Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year everyone. I'm hoping 2010 is going to be a really good year for us all.

Will write a longer post soon x

Monday, 23 November 2009

We went to the Supreme Cat Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Saturday. Luke had a fabulous time. He met the artist who draws Simon's Cat and got a book with his name and an original sketch in it from the artist. Luke was delighted and has laughed and laughed over this book.

We saw lots of different types of cats, as you'd expect. Some were more laid back than others:

some had definate signs of breeding (don't want to write in breeding in case the cat police come after me .... oops!):

and some just wanted to play (this was my favourite little cat):

Luke tried out the human sized scratching post:

and then we were well catted out. We all thought that Sparky was much more show cat than any we saw there.

I've almost finished the alphabet on Bent Creeks Blackbird Sampler. Then I get to do the 'good' bits of blackbird, house and pumpkin!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I've actually finished some cross stitch. This is 'Softly Spring' from Shepherd's Bush. I got the chart ages ago in a stack of old charts off ebay and thats the first I'd heard of Shepherd's Bush. Now I adore them. Obviously someone had used the threads etc that came with this kit so I made a DMC conversion using variations for shading. Its brighter than ones I've seen online but I adore it. I dyed the linen with coffee and its lovely and old looking.

I've also purchased some other Shepherd's Hill kits on ebay - Shepherd's Hill for me and Shepherd's Earth for Mum for Xmas. I adore the little sheep on top of Shepherd's Hill!

I'm currently stitching Blackbird Sampler by Bent Creek. I'm using the DMC threads but have mixed some (1 strand each of 2 different colours) to make the colour more like the original. You can see my progress so far below. I'm enjoying the speciality stitches. Rice stitch is just so dense though, isn't it?

And here below are the threads I've bought to do Blackbird Designs Awake the Dawning Day (chart on order from USA as we speak) and Bittersweet Moon (chart on order from UK as we speak). I'll use DMC for the colours I didn't buy.

I've been working 2 x 4 hour days per week for past 2 weeks and really struggling. The pain and exhaustion the day after my shift has been really disabling. I finally got to see a Dr at the Chronic Fatigue clinic yesterday though and he said I should cut down to 2 x 3 hour shifts twice a week with a half hour break for at least 3 weeks before increasing by an hour. I'm hoping my manager will be patient enough to stick with it. It makes me feel really despondant seeing how disabled I am compared to the other nurses. Part of me thinks that this improvement in my health won't last anyhow and it all seems a bit pointless struggling along to work but I love it when I am there and need to just keep plugging along.

I have had a 6 day reprieve from migraines which was wonderful but paid for it overnight with an absolute corker of a headache. So not much stitching got done today.

We're off to the National Cat Show on Saturday in Birmingham. We're taking Luke and his cousins. Can't wait to see all the p'ed off Ragdolls. Mike and I went years ago. Never seen anything like it. There are some real cat fanatics there with their babies. The kids are going to love it.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I made it back to work yesterday. I am just so pleased to be well enough to go back.
We had a wonderful couple of days in York. I loved it and really want to go back but without the non-shopping male part of the family.

The Merchant Adventurer's Hall

a real hornbook (they also had a horn window)

unfortunately they didn't sell these in the gift shop

rats ahoy!

I've made a little scissor fob as I kept losing my scissors and it was driving me nuts. Its based on a Bent Creek halloween design Pumpkin on the Hill - I never got round to stitching it for this year so put the Blackbird on a green Shepherds Bush inspired hill instead. Its stuffed with some wool roving so I can use it as a needle park too:

Molly has finally decided to live downstairs after 5 yrs of self imposed isolation upstairs. She is not afraid of the dog at all and spends most of her time asleep on the window sill. The living room looks like a knackers yard now though with all these pets lying round unconscious:

Luke came home from school delighted yesterday as he has been put into the top group in his class for literacy. This is such a big improvement for him and he is so pleased with himself.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

I've still been slowly improving. Really trying to take it easy some days just to make sure I don't overdo it. I'm actually going back to work next week after almost 6 months off! I'll go back to my job as a chemotherapy nurse and build up to working 12 hrs per week. I've reduced my contracted hours from 18 per week as really want to make sure I don't go sick if possible. I'm SO pleased to be doing the job I've done for almost 20 years and love.

I actually managed to take Luke to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London yesterday. Mike dropped us outside as he was working nearby. We spent an hour in the British gallery looking at Tudor/ Jacobean furniture, clothes, wall hangings etc. Luke had interactive activities to do on computer terminals scattered about. It was great but we'd both had enough after an hour. We headed down the road to McD's for lunch and then went to Harrod's to look at the Food Hall. Unfortunately Luke couldn't stand the smell in the main hall (very cheesy as they have a huge cheese counter) so we retreated to the in store ice cream parlor where Luke had the most enormous hot fudge sundae.

We then wandered back to the museum and sat in the lovely autumn sun until Mike collected us. I was knackered when we got home and really hurt all over today but boy was it worth it.

Today I'm doing as little as possible. We are going to see my friend Mandy tomorrow (yay!) and then going onto York - saying I'm looking forward to it is an understatement. Luke has just done Tudors at school so we're going to the Barley Hall and the Viking museum then to DIG and the Merchant Adventurers Hall.

I've been doing some stitching on Oriental Harem Garden (onto part 2). This is going to be a long term project as it takes ages but I'm enjoying it:

I'm also stitching Quaker Six Mains, a freebie from A mon ami Pierre, on 25ct linen. I'm doing it in very muted colours and using small silvered beads for the eyes and flower centres:

I also received the chart for 'The industrious bee sampler' in the post from USA today. I saw the one that Becky had finished on her blog and loved it. So its in the queue.

I'm hoping to start Shepherd's Bush Finch Song next. I want to get lots of smaller ones done so I can cover a wall in the hallway with them

I've done no knitting or spinning this week. I've got some Pigeonroof studios roving which is calling to me loudly though.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I've got some fab news and I'm hoping I don't jinx it by putting it on here - I'm starting to feel better! I'm so hoping its not a flash in the pan and I go back to zero again. My muscle and joint pain is reduced and so is the fatigue. I was awfully ill with the flu and have just seemed to get better and better recovering from it. I don't know whether the flu bug has kick started my immune system properly or something.

But anyhow, I've been spinning (!), some soft singles from Lakehouse Loft:

and doing cross stitch on my new slate frame ..... yes, its bloody enormous, 40" wide to be exact but its good. Took a bit of getting used to but now I am its great. Just bloody enormous. Its handmade from beech by a bloke on ebay

so after I bought this, I found another frame listed in a totally random section of ebay and put a ridiculously low bid of £2.99 in for it - and won it. Its 24" so I now own 2 needlework frames.

Sparky is getting his winter coat and has had an inexpert trouser trim by Mum. I do wonder if we run a pet hotel sometimes.
There really is no need for this kind of behaviour, is there?

I've bought some fabric and floss to make a start on this Quaker sampler too. I don't think I'll make it so big. I've chosen pale blue, grey, lavender, ecru colours. Its a free pattern which is nice.

I've been searching ebay for Lego - Luke is really into castle Lego at the moment and I've managed to get him 5 new knights and 12 armoured war horses so far. I hope the little ratbag is still into castle lego by his birthday. His best friend is having his birthday party soon at Laserquest, which they specially chose for Luke (he feels quite awkward in company but they know he loves laserquest). How nice and thoughtful was that?

anyway, I'd better go and get stitching. I've decided to leave the weaving until I'm a lot better and put my loom away so it doesn't look at me.

Friday, 25 September 2009

I'm knitting socks with wool/ nylon mix to see if they hold up better than the pure wool ones I've made which wear through the foot within weeks. Its just going to be a mindless, plain sock using Kangaroo Dyer yarn. I love this yarn and are pleased with it so far. Will take photos when past the toe ;0)

I've started my 'Oriental Harem Mandala Garden' cross stitch from Chatelaine Designs and are really enjoying it. This is progress so far:

I posted Mum's birthday present to her, a Milkweed Shawl made with MadTosh sock yarn. She was delighted (!!) and I really enjoyed knitting it. The yarn was lovely too and blocked out really well.

we're all over the dreaded swine flu and Luke even managed to dodge the bullet. It was horrible proper flu too. nothing worse. The cats were delighted that we were both in bed for an overlapping period of about 10 days. I've been exhausted today and just slept all day. Haven't had a migraine for 5 days though which is great considering I've had them almost daily for last 5 weeks, really horrible ones.

We had to take one of the cats to the vets and then the dog next day (flea allergy and sore leg). Just what you need with flu. Our window cleaner says he's just going to paint a plague cross on the door and avoid me as someone is always sick in our house (usually me though)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

o i n k.
f l u k i l l i n g m e
s e n d b u z z b a r s

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Mike has probable swine flu and is horrendously unwell with it. I haven't seen him so ill since he had his stem cell transplant in '95. Luckily I'm feeling a bit better last few days. Migraines have slowed down again thank g-d so I was able to go and get some anti-viral capsules for him.

It was very easy to arrange this - I just filled in a form on the internet and got a special code to give to the pharmacist. Despite this I still had to ring the GP as he lost his spleen in a motorbike accident in 2000 and I needed to check whether they wanted him to have a course of antibiotics to stop his chest flaring. But they didn't.

Rosie has been so good. She has been up lying on the bed with him and been really quiet and still. She realises Dad is sick 'cause she would usually be bouncing round like a loon on the bed. Cats couldn't care less.

I really really hope that Luke and I don't get it. I had real flu in early '90's when I was a student nurse and it was awful. I had a temperature over 40 degrees celcius and was delerious for 3 days. All by myself in a student room - I can vaguely remember the GP coming to see me and nothing else. Thank god for the friends that must have looked after me.

So I may disappear for a while. Take care.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I on the up again. Just out of bed after another bad migraine and busy as a bee trying to spend the whole day doing craftwork!
I really don't know why my head has kicked off again big time. The cats are delighted though to have the electric blanket on full time.

I've finished Mum's Milkweed Shawl and will block it later once cat removes itself from back bed (well, you can't just shift them, can you? imagine the black looks!)

I started knitting a doily last week. Even my Mum laughed out loud at me. Its a Herbert Niebling pattern called Loewenzahn which should be knit with crochet cotton but I'm using cream Sirdar Calico which is a DK weight cotton/ acrylic. Its a lovely fibre to knit with and is so soft. No idea what I'm going to do with it - think I will knit whole doily pattern and add to it to make it bigger for a lap blanket (or cat blanket more likely)

I also came across a gorgeous cross stitch designer called Martina Weber of Chatelaine Designs. I was looking for Persian tile designs to convert to fair isle for my planned handspun vest but got side tracked. She does the most wonderful Garden Mandalas. I've bought the chart to Oriental Harem Garden and spent the morning looking for the threads etc. The design has lots of beads on it so it will really sparkle.
The only problem is that its 27 inches square. Yes, 80 cm square. Why I didn't check the size I'll never know but its so gorgeous it will be worth it. A lifes work I think!

Luke has gone happily bobbing off to first day back at school this morning.
He has been given the hard word about behaving himself and not refusing to work. He sometimes point blank refuses to do things 'as thats not going to help me be an engineer or to earn money'.
I can see his point (which I don't let him know obviously) but he's got to learn not to be so stubborn. As his head teacher says 'if he makes 18 without one of us strangling him he will be a wonderful man'

If he misbehaves, first he will have me going to school with him. Then Grandma if I'm too soft. Then Nana, ex- head teacher for hard line schooling. (well, thats what I've told him. I think he knows deep down that Nana is a lot nicer than that!)
He knows I'm not joking either.

And I still haven't posted Maeva's May birthday present. I keep adding things to it. I may just post it in parts.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

I've had 8 migraines in the past 12 days, some of them incredibly horrendous.
Psychologically I've been fine, just taking it as it comes, spending time with family, spinning, knitting, weaving in small blocks of time I am well enough to.
Until this morning. Luke has gone to see his sponsor donkey. Grandma pays for him to sponsor Choccy who lives at a rescue centre. Luke ADORES this animal and today its his birthday party to which we go every year.
But I've got a cracking headache from yesterdays migraine. Whats worse is that I'm too scared to go as can't face getting another migraine while there. I feel distraught hearing Luke all excited about going somewhere and not being able to share it with him.
And one of my best friends has moved 2 hours away and needs support. And I'm as much use as a chocolate fireguard to her.
I feel a pathetic shell of the person I was.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Its been lovely having Luke off for the summer holidays. He is such a noisy bundle of fun. I haven't had much time to do any fibre stuff but I'm almost finished the Milkweed shawl, have resucitated a half knitted cardigan I found in the dresser and have spun some of the lovely merino/ silk peony fibre I got from FreckleFace Fibers on etsy. I made it to my spinning guild group on Saturday and it was just so nice to be out chatting in the sun about fibre etc. I love the ladies in our group and it really lifts my spirits to go for days afterwards.

I've actually almost got Maeva's 40th birthday present ready to post. I'm just not sure how I'm going to ship it all. Sparky is determined to go as well!

We took Luke quad biking. Luke doesn't like motorbikes at all but it was Mike's idea. We had a 2.5 hr drive to get there. Luke went 50 yards, fell off and refused to get on again. So that was a bit of a unfortunate event. But we went to the beach (I use the term 'beach' very loosely - Eastbourne is mainly pebbles, not sand) and had fish and chips on the Victorian pier.

We also took Luke to the fossil beach near Lyme Regis. The boys had a great time. I mooched around near the car as I couldn't keep up with them but it was nice to be out. I was almost in tears on the way back as I'd well overdone it and was in such pain and felt like I had bad flu. thank goodness Mike is so kind and understanding.

Luke's vegetables are growing OK, except for his pumpkins which are rotting as its rained so much. We did find this massive slug though. I've never seen anything like it!

This chronic fatigue is kicking my butt. I have about 2 days of feeling about 60% ok and then have about 5 days of being totally exhausted and in extreme muscle and joint pain. These days I can't knit or spin as I hurt too much. That really frustrates me.

And then I have 1 - 3 migraines during the week just to keep me on my toes. Luke went to stay with Grandma's last week so Mike and I could have some quality time together. I had a really, really bad migraine for the whole time he was away. I was not very happy about this!

Not sure what to do about a specialist. the local one is on long term sick leave and I really don't know if its worth chasing to see anyone.. As far as I can tell, no one is particulary interested and there is not much the medics can actually do apart from advise on pacing yourself.
I've started taking Vitamin D as there is some evidence it helps with chronic pain. I did have to laugh when I received the bottle of capsules though - the Vit. D is extracted from wool oil! Even Mike laughed.

I did discuss with Mike the option of me moving out for 6 months to a little flat nearby to give him a break from me and my constant ills but he wasn't having it. I do feel guilty about what its doing to his quality of life.

Saying that, at present there is a really happy little 9 yr old boy sat on the floor in front of me making a massive lego model with the money he received as holiday pay (I am too ill for us to go away so I split what I'd saved for a holiday into thirds and we all got it to spend on whatever we want).

I accidently won a 32" Ashford rigid heddle loom on Ebay so thats was my treat - I put in a low bid and thought I'd never win it but did! (I think it was because it was pick up only). I've only got as far as looking at it. How the hell do I think I'm going to learn to weave when I can't even find enough pain free time to knit and spin?

Friday, 17 July 2009

take one piece of freshly washed and dried Romney fleece, add one pesky Ragdoll cat and it = ultimate comfort. Bloody animal. I'll have to make him a nice bed for the winter with some now.

I've started knitting the Milkweed shawl and are really enjoying it so far. Its a really well written pattern. The MadTosh sock is lovely to work with too:

I bought some fabulous green sock yarn to make another one. Its from Saffron Dyeworks and is really beautifully coloured:

Generally I've done not much more than sleep this week. The pain is more under control. I managed to get to Luke's sports day which was most important. I also managed to win an auction on ebay for 39 Yu Gi Oh magazines for a tenner! so that will keep him busy over the summer holidays.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I've finally finished my little cabled handbag made using Pigeonroof Studios Romney. I adore the colours so much. Making the i-cord strap went really easily too:

I haven't done any TdF spinning today yet but may have a crack at my singles again later. I've stroked my lovely lemon batt if that counts?

I've joined a knit-a-long to make this shawl called Milkweed. The KAL is being run on The Backwards Loop Ravelry group. I will be using Madeleine Tosh Sock yarn in the Home colourway which I bought months ago. Its really yummy soft yarn.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

a new batt - its only 1oz but I've used handdyed lemon BFL, white BFL, gold merino, silk and sparkle. Have another 5oz of the mixture to make more batts up with:

I was stroking Sparky this morning. He has a bit of a love relationship with my floofy pink dressing gown so was in a blissful state. This is the face of a jealous hound. She did cheer up somewhat when Grandma turned up and took her out to the Ridgeway for an hour:

I'm really enjoying watching the TdF this year. Exciting speed trials today. They are dropping like flies. I am still sore, still tired but cheerier today. (big hugs Lynette - you are such a good friend, but you could have shot me with the Tirau dump rats when we were 14 and put me out of my misery then. Vache.)

Luke got a swimming badge on Saturday and I've sewn it to his blanket. As he doesn't go to Scouts he hasn't got many chances to earn any more. I've bought him some Star Wars ones off ebay but if anyone has any fabric badges hanging around that they don't want let me know!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Here's todays and yesterdays efforts for Tour de Fleece. On Saturday I made my first batt (!) and yesterday evening pulled it into roving and tried to learn how to spin low twist singles.

I carried on a bit today but are not making much progress yet. They keep breaking off the bobbin and driving me nuts. Just need more practice I guess.

Really really frustrated with my health. Have been SO exhausted and aching yesterday and today after feeling OK on Saturday.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

I had a crack at sorting out my Romney fleece today ...

look mum, my fleece is better ...

this is before the first soak. it came out really clean except for some of the tips
its currently sandwiched between some net curtain and drying on the trampoline

Friday, 3 July 2009

I received a very big box from the USA the other day - a Strauch Petite drumcarder!!! Mike sold one of his motorbikes and bought it for me. I was so knackered the day it arrived that I undid the parcel, looked in the box, squealed and went straight back to bed lol! I had a very happy companion assisting me though:

I haven't used it yet. Just admired it and thought about what I want to card on it first. Sparky is running scared though just in case he is first through it! Here's a photo of him running scared:

I've dyed up a big vat of cheviot, merino and merino silk in a chocolate colour to use in the carder. The cheviot was grey, the merino was chestnut and the merino silk was a yucky pinky brown from a previous dyeing experiment. They've all come up ok and are currently drying on the trampoline:

they are not as red as in the photo. more a milk chocolate colour. mixed from purple and orange.

I managed to get to Woolfest last week. I didn't really feel strong enough to go but Mike said on the Friday night that we were going anyway even if I only spent 10 minutes there. He knows how gutted I was that I couldn't go last year due to migraines. He is a keeper.
So we left at 5am on Saturday morning and got there at 10am. Luke loved the scenery through the Lake district. He couldn't believe how big the hills were.
Woolfest was fabulous. Luke loved seeing the animals especially the rabbits. I felt really rough and had to sit down every 5 minutes but managed to buy 2 beautiful turquoise braids of superwash BFL from Fyberspates, some bunny fur and some commercially dyed merino.
I met some of the wonderful girls from Ravelry which really made my day.
We stayed 2 hours and then drove 5 hours home again.

here is the hard evidence that I win as the slowest knitter in the world. This bag is approx. 6 inches wide and it took me most of a day to knit the stockinette part at the top! Luckily I adore the colours so can live knitting them for ages:

Generally I have been exhausted this week and then have had a migraine the past 2 days. Its killing me being so tired as I am desperate to wash and dry my Romney fleece while the weather is so good.
My roses in the garden are looking fabulous. Luke's pumpkins, tomatoes and sunflowers are also growing well. I love summer!