Christmas Dreams

I dream big.  Both pairs of socks that I started on my trip to Montana, along with a scarf for myself, were going to be finished.  Additionally, I was doing a fixer upper on my condo – new carpeting on the stairs from the basement to the living area, new carpeting on the stairs from the living area to the master bedroom, new paint on the master bedroom walls and the lower bedroom walls, new paint on the master bedroom bath, new paint and flooring in the basement, as well as hauling away a ton of stuff I hadn’t looked at in 20 years.  As you can see, this work needed to be done:

Eww! (Master bedroom carpet)

Eww! (Master bedroom carpet)

Fix me! (wall in master bedroom)

Fix me! (wall in master bedroom)

Basement stairs

Basement stairs

Of course, when you’re working with contractors, nothing goes completely on schedule.  The work got started a day late, took longer than anticipated, and had to ultimately be juggled with other contractual commitments.  It’s done now, but the bedrooms still need to be organized and pictures hung.

The socks are done too.  As is my standard modus operandi, each person got 1 sock in their Christmas package.  They laughed.  I laughed with them.  Grrrr!  I said!  I was sure these would be finished.

There were a couple of things I didn’t count on.

In November, I saw a Pulmonologist for a chronic cough I had been experiencing.  He sent me for a lung function test, which came back positive for asthma.  REALLY?  Asthma, now, after all these years without it?  I got a couple of inhalers and that’s really all I can say about that, except that the cough is much improved (YAY yell my co-workers and friends) and the rest is still a work in process.  But that’s not what really kept me from finishing the socks.

I had another niggling problem.  I kept falling asleep at inopportune times, like when I would be knitting on socks (one sock was particularly victimized by this and required ripping back a few inches, so that explains why that sock didn’t get finished!).  I was particularly bothered by this nodding off, especially since it seemed to be getting worse.  And I knew it was because I wasn’t sleeping well at night.  I was pretty sure I was waking up every 30 minutes or less, and at least every time I turned over in bed.  But when I first brought it up to my doctor a year ago he just said it was normal to nod off when you got older.  Hmmmm. . . .

I brought it up to the Pulmonologist and he said we should do a sleep study.  I managed to sneak this in on the night before New Years’ Eve.  I was told to be there at 9 pm and that they would expect me to go to bed by 10:30 (I had told them this was my normal bedtime).  They had me fill out paperwork, and then had me get hooked up to a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and wear it for 30 minutes in case I needed it for the second half of my sleep study.  At 10:30 they came in to unhook the CPAP machine and told me that they were having some equipment problems, that a technician had been called, and that it would likely be a couple of hours before the sleep study could begin.  As a result, because they needed me there for six hours, they would not be waking me up until 7:30.  At 1:00 they came in to attach all the monitors on me, and by 1:30 I was tucked into my bed.  😦  Let me just say:  Given that I was already tired, by this point I was beyond tired.  But when the lights went out, and despite the fact that the bed was extremely comfortable, I’m pretty sure that for the first three hours I pretty much just laid there.  I was cold, and my nose monitor came out, so the nurse had to come back in and fix that.  But, even though I felt that I had not slept in that three hours, I must have, because at the end of the three hours I was awakened and told they needed to put me on the CPAP machine.

At first, I had the sensation that I couldn’t catch my breath. I tried to breathe through my mouth but got a gush of air through my nose.  (You’re not supposed to breathe through your mouth when the CPAP is on.)  I sat straight up in bed, but found I was okay.  I laid back down but felt that breathless feeling again.  Again, I sat straight up in bed.  This time the nurse came on the intercom and asked if I was okay.  I said I was feeling kind of out of breath and could I use my inhaler.  The nurse came in and took the mask off me.  I used my inhaler, and then he put the mask on me again, turned out the lights, and left.  This time I tried to concentrate on my breathing.  .  I kept repeating the words in my mind while breathing through my nose.  Suddenly, the nurse was calling me to wake up over the speaker.  It was 7:30 he said and time to get up.  The sleep study was over.  I was in the same position as when I laid down after using my inhaler.  My three hours on the CPAP was over and it was time to go home.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had slept for those three hours without moving or without waking to turn over.  While not nearly enough sleep, I still felt like Scrooge on Christmas morning!  I had slept.  I couldn’t remember the last time I slept like that.  I felt giddy inside.

Of course, I was right back where I left off the next  night.  And since.  A day after the New Years’ holiday was over, I got a call from the doctor’s office.  During the first part of the study, when I wasn’t hooked up to the CPAP machine, I experienced a number of apneas (cessation of breathing) over the course of an hour.  My pulse oxygen went down to 76%.  No wonder I’m so tired!  My doctor prescribed an APAP machine (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure).  The APAP differs from the CPAP machine in that it monitors your breathing and automatically adjusts the air pressure as needed.  Happy new year to me.

I am trying not to be discouraged.  Actually, I am so desperate for sleep that the time cannot pass fast enough.

As I finish off the final sock, I look forward to once again getting back to my scarf.  After that, I’ll have to find me a soothing project to work on.  Maybe some lace?

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As I was scanning the Guardian one day, I came across this article and found it inspiring.  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/06/open-water-swimming-last-chance-alexandra-heminsley-leap-in

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Finding time in Montana

I was recently on a trip to Montana.  I and a friend of mine, Fran, took Amtrak from Milwaukee, WI to Whitefish, Montana where we met up with our friend Tricia.  My goal had been to knit one pair of socks on the trip here and one pair on the trip home.   I thought I could get through the heel of one sock, and that I may feasibly have the foot of sock two completed by the time we got to Whitefish on Monday.  After a rough start doing my toe-up cast-on using the ‘It Just Doesn’t Matter’ cast on (aka Judy’s Magic Cast On), I had my toe on. (I usually need to review the video before I begin a pair of socks, just to refresh my memory and get the wraps going correctly.)  But once I got the toe cast on and the increases added, I was flying on the foot of my sock, enjoying the scenery out my train window.

On the way to Montana

On the way to Montana

I am one of those lucky ones who is able to knit on an easy stockinette pattern (such as socks) without really paying attention to what I’m doing.  I feel the stitch on the needle and knit it – without looking at what I am doing.  This way I am able to just keep knitting around in a circle, only occasionally looking down at my knitting.  This affords me ample time to keep my eyes peeled on the scenery.  I like to knit my socks sort of at the same time.  With two sets of double-pointed needles, I will start one sock and work through the heel.  I then pick up the second sock and do the same.  Then I go back to sock one and do the leg, the same on sock two, then the cuff of sock one, and the cuff of sock two.  EASY PEASY!  I now have a perfectly matching pair of socks, with just a few ends to weave in.  No seams to sew.  And no second sock syndrome.  This worked really well for me on this trip.  While I didn’t finish the socks, I got more knitting done than I have previously been able to on socks.  Of course, I had a gob of time while sitting on the train.  But do you know what I found the key was?  I always had the socks with me.  ALWAYS!  When we went on sightseeing trips in the car, I took them with me.  And still got fantastic shots like these below:

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When we sat around in the evening chatting, I chatted and knit on my socks.  I wasn’t obsessive; just prepared.  I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.  In fact, at times I saw more than my traveling companions, including a coyote dragging his kill along the highway.  Of course, this was met with disbelief on the part of my traveling companions.  Even though I only had a tiny sip of wine at the wine tasting shop, and my counterparts had a little more than me, they were skeptical of what I had seen.  Their skepticism later led to this:

Fox with kill

Fox with kill

Oh well, I suppose that’s to be expected when you are traveling with children’s librarians.  Masters at storytelling and puppet shows, I suppose they couldn’t resist.  They certainly entertained the rangers at Lolo Pass!

All-in-all, I am pleased with the results of my progress on the train.  As you can see, I have made it through the heel on the first sock and am working up to the heel on the second sock.  I am confident I will have these finished before Thanksgiving at which time I will devote myself to the second pair of socks I have to make.  Deep down inside of me I know that the Yarn Harlot would have not only finished these socks, I suspect she might also have gotten a good start on the second pair of socks.  That’s okay.  I’m okay with that.  I have discovered the secret to finding time.

 

Montana Socks

Montana Socks

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Mandalas

Initially, I had hoped to have a video podcast showing you examples of a few mandalas I have made, and the peacefulness that lace knitting brings me, but unfortunately, the video could not be converted and uploaded.  I was going to share with you my disappointment at not being able to upload it, but instead, I decided to share with you the text of the vlog and a few pictures from it instead.

Hey there, and welcome to another edition of Sherwooks Nook.  Remember when I said I would show you a Mandala?  Well, today’s the day.  Take a look here at what I’m talking about.

A mandala means different things to different people.  Different religions apply different meanings to mandalas.  In Christianity, for example, forms which are reminiscent of mandalas include the Celtic cross, the rosary, the halo, the Crown of Thorns, and rose windows, just to name a few.  For pychotherapist Carl Jung, the making of mandalas (for him, circular drawings) represented moments of intense personal growth and their appearance indicated a profound re-balancing was occurring in an individual’s life.  Hmmm, okaaaay.  For me, they are a beautiful lace creation that I knit.  Many patterns for mandalas are actually doily patterns that you merely stretch over wire or an embroidery hoop.  You can find other examples of hand knit mandalas on the web.

cj-mandala

It is easy for some knitters to easily say that lace knitting is just a lot of yarn overs.   That’s somewhat true, but it is the placement of those yarn overs, in combination with other stitches like nupps and slip overs and the addition of beads that add character to the yarn overs.

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I find lace knitting cathartic.  There is something especially therapeutic about the attention that needs to be paid to the item at hand and the beauty of the result that is especially calming and restorative for me.  I don’t know if it is the focus I have to give to lace projects that essentially puts me in a mindfulness state (I usually only work on lace during the summer months when the days are longer and the television shorter) or if it is the actual creation of making such a fine, weblike creation.  Whatever it is, it never seems to fail that each summer I get a craving to hold some really fine yarn in my hands and create something beautiful with it.

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Well, thank you for joining me again.  I hope you all have a good week!

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Time

Multitasking

Download this episode (right click and save) Click here to play this podcast. To download, right-click and save.

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Welcome to Sherwook’s Nook

My name is Mary.  I am a fanatic knitter, librarian, lover of books (even before I became a librarian), cat whisperer (well, not really, but I do talk to my cat and she usually does what I want her to do – within reason), swimmer, and haphazard gardener.  I have been knitting since I was roughly 19 years of age.

Learning to Knit

I remember I had just completed my first semester at college.  I was home for winter break and experiencing my first real winter.  My mom had just bought and moved into a house outside the south entrance to Yosemite National Park in a tiny little town (roughly a mile in length) called Fish Camp.  Located at the 5,000 foot elevation, the snow would come down steady and fast.  I remember one afternoon when it started at dusk (snow storms seemed to always come at dusk) and by the time we got up the next morning four feet of snow had fallen.  The setting was just perfect for taking up the craft of knitting.

fish-camp-snow

First Project

My first project was a red afghan done in basket weave squares that measured 4” x 4” square.  My mom taught me to knit.  She got me going with the basic knit and purl stitches and how to read a pattern.  She would knit too.  We would often knit in the evening while watching television, a fire in the fireplace, a dog at our feet and two cats, one in a lap and the other in front of the fire.  My afghan was knit on large (size 13) needles.  The afghan worked up quickly and I loved that blanket.  With that first project I was hooked, and now I usually make time every day to find time to do some knitting.

The Zen of Knitting

I find knitting to be very cathartic, peaceful, and it definitely takes the edge off any stress I may be experiencing.  Plus, I get wearable objects that get lots of compliments.  A win-win combination, if you ask me!  In fact, knitting has been found to have mental health benefits.  In an article published by the New York Times earlier this year, knitting was found to reduce blood pressure and also help with stress.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/the-health-benefits-of-knitting/?_r=0    I’m also one of those knitters who take my knitting with me to lots of places.  I like to knit on socks when I’m in meetings.  There is very little thought involved in knitting socks except when you are working the heel.  Going around and around on double-pointed needles is very soothing to me.  Other than that, you just have to be aware of your length.  They are the perfect take along project.

Current Projects

Currently, I have the prerequisite socks in progress.

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 I am also working on the Ashburn scarf, seen here.  And here. . . my Ashburn, in progress.

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