Well the Drugs DO work, and Workshops have been confirmed!

Well the drugs *definitely* work!  I could have cried with joy today when I carried the shopping in without a second thought.  Ah, the simple things that we take for granted. I missed you.

The drugs I am on are a bit of cocktail, and one of the ones I have to take is a massive dose of Vit D (I’m clinically deficient, who knew?!) once every 4 days.  Combined with the steroids, this seems to have the effect of making me a bit, well, wooshy..

My thought are on a bit of ‘go fast’, which has resulted in my braining spinning on project ideas, teaching ideas, design ideas all day.  Unfortunately most of them fly across my head that fast that I haven’t been able to note them down, but some of them I have, and they are real zingers! More to come on those at a later date – but one of them involved some serious maths

The physiotherapist on Monday was, erm, interesting.  I now have to submerge my arms up-to the elbow in water as hot as I can stand and do a series of stretches three times a day.  For six weeks.  I’ve been going a week and I’m already bored of it.  However I also get to play with Play-Doh three times a day so it’s not all bad.  I also now ‘have to’ swim once a week, and I’ve been given permission to go back to using light weights in my gym workouts, so hopefully that will help combat the slight ‘balloon animal caricature’ that’s happening to me.  More interestingly she also gave me permission to ‘return to normal usage as much as possible’ including my crafting – so I am now trying to fit in at least a little every night upto an hour when I have time.  You can’t see it from where you are, but I have a very happy face!

This comes just in time as we have confirmation of at two teaching dates with Purlescence:

13th April – Beyond Scarves and Granny Squares – Crochet 102 (Shaping)

Beyond Scarves and Granny Squares will take you from ‘beginner’ to ‘confident’.  Teaching loads of techniques to expand your repertoire, increase your confidence and improve your skills, we’ll be talking about those little secret ‘tricks of the trade’ along with the more conventional wisdom gained from my 30 years of practical experience.  We’ll be covering

  • Starting  –  how to get a pretty cast on edge and how to do away with foundation chain
  • Couture Touches – such as how to get rid of “that” gap at the edge of your work, useful stitches to know and how to change yarn
  • Shaping – how to do shapes other than squares, rectangles and circles, lots of increases and decreases
  • Short rows – what they are
  • Gauge – *why* it’s important and when we can ignore it
  • Blocking – how to do it and why it matters

You will need:

  1. to be comfortable in the basics of crochet – holding the hook & yarn, chain, Single Crochet, Double Crochet (American terminology)
  2. a crochet hook of type and size of your choosing (we recommend a 4 – 5mm)
  3. about 50g of light coloured yarn with a nice twist (so it doesn’t come apart too easily or split) of a weight to match your hook (we recommend a 4ply or DK weight).
  4. A pencil/pen and notepad

We won’t be making anything specific in this class, just having a play with techniques in an informal, fun, environment.  If you have any questions or want any advice, please feel free to contact us.

15th June – Tunisian Crochet 101 – Complete Beginners

Also called Tricot, Shepherds or Afghan, even Queen Victoria was smitten with this fascinating form of crochet.  Tunisian combines crochet and knitting ideas to create a unique fabric which can be dense and warm (perfect for mittens!) or light and lacy.  You can easily combine crochet or knitting with Tunisian to get stunning effects, but you don’t need to know either to be able to do Tunisian!
This one day workshop will give you a solid grounding in the basics of Tunisian in a fun and informal environment with a teacher who first picked up a Tunisian hook in 1985.
We’ll be covering..

    • Getting started – what is this strange tool and what do I do with it?
    • The  Basic Stitches – including tunisian simple, tunisian knit and tunisian purl stitches
    • Combination stitches
    • 3 Colour Tunisian
    • Casting off

We will be producing a beautiful stitch sampler during the day, which you will be able to take away to show off your new skills.

Depending on time we may also look at two projects you can start in class and finish at home.

You will need:

  1. no previous experience at all
  2. a pen/pencil and notepad for notes
  3. a mid sized crochet hook if you have one (I’ll have lots of spares if you don’t)
  4. You will be provided with all tools and yarn needed for this course.

If you have any questions or want any advice, please feel free to contact us.

Places on these courses are strictly limited, to make sure I give you all the time you deserve, so book early to avoid disappointment.

With the addition of at least three more workshops in 2013 – Crochet 102 (textures) , a half-day hairpin lace and a half day broomstick lace later in the year, it’s going to be a busy year.  I am super excited, and churning out swatches as fast as I can.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to not only be teaching the more advanced crochet techniques that so many courses neglect, but also to have to opportunity to bring the lesser known crafts of Tunisian, Hairpin and Broomstick to everyone.  Tunisian is tipped to be the big ‘in thing’ for 2013, so now is a great time to learn with lots of exciting designs coming out from the big designers!

It’s going to be lots of work over the next couple of months getting ready, but I’m *really* looking forward to it.

Snow Day!

Right now it’s snowing, and according to the forecasts it’s settled in for 24 hours at least.  I know this is no big deal in 90% of the world, but in London you might as well have announced Armageddon – the supermarket this morning was full of people panic buying beans, soup and long-life milk because they might not be able to get to the shops tomorrow.  It started at 7am and we have a little over an inch settled nearly 9 hours later.  Yes, a whole inch, and to listen to local radio you would think the world was ending.  I know, crazy isn’t it?

What that means for me is some serious ‘snowed in’ crafting time.  Ok, I’m limited to what I can realistically achieve, but I can get some more swatches done for Crochet 102 and maybe even sneak in a few rows of knitting while sitting in front of my open fire with a large brandy.  It would be hot chocolate, except one of the tablets I’m on doesn’t let me eat chocolate!  Which sadist of a pharmaceutical company came up with that one?

Ah, knitting I missed you! The steroids have appeared to have kicked in, and despite having gained 4lbs in the last 4 days and I’m starting to look like some strange drug-induced freakish balloon animal chipmunk my hands have been pretty good.

Good enough that I have been able to do a whole FOUR rows a night, the last 3 nights, on my Jan Sweater.  That equates to a massive distance of about 4cm growth – but growth it is, and to mix metaphors a bird in the hand is better than a kick in the teeth.  Or some such.  Of course my brain has since gone on a flight of fancy as to how much knitting I could now do and catch up on and that complex cabled sweater in lace weight etc… so I’m having to be very strict with myself and that frivolous part of my personality and set very specific limits so I don’t accidentally injure myself or make things worse.  Some is better than none no?

I’ve also had a phone call today to let me know that ‘an opening’ has occurred and instead of waiting 3 months for a physio appointment, they have a slot on Monday!  I have an MRI in early February and it’s all go!

I’ve been hinting and promising the last couple of posts about teaching in 2013.  I can’t reveal dates and suchlike yet, but I can definitely confirm that there will be at least one course from me (in conjunction with Purlescence) this year.  Crochet 102 will take you from ‘beginner’ to ‘wizard’.  Well, OK, maybe a bit below that – magician?  I’ll be covering LOADS, including  how to get a pretty cast on edge, how to get rid of that gap at the edge of your work, how to do shapes other than squares, rectangles and circles, short rows, gauge (*why* it’s important and when we can ignore it), blocking and texture!  There maybe more, but that’s where I’m up to in my notes so far.  There’s more obviously that I’m keeping secret – and there may even be enough for a Crochet 103, as if I put in everything I want to Crochet 102 then the only person who will be able to keep up is me – and that’s a bit pointless.  If you want something specific or want to know if something will be covered then feel free to comment.

If you missed out on last year’s Crochet 101 (Complete Beginners) and would be interested in the course running again you can contact me, or Purlescence direct.

Right now I’m going to get a hot drink and stare out the window for a bit…



Got to hand it to them..

Well, after the disastrous meeting with the registrar in November, and my GP getting on my side, I got a call to see the Consultant on Monday 7th January.

Over Christmas I had 5 days where I didn’t touch a computer, and January 1st dawned, bright, early and only slightly hungover to discover absolutely no pain at all.  I was delighted, only to have that hope dashed on the 2nd January when it all came back again.  So the idea that it is triggered by crafting or typing would appear to be nonsense.

However, my meeting with the Consultant went *wonderfully*.  The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and she carefully and thoroughly went through everything.  She even tested how dry my eyeballs were.

The upshot of the Consultant appointment is that she is referring me for an MRI scan of my hands and wrists (to double check we haven’t missed anything in the ultrasound scans), she sent me for x-rays of my feet and hands (in case there was something showing in my feet that wasn’t giving me pain) and is referring me for hand therapy (which I think is some form of physiotherapy).  She has also put me on six weeks worth of steroids.  The lowest dose she can get away with, to see if it makes any difference at all.  Of course steroids are nasty creatures so I’m also on a stomach liner and calcium tablets to counteract some of the side affects.  She tells me that steroids are a bit difficult as they cure everything, but are evil.  Currently the hope is that a short course of steroids gives my body just long enough to sort itself out.

Naturally, having found somebody who takes me seriously and is moving things on, she goes on maternity leave next week – so my next appointment will be with the locum consultant (I asked if I was going back to the registrar, and got the distinct impression that he had been told off for signing me off).

I had a GP appointment today to get my ‘scrip for the steroids filled, but also to get the results of the blood test I had done before Christmas.  It appears that my vitamin D is ‘low’.  Therapy levels is over 72 (I don’t know what unit they are using here), insufficent is classed as 50 – 71 and deficient is below 50.  I’m at 42.  So the GP has also prescribed me a high dose Vit D supplement.  20,000units per tablet (my multivitamin comes in at a paltry 250units and claims that’s 100% RDA) which I have to take once every 4 days for  weeks, and then a lower 1500unit tablet every day for at least 6 months.

My Chiropractor also has me on mineral supplements – Copper and Magnesium.

So from tomorrow morning i’m going to rattle!  3 steroid tablets, a stomach liner, copper, magnesium, and a Vit B or Calcium tablet (I’m not supposed to take those two together).

On the plus side I have carte blanche to eat as much cheese as I like!

All in all very positive and things seem to be moving forwards.  I’ll let you know….

Welcome to 2013

Happy New Year dear reader and friend. I hope that the next 12 months bring you joy and happiness and as little of the salt of life as we can get away with to allow us to fully enjoy and appreciate the good times.

Frankly, I’m hoping for a much better year than 2012.  Seeing as the Incas didn’t predict the end of the world, just a new beginning, i’m really hoping that 2013 signifies that new start, and I have lots and lots planned for the next 12 months.

First up, I’ve been promising pictures of this since I can remember, so here’s the lovely Cloudy Skies Cowl

Cloudy Skies Cowl

I really enjoyed this project, the rustic texture (I got used to working with 4ply or lighter so it was a pleasure to work in a thick worsted), the cable, the kitchner graft.  I love it.  I’m really pleased I was able to do this handspun justice, and it’s given me a lot of confidence to tackle some more stuff in 2013.

I’m going to be good and list out all the projects I am currently doing, and those I want to get to (health allowing) in 2013…  Deep breath and here goes…

Currently in progress…

  • Jan Sweater – this has been ongoing now since August 2011.  Which isn’t good.  Last week I finally acknowledged that the INCH difference in the hem between front and back would not ‘block out’, so despite having passed the arm shaping I took the needles out, ripped back to the 1×1 ribbing and forced myself to knit that extra inch.  Of course, that means I’ve put myself back by a goodly way, but I’ll be happier with the finished sweater, which I am determined to finish this year! (knitting)
  • Bee’s Honeymeade Shawl – I love this yarn, I love this pattern, and it’s been ongoing since October 2011.  Another one I’m determined to finish (tunisian & crochet)
  • Sunset Chameleon Blanket – given the child is due to join the population in February I really need to crack on with this don’t I?! (crochet)
  • Herbie Shawl – another one started back in 2011.  I’m really enjoying this shawl, and am about 50% done.  I find the ‘non-pattern/recipe’ formula very liberating, and much of the stalling on this is deciding what stitch pattern to use next. (knitting)

Projects I want to do / start

  • Queen of the Night Shawl – (*I think you might need to have a Ravelry account to follow that link*) I have the yarn, I have the beads, I have the pattern, but I want to know I’m pretty consistent on the hands before I start this one. (knitting)
  • The Giovannina Stole is another that I have the yarn and pattern for (since 2011) and I even bought my signature needles specifically to do this pattern. (knitting)
  • The Tranquil Hairpin Lace Tunic is pretty high on the list as well
  • Finish the samples for my Crochet 102 course – I’m about 70% done with this, so the end is in sight (making large swatches was never my thing to start with, and doing them repeatedly is dull, but thankfully it is a one time job!)
  • Make samples for other courses in the pipeline, a Crochet 103 (oh yes, boys and girls), a basic Tunisian 101 course, and a Tunisian 102, a Hairpin Lace 101 and a Broomstick Lace 101.  Of  course I need to write the material as well, and all courses will be subject to demand and uptake, but the plan is there…

Of course I have more projects than just those that I have the yarn for, ready to go, (12 to be exact) and I have several projects that I have yarn for and ideas but no set pattern (5 or 6 I think), or I have to write the pattern myself, but I  think only adding 3 official projects to my existing list is probably sensible until we can get my hands reliably fixed.

I also have my 2011 Christmas present from my brother to tackle.

Aurora Cabin Cross Stitch

Gold Collection Aurora Cabin Cross Stitch

Having never done cross stitch before, and this being 16×12 inches, I have my work cut out, but I have a frame and I’m determined to get some of  this done, this year.

So, in short I shall be challenging myself to finish at least 1 sweater, 1 blanket and 2 shawls this year.  Along with improving my tunisian, hairpin, broomstick and teaching skills.  If those go well I want to try my hand at some fairly complex cabling in knitting and in crochet – and oh, yes, I’ve got a knook to play with as well!

What do you want to achieve this year?