Monday, January 28, 2008
The yarn which Claudia so generously sent was quite a bit darker than the original skein, but working in alternate rows it blended in really well.
The stats: Clessidra from Knitty. Wollmeise superwash merino, in Veilchen (Violets) one full skein plus a few more grams. 2.25mm needles. I broke two Lantern Moon ebony needles in the course of this project. I also splintered a Brittany birch needle. In summary: I would advise you use metal needles!
I love the stitch patterns used, but the hourglass cables make my calves look rather more curvaceous that I would like! I shortened the leg slightly and I think this adds to the chubby effect. The seed stitch heel is a bit baggy. I have noticed other knitters complaining about this too.
The Wollmeise yarn is beautifully dyed but I am not sure I like the matte texture of the yarn itself. It is more like cotton than wool. It was quite splitty, but that was partly due to the needles used. I would be really interested to try out her new wool / nylon mix sock yarn.
In summary: I would not knit them again but I'm glad I did!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Anyway, I hadn’t bought any yarn yet this year... until today. It was a bad morning. I have had an unreasonable yearning for a multi-pack of self-striping (not fair-isle-style) German sock yarn. I probably compared two packs a dozen times yesterday. So today I made my selection. Each pair of socks will cost less than £5 to knit and I love all the colourways: turquoise with orange, purple with yellow - real stunners! 8 in the pack. That’s a lot of socks! But there are 4 of us in the family, so 2 pairs each doesn’t seem ridiculous, does it? I can even tell you who will get which colours...
In the meantime I have been collecting sock-knitting patterns. So that I can attack the stash with a full armoury. Digitessa and Fratello from Yarnissima have both been purchased. Spina da Pesce will probably follow shortly – I love the detail of these patterns!
And I bought a book of hat patterns from Woolly Wormhead. I see this as an investment in gift knitting. My cousin’s teenage daughter sent me a thank you note that made me smile. I sent her an Elf hat for Christmas and she sent me a note that read: “Thank you for the present. I have a PASSION for hats and my friends all agree that this is the one that suits me best.” Well, sweet girl, I have a PASSION for knitting, so stand by for many more crazy hats! (I wonder is she likes socks too?!)
So much for resolutions. But therapy is a wonderful thing.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Followed by the "on the needles" shot from last night. At the top of the photo is the base triangle. The ribbing at the right is the waistband, and the section to the left of that is one of the triplet of triangles that form the side and right front of the garment. Got it? It is really hard to explain!
The real colour is somewhere between these two pictures. It's lovely!
And last but definitely not least: extra yarn for my Clessidra socks! But Claudia, the Wollmeise, has really taken customer service to a whole new level. Not only did she send me the yarn free of charge (a whole skein of Wollmeise superwash merino FREE!) but she didn't charge me shipping, AND threw in a bag of sweets and a mini sampler skein of worsted (colour "Suzanne"). If you look carefully you might see that her paper bag is printed with knitting terms in English and Gewrman - even the bag is useful! I described her customer service as having a "cherry on top" - I was wrong. This is a kirsch-soaked dark chocolate-covered cherry! Thank you SO much Claudia! I must finish Clessidra this weekend.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The good news is that Claudia found a match for the Veilchen yarn which ran out on my Clessidra knee-highs – hooray! She is only charging me for the postage – double hooray! That is what I call customer service with a cherry on top!
The medium-bad knitting news is that I started a pair of socks from the stash, using yarn randomly selected by my daughter. She chose the fabulous PigeonroofStudios sportweight in Nightshade. I decided to use the “Whitby” pattern from “Knitting on the Road”. All was looking good for the first few inches. Then I realised there was a major pooling issue. This yarn looked speckledy, maybe splotchy, but definitely did not look like a candidate for pooling. The back section looked fine – plain ribbing in shades of taupe / mauve with the occasional flash of blue. But the front was a disaster. The stitch pattern was almost invisible in a great big muddy puddle of mess. Then I tried it on and it was too tight (51 stitches on 2.75mm needles). So I ripped it out. Monday gone.
The bad news.... in the Waiting Room, I had the pattern for Manon and a ball of plant-dyed aran-weight wool. The third set of needles I tried got me gauge. I knitted and I knitted and was very proud of the first 31 rows of the triangular centre back peplum section. Until I realised that there were more stitches to the left of the central cable than to the right. So I started undoing my work row by painful row. I saw the old lady opposite watching me. After about half an hour of unpicking and counting I took the needles out and riiiipppppppppped! “That’s why I crochet!” she remarked. “Only one stitch at a time, and it doesn’t matter if you drop it.” Mutter.
That evening, I started again and got to row 31, counting my stitches on every row. And guess what? Yes. I had the right number of stitches, but they weren’t evenly balanced on either side of the cable. “Didn’t you use stitchmarkers?” asked FL. Splutter! Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip! Tuesday gone.
So yesterday evening I tried again. And I re-read the instructions. "Keeping one stitch in stocking stitch on either side, work the chart". So I counted the number of stitches on the chart and the number of stitches on my needles. Oh. What it meant was: there are two stitches on your needles that are not on the chart, one at either end. WHY?! As a knitting designer (stop laughing at me) I would expect to chart the whole piece - not leave off one stitch at either end of the row, that's just crazy!
I now have a perfect knitted triangle. Pictures will follow.
FL had a very bad day yesterday. After the anaesthetic wore off, the site of his bone marrow sample was extremely painful. I got home to find him lying flat out in bed with a grey face. "How many painkillers have you taken?" I asked. "Painkillers? I haven't taken anything! I didn't think of that!" WHAT?! "Well it didn't hurt last time, so I though there was something terribly wrong with me and I wanted to monitor it..." EH?! "The reason it didn't hurt last time was that you were on enough morphine to knock out an elephant!" "Really?"
Oxycodone administered. Pain relief obtained. Sigh.
This morning, he is bright and perky again, planning an assault on his store of Super 8 home movies. We are going to have the "important" ones copied onto dvd. Lots of reminiscing. Most of them are from before my time, but I am looking forward (with trepidation) to viewing a film of my teenage self singing in a school production of "The King and I" in 1970-something. I feel old!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Yesterday's hospital appointment went on for hours and hours. Valuable knitting time - but I will tell you about that another time!
We were seen by a Registrar which meant she had to relay our questions to the Consultant and then report back. This was unfortunate, as we knew this was an "important" appointment in terms of FL's long term treatment plan. So there was a bit of a muddle - "chinese whispers" - when she forgot to relay a section of the information to us. So she told us a decision had to be made about whether or not he was to come off chemo, and went off to ask the Consultant. She came back with the news that they needed to take a bone marrow sample, and didn't mention a chemo decision. And handed us a "quality of life" questionaire to be completed while he waited for the perapetic drilling-woman. 4 pages of questions about self-esteem and bowel movements. Lovely. Meantime, she forgot to shut down the computer screen so I was able to read his Free Light Chain results and saw that his ratio had fallen again from 1.44 to 1.31 between October and December. If you remember, the previous doctor told us that if his levels fell again, he would have to stay on the chemo to the end of the 9 month series.
Then there was a bone marrow sampling pantomime when the hugely-pregnant drilling-woman could not squeeze past the trolley and the couch to reach FL and I had to be asked to leave the room and take my chair with me, to make space! However, I came back in because FL had no idea what was going on (lying on his good ear!) and the drilling-woman had a very strong accent. Drilling-woman was worried I might faint, but I explained I had sat through this before and he needed me there. Just as well, as he kept misunderstanding her and tried to get off the couch while it was still elevated! She kept giving me sidelong glances to check I was still upright. I felt like saying "Listen honey, nothing phases me now, just shut up and drill!" but that would have been really nasty!
Anyway, sample taken, the Registrar reappeared and handed us a prescription for thalidomide. Errr... what's going on? Turns out that he had been randomly selected for maintenance tratement. Oh - so he is off the chemo? "Yes." Please explain the grounds for the decision? "He has reached a plateau." Hmmm. Depends how you plot your graph I suppose! Purpose of the bone marrow sample? "To measure the active disease left in his plasma after the chemo". When will we get the result? "Ask your GP in a couple of weeks" What will it mean? "Errrr........." Never mind.
By this time it was 3.30pm and there was nobody left in the clinic and my son was on the mobile phone in a panic about transport to his music lesson. So I trotted down to Pharmacy to get the drugs.... only to be told they needed authorisation to release them. Back to the clinic, and they had to page the Registrar to come back and sort it out - involving a phone call to Leeds (centre of the drug trial) and one to the drug company with a new reference number. Home with 5 minutes to spare before my son had to be driven 7 miles to music!
So... although we are very happy to have seen the end of the chemo, I have a niggling fear that their idea of a "plateau" is not mine. That one more zap might have been a good idea. Although I suppose he DID have that between December and now... hmmm. But we are definitely pleased to have been granted maintenance treatment. So.... fingers crossed. Await bone marrow results - realistically next month at the hospital. Hope the MM stays quiet for as long as possible.
Meantime, lots of good food and the occasional drink, plan our holiday, FL's golf and my knitting.
But don't talk to me about yesterday's knitting. I'll blog about it tomorrow when I've calmed down a bit!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
West Country Hot Pot
Adapted from the “Food For Thought Cookbook”.
1 ½ cups of butterbeans, soaked overnight, boiled for 1 ½ hours (or tinned beans)
(If you can get Judions, giant Spanish butter beans, so much the better – but I haven’t been able to find these outside of London)
1 teaspoon each: English mustard powder, paprika and ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 rounded dessertspoon butter (or margarine)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 rounded dessertspoon cornflour
Large pinch of thyme
1/2 pint (300ml) medium sweet cider
2 medium courgettes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
2 leeks, cut into bite-sized pieces
(You could use other veg, but this combination works for me.)
Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until golden. Add the spices and cornflour and stir briskly to avoid sticking. Gradually add the cider, stirring continuously, to form a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil briefly and add the cooked beans, thyme and raw leeks. Reduce to a simmer.
Stir-fry the courgettes to lightly colour but leave quite crisp. Add to the simmering beans.
Steam the cauliflower ( put it in the sauté pan with a few spoons of boiling water for about ten mins) until al dente. Add to the simmering beans. Stir gently to avoid mashing the beans.
Allow to cook together for about 5-10 minutes so the flavours blend.
Serve with home-made bread!
Monday, January 14, 2008
I also knitted long and hard on my Clessidra knee-highs. Too long. Because I am going to run out of yarn – noooooooo! I have 48 rounds left to knit… and just a few grams of yarn. Hand-dyed, one-of-a kind yarn from Germany. I have emailed the Wollmeise to see if she can sell me a small ball to match – even if she can supply it, I will have to use the two balls row-about to minimise the effect of the join and there will be a stripe. After all those hours of neat, perfect knitting! I might have to rip back the first sock and make both with contrasting toes. It never once occurred to me that I might run out of yarn in this project – I had 150g of thin yarn! Sniffle.
And to prove that people wear the things I knit… here is FL in his Golf Stockings and Koolhaas hat. No fear of him being shot in the woods with a hat that colour! He managed two 18-hole rounds of golf this weekend without ill effects. He has phased out all his painkillers. Now all we need to hear is that he can stop the chemo. Tomorrow.
Friday, January 11, 2008
I've never been to St Andrews before.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
We have found it really hard to make plans. Not knowing how his treatment will go, and now not knowing whether its good work will last. We are back at the hospital next Tuesday, and he will learn then whether or not he has taken his last chemo pills for this clinical trial, or if he has one more month to go. And whether or not he has been randomly selected to receive maintenance treatment or not. If not, it is the big scary world of drug-free living until the MM comes back. Which could be very soon …or not very soon, but will definitely happen one day.
Summer is too far ahead to book a holiday – who knows what will be happening by then in the not-so-wonderful world of Multiple Myeloma! The kids are away at Easter so we can go somewhere that suits just the two of us, i.e. in the middle of nowhere!
FL wanted to go to Greece. I wanted to go to Iceland. But he doesn’t qualify for holiday cancellation insurance, never mind travel insurance, so its Scotland for us! This is quite a relief. If anything untoward occurs, I can drive us home and I can speak the language. And the western highlands have become our special place. I can imagine my children’s children’s children tracing their family tree and wondering why we married in Skye. And the reason is really that it feels like coming home for both of us when we arrive on the west coast. I would like to move there one day. Once the kids have left home and FL has... gone. I just hope I don’t get there too soon.
Andre, our virtual MM-blogging “friend” has written a lot recently about seizing the moment before its gone forever. As has Annie. Our marriage is the fulfilment of a long-held promise, but is also in recognition of how short a time we may have left together. It doesn’t matter anymore what other people think about the gap in age between us, or our history. It’s just him and me, grabbing onto our love while we have the chance. Before he dies. Of course, who’s to say it won’t be me who is hit by a bus?! That’s the thing – we know that our time together is limited, so we have to make the most of it, right now. There’s no time to waste! So many places to see, so many kisses, so little time!
Monday, January 07, 2008
Since finishing these I have been working on my second Clessidra sock. I completed the first one several months ago and either my memory was playing tricks, or my skills have improved in that time, as I am finding this quite a straightforward knit! I hope to finish it next weekend, ready to cast on something new for my next waiting room session.
Friday, January 04, 2008
The yarn is Unique Sheep "permanently mothproofed" sportweight, merino superwash. Lovely and soft, with a faint smell of eucalyptus. The colours are well-represented in the photo, a beautiful frosty forest full of spruce greens. Also in the package: a copper stitchmarker, two sachets of gourmet cider (definitely what I will need tonight when I get home from work in the blizzard!), some cinnamon sticks, 4 fir tree sweeties, and a
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Just before Christmas I ordered some plant-dyed wool from Knitting4Fun, in the Violet colourway, ready to cast on for Manon from Norah Gaughan Vol.1. I am really looking forward to this – a full-sized garment with new techniques to master and exciting yarn to play with.