Wednesday, February 28, 2007

40,000 mile checkup

Yesterday I had the 40,000 mile physical with my Primary Care Physician. It's actually the first time I've had a real appointment with her in years, since most often I'm seeing either the endocrinologist for the diabetes care, an urgent care doctor for infection/accident, or one of the nurse practitioners for check-in and vaccines. No signs of complications so far, still need to see the results of the EKG (last one was 12 years ago as a baseline in the first year of diagnosis). The mammogram has been scheduled (first appointments mid-May?).

We had a nice chat about the CGMS, which she hadn't seen. It's five months today since I first started on it. I had thought the big deal would be it going bing at my if I go out of range, but I find what has been a bigger change is my sense of what is a high BG that needs to be addressed. I'm going from photo snapshots (fingersticks) every few hours to constant video (trend shows right on the pump) if that 's a good analogy. Yes, the number is a 120 mg/dl, is that rising, falling, been there for hours?

Imaging managing a checking account for more than just yourself. You can have a general sense of income and outflow, and you have a general sense of patterns of use by each account member (this one spends $150 every Tuesday, that one spends $10 each day, and there are irregular purchases and likewise on the income side) and keep a reasonable balance going, but making sure there isn't too much in there (that should be invested instead) nor too little (no checks bouncing!). Imaging doing this with a balance report once a week and no notice of what's been cashed or even checks outstanding other than what the users might report, versus on-line banking with hourly updates of transactions. Big difference.

Queer Joe had a post recently about their vacation trip with horrible delays on the tarmac and the plane running out of food. He mentioned an "alleged diabetic" raising a fuss about there being no food by the time they got to her. He thinks she was lying, and maybe someone was pulling the D-card to try to get better treatment. On the other hand, it reminds me how different I am from the normals and how compelled I feel to make sure all bases are covered in order to feel basic safety. I'm not sure how I would have handled that situation, even if I had tried my best to be prepared. I hate being reminded how fragile my nicely BG-controlled world really is.

I haven't been reading much which I now recognize is a symptom when I need to get my prescription changed (new glasses are on the way). Cheating Destiny by James Hirsch is a good book that got my attention. I'm still working my way through it, but he's got the credentials and skills to write this and he did it well. He's a writer already (many diabetes authors aren't), he's Type I, his brother is Type I and his son is Type I and his description of the diabetic culture and mindset (at least from a Type I perspective) pretty much matches my own experience. He addresses the (lack of) effective care for Type II's who are the majority of the population, gets into the history of treatment, philosophies of "control" and the treatment vs. cure controversy (I'm not sure we'll ever see cure because there is just so much money in treatment, but we are seeing much better treatment in recent years). There are parts that are too emotionally close to deal with at first reading, so I've skipped the description of helping someone do a lab blood draw on his three year old the night of the kid's diagnosis (but I've been there seeing the number too high for the home meter to read and just knowing what has come) and his mindset before his own car crash from a low (Mom did that one, good thing it was a low speed crash only into a tree). Good book if you're interested in the topic.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

10 months to Christmas and a week until I teach again

Leaving the first part of that alone for now, next Saturday afternoon I'm teaching Entrelac at Mind's Eye Yarns (scroll down to the Workshops section). I normally teach once a year at the Granite State Knit-In in June up at Loon Mountain, where I get an hour to teach the topic. I've been doing Entrelac as a class there for enough years that I'm pretty comfortable with it. We can do it in an hour because everyone comes prepared with homework (base triangle instructions sent out in advance) and I can get started on the rectangles right off.

For the class at Mind's Eye I have two hours to cover the same subject, so I need to look at pacing and what to bring pre-prepared. That's the work for this evening. Teaching is very nervous-making, but then again, if you know your subject and are willing to speak to people (this is not the time to be shy), that's three-quarters of the battle. Having enough imagination to see why other people might have a question about something you take for granted is another eighth.

I'm preparing a new class for this year's Knit-In, Deciphering Yarn Substitution. I plan to cover how to figure out what the yarn called for in the pattern is like, to therefore make and educated guess for what else might work. This from the person who did get 9 stitches to the inch gauge on her first sock, but didn't realize she had bought heavy worsted -- stuffed with fiberfill it made a nice neck pillow for a few years. My thoughts for this class include making a lot of swatches, blocking them, and tagging them with their labels as reference materials.

I think I might have eyes bigger than my hands. I'd best get cracking on those swatches.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Can't get back here-ah from there-ah

If we only had a transit system that didn't shut down at shortly after midnight. The problem is, once we get everyone on that bus back to the Boston area, how do they get home afterwards? We would need to leave NYC when to get back to the pickup point, for those with connections to not get caught at Park? The transit system shuts down, a number of us don't have cars, and the T parking lots don't allow overnight parking.

We have a bus driver among us, that's not the issue. And, no, I'm not getting on any bus that tips over, has its wheel about fall off, catches fire, or otherwise shuts down the Pike on a frequent basis.

It's looking like Lucy and I will head for option B, bringing the Yarn Harlot to the neighborhood. Can we get how many hundred people to show up for her here?

Monday, February 19, 2007

More than a hundred rows today

Himself and I had had plans to get some exercise today, but wind chills above and below zero F put the kabash on that.

The Regia 4-ply sweater has been moving along. I'm about to come to the end of the second skein on the body, and I'm guessing it will take 3 or a little more to get up to the underarms. At some point soon I'll need to start the sleeves. Sometime soon I'll need to check that the gauge is holding since the needle change.

The commuter sock for the Afghans for Afghans socks for students collection got finished (well it needs finishing) and the next one has been cast on. The in California deadline is early March, so I'll need the blessings of the commuting fairies to get a second pair done. They can start by having trains go down the tracks by at regular intervals in the morning so the cars aren't crammed full by the second stop.

In the meantime, by the time this picture was taken late in the afternoon, I managed to advance the Wavy scarf by 100 rows today, from the point of the little green marker, and I've done 20 rows since. I doubt I'll make the full length per the pattern of 440 rows, but the first skein only ran out the middle of 214, so I should come close. It's fun watching the texture undulate back and forth.

So, is anyone interested in carpooling from Boston/Cambridge to NYC for the Yarn Harlot on Thursday, March 22nd? The problem would be getting back before the T closes, so if a group went, they would need a way to each get home from a central pickup point. We've already have someone taking vacation that week at work, so it's a tough call if I would be able to go, and I probably won't get the Friday off as well, so I'd really need to be back that night. Would we be able to catch a 9 p.m. shuttle out of LaGuardia? It's currently only $50.....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Meg's making videos again!

Schoolhouse Press has a long tradition of publishing the Woolgathering twice a year. In it is news/essay, a project and plugs for things they've found that they like on the back. At some point they started filming the project design/production progress and offer a VHS video for those who want to order it. Simply done, good production values (they know you want to see the hands with the knitting technique being demonstrated, not necessarily the face of the person talking about the technique). Elizabeth started it and Meg picked it up when she started writing the Woolgatherings.

Meg's late husband was the videographer ("Camera Guy" as he was known, who would occasionally be the voice off-camera reminder her to say something, or checking math) and I haven't seen any new videos made since he passed very suddenly.

Schoolhouse Press is in the process of reissuing the videos on DVDs. Back when I first got to know of them, I didn't have the spare income to collect the VHS videos. I have a few, but not many. I thought I was ordering one of the ones I don't have, remastered, when I got the Baby Surprise Jacket DVD with my order of size ones. Instead, it's new! Meg is recording again!

It's a nice video. I've made several BSJs, but reading EZ's instructions is always a matter of her holding certain things to be self-evident and the knitter needing to figure out what is implicit in the instructions. Modern patternwriting includes much more specific hand-holding. Meg reads the instructions as she goes through the project, demonstrates each skill needed as it comes, then comments on what's going on. It's the comments that really brings understanding to make clear what the instructions say, like increasing 10 stitches evenly over the center back stitches, well, how many should there be at that point (56)? I'm always distrusting my math when I do BSJs, but to see Meg do it with you is a welcome confirmation. And Meg has just such wonderful diction, there is no needing to figure out what word she is using. Printed instructions for the BSJ and a bonnet to go with it are included, along with a cheat sheet of what knitted garments Meg is wearing.

There's a tie-in with the Opinionated Knitter Book released in the last couple years. I haven't checked what projects are in there versus the videos already extant, but I'm hoping she will continue the series if there aren't already videos for the projects.

For those interested in the Baby Surprise Jacket, it's an enjoyable $18 spent.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Undulating rows of K3P3

As of this morning, 146 rows are finished and the pattern is coming out nicely. This is a satisfying knit, 1. the pattern itself is K3, P3, started at varying points in that pattern in order to make the pattern shift, 2. rows are only 42 stitches across, so it's easy to perceive oneself making progress, and 3. when I made this last time, I printed out row by row instructions, (as opposed to constant look back as the original is written - i.e., rows this to that, repeat rows way back there), so every 84 stitches I get to make a satisfying cross-off of a row. Somehow I need that.

In my judgment, this pattern could be done by a beginner, it's just ribbing, and it will teach them keeping track of where you are in the pattern.

The size ones have arrived from Schoolhouse Press and at some point I'll get the Regia 4-ply on them.

Boston/Cambridge is finally getting snow. I've already heard the plows out this morning though at the moment it sounds like icy rain on the window. It will be interesting how many folks are at Mind's Eye's Wednesday night group tonight between Valentine's Day and the storm. Snow doesn't bother me much, but the high winds are supposed to be moving in later today. We'll see. New England meteorologists have this reputation for predicting more than what shows up.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stop me before I shawl again

I'm still waiting for the size 1s to show up, so I've been thinking about a not-long term, interesting project to work on in the meantime. Interesting is winning out over not-long term.

And I realized I was heading towards another shawl. I don't want to make another shawl now, especially when I have a succession of light-weight sweaters I want to make, sweaters I have daily use for, well, as soon as it warms up a bit. Making a shawl is like getting a cute puppy. It starts out so novel and interesting, and next thing you know you've got a big thing that requires commitment (hundreds of stitches rows, anyone?) and caring. I have uses for shawls, but not as daily wear.

Not that I don't have plenty of laceweight in the stash, and further ideas about combining colors of Zephyr, like the daffodil and ice blue Butterfly Garden shawl last summer that came out that nice light green effect. But it's not for now.

So, Wavy from Knitty seems just the thing. The pattern over each row is simple, there's only 42 stitches in a row, it takes 2 skeins of Cascade 220 (thanks, Lucy!), but yet, there's things to keep track of and be a real focus project. I've had too much mindless stockinette in the round lately. There are times it's satisfying to have rows to cross off as accomplished, not just "work even until length." This will be a nice snack of attention.

In other news, the blue kit bag that's been missing since late last week has been found. Don't know why I tucked it away in the shopping bag holding the eyelash yarn, but I did.

I wonder if other city's papers send a reporter to cover the equipment truck leaving for Spring Training? It's February. It gives us the opportunity to reaffirm the circle of life and the MLB season.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hubris, or I can't count at 7:50 a.m.

I was working away on the current commuting charity sock last night, the series that purports to appease the commuting fairies to make the subway run better and have seats available, when something told me to check the number of stitches in that heel flap. So I counted and had 26 where there should be 28. Okay, there have been a couple instances where I pull the sock out of the briefcase and one of the zeros stays behind, I might have switched a few stitches in putting them back on, somehow. Count the other needle, it also has 26 stitches, total of 52 stitches, rather than the 56 stitches the first sock of this pair has. I could deal with making a 52 stitch sock, after all, this is destined for schoolchildren in Afghanistan who come in a variety of sizes, however, I'm pretty sure they don't standardly come with a half-inch differential between one leg/foot circumference and the other.

Casting on 56 stitches in K1P1 rib on springy 16" size 0 circulars is not something you want to be doing in a rush hour Red Line car, even if the fairies do grant you a seat. Therefore, I try to make sure that the sock is already cast on before I leave the house, even if it's ever so barely before I leave the house. Clearly I need to back that off to a time when I'm not pushed to get the task done and can trust my count. On the other hand, since I'm dead in the water on the Regia 4ply sweater while waiting for the replacement size 1s (2.25 mm please, not 2.5mm) to show up, I now have still another choice in the pile of half-done projects to pick from.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

This time with pictures

Another post in a rush when I really, really should be getting ready for work. In any case, the spumoni hat got a friend last night with the orange one I worked on at knitting group. Finished just at the end of the evening (well, no ends sewn in, you were expecting finished?) some new people across the room thought it was inspired to put just a hint of cream at the very top. Um, no, it's called going a tad to far on the length of the hat and running out at the very top decreases.

Have to see how many more of these I want to do. It sounds like there are plenty already being contributed. One can but hope that if a cancer center finds themselves with a surplus, they have a distribution system to share with other centers that may have needs.

The eyelash (fun fur) is different to work with, but I'm not sure I'd want to do it all the time. I've worked with it in doing the hedgehogs, but there the eyelash is worked with a strand of regular wool, so if a stitch doesn't happen, there's backup. Working eyelash by itself is a bit more care-consuming when you're used to just motoring along in stockinette.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

In the meantime

Since the Regia 4-ply sweater is on hold while I wait for (they're checking) 2.25 mm Inox Express needles to show up from Schoolhouse Press, I realized I'd better get going on the No Hair Day Hats for Children's Hospital supposed to be done by the end of February.

So far I've got a spumoni version (brown, hot pink, cream, and brown again at the top), I started an all orange one last night. I've never worked with the Fun Fur before and it's a change. With the eyelash yarn you really need to watch that you've actually worked each stitch. It's impossible to read this knitting.

Pictures when there's light to take them. Commuting fairies are being somewhat nicer. The second sock of the pair is just getting down the leg.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Frustration at lack of agreement

The Regia 4-ply sweater was coming along, until I took it to an Iolanthe sing at friends' of ours today. Mid-way through act one the peers come on in marching procession, and since we'd all been sitting awhile there was a general call to all stand up and march around their living room while the piano had a good long intro. I'd had my knitting out before we got started, picked it up in a hurry to move it out of the way of the march and felt the size 1 bamboo circular snap under my fingers. Sigh.

Got back home to the collection and found there is disagreement between manufacturers as to what size a US 1 is -- 2.25 or 2.5. Guess which one I have plenty of.

Further research on the shopping sites shows that the brand I like in a metal needle, the Addi Turbos are of the 2.5 mm category. Eh. Given how loose the fabric looked when I did the gauge on a 2.75 mm size 2 and then how it improved with the 2.25 mm size 1, I'm sticking with the 2.25 mm.

So who makes 2.25 mm size 1s? Crystal Palace, which, much as I ordinarily love their bamboos, I'm not going to be naive enough again to shell out another $12.90 for something going in about-town knitting and just as likely to snap under the abuse I give things. It's just the nature of the beast that bamboo is not as tough as metal, nice as it otherwise is to work with, and at small diameters it's just much more likely to snap,much like how fine china risks damage in a dishwasher. (Note bene, Himself asked if wouldn't they be under warranty and I said it's like if you run your brand-new car into a stone wall and break the headlamp, that headlamp ain't under warranty anymore.)

Inox I have a checkered history with. I like the Inox Express with the shiny silvery needles and the black cord well enough, though I've had cord/join issues with them, which is why I prefer the Addi Turbos. Inox Standards with the gray aluminum I won't buy again. Their tips wear out too fast and I wind up with grainy aluminum catching on the stitches where I've worn the tips down into flats on one side. Worst time was when I got some on my way out of town in a hurry up to Cape Breton in 2004. We left on a Friday, I had a lot of passenger time across Nova Scotia and then touring the island to work socks. By Thursday I needed to replace them.

So I'm waiting for a reply from the merchant to confirm the size of the Inox Express. I have a sweater length Inox Standard size 1 in the needle stash and the sweater has been moved onto it for security, but I think I'll be focusing on other projects until I can get a real replacement.

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