Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Therapeutic knitting and stitching (and some useful support)

The last few days have been very stressful which has resulted in a rather unexpected rush of activity on the creative front.

I've been knitting like crazy on a jumper using one of my favourite yarns, Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

I wanted something light and airy and not fitted and 'Slouchy' fitted the bill perfectly. I have plenty of kidsilk haze in my stash, thankfully purchased in sales or on eBay as it's not a cheap yarn!

I started my gauge swatch using the recommended needle sizes but knew straight away it would be too loose so went down several sizes and got the tension square just right.

So off I went, knit, knit, knit in various corridors and after a very short while the rib was done and I started the pattern.

But sometimes it's not a good idea to start something when you're stressed and I soon discovered that the pattern didn't seem to be aligning with the rib in the way I'd expected. Yes, that could be because I'd misread the pattern couldn't it. After all, I've only been knitting for about 54 years, doh!

Ripping back a yarn containing mohair is not the most enjoyable experience but it didn't take too long - if you have a lot to undo then a good tip is to stick it in the freezer overnight which makes it much easier as the strands don't seem as 'sticky'.

Take 2 flew off the needles and since this was taken the other day I've finished the back, front and half a sleeve. It's an easy pattern repeat to memorise.

Then there's the bargello. This is a sampler cushion cover idea I'm playing with using many different stitches. It's incredibly absorbing and my tapestry stand, complete with light and magnifying glass, has been a real boon. I can't make my mind up which stitch to use for the main central pattern and keep changing my mind! I started with a curve but think I'll rip it out and do a more angular pattern.

Small swatches using a limited palette

It's fun leafing through my many bargello books accumulated over the years. I actually sold one to a dealer at a book fair a while back; I paid £8 for it orginally back in the 1970s and he offered me £42 for it which I accepted as a donation to my fund-raising! It was a good basic book but I had most of the stitches in other books so I don't miss it.

Now what about the 'support' mentioned in the title? Well, I've had arthritis in my feet (especially my toes (ouch!) since my early 40s but in my hands for much longer. Both index fingers and middle fingers don't sit nice and flat and are very lumpy on the knuckles as a result of which I try not to draw too much attention to them!

I've written before about different so-called cures of which I must have tried almost all to no avail. Everyone has to find their own way of dealing with it. I do finger/hand/wrist exercises after a session of crafting which helps keep the mobility but what I struggle with most is my grip and strength (or rather, lack of!). I used to be able to hoick a bale of hay up onto my shoulder and carry it with ease to the barn. Nowadays I struggle just to pick them up and load them onto the bogey. I've also had to adapt the way I knead bread as that really hurts now. About 12 years ago I had to change the hand supporting my horses hooves when I picked their feet as I can't stand much weight on my left hand.

That's what we all do when there's an issue isn't it; either that or we stop doing the thing that hurts which in my case is most of the things I enjoy doing!.

For a while I've been struggling in yoga, specifically in a position known as 'downward dog' as it puts so much pressure on my wrists and the ouchy pad beneath my thumbs where unfortunately I seem to be developing rheumatoid arthritis which crippled my late father in his 60s. 

I don't want to give up yoga as it really helps keep me supple - we runners have notoriously tight hamstrings and yoga helps enormously. When I mentioned my problem to Jane and Malcolm, our lovely teachers, they suggested wrist supports like the ones used by weight-lifters. 

Off I went to ebay and found these:

There's a loop to fit around your thumb and then you wrap the strip around your wrist at a tightness comfortable for you.

They really have helped although I've had to skip yoga today as the pad on my left hand is too sore to put any pressure on it.

On a brighter and more positive note I ran another marathon at the weekend. The Sussex marathon which claims to be the toughest road marathon in the UK due to its hilly route. It has a strict 5.5 hour cut-off and when I ran it 2 years ago I did it in 5:14:37 so I knew I'd have to push myself quite hard. Which is exactly what I did.

It's a 2 lap course with a mix of people choosing to do just 1 lap for a half marathon finish. I ran the first lap hard (those hills are unrelenting!) so I'd have some room for walking the really steep hills on the second lap.

There were only 35 finishers in the marathons, including just 5 women. I was delighted to finish in 5:07:51 to better my time from 2 years ago.

Mike was not impressed by the medal though as it was teeny-weeny (he's used to the amazing medals I get at Traviss's events!).

That was marathon 124 and if all goes well there are a lot more to come throughout October.SaveSave


Anonymous said...

Love that knitting! Undoing that kind of yarn is horrid-but glad you persevered as the pattern looks lovely.
Maybe parts of your body don't act like they used too but you are still running marathons!!!

Susie Hewer said...

LOL Julie, thank you xxx