Sadness and creativity

Oh dear, nearly three months since my last post!!  I hope you are all still out there…….

It’s been eventful.  Firstly I still have a bad back/hip/leg.  I put it like that because I really don’t know which bit it is that is causing the problem.  I am still waiting for a physio appointment on the NHS(!).  I am so thankful to the NHS for so many things but really, 4 months until I see a physio for something that really should be gone by then.  I was originally told it was sciatica, and it would clear up in about 6 weeks. Humph!  I went to a private physio at first but no relief.  Then an osteopath, no relief, and am now seeing a chiropractor.  A bit of relief but only because I am still on the pain killers.  I tried to cut them down a bit recently but the pain worsened so I went back on them again.  It’s very frustrating, all from a simple action of holding a small child!!

Anyway, let’s get the rest of the doom and gloom out of the way.  My laptop died, but that was easily solved by buying a new one.  A lovely MacBook Air.

Then sadly we had to make the horrible decision to say goodbye to our beautiful girl, Susie, our golden labrador who we had from the rescue 6 years ago.  She just suddenly went off her food which is not like any labrador but especially not her – she used to inhale her food and it never touched the sides.  Following test it turned out she had metastasised tumours on her heart, spleen and the whole of her liver.  There was nothing they could do for her so we had to let her go.  It was only three weeks ago and we are still heartbroken.  I had a meltdown yesterday when I saw a dog the spitting image of her on the way home from work.  It just brought back so many memories.


Well, moving on…………

I have become multicraftual!  Just before Christmas I decided to make Christmas cards.  However then the back went and I only managed to make a few for the closest friends and family.  I have been making since then though, but it does mean accumulating more stuff (more news on that later……).  I bought myself a Sizzix die cutting machine and have been playing about with that.  I’m not realising anywhere near it’s potential but I’m having a go.  Here are some of the cards I have made recently……

On the knitting front I haven’t really made much, my fingers are quite stiff at the moment and the middle finger of my left hand keeps clicking and getting stuck.  But I did make a little Tubby Tabby for my friend Mel for her birthday

IMG_2188I’m currently trying to get a pair of socks out of the way so I can move onto a larger project.  I’d really like to start one of the projects from Kate Davies’ book Yokes.  The Epistrophy, but I’m going to have to face my knitting nemesis to do that, the dreaded STEEKING!!!  Yikes! not Yokes!

I have offered my very limited sewing skills to a friend whose daughter will be going to a school prom in Jume.  She is happy for me to attempt to make a prom dress!!  (I have warned them to have a back up plan!)  So far I have made a mock up of the skirt portion using an old bed sheet and it seemed to fit ok.  I am using Burda Kids pattern 9499.  In the meantime I practised my skills on a cute bunny.  I’m really pleased with it and am going to make another in some more flowery fabric.


I mentioned accumulating more “stuff”.  Well the decluttering went quite well but things are spilling out again, especially craft stuff, so Colin decided that he would move his office stuff out of the small 3rd bedroom and we’d make it into a craft room for me!!  Yay!!!  It’s currently in the being emptied stage so I can’t really get an idea of what it will be like but it’s going to be so nice to have everything in one place rather than in corners of the living room and kitchen extension.  I’ll get a large-ish sewing table so the machine can stay out and lots of storage for fabric, yarn and card making supplies.  I am a bit excited.  And hopefully there will be room under the table for a four legged friend if one should happen to come along!



………… at this flipping pain!!  And it is getting in the way of my crafting!!!

I am taking about 15 minutes to get out of bed and hobble around until the pain has gone down enough to get dressed. Mornings are the worst time because the painkillers have worn off over night, and I have been inactive for at least 8 hours.  Once I am up and about though it is fine as long as I stay up and about.  If I sit for any length of time I stiffen up again.  I have managed to get back to work which has been ok because I am on my feet and nothing is too heavy to lift in a yarn shop!

But I had plans for making things for gifts on my days off.  Knitting and sewing gifts.  But I can’t sit down to do them, it’s very frustrating.  I could have had several things made by now, but so far have managed about 20% of a knitted gift for a friend who’s birthday was 2 days ago.  I did devise a way of knitting and walking, by hanging a project bag off my arm with my yarn in, but this current project uses 3 colours at once so it all gets a bit mixed up in the bag.  Sigh….

I do have a finished project to show though.  I managed to finish my Rivulet shawl and get it blocked.  I love it, it is really soft and warm in the Mirasol Sulka Legato and the fringing is fab.

Rivulet shawlKnitted on 3.75mm circs, it is very lightweight so doesn’t feel all bunched up around the neck.  You start knitting at the point and increase to 261 stitches by the end so it isn’t too many (not that you think that while the rows are getting longer and longer!), and the pattern is very easy to memorise.

Pattern: Rivulet from Road Trip by TinCanKnits

Yarn: Mirasol Sulka Legato shade 13 – approx 80g

Needles: 3.75mm 80cm KnitPro Harmony interchangeable circulars


Pain – it’s not big or clever!

It is in fact EXCRUCIATING!!!!  A few years ago I had an ear infection and it was, at the time, the worst pain I have ever had in my entire life.  That was NOTHING compared to the last few days.  I did a very innocuous thing of putting a friend’s baby on my hip 10 days ago.  I must have stuck my hip out and twisted at the same time, but thought nothing of it.  Over the next couple of days I started to get pain in the hip and shooting down the back of my leg.  I saw the GP and got some painkillers, carried on as the pain got worse.  Early Friday morning we had to call the on call GP as I was screaming and crying in pain at 3am.  They didn’t come out but told me to take more painkillers and ring my GP in the morning.  I did that but by mid afternoon I started to be sick so had to get to the GP quick who then sent me to hospital because I couldn’t even keep water (let alone painkillers down).

The diagnosis is sciatica, and there is no time frame of how long it is going to last.  I can walk about, in fact that keeps it moving and loose, but as soon as I stop and sit down, or god forbid go to bed, the pain just builds, and it is the most excruciating pain to get up again.  I spent Friday night in hospital getting IV fluids and painkillers and was sent home Saturday afternoon after proving I could keep food down.

So I am currently spending all day standing up!!  Not the easiest thing when the pills are making me drowsy and I want to sleep.  I have done a little bit of walking-knitting!

On Thursday I had started the process of dyeing some yarn.  It finally got completed yesterday after sitting in the dyepot for two days while I was incapacitated in the Countess of Chester.  It was originally Debbie Bliss undyed Rialto DK and I dyed it with madder chips.  I would have liked it darker, but am still really pleased with the variegated result.  I love the fact that with natural dyes you really don’t quite know what you are going to get.

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There are 6 x 100g skeins there, all from the same dyepot but all slightly different, so 1200 metres total.  I originally wanted to make Sirdar 7187 with it but I might reconsider and make a Lush cardigan instead.  I think I need to swatch a bit first.

When I am feeling better I am going to start taking Pilates classes to strengthen my back and core muscles.

Take care of your back everyone, cos when it goes wrong you really know about it!!!


Dyeing to meet you…..

I am really enjoying the dyeing.  I only do it on a Friday as I have a whole day to myself, however I had been a bit scuppered by the fact that a stockpot I ordered two weeks ago still hadn’t arrived!  It has now arrived but is at Colin’s office.

So today I just decided to do one skein, which is now drying outside.  In the meantime here are last week’s results……..


l-r: Logwood, madder, ivy leaves

The logwood started out as a purple grey but I dunked it in some bicarb and it changed to navy.  I love chemistry!!  My favourite has to be the madder.  I’d really like to dye enough to make Sirdar 7187.  We have a sample garment in the shop and I wore it the other day when I was a bit chilly.  It is supposed to be made in Sirdar Wool Rich Aran but I think the Debbie Bliss Rialto DK would be okay as the Sirdar is quite a thin aran.  The ivy leaves were a little disappointing but apparently I need to leave it in a lot longer to get a decent colour (I was too impatient!).

I am actually using the Wool Rich Aran for a baby jumper for my friend.  I’m using this colour…….DSCN2407

as apparently his eyes are changing to a green brown now.  I have nearly finished it, just a few edgings and some seaming to do and then I am going to cast on the Rivulet shawl by Tin Can Knits from the book Road Trip.  I’ll be using this……….


which is oooooooooohhhhhhhhh soooooo soft!!!  Mirasol Sulka Legato.

Tomorrow I will be interviewing Jeni from Fyberspates for the Baarmygirls podcast.  She is launching her new yarn, Cumulus, at Stash Fine Yarns from 11-4.  Andy from Chester Wool will be there too with his undyed yarns – eek!. Hopefully Jane will be there to record with me.  So if you are in the area, come along.  It’s quite informal so you can come any time you like.  Maybe see you there.

Onions can be quite interesting!

I decided to give the natural dyeing a go!  Two of my lovely knitty friends, Su and Annie, have done it before – in fact Annie used to teach workshops on it – so they offered to come round last Friday and help me get to grips with it.  In the meantime I had to collect some things, namely onion skins, elderberries and ivy.  I think the chap in Morrisons thought I as a bit strange when I asked if I could just have the skins and not the onions!

Last Sunday Colin and I took the dog and went for a stroll along the local cycle path and finally managed to find an elderberry tree with berries still on it.  There was ivy everywhere so I collected some nice dark leaves.

Friday came and the girls arrived, and we got to it.  Pots, pans, mordants, soaking, boiling, straining and rinsing resulted in these lovelies……



The three pinky reds are from Brazilwood chips.  Unfortunately you can get these anymore because the tree is endangered but Su brought me some of hers to try.  The two on the left went in together and the third one went into the pot after the other two came out so is paler.  These are all 25g mini skeins by the way.

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In another pot we did the onion skins.  The one on the left stayed in about an hour, the midle one about half an hour.  Neither of these two skeins were mordanted.  The one on the right was mordanted and put in the pot after the other two came out and then left overnight.  What a difference the mordant has made.


And finally, the elderberry!  It was hard to show the colour accurately on this as it is a grey purple.  I love it.  This is a full 100g skien of 4ply so I think maybe I’ll make this with it.

We didn’t use the ivy in the end so I’ll try that by myself.  I had great fun and have now ordered a stockpot, some more undyed yarn and various natural dyestuffs from George Weil.  The natural dyeing process is much longer and more involved than just dunking in Dylon, but if the other colours are as lovely as those I’ve already done I’m happy.    Can’t wait to have another go!!

…. and again!

I thought I would try a different yarn and a different colour for a bit of dyeing last Thursday.  I had a skein of 100g of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK from work, and some blue dye in two different shades.  This was the result……


I really love the lighter blue, and I think this test skein will end up as another pair of Annie’s Runrig Muffatees. It will be interesting to see how it stripes in these side to side mitts.

Talking of mitts, I used the two colour Ranco I dyed in purple and red/pink to knit up a simple 52 st fingerless mitt.  I had hoped it would strip regularly but the result came out much better than I expected.  The two colours have sort of cancelled each other out so neither is too bright but the overall effect is a lovely colour……..




We are having a little competition over on The Baarmygirls Podcast.  Last week at knit group we all made hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles for The Big Knit, a campaign they run each year to raise money for AgeUK.  We had all kinds of shapes and sizes.  You can see my dodgy pineapple below.  We won’t be sending them off unit the end of November so thought we would ask listeners to knit hats and send them to us and we would send them all off together.  Then we thought we’d set a challenge.  Whoever sends the most hats will get a prize, and also whoever sends the most unusual hat.  So if you want to join in have a listen to episode 8.5 for all the details (it’s only 5 mins long) and get knitting.  You don’t have to knit them all yourself, get a group together, get the kids involved, make it FUN!!!