:: A diagnosis ::

Firstly I want to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes as I have been recovering, for supporting my little Facebook page and for helping to cheer me up with pictures, posts and news. So  I felt it only right to make a short but informative post. I have been very ill for over 3 months now, steadily getting better and slowly coming to terms with the diagnosis I have now got. A definite diagnosis. I have Addison’s Disease. addisons It makes sense now; not recovering from coughs, colds, developing Pneumonia with any chest infection, my asthma worsening rapidly and needing steroids in large does to enable my body to begin to climb back up. A diagnosis definitely helps. sea What it really means is that I am not making Cortisol so I have adrenal insufficiency. As well as having acute asthma and being hypothyroid, for which I take daily medication, I’m taking hydrocortisone 4 times a day to replace what my body isn’t making and it’s like being given a shot of energy and enthusiasm that brightens my world around me. I cannot tell you just how much the world comes into focus once the medication is taken. It’s like jump leads that kick me out of bed on a morning, they pull back the fog that takes over my brain, it gives me back the desire to try new things and the hope to see them through. You see, I haven’t even had the energy to crochet; although I finished my poncho (which I will get my blog post completed for), I have begun some projects, my heart blanket, and a hexagon scarf that have stalled a bit whilst I slept between eating and trying to get back to work. weekend hearts

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But the positive news and outlook is that I am not and will not let this take over my life. I will continue to do the things I love, including my full time job as Deputy Head teacher in a wonderful primary school. Yes it is demanding, and it has been oh so tough these last few months, but now I’m medicated I can get back to normal. A new normal; one with energy and hopefully involves evening s of wonderfully, colourful and creative hooky… not falling asleep at the drop of a hat!

I’m already working on a beautiful blanket, the pattern from Little Doolally, retro baby blanket for a colleague in school who is expecting her first child. I’m loving the crisp cotton, glazed colours and the combinations of the Drops Muscat yarn. It’s so lovely.

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I know I’m now on the road to recovery and it feels great. It will be a long while to get the dosages right, to understand how to self inject, to get to grips with exercising and dosing… It all needs time and thinking through. But I have a way forwards. It is life changing, but being positive, I know that I have wonderful family, friends and support to help me get back on my feet. I have a bright, colourful, crochet future ahead. Who knows what might happen now! :0) xxxxxxxx

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:: Getting out::

It’s been a strange two weeks: being ill, recuperating, readjusting and letting my body heal has been a difficult process. Being stuck in the house, too cold to go out side for my fragile lungs and airways, not having the energy to put on my boots, round after round of Doctor’s and Asthma Clinic visits, has now passed. So with oxygen and energy levels up and  feeling remarkably light this morning, I decided I was getting out. I went for a walk in the village.

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I put on my super snug Merrell boots, I love them so much, and my Toft Alpaca knitted hat (bought the kit at Yarndale), took my inhaler, wrapped myself up and there was no stopping me!

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It is such a dark, grey and damp kind of day here in The Lake District. Not the beautiful, snappy, crackly frosty days we’ve had of late. But it felt so good to have the fresh air in my lungs and to feel the cool air on my face.20150212_112119

I loved seeing the colours and textures of the hedgerows and the vibrant lichens and moss that are everywhere at the moment.

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The clouds looked ominous, but I trundled on, past the cow sheds, the new house being built (wow that has really come on!) and through the farm yard up the hill.20150212_111457

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I loved getting out- it started my creative mind working again, thinking of colour combinations, patterns and shapes.

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It reminded me of what I have missed- February! Cold, dark, grey, damp February. Or most of it.

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So backhome for a treat, coffee and homemade Coffee, Banana and Cardamon cake. I made this cake the other day – I was a bit naughty because I tore the page out of a Country Living Magazine at the Doctor’s surgery whilst waiting for one of my many appointments. It looked and sounded so delicious and with my tired and jaded appetite I thought it would be a great pick-me-up. I was soooo right! I’ve written it up for you here.

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So now feeling triumphant and refreshed (and a teensy bit shattered- well a lot actually) it is time to have a rest. I’m loving  the start of my Simply Crochet Simone Francis Poncho from issue 25. You can get the pattern here if you don’t have the magazine and I got my Drops Nepal yarn from Wool Warehouse. They are absolutely brilliant at getting your yarn to you super duper quick! So I’m off to have another round or two before lunch. Oh it was good getting out, I’ll be off for another walk tomorrow I think. :O)xxxxx

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::Coffee, Banana and Cardamon cake – Country Living Magazine::

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I was recently at the Doctor’s and being a bit naughty, I tore this recipe out of the magazine.

20150212_124854It was a Country Living magazine from April 2014, and the cake looked and sounded so good I thought I’d give it a Gluten-free and Dairy-free try!

Here is the recipe that I made.

225g raisins

150ml Hot strong coffee

2 tablespoons of French Brandy (I use Sainsbury’s value and it’s fine)

110g sunflower dairy-free margarine (I use Pure)

140g Dark brown Muscavado Sugar

1 teaspoon of crushed cardamon seeds (about 15 pods)

2 medium eggs

2 ripe bananas (180g peeled weight)

225g Self raising Gluten -free flour (I use Dove’s farm)

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing

275g icing sugar

2 teaspoons strong coffee diluted in hot water

I soaked the raisins in the brandy and hot coffee for  about 4 hours. Mix the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, slowly add the eggs (beaten) and spoonfuls of flour until well mixed.Add cardamon seeds then bananas. Add bicarbonate of soda then the raisins and their liquid. I used a 23cm square tin, like a tray bake tin, and lined it with baking parchment.

20150210_162615Pop all of the batter into the tin, it was quite loose but spread well. I baked it in the top oven (roasting) of my Aga, about 180c/200c. It only took about 35 minutes and I checked it after 25 minutes and gave it  a half turn to even up the colouring. I skewered the centre and when it was a lovely golden colour and the skewer came out clean I put it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Then for the icing. I mixed the coffee granules with some hot water, not much just enough to mix the icing sugar into a thick but moveable paste.

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I cut the cake into  16 squares about 2 inches square.

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It’s absolutely delicious with a lovely cup of proper coffee (as my mum would say!) A great pick-me-up and so very moist. A real treat. :O)xxxxxx

::Hexagon happiness::

Oh how much happiness can there be in a little hexagon of crocheted loveliness? Well a lot actually! Whilst waiting for my new yarn to arrive from Wool warehouse for my Simply Crochet poncho project (a bit of a filler whilst I recover – see here), I decided to extend the glorious colourfulness I enjoyed with my Cosy Ripple Blanket and make something with the teensy weeny bits and bobs left over.20150206_102645So hexagons it is! Oh and how much hexagon happiness I am enjoying.hex 2Something I’ve never tried before is the join as you go- which is AmAzInG!!! I love it – it grows and grows so cleverly. I have been careful where to place the motifs though, so that the colours are even and random.20150209_16250120150206_102615Here is how I make my hexagon motif: I started off with a chain of 4 slip stitches together in colour A. Then join colour B, and chain 3, 1 treble into the ext space, chain 1 then 1 treble into the next space until there are 12 trebles. Join to the 3rd space of the chain and change to colour C. Chain three (this counts as the first treble) then I’ve made 3 trebles into each space around the little circle and then close with a chain into the 3rd space on the first ‘treble’. Next, chain three and slip stitch into the space at the end of the first treble set, chain three again and repeat all the way round until back at the 3 chain. Then using the same colour, treble 3 into the space made under the chain, chain 2 then 3 trebles into the same space again. This forms a corner. Then 3 trebles into the next space under the next chain, then make a corner again into the next 3 chain space along. Keep going all the way round until you have 6 sides and corners!

20150209_162439Ta- dah! A hexagon! I had a peep at this very handy “how-to’ guide over on Tangled Yarns. It will help to see the really clear pictures of how to join.20150209_162423Also – I’m picking my motif colours totally at random! As long as it’s not already in the motif I’ll use it. This has made for some surprisingly good colour combos, and some that have been ‘ok’. But I said I’d do it randomly so I have stuck to it, as difficult as it has been sometimes. Still deciding what I’m going to make. Might make a shawl-like scarf, a table runner or an end of bed runner to keep mine and J’s feet warm in this cold spell we’re having. But for now I’m enjoying the hexagon happiness rhythm and flow. Pop back soon, :O)xxxxxxx

::Ta-Dah! Cosy Ripple Blanket::

20150204_121725I’m so happy to be revealing this lovely Cosy Ripple blanket to you, I’ve worked hard on it now since mid November and I’m delighted with the results, so here goes with the run through!

The design process for me is SO important when ever I am working on something of my own idea and I find it difficult to start without a clear direction. This project all started wen I saw 5ftinf on Lucy @Attic24‘s blog page and I was captured by the beautiful simplicity of her arrangements. I call them arrangements as I’m not sure what else to call them – they are a wondrously, colourful collection! So I went and made my own – foraging for the colours and textures of Autumn, my locality, the ones that made me smile and sigh. I was pretty chuffed with my results.

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Then came the rummaging through the stash, I had lots of Stylecraft Special Dk  from the Wool Warehouse left over from other projects and I had bought a Lucy pack (the one with 17 colours in it) so I had plenty of colour inspiration to go with. The colours I chose were:

Meadow• Teal• Plum• Clematis•Copper•Clover•Spice•Claret•Walnut•Lime•Denim•Pomegranate• Khaki•Camel•Emperor•Wisteria•

I played around with them, the different combinations and the light and shade. It is important to see how the colours look in tones just as much as the colours and hues. I decided to do just one row in each colour in that order.

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So with my little pegs of wonder ready- I began the whole process of my Cosy Ripple.

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I knew the length I wanted it to be, to cover the seat in Elsie my new caravan, so promptly started with 212 foundation chains + 3 for turning. That would give me 53 sets of a 4 stitch ripple. I followed Lucy’s neat ripple stitch – no point in reinventing the wheel!
ripple 5It grew and it grew and it grew. The ripple stitch has such a calming rhythm.

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ripple 3And it grew! The colours beginning to blend, mix and form a repeat that I love.

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Then it was time for those ends and contemplate the edging.

endsI made two half trebles into each of the spaces along both edges of the blanket, into each stripe. They form little ‘v’ shapes. I used the same colour as I had started and ended the blanket in this case Khaki.

20150130_170626So that the blanket was balanced all round, I then edged it in a simple single half treble, firstly in Claret and secondly in Clover. At the corners I made 2 half trebles, then chain 2, then two half trebles again. This gave me a neat crisp corner.

20150204_121636So here are the glamour shots!! The light was so lovely and clear today in the kitchen that I decided to work a number of poses, just to show off! I make no apologies for how much I adore the colours, the simplicity and the drape of this blanket. I am thrilled.

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20150204_121805Happy• Happy• Happy•. :O)xxxxxx

 

::This time of year::


tulipsIt’s official, my body doesn’t like Winter! I always find this time of year, January and February so very difficult to keep well, despite my best efforts and goals. I am mindful of all the environmental factors which affect me. I don’t indulge in heavy glutenous and dairy laden foods over Christmas, I eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and I take my medication. However, it is always with disappointment that I find myself needing to heal myself yet again in the cold, dark winter months. My asthma, hypothyroid and allergies just don’t like this time of year.

IMG_20141228_131420328_HDRIn an effort to try anything to stay as healthy and energised I feel in the warmer summer months, I have turned to a variety of forums, books, websites and articles on keeping well at this time of year. I know I’m not alone in this. I have reduced my processed sugar intake, I’m careful about everything I eat, I take my medication, I do yoga daily (morning and night) to help me wake and sleep, and along with a 45 minute commute, I have a demanding full time job as a Deputy Head teacher and Year six class teacher that I love and I’m actually pretty good at! Family, friends and my craft interests keep me sane and support me. I am very lucky.

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Still, it got me, whatever IT is? An asthmatic trigger on the train? A day in an air conditioned conference room? A virus from one of my lovely school children? I have no idea. All I know is I cannot breathe and my doctor is concerned saying my asthma is “acute and brittle.” More tests and X-rays to determine the “picture”.

So what to do now…? I’m determined not to close myself up and hide away just in case I am triggered by anything. Of course, I’m sensible, I avoid as much as possible any areas I know affect me; oil, petrol, paint, sprays, perfume, dust, dogs, dramatic changes in temperature, coughs, colds and bugs. But It is very difficult to avoid them all and  want to lead a normal life doing the things I love, make me happy and fulfil me.

The answer is rest, eat well, sleep lots and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns all the way from Season 1, I love Amazon Prime! Oh and crochet- yes how could I forget? Watch the snow falling outside; the way the light changes, the landscape blanketed in a white, wooly covering.

So I won’t feel sorry for myself, it’s this time of year. I’ll complete my Ripple blanket, the rhythm of the ripple echoing my loud, shallow breathing. The ends are sewn in and the edging is nearly done.  Looking forwards to sharing soon. :O)xxxxxends

 

 

::Cosy ripple blanket::

ripple 2It was some time in October when I started my Cosy Ripple Blanket plans. I was so inspired by Lucy’s Cosy CAL at Attic24 and the vibrancy and freshness of her Autumnal palette. I too had wowed and sighed over the wonderful combinations of colours at 5ftinf reflecting the fruits and colours of the seasons. The colours were cosy, rich and inviting reminding me of days spent kicking leaves, conkers, picking up silvery grey feathers and a mixture of green and nut-brown acorns.

ripple 6My Cosy Ripple Blanket palette started something like this; various browns, beiges, reds, chestnuts, lilac, purple and then the delicious yellows and slate blues, the colours of the countryside around me. I started to play with colour, trial and development. I’m using Stylecraft Special DK with the addition of a couple of colours from my stash. I get mine from Deramores but there are various other suppliers including Wool Warehouse.

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It is coming along nicely now and I LoVeD LoVeD LoVeD snuggling under it over the family filled Christmas days and evenings, the happy, soothing rippling rhythm building layer upon layer of colour and warmth.

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It won’t be long before I’m sharing my Ta-Dah post with my colours, stitches and sizes. Just need to think about the edging now. Any ideas? Let me know. :O)xxxxx