Monday, 31 May 2010

Belated Review (sewing for pleasure)

Bit late for proper review, I know, but in March my good friend Ann, her daughter and group of friends and I decided to have a day out at the Sewing For Pleasure Show. We used to go to each one but lately combination of unwellness and decline in show appeal plus expense of it all we've been giving it a miss.
This year, however, Ann telephoned and announced we were to have a grand day out! hurrah!
We thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it to be very good value as there appeared to be three sections to it this year - the addition of "embroidery" which was very inspirational and welcome too.

I didn't buy much this year, mostly bits and pieces; some labels and charms to sew onto handknits and a couple of pins to make brooches.
Very little in the way of wool, Black Sheep were there with their usual mountain of bargain bags of yarn - they had balls of Noro yarn slightly reduced and I picked up a sock yarn and rather wish I'd picked a couple more! (having found, since, some patterns for accessories using this that look rather yummy!).
Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn. Col S92 Lot E - price? can't remember!

Brighter Weather, Day Trip Out

The weather brightened yesterday afternoon and we decided to go out to a local country park for a walk. Probably a mistake, I returned home feeling considerably tired and with an onset of my AF which lasted all evening and night too. The leaflet is misleading; it suggests that one might care to refrain from vigorous actitivity for a couple of weeks but then - hurrah! one is back to "normal" as though nothing has happened! This is absolutely NOT my experience!

On a brighter note, the weather was gloriously sunny and the family as co-operative as a bunch of males can be when "forced" to enjoy a day out when there is FOOTBALL on the tv ..

No.1.son is rather better at accepting his fate and getting on with it ..

No.2.son - isn't ..

Things brightened considerably after I announced that perhaps it was a bit too much and over ambitious to expect a weekend of day trips out - tomorrow (today) we shall STAY IN!
As its a Bank Holiday Monday dh is home and normally I would drag everyone OUT to take advantage of this, as it is I shall rest and do some knitting! (and they can watch football - assuming there is any to watch!).

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Bank Holiday Weather

Typically the weather is dismal! for the Bank Holiday Weekend the forecast is generally poor and certainly today its dull and raining! If the weather does brighten up, we plan another outing to use our new membership for English Heritage and hope for a picnic somewhere nice!

Earlier this year a new lady joined our weekly Craft Group and shared with us her delightful handmade books and duly offered to make us each a "kit" and teach us how to make them for ourselves!
Above and below are photo's of the sample book that I made on this day!
I'm extremely impressed with it! and thrilled at the result too and was keen to share with my cyber-sew-pals; it seems this is very popular too and I'm looking to expand my interest further!

I have three more books on the go, and have looked for something to use for stiffening the covers and found a product that looks promising! All I'm waiting now is for inspiration to strike for finishing them!

"Finishing" along with "Starting" is proving to be the hard part for me at the moment and I am resolved to putting a little more effort into this process as I fear if I don't I shall lose my craft incentive and as a lot of who am I is wrapped up in my previous passion for craft (and sewing in particular!) I feel I shall have an identity crisis!
Losing my job has not helped! Both in terms of the craft input and the relationships with both fellow crafty colleages and crafty customers and its now as I approach one year on that I am realising the true impact of losing my job! It was more to me than "just my job"; I feel its time to admit I'm sad about it going, mourn my loss but time, too, to move on!

This week is half term, no.1.son is half way through his A Level exams and has just 3 more weeks before breaking for the summer. He is expressing some interest in finding some voluntary work - possibly with animals - and I've promised to help him look for opportunities. He also wishes to take up driving lessons! After some consideration we have agreed that he can start lessons after his exams.
I'm not sure I'm ready for my "children" to grow up and move on toward full adult independance but I know its inevitable and I'm trying to prepare myself to be a supportive and encouraging Mum in this respect (very difficult when basically I want them to remain "children" for just a while longer!! but its not easy, is it? when I asked my son yesterday would he like "jelly and ice cream" for pudding his face lit up like a 5yr old!! - he's rising-15yrs!).

Friday, 28 May 2010

English Heritage (we joined!)

Last month we joined English Heritage and have enjoyed 3 or 4 lovely days out and plan some more this summer. In particular in the Northumbria region as we've booked a week in a cottage during the summer.

Luckily our lads are still of an age where they'll come out with us and we can enjoy a few family days out.
With half term and a bank holiday this week, we plan to make another trip - weather permitting!

Scarf and Socks

Picked up some Rowan Colourscape yarn and knitted a scarf from my book when an opportunity came for me to purchase it with 25% discount. The scarf is super! the yarn is seriously YUMMY and one ball did me just enough to satisfy while keeping within sensible budget!
I've worn this scarf practically all winter!

When I read on Ravelry that Lidl were selling cut price sock yarn and selling out FAST I got down to my local store and found that either no one was rushing HERE or no one knits socks here! I was able to pick up squillions of balls of assorted sock yarn/colours - sadly I discovered the following day that the yarn is not guaranteed machine washable without a bit of felting!!
oh well!

Worth a chance, though, on knitting a pair to see for myself the results! So far the socks are knitting up nicely and you can see from pic below that I'm on the foot section fast approaching the shaping for toe! AND that I have TWO socks on ONE circular!
hurrah! yes! another technique mastered! and ticked off the list of things I simply NEED to learn!!
For some time now I have wanted to explore different methods of knitting socks and have been impressed with the 2 x socks x 2 circs and then the WHIZZINESS and excitement of knitting ML on one circ, I simply HAD to master two on one!!
It took me ages to "get" it! particularly the cast on bit - inspired by an article in a copy of Yarn Forward that seemed to indicate on one page of photo tutorial is EASY-PEASY-LEMON-SQUEEZY I set to and spent a whole DAY thrashing about and generally threatening to stab anyone who approached and ripped off countless attempts before finally through excellent tutorial on the web WORKED OUT HOW TO START OFF!

The starting point - the cast on is a nightmare! but once you've passed that bit, and have your socks ON the needle, the rest, I guarantee IS indeed a doddle! and well worth the initial stress for the satisfaction OF a pair of socks safely on one needle!

Mitts, Gloves, and Fairisle

Earlier this year I attended a super Fairisle class tutored by the fabulous Sarah Hazell who always manages to both enthuse, inspire AND encourage to pick up needles and try something out! The added value with Sarah is that she always puts just that bit extra into her classes and I learned this time, how to crochet an edge and bead too! easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! hurrah! I need to do this more!!

Using the scrummy Rowan Felted Tweed our workshop included a bundle of assorted colours and I managed to make a few pairs in the weeks after using this selection to give me a whole winter's worth of handwarmers!!
A simple pattern designed to work in the flat a mixture of techniques necessary to work Fairisle we added beads and learned how to cast on in contrast colour and looked at picking up around the thumb to complete. All in all a lovely day and one that inspired me to purchase yarn and look to knit a project!

The pattern was a general one size fits all and proved to be a little large for my hands, but I found it a useful addition during colder weeks to overlay them on gloves - my hands were warm and toasty all winter!

I continued to pick up an interest in glove knitting and when the opportunity came up to purchase half price Rowan Scottish Tweed 4 ply, I bought a whole batch of yarns of assorted colours and loaded some books from the library on glove knitting and Fairisle and had resolved to knitting something colourful, challenging and pretty spectacular!
In the end, however, I settled for a pair of plain gloves!
The colour is actually a sort of blue! the light is poor! and the shot unclear!
I've mislaid the link to the pattern - pretty sure it came from Knitty but it features a different way to knit and sew up across the palm (or crochet). At the time I tried both but found I prefered the seam sewn.
Sadly I had to return the library books but would consider buying at least one of them and shall definitely look to explore further the glove knitting.
I have a pattern in The Knitter bookmarked for when I'm feeling brave!!

But its a proper Fairisle project I want to get my teeth into!
I have purchased the yarn as recommended and in the featured shades, too, from Rowan magazine 46 and have cast on for Portree and hope to have enough for Baxter Mitts too!

With that in mind I've also had another go Continental knitting! as doing it two handed is definitely the way to knit!!

Hurrah! I'm back! and what better way - cake!

I can't think of a NICER way of announcing am BACK! than with a couple of pics of yummy CAKE and FRUIT PIE! yayyy!! (and very yummy they both were too!)

Victoria Sponge with raspberry jam and cream on the occasion of no.1.son's 17th birthday March '10 and Fruit Pie baked in School both made by no.2.son who continues his interest in cookery and has taken it up as a GCSE option even!

Family news first: no.1.son is halfway through taking his A-Levels and doing very well at his 6th form college and beginning to look at Uni to progress his interest in Politics.
(slightly screechy moment of hysteria when I completely misunderstood and thought he was looking to become the next PM and I'd picked out the front room at Number Ten for a sewing room and resolved to change a few things namely to include yarn & knitting lessons on the Nhs by prescription for freee!). Its not, apparently, to do with any of that and I can, he said, get OUT of my head any thoughts in that direction. Oh well. friends. I tried! I really did!

No.2.son is halfway through his GCSE course and is looking set to achieve some good results if his teacher's are to be believed and this year's Progress Report is pleasingly positive with excellent marks and fab personal comments. In a few weeks time he will undertake 2 weeks of work experience and has arranged to work at each of his former infant and primary Schools and is looking forward to this. I was proud to get a telephone call from the infant school to say THEY were particularly looking forward to meeting up with him after this time as they remembered him particularly well. Afterwards, I feared, rather, that they'd MUDDLED him with his BROTHER! oh well. Lets hope they forget the kicking-teacher's-legs in the playground incident ..

DH has managed - touching wood and crossing fingers - so FAR to avoid dreaded threat of redundancy! Recently they have lost a large element of their work and indeed one of his longest standing colleagues of some 30+yrs service has been made redundant which is causing a few uncertainties.
This week he was called twice into a meeting with HR and other senior Manager and had to be helped back by the Secretary on account of grey pallour and faintness.
Apparently he is to be given a bonus and a pay rise!
I needn't, he said, get too excited and muttered about sorting me out a "fiver" ..
Oh well. Better though than notice of redundancy.

Understandably he is nervous about the future as I continue to be home and not yet seeking work due to ongoing health issues.

My final update is the matter of my health: My frozen shoulder which set off the whole chain of events - seemingly - continues to bother me from time to time but is considerably improved and I feel its reached the point at which I have to now accept that this is IT! I have a new Physiotherapist, a woman, at a local Hospital who is a lovely lady and worth the trek of getting to the appointment for the sympathetic approach coupled with some practical and no nonsense advice on COPING with pain and symptoms and MANAGING my pain and feelings.
DISTRACTION! seems to be the important thing! and LITTLE AND OFTEN too.
(and some PT exercises which I have to say DO work when followed correctly and consistently - the key to managing frozen shoulder I've found is to accept it will hurt for a long time and for a lot of time, and to get on with it as best one can).

My digestive problems are progressing and in the next two weeks I'm off for my "final test" of Oesophageal Manometry and 24hr PH Monitoring. Am assured by the Technician that neither will hurt! and am hopeful that it won't be yucky either!

My dizziness has proved not to be in my head! And has been flung into the lap of the Cardiologist by my Neurologist and isn't dizzy afterall - rather is faintness. In March this year I was booked in for an AF Ablation and am currently recovering from having had this procedure earlier in May. It seems that most of my problem are cardiac related and while I might be sat here thinking has all been rather a pointless and frustrating waste of time, at least I can't say I've not had a very full and extensive MOT - and all for free too! I've had exams at all ends and angles and some tests I'd rather not repeat and wouldn't recommend either! but I can't say they've not looked hard for something, for some explanation!
I am to continue with further testing on additional heart irregularities and might have a 2nd Ablation to be decided mid July.
In the MEANTIME am back on my meds - despite becoming sensitive to them and having unpleasant side effects, I have no choice at the moment and have halved my dose and switched to evening routine and am currently put onto Warfarin too which means lots of trips to the Hospital for blood tests.

Had I been a bit sharper I might have taken some pics of the rather spectacular bruises I've collected, but really that goes too far and dwells too much on stuff we'd rather not!
With that in mind, I've combined it all into this post as update and explanation as to why in part I've been largely absent from both blogging and crafting!

Its time! though! to move on! and in effort to get back to some sort of "normal" I've taken squillions of pics of stuff I've made or started this last year and yarn I've stashed! and will update both my Flickr and Ravelry accounts and hope to feel at least a bit more ORGANISED!

I intend to pick up my knitting and also to resume sewing! I am shocked to discover its two years since I last sewed with any real commitment and enthusiasm!
This has been the longest period and 2nd hardest only to that when I lost my parents, that has affected me personally and craft-wise and I really need to THANK with sincerity my friends - cyber and real life - that have largely put up with my screechiness and frustrations and accepted that I've been a rubbish pal for most of this time too! for all their support and encouragement and just for sharing this and being here for me.