Monday, October 31, 2011

Knitters Rock and a pirate sheep

I forgot to say that after I'd had that little Incident at the Quick Trip, I went on to the CVS pharmacy. I was waiting on my son's medicine to be prepared so I wandered through the store for a while. As all knitters probably do, I ended up in front of the magazine stand, where there were a few knitting magazines. Not having a lot of energy and being emotionally drained, I sat my butt right on the carpet and began flipping through Vogue Knitting.

A lady walked up behind me in the skinny aisle. I didn't even look up from my magazine, just said "Please let me know if I'm in your way and I'll move my butt off the floor." I heard, "Is that Christine?" I looked up and it was one of our guild members. She gave me a hug, said, "I'm praying for your son and hope he feels better and that you do too." Then she walked away after I tried to say thanks through my tears.

A day that was all kinds of crazy stressful, or as my daughter would say "a hot mess of ugly", suddenly turned into a calm afternoon and I felt loved and hugged. ALL BECAUSE OF A KNITTER. Knitters rock. We do. We find people that are cold and knit things to make them warm. We hug. I love that about us.

I think my new sign I should wear should just say "knitter" and that would explain it all. It means I'm quite crazy and probably have a house full of wool but I'd do just about anything for a friend or for someone in need. I rock. We all need those signs!!

OH and let me know what you think of the pic below as a logo? I'm trying out the pirate sheep idea with the whole TreasureGoddess name.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When you hear TreasureGoddess you think calm, rational yarn loving woman, right?

It's story time again. It's been a while, right? Well, as they say, Crazy always Outs. Ok, it may be the Voices that say that, I'm pretty sure I've heard it said on the Outside of my head too.

Let me preface this story with a link. Brave Girls Club, Signs Story Go on, click and read. It's a lovely story. I had this story in my mind at the time of The Diet Coke Incident. In summary, it's the idea that everyone's got something going on that they're dealing with. If we wore signs around our necks maybe everyone would be more kind to each other. My sign would say "my little boy is sick and the doctors can't seem to make him better." I would smile as others saw my sign and gave me smiles of encouragement and I walk calmly through this life. Ok, that's absolutely imaginary as I don't think I've ever walked calmly through life and if I did it would probably alter the general consciousness and I'd cause a black hole to suck us right on out to where ever you get sucked to when you enter a black hole...

OK back to the story. We're all happy feely now, right? Wearing our signs? Being patient with one another? Good.

The Diet Coke Incident...
My kiddo has CF (cystic fibrosis), which is a lung & digestive disease. He's almost 12 yrs old and has been pretty healthy for the last couple of years. Joe's digestive tract just decided to stop working about 2 months ago. We'd been in and out of Children's Mercy clinics, Emergency Room, even admitted for a weekend and then sent home, each time the telling us he's just fine and then the damn thing would start over. In a nutshell, he's been in pain and barfing for 2 months. He was pretty small to begin with but he'd reached a critical level. I'd not slept the night through for almost 2 months, he'd be up dry heaving or barfing from 2-4:30am every stinking night. The poor kid.

This put me in full zombie mode. The GI team FINALLY figured out what was causing this (but not how to fix it) and we were just waiting for a room to open up at Children's Mercy hospital. It was a Wednesday around 11am. I was on my way to the CVS pharmacy to pick up yet more meds and pulled into the Quick Trip in my neighborhood for a diet coke. I was thinking about the story of what my sign would say and how I should really try to go out of my way to be kind to others as no one really knows what's going on with another person's life.

I was pouring myself a diet coke in the Quick Trip and somehow the 32 oz cup just slipped out of my hand and dropped to the ground causing a HUGE splash of diet coke everywhere. I stood there just watching it for a moment until it registered in my mind. I think I actually said "wow." (It was a really big splash) I hear laughter and a snarky voice saying "This must be one of those Johnson County alcoholic moms we're always hearing about." I turned around, saw these two cutsie 20-yr olds laughing away snarkily. I Snapped, with a capital S. I turned and got RIGHT-IN-HER-FACE with my finger poking RIGHT at the tip of her nose and yelled "HEY! YEAH, I DROPPED THE FUXXING CUP OF FUXXING DIET COKE. YOU KNOW WHY? MY LITTLE KID IF FUXXING SICK AND THE FUXXING DOCTORS CAN'T MAKE HIM FUXXING BETTER! WHAT'S SO FUXXING FUNNY ABOUT THAT?" There was a lot more, but it's honestly a blur of f-bombs yelled at the top of my lungs (and I'm really REALLY loud when I mean to be) and severe finger poking. I'm pretty sure she about burst into tears and I do remember feeling really good about that. Then I calmly walked over, pulled another 32 oz styrofoam cup off the wall and filled myself another diet coke. There was COMPLETE SILENCE in that shop. There were a TON of people, which all quietly moved away, much like the Biblical parting of the seas, when I walked to the counter to pay.

I walked calmly to my car and looked at myself in the mirror. I have to admit, if I'd not known my own story I may have thought I was an alcoholic gutter dweller. The bags under my eyes, crazy freaked out hair, mascara that had run down into the cracks and crags of my face did not present a normal Johnson County mother-type figure. I also realized that the standard "come back soon" wasn't spoken to me when I left the shop either. ha! I also realized I'd not thought about her sign, that she might've been having a hard time in life, but also decided I really didn't give a flying fuxx. Ah well. I'm not exceedingly patient on little sleep and excessive stress.

Joe's been in the hospital almost 2 weeks now. They seem to have got his system working again, but it's very slow. He's been on a feeding tube (which sucks) but it's built his strength and weight back up to levels before this stuff started. My son's feeling better and has started a new business while stuck in his bed. He's beginning "Joe Co." (his name is Joe) and is creating really cute animal magnets and pins. My dear knitting friends WHO ROCK decided his little business venture needed investors and started him off with a significant gift card to Michael's craft shop for supplies. I'll be sharing photos of his critters soon. They're pretty darn adorable. Sheep, octopi (? octopusses) ladybugs, pandas, frogs and dogs. YAY! SHEEP! YAY! OCTOPI!

I've been knitting my arse off and am getting ready for the Creative Hand Show in a couple of weeks. I'm also crocheting away on tons and tons of little flowers to felt up and attach to barrettes and pinbacks. crafty crafty and I've not poked anyone for at least a week. :) YAY ME!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sock ER -- Woven Darn

Are you guys tired of these sock tutorials yet? Do you already know all this and can't believe someone is taking the time to photograph herself stitching up holes in socks? I hope not. I've still got a couple tutorials to complete, a duplicate stitch version where you can't even tell any hole or weak spot was ever there, and I'm going to try needle felting a hole. I've heard about it but never thought to try. We'll see what happens and then I promise no more sock darning photos for a while!

OK, introducing my very favoritest darning method ever, the WOVEN DARN! YAY! I use this baby all the time for patching up holes on the bottom of my socks. It works on holes and weak spots both. When done in the same sockyarn, it blends right in.

I'll use different yarn so my stitches stand out (and because I can't find any more of the original yarn and I don't really care that the bottom of my feet have different colored patches).

Gather your supplies...sock with a hole, sockyarn scraps of same yarn or similar colors out of same fiber content, darning needle, scissors, and darning egg or bouncy ball. Some people say to use a light bulb, but even typing that gave me chills. ICK it sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard!!

Leaving a 3-4" tail, begin a few rows below and work into a few rows past the hole.

Stitch strands up and down to use as a weaving base. I'm sure there's a name for that...warp? weave? It starts with a "W" but I just do this by the seat of my pants.

Now also working a few stitches into the good sock past the hole, weave your needle side to side going over and under the yarn strands and any existing stitches.

I should warn any official weavers to turn away now or the imprecise photos to follow may make your eyes bleed. Just. Look. Away. This is crappy weaving, but it's fast, it's effective and I love it!

Keep working back and forth until you fill up the stitches well, then rotate the sock and weave up and down filling in more strands and strength, virtually weaving a patch right over the hole. You need to make sure to always go 3 to 4 stitches into the good stitches at the sides of the holes to anchor the patch and not cause larger holes in the future.

Here's the inside view. Weave in your ends on the inside across and through the patch diagonally, up and down or whatever crazy way you like. It just adds to the strength and texture of the patch!

Even though I've used conrasting yarn, you can't tell to look at my foot from the side or back. Only visible if I turn my foot upside down!

YAY ME! After about 15 minutes of work, I've saved this fabulous pair of socks from the trash bin!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sock ER -- Triage

This SHOULD have been my first tutorial and my first step, but I didn't realize how important this step was until just the other day! Take the time to sort through your whole stash of handknit socks. Look at each one, pulling out which need work and which can be put into the drawer for wearing.

This is my big pile of darning. I think I made it through last winter on only FOUR pair of wool socks, avoiding this mess. Ridiculous! Now I'm going to have a WHOLE drawer of warm woolie socks to choose from each day!

Sort the socks into pairs, then pull out all your sockyarn scraps. Find either the original yarn or something of similar color and same fiber.

Bag each pair of socks with its darning yarn into separate baggies. Put them in a basket or shelf with a little bag including a pair of scissors, darning needles and your darning egg (or bouncy ball if you don't have a darning egg).

It seems silly, but spending 15-30 minutes ONCE instead of doing this EACH time you decide to darn a sock makes it so much easier! With everything sorted out, I sat myself down in a comfy chair with good light, grabbed the basket of sorted bags and darned 3 pair in almost no time at all! I'll follow up tomorrow with my favorite darning method, the Woven Darn. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sock ER -- Oops Dropped Stitches Tutorial

This tutorial can help with any form of dropped stitches, but it's part of my "Sock ER" fix-it series. If any stitches drop on you while knitting yourself new toes, now you'll be able to ROCK it, not stress about it and just pick them up easy peasy!

First, a photo of my completed new toes on a lovely 3X1 ribbed very old, very comfy pair of socks. The left sock has new toes from the same yarn in a different colorway and the right sock has different yarn, but same fiber (100% wool) and approximately the same gauge.

Let's say after you separate the bad toe from the rest of the sock, you have a stitch that's dropped down a few rounds. Don't freak out, it's very easy and empowering to learn to fix your own mistakes.

As I was slipping my knitting needles into stitches around the sock, I came to the point where a stitch had gone down a few rows.

The first thing I need to do is to NOT FREAK OUT. Then I put my knitting needle through the ACTIVE stitch, even if it's rows below the rest of them. Continue slipping the rest of the stitches around the sock onto the knitting needles.

After you've got all the stitches on the needles, begin the new yarn (of the same or different yarn to knit yourself a new toe on the sock). I just leave the yarn tails hanging loose until the end and then weave in the ends. Knit until you come to a dropped stitch. ***TIP: Start the new yarn at the side of a sock, not on the top or bottom of the foot. It'll look nicer and you won't have the bump where you wove in ends in an uncomfortable spot.***

Next, DROP the stitch (or push it off the end of your needle). Don't freak out, it's not going to run down to the end of the sock. I promise!

Insert a crochet hook into the ACTIVE dropped stitch. Then put that crochet hook through the lowest of the yarn ladders behind the stitch.

Pull the active stitch through the ladder loop on the crochet hook, making a new stitch one row up from where you started. Then repeat this all the way until you have no ladders left and you're on the same level as the stitches on the needles.

Next you'll put that stitch that's been worked right up the line onto the left handed needle.

Now tell yourself "YAY ME!" You just picked up a dropped stitch and worked it right up the line and are ready to knit around and around creating new toes for your formerly worn out socks!! How cool are you? Unbelievably cool, for sure!

PS, thanks for the good thoughts & prayers while my son was in the hospital. He's home and though he's not back to regular level of health yet, he's getting a bit obnoxious, which means he's feeling better for sure! I had a lot of time to knit and darn so I'll have more tutorials out soon. Stay tuned for the woven darn for the bottom of a sock, coming soon!!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Knit on...especially if you're knitting Picc Line Covers!

Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises
--Elizabeth Zimmermann

Sometimes when life gets too hairy (not too mohairy, that could never happen) it's a true comfort to knit. I remember the days before knitting and how hard of a time it was to cope with stressful situations without having the yarn and the needles in my hands. I confess to making a crapton of horrid things out of plastic canvas and acrylic yarn. Not just coasters, that would be understandable and almost accepted. When I learned my infant son had Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic and terminal genetic lung and digestive disease, I crafted my living ass off. I spent hours and hours (a few weeks actually) stitching up coaster sets for all my family for Christmas. I bought a book at a craft store and created BUG HOUSES with embroidered little pictures of bugs for all the little kids I could find. I morphed those into beanie babies houses which had "I <3 Beanie Babies" (<3 means "heart"). I made CRAFT KITS of the plastic canvas pieces and yarn in the hopes of selling these to other similarly possessed crafters. I am embarrassed to say some of those are still in my craft room today.

I crafted my ass off with this yarn and needles and plastic. The repetition of stitches helped ease my worries a bit, but it didn't satisfy the manic urge. When I found knitting, my soul was happy. It's what my fingers and heart had been searching for. There's something about sitting and knitting that calms me. Knitting stitch after stitch. Garter stitch is the true balm for my soul. Knit, Knit, Knit, Knit, Knit.

My kiddo is back in the hospital for intestinal issues from the disease that he's fighting. He's amazing. No kid should have to go through the crap that this kid does. I know kids everywhere are fighting all kinds of horrid things. I don't know how those moms handle it. It's hard. This current issues is a minor one compared to what many kids are dealing with and even with what he's done in the past. But for some reason it was harder for me to be strong throughout the day.

Elizabeth Zimmermann really did have it right. Knit on. It helps. If you find yourself in a situation where you just can't even knit, just hold the yarn. Hold a project. Or just know that you could knit. Just knowing you have this thing you can do, this thing that unites women and men all over the world and throughout history gives a strength, a sense of calm that somehow makes things manageable.

We're lucky that my son's only in-house for a short stay. He doesn't even have to have a picc line (as of this typing). BUT there's plenty of people that do. We brought along a few for Joe should he need it, and also delivered a big batch to the hospital knit by friends local and world-wide through the internet. If you find you have some spare time and some superwash wool, please think of knitting up a few. Send me an email to christine(DOT)Long(DOT)TG(AT)gmail(DOT)com and I'll get you shipping info of where to send them. Or send them to your local hospitals.

Giving someone a hand knitted picc line cover knit with love means so much to someone that's feeling low.

Links to free pattern: Ravelry Picc Line Cover Pattern
Non-Ravelry free pattern link

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