Essie’s Cable Brim Hat: A Year-End Freebie

What I did this year:

1.  Got out of the house.  I stopped hibernating and went to knitting group, family get-togethers, my daughter’s place, the grocery store.  Nothing remarkable to you, but a definite increase in activity, especially the last quarter of the year. 

2.  Renewed some acquaintances.  Got in touch with some old friends and made more effort with my neighbors. 

3.  Made some decisions about my store.  Decided to treat it more seriously, and to open the children’s store.  Started more intense marketing, including carrying some finished products around with me to show off.

4.  Started to deal with my weight.  Joined Weight Watchers two weeks ago.  Increased my activity at home to an average of 40 minutes per day.  Lost seven pounds in the first two weeks. 

5.  Realized that I had been making decisions like a dying person.  This led to some major changes in how I handle finances.

6.  Decided to put my house on the market.  It’s that or take in boarders.  I don’t want stranger-boarders.  I’m too picky. 

7.  Cut off my hair.  Who needs hair?  Seriously, we hang on to dead hair like the person underneath isn’t beautiful in their own right. 

8.  Put extra effort into continuing education.  Got my 20 hours and then some, in areas that are important to me. 

9.  Took a different approach to pain control.  Pain limits activity, thus I need to take at least enough medicine to get me moving every day.

10.  Started cleaning out the clutter.  Even sent boxes of books to the secondhand bookstore.  Not that there isn’t enough stuff left to fill an eighteen-wheeler.

11.  Got more serious about herbal medicine.  See 12/24/2008 post.

12.  What?  I need more?  Hell, I was busy!


Aside from taking stock of my year (which took all of five minutes) I am knitting today.  (I know that comes as an immense surprise.)  I’m halfway through a pink lace scarf in my favorite Breeze (the cashmere and silk wonder that Karabella is discontinuing in spite of my objections). 


I’m more than halfway through a cabled hat in Blue Sky Alpaca organic, undyed cotton.  I was thumbing through a cable book today and saw something similar, only with a narrower band and plain top.  Of course, I’m obsessed enough that my top has to have teeny cables all around it, too.  When I put buttons on it, it will be a fashion statement.  I actually knitted in buttonholes so it will have a functional tab. 


My cousin’s black cashmere mittens aren’t done.  I let them rest while I waited for my portable craft light (Mighty Bright, $13 at to be delivered.  My eyes really needed the help. 


Joining the etsyknitters team has opened my eyes to some of the devious things people do to make their shops more successful.  Boo.  My experience has been that most knitters are wonderful, honest people.  I can’t get focused on the bad and ugly.  In that vein, I will now tell you how I made the cable hat.  This is a “how to”, not a pattern.  It will work for pretty much any button-banded hat. 

1.  Decide what design you want on the band.  Since you’re going to the trouble of making a band, instead of just knitting in the round from the forehead up, make it count.  It should be a design that lends itself to vertical display, like cables or ribbing or other vertical stitchwork.  It can be like the random-brim hat.   

2.  Cast on enough stitches for the width of the band.  In the case of the cabled hat, I used a chunky yarn and size 8 needles and loosely cast on 18 stitches:  4 each for the cables (8), 2 for each purl section surrounding and between the cables (6), and 2 each for the knit stitch bands at top and bottom (4). 

3.  Proceed to knit your desired pattern for 20 (if stretchy) or 21.5  (not so stretchy) inches.  The next row, knit in the desired number of buttonholes like this:  Follow your pattern to where you want the button hole.  Yarnover for the next stitch.  Knit (or purl-whatever works with your pattern) the next two stitches together.  Knit over to the next button hole location and repeat the process. 

4.  Work two more rows in your pattern, then bind off. 

5.  Turn your band on its side.  Use two circs or four double points that are at least one size smaller than the previous needles.  Starting two rows past the buttonholes, pick up and knit one stitch for every row of band.  Connect to work in the round. 

Round 1:  (knit 1, yo, knit 1, yo) repeat all the way around

Round 2:  It’s your choice!  You can make the top of this hat whatever you want it to be.  In the case of my cable hat, I picked up and knitted 40 stitches, so round 1 gave me a total of 80.  For round 2, I did (knit 4, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1) all the way around, to set up my mini-cable pattern.

Round 3 (my cable hat):  (knit 4, purl 1, 1×1 left cable, purl 1) all the way around. 

Row 4 and beyond:  I repeated rounds 2 and 3 up to where I decreased to make the top.  Okay, actually I’m not up there yet, but when I have about 7.5 inches total I will.  At that point, I’ll probably knit 2 together for a couple of rounds, get it down to something manageable, thread the yarn through the remaining stitches and pull tight.  You know the drill.  I want my hat to be kind of flat on top, so that means rapid decrease, instead of gradually decreasing towards a more pointy top. 


Okay, I guess that’s a pattern after all.  It’s copyrighted, folks.  Don’t sell it, just make it for yourself and your cold friends and family.  I do so love sharing!



Knitting Towards the Flare

This approaching flare thing is kind of interesting.  I can see symptoms beginning, gradually increasing, and becoming a problem.  It must be that regeneration of the B-cell population doesn’t occur all at once, so the level of inflammation gradually increases and affects more areas of the body.  Previously, I would flare by suddenly waking up with severe leg stiffness or brand new pains.  Right now, I’m having this progression from sore feet to stiff hands to painful knees to feverish feeling. 


This is the problem with being a physician who is also a patient:  you spend too much time observing your symptoms and appreciating the parameters and presentation of them.  Two years ago, I had a blood clot in my arm.  It began with an IV site in the forearm and spread all the way up my arm to the cephalic vein at the front of my shoulder.  At the same time as I was suffering from the pain and swelling, I was totally intrigued.  I had never had a patient with a thrombosus in an arm (legs are a more common site by at least 7:1), and I wanted to learn from it.  I found myself feeling that hard, lumpy length of vein over and over, memorizing the feel of it.  I stood in the mirror and compared the size of the swollen arm to the normal one.  I stared at the screen and listened to the flow sounds when I had the Dopper study to determine the extent of the clot.  I was totally entertained. 


I’ve done more than contemplate symptoms today.  I have also worked on the lace shirt.  It now measures at least three inches longer than it did when I frogged it.  The decrease rows go faster and faster.  I will finish the back this weekend.  I also worked on my second Obama banner.  I’ve knitted the background, tomorrow I can start duplicate stitching.  I looked on Etsy for Obama gear and there was a nice-huge, actually-selection of buttons and jewelry and t-shirts and art, but nothing like my knitted things.  Sometimes you can slide into a little niche with a unique product.


I’m not really writing today.  This is just the briefest of updates.  I’ve promised that I will get extra sleep for this early flare, and I like to keep my promises to myself (and others, too, but especially to me).  I finished The Immortal today, and I’m looking forward to picking up a new book tomorrow.  Opening a new work holds some magic for me.  Don’t get me started talking about reading. 



A Flare of Drunk Knitting

I learned a new term after my daughter reached a certain age:  drunk dialing.  The Urban Dictionary ( defines a drunk dial this way:  “To make a regrettable late night phone call after drinking heavily.”  Last night I had terrible knee pain, as I have  had for several days.  It seems to always come at the end of the day; typical of inflammation, it isn’t related to the time I’m actually using the knees.  Anyway, I took a whole pain pill about 10 p.m.  At 3 a.m. the pain awakened me, again intense.  I took another whole pain pill.  At 6 a.m. my body awakened, per usual, and I got up to start my day.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the pain medicine was still affecting me.  I got my coffee and some cereal, then settled down for some knitting.


You might be drunk knitting if…
…your humming turns into singing “hey mr. rayon, you are my brother” in a high falsetto so you can hear the echo.
…you gradually take phrases of stitches off your lace pattern until you are knitting “slip 2, knit 1, psso, slip 2, knit 1, psso, slip 2, slip 2, slip 2”.
…you have to say the words aloud to keep track.
…you pick up your knitting and find that you are mid-row, spend 10 minutes trying to figure out your position on the pattern, then realize it’s the purl every stitch side.
…you seriously consider using chunky yarn and big needles to knit yourself a tent.
…you kill a fly on your knitting couch and can’t stop saying “dead fly, dead fly, dead fly” in your squeakiest high voice.
…you stop knitting to play air guitar on your needles.
…your green yarn suddenly reminds you of avocados, french green beans, pistachios, spinach, and every other green food you love.
…you make up stories about your stitches:  knit two together is two gay people getting married in California because it’s finally legal, a slip stitch is escaping and sets into motion a whole capture consisting of a knit stitch making it climb over the fence and lay down.
…you make up a new hummus recipe in your head and immediately go to the blender and execute
(garbanzo beans, olive oil, sesame tahini, salt and pepper, basil, lime juice, plain greek yogurt, grape seed oil Vegenaise).
It was an interesting morning.  I had a ball entertaining myself.  And the hummus was the best I ever made.  Even Chris the chef-to-be said so.  All the while, I was playing Cold Play’s new Viva la Vida, newly downloaded from iTunes.  (I believe in paying for your music and your books.)  The tunes are excellent!  Fabulous lyrics, new, fresh and ironic, but immediately singable:  “Those who are dead are not dead, they’re just living in my head; and since I fell for that spell I am living there as well.”   Love it. 
I saw my rheumatologist this afternoon.  He agreed to collude with me in denying that I’m in a flare for the moment.  He did point out several places where swollen synovium was/n’t really there.  He also showed me the joint fluid that could/n’t be swelling my knees.  We decided that unless I’m in worse trouble, I don’t have to increase my prednisone.  Worse trouble means leg stiffness, worse systemic symptoms, etc.  The idea is to hold off on another round of B-cell killing as long as possible.  I got labwork, as usual.  I have blood drawn monthly, since I take methotrexate and it can cause numerous side effects, some of which need blood monitoring.   I swapped stories with the staff, a group that I love, and headed home.
I have knitted all day.  (I think you could divide knitters temperamentally by whether they use the past tense “knit” or “knitted”.  Both are correct.)  I confined my knitting to the recently frogged green shirt for my daughter.  It’s going beautifully.  Another hour and I’ll be back to the decreases in the back.  The construction of the top is very elegant, with the bodice and sleeve being one piece, sewn to the slanted empire waist of the back and front.  I’m going to be a lace junkie.  Might as well accept it, I doubt there’s a cure. 
If you want to make the drunk knitting hummus, toss all the ingredients in the blender.  I used one 15 oz. can of garbanzos, about 2 TBSP olive oil and 2TBSP sesame tahini, and 1/4 c. each of Vegenaise (or mayo) and plain yogurt.  Season to taste.  Enjoy. 


Tomatoes, Sneezes, and Knitting Lace in Public

I really should make a big lead-in and build up to telling my best news, but I can’t help blurting it out:  I’m knitting lace!!  When I first began to knit seriously, there was a mental hierarchy of knitting goals.  The things that I both avoided and aspired to were (1) cables, (2) socks and (3) lace.  Now I’ve done them all.  Well, okay, I just started the lace.  But I have gotten my nerve up and learned new stuff. 


I told you I was starting the Leaf Kimono Top from the latest Interweave Knits.  Yesterday I swatched.  Today, I started the back.  I’ve done three repeats of the eight-row lace pattern.  I’m finding that I love knitting lace.  It’s very intellectual knitting.  You have to pay attention, and in some cases use your logic.  My brain sees the lace instructions in phrases.  For instance, this set of stitches:  “yo, k1, sl 2 as if to k2tog, k1, pass 2 slipped sts over, k1, yo, k1” is recorded as “yarn over, knit 1, slip two; knit 1 (has to follow the slip) and pass 2 over; knit 1-yarn over-knit 1 (to precede next yarnover).”  While I am recalling what I’ve memorized, there’s a simultaneous commentary explaining why the stitches go that way.  Crazy, hunh?  This also goes very fast.  My breathing goes with the phrases, the way I used to breathe in time with my running. 


In all that talk, I don’t think I mentioned that this English Lace pattern is beautiful.  Of course it’s not opened up like it will be after blocking.  More to come!     


My axillary (underarm) infection is getting better.  Now there’s a cold vying for my attention.  Pooey.  One of the kids in the house is matching me sneeze for sneeze.  We’ve got plenty of Kleenex and fizzy water. 


I’m thinking Coolidge Park is a great place for an early afternoon knit on June 14.  How about it?  Someone suggested having buttons to wear (and I think to have for anyone who wants to join us).  I went to the World Wide Knit in Public Day website, linked to their shopping page on Cafepress, and scored 30 official minibuttons.  I’ll give them up for a mini-fee.  I feel like I’m opening my coat and saying “Psst, KIP buttons, cheap.”  Talk to me, people.  I’m thinking that as soon as we set up the champagne table, catering, and red carpet service, we’ll be ready.  Has anybody notified People Magazine? 


I’ve been in the mood for a grand “hehe” all day.  It’s Dustin Hoffman’s fault.  In a Today Show interview that aired this morning, he told a joke:  Two cannibals were eating a clown.  One said to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?” 


We staked and tied up the tomato plants today.  They are growing rapidly.  One of the Black Plums has two tomatoes starting!  I’m going to have to call up my gardening competition and sell some wolf tickets.  I’m sure my tomatoes are going to be out first!