Sunday, 16 October 2016

New beginnings

I'm writing this under my duvet with beautiful sunlight streaming into my room and cold air freshening the house. My favourite season is here again and I am feeling hopeful and looking forward to what kind of year my birthday will bring me this time.

My birthday was about ten days ago and I received a wonderful package from my sister. A lovely corriedale/silk blend in beautiful autumnal colours from Hill Top Cloud. I had just been browsing this website and dreaming before the postman arrived believe it or not! So it really was a lovely surprise. My other birthday treats were a visit to the cinema to see Bridget Jones' Baby - this is so hilarious from the second the film starts you must go and see it. I read the book when I was a student and perhaps it's the reason why I am a bit too relaxed about being single! Oh well, if it's meant to happen it will.

My mum also said I could order myself something from the internet. I browsed and browsed until I finally settled on a niddy noddy. It's the only thing I absolutely need and I have banned myself from adding to my wool stash. In a way a niddy noddy is adding to my wool stash as it will encourage me to spin but this is the positive way of doing it. I have been making do with making hanks and I want them to look long and like they do in the shop so I figured I would pick that. I have only just ordered it and am awaiting it excitedly!

My sister came down to visit again in September. It was so lovely to see her, even though I had a heart monitor on which interupted my sleep a little and was a bit embarrassing when going out for lunch! She bought lots of goodies she was casting off, such as a pair of addi turbo circulars and some acrylic yarn she didn't want. I put them both together and made a Doctor Who-ish scarf as you can see above. I love garter stitch - it's really relaxing and purling the first and last stitch is making it look really neat.

I knitted this pattern by Martina Behm above in garter stitch. I love the shading of the yarn and can't wait to brighten up a coat with it.

September also brought me some other good news - I have found a part time job of 25 hours a week and it's term-time only. It's brilliant as I have always looked for one but have never found just this amount of hours. It will be lovely to have either the afternoons or one day where I can settle and do something creative to unwind. After my diagnosis I have been learning to pace myself and put things off to the next day rather than swamp myself and I want to see if I can take this attitude into work with me and work as other people seem to be able to!

I've been managing to swim 2-3 times a week lately and am finding this is keeping my pain at a manageable level. The only problem it can produce for me is keeping up with hydration, other than that it truly is a perfect activity for me. I hope if you or anyone you know suffers pain in any way you can find it within yourself to get motivated to swim. Working the level up very gradually is the key with swimming.

So it's been a fruitful six weeks personally, apart from a nasty reaction to the flu jab which landed me in A&E! I hope you have a fruitful few weeks too.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Book Review: Animals by Georgie Woolridge

I have been sent a colouring book to review and it's rather delicious.

It's called 'Animals' by Georgie Woolridge.

Georgie is a Cheltenham-based artist who went to Mumbai in India for a design placement after studying at Loughborough University. When this came to an end she 'then went on to travel around the world. Places included Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.' She says 'I think this gave me the break I needed to really think about what I wanted to do in the long run. I arrived back in England and I just started to draw.' (Source)

When I received this book I was kindly sent three PDFs of animals from the book to play with by the publisher. I used a mixture of felt tip brush pens and watercolour pencils to create my probably unique picture! The spaces to colour in were just right for me, not too small to squeeze my concentration but not too big either.

This shaggy lion is one of the animals which have been coloured in to tempt you.

There are 37 animals in total to colour, which I think will keep you going for quite a while.

If you would like to purchase the book or one of her other mindful colouring books here are the places to go:

Your local bookshop

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Thanks to Modern Books for sending me this book.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Spin Spin Kitty

Gladly the last twelve weeks of blog silence have been for positive reasons. I'm now seeing a sympathetic job coach, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, my GP, a Physiotherapist and a Specialist!

I've also managed to increase my swimming sessions to twice a week and am hoping to increase them to three times now I am attending on my own. I have come through the initial fatigue from the swimming when I started in January and am finally seeing a positive benefit in my everyday life. It is giving me a sense of achievement and lots of energy - along with spinning!

As you can see I've been spinning for a couple of hours a day and have really forged on with a few little mini skeins and am now going towards my first 100 gram hank of BFL. I practiced for an hour a day to begin with after my sister strengthened my technique and eventually I got the hang of it without parking or stopping for long when joining in a new bit of fluff.

The brown hank is a little mini skein I ordered a couple of years back and I can't remember where I got them all from. It was a sample box of hand dyed fluff from independent dyers. I'm saving the mini skeins which are in my favourite colours until I'm a bit better at spinning.

I haven't been acquiring much yarn as, well, I'm not working! I did pick up this Zauberball in 'Wool' in Bath but the novelty of being in Bath is wearing off a little...and we are finding a few free things to do now. We visited the art gallery a couple of months ago which is quite simply stunning. I seem to be able to concentrate and focus when out and about now so I remembered the names of all the artists and paintings and managed to sit in the middle and relax. We are going to the Holbourne museum next as there was a helpful folder in the main gallery about all the paintings in there.

I managed to finish my blanket. I didn't undo it. It's a bit longer than I wanted as I am a loose crocheter, but another shop bought blanket I have is long for my bed too so I just decided to leave it. All the ends are sewn in and the borders have been crocheted.

It took eighteen months to finish in total but it's been completely worthwhile as it looks beautiful on my bed.

I'm currently knitting a shawl from a Zauberball. I found the pattern from Ravelry and I am much futher along than when I took this photo. At the moment it is taking me a while to get my photos uploaded and to find time to sit down and blog but I hope the act of doing it will get me back into the swing again!

I've also completed an Aran cabled hat for my sister but want to keep it a secret! I'm upload a piccy when I've given it to her :)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Spinning yarns

It's been five months since I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I hadn't been expecting much to change. There's the CBT that I got faster than usual because of the double diagnosis with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome...I expected that. I didn't expect to have such a deeply understanding week-long visit from my older sister.

It was so lovely to get together after I have been worrying about her for about 18 months. Initially she thought she had Lupus, then other disorders and syndromes. She had been going in for tests at hospital and having all sorts of scans when the diagnosis of EDS finally appeared after a suggestion from a friend with the condition. I'm so grateful to her that I don't have to go through all that and have gone pretty much straight to a specialist with my health issues already in mind.

So it was all the more wonderful to sit quietly with her and knit and talk about whatever for a whole day. I had given up spinning with my spindle after not quite getting the hang of it and probably putting it away just before I broke through to the next level of understanding and practice. She explained the staple of the yarn and parking the spindle in such a clear way I have been practising for fifteen minutes every day for two weeks now and have ordered more BFL which is apparently what you need to learn with NOT merino wool. The yarn I'm spinning in these pictures is my very first yarn! It's very thick and thin but I've been told this evens out after a while.

She came to visit after going to Wonderwool in Wales and she bought me a wonderful gift of a 150g hank of silk and wool from Sparkleduck. It's a beautiful blue and green with a lovely sheen to it from the silk. One to treasure!

In other news, I would love to say I have finished my crocheted blanket but I haven't! I had a very loose tension on this project and so the blanket has ended up being too long and not wide enough. I have finished the ripples and sewn ALL the ends in (phew!) but was holding off doing the border as I felt something wasn't right (it was friggin' huge!). I tried it on my bed and about twenty ripples need to be ripped back to make it fit neatly on top of the bed after the border has been filled in. I also need to work out if I still need extra yarn for the border after I rip back. So I have folded it up for a while as I was getting a little bit tired of seeing it to be honest. It's been next to my chair in the living room for over a year now and I think I'll benefit from having a break from it before I rip and finish the border. I am pleased with the overall blanket though and think the colours work really well together.

I have been feeling a little bit better after being given some medication to sleep but I am still working at fifty per cent of my normal energy levels. This isn't due to lack of activity or going out of the house as I have tried that some weeks and feel just as dead. One thing a heavy fatigue is good for is making you appreciate what you see when you do manage to get out and I certainly appreciate the canal just being by my house and for being beautiful. I don't know where I would cycle safely if it wasn't there as I still can't summon up the courage to cycle on the road. Something to work towards I guess.

Happy making and sunbathing x

PS I managed to get a short story published on a LGBT flash fiction website. It's called 'The Importance of Being Sash' and is about a transgender girl. Hope you like it!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Finished Knitted Cushion

It has taken me 15 months but I have finished my cushion project at last!

This was the yarn my sister spun for me for Christmas 2014. It is so beautiful I just had to knit with it straight away. I launched into a cushion project without working out whether there would be enough yarn to finish.

After a few months I realised I would not have enough so I undid a purple shawl I made a few years ago and re-used the yarn for the back of the cushion. The shawl was lovely and I really enjoyed knitting it but I wore it a few times and the wool sheds a lot onto my coat and just irritates me. Which is sad as I had bought another four balls of in blue for another shawl. I could easily halt that project and make another cushion.

I think it is so special when you receive a handmade gift which someone has spent time making just for you. As you will know if you read this blog regularly - pink and purple is probably my favourite colour combination and I love this cushion so much.

In terms of my health I am still taking things slowly and trying to pace myself with everything. I am still sleeping a lot - on average about 10-12 hours per day and there is constantly pain in some part of my body. It tends to move through different parts of me so I can have a bad headache one day and suffer bad osteoarthritis the next. It turns out the intense pain in my feet was plantar fasciitis which has never healed fully because I have arthritis in my feet and my joints are partially dislocating when I walk. I am still worn out when I walk but I am losing weight from swimming and cycling which will obviously help my pain, but the fact that I am overweight is not the cause of it as I have equal amounts of pain in other parts of my body.

Again, if you have any concerns you may have similar problems to me while reading this please do not hesitate to contact the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome charity who are a massive source of medically approved information.

I am seeing a therapist who helps people with long term health conditions with CBT - it's another form of pain clinic only one-to-one. He is also helping me through coping with my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am also on two different anti-depressants now - one for depression and the other to help me sleep and relieve pain, so things have improved slightly, although I am getting side effects of headaches and intensely itchy hands!

I have nearly finished my crocheted blanket - I have one and a half rows left to do, thirty ends to sew in (I have been sewing them in as I go) and the border to do and then I will have finished this project too!

Have a Happy Easter and I hope you enjoy time spent with your family.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Blood, Sweat and Tears

So, life has changed quite a bit since I last posted on this blog. I am now a disabled girl as I have been professionally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type III. Both diagnoses appeared within a couple of weeks of each other in December giving me some well needed time away from appointments over Christmas to adjust to the news.

None of it came as a surprise as my sister has these conditions but it still didn't prepare me for what was to come.

I had come out of a temporary job in September last year fully expecting to find another one. It was during a job hunting trip to Exeter that I injured my feet. I was wearing-in some DMs and thought they had got to the stage where I wouldn't need plasters. Unfortunately back in September my knowledge of EDS was limited so I didn't realize I had excessively soft skin tissue which blisters much worse than other peoples. So I walked round all day in them. I had so many blisters on my heels that this, in addition to my feet swelling and pushing against the tops of the shoes, meant I tore my feet to shreds and couldn't walk properly for the next three months.

I panicked. I could not get rid of the pain in my feet. My big toe joint was so swollen and sore I couldn't bear to have it touching a bed sheet. Needless to say I couldn't sleep for the pain and ended up spending 12+ hours in bed every day in the run up to Christmas. My GP gave me codeine but it didn't help me to sleep and I only felt worse after it wore off after six hours. I also couldn't imagine myself working whilst on such a strong drug so felt very depressed.

When I finally went for my Rheumatology appointment at hospital I scored 6/9 on the hypermobility test and was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I am now waiting to see a specialist in an EDS-focused clinic at Bath Hospital. I have been given slow release 24 hour pain relief medication which also helps me to sleep so am feeling better although I am still not walking normally.

Ehlers Danlos syndrome is a condition where the joints are hypermobile. Lots of people are hypermobile but don't suffer any problems because of it. Those with EDS do. It's a condition which affects every biological system. In other words it affects everything. I won't go into it here but you can click here for the Ehlers Danlos UK Charity if you or someone you know suffers joint dislocations or chronic widespread pain, severe IBS or heavy unexplained bruising. Please go to your GP as soon as possible if you think you have this as it takes three or four months to get diagnosed and then you may want to see a specialist in London or Bath and that can take a similar length of waiting time. Awareness of this condition is low and the only way my sister found out was through a friend with the same condition informing her. It is very rare at the moment but experts think more people may have it so do have a look at the charity website.

For me the most significant issues relating to EDS are: not being able to swallow properly, losing my voice sometimes, dry eyes, hair fallout, acne, jaw-lock, jaw partially dislocating, brain fog, mouth ulcers, sensitive teeth, eye stigmatism, overproduction of ear wax, food intolerance such as citric acid, overall joint partial dislocations, arthritis, easily bruising, bleeding for longer than usual, longer healing time, nails not connecting properly to nail beds, sweating excessively due to associated condition 'POTS', heart palpitations, muscle twitches and spasms, sickness, nausea, severe indigestion, asthma, eczema, insomnia, chronic pain, fatigue, excessive urine production amongst many others.

When I am work the symptoms which most affect me are the joint pain, sweating, losing my voice and lots of others. I am working with my GP on how to reduce these but as the condition is rare and complex I really need to speak to a specialist with experience of it to truly help. For now the pain relief, powerful deodorant and physio (posture can help with voice loss) through occupational therapy are going to help with the main barriers to feeling well and happy at work in terms of EDS. (Autism at work? That's another story.)

I am very thankful after following a few people with the condition online that I don't have it very severely at the moment. One teenage girl I follow is constantly poorly and spending time in hospital so if you feel able to please donate to the EDS charity. There is also another type of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is also incurable but also fatal. Please be aware I do not have this type as EDS is hereditary and my mother is alive and well at the age of 63! In fact all my relatives have lived to a ripe old age.

I wasn't able to knit at one point because due to the lack of exercise through not walking anywhere I became very lethargic and every joint screamed with pain. It was a vicious circle - the more pain I was in the less I did which caused more pain.

Luckily I was able to get myself motivated to go swimming once a week as I was regularly seeing a clinical psychologist from the autism team who encouraged me a little. After six swims I do feel like my arthritis is improving and my fingers and wrists are ready to craft away!

I have been crocheting my blanket and I have about ten rows left plus the edging to do. It’s very exciting indeed! I've also nearly finished a cushion which I started around the same time as the blanket. So this will be lovely to see finished and together.

Goodness I’ve nearly written a 1,000 word post! I will come back soon to chat again...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Beautiful handspun and yet another syndrome!

The mood to blog has finally arrived again! The excitement, the photos, the words and the urge to express myself all at once!

But the computer won't work. It's really slow and isn't connecting to my camera properly. I'm restarting it but I'll crack on in an email to myself on my phone while it thinks about what is wrong.

Well it's been two weeks of ups and downs again. I received the most beautiful package from my sister after sending her some fibre from Hilltop Cloud to spin. She included some other yarn she had spun in the box which I hadn't expected. It was lovely.

This is the beautiful Alpaca which has been lovingly spun by my sister. Gorgeous. Stunning. Four balls of this.

My sister was diagnosed with Hypermobility EDS type III on the same day as I attended my Autism pre assessment so it's all happening. I have just been to my GP about it as having a sister with it means there is a fifty per cent chance I will have it too. It is genetic but there is no blood test for it. Other types of EDS can be tested for in a laboratory but this one involves asking lots of questions again like Autism so out mum pops with her now familiar A4 notepad.

For my sisters diagnosis she compiled an A4 folder with a complete family history in it which helped her enormously.

EDS is a joint and skin condition. It affects everything from how often you bruise to how your hair comes out of its follicle. It affects your throat. It affects your body temperature. It affects your heart valve. It affects your circulation and your mood. It affects how you digest food and how you feel when walking down the street. Being too aware of your body can make you feel uneasy and anxious and panic attacks are common in those with the syndrome.

It makes your joints click almost constantly. I made the mistake of wearing heels to an interview recently and leant forward in a quiet moment. Everything cracked. Literally every joint in my body. I was stressed out and embarrassed at sounding like a seventy year old. They looked unnerved. I didn't get the job unsurprisingly. Probably because I was so unhappy in my heels. I don't know why I've got it into my head that heels look more professional. They might do on other women but then other women have normal joints.

So anyway it didn't take much of a fight to be referred for a diagnosis. I am off to the hospital soon.

During the past few weeks I have discovered a wonderful video podcaster who lives in England! Hooray!

Along the Lanes is a beautiful wonderful podcast which has really livened up my evenings recently after working in a call centre. She is alive with excitement and adores colour and fibre so much it hurts. She has cool red hair and has a lovely collection of yarn! Beware, she could prove to be addictive...

As you can probably gather I have got the camera to work and my computer is alright. Must save up for another one soon.

I will pop back in another couple of weeks to chat. The crafty mojo is returning and autumn always helps.

Happy knitting...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Summer thunderstorms and a revelation

The sky is a swirling mass of greys, whites and blues with the occasional flash of lightning.

Yes. It's August and I am finally feeling settled enough to write a blog post. It's been a while. My last post was back at the start of May shortly after being told I was being let go just after my first Sherlock convention.

WARNING: It's a long post. Get a cup of tea. I talk about autism.

I've never been made redundant after being in the same place for so long, always either terminating a temping contract myself, being told I wasn't suitable in a temp role or resigning so it was a first experience. I managed a final team meal and drink on my last day which was lovely and mostly managed to keep it all together.

I have been temping since the start of June with just a Friday off before I began agency work. I am now on my third temping role and feel I might be settling in for a few months which is when things will be reviewed again.

I also went back to my GP after going to her in December of last year suggesting I might have mild autism. I felt bolder as a result of being on my medication and seemed to be in the mood to sort things out personally.

This time I spent longer talking to her and refused to budge when the inevitable "but you seem alright. I meet others with worse autism and they don't even know they're autistic" comment arose. I dug my heels in saying my sister had been diagnosed and that a lot of situations seemed to be happening which seemed to align with a classic case of Aspergers syndrome in my work life as well as my personal life. She asked me what I thought a diagnosis would bring and whether I thought it would change things. I answered that my sister seemed to have a much higher understanding of herself and had just got married. I said it had helped me to understand why sometimes we seemed to get wires crossed and be unforgiving, despite an initial period of anger with her after her diagnosis had quelled.

This seemed to work. I spoke positively about my sister and how she had adapted her life and that I was concentrating on staying in work. Sometimes mental health professionals are very sarcastic about the reason why you want a diagnosis. They sometimes think it's an excuse to go off sick from work and go on to benefits so I have been careful to keep all my conversations very work focussed. I am continually seeing examples of how autistic I am demonstrated clearly at work. How people's expectations of me are very high but I get tripped up by bullies, how I can't make small talk, how I feel in a busy office, etc.

So eventually, after six pages of A4 notes had been handwritten about me (my mother prefers to handwrite notes) as a child by my mum and after which autistic traits I had displayed strongly had been listed and handed in, I waited to see what would happen.

I received an appointment for a pre-diagnostic assessment very quickly. They seemed to have a sense of incredible urgency about them. I then attended and have been referred for a full assessment including family members. Strange for someone who doesn't really need a diagnosis, huh?

Anyway, I won't criticise the NHS but I do feel the resistance to give any kind of diagnosis other than a mental health related one is a little shocking. It's all to do with money in my view - receiving it from anti-depressant companies for mental health and having to pay for other diagnoses like autism. Well, sorry if I've cost the NHS money but Aspergers syndrome is so serious it's classed as a disability so **** you.

I thought about writing a post about how you can deal with someone with Aspergers syndrome. If I was neurotypical (someone without autism) I would love that, so here are a few tips:

1. Don't crowd someone with Asperger's. Aspie people tend to like to talk to one person at a time. I need to watch someone's face and body language intently. I can't do this with two or three people. Keeping track of a group conversation is hard. I can manage it but my word it drains me.

2. Don't shout or pop balloons or blow a whistle around an aspie. I find noise tolerable but wearing. Sudden noises are awful. I always know when someone with autistic traits has clued into the fact that I'm sensitive and wants to bully me - they make sudden loud noises. I have been bullied in this way.

3. I like anything repetitive. If we spoke about planes last time we spoke and I liked it then talk about planes again.

4. If I talk about the same subject at length then please try and cut the conversation short politely.

5. Don't be offended if I walk past you without eye contact or saying hi. Please don't think I'm rude. I sometimes don't see the point if we've already said hi or if I only saw you the previous afternoon.

6. Don't touch an aspie. Don't slap my back or place your hand on my shoulders. This has happened to me at work and it really really stressed me out so much.

There is loads of information on the National Autistic Society website. You can also donate through this website. I have had to stay on hold for two hours to speak to someone on their helpline which has changed my life a little.

I have been knitting quite a bit - I'm knitting a present for a friend and am over halfway through the purple cushion knitted with some yarn my sister spun for me for Christmas.

My blanket has been folded up since June - it's cool enough to knit small things but it's a little bit too hefty now. I will start again in September I'm sure.

Thank you for all the support in between posts. Thank you to all my new followers over on Facebook. It's been really nice to feel missed. I will hopefully decrease the distance between posts from now on.

Monday, 4 May 2015


Well it's been five weeks since my last post so I think they're speeding up a little bit! I got a three figure readership which is good considering my lack of words and pics or indeed, regularity.

There have been a few eventful things which have happened in those five weeks. At the top of the list is managing to go up to London for a Sherlock Convention. It was a brilliant day.

I thought I would feel a bit lonely and spaced out in the talks but the whole day was like a blissful dream. My medication held fast so I didn't have any problem sitting in the hall - in fact I was hugely relaxed. A very unusual experience and one I will treasure. It gives me confidence when I sit somewhere I usually panic and feel blissed out. Although of course, staring at Rupert Graves wouldn't make anyone panic! It felt like such a perk to sit amongst such an intimate audience and have him entertain us.

Apologies for the blurry pics - there are more pictures and news from the day in a more coherent form on Cumberbatchweb.

I have been so inspired by the day that I have plucked up the courage to go and see Louise Brealey (Molly in BBC Sherlock) at the Bristol Old Vic at the end of this month. I will be on my own again but I'm sure I won't feel lonely.

I have been getting a little shaky recently as I knew my contract at work was due to finish at the end of May. The team are moving offices halfway through May with me still in it but I got my notice last week. The responses I've received so far have been amazingly positive and I'm quite confident I will find something good soon. Now I have the notice and I'm job hunting I feel quite a lot better, and of course I have the Louise Brealey play to perk me up if I feel down...

I am just over halfway through the rainbow blanket and a quarter of the way through my cushion. I keep folding it because it looks so good when neat. I have used it to cover my legs and fallen asleep happily underneath it a few times.

I recently blogged about my doctor agreeing that I have mild autism but not enough to get a diagnosis. It's amazing just how much of your life it affects. I have joined the National Autistic Society and have been reading about things I didn't even imagine were linked to autism like some autistic people liking the weight of a heavy duvet or blanket at night. I don't quite understand it but I guess I'm one of those people. I'm not sure how I can alter this part of my life in summer. Any suggestions?

I have received a sum total of two writing rejections since I last blogged. I'm a bit sad that each rejection still feels like a boulder falling from a mountain while I have feet of clay. I took a few weeks off from writing, editing and sending out this time so I feel very much refreshed. My latest flash fiction story is about a trans girl and her boyfriend and I'm hoping someone somewhere will like it.

Anyway - I'll be back in a week or so (she says) to update you all with any news.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

You need rain for a rainbow

I have been busy over the two months since I last posted on this blog. I have finished half of the Cottage Blanket designed by the wonderful Attic 24.

Words cannot adequately express how much this comforts me when I sit on the sofa and find it waiting for me to begin crocheting. Through the last two months I have had many ups and downs and have been quite busy at times so the thought that this will be waiting for me when I get home or get off the computer is a very wonderful feeling indeed. I have had a lot of rejection in the last few months but that's inevitable for a writer and I am learning to be thick-skinned. Usually I need a day and then I'm ready to go again.

I have finally had three stories published through the brilliant Womentoring scheme and my ace mentor Vicki Jarrett. The three stories are in the current issue of The Next Review which you can buy for just £4.50!

Last month I attended my sister's wedding which was held at a lovely hotel in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. The room where the ceremony was held looked out onto rolling countryside and was very romantic and happy. I had only been to one wedding before so was quite nervous and didn't know many of her friends but they are all very friendly, interesting and intelligent people so there was nothing to worry about there. I even ended up dancing until 1am. Not like me at all. Wonderful.

So this rainbow is indeed spreading some much needed cheer into my life and the lives of my loved ones!

My sister has started to spin and gave me a lovely hank of hand dyed and hand spun texel wool which has lovely flecks in it and feels nice and tweedy. I love tweedy yarn and it's really soft when knitted up. I launched into knitting a cushion without really thinking about it as I just wanted to knit with it as soon as possible. However, I think there's only enough for one side of a 42 x 42cm cushion. So I will have to think about what I will stitch on the reverse side! Isn't it knitting up beautifully though.

So a great two months overall since I last blogged. I will try and make the time to blog but I'm always tempted to use odd bits and bobs of time to write or submit stories at the moment. I will aim for once a week again though.

Happy British summertime!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

January rainbows

Well...I've well and truly had another blogging break over Christmas and the New Year. Over my two weeks of leave from work I spent a lot of time going for walks, writing, crocheting a blanket...and listening to my Mum cough!

We still managed to have a relaxing break but we didn't manage any proper days out as Mum was feeling poorly and I'm not always very motivated to go off travelling on the trains and buses by myself. So I spent a lot of time listening to beautiful music on Radio Three, Classic FM and Six Music and crocheting.

We went for a few walks and it was nice to have some sunshine on Christmas Day for once so we spent an hour or two in the morning exercising our legs before we sat down for our meal.

I spent a lot of time over the two weeks honing a collection of six stories ready for submission to a formal year-long mentoring scheme which involves two free week-long Arvon writing residentials. I also had to write a one thousand word statement and a page of biography from scratch to go with them. I then had to print four copies of everything. I managed it but it was the most effort I've put into any writing submission since my dissertation ten years ago at university. It was a steep learning curve as I had submitted the stories to my current mentor who provided brilliant and very useful feedback so I felt encouraged to carry on editing.

My Attic 24 blanket was amazing to crochet. After I had got the hang of the simple pattern and I had completed the first two rows I was away and am loving every minute of crocheting it. I'm getting on better with a simple crochet project after work. It helps that it's split into two row segments so I have a limit if I don't want to do much.

Look at all those ends! Like life in general - ends need threading up and securing carefully. I'm sure I'll find them not too bad at the moment as my head is clearer since I went on medication. It may not be for everyone, or a long-term fix due to side effects which tend to irritate after a year (for me personally) but for now it's helping me swing along nicely while I have some uncertainty in my life. It's helped my concentration which has always been an issue - perhaps you can tell from this blog post that I have been able to 'settle' to projects better recently.

I'm having a weekend all to myself at the moment - my Mum is away with my sister at Centre Parcs in a spa as a pre-wedding treat so I have plenty of time to write and crochet. I hope you're having a lovely weekend wherever you are.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cycling and a spot of crochet...

I've been feeling a bit snuffly as a result of fighting off a bug this week so have given myself plenty of crochet time next to my new bluetooth radio which I have told everyone about three times over at least.

I treated myself a few weeks ago to this lovely blanket kit from Wool Warehouse designed by the lovely Lucy from the Attic 24 blog. Lucy has been amazing to read - I found her a couple of months ago and she's really inspired me to forge ahead with colourful crochet. I'm opening this kit on Christmas day (or maybe when I come off work for two weeks from the 20th December!).

We have the Christmas decorations up now and I have finally finished my not-very-taxing task of buying three presents (!), so I am feeling a bit more festive. I plucked up the courage to attend a lunch with some collegues I hadn't met before on Friday which was nice. The three course Thai meal was delicious and it polished off the week nicely. This week I am having another meal through work which will be something to look forward to. As an introvert with a depressive tendency (!) I do find it hard and can come across as aloof and unfriendly but if people are nice and put me at ease I'm usually fairly OK.

I have reached a grand total of 32 crocheted squares for my pink blanket. I was going to branch out into other colours but I just love the two pinks together so have just kept it pink and white. I think some of the squares are a bit skewed at the moment and will need to be blocked before I crochet them together but overall I'm pleased with how pleasurable I'm finding crocheting the same square over and over again.

Last Sunday I went for one of my bike rides along the canal with my mum and it was beautifully sunny. Mum and I have been having lots of discussions about autism lately as a member of my family has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers. I was unsure whether to forge ahead for a diagnosis as my doctor thinks I am only just on the autistic spectrum, obviously thinking my difficulties in life stem from other medical conditions. I am quite prepared to save up and go private to achieve a diagnosis if I can't get one through the NHS as I do feel it affects my life and you are entitled to quite a bit of help and support once diagnosed.

On a happier note I hope you all have a wonderful week of present buying and house decorating. I love this time of year and am looking forward to having two weeks of sleep in's and doing whatever I fancy...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Lazy days...

I had such a lovely day on Sunday...

Finally getting to wear my lovely knitted hat which I finished earlier in the year...

Knitting my Stephen West shawl out of Rowan Felted Tweed DK...

Celebrating Advent Sunday and looking forward to opening the first window on the house (there are now three open of course!)

A walk through the park...

Playing with my camera and sitting thinking and jotting in my notepad on my iPod...

Then finally a lovely walk home watching the sky turn from black...
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