Recovery Work

Early last week I went in for the second of several rounds of oral surgery that my lovely periodontist has planned for me.  He says we may get to delay the rest of them indefinitely, which is just fine with me.  The first one (last summer) was Hell on Wheels, no exaggeration.  They told me that this one would be “40% less bad” as that first one.  Which is oddly specific.  What is 40% less than horrible?  I’m sure we all have our own visions of what that might be like.

How bad can it be?  I mean, I’ve had several surgeries over my little span of existence – appendix and wisdom teeth popping to the front of my memory, among others.  Well folks, that surgery last summer created a whole mouthful of healing wounds, which meant that I couldn’t eat anything remotely solid for weeks.  Even mashed potatoes and smoothies hurt for the first month.  (Bonus: ALL the ice cream I could stand.)  Getting calories is hard when you can only drink your nourishment.  So I was a pathetic noodle in front of the TV for the first week or so.  We had a mini party when I could finally accomplish chewing a chicken nugget (1 month post-surgery), ate my first french bread style sandwich (2 months post surgery), and my first taco (3 months post surgery).  I lost 10 lbs over three months.

Husband let me know that he’s not so fond of this new, slim look I’ve been sporting, and advised me to put on a few pounds in preparation for last week’s surgery.  I think I look fabulous, but he’s partial to a few extra curves.  (For the record, I weigh exactly the same as when I met him and we started dating.  The pounds I lost were of the post-wedding, comfortably married variety.)  Gotta love him!  To aid in the pounds-in-the-bank effort, he helped me make a list of my favorite foods and then helped me eat my way through the list.  A sort of “last meals” roundup, so to speak.

So then, how to plan for the 40% less bad as last summer?  I have learned some things about what I can and can’t do to sneak in a calorie or two.  Plus, this surgery would only create wounds in 1/4 of my mouth, instead of nearly the whole thing.  I figured I might be able to get some stuff accomplished while recovering this time around.

There was no way I would be returning to my day job for the first couple of weeks.  It requires too much in the way of physical energy for an all-liquid diet to be able to handle.  Which means that I suddenly had a big window of hours available for Tangled Strands work.  And there is no shortage of To-Do List items standing at the ready to fill in those hours.

I decided to tackle the first draft of the patterns for some of my made-up items.  My friends (and some very kind strangers) have provided encouragement in this direction.  I don’t know how far this will actually go, however.  It’s one thing to show off something you’ve dreamed up in the safety of your inner circle of friends, and quite another to subject your work to the critique of strangers.  (Although, yes, knitters are an overwhelmingly pleasant bunch.)  The pattern writing itself is coming along nicely.  Working quietly on the computer for several hours in the morning is just perfect.  So far I’ve gotten the first draft completed on five patterns.  Hooray for writing up pattern notes and then knitting up the sample from those notes!  Basically all I had to do was take the notes (plus my scribbles about what I modified while knitting) and add polish.  They still need a fair amount of tweaks and revisions and polishing up, but the bulk of the work is done.

I spent a few hours at the sewing machine, making up the new drawstring project bags for this summer.  I’m so excited about the fabrics I found for this line.  I rode this momentum to get the photos processed and the listings created, so these are now live in the Tangled Strands Etsy shop.  Click the image to zoom through to the shop for more details.

I’ve also been working in a little time here and there to process some raw fleeces that I’ve acquired.  One of my coworkers brought me a little sack of gathered bison fleece from her relative’s farm.  It was a mixed variety of whatever they found hanging out along the fences, as they aren’t fiber people themselves.  Bison don’t take kindly to shearing, but they’ll happily shed their coats all over the fields annually.  For you to pick up…in your spare moments…trying not to get trampled…naturally.  So I did a bit of research and proceeded to separate out the softest fluff from the guard hairs.  Then a quick bath – not as dirty as expected – and drying in the sun.  Once I have a free bobbin on the wheel, I’ll spin this up as a little sampler skein.

I also washed the Gotland sheep fleece that I picked up in the fall.  It should have been done right away, but you know how schedules go.  The weather cooperated to help me get a wash/rinse/speed-dry-in-the-sun assembly line going.  The notes accompanying this fleece warned me that there would be a fair bit of reddish dust in the bath water, so I was prepared when the water turned murky.  But it rinsed clear and the locks are so amazingly beautiful now.  This one is well over a sweater’s quantity of wool, so it will take me a while to card and spin.  File this in the long-term project category.

And of course there’s been knitting!  In the initial recovery time, I finished the first sleeve on my cardigan project.  This time around I wasn’t so woozy that I couldn’t follow my own pattern.  The sleeve fits perfectly.

I then put the cardigan aside in favor of something mindless to work in the hours after dinner when my brain was too tired for sleeves.  I zoomed through the rest of the body of my skirt project, then on through the easy-to-memorize lace repeats, and worked the final edging cast off late last night.  The skirt got a bath this morning and is currently drying in the hopes that I can complete the finishing work and wear it to Knit Night tonight.  Crossing fingers!

What’s next on the needles then?  I picked up a couple of skeins of lace weight linen yarn on the last trip to San Francisco.  The idea is to use them, either singly or together, to create a lightweight rectangular wrap.  I love my woven wraps, and thought it might be nice to make a knitted version.

The first pass at a swatch using a lace pattern is giving me mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the fabric is what I expected and the pattern is as open as I had hoped.  On the other hand, the pattern is a little too open and working the decreases in this linen yarn is giving me fits.  This is a case of I like the stitch pattern, but in a different yarn.  I think I’m going to swatch again with a different stitch pattern and using two colors of the linen yarn to see what that looks like.

How’s that for cramming a lot into two weeks?  I might need a vacation now.

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