Friday, 10 November 2017

what a week

I missed last week and then had a hectic week so am posting now for this week and last.

Some years ago one of my sons fell down concrete fire escape steps at work.  Two broken ankles and when he started to move we found there was a lot of damage to his back.  One operation to free a nerve was botched and he has had trouble ever since and more operations.  It was suggested that an impulse generator be used to kill the pain.  This was the very latest technology and he wore it strapped to his back for some weeks as a test.  It was then fitted into his lower back and the leads went through tissue to nerve spots.

Almost immediately he developed severe cramping.  It has gone from bad to worse.  He takes a cocktail like mix of several very potent painkillers and absolutely hates them.  Many pain management clinics helped a bit but he was obviously getting worse and the muscle spasms and cramps stopped movement, stopped sleep, contorted his body and more.  He tried to hide how much pain he was in, but we could all see it.

The neurologist decided to remove the implant as it seemed it was somehow connected with all this.  That was a long operation a week ago today.  He was in agony and could lie down only on hospital room floor.  Things got worse and the hospital did an emergency MRI when it was found the discs further up his back had been damaged by the spasms.

Another long operation to fix that problem. Two of them in four days has been very hard on him.

However, it seems that this has been a turning point.  He is home, on bed rest for two weeks before checkups.  He sounds better, has post-op pain but that is healing.  For the first time in a long time,he sounds optimistic.  It may well be the beginning of a much better season in his life.  He is bone weary, he has had little sleep for months.  However he can now lie down and when he does he falls asleep straightaway.

No one has been able to work out a reason for the spasms and cramps till now.  It is only a hypothesis but it is possible.  We know the gadget, big as two matchboxes, works.  Externally it showed that.  The problem started after it was fitted. Top state of the art from the USA.  The neurologist now believes that while the technology works, it was the physical side which was wrong. Son is very tall and as skinny as a beanpole.  Many Americans would be 20+ kilos heavier than he is for the height and there would be a cushion of fat for the implant.  As he is skinny, no cushion and the implant box has rubbed his body whenever he moved.  Eventually the body set up its own defences and the cramps started to stop his movement.  Sounds odd, but it does fit the circumstances.

It has taken many months for the muscles to be almost frozen in twisted, tortured positions.  It will not be a quick recovery, but the signs are very hopeful.

The week has been hard.  I have done little knitting, not enough to mention.  I do not cry much, but when he rang me to say recovery was not only probable but had already started in a small way, I cried. Both he and his wife say he walks almost normally now without dragging left leg and they described this as almost miraculous.

Hopefully more good news next week and some knitting too.  Am working on that.

Monday, 30 October 2017

so just what was the question?

I rarely fuss with coffee art but this question mark formed itself on top of my second cup of coffee this morning.  I am not at all sure of just what the actual question is.  There are several I could think of and and I have no ideas of the answer.

Will this be the last back operation my son needs?  I am sure he would like to hear that this has fixed the problem.   He has had several over the last few years and eventually had an electronic impulse generator inserted in his lower back for nerve pain.  It worked well,  but his body was very unhappy with the implant which was about the size of two matchboxes.  His muscles would spasm uncontrollably and the pain was intense.  It was removed three days ago and he can feel the muscles slowly unraveling from the contortions the spasms had forced.  A couple of other procedures were done at the same time.

All of us would love to see an end to the torment and pain he has had .

On the other hand is another question.  How much longer on the light weight fingering cowl I am making.  The yarn is beautiful to knit, but with several hundred stitches on my circular needle, it takes a long time to see much progress.  Today is forecast to be 35° so I may not do much till the southerly arrives in the late afternoon.

I dug out these socks one day last week.  They were one of the first pair I had made.  I am not hard on socks, rarely get wear holes in the usual places like heel or toe.  These have a couple of darns where I snagged them on something and a hole developed.

They are very cosy and I love them still.  While  have socks from several brands of very expensive yarn, I can't level that charge on these.  They are some of the first sock yarn I ever bought.  Lionbrand, bought from a distributor in Melbourne.  The name of the retailer has completely slipped my mind.

I am a bit of a yarn snob, never use acrylic as it hurts my hands and fingers.  They can hurt by themselves without any extra incentive.  Some yarn I won't use.  Opal and Noro both inflame sore fingers, although I love Noro colours.  Opal feels like binder twine as it passes over my fingers, although the socks wear well.

As Cindy at 2paws says, I have not just lost  a lot of weight but have also gained health.  25 kilos and if I applied myself a bit more, more would go. I have been eating low carb, high protein.  It suits me.  Lots of green vegetables, quite a bit of fish, salad etc.  With protein and fat , I almost never feel deprived or sorry for myself and am not hungry. Occasionally I will have some bread or a wrap, but not often.  I haven't bough biscuits or similar in ages.

This was breakfast a few days ago.  Spinach and egg.  I have been buying frozen spinach as it comes in a neat pack, not a huge bunch.  This brand is from Coles and is called Natures Nutrient.  $1 a pack of 250 gm.  I like it much better than the pellets of the much dearer brand which I would put in casseroles etc.  This tastes like fresh, without the fuss.  I heat it slowly in butter, add herbs like dill, add some chilli, often quite a bit, and then gradually stir in a couple of eggs.  It may not look appetising but with the chilli and fresh spinach, it tastes good and is easy and quick for breakfast.  I surprise myself sometimes.  For many years, breakfast was coffee.  Then I graduated to toast or cereal, now eggs often.  Leftovers are used at breakfast or deliberately cooked to have with an enormous salad at lunch.

Depending on clothing brand, I have gone down five or six sizes and some cheap, make-do things I bought last summer are now falling off my shoulders. I deliberately bought cheap and they have done what I wanted them for.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

rain at last

 In two months Sydney had only 2 mm of rain.  Shrubs and plants here were showing signs of stress.  The we had rain two days ago on Friday.  Forecast had promised it many times but nothing happened.  Further west towards Broken Hil and in other pastoral areas there were good falls, but nothing here.

I was going towards lift to collect mail downstairs when I looked over the edge of the rail.  The plants downstairs were shiny in the rain, and the angles of stairs, rails and tiles made an interesting composition.

Today is Sunday.  The morning was pleasant and sunny but rain was forecast in the afternoon.  Twice in a row, the forecast has been correct.  It has been raining here now for about an hour.  Days more needed but anything is better than nothing.

I should have fiddled with this a bit, I see.  This is Three Irish Girls, fingering sock yarn.  Colour is called Purple Rain.  It is really quite a bit darker than shown here, almost black. I was sitting at black glass table outside and had to change positions as the deep purple against the black glass made the stitches next to impossible to see.  This will be a plain cowl as a Christmas present.  I found some simple but effective patterns on Ravelry for cowls but when I started, I thought that I would let the wool speak for itself in its gorgeous colours . Moss stitch border and stocking stitch, knit in the round on circulars.

So what has happened to my ten stitch blanket?  On having a good look at it I found a nasty mistake I had made.  The corners are mitred with two sets of short rows.  Somehow on one corner, I had omitted doing the second set.  Instead of a sharp right angle. I had a floppy piece of fabric and no real corner.  I thought for a while that I could fudge a fix, knowing full well I would never be satisfied with the fix.  I ripped it back and have possibly a month's work to get back on track.  The rug is currently stuffed into a Coles shopping bag in time out. The change from lightly spun thick roving to light gingering weight yarn has taken some time to adjust to.

This too far away to be  really
clear.  I was not sure how long the fire engine and the larger Rescue Unit would be here.  I could here them screaming up the main road outside for several minutes.  All sorts of emergency vehicles go past here.  To my surprise they pulled in here and seven firemen emerged.  There have been a couple of emergencies in the years I had been here with LP gas filling, but nothing seemed to be wrong.  No smoke or panic.  They pulled in almost completely blocking the way in and the entry to McDs drive through lane.

A folded ladder which would access about twelve feet was taken from the smaller appliance.  I wondered if a cat was stuck in the huge Moreton Bay fig tree but that seemed fine.  McD's roof blocked my sight.  I think that some one or some animal was caught in the stormwater canal next to the big tree. A police car pulled up and the two policemen from it joined the group.  After about 30 minutes they all returned, packed things away and left.  I have no idea what was wrong.  The canal is very wide and was deepened some years ago after it flooded further back.  It always has water in it, just a tiny stream in the middle. Just after engines and police car left, another police car arrived with sirens screaming.  Just a tad late.  I'm glad they were not needed.

This one is a mystery.  A year ago I was plagued by pigeons nesting on my balcony floor.  DIL and I removed seven makeshift nests before eggs were laid.  A couple of years ago I did have eggs hatch and nestlings died.  Urk.

I had been determined I was not having that occur.  DIL installed plastic bird spikes under the balcony rail as that was how they approached here.  Planter boxes outside had metal spikes around the edges and lengths of what looked like enormous Slinkies were also installed.  I was not popular with strata manager who said people might downgrade the place because of this. I insisted I was going ahead and how could it not be downgraded with green, slimy, disease carrying droppings all over the floor.  She gave way and further bigger activities are being carried out against the pigeons which are here for easy food from McDs here and KFC and Burger King down the road.

This morning I found half an egg shell under my outside table.  There have been no signs of nesting, no sounds of baby birds and no parents flying in with food for babies.  Just a mystery.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Padraig and friends

 Perhaps a more hopeful and pleasant post than last week where I was rather down, to say the least.  Lots of family problems all pressed in at once.  I have done some more exercise, walking as much as I can, eaten well and early to bed.

I have also indulged in a little retail therapy.  This lovely yarn is fingering weight and has 10% nylon in it so used for socks.  I am planning on finishing the never ending ten stitch blanket in the next few days and these beauties are to be Christmas presents, possibly cowls.

I bought them online from the Convent and Chapel Wool Shop in Rylstone in the Central west near Mudgee.  Much of my family came from the area and it feels like home to me.  Margot and Gemma have beautiful yarns in the shop which is housed in an old hotel in Rylstone.  Their service is good and prompt.  I now get any purchases sent to my son's work because of the problems associated with this area and he brought my purchases down last night.

This is Three Irish Girls yarn and it feels as if it will be beautiful to use.  The light in my lounge was not really bright enough to show  the vivid colours well.  From the left are two skeins of Hydrangea, and intense blue/purple.  The green is lighter and very intense.  It is called Padraig.  What else for green and Irish girls?  Next is delphinium and last is purple rain.

I have been digging around in Ravelry and pulled out a few cowl patterns to consider.  The first is the Irish Mesh Cowl, an appropriate choice for the provenance of the yarn.  The second is a textured Project Peace cowl pattern.

I have also bought some clothes.  I keep mine for a long time but have had the combination of some that have worn out to the point of being truly threadbare and also are now far too big since losing 25+ kilos.

This is an interesting top.  I like it but am still unsure of it.  The sleeves are batwing but from elbow to wrist, they are snug.

The neck is fairly wide and I am wearing it in the house as a test before going out in public.  I did not want to find that movement caused it to fall off my shoulders or to have the V-neck gaping so I felt uncomfortable out in public.  So far today it seems fine.

I bought a skirt of an unusual design  long but with two side panels which wrap around and are tied at the waist.  That one would be better with some more weight gone.  Then a fairly prosaic shirtwaist dress in a denim blue which fits well.

Spring has sprung here this week, although we could use a week of rain.  2 mm in six weeks is all Sydney has had. These two photos are from my dwarf kaffir lime tree. This is used by shredding the leaves very finely and adding to Thai green curries, along with Thai holy mint which I have in a planter box. I like the curry without these ingredients , but adding them produces an entirely different flavour and the lime leaf gives a wonderful aroma as well.  The leaves all grow as the photo shows , with a tiny join between each pair.  The tree was growing  reasonably but has suddenly made use of the fertiliser I gave it, coupled with the spring weather.  It has taken off with a bang and the leaves which spent much of winter fairly yellowed are now glossy deep green.

It comes with good protection against raiders.  There are many thorns along each branch.  Thorns are exceedingly sharp and are about 2 cm long. The red flowers on the right are diplodena/mandevilla given to me some fifteen to twenty years ago by my mother.  It has been repotted several times and almost always has some flowers on it. The small purple flowers are nodding violets, no perfume, in fact a different plant to violets altogether.  This was grown from a cutting purloined from a holiday home about twenty years ago.

My granddaughters gave me some herbs for my birthday in August.  I had a few, including some basil which amazingly survived over winter.  I now have another half dozen herbs and they are all thriving too.

Lunch beckons after an early breakfast.  Breakfast is usually eggs in some shape or form, sometimes with bacon or tomatoes and mushrooms.  Lunch will be protein of some sort and a huge salad which takes ages to eat. Dinner is again some protein and vegetables, usually a big pile of assorted green vegetables. I eat quite a lot of fish.   I now bake not just asparagus which I have done for years, but also a wedge of cabbage or some flowerets of cauliflower or broccoli. I am rarely hungry and hardly ever have bread in any form.    I have not bought biscuits for at least a year, no longer cook them.  Some vegetables  with carbs are eaten, new potatoes which are low GI, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin are also on my menu.

I use lots of butter, make sauces with cream and use sour cream on curries etc.  Cholesterol is not a problem.

Cold meat for lunches is expensive.  I now plan ahead.  Yesterday I cooked a piece of corned silverside.  I let it cool in the water and when it was cold, I sliced it so it is ready to just take from the fridge for lunch.  When I went to cook it I had the brown sugar but could not find any ordinary vinegar in the pantry at all.  That situation has now been remedied.  I used some good red wine vinegar in the meat and wondered how it would go. It was that or raspberry vinegar from a winery in the Southern Highlands.  The raspberry is beautiful but I did not fancy it with corned beef.  I can tell you red wine vinegar was really good.  I will do it again . The corned beef went well with the red wine vinegar.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

some people

Such an enormous car!  It needs two spaces.  Just look.  It is parked across the disabled space in front of McDs.   I saw this from my balcony so took a photo.  Bad enough to be across two spots but to park over the disabled spot which gets a lot of use from rightful users is just unacceptable.McDs often has buses from homes around the place as they bring people for icecreams and just a breath of fresh air.  Somewhere different to be without four walls surrounding them.

As you can see, I am in a snarky mood.  Several family problems all impacting my moods and I am not sure what will happen with some of them.  Children are still my children, even when they are adults with their own families..

I am still knitting my ten stitch rug.  I will finish the current ball I started yesterday and then reconsider my next move.  I had considered blocking the rug and then perhaps doing an edge in  crochet .  Today I sat outside in the sun knitting.  When I stood up, my black dress was covered in hairs and fluff from the rug.  I must remember not to wear it when knitting that.
The Convent and Chapel Wool shop in Rylstone in the Mudgee district in the Central West  of the state has some beautiful yarns.  Absolutely beautiful.  It is in an old shop at Rylstone and Margot and  Gemma are very pleasant and helpful  I have bought from them before.  Yesterday when I was fed up with plodding along on the rug, I had a look. Look at this beautiful sock yarn.  I have been checking it out for several days since they put it up.  I bought five  skeins.  Socks for me and probably some cowls as Christmas presents.  I am told it is beautiful to work with and that the colours shown in the drop down menus are as beautiful in real life as they appear on my scree.  I bought Padraig, a lovely, vibrant green, two skeins of hydrangea and two others.  Nothing like new yarn to cheer a person up.   Bought late yesterday and they are on their way.

Rylstone and surrounding districts up into the Hunter Valley have much family history for me.  I feel at home in the area and read my family history compilation and can see those places in my mind.  My grandmother was the eldest of seven or eight children and her husband the middle of fifteen.  Lots of history.  Margot from the shop bought the old Spanish Mission in Kandos a nearby township.  the mission was neglected for years but she is doing the garden and the building as well as running the shop.

If you check out my link, you will find a link to her blog and also links to other beautiful yarns. All drool worthy.

Lunch time, so will sign out.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Millie, Molly, Mandy

I distinctly remember the book called Milly, Molly,Mandy, being used as a supplementary reader when I was in second class.  I finished it in under the time allotted on one Friday afternoon for such activity when several weeks were set aside for it. I read it all in one afternoon and was bored stiff by it.   I did not like it as it was very "soppy" and totally unsuited to Australian conditions and customs.

My second class teacher was at a loss as to what to give me.  Problem solved.  She would bring in the Anne series and bring a new one to replace the finished book.  I worked my way quickly through the series, so so she went on to the Billabong series by Mary Grant Bruce.  More books from her childhood collection followed.

All this is to introduce Millie.  My son and two of the five children drove to Cessnock in the Hunter Valley at the weekend to collect her from her first home, a sheep farm.  They use Border Collies there and sell the ones they do not need.  Pedigreed but no papers, which is fine.  Isn't she cute.  A twelve week old Border Collie, already able to follow a few commands like sit, stay and she loves playing with a ball.  She is settling in well and is happy there, away from her brothers and sisters.  The same can't be said for Jenkins, the cat from the rescue society which they have had for some months now.  He is not a kitten, possibly a couple of years old.  He has been insulted by the newcomer.  I guess they will settle down soon, once his dignity forgets it has been affronted by such a young puppy.

Milly still needs the series of vaccinations to be completed so she cannot yet go on walks outside.  However, their back yard is enormous , so she is practising walking on the lead out there.

It has been an up and down sort of week.  Not much knitting done as my right hand has had several painful fingers and a very sore thumb from arthritis.  I woke one morning to find hip and knee were just fine, but fingers were puffy, distorted and very painful.  I have balcony doors on one end of my kitchen/living area.  At the other end is the kitchen. Over the sink there is a hopper window opening onto the walkway outside.  It has been closed for months as quite a lot of cold air comes in.  However, spring has sprung up here and I wanted the window open.  My sore thumb just would not co-operate in winding out the handle to open it.  It is hard enough as I am short and have to lean over the sink and reach up at the same time.  When my grocery order came from Colesworths, I asked the driver to open it for me.  twenty seconds and the deed was done.  Their drivers are very helpful, always polite and cheery and pleasant to deal with.  Unlike the drivers from the second part of than combined name who are not punctual and are often surly.  The open window is now pleasant and keeps the place well ventilated.

I have been eating a low carb diet for a year now and have lost a lot of weight and several dress sizes too.  I am not fussed if occasionally I have carbs, but generally don't at home.  Cream and butter and eggs and proteins and lots of vegetables.  I am rarely hungry.  This week I have bought some more clothes.  Summer things as much of what I had was old and really well on the way out, apart from being miles too big and falling off  my shoulders.

This was dinner last night with more vegetables as well.  Chicken tenderloins baked.  Then I spread them with a paste of ginger, garlic, lemon grass and chilli.  The green is spring onions and chopped green beans.  I really enjoyed my meal.  Eating low carb is fairly easy and I enjoy lots of yummy things.  Tonight is the last of the tenderloins, with a mushroom sauce and I will add some cream to the sauce before serving with a salad. Soups featured fairly heavily in winter and I enjoyed them.

Breakfast is occasionally Greek Yoghurt.  I buy a kilo tub of it from Tamar Valley in Tasmania.  Thick and creamy and I enjoy it.  Otherwise eggs feature heavily often with good streaky bacon or perhaps scrambled with smoked salmon and cream .  Despite cream and eggs and butter, my cholesterol level is well down on the scale.

I make an enormous salad for lunch, more than a day's allowance of vegetables in just one meal.  And some protein, cheese, perhaps cold meats or sausages, or a tiny tin of tuna in oil.

I must say it is pleasant to have people barely recognise me if I have not seen them for a while.

Monday, 25 September 2017

purple surprise

I missed my planned weekend entry, but here is something around a week since last post!  Amazing!

This petunia was a happy surprise.  I planted the parsley next to it five weeks ago, no petunia at all then.  When watering on Saturday morning ahead of the heat, I saw a plant.  Today it is blooming.  I think it must have been from seeds dropped last year or possibly the year before.  Never mind, it is a bright spot among the green herbs.

Miss M and her older sister gave me six pots of herbs for my birthday five weeks ago and they are all doing well.

Spring has sprung here although the weekend seemed to have shifted gear straight to summer with two very hot days and a dry wind.  Off came the winter clothes.  Today I have sandals on, a long but light skirt and a short sleeved cotton shirt.

I have been knitting in the sun most mornings for an hour or so.  The everlasting ten stitch blanket is slowly growing.  However even that changed over the weekend.  I went outside in late afternoon to sit in the shade with the sea breeze blowing.  Last week I was spreading the blanket over my lap and tucking the edges in to enjoy its warmth.  Now I have the bulk of the blanket resting on the balcony table as I knit.

I have had lots of aches and arthritis pains.  I don't know if the heat has helped but there is not a twinge now in my right kneecap or my shoulders.  However, today my right thumb cannot be bent and the middle finger on the same hand is painful.  Still, better that than the knees or shoulders.  Just strange how the pain went, but I will take it.

Miss M turns 13 in two days time, still  healthy and a sassy young teenager.

This poor photo is of lemon thyme, also a gift from the two granddaughters.  I should have replaced battery in my Fuji and used the macro lens.  iPhone photos are great for skies and food, not so good for close ups of tiny flowers.  This also was planted five weeks ago and is blooming.  I want leaves not flowers so I snipped these off and gave the plant a good dring.  The breeze here is very drying up afew floors.

So dry has it been that my spare room door is opening and closing as it should with no force needed.  When we have rain, it expands and is very difficult to open.

Must go.  I spilt some coffee on the kitchen floor and the spill reinforced the fact that it needs a wash.  As knee is fine just now, I will take the opportunity to do it.

Monday, 18 September 2017

It's been a while...

I could get into blog after over a year, but my goodness, it looked strange.I have been thinking about resuming for a while and had decided a couple of days ago that I would try to post just once a week, at least for a while. More than that may be a bit too much to ask.  Life just has been in the way.

Now to see if I can still load photos.  The little petunia with the bright pink flowers is a survivor.  Most annuals bloom one season then die.  This has already flowered last year and died right back.  I noticed last week that there were fresh leaves and on bud.  There are now four flowers and more buds, so definitely a survivor.  Perhaps my blog is too.

The small basil in the same blue pot is also a survivor. In many years of growing basil, I have never had it survive over winter.  Two plants saw winter out but this particular one was eaten back to the stem, not a leaf left.  It too has recovered.

My famliy is well.  Miss M still has regular checkups but is till officially in remission fro the acute leukaemia.  The children's hospital doctors hit it hard with chemo, then deal with the side affects if any.  She developed diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis, all from chemo, but now these also also in remission. She is in her first year of high school and has been almost two terms without days off for illness. Do you know the best part of high school?  No question about it.  Lockers!

My arthritis comes and goes.  Very bad yesterday, OK today. My hip is recovered from the torn ligaments which left hip  joint floating without support, but I still have trouble walking without support.  A lot of it is in my head, so I am working on that too as well as on physical progress.

My son remarried some time ago so I now have seven grandchildren, not five.  They were a bit bewildered particularly the one the same age and school as Miss M. A blended family has ups and downs and the downs were not helped by diagnosis of epilepsy and a sensory processing disorder.

I have been fairly monogamous in my knitting.  There have been a few hats and scarves, one set being sent to France where the elderly owner of a B&B, where son and his bride stayed a few nights on their honeymoon, had a hat nearly falling apart.  More holes than knitting.  This was up in the mountains.  Son and bride hired a Renault from factory in Paris and spent a month driving, across to Mont St Michel, down to the Mediterranean and across, then up almost to Strasbourg and thence back to Paris.  They loved it and have some amazing photos from the trip.

Last summer I made this rug.  It is sixteen squares.  I loved the variety but it took me two days to sew together and I had a sore back from hunching over it.  It is made with Cascade 220 and has been great thrown over me for an after lunch nap in the winter.  It is large enough to tuck around me and is very cosy.  The squares are different.

I had plans for a fancy shawl from Malabrigo, a new order from a yarn shop.  That was to be my winter project.  I have heard nothing of the Malabrigo.  So I started another rug, a present for new daughter in law.  It is made from Cleckheaton Californias, Bastille name of colour.  I am using the ten stitch blanket pattern, easy but ever so boring.  Ten stitches in a strip which every two rows is joined to the  blanket body.  At the corners I have the excitement of a mitred corner, then back to the strip.  I have used about half the yarn, knitted on 6 mm needles.

Did you know Bendigo Mills have bought out Australian Country Spinners?  That means brands like cleckheaton, Patons and others have been taken over.  Bendigo says it will continue them.

This California was probably not a good choice for the rug.  It is basically thin roving, so little stitch definition.  It is very cosy, now big enough to spread over my lap and tuck cosily around me as I knit outside in the sun on the balcony.  Being up high has been chilly over winter as there is quite a breeze, more like a gale at times.

This was the first time I had seen the the rug flat, well sort of flat.  I have added about three more strips around it.  Obviously some blocking is required.  However, it was bigger than I expected.

Till next week (I hope.)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

I have bitten the bullet

I have ripped out the sock from the craftsy class.  Smocked guernsey was the name and you can see by the picture that I was coming down the foot of the first sock.  I loved the look of the finished sock in the pattern.

It was particularly slow to knit.  It has taken me about two weeks of knitting to get this far.  The double wrapping of half the stitches on some rows to make the smocking was slow to do, although I liked the result.

The yarn drove me crazy.  It certainly felt soft and I think it would have been comfortable to wear, but, oh dear, it was splitty.   Very splitty, even on normal stitches like plain and purl.  I tried to go back and catch the bits in but did not always notice, so stray bits of yarn were obvious in the fabric.  Working the row after the double wrap needed a lot of concentration as it was often difficult to separate the stitches which had been wrapped without splitting the wool again.

I liked the looser cuff and will probably try that again on another pair.  85 stitches, three plain, three purl rib.  The purl rib is decreased halfway down the cuff and stitch count returns to a more usual number.  There were other bits of the pattern I was not happy with.  I had decided before I started that I would do the pattern as written.  I found much of the details to be tedious and unnecessary and thin only an absolute beginner would have needed as much detail as was given.  I mean, two graphs to show gusset decreases, one for each side of the foot?

I had forgotten how much I disliked knitting heel flaps.  I was planning on giving these away as heel flap designs do not suit my  feet, not matter how I adjust the flap.  I found the ribbing on the gusset a pain and could not see the point of it.

Then I looked at it and realised I was stuck with double wrapping stitches all the way down to the toe. And then another sock the same.  I could not do it.  Before I could stop myself, I took needles out and started ripping back.  Now to find some use for the splitty wool.

Life is too short to knit splitty wool, to paraphrase another saying.

Friday, 12 February 2016

craftsy and more

The countdown is on.  Just a few more weeks.   This is a very poor photo.  The sky was grey and the actual invitation is silver, almost verging on grey.  What started out to be something small now has around a hundred guests invited.  The ceremony will be performed by a friend of my son from Victoria at a small local church here and there will be a light luncheon afterwards at old Government House in Parramatta.  Nothing fancy about the cars,  French, both my son's and that of a friend.  His daughters and her daughter are junior bridesmaids and looking forward to being all dressed up. Two of her friends will also be bridesmaids. His best man is flying in from Perth.

Apparently I will be collected and taken to the wedding by my eldest grandchild.  He passed his driving test first go a few days ago and was absolutely thrilled.  He did it independently and arranged the whole thing himself, getting his dad to take him driving in the  morning before the test.  I drove behind him at Christmas and was impressed by his driving which was very steady and sensible without being stupidly slow either.  His mother knew nothing about it till he returned that afternoon from school.  Other friends will bring me home.

These yarns are from Craftsy.  They took quite a while to arrive, although their tracking system showed where they were quite well.  More than can be said for the tracking from Australia Post which is very hit and miss.  The colours are coffee and cream, strawberry fields (2) and lagoon.  They go with patterns and videos by Lucy Neatby.  Two of the patterns are here, the third will be published at the start of March.  As my yarn arrived only a couple of days ago, I am behind with  them. That's fine.

The coffee and cream is for a pattern called smocked guernsey socks.   

I am finding it slow.  I like the colours, but this yarn is very splitty and I have to be very careful to use it without splitting it.   Because the smocking pulls in the fabric, more stitches than I normally use are cast on.   Half the cuff was done on 85 stitches, reduced partway through the cuff to 68.  

As I have done next to no knitting recently and have had a flare of arthritis, I am taking it esy on the knitting.  The fingers on my right hand will not straighten out but are curved and the little finger is often painful. So easy does it.   I m not yet into the main part of the pattern.  Several rows in this repeat have half the stitches double wrapped, a slow procedure doing it as she suggests.  Then the next row needs care.  The wrapped stitches sit closely together and I have to watch not to split the yarn as I separate them. I hope the other colours do not split so readily.They seem to be plied more tightly, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I am beginning to feel a bit better, my family has been very concerned about my mobility. Yesterday I managed a whole day with just the walking stick and not the frame.  Part of the problem has been psychological as well as physical.  I have been doubtful for months about the stability of walking.  Will each step work?  I seem to have moved past this now and can get moving more quickly.  I have been sitting thinking about standing, the when standing, thinking about the step.  Left or right foot?  Not good.

I found some guided meditations from a site called Headspace.  They are free for about three weeks and then a charge is made, although the free ones can be repeated.  Each lasts ten minutes.  I have always been a bit uneasy about such stuff.  In almost three weeks, I have found nothing to make me uneasy.  No silly ideas etc.  I am beginning to feel the effect from these.  At least, I am putting my improved mental state down to it.  Yesterday I realised at the end of the day that I was still breathing calmly and this was making me feel better. More oxygen if nothing else.  I used only the walking stick for support, not the walker and overall felt more confident.  I have always been confident and known what I wanted and how to live.  Definitely introverted as is another son, but usually able to cope if I have time away from people.  I really think there has been some depression there and I feel clearer now as If merging from under a cloud.  Yes, I did speak to the doctor about it and he thought time etc would help as it was not severe.  However, I am am very grateful that this unpleasant episode may be finally lifting.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

sundry assorted bits and pieces

Two posts in a week! Still no knitting to speak of, but some yarn I bought has just cleared customs today, so hopefully the next post may have something to show.

I have never though of myself as someone who grew African violets.  Mum was not a gardener, although she had good ideas for layouts and choice of plants, but gardening?  Not her thing.  However, she had numerous African violets and looked after them well.  There were nearly always blooms on most. I loved fresh tomatoes and more from my garden.  But African violets were not my thing at all.  Still aren't really. However my eldest son was given this one way back when we lived at Killara, possibly 2016.  I have no idea why he received this as a present.  He offered it to me to take care of.  It is still alive and at times it even has a mass of flowers.  This was taken quite early in the morning so light is dark.

Here is a picture of Miss M, still on chemo, but taken not long ago.  Our family Christmas was held at the polo grounds at Richmond.  It was very hot although we were able to both park in the shade of some enormous old trees and to drag tables and seats from clubhouse to the shade.  My niece is a polo addict, has a couple of ponies, although at three years into the game, she is still really a beginner.  She spent time in Argentina this year and went to games with the national team.  She had lessons and went to Patagonia up in the mountains and rode with the gauchos there.  She had a wonderful time and her photos are just amazing and breathtakingly beautiful.  She plays here regularly and is a member of the club.  We had the place to ourselves.  It was around 40 deg. C, but we were fairly comfortable.

Here's a photo looking from inside the clubhouse outside to playing field.The young ones had mallets and whacked balls around the field, although they gave up on that one in the heat.  They sat astride practice horses made from 40 gallon drums, mounted on a frame.  My niece set up the sprinkler and they had a good time getting cool there.

It is a bit washed out but looked like this after several very hot days.  We had the place to ourselves at the end of a private road.  It was convenient as far as family here and there was concerned and a good time was had by all.

My son and his fiancee held an engagement party just before Christmas.  At a friend's house where there was a pool.  Again, another hot day but all the children.  This is my youngest grandson, there is now another girl younger than he is, and another boy the same age and class as Miss M, at the same school.  Much to their delight, they are in the same grade but different classes this year.  High school next year.  Miss M seems to be coping, she is  quite bright and seems fine despite the huge amount of school she has missed  in the last two years. She is, however a "blonde bubblehead" as an aunt described her many years ago.  Lives in a daze, except for where she is really interested in something, like Star wars lego.  

My son lives  on the Central Coast overlooking Brisbane Water and they come down reasonably often by train.

Finn is a big boy, very solid and loves lego, bike riding, dismantling the bike he wrecked when he hit a pothole.

He is also a good cook who enjoys various dishes but is especially is good at Anzacs and BBQs.  I printed out and bound the favourite recipes from my original folder.  I gave a copy to each son and Finn now peruses it often to choose something new to make.  He is 10.

The person behind Finn  is his Dad, my youngest son.Last in this assorted post is another photo.  Finn, his dad and my middle son, newly engaged.

Again another hot day with strong sunshine which sapped the colours around.  It also sapped my energy, although those in the pool seemed to have boundless energy to jump in and out, chase each other, play with a ball and so on.

As always, photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

trying again

I guess that the new year is as good a time as any to try again.  The last two years have been rough, very rough.  My energy has been sapped for various reasons and blogging was one thing I let slide.  Knitting was another.  Photography yet another, even using phone.

However, it seems as if things are looking up somewhat, so I shall try again.

We received the most wonderful Christmas present ever.  Three weeks late, but most definitely better late than never.

A few days ago, Miss M was officially declared to be in remission from the ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.  She had what we hope will be the last lumbar puncture less than a week ago and then remission was announced.  This means monthly checks for now and checks will continue for very many years more, well into adulthood.  But right now, it means no more chemo.  After the intense chemo in hospital for months, she moved to daily chemo, often half a dozen different tablets at night.  She was meticulous about these, could tell you about what each did, were they to be taken with or before or after food etc.  All gone now.  The chemo had nasty side effects apart from the hair loss.  Arthritis which put her in a wheelchair for a long time, pancreatitis which was very painful, diabetes for a long time.  All from the chemo.  The policy here is to hit the leukaemia hard and to then deal with any side effects.

Outside the oncology wards at the Children's Hospital there is a big bell.  Similar practice worldwide.  The bell is rung by the patient to signal remission.  She rang that bell hard.  I do have pictures but  imagine an 11 year old beaming and swinging the rope hard.  Pictures are Facebook and I would rather not use son's account.  However, we are rejoicing in this and are very, very grateful.

This picture here is a bit older.  Hair grown back.  The gooey mess is a marshmallow toasted over a tealight on my balcony.  Four of them, around the same age spent an evening doing this .  Each had skewers and  a tealight candle.  They spent an evening toasting a large bag of marshmallows. Next
morning I found a sticky mess everywhere.  On balcony tiles, all over table etc.  But they had fun.

There has been much more.  Son has been divorced, a nasty drawn out process with much acrimony on one side.  Just horrible.  The house was finally sold, settled on a week ago, with a much better price than had been suggested when they tried to sell three years ago.

He has met a lovely woman with two children of her own.  This was a year ago.  In a couple of months they will be married and both seem very happy, working at making the children from both sides to be part of a family.  They all attend the same school but much to Miss M's relief the other 11 year old will be in a different class to her this year.  They have been in same class for the last two years.

I have not been well, stress I guess.  The arthritis has been nasty and I have torn ligaments which connect the pelvis to the hip.  This has meant that the left hip is basically unsupported and I am very insecure when walking.  I used a stick for a while, but physiotherapist insisted on a frame when she saw how my back was twisted to compensate for the lack of support.  I told my family they were not to laugh, but they have been very supportive.  Progress is slow but I do try to use it every day.  There is no real prognosis about recovery.  It may happen, may not, but won't be quick.

I was pushed heavily by an overseas student getting in the train when I was going to central coast.  He was desperate for a seat for a few minutes.  I felt something go then and the pain was terrible.  I then stumbled a few weeks late on steps in a house I had never visited before.  It was dark and the verandah light did not shine on the steps.  An old house, they were uneven and I could not see that. There was no rail to hang onto.

Knitting has been very spasmodic.  I do hope to remedy that with some sock classes on Craftsy from Lucy Neatby.

My son who lives here badgered me into visiting a local audiologist.  I knew I needed new hearing aids , but the place I went to for years was inaccessible.  In George Street in the city, all torn up to lay rails for light rail.    No buses down George Street at all.  Eventually I rang local place and discovered that what I thought would be difficult was actually super easy.  A government initiative which works.  I told them pension number, they were able to see my records of last eleven years.  They swapped account to them, and emailed the former place to tell them I could not physically get there.

The guy was wonderful, tested everything and I now have new aids, the best I have had yet.  The others were very uncomfortable, these are never felt except when I insert them in the morning.  I can hear properly and the tone is amazing.  I know there are constant advancements in technology but the difference is amazing.

More than enough written for a comeback.  I will leave you with a picture of the printer's shop newly set up downstairs in a long vacant commercial unit.  Somehow, I get the idea that I would not patronise this place.