Saturday, October 25, 2014

FO: Woodcutter's Socks (An Enchanted Knit)

 FL's Christmas socks are finished.
These are the Woodcutter's Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits, an Interweave magazine.
I used Dublin Dye Co Swing Sock yarn in the Stone Wall colourway.
My drystane dyke is not the same colour as they are in Dublin, clearly!
It is a beautiful pattern, with a double braided cable on the outside of each foot, and broken rib around the leg and down into the foot.
The yarn is a subtle blend of spiralling dyes - there are greys and pinks and mauves and browns in here, all in similar tones so they don't distract from the stitch pattern at all.
I just clicked through to the dyer's Etsy shop to create my link and ought to warn you about some highly tempting colourways to be found there.
OMG Library!
Not to mention Sea Shell...
 Ahem.  Sorry.
Of course, as soon as I finished those socks, instead of getting on with my Big Red Doily (aka the blanket I think I am going to have finished for Christmas hahahaha maybe not!), I cast on another pair.
On the face of it, these are a simple 2x2 rib in self-striping yarn (Online Supersocke 100 in Paradise Color 1437).
But I am using the Optio pattern, which has triangular heel shaping.
And as you can see, my copy of Felicity Ford's Knitsonik book arrived today.
How long do you give me before I start a new colourwork project?
Especially with all the autumnal inspiration on  my doorstep.
This afternoon I went out seed-collecting.
I was determined to harvest some of those mysterious poppies that popped up in the field this summer.
And while I was at it, I gathered some seed heads from the marigolds in my herb garden. I sent some of these to Christine last year, and their cousins are now growing strong in Glasgow :)
What shall I do now?
Some spinning?
I have had a go at spinning some Mixed Jacob fibre on my Turkish spindle, with mixed results.
It is pretty chunky!
Dreadlocks, anyone?
I think I will go back to my sock.
And brew a pot of Bella Granata Pomegranate Fruit Tisane from a recent tea-splurge.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

FO: Paros Hat from Knitscene Winter 2014

Welcome to today's edition of "You know it's autumn when Roo knits hats".
This was not supposed to happen.
I was meant to be concentrating on The Big Red Doily.
Instead I knitted a beehive.
Or a honey pot?
FL says it is a Thai temple.  Nah!

Being autumn, the sunshine and shadows played havoc with my attempts to take pictures in Nature.

So here is the traditional window-sill shot, which fails to capture the shape or the colour contrast of the pastel rainbow against the tweedy beige base yarn. But does a pretty good job on the texture of that spiralling stripe of purls.
Pattern:  Paros Hat by Robin Allen from Knitscene Winter 2014
Yarn:  50g of Berrocco Blackstone Tweed (65% wool, 25% superkid mohair, 10% angora) in colour 2602, with some Cyborg's Craftroom Bested base worsted in the Sidewalk Chalk colourway, leftover from my Ertebolle Hat (not yet blocked or blogged).
Needles:  3.75mm and 4mm dpns
Button:  Ceramic rainbow, a gift from my friend Christine.  Thank you again!

 Have you seen my spiral?
There is no subtle way to photograph this!
I cast on yesterday.
I was supposed to be looking out the Blackstone Tweed from the stash to make this same pattern with a stripe of my first-ever handspun.  But the handspun is still drying after its twist-setting bath, so when I came across the remains of this Sidewalk Chalk.... zoom zoom!
I really enjoyed knitting this:  quick, easy, satisfying.
The stripes propelled me onwards until there seemed no point in stopping.
My only mistake was at the beginning, when I tried to twist the main and contrast yarns together at the beginning / end of each row.
This looked quite unsightly on the right side... hence the rainbow button feature!
Crikey - it looks even worse than I remembered!
I must have had my eyes shut!
But I am really pleased with the finished hat:  stash-busting of the very best kind!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Onwards and Upwards

Sunday afternoon.
Waves washing onto a sunny beach
I am feeling guilty that I have not given a hospital update from Tuesday, because I know how hard it is to get any frontline information on Pomalidomide.  I will put that right at the end of this post, so you can choose what you want to read about.

It is Socktober, and I have had a Waiting Room day and a work-related ScotRail day in the past week - loads of time to knit socks!
Inge sock by Rachel Coopey
I finished my first Woodcutter's sock and my first Inge sock - both patterns are by Rachel Coopey, Coop Knits.
Woodcutter's sock by Rachel Coopey
My evening knitting time has been devoted to the Big Red Doily (it's a blanket really).
Unfortunately, I made a mistake 3 rows back that has disrupted the lace.  Oh poo.  That's an evening's work wasted, and another couple of hours to sort it out.

So I cast on a Brickless shawl, using the lovely baby llama yarn I bought on holiday in Aberfeldy.
Brickless by Martina Behm in Mirasol Miski yarn
I do so love avoiding my problems :)

Yesterday I spun up the last of my sample of Glam Rock merino / nylon from Fondant Fibre on my Turkish spindle.
I need to ply it, and then I hope to use it for a contrast stripe in a simple hat.
Maybe the Paros Hat from the latest issue of Knitscene (Winter 2014).
Single ply Glam Rock
Hahahaha.... no.
I am just not in that place.
Natural Dye Studio yarn - my prize from the CoopKnits Summer of Socks KAL - yay!
Myeloma Update
FL saw the Consultant on Tuesday.  Her approach is always fairly brisk and to the point.
She said that his Freelite score is now 150.  She interprets that as being "steady". It was 145 the month before.
Now, I tend to view that as a slight rise, but I understand that if she reports two increases it will trigger the NHS to stop funding Pomalidomide.  I was feeling brave and asked her if there was a "magic number"?
It is not that simple.  If there is "evidence of progression of his myeloma" they will stop the Pomalidomide.  That evidence might not be his Freelite score (which is always a month behind anyway due to the delay in getting back the results), but could be evidence from an x ray or a report of pain beyond the scope of his existing painkiller prescription.
So... how is he?
He has pain in his ribs, which gets worse after his weekly dose of dexamethasone. Taking a deep breath is painful, coughing is to be avoided, and he cannot lie on his left side.
Walking is increasingly difficult:  he has a pronounced stoop and a limp that wasn't apparent 3 months ago. The limp is caused by a deadening of feeling in one foot, and "trouble" in one hip. He can still drive, but he admits this is becoming difficult.
All of these symptoms are consistent with his myeloma diagnosis.  He does not appear to have suffered any side-effects from the Pom to date.
The Consultant explained that they could x ray all of the above, and give him radiotherapy if there is evidence of new myeloma lesions.  However, this would also require them to stop the Pom...
Is the pain controllable?
Yes.  He only takes painkillers in extremis and he is not yet having to take them all the time.
So it was decided to continue with Pom for another month and take it from there.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Some of My Friends Glow in the Dark

A couple of people have asked if I could recommend some knitting podcasts.
First, let me point you to the incredibly helpful list of knitting audio and video podcasts here:
knitting podcast
There is something for everyone.
ONline supersocke neon 2 color:  the first 8 balls
I recommend you carry out a spot of speed-dating to find your ideal knit-mates.
If you are anything like me, you will quickly get a sense of whether or not these people could be your virtual knitting friends.  There are some very popular podders whose voices come through to me like nails on a blackboard and I just can't sit through an entire episode... so I don't, even though I know that they are the trend-setters that a dozen others will reference. 

Important note:  the podcast world can be very cliquey, just like school.  The difference is, you don't have to go back if you don't like it  :)

At the risk of sounding like Bridget Jones and her Helpful Introductions, here is an edited list of the podcasts I return to time after time:
Another ball of Supersocke Neon 2 Color - probably my favourite :)
Audio Podcasts

The Knitmore Girls have been going for 300 plus episodes, so have built up an impressive readership and sponsorship portfolio.  They are a formidable mother/daughter team who are particularly hot on spinning and frank reviews of books and fibre-related products.  You need to listen at least once so you understand who everyone else is talking about!

Stash and Burn have also been around for a long time, but episodes are less frequent.  The two presenters have an easy-going friendship which makes me happy.  The knitting content is almost incidental. 

Tapgurl Knits is Carmen, the tap-dancing knitter.  She comes across as warm and natural and fun.  If this was High School, I would ask to share her table at lunch, in the hope that we could be BFFs.  She does not pretend to be anything other than a Gal who likes knitting and dancing.  No self-promotion or sponsorship or any of that commercial stuff.   She interviews some really interesting people too.  Lovely.

A Playful Day is a UK-based podcast.  I know, right?   Greentrianglegirl has a very intelligent, professional approach.  She makes me feel nostalgic for London family life, and that's saying something!  A good mix of knitterly news and work / life balance, with gardening and journaling too.

FluffyFibers is an English language podcast from Isabel, who is French and lives in Languedoc.  Isabel sews too!  I love that she talks about sewing as well as knitting.  And sometimes she reads aloud from classic literature.
Latest Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club shipment in Sparklynne base
Video Podcasts

There seem to be a dozen new video podcasts every time I look.  It can be daunting sifting through them, and my home broadband can't cope with some file formats.  I have been known to spend 4 hours "buffering" a 20-minute episode only to hear those immortal words "I haven't done any knitting this week!" Noooo!
Useful tip:  You Tube seems to run faster than Blip or VideoPress, if you live at the wrong end of a rural cable.

The Knit Girllls are pretty much the pod-erati.  Everyone else talks about them.  Two ordinary women with jobs and lives, who love to knit and spin.  Essential viewing.

Yarnivore.  Ah, Sadie, Sadie!  She of the blue hair and awesome tattoos who says it like it is.  She knits too.  And dyes yarn.  But I never feel like she is only doing this to sell her stuff, unlike some others I won't bother to mention.

Stockinette Zombies.   Two pals who knit.  Megan is funny and smart and down to earth.  Amy is quieter and more interested in fashion.  With cats :)  They are very popular and you will soon see why.

There are others.  Loads of them.  But the above are a pretty good place to start.

Do you have a favourite to recommend?

PS  Yes, I bought more neon yarn - pretty isn't it? :)

EDITED TO ADD:  I bought the ONline yarn from Germany from Strickstudio-Knoller via ebay.  As I was buying from within the EU, there is no customs duty to pay and postage was very reasonable.  It worked out at around £6 a ball.  If you search "online sock" on ebay, you will find a single listing, then follow the links to look at the shop's full inventory.  They have some lovely stuff and their customer service is fantastic :)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

49 before 50: Learn to Spin

There is something magical about turning fibre into yarn.
I have watched others at their spinning wheels, wistfully, thinking it was somehow beyond me.
It ranked right up there next to learning to drive or to ride a bike.
Interesting that I have struggled to comprehend The Wheel in several formats!
Norwegian wool / bamboo mix
I finally passed my driving test (car) at the age of 41.
I still cannot ride a bicycle.
I tried spinning with a drop spindle and... dropped it.
My son was a better drop-spindler than me, and in his first encounter produced a length of usable yarn.
Mixed Jacob, lightly overdyed with blue and yellow
So I avoided putting "Learn to Spin" on my initial 49 before 50 list, because it felt like an unattainable goal.
But recently I have been seeing lots of podcasters using a Turkish Spindle and they made it look so easy. The process made sense - I could see where the yarn was coming from and how to wind it into a centre-pull ball as it appeared.  It was even possible to ply together two lengths of single-spun to make recognisable, functional knitting wool!
So I bought a Turkish Spindle (from Kerry Spindles in Bridlington, via Etsy)
And I bought some fibre (from Fondant Fibre, also in the UK).
And then I made this! :)
Oh I know it's a bit thick and lumpy and there isn't very much of it, but I MADE 2-ply YARN!
I used the sample fibre which I was sent with my Fondant Fibre order.  It is merino and nylon sparkle (in the colour Glam Rock if you fancy some from her shop).
I followed a video tutorial by Delusional Knitter to get myself started.
I am so excited!
If I can do this in one evening, with regular practice I should soon be able to knit my own handspun wool  - imagine that?!
Just don't let me start looking at spinning wheels... not yet, anyway!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FO: The Neon Mirrorball Cowl

Goodness me!  My last post clearly struck a chord with many of you - thank you so much for all those amazing comments :)
If you haven't gone back to see what other people have written, please do - there are some very wise / funny / honest words in there.  I would sum them up as:  be yourself, dress in all the colours of the rainbow, and sod the lot of 'em :)
Oh...OK then!
Is this bright enough for you?
I have not adjusted the colour of these photographs.
Apologies if I set off a migraine aura ;)
I'm not entirely sure how best to wear a cowl.
This one is 150cm by 16cm.
 It is lovely and warm folded over and worn double-crossed.

 Or just the right size to share with someone special :)

Sartorial issues aside, I love it as a textile.
It starts off with neon dots that transition across to indigo dots.
The overall effect is rather like the dazzle of a disco mirrorball.

 In fact, I think it has its own theme tune... something like the music at the start of the Revelations of a Delusional Knitter podcast (go and listen - seriously, I hear that music every time I look at this fabric!)

Pattern:  The Mirrored Linen Stitch Cowl by Joy McMillan (the Knitting Goddess herself)

Yarn:  100g of Lioness Arts MCN DK in the colour Picking Violets, set against 6-ply Regia Fluromania (that's the sportweight version) - I still have loads of the Regia left because it was a 150g ball.

Needles:  I used 5mm (smaller than called for) to compensate for the lighter-weight Regia.  I got gauge in terms of rows, but it came out bigger in terms of width around the circular needle, which translates to a longer loop of knitting.  I might try blocking it, as it is a little bit wibbley wobbley at the cast on edge.

Process:  A lot of knitting, but a whole lot of fun too!  I was fascinated to see what would happen next as the neon colours progressed.

Verdict?:  The loudest thing I have ever knitted.  It would be shocking worn against my orange coat.
Tempting, very tempting!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Approach to 50: the cold hard truth

I only have 10 rows to go on my neon cowl, but I have set it aside today to respond to recent media coverage of women of a certain age.

 Emma Thompson hit the headlines after the following was published in the Guardian:

Appropriate clothing for a woman over 50 (Fifty Plus Catalogue) - it came with The Guardian
I thought 50 was the new 35?
"Can I just say, very loudly, bollocks. If you look after yourself and you're healthy, then you'll have the energy to do things. But not to recognise getting older for what it is? I do think the infantilisation of our generation is one of the huge issues of our time. People wanting to be 35 when they're 50 makes me think: why? Why don't you be 50 and be good at that? And also embody the kinds of choices that are sustainable at that age."
Suitable furnishings for the Fifty Plus reader
In the same Guardian article, the interviewer observes:
She looks like a graduate student in a Greenpeace sweatshirt, torn jeans, owlish glasses and trainers, her face fresh without makeup – an observation that, after spending an hour with Thompson, one hesitates to make for fear of letting the side down. Still, she is an actor, and pulls another version of herself out of the hat when necessary,
I bet Emma Thompson would wear this outfit at 55 (Plumo)
Meanwhile... over at The Times this weekend, Shane Watson published an extraordinary piece on "How to Look Good Over 40:  The New Rules".  I was shocked to discover that Shane is a woman after reading this comment on over-40s in low-rise jeans:
"Don't care if the area between your tummy button and knicker line is exemplary. Don't want to see that womby outline."
Whooof!  There's a phrase I've never seen before and never want to see again!
Before I realised the truth about what I was reading, she had made me question my own clothing choices over the past 10 years when she wrote:
"40 is the age when women get a boost of positive body dysmorphia.  Get past 40 and you think:  I am hot for 40!  I am wasted in these regular clothes; I am going to get a bloody short skirt and a really filthy low-cut top right now.  This is fine.  Confidence is good.  But ask yourself, why have I not worn this stuff before?  Am I having a Forty Flush?"
Shane is the author of a book called:  "How to Meet a Man after 40"  I won't link to that.  Because everything I read about it suggests it is more of the same sort of girl-on-girl misogyny.
Wow!  That's what I call a womb-covering cardi - love it! (Plumo)
But when you (I) find your(my)self approaching 50, you (I) start to question the image you (I) present to the world.
My perfect armchair - when I am a grown-up I will buy one like this (Plumo)
The chin hair, the yellow teeth, the frizzy grey stragglers, the sagging jowls:  they are all real.  They are not fun things to find in the mirror in the morning.  
That 10-year window between 40 and 50? When it feels OK to wear purple velvet shorts or skinny jeans? That is to be treasured my friends, because one day soon, it won't feel right anymore.
It doesn't feel right anymore.  And I feel kinda lost.
Seasalt dress found on ebay.  Too short for the office?  I wore it anyway.