31 December 2009

Annual Stash Review

This isn't too much yarn. Honest.

But maybe it is time to reorganise it ... the Annual Stash Review. It's taken several days.

I've updated my stash on Ravelry, but thought it would be kind of nice to have a written record as well, hence the notebook and pen. Scales were employed, remaining yardages (metreages, whatever) were calculated, maths was used.

Look at the lovely organised basket of yarn ... yummy ...

Miss Petal checked out that the wicker hamper was safe for special yarn ... it gets the All Points Puppy Clearance Woof of Approval and repacked :

Miss Petal even helped to wind unruly balls of yarn into tidy balls (not that she ever contributes to the existence of unruly balls, no, never. Would this puppy lie to you?).

The Wooden Chest :

The Basket :

The Hamper :

Nice to start 2010 with a tidy stash, and a good idea of what's in there! Plenty of knitting from the stash ahead this year :D

Note to self : I have enough sock yarn to last at least 5 years. Just saying ...

Hip News :

This is what my leg looks like now. Staples are out, dressing is off for good, it's all healing well. The vertical thick scars are from my multiple CDH childhood surgeries. The redder angled scar is from the top hip replacement (posterior approach), 6 weeks ago. A nice narrow scar, much neater than what they did to me in the 1960s and 70s!

I'm allowed back on the road now, had my first little drive in nearly 2 months yesterday - it's great to feel some independence returning!

My physio exercises are progressing to standing exercises, rather than lying down. And I can walk around without crutches or a walking stick. I take short steps, and go slowly, but no walking aids, yay! When I'm out shopping I still use a stick, just in case, but I'm enjoying not needing assistance at home.

There are still challenges - my obturator nerve is still stuffed, although it is making slow progress, and I'm still on pain meds. I still get tired pretty quickly, am sometimes getting cramps in my thigh and knee, and keeping to the 90º rule is difficult at times. I'm still on Warfarin and have to wear the DVT stockings in this summer heat. But on the whole, things are definitely looking up!

Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year - here's to a great year ahead in 2010!!

24 December 2009

Yippy Chrissie

Best wishes to you for a restful, relaxing festive season, filled with yummy treats (mmm, dried liver bits), gifts (ooooh, bones!), loved ones (lick lick bite lick), and fun activities (yay, paper shredding!).

With love from Miss Petal and Jejune :)

21 December 2009


You know me, I'm always on the lookout for cool 'green living' ideas and products. These just arrived in the mail :

Greensacks are Australian-designed, and not expensive. These 5 bags cost me $15. They are to use in the supermarket, to bag fresh fruit and veggies, instead of using those thin plastic bags. The fruit and veg can be stored in the bags too, in the fridge or wherever. They were even a finalist in the 2009 Green Invention awards! They're made of a fine mesh, and are machine washable.

ETA : I didn't use the thin plastic bags for quite some time, and just bought stuff loose, especially if there were only 3 or 4 of the fruit or veg. That is, until Dotter did a microbiology class at school, and came back totally horrified at how many nasty nasty bugs there are on supermarket conveyor belts, which she'd grown cultures of ... the really really bad bacteria. She's insisted that I use some sort of protection over the fresh produce since then. Hence my trying to find an alternative to the plastic bags :)

I'm getting some of my knitting mojo back (not so doped out on pain meds now!) ...

It's amazing how often I don't knit things from the gorgeous knitting books I have - time to remedy this! These are the Kai-Mei socks from the book Sock Innovation by Cookie A. Yarn is Merino Cashmere sock yarn by The Knittery (now sadly closed down). I got this much done last night :

And a quick Christmas pressie for my niece, who loves dressing up - the Make Believe Crown pattern is from Interweave Knits' web site. I made it with thick cotton (from LittleNeedles!) as she's allergic to wool.

Latest hip news - I'm slowly improving, but last week I got a slightly infected toe which sent my surgeon and GP into a bit of a tizz - very real risk of the infection spreading into my hip, which is a Very Very Bad Thing (if it gets in, you have to have the prosthesis removed and a new one put in - NOT nice surgery). So I'm on antibiotics for a couple of weeks.

I can walk more easily now, and sometimes don't even use a walking stick around home, but in general I'm still using crutches, or a walking stick. I sometimes get slight clunking and shifting / grinding sensations in my hip, which my physio thinks is the femur head and acetabulum (socket) shifting slightly. Eeergh. So when that happens I need to go back to 75% weight-bearing on crutches, to relieve stress on the joint.

My surgeon had to put in a short 'spike' into my femur - my bones are quite deformed and too small for a regular long spike. So this means the whole prosthesis isn't frightfully stable, and probably accounts for the permanent hip restrictions I have from now on. No low seats or squatting down ever again, and probably other things as well - I'll know more when I see my surgeon in about a month. This is taking a bit of getting used to ... normally hip restrictions last for 3 months, not the rest of your life.

The obturator nerve damage is gradually repairing, but it's very slow. If I try with all my might, my inner thigh muscle can contract a tiny tiny amount for a few seconds. My knee pain is gradually lessening too, and I'm needing less of the serious pain meds. Still going to a lot of physio, with plenty of daily exercises.

I've removed the dressing from the wound - it's healed up really well, much narrower and neater than my childhood scars. I need to massage it every day with skin cream (Sorbolene, Vitamin E, BioOil, or something similar). I might venture into the pool next week some time.

I'm allowed to lie on my right side for a little while, if I have 2 pillows between my legs (so the operated leg doesn't fall past the midline of the body). It's so nice to have a change from lying on my back in bed all the time!

Christmas is a bit of a washout this year - cooking is still pretty hard for me, and I haven't done cards, or decorations, or put up the tree, or anything much. We're going to join in the big family luncheon at my sister's (small) house - around 16 adults and 3 or 4 young kids - and just bring the drinks, no cooking required! Will be lovely to see my family, and we can even 'dilute' my tiresome FIL with plenty of other people. Normally we spend the day just with him, and have a fairly horrible time of it. So while he'll probably find it overwhelming and confusing, meh, too bad. He ain't got no choice in the matter, and he'll get a nice meal.

I hope you have a really lovely Christmas holiday, with not too much stress, and thoughtful gifts, and delicious food, and lots of love and hugs!

14 December 2009

Get well treasure trove

LittleNeedles (Rav link) is one of my Ravelry friends. We met on the Chihuahua forum, and from the start it was clear she was a hilarious, generous, and thoughtful person, with quite an obsession with puppies :)

The week I went into hospital a box arrived. A BIG box. As in 60 x 35 x 35 cm. My family opened it, and were astonished by the gift-wrapped bounty inside ... there was too much to bring into hospital to me, but they brought in a new package each day. And I've been opening one or two gifts every couple of days, especially when things were feeling too hard and painful ... for a month. A whole month!

There have been many many books - including Costuming from the Hip (a self-published classic book about making Middle Eastern dance costumes), Victorian Lace Today (bliss!), Amigurumi Knits, and Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies - all from my Amazon wish list.

Everything was in this great bag, which LittleNeedles made herself - and includes a matching magazine holder and project bag. (She has an Etsy store, WeeCouture, check out her stuff!). Petal thinks the bag is great, too! The shredded tissue paper is from Petal helping open the last few pressies last night. She "helped" a lot. Hmmm.

There is a small alpine range of yarn - especially worsted weight cottons (which are very hard to get in Australia), some linen, and much much more!

A special treat is this Buffalo Gold - yes, it's buffalo yarn! Incredibly soft!!

There is a sweet little flapper teddy bear, a cute Clover case, with stitch markers, special scissors, and other treats ...

Did you notice that black case? Yes, it's a set of AddiClicks. This gift literally made me speechless. These are just amazingly wonderful knitting needles ...

There were other treats as well - chocolate, a cute keyring with a 'wraps per inch' sheep gauge, and a mini sock blocker keyring, and even treats for Petal.

LittleNeedle's generosity is just astounding, so I wanted to say a very public THANK YOU to her, and I wish I could give her a hug (but she lives in America). Thank you hardly seems adequate. More like OMG, wow, far out!!

Other friends have sent 'get well' gifts as well, and I'm truly thankful to everyone - Susan and Wendell for the pink fluff and silver plastic princess tiara which I wore in hospital, crosswords, edible treats, and Peaches 'n' Cream cotton; Jenny and Mark for the Vogue magazine and roses; Kate and Traevis for the Paperblanks "Good Dog" notebook and pens; Stuart (Dotter's new boyfriend) for the first bouquet of flowers that I saw when I got back from surgery; Nick and Penny for the hilarious black humour book 11,002 Things to be Miserable About; and cards, phone calls, emails and SMSs from a great many friends and family across the globe. Thank you, everyone, I've appreciated each and every one.

09 December 2009

Fuzzy Observations

Some general observations is about all I can piece together at the moment.

• The pain killer Oxycontin completely destroys one's ability and desire to do pretty much anything, including reading, writing, thinking clearly, following anything on TV, doing puzzles, and knitting. So no, I'm not getting lots of knitting time in. In fact, over 9 days in hospital, all I managed was this solitary baby beanie (knit round and round and round and round).

• Having your femoral nerve 'irritated' during THR surgery causes a great amount of pain and weakness in one's thigh and knee, and it can take months to recover. It's a higher risk injury for THR patients with dysplasia, because of our abnormal anatomy. Damn, bugger, and blast.

Warfarin is rat poison. Carefully balanced rat poison. Squeek squeek.

• DVT stockings are really hot. Not in the sexy way, either.

• It's no bloody use having a long-handled grabber when it's impossible to carry it around with you when you are on crutches. Why aren't there grabbers that can click on to crutches? And if they exist, why don't I have one?!

• What do you do when your grabber falls onto the floor?

• Crutches don't work well as huge "chop sticks".

• A nurse on the orthopedic ward told me that walking with crutches uses about four times the energy of walking. I believe her.

• How did Dr Petal (Acu-Puppy-Pressure Specialist and Lick Therapist) get to be so cute? And when can I stop sleeping with a pillow between my legs?!

• My surgeon is awesome, he just called to answer some of my questions in person. How cool is that?

• My physiotherapist is awesome too. He diagnosed the femoral nerve palsy, which everyone else missed.

• My left leg is a bit longer now (it was short before) and this means when I sit down my left knee sticks out further than my right.

• I can't work for the life of me, but hopefully there's nothing urgent coming up, cos I'll make a dog's breakfast of it! I think I'll have to keep the business closed for another few weeks.

• I don't understand why people would think taking Oxycontin for fun was - well - fun. Apparently my tablets have a huge street value :/ All it does it make you doped out, sleepy, unmotivated and constipated.

• I can get back to the swimming pool for hydrotherapy in a couple of weeks, yay!

• Cooking dinner while on crutches is almost impossible, everything takes three times as long when you can only carry one small thing at a time, can't bend down, and can't use both hands at the same time.

• It's great being able to get out of bed at night, go to the loo, and get back into bed, without having to wake my husband to help anywhere along the process.

• I'm the youngest patient at the Joint Replacement Exercise Class at hospital. By about 2 decades.

• This whole Recovery Process thing is taking much longer and being much harder and more painful than I was expecting, and I'm pretty fed up with the whole thing.

• Dotter is awesome, I'm so proud of her. She's enrolled in the Advance Diploma of Games Programming at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, probably the only woman in the course. Starts Feb 2010.

• Both all my own work - the girl (9 months in utero, 18 years of parenting) and the outfit (weeks to sew). Seen here with a friend from school :

• She was photographed by The Canberra Times at her Year 12 Formal, and was interviewed by the reporter last week, as a Year 12 student who stood out from the crowd (funny that!) - will be in this Sunday's Canberra Times, I gather.

• I stumbled upon this rather cool page of free knitting pattern links ... has some good ones I hadn't found before. Not that I have the brains to knit anything at the moment ... but I can dream!

That's all I can think of for the moment ... over and out.

25 November 2009

Jiggity jig

I came home today, on Day 8 after surgery, to the gentle ministrations of Dr Petal (licks and cuddles a speciality). It is very very good to be home, despite feeling a bit anxious at times with no nurses to ask about things. I'm pretty wiped out, but hope to have a much better night's sleep tonight than I've had in over a week, and having my MIL here is helping no end, with housework and delicious meals (and good company!).

There is still a lot to do in the weeks ahead - frequent blood tests, GP appointments, checking my INR (blood viscosity) levels, making sure my Warfarin doses are right, physio appointments at the hospital twice a week, and so on. But being home is just wonderful.

For the incurably curious, those going in for THR, or those who just like medical stuff (I know, it's weird, but they do exist apparently!), you can see a photo of about half of my wound here. This was taken at about a week post-op; the metal staples will be removed next Tuesday (14 days post-op). The old scars running along the top of my leg are from my childhood surgeries, 40+ years ago.

You have been warned ... it's not bloody, just a fairly radical piercing!

ETA : The wound is healing very well; it's basically covered all the time, apart from when the dressings are changed, which has only been 2 or 3 times so far (so the photo was snapped in mid-change). It's dry, and doing all the right things, which is a relief.

23 November 2009

... and back again

Good grief, it's been a rough week, one I don't care to repeat. Ever. Here's a summary of where things are up to, from my hospital bed. I'm on Day 6 post op now.

The THR took around 4 hours, twice as long as expected. Despite planning on a ceramic/ceramic joint, in the end I've got a ceramic femur head (48 mm very small), a short stem into the femur, and a plastic (polycarbonate?) acetabulum, which gives better coverage.

Some surgeon told me on Day 1 that I've been ordered permanent hip restrictions, because of the smallness of my bones and replacement and weird anatomy. But when I checked with my surgical team this morning they had no record of this! So I'll need to wait to hear back from Dr Smith about this (he's on holidays).

Main problems have been :

Low blood pressure (still a problem), I get very dizzy and nauseated when I sit and stand up. I'm often on oxygen to help with this.

My left knee is very swollen and extremely painful, can tell when meds are wearing off by the state of my knee! Have had it x-rayed, still waiting on the report.

Pain management - I couldn't have a femoral nerve block, and my dear surgeon stopped my PCA after 12 hours (don't know why, nurses weren't impressed either!), there was some miscommunication about getting me onto alternative pain relief, the first few days were hellish.

I got a small blood clot in my lungs. My legs are all clear (had an ultrasound). My chest x-ray was clear, but my chest CT scan showed a clot. Am on Warfrin now for 6 months, and now have a lifelong risk of future blood clots too :/ For joy.

Crazed woman with severe dementia is in the bed across from me (I'm in a 4 bed room), who is 94, and talks / yells / demands non-stop when awake. Which seems to be most of the time, especially overnight. Even the saintly nurses can't stand her, which is saying something. She is making an already difficult situation much more unpleasant and distressing.

The good things :

My surgeon is happy with how the operation went, I didn't lose much blood, and didn't need a transfusion.

My leg length difference has probably been fixed (about 1 cm increase).

I'm starting to be able to sleep through the night, which is helping hugely. When said roommate is not ranting all night. Ear plugs are essential!

I'm off the walker already and onto my elbow crutches.

My pain meds are being reduced slowly, to see how things go, and I'm not needing oxygen as much.

My next door bed buddy W is lovely. She had a THR some years ago, but fell this week, and has just had another THR on the other hip. She's 81. Early Saturday morning (6 am) they were prepping her for surgery, and while the nurses were saying "You'll be fine" it was clear she was terrified and feeling very alone.

I introduced myself, sat with her for an hour, held her hand, and talked with her about her fear, not just dismissing it (having been there myself!!!) and talked with her about distracting things too, and then lent her my iPod with some calming music. It made a huge difference to her, and I was so glad I could help her out - another hip sister :)

Each day I can see that my mobility is getting better, it's less painful to move my left leg, and things are getting better. But it has been a much more painful experience than I was expecting.

The wound is very clean, only needed the dressing changed on Saturday for the first time. It's a posterior approach, cutting around my hip into my bum. Around 20-25 staples, just saw them for the first time, big metal - yup - staples. Horrible. They'll come out in another week or so. Looks like I've been attacked by a shark.

So that's me ... it's bloody hard and painful, I wasn't really prepared for recovery very well, as I was so focussed on the surgery itself! But the bad bits are mostly behind me now ...

Thank you everyone for all your kind messages and thoughts!

xxxooo Denise

16 November 2009

Nearly there ...

So, it's Monday 16 November, the day before the Big Day for my left hip replacement. I'll probably be in surgery in less than 24 hours from now! My surgeon has allotted 2 hours for the surgery, give or take a bit, I presume. I'm fasting from midnight on, and arriving at hospital at 9am, surgery early afternoon most likely.

My bag is packed, my super easy knitting projects have been started (a washcloth and Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf), the bills have been paid, everything's ready.

I'm not feeling too bad today - mind you, a regular diet of Diazepam is helping enormously. Wouldn't be coping otherwise! Bit fuzzy in the head, not to be trusted with scissors or knives (my family's decision once they saw me trying to cook last night!), but am more or less okay, mostly. In many ways it will be quite a relief to just get on with it, after roughly 18 months of discussions, planning, medical appointments, waiting, pain, disability, and far too much worrying.

This is my before photo - how the outer side of my left leg looks now, as a result of my childhood surgeries. They're thick in parts because they were cut several times in the same places. I've grown up with these scars, so am very comfortable with them. There's also significant scarring, weird anatomy, and loss of muscle all around my groin, but you ain't getting photos of that!

I'm expecting that Tuesday and Wednesday will be a bit grim ... or at least that I'll be rather doped out on morphine and not coherent. Probably won't be able to knit for a few days, too, depending on where the IV line is put in (hand or elbow being the most likely candidates).

I hope I'll be able to update my blog from hospital (using a nifty little USB modem and hubby's Eee-PC) later on this week. I'll eventually post photos of my leg post-op, too, but will put them in as a link, so you won't have to see them if you don't want to. Could be rather bloody.

Thank you everyone for all your very kind wishes, and sending love, and everything. I really appreciate them all :)

Catch you on the other side - and won't THAT be a good feeling??!!

12 November 2009

Hip Ginger Beret

Hip News

I attended my Pre-Admission Clinic for my hip replacement this week, which took about 3 hours. I had blood and urine tests, baseline readings for blood pressure and so on, hip x-rays (so my surgeon can measure what size implant to have ready), and spoke with a nurse, anaesthetist, and my surgeon's intern. It all went smoothly, and I managed to be surprisingly calm throughout.

The main problem is I can't have a femoral nerve block for pain relief post-op. As I suspected, my hip/groin area is too mangled and abnormal from previous surgeries, with a lot of scar tissue, and very little muscle - the anaesthetist couldn't even find my femoral vein, let alone the nerve. And an epidural isn't recommended; apart from the risk of permanent paralysis, it reacts badly with the DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) anti-clotting med Clexane which I'll be on for a month. So that means nothing that will numb just my leg for the first 2 days. My surgeon can flood the hip with local anaesthetic which will give me about 12 hours coverage after surgery, and I'll have to rely on PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) for the rest.

The one slight up side of this is I won't have an entirely numb leg, and this may make getting mobile (which happens very fast, the day after surgery) a bit easier. But my pain levels may be higher. For joy.

Anxiety is setting in pretty badly now, have started on Diazepam at the lowest dose, but it's probably not enough ... They'll give me a couple of Temazepam as soon as I get to hospital next Tuesday to hopefully knock me out for the 3-4 hour wait for my turn. Surgery will probably be early afternoon, and last several hours.

My bag is packed and ready to go - my main task now is to figure out some good hospital knitting projects! Morphine Lace probably isn't a good option ... I'm thinking a wash cloth or two, a pair of socks, and maybe another brioche stitch beret for when I'm more with it? Any other ideas?

Windmill Beret

It's done, and it's gorgeous! I did the bind off about 5 times ... the main problem was getting the diameter just right to fit my little head. I used the pretty braided bind off that the pattern specifies. It's rather inflexible, though (hence needing to redo it to get the size just right).

Glacé Ginger
This was a bit of fun, trying to make candied ginger at home. I finally managed it on the third recipe. This one works the best. The key is repeated overnight soaking in sugar syrup. The recipe takes 5 days, but only has around 2 hours of cooking time, which is much better energy-wise than many recipes which call for 5+ hours of simmering. It tastes wonderful, too - but basically the same as store-bought ginger.

Did you know you can peel ginger with the rim of a spoon? It's true, and it works well! Hold it so the bowl of the spoon faces away from you. Takes a fair bit of strength, but it goes around all the lumps and bumps, and you lose very little ginger in the process.

My only adjustments to the recipe : I added some water to the syrup each day, around 100-200 ml, otherwise it gets too thick and can caramelise/burn (ask me how I know!). I recommend cutting the ginger into thin slices, around 2-3 mm (not chunks like you buy). Use the youngest ginger you can find, too. Breaking down the thick cellulose fibres is the main obstacle to good candied ginger.

This is how it looked on Day 2 :

And on Day 4 :

But you know what - as fun as this was to make - and OMG the leftover syrup forms the most amazing ginger "toffee" - it's not cost effective, unless you grow your own ginger, or have a very cheap source. I priced crystallised ginger from Woolies at $16/kg, and glacé ginger (on sale) at $24/kg. My batch cost around $20/kg to make ($6 for 300g).

Economies of scale win here - I'm sure the commercial suppliers pay much less than $15/kg for their raw ginger root!

07 November 2009

Happy Book Day

This morning the kids and I went out to visit Joviva Chihuahuas, to meet her latest litter ... just for fun - Dotter was especially taken with this little sweetie pie ... so tiny!

When we got back, look what was waiting for me! A Saturday delivery, no less (very unusual in Australia).

There's really nothing like it, holding your own book in your hands for the first time. Super exciting. Big thanks for Mark Koltko-Rivera for being such an awesome coauthor too! I think that between the two of us we've created something better than either of us could have done alone (well, it's certainly the case for me, at least!).

If you'd like to be a reviewer, and get a free copy, head on over to my Facebook Page for instructions :)

PS I have turned on verification on posting as I've been getting comment spam, hopefully this will fix the problem :p

04 November 2009

Crutch Cosies

Crutches have been an inevitable part of my life in recent months, and the trend is set to continue for a while yet ... I've got my own elbow crutches, which I find more convenient and comfortable than a walking stick or 'normal' underarm crutches - you can at least do stuff with your hands without the blasted things falling over! Very handy when out shopping, or doing stuff in the kitchen.

Apart from plain grey crutches being the bottom of the list of attractive accessories, elbow crutches have the added complication of having a Right and Left crutch. To avoid gauche fumbling when out, it's good to have help in quickly identifying which crutch is which, so one can look suave and in control, LOL. Well, we all have our dreams .... ;)

So these cosies double as awesome decoration, and quick identification (the right one has the purple section on it). The knitted fabric also helps them to stay put when leaning them against things - a bit more friction than a metal surface.

Coming to the rescue - Missability's Walking Stick Cosy pattern! Because of the shape of my elbow crutches I had to knit a flat piece and sew it on (under the elbow cuff and above the hand rests). Actually, I tell a lie. I knitted them, and Dotter sewed them on, after throwing her hands up in horror and unpicking my pathetic attempts at invisible mattress stitch, LOL. She's much better at it than I am!

My adaptation for elbow crutches (knit flat and sewn on) :

Use 4 ply sock yarn and 2.5 mm needles
I used Regia's Kaffe Fasset sock yarn, gorgeous colours!

• Cast on 24 stitches
• Work 8 rows of 1 x 1 ribbing
• Knit to ~ 1 cm short of desired length in stocking stitch / stockinette (or whatever pattern you like)
• Work 8 rows of 1 x 1 ribbing
• Bind off
• Attach to crutch with invisible mattress stitch, preferably using clever daughter

NB : The cosies will generally sit lower than you're expecting. My first cosies ended up being way too short, and even these second ones, which I really thought would be long enough, still sort of scrunch up and sit shorter than I'd like. So if in doubt, knit a bit more!

And isn't this pink fuchsia gorgeous? Fuchsias are one of the few flowers I seem to be able to grow - but I've only ever had the 'classic' coloured one. Bunnings got in this batch of pink ones last week - yummy!

02 November 2009

Would you like a date?

Well, I suppose I would. I guess. How does 17 November sound? Oh, OK, if I have to.

By 18 November the worst will be over, I'll have a ceramic hip, and can start working on that recovery thing ... I'm closing the business for three weeks from next Monday, and starting the Valium around 15 November!

Petal has been brave and had her surgery too, last Friday (desexing and microchipping). She's making a speedy recovery, and I hope I can do the same!

A courier came to the door this morning, with a slender package from Wiley - ooooh, the book??! No - it contained a gift from Laura, the lovely editorial assistant who has interviewed my coauthor Mark and myself for the Dummies' Authors Newsletter - Mark and I each got one of these 'Dummies Authors' kits :

A nice zippered folder, with handy pockets, containing :

A couple of Dummies pens, Post-It notes, a real pad of American US Letter-sized paper, a tiny sewing kit, Dummies bookmarks ...

... a Dummies 1 Gb USB thumb drive ...

... and a Dummies keyring!

I'm all set!

30 October 2009

Brioche Beret

No, I haven't been baking (well, I have, but not brioche ;)

I've been learning how to do brioche stitch, also known as fisherman's rib, using this web site.

This is a seriously cool stitch pattern - each row is knit twice, with first the odd stitches being knit / even stitches slipped, and then the even stitches being knit / odd stitches being slipped. It's a bit more tricky than that, but that's the basic idea.

And the reason for this, apart from always liking to learn new things? I simply had to make a Windmill Beret (Rav link) by Nancy Marchant (or pretty much any of her beret patterns, really - all free, on the same web site above). Isn't it stunning?!

I'm using 1 skein of Noro Silk Garden, and 1 skein of Naturally Loyal (leaf green). It's knit from the top down, and the first few rows are very fiddly - i think I had to restart about four times. In the end, I found using a long circular needle (magic loop) much easier than DPNs.

This is what it looks like on the 'wrong' side ...

It takes a fair bit of concentration initially, but once the technique 'clicks' - which it did for me around Row 10 - the whole process is much faster. I've got to this point in three days ... hope to finish it this weekend! And I think I'll be making more of these!

23 October 2009


Well, I've just got my official letter from the hospital, for my Pre- Admission Clinic for my hip replacement - 10 November! It can take up to 4 hours. This is where I'll get to meet the anaesthetist, nurses, and members of the surgical team, as well as have x-rays, blood tests, do the admission papers, etc etc.

And when I spoke to the Surgical Bookings lady yesterday, she said my surgery will be "mid-November" - I got the impression they've selected a date (probably roughly a week after my clinic) - they're just waiting on my surgeon to confirm the exact date now, I should hear for sure in a week or so! Eeeeek!

Some crafty things to share :

The dress for Dotter's Year 12 Formal outfit - I'm nearly finished the lined tailored vest that goes over this dress. Just have the zip to put in, and then a separate collar and tie to make! Really want to get it done soon, before I go to hospital ... her Formal is on 27 November.

Two super cute beanies for my favourite editor, Sarah, who's having her first child any day now. I'd better get these in the post soon!

A Berry Beanie ... I love this pattern :

This one is a "Sock Topper" baby beanie, using scraps of sock yarn. This one is in Opal "Feelings".

This is the Super Ben Cape (Rav link) for my nephew Ben - this was his gift for becoming a Big Brother - worn here with his favourite Power Rangers outfit, which he lives in! Pattern is in the New Knits on the Block book by Vicki Howell.

And the reason for the gift : Ben's new brother, and my littlest nephew, Thomas Rowan, born on 6 October ... photo taken when he was 3 days old - aaaaaaaaw :)