.  Yes, these are all from Oklahoma farms!



From all the effort of cleaning fleeces and the joy of dyeing yarn comes some interesting rewards. Local knitters visit the farmers market and buy yarn along with their tomatoes and tourists get excited to find locally raised fiber while visiting the market with family. One of the surprises for me comes from the many non-knitters who are drawn to the color and texture and stop to fondle the yarn. Sometimes they share about a family member who knits or crochets. Or maybe they have that glean in the eye and confess that they’ve always wanted to learn how to knit.

These yarns will be available starting Saturday at the Cherry Street Farmers Market and next month on the Oklahoma Food Coop. Later in the season I’ll be taking yarn to the events we attend further afield including Amish Acres Craft Festival in Nappanee, Indiana, Walnut Valley Guitar Festival in Winfield, Kansas, Arts Festival Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, War Eagle Fair in Hindsville, Arkansas, and the first annual ColorFest in Guthrie, Oklahoma

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Chestnut and Sherry Update

I’ve made it past the edging chart and am at the beginning of a long serious of garter stitch, but I love how the Emily Dickinson pattern is knitting up in the silk. The beads don’t show up well in this quick-n-dirty photo but in person they catch just the right amount of light. 
The Emily Dickinson is a triangle shawl knit from the lower edge up, the exact opposite of what is traditional in triangular shawl patterns. In other words, the rows are llllooooonnnnngggg to start with and decrease in length as you make your way to the top. During the first chart I didn’t bother with stitch markers to separate the repeats and allowed the beads to serve the role of markers. As long as a knitter pays attention it’s easy enough to make sure the chart lines up using this method. 
For the first few rows I used my Denise needles, which really had too much grip for the silk. Silk needs to slide and glide on the needles. Not off the needles but smoothly along especially on long rows of garter stitch I’ve discovered. After the first chart I switched to wood, Lantern Moon needles to be specific. They provide a nice glide, the tips are sharp, and the color of the wooden tips is fine with the chestnut brown silk. 
Thus far – I’m truly enjoying this shawl. It’s such a nice easy knit I’m having a hard time putting it down whenever I pick it up. 

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