A Trip to the Yarn Store

You know, no matter how your week is going, things will get better if you head on over to visit your local yarn store. I met up with my knitting peeps last Wednesday, and here’s what happened.

Antarktis Shawl
You know I wore my new Antarktis Shawl. My friend Deb took a picture of me showing it off.
Cookies
There were sheep cookies!! You know these went home with me.
Beads
I found some beads to use with the Random Act of Color that I am knitting. I plan on adding these babies to the purple edging at the bottom of the shawl. I’m still knitting like crazy on this shawl, but I don’t think I will get it done before the end of the Olympics tonight.
Yarn
And of course I found some yarn that I had to have. This will be a new cowl someday.:-) The yarn is Universal Yarns Bamboo Blooms Handpaint.

There was laughing, knitting, shopping and snacking. Projects were shown off and fellow knitters struck with envy and creative inspiration. Patterns were shared, yarn was bought and ordered. Plans were made to run wild during the upcoming Yarn Along the Rockies yarn crawl, and a good time was had by all.

It is good to have a local yarn store and knitting peeps.

Have a good week everyone.

 

So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Good-bye… to My Support Group

Okay, this is a rant. This rant is so long and complicated, with so many connections to other topics, that I have considered that I should perhaps launch another blog just to deal with it. Or maybe create an online course for people with complex autoimmune diseases. Something. Because I finally have snapped for sure.

It happened while I was attending my monthly Scleroderma Support group in July. I go to these meetings because I need to talk to people about my illness, become educated about treatments and coping strategies, and to get, you know, support! I want to flock with my peeps!! Usually in these meetings there are introductions, a little sharing, nice snacks, and a presentation by a guest speaker.

This is the problem. The speakers who have been coming are often involved in alternative treatment strategies. As in alternative medicine. As in flat out pseudoscience masquerading as legitimate methods of treatment for our complex health conditions.  These speakers have been trained in their “method” and faithfully parrot back what they were told in their training. They have little actual knowledge of human physiology, biology, disease, or science. They are connected to a product or system that they want to sell to us to help us “stay healthy”. They especially tell us that they can help us have “healthy” immune systems and/or take away our pain. Since I am in pain because my immune system is misbehaving it’s hard to not find their messages appealing.

Except… I was a biology teacher. I used to work in a research lab. I know science as a logical process with rules, and this information is so outrageous it causes me to wiggle around in my chair, bite my tongue, and often whip out my cell phone to fact check.

Me: Google, please tell me if Leaky Gut is a real thing?

Google: Are you crazy? Of course not.

Me: That’s what I thought…

But evidently I absolutely, positively need to take this essential oil to protect me from leaky gut. Or the toxins will leak out though the holes in my intestines. This is the cause of many complex illnesses. Research? We don’t need no stinking research. We have testimonials!!

Compression Points on Foot
This pressure point chart was so outrageous I needed to put down the knitting to take a picture!

How about the day I learned that I need to massage my hands and feet at specific pressure points to clean the toxins out of my liver, pancreas and other parts of my body? Really. I was informed that the problem is that the cells of my body get dehydrated, will form tough protective barriers, and the fascia then can’t move fluids throughout the body. This was such a garbled version of reality it was practically science salad.

Me: Google, please tell me exactly what fascia is.

Google: Sure. Fascia is the thin, tough barrier around muscles and organs. It is part of your connective system and made of collagen.

Me: Google, just to be sure, it doesn’t have anything to do with fluid transport?

Google. No, dumb ass. That would be the lymph system.

Me: Google, that’s what I thought. No need to cop an attitude with me, you wouldn’t believe what I’m dealing with here.

As if all this fact checking wasn’t exhausting enough, there is also a hint of “anti-science” in the room. Several other patients have become convinced that we need to stop taking our meds as they have unacceptable side effects. It is better, they argue, to control our disease with diet, essential oils and supplements. OMG! It isn’t possible to google fast enough to keep up with this stuff!

Me: Google, what is this alkaline diet all about?

Me: Google, is dairy inflammatory?

Me: Google, do I need to take massive doses of probiotics every day, or can I just eat yogurt? This speaker is telling me I have to buy their product since I can’t eat dairy anymore…

Me: Google, how quickly do bacteria divide? Every 20 minutes? So I don’t need a massive dose?

Me: Google, is there any research showing a positive benefit of essential oils in systemic sclerosis?

Google: Stop! I have smoke coming out of my ears! Let me direct you to this nice List of Topics Characterized as Pseudoscience. There. You’re welcome.

Lunch
Yep. This is my lunch. See the dairy? That yogurt has 8 live cultures in it and I am not giving it up!!

While loading up on gluten free snacks at the break I finally snapped and asked the group facilitator if she thought it would be appropriate to let people advocate going off their meds and using essential oils to treat their conditions if this was a cancer support group?

“Well, no…”, she replied. “But that’s cancer.”

I just looked back at her until I saw something click in her brain, and then I left. I’m done.

Since then I have been fussing around about why this is happening. I understand that this is a tough disease (in more than one way), but how awful it is that there is so much misinformation out there that people don’t know what is accurate, and what isn’t. Desperate people will clutch at anything that gives them hope. Sometimes these things are based in sound logic, reason and science (stem cell transplants), and sometimes they are not (amber beads for pain relief). Obviously people need to know more about the nature of science, basic physiology, immunology, cell biology, and how the medications prescribed by their doctors work. They need to know their Star Trek!!

Star Trek Meme
A no-win scenario, the Kobayashi Maru test was designed to be a test of character. 

That’s right. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is what I needed to put this into perspective.  So many movie quotes, so many posts.

So, I feel a lot better after finishing up my rant, but I still think that I may need to launch a mini-series of posts relating to this. I mean, there are all those pseudoscience cures to debunk. All that biology to share. All those Star Trek quotes.

Stay tuned. If I start the new blog, I’ll let you all know where it is. Otherwise, a lot of my knitting friends are going to be exposed to some biology.  Feel free to let me know how you feel about that.J

Rio Continues: Shawl Updates

Oh, I am totally locked into Olympic viewing with knitting on the side. Last week was swimming, beach volleyball, woman’s gymnastics, and my fabulous tropical colored Antarktis shawl.  I cast off Friday night and here she is:

Cat and Yarn
You know, it is challenging to knit with so much cat help. Once MacKenzie joins the party my knitting speed goes way down. Actually it is a reverse relationship with the amount of yarn chomping; MacKenzie loves to chomp yarn. 
Shawl
But in spite of cat help it is finished. Check this out!! My Ravlery notes are here.

Well, as soon as I was done with this shawl I cast on and started the next. I had put 7 new shawls into my Ravelry queue a couple of weeks ago, so I headed on over to check out the list. I fussed around with Rainbow Warrior for a while, but decided that the two colors that I had selected really didn’t go together as well as I thought they did. Fine. Back to the stash!! In the meantime, I did have the perfect colors to start a Random Act of Color, so that is what happened.

Knitting
I’m making this shawl in the colors that are linked to my autoimmune conditions: bright teal (scleroderma) and purple (Sjogren’s Syndrome). How lucky that those two colors go well together.:-)

So, I am still binge watching and knitting like crazy. The cats stayed out most of the day so there was a lot of progress. Hey, I might be able to knock this one off too before Rio ends on me.

Think I should put some beads on this baby?

 

The Cat Days of Summer

It is still hot here and things are really slowing down. Most of the plants in the garden have stopped blooming and the cats are on strike under the largest bushes in the yard trying to stay cool. Smoke from western USA wildfires have made the air quality where I live less than optimal so I’ve been staying indoors as much as possible; this is easy because… Olympics! Prime knitting weather!! Today I’m watching volleyball (Serbia vs. USA. Go USA!!) and cranking away on the Antarktis shawl. Okay, that’s enough detail. Here are the pictures.:-)

Close-up of Knitting
I’m loving the colors of my Antarktis shawl
Shawl
Here’s a shot that better shows my progress. I’m now at about the halfway point.
Cowl
I’m about half way through the Hawkshaw cowl too. I love, love, love this yarn from Spincycle Yarns.
Butterfly bush
My butterfly bush has finally started to bloom, about the only color in the entire yard. Not that any butterflies are bothering to come see the bush in the heat. Even the grass has stopped growing. Mostly it is managing to stay alive. Mostly.
Cat
The cats are too hot to chase any butterflies, anyway. Yellow Boy sleeps spread out on the damp ground under a shady bush.
Cat
Yellow Boy: I can haz matted fur…

That right. This cat grows new balls of matted fur daily. I’ve been shaving him when they get really bad, but he can get a little scary while this is going on (growling makes me nervous, and then there are those teeth!) so we do what we can. Last night I got almost everything off except some lumps of fur on his chest. This should be an Olympic event! I wonder who would get scored… me or the cat? We could call it single-handed cat clipping. Points are deducted if you resort to using a foot or sustain a scratch.

Cat
MacKenzie: I have superior fur: no fur mats for me!

Last week I went to see my primary care physician and she ordered me the oxygen-to-go equipment and changed my blood pressure meds. Now my heart rate is up, my blood pressure is down, and my oxygen levels are better. I feel pretty good and have stopped the daytime oxygen. OK, I take the support tank with me when I leave the house, but things are still better. It’s a win!!

So that’s the cat days of summer. Olympics, heat, matted cat fur, oxygen level checks, and knitting marathons.

I’m on the home stretch of the Antarktis shawl. Time to decide which shawl to knit next.

 

 

Seven Happy Shawls

Okay, July was a month that I am glad to see go out the door. I did have some great moments in the month; my sister and niece came to visit, I worked at the summer camp at Alta Vida Alpacas, and I spun my friend Deb’s beloved Jake dog into yarn. Good highlights!

Collage of July
Highlights of July. In the group photo of my family we are (clockwise from the top left) me, my cousin Ruth Ann, my sister Selma, and my niece Melissa.

On the flip side, I lost a war with an invasive weed in one of my gardens and my autoimmune conditions went into high gear. For the first time ever I was unable to sleep due to pain (what is up with my joints and muscles?!), gastritis returned after being good for two years, my Sjogren’s flared (!!) and my lips turned blue. Ugh. I blame the heat and the sun.

Now it is August, I’m on oxygen full time, meds have been changed, and I’m in need of a little cheer. Shawls, I need shawls!! The way things are going right now I want to be wrapped in color. Shawls will give me color, texture, lots of mindless knitting, and defiance in the face of medical adversity. I hit the stash, printed patterns from Ravelry, made my shopping list and when I went on the knitting road trip with my peeps last week I scored everything I needed. May I present to you, Seven Happy Shawls…

Shawls and Yarn
Shawl patterns matched with my yarn. Top row: Antkarkis Shawl (photo credit to Janina Kallio)  Middle row: Rainbow Warrior (photo credit to Casapinka) Bottom Row: A Random Act of Color (photo credit to Mina Phillip)

How is this for cheerful defiance! I was really torn about which one to start on, but I’m leaning towards Antarktis.

Shawls and Yarn
Shawls and yarn match by column from left to right. Far left column: Exploration Station (photo credit to westknits). Left middle column: Jujuy (photo credit to Rafael Delceggio) Middle right column: Tamdou (photo credit to Melanie Berg). Right column: The Miller’s Daughter (photo credit to Melanie Berg).

More defiance. This should keep me going in good cheer until the end of the year. I’m torn about the order to knit them; they are all just too yummy for words.

Shawl Kits
Here they are: seven shawls all kitted up waiting to go. I put the pattern into the box with each yarn, and I’ve already wound the yarn for the top three shawl contenders.

All right August, I am ready for you. Let’s go!!

Notes:

  • My Ravelry queue can be located here if you would like more information about these patterns and the yarns that I have selected.
  • I downloaded Fotor for Windows to make some photo collages instead of posting a million pictures. What do you think? I think that you can also make stuff online. It was free, free, free!!

 

Road Trip: My Sister Knits

Every Wednesday I go to a local yarn store to knit with a group of ladies who have become my friends. Okay, let’s be honest, they are one of my main support systems. I love the ladies in this group, and last week we all headed out on a road trip to the yarn stores of Fort Collins, Colorado. We visited three stores and treated ourselves to a fun lunch. It was a great (if a little exhausting) time, and it is always exciting to explore new yarn shops, but one store in particular was a huge hit with me.

My Sister Knits is located in the carriage house behind a lovely home on a street shaded with mature trees. We drove by twice before we figured out that there was a discrete sign under a tree out front; the low profile might be due to its presence in a residential section of the city. I really don’t know about that, but it is totally worth the extra time to locate it! To get to the shop you walk through a bright and inviting gate to the side of the house and…

Yard
you enter the sweetest yard with brick patios and walkways, tables and benches for knitting, sparkly lights and lovely plantings. I was struck with envy.
chickens
Then there were the chickens… these pampered chicks have this lovely house for their coop, and the metal and wire structure to the right (which is much larger than shown in the photo) is their courtyard. So cute! I want chickens for my yard too. I want these trees and the decorations, and maybe that birdbath while we’re at it. Do you think a bee hive would be over the top? I got great ideas for my yard before I even made it to the yarn shop!
My Sister Knits
Oh, there it is. The store is located in a converted carriage house that used to be a two car garage with upstairs storage and an office used by the previous owner. Now it is a lovely yarn shop. Let’s go in…
Yarn
OK, the shop isn’t huge, but everything that is there is JUST PERFECT!! Seriously, I wanted everything. Yarn that is hard to find, too wonderful to ignore, and in a great selection of colors. I felt like I had gone to heaven!
Shop Owner
and I met Julie, who is the most positive and helpful owner you could hope for. No wonder her shop is so appealing.
Yarn
Upstairs you find all the fingering yarn…Madelinetosh and Hedgehog Fibres in every color and weight you could wish for, along with knitted samples, patterns, and cute kit packaging. There were other yarn brands, too, but I never made it that far.:-) This table had kits to make Melanie Berg’s On the Spice Market Shawl along with kits for the shawls you can see. You know I bought the yarn to made one of these shawls… There was a Stephen West The Doodler hanging on the wall, with every color of Hedgehog Fibers yarn lurking nearby just waiting for you to put together a three yarn combination… The shop has a license to sell Ravelry patterns, so anything you wanted, they printed it for you and you were in business.

So I got silly and bought yarn. I bought some of the kits that were shown, the yarn for some shawl patterns that have been waiting patiently in my Ravelry shopping cart, and some yarn that was too beautiful to just leave sitting on the rack. I have put together the kits to make seven new shawls (lucky seven… can you feel a new post coming on?), and launched into some small projects that are rich in color and learning. Here is the one that I started first.

Yarn kit
Downstairs on a high shelf these little kits were on display: brioche knit cowls. Hey, I always wanted to learn how to knit brioche…
Brioche cowl
Look Mom! I can knit brioche!! Look at how nice these two colors go together. Even the little stitch marker came with the kit. This is the Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price. That yarn is a single worsted weight merino yarn. Yum!
I-Cord Cast O
I even learned how to do the i cord cast on that Julie recommended I use. Thank you You Tube!

Today it is cool, overcast and threatening to rain. The Olympics starts tonight, and I have lots of yarn on hand and visions of shawls dancing in my head. Forecast: major knitting.

What a great road trip!