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13 September 2013 @ 06:31 pm
Several years ago, a group of us were talking about things we wanted to do and some of us came up with a list of things we wanted to accomplish before a significant birthday. For me, 50 was a bit too close on the horizon and so I went for 55 things before 55. Don't worry a lot of them are craft related which is why they're being posted here!

I have been slowly working away at some of them and indeed have achieved several. But when I wrote the list I was still hopeful that my ME/CFS would improve and I had lots of things on about being able to walk again (short distance and building up), things like really getting back into cooking and being able to decorate a room by myself. Sadly the ME hasn't gone away and I'm in a far worse shape physically than when I wrote the original list. So, over the last couple of days, I've been ammending it to make it feasible. I feel like it's yet another stage of saying "goodbye" to the me I used to be and another level of acceptance of the "disabled crap body me". However there's not a lot I can do about that apart from accept and live with it and so here is the new version of 55 Things To Do.

bold are done and italics are being worked on

Things to go to/places to visit
1 visit New Zealand
2 visit Iceland, and buy proper Icenlandic yarn
3 see the aurora borealis
4 go back to Orkney & look at what I want to
5 spend as long as I want looking at the textiles in the V&A
6 go round the revamped Leeds Museum
7 have a thorough look round Durham cathedral 06/11/2008
8 go to the Quilt Museum in York 09/10 & 12/11/11
9 have lunch/tea at Bettys with Chris, mum & Avice 24/07/12
10 visit Iona again
11 go round the Leeds Art Gallery
12 go back to Ipswich meeting for a visit 09/10
13 visit the Quilting Exhibition at the V&A 05/10
14 go to the theatre on my own – 14/3/13
15 see the Mousetrap – 14/3/13
16 visit Leeds Minster
17 visit the gansey exhibition in Hull
18 visit Townend NT property (Troutbeck) 14/09/13
19 take mum to Blackpool Illuminations 14/09/13 - I rang her after I'd added this to the list and she made it as a suggestion of something she would love to do, so we did!

Health/Fitness (but will depend on ME/CFS)
1 lose the weight I put on with the steroids (lost over 3 stone, but put a stone back on summer 2013 thanks to steroids again) – so still over 2 stone to go atm
2 and a bit more if possible
3 swim a mile 12/01/09 82 x 20m lengths = 1 mile plus 30m
4 swim an average of twice a week for a year

Book and Craft stuff
1 arrange all my books in subject and then alphabetical order 14/11/11
2 catalogue all my books 14/11/11
3 read all my unread fiction books 2012
4 read all my unread non fiction except religious books 10/11
5 read my unread religious books
6 read all the books I haven’t on the BBC The Big Read 100 top books http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml
7 read all the books I haven’t on the 100 Books Every Child Should Read List http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/01/19/bokidsbooks419.xml&page=1
8 collect all Elfrida Vipont’s books
9 finish “positives from our marriage” scrapbook
10 spin my own yarn and knit socks with it
11 have another go at lace making - this is going to be hard to do as I need lessons, so ammending 15/9 to make a rag rug
12 revisit the stuff I learnt on the city & guilds embroidery course and develop the stuff I want to
13 design and knit a lace shawl
14 make a traditional British jumper – fair isle/aran/gansey…. Gansey Nov09-Jan10, Aran March 10
15 design 3 more patterns to go on Ravelry - done: glittens, cushion, socks 2009
16 knit a sock wool blanket - finished 22nd June 2012 at Pardshaw before Woolfest
17 buy an instrument – whistle 08/10
18 design and make a Swallows and Amazons cushion
19 Dyeing workshop – 2nd march 13
20 help mum sort out her childhood photos
21 make a hexagon patchwork quilt

Other things
1 become comfortable with myself as an individual
2 have a clothes makeover
3 do an evening/day class for at least a term – Alexander Technique Spring & summer terms 2009
4 grow 5 different varieties of chillies –Hot Wax, and 4 others
5 make a new will 2011
6 have a spa pamper day
7 be thankful for something that happens every day for a year
8 research about my grandfather in the Friends Ambulance Unit and his croix de guerre etc
9 finish spotting the car number plates from 735-999 now seen 910
10 have a fabulous 50th! 5/3/2012

And finally no 55
make a scrapbook of all the ones I achieve

24 achieved
11 currently being worked on
03 September 2013 @ 04:25 pm
I've been lucky enough to have a fabulous summer, thanks to the help and support of family and friends I've been away on holidays and had a real break from the home routine. However this has meant that in between each trip away I've been pretty much sleeping non stop (and by that I mean for up to 36 hours with only a quick stagger up to go to the loo), which means that the paperwork and email pile is enormous and I really should be dealing with some of that today as I've got a little bit of energy.

Instead of which I have started projects, fluff and yarn spread liberally all over my living room floor and bedroom. I realised that Yarndale is less than a month away and that if I want to be able to buy anything at all I really do need to have finished a few things first. Also while away at Towersey folk festival I found a gorgeous cushion kit with a camper van on it on Knit'n'Caboodle's wonderful stall and I SO want to do that too. However while visiting an alpaca farm earlier I'd already bought some alpaca to make an aran cushion cover with for me and I really want to do the Herdy one too and and and.....

So in a vain attempt to prioritise and make sure that I do really want to finish the things I've started here are a few photos. They aren't the best as I wasn't going to lug everything outside to get a better light (not got that much energy), they're more of a record for what I need/want to do.

Part 1 spinning
I bought myself a lovely new spindle at Woolfest and because you can't buy a new spindle and then not use it straight away, I also bought some fluff despite having 2 lots at home waiting to be spun. In fairness I'm trying to spin it much thicker than the last lot I've done so hopefully it won't take as long and I'll have improved my skill level.

Top left is the new spindle and fluff (and regrettably not a lot actually spun), then the fine stuff that "just" needs plying and finishing and knitting. The grey in the bottom left is alpaca and then the other 2 are braids one of which I was given which i'd like to spin at some point.

Part 2 shop knitting
This is urgent as BaaRamEwe want to display it (a clapotis) at Yarndale

Part 3 shawls
On the left is a limited edition Titus dyed by The Knitting Goddess - sadly I stopped being able to count and it needs a bit of ripping. At the top is a hitchhiker which I started and do still like and then I was trying to come up with something for the purply sparkly and failed totally, not sure if it will rip back or not, but I'd still like to actually make something with it.

Part 4 cardigan
This was meant to be done for me to wear over the summer and then we had a heatwave.....

Part 5 socks
I think "oops" is about the best I can say here!
While at Towersey I started knitting socks for a friend and her twin daughters - fortunately they all have small feet, but I really need to get going with these.

assortment of part knitted socks which were all vaguely meant to be for me as part of my restocking the sock drawer project

Bought at Woolfest and so far neither is a pair!

Part 6 new projects
I bought the purple aran ages ago and still really want to make myself an aran with it, sadly I've spent most of the summer on high dose steroids so my weight is skyrocketing upwards (3/4 stone in the last week) so that might have to be on hold for longer. the titus mini skeins are for a cardigan but the weight issue applies there too. The small ball is my hand dyed yarn and I need to find a suitable contrast colour - hopefully at Yarndale.

And these were sock choices for me being brave and going a bit out of my comfort zone!

And this is my yummy alpaca to make a cushion for me!

In adition I've a pair of socks to alter as i made them a bit too small for a friend, and I need to knit a gift for someone too, plus make at least one item for a raffle if not a couple. And there's the fabulous scrap blanket I started a while ago, but I'm happy for that to be winter knitting to keep me warm as I do it!

So, timescales for at least some of the projects are:
Clapotis - finish knitting by 8th, blocked and handed in by 10th
Cardigan - finish by yarndale, inc all ends, sewing up etc
Socks - finish the ones for Jen and daughters and send off by Yarndale
Ply the fine yarn and see if it's going to be any good at all by Yarndale
Finish the second turquoise sock for me by Yarndale
02 June 2013 @ 05:33 pm
In fairness to me, these 3 months have included quite a bit of knitting, but a lot more of sleeping and coping with ME. I'm now using a wheelchair more than I ever have before which isn't really very good. I've also had some tests done which show I'm down to about 30% muscle ability in my left arm and probably the whole of my left side..... The good news is it's about 50% on the right side!

However I can still manage to knit which is good and I think I've worked out why I can knit but struggle with writing - it's a much looser grip for needles than for a pen and a much less controlled way of working.

So, knitting.....

Well I finished a test knit I was doing for a friend and as that was a mans jumper in 4ply it took a while! I also knitted up one of the yarns I'd dyed at the workshop into socks. The ribs etc are in a bought purple and the rest is mine! Sadly it does seem to have faded a bit with washing so is a bit paler now than in this photo (and as my camera doesn't like purple it's not the best photo...)


I finally got round to knitting some socks I owed a friend:
Nell's socks

I was also lucky enough to have friends enable me to go to a local folk festival by pushing my wheelchair through the mud and doing all the fetching and carrying etc. The wheelchair was so muddy I had to take it to a car cleaning place for them to jet wash it!
During the weekend I knitted socks for Anna:

Way back in january I offered to make something for 5 people on fb - I've now made a cactus for Ann:
I also made one of these for my son. As part of his course he's meant to keep a flowering cactus alive for a year. Knowing his ability to kill any plant, I decided I'd better knit him one. Sure enough the real one has died but fortunately his boss likes the knitted one and is happy with him keeping that alive!

As part of the fb thing, I also knitted a cushion for a friend. As she's Scottish doing some Aran cables seemed like a good idea....
Sarah's cushion cropped front

Sarah's cushion cropped back

Of course as soon as I'd handed it over to her, I noticed the mistake in the moss stitch on the back....

Yesterday mum and I went for a drive in the Dales. Purely by complete chance (and a lot of map reading, giving in and using the satnav) we managed to visit the Wensleydale LongWool shop which is a small but fabulous place to visit. They have a lot of things already knitted up and for sale so mum enjoyed herself too while I went "oooh" and "pretty wool" and "WANT". So I now have enough to make myself a stripy something. What I want is a loose fitting cardigan-thing to wear in the summer, none of their patterns was quite right (although I've taken the stripe sequence from one of their cardigans - with their permission). Having browsed Ravelry, I think the nearest I can find (in the free patterns at least) is a Kaffe Fassett jacket so I'm going to use that as a starting point. BUT not until I've finished the shawl I'm kntiting for Baa Ram Ewe.
03 March 2013 @ 07:29 pm
One of my favourite indie yarn sellers (Joy of Knitting Goddess fame) came up to Leeds on Thursday for the new season launch at my local shop Baa Ram Ewe. We had a brilliant time at the launch of all the new stuff - I was very restrained and managed to only buy a couple of yarns. Joy had dyed up some gorgeous Yorkshire colour ways using Titus yarn (a BRE speciality) which were just stunning and will be selling some other colour ways this week in her shop.

A couple of friends came to stay with me on friday night and after a rather good evening it was a bit of a shock to have to get up early on saturday, however it was SO worth it. We headed off to Armley Mills Industrial Museum which I've known for many years but always forget how special it is. At one point it was the worlds largest woollen mill when Leeds and Bradford were very much at the forefront of the textile industry. The workshop was organised by BRE and featured Joy and Bobbie who taught us how to hand paint yarn. We'd all been asked to take an item or two along as inspiration and I'd been struggling with that a bit as I knew I wanted to knit the finished product into socks and didn't just want purple, but wasn't sure what I wanted. Then I saw a fabulous jumper knitted by Joy using stripes of colour with a grey base.

They were fabulous teachers and enablers, and helped all of us to make yarn that we loved. I decided to do a multi yarn where I played around with the red and blue dyes to make a different blue and a purple. After I'd had a go at making pink, I decided it wasn't the right shade and used the ready mixed fuschia. By the time I'd finished this I was getting very tired and my wrists and back were beginning to complain quite a lot, so I decided to keep the second skein very simple, so used a ready mixed violet and then watered it down to make it paler as I painted the yarn to give a variegated purple.


They were all cooked in a microwave (note at home it's better to steam them as you're more likely to burn it (eeep!) in a microwave and also it throws out minute dye particles which you don't really want added to your food next time you use it!) and then rinsed in cold water. I was so thrilled with the result as I think everyone else was with theirs. What was really interesting was how different the finished yarns were and how some people had stuck to their original inspiration and how some had varied a lot.


In this photo the multi yarn looks a bit too grey rather than purple and the purple yarn is actually deeper in colour.

After the workshop there was a (not so) quick visit to Baa Ram Ewe and then Carolyn and I headed back to mine to have a quiet evening watching our yarn dry ready to skein it this morning.

Each skein is 50g, so I'm planning to make socks probably with contrasting/toning rib/heel/toe so that I can get 2 pairs out of them. I now have even more respect for Joy and all the people who make fabulous yarns for me and many others to knit with.
30 January 2013 @ 05:22 pm
Mega apologies for not updating for so long - personal life has been increasingly stressful over the last couple of months and although I've been knitting lots that's because it's saved my sanity!

There have been some finished items (shock horror!) including this rather nice and very warm jumper


Not the best of photos but I was in my mother's garden in well over a foot of snow getting very wet jeans and it was being taken by son who was one handed due to badly broken wrist (part of the stress that's been going on).

I actually started knitting it about a year ago, but instead of using lopi which is very expensive and nothing like as soft as the stuff that was around in the 80s I was using a wool/acrylic blend. I knew it was looking a bit small and in the end put it away to see if either
a) it would magically grow
b) I would magically shrink

Sadly neither of these happened and I started again. It took less than a couple of weeks once I got going and grew very quickly. I'm really pleased with it, although a bit annoyed that the black has already started to pill. I'm seriously contemplating doing a similar one in purple but probably all acrylic as it's so much cheaper.

My other son was travelling in Australia last year and dragged his travelling companion into a mill so that he could buy me a ball of genuine Australian wool. It's lovely but there was only 50g of it so I was contemplating what to do with it when I saw a friend knitting fabulous fingerless mittens and got all inspired (thankyou so much Helen!)


And once I'd done those for me, I managed to do another 5 pairs as presents, including 2 child size ones. Hopefully I'll be getting a photo of mum and child wearing matching ones soon that I can post.

I've been trying to deal with paperwork all afternoon and it definitely feels like time to go and sit on the settee and knit! (or possibly just curl up and fall asleep...)
07 November 2012 @ 10:01 pm
Last thursday I headed off to my favourite place in the Lake District for some much needed time away with a very special group of friends. The weather wasn't always at it's best, but it was November and sunday was absolutely gorgeous.

During the 4 days I managed to knit lots of dalek and start a hat, admittedly having looked at the hat since I came home I suspect it's going to need re-starting as either I got the maths wrong or my tension is too tight.... I did however have a fabulous conversation in the Kirkstile Inn when a small boy looked at my knitting and announced loudly to the whole pub "you can knit much better than daddy". Daddy did explain that really mummy and granny were the real knitters and he was just learning, but it was lovely.

I'd taken up my spindle and managed to spin quite a bit although I'm slightly ashamed to admit that it was the first time I'd done any spinning since being up there last december. Hopefully now I've started again I'll keep up with it more. I'd also taken up the spare spindle and fluff and various people had a play.

5 Anna & Dave

It was a very quiet peaceful time, we did celebrate a couple of birthdays and there was much laughter and chat as well, but there was also plenty of time to just sit and "be". On sunday the weather cleared and it was warm enough for me to sit outside on the wall to eat my breakfast - admittedly this was around 10am but then the others came out and joined me and we moved onto elevenses. The view was just superb

6 sunday view

Life has been very stressful recently and sitting on the wall gave me a much needed top up of calm, I could literally feel my shoulders relaxing as I sat there.

On the way home I decided to detour and come home via Loweswater and then over Honister before heading back through the Lakes. One of the things I really hate about living with ME is that I can't just go off walking any more. I was never fit enough (or keen enough to be honest) to do the big walks, but I used to love walking over the fell road to the pub or some of the less strenuous walks. Nowadays I'm reduced to going for a walk in the car and stopping and taking photos when I can. Admittedly one of my sons did mutter about wheelchair and fell road, but even his optimism failed him at the thought and I really don't think I'd feel at all safe, especially on the very steep downhill bit! And talking of wheelchairs, someone did start thinking about how my wheelchair could also be converted so that I could use it as a spinning wheel........

7 Loweswater
31 October 2012 @ 10:39 pm
On Saturday I took a break from being mum's support person and headed over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for an event in the Skyspace. I was there in enough time to zoom around on one of their scooters and enjoy the fabulous autumn colours in the rather cold but lovely sunshine.


As the sun started to sink down, it became much more of a winter landscape


The Skyspace is the converted deer shelter and James Turrell created it. Basically it's a room with a hole in the ceiling and benches for you to sit on while you watch the sky. There is some lighting which enhances the colour of the sky and we watched it fade from pale blue to a deep dark not quite black. Although this was organised by local Quakers, it wasn't a Quaker event as such and people were encouraged to wander in and out and compare what they could see through the skyspace with the actual sunset outside. Having got myself all wrapped up in the blanket, I decided to stay put and just enjoy the skyspace and being there while also knitting some squares for a blanket that a group of us are making for a friend.


I love this photo where there is the trace of the aircraft in the corner.


At first the skyspace seemed full of light with it streaming down through the opening and it led me to think about light. Quakers talk a lot about light from "holding you in the Light" to "the Light within" and George Fox's "an infinite ocean of light and love". I know that quite often the early Quakers (1650s) used to meet outdoors and I wonder how much of the wonder of the sky they absorbed as they quietly waited. And then I was thinking about how precious a commodity light is, it is something we take for granted whether from the flick of a switch or a wind up torch, it's just there. But in the days when you were dependant on lamps and candles it must have been so much more precious.

One of the YSP staff was with us and he was saying that he never tires of sitting there, it's always different and always special. I would love to be there in the rain and watch it falling into the room. In December there will be a folk group singing traditional wassails, songs and carols in the skyspace and I'm so tempted to go, even though it means being there in the morning.
30 September 2012 @ 05:38 pm
There are several things I want to write about here, but sadly mum has been in hospital and life has somewhat got in the way. But, a while ago I think I mentioned that several of us were knitting bears to go out to Cambodia as a friend who made many had died and we wanted to keep it going in her memory.

The instructions are slightly vague and I've been asked how I did it - so ignore this post totally if you're not knitting Benji Bear!

Firstly the feet - it sounds a bit complicated, but isn't really.
Sew up the sides of the legs which then leaves you with the cast on edges. The cast on edges and the stocking stitch rows are what forms the base of the foot.


This means that having sewn down the side of the legs and feet you now have to change direction and this seam goes from toe to heel. And that means that the foot then sticks out in front just like a foot should do!


when sewing on the snout bit make sure that you sew it on the front of the face........


I struggled more with this and still haven't got round to adding any embroidery to it - must get brave at some point and do it. And to be honest I've 2 benji bear faces to do and 2 others which I need to get done for a different reason, so I really should be brave and do it (maybe after hospital visiting....)

09 September 2012 @ 02:51 pm
I know this isn't knitting related, but I've taken a deep breath as it felt right to post it here - be gentle with me please!

The last couple of weeks at our Quaker Meeting we've had road works right outside as they replace the road surface. I think some people have found the extra noise quite difficult and as we're a city centre meeting it's not that peaceful most Sundays. We're well used to police sirens, car and building alarms, aeroplanes overhead, conversations of people walking past and just occasionally the song of the birds visiting our garden.

One of my favourite places to be quiet and still is on the wall at Pardshaw where it's very peaceful (they even seem to have removed the wind chimes from the next door garden!) - occasionally you can hear a car or tractor going past or an aeroplane overhead but most of the time it's sheep and birds and wind in the trees and the not-quite-silence that is just part of being in the country. I love to spend time there either on my own or with a group of F/friends quietly or chatting and drinking tea or just listening to a friend playing the guitar which somehow enhances the peace and serenity.

But actually today I found it very peaceful, there was something very special about holding the silence in the midst of lots of noise and chaos. It felt very much like the "still calm centre" of the storm and as life has been on the chaotic side recently, it was great to be reminded that the silence is there even in the midst of the noise, bustle and chaos of normal every day life. And that it's possible to find peace even when you least expect to or think life's too busy.

Part of Advices and Queries no3
Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openess to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into the silence which allows us to deepen out awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life.
03 August 2012 @ 06:49 pm
I was lucky enough to win a prize from the wonderful Knitting Goddess forum on Ravelry which comprised some fabulous stitch markers, a wonderful sewn and lavender scented strawberry and money to spend in the shop. It was all centred round Wimbledon and I was so flukey as Andy Murray appeared to be able to read my mind and I had some lucky guesses with other questions that were asked. I treated myself to a lovely skein of flower power sock yarn (thanks Kayla for helping me choose!) and some really lovely lime green dk.

A group of us who are now close friends knew each other first through a forum to do with The Chalet School series of books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, although many of us have now met up in Real Life too as well as hiding in the computer. Sadly one of the people I first got to know in real life died in July and as the forum has a bit of a thing about lime green those of us who were going to the Celebration of her Life decided to wear a touch of lime green. Many people who couldn't go also decided to wear a touch of lime green that day too. My favourite one was someone who didn't have any lime green clothing, but lined up all her lime green kitchen accessories.

This of course meant not only had I to find something to wear that was lime green, I had to find something in my wardrobe that was a) suitable for a funeral and b) didn't clash too horribly with lime green! I decided that as Pat was a knitter I wanted to knit something so made a Multnomah with contrast in cream and just got it blocked in time. For the first time in my life I wore a shawl the smart way over my shoulders with the points crossed over in front and fastened with a flower broach I also made.


I know it doesn't look particularly lime green in this photo, but I promise it was!
I also made some spare broaches which people could wear if they didn't have anything lime green.

flower broach

As a group we've decided that when we have our next big meet up in September we will do the fundraising for Weston park hospital where she was treated, so I suspect there will be more lime green as well as other knitting between now and then. Pat had already finished a doll for the September Gather and that was on display at her funeral together with one of the many teddy bears she'd knitted for children in Cambodia "every child deserves to have something to hug" and I plan to knit a couple of those too to be sent out.

I am way behind on listing finished things both on here and on Ravelry so will try and catch up a bit, although having realised the Olympics are a week shorter than I thought (big brain fog moment there!), I'm trying to play catch up with my Ravellenic knitting and that's taking precedence.