Friday, 31 December 2010

that was the year that was

So it's 1746 on December 31, 2010.  Just over six hours till 2011. I sit here wondering just quite what to wrote.

I've seen some great collages of finished works.  I've done more than I thought, much of it lace, but haven't made a collection to show today.  I'm pleased with the lace I've done, quite a few shawls and  some patterns like Brandywine and Brangian have been done several times.  I've given away quite a bit including one Brangian to a friend in Christchurch who was badly rattled by the earthquake.  Quite severe aftershocks are still being felt there. She described it as a wonderful hug.  Other things have gone to another friend in Mallacoota.  It's been very cold there and she came from Queensland so felt it acutely.  grandchildren and family have received gifts.  I gave a Travelling Woman small shawl in cashmere and merino to a doctor friend from Aberdeen, Scotland who was visiting here for several weeks.  She emailed me saying how lovely and warm it was.  She returned home to the big freeze in Scotland  and was snowed in for quite a while.  A shock to the system from being here.  I've found giving stuff away even more than I normally do has been a real help to me.

I'm now enjoying knitting lace and feel lost without something on the go in lace.  That's a big change from a couple of years ago when lace and laceweight yarn scared me.

Knitting however has been an adjunct to the year's activities.  Like some others I known in the online knitting world, this year has been somewhat less than stellar for me.  I pulled myself together enough to initiate proper divorce proceedings.  That took quite a while and a lot of personal angst.  I knew it had to be done but signing the papers was difficult.

The day the divorce order was made was the day I learned that my sister's breast cancer was back.  First diagnosed in 1997, January, it has returned four times.  She's also had  a total reconstruction and a reduction in the other breast to match.   So there was more surgery then.  However a spot was found on her lung, possibly a secondary cancer.  She came home from hospital on Christmas Eve after a very harrowing operation to remove that spot.  She thought she was prepared but the pain was far worse than she could imagine.  She has an 8" scar under her shoulderblade on the back and several broken ribs as well.  She's still on morphine.

The house I'd lived in for over thirty years was sold  at the end of October.  I went to one of the inspections and was utterly horrified at the place.  Stuff everywhere and the bathroom was sickeningly dirty.  The agent said the house had been worse when he saw it the first time.  My ex-husband seems to have remarried very shortly after the divorce was finalised.  Not even his sons were told.  I'm past it.  It actually really doesn't bother me.  Good luck to her.

Mum's lovely home at Dural was put on the market not long before Christmas.  It's not sold yet, but it was an emotional blow to me.

So the New Year starts soon, very soon.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm looking for a place to  buy but can stay here till I find the right place.  It's time to move on.  Fresh start, fresh things to buy just for me.  I have adequate linen and bedding and some kitchen things and a good dinner service.  Lounge suite, refrigerator, washer, dining table, mundane stuff like brooms and mops.  All will be new.  It's exciting to think about and will be better when I do it.

I've learnt a lot about myself from all this although I won't subject you to having to read my discoveries and am confident I will cope just fine.  I have experienced tremendous support.  Many knitters and other cyber friends have become friends in real life and those who can't be that because of distance have been amazingly supportive.  Emails, gifts, encouragement by the bucket load have come my way. Thank you.  I have greatly appreciated every gesture, no matter what it was.

My family have been invaluable.  I could not detail how much support my sons, the girls and my grandchildren have been.  Each has made a different contribution - housing, advice,support, hugs and gifts from the littlies, my eldest grandson, eleven, soothed and comforted me after unexpectedly meeting my husband at the house during an inspection.  DILs who refused to let me go to meetings and court by myself and more.  Husband should not have been there but away for that time.  Grandson was very comforting, a role an eleven year old really should not have had to play. I have a friend whom I've known since the mid-1980s and he's stepped in too.  A strong shoulder to cry on, words of kindness and wisdom, he's a chaplain.  We've been to movies and lunches  and it seems he rings just when I need someone my age to speak to.

So I'm looking forward to the year ahead.  One son at Christmas gave me good wineglasses and champagne flutes for a toast.  Another gave me some really good cast iron pots etc in bright red, very cheerful.  So I'm ready for a toast.  In just seventeen days my bank account will be credited with more money than I've ever had access to in my life.  I'll have important decisions to make but will get there.  I've proved that by this year.

So lift your glasses filled with your drink of choice and here's to the new year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

celtic hearts shawl

Finished and unpinned after blocking, one Celtic Hearts shawl.  This was the second attempt at this pattern.  The first was ripped out when I lost my way after leaving it for a while.  That was to have been done in Bendigo Melody.  This is their rustic in a colour called Damson.

I don't quite remember just how I messed up the last attempt.  It's not a difficult pattern at all and  the diagonal lines give a sure way of seeing where I am up to in any row.   This is just a shade over 300 gm of the Rustic, knit on 5.5 mm needles and I could probably have used 6 mm. I cast off using a crochet hook and did one chain in between each lot of stitches.  There was no way I was going to undo well over 300 stitches if I decided it was a bit tight.

It was hard to photograph as it is very grey today.  The city skyline taken from our third floor balcony outside son's office shows heavy cloud.  There's a cool breeze too.  I know it's Christmas Day tomorrow, but I quite like summer so far.  It's not typical, but every cooler day brings us one more day towards autumn and I did not cope well last year with our many days over 40° C.  Perhaps a little bit more sunshine would be pleasant but I don't care how long it takes to get over 30°.

My son's ankle injury as detailed in previous post below is really quite nasty.  He's seen the orthopaedic surgeon and has a definite date  for surgery of January 20.  He had hoped to get in on a cancellation yesterday but that was not to be.  He says the pain of surgery about equals the current pain and at least it would mean things were on the mend.  There are lots of small bone chips which have to be removed.  One ligament seems to be shredded along its length but it's still in one piece.  Another two ligaments have been totally pulled off their anchorage points on the bone and have quite possibly also lost some of their length.  The surgeon is considering just how to fix this.

He's having physio on his leg to loosen it up so surgeon can work on the ankle.  Most of the time he sits with his leg up in a bandage for support.  If he  has to move around, he puts on a large plastic boot which has inflatable bladders inside.  These blow up to immobilise the ankle as he moves and also put pressure on the swelling which is still big.  A new pair of elbow crutches is considerably more stable than the hospital crutches he first had.  These were adjusted almost to their limit as he is very tall.  They were very wobbly and looked unsafe.  Lots of bruising too.  It goes from under his toes to well up his leg and will be there for some time. It's very deep.

I wish you all a happy Christmas and a great new year.  I'm thinking of going to the midnight service at the Anglican church just up the road.  However, I may need to get DIL to pick me up afterwards.  It's only a few minutes walk but after midnight in Enmore does not sound inviting.  The footpaths are quite rough in some spots and one person with an ankle injury is more than enough in the house.

I'm looking forward to the new year and a much better one than last year.  In one sense last year was good in that it saw the finalising of several matters.  The process, however, was horrible.  I'm looking around and hope to pick up somewhere to buy soon.  House settlement is the middle of January.

Friday, 17 December 2010

trips - not the holiday kind

Quiet around here, I notice.

I spent some time printing out sock recipes patterns for the Super Sock Club 2011.  I've matched them up to the yarn I chose and have packaged each item in bags and packed them away.

DIL and I have been busy with my son.  She's been ferrying him around and waiting in doctors' rooms etc.  Last Monday afternoon, there was a call from the government department where he works at Liverpool.  He had fallen on the stairs and wrecked his ankle and was in Liverpool emergency department.  She headed off to collect him.

Now he's always been an accident looking for a place to happen, but has been really quite sedate for about the last fifteen years.  Five years ago he had an ankle reconstructed to repair damage done as a teenager which was catching up  on him and a bad fall which tore a ligament.  He found that exceedingly painful.  X-rays taken at the hospital weren't conclusive and more detailed ones hadn't been developed.

He had gone downstairs to see some of the operations department guys and has no idea what happened.  The stairs he used don't have much traffic on them and he had to use his phone to get help.  Apparently, the security records from the log of when the door was used and the time the office received his call, suggest he many have been unconscious for a short time.  It's hard to see here, but a larger photo shows they are concrete fire escape type stairs, narrow and awkward.

An ambulance was called as he was in extreme pain and couldn't move.  The photo shows a paramedic cutting off his sock after removing his good riding boot.  That needed a dose of morphine for them to accomplish. Then more morphine to cut off the sock.  Two more doses of morphine to remove him from the stairs, you can see another flight to the right.  More to put him on a chair and carry him to the stretcher which could not be brought nearer.  And some more at the hospital later.  I'd show you the picture of him on the ambulance stretcher about to be put in the vehicle, but you can see his face and I don't think he'd like that.  Not even when he wasn't in the state the photo shows. He's quite obviously totally plastered, off his face with all the morphine.  Click on photo to enlarge.

He went to his own doctor the next day and she ordered an MRI.  Two ligaments have been completely ripped off the bone, there are bone chips floating around.  In other words, an ankle reconstruction is needed on this foot too.  He managed to get in to the orthopaedic guy who did the last.  He was brilliant but that won't be till Tuesday.

He found a newish invention for such things.  A massive boot with velcro straps.  Inside it's lined with four inflatable bladders which are pumped up.  Much like an airbed.  It's supporting the ankle, giving him relief,  and exerting slight pressure on the swelling.  As that goes down, more air is pumped in.  He bought new elbow crutches and returned the unstable hospital ones which were adjusted to about their limit to accommodate his height.  So it;s been fun and games around here with three flights of stairs in this house,  Or perhaps not fun and games.

I'm about two thirds of the way through a Celtic Hearts shawl which will hopefully be finished at the weekend.  Am using some Bendigo wool I had.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

nativity scenes

I brought out the set  today which I purchased a couple of weeks ago.  None of the photos taken are really good.  The shelf they are standing on is part of the divider between our kitchen and the lounge area.  Dining room is behind me at the other end of the kitchen.

The problem is that I'm short.  There are three steps down to the lounge.  If I stood on them I was not high enough.  Standing next to preparation bench was not right either.  The barbed wire in the background is part of a  spur on an enormous concrete boot DIL bought at Arts preview night at the Royal Easter Show some years ago.

The figures in this scene are clothed in rich dark colours which is what drew my attention in the first place.  I love the curve of the figures as well.  Something a little bit different to many I could have bought.

I'm glad I bought them.  To me, many of the nativity scenes are sickly sweet.  Some are just plain dreadful, cheap and nasty.  I doubt if the kings saw the baby at this stage.  He would have been a toddler when they arrived, most likely and the number, three is supposed purely because of the number of gifts.

Still, tradition has its place and I intend enjoying my purchase.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

unexpected FO!

Sometimes tidying up can have unexpectedly good results.  I had a bonus when cleaning up just the yarn in my room yesterday.  An almost FO.

Some years ago, before I became interested in lace, I started a Comfort Shawl.  It was done in some Optrim purchased from Virginia Farm Works at a Spinners and Weavers Open Day.

I was soon bored stiff with the thing and if it hadn't been for the idea of the shawl, I would not have continued.  I introduced some pale blue/grey mohair, bought at the same place, to break the boredom.  It didn't, so I pulled the needles out and left undoing it till some other time.

Today I opened a bag and found the shawl.  After several years it still bored me.  Then I had another look. While the original shawl was much larger than this, it could be used as a shoulder shawl or even as a scarf.  I looked at the stitches.  All bar about three of them had stayed put and not unravelled at all.  Those three were at the end of a row and were easily fixed.  So I took it downstairs, picked up over two hundred stitches and cast off.  Forty five minutes was all it took to finish the thing and it's now added to present basket.  

As I look at the photo, I see that I would prefer shorter gaps between picot edges.  This is a gap of ten stitches, because that was what worked well with the number of stitches on the needle.  I think perhaps seven or eight would be better.  It's very soft and will be pleasantly squishy around the neck in winter.

Friday, 10 December 2010

super special six pattern sock club 2011

Here's the link (Rav) for the super special, six pattern sock club for 2011.

Members are voting on six patterns each and we will all be knitting the same sock  at the same time.  Socks are to be knit from stash.  There's quite a variety of patterns, although I think the main patterns have been chosen.  There are a few outs allowed and as was said, who's going to police it anyway?  Some have chosen to be associate members as they are not sure of time commitment and some have chosen to allow a wildcard on a pattern or yarn.

I was surprised that I had lots of choice.  I used sock yarn from my room only, nothing actually packed away and there was lots more than this.  All accumulated in the one year we have been here.  It's a year next week.

As you can see , there's lots from Ailsa at Knitabulous.  The gree is Emerald Isle also hers.  Some from Needlefood no longer available and one from Wired for Fibre.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Socks that Rock finished

One more pair finished and ready for next winter.  This is the Moody Autumn Rainbow from Socks that Rock.  I bought this yarn from Lynne S at Yarnivorous in a small destash she had.  It was called medium weight.

These were knit on 2.75 mm rosewood needles.  The knitting is very even and I think they look great.  While they've taken me  a while to finish, the actual knitting time was fairly short.  I just had other things to do at the time.  I've even forgotten just when I started them.  56 stitches is ample for me in this weight.  The legs are quite long, not kneehighs , but longer than I often make.  They should be warm next winter, wherever I am then.

I've given up looking for a while at houses and units.  I am hoping for a bit of a downturn after Christmas in the market.  Lots of money with not much to show for it.  I'm very tempted to move to the Blue Mountains which I love.  I can get a decent house with established garden, near transport, for the price of a single bedroom unit in Sydney.  My sons love it up there too, butI have to recognise they would not be able to visit as often as I would like.  Not only that but the market is very slow.  Some places there have been on sale for months and months.  Well priced, pleasant position, apparently good condition.  If I had to sell, it could take  a while. I have an appointment next week to see a financial adviser from Centrelink.  I've not used this service before, but I know several who have and have been pleased with the advice given.

Sometimes I envy Sweetpea.  She's been like this on one corner of my bed all morning.  Such activity made her hungry and she did come downstairs to demand lunch.  Her colour shows well, but the cover on my bed is a navy blue.  She came back upstairs after she had eaten and is now sleeping off her meal!

Friday, 3 December 2010

nativity scenes

Here's something different today.  After all who wants to look at another 2 cm on a sock.

Not only did  I buy myself a nativity tableau the other week, but I've been searching for biscuit cutters which could be purchased in Australia to save exorbitant US postage and poor delivery times from them.

I found these at Koorong, after following quite a few results from a Google search.  Koorong has branches in many Australian cities which are listed in the sidebar of the page.  These are under GIFTS in catalogue.  I think the postage rate was quoted as $3 for Australia.

If you are interested, I would suggest placing a phone order.  Their ordering system is sort of OK but their registration etc is totally frustrating.  I actually have an account there which is used perhaps once annually.  I put in my email address to log in, but it wouldn't accept my password.  It suggested  going to a page to retrieve password which sent me back to the original page.  Round and round.  So I decided to create a new account with a different email address.  All it would say was that my mail address suggested I already had an account.  Did I want to retrieve password?  And the vicious circle started again.  I tried to change password but it told me nothing matched.  Aaargh!

I was describing the mess to DIL who offered to buy what I wanted as she was going that afternoon to Ikea which in Sydney is near the main branch of Koorong.  My problem was solved, but the system is poor.  I gave her the money and she bought it in person for me.

The detail on the cutters is not well defined, but I suppose it's hard to put too much fine detail on something used as a pattern for biscuit dough.  There are twelve shapes to chose from including the star and the heart.  There's also a biscuit recipe on the container but I think I'll use my own.  There are shapes for  an angel, manger, baby, donkey, camel, Mary, Joseph, shepherd, king, star, heart and lamb.

You can see it mentions a devotional booklet.  I wouldn't call it that at all, so if that bothers you, don't worry about it.  It's a small piece of folded paper listing the characters and animals and giving a Bible verse for each.  Nothing more really.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

kouyou shawl done

It was a dark and stormy night.  The rain fell heavily.  Wait, let's start again.  It was only 8:15 in the morning but was very dark.  If I had taken this picture as a video, the drops falling and bouncing on the table would have been obvious.  All should be green here with the amount of rain over the last few weeks but my son has plans for landscaping the whole area and some of it has been sprayed with a weedkiller in preparation for that.

I see a cooler summer than usual has been forecast.  I won't be sorry to avoid the 40+° temperatures we've occasionally had over the last couple of years.  However, while fires may not be bad this year with lots of dampness, next year may not be good with the growth from this year providing fuel for a bushfire.  

Silly little Sweetpea was shut outside yesterday when it was fine and stayed out when it started to rain.  She was sopping wet when DIL remembered and let her in.  What was annoying was that she could have been under shelter in the little airlock system we have.  She could have come in the open back door and sat by her feed bowl, well out of the rain, if not in the actual house.  Neither she nor DIL was very happy about things.  When I opened the door this morning, she took one look out and ran up the stairs.  She'll just have to use her tray if needed.

So here's the finished Kouyou shawl.  It's done on 5 mm needles with Bendigo 8 ply Classic in Maize. I bought two of their big balls and almost got away with one.  The last five rows of the shawl came from the second ball.  It was an easy knit, but I needed to concentrate to keep my stitch count right.  I didn't use markers between repeats as there were times when there were decreases at the end of the repeat and markers needed shifting each time.  Instead, I counted.  Accurately most of the time.  I would count on the back row to make sure count was correct.  That way I was warned if I needed to check progress and perhaps pick up a yarnover if I'd left one out.

The pattern uses four types of decreases and I also watched that I used the right one.  There were knit 2 together, slip one knit one, pass the slipped stitch over.  Also used was slip one, knit 2 together and psso and the final was slip2 as if to knit together, knit 1 and pass the two slipped stitches over.  The correct one to use at any time was fairly obvious.  These different  decreases are what give the pattern the texture and direction which attracted me to it in the beginning.

The picot edges were made by casting on several stitches using the backwards loop method and then casting those stitches off.  This is not my favourite method but as it was suggested, I went with it.  You can see from the photo that some of the picots are a bit sloppy with a loose edge from the cast on.  I was reading the latest  Yarn magazine this morning at breakfast and there is an article on various edgings in it.  A similar method is  used  as a picot edge, but the article suggests the cable cast on.  That is what I would have preferred but I went with the directions.  I'll use that method next time.

It's just become darker.  Heavier rain on teh way I think.  I'm supposed to be going out shortly but may not go.  Today's forecast is for "Rain, heavy at times and thunderstorms."  A good day to be inside.