30 August 2008

There and Back Again

This is where I've been for the past week - the Quest for Life Centre in Bundanoon, on the Neuro-Immune Program. It was very interesting, and while I wouldn't call it restful - the program classes / sessions ran from morning til night every day - there were plenty of times to rest, and long lunch breaks, and lovely people. If you are struggling with chronic illness, cancer, or are a carer (and live in Australia!), I would recommend you consider going along to a program, despite any qualms. It was great.

I'm still processing the information from the 5 days - it was pretty full on. While there were things that I didn't agree with, and won't be following up on, there were certainly other things that were helpful. They really don't push stuff at you, it's more about suggestions, options you might like to take up, and a lot about loving yourself, looking after yourself, and inner calm. I've come back with a sense of internal peace, which I hope I can maintain! There will be changes ...

This is the dining room, which deserves its own paragraph. The food was incredibly good. Largely vegetarian (locally sourced organic produce) with fish and chicken sometimes. Extremely amazing meals. Homemade biscuits and jams, salads (have you ever had avocado and asparagus with fresh raspberry sauce?!), soups, bread, and more! Plus just walking in, eating, and leaving all the dishes is divine bliss for any mum :)

There was knitting (yeah, people figured out I was obsessed - who'd have thunk it?). The main thing is I finished Penny's Show-Off Stranded Socks! And 1 or 2 of the other women on the course now want to learn how to knit, and I picked up a lap rug knitting commission (just one, in purple, for a new friend in Tassie).

A quick try-on, before I send these to Vienna.... my feet are a bit small for these socks...

The toe construction is quite different - rounds of equally spaced decreases, like for a beanie. It fits remarkably well.

ETA : the pattern is Show-Off Stranded Socks.

22 August 2008

Jumper Presence

Finally, some photos!

Here is Son's Presence Illusion Scarf ...

Blocking (photo is from a low angle so you can see the 'illusion' image - it's quite long, nearly 6') :

And worn - he loves it (isn't he a cool rock boy?) :

And my Jejune Rustic Jumper blocking :

A close up of the shoulder :

I love the ends of the sleeves - I reknit these several times, and ended up with a long 1x1 ribbed cuff, on slightly smaller needles, and a Kitchener Stitch Bind Off, which gives a rolled ribbed edge! Nice and stretchy too (which is what I was aiming for) :

The hem has just a few rows of seed stitch. I'm not completely happy with it, the bind off isn't stretchy enough, so I think I'll unravel the hem and knit it a bit longer, and do a better bind off.

The neck is also a bit more 'boat neck' than I was wanting, but it's probably OK. This is a detail of the neck ribbing with a purl ridge before the main body of the jumper...

It's weird, when it's your own design, you keep tweaking, and unravelling, and reknitting, and unravelling, and .... does it ever end?!

Photos of the jumper being worn when I'm feeling more photogenic. Haggard isn't chic ... yet ;)

19 August 2008

Nom Nom Bundanoon

Just thought this one was appropriate for me!


Guess what?! It's all rather last minute - I'm getting five days away here next week - heavily subsidised! One of the facilitators of the Neuro-Immune Program is a dear friend, and she's been asking me to come along for ages; it's time I put away my qualms and just listened to her.

It is a tad too New Agey for me (been there, did that, got the whole f**king wardrobe during my 14 years in a cult - hence my current Mega Skeptic Atheist stance*), but I figure I can still enjoy my time away (hey, look Ma, NO FAMILY), and gain some valuable information, improve my coping skills, and generally chill out. Bundanoon is a seriously nice place, about 2 hours' drive from Canberra.

There is a lot of CFS and fibromyalgia in our family, including poor Hubby who is basically bedridden now, as well as Dotter's diabetes and other mystery auto-immune disease (Lupus? Sjögren's? Something else?), and I'm pretty bloody sick of it - both as a sufferer and Carer x 3. We're ALL sick of it, of course, but I'm the one who makes the family work; you know what that entails. No other fully functioning adult on the horizon... and it is really wearing thin.

Hell, if nothing else, I'll have five days away - no mobiles, no computer, no e-mail - but YES knitting!

* PS No posts on 'miracle cures' for CFS / FM / T1D / Lupus please. We have really excellent doctors who think "outside the box", and are doing all they can. Thank you :-)

16 August 2008


A couple of exciting things have happened this week ...

We heard that Dotter's application for an insulin pump has been successful! This means she'll be given a pump, which will still be owned by PaTCH (Paediatrics at The Canberra Hospital), to use as long as she needs it (I think). I'm not sure of all the details yet, but at Diabetes Clinic yesterday we found out a little more.

(Photo from Wikipedia, public domain)

An insulin pump is a microcomputer which holds a vial of insulin, and is attached to her via a cannula (a soft tube into the fat layer on her tummy), and worn in a little pouch or pocket. So instead of having to inject herself each time she eats, she can simply dial up how much carbohydrate she's about to have (something we're much better at estimating than a year ago!), and it will deliver the insulin. It also provides a background, or basal, level of insulin all the time.

The cannula only needs to be changed every 3 days or so. She'll still need to do heaps of finger prick tests, of course, to check her blood glucose levels, but it's a lot fewer injections into her tummy.

The pump can't get wet, so she needs to disconnect it from the cannula when she has a shower etc. Otherwise she needs to wear it all the time.

It is a very complicated device, and a much more involved way of managing her diabetes - we've got a lot to learn. But it should help a lot, as she has poor BGL control because of her other autoimmune illness. The PatCH pumps are only available to kids who have a dual diagnosis (ie are sick with something else as well as the Type 1 Diabetes).

The pump is courtesy of a wonderful group of parents who do fund raising and purchase pumps for PaTCH. Pumps are very expensive ($4,000 to $8,000 each), which is beyond us. The consumables are more expensive than for insulin pens (which are totally subsidised by the government), so running costs will be about $3/day. Well worth it.

We need to decide which pump we want from a small selection, and then Dotter will need nearly a week of hospital visits (outpatient) to set it up properly. Soon, hopefully!!


In other exciting news, which I can't go into in detail, and is NOT associated with the book proposal I sent off last week, I have been asked to be the author on a proposed puzzle book. I don't have to write the proposal or anything, the acquisitions editor does all that, I just have to say HELL YEAH! I should know in a few weeks if it's been given the go ahead ... even if it doesn't come off, it is SO great to have been asked, a real break for me.

Of course, if it is approved, I'll be launched into a heavy writing schedule pretty much immediately 0_o Which is good - but also a little daunting!


11 August 2008

Socky Goodness

It's been a productive week :

My book proposal has been posted to America (culmination of 3 months' work - and of course, if I am offered a book deal, there's a good 10-12 months of solid work ahead!).

I finished my Jejune Jumper, and am wearing it so much I haven't got photos yet! I need to lengthen the sleeves a bit, though, so might get that done before taking photos...

I finished the first sock for Penny in Vienna, and am halfway through the leg of the second one :

BAD Dotter was naughty (as bad daughters are), and bought 2 more baby boy rats without asking - meet Pteppic and Rincewind (behind him) (more Terry Pratchett names). They are cute, it's true! She says it won't happen again. Do I believe her? Hmmmm....

We had snow yesterday! Nothing on what we're used to after living in Colorado, where they get serious f**k off snow - but there was actual white stuff on the ground for a little while, and floating through the air.

And this week? My youngest sister and her husband and little Ben (he of Sherwood Jumper fame) arrive back in Canberra tomorrow, to live here again for a few years! Huzzah! She scored a research position at the National Museum of Australia (she's a historian). And it's Hubby's birthday! Celebrations all round!

07 August 2008

Sunnyboy Jumper

I'm sure you all know what this is - a Sunnyboy pouch made by the divine Quiltingmick from Button Tree Lane! I even got to choose the clever 'knitting' fabric (it's screen printed by AuntyCookie in Melbourne). LOVE it. It's my new knitting tool kit.

A progress pic on my 'Jejune Jumper' - started the second sleeve last night - should have this little baby finished by the weekend! The body is a bit twisted in this pic ... there are equal sized ribbed areas at the sides.

I've been very confused and unsure of what to do about my hip. I saw my surgeon yesterday briefly (when picking up my x-rays) and he's advised me to get as much use from my hip as I can, before going in for surgery (and yes, it does need to be a total hip replacement). Because I'm so young for this operation, I'm looking at at least 1 and maybe even 2 revisions (replacement of the prosthesis - a very difficult operation) - and with each one the risks and complications increase a lot.

He says I'll know when I need it - and since I clearly DON'T know at the moment, I guess I'm not ready ... it does hurt more, but I'm not incapacitated by it, and can still walk, do bellydancing, and be pretty mobile.

I know I'm looking at surgery in the near future - within a year or two - but not next month. Which is nice. Gives me time to sort stuff out in my head, get a bit of counselling, prepare for the whole thing.

OK, off for my Jejune Day! Staying HOME all day, with time for tea, bellydancing practice, knitting, reading, sewing (stay tuned!), a go at some needle felting, and maybe even a bit of painting. Or maybe none of the above, and just sleeping all day, that also sounds bloody appealing at the moment!

04 August 2008

An easier gauge swatch

I don't know about you, but I find counting the stitches while holding a ruler against a gauge swatch all rather difficult and annoying... like I needed a disincentive!

I recently came up with this 'reverse method' which is working much better for me, so I thought I'd share :

Firstly, knit your gauge swatch as per your pattern (come on, you know you should!)

Secondly, wash and block it (ditto!). It doesn't take long! Honest!

Thirdly, read your pattern for how many stitches you're aiming for in the gauge swatch (eg 22 stitches : 4" or 18 stitches : 10cm, or whatever).

Fourthly (is that even a word?), count that number of stitches, and place pins to mark the stitch count. Make a note of this number if you're forgetful like me (what was your name again, sorry?)

Fifthly (pretty sure that isn't a word), get out your ruler, and measure the distance between the two marker pins.

Sixthly (now that's a bugger to say), you can see very easily now if you're on gauge!

As an example :

If the number of stitches you're aiming for (say 22 in 10 cm) measures up as less than 10 cm, then you need to use slightly bigger needles (you've got too many stitches in the 10 cm / 4").

If the 22 stitches measure up as more than 10 cm, your gauge is too loose, and you need to use slightly smaller needles (you've got too few stitches in the 10 cm/ 4").

While it mightn't come across well in words, I do find it easier to 'read' my gauge using this method (ie knowing the number of stitches, and seeing what it measures, rather than knowing the measure, and counting the stitches). I hope you find it helpful too.

Our model today was Bendigo Rustic 12ply, wearing Red Tweed. Styling by Jejune. Pins by Haberdashery Heaven. Towel by Ye Olde Linen Cupboarde.

02 August 2008

My first jumper

Here's the story of my earliest garment knitting, as started by Kate...

I can't remember when I learnt to knit - it was when I was pretty young. I knit dolls clothes, and bits and pieces, but nothing really memorable (not that comes to mind now anyway!).

In 1982 I met R ... we were both 17. And I was enamoured enough to make him this :

(Patons pattern, Totem). Yes reader, I married him. And he still wears this vest (he calls it his 'Bunny Hug', cos it's like I'm hugging him when he wears it ;) Aaaaaaaw... Look how well it's worn over 26 years!

In 1983 I left home, and was working part-time as a lab tech at CSIRO Plant Industry, and studying biology at the ANU. One of the senior lab techs was a lovely older Danish woman, Maria. She was an avid knitter, and took me under her wing. In our tea and lunch breaks she taught me how to knit on circular needles, shared patterns with me, and guided me through making my first jumper.

So, with her help, I made this for myself, using Alafoss Lopi yarn :

Yeah, yeah, I'm the one on the LEFT. Very funny ... ;)

I honestly can't remember what happened to it! I think it may have been a little tight around the chest / under the arms, and I may have given it to my younger sister? It was pretty itchy, too. But extremely warm!

From this jumper I went on to knit quite a few Lopi jumpers, for boyfriend R, my dad (don't you love his house-painting outfit in this pic?!), and younger brothers...