Friday, January 25, 2013

My Knitting Experience

So far given my experience and struggles with knitting in the last month my summation of it is that you'd be better off rubbing those two sticks you sharpened together to knit with to start a fire. Now I don't know if this is a reflection on the act of knitting, my own personal patience levels or the fact that I had a concussion. I'm sure my mom would say it my lack of patience but I taught my daughter the basics of crocheting in about 20 minutes. Knitting has fewer stitches and should be somewhat easier to learn. It does however require more eye hand coordination.

 I can admit that perhaps it was my concussion but really....It took me 2 whole days just to figure out how to get the dang yarn on the stick for the anchoring row in the first place...yet alone actually knitting anything. I do not remember having so much difficulty in crocheting, ever. I also admit that the two blankets I have on my project list at the moment will be crocheted. I want quality for gifting not beginner mayhem.

I will not quit, I will not give up! I will proceed with the knitting until I have something that looks reasonably like a scarf. My long term goal with knitting is to be able to make my own socks and all the beautiful patterns I see that are knitted.  I also have this perhaps not so far-fetched fantasy of making my own knitting needles in an emergency. I was a machinist after all and they'd be really easy to turn out on a lathe. I do wonder if I could just use some sticks and a pencil sharpener to make some needles.

The thing is sometimes I think the harder something is the more stubborn I become about it. Usually it means I will persist not only in learning but in mastering it. It satisfies a competitive streak in me. Unfortunately that same competitive streak can lead to problems in other areas. For instance I should have seen a doctor much, much sooner than I did. Stubbornness isn't always a good thing. Sadly I'm not any better handling my stubbornness and impatience now than I was at age 10. Good thing it's winter and there isn't much else to do besides keep house, take care of minion, blog, go to the doctor, and dream about summer and the garden.

February is seed starting time and an endeavor has not been decided right off hand for my monthly learning project but I'm thinking of either learning to tie knots or how to make A frame trellises for the garden. Shall we vote?

Don't forget to post your suggestions for other future learning adventures and your favorite links as well. Everyone can always use a good link.


As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fiber Crafts ~ Why and How They Apply To Self Sufficiency

What are they? Fiber arts include--crocheting, knitting, weaving, spinning of raw material into yarn or thread, dyeing, embroidery and other thread and needle work, basket making, beadwork, braiding, clothing design, felting, hooking, lacework, quilting, sewing and well as the raising of crops or animals specifically for use in producing fiber...such as cotton, hemp, milkweed, bamboo, yucca, sheep, alpacas, Llamas or rabbits.

Stuff comes from somewhere and is made of something right? Where are you getting clothes if no one knows how to spin raw wool or cotton into yarn and then make something durable and lasting out of it? Oh yeah you've prepped enough of everything in every size you'll ever need and your socks never wear out. 

Knitting first, since that's what I am learning, then crocheting.

The oldest known examples of knitting are some very stylized 'Coptic socks' from 1000 CE Egypt. This makes the practice of knitting around 1100-1200 years old, given they had to have time to learn and perfect the art. It is believed knitting originated in the Middle East and moved north along trade routes. In Europe during the 1400s Knitting guilds were formed and were exclusively male with structured apprenticeship systems in order to improve the quality of the craft and the clientele. We occasionally add a new technique as it passes down through history but knitting is still mostly unchanged from twelve hundred years ago. Knitting needles are essentially just sharpened sticks so if you know how and have some string, you can create literally any article of clothing.

Crocheting it appears is more dubious leaping into our recorded history in the early 1800's. The word crochet originates from the French word "croche" meaning hook. However some believe crocheting with a hook could have existed as early as 1500A.D. and may have been part of nun’s work or nun’s lace which included needle point lace and bobbin lace for churches. Others believe that some lace from Egyptian tombs were actually crocheted by twisting pieces of cotton between the fingers and making the loops by hand and that it originated in the area around Afghanistan. Many ancient fishing nets also include finger loop in loop work and are much like crochet. Where ever it came from it is certain that crocheting items for sale saved the Irish from starvation during the famine of the late 1800’s and gave us Irish Crochet Lace.

Some ancient Fiber arts terms that you may or may not have heard of are NÃ¥lebinding or Naalbinding and Tambouring. Naalbinding is worked with a single hook or needle but relates more closely to knitting. It is still in practice today in the Camisea region of Peru. NÃ¥lebinding also remains popular in the Scandinavian countriesthe, the Balkans and Iran. Tambouring which some believe to be the source of crochet and is known better today as tambour embroidery, is still practiced in its native home of France and called Luneville in French. One can find a course in it here or there in the states.

Week 1---Dec 25th-Jan 1st
In my initial experience I have decided knitting and crochet are very very different. It is my understanding that yes they both produce blankets and wearables. Knitting upon further inspection is supposed to produce a stretchier fabric and better socks while crocheting produces a superior laciness. It is also my understanding that Knitting has only a few basic simple stitches while Crocheting has many different stitches. So you would think that crocheting would be the harder one, right? Ha! The book I got is very basic and I can't even figure out how to cast on in order to get started. I definitely need more information and pictures.

Week 2-Jan 2nd-Jan 9th
I have noticed so far that while most people use the same terms and techniques for crocheting this is far from true with knitting. There are multiple ways just to get the yarn on the needle to start your item with...though everyone agrees this is basically called casting on. The knit stitch I have heard called just that...or knitting...or the garter stitch. Are they the same? I've no Idea for sure but they look exactly the same in every YouTube video I've seen. Furthermore where does my yarn go...right side, left side...and do I go in the front or the back with the needle? Does it matter as long as I pull a loop through and off? My brain may just explode trying to get it all straight. Apparently they are all correct knitting methods and it depends on where you learned. Oh and the whole hold two sticks and the yarn thing...that's three things...I've got two hands and dang if they don't hurt.

Week 3-Jan 3-Jan 10th
I've casted on and frogged(pulled it out) about 3 or 4 times and now have two very ugly rows of something...garter stitch, I believe....wide enough for a modest scarf. How the heck does anyone ever work a large blanket anyway...with all the stitches on the needle all at once? In crocheting it’s one stitch at a time whether it’s a baby blanket, sweater, or king sized blanket. I cannot imagine holding enough stitches for a king sized blanket on a set of hooks until it’s finished. Whoa.. then there is the whole switching of hands at the end of the row, which is front and which is back? Does it matter? I imagine in fair isle it does and I love cable knits, crocheting cannot match it. I can see why crocheting came along though....someone found a simpler easier way to do a great number of things and add variety.

Week 4- Jan 11-17
I'm on a medical restriction due to a fall and bump to my head a few weeks back and have been told I cannot exercise my brain in order for it to heal. I may only do small bits and spurts of activity at a time. So I guess I'll be taking a break and trying to learn how to knit all over again in a few weeks. Perhaps my difficulties are more related to using my head to break a fall than knitting.

My favorite places for help are on YouTube...I'm better aided visually. For knitting a user or group of users called "allfreeknitting" has been the most help so far...maybe because they are closest to what my mom tried to show me. For crocheting I look for Crochet by Teresa or by tjw1963. She is by far my favorite. For patterns I usually search the web. Pinterest and the yarn manufacturers have some great free patterns. I am on ravelry and craftsy too both are great sites for networking with others to get new patterns, learn new stitches and get advice on your art. Craftsy also offers some really great classes if you can't get out to one or want something that isn't offered in your area. My favorite books for either crochet or knitting are the "answer books" by Storey publishing. The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe and The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman (both available on the Kaya Books page). They are simple, concise, and cover beginner to experienced crafts people. They are available at the local library but I'd love to add them to my collection of self sufficiency books.

Now I PROMISED I would not leave out the guys. I found plenty of patterns for guys and some by guys. Apparently if you are a woman who knits you also probably know another woman who knits. Likewise if you are a man who knits you probably know a woman who knits. This is not true if you are a guy who knits of other guys though so here are some links just especially for the guys who may be doing this.


Famous male knitters--I couldn't really find verifiable information for a single well known male knitter but amongst the rumored men who knit are Laurence Fishburne, Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe. One of the few Known confirmed knitters is Antonio Banderas who is said to have learned to knit from Catherine Zeta Jones while recovering from an injury.

Men knitting or participating in the fiber arts seems to picking up everywhere though.


The most well-known male crocheter is the crochet dude, Drew Emborsky. He is on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and has his own website and blog. He also has his own product line of pattern books and crochet supplies.

Other men who crochet that you might have heard of are Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Rivera, James Buchanan the 15th U.S. President, and George Washington Carver.

That's about all I could factually nail down or confirm from more than one source.

It is said that David Arquette does both knitting and crocheting but I could not confirm that he does either one. It is also highly and hotly debated at times that Roosevelt Grier of the NY Giants knits and crochets. I believe he is better known however for his needlepoint. Either one of them are welcome to confirm their standing in fiber arts with us though.

I must add this disclaimer...The viewpoints expressed in this blog may have been slightly skewed by an injury to the author...I fell on the 16th of December and suffered a concussion. As the doctor ordered rest and inactivity on the 8th of January, when I finally gave in and saw her, week 4 was/is null and void as I did no knitting that week. Week 3 was not quite a full week either. Next time I promise I will see the Dr. Sooner.

Wish me much patience, I'll need it. Don't forget to post your suggestions and favorite links as well. Everyone can always use a good link.


As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Reflections, Gratitude, and New Goals

Last week’s blog admittedly reflected some of 2012's frustration and negativity in our life. Sometimes that happens and in 2012 it seems it happened quite a bit. I spent the first 15 hours of the new year in bed and the rest of the day was a wash as well. Yet I'm okay with that. You see, I have Meniere's Disease and sometimes it wins. I promise that this is NOT a poor me and I will get to my point.

As a person who aims to be self sufficient it's important to acknowledge that I have Meniere's disease. Meniere's disease is most frequently diagnosed during middle age though I've had it quite a long time. Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder. It is not well understood, has no known cause, is unpredictable and often what I consider 'invisible'. Attacks or episodes of Meniere's disease often start without warning. They may occur daily, or as rarely as once a year. The severity of each episode can vary.

Meniere's disease usually has four main symptoms: Drop in hearing, Ringing or roaring in the affected ear or ears, Pressure in the ear and Vertigo.

1. & 2. Hearing loss may occur during an attack, in fact I believe it generally does. In most cases the hearing loss is only in one ear as Meniere's most often affects only one ear but it may affect both ears. When Meniere's disease occurs in both ears it is referred to as bi-lateral, this is what I have. Generally speaking a person's hearing tends to recover between attacks but gets worse gradually over time with Low frequency hearing being lost first. At this point in time I am essentially deaf in one ear and slowly losing the hearing in the other ear. However, my ears can also be overly sensitive at times making any sound intolerable. The roaring or ringing in the ear known as tinnitus is equally difficult and has prevented me from sleeping on many a night as the silence seems to amplify it.

3. A sense of pressure in the ear is also common and though most ear doctors have said it should not cause pain it often does. Just as flying or driving over the mountains, ear infections, or even swimmers ear can cause pain due to changes in pressure within the ear.

4. Severe vertigo or dizziness is the symptom that causes the most problems in most people. People who have vertigo feel as though they are spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around them. I continually feel as if I am moving, often feel as if I am falling and lately I also have a feeling of rocking or bobbing as if in a row boat during a really bad storm. Severe nausea, vomiting, and sweating often occur during a severe attack. Symptoms get worse with sudden movement and the person will frequently need to lie down. This is usually true and I generally I try to sleep through this. Typically The dizziness and feeling of being off-balance will last from about 20 minutes to a few hours though I've had longer lasting episodes and multiple episodes in the same day.

Other symptoms can include: Diarrhea, Headaches (it is being found in studies that many with Meniere's also suffer from Migraines, myself included), Pain or discomfort in the abdomen, and Uncontrollable eye movements. There are also repercussions from medications of which there are actually very few. Primarily I am given Water pills (diuretics) to help relieve fluid pressure in the inner ear and Valium to help reduce the muscle/tissue contraction in my ears. The valium also helps to ease the Nausea a bit. Diuretics when you live a loooong car ride to anywhere suck and Valium of course can be addictive and causes drowsiness.

Other changes that are recommended to help with the symptoms and keep you safe include: a low stress environment, resting during severe episodes, a low-salt, low caffeine diet, Avoiding sudden movements, bright lights, TV, and reading during attacks, because they may make symptoms worse. Uumm yeah I don't really always follow orders too well...boredom can and does sometimes take over after you've spent a day or two in bed resting but haven't been able to sleep.

It is also strongly suggested that one Avoid activities such as driving, operating heavy machinery, heights and climbing until 1 week after your symptoms disappear as a sudden dizzy spell during these activities can be extremely dangerous. It is recommended that I basically consider myself fully restricted from these activities and I generally don't do them. By the way that Climbing bit can and often does include stairs depending on how steep they are. You may also need help with other basic things like standing and walking when you lose balance during attacks.

Meniere's comes with the possibility for all kinds of secondary injuries. Bumping into things and falling is common. I now have a rotator cuff that suffers impingement on occasion and sciatica both from having fallen in the past. The most recent injury is a concussion I incurred on the 16th of December when I lost my balance during a bout of vertigo and inadvertently broke my fall with my head. It's been several weeks and I'm still recovering. This presents still other challenges to our self sufficiency. I will always need a medic around.

For More information please see these links:

So why am I telling you all this? What's my point? My point is that life is messy. When you have Meneiere's disease you never know when you are going to be laid flat and as a result have your entire life change. In 2007 I became fully disabled after several years of off and on problems. Most people look at me and don't understand how or why I am considered disabled. They see me doing "normal" everyday things. They may think me simply lazy and uncaring because I sleep until noon or think me a drunk when I walk with an unsteady and wobbly gait. They may assume I 'tune out' or am indifferent during conversations because I don't hear properly. When I fall people make all kinds of crazy judgements...if they see it...I must be drunk...if they didn't see it then that injury couldn't have come from falling, no one falls like that. They never associate it with a medical condition. Yes, folks, I do have a medical condition and it’s an unstable unpredictable one at that.

It's no picnic for my husband either. He has to pick up the slack when I'm sick or recovering from an injury. He has ended up leaving jobs to cover things here at home when I had to have surgery and done lots of minion duty while putting up with people who pass judgement about him not having a "regular" job. That includes potential employers who view his being a stay at home dad and periods of unemployment due to family issues as "voluntary" and negative. It's hard for him to be a stay at home dad and caregiver when he thinks he should have a job and knows we need a better income.

We've had to rebuild our lives many times. Thank god we are experienced at it, I guess, because in spite of all that in 2011 we were blessed with the ability to buy a house with a large lot that is much cheaper than renting in our area. Yes, it’s a fixer and maybe we didn't get as much done in 2012 as we would have liked but we had a lot of family time at home and had our best gardening season ever! We are also making some great friends here. Life has a way of rebounding and surprising you.

Do I still get sucked in by the 'this sucks' feelings? You bet I do. Lately it’s been heavily centered around our financial/monetary worth by way of comparison. It's hard to feel valued when you are sick on a regular but unpredictable basis and can't be what is considered 'normal' with a "regular" job and decent income. It’s even harder when you have to rely on others for even the basics sometimes. Very often you can't see purpose in the pattern of your daily life because it's hard to commit to things, big or small, when you don't know if you will be sick or just fine on a particular day at a particular time. It becomes particularly hard at times to know what your own value is in the world, the community, your family and even in yourself. You have to learn who you are and what you are capable of all over again to rebuild it. You also have to come to terms with your limitations. I know I can't work at a traditional job anymore and I miss that. Shopping, going to movies, and eating out are sometimes difficult; with all the travel, people moving around and commotion sometimes it makes me sick. Yes, I need extra help sometimes and yes it still kills me to ask for it. I'm getting better at it but when self sufficiency is your goal it gets really complicated. You do what you can when you can. Very few of my friends have followed me on this journey but the few who did are totally worth all the ones who didn't and I'm making new ones. Including all of you.

Without my disability a great many good people and things would not be in my life. We would not have this particular home. I would not have time to garden, help our minion as much as I do or learn new things. The rare occasions when we go out are indeed a treat to be enjoyed rather than something we take for granted; Even if I do get sick while out. In each day there is always a small moment when I am grateful. Grateful for my family, my beautiful children, our house, being able to still hear my grandson laugh, the sun shining just a certain way, even the bills that we pay for our house, food, warmth, lights, and to keep in touch with all of you.  Most of all I'm grateful for all the opportunities that are still possible and open to us. There are just so many.

I can still learn and do so much and with that in mind I've decided that in 2013 instead of or perhaps as a part of the monthly book review I'd like to cover one new thing I'm learning each month. I do not plan out all my activities however since I got my first set of knitting needles for Christmas that will be my January topic. As a crocheter it should be interesting. I know that made a lot of guys groan but I promise to have some 'manly' guy info with it. Okay maybe not so manly but definitely guy centered information.

On a personal note I'd like to thank my friends at the Fighting for Courtney Step by Step page on Facebook for reminding me of all this when I had lost sight of it a bit more than usual and for all their inspiration. Keep up the good fight Courtney!


As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Due to issues with commenting from mobile devices that we are still attempting to resolve and an otherwise duly noted lack of comments the blog posting format will be changed to one blog per week posted on Fridays.

Thanks from the kaya team and wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.