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It’s been awhile. I’m having a difficult family time at the moment that will not get better just worse. It’s clear that my parents are both at the end of their lives. My responsibility is to shepherd them through to the end. I didn’t understand that part about shepherding. I was trying to make it all better, fighting against what naturally happens at the end of lives, trying to “turn back the clock” so to speak. That all came crashing down around me and I kind of crashed along with it.

Mom and Dad both fell. They are 87 and still live in their own home. They are desperately possessive about their independence. When I got the hysterical call from mom that she and dad were hurt, Skip and I both got to their house in under 10 minutes.

Head wounds bleed a lot. Head wounds of people who are on blood thinners due to previous heart attacks bleed a copious amount. When I arrived I called 911. I tried to stem the bleeding. By the time the emts and the police arrived I had gone into shock. I was still functioning but in shock.

I spent the evening in the emergency room with them. The hospital said it would admit them. Of course. At 2 am I went back to their home and proceeded to clean all the blood up and out. I washed, scrubbed, scoured, made sure there wasn’t a speck of blood anywhere. I was still in shock of course.

The next day I was told by the hospital that dad had vascular dementia. Progression unstoppable. The forgetting, and misplacing of things was not somethingĀ little. It was part of a bigger disease that would take him down.

When the hospital released them I took them home. Things I hadn’t noticed about dad became more apparent. The vascular dementia was moving along. On the second day out of the hospital, dad started running a fever. Whenever he does that we have to get him to the hospital right away because it is a urinary infection. In the recent past, the infection has caused him to lose a kidney. Another night spent in the emergency room. He is still hospitalized.

Mom and dad work like a unit together. What one can’t do the other can. With dad in the hospital, mom can’t really function. She is in the middle of heart failure and all the symptoms associated with that. I have to be there for her most of the day. I run between her house and the hospital.

Yesterday I was so tired, I myself fell on the steps coming up into my own home. I thought the knee cap was broken, but it just seems to be terribly banged up. Today, I will do the same thing as I did yesterday. Take care of mom, then go the hospital and see dad.

Shepherding is not easy. It is so full of emotions I don’t want to feel: loss, fear, panic, despair. But I remind myself it is not about me. This is their time and I need to be fully present for it in a calming, soothing, positive way.

This is what I’ve been up to lately. Just trying to keep it together.

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Yarn Rascal has been heavily into rearranging things in the Yarn Vault of late. He seems to be doing it by grouping like colors. I know what they say that dogs “can’t see color” but I don’t think that is true. Every dog I’ve had knew colors. The other night Yarn Rascal was into the browns and russets. I don’t have a lot of these particular colors but he managed to separate the few I have from the rest of the herd.

One particular skein he pulled out was Jill Draper’s sock yarn in Violin. It’s a lovely russet and it has a touch of cashmere in it. I used to stock up on Jill Draper sock yarn, but since she’s changed her base the colorways don’t seem as vibrant and clear. Needless to say what little I have left of Jill Draper I absolutely cherish and would only use if the pattern perfectly matched the yarn.

Well I did find a sock pattern on Ravelry that was just made to be paired with the Violin colorway. It was in the Free Pattern Testers and I almost applied to be a tester except that I have such difficulty getting 8 stitches per inch. I usually modify sock patterns that catch my eye to fit my usual gauge of 7 stitches per inch. I didn’t want to modify a test.

Last night I went on Ravelry thinking I would ask the designer to earburn me when the pattern was up for sale. No matter where I looked I couldn’t find the pattern. I thought the deadline of the test was early December, but I couldn’t find it. Naturally I don’t remember the name of the pattern but I tried all kinds of tag words that might call up the pattern. Nada. I even scoured the closed tests and came up with nothing.

I’m a wee bit disappointed because the forever shawl looks like it’s going to be complete this weekend, providing the knitting gods don’t get involved, and I wanted some small project to transition to. For now the Jill Draper stays in the yarn vault as one of those precious museum skeins.

Just when you think everything has been said or written about yarn and its relationship to a knitter or crocheter another issue pops up. This weekend I came to the conclusion that there needs to be a book of etiquette for non yarn lovers. A little tome on what not to say and how not to act in the presence of the yarn lover’s stash no matter how big the stash nor the number of rooms it appears in. For the yarnaholic, that stash represents a life time of many hours of thought and searching to acquire just the right yarn, weight, color, and composition. The stash is symbolic of possibilities, aspirations, safety and security, not to mention sanity. Every skein, cake, ball of yarn has a story behind it and a future of endless promise.

When in the presence of a yarnaholic and her stash do not glance about and say “Look at all this yarn. What are you going to do with it?” The answer is use it of course, but maybe not right away. It stands between me and the abyss of nothingness. As long as I have yarn I have hope. For if all else fails I still can knit and create. Should the apocalypse come I’m going to be the one with the socks, shawls, hats, gloves and sweaters and the ability to make more. What will you be wearing?

Another comment the non yarn lover needs to avoid is “Why don’t you sell some of this stuff. Do you know how much money you could have?” The answer is if you think the stash is pricey you haven’t been acquainted with the cost of owning and running a sheep farm with five alpacas and cashmere goats and angora rabbits. As far as selling any of it I would no more consider doing that than I would selling my dog or nephews.

Despite The Skippers attacks on the yarn stash this arrived this weekend much to the delight of Yarn Rascal and myself.

Twisted Fiber Art Yarn in Muse in the colorway called Mirage. Composition is merino wool with a hint of cashmere. I bought it with cashmere because Yarn Rascal so does love a good merino cashmere mix and he helped pick it out. What am I going to do with it? Appreciate it for awhile and then work it up into a scarf.

The Forever Shawl

Of course that is not its real name. The shawl is called Carol’s Frequency.

When I first saw the pattern I could imagine it in autumnal colors that were a touch rustic. I found the yarn to suit that vision in Schoppel Woole Zauberball Crazy. I don’t remember the name of the colorway.

The shawl is worked entirely in short rows, wave by wave. While the pattern promo says there is no wrapping, what the designer has done instead is create a one stitch float which you pick up and with the stitch it floats across you knit both through the back loop. Most of the time this closes up the holes created by short-row work. However, at least once or twice in a row of waves a large hole appears which is due to the short-row work. I have this thing about holes. I hate them existing where they shouldn’t and would knit hanging upside down from a chandelier even though I am afraid of heights if it meant getting rid of them. I had to address this hole problem.

What I did was pick up the float and then go into the small cross bar of the stitch in the row below and pull that up. Then I knit the float and the stitch, and cross bar together through the back loops. It closed up the holes nicely.

So this is what I am currently working on. I still have a bit of a way to go before I can start the bind off and while this has been a frustrating knit at time, I do really like the way it is starting to look.

As I’ve said, I’ve been in a bit of a rut looking for knitting inspiration. I like projects where I learn new techniques. Lately, I’ve been taken with using multi-colored yarn in ways that break up the usual stripes. Here are three projects that have caught my interest.

I actually purchased some yarn for this particular scarf and am looking forward to trying it out.

This is not a knit. It is a technique called slip slope crochet. It’s been a long while since I’ve picked up a crochet hook, but I can’t resist how well the technique manipulates the yarn. It is the crochet version of short-row knitting.

This is a stitch design by Svetlana Gordon. If your not familiar with her work check out her projects. They are mind-blowing.

Painting the House

I’ve been up to my eyeballs with a lot of stuff. The biggest of the projects was painting the inside of an entire house, walls and ceilings. It’s one of two houses owned by my mom that my great-grandfather built back in 1893. I love both of the houses and spending time to care for them. I thought, mistakenly of course, that painting all 7 rooms and taking time to be alone with my thoughts would be relaxing in a meditative sort of way. It would be just the break I needed from knitting the forever shawl–a shawl that will never end. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t know how professional painters calculate the amount of paint needed to complete a project. I, however, calculate that out of one can of paint 60% of the paint will end up on the walls and 40% will end up on me. For ceilings my calculation is 50% ceiling and 50% me, the ladder, the tarps on the floor with splatters on the wall. It is amazing to me how so much paint can get on so many things other than walls and ceilings. I had paint on my cell phone, in my hair, somehow it got in the car, my sneakers were trashed with paint. At the end of a day I looked like something one would see on Halloween night. I had paint on my face that I peeled off like a facial mask. The paint in my hair acted like sculpting gel and my hair stuck out in all kinds of spikey ways from my head. Still I kept on painting.

On the third day I realized that I had developed a distinct wheeze at the top of my left lung. I had spent the last few days paint in a house that was never above 60 degrees (15 C). Since it was on the left side where I had my mastectomy and radiation treatments I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I now had lung cancer. I spent two more days of torture painting and being alone with my thoughts which now all centered around lung cancer. After all, that was what happened to my friend. The radiation treatment for her breast cancer caused her lung cancer that she is now battling.

I finally went to the doctor. He listened to my chest proscribed and antibiotic and cough medicine. I thought he was nuts. Antibiotic and cough medicine for lung cancer? He said it was acute bronchitis. But by this point I had spent so long with my own thoughts that I insisted on an x-ray to prove him wrong. I went down to the hospital to get the x-ray and went through a prolonged check in procedure.

Three days later I call my doctor for the results. I was standing on the ladder doing the ceiling as paint dripped down my arm. He didn’t have the results. I called the next day and the day after. Same thing: no results. While repainting the door I inadvertently leaned against while it was still wet, I decided to call the hospital and see what the hold up was all about. I had just dipped the brush into the can and was going to apply it to the door when the hospital employee tells me they have no record that I was ever there. I heard the paint splatter as it dripped from the brush onto my sneakers. How could that be?

My lung was really getting worse and I was wheezing more. I needed to get the paint job done. I didn’t have time to chase my x-rays all over the hospital so I decided I’d wait until next month when I saw my oncologist to get a verdict. Then the bill arrived from the hospital for the x-ray. That’s when I decided to take some time off from painting and go down there and straighten this mess out.

It took half the day, but in the end they did find the x-ray. No I don’t have lung cancer, but I do have acute bronchitis. They told me to take the antibiotics the doctor prescribed.

The painting of the house is done. My course of antibiotics is done, but I still have the bronchitis. I went to my doctor yesterday and he says there is nothing more he can do. This seems ludicrous. So once again I am waiting to see my oncologist to see if he has some suggestions as to what can be done or whether this is something I am going to have to live with.

In the meanwhile I am knitting the forever shawl and charging the battery to my camera so I can show you a picture of it.

I am still here. So much has gone on with mom and dad and their health and my having to assume their business responsibilities that I haven’t been able to find the time or energy to post. I am hoping to find a balance.

On to knitting. Is it just me or is there a dearth of knitting inspiration out there? Barnes and Noble does not carry either Vogue Knitting or Interweave anymore. Brooklyn Tweed hasn’t really published a group of projects for autumn nor has Twist Collective. What sources for projects do you look at?

Right now I am still stuck on the short-row shawl. I’ve been near finishing the thing three times only to have to frog it all because of mistakes. It is becoming my forever project and I can’t find anything else I want to start knitting. The shawl needs to go into a time out, get itself together and behave. In short, it is driving me crazy.

I haven’t purchased new yarn in quite sometime because I can’t find a project I want to knit. Yarn Rascal is literally panting for new yarn to greet and meet. Unfortunately he has to wait. I have decided once again not to go to Rhinebeck for the wool festival. I just can’t see driving all that way only to be stuck in crowds and lines to see anything. I am not a big crowd person. It gives me claustrophobia.

I am toying with attempting to finish the sweater I was making myself. But I’d need to find where it is the stack of wips, then find what little directions I jotted down. I also think it is going to be too big. While I swatched, I didn’t wash and dry the thing. My knitter’s intuition tells me it is not going to fit as I want.

And so I am in a kind of funk.