Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Busy pottering

I'm currently working my way through a list of gift knits and other makes and thankfully they are all pretty straightforward as I don't seem to be able to concentrate on anything particularly complicated at the moment. I have several jumpers that I'd like to knit for myself and hopefully will cast one on over Christmas. 

I finished a pair of socks knitted in Regia's Pair Perfect yarn for a friend's husband. I'd originally bought the yarn to knit a pair of socks for Mr JK but it feels good that someone else's feet are going to be kept cosy and warm. Much better to use the yarn than have it sitting in my stash. The second photo shows the socks being modeled by the recipient - he was delighted with them!

I also knitted a couple of pairs of socks for Sarah who is Sherlock Knits on Instagram. Sarah is a doctor in a Marie Curie hospice and she tries to make sure that each patient has a pair of socks for Christmas Day. I had a stray ball of the special Marie Curie yarn that West Yorkshire Spinners released several years ago now so was able to use that up. 

I sewed a collar bandana for one of the rheumatology nurses as her dog, Snoopy, had been very unwell. He still looks a bit mournful in the photo but she was very happy with it so I've made him a couple more - one especially for Christmas! I think he will look very dapper on Christmas Day!

Two of my rheumatology team asked if I could knit them some mittens. I found this convertible mitten pattern on Ravelry. It's a paid for pattern by Andrea Mowry and is called 'Tinsel Mitts'. It's very easy to follow and the pattern comes with a number of options as well as several sizes. I can see myself knitting more of these and definitely a pair for myself! I used Stylecraft Life DK yarn for these - an easy care yarn with some wool content for added warmth. It comes in a great range of colours too.

I've been lucky enough to win a couple of giveaways on Instagram recently and am thrilled with my prizes. The first one included two skeins of The Yarn Badger Double Rainbow sparkly striped sock yarn and two balls of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply yarn. I wasn't expecting anything else in the parcel, but Hannah very kindly also gave me one of her framed Granny Squares and a box of Lindor chocolates. Thank you so much Hannah. 

The second prize I received was from a new-to-me dyer, Wild Purl Yarns. I won a set of miniskeins is gorgeous autumnal colours and a set of woodland-themed stitchmarkers. The colours are absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to use them. Thank you so much Lauren.

Florence is being very clingy at the moment and wants to spend as much time as possible on my lap. She loves physical contact and will literally follow me from room to room until she gets some attention. (This photo was taken on one of the rare moments when she actually was in her furry donut!) She will actually put her paw out if I'm knitting to redirect my hand to her! Cheeky madam! Still, she does keep me warm when she's curled up on my lap. I'm being extremely frugal with the heating as I'm at home so much, I'd have the heating on pretty much all the time. So I've bought one of those oversized fleecy hoodies which is surprisingly cosy. Needless to say, Flo loves it and snuggles into it very happily.

I've got my next cycle of infusions coming up soon. This is how the last lot looked - no knitting possible unfortunately. I only have funding for my IVIg infusions until January and the doctors are arguing about my treatment. Initially I had funding for 6 months, and this was extended in July for a further 6 months on the proviso that I started on a newly approved biological immunosuppressant called abatacept. However, my doctors at King's College Hospital in London don't want me to take it as there is an increased risk of developing cancer; because I had cancer last year, they don't want to risk a recurrence. So I am waiting for the doctors to fight it out. It all comes down to money as IVIg is very expensive - each week of treatment costs thousands of pounds. The doctors have to apply to an area panel where a number of doctors from the region make the decision. I just hope that it all gets sorted out soon so that I know what's happening.


I shall love you and leave you now to get back to my gift knitting. I still have a few pairs of socks to finish as well as some more sewing gifts to make. Are you knitting any gifts this year? Let me know in the comments. Stay warm! xxx

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Venturing out

In a bid to start widening my world, my friend Julia and I went on a lampwork beading workshop a few weeks ago. I found the class on the Craft Courses website. I have done several workshops booked through them in the past and they have all been excellent. We travelled by train to Sheffield and I must admit that I did feel very uncomfortable on the train as it was packed out. We had managed to book a weekend in Sheffield on the same day that Norwich City were playing away to Sheffield United so the train was full of football supporters armed with what felt like a whole brewery's worth of beer! I wore a face mask for the entire journey and used antibacterial hand gel liberally! We arrived in Sheffield in time for lunch and found a lovely cafe very close to where the workshop was held. Another first for me, eating in a busy cafe but the food was delicious. I had the 'French toast of the week' which had spiced plums and ginger creme fraiche and tasted every bit as good as it looked.

The workshop was brilliant. It was just the two of us so we were hands on the whole time. We learnt how to melt the glass rods and add the molten glass onto the mandrels (these are the 'sticks' that you make each bead on - they are coated with a substance at the end which allows the bead to be released once it's cool.) Then we were shown how to create different patterns by adding other colours of glass to the beads. I am really delighted with the beads that I made and would love to have another go. Our beads were posted to us a day later as they had to be annealed to prevent chipping and cracking. The first photo shows my beads and the photo below shows Julia's collection.

It was a really fantastic weekend but it took me a week to recover from it! Then I had a week of infusions and needed another week to get over those. But it was definitely worth it. And I didn't catch Covid either! xxx


Sunday, 30 October 2022

Bubbly sweater

I have another knit ticked off my WIPs list - the Bubbly sweater. (Ravelry link) This is a design by Isabell Kraemer and I can say with absolute certainty that I will be knitting more of her patterns. I used some Rowan Felted Tweed yarn that had been in my stash for ages (I think it was a John Lewis sale bargain) and I bought a ball of Felted Tweed in Sulphur to give me a contrast for the colourwork. I also used the yellow to give a little contrast on the edge of the ribbing and am pleased with the effect. This was my first proper go at colourwork and I am so happy with how it turned out. I was able to hold the yarns one in each hand so that the yarns didn't get too twisted up. I want to knit more colourwork now and also fancy trying to design some colourwork socks. The most accurate photo for the colours is the one immediately below, the closeup of the colourwork pattern. I still have lots of WIPs to finish before I can start anything new though! I'm back at the hospital all next week for my next round of infusions so am hoping that the cannula gods will be kind and I can knit my way through the week. Wish me luck! xxx


Sunday, 16 October 2022

Ticking things off my list

I like lists. I like ticking things off my list even more. Actually I have been known to add things to my list after I've done them, just to get that sense of accomplishment and to be able to tick it off! Is it just me?! In an attempt to dig myself out of my slump, I got myself a new notebook and started writing a list of all the projects I'd like to get finished, a list of design ideas that I have bubbling around and a list with a few long term goals to aim for. Over the past couple of weeks, I've managed to tick a few things off the first list (as well as adding a few more, oops!) 

*** A crocheted Billy Bear for my friend's great-niece ***

This is a fabulous pattern from Emma Varnam and is perfect if you're new to crocheting toys.

*** A pair of DK socks for my friend ***

Knitted whilst I was hooked up to an iv last week, the socks grew so quickly. I wish it was easier to find Opal DK sock yarn here in the UK. If you know of any stockists, please leave a message!

*** A pair of DK socks for my friend's partner ***

Another bit of instant gratification as these socks were knitted in a day!

*** Blocking my Lone Skein Shawl by Joji Locatelli ***

Started back in September and knitted relatively quickly along with some Instagram friends, it has sat on the sofa for a couple of weeks waiting to be blocked. Yarn is from Life in the Long Grass.

*** Casting on a pair of socks for a friend's husband ***

This is Regia Pair Perfect sock yarn - it comes with yellow yarn marking the start and end of the pattern repeat so that you can knit two identical socks. There are stripes up the leg and the foot is plain. I'm only working on these during the day as the black yarn makes it hard to see in the evenings.

*** Completing the first of many Gretel socks ***

I'm aiming to knit several pairs of these Gretel socks as Christmas gifts. The pattern is free from West Yorkshire Spinners and was designed by Winwick Mum. I've struggled a bit to get my tension even over the colourwork using Magic Loop, so I swapped to Hiya Hiya Flyer needles which were better (but still not perfect) and am going to try a 9" circular needle for my next sock. I'll keep you posted.

*** Knitting a jumper for a friend ***

A friend was in need of a cosy jumper and this fitted the bill perfectly, knit using Drops Air yarn.

I have done a little bit of stash enhancement too as I was unable to resist the latest stripy offering from Yarndale. This is Tristen, celebrating 10 years of Yarndale. The West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply yarn knits up so beautifully and is perfect for sock gifts too.

Flo has been my bestest girl, keeping me company and watching proceedings carefully. I can usually manage to knit socks once she has settled down on my lap, which is just as well considering the amount of time she spends asleep on me! 

Last week was a particularly trying week with my infusions and lots of problems with cannulas and blown veins. I think that I'm still going to have the remains of the bruises when I go for my next week in a couple of weeks! Luckily I did have a couple of days where the cannula site was knitting-friendly which makes a huge difference.

The garden is looking very autumnal and there are little splashes of pink all around the garden thanks to the Japanese anemones. I have pale and deep pink varieties which appear each year with no help from me! I'm lucky that my neighbour keeps my garden under control for me.

I'll be back in a while, just as soon as I've managed to tick a few more things off my list! xxx


Sunday, 25 September 2022

Ups and downs

It's been a while since I last posted and I have to confess that I have been feeling a bit meh. I think it's a combination of feeling rather flat now that my fundraising has finished, getting over the flare I experienced after my 5th Covid vaccination and frustration that I find everything so flipping difficult! Welcome to my Pity Party, help yourself to a drink and some nibbles before they run out. 

My fundraising became massively important to me, especially throughout lockdown when I was shielding, as it gave me something positive to focus on as well as a link to the outside world. It also gave me some kind of identity which helped me; having lost my identity as a wife after Mr JK died, I then lost my identity as a teacher after I had to take ill health retirement, so fundraising gave me a sense of purpose again and I felt useful. Now that the fundraising has finished, I am feeling a little redundant once more so I need to find something new to channel my energy into. 

I had my 5th Covid vaccination in June and it caused a flare up of my myositis and my inflammatory markers, which had been consistently decreasing since I started my IVIg infusions, shot up again. I had the Moderna vaccine (all four previous were Pfizer) and from what some of my doctors have said, what happened to me didn't come as a surprise. I'm getting back to where I was pre-jab, but had Covid jab number 6 as well as my flu vaccine this week; sadly it was Moderna again, I did ask if they would be getting any Pfizer but the answer was no. As I'm going to be starting on a more heavy duty immunosuppressant very soon, I decided that it would be better to be protected from Covid and risk another flare up rather than refuse the vaccine. Fingers crossed that it won't happen a second time.

There are things that I want to change in the house but things take me such a long time or I'm not able to manage them that I just ignore them. I have friends who I know would be happy to help me; it's me that finds it hard to ask for and accept help and I guess that I need to change my attitude. It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to do the simplest things: taking things upstairs I have to put things in a rucksack to carry them as I have to tackle the stairs on all fours. I'd like to bring all my craft books downstairs and swap them for a couple of shelves of LP's but the mere thought of doing it is enough to stop me, even though I'll be really pleased to get things rearranged in a much more helpful way. Perhaps I should set myself a task each week and tell you what I have planned, so that I have to report back and be accountable! It might work...

I have had plenty of little moments of joy over the past couple of weeks to share with you.

*** Teddy Love ***

I crocheted this cute little bear for a friend of a friend's new baby boy and was delighted when she shared the lovely photo of them together. Apparently it is his favourite cuddly! (Pattern is Billy Bear from Emma Varnam, which you can buy as a kit or pattern only.)

*** Fundraising ***
I never in a million years imagined that I would raise so much money for Myositis UK. I am so grateful to everyone who donated a prize and to all the people who helped by buying virtual raffle tickets and sharing my fundraising to spread the word. Thank you so much. (See right at the end of this post how you can help me!)

*** Festive socks ***
Winwick Mum has designed some gorgeous new sock patterns to go with West Yorkshire Spinners new Christmas yarn, in the Gingerbread colourway. The patterns are all free to download. This is my favourite - Gretel - with the colourwork trees and snowflakes. I've got the yarn ready to cast on. I downloaded my pattern from Black Sheep Wools. There are four knitting patterns and one crochet pattern for socks.

Photo copyright West Yorkshire Spinners

*** Stripy Goodness ***
I finished knitting my stripy socks using the beautiful 'Twelve Days' colourway from Spin & Blether. I went for matchy-matchy socks right down to the heel as I had plenty of yarn and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. The yarn is a mix of Blue Faced Leicester and nylon and has a wonderful lustre. 

*** Strictly Sockalong ***
I'm delighted that Strictly is back on our screens and have cast on my pair for the sockalong. I'm knitting my 'Tiptoe' pattern and I'm not totally convinced that the lace shows up well enough with the yarn. I think that I will stretch it out over a sock blocker to see how it looks before I knit any more rounds. I had to rummage around in my notions bag for my glitterball stitch marker!

Have a good week and I'll be back chatting away again soon. xxx

There are still a few days left to vote for your favourites in this year's British Knitting & Crochet awards. I have been nominated in the favourite charity campaign for my Fibre 4 Fibres Fundraising which reached over £30,000. My page will close at the end of September, which is the same day that voting closes. You can vote here and you might be lucky and win an amazing prize!
You can vote here! 


Friday, 9 September 2022

Fibre 4 Fibres Giveaway preview 100

Welcome to the final raffle in my Fibre 4 Fibres fundraising for Myositis UK! This is my 100th raffle and I feel the time is right to bring things to a close. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to raise such an incredible amount of money. Through your donations for virtual raffle tickets, my design commissions and all my pattern sales, between us we have raised more than £30,000 which will be enough to fund at least one research project. Thank you.

There are three prizes to be won this week. Each prize contains a zipped project bag, a set of 2.5mm circular needles, a fridge magnet, some stitch markers and an assortment of beautiful yarn. The yarn has been donated by Spin & Blether, Crafthouse Magic and my Instagram friends Sophie and Ann, as well as a couple of skeins from my stash. The stitchmarkers have been donated by Spin & Blether and The Yarnicorn. Sophie donated several balls and skeins of yarn including two self striping yarns which have already been caked up. They are dyed by Country Mouse Yarns but don't have a label; they are 75% merino and 25% nylon, confirmed by the dyer and you can see the beautiful stripes they knit up in one of the photos below. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated a prize this week.

Here's a reminder of what you need to do if you'd like to enter the final raffle! You have a chance to win one of these gorgeous prizes for a minimum donation of £2! Are you tempted to try your luck? Here's everything you need to know. This giveaway will run this coming Sunday 11th September, closing at 23:45. To enter, go to my JustGiving page here and buy your virtual raffle tickets by donating £2 or more. £2 gets you 2 tickets, £3 gets you 3 tickets, £5 gets you 5 tickets and so on. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You will need to leave your Instagram or Ravelry name, or tick the box to share your email address with me when you make your donation, so that I can contact you if you are the winner. This is really important as I have no way of knowing who you are otherwise. Each week, I still get donations where no name or email is left, so if that person's number comes up in the random number generator, I have no idea who it is! All your donations go the Myositis UK to help fund research into this incurable muscle disease, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support.  Myositis is a rare disease and that means that there isn't as much research done to help find better treatment and ultimately a cure. Every single donation is important. Last week the total raised hit £30,000 and I am so grateful to everyone one of you who has donated. Thank you and stay safe! xxx