Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good

Good thing number 1

Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss
I won this fabulous book as a prize in a draw at This is Knit's blog.  This is very exciting as I am not known for being lucky in draws!

There are some lovely designs in here just asking to be knit even though I have several projects on the go as usual.  You can see the whole collection here on Jean's page and the ones I really like are Evergreen (a string of dangly leaves), Harlequin (knit in entrelac, which I've never tried before), Penumbra (an interesting looking cowl), Ceilidh (I just love tartan), Mantilla (such a pretty lace pattern and I have a selection of Kidsilk Haze colours in my stash to choose from).  I just know that I'll end up being naughty and starting something before the other things are off the needles!

Good thing number 2

A tower of grannies

Still continuing with my cushion theme I wanted to make a couple of cushion covers for use outside on the sunloungers.  I used Rowan Summer Tweed again and chose a granny pattern from one of my crochet blocks books.

The fabric that inspired them
I found this piece of fabric in a charity shop and it looked so summery that I thought it would be ideal as the backing fabric.  I took my palette from the colours in the fabric and just added a bright pink and a dark green to make the design pop.

Arranged on the cushion pad
I didn't want a conventional granny square look so I made lots of different sizes based around the measurements of the largest square.  I just made fewer rounds on the smaller ones.

Here are the granny squares blocking ready to be sewn together.  It is so important to block this type of design, especially when using a yarn made of cotton and silk, as I have seen so many misshapen granny squares joined together and it really spoils the finished effect.

I'm going to join them invisibly and then crochet around the edge in a few different colours.

Good thing number 3

A beautiful Bumblebee in a rhododendron flower
We've had more rain.  Lots of it in fact.  So much that I wanted it to stop so I could get out into the garden and deal with the weeds!  Then the sun came out and everything seemed so alive and vibrant.

Wasp on my gardening gloves
There was a gigantic hornet in my shed but in the time it took to get my camera it had disappeared.  This little wasp took a liking to my gardening gloves.

Horses with jackdaws

The horses are getting help from the jackdaws with shedding their winter coats!  There must be lots of nests around here lined with soft hair from Esther and Kizzy.

The bad

I've got a health problem.  For the last couple of years I've been troubled with an ongoing sore throat and runny nose.  Sometimes my throat swells up and I can hardly swallow.  On several occasions I have been unable to breath which is very scary.  Last year I finally went to see the doctor he told me that it was probably just the remains of a cold.  Really?  I think not!

Then this year I had a eureka moment - the really bad throat closing up episodes happen around March/April when the tree pollen is about thus suggesting it could be hayfever.  More specifically, it's when Salix caprea, aka Goat Willow is producing it's copious amounts of bright yellow pollen.

I didn't seem to react quite as badly this year but then over the weekend I had another scary throat-closing up incident without any tree pollen in sight.  What was around though, and in great abundance was Oil seed rape.  Horrible, stinky stuff which I try to avoid as the smell of the pollen always gives me a headache.  This time though I felt really ghastly all evening and the following morning I felt no better so I took myself back to see the doctor.

The ugly

The doctor listened to my symptoms and agreed with my self-diagnosis, prescribing antihistamine tablets to help with the hayfever.  I also told her about my marathon running and that afterwards I feel as if my chest is a bit gunky, as if something's been shaken up inside my lungs (yuk!).

However, she also felt that I might be asthmatic.  What?  No way, that's not part of the plan at all thank you very much.  She made me do a breath test where I had to exhale into a contraption that measured my exhalation rate.  Then she made me do it several times more because she was very surprised that my reading was so low, especially for someone who runs marathons.

Flow measure and inhaler
So instead of just a remedy for hayfever I came away with an asthma inhaler, a flow measure, a chart to record my breath flow and an appointment for a Spirometry test next week.  Fantastic!

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