Thursday, December 20, 2007


Wishing everyone Season's Greetings and a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, yarnbookchocolatewine filled, Knitty Knew Year...
I'm off for a quick visit to Eire to play Santa to my nephews, then back here on Christmas Eve for Christmas day with my men - we've got the neighbours coming over in the evening to play silly games (I bought Cranium 'specially). Then it's off to Horsham to see M-I-L on her birthday and back to work a week Friday. No time/opportunity for blogging next week then.
I can feel a blogging New Year's resolution coming on.

Before I go - couple of rants, just to get 'em off my chest. I met the postie t'other morning, whilst out walking the mutts before work. He gave me a card with £1.06 excess charge to pay. I handed over the money - but read on the envelope whilst strolling home, that £1 was a 'handling charge' because a friend had not realised that her (normal sized) card was a fraction too large and thus fell into the 'large letter' category and should have had 6p over the first class stamp she had affixed. What bloody bureaucratic nonsense is this? Are the Royal Mail so uncharitable that they can't waive 6p at Christmas? I resent paying this penalty, but I can at least afford it. What about pensioners who can ill afford that quid? Take note, card manufacturers and bah humbug to the W****** at the Royal Mail who are responsible. Reckon we should all not bother with cards and donate to charity instead (like I've done for the last couple of years, then felt cosumed with guilt that I'd neglected my friends...)
And later that same day - I phoned Irish Ferries to book a foot passenger ticket for me - and my dogs - to go to Ireland for the weekend. "Sorry", says the telesales person on the end of the 'phone, "Dogs are no longer allowed on board with footpassengers". I do sincerely apologise for my curt response, Mrs telesales person, as I realise it's not YOUR fault that I can't bring my dogs to Eire, but I am outraged that dogs have been banned because of "hygeine and safety". They've never been allowed anywhere but in the kennels on the cardeck anyway. And if I wanted to take them in my car (for an extra £160) then THAT'S ok - and hygeine and safety are no longer an issue - despite having to lodge in those self same kennels.
Shakes fist at anonymous b******* in offices who have no hearts.

See you all next year.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I have a new obsession: SPINNING!

I blame it on the knitting blogospere - all that enthusiasm from you lot for spinning just could not go ignored. After the Spin-A-Yarn workshop (which I actually managed to blog about back a while) I bought a fleece - a naturally coloured Ryeland fleece which is gorgeously soft - this is a pic of a Ryeland sheep: isn't she amazing? Cost me all of £6 which I'm told is expensive??? Seemed very cheap to me. I tried to sort the fleece, but apart from the skirt - it ALL seemed really soft and luscious, if a bit mucky.

Now - times that £6 by 10 and you get what my Mum paid for this spinning wheel for my birthday present - courtesy of Susan from the Devon Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers - an Ashford Traditional - isn't it also gorgeous? Tilly looks suitably impressed - NOT (Can you eat it? no. Can you play with it. NO!).

Well I can. Play with it I mean. Tough knitty, dog. And this was my first attempt at spinning on my very own wheel with the roving that WyeSue gave me for my birthday (thank you Sue! HUGS!)
Lumpy, bumpy, thick and thin. What fun! Think I'll try and dye this.
Here's the bag of stash I was presented with at Get Knitted by the incredibly generous WyeSue, a few weeks back. I bought just a few other items too - well you just got to make that long drive worthwhile, don't you? I said DON'T YOU!?

Not sure how to deal with my fleece - I read various tomes and followed various instructions found on the web:

Following Yarn Harlot's instructions - I laid out all the locks in line, inside a ripped apart pillowcase and then laid in a roasting tin. Then I made a neat little parcel of it all. I soaked it once in hot water. Then I put the pan, hot water and a dash of fairy liquid on the cooker and steamed the lot for an hour! Then I rinsed it and rinsed it again. I got lovely clean soft locks all ready for spinning. I've been carding them as well, but the experienced spinners I met at the Guild meeting (my first) on December 8th assured me I could spin it as is...

This next picture is of the fleece drying. I've got fed up with all this sorting out - so next I tried sticking a larger amount in the bathtub and washing it that way - result? Slightly felted and therefore harder to card, but just as clean. I was told that this fleece is easy for beginners to spin up - I'm going to spin enough chunky yarn to knit Sonnet methinks. Probably over ambitious, but WTH I'm sure I'll learn heaps. I've already spun and plied about 8oz of lumpy bumpy chunky which I beat up on the pretext of 'setting the twist' (these spinners are a kinky lot). I've also tried spinning more tops from the pile that WyeSue gave me - coloured stuff (you can see it peeking through the plastic in the picture above) - I didn't know about predrafting when I did it - but now I do. The chunky green result will be a green stripe in the Sonnet.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

When Knitting and Midwifery collide: A Birth Story.

Apologies for the length - but I just got to share this one!

"A midwife should have a good pair of hands and know how to sit on them" says Michel Odent? Or maybe knit with them says I.
I was at O and R's birth the other day - O is a midwife herself and knew exactly what she wanted - a home birth, with a quiet and dimmed atmosphere, with lots of love around. She wanted as few interventions as possible, and wanted to use TENs and for R to use Shiatsu for pain relief. They both had an array of homeopathic and bach flower remedies to hand... O had a long prelabour - she'd been up for two nights before I got there and R hadn't had much sleep either. We'd only met once before, but it's always so much easier for me when a couple know what they want...
I arrived at 11am and she was pleased to be told her cervix was 5cm dilated and the baby was in a good position and his heart was always really reassuring and steady. R has the most amazing smile that lights up the place and great big hands just great for massaging - mine didn't compare and O only wanted R's hands doing their magic on her shoulders and lower back.
I went off to collect the resus equipment and entonox (and grab some lunch). When I got back at about 1pm, O's contractions were still plodding along at about 2-3:10, strong but slightly irregular. Using acupressure would bring them up to speed slightly but they would always drop back to 2-3:10.
Still, O's cervix was 8 cm dilated at 17.15hrs (I'd left it a bit longer to check as I knew that we weren't going to get 1cm an hour!). I'm getting a bit of pressure from Labour Ward by this time - the coordinator would phone and want to know if I was happy and why didn't I do an ARM?!
Again, I can stave off unhelpful advice if I'm backed up by a birthplan!
ho hum, 3 hours later, t'was still the same. But far from getting discouraged O became even more determined. I've called the second midwife who was also really supportive and all the time I'm knitting socks and listening in to baby and checking O and R were OK but they were getting on so well without me doing anything but knit and keep a watchful eye on the slooooow but steady progress. We debate the usefulness of ARM and R gives O caulophyllum (sp?) and SRM happens - wahey! I think the baby heard us. Light meconium staining but we can live with that as junior's heart is still steady as a rock... Contractions are now strong 4:10. so I'm disappointed when O's cervix is STILL the same 2hrs later.
But even as we're arranging transfer for delay, O starts to make that wonderful grunting noise that signifies second stage and there's a show and so, we cancel the ambulance and we say welcome to baby boy just half an hour later. And wait for the cord to stop pulsing and admire the true knot. The placenta only takes 11 minutes to arrive.
Beautiful baby boy is so alert and goes straight on the breast. O has achieved everything on her birth plan - a wonderful normal birth with just a whiff of entonox to get through transition, and R would make a wonderful midwife... His smile lights up the room after its all over. I have such admiration for their love and strength and courage and determination and teamwork.
HA! - I frogged the sock I'd knitted because I'd made it too narrow, but the next day I knitted up a teeny tiny pair of socks in the same yarn for O and R's baby boy, to remind them of that incredible journey - just as O had soaked a silk square in liquor (mec and all) to remind their son of his time in the womb.

I called them I ching socks because the lines remind me of those little pictograms.

If any of my blogland friends have been wondering where I've been - I've been over on Ravelry! What a wonderful place to get lost in. I've also been celebrating my half century - and made my birthday last an entire week - wonderful.