A Fresh Start

Hello everyone!

I am delighted to introduce to you my new pattern - the Fresh Start Hat - just in time for the colder months.  A very quick knit which takes around 150 - 200 yards.

A Fresh Start Hat is a simple unisex design offered in two sizes - Small, to fit child or small adult and Large which will fit a medium to large adult.

Sample shown here is in Small.
S - To fit child or small adult: 22 inches/56cm
L - To fit med/large adult: 24 inches/61cm
22 stitches & 28 rows over 4"/10cm square using US7/4.5mm needles
Worsted Weight yarn (sample knitted in Plucky Knitter Worsted)
150 yards/140 metres for small version
210 yards/195 metres for large version
Double Pointed Needles:
1 set US6/4mm
1 set US 7/4.5mm
OR for Magic Loop:
1 US 6/4 mm 40"/100cm circular needle

1 US 7/4.5mm 40"/100cm circular needle

Find it HERE on Ravelry and don't forget to show me your finished hats - would love to see them!

Who does not love a Pom Pom!

Its that time of year again - yay for SOCKTOBER!!

Hi everyone, so its the 1st October today and you know what that means don't you! SOCKTOBER is upon us!

Last year I did a post on socks you could knit for Socktober (you can find it HERE ) and I really enjoyed putting that post together so I thought I would make it an annual thing and so today I bring you my top 5 (well with full disclosure, actually there are more than 5.....) socks that I am loving for this Socktober!

1. Of course firstly I have to include the fantastic designs by Clare Devine.  Although not part of Socktober because I finished them in September...... you will know if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook that I have knitted the London Skies socks.  These are great socks and I really loved the twisted cable detail which makes the socks INCREDIBLY comfortable.  Knitted in Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4 ply in the colourway Cherry Cola they are my current faves!  London Skies is part of a collection called the Travel Trio which Clare put together on her mammoth move from the UK to Australia and her designs are based the start of her journey to the end. I loved knitting them and I am sure you will too!

Further details are on my project page on Ravelry : Louiseluvsyarn's Red Sky at Night Socks

The e book for three patterns is £7.00 and can be found here on Ravelry

My Red Sky at Night socks

2.  Next is another set of sock patterns from my fellow expat Mina Philipp from the Knitting Expat Podcast.  Believe it or not I first met Mina when she was a newbie knitter and she has gone from strength to strength in an incredibly short time!  Mina is quite famous for the amount of socks she can churn out - I believe she has made about 75 pairs already this year - yes I did get that right!

Anyway Mina has a real talent for taking the plain and simple and making it, well less plain and simple and more wow!

Recently she has published two e books called Beyond Vanilla - and they are exactly that, the next step on from vanilla socks!  Perfect for those people who are new to sock knitting and want to take the next step.  My personal favourites are Riverbend - but there are lots to chose from!

You can purchase individual patterns for $3.00 and the e books are $9.00 for 4 patterns which I think is great value.

Find Mina's Beyond Vanilla 2 collection here on Ravelry

These are Mina's own Riverbends!

3.  Next, if you are looking for something to challenge you a little more, you can find the perfect pair of fancy socks over at Louise Tilbrook Designs.  I featured Louise last year and since then she has published some more fabulous pairs to get your grey matter working - but not working so much that you are driven crazy!

My faves for Socktober are the Malala socks.  I love the pattern obviously but also my son's house system at school recently changed and his house name is Malala.  What an inspiring young lady she is.... Be sure to check out the story of the name on Louise's pattern page

These socks have just the right amount of detail and I adore the little cables.

You can find the Malala socks here on Ravelry and the pattern is £3.30

Louise's Malala Socks

4.  Ok so next is a pattern which is very very new and a fab take on colourwork - this is from the talented Dieuwke van Mulligan.

I love this take on colourwork  - something different - and I currently adore anything which is Ombre!  Reminds me of when I was dancing years ago and we used to make costumes by dip dying leotards and tights with Dylon - it was a long process and the colour pallet was pretty limited but it was great fun!

Hurry over and get the pattern today though because there is 80% off until tomorrow! AND there is a KAL going throughout October so this makes the Dip Dye the PERFECT Socktober sock!

Fabulous Dip Dye!

5.  Finally I have something new for me.....Crochet socks!  Now I have never made crochet socks but when I saw these I thought.....hmmmm why not?  Especially with the description saying that these socks were made for 'Cosy nights in with a good book' - well yes please.......aircon is quite chilly now!!

These socks are from a great new collection called Raw, which has been put together by the Crochet Project - which is Joanne Scrace (of Contour Shawl fame) and Kat Goldin.  There are 6 patterns in the collection - all crochet - all really really wearable!

The socks are called Mamble and remind me of the New Year we spent in Yorkshire a couple of years ago when we rented a tiny little cottage where I could snuggle up around a little wood burning stove - bliss!!

Yummy Mamble!

I hope you found something to inspire your sock knitting this October - now for me to choose........

Finish Line!

Hi everyone and hope you are all ok and safe - our world is becoming a more and more scary place with the events this week in France and Turkey......my heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by these horrors.

I had a wander back through some of my posts and realised that actually I have not shared any finished objects on the blog for a while.  I do tend to post them on Instagram, but its not always easy to give as much information over there (although I do love Instagram a lot!!!)

So firstly I have socks - and really I would not have described myself as a sock knitter, but recently I seem to have finished 4 pairs!!  Earlier I did post a photo on the blog about knitting two at a time socks - well in the spirit of honesty I have to tell you that I did not get on with the two at a time method and I ended up doing them one at a time!

So these first socks of the year are afterthought heels - Let's Get Stripy - and they are knitted in Knit Picks Felice.  I loved the colour way of the yarn, but I think if I use it again I might go down a needle size - I used 2.75mm which is my sock yarn needle of choice, but I would've preferred a tighter fabric so I think going down to a 2.5mm may have helped. Nevertheless these are for me and I am happy with them.  Afterthought heel was done with spare yarn and works ok, although I still manage to have to sew up little holes.....

Let's Get Stripy

Next I actually made a pair of socks to my own design from the fabulous Wollelfe gradient yarn which handily comes ready skeined in two cakes!  I wanted them to be contra matching (well thats what I call it anyway!!!) and originally I wanted to make the pattern face in different directions on each sock - but I think life is a bit too short and I really really wanted these knitted up quickly! Wore them a few times in our 'winter' cuddled up on the sofa with yet more knitting.... The yarn is absolutely fantastic to knit with and I was very pleased with the resulting Which Way Up? socks.  Again I used an afterthought heel with waste yarn.  I have notes I used to knit them, so will write up the pattern when I get a moment.

Which Way Up?

Of course the next pair had to be for Flo - who does love a hand knitted sock - and these are my Candy Cane Socks!  For this I went back to trusty Straycat socks and chose the Candy Cane colour way (hence the name above!) ......so pretty and 'very' Flo!  With a self striping yarn I only use an afterthought heel, if I am not doing contrasting heels and toes, and this time I decided to try and use the steeking method - yes readers I actually CUT my knitting!  This is the first time I have done this in my 30 something years of knitting.....queue the shakes and a large glass of Gin to hand.

Heart stopping moment....

I have to tell you though it was great - much neater and this is now my afterthought heel of choice!

Obligatory cat and yarn photo!

Candy Cane Socks

Finally for the sock marathon I made some more self striping socks and these have to be my current favourite!  These are my Never Forget socks which are knitted in the fabulous West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Cocktail collection and the colour way is Rum Paradise.  I have always wanted to have some rainbow stripe socks and these fit the bill perfectly.  Again I did the afterthought heel with scissors and a slightly smaller glass of Gin!

During the knitting of these, the terrible events of the Orlando shooting happened and these are my small gesture to the LBGT community wherever they are in the world that I am thinking of them.

Now of course I have the entire Cocktail collection in my stash so there will be more socks to come - although I am also wondering if a stripy shawl would be possible.........

Never Forget Socks

So what else apart from Socks???  

I finished my Hitchhiker In Space and Time Shawl - - which I love.  This is such a simple pattern but so effective and its ideal for a hand dyed beauty like the Quere yarns skein I used in colour way Vincent and the Doctor - yes of course I was drawn in by the name...... (and when oh when is the next series of Doctor Who airing?????)  I see many more of these shawls in my life - perfect for stash busting and really potato chip knitting.

Hitchhiker In Space and Time

Finally for the moment I would like to share my Singapore Sling linen t-shirt.  This is made in Shibui Linen - which is a new yarn for me.  Its not terribly soft to knit with but makes a lovely fabric.  The pattern in the Silken Straw Summer Sweater by the Purl Bee.

I got the yarn by mail from A Yarn Story in Bath - my adopted LYS! I only ordered 3 skeins and if I had stuck to the pattern I would definitely not have had enough yarn!  So instead I made a number of amendments and I am so very pleased with the outcome.  This is going to be a wardrobe staple on our upcoming trip to Singapore and Malaysia (only 2 weeks away now....eeek!)  The yarn is perfect for our climate here in the UAE and there are some lovely new colour ways so I think it would be certainly be something I am going to use more in the future.

Singapore Sling Tee

 Wow so thats quite a few FO's for me - all in all since the beginning of the year I have made 12 items and that whilst working on my blanket is quite impressive for me.  A few of these I have not shared since they are designs I am working on.  I think its good sometimes to reflect on your making and realise just how creative you are even if you think you are not!

Enjoy the week!


PS even more detail on each project with a link to patterns is available on my Ravelry projects pages which I have linked to each FO :)

Top Tips for Newbie Lace Shawl Knitters

  1. Don’t panic! If you can conquer a knit and a purl stitch then you already know how to do lace!

  2. Lace does not necessarily need to be done on tiny needles with fine laceweight yarn - for a beginner it’s a good idea to think about using 4ply or even sport or DK. Whilst Laceweight can look beautiful and drape like clouds, a bright 4ply sock yarn with 4mm needles can look just as stunning. You do need circular needles though - don’t try and knit a shawl on straight needles - trust me! Ideally you want at least a 100cm cord (which should come with an interchangeable set or if you prefer fixed circulars, make sure you have some 4mm in your collection - they are really useful)

  3. For a first lace pattern, my recommendation would be to chose something which has its lace pattern on one side only eg lace pattern on one side and a purl row on the second. Are you more comfortable with a chart? For a beginner I would suggest a pattern which has charts and corresponding written instructions as I have done on the Lantern Shawl - you may find you prefer a chart or you may prefer to stick to written instructions - there is no right or wrong here!

  4. Chose your shape - for a beginner I would suggest a triangular or half moon shape with a simple border.

  5. Think carefully about your yarn - some yarn is better suited to lace than others and certainly I would not suggest you use a fine kidsilk mohair for your first lace project - it can look beautiful, but for a first timer may cause you some problems.  HOWEVER I recommend finding a skein of yarn that you absolutely love. Something a little luxe, which you are going to adore on every stitch. Find your favorite colour or a something which is really going to complement your wardrobe.

  6. Swatch……. You can practice your lace stitches over a swatch - just make it big enough for 3 or 4 repeats of the lace pattern plus a couple of edging stitches - for instance the Diamond Lace pattern on my Lantern Shawl is worked over 10 stitches and a 10 row repeat - so cast on 44 stitches and knit two stitches at each end, and 4 repeats of the pattern and knit for 20 rows.  This will give you an idea of the fabric you will create.  You might be happy with the drape, or you might wish to wash and block it - but whichever way it’s a great way to practice.

  7. Stitch markers - if you feel comfortable with stitch markers these can be a great way of identifying pattern repeats and centre stitches.  My first lace shawl was Ishbel by Ysolda Teague and I can tell you I had so many stitch markers my knitting positively jangled!  I tend not to use them so much now, but they can be a lifesaver for beginners or at least in the first few rows until you get comfortable with the pattern.

  8. Speaking of lifesavers…...Lifelines!  Yes these are a good idea - too many times I have had to tink back 4 rows of over 200 stitches and kicked myself hard for not having a lifeline!  The idea is to get to a point to which you can rip back to confidently and re-start from there, so at the beginning of a section for instance. There are a number of ways to put in a lifeline, but my favorite is to use the little holes where my interchangeable needles are fixed and slip through some dental floss and just knit along and the lifeline will go in behind you .  You can use cotton or other yarn, but I find the floss is easier to work with and also smells nice!  If you don’t have interchangeable needles with a hole then you can easily wait until the end of a row and thread through with a darning needle.

  9. To block is to bloom…… there have been a few occasions where I have finished knitting a laceweight shawl and to be frank it’s looked like an old rag!  Soak your shawl, roll in a towel to get out the excess water and pin out very carefully, making sure to pin out points if you have or like them.  I have recently bought some blocking wires and they have been great for getting a really even edge.  Blocking is not a quick job - get a cup of tea - your favorite playlist on Spotify and then take your time - it really is worth it in the end!

    My Swallowtail shawl looked pretty awful in the knitting!

    But look how it bloomed!

  10. Show Off!  There is nothing better to show off to your non knitting friends and family than a lace shawl - they cannot help but be impressed! Then cast on the next one, because my friend you are now a shawl knitter and it’s addictive!

Lantern Shawl is Back!

So I am delighted to present the Lantern Shawl!

If you go back through many many posts on this blog you will find that way back when I was asked by Jocelyn of Dubai Knits to put together a design which would reflect the Lanterns of the Philippine Lantern Festivals.

I worked on that thought and came up with the Lantern Shawl - all ready to go to Jocelyn to be released with her funky yarn for the December Dubai Knits yarn club.

However disaster struck and I knocked my Mac onto the floor (we have marble floors here in the UAE!!) and managed to smash the hard drive!  I lost everything because my Time Machine also decided to crash, so I ended up having to re-write the pattern in some haste!

For me it was never quite perfect and indeed those people who knitted it had some issues with the edging and whilst there are some lovely projects already on Ravelry, I was not happy.

Roll on a few years and I have FINALLY re-written the pattern into a format which I am happy with. I have amended the edging to make it more user friendly and have now knitted the Lantern Shawl 3 times!

The last and best version is in Madelinetosh Light in the colour way Kitten and I am very pleased with it.  The drape of the yarn is simply gorgeous and the colour sways between a pale brown and a browny grey depending on how it catches the light!

So to celebrate the re-release I am going to make the new revised Lantern Shawl pattern FREE for the first 48 hours!  Please use the code LANTERN0716 when checking out on Ravelry. After the initial 48 hours it will be available for $5.

For those who have already downloaded the original version, I will be sending out an update and I hope that if anyone has started to knit and then frogged because of the edging issues that you might try again!

Never tried lace before? Then come back to my next blog post where I will share some tips and tricks!

Exciting Times

I am very happy to announce that finally my Lantern Shawl pattern will be re-released tomorrow!

I have worked hard on this to make it the best it can be and iron out the errors - ok they were only small but they bugged me!

Its re-written to enable knitters to follow along easily with lots of stitch counts and details row by row.

Come back and visit tomorrow and you can get the Coupon Code which will be available for 48 hours to download the pattern for free.

If you have already downloaded the original version I will be sending you the replacement pattern for free!

I am so grateful for the support of the knitting community who have given me the push up the backside to get me confident enough to put my designs back out there!!

Crochet on the Big Screen

I am always on the look out for handmade treasures on our screens and this week I have an absolute favourite - which is of course crochet!

This beautiful crochet cardigan is featured in the film Bright Stars which cam out in 2009 and stars Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw and follows the love story between the Poet Keats and Fannie Brawne.

I love Ben Wishaw and his quite unique style - he makes the most fabulous M in James Bond!

From the first time I saw this I was in love with the style and the story - and of course me being a History Nerd and lover of textiles, this film was sure to be a winner for me!

The costume designer, Australian Janet Patterson went to the fabulous Sophie Digard for this piece which is a masterpiece in delicate crochet.  If you have not come across Sophie's work before then I strongly urge you to check her out - frankly her items elevate crochet to a work of art and rightly so her pieces are very expensive and very collectable. Sadly I don't have any!!!

Sadly the film is not currently available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video - so for the time being its only available to buy on DVD - but if you love History, Textiles and a love story - its for you!

Add caption

Moving to the Dark Side!

Crochet is back in my heart!

So no I am not moving house - and with the turmoil in the UK at the moment I am not sure when I will be making it home!

No, I am talking about Crochet!  The other side of the fibre artists brain!

My sister taught me to crochet many years ago and I was quite adventurous at first - even made myself a pretty crochet blouse from a Phildar pattern with fine cotton and a small hook - took me months but I was very proud of it.  I have a photograph of my much younger self wearing it - which will stay firmly hidden for the time being.

Anyway as a first love knitter I have not really done much crochet over the years - the odd granny square and once I made some crochet headbands but thats about it.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself ordering on a whim the Last Dance on the Beach Crochet Along blanket kit by Scheepjes!  There is a lot of background to the CAL which I won't go into detail about here - you can read all about it on their website - but I felt drawn to the concept and as Flo had already decided that the blanket would be perfect for her new student house - my fate was sealed....

So each week I have been following along and crocheting four 18x18cm squares - which will come together and make the blanket.  I chose the 'Last Dance in the Rain' colour combination in the Colour Crafter yarn which is acrylic - and yes I know I don't often do anything in acrylic - but firstly my purse is rather shallow since I lost my job and secondly - this is going into a student house........  I have seen the luxury merino kits and part of me wishes I could have stretched to that - but again THIS IS GOING INTO A STUDENT HOUSE!

I did however treat myself to some new hooks and went for the Clover set with soft handles - I love them, very well worth the money.  I got them on offer for AED220 (heaven only knows what that is in £ now as I watch it currently free fall) but I reckon about £40 - which is probably more than the UK but I got them in the UAE so no delivery charge to pay!

My crochet skills have improved 100% since the start of the CAL - my stitches are much neater and whilst I will admit that most of the time I have watched every second of each weeks video tutorial - I have learnt such a lot.  Some squares I found more difficult than others - and often the ones which I thought looked next to impossible have turned out to be my favourites. The only thing that saddened me in the whole process was some of the comments on the Facebook page - whilst most people were excited to share their work and ask questions there were a few people who were downright nasty - there is no place for that in our craft and I for one am fully supportive of the moderators kicking them out - imagine Trolls in a Crochet project which is supporting mental health awareness...... unbelievable!

As I write we only have 2 more weeks of squares to do before we start the fun of putting them all together.  And I could not get past this week without mentioning the lovely Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch who designed this weeks square - looked easy, but was deceptively tricky!! But thankfully as I said my crochet has got a lot neater and that helped a lot!

Since I started the CAL I have also made Florence a 'Festival' Top and am planning a crochet shawl as my holiday project - yep I am truly in love with my crochet again!

This is my colour way (with a few changes due to unavailability of shades - photo courtesy of Scheepjes website

Some of my works in progress......

Mindful 15

Hello everyone and hope that in this week of absolute horror you have been able to find time to sit down and relax with your crafting.

I started writing this blog with an absolute rant about the death of MP Jo Cox - but this is no political blog so its sitting in my drafts until one day I feel calm enough to delete it!

Some of you will know that the last few weeks have been a bit tough for me health wise.  This time it's not one big issue but rather 'Death by a Thousand Cuts'!  Lots of little things have gone south and resulted in my feeling pretty down and despondent.  Now like lots of people when I am down I turn to food as a treat - but certain foods for me make my symptoms worse - not to mention the extra KGs that my poor kidney has to cope with - so what else can I do to keep my mind free of gremlins?

Well obviously there is my knitting and crochet but I am now at the stage where knitting comes so naturally to me that I can knit and re-write the telephone book in my head whilst I am doing it!  I love sewing too but of course its not always easy to sew 'off the cuff' as it were (and excuse the pun!).

So I got to thinking that 15 minutes is an optimum time....... think 'Lean in 15' which has been tremendously successful with both menus and workouts which take just 15 mins!  15 minutes seems long enough to do something - 10 just a bit too short and 20 starts looking like half an hour!! ha ha!!

I have been studying Dementia a little in the last year or so as my Father has early stage Dementia and my Grandmother (his mother) had it pretty severely in her last 15 or so years.  I will do anything I can to keep my mind active and keep any signs of Dementia away (on the plus side my maternal Grandmother lived to 98 and was as sharp as a button right to the end!!!).  So one thing which is good for our brains is to learn something new - and a lightbulb struck - which don't I try something new for 15 minutes everyday?

I have many colouring books my kids have brought me in recent years - but I wanted something more than colouring.....and in any case some of those Mandalas will take hours and hours to complete!

So this week I have been dedicating some time - well 15 minutes at a time of course - to learning to do Origami!  Each piece of Origami is different and there are literally thousands of different things to make.  I found some papers at Lakeland of all places and set my timer - I have done two so far!

This is a 'water bomb' which is a cute little box - not sure exactly how watertight it would be but the construction was interesting!

A Swan - fairly traditional simple Origami

So I am going to start my own #Mindful15 - why don't you join me!! Won't just be Origami - but lots of new things, have bought some brush pens for some lettering, some tissue paper for flowers, maybe some little cross stitch or a quick new recipe - the idea really is to finish something each time and not add it to the basket of WIPS - because thats the opposite effect of what I'm after - don't need any more UFO's haunting me in my sleep!

If you do join me then please use #Mindful15 on your Social Media (I'll mainly be using Instagram) and let me know how you get on


Adventures in Dying

Hi everyone - and despite the title I am doing ok!

Following my last rather inner facing post, I have been trying to get over yet more medical setbacks and insurance woes - but you know life has to go on and whilst I would rather not jump over the seemingly endless set of hurdles I get put in front of me - I am able to still jump over them!  Might take me two or three attempts but I still have the energy to make the leap - so I must be ok!

Anyway...... I am really keen at the moment to take the time I have now to learn some more skills - and learning new skills is good for the brain (more about that in my next post!).

So..... I have been spending time on You Tube learning to dye yarn!  Its something I have wanted to do for a very long time and have either not had the time or had no clue where to start.

A little while ago I had made a feeble attempt to dye some lace weight yarn with Koolaid and to be honest the colour was a little 'washed out' so I had thrown the two skeins to the back of the cupboard and declared them a failure!

A few trips to Spinneys (our version of Waitrose) for some Wiltons food colouring and another trip to Daiso (fabulous Japanese store where honestly you did not know you needed the things they have - or even that they existed, but you need them so badly...) where everything is 7AED (that used to be £1 - but the £ has fallen so much against the AED now that its technically a 'Pound and a Bit' store now!) to stock up on utensils - and I was set!

Lots of goodies in my kit now!

So my first foray into Hand Dying was going to be using the microwave and I set about following the instructions to the letter:

1.  Prepare work surface with plenty of cling wrap!

Its all in the Prep!

2.  Lay insipid pink yarn on the cling wrap! This had been soaked in citric acid first rather than vinegar as there is no smell - over here in the Middle East its called Lemon Salt!

Fresh from the Acid bath - this insipid colour had to go!

3.  Have fun with the colours!  I mixed up a few different shades of pink and blue - but of course I was putting that onto already pink yarn so the colours took on a life of their own - and you know I loved that - just like playing with colours as a kid - you never know what you are going to get!

Think I've got it all covered here!

4.  I wrapped up the yarn like a huge German sausage and set about putting it into the microwave

Lunch anyone?

5.  once the yarn was 'cooked' I carefully got it out and so happy that I had created a colour way which was perfect for our family Football Team - West Ham United!

6.  Even happier when I wound the skein into a ball that the colours had come out beautifully and I have named the colour way 'Farewell Boleyn' - which I don't expect you to understand unless you are a 'Hammer', but the club is moving away from its original stadium in Boleyn Road to be housed in what was the Olympic Stadium for London 2012 - and its kind of a big deal!

A couple of days later I attacked the other skein and this time I used some of the Acid Dyes I got from Knit Picks and tried to do a little bit of speckling, but I had a bit of a heavy hand and it was more 'blobby' than 'speckle'.  But again the yarn wound into some pretty cakes, and this is going to end up being my first crochet shawl and my holiday project when we are off to Singapore and Malaysia later in the summer!

Just call me Mr Blobby

I'm not sure I am the next big thing in Indie Dying but I loved this process and will definitely dye up some more.

At a Crossroads

Well Hi everyone and I did not realise it had been such a long time since I blogged last!

You might think that I had been involved in many things and had many achievements in the last 2 or 3 months - but in truth I haven't and in all honesty I feel a bit frustrated.

My main issue has been that despite my finding a superb new Doctor and feeling really confident about him and my new treatment plans - my husbands employers have had to change their health insurance (at the Health Authority request), which has resulted in not only my not being able to see my new Doctor, but also having to pay around £150-200 per month on my medications - you know the ones that keep me alive!  Now we are lucky enough to be able to afford that amount, but imagine if we could not..... there are a lot of people now refusing some crucial medications because its too expensive for them - which is shocking.  All this because (and of course its not just this country, its pretty much everywhere..) people claim on health insurance for paracetemol, vitamins and all manner of cheap over the counter drugs which has led to those with chronic conditions like me, having to fork out a fortune or - and there is no easy way to put this when you need anti rejection drugs on a daily basis - die! So I am now trying to find a new consultant (and having found the very best, coming down from that is hard - I surely deserve the best Healthcare I can don't I??).  I can only hope that enough people like me have raised their voices so that the insurers and the pharmacies can do something about the imbalance.....

I have also been diagnosed with Oesteoporosis - and yes I managed to get diagnosed with another thing to add to my long list of things which fate, for some unknown reason, sees fit to pass on to me AGAIN!  Now of course I will live with that and get on with everything as I usually do but I really really REALLY have had enough now.......

These things along with a couple of interviews for jobs where no one even has the decency to come back to you with a 'thanks but no thanks' or a 'sorry you did not get the job for 'x' reason' (why does this happen now, as an HR professional I would always get back to someone with feedback and results..........) - has given me a dip in confidence again.

The only thing that keeps me going in all this is my family and my craft.  However as much as I love my craft I am now losing confidence with that too!  I see lots of people making a success of their own businesses and moving forward.  I have recently designed 5 patterns but don't have the confidence to put them out because I am paranoid that there will be something wrong with them - or in the case of one of them, a lovely designer I know has just put out something very similar and I lose sleep at night thinking she will think I have copied her.........and these things are just irrational.

So I am thinking that maybe its time to shake things up a bit - I don't know how, but that 7 year itch is needing a big scratch!  I am desperate to go back the UK and I am sure my husband is sick and tired of hearing it!  At the moment though its not the right time and we could really do with staying another 2 years.  I don't want to go back to Corporate life again, but I do know that I need to feel a sense of achievement and I just don't know what that looks like!!

I have made a Bucket List and I have made a list of things I love ....... thats a start.  Now I need to step out of the comfort zone and look at what the next chapter in my life needs to bring!!

Wish me Luck!


Weekend Work......

I had a quiet weekend this week!  I went to a new Renal doctor on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Cleveland Clinic.  Firstly the hospital is like a gallery - just beautiful and tranquil!  Secondly the Doctor was fantastic and for once knew what he was talking about and I did not have to remind him what tests I needed, and we had a good talk about the life of my kidney, new drug treatments and most importantly how he can keep me alive for as long as possible!  Yes I know that might be a bit moribund - but most transplant recipients do not die as a result of their transplanted organ failing - they die because other illnesses such as cancer, are much more easy to develop (and I am a point in case there!).  So for me its now all about how I can keep myself as healthy as possible and how I can balance out the drugs that I have to take with the side effects that have potentially fatal outcomes for me, e.g. one of the anti rejection drugs I currently take has now been shown to give you an increased risk of getting cancer. Anyway although it may not sound like it, my visit was really positive!

On the less positive side though he insisted that I get an immediate Flu and Pneumonia vaccine.  Yes, ok that was fine, go ahead I said.  Hmmm..... mild side effects it said on the paperwork!  Nope -I have had the most rotten cold for the entire weekend and a dry cough which is driving me insane - these vaccines better be pretty darn good!

So I sat on the sofa most of the weekend with a box of tissues, lemsip, cough medicine, iPhone and knitting!  I had one mishap when I went to answer the door to the gardeners (finally getting rid of the sand for some fake grass) and when I came back Roscoe had kindly unwound my sock yarn for me - he was in big trouble - but look at the face.......

Sorry Mum!

Anyway I have cast on 2 at a time socks and I am following the pattern from the lovely Mina Phillip - who is one of our Knitting Amiras and also hosts the Knitting Expat Podcast - which is very popular on You Tube!  I tried 2 at a time once before and it was a disaster - but Mina's method of doing the cuffs separately really seems to work! Yarn is Knit Picks Felici - which was gifted to me by my good friend Claire (whom I introduced to knitting a couple of years ago!).  Anyway so far so good and with some mindless Netflix watching (Peaky Blinders......) I have made some good progress - which is more than I can say for the shawl I am designing - had to tink back 6 rows of that - which did not really go with a head full of cotton wool!!  So have a go at two at a time and tell me what you think!!

Note the re-wound skein on the right!!!!

PS don't forget to come over and find me on Anchor!


Hi - Hope everyone is doing well this week!

I have made my first pair of Knickers!  So so so much fun!

We have a lady here in Abu Dhabi who teaches small groups and I went along to learn how to make knickers - and it was a hoot!

Actually they are a quick and fun project and the fabulous thing is that you can make them out of all sorts of fun material and they only take one fat quarter.

I will admit to having some issues with the elastic - I was not stretching it quite tight enough - but for my first try I was pretty pleased and I can see more of these in my future.

I also promise this will be the first and last time I show you my Knickers - ha ha!!!

Pebble Beach

I have just finished my Pebble Beach Shawl and I am so pleased with it!

This is the second shawl I have made designed by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade and I am again really amazed how she manages to make such a simple design work so well!

The yarn is from the lovely Jocelyn at Dubai Knits and is a skein I won in our recent meet up where we had a 'lucky dip' and I was especially lucky to get this skein of 100% Superwash
Merino 4ply in the Skinny Jeans shade.

My plans for this year are to make things for me that I will actually wear!  Since I am not working, my day to day 'winter' wardrobe is very much made up of blues (well jeans!), greys and black.  My current favourite brand is Eileen Fisher and I am leaning towards her casual looks for the daytime - trying not to fall into the sweat pants and old t shirt hole!!!  So this colour way is perfect for me.

If you are looking for a quick knit (if you knit the small size as I did!) and something which is very satisfying then I would thoroughly recommend the Pebble Beach - but I am not on my own - there are currently 1549 projects on Ravelry!!!!

Helen's pattern is easy to follow and the % system works really well!

My craft room has its own little bathroom so perfect for soaking knits

Pinning the picots out took a bit of time

Totally worth the blocking though!

Extremely rare selfie wearing my Pebble Beach!

Don't forget to check out my Anchor wave, where I talk about my shawl as well!!