Monday, 25 April 2011

Lest we forget

The Ode of Remembrance 
by L. Binyon

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them. Will remember them.

In Flanders Fields
By Dr John McRae

In Flanders the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce hear amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up the quarrel with the foe;
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall no sleep, though poppies grow
In flanders' fields.

RIP C.D. Coleman (24th Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F.)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

Life has been a little chaotic lately and it will continue to be so for the next couple of weeks.  Hey ho what is different. A mini break I was planning has now gone up the swanny but another will be organised a little later when the stars and planets are all in alignment.

We actually found the camera a couple of weeks ago before we lost it again but I have a some photos of a couple of projects that have been un-photographed for a while. 

The ZertaZerta shawl is a Hauri shawl that I knitted back in January. This was some of my own hand spun and I was determined to do a shawl for the 11 in 2011 project with it. I still have not blocked it blame the old time and space issue so I have not moved it from a WIP to finished project on ravelry.

I want to do some more knitting of my hand spun yarn but all things are on hold until mid may with the boring things in life: work, assignments, medical appointments and bills.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday

Well it is that time again... Time to get organised for Easter. I have to get the ingredients in for yeast items like Tsoureki and hot cross buns. We have to start the preparation of the celebratory feast that spring has arrived properly. It looks like daughter and son are on for the Lundy mass at the cathedral and hubby has had a great time running the adult Wednesday night Lenten study group. We have a new priest on the parish team and he just has not worked out our family yet. Sorry I don't need organised religion to recognise that there is a higher power in this world.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Dublin Bay Socks

Well I had four different socks on the double pointed needles and I could not face casting on another pattern until I shifted at least one of the half finished socks off the double pointed needles. Also I think the word "Divorce" may have been banded about if I brought even more double pointed needles of the same size.  Hubby was a little concerned about the number of hedgehogs that I had laying round the house which he could accidentally stab himself with. 

Not the greatest photo but they are done. These socks have been knitted in some ubiquitous Regina that I had knocking around so they are a destashing pair and the pattern is  Dublin bay Socks.  I would do the pattern again but I think a plain or strip rather than this mottled variegation would have been better. The camera has gone awol again and I am definitely blaming one of the children again. I know who to blame but they are denying it of course. "No Mum I have not seen your camera since I used it for my assignment and I put it back in the cupboard." Yeap right the same sort of put it away like the clothes on your bed room floor. Not well enough in my book.

Ok so I have three other patterns of socks on the needles so I need to get cracking some more so I can catch back up with the A-Z kal. I need to cast the next pattern on by the 22nd so I have to get a shifty on. Lets just say I am a little behind....

Friday, 15 April 2011

It is a quiet day in Liverpool

Today is that day again in Liverpool when you know their hearts are bleeding.  Normally even in the grimmest of weather the Scouser will have a ready crack but not today. Not ever again on the 15th of April. Even though there was dissertation madness on with 900 BSc students handing in, the university was just dead between 2pm and 4pm with hardly anyone around.

Why? Today was the Hillsborough Disaster anniversary it is 22 years since 96 Liverpool fans were killed in a stadium crush. Imagine you said see you later to your love ones as they go off to see their team play and then they don't come home. There was many a Liverpool scarf to be seen today and you could see the tears were close for many as they walked the streets.

There was a Memorial Service 2011 at Ainfield. The university did the traditional minute of silence at 3:06 pm. Even those students who have no connection to football or real understanding of what was going on today just knew that there was something strange about today and it was time for silence. It was quieter than Remembrance day.

"You will never walk alone"

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

O Frabjous Day!

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

From the Jabberwocky poem by Lewis Carroll 1871.

Two of my doctorate students have been awarded their PhDs we have even been given which graduation ceremony they will be presented with their bonnets. We are still waiting to hear if the viva recommended alterations of another have been accepted and then watch out it will be party time.  Looks like I will have to be going to several awards ceremonies come July again.

I will also have to get knitting for there are a couple of new babies on the horizon and of course the graduation presents for undergraduates and the wives of the PhD students. Damn I am so far behind with the list. Ciao! as I need to get cracking.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Chicken Man or boy

Rh the boyo had a dress up half day yesterday for school.  I did not see him go off and Dad snapped with the daughter's camera but I got to giggle when he came home at lunch time.

The boyo and the dog almost blended together. It is the start of the Easter school holidays will I be sensible at the end of this week or so I don't know but if I can still laugh at the end of it I think I will be doing well.  The kids are only in school for a total of 9 days for the whole of March.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Thank goodness it is Friday. I have had one of those weeks with work were you wonder why and what you are doing it for. Hello I would like to get paid not these fits and spits in employment pay but that is part of job and the issues with dealing with external funding agencies.

This is a nautilus that was in package one which was sent to me by those lovely people in the Rav Tav. I have been loving the package items.  Not much knitting wise has been getting done this week thanks to a PDP assignment which has been done and dusted. I now seem to be getting back into the swing of things knitting wise with some progress on a sock that had been ripped back repeatedly in the last couple of weeks.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Déjà vu - Snit camp raised all over again.

We seemed to have come back to another time and place again this week in more than one way. Déjà vu SNIT Camp has come back into top of the cesspit  again. Again I have tried to ignore it and again I have failed miserably. Some of you know I am not exactly a full deck of cards as I have a couple of inter-related depression illnesses but I think the full disclosure is necessary when someone (JW) on Ravelry reappears. Be warned this is a rant post so if you want to move on do so now.
Think calming thoughts think calming thoughts 
Earlier this week I had a routine psychiatric review to confirm my diagnosis and need for medication script. Basically the NHS guidelines recommend that if you have been on these meds for more than 12 months they want to confirm that it was necessary and appropriate for you. My new GPs (about 12 months new) who seem to be a lot more proactive than my old UK GP sent me in for the required full psychiatric assessment to confirm that my perscription was appropriate. So I spent the other day at the local mental health assessment unit and was prodded and poked. Yes I can confirm that I am one brick short of a bbq but don't have another mental health illness than the ones I already knew about. As the psych commented it should be expected with your medical issues that you have pain related depression especially with your long term history of PSTD and SAD. No Shit Sherlock tell me something I don't already know.  

Don't worry I was polite cause I was very very conscious how close I was to the secure unit. You can not knit inside the secure unit because knitting needles are considered to be too high a risk. The outcome from this review is that I am getting my anti-Ds script confirmed.

I have been managing PSTD for over 30 years and some years are ok others not so. Christmas is my worst time as my stress trauma event is focused on Christmas Eve. Added to the PSTD is the issue of SAD I am a little (a lot) worse when it comes to a winter and Christmas combined.  Throw in a couple of auto immune illnesses such as OA/RA and now ?Fibromyalgia (still waiting for confirmation of the last one), and that explains the pain related depression. But as I am aware of all these issues and I use my light box, medication, exercise, talking therapy and family support to keep my head above the water. I also use a distraction technique of Knitting. Ok so here I am being upfront about my previous mental health history and now starts the rant.

Recently a special snowflake (JW) has been on Ravelry supposedly apologising about having an almost breakdown and how it was not her fault that Snit Camp  was a financial disaster. Sorry Honey the buck stops at you as you where the organiser of the Stirling Knit Camp event in 2010. I have just read the most insincere apology ever and OMG she sounds like a petulant teenager. I should know as I have two in the house at the moment. 
Falling down the rabbit hole of depression
Claiming that she had an almost breakdown is just something I can not swallow. I have tried to ignore the post for two weeks now but I cant. I am so steamed about it that I wont reply on Ravelry cause I know I wont be polite. I know about a depression breakdown and the effects it can have on an individual as I have been there and done that and never ever ever want to go back there type of experience of it. Not being able to feel, make minor decisions like what clothes to put on, missing chunks of time and the inability to communicate with family let alone the rest of the world. You do not have the ability to function socially or emotionally. So how the hell could you do a uni course and continue to play with your children and everything including a supposed research trip to France??? Don't claim that you have a mental illness when you don't as you undermine those who do and we have enough stigma and crap in our lives already.

I thought JW would at least attempt to pay her creditors before she had the gall to reappear in public. But to come out with an insincere apology and the continued non payment of monies owed just does not help her cause or improve my opinion of her -JW. It has just stirred up the whole drama all over again.

I want to thank the other ones who have continued to challenge the gall of this woman like JaneKAL and her recent efforts to get the word out including this post.  Keep up all the good work.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Testing the Hiya Hiya sock circular needles

Last year in October I picked up some Hiya Hiya 9" circular sock needles from Brownberry yarns stall at Fibre Flurry in Birmingham. I will be going back this year come October as it was well good!!!! (local vernacular a grand day out). I brought two different sizes in the 9" circular sock needles as I wanted to give them a decent go - the 2mm and 2.25mm. I can see how these short circular needles for some knitters would make a brilliant tool but for me I find them a hindrance due to my weird knitting style.

I had read reviews about these needles and though what a great idea. While enhancing my fibre stash with the Krafty Koala aka Gemma I saw her working super fast on a sock with these needles. I want was the plea and she pointed me in the direction of the Brownberry gals what an enabler... Yes she is bad for my bank balance. 

But Gemma's knitting action is considerably different to mine as she is what I call an English Flicker.  I have some issues with arthritis and I am sort of a wonky gimpy cottage style knitter. Best description of my weird style. Dependant on pain and joint stiffness I adapt my style to suit my circumstances. I also can knit continental and portuguese/greek so I can combo and cross like crazy including backwards for short rows. I have had the pleasure at a John Lewis Rowan class in about 2003 of managing to stop it with everyone distracted by my weird purling technique. What do you mean I dont knit properly?  I dont think there is a special style there are lots of different knitting styles. Can you please stop looking at me it works ok? 

Back to the needles I think that I would probably like a slightly longer needle tips to the circulars and thus would have the leverage I think I am missing and why I have been so slow on the sock I started with them. I have been looking at longer lengths such as the 11" but the tips appear to be the same length as that on the 9" needles, damn. I really like how the project is easy picked up and put down.  Storage of the sock in the handbag was enhanced with the circulars.

Sock being supported by bobbin
Other than my tip issue the needles are well made and the clear plastic cable does not have a join joint which would be likely to catch. I like the weight of the needles as they are very light but they are also a metal needle made out of stainless steel. The finish on the needles are a high shine but they still have some grab for the yarn which helps when using a standard sock yarn like Regina.

The needles also have the size and length marked on the plastic cable which make them easy to sort especially if you are like me you can never find those damn needle gauges that you must have at least 20 of in this house alone. To read the size on the smaller of the needle sizes I had to use the water glass magnifying trick so you could still have some difficult working out what the size of your needles.

Now how am I going to do that toe???
To put them to the test I thought I would do my standard basic sock pattern in the obligatory Regina 4 ply. Well I have really really struggled with these socks. I am still at one sock down and a long way to go to finish the second sock.  This is some 5 months later. Normally I can knock out on a pair of the basic pattern of socks on the double pointed needles in a couple of days. I have really struggled with doing the cast off and ended up using two of my dpns to do the kitchener stitch.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sweet Chariots

Back in 2003 during the Rugby World Cup I had the pleasure of having the whole of the Preston outdoor market traders and the majority of their customers who knew the song sing unto me Sweet Chariots on the Grand Final day... They even announced over the tannoy that there was an Australian in the fabric section. Yes that would have been moi.

England won that was a surprise - no I am not a bitter Australian, no never... Ever want to dig a hole and sink into it?

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

But this hymn has some key lyrics which is reflecting my life at the moment. It is in about the third verse I think that has the lyrics that best sums up my life at the moment.

Sometimes I'm up, and sometimes I'm down,
(Coming for to carry me home)
But still my soul feels heavenly bound.
(Coming for to carry me home)

Come on Life what else
are you going to throw at me?
... I should have not done or said that...

Life has been a bit of challenge to put it mildly.  Do you like the use of the understatement for all the major dramas of the last 12 months?  Typical Australian pathos..

  • Yes it is that time again Professional Development Program aka the dreaded PDP. Have to do so many hours and discovered to meet the amount I need another module before the annual deadline. We are in the mist of a mad rush of 20,000 words (report and essay) in less than a ten days. Who planned this date to clash with undergraduate dissertations hand in and the end of academic semester? You would think for an academic pd program the hand in date would be after EASTER break... Not before.
  • Fibro flares, more auto immune developments and the continuing saga of continuing medical issues including skin cancer.  Can we call me a lemon? OMG this body model is so flawed that I want a refund if only I was a car which could be replaced.
  • One toxic workplace but I am juggling the three workplaces so I am having a total issue with the space time continuum. Damn I need a Tardis.
  • Reclamation of my birth family's Blacksheep crown as "a totally irresponsible flbbertigibbet".  Don't you just love your elders?
  • My wonderful little family - the husband and tiddlywinks.
  • It is spring and the sun is shining. 
  • Snuggles from the furry members of the family.
  • Those wonderful friends online and in real life who have encouraged me and recently shown me that they care. I got a wonderful parcel of love last week on a day I really really needed it. It was a second part of the monster hug from the Rav Tav.
  • Acceptance onto a new course starting in September 2011. It has become the light at the end of the tunnel for all the downs. I am going in a new direction but it is something I have always been interested in - Crafts. Yes, I am going to do a degree in Contemporary Craft.
My light at the end of the tunnel
So I have some good and bad things but if I can just survive the now stuff I have something to look forward to. I really do feel that I am on my way to something wonderful. I just need another round of chemo to remove the last bits of skin cancer but there is only a little bit left. Out, damn'd spot! out, I say! - in my best Lady Macbeth impersonation.

Today's images are from the first parcel of monsters from the Rav Tav Gang. I will have to find the camera to photo the new parcel but I just get this report and essay finished first, 10,000 words down 10,000 to go. 

I did not get any knitting done on the weekend cause I was being a goodie two shoes who was doing her PDP homework in the University library. Knitting has been calling but I am not getting much done. But I see a time soon when I can sit and just knit and it will be for a legitimate cause. I am doing my homework for uni. Yeah right my lot are really going to let me get away with that one but I can keep dreaming. Just let me have my delusions.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What is my crafting time?

Well...  anytime I can get a chance. I am known at work for always having a knitting project in my bag.

Sock knitting project bag at work
I have different projects for the range of situations I encounter in my life. I have TV knitting. I have quiet without TV knitting (Lace). I have pick up and put down knitting or lets work like the clappers all out on a large projects.

Sock and coffee waiting for student.
If I want company when I want to knit at home I put on a DVD movie that I do not have to place attention to and work on my project. I may have a companion animal when I am knitting or crocheting. Dependant on the type of project I am working on will be the rationale for how long one of the animals says with me. The dog for some reason seems to think that sock knitting with five needles is just the absolute pits. I sort of understand why if you get a nose full of sharp double pointed needles poking into your face all the time.

What is so wrong with those double points?
I have projects for knit night or movies. I find the long boring stockingette backs for a large gorilla sized man's vest or jumper can just fly by in a good movie. Even in a bad movie my knitting helps stop me from killing the kid who picked the said movie and is loving it immensely.

Miles of stockingette
I used to go to a sewing session once a week and this was where I could cut out my sewing for the week which is great when the kids were little. I still like to make a couple of hours each week were I can potter in the coal shed and this may be just organising yarn for the various project bags for the different creative intervals in my week.  I find that without a daily session of crafting time where I am able to use my creative side that I become a difficult person to live with. Crafting helps with stress management and renewal of other parts of the brain so I can do problem solving.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Something to aspire to a wedding ring shawl.

One day I would like to make a wedding ring shawl. The Heirloom knitters on Ravelry had been reconstructing a pattern and the completed shawl is known as the Queen Susan shawl.

Fleegle's Queen Susan Shetland Lace Shawl
The thing about a wedding shawl is that it is thin enough to be threaded through a wedding ring. That is a 180x180 cm (6x6 foot) shawl that today would cost starting from £2,000 and up. To make this type of shawl you are going to need roughly 8,000 metres of gossamer weight lace yarn. Think about that it is 8 kilometres or 5 miles of yarn. My mind boggles at the sheer dedication of time to make this shawl, the skill and the mastery that this shawl demonstrates.

When I first was learning about the different lace traditions I thought there was no way that I would be ever be able to do lace as I was absolutely craptastic at reading a pattern let alone a chart. Nope I would never ever be able to do a Shetland or Orenburg type Lace shawl. But the more I practice and the more I challenge myself I am coming to see that making this type of shawl will be one day an achievable goal. I have even queued the Queen Susan shawl on my Ravelry queue which is almost at longer than my life expectancy. Though the day I actually do make and finish this type of shawl successfully I think I will shout it from the tree tops. I am pretty sure that the other half will go "That's nice dear" not realising the muggle that he is what a massive achievement that this project will be for me.

I keep calling myself a beginner to intermediate knitter but this is with cough 35+ years cough of knitting experience. I recently went to the work lunch knitting group and someone commented on how fast I can knit but when I compare myself to others I know I am an average knitter. When do you know that you have mastered a skill? Do we ever master a craft? I think that is why so many people continue to knit or crochet as they are ever extending their skill levels.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Alternative perspective the voice of youth.

Well today's theme is supposed to be an alternative perspective so I thought I would get the perspective of one of the two younger knitters in the family on my and their knitting habits. So I am pleased to present a post from Ry who just might make it to 17 years of age in June.

To most people my age, being in that strange age between childhood and adulthood when you hate everything, and I do mean everything, Knitting is not the most fashionable thing to do.

No, let me rephrase that it is not only one of the least fashionable things to do, it's also considered to be old, odd and something that grandmothers do to give to their children, who they dote on, but their labour of love is soon forgotten and thrown into a pile in the black-holes we call our rooms.

However, being the daughter of a knitter has given me a much different perspective, not that I'm denying that some of my mother's creations have sucked into the perpetual black-hole in my room; along with other things such as odd socks and various pieces of maths homework. While I admit this, I do not have the same perspective that most teenagers do, though this may be because of my naturally 'different' personality anyway.

Knitting is, I believe, something that is rewarding and an amazing thing to do, and in fact I am quite envious when I'm sitting and reading, something which I do a lot, and I see my mother start a project and then by the time I put the book down, only a few hours later, the project is finished.

The fact that I can see my mother start with balls of ordinary looking wool, even though it maybe a beautiful green, and then makes something that I could wear and something that I in fact would be proud to wear is one of the miracles in the world - along with sliced bread and the creation of mass printed books.

And when I wear my mother's creations, which I do often ... especially when they're green, and people comment on how nice it is and asking me where I got it from, I always get that stupid grin on my face and a proud feeling when I say "My Mum made it" and I know that no one else in the world has the same clothes as me, or the nicest mother either.

So while most people my age would probably denounce knitting as something that old people do, I think it is something that everyone could do - I can, if i had the patience to drag myself away from my precious books, and I think that if more teenagers knew the joy, and pride, that came with knitting something, or even just making something for themselves they would not be so disparaging to knitters.

Live Long and Prosper,