Surfacing briefly for a review of the year so far

It’s been a tough year. Two in-patient psych hospital stays, the second caused by an extreme side effect of a new medication given during the first stay. The drug was Abilify which at first seemed wonderful as I suddenly had energy again but it quickly became evident that there was an undesirable side effect. That energy turned into constant restlessness which then turned into akathisia – a condition where one has to constantly move one’s limbs. I endured this torture where I felt that I was no longer in control of my body for two months, the only plus point was that I got a lot of spinning done (not the best spinning but at that point I didn’t care) as it was a good way to relieve the need to be moving my legs. Unfortunately, when it finally stopped, I was left with a lot of joint pain, particularly in my hips.

During that period, I got a bee in my bonnet to knit hats, mostly from handspun and also to knit two Elizabeth Zimmermann hats that have intrigued me for years.


020resized Maltese Fisherman Hat by Elizabeth Zimmermann, knit using some handspun from several years ago.


Snail Hat by Elizabeth Zimmermann, commercial yarn

Rikke by Sarah Young, knit using handspun Romney from my early spinning days.

Rikke by Sarah Young, knit using handspun Romney from my early spinning days.

Rainrdop by Dani Sunshine, knit using corespun from a batt.

Rainrdop by Dani Sunshine, knit using corespun from a batt.

Knit using handspun.

Knit Night hat by Judy Marples. Knit using handspun.

Doesn’t Eluned make a lovely model? Those photos were taken in June although the hats were finished before then. Only the two EZ hats actually fit her, the others are meant for me or anyone else in the house who needs to wear a hat.

I also knitted some almost knee high socks around the same time. I used handspun Targhee from The Painted Tiger fibre club in the Sugarcoated colourway. I had a double dose which meant 8oz. I knit from the toe-up, adjusting the fit as I went along. These are definitely pretty socks rather than functional socks as I rarely wear skirts/dresses, however they were still knit at a sufficiently tight gauge for the yarn grist and should wear well.

004After that literally crazy period, I came done with a mysterious virus which left me weak and barely able to stand for more than a few minutes for weeks after all other symptoms had disappeared. I also lost all knitting and spinning mojo.

Then came the summer holidays with all the stress of two kids at home for two months in the middle of nowhere. Mum took us on several trips out which were lovely and very helpful. We also took a brief last-minute holiday of 5 days at a campsite about 30 minutes away. The campsite is next to a lake with a sandy beach and cordoned-off swimming area. It has excellent facilities including a playground and bouncy castle for the kids. We were able to relax, the kids could have fun and it was a complete break from the usual routine.

During all this, the depression was still very bad and I found it hard to do anything much at all.

Right at the end of the holidays, Rhianwen was having a sleepover with a friend when she came down with a stomach-ache. For two days, I thought it was just a bug but when she wasn’t getting any better I took her to our GP her abdomen was hard and that I should take her straight to the paediatric ‘Urgences’. It turned out that she had appendicitis with peritonitis and she had emergency surgery at 1:30 am. She stayed in hospital for 11 days with me sleeping on a fold out bed in her room. She was very brave the entire time and has recovered fully and will show off her scar quite willingly to anyone who asks.

At the beginning of September, I started attending a day hospital two mornings a week. This means I have to get early! Around the same time, I was put on a new anti-depressant, Valdoxan, which has worked really well and quickly too. I can now usually get up around 10 am instead of 11.30 and even manage to get up around 9 am when I need to.

My knitting mojo is slowly returning and I have nearly completed a second Wingspan scarf/shawlette (no pictures yet). A couple of weeks ago, I took part in the second annual Marché de Noël in my Mum’s commune. Mum was there selling her handmade cards and some other things and I was selling my handmade jewellery from knitted wire, handmade felt etc. Rhianwen helped out both days and worked extremely hard.

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I didn’t make much but I feel sufficiently encouraged to reopen my Etsy shop and start selling some pieces on there.

All in all, it has been a difficult year but there have been two particular highlights. The first was that Meleri, my eldest, not only completed her Art and Design course and got a Distinction but she was also awarded the prize for the Further Education student who had made the most progress during the year. I am so incredibly proud of her, she has really worked hard.

The other highlight is the recent introduction of a new member to the family, Eira the cat. He was wandering around our tiny village and had been abandoned. When we approached him, we found him to be very friendly and in want of love and cwtches. We took him to the vets to check for a chip and we also kept him in our porch for a little while to see how things went. This also gave Rob the chance to consider the effect on him as he does suffer from pet allergies. Rob has decided to give things a go and has seen our GP for stronger allergy meds, he is also going to see an allergist soon. He can see the benefits for me and for the girls. Rhianwen has taken on the responsibility for feeding Eira and is doing a great job so far.


So Christmas is coming and that is something to really look forward to this year. Not only will by brother be coming over from the UK but Meleri will be too. This will be the first time that the girls will have seen her in 2 1/2 years. To say they are excited is a complete understatement.


I have finally got around to blocking three shawls today. They’re all green and I finished them all ages ago. It was also a chance to try out the Unicorn Fibre Wash and Fibre Rinse that I got for Christmas.

The major thing though was that I finally used the blocking wires that I bought from Heirloom Knitting in 2005.

Photos of shawls to come soon. Next thing on the blocking list are a jumper and a cardie/jacket that have been sat waiting for the pieces to be blocked for best part of a year. Then I just have to seam them and do button bands and that sort of thing.

An update, fancy that!

“Life, don’t talk to me about life” – Marvin the paranoid android from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

The depression is still winning for the most part although I have a new psychiatrist and a recent treatment change – dropping Seroplex and adding Zoloft-  may lead to a small improvement. I hae done very little spinning and knitting recently although I have started picking up old projects and finishing them, well, not quite finishing them because the pair of socks still has one toe that needs grafting.  Some of these projects were started before Eluned was born! One of the problems is inadequate light in the evenings. I really need to get a tall lamp. Instead I wear a ‘head lamp’ and pretend I’m a miner just like my Grampa Jesse (although my lamp has LEDs).

The girls are doing well. I went to see Meleri in Bangor at the end of January and attended the annual Stage Crew reunion as well. It was really good to see everybody. I still miss Meleri a lot but I know she’s in the right place. Rhianwen and Eluned really miss her too, especially Ellie. We use Skype a lot to keep in touch.

I have a new problem. It was triggered by Mum buying me a really good puzzle book for Christmas. Just my thing except I’ve worked my way through it and now I’ve picked up my old Sudoku books and am doing Sudoku obsessively, several times a day.

Since Nanny Peggy died, there has been a redistribution of various items. We have ended up with two green leather sofas in the living room which means that the aubergine sofabed has been moved up to the attic craft room. This means that we will be able to accommodate guests more easily once the craft room is organised. But organising the craft room, well that may take a while. I have lost all motivation where not that long ago this would have been a task I relished. To the point that Mum and Jim had to put together the Ikea Expedit shelving that I bought. I used to love putting Ikea furniture together :(

I have been reading a lot, especially on my Kindle. I read about 3 books a week. I get quite a few books through’s daily offer for English e-books, usually around €0.99. This has enabled me to read new authors that I have been wanting to try for sometime without spending too much, at least initially. This has meant that I’ve read all of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, pretty much by buying the next one as soon as I finished the current one. Other authors I’ve enjoyed very much are John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow who I’ve seen mentioned often but never got around to reading before. There are lots of other new authors I’ve enjoyed but my memory is poor and I forget their names and even the names of the books.

I Want To Knit All The Things

To be precise, I want to knit almost everything from Contemporary Irish Knits (Ravelry link) by Carol Feller. I recentlytreated myself to this, it’s the first knitting book I’ve bought for ages and the first knitting pattern book (as opposed to a technique book or something by the Yarn Harlot) for a very long time.

I love pretty much every pattern in the book but the one that really jumps out at me is Killybegs. I want to knit it now. Except that I have another half dozen jumpers that I also want to knit now and at least three in progress.

I’m also spending more time spinning than knitting at the moment so that’s another distraction. I have a huge pile of socks that need darning, a few socks in progress to finish and a hoodie for Rhianwen. We won’t talk about the few lace projects I’ve got on the go somewhere. I also need to wetfinish a few skeins of handspun and block a scarflette I knit for Nanny Peggy.

Something I have actually acheived is that I have filled a newly purchased bookcase in the craft room with fibrecraft books. I have a smaller bookcase that I intend to fill with sewing/quilting and other misc craft books. Of course, the entire craft room still needs organising…

A Fresh Start

I’ve abandoned the old Typepad blog, I decided to stop paying for a blog service that I rarely used. This will be a fresh start for me. I’m going to stop posting life updates and just post whatever I feel like when the mood takes me. I’ve written so many blog posts in my head that haven’t got posted because I’ve felt that I have to post a life update first. I hope that this leads to more frequent posting but who knows…

I finally got disability benefits at the start of December, this included a years worth of back payments to cover the period since my application was received by the CAF (Caisse Allocations Familiales). The benefits will make life easier in many ways, Eluned is going to crêche fulltime, I hope to be able to get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week and the backpayment has paid for a new (to us) car.

The new car is great. It’s a 2004 Renault GrandScenic, it has lots of fancy features like aircon, cruise control, a  keycard and pushbutton start, six speed gearbox, GPS and two extra fold down seats in the boot. It’s also LHD which makes driving easier. Meleri reports that there’s a little more room for her in her spot between the two car seats and for long  journeys we anticipate that she will use one of the fold down seats. It will also be useful to have the extra seats when people come to visit from the UK.

It has been some months since I have done any spinning and I have also done very little knitting recently. I did knit a hat from handspun for Jim (my Mum’s new partner) for Christmas and I am currently knitting something for my grandmother as a belated Christmas present. Again, it’s from handpsun as I am making a concerted effort to actually use my handspun yarns instead of letting them sit in a box.I do have a few projects that are either finished and need blocking or need blocking before working on button bands. I need to get the craft room sorted and a table put together before I can do any blocking though.

That’s it for now I think. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I post again.