Catching up and keeping up

You may have noticed a drop-off in blog posting round here recently….  Well, I’ve not been too well.  Nothing serious or life threatening, just notably sub-par.  I don’t talk about it much here, but I have ME (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS/ME).  It waxes; it wanes, and generally I think I’m doing pretty well.

At the beginning of this month, though, I had my first occupational therapist appointment at a specialist CFS/ME clinic.  It was eye opening.  I’m on three scheduled rests per day (and you would be amazed at the things that do not count as resting.  Not Ravelry, not knitting, not television, not reading, not audiobooks!), and I’m slowly realising that things that have just faded into the background – things I have considered ‘normal’ for years – are actually symptoms.  Anyway, I don’t intend to blog about this here, (if you are interested, I have started a new blog* to chronicle my journey back to normal functioning), but suffice it to say that I have not been keeping up with the online world.  Shop listings, blog posting, Ravelry, blog reading and commenting – all have fallen by the wayside.  And it’s November!  When a whole bunch of you nutters join in with NaNoBloPoMo, and try to post daily!!  Talk about bad timing.  My RSS reader currently shows over 350 unread posts.

Anyway, I’ve decided that there is no point in trying to catch up with everything whilst the whole world rattles onwards without me.  So I will be working my way through the backlogs, whilst simultaneously attempting to keep up with stuff coming in from now onwards.

In related news, I realised that Saturday came and went without me saying anything more about the current Saturday Giveaway competition.  Oh, dear.  That is very much ‘my bad’.  Well, I’ve decided that I will extend the competition until *this* Saturday, so get on over there, read about the Farm Animal Sanctuary, and see if you can help them out.  Remember- you don’t actually need to spend anything to enter the competition: Spreading the word on Twitter, or Facebook, or your blog counts, too!  (but don’t forget to come back here and let me know, so I can enter you in the draw!)

Well, enough rambling – I will be back soon (I sincerely hope!) to update you on my recent adventures.

A different Saturday Giveaway: Help the Farm Animal Sanctuary!

Entries for this competition will be open until midnight on Friday, December 2.  I will announce the winners on Saturday!

(yes, it’s Thursday).

Do you know the Farm Animal Sanctuary? (If you were at Fibre East this year, you would have had opportunities to buy their fleeces!)  They are a rescue organisation, committed to helping abused, neglected and abandoned farm animals.  they have horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs – and of course sheep – the list goes on!

And they are facing the threat of eviction from the farm that was bought for their use, 14 years ago.  Many of the animals at the sanctuary have already dodged death from disease or neglect at least once.  They are in desperate need of funds to help them fight the eviction order, on top of their ongoing feed and veterinary bills.  So, what can you do to help?

  • Donate.
  • Sponsor an animal or two (how about sponsoring an animal as a Christmas present?)
  • Spread the word on Twitter or Facebook (that’s their page), or your own blog.
  • Buy a calendar from them (scroll down for the announcement).

Do any (or all!) of these things, and you’ll be in the draw for this Saturday’s Giveaway, in which three lucky winners will get a £10 voucher for my Etsy shop.  Each ‘action’ above counts for one entry in the draw, so if you donate, buy a calendar and tweet about this, you will have three chances to win.  So please, go forth, do some good, then come back and comment here, to let me know what you’ve done so I can enter you in the draw.

Thanks!

Today’s Saturday Giveaway winner is…

Bethan!  Congratulations, Bethan!  and thanks to everyone else for such an awesome turnout: 107 entries made it in by the deadline this week!

Bethan says she’s a newbie knitter, and this will help her get started knitting more complex things – and it will!  (And you are on Ravelry, aren’t you?  I can’t think of a better resource for a new knitter!)

What’s more, they’ll knit up pretty quickly on those larger needles, so she’ll be wonderfully cozy by the time the *real* winter weather hits our shores.

Bethan, I’ll be in touch with you via email so you can send me your postal address.

What I’m doing with my Samhain yarn (and fibre!)

Of course I kept some for myself!  Did you think that I wouldn’t?  This is the first installation of my first ever yarn club, you know!

Admittedly, the sock and lace yarn I kept are from the prototyping phases – and I havent’ done anything with the lace yarn yet – but I had to keep *some* souvenirs.  The colour prototype, by the way, had a much more abrupt change from orange to black, generally less saturation through the oranges, and was – ahem – technically less together than the finished club yarnz.

I had hoped to have the pattern for these socks (or at least, the finished socks) ready to display on Hallowe’en itself – but no luck.  I finished the whole first sock, then decided that, really, it was too tight.  Yes, I could wear it – but it wasn’t how I wanted it to be.  So I started the second sock (without ripping back the first, I hasten to add; just in case I changed my mind!), and started work on the second.

When I finished the second, I realised I’d done a really stupid thing when setting up the stitch pattern for the foot: the whole thing spiralled gently, biasing it’s way around the sock.  Wearable, again – but still not what I wanted.  So I pulled it out, back to the end of the heel turn, and set at it again.  I think I had the first sock finished for November 1 – and I’ve been plodding my way through the second ever since.  I’m on the foot now – and without any silly mistakes, thank you – so it shouldn’t be too much longer till I’m done!

The fibre was easier.  I wanted to maintain the colour progression, so I spun it all into one long, graded single, and then chain plied it for a fat, round, 3-ply yarn. (Chain plying, by the way, is also called Navajo plying, but certain people think ‘chain’ is more correct, so that’s what I’m trying to train myself to say.)  But wow!  It’s a long time since I’ve chain plied anything, and I’m a much better spinner now, with much higher standards.  I had never realised before how hard it is to keep all the strands under even tension whilst you add the plying twist – and if you don’t do that, you don’t end up with such a regular yarn.  More on that another day, perhaps, but suffice it to say that what I was expecting to be a quick-and-easy ply has taken me a lot longer than I expected, and has needed a lot of concentration, too!

I overplied the yarn relative to its intial spinning twist, so it was quick active (read: twisty – you can see it coiling up on itself!) when it went in for its bath this morning.  But a couple of changes of hot and cold water, a good squeeze and a snap between the hands have it hanging meek and straight in the shower, drying.  I think a hat is in its future.

Saturday Giveaway: The Rowan Plaid Collection

Entries are now closed for this week’s draw! Come back tonight to find out the lucky winner… xxx

This was one of the very first sets of Rowan patterns that I bought, and I was *so* in love with it.  I still think that there are a lot of really wonderful patterns in it – but I’m facing the fact that I’m never actually going to knit any of them.  Now, you can love the booklet, too!

Perfect for this time of year, the Rowan Plaid Collection is full of wonderful, cozy sweaters and accessories for men and women.  The yarn that this pattern booklet was designed for – Plaid – is now discontinued, but there is plenty available on Ravelry, and you could substitute just about any lofty, warm yarn that knits up on 8mm needles for these classic designs.

If you’d like to win this book, simply comment on this blog post by noon on Monday (UK time).  I will select the winner by random draw, and announce on Monday or Tuesday.  This draw is open to anyone, anywhere in the world, so don’t be shy!

A few of my favourite designs from this collection (just in case you need a bit more encouragement):

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