Living with a jumbled mind

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We’re now almost into October and although it’s officially Autumn down here on the south coast it’s still warm enough to be walking around sandals, skirt and a summery vest top.

It’s 18 weeks to the day since my operation and I still have to pinch myself. Back in May I was looking at a very uncertain future with months of chemo ‘treatment’ rather than ‘cure’. Now thankfully I’m living in a wonderful new home just minutes from the sea and have just become a grand aunt for the 3rd time. (Welcome baby Imari, congratulations to my beautiful niece Danie & Ben).

That said I’m finding that living with a post-craniotomy brain is a perplexing and frustrating thing. The first few weeks of steroid induced euphoria meant I was desperate to capture thoughts that kept me awake in the early hours and doodling away to my heart’s content but recently it’s been more like living in the house  of a complete stranger. It’s feels like I’m not fully present in my own self so looking back on projects I was working on before the op is like looking at the work of someone else. Did I write that? Where did I put that? What is that? I spend much of the day saying one or all of these things and yes, I know, we all forget the odd thing from time to time but when it happens all day, every day it’s very, very tiring.

So I’ve had to adapt a very Zen-like approach to my jumbled mind in order to avoid the stress that leads to a headache. Instead of getting upset at ripping back for a second, third or fourth time I just drop the needles, back away from the knitting and try again the next day. Physically I’m doing very well although all the weeks spent stuffing my face with ‘treats’ (homemade ice cream, sweet & salty popcorn,  Pipers cheese & onion crisps) has led to a couple of extra pounds ( ok 1 stone) which I really need to shift but a full return to work is way off. At this time of year I’d normally be back at Kingston Uni helping to introduce the 1st year Fashion BA students to the delights of the knitting machine but instead of responding to cries of ‘its dropped off again!’ it looks like gentle beach walks to shift the lard and simple baby knits to ease the brain  into gear will have to be the order of the day.

I’m off down to the beach, now where did I put those keys?…..

 

A change of pace…..

To say that 2016 has been ‘eventful’ would have to be something of an understatement. As a ‘woman of a certain age’ who’d been suffering more frequently occurring and severe migraines I trotted off to the GP in a quest for answers. What I wasn’t expecting however was to find out in May that I’d been diagnosed with a couple of ‘unwelcome guests’ – not one, but two brain tumours (I never do things by halves) which thankfully have now proved to be benign. Having undergone surgery for a bilateral craniotomy  just 2 weeks ago I am having to take life at a much, much slower pace and seriously re-evaluate my work / life balance. So now I’m at the mercy of a newly operated-on brain which has more space to breathe but for which, just getting dressed is a challenge. I am also learning other valuable lessons; mainly that I have to learn to be patient. Previous bouts of illness have seen me bounce back pretty quickly but there is, of course an enforced change of pace when your brain has been messed about with.

Everything….takes….ages….

So whilst I thought I had long mastered the type of patience required for swatching, perfecting tension, writing patterns or sewing up it’s a totally different matter when your brain has been fighting for space inside your skull with a couple of cheeky, tumour shaped squatters.  Whilst I wake every morning feeling extremely happy about my diagnosis my default state is ‘wobbly’. In fact I’m walking a bit like Mrs Overall albeit without the two soups. I can dress myself and make a cup of tea but beyond that my day’s achievements are subject to just how knackered I’m feeling. I never thought I could sleep so much but sleep is exactly what I need to recover not only from the trauma of surgery but also holding a simple conversation that may be just 5 mins too long. So I’m learning that if I don’t manage  to do something today, it’s not important, I can always try again tomorrow.

So for however long this recovery process takes the posts here  could be about anything; from knit to crochet, art to design, interiors to food. I’ve also started another blog ‘life as a ziphead‘ which will recount my recovery and  find a focus for all the nonsense that’s been  waking me up at 4am.

It should be interesting……….

New 4ply Design – #2 Skinny Winnie

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This design is just a bit of fun which guarantees a major shot of colour to any outfit. This time it’s worked in crochet on a 3.75mm (US f/5) hook with 3 colour stripes of trebles and half trebles which travel vertically down the scarf. The good news? There’s only 12 rows of pattern. The bad? This means there’s a very long chain to make first, but never mind you’ll still be able to make one in a weekend and the best news of all? You can download the pattern for FREE from my Ravelry Pattern Store from 10.00 am tomorrow. 

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For a hot colourway I combined Olive, Spice and Lippy but you can of course choose your own colours when you order the kit which will be launched at Unwind this weekend. If you can’t make it along then simply order the kit through the website.

J x

Not long to Unwind

unwind_logo180x180The sun is out (hooray) and down here in Brighton we’re all getting excited about Unwind.

It’s a new fibre festival which takes place on the weekend of 12-13th July and is the brainchild of Dani Sunshine of Lioness Arts which brings together workshops, classes & speakers in a number of venues across Brighton. As if that lot isn’t enough there’s also a Saturday night ‘Seaside Shindig‘ and a Marketplace in the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange where I’ll be selling my yarns, kits and patterns along with a host of other lovely vendors including Textile Garden, Namolio, Eden Cottage Yarns and Yarnundyed. Tickets for the Marketplace are available from the Unwind Brighton website along with tickets for Classes tutored by the likes of Rachel Coopey &  Karie Westermann.

Hope to see you there

J x

Waltham Abbey Wool Show

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A new year and a new wool show. This weekend sees the first ever Waltham Abbey Wool Show which takes place on Sunday from 10.00am to 4.00pm at the Marriott Hotel in Waltham Abbey.

The show is being organised by Diana and Tina who are the ladies behind The Crochet Chain a local wool shop in Waltham Abbey that stocks all sorts of yarnie treats plus haberdashery, knitting needles, crochet hooks and accessories. I kind of found out about this show by accident on Twitter and am very pleased to have got in at the last moment so I’ll be there on this Sunday January 19th selling my lovely soft baby alpaca yarns, beautifully wrapped kits and patterns.

Come and look, touch and get inspired, there’s a Funky hat competition, lots of yarn to squish, demonstration areas as well as lots of skilfully made hand made items to buy.

Advance tickets are just £3 or alternatively you can pay on the door (£4). You’ll find more info on the Waltham Abbey Wool Show website here

Hope to see you there

J x

Danie Cabled Gloves

ImageHere’s the latest release from the Warm Hands, Warm Hearts collection. Danie is a cute but grown up glove pattern that combines twisted stitch ribs, moss stitch  and a twisting cable that wanders up the back of each hand

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The design started out as an idea that became fingerless gloves for my husband Sam. In this case the cable leads upwards from the back of the hand where the 2nd and 3rd fingers are worked in rib whilst the other fingers and thumb are plain stocking stitch. (The palm of the hand is worked entirely in stocking stitch). I knitted the gloves in the Fuchsia shade of my Baby Alpaca DK and couldn’t resist tipping the rib in Chestnut as a contrast. For me it just finishes the glove off perfectly.

I must say a huge thank you to my beautiful niece Danielle after whom the pattern is named and of course Sam for the lovely photographs. The pattern for Danie is now available as a PDF download from my Raverly Pattern Store here.

Happy knitting until the next post

J x

Bramble Lace Cape, Knitting Magazine issue 123

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I’ve just received my copy of the December issue of Knitting Magazine and looks what’s made the cover… my Bramble Lace Cape!

It’s knitted in my Chunky Baby Alpaca and I chose the wonderfully rich red Raspberry Twist shade because, well just because the theme for this issue was ‘Christmas Elegance’. I think that Emma and the team at Knitting have done another great job with the styling creating a festive vibe without going too over the top and having my design featured on the cover is a great way to end the year.

The cape is very simply shaped as it’s knitted flat on a circular needle (due to the width of the piece) with columns of Bramble Stitch alternating with columns of lace. Once the required length has been knitted and the centre back seam joined, the deep rib collar is added by picking up and working into the side edges. It’s knitted on 6 mm needles which means there’s still enough time left for you to make one for popping on with your party dress this Christmas.

Alternatively you could pop over to the website where readers of Knitting can get an exclusive 10% off the knitting kit. Whether you knit one to give or buy the kit I think either would make a lovely Christmas gift. Just use the code given on page 66 when you get to the checkout http://www.jeanettesloandesign.com/

Until the next post, happy knitting and keep warm

J x

Sweet Sweet Brown

This is the second design to be released from the Warm Hands, Warm Hearts mitten and glove collection. Called Sweet Brown these fingerless mitts combine a ball each of Menthe and Bitter Choc from my  Baby Alpaca DK range in an intriguing ‘Portcullis’ stitch. I love settling down with a cuppa and trawling through my many stitch dictionaries for inspiration and having decided that I wanted a stitch that created a crochet effect came across this technique in one of Barbara J Walker‘s ever brilliant ‘Treasury’ series.

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The mitts are worked in the round on double pointed needles so ugly or bulky seams to worry about which is good news as they’re designed to be worn with a neat fit (in the next week ‘ll be posting pictures of them photographed on a model). A column of beaded floats on the back of each hand provides a blingy contrast to the formal stripes and whilst the colours continue to alternate on the thumbs the gussets, worked in stocking stitch, provide a plain contrast to the main texture. If you’ve worked in the round and with beads before you could probably make a pair of these mitts in a weekend so they’re the perfect project to make as gifts.

What’s in a name? Well each of the designs in the Warm Hands collection is inspired by the beautiful women in my family so whilst Mrs T’s Mittens is dedicated to Mum, this one is for my niece Michelle with just a wee nod to the hilarious and now famous Ms Brown of YouTube.

The pattern, which includes full written instructions for 3 adult sizes is now available as a PDF download for £3.00 from my Ravelry Pattern Store here

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Warm Hands, Warm Hearts

Back in December of last year I wrote a blog post ‘The Inspirational Mrs T’ inspired by an amazing piece of knitwear crafted by my lovely Mum (you can read the original post here). Well not only did that dress inspire me to write  but it also sparked design ideas for a collection of gloves and mittens which I’m starting to release today.

It’s called ‘Warm Hands, Warm Hearts’ which is a play on the old adage ‘cold hands, warm heart’ which suggests that those of us with cold hands often conceal a warm heart. Despite the fact that I have such ridiculously bad circulation that my fingers have been seen to turn blue in the height of Summer (note to self don’t pick up cold cans) I’d like to think that my heart is always warm and never concealed.

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The first design from the collection is released today. Mrs T’s Mittens is dedicated to Mum (the aforesaid Mrs T) and as well as taking textural themes from the dress with cables, twisted stitches and bobbles, the shade of my Baby Alpaca DK that I’ve chosen to use is Kiwi which  brilliantly echoes the dress’ original colour, don’t you think?

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The palm of the mitten is worked in purl twist stitch which provides a contrast to the linear patterning and a each thumb is worked in reverse stocking stitch with a cable at it’s centre.

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The gloves which come in two sizes are knitted in rows on straight needles with a grafted top and a sewn side seam and pattern instructions are given in a combination of written and charted form.

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You can buy the pattern as an individual PDF download from my Ravelry Pattern Store here, don’t worry if you’re not on Ravelry yet, it’s free to sign up and you’ll not regret it.  The individual pattern for Mrs T’s Mittens is £3.00 or alternatively the pattern will be available along with the other 5 designs in ebook form (price £8.00) from December 1st. Just in time for Christmas…..

Interview for Yarnwise Magazine

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Back in the Summer (and doesn’t that seem a long time ago now?) I was interviewed Lou Butt for an upcoming issue of Yarnwise magazine. I was very flattered to be asked and armed with a mug of tea I worked my way through the list of questions and returned my answers looking forward to receiving a copy of the magazine on publication.

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My copy finally hit the doorstep on Saturday morning and whilst I’m really happy with the interview I’m sad to hear that this is the last issue of the magazine to be published in a print format. It seems that the publishers Tailor Made have decided that with so many other knitting titles on the market (and no doubt with so many of us using tablets) they’re looking to utilise their knowledge of the yarn market to develop “new and innovative products in the knitting magazine sector.” There are a lot of UK knitting titles currently available but as long as they’re all offering designs, tutorials and articles of a varied and high standard surely you can never have too much of a good thing?

Grab a copy of the issue while you can and I hope you enjoy the interview

J x