Thursday, December 24, 2009

Some updates and a hiatus.

The CT scan results indicate that there isn't anything seriously wrong with my neck or brain. We think it's just that stress and poor sleeping and sitting positions have resulted in my shoulder and neck muscles being so tight that they made the Physiotherapist laugh, and that was pushing on one or more of the nerves to my arm.

I saw the afore-mentioned Physio last night and I have sore but more relaxed shoulder and neck muscles and a little list of homework exercises to do.

So that all turned out well, I think.

I've managed to get Margot all caught up to where I was before I ripped out 38 rows, and then some. I'm now 1.75 inches beyond the division for the sleeves, and it's motoring along now. I still can't knit as much as I'd like as I am still getting some pain in my wrist, but the wrist has improved and I have high hopes for the improvement to continue.

Today we dug out The Boy's christmas stocking, which I made for christmas in 2005. It's a normal top-down sock pattern, sized up, knitted in 8 ply acrylic (if you look closely you can see the colour change in the red when I ran out of yarn) with a much-shortened foot. It turned out a bit bigger than I was originally thinking of, but it seems kids like big christmas stockings. Could it have something to do with lots of room for presents perhaps?

So I'll wish you all a Merry [insert festive season of your own choice] and I hope Santa brings you something nice.

Here is my version of the Twelve Days of Christmas!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
12 Storage boxes
11 Lexie Barnes bags
10 Ysolda patterns
9 skeins of mohair
8 knitpicks cables
7 bags of roving
6 top-whorl spindles
5 DPN’s
4 blocking wires
3 sock yarns
2 spinning wheels
and a skein of yummy malabrigo.
(I wish!)

As a final note, I will be taking a short break from the blog and will be back in mid January.  I hope you all have a safe and happy time over the next couple of weeks and get to spend some time with people you love, and who love you and cherish you. I hope you get to have a rest and to take care of yourself and your friends and family, and that you get to eat and drink well, but not too much.

I will be spending time on what's most important to me - my family, and some knitting, of course!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Going for a ride in a machine that goes "Whirrrrrr"

I've been having some problems with my right arm lately. On two occasions I've had a sensation as though I'm recovering from pins and needles - slight tingling in my hand and a very slight numbness and heavyness in my whole arm. I had it a week or so ago and it went away, only to come back again on the weekend.

I saw a Doctor this morning and got sent off this afternoon for a CT scan of my head and neck - the head to rule out anything obviously wrong in my brain, and the neck to see if I have anything impinging on a nerve.

The whole experience was a little bit of an anticlimax, actually. The process is very streamlined - fill out your forms; wait for a while; get taken into a large room dominated by a machine that looks like a massive white donut on it's edge, with a bed on rails set up to go through the donut hole; lie down on said bed and keep really still while the machine whirrs at you for a while and the bed slides in and out of the donut hole.

Then the nice radiologist lady (I'm sure it doesn't have to be a lady, and it's even possible that they don't have to be nice) comes out and tells you that it's all over and you get to go back out to the foyer to wait for them to print up your x-rays.

All over in about 20 minutes, and that included filling out the forms and waiting. The actual scanning took maybe 2-3 minutes..

The longest part of the process will be waiting for the results. I can get them from the GP on Wednesday morning. I have a huge pile of x-ray films in an envelope on the table. I've even had a look at some of them, and while I can recognise brain and spine, there's no way I could tell if anything was going on. I can tell that everything in my brain appears to be homogenous and nothing really looks obviously lumpy in the brain scans, which I'm going to take as a good thing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where did Margot go?

Usually I knit for at least 30 minutes every day, quite often a lot more. Recently, with my dodgy wrist, I've done a lot less knitting than normal, some days as little as 10 stitches in the day, some days none at all. So I was really happy to have reached the last raglan increase row on Margot, all ready to divide for the sleeves and body.

I did one final count to make sure I had the right number of stitches and my numbers were off. None of the four sections matched their opposite number, so I'd obviously missed some increases, and when I investigated further, one of the side sections, which would become the top of one sleeve, had increases in the middle, where there should have been none. I contemplated fudging it, as I certainly could have done that without too much trouble, and it wouldn't have mattered in the scheme of things, but I knew that these errors would play on my mind, and I would always know they were there.

So I had to rip out 38 rows. I worked out where I had to work back to, and picked up stitches all the way around. Then I ripped out until I reached my picked up row. I painstakingly wound up the huge pile of crimped, unraveled yarn. Now all there is to do is to knit all of those rows again.

Sometimes I wish I could just ignore those little mistakes. 

ps. Thank you for the lovely comments about my February Lady Sweater yesterday. I feel really special when I wear it, and I love that I can feel that way about something I made myself. It's a wonderful thing, this knitting caper, itsn't it? Although I do have to wonder sometimes when I'm recovering 38 ripped out rows!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A weekend in the country

We went away for the weekend to celebrate some family birthdays. We had a lovely time in a beautiful house up in the Byron Bay hinterland, with room for all of us, a verandah on which to have some tasty meals, and a great swimming pool for lots of fun and shenanigans.

This was the view from the verandah...


 And here is a shot of the shenanigans in the pool

I gave the remaining two bags to their recipients, who were most effusive in their praise. I hope that means they liked them!

There was lots of wildlife around. None of us saw the platypus in the nearby creek but that was probably because they heard us coming. I did see a gorgeous Peregrine Falcon circling over the house this afternoon and this little guy joined us for dinner last night. He positioned himself near our mozzie coil which seemed like a silly place for a creature who probably would have enjoyed a few little flying insects for his own dinner, but he seemed happy there.


I took the opportunity to get The Man to take a few photos of me wearing my February Lady Sweater.

Apart from all of that, I did get some knitting done, and a lot undone. Margot sufferred a huge setback, but more on that tomorrow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Mummy made it.

We gave away the first of the knitted bags today. It was the stripy blue booga bag and we gave it to The Boy's Prep teacher as a thank you gift. All of his class met this evening at the home of one of the other boys, and we ate and drank and made pizzas in their wood fired pizza oven and chatted and had fun. The Boy handed over the gift to his teacher and proudly stated "My Mummy made it".

I can't explain how that made me feel. It's probably one of those things that you have to be a Step-Mum to understand. To be proudly acknowledged as The Boy's Mummy is special, beautiful and bitter-sweet. The Boy's biological (I have to fight myself not to say "real" here) Mummy died when he was 14 months old. He was three months shy of 3 years old when I moved in, and he's six and a half now. I still have days when I feel like an imposter, like I'm not meant to be the Mummy. It's not meant to be me going to a party at the end of Prep, celebrating another milestone, it's meant to be someone else.

But then, The Boy chose to call me Mummy. We didn't force it on him, allowing him to work it out himself. Of course, with all the other kids at school using the word Mummy, perhaps he's just going with the flow. Even so, I choose to be proud and happy to be the Mummy of the young man who has become my little boy, and proud and happy to share that honour with the beautiful woman who held it before me.

Of course, true to form, I forgot to take a photo of the finished bag. So you'll just have to look at this photo of it blocking and imagine it upside down (making it the right way up for a bag), with handles!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is there a wet dog in here?

I've been felting today. These three bags are the closest thing to Christmas knitting that I have committed myself to this year. Two are for birthdays in the family and the third is a thank you present for The Boy's prep teacher. They all need to be finished by this Thursday. I got them all felted this morning - due to my wrist still being a little bit fragile, I went against my usual principles and did them in the washing machine. Currently they're all blocking on shoeboxes or stuffed with plastic bags.

 A booga bag in Homemaker Clinker DK
 Another Booga Bag in double stranded DK, various bits and pieces
 Sophie bag in Panda Carnival Pure Wool 8ply.

It's disturbing how much wet wool smells like wet dog.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I must have been a good girl...

...because Santa Claus went online and bought my Christmas present today. I'm getting a Kata 3n1 20 to carry my Nikon D90 camera in. I love Santa (and not just when he's buying me presents, honest!)

And here are some photos of my hand-dyed yarn when it all dried and I put some of it in pretty skeins. You can really tell why commercial variegated and space-dyed yarn is sold like that. It makes a huge difference to how pretty it looks.

I think it's pretty, and I'm just a little bit proud of it. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A good day to dye

I had the day off from work today. I find that when I'm stressed out at work, occasionally I just need to take a day off and have a bit of a rest. Today I watched some TV and decided to attempt to dye my big bag of cream Cleckheaton 12ply. I got all the food colouring out of the cupboard, realised it wasn't going to be enough, and set the yarn to soak in a 50:50 mix of luke-warm water and white-wine vinegar (I should have used white vinegar but I didn't have any, and the white-wine vinegar was very old) while I did some other stuff and then went to the supermarket for more food colouring.

This stuff is only 99c for a 50ml bottle and the girl on the checkout didn't bat an eyelid when I put through this little lot. People must buy some really strange combinations of stuff.

I roughly followed the guidelines set out by Suse from Pea Soup.

I covered the kitchen bench with cling wrap, squeezed the excess liquid from my skeins and laid them out. There's 350g or yarn here.

I wanted a rich green with small spots of yellow, so I made up a mix with two bottles of green, and one bottle of blue. I tested the colour on a small piece of kitchen paper and it was a bit too green so I added a glug more blue. I was more interested in trying the process than repeating the exact outcome so I didn't measure the glug.

Then I started pouring food colouring onto the yarn. I've since realised that I should have mixed it with some vinegar as well, but everything seems to be reasonably colour-fast now so there must have been enough vinegar left from the pre-soak.

I ran out of my dye mix towards the end and just tried to squeeze some dye out of the greener of the skeins I'd already done. The last couple of skeins have ended up a bit lighter than I wanted but it's all a bit of a learning experience.

I put the first half of the skeins in a glass bowl and microwaved for 5 minutes, let it cool and microwaved for another 5 minutes. I let it cool a bit, then chucked it in the sink and ran the hottest water that comes from the sink over it, gradually cooling down the water until the yarn was cold and the dye stopped running. When I had a good look, I realised that I had just put the first skein at the bottom of the bowl and piled the others on top. This led to the green dye from the other skeins pooling at the bottom of the bowl so the first skein is very dark and the yellow has been almost completely overdyed with green.

When I set up the second bowl for microwaving I grabbed the yellow sections and held each skein's yellow bits at the top, putting each skein in vertically rather than plonking them on top of each other. This worked a lot better and the yellow, which came out a lot more orange than I wanted, stayed well defined on the second set of skeins.

Here's what they look like hanging on the line after their rinse.

Not what I imagined, and I'm not really certain that I like the way the colours turned out, but I'm really happy about the experience. I certainly think I will live to dye another day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this....

I have a very sore wrist. I blame Farmville, a farming game on Facebook which involves a large amount of repetitive mouse use. It's certainly the only change to my routine that I think is likely to have caused the wrist pain. It even hurts to knit. So I am resting my right wrist and I have it wrapped in a bandage. I've moved my mouse at work to the left hand side which gives me the giggles because I am totally uncoordinated mousing with my left hand! So I have quit Farmville so that I don't risk worsening my Repetitive Farmville Injury.

So no knitting for the time being. I'm hoping it will heal up quickly as I want to get back to the Stripy Booga Bag, which needs to be finished for the 11th of December, and is now only about 14 rows of black bag base.


And I'm really excited with how Margot is going, and all I want to do is keep knitting on it.

But, still, this enforced knitting break will give me the opportunity to finish these

and read this

And if I still run out of things to do, I've got these.

Oh - in the comments, Maria asks how I can knit in the heat...well, I guess I don't at the moment, but I find that as long as the knitting is small enough I'm okay. Once it's big enough to sit in my lap I can't do it if it's too hot. Air conditioning is a blessing. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

A big bag of happiness

I've just got gauge for my Margot in the 8ply Luxury Mink on 4.5mm KnitPicks needles....And the fun begins!

Wishing and hoping.... and plotting and planning

I called Bendigo Woollen Mills about my order yesterday and they said it went in the mail on Tuesday so I'm hoping it turns up today. Aus Post says parcels from Bendigo to Brisbane should take 3 business days so it could be today.

When I was doing some stash diving for the blue stripy Booga bag the other day I found a bag of cream Cleckheaton 12 ply wool which I saved from a half-finished project someone gave me many years ago. I can't even remember what the original project was, but from the small amount I have, I think that either I lost some of the yarn, or it was originally intended to be a child's jumper. It's in a weight I don't tend to use and in a colour I'm not drawn to, so it's stayed in the stash.

I've been seeing a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarn online recently and have wanted to give it a go for a little while. I got some good advice last week on starting with food dyes, and I think this small pile of 12 ply might be a good place to start experimenting. I weighed it all up last night and there's 350g. There is one lone ball still hanging on to its ball-band but the bad doesn't list a yardage. It's long discontinued so no readily available info online. I ended up doing a rough calculation by measuring how much yarn it took to wind once around a folder that was handy, and measured up the smallest of the little balls. 9 grams of yarn was just over 1000cm. All calculated up, the 350-ish grams of wool came to about 417m.

Now, what to do with it. I can't find any patterns I really like to make something for me. So the options are to put it aside for kiddy clothes for winter or to design my own shrug. What do you think, friendly commenters? Should my first foray into yarn dyeing lead into my first foray into designing?

Newsflash - the Bendigo yarn just turned up. Everyone here at work is laughing at my huge plastic postage bag full of yarn. (apologies for the bad photos - I only have my mobile phone here, and despite the fact that the manufacturer's documentation raves about the camera on this phone, it really takes crap photos)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who let the frogs out?

I've been knitting bags as gifts for The Boy's teacher and for a couple of family birthdays in December. I've finished knitting two of them, and one has been languishing. It's a blue stripy Booga Bag made with double strands of DK. I realised a little while ago that it was turning out a bit big. It was 25x14cm on the base and after the requisite 64 rows would have been 42cm tall. I've found in the past that bags made this way don't lose a lot of their size when they felt, and while it was probably not too humungous as a tote bag, it was taking a lot of yarn and I was approaching the point where I would ahve to decide whether to buy more or to make the top of the bag a radically different colour to the bottom.

If I hadn't lost interest in the knitting, none of these things would have been insurmountable. But, somehow, the thought of ripping it all out and making it smaller is more palatable than slogging through to the end.

I'm going to make it 28x28 rows on the base rather than the 34x34 called for in the pattern, and 52 rows rather than 64 for the sides. That should give me a bag which is 20.5 x 11.5 x 33.8cm in dimensions before blocking. I think that should make for a perfectly acceptable bag.

My Bendigo Woollen Mills order still hasn't turned up. I'll try and call them tomorrow. Hopefully it's just that they are busy with their sale and not that it has gone awol in the post.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I've finished the knitting on two of the bags I am making for gifts. I still have to felt the bags and add some needle-felted embellishments.

Also, here is a photo of my Kaylee Frye (from Firefly and Serenity) costume from the Friday the 13th birthday party on Friday night. It's a little bit blurry but it gives a bit of an idea. I couldn't get good boots cheaply, so just wore my walking shoes. I died my hair brown to go along with it, it's a bit shorter than Kaylee's but it was cheaper than a wig, and I think it did the job.A few people recognised who I was attempting to be, which was good. There were some amazing costumes - Death and Dream from Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, Velma from Scooby Doo, a really cool witch, Medusa, two people who had been run over and buried in shallow graves, a librarian, a nun, a gangster, assorted ghouls and a very cool Ms Marvel. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera, so I can't share.

I hope my Bendigo Woollen Mills order turns up soon. I really want to start knitting something new!