Sunday, August 26, 2012

RIP Chloe

Chloe, February 2009

I'm so sorry to reboot this blog with sad news. Chloe, who was 21 and had been with us for 15 years, sadly had to be put to sleep on Thursday, August 23. She'd been suffering from thyroid problems for a while and, although she initially rallied on medication, began to go downhill again recently. For several days before she died, she was eating very little, and eventually it became very clear that it was her time to go.

The vet came to our home to euthanise her, and was extremely respectful and considerate. Chloe died in my arms. It was such a peaceful death that I didn't realise she had gone, until he listened to her heart and told me so.

I chose the photo above, which was taken in February 2009, because it's exactly what she looked like until the last few months of her life. She was cantankerous, opinionated, and would not take no for an answer. In short, she was a bit of a madam, and we loved her.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


This is just a short post to explain what's happening, and why I disappeared again!

There have been a lot of stressful things happening, over the last year, and my body is not dealing with them well. Some of them have been lovely things, and some quite distressing - but my condition doesn't distinguish between the two, and flares up regardless. I don't mind so much after nice stress - at least I have something fun to remember - but I do take it amiss when I flare after bad stress. That's just adding insult to injury!

Anyway, when everything stops hurting, and my voice comes back (it's really irritating trying to shout in a whisper...), and my brain is working well for more than a few minutes at a time, I shall be back more regularly. Until then, I leave you with a rare crochet project - something for me to wear:

It's really comfortable. And very pink :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

.....aaaaaand I'm back!

In my defence, I said 'after Christmas'. I did not say how long after Christmas...

Two things have prodded me into coming back. One was receiving a couple of comments from new readers (hello, maybe and checat!), and one was looking in my diary and realising that last weekend was my sixth blogiversary. I have many things to tell you... but I'll start with the hats.

My Quaker Meeting threw a party last year for women and children asylum seekers in Sunderland. I made them six hats - and 70 women and 30 children attended!

This year, starting in June, I started crocheting my stash oddments into hats and scarves for this year's party. My intention was to carry on until I had finished up all the odd balls, and stuff left from bigger projects. I knew we would need about 100 items, in various sizes, and I thought, if I was lucky, that I might get to about 20, perhaps 30.

I kept crocheting, and getting Richard, the Beamish Boy, to photograph each one and pile them up in a cupboard.

I finished the last odd ball on November 30. I had also been given some beautiful scarves and a whole range of knitted hats by two lovely friends, so I knew there would be a fair few items.

I got Richard to haul them all out and photograph them. It was the first time I'd seen all my work in one heap (with Merlin conveniently appearing, to give scale!):

It soon became obvious that I had done rather more than 20 or 30. In fact, once Richard had laid it all out meticulously, and we counted up, we discovered it was...98!

And this is what it looked like with my friends' scarves and hats added in – Richard almost had to stand on a chair for this one. I think it added up to 120 altogether:

My stash has gone from three large plastic crates (and a few bags) to one and a half crates!

Eight hats have gone off to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in Newcastle, and the rest was collected yesterday by two friends from Durham Meeting. They were amazed at the quantity, even though I'd warned them that it would be two heavy bags – they weigh around 18lb, well over a stone, in total.

When I explained to Judith how I'd made them, and how many I'd made, she made a brilliant comment: 'If you weren't a Quaker, I'd be inclined to think you couldn't be telling the truth...'

It's the truth, Judith. Even I'm staggered by it, and I'm the one who did it!

Well, that's it for this time. I hope to be blogging regularly - I certainly have plenty of news to tell you from this year. See you soon - I promise!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where did I leave my pep?

Sorry, gentle reader - no entry at all last week and not much this week. I'm a bit under the weather again, but I'm sure it will pass. I'll be back after Christmas.

Have a good holiday, whatever you celebrate!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Eliina - finished

Yes, Mum's shawl is finally finished. I abandoned my stitch-markers and read my knitting as I went along instead - and whizzed through the last 10 rows. I think there is a moral here: I should pay more attention to what I'm doing, instead of relying on other things - stitch-markers especially - to do my thinking for me!

It's off now to my dear friend Rosie, to be washed and blocked. I'll post a final photo when it returns. (Thanks again, Rosie!)

All my Christmas knitting is now done, but I can't blog about anything else as all the recipients may read the blog! If you haven't finished yours yet, then good luck, and I wish you peace and quiet to get on with it....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Doing the Border Shuffle

The border on Mum's Eliina shawl is 32 rows deep. When I knitted mine, I had one small problem, which I fudged, and sailed through the rest. Thanks to Mad October, the same is not true of this one...

It started well. I was up to row 23 by the beginning of October. Then I made the mistake of knitting when tired, and had to frog to row 14.

I compounded this by picking up the newly fixed row 14 and finding another mistake, dropping down a stitch to fix it - and failing to pick it back up again in pattern. That time it got frogged to row 6, and I took the opportunity of it being off the needles to get it photographed:

Eliina, with Merlin

Merlin decided what it really needed for scale was a large black cat....

Anyway, I got that picked up, went up to row 19 - and messed up again.

Finally, last week, I got it all the way to the start of row 23, perfectly correct. It has only taken me 7 weeks to get back to where I was in the first place.

And now.... I have a rogue extra stitch and can't find it.


Monday, November 16, 2009

That Darn Cat

(Anybody else remember that film? I'm sure it's to blame for my lifelong fascination with Siamese...)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my carers took off her fleecy gloves when she came in, and left them on the sofa. When it came time to leave, they were gone. She had to catch a bus, so just told me to hang on to them when I found them - and laughingly suggested that Merlin, with his love for all things woolly, had run off with them.

Half an hour later, Merlin appeared. He was dragging one of the gloves, and growled when we tried to take it from him.

We did eventually find the pair. One was undamaged - but one was missing a finger, as neatly excised as if he had used scissors.

So - anyone got any good glove patterns??

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fluffbuster Scarf

Ever wonder what you could do with that odd ball of bizarrely-coloured fluff that you bought on a whim? Wonder no more....

The Fluffbuster Scarf

Red Fluffbuster

The amounts are pretty flexible, depending on what length you want - this is more of a recipe than a pattern.

For a 150cm (five feet/60 inches) scarf, you need:

approx 90 metres (100 yards) of ribbon yarn (or any smooth yarn)
one ball of fluff (eyelash yarn)
6mm (US size 10) needles
8mm (US size 11) needles for casting on and off - optional

This scarf is worked lengthways, so you may find it easier to work back and forth on a circular needle than on a straight one.

Divide your yarn (nothing heavier than DK/worsted) into two equal balls.

Look on the ball band to see how many stitches are supposed to be in 10cm/4 inches. With the first ball and the 8mm/11 needles, cast on 10 times as many stitches as this - for example, a tension of 22 stitches per 10cm/4 inches would give a cast-on figure of 220 stitches.

Change to the 6mm/10 needles and work the following stitch pattern until you run out of the first ball of yarn:

Row 1: (K1, yo) to last stitch, K1.
Row 2: (K1, drop YO from previous row) to last stitch, K1.

Now change to the eyelash yarn, and knit every row until it is used up.

Take the second ball of smooth yarn and resume the stitch pattern above until you are nearly out of yarn, then cast off using the 8mm/11 needles.

Weave in ends.

You can make the scarf any length you like, using the proportions above as a guide. The red scarf above, for example, is nearly ten feet long, and the blue one below is seven feet long.

You could also substitute any ball of novelty yarn, or an odd ball of any kind of pretty yarn, for the ball of eyelash yarn.

I would not recommend using a heavier yarn than DK/worsted, as it would be too heavy for the eyelash yarn.

Blue Fluffbuster

Monday, November 02, 2009

What a month!!

Well, October turned out to be the most stressful month I've had for ages. Unfortunately nice stress tires me out as much as nasty stress, so even the good stuff just made me more tired. It has been one of those times when everything that could happen, did happen - and I ended up not getting a proper afternoon rest till almost the end of the month (instead of almost every afternoon), which meant my night-time sleep was disturbed, too.

That meant I began having nightmares. Initially they were things like still being married to my alcoholic ex, but eventually they morphed into the standard scary monster nightmare. (One was that Daleks had invaded Earth - and banned knitting!!!! Terrifying....)

To give you an idea of what I mean, this all happened between October 1 and October 27:

1 theatre trip
1 trip to Quaker Quest - on the same day Richard was out all day,
travelling to Manchester and back to the funeral of one of his uni
housemates. It wasn't a good month for him, either.
4 visits from friends
3 visits from Richard's grandfather, who is very difficult to talk to
1 visit from both his grandparents
1 visit from Mum and my sister
3 visits from new carers
1 5-hour excursion to A&E at the eye hospital - I'm OK, so don't
worry, but apparently I'm starting to get cataracts :(
1 Quaker Meeting here
1 newsletter to write and send round, during which....
Our Broadband started falling over for hours at a time
1 failed delivery of necessary medical stuff
1 delivery of oxygen canisters
1 visit from Social Services
1 visit from a care company team leader
1 visit from the other care company's admin assistant (1.5 hours)
1 service of my oxygen machine
1 visit from the GP
2 visits from the District Nurse
1 blood test
1 flu jab (different day from the blood test)
1 visit from the Access Bus team to make sure my wheelchair will fit
on their minibus (then I can go shopping occasionally!)
....and then the clocks changed and completely mucked up my body clock, as usual....

As you see, it was a fun time :)

I'm not complaining one bit about the nice stuff - ever since I first got ill, I've had the view that nice stuff is worth recuperating from! But every day seemed to bring a fresh reason why I couldn't have a rest, and by the end of last weekend I was feeling quite desperate.

I'm happy to say that I have now had a week asleep, and I feel much better, so I hope to be a much better blogger again now.

Next week, as promised: a new pattern!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I'm not blogging this week, for a very nice reason. I am recovering from a trip to the theatre last week - my first time out of the house for over a year!

As always, I never do things by halves: this week I am speaking at our Quaker Quest evening on Quaker Worship. I was so pleased to be asked, and I am really looking forward to it. I know I will be shattered afterwards, so I'm announcing now that there will be no blog entry next week either.

Accounts of my expeditions will be forthcoming as soon as I can write them - plus a new pattern :)