Archive for October, 2011


26

Bub is exactly 26 weeks old today and has celebrated her half year in style  by crawling across the living room floor.  I didn’t expect her to grow up this fast. Every day she’s making leaps and bounds, becoming  more and more independent.

I wish, sometimes, that I could have those early weeks back. I struggled so badly with breastfeeding that I resented every snuggly feed. I wish I’d switched to formula sooner so I could have enjoyed all those cuddles. Now, even though I get a nice drooly cheek when I say,’kisses for Mummy’, Bub won’t stay still long enough for me to hold her for longer than a few seconds.

She wakes in the night still, but instead of crying she just lies on her back making fart noises until we go to her. It’s hard to be mad about that. The girl has also learned that if she smiles as we put her into the cot, neither of us can resist picking her up again to snuggle. It’s a good lesson. Smiles and comedy get you further than tears. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

At the moment she’s sat between my feet making lizard noises. Life is pretty sweet.

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Men

Why are men so hard to knit for? You find the nicest, softest real wool you can and it’s too itchy. You find a really simple pattern and it’s too ornate. All you ever end up knitting for them is stocking stitch – or at a push, rib – in shades of an acrylic man rainbow. Your colour choices are limited to browns, greys, blues and black. You could always go cream, but bear in mind that cream only really flies for tank tops in cricket season. Urgh.

I wouldn’t normally bother, but I care a great deal for the person I’m knitting this for. Anyone else – husband included* – and I’d just knit what the hell I felt like and guilt them into wearing it. But this guy has stuck by me through all kinds of (often drunken) crap and I’d like to make something that he will wear and enjoy. All the men I know have said that the fun pattern I was knitting was good, but was probably slightly too girlie to wear.

So, with that in mind, I will post a link on here in case anyone else has a use for it. Despite being called a ‘manly scarf’ on Ravelry, my men have judged it to be otherwise.

Link to the Not-so-Manly scarf.

___

*Just to clarify, I don’t knit for husband any more. If I say I’m making something for him, I’m actually just making a generic item because I can’t think of any other projects. He thinks all wool itches too much and that everything I make is too girllie anyway.

Bub’s Jacket

Due to our impending trip north, Bub was in need of some new jackets. This one has come up slightly smaller than I’d expected it to, but no matter. It still looks very cute. If anyone is interested in the pattern, let me know and I will post it.

The neckline is a Mandarin one with a vintage button to fasten.

The left over wool made for an exciting toy.

I'm getting better at joins - hooray for better finishes!

The same goes for the shoulder seam. I'm sure I could do slightly better here still, but it'll do for a first attempt at grafting.

Subtle Star Trek

So I thought I would share pictures of a pair of fingerless gloves that I made at the end of September. I was going for ‘live long and prosper’ and the Enterprise symbol, but in subtle shades so as not to scream TREKKIE too loudly. M- pointed out that they could be worn so that the images were on the palms as they’re essentially interchangeable tubes with a thumb hole.

They look ok… I don’t like the ‘live long and prosper’ sign so I changed that for another Enterprise badge on the next pair I did. And since making these, I’ve learned how to add thumbs to mittens so I think this pair will be the last of its kind.

 

By the way, I’m not a Trekkie. Well, I’m not a serious Trekkie anyhow. I love the polystyrene rocks and all but I can’t get excited about plot and that sort of thing…

If you’re wondering why I’m not my usual (eloquent – ha!) self, it’s because I’ve not stopped in the last 48 hours. Between my usual Bub-related toiling, knitting for Christmas, planning my November novel and trying to figure out a route to the wilds of Scotland for next month, I’ve also been making cake. Vegan cake.

As a result, I will never touch butter again when making Brownies. The chocolate beetroot cake on The Fat Free Vegan blog is the same texture and the same chocolatey taste, but is far less stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth-and-clog-up-you-sinus’ey than the regular kind. And, as its fat free and doesn’t feel like I’ve inhaled a dairy when I eat it, I can nom so much more of it before my stomach says ‘halt’. Hooray!

And finally, here is a picture of a snail trail on glass.

Bees again!

As you all know, I love bees.

In celebration, I have knitted this:

How sweet to be a cloud...

If you don't love Pooh Bear, you're broken.

If you love it and have an unnaturally small head – or, you know, a child – then you could buy it in my etsy shop. Because I am a shameless self-promoter, I will give you a code for free shipping. Hooray for BLOGBEE – just type it in at the check out. 🙂

Shawl

The great Christmas knitathon is in full flow. I have organised my projects so that when the November migration to Scotland happens, I won’t be working on anything for any of the accompanying group.

This is the first of the finished items that I can show you prior to January. It’s a shawl for my mother-in-law, to be worn over a jacket. For reasons unknown, these are pretty hip in Denmark. Or at least, I’ve seen a lot of people wearing them.  L- really loves all things blue, so I made this simple shawl by getting two balls of Wendy Wisp yarn in the appropriate colour. The whole thing is garter stitch and was made by casting on 2 stitches, then increasing by one every second row. When I ran out of wool from the first ball, I joined in the second and just decreased every second row instead. It’s about as easy as you can get, but because the yarn is so textured, it looks fairly good.

The stripes just happened - they're part of the yarn and weren't intentional on my part.

The increase, then decrease, of stitches makes a really 'pointy' point.

As you can see, garter stitch is perfectly adequate for the Wendy Wisp - it's a really forgiving yarn.

Total cost? £5.98.  I reckon it would cost a lot more to buy. I would say though that the blue is slightly more garish than Deramores would have you believe. I’ve knitted a cowl in the green before and that was a far more subtle palette. It all depends what you want I guess. It might be worth looking at this in an actual shop.

Dear Britain,

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the NHS has come under a lot of scrutiny over the past few days. Elderly care in our nation’s hospitals has been condemned by a new report that I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about.

But care of the elderly is an important issue. We are not treating them, we are treating ourselves. We too will grow old and need to rely on future generations to help us meet our needs. Even when considered from a purely selfish perspective, this issue requires that we address it, lest we too are ill-treated. With motives of self-preservation aside, we owe a dignified end to the generations who nurtured us, fought for us and ultimately changed the world for us.

Whilst there is no excuse for the lack of dignity suffered when a nurse – and I use this term to describe both registered nurses and healthcare assistants – forgets to close the curtains surrounding a bed space, perhaps there is a reason. Remember that this report set out to find failings and as a result, has done so. We never hear of commissions set up to examine the outstanding work that the NHS has done, nor the pioneering treatment it is helping to forward.

Consider that in order for the NHS to function in a cost-effective way, it must run constantly at full capacity. To have empty beds and ready nurses ‘just in case’ would be a colossal waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere. As a result, when there is a pandemic, when there is a holiday that calls for heavy drinking, when the winter exposes the masses of people living without heating, the system is forced to cope with far more patients than it was designed to. Suddenly, two nurses feeding two people becomes two nurses feeding four people and as physics hasn’t yet discovered a way for us to be in two places at once, this is simply impossible.

In an ideal world, the NHS could take its cue from retailers and the Post Office, hiring extra staff over difficult periods, but because thorough background checks need to be carried out before anyone is allowed to work with the public, this would prove to be an administrative nightmare. And one thing our health service does not need is more administration. On top of this, new staff would need to be trained in a very specialist trade, costing yet more money that the NHS can ill afford.

And what about volunteers? Though it would be lovely to think that enough members of the general public could be mustered to solve the NHS’s problems, the issue of training costs remain, even if that of wages does not. On top of this, the fact that background checks are still required makes volunteering schemes just as difficult to instigate as new staff.

The nurses that are these must simply cope. And though this is far from ideal, it does not need to mean a drop in care standards. It takes a second to glance over your shoulder to ensure that the curtains are shut around a bed whilst the patient uses a commode. It takes no time at all to make small-talk as you go about the business of taking temperatures and blood pressure. Why isn’t it happening?

Because nurses aren’t thinking. They’re not being deliberately cruel, it’s not that they’re lacking training and it isn’t that they’re negligent. They just have so many other things to think about that seemingly small points like checking the curtain don’t register. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what is fundamentally wrong with the NHS.

Every temperature you take has to be recorded on multiple sheets of paper, which then must be filed and their locations tracked throughout the hospital. If patients are treated somewhere else in the country, their notes must be securely delivered. Yes, centralising data would be expensive initially, but think of the long-term savings in safe transport and man-hours. If you could somehow make all records computerised and centrally stored, you would streamline the entire NHS  and free up a lot of nurses to actually nurse patients.

This country has a really hard time with thinking long-term. Whilst Scandinavians – my only other point of reference – spent the extra money to double glaze their homes years ago and are now reaping the financial rewards, we’re still shelling out a few pounds here and there for secondary glazing film. We lose money by having to replace the film all the time and through the loss of heat – it would have been cheaper long-term just to pay for double glazing. It’s this attitude that has crippled the health service. We need to update it, to spend money now to turn it into a viable resource which still keeps the various records that are required by law, but which does so in an efficient way. Only by doing this will we be able to give nurses the thinking time to address ‘small’ problems like lack of dignity.

This long-term approach is the one we should apply across the board. Rather than treating the symptoms, we should attack the disease, as it were. We need to spend money addressing the food served in hospitals, which at present has little to no nutritional value. How is the body supposed to heal without the vitamins and minerals it needs to do so? By improving the food, the NHS could also save money on supplements as diet would provide the necessary nourishment. Shorter stays and fewer drugs means money saved, after all. And – bottom line – less dependency on the health service means that people retain a greater degree of personal pride and therefore, the ever-ellusive dignity.

Ultimately, our society needs to become one of education and immunisation. We need to prepare for the future, rather than attempt to fix the past. Only in doing this, we can save the NHS – an orgaisation which, at its core, is an outstading national achievement.

(Published, as requested by Cybèle)

Urgh

Really, I want to have a rant about the NHS report but I’m enjoying some red wine and ignoring football instead.

Today, I broke my golden rule and went driving within the M25. So far in, in fact, that I passed a freakin’ tube station. Never again. And to think death once frightened me – now all that I am afraid of are areas where the phone numbers begin ’02’.

On the plus side, while I did miss out on a tea-drinking/writing session with Work Wife, I did manage to acquire a super-cheap Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair.

These are adjustable so that Bub can sit in it for many years to come.

It’s by the same company which made her bed.

If I haven’t mentioned her awesome bed before then allow me to wax-lyrical now. Not only does it grow from teeny crib to big cot, it also grows from big cot, to bed, to chairs.

Even if I’d bought these items of furniture new, I’d feel like I’d got value for money, but as things stand my smug, bargain-hunter self is intolerably proud of having sourced both for under £300 when the cot alone would have cost more new. (Thank you Mummy and Daddy!)

I love clever baby things which utilise existing stuff. Little pleases me more than smart ways to use space. My Avent microwave steriliser is a favourite, as are the (used) Cotton Bottoms nappies I have which double as sick clothes. They’ve saved countless thousands of tress worth in kitchen roll and nappies already!

Anyway, I have forgotten what I was going to complain about now so the wine has done its job. Now, off to bed. It’s been a long time since April 29th when I last slept a full night and that rare commodity that is sleep must be enjoyed whenever possible.

Urgh. Listen to me.

Broken

My Betty’s Tearoom/Emma Bridgewater mug has just broken.

I am very sad. THe mug has been relegated to the position all cracked mugs – a pen-holder.

If anyone happens to be in Harrogate or York any time soon and wants to pick me up a replacement, I will be only too happy to reward them for their trouble.

Internet

It’s amazing what one can accomplish in a day when the internet doesn’t interfere.

My connection was dodgy from about ten o’clock this morning and as a result I managed to tidy the living room, do some washing, hoover the house, move Bub’s bed into her own room and make the final transition from boob to bottle. I have sourced a high-chair, found a Christmas present for my husband, nearly knitted through a ball of wool and have sorted through my wardrobe.

Dad once described the internet as a never-ending stack of magazines and he’s right. It’s just full of wonderfully distracting ways to waste a day.

Thank goodness my connection is back!

You see, whilst the internet is generally a force of time-consuming evil, it can also be a force for good. This year, because the internet has told me to, I will be joining in with National Novel Writing Month in November. I know Mum is doing it, and Husband has informed me Work Wife will be too… if anyone else fancies giving it a shot I thought we could egg each other on?

It seems like a huge task,to write a novel in a month, but as Mum pointed out, it’s only 1700 words a day which is approximately four times as much as I write per blog post. So, in my word doc, I have written out the numbers one to thirty, and have arranged my plot points beside these chronologically. Now I know what I need to write about each day. As long as each point reaches at least 1700 words, it should be doable.

This is the synopsis I’ve written so far. The story I’m planning is a fantasy, but actually there’s no magic or elves in it. I just can’t be bothered researching medieval society enough for me to be able to call it historic fiction:

When the infant Princess Matilda is orphaned by war, the (councillors) of the Gartree set to finding her a regent. But as the nation’s elders argue to secure their own fortunes, a small group of rebels is massing in the borderlands to the north, intent on replacing the monarchy with government.