Friday, November 19, 2010

The Busy Season and the Bad, Bad Knees

A few minutes ago, I picked up the beret I was knitting and stitched my way about one-fourth of a round. Suddenly I realized that my cables had disappeared. I had turned over the hat and stitched on the wrong side. I took out the errant stitches and decided it was time for a break. I've been knitting furiously for days. Yesterday I finished an earflap cap in organic cotton, then immediately started a bright beret in Noro Silk Garden and Silk Garden Lite. When I finished the beret, I wanted to line up work for today, and I grabbed a ball of Kureyon and began the band for another beret.

That's the pace I've been keeping. This is my busy season and I want to have plenty of beautiful pieces on my table at the Market and in my Etsy store, as well as my custom pieces for Larues. It makes my heart swell to see a piece turn out better than I imagined, and I've vowed to only produce things that I love. Unfortunately, if I keep running my body like a machine, I'll end up with tendinitis and have to take a prolonged rest instead of this morning break.

Last night I struggled with my plans for the remainder of the season. I had hoped to sell at the Market weekly until the middle of December, but the first two weekends wore me down a good bit and pointed out the severe difficulty with my arthritic knees. I've written a good many "doctor notes" advising people to stop activities that are not good for their conditions, but I can't afford to have one for myself right now. I can only pay my bills if I add handiwork to Social Security. I'll have to keep working on opportunities to sell my work that don't involve lugging many pounds of heavy equipment, loading it in and out of my car, setting up and taking down my equipment and products and the long hours in the booth doing customer service (my favorite part of market sales).

With this disease, I find myself compromising at times. Take the knees. For more than a month I've endured the severe pain and difficulty standing and walking. I didn't want them injected with steroids because I know the effect it has on my metabolism and weight. Finally, last week I gave in and started a hefty steroid taper, taking my prednisone up to 40 mg daily and gradually bringing it down over two weeks. If I had been in town I could have gone to my rheumatologist for intraarticular injections, but I was out of town and had to settle for increasing steroids orally. My knees are better and I'm not hollering when I stand up. It makes me much better company. The compromise is in dealing with side effects. Makes me want to growl.

Today is lesson day. The two young girls that I am teaching will be over after school. It's good incentive for me to do some picking up. I can get so focused on work that my home (which is my workplace) is neglected. My Hoover could use a bit of work.

Today I'm writing about such ordinary stuff that I wonder why it should be here. My life is ordinary with the usual hassles that affect everyone. They don't go away because I have lupus or because I'm neck-deep in a new creative venture. Sometimes I'd like to daydream them away. Hah.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Turtlefat Collection Goes Retail and I Can Write Again

The only thing that could keep me from blogging for almost two months is the need to keep a secret. Finally I can reveal what made me keep silent! Only a couple of people knew that my handknits were being considered for retail sale in a lovely Minneapolis boutique. Last week, Larues officially gave me my first order! I am thrilled beyond belief. I never thought my hats and gloves would find their way to a sweet, fashionable, modern store like Larues! My baby sister lives in Minneapolis and shops there, and she thought we'd be a good match, so she asked me to send her some samples to take in. Thanks, Dot!

Meanwhile, I had to get back into the swing of the Chattanooga Market, so I've had three days of great sales and fun there. With a limited display I can do setup and breakdown alone. I will have to endure whatever weather we have for the next few weeks, but this year the Market will have two weekends of preChristmas sales at an indoor venue! I'm going to be at Warehouse Row on the 10th and 11th of December, and again on the 17th and 18th. Hurray for working warm.

I hate to mention health right now. I am really feeling my weight. My knees hurt terribly with any walking or standing, and even sometimes when there's no weight on them. My fracture is healed by x-ray, but I still have a good bit of work to get my full motion and strength back in the right arm. I am having digestive problems and hoping it doesn't herald another episode of colitis. I've been free of it for years, and it has only occurred rarely, so I can't remember if indigestion and stomach pain preceded it before. I just remember having bloody bowel movements. I'm not anxious to have another colonoscopy but if it recurs I certainly will.

I've been looking into surgical weight loss procedures. I think I've exhausted my alternatives. I can't make my body handle the prednisone any better. I'm not making headway using a very sensible, reduced calorie diet. My exercise options have shrunk drastically. I'm ready to start seeing surgeons. (The time is now...did the Walrus say that because she had a big belly, too?)

The good good news is that I am inundated with design ideas. They are in my head multiplying all the time. I'm excited by color and texture to a ridiculous degree - a gorgeous hank of hand-dyed yarn can make me tear up. I showed some of my recent favorites. The hot pink with navy accents is Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. The flowers are crochet. The blue/gray/tan beret is knit with Noro Silk Garden, one of my all-time favorite yarns. The combination of silk, mohair and a touch of wool always feels great to me, and I admire Noro for his perpetual production of organic yarns using innovative, ecofriendly processes. The tan scarf with the ruffled edge is organic cotton. I've had enough people tell me they don't tolerate animal fibers to convince me that it is worth making some winter hats and scarves from the bulkier, thick organic cottons like this Blue Sky undyed. The scarf pin is a hand-dyed polished wood from one of my favorite Etsy stores, South 4th. I've used a number of his beautiful pins and buttons. Just running my fingers over them is soothing.

Enough! I am running over with conversation because of my long absence. I can write more later.