That Strange Empty Feeling

Downer time, kids... Today is my Dad's 60th birthday. At least it would have been if he was alive. He died last year on July 16th of a heart attack. I realized that today was his birthday this morning while I was in the shower. It's sad and I feel like I should call him and wish him a happy birthday, but I can't, so I talked to him a little bit instead. It always makes me feel strange to talk to my dad, because he was many different people (he suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism). So I talk to the dad I remembered when I was about 10 years old, before his various diseases made him the stranger he was when he died.

Unlike other people who I love and have passed over to the other side, I don't ever feel like my dad is around. I haven't ever felt his presence (although I've really tried, like in finance class last quarter when I really could have used his guidance...) and while it's disconcerting, I certainly understand. Dad and I weren't speaking to each other when he died. His alcoholism had gripped him hard and he was struggling. Unfortunately, he was very mean when his self-hatred was winning and I just couldn't stand there trying over and over to save him anymore.

After he died I found one of his journals and one of the entries from a few years ago when he was briefly sober ended with the line "If you ever want to find hell on earth, just start drinking." To see his ruined, crooked handwriting resume as he once again succumbed to his addictions was heartbreaking. I used to make him cards for his sobriety anniversaries; he saved every one.

I can't really say that I miss the dad of my teenage years, but I really do miss the dad of my childhood. He was a silly, creative, loving person who always had time for us (when he wasn't travelling for work) and used to let us do all sorts of stuff that most parents today would be appalled at. He took us snowcamping, we took roadtrips and shared the National Enquirer, we went skiing and kayaking and rock climbing... His death was a relief to him and to the family, but man, I miss my fun dad.

Here are some pics of fun dad and us as kids (I had to make it big so y'all could see):

My parents trekking:

This is my Dad's view; Cloud's Rest, Yosemite:


It's Shearin' Season!

For most spring is heralded by bulbs blooming, the return of morning birdsong, the snowmelt, lighter days... But nothing says "SPRING!" to us fiber fiends like shearing season. It's an exciting time in the land of fiber as the junkies trawl the various websites of independent wool producers looking for that Golden Fleece. It could be Cormo, Alpaca, Merino or Vicuna, but nothing is more clear a sign of spring than sinking your hands into a nice raw fleece.

After a ridiculously long wait, I finally got my handcards on Tuesday. I love the cards, but I'm really disappointed in the store I got them from. The service was pretty abominable for the amount of money in roving and tools I spent with them (over $150). It's really neither here nor there, though, because my new Schacht cards rule. I could not be happier with them. Instead of a cotton backing, it's some sort of pleather and they're way more fantasticer. Here they are with Coopworth Rolags from SuDan Farm in Oregon:

You can see the difference between the uncarded fleece and my rolags here:

After carding about 20 rolags, I realized this was going to spin up into a damn yooglay yarn (or at least a damn boring one), so I looked up in one of my spinning books how to make a tweed yarn and I am TOTALLY making this into a tweed. I'm thinking the tweed flecks will be a pretty steel blue to offset the blue/gray/brown of the fleece.

I've been working on this entry for 4 days...and I have just run out of steam. So with that, I leave you with a pretty spring bouquet:


Not *So* Okay...

Well kids, the biopsies came back and as it turns out, I in an advanced stage of Celiac Disease. Also called celiac sprue, it means that I can no longer eat any gluten whatsoever for the rest of my life. No more fried calimari at the Cheesecake Factory, no more birthday cake, no more bread, no more pasta, no more breakfast pastries... The list is truly endless.

The short of it is the Celiac Disease (CD) is a genetic autoimmune disease. I have always had it at some level, but it wasn't until my body was so extremely stressed after the death of my dad and grandad last summer that my immune system couldn't handle fighting the poison I was feeding myself (eating gluten triggers a toxic response) *and* keeping me generally healthy. So it stopped fighting the gluten and I got sick. Really sick. And it sucked.

Lucky for me, it is easier to live with celiac than ever before. It used to be that you would need to buy most of your grain-food through mail order. I went into Whole Foods on Friday and was wandering around looking at the entire grocery store like it was out to poison me and I asked a person there what in the world I could do. She pointed me to several hot-spots in the store for gluten-free food, but then said (I love this) that I should just call and make an appointment with the special diets grocery buyer and they'll take me through the whole store and show me what I can eat. How fucking cool is that?? I was amazed.

This weekend Jon and I headed out to E. And T.'s family cabin for some relaxation with another couple of our best friends, M. and B. The babies were in attendence (although the dogbaby stayed at daycare because it would be just too much to have him as well as the baby boys) and they were cute as can be. It made me want to kick up the baby knitting again. Jon was interested in caring for the little ones and learning what he could... It was very cute. He is goign to be an awesome dad.

Because we were away from civilization, I got a lot of knitting time. We also brought up the spinning wheel and lots of wool. I taught E. to Navajo ply (she's a spinning natural!) and M. loves to watch us go. At one point, I was spinning and B. remarked what a peaceful sound the wheel makes. I couldn't agree more; it's such an old, organic, soothing sound it never fails to relax me instantly. I 2-plied for the first time and made this:

Here's a closer look:

This is what the very first Corriedale that I ever dyed turned into. I am completely in love with it!

Meanwhile Rogue, she progresses:

And here's Huxley making biscuits. Off the knitting, cat!


I'm okay you're okay

The tests turned out okay. There is definitely stuff that I need to address, but the biopsies that were taken don't look like the C-word (although I'll know for sure tomorrow). I might even be able to grow up and just call it cancer. I really wasn't expecting to feel as sick as I did after the tests though. They sedate you into unconsciousness and as it turns out, that is tough to recover from. Who knew? Certainly not me, as the last time I was sedated I was 16 and having my wisdom teeth broken out of my head. It was a fun time. Really.

So I have spent the last two days recovering. And my little doglet kept me company being a good and sleepy 2-year old the entire time. I was really impressed. Animals just seem to know, you know? It's high time I show you a picture of Oslo (this is his favorite napping position):

God my dog is cute!

Rogue is coming along really well. I may very well be in love. I'm 2/3 of the way up the body (12 rows left before I split for the armholes). This may even be a sweater that I would knit again. I'm planning on finishing it this weekend when we are out at our friends' cabin on the Sound. E. and M. will be there (we're bringing the boys, all 5 of them, too) and we'll be cozy as little bugs in rugs. Hopefully we can take time to spin and knit and chat and I can snuggle with my two most favorite babies in the world, little N. and C.. We'll be leaving the dogbaby at home, though, because although he loves the beach, he is a bit of a terror when there's lots of wool around.


Lazy Sunday

Today is the best kind of day for waking up late and then sitting around knitting with a big cup of tea.... Tomorrow I have to do some pretty invasive and scary medical tests and I'm not allowed to eat after noon-thirty today. The worst part of it all is that I just don't know how they are going to turn out. They aren't looking fo rthe C-word, but there is always a remote chance that I could have malignant cell growth. Jon is staying with me for the next two days and even went out to the video store last night to get the craptacularist movies he could find (Elizabethtown and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants). Although to his credit he also picked up March of the Penguins and The Smartest Guys in the Room.
In knitting news, I am monogamously plugging away at Rogue. I decided to omit the pocket and just make it a pullover. The cashmerino seems to be a good choice (so far), but I'm only two balls in (14 to go), so we'll see. I think Rogue will be beautiful in some of my handspin and I may use the new charcoal gray Coopworth fleece that I got to make it in the future.

My only problem with Rogue is that it is knit in the round and I am used to knitting cables "in the flat", so I finish one row of the chart, knit the rest of the front, get to the other side where I am supposed to repeat that same chart row, but my brain skips to the next one. I can't even tell you how many times I have had to frog the damn thing and I am only 22 rows into the first chart. I may not have the attention span to make another one, eh? :)

So wish me luck tomorrow, if they do their jobs correctly I'll be so sedated that I won't remember it.


Wheelless (It's a word, I swear)

I have lent out my wheel to get my friend E. addicted to spinning post-haste. It is going well so far; she has spun almost an entire bobbin and I've left her with half a pound of Clun and an ounce each of Merino, Corriedale, Blue-faced Leicester and some hand-dyed Finn. I am an evil devil who is trying to lift ~$400 from her husband's wallet. I can't be stopped! Muwuhahaha.

All that to say I'm rather bored. Finals are this week and next week, so school is occupying a lot of my time. Work has been particularly trying lately (oh well) and I come home gritting my teeth most days. Thank god I have a wonderful husband who never seems to run out of hugs, kisses and back rubs. Yes, he's awesome and no, you can't have him; he's mine.

I finished a scarf in the My So-Called Scarf stitch pattern. It is rather awesome, if I do say so myself. Looky looky:

I can't find the label for the yarn right now, but my review of it is that it is pretty but scratchy and overpriced.

I have also cast on Rogue in Cashmerino color Grass. I need a challenging knit right now to take my mind off the suckage that is my job. I'm frustrated and when I get frustrated I get ambitious (that is how I roped myself into going to grad school...). I think Rogue is a perfectly appropriate choice. Experienced cables? No problem. Bring it ON, bitches!


Cheapskate Niddy Noddy

Hey y'all, I thought I would take a break from my busy day of school and pullng my eyelashes out one by one to bring you a cheap and easy-to-make-yourself niddy noddy alternative. I know that you are crafty, so this really shouldn't be any big revelation (but I still thought it complicated enough to take pictures of every single stop. Yay pendantry!).

K, so take an ordinary pants hanger from the dry cleaner:

I know, my couch cushions need some new fabric. It's a really pretty modern couch, just someone made an incorrect upholstery decision some years back. Those are ratty old saddle pad pieces that my cats use as a bed as well. I'm all about the class at my house.

Then disconnect the rod from it (this may take some tugging):

You should now have this (pendantry, you are my mistress):

Bend the edges up to make a holder area (if you have pliers, you can bend those hook-y ends in so that they don't catch, but it's pretty hard to do just with your bare hands and we're bare hands kind of folk here at Midnattgry Acres). You should also bend the hangy part in so that it's easier to wind the yarn/singles onto it (they catch otherwise and it becomes annoying *really* quick):

I've only got one end bent here so for to show zee steps better. Now they multiply!

And now we wind the skein! I prefer to steam my yarn instead of full-on wet blocking and these hanger niddy noddies are great for that because they seem to disperse heat very well.

And that is all for today. Tune in next time when I tediously teach people to do something else.