Sunday, December 19, 2004

Nummy yarn

I admit it - show me a pretty yarn, and I go running off after it instead of sticking loyally to my current project. I'm a yarn strumpet.....

There I was, working quietly away on Richard's cushion cover - I've decided to do the alien face on both sides, as stocking stitch stripes are sooooo boring - when my latest eBay purchase arrived. To quote the seller's blurb, it was '... 2 skeins of bulky hand-spun, hand-dyed English wool (a blend of several breeds) of 56s quality - not quite as fine as merino but soft enough to wear next to the skin. The wool was space-dyed for depth of colour, and has been washed to set the twist. There is a total of around 120 yards, approx. 4oz, in shades of orange, russet, lemon, lime and royal blue, with accents of purple.'

I ask you, who could resist? It just snuggled up to me and looked hopeful, and I was lost. By the end of the evening, it was a mitten-and-a-half.

In my defence, I wish to point out that I was firm with myself today, and carried on with the cushion cover. But the mittens are calling.......

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The end is nigh!

Of Mum's scarf, that is - I've really got stuck into it today, and it's not far off completion. I got Richard to take a photo of me working on it to go in my profile, but I haven't uploaded it from the camera yet. Watch this space!

Although working on large needles makes my arms quite tired - I can't seem to find a good way to rest my arms while I knit with them, unlike with my circular needles - I find the rhythm of working with them extraordinarily soothing. I think it's to do with the fact that they are wooden, and slide through my hands without being actually slippery. Most of my needles are of bamboo or various synthetic materials.

Maybe I need to get more wooden needles.....

I feel a Christmas present to myself coming on!

A little Christmas cheer

Courtesy of Richard's dad, Paul.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And, of course, I'm still knitting

You didn't think I'd stopped, did you? :)

On the needles at present: Richard's 'Alien Illusion' cushion, about half done; and Mum's jade green scarf, which is in its fifth or sixth incarnation. I finally decided on two strands of jade green chenille, held together, worked in garter stitch on 12mm needles, with a chain edging (slip 1 purlwise at beginning of row, knit last stitch of row - I use it a lot).

Linda's top, my own design, is sitting sulking in a bag, grumbling because I'm doing other presents......

You're never going to believe this.....

I had a phone call yesterday morning (Tuesday) from yet another person at Social Services. She completely wrong-footed me by saying, after she'd introduced herself, 'As we prefer not to schedule two visits every morning, how would it work out if we lengthened your shower call, and asked the same worker to do your breakfast after that?'

I'm not often speechless......

Not cancelling my showers. Not asking my breakfast carer to do two things in the same space of time. Not arguing with me. Not patronising me. Was this woman really from Social Services??

Apparently it was as a result of lobbying by a combination of the District Nurse, her boss, and my former care manager, all of whom are very stubborn and articulate, and who, as far as I am concerned, deserve sainthood.

I got my showers back!!!

(corks popping, streamers, klaxons, people singing 'For They Are Jolly Good Fellows', etc)

Phew. Well, perhaps I can relax and enjoy Christmas now. Don't get me wrong, I was always absolutely positive I would get them back - but what daunted me was the amount of hassle I would have to go through before I did. Just because I can stand up for myself, and lobby for what I think is right, doesn't mean I have the physical resources to spare for it.

So I am sitting here with a celebratory glass (pineapple juice, unfortunately - I didn't think I ought to risk the wine after all!), listening to my favourite cheesy Christmas CD. It's all the real crooners, like Bing Crosby and Perry Como, and always makes me feel I should be an American 60s housewife, in an open-plan house in the suburbs with big picture windows, celebrating with my two perfect children and my executive husband.

Happy Christmas, everyone :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Today's bad joke

A dreadful joke, from the fevered brain of the Beamish Boy:

Q. What do you call a dog that runs towards the enemy, and then blows up?

A. A kami-corgi.

I warned you!

Oh, and I'm feeling terribly virtuous today. I wrapped my Christmas presents :)

I've done well with my Christmas organisation this year. Apart from those I made myself, I bought all the presents online, and had them wrapped if possible (good old Amazon!).

I gave a donation to the Salvation Army instead of sending Christmas cards - that saved me a lot of energy, and for the amount I would have spent on cards and postage, they can produce a hamper of food and gifts for a family of four! Not to mention the trees I've saved. Golly, I was feeling smug - until I remembered that I didn't use recycled paper for wrapping! This Green stuff is complicated....

Tomorrow, Richard and I are putting up the decorations - well, he's putting, I'm directing (with a glass of wine at hand, and a Christmas CD playing, I expect). Then just one more online grocery shop, and everything is done. Unless they have none of the stuff in stock that I need, of course.....

No news is... no news!

Nothing more to report yet on the Great Shower Saga. At the moment, Sunday is my last daily shower.....

I got bored while I was working on Richard's cushion over the weekend, and decided to try out 'Norwegian purling', which I found out about on 'Wendy Knits!' (see sidebar). Basically, you knit backwards so that you don't have to turn your work.

I got the hang of it quite quickly, and it gives me a much better tension than normal purling. Plus it's always fun to try out something new - and now that I've finished the motif, the cushion is just pairs of stripes, which is a bit dull. Practising a new skill livens things up a little!

There's a great video that shows you how to do it, or, if you prefer text, a good text-and-pictures guide from Interweave Knits.

Go on, give it a whirl. You have nothing to lose but your sanity.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

And still it goes on.....

First of all - thank you so much, everyone, for the emails and comments. Even people I don't know are supporting me, which gives me a great boost and reminds me I am not asking for the moon!!

Well, the Health Authority thinks Social Services is wrong. Which is good. However, this means it won't fund my showers. Which is bad.... However, I am not beaten yet (be honest, you didn't think I would be, did you? :) ).

My former care manager (social worker) passed me over to the Review Team because my care package didn't need anything altering on it. I spoke to her yesterday, and she is horrified that the Review Team unilaterally decided to mess things up - so now I have an ally within Social Services itself. Which is very good :)

Of course, no one can do anything over the weekend - but watch this space!

Thanks to my obsessive knitting in order not to worry, the Alien Illusion cushion for Richard, the Beamish Boy, is coming on apace. Every cloud, and all that :)

The illusion is working brilliantly. It's like one of those holographic panels on a five pound note - you can only clearly see the 'alien head' picture from an angle, otherwise it just looks like slightly wavy stripes.

There's a good article about this type of knitting here, and another here.

It's called Illusion Knitting, or Shadow Knitting (Viv Hoxbro has written a whole book on it). I do love to learn a new technique!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

DNA scarf

I'm so glad I'd finished the scarf I was making for the District Nurse - she really earned it today! She was horrified at the shower saga, as I knew she would be.

She's chasing funding on one hand, and chasing Social Services on the other. The woman is unstoppable - and she's on my side!!

She was overwhelmed when I gave her the scarf. It's the DNA Seaman's scarf, which you can find here. Many thanks to June Oshiro for designing such a super pattern - I have made it several times now, because it's surprisingly easy. I think that's down to how well-charted it is.

Richard and I worked out a kind of barcode pattern for her name, which you can see in the rib section.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Thank God for knitting

I wasn't going to blog about this, because it's almost too painful a subject - but when I win through (please note: 'when', not 'if' :) ), I won't be able to celebrate if my faithful readers (both of them!) don't know what's been happening.

I have three visits a day from my carer for meals, and a further call every morning to give me a shower. Quite apart from needing one as everyone else does, I also have very fragile skin, which doesn't need much encouragement to break down, so it has to be washed daily. As long as it is, I have no problems. If it isn't, I get painful breaks in my skin, and leg ulcers.

To cut a long story short, Social Services has reviewed my care package and decided that I only need a shower once a week. The rest of the week I can just be washed down - like an old car, or the front step, perhaps! They won't allocate any time for the washing or showering to be done, either - it has to be fitted into my already rushed breakfast call. I have mental images of my sitting in the shower (I have a walk-in shower and shower chair) with my bowl of porridge, trying to eat while Jacky, my lovely carer, washes the bits she can reach!

If I insist that I need more showers than this, the District Nurse will have to give them. Of course, she has plenty of time to do this, not to mention it being an ideal use for her expertise and qualifications. Not that Jacky doesn't have plenty of those - but her job is personal care, and the District Nurse's job is performing medical procedures!

The ill-informed and unsympathetic woman who conducted the review also let slip that this was nothing to do with my needs, and all to do with money. And when I pointed out that 'normal' people had showers every day as a matter of course, she informed me that my circumstances were different, and that I could only compare myself with other Social Services' clients.

I think that was when I accused her of viewing me as a second-class citizen....

So. I am now unable to sleep, unable to eat, and the proud possessor of a banging stress headache. When I try to explain all this to people, I end up in tears of frustration. But I will not give in.

I have the District Nurse calling tomorrow, and the addresses of the overall Director of Social Services, as well as the Director of Adult Services, the section under whose dubious care I come. Oh, and the phone number of the Disability Discrimination Helpline!

I will not be treated like some kind of sub-human with different needs from everyone else. I just hope my health holds out while I fight.

As for today's heading - well, it's the only thing I can concentrate on at present, and the only thing that can calm me down when I start to get wound up. This is not a hobby. This is a lifeline.

Monday, December 06, 2004


The cushion cover for Richard is really humming along smoothly - although I haven't yet started on the illusion panel!

The stripes are looking wonderful together. Each stripe is 2 rows deep, worked in stocking stitch.

Plus, the look of the reverse has given me an idea of how to get the effect of snakeskin on a project I have to start after Christmas. I love unexpected design solutions!

Saturday, December 04, 2004


DS Richard came home from university today - hooray! :)

Spent a happy couple of hours watching Sylvester McCoy on 'Doctor Who'. I really want to chart and make up that Fair Isle sleeveless sweater of his.......

I had a happy insight today. The best thing about getting older is that I have had longer and longer to discover things I enjoy. This means that the list of things I enjoy has become longer and longer, which gives more and more of a chance of spending entire days doing things I like. Or something.

Alien Attack

I've temporarily put aside the large project I've been working on. It's a Christmas present, but it won't be finished by then, as the recipient was very coy about her measurements and has only recently admitted them (Linda, you know who you are ;) ).

Instead, I am working on a drop-stitch jade green chenille scarf for Mum, and a cushion cover for DS Richard. It's the Alien Illusion motif by Shetha Nolke from the first Stitch'n'Bitch book, centered on the front of the cushion, with the rest done in plain stripes. I have the most wonderful fluorescent green yarn, courtesy of Texere Yarns at

which simply screams 'Alien!!'

My other good news today is that I was weighed again, and since August, I have lost another 11.6kg, or 25.5lb in old money. Current total since March is now 10.5 stone, or 75.2kg!

Not bad for a (mainly) bedridden old broad ;)