Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Apologies and an Explanation

First of all, as usual, I apologise for not posting for some time.  I meant to, and then life as I knew it changed completely.

On Friday 10 November 2017, my Dad went to his voluntary job as usual, sorting donations in our local Oxfam shop.  He had a bit of a funny turn, couldn't breathe properly and his colleagues called an ambulance.  They checked him out - his heart was fine, so they gave him some medication to open his lungs up.  After a bit, he was OK so my sister picked him up and took him home, and everything was as normal.  It was probably the dust - you don't know where some of this stuff has been stored.

Only the following Tuesday, 14 November 2017, it happened again - he was back at Oxfam sorting donations and the paramedics were called.  This time they suggested he see his doctor and ask to be referred for a chest X-ray.  So he did.

And that is when the roller coaster started to move.  Doctor's appointment, chest X-ray, CAT scan, appointment with the consultant, PET scan and biopsy.  Finally, exactly 5 weeks after his first funny turn, we had a formal diagnosis. 

Dad has squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of lung cancer.  It is inoperable due to its location and size.

But there is hope.  There is just the one. 

Today he started an intensive course of radiotherapy designed to shrink the tumour.  A twelve day course, three doses of radiotherapy a day.

And after that, we wait a couple of weeks to give the treatment a chance to work.  And then whatever comes next, comes next.

I am still here, I am still knitting and I know that you will understand my past and future absence from this blog.  I am not giving it up.  Hopefully there will be times when I feel I can post, that I have something to put out into the blogosphere.  But in the meantime, my heart and mind are elsewhere.  I also know that we are not the only family going through this, and I send my love and best wishes and my hopes for a reprieve for your loved ones too to anyone out there who needs them.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

What did I do last month?

I know its been a while - I kept saying to myself that I would blog on this day or that night, and then something would happen, and I didn't.  However I have been places and done things, so I do have plenty to share.

My last post was a couple of days before my birthday.  Now, back in the Spring, my friend, Jo, and I went to a seminar on Occupations and the first speaker was the stone carver at Lincoln Cathedral.  Jo and I were so taken with what he had to say that we decided to have a trip and see for ourselves.  So on my birthday, that is what we did.  We drove to Lincoln in the pouring rain to have a good look at the Cathedral.  I have vague memories of going there as a child and peering up at the Lincoln Imp, but certainly haven't visited for decades.

We started at the West Front, which is what remains of the original Norman building, but which has been tarted up since.  The give away is the rounded arches - later arches have pointed apexes.

Then we went inside and had a floor tour.  Basically this is a guided tour of the Cathedral at floor level.  You can go into the towers and the roof, but I have some issues with heights so we stuck to ground level.  This is the view down the nave towards the East Front.

Our main interest was in the carvings, particularly in those which the stone carver had shown us at the seminar.  A lot of them were too high up to get good pictures of, but I did manage to take a few of carvings closer to the ground.


The top carving is of Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the Magna Carta.  The words above his head are "The English Church shall be free" which are the first words of the Magna Carta.  The skull/snake with the bag of money represents Greed and the devil/snake is on the other side of the same buttress.

We also visited the Cathedral libraries - a smaller one which is all that remains of the original medieval library with original benches, and the Wren Library which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1674 for the then Dean of the Cathedral, Michael Honywood.

We spent so long wandering round the Cathedral that we didn't get to see any other parts of Lincoln, so I really must go back soon.  However, if you haven't visited Lincoln Cathedral (either at all or for decades), then I do suggest that you go. 

The next item chronologically is a couple of finished objects.  

First up are my Marie Curie Socks.  This is a pair of vanilla socks knit cuff down using the Slightly Modified Garter-Stitch Edged Eye of Partridge Heel from the Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern by Erica Lueder.  The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the limited edition Marie Curie colourway.
And secondly this is my Ribbon Cowl RAK, which is a modified version of the Ribbon Cowl pattern by Frankie Brown, where I did four extra ribbons of colour for extra length.  The yarn is King Cole Pricewise DK in the Dark Grey (29) and Candy (40) colourways.  This will go to the Friary Drop-In, which is our local charity supporting the homeless.

 And then I had another excursion - really a long weekend away.  Bakewell Wool Gathering was held on the weekend of 14 and 15 October 2017 so some knitting friends and I rented a cottage just outside the town at Over Haddon from the Friday night to the Monday morning.  We had a great time - chatting, knitting, watching DVDs, eating pizza and of course, attending the Wool Gathering.  We went on the Saturday and the weather was glorious.  I am, as I have said before, a very nesh person - someone who feels the cold - but in the early afternoon we were sat on benches by the Public Gardens eating chips and I was quite warm enough in my T-shirt and jeans!

And of course, there was yarn.  From left to right, the first two are by Coastal Colours in their 4ply sparkle.  The grey is dyed with silver birch and coal, and the blue with indigo. The middle skein was a birthday present from a friend - "Return of the Rainbow" on 75/25 merino/nylon sock yarn by All Wool That Ends Wool.  The purple sparkly skein is also sock yarn from Rosie's Moments in the "Petra" colourway in memory of a much loved friend, with 10% of the proceeds going to leukaemia research.  And the final skein is a 80/20 merino/nylon high twist 4ply in the "Fireworks over Bradwell" colourway by Peak District Yarns.

The next item is another finished object.  This is my Windshield Hat knit from a pattern by Niina Talikka, which is free on Ravelry.  I knit this as part of the Hipster KAL organised by Jaclyn of the Brooklyn Knitfolk podcast.  It is a three month KAL starting on 1 August and finishing on 31 October 2017.  You had to knit an item or items which had 10 or fewer projects listed on Ravelry at the time you joined the KAL.  Windshield is knit from Triskelion Heulwen DK (70/20/10 superwash merino/silk/cashmere) in the Upstream colourway, and the yarn is just gorgeously soft and snuggly.

And then last but not least, I had a day off work on Tuesday to take my nieces to Twycross Zoo.  Normally we have a day out together during the summer holidays but events conspired against us this year, so we had a day out in October half-term instead.  The Zoo was the girls' choice, although we have all been beforeFor me it has been some time since I was last there.  It is an easy drive, about 40 minutes, and we got there as it opened.  The girls wanted to see everything so we did.  Snow leopards, Amur leopards, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, lorikeets, lemurs, chimpanzees, siamang, prairie dogs, meerkats, butterflies, tapir - you name it, if it was there, we saw it!  The weather was better than anticipated, just an occasional drizzle instead of pouring rain, and slightly chilly due to the wind factor.  We had a great day - apart from youngest niece managing to temporarily abandon the rucksack with their wet weather gear in, and me getting a sore shoulder from hauling about all the food needed for two pre-teen girls.  Youngest niece took control of my camera, so here are some Asian elephants for you to look at :-)

I'm going to leave it here - there is more, but I need to get sorted, have lunch and take Dad shopping.  Hopefully I will manage to post again much more quickly than last time.

All the best to you and yours, and may the frog steer well clear of your needles.  

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Not one, but two Finished Objects!!

This post has been a bit longer coming than I originally anticipated, but I had a couple of WIPs getting close to the finishing line so have hung on until they were done and dusted.  So now I have two finished objects to blog about.

First up is my Berries Snuggle.  This is a three row basket weave throw with a garter stitch border knit from James C Brett Marble Chunky in the MC14 "Berries" colour way.  I started this on 16 April 2017, casting on 105 stitches - 99 stitches for the central section and 3 stitches either side for the garter stitch border.  This was intended to be a stash busting piece - I had two balls of the Marble Chunky, which I bought back in August 2015 when I had been knitting for slightly more than a year.  And then I thought that perhaps it needed to be longer than two balls worth, so when I got to the end of the first ball, I went out and bought a third ball, which I used for the middle section of the throw because it was a different dye lot.

My original plan was to knit the Snuggle for one of my nieces and then knit another one (this time in the "Petrol" colour way) for the other niece.  I have now changed my mind - this one took just over five months to complete, and I really don't fancy starting in on another one straight away.  So I am going to keep this one for me to snuggle under as it gets colder and darker.

My second finished object is my Seaspray Jumper, which I have just finish finished today.  This is a V-neck jumper, knit in pieces, using the King Cole pattern no. 3933 and King Cole Panache DK yarn in the 2071 "Seaspray" colour way.  I started this on 22 October 2016, so it has taken me just under a month short of a year to complete.

This is the second garment I have knit and it was a completely different method of construction from my "On the Beach", which I finished in June last year.  "On the Beach" was a top down raglan - "Seaspray" was knit in four pieces, back, front and sleeves, before being seamed together and then a neckband being added.  I knit the back first and then the sleeves to make sure that I would have enough yarn.  I knit the sleeves in the round on two circulars instead of flat in order to save myself some seaming at the end.  Doing this meant that I did all the seaming before picking up for the neckband, which I then knit in the round instead of flat.  It is done and it fits, and I am really pleased with how it looks.  It hasn't been blocked yet, but I will do that at the weekend.

This leaves me with four WIPs on the needles, but I am only going to show you the one where I have made real progress recently.  These are my Marie Curie socks, knit using limited edition West Yorkshire Spinners Signature sock yarn in the Marie Curie colour way.  These are vanilla socks with the slightly modified garter border eye of partridge heel taken from Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder (a free pattern on Ravelry).  This morning I turned the heel on the second sock, so it only remains for me to pick up for the gusset and knit the foot.

As you will appreciate, finishing projects leads on to thinking about new projects and yarn for said new projects.  I have five new projects in mind, and as of this morning's post, I have the yarn for all of them.  In no particular order, the new projects are as follows:

Striped Study Shawl by Veera Valimaki - to be knit in sparkly black (Unbelievawool) and shocking pink (Truly Hooked) sock yarn
Morning Glory by Drops Designs - to be knit in Drops Karisma in the "Bleu Jeans" colourway
Peano No. 1 by Nathan Taylor (Sockmatician) - to be knit in Fyberspates Vivacious DK (blue and grey)
Selbu Mittens by Skeindeer Knits - to be knit in Rauma 3ply Strikkegarn (black and white)
Samwise Socks by Claire Ellen - to be knit in KingBecky Yarn in the "Emerald City" colourway

The Selbu Mittens are a colourwork pattern - part of a mittens pattern club that Elli of Skeindeer Knits is doing - and I bought the Rauma yarn from Ysolda Teague's on-line shop based in Edinburgh.  It is non-superwash and somewhat crunchy to the touch, but it is one of the recommended yarns for the pattern and I understand that it will soften up with knitting, wearing and washing.  Now I just have to learn the Old Norwegian cast-on before I can get started.

In other news, I am enjoying a week off work, which is one reason why I have finished objects to show you.  The thing that I am most enjoying is the peace and quiet.  The office that I work in backs onto a multi-storey car park.  They were doing some repairs to the car park over the summer, which was noisy enough, but then a few weeks back, the outer wall of the level above the entrance collapsed.  Fortunately this happened early on a Saturday morning and no-one was hurt, but it has meant that the noise level has gone up dramatically as they work on fixing it so that it can be put back into use.  Unfortunately in the meantime my colleagues are now having to park in another car park, which is frequented by drunks and druggies, right next to a hotel which rents its rooms by the hour!!

What else?  Well, I have got my 1.5 stone award so am currently 11 stone 10.5lb.  I have moved my target weight down to 11 stone 4lb, which will make a total loss of 2 stone, so have 5.5lb left to lose.  This may well take some time, but if I can do it before Christmas, that would be really good.  Mentally, I am doing reasonably well at the moment, but the clocks haven't gone back yet so it is still light when I leave for work and when I get home again.  When I get back to work, I am going to chase up HR about this year's flu jab as staying healthy physically will probably help with staying healthy mentally.

I also have some things to look forward to in the near future - a day trip to Lincoln, a meal out with my best friend (who just got engaged), the yarn festival at Bakewell etc - so am aiming to remain positive.  In desperate need of a cup of tea, so will finish here and go put the kettle on.

All the best to you and yours, and may the frog steer well clear of your crafting.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

A new knitting adventure

It's very bad behaviour, I know, to say that I'm going to post more regularly and then leave it nearly a whole month. My only excuse is that I had a new knitting adventure coming up and I kept putting off posting until I could write about it. Now it is over, I have no more excuses.

What did I do? Well, on Saturday 2 September, I drove 130 miles to Purlescence at Leckhampstead in Berkshire, just outside Newbury, to do a knitting workshop. This was an early birthday present from my parents which I had been looking forward to since the end of July. The workshop was on double knitting and the teacher was Nathan Taylor aka Sockmatician! I have been watching Nathan's podcast for some time now and had become very interested in his preferred knitting technique of double knitting. This was encouraged by the fact that one of my knitting friends is currently knitting a blanket of double knitting squares from the Geek-A-Long.

My only concern was that the joining instructions talked about the long tail cast on, which is one of my least favourite cast ons - I'm generally a cable cast on knitter. So I packed up my DK yarn, my 4mm interchangeable tips and 2 different cables (having spent at least 20 minutes looking for my 4mm fixed circulars, only to realise that they were already being used on the project in my handbag!) and set out on the 2 hour plus drive. It was a smooth enough journey and I got there just after 1pm (for a 2pm start) with enough time to eat my lunch and chat with another attendee, Jo from Bristol.

Then we went inside. Purlescence is based in a unit on a farm, so one room is the workshop space with yarn round the walls and the other room has a sitting area, a shop section for books, needles and patterns and a place for making tea and coffee. I was definitely ready for a cup of tea at that point and there was also homemade cake - I had a brownie later on.

While waiting for other attendees to turn up, I looked at yarn and chatted with Nathan and the attendees who had already arrived.  And then the workshop started.

I am not going to tell you everything about it because that wouldn't be right, but I had a really great time.  Nathan is a lovely guy and a really good teacher, and he explained the theory and process of double knitting very clearly.  He also showed us lots of his own works to whet our appetites.  The long tail cast on element was different for double knitting and much easier than I had anticipated once I got to grips with it.  The workshop was a three hour session and it definitely required concentration, although Nathan was right on hand if you got stuck or made a mistake.  There was a lot of laughter and some bad language as we worked our way through the charted pattern, and I think that we all had fun.

I managed to finish my sample piece, although the workshop did overrun slightly, but as it was the end of the day, it didn't matter too much.  And here it is!

It isn't perfect, but I think that I've got the hang of it now.  And so afterwards, I bought yarn to knit one of Nathan's patterns (when I've cleared a couple of WIPs off my needles!).  The pattern I have chosen is one that he showed us at the workshop - Peano No.1  It is a scarf pattern based on a fractal, and being double sided, will be very warm.  The yarn I bought was Fyberspates Vivacious DK, and my scarf is going to be quite subtle, rather than in your face.

So on one side, it will be grey with a blue pattern, and on the other, it will be blue with a grey pattern.

Nathan's self-proclaimed goal is world domination by double knitting knitters and to that end there are still places on his workshops at Nottingham Yarn Expo (11 and 12 November 2017).  And if you are at the Yarn Expo on Saturday 11th, you may well see me there!

And to finish up, after the workshop, I drove to the nearby Travelodge where I stayed overnight - they have very firm mattresses in Travelodges - before driving 130 miles home on Sunday morning.  And yes, I do have more knitting to talk about, but will leave that for the next post, which I hope will arrive in a more timely manner than this one.  Oh, and I am signed up for a brioche workshop in December, but that will be at my LYS.

All the best to you and yours, and may the frogs steer well clear of your WIPs.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

End of radio silence

Firstly, my apologies - I hadn't realised quite how long it had been since I last posted.  Every so often I would think "I must write a blog post.  I'll do it on Xday." and Xday would come and something would happen, and the blog post didn't get written.

But I am back now.  I had my week off at the end of June, and spent it mainly knitting and pottering.  Since then I have been back at work, and done knitting and pottering and playing a lot of Gardenscapes when not at work.  The knitting has had results in the form of finished objects.  On the other hand, playing Gardenscapes is not very productive.  And the pottering - well, the results of that vary from day to day.

So, finished objects.  First up is my second RAK project.  It is another hat and is actually a pattern that I have knitted before.  And I used up the yarn left over from the first hat, which was part of the point of the whole RAK exercise.

This is a second Knit Night Hat, a free pattern by Judy Marples, knit in King Cole Riot DK in the Dude colourway.  I have enjoyed knitting it both times.  It is quite straightforward, starting with a nice purl and slip stitch brim and then just stocking stitch to the end. 

My second finished objects are my Petty Harbour socks.  This is a free pattern by Rayna Curtis, which I knit in Opal 20 Jahre sock yarn in the "Wir sagen Danke" colourway.  Again an enjoyable knit.  This was my first pair of socks knit on 2.5mm needles, having dropped down from 2.75mm needles because my tension appears to have finally loosened up.

Now a quick diversion to stash enhancement.  At the end of July, I went to Fibre East, which is a yarn festival held in Bedfordshire.  I did have a budget, but I also took one of the best/worst enablers I know with me.  So this is what I bought:

From left to right, the first three skeins are Charisma by The Knitting Swede, a 55% wool 45% silk fingering weight yarn - the grey is Greystone and the blues are Nautilus.  These are destined to become a shawl from a pattern by the dyer.  Next up is three skeins of Ariel by Wrigglefingers, which is a 80% Blue faced Leicester 20% Firestar (sparkly nylon) fingering weight yarn in a one of a kind colourway.  I was only going to buy one skein (for socks) but my enabler friend was with me, so now I have enough for a garment!

Then comes the odd one out - this is totally out of my comfort zone and yet was the first thing I bought!  The dyer is Siobhans Crafts and it is a sparkly DK yarn in the Unicorn colourway.  I have no idea what I am going to do with this.  Next up is a 70% superwash merino 30% silk fingering weight yarn from Bellica Yarns in the Wolf colourway - again no plans for this as yet.  Then comes a skein of Pulsar by Sparkleduck, a 55% superwash Blue faced Leicester 45% silk fingering weight yarn in the Sea-quine colourway.  There is a sad story behind this yarn.  Heather, the dyer behind Sparkleduck, died unexpectedly and far too young earlier this year, so when her husband decided to exhibit at Fibre East with some of what she had been dyeing, I was not the only one who felt the need to buy one last skein.

My final purchase is already on the needles.  If you watch the Brooklyn Knitfolk podcast on YouTube (and you should!), you will know that Jaclyn is running the Hipster KAL.  This is a reaction against the multitude of Faded this, that and the other which have been all over the knitting world recently.  The KAL runs from 1 August to 31 October 2017 and whatever you knit must be over 50g and must have had less than 30 projects listed on Ravelry at the time you chose to knit it.  My choice of pattern was the Windshield hat by Niina Talikka and I am knitting it in Triskelion Heulwen DK in the Upstream colourway.  Heulwen DK is a gorgeous yarn - 70% alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere.  I haven't a picture yet to show you as it is a top down pattern and trying to wrangle 5mm dpns for a 6 stitch cast on followed by increases done with knitfrontback has been interesting!  I will put in a photo next time.

I am still knitting on my Seaspray jumper (working the neck and armhole decreases), my Berries Snuggle (about halfway through ball 3) and my Ring O'Roses sock (just turned the heel on sock 1).  I am also working on my third RAK, which is the Honey Cowl, a free pattern from MadeleineTosh, which I am knitting in James C Brett Marble Chunky.  Finally I also have a new cast on from this morning.  I want to knit all the socks so this morning I cast on a vanilla sock using my West Yorkshire Spinners limited edition Marie Curie sock yarn using a ChiaGoo red cable 9 inch circular, which is a new brand of needle to me.

In other news, I got my Club 10 the other week at Slimming World.  This means that I have lost 10% of my starting weight and am now down to 11 stone 13lb.  I am now in two minds about my target - originally I opted for 11 stone 7lb, but am now thinking that if I go down to 11 stone 4lb, I will have lost 2 stone exactly.  Decisions, decisions.

What else?  Eldest niece will be moving to big school in September, so her year put on "Bugsy Malone" as a final hurrah.  She played the part of Louella, the wife of Dandy Dan, a gang boss.  She looked really good, did a very fine job and we were very proud of her.  Performing in the Gang Show earlier this year has done wonders for her self-confidence.

And my knitting horizons are going to be expanded.  At the beginning of September, I am going on a double knitting workshop run by Nathan Taylor, who has the Sockmatician podcast, which I am really looking forward to.  And then in December, my local yarn shop is running a brioche workshop which I have signed up for.  So by the end of the year, I will have stranded colourwork (Ring O'Roses socks), double knitting and brioche all under my belt as well as the techniques I had already picked up.

I will finish here and go and do a bit of knitting before bed.  So, all the best to you and yours, and I will try to post more regularly from now on in.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Moving Forward

Hi, it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted but part of that time it was too hot to think, let alone post, and then I was busy at work getting ready to take a week off. Yes, I'm having a whole week off! I haven't had this much time off in one go for about 9 months so I am good and ready for it. I'm not going away - just chilling at home, knitting, reading and so on. As today is Monday and my first official day off, I decided to update my blog.

And I do have some knitting progress to show you this time. First up is my Seaspray Jumper - I cast off the second sleeve yesterday, which means that I have done the back and both sleeves so am well over halfway. I plan to cast on the front either later today or tomorrow.

Next up is my Petty Harbour sock - I turned the heel a couple of days after I last blogged and am working my way down the foot.

The last work in progress that I am going to show you is my Ring O'Roses sock. This is a slow burn on the basis that it is my first colourwork project and I only knit on it when I'm at home, things are quiet and I can focus. I have finished the first three charts, although you can't see No. 3 very clearly because the fabric is rolling on the needle. The next stage is going to be more complicated because there are three charts on the front of the leg and a fourth on the back of the leg, so it might be some time before you see this again.

And I also have a finish! This is part of a new project that I have started since I last posted. I had been thinking about it and then I had a chat with a knitting friend and then I buckled down to it. I am calling it my Random Act of Kindness knitting, and basically I am now using my commuting time and some of my older stash to work on items for a local charity which supports the homeless. So my first RAK project was "Barley" by Tin Can Knits - a free pattern from their "Simple Collection" on Ravelry. I used Cygnet Aran in the "Sage" colourway which I had left over from a finishing workshop that I took a couple of years ago. This is the Adult Large size and I am hoping it will grow when blocked as it currently fits me and I'm not sure that I have a 23 inch head.

I also have some new stash to share with you. From left to right, I have a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in their limited edition "Marie Curie" colourway, which you can only get from City Knits, and £2 of the purchase price goes to Marie Curie, a charity which supports people with terminal illnesses and their families. The other two skeins are from Jo.Knit.Sew and are on a merino/nylon/sparkle base (400m per 100g) and the colourways are "Green Speckles" and "Blue Speckles" respectively.   The "Green Speckles" is actually more of an apple green in colour - it just hasn't photographed very well.

In other news, my weight loss continues. I have now lost 1 stone 2lb in total and can see a pale glimmer at the end of the tunnel, which is why I am sitting here munching on celery! Mum has had her hospital appointments and the upshot is that yes, she has mild osteoarthritis in her right hip, but apparently that is "satisfactory" (??), and the cardiologist says that the situation with her heart hasn't changed and that her GP has done everything he would have done. He also said that she should carry on doing the Race for Life and using it as a marker - i.e. if she is still getting round each year in about the same time, then she needn't worry. So she is feeling better in herself and is all psyched up to have the house redecorated.

I am going to finish here and go and get myself some lunch. Hopefully my next blog won't be so long in coming. All the very best to you and yours.

Friday, 9 June 2017

A new rabbit hole to fall down and general waffle

Well, its been nearly two weeks since I last posted because I have been somewhat busy.  Plus the weather has been up and down, hot then cold, wet and windy, which always has an impact on my mindset.

Anyway, two days after I last posted, I found a new rabbit hole to fall down.  At the previous Saturday Knit Group, one of my fellow knitters had been knitting a project using some glorious colours of yarn, and on being asked where she got it, had replied that she had dyed it herself and followed up by offering to teach me.  That night when I got home, I was straight on the Internet buying undyed yarn and acid dyes!

So on Tuesday 30 May I drove to her house and learned how to dye my own yarn.  I was there about 3 hours, first of all learning how to dye the yarn, then how to overdye it and then how to do the speckles - #specklesaresohotrightnow!  I had ordered four skeins of undyed 10% superwash merino single ply in fingering weight and I also had a skein of undyed yarn that had been given me as a Christmas present year before last along with some KoolAid.  By the end of the session, I had five very different coloured yarns to take home and finish drying over the bath.  And what did they look like, you will ask.  Well, here goes:

The green is more yellowy than it shows here, but otherwise the photo is not too bad colourwise.  From left to right, purple with black speckles, turquoise with pink and black speckles, pink with turquoise and black speckles, green with black speckles and teal with black speckles.  The teal is the Christmas yarn and the others are the singles.  Now, if I remember rightly, the pink, the turquoise and the teal are single dyes and the purple and green were overdyed, starting off teal and then with red added to make purple and yellow to make the green (I may be wrong, but probably not by much).  And then the speckles are added by flicking dry dye onto the wet yarn, wrapping it up in clingfilm and steaming it.  I'm really pleased with them, although I have no idea what I am going to knit with them, and that leads to the next problem.

Do I want to dye more yarn for myself?  It would be fun, but the main problem is that of space for the kit required.  I have a one bedroom flat with limited storage space, most of which is already taken up with yarn, books, cross stitch supplies and family history papers.  One option would be to keep the dyeing pans in the garage, but then would it be out of sight, out of mind?  But it would feel so fabulous to be able to put on a new jumper and say "Oh yes, I dyed the yarn myself!"  I have time in hand though, the yarn suppliers are having a sale in September which gives me a couple of months to think things through.  I'll let you know what I decide.

In other news, Mum and I did the Race for Life on Sunday - 5km in aid of Cancer Research UK.  The route was nearly all on the flat and the weather was nice enough - not too hot and a bit of a breeze.  We got round in just under an hour - which included a brief stop to buy icecream - a couple of minutes longer than last year.  The problem this year is that Mum started to flag just before the halfway point.  We generally work on the basis that while she is still talking to me, things are fine.  This time it came down to me having to do the talking to keep her going, which was a bit worrying.  She went in for an X-ray this morning on her other hip - the one which hasn't been replaced - and she also has an appointment later this month to see her cardiologist to find out why she is becoming more breathless.

And on the weight loss front, I have a major Happy Dance to report!!  I went to get weighed last night and got my 1 stone award.  For those of you who are metric, 1 stone is about equivalent to 6.35 kilos.  I had lost 1.5lb at the weigh in after my last post and then another 2.5lb this week, which takes me to 1 stone 0.5lb.  This means that I am over halfway to my target weight.  I was so pleased with this week's weight loss, especially now that I can treat myself for getting my award.  Now what to get?

I'm not going to talk about the General Election, save to say that the result was better than anticipated but not as good as I would have liked.

And because there has been no real crafting and lots of words in this post, here is the next finished item in my What I did on my Holidays roundup.

Cross stitch rather than knitting, but I hope you won't mind too much.  This is a birth present for my cousin's little boy - as often happens with these things, it got finished after his first birthday.  The chart is Baby Express Birth Record from Dimensions (#73428), stitched on 14 count white aida.  It was a kit which I started on 5 January 2015 and finished on 18 March 2016.  I took it to my framer the following day, picked it up on 26 March and posted it off on 2 April 2016.  It now hangs in his bedroom - his older sister was a bit jealous, but calmed down when her Mum pointed out to her that she has a whale on hers, which he doesn't.

None of my current knitting projects are at a stage which is worth showing, but I do have a week off coming up at the end of the month, during which I intend to relax, chill out and knit.

All the best to you and yours, and I hope to be back with you soon.