Struggling Part 2

I know I mentioned my pain week from hell in the previous post, but here I am again, it's around 8:30 p.m. and I'm in bed in tears again. I'm so frustrated by my situation. My legs and feet are on fire - the skin feels like it is burning, stinging and intermittently being stabbed. Any kind of contact makes the pain worse, even something as minor as my pants moving or a bit of a breeze. And it's not like not doing those things really stops the pain either, no matter what I do it continues.

I've spent the last three-plus days in bed, just trying to suck it up and be hopeful that the pain decreases soon. Usually when I have these bad spells they last for a night or a day or two, but this bad stretch from Sunday night is killing me.

I tried calling the office of my pain management doctor yesterday to let them know that I am doing miserably and that my pain has been so bad that I'm hardly sleeping. It was a frustrating experience. The nurse told me that I can take up to six of my breakthrough pain pills each day. (Definitely not news to me, I've been doing that and I'm still experiencing really bad pain.) And the really (not-so) helpful bit: I can also take Ibuprofen! Because, you know, when the strong narcotics you are on for pain relief are not working, Advil will definitely be able to fix everything. The good news is that I'm on the wait list in case someone cancels their appointment. So there's a possibility that I'll get in to see my doctor sooner than mid-January.

I love my pain management doctor - she is always so helpful and understanding, and seems to really want to help me and get what I'm going through. I know that the nurse can't be expected to "fix" me, but it's frustrating to get told to take Advil. It's not like I've got an achy finger or something. I don't call up there unless I am really, really having trouble coping. I am in pain pretty much every day of my life these days, so I'm used to dealing with an average level of pain. It's just these bad stretches that I can't cope with.

My only other option is to go to the hospital and seek relief there, but I don't want to use that option unless I seriously feel like I am going to die otherwise. I worry that they will think I am just there for pain medication and that I'm overreacting about my pain. When it comes to nerve damage, I don't have a gaping wound that someone can point to and be all "ah, there's the problem." My problem is hidden in the nerves of my back, and unless someone knows my background, they might not see why I am hurting so much.

But I am. And I feel bad complaining to my family and friends. They are all very supportive and worry about me, but it's hard feeling like a burden to everyone and feeling like Debbie Downer. Sometimes I just wish I had someone to sit with me and rub my forehead.

/personal pity party

I hope next time I blog I'll be able to share something fun & crafty.



My pain has been beyond intense this week. I'm barely existing, much less getting anything productive done. I can't remember the last time I've had such a series of bad days like this. I don't know what else to try.


Another count

This is the second morning this week that I have woken up around 3 a.m. and not been able to get back to sleep. It's supremely annoying.

While I'm up though, I figured I might as well blog. :)

Inspired by my friend Natalie, I finally sat down and made a list of all my finished quilts. Sadly, that number - 26 - is only slightly bigger than my list of current WIPs! And that includes a quilted bag and pillow, because I thought my number was pretty abysmally small and I was trying to make it larger. And as selfish of a quilter as I am, I have given away or sold more than half, so I guess that's not too awful. Not great, but not so bad after all. That number also includes some baby quilts that I've made that I'm not super attached to, so I may try to list those on Etsy or give them as gifts in the future.

It's funny how many projects I almost forgot, especially those quilts that I gave away or don't see everyday. Ooh, I just remembered another one! (The quilt my mom and I made for my nephew Josh for graduation, so that makes 27.) I need to do a better job of keeping track of my projects. It'd be nice to have a record of how long I work on them and pictures of them all. I think I have pictures of most, but they're definitely not organized well.

Ugh. Not looking forward to getting out of bed and ready for work. Heaven knows the lack of sleep will kick in later! This is my last work day of the week though, since I'm taking tomorrow off as a vacation day. I'll be spending the day going to a dentist appointment, taking a trip to Joann Fabrics and quilting furiously trying to finish up some Christmas projects. Wish me luck!


Moving right along ...

Thankfully, this quilt IS on my list of works in progress! So, so close to being done.


The good and the bad

The good news is that I finished my first charity quilt! I am so excited to have this project done, because I have wanted to make a charity quilt for ages. This quilt was made for the Downy project, Quilts for Kids, which sends quilts to hospitalized children or kids that are abused. It's a really cool program that sends out fabric to volunteers, who then make a quilt and mail it back.

The bad news is that it took me sooooo long to finish the dang thing. Long enough that I got an e-mail from the organizers wondering if I was ever going to send the quilt back. I had good intentions. Really. When I got the kit in the mail, I got started on it right away and was making progress until I realized that some of the pre-cut pieces I had received were cut so wonky that it as impossible to assemble the quilt like it was supposed to be done. And heaven knows that I couldn't find any more of the fairy fabric they had sent me (that I thought was super ugly, but I think that's a personal issue of mine. I'm sure some kid will like it. I hope.). So then it sat. And sat some more.

After I got the e-mail about the delay, I finally pulled the quilt out again and improvised. I found some fabric in my stash that looked OK with the ugly fairies and got going again. I have to admit I like the changes I made, and I'm glad it will be a bit different than the other quilts made with the kits.


If you couldn't guess, the three center blocks with the appliqued hearts are the parts I improvised.

And a close up of the creepy fairies, complete with weird eyes and visible butt cheek.


I so wanted to name the quilt Fairy Lust, or Fairy Butts, but was able to restrain myself and stick to a more kid-friendly name of Fairy Dust. If you decide you'd like to make a quilt for the charity, don't worry ... almost every other fabric I've seen for these kits is much cuter.

I was so glad to get this sent out in the mail yesterday!

Edited to add: Another bad point - This wasn't even on my list of works in progress, so that means I still have 20 projects that I need to finish. Sigh.


I could really use the Count about now ...

This Count, of course.

Anyway. I was browsing quilt blogs last night and came upon one that had a poll asking readers about how many quilts they had in progress. This spurred me to think about my own backlog of projects and, after making a list, was even surprised by the extent of my WIPs.

Here's a rundown of some of my current projects, including some that are on hold from a really, really long time ago.

- Purdue quilt
- Peanuts quilt
- Zachary's graduation quilt
- Old Red Barn Co. quilt-along v. 1
- Old Red Barn Co. quilt-along v. 2
- Christmas quilt
- Pink, black and white quilt
- Half-square triangle layer cake quilt
- Prism strip quilt
- Novelty stars
- Black and white bee blocks
- Blue and yellow stars
- Four patch quilt I started when I was a kid (my mom was nice enough to put these together into a top for me)
- Postage stamp quilt
- Batik coin quilt
- Polka dot paper-pieced circles
- Wonky log cabin
- Black, white, purple and lime green starred log cabin
- Baby circus quilt (haven't made progress on this for more than five years. Whoops.)
- Odd kids pinwheel quilt (another that is sooo old and stalled out)

To save you from having to count, that's 20. TWENTY. And that's nuts. My quilty friends and I are discussing having another stash-busting contest next year. I think that is an awesome idea, not only to save money but to get some works-in-progress moving forward again!

Do you have a lot of works in progress, or are you one of those enviable quilters that is able to finish a project before starting another one - or five?



OMG, I really want this. It's from the American Girl store and it's so full of awesome.


OK, so it was more than one block

Remember my previous urge to do some hand-sewing? Well, it has turned out to be a little more lasting than I had expected.

Since the previous post, I've made two more blocks and have cut out the pieces for another one already. I've decided to use some of my novelty prints that have been sitting around for a while. I love novelty prints, but it's not always easy to work them into other quilts, unless they are for babies/kids or for someone like me that apparently never grew up. It's been fun working with the cute patterns and bright colors. It's definitely my style.

Here are the new blocks:



And the three together:


As much as I'm enjoying these, I have to put them aside for a while. One reason is that my friend's sister has asked me to make her a Purdue quilt, so it's back to black and gold fabric until I get that finished. (And started, but I've already bought some more Purdue fabric and more "gold." I have lots of black around.)

And another project I just finished was a slouchy dark gray beret that I knitted for myself, since it matches my coat and will look OK with just about any scarf I own. Of course, now that the hat is finished, the weather has turned bizarrely warm. Like 80 degrees warm. If I could guarantee the temperature would stay like this, I'd continue with the hat knitting!


Photo Friday








Did I mention I've been totally engrossed in taking pictures of the fall foliage lately?


I really hope this was on purpose ...

otherwise I'm really concerned about my neighbors' spelling skills.



Old school

Did I ever mention that the first two quilts I made - both around queen size - were done entirely by hand? My mom and I worked on the first one together, a Grandmother's Flower Garden, but the second one, a Seven Sisters pattern, was all me. It took FOREVER.

Anyway, I was a die-hard hand-piecer and hand-quilter. After a while, I finally got a sewing machine and started working with it. It was so hard to get used to! I finally did get acclimated, and now do a majority of my piecing and quilting on a sewing machine. I still have a few projects that I decide to hand quilt, but I hadn't hand pieced anything for a long time.

Until tonight. I'm not quite sure where the urge came from, but I was so in the mood to do some hand sewing. I busted out my template plastic, pencil, straight pins, needle and thread.

And here's the result:

I'm not sure if this will be a singular block (potholder, maybe?) or a small quilt or a big quilt, but it was nice to do things the old-fashioned way for a change.


Sunday stash - Super Saturday edition part 2

Due to my, uh, not-so-impressive restraint at the Rossville fabric store, I had enough fabric from that outing for two versions of Sunday Stash. I probably had enough for a third part, but I'll pretend that wasn't the case. Plus, there's lots more fabric in my stash for future editions.

I LOVE the fabrics in this first group. I'm thinking these colors as inspiration for a future quilt. I'd also love to have a bag with these fabrics, too. It would totally match my wheelchair.
From left (what info I could find): Fusions; Santorini by Lila Tueller; Shadows by Fabric Freedom in London, England; Floragraphix II by Jason Yenter; Floragraphix IV by Jason Yenter)

These two are from Plume by Tula Pink.

More Plume by Tula Pink. Love this line!

The colors in the photo below are really off. The one on the right is a sort of raspberry and white; the other one is a mix of light green, purple, cream & brown. Not sure what line the left one is from, the right is from City Blooms by Kitty Yoshida.

This is from Fandango for Henry Glass & Co. It's brighter in person.


It was mostly a cinch

Other than watching a really sad football game today, I sewed. And sewed. And sewed. It helped take my mind off all kinds of other things I really didn't want to think about. It wasn't completely successful in that regard, but at least I got some things accomplished, including these two cinch sacks. They are all finished other than adding the ribbon ties, but I think that part will be quick and easy.

I've had a pattern to make these "It's a Cinch Sack" bags forever. A couple months ago I cut out all the fabric I needed to make two of them, but stalled out. I kept putting them off, but had good intentions. After I finally started sewing them, they went together pretty easily. I had some trouble sewing over some of the thicker seams, but I went back over those little problem areas by hand and think they turned out OK.


Sunday stash - Super Saturday edition

Last weekend I was lucky to have some company, my mom, one of my sisters and her husband. It was so nice to have them here, especially since I have been having a rough time for a while.

On Saturday, they were nice (and patient) enough to take me to a nearby town to visit a local fabric shop. It is one of the few I've been lucky enough to go to lately and it definitely did not disappoint! It also happened to be the day of the Super Saturday sale and I found lots of good bargains and beautiful fabric. My mom, who is an avid quilter but very good about not buying too much fabric (that gene really did not get passed down), and my sister, who is not yet a quilter, both even found some fabric to buy.

Here are some of the ones I picked out.





Did you see the adorable elephants???


I don't have any definite plans yet for any of these, but couldn't pass them up. I will share some of the others soon!


I have no shame

I was very honored to serve as a guest blogger for I married a Polack yesterday for her regular "Random Thought Thursday" feature. I am sure this honor was bestowed on me for a number of reasons, which most likely include:

a) My huge blog following
b) The fascinating nature of my random thoughts
c) The low, low fee I charge for such requests

Why I was selected, is in no way whatsoever, related to the fact that we've been friends for more than 20 years and that I volunteered.

Because I'm lazy and have no shame, I am counting that post as a post here. If you are a reader other than Natalie (anyone? Bueller?), head over there to read my random thoughts and read her blog. She's awesome!


Sunday stash

In my opinion, one of the oddities of the quilting world is the challenge in finding good, red fabric. There is a lot of red fabric to be had, but the challenge is in finding a basic, primary shade of red. It's either too pink or too maroon. Too orange or too purple. It's pretty annoying, especially when I am looking for just the right color for a project. This also seems to be an issue with yellow and bright turquoise.

I bought these fat quarters in a little bundle at Joann's a while back. They happen to be a great basic red, so it didn't take much justification to buy them and add them to my stash.

Red fat quarters


In progress

In an effort to blog more often (did you notice it hasn't been over a month?), I'm going to try to post more projects that are in progress, rather than waiting until everything is finished. Heck, even if I posted all completed projects rather than posting about every fifth one it would help make my blog more interesting.

So anyway, in honor of Sock Saturday (ha, I love alliteration!), here's a pair of socks that are half-finished. These are Sheri's Posies Socks from the book "Socks From the Toe Up" and are made out of my own hand-painted yarn.

I had to temporarily put these aside because I misplaced my copy of the pattern. I have since started another pair of socks because I was in the mood to knit. And then I promptly found the pattern to these. Oh well. I hope to get back to these shortly and avoid the dreaded SSS (Second Sock Syndrome).




I love knitting socks! And wearing hand-knit socks is so awesome.


To re-skein or not to re-skein ... that is the question

One of the dilemmas I have faced since starting to dye yarn for my Etsy shop is whether to re-skein - i.e. re-wrap the yarn in a different sized skein - after dyeing. One of the issues is that the yarn sometimes looks a little messy after the dyeing process, since I end up using a mix of foam brushes, squirt bottles and my fingers to get the dye just where I want it in the quantity I want it in. This ends up with some really neat effects, but the yarn sometimes is off-kilter in the skein after it dries, which is sort of annoying.

Some knitters have a preference one way or another, either liking to see the original dyed product (to see how long the color repeats are) or prefer to see the colors all mixed together (so they can get the idea of how the fiber will look knitted up).

So far, I've just been leaving the yarn as is because I like the way it looks after being painted. And it saves me time, which is awesome, because I'm a low-tech kind of re-skeiner, wrapping it around a board in my apartment. Still, I was curious if it would make much of a difference.

One of my favorite skeins was this rainbow-colored beauty.



I had pretty much decided to keep this skein, so I decided to re-skein it, just to see how it would look.


Granted, this picture was taken indoors in not-so-good light, but this yarn definitely loses some of its luster post re-skeining. One of my favorite things about doing one-of-a-kind hand-painted yarns is the variety of tones, shades and color mixes I can achieve. It's kind of hard to notice that when it is re-skeined and twisted all together. I think I'll stick to the original skeins for now, as messy as they might appear.

Because they are prettier.

And quicker. :)



Have I mentioned how much I adore the new tilt shift camera app I have on my iPhone? (Probably not because I hardly ever blog). But oh, how I love this app. It's called TiltShiftGenerator and is so beyond awesome. It has the ability to make even crappy phone pictures look amazing.

Here are a few of my favorite recent shots.





(This last photo is from the garage sale!)



I've had a tough week. Or two.

My wheelchair of choice - of the sparkly pinkish/purplish variety - has been out of commission. I ran into a table at work - which I've done hundreds of times with little to no damage - and jarred something in the joystick, rendering it inoperable. Then my backup wheelchair started having issues, with the battery dying much, much quicker than normal. Oy to the vey!

Then one of my teeth started hurting, so I made an appointment to see my dentist. Being a bit lackadaisical in going to the dentist in a while has come back to haunt me. My sore tooth turned out to be two problem teeth, one of which needed a root canal and both needing crowns.

So finally it's Friday. I've been root canalled. Both wheelchairs have been fixed. Sounds like a great night to relax and make something crafty, right?

Not so much. My family is having a garage sale over Labor Day and I'm in the midst of sorting through all my belongings for crap* to sell. And trust me, there's a lot of crap.

It's going to be a long weekend.

*Note: Hippos and gorilla not for sale. They're definitely not considered crap!


I'm in business!

As mentioned previously, I've been very into knitting, dyeing and spinning lately. One of my favorite fiber-related things to do is hand-dyeing/hand-painting yarn. Well, as much as I wish it weren't true, I can't knit/crochet fast enough to get through the yarn I've purchased, not to mention the skeins I've been dyeing.

So anyway, I opened a new Etsy shop - little critter knits - with some of the yarns I've done so far.

And on Thursday I made my very first sale! I am so excited. Here is the skein, named Pink Grapefruit, that was purchased.


Here's hoping to more sales in the future!



I've been cheating.

On quilting.

I've been on a knitting/dyeing/spinning/crocheting bender. I'm starting to find more pieces of wool than pieces of thread stuck to my clothes. I never thought this would happen.

Can I admit though that I've been enjoying it? Who knew that dyeing yarn, knitting, crocheting and spinning would be so fun? I previously didn't think it could hold a candle to quilting. Taking pieces of fabric, cutting them up and then sewing them back together in glorious patterns and color schemes. And let's not forget the joy of shopping for fabric.

Of course, this was when I only knew how to knit items in squares and rectangles. In the past 12 months I've learned to knit in the round. To make hats, socks, blankets, etc. Now I've even crossed a line I thought I'd never take, and that was to try spinning my own yarn. Now that I think of it, knitting has sort of the same fascination, which is taking something simple and making it into something beautiful. Especially when I can dye my own wool. And again, I'm enjoying the shopping for yarn/fibers. (That seems to be a common thread here.)

I have a TON of photos from the things I've been working on the past few months; this even includes a little quilting. But until I stop feeling so guilty (I just accidentally typed in quilty) and start posting again, I'm going to show off my recent accomplishment: My first handspun yarns! I love, love, love them.

From this (my first attempt):


To this:


From this (second attempt):


To this:



And this is my next bunch of fiber. So pretty! I hope to get it started this weekend.



Sunday stash

Purchased during a recent trip to Joann's. The fat quarter bundles were 40 percent off. I am trying to be braver and use larger prints with a variety of colors in my projects. I hope these help!

Fat quarter bundle

Fat quarter set


Quilt and sock progress

Remember this quilt?

Disappearing nine-patch

Well, I finally went out and bought backing and binding fabric for it. All of the top is made from charm packs from the Wonderland line by Momo. When I bought those, though, I didn't buy any backing fabric. It was kind of hard to find a coordinating fabric that I liked, since the colors are kind of muted, but I picked these up at Joann's. The aqua is for the back, the dark brown w/ polka dots is for the binding.

Wonderland top w/ binding & backing fabrics

When I was visiting my parents over Easter, my mom even helped me get it pinned. If only I could motivate myself to get the quilting started.

On the knitting front, I finished a pair of socks! I finished sock two from the pair that I posted about previously. Check out the finished product - definitely cankle friendly!


It was weird how they knitted up. The yarn pooled quite differently from foot to foot.



And right:


And that is just a small tidbit of my exciting craft adventures. More coming!