Saturday, 3 January 2015

Waddling into the new year

Happy new year and best wishes for 2015. I don't go back to work until Wednesday so I still feel a bit like I am on holiday. However I'm conscious that the couple of weeks off have not been very good for me.  I weighed myself as I still try to do every few weeks since our diet in 2014, and I've put on six pounds (over 3 kilos) after all the good (bad) eating in December.  Time to cut back but it's hard to do until DS goes back to uni in a week because he keeps wanting sweets and biscuits in the house and we have no willpower. At least we have finally eaten our way through all the Christmas food and chocolate.

The other bad habits I have fallen back into, are staying up and sleeping in really late. I've been galloping through the Game of Thrones series catch-up which was screened on Sky Atlantic over the holiday, watching three or four episodes a night while I knit.  I'd only seen series one before  we switched away from Sky a few years ago and lost access to Sky Atlantic.  I'm now midway through series three and really enjoying it. Although I'm trying not to get too attached to any of the characters because DS (who has read the books) has warned me that the author likes to kill off his main characters.  No spoilers please.

I've also become re-hooked on my son's video game 'Skyrim' on our ancient Xbox 360. I started a new character who mainly uses magic, which makes it quite a different playing experience from my previous character who was a walking  tank.  So a typical holiday day has been getting up at 9 or 9:30am, doing a bit of work during the day then settling down to Skyrim for a few hours in the afternoon before spending the evening watching Game of Thrones and going to bed around 1am. No wonder I've put on six pounds!  I need to phase back in early mornings to get ready for the 6:30am start on Wednesday, groan.

I went to the doctor again about my wrist, and we now think it's actually Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Which is a heck of a lot better than rheumatoid arthritis.  I've got to have a nerve conduction test at the hospital before they can decide treatment - apparently you start with a steroid injection and if that doesn't work then surgery.  Meanwhile I've discovered that if I sleep with a brace on my right hand, it reduces the severity of the symptoms considerably.  So I'm back to lots of knitting, hurrah!

New year's resolutions

Do you make resolutions?  And do you follow through with them?  I rarely make them, but I was thinking about it today because I was listening to some podcasts while I was quilting and they were all talking about plans for 2015.  Obviously we need to keep working on the house, but I think this year I would like to learn to take better pictures for my blog.  Generally when I finish something, I just want to quickly snap a photo to make it official and it isn't until later that I notice all the wrinkles in the item, the distracting background, the shadows, bad lighting, blurs etc.  I've been reading articles online about photographing knits, they all bang on about using natural light without giving much real advice on how to do that in grey rainy England when typically you are photographing things indoors.  Also they advise to use neutral or white backgrounds, with side light. We don't have any empty walls that have a window to the side of them. For smaller items like dollshouse miniatures, it looks like good advice to create a homemade 'light tent' to give diffuse light so I might have a go at that.

This could also be the year we both look for new jobs with shorter commutes, now that we are settled in the new house. I still need to lose some more weight (plus I need to lose the extra six pounds!).  And I want to use up stash in all my hobbies over the next few years, either making it into things, selling it, or giving it away.  A house move really focuses the mind on how much stuff one has, and as a natural hoarder I have a lot of things 'just in case' that realistically I am never going to use or that aren't even my taste. Our new garden needs a complete redesign, and while we can't afford to have any professional work done, we could do a lot ourselves once I work out what I want it to look like. So lots to look forward to in 2015.


I finished my Itineris Shawl early in the week.  It's such a simple design yet fairly effective even though my two yarns have low contrast. However, I was on the home stretch of the side border before I suddenly realised that I've been doing the stripe pattern wrong the whole time.  I thought it was 'six fat stripes, six skinny stripes' when actually I should have been knitting 'seven fat stripes and five skinny stripes'. It's probably a good thing though because I ran out of the Socks That Rock yarn an inch before the end tip, and had to go back and change some fat stripes to thin stripes to introduce more contrast yarn.  If I had been knitting seven fat stripes I would have run out much earlier. The shawl, being garter stitch, has quite a heft to it and is fairly warm, while the side border helps reduce the 'giant arrow pointing at my bum' effect of a triangular shawl.

I've started a new cabled cardigan by Debbie Bliss, using her Eco cotton yarn in dusty pink from my stash and a pattern from her Eco Fairtrade Collection book. I bought the yarn years ago when she spoke at the I-Knit Weekender event in London.  The I-Knit shop took a break from events for a few years but has now announced the 'I-Knit Fandango' weekend 15-16 May in London, I've booked my ticket already.  The Weekender used to be a nice event, a good size yet with a really friendly hang-out feel. Anyway, I'm enjoying knitting with this Aran weight yarn after the sock yarn shawl.

I've done some more quilting and finished the final two blocks for my Star Sampler quilt.  These are the Indian Hatchet design. I still feel really out of practice though, nothing is very precise and I'm having to deal with lots of floating points plus a few cut off points.

This means that all the blocks are pieced now and I just need join them together and fill in the inner and outer borders in the same background fabric.

I also made a basic sewing machine cover for my Janome 6500 because it's never had one. I used some fabric that's been in my stash for ages because it was too good to use on other things. I had some leftover dotty strip from the binding, so I made it into a fabric rosette as an embellishment.

I'm  trying to re-learn how to machine knit, a very frustrating process.  It's terrible knowing that you used to be quite good at something, but now you are fumbling the most basic techniques.  I sat in front of the Brother 881 and worked my way through the manual, trying out various things. I ran into an immediate problem with my carriage which has gummed up, meaning one of the cams doesn't want to relax from KC back to normal knitting.  It took me about 30 or 40 minutes to work out why my carriage was repeatedly jamming and now I still have to take it off the rail and push the cam open with my finger when I switch from patterning to normal knitting.  I've put some oil on it so hopefully it will loosen up. This equipment is probably 40 years old or more now so it's all wearing out.

So I'm starting with a basic baby's cardigan with a picked up picot hem, just to practice the basic techniques like casting on, decreasing, picking up stitches, knitting on bands etc.  It took me two attempts to make the picot hem but I managed to finish the back today. I'm using a Forsell Superwash wool 4-ply in fuschia pink.


There's a new antiques centre opened up in town, which we stumbled across on a New Year's Eve afternoon walk.  I picked up some very cheap vases and a bowl, and some lovely chintzy plates. Then I spotted this amazing beaded embroidery, very Victorian in style although I'm not sure how old it is.

Everything that isn't green in the design is actually beads.  Most of it is in quite good condition, but some of the threads are broken and I will need to repair it. An amazing piece of work. I wonder what talented woman stitched it in years past?

I'm not sure if we will use it on a mantle or I might use it in my bedroom once it is repaired.

With best wishes to you and yours in 2015.


Mad about Craft said...

Beautiful beadwork!

I am also in the bad habit of late mornings, late nights.

Daisy said...

Happy New Year! I've found the MapMyWalk app quite useful - had it for four months now and it does motivate me to go out and do some exercise (you get a weekly summary of what you've done). Not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow...

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