Tired Saturday Ramblings

I’ve been quiet here, not by choice, but because my computer was ailing.  Even though it seemed mortally wounded, my trip to Best Buy’s Geek Squad revealed a one-button cure.   The tech was kind enough to tell me that if he pushed the button it would cost $129, or I could tote my machine back home and push the button myself for free.  I’m not sure that the last two days of hair-pulling and cussing were exactly free, but I do finally have the machine in seemingly good working order.  If the squad had announced that my baby couldn’t be resuscitated, there would have been great weeping and wailing at my abode. 


When I realized my machine was in trouble, I tried to copy my product photos onto discs.  I was unsuccessful, so I have a bit of photography to repeat on recently made items.  Other photos are no great loss, fortunately. 


It is Saturday, and I was out all day.  I had knitting group, then we went on a group field trip, then I made a short grocery shop at Fresh Market.  Fresh Market should be ashamed.  They had little old ladies giving away samples of a passable pumpkin pie, enhanced with tiny dollops of whipped cream.  As it seemed that I wouldn’t get to any baking this weekend, I purchased one for my new neighbors.  As I was unpacking groceries at home, my eye fell on the ingredients list.  It began like this:  “pumpkin, high fructose corn syrup…”.  You may have noticed that the Cheap, Unhealthy Ingredients Lobby has been running commercials trying to make high fructose corn syrup benign.  Some of the “research” they quote was actually funded by the industry.  Bogus studies aside, a 2007 Rutgers study found evidence that high fructose corn syrup did tissue damage that leads to diabetes (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823094819.htm). 


Nutrition scientists are pretty much in agreement that Americans need to decrease their sugar intake.  Part of the difficulty with high fructose corn syrup is that its cheapness and its ability to prolong shelflife has manufacturers putting it in foods where it would never be suspected.  A tablespoon of ketchup has 1 teaspoon of high fructose corn syrup.  Products as “unsweet” as Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and frozen turkey can include high fructose corn syrup.  We would have to spend an inordinate time reading ingredients lists in order to flush it out and truly decrease sugar intake.  All this information makes me happy that I have, for the most part, drastically cut processed foods out of my diet.  Eating like our great-grandparents seems to be the safest plan. 


I am knitting with Southwest Trading Company’s Karaoke tonight.  I’m enjoying making a very sculptural neck warmer.  It began with a medallion, five inches across, knit from the center outward, with enough increases to make ruffled edges.  After I cast off half of the stitches, I continued down the length of the piece, adding four cables-two small, two very large, all meandering along with unpredictable crosses.  I’m excited about the turns this has taken.  Yesterday I blocked the lacey red cashmere scarf.  Today, it was sold.  I’ll start another lace scarf in Karabella Breeze shortly.  Yesterday I made three hats-two for children, one beret style for an adult.  They were all made with SWTC’s combinations of soy and wool-Karaoke and Gianna.   They were great fun. 


I am suddenly as tired as I can be.  I’ve had a great day.  Time to rest.



The Short Walks

Sometimes I am frustrated by the tiny scale I’ve had to use to measure my progress.  Today I took “a walk”.  I put the animal on a leash, went out of the garage, down the driveway, across the street and back to the mailbox.  Then I took the sidewalk around to the front porch and back, ending at the garage.  The cool part was standing in the driveway, saying “Hello” to the neighbor’s child as she whizzed past me in her Barbie convertible.  For several months I haven’t felt much a part of my neighborhood.  It’s a great place, and I’m happy to show my face outdoors and wave to people.  I’m making progress!

Today I put some hours into finishing the Gianna sweater.  (Gianna is the yarn, discontinued by South West Trading Company.)  I love it.  It is a child’s size 4, suitable for girl or boy, and it is just as soft and cozy as the yarn looks.  The soy and wool combination will wear well and be warm without being unduly heavy.  I knit it in the round from the bottom to the underarms, then knit half the stitches to make the back and half for the front.  It has a placket in the front that closes with one big button.  I dug through my button boxes for 30 minutes, trying to find the right button.  I don’t purchase buttons the way most people do.  I wait until a sewing store has a sale on buttons, then I get handfuls of reduced-price cards.  That way, I might get a set of four buttons for 25 cents.  I also find interesting buttons that are handmade, usually searching them out from Etsy stores.  Altogether, I used three skeins of green Gianna and barely over two skeins of blue.  In real prices (MSRP) this would have cost over $60, but my yarn cost was under $12.  If you follow sales online, you can knit for much less, using fabulous yarns. 

Talk, talk, talk.  Here’s the photos:


 You can see the ribbing (1×1) at the cuff and bottom. 

Pretty cool button, hmmm?  The placket is on the underside, making about an inch overlap where the top fronts come together.  I debated about putting buttons on the placket to button through the top layer, but decided on one large, more decorative button.  I thought it would be easier to fasten, and given the age of the child who will wear it, easy is desirable. 


 Wow, the day has passed, Law and Order is on, and Lucy is cuddled up next to me.  The pouring rain makes me want to sleep, but I also feel the need for a little sock time before I give in to it. 


How to Take a Bath

Someone is looking at today’s subject and saying “You are @#X&ing kidding me.”  I promise, this is no joke.  When you have a chronic illness that limits your energy or mobility or both, common chores of personal care can be devilishly difficult.  I took a bath this morning, thus moving myself into the “cleanest girl in the house” category.  Currently my only competitor is the dachshund, Lucy, so I hold that title most days, but it was used with some significance when I was a kid, the next to the last of six daughters.  Anyway, I digress from the tutorial.

My biggest rule about chores like this is to do it the same every time.  Following a routine that is well thought-out is helpful in preventing injuries.  Force yourself to stick to the plan without hurrying or improvising.  Bathrooms are made of hard, slippery materials, and injuries incurred in them tend to be very tough knocks, potentially fatal ones. 

The second rule to cling to is to check your energy first.  If you don’t have enough energy to complete this task, don’t start it.  Bathing is not something you can stop in the middle.  Running out of steam while you’re in the tub and the water is getting cold is no fun.  Neither is taking a break by sitting on the bathroom floor until you can crawl or creep to somewhere more comfortable.  If you can’t manage the full bath, there’s always a “bird bath” in the sink, or some judicious attention to critical places with a few baby wipes.  You won’t be disgusting if soap doesn’t reach your ankles every day. 

Once you are in for the task, remind yourself that a bath can also be therapeutic.  The warm water has relaxing, healing properties, especially if painful joints are part of your daily life.  Plan to spend an extra five or ten minutes beyond what it takes to actually clean yourself.  Place your telephone, book, mp3 player, and other necessities within easy reach of the tub. 

This is how I approach the tub.  I stand next to it, turned sideways, with my right leg against the tub.  I lean forward and place both hands on the side of the tub.  Holding on firmly, I lift my right leg over the side and place my foot into the tub.  Now I change my right hand, moving it over to grip the other side of the tub.  I hold on firmly again, one hand on either side of the tub, balancing on my right leg as I lift my left leg up and over.  Still holding on, I lower myself to one knee (whichever one is better or less painful that day), then down to a sitting position.   At all times I have at least three stable points.  I’m never holding on to something shaky, like the towel rack.  I am keeping my center of gravity in the center of the three stable points.  I move slowly and deliberately.  It can be disaster to quickly put weight on a very tender joint, with either collapse or over-reacting producing a fall.  It can also be disaster to find that you are momentarily light-headed from medication, and don’t have a good grip on anything. 

While you are in the tub, be flexible and creative.  If a movement hurts, don’t force it.  You can clean yourself just as easily laying on your side as perched on your knees.  Invest in a soft bath sponge or brush with a long handle so you don’t have to strain and contort to reach your back and your feet.  Remember, energy saved here means spoons for later.   (See the post “A Challenge” on January 4, 2008.)

Getting out of the tub is a reversal of the getting in movements, not a bit less deliberate.  Don’t get careless just because the task is almost over.  Be sure you are stepping out onto a secure, slip-proof surface.  Have your towel in easy reach where you don’t strain to grab it.  Sit down to dry your feet rather than hopping around on one leg. 

Okay, the bath is done.  I’m ready for knitting.  My fingers need a break from size 1 needles and tight stitches, so I’m setting down my sock this morning and working on a child’s sweater in South West Trading Company’s Gianna.  Gianna is soft and bulky, 50% soy and 50% wool, in bright, clear colors.  I ordered a bag at a tremendous discount from an on-line closeout company.  (Yes, you can do that, too!)  I have not used this yarn before, so I’ll be exploring for gauge and pattern.  Fun! 

A blog headline caught my eye as I was getting started this morning.  You HAVE to read this woman’s explanation for how knitting socks helps the economy.  I am feeling downright patriotic!  Go to www.knit1purr2.wordpress.com  and look at her February 6 post.  You will understand that I am not just being a selfish, luxury-seeking dilettante when I insist on hand-knitting my socks.