Tuesday, 21 December 2010


The turning of the year always feels very significant to me. Today is the shortest day, and the solstice is at 11:38 this evening. Tomorrow, the return to light begins....

It is still very cold here, and we've had lots of snow, with some overnight temperatures that are quite low for us here in the mild and balmy southwest of England. Recent nights have been as low as minus 10C - and yes, I know that's not very cold in the overall scheme of things, but it is pretty unusual for us. My brother who lives in Canada takes great delight in telling me of the winter when it was actually warmer on Mars than it was in Saskatoon. Brrrr, is all I have to say about that.

Jess loves the snow, and bounces around in it with great delight. Unfortunately the combination of the type of snow, and the temperature, and the type of coat that she has (very very fluffy) means that she gets absolutely covered in balls of ice and very nearly turns into a dogsicle. I've been putting a bit of olive oil on the vulnerable bits - ears, paws, tail, legs, tummy - and it does help.

On the downside, she smells like a salad at the moment, but on the other hand it does mean that her coat is lovely and silky. I am told that Vaseline stops the ice balls forming as well, but I'm not too keen on her licking that off afterwards - olive oil is good for the coat whether taken internally or applied externally, so I am sticking with that.

And the knitting? Ah yes, the knitting. Not a lot, I'm sorry to say.

So why would that be? Well, I blame the gabapentin, which seems to have turned my brain into a cabbage. (I hope this is reversible.) This is the med that I have been starting - still not up to a dose that deals with the elephant in the corner, so I'm coping with that as well.

And the med that I've been leaving behind - tramadol - I've been off that for about two and a half weeks now, so that's behind me now. In some respects I am sorry to be off that one, as it did give me quite good pain relief on the whole, with next to no side effects. I know I'm lucky in that respect as not everyone tolerates it well, but it seems that I do.

So why have I stopped taking it? - a doctor told me that I should realise that after taking it for 17 months, I was now seriously addicted to it, that I would have extreme difficulty in stopping it, and that I would experience 'false pain' the same as the original pain, so I would never know if the nerve had healed. Unless I got myself off the stuff, of course. Emotive words, oh yes. I wasn't too happy about the idea of being seriously addicted to anything at all, no indeed I was not. And I wasn't happy about taking the tramadol any more, either.

I've since learned that this view of things is controversial, to say the least. The Pain Clinic were not in favour of me coming off it, but supported me anyway. So I came off the tramadol over 2 - 3 weeks, with no problems at all other than a step up in pain with each step down of the med. And I'm still working my way up with the gabapentin, taking it slowly because of the side effects. I'll get there. Despite the cabbage effect.

So anyway - not a lot of knitting recently.

I have finished Wayfarer, which remains unblocked. And I have started Shadow[]box.

This is lovely simple knitting, just what my poor old cabbage brain needs. Garter stitch in the round on 6mm needles, using a strand of Rowan Pure Wool DK in Black, held together with a strand of Rowan Kid Classic in Smoke - this is a dark grey - and the resulting fabric feels thick and luxurious. I hope I'm going to end up with something rather nice to wear, at the end of it all.

Other things on the knitting horizon -

  • Wild Saffron, to be made in Stylecraft Nature's Way. This was on sale at Kemps Wool Shop, that place of wonders - for the unbelievable price of £1.20 a ball. This means that my Wild Saffron will end up costing less than £20. Bargain, to say the least. I think I got the last of the Herdwick - that's the grey mix - but they've still got some left in other colourways. Go and have a look on page 12.
  • An eternity scarf in Malabrigo Worsted. First time of using this stuff - I must say it is certainly nice and soft.
  • Another long looped scarf. I have the idea of 2 row stripes of dark grey and natural off-white, in garter stitch, with a provisional cast-on at the beginning, and some grafting to close the circle. I've seen more than one stripy Baktus, and I like the look of them - this combines the same garter stitch stripes, with the convenience of having no loose scarf ends to deal with.
  • Brea, in Colourmart supersoft merino. This is a good dark navy blue, and I think it will be lovely.
  • Victor(ia) from Kim Hargreaves book Cherished. This is, as I mentioned, written as a men's pattern. I am making some minor modifications, and will - I hope - end up with a soft, warm, loose, flattering, ribby dark grey pullover.
As I write, it is just 45 minutes to the solstice.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


Right, here I am again, back to normal - or what passes for normality around here, at least.

Bit of a catch-up post, today. I am in the middle of stopping one medication and restarting another, and a side effect of the new med means that I keep falling asleep, and am thinking slowly and having problems with word finding as well. I am sticking with it though, because this should wear off - I've been told two or three weeks is usual - and I am told this is a good medication for me at the moment.

I finished the nameless project last week, and posted it off on Thursday, nicely blocked and folded in acid-free tissue paper. I hope it has arrived by now - I haven't heard otherwise. But equally I haven't heard that it did, so I shall just be optimistic here and hope that Royal Mail haven't let me down.

The knitting took me ten days, after one false start, which is not bad going at all for this particular project. I'll be able to say more, and show you the couple of pictures that I took, once the book is published.

I did enjoy working on it, to a real deadline as opposed to a self imposed one. I am also glad that it is finished, and I can return to projects of my own choosing. However I think I shall be looking for more paid knitting work, I am a reasonably fast knitter when I put my mind to it, and it would be nice to make use of it, perhaps. I don't know if I will be successful though, I am sure there must be a lot of people looking for this sort of work.

So, what have I been doing? - darning, at first. I have mended four pairs of my husband's socks, which have been sitting in the mending pile for rather too long. I have also mended his slipper socks, which had gone through at the toe. These slipper socks are a pre-Ravelry project and I've never photographed them - and I don't think I'm going to photograph them now either, not with a big darn in the toe. They were Peace Fleece Baltic Socks, with a suede sole added. That's quite a fun knit, by the way. I like working with Peace Fleece, as I think I've mentioned before.

I've also knitted a pair of these little things.

My son likes cycling, even in the sub-zero weather that we've been having recently. He's got snow tyres, you see. Last week he asked me whether it was possible to do anything about the fact that his ears get extremely cold when cycling. So I came up with this idea, and I made them on Monday. They slip over the cycle helmet straps at each side of the head, and hopefully will do the job. They are worked in the round, and shaped using decreases and short rows. The yarn is Patons Jet, and I used 4.5mm dpns. I didn't use a pattern, but I know what I did and it would be easy to make more, although I'd think that one pair ought to be sufficient.

At the moment I am not sure what to call them. Cycle helmet earwarmers, I suppose.

Other than that, I've been working some more on Wayfarer. I am on the last stretch now, all the waving is finished and I am just working straight until the thing is long enough. At least another foot to go, I think, although I have enough yarn to make it longer than that.

I am planning to start Brea soon as well - not in Rowan Lima though. I have in mind some supersoft merino that I got from Colourmart, in a good dark navy. This should make it a bit lighter, and hopefully more useful for indoor wear.

If the yarn that I am waiting for arrives soon, then I'll start Shadow[]box . More on that anon.

Also, I have started Victor, from Kim Hargreaves book Touching Elegance.

That's Felted Tweed Aran, in Soot, and it is just lovely to work with. First time I've used this yarn, and it does not disappoint.

Victor is a man's pullover, but I like the ribbed fabric and I think it will be equally wearable for a woman. I shall narrow the shoulderline just a touch, probably. That's the first ball of yarn there - I only cast on last night.

My second Opal is still languishing at the bottom of the knitting bag.

I just haven't felt like picking it up - I am not really sure why. I wish it was finished, it would be just the thing tucked in at the neck of my coat whilst dog walking in this freezing weather. And for that to happen, I need to pick it up and actually work on it...... I'll get there.

On the subject of freezing weather, at the moment it is dry and cold here. The small amount of snow that we had last week is long gone now. Instead we have freezing fog, and black ice, and hoarfrost over everything.

This is the view from the back of our house looking across the river valley. It is very pretty, but treacherous underfoot for walking.

Finally - from the comments - remember that if you'd like a reply, you can contact me on the email at the top right of this page. Blogger doesn't tell me your email address, so I can only reply in the blog, like this.

To the anonymous commenter who asked about the Slouchy Cover-Up - you can find my Ravelry project page here, and the Ravelry pattern page here. You won't find the pattern itself on Ravelry, for that you need to purchase Rowan's Studio 5 booklet.

Rowan's Studio series are limited editions - once they are all sold, they are not reprinted. Studio 5 is getting hard to find now, but there are still some around. For instance, here. I hope this helps!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


The un-nameable project is very nearly finished. I think it would actually be finished by now, if it hadn't had an encounter with Jess earlier this evening.

Jess loves my knitting. According to her, the interesting thing about knitting is the balls of yarn that are attached to it - you can steal one of them, and run across the room with it, and then run round and round the furniture making an interesting tangle, or you can sit quietly and disembowel the ball of yarn so that it is tangled all around you before somebody finds you.

This evening, she went for the latter option. I left my knitting for literally two minutes, and when I came back she was surrounded by the whole of a ball of yarn, draped over and around her. I don't know how she did it in the time!

I extricated her from the yarn - she was not pleased about this, and wanted to keep her new toy, but I was firm - and then spent quite a while untangling and rewinding it.

I shall have this project finished tomorrow, and then back to Wayfarer, which I shall be glad to wear. It is so cold here at the moment! No snow left, though.....