Day 176

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I was at Waterstones Cafe again today for the first Thursday afternoon knitting club since I went into hospital in October. I was great to see Jo and Natalie again.

I started to cast on for yesterdays blanket square and got 2 rows knitted before Natalie arrive and today I was teaching her to crochet. It wasn’t until I was on my way home much later that I realised I was using the wrong coloured yarn. I started again with the right yarn when I got home. The right yarn being the variegated red being knitted into a large square. Today’s piece is a small square in variegated grey.

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Hubby was home today after doing some work maintenance from home last night. After he’d finished he met me in town and we had a ‘date’ at Wagamama’s where I was very brave and tried 2 new dishes. I am not an adventurous eater so trying pork ribs in a Korean BBQ sauce and a chicken teriyaki donburi when normally I would have chicken gyoza and chicken katsu with amai sauce. The donburi is a *huge* meal of rice and chicken. I had to bring half of it home. It was all very tasty and I highly recommend all 4 of these dishes.

I have chosen Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ to share with you today. No particular reason but that I like it.

Day 171

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All fixed!

The new triangle…

day 168 - corrected

Pieces 170 and 171.

Day 170-171

I am now up-to-date.

I gave in with the triangle and knit it separately. I cast on 31, and decreased one at the beginning of every right side row, knitting the last two stitches together to finish. I left a tail long enough to sew the triangle to the rest of the blanket.

It’s getting cumbersome to cart around now. I’ll try to remember to measure it tomorrow along the longest sides, and I really need to start sewing in the ends. There are more than 300 now.

We have music tonight! Because I am knitting while watching Marvel Avengers Assemble, here’s Soundgarden.

P.S. I’ve finally updated Day 169 with the photo of the updated plan. I had to email it to myself from my phone and it took 2 days to arrive for some reason…

Day 158

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I’m going to embarrass myself with today’s music choice but first… I’ve been looking forward to today’s square. I’m trying to do a large square in each of the yarns I’m using for the blanket and today is the Step ‘Türkis’ which is one of my favourites. Turquoise with orange is a colour combination that particularly appeals to me so I really like knitting with this colourway. Also, I really like how the striping of this colour way looks in garter stitch. Not all striped yarns work knitted this way and of those that do, there are those which work better than others. In this case, I think it is because the colours are uncomplicated – by which I mean that they’ve got a little bit of variance in the turquoise but the orange and white are solidly single colours. For whatever reason, I really like it.

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I haven’t achieved as much knitting of the pink/green shawl as I had anticipated today. I was slow getting out of bed, had a late morning osteopath appointment then spent the early afternoon in Waterstones with the friend who is buying the shawl. By the time I got home it was about 4pm. I lasted about an hour before I fell asleep. The week after a weekend with my son is often filled with long naps. It is partly sadness about the situation and partly a response to the anxiety of the lead up to the visit. I am more than halfway through the second length of border and being that it’s only 15 stitches I’m working on, it grows quite quickly.

So you’re probably quite curious about the music choice. I’ve managed to shy away from cliches and cheese for the most part but this song has been drifting in and out of my thoughts for a few months now. I’ve never learned to roller skate (though I have very clear memories of my older sister skating to ‘Xanadu’ blasting from a boom box) and I managed to avoid the worst of the ’80’s fashion by being too young to do my own shopping but I wanted a walkman for the longest time. My son is barely aware of CDs as most of his music is digital so he’s never going to know the awesomeness of the first time you have portable music of your own choice and not whatever is on the radio.

Have you guessed the song yet? I have rarely been without portable music since my late childhood. Thank goodness we can be wired for sound 😉

Cliff Richard – Wired for Sound

Day 124

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Today we are listening to Gym Class Heroes featuring Maroon 5’s front man Adam Levine just because I like it…
Stereo hearts by Gym Class Heroes ft. Adam Levine

I’m feeling better today. A yoga breathing routine is excellent for stretching the muscles that were causing problems again. Even better is that we worked out that the problem with my e-spinner was the battery. We connected a jack for a mains power cord and the spinner works better than ever despite running at only 6 volts instead of the 12 it used to have!!!!! Of course, this was all worked out *after* we ordered new parts. Which is fine though because we have plans to build a better e-spinner and the existing spinner can’t support those improvements. And I was a good girl and caught up on my blanket pieces even though I really, really, really, really, *really* wanted to be spinning yarn.

Day 123’s piece is a large green square. Day 124’s is a small purple square.

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Day 121

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I had forgotten how long the large squares take to knit. I guess I don’t notice the time passing while I craft.

Anyway, bright orange and yellow large square today.

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The boys had a great camp out and though the sparse timetabling of the Sunday buses adding 2 hours to their return, they got home safely. Last year it rained but with the forest canopy, they were mostly dry. This year it was windy. I imagine they’d have been less bothered by it if they used an actual tent instead of building a bivouac but that is how they all camp at this event. It’s cosy enough I suppose…

bivouac 2014

I’ve discussed my affection for Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ album in the past. I love the intimacy of the music produced by singer-songwriter-musician. In today’s music industry, they are as scarce as hen’s teeth but they are out there. One of my modern favourites is Sarah Bareilles. I have all of her music but it is her ballads that I love the most. One that struck me most is the final track ‘Gravity’ from her debut album ‘Little Voice’. The clarity of the vocals and the simplicity of the accompniment are just beautiful.

I’d not seen the video clip before today and was impressed by it – it’s a simple enough idea and doesn’t detract from the music.

Day 109

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Two blanket pieces today – today’s large square and yesterday’s rectangle, which I hadn’t done yesterday because finishing the tablecloth took longer than expected. But I am all caught up now and coming swiftly to the end of the planned squares. I’ll start working on the next instalment of the diagram this week and will update the existing diagrams to include the changes I’ve made as I’ve been knitting.

   Day 109  day 108 

Next project I need to focus on….. so many. I have some crochet circles to do for one of my knitting ladies. They only take about 10-15 minutes each to do and there are only 20 to make. I can get it done in an afternoon so no worries there. There are sweaters I want to work on for my friend J. And of course there are the 20 million shawls I have in the works. And we’re not discussing the yarn spinning that’s also in my work bag…

Today’s video is not music. Koko the gorilla has been trained and is fluent in American Sign Language and Robin Williams had the opportunity to meet her in 2001.

His profound ability to communicate transcends species.

As you have no doubt heard by now, the comedian Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday after many years struggling with severe depression. Today, Koko learned he had passed away and is mourning with us.

The sad loss of Robin Williams is yet another proof that the greatest performances come from the greatest pain. My condolences are with all of those affected by his death and by the circumstances of that death.

There has been worrying commentary since his passing and the preliminary autopsy findings of suicide, that suicide and depression are selfish. Speaking with the experience of one who struggles with depression and who has witnessed parents and husband struggle with it, I know that the illness is very selfish in the same way that any illness is. You don’t ask pneumonia to keep you in bed. You don’t ask a limb to break. The sucking morass of depression doesn’t ask before robbing you of reason or rationality, joy and creativity. You don’t ask it to undermine your relationships and your self-esteem. It is NOT a choice. Why would anyone *choose* to feel like this?! What an utterly ludicrous and insensible argument.

But whether the act of suicide is selfish or not isn’t really the point. The point is that people who attempt or succeed at suicide need our compassion and our love, and that we must focus our grief on helping those who continue to struggle with mental or chronic health concerns so that they do not ever feel the desperation, despair and worthlessness that leads to suicide.

Be gentle with each other. We are all struggling with something and while something may be easy for you, will be incomprehensible to someone else.

Hug your loved ones. Be kind to them. Tell them you love them. Tell them they matter and listen when they need you. If you don’t know what to do to help them, start with these things.

You will never know how a smile or a hug will improve someone’s day.

Day 66

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Fourteen years ago today I married my best friend and soulmate, and yes, today’s music choice is dedicated to my husband (again). It was tricky to choose a song but I fell back on ‘The Sound of Music’ for the perfect solution of movie and music star (Julie Andrews is incredible!). Did you know that this scene was filmed in shadow because both Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer had the giggles while filming?

selfie 30June2014Today is also the day I debut my new hair. I was going to wait until tomorrow to put the  turquoise over the section we bleached yesterday but I am an impatient sort. It looks pretty awesome regardless and I kinda love how it turned out.

The colour is actually more turquoise than green. I did warn you all at the beginning about my awful photo skills.

To get that look, I divided my hair into 2 roughly equal halves diagonally along the top  of my head from hairline to the back of the crown then straight down to my neck. We applied the bleach to the part that had less on show, then applied the dark colour and washed them out at the same time. I used a really cheap shampoo before and after the dye/bleach. I left my hair to rest for about 18 hours before I applied the Manic Panic ‘Atomic Turquoise’ to the bleached section and left it to develop for about 3 hours. I didn’t use any shampoo when i washed it out but i did use a coloured hair friendly conditioner. my hair is soft and shiny and pretty 😉

It’s a bit of a paradox that when I dye my hair, it’s much softer and better conditioned than when I don’t.

I used my favourite colourway today fro the large square – Opal’s ‘Sweet and Spicy Plum’.

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Day 24

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Today has not been a Good Day. You may be familiar with the analogy of depression as a black dog. I have 2 black dogs so I actually have a great deal of affection for black dogs but there is a large black beast that follows me. Sometimes it catches up to me and today was one of those days. So it’s got me thinking. To get where I am today – able to  take medication and advice as regards my mental health – it took re-evaluating how I looked at mental health. Not specifically mine but how society approaches mental health. Because it can’t be seen, there are people who don’t believe it’s real. Thing about that though is that you can’t see diabetes either. Nor can you see the flu but both of these things are considered real because they’ve been around a long time even though once upon a time epilepsy was considered a type of demonic possession. Here’s my point – if we don’t talk about it with a view to understanding it beyond myth and imagination, we demonise it. With the growing number of people who are seeking help for mental health concerns, we need to think about how we approach mental health.

Consider if we treated physical ailments as mental illness is so often treated…

Just like the illnesses in the above comic, mental ill health has a biological basis.

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Mental illness like depression and anxiety are no less ‘real’ than illnesses like diabetes or cancer.

If you know someone who struggles with their mental health, sometimes it’s very hard to help them. It’s not because they don’t want help. It’s not because they’re being ‘difficult’. sometimes they don’t have words for it either. Sometimes this is the best you can do…

Please be patient with us. We will come through but it might take a little while. Hopefully you will never experience mental ill health, but if you do, you will understand why your patience and your willingness to be there is so appreciated.

Now for something that helped to lift my spirits some today. As you’ve seen, I love music. Every group of people in the world have their own music. It is something that we do socially, as entertainment, as celebration, in mourning. It’s a way to create and a way to share. But it’s not just a human thing.

it was a toss up whether to share jazz loving cows or piano-playing, head-bopping elephants. The elephants won – the one in the foreground actually shakes its booty!

The enjoyment of music is pretty universal and it’s beautiful.

Big square today, knitted with Fortissima Shadow Color in grey. I’ll list the yarns I’ve used so far and which square they were used for in tomorrow’s post.

(I’ll have to add the photo later when my camera is recharged enough for taking a photo)

 

 

 

Day 8

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Not sure what to write about today so I’ll just start with telling you that I returned to Bach today but instead of the Brandenburg concerto’s I listened to Concerto for 2 Harpsichords, Strings and Continuo No.5 in C minor’. Then I went on to Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’

I’m using another Austermann yarn (I have a lot in my stash). This one is a self-patterning yarn designed to imitate a fair isle pattern. The colourway is #48, called ‘Fuchsia’.

I added the square between the square from yesterday (day 7) and the rectangle from day 6 to complete a third large square.

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Detail of picked up stitches – brown fabric is from day 7, pink from day 6. You can see stitches 12-14 above the brown fabric, the central stitches for decrease start with stitch 15 where days 6 and 7 join, stitch 16 is in the last decrease from day 6. Stitches 17 to 31 are in the pink fabric of day 6.

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What’s the difference between self-patterning and self-striping yarn Charlotte?

Self-striping is simpler than self-patterning in its use of colour. Self-striping yarn is just that, it has been dyed to produce stripes of colour. Self-patterning yarn often requires a computer to determine the length of yarn that will be dyed in each colour to make a more complex pattern. You’ve seen examples of both in my blanket. The Regia Brasil yarn from day 5 was dyed to produce regular sections of alternating colour and pattern, as well as the yarn used from day 3 by Opal (picture below). The Step yarn from day 6 was dyed to produce graduating stripes of pink. There are other self-striping yarns that have no patterned sections and are dyed to produce definite stripes such as this Step yarn in ‘Vulcan’ which I am thinking of using tomorrow.

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One pattern repeat of the yarn used on day 3 – Opal sock yarn in Sweet and Spicy colourway Plum

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Example of the entirety of the Step sock yarn used on day 6 in Holiday Color #194 – Pink

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Vulcan colourway of Step sock yarn – definite plain stripes in grey, red and black

In the pictures above you can see how different the fabric produced looks when it is done in stocking stitch rather than in garter stitch.

Sock yarn is versatile and can also be used for shawls. When a yarn and pattern are chosen carefully to compliment each other, even simple mitred squares can produce something spectacular.

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My favourite shawl made from 3 balls of Schoppel-Wolle’s Zauberball (1200m of yarn!!!). It is tremendously difficult to leave any yarn-related event with it.