Saturday, February 27, 2010

Am I Even Here?

Once again, a long, long period of time has transpired between my last blog post and this one. I'm not usually so foot-draggy, and it's not intentional (or for lack of thought - I think about my blog quite a lot!)

No, I've been MIA for a simple reason: Exhaustion. Pain. Just feeling - blah.

And also feeling scared and blue and sad.

It's that feeling o' fear (fact: not as scary when I add the apostrophe) that overwhelms me when I realize our insurance will be running out in June.

Perhaps it's the second o' outright terror when I realize (after looking over several insurance applications) that I'm pretty much un-insurable.

Fibromyalgia patient with serious asthma & pre-cancerous hysto 8 years ago? Yeah, right.

It's unnerving, but I try not to let it become too overwhelming. I think about how lucky I am that we actually HAVE insurance now - when I needed it to be diagnosed - and even though I've hit a bit of a back-slide, I DO feel light years better than I did in November, December and part of January.

So imagine how surprised I was to read that darned Twitterscope (it's SO consistently on the money that I've just accepted that Astrologist Rick Levine must be an avid blog reader of mine and tailors the forecast to me, personally)

Here's what today's scope said;
Your self-image might be a bit distorted today, especially if you are experiencing physical symptoms that are hard to diagnose.

You are so sensitive now that subtle disturbances in your environment can manifest as inflammation or pain. Instead of covering up the discomfort, find the source and eliminate it.

Maintaining a positive attitude is currently your best strategy to feeling better.
So perhaps that's it - distorted self perception - seeing myself as weaker and sicker than I really am? Or, is it that I'm foolishly seeing myself as healthier than I am? My mind is a confused mess.

Yes, I am painfully sensitive now - physically, mentally and emotionally, that's for darned sure.

And I do look for the source of this - thing. Look, look, look. And I try to maintain a positive attitude. Really, I do.

Oh, good heavens, why am I trying to justify myself to an online horoscope?

But I am feeling a little too sensitive. When someone writes to tell me I should meditate, I want to scream, "But I DO!"

And then I ask myself, "How would they know that, I don't talk about it on my blog..."
So, just know that I do, and that I prefer not to write about it, okay? And that I appreciate your thoughtfulness and care - I appreciate it VERY much.

HoTN
Just when you thought you'd NEVER see another History on Two Needles project, I've been working up a nice one for old Queen Bess. It's my Grispholm Jacket, based on a painting thought to be of QE1.

I love this piece; I love the mannish look of it, and the interesting lower arms and collar detail.

I will work the collar in the same fabric as the lower sleeves, not in fur, and I'm making the body a bit more fitted. It looks more fitted than it will ultimately be on the mannequin, it hasn't been blocked yet, and this is a fabric that REALLY loosens up when blocked

SWATCH ALERT -
THIS KIND OF PROJECT
DEMANDS A SWATCH!

It's turning out to be a fun knit, the hip shaping takes place evenly across the work, but the bust shaping is located in one point, which forces the fabric to move in interesting ways. I love to shape like this, it's the same way I think about dress patterns (and costumes!)

The armholes are a cross between a raglan and a set in sleeve, it's a shape I really like because it creates a very easy armscye (easy to wear), and the shaping is simpler than a traditional armhole shaping.

I'm just moving into the collar now, it will be worked as short rows and I hope to capture the nice shape of the collar in the photo. I'm still puzzling over the best way to attack the sleeves. I'd LOVE to work them from the top down, but I need to think hard about that.

So, all in all I'm fortunate to have a job that I can do in a semi-prone position. Now if only it carried benefits...
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I'm feeling like I'm going through so many changes that it's hard to know which end is up. I swear, I have to write notes on my hand to change my underwear most days.

Life is better than it was in December when I was writhing in agony most days. So don't take this post as a complaining holler. It's more along the lines of a complaining whine.

I just feel - unsettled - confused - unsettled (did I already say that?) and I'm struggling to find my emotional and mental balance right now.

(However, according to the Wii, my physical balance is sensational, I'm only .07% off. Yay!)

That's part of why I haven't blogged.

We've also had a hell of a week.
  1. Our health insurance is expiring in June, which sucks. Gerry and the kids will be okay (G's on SSI, so he'll be on Medicare and the kids are covered in the same manner with MN care) but I won't be covered, so we're looking for something in that realm.

  2. Our roof has a leak and the wall in Hannah's room looks like it has a crawling skin disease with the water damage.

  3. We've learned this week that Hannah needs some orthodontia which is not covered by our very basic dental insurance, so we've made an appointment to take her to the U of MN Orthodontia for a screening - first opening in late March.

  4. We just had a knock at the door from the gas company. Apparently there's a leak in front of our house. (YAY!)
    They're coming back later to fix it.

  5. I just haven't felt "present" at my online class chats this week. I've left a few early because of pain, and my focus is bad. It puts a cloud over many other things I'm currently doing.
I swear, if the 2 round trip airline tickets to Ireland weren't already paid for (Max & I are traveling on Frequent Flier miles, Gerry & Hannah's cost $800 each), and the entire trip planned out, I might consider canceling it. Naah.

However, in my heart of hearts I know that life is short and the opportunity to take the family to Donegal for 3 weeks for $2,000 doesn't happen every day.

See, I can rationalize anything - it's a gift.


Fibro Now, Fibro Tomorrow, Fibro Forever
The truth is, as much as I'd love to think that Vit D3, a wheat-free diet, regular exercise and the other good stuff I've been doing to/for my body is a panacea for my new friend, fibromyalgia, I'm finding that the pain continues to come by and hang out for a day or so each week.

The brain confusion lingers, too, and there are some afternoons when the best I can manage are a few games of Tetris. (I wonder if anyone's considered using Tetris as a diagnostic tool.)
This slow realization that I'm dealing with a chronic condition (dur...) and not just a brief excursion into Fibro-Land (it's about 10 miles from Lego-land), has been very difficult for my brain to process.

And very difficult emotionally, too. I feel like I'm supposed to be the strength, the constant, the rock here in the family. But many evenings it's my daughter who brings me tea and my husband-with-cancer who brings me dinner. Okay, every evening he fixes dinner - it's what he does...
Then there's always the chance that I might be using the whole thing as a bit of an excuse for not getting more work done.

Can these all be true? Probably a teeny bit of each of the above points is valid.

Online Class Mention
(avert your eyes)
I'm busy right now managing the three classes I have going on, monitoring the free class I just set up, and creating more.
WAIT - did I say FREE CLASS?

Yes, the class that I offered last week to 20 folks went quite well, so I've opened it up to an unlimited number of class members.

What the class is
  • FREE
  • 6 Videos
  • 4 Handouts
  • A chance to go from non-knitter to NEW knitter in 2 weeks (or so...)
What the class is NOT
  • An advanced Combination Class
  • A chance to ask me detailed questions about Combination Knitting*
  • A never-ending online knitting group
*If you want to learn more about Combination Knitting, check out my website and if you're inclined sign up for my Online Combination Class.

To join the class you'll have to click on the button below and go through the check out process, but that's just to keep the whole thing manageable for me.

Add to Cart
Click here to add the
FREE knitting class
to your cart


After 2 weeks I'll kick you out of the class unless you ask for more time. I'll be happy to give you as much time as you need, but you'll have to re-ask every 2 weeks (this keeps the class clear of folks who have moved on, but haven't 'left' the class)

I'm working on several new online classes not moving as quickly as I'd like, but when they're ready I'll let you guys know!

Other Knitting
I'm working on a very frustrating, yet very rewarding piece for Interweave Knits. It's worked up in Lion Brand stainles steel & wool yarn - it's the weight of heavy thread - and the knitting can be IMPOSSIBLE in bad light.

The beauty part is that the lacework puts me in mind of the hoarfrost that covered the trees this past week. I know some folks have a knee jerk reaction against cold, but I LOVE living here in Minnesota, it's so beautiful!

So I'm limited to working on this during daylight hours, which is fine with me because it keeps me from obsessing about it deep into the night. The progress is going pretty quickly, but the shape of the piece is a leap of faith so until it's finished and put together I'll be a little anxious about it.

I just finished a crocheted hat for Inside Crochet (a new UK magazine)

I'm in LOVE with this project - it's just the type of hat I adore (a 1930's cloche-esque chapeau which should be worn with a slant over one eye) It's got lots of ribbon embroidery, which I also love. I'm sad to be sending the little fellow off...

HoTN
I haven't done a THING on History On Two Needles for weeks, and the guilt is wracking. I'm committing myself to getting schematics created for TWO pieces by Sunday, with skeleton patterns written so I can send them off to knitters. Yes, I will.
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posted by Annie at 12 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Learn to Knit for Free!

I'm opening up a free "Learn To Knit" class, but it will be limited to 20 folks.

If you've always wanted to learn, here's your chance knit like the wind!

This is a new class format I want to try out. If it goes well, it will be an ongoing free class that will (hopefully) get more folks knitting like the maniacs I know you can be!

The class will be offered through the Ning network, where I teach my other online classes. It's free to register for Ning, you can do that right before class starts if you're not already a ning member.

Or you could do it now.

CLASS INFO
Here's the nitty gritty:
Class Starts THIS SUNDAY, Feb 14th
Class Ends NEXT SUNDAY, Feb 21th
(Yes I said 28th earlier - evidently I can't count - sorry!)

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know it's short notice. But you'll have 7 beautiful days with the materials!

I've been asked, "How basic IS this class?" To answer that, I'm offering the first PDF handout and the accompanying video here for you to watch. You'll get a good sense from that on how basic the class is. I think it's pretty darned basic...

There are 5 videos total, this one is an overview, and then each subsequent video deals with the techniques discussed in this overview.

video

All the materials (videos and pdf files) will be in the online classroom, you'll have 24 hour access during the week of class. I will participate in a live text chat on Thursday at 8pm US Central time, and I may hang around the discussion forums sometimes.

Click on the button below, when 20 folks are in, the class is full and closed!

Okay - GO!
Annie Modesitt
F R E E
How To Knit
1 Week Class

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Kiva's Thought for the Day

"Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter."

Martin Luther King Jr.
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posted by Annie at 4 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Moving, Birthday and a Rant

I'm moving my blog over to Word Press. It's going to take a while, I have until March (when Blogger turns off my ability to publish via FTP, the main reason I stick with Blogger) and I'm pretty excited about it.

Two folks whose blogs I love and respect, Margaret Roach and Adria Richards, both use and love Word Press. That's good enough for me! (I love name dropping these two brilliant women, I so respect their work, I feel fortunate to know them both!)

I will miss Blogger - I've been with them since I started in 2002 - but the time has come to take a bit more control of my blog, and I'm happy to do it.

I've been non-blogging because I've been rather ill again this week. Two episodes where a backslide into wheat (one semi-intentional, one absolutely innocently) caught me up and wore me out SO much that I was blindsided by how rotten I felt.

In one way, it's very good. I was able to bounce back rather quickly with some Vitamin D, a LOT of water and some aerobic Wii bicycling. Work that poison (to me) out of my system, baby!

And it also points out to me that my suspicions are valid - the wheat really is one culprit in my muscle and joint aches and my overal malaise/fogginess of brain. I'm also beginning to think that one of the reasons I got so sick around Christmas was the amount of holiday cookies I was digesting.

So I start this week rededicating myself to a wheat-free existence, with a bit more emphasis on eating less sugar, too. We'll see...

That's the main reason I've been so quiet on my blog and in Twitter. It's astounding to me how little I feel like doing when I'm down and out, but there it is!

While all this rolling around in the bed in agony was going on, I was approached by Interweave Knits and IK Crochet to do a project for each, which is wonderful. I love working with them, such a great company!

I'm also working on a flowered cloche for Crochet Insider (the hat CAN be worn outside, too...) and it's more fun that should be legal. Alls I'll say is that I LOVE ribbon embroidery!

The online classes are going beautifully, I've got a LOT of students in my classes this month, and I'm working up a free "How To Knit" class which I thought would be finished by now. More's the pity that it's not, but with any luck I'll have it done by the end of the weekend.

However, when it's done you'll have a place to send your non-knitting friends where they can learn both Western AND basic Combination knitting. Or, in the off chance that you don't knit, you can visit and hone your mad knit chops.

More info when it's ready to go, stay tuned!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Gerry turned 51 yesterday and we're pretty stoked. We were going to go to Pizza Luce where I can get a gluten free slice and a gluten free beer, but I was feeling SO under the weather we stayed at home and had some gluten free birthday cake (courtesy of Betty Crocker and Hannah)

I love that ad from the American Cancer Society where they say they're the Official Sponsor of Birthdays. Obviously this really resonates with us - we are VERY lucky.

But the truth remains that with so many Americans uninsured and under-insured, many folks can't get the help they need without going into bankruptcy (and even then getting the correct health care is an iffy proposition.)

RANT
I'm amazed and astounded at how the anti-health care folks who are fighting against a Public Option in DC have been able to paint their position as even slightly humanitarian.

Through fear, a LOT of expensive ads, lobbyists cash to Congress and a successful campaign to polarize the American Congress (if not the American people), they've convinced some naive folks that a majority of citizens is against a public option, but an interesting ABC / Washington Post Poll refutes this.

I'm sick to death of hearing the twin lies that:

1) Insurance Portability Across State Lines Will Save Us and
2) Tort Reform Will Save Us.

The only people these two strategies will help are the insurance companies. They'll be able to charge what they want with very little regulation, and patients won't be able to sue to overturn bad insurance company decisions (usually based on raising profits) which cause severe injury or even death.

Lie #1
The state by state portability issue would allow states with good regulatory laws (like Minnesota and California) to be brought down to the lowest common denominator - to the level of states with BAD consumer protection laws.

Jerry Flanagan, a patient advocate for Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog, is quoted in an article in the LA Times, "The insurance companies will all run to Wyoming to issue policies, and Wyoming laws would rule in California."

Think of what's happened to consumers under the thumb of credit card companies who all flocked to states with very bad regulatory laws. 30% interest rates and crushing, hidden "fees" are NOT uncommon. This usurious situation has flourished because the banks issuing the cards are able to base themselves in states which allow these practices.

Lie #2
Right wingers like to use the Bar Association as a whipping boy because - well - everyone has heard some story of folks being screwed by a lawyer. Even Shakespeare wasn't fond of them.

But the deeper reason is that many attorneys actually fight FOR the rights of citizens who are all but powerless against large entites, and this is anathema to the multi-billion dollar corporations.

It can be expensive, but anyone has the right to seek council and sue a company which has caused damage. To take away this right is to further reduce the strength of the average American against the monied large corporations.

Now that Corporations - masquerading as people - have been sanctioned by the Supreme Court to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of political campaigns, my own fear is that more and more Americans will be convinced by expensive ad campaigns to vote against their own best interests.

No one, no group, has the kind of money the corporations control to work against the multi-million dollar ad campaigns that are on their way.

What's the cure? Education and information. Don't take my word for any of this, but don't take anyone else's word for it, either. Use your brain, educate yourself, make yourself informed.

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posted by Annie at 35 Comments Links to this post

Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho



Chullo-licious


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