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November 2014
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Posts from December 2014

How to shorten a mitten cuff in ten years or less

Stranded mittens are beautiful but I find getting the fit right can be a challenge since the colour work pattern will determine the size of the mitten and row gauge (something I almost never seem to knit to) is crucial.

If the mitten has a cuff without the main pattern there's a opportunity to adjust the length a bit but again I can't always tells how it will all come together AND interact with my various coat sleeves. I like my winter outerwear to be free of gaps to I can keep warm.

I made these mittens almost ten years ago, wear them often, but never liked the length of the cuffs. They are a bit too long and bunch up against my coat sleeves or I have to tuck them in like when I was a kid, but I have no mom to do the second sleeve (remember when your mom did that?)

Last week I decided to fix them by shortening the cuff. Crazy? A little. But I got out my scissors and got brave.

The pictures are of the second mitten. The first one took a LOT longer and had to be redone after the second mitten because it was longer and I didn't like the bind off. Hacking an old knit can take a lot of time and may yield unexpected issues.

Step one: figure out how much you want to remove and use a stitch marker to hold that stitch. I used my absolutely perfect Fiddlehead mittens as a guide. Also, I found that I ended up taking off an extra row or two because the corrugated ribbing is more complicated to undo, so plan for that.

Step two: cut, yes snip, one stitch and start unravelling that row. It's a bit like doing a reverse Kitchener and is a bit fiddly. I found it easier to use a needle to unpick the stitches. These mittens are well worn and the stitches are happy and snug where they are.

 
I'm about halfway here. Don't worry too much about the live stitches. Knitting doesn't easier unravel this direction so the stitches will stay put until you need them.
 
 
Step three: once the cuff is off, use smaller than called for needles (guess if your mittens and really old and you have no idea what needles you used) pick up the live stitches. They're a bit weird with the two colour ribbing and because they're upside down, but the idea is to get all the stitches back on the needles. You might have to unpick another row to get this accomplished.
 
Step four: this one is easy. Knit a row. I used the brown yarn because it was the colour I used for the cast on and would be the one I'd use to bind off. There was no way I would try to do any ribbing on these.
 
Step five: with a larger needle, bind off neatly. This took me a few tries. A sewn bind off would have been really nice, as would an icord, but at this point I wanted them finished.
 
Step six: try on an admire. Now the mittens graze the cuff of my coat without bunching!
 
 
Should have done this year's ago. I'm wearing them a lot more now.

 

 


Forty-Four Fixer-Upper

Many women remark that their being in their forties is pretty fantastic. I was doubtful because as a woman in a youth obsessed society forty is old. And I would get chin hairs and grey hairs and get all peri-menopausal and shit. What I didn't realize until lately is that, yes all that is true (and what the actual fuck is up with the chin hairs?!) but that I don't actually care one bit what anyone thinks of my looks or my mood or any of it.

I have zero fucks to give. That's magic.

But while I don't care what others think of how I look, how old I am, and except for those I love and respect, what I think and do, I do care about how I see myself and how I want to feel in my body and be in my world. So I started fixing stuff.

First was my skin. Almost 30 years with psoriasis was enough. I was tired of being itchy, applying greasy ointment, having to pick clothing that would hide ugly red patches. And I was tired of spending time on treatments that only sorta worked. Last spring I took a leap and chose a new biologic systemic drug (Stelara) and I'm almost completely clear. I was afraid of systemic treatments because of risks and side effects but realized that I don't want more children and am at a time in my life where it's my turn to do stuff for me. It was the right time and I still feel good about making the decision. It used to seem shallow to want to fix what was essentially a cosmetic issue but taking this drug has changed my life. Both in the time I spent treating my skin and worrying about how I could be in the world with ugly skin. And it feels great.

Next was something a bit more troublesome. Stress incontinence. Super common in women. Almost never discussed. And while I've tweeted that I had lady-part surgery, I haven't said what until now (eep!). But I realized it's important to tell my story.

I've lived with it since I had my kids and it was getting worse. It made doing things I enjoyed like running, ball hockey, laughing, sneezing and sometimes walking, well, messy. I talked to my doctor a few years ago but decided to not get a referral. She pushed but not too hard. Then after the stelara victory I realized that I need to fix the things that bug me or I'll be unhappy. So off I went. Met the urogynaecologist, did the tests (email me if you want the details--they're uncomfortable) and booked the surgery. I chose to wait until ball hockey season ended so I wouldn't lose my spot on the team and it was a long summer and fall because I had decided and was ready.

I had the surgery November 5th. Tension-free, vaginal tape. Like a face-lift for your urethra! It was day surgery and I got over my fear of everything medical, sucked it up and it wasn't awful. The recovery was uncomfortable for about a week (catching a cold five days after seriously sucks) and I got two weeks at home to watch tv and movies and knit (I finished 5 cowls) and now a month later I'm feeling pretty great and leak free. All I wait for now is the all-clear appointment at 6 weeks so I can start running and riding my bike to work. That'll be the true test but I'm feeling optimistic. And again, taking care of me for ME was the right thing to do.

The time off work also gave me time to think about what else needs fixing. Not just my body, but who I want to be in my forties. My kids are teenagers and need me a lot less. What do I want to achieve professionally? What outside things do I want to pursue? What shape does my life take as my kids get closer to leaving home (they do that, right?!). I don't have real answers, but it's cool to have the freedoms to think about it.

I'll let you know what I come up with.

The next fix is my hair. I decided to stop dying it. I'm telling my stylist tomorrow. I will have her help me plot the grow out. I'm tired of paying the money and taking the time and resent that men get grey and sexy (like George Clooney) and women get grey and old. Fuck that.

Though once it's natural, I do plan to get a streak or two or cobalt blue, because I can.