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.