Thursday, 29 April 2010

All quiet

So, I've been sitting in the conservatory this morning with my second cup of coffee, attached to my little CES unit for a session, knitting away on the second sleeve of Dusk, reading (PopCo, by Scarlett Thomas - good book, so far - I'm enjoying it) - and watching a pair of buzzards circling over the river. Multi-tasking. Yes, can do.

Not a lot happening around here, as you might have gathered. I am resting, and pottering, and generally moving along quietly with the general objective of getting back to normality. I'm a bit tired this morning, and the pain level was up because we had a busy day yesterday, but the CES is sorting it out.

It is now nine days since the surgery, and I'm feeling so much more well in myself than before the surgery. The effect of having this repair finally sorted out turns out to be immeasurable. Ok, I knew I wasn't exactly happy about it beforehand - it is pretty hard to feel good about yourself when you've got something like that hidden, as it were, about your person, unhealed and causing problems. But now that it is all done and also (hopefully) done with, I feel so much better about myself that it is quite a surprise.

The pain issue from the nerve damage is still with me, but I no longer feel helpless in the face of it. It is under control. We know what works, and we have reached the stage of tinkering with dosages and intervals between treatments, to find a maintenance level that includes the minimum of pharmaceuticals.

My little CES unit is, I think, my main help, together with the pain medication. I'm down to just one medication now, which makes things much more straightforward. Acupuncture and acupressure are useful, too. I have a couple more acupuncture treatments to come - thankyou, NHS! - and after that I will be taking part in a trial of indwelling needles that the Pain Clinic are running, which ought to be interesting. I am open to trying pretty much anything that might help with this, really I am.

Knitting has been minimal. I've finished the most recent travel socks in Regia Galaxy, for my husband. The Trekking XXL ones for me have taken their place in my handbag instead. Here we are, finished socks.

Incredibly cheap Regia Galaxy from the wonderful Kemps, this yarn is now discontinued I think. 2.5mm dpns, and my usual pattern for socks to fit my husband. All good.

Citron hasn't been picked up at all over the last week. I have instead been working on Dusk, and very much enjoying it - Felted Tweed is so nice to work with. I am about halfway up the last sleeve at the moment. I really ought to join the shoulder seams and get the neckband finished off properly, it is formed by extensions of the two fronts - shall I graft it? - or shall I work a three needle cast-off? Decisions, decisions.

Or shall I be very daring and work a Russian graft for the first time in an actual project? I think that may end up as my final choice - it makes a flat join, you see, and I don't like the ridge of a three needle cast-off inside the back of the neck. And it is next to impossible to get an ordinary graft in moss stitch to look right. Anyway, I shall see.

More regarding our new puppy.

Last week, we met the breeder and her other dogs, and we like her very much. (And the other dogs too.) She likes to meet all prospective owners before she agrees to sell them a puppy, you see - she doesn't want them to go to anywhere unsuitable. It seems that she approves of us, too, fortunately.

We haven't seen the puppies yet, they were only 8 days old when we visited, and still completely with their mother of course. The mother had had a hard time with the birth and ended up needing a caesarian, poor little thing, and there can be problems with bonding after this - so all the more important that she isn't disturbed whilst she is looking after them.

We'll be able to meet them when they are old enough to come downstairs - currently they are in a whelping pen in a large wardrobe, where the mother feels very safe. They will be moved downstairs to a larger area when they start climbing out of the whelping pen - usually at about 4 to 5 weeks of age, apparently. We are really looking forward to seeing them. There are two boys and two girls - the girls are now both spoken for, and one of them is to be ours.

The names for this litter are being taken from The Winter's Tale, and our puppy will be called Mopsa on her pedigree - the two girls are to be Mopsa and Dorcas, who are shepherdesses in the play. We could choose which name we preferred, which was unexpected. And Mopsa is rather a nice name for a sweet little puppy, we think, and will still be a nice name when she grows up.

My husband says he is sure that he will be calling her Lucy all the time - but we'll see. I think she will be Mopsa, or Little Miss.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

I am back

All over and done with now, thank goodness.

I am glad to be home - I've been back since Wednesday, actually - and am doing not a whole lot of anything just yet, other than resting. Today I've been sitting outside soaking up this glorious sunshine, and knitting on the current travel sock - and we fired up the barbecue for our supper, for the first time this year. Summer is coming....!

We've finally managed to pot on the tomatoes and some salad greens that have been growing from seed, on the conservatory windowsill. They are currently sitting in a covered propagator getting used to their new roomy surroundings. The runner beans were planted outside and I set 40-odd onions before I went into hospital, and today I started sowing some salad greens outside - polycress and some mixed salad leaves. I'll be sowing a bit more each week, so we have a continuing supply - at least that's the theory. I just hope we don't have a late frost.

The main knitting related news is that I have cast on for Citron with some Malabrigo Lace in Lettuce green. I was a bit dubious about working with such a fine soft single - wouldn't it tend to break? - but it turns out that this yarn is every bit as lovely as people say. Soft, light, and very well behaved indeed. I am part way through the second section, and I can see why this pattern is addictive.

Whilst I was in hospital, I did also cast on for another basic sock for myself in Trekking XXL, shade 100. The same colour as my husband's 'hippy socks'. Waiting to go down for surgery is a little bit stressful for me - and for most people, I should think - and I can't cope with reading a book at such a time. However knitting a nice soothing sock is just perfect. I managed to finish the ribbing before I was eventually hauled off to be mended.

I remain very impressed with our local hospital, Bath RUH (Royal United Hospital), and I think I'm lucky to have access to somewhere with such high standards. They were very helpful and considerate of my pain problems both before and after the op. And the place is spotlessly clean, which is always reassuring.

With regard to the pain issue, I do seem to be doing quite well at the moment. The pain is not gone - far from it - but it is under control. Managed, as they say.

And that really is necessary, because we are considering getting a puppy. We can't replace Lucy, of course - but there is an empty space in our lives without her. We've found a local breeder of blue roan cockers, and as luck would have it, they've just had a new litter - the puppies are eight days old today.

This breeder only has occasional litters, and they only allow their puppies to go to carefully vetted and suitable homes. We are hoping that they will approve of us!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


I've got just about a week before I'm in hospital again.

I shouldn't be in for long at all - just one night if all goes to plan - and I've been planning some knitting for the days and weeks after I get back home. It's a bit daft really, because the stash is going to be right there. But I just want to have things sorted out - anything that needs to be wound, is wound up ready. And pattern, needles and yarn all together.

First, I shall be completing Dusk - that's if I don't get it finished beforehand. At the moment, I've done the back and one sleeve, and I'm on the point of completing the first front. I'm just working the neckband extension, and then it is done. So, one sleeve and one front to go, plus finishing. Entirely possible in a week, but I'm not rushing.

After that, I think Pomander. I have RYC Cotton Jeans in Tussore for this - that's the very dark navy - bought on sale last year. Just the thing for summer, on a cool evening.

Then Compote. I've been changing my mind about this cardigan on a fairly regular basis, but I do keep coming back to it. RYC Natural Silk Aran in Black for this one, and I've even got the buttons. Very useful over a Ghost dress, or with jeans or a denim skirt.

After that, I am going to frog Cookie. This has been on the needles for ages, and as with Compote, I keep changing my mind about it. The turning point was when I realised that RYC Silk Cotton and Rowan All Seasons Cotton are exactly the same yardage, and the tension is close too. It turns out that I have sufficient Silk Cotton to make St Mawes. Very nice, I think - the subtlety of the stitch pattern ought to be well suited to this yarn with its slight sheen.

I've got a ball of lettuce green Opal sock yarn for Yarnissima's Brainless Socks - free Ravelry download there - and some Malabrigo Lace for Citron, also in Lettuce.

So that's more than enough to be going on with. Plus, of course, the never-ending Earth Stripe Curtain continues in fits and starts. Not so many of the 'starts' recently, but I'll get back to it.

We might try and escape on the boat again over the weekend, if the weather holds. At the moment, the forecast is good.....

Monday, 12 April 2010


We've had a lovely long weekend on the boat.

And it was lovely, truly. Hot and sunny during the day, chilly mornings and evenings.

I am not sunburnt, but that's because I spent most of the time hiding under a shady hat. I am definitely looking as if I've been on holiday. Both of us are feeling well rested, mentally and physically. It seems to be impossible to feel stressed on the boat. You can practically feel the tension all floating off, and away out the window.....

We didn't go far. We spent one night at Bradford on Avon, and the second night at Avoncliff, just by the aqueduct.

Here is the aqueduct seen from below. There is an excellent pub called the Cross Guns, set between the waterway and the River Avon, and the gardens run down to the river - that's where we were sitting. And I've just learned from that link that the central section of the pub dates back to the 1490's - I'm not surprised.

And here is a quite spectacular weir on the Avon, looking upstream here from the same place. We could hear the noise of the falling water all night....

And this is wild garlic. Freshly picked, and lovely in a salad - you can use it much as you would basil. You definitely can't buy this in the shops.

Not your average weekend.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

I think that's that...

I think I'm over the dishcloths, for the time being at any rate. I've finished half a dozen of them now, and I think that counts as a project.

These were actually great fun to knit, and the entrelac (or rather, garterlac) and domino ones were particularly addictive. I have discovered, by the way, that I prefer Vivian Hoxbro's method of picking up stitches to the Mason Dixon method. Easier, and much neater too, I think.

From the left -

I used natural cream dishcloth cotton, bought on eBay for about £1 a ball, post paid. (Barbara? - you are quite right, I am sure this is the same thing.) And I used 4mm needles, because that's the first thing that came to hand.

So there we are, 6 dishcloths, all different. And we've started to use them.

I have a feeling that I shall be making more fairly soon, but for the time being I think that's that.

Now, back to Dusk.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Not a project?

I could never see the attraction of knitting dishcloths. Why would anyone really bother to make such a thing?

But I am afraid that I have now definitely succumbed. I'm on my third one already, and more are waiting in the wings.

It turns out that these little things are a good idea on several fronts.

First, having a stack of these in one of the kitchen drawers means that I don't need to buy cloths or sponges from the supermarket. Yes, I need to make sure that they are clean, but that's easy, really. And if I'm not using plastic bags any more, why not take another step in that direction and stop using plastic sponge thingies, even if they are really really cheap? The plastic bags used to be free, after all - and does anybody use them now?

Second, dishcloths are useful for practising different knitting stitches and techniques. I've been looking recently at different ways of working modular knitting - domino knitting, if you will. There are some different recommendations around, with regard to how best to pick up stitches, and so forth, and swatching is the best way to find out what works for me.

Along that particular line of research, I'm just finishing the Mason-Dixon 9 patch dishcloth at the moment, and Vivian Hoxbro's Domino Potholder will follow shortly.

Thirdly, it turns out that these are actually quite fun to make. Not complex - well, not necessarily so - and quick to finish.

I somehow don't think these qualify as projects, though. Not sure why, though - perhaps it is because knitting one of these feels too much like knitting a swatch. Maybe a set of three dishcloths, or five, or half a dozen - maybe that would count as a project....?

Friday, 2 April 2010


Finally finished, poor neglected thing.

This has turned out to be a beautiful garment.

It is a very simple shape, but that shape is perfect - and perfect for the fabric that this yarn produces as well. It is quite wide and loose, and it drapes beautifully. It is semi-transparent in wear, so a vest top or a camisole is worn underneath.

I am really very pleased indeed.

Summary - Nissa, from The Kidsilk Aura Collection, by Marie Wallin. I made size L, and used 15 balls of yarn, as the pattern says. My only modification was to make the neck shorter - because I have a short neck myself, unfortunately. And if I recall correctly, I made the sleeves a little shorter. I like my sleeves at 18", no longer than that.

The colour is better here.

I really am very pleased with this pullover.

But it is a good thing I got it finished before the new Twist Collective came out, though. I have decided that Poplar & Elm is for me, and I even have yarn in the stash that will work beautifully - Rowan 4ply Soft in Malachite. As if I needed any more things to knit....

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Definitely losing it


The day before yesterday I turned out the very top shelf of one of my storage units. The one next to the sofa. This involved standing on the sofa and taking boxes and packs of yarn off the shelf, which was right up by the ceiling, pretty much.

That shelf.

Yes, I have plenty of yarn. I like yarn.

I was looking for my Dream In Color Classy, in Black Parade. I couldn't remember whether I had 4 skeins or 5, and this was critical as to whether or not I could make the Neck Down Wrap Cardigan, you see. So I wanted to look in the box to check. I knew it was on the very top shelf.

So, I started to take things off the shelf and put them on the sofa. I found my Black Parade. (The very top box on the right there, from the much lamented Socktopus. When I started, it was right at the back with other things on top of it.) I stopped taking things off the shelf. I checked in the box - yes, 5 skeins! - and then I put everything back again, nice and neatly.

I expect you are ahead of me at this point. Everything that came off that shelf went onto the sofa. Everything then came back off the sofa, and back onto the shelf. Including my remaining 7 balls of Felted Tweed for Dusk. (I knew I'd left it on the sofa!)


Sometimes I wonder about myself, I really do....

At least it wasn't in the fridge. (The very idea, Kate! - mind you, I did find the car keys there once. Plus ├ža change.....)