One Little Word 2020: LESS

Every year for four years now, I’ve signed up for the OLW class that Ali Edwards hosts on her site. I do the January prompt and maybe even the vision board. Then, it goes to the side. I see the monthly emails about a new prompt…and toss them into the trash. But! It’s a new year. A new decade (depending on who you ask). I’m hopeful about this year and that includes being hopeful I may actually do all of the prompts.

2020 Word

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The Plan

The plan this year is really simple. Interleave my responses to the OLW monthly prompts between everything else I’m recording in my bullet journal (more on that in another post). No buying new supplies – other than a single roll of washi I bought yesterday – for the project. Respond to the prompts within a week or so of their being posted on the classroom site. Of course, if the prompt is to do something throughout a month, I’ll comply.

January Prompt Response

The prompt was the same as past years, so I won’t dwell on that. Here’s how I responded in my notebook.

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I am off to take advantage of my last day of Lizzie being at her grandparents’ house. Lots of nothing for two hours. Quick stop at the farmer’s market we’ve gone to for over 10 years. Brunch then shopping with a friend which seems so much more DC-gal-in-her-30s than I actually am. Really, we just like food and both need something from the mall and don’t want to go alone.

I’ll be back with more on this whole bullet journaling thing in a few days.

WIP Wednesday: Setting up for 2020

Howdy, everyone! As always, I’ve set myself a goal  to blog more in 2020. It happens to be Wednesday, so figured I’d take the easy way out and blog about the current status of my WIPs. 2019 was a year of getting back to old crafts, so you’ll note a reappearance of embroidery, cross stitch, and sewing plus a new addition, shashiko. We’ve got lots of ground to cover, so we should get started right away.

And, yes, a new photo background. Matt now has a comfy couch in his office, so I’ll be hanging out with him in there and taking advantage of the good natural light and plain backdrop.

Knitting

Portage

Early in 2019, my friend RR and I made an agreement to exchange handmade items: I’d make her a sweater and she’d make me a quilt. We both started in February and we’re both working hard to get our respective projects completed.

It’s hard to take photos of a dark purple sweater WIP, so excuse the photos. I’ve finished the body, edging, pockets (except for sewing them onto the body), and most of the first sleeve. I’m waiting on an arm measurement so I can finish the sleeve and move on to the second one.

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Knitting on the sleeve while watching Lizzie play at a playground in my hometown
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Working on the veryyyyy long edging parts. My guess is there were over 500 live stitches at this point.

My quilt? She’s got the top all done and the layers basted together, with intentions to complete the edging and quilting while she’s out of town for the holidays. She’s a meanie who won’t share WIP photos but I requested blues and something traditional, as far as pattern.

(Ravelry project page is here. Not that I’ve made a pretty major design change and added length to account for her long torso.)

 

Syncopation Socks

I started this sometime in the summer for my now-former manager. I’ll be honest that I put them aside when he left our team for another opportunity. He’s also a good friend, so I plan to pick these back up as soon as I finish the socks I’m making for Lizzie (which I’ll show in just a bit). These have extra stitches to account for a dude’s wider feet. Hopefully I have a note somewhere as to his foot size…

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Close up of the pattern (Syncopation)

(Ravelry project page is here.)

 

Hat for Matt

After going to take photos while on a business trip to Denver in early October, Matt requested a warmer hat. I dutifully started one for him right away…then got distracted with other projects. I’m not sure what pattern I’ll use, but probably one of Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s genius ribbed hat patterns.

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Yarn is De Rarum Natura Cyrano (I think) in Merlot. (Note to self: Call fibre space and ask what yarn this actually is.)

No project link here as, well, it’s got nothing in it.

 

Bay’s Edge

I purchased one of the big 2-Ply Yummy gradient kits from the annual Miss Babs trunk show at my LYS. The first half was used for another shawl and I was left trying to figure out which of the MANY potential patterns to use the other half. I decided to combine it with one of Miss Bab’s lovely grays – think it’s Quicksilver but I’m not sure – and make Bay’s Edge. I put this aside to work smaller projects which were more portable, but it’ll get picked back up as my only-work-at-home project once Portage is done.

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(Ravelry project page here.)

 

Rider Cowl

I discovered a brand-new designer via a #knitstagram tagged post. This is her fourth design, the Rider cowl. The pattern is easy and just goregeous…if you don’t choose too busy of a yarn, as I did. I’m waffling back and forth as to whether I want to pull this out and remake it in a skein of pink Berroco Pure Wool DK I’ve had in stash for over a year. What do you guys think?

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There really is a lace pattern here, promise.

(Pattern page is here.)

 

Socks for Lizzie

I just started these the other day, after Lizzie requested a new pair of socks. I had the yarn out to make adult socks – obviously forgetting about the orange ones already in my WIP pile – and she pointed out how pretty the colors were. So, Lizzie socks they’ll be. I’m just doing a simple, vanilla sock with a short row heel.

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Barely a WIP, but a WIP, indeed.

 

Ya’ll still with me? Lots to go, still, so you may want to take a break and get more caffeine. The Internet will still be here  when you get back.

 

Cross Stitch

Mandala

I think I worked on this early in the 2019, but I’m not sure. There are still two or three more colors to add before this is complete. I’m using colors Lizzie selected and knitting on 32 count Monaco, two over two.

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Pattern is from Etsy. I need to look up who designed it.

 

Pretty Little Berlin

This was really the project that got me back into cross stitch. I started it in early November and brought it with me to Florida when my dad had surgery. I loved the city of Berlin when we visited in 2016 and snatched up the pattern from Satsuma Street right after we got back. I’d guess this is 80% complete.

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Fused bead needle holder made by my neighbor. Wrinkles in fabric are made by me.

 

Nutcracker Parade

Another new designer I found in 2019 was Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. They make the cutest patterns featuring little people and animals. I purchased the Aida kit for Nutcracker parade after the SAL started. I’m putting this aside for awhile as I’m rather Christmased out at this point.

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The sugar plum fairy and Clara and her nutcracker float are done, as well as the lettering and parts of the border you see here.

 

Embroidery

Sweet Kitty Cat

I purchased this as a kit when we were in Honfleur, France in May. The instructions were all in French but the images were  detailed enough that I could follow along. When complete, this will probably be hung in Lizzie’s room.

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If you’re ever in France, look out for the sweet patterns from this designer, whose name you can squint and see on the pattern page.

Embroidered Mandala

I picked up this pattern on a random trip to Joann’s with Lizzie, probably when we were in Florida. Not quite sure. I’ve barely, barely started this, it’s so intimidating. It’s not a pattern, per say, just an outline of one that you fill in however you would like.

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Need to work up some nerve to continue.

 

Shashiko

Sampler

I was inspired by January One to try out Shashiko. I purchased a little sampler (from Minature Rhino) and have made some good progress. By design, you’re to stab the needle through as many layers of fabric  as you can. Very therapeutic for stressful days. Guess that means it’s a good thing I haven’t felt a need to pull these out lately?

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All six tiles
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I’ve narly completed the second tile

Sewing

Gift Bags

I’ve not actually done any of the sewing for these, but I have done some prep. Fabric has been torn down to rough size for a dozen, with three actually cut out and ready to sew. I’m using the Runaway Bag pattern from Ellen Mason (via Etsy).

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Another project I’ll pick back up once Christmas over exposure has worn off, as most off the fabric is Christmas.

 

That’s it. Heh. I’m going to try and focus on completing these before I start anything new. Exceptions, of course, allowed because I make my own rules.

What’s in your WIP bin?

Staying Sane During Surgery Recovery

I won’t lie, surgery recovery is hard. You suddenly can’t do the things you used to be able to do, your body feels like it belongs to someone else, you have medication changes to keep track of, and you have lots of time to fill. You will find yourself feeling defeated, annoyed, lonely, and a million other things as you wait to get back to normal (or what now counts as your normal). How do you maintain sanity during this time? Here’s what I’ve learned the last few weeks.

Disclaimers: I had a right colectomy which was laparoscopic and had no complications, so many of these tips are focused  on recovery from that kind of surgery. More importantly, I’m not a medical professional (not even close), just a fellow patient. Your care team can guide you in whether something on this list is appropriate for your recovery.

Before Your Surgery

  • Ask your surgeon and/or GI doc any questions you have: Some are obvious – how long will I be in the hospital? How long until I can go back to work? What are potential complications? You probably have a pre-op appointment shortly before your surgery and this is the time to ask anything that pops into your head. They’ve probably been asked all sorts of questions before, especially if the patient hadn’t had surgery before. Be sure to ask what you do if, on the day of your surgery, you have to cancel for illness or weather.
  • Figure out when you’ll get back to work: You may able to telecommute, work part-time in the office, work fewer hours at first, or make some other special arrangement. Reach our to your boss or HR to find out your company’s policies. Because of the nature of my job, I can’t work from home so this meant I did zero work until my doctor cleared me to go back in person. I also chose not to go back until I could work full time, but that was dictated by it being the holiday season rather than corporate policy or how I was feeling.
  • Plan for who will help you at home: This isn’t just to ensure you have help taking care of yourself, but also help doing the things you normally do. Household chores. Paying bills. Taking care of children and/or pets. Figure out who will do what so you need not worry about it once you’re home. (And, for really critical things, try to find a backup.)
  • Ask for in-person visits or remote ones (audio or video): Friends and family may assume that you just want to be left alone or that you don’t want to be seen in your condition. If you do want to be visited in the hospital, say so. If you want to chat with someone on the phone, call them (or text first, if you’re me). I was lucky that Matt was able to spend one entire day with me plus some shorter visits here and there, but I also reached out to my parents and a good friend/neighbor during the times he had to be home to take care of Lizzie or work or, you know, get an actual decent night of sleep in his own bed.
  • Pack a bag with what you’ll need while there: I did this in a backpack to make it easier for Matt to transport it around until I had a room. I threw in things I needed to entertain myself, a robe, several changes of comfy and stretchy clothes, phone charger, headphones, toothpaste and toothbrush, lotion, and chap stick. I also made sure I had my insurance card and government-issued ID in an easily accessible pocket to make registration easier.
  • Follow all instructions you’re given by your doctor and/or hospital: Whatever the staff tells you to do – or not do – in the days before your surgery, do it. I had to shower using a special soap and go without makeup, lotion, and lip balm and had to only take a sub-set of my usual medication.
  • Find something to amuse yourself in the hospital that’s low-key: You’ll want something that doesn’t require a ton of thought or energy but can keep you amused. Television, audiobooks, crossword puzzles (easy ones), and coloring are great ideas. For me, this was mostly watching hours of HGTV on the hospital television. We don’t get the channel at home, so this was a treat for me. I also did a bit of knitting, though it often wore me out very quickly. I brought a journal and books with me, both of which remained in my backpack for the length of my stay.
  • Bring along a robe and your own undies: You can certainly get another robe to cover your backside and get some of those super-sexy disposable undies, but you’ll feel that much more human if you have your own. You may or may not be able to put on your own clothes during your stay, so be sure to ask before you change into yoga pants and a t-shirt. I was simple too sore to put on normal clothes and, due to the location of my incisions, it would have been very difficult to get through wound checks had I not been in a robe.

In the Hospital

  • If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask for it: Weather you’re in pain, need help going to the bathroom, or need another glass of ice water, don’t be afraid to ask for it from the staff. They’re there to help you and you’re not being a bother. Mind you, don’t abuse this ability by asking for something every hour as you’re not the only patient, but the staff would much rather you ask then try to do something yourself that could lead to a fall or similar.
  • Take those walks: For abdominal surgery, the protocol at my hospital was to get up and walk around (with assistance) as soon as possible post-surgery. This meant stumbling along with a walker and trailing nurse in the PACU then walking with a supportive IV pole and tech…and, eventually, walking by myself for loops around the unit. It will be difficult, but it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel after you do it. Again, ask for help if you need it. I needed help every time I got up from my med – though I did my best to spend most of the day in a chair  – and needed help walking the first few times. I stuck to walking around my unit but you may be able to walk to another part of the hospital.
  • Remember the names of your care team members: Many hospitals ask you to complete a survey or have some sort of an employee recognition program. If you have a particularly great (or poor) experience with a member of your team, make sure you note their name down somewhere to make completing those easier. I was lucky to have a great team which included a nurse who stayed with me for a full hour after I had a panic attack, a tech who sang showtunes to distract me from a 3 am blood draw, and a pair of residents who were extremely understanding of my, er, lack of pleasant demeaner during 5 am rounds.

After You’re Home

  • Keep up with medication schedules and other instructions: If there’s something you were told to do in your discharge instructions, do it. I know, sounds obvious but I feel the need to say it directly. If you have to do multiple things throughout the day, you may want to draft up a little schedule for yourself. I had one pain killer every 6 hours, one every 8, and my normal meds to worry about. A written schedule and alarms on my phone were the only reason I could keep track of it all.
  • Don’t do anything on your no-no list: Don’t take a bath or lift heavy objects or whatever your discharge instructions tell you not to do. It will be hard, as you’ll have to ask for more help than you’re probably used to having. Your hospital will have ensured you have that help at home before they let you go, so take advantage of it. Call or text or holler across the house if you need someone to do something for you.
  • Don’t worry that you’re not getting things done: I am not someone who is good at being non-productive so I had to learn that recovery from surgery is getting something done. The dishes and laundry and paying bills are not your responsibility but whoever is there (or can come over) to help you. Throw away your to do list, if you have to. Focus on relaxing and recovering.
  • Continue to keep yourself amused: I started by watching TV almost all day and doing a bit of journaling from my couch. After a few days, I felt well enough to sit at the dinning room table and browse the internet for a good portion of the day.
  • Reach out to friends: Just like when you were in the hospital, you’ll probably have to reach out to folks to get together or chat on the phone. I’ll be honest, I got sick of only being around and talking to family  after awhile. I made a lunch date with a friend, went and hung out at my local yarn store, and chatted online with a friend I hadn’t talked to in years.
  • Slowly get back to normal: As you feel better, don’t rush to get back into your normal routine. Add back in chores one at a time, starting with things like putting away clean silver wear or getting the mail. Yes, that’s the level of energy I had when I first got home. I didn’t empty the dishwasher until a full week after I was home, it took too much energy (and bending over wasn’t much fun, either). If you start to do something and it’s too much, STOP.

Anyone else have any tips for surviving surgery recovery with you sanity intact? Share them in the comments.

 

 

One Little Word 2019: Present

I’m participating in Ali Edwards’s online course for One Little Word again this year. If you’re not familiar with the concept, I won’t try to paraphrase Ali but point you over to her page about OLW. My words in previous years were WORTHY (2013), ENJOY (2015), and CONNECT (2016). I’ve never been great about completing the course or, if I’m honest, even keeping my word at the front of my mind all year.

My word this year: PRESENT

Materials for the Year

Most folks who participate do so as a scrapbooking exercise, using Ali’s recommended materials, both digital (included in the class) and physical (not included in the class). I tried the scrapbook approach before but it just didn’t work out well for me. I worried too much about it being pretty enough. I’m using a Leuchttrum 1917 dot grid notebook and am going to try to keep things very straight-forward and simple. Couple pens or markers. Some washi. Maybe a sticker or two.

January Exercise

This January, like in previous years, Ali encouraged participants to respond to a series of short prompts/journaling exercises. I’ve included copies of my responses, below. You can see how minimal I’m trying to go with this, a plain Sharpie pen and some fun washi to mark the edge of the page that starts the month.

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I’ll share more about my OLW journey next month with how January went and my responses to the February exercise. If you’re also in the class, look for me in the Facebook group and say hello.

WIP Wednesday: 26 December 2018

Welcome to the very last WIP Wednesday of 2018! I did some finishing, some knitting, and some frogging this week. Lots can get done when you’re off work and don’t have many errands nor chores to get done.

Finished – Dotted Rays

Lizzie claimed the Dotted Rays as her own so I finished it up – with about 50% not yet used – and gave it to her.  Mind you, she’s not actually worn it yet. Oh, 5 year-olds! (Ravelry project page is here)

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Finished – Sockhead Slouch

When I was making this hat, I had no idea who it would be for. Then, it came to me, our amazing mail carrier! She’s always careful to take all of my (many) letters and the occasional bill and is never bothered by a little snow or a cluttered front step. (Ravelry page is here)

 

Frogged – Adventurer Cowl

I decided that this did need to get frogged to I could re-start it with fewer stitches. I also decided I wouldn’t re-start it right away but wait until I was in more of a mood to knit a lace cowl. Maybe this Spring?

New Start and Finish – Knots Coming Untied

This project started out as a Tied Knots hat for Matt out of Berroco Ultra Wool DK. After completing the first cabled chart, I had him try it on. While it does fit, it’s rather snug. Thought about it for awhile and decided to go a different direction. The new recipient is one of the neighbor kids and I didn’t do more cables but followed (very roughly) the Saku pattern for the remainder of the hat. (Project page is here.)

 

New Start – Tale as Old as Time

This project is more inspired by than closely following the pattern I’m using. I just sort of picked up needles and started on it, only to realize after that I have a pattern for exactly what I’m trying to make (a long, stockinette tube to be turned into a cowl). Too lazy to re-start, I’m going to keep going and hope I can make sense of how to finish it when the time comes. I’m going to work on this here and there as the mood strikes. More photos will come once something exciting happens with it. Otherwise, it’ll just get added to my WIP report the weeks I work on it. (Project page is here.)

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New Start – Cradle Me

A few months ago, I bought this yarn (Socks That Rock BFL) from someone’s destash on Instagram. The color is beautiful and the hand so lovely, I had to use it for a special project. I decided to use it to make a blanket. This is one of those knits that will find a recipient when it’s complete. I’m just happy to knit with this yarn. No photo for now as I’ve only done a few rows of the garter stitch border. (Project page is here.)

What’s in your WIP pile this week?

WIP (Bag) Wednesday: 19 December 2018

One of my goals for 2018 is to keep my WIPs to such a limited number that they’ll fit in the custom Fringe Supply bag I picked up at my LYS (fibre space) back in November. Well, we won’t count sweaters as the bag can hold a sweater WIP only without anything in there, but we all know I only knit one of those a year, anyway. And, well, my current WIPs don’t entirely fit.

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So, let’s see what I’ve got in there this week…

Adventurer Cowl

I had this queued as soon as I saw it pop up on my Instagram feed. I’m using two colors of Miss Babs 2-Ply (Orchid is the purple and Threshold is the green) and Hedgehog Fibers Twist Sock in Concrete. I’ve done one repeat thus far, all done on Monday as I watched too many episodes of The Ranch in a row. I put it aside as I’m trying to decide if I want to pull out my progress and do one or two repeats less. It’s quite wide and I’m worried it won’t be very long with the amount of yarn I have left (about 450 yards). The pattern does have some fiddly rows though, so I’m putting it aside to really think through what I want to do with it.

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Sock Yarn Scraps Blanket

This project will pop its head in every now and then. That large ball of yarn represents all of the leftover sock yarn that’s less than ~100 yards per color. I’m making simple mitered squares which expand to be 100 stitches wide and 8″ or so square. This one is square 5. Think I’ll try to use this as my default running-errands project as it’s quite small to haul around. Well, it would be if I hadn’t decided this morning to roll all of that yarn into a single ball for the mere purpose of seeing how large it would get.

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Sockhead Slouch Hat

I made a ton of these over the summer. Yes, summer. This one is in Socks That Rock Heavyweight in the colorway Royal. I’ve just gotten past the ribbing so have a good 5″ or so still to go before the crown decreases. I get a few rows done on this here and there, mostly right after I climb into bed. I’m hoping to finish before the New Year.

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Dotted Rays (Mine! All Mine!)

As I’ve probably shared on here before, I can work with most wools but can’t stand to have any of them against my neck or arms. This means any projects I actually want to keep for myself have to be made in acrylic or cotton. This is yet another Dotted Rays shawl, but being done in Lion Brand Mandala in the Unicorn colorway so I can keep it for myself. Nice and subtle to throw on my shoulders when I’m chilly at work or wear with a black t-shirt and jeans on the weekend. If I had to guess (too sore to stand up at the moment to get the scale), I’d say it’s about 25% complete at this point. I really want to get this done before the New Year so I an wear it when I go back to work.

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Anastasia Socks

I had every intention of keeping these for myself, then I finished the entire first sock and realized that it was too large. So, I put out a call for recipients and my friend said they’d fit her sister perfectly. Excellent. I actually lost this WIP for a few weeks, hiding in my office here at the house. I’ll pick these up and make some progress whenever I feel like working on socks again which could be a little while.

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What are you all working on lately? Rushing to finish holiday knits or knitting what you please, like me?