Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wednesday morning

We've been off on the boat again, just for a few days - and we shall be off yet again quite shortly, as well.

We aren't holidaying abroad this year, mainly due to me needing to recover from the op, and we can't go off on the boat for any extended length of time either, mainly due to me needing to be here for assorted doctor's appointments and hospital appointments. So instead, we are taking all the short breaks that we can fit in.

We don't go very far afield. This time we went down past Bradford on Avon - that's Bradford just there - and moored near Dundas Aqueduct.

This takes the Kennet & Avon canal over the River Avon and the railway. I don't know how high it is, but looking over the edge it certainly seems a long way down.

As usual, I took my knitting along.

The Hemlock Pullover is all finished apart from the seaming now. I am rather pleased with the folded stocking stitch neckband. Bit fiddly sewing down the live stitches, but it does make a very neat finish.

I've got the sleeves set in already, and I should get the long side seams done today or tomorrow, depending on how busy we are.

The second Fraggle sock is past the heel turn.

I'm still enjoying working on this, surprisingly. The pattern is entertaining, and the second sock always goes faster than the first one because there is no messing about trying to decide whether the length is right, as there is with the first sock.

I hope to get onto the next Blue Moon sock quite soon, though. It's called In Season, and I love the colours - although once again, I'd never have chosen this myself.

Finally, I've started Flow, in Rowan Bamboo Tape. I decided on size 38" in the end, remembering that negative ease is my friend, and remembering also that I don't want the shoulderline to be too wide because that is disastrous. I shall be adding several inches to the length, but that's the only modification I expect to make.

I had forgotten how lovely this stuff is to work with.

But I find that I am missing working with wool. Maybe I will cast on something else for myself, as well.....

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tuesday morning

A whole lot of different things have been happening.

We've been on the boat over the weekend, and I have been resting. I have literally not had to do a thing, other than make the odd cup of tea or coffee - the walk down to the mooring is still a bit beyond me, so my husband drove us down there. Not very green of us when it is so close, but there you go.

Working the locks is out of the question for me at the moment, of course. My role is reduced to sitting in the front well and keeping Lucy company, and when people look askance at my not helping - because people do - I don't mind telling them that I'm recently out of hospital and not allowed to do anything.

I'm not even doing any helming.

My consultant at Bath tells me that the Australian surgeon who did the op has a standard response, when people ask him if they can do such-and-such during the post-op period. He hands them one of his business cards, and says, Mrs so-and-so, the answer to all your questions is on the back of this card. They take the card and turn it over - on the back there is a single word, written in block capitals - NO.

But it isn't really an issue, as my husband likes working the boat singlehanded.

I have come back unaccountably exhausted - all that fresh air? - but feeling that I have had a real break.

I've been knitting. Both sleeves are now finished, as well as the back, and the front is on the needles. I'm just past the ribbing, that's all. No picture there - more green knitting. Peace Fleece is nice to work with, as I think I may perhaps have mentioned before.

I've also started to pull back the Trapeze Tank, because I want to use the yarn to make Glad. This is not an easy job, because the tank was knitted with the yarn held double, and of course there are two ends of yarn to wind up, and I seem to have twisted them together as I worked. So I've got a fairly Heath Robinson-ish arrangement with one strand going directly to the ball winder, and the other strand being wound up on the swift. It is very slow work, with all the twisting to deal with.

What else - our tomatoes have tomato blight. I'd like to say 'have had', but that might be tempting fate slightly.

This year is the first time we've tried growing vegetables, and we've been learning as we go along. And now we are learning about tomato blight, which we didn't know even existed until we went looking on the net. The prime time for it is the end of July and early August, and it is a fungus that likes damp cool weather - so that fits precisely, and apparently there is a lot of it around this year.

There is absolutely no way I'm posting a photo of it, because it was nasty, and anyway we've disposed of it. We've lost one whole plant, and a whole lot of bits and pieces from the other plants - we started with twelve plants, four each of three different varieties, which we have grown from seed.

Up til now our first foray into vegetable gardening has all seemed very successful and straightforward, apart from the ongoing battle with the slugs, who it seems like to eat tomatoes and peppers just as much as we do. The nematodes do work beautifully, but you absolutely have to top them up every six weeks. If you forget, then the slugs all reappear. Feel free to guess how we know this.....

Anyway, we've now doused all the tomato plants with Bordeaux mixture, which apparently is what you need to do. It is approved for organic use, but it is a rather startling blue colour and the remaining tomato plants are now looking more than a little bit odd, with blue stuff all over them. However, we are very much hoping that we've managed to stop the blight from spreading any further, and that the fruit still on the plants will survive to ripen and be eaten - because these tomatoes are good. Fresh from the garden, warm from the sun - washed first, and thoroughly too, because of the Bordeaux mixture, organic or not - they taste very good indeed.

Lucy is doing quite well at the moment, and she was so happy to be on the boat again, which she loves. She is still very tired, but the medication is definitely helping her, and she is showing a better appetite than we've seen for a while. This is good. Also good is the fact that we've found a place online where we can buy the (expensive) medication she needs for about half the cost of what it would be at the local veterinary surgery, and that's taking account of the charge for the prescription from the vet, as well.

And, somewhat embarrassingly, I've just realised the identity of that friendly lady with the shih tzu, with whom I was chatting the other day when I collected Lucy from the groomer. I thought at the time that I knew her from somewhere, but I couldn't think where. I don't forget faces, but I am terrible at remembering names, and helpful things like whether I actually do know a person or whether I just recognise them.

I'd have kinneared her if a) I'd realised who she was in the first place and b) I had my camera.

But I didn't.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Very early on Wednesday morning

Yet another post written at a strange time of night.

My thanks to those of you who have said such kind things - I shall be alright, it is just that things are a bit difficult at the moment. We do what we have to do, don't we? And it is strange how we can keep doing what we have to do, even things that would have seemed impossible, had someone asked us beforehand.

Usually, we are stronger than we believe ourselves to be.

I'm still knitting, but I haven't got any great progress to show. The first sleeve is nearly at the armhole shaping, and it has become apparent that eight skeins would have been plenty for the largest size, even with extra length to the body. I need not have worried about it at all, Peace Fleece have been generous with the suggested quantity of yarn.

I've suggested to my husband that I could remove the contrast yoke, and he could have the pullover all one colour - and all one fabric. But he prefers it with the black yoke, so I shall just carry on accordingly. Leftover Peace Fleece makes excellent hats, after all.

Lucy is sleeping nearly all the time. The vet asked me to call midweek and let her know how things were going, so I shall do that tomorrow. It seems to us that she is fading, she seems more exhausted each day.

When she is awake, she is still a happy little dog. If we have to go out, she is so pleased to see us when we come back. There is a fair amount of bouncing around and barking, and, as always, there is the bringing of toys. She's done this since she was a little puppy - she'll bring a toy to show to anyone coming into the house, although she certainly won't hand it over, funny little thing that she is.

But very quickly she has had enough, and goes to lie down where she can watch us, and then she sleeps again.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Monday afternoon

You know, when I was considering these weeks of post-op recovery, I did envisage that I'd be getting quite a lot done, especially with regard to knitting and blogging. This hasn't turned out to be the case at all.

This isn't because I'm too unwell, not at all - it's more because there is a lot of other stuff going on, and I cannot write about it here because it isn't my story to tell. However I can write about trying to cope with it.

I do usually find that knitting helps immensely in a stressful situation. But when things get beyond a certain point, I've found in the past that I can't knit, my thoughts just won't let me settle to it. Now I've discovered something else - that if things continue getting worse, I can knit again. In fact I find myself doing very nearly nothing but knit. Note that this doesn't imply I'm actually doing much of anything else, it's more that knitting is the only thing I am managing to do.

I'm not entirely sure that this is healthy, but at least it's a coping mechanism of sorts, and it does mean that my husband is going to end up with a new pullover in the not too far distant future, judging by recent progress.

I've finished the back of the Hemlock pullover now. There is, of course, a difference in the Peace Fleece fabric and the Patons Jet fabric - nice stuff, by the way - but my husband is entirely happy with it and I think it will look absolutely fine in wear. So I am suppressing the perfectionist in me that wants to say this just isn't good enough - and I'm going to say instead that it is perfectly ok.

There is a lot of this garment, and at this point it is hard to photograph. This is the 50" size, and the overall length is 30" - that's a good bit of knitting. So this is just the lower edge of the contrast yoke. The colours are not accurate here - the green is a deep dark forest green in real life, and the black is not faded.

I've cast on for the first sleeve, as well, but I don't think that necessarily merits a photograph just yet. More green knitting, basically.

Lucy continues to do a lot of sleeping, and not much else. Mostly she goes into her crate - her own little place - and stays there looking out at us. She has to be tempted to eat and is only taking small meals, but we don't think she is in any discomfort at all.

If one of us sits on the sofa then she will come out of her crate and get up onto the sofa to join us - we've arranged a leather floor cushion to make a sort of ramp for her, as she isn't comfortable with jumping up. Most of the time, it is just a bit too difficult for her now. She moves across to cuddle up in her usual way, and is quite happy to be stroked and made a fuss of. She still thinks she's a lap dog. In truth she isn't very big, just 10 kilos - as cocker spaniels go, she is small.

It's strange, when I look at a picture of her - like this one - I see an old dog. But when I look at Lucy rather than the picture, I don't see her as old. Just tired.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

In media nox

I do hope I've got this blog title right. My Latin grammar is distinctly rusty after all these years.

I seem to have very nearly given up sleeping at the moment, hence this post at rather an unusual time. And I am getting some knitting done, although not perhaps as much as you might expect, considering the lack of sleep in this establishment.

The Hemlock Peace Fleece pullover is coming along nicely.

The yarn, as always, is a joy to work with. The overall colour is a bit deeper in real life than it appears here, but the little flecks of teal are showing up just as they should.

I am no longer thinking of Cascade 220 for the black yoke - instead, Patons Jet. I don't know how I came to overlook this. Manufacturer's recommended gauge for this yarn is 16 1/2 sts to 4" - I'm working with the Peace Fleece at 17 sts to 4". That sounds much more the thing.

I've actually finished one of the Fraggle socks now.

This looks much nicer in real life than I was expecting. Yes, it is quite a busy lace pattern, but somehow it does gel with the yarn.

And I always seem to enjoy knitting lace socks. These have a four row pattern repeat, which means that it is a bit like knitting stripes - very more-ish. You want to just get this repeat finished - and then you just want to work the first row of the next repeat - and then you might as well just finish this repeat after all, it's only another three rounds - and before you know it, you've done another inch.

I haven't cast on for the second sock yet, because I want to get into the black yoke section on the Hemlock pullover.

Lucy is feeling much happier, by the way. She has responded well to the medication, and is visibly more comfortable - in fact she doesn't seem to be in any discomfort at all, although she's still very tired. So that's much better.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

It's still Monday

Monday evening here, and the last week feels more like a month, so much has been going on.

We've been dealing with another family crisis, unfortunately. It is hard on us, but a million times harder for the person concerned - and it isn't over yet.

I am still in a state of complete indecision with regard to what to knit next for myself. There are plenty things that I really, really want to make and wear, right now, but I am still debating sizing issues for several of these, and what with one thing and another I have given up and cast on another sweater for my husband. Because I want to be knitting a sweater.

Now, bear in mind that it is August, and it ought to be boiling hot here - or at least mildly warm. Instead it is cool, and windy, and has been pouring with rain to the extent that we'd be thinking of building an ark, if we didn't already have a narrowboat. Hah.

So, I am making my husband a big woolly pullover. He likes the Siberian Woodsman's Sweater from Peace Fleece, which you can see here if you scroll down a bit. The largest size measures 50" chest which ought to be just about ok, but I think I will probably have to add a bit to the length. The Peace Fleece that I have for this is in Hemlock, which you can see here. It is a beautiful complex dark green, just as they say - that picture looks a bit lighter and brighter than what I've got here.

Anyway, that pattern takes three colours, but my husband just wants two - the other colour is to be black. I haven't any black Peace Fleece, nor do I have any other black heavy worsted yarn. What I do have in solid black is some Cascade 220, and I'm not sure whether this will work well. Peace Fleece is heavier, and maybe the contrast between the two fabrics will just look wrong. If it does look wrong, then there will be a pause for thought. And maybe the purchase of more yarn, which seems impossible when you look at the amount I've already got.

One last thing, and it is hard to write about.

Lucy is very unwell again, she has gone into kidney failure. At the moment she's got less than 25% kidney function, and her liver isn't doing any too well either. She's now got a couple of different medications running which hopefully will keep her comfortable at least. There's another medication which might offer more support for her failing kidneys, but there is some doubt as to whether it will trigger off the pancreatitis again - the vet is looking into it.

But we do understand that the writing is on the wall here - maybe months? It isn't clear yet. Yet again, we'll have to wait and see how things go.