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Hello! As we’re now thoroughly into winter, I’ve been dreaming up knitting projects to keep me warm. I just finished an interim hat from scraps, which hopefully I will blog when I block it.* Next up is a jumper.

After the success of knitting with Zealana Rimu, a beautifully soft 60% merino, 40% possum blend (more on possum yarn here), I decided to try for another Zealana yarn. I chose Zealana Kauri based largely on the gorgeous grey colourway. It’s a lightweight 4ply yarn, a blend of 60% merino, 30% possum and 10% silk. Soft, smooth and crisp with a furry halo and a bit of natural wonkiness when knitted up, Kauri is a unique yarn and one that would make for some magical finished items.

So pretty!

Unfortunately, my wrists did not like Kauri as much as I did. In my quest to find a sheeny silk-merino blend, I’d forgotten that silk has an incredibly high tensile strength, one that the wrist and arm bears when knitting with it. After some choice swear words, I managed to exchange the Kauri for another Zealana yarn, Heron.

Sorry about the plastic bag, this was just a quick shot for my Ravelry stash.

Heron is a simpler 80% merino, 20% possum blend. It’s described as “singles plied with binder”, which is accurate – it’s two singles bonded together, which come apart when washed (so darn in your ends before blocking!). I’m surprised, and impressed by how Zealana managed to make two yarns with a similar composition (Heron and Rimu) completely different from each other. Rimu is softer and fluffier, with a thick drape. Heron, their “workhorse”, has a more varied texture, with a bit more springiness and a subtle halo when blocked. It seems thinner and less stiff, despite being labelled as a worsted while Rimu is a DK.

The product image, from Zealana Yarns. Different to the actual product, no?

I just adore the colourway I chose. It’s called “Raisin”, and from the product image I was expecting a medium burgundy brown. Instead, what I got is a symphony of Autumnal colour: shifting greens, yellows and burnt red/oranges on a darker brown base. The colours brought out vary depending on the light, and it’s more reminiscent of a lush, dark forest coming into Autumn than a raisin! It’s not what I expected, but is gorgeous nonetheless.

My blocked swatch. Notice how the bonded singles separate after a wash.

From Barbara Walker’s Knitting From the Top.

I began planning and knitting up a top-down, saddle shoulder jumper as per the instructions in Barbara Walker’s Knitting From the Top. The saddles are in garter stitch, with the rest of the jumper in stockinette to allow the yarn to speak for itself.

I had gotten as far as the back shoulders, until one cursed day when I was chopping pumpkin for soup. It was hard on the hands, I thought, but didn’t think much more about it – until later, when my right wrist was so weak and in so much pain, that I couldn’t even think about picking up the knitting needles. As I’d incurred a similar injury in August last year and it eventually got better by itself, I figured all I needed was a brief rest period. Can you hear my body laughing at me right now?

The demonic vegetable in question. Nah, it was just a Kent pumpkin.

The next week, I injured my wrist further trying to cut – wait for it – a slice of cheese. Suddenly, not only was my wrist and hand screaming in pain, but it would not do what I wanted it to. It just flopped by my side, ignoring my requests for it to move. I couldn’t carry a bread plate or cup of tea, let alone actually perform any tasks with it.

My hand therapist tells me I have tendonitis, and the treatment is largely time and rest (with splinting and taping). Given I’ve had it for 10 months, it’s considered chronic, and now that I’m largely relying on my left (non dominant) hand, symptoms are starting to appear in that wrist too. So there will be no more knitting or sewing for me in the foreseeable future. Combined with the fact that I’m tapping away on my keyboard at a snails pace with my left hand, that means my posts here may be far and few between.

I wish this was me.

I do have some unblogged makes I want to share with you, so I’ll try to get them photographed and (somehow!) written up at some point. Feel free to join me on Instagram which is much easier for me to use right now, I’m @siobhansimper.

I am honestly stunned by how debilitating such a common injury can be. I had naively assumed tennis elbow was, well, a sore elbow! Not a painful, tired forearm, swollen hand and wrist, and an inability to grip anything. I’m devastated that I can’t knit, sew or type, which are basically the only things I could do up to this point. I certainly have a lot of sympathy for those who experience long-term wrist issues.

So if you need me, I’ll be awkwardly typing on my phone with my left hand, and sitting around watching a lot of YouTube videos!

More reading:

*In about 12 months time.

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I was updating my Handmade Gallery page recently, and it got me thinking about my knitted and sewn output. (You can access my Handmade Gallery at the top of my blog – it’s a pictorial summary of everything I’ve made and posted on the blog to date.) Although I’ve a few garments made up and waiting to be photographed/blogged, so far this year my output is dramatically reduced from years previous.

It’s up in the corner there. I also have pages for Tips & Tutorials, and Resources including A Dummies’ Guide to ME/CFS, Electrolyte Drink Mega-Review, compression garments guide, and free vintage sewing and knitting patterns.

In 2018, I made 29 garments (more on this in 2018 in Creations), down from 31 in 2017. That’s just over a garment a fortnight. This year, I’ve only blogged 5 creations, or 1 a month. Now, this is mostly due to poor health affecting how much I can knit and sew (and blog!), but I’ve also been contemplating how I want what I create to fit into my wardrobe.

This is both in the literal sense (I only have so much storage space!) and in the meaning that I want to create clothes and accessories I will actually wear. I’ve done some ruthless culling of my clothes lately, in recognition of the fact that so much of it were items that I don’t (or can’t) wear anymore.

I thought I’d turfed a lot of handmade items, but it seems only 8 (or 29.6%) of my 2018 creations hit the donate/sell pile, leaving 19 remaining. That’s pretty good considering just how much I got rid of!

Now that my sewing and knitting time is limited, and my wardrobe somewhat streamlined, I’m aiming to sew and knit things with the intent purpose of getting a lot of wear out of them. I’m all too readily sucked into the latest making trends (must. not. make. jumpsuit.) and need to really keep myself in line to make sure the garments fresh off the sewing machine/needles actually get worn.

Some of the items I made in 2018. L-R, top-bottom: Bronwyn Jumper, Burda long sleeved blouse 04/2010 #114, Grainline Hemlock Tee x 2, self drafted ponte skirt from Maria Denmark tutorial, Pattern Fantastique Glacial Tee, Ottobre Autumn/Winter 5/2017 #18. Ladder Stripes – viscose knit dress (altered), Strokkur Jumper, Style Arc Blaire Shirt.

This also means not planning too far ahead. It might seem counter-intuitive, but I have a habit of thinking wayyyyyy too far into the future (hello, fellow anxious people?) and planning my creations out there too. By the time I’ve finished all my recent projects, whatever I had planned usually doesn’t seem practical or interesting to me anymore, so I end up selling the fabric/yarn or making something I don’t wear (which gets sold/donated).

So I’m just going to work on what I have planned for the immediate future, and let the rest slide. Let’s face it – I’m working at a turtle’s pace right now, as my illness isn’t exactly letting me burn through projects anymore! Next up in my queue is a simple top-down, seamless jumper, perhaps in the style of Ysolda’s Blank Canvas; and maybe some winter shirts. Button up shirts are one garment I can never have too many of!

This isn’t even all of them. L-R, top to bottom: Burda long sleeved blouse 04/2010 #114, Grainline Archer Shirt in strawberries, Burda 7136, Burda silk blouse 04/2011 #105, Burda long sleeve blouse (again!), Dalek Burda Emily Shirt, Grainline Archer, yet another Grainline Archer, StyleArc Blaire Shirt.

More reading: 

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Chronically Siobhan by Siobhan S - 1M ago

Last I updated you on my knitting progress, my wrist was giving me trouble and preventing me from knitting. Well, it’s still giving me trouble, but not enough to stop me knitting. I’ve finally finished my Hansel Half Hap, a pattern by Gudrun Johnstone.

I knit it in a kit from Ysolda’s shop, in the yarn specified by the pattern – Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight. The colours are lovely, and it’s so nice to have the hard work of choosing yarn and colourway taken out of your hands, leaving just the fun part of knitting!

Overall, this was a good knit, though I did have some difficulties getting gauge. The pattern calls for a gauge of 17 sts and 34 rows = 4″ on 5mm needles. 5mm needles are fairly large for 4ply/fingering weight yarn, but I did as was told and swatched up on 5mm needles…then 4.5mm….4mm…then finally down to 3mm needles before I achieved the correct gauge. I know gauge is more important than needle size, but at this point I was feeling like the sloppiest knitter in the world.

Lots of people love knitting at tiny gauges*, but the 3mm needles really cramped my hands. After all that hard work to get gauge, I was frustrated to find my shawl was no where near the dimensions stated (short by a good 9″ height and width I reckon).

It irked me so much that I reblocked it** in fragrance-free conditioner (Shetland yarn is scratchy, friends). With some very forceful stretching I managed to almost get the measurements on the schematic. It’s still 1-2″ small either way, and the conditioner did nothing to alleviate the scratchiness, but it’s better than it was before. (The curves in the straight edge would not block out.)

Not a great picture but you can see how much I stretched it!

Perhaps it was a matter of not having the right tools for blocking – I know haps are traditionally stretched out when wet. But there was nothing in the instructions to indicate this pattern needed stretching, bar a note about paying attention to the points in blocking.

I also had some difficulty following the pattern instructions. Maybe this is down to cognitive function, but I could not get in the swing of things and had to rip back the lace portion a few times til I totally got it (& I’ve absolutely knit this type of lace before). Again, this is all likely down to my own experience but some patterns are so well written they make you feel like everything is entirely intuitive.

Finally, the cast off as written was far too tight for the fabric of the shawl to stretch to its full extent – in fact, it gathered the fabric along the edge. I undid it and reknit with this simple modification: k2, *k2togtbl, k1*, repeat between * until all sts cast off.

It’s hard to see in the pictures, but in the top the pattern cast off caused the fabric to curl up and bubble, like a shell’s ear pasta. You can see the bubbles in the fabric near the point, where the lace begins, and again at the curve/end of lace. Mmm…..pasta.

These are really all minor quibbles, largely entirely personal – maybe I didn’t get gauge in every stitch pattern, need a hap blocking frame, and cognitive difficulties make reading patterns extremely challenging. It’s a gorgeous pattern, especially when made up in the colours called for. Next time I knit a shawl, I’d probably go for a softer yarn and one that I know I can get comparable gauge in.

The details:
Pattern: Hansel Half Hap by Gudrun Johnstone (my Ravelry notes)
Pattern details: “This a half sized version of my Hansel pattern-a traditional Shetland Hap shawl. When you purchase this pattern you will also receive the pattern for the full sized shawl (as a separate pdf). A ‘Hansel’ is a gift to mark a special occasion, such as the birth of a baby.”
Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight in 202 (MC), 1284 (CC1), 121 (CC2), 27 (CC3), FC7MIX (CC4).
Needles: 3mm
Mods: Different cast off: k2, *k2togtbl, k1*, repeat between * until all sts cast off.

Previous posts: WIP: Hansel Half Hap, Winter Knitting Plans

*They would be wrong.

**This is a huge deal. I hate blocking, and rarely wash my knits for this reason. But I wanted that shawl to be long enough to reach my ass, dammit.

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Warning: contains GIFs

Being chronically ill is much like juggling countless juggling balls, only to realise no one has ever actually taught you to juggle, and you have to muddle on as best you can on your own, with the threat of the full weight of your life’s obligations coming crashing down on you at any given moment.* Some assume that having a chronic illness absolves you from mundane life tasks, but the opposite is true: you have to deal with the same challenges everyone else does, with limited resources, as well as the other shit chronic illness throws at you.

Ooooo, open source images.

I feel like I’ve spent the past 6 months or so buried under the weight of medical appointments that have gone precisely no where. I saw a gynaecologist to investigate possible causes of my severe abdominal pain, and even had a costly laproscopy, only to find nothing. Undeterred, I then pivoted to the gastro field, working with a dietician and gut directed hypnotherapist**, which is ongoing and costly and providing little result.

Meanwhile, an ENT performed a costly nasal scope, followed by a costly nose cauterisation for bleeds with more costly treatment and advice (do you see a pattern forming?) for my chronic rhinitis which has provided absolutely no relief. I don’t have allergies, nor do I have endometriosis, cysts, coeliac disease, notable food intolerances or anything which might actually be causing my troublesome symptoms – all I have, it seems, are the symptoms themselves.

my body @ me

This month, I saw a cardiologist, who was helpful enough to do an initial telehealth appointment, and even understood the general nature of my case (POTS, fairly well medicated, my main concern is ME/CFS). But in the aims of potentially improving my symptoms, he prescribed an entirely optional, non-PBS medication that I’m not sure I could ever afford. Like so many medications, it may or may not make a small difference to my quality of life, which makes it even harder – am I willing to shell out a good portion of my income on a medication which may provide small improvement that I might have to give up one day due to financial stress?

Heh.

Not only this, but I have several specialist appointments coming up – all in the pursuit of answers. At least, having seen a doctor once and ascertaining they aren’t going to throw me out the door, screaming “FAKER!”, they become a known quantity. Who knows how these other specialists will treat me? Meanwhile, I continue to see my GP and psychologist, who are essential at keeping the boat afloat but don’t seem to plug any of the holes which allow water to gush in.

And for every specialist and allied health professional I have seen, there have been an equal number in Melbourne and Geelong that I have contacted who have refused to take on my case via telehealth. So, there’s some indifference mixed in with a bit of kindness and pity, with no answers to be had. I feel like my medical history can be summed up with the shruggy guy: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When you are healthy/non disabled, you kind of assume that the healthcare system has at least some answers. You go to a doctor, they might refer you to someone else, but at some point there is validation and treatment. It doesn’t ever cross your mind that you might be stuck in some endless merry-go-round of seeing medical professionals who can’t really help you, but you have no choice in seeing anyway. It’s as dehumanising as it is infuriating.

I know I see so, so few doctors, specialists and allied healthcare professionals compared to other chronically ill patients. Really, I consider myself lucky to not be shelling out hundreds each week in medical appointments, and I do get some time to myself.

But when you have so many balls in the air, at some point or another you start to wish that fewer of them were mind-numbing medical appointments, and more of them were just fun – or at least allowed me to fulfil some of my other obligations.

At this point, I feel like I’ve shared these memes before, but I’m really feeling Mary Poppins today.

*I feel like this is one of my clunkiest metaphors ever, but my brain is feeling extra-clunky today after having spent 2.5 hrs on hold to a service company.

**Yes, this is a thing, and even has some evidence behind it. As efficacious as FODMAPs in treating IBS, it seems (though naturally I can’t find the study I’m thinking of).

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Over on Instagram, I’ve been reviewing some books I’ve read lately. I realise not everyone follows me on that platform, so here’s my latest book reviews. My current reading is focused on non-fiction anti-racism work, which these reviews reflect.

Let’s start with Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?, by Bruce Pascoe. Pascoe puts forward a compelling argument against the “hunter-gatherer” label that is, he asserts, a lazy assumption about pre-invasion Aboriginal people. Using evidence from none other than invaders themselves, Pascoe methodologically lays out his case, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the advanced agrarian methods used all across Australia, as well as the various dwellings, dams, tools, crops and other buildings documented in his primary texts.

What is perhaps most tragic about Pascoe’s narrative is how quickly colonists decimated both Aboriginal populations and their well-managed land. From the massacres to destructions of towns and farming structures, to the deliberate ignorance of established farming techniques in favour of their own – in just a few short years, the soil had compacted, rivers were polluted, and fertile land became unfarmable desert.

Pascoe suggests revisiting traditional Aboriginal crops for Australian soil, as the damage done to the land by European-style farming has become clear. His testimony has certainly made me consider the morality of this type of farming. Excellent reading for those interested in pre-colonial Australia, which our education system sadly seems to skip over.

“After a lifetime of embodying difference, I have no desire to be equal. I want to deconstruct the structural power of a system that has marked me out as different. I don’t wish to be assimilated into the status quo. I want to be liberated from all negative assumptions that my characteristics bring. The onus is not on me to change. Instead, it’s the world around me.”

Next up is Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Based on a popular blog post of the same name, journalist Eddo-Lodge examines a culture of racism in Britain. She lays out the facts of a nation built on the backs of slavery and colonisation, and how recent this history really is. Even in the 80s and 90s, Eddo-Lodge explains, police hounded, attacked, shot and even murdered innocent black youths, while their brutal regime went unchallenged.

The author’s scope, from such brutality to modern day white feminism, the relationship between race and class, interracial adoption and what she calls “Fear of a Black Planet” (white nationalism), is impressive, yet the tone remains accessible. I would absolutely recommend it, particularly for those in Britain who are unacquainted with their nation’s history of white supremacy. And good news – I had to get my copy back to the library quickly because it’s been so popular, it has a huge wait list!

And my latest read, completed during a week away (!), was Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble. It was a bit heavy for a holiday book – the tone was academic, and I found myself having to use all of my brainpower to bring myself back to uni 9 years ago when I could read academic papers.

It was well worth the effort. Noble argues that although we presume the internet to be a free exchange of ideas, a neutral public space, it is in fact composed of private domains which exist to serve their advertisers and reflect the structural inequities of US society.

How often do we suggest to “just Google it”, assuming the top results are based on fact or popularity? Instead, they are based largely on advertiser’s interests and SEO, with the internal biases of those who program the algorithms being a primary driver behind the front page.

Noble begins with the case study of the Google search “Black girls”, which until recently had a front page full of pornographic results. She explains the complexities that dictate what we actually see online, including the white-dominated tech industry which systemically excludes marginalised groups.

To me, Noble’s premise is both eye opening and terrifying. Of course white supremacy is not limited to the offline world, but I hadn’t really considered how much Google searches are gamed in favour of maintaining the status quo. Her suggestion to bring back librarians, teachers and researchers to the process of sorting results is an intriguing one. It’s not so much that we have lost these keepers of information, but that their role has been palmed off to the open market, to the top bidder.

A fantastic read and I strongly recommend it (as I do all these books), though it might be a bit hard going if you have cognitive difficulties which affect your concentration/reading/comprehending information due to its scholarly tone and density.

You can read an excerpt of Algorithms of Oppression in Time: Google Has a Striking History of Bias Against Black Girls. More reading in How Search Engines Amplify Hate — in Parkland and Beyond.

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A few months ago, my friend Lauren from Instagram offered to send me some fabric from a dedicated craft op shop. Well, fabric and op shops are my dream combination, so I couldn’t say no! Lauren was very good at picking fabrics according to my preferences (natural fibres, brown earthy tones) and I’m grateful to her for her generosity.

This is the first of many creations with her gift – Burda Tie Front Blouse (10/2010 #118B). Believe it or not, this was one of the first patterns I ever made. Being a rookie sewist, I made the error of choosing a stiff, thick old sheet, which made the finished product look more like a priest’s vestments than a fashionable top.

This time round, I chose more wisely (or Lauren did!) in using this beautiful cotton swiss voile. The retro brown tones fit the pattern perfectly, and my sewing techniques have certainly improved since then!

I used French seams for the construction, due to the fray-prone fabric. The bow is attached a bit haphazardly – you bias face the neckline, then just topstitch the bow on top* – but I figure no one’s going to look at the inside.

I wasn’t sure whether to attach the tie all the way to the edge of the neck slit or not. The pattern suggests sewing “shoulder to shoulder”, but when pinning the bow in place I found it sat better when holding the whole neck together. The neck slit edges flopped around sadly otherwise.

And yes, as other reviewers have suggested, the slit is perilously low. I’m just grateful the bow covers the whole thing.

Regarding alterations to the pattern itself, I took some height off the sleeve cap. Burda (and other) patterns often have far too much ease for the armscye, causing difficulty easing in and an almost-puff sleeve look.

I usually measure the seamlines of both armscye and sleeve (not cut lines!), and remove some height and/or width from the sleeve cap if ease exceeds 12mm or so. It’s an easy fix, especially compared to trying to ease in a too-big sleeve cap later on.

I am absolutely thrilled with how this top turned out. It’s easy to wear, with lots of room for movement (not a common occurrence with my broad back/shoulder fit issues!), and can be worn casually or dressed up. The fabric is lightweight but not totally sheer. And best of all, it’s just so me.

Like with many Burda patterns, the most fun thing about it is the bizarre photo. Maybe I should make a pair of velvet overalls (pants and suspenders?) to complete my “whittling on a pile of wood” look.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the versions of this pattern which inspired me to give it another go, confident I wouldn’t look like I was about to give communion this time round – Naomi, Amanda & Meg.

I should’ve taken this photo further back to show off just how long these ties are. Some close ups of the guts. Sorry for the blurry photos, my hands were very shaky that day. You can (kinda) see how the tie finish is messy on the inside but neat enough on the outside. The slit is simply faced with a rectangular piece of fabric, the edges of which are turned under and topstitched. French seams! And I always set in the sleeve before sewing the side seam.

The details:
Pattern: Burda Tie Front Blouse 10/2010 #118B
Pattern details: “Tie-front blouse sewing pattern, available for download. Available in various sizes.” Available in Burda magazine, or as a digital PDF download, sizes 36-44.
Fabric: 2.8 x 110cm wide earthy lightweight fern print swiss voile, selvedge reads “Swiss voile opal photo printed”.
Other materials: Sheerweft interfacing, for slit facing.
Mods: Size 42 – 44 hips
– 1/2″ (12mm) forward head adjustment
– Added 3.5cm length to hem
– Removed approx. 6mm from neckline all around
– Removed 6mm height from sleeve cap, to reduce 1.5cm each side (3cm total) ease to something more manageable (1cm+ either side)

*I think. I know Burda downloadable patterns have a reputation for having vague instructions, but these are downright incomprehensible. I suspect a translation error, but at any rate their instructions have much improved since this pattern was published.

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Chronically Siobhan by Siobhan S - 2M ago

I’m no knitting mastermind, but I do feel I have a solid grasp of the craft, moreso than sewing. I’ve been knitting since I was 14 years old, and am confident that I can interpret most patterns in a way that suits me. So when I come across a knitting conundrum I’m always eager to learn more.

My latest knit is a cabled jumper. The cable chart and general idea are adapted from Calista Yoo’s Ashwood (Knitty Winter ’16), and I’ve worked out a pattern base to suit my preference for working top-down in the round in 8ply yarn* (the original pattern called for 12ply). Eventually, it should be a long sleeve, drop shoulder jumper with straight body and plain ribbed neckband.

Ashwood, from Knitty Winter ’16. Ashwood, from Knitty Winter ’16. I just can’t with how nice this pattern is. Look at that curved hem!

Right now, I’m working the bodice to the underarm (first back, then pick up front shoulders and work down), and the neckline is posing a challenge. When I cast on the neck then worked down, the neckline flared out from the cable pattern, creating a wobbly edge from which it would be impossible to knit a neat neckband.

Yarn is KnitPicks City Tweed DK.

The knitting brains trust on Instagram informed me this was due to cable splay. I’ve included some articles about it below, but essentially the fabric of a cabled knit draws in and out. The flared neckline is the fabric stretching out after a drawn-in cable twist.

I was offered two suggestions for a fix:

1. Calculate the number of neck cast on stitches in the cabled gauge, then stockinette gauge. Cast on the number required in stockinette, then rapidly increase to the number required in the cable gauge. For me, this would mean 36 cable sts – 23 stockinette sts = 13 sts difference by gauge.

2. A simpler alternative is to cast on 1 fewer stitch for every stitch crossed in a cable. Eg, if you have 2 of 2×2 cables, you cast on 4 fewer stitches. I have 3 of 3×3 cables, so would cast on 9 fewer stitches.

The neck cast-on section of the modified Ashwood cable chart. I left a few blank rows of knits/purls after the cast on row (directly above red line) as I feel cables right after a CO can be distorting in themselves. I would cast on fewer stitches then increase in the stockinette sections in the WS row following CO.

I think I might start with option 2., Just because it requires less drastic increases. I assume the increases need to be in the knit sections to become cable twists, so will increase 3 sets of 3 knit stitches to 3 sets of 6 knit stitches. If it doesn’t work out, I can always rip back and try option 1.

Have you had any experience with cable splay? Or any suggestions for my cable conundrum?

Further reading:

Cable Splay Demystified, from Impeccable Knits

Combating Knitted Cable Flare, from Interweave Knits

*I actually quite enjoy working with 12ply yarn, but 8ply was what I had on hand.

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It’s been a while since I did a personal health update, largely because I just don’t like thinking about it any more. I was reminded of this fact when I had an appointment with a social worker yesterday. She is an advocate who I employed to assist me with my NDIS application (though she has nothing to do with NDIS herself, nor does her agency in any way, and therefore has no say in their assessment of me).

It’s a brutal process, being sick. You see authority figure after authority figure and have to prove yourself to every one, again and again and again. Spill your story and retraumatise yourself in the process. You have to prove your life experiences.

The social worker understood the need to describe your worst day to NDIS (and every other agency who will determine whether you are worthy of services), and so do I. But it’s one thing to know this, and another to be questioned about every aspect of your daily life and reminded, that of course you can’t really do X by yourself.

Despite my best efforts, since June of last year, my walking capacity has deteriorated to about 10m, or the length of our front footpath. I have to take sitting breaks in between walking around the house. My showers and getting dressed need to be supervised, at least in some capacity. I cannot go out our back door, as the veranda has too many steps and thus our glorious backyard is inaccessible to me.

Further, my “usable hours” have diminished. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, when you are healthy/abled you generally can do whatever you like within the waking hours of your day (within reason). It’s not like, from 3-9pm you have to be resting in a dark room without stimulus.

When you are chronically ill, you only have a certain number of hours during the day to accomplish what you can. Note that this does not mean you can do whatever a healthy person can – it might be sitting up and eating, answering the door, talking on the phone or talking at all, typing on a computer or rolling over in bed.

My usable hours are about 11-3pm, and closing rapidly. I feel as though I’m losing my days, and what I can accomplish during that time is forever being reduced. I might be able to sew, some days, but usually it just means I can sit upright on the couch and have a cup of tea, maybe have a friend over, go on the computer or for a rare outing if I’m lucky. The rest of the time is taken up with rest* or the laborious process of getting ready for the day or bed.

It might seem from the projects I share that I spend most of my time knitting and sewing, but really sitting up at a sewing machine is a herculean task for me these days. I can get a garment out in short bursts but what I share here is likely what I have completed months ago, then took time to write up and photograph, then carefully portioned out in this space.

I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but having this decline and my obvious lack of capability pointed out to me in such clinical terms is, as you can imagine, not a particularly enjoyable activity. It’s going to be worse when I have to prove it to the NDIS themselves.

So, getting back to the NDIS. It’s been about 18 months since my initial application, and I still have no answer to my review (of their initial rejection). This social worker stated she would try to find out either way, and believes a tribunal hearing is the best way forward, which of course would be the worst way forward for my precarious mental health.

I’m so affected by having to do everything myself, and the lack of social support, that I have no choice but to pursue my application. But like most offers of support, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Oh, and it’s not like I’ve sat here twiddling my thumbs the whole time (which everyone LOVES to accuse chronically ill folk of). I’ve got a lot to report about various appointments, interventions and bizarre attempts to address my health problems. But this is too long already – I’ll report back another time!

*My version of rest, that is. What I consider activity is what you’d likely consider a rest break.

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Early this year, a conversation around racism in the knitting, crochet and spinning community unfolded on Instagram, as well as other platforms. I encourage you to read a summary of the events and the discussion since on this Vox article, The knitting community is reckoning with racism.

As white crafters, we are all culpable for the racism in our community. The reason I am writing this piece (besides some gentle encouragement from @sophiatron) is that white supremacy is a problem created by white folx. We have a responsibility to address it.

This means passing the mic to BIPoC folx, and I feel I’ve already spoken too long on this myself. I don’t want to speak up and over those crafters who are sharing their stories (and will direct you to accounts to follow and reading material below). But as a white woman, I do have an obligation to not only work on my own internal beliefs and behaviours but also call out and encourage other white folx in this work. Hence some suggested actions:

  • Read the Vox article, “The knitting community is reckoning with racism” by Jaya Saxena.
  • Educate yourself. I’ve compiled some accounts and resources below – please do not immediately message any of these accounts, demanding answers (yes, this happens). Respect their spaces. Start reading and examining your own internal biases and beliefs.
  • Challenge other white people. We hold power and it’s up to us to speak up to our friends, family, businesses and fellow crafters. Hold yourself, and others to account.
  • It is especially important to hold businesses to account. Sophia of @sophiatron has a story highlight of Australian yarn shops etc who have explicitly supported her and fellow BIPoC crafters. At time of writing, there were no physical yarn shops on this list. Ask your LYS, what are you doing to ensure BIPoC customers feel welcome?
  • Do not use this as an excuse to challenge BIPoC for not being “woke” enough. If you are unsure whether to comment, ask yourself this question from @ajabarber, “power. who has it? who needs to relinquish it?”
  • Diversify your feed. Instagram acts on algorithms that reinforces the similar. Check out Heidi of @booksandcables story highlights of “POCFibreFolx” and Sukrita of @su.krita “Desi Knitters” for some inspirational talent.
  • Make your online space a safe one. What does this mean? Explicitly condemn racism in all forms. Provide a space for BIPoC folx to be able to comment, engage and feel welcome. This might mean monitoring comments, closing them when you are away and ensuring violent discussion is deleted immediately.
  • If your space is a shop, your explicit anti-racism is even more important. Hire BIPoC. Use BIPoC models. Stock yarn and patterns by BIPoC crafters. Ensure BIPoC customers feel welcome. If you don’t know where to start, hire and pay fairly a BIPoC consultant.
  • Which brings me to my next point: pay BIPoC for their work. Most of those working hard on Instagram and other platforms have a PayPal or Ko-Fi account whereby you can contribute to their work. @ysolda has a “Support poc” story highlight on Instagram with direct links to these accounts.
  • Buy from BIPoC – in fact there is an Instagram account @buyfrombipoc to help you find some amazing BIPoC makers!
  • Some yarn dyers/stockists have offered yarn support to BIPoC designers. Tech editors have reserved places. What can you offer?

Some accounts to follow and articles to read (again, please respect these spaces):

Book list (I haven’t read all of these, and it’s really just a starting point):

*Black and Indigenous, People of Colour.

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It might seem boring to some, but I really enjoy reading about people’s basic creations. I find it interesting to see what people wear everyday, as opposed to special garments which might only be worn once (which are of course, interesting in a different way!). With that said, today I’m sharing my second pair of black pants this year.

The pattern is Burda Tie Up Pants 05/2013 #117A, made in a cotton/linen from Spotlight. I wanted some black linen pants this summer, and had the fabric stashed away from some time last year, waiting for the right pattern. I had actually printed out this pattern years ago, waiting for the right fabric, and when I saw someone on Instagram make it up in a nice linen I knew it was the perfect match.

I trusted the drafting of Burda enough to not muslin it, and my faith largely paid off. The pants had a much nicer fit than anticipated – I almost expected a PJ-pants fit, but they are slim enough through the hip with a slightly tapered leg that makes them perfect for casual day wear.

The pattern is mostly made up as drafted, though I omitted the tie as the fabric was a bit too stiff for it to work effectively, and substituted a practical elastic waist. This was probably a good thing, as I seriously struggled cutting this out due to lack of fabric. Squeezing the pieces out was a challenge, and I only managed it (after an hour or so of puzzling) due to trimming all seam allowances down to 1cm!

I even managed to keep the full height of the waist, which is folded under to form a casing. Of course, when sewing, I undid all my good work by trimming that waist down far too much. I had tried them on briefly and assumed the waist was too high, which it was, by about 1cm and not the near-4cm I lopped off. I gained back height by inserting smaller elastic, but they’re still a bit low-rise for my taste.

As for the fabric….well, it’s about as good as you’d expect from Spotlight. When I went to choose, they had this fabric, a cotton/linen, and another, very similar, linen/cotton (I was confused too). They both seemed to have approximately the same percentage of each fibre, and differed perhaps slightly in thickness and hand. I chose the lighter-weight fabric, but perhaps I erred – it’s not totally opaque, and is a bit scratchy to wear. It softened up some in the wash, and it’s not a terrible fabric, but it’s not great either.

I forgot to get evidence of pocketses once I moved under the trees…so here they are. The pattern calls for you to edgestitch the entire pocket opening, so the stitching attaching the pocket to the pants in the waistband area isn’t obvious. Like a dingus, I ignored this instruction and only have stitching in the waistband area.

All in all, these are a solid pair of pants that have already had a lot of wear over summer. They are comfy and cool for summer, with a neat fit. The thin fabric makes me suspicious of how long they will last, but I’ll be wearing them until they split! I’d recommend this pattern for anyone wanting an easy to sew and wear pant (but maybe skip the Spotlight fabric).

The details:
Pattern: Burda Tie Up Pants 05/2013 #117
Pattern details: “These loose pants are comfy and easy to slip on when running out into the nice weather. They can be shaped at the waist by an encased tie band.” Available in Burda magazine, or as a digital PDF download, sizes 34-44.
Fabric: 2m x 112cm wide cotton/linen, black, from Spotlight. 55% cotton, 45% linen.
Other materials: 38mm Birch knitted elastic.
Mods: Size 42
– Omitted waist ties, added elastic waistband (25mm wide with 3cm casing)
– Removed 2.5cm height total in the waist by cutting off/using a narrower elastic casing (this was a bad idea!)
– Forgot to edgestitch entire pocket opening as directed, just stitched pocket to pants in waistband section

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