DIY make a knook tutorial

Previously, in “Knitting for crocheters who just can’t” we had an overview of Knooking, or knitting with a crochet hook. (Also an explanation of why I kinda hate the term Knooking but will use it anyway.)

So I’d gone and committed to Knitting Stuff, but none of the commercially available knit-hooks worked for me, so obviously I had to make my own. Simple, yeah? I began by modding a cheap set of bamboo tunisian hooks and that… mostly worked. But the hooks themselves were annoyingly shallow and I wanted to get into sock-making, which meant 2.0 mm and possibly smaller. Bamboo does not hold up well at those sizes.

What I really wanted was a set that closely replicated the characteristics of the Susan Bates Silvalume aluminum hooks I was more-or-less addicted to for most of my crochet work.

01“But, metal!” Said my brain. “Metal is intimidating to work with!”

“Shut up, brain.” I said. “We work with metal already.” As I reminded myself of the large amount of chainmail and jewelry I made over the winter.

So, having kicked the dumber side of my brain into silence, I picked up a Silvalume intro set. What you should be able to see from that closeup shot, is that these hooks, like most crochet hooks, have a wide flat section that helps you hold the hook. That’s no good for sliding knit stitches back off the hook. Also, the tip is rounded and blunt. A more pointed tip works better for knitting. Finally, I would need to modify the back end of the hook to allow for way to thread a cord through. (more on that shortly)

B02asic materials (not counting the hooks):

  • Jewelers metal file
  • Small clamping vise
  • Jewelers saw
  • Metal tubing (I use K&S brass)
  • Cut Lube (it will make the cutting and filing a lot easier)
  • Plumbers putty
  • Medium weight wire
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Optional: a nice day outside. (You’ll be producing a decent amount of metal dust – this is best done outside or in a ventilated workroom)

03Using the file, remove the “bumps” so that you can roll the hook smoothly on a flat surface, and sharpen the tip to your desired preference. When shaping smaller hooks you do need to take care not to make the hook area too thin. While aluminum is a strong metal, this is still craft grade. If you make it too thin it can snap under pressure. Finally, file down about a half inch section on the back into a round-ish “insert”. You will be fitting this into your brass tube. Depending in the diameter of the tube (which should be at least slightly smaller then the dia. of your hook) you will need to take off a varying amount of metal. This can take some elbow grease. If you are working outside, remember to hydrate. Also remember sunblock. (I didn’t.)04Test fitting the tube and insert. Yay! It fits.05Cut tube to desired length. I was aiming for about 3/4″.10And now a quick sidebar: this could probably be done a lot faster with power tools. In fact, I even have a dremel and grinding wheels. Unless pressed though, I prefer the finer control I have with hand tools.  Even though it takes longer.

Next step, sanding down the front end of the hook. Any roughness on the metal will catch on your yarn while knitting. I used 3M 225 U  Very Fine, which is pretty spiffy (and purple!), but any sandpaper or steel wool of comparable fineness will do. You shouldn’t have to sand for more than a few minutes. The hook surface should have a matte finish now – smooth enough so that you can’t feel any roughness or defects. It doesn’t have to be 100% uniform. You will probably have a few little pits that are hard to sand out – don’t worry to much about them.  So long as the surface feels smooth to your finger tips, it’ll be smooth enough for yarn. (and you can always go back with a finer grade of sandpaper or steel wool if you want to work the details)

You can now move inside, if you are so inclined. Now we set up and attach the cord-end to the hook!

Snip about an inch of wire, bend in half, and insert into one end of your tube section. 06Test fitting and layout.0708Now we pull out the plumbers putty. Or as I like to call it, the smelliest godsend ever. If these were steel hooks, I would be tempted to solider the wire and tubes in place, but soldiering aluminum requires (very) high temps and specialized equipment that is well beyond the “so you wan to play with stained glass” hobby model I have.

All you need to do is slice off a bit and mix the dark and light parts together until it’s a uniform gray color. This will not take long, and once it’s completely mixed you do not have a lot of time before it sets up, so I mix tiny batches and work in stages. Also, it will smell nasty when it’s fully mixed, and when it’s just about ready to set up you might notice it getting warm. If you are not done molding by the time this happens, toss the bit you are using and mix another one.

I like to insert a bit of putty into each end of the brass tube, fit the pieces together, and then smooth a bit of extra putty around the outside of the joins. (Not shown: the ugly lumpy putty setting up – I coulda sworn I took a shot of this step but apparently not.)

Although it will be hard to the touch in minutes, you should let the putty fully cure for at least half an hour. So clean your hands up (rubbing alcohol works very well to remove the putty residue from skin) and take a break.

Time passes…

Once the putty is cured, you’ll need to file it down and then sand smooth. There will be a lot of putty dust, so either work outside or over the sink. (If you keep the hook and file wet, it will control the dust and make it easier to see your progress.)

09The finished hooks, filed down and ready for use. At top you can see a DPN converted to a circular needle using the same techniques.

 

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Knitting with crochet hooks

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on knitting with crochet hooks. Which I have been meaning to sit down and write for the last six months because life keeps getting in the way. (Edit: Part 2 is over here)

Knitting with crochet hooks (aka knooking, croknit, Super Miracle Needle, Amazing Needle, Magic Needle, etc…) is a technique that uses a modified crochet hook and flexible cord to produce knit fabric. (Actual knit, not pseudo-knit like Tunisian or slip stitch crochet) for simplicity’s sake, I’ll be using the default term “knooking” for most of this article in spite of the fact that I kinda loathe it on account of it’s twee as hell and refers to a specific product rather than the technique as a whole because it’s become somewhat of the default term in the knitting circles I frequent. Yay language.

Anyway, it’s an excellent technique for:

  • Traditional knitters who can’t manipulate needles anymore due to arthritis or other mobility issues.
  • Crocheters who can’t for the love of god get the hang of manipulating two sticks at once (That would be me)
  • Beginners who want to lean knitting but are intimidated by “real knitting”.

The technique has loads of advantages over knitting looms (the other non-knitter’s option often found at the end of the knit aisle of your local big box craft store), including but not limited to:

  • Cost: knit looms average $15-$25 each; and, like regular hooks/needles, you need a different one for each gauge/yarn weight you want to work in. The beginning knook kit is about $9 on amazon and includes 3 starter hooks, cord, and a not-entirely-horrible tutorial pamphlet.
  • Flexibility: looms are great if you want to do a lot of garter or stockinette fabric in very specific widths and weights. While increases, decreases, and other fancy stitches are technically possible on a loom, I’ve found it to be a lot easier to do “fancy” knitting with a knook (YMMV).
  • Portability: Knit hooks and associated projects transport as easily (or moreso!) as “regular” knitting. Looms (even small ones) can be bulky and hard to grab out on a moment’s notice.
  • Porting tutorials: casting on, binding off, knit, purl, increase, and decrease stitches all work almost the same when you knook. This means you can use the metric-tonnage of knitting patterns and tutorials online to get yourself into the fun intermediate and advanced stuff. (Plus there are some great youtubers – like MiaDoll – who have published knook tutorials to translate basic stitches) By contrast, the techniques needed to do these things on a loom are completely unique. Which means you either have to figure it out on your end or hope someone has posted a loom-specific tutorial for the thing you want to accomplish. And the vast majority of loom tutorials focus on “basic” projects. (I wanted to work my way up to lace! That was not going to happen on a loom.)

So, now that I’ve waxed long about the advantages of knooking, the disadvantages:

In a word, the hooks. If you’re an experienced crocheter you probably have a marked preference of the style of hook you prefer (wood or metal, short throat or long, round or pointed tip…) The starter hooks you get with the kit are wooden, with short throats and rounded tips – pretty much the exact opposite of what I prefer. (I am very partial to the Susan Bates style)Note: Knook is apparently now selling a 10 hook value pack with the hook material changed to plastic. I can’t tell from the photo if the hook throat is closer to what I would have wanted, but my guess is no.

Many hook knitters move on to modified Tunisian crochet hooks – which I have tried and have also found to be an imperfect solution. You can not get them at a local craft store, you have to order them online, usually from overseas. (this is at least in part due to the fact that Bates and Boye – the two biggest North American manufacturers of knit and crochet products – do not make a full line of Tunisian hooks! You can get one single size and that’s it.)

I ended up ordering a set of cheap bamboo Tunisian hooks off of amazon (see above). The hooks themselves tend to be too shallow and blunt for my preference, and while the flexible plastic cording technically works, it’s designed for making afghans, and so is rather less flexible than I would have preferred. It is possible to sand and shape the bamboo hooks to – more or less – suit preference, and I chopped off the stock cords and replaced them with more flexible nylon rattail, which worked much better. So I had a working set of hooks, but I was still looking for something better.

I could have picked up a fancy interchangeable set of Tunisian hooks – but I couldn’t justify the $60+. So I decided to go DIY.

Coming soon: adventures in hook modification.

On Art and Humanity

I usually chalk it up to being the product of multiple generations of working artists, but I’ve always found the concept of “Art” as a muse-connected higher plane thing that is transmitted down to our lowly world via conduit-artists to be… well, not something I could ever wrap my head around. Similarly, I could never get on board with the idea of artists as extra special geniuses gifting us with the product of their super-human specialness. The one makes the artist no more than some sort of supernatural pawn. The other elevates the artist into an airless realm better suited to marble statues than flesh and blood humans.

Both modes make the critique of art, especially in a social and cultural context, terribly difficult. If “Art” is transmitted down from the heavens, than no one can critique that art… at best you can frown on the artist as some sort of flawed vessel. If it’s the product of extraordinary genius than no lowly mortal is even qualified to comment on it. We must only receive it in awe. (Rather a medieval way of looking at things, which usually leads right into rigid gatekeeping as True Art must perforce be separated out from base craft.)

Art, for me, is a human thing. It is one of the MOST human things we can create. It does not come from outside us, it comes from within us, and so is directly tied to us, to our realness and humanity. As such, it not only can be commented on and critiqued, but must be. When art is problematic, laced with -isms, unthinking or outright harmful to others we have a duty to critique not just the art but the artist that created it. Art can reveal the best things in an artists soul – and it is just as adept at revealing the venal sins and flaws we would prefer to keep hidden. Art causes the artist to stand naked in front of their audience, and the artist is a light that illuminates their work and gives it its’ first context. This makes many people deeply uncomfortable, and none more so than those viewers and audience members who like the art but maybe feel that it would be a Bad Thing to like the artist.

So we work to separate the artist from the art. You can read The Great Gatsby without endorsing plagiarism and domestic abuse, you can read Hemingway while still condemning drunken womanizing, you can watch Rosemary’s Baby without defending a child rapist… the list goes on. But when you do that, you are no longer looking at the entirety of a work of art. You are only looking at the parts you like.

When we say “your faves are problematic” it’s a universal truth. EVERYONE’s faves are problematic. Because everyONE is problematic. Even me. Even you. Avoiding the problematic parts of art means running away from the problematic parts of our own selves.  Which this is certainly a popular choice (In no small part because the knee jerk reaction for so many is to equate liking good things with being a good person, and liking bad things with being a bad person, so if I say there is something wrong with something you like then obvs I am saying you are bad, QED.) the harder option is to say, “Yes, I enjoy this work. But it was the product of bad things being done and if I am to respect the whole work, I have to acknowledge that.” Or even to say “I used to like this. But knowing more now about how it came to be, I can no longer see it as a good thing.”

It’s ok to like art that is problematic. It’s ok to not like art that is problematic. And it’s ok to like it and then stop liking it. But if you have to bleach away every perceived flaw in the artist in order to like a piece of art, or if you have to remove art from the human sphere of creation to protect it from critique than you are doing art, the artist, and yourself a disservice.

When you have spent your life trying to cram yourself into a box that does not fit

1.) Maybe the box fit once upon a time. And then it fit less and less well, but you didn’t notice because it was a gradual process until one day you realized that you were performing the mental equivalent of shoving your thirty year old self into your sexy jeans from your junior year of high school.

2.) The box you could not fit into is not evil, nor are the people who do fit into it.

3.) Finding the box you do fit into, again, does not mean that the first box was evil – just that it didn’t fit you.

4.) Conversely, the box you do fit into does not invalidate the five other boxes that your five other friends fit into.

5.) In spite of all of this, there will be someone who gets really bent out of shape because you found a better fitting box. Maybe just on general principal, maybe because you went and talked about how your box fits you better. This is a sad thing, but sometimes unavoidable. Try not to be angry with those people, if you can. Some of them have no idea what it’s like to not fit in the box you are given. Some others don’t fit into their boxes but instead of finding a better fitting box insist that everyone wear ill fitting boxes so it’ll all be fair. Try to be understating towards them, if you can. But don’t let them hurt your own box – that’s just as important.

6.) Maybe the box never ever fit, and you thought that it was your fault.

7.) Maybe you tried to cut off parts of yourself so you could fit into the box you were given. Maybe you were able to get those parts of you back. Maybe you weren’t.

8.) Maybe you tried to paste fake parts onto yourself so you could fit into the box you were given. Maybe you were able to remove those fake parts when you found a better box – but maybe they’d grafted too tightly onto you, so you couldn’t remember where the real you ended and the fake you began.

9.) When you find someone looking for their own box, don’t assume they need your box. Boxes are actually very personal and individual.

10.) When you find someone who has found their own box, don’t try to slavishly copy it – it will pinch and not fit you correctly.

BONUS: Try to share the best box-making tools you can, so everyone can make the best box for them.

The Mink from a graphic design perspective

You might have heard about the Mink. The concept is amazingly cool – the ability to “print” custom color makeup using a modified inkjet printer and basic software. I watched the TechCrunch presentation and I was all over it even as certain niggling doubts poked at the back of my brain… more on those in a sec.  The problem is… it’s probably a hoax, or at the very least so poorly thought out as to be an unviable concept. Meli Pennington (who has a lot more knowledge of makeup production) details why it is most likely nonviable here.

What I want to get into though, is why there would be significant problems with it even if it is 100% legit, real, manufactured, and sitting in front of me. I more or less gave up on makeup back in high school and haven’t owned cosmetics since I was in my twenties, so other than what I glean from listening to my warpaint-wearing friends, there’s not much I know about it. But having been a graphic designer for 20 some odd years, I know all too much about the headaches of matching a printed color to what one sees on a computer screen.

The issues, they goeth thusly…

Output color fidelity is a HELL of a lot more complex than copy and pasting a hex code. (If ONLY it were so simple…) You have to calibrate your monitor and output device so what you see on the screen and what you get at the end of the process have a close relationship. (This does NOT happen all by itself) Notice I did not say exact… because even the best professional workflows have to account for variables that we can’t control for with technology/equipment alone. (More on that in a moment.) This is normally done through a combination of specialized hardware, software, training, and luck. It is expensive, and requires a non-trivial amount of time and training.

Do I think that users CAN train themselves up to it? Hell yeah. But for that to happen the product’s designer/inventor would need to have a much, MUCH better grasp on the technical challenges that would be faced in a real-world application. Customers would need a lot of educational and technical support, and the marketing strategy and corporate partnerships would need to incorporate the fact that it is not just the $300-ish printer (already considered a high price point for the target market) one would have to purchase in order to create a useable end product.

Another issue when it comes to color fidelity… you have to understand how our eyes actually work. In the demo, Grace brings up a random photograph and likes how a particular shade of pink looks in that photograph, and uses that color as the basis for the eyeshadow that she “creates”. Thing is, our perception of color is HEAVILY dependent on the colors, shades, and tones that surround that color – which is why you have the optical illusion where a solid gray bar seems to shift in color depending on what color you put it next to. This is why that “perfect” shade of lipstick, that works so well on your best friend, looks garish on someone else. Our eyes do not interpret color in isolation. This is why tester makeup exists… that fantastic color may or may not look good on your actual skin (or in different light), and if you have to “waste” a print iteration just to find out that the perfect color really isn’t, user frustration levels will skyrocket.

Other things that will influence how we interpret a final color…

  • The quality, source, and intensity of the light in you are viewing under (outdoor/indoor/incandescent/fluorescent/led lights all have WILDLY varying color profiles…)
  • The whiteness and opacity of the base substrate. (Compare a color print on cheap-ass copy paper to a print out from the same printer on high end art stock… you will see a huge difference.)
  • The relative intensity of the inks being used. (What is the proportion of pigment to binder/medium?)
  • The specific C(cyan) M(magenta) Y(yellow) K(black… don’t ask) values being used. How “blue” is that base Cyan? How “Yellow” is that base yellow? This will have a real impact on the color values that will be produced as they interact.
  • Opacity of the final product. (Most cosmetics are translucent to one degree or another, so the users’ skin tone will influence the final result.)

And not for nothing, inkjet printers, even (especially) the high end ones, are hideously, hilariously finicky beasts. They require constant maintenance even (especially) if they are not in constant use to produce consistent quality output. (Dust. Dried ink. These have been my bane.)

Between the iterative nature of color proofing/device calibration (you adjust the hardware and software, run a print, eyeball it, adjust everything again, run another print, and repeat until satisfied… or until you are ready to throw everything out a window. You’d be surprised how fast that happens.) and inkjet maintenance issues, you are looking at potentially HIGH amounts of product wasteage. Even though Grace Choi speaks at length about the cheapness and availability of  ink and “substrate” standard inkjet ink is freaking expensive, and one assumes specialized inks would be necessary at the very least for safety. Those inks are NOT easily available to the mass market and would be rather more expensive than even current name brand inkjet cartridges. (For which there is a flourishing off-brand market because they are so expensive.)

I loooove disruptive tech. I think the concept behind the Mink is fascinating, and it speaks to very real issues that cosmetics consumers are facing… not just the youth market with its’ desire for boldness/novelty, but non-white consumers who are under-served by a cosmetics industry that calibrates most of its’ color choices for a Caucasian default and offers a smattering of specialty “ethnic” options at a shitty markup. I would be overjoyed if the Mink was a viable solution for these issues. I just don’t think it is.

“Following your bliss” is a crock of shit

“The whole ‘follow your passions, don’t be worried about making tons of money!’ thing speaks to such an infinitesimally tiny group of people and basically poses an unrealistic ideal of happiness.” (Link)

Goddammit this. (and also this)

About 10 years ago I came close to bankrupting myself because I’d been raised to believe that the only legitimate way to make a living and be a “real” artist (you know, one that was not all shallow and concerned with making money but nonetheless managed to MAKE enough money to life on somehow) was to be a professional fine artist – to “follow my bliss” and all that shit. Because two generations of my family had done it (with safety nets that I did not have), so why couldn’t I?

So I pissed away about five grand over the course of a year (y’know, my freaking *life savings* at that point), learned that I hated (and was really really bad at) anything to do with business-running, made not a freaking scrap of a profit, and came very close to hating art before I punched out. It was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.

I spent way too long feeling ashamed that I couldn’t make it as a “real” artist, and even longer feeling ashamed that I had a “money” job that let me pay the bills and take care of my family. If I had a time machine I’d go back and shake 28 year old me by the shoulders and try to convince her that she’d bought into a line of bullshit, I really would.

Doodle to Sketch to Finished Illustration

Normally I would post something like this directly to my facebook artwork page but it’s not the best fit for a long-ish essay with lots of pictures in a specific order so I’m doin’ it here.

So, how do I go from a random doodle to a finished illustration? First, I doodle a lot, and most of my doodles are crap… or rather, it takes work to make them not crap. (click on thumbnails for larger versions)

01This is what I mean by crap. I had a loose idea that I wanted to play around with a square knot but it started to go sideways, and I got more interested in the swooshy diagonal shape that started to emerge.


02So I copied out that rough shape and started refining based on that. Not pictured, going over the pencil with ink, lots of swearing, realizing that I needed to buy new pens.


03That inked in rough then gets scanned into Photoshop, cleaned up and refined lots more, duplicated, flipped around, and further refined. Some embellishment gets added and the basic over/under of the knotwork gets decided on.

This is also where I start to “weight” different lines and sections – in the step above most of the lines have about the same line-weight and I usually find that effect deadly dull. So I thicken up some bits and thin out some others. It’s a huge pain in the ass, but really worth it.

Not pictured: lots of swearing, questioning of my sanity. Occasional eyestrain headaches.


04And I realized that I liked it better upside down. Which is now rightside up. I start adding in what I call “color blocks” into the whitespace areas (this will make more sense further on) I may have a problem with whitespace, as will become more apparent.


05I like borders. And I like working on an 8×10 ratio. And I like compositions that don’t feel sloppy. So I usually add borders of some sort. This one is based on a border from a greek vase. (I pull from so many sources for inspiration that even I get confused sometimes.)


06This is when we start bringing color into the mix. Sometimes I rough it in using Photoshop, sometimes I use Painter. This time around it was Painter.


06aAnd this is the color layer alone by itself. It’s kind of obnoxious at this point but we will fix that shortly.


07Going back to Photoshop, I play around with paper texture source files for the base background (I think I used about three total for this) and layer the “ink” on top. This is several layers unto itself, using a combination of overlay, hard light, and soft light blending modes. I’m going for more of a slightly aged “oak gall” feel, not an “india ink” effect. (I find straight up black for the line art to be boring most of the time, and it usually ends up overpowering the color effects I’m going for.)


08The color layer gets sandwiched between the ink and the paper, using the soft light blending mode. Right now the color blocks are hidden, and it all still looks kind of sloppy.


09Color blocks added back in (with actual color!). Blending mode of the shapes themselves are (mostly) hard light. They get strokes in complementary colors with the stroke blending modes set to normal. I mask out the primary color layer around the color blocks so that their final color is determined by how they interact with the background itself. I include the shape of the ink layer in that color mask to clean and crispen up the ink and color edges. (Frisket film has nothing on this.)

Also of note would be that I change my mind on the block shape down towards the bottom and changed it up a bit. It was not working. This is one of the thousand and one reasons why I prefer working in a layered digital environment.

In a very topsy turvy way, I’m replicating transparent color washes – something I love the effect of but which I am quite rubbish at with physical media.


10Detail gets drawn in. Not pictured: time passing, profanity, despair, rending of hair and questioning of sanity.


Detail closeups. It’s all drawn freehand using (mostly) a 2-5 pixel hard edged brush. usually just in black or white with the blending modes set to overlay, hard or soft light. Some detail layers get an outer glow added for additional contrast.
12a12 11 12b


13Eventually I run out of small areas to fill up with detail, and I start to play about with the background. Here I’ve added a circle and triangle knotwork motif, plus some scans of medieval manuscripts.


14And now some very slight bits of color in the background knotwork plus some additional non legible typography. (For texture). And this is where I stop. At some point I might go back and change the background to blocks of legible text, but right now I have not found the right words for this particular piece. Not shown: the existential dread of not knowing what to do for my next project.

A Generational Conversation

Baby Boomers (BB): We invented sex! We stopped a war! Fuck the system and down with the man!
Greatest Generation (GG): Damn hippies…
Gen X: Whatever man…
Millenials (Mil): You know grandma and grandpa did actually have sex…
BB: Yeah but they were doin’ it wrong! Besides, we did it better!
Gen X: Right. because growing up with the spectre of aids was sooo much fun
BB: Not our fault! Besides, music! We invented that!
GG: Ever hear of jazz?
BB: I mean we invented the good stuff. Not like the crap you had then or the crap you have now!
Gen X: Fuck you. The Clash beats the Beatles any day of the week.
BB: Shock! Horror! Pearl Clutching!
Mil: Whatev. Here’s some dubstep.
Gen X: Shock! Horror! Pearl Clutching!
BB: Lol.
Mil: So war is ok if you’re sending me to a desert?
BB: But this one is different!
Mil: Riiiight.
BB: Damn hippies…
GG: Lol.

When “healthy” is anything but

I originally wrote this back in the summer of 2012 but never posted it. I think I’m ready to now.

Vegetables are healthy! So you should just eat carrots and celery because they will keep you strong and beautiful, and oh yes, soon you will be thin, thin, thinner like you wanted to be. But they’re healthy, so there’s nothing wrong with your diet, and you don’t need intervention or help, because you are eating a balanced, healthy diet. Everyone says so!

And they make you feel good! So you can eat all the (low-calorie) vegetables you want because they make your body feel great. You are really taking control of (shrinking, abusing) your body with all those vegetables you eat and you feel so awesome and energetic and fabulous. Good for you, for feeling good. You can affirm yourself in public and people will support you: Yes, vegetables ARE! healthy! they DO! make you feel good! Go you! You are making such responsible dietary choices!
http://meloukhia.net/2012/08/healthism_and_food.htm
This very, very accurately mirrors the disordered shit that was going on in my head when I was 20. In my case, it was zuchinni and rice when I was at school, and cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes when I was home. And if I was very good, maybe a boiled egg or a slice of cheese. And I was just *fine*, so I told myself, because I wasn’t acting like an after school special. I wasn’t fainting or unable to get though the day. No one ever thought they needed to take me to the doctor or the hospital.

Why, I was strong (I walked and rode my bike almost everywhere) and in the best shape of my life and living on a non-existent student budget so there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with what I was doing to myself. Except that six months on my shoulders were all bone and no curve, and six months after that I could count every one of my ribs. My hipbones were standing out like islands. I went down from a DD to a C. With a non-existent sex life, I started missing periods.

And I was really very good at fronting like there was nothing wrong because as far as I was concerned, there *was* nothing wrong. Except that I did nothing but think about food. And exercise. And weigh myself. Success was measured by how flat/hollow my stomach was, and if it was rumbling, and if it was than I was *winning*. A full stomach meant *failure*. The closer I came to starving myself the better I was doing. This was the reality inside my head for about two years. It was a reality dominated by alternating bouts of fear of becoming fat (like my father’s side of the family), and joy that I was not (and thus looked like my mother, and her family). It was a not good, very bad place to be. And I thought it was normal. And good.

I was lucky enough to be able to snap myself out of the worst of the starvation pattern without doing more than minor damage to myself (and part of that was due to graduating college and getting “real” job – it turns out that I can’t crash diet and deal with people sanely), but I will always have food and body issues. And when I say issues, I mean I looking at my body full in the mirror (clothed or unclothed) makes me miserable. I think to my self that I can “fix” it if I just had the time and strength not to “eat” anything but black coffee for two weeks, a month, forever. This is one of the demons that lives in my head. It will always be there.