Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Look away now if you're squeamish

I've had unpleasant digestive symptoms for all of my adult life. Three years ago, at the end of a long process which started going to a new GP for an unrelated condition, I got my Crohn's Disease diagnosis. I have moderate Crohn's, in that if I'm not on my medication I tend to get symptoms all the time. Currently I'm on Salofalk (mesalazine) which the literature indicates doesn't work for Crohn's, but it seems to work for me. I feel pretty lucky that my disease is under control, and while I have my moments where I hate that I have to keep taking little orange pills every morning and night and I really hate it when I have to fill in pre-existing medical condition forms when I apply for travel insurance, I'm grateful to be mostly healthy, and happy I'm not one of the many Crohn's sufferers who can't travel at all.

I discovered recently that I'm lactose intolerant as well, and switching to lactose-free dairy and cutting out the rest has made a huge difference to the leftover symptoms. Let's just say that it's the first time in 17 years that I haven't needed to make sure that I have imodium with me wherever I go. If I can just remember to take my calcium supplements all will be well.

So it was a bit of a surprise today when at my regular quarterly visit to the Gastroenterologist, he suggested that we do another colonoscopy. He explained it by saying that while I'm feeling well now, my history suggests that my symptoms are a little bit all over the place and not always in step with my blood tests. He wants a look at my insides just to be sure. He's one of those rare Doctors who really listens to me, tells me everything that's going on, considers everything he can think of which might be affecting my Crohn's and most importantly, he tells it straight. I trust him completely.

So if he says he wants to be sure, that's okay with me. I'm not looking forward to it though.

And now, just to have some colour and some photographs (and while I'm open and honest about my medical conditions I'm not going to put up photos of that), here are some photos of current projects and some stitch markers I made the other night. These markers are similar to ones made by David of Sticks and String. He made a tutorial here. Mine are slightly different as I used a seed bead to stop the larger beads coming off the tiger tail rather than a second crimp, but they're mostly the same.Click to embiggen.

                           Blue glass beads and silver flowers       Haematite-look plastic beads

                               Left: blue crystals, Right: Shells from a necklace my Nanna gave me years ago.

Cascade 220 Heathers in 2445

Surprise Project - Cascade 220 in I can't remember at the moment (it's Charcoal coloured)
Rowan Shimmer in Silver.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A whole new look - well, half a new look, anyway

This blog has been green with a narrow column down the middle for too long so I'm trying out something different. It's not quite right yet. There's some work to go, and I'm seriously thinking of digging into the part of my brain which I'm hoping might still contain some dusty old HTML knowledge. But this will do for the moment. :)

Does anyone know where winter went?

Winter is well and truly over. It's been around 30 degrees celsius for the last few days and forecast for 33 today. I haven't got around to sending my nephew's jumper down to Sydney and I suspect that I may have missed my chance. It's not quite as warm in Sydney as it is in Brissy at the moment but it will still be 27 degrees there today. Too warm for wooly jumpers. I think I'd better get it in a postpack as quickly as I can and send it down just in case there happens to be some cooler evenings. Unfortunately in the nature of finishing woolen clothing for 1 year old kiddies, the jumper will be too small for him next year.

The Man was away at Perisher for the weekend so, with looking after the Boy, I didn't get much knitting done. I got down as far as the lace on the February Lady and I've done 1 repeat of the lace plus one row. I got a little distracted when the Man got home so I didn't get any photos but it's starting to look interesting.

I'm still working on a birthday project for my sister, who turned 30 yesterday. We're going down for a party in a few weeks so I've got a little while to get it done. I was intending to do some embellishment on it using some silver Rowan Shimmer but that hasn't been working out too well so I think I may have to put the FLS aside and give the birthday gift some effort in the evenings.

I still haven't got to the washing and blocking of the cabled cardy bits. At this rate, I could wait until next year because it will be too hot to wear!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Giving in to temptation.

I didn't get to wash and block the cabled cardy pieces. Various other things have gotten in the way over the last few days and since the Man is now at the snow until Sunday, the Boy and I will need to occupy each other, which will mean I won't get much time to spend with the wool and the baby bathtub. That's okay - the cardy pieces aren't going anywhere and it took so long to get this far that an extra week won't matter so much.

What I did do was cast on for the February Lady. It's late in the evening now and I should be getting to bed so I won't be taking the camera out to get photos but I should get some in the next few days. I'm powering thorough it and have just finished the last raglan row before the eyelet increase row. I'm not so happy with my buttonholes but they look okay from the right side so they're staying that way. If I make another Lady she might have press-studs and no buttonholes! (or just buttons and no holes since I rarely button up my cardies anyway).

The other thing that's happened is that I've discovered David Reidy's Sticks and String podcast. I think I was aware of his blog before I moved up from Sydney, back when I nearly made it in to the Sydney Sity Klickers group many times but was too scared to turn up in case my knitting wasn't good enough. (I think it was more that it was in the first year after Doug died when I was worried that I wasn't good enough, but there you go.)

Anyway, I've got a lot to catch up on. The latest podcast on David's site is number 112 and I'm currently listening to number 19. It's nice to hear an Aussie's point of view and it's certainly making the bus trips seem shorter and easier to handle!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where have I been?

I’ve been busy lately. Work has been a bit of a challenge. It’s not the first time my team has been really busy, and not the first time I’ve seen individual project teams struggling under the weight of incipient deadlines, but it’s the first time the entire Software Engineering department has been buried under a raft of heavy commitments. Everyone is a little tense right now.
I’ve ended up needing to switch my brain off quite a lot. Where previously I would have logged on to work most evenings and done an extra hour or so, now I only log on if I know I need to finish something off, and I log off as soon as I’m done. Some evenings I deliberately don’t turn on my computer in case I feel obliged to log on to work. I know that this is going to have to change at some stage. The sort of job I do is never going to be the sort of job you can get done in 7.5 hours a day. You know that going in, and though it’s unwritten, it’s accepted. But just at the moment I’m not mentally in a good place to be working in the evenings.
Knitting has been my saviour, and I have been catching up on a number of knitting podcasts and audio books.

I’ve finished a jumper for the Boy
Ribbed jumper from Panda 8plys 11 Handknits for kids, Bendigo Luxury 8 ply, 2 balls Junior Navy, Tiny little bit of Ruby.

A Peace Baby for my nephew
Bendigo Luxury 8 ply, 1 ball Junior Navy, Cleckheaton Country Naturals, ¼ ball Lavender

And a Booga Bag for my friend Jo
Bendigo Rustic 12 ply in Elm, 1 Ball.
This one took absolutely every scrap of the ball. It’s bigger than any Booga Bag I’ve made before so I had trouble finding a box big enough to block it properly. I ended up using a shoe box that was probably a little bit too small, and I’m not entirely happy with how the top edge of the bag turned out – it was uneven and a little bit ripply. Still, the recipient (my friend Jo from work) was really happy with it and it is apparently getting lots of nice compliments so I guess it all turned out okay.
My big knitting companion for the last aaaaaages has been my cabled jacket/cardigan thingy. I started this on the 16th of May last year and have knitted on it on and off since then, with some stretches of lots of work, and some great periods of inactivity. I found it really quite tricky to get the hang of the cables, and I really dislike the yarn. It feels okay, and the cables look quite good, but it continually untwists and splits. The splittiness means that I’ve had to pay a lot more attention, particularly doing the cables, and I’ve needed to unpick some rows to fix split stitches, and occasionally I needed to perform challenging antics to drop back ladders of stitches (sometimes, terrifyingly, through the cables themselves) to fix up some dodgy stitch some uncountable numbers of rows previous. I know of at least one dodgy stitch which will stay there. It’s right at the bottom of one of the front pieces and I didn’t notice it until I was sewing in the pocket piece last night. No way to fix it without redoing practically the whole piece. I can live with it, as it’s really only visible from the wrong side, and I’m actually just happy to have this garment almost finished.

All that said, I think it marks a bit of a turning point for me as a knitter. It was the first real cable project I’ve ever knitted, and while it’s not all-over cables, there is still (to my mind, at least) a significant amount of cabling in it. There are two, three and four stitch cable and twist stitches in both directions, so it’s not just the same thing over and over. I’ve been finding lately that the cables are getting easier and easier. I must here give credit to Grumperina’s instructions for cabling without a cable needle because I would have gone nuts without them. I suspect that like the rest of this project, the non-cable-needle cables would have been simpler with less splitty yarn.
I realised last night that my queue of upcoming projects includes two cabled projects and three or four lace ones. Lace is another technique I’ve not got much experience in, having knitted only a few booties. I’m sure there are lots of challenges waiting for me in the lace projects on the queue (my ravelry queue).

We went to the Ekka on Saturday. I let the boys run off to the showbag pavilion while I pottered through the arts and crafts. I was intrigued to find that there was only one item displayed for the Knitted Felting category. I can imagine that they wouldn’t display every entry, but I would have thought they would have shown 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Does that mean there was only one entry? First place was certainly a nicely made entry – a stripy, shaped felted bag with bamboo handles – but I think I could do something of a similar quality. I’m entertaining thoughts of making one of the gorgeous Noni bags (possibly this one) , or designing something of my own….felted butterflies perhaps…

But I think that has to wait for the moment. I need to get the cabled cardy finished, as no matter how much I am celebrating the end of the knitting, there’s still a not unsignificant amount of work to go before I have a wearable garment. So I’m hoping to wash and pin out the pieces this evening so that I can start sewing up soon.

And then maybe I can start my February Lady Sweater.