That Stuff I Was Telling You About


My second pair of Friday Harbor socks, a.k.a. my No-Smoking Socks. KPPPM in some of my favorite colors ever. Thanks to everyone for all your encouraging words and good thoughts and well-wishes on the not-smoking thing. Me and the Mr. O'Kitten just made it through Day 12! Woo-Hoo!! No-Smoking Socks for everyone!

Since I'm curtailing my computer time, I still haven't caught up on my email (sorry about that), but I did finish these. Both are knit from the Lacey-Switzer-Shetland blend that I spun. And both look better on an actual human head than in this photo.

I don't know what to say about these, except that it's very hard to photograph anything black. They go on your hands, and there is a right and a left.

I didn't use a pattern, and I had just enough of this super-soft, super-bulky Misti Alpaca yarn I got from PRGE. I think I have all of 8 inches of it left.

They came out looking completely midieval, as I suppose gauntlets should. But they're just as plush and soft as can be.


I'm really proud of this yarn, the silk-merino I was telling you about. I have another hank of this fiber in a variety of greys that I'm going to work on to make a contrasting yarn, and then hopefully make socks. Socks knit from my very own homespun! I never would've believed it.

Also to file under new and exciting: Mr. O'Kitten has begun spinning himself. Yep, and he's quite good at drafting already after just a little practice, although still in that stage of starting out where you get a thick then thin (then grrr! $%&# breaking) ply instead of the glorious flow of fiber you can see in your mind's eye, and you doubt you'll ever get past the frustration. But he will.

My positive experience with the silk-merino gave me the courage to finally try spinning up a bit of Pepper's cria fleece from our spring shearing. To me it feels a lot like angora bunny, except that the fibers are more like 4-7 inches (10-18 cm) long. Tricky to spin, but how often do you get to try spinning baby llama?

Some Other Stuff

I photographed a bunch of stuff today, while Morgan supervised fron the director's chair.

Sneak preview of cards Mr. O'Kitten and I made. Coming very soon to an etsy shop near you...


Day 10, Kitten Update, and Stuff

Hey, Remember Me?

So you haven't seen me in awhile--that's largely because not smoking has been something of a fulltime job. Today is Day 10 for both Mr. O'Kitten and me, which is really quite remarkable. But I found that being on the computer is a trigger, so I haven't been on in a week other than to quickly check the etsy shop.

As long as my hands are busy, I'm halfway okay; the crazy raging anger and most intense irritability seems to have subsided somewhat. In its place is an ebbing and flowing anxiety, a sense of restlessness, and--the thing that scares me the most--a general feeling of depression, tiredness, and malaise. Will this pass? And when?

Since I'm a recovering alcoholic and addict with bipolar disorder, PTSD, and who knows what else, I'm the first to admit my brain is already quite scrambled. I'm sure that I was using nicotine to help control my mood, take the edge off of anxious moments, and whatever else it does for you. And I read somewhere that it is particularly difficult for women with depression to quit smoking. And of course, the route my bipolar tends to take is -- long bouts of debilitating depression.

Anyway, Day 10. The beat goes on.

In Which Strider and Gandalf Find a Home

Great news! I talked to the vet's office last week and Gandalf and Strider found a home. I'd dared to hope that they might be able to stay together and fantasized that they'd find a family to live with, and they have. The couple who adopted them has a 3-year-old, who I'm told was very gentle with the rapidly-growing boys (not that they couldn't stand a fair bit of rough-housing) and I couldn't be more delighted. Gandalf and Strider have a home!

Keeping the Hands Busy and the Brain (Somewhat) Quiet

I've been spinning like crazy and knitting up a storm. I finished my No-Smoking Socks (from the Friday Harbor pattern), two hats from Lacey yarn I spun, a pair of long fingerless gloves (well, one still needs seaming)--and yes, pictures are forthcoming. Felted a prototype holiday tree (you have to see it, it's weird) and Mr. O'Kitten and I made some strange Halloween-ish cards for the etsy shop. (Oh yeah, I have to shoot pics of those, too. It's just easier not to move from the couch.)

Like I said, as long as my hands are busy with the needles or the wheel or crossword puzzles...

Breeds Study has resumed at the Spinning Loft. I've washed nearly a pound of this grey corriedale; the three fall sessions are about Longwools and Crossbred wools.

I finally had some sort of breakthrough with my spinning, and it finally looks like yarn. I actually spun almost 200 yards (about 180 m) from 4 oz. (115 g) of luscious merino-silk. I never spun silk before, nor have I been able to spin anything relatively consistent or so fine. (Yes, yes, photos to come, I promise. As soon as I, uh, check a week's worth of email...)


Cats on Tuesday Returns and the Quit Update

Gandalf and Strider Commence a New Quest

As you can see, the two little renegades quickly won over not only me and Mr. O'Kitten, but the girls as well (relatively speaking). Being barn cats was simply not their destiny.

In case you hadn't noticed, Emma didn't budge, regardless of what mayhem was going on around her.

Kind of hard to photograph them, since they tend to move pretty quickly--especially Strider, who mainly wanted to nuzzle me or the camera.

After much discussion and some hand-wringing, we called the vet's office. Now that the two were fatter and glossier and knowing that they love people and other cats and were fully house-broken and completely adorable--would they be willing to take them back and find them another home?

And so we said good-bye to Gandalf and Strider, and sent them on a new adventure, to find their forever home. Both of us really miss them, but destiny has a strange way of laying new plans, and generally not the ones we expect.

Quit Day 4 (again)

So after a week (yes, yay, a week!) of not smoking, I had two cigarettes on Wednesday, Which became three on Thursday and three on Friday. Aughh!

Granted, I had PMS and during the week had slid into a horrible depression (remember, I'm bipolar)--the worst I've experienced in many months, complete with lovely suicidal ideas, homicidal fantasies, and rifled with awful anxiety and an irritability that I can only describe as PMS on steroids.

Fortunately, I had an appointment with the psychiatrist, who increased my anti-depressant to compensate for what he called "dopamine depletion." So far I'm a little better, and haven't killed myself or anyone else yet.

Very soon I'll have pictures of my no-smoking socks, a hat I knit from the Lacey yarn I spun, plus other spinning I've been doing while not smoking. Busy, busy bee--or so I must stay until I feel like something of a normal human being again, while minimizing contact with others, since I'm something of a raging bundle of raw nerves.


Six Years Ago

Mr. O'Kitten took all of these photographs on 9/11/01 and in the days following. He gave me permission to share them with you.

We stood silently at the riverside a block from our apartment and watched. The tower melted to the ground like a candle, but all speeded up, and with a horrifying rumble like something within the bowels of the earth was very, very angry.

A little later: Everything was gone. The world was silent, and everyone was walking the streets in a daze. We tried to give blood, but the hospital wasn't ready to accept blood donors yet (there was quite a long line, too). Others were busy gathering in downtown parks, building dozens upon dozens of stretchers that no one knew then wouldn't be needed. We all wanted to help, to do something, to serve in one way or another. Probably the worst part of all was that there was next to nothing that could be done.

Posters for the missing were everywhere. Thousands of notes, flyers, and posters...every place you can think of.

So were teddy bears and flowers and signs and American flags and yellow ribbons and sidewalk drawings and stuffed animals and rosary beads and photos and drawings and notes from children and letters from family and friends and lovers and candles. There were candles everywhere.

Am I still standing? Some days I'm not sure.

Today we lit a candle. I guess that means I am.

Now I'm Homesick...for NYC

I want bagels and lox and real pizza and eggs in a diner. (Lucky mrspao!) I want Vietnamese food and Thai and Korean and sushi and stores filled with real cheese and butcher shops and Italian bakeries. Hot dog stands and real coffee shops and delis and diners and even over-priced Balduccis. I want a city bustling with people, I don't want to have to drive just to get a carton of milk, I want to be able to walk and take the bus and subway everywhere again, and grab a bite with friends whether its 4 am or noon or midnight.

I always post this same picture of the city skyline because I took it at one of my favorite times of day--sunset--looking east across the Hudson River from Hoboken, the place I made my hometown for nearly twenty years. To me it is the perfect skyline view, and the perfect picture of the place I still consider "home." (I've never lived in Pennsylvania, the place my parents call "home"--they'd already moved away by the time I was born.)

What you can't see in this picture is the missing towers. They would be right behind the building reflecting the light most brightly, and about three times as tall, as I remember. So this photo is both very nostalgic--as I used to walk past this spot almost daily--and very, very sad to me.

It's 9/11 and I'm still not smoking. For the past five years I've spent the day, maybe the week, mostly in bed--we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings. It's an extremely hard day for me and I miss my NYC hometown very much.

New York, I love you.


I'm Hating It -- All of It

Day 5 and still not smoking. I dislike everyone and everything. I knew I needed to keep my hands busy, but I wasn't prepared to be so crabby.

No, not just crabby--I hate pretty much everyone and everything right now. This will pass, right? Right? Otherwise I'm going to turn into a homicidal maniac and be hiding badly butchered bodies in the fields.

I wasn't a smoker until I quit drinking and doing drugs eleven years ago. Because there has to be something external (I thought at the time) to make life a bit more bearable. People are annoying, life is hard, crummy things happen...so I put down one addiction and picked up another. I didn't have the illusion that this was going to be easy. I just didn't think I'd be so, well, angry and cranky and testy and, in general, finding the world and everyone in it so intolerable.

And what on earth am I going to do when I finish my sock? Waaah!

I didn't realize how deeply ingrained the habit of rewarding myself with a smoke had become. Just a little break from whatever I was doing, time to take a few minutes out from the rest of life, take the edge off, a wee prize for completing some task or other.

Not to mention a convenient escape from social situations (since you can't smoke indoors anywhere anymore), or from moments of stress, anxiety, tension--you name it. Yep, that little influx of dopamine really does the trick.

So for quite awhile cigarettes have been my best friends. Everyone I've ever spoken to who has quit says they're so glad they did it, but that it's one of the hardest things they've ever done. Well, no kidding. Because this sucks!

Bah, humbug.


On Socks, Spinning, and Smoking

On Socks
I finished the Conwy socks just in time for my mom's birthday--though not in time to block them, so they'd look better in the photos if they'd been washed and blocked.

I only did the twisted stitch pattern around the cuff, but I liked it that way. Rosalynn's Sinful Signature yarn (a hand-dyed merino-tencel blend--ooh, shiny!) looked so great in the p1,k3,p1,k1 rib that I used that for the body of the socks.

The pattern is from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road: Sock Patterns for the Traveling Knitter.

I've since started another pair of Friday Harbor socks from this same book for myself, because I love this pattern. I finished the first one in two days. (You'll find out below how that miracle happened.) Here you can learn why the Yarn Harlot loves Nancy Bush. Many thanks to Alison for sending me this book!

My mom seemed to like them...

On Spinning

I've been busy spinning lately. This is the Lacey-Switzer-Shetland blend on the bobbin.

And here it is spun. I love the brown-sugary color. This is a two-ply. My spinning is finally getting more consistent, and I'm really happy with this yarn. Beth says I must be a llama-spinner.

Here's Llannie and black shetland...

...and a bobbin full. It doesn't look terribly impressive in the picture, just a big black blob, but I had to post it because I'm very proud of it. So feel free to pretend it looks like something, or just use your imagination.

The thing on the right is a wraps-per-inch thingie. Isn't it beautiful? Made by Fancy Kitty (who also makes gorgeous carders), I got it at the Spinning Loft. The Lacey yarn is 8 wraps per inch.

From back to front: corriedale I spun for my breeds class at the Spinning Loft, two skeins of lavender merino, and two skeins of Lacey (this photo shows them truest to color).

On Smoking (or Not)

So--you may be wondering--how is that she's doing all of this spinning and knitting? Where does she find the time?

Well, this week I quit smoking. Today is Day 4. And I have to have something to do with my hands at all times or I'm absolutely crazy and cranky and crabby and...well, I knit a sock and spun a lot of yarn and am trying very hard not to inflict myself on other human beings at this time because (1) I am a ticking time bomb and (2) interaction with other human beings is challenging and makes me want to smoke.

So does:
My first cup of coffee
All subsequent cups of coffee
TV commercials
Any annoyance, minor or major
Leaving the house
Returning to the house
Being on the computer (well, Mr. O'Kitten's puter anyway, fortunately not mine)
Finishing any task (you know, doing the dishes, feeding the animals, etc. because any little thing should be rewarded with a smoke break)
Talking on the phone
Pausing to think

So I haven't even been on my computer (aside from checking the etsy shop very quickly) for the past few days for fear it would make me want to smoke. I've been sitting in front of the TV (a safe place, as we only smoke in Mr. O'Kitten's room) knitting and spinning like a fiend.

We're trying something new, a drug called Chantix , that addresses the need for dopamine in your system, as well as somehow blocks nicotine from cigarettes.

Anyway, Day 4 here. Wish me luck...I really don't want to be a smoking peep forever.