Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weaving with RA

Back in the days before I was sick I could wind a warp and dress my floor loom and be ready to weave in just a few hours, depending of course on how big and complicated the project was. These days its quite a different story. I wound the warp on Sunday then did nothing else the rest of the day, but part of the reason for that is I work a craft fair on Saturday with my friends Sarah and Sharon and I was just tired. This morning got the warp prepped onto the loom so I'm ready to beam it. It was a good place to start because my back decided that it really needed some quality time with the heating pad. I don't feel bad that I'm having to take the project and break it down into small increments mainly because I don't have a choice. Its do it small or not at all so I'll take small. At the craft fair I spoke to a woman who is a weaver and wants to learn to spin who also happens to have RA. I told her that I would be happy to work with her and we would decide together just how much it was going to be possible for her to do. I spoke to her about the whole concept of "Do it small or not at all" (taking things down to small bites not small projects) as much as could while also trying to sell spinning fiber for my friends. My new attitude towards my illness is taking shape. I will never be happy that I'm sick but I can be accepting of it and I will find a way to do all the things I used to do one way or any other because I just can't not do those things. Small it is.

ETA: My back is still not at all happy with me and my hips are in complete agreement with my back. So for the rest of the day I'm either going to knit on a sock or read while communing with my heating pad.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A new mindset

Right from the very beginning of be sick with RA my attitude has been that I needed to fight the disease. I needed to fight my way thru the pain, fatigue, and brain fogs. If I'm being very honest I never really accepted that I'd be sick for the rest of my life. I was hoping if I just did everything the Dr's wanted me to do I'd eventually go into remission and get back to who I was pre-RA. That approach, while it got me thru a lot of things in the past is not going to be the best for getting me thru the rest of my life. I'm trying a new mindset now, how do I just simply live with the disease and all that comes with it. I'm doing this because over the long term I just can't power thru the pain and fatigue and have a good quality of life. What this new mindset means for me is that I'm accepting that I'm in with this for life. I'm never going to completely pain free again. What I need to do is work with the ebbs and flow of the good days vs the bad. For example yesterday was a great day. I paced myself really well to get a lot of things done (nice long shower, walking to the market to do my food shopping, cooking enough of a meal to have plenty of left overs if don't want to or just can't cook at some point this week). By the end of the day I had enough energy and mental focus that I could knit and spin for a little while. Today I feel like crap but I'm not beating myself up about it. I need to be gentle with myself today so that I can get done the few thing that have to get done and have enough energy to get to some Dr's appointments tomorrow. So the short answer is that I have to be motivated to use the limited amount of good time wisely so that I don't feel emotionally bad when I can't just power thru the bad time.

A very important part of this new mindset is making sure I eat right. I feel that I really shouldn't eat as much processed food as I had been. One of the ways I've started to deal with this is to drag out my bread machine and bake a loaf or two of bread each week. No artificial crap and preservatives which could on some level be elevating my immune response, which is part of what RA is. With the machine its really easy. You just measure out the ingredients and press a button. No kneading. A great breakfast for me lately has been a nice piece of bread with honey drizzled on top. Very tasty and its just enough food in my tummy to help get my meds down and not give me a stomach ache. I'll be cooking a lot more simple foods in greater quantities so I can freeze the leftover for those time when I just can't stand up long enough to make something. I'm also going to the people who I know love to cook, my friends Wendy and Geoffrey for example, and asking them for ideas on simple healthy recipes that will fit my criteria. Why rack my brain when I have wonderful people in my life that are experts at cooking which really isn't my favorite thing in the world to do. This also gives me a chance to talk to my friends and that has been helping with feeling not so isolated. Basically I've been a hermit for the last 6 months and that has to stop too.

I'll be keeping y'all posted as to how well I'm doing with this new mindset.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A finished pair of socks for SOS 2010

I got one pair of socks done for the Summer of Socks 2010 Knit-A-Long. Go me! Considering how awful I've been feeling for the part few weeks this really is an accomplishment. The picture isn't the greatest but my hands are shaky and this was the best of the lot that was able to take in the fading light. Perhaps I'll take a better one tomorrow.

Hey Moni! Thanks for the support!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

An update

My RA has gotten worse, again. I was doing really well there for a while, but then I took a tumble out of my bathtub over a month ago and that started a set back that I'm still dealing with. Even getting an infusion of Remicade wasn't able to calm down the pain I was in. I'm back on steroids and am limited in what I can do. I have to admit that deaing with this flare has been kind of tough but that may have something to do with the fact that I have nothing to look forward too. No plans for trips or anything of the like to help me move forward each day. To force myself to look forward in a positive way I've started to do some knitting for Christmas. I can't do much each day but I do some and that helps pass the time. I can't show you anything that I'm working on because the two projects I have on the needles are for people who might see this post. I can't even tell you the kind of knitting I'm doing because these two people are smart and know me well. It wouldn't take much for them to guess who I'm knitting for.

As for my progress on my various Spin- or Knit-alongs, not a whole lot more progress was made since I posted about them. I did finally finish plying the yarn I was working on my wheel but I didn't do that until after the Tour de Fleece was over. I'm still working slowly on the same fiber I had on the drop spindle and I'm in progress on the second sock of the pair I had on the needles for the Summer of Sock '10. Summer isn't over yet so there's still hope I'll get the pair finished but feeling the way have been I'm not going to hold my breath. I always start these things with the best of intentions but I have the attention span of a gnat and am easily side tracked.

I also fell off the wagon with my intention to only work from my stash this summer. There was some fiber and yarn that was just too "Ooooo, shiney!" for me to pass up. Oh my, this summer really isn't working out the way I had planned. Well today is another day and I am renewing my intention to only work from stash. To that end I'm NOT going to be spending time surfing Etsy when I'm board and I have enough knitting patterns to last me a life time, including a program, Sweater Wizard, that will allow me to design my own sweaters to exactly my measurements. Not to mention all the projects I have unfinished. Yes, I think I have reached my limit and need to stop with the consumerism and get to the end of something besides my wallet.

I know this update sounds pretty negative but know that I'm still fighting the good fight. The steroids are starting to bring down the inflamation. So I'll be able to do a little more each day. I've even entertained notions of planning a new weaving project. I need a bit more time on the steroids and to finish something on the needles first but its a nice thing to think about when I am stuck doing nothing in bed or on the couch.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A message to one of my Chinese followers

I've been getting comments from followers in China. Considering the time I've spent in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and China this year it makes me very happy to have them. One person asked me what they should be doing with their blog. This is a very touchy subject considering the political climate in China which I have first hand knowledge of. My best advice is that as far the arts are concerned you need to show what make your heart sing. This is quite simply what I do. What you see on my blog is the work I'm currently doing, the things that are effecting my life and my work at the moment. What you see here really is about who I am as a person. I don't know any other way to be. To use an American colloquialism I have always worn my heart on my sleeve. If I feel passionate about something I post about. If you could see me in person you be able to read my feeling on my face as you were reading a book. Now being in China that might not always be the wisest thing but you need to do your best to find a way to say whats in your heart without pissing off the powers that be. I will say this, I don't run the risk of being arrested by just being myself but it hasn't always been easy to find acceptance for it in my culture. I'm very much the kind of person who just can't stand by when I see that someone needs help. I'd give them the shirt off my back and my last dime if they would be better off for it. More times than I can count I've been kicked in the teeth for it. Even then I pray that those same people who have hurt me find the peace they are looking for. So the answer is try your best to be true to your self, rejoice in the things that give you pleasure, and that's what you should be sharing on your blog.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A commitment to working down my stash

One of the things I'm working on this summer, since I'm not working "a real job", is work down my yarn and fiber stash. My reasons aren't some much about money but the fact that I have have an astounding stash. If I manage to spin up all my fiber then I certinly wouldn't need any more yarn for a long time. To that end I've been working everyday on the SAL and KALs I've joined.

Tour de Fleece:
This spindle is slowly filling with what eventually be a fingering weight yarn. After I've finished this yarn I'm going to dig out my other (many) spindles to work off what I have on them.

On my wheel I've finished the first 4 ozs of this BFL. I'm not sure as of tonight if I'm going to spin the next 4 osz or switch to another batch of fiber just to have a change.

Sock Knitters Anonymous July KAL and Summer of Socks 2010
This is a fair isle sock designed by Chrissy Gardiner for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravlery.

This is a design by Anne Hanson of Knitspot. I've only been working on this sock for a couple of days but I'm loving how the sock is knitting up. I'm almost done with the first repeat.

I've also picked up a sock I put down last fall but I don't have any current pictures of it. I'll get a shot when I get the first sock done which Ithink will be tomorrow. There is one other sock on my needles but its a surprise for someone so you'll just have to wait until I gift the socks to see them.
Another thing I want to get going is a new weaving project but I'm not sure what I want to do yet.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not quite a year

I'm about 3 months short of not having posted in a year. Its been intresting in that "OMG we're all gonna die!" sort of way. My RA had been getting progressively worse. To the point where I had to give up spinning, knitting and weaving. In the middle of November '09 my husband asked me for a divorce. A month later my Rheumatologist added a new medication to my regimen that finally did the trick of getting rid of most of my daily pain. By shortly before Christmas I was in my own apartment with divorce proceedings underway. Some time between January and February I started to feel strong enough to start knitting again.
Since one of my dreams (being married to someone I loved) was coming to a close I didn't want I decided to pursue another dream, that of traveling. From the middle of April 2010 to the middle of May 2010 I was sight seeing and hiking in Nepal and Tibet. Other than finishing college this was the best thing I have ever done for myself. The trip was hard and satisfying. I was in a lot of pain at times but there were times when I could put the RA thing aside and truly be happy in the moment. I made new friends that will be with me for the rest of my life. I've got a lot of pictures and memories of the trip that I want to share but I'll do that in other posts. My divorce became finale the week before I left for the trip.
After I returned home I bought myself a new spinning wheel and have been back into my fiber life. The wheel is a Schact Lady Bug. For those not familiar with it this is a double treadle wheel which means you use both feet to keep the wheel in motion. From an ergonomic standpoint this is a much better wheel for me since I'm not using just one foot the way I had been with both my Ashford Wheels. Yes, I could have gotten a new double treadle for my Ashford Traveler wheel, and I still might, but the Lady Bug also has bigger bobbins and well I just wanted something really new.
I'm still not working but that's not entirely due to my having RA. Now that I'm so much healthier I've been enjoying my time. I have to be careful that I don't over due anything. I've spent to much time knitting or spinning and have felt the pain for many days afterwards. The fatigue from the disease and the side effects from the medications I take are still with me. Most days I need to nap in the afternoon or else go to bed early in the evening. Eventually I'll start looking for a job but with the economy still in the tank and the fact that with some frugality I can live one my alimony payments I'm not in a hurry.
To keep myself busy this summer I've become involved with two knit-a-longs (KALs) and a spin-a-long (SAL). For all of them I interact with my fellow a-longers on Ravelry. The first KAL is an on going one thru the Sock Knitters Anonymous group. There are several choices for knitted socks each month. For July you can either knit a pattern by Anne Hanson of Knit Spot or do a Fair Isle sock. One of the choices is a mystery design, which this month is in the fair isle theme. I'm doing an Anne Hanson design called Flaming Desire. If I get that pair done then I want to do the mystery sock. As soon as I have something started I'll post pictures.
The other KAL is also about socks. Its the Summer of Socks 2010. From June 21 to September 21 you knit as many pairs of socks as you want. Some folks are doing a "wedding" theme. Something old, new, borrowed, and blue. I'm not sure how much that has to do with the fact that the founder, Jessica (AKA Zarzuela) who I am very happy to say is a friend of mine, is getting married this year. My something old is a sock I started before the whole divorce this started. I'll post info and pictures soon.
The SAL is the Tour de Fleece which goes along with the Tour de France. The idea is they spin so we spin. There are various teams inspired like the actual TdF such as Sprinters and the Peloton. In our case the sprinters work on fast spinning and or high mileage yarn like lace weight. The Peloton is the main group and we're all in this one at some point. There are also Wildcard teams which are just groups of people who are friends or are working with a certain type of fiber. I'm on Team CrankyPants because we're cranky, Team Schact Spinners because my Lady Bug wheel and one of the drop spindles I'm using are made by Schact, and Team Spindlers because I'm doing some of my spinning on a drop spindle. We are suppose to spin every day that the TdF is riding. There are rest days on July 12 and 21. I've done my spinning for the day so here are pictures of my progress:
The fiber is Superwash Blue Faced Leicester dyed by Spincerely. The colorway is called Raina. I've got 8 ozs and I'm planning on doing my usual navajo ply. I think this might become a small knitted shawl when it grows up.
This fiber is a merino silk blend dyed by Freckle Face Fibers. Again I'm planning on navajo plying. I havea similar colorway also in a silk blend that I bought from Pigeonroof Studios that I've already spun up. I want to combine the two some sort of project because each on its own might not be enough. I'm not sure what that project will be yet.

So there you have it. My not quite a year in a nut shell. I don't think I'm going to mention my divorce or my ex-husband except in passing because I need to put all of it behind me. I'm going to be going back to Nepal and Tibet next year for a hike around Mt Kailash, more details as I get them. I'm moving forward in my life and I'll try to share all the happy details.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A long boring summer

I haven't posted because there really has nothing to post about. I'm maxed out on all of the meds that are suppose to get this damn disease under control and it's not. The one med that's not a narcotic that really helped with the pain set my brain on fire. As much as I want to be pain free I rather not wind up in the in a locked ward of the local psych clinic. They don't let you spin or knit in there. I can spin on my wheel for about 30 minutes if I'm lucky before my left shoulder and right hip say stop for the day. If I'm using a light drop spindle then I can get a bit more time in but if I push it to much I regret it later.

The summer hasn't been a total dud. I've had the chance to spend some time with friends who don't mind that I have no stamina and have been wonderful at taking care of me. One friend when as far as to rearrange the furniture in house to make the air flow from the air conditioner flow better so I could come over. Her boy friend thought it was the best thing since sliced bread and wondered why they hadn't done it earlier in the summer! She's also a cook and has fed me lost of yummy food over the summer.

I've missed being with other friends, I hope you know who you are, because I haven't been able to stand for very long. So helping out with various events has been right out.

My fall is shaping up to be much better. We made the final commitment to the layout on our kitchen renovation. We went thru many layout changes to make the kitchen space more efficient. The only thing that has really changed is where the stove is going. My stove will no longer open into the side of another cabinet. They should start the demo the day I get back from Disney World.

Disney is the other thing that I am very much looking forward to. A friend wanted to go for the Food and Wine festival. Her boy wasn't interested and the majority of our group of friends are all going on a cruise later in the fall. So she said "bring your spending money and come with me!" Who am I to look a gift mouse in the mouth. I'm not letting her pay for the whole trip, that just wouldn't sit well with Hubby or myself. I'm paying for as much as I can considering we are about 10K over the initial budget for the reno. Part of where we went over budget is that we're having a half bay window put in which will bring a whole lot more light and give me more counter space. I know the investment we're making in the window will pay off in added value to the house if we do ever sell. It will also give the cats a place to sit and watch the birds in the back yard.

One of the things that's making Disney possible for me is that I can rent a scooter to get around on. My friend also has a problem with the nerves in her feet so we'll be trading off who rides and who walks or if she's really hurting to we'll just get two scooters. I've had visions of drag races down Main Street USA! We'll be leaving a week from this Thursday and I can't wait! This will be my once a decade trip to Florida.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Be still my textile geek heart!!!

I have just found the most amazing podcast on traditional textiles from a wide variety of cultures. The podcast is called Voices on Cloth - Maiwa Podcasts. The episodes are from lectures given at past textile symposium sponsored by Miawa. I've only listened to a few of the podcasts so far but I've enjoyed what I've heard. The first one are excerpts from a lecture on Slow Clothing.

There is another symposium coming up this Sept-Oct. One of the lecturers is Dr. Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Dr. Barber is the author of Woman's Work - The first 20,000 Years. The book is my favorite book EVAR!!! and should be required reading for anyone who is a spinner and/or weaver. The book will be the topic of Dr Barbers lecture. That high pitched noise your heaing is me squeeing in delight!!!

There is also a series of stores in Vancouver BC. You can find the website at:

TTMMH - Podcasts

One of the things that makes me happy are podcasts. You can find some of my favorites if you scroll down the page. I got into listening to them because I was interested in the subject matter which is the reason why most people listen to them. But recently I have come to love them for another reason. I've spent several months of forced inactivity. Either I've been to tired or in to much pain do the things that I'm passionate about. It was making me really sad, but at some point I worked on reframing my idea of what being creative meant to me. By listening to people who are passionate about a particular subject, like knitting, Buddhism, or Creative Arts Therapy, I can participate vicariously when I can't in reality. But its more than that. I've been able to fill up my creative well with ideas that have come to me while listening. I've been able to (even thought its rather one sided) connect with folks who love the same things I do. That feeling of connection has gone a long way to help me deal some of the isolation and loneliness that comes with being sick. I've laughed and you know they say that laughter is the best medcine. So if you've never listened to one just plug a word into Google or Itunes and I just know that someone out there has a podcast that will suite you. If you haven't listened to one in while come back to them. Perhaps you'll even be ispired enough to create one of your own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things that make me happy

I haven't talked at all about psychology since I graduated from school last year. That's been for a couple of reasons, one of which was I was rather burnt out by the time I was done. Being so burnt may have in some way contributed to my having RA. We may never know for sure but I am sure all the stress didn't help matters any. Since my diagnosis earlier this year I've been going back and re-reading some of the books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfullness, and Positive Psychology. I've been able to look with fresh eyes and a slightly different perspective on how these approaches to psychologic health can be used to help clients with chronic illnesses, well, since now I am one.

One of the simplest things to do (either on your own or with the help of a therapist) is make a list of things that make you happy. By spending just a little time refocusing your thoughts from whats wrong to whats right with you, about you, and in your life you can change how you feel emotionally as well as physically. So for the rest of this post and in future posts I'm going to share things that make me happy.

Todays happiness is: My Ipod. Yes one of things that makes me happiest in the world is my Ipod. Of course the music can help lift my mood, but its more than that. I have always had trouble turning my brain off when I'm trying to fall alseep. I find that if I have some background noise I'm better able to that. I used to fall asleep in front of the TV in the living room or have the radio on next to my bed, both of which was disturbing to my husband. When I got an Ipod and the right set of head phones I could have my back ground noise and not disturb my husband. An Ipod uses less energy than a TV and I can easily set the sleep timer feature which is something I could never figure out how to do on our TV. The memory capacity even, in some of the older models of Ipods, means that I can have a variety of media at my finger tips. I have a wide range of music, I love audio books and I even have some TV shows on my Ipod now. I love not having to choose a group of CD's (or way back in the day tapes) to take with me when I go out. When I have to sit for 2-3 hours getting my Remicade infusion I have everything I need to help pass the time. When my husband gave me this device I don't think either one of us had any idea of just how helpfull I find it. Yes, my Ipod is truly one of the things that makes me happy.