Last Makes of 2016

Final bits and pieces that I’ve not blogged about yet just to have it all recorded!

I made two final sock sacks for my sister for Christmas at her request. Again these were stash fabrics, but I did have to buy zips and found a really reasonably priced bundle of about 25 zips on Ebay that will keep me going for a while (I ordered 12″ zips as you can cut them down but can’t make them longer!).

Sock SackSock SackNext up I made a sack. I knew from the pattern (it’s a Butterick but I don’t know the number as I chucked it in the pile to get rid of when I finished this project) that it was going to be a bit shapeless, and actually I wanted it to be a bit big and loose. What I forget when I make things like this is that I’m not 5 inches taller and angular so on me garments this shape aren’t all that flattering.
Butterick ? TunicThe fabric was from Fabricland in Brighton a few years back and I love it so I will wear it, probably under cardigans or under dungarees or my dungaree dresses but I need to think about these styles more in the future before committing fabric to them unless I want to look rounder than I already am.

I bought Jim a Kindle for Christmas so of course he had to have a case to go with it. I picked out these fabrics ages ago for him but didn’t get around to making it until right before Christmas!
Kindle CaseKindle CaseHe was happy with it so it was a win, it’s a little wonky but I can live with it.

I made a Guerrier shawl using some Yarntopia Treasures Egyptian Cotton in Honeysuckle. This was supposed to be a tank top but I realised I’d never wear it so found something else to do with the yarn. I have some left over that I intend to make fingerless mittens with, it’s in a bag with the needles and pattern I just need to cast on.
Guerrier ShawlGuerrier ShawlGuerrier ShawlI love this yarn, the colours are fabulous and it was lovely to work with, but I didn’t really enjoy this pattern. I found the staggered rib hard to get my head around for some reason and it made those sections really drag. You can see I’ve not blocked it which is because I was a bit fed up with it by the time I finished. Also, even though I went up a needle size I still only used just under 700 yards, whereas the pattern says I’d need 880-900 yards, I can’t figure that out at all unless it’s based on buying full skeins but not using all of one… Anyway, it’s done and I will wear it once I am done being annoyed with it, I may even block it, who knows!

Over Christmas I finished my Mercury socks and I’m really happy with them. The yarn is Bamboo Cotton sock from Yarntopia Treasures again in the colourway Freebird. The colours are lighter than in this photo, I would post the picture of the skein when I bought it but the colours are off in that too!
Mercury Socks I am really happy with these. I did a Fish Lips Kiss heel on them and my standard toe. I started the FLK heel an inch above the heel as I said in my sock post, I still don’t know if I like it or not but I’ll see how it wears. I am really happy with the fit on these so I will definitely be carrying on with casting on less stitches for my socks. I got past the heel of one of my plain socks as well and started a shawl and made some progress on that, 8 hours on trains gives you some knitting time!

I had hoped to get at least one more thing off the needles and some sewing done but I’m greeting the new year with a bad cold so those plans were dashed…

Hilariously my brain seems to think that I might run out of yarn while I am avoiding purchasing more for my stash. So, in the last 2 days of 2016, knowing that I wasn’t buying yarn from today, I bought yarn for 6 jumpers/cardigans. Of course I’m going to have time and be in need of that many more garments on top of all the others I already have yarn for… Oh well, it’ll get used at some point and it was all on sale at good prices, it’s just funny how the mind works sometimes!

Happy 2017 crafting to you all!

2016 Round Up

2016 has been a pretty bad year all around, hopefully it won’t let the door hit it on the ass on the way out.

I did get to make quite a bit this year though, I would have rather not had the time to do all the making, or at least not had the time for the reasons that I did, but I think I made the most of it and have had quite a bit to show for it, so much so that I had to order more coat hangers today!

So, the figures for 2016 are as so:

I read 102 books this year, which is pretty good, although quite a few below the 155 I read last year. I read non-stop until around July which was towards the end of chemo and then my brain stopped being able to keep track of even the most simple of plots. That was when I started to watch Netflix and Prime and knit a lot more. I’ve recently begun to try and read again, irritatingly I had a succession of books that I didn’t like or want to finish so I have now had the pleasure of deleting those off my Kindle and I’m looking forward to reading things that I actually enjoy in the new year!

Knitting I made 27 things, which is just over double the 13 of last year, they were:

  • 12 shawls, it has been the year of the shawl and I currently have another 4 on the needles, I’m not sure why I’ve been making so many but I’m not stopping for a while according to my Ravelry queue
  • 2 jumpers
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 4 cardigans
  • 1 pair of fingerless mittens
  • 2 hats

Not a bad collection at all. Of course I have a ton on the needles as my attention span was even worse than usual so I will hopefully have a big finish up of things in the new year as I’ve been looking through my Ravelry queue and I’m very excited about what’s there waiting to be made. Along with the 4 shawls mentioned above I am also working on 6 pairs of socks, 4 jumpers, a blanket, a cardigan and a poncho, so lots to keep me busy for sure!

Sewing has been all go or no go as in the blog post called just that. I’ve either lived in the sewing room making things non-stop or I’ve had no interest at all and haven’t set foot in there for ages. My book of what I’ve made says 64 projects, but I know that’s actually less than I made as for things like the boys’ pyjamas and the sock sacks I entered the projects I batch made in one entry rather than singly. Last year I made 27 things so that’s rather a large jump! My fabric in and fabric out were a very large number that I won’t share and are about even which isn’t really a good thing. As I said in an earlier post I’m going to not buy fabric for a while and try and get the stash a little bit more under control in 2017. The FO number breaks down as:

  • 8 dresses
  • 5 skirts
  • 16 t-shirts
  • 2 jumpsuits
  • 1 pair of dungarees
  • 10 pairs of pyjamas
  • 12 shirts/blouses
  • 3 pairs of trousers
  • 2 Kindle cases
  • 2 bags
  • 10 sock sacks
  • 1 dressing gown
  • Hexy MF Quilt

That’s a total of 73 things! I still have a pile of garments cut out and a head full of things I want to make. I worked shortly on a Pinterest board to try and find pictures for the kind of style I have in my head at the moment. Luckily it’s based around some patterns that I already own (plus one I bought when I saw it on Pinterest as it was exactly what I wanted). It won’t be an all at once change as obviously I still have plenty of clothes to wear that I do like and don’t want to get rid of and I will have less sewing time next year, but I do have the basis of a plan in mind and I’m looking forward to sewing towards it.

Sewing and knitting goals for 2017 (along with the stash goals) are

  • to make things that fit with the plan I’m forming
  • not to make things just because I can – I didn’t really need 5 Montlake t-shirts, they were just easy and I had jersey in the stash…
  • to make basic alternations to patterns if they need them, I’m lazy when it comes to this but moving the bust dart isn’t hard and doesn’t take long so I should be doing it
  • to knit projects that fit with other clothes I own and with the plan, I’m guilty of knitting many a thing that I don’t actually wear just because it was fun and the colour was pretty, no more wasting yarn this way!
  • to try and make more quilts, I’ve got so many either on the go or sitting there with all the fabric waiting, I want to get them out of the sewing room and in use.
  • to finish the cross stitch year stitch sampler that for 3 or more years now has been stalled at November…

I hope you all had productive and fun knitting, sewing and crafting experiences in 2016 and here’s to many more for us all in 2017! Thanks for following along and leaving comments. I know blogging is pretty old school these days but I still enjoy the recording of what I’ve done in this manner so I’ll keep going for as long as that is true.

Basket of Socks

img_0370So all those sock sacks that I made a few weeks back were for a reason! I mentioned that I’d been watching knitting podcasts and several of those involved a lot of sock knitting which influenced me to cast on with abandon and try out new techniques and some new to me yarns and yarn from deep in my stash.

I feel that yarn podcasts could be really enabling if you are susceptible to that kind of influence. They can be very consumerist and often involve a lot of ‘look what I bought’ which, if said podcast becomes popular, turns into ‘look what other well-known podcasters gave me’. Add to that segments on what they’ve bought recently and often the podcasters sitting in front of their stashes showing off their yarn and it can all be a bit much.

I’ve watched a ton of different podcasts now, I think it really depends on the viewer’s personality as to whether they will ‘click’ with what they’re seeing. The podcaster could be knitting everything I am and sharing really great information, but if I don’t feel comfortable listening to their voice or like the way they have shot their video then I just can’t go on. I’ve found a lot of very popular podcasters just rub me the wrong way and I don’t get why they’re popular, but that’s life really, not everyone appeals to everyone else! Podcasts I have been enjoying are The Grocery Girls, I love their relationship and their attitude. It can be a little cliquey at times but they are generally fun to watch. I like Legacy Knitz which is a mother and daughter podcast, again it’s a nice relationship to watch and there’s a lot of advice and information shared as they talk about their projects. I like watching Yarngasm and am safe from the temptation of the yarn she dyes as there’s nothing vegan available, which is a good thing as her colours are lovely. I enjoyed a few episodes of Hue Loco, again pretty yarn that I won’t be buying and some nice projects. I’ve watched a couple of Fairy Little podcasts and there are some nice things to see. I’ve also enjoyed the Yarn Hoarder episodes, she has a nice personality, her stash does make me quake with fear sometimes though and I’m glad it’s not mine!

My favourite podcast though to date is 10,000 Stitches which is done by a woman called Andi. I watched a random episode and then went back and started right from the beginning (episodes are weekly but less than an hour so it didn’t take that long!). Her podcasts cover her WIPS, FOs, knit alongs and some general yarn/knitting chat and then she spends some time on ‘chit chat’ telling you about her week and what she’s been up to which makes it a lot more personal than most podcasts I’ve seen. Andi set herself the challenge this year to knit 50 pairs of socks. Not just plain socks though, she had different challenges like lace, cables, ribbing and colourwork to break up the year. Something I really enjoy about this podcast is the transparency of what she’s spending and why she is or isn’t working on something. As I’ve mentioned, the consumerism displayed in podcasts can be a bit much, so to have someone explicitly say how much they spent (she set herself a budget for the challenge and keeps a tight yarn budget anyway), what they’re planning to buy from a sale and how much that will cost etc is refreshing and open and something I’ve not seen on any other podcast to date. Also, other podcasts will show something cast on and then you’ll never see it again, whereas Andi will say what’s happening to her projects, and generally she’s very decisive and will rip rather than let something hibernate. I’m definitely not a monogamous knitter like she is and I enjoy having a lot of projects on the go, but the differences between how we work was one of the interesting things to me and I watched her podcasts like a tv series cheering her on and looking forward so seeing how she was doing, I’m a little sad that I’m up to date now and have to wait for new podcasts to come out!

Anyway, watching these things did influence me to go out and buy some new sock yarn and also to cast on for quite a few pairs of socks, so this is what is on my sock needles at the moment.
img_0366These are my first socks on 9 inch circular needles. I have tried both Hiya Hiya and ChiaoGoo needles and my hands seem to prefer the ChiaoGoos. I might sell the Hiya Hiyas (in my post surgery stupor I ordered HH needles by mistake wondering why the cords were blue and not red, obviously reading was too hard for me….) as they just don’t fit my hands as well. The tiny needles are actually a tiny bit shorter than the ChiaoGoo needles which makes a difference. These socks are with Wendy Happy in the Aquarius colourway. I cast on 68 stitches and then just went round and round and round. I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel (new to me, I learnt about it from the podcasts along with the fact that 9 inch circulars existed).

Something discussed on The Grocery Girls was that they were playing about with stitch counts on their socks to figure out which fit their feet best. It is such a simple thing but was an ‘aha’ moment for me. Generally I have gone with whatever the pattern says and I’ve knit a lot of socks that are quite baggy or just don’t quite work for my feet. I go back and forth between being a process and finished object knitter, and socks I think it’s generally been more about the process, just enjoying the knit without thinking too much about how it will turn out. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about changing things or using less stitches, I think I just went with what the pattern said should fit my feet. Usually I would have done 72 stitches when I use 2.25mm needles, 68 is a much better fit, I’m trying some 64 stitch socks as well to see if that works on this needle size. It’s funny how we get stuck in a rut even if what we’re doing isn’t working that well!

Just a quick note on needles, if you’re looking for ChiaoGoo needles I’ve found that Purlescence are the best UK source. I always comparison shop online and I’ve never found the needles cheaper elsewhere. When I got my 9 inch circulars they had a big sale on and I got 2 pairs with postage for less than the price of a single pair. They’re having free postage until the end of December. They’re not paying me to advertise for them, I’m just impressed with their prices and service, my third order is on the way from them right now!

Next up are in the new to me yarn by Lana Grossa called Solo Cotone. I ordered this direct from Germany and it came really fast. I tried 2 balls in each of the 3 print styles and it seems to be really nice yarn. As per the last post this yarn is on my allowed list for next year and I’ll definitely be getting some plain colours as I’ve been wanting to knit plain coloured socks for a while, there are so many patterns in my queue that look good in solids.

img_0362

These are 60 stitches on 2.5mm 9 inch circulars. In order to get my hands used to the needles I’ve been doing a stripe a day on each of the 9 inch circular socks. I find I get a cramp in my right hand after a little bit and I’m hoping that if I keep working with the needles daily my muscle memory will improve and my hand will stop complaining. Again this is a Fish Lips Kiss heel (the pattern is on Ravelry) and these fit really nicely, I finished the first sock this morning and cast on right away for the second.

These Mercury Socks are directly influenced by the Yarngasm podcast as Kristen (or is it Kirsten?) knit a pair and then cast on for a second pair right away. I’m using Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton sock yarn (discontinued I believe, I got a custom order of about 12 colourways a few years back and am still working my way through it) in the Mercury colourway. It’s not showing well in this photo, it’s much prettier in real life.

img_0365

These are on 2.25mm dpns, this set are a bit long and getting bendy now and I broke one of them the other day so they’re probably not long for this life! I ignored the heel instructions and did a Fish Lips Kiss heel here too. This time around as there was patterning in the sock I followed the instructions to knit an inch of plain above the heel. I’m not sure whether I like it or not, I can see why it’s a good idea as it will stop the pattern rubbing your heel in your shoes but it looks kind of odd. I will see how these wear and make up my mind whether to carry on doing it or not at a later date. The first one of these is done as I have just started the second as you can see.

These are the Jigsaw Socks using the second and last skein of Whimzy Pinzy Panda Cotton I have in the Bastille colourway.

img_0363They are on 2.5mm needles. I really love the way this colourway is working with the pattern. However, although it’s really really easy, it is one of those patterns where you have to count every single row so it’s not a mindless knit which means I’ve not picked them up as much as the other socks. I will finish them at some point though, not sure whether I’ll do the pattern called for heel or substitute, I’ve got a few inches to go before I need to decide.

I wanted to try a second print of the Lana Grossa yarn and had cast on for a pair using a different print but it totally obscured the pattern I was knitting so I ripped those out and cast on with another colourway using the Blether pattern.

img_0364This is a really simple and fast pattern on 2.5mm dpns. Again with the Fish Lips Kiss heel, but without the extra inch before starting it. I’m enjoying these so hopefully they won’t take long to make!

Next are the Vokuhila Socks which the description says is the German work for mullet, the patterning is different on the front to the back! I thought these would be a great pattern to try out making socks on two circulars.

img_0368I’m using ChiaoGoo 24″ circulars for these and Maizy yarn in the Springtime colourway. I’m running out of Maizy and I think it’s been discontinued which is sad as it is a nice yarn and I always find it amusing to make socks out of corn. I’m finding managing the cords quite a pain at the moment but considering how little I’ve knit using this technique that isn’t surprising. Dpns made me cry to start with so I know there is a learning curve with a new technique and I will plod on. My only concern is that the pattern on the front isn’t really showing up all that well and it’s a bit of pain to knit it if it’s not going to be visible. I will do another repeat and then see how I feel.

And finally, my newest socks on the needles, the Lemino Socks which I cast on for this afternoon. I’m further with them now than this photo having finished the cuff.

img_0361I’m using Mothy and the Squid vegan sock yarn in Nature Will Reclaim. It’s 100% cotton so I’m not sure how well these socks will wear, but it’s a great colour so I want to give it a go. These are 64 stitches on 2.25mm needles.

A note on patterns, I generally use free patterns for the socks I make. There are so many free ones available that I would rather spend my pattern money on shawl and jumper/cardigan patterns and I do buy plenty of those so pattern designers are still getting my cash on a regular basis. If there is something really special and like nothing else I’ve seen then I would pay for it, but at the moment there are 231 free sock patterns in my Ravelry queue, so I think I’m good for a while.

I did have one more sock on the needles but when I pulled it out of the bag I found that a load of stitches had come off. As it wasn’t showing the pattern very well in the yarn I’d chosen and I was finding it a pain to work on so it was just sitting there, I ripped it out. I’ve got 3 more empty sock sacks in the basket so I’m not making any promises that more socks won’t be cast on for, I’m enjoying the variety at the moment. At some point I might find it too much and have to make a huge effort to get them all finished, but hey, at least I’ll have loads of great socks!

Finishing Up Catching Up

Right, lets finish this off then!

These two are in the wrong order because I made Stella’s Hat when I had yarn left over from the scarf below! It’s Drops Paris which is an aran weight cotton and apparently the colour is just called green which isn’t very exciting. Anyway, this is a free pattern and it was really easy to make, I began it in the hospital so it really must be easy! I used 4.5mm needles rather than the 5mm called for as I didn’t want it to be too baggy, cotton doesn’t have any recovery and I didn’t want a floppy hat. I really like it, it’s comfortable and goes over my ears and keeps my head quite warm, plus it used up a small amount of yarn that would have just floated about in my stash forever otherwise.
Stella's Hat

The green Paris was bought to make this Laetiporus Scarf which had been in my Ravelry queue for ages. It’s a simple lace and garter repeat with sections of the garter having short rows to create a kind of ruffle. This thing is way long, we’re talking about 80 inches. I used smaller needles as I didn’t have a pair of 6mm needles  and it’s plenty floppy and long, so long that I stopped knitting with above used 2 balls of yarn left and I’d only bought what was called for, not sure what was up with that.

Anyway, I enjoyed this knit a lot and did repeats here and there all the time until it was done, it took me exactly a month so it’s not a slow knit! The first picture is more the right shade of green. I’ve not blocked it and I’m not sure I will. I don’t know how well it would hold a block with the length of it pulling it down, plus I don’t have anywhere I can block an 80 inch knit so I’ll live with it the way it is!
Laetiporus ScarfLaetiporus Scarf

The Ramona Cardigan was another quick (for me) knit, taking only two months start to finish. I used Drops Bomull Lin in the grey blue colour. It’s a cotton linen mix in an aran weight and it’s quite rough to work with and rather splitty.  The cardigan is knit top down and the ribbed collar and button bands are added at the end. I found the 5.5mm needles a little hard on the hands or else I probably would have finished this faster.

I wanted a plain grey cardigan that I could throw on over my bright tops and dresses that I always seem to make and I think I achieved that. I got the buttons from Textile Garden who have an amazing selection and are cheap as far as buttons go. I bought two sets of 8 as I wasn’t sure exactly which size or look I was going for and it cost less than a single set of 8, including the postage, than everywhere else I looked so I will be shopping there again for sure. The lines across the back in the middle photo are because I ‘blocked’ it on the drying rack! After it was done I threw it in the washing machine on the delicate cycle to try and get the linen to relax and soften a bit, which it did. The stitches also evened out really nicely which I was happy about as the sleeves are knit in the round and normally there is a huge difference between my back and forth and in the round knitting.

I ordered the yarn for this while I was doing chemo, which apparently had a really bad effect on my math skills as I ended up with three and a half extra balls, not because the pattern didn’t use as much as called for, it used pretty much exactly what was called for, but because I messed up my order. I have no idea what to do with that yarn, it’s not soft enough for a scarf or shawl so there’s £9 of yarn sitting there, sigh…
Ramona CardiganRamona CardiganRamona Cardigan

This is the third and final Sunny Top, for now! Another sweater knit from Fabworks Online, this one is a slubby french terry which was a pain to work with as the edges rolled but I got there in the end. Again it was all done on my overlocker with just the hems on the sewing machine. You can see on the second picture (sort of) how the slubs stand out from the fabric. It looks more orange in these pictures than in real life, once again I’m really happy with this top and I can’t wait to wear it!
Sunny Top 3 Sunny Top Fabric

Continuing the crappy picture parade that is this post, these are my full length Demi Pants that I made ages ago. I was wearing a pair of the shorter ones I made with boots and I thought to myself that they would be perfect for winter if they were just 4 inches longer. Then I remembered that I’d made the damn things so I got out the pattern and some fabric and made a pair four inches longer!

I call these my stealth pyjamas because I made them out of brushed cotton twill from Fabworks Online, it’s not an obviously brushed cotton looking fabric but it feels like you’re getting away with wearing pyjamas outside the house! The second picture shows the texture of the fabric, it’s really nice stuff and last time I looked it was still in stock for about £4 a metre, I stocked up on a ton a while back and am looking forward to using it for something else, it’s soft and warm but not too thick so you could do a dress or a top from it for sure.
Long Demi PantsDemi Pants FabricThese are the socks I was waiting to take a picture of so I could finish catching up, the colour is all wrong, see the picture of the skein of yarn for the correct shades. This pattern was the Easy Peasy Socks, which lives up to its name and is a free pattern on Ravelry. I have been trying out knitting podcasts (I have things to say about knitting podcasts but it will have to wait to be said, this post is long enough) and heard about the Fish Lips Kiss heel for the first time ever, apparently it’s been a thing in the sock knitting world for about a year. The pattern is £1.20 or so (it’s $1 but the VAT gets added to that) via Ravelry and is a huge pattern that tells you how to make a cardboard foot that shows you where to put the heel in your socks etc. I skipped all that, why make things too easy for myself guessing is more fun, and went right to the heel instructions. What it is is a short row heel without wrapping and turing, so there aren’t any holes or stitches to pick up etc (although I need to work on my final row as the heel I did today does have small gap). It makes a really neat easy heel, I’ve done four of them now and I can do it without reading the instructions any more and it works. Of course I now realise I didn’t get a picture of the heels of these socks to show you, but it’s neat and it fits nicely, trust me!

I am also playing about with the number of stitches that I use for my socks. I’ve spent 10 years just doing what the pattern says and sometimes my socks fit and sometimes they don’t, it was what it was. A podcaster gave me an ‘oh’ moment when they said they were trying to find the right number of stitches on different needle sizes so their socks always fit, I don’t think it had actually occurred to me to do that before, I’d gone down a needle size and if things were still too baggy just tried another pattern. Anyway, one day I will have socks that fit well, these aren’t too bad at all!

UntitledWhimzy Pinzy Sock Yarn

These socks were a lesson in why you should knit your yarn instead of just stashing it away because it’s special or too nice to use. They are possibly the prettiest socks that I have knit, I love the way the colours work and the fact that there is no striping or pooling, it’s a true variegated yarn. I stashed this yarn in September 2012, the dyer is no longer doing yarn so now that I know I love it I only have one more skein in my stash (well, actually I cast it on last week) and then that’s it. Had I tried it out back then I could have gotten more pretty yarn before they stopped doing it…

Which leads nicely from my finished makes, which are finally up to date, into another matter.
I’ve been thinking about my yarn and fabric stashes of late, probably because of having to move them as I move my sewing room into the tiny office so my younger son can have his own bedroom. I have a lot, lots and lots a lot. I bought many things this year, as I said it became kind of a fuck you to cancer, of course I will live long enough to use all this. Now is feeling like the time to try and use a lot of it, there’s some great stuff in there and it’s getting buried by new great stuff.

So, I have decided to try not buy for a while. It’s not a diet as I don’t like diets, it’s just abstaining from spending money I don’t need to spend on things I don’t need to own because I own plenty of them already. I’m feeling the ‘too much stuff’ weight again and I’m running out of things I can get rid of really without my kids throwing a fit or getting rid of things I really like just for the sake of it. I’ve done the books and my clothes and half the kitchen bits (I have antique stuff I’d like to get rid of but don’t want to give away, however I don’t know where to dispose of it so it’s still sitting there…) and now I am still looking for things to cull, so this seems like a good area to work on.

For fabric/sewing I am just going to try not to buy any for as long as I can. There’s no such thing as a small fabric order for me, I try and get the free postage so we’re talking usually about 12m minimum and that’s just silly when you consider how much I own and how my sewing time will shrink again once I get back to the PhD. So, I’m going to unfollow fabric shops on social media and to try not to fall into any fabric buying holes for as long as I can. I don’t expect to make the whole year, but I should be able to do at least half without needing to buy more than thread and notions. I also need to try not to buy too many patterns, they are just so easy to pick up here and there and next thing you know you’re drowning in paper and have spent £50. I’m not ruling patterns out totally as I need things to use the fabric for, but I bought the ones I’d had on my list for a while during the post Thanksgiving sales and I have a ton I’ve not used yet so I’m set for a bit. I’m happy that I didn’t buy the sale patterns the week before the sales like I usually do as I saved a fair bit of cash! Fair enough the only reason I didn’t buy them was that I was feeling awful and not sewing, it was still a good saving! I have all the fabric I need for a good number of quilts so I will hopefully have to buy some batting during the year as I’d like to finish a few of those.

For yarn there are going to be some exceptions to the not buying anything rule. I know I will want to buy certain things so I am setting out what I am making exceptions for from the start. I want to spread these buys out a bit so I have something to look forward to rather than doing them all before March and then sulking!

  1. I recently discovered that Lana Grossa do a cotton sock yarn and I’m very excited about it. I bought 6 balls to try it out and it’s really nice. I didn’t see the solids when I placed my order so I want some of those, I also want more of the prints. So an order (probably quite a large order, especially if they have a sale any time) with them will happen.
  2. I really like the colourways that the dyer Mothy and the Squid on Etsy does and she does a cotton sock yarn. I have asked her if she’ll do some of her colourways on that base for me and she’s agreed so I will buy those whenever she has completed them.
  3. I also discovered Vegan Yarn in Cananda who do a vegan sock yarn. There isn’t much in stock right now so the order I placed with them post Thanksgiving in their sale was for shawl yarn. When they get a good selection of the sock yarn in again I will be ordering some of that to try (and maybe some more shawl yarn as it’s lovely) and it’s the Panda Cotton base which I really love and they had a self striping which I’ve never seen in vegan sock yarn before. Again, I’ll wait for a sale, although they don’t seem to have too many of those.
  4. Finally, I bought a ton of patterns in the sales for very reasonable prices. I am going to allow myself one order, probably of Drops yarn if I can find a fit, from one of my usual sellers but only for patterns I already own. I have yarn lined up for a page and half of my Ravelry queue plus plenty that doesn’t have a project assigned so I don’t need to be buying lots for no reason, but if I’ve spent the money on the pattern I’d like to use it. Again, sales will be a big influence on this purchasing.

I stocked up on needles during the sales so I’m fine of those, I might need to buy buttons for things but beyond that I shouldn’t need any other knitting stuff. I will be buying the patterns required to use up stash yarn assigned to them but other patterns I will only buy if they are reduced by 30% or more which is my usual rule for buying patterns with no yarn in mind.

We shall see how that goes, I’m sure I’ve tried before not to buy yarn and fabric, I’ve been keeping a running tally for years on how much fabric comes in vs how much goes out and usually manage by just a few yards or metres to use more than a buy but that’s not really helped the stash reduce that much! I shall keep you appraised on how it goes.

Phew, I literally have not finished making anything else, so it’s all brand new projects from here on out! I have two Christmas gifts to make and all the stuff I cut out before the operation to sew up, hopefully I can make a dent on that this weekend. There is tons of knitting going on, but there isn’t much near completion yet, I’m working on too many things at the same time again, but enjoying it immensely so I’m not worried about it yet, I’ll get finishitis again soon enough!

How Far Behind is Too Far Behind?

I have so much stuff to show you, some of it going back ages and ages. Enough stuff that this is going to take two blog posts to get through, so lets get the first one going!

I watched all available Big Bang Theory sometime during my treatment and the newest series on Netflix right after it came out. However, that wasn’t what prompted me to make the Miss Winkle shawl, that was a combination of seeing the colours of the yarn through the glass door of my yarn cabinet and thinking that knitting the loops might be fun.

Turns out it was a good combination and I’m really happy with the way this came out. I finished this at the start of October! The yarn is Yarntopia Treasures 100% bamboo in Color Path so it’s really soft and I don’t have another scarf this bright so it’s a nice addition to my collection. I knit until the yarn was all gone so it’s pretty decent size as there were 630y in this skein. I love Martina Behm patterns, they’re fun and quick which is just what you need sometimes when it comes to shawl knitting otherwise you get bogged down by them.
Miss WinkleMiss Winkle

I knit this Felicity hat in the middle of October using 2 balls of Grey Blue Drops Paris. I went down .25 in needle size and it fits quite well. It’s really hard to get a good photo of yourself wearing a hat… Not much to say about this free pattern, you knit round and round, decrease and wallah, hat…
Felicity Hat

I said I was going to make another Sunny Top and I did, again using a sweater knit from Fabworks Online. This one is kind of silvery and grey with some black. Again I did the construction on the overlocker and just hemmed with the sewing machine. These are so comfortable to wear and I love the shape. I’m sure as soon as I stop wearing mostly jogging bottoms and pyjamas they will be in high rotation, especially in the Spring when they’ll be the right weight, they don’t fit so well under a cardigan so I’m wearing them with a thermal t-shirt underneath at the moment!
Sunny TopSunny Top

Jim needed another sweater as he grew out of the highly cabled red turtleneck one I made him a while back. I am knitting him another jumper, but at present it would only keep his stomach warm so I whipped him up a Kwik Sew Sewing For Children fleece sweatshirt as I still had the pattern out from making his pyjamas. I think this is a Windpro expensive fleece, it’s been in my stash forever and I was tired of seeing it so I stuck it with some striped ribbing I bought yonks ago and have hardly used and in about half an hour he had a new top to wear, easy, but hard to photograph…
KSSFC Sweatshirt

Before going into hospital I cut out a bit stack of things to sew as I knew that bending over to cut out and my accuracy at cutting might be hard post-op. I cut a variety of things so I’d have a selection. Of course, as is usual for me, what I felt like making were Sock Sacks using the free pattern I’ve used before, and which I had not cut out… These take two fat quarters and are really quick to make. It’s nice to see fabric from my quilting stash actually used for something.

Although designed for socks these will also fit a hat, gloves or a small shawl on circulars so they’re a really useful size. I added a lining to each of them but I’ve not put photos of them, basically it’s just the contrast fabric on each one. I cut the fabric the same size as the outer before doing the final side seam, seam the side and bottom of the lining, turn over 3/8″ at the top and then attach it to the bag when I do the top stitching around the top.

So, I decided to make 4 of these. I did that and then decided to do two more, found I had an orange zip and ended up doing 3 more. Then I counted what I had and with the 2 I’d made previously I had 9 which was an annoying number, so I made another 1 for an even 10! They really don’t take any time to do, and they have a nice set of different but short and simple steps to complete them which is apparently what my brain wanted during the days I worked on them. I’ve had fun casting on lots of socks (and then ripping out a few pairs that weren’t looking good so I think I have 4 pairs on the go at the moment and a hat waiting to be cast on) and deciding which bag to put them in!

So, for your viewing pleasure, a carnival of knitting bags!
Sock SackSock SackSock SackSock SackSock SackSock SackSock SackSock Sack 8

I then decided that I wanted some larger knitting bags so I Googled and came up with a handful of free patterns that I want to try. The first was the Reversible Box Tote which takes two half yards of fabric. I didn’t add a pocked to the other side of the bag as the pattern called for as I knew I’d always be looking in the wrong pocket and it’d frustrate me. Also, with an open pocked you’re not going to store more than the packet for your circulars (which fits perfectly) and maybe your pattern and a pen anyway so I wouldn’t need two.

I adore both these fabrics so I was really pleased to use them, and I found some very very stiff thick iron on interfacing to use too, maybe too thick and not great quality as there are some bubbles and coming unstuck bits already and I’ve only had it less than a week.
Reversible Box ToteReversible Box Tote

Whilst I love the look of this bag and how much it can hold, you can probably get a sweater in there, I’ve got a big shawl in mine, I really did not like the construction and unless I can come up with a better way to do it than it says and the alternate way I tried I probably won’t make another. The pattern calls for you to fold over a quarter inch around the top of the bag and the lining and then top stitch them together which is just a total pain in the ass and not really possible with the really stiff interfacing. Burnt fingers aside, the frustration of getting those edges lined up in a pleasing way just seems impossible. I undid the top of the handle and turned and topstitched all around the top and then sewed the handles together again so it looks a bit like a french seam underneath. You can see the wrinkles in the second picture and the interfacing didn’t like being tugged around the way it was when I turned it. If anyone can think of a better way of attaching the bag to the lining give me a shout as I’d love a few more of these but my brain isn’t coming up with anything besides trying it with thinner interfacing when I turn and top stitch which might mean it’s floppy and annoying.

Anyway, that’s the first half of my round up, I will get the second one done whenever I manage to take a picture of the socks that have been finished for almost a week!

So, yeah…

hmmmm, where to begin after so long? I’ve not talked much about the whole cancer thing in a while so this will be a round up of what’s gone on and where I am. Just for the record I had been referring to my cancer as bowel cancer, I actually had rectal cancer which is just a matter of a few inches lower, but I thought I’d set that straight. Also, something I hadn’t picked up from the letters due to chemo fog was that I was classified as Stage 3. I’m glad I didn’t pick that up as it would have freaked me out before I had a clear enough brain to logically think it through. Stage 3 basically means that the cancer has begun to spread. My tumour was very small, I only had a few inches of lower bowel/rectum removed to ensure clear margins and within what they removed there were 13 lymph nodes, which really isn’t a lot. One of those lymph nodes, the one closest to the tumour, had cancerous cells in it, it was doing its job! So, even though it was Stage 3 it was a very very early 3, the classification of stages doesn’t allow for how far into each stage you are. There is another classification system that says how large the tumour was, it’s stage (i.e. how far it’s grown) and whether the cancerous cells have spread at all but I don’t know my numbers for that one and it’s not used as regularly outside a clinical setting as the stages. So, onwards.

I had a CT scan done in October, I think. It was my 1 year on from diagnosis scan, so actually a little early but it needed to be done before having the stoma reversal. The scan came back clear. I have to admit that it didn’t really hit me what that meant, when I had it done last time it was to see if the cancer had spread so my brain just understood this one to mean the same thing. What it actually meant was that the cancer is gone (for now, it’s all one step at a time forever with this), and it wasn’t until my surgeon called me with the results because she didn’t want me to wait for them that I realised that it was kind of an important test!

I’d been hoping to have the stoma reversal done at the end of October, but my surgeon is really busy and sadly had a lot of new cancer patients to see, so it was delayed until November 8th (I think, can’t remember the date now!). I could have had a different surgeon do it, but I figured if she took it apart she could put it back together. Of course the stoma gave me one last run for its money and had a leaky phase right at the end when I was playing chicken with a box of stoma bags not wanting to order more that would just go to waste! I was glad to learn there is a charity I can donate all the boxes of unused bags etc to and I will be doing that as soon as I can.

So, the day came and I arrived at the hospital at the 11.30 time that the letter said. My sister went with me but when it became apparent that I wasn’t gong to go in before she needed to leave to be home in time for my sons she went and I cast on a new shawl and knit a few rows whist I was waiting figuring that although the pattern was simple counting to 129 after the operation wouldn’t be easy!

I went into surgery at about 4.30pm and it was really quick, about half an hour I’m told. I was in a lot of pain when I came out though and went through every single painkiller they were allowed to give me in the recovery room. I spent the night waiting for the next round of painkillers to arrive in the hopes they would work and between passing out for an hour or so I kept checking the US election results which really didn’t help my mood and sadly turned out not to be an illusion caused by the drugs I was taking.

I had a lot of cramping the first day, which is usual I’m told, although they really don’t give you a lot of information about what to expect. I understand that they don’t want to scare you with what might maybe happen, but I have felt, with this operation in particular, that I wanted to know more and I’ve been worried and confused ever since having it done. It all seems to rely on my asking the questions or looking things up online which really doesn’t feel like the most reliable way to do things. Anyway, I was given some medicine to help with the cramping which totally knocked me out for a few hours and then, combined with the anaesthetic leaving my system and said election results had me basically spending the rest of the day in tears.

Also, don’t get me started on NHS provisions for vegans in Northumberland. I had a stoma reversal, offering me curry for lunch and dinner was not appreciated, nor was the plain salad, too much roughage. I had taken snacks in with me luckily and I didn’t have much of an appetite anyway, but it is a really bad selection (if you can even call it a selection) and it really needs sorting out.

I was in hospital until the Saturday, it’s quite amusing after a while to have people ask you if you’ve been farting and pooing and to be happy when you say yes to both! The pain never really faded and I felt a bit out of it, but I figured I was just not in as good condition as I was for the first operation and it would fade. At home I really didn’t leave bed much, wasn’t very hungry and even liquid morphine wasn’t taking away the pain I was feeling, I also tried tramadol which gave me horrible side effects, but again didn’t touch the pain and also didn’t have the morphine side effect of knocking me out so it wasn’t much good.

At 10 days post-op the District Nurse came out to take out the stitches. She was really pleased with the way the wound had healed, didn’t seem too concerned about the pain (after all the muscles had been moved for 11 months, they probably weren’t too happy to be moved back again) and signed me off their books, although she did note that I was very swollen. I got up and did a few things in the afternoon, trying to push myself on thinking that if I was healed surely I was well enough to not need to be in bed the whole time. I was sitting at my sewing table doing something or other and when I leant forward to reach for something I felt a pop where the wound was. When I checked the bandage you could tell that something was coming out as it was bulging, at which point I began to freak out. I remember during the freak out, which was so severe that my sister thought she may need to slap me, thinking that it was really odd that I was reacting that way and how that showed how rarely I really truly panic about things! This was a full on proper panic though as I thought that the join in my bowel had given way which might have resulted in not only my getting very ill from it leaking internally, but also that I might have to return to a stoma bag and I couldn’t face that at all.

My sister found out where to take me, all the way to A&E which is a 45 minute drive from here and then all of a sudden I basically exploded. It seems I had a huge abscess in the wound, and I mean huge, and all of a sudden it gave way. On the way to the hospital I soaked a full size bath towel and the nurse who saw me there said she wouldn’t put me back out  in the waiting area which was probably because I stank to high heaven and was covered in gore. It was literally the most disgusting thing that has ever happened to me. I did stop freaking out once I saw what colour the liquid was that was coming out and realised that it wasn’t poo, so that was a tiny relief anyway!

I very quickly was moved up to the surgical ward, A&E is at the hospital where I had the operation so they bumped me back up to the service that might be responsible for anything that had gone wrong and we didn’t have to wait a huge amount of time to see a consultant. The wound had come open again, something I didn’t know until then and was glad I hadn’t known as it would have freaked me out more. They had a look and ascertained that nothing else was wrong besides having had that huge localised infection. So they cleaned me out, packed the wound and sent me home, didn’t even need any antibiotics.

There are two ways to finish the stoma reversal operation. The first, which my surgeon did, is to close the wound as you would most other wounds. The second way is to leave the wound un-stitched but packed with gauze that is changed regularly. it can be a very dirty wound for obvious reasons. Over time the wound closes layer by layer from the bottom up and you need less and less gauze. I have now tried both ways and I much preferred the first way. You can’t fault an NHS that has a nurse come daily to my house to clean and pack the wound though. I have now just moved to every other day and will eventually go longer and longer until it’s done healing. It feels like I kind of wasted those first 10 days healing and then had to start again, but there you go.

On the way home from A&E I realised I was starving, which was the first time I’d been hungry since the operation. I also felt immediately much better, although I’m still very tired and sleeping about 11 hours a night. I think, having pondered for a while, that I might have had an infection before the operation and it was just closed over, we’ll never know why it happened though and no one seems overly concerned about it!

Sleeping though, I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours at a stretch since the operation last December due to waking up to check the bag, empty the bag, tidy up what the bag had decided it wanted to leak everywhere etc. The one time I did sleep for 5 hours I woke up to the most horrible mess of all. The first time I slept the entire night after the reversal, 10 hours in one stretch, was blissful. However I still can’t sleep for too long on my side, and my right side where the wound is I can’t really sleep on at all so my back is getting a little sore. I also still need 3 pillows, 2 more than I would normally use, as my stomach muscles and the wound object to my laying flat.  It will be a wonderful day when I can sleep on my right side again as that’s my favoured side and I so miss being able to sleep that way!

Skip this bit if you don’t want to read about bowel habits, but I want to put it up here should someone be looking for experiences of having a stoma reversed. My bowel is still rather confused by everything. The new piece that has been pulled down and is being asked to basically do the job of rectal muscles rather than its old bowel job gets really excited about pushing and won’t stop. It needs to learn that it has to relax to let stuff through that it then pushes out, but I get phases, less and less as time goes on, where I feel like I have to go to the toilet the whole time and that I’m having a prolapse as it just will not relax. Then, of course, when it does relax I do have to go again. It’s called fragmented something or other and can go on for hours, back and forth to the toilet, it’s incredibly frustrating. I’m also very very windy, which is apparently a normal side effect, but as I’ve not used the toilet properly in 11 months I’ve lost the ability to distinguish between wind and poo, which means more running back and forth. Also things haven’t been stretched in a while, so it feels like I’ve done the hugest poo of my life when really I’ve done a little tiny thing, it can be very disconcerting! I’ve had an upset stomach a few times and have had to take an immodium to slow things down,which can stop it for the entire next day which again is worrying, no end of worry here. Going a tiny bit at at time for hours results not just in the usual pain you get when you’ve had an upset stomach, but also in incredibly irritated skin that has become unaccustomed to toilet paper.

Anyway, I’m assured that things will settle down with time, although it could take quite a lot of time. I don’t tend to go out all that much anyway (I’ve left the house three times since the operation and one of those was to go to A&E) so I should be ok. At the end of the day I’d rather go back and forth to the toilet than have the bag. I appreciate fully that it probably saved my life, the tumour was very low down and therefore was quite a delicate join which needed time to heal. It was also helpful during chemo where rather than having to sit on the toilet for hours in the night (which would have really not helped my already fragile state of mind) I could get up and empty the bag and then go back to sleep whilst the drugs did their worst. I did find the multi-tasking aspect of the bag rather amusing too, you could do anything and be pooing at the same time, and emptying it was much quicker than using the toilet in the regular fashion. However, as much as I tried to ignore it, and as much as I coped with it in my usual stoic ‘there’s nothing I can do about it except get on with it’ way it totally horrified me and I am so glad to be rid of it. For the first few days I did my usual checking it hadn’t leaked whenever I woke up, followed by a ‘oh my god the bag’s fallen off’ moment before I remembered that it wasn’t supposed to be there. After that I’ve not thought about it at all and hopefully I never will have to again.

So, from here I am monitored regularly by various scans and blood tests. I asked my surgeon about the odds of recurrence and basically the average person has a 1 in 15 chance of getting colorectal cancer, my chances have fallen to between 1 in 10 and 1 in 12, so not a huge jump. Also, it’s one of the slowest growing cancers there is. The tumour I had had probably been growing for a few years as that’s how long it takes for them to show symptoms like I had, so they should be able to catch it quickly should it come back and it won’t require major surgery again. Also my chances of getting any other kind of cancer have not risen, I’m no more liable than anyone else just because I’ve had one type.

All I can do now is try to get my life back again and to try not to panic constantly forever. I start back at University after Christmas (I have no idea what I was doing and haven’t looked at my research at all in a year so that will be fun!) and at some point I will be able to exercise again. I had been doing yoga and running again, god I miss the running and it was lovely to get out on my favourite routes, before having this operation, but I will have to start that all over again when the wound has healed enough to allow it. Patience not being a virtue I was born with I will be impatiently waiting.

And that’s that really, regular scans and blood tests and fingers crossed. Maybe I just got this out of the way early being 20 years younger than most people who have this type of cancer, who knows. I keep thinking about an Ani DiFranco line from Lost Woman Song, which is about abortion and not cancer but you use what you can. Although this has been horrible, scary, frustrating, confusing and generally not much fun (gallows humour should never be underrated), as Ani says …”mine was a relatively easy tragedy”. May my luck continue and this be the end of it, if not at least I know now that I can get through it.

Thanks for reading and for your support through all of this. Hopefully there will be less talk of poo and pus in the future and a lot more sewing and knitting!

 

Winter 2016 Pyjama Parade

It was time for the winter pyjamas to be made. Trying once again to stash bust with these I pulled out fabrics that needed to be used up in both terms of not having enough left for larger sizes and the fact that the boys might find the prints too young for them if I left it much longer.

Piggle has a pair of Olaf fleece pyjamas in his drawer that he loves and should still fit so I just did him two pairs this time around. I used Kwik Sew Sewing for Children, amazingly my ‘baby’ is now in the large size.

The first pair I took an inch off the trousers (you’re supposed to take length off any edge you add a ribbed band to but it’s an easy way of adding length and making them last longer to not bother) but none of the other seams.

KSSFC Pyajams

This fabric is quite amazing, Piggle had a nappy made from it and Jim had summer pyjamas when he was a toddler. It’s all gone now but it served us well! The bottoms are sweatshirt fleece probably last used when Jim started nursery 10 years ago, also all gone now!

In the contrasting tastes of a 9 year old child, Piggle loves pink. He found this stretch terry in my fabric stash and claimed it, as I’ve had it for a really long time and have never figured out what to use it for I was happy to finally do something with it.

KSSFC Pyjamas

Same patterns but this time I didn’t take any length off any of the edges so they will fit him for longer. He loves them and wears them as soon as they come out of the wash so we’re both happy.

Jim is right at the edge of Kwik Sew Sewing for Children sizes. I traced the XL size and used the sweatshirt pattern for the tops for him to give a bit more width. Again, I didn’t take any length off any of the edges before adding bands to them. A rare modelled shot, check out that 13 year old boy slouch (and ignore my sports bra hanging in the background)!

KSSFC Pyjamas

I dyed this fabric, the cotton velour bottoms were a pale turquoise which would have been fine for a baby but not for a teenage boy. The top fabric and ribbing was white so none of it came out the same shade but they’re pyjamas so I can live with it. I forgot when tracing the sweatshirt that as it was wider I would need more fabric so the sleeves on this top are actually cut in two pieces (one going across the grain..) and seamed together. I bought this fabric for Jim probably 10 years ago and used pretty much every inch I could of it making this! Seeing the sleeve length on this top I added an inch to the second pair to give him growing room.

Still have a small bit of the cars left but that was the end of the turquoise sherpa, still a few more colours remain in my stash from my nappy making days though.

KSSFC Pyjamas
He’s happy with both pairs which is a big win for a grumpy 13 year old.

I wanted to use up a length of flannel I got from Abakhan, I think. I bought a Kwik Sew adult pattern thinking that I could use the small size for Jim but it turned out to be too large, it will come in handy in future years though. I found Burda 9747 on a site with a 40% off sale so threw it in with some fabric, it goes up to age 15. I’ve got them cut out but not made yet, I’ll get to them eventually I’m sure and post them when they’re done. This has been a draft for over a month not so I figure it’s time to get it posted so I can move on to newer posts.