Friday, 1 October 2010

Busy Fingers

The last few months have been pretty horrific in one way or another, but even during my darkest periods I have tried to keep myself busy. In my last post I included a photograph of the socks that I was entering in the design competition and I appreciate all the lovely comments that you sent about them. The competition was supposed to have been judged at the knitting exhibition weekend, but due to various problems the judging didn't take place. However, I am assured that the competition entries will be judged in the next few days and hopefully I will soon find out whether I have won a prize or not.

I have mentioned before that I learnt how to do Sudoku puzzles while I was in hospital last year and I have spent some of my time working my way through two books of these puzzles (one with 350 individual puzzles and the other 500). I still have problems completing them all because of the way that my brain seems to turn to mush when I am faced with numbers but I must be getting better at working them out because I can now complete almost all the easy ones at the first attempt, the medium ones are completed more often than not, and I have even managed to complete the occasional hard puzzles, something that would have been impossible this time last year.

But doing these puzzles requires a fair level of concentration, and as other sufferers will know, when you really severely depressed, a long period of concentration is something very difficult to manage. However, knitting tends to take care of this for me. I have several projects on the go at any one time, so there might be a couple of lace projects (one large, one small, and requiring differing levels of concentration), and a couple of other small projects such as socks or hats (things that require little concentration above keeping a check on the number of rows that have been completed).

This being the case, I have succeeded in completing a number of projects over the last couple of months and I thought that you might like to see some of the things that I have made.
This shawl was completed over a weekend; I think that it was the novelty of knitting with not only much thicker yarn and needles than I have been using in recent months but also it was such an easy pattern to follow. The yarn itself is Manos del Uruguay's Silk Blend (a blend of merino wool and silk) and not only are the colourways in this yarn fabulous, it is also a very economical yarn to knit with, especially when one considers that it is produced by small cooperatives in

This photograph shows the three parts that the shawl is knitted in. At the top is the triangle that forms the basis of the shawl, then a border is worked on two sides of the triangle and the shawl is finished with a lace edging which is knitted sideways and joined to the shawl on alternate rows. It sounds very complicated and when I first started tackling lace knitting I didn't think that I would be able to follow the instructions even though I had years of knitting experience but now I think nothing of it and just get the needles out and get on with it.

This shawl has been knitted in 100% silk and is as light as a feather. Well perhaps not quite as light as a feather, but it seems to weigh nothing at all having taken approximately 900 metres of yarn to complete and it weighs in just a few grams short of 100 grams. This is the first triangular shawl that I have knitted that has not been started from either the top or the bottom. Instead it is worked from one side, increasing as you work towards the middle and then the stitch count decreasing back to nothing as you get to the other side. The resultant shawl has very long points at the sides which make it a very delicate shawl to throw across one's shoulders.
I have also knitted a lace scarf in this same yarn, but haven't as yet taken a photograph of it.

I think that I mentioned that I received some special yarn as a birthday present from a couple of my friends at the knitting group. I knew as soon as I saw it what I would make with it and the photograph below shows two of the three items that will form part of my winter wardrobe.

A matching scarf is on the needles at the moment and will probably be completed when I am trying to knit and watch television at the same time. The yarn is from one of my favourite American dyers, Cheryl Potter at Cherry Tree Hill, and is really a sock yarn, but it is far too beautiful to use for socks that will be hidden inside shoes so using it for winter warmers seemed the perfect solution.

My needles are full of work as usual although even for me I have rather a lot of projects on the go. I am almost halfway to completing a poncho which is being created by adapting a shawl pattern (I'm nothing if not adventurous when it comes to what I try), I have started a waistcoat using a new knitting technique (it's knitted in one piece and uses special casting off techniques to ensure that there is no sewing up at the end of the knitting process and as you know I really hate sewing things together after I have knitted them), then there is the scarf to match my hat and mittens, a lace scarf that it going to be a Christmas present for a friend, a pair of fingerless mittens which will also be a Christmas present, a really fantastic shawl in the most incredible chocolate brown silk, and a beautiful kingfisher blue stole which has required me to try two new techniques for the first time. On top of all that, I am really dying to have a go at starting a shawl which will probably take me best part of a year to complete and which is to be knitted in yarn that it is barely thicker than the cotton you use to sew a button on a shirt.

There is also a definite possibility that I may be doing some teaching of both knitting and crocheting in the coming months too. And I have been asked to become a 'service user' representative (how I hate that term) at various meetings between the local council and the companies that provide hostels and supported housing for people with mental health problems. Many of the users of these services are impaired mentally through the use of alcohol and/or drugs, and it seems that I am considered 'normal' and not 'routinely negative' about the services that are provided. I'm beginning to wonder how I am going to fit it all in.


Anonymous said...

You are really talented, Madsadgirl! Really, your creations are spectacular.

And I can totally relate to the not having concentration.

Sudoku was my staple when I was in the hospital too.

Wishing you well,

steph said...

Wow! MSG

Mighty impressive knitting and you sound good too.

Great to hear from you.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you while yours are so busy :)

Painpoppy said...

I wonder too :)

Your busyness puts me to shame and you are so creative.

It is good news that you may be in a position to improve sevices for supported housing users.Do hold on to some reserves of energy tho and take care of you :)

Glad to see you post :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you have kept busy making beautiful things.

I love the blog redesign too!

Anonymous said...

Sudoku! Our Maths tutor taught us how to do Sudoku at college last year, it took me a little while to grasp the concept since numbers and Maths have never been my strong point, but gradually I got the idea and now I carry a Sudoku puzzle book around in my bag often for when I am on a train or a longer bus journey!

I love the knitted items, the shawl is especially very beautiful! The idea of becoming a service user representative sound like fun and something worthwhile to get involve in. I particularly enjoy my little voluntary job at the hospital; it gets me out of the house and is valuable experience I hope for my *new* application to university next year!