The Tale of A Scarf: When Knitting Chooses You

September 2014 - wearing the scarf

September 2014 - wearing the scarf

Everybody says that I chose knitting, but I think knitting chose me. Yesterday I was looking through a drawer and came across a scarf I knitted in early, early 2008. Around the neck it went and I wore it running various errands. I wore it as a secret badge of honour.

This is what I was, this is me now, and this is what knitting brought me.

I fell horribly, terribly ill shortly after I moved to the UK. I don't talk about it much because it is a really boring topic, but I was very ill for many months. The illness meant I had to stay in bed and I could only do a very limited number of activities. I read a lot of books but I needed something else to do.

After one of my hospital visits, I persuaded David to stop at a local yarn shop. I bought a crochet hook and two balls of Twilley's Freedom Spirit from a quirky girl in the shop. I liked the name of the yarn and I liked that it was green. Dave was surprised I knew how to crochet. I made a hat that evening.

I crocheted more hats and gave them to friends. I realised that yarn was expensive and that crochet used a lot of yarn. On our next visit to the yarn shop, I bought a pair of knitting needles and three balls of Noro Silk Garden. I sat in bed wondering if I could remember how to cast on. While I was trying to remember, I looked down and my fingers had done it. Muscle memory from years ago. My body which had almost given out on me was now helping me. Knit two, purl two..

the scarf

the scarf

And this is it. A humble k2, p2 scarf in a Noro yarn. Looking at it now, my stitches are incredibly even, the edges are (mostly) slipped and the fringe is a bit awful looking. Starting this scarf was the start of many things in my life. Recovery, finding friends, building up a new life, and settling into what would become a passion and a career.

I knit a lot. I have knitted many, many things much more beautiful and much more complex than this scarf. But this is where it all began. This is when knitting chose me.

If You Are Going to the Woods Today..

bluebells A short and sweet post from me. I have a proper knitting post lined up for tomorrow, but this one is an important one.

It is tick season in the Northern hemisphere. My eye was caught by this BBC article about the European Space Agency backing work on mapping Scottish tick hotspots. The article is pretty good but also carries a really unfortunate image of a bullseye rash.

Here's the low down.

Ticks are tiny arthropods who like to suck blood from humans and animals. They range in sizes - the young ones are tiny and the size of a pin head. Grown-up ticks have a characteristic light brown body. Most ticks are harmless and won't harm you or your animals. Unfortunately a small number carry a bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi - this bacteria transmits Lyme Disease or Lyme borreliosis. And you really don't want to contract that.

How to Protect Yourself & Loved Ones from Tick Bites

  • Don't walk through long grass or brush against foliage.
  • Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts if you are outside. Tuck your trousers into your socks.
  • Wear light-coloured clothes so any ticks crawling on you can easily be detected (remember some of them are tiny)
  • Wear gloves when brushing yourself and your loved ones down before going inside
  • Check for small black dots and full-grown brown bodies in dark, damp and moist places- i.e. behind your ears, in your hairline, armpits and bikini line.
  • If you find a tick, you can try to remove it.

Remember that a tick bite does not mean you will automatically become ill! Don't panic but act responsibly.

So You May or May Not Have Been Bitten By a Tick

  • If you develop flu-like symptoms over the next six months, go see a doctor.
  • Symptoms of a Lyme borreliosis infection include rashes, headaches, facial paralysis, ear pain, fever, disorientation, joint pains etc.
  • People go on about bullseye rashes being a key symptom - not everybody develops this rash!
  • Lyme borreliosis is treatable with antibiotics and early intervention is key.
  • Read more here. Google responsibly (there is a lot of awful information and hand-waving out there).

I was bitten in the summer of 1996 and know first-hand what a tick bite can do to you. I only sought medical help after several months of unexplained ailments - don't be as stupid and naive as me. Go out, enjoy nature and be smart about protecting yourself & loved ones.

Much love.

Now We're Getting Somewhere

October2013 141 I was looking through an old photo folder when I came across this swatch I did for what would eventually become the Proserpine shawl. The swatch was knitted in an unreleased Old Maiden Aunt shade and I love how the camera picks up unexpected shades in the soft khaki green. Patterns have an interesting path they take from initial swatch to finished object. Proserpine was always going to be knitted in a rich, jewel-like shade, but for a short period of time it only existed partially in my head and partially in this soft green shade. Colours play such a part in how we see designs - once I knitted Proserpine in Caerthan's rich teal, it became a different, separate thing to what it was at this early stage. Part of me still wonders what it would look like in the OMA colourway. If I had but world enough and time..

.. if I had but world enough and time, I would knit many things.


(Loch Fyne earlier this year; so many ideas)

Maybe this is a good time to tell you that I have tentatively begun doing research into Something New. It is much too early to say more about it as I want to run this very differently than Doggerland. In fact, the research is at such an early stage that I'm yet to pull together a colour palette or formulate a design vocabulary (and all those other things that make my partner laugh when I start talking about them - "are you sure you didn't go to art school?"). But the idea is there, it has been there for some time and it keeps nudging me. All this is good.

However, first I will be focusing on other things. It is Wovember, after all, and I have a lot of travel time over the next few weeks. I am hoping to get a few knitted gifts done (strong emphasis on hope) and I have some delicious Blacker Yarn earmarked for that. I'm finishing up a few articles too and there is something very special in a knitting magazine later this month.

Just a brief, final note. I have been out for the count with a dreadful migraine for the first five days or so of this month. I took three days off (as I couldn't see out of my left eye!) and I'm now trying to get through all messages, mails, edits, revisions, and so forth as quickly as I possibly can - please be patient with me!

World Cup Knitting Injury

Many people don't like the World Cup in football. I do. It makes for great sample knitting company (especially because I have no stakes in this tournament) and I can zip through my to-do pile a lot quicker than if I were stuck watching TV series or films. And, honestly, I find assorted Tumblrs and various memes hugely entertaining. On that note, I would like to share my own World Cup injury. It seems as though there is apparently such a thing as too much knitting. Won't stop me from applying bandages and heading back onto the pitch. After all, I have matches to watch and things to finish.

BqhVsHXCMAAzLbV.png large

PS. button brains, I am looking for seven dark wooden buttons roughly 18mm - any good UK suppliers I've missed? The usual suspects of Textile Garden, eBay and Etsy have failed me.

Onwards & Upwards

January 2014 112

I am awash in a sea of teal. It being a "thing" for a "thing" I cannot spill too many details - except that I am currently 4380 sts away from finishing the thing (which equals about 3 hours of concentrated work - it's not a quick knit, alas). The "thing" has kept me company for the past few weeks of enforced rest and I shall be sorry to send it away.

Actually, the "thing" was much admired today by three new-to-knitting nurses. I spent some time at Glasgow's Western Infirmary getting my leg checked by an orthopaedic specialist and took my knitting with me in case I had to wait around. The verdict? My leg is still very bruised and if I am still struggling two weeks from now, I am to see the specialist immediately. Right now, though, there is no evidence of a torn ligament (hooray! silly A&E) but the tissue surrounding the ligament is definitely badly bruised. I am to rest my leg as much as possible but also begin to do exercises including prolonged periods of walking and gentle stretching.

I am hugely relieved by the news.

However, I do find walking very fatiguing and overwhelming. As a result I am having to postpone a few engagements over the next couple of weeks. I hate disappointing people but I'm really not at my best right now. I am very sorry.

Thank you to everybody who has been in contact over the last few weeks. Your messages, texts and emails have been enormously cheering.

Onwards and upwards.

Out of Joint

About two weeks ago I was working for a client in a yarn store when I suffered an accident. Some big shelves fell on the back of my knee and I was left with a very impressive bruise. As the bruise faded away, I expected to be back to normal but unfortunately my knee is still bad. knee_joint_webmd

I went to the A&E last week and they concluded that while I didn't have a fracture, the overarching conclusion is that I have torn or badly bruised my lateral collateral ligament. The LCL stabilises the outside of the knee and also grips the fibula (the outside bone of the lower half of the leg). I have an appointment with an orthopaedic clinic next week and hopefully that will lead to physiotherapy.

For me, enforced rest is always difficult. I like being active and I get easily bored if I'm restricted in my movements. I have kept myself going by writing patterns and doing some sample knitting, but as the days have passed I just feel increasingly worried about how long this is going to take and what that means for my working life. While it has been great to dig into some editing gigs, I have been forced to cancel quite a lot of jobs. March is going to be an exceptionally lean month, in other words. Being self-employed means a huge amount of freedom but it is also a precarious way of making a living.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday and it was a curiously low-key day. I received some lovely presents (among others: my bestie gave me an ace book on Doggerland and my parents gave me a fantastic-sounding novel about 18th C Danish colonisation of Greenland) but most of the day was spent resting in bed. We caught a taxi down to the best burger joint in town but although I enjoyed being outside Casa Bookish, I ended up in considerable pain (and waking up in the middle of the night begging for painkillers is not the best way to end my birthday).

So it is a hermit's life for me right now.

(If you need anything tech-edited, copy-edited or actually written, now is a fantastic time to get in touch (just fill in the form). If you were considering buying one of my patterns, now would be an equally great time to do so! If you want to recommend any knee exercises, leave a comment!)