Monday, October 05, 2015

FO: Epistrophy Yoke Cardigan by Kate Davies

Proof, if ever it was required, that JUST KNITTING IT gets things knitted!

I have wanted to knit a Yoke by Kate Davies since the first sneak peeks of the book appeared on Kate’s blog.  
I decided to knit Epistrophy from stash, using Skein Queen Voluptuous.  I had one giant variegated green / pink skein from a club shipment, and a partial skein of plummy pink purchased from a fellow-Raveller’s destash.

However, as I started to knit, it soon became clear that I would need more yarn.  I searched Ravelry for other club members who had already used part of their green skein, and contacted the person whose lovely cowl looked the closest in colour to my sweater-in-progress.  I was very very lucky, because this lady had TWO skeins, and offered to sell me both for a bargainous price.  Thank you again, if you are reading this J

I worked on this project fairly monogamously, despite numerous distractions.
Sleeves are just as portable as socks – who knew?!  I raced up the body and the sleeves, eager to get to the colourwork.

There was a pause while I tried to remember how to steek.  Not having internet at home meant I couldn’t just look it up when I needed to. 
Eventually I took the plunge and tried to copy what I seemed to have done on Betty Jean McNeil.  Honestly?  I bodged it.
I managed to cut beyond my crocheted reinforcement, and created a lovely frayed edge. 
Just as well I had bought some of Kate’s pretty grosgrain ribbon to cover the steek on the inside!

There was another pause to obtain buttons.
Fortunately, my friend Christine was in town one day and gave me a reason to take a day off to go to the local wool shop, where we found the perfect match. 
Being sensible, she told me to buy an extra one... and serendipity struck again because I ended up with eleven buttonholes instead of the ten I aimed for.
Epistrophy by Kate Davies, in the smallest size

Yarn:  Skein Queen Voluptuous in the colours Don’t Go Outside (green) and Plumberry.
Needles:  one size smaller for the sleeves, one size bigger for the colourwork.
Other:  Buttons and ribbon, as mentioned.

It is a good fit, straight from the pattern.  I got gauge despite not doing anything to check it.

My only niggling doubt is the neckline. 
I find myself tugging the hem downwards to stop the neck from standing proud of my shoulders.  Kate’s introduction to the pattern points out that it is low and wide and straight. 

I think my colourwork is just a little too tight, causing the neckline to slide up.  I thought about using more grosgrain ribbon to reinforce the neck and shape it at the ideal low and wide level.  However, I am hoping that my yoke-knitting will relax in wear, making this unnecessary.

Of course, this means I will have a bare neck...

The good news about that is that I have plenty of green yarn left – the perfect excuse to make a matching cowl to cover the gap!

Friday, October 02, 2015

In Limbo

Don't publish without a picture, I thought.

But what sort of image do I want to present?

"Sunset over the farm" strikes me as self-dramatizing.

An unravelled sock?

Even worse!

How about a cheerily upbeat photo of my latest obsession - a crochet cardigan in neon pink and green?

A symbol of keeping calm and carrying on and storming through my days in a blazingly positive fashion forward leftfield sort of way?
Um.  Yeah.

This is what is happening (and thank you for asking):

FL's myeloma is back.
His upper left arm is peppered with lytic lesions (holes in the bone), the largest of which is 2cm in diameter.
He is lucky not to have a fracture.
This is causing excruciating pain, which the doctors at first assumed was the aftermath of shingles.
When they finally ordered xrays, the true cause was all too clear.
I'm not blaming them.  They knew that as soon as an xray showed progression of his myeloma, they would have to withdraw the super-drug (Pomalidomide).
He is having radiotherapy next week, to tackle the pain.
Then back to the hospital the week after to Consult.
So right now we are in limbo.

In other news, we still do not have an internet service at home.  BT has been singularly incompetent, but there is no other line-provider to our remote corner of the countryside, so we just have to keep plugging away at them to remind them that no, we do not yet have a broadband connection and could they please fix it?
I await attempt two to provide us with a new router.
They could not find us.  LOL
Why not follow the cable from the telephone exchange?!

I am being Restructured.
One by one members of my team are being redistributed around the organisation, to sometimes surprising places.
I do not yet know where I will end up.
My meeting with the boss has been postponed three times so far.
This is added stress which I do not need and it is very tempting to Voluntarily Sever myself.
However, I am going to wait and see what is on offer. 
You never know, it might be a Good Thing.

I have a finished object!
My Epistrophy cardigan just requires buttons and a photoshoot - woo hoo!

Always end on a positive note, Roo.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Little House in the Big Woods

We have been here before.

I had hoped to get to the top of the hill by the end of the week, but had not reckoned on how old the dog has become.  We got about a third of the way up the track when he started tripping and slipping and I realised he wasn't going to manage much further.  

So we have contented ourselves with walks along the lower paths.
Just me and the dog.

It has been a very quiet holiday indeed.

FL has been doing all the driving, which is rather nerve-wracking.

So mostly we have stayed in the cottage, enjoying the bright spacious rooms and cosy rugs.
Not to mention the broadband connection (we are still cut off at home).

FL has been working on his book.
And for me it has been time to think and dream and plan.

I started a crochet project:  simple wristwarmers from "Learn to Crochet Love to Crochet", using Cyborg's Craftroom Assparkilate Sock in the colourway "Unicorn Rainbow Glitter Fight Club".
Try explaining that name to your 80 year old husband!

Sadly, I brought the wrong size of hook and they are far too small.  I thought about adding a panel down the side, but I might just cut my losses and rip them out and start again with a different pattern.

Although it is a beautiful book, with great "how to" illustrations, this pattern (the easiest in the book) has errors in it.  That makes me wary of attempting one of the more complicated garments, however tempting they seem.

Instead, I have concentrated on knitting my Epistrophy cardigan from Kate Davies' Yokes.
I am using Skein Queen Voluptuous yarn, which is a glorious hand-painted DK:  80% Exmoor Blueface and 20% organic merino.

I had one skein of the main colour "Don't Go Outside" from a club shipment.  The plum contrast in the same base came from a fellow Raveller's destash.

And when sense prevailed and I admitted I needed a second skein of the green, I was lucky enough to find another Ravelry friend who was willing to sell me her's.

Phew!  Thank you again!

Once the sleeves were joined to the body, my cardigan ceased to be quite so portable, so I cast on a sock.

This is Clerkenwell by SpillyJane, using onion-skin-dyed Donegal sock from Gregoria Fibers. 
The beetroot contrast is Marchmont wool from The Yarn Yard, leftover from my Ad Hoc Shawl.

After the colourwork, there is a richly textured cable section. 
Unfortunately, I didn't pack my smaller needles, and the cables are looking a bit sloppy at this gauge, so I have paused.

Back to Epistrophy!

Monday, August 24, 2015

FO: Maya Dottie Angel Frock

Happy Monday!
This weekend was devoted to making my first Dottie Angel frock.
It is not the one I planned to make, because I was so in awe of my beautiful Merchant and Mills block print khadi fabric I was afraid to cut it.  Ha!
So this is the economy version.


Simplicity 1080, the Dottie Angel frock, in size XS and Marilla Walker's Maya Dress, size 2, blended together at the underarm.

Around 1.2m of fine seersuckerish cotton print from Croft Mill for the main part of the dress; perhaps 40cm of Merchant and Mills 5 oz denim (leftover from my Brumby skirt); and a repurposed linen camisole for the pockets.
Lots of black and white gingham bias binding - probably 5 metres of it.  I used it inside and outside:  on the seam between the upper and lower parts of the dress, to bind the hem, to make the apron string ties and to bind the pockets.

As noted above, I decided to mash together two patterns.  Although I liked the photos of the dress on the pattern envelope, I realised that the neckline as designed was lower, and the sleeves were scantier than I prefer.
Look, it's mostly cold here.  I am not as young as I used to be.  Um, yeah.
Also, reading reviews of the pattern by other bloggers set my alarm bells ringing.  People commented that the neck binding did not sit properly, and that the finish of the sleeve / shoulder edges stuck out awkwardly. 
So I did the sensible thing and used the upper section of my favourite pattern of 2015, the Maya dress, blending the two together at the underarm.  As it happens, size XS Simplicity and size 2 Maya matched perfectly, and being a similar pull-over style, the two can be constructed using the same methods.

The other thing that I changed was that I lowered the front tucks to sit below my bust, as other bloggers noted that they were set too high, causing an unflattering matronly bosom shape.
In my case, I dropped the point where the apron strings are attached by 2cm.


Once I decided to use Maya for the upper section, my initial scepticism faded away.  The soft drapey print was perfectly "Dottie Angel"-looking and the blue linen I scavenged for the pockets was a perfect colour match.  The gingham bias binding was serendipitous - I just happened to have it in my stash, and it worked well.
Dressed-up version with Lotta of Stockholm clogs

It was quite a lot of work, as I chose to French seam everything except the join between upper and lower skirt, which is covered on the inside with bias binding.  I am not complaining, but it was definitely a candidate for "slow sewing" rather than a quick project to rustle up in an afternoon.  It took me two full days of dedicated stitching.

Everyday version with wellies :)

Will I make another?
I almost definitely will, using the khadi block print I bought with this in mind, but maybe not until next summer.  The barley is almost ready for harvest.  It is not the right time to sew summer frocks.  I might wear this with a long-sleeved tee underneath and a warm cardigan on top, but my arms are unlikely to see the light of day again this year!

Monday, August 17, 2015

FO: The Thirty Year Old Sweater

30 years ago I knitted a Big Green Jumper.
I was in the midst of my final exams at University, living in a tiny damp cupboard in a house full of strangers.  Everyone else was coupled up, but I was traumatically single after breaking up with FL, first time around. 
It was effing cold and I needed a woolly hug.  I hadn’t touched the needles for years, but I took myself to the local yarn store and chose 3 Suisses Juniors Nr 111:  40 High-Fashion Designs that Spell Freedom and 18 balls of wool/acrylic mix “Suizasport”. 

I have searched everywhere but I can’t find a photo of that jumper, which is odd as I wore it almost constantly for about 2 years.  I know I was wearing it the day I met the father of my children for the first time.
I gave you a tour of this book when it arrived, fresh from ebay.  I threw my original copy out maybe 20 years ago, thinking it had no place in my life anymore.  But for the past decade I have longed for another Big Green Jumper like the one I knit way back then.  I remember it as being soft and warm and snuggly and comforting.  Even the business of knitting it was all of those things to me in my time of need!

Fast forward to 2015.  I had a skein and a bit of Cascade Eco Plus leftover from knitting my son’s blanket. 
I thought it might be enough for a sweater and the gauge looked close enough to recreate Design no 9955, Girl’s Jumper in Irish Moss Stitch.
I had to buy another skein to finish the sleeves, so it was less of a stash-buster than planned, but that’s OK.

OK, it’s red and not green. 
But otherwise it is pretty much the sweater of my nostalgic dreams.
The sleeves are definitely bat-winged, but as they are also slightly cropped they don’t feel ridiculously huge in wear.  
The overall shape is boxy, in that 1980’s way, but to my eye it could just as easily be a pattern from the 1950’s.  Audrey Hepburn would totally wear this sweater!
I was very tired of k1 p1 by the end of this knit.  If ever there was a candidate for Second Sleeve Syndrome, this was it. 
But I wanted the finished product, so I ploughed on (and on).
I didn’t have anything else on the needles, not even socks, so this went everywhere with me until it was done.  

Now I am ready for winter in a cold damp farmhouse.
And hopefully this time FL will be around to hug while I am wearing it.

PS These are not deliberately arty photographs - my camera loathes the colour red!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SOBOE with a Clinical Fellow

This is one for the Myeloma fans.
If you do not have a taste for blood, come back another day when I will have some sewing and / or knitting for you.
Enjoy the photos of my garden and scoot past the words :)

It was FL's regular appointment at the hospital yesterday.
Last month they ordered scans of his heart and lungs, but neither appointment has come through yet due to the length of the queue.
Meantime, he has been very tired and in significant pain and has not left the house unless I have been there to escort him out into the garden.
He spends his days sleeping until I come home from work.
If the farm labourer is around he sticks a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
He complains that the news readers on tv are no longer speaking sense (he may have a point...)

Yesterday we saw a Clinical Fellow - a job title which makes me laugh. Very PG Wodehouse!  I wonder if one has to enjoy playing cricket and boating on the river to be a "Fellow"?!
He was a Very Fine Fellow indeed :)
Concentrate Roo!

This Fellow was clearly familiar with FL's file, even though we had not seen him for about 7 years.
He listened to what FL was saying about his symptoms over the past few months, and decided to do a back to basics set of tests - blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels.  He sent FL for a couple of chest x rays - to assess the state of his ribcage and his lungs.  And he ordered a ct scan of the same area, as the queue for ct scans is shorter than the queue for mri scans.  That should happen next week sometime.

The x ray request said that FL had "increasing SOBOE", which I had to google.  It stands for "Symptoms Of Breathlessness On Exertion".  Who knew?!  I love a good acronym :)

But probably the most important thing the Fellow told us was the result of FL's last Freelite test - the measure of his Myeloma.
The basic number is now at 200 (July blood).  It was 129 in June and 148 in May.
That looks like an up and down picture until you look at the ratio between his kappa and his lambda light chains.  And the Consultant, you may recall, is all about The Ratio.
The ratio has gone from 17 to 19 to 24.

As the Fellow said:  it looks as if we have to accept that the Pomalidomide is no longer useful.

However, we left the hospital with another (final?) month's supply of the superdrug.  They also decided to try him on Gabapentin instead of Amitriptyline for the nerve pain. Because until the doctors have a clear picture of what is going on, they have nothing else to offer.

So there you have it.
Another month of waiting and sleeping and knitting and staying calm.
We got permission to rearrange the date of his interim blood test so that we can have a holiday on the West Coast.
Now that I can drive FL's car I have no excuse not to put on my big girl pants and do a long drive.  At least there are no motorways to contend with.
I just have to find a dog-friendly holiday house with no stairs, a shrubbery and comfy cushions.

Fun times!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Plotting the Thought Process

Take this pattern, View C...
Yes, that is the Dottie Angel frock, Simplicity 1080.
View C has a contrasting fabric section below the big pockets.
Cut the upper section out of this amazing khadi cotton block print from Merchant and Mills (sold out at Raystitch).
Cut the lower section out of denim.
You know what that looks like.
And the pockets out of my favourite shirt... because I think its life as a shirt may be over.

Looks like a plan to me!
But first I need to make more knickers...