FO: My Kind of Summer Shawl

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Bandana Cowl Point

Do you remember that I said that I had knit up a new shawl over the summer?  I just haven’t got around to showing you the photographs and telling you about it, it’s the story of my blogging life.  I have plenty of ideas (especially in the middle of the night!) but life just gets in the way of my developing them.  Life, health and technology.  This year has also been a nightmare when it comes to technology, toothaches and gremlins galore.

Last summer I knit up my heavily adapted Solstice Scarf by Jacqui Harding in a very thick, warm and heavy bouclé yarn which I then proceeded to wear on the warmest day of the year.  Naturally.

Although I did eventually appreciate my new scarf during the winter, you would have thought that there were lessons to be learnt.  Aren’t there always?

But you see, I have a somewhat sceptical approach to summer and every year me and my friends have a day out planned which seems to only attract the worst of weather.  Being hardy, determined folk, we haven’t given up yet.  And me being me, it’s never quite as bad as I forecast.  I forecast snow every time so I’m rarely disappointed by rain or wind or fog!

Therefore there was a kind of logic to me planning and knitting a winter-weight shawl for the middle of summer.  Perhaps a slightly me, slightly pessimistic logic but a logic nonetheless.

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for ages but then I couldn’t find it when I actually wanted to knit it up.  I think I was rushing.  Me and some knitty friends had a yarn swap and I acquired some beautiful yarn that was just calling to be my new cowl.  (It’s a funny word, isn’t it?)  So I cast on as soon as I got home, scrabbling around the internet for a pattern.  (I ended up using a free one from the Lion brand website).

It knit up quickly, which is perfect for my attention span.  (If I check on Ravelry, in just a couple of days which has got to be a record for me!  And was it really that long ago?!)  And pretty soon I was test-wearing my new cowl.

And then shelving it because it was far, far too warm to wear!

But I took it with me and when the mercury dropped, I was highly grateful for it.  There’s something about sitting outdoors that makes you mercilessly prey to bad weather, isn’t there?  I also discovered that I can pull it right up to my eyes, pull my hat right down to my ears and then fall asleep in private!  (Well, I was sussed by those who know me too well).  I am a human snowball of woollens but when the weather is thus, I am only too grateful!  Now to make some more hand-knit socks …

Bandana Cowl

(PS.  The colours are gorgeous, it’s just one of those colourways that doesn’t photograph easily!)

(PPS.  I probably do need to iron shirts before I use them in photos!)

(PPPS.  Didn’t you love adding PSs to letters when you were little too?)

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Freak Weather

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Blue Sky

As you can see from the above picture, there is clearly something ‘wrong’ going on at the moment.

It’s Been a Bad, Bad, Bad Day

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Where do I start?

This morning?

When I got up at ten to eight so I could be ready by half past nine only to discover that it was now, for reasons that I really can never fathom, actually TEN to NINE?

I don’t do mornings at the best of times.

I am very slow in the mornings.

To find that, for reasons that I can never really fathom, I now only had a mere half an hour to eat breakfast, shower, do my hair, get dressed and get ready was a little bit too much to ask.

And definitely a lot more than I can cope with.

I should have given up then and crawled back into bed.

And yes, feeding me is a priority.  Without food, I cannot do anything.  In fact, I normally wake up at half past eight, have my breakfast then go back to sleep.  Without food, I don’t even have the energy to sleep!

But, somehow, unbelievably, I managed to do it.

I was frazzled.

And had to exit the house unpainted.

I don’t like going out of the house without my slap.

It doesn’t feel safe.

It’s definitely not kind to or fair on other people.

I was frazzled.

And then a half a dozen other minor things just didn’t go well.

You know, the sort of piddling trifles that really aren’t hugely important most of the time but when you’ve already had such a rotten start, they really don’t HELP.

I had to leave early, a proactive choice because I really didn’t have the energy to deal with a panic attack.

And by that point slowly crawling home on foot up a very nasty steep hill was actually preferential to staying put.

I came home.

I knew that I had a cake to make for this afternoon.

A basic, simple, straightforward cake.

(The previous one wasn’t, at all, and I will be telling you all about that another time but that cake does not belong on Bad Days, it was a surprising triumph (relatively)).

I made one exactly the same earlier in the week but plain not chocolate.

It took 45 min in the oven.

I started with just over three hours to go before I had to go out, me and the cake.

The cake, naturally, because this was already a very Bad Day, did not cook.

How can a cake choose not to cook?

I had to leave without my cake.

I was feeling so miserable by this point that I left the house in my slippers.

There was no way that I could face boots and bootlaces only to take them off five minutes later at my friends’ house.

I remembered my knitting bag.

And my mobile.

And the DVDs that I’ve been promising to lend for the last month.

But forgot my ‘handbag‘.

My handbag is also a security thing.  I feel safe with my handbag.

I didn’t feel safe without it.

It was the kind of day where having my handbag with me would make all the difference.

Well, probably not, but I’d at least feel slightly better equipped to face the Bad Day.

(Maybe I should start sleeping with my handbag as some sort of Bad Day prevention device?  Hmm).

(Come to think of it, I didn’t sleep well either).

It wasn’t too bad though.

There was a delectable cream sponge and profit-roles.

I like profit-roles.

Then I got the news that my external hard drive is irredeemably fudged.

I have lost my entire life.

Because, of course, my entire life is stored in data on a 500 gb hard drive.

Well, a lot of it was.

I think the Baby Photos were on it.

And all my downloaded knitting patterns.

And all of this year’s photos.

(Husband made a really cool shark biscuit the other day).

And all of the recipes that I’ve spent years writing up.

And probably a whole more ton of stuff that I have yet to desperately need and therefore miss.

I’m not bawling, not just yet.

But the Voice is trying to come back.

It’s just that I don’t like losing things.

And probably I do ‘hoard’ things, ‘useful’ things.

The kind of ‘useful’ things that probably mean that my life will go on, somehow, without them.

And husband says hoarding things ‘virtually’ is just as bad a vice.

But I just get so attached to things.

And I remember them all, just like old friends.

Each pattern or recipe or photo.

They mean something to me.

There is security in saving things, in having everything that might ever be needed.

And my blanky died.

Blankies are meant to last forever.

And I certainly wasn’t big enough to be ready to let go either.

So as I have no photos, I’ll leave you with a song.

A song that kind of describes today.

(Some of the lyrics might not be kosher, however).

Oh, and this evening I just found out that a dear old friend has passed away.

It’s been a Bad, Bad, Bad Day.

Can I go to bed now?

 

(So, of course, this link won’t work either).

It SNOWED

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This is what early Sunday morning looked like:

Unexpected Snow

Can I remind the weather that it is actually mid-March and we’re rather expecting spring anytime now?

Back on go the thermals, which is slightly inconvenient because my legs have decided that they’re now ‘allergic’ to them.

How Soon the Summer Flies

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There is one thing that I really detest, it utterly does my swede.  Inaccuracy.  In this modern age of science, there’s been plenty of research done into the faults or weaknesses of eyewitness testimony and I suppose that is the reason that one of the oldest law codes insists upon at least two or three witnesses to a case.  You can correlate the points of similarity, or even better, the identical ones, and build a full picture.  It’s an interesting issue though even in everyday life.  Do you trust the word of your fellow man, whether it’s a friend recounting a funny story or a sibling dobbing in another for messing with the celebration cake?  And if you don’t, where are you left?

I grew up in a family of four neatly divided down the middle by those who remember and those who don’t.  Two of us had a tendency to photographic memory and could easily establish a timeline for whatever event you cared to have recalled.  I won’t boast nor admit where I stood in this division but I have had at times earnt the moniker of a well known brand of diary/organiser and worked my way through exam papers by ‘reading’ pages of textbooks by memory.  (Sadly my memory is being destroyed by that beast ME and I’ve currently been left with a black hole for most of the first part of this year).

I take good memory as given, for granted.  I was therefore surprised when a friend and I had an interesting encounter with a stranger on the street and five minutes later, when she was regaling some other friends we met up with the tale, she told quite a different version to my own, details such as age etc were vague and inaccurate and they couldn’t even paraphrase the conversation.  I was very surprised.

One of the areas that I meet the greatest inaccuracy in is weather.  Now, admittedly, weather is something of a personal taste, even of an opinion and what is hot in one region is another region’s cold but why can’t people accept the basic facts?  I see it most in the summertime.  People write off summers very easily, too cold, to wet and quickly it becomes that we have had no summer at all.

This frustrates me.  Even in a summer of fierce storms we have had some stonkingly hot days, some more pleasant than others when the humidity soared to a greater percentage than if it had rained.  Some days have been bogged down by grey skies but it still was warm.  So why do people insist that it’s cold?  We went out for a day at the beginning of the summer, we were sitting outside unfortunately in a vicious gale force.  There was definitely wind chill.  You will always feel some chill when outside in such a storm with no shelter.  That’s a fact.  However, it wasn’t raining (surprisingly because despite my calls for accuracy, I am not the hugest supporter of an optimistic summer forecast) and of the few showers we had, there was definitely hosepipe rain for at least one.  (I will discuss this highly scientific term another day).  From my own experience, hosepipe rain only occurs in temperatures of fifteen degrees plus, probably at least sixteen or seventeen actually.  That’s not cold.  Not by summer standards in this country.  So why did people persist in calling the day ‘freezing’?  (Again, as something of a pedant, I would define ‘freezing’ as zero or below).  It wasn’t bad.  We’ve all known a lot worse.  All I ask is that people stick to such expressions as ‘I feel cold/freezing’ or ‘it feels cold/freezing (to me)’.

I don’t trust people’s opinion of temperature.  I know this from personal experience.  We went on holiday once, overseas, but for reasons that I’m not entirely sure of, we had a thermometer with us.  It proved very revealing.  The first week was hot, pretty hot.  The second week was ‘freezing’.   Really?  Well, the thermometer told a different story.  The second week was in the mid seventies, the right temperature, or even a little higher, for late spring where we were staying.  So what was the issue?  Well, that first week had been a record heatwave with temperatures in the mid eighties and we therefore experienced a ten degree temperature drop.  On average in this country, ten degrees is the difference between summer and winter.  A ten degree drop will feel considerably colder, however high that second temperature actually is.  Ask any camper.

I have to say though that September has felt decidedly chilly this year.  We have a tendency to ‘Indian Summers’ but this time it feels more like November.  A damp chill to the air most morning and evenings which sometimes lingers most of the day too.  Not at all pleasant.  It is grey and we’ve had some pretty heavy rain and my thoughts turn winter-wards as I regretfully have to put on a jumper and socks.

It isn’t quite winter yet, the indoor temperature is still holding eighteen or nineteen degrees and I’m quite sure that the damp and psychological factors are having the biggest part to play in my opinion of the weather.

I have watched the darkening evenings throughout August with a sense of foreboding, my mood dipping with the light levels as well as the lack of medication.  I need light, I like warmth.  I don’t like winter, I dread it’s coming.  For some people, the autumn is a season of promise and new beginnings, they relish the change in clothes and diet, anticipate the garden’s harvest and delight in the seasonal colours.  I am not one of those people.  Autumn is just a red flag signalling impending doom.  Increased pain, increased layers, increased hassle.  No, I’m not a fan of winter.

Summer has seemed so short too this year.  I know that we’ve had good spells in the weather since at least May but I feel that I’ve missed a lot of it, stuck in bed or cooped up in the sitting room.  I’m just getting back on my feet in time for colds and lurgis, damp and wet, cold and icy.  It doesn’t seem fair somehow.

And it’s coming in hard and fast this year.  Ask my knees, they’re predicting a dire season this year.  I’ve asked my scout about the berries but it’s mainly too early whilst others have been lost entirely with the wet and wind of the summer’s storms so it’s hard to see what their forecast is.  But September hasn’t been pleasant, socks and slippers have already had to be found.

I find myself missing summer, wishing that I could turn back time and live this one over with a little more energy and a little more appreciation.

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My Heart in Spring

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Spring Light and Leaves

~ Trigger Alert ~

I’ve written about Spring before, mentioned it in other posts but I can’t help returning to the subject again.  Well it does come around at least once a year, after all, and this year we’re having several attempts at it, or so it seems.  Maybe it is my favourite season but I haven’t really thought of it like that, I don’t play favourites, however my moods do rise and fall with the weather, well to some extent as well as to their own particular vagaries too.  A little more sunshine, a little more warmth and the world feels like a better place.  Or at least a place that I can deal with or face up to better.

This is what Spring does to me and my heart.

Spring encourages a curious, and, in my case, an unusual, strain of optimism.  Spring can feel like new beginnings however much you’re dreading the rest of the year.  Spring brings hope whatever the circumstances.  Spring sends my spirits soaring.  Spring makes my heart beat a little faster.

That is what Spring does to me and my heart.

But there is another side to Spring.

Spring, like all the seasons, is a milestone, a marker in the year for various anniversaries.  There are things that I try to keep hidden from my conscious self, things that aren’t filed neatly in the filing cabinet of the mind ready for recall  (my mind’s not like that anyway, as you might have suspected) but tossed hurriedly from sight, pushed away on dusty shelves in an attempt to forget.  Thoughts and memories that I would rather remain unbidden.  As the temperatures rise and the sun shines strong again, these are the things that start to gnaw away at my mind and heart.  My heart beats a little quicker in Spring, not because of anticipation, but because of anxiety.  I am lost and hurt and afraid and broken all over again.  My heart  aches without really knowing why until unwillingly I do some mental arithmetic.  I make the effort to forget but it still surfaces, my hearts know the dates better than any diary.

This is what Spring does to me and my heart.

Weather Report

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I don’t know what month or season it is at the moment but I don’t like it, not after we had such a glorious spell over the last two weeks.  Two weeks in which I was incredibly tied up with things and couldn’t fully appreciate it.  I had just realised how stunning the neighbour’s flowering magnolia was against a crazy blue sky when the sky went overcast and the petals blew away.  It’s a sad truth that we never appreciate the good until it’s too late.  A wasted opportunity.  Perhaps.

The problem with this shift in seasons is what to wear.  I’d even manage to find my summer coat.  I’ve been in sandals.  There’s the problem.  Now I’ve worn my sandals the Law says that I can’t go back to boots, unless walking somewhere in torrential rain, until September at the earliest.  This is an unfair twist of weather.  I have cold feet, very cold, and I’m too stubborn to wear boots.  Or maybe a little lazy to go back to plasters and two pairs of socks.  Sigh.  I can’t win.  Serves me right for casting that clout though, perhaps that’s why I’m poorly.

The sore throat of the century has turned into a cough/cold combo which isn’t endearing me to my husband (apparently my cough is booming, you’d have thought that I was only coughing to annoy him) and that I’m just too Tired to deal with, besides which muscle fatigue adds a few other er, complications to coughing.  I’m wandering the house with a loo roll and a large bottle of hand gel and probably should add a large handbell, an ‘unclean’ bell and not one for summoning sympathy and aid, that isn’t forthcoming.  And at times with a liberal dose of self-pity.

But I have my knitting to soothe my soul and have reluctantly accepted the aphorism about best laid plans, some things will have to wait until I’m back on my feet, unfortunately others can’t or won’t.  It’s frustrating but I know that life rarely goes the way I expect.  Just one day at a time, I remind myself.

In the meantime, as I am chain eating my way through cough sweets, I also have to remind myself that both I and the dentist would prefer it if I left them in the middle of my mouth rather than tuck them down the side of my teeth where they’re much more comfortable as now, suspiciously, I have a large row of fillings in that very location.  It’s also possibly connected to my questionable habit of leaving a cough sweet in over night, well in either case I’m going to choke so what’s the worse that could happen?

Another sign of a Bad Cold is the fact that I can’t smell, other than the occasional whiff which takes me by surprise, the copious amounts of that very famous eucalyptus oil blend all over my pillow.  Not good.  Occasionally my eyes burn too, maybe I have actually got too much on the pillow.  I don’t like that other unctuous ointment that was lathered onto chests when we were little by overenthusiastic mothers, I don’t get the need to be embalmed in goopy stuff that stinks and mushes into nightwear and bedclothes so I stick to the oil.  Far more civilised.

Well, whinge over, I might go to bed or I might add another row to my current WIP.  It’s slowly growing but the hard bit is next.  I finished another project today which has had me tearing my hair out so I was glad to see that done.  Before I went bald.  Which is a distinct genetic possibility anyway.  I’ll catch up with posting those another day and yes, I do have more than one project on the needles at a time.  Doesn’t everyone?