Living life with multiple chronic illnesses…. and some other stuff!

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Since having my right arm out of commission for a few days I focused on my artwork and black and white doodle art, which then got me thinking about Calligraphy. I have been interested in learning calligraphy for a long time, every since I learned what it was I guess, but could never really get the hang of it. It wasn’t until the other day I had figured out why, it was the whole left-handed thing.

Lefties are at a major disadvantage when it comes to handwriting and penmanship in general. When we are first taught how to write we learn the basics – how to hold a pencil, where the paper should be, and that we write from left to right (in the western languages). For right-handed people, the pencil is pulling away from the left side of the paper when forming letters, words, etc. For lefties, we are pushing the pencil towards the right which requires more effort, stabilization of the pencil and paper, and often leads to the “death-grip” way of holding a pencil. Other disadvantages lefties face include blocking the path of writing from sight. When a righty is writing across the page they are able to see clearly what the are writing, lefties, however, end up covering their writing with their hand making it difficult to see. The other issue is smudging their work. There are ways to try to avoid these things. Many lefties will “hook” their hand over the line of writing, some will turn their hand under (this is basically how I write), or vertically by turning the paper 90* and form the letter from top to bottom.

Now, I understand why it’s been difficult for me to learn Calligraphy and why my handwriting abilities tend to struggle. But now, what do I do about it!?! Well, after much research on YouTube and Google, I have figured it out. Not only do I understand the basics of Calligraphy and what I need to do in order to learn it, I’ve learned the best way for me to improve my handwriting and how I write! Woohoo! Anyway, there are a few ‘fonts,’ shall we say, that are easier for lefties than righties (who knew???). It also just happens to be the more popular, too! No Way!!! It’s the Engrossers/Engravers or otherwise known as Copperplate.

There are variations to Copperplate which make up more script styles (ie, Spencerian). The way the Penman/Calligrapher holds the pen is what makes this particular script unique. The way the pen is held is natural for lefties, but not righties. Righties have to either “hook” their hand or turn their hand in another awkward position in order to achieve this script. Pretty much every other script or calligraphy style is the opposite for lefties. There is a handy little invention that makes Calligraphy easier for both lefties and righties.

It is the Oblique Pen Holder which allows lefties to be able to hold the pen at a comfortable position for most calligraphy styles (for copperplate and its variant and straight pen holder is fine) and allows righties to be comfortable to work the copperplate style.
Straight Holder:
So now I am set with the pens needed (and the ink, etc) I just need to learn how. I’ve printed off some practice sheets from The Zanerian which offers free lessons with video tutorials and started to practice the basic shapes. I’ve also ordered Left Handed Calligraphy, and The Calligrapher’s Bible.

Not only have I become somewhat obsessive about Calligraphy, but also Fountain Pens. I have been drooling, ok maybe not DROOLING, but definitely in lust of some very beautiful pens. I’ve always been a pen hoarder, fiend, etc., and also known to be very obsessive over my pens with a little dash of cleptomania when it comes to really awesome pens. But now, I’ve been introduced to a whole new world of beautifully elegant, smooth-writing, Fountain Pens. I just bought this lovely pen:
which I also bought Neil for his birthday or Christmas or something one year and he never used (more pens for me!). It’s not an expensive pen, but a good starter pen. I also fell in love with this little beauty: It’s a short pen and I got the one in pink, of coarse. So I am really excited to receive my pens, they should be here in a few days!!! The Fountain Pens are different from typical calligraphy pens in that they write much smoother. They are “writing” pens and not for ornamental writing such as Engrossers.

So there you have, a lot of information that may interest some of you, but probably bore the rest!

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A paralympian, inspirational speaker, and an amputee, Aimee Mullins speaks about adversity, the meaning of “disabled,” and how to embrace adversity and use it to your advantage.  Please take the time to watch this video in its entirety.

Amiee Mullins Talks About Embracing Adversity


Pryoclastic socks have been ripped out and Money Socks have been cast on.  I decided it wasn’t worth the headache to try to do the math over for the second sock.  Lesson learned.  Next, I remembered some beautifully soft alpaca in my yarn stash and turns out I have enough for a sweater.  Awesome, I thought.  So, I find the pattern I want to do, Coraline by Ysolda Teagues.  I start on the gauge swatch which is only 4in x 4in, and in that little bit I had to rejoin the yarn about 5 times.  That’s approximately every two yards!  One looked like an actual break, the other were clean cuts.  I don’t know if I should email the company about it, or start the cardigan hoping that the other skeins are ok.  Sigh.


OK GO “This Too Shall Pass” Video Rube Goldberg Machine Version.


I received a second spindle yesterday so that I could play with my beautiful merino top (neatly prepared fleece) from Pancake & Lulu on Etsy.  It’s a beautiful burgundy-wine color (I know, you are all just so shocked!) with spots of white in it.  SO pretty.  This second spindle is a bottom whorl where the weight is on, you guessed it, the bottom.  I’ve been practicing with a top whorl spindle and still haven’t really gotten the hang of spinning with that yet, but I am very frustrated with the batt of alpaca I’ve been working with.  It’s not prepared all the well, especially for a beginner like me, and have been hemming and hawing about it and whether or not to keep it or to just sell it.  I’m thinking I’m going to sell it.  Meanwhile, I’ve been really wanting to work with the merino and since I now have a second spindle decided to give it a go.  Well, I am somewhat at a loss to how the bottom whorl process is and what makes it especially difficult is that I spin short lengths at a time using the park and draft method, (for all you non-spinners that are completely lost, I apologize, there will be more spinning stuff later on) which for a bottom whorl doesn’t seem to work very well.  I have Abby Franquemont’s book Respect the Spindle which is a great book for a spinner to own, and will be receiving the corresponding DVD in the mail shortly.  So with all this guidance coming my way, I should be ok?  lol.

On the knitting front, I’ve been working on the pyroclastic socks from Knitty using a very pretty yarn gifted to me.  Only issue being it’s a heavy fingering that’s close to sport weight and have had to do quite  a bit of math.  Now that I am almost done with the first sock I’ve realized that I didn’t write any of the new numbers down…. facepalm.  I think I am going to frog it, sad I know, and finding a more suitable sock pattern for this lovely yarn and make the Pyroclastics with a different yarn I have.


I attempted to make a video earlier tonight updating on some stuff.  I made the video…. then lost it.  I must not  have saved it correctly because when I went to find it, it was gone.  No trace.  Well, the up side is that it wasn’t a very good video anyway.   I look like crap, I sound stoned, and I am dealing with awful neck pain and headaches.  Seriously.  No joke.  Instead, I posted a little video of Kitten Face being cute!

I’m still knitting away.  I have 3 projects going right now.  The Pyroclastic Socks I mentioned in my last post.  They are a fun knit, I am nearly finished with the first sock.  The second is a simple cowl made with some 100% silk I’ve had in my stash for quite some time.  It’s an easy, no-thinking-required project to do when I am not up to much thinking.  The third is knitted mitred squares for a blanket I am working on.  I have SO MUCH acrylic yarn, which is really only good for afghans, than I know what to do with.  My sister is getting more into crocheting and will be getting some of the yarn.  Neil’s mother makes Granny Squared blankets all the time so some of it will go to her; and, after talking with her about the yarn I have and making blankets, we made an agreement that if I knit up the squares (I can’t crochet very much these days), she will seam them together and then sell them at the art fairs that she sends hers and split the profit!  Rock on!

I have also decided to list of three things I am grateful for everyday!

Today I am grateful for:

People who love me.

My cat to keep me entertained.

My Service Dog Shadow to help me with every day things.

Activities to keep me busy and my mind working.

Having things to do that can be down while laying down!