HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Leg Ulcers

Posted by HelenEdith on March 25, 2016

Leg ulcers are not a glamorous topic, but they are one that I have become very evangelical about since being afflicted myself in the latter part of 2015.

My Daddy suffered from leg ulcers during the middle part of the 20th Century, when treatments were much less successful and he wore heavy bandages around his legs all day every day and still he used to get a recurring ulcer.

I turned 60 during 2015. I was looking forward to my 60th birthday both because I was looking forward to getting a 60+ Oyster Photocard, which would give me a lot of travel benefits within Greater London; and also because I would get free prescriptions. These two things between them were going to at least help a little with my beleaguered finances!

Meanwhile, my partner Stephen told me I shouldn’t be so keen to turn 60 as it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sadly, he was proved right, as I was suffering from my first leg ulcer shortly after my birthday.

Some web research turned up the website for the Leg Ulcer Charity and I discovered that since my Daddy suffered from leg ulcers, there had been significant developments in their treatment and that there are now very effective 21st Century treatments available which are even NICE approved within the NHS.

Sadly, I wasn’t initially offered these treatments, but when my ulcers quickly escalated, I was referred to an Ulcer Clinic where I was put into compression bandages. These did actually heal my ulcers, but as I was aware of treatments which lead to a cure of leg ulcers in as many as 85% of cases, I returned to my GP and with the advantage of private insurance through my workplace, I was able to obtain a referral within the private sector where I was seen promptly and I was diagnosed with enlarged veins with incompetent valves in both legs. Within a month, I had laser surgery (EVLT) and I am happy to report that I have had no recurrence of my leg ulcers and I don’t need to wear compression socks for the rest of my life.

I was lucky that I had an understanding employer and that my job is suitable for home-working and I managed to continue working through the nightmare of a raw and infected leg, but just imagine what would have happened if I couldn’t have home-worked: leg ulcers would have been career-threatening.

Now here’s the really ironic bit: leg ulcers managed with compression bandages will heal, but this is often only temporary, so the sufferer will be back into compression bandages again and again, costing the NHS thousands in expensive dressing materials and the time it takes nurses to apply these. EVLT laser surgery (often carried out under local anaesthetic) is a once-off treatment which will cure about 85% of sufferers. Getting one leg done in the private sector will cost about £2,500. It won’t take long to rack up that amount of expenditure with a continual cycle of compression bandages, yet many leg ulcer patients are never offered the opportunity to receive this cost-effective treatment which may not only take away their leg ulcers, but may save their careers and keep them in employment. It will certainly put them in a position to enjoy life a lot more and be a much more useful member of society, whether in or out of the workforce.

In an attempt to get the NHS to follow NICE guidelines, a petition was launched during March 2016. If you live in England, please consider signing this: Cure leg ulcer sufferers whilst saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds


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Another baby jacket

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2014

Koi Baby Sweater #8

Koi Baby Sweater #8

I have been knitting baby jackets based on Nancy Pietraszek’s “Koi Baby Sweater” pattern from Ravelry for the past three years. I’ve just completed the 8th one, of which I am very proud. It used a lot of different colours for the stripes, which took a lot of weaving in of loose ends, but the result is so worth it.

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Time to update the look

Posted by HelenEdith on March 2, 2014

My hair went a while between trims last year and had enough length to be styled into a bob. At the time, I said to the hairdresser that I thought the bob would only survive two trims. It looked good, but it was more effort to keep it looking nice as it needed more blowdryer time. It didn’t often get it, so I just ended up with short curly hair most of the time – and latterly, due to a delay in visiting the hairdresser – not quite so short curly hair. Then a couple of weeks ago I was in a rush and didn’t even put any coloured mousse in it. It turns out that my natural colour is a rather pretty misty grey:

Self - natural hair colour - before haircut

Self – natural hair colour – before haircut

However, it’s also a rather ageing misty grey; and every time the wind blows, those fine ends find their way into every orifice in my face. So today I visited the hairdresser and went back to really short hair; and while she was about it, she put in some coloured mousse:

Self - copper hair mousse - after haircut

Self – copper hair mousse – after haircut

The hairdresser was pretty pleased with her handiwork and so was I. When Stephen got home, he noticed the ‘do’ straight away; and said that it took ten years off my age. I’ve put these two pictures up on FaceBook and I’m getting a gratifying number of ‘likes’ on the ‘After’ picture. I think that was money well spent.

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Another Quadruple Decrease

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2013

I’ve now tried out Smariek’s quadruple decrease and discovered that it leaves a little eyelet each side of the central stitch when that is knitted. I didn’t want those eyelets, so a bit more experimentation was in order.

I needed a slightly left-leaning quad decrease to match to s1, k2tog, psso and here’s what I’ve come up with:

slip 2 stitches knitwise one at a time
pass first slipped stitch over second slipped stitch
slip the next stitch purlwise (this is the centre stitch)
pass the second stitch on the left needle over the first stitch on the left needle
slip the centre stitch on the right needle back to the left needle
leave the remaining stitch on the right needle (it is already turned)

Now k2tog, psso.

The stitch lies flat, unlike the rather lumpy s2, k3tog, p2sso

It also has the least obvious loop on the right of the stitch and the smallest gap between the stitch and its neighbours.

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RIP Boonie, 11th April 2013

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2013

We went down to eight cats last April.

On 11th April, I took Boonie to the vet for euthanasia. If I’d realised the extent of his problems, I might have considered it a kindness to have done so sooner, as the vet felt several tumours, which explained his constant hunger coupled with weight loss.

I held Boonie while the final injection was administered and he purred until the injection took effect.

Here is Boonie as I want to remember him:


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A Quadruple Decrease

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2013

This is a bit more complicated than Marianne Kinzel’s s2, k3tog, p2sso direction; and the way in which the decrease is done may result in a slight right lean, but I think that it results in the centre stitch going to the bottom, so here’s a link to D4 Quadruple Decrease by Smariek Knits where the method is described in detail. Basically, a stitch from each side of the centre stitch is passed over the centre stitch until only the centre stitch remains on the needle; and then that centre stitch is knitted in the normal way. The example given results in a right lean, but if the first stitch slipped over the centre stitch came from the left instead of the right (and then the next one came from the right, etc) I think a slight left lean might result instead.

I think it should also be possible to produce a quadruple decrease with the centre stitch on top by slipping stitches in order to gain access to stitches 4 and 5 and to slip 5 over 4; and to gain access to stitches 1 and 2 and slip 1 over 2; then put all of the remaining three loops back on the left needle, do s2 as if to k2tog, k1, p2sso.

I think I’ll give these a go on waste yarn and see what they look like before deciding whether to use Kinzel’s stitch or a variant of Smariek’s stitch.

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Knitting Double Decreases

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2013

I’ve launched into Marianne Kinzel’s Daffodil Design. She uses some stitches which I was a bit doubtful over, but I’ve found a nice website which discusses double decreases, Double decreases and decreases from the purl side from Ariel’s craft journal, which has cleared up one of them, at least.

The symbol which I’m used to seeing for a centred double decrease is actually being used for a double decrease which is executed by doing slip 1, k2tog, psso. This results in the centre stitch of the three going to the bottom of the resulting stitch rather than coming to the top. It also gives the look of an inverted ‘V’, which sounds about right, as it’s being used at the top of a leaf. It also slants a little to the left, so you can’t describe it as being completely centred. Three stitches, from left to right, A-B-C will end up stacked from top to bottom as C-B-A.

The other symbol I’ve come across is a blocked-in triangle executed by slip 2, k3tog, p2sso. If I call the five stitches, from left to right, A-B-C-D-E then this decrease will result in a stack, from top to bottom, of E-D-A-B-C. Once again, the central stitch is ending up on the bottom of the stack, but I have a suspicion that this might lean quite heavily towards the left. Whether I will find anything about 5-into-1 decreases is something I don’t know, but I might find some time spent with a pair of knitting needles and some waste yarn is time better spent than a session in Google.

It looks like Daffodil Design is going to grind to a halt until I’ve worked out whether to go with Marianne Kinzel’s 50+ year old direction or whether there is something a bit more symmetrical to execute instead.

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Two different symbols for k2tog in the same pattern!

Posted by HelenEdith on October 6, 2013

I’ve had Marianne Kinzel’s Second Book of Lace Knitting for some time and I’ve had my eyes on the Daffodil Design pattern. It was originally meant to be a small tablecloth knitted in thread, but I want to do it as a throw in yarn.

Interestingly, the charts use two different symbols for k2tog! One is a right-slanting symbol which corresponds to the right-slanting k2tog and is balanced in the pattern by a left-slanting symbol which corresonds to the left-slanting sl1, k1, psso – or if you prefer, SSK, where you slip two stitches individually knitwise, return them to the left needle and then knit them through the back of the loops. (I actually find that I don’t need to actually slip them back to the left needle to achieve this manoeuvre.) The other symbol which represents a k2tog is a vertical chevron. It would be rather nice to find something which produced a neutral decrease when this symbol is encountered – provided that it didn’t slow the knitting down too much!

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Doing a centred knitting decrease from 3 stitches to 2

Posted by HelenEdith on October 6, 2013

I found this useful decrease on the Internet and it’s just as well I wrote it down, because now I can’t find whose site I found it on.

So here it is:

k1 leaving the original stitch on the L needle
pss on R needle over new stitch
k2tog from L needle, this time dropping both stitches from the L needle

The result is that the first and third stitches meet and the middle stitch dives under them and disappears.

I don’t think it’s possible to do a 3-into-2 decrease where the middle stitch remains on top as it would probably need to have a loop remaining on the R needle after the decrease; and it would be impossible to maintain symmetry as there would have to be one other stitch and it would have to be either to the left or the right. However, someone might be able to prove me wrong. I’d certainly be interested in something that does a 3-to-2 but looks like the CDD where the centre stitch stands out on top.

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Big Catch-up

Posted by HelenEdith on September 23, 2011

This blog seems to have lapsed in recent months.

All I can say is that life got rather busy.

First it was building works around the house, which necessitated offloading a lot of our possessions into a self-storage unit at Big Yellow from where most of them have yet to emerge. I do actually miss some of them, but have to wonder about others. All I know is that the monthly rent is crucifying us, so we ought to be retrieving that stuff and finding somewhere to put it.

We also acquired two Bengal kittens, Bennie and Tricki, who are now full-grown cats. At least, I hope they are: Bennie weighs in at over 6kg! They haven’t been a total success as they’re not as friendly as the breed is reputed to be – particularly Tricki. Tricki is also a little unreliable and has just had her bedroom privileges revoked again. It cost £19 to clean the rather nice goose feather duvet which in no way resembles a litter tray, at least to my way of thinking!

Then we had a really bad month in July, which culminated in us losing Stephen’s Mum and inheriting her five cats, one of whom turned out to be in poor health. He also turns out not to like having his pills administered.

Feeding nine cats separated into two separate prides and administering daily medicine to one of them has turned into quite a responsibility. We intend to get the cats all integrated one of these days, but they’re still at the stage of being able to see one another through half inch wire mesh. I think the hissing is becoming less frequent and that Bennie may have stopped growling, so progress is probably coming along.

I’ve managed to keep up with the Beckenham Concert Band, apart from their London Open House engagement, which I did not sign up for. We were originally planning to visit the Crossness pumping works and see an engine in steam, but at the last moment we decided to go to a craft show at Sandown Park instead. It turned out to be everything that the Weald of Kent one we’d visited at Penshurst Place a week or two earlier wasn’t: namely that they were actually selling craft supplies rather than just finished products. Mind you, I managed to purchase six pairs of completed earrings and various pies, jams, chutneys and sauces at the Weald of Kent one. We really enjoyed ourselves at the one at Sandown Park, where we split up so that Stephen could “do” papercraft while I did jewellery and knitting. We’d really meant to do jewellery together, but it just didn’t happen, so maybe we will manage it if we go to the big show at Alexandra Palace.

It looks like I’ve acquired another hobby: in addition to my photography and bassoon playing, I have taken up knitting again. I’ve acquired a really good textbook and I’m knitting some squares at present using patterns in the textbook. They’re mostly turning out pretty well. Maybe I’ll get back into crochet and even learn to tat one of these days.

Work had a little hiccup in July as well as everything else that was going on: Xchanging announced that there would be a number of redundancies and we spent over a month on tenterhooks until we found out who the unlucky people would be. I’ve escaped with my job, but it makes one think. Should I try and stick with Xchanging for the rest of my career and go on contributing to the defined benefits pension scheme I’m in; or should I be looking around. I’m staying put for now, but maybe my new hobby should be studying the RPG IV and RPG ILE textbooks to make me more employable should the unthinkable happen.

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