Thursday, March 30, 2006

I just can't help myself

I really am trying to have my cake and eat it! Today I bought this:

The picture just doesn't do the colour justice: it is bright magenta and really vibrant. It's 100% wool, so so soft, and was only £1. It's also huge - apparently a men's jumper as it has a KENZO HOMME label in it. I don't like dividing colours into gender specific groups, but I do not know any man who would wear this jumper - which I guess is why it was on the £1 rack ;) It is a really really fine gauge - perfect for knitting lace! (I have mentioned lace before right? I am particularly obsessed with the Peacock Feathers Shawl and also like the Flower Petal Shawl). The jumper weighs 1.5lbs (c. 680g), so provided it unravels nicely I may well have enough for a shawl...

Still on the look out for the perfect black froggable, but sadly still no cigar. I saw a perfect specimen - but it was red (were I not severely suffering with RSI I'd have bought the red one too, but it was £4.99, and I don't want to waste a fiver if it turns out I can never knit again). However, I'm sure one will turn up soon.

I'm considering not knitting - and keeping other hand movements to a minimum - until after my Latin exam at the end of May. I can't have severe RSI for that. We'll see how I go...

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Have your cake and eat it...

Yum. I made farmyard cakes a while ago - had forgotten I'd taken a photo of the spinning relevant one ;)

Yesterday I spoke to my chiropractor about my wrist. I'm to rest it a while longer, but I may need an x-ray to check my bones are normal. Otherwise I might need surgery :-o :(

I may have to start facing up to the fact that I may never be able to knit again.

I hope you've all downloaded Workrave.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

RSI? PMA! (Positive Mental Attitude)

So I have now gone from:


I figured not becoming crippled was better than vanity. I've had long nails since I was 17 and I've never cut them all off before. Felt weird. End of an era I guess. (I'd cut my index finger nail short a couple of weeks ago to aid right handed typing).

I haven't painted my nails for yonks, but thought this would be a good time to dig out my nail varnish case.

Anyhoo, I can now type a bit better with my right hand (albeit very slowly) - my left hand is doing nothing! I'm practising writing with my right hand too, and trying to use it more for household tasks. But I'm being very careful not to overwork it!

I've made an appointment with a doctor for Monday - kinda feel like I'm cheating on my chiropractor ;) I'm also taking the homeopathic remedy Rhus. tox. Been doing lots of reading on RSI. I want to beat this! But I know I need to take it slow and steady.

However - don't tell! - I did a little bit of knitting tonight. One row (about 28 stitches, 2x2 rib) then a 15 minute break of stretching, and I only did 4 rows... I kept my left hand perfectly straight, so it was slow going to get those stitches off with the right needle; but I had no pain in the underside of my wrist. If I bent my wrist there'd be the slightest twinge - but it didn't hang about. My hand felt a bit weird though, and I had to keep cracking my wrist. But at least I'm narrowing down the motions that affect the underside.

However, I can't see me knitting again in the near future. Maybe even long term. But I need to be confident that with rest and working on it, that I will get better :)

To that end I have downloaded WorkRave. I really recommend it - get it now! It's easy to install, it's FREE, and it has a cute sheep for a logo. It prompts you to take breaks, gives you exercises to do. When I can knit'n'stuff again I think I'll even use it for timing myself for that.

I know I'm on a bit of an anti-RSI crusade, but it's so debilitating, and so easy to catch it. I was 'lucky' in that I got it just as I was quitting work to become a student. I am fully aware that there is no way I'd be able to be doing my old job right now, and that's pretty scary. As it is, I don't know what I'm going to be capable of doing when I finish studying - assume my hands allow me to finish studying!

So download WorkRave, work on your posture and 'hand habits', and STOP as soon as you feel a twinge.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

A miserable end to an experiment

So yesterday I discovered typing hurt the underside of my wrist after 5 or 10 minutes. I have a feeling the underside pain is recent and related to strain from typing from a few weeks ago. I'm sure my general RSI was mainly the upper side of my hand.

So today I thought I could try knitting - that might not actually cause any pain! So I got Hug out... Less than 6 stitches in and the underside was stinging and burning :( I finished the row (don't worry, it's short) and put it away. I'm recording this using my right index finger - left arm is being kept still.

I guess I really need to go and cut all my nails off on my right hand now.


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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thickie alert!

I've been considering getting a niddy noddy and a nostepinne for winding balls of yarn. I like winding them by hand, but find my wrist aches afterwards. I don't really need a niddy noddy (except for the fun of having something called a niddy noddy), but a nostepinne should relieve some of the twisting action in my wrist.

I've looked online, and my fibre favourite Wingham Wool Work have niddy noddies starting at £6.50, and a nostepinne for only £3.50. However, I am super short of cash, and wondered whether I could use something else.

I've spent the morning trying to think of thick tapered things. If I didn't have a hand-movement ban in effect I'd have already tried on my tiered umbrella case and a bottle of rose water.

I've also been trying to access this page about nostepinnes on craftster - it's finally back up, and I can't believe this never occurred to me:

Yes - finally, I have a use for my single 20mm plastic needle! I bought this 20mm and a single 10mm from a charity shop years ago when I was at university, as they were cool and cheap. Obviously, rather unuseable. I've since bought a pair of 10mms, and was considering trying to swap my single 10mm with someone who had a single 20mm. There was a knitting shop in the town I used to live in at university which sold single 20mm needles... but sadly I didn't buy one when I saw it and when I went back the shop had closed.

Well. I think I can safely say the underwrist twinges are not solely from knitting. They're starting up now from typing, and I was also using a spray bottle for a while too. Argh. :(

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Straight Needle Case

After I finished my DPN case I thought it would be nice to have a straight needle case too - after all, my straight needles were just as higgledy-piggledy as my DPNs were. When I was first making the DPN case I cut two pieces of fleece, originally considering stitching them together so both sides were fleecy; in the end I realised I preferred having a fleecy side (the outside and pockets) and a non-fleecy side (the inside flap). Besides, with a double layer of fleece it would have been too thick.

So I had my extra piece of fleece, cut to the same dimensions. However, given that the DPN case is faaaaaaaaar too wide, and straight needles are much longer than DPNs I turned the fleece the other way to make the straight case.

As you can see, it's still pretty big, but not as stupidly wide; and since I went back to the charity shop and bought more needles it's a lot fuller (but there's still room should I get any more - which given I have my Denises is unlikely).

I reversed the colours in the overlocking thread: this one is mainly turquoise, with one purple thread, and the pocket threads are turquoise too.

It looks cute rolled up (yes, I know I should've turned that photo before posting it, sorry!):

And now my grandma's knitting basket looks much neater than before when it had plastic bags full of random needles sticking out of it:

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DPN case

I have a feeling that this ban may have to last longer than a week :-/

Anyway, as a general cheer-up, here are some pics of my DPN case!

I made it in a dark turquoise fleece and it's so soft. I used purple overlocking for the seams and as decoration, with one strand of turquoise thread in the second running thread (can't for the life of me remember what this is called!). There are two levels of pockets for shorter and longer items, and the pockets are varying widths, with some very wide ones for packets of DPNs.

Yes. I am aware that it is ridiculously long! I don't intend to ever be able to fill it, but it's good to be prepared, right? Anyway, it also fits in crochet hooks, stitch holders, needle gauge, etc.

Here it is all folded up - I like how the pocket stitching (done in purple thread) looks like quilting.

All it needs now is a matching purple ribbon to finish it off. I'm pretty sure I may have one, but can't remember where my ribbon bag is, so it'll have to wait. It still works without a fastening though! And it's great to have all my DPNs kept neatly - I've written on each what size they are too, so everything is nicely ordered.

Next: the straights case! Might post that tomorrow to give my wrist a break.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Current froggable stash

Day two of the ban is OK. Hug looks miserable, sitting there barely started, but it will have to deal. It looks like it's going to be lovely though - tighter than I expected though I do have stitch gauge. I spent today reading See Eunny Knit; I'd read a chapter of a work book, then a page of the site's archives. It was nice to alternate the horror of the witch craze (people hurting and killing people for imaginary reasons :( ) with the beauty of the knitted lace on the website. Yes: I want to knit lace now ;)

But I shall hold off for at least a week.

Today I went back to the charity shop with the needle box again, this time with my needle inventory along with my gauge, to fill in any gaps in both my straights and DPNs. So now I have lots of thin needles - just the right thing for lace knitting ;)

Anyhoo. Pics of the needlecases to come soon - hopefully tomorrow. For now here's a picture of my current stash of charity shop jumpers to be frogged:

From the top:
  • Green, 100% cotton jumper; the cotton is stranded and not really spun - it's a bit like a thicker strand of embroidery thread. This originally cost £3.50, and is partially frogged and going to become the Corset Pullover

  • Lilac wool/acrylic mix jumper - this looks like handspun yarn - my handspun yarn at least ;) It has thick slubs in it, but I'm sure was machine spun. Cost £1.99

  • White, 100% acrylic jumper but so so so soft; I may keep this as a jumper as it is, maybe... Cost £2.99

  • Varigated cream and blue (and yellow - but that only shows up when wet!) jumper, made from a thin ribbon-esque (i.e., not ribbony ;) ) yarn! I'll probably try and dye it, but it was such a bargain for the type of yarn used. Cost £2.99

  • Navy, 100% cotton jumper (stranded I think like the green, but chunkier); cost £2.99

  • Pale blue, 85% lambswool jumper; cost £2.49

  • Dark turquoise wool/acrylic mix shrug shot through with blue sparkles!; originally cost £4. Partially frogged and in the process of becoming Hug

No black to be found ;) I have a bit of a thing against knitting in black, since I feel it won't show stitch definition well. However, most of Friday's handthing is black 2x2 rib, and obviously that looks just fine (as do all my black machine knit store bought jumpers). I probably wouldn't do excessive cabling in black, but a simple knit should be fine. I am sort of planning a top that I'd like to knit - so now I want a black jumper made of the same sort of cotton as the green jumper above to provide the yarn for it! Now I know how lovely the green is to knit I'm half regretting not buying the blue one I'd seen a while ago, but it was £3.99, not black, and lots of jumpers made of that sort of cotton appear to be common in charity shops. I just have to keep looking before it warms up too much and they stop selling knitwear!

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sigh. Another self-imposed ban

I think I shall endeavour not to knit at all for one week. I shall also attempt to keep typing and other hand actions (sewing, spinning, winding frogged yarn into a ball, etc) to a minimum. I don't have huge amounts of pain, but my left wrist is not normal - I keep getting twinges on the underside.

I just feel so frustrated with my body.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Kneedle-case Happy!

I did go back to the charity shop with my gauge and rifle through their knitting needle box. I managed to get a couple of sets of DPNs by mixing and matching - the lady serving thought I was a bit strange buying random needles, but I got 14 for £3.50.

When I got home I decided that now I needed a needle case, rather than keeping them all mixed up in a bag. So I made one from a lovely turquoise fleece. Then I realised that if my DPNs had a case, my regular needles should get one too ;) Now I have two beautiful cases - pics to follow soon!

All I need to do now is get a permanent marker and write the size of the needles on them (the needles, not the cases). I was thinking of embroidering the sizes onto the cases, but I'd rather have some flexibility in moving them around. Plus this way I won't be completely paranoid and recheck every needle when I come to use it!

I'm also planning to make a small inventory list of what needles I have, and go back to the charity shop to fill in any gaps!

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Friday, March 17, 2006


I've cast on for Hug at MagKnits, using an unravelled sleeve from the bright blue shrug. The original gauge is 9 stithes per 4", so I thought I might have to tweak the pattern. However, using the suggested needles on the pattern got me the stitch gauge perfectly - hoorah!

All I have actually done is cast on ;)

I've had a search to see if there are any handy hints, and this thread at Craftster has some information.

To bed!

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Plying Away

On Tuesday evening a friend came over to use my overlocker, so I decided to do some spinning. I used my new jewel green merino fibre, and spun fairly evenly and thinly - but still totally overtwisted. So... I decided to ply it.

As I only have one bobbin (though I'm pondering making a Lazy Kate with some toilet rolls and a towel rack) I used the Andean Plying method to make 2-ply yarn. I had been dubious of plying with overspun stuff, as I didn't think it would untwist it enough. However, it did! It plyed beautifully, felt lovely coming off the bobbin and was perfectly balanced!

I have since set the twist of what I spun that night - still have quite a bit of fibre to go.

Obviously the problem with plying is that it cuts my yardage in half! I have a project in mind, and can always order more of the same colour, but I'm hoping 150g will be enough.

I let my friend have a go at spinning. She had a try with the cheapy wool, but it's so horrid to work with I gave her some of the leftover ultramarine merino. I also spun the wheel by hand for her so she could get the hand of drafting - I don't know why I've never seen that advice on a how-to website before! It makes so much sense!!!

Then yesterday we went charity shop shopping. I'd had a quick look a few days earlier and bought two froggable jumpers, and then yesterday I got a further one (I'll take pics'n'post with details later). I also got a really cool bag that I'm using as a knitting bag. And the awesomest jumper which I actually put back on the rack because it wasn't froggable and was £5.99 - then my friend pointed out that it was an amazing, beautiful, elf jumper with pointy sleeves and a pointed cowl! I love it so much :) Plus I may use it as inspiration ;)

There's a weird charity shop in this town, run by bonkers old ladies who are surprised when people want to buy things. They had a dirty box of knitting needles labelled 'crochet needles 50p knitting 50p' (each or a pair? Dunno). The frustrating thing was that most were DPNs which had been taped into pairs, and half had been sold! None had sizes on them, and there didn't appear to be any complete sets. However, as I'll be in town tomorrow I'm thinking of going back with my needle gauge to see whether I can get at least 4 needles of the same size. They did have some thick ones, and I could do with some larger DPNs.

Knitting wise I've worked a little more on the Alien scarf, and today made one little handwarmer/glove thing as my March Stashbust and a gift for my brother Friday. I had to go to a Colloquium for all postgrads in my department today, and knit throughout the lectures; don't worry - I was still listening ;) I also think I have an idea for my PhD too :D

Anyway, I'm tempted to go unravel a charity shop jumper now...

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Ta-da! My first handspun project!

I made a pair of armwarmers with my ultramarine merino singles! As usual, the colour is off in the pictures, this one is the closest, but still no cigar:

I made up the pattern - cribbed the thumb bit from the 'Hurry Up Spring' armwarmers in Stitch'n'Bitch Nation. I just wanted to do something with a plaited cable, and this seemed perfect.

I used my Surina 4.5mm DPNs. The thickness of the wool varied from about DK weight to chunky. Well, a lot less than DK, but I didn't use those bits ;) However, the 2x2 rib takes care of the differences in thicknesses - one the whole the yarn looks quite even. I used about 110-125g of roving, which spun to over 125 yards.

Of course, I will be making more pairs of armwarmers - they're a great medium for showing off cables. I think I may experiment with different thumb styles, as there was a hole just where I started the gusset (which I've since sewn up). I'm pleased I decided to frog the new overspun stuff and unspin it before reknitting: before the hand parts of both looked so different, now they're pretty much equal.

You know, before I joined knitting communities I never called them 'armwarmers': they were always 'sleeves'. However, I've never had my own handmade pair before :)

I'm already planning the next pair...

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

W-i-P Weekend!

I've spent the weekend catching up on some Ws-i-P. As you can see from the previous post I finished the slippers; well, I also finished... Sonnet :-0 I know, finally. I'm going to get Mr Bee to take pictures later. Still don't know how I feel about it, other than bitter about the fact that it broke me. I put it on over my pyjamas and asked Mr Bee what he thought about it... he's not impressed. Doh! Ah well, I've learnt my lesson now.

I've also finished my handspun project, and again will post pics later. I had a bit of an issue with the new yarn I'd spun. It was a lot thinner and way overspun. I actually finished last night, but really didn't like the way the new yarn looked so I ended up frogging the new stuff. I then untwisted the yarn, and chose the thickest stuff to knit with. I'm much happier now!

I think later I may work on the Leaf scarf, as it's a chunky project. I'm sick of teeny needles! The Alien Illusion scarf is going slowly - I figured it takes me 6 hours per alien face, and I still have 2.5 to go. Tempting is also slow going, plus it hurts my wrist: I don't know whether it's the 2x2 rib or the circular nature :-/

Pics to follow soon...

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Blue'n'Pink Slippers

I finished knitting the blue'n'pink Mary Jane slippers the other day, but only got round to putting buttons on them today. Annoyingly I have a huge button box inherited from my grandmother, but I think it's still at my parents' house. Luckily I found two little plain buttons, which will do. I know that this pair is actually going to form a Christmas present, and therefore I have 9 months to find buttons, but I just wanted to finish them ;)

As you can see, I guess they should technically be pink'n'blue slippers, as they are mainly pink!

I may decide to make a blue flower to sew on, but at the moment I think they're OK as they are. Making all these slippers were a great stashbust - I used up all the grey, blue and pink yarn!

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I just swatched for the Corset Pullover; had to drop a needle size but I've got the gauge pretty much spot on!

The cotton is a dream to knit. It flowed like butter off the US8s, and isn't too bad off the US7s either (which is good, as that's what I have to use). It's not as stiff as the original jumper is, it's just lovely. I'm enjoying swatching! I'm now trying out the twisted rib stitch...

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ravenclaw Slippers

These are the blue and grey slippers which I made for Sunday for her birthday. I used the pattern for Ridiculously Easy Mary-Jane Slippers, but made them in Stockinette rather than Garter knitting. I also didn't make a strap, as I had hardly any grey yarn left over. However, they are a very snug fit, so should be OK, and I threaded the left-over yarn around the top of the slipper to act as a drawstring just in case:

I realised once I'd made them that they are in the colours of Ravenclaw House from Harry Potter, and that as Sunday likes Ravenclaw it made complete sense to call them that! I think she likes them too - well, I got 'yeahsalright' from a teenager ;)


Oops I bought a stash...

At the weekend Mr Bee and I went back to Manchester to visit our families, as we each had sisters with birthdays.

I was planning to go to the fabric shop I always used to frequent (to buy fabric) to check out whether they had any yarn on sale. They mainly sell balls of novelty yarn, but they had one huge unit full of packs of regular yarn, and it was cheap - plus I got a student discount!

So, from top to bottom:
  • 10 balls of Sirdar Nova (50% wool, 50% acrylic) in Navy - £1 per ball
  • 10 balls of Sirdar Nova (50% wool, 50% acrylic) in Hot Pink - £1 per ball
  • 10 balls of 'mixed fibres' (looks a bit like mohair, but probably mainly acrylic) in a magenta shade - 58p per ball
Yes, admittedly I did have to buy a lot to make the savings, but I think it is worth it, given that they worked out to less than a ball of acrylic would be. They did have a pack of beautiful bottle green 'mixed fibres', but it was a lot thicker and way scratchier than the magenta. The Nova stuff is chunky as well, which I like as it means a quick knit!

I don't have any plans for them yet, except I'm thinking of the Spider-Web Capelet from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation for the magenta.

I also went to the charity shops in the suburb between my parents' house and Mr Bee's parents' house. Found some cool jumpers to frog as well...

From the top:
  • Pale blue jumper, high lambswool content, size 12-14 and not-me enough for me to definitely frog it: £2.49
  • Smokey electric blue shrug (a bit like Blackberry, but sooooooo wrong), mainly acrylic with sparkles, size 12-14 so so so bad in it's current state it's definitely being taken apart: £4
  • White jumper, 100% acrylic (yet still handwash only!), size 10-ish. I haven't tried it on yet, but I do like it. I might be tempted to keep it as a jumper unless I can find something nicer for it: £2.99
I think the shrug is going to become Hug from Magknits - that's by the same designer as Blackberry as well (I should email her and tell her she's fab!). I haven't made a decision about the others, but thought I should get them as they were cheap. Both blue items were originally from Primark, so they probably didn't cost much more to begin with. I'm surprised that they have a wool content and proper sleeves to be honest, but then I imagine Primark uses sweat-shop labour :( Ah well, this way I'm supporting charity shops, not horrid companies. I think if reknitting charity shop jumpers works I will try and get all my yarn from there.

I also found a cool knitting book for £2.99. The patterns in it are mostly awful (it's late seventies early eighties), but the best part is the first half is basically a stitch directory! Can't wait to try them out.

One thing I didn't buy was what would have been the best stash-bag. It was a large red hemp 'toy bag', with snail or a caterpillar on one side and a bee on the other! It also had two inside pockets, but sadly no covering flap. Unfortunately it was £12.99 - it was in a charity shop, but as a new product. I decided not to get it, but to think it over and potentially go back. I thought about it, decided I did want it, but when we went back the shop had closed. Sigh. Other branches will possibly have it, but there isn't one in this town. There is one in the next town where we sometimes go to the cinema, so maybe I'll try there. However, after having looked at my bank balance today, maybe I don't need it after all (even if it did have a bee)!

And today my order from Wingham Wool Work arrived - now I can finish my Ultramarine project! I've also bought 150g of Petrol (a beautiful deep jewel green) merino, and 300g of their cheapest sheepy stuff to continue practising with. I'll probably spin up the rest of the Ultramarine tonight - it'll be nice to actually have a completed project!

I did work on Tempting over the weekend - I've attached the sleeves and am about an inch into the yoke. The 2x2 rib is hard going though, and I did have wrist pain issues. It's being done slowly but surely though! I also finished one blue'n'pink slipper and am quite a way into the next. I need to finish those before I can get started on anything else (and I want to swatch for the Corset Pullover! I unravelled a sleeve to make yarn for it on Sunday). The good thing about my Denise kit is that I can't have too many Ws-i-P: I don't have enough connecting cords! Admittedly Tempting is using up 3, but still I need to keep my Ws-i-P down, and this is as good a reason as any.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Maybe I need to detangle...

That was the situation earlier tonight with the slippers! It shows one fully knit grey slipper, one fully knit blue slipper and one partially knit blue'n'pink slipper all still on the needles (the same set: I've got so many Ws-i-P that I've run out of cables for my needles!), and what used to be a couple of balls of yarn.

I have since turned the blue and the grey ones into fully sewn up slippers - they are cute! I'll put pictures up later, I'm too tired now. I didn't have enough blue to knit two slippers, and had just enough grey for one, so decided that they would go nicely together. The left over blue is forming the first 10 rows of each of the blue'n'pink slippers.

I've also decided that the blue and grey slippers will go to Sunday this weekend for her birthday, but I'll keep the blue'n'pink ones until Yule for Mr Bee's sister. We don't normally exchange birthday gifts, and I don't want her to feel obliged to get me something! I still intend to finish them soon though - I'm taking them with me this weekend.

I'm also taking Tempting - have to finish off the second sleeve and then it's the scary attaching-to-body malarkey. I may not be able to do it on my own (may not have access to the knit-a-longs, etc), but I'll give it a go.

I'm tired!

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