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Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Mini Tip Tutorial - Blocking Crescent Shawls

This is part of my Blocking series. All the tutorials will be listed on my Tutorials page - scroll down to 'Blocking' to see them all.

I've done blocking tutorials previously on a small and a large crescent shawl so I'm not going to re-do those but just in case you missed them, I thought it might be useful to list them here.

You can find my small crescent - Gondola - blocking tutorial here. 

Here is my large crescent - Dartmeet - blocking tutorial. 

And a not so pretty blocking photo of Dartmeet.

Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. You can see all the previous Monday Mini Tips and other tutorials on my Tutorials page. 

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How I manage chronic pain

Recently I posted a photo of the pain relief roller bottle I use daily on Instagram and it got so many comments I thought I'd share a few more of my views in a blog post. I've suffered from chronic neck pain since I was 14 years old after a car accident. The pain was mild but worse after school and studying. When I was 30 I was in another car accident and after that my neck was in agony. I was on sick leave for a year and ended up giving up work. The pain was in my neck, upper back and shoulders. As a teenager I was a keen horse-rider and I had numerous falls off horses and two weeks before I moved to the UK in 1990 to work with horses, I fell off a horse and broke my coccyx. All in all, the two car accidents and the horse-riding accidents have left my back in a bad state.

I saw a doctor two days after the second car accident and was given strong pain killers and I was signed off work. To cut a long story short, I ended up never going back to work (apart from two months) and over the years I was given more pain killers. At the moment I'm taking three strong painkillers which the doctors are keen to get patients off. Over the last 18 months I've been told on several occasions that I need to cut down on my painkillers and I've tried but it's very difficult, especially as I'd like to continue working. If I'm in too much pain I can't work! If I cut down on pain killers I'm in more pain and I can do less.

Over the years I've tried a huge number of different treatments including some very weird ones. Everytime someone says 'have you tried...?' I have! I've also had surgery on my spine.

I also have some other health issues like hypothyroidism. All in all the chronic pain and thyroid issues leaves me feeling tired, exhausted, fed up and the pain means I often don't sleep very well which leads to more tiredness and pain. Earlier this year I got really fed up and decided I need to do something to take charge of my health issues. 

When I decided to try essential oils in May, it was mainly to help me sleep and to give me more energy. You can read more about why I got started with essential oils and why I chose DoTerra here.
I started researching oils for pain relief and gradually as my oil collection grew I added oils to this blend. Now I use a blend of Frankincense, Marjoram, Wintergreen, Lemongrass, Peppermint, AromaTouch, Patchouli and Deep Blue. I use 5-10 drops of each mixed with a carrier oil in a 10ml roller bottle. I roll this on my neck and shoulders when I need to. The great thing about essential oils is that you can use them as often as you need to. I don't have to wait four hours between each use. In fact, if you use essential oils small, frequent, daily doses are best.

DoTerra essential oils are safe to be taken internally. There is a lot of controversy, especially in the UK, about taking oils internally. That's because most essential oils are not pure enough to be taken internally. They may contain contaminates, synthetics or fillers. Also, aromatherapists are not insured for internal use so will not recommend their clients take oils internally. However, DoTerra essential oils undergo thorough testing, both in-house and external. The oils that are safe to take internally, are labelled as such. The basic rule is, if the plant/fruit/leaf is safe to eat, then you can take the oil internally. So some oils from plants that aren't safe to eat, should never be taken internally!

Because essential oils are so potent, it's important to be careful when taking internally. Do your own research and do not take oils internally if they're labelled 'For topical use only'. You can take oils internally by adding to a glass of water, put a drop under your tongue or you can take the oils in a veggie capsule. I prefer the veggie capsule option as I'm not that keen on the taste of some of the oils. 

For pain, I take 1-2 drops of Frankincense, Lemongrass and Marjoram in a veggie capsule once or twice a day. I do take a break of a few days after a week or so. I also take On Guard (an immune boosting blend) and ZenGest/DigestZen (for tummy issues caused by having no gall bladder) regularly and I take Grapefruit (to avoid sugar cravings) and Smart/Slim & Sassy (metabolic blend) for weight control help. I've not taken Smart & Sassy for over a month now as I ran out and forgot to re-order and my weight has been stuck. I took the oil in September and lost weight. Obviously the oils will only help with weight loss if you eat sensibly. I find loosing weight very hard because of my thyroid problems. 

Since I started using oils I've managed to cut down Co-codamol and Tramadol from 8 tablets a day to 6 tablets a day each. I know that may not sound a lot but it is a lot to me. My goal is 4 tablets a day of each.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential when you suffer from chronic pain. If you're tired, it's harder to deal with the pain and the pain seems worse. When the pain gets worse, it's harder to sleep. It's a vicious circle. I was waking up regularly in the night and since I've used oils I'm waking up a lot less.

I made up a roller bottle with 5-10 drops each of Frankincense, Cedarwood, Geranium and Lavender. I topped up the rest of the 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil and I roll this blend under my feet and on my chest before I go to bed.

I also mix Serenity, Peace and Balance together in a small bottle and put 1-2 drops either side of my pillow at night. I'm planning to eventually get a diffuser in my bedroom but this works well for now.

Serenity is the restful blend and has oils that encourages relaxation and sleep. Peace is also a blend of relaxing oils and Balance is the grounding blend and has oils that helps to ease stress and anxiety.
DoTerra also has a brilliant range of supplements. I'm not a supplements kind of person. I've not taken any supplements for years but I kept hearing about people with chronic pain using DoTerra's Long Life Vitality Supplement (LLV) and in September I decided to try it. The pack comes with a 30 day guarantee. Try the supplements for 30 days and if they don't work, send the empty pack back to DoTerra and they'll refund your money. I'm not an expert on supplements, so if you're interested in learning more, my team leader, Tara, did a brilliant webinar which you can watch/listen to here. If you decide you want to try LLV, let me know and I'll help you get started.

DoTerra also has a supplement called Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex which is specifically for soothing aching muscles. I've been taking this daily too.

This autumn I've been really busy! I've been teaching a lot and travelling a lot. Normally this would leave me exhausted and there have been times when I have been completely exhausted but I've felt so much better than I normally do in the autumn. Autumn is always my busiest time for workshops and it's also my 'danger' time for low mood and sinking into depression.

I've not had a workshop for over a week now and I've had no deadlines and no travelling but I've been feeling really tired lately. And I've just realised I haven't taken LLV or Deep Blue supplements for about a week and before that I was taking smaller daily doses for a few days. I've ordered more but it's not arrived yet and I can't wait to get back on these supplements. They definitely make a difference. 

I do have some other coping strategies I use and have been using for years. I  try to pace myself when it comes to my work and daily activities. This is very difficult as my job can get very busy at times. I am in more pain after teaching a workshop, especially if it involves travelling and I know that the day after a workshop I need to do less computer work. On days when I've had a bad night's sleep or if the pain is bad, I need to be able to do less. During normal work days I alternate between computer work and knitting. When I knit I sit in a comfy chair and I try to avoid looking down at my knitting as much as possible.

I have a cleaner who comes once a week. Most household chores aggravate the pain especially cleaning bathrooms, hoovering and ironing and we've had a cleaner for about 15 years now and for us it's a necessity.

The only alternative treatment I have now is massage. I've tried so many different conventional and weird treatments in the past and most of them don't work for me. Massages are essential to me for helping with pain management.

I also do things like use a lap top stand to make sure my laptop is at the right height, take regular breaks, do stretches and exercises. After a long stretch on the computer, I lie on the floor to stretch out my back. I roll up a towel and put it under my spine. It really helps to stretch out my shoulder area.

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Or lack of energy? Can't sleep? Are you interested in learning how essential oils can help you? E-mail me on for chat. There is no obligation and I'm happy to send you some samples so you can try DoTerra for yourself. 

If would like to read about my Essential Oils - My Story, you can read it here and you can read Essential Oils 101 here. 

If you're ready to get started with DoTerra, you can sign up for a wholesale membership here. If you'd like to find out more about what's involved in a wholesale membership, just e-mail me on

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Mini Tip Tutorial - Blocking - Triangular Shawls

This is the first in a new series of blocking tutorials. I get asked about blocking in nearly every workshop. This series will mainly focus on blocking various shawls but I will talk about blocking sweaters and non-lacy items too. All the tutorials will be listed on my Tutorials page - scroll down to 'Blocking'.

Today, we'll cover some blocking basics as well as how to block a triangular shawl.

Blocking helps your knitting look it's best. It's essential with lace knitting but most knitted items can benefit from blocking. The only equipment you need is pins and a surface you can stick pins into. But there are other things you may find helpful. I use Knit Pro blocking mats. These are square, foam mats. You can get similar mats from hardware shops, kids jigsaw puzzles etc. I also use blocking wires  and Knit Pro Knit Blockers which are the white plastic piece in the photo below with pins. My favourite pins are t-pins. They're thicker than regular sewing pins. All my blocking equipment comes from Knit Pro (Knitters Pride in the US).

The shawl I'm blocking in today's video is the Simplicity shawl which is my easiest shawl. It takes just one 100g skein (400m) of sock yarn. The Simplicity pattern comes with a choice of a triangular shape or half-hexagon shape.

You can also watch the video here. 

Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. You can see all the previous Monday Mini Tips and other tutorials on my Tutorials page. 

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Friday, November 10, 2017

New Pattern - Cardiff Bay

I'm really excited to introduce you to Cardiff Bay - a new waistcoat garment. I'm being brave and modelling this myself. I'm wearing the largest of two sizes. 

Cardiff Bay combines a basic shape and simple lace pattern in this easy to wear loose-fitting garment. Perfect to wear with jeans and t-shirts for a casual weekend look.Three rectangles are sewn together to create this garment. The lace pattern is fairly easy, which makes this perfect for knitters new to knitting garments. It's worked from the top down.

I used Navia Bummull which is a 4ply blend of wool and cotton and if you're following me regularly, you'll know I love this yarn.

There are two sizes and the pattern has a schematic which you can see on the pattern page here

Get 20% off Cardiff Bay until 19 November (midnight UK). Use coupon code: cardiffbay20

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Knitter - Gwenna Shawl & Design Master Class

Look whose design is on the cover of The Knitter this month! The Knitter 117 will be in the shops this week, I think. My shawl, Gwenna, is on the cover and it's also the basis of a shawl design master class I wrote this month. 

The Knitter says: 'Crescent shawls are such a lovely shape to wear as they sit well around your shoulders. This wide crescent design is worked from the bottom up and features a deep lace border; the upper section is worked in garter stitch and is shaped using short rows.
A beautiful shawl deserves a special yarn and Anniken has chosen a hand-dyed sock weight yarn created by indie dyer Truly Hooked, which blends merino, silk and yak fibres.'

The Shawl Design Master Class covers all the things you need to think about when you want to design a shawl such as choosing the shape, stitch pattern and yarn. I also talk specifically about designing Gwenna.

I knitted Gwenna is Truly Hooked Yak Singles. I've been wanting to use this yarn for a while. It's a luscious blend of merino/silk/yak which is super soft and of course I LOVE the hot pink colour. I LOVED knitting with this yarn. It's perfect for shawls. I'll definitely be adding more of this to my stash!

Look out for The Knitter in your local newsagent or you can find details about subscribing and other purchase details here. 

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Friday, November 03, 2017

The Shaping Shawls Challenge

In November we're running a Shaping Shawls challenge in my Facebook group - Love of Lace Knitting.

Starting today, I will upload weekly lessons on how to create various shawl shapes. Today we started with sideways, asymmetrical triangles. Join the Love of Lace Knitting group here. 

Over the next few weeks we'll cover various other shapes. 

At the end of the challenge we'll have a prize draw. Knit one mini shawl swatch from each lesson and post your photo in the relevant thread in the Love of Lace Knitting Group and you may win a prize.

Join the Love of Lace Knitting group now. To find the Shaping Shawls posts, search for #loveshapingshawls in the group. You can also use this hashtag to share your progress on Instagram.

Will you be joining us?

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

This & That

I've been working hard on my deadline project for the last two weeks and I finished it on Sunday evening and immediately blocked it. It looks beautiful and I can't wait to show you the shawl when the magazine is released next year.
I immediately picked up my Zauberball project. On Tuesday evening, after teaching all day, I was thinking I ought to check the size as I thought I was reaching the halfway point but I knitted another 20 row repeat then on Wednesday morning I checked the size and ended up unpicking the last 20 rows. I've got a couple of repeats past that now so I'm motoring down the second half of this project. I'd hoped to finish it by the end of the weekend but as I'm teaching all weekend that won't happen.

I always say this at the beginning of the month but I can't believe it's November. October was fantastic but sooo busy! Think it was my busiest month this year as far as the number of workshops I taught. After this week, it'll calm down a bit and I even have two consecutive weekends at home with no workshops! That's the first time that's happened since August.

I'll be very busy this weekend though as I'm teaching at Stitch Fest in Totnes in Devon. Totnes is on the main train line between Exeter and Plymouth so easily accessible by public transport from both Cornwall and further up-country and it's only a few minutes off A38.

There are still a few spaces left on my Professional Finishing Techniques workshop on Saturday afternoon. See the details here. 

My Fair Isle Knitting workshop on Sunday morning also has a few spaces left. You can see the details here. 

The list of vendors looks amazing! I've got Saturday morning off to shop and I'm really looking forward to having some time to browse.

I've got lots more classes coming up in November. On Tuesday 7 November I'm teaching Shetland Lace Knitting, on Friday 17 November I'm teaching Scandinavian Fair Isle Yoke Sweater and on Tuesday 21 November, I'm teaching Christmas Baubles at Spin A Yarn.

On Saturday 25 November I'll be back at Handmade Studios in Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, for a Circular Fair Isle Yoke Sweater workshop and on Tuesday 28 November I'll be at the Wool Merchant in Devon for a Fair Isle & Steeking workshop.

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