What a day

I don’t know why I decided to do this today, but after the morning craziness of kids, lunches, breakfasts, fights to break up and confidence to boost…I went to the gym. It’s been since my post before, so months, since I went to the gym. Because life. Which is a major bummer because MY GOD, I’m a better human after exercise.

I did the version of running that involves a treadmill, walking for a minute and a half and running for a minute, while slowly increasing speed on the runs. I managed 35 mins, and kept my heartrate in the cardio zone, which is impressive given my constant tachycardic tendencies. But, this is how you get back into cardiac shape, so I did it. It was wicked. But I did it.

See?

Stats.
me after. Survived!

So, because my day was kinda open, I went home and stretched, which is always super important for me with all of my abdominal scars and pelvic stuff.

I made myself a tea from Fortnum and Mason, which was a fancy tea shoppe in London. I didn’t love the feel of the place, it felt really snooty and unreasonably desperate to sell way too many things, but I picked out two teas and two biscuit-type things. The biscuits taste like England, which is to say, bland as hell and not worth the calories. I loved our trip (another post) but the food in London was not great for me. As expected. Anyway, the tea is awesome. So, highly recommend their orange peel black tea. So darn good.

I sat down to write this blog. But my head was swirling. The exercise had gotten my juices flowing to write, but my therapy session from yesterday (my first real mental health therapy session just for me since my surgeries in 2005) was all I could think of. So, I started to write. I just started somewhere. And I wrote. And I didn’t stop for 45 minutes. Stream-of-consciousness, just word vomit onto the page. It felt SO GOOD. It was the first time in ages I’ve felt catharsis when writing.

I write, I love to write. It was my main mode of communication as an epidemiologist during the pandemic, through my facebook page Public Health is Your Job, Too. But that writing was stressful. That writing was screaming into an abyss and having that abyss scream back at you. That writing brought threats, even while it built community. That writing was my desperate journey into the darkness and rock bottom, and then a slow scrabbling back out of it. But I never did make it back out of it on that page. I had to let it go in order to get back out of the depression. And once I did, I was able to start seeing the light a bit more, the anxiety let up a bit (also, thanks Zoloft!). But, I had no place to write.

I thought that I needed to write again, and I kept saying “I’ll keep this blog, I’ll work on a book of essays pulled from my page over that time”. I thought that was the writing I needed, the processing I needed, in order to move forward. I thought a book of those essays would help me get some sort of closure, and also help document what public servants were going through at that time, both from a scientific and communication standpoint, but also emotionally. Except…I couldn’t sit down and look at it. I haven’t opened that page again. The memories I see that come up on my facebook are hard to look at.

I’m not ready.

But, I need to write. I need to process my life. So, I sat down this morning with my theme for this year in my head – Just Start Somewhere -and spent 45 minutes writing, and wrote 2500 words (4 pages), just dumping everything out. I have so so so much more. And none of it is something I would ever publish. But it’s so damn therapeutic.

So, if you feel stuck, maybe you just need to start somewhere, too.

Hoping for more of this every day. And I’ll likely not document that here, but I thought today deserved some recognition for what feels like a turning point for me.

So, here it is. I’m starting somewhere. And it’s gonna be a hell of a long journey. But boy do I feel like it’s worth it.

Eileen

Failed again!

Ugh. I’m terrible. From now on, I’m lowering expectations of myself. So much has happened since my last update. I’ll try and recap.

1) knitting, lots of knitting

2) cooking

3) spring break to London and Paris!!! More later.

4) readjusting.

5) planning life.

Ok, so SEE? I can make a post and start here! And, in the spirit of keeping it doable, here’s some pics. Bu I won’t be able to tell you all of what’s awesome about them, low expectations and all…

Finished my DRK everyday sweater!!!
It fits!!
Lester goes to daycare again! With Mabel!
I knitted for 12 hours for Knit For Food. We raised over $250,000 to fight hunger!
Mabel just being adorbs
Did I share this? My husband worked on this in between cases in the OR and clinic, and when I went to bed at night. He’s just the best. We don’t even celebrate Valentine’s but damn this was the best!
The dogs really love these sniff walks!
Lots of cooking! This was Mongolian beef, so damn tasty even this finicky 9 yr old loves it
Weaving class! Im addicted. Can’t wait to sign up for a floor loom class
Stupid awning collapsed. We bought the 1929 beauty last year and we’re going to build a front porch anyway. This monstrosity pissed my husband off every time he came home. It had a saggy diaper daily, and sometimes a stabby saggy diaper with the icicles. RIP. But, I couldn’t leave it like that. I’m not an animal!
I gave it the worst 2nd grade home haircut ever with a pair of kitchen scissors. Damn straight. Climbed right up the metal and cut that hideous thing to bits. But. That didn’t fix the tetanus-waiting-to-happen.
So I hired the best handywoman ever and she took that shit down! Hallelujah!
Working on the Satellite shawl. Ripped it back when I didn’t love the colors. Had this going right up until when we left for the trip!

As to the trip. Swoooooon. Other than the crippling anxiety from both children. One has some generalized, post pandemic, and the other has some with his ADHD. They look different.

So, like, Girl child would panic when we weren’t sure which line to take where in London (part of the fun of traveling) or we didn’t know enough French yet (yes we did, and barely needed it in Paris), or how we didn’t have the right line memorized from Heathrow to the Airbnb when we arrived (again, traveling🤷‍♀️). The boy child would constantly be asking what was next, how much time we had, as soon as we started something he’d already be planning ahead. My husband and I are more laid back travelers. Me especially, because my mother always over planned everything and trips were no fun with that kind of anxiety leading the way. So, the kids anxietied, and we acknowledged but held strong to not scheduling everything. Eventually they settled a bit. They had to share a bed (horror of horrors) and we never stopped hearing the fights because of that. But otherwise, we had a blast! No really, we really did😂.

I’ll do pics later, but for now, here’s one to whet your whistle.

I think it really captures all the feels

Ok, hooray! I caught up! Well, kinda. One last knitting pic. Here’s my current obsession. The Velvet Mirror cowl. First time using mohair, and first time doubling it! So great!

Farmers daughters Oh Dang and spincycle Leith. I’m obsessed!

See y’all soon, next post will be pics from trip!

Happy spring!

Eileen

Physical Therapy Works!

Yes! Another post! But not at all fiber related so feel free to skip. I’m going to be separating these from the fiber content so people can spare themselves these lengthy diatribes and just get to the wooly stuff if they want.

My goal is to get to this blog far more often. Because if I go too too long, too too much happens and then I’m a blathering mess of nonsense and everything is all annoying to people who don’t want to read. I’m not sure why those people would be reading my blog, but nonetheless, that’s what I want to avoid.

In the two days since I last blogged, approximately zero kitchen things happened! Hooray! I cooked but I mean no planned work or anything, no one else was touching my stuff or drilling through anything. So I’ll take that as a win!

But. A big thing happened. A thing of all things. A thing I’ve been working towards for a few years now and it tastes soooo sweet. Yes, I went to the gym! No, this is not a weird post about muscles and I’m not trying to get buff or saunter around in a bikini claiming I have muscles when I really just don’t eat food and am emaciated with kidney damage from all my keto…oh wait..where was I? Ok. This isn’t about my appearance!

This is about healing.

I had many surgeries in 2004 and 2005 to fix ulcerative colitis that had gone undiagnosed and untreated because the doctors in South Bend, IN suck and treated me like it was all in my head. It wasn’t.

It was pretty firmly in my ass.

And everywhere else because it was out of control. So, thanks to the glories of modern surgery, I had my colon and almost all of my rectum removed at age 23. I had a bag for 8 months. It was a real bitch, and I also had a fistula and every complication known to mankind. So. Surgeries. Oh and I also had two c-sections later on. For fun. Cuz why not. It was basically just follow the lines and connect the dots for them anyway.

When someone cuts into your abdomen and your pelvis, you form some pretty wicked scar tissue. What happens when they keep doing it, and the first robotic awesome holes become giant lines of seriousness, is that those scars (adhesions) tend to find more places to stick. So, my insides got all glued together. Turns out this can cause pretty big issues down the road. Since my husband became a colorectal surgeon (no, we didn’t meet that way, that’s nasty, we grew up down the street from each other but didn’t start dating until after my surgeries) I can assure you that at least some of them will now warn you about this potential, should you ever find yourself in such a position. And they will now tell you to get pelvic floor physical therapy.

No one told me. Ever.

Not after my first surgery.

Or my second. Or the third or fourth.

No one told me when pregnant.

No one told me after the first c-section. Or the second.

My gastroenterologist never recommended it. Not at any of my annual scopes ever since.

Not even when it was so tight he couldn’t get the scope in.

My husband told me.

Because I took one Pilates reformer class from a different person than my regular fave, and she had us doing stupid heavy and fast things that are bound to tighten your everything.

So, I couldn’t pee. And I couldn’t poo. (Yes, I do that, they did reconnect me so I am mostly like y’all except with pretty badass scars) and it was torture and he was on call in the OR trying to talk me down because DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT HURTS TO NOT BE ABLE TO PEE???????

Omg. It’s the worst.

So I found my way to a pelvic floor physical therapist just about 3 years ago, and I have been on a journey ever since. It required me to stop Pilates, and I got better and restarted and then the pandemic hit. And I was an epidemiologist and a nurse. I tried to help my local health department, but resigned over the political influence of the mayor in the decisions of the health department. And that went national, and the media came, and the public health page I’d been keeping on Facebook called “Public Health is Your Job, Too” became my online journal of how bad all the policies and politics and advice was, how twisted things were becoming, and how disappointed in public health at large I had become.

So, you know, some stress.

Everything locked up again and I’ve been working since January of 2021 on a weekly and then every other week (anyone else never clear on the definition of biweekly?) basis with the pelvic floor therapists to get through everything. I won’t go into detail about what they do, but yeah they’re internal everywhere. Though at this point, you’d better believe I have zero modesty left. But I’ll spare you all.

So, it’s taken a year of peeling back the layers of all the stuff to release all of this mess, and then I had to add in TMJ physical therapy because itsallconnected and that’s hella annoying. And expensive. None of this is covered by our terrible insurance. Yes, doctors have bad health insurance. Hospital system insurance is generally terrible unless it’s a giant system. So. This is where all of our money has gone.

So. Long story…long. This is me yesterday. I did some free weights, slowly. Breathing. I’m glad no one else was there to witness this, because I had to remember how to use machines and pay attention to every.little.angle. And then I ran/walked on the treadmill for 25 minutes. Here is me when I was about to start. That look is me terrified.

But the true test of whether I’m doing it right is after I stop. I stretched, for a long ass time. I did some yoga. And then I did what for me comes easily because I’m hyperflexible , but would not if my scars and pelvic floor were tight. See below.

Don’t try this at home

Yep. I still can do it! Back bends are awesome, and this is the face of me realizing

I

CAN

DO

THIS

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

So. Big success.

Today, I took it easy, did some push-ups and took one dog on a long walk around Butler University, while the other was at daycare.

Happy Lester
Mabel after daycare, she’s ridiculous😂

Oh. And also. I got a haircut. And if you know anyone, especially women, that just makes their week.

Me happy

Listen, that blonde streak is a birthmark and I finally grew into loving it. Which is good cuz it’s the only thing on my head not going gray. But because I LOVE ME, I’m embracing all of it.

Cuz I’m 40, and it’s the best age I’ve ever been.

Aging is the best! Love yourself just the way you are. You’re supposed to be every ounce like this. Own it!

Love,

Eileen

Coddiwomple

Mea maxima culpa, friends, I got behind. Again. But, I mean, each time I try gets me closer to actually getting down to this being a regularly scheduled business! Never failure, always LEARNING.

These last couple of weeks have been wonky. The kitchen was in shambles, dogs were nuts, snowmageddon hit and the days were full of my annual doc appointments because this is how I show love to myself and my family. I love getting older, there is something about just owning your own space in the world. The older I get, the more of it I happily take up. Also, I’ve been told I have a “really well-developed fuck-off”, which also seems to increase year over year. Because life is too short to care whether your presence/thoughts/opinions/voice/ideas/physical appearance/choices pisses other people off or not.

So, here is a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to!

Kitchen

The shenanigans continued, and after multiple folks coming in, we finally got the cabinet build, countertop installed, microwave installed and the cabinet painted. My kitchen is finally my own again!

Hooray! It’s done.

And, lest anyone forget the trials and tribulations, please see previous posts on Big Red. She was beautiful and completely nonfunctional. Bye, girl.

Big Red, going away

So, what would be the first thing you would cook when you finally have burners again? Well, aside from the grilled cheese demanded of me by my uber-picky and super adorable 9 year old dude? The way I saw it, if you really wanted to test the new burners, you needed to have a recipe that demanded consistent temps. So, I made risotto. I hate risotto. I KNOW. I know it’s unpopular. I’m Italian and how dare I blaspheme like this? Well, friends. It’s true. I grew up eating southern Italian, but I also remember many holidays with my Nona, cooking this mushroom risotto. It was a thing that brings good memories, but also too rich food. I don’t like starchy food, I don’t like bread much, I gravitate to the vegetables. Give me eggplant any day over this mushy hot mess.

Stir until your arm falls off, that’s what I call risotto, for short.
ew

But, it did work, so the cooktop is magnificent. The husband and girl child loved it, the previously-mentioned dude did not. I predicted this, and since I also wanted to eat dinner, also made this quiche, with the world’s most gorgeous fresh eggs from a friend’s family farm. Scroll down for drool-worthy pics.

so so good
Ham, brocolli, tomato and cheese quiche
DROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLL

That does it for the kitchen stuff. Other than this atrocity.

Atrocity

Have I mentioned my son is a blessing? Oy, but when I go to the pantry and find what I think is an empty box (I still don’t understand why they leave empty boxes there, the trash is RIGHT OUTSIDE the pantry), and I roll my eyes and open it…to find…one. JUST ONE. What kind of a monster leaves ONE OREO?? My child kind, I guess. He was not ashamed. Not at all. He couldn’t, in fact, be shamed. He was proud. I have clearly failed in parenting.

SNOWMAGEDDON

But then he did this for hours when Snowmageddon hit here. We got a bunch of ice and then 8 inches of snow. And everything shut down a full 24 hours before the storm. It was 50 degrees and they closed schools, probably because they didn’t know for sure when the ice would hit. But it meant I had three days home with my demon spawn beautiful children who played video games the first warm day. But, then this happened.

Igloo building
trying to sled down while avoiding the tree and the street (child of medical folks here)
Me with the kids, WHO SHOVELED and played in the snow for hours!
Mabel’s Butt

Yall know my dogs, Mabel and Lester.

Pic for attention

Well, Lester loves the snow because we rescued him when we lived in MN. Mabel didn’t know what to think of the snow. Until 30 seconds before this pic. She finally understood it was fun and started tearing around the yard. She’s kinda dumb, but she’s real cute. She loves her toys, and licking her people nonstop.

I also had time to do some reading, and finished this one! It was awesome. Highly recommend, felt a little M Night Shayamalan to me. But in the good way, not the bad recent movies way. You know what I mean.

FIBER STUFF

You can see my Fiber adventures here or I will post separately to a Year or Projects page specifically for the fiber goodness. If you don’t really want to read through my babbling.

First up: The Neifling Hat

I was so proud of this. I wanted to learn brioche. I also learned to fix a mistake or two at a time. I was chugging along so happily.

Happy brioche

But then…three stitches in a row dropped. God, ya’ll. I tried for ages to save that. But i couldn’t. And ripping it back also wouldn’t have been salvageable in the end (I didn’t think), because the double knitted brim made it so hard to pick up appropriately. Please, view my sadness, and cry for me.

The blackness of my soul matched this pile of depression

Next time I will throw lifelines in, because frankly, I can’t think of anything else that would save you if you make the same mistake. I recently got this GORGE set of Chiaogoo Interachangeable needles, and they have a built-in hole to run lifelines as you go. OMG. So amazing.

Swooooooon

Next up: DRK Everyday Sweater

This one is chugging along beautifully. I might be in ribbing hell, but it’s nothing compared to brioche murder referenced above, or to sleeve island which I’m sure I’ll be on as well soon. But I love love love this yarn, the Purl Soho Good Wool. It’s sticky enough to know it’s going to bloom beautifully after blocking, but it’s nice to work with and not too smooth. I know it will soften, but it’s actually not a scratchy wool anyway. I’m glad I chose it for this sweater.

Yep, forgot to put a bra on. Whatever, just being myself! It fits well!

I love working with Andrea Mowry patterns, her notes help immensely and her videos save me hours of guessing. I do so love that helpful addition to more modern patterns. The cast on here is the tubular cast on, which is the same as the Italian Cast-on, and it really does give you a much more polished edge. I love it! You can see it at the collar here. I was aiming for a bit longer of a sweater because again, I’m Amazon sized, but looking at it makes me wonder if I should rip back and stockinette a bit longer before beginning the ribbing. But I’ll keep going first to see how long I actually like it, and then place some markers about where I think I’d like it to be instead. That way, it’s not totally ripping willy-nilly.

Next up: I will start The Satellite Shawl from Andrea Mowry. I am hoping I can master brioche in a bigger project when it just has panels of it, I think it will be good practice. I will be casting on this week! Stay tuned for updates on this one!

Also, I am all for taking out knitting books from the library, but there are some I know right away I want to buy. I love supporting these newer designers, and especially BIPOC designers. So, I got this beautify in the mail. I don’t knit with enough worsted weight, so I am challenging myself to try something from here to get more comfortable with the bulkier knits. It’s so worth your purchase, iif you can afford it, and our knitting community needs to be represented by all folks. There is so much room for diversity, and I look forward to supporting all of these designers! Also, I am likewise on a journey of radical self-care. This book spoke to me in many ways, even though our life experiences were different. We are all human, and we could all learn from each other.

Knitting for Radical Self-Care

Also, here is your local spotlight for the week! I stopped in at Persnickety Stitchers, Inc in Zionsville, IN recently. My husband is down the rabbit hole of embroidery lately, and I went to check this place out with my daughter, during our Girl Date. We stopped off at The Lemon Bar for the most amazing lattes and brunch, and then meandered down the old village streets. It’s such a beautiful, charming downtown!

Norah’s Mocha

This store was just amazing. It was quite large, had a ton of luxury threads/floss, a separate room for patterns, and then an amazing canvas section upstairs. They were super friendly, and even gave me a website they could order from if my husband wanted anything they didn’t have in stock. They showed us around and were super available for questions. I really enjoyed it!

Persnickety Stitchers, Inc

What are your favorite local yarn/craft stores? How do you strike up conversations? Sometimes owners can be shy, but I have found that just asking them about their store, and what led them to open it, and what their favorite parts of their crafts are, you really get to know the owners and workers, and they get to share their wealth of knowledge, which is really why these people open these shops…it is usually a passion project. No one goes into owning a yarn shop for the money! But I say I’d rather give my money to them and keep it in our communities if I can.

So, anywho. Let me leave you with why I titled this post Coddiwomple. I saw this on facebook the other day. It spoke to me! THIS is what I am about right now. This is good. And it’s enough. Sometimes we feel pushed to be too productive, and honestly, I think I do my best writing work when I’m under pressure. But, the creativity/ideas/inspo doesn’t come from pressure. I have to be free to let my thoughts wander. That’s where I find my happy place, these days.

I hope you guys are finding some time to just be. It helps. It really does!

Happy Fibering!

Eileen

The productivity in a plague house

So so much to catch up on over here. We have all had the covid, and it predictably came in those nauseating waves, just like it did in 2020. So, I would get to feeling just *awesome* and then I’d start to get really crazy, and take my dogs on walks. Then BOOM. Exhaustion, nausea or immediate bathroom needs would take over. Oy, vey. So, 10 days on and we are finally feeling about 95% back. The exhaustion only comes a little at a time now, so of course I did what any normal human would do and thought to myself “Self, let’s go! Let’s do ALLTHETHINGS!”. So, Here are the things.

FOOD

First, I cooked. I made this amazing spicy sausage soup from Girl With the Iron Cast. That blog and those recipes are always amazing!

prep
yum

So spicy, so good. I added extra crushed red pepper flakes because I’m Italian and I do what I want.

Next up, some deeeeelicious roasted bird with fennel and garlic and all the veg and of course LEMON. I got a little punchy and I think I had two glasses of wine and so of course I made the chicken look hilarious…to me….and gave it citrus boobs.

the bed of gorgeousness

Lemon boobs with fresh sage and dried rosemary and thyme.

Here she is! Isn’t she a beaut?

It was too bad I cook when ill because this particular illness started with head and chest congestion and culminated in what could only be described best by my husband, a colorectal surgeon. “We all have diverticulitis and are clearly in need of immediate surgery”. So, no one really was interested in eating. But the next day everyone had a little. And the next day a little more. It was only a 4 lb. girl, so I’m reusing the chicken and freezing the bones for broth later. Obviously, I’m into this whole make your own food stuff because it’s just so damn much better than anything else out there!

To that end, I did this yesterday!

Yup, homemade yogurt for the first time ever. And boy was it fun! I used this as a rough guide, and heated it up. Now, I had a meat thermometer which seemed to do a fine job. I got it up to 185 just fine!

However, when it came to cooling it down, I tried the ice bath and it just wouldn’t drop on this darn thermometer. It was still reading 150 when my husband came home from call two hours and three ice bath changes later. He is one smart cookie, because he pointed out it wasn’t an instant read thermometer, and that we did indeed have one. Hidden in the basement…where he apparently smuggles kitchen equipment for funsies? Either way, we measured at it was 45 degrees. Now, the tartness comes from leaving it at a warmer temp longer, so I was really afraid I’d totally jacked this one up. But, per the guide I then tossed it back into the instant pot and set it to yogurt setting for 12 hours. I got nervous, but I decided(!!!) I would let this roll and use it as a learning experience/instruction for ya’ll. This morning I got up and LOOK AT THIS GLORIOUS YOGURT.

I did it! And it was tart, not as tart as I love but still tart! So, then I threw it in some cheesecloth and strained it for 4 hours in the frig.

glorious thick greek yogurt

After it was done, I put it into some containers. I made some videos of this and will post to my Instagram account @midtownfiber. I can’t wait to top this with some honey, homemade granola and some lemon curd and tart cherries. I’m drooooooling.

FIBER

OK, so I was introduced to this amayzing group/thread on Ravelry from a lovely reader who commented. It’s all about your Year of Projects, and so I tried to sit down to write what I’ve had in my head. Excuse the bad handwriting. This is years of being an epidemiologist and only using computers and then also being a nurse and married to a surgeon, so it’s obviously all his fault. Although, his handwriting is better than mine so I’m not sure I can really get away with that. But, I digress. Here is my Knitter’s Planner. I really love this thing. I just ordered it because I have so much swirling in my head and I wanted one place for it all to go. So of course I have this, and 5 bullet journals, another planner, and two design journals.

I sat down with a cup of tea, and some knitting to get inspired. Here is my DRK Everyday Sweater, getting really close to the bottom ribbing on this one!

I got another chance to use my swift. I am learning. Highly recommend filming yourself doing anything to find the issues. I saw the tension inconsistencies in my yarn winding that gave me this sad 2nd attempt.

boo

And It definitely got juices flowing. Because look at this atrocity I wrote. This is apparently my “doable” list for the year. Now, please have mercy because this is a first draft. But Jesus, I am a mess.

Cry for Help

So, if you can squint yourself into being able to read any of this, you will find that my epidemiology brain is still in high gear because I have broken this into skill categories that I need to get more practice in, as well as creative sections (Use of bulky yarn, which I don’t do much of, and working in different textures because I am super feeling that variety right now). I don’t excel in spatial relationships, so this is where knitting is a challenge for me. It’s always hard to see things clearly when you have the spatial relationships skills of a 4 year old. But, again, my husband is a huge help as you would expect for someone who spends his days digging around or scoping into people’s butts and intestines. Bye the bye, this is Paddy. He is into cross stitch and now embroidery and he’s the hunkiest embroiderer I’ve ever seen!

That button says “This is proof that I have the patience to stab something 4000 times”. and you know he does….

Anyway, this list was my wakeup call to focus. So, of course I had to search for patterns to fulfill this and immediately bought about 35 patterns. That’s the kind of focus I specialize in! So, I decided to hit the shawl category with the Winter Honey Shawl by Drea Renee Knits, which has enough cabling to drive me insane but not enough to make quit. And I am also going to hit the cardigan category with some Douglas Cardi by the same designer. That will get me some colorwork and shaping. I will also do the Sunday Sweater by Petite Knits because I’m into the whole mohair held double situation she does so much of. And then Anne Ventzel also has this incredible Spot Sweater stash buster pattern that I might need to try as well.

Now, I also need to hit that brioche category so any suggestions here? I know Andrea Mowry (DRK) has a good amount of brioche, and I know this designer will show up often in my knits because she has the same style and color choices as I would. I like neutrals and moodier shades because I am dark and twisty, and bright colors make me feel like I’m going to have a seizure. I don’t have a seizure history but who knows.

In addition, I am going to really force this challenge by continuing my neverending two-at-a-time socks, which is just insane. I know! But I didn’t get to be retired at 40 from a career in public health and nursing by playing it safe and not shooting for the moon and racking up all sorts of debt I’ll never pay off …So look for those. I’m going to also be doing the Snuggle Socks by Max Cyr, just not two-at-a-time. Because I need some sanity in my life. I bought some amazing yarn from Farmer’s Daughters for these.

I am going to be casting on the SeaGlass Sweater as well. So stay tuned! I’ll update on the Year of Projects thread if I can figure out the plan and get to it!

My plan this week is to make a real dent in the Winter Honey shawl, and cast on the Cardi and the socks. I have a set of ChiaoGoo Interchangeables on order at my LYS (support local!) and I cannot wait for those to show up.

I really love keeping this blog. I love it when folks join and when I can follow their blogs as well. This whole life is way too short for all the stress and darkness, and I’m ever so grateful to be able to have the time to focus on the light and the creativity! And because of that, I chose to be happy about learning from my mistakes and here is me with that same ball of yarn, looking on the bright side!

Shiny, Happy Eileen

Happy Fibering!

Eileen

UFDA!

Hoooooboy, this covid is just still.here. We all feel like a bucket of yuck. Unfortunately, the testing situation just isn’t anywhere near ideal, so my husband is still working in the hospital. Every test he takes is negative, much the same as myself. But with a positive kiddo and all of us symptomatic, we just know we’ve all got it. I count myself lucky enough to be able to stay home with the kids and not have to worry about any of the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So. Onward I go, knitting as I sneeze, cough, get nauseated, drink Gatorade and eat ramen. On day 6 of this…

I did this this morning. Thankful for a French press backup. Arguably better coffee anyway.

This isn’t the most auspicious of beginnings for my day, but I shall not let that ruin it! I am currently on my 3rd cup of coffee and knitting with an extra loud flickering candle. I’m not sure why I’m so sensitive to sounds but I am in general and maybe the covid has me extra special.

Mabel itching to go “romp” with the feral cat outside under the deck

I’m knitting and almost done with first ball of this glorious Purl Soho Good Wool, and have to get up out of this rocking chair only to wind another and get some tea. Because there isn’t enough hot beverage at the moment. If you look at my last post, you’ll see it was my first time using my beautiful new swift, and my cake was wonky. Last night I spent no less than two hours hand winding the last 1/3 of it that was all tangled. So now all is right with the world and here we are.

Hand wound ball

Aside from that, I am going to make some homemade yogurt today for the first time. Will document the atrocities that I’m sure will occur. I don’t have a stove currently so the instant pot is where we are until the covid goes away and we can have the new one installed.

Thanks to this awesome blog, I’ve been clued in to this Year of Projects thread on the Ravelry, so I’m going to go through and make a plan for my year and maybe actually knit from my stash! Hopefully. Maybe.

Probably not.

My Instagram feed is like a constant source of temptation. I’m on IG as @midtownfiber and @leeniewhite, if you want to come on by and friend me. You’ll get pics and reels and lots of my dogs too. Because omg look at these beauts.

Lester and Mabel

Hoping to have a good amount of pics and humor to share for the next post.

Oh shit, just got a call that I missed an appt. Fair warning, covid makes time stop and you forget where you’re supposed to be because of course you can’t be anywhere becausethisisneverendinghell.

Cheers, happy knitting, stay healthy!

Eileen

It’s all out of hand!

Ya’ll. When I started blogging, I knew that I needed a schedule for my daily life if I ever hoped to be able to get to it. Schedules make my world go ’round, and without my phone calendar, certain non-negotiables would never happen. Like my kids wouldn’t get picked up, I wouldn’t even know I had appointments, etc. I. NEED. STRUCTURE. This has been one of the hardest parts of leaving the working world: there is just enough rope (freedom) to hang myself (forget everything).

So, holidays were hard and then life happened over here. So busy, and then BOOM. My dog got attacked at the dog park and then my kid got the Covid. So, I have time… WE have time. Together. I love them, I just have to keep telling myself that over and over, ad nauseum. Because at some point, the fighting drives me to drink knit/go for a walk/flee screaming from the house.

So, as I put my noise-cancelling headphones on, let’s go back a smidge and do some catch-up, shall we?

Mostly, some big things happened in the house! Firstly, Big Red, my American-version AGA finally found a new home. She was pretty. She was barely functional. A lovely lady came and rescued her for her house, where it will live out it’s days for it’s charm, and not so much any function. I live in a beautiful, old 1929 house in a beautiful, old section of Indianapolis. There isn’t so much room in these old houses, so we have to use what we got, and I need a functional stovetop and normal human size ovens that work. So I have double ovens now and eagerly await installation of a new cooktop and microwave.

Big Red going bye-bye

In addition, I got even more adult-y and got a new frig. This is huge, because the previous fridge was made for people who don’t live or cook or eat as we do, as a family of four. So, look at this beauty! Praise be, because the side-by-side sitch was making me stabby and doyouevenknowhowharditis to find anything in that setup? When you have a 12 and 9 year old constantly in there?? Nope nope, this is my jam. So, we are happily enjoying our new appliance and the disappearance of our old one…

But, amidst all this adulting, my dog was attacked at the park and required surgery to stitch up the eyelid. Thankfully the eye was ok. Very scary, and Lester is already sensitive to anesthesia and medicines, since he is a delicate 105 pound flower who needs a chihuahua-sized dose of any and all meds. He got a half-dose of anesthesia and still didnt’ want to wake up so they did have to reverse him. I’m grateful the vet took such good care of him. Mabel was beside herself with worry in the car, so I took her in to be with him before surgery.

Best buds

Here they are the next day, when Lester was still clearing the anesthesia and acting like an 18 year old college freshman who has never had a drink before.

So, Lester recovered and then BOOM. My kid gets Covid. She is ok, but we all came down with symptoms, so were home for a bit. All just kind of low energy and head and chest cold. This is light years better than my April 2020 version where I barely stayed out of the hospital. #thanksvaccines #getyourjab

Here is a Typhoid Mary pic because once an epidemiologist, always an epidemiologist! She looks about as thrilled with her forced quarantine as I am with my 2nd round of covid and my kids getting it after all this time trying and fighting. So, here’s what my face does on the regular when I see the news, which…for the record…I try not to.

New Crafting Endeavors

So, now let’s get to the crafting! I finally got a chance to use my beautiful Christmas present from the hubs. Just look at this Rosewood Lykke Swift. Seriously!?! I’ve been handwinding since I was pregnant with my 12 year old (that sounds weird, but you get the point, I’m not a spring chicken) and this has changed everything. I suppose I should probably read instructions since I wound it in the wrong direction BUT WHO CARES OMG LOOKIT MEEEEE.

Wonky cuz I wound backwards?

Anyway, I got my first wonky cake and I’m so excited it’s embarassing. This is gonna make life so much easier! So, I just stare at it some days. Now it sits over on my sewing table and I can admire it while I ignore my children.

What I’m working on

So, this new wonky cake is the Purl Soho Good Wool. And let me tell you, it is GOOD wool. It’s so nice, and it’s softening as I just it. I decided to make myself the DreaReneeKnits Everyday Sweater. I am currently super into the natural colors, so I’m making mine out of Walking Stick, this beautiful muted brown. I can’t say enough about this yarn.

It’s a nice sticky/wooly wool. I love it, and the pattern seems well-suited to this. It is a really simple pattern, and like so many of DRK’s patterns, it’s a bit shorter than I go for, so I ensured I had extra yardage for this. I’m 6’0 tall and short on Amazonians turns out to magnify our awkward proportional bits. So, I tack on a few extra hundred yards to her patterns and I end up happy.

I am already past the sleeves and into the body and it’s just such a joyful knit!

Now, as I’m going, I am unsure about whether I’m rowing out here with the increases in the yoke. I decided (did you hear me? I decided…don’t let me go back on this) to keep going and let this be the experiment to see how much blocking will fix. Given how quick of a knit this is, I feel like I’ll likely make a few of these, so I’ll learn for next time and report back. I’d also like to brag alert for a minute.

I actually, really and truly, SWATCHED for this. I have never actually totally swatched and measured. But I did. Here’s the proof!

SWATCH!

And…it worked. I knitted it up according to the pattern swatch instructions. I let it soak for 20 mins and then I gently squeezed out the water and let it dry, not pinning it. I ended up with an actual, real-life swatch that worked.

Now I met row gauge, but I was *slightly* short on stitch gauge. So let’s see how this works and I’ll compare the final if it’s off. I’m also beginning to use these swatches to start a swatch library. Have you heard of this? Do you do this? I think it will be helpful to see how my tension and gauge is in diff types of yarn and in colorwork vs regular single color knitting. So, this is the first. Maybe I should catalogue these? #formerlibraryworker #nerd

In other crafting news, here is the finished Flax Sweater that I knit up in the most basic of Big Twist Tweed White (whispers… acrylic yarn). It’s ok. I definitely made mistakes and tried to fix in picking up the sleeves. Somehow some of my short rows got unraveled and can I just say what HOLY HELL it is to try to fix a short row eff up when it’s down a few rows, so you have to repair three different turns?! Oh god. I can’t think about it. Anyway, it’s not perfect, but its cool and I’ll wear it! And, like all of this whole journey, isn’t it the point to learn and take notes (totally doing that now) and refine and figure out what looks best and feels best on your body? There is only one me, so I know that I will need to modify all designs, to make it what I like. And I’m not afraid to try (and then have to learn how to fix it when I inevitably FUCK IT UP).

ME modeling. Pay no attention to the hot mess of Xmas decorations going away.

Anywhoodles, finally these are the books I’m learning from right now. My strategy has been to start looking at my library and check out books, then decide if I want to spend the money to own them, if they will be useful or if I really want to support the designer or author. I am a firm believer in buying books that you’ll use and getting rid of /selling/donating to the little libraries all the ones that I won’t read again.

At the moment, I’m going down the rabbit hole of the slow living books. Now, while some of them are decidedly pretty snotty, I have found a few that just reflect where I am these days. The focus isn’t on being one with the phases of the moon or composting my own feces…it’s really just about slowing my life down enough to appreciate this time and these materials and the skills I am learning to build things for myself. I am highly unlikely to recycle my urine or bury my own kimchi or anything. But. I like thinking more about where my things come from. And because I have kids, of course, how I can preserve those for generations to come, if we can avoid killing the earth entirely by then.

I loved this one!

I’ll be learning how to dye and spin and weave, so I’ll take you on those journeys with me, and you can watch me flail around and horribly muck it all up, but eventually figure it out. Maybe it’s entertaining, or maybe this is just my online journal of my endeavors for a future books, but …hope you enjoy it if you are reading it!

Anyway, what are you working on? Share in the comments or shoot me an email! I’m on Facebook at Midtown Fiber and on Instagram as well!

Happy fibering,

Eileen

Spaghettios and ricotta

Yeah. I wrote that. Don’t knock it till you try it!

I have had a sore throat, and three negative rapid tests later, I got a PCR this morning. My daughter’s friend’s sibling tested positive, my vaxxed kids have no symptoms and are negative, but here I sit, sandpapery throat and all. So, why not give myself some comfort food? Yes, it’s literally a can of spaghettios…with meatballs. Then I added in a dollop of ricotta and some grated parm. BECAUSE I CAN. WHAT ABOUT IT? HUH??

Comfort yum

Yeah yeah yeah, I do actually cook a ton, and I’m a pretty decent cook, too. You shall see! But desperate times call for desperate measures. And anyway, most people have some ghetto snack up their sleeves, so welcome to just one of my guilty pleasures when ill. Pho is my usual go-to, but delivery wasn’t in the cards today, so Os and ricotta it was!

It was so good. Be jealous…you know you are.

But then Lester was my foot warmer, looking at me (and my food) with such longing. And so, i took him for a walk. Mabel is off at a new daycare today, and Lester sometimes just wants some alone time, so he and I are having a buddy day. We went for a walk, and I often like to do so in silence. I feel like our lives are absolutely chock full of input, and so much of it is auditory. I have always had some weird tendency to be easily overstimulated by sounds, and that has NOT improved with age and parenthood. I take these walks with no earbuds intentionally. I breathe deeply, I talk to Lester sometimes. But mostly, I listen, and smell, and observe. Sometimes I see new things in a place I’ve been a million times. Like this.

Look at that door and windows. That isn’t a reflection. That is wallpaper or some sort of screen over the door and windows with the image of trees. It’s so odd. This house itself has been overgrown and I thought uninhabited. But there was a car behind it today, and maybe some of the brush was cleared? It’s hard to tell. But, aside from being weirded out by the indoor trees, I did take some inspiration from the colors and textures of this. Look at that brick, look at the colors and textures of the brick vs the textures of the trees. Is it just me? Isn’t there something about that? I can see something developing in my design brain, and so I will sit with it for a bit. But this is what I do. Do you ever take walks and just look around? Just listen? Just breathe deeply and feel your body relax? I need the silence and movement to allow my brain space. In that space, I’ve learned, is where my peace can be found.

So, there I was, walking all up in my peace, and headed home with Lester, who was stopping every 2 inches to pee on something. AS HE DOES. As we rounded the corner to my driveway, I saw the glint of something. Isn’t it funny how it’s just the timing, where you are walking up at just the right time, when the sun just hits something and you notice what has likely been there for a bit? Say, since NYE? Yeah. Here’s the bullet I found in my driveway.

Stupid shooting celebrations

And it’s only weird because I live in the city but it doesn’t really feel city. Not city in the way it felt living in Chicago, or in the bad parts of Indianapolis where I previously lived. I live in an awesome part, but it is a bubble. And it’s weirdly very city and not city simultaneously. So yeah, everyone shoots to celebrate NYE, and those bullets have to come down. But when you don’t feel city all the time, it’s slightly jarring to fall on it in your own driveway. So, I’ll be showing this to my kids and explaining why we don’t stand outside during NYE, or let the dogs out. And how fucking stupid it is to shoot guns into the air in celebration of anything. Have a drink like the rest of the world, fine. But damn, don’t put other people in danger. I hated it in Chicago, where it felt like living in a warzone on every holiday like NY or 4th of July. There wasn’t enough Xanax for my dog or my kids or me. Here, it feels like the bubble of not-quite-city lulls you into forgetting you live inthecity. Smack Dab in the middle!

So, I’ll be sitting here with my tea and my dog… and my bullet. Finishing this flax sweater tonight if its the last thing I do! Hope you guys are having a good and productive day. I’ll be sending out all the finishing up your WIP vibes I can. Cannot WAIT to cast on my first project of 2022.

Starting this year off right

Hey all! I decided to stop overthinking this whole blog thing. So, I’ll start here. Which, I’m told, is a very good place to start. Cue laughing by other Julie Andrews nerds.

I don’t do resolutions, because why oh WHY would I build in failure? We all have enough of that in our lives. I feel this EVERY time I start a new craft project while I have too many others: well more than 5 anyway. For the love, give yourself the gift of assuming 5 works in progress (WIPs) because you basically need one for every different situation in life to feel good about yourself, amiright??

Instead, I am choosing a guiding principle/mantra. My new phrase for this year is “Just Do It” (come @me, Nike).

Whenever I feel like I’m spinning in stuckness, I will slap myself proverbially and repeat said mantra. And then get to it. Because absolutely nothing happens while I think on it.

To that end, this blog. I love writing, and I love fiber. Now that I have all this time on my hands (see previous How I Got Here post), why not combine and share what I’m doing. I hope this will turn into a community where folks will interact and share their works and experiments too. Why not try new things? What’s the worst that could happen?? It’s 2022 and in the glow of the new year, even with all our obstacles, I am determined that this year is different and better than the last two fucking disasters.

I’ll be checking in every day or two to share what I’m working on and experimenting with. I’ll start by showing you something new I tried!

So I sewed! I’ve been meaning to try forever. And then, I found this steal of a vintage sewing machine/desk combo for $25 on our neighborhood online swap. I was drooling. I got it home, and the husband tested it out and it worked! So, after the predictable pause…cue the overthinking for two weeks…I finally just sat down and tried it. I got some different types of fabric at THE JOANN, which is just a veritable playground for sewing things, and flipped through some books. I found some pattern and proceeded to throw it out halfway and do what I wanted. I made this…thing! It’s lined. It’s uneven. But go me! Also, learned so much in the process that it was worth the time investment just to get comfortable with a finicky old school machine. SO FUN. Go try it. Just do it.

Here’s my catch up of projects over the last week or two. I have been working on this #flaxsweater for ages. I’m on sleeve island and gave up hope for awhile. Now I’m back at it and thinking it’ll be done TONIGHT. Cue singing angels.

Neverending flax sweater

I also decided to make a ballband dishcloth, asyoudo, and it was new to me, so I documented it. It was fun, I learned I don’t really love the feel of cotton while knitting it. But it’s useful and that’s cool. I feel like I just have to try everything at least once. I’m one of those tactile learners, and it seems I need to feel it to remember it. I am not solely experiential in my learning, but when I do it myself, I have strong feelings about it and my memory holds on to that. This brought feelings of rage on the scratchy factor, and ick on the monotony. So, I did it. Here it is. Probably the only one I’ll make.

It’s fine #ballband

And then I decided to try double knitting because why not. So I found a headband pattern and I was thinking of gifting to my sister in law. Until I realized that I wouldn’t finish in time and so here it sits, in it’s shallow grave. I will never wear a headband, because I am not a headband girl. My head is tiny. And I like to think that just means my brain is more efficient and not microcephalic but you never know. I just know I won’t be able to use this, so it’s destined for a rip-out and re-start on double knitting something I will wear. Suggestions? Put them in the comments, pretty please. Would love something interesting and maybe just one color to start.

Ok, so that means I have just a hat and one other sweater as WIPs, so clearly I had to order a boatload of yarn at the end of year sales and now I’m overwhelmed at my choices and forgot which patterns I bought the yarn for. Anyoneelse?? Lordt. I’m a hot mess.

I am considering starting one of those scarves where you document something daily, like the temperature. I thought I could do a mood one, but then I just don’t feel one way every day so that’s too hard. Maybe it will be easier to just use the number of works in progress I have on any given day. But then I’m afraid it will all be the same color for 5 all year round. Any other ideas?

What are you guys working on?

I also want to introduce you to my dogs, Mabel and Lester. They are the best and have very distinct personalities. Here they are salivating over the bulgogi I was heating up last night.

Mabel has a potty mouth and Lester is a southern gent. Lester is allergic to pretty much everything and was on immunotherapy and now just cytopoint for that, and was on a prescription diet of rabbit (dried doggie version) for years until recently when we adopted Mabel and found he could handle over the counter limited-ingredient fish based food. Mabel is also itchy and now on cytopoint. Both were rescues and both had lyme disease when we adopted them. They are kinda medically complex, but they are the best high maintenance dogs ever.

So, knowing they never get people food, this pic is more pathetic. This is Mabel’s “maybe if I sit real still, big mama will finally give me some of that fuckin sweet sweet dead animal, yummmmm meat. I need food. FEED ME, I’M STARVING “. After she realizes it isn’t to be, she huffs and saunters away petulantly. Lester is a giant teddy bear, and he just stares at you pathetically the entire time you are cooking. And he wags his tail constantly. And lays on your feet. But the whole time, you can hear him going “Mother dearest, could you spare a bit now please? please? What about now, please? Mayhaps? I do declare that I would appreciate any teeeeensy tiny little bit you could spare….”

I also have human babies, but I will introduce them when they allow me to. The 12 year old girl child is like a skittish wild animal these days. And the 9 year old boy child is usually face-first in minecraft. I’ll wait till they do interesting things…

That’s it for now. Happy crafting! Would love to get to know whoever is reading this, so shoot me a message or comment below.

-Eileen

I got stuck

I’m sitting here, finally sitting. Today has been a whirlwind of appointments, one missed because of traffic and one I showed up for and they didn’t even have a doc available. The others I made and then ran around doing all.the.things, errands etc. now I await the plumber.

I love the holidays, but they are hectic. We went out of town for thanksgiving to finally have a family holiday and now I’m trying to catch up.

We got our trees put up last night. The alive version finally got lights three days in, and the fake one finally got put up. But since it’s a new house to us, that whole “where does this go” thing is still a deal. So. This is where it went.

Yep. It’s a beaut! But also, there’s my yarn cabinet. BEHIND THE TREE.

This is sacrilege! I feel stuck, both figuratively and physically. Because everything has been so hectic, I haven’t gotten too far in to my fiber Journey and I’m kicking myself. But you know what? My self is NOT HAVING IT. Because my self learned a lot about grace this last year, after the whole quitting-epidemiology-during-Covid-because-of-politics thing. Lord knows that publicity brought me to a new appreciation for how much people suck, and how much I need self -care.

So my self -let’s call her Betty the Insouciant Trash Cussing Hellion: B.I.T.C.H just doesn’t do guilt. And she does everything in annoying caps so you can hear her, because she has to drown out all the other bullshit thoughts floating around. “FUCK ALLLLL DAT, YOU TOOK CARE OF EVERYONE ELSE AND NOW YOU DON’T GET TO FEEL BAD ABOUT NOT ACCOMPLISHING YOUR SHIT, TOO. (And now that it’s quiet again)…Damnit woman, have some chutzpah!”

Betty is right, as usual. And aside from the fact that I have now named my own self and that is it’s own special something, I’d say I’m pretty healthy mentally overall these days. So I’m gonna listen to Betty, and I’m gonna extend some grace to me. And say this instead: you know what? Tomorrow is another awesome opportunity, and I’m taking it!

I’m gonna spend 15 minutes tomorrow learning to spin. And then, I’m gonna take 15 minutes tomorrow and work on learning my sewing machine. And every day, I’m gonna aim for 15 minutes of each. And I’m gonna give myself a damn break if I don’t make it.

So right now, I’m gonna sit. And maybe knit. Or maybe not.

Because Lester is here being all cuddly and I don’t want to move.

But my bag is right there. On the table. Just in case I have 15 minutes soon.

Be kind to yourselves, we all need some grace right now.

Happy fibering,

love,

Eileen