Thursday, 17 December 2009


I am now on holidays. Part of the break will be stressful (I'll be on family duty, which always is), but at the moment that doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm on holidays, and that tomorrow I don't have to get up at six thirty. It is good.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

I have been knitting, after all

On a strange turn of events, today I not only had energy to do things I both wanted and had to do, but to take pictures of things and update!

I've admitted to myself that I'm only knitting the Peaks Island Hood, so I set everything else to hibernate, and took pictures of it. It is a strange feeling to only be knitting one project, but, at this point, it is exactly the right number of them. I also love this project, the yarn, and the way the seed stitch looks.

Peaks Island Hood WIP

On exciting health news, I had an MRI last week. It didn't rip my dental metalwork out, and I found the experience incredibly relaxing. The MRI machine is loud, but with the ear defenders it just feels like a low rumble, and it nearly put me to sleep :)
Peaks Island Hood WIP

There are only 5 more work days until I have two weeks holiday. It won't all be relaxing, but the beginning and end should be fairly quiet, and hopefully I can stock up on rest and knitting for the new year.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Lil'Cthulhu ate my sanity

Lil'Cthulhu ate my sanity. What about yours?

Energy is back to "normal", I think. By normal I of course mean me-normal, still requiring to be in bed by 11 pm and not going out, etc, but at least I do manage to be awake for most of the day, and even do stuff beyond the basic. Go team!
The plus side of the slumber of energy is that my doctor has got herself in gear (I think I scared her), and I'm having more prodding and poking this week than I've had for a while. Something may yield a result, and that prospect both makes me happy and scared.

I have been knitting again, but nothing that is nominally on my knitting list (see sidebar top). After I met Ysolda at my LYS (that was the first time I knit for 3-4 weeks), I got some orange yarn and cast on for the Peaks Island Hood (rav). It is a good mix of mindless and interesting, and I have just started the hood part.

I have no idea when/if I'll pick back up the knitting list, but at the moment I'm not going to push it: I'm just happy I kind of feel like knitting again.
One of these days it may even stop pouring down like the world is going to end, and I may have enough light to take some pictures. But I'm not holding my breath on the rain thing.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A little better

Things have been a bit better since I wrote my last post.
My sleep got a bit better. I only worked a half day on Friday, and even if I didn't get to do as much as I wanted, it was both nice and restful. I got a very shiny iPod Touch. I went to a Jonathan Coulton concert (with Paul & Storm), which was a lot of fun. I met Ysolda, and now I appear in her blog. I am meeting friends (friends!) on Saturday for some knitting.

I am still quite low on energy, but not as low. Still not finding a lot of joy on things, but things feel a little bit better. I may make it this week to the gym (after two no-show weeks and the leaving-in-the-middle week). I have a doctor appointment next week, and this time I am bringing her a list with things to check, so hopefully something will yield results.

Is it sleep time now? Please?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


The last couple of weeks feel like I've been wading through molasses. I've been tired for a long time, but never this tired. By the time I come back from work, I'm so shattered that I can only manage to do the bare minimum to have food and clean clothes, and then it's bed time again. I've not had any free time for a while, and whatever free time I have I just want to hibernate, and even hobbies feel like a chore.

I'm only working a half day this Friday. My original plan was to go do some shopping when shops are empty-ish, but I'm just going to come home and pass out, because I can't handle this. It makes me feel like a failure, but if I sleep then maybe, maybe, I'll have a shot at spending some of my weekend time away.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

You spin me right round

First spindle kit

Like a record, baby, right round

First spindle kit

This is the Drop Spindle Kit from Silver Sun Alpacas. He kindly changed the fibre from wool to a beautiful black carbonised bamboo for me, and included a little sample of another bit of bamboo! It arrived today and I can't wait to start.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

4 km/h

Yesterday I went to the gym. I didn't really want to be there because I was very tired, but it is by GP referral, so it is something I really need to do once a week. My exercise plan is 30-40 min of light exercise (really light, I don't even break a sweat).

My normal threadmill speed is 5km/h, which is a brisk walk. I got on the threadmill, fired it up, and started to increase the speed. At 3 km/h, I started to have trouble keeping up. At 4 km/h, I had to stop the machine, because I was worried I was going to fall off. I left the gym (slowly) in tears.
Normally the fatigue just makes me sleepy and a bit slow, but never like this. I was too tired to walk at 4 km/h. It is still burning.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Because I have so much free time...

I have just ordered off Etsy a beginner's spindle kit! It took a while to find a nice one that didn't involve animal hair, although in the end that problem was solved as the seller kindly substituted the original wool by bamboo.

A not insignificant part of the reason I want to learn how to spin, even if just with a spindle, is to improve my skills for the zombie apocalypse. If I can survive the initial chaos, I have the awesome skill of being able to make clothes out of sticks and string, and I want to be able to spin my own yarn as well. All for the zombie apocalypse, baby!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Light conversion

As well as silly comments about my light box at work, several people have approached me to confirm that it is indeed a light box. Some of them, or someone they know, suffer from mild SAD too, and want to know whether it helps, and how it works, so they can look into it.
I doubt I will start a light box trend at work (I don't want to be trendy), but I like that people are willing to accept it, and do something about it!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

T is for therapy

Belatedly, T is for therapy

T is for therapy

A bit of light therapy
T is for therapy

A bit of mental therapy
T is for therapy
A bit of relaxation therapy
T is for therapy

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Autumn makes for difficult pictures

I have spent at least the last 3 or 4 days trying to get a good picture of my woodland shawl, to show off. It's been a failure.
Part of the problem is that, by the time I get home from work, it is already relatively dark. Not night yet, thankfully, but dark enough that I don't get good natural light.
Turning on lights hasn't done a lot of good either. The shawl goes towards darkish, and the light disappears on first contact with the shawl. If I try to play with the camera settings, the yarn, which has a little bit of a natural shine to it, appears to be made exclusively of shiny, and it doesn't quite show how it really looks.

I finally manage to take a decent picture today, by finding a nice rock on my way home from work. Because nothing says knitting obsessed like finishing a row by the side of a road so you can take pictures while the light is right.

Pluto Woodland shawl WIP

Yesterday my chair ate some of the yarn that was attached to my shawl (you can sort-of see the two strands on the left). So well eaten I had to snip it. I was not happy. Then the evening kept piling on crap on my, so I broke out the big weapons: SpindleImp's hand spun silk. It's now wound onto a ball, ready to start Branching Out. I just need to decide whether I want to use 4.5 or 5 mm needles. Also bought some more Rowan Pure Life Organic Cotton so I can make some Veylas. No, I don't have too many projects on the needles, why you ask? :)

On a light-related topic, I have started to take my light box to work. First would be to mention that I have, indeed, bought a proper (although travel) light box, instead of just a craft lamp. I have been taking my box to work this week, after checking on Monday with my co-workers that the light doesn't bother them. I've been getting of the expected silly questions (are you going to get a tan? isn't sunlight enough? -after using it for a morning: so, now you don't have SAD any more?), but overall people have not been bothering me.
Technically, I'm not sure I have SAD or not, but my vitamin D levels go a bit low during the winter, and I have found that the light helps me be less sleepy all the freaking time, so I'm trying to fight everything off with the Power of Electricity!

Look, a shawl detail! I have pictures to show!
Pluto Woodland shawl WIP

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Week event pile-up

Sometimes things just pile upon you. I'm not talking necessarily bad things, but just how you happily coast along quiet weeks when nothing happens, and then suddenly all the events and occurrences of the month happen in the same week. I am in one of those weeks, and I find myself almost wishing that it was next Monday (Monday, people, Monday!), as that marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a normal, quiet week.

I have been squeezing some knitting time, in a (probably misguided and futile) attempt at keeping me sane. Most of this knitting time has happened during my work commute, but as a result, my Pluto for Planet Woodland Shawl (ignore the silly name) is coming on. I probably knit about half a pattern repeat when I took it with me on holidays, but now it's finally starting to prosper.

I have also been doing some crochet: I've finally carried on with my GIR, after deciding that I wanted to start with 6 stitches instead of 8, and I've reawaken the tachikoma, which I'm making up all on my own. Smithers was a big fan of tachikomas, so I figured it was about time I continued with it. Even if he can't see it now.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

ABC-along catch-up: R & S

I'm not very good at this regular blogging business, right? I'm trying to catch up on the abc-along, and then hopefully there will be some real posts. I haven't done a lot of knitting lately, mainly reading (and then repairing my computer when it crashed and needed a completely brain wipe, then a new graphics card), but I'm back on track.

R is for rug

I know most of you have seen my old living room rug, because I take a lot of knitting pictures on it! It was a nice cheap rug from IKEA, which served us well, but we wanted to replace it with something on which the spilled wine wouldn't show as much.
And now I have a new rug!
R is for Rug

S is for Seafood soup

Continuing on the food theme, S is for seafood soup.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
- ~250 g mixed seafood
- 100 g fish (we use the "fish pie mix")
- 1/2 pint chicken stock
- ~75 ml white wine
- butter
- herbs (basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano)

Melt some butter in a pot, and slowly heat the onions and garlic until softened.
Add the tomatoes, stock, a small glass of water, the wine and herbs, and simmer for ~ 25 minutes.
S is for seafood soup

Add the seafood and fish, heat up, then simmer for 6-8 more minutes
S is for seafood soup       S is for seafood soup

Serve with nice bread and enjoy!
S is for seafood soup

Finally, S is accidentally on time for Smithers. Smithers was one of my friends from university, who died this week after being hit by a bus. He was knocked unconscious immediately, so at least he did not suffer.
Smithers was a very kind and gentle person, incredibly intelligent, and with the type of enthusiasm that is contagious and actually makes things happen. We are all a bit more poor with this loss. I have accepted his death on an intellectual level, but I haven't yet truly understood what it really means. The concept of Smithers is no longer alive is too surreal to understand.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

In the last week or so, I...

- went to the Last Night of the Proms, and it was a lot of fun
- spent some very nice days in Lille, eating an awful lot of melted cheese and drinking wine
- have barely knit anything, but read lots
- rested a lot, and feel almost human (hurrah for 10 hrs of sleep a day!)
- started therapy again, but I can't tell how it's going yet
- managed to badly crash my desktop
- have moved onto my very old, very wine-stained laptop
- am about to go see District 9
- have become even more insane and plan to finish my Hanami stole in two weeks (did I mention I'm only a bit past the half-way point?)

Friday, 11 September 2009

The blog silence continues

Tiredness sucks. And makes everything worse. I'm sure with time it will get better, but for now going to the gym (40 min gentle exercise) leaves me even more exhausted for 2-3 days after each visit.

I'm starting this evening (in 20 min!) my much-deserved holidays, so hopefully a lot of rest and nice things will recharge my batteries. There will be pictures when I come back!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bluerose socks (FO)

Yesterday I went to the local CFS clinic. This was a very scary trip for me; I've been very tired for the last 15 months for no obvious reason, and while I really want to know why, I did not want to have CFS.
Turns out that I don't (I don't fulfil enough of the criteria for it), which simply means we still don't know what is wrong with me, but I needed all my strength, and wore my Bluerose Socks to my appointment.
Let's talk about socks now!

Bluerose Socks FO

Technical details
Ravelry project page
Pattern: Blackrose socks (Knitty|Ravelry)
Yarn: Organic Cotton Sock yarn, by YarnAddict Anni
Needles: 2.5mm dpns
Notes: Very quick pattern, and very easy repeat. I really enjoyed making these socks. The heel was fun to turn.
The yarn is an absolute dream, unbelievably soft. It does shed, though, and my toes were fuzzy and blue when I finally took the socks off. But it doesn't matter. I want to fill a bathtub with this yarn and bathe in it.

I used a modified version of Under Dutch Skies' Anatomically correct toes, but without actually tracing my feet. I decreased 1 stitch every other row on the pinky side until I had done a quarter of the decreases, and then decreased 1 stitch every other row on the big toe, and 1 stitch every row on the pinky. There were some adjustments on the decreases to make all the decreases fit nicely on the length of the toe, but that was the jest of it.
Bluerose Socks FO       Bluerose Socks FO

My socks and I are ready to go to work!
Bluerose Socks FO

Monday, 31 August 2009

Q and reports of my death

The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, but only by a bit :)
I've been down for the last two weeks with the eeeeebil cold from hell, so everything has been very quiet. It[s not been swine flu at least, and it's not gone down to my lungs. I am nearly cleared from it now, just in time to go back to work tomorrow...

I had intended to skip Q in the abc-along, but then dinner yesterday came to my rescue, and I finally have the energy to write something coherent, take pictures and prepare them, even if it's a bit late. Mmmm, food. So there is another recipe for you. I have a feeling S will be another recipe, so stay tuned!

Q is for Quick Chicken

Quick chicken

- Halve a chicken breast per person and slather it with pesto.
- Wrap a slice of unsmoked back bacon around each piece and put in an oven tray.
- Add a splash of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and plenty of cherry tomatoes.
- Bake in the oven (about 30 min at 200C (fan), or until the chicken is done)
- Eat! (with some pasta or couscous)
Quick chicken

It's really easy food to make, and I find it ideal for entertaining people. The preparation is really simple and quick, and the end result looks quite fancy.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Balcony progress shoot

Stressful things need to be offset by showing off pretty things.

My Hanami Stole. I still have one or two more basket weave repeats to go, but it's slowly growing.

Hanami stole in progress

Elena's cowl. It's only missing weaving in the ends, and blocking. You may recall I started making this to reach her after not having talked to her for months. I've still not contacted her, because it's totally scary. But I have her cowl. I hope to give it to her before winter.
Ice Queen missing weaving in

The second of the Bluerose socks. I'm halfway down the heel flat. It really is a quick pattern.
Second blue rose

I'm also putting together a small pattern for the brain, which fills me with excitement. A pattern! Mine! Even if so small.

Friday, 14 August 2009

P is for P Meal

A "P meal" is what Alex and I have when we are tired and don't want to bother with dinner.

1. Get some pasta


2. Some prawns and peas, frozen for convenience!
P-meal     P-meal

3. Boil it all together (6 minutes for pasta, 3 minutes all together)

4. Add some pesto

5. ...

6. Profit!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Yarn and brains

This past Sunday, as it was the last weekend I was going to be in London for a while (Alex has finished his placement and is now back home!), I headed out to I Knit. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed, mainly because I was expecting a much bigger shop. Most of what they had was animal hair, and then a bit of cotton. I was starting to become disheartened, when I found this.

Habu silk & stainless steel

Habu silk and stainless steel yarn (rav link). I about fell over, and in love. So I now have plenty of stainless steel yarn, and plan to make myself some chainmail.
Ok, perhaps just a shawl.

It has stainless steel! *squee!*


Oh, noes, the flying brains are attacking!

It is a common joke between Alex and I that, if we found each other's brain lying around, please try not to kick it, just pick it up and dust it off a bit. So I made a brain as a silly surprise for when he got back. Does it even look like a brain?
Brain!       Brain!

The brain is made using hyperbolic knitting, the basis of which is just simply to knit through the front and back of every stitch to make it grow hyperbolically. The spine and bulb are some i-cord with increases (can post exact instructions if there is demand for them). I promise it looks more like a brain when you actually hold it, but I found it very difficult to capture its brain-ness in the pictures!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Two steps forward, one step back

Two steps forward
Finished off the first of my Bluerose socks, complete with anatomically correct toes.
Bluerose sock 1

Bound off the top of Elena's Ice Queen. Once I actually read the instructions properly, it was all much easier.
Elena's Ice Queen

One step back
This weekend, I discovered that Demeter was not as finished as I thought. That centre split for the neckline is not centred, so there is some unravelling to do. I don't yet know what happened: current options are me messing up the counting or choosing the number for the wrong size (or something excitingly different).
Demeter screw-up

Two steps forward
I have two specialist referrals to deal with my tiredness problems.

I have new meds to try. They may not work, but at least I'm doing something rather than waiting for the appointments to materialise themselves.

One step back
Anxiety is creeping back, and it just makes everything more difficult. The tiredness doesn't help it, and everything has the potential to overwhelm.

At least I'm still ahead on the game!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

O is for Obsolete

O is for Obsolete

When I was in Spain last weekend, my parents and I tried to look for a public phone, as my mother's mobile had run out of battery and we wanted to call my brother (my father doesn't have a phone, and mine is from another country).
It was difficult. With the ubiquity of mobile phones, they are becoming nearly obsolete. There are, however, two public phones on the short way from my house to the supermarket :)
O is for Obsolete

I tried to take a picture of a floppy disk to complement this O, but couldn't find any in the house. However, I still remember even the 8-inch and 5¼-inch floppies. They were nearly obsolete even when I came into contact with them. And now the 3½-inch has followed them, and I don't have any.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

A trip, a strange car, and some knitting

I returned from my family visit with most of my sanity intact, and some knitting. Hurrah! Pass the champagne!

I find family visits very stressful, as criticism and bickering (or complete silence) are the preferred way of communication, but I think I did quite well this time round. Not *everything* I do was completely wrong! Having my own copy of the Dysfunctional Family Bingo as a lifeline also helped (my own card was based on this one).

I did eat delicious delicious food (although I found myself missing veggies by the end of the 4 day trip), and got lots of knitting done (not counting all the travelling, the 5 hr car trips will do that). And saw strange cars.


On the knitting front, I finished most of Demeter. It needs to be checked for size, though. Demeter's construction, bottom-up with a provisional cast-on, allows for knitting extra if it's too short. I normally knit my tops too short, so I think I may do this from now on with all of them, provided the body is stockinette (see the TECHKnitter's explanation on why only stockinette).
Demeter detail

The 5 hour car journey was mainly devoted to knitting socks. I had done the ribbing on the plane, and I managed to do 10 pattern repeats on the car: 2 that I had to rip, and the 8 needed for the leg. We reached our final destination as I was getting to the start of the heel.
Bluerose socks WIP

This sock is going incredibly fast, and the yarn, cotton sock yarn from YarnAddict, is a dream: one of the softest yarns I've worked with. I'm really enjoying knitting them.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

FO: Alex's (finally) socks

Alex's socks

Last Thursday, I finally managed to finish another pair of Socks for Alex, the so-called Finally Socks (I'm sure there was a reason for this name). My plan was to finish them for this week, but the knitting gods conspired for me this one time, and finished them ahead of time. Just barely so: they were drying overnight in the sockblockers, and I had to take them (with full sockblocker assembly) into work so they could finish drying. I got some interesting looks!

The socks are made using the Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula (rav), 2.5 mm needles and Zitron Trekking Pro Natura in grey.
The rib pattern is a k3,p1,k1 tbl, p1, over 72 stitches. I started it around the same time as I was working on Bottom's Up, and was loving the tbls, so I decided to incorporate them in the pattern.

I had to knit the cuff of the first sock twice, because it was way too tight the first time (for the cuff pattern, I just turned the middle k in the k3 into a purl). I fixed the problem by knitting 5 rounds of the rib on 2.5mm (as the rest of the body),5 rounds in 2.75mm needles and using a very stretchy bind off, as learnt from making Ishbel (rav) (p2tog, slip stitch back to left needle). This combination of patterns and needles worked very well, giving Alex no problems getting them over the heel, but still staying up.

The k tbl is almost hidden: if you look at the sock, you can mainly see a k4, p1 pattern, but there is a p1, k1 tbl there, I swear! I like that it kind of gives "hidden" stretch. It forms a much tighter rib when it's relatively unstretched, but there is extra hidden there!
Alex's Socks detail

Friday, 17 July 2009

N is for Nails

This is less of a pretty post, but N is for Nails, because they are something important to me, even if a bit embarrassing. I have bitten them since I am very small, and even when I'm not biting them, I keep obsessing about them, looking at them and prodding them. Most of the time I don't even realise I'm doing it.

N is for nails

I've tried to stop many times, but only sheer will power does anything (nothing else helps, not the nasty-tasting nail polish, nor getting spanked as a child by my parents; only me helps, only I can do it). Often my mood or tiredness don't leave me a lot of room for will (I have certainly noticed that I bite them more when I'm anxious!), so I never manage to be more than a small number of months "clean".
As well as sheer will, keeping them short and always having a nailclipper handy helps. The moment *something* happens to one of them, my brain turns them into fair game!

I manage at times. Often I will manage to get them nice enough for a creamy light nail polish, which also helps on stopping me from biting them. And sometimes, some glorious times, I get them good enough for bright red nail polish.!
Fetching action shot

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Duxford Air Show

This Sunday, I went to an Air Show. *insert 5 minutes of excited squeeing and bouncing here*
Not a normal Air Show, but a Historical Air Show. Spitfires! Mustangs! Yaks! B-25s! A Lancaster! It was amazing. I'm probably getting a bit too excited here, but really, it was good aero pr0n.

As well as pretty aircraft, there were a bunch of vendors, including aero books. A lot of them were of the pretty-picture variety, but some of them were crunchy, and I love those. I couldn't really afford the 50s 7 volume full aircraft design set, which made me infinitely sad, but I shall save up my pennies and buy it (or something similar) when there is something celebratory work-related.
I did buy, for a pound, a Jane's. I did kind of scream "Jane's'" and dived into to the box of them. Even for a pound, Jane's are still enormous fuckers, but this one is fairly small; It is a compilation Jane's from the 70s, with aircraft from 1902 to 1916, and I really like early aeroplanes, they have a special elegance about them (and their pilots), and it's amazing to see how fast it was all evolving at the time.
There was a small stand with frames of pictures of aircraft with bits of metal from those aircraft (all from non-fatal accidents), which was awesome, and several aircraft paintings. We didn't buy any, but took their cards for the future.

But really, you came here for the pictures, and not for excited and mostly incoherent ramblings about pretty planes, so here I leave you with a small selection of them.

SDC10737s       SDC10769s

Hehe, more than one Spitfire
SDC10851s       SDC10908s

If you have seen the Aviator, you will remember how Howard Hughes hires a meteorologist to find out when there will be clouds. Clouds make an amazing difference. (Do watch Hell's Angels if you have the change; the movie is alright, but the flying scenes are great)

SDC10933s       SDC10923s

SDC10879s       SDC10958s

After my attempts at pictures, I should refer to you actual professional photographers.
I was clearly an amateur there (both in terms of photography and preparation), but I enjoyed with my full enthusiasm.

Now excuse me while I go bounce some more. I did get a nasty sunburn, and it was a long journey to Duxford, but now that is gone, and I can bounce pain-free again on the memories.