Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

The Dark Side of Love

I am sorry for the long silence, friends. Last we spoke, my little Hatchling was only 7 weeks old, and he’s now tripled in age. At 21 weeks old (almost 5 months) he’s become a curious little boy who giggles, watches everything, and gives sloppy, full-face, open-mouthed kisses. He’s basically the cutest thing ever and I absolutely love being his mom.

But I’m not going to lie, parenthood hit our family like a ton of bricks. Our feeding issues (he never latched) caused a lot of stress for me, personally, and impacted my marriage as well. I won’t recount the whole sad story here but suffice it to say that we saw endless lactation consultants and doctors and had multiple incorrect diagnoses before it was finally confirmed that Oliver had a tongue tie AND a lip tie, both of which prevented him from latching on and breastfeeding successfully. We had the ties released (with lasers!) which vastly improved his ability to suck and eat from a bottle, but by the time we had the procedures done, it was too late for our nursing relationship. The little guy was too smart, he knew his food came from a bottle and there was no way we could convince him otherwise. So I pumped as much milk for him as I could and cried oceans of tears over this. It is difficult to explain to anybody who is not a mother but breastfeeding was immensely important to me and I definitely grieved the loss.

At the same time, I was dealing with some lingering postpartum complications, including hormone-driven anxiety and depression, as well as trying to get back on the same page with my dear Fiasco. Time has healed most of the postpartum complications, and new parent couples counseling has done wonders for the communication issues that the Fiasco and I were experiencing. I’m telling all this to illustrate that a whole hell of a lot changes after you have a baby, and I think it’s important that it doesn’t get glossed over and buried under the cultural narrative of cute onesies and sweet lullabies. It’s also important (to me, politically) that parenthood remains a choice. Having a baby is an incredible responsibility and it will directly (and permanently) impact your health, your finances, your relationships, and the course of your entire life. It should not be entered into lightly or because a distant politician has ideas about the autonomy of a blob of partially-divided cells.

It’s not just a ‘transformative experience’, as I’ve heard it described. I’d call it obliterative. It takes everything you think you know, and everything you are, and shakes it all down to your foundation. Then it makes you slowly pick up the pieces, rebuilding each bit with new corners and edges where the baby fits in. And through it all, there is intense, spellbinding, all-consuming joy. And pride. And fear. And doubt. And hope. And a deep, dark, breathless love.

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So much love.

Now, finally, it’s also starting to get really fun. Around three or four months old, he started interacting more and it’s wonderful to get some feedback from him. To know that he’s ok, that we’re fulfilling his needs, that he recognizes us and wants to be with us. It’s amazing to watch little pieces of his personality developing. Our boy is a wee bit demanding but also persistent, and has a somewhat low tolerance for frustration. He’s also super smart, pays attention to everything, and he thinks being surprised is the funniest thing. We’ve even developed a couple of ‘private jokes’ of a sort. He gives me a special smile whenever I sing a certain part of his favorite lullaby, and he giggles like a fiend when I say “suck suck suck!” during his suck training exercises.

All of this is to say hello again, I’ve missed you, and here’s some of what has kept me away. It’s also to say I’m here, if you are a new parent and are maybe feeling alone or like you need help. And that it gets easier. I am now back at work again, I have even been knitting a little, and am finally feeling ready to  rebuild a few more lost bits of myself. I hope you’ve all been well.

Pregnant Thoughts

I am 30 weeks pregnant right now, which is 3/4 of the way through this experience. I have quite a few thoughts about this ‘condition’ and I figured I’d share them here. Before I got pregnant, I tried to understand from a variety of books what being pregnant would feel like, but somehow the message didn’t quite get through. I’ll caveat this entire post with the fact that I think every pregnancy is different, people experience some/all/none of the same symptoms to differing degrees and what’s true for me, might be totally not true for you. I’ll also add that despite what sounds like a list of complaints, I’m grateful that I was easily able to get and stay pregnant. This baby is very much wanted, it’s just the pre-baby stuff I’d rather not have. Some of this can’t help but be TMI, so consider yourself warned. Here we go.

THE GOOD:

  • I like feeling the little bugger move around in there. It feels kind of like an involuntary muscle twitch, except it isn’t you who is moving. FREAKY.
  • Seeing the baby on ultrasound and watching its little heart flutter gracefully like a deep sea anemone was truly beautiful.
  • The relaxin hormone flowing through my body has loosened up hip and pelvis muscles that I’d previously had to go to physical therapy and yoga to fix. Now they feel fine!
  • As opposed to some people who have oilier skin during pregnancy, mine’s been drier. This has been great for my face (no acne) and hair (less shampooing).
  • No period for months is appreciated.
  • The anticipation is really fun. Planning for baby, reading about baby, imagining life with baby… and it’s brought the Fiasco and me much closer together. There’s a whole new level of tenderness in our relationship for which I am really grateful.
  • Perfect excuse to not do something if you don’t want to, play that preggo card!

THE BAD:

  • I basically feel like I’ve had the flu for months. So much mucus, everywhere, all the time. Enough that I gag on it almost daily while trying to brush my teeth. So much. Thanks, hormones.
  • Fatigue… epic fatigue. I’ve never been so tired. Naps are a survival necessity, and I hate wasting time in naps.
  • Digestive issues. Some women get constipation. Some have the opposite. Many get heartburn. Your digestive tract will basically feel completely foreign to you and mostly uncomfortable all the time. Make sure you like your bathroom.
  • Nausea and food aversions. I thankfully haven’t thrown up too many times, but I was queasy for at least 2 months straight, and still have to force down chicken. The food aversions make me super anxious and frustrated since I’ve spent a long time cultivating a healthy diet and now, when it’s arguably the most important time to eat healthfully, my body flat-out rejects many of the healthy staples I relied on. I literally hate eating. Every meal is a chore. WHERE ARE MY FUN CRAVINGS AND WEIRD BINGES AND EATING ALL THE THINGZ? That just doesn’t exist for me. I get one well-rounded meal in a day and the rest is snacks. This baby is probably 90% dairy products, peanut butter, and apples.
  • Really scary shit can go wrong, so it’s a nerve-wracking time, and everything feels unfamiliar. That is all amplified if you fall into a ‘high-risk’ category. I developed a blood clot and have had to inject myself twice a day with blood thinners for 4 months. I’ve made two unnecessary trips to the ER for normal pregnancy pains because doctors are unhelpful over the phone and it’s hard to know what’s serious and what’s not and WHAT IF IT’S SERIOUS?!?! Other people have gestational diabetes or preeclampsia or other things that land them in bed for the duration of their pregnancies. You just can’t know how it will go until you’re in it.
  • There are a lot of weird pains you wouldn’t necessarily expect: ligaments in the abdomen stretching, foot and calf cramps, sore boobs, headaches, backaches, etc. It’s a fun game of “oooh, what hurts today?” sometimes.
  • I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to go ahead and add labor and delivery in here. No matter how you experience it or what approach you take to manage the pain, I can’t imagine labor being a particularly ‘good’ experience… it’s hard, dangerous, unknowable, stressful, life-changing work.

THE STRANGE:

  • Hair grows everywhere! I had no idea! My belly looks like a giant peach. I am so much fuzzier than before.
  • Shortness of breath. I get this a lot, but especially in the beginning it was a weird panick-y CAN’T BREATHE feeling that is apparently due to your body tripling its blood volume and it taking a while for the number of red blood cells carrying oxygen to catch up. Weird, right?
  • I’m hot all the time. Prior to pregnancy, I ran cold, with a resting body temp usually around 96 deg F. Now I’m consistently 98-99 deg F and haven’t worn a jacket since February. The poor Fiasco froze his butt off this winter.
  • You really will pee constantly. It’s amazing, especially since you’ll also feel like you are constantly dehydrated. Where does all the liquid come from?
  • Bouts of itchiness, everywhere, but especially on the belly. I had to stop using normal soap because my skin became so sensitive. I use some sort of special cleanser for people with cancer. I also had to start using a super thick, petro-chemical-laden body moisturizer because the natural stuff wasn’t staying on long enough.
  • There are a boatload of ‘old wive’s tails’ that surround pregnancy, particularly with regards to guessing the sex of the baby and PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THAT SHIT.
  • You will not do nearly as much knitting as you expect!

TAKE-HOME TIPS:

  • Don’t be like me and think “ok, I will have 9 months left to finish a bunch of things before my life changes” when you get pregnant. Think, instead, “ok, I am dedicating the next year of my life to baby-making because everything changes from day one and there will be minimal time and energy for anything else from now on” because that’s more like it.
  • Be pregnant during the winter, it’ll save on your heating bill, and I can’t imagine doing this in the dead of summer.
  • Sleep when you have to. Just do it. You’ll be happier for it. Forget your to-do list. And when you’re really super duper cranky biting people’s heads off? Put yourself to bed.
  • A maternity support belt is worth it, especially if you’re heavier to begin with. It has helped my sciatica pain to wear the belt when I’m out walking around or exercising. You also need a birth ball. I sit on mine at work and it really helps keep my hips relaxed, the change of position is good, and by the third trimester sitting semi-reclined on the couch is super uncomfortable so it’s nice to have around the house. Finally, I wholeheartedly recommend a  snoogle body pillow for sleeping. That thing is heaven-sent.
  • Surround yourself with people who get it. If you have to listen to the media or well-meaning family talk to you about the ‘joys of pregnancy’ and how ‘it’s all so worth it’ while you’re in the thick of it, you’ll go nuts. Find a support group, a chat board, a friend, anything where you can vent to like-minded people and normalize your experience.
  • Take a birth class, I recommend the Bradley method for natural birth. Even if you end up with a medicated birth or a c-section, the class is longer than the typical hospital classes and it makes you stop and think about the birth on a weekly basis. Mental preparation is half the battle, and the techniques and tips we got from the doula who taught it are helping me feel like I can handle things, no matter how terrifying. Our class also had great tips for soothing the baby and breastfeeding. it wasn’t all birth-related.
  • Find a good, caring, supportive partner for this before you do it. That might seem obvious but I’m grateful every day that I’m doing this with the Fiasco by my side. You will have days where you just freak the fuck out and you need someone there to love and care for you. (And then try not to yell at him/her too much during the hormonal tantrum times. Those happen.)

Those are my thoughts! It’ll be fun to look back on this after the Hatchling is born and see if all of it becomes a distant memory like I’ve been told…

Kylie Gusset on Sourcing Ethical Wool

I’ve never ‘reblogged’ a post before but this one is so important, I hope you check it out.

Wovember

Good afternoon, WOVEMBERISTS! Today we have an important BONUS POST from Kylie Gusset, creator of the awesome Ton of Wool project. This afternoon she speaks about sourcing ethical wool and several issues for us to better understand as consumers of WOOL.

How Climate Change Is More Painful Than Mulesing Ever Was.

When we talk about sourcing wool from credible, ethical sources one of the first words to enter the discussion is mulesing. However in terms of the health of animals, planet and people, there is a far more insidious and less well-known problem: Chinese processing. I really wanted to write about mulesing for Wovember because as consumers, we need to be able to make buying decisions with our eyes wide open.

Mulesing: “The process of removing folds of skin from the tail area of a sheep, intended to reduce fly strike.”

I don’t think I’ve seen another word as divisive…

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SWEET SHEEP KNITTING WEEKEND!

Working an entire week of 12-14 hour days means you get one measly blog post mention about this weekend’s event, and an old photo.

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Sweet Sheep vending!

Regardless, Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe will be at the Knitting Weekend marketplace this Saturday AND Sunday (1/16 – 1/17) from 10 am – 4 pm at Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI. If you haven’t signed up for classes, you can still attend the marketplace, which was completely packed last year and chock full of local, handmade goodies. Hope to see you there.

(Back to writing… hope to get to sleep tonight… please excuse me if I look like a zombie tomorrow.)

Guess What’s In 10 Days?

I really have no idea how the holidays snuck up on me so stealthily this year. CHRISTMAS IS IN 10 DAYS. I’m rounding a little because in my family, Christmas Eve is the big gift-giving exchange. And in my case, we travel a few days beforehand, so I literally have 8 days to get my holiday shit together, counting today, which is basically over.

I have purchased maybe 20% of the gifts I intend to purchase, and wrapped 0% (but let’s face it, the Fiasco does all the wrapping because I have no patience for that kind of fuss). I’ve knit 40% of the WHOPPING TWO ITEMS I planned to knit. I’ve decorated 0% of our apartment, though to be fair, we’ve only lived in this apartment for 9 days and are already 75% unpacked so I still call that a win, if not for Christmas, than for general well-being.

And perhaps worst of all, I’ve gotten very, very few of my holiday plans for Sweet Sheep accomplished. Visions of whipped body butters and cuticle creams and pretty wooden soap dishes danced in my head, and none have yet come to fruition. I haven’t even had a chance to stock many of my holiday fragrances yet this season! I am attempting to remedy that this week, though, so keep an eye out for yummy lotion bars in Gingersnap and Jingleberry and Fresh Snow. I did manage, however, to get Peppermint Cocoa up and running.

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Perfect for dry winter hands, this bar smells of  rich and decadent cocoa with a cooling hint of peppermint. Even better, I managed to make a few bars of this fragrance in my sheep-shaped goat milk soap, as well. Please note that Saturday, December 19th will be my last day of shipping before the holidays, then Sweet Sheep will be taking a little vacation from 12/20 – 12/28.

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If you live in Rhode Island and need some last-minute gift ideas, you should check out Craftland in Providence. All of their gifts are handmade by talented artisans, and you can find a selection of Sweet Sheep lotions and sheep soaps there through the January, as well!

Now, back to those gift lists… sigh. This song by Straight No Chaser is still one of the bright spots of the season for me:

WIPWed #111: No Knitting

I have not knit a single stitch around here in days. But, the move went well and the cleanup of the old apartment is done and unpacking is in progress and work deadlines are becoming more manageable, so things are looking up compared to my last post.

In lieu of knitting, I’ll write about my current real-life-WIP: the new apartment we’re renting. Please excuse the crummy nighttime cell phone photos, they are all I have.

After painting the living room sage green (instead of poop brown), it was vastly improved. It’s a cozy pace that is a bit too small for the big bookshelf we have in there, so that will probably be moved in order for me to have a spinning corner again. The bathroom required no work, the benefits of moving in to an apartment that somebody owned (versus a complex) is that if they had excellent taste in fancy fixtures, you get to have nice sinks and shelves and counters and things.

The kitchen was a major attraction in this place. Lots of counter space, everything is new and pretty, and it is nice and open, in fact it’s centrally located to all of the rest of the rooms. The main drawback is that the tile floor is COLD! I am not used to tile flooring or a lack of carpets, and my poor freezing feet are suffering. I will need to invest in additional slippers this winter for sure. Not pictured is a little sun room / mud room off the kitchen that will serve as my office / Sweet Sheep headquarters. In one of the pictures, you can see into the second bedroom a bit, which is currently serving as the Fiasco’s Gaming Den.

The main bedroom is one we really like. It’s a good size and the owners had this crazy intense custom closet situation put in that takes an entire wall. That closet is great, but it is the only real closet in the place, besides a tiny coat closet that is also in the main bedroom. Thank goodness we have access to the basement or we’d never have space for all of our accumulated stuff. In fact, I’m still not quite happy that most of my yarn will have to live in the basement, I’m afraid of it getting damp/musty down there. We’ll have to see what we can manage.

And that’s the new place! There’s a backyard with a nice patio, too, that we’ll make good use of during the warmer months. Cold floors and tighter spaces and all, we’re happy to have moved. It feels much homier than our previous place and we’re hoping to settle in there for a good long while.

While I haven’t been knitting, I have been reading up a storm during my spare moments. I finished the first book in the Lord John sub-series of Outlander, but couldn’t access the rest from the library due to moving frenzy, so decided instead to re-read The Hunger Games series which I did in an alarmingly quick 5 or 6 days. Those books are still fantastic. Pickings were slim on my kindle so I read About A Boy, which was a marshmallow fluff of a story that probably makes a better movie. And now I’ve started A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens because it’s there and I’ve never read it. I have to hit up the library soon…

Hope you all are having good weeks! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.