Wednesday, 3 December 2008
I'm Lucky. Lucky because I have a job, a home, a loving husband, an adorable son and all the material things which make life more than comfortable. I'm saying this for two reasons - firstly, because it's true, and secondly because I am engaging in a concerted period of positive thinking.
The reason for this is deeply personal, and if I explain it, then I will also account for my absence over the last month. 3 weeks ago I had a miscarriage, my third in 6 months - all of them lost in the earliest stages (5-6 weeks) along with the hope that they had brought. I had some time off work, I stayed at home and lost myself in domestic life - baking, knitting, shopping, tidying. It was a brief interlude in a hectic work schedule and I am glad that I listened to my husband and my GP who told me to stop and take some time.
For someone who researches for a living, it's tempting at these times to read and digest all that the internet, message boards, cranky organisations and the medical establishment has to say about recurrent miscarriage and its causes. Last night, it struck me that I should tackle this in the way that I - and many other women - tackled the prospect and reality of labour, by thinking positively about it. Hypno birthing and the words of Ina May Gaskin prove (to me at least) that physiological processes are affected by psychological ones, and that it's possible to use this to your advantage. When I was labouring with the bean, I used the mantra 'I trust my body' to reinforce a belief that I could birth my baby gently, at home in the way that I wanted. It worked well - my son was born under water into my hands, 20 hours after SROM, and I managed the entire labour without drugs, just TENS and water for pain relief. It was amazing, and I found the birth a very empowering event.
Coming back to the present, my mantra is still 'I trust my body' but I'm adding other thoughts too: 'I'm lucky' is another. I want to DO something to increase the chances that there wont be any more miscarriages, and this seems a good way to go. We're booked into the local hospital for tests in the New Year, but I'm hoping we won't need them.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
These are knit with an unknown yarn that I inherited from my grandmother. It's soft and light and has a slight sheen. I knit the first one as instructed, fastening the base with a 3 needle bind off. For the second bag, I decided that I preferred a seamless look and used good old Kitchener to close the base.
With those out of the way (filed in the gift stash) I started ferreting for another project (completely ignoring the current WIPs..). With various small birthdays coming up (one aged 3, 2 aged 2) I thought I would get started on a stripey tank from the Rowan Family book. It's proving to be a quick and addictive knit (I've finished the back, and I'm up to the armholes & neck shaping on the front). It's made much easier by knitting flat using DPNs - this means I can manage the one row stripes without having to cut the yarn. I'm already planning to knit another one or two of these - they look so good...
Finally, huge CONGRATULATIONS to friends Helen & Stephen who recently welcomed a new daughter to the family. Baby Iona was born at home in a pool - the same pool that her older brother Digby was born in, and the same pool that our little bean was born in! Welcome little one - cant wait to meet you!
Edited to add:
Congratulations also to Gayle - a near neighbour - who had a little girl on Sunday last. Her son Jack is a day younger than the bean and we shared many coffees and chats about baby things in the early months. We bumped into her on Saturday: she was ready to pop and slightly trepidatious about the prospect (Jack was a breech baby and born by c/s) but with a head down baby this time, she was all set for a normal delivery. Go girl.
Friday, 10 October 2008
While we were there I stopped in at bedecked - which not only has scrumptious buttons, but also has Rowan, Colinette and other delicious yarns. I fondled quite a few things, but nothing asked to be carried away home. Just across the way on the other side of Back Fold, I stopped in at another shop - a cooperative of weavers, spinners and knitters, which has many wonderful things inside. Some handpainted sock yarn - an alpaca merino mix - looked rather good, was well priced and just had to come home with me.
Its from Jenny Cook in Gladestry, and feels lovely. I couldnt wait to wind the skeins. I'm itching to cast on for some new socks, but I must finish Other Things. humph.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
I bought 4 balls - two plain, two variegated. A couple of weeks ago, I cast on with the variegated yarn to make myself some (more) socks. As usual, I kept things short in the leg and kept my fingers crossed as I made the second sock. Bingo. It worked. A pair of socks in less than 50g.
To make things even better, I asked my mum to try the first sock on when I was visiting the other week. It fit, so rather than put the completed pair in my sock drawer, I've put them in the gift stash ready for you know what. Christmas.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
One of the things that distracted me at that point in August were mittens. I managed to borrow a copy of Zoe Mellors 'big book of kids knits' from the library and set to work making as many pairs of mittens as I could from a large ball of lilac yarn that I bought in a charity shop. It ran to 4 pairs. Here are 3. Cute eh?
I also started knitting the bobble cardigan (but without the bobbles) from the same book for the bean. This is also charity shop yarn - and is knitting up fine (although I did have to change needle size to get gauge). But it does make me sneeze and give me itchy eyes, so I've come to a bit of a stand still. I cant decide whether to skein the unknit yarn and wash it before carrying on, or just carry on....
Friday, 1 August 2008
Friday, 25 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
And here are the 2 baby beanies I mentioned last time, now safely filed in the gift stash.
Whatever our failings in the gardening department, our raspberries are a huge success. Day after day we pick the ripe red jewels, thanking heaven that something is growing and ripening in this confusion of a summer.... the bean has developed quite a taste for fresh raspberry, and now hangs about at the top of the lawn hoping that someone will pick some for him. At not quite 18 months he hasnt quite got the requisite skill or discernment required for picking rasps himself - but he knows how to eat them.
Last week we were running out of freezer space, so 2kg of berries were 'preserved' in the traditional way: as raspberry jam. Yum.
Shhhh......Can you hear it? There's a jam sandwich calling me. Better go.
Friday, 18 July 2008
Recently I've found a few corners of the blogiverse that share in this need to take action. Wardrobe Refashion and Sew Green are just two that keep cropping up. Perhaps I should take the wardrobe refashion pledge? I'm not far off it really - I havent bought any new clothes for about a year, although I have been given some new things for birthdays & christmas (thanks mum!) . But I have bought plenty of charity shop things, and I turned a ripped pair of my jeans into a cool pair of toddler trousers for the bean. I've also been making a conscious effort to wear a greater variety of the clothes that I own already.
Last week I had to go to London for work, and travelled on the train (>4 hours in each direction, and I went down and back in one day!). On the way down I worked and on the way back I knitted. I managed to finish one baby beanie and get most of the way through another (brim to start of crown shaping). As the stash of baby hats was almost gone, I thought I would use up a few odds and ends of yarn. I'll post the pattern sometime...
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Finally, today is my 3rd wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary my love.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Monday, 19 May 2008
For all their plainness I managed to make the whole process rather complicated. Knowing that I had a finite amount of yarn I used a provisional cast on and then knit 10 rounds before making the heel flap. On the first sock I knittted the toe using a solid red yarn from my stash. It looked awful and after knitting the second sock down to the toe I realised I would have enough yarn to frog the offending toe and reknit in the original rainbow yarn. So I did. At that point I still had some rainbow yarn left - along with a very small quantity of cherry red yarn that matched rather well colourwise. I divided the yarn into two equal portions and knit up from the leg in a rib pattern to make quite a short sock. I'm not wild about the red tops and have considered reknitting in a grumperina stripe, but they'll do for now...
Here you can see just how much sock I managed to squeeze out of one skein of rainbow yarn. Not bad eh?
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
I did some knitting (FO to come) but not much, being content to relax in our lovely cottage and enjoy the views.
Inside: Lapin felt very at home
Outside: Ireland's highest mountains - Macgillycuddy's Reeks
WIP. I started this while I was there - it just seemed right to be knitting something lush and green (yarn from the Yarnyard). I'm still working on the first sock - not because it's difficult, but because the light and dry evenings we've had since we came back mean that I try to get on with gardening rather than knitting AND I've been on a bit of sewing bee too....I'll tell you about it sometime.
Monday, 14 April 2008
I've also been busy in a frenzy of baby knitting. So frenzied that I sent two items without taking any photographs. One was a pair of 'tranquil' bootees from the Rowan babies book, sent to Australia to celebrate the birth of Charlotte. Congratulations to mum and dad, Angela and Damien. The other item was a small hat destined for baby Elizabeth, born on Good Friday, to Susan and Simon. Mum Susan deserves an extra special congratulatory mention for managing to avoid a c-section by persuading her midwives to let her have one last push. Well done you.
Inspired by the smallness and quickness of those items, I motored on with a couple more baby hats for my gift stash. We know of at least 3 more babies due this year to friends (and countless others to work colleagues and friends of friends). Another hat is on the needles.
This is just a made up baby beanie pattern, which can be knit flat or in the round. The stripey version was made following grumperina's instructions for stripey socks, and worked fabulously as a means of using up some oddments from my stash of baby 4 ply. I started with three colours - green, white and very pale green (it's very, very pale). Just as I got to the shaping for the top, the very pale green ran out, which is why the stripes change here.
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
I've been reflecting on Jonathan Porritt's words since then. What does a low-carbon economy look like? What can I do in my personal and professional life to help bring it about? Can I shift my life to a low carbon existence?
Leaving aside my professional contribution, I am thinking about the other choices I make. Knitting and crafting can fit well into a low-carbon life, as they offer the opportunity to make bespoke garments (more likely to be used, looked after and given a long-life), to mend and repair existing garments/items; to recycle and reuse yarn and fabric. There are some other choices to be made for a low-carbon world - using natural rather than synthetic fibres (wool, cotton and other animal/vegetable fibres are intrinsically low carbon compared to synthetic yarns which originate from petrochemical sources); local and organic yarns where available (local just to reduce yarn miles and organic because this system does not rely on petrochemical inputs such as inorganic fertilisers and pesticides). Oh yes, and using up the stash. I think there is a lot to be said for that - making do with what we already have. I'm sure there are other things too.
What would you add?
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
It's a lovely pattern, although the finishing is a bit of a faff, because the neck trim is knitted separately and has to be sewn onto the neckline... (and you have to cast on 300 stitches to start it).
No mods worth mentioning. I used 2 balls of RYC cashsoft 4ply and not much to spare. It's a lovely yarn for babies because it's seriously soft and can be machine washed. As a mum myself, I know that handwash stuff is fine in theory, but really, why make things harder than they need to be when there's yarn like this available? I hope baby Bella approves. I knitted the second size rather than the first, because Bella was a well rounded 8lb 8oz when born and to she'll probably be thinking about wearing outfits (rather than just babygros) when she's big enough to wear this. [Edited to add: I hear that Bella slipped into her new cardigan on the day that it arrived! The girl obviously has a highly developed sense of style...]
I'm very pleased with the way things turned out because these were odd balls of yarn. Together they looked slightly different in colour - but knitted up you really can't tell them apart. (Dont worry I took the necessary precautions).
What's the weather like where you are? The UK is being bashed by gales at the moment - as we're on the East side it's not too bad, but in Scotland this windy weather seems to have been going on for months. When it's sunny it's good for drying the washing, but you do have to use LOTS of pegs! Today the sun is alternating with lashing rain, beating a drum on the window of the study where I'm sitting. Outside, I can see the trees in the street, whipping their bare branches in a frenzied jig.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
The front is flowery.
The back is stripey.
It's designed to be easy to put on (wide sleeves, stretchy neck, soft rolled cuffs and collar). Previous versions have proved popular with new mums (I even made one for the bean - and put it on him often. It went to the frog pond tho' but that's another story).
There seem to be babies everywhere at the moment. Another has arrived amongst our circle of friends: Isabella Rose born Weds Feb 27th at home in a birth pool after an efficient 3 hour labour. Huge congratulations to Rachel, Gavin and big brother Thomas! I am especially pleased because Rachel was influenced by the homebirth experience I had with the bean (see here for his birth story) and she did it herself with some style. 3 hours?! Way to go girl!
Anyway, not wanting to waste a minute, I parcelled up some super cute booties which I knit in 2006 and cast on the Dolly cardigan from Jaeger Handknits book JB29. It's sooooo pretty, and almost finished, so another FO is about to be born.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
I bought this:
oh, and some yarn. Yes, I know I know I was supposed to be on a yarn diet... well rules is made to be broken, and it's not every week that your localest yarn shop closes down!
the stash was enhanced by a moderate 7 balls of miscellaneous 4 ply mostly destined to become baby sweaters and tanks. I think almost half of the people we know are expecting babies this year, and the other half had babies last year, so there is great capacity for baby knitting.
I'm making progress with Kirsty's tunic top. As predicted there are stripes...
and the main colour is blue. It's very pale blue, and I've knitted some petals to go on the front to make it girly. Both lots of yarn came from charity shops and are 4 ply of unknown (synthetic) origin. The multi-coloured yarn was 25p and has thus far yielded at least one baby hat and stripes for another tunic top. It cant go on much longer!
As usual I've dispensed with as much sewing as possible with this project. The shoulder seams were done with a 3 needle cast off, and I have just picked up the stiches for the arms and am knitting down to the cuff. I've just got to finish the second sleeve (almost at the cuff now) and then can steam, seam and finish.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
I like them a lot. I can see sock knitting becoming a theme this year. On Friday I took the socks to work and knitted through my lunch break (whilst reading The Ecologist. If you're going to multi-task it might as well be worthwhile). For the first time I appreciated the smallness of sock dpns and the fact that I could slip them into my bag without having to make room or risk skewering myself on stray needle tips.
Today I finished the Bob tank I have been knitting for the bean. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't got round to sewing up and finishing off. I'm not wild about it - the neck gapes slightly and it looks as though I forgot to use the correct needles for the neck and arm bands. I dont think I did, but you know what it's like when you've got a sock thing going on - other knitting is just a distraction while you think about socks, socks, socks.... Hmmmm, do I seem obsessed to you?
As soon as I finished with the tank top I cast on for a new baby sweater. It's for little Kirsty who arrived in the world on Burn's Night - welcome to you! (And congratulations to mum and dad, Fiona & Jason). I'm making a new variation on my tried and tested baby tunic which I have knit several (million) times and always seems to go down well. I did make one for the bean, but the yarn I used for neck, cuffs and stripes felted in the wash and - in the end - made it impossible to get said garment over the bean's head. I frogged the usable yarn and will reincarnate this into something else in due course. Kirsty's will probably feature some stripes too (I love stripey things). Watch this space.
Sunday, 13 January 2008
They are a bit slouchy, but I guess that's one of the wonderful things about sock knitting - you can custom fit. I'm already planning some modifications with the next pair. However, given the rules for knitting in 2008, this could be some way off. After finishing the peg bag the other day, I did allow myself to cast on a small project for the bean (Bob tank top from Rowan babies). I'm knitting it plain as I have some cream coloured cotton yarn in my stash, and 2008 knitting rules mean No New Yarn.
I'm not one of those knitters that can only have one thing on the go - I need some choice! So, I'm trying to limit myself, and the Bob tank plus amendments to my husband's Celt (Rowan magazine no.??) are the current contenders. I'm just making the arms of the Celt a bit longer - he said it was perfect and then asked for longer sleeves. I've done one already, but the charcoal yarn is hard to work with in the evenings, so I need afternoon light to get the other sleeve started. I have got two other WIPs: both cardigans for me, and despite being 90% finished with one of these projects I have decided to frog it and start again with a different pattern. This will be the second time I have frogged this particular yarn... perhaps that's something I need to think about.
Talking of the yarn diet. I did sooooooooooooooo well the other day - I am both proud and sad that I managed to resist. Hanks and hanks of Noro, half price.... it did take me about 10 minutes to decide not to buy it. I am still torn. (sigh).
Monday, 7 January 2008
Perhaps this is an appropriate moment to show you 2008 first FO: the christmas socks.
It's fair to say that I would never ever have chosen this yarn for myself (ye-es), but as I was yearning for some sock knitting, it did the job. Clearly this is an 'in production' photo, but I havent yet managed to remember to photograph the real things and thought this might do in the meantime...
Friday, 4 January 2008
I've suddenly realised that I'm tired of accumulating stuff and I want some time off from consumption and shopping. That means no new clothes, new shoes or new yarn (really). My stash is full - in fact it's overflowing, and it will do my head (and my marriage) good to use some of it! I like the feeling I get when things are in order; when I can put things away without having to cram them into their designated spaces; and when the house starts to look vaguely tidy.
I've also resolved to finish off current projects before starting new ones.
This is going well so far. Last night I finished knitting the peg bag that I 'gave' to my mother for christmas. Well I wrapped up two pegs and told her that a peg bag would follow. My excuse for this tardiness is that I was ill at a crucial point before christmas and lost a whole evening of knitting, and then my mother distracted me from the task by giving me some sock yarn and a sock pattern for Christmas. Obviously I had to cast on and get going with these - and then finish them off - before I could get back to the peg bag. I know, I know - but that was last year and this year It Will be Different. Here are some pics. I particularly like the way the fabric follows the curve of the hanger...
My final resolution of 2008 is to sort out my finances. They arent exactly in a state - I earn more than I spend, and I know roughly how much money is in my account at any one time. It's just that I've accumulated some of those policies and insurances that might or might not do the same thing, and I really should decide if I need them all....