A Bump in the Road

I’m not sure if it’s just this way for me, or for everyone, but I can’t recall a single road I’ve traveled that didn’t have a few bumps along the way. Even when I was a kid and played on the Slip ‘N Slide (remember these?), I would manage to catch the only rock under the plastic. I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and even the things that I felt came easily to me were actually quite difficult roads. Yes, maybe I was an A-student in grade school, but I had to do that while changing schools multiple times, sometimes in the middle of the school year. Taking care of kittens comes naturally to me – I hand-raised my first one when I was thirteen years old – but there have been quite a few deaths along the way. We won’t even go into all the yarn craft mistakes I’ve made.

I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes I have to wonder, “Why me?” just like anyone else might. What did I ever do to deserve that nothing should just simply work out, the way it does for my husband. On the other hand, I do rise to every challenge, and that is one quality that I actually like about myself. I never assume something is too hard until I try and fail. I don’t like the failing, but I’m not afraid for it to happen.

That said, I’ve been plugging away at my WIP list. It’s the only goal I’ve been managing lately, but I’ve also gotten into a spring cleaning phase that was never an explicit goal, but should have been. I guess it all evens out. As for the WIPs, I’ve finished two (I think) projects this week.

  1. The Monkeys are finished! One of them has a tighter cuff than the other, but I can get it on my foot, and that’s all that matters. I now have three pairs of hand-knit socks in my drawer. Now that I live somewhere with snow, the wool socks just seem that much more valuable to me.
  2. I finished the circular rug! Well, maybe. The pattern calls for a border, but I’m not sure I want to put one on. I can’t decide if it’s laziness or if I really think it looks good without one. The cats think it’s great the way it is, but I want to make sure that the friend for whom I made it will like it just as much.

The circle rug was surprisingly tough project to sew up. Setting aside the fact that I hate sewing in the first place, I just made so many mistakes.

As I was sewing the rug up, it seemed to go ok, until I looked at it from the side.

The center just rose right out of the rug, like a giant nipple.

I understand geometry, so I should have been able to head this off at the pass. In the beginning, I joined the garter ridges in a one-to-one ratio. The problem is that ratio makes a shape that resembles a cylinder more than a circle (think socks); hence, the bump. The solution is to join more garter ridges from the outer, un-joined part of the strip to a single ridge in the inner portion. It’s a bit of an art to figure out just how many to join, but it’s mostly just math. Pi is 3.14: therefore I should have started by joining three outside ridges to one inside. I didn’t think of that right away, and instead joined two to one. I got this:

It’s more like a zit than a nipple now. Not perfect, but much better.

The art of the joining lies in the fact that I’m making a spiral. Elizabeth Zimmerman designed a pi shawl that spaces increases regularly throughout the project, resulting in a circle. Unlike the shawl, there aren’t distinct rings in the circle rug, so I had to judge where and how I should increase largely by feel. When I crochet, this is simple: every row is increased by the same number of stitches. If I start out with six stitches, the next row should have twelve, then eighteen, then twenty-four, ad infinitum. I can mark each row, even if I do it in a spiral instead of distinct rings, and  make it work mathematically. Somehow, even though I know I should be able to solve this with math, I could not apply the same logic to sewing up a pre-made garter stitch strip. No matter, the rug is finished now and I declare it good enough. Moving on.

Although it’s not finished, I have made progress on the Everyday Tweed sweater. I managed to deal with the slightly different dye lots in the yarn by separating the differently colored sections with a band of color work. I’ll reveal it when I’ve finished.

Now, I know I made the rule about finishing three projects before I cast on a new one. There’s a little stumbling block in that plan, too. Michael and I are going to New York City next week for a business trip, and I’d like to have socks to knit on the plane. I’ll bring the sweater with me as well, but in coach class seats, it’s much easier to work on something small like socks. I’m a little ashamed of myself, but as long as the sweater is completed before the socks, I think I can justify the premature cast-on.

There has also been a bump in my road to recovery. For most of last month, I was doing comparatively well. Sure, I had to increase my dose of the new supplement by a little bit a few times during a week, but I could make it so I had the energy for just a few hours a day to focus and complete long-neglected tasks. My doctor noted a lot of changes in me as well – he said he could see the improved mental clarity, my posture and mannerisms changed to reflect a more serene mind, and he noticed I was more willing to stand up for myself. As of a week ago, I noticed I was feeling a little more run-down despite all my efforts: I figured it was just because I was acting on my new found energy and I just needed to build up endurance.  Alas, it is not so. Last week, the fevers started coming back with increasing duration and frequency. I had to lie down and rest more. This weekend a whole new symptom popped up. A friend pointed out on Friday that my face started to turn red at the same moment as I noticed my temperature rising. The next morning, I noticed that when my fever restarted I had what looks like a light version of the malar rash associated with lupus (an endocrinologist ruled out lupus a few years ago, so it’s not that).  By the end of the day, my chest and arms looked like I had gotten a sunburn, despite the fact that I hadn’t been outside all day. It had mostly subsided by the time I woke up today, but I am willing to bet the redness will come back as I get more tired.

This setback is the reason I was reluctant to share my good news a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to put it in writing because I thought it might generate a little false hope on my part – and it did. Not so much that I am totally crushed by the recurrence of new, unexplainable symptoms, but I am disappointed. I thought I was finally on to something. I guess we are getting more clues, but it’s just so sad that the improvements don’t last long. On the other hand, it was great to have the reprieve. It tells me that I can feel good, it’s just a question of finding the cause and addressing it.

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