Wednesday, 18 June 2014

fraternal hats

All these three hats come from the same ball of Bendigo alpaca.  The difference in colours is due to the light.  I possibly have enough left on the ball to make another small sized hat, but am now knitting yellow for a bit of a change.  My son asked for some smaller hats to be made as well as those with around 80 stitches in a thicker yarn.  One little mite whom they knew at the hospital was diagnosed with leukaemia at three months old.  She didn't quite make her third birthday, although an early party was held for her.  The bottom hat is a downsized version of Odessa which I originally downloaded way back in 2003.  I've made several of this pattern over the years, easy, attractive, quick.  I've even done one with beads but don't think they are suitable for a chemo hat for a sensitive scalp.  The top hat is slightly flatter across the decreases than the second.

Miss M starts the last of the intensive chemo in this original blast of treatment in a few days.  It will probably trigger another bout of diabetes.  Hopefully, that will go in a couple of months when this cycle ends.  She's pretty brave and pricks her fingers for blood sugar level tests every couple of hours.  Not up to doing the injections herself and I hope it disappears before she is old enough for that.  Chickenpox is still doing the rounds at her school, so she has not been attending there.  Her resistance is very low to pretty well anything, and even a cold is a major illness for her.

I don't mind making hats in different sizes.  It's a bit of variety in the knitting.  Heads come in different shapes and sizes and what fits one, won't fit another.  The current knit has eighty stitches and blocks of alternating purl and plan stitches.  I'd like  to do some lace patterns and think they would probably be OK.  Son is not so sure, as the chemo makes the skin very sensitive to sunlight and the scalp can burn easily, even in winter.

It's finally turning to winter.  The nights are getting decidedly chilly and the other morning it was only 4° C here, which is cold for close to the sea in Sydney.  I have seen it colder but not often.  Today is beautiful, very sunny although the morning was cold.  We've had some needed rain as well.

Last week I bought a large rug online for a very reasonable price.  It is to go in the lounge room and is 2.5 by 3.3 metres.  It will cover quite a bit of my plain grey carpet which was the original installation.  Today is Wednesday.  Last Friday I had an email from the courier company that it would be her yesterday.  No rug, no email, no phone call, no message.  Not happy Jan.  That is quite a few days to arrange the delivery and the courier firm had it in their possession on the Friday.  I will give it till later this afternoon before I make a call.  I hate chasing stuff up.  This company is not the one run by Auspost which has a very bad reputation, but  is not much above it.

I am a grammar and spelling pedant.  I make typos, but try to find them, but spelling mistakes are another thing altogether.  It seems that there is very little proofreading done these days.  I guess many of the sub-editors on the Sydney Morning Herald have been pensioned off or just sacked.  The grammar and spelling there gets worse, almost every week.

My son sent this picture from his local Central Coast train station which is being upgraded.  There are many notices around, most warning of danger of glass, equipment etc.  The Transport Minister is known here as Our Glad.  She is fussy about such things as train guards wearing trousers and not shorts.  She does not like knobbly knees.  Trains running on time or cancellations do not seem to be as important to her.  However, any way one looks at this photo, something is wrong.  No proofing apparently.  I am surprised that "maintenance" has been done correctly.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

hats for the hydra or... four heads are better than one

I have been working on chemo hats for the Children's Oncology wards at Westmead.  Three wards, each with baskets for donations.  My son can drop them off in the afternoon even if Miss M is not an inpatient, as he works nearby.  Hats are always needed, they treat many hundreds of children with cancer a year.  Miss M was  reluctant to try my hats at first as she had tried the donations and many were knitted with yarn which felt scratchy to her.  She wasn't keen on the acrylic either.  However, she knows I use good yarn and is happy to wear what I made for her.  She's also happy that any I donate are made  from good quality yarn too.

They are a great way of using up stash yarn.  Heaven knows I could knit hundreds and not need to buy yarn.  I find that knitting a variety of hats makes them less boring.  So there are stripes, ribs, some lace, different styles.

The yellow and grey are made from Bendigo five ply and are quite soft.  The yellow is a beret style with a picot edge.  The grey is the pattern Coronet which is free on Ravelry, although my pattern was downloaded well before Ravelry in 2003.  It's originally for 8 ply but using 5 ply downsized it automatically for me.  I'm going to make Odessa for the next hat.  Again, it's an old pattern to me and I have made quite a few.  No beads though, I don't want a tender scalp to be irritated by them.

The other two  are made from Quince and Co in Owl or Owl Tweet.  That's an Aran weight.  I cast on eighty stitches, knit till it looked around the  right length and decreased.

There is one more hat with a pink strip around the edge from the Powderpuff Suzyhausfrau Aran.  However, I can't find a photo of that.  It was dark green with  a narrow strip near the border which used up the very last of the oink from the Acadian shawl.

This photo of the Acadian shawl was taken a couple of days ago when it was straight off the needles and as yet unblocked.  There was a break in the grey light outside, so I took advantage of that.  The pattern is free on Ravelry, easy to do.  The yarn is lovely to work with, soft and pleasant through the fingers.  It's also very warm.

The wrap is still unblocked.  The weather has been damp.  when it wan't damp, it was wet.  The yarn is thick and I didn't want it hanging around for days to dry.  It will be snug and cosy now that winter seems to be finally arriving.

As always, clicking on the image will enlarge it.

I said that I was going to try for two hats a week.  This is four hats over three weeks.  Arthritic fingers and other joints didn't help.  However, I can't let it bother me if I don't keep up.  My knitting is not meant to produce anxiety for not keeping to the standards I originally set.  Any hat is another little head kept warm and is better than no hat at all.  Knitting is a means of relaxation and meditation for me and it isn't that if I worry about keeping up.

I have been using my swift a lot lately.  I love it and it has made winding yarn ever so much easier.  I used to use one end of the rectangular table on the balcony to hold the yarn but this is so much quicker and I now have a different table.  The ball winder is great, but it slips a bit on my glass table.  I think I will try a bit of non-slip rubber on the top as well as the base of the clamp.

Miss M seems to be well and is certainly enjoying three weeks without being admitted as an inpatient.  Next week sees the start of the last few weeks of the intensive chemo which started on New Year's Day with the diagnosis.  That is another  eight weeks.  If all goes well, there will be clinic administered maintenance doses and regular testing after that for a very long time.  Some years.  If she becomes sick with any infections, she has to be taken straight to hospital for monitoring as an inpatient, as the body has little to fight infections.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


I have been making steady progress on the Acadian shawl.  It will block to perhaps more than a wrap but not really a shawl.  I have done 13/23 repeats of the diamond edging, so am over halfway to the finish.  I have only three more repeats before I start the decreasing in the body of the knitting.

The Aran weight yarn is lovely to knit, soft on the fingers and I am enjoying the pink which is not a colour I would normally choose for myself.  I am wondering just what I am going to block this on.  The picture shows less than half of the knitting and it will be bigger when blocked.  Now if my spare bed were available it would be good.  However, son now sleeps in that room, so I can hardly take over his bed with a wet piece of knitting.

I just realised he'll be away from Friday morning till late Monday of this coming long weekend.  If I get a move on and finish the knitting, I may be able to use his bed to oread out the knitting on a blanket.

It's finally beginning to cool down.  Still too warm in the middle of the day but the nights are getting colder.  It was 6° here yesterday morning around 7:30.  The colder night gave me a wonderful sleep, eight hours without stirring.  I haven't slept as well as that for a very long time.  It was lovely to wake and see how long I had slept without waking even once. A little bit warmer this morning but still chilly and beautifully sunny.  The sun fills most of my lounge room early theses days as it's low enough in the winter sky to come straight in under my balcony roof.  Very pleasant it has been too, to have my second  cup of coffee in the sunshine.

It's a bit weak looking here but it's not long up and there was some fog outside.  While it's been a bit nippy, I haven't had the heater on much at all this year yet, perhaps just twice in the evening.  Gas costs have risen enormously, so if I cam make do without the heater, then I will.  I've been fine with an extra layer on at night but won't hesitate to turn it on if needed.

Waste not, want not, take two.  I darned a pair of socks a few weeks ago and went to wear them again today.  They are old, absolutely nothing fancy but I have always liked them  They are made from Lionbrand Magic Stripes yarn which came from an online shop in Melbourne at least twelve years ago if not more.  As I said, nothing fancy at all.  It's called sport weight.

There was another hole in them,  Nothing surprising, you say, considering their age. Perhaps not but this hole was in a strange place and I think that somehow I must have pulled a thread.  It was in the middle of the top of the instep, right before the cuff of the leg.

So I sat down just after breakfast in the sun which was just coming in then.  What a virtuous feeling darning produces!

I pulled out my cowrie shell which was always used for darning.  I think there was a larger one, but this size works too.  I know people who used an old light bulb or even an orange to slip into the sock to stretch out the hole for easy darning.

My grandmother taught me to darn, very many years ago.  I am very much out of practice but want to wear these socks as long as possible.  I remember when Woolworths and Coles as variety stores selling hanks of  multi-coloured strands of darning wool.  There were hanks in grey tones, brown tones and blue tones.  That's a long time ago too, well before the advent of nylon socks or other mixes of yarn,

I split some very dark grey yarn into its plies. The aim was to match the thickness of the thread  to the thickness of darning  yarn as well as possible.  This makes a smooth, non-lumpy darn. I was not worried about the colour and had nothing to actually match the sock.  After all, who will see it apart from myself?

I ran a thread of small running stitches in a  square right around the hole.  Just into the solid knitting.  This stabilises the material and forms a good base for the darn.

I then criss-crossed the hole with yarn from one side of the square to the other, catching in any stray actual stitches possible.  Threads should lie as closely as possible together.  Picture shows this in progress.  My grandmother  could place threads so closely together that they looked like solid material.  I was never able to get them as close together as she considered necessary.

When the hole has been filled, turn the sock around 90 degrees.  Work the needle under and over the base of threads which now lie at right angles to your work.  extend the dar into the solid part of the sock and again, place the threads as closely together as possible.  Keep an even tension and don't pull tightly on the yarn as this will cause uncomfortable lumps int the dar, which will irritate the foot.

Weave in the ends and voilĂ  your sock has been mended.  As I said, it gives a virtuous feeling of making something useful again.  After all, the socks took a lot of time and effort to make.  Why not mend if possible?