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Category Archives: Health

it wasn’t pretty but I did it

That would be the Bloody Long Walk. I wasn’t well and probably should have called it quits before I even started. But, as I often say, that’s why we have pharmaceuticals. Right? That’s YoungB holding me up at the finish line, though you’d swear he was simply giving me a congratulatory hug. Five minutes later I missed the edge of a chair and fell over. I could only laugh hysterically. I couldn’t get up, though I eventually managed it with YoungB’s assistance.That was about when Dr B decided we needed to go home. There was no argument at all from me, so that’s what we did. I went straight to bed the minute we got in the door 🙂

That stripey, cooling neck bandanna that’s half-on and half-off? I didn’t need it. But I made it specially the day before, just in case. I even half-charged it at one of the checkpoints, when it looked as if there might be some warmth in the sunshine. There wasn’t, or not much.

If you’ve recently managed a 35-Km walk or extreme activity of any sort – knitting, sewing, something physically challenging – well done. I’m going back to bed 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Health, Sewing

 

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heads need hats

This year we don't have to contend with these. (Photo courtesy of Frank Gervasi)

This year we don’t have to contend with these. (Photo courtesy of Frank Gervasi)

Training for the walk should be occupying more of my time than it is. I feel a bit older and creakier this year and the fact that Youngest Aunt won’t be walking – and, therefore, we haven’t been training together – means that there’s less incentive to make the effort to walk long distances. Plus it’s been cold and wet and miserable in a way it wasn’t last year. I’m not inventing that to garner sympathy. We’ve had the wettest winter on record in a goodly number of years; and, being winter, it has indeed been bitterly cold. Therefore, I’ve been choosing the easiest, warmest, driest options for public transport connections, meaning that the incidental walking I might ordinarily get has been ultra minimal. The lunchtime walks help but I’m not dedicated enough about them when I’m tired and/or I want to eat at the lunch table like a civilised human being. Again. One good thing is that the gradient for this year’s walk is mostly downward. There’s about 29 metres of climbing across the whole 35 kilometres. Last year there was a total climb of 756 metres (mostly the steps in what one of my old schoolmates described as the Stair Chamber or Death Valley – see photo above).

But no matter the state of play for the walk, the knitting is also stumbling along. The instructions for the beanie pattern I’d chosen instructed me to use a tubular long tail cast-on. I had three or four attempts at that and can only say that, yeah, there’s a reason I don’t usually use a long tail cast-on. I know it’s often the cast-on of choice and I have used it in the past. However, this time it just wasn’t coming together. I ended up achieving a similar end via a method you could describe as half cable cast-on, half TLT cast-on. I did the cast on as if it were 1×1 rib – cast on knitwise, cast on purlwise, rather than all stitches knitwise; a variation I’ve often used in the past – then worked the two set-up rows to get that tubular look by slipping purls as instructed. The result was perfectly acceptable and a bit less stressful. No, not significantly less stressful because I kept being interrupted. Every. Other. Damn. Five. Minutes. By Dr B, wanting to ask questions about things totally unrelated to what I was doing. Hair-tearing ensued.

It took a while, but I managed it. However, a closer examination of my yarn choice showed that I’d goofed. I’d thought I’d ordered three balls of Bendigo’s Savanna, which is a 70% wool, 30% alpaca mix. Turns out I was wrong about that. One of them was Classic, which is a 100% wool yarn. Uuh, yeah, even though they’re both 8-ply (equivalent to DK), I though it might be wiser not to mix them. So I have a beautifully started beanie that’s eventually going to end up striped with other remnants of Classic that I have about the place – plenty 🙂 – and I’m trying again with the Savanna.

At least, I will be trying with the Savanna when I track down another circular needle in the right size but grateful that I can skimp on the stair-training this year 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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there’s the injured nephew

Eldest Nephew recently fell and damaged his elbow. It’s in a backslab plaster now but expected to improve to a hinged brace by the end of the week. I asked Middle Aunt if there was anything I could do for him; like maybe knit him an arm warmer? She laughed. But she did ask if I would make Middle Uncle a pure-wool beanie, please, in a nice, sober shade of blue. I suggested a mix with alpaca to ensure softness on his not-very-hirsute pate. The outcome was that, as long as the fibres were natural, that would be fine. Luckily for me, this limited release yarn is a wool/alpaca mix and has a couple of shades of blue. I can do that. I’ve sent off the order.

And then I’ve decided to join Meredithe in doing an hour of knitting a day – in my case – and I’d already said socks. I’ve bitten the bullet and finally purchased the Yarn Harlot‘s lovely Old Joe pattern (of which Dr B approves, and that’s good because this pair will be for him). I’m now about to fossick around in the sewing room to find the sock yarn. I’m a little late starting the hour-a-day effort, but I’m sure to be able to catch up by dint of putting in some dedicated commuter knitting in the next few days.

The other beanie I’d begun (for Dr B)? It’s been back-burnered but not frogged. You see? Plans are always flexible. Happy knitting!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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never mind the fingers, find the feet

I did it last year, over tougher terrain. I can do it again.

I did it last year, over tougher terrain. I can do it again.

YoungB has appointed himself my personal trainer for this year’s Bloody Long Walk. So far we’re both failing spectacularly. Even more than last year, Life seems to be getting in the way of our best intentions. For example, he’s just returned from a donation at the Blood Bank with orders to sleep. That won’t provide motivation or training tips for his poor old mother, will it?

But the clock is ticking and 21 August is, gulp, entirely too close. I’m planning to do a walk today, while the sun is shining and before I find too much housework whose screams for attention can no longer be ignored. So it will be a matter of not minding my fingers, finding my feet – on longer walks than those I manage daily – and, if I can pull it off, pretending to a fair amount of deafness. My tinnitus is about the same pitch as many of the appliances, so it might just be my ears buzzing. Right?

If you’ve done your bit for personal fitness today, then happy knitting, crochet, sewing, tatting or whatever your activity of choice might be, everyone. If you could manage a row or two for me while I’m out acquiring some blisters (I hope not; but best to be prepared, don’t you think?), that would be heaps good 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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the backward glance

Made it to the end, just like the year.

Made it to the end, just like the year.

Here it is, New Year’s Eve again. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours was happy. If you go all out for the New Year’s party, may it be wonderful and you not have too sore a head tomorrow.

2015 has been a messy year and not one I’d consider particularly productive. Having said that, my Ravelry page reminds me that I knitted fingerless mitts and crocheted (mostly Moebius) cowls, some begun long ago but all finished this year. There were 13 in total. I also failed to complete mitts that I began around the time we were moving offices, although I might well complete those in 2016, and another pair where I ran out of yarn and couldn’t find anything matching. That will require fancier footwork than I had time for when I was making them, but they have not been frogged.

With regard to sewing, apart from rescuing various bits of this and that – YoungB’s jeans, mostly – I made four cooling neck bandannas for the Bloody Long Walk. I also produced 270 metres of bunting for Eldest Niece’s wedding and some lavender bags for a raffle prize, as well as some pockets for YoungB’s motorcycling armour (additional protection for a couple of long road trips). Perhaps I didn’t need to do a lot else.

My other mighty commitment and achievement for the year was training for and completing the Bloody Long Walk, with splendid support from workmates, everyone in the family and my HiTec boots. Even though I said I wouldn’t do the BLW again, Youngest Aunt and I agreed only the other day that we need to start training soon 🙂

YoungB returned from Italy and has managed to reach the end of his academic year with reasonable results. I think that’s as much as we could have expected from him, considering how much he struggled to regain momentum and motivation.

Also, Eldest Niece is now a married lady and her wedding to Mr Eldest Niece was one of the happiest such occasions I have ever attended. The bunting looked good, too 🙂

Christmas? Yes, it happened. I managed to get our Advent Calendar hanging a few days before it was required and the tree up before Christmas Day. Winner! We spent time with family and friends and if things were more chaotic than usual because of unexpected equipment failures – vacuum cleaner, gearbox in family car – and some equally unexpected medical issues, then it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the occasion.

I’ve managed to read a few books – too few; but I generally don’t have a lot of opportunity to read except on public transport and, although I’m on that for hours of every working day, I’m sometimes too tired to make the effort – and feel particularly chuffed to have finished the latest title in the Inspector Ricciardi series by Maurizio De Giovanni, one that YoungB brought back from Italy for me.

I’ve successfully reached the halfway point in an online family history unit I’m undertaking through the University of Tasmania. In real terms, my genealogical research is often shelved for months at a stretch because life happens and it’s not the most important thing. In this instance, I’ve renewed subscriptions to this, that and the next genealogical website and/or organisation and started delving into written records because there’s nobody left to ask. Like most of us, I don’t have to look far to find mysteries. I’m toying with which mystery to investigate further for the long, final assignment.

And in something utterly unrelated to anything, we’ve wound up the year splendidly with a trip to the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens to see a rare event: the flowering of an Amorphophallus Titanum, also known as Titan Arum or corpse flower. The day was stinking, even if the flower wasn’t (at least when we were there). There were koalas watching us from some nearby tall gums. It was a fitting finale for 2015.

 

 

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making the cooling neck collars

Still holding the water after a lot of hours on the job

Still holding the water after a lot of hours on the job

You remember how I said I was going to use Great Aunt’s nurse’s uniform fabric to make the collars?Yeah, I changed my mind. It’s a very small check and would, I think, turn out an overall quite dark finished product. Dark fabric absorbs more heat. Not what you want on a long, hot walk. Right? I went stash-diving. You should have seen the length of my periscope when I got to the fabric I ended up using! Its something I bought many years ago (predating YoungB) to make a nightshirt for Dr B, who promptly changed his mind about wanting one. It’s been folded and awaiting its time ever since. There is one small, faded patch. And, unlike the checked fabric, there’s a definite right and wrong side.

It’s 115 cm wide rather than 36 ins, which immediately gave me better options with regard to cutting triangles to make bandana-style collars. I cut out four, then realised that the stripes wouldn’t be running the same way on all of them. See if you can find a toss to give, as YoungB might say, because I couldn’t. Two would have selvages, two would not. More tosses not given. The first one – which, logically and obviously, would be the test version and mine – was sewn with pink thread. Mostly, that was because there was pink already in the machine but the contrast helped me to see what I was doing in order to work out what changes I needed to make for the rest. Although the fabric is pale blue with a dark-blue stripe, as you can see in the photo, the pink wasn’t so startling as to be obvious. Besides, once wet and tied around a neck, you’d have to be mighty close to notice. However, when I decided that the prototype was OK, I changed to grey thread.

There are many instructions on the internet for making cooling collars of various sorts. I couldn’t find one that used the bandana-style I was after (which is not to say there isn’t one, merely that my search terms didn’t uncover it), so I drew on bits of several of the others for inspiration and made up the rest. In Australia, summers are generally hot and sunny, so as well as keeping your neck cool, you often want to keep it covered. (Many school hats are legionnaire-style for that reason.) I reckoned a triangular neck cooler with the tail kept long would be just the shot, so that’s what I made.

The finished product is a triangle about 43 cm/17 ins base to apex with a base about of around a metre/39 ins. It varied slightly from one to the next because it wasn’t so much about precision as getting the job done and not every original triangle was precisely the same (or one might have needed more trimming than another to straighten the edge). I included a divided pocket at the base – about 8 cm/3 ins folded over, then sewn along the line from base to apex – into which I put a small amount of water storage crystals. I used a shade over a teaspoon for each collar. That doesn’t sound like enough, but those things swell to about 300 times their size when they’re loaded.

I pre-charged them the night before the walk. YoungB ticked me off for that because it meant they were wet and heavy. Most people, he groused, bring them dry and wet them at the event. I knew that but, as I explained, they hadn’t been used before, so I wasn’t certain how long they’d take to plump up. I’m sure the next time we use them, they won’t take anything like as long. I was refreshing mine at one comfort stop when another walker congratulated me on the great idea and asked where I’d bought it. I admitted I’d made it, assured her it was easy, and pointed out that there are lots of tutorials on the internet. All of which is perfectly true. But the time to do some of those things? Ah, yes, that’s another matter entirely.

Still, as I said, I made four for our little team – the other Nieces weren’t able to join us, as they’d originally planned – and now that I’ve done those, I wouldn’t hesitate to make more. I might do some things differently. For example, I might subdivide the pocket into more compartments so that the collar sits closer because the bulk is spread differently, but tying the ends provided sufficient adjustment. The simple design works.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Health, Sewing

 

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Bloody Long Walk: bloody long and bloody hard!

We're smiling, but next year Eldest Niece and I will be busy, we've decided :)

We’re smiling, but next year Eldest Niece and I will be busy, we’ve decided 🙂

I managed to make four cooling collars. That’s the most important thing 🙂 I found mine very useful and Middle Aunt wore hers. Mine kept me cool and, as a bonus, protected me from sunburn. Of course I was sewing till the last minute because MY plan for my day was derailed. But no matter, I was able to soak the collars and get them fully plumped up prior to the walk; and there’s mine in action (I’d only just reached the finish, the others had been there for ages). I’m always easy to spot because I’m the shortest. Eldest Niece, Middle and Youngest Aunts also did the BLW, making it a family affair. It was a good feeling to get to the end of the walk, so the sense of achievement probably made our grins wider than usual.

Despite our having done the whole walk prior to the event, albeit in bits and not always in the correct direction, we walked through some new territory because of last-minute route changes that the local councils had requested. I am not generally a fast walker. I know what pace I can sustain to get to the end of the distance I’m doing. Yesterday, I walked at someone else’s pace for far too long and burnt out early. I could DO the pace but I could not maintain it for another 20-or-so kilometres. By the time I reached the Tennyson Dunes and some lumpy, scrambly stuff that we’d always known was going to be tough especially if we were tired, I was almost ready to call it quits. But I didn’t. I sat down and had some dried fruit, nuts and a piece of chocolate, slurped down an energy gel with a swig of water, slapped on another layer of sunblock, gave myself a stern talking to, and picked up my feet again.

And all the while, the thoughts running through my head were along the lines of, “I can do this. I have the energy to do this. It’s bloody long, bloody hard and bloody tiring but it’s not bloody impossible.” If I had mito, I wouldn’t be doing anything of the sort.

Although my recording device had me down to a speed of about 25 minutes per kilometer at one stage, it’s not accurate. I stuck the thing in my pocket when I set out and left it there for the rest of the day. That means simply that there’s no account taken of breaks anywhere, whether that was at checkpoints or comfort stops. Having said that, I WAS walking slowly through the Dunes but I kept going, eventually picked up my pace and managed not to be too downhearted when I reached Semaphore and realised it was still another 5 Km to the finish line at Largs Bay 🙂 I was the last of our little group to finish, by quite a long way, but by no means the last of our larger group to reach the finish line.

Today I was back at work, mildly stiff all over and with a couple of sore spots on one foot – no blisters, however! – but I went for a brisk walk at lunchtime and practically galloped to the tram stop this afternoon. Someone suggested I could participate in next weekend’s event, but I said I’d rather do another Bloody Long Walk tomorrow than a mere 12 Km. It’s not so much that 12 Km is no longer a challenge (it could be), but that I hate the idea of jostling 29,000 other walkers!

And now, now that all that extreme outdoorsy stuff is over, I’m about to knuckle down and do some extreme sewing: metres of bunting. Wish we luck 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Health, Sewing

 

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