12 November 2006

The Importance of Exercise

Hi guys. Sorry I pulled the disappearing act. Nothing has gone terribly wrong; it was just a particularly busy and stressful time for a while there. The diss chapter is at a critical stage and making me completely crazy. I think this is part of “progress,” but it’s still sometimes hard to tell the difference between “progress” and “pointless hell” just at this particular juncture.

In addition, I’ve been having these mysterious aches and pains for a few months, which suddenly started to get worse, so I had to go through a round of tests and doctors and worry. I thought from the beginning that it was some kind of pulled muscle or pinched nerve, probably getting continually aggravated by sitting in front of computers day in and day out in uncomfortable chairs, and that’s what, after a lot of scary tests, it seems to be. Or at any rate, every diagnosis that’s really scary has been eliminated, thank goodness, so the doctors have now decided to let me go away and suffer with no further intervention on their part. I’m told, though, by people that know, that the whole vast array of psychosomatic illnesses that accompany dissertation-writing will disappear as if by magic on the day I defend the thing. I’m very much looking forward to that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to get more exercise and rotate amongst my various uncomfortable chairs when I work.

I’ve also been on an interesting emotional journey relating to our recent national elections. This isn’t the place for detail, and others have blogged so articulately on exactly the things I’ve been feeling, but the curious may enjoying following this link to a glimpse into the tiny, crazy world I come from, and how it’s – maybe – finally – changing.

So I had all this time where I felt awful physically, was very worried, was completely paralyzed about my chapter (all of this is pretty much over now, by the way)…I just felt incapable of doing anything active, like blogging, or writing, or thinking, and for much of the time wasn’t even up to reading other people’s blogs, or listening to podcasts or knitting anything remotely challenging. I started re-reading Harry Potter for approximately the 7th time. I puttered, and I lived through another 3-day migraine marathon. And, of course, I found a way to treat myself with some yarn therapy, which played a big part in making me feel better.

I organized my stash. I pulled it ALL out of its closet, spread it all over the living room, wallowed in all its loveliness, rediscovered forgotten treasures, and put it away again in much better order than it had been. I also sorted out two big shopping bags full of yarn to give away to Goodwill. Everything that had more than 20% acrylic in it, everything I know I’ll never knit with, is going to be gone. I’ve divided what remains into lace yarns, sock yarns, felting yarns, potential sweater yarns (which was a surprisingly small pile – I have really been making a dent!), and a separate pile of miscellaneous one-skein treasures.

Then I made a sock. I’m just about to graft the toe of the first one. I’m using one of the gorgeous sock yarns I got from Cookie’s contest - it somehow reminds me of peacock feathers. The colors are mostly dark blue, chocolate brown, and olive, but there’s also a bright peacock blue that never fails to delight me every time it turns up. I had to manipulate these photos a lot to get them even close because I took them at night with a flash, but Cookie’s original picture of the yarn is very accurate.

I’m making these top-down, using the Harlot’s recipe. It’s the first time I’ve ever used US #0 needles, and I’m really enjoying it (though you might want to ask me again when I’m on the second sock). It’s perfect for the state of mind I’m in – lots of mindless knitting with very impressive results, and just enough excitement to keeping my mind on the knitting instead of my worries. I was going to just make the Widdershins pattern, adjusting the size up for Hubbster, but then I actually read the designer’s instructions for sizing up. I thought I knew as much math as I would ever need for knitting. But no. Everything she writes there relating to her heel sizing formula is total Greek to me. Luckily, one of my heroes has graciously agreed to write up how he did it, which will be extremely helpful since I want the same number of stitches he had. While I was contemplating all this and waiting to hear the details of how David did it, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have even the faintest clue how the regular, top-down heel flap sock is made. I’ve never done it before – the closest I’ve ever come was fuzzy feet, and that was a very long time ago, before I’d ever made any other kind of sock, so I don’t remember a thing. The Harlot’s recipe is (of course) fantastic, and I’ve had a lot of fun watching how this works. I know most people are much more familiar and at ease with the heel-flap sock, but compared to the Gibson-Roberts short-row method, which I learned first, it seems so much less intuitive that what you’re doing will actually make a foot shape, right up until the very end. I had a lot of fun with that. And I made an eye of partridge flap, which was also highly entertaining, as I’d never done that stitch pattern before. I love the way the yarn striped – it never really pooled, but formed subtle stripes in slightly different formations on each part of the sock. I did the leg and top of the foot in a modified rib copied from Thuja. Both Hubbster and I love the look of it – very masculine, somehow – and I love that it’s much faster than regular ribbing. Every other row is plain stockinette, and even the rows with purls don’t have that many of them.

There are a million things I wanted to reply to (and that’s not counting the now huge catch-up list of unread posts I have waiting for me in bloglines) and stuff to add to the sidebar, etc, but one thing at a time.


Wendy Dorrel said...

Holy moly you have a lot of yarn! I barely fill a basket full. It's good to hear from you. I hope you continue to feel better and better. :)

Beth said...

Glad you're back. Have you tried deep muscle massage therapy? I used to get it when my knees were hurting and it works. Hurts like hell when you're getting it - but in a good way. The results are great. Of course $60-90 may be out of the price range of the starving students.
Go Diss Go!

Marianne said...

That's a healthy yarn stash, indeed! I'm glad you're back and I hope you continue to feel better, pesky migraines, just added insult to injury.
That's a great looking sock! Colours are beautiful, I'm working on a sock, I've frogged it back (not too far) playing around with pattern, decided to do just plain stockinette but....I'm thinking of frogging back and knitting the Thuja pattern, it's really nice, plus, it won't be so bad, just a couple hours invested in sock so far (not counting do-overs). There's a Knit Blue KAL, button over on my blog. Hope to see you there.

Laura said...

hey kate... i'm sorry you've been feeling badly, and stressed, etc. i know how wearing that can be. seriously, it's times like these that i think, thank god i know how to knit.

i have been a little harried myself of late...thus your music mixes are still in mind rather than on discs. i am hoping to have several quiet evenings in a row in which to complete them! :)

Kirsten said...

It's good to have you back. I hope you're feeling better soon. It looks like sorting your yarn was a great bit of therapy!

The sock is looking wonderful. I love eye of partridge heels on variegated yarn. There is always a surprise as the colors emerge.

spider said...

Hi Kate,
So sorry to hear about your pain, especially the three-day migraine. From one migraine sufferer to the other: "I know!".

I've never written nor defended a diss but my husband, Chris, has. I generally say it's "our" degree. On that count too, I can at least somewhat say, "I know", having lived through all the trials and tribulations.

Lovely socks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your stress and aches. Hopefully finishing your dissertation will help. However, keep in mind that stress can trigger fibromyalgia. I happened to me.

Love the socks! I think I'll do that pattern on my next pair. I like the idea of a bit of ribbing from mostly knit stitches.

Specs said...

Go, Kate, go! I hope you're feeling better soon.

Judy said...

Take care of yourself! You want to be in good enough shape to celebrate when you're finished.

I celebrated by coming down with the flu the day after I defended.

Carrie said...

OMG OMG OMG! Where do you live that you have enough room for so much stash yarn? I only have enough space for three under-the-bed-sweater-sized boxes, which are conveniently stored under the IKEA kitchen worktable (cabinet really), which is actually located in the living room...etc... Anyway.

Your dissertation pains give me hope that maybe my pains, which I fondly call my "Phantom Pains" as they seem to have no physical cause, are in reality caused by my master's thesis stress. (Then again, maybe consulting a doctor isn't such a bad idea either...)

Glad to hear you are "better". :)

Kat with a K said...

Glad you're feeling better, and the stash organization looks exciting!

cookie said...

Oh yay, you're knitting the yarn! I'm glad someone's having fun with it. It would have stayed in my stash for years.

Sorry to hear about your physical ailments and hope you feel better. Yarn therapy can work some wonders.