Home from a slow wander around the north east of England and the north of Scotland in Vanda. I got virtually no knitting done to speak of and hardly managed to finish a book. Where did the time go? I watched a lot of waves, saw a lot of swifts and swallows, ate some very good food, had a few medicinal drams and hung out with my best friend and lover (and luckily, husband) – and felt myself relaxing to the tips of my idle fingers.
I was back for a whole week when i developed a horrible pain in my back – seems to be a touch of spinal arthritis – and I’m now hurting and disabled again. Which, friends, was not supposed to be part of the script. My knee is absolutely fine by the way (of course).
I have a university degree starting in a couple of weeks that requires me to cast off the last 30 or so years and get back to ‘studenting’ again. It won’t be easy if I have to do it with back pain, and it won’t be joyful if I have to manage my discomfort. I guess I’ll survive? I have to say that I am kinda fed up of having to work around pain.
Deep breath. Deep cleansing breath.
So I’ve not been doing too much knitting but I have been sewing (even with someone slowly inserting a size 14/US size 0 knitting needle into my back just below my shoulder blade). I made another Mandy boat tee in this seasons favourite shade of yellow, I embroidered a simple design on a red version (largely, I confess, to cover up a stubborn grease stain. I’m sure that Coco Chanel had similar design priorities). And I made some black linen dungarees(I think I mentioned that I was returning to student life– apparently so is my wardrobe). The latter are the Marilla Walker Roberts pattern and I’m very fond of them but they are impossible to photograph so….
And I made a big project/tote/shopping bag. I think its going to be gifted to the person who gave me the fabric as she is very much a fan of the portable knitting project (I prefer to do my knitting in front of the TV).
While mooching about the house and trying to stay mobile (I seem to set like concrete if I sit for too long) I thought that I might start a new project (as you do). I grabbed some yarn from my stash (while pushing a whole heap of project bags to one side). This morning I had second thoughts about the pattern (this scarf/wrap): it’s gorgeous and so is the yarn but size 7mm needles are not too comfy for me right now and I might have enough scarfs and shawls already/on the needles. While putting the pattern away and frogging the knitting, I thought to myself ‘how many projects do I have?’ – my suspicion was too many, so I counted them up. Eleven. yup, that’s way too many. So I grabbed a notebook, and a pen and recorded the embarrassing details – and I am going to institute a one in one out rule until I am back on planet reasonable.Sigh.
Kick around on instagram for a while and you realise that there is an ‘right way’ to do things: pattern weights rather than pins, rotary cutters not scissors, mattress stitch for your knits (don’t even think about back stitching the very few seams that you have – that’s if you still knit your sweaters in pieces – and duh, why aren’t you knitting them top/down in the round…).
Sometimes it feels like your whole life is directed by a bunch of rules.Fashion and beauty can be fun and playful, but they can also be restrictive and tiring. Don’t wear jeans if you’re over 50, baggy clothes make you look fat, heels and low cut tops – are you kidding me! No make-up selfies were a big thing recently implying that make-up was a given and ‘normal’ women didn’t leave the house without a full face of slap.
You can’t be too thin or too fit, but don’t get all muscular, cos people hate that too. I don’t think I need to labour the horrors of fat-shaming that larger women have to face on a day to day basis.
Women are at the sharp end of so many cultural conventions: newspapers have headlines that suggest that anyone bottle-feeding or going out to work (or conversely indulgently staying at home with their baby on their breast) are somehow at fault. Their kids will suffer somewhere down the line. Allegedly.
I’m 56 this year and quite frankly I’ve had enough – I am fed up of dancing to someone else’s tune all the time. I’m going to keep as fit as I can but I don’t give a stuff about my ‘abs’, my kids (who were bottle fed, and saw me being a stay at home and working mum’) are all grown up and they’ve turned out fine. I am going to prioritise comfortable clothes (and I’ll make them myself) with flat shoes that I can walk in and forgo makeup for the 30th consecutive year.
I will use scissors and pins when I sew, back stitch my sweaters (which will almost certainly be raglan sleeved and knit in pieces).I will keep on doing the things that make me happy and that I’m happy to do. I dare you to do the same.
Things I’m knitting and sewing: I’ve finished a pair of socks, I’m still plugging away at Cranberry Gose (I took it to the Peak District with me last week and knit under the camper van awning as the sun beat down…. and I discovered that I’d stuffed up the instructions, but without any stress at all, reckoned I could call the resulting error a design feature)… I also started a shawl (Tales from the Isle of Purbeck) in a gorgeous wool. cashmere mix but sternly reminded myself that the Cranberry needed to be finished before I knitted another row of lace. I am meekly complying.
What does a knitter do when it’s too sunny to knit?
All my knitting projects (bar one – socks. I’m never not knitting socks. Ever) are stalled at the moment while the weather in the UK remains oddly mediterranean. Every time I pick up a project I put it down almost immediately: that woolly goodness that I usually relish is really not doing it for me at the moment. I would sew but my sewing space is a south facing conservatory (blindingly bright and very, very hot). It’s also my art space, but to be honest I think that the practicalities are secondary to the simple truth that this weather sucks the enthusiasm right out of you. (note: if you’re un-used to it. British people have one of these spells every 20 years and have no chance to acclimatise!)
Having finished my latest crochet blanket I’ve been looking for a new project that is weather appropriate and not a blanket. I came across these squares on Ravelry and thought that a wrap/shawl fashioned from this yarn might be a good in-betweeny until I can start another blanket (I know, I know…you can have too many blankets but I can’t help myself). I’ve made 4 so far and I think its going to be a big square. The yarn lends itself to drapiness and when washed, relaxes even more. Having said all that, I’ve not picked up a hook in a week. Sigh.
I’ve a little embroidery project on the go which is giving proving to be much more engaging: here’s a sneak preview…
….I don’t know how it will turn outand I’ve had some issues with this sort of work in the past so don’t be at all surprised if you don’t see it again!
In exciting news, I will be a student again come September. I’ve been accepted by Huddersfield University to do a Masters Degree in Fashion Textile Practices. I’ll tell you more about that nearer enrolment but it’s an exciting opportunity to expand my craft.
Hello from Project Sitting-on-my-ass-and-trying-not-to-climb-the-walls..
It’s nearly the end of the um, 5th?, week and I am at that awkward stage where I’m not really broken anymore, but not quite fixed either. I have started hopping around without my crutch from time to time and on one occasion actually left it...somewhere and had to hunt for it. But I am still not walking with that self-assured, unthinkingly fluid, casual elegance that other walkers throw in my face when I’m limping around the block. No, of course they don’t mean to do it…yes, I know I’m being paranoid, and yes, I will buck up.
Now I’m off the major pain-killers I’m actually able to finish stuff off: this Rainbow Relay scarf flew off the needles and was a joy to knit. The colours are lovely and the construction of the scarf is faintly addictive (classic ‘just one more row’ territory). I can’t block it right now(kneeling is not part of my skill set at the moment) but I know it’s going to be even better after a good wet-block. (The minis are from the Knitting Goddess but the grey yarn was band-less. I know it was a silk/wool mixture and probably bought in Portland Oregon. But the rest is a mystery. I’m sorry)
The UK is currently enjoying a hot summer (and our football team scored 6 goals in the World Cup…neither of these things make any sense) so scarfs and shawls are investments in the future at the moment, as is my other finished project – the sanity blanket. This stash-busting, round-and-round crochet project kept me going pre- and post-op when I needed something soothing (pre…) and mindless (post). I think it has a touch of Mexicana about it which is currently all the rage, darlings. I tried to use up every scrap of yarn – hence the flowers – and the yarn in question was a ‘special’ DK that was never going to be used for a serious project.
Also completed: vanilla man socks in WYS Bullfinch – still my favourite colour combo in this range.
Ongoing: Cranberry Gose sweater – is stalled at the moment as woolly garments just seem so low priority, but I’m cranking out socks. These blue ones require a touch of neon, and this Regia darning and reinforcement thread has been in my stash for a while. I’m also playing around with some rather gorgeous Countess Ablaze yarn and some Kid Mohair I stashed from the shop… I don’t know where this is going yet…but I like it!
Back home and recuperating quickly after my op: the new knee is bedding in nicely (did you know that they try and send you home after a mere one night in hospital these days? Nope, me neither, and when it was suggested, I had a panic attack and practically begged to be able to stay in for one more night….).
I mentioned that I had a heap of projects all ready for the ‘sitting down’ epic? Well, I overlooked a couple of things 1. strong painkillers + brain power = concentration sucks 2. sitting + new knee = pain. So I am not making great progress through my ‘to do’ list. In fact I don’t have a single finished item to show for the last couple of weeks and very little knitting done in general. I have got an idiot proof crochet blanket (round and round and round – in variegated yarns) which is pretty much the only thing that’s getting done. This weird Franken-crochet is already destined for the inside of my car bless it. It’s moderately entertaining for my whacked-out brain – but it ain’t pretty.
I’m hoping that this upcoming third week post-op will see my mobility improve and the pain-relief fall back a bit. I’ve identified some sewing gaps that need filling. I had to purchase some t-shirts on line to go with the loose trousers I’m currently obliged to wear… my baggy top collection was not an attractive pairing with my baggy pant collection and through some further oversight, both largely consisted of contrasting shades of navy blue. Sigh. #nobuyzone is in tatters at this stage: I guess I should review it?
Anyhoo – normal service will be resumed at some point – I hope!
I haven’t had the op yet and I’ve not been away, and I’ve not given up blogging either but I have been a trifle distracted lately…. the op (total knee replacement on the 24th of this month) is playing on my mind rather and it’s been hard to concentrate on anything that isn’t related to it/involving it/tangentially something to do with it….for example
I have organised my post-op wardrobe – no skinny jeans for me for a while (if you’ve ever looked at my insta-feed – joatvillagewoolly – you’ll realise that I don’t really do outfits that don’t involve skinny jeans. This is a bit of a wrench. To put it mildly. But I have (wo)manned up and I now have a wardrobe full of clean clothes and an outfit to come home in…..
I am tidying cupboards – any cupboard. Just in case anyone who isn’t me has to go find something. Oh dear god – my house will be at the mercy of all these menfolk – help!
I am worrying…. a lot…. about how I will fill all those hours when I will be obliged to sit on my ass – with no access to my car, my sewing machine (foot pedals are going to be a no-no) or my desk…
….and in consequence I have started organising a lot of knitting. I currently have around six projects bagged up (with patterns in cute bags) ready to go. There are 2 half socks, two shawls,two sweaters and a blanket…ok, seven projects ready to go. Not to mention a kinda pattern that I’mhalf working on (oh, eight projects) plus the unfinished/on a break bits and bobs that every knitter has (a Cline for example. And half a mitten set that stalled when Spring sprang). Which brings us up to a round dozen…. there’s an argument that by the time I finish this lot I won’t just be recovered, I will be nearly 70 years old.
Anyways – I most probably won’t be around so much for a while but naturally I will be knitting, and when I’m back at the computer I hope you’ll keep me company again.
Ta ta for now.
Here’s some pretty pictures from recent travels with Vanda and friends…
So, darlings, I have a date for my op – the 24th of May – and I honestly couldn’t be less thrilled about it. Sure I know that the benefits will outweigh the short term consequences, and I’m grown up enough to be ‘down’ with that, but…..
Anyhoo – this isn’t a blog about me whinging about impending surgery (just think if I lived in the US I’d have to pay for it too…. and I’m lucky to be in a country that views the health of its citizens to be something that the country invests in blah blah blah…) so let’s get down to knitting and crochet….
First off – finished projects
The cowl is huge and squooshy and will be handy when Winter comes – the yarn, colour and stitch combo make it super-lovely and however you wrap it around yourself its cosy (I put in a single twist for fun)..
… the socks (destined to be gifted, are vanilla toe-up but the yarn (this one by Stylecraft) is lovely. But I think that the star of this FO show is the blanket. My Sunspots throw is on its way to Vanda but for now its decorating whatever I’m sitting on so I can stroke it and admire my handwork. It’s based on this pattern but I used three shades of wool DK instead (so 77 squares instead of 64) and edged it with bobbles instead of the band of front post treble crochet/treble crochet suggested. It’s a substantial blanket with the typical heft you expect of wool. And the colour is blissful – especially when Spring is this late arriving. It took about 3 years to make, off and on and finally getting it over the line is fabulous.
Which leaves a gap for another crochet work in progress doesn’t it? Contenders include another blanket made of squares or some sort of large ‘granny’ affair. Tbh I’m not loving the idea of making another lot of squares (all those ends, all that sewing) but the portability of something similar is appealing. I welcome suggestions. In the meanwhile to keep my hook busy I’m using some Rico Creative Melange in greyscale to make a wavy wrap. It’s pleasingly mindless.
On the knitting needles? This sweater (I know I was all about ‘small’ but..) Cranberry Gose is a lovely name and the pattern is definitely ‘me’. I started it with some stash yarn, gave up and bought something acrylic with wool which was ok (but my tension was way off so I undid it and the yarn is now available for crochet) and I’ve settled on using some pure Italian wool called Day that was £1.20 in my LYS and is very pleasing to knit with indeed. It’s a tweedy combination of black and brown with a soft and lofty feel to it. I’ve also finished one of my cashmere/wool socks (definitely won’t be given away). I have another couple of things on the ‘ancient and pending’ list but thats it for the ‘actives’ which is pretty minimal by my standards.
I have a few things to sew (I got some £5/metre Liberty lawn….delicious) but I’m trying to sew slow…so I’ve put away the overlocker and I’m working on a mash-up blouse/tunic with bracelet length sleeves that should be a winner for summer (should we ever have one) and sitting around recuperating. I could do with a really good pattern for pull on culottes/ wide leg trousers but I’m struggling. I know from experience that skinny jeans will not be wearable for some time post-op. Sob.
#nobuyzone has obviously be compromised by yarn purchases but I have still not bought clothes, bags or shoes (..other than an emergency coat) since November.