all the things….

I am  step closer to getting my knee replaced: I’m now scheduled for my pre-op assessment in early April and that makes an end of April/beginning of May likely for the big chop. Huzzah!I think. I mean I’m looking forward to not having a knee that is disappointingly painful, but I am a bit worried about the op itself, which is a wee bit sore (she understated). Still, to have some fitness back and the chance to walk about like normal people is a good thing. I just wish I was somewhere a few weeks past it.

And I had plans: I was going to make some Ginger jeans, several Aida blouses (maybe the Arenite pants too…especially since pull-on, baggy trousers are a boon when you have a recently operated-on knee) and maybe even a jacket….And I was going to embroider some more stuff, and knit too, of course, maybe a striped black and white sweater, maybe a fair isle cardigan (with a steek? Who knows…), socks, and more shawls naturally….basically all the things..

But now instead of randomly hitting upon stuff in my workroom and jumping on the latest knit-train (yes, I’m looking at you Carbeth), I will have to plan, which is not really my strong suit. A decade ago when I had my first knee ‘transplant’ I made socks – a pair for all the family as a presents and I organised the other family Christmas presents on-line (it was a novelty then and quite exciting). I also watched a lot of Star Trek box sets (but that’s another story). Obviously I still knit socks but my enthusiasm for them has waned lately and I’m done with large projects (still looking at you Carbeth). I am open to reasonable suggestions.

My head wants to keep it simple – drug/pain addled minds don’t hold complicated lace patterns or colour-work too well – but my heart is saying ‘stuff that’ – so the next couple of weeks will be about getting my head and heart to talk sensibly to each other!


I refer you to my post of last year – and I wasn’t going to go this year but my lovely hubby had the event in his diary and he thought that I would enjoy another visit north (and he had some IHG points to use up – which meant that we stayed in a lovely and central Hotel Indigo). He was right about enjoying Edinburgh (which is my favourite UK city by a country mile) but I am done with knitting shows.

Maybe it was too soon after losing my own little shop, maybe it was the heat and crowds, maybe the increased entry price (15 quid!!!!)  or maybe the beautiful but expensive yarns, but again it all made me a little low. I bought a few bits and pieces (just the one ball of yarn) but came away thinking that the festival is run for a club that I don’t qualify for. Ordinary everyday knitting has nothing to do with the brilliant rainbows of yarn on display – to make a sweater you’d need to find a hundred pounds or so, so it’s exclusive in the strict sense of the word. My customers would have felt ill at ease amongst the stashers and free spenders flocking to the hand-dyed stalls.

Consumption for its own sake is something I feel deeply uncomfortable with at the moment, hence my attempt to stop spending on ‘stuff’. That ball of sock yarn from the EYF was the last treat I think – #nobuyzone is back on track.

Knitting news….. my Carbeth cardigan was indeed frogged and is being re-knitted on smaller needles. I did the sleeves on the drive up and back to the north and now the body is coming along pretty well (and I bought the most gorgeous buttons for it at the festival). Sock ongoing, gloves still stalled, shawl…well I have an idea for the yarn, and I’ve played around with some stitch patterns….it might work. Watch this space.

Sewing has taken up most of my crafting attention this week: I finished an embroidery project and produced a nice little blouse for Spring (if it ever happens). I have pant plans too…



one of those weeks



I had a bit of a pity-party early this week brought on by a feeling that my body was being a bit, well, disappointing.

As mentioned it has arthritis already, it’s prone to migraine, has had a brush with diverticular disease, still harbours a patch of two of psoriasis and is currently trying it on with a bunch of menopause symptoms. Then a few weeks ago a blood test revealed a sky-high cholesterol reading and some liver enzyme results that got me an early booking for an ultra-sound of said organ. A rather censorious woman gave me a good going over and suggested that my liver was on the fatty side of things. I assume that, like me, she’d read the NHS page where a fatty liver was frequently due to alcohol abuse or obesity – she must have noted my lack of chubs and reached an unfavourable conclusion about my drinking habits. In vain I protested that my cholesterol was the culprit, she’d already given me up as a dipsomaniac.

My too too solid flesh has thus resulted in my lifestyle being shaken up big time: no more fatty foods, no drink, weight loss on the cards and a whole bunch of nope. No chocolate, no sausages, severely restricted eating, a handful of drugs to take and a diagnosis of no fun until I’m thin.

So I have given myself permission to say “yes” to the odd purchase: a bit of yarn for sure and maybe some ego-boosting clothes (in smaller sizes? Maybe). #nobuyzone will recommence once my cholesterol is down and my mood is up!

Knitting news: the second sock from the bad ball of yarn has been cast on, the gloves are still on hold, the shawl has been frogged and the Carbeth cardigan may well join it (the tension was ok when I did a square, with a small question mark against the rows per centimetre, but since it’s now big enough for me and someone else, I suspect that I may have to bite the bullet, frog and try again. It’s a good job I like the pattern). I have ordered some more yarn to ensure that I can finish it at an improved tension and I might have accidentally acquired some rather delicious WYS sock yarn – this and this – at the same time….. but see above)

Project review

Now that Winter is on the retreat again (I hope….) I thought it was a good time to review the state of the making.

Finished projects:

Carbeth 2 got wrapped up, the everlasting socks made it over the finishing line.

IMG_4181In the non-knitting categories I made a patchwork quilt and concluded that the only place for it was on the sofa in my workspace, and it only ‘goes’ there because the conservatory is a jumble of mis-matched and random cast-aways from other rooms and houses with no meaningful overarching theme… But it’s cosy.


I finished the Q and U for my graphic alphabet too (a hand-drawn pen and pencil project that I started in the shop as something or other to fill the hours that grew into a proper ‘thing’), but it turns out that I have missed out the W – I can give you ‘love’ and ‘hope’, and I can now ask a ‘question’, but I can’t ask ‘why’ …..

New projects

Well obviously I’ll have to sit down and finish off that ‘W’ at some point, but knitting-wise…

I started another pair of socks (possibly because I was giddy with relief after finally nailing the everlasting pair), finished one in two nights, found that the ball was a horrible mess of knots and disaster winding. Sorted out same, re-wound it (then found I’d rewound it in the wrong direction) rewound it again and then, for some reason my enthusiasm for the the project had evaporated.

With winters grip tightening, I started a pair of mittens to keep out the beast from the east – which has now gone back to Siberia, taking with it my interest in mittens….

Then there is this…bad bad shawl. Naughty bad pattern. Lovely yarn (from Countess Ablaze) but horrible horrible pattern. *sad face.

So…. with a heavy heart I bought yarn (I know, I know) and I’m now banging out a Carbeth cardigan …..and I don’t care.

I also did a week of unselfish sewing for my mum’s holidays, finished a spot of embroidery and made a couple of t-shirts for myself, so all in all it’s been productive, but if the knitting was getting a report card it would say…..‘must try harder’.

Not just socks

IMG_4179This is a sock that I made for my son. It’s beginning to look a wee bit tired and old now (but on the other hand – still fresher than I look first thing…. ha ha bloody ha) but it’s proof, if it were needed, that knitting isn’t just about making something to wear.

I bought the yarn in Seattle here in this fabulous wool shop just a quick stroll from  Pike Place market: we’d landed a few hours before and we were horribly jet-lagged but already in love with this Pacific North West City. We’d had a bowl of chips and a beer in a bar that looked out over Puget Sound, marvelled at the market and the busy to-ing and fro-ing going on all around us. Then we browsed the yarn and I selected a single skein and needles for the train journey north to Vancouver the next day.

I don’t know the name of the yarn, it’s colour, batch or composition but its deep blues and greens and touch of purple seemed to reflect the palette of the countryside, and I knew my son would love it. He was waiting to meet us in Canada and he loves his handmade socks. We rolled slowly north on the train and I knitted away on the socks and inch by inch, mile by mile they were made and handed over in due course. My son was spending 6 months in Vancouver and we’d treated ourselves to a holiday there to see him and spend a little time in the PNW. God, we loved it – great food, cities, scenery, friendly Canadians and Americans, a chilled out vibe and yarn shops everywhere.

So I look at this slightly shaggy sock with its thin sole and strangely twisted heel and I don’t see a sad old woolly thing I see, well, this……



Finished the second of my Carbeth sweaters today – this one featured a wee bit of colour work but otherwise was more or less the same as the first (the sleeves are a bit longer so they roll up). I love it but tbh, I’m so ready to move on from Winter knitting at the moment – I’ve been finding myself looking for 4 ply /fingering patterns and thinking a bit about lace knitting again. Cline, since you ask, is now on permanent hold until next winter starts knocking on the door. This is for two reasons: I’m still not sure that I love it, and I can’t be bothered frogging it and two: even if I was seized with enthusiasm for it by the time it will be nearing the finishing line, I’m pretty sure it will be too warm to wear it anyway. Although its the UK and there’s an argument that most days here can be sweater days.

I also finished a pair of socks – woo hoo! Well, of course, you might say, don’t you knit socks like all the time? Well, what with being seized with an urge to knit sweaters and a big case of sewing bug, these socks just didn’t really ‘do it’ for me (sensible blue stripes, textured pattern, for my significant other and his biggish feet). I made the first way back in November and then just knitted a few rows here and there when stuck for something to do. This is not a good idea with sock production: you forget how many stitches you cast on, what you made you decide to fiddle with the heel (and how you did it) and well, it becomes a classic case of second sock syndrome.

But I finished (with grim determination) and decided to take a break from socks for a while. On the basis of this decision I gave away a good chunk of my stash of sock yarns (not the interesting ones, just a few doublers from my shop collection) and then …. well, this sock appeared on my horizon and I was smitten. So I dug out some  yarn, finished the cuff in double-quick-timeand then well, either I’m a dummy or the pattern is awkward. Either way up, I should have stuck to my no-socks plan. I’m now on my 5th attempt. Sigh.

I am also knitting a shawl with another couple of bits from my stash and again, its really not dinging my bell. It’s weird how sometimes you can’t stop finding things to knit…and sometimes you can’t find anything that sticks.

Anyway some pictures of the Carbeth…..

…the last picture shows how much of the grey yarn I had left over. I wanted the body to be the same length as the first Carbeth I knitted and the sleeves to be a smidge longer too – with less yarn, much less. I thought that using the purple would help and I was right, but I didn’t leave myself a great deal of wiggle room!

(NO) Jacket required

So Joanne how is #nobuyzone going? Well it’s funny you should ask because, friends,  just this week I have fallen from grace. I spent money on both clothes and yarn. Forgive me knitters for I have sinned

In my defence I tried very hard not to buy clothes and the yarn was a sort of consequence of feeling a bit sorry for myself.

It went off like this: I had an everyday-wear jacket. Weatherproof, stylish (after a fashion, and if you like orange) it had been a good and faithful servant, when *somehow it got covered in black ink across the middle of body at the front. This ink proved pretty sticky stuff and after a wash remained as indelible as before. But the wash had removed the weatherproofing very effectively. Goddammit. The ink was not ignorable (especially for someone who admits to being a neat-freak) so I tried to cover it up with a bit of embroidery. Which worked (I guess) but left me with a not water-proof, florally decorated (and I suspect slightly shrunk) jacket. I tried to like it, but I’m just not in to flower power (and against being wet – definitely not: not in Winter, not in Britain).

Admitting the inevitable, I then went out to buy a replacement winter casual jacket. I went to several outdoors shops and found nada, nowt, not a sausage – nothing. If they fitted around my apple-shaped middle the arms were too long. If the arms and shoulders fitted, I couldn’t fasten it. My dearest one suggested that I might be ok if I wore a jacket without a jumper. This was probably true but as well as being dry in Winter I also prefer (call me an irrational fool if you like) to remain warm too. I went home discouraged, new-jacketless and clutching a bottle of re-proofing potion.

The potion did not work and I remained discouraged. I accept that I have a large middle, but I’m not that freakish and to prove it I had a jacket that fitted. I look around me and see many other women with – ahem – a wee bit of extra insulation, all wearing jackets. They must’ve bought them SOMEWHERE…. This sort of shopping should make you hate manufacturers/designers and their very narrow ideas of what constitutes  the ideal female form, but it doesn’t, it makes you hate yourself.

I took the ‘kids’ (my two grown up sons) out shopping, and still glum, I cheered myself up with a yarn purchase. Four balls of WYS sock in an ashy rose colour to make this (or possibly this) reduced by a third. It felt good and it felt right – at the time, and then not so much later on when I squirrelled the yarn away.

And then strolling through town after a miserable conversation with my doctor (mile high cholesterol, and fatty liver were the highlights) I spied a jacket, waterproof, nearly identical to my old one and in a tasteful green.

Reader, I bought it.

*my son queried my story about how the ink had appeared. Honestly, as yarn is my witness ,it was not a ploy to buy a jacket. I loved that orange coat.