Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dakota does WalMart

I had to go to WalMart yesterday. I had put it off until I really had no choice and I was hemming and hawing about taking Kota with me. He has done well at Metro, the grocery store, but I always go to a quieter one with wider aisles. I knew WalMart was going to be packed, especially this close to Christmas, and the aisles barely allow two carts to pass.

So I thought about it while having my tea in the morning and decided that I couldn't imagine going without Dakota. He has been by my side constantly since he was 3 or 4 months old and now it feels like he is an extension of me. I know I can depend on him to tell me when things aren't good, and I have really given up worrying about it because he lets me know. So off we went.

I have to say that this dog was born to work. I got a cart at WalMart (he has never spooked over walking beside a cart). We fought the crowds of people while I picked up the few things I needed. Luckily I have been teaching him to heel without tugging on the leash because I had to let him loose so I could use two hands to push the cart. I only had to slightly correct him once and that was because a little girl came at him with her hands. If I stop, he automatically sits. If I am standing for a while, he lies down, all without commands. I am so proud of him and you can tell that he is proud of himself for doing such a good job. I truly feel blessed to have him in my life.

And now for the little things in life.

Here is Jasper, enjoying the view from my living room window. Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to be a cat :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dakota and vets

It has been a while since I wrote about Dakota. He is still going strong, doing the job he was born to do.  We had a few rough months when I started on my new medication. He wasn't alerting as much and just didn't know what to do with himself. He went from alerting almost constantly to alerting a few times a day or every several days. Poor thing went through an identity crisis but I think we have worked most of that out. He still has his moments where he gets into trouble when I am up and doing something. He still isn't used to me being out of my chair so much and being more active.

He has come up with a couple of neat tricks on his own. Now if I am sitting and he is alerting, he will take one of my hands and force me to touch him. If I pull my hand away, he keeps doing this until I focus on him. I guess this pulls me out of my zoned out state and he is actually getting quite good at it. The other trick that perhaps isn't so neat is that when I am working at my knitting machine and I am tired, he will purposely pull out a cone of yarn and start chewing on the cardboard. He never touches my yarn otherwise - just when I guess he thinks I should be resting instead of knitting.

We have had a bit of bad news and I am trying not to get too upset over it. We had to make an emergency trip to the vet in September and then another one yesterday. Both times Dakota was lame in at least two legs,without any trauma or reason for it. This time he was in quite a bit a pain, to the point where he hadn't eaten for almost two days (unheard of for Dakota). He has been diagnosed with OCD (no, not obsessive compulsive disorder). I still don't fully understand it, but he is on pain meds and a supplement which will hopefully help. Actually I think the supplement is helping more than the pain meds. The last time this happened, it took 5 days for him to stop limping. I gave him a dose yesterday with this pain med and he was much better this morning, so here is hoping that the supplement will do the trick. I so hate seeing him in pain.

The down side according to the vet is that dogs with this condition almost always develop arthritis at an early age. This part is heartbreaking for me, but I know Dakota will fight to keep going as long as he can and I will just enjoy our time together. He definitely is one of a kind and I don't think I will have another dog after he leaves this earth. I just feel really blessed that I have had the opportunity to have a dog like Dakota in my lifetime.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where did the time go?

Wow, I can't believe how fast the last month went by! And now we have had our semi-annual time change so we are set until the spring.

I have been having a blast working on my machines. For the first time in about 15 years I have been able to get into a schedule again where I can pretty much do things on a daily basis. This is an amazing milestone for me and I have to get out of the old and get into the new. After 15 years of not being able to count on myself, it is hard to set goals and schedules now. I went through so much depression when I couldn't meet my goals, now I am a bit afraid to do it, but I am getting there. I work on my machines every late afternoon/evening and thoroughly enjoy that time. I have also recently started to listen to audio books while knitting and I am amazed at how good my concentration is for that time of the day.

Mornings are still a bit rough until I have my midday nap, but they are better. I have started a light exercise regime every 2nd or 3rd morning just for 10 minutes or so. I have found that my right leg is extremely weak so I am working on building up my leg muscles again. After being bedridden and in a wheelchair so long I guess it took its toll.

I do have to admit that  I have been pushing the boundaries of the Remeron to see where it stop, but so far it hasn't. I was a bit concerned that my naps had shortened, but about 3 weeks ago, after a particularly rough week, they started getting longer again. It has been pretty consistent since then. I will have a few days of shorter naps, then a day or two with an extra hour to hour and a half. This was one of the biggest problems with my sleep - I didn't get sleep rebound. Normally when one is overtired, the sleep period will get longer to compensate and the sleep will be better and more condense. They did 7 sleep studies on me because they couldn't believe I didn't rebound with the amount of sleep deprivation I was suffering from. I do have to say after all these years that rebound is a good thing :)

The cold weather has hit and I have been on a sock kick. I have been making these on the knitting machines because I simply can't knit quick enough to replace the 10 pairs my son ruined. And quite frankly, at this point in time I would much rather be machines knitting and I have been doing very little hand knitting. My down time is usually taken up with sewing things together, although I do manage a row or two here and there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Woman versus machine

It has baeen a while since I posted. The Remeron seems to have peaked with the body healing part and now I am moving on to learning new lifestyle changes. I have found through the years that when a medication is helping, it takes about 3 months for my body to do some healing, then another 3 months to adapt to a new way of life on the new medication. I always give things 6 months to stabilize before I give a thumbs up or down. I got thrown for a bit of a loop this time because my old pharmacy had me on the wrong medication for a month and I had to recover from that.

Lately I have been back to my first love, machine knitting. I had my first machines back in 1985, 2 Brothers which my ex disposed of when I left him. Then I lost my machines again 2 years ago when I left my abusive son, including my beloved Passap. I have started building up again and have a Brother 260, and Singer 560 and a Singer 700. I never really worked on the Singers before now and I do have to say that I like them, especially the lace carriage, which transfers and knits in the same row. I find it so much easier to push and it sounds gentler on the needles than the Brother did.

I was trying to finish off a sweater last night. I am making Primula by Carl Boyd. I happened to have some Crocus Yeoman Panama on hand and Carl was kind enough to help me lengthen the top. I also found that I could use lace card #6 on my Singer for the lace pattern, as long as I remembered to advance it one row every second row to eliminate the extra plain knit row. I was happy, especially after hand transferring the first sleeve.

So yesterday afternoon I sat to do the lace around the front and back neck. Easy enough, right? Not! The machine and my brain wouldn't cooperate. I must have ripped that piece out 6 times before I finally got it right. I had stitches dropping, I forgot the edge pins, dropped a stitch somewhere, etc. etc. But woman did win out over machine and I got the front and back pieces done. Now I just have to sew everything together.

In the meantime, after many years of wanting to do this, I made leggings to wear under my pants in the winter. One pair are sewn together and I have two others in various stages of finishing. I am still enjoying the feeling that I was able to finally bring an idea that I have had for about 10 years  to fruition. Yup, the Remeron seems to be helping a lot! Now most of my resting time is spent sewing things together because I am knitting faster than I can finish!
Yes, some days life is good!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Peaches & Creme is here!

It has been a long struggle and there is still a lot of work to do, but I am happy to announce that the new web site is up. I am endeavoring to bring Elmore-Pisgah yarns into Canada and I hope to expand from there.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the yarns, they are mostly cottons ranging from size 10 thread up to a double worsted weight. The Peaches & Creme line is comparable to Bernat Handicrafter but I personally find it softer and there are many more colours to choose from.

I would be delighted if you would take a look and follow us along at

Look forward to continuing changes and additions as I get more added to the site and don't be afraid to let me know if you have any questions or comments. See you there!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Making Progress

Things are going along albeit at a slower pace than I would like. My web site should be up shortly (fingers crossed). I was told it would be up yesterday, but it still isn't up .

In the meantime I have been working on the two Vortex shawls and a top for me.Am I ever glad I found my mistake when I cast on the shawl for Deb. Things work in mysterious ways sometimes. I am working the shawls continental but I find that I am having trouble purling, so the top is done in English style. Without realizing it, I had changed how I tension the yarn in my left hand. I just happened to look one day and I was tensioning it differently. Talk about letting your fingers do the walking!

Here is the Kauni Vortex shawl. I have to say that I really like this yarn. It is a bit course, like Shetland, but the colour changes are long and there is no sudden change in the colour way like I have found in other self striping yarns.

This is going to be big and just beautiful!

I have switched needles for the Colourmart angora/merino shawl which is coming along nicely. I had a bit of a problem tensioning at first because the yarn is a laceweight, but I am getting the hang of it now.

As you can see, with the finer yarn the holes open up a bit more. This should be a good size shawl as I have 1500 yards to work with.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A night in the dark

We had a thunderstorm last night and this is what I did for two hours in the dark with one lonely candle.

This is another Vortex shawl that I am knitting up for a friend. It is laceweight yarn from Colourmart, and beautiful angora/merino blend. She is a beginner knitter and wasn't all that comfortable with the fine yarn and the lace.

The power outage actually reminded me that I need to make more candles! I had one lonely candle to work by but I am glad that I at least had something light coloured on the needles which was easier to see. So today I will hopefully get some more candles made to have some just in case.

I had to chuckle. I was in the middle of making a sock on the knitting machine when the power went out. I merrily continued on for my 50 round leg without a problem and stopped when it came time to make the heel. I love hearing the sound of the knitting machine clicking past those last stitches so you know it is time to start the next row :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First top for me!

I have a problem getting tops to fit nicely. After muddling through a bunch of 3/4 finished tops, I realized three things. Firstly, I need a top to be at least two inches longer than design programs or patterns call for. Secondly, I need to decrease the armhole measurement by 1/2 and inch to an inch. And thirdly, I hate tops that hang like sacks!

Since starting on the Remeron, I have been playing with my machines more. And actually enjoying them.So I took a top that I had made and didn't like, ripped it out and made this one.

Here is a close shot of the detail at the neckline.

I have to thank everyone at KMaholics for walking me through a new edge. It is awesome!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Boy did I goof!

Remember the Vortex shawl that was coming along? Something kept nagging at me that there were too many increases and not enough decreases. Today while casting on the shawl for a friend I found my error. I had misread the second line of the pattern where there is a decrease stuck in . So here is the Vortex shawl now.

I have cast on again and decided to go up to a 5.5 mm needle for a bit more drape. It should go faster this time since I ended up with about twice as many stitches as I should have had for the length. No wonder I was panicking about running out of yarn! I was at 800 stitches and about 32 inches across and 3/4 done my 960 yards of Kauni.

This just seems to have been a week of do overs. Everything I try to knit I end up pulling out for one reason or another. Just one of those weeks where nothing seems to go right. And now I am going to vent ...

I have been having some problems with my pharmacy and changed to a new one about mid August. My doctor has me on birth control for hormone regulation and I noticed my pills from my old pharmacy were a different colour this month, but chalked it up to the company changing the colour. Well I have had migraine after migraine and it dawned on me today that maybe the old pharmacy had sent me the wrong pills. After a long day of calls they finally admitted that yes, they had made the mistake and were sorry. Oh, and would a $25 gift certificate be acceptable for my pain and suffering for the month? I just wanted to choke and I am going to look into what I can do legally. All I can say is that I am glad I have a new pharmacist now. So please, if you feel uncomfortable with the service that your pharmacist gives you, please find a new one. This episode could have very easily had more disastrous consequences.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The newest additions to the family

I am a big cat lover as well as a dog lover. Pudge is my 9 year old Burmese, adopted from a bad family when he was a kitten. He survived distemper and almost died from an intestinal tract infection. He is the boss and everyone knows it.

Sasha is another rescue, the queen of the house. She is a bit stand offish and only lets you pet her when she wants. Then a month ago I adopted Jinx and Jasper, two delightful brothers. I wasn't sure how the other cats would take to them, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here is Pudge and Jasper.

Sasha playing with Jinx while Pudge looks on
 Pudge and Jinx

The Vortex Shawl is coming along

At over 600 stitches, it is taking over half an hour to complete a round but boy is it worth it. I have yarn to do another shawl like this when I am done. The pattern is so easy and so beautiful.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peaches & Creme is coming to Canada!

Yep, you read right. I am in the process of having a web site designed and hope to have it launched in about a month. I will be carrying all of the Elmore Pisgah yarns. For those of you who have tried Peaches & Creme, there is no comparison to the Canadian equivalents. The colours are awesome, prices are good, and service is great.

This is a fledgling company and I am starting with little money. I really would appreciate everyone's support and patience while I build this company up. I am really excited about having this yarn in Canada and I hope everyone else is too.

Stay tuned for the launch of the web site!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I have been mesmerized working on the Vortex shawl in Kauni. The colour changes are amazing and the pattern is easy but elegant. I am up to over 360 stitches right now and still going strong.

I have been an English knitter for over 40 years. I was self taught and didn't know there was another way to knit until I joined several groups on the internet. Continental knitting was mentioned and it intrigued me, but I found I couldn't get tension and gave up in frustration.

Yesterday I browsed YouTube for some videos and found an excellent one that showed how to tension yarn in the left hand. And I was off. I am in love with this technique and will likely switch over to it. I am only using it on the Vortex shawl right now, but I am happy with my tension.

Waiting in the wings, temporarily on hold is the Irish Diamond shawl by Cheryl Oberle from Folk Shawls. Make a note that there is lots of errata for this book, a bit of a disappointment when there are so many mistakes given the cost of the book. This is the replacement shawl for the two I lost and I am in love with the angora blend from Colourmart. It blooms wonderfully and this is going to be my favourite comfort shawl.

I am finding that lace is my comfort knitting right now. I have been going through my rather bad stash trying to make some tops for myself, only to find out that my son took out parts of yarn. I always bought with lots of extra and I am finding for each lot that I am missing 5-10 balls. This wouldn't be so bad if I was tiny like I used to be, but medication has put weight on me and now I just don't have enough. Another wave of grief and mourning has been overwhelming me each time I find something I like, only to realize there isn't enough anymore. I am almost to the point where I just want to throw everything out and start over again so I can avoid the hurt and disappointment each search brings.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The glory of lace

I just realized that I have forgotten to post finished pictures of Alita. Well here she is in all her glory! The edging turned out more ruffled than I would like, but she sure is a beauty.
Alita, size 10 thread, size 1 US needles


Monday, August 2, 2010

It has been a while

I don't know where the time went. Things have been chaotic and there has been a lot of self discovery over the past few months.

I started on a new medication for my sleep in May. While it hasn't "fixed" the problem, I am definitely doing better and Dakota isn't alerting as much. The poor thing went through withdrawal, going from alerting almost constantly to alerting a few times maybe every five days. I had to do some retraining because he just didn't know what to do with himself and he is doing better now.

I have been doing a lot of healing as well. It has been two years since I left my abusive son who took advantage of my disability. He took a lot of things from me, some of which can never be replaced. I got 10 hand knit socks, each missing its mate. He took my two favourite shawls - the Irish Diamond shawl which I love dearly. I lost about $500 worth of fibre, knitting machines and the list goes on.

I have spent much of the past two years trying to replace my socks, since I only wear hand knit. I finally tackled trying them on the knitting machine and am quite pleased with the results. I will post pictures another day. These definitely are a labour of love, but they work and are quicker than I can knit :)

Now that socks are taken care of I decided it was time to replace my shawl. I have some angora/merino/nylon blend that I got from Colourmart and have started another Irish Diamond shawl. I also have yarn for two more shawls from some Kauni and I can't wait to get started on those. I love wrapping myself in a shawl, especially when my pain is bad or I am so tired that I am freezing. It is like giving myself a hug, and nothing beats it on those bad days.

The hurt of what my son did runs deep. He doesn't talk to me and that I can handle, but it is what he did after I left that has left its mark. I know that hurt will never go away, but I have finally taken the first step to healing and I am proud of myself for that.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Service Dogs

Dakota went in and was neutered on Thursday. We did him early as the vet didn't want to risk the chance of his hormones kicking in and him not listening to me. I was very lucky and the Lion's Club in the area paid for Dakota's vet bill! I had applied for assistance but didn't find out until after the surgery so this was a nice surprise. In return, the vet is making a donation to the Lion's Club - awesome! Dakota and I seem to be touching lives everywhere here. The people at the bank went out and got a treat jar and treats just for Dakota. They surprised me when they offered me a treat to give to Dakota later :) They even commented on how far he has come in the last few months and are very impressed.

I am actually surprised at how well Dakota is being accepted here. This is a very small town and I expected some problems, but everyone has been very accepting and I haven't had one problem. Right now I am working on manners with Dakota, so that the public can pet him. The amazing thing is that people are eager to hear about my disorder and what they can expect from Dakota when he is alerting and how they can help.

I was thinking about it today and Dakota has honestly given me my life back. Yes, I am still severely disabled, but I feel more in control now thanks to him. I liken my sleep intrusions to petit mal seizures and it helps to explain to people what is occurring. The symptoms are very similar, as are the number of seizures/intrusions that you can get per day. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me and I missed Dakota so much when he was at the vet. I really have come to depend on him to tell me where I am at. The number of alerts he gave per day were scary initially but now I really need Dakota to be there by my side.

I have also been working on trying to get him to settle once he alerts. Because there isn't much I can do to "make it better" there are times when Dakota will alert for hours on end. At home he is learning to settle and I will thank him for the alert and tell him to play with his teddy. When we are out he gets quite vigorous in his alert because he wants me home. The funny thing is that I initially was using the command "stop", which he wouldn't listen to. Now I use the command "settle" and he has taken to that. He knows what "stop" means, but refused to stop alerting.  I realized yesterday that Dakota doesn't play with me in the typical hyper puppy way. That is the way he alerts when I am out and he is adamant that I get home. To others it looks like he is playing but I know what he is telling me. This big boy was born just for this purpose and he won't give it up at all. I have definitely been blessed.

Dakota is labeled a "service dog" and he performs an invaluable service to me. He doesn't like being without me - the vet will tell you how much he misses his human :) I had to pick him up early because he was putting up such a ruckus. This morning he shocked me when I jokingly told him to put the pillow on the couch and he did it! So we did 3 other pillows (he knocks them off) and he picked up all of those as well - wow! I was astounded that he did this so easily and there is definite potential for a lot more for him to do. So now I clamp down on the obedience training and start putting him through his paces. I am eager to see where Dakota will take me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alita continues

I am still working on the doily, Alita. It was on hold until I could get some longer circulars, but she is back up and going now. I am on round 112 with a whopping 700 stitches per round! No wonder it is taking forever for me to get a round done!

It is hard to get a good picture while she is all scrunched up on the needles, but here are a few pictures. She really is a beauty and I can't wait to finish her and get her blocked. So far I have only made one small mistake, which I figure isn't bad for size 10 thread and US 1 needles.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Inexperienced Vets

Okay, I just need to get it out and I figured most of you would understand:) Dakota has been through his "terrible twos" and is even more attentive and alerting to me now. I tell you, this is one dog that knows he was born for a purpose and he takes it seriously. So far I have had 3 very bad days where he keeps alerting and nothing will stop him. Sunday was one, so out of curiousity I thought I would take him for a walk. He wouldn't even let me go a block. He guided me back toward home and nipped me when I ignored him and was chatting with some kids. I am fine with that. There obviously is something very wrong on those days and he is bound and determined that I be safe in bed. He has made me feel so safe and secure, and I feel very blessed. God may have messed up my brain, but he has brought me Dakota to help.

Monday. I am exhausted after these bad days and I had to take Dakota in for his last boosters. I can take him into stores no problem, but he acts up at the vet. I realized  that it is because the other doctor gave him treats, which also explains why Dakota has been trying to climb up on counters that look like the examining counter . Had a new doctor today, female, who constantly told me that all of Dakota's behaviours were "puppy" things and that he wasn't alerting at all. I really didn't need to hear this, from a professional, the day after I sat and listened to him alert for 6 hours straight! Her response was that he wanted attention. Can we say NOT!

 When I got home I called the vet and was just in tears, nearing hysterics. Later on  I talked to the owner about another matter and addressed this issue as well. I told him that this doctor needs a lesson in tact, diplomacy, respecting severely disabled people, and understanding alert dogs. Boy did that ever feel good :) We have agreed that I will take Dakota to the first doctor that works at the clinic, whom I really like.

 In the meanwhile, I have enjoyed going out almost daily with Dakota. He has been well tolerated at the Dollar Store, pet store, pharmacy, and the bank, even by a lady who doesn't like dogs and whom Dakota thought he would show how cute he was by trying to climb over the low counter :) We are working on that bad habit. Since he has gotten his vest, people have been very respectful of him, asking to pet him, keeping their distance, and just loving how well behaved he is when he does behave (95% of the time). He now weighs 34 pounds and the vet estimates he will be close to 60 when he is done growing. Since he is such a big breed, I will have to wait until he is a year old and his growth plates are done growing to put him in a mobility harness.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I think spring has sprung

The weather the last few days has been absolutely beautiful. I am hoping that this is the beginning of spring and that the cold weather is gone for this year. I don't do as well in the cold and find it very difficult to walk, not only from the pain, but also because I lose my footing very easily. Dakota should be in his harness for next winter and that should help give me some added stability.

Dakota and I have been taking advantage of the nice weather and have had several short outings. We are really working on manners right now because he is going through his "terrible two's" and thinks that everyone should love and pet him. Of course, I think that he knows he is special, which isn't helping his ego trip any :) He has learned to jump up on counters so he can see the person behind it - big no, no so we have been addressing that. People have been very accommodating. He has been well tolerated in all the stores we have been in and now that he has his vest, people are being quite courteous and asking if they can pet him. Right now he is on a no petting rule until he gets used to people not gushing over him.

It is hard to believe that he is only 4 months old. His training is going very well and he knows all the basic commands. Yesterday we started on him taking the stairs one at a time and now he makes sure he watches my feet before he proceeds to the next step. We have started the "brace" command, just so he knows it. I can't actually put much weight on him until his growth plates are set, but at least he will know what to do when the time comes. He seems to love helping me and we will start on teaching him to open doors, etc. probably in the next few months.

Dakota has become more pronounced in his alerts and I now introduce him as a medical alert dog. He is very good at knowing where I am at and what I need. I have had him tug me by the pants to get me to come home, guide me along a railing so I can hold onto it and quite a few other things. He alerts pretty much daily, which I hoped for given the severity of my sleep disorder. It does get annoying on my really bad days though because he won't stop alerting and there isn't anything I can do to make it better. Annoying or not, I am glad I have him and wouldn't give him up for the world. He really has changed my life for the better.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Socks and lace

I find when I am tired I tend to start projects. And more projects. And more. Finishing them is a different story, but I have been doing well in that area. Eventually of course, but they get done. I just hate having too many things on the needles. Socks are a bit of an urgency right now because when I left "he who shall not be named" a year and a half ago, he decided to keep one each of 10 pairs of socks. So I have 10 singles sitting here and don't know what to do with them and I was left with 3 complete pairs. Sort of a hit below the belt, since he knew I only wear hand knit socks .  Oh, and most of my sock yarn was gone as well.

So I am building up my sock stash again, slowly but surely. I just finished the Giles wavy socks and have cast on for two pairs of plain vanilla socks. I will wear the Giles socks to see if I like the adaptations I made and may tinker with it again.

Lace is my other passion. I have yet to reknit the Faroese shawl I lost  to the sock thief. I just haven't found the right yarn calling to me but my fingers were itching to get some lace on the needles. I found some beautiful knit doilies and I decided to knit Alita first, found here. It is keeping my itching fingers busy and turning out beautifully.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our first trip

Well, I just typed up a whole post and it disappeared on me. Teach me to save my posts while I am typing them .

 Dakota and I had a very exciting day today. We went into stores for the first time and I must say, he was very well behaved. Someone even commented that he is a well behaved dog :) We made a quick trip into the pharmacy and the Dollar Store. He followed commands well and didn't get distracted by much except people. I am finding that I have to be firm and tell people not to pet him because he is working (despite the badges he has on his vest). Then we went to the bank and he started alerting me because I was tired, and kept it up when we visited the pet store in between the treats he was getting from the owner. He was happy to have me back home and in my chair.

He is now alerting to three things - my hypoglycemia, possibly dangerous fatigue levels, and really dangerous ones when I have taken my sleep medication. For the hypoglycemia, he sits on my chest between me and my knitting and whines. He doesn't stop until about 10 minutes after I have eaten something. For fatigue, if I am up, he whines until I am seated and then lays on my end table with his head resting on me so he can monitor me. He will whine and herd me until I sit. When I take my sleep medication, he whines and barks short barks until I get into bed. It is really interesting how he can differentiate these three things so early. He is only 3 1/2 months old and I know he has a lot more in him. I am excited to see exactly what he is capable of.

I have been exhausted for the past bit and my fibromyalgia is flaring up with the weather changes. I am quickly becoming dependent on Dakota to tell me how I am. I live in such a muddled brain fog, it is often very difficult for me to gauge what I am capable of doing and for how long. Dakota is making me feel not only safer, but somehow vindicated in the way I feel. When I can't think straight, it is hard for me to explain to others how tired I am and sometimes I wondered if it truly was all in my head. Dakota is bringing the way I feel out, so other people get an idea of when I really am not well. He truly has been a blessing to me and I look forward to working with him for many years to come.

Dakota showing off his new vest

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

By George, I think he has got it!!

Okay, so it doesn't take much for me to get excited these days. A word to the wise - don't let it go too long between puppies. I feel like I have been through the wringer this past month and I KNOW I have a good pup! Dakota is so smart, but just couldn't seem to get the hang of potty training. I coaxed, cajoled, crate trained him, all to no avail. Now I have trained dogs for 40 years and never had one that didn't respond to praise well enough to change his/her behaviour.

Out of desperation I tried food. Well I sure found the way to Dakota's heart is through his stomach in a hurry! He has had a good week and today actually only had two accidents. He has figured out how to tell me he needs out and has been great waiting about two hours before the next pee trip.

We had our second vet visit today and Dakota couldn't wait to get into the examination room.  Forget the deworming and the shots - that man had treats!!!! It is no wonder he weighs in at 26.4 pounds at three months! The vet said not to worry. He is a good, mid of the road weight so I guess we can wait a while before we start laying off the treats. Somehow I think Dakota might have something to say about that if given the chance.

Temperament wise, he is doing well. He is learning fast and I will be starting his special task training soon. He loves to hold things in his mouth, which will work to my benefit when training him to open doors, etc. I am aiming at having him in a mobility harness around 6 months, but that one I will play by ear.

Now come on. You have to love this face!

What the heck is this white stuff???

Just taking a break after chasing the furry teddy bears. Mom calls them cats, but I know different!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tortures of a Sleep Disorder

I am in a mood today and just decided I might as well get it out. I sympathize with everyone that has a sleep disorder. If you are chronically tired, please insist on having a sleep study done. It might be something simpler like sleep apnea which is easier to treat, but life threatening if left untreated.

Unfortunately the disorder I have is rare and all they can do is put me on medication to try and stabilize my brain chemicals and to help me get to sleep. My disorder, after seven tests, has come back as "difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep". Hmmm. That means that although I think I am sleeping, my brain does its own funky thing and refuses to stay in the sleep stages or even go into some of the critical ones. Basically I suffer from chronic sleep deprivation and REM (dream) deprivation. Lots of fun - NOT!

I accomplish in a day what most people get done in two hours. I have to have a drug forced nap during the day just to survive. We believe that as a result of the sleep disorder, I also have fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Well duh! If the sleep is not refreshing, then I am bound to be tired all the time.

So my doctor's orders are to reevaluate what I can do and to pretty much stay on bedrest (or in my case, recliner rest) so I don't exhaust myself more. But how does a Type A personality accomplish this???? I needed to do something, to feel useful, to feel fulfilled. So I picked up my knitting again and knit as much as I can. Sometimes projects seem to drag on, sometimes I can get them done quickly depending on how tired I am.

The past 12 years have been a road of self discovery. I spin, as well as machine knit and have fallen in love with natural fibres. Wool is my all time favourite because of its wonderful properties, along with cotton, linen, and the list goes on. I have also realized that I am an artist and my apartment reflects that :) I love to create, I love to design and I love the feel of the fabric in my hands. And just as not every one of us will go to an art gallery and all like the same painting, or like it but for different reasons, not everyone is going to like what I make for them. So I make very little for others. The one thing that has gone over well with everyone is crochet on the double dishcloths and I will make these. Other things are done by special request only and then the recipient is involved in choosing the yarn, pattern, etc.

Just as art gallery work doesn't suit everyone, neither does the art of knitting. I have learned that it is an art, to take pride in it, and not to undervalue myself just because it is "hand made". It is a gift that keeps on giving, and should be treasured as such.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Time Flies When you are training a puppy

It has been so long since I have had such a young pup, I forgot how much time they take. Phew!

Dakota is doing well, learning commands etc. but we have hit a brick wall with the house breaking. He is getting there slowly, but his stubborn streak is showing through :) Why do they call it house breaking anyway? It is more like owner breaking if you ask me :)

His character is showing through now and I can tell that I am going to have to be very dominant with him. I have dealt with dominant dogs before, so I am not worried about that. He is quite the character and is in learning mode. Reminds me of a toddler, pushing the buttons to see what he can get away with :)

In the meantime I seemed to be stalled on my projects. I have a sweater that is 20 rows away from being done but I so hate the sewing up that I think I am procrastinating finishing it. My way around that is I promised it to a friend for her birthday in March, so I will have to get my butt moving.

I did finish a crochet on the double towel (for me at last) and a cloth. I love this technique and it makes wonderful towels and cloths. I am trying to stock up on cloths for gift giving, since everyone likes them so much. I am still working on my Berroco Jenny Tailored Sweater and will have pictures shortly. I am just starting the sleeves and I can't figure out how to get a good picture of what looks like a mess on the needles :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sweater musings

Admittedly I am a sock fanatic but late last year I had several sweaters on the needles and refused to finish them. So the week before the New Year I started seriously looking at these sweaters, mumbling to myself all the while about my procrastination. Then it hit me. I didn't want to finish the sweaters because they just wouldn't fit me right. They were sized for a large, but looked unbecoming, like putting on a sack. Now I might be bigger, but my disability is enough of a self-esteem dasher. I don't need my clothes to do the same.

Okay, so back to the drawing board. From scratch. I like knitting from the top down. I like to knit in the round because I have trouble with my hands when it comes to seaming. I need to have set in sleeves to make my football shoulders less obvious. Drop sleeves make me look huge, and raglans emphasize my large shoulders. I like fit and I like to have some waist shaping. I know there isn't much there, but hey, I might as well use it while I have it. Ribbing accentuates my fluffiness, so plain or lace is good. Hmmm, does such a pattern exist? I know I could use Barbara Walker's From the Top Down, but I like more detail.

Along comes Ravelry. What a wonderful place to find yarns and patterns. While perusing the top down selection I came across The Tailored Sweater Method. Interesting. But I had spent so much money on what I thought were promising patterns, did I really want to fork out 18 Euro for this.  So I thought and thought, then took the dive. And haven't looked back.

I am only working on the sample sweater right now but I am in love. I have learned to do short rows (finally) and really neat tricks for making a set in sleeve top down sweater that will actually fit. The pattern meets all the criteria I was looking for and is very promising. There will definitely be more to come on this method.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Back to socks

I promised myself that I would do some different socks this year rather than the plain vanilla ones I have been doing. I have been using the U.S. 1 9" Hiya Hiya circulars and love them, but they have tightened up my gauge a fair bit. Okay, back to the drawing board to design a new sock that would fit nicely.

My first choice was Giles Sock which I thought would look amazing with self striping yarn.With adjustments of course. I started out with Addi 2.5 mm needles (I thought they were the stainless steel 2.25's until I got them). I like a looser top so I cast on 72 stitches and worked 20 rounds of rib. Since the pattern was a bit loose, I decreases down to 66 stitches for the leg and increased back up to 72 stitches before starting the heel. The heel was done Eye of Partridge on 36 stitches but this time I made sure it was square. This gave me more stitches to pick up from the heel flap and more room around the ankle. Of course I did the EZ shaped arch (I love the fit of this shaping) and toddled off to the end of sock one. Sock two is now in the works and hopefully won't take me quite as long.


I didn't continued the pattern down onto the foot because that usually annoys me when I wear the socks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Introducing Dakota

I now have a new member of the family thanks to Daryl and Stuart. He is a cute 8 week old pup, lab/husky mix who is just beautiful. I have raised and trained dogs for 40 years but haven't had a pup in a while. He is a handful but I wouldn't give him up for the world.

Dakota is going to be trained to be my service dog. I have a severe sleep disorder and suffer from non REM and REM intrusions during the day. This means that I get 5-30 seconds of sleep intruding while I am awake. I have become used to the NREM intrusions but the REM ones are scary because I lose all muscle control and end up falling flat out. Dakota may be able to sense when these are going to occur, but since I don't know, I am not sure he will. In any event, he will be used to stabilize me and as a security for me when I go out. The last time this happened I fell in the middle of downtown and no one stopped to help me. That terrified me and I have pretty much been a shut in since. Dakota will at least protect me if I go down and I won't feel so helpless.

We have a lot of work in store for us but I am happy and looking forward to it. I was very down over the winter and I feel that now I have a new lease on life, thanks to Dakota.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Socks, socks, and more socks

Okay I am passionate about two things. Hand knit socks because they are the only things that keep my feet warm, and shawls. No shawls on the needles right now but I do have socks.

The one thing I love about knitting is that there is no right or wrong way to do things.  If it works for you, then go for it. For socks, I prefer top down because I do Elizabeth Zimmerman's shaped arch and I know where to place it. I am a row counter and created a sock that gave me a perfect fit. Until my ankles expanded that is.

So I have been looking at my socks and they really look unhappy, all stretched around the ankle. The problem was taking the plunge, altering that tried and true sock pattern that had done me well so many years.  I tried increasing stitches but wouldn't you know that those ankles expanded some more, taunting me to try and accommodate them. Well here came one of my New Year's resolutions - to redo my pattern so my socks were happy again.

More stitches didn't work so I decided I was going to have to increase the depth of the heel flap. Not a problem. Then I decided to widen the heel turn. Deep breath, okay, I can do that. But I have been stumbling because I don't know what my row count for the foot should be. Egads, take my numbers away from me and I flounder like a fish out of water. Okay, a deep breath and I think I can do this.

Friday, January 22, 2010

First post

Okay, I have done it. I have become a blogger! Something I said i would never do, but I guess the world of technology tends to take over these days :)

Watch for upcoming posts on knitting and crocheting. I think this is a great way to express myself.