Thursday, 26 March 2015

Casting Off, Casting On

A bit late to post my Yarn Along, but at least I am posting this week! Teething Bob is taking up most of my time these days. Also, he's very adventurous, so when I'm not cuddling him I'm probably rescuing him from some impossible predicament, like shutting himself in a cupboard, or climbing onto the mantelpiece! I have managed a little crafty time this week though. I wound the saffron-dyed yarn into centre pull balls ready for Christmas gift knitting. I know. It's aspirational, ok?

It looks pretty lush, if I do say so myself. I also stayed up late into the night to finish my Old Shale shawl. It's currently taking up most of my sitting room while blocking, so I hope it's nice and dry before we have visitors at the weekend! I'm really pleased with this. The pattern was free and easy, just the simple knitting I needed for my stressed-out brain. It looks great, and is nice and big. I had 400g of yarn and used most of it, adding about 4 extra rows to the garter border. I'm pleased with the yarn, given that it was one of those giant balls of 80% acrylic/20% wool bought for £6 from a discount shop a couple of years ago. I loved the colour and had been saving it for something for myself, and it looks and feels like a more expensive yarn. I'm hoping it comes out of blocking well, although it looked fine before blocking anyway.

Bob has been wearing and wearing a little hoodie that I knitted for Sausages long before I had discovered Ravelry. It's in serious need of attention where the buttons and button holes are showing wear. I love it, and he doesn't seem to have any other jumpers, so I cast on another one for him.

The pattern is from this book, which is printed in Spanish, followed by English translation. The translation is not great, but I think it should be ok. I have my notes from last time, but they are not detailed. I haven't written down my needle size, and I don't usually swatch for something so small, but I will measure as I go.

I really enjoyed knitting this the first time around. The hoodie is knitted from one sleeve cuff to the other, up the arm, across the body, and down the other arm, with the hood knitted separately and sewn on. I will use the same modifications I used last time, replacing the zip with toggles and crochet loops. I don't like sewing zips into knits.

The yarn I'm using is the same as the Old Shale yarn, a 400g ball of 80% acrylic/20% wool. I like this yarn for sweaters, especially for children. It's affordable, not precious, and washes and wears well. This ball was gifted by a friend who had cast on with it twice and couldn't get on with it. We used to be neighbours and see each other often, and I miss her company, so it's nice to feel close to her in using the yarn. It is made up of pink, prussian blue, and very light blue strands plied together, and I knew it wanted to be a toddler hoodie as soon as I saw it.

As for reading, I am about to finish Breast Intentions, so look out for my review shortly. At the library this week I picked up a pile of crafty books to peruse. Some of them are already on my wish list, so I've saved some pennies there. I often see US bloggers getting all sorts of things at the library, but here in the UK the provision seems to be a bit more random, so I count myself lucky to have scored these. I hope I can find the time to read them!

I'm quite excited about the Stitch Library and Natural Dyeing, since I really want to get some of my ideas for designs and dye projects done. What are you crafting and reading this week? Do pop over to Ginny's and Nicole's to see what everyone is up to in the link-ups.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Birth You In Love

Have you seen the recent BBC documentary Childbirth: All of Nothing? If not, you might like to watch it on Iplayer or youTube.  The documentary follows four women through their pregnancies and births, focussing on their birth choices. One woman chooses a private elective section; another chooses a home waterbirth with an independent midwife; another a home waterbirth with doula and lotus birth (in which the placenta is allowed to detach from the baby on its own); and the other an unattended free birth on her canal boat home.

After watching the documentary I joined in the discussion on a couple of closed groups of mothers, and the thing I found most interesting in these discussions was the description of the four births as “very different.” I guess the caesarean stands out as being very different from the others, which are all natural, unmedicated home births. However, it was the similarity between the births that really grabbed my attention. In the first place, all of the women were making choices about their births and had assumed the authority to make those choices. In the second, they all experienced the births they had in mind. I imagine that a lot of people might consider that they were “lucky” to have the births they were hoping for, but I think preparing for that birth and being informed about their choices is most of what got them there. So often I hear from mothers expressions like “they won’t let me…” or “I wasn’t allowed to…” Since women own their own bodies, and the role of midwives, obstetricians etc. is to care for them, it is the woman who is the focus of care, and the only one who has the authority to “allow” anything.

Part of having the power to make our own birthing decisions is taking on the responsibility to educate ourselves. We need to know the biological processes of birth, our options for labour and delivery, the risks and advantages of different options available to us and our children.  I’m grateful that this documentary has brought the perspective of strong, engaged women into the popular discourse on birth, especially as there is another popular programme on at the moment, running in its seventh series, that is filmed in hospital and shows an awful lot of medicalised births. It’s good for women to know that there are alternatives out there; that not everything suggested by a doctor is obligatory; that they own their birth; that they can do this in a way that they will enjoy!

To facilitate this one of the mothers from the documentary is trying to produce a lot of left over footage that discusses various options and the evidence behind them. Kati is hoping to get the footage edited and make it available for free via YouTube, so that it will be accessible to all. If you would like to help her and her team achieve this goal you can find out more and support the Birth You in Love project here. If you would like to find out more about a woman’s options in childbirth, I can recommend looking at Ina May Gaskin and the Positive Birth Movement. Consider it a belated Mother's Day gift!


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Slow Cooker + Yarn = ??

This week I experimented with combining two of my favourite things: slow cookers and yarn!

I didn't take a "before" photo, but the base is some undyed BFL aran that I picked up at Unravel. I put it in one of my 6.5l slow cookers, covered it with water, added a splosh of vinegar to open the fibres and some leftover saffron from the kitchen cupboard, and left it on low for a whole day.

I was concerned that saffron wouldn't catch so well as the synthetic colourings I have used before, since I don't use chemical fixatives. Everything in my house has to be child friendly, especially with Bob on the prowl. That boy gets into everything! After washing the yarn is a lovely warm honey colour, which may or may not be a little clue to what it is intended for, but it will be a Christmas gift hopefully, so I will say no more.

In retrospect I should have steeped the saffron in the water overnight then sifted out the stamens, since now there are a few caught in the yarn, but it isn't that many and really it's no bother. I'll work out the yardage once the skeins are dry, but at 200g of aran weight there should be plenty for my purposes.

Boring old knitting and reading this week. This is a much better colour representation of my Old Shale, sitting on my chair in the study. It's under the window overlooking the garden, and is a lovely place to sit. Unfortunately not even this back up shawl was finished in time for last weekend's wedding, but since I wore Bob in a sling all day it really wasn't needed. I have made a mistake somewhere, and ripping back a pattern repeat doesn't seem to have helped. I'm still reading Breast Intentions, and still struggling with the negativity. Dixley points out that our propensity to be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt is a fundamental part of the process of sabotaging breastfeeding, so I guess my discomfort only confirms her thinking. Hm.

Make sure to pop over to Ginny's and Nicole's to see what everyone else is crafting and reading, and do let me know what you are busy with!


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy World Book Day!

In the spirit of World Book Day, Husband has gone to work dressed as Tintin (complete with cuddly toy Snowy), and Sausages has declared the rest of us to be the three musketeers. Bob and I have swords, and Sausages is wielding a toy drill that makes a noise and rotates. We can fight the evil Cardinal AND do DIY. Perfect!

Sausages got a parcel full of books this morning (thank you insomnia shopping. No, I hadn't planned that it would arrive on World Book Day. That's just fate giving me a hand). This one is his favourite so far. The style reminds me a lot of Dr Seuss.

I'm still reading Breast Intentions. It's a hard read. The chapters have depressing titles such as "Deception" and "Guilt," and the writing style is aggressive and informal. At the same time, I recognise the truth of the content, and appreciate the clear explanations of behaviour that has often perplexed me. As a breastfeeder, artificially feeding mothers often give me unsolicited explanations of their feeding experience. Often I know that these are bunkum, but I rarely ever call mothers out on them. I want t be supportive of women, not judgemental. This book has shed a lot of light on there revelations for me, but it is judgemental, and holds to a very negative concept of human nature. I think the judgements made are correct, but it's unusual to be so unapologetically factual about it, and it's pushing me outside my comfort zone. I'm happy for that to happen. Heavy stuff.

My Follow Your Arrow 2 was clearly not going to be finished in time for the wedding I wanted to wear it to this weekend, so it has been paused in favour of an Old Shale, which is knitted in aran weight yarn on 6mm needles, and is the perfect antidote. It's totally not this colour, more a dusky, greyish mauve. There is a lot of pink and blue in it. The yarn is a cheap 20% wool blend from the stash, and something I was saving to knit something for myself. It's surprisingly nice to work with, and the lace is coming out beautifully. A lot of people suggested I knit dishcloths to balance out the fiddly shawl, so I did knit one, but Bob ran off with it. He's a scamp! He's currently having an unexpected nap on my lap. He lives life at a million miles per hour, but he needs a lot of mummy cuddles to fuel it. I'm so happy to be able to give them to him.

Don't forget to pop over to Ginny's Yarn Along to see what everyone else is reading and crafting this week. I'm a bit late linking up because yesterday was my Mum's birthday and we had an impromptu day out at the farm with her and my youngest sister. It was absolutely glorious! Have a lovely week

E x