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.


Helen said...

Dogsicle, I love it. I look forward to seeing your Wild Saffron, lovely pattern which I have backed off from but still have feelings for, as they say on the soaps.

tinebeest said...

Dogsicle... I can just about imagine it.

Good luck with switching pain meds. It sounds like you're being taken care of in the Pain Clinic, so many people seem to have to cope without experts in such a difficult thing to deal with.

And the knitting? Ah well, we'll look forward to the post-cabbage stage. And in the mean time I love the look of garter stitch ridges...