Monday, April 21, 2008

I Hate Deep Cleansing Breaths

Ok folks, here's the thing. We all know I'm a little mentally imbalanced. It isn't that I was born crazy. Well, to be perfectly honest, I've always been a little crazy, but before it was in the fun, spontaneous, unexpected crazy way. The good crazy. Now I'm just crazy-crazy, but as you all know, I am working on it. With my new BFF, Valium. If any of the Valium people are reading this, and want to sponsor my blog, do let me know, as I am your biggest fan. Seriously.

Ok, I digress. I need to join the gym. I really do, and I shall join, and soon,even though the gym I want to go to is crazy fucking expensive. I mean, for the price of this gym, I should get complimentary bikini waxes and massages by the hot male trainers, but, sadly, that is not included. It does, however, have a pool, and so in the spirit of health, I am going to go forth and get down with the geriatrics in the arthritis 10 am swim. Rock. I don't mind working out with a bunch of old people. In fact, once in college, my roommate got me to go to her gym for 3 months of this "body sculpting" class. Which is honestly a special kind of hell. It was an hour of crunches, lunges, and then arm workouts. This was in sunny Florida, home of freakishly large insects, and lots of old people. And every old lady in that class kicked my ass. We'd stumble out of the gym, light up a cigarette and go for a cool down shopping session at the local Super Wal Mart. Now, before you give me shit about Wal-Mart, let me tell you that once the Woolworths across from campus closed down, this was the ONLY place to shop for anything. So we'd hit Wal-Mart and go through the aisles filling our carts with the stuff we'd eat later. Gummy bears for me, cereal for her. Sadly folks, this was probably the healthiest time of my life.

So I have been to the gym, I've had my ass kicked, cardiac-ally speaking by a 70 year old woman with large permed hair who wore full make up to work out, and I was ok with that.

I also took a somatopsychology class, and every 3rd lesson we would do Tai Chi. I liked Tai Chi, and it was more of a work out than I expected. At that time, I would really get into it, meditate, get stretchy, and whatnot. It was good.

Here's the thing. Since Ad died, I can't stand to be still with my thoughts. I don't sleep in anymore, once my eyes open, I'm up. No more languishing, sliding my leg across the sheets to find a cool spot, and flipping my pillow over for the same. Now, I hope out of bed, and when I knit or do mosaic, I watch tv or talk on the phone while I do it. Bottom line, I need to keep my mind as busy as possible, because letting it rest means accessing things I have no desire to remember.

One thing my therapist has really wanted me to do is deep breathing exercises. I keep telling him I can't. Recently, he asked me to close my eyes and take some deep cleansing breaths. The first one wasn't so bad. The second was was ok, and with the third one, I started feeling uncomfortable. It was probably around breath 15, when tears started rolling down my cheeks, that he said to stop. He believes me now. Apparently, he could see my shoulders continue to rise and rise without relaxing, my hands slowly curled into fists, and my breathing got very shaky.

I didn't notice these things, because I was busy trying not to have a complete freak-out, but it brought home an interesting realization. What the professionals like to call "a break through."

I am not comfortable inside my own body. Doesn't that just suck? I mean, it's not such a surprise. Physically, in the past three years I've developed 2 auto-immune diseases, I crushed my ankle and was bedridden for three months, I had a horrid steroid reaction that made me look like a pregnant bearded lady crossed with a gremlin that had just gotten wet (fat pads on my back). And then I watched as my husband died, and my dad got cancer, and oh, fuck me. Why would I like any part of this body?

Before, at least the mental was ok, you know? Apart from my vampire-like avoidance of mirrors when I was huge and bloated with no discernible neck and a beard that my waxer (to her credit, she was right) refused to wax off, claiming I'd then always have it.

But now, my body is fucked, I never know how I'll feel, how much pain I'll be in, how tired. I'm jabbing myself in the thigh regularly with needles, which has gotten a little tougher lately because I've lost some of the extra weight I'd put on trying to quit smoking and don't have that much fat in my thighs. Which normally would be a GOOD thing, but it makes it harder to find some nice fat to jab that needle into, and I fear I will soon be bending over and begging friends to jab a needle in my ass. Now, that will be an interesting friend test, don't you think?

On top of the physical blech, I'm kind of an emotional wreck. So much so, I can't do deep calming breathing! What kind of special crazy do you have to be to not be able to handle deep cleansing breathing?!

This kind of crazy. But that's ok.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ireland, Part One.

We stayed in Killarney for a week, in County Kerry, and it was great. These sheep were in a field behind where we were staying.

Here is a leaping lamb.( Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Now, this little lamb, the white one? Doesn't it look cute? It is, it's very cute. Here it is with it's mummy and sibling.

And here it is with its mother...

Cute, no? No. Because.... after this photo was taken, it sort of, looked at us (Moose and I), and we thought that was pretty cool, it was just staring at us. And staring. And... staring. I mean, it didn't even blink. Not at all. It just...kept...staring. Honestly, I'm pretty sure it didn't even blink. Not even once.
Here it is, and I know it's blurry, but you get the idea.

And other sheep, other lambs came up to it, and it would ignore them and KEEP STARING. I'm pretty sure it had the devil in it, and so we did the obvious, and ran. We fled from the unblinking devil lamb. I must say, we did comment, while fleeing in horror, that it had really cute ears. For a minion of the devil.

Killarney was gorgeous. Really, really lovely and green. I took the giant fuck-off bus we'd been given, and I drove that bitch around the Ring of Kerry. Which was dodgy, because at the best of times, the road looked like this

and there were sheep everywhere I tried not to hit, whilst also trying to keep the van from plunging off the insanely narrow roads.

We stopped at Ladies View, which was named after Queen Victoria's favorite view in the area when she visited with her ladies of the court.

Here is my family at Ladies view- Left to right- John (Ad's dad), me, Ad's stepmum Jackie, Moose, my aunt Re, my dad (who tried to hide in every damn photo),and Mum.

We stopped for lunch in Sneem

and it was a great day, though the weather could have been a bit nicer, it rained on and off all day.

We visited Mucross House, which is a beautiful estate, and the property and lands were given to Ireland and became it's first national park. This is also where I scored that free wool. We took a Jaunting Cart around the grounds, looking at the lakes, and visiting the Abbey.

This was the horse that pulled one of the carriages, Molly, and the cat, Misty.

Here are the Abbey Ruins, which are being restored at the moment. Really impressive, lovely place. People are still laid to rest on the grounds, even today. Because of the weather in the area, I was surprised that some of the graves that were 20 years old looked as old as the graves that were 200 years old.

This place was very atmospheric, and so, with my interest in the paranormal, I ducked into a deserted, pitch dark corridor and took a couple of photos.

Here is the first, the camera really struggled to get the photo, and I have to say I'm impressed. A tripod would have been handy, because the camera took about 15 seconds to take each one.

Then I stepped further into the corridor, and caught these two

Very cool, but alas, not a ghost. There was a teeny window down at the very end of the hall, and it caught and bent the light.

Here is dad and I in the jaunting cart. We were going beneath a bunch of trees, and it was too dark, so I had to lighten it, but I like this photo-

And here is Moose and I with our driver. He was a cool guy who sang little made up songs to the horse while we drove.

Just down the road from Mucross House is the Torc Waterfall, which Moose was really keen on seeing, and which she almost met her maker in.
The path leading to the waterfall was unbelievably verdant. I've never seen so much green, and I love green.


Moose tried out my camera, and I showed her how action mode works. Here I am, er, in action, although I can't really move very fast, on account of the lousy body I'm stuck with, but this is my representation of green inspired joy!

Oh, and the waterfall? Very impressive. Best one I've seen, though to be fair, the only one I've seen, really.

And here I am with the Moose, firmly gripping her jacket to keep her from pitching headfirst into the falls...

Feeling sheep deprived? Here's that lamb, post-leap.

We also took a day trip to Kinsale, which was beautiful.

So that's it for now, though there is more to come, including MORE SHEEP, the Ring of Dingle (insanely beautiful), Moose's first shot, hailstorms in Dublin, and illegal photography at the Book of Kells!

All the photos can be seen on my flickr page. Just click the thing on the right there!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

RUPE- A Cabled Unisex Scarf Pattern for Man or a Woman

This is a Cabled Scarf for a Man or a Woman. It was made as a 40th birthday gift for my friend Rupert. I tried a number of patterns, finally coming up with this, which has a stitch count of 40 and worked out to be the width I was looking for on size 9 needles.

After a couple of repeats you may not need to look at the pattern anymore. Once you're more comfortable, you'll see that on the wrong side, you're just knitting your knit stitches and purling the purls.

There is no gauge here, my finished scarf is about 6" wide and 6' long, and you can make it as long or short as you want, depending on taste and how much yarn you have available.

approx. 400 yards heavy worsted yarn
Size 9 Needles
Cable Needle

CO 40 Stitches

Row 1 (RS) - k5, p2, k2, p2, k18, p2, k2, p2, k5

Row 2 (and all WS) – p5, k2, p2, k2, p18, k2, p2, k2, p5

Row 3 – K1, C4F, p2, RT, p2, [k3, (C6F 2x), k3], p2, RT, p2, C4B, K1

Row 5 – k5 ,p2, k2, p2, k18, p2, k2, p2, k5

R7 – K1, C4F, p2, RT, p2, (C6B 3x), p2, RT, p2, C4B, K1

R8- rep 2

Repeat these 8 rows for pattern
Knit to desired length and bind off


C4F- Place two stitches on cable needle and hold in front of work. Knit two st, then knit the 2 st from the cable needle

C4B- Place two stitches on cable needle and hold in back of work. Knit two st, then knit the 2 st from the cable needle

RT- Knit two stitches together,keeping the stitches on the left needle, then knit into the first stitch again, then remove both stitches from needle

C6F- Place three stitches on cable needle and hold at the front of work. K3 then K3 st from cable needle

C6B- Place three st on cable needle and hold at back of work. K3, then K3 st from cable needle

Sheep, Hand spun, Irish Wool, WIP, and a pattern, coming soon!

This IS a knitting blog, right? Sorry, I've been absent for a while. I've been really tired lately, which is all part of the joys of auto-immune. But I was also in a knitting funk for a while. But I am happy to say, the funk has lifted. Where to start?! I have to much to tell you all, including all about my trip to Ireland, the medium report, if people are interested in it, and some projects I have been, in fact, KNITTING!!

Ok, let's start with some WIP.

I have been working on a blanket for my best friend, Lara. AGES ago, she asked for a blanket, and she never asks for anything knit, and I've been trying to find a pattern and yarn I like. Here's what I've got-

I am knitting squares using 3 shades of Ella Rae's Shibu yarn. Mostly silk, and it knits up beautifully.

So here are the squares I've got so far. Eventually everything will be blocked and put together. Here is what I am thinking, in terms of putting it together- Can anyone spot a problem with this plan?

Black yarn in same weight. Pick up and knit 2 garter rows, on two squares, using 3 needle bind off to join. Repeat. Then do the same with rows. Then pick up and knit a garter band in black around the blanket.

We'll see how that goes.

Ireland was fantastic, and I'll be posting a re-cap of it in the next couple of days, but here are some highlights.

Don't you love the face? Click for a bigger pic. This was taken on the Ring of Dingle, near an ancient fort.

Now, one of the really interesting things about the trip was we were given a VW bus, which sat 9 people, as our rental. And I drove it! I actually had no problem driving on the left, that was surprisingly like second nature to me. But the actually size of the car was a bit of a beast.

Here is a photo I took on the Ring of Kerry, from the window, of some sheep in the road.

Ok, a couple of things to notice, besides the sheep I kept trying not to hit with the giant fucking bus. Can you see behind me how narrow the road was? This was actually a fairly wide portion of road for the area. And the speed limit was generally between 80-100 km and hour on them, the same as a four lane highway. Crazy.

Also, those mountains- I kept having "Whiskey in the Jar" in my head... you know... "As I was going over the far famed Kerry mountains... It's one of my favorites. Anyhoo.

I scored some free yarn! We visited Mucross House, which is part of Ireland's first national park. Here's a pic of the house, taken from the Jaunting Cart we went riding in

They do their own spinning and weaving there, and during the tour of the house, we came upon a woman doing a spinning demo. We got to chatting, and she gave me all of the wool she had been working on that day. Oh yeah. It's crazily thick and thin, smells of sheep, and I have to hold what I'm working on and let it spin around to straighten the yarn, but I'm enjoying it.
I'm just knitting a scarf on large needles with it, and I'm not sure yet what to do with the dark brown.

I also bought some yarn. I spend about $20 US per massive hank on three of these-

I think it'll be enough for a nice sweater, but it's measured in weight, not yardage.

Here's a pic with flash, it's a really nice tweed.

I managed to only buy this yarn, so I was fairly pleased with myself and my restraint. Though, to be fair, they only had three hanks in this color.

I haven't posted a photo of a sheep in about 5 minutes, so here you go-

I really loved Ireland. Did I mention how GREEN everything was?
I didn't do anything to alter the color in this photo!

Ok, Rupe, if you're reading this, STOP NOW!! Stop now and look after your birthday, ok? Please?

Now, my very dear friend, Rupert, has a major birthday approaching, and a long time ago I caught him "admiring" some yarn when I dragged him into a shop.

I decided to make him a scarf with the 3 hanks of "Highlander" I bought, and after several false starts, made up my own pattern, which I'll call Rupe.

Here was one false start- Persephone- man, this is one gorgeous pattern, but the Highlander is knit on 9's and it was just a little too wide, I thought I'd run out of yarn.

I frogged this, but will absolutely be knitting this pattern again, with an aran weight. Gorgeous, gorgeous pattern.

So here is the WIP of Rupe-

I'll be posting the pattern soon, if you think you'd be interested!

Also, coming soon...
More Photo's of Ireland, Including:
Hey, that's NOT a ghost!
Moose does her first shot.. and
But Wait! There's more Sheep!