Back to my 'normal' self

21 November 2008

Those readers who have been visiting me here for a while will know that my aunty Joy died in early September. Joy was a big part of my life, she was my god-mother, as well as a much loved aunt and my mum's only sister. Sadly, Joy's son Stephen died yesterday. He'd been ill for a long time. RIP Stephen.

It was after I drove back from Joy's funeral that my knee got sore, and after that, two months of pain and feeling terrible followed. I'm really pleased to say that this week I'm back to my normal self and thankful to be able to do everything I was doing in the past. Pain is a horrible bedfellow, it steals your strength and passion from you. I am glad I left it behind me, but in a strange way I appreciate what I went through because it has made me genuinely appreciate the ability I have to do what I want and live as I do. I truly feel for all those who live with chronic pain and illness.

So this week has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I have my strength and drive back! I've been baking, cooking, knitting, making soap and writing up a storm. If you were reading here last summer you'd know I'm a bit of a cricket freak. Well, my friends, the cricket season started yesterday and with this in mind I decided to work till 2pm and then sit with my knitting in front of the TV.

After I finished my blog yesterday, I fed the animals and checked outside for storm damage. There was a lot of water but no damage and I stayed outside a while to watch the creek rush by. It was almost at flooding point on the other side but luckily for the horses that use that paddock, the water rushed out to the sea instead. Tricia phoned to tell me about Stephen and we talked a for short while. Breakfast was tea and toast with organic honey that's starting to harden. When Hanno finished his breakfast, I cleaned the kitchen, made some bread, got that on the rise and then made a chocolate sour cream cake.

Morning tea was taken on the verandah where Alice was quite distressed by the March flies hanging around so we came back inside and I started working on my book. I had a few phone calls about a meeting I'm organising about homeless kids at work next week, then back to the book for another hour and a break for lunch. After a quick sandwich, I checked the soap I made yesterday which is taking longer than usual to harden - I used a different recipe of rice bran, olive and coconut oils. Then back to the book for another hour, but before I went to my reward of cricket and knitting, I phoned my uncle (Stephen's father) and my cousin, Susie, Stephen's sister.

It was a busy, productive morning and a slower paced afternoon. I finished the lilac mitten I showed in yesterday's post and started the second one. Dinner was leftovers so it only had to be heated. It's good to be back. :- )

And for those of you who wanted the pattern for the red mittens, here it is. It's really just a rectangular piece of knitting that is sewn along the side, leaving a space for the thumb.

You start at the wrist and work up to the fingers. Leave a long tail of yarn when you cast on because that is what you'll use to sew up the side. In the photo below is the mitten I finished knitting yesterday. Note the yarn tails, one at the top and one at the bottom - these are for sewing the mitten together.

Remember to measure this on your hand, or the hand of the person who'll wear it, so you have a good fit. If you have to enlarge or reduce the size, do it in increments of 4 stitches. I started off with 40 stitches - to enlarge it I would have cast on 44 or 48 stitches, to reduce the size I would have cast on 36 or 32 stitches.

Cast on 40 stitches (or according to the size you need)
Knit in rib stitch for about 5 cm (2 inches). Rib stitch is: knit two, purl two and repeat till the end of the row.

When you have a suitable length to cover the wrist - you can do it longer if you wish - start stocking stitch. Here is a guide. Knit stocking stitch for about 10.5cm (4 inches). Measure on your hand to make sure it is long enough, if it isn't, keep knitting.

Finish off with 2.5cm (1 inch) of rib stitch and cast off. Make sure you have your top yarn tail on the same side as the bottom tail.

You'll then have a rectangle or a square. Using a large eye sewing needle, thread your yarn tail into the sewing needle and starting at the wrist, sew the sides together. measure it on your hand again so you know where the thumb hole will be and end with a few reinforcing stitches under the thumb hole. Now, from the top end, thread your sewing needle again with the top yarn tail and sew from the fingers down to the the top of the thumb hole, again ending with a few reinforcing stitches. You'll end up with a mitten with a hole for the thumb.

And that's it! Simple, isn't it. Have a great day.


  1. Rhonda,

    Our condolences on the loss of Stephen. How terrible for his father to lose two loved ones in a year.

    Glad that you are back to feeling like yourself, it is truly a blessing.

    I thought you might like to know that I work at a living history museum here in America, called Old Sturbridge Village, and many of our "interpreters" and others (of history-that is)wear fingerless mittens and call them "muffatee's"-the 1830's word for them. My favorite pattern for them calls for several rows of double knitting. Do you know how to do that? It's the easiest thing and you end up with a double thickness. If you don't already know how, I'd be glad to share the directions.


  2. I'm sorry to hear your sad news about Stephen - and as Larissa says above, how tough for his father and sister to lose half their immediate family in a matter of months. Not to mention the loss for the wider family and friends.
    Have a happy weekend. And it's good to hear you're finally pain-free.
    Diana x

  3. Hello Rhonda,
    Its hard when people you care for pass on. My thoughts are with you and your loved ones. I am glad you are feeling back on top of things. Feeling really well is such a blessing and sometimes we only realize it after feeling poorly for some time. I've had flu for about 5 weeks and yesterday I started to feel better and this morning I'm really well again.
    I am slowly working my way through your site and I'm having such fun. I am turning off switches and becoming even more aware of the little things that make a difference. I absolutely love the knitting.

    Cheers Gail

  4. Thank you Larissa and Diana.

    Larissa, I've heard of double knitting but have no idea how to do it. I'd love some directions. :- ) Thanks.

  5. Hi Gail, thanks dear.

  6. Maybe the pain was a way for Aunt Joy to keep you thinking about her while she waited for her son to join her.


  7. Hello Rhonda, I'm glad your feeling back on top of things. I'm also very sorry to hear of your loss. Good thoughts to everyone. Donna J.

  8. Dearest Rhonda,

    So sorry for the loss of Stephen for you, and all that loved him. And yes, what great loss within one year for each of you in your family. Though it is a mercy to see an end to suffering--for each and every precious one that has had to endure it, it is always so very painful for those that remain, to say goodbye (even if just for now). And, the greater the love and more special the shared memories, the greater the pain of parting in many ways, it does surely seem. How true are Tennyson's words, "I hold it true, whatever befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." What a blessing to love, and to be loved in return.

    It's so wonderful to hear that you're feeling so well, back in the saddle and galloping full stride, dear lovely lady :o) That's really great.

    Sure wish I could have a big *fat* slice of that cake. Looks *really* good. And, speaking of that delicious cake...I hope that Hanno's doing well. No doubt he's settled right into that old familar, comfy routine of bein' dubbed on/livin' "high on the hog" now that his best girl's back in action. He must have missed your *bubbling over* just as much as you did (maybe more? ;o) So glad you're not in pain anymore. Thinking of you both with much love, Jewels

    Be gently (as you're only just picking up speed and I'm not entirely sure how Hanno's feeling ;o) (bear)hugged across the many miles ((Rhonda Jean)) and ((Hanno))

  9. Rhonda, Condolences to you and your family on the loss of Stephen.

    Glad to hear that you're feeling well again, and that you're working on the book. Cant wait for it, my dd lives in Oz so I will get her to order for me. :) Thank you for the mittens pattern. I'm in the queue for a large slice of that cake please. Is the recipe on here anywhere?

  10. My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss. I hope your uncle has support close by.

    I am really glad to hear you're feeling much better, though. And I personally was comforted by your thoughts for those of us with chronic illness. With anything that becomes chronic you end up needing to make big adjustments to daily life and develop a new psychological strategy for coping, without becoming a chronic whinger or poisoning your own life with anger or feeling too sorry for yourself. On top of that there are sometimes the odd few people that never understand why you just can't be "normal" and become critical, thinking it's your own fault somehow. It is quite possible to still have an excellent quality of life, once you adjust, but it sure helps when people are understanding, not pitying, but understanding. So, thankyou, and here's to enjoying life!

    Love your mittens. I'm definitely making some of those.

    Regards, Marilyn

  11. Hi Rhonda,
    My condolences on your cousin passing away, as they previous ladies have mentioned it is going to be a tough Christmas this year for his Dad and sister...

    I'm glad to hear you are back to feeling normal again though. I think I've forgotten what "normal" feels like LOL, but I could be so much worse so there's a lot to feel blessed about as your post has reminded me :-)

    Cheers, Julie

  12. I can't wait to try the mittens. Is that regular worsted weight yarn? What size needles?

  13. Hello Jewels dear. Hanno is fine and told me to say hello from him. I'll email you soon to catch up.

    Rosie, Marilyn, Julie, thanks. Take care, Marilyn. Rosie, the book will be released in the USA first.

    Aurora, it's not worsted weight yarn. I used 8ply for the red and 5 ply for the lilac, and size 8 needles. Worsted weight is usually 10ply. That's the reason you have to measure the mittens as you go on your own hand. Just knit it to your size.

  14. Dear Rhonda

    "We never lose the ones we love,
    for even though they are gone, within the hearts of those who loved them, their sweet memories linger on."

    Condolences to you and your family and it is so nice to know you are feeling 100% again.

    - Joolz

  15. I am sorry for you and your family's loss. Blessings to the family.

    Glad to hear you are back to normal... or rather your normal! lol....

    Love the mittens. I plan to start them straight away. I have a neck warmer of the same nature, knit in the round. Thank you for the directions to the mittens.

    cathy c

  16. Rhonda - You and your family have really had a rough time this year. When you look back at those troubling times,it may help to realize how you all came through them and how strong you really are.
    We're all really glad you are feeling better. And it sounds like next time you should make a bigger cake so we all can come over! (Just kidding)
    Thanks for all of your good work, JudieJ

  17. I can hear in your words how much livlier you are feeling..So glad
    I am sorry for your loss of your cousion. Thinking of you and his family.

  18. Dear Rhonda

    You and your family are in my thoughts - it is hard to lose loved ones, so many hugs to you.

    It is good to hear you are starting to feel on top of things again! When you are not at your best it is easy to go stir crazy with all the things you WANT to do, but just can't, yet :)

    I too am interested in the recipe for the Chocolate cake, it would be very popular here I assure you lol.

    Take care!

  19. So glad you are feeling better these days! I do know about chronic pain and it is not fun when it goes on for long periods of time.

    So sorry to hear about Stephen.

    Thank you for the guide to the mittens. I played around with knitting years ago but never did much with it but I think I will start up again with these cute mittens and hopefully make up a pair or 2 for presents. Would you say the guide was for a medium or large pair of hands? If I were to make these for children would you know how to adjust? (I don't have any in the house to gauge by! )

    blessings to you


  20. Truly sorry for your loss and glad to hear you're back to your normal self.
    One small point - in an earlier post you referred to the fingerless mittens and had a link to them. It's usual to credit the person's pattern rather than pass it off as your own.

  21. So glad you are feeling better and back to your old self Rhonda. Chronic pain or discomfort can be very wearing.I think as you get older it takes longer to recover from these little set backs.

  22. So sorry for your loss Rhonda, my condolences to your whole family. At times like these I think we learn to cherish those who remain even more and as we lean on each other for the support, we become even closer as a result.

    Its good to hear you're back on your feet, literally! I suffer terribly with my knees, and especially so as its getting colder here in the UK. My hips, shoulders and most of my other joints get set off at this time of year. But we just have to get on with it as best we can. Be thankful that you can get better - I'm only 31 and its only going to get worse for me from here on in. I hate to grumble, but just sharing my pain, and its warming to hear your words of support to those of us who suffer in these ways.

    Anonymous, the original pattern came from the Beauty That Moves at the Co-Op, but as Rhonda has added the ribbed element to the original pattern, and has indeed credited the original pattern, all in stocking stitch, in a previous post, I think she's quite entitled to claim this one, as she has adapted it from the original.

    Anyway, blessings to you all, I hope everybody has a lovely weekend.


  23. I am so sorry for the loss of your nephew. Be Embraced.
    Your mittens are beautiful. The weather hear so seldom gets cool. I just love those though. I think it might be nice to make some light weight just to protect my hands when I work.
    I am so glad you are on the mend from the pain. Today I am in the pain but working/resting through it.
    Oh so glad to hear Hanno is "just fine" I have thought of and prayed for his health.
    Enjoy the day!

  24. i have been making a version of these gloves for days now for my whole family...and i was having trouble with seaming them. so thanks for the help! i think i can get these finished now.

  25. Rhonda, I am very glad you are feeling better, but so sorry to hear about Stephen's death. My thoughts are with you, and I send you big hugs from Ohio. I hope you continue to feel better as summer is more with you. Our winter in Ohio has started with a bang, huge snowfall, and my arthritis knows it! But we just have to find the good side of being inside more and doing things there.

  26. I sent some folks your way for the knitting lesson.

  27. so wonderful to have you back to full strength and vitality, rhonda! i've certainly missed your daily posts! keep plugging at that book ... takes great discipline to do each day, i'm sure!

    the treats sound yummy and look great.

    sorry for your loss.

  28. Rhonda, I am sorry to hear that Stephen has passed away. Expectation of death is no easier than the surprise death, is it? Heavy commiserating sigh.
    That said, I am very glad to know that you are feeling like your old self.

    There are actually a couple of definitions for double knitting using both one yarn and two. I recently made a baby blanket from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitters Almanac which used double knitting. The result was delightful – a double thickness of the blanket which was mindlessly easy to make!

    On all rows you K1, then you bring the yarn forward --towards you as if to you were going to purl -- then slip 1. This is not a yarn over the needle, it’s a movement of the yarn from knit position to purl position.

    This is repeated all along the row and it creates a closed tube giving you the two sides or thicknesses.

    I know there are other methods too.

  29. Despite all these losses I'm so happy that you are back to yourself, Rhonda.

    My meter readings were not so good as others. During the summer we had cut back 20% by using the clothesline, updating the freezer, and turning off an old refridgerator. Jerry has an ancient hot tub (built in 1970) that is truly at the top of his comfort lists. It's an energy hog, I'm afraid. The colder it gets, the higher our meter of course because the tub is outside. I'm waiting for it to die - arguing with him about it is pointless:(

  30. I am sorry for your losses; but glad that things are getting back to normal. I have not had a lot of loss in my life, but I have had a lot of physical and metaphoric pain; and it is not fun nor easy to live though. I hope life begins to get even better.

  31. Hi
    Glad you are feeling better - aches & pains are annoying!

    I have a couple of gardening questions & thought you might know the answers.

    1. Beans on a bean frame - last summer we grew runner beans, winter broad beans. Does the frame (soil) need a rest from beans or can you just keep growing beans in same place year after year.

    2. Growing potatoes in tires how many layers of tires should you do?

    Many thanks

    Love Leanne NZ

  32. Rhonda, I'm so sorry to read about another loss in your family.

    But happy to know you are feeling better. It's good to be back to comforting, nurturing, productive routine.

    Thanks for the knitting instructions. It does look pretty simple, even to a beginner like myself.

  33. Mary, the mittens fit me - medium sized hands. Reduce by 4 or 8 stitches, depending on how old the children are. The best way to do it is to measure on the child as you go.

    Rose, thank you so much for those instructions. I will try that.

    Leanne, you can grow beans a few years in a row in the same soil but they will benefit from being moved around. You shouldn't use tyres in your garden. They contain cadmium and that can leach into the soil. Instead of tyres, make a cage of wire and star pegs and build your layers up in that. Plant the potatoes in the bottom on a layer of compost, cover with soil, compost and straw. When the green tips come through, cover with a combo of compost and straw and keep layering.

    My sincere thanks to everyone for the warm messages of friendship. And to all of you living with chronic pain and illness, take care, stay warm and know that I am thinking of you.

  34. My condolences to your family. I'm glad that you're feeling like your old self again and your chocolate cake looks scrumptuous!



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