Knitting in Norway

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I really loved the grass roofs!

Last week me and my boyfriend took a trip over to Norway to hang out with a friend of ours who lives there. We had the most amazing time! It’s such a wonderful country and the people are super nice. I knew that it was a lovely place but I don’t think I appreciated quite how pretty the landscape was and how many lakes and mountains and islands there would be.

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Check out the beautiful autumn colours!

While we were there the weather was just turning for the start of autumn so perfect knitting weather! My friend Sarah told us about a knitting shop near her house and I was really excited to go and have a look.

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The shop is in the middle of the countryside near Oltedal and has big flag poles outside covered in wool so that you can’t miss it. It’s a factory outlet and they have discounted wool. I was spoilt for choice! I got some Tynn Aplakka in a lovely grey green. I don’t normally buy wool if I don’t know what I’m going to do with it but I figured that 7 balls of 4 ply would easily make me a cardigan or a jumper.

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This is the knitting shop. Check out the awesome grass roof (I have become a little bit obsessed with grass roofs)

While we were there we stayed at a beautiful cabin in the mountains. Super relaxing and perfect for knitting.

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It was so cozy and warm! I got quite a lot of knitting done and I’ve nearly finished a new hat.

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We had such an amazing trip and will definitely be going back!

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I’ve learned to crochet!

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I’d been meaning to learn to crochet for quite a while but hadn’t quite got around to it.  I thought it might be good for my arthritis to have an alternative to knitting and also I really love the look of granny square blankets.

During a quiet afternoon at Knit with attitude I persuaded Jess to teach me how to crochet a granny square. It turns out she’s a very good teacher and I picked it up much more quickly than I thought I would. I’ve tried before and got a but confused so I think it was helpful to have someone there to demonstrate (I have a feeling I’m more of a kinetic learner).

I’ve really got into making  crochet squares and I’ve done quite few so far. I got some good tips from Bunny Mummy’s blog .

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I’m really enjoying it, it’s almost as addictive as knitting! I’m still working on getting my squares perfect, at the moment they’re not all coming out exactly the same size and there are some  messy bits, but I’m getting there!

I’m not sure how useful it will be for my arthritis. I have a theory that a change in hand movement would be helpful (so that I’m not just completing a repetitive knitting movement all the time).  It feels very hard on the joint at the base of my thumb and it’s hard to tell if it’s better or worse than knitting for my hands overall.  I’m sure that ideally I’d stop knitting or crocheting when my hands hurt. But, in reality, I get so frustrated when I have to just sit there without anything to do  that I end up focusing on how much pain I’m in which makes it worse.  I guess that there’s no ‘right’ thing to do. I do very find it very annoying that as autumn rolls around and I really want to get knitting the change in temperature (and rain!) really sets off my arthritis. I’m currently day-dreaming about moving somewhere warmer where it doesn’t rain…maybe the Caribbean….I wouldn’t actually be able to wear my knitwear…… but it would be like a miracle cure…..plus  think of all the yoga I could do *stares dreamily into space*…….

Free knitting Apps

I can be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to tracking increases in my knitting. I either use a little row counter that sits on my needles or just make a note on the pattern. If I’m feeling lazy I just count the rows every now and again ( I wouldn’t recommend this approach as it often means that I end up with too many rows and then can’t be bothered to go back and re-do them) and if I’m feeling really lazy I just keep counting the stitches until I have the number I’m supposed to. The approach normally works fine for me.

Unfortunately for me and my slightly slap-dash approach to increase the sleeves on the Breckon cardigan I’m working on at the moment actually need me to track what I’m doing properly. The sleeves are in a granite stitch which looks lovely but  I can’t really see well enough to count the rows….also I need to increase every 12 rows for a bit and then every 10th row for a bit so my normal final stitch count approach won’t work.

To help me out I’m trying out some free knitting apps. This one is called ‘row counter’:

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I’m finding it very useful indeed. If you have eagle eyes you’ll notice that I’ve been putting my increases where my repeats should go but because I don’t really need to track repeats it doesn’t really matter.

There are one or two little problems with it:

  • I need to have my phone next to me all of the time. This means balancing it precariously around my front room. For some reason my iphone is a slippery little thing and likes to fall off stuff (I like to think it’s easily excited). I’m worried that one day it will fall off something and then smash. 
  • It stops the phone from going on standby. I can see why they’ve done that as it stops you from needing to turn it back on again and then put your pin code in every time you finish a row/increase. However, it’s a massive drain on the battery. Plus, every time I look over at the screen it’s all lit up which makes me think I’ve got a message or an email…
  • It doesn’t let you take off rows/increases. If you get a bit tap happy or need to undo some rows/increases then the only option is to ‘reset’ and then tap until you get to the number of rows you are suppose to have. I get that they’ve done it to make sure that there is something extra that they can add to their paid for App but it’s still annoying.

I also have ‘simple count’ on my phone. They haven’t wasted much time on design but it does what is says on the tin and basically just counts upwards. It’s more or less useless for knitting, however, I find that it is super helpful for doing my physio exercises. Most of them involve holding my leg up in various directions for a count of 5 and for some reason the counting to 5 while I hold my leg up totally makes me forget how many repetitions I’ve done…. However with this App I can actually figure out where I’ve got to!

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Every now and again I check the App store for a Ravelry App but none turns up. I’m hoping that one day they’ll  put one together!

Crafty Magazine – something a bit less twee!

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Four weekend days a month I work in my friend’s lovely knitting shop. While I was there this weekend I came across this really interesting new magazine  (issue 1 no less!). It caught my eye  because it manages avoid the crafty twee trap. It would be a big lie for me to say that I don’t like twee crafty things, however, I am getting a bit fed up of that being the prevalent aesthetic for craft in general.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a tiny bit more edge and a few less flowers to balance out all of the Cath Kidston and Kirsty Allsop (both of which I like in moderation).

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The magazine covers various different crafts including knitting, crochet  and some button making. The patterns are fairly simple but accessible. These owls for example could finally inspire me to learn to crochet.

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There is also some customizing of trainers which I’m not quite so sure about. It makes me think of me and my sister tie-dying stuff in the garden in the 90s…..However as all things 90s appear to be coming back (crop tops urgh! Doc Martins yay! ) this isn’t a huge surprise but it doesn’t stop me from feeling a tad old…….

My eye was also drawn to this pattern for a top. I’m sure it wouldn’t look quite so awesome with my rather basic sewing skills but I think I’ll check it out anyway. I suspect I am drawn to it because of the buttons, I love buttons! She also has an awesome blog which I hadn’t come across before.

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Slightly dodgy scan I’m afraid- my fault- but you can still see that it’s a lovely top 

All in all I think it’s a good start for a new magazine. I’m looking forward to having a look at issue two when it arrives!

 

 

Finding ways to keep on knitting despite having the hands of an old lady…

A few weeks again it dawned on me that I couldn’t carry on ignoring the pains I have been getting in the joints of my hands and I had to go to the doctor. I’ve had arthritis in various joints since I was 24 so it wasn’t a massive leap to suspect that was what was going on with my hands.

I’ve had the x-rays back now and I was right. I’m going to be totally honest. I was very upset. As well as loving knitting I also have a job that is computer based so I need my hands to work! I spent a little bit of time a)feeling sorry for myself and b)worrying about what was to come. (This wasn’t helped in any way by the doctor telling me that there’s nothing I can do to make it hurt less, other than take pain killers, and no way to stop it getting worse. She also started going on about trying to avoid ever going to hospital because of MRSA so I don’t think she was having a very good day). Now I am ready to get on with trying to make things a little better and working to keep my hands moving for as long as possible.

It’s hard to take a good picture of these but I promise they look alright on!

My first purchase has been a pair of compression gloves. I have been putting this off for a while as I had visions of beige coloured monstrosities but then I found this awesome grey pair on Amazon. They were fairly pricey for what they are however  the are by far the best ones I’ve seen. They were a little bit weird to wear at first but now I’ve got used to that I’ve been getting on very well with them and I think that they are helping. I’ve been wearing them out and about as well as around the house and I think they look okay. They are lending me a sort of 90s/Mitch from Being Human look which is no terrible thing. The only down side is the quality of the manufacturing. As you can see from the photo above there are various bits of thread coming off them and every time I cut off one piece of thread I find another one. When I’ve paid £19.99 for a pair of gloves (which I think is pretty expensive considering how small they are) I expect them not to start falling apart for a few months at least! They are also a little tiny bit too small on my fingers. I get quite a bit of pain from the joints at the top of my fingers and the gloves don’t quite cover them. They just need to be 1cm longer and they would be perfect.  Over all I am happy and I’d give them 4/5 .

I have also had a little try at taking Cider Vinegar and Black Molasses. Anecdotally I hear that it can work really well and I’m always willing to try things that are both cheap and come without side effects. I’ve really struggled though! It tastes absolutely vile, the kind of vile that makes  you shudder! It has also made me feel pretty sick. I’ve admitted defeat with this for a little while but I plan to have another go in a couple of weeks.

In the short-term I’ve also increased my visits to my awesome acupuncturist. As well as being very skilled at his job he’s really good fun so it is money well spent as far as I am concerned.

To help with my knitting I forced myself to have a whole week away from the needles. This was horrid, as you can image, and exercised my will power a great deal. To distract myself I made sure I did lots of bunny cuddling.

Coco looking very cute as always. This is in a brief spell of being good before getting on with her usual mischief….

I think the rest has done my hands a lot of good and I’m ready to start knitting again. This time though I’m trying to take it sensibly and only knitting for small amounts of time before having a break. I’m hoping to build up as I go along.

I’m also making sure that I have various different sizes of project on the go so that I can alternate between needles to give my hands some variety. This will be a little annoying as I prefer to work on one thing until I’ve finished but I guess I just have to go with it and see it if helps.

Knitting and Arthritis- things that might help

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the problems I’ve been having with knitting now that my arthritis appears to have spread to my hands  (I know that it doesn’t actually ‘spread’ but you know what I mean). I got some lovely responses which have made me feel much better. Thanks a lot for those! Crafty people are lovely!

I’ve been doing a bit of research to see what I can do to help ease the pain a little and help me to keep my hands busy. Here’s what I’ve found out so far:

  • Using bamboo needles. This seems like a good plan and the next time I buy that’s what I’ll go for. They are prettier anyway and now I have an excuse to spend that extra bit of money. 🙂 On the downside they aren’t cheap so I can’t just replace my whole needle collection with bamboo (I have a lot of needles!). Also they don’t come in quarter sizes and I find that I do a lot of knitting on 2.75 and 3.25 as I have a funny tension and often need to go down a bit.
  • Using circular needles. I like this one as I already do use them! I think it’s about taking weight from you wrists and shoulders as the weight of the knitting sits in your lap while with straight needles the weight stays on the needles and is taken by your wrists.
  • Knitting holders. These look good in theory as you clamp the needles into the holder and it saves your hands from being in the same position all the time (all scrunched up which is probably a very bad position for achey hands to be in).  I’m not sure about it in practise though. Would they work with circular needles? What about when you need to wrap and turn or if you’re working in the round? Or if it’s a small bit of knitting, do you have to take it out and turn it around every row? What if it’s a huge project, surely it won’t fit? The jury is still out on this one.
  • Avoiding cables. This one made me sigh because I love cables. Apparently they are much harder on the hands. 😦
  • Use wool rather than acrylic. I don’t use acrylic anyway so I can already tick that box.
  • Learn different knitting style and alternate. This makes sense to me. As soon as my hands are feeling a bit better I’ll start trying to learn continental style. Then I can alternate between styles and reduce the repetitive movement (well alternate the repetitive movement anyway).
  • Soaking my hands. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before as I have lots of baths to help with my knees and my hips. I tried this yesterday and it really helped. Not enough to pick up my needles unfortunately but it offered some rest-bite and I was okay to type again.
  • Arthritis gloves. This sort of thing. I hope you don’t judge me here but I’m very reluctant to get some of these. They aren’t terribly, um, aesthetically pleasing. Also I’m 30…..somehow I feel to young to need that….although obviously I’m not….. I need to think about this a little bit more.
  • A private physiotherapist. This would be an awesome option. Sadly it’s a bit too pricey. Luckily the NHS people I already see for my knees are lovely and down the road. However I need to be re-refered by the doctor to see them about something else (I blame Cameron et al for stealing all the money from the NHS).
  • Go and see the doctor!  The final and most obvious approach. I have an appointment this afternoon. I don’t find doctors are very helpful with this sort of thing.I don’t really know why. Bad luck? Living in London where everyone is a tiny bit meaner? So far all I’ve achieved is negative tests for rheumatoid arthritis and then they go “hurrah, you don’t have that” and then suggest I take paracetamol (!) or send me to the ‘pain clinic’ (not as bad as it sounds but not much help.  They did give me a tens machine but I don’t find it works for me. I have no idea how people use those things to get through labour.) I am hoping for better luck this time.

On the plus side I was look at the Arthritis Research website and they have an article which says that there is no evidence that knitting makes arthritis in the hands worse- yay!

If anyone has tried any of the above- let me know if it helped!

Knitting and arthritis

I started knitting about six years ago. I began to have problems with the joints in my knees and my hips. Out of nowhere the joints started to swell and it was so painful I could barely walk. Initially I thought that it would pass. I waited and took the pain killers and hoped for it to go away. But it didn’t. It just got worse and worse, it hurt so much I couldn’t get to work  as I couldn’t make it to the train station and even if I could the pain was so great I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate.  Beforehand I loved to walk; I walked everywhere. But I was totally stuck in the flat. Suddenly I’d gone from active to a sad little heap on the sofa,  veering between terrified of what was happening to me and bored out of my mind.

So, I started knitting. Yes, I was still stuck at home, it still hurt and I still had no idea what was happening, but I finally had something to do! Something fun to keep my brain distracted and my fidgety little hands busy.  I was totally addicted and thrilled to have found something so awesome to take from a fairly grim experience.

Eventually I started to realise that this wasn’t a temporary thing and I wasn’t going to get better.  I found ways to make it manageable and to ease the pain. I found an amazing acupuncturist, started yoga, learned to relax  and nourish myself with better food. I went back to work and got on with my life.

Over the years the pain has come and gone in flare ups. Mostly I’m fine and I can get about, do the things I want to and thoroughly enjoy my life. I eventually got a diagnosis of arthritis and started physio which is an amazing help (even if the exercises are an epic kind of dull). But every few months it sneaks back when the weather is bad, if I’m too stressed, if I’ve been doing too much or as a random suprise. When it happens it’s rubbish and  I’m pretty much stuck at home unable to walk as far as the tube unless I absolutely have to do something in which case I have to stuff myself with painkillers . That’s where my knitting comes in. I may not be able to get about but I can knit! I can curl up on the sofa with my knitting, a cup of tea and some trashy telly or a podcast and have a lovely time.

Every now and again I find that the joints in my hands hurt. For quite a long time  I have adopted a ‘la la I’m not listening’ approach. I’ve just ignored it, carried on knitting, and hoped that it would go away. But sadly over the past few months it’s becoming apparent that it’s not going away it’s getting much worse. It’s more than likely to be the same problem and I’m going to have to start taking it seriously. It’s got so bad that it hurts to much to  knit a lot of the time.  It’s fair to say that I’m gutted.  However I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’ll have to get myself back to the doctor for the exceptionally long and annoying process of getting a diagnosis (apparently you can’t possibly have arthritis below 40……) and then I need to work out what I am going to do to keep myself busy when my hands aren’t up to much.

Here’s the plan:

  • Research knitting for arthritis. Maybe there are special knitting needles? Maybe some wool is better than others?
  • Crochet? Maybe that’s easier on the hands?
  • A knitting machine? I like this idea. My friend is getting one soon and I thought I’d have a little play with hers and see if I like it and if so try and find me one of my own.

Hopefully I’ll have finished feeling sorry for myself very soon and I’ll be able to put the plan in action.