Category Archives: health

Project polygamy

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Monogamy is for marriage. Not for crochet and knitting projects!

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The garter stitch wrap is a longer term project and these kinda make me antsy for some instant gratification: a quick project that will be a Finished Object really quickly. So, inspired by a podcast I was watching this week (Little Drops of Wonderful) in which I found out about a #cosyuptowintermal (AKA Cosy up to Winter MakeAlong), I made a teeny tiny crystal cover. The MakeAlong is all about knitting or crocheting a cosy for an inanimate object, something I have a fair amount of experience with! And when I was tidying up the coffee table before friends arrived, I found this piece of selenium in my yarn bowl. It now has a sort of cosy and hanging loop! It took a few attempts to come up with something that worked without covering up too much of the crystal.

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My other instant – well, short term – gratification project is this one. Two days to make these bulky mittens. The pattern is Morning Mittens from Make & Do Crew (honestly, I love lots of her patterns). Here’s a link to my Ravelry project page.

This is a knit-look crochet stitch called Waistcoat Stitch, which is single crochet worked into the body of the sc in the row below, rather than the two loops along the top. You really need to use a big hook and a loose tension with this. I caused pain in my right wrist and arm (the one I injured back in February) from working on these intensely the last two days. I also recommend a lighter coloured yarn, but I used this Red Heart With Love in Grape Jam because I wanted the mittens to coordinate with a slouchy hat and scarf that I made last year. (I didn’t find another home for those and when I went out walking yesterday I decided I would keep them and wear them.) The yarn is aran weight and used double stranded for this pattern. I did leave out a round of crochet in the straight part of the hand, and also on the thumb, as they would have been just a bit too big otherwise.

I have been enjoying lots of rest and relaxation in the week since my ear surgery. Apart from a slight bit of dizziness now and again and an occasional earache that disappears quickly I have been feeling fine. I still have another week off work. Some highlights coming up in the next few days: Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen film), a Christmas market, brunch at a vegan cafe, and a follow-up visit to my ear surgeon. OK, that last one isn’t exactly a fun one, but it’s on the schedule.

I’m hoping that I’ll find a nice Christmas tree on Saturday. December 1st seems like a good day to start brightening up the house for Yule/Solstice/Christmas. The boys aren’t bothered about gifts this year (we’ll probably give them some money) so it’s going to be all about the experiences. Tonight after dinner I was asking the family for ideas for their seasonal edible favourites. Mine include mince pies (made my own mincemeat already), fruit cake and gingerbread. I love the long dark evenings around the Solstice and the flavours of my favourite comfort foods. (Hopefully my sweet tastebuds will have returned fully in a few weeks – one of the side effects of the surgery.)

 

Post-op

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I am grateful and relieved that the surgery on my right ear is now behind me. As I explained in this recent blog post I have an inherited hearing problem that can be remedied with surgery. Well, Wednesday was the big day.

I went in early Wednesday and had the surgery that morning, and the rest of the day involved mostly sleep, nurses monitoring my pulse, BP and temperature, and an intimate relationship with a bedpan! Couldn’t get out of the bed the first day, which is understandable as a certain amount of dizziness and loss of balance is normal with inner ear surgery.

I have to say, the dizziness is way less acute this time, which made things a lot easier. And Thursday morning, my specialist did his rounds and was happy with my status and confirmed I could go home. Since being home, I have mostly sat on the couch, crocheted, messed about on my laptop, and drunk tea. Ate a small amount but didn’t want to overdo things.

Ah, the joys of sleeping in your own bed and using your own bathroom!

So of course I made plans for the perfect “recuperation project” to do while I am off work for two weeks, and I loaded up my nook next to the couch with DK yarns and opened up a tab on the computer for the Wayfarer Ruana. But first I wanted to make a shawl from a cake of Lion Brand Mandala, for which I chose the Echo Caves colourway. After some deliberation, I chose the Chic and Strong Crescent Shawl (link to my Ravelry project page which includes pattern link).

This took five days from start to finish, and that’s without working on it while in hospital. The first part is mindless half double crochet, increasing at each end of every row, and the lace edging is a more mindful seven rows of paying attention. Quite a good balance, really. I’m not sure about the foundation row, which was foundation double crochet, which makes for an odd shape across the top. If I made this again, I would do a chain start and go straight into the hdcs.

This took less than one cake, though I cut out some of the whitish colour to get to the green for the edging, which meant that I had to steal a little more green from a second cake to finish the last few inches of the last row. But that’s ok, because I had four cakes in this colourway.

Pre-blocking:

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During blocking:

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For the foreseeable future, I will have to keep my right ear dry so will be enlisting Tai Chi Man to help me with washing my hair and supervising me in the bath (in case of dizzy spells). I am now the proud owner of three titanium implants (two stapes and one plate in the wrist). While I would love to claim to be the Bionic Woman, I would rather avoid any more surgeries, thank you very much!

Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

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Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

Hats are relatively quick projects that are enjoyable and allow a lot of opportunity for creativity. Yes, you do have to make them to fit somebody, but there’s a lot of leeway there if you’re not attached to having them fit a particular person!

I finished two more hats, one crocheted, one knitted. The first is a free pattern from Yarnspirations called Cable Twist Hat. I haven’t done many crocheted cables, but they are pretty straightforward. However I can’t help feeling that the cable crossings would have been a lot simpler done right over left, rather than left over right. Also, I thought that the stitch count for the first round seemed way too big, so I took out a 12-stitch pattern repeat and worked on 60 stitches instead of 72. Bit of a mistake, really, as I failed to account for the “sucking-in effect” of the cable pattern, so ended up with a hat that would probably fit a ten year old rather than an adult woman.

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It fits Sally the Styrofoam Head perfectly. Shaun the Sheep is rolling his eyes at my thoughtless pattern adaptation!

The tension on this was quite tight with the Red Heart Super Saver and 5mm hook. I think if I were to make this again, I would keep the same stitch count but perhaps use a 6mm hook.

My other hat wasn’t made from a pattern. I wanted to use a new colourway of Bernat Pop that I found at Walmart. It’s called Candy Cane and has two shades of red, aqua, grey and a pinkish-white. I had two cakes, so started knitting the hat, pulling the yarn from the outside of one cake, and when I got to the Fair Isle pattern (which is in Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting) I used the second cake, pulling from the inside.

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The hat is definitely slouchy, and with the big pompom on top Sally didn’t want to stay upright. I had to use a yoga block to stop her falling over.

Once I had completed the first full pattern repeat, I decided to cut out a bit of the white so that the aqua would come into play for the second repeat. And then did the same again with the grey. I used all the colours in the pompom, which is the best one ever because I made it the old-fashioned way, the way we learned at school back in the 60s.

You need two circles of cardboard, cut about 3″ in diameter, with a centre hole cut about 1″ in diameter. (I didn’t measure, I just drew around a couple of things in my sewing room that looked about right. I don’t know what the perfect cardboard proportions are to come out with a perfectly spherical pompom –  mine is a little elongated – but it’s easy to trim it down if necessary.) One wraps the yarn around and around the cardboard, holding the two pieces together, until one can’t get any more yarn through the middle (a darning needle is an essential piece of kit here), then one cuts the yarn by inserting scissors between the two pieces of cardboard around the outside edge. Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the middle, then remove the cardboard, and hey presto! One has a fabulous pompom, full and squishy and awesome, not limp and scraggly like some I’ve seen.

It was a very busy weekend at work. I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I guess the sale got the people out, despite the huge (for us) amount of rain that’s fallen in the past week. Saturday was the busiest I’ve seen it in a long time. After three solid days of pounding the touch screen till at work, cutting fabric, and tidying up the store, my wrist is hurting, so today I decided to buy a basic support for it. I should probably have graduated to this after quitting my full wrist brace months ago, but have been managing without. However even eight months after the break/surgery I am not quite back to full, pain-free, use of my wrist. And I need to be careful not to overdo things and set myself back.

Today was errand day and I stopped in at a few places including Costco and a couple of bulk food stores. I was excited to find a Moo Free vegan chocolate advent calendar (made in Britain no  less) for December! I think that this year I will resurrect a tradition that has fallen by the wayside for a couple of years – that of making mincemeat ready for mince pies at Christmas. The recipe I have is vegan, and has no added fat, and you make it and put it into jars and let it sit in the fridge for six weeks. I love mince pies!

It looks like we will be having a low-budget Christmas this year. The boys are all young men now and are quite happy for us not to buy them stuff for the sake of it. Tai Chi Man and I buy what we want, when we want, throughout the year, so aren’t bothered about gifts under the tree. We will have to plan some great meals and some good fun entertainment. Maybe go to the movies, see a Christmas show, things like that.

I have ear surgery coming up in a couple of weeks time. I had the left ear “fixed” in 2015 due to a hereditary gradual deafness issue called otosclerosis. My mum had the surgery on one ear back in the 80s but never did have the other ear done. It involves a general anaesthetic; the eardrum is opened up, the calcification drilled away, and the stapes bone (one of the three teeny tiny bones in the ear that are supposed to vibrate together) is replaced with a titanium prosthesis. This surgery will be on my right ear, and my third piece of titanium (left ear, wrist and now right ear)! I am turning into the bionic woman. Just as well it doesn’t set off airport security scanners!

I have two weeks booked off work, which was an adequate amount of time in 2015 for me to feel sufficiently recovered to get back into the usual routine. I know what to expect (a mixed blessing: the vertigo is horrendous at first) and I am confident of a good result. I will be able to say goodbye to the remaining hearing aid, which will be wonderful. I will need to keep that ear dry for months afterwards, not to mention being very careful not to topple over at first, so Tai Chi Man will be back to helping me shower until I am steady again.

Hope you have a happy crafty week. Back soon!

Thursday’s threads, therapy and thankfulness

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Hello, lovely people. How are you today? I had a very pleasant day. My appointment with my hand therapist went well. I was only with her for 15 minutes so she could check how my wrist is coming along. She measured my flexibility (with her angle measurer thingy) and my grip strength and it’s all improving. She said to keep doing what I’m doing, and to be honest I haven’t been too diligent on the hand stretches but I’ve been knitting and crocheting like mad, and even sewing too. It all helps, I think.

So I’m thankful that my wrist is getting better, with only the occasional ache and twinge, and I’m determined that by the time my holiday comes around in August that I will be 100%.

After my appointment, I had tea with Tai Chi Man. Today I had Assam TGFOP. I know the OP stands for orange pekoe, in other words good old black tea, but the rest I have forgotten. I have it with a little plain soymilk, no sweetener. Tai Chi Man had his usual Extreme Green. And after a sit and a knit and a chat with him, he went back to work and I took a tea to my friend at her office and we sat outside on a sunny bench for half an hour.

This is my knitting project…

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It’s the yarn I bought at my LYS last year and took to Maui in December. I started crocheting a ripple scarf but didn’t like all the cut ends and couldn’t see myself finishing it. So after a long rest in its bag for five months I took it out, unravelled it, and found a new project for it. This is the Pool Party Cowl and I found it, of course, through Ravelry. It starts out with a kind of broken seed stitch in colour A, in my case the variegated, and then starts on the woven pattern, where you knit two rows with A and then weave two rows with B, the green solid. (Edited to add that this yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a cotton acrylic blend with a touch of metallic.)

I can’t tell you how happy I am with this cowl. I definitely did the right thing unravelling the scarf.

So, now to the threads mentioned in the title. I had an idea fermenting in the back of my mind after watching the Smells Like Yarn podcast. Ross keeps showing off a WIP in the Rocko bag made by his friend, DarnYarnMN. It is a zippered pouch with a clear vinyl window at the front. I wanted to try making one (or three) and I have lots of pieces of cotton fabric in my stash. I bought some iron-on interfacing, zippers and clear vinyl from work the other day and dove in.

Whilst I did watch a basic bag tutorial on You Tube, it didn’t include the clear window, so I basically made it up. I’m mostly happy with this bag, except for the fact that the raw ends of the zipper aren’t enclosed within the lining, and neither are my seam allowances, because I couldn’t figure out how to do that with the window in the front of the bag. Anyway, this was just my first effort, and there will be more versions in the future, I’m sure. (The size of this is about 10″ square.)

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The second bag I made is a drawstring bag, and the instructions come from a book I own, Weekend Sewing. I’ve made this bag before in a smaller size. The cut size of the back piece was 15 x 12″, so that’ll give you an idea of the finished size. The front is made from two panels of fabric and one of vinyl. I’m learning some new things, what with having to use a special machine needle to sew vinyl, and how to feed it through so that the stitches stay even. I did cut the ribbon too short because I forgot that each piece has to go all around the top of the bag, not just across one side.

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I’m not sure whether there is a way to avoid the vinyl crunching up and getting little dings in it when turning the bag right side out, or if there’s a way to smooth it out once you’ve done that. I bought the medium weight one. Maybe others use the thinnest kind.

We’ve had some hot days already and it feels like summer has arrived. The thermometer has exceeded 30 degrees a couple of times. I have to say I prefer mid-twenties for comfort. We don’t have (and don’t want) air conditioning at home, though I do have it in my car and I’m very thankful for it. This evening, we have all the windows open and there’s quite a wind blowing through, the wind chimes are clanging, and it feels very comfortable.

Enough waffling, I think. Have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day!

S is for Saturday, sunhats, single crochet and stash

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G’day! How’s it going? If you’re in Canada, I hope you’re having a wonderful long weekend. Mine is somewhat interrupted, as I will be working tomorrow. But not Monday.

My wrist has been pushed to the limit today. I seem to be in frenzied crocheting mode. Maybe I’m trying to make up for lost time. I have started the project pictured above, which I am hoping will turn out to be a wearable brimmed sunhat made with Hemp for Knitting’s Allhemp 6. It’s a DK weight yarn and I’m trying a 3.75mm hook with it. No pattern. After all, I’ve made a billion hats. (Tai Chi Man says I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for making so many hats. He just doesn’t understand hyperbole, obviously.)

Anyway, that was yesterday, but I could only do a small bit of the crown before my wrist complained. That hemp yarn is STIFF! So I moved over to dishcloth cotton. I already made these earlier in the week…

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…two of which I sent off to my father-in-law with the two hats. One, I kept.

So last night I started a pink dishcloth, as I had three balls of Bernat Handicrafter in the stash from I-don’t-know-where, and today I took the bag of yarn and the 6mm hook with me while on errands and crocheted while Tai Chi Man drove. I also crocheted while walking around Lee Valley (Canadian store, not an actual valley) and at our fave tea shop. And now I have these…

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I am finding these very satisfying. Basic single crochet with an sc border. Twenty stitches wide and as many rows as it takes to make a square. If I didn’t think my wrist would seize up completely, I’d be starting another scrappy one right now to use up the leftovers.

Surprisingly, after dinner I felt quite energetic and decided that as long as I didn’t sit on the couch and get settled in I would be quite amenable to going to the gym. So we went. Definitely better to spend an hour (treadmill, weights machines) at the gym than veg on the couch the whole night. Our busy Saturday is drawing to an end and I feel like I achieved a lot. (I am seriously wondering whether I could manage to crochet while on the treadmill.)

Today’s tea shop experience was Lavender Lady Grey as a latte with almond milk and agave. What’s your fave tea?

 

 

F is for Friday, Finishes, Food and Fitness

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Happy Friday, everyone! Thursday and Friday were kinda my weekend, as I’m working Saturday and Sunday. The forecast is for 28 degrees on Sunday.

I finished the hat that I started last night. It went quickly as I had plenty of opportunities to work on it today and I love it.

In the end, the hat incorporated the bright orange and purple parts of the Mandala cake, which is perfect, and used so little yarn that I have about half of the 150 gram cake left after finishing two beanies. It’s not quite as deep as the knitted hat, but I made it the same circumference – eighteen inches.

After a couple of months of more sedentary behaviour (following my accident) and just a few too many cheats and treats, I have been feeling somewhat blobby (proven by the spare tires that were exposed to the sun today). So I am being more careful with my food intake, both quality and quantity. Aiming to keep the Whole Food Plant Based No Oil ethics in mind, I am eating better, and also back to pushing it more at the gym. Yesterday and today I spent about an hour and a quarter at World Gym. I took my iPad which meant I could entertain my brain while I was on the treadmill for 40 minutes, and then followed that up with loose weights and machines. I wore my wrist brace of course but I am trying to do some upper body work, using a lighter dumbbell in the right hand. It’s amazing how a couple of months of injury time really set me back.

Smoothies are back on the menu now that the warmer weather is here. Last night we had one of my favourite meals, tortilla wraps with black beans, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, cucumber, and my home-made smoky chipotle tofu-cashew mayo. I even had the same thing for breakfast, thanks to leftovers.

Today I baked wholewheat hamburger buns and black bean burgers, and we had them with ketchup, mustard, smoky mayo, avocado, tomato and lettuce.

It was a fabulous Friday. I hope yours was too.

 

 

FO: Bill’s hat

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The info on the pattern and yarn for this hat is in my previous post. As I was loving the muted shades that had come out of the yarn cake for the majority of the hat, I stopped before the brighter orange, wound off a bit from the outside of the cake, and used the brownish purple for the very tip top instead. That way, all the colours have the same tone.

The hat used less than 50 grams, which means I have at least 100 grams left in the cake (and the small balls that were wound off to get the colours to behave themselves) and I could actually make two more hats. Three hats from one cake, and they’d all look completely different!

Sally the Styrofoam Head is a little smaller than a real head so she doesn’t accurately represent the size comparative to a real person, but she is useful for blocking on.

The weather has been very Spring-like the last week. And it seems to be paying attention to my work days. Tuesday and Wednesday I was working, Thursday and Friday I wasn’t, and the sun shone and it made for lovely hiking and a bit o’ sunbathing. Even some dinner outside on the deck Friday evening, followed by some knittin’.

I worked all weekend and the wrist was quite painful after the busy sale days. The sky was cloudy with a few spits of rain but I didn’t mind because I was indoors.

Then Monday and Tuesday were again fine – a mix of sun and cloud, another walk with a friend…

Some pretty views of the lake and mountains from the high vantage point. The Arrowleaf Balsamroot is out in force – it’s such a bright and welcome addition to the hillsides at this time of year. (Click on the pics if you want to see them bigger.)

I was a good girl today and went to the gym this morning. Thirty minutes on the treadmill, made easier by the fact that I remembered my iPad and earbuds. Then some weights, including a few careful exercises with a 3lb and 5lb dumbbell with the right hand. Tonight Tai Chi Man and I are going to a yoga class.

I have to run – need to get into my yoga gear and get out of the house shortly. Happy crafting, everyone.

 

 

The brim is done!

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It took six days but I managed three inches of knitting stockinette in the round for the hat for my father-in-law, and tonight did the folding/provisional cast on removal/three needle trick to get the folded brim all done. I have now graduated to the larger needle tip (US#5) for the body of the hat.

I’m pleased that when I folded it I didn’t lose all the blue to the back. The dark green is nice, but I’ll enjoy the brighter colours even more. I love the feel of this Lion Brand Mandala yarn – it’s very wool-like.

Yesterday I had my last X-ray and doctor checkup for the time being (six weeks post-surgery) and today I met with a hand therapist at the hospital and was given exercises to do. She measured the angle that I could move my hand to in different directions so that we can check for progress next time. I’m also supposed to apply a bit of pressure to the scar tissue with my thumb and move the skin around to prevent adhesions underneath the incision area – not keen on that!

My boss is going to be scheduling me for shifts the week after next. I will have to take things slowly. I will be able to do cash, as that is mostly operating a touch screen, but I’m hesitant to try cutting and lifting fabric too soon. A nice co-worker has lent me a pair of left-handed scissors which I’m going to practice with, as that would solve the cutting problem at least. As for lifting, I can barely hold a small mug of tea or a book so bolts of fabric are out of the question.

Hope you have a great day! TTYS

WIP: Bill’s vanilla hat

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I was feeling so accomplished after the Paper Bag Princess project was done, despite the delays and discomfort from my wrist injury. At the beginning of this year, I had a goal in mind (uncharacteristically) to make 12 sweaters in 12 months. I whizzed through the first two, and was almost done with the third, all in the space of a month and a half, when the snowboarding crash happened.

It’s been two months since then, and for a while I couldn’t do any crochet or knitting. Then I managed some gentle crochet, left handed, and made a bulky cowl and finished off the doll project. Encouraged by that, I decided it was time to try knitting.

Of course, my sweater goal has been pretty much abandoned, at least for the time being. But I wanted to make something for my father-in-law, who, like my mother, is often very generous. He is getting on in years and I have heard he is feeling the cold more these days. Even though he hasn’t been a hat-wearer in the many years I’ve known him, I feel that he will appreciate one made out of a colourful yarn. If nothing else, he loves his colour.

So out from the stash came the Lion Brand Mandala in the colourway Chimera, which is what I would describe as a muted rainbow. Blue through dark and light green, mustard yellow, orange, magenta and brown. I have only made one other project with the Mandala – my Spill shawl – but I love this DK weight yarn and the colours it comes in.

The pattern I chose is the Vanilla Hat. It’s a really basic stockinette hat with a folded hem and a simple crown with four decrease lines leading to the centre. I’m not sure how many of the colours of the cake will fit into the hat, but I’m hoping for the brightest ones at least.

Progress is slow. When I first cast on, my gauge was a little loose so I ended up ripping out the first few rounds and restarting with a smaller needle size – US#4 (3.5mm). During my first session of working on this hat, I was feeling quite comfortable, thinking how my wrist seemed happy to be knitting. Unfortunately the next day I changed my mind. I think the fine motor movements of the Continental knitting, which does have a reasonable economy of motion, aggravated some out-of-practice muscles and tendons. So I am having to be careful to do a small amount at a time.

My hospital appointment for the six week post-surgery checkup is this Tuesday. I hope to hear that my recovery so far is typical for the type of injury. If I am to get back to normal, or as close as possible, I know that I have to exercise the hand and wrist and that some pain is to be expected.

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and that your crafting is going well. What are you making?

WIP: The Paper Bag Princess

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The Princess doll has come along well in the last few days. Her paper bag dress is done, but her crown is not. I did try it with some yellow yarn but it came out too big and I’d like to find some metallic gold embroidery thread. 

Considering how much girls like to dress dolls, I decided to make the dress and cardigan from the same pattern but had to take a break when my wrist hurt too much. I’ll show you those next time. 

The grapevine wreath on my kitchen wall was looking very outdated as it still held the crocheted fall leaves, pumpkins and sunflower from autumn. Today it was taken apart and, considering my crochet output is so little at the moment, I cheated by using my Shaun the Sheep and a bunch of cotton minis from the stash to fill the wreath. It will have to do until I can up my game!


My wrist was quite sore yesterday and again today, and I think it’s partially due to exercises I did after watching a couple of physiotherapist videos on You Tube and partly the crochet. It worries me a little, but not having anything to compare with means I don’t know if my healing expectations are reasonable.  The skin is sensitive around my wrist – cuffs chafe unpleasantly now that I’m leaving off the brace more during the day – and the joint is still quite inflexible. 

Next appointment is April 10th, and hopefully all will look good.