Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dance Line-up...

Putting all 48 squares together last week I don't know if I was more overwhelmed or underwhelmed.  Laid out (even without a border) I could tell that forty-eight 9-inch squares was going to make a huge blanket.  While I've seen pictures of this blanket made large enough to cover a queen sized bed, it wasn't until I saw all those squares laid out in person that I knew I didn't want a blanket that large.

And then there were so many gray squares!   Why did I think 3 shades of gray (4, if you count graphite as gray - but it sort of looks brown, too) would look good in one blanket?  And then add the light blue...   well, it just completely underwhelmed me.

I had it on the floor for a few hours - trying out different arrangements, even adding some bolder yarn to the mix - wondering if I should make even more (brighter) squares...


And then I decided to just pull most of the gray squares out.  That definitely improved things.  Both visually, and I liked the size better.   But turning my 48-square blanket into a 35-square blanket filled me with regret at all the time (and yarn) spent making those now unnecessary squares.

And then I got an idea.   I stacked all the light blue and several shades of gray squares together.

Huh.   Those don't look bad together!   Maybe add some squares in a darker blue (a medium blue) and white?  Maybe?   As is, I've easily got enough squares already to make a baby blanket.  Add a few accent squares of darker blue and white (? - not sure why the white makes me hesitate), - and I've got enough squares for a child-size blanket!   Yay!  Two blankets out of this Last Dance CAL!  I'm not going to jump into making the second blanket just yet, but I'm saving the squares above 'till I figure out what to add to them.  Maybe add some soft lime green?   I dunno.

I'm open to suggestions.

Anyway...  Happy enough that I had come up with a plan for all the squares above, I started joining these:

It's slow going, but after several mistakes I finally got all but one vertical seam finished.

Since I can't get a decent color picture today, I'll just give you four seamed squares in black & white. 

And then it's on to the horizontal seams. The good thing is the horizontal seams are shorter than the vertical seams so they should finish up quicker.  The bad thing is there are more horizontal seams than vertical seams so they may take longer.  Another good thing is now that I know what I'm doing and since I don't have to fiddle so much with the squares, the horizontal seaming might still go quicker.

The plan is to get this thing finished by next Sunday.  Seamed, blocked if necessary, border finished.

I think I can do it.  What do you think?

To see what other YOPpers are up to visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  11.26/100 Skeins

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The dance is nearly over...

Feeling significantly better from the vertigo attack I had last Tuesday (and struggling until mid-Thursday, getting better each day) I managed to finish four more squares by last night:

I decided to try making random bobbles again and it worked better for me this time.  These represent hailstones, though I have no idea how these squares will actually translate to the viewer once the blanket is all stitched together.  They may just look like random bobbles.  I'm cool with that.

And now...  one more set of squares to go!  I almost can't contain my giddiness at being nearly done!

These navy squares are possibly going to be a combination of designs of other easy squares I've already done.  For one thing, I'm finding out navy is hard to crochet with, so I'm not interested in struggling with both a pattern that isn't easy and struggling to also see my yarn.  Secondly, I really just want to get this blanket done already.  I'm not in love with it anymore and I just want to start stitching it together.  I think I'll like it well enough when it's finished, but will I love it?  I'm letting go of any such expectations I might have had when I began this thing.

As soon as I sign off here, I'm going to lay out the squares I have to date to get an idea of what this baby is going to look like.

Hopefully, next week will see some progress on the joining of these 48 squares.

To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Friday, February 2, 2018


It was a rough week for me.  While I wouldn't say "rough" is becoming my normal, it's becoming way too familiar.   The week started out just lovely - a week stretched out in front of me with few commitments.   And suddenly on Tuesday afternoon I was struck with vertigo.   Thus began two full 24-hour periods spent mostly just trying to hold my head still, but by Thursday afternoon I could see straight enough that I could manage to get on the computer a bit (had some tasks on Ravelry to tend to, so that was handy).  I did some Bible reading which I was glad for.  And I finally even managed to do a bit of crocheting...

Today, Friday...  in the wee hours of the morning, while I'm still not 100%, I'm clear enough to be able to write.  Good idea, or not, I'm going to get something off my chest.  Right here.  Right now.  Again, on a day when few are likely to venture in here seems safe enough.  ;^/

A month ago I was diagnosed with Menieres.  It was no surprise.  It was actually an odd relief (followed by some amount of depressing feelings, to be sure) to finally have an official diagnosis for  a decade or so of random and unexplained vertigo episodes.  I'd begun to take note that the episodes were coming more frequently in recent years, and oddly, they were seemingly changing...   in their presentation and duration.  Over the last year and a half I've been experiencing BPPV (I came to find out) in addition to the violent out-of-the-blue vertigo episodes related to Menieres (which is all I had known for years).   I didn't know exactly what was going on - I just knew that what had become familiar to me in regards to vertigo was becoming less familiar.

In fact, it was actually two lengthy BPPV episodes in 2016 that finally got me to an otolaryngologist at the end of that year where I underwent a series of tests that resembled what I liken to a kiddie kollege torture laboratory.  Funny camera goggles, a simulated spin chamber, an audiologist shooting a water gun in my ears, and then playing audio ping pong into my ears while electrodes on my head measured muscle (or maybe it was nerve) signals.  This last one was supposed to be the test that determined Menieres.   While I got good and sick on the other tests, this last one, the one that was supposed to determine the worst, is the only test I failed, evidently.

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That said, while I was sent home a year ago without an official diagnosis, I was told that I am experiencing two types of vertigo.

The longer term episodes of on again/off again vertigo are indicative of BPPV, but many of my symptoms and experiences (over the past decade and outside the lab) are classic Menieres.

They determined that my BPPV is caused by crystals in the anterior ear canal, and wondered if I had experienced any head injury.  I explained that I'd had a mild whiplash injury ... maybe 5 years prior, but hadn't experienced these types of vertigo until more recently.  The whiplash seemed to be discounted as the reason I'd be having BPPV now, so much later.   But I was invited to take advantage of their therapies when I experience BPPV and it doesn't resolve quickly.

To try to minimize what she suspected is Menieres-onset vertigo, I was given the same instructions as if she had given me a membership card to the M-club.  Cut salt, caffeine, stress, etc...   So now, in addition to noting various types of fat content and other nefarious substances, I've become sadly aware of how much sodium there is in...  well...  nearly everything that comes in a box or a can.

While at the same time that I've become shockingly aware of the salt content of all my favorite foods, I've grown a certain amount of comfortableness with what feels like playing Russian Roulette with occasional french fries or potato chips.  I've pretty much eliminated caffeine - pop is a rare treat at this point.  Truthfully, though...  I don't really miss it.  And seriously... who needs all that fizz?  And stress?  In the last couple of years, my life is about as stress-less as it's ever been and is ever likely to be. 

And vertigo still got me - twice now in just a couple month's time.  For some reason, this past November, after I took my now annual hearing test and reported another vertigo episode (that had happened the week before), my otolaryngologist decided to make it official with an actual diagnosis.  They're calling what I have Menieres.

Nothing changed really.  Diet restrictions remain the same.  Though, I was presented with several possible "treatment" options, none of them are acceptable at this point as the risks involved are  worse (in my opinion) than what I'm currently experiencing.  Especially, when so much that surrounds Menieres seems to be theory as opposed to anyone knowing anything for certain.

It seems that surgical treatments that might relieve the vertigo carry a high risk of permanent hearing loss.  The maddening situation is that each vertigo attack likely damages the hearing in the affected ear each time it happens.  Talk about a catch-22!  When I (sort of) jokingly said that perhaps such treatments will feel more acceptable if/when I've finally lost my hearing (which is what typically happens with Menieres) she nodded understandingly.  It was later that I learned that by the time a person loses their hearing, the vertigo episodes tend to subside or disappear altogether.  What kind of sick joke is that?!?

And we'll not get into a lengthy discussion of tinnitus for now.  It's depressing enough to learn that it is phantom noise the brain produces when a person begins to have hearing loss.  In other words, it is quite literally "all in the head".  It's actually kind of fascinating when you start to look into it.  It would probably be more fascinating if I didn't have to contend with the constant whistle in my ears while trying to concentrate on what I'm reading.  So much to research and learn about vertigo, tinnitus, sound therapy, Menieres.  So many possible roads to go down.

It's discouraging.  And on some level, overwhelming.  When I first started trying to make dietary changes I remember saying to a friend, "it's a bit like trying to hit a moving target - you do these things, but in the end, you really don't know what triggers the vertigo."  But this week it's dawned on me, that how it actually feels is that I'm the moving target, trying to do what I'm supposed to do (though, admittedly, sometimes not) and vertigo has its gun leveled waiting to catch me unawares.  And frankly, it doesn't seem to care if I eat french fries or potato chips or down gallons of soda!  This time it struck me the day after overdoing broccoli for supper the night before!  And yes...  I had cheese on my broccoli, and I've made note of that.  I'm not unaware that allergies are thought to possibly trigger vertigo.  The possible triggers seem endless...

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But today, I'm starting to come clear and my brain doesn't feel like jello anymore.  And it's a great relief.   I smiled today.  A real, honest to goodness smile.  I actually felt my face forming in a way that I had forgotten it feels. Frankly, how it normally feels.

I will spend some more time in upcoming days/weeks researching again possible solutions, helps, anything I can about vertigo, Menieres, tinnitus, sound therapy.  And once again, I will weigh whether or not to mention it to anyone I don't really have to because what always follows is "Do you know so and so..." i.e. whoever it is in our circle who experiences vertigo, or heaven forbid has been diagnosed with Menieres.  Or some variation of what has become predictable advice from those who've never had vertigo, but know someone who has and who has found their cure.  My bet is they haven't found their cure, they've just found their way of dealing with it.  Just as I'm trying to find mine.

I know people mean well.  Or so I tell myself.  I honestly don't understand the psychology behind certain types of responses.  The "Let's see if I can be helpful even though I don't know what it's like to actually experience what you have" response mystifies me.  I'm guilty of sometimes responding that way myself.  But I'm still mystified by it.  I'm still frustrated by it when I'm the recipient.

What I wish right now is, if I mention that I'm dealing with vertigo (as in explaining why I can't be somewhere, or wasn't there), just recognize and appreciate that I'm struggling.  Nothing more.  Just saying "I'm sorry you're dealing with this" or "I'm praying for you" is HUGE.  Asking if I need anything might be helpful, though honestly...  I'm not likely to need or want anything except for merciful sleep and the spinning to stop, and then for the (this time around) jello-head to dissipate.  Once vertigo has run its course, I'm just like you.  Capable.  Fully functioning.  Happy. Until the vertigo strikes again.

When advice comes quickly, I don't feel respected that I am where I am in figuring this all out - in dealing with a hard diagnosis that holds a grim future (that you, random person who's giving me advice, possibly doesn't even fully realize).  What we (I include myself in this) don't realize, is that in our well-intentioned advice, we deliver words that too often feel like judgement.  Judgement that the afflicted one isn't doing what s/he needs to do.   And a lack of recognition over hours spent researching a solution. Trying to find answers.  Praying for the courage to take what may feel like a big next step - in treatment, or just looking for what may be the root cause of the problem.

I take comfort hearing from another person who suffers vertigo attacks.  There's usually an instant kinship (as long as they don't too quickly dispense advice - lol).  Just interacting with someone who understands the ordeal is welcome.

While it may feel slightly comforting the first time I hear that "so-and-so" also has Menieres, or struggles with vertigo, after a dozen or so times of hearing it from second-hand sources it takes everything in me to be gracious about the now redundant information.  Please forgive me when I'm not gracious.

This has become quite the long post.  Or vent, if it comes across that way.  I think it's been something of emotional therapy for me.

I'll wrap this up by expressing relief that another vertigo episode is moving behind me, mixed with feelings of dread that another episode is hiding somewhere on the murky horizon.

I've had my itty bitty pity party of once again being caught in the quagmire of wondering if this is the type of vertigo I might benefit from therapy for (therapy, which frankly means going back into vertigo in order to be brought out of it - a therapist moves your head into positions that will bring on the vertigo, and once s/he has located the correct ear and determined the ear canal that needs treating, might be able to dislodge offending "crystals" and make them go where they belong - and hopefully, sooner rather than later, the dizziness and "jello-head" will stop.)

Or, this could be the Menieres-onset type of vertigo that simply needs to run its course.  From my experience, regardless of which type of vertigo it is, it runs its course.  So far, it always has. It seems to be again...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The last dance is winding down...

It's been a very good week.  The weather was great on Thursday and Friday and I made the three-hour drive to visit middle son who recently relocated to northern Indiana.  He's a quiet sort of fella, but it was so good to spend some mom and son time together in his new digs.  And spending the night gave me a glimpse into his new early to bed, early to rise life.  He headed to bed at 8:30 and I'm pretty sure he was up before 5:00 - he maybe left by 5:00.   I don't know...   I just know I was still sawing logs when he headed out into the dark morning...

Don't tell him I said so, but I think I need to do that again sometime soon.   Not too soon, though, I suppose.   I miss him bunches.  Actually, I'm missing both my older two sons in recent months as work has taken one further away, and commuting to a new job gives the other less time for getting together.  Not that I saw them that much before recent changes, but at least it was easier to get together when we did.  But they appear to be doing well, so I'm glad for that.

This week also saw another scarf finish and two more squares for my Last Dance blanket.

First, a scarf was knit from bulky yarn on BIG needles.  I don't recall how big, and I've put them away already, but they were big.  In fact, I'd never knitted anything on such big needles so I was amazed at how quickly the project worked up.

I used this video tutorial in making this.  The yarn is Premier Serenity Chunky Prints in the color, Velveteen.  What looked in the skein to be a purplish color turned out to be red!  I was so surprised.  Since I expect a scarf like this to be wrapped around the neck a couple of times to make it cozy and warm to wear, I had to get a picture of it in that state, too:

I really like this yarn.  I have another 1.5 skeins and I'm hoping that's enough to crochet a scarf in the round with the stripes running horizontal. Or maybe I'll make a hat.  We'll see.  Soon, I hope.


And here are two more square designs I finished for my Last Dance blanket (they are both substitute designs from two in the original pattern):

With these squares finished, I have only to make two more designs.  That's just eight more squares!   And then I'll be ready to crochet this blanket together.  I can hardly believe I'm this close.  I'm feeling ever so slightly anxious about the joining process (both that my colors will work well together, and that the process goes smoothly).  I had intentions of finishing this blanket during the Ravellenics, but if I can, I'd like to wrap it up beforehand.  I now think it's entirely possible.  😃

To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  7.89/100 Skeins

Sunday, January 21, 2018

It's Elemental...

I finished my Elements Pillow!   I used the first two video tutorials of the Elements CAL to make the front:
I'm thinking of incorporating the pattern that makes up the center square into my BAMCAL blanket.

The yarns used are:  Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn in the colors sea blue, antique teal, and graphite.  This graphite color is my new favorite dark neutral.  It's between a brown and gray and it seems to work with pretty much anything I put up next to it. And the light beige color is Deborah Norville's Everyday yarn in the color, chinchilla.

For the back of my pillow, I used the stitch pattern found in the Twisted Textured Pillow:
The button hole band and button band were made of simple single crochets.

I love this stitch pattern.  A solid, or even striped pillow made using this stitch pattern would be awesome, I'd think.  Made the way this designer did (with all double crochets), the fabric created is very dense - which is great for a pillow, but the fabric curls.  Significantly.  Stretched over a puffy pillow, though, it works beautifully.  


And, I think it was actually a week or so earlier that I finished this simple cowl:

 Call me goofy, but I loved the look of the partially closed door I accidentally got in this picture, 
so I left it in.   

Just to give you an "insider's" glimpse...   the door in the picture opens into a little half-bath (powder room) that sits right by the south-facing back door which has 9 small window panes in it.   That's where the light is coming from that's shining on the door above.  This is my back hallway.  It's so small, it hardly seems like a hallway, but technically that's what it is.  My pantry is on the other side of the scarf.  This is a great spot in the the winter to snap a picture of anything on a hanger because so much light comes into this space.

Above is a picture of that hallway taken a little over a year ago from the vantage point of my front door.  The pantry and powder room are on the left as you're looking at the picture.  Can't you just picture the contortions I get into in that skinny space trying to get pictures of hanging scarves?


Normally,  I try to keep the doors out of the frame, or I crop them out later, but the shot just  above shows how my pictures taken in this spot normally turn out.  Without my explanation above, you'd never guess I was in a skinny little hallway with a scarf hanging between the doors of a powder room and a pantry.  😉


Back to the scarf...  It seems like I started with a pattern, but then went my own merry way with it.  Basically, it's just all half-double crochets done in the back loop - which creates some texture.  And it's crocheted in the round (as in a spiral) so there's no seam.  I finished it off by winding down to a few single crochets and then a few slip stitches to end it all.  Such a simple crocheted scarf, but done in a multi-striped yarn looks much richer than the stitch pattern would indicate.  The yarn used in this scarf is Lion Brand Unique in the colorway, Harvest.

Super soft, and colorful, I expect it will be super warm for a child or teenager next winter.

And that's a wrap for another YOP week.  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  4.39/100 Skeins

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A light week crochet-wise...

Trying to give my wrist a rest, I did a pretty good job of laying off crocheting most of the week, but by Friday I was chomping at the bit to play with yarn.

I think I needed to finish only one of the squares below for my Last Dance blanket:

And now I have just 4 more designs to go!  Or 16 more squares. I'm seeing the end of this project!


And then I worked a few more rounds on my pillow top (again, using the Elements pattern):

It's interesting to see this change with each round.  

And that's basically it.  Because I had to buy a few more skeins of yarn to finish up the pillow above, my stash reduction progress took a hit. But overall, there's still a loss.  Of .11 skeins.  😏   It's going to be mighty slow going at this rate.  But still it's progress.  Most of the yarn I bought will get worked into the pillow, so I'll probably show some sudden progress in a few weeks.

To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  .11/100 Skeins

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Some de-stashing projects...

With the bitter cold, and no real outside commitments this week I stayed home and had plenty of time to crochet.  It felt like quite an indulgence.  That said, I'm very happy to see temps rising again into the double digits - maybe up to the high 40's by next weekend!

The first thing I accomplished (crochet-wise) was finishing the Openwork Scarf.

Sometime back I had purchased (online) a bunch of skeins of Premier Everyday yarn in the color Violet Heather, but when I received it I was disappointed to not be able to detect any heathering in it.  To make a good thing out of a disappointment, I rolled several skeins with Woolike fingering yarn in the color mauve and it created this sort of marled effect when crocheted up:

I like it in this scarf!  I have one more skein wound up with the same mauve yarn that I need to find a use for, but I'd like to try mixing it with some other colors, too.   Kind of a fun thing to do, and a way to use more stash - which I'm on a mission to do.


And then I made a color block scarf - made of half double crochet stitches into the back loop of every stitch.  This stitch pattern gives a ridged, "washboard" effect.   Washed and dried, this scarf (made mainly with Vanna's Choice yarn) came out soft and squishy:

Wrapped twice, it makes a snug cowl around the neck.  💜


And lastly, I continued working on a pillow for the Cushion/Pillow CAL in the Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry.  I'm using the first two weeks of the Elements pattern to, hopefully, make a pillow that will be the right size for a couch.  This design is surprisingly easy to do:

I also did some crocheting on more squares for my Last Dance blanket, but I'm holding off taking pictures until they are finished.  Honestly, I'm not sure how much crocheting I'll manage this week as I have an owie in my right wrist.  I think I've developed a ganglion cyst, and it's painful, so I'm going to try wearing a brace to minimize my wrist movement and maybe it will go away on its own.  Wouldn't that be dandy?  Anyway, I don't think I can crochet while wearing a wrist brace, so I may just have my squares to show next week.

I hope you have a good week.  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  2.53/100 Skeins

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I have a confession to make...

I thought long and hard about writing this post.  Tucking it in here on a Wednesday when nobody expects me to post seems to me to be my safest bet.  So here goes...

I have a confession to make.

I am a yarnaholic.

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I know...  you're laughing and saying "That's you're big confession?" because if you're reading this, you likely are too.  A yarnaholic to some degree.  Or a fiberaholic, or a fabricaholic, or some other overindulger of crafty goods.  My confession isn't to be construed as judging.  I am not.  I love yarn.  I never want to not have yarn.  I love being able to shop my yarn stash whenever a crochet pattern strikes my fancy.  I want more yarn.

That said...  I have too much.

This is how I know...

Recently, as I was meandering around Ravelry, I came across some stash-down challenges.  Having felt for some time I have too much yarn, the idea of "stashing down" appealed to me very much.

One of the  challenges I came across was a 100-skein challenge.  The challenge is to remove or work-down 100 skeins of yarn in 2018.  That sounded like a lot of skeins to me, but at the same time I wondered how much of a dent that would actually make in my stash.  I knew my stash was big, but I didn't know exactly how big.

So, clearly, the first thing I needed to do was determine how much yarn I actually have.  Over the last few years I have recorded all of my yarn stash on Ravelry.  Well, just last night, I found out that if you download the Excel file of your Ravelry stash, you can then have your computer sum up the different categories (like # of skeins, yardage, anything that has a numeric value).

Now, I'm almost too embarrassed to admit this, but for the sake of enlightenment and to challenge others  of you to know how much yarn you actually have (if you want to know), I'm going to confess...  If I did the "summing" correctly on my Excel chart, and divided by 100 properly, I have enough stashed yarn to do the 100-skein challenge for TWENTY years!!!!!

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While you pick yourself up off the floor and fix your glasses, let me just say I'm dumbfounded, too.  I mean, I knew I had a lot of stash.  It's neatly organized for the most part, which is possibly why I could have so much and not even realize how much.  But TWENTY YEARS worth????   How did that even happen?   How much did that cost me to accumulate?  How many hours did I spend just logging that much yarn onto my Ravelry stash page - let alone taking pictures of, editing pictures, posting pictures...?

Don't try to answer those questions.  They are rhetorical, and I really don't want to know the answers.  Even though I think it's fair to ask them.

Before doing this little exercise, I was already telling myself I needed to go on a yarn diet.  But for TWENTY YEARS???   Forget dieting.  I'm just now hoping I live long enough to see the end of my stash.


Well...  I've got to do something about this.  Thinking I'm going to make much of a dent in my stash in a year's time is likely not a reasonable expectation.  But I've got to do something.  Even if it just looks like baby-stepping.  Or even if it looks like this:

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Here's what I'm going to try to do.  In my weekly YOP posts, when I show a finished project, I'm going to try to record a running tally of how many skeins I've used.   I'm going to do it without fanfare and only those who've happened to read this post will understand the significance of my running tally.  The tally may go down on occasion if I need to buy more yarn to complete a project, but hopefully, the overall tally will head in an upward direction most of the time.   When it hits 100 skeins I may throw  party or something.  Or maybe I'll just take a nap.

I'm not asking anyone to join me.  Or to share my views or concerns about my yarn hoard.  But I'd sure welcome encouragement from time to time if I manage to make progress.

And now that I got that off my chest, I need to get busy.  My crochet hooks (and yarn) await!

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Editing to note that I got it wrong above.  I know...  dividing by 100 is tough isn't it?   Actually, I was looking at the wrong column on the Excel chart.  I was looking at a column called "Skeins".  But today (the day after I wrote this post) I noticed another column called "Remaining skeins".   😯  Evidently, the "Skeins" column is a record of all skeins entered into my stash.  So, assuming "Remaining skeins" is what I actually have to work from, my recalculations show that I only have 18 years of yarn!  

I know.  I know.  It's still ridiculous.  But somehow I feel like I've made progress already. 😃 

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