Where a window slams shut, but a portal to another world opens or how I learned to love spinning

Spinning has always been intriguing to me. But investing hundreds of dollars into equipment I might not be able to master is not very appealing. And so I have been yearning and dreaming but did not take any action.

Going to see the San Francisco Giants on Stitch and Pitch night was a dream of mine and about the only item on my bucket list. The only arrangement needed was a dog sitter because our Daisy was not allowed at the park. That’s when the window slammed shut when absolutely no friend was willing or able to take care of her. And Toby was out on a fire during that time. Daisy is absolutely one of the sweetest dogs we ever had, but that did not help.

Wallowing in pity and lamenting that my birthday sucks this year and how I could not even fulfill my one dream, I get a phone call. A 95 year old friend of mine needed some assistance over the next couple of weeks and could I help out a few hours a day. It flashed through my mind that this is the time of my birthday, a very big and important experience every year with big party and all, but I was in the middle of feeling sorry for myself and had not planned a party, remember, the failed attempt at a Giants baseball game, and I just said yes. Might as well do something useful.

My friend Meg and I had a great time together, talking wool, and yarn, and politics, and spinning, and weaving. Meg had been a spinner and weaver for a long, long time. My drop spindle I treated myself to for my birthday arrived and as I always have everything any human being could ever need around the house I of course had some fiber to spin. What fun it was. I invented the extra, extra, extra bulky yarn for which there were no knitting needles large enough.

But let’s get to the portal opening. Meg had a spinning wheel in her bedroom. I dared and asked if I could take it home for a week to give this a try. She not only said yes, but told me to keep it. Talking about generosity! If this isn’t the best experience of my life, and still is. I LOVE spinning! I can’t shout it enough: I LOVE spinning!


My Anthony Cardarelle spinning wheel number 325 from 1969. My portal to a new universe. Ok, the drawback is less knitting time, and I wish I was twenty and could start over and have a lifetime of spinning ahead of me, but hey, I take what I have and try to make the best.

Yesterday I remembered what I decided to make last holiday season for our daughter for this year’s holidays. Big sigh here because I’m so way behind in my holiday knitting that if I don’t take deep breaths now I might just go into anxiety attack mode. And wouldn’t you know that Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year! Thanksgiving? Does it get any crazier? That’s like what, 2 months away? There oughta be a law….

But back to gift for daughter. It’s the biggest challenge in my knitting life. I will attempt anything and feel competent, but I have this one mountain that I usually don’t climb. OK, there might be a couple of mountains. Though I have made fingerless gloves/mittens, I have never made gloves, but how hard can that be. Just keep on knitting, right? The real obstacle is multi color knitting, changing colors within a row, call it what you want, I call it difficult to impossible. But I will give it a try. Bought the yarn in a panic attack yesterday. Actually walked to our lys to pick it up. And wouldn’t you know, there was some gorgeous other yarn I just had to have, what else is new, and see here my loot.


The bottom yarn is 1200 yards of fingering weight Blue Ridge Yarns Transitions in the color River Rocks. See how easy it is to sidetrack me? I want to make stuff with this yarn, right now.

Above this yarn see the black and white stuff? Yes, that will make the deathflake mittens. You have to take a look so see how cool our daughter will be with these on. If you are not registered with ravelry and you knit, resistance will be futile. One can spend hours there looking through patterns that will last beyond anyone’s life expectancy. Way more fun than any other online site I have been to. Here is a challenge, find me a better site for a knitter!

Do you see those mittens? Did I mention that the pattern is free? First there is a scarf to finish in Zombie BBQ from Lorna’s laces. I have run into a little snag with the self patterning. The second skein does not behave as well as the first and I have to keep on cutting the yarn and starting at another spot to keep the pattern alive. But I’ll post a picture in the next few days after it’s finished.

In other news, especially health news, I’m going to a shoulder class this evening. Since the beginning of 2007 I deal with shoulder pain. Trying to show the twist on ice to our exchange students, the Yuba river had frozen that year, I fell and braced myself with my hands and arms. Not avoiding falling into the water and being soaking wet, but at least I did not hit my head. I can’t afford any further damage to this priceless appendage on my shoulders if I still want to attempt projects like deathflake mittens.

Well, something jammed in my shoulders and off and on I deal with the consequences of the twist now. But hey, I had some stellar dance moves before the humiliation.

What I have is impingement syndrome and calcification in the shoulder. I have to attend a class before orthopedics is willing to take over. I was OK for a few years but I fell again and since then the pain has not let up. Lately it’s keeping me from sleeping and enough is enough. Considering our monthly health care premiums are $1430, I can expect some care.


For days, thoughts of a one-year anniversary have been haunting me. Yes, it has been that long since my little and massive heart attacks and all that came after: the bypass surgery, the embolism, the 20-day hospital stay, recovery, and on and on and on.

Life has changed dramatically since then. My spiritual life has taken a turn for the worse, if that was even possible. I talk about it, I push it away, thoughts keep on creeping back, I can’t shake it. “It” is what I consider my short death. Probably everyone I know is sick and tired of me talking about It or about the ordeal itself. After all that happened, we have few friends left.

We used to host parties, at least dinner parties, almost every weekend. Since heart attack and bypass, I wasn’t able to put out that much energy anymore, but no one invited us in return. In the past year we had two dinner invitations, or only one? And I’m lucky if everyone actually shows up when I invite them. I’ve kind of given up for now.

Back to the “short death” part. After the massive heart attack and being ambulanced to the hospital in Sacramento and resting in ICU, I either continued with the heart attack or had another one. Never figured that one out. I remember saying that my heart is starting to hurt again and lots of commotion around me. My mind started sinking into depths I’d never experienced. There was a physical and mental distance to everything around me, and it grew and grew. The void between me and others and material life as well as spiritual life became so vast I didn’t want to make the effort to overcome it. I was content drifting farther and farther away without any regrets or misgivings. Until it all stopped, just nothingness I could only talk about afterward, since at the time there was no experience at all.

Apparently I mouthed to Stephen through a window that I loved him, because by now the family had been herded out of the room and I was surrounded by 10-plus medical responders. Stephen later told me one of them exclaimed there was no pulse anymore. There was talk about using the paddles, but no agreement on that. This is when a nurse did some resuscitation on my chest, and I came back without any knowledge of having been gone.

There seems to be an out-of-synch problem now. I feel my life never caught up with the few moments I missed. What happened in those moments must have been monumental for me. I’m afraid to admit it, but since then death has a whole new meaning for me. Of course I don’t really want to be tested to make sure it’s so. My death has a new meaning, not so sure about anyone else’s.

The fear of death has disappeared, and all that remains is the fear of pain. So many times I’ve said it would have been better if I’d died then. It would have been a very easy death. For me. One that I could have accepted. Whenever I die now, I’ll have to experience it all over again.

I didn’t experience any white light or god, or any inkling of other or bigger or anything for that matter, less than even sleep. There was a time during the hospital stay when I did experience a white light. With the pulmonary embolism. As soon as I was deprived of oxygen, my surroundings started fading from colorful to washed out, and it became brighter and brighter, to the point where I wished for sunglasses. Or at least for someone to turn those overhead lights off. I can only deduce that a lack of oxygen gives one the type of “I’m about to die and I see the light” kind of experience.

Take into consideration here that death is probably a very personal and different experience for each of us. Don’t draw any conclusions from what I’m saying. If I had a shred of faith left in me, it’s gone now. My belief is in nothingness. And there’s no fear associated with that. No regrets, no bucket list, no worry about the mess I leave behind, just OK, everything is OK.

Two myths, perhaps only personal ones, but myths: you can’t have a heart attack while exercising, I proved that wrong. And no matter what my grandmother said about wearing nice underwear, I didn’t care, because if they were clean when I put them on, they certainly were totally messed up when I arrived at the hospital. I had no control over any functions during the heart attack, it seemed that I was going to purge everything. Hugging a trash can, throwing up while sitting in a wheel chair instead of on a toilet. And this is the dirty truth.

There’s a barrier now between me and most of the rest of humanity. That part of humanity that doesn’t share my experience. Is this why support groups are so important? As a society or as individuals we don’t have what it takes anymore for empathy? Instead, we direct everyone to their own kind to deal with problems? Weren’t we able to support all who lived in our communities, no matter what their experience? Or is this a case of the way we never were?

I tend to have nostalgia for the olden days, sometimes I call them the Little House days. Everything was alright then, life made sense, people were connected to each other. I could write books on the changes from back then or perhaps speculate how it really was like to be a woman back then, or a child, or a man for that matter. Life was hard, and perhaps it is all a trade-off. No alienation, but instead overworking yourself. No time for alienation, because no time for socializing, because you had to work so hard.

If I seem like a whiner in this post, I’m not trying to nor do I feel like I’m whining. Just trying to get some thoughts out. I guess I could keep a diary, but then again, I’m a Gemini.

The night of my MIL’s birthday was the little heart attack; this anniversary is coming up in a few days. Then Toby’s birthday eve was the massive one. I sure know how to pick my dates, eh? Yes, I’m nervous and scared. Though a calendar year is arbitrary, it does have meaning in our lives, if for no other reason than to mark the seasons.

What if instead of a year being a year or a month being so many days, we would mark time differently? Mark it with events we don’t have in our consciousness right now. Imagine not noticing the changing seasons, there has to be something we’re unaware of that could be used to mark time. And no, it won’t be every time I finish a knitting project. That would get me in all kinds of trouble.

Back to the year though, perhaps we could rush ahead and make it, let’s say, November? I returned November 1 from the hospital, so let’s make it later in November, OK?

I will find myself in the same boat knitting-wise as I did last year, except this time around I have even more water to bail out. I had so many started or unfinished knitting projects and finished them all within a couple of months. This year it might just take me next year to finish them all. What the heck is wrong with me? Because I don’t see myself breaking this pattern. With gift-giving holidays coming up, I even have excuses for my bad behavior.

Seems I’m back on the knitting track and have left more morbid thoughts behind.

Go ahead, start another project on me!

P.S. I don’t want to be ungrateful. I thank all my friends who cooked for us after I came home from the hospital. At least twice a week for several weeks we didn’t have to give any thoughts to cooking. Thank you!

Yarnbombing – Gone Wrong

Imagine a woman wildly ripping off her pants and running around in underwear on a hiking trail while her husband is swinging said pants around in circles and against a tree. Got the picture? That would be me and Stephen right after I stepped on a wasps’ nest.

Why did I venture off the path? I had the crazy idea of knitting little korknisse. What is a korknisse you ask? Check them out here. Cute, right? So I had to make a bunch from little scraps of yarn. At the end of the day, exhausted just watching one more episode, this is about all my brain will wrap around.

What to do with them does pose a problem if you’re fresh out of little kids to entertain. So I planned a modest yarnbombing action on our hiking trail. First with some trepidation about defiling nature, but then the thought that I can take the korknisse down any time and them bringing a smile to some hiker got me convinced I should do it.

The first spot for the green korknisse was soon obvious.


The next spot suggested itself too. But it turned into the revenge of nature. I got off the path a little and stepped on a log. See here!


What a surprise! I know the feel of stinging nettle but never felt poison oak before so I thought this is what happened, I stepped on poison oak and it feels like stinging nettle. Yellow and black poison oak wriggling along my leg. Nope, those are bees or wasps or whatever and I started swatting them away with my hand and running. Stephen running after me, the dog in front or behind us.

Then the infamous scene of me ripping my pants off and the rest is history. 12 stings! 12! It hurt but not as bad as you would imagine. I’m not allergic to bees or wasps, but 12 stings might change that and we decided to head back to the car and home.

Took a shower, applied some sort of something from our first aid kit, and iced it together with our dog whose mouth by then had swollen. Yarnbombing is not for the weak or meek, nature had spoken.

You would think I had learned a lesson I could carry forward in life. Not so, that very evening we returned and I put up 2 more korknisse. Take that Nature!


On our way back to the car we ran into two friends who also hike this trail, they were shouting toward us: We love it!

This is how they discovered them. He: Yarnbombing. She: Marianna. He after looking at the cork and what bottle of wine it had come from: Stephen. The green embellishment is theirs.

I made three more korknisse that evening. If I spoke Norwegian, and I should speak it a little since we had a Norwegian exchange student for a year, Maiken, where are you when we could use your help, I would know the plural of korknisse or is korknisse the plural already? I love that word and wished I could incorporate it into my everyday speech more often.

This morning our whole village had the idea to be out hiking. The one opportunity that finally knocked also knocked down a woman along the path and with it wiped out our last chance of yarnbombing. Sundays, yarnbombing, not so much.

Why would anyone send me a message about yarnbombing, not for Marianna! Or am I imagining? Is it a center of the universe situation? Could you speak louder Nature? On second thought, pssst, don’t tell. One photo from the trail:


This is the old irrigation ditch from the mining past in our area. And one last picture of the view from the ditch toward our town, or should I call it village? What are the definitions? Since we have a lys we might just qualify as town.



Zombie BBQ and a Whole New World

I have turned into the dog who won’t let go of the bone. To be honest though, there is still so much meat left on it, even for a vegetarian.

It’s way beyond which scarf I will knit. The people on Knitting Paradise have spoken here: http://www.knittingparadise.com/t-199172-1.html and I accede to their opinion. In the meantime I have some sample knitting going on.

First question posed: is this a fluke? I started another scarf with a slightly different pattern. Needles used so far: US4. Cast on for the second sample in the irish hiking scarf pattern was 54. The original pattern asked for 42 with 3 cable repeats. Since I’m using sportmate from Lorna’s Laces I needed more width and opted for an extra cable pattern repeat.

Either I’m jinxed or it’s the yarn working its mojo. Take a look at what I got. Top is the first try with 52 stitches in the palindrome pattern. Bottom the second sample as described above.

top: palindrome, US4, 52 stitches bottom: irish hiking scarf, US4, 54 stitches
top: palindrome, US4, 52 stitches
bottom: irish hiking scarf, US4, 54 stitches

Last night I started at the other end of a skein with 52 stitches and worked in the palindrome pattern again. The changing variable this time was consciously casting on at a different spot in the color repeat. Take a look at the color repeat first:

Zombie BBQ Color Scheme
Zombie BBQ Color Scheme

And here is last night’s result.

Palindrome, US4, 52 stitches
Palindrome, US4, 52 stitches

You see that the X or argyle or whatever you want to call it is really stretched out here. So much so that I had to give up knitting last night or forgo sleep. Use your imagination.

Now take a look from where I cast on and compare the three scarf starts. I do long tail cast-ons and so it is not clear exactly where I started, but it will be once I frog and I ‘ll let you know then. For now, you have to settle for this photo:

Cast-ons from l to r: last try, second try, and original.
Cast-ons from l to r: last try, second try, and original.

Casting on the first two times shows a similar starting point. It’s slightly off. The pattern is 2 stitches wider and the knitting pattern is also slightly different. But I think there is a huge change in the pooling. One X is much bigger than the other. With the most recent try the X is really elongated. I attribute that to the color start change.

Sure wish I would have paid more attention to math in school or whatever skill it takes to work this out without having to actually knit it all. I’m especially interested to see how this all knits up without a pattern but straight knit.

This morning I decided to do some research and a whole new world opened up. I’m a baby in this yarn pool. Immediately joined the Pooled Knits group on Ravelry. And to show how behind the times I really am, check out Lorna’s Laces blog from 2011. Here you see someone’s scarf with a 54 stitch cast on without a pattern. And then check out all she has done by looking at her projects. It’s humbling.

I’m not done researching and learning yet. At the moment I’m at a stage of overwhelm.

I’ll leave for now with a last photo of all 3 tries.

from first to third try from top to bottom
from first to third try from top to bottom

Yarn Pooling and Other Pools

The saying that getting old is not for sissies seems more true every day I age. OK, right now I have no problems and I’m not complaining. I spent last week with my in-laws in the Bay Area. Both had serious falls with debilitating consequences and needed help. I imagine if that would have happened to them at a younger age they would have walked away from it or been fine within days, but this is taking a toll on their quality of life.

I had along the spinning wheel, a basket of wool, and a basket of yarn and projects. Did I need it? Nooooooo, it serves as a security blanket only. Without, I would have yearned for all the knitting I could have gotten done, ha. I did spin every day, but knitting was more of a problem. On the drive down I made a dishcloth in the car. Once there I only managed to knit on a sock, disliking the pattern and frogging the whole thing. Started anew with another pattern but this is on hold too. A facecloth is almost done in a nice organic cotton yarn. Will I learn from that? Again, nooooooo, because how can I anticipate knitting conditions or moods. I might pack lighter with clothing. All I needed was underwear, a pair of pants and a couple of t-shirts. Not 4 pair of pants and t-shirts for the whole summer. They do have a washing machine after all.

Swimming was my treat in the evenings. The pool is open until 10 pm and I used the last hour to indulge myself, alone. A whole pool and hot tub just for me. I’m glad we saw the bobcat wandering around on our last day there or I would have been more nervous walking to the pool and being there by myself. But what is a bobcat going to do to me, right? Whatever happened to my youthful invincibility? Did it all get used up?

But I have a much bigger problem now that I’m back home and into my knitting rhythm. While gone, two of my yarn orders arrived. One is a skein of Wollmeise Pure from a Ravelry user, the other 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Sportmate in the color Zombie BBQ. The latter is for Liana and because she really does not need anything and I got the last 2 skeins, I’m making a scarf. But let me introduce the color first:


The photo does not do the colors justice. I have never loved colors that much and a name so matching.

Then the yarn decided to gift me. A gift I would have embraced with any other yarn but Zombie BBQ. Can you say Christmas, traditional. Let me show you my dilemma.


This is so not me, or my daughter, at least I don’t think it’s her. It might be a case of me trying to be cool and hip and again ending up being the dork with the Christmas scarf. The obvious choice would be to frog and start over. But that’s like throwing a gift away, how can I do that? I have posted on a knitting site for opinions and so far every single reply came in as keep it.

There is another way to look at this. Skull and XXXs, can you see it? Especially the zigzaggy thing happening in the X.

I’m OCD about the whole affair now and can’t just move on to another project. I have looked at other yarns by the same manufacturer in the same color. Am I crazy? While looking I found colors I might like even more. But, for now I’m stuck. The obvious did occur to me and I have a call out to Liana to see what she thinks since it is for her. Duh!