Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Staggering along

Well, it's been a shit of a year, which is partly why I haven't posted for well over a year. I started getting painful hands and feet in November 2008, and by early 2009 I had trouble walking, couldn't open a new milk bottle or water bottle and couldn't chop up vegetables. Eventually I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis. I'm currently trying to get a combination of drugs to work, and it's not brilliant... but I can walk, open milk bottles and chop up vegetables without too much pain (these are my benchmarks), so it could be much, much worse. And I keep on reminding myself that of all the auto-immune diseases I could have developed, it's probably the least scary.

Work is also crap and not giving me much time for myself.

During this period I haven't been completely non-creative, although it's been close. I sent off my contribution to The Milkweed Project, pictures to follow when I get them off my other half's camera. The link is here, although my last name is misspellt.

I've made a pair of trousers for work which aren't a complete disaster, but the linen is a bit scratchy, which I'm not a fan of. I have enough fabric for another pair, but I'm not sure I want to use it.

I also dyed some yarn with my mother-in-law: we were given a large stash of yarn when a friend's grandmother died, most of it truly awful colours from the 80s. I invested in some Landscape dyes and spent some time transforming the yarn into more agreeable colours. My father-in-law, who is a man of useful hands, made me a lovely skein winder out of some scrap after I openly coveted the one he made my mother-in-law. I'm very lucky in my in-laws.

And finally, I've made myself a scarf. I've got several in the pipeline to knit, but because I never really need them, I never actually get around to finishing them (I only need scarves for the 1 or 2 weeks of winter I spend in Ballarat with my parents). The idea was that I would wear it in New York when I went for 4 days in November, but it was too warm most of the time. I did get to visit Habu, though. It took me a while to find it, and I think my colleague was a little nervous by the time we did so as it's a little off the beaten track. Never mind, it was worth it.
So, recipe for said scarf:

  1. Buy a 2.5 m x 1.16 m length of greyish silk twill from ebay
  2. Cut a sample off it to play with.
  3. Hem the remaining fabric with silk thread leaving you with rectangle of 1.1 m x 2.18 m which weighs about 160 g.
  4. Machine-embroider your tag on it.
  5. Wash it, because the iron insisted on leaving residue on the silk at random intervals (I either need to clean my iron in some drastic way or buy a new one)
  6. Fold it in half, matching the two short sides.
  7. Accordion-pleat across the scarf as detailed in this tutorial on t-shirt dyeing, using a pleat width of 10 cm.
  8. Roll up into a ball and secure with the rubber band you found after much running around the house with a perplexed look on your face.
  9. Fill a vessel with 4 cm of water and add 4 g black dye.
  10. Put the rolled-up silk into the dye, one spiral-side down. Microwave until done.
  11. Repeat with Bloodwood dye on the other side of the spiral.
  12. Take off the rubber band and unfurl.
  13. Fill vessel with water and 16 g of Salmon Gum dye. Add silk, microwave until done, stirring frequently.
  14. Wash, hang up to dry and wait nervously to see the real colours.

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