Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Fibers are NO GOOD

I don't think I ever put it up here.  It was four years ago when a geneticist figured out what was wrong.  We knew that something was wrong for a long time; if you've been reading this blog a lot you've seen it, too.  There were tummy problems and joint problems, and then the mystery of the death of my first child.  The problem had gone misdiagnosed for years as a series of autoimmune diseases that didn't quite fit, or as psychiatric illness (read: that I was a faker who wanted attention).  The solution started with Saul.  When he was less than a year old, an older, more experienced pediatrician at Walter Reed sent him to a geneticist.

I took him.  The question was whether Saul had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  The geneticist looked at Saul, pinching his skin and examining his joints.  Then, he turned to me and said something to the effect that he couldn't tell if Saul had that disorder, but that I did.  I was the walking poster child of the illness.

It's in the fibers.  Literally.  The fibers of my body were bad.  There's a tough fibrous substance that holds you together called collagen.  There are several types of it.  My body was making it incorrectly, and causing me to be sick.  My internal organs are too stretchy and therefore don't work just right.  My joints are weak and literally come apart, never to heal.  My skin is like putty and shreds.  That's the problem. 

It's my fibers.  The irony, right?

So I get some pretty strange injuries, and I get them for seemingly no reason.  My latest injury was that the first two vertebrae at the top of my neck came apart.  They came apart from one another just from holding up my head for 39 years.  When I say apart, the surgeon told me that the joint space was about 1cm when he opened me up.  It should be almost non-existant with the two bones just about flush. 

I did get that surgery at Walter Reed, and it was right after my last post.  Within a couple of days, they called and said I needed to pack my bags and get on the operating table.  It couldn't wait anymore, and there was a room available.  Actually, it was a life threatening injury, and we all knew it.  I was on the list to get the next available neurosurgery slot. 

Now the bones are permanently bolted back one on top of the other, and I'm recovering.  This operation was a major one, and I'll be out of commission for a long time.  Along with the rods and screws in my neck, the bones have to knit themselves together.  I'm stuck sitting in a rigid neck brace while this process happens.  Normally I'm a process knitter, but I can't say I like this particular project. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

This Always was a Knitting Blog - The Sexiest FO's of 2015

I did a lot of knitting in 2015.  The truth is that after the birth of Saul, I didn't knit for quite a while.  Then about this time last year I needed an operation to fuse some bones that had come apart in my pelvis - that'll probably be a recurring theme in my life from now on, getting bones fused back together.  I took knitting back up at that time in a pretty big way.  Actually, it was a little before the surgery, when my mobility became limited and I was sitting more.  As I was recovering from that operation, this latest thing started to become apparent, and I started getting pretty sick with it.  The sad truth is that I've been pretty much a shut in the last year as this instability in my neck progressed.  But I've had the time and attention to really become a master knitter, and have tackled several of the Starmore ladies' patterns in the last year:

The project pictured above I finished around Purim last year.  It's Elizabeth Woodville from the 2013 edition of Tudor Roses.  It was made in Virtual Yarn Hebredian 2 ply in the Solan Goose and Driftwood colorways.  I knitted this one specifically while I was recovering from the operation I mentioned, and it was selected to be easy, mindless knitting.
The next project I finished was Loch Lomond, also a Starmore pattern, in the original kit from Virtual Yarn.  I HEART this sweater.   It took about 6 or 7 weeks of knitting, and took first place in ladie's colorwork cardigans at the county fair.  I consider it my fanciest piece of clothing and like to wear it to shul.

After that came some knitting for the kids.  Also Starmore.  I made BBK here a coat last spring.  It's Secret Garden from The Children's Collection, and I ordered Hebridian 3 ply for it in Driftwood.  I had to try the 3 ply out.  I had big plans for another project, and wanted to get the feel of the yarn.  She loves this sweater and wear is regularly.

Do you know, she's 2?

And this one.  This one took two ribbons at the county fair.  One was first place in it's class, but it also won the purple rosette for best in show for children's knitted garments.  It's another Starmore.  Surprise!  This from Aran Knitting in Bainin.  Boy, I don't like the Bainin yarn.  It was made in little kid size for my son.

Over the summer I knitted Starmore's Oregon Hat and the cowl, too.  Don't have any picture of the cowl.  It's a gorgeous pattern with 10 or 12 colors.  At this point I have one and a half of the gloves done, but I've found I detest knitting gloves, so no matter how much I will them to be done, they just sort of sit there without me working on them much.

Then throughout the fall I made a push to finish some more sweaters that were either new or sitting on needles.

The first was Elizabeth of York (2013) in Tormentil and Lapwing.  I made it with a Ravelry KAL starting in late September.  This little vest is actually probably the most technically challenging project I've made.  I had to totally rework the increases on this stranded knitting.  I got about 6" into it the first time and found the increase scheme to be totally inappropriate for someone not 4'9" tall and built otherwise like a Barbie doll.  It also has three different sorts of knots in the knitting as well as purls on the out facing side of the knitting.  It made for a challenge to keep consistent tension on a garment later expected to fit.  I got the brass buttons at a shop in Colonial Williamsburg, so they're meant for historical reinactors and fit with the garment nicely.

Unfortunately, you can see that by this time how skinny I'd gotten from my illness.  I've been having trouble eating the last year.  Swallowing has become difficult, and I've lost about 50lbs.  It was one way to lose the baby weight.  Fortunately, they've finally scheduled my surgery at Walter Reed, and I hope to be getting better soon.

The next project I finished was Alice Starmore's Eala Bhan.  The Amazing E gave me the kit for this the previous Hanukkah, and I actually worked on it off and on all year, finishing in November.  It's in Hebredian 2-ply Mountain Hare.  The buttons are Swarovski crystal.  This sweater is a major undertaking, but well worth it.  It's knitted to 7 or 8 stitches per inch and is cabled all over, so it'll take forever.  But it's gor-ge-ous.

The next sweater never should have happened.  I promised it would never happen.
Years ago, E asked if I'd knit him a sweater.  I told him I never would.  It would take two long.  And when I say I'll never do something, he knows that hell will freeze solid long before it is ever likely to happen by my hands.  Well, now I knit like the wind, and I decided to knit him a sweater for our 8th wedding anniversary.  That's right, I said 8th.  And I did it in secret.  He had no idea.  This Na Craga (also from Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting), was knitted in Hebredian 3-ply in Tormentil and took my 8 months of secret knitting time.  He wasn't even happy when I gave it to him, just shocked.

Hold on.  I'm almost done.  This was a fast knit.  It's Anne of Cleves from the 2013 edition of Tudor Roses.  It's soft and fluffy in Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora that was sitting in my stash forever.

And my last project of 2015 was not by either of the Starmore ladies.  It's a mini version of Koolhaus by Jared Flood.  I made this one to fit BBK in Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand dyes.  I knitted this up in an afternoon.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I'd Thought It was the End, but Jeremy Clark-Erskine is Back in the News

I'd sort of figured that last post was the last of the blog, finishing up that Rheingold wrap after six years and becoming a suburban mom.

Maybe not so much.

So yes, in 2006, after he'd escaped from prison in Indiana, I met Erskine in the Chicago area and dated him for a few weeks.  I let him into my home and he must have used any small amount of time I spent taking a potty break or any other thing taking documents and credit cards out of my desk.  He spent thousands of dollars on my credit cards in just a week or two and stole my car when I became suddenly and mysteriously ill enough to need to be hospitalized.  I still don't know if it was coincidence or not.

Late last year I got some more emails and comments to this blog asking for updates on Jeremy Clark-Erskine's whereabouts.  There wasn't much to say.  He served out his last sentence and was released in November, 2015.  As far as I knew, he still owed the fine State of Indiana, who has allowed him to escape jail twice, some time on forgery and escape there, but for whatever reason they didn't take him back like they could have.

What have I been doing?  Sitting around knitting and trying to take care of my kids.  It's not easy lately.  You see, I've developed a pretty nasty complication of my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  It's cervical medullary syndrome and a really bad case of altantoaxial instability.  The first two vertebrae at the top of my spine are coming apart so badly that it blocks blood flow through my vertebral arteries when I turn my head.  It's also putting pressure on the top of my spinal cord and giving me trouble with important things like swallowing and regulating my blood pressure and heart rate.  My body sort of can't do those things anymore well.

Right now I'm waiting for surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.  They have some really good neurosurgeons there who know how to do this operation because aside from suburban moms with EDS (or rheumatoid arthritis), other people who get atlantoaxial instability are guys who have been blown up or in crashes.  Walter Reed is also home a major amputee center and where our most seriously injured combat veterans are sent for treatment.  My family also gets our general medical care there because The Amazing E is an active duty service member and stationed in the area.  I bring my kids to Walter Reed for their sore throats and other owies and see, every single time, dozens of men and women who have been blown up in service to the United States.  I'm in a lot of pain, and pretty disabled right now.  My surgery has been delayed because the neurosurgeon who was going to do it got deployed to Afghanistan and we had to get the other neurosurgeon up to speed on my case.  I'm still waiting, hoping for my turn in an OR at Walter Reed.

And I got a phone call today.  It was from a reporter in New York.  Erskine has been arrested again. He'd been out of jail for less than 2 months.  I'm told that when he was arrested, he was posing as a wounded warrior and hoping to profit from it.  His car had Purple Heart plates.

It sticks in my craw.  I don't know what exactly he's being charged with this time, but perhaps they'll find a way to not cut any deals, throw the book at him, and to keep him in jail forever. 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Rheingold Wrap: The Saga Ends

Six years.  Six long years later the Rheingold wrap is done.

As you may recall, I bought the kit from Virtual Yarns with the intention of knitting it for my wedding.  I would have made it, two, except that we moved the wedding date up by three months.  When it was not done, in my despair I cast it into a bin.

There it sat for two years until pity on the beautiful thing freed it for another go.  That is, until I started getting sore hands.  Another two year sentence freed the wrap again, only for it to be cast aside due to an error. It's the only error I can see in the garment.  I skipped a row in the second pattern repeat on the second half.  The error was only detected after I'd knit another few inches, and I was too distraught to tink it all back.  Or to look at it.  So back it went until I decided to finish it.

Damn it.

When I took the wrap out of jail for the last this past April, eight of the twelve pattern repeats were finished.  I worked on it with the monogamy it deserved until the knitting was done, even adding two more pattern repeats.  Then I found that I'd lost the finishing instructions.  After three emails to Virtual Yarns, they ACTUALLY emailed me a copy!

I did make a few other modifications:

14 pattern repeats
Grafted center seam in two colors
Applied i-cord edge in Lapwing
Modified color scheme for fringe
Sewn in lining of a silk/cashmere pashmina wrap

The finished wrap is about 66" long, excluding fringe.

Oh, and check it out in the final picture.  We've had a girl! I actually finished the knitting while in labor with her.  How's that for a labor of love!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

New Twisterino Colorways for Fall 2011 at Rock Creek Yarn

When you're in the yarn business, with the fall festivals comes new stuff. Here are several new fall and winter themed colorways in Twisterino sock yarn.

First, we have Twisterino in Pumpkin Pie. Remember, Twisterino is our squishy, springy two ply 100% superwash merino. Pumpkin Pie has kettle dyed shades of crusty biscuit and sweet pumpkin custard topped with spicy brown speckles.

We're celebrating Samhain with orange Twisterino overdyed in spooky black.

Can you see it? If you look really carefully you can find a skein of sock yarn in Woodland camo colors.

Or try knitting gifts from cheerful holiday colorways of cool Winter's Tale

And Sugarplum Fairy

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Cheesitarian recipe: Enchiladas Salsa Roja

Some of us need dairy only meals now and then. This one is for the cheesitarians out there. For this one, you'll need:

1/4 cup olive oil
8 corn tortillas
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 pound jack cheese, grated (2 cups of grated cheese)
1 tbs ancho chili powder
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs all purpose flour, browned in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes
1 medium tomato, diced
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tbs red wine or apple cider vinegar
red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 1 tbs of the oil to shimmering in large skillet. Add sliced onion and saute until clear. Remove the onion and set aside.

Put the rest of the oil into the skillet and heat until shimmering. One at a time, fry the tortillas in the oil until pliable, but not crisp. Set aside. Drain oil until only a little coats the pan.

Add the ancho chili powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic to hot water and set aside.

Saute the diced onion until clear. Add the cumin and browned flour and toast for a moment. Add the tomato. Saute 5-6 minutes until tomato is tender. Add the chili, garlic, and water mixture; broth, and vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes to let the sauce thicken.

Add 1/4 cup of sauce to a 9x9 baking pan. Dredge one fried tortilla in the sauce left in the pan. Place on work surface and top with 1/4 cup cheese and a few slices of onion. Roll up the tortilla and place it in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Top with the rest of the sauce and any remaining cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven.

Serves 4.

Cause I've been real busy

I haven't written.

Well, Saul was born on June 1. And I've been real busy since then.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why the silence?

It's been pretty quiet around here for several months. Very quiet.

No, I didn't stop knitting, but I have been working on something else for the last 34 weeks and I haven't wanted to talk about it here. Until now.It's another boy, and G-d willing he'll be born in mid June.

Why the silence?

It's been pretty quiet around here for several months. Very quiet.

No, I didn't stop knitting, but I have been working on something else for the last 34 weeks and I haven't wanted to talk about it here. Until now.It's another boy, and G-d willing he'll be born in mid June.