Tag Archives: Knitting

Yarn therapy

It’s been a pretty busy few days here what with trips to the dentist and Inverness as well as a whole heap of other stuff going on.

As always, my crocheting and knitting makes everything easier to manage; there been a lot of discussion recently about how therapeutic they are and I can certainly attest to that. Whether it’s filling the boring hours of car journeys, distracting myself while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room or giving me something to focus on during an especially stressful day I can guarantee that playing with yarn makes it better.

My current WIP, a crocheted poncho in alpaca

I first started knitting and crocheting about 10 years ago when I was working in mental health. One of the main things I enjoyed was seeing tangible results because after spending the day delivering talking therapy, it was hard to know if I’d said the right things, kept quiet when it was needed and generally supported clients in the right direction. So being able to whip up a hat over the weekend made me feel as though I’d actually achieved something.

Nowadays the thought of living with a chronic illness without the distraction of yarn is difficult to imagine. I belong to a few online support groups and frequently come across fellow sufferers really struggling with feeling useless, I’m very fortunate to not feel this way as all I have to do is look around our house to see the results of my crafting and there is the odd item living in other people’s homes too.

There’s also how knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving adds to my identity. I’m not merely someone with M.E. and I can do stuff that doesn’t cause me to crash (much!). I have a set of skills I can share and nothing brings me more joy than seeing someone to whom I was also to pass on some knowledge to develop a similar passion for fibre.

Ok so this has been a pretty reflective post; I often do something called a gratitude list and something fibre related always features in my top five.

Last week I had a couple of days when, during a flare, I wasn’t able to do much due to pain in my hand. It really brought home, as these things inevitably do, what a huge part of my life all this has become. Fortunately it didn’t last very long and I’m back with my numerous Wips, projects and the usual cursing because I can’t find the right needles/cable needle/stitch markers!

I hope your crafts bring you as much joy. Go well.

2017 into 2018

It been a while…we went away for a couple of weeks over Christmas and I’m still recovering. The world down south is so fast, noisy and busy! Everything that used to appeal to me, like the shops and places to eat out now hold no such joy, I just find the choice stressful.

We didn’t visit England for those kind of things though, we visited family and it was lovely to catch up with some relatives we haven’t seen for quite a while. It’s good to be home and I’ve been enjoying the peace and quiet as well as our comfy bed.

At the beginning of 2017 I started a Beekeepers Quilt, made from lots of little hexipuffs, the plan was to make one a day for the whole year. I lasted until June when somehow my focus wavered and the project got hidden away in my pile of shame with all the other unfinished WIPs. So come 2018 and I unearthed the bag full of puffs and had a wee play with them. They’re so cute, I began to sew some together and it was lovely to remember where the yarn came from for each one.

So my plan is to gradually assemble the blanket – I have enough for a small one – then decide if I want to add some more or just leave it as a little one.

To be honest, I’m not sure where it will live once finished; usually blankets are thrown over the sofas here but we have two furry and often slightly muddy dogs who love to snuggle up in them. This blanket won’t be washable, well not easily anyway, plus some of the yarns aren’t that robust so it’s a bit of a quandary. I suspect this is one of the reasons I got a bit un-enamoured with it.

Right onto some other projects: This year I’m making a temperature rug; there’s no pattern as I’m just crocheting a row of single crochet every day in a colour corresponding with the daily temperature outside.

You can see that ‘cloud’ is missing, it’s currently attached to the blanket as it was a chilly 0 degrees today. I’m using good old Stylecraft Special, but Aran weight with a 4mm hook to make a slightly denser, thicker fabric that will hopefully be suitably rug-like.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything other than blues for a while yet.

Before I go, I’d like to briefly show you the cushion cover I’ve just finished. Last year I thought it would be fun to participate in a fibre Advent Calender, I found one by Siobhan Crafts so had an exciting little package to open every day. The fibre was gorgeous, it had a pink theme and was a mix of mini-batts, locks, rolags and pencil roving. I spun each day onto two bobbins and plied them last week.

The package for the 24th contained a very cute orifice hook with a little sheep on the end as well as some other goodies. It was very good value as a heap of work must have gone into the dyeing and fibre prep., I think I paid around £28 for what turned out to be well over 200g as well as some other bits and pieces. I’d really recommend next years if you’re a spinner.

Attic24 is currently running a CAL (crochet along) in a kind of feather and fans pattern and I thought it’d would be perfect for my yarn as the stripes would show off the different colours in my skein. I’m super pleased with my little cushion, I had just enough yarn and it goes super well with the bright colours in our back room.

Being adult (!!)

Despite being well into my middle age, I’m still not very good at adulting. I’m too impulsive and needful of instant gratification for starters. I’m now older than my Mum was when my memories of her begin and she always seemed so grown up. Maybe it’s a perception thing, you know, judging others’ outsides by my insides. I have no idea if she still felt 18 that time at Christmas when we had my nan, aunt, uncle and cousin to stay where everything was super organised and ran perfectly to plan. I can’t begin to think how to manage a holiday on that scale, including matching bed sheets and towels for everyone!

The thing is, I’ve never felt grown up, whatever that feels like. I’ve had friends who manage to achieve it, from the immaculate house, to well-managed finances and yearly holidays in adult only hotels as well as the patient maturity where they don’t allow their emotions to get the better of them. Ever. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends.

I’m still a hormone riddled, insecure, messy and disorganised teenager at heart. I’m a little older in somethings; I flounce less, sulk even less (not difficult as I think I spent from 12 to 17 in one continuous sulk) and, whilst I don’t actually do it myself (Mr Weaving Heart is the designated packer), my bags are packed at least two hours before departure these days.

Knitting, crochet etc is very good at teaching me to adult. It requires patience and persistence. I remember my Dad noting on the first occasion I proudly presented a finished object that it was the first occasion I’d actually stuck with something. Not a great achievement at the grand old age of 36.

One of the ultimate tests of fibre grown up-ness is making a garment from fleece to finish. It requires a fairly large quantity of spinning all the same fibre, knitting of said yarn into something wearable. Now for someone with the attention span of a gnat, it can be a tough call. However, I’m well on my way to completing a Comfort Fade Cardi with a handspun fade sweater pack from Hilltop Cloud.

I think the main reason for my success is that the spinning kind of snook up in me; I worked my way through the five braids almost without noticing while I was engrossed in my Lilliana blanket (I’ve just realised I haven’t blogged about finishing this! You can take a look at it by clicking in the link) so that was painless. As for the knitting, it’s been super quick as I started it less that a week ago and I’ve nearly finished the first sleeve so will hopefully have it this weekend.

So although it’s a big project, it hasn’t required any real maturity of sticking with something. As for that quality, well, we’re coming to the end of the year when I’ll be reflecting on my progress with the goals I set myself at the beginning of 2017, including my hexipuff blanket project. Hum. All I can say is don’t hold your breath.

Hi ho

The suicide rate for people with ME is nearly seven times higher than the so-called normal population (see here).

For us living with ME this isn’t surprising. Right now I’d love a day where climbing the stairs doesn’t feel like climbing a mountain and this is every day, day in, day out.

So as you may have gathered I’m feeling pretty sh**e right now. 

About five years ago, after my diagnosis was confirmed by a consultant, who threw in fibromyalgia for good measure, I started on some pain meds. One of those was pregabalin (aka Lyrica), a medication that’s prescribed for anxiety and seizures but is also pretty good for pain. At one point I was on 600mg daily but after having reduced very slowly I took my last dose a few days ago. 

It’s a pretty nasty drug by some accounts; hailed as the new wonder drug, it has become apparent that it can be abused as well as being found to essentially cause brain damage (see here – the research refers to gabapentin, the precursor to pregabalin and it is believed that the research applies to both).

For me, it worked really well at first, but like most of these things, my soreness gradually returned and as I had also gained a whole heap of weight on it, I decided enough was enough and agreed with my GP to come off it. It’s not a drug you can stop abruptly, there’s the risk of seizures and some other pretty unpleasant unwanted effects if you do. I found a group in Facebook (here), followed their guidelines and reduced gradually without any major discomfort.

Now I’m off! I am feeling a bit rough now, but I don’t know if it’s due to this or it’s just a bad few days as it feels like exactly ME. 

So to cheer myself up here is a list of things I’m absolutely loving right now

1. Ok, let’s get the cheese over and done with: top of the list has to be Mr Weaving Heart. It’s rotten for him when I’m really unwell, I’m no fun as even speaking is pretty much ruled out and I’m a stubborn old thing too and will insist on doing stuff when I really should be letting him take care of it all. He’s even taken to dosing me with Smarties! I have a pill box thing, as I was getting into bother with forgetting whether or not I’d taken doses so he fills this every night, now with added chocolate as he thinks I deserve a treat. How lovely is that?

2. My knitting: I’m brioching. It’s fab and I adore the smooshy, squidgy fabric it makes. What helps is I’m using some merino/cashmere/nylon from Qing Fiber which must be the softest bounciest yarn ever. 

3. This stitching: it’s a design by Ink Circles called Damask Square, and is my ‘easy’ (ha!) cross stitching project. I’m sewing 2 over 2 on 28 count grey Irish linen, making it the same as 14 count Aida so nice and big but oh so elegant. The thread is overdyed cotton floss from Weeks Dyeworks in amber and is such a good contrast with the smokey coloured background. The texture, which I can’t really capture by photo, is perfect.

4. I’ve just finished reading an entire 16 book series by Robin Hobb; similar to Game of Thrones, it’s based in a fantasy world with medieval overtones and fabulous characters. You know how you fall in love with certain characters and storylines? Well I’m still in that, thinking about them and coming to terms with the fact that most of the rest of the world has no idea of the adventure I’ve just been on. For those of you in the know, Fitz, the Fool and Nighteyes have my heart forever.

5. Flapjack: I’m not up to eating much but could manage an entire bus load of this gorgeous sticky, sugary, oaty loveliness.

How to tell you’re a fibreholic

1. When most textiles in your home have little resident ‘fuzzies’; I could probably clean off a good 50g of random fluff from various curtains, chairs and rugs. Bonus points for sparkle.

2. When you regard your house as being spotless despite the previous point because discarded fibre is decor right?

3. An easy one but when every room in your house (except the bathroom – steam and fibre do not a happy marriage make) is essentially fibre storage, living space is secondary (while trying to come up with an example of this, I honestly couldn’t think what else you might keep in your drawers other than fibre, yarn and tools for working with said items) (I mean obviously there’s going to be the odd man drawer and who knows what’s in those but other than that…) 

4. When rooms are divided into ‘areas’; like there’s my place for Nunoco fibre, I have a special sweater yarn stash and it’s really important to keep commercially dyed sock yarn away from indie dyed as you know a skirmish will break out if they get too close.
5. When people come into your house for the first time, they look around looking slightly confused and tend to make odd strangled noises. It’s important to remember this:


Just because having piles of animal fur around the place is entirely normal, not everyone has realised this yet

6. Most meals come garnished with the odd stray strand of wool or if you’re lucky, cashmere

7. Absolutely every container holds fibre of some description 

8. When your other half (God bless Mr Weaving Heart) calmly accepts that whilst they are not able to leave anything lying around, you will leave a path of spindles, bags of fibre, random clumps of roving, piles of knitting, stitch counters, lazy Kates, odd bobbins and spindle bowls in your wake. You can usually work out where I was last sitting by the number of these items piled around it.

9. It’s not unusual to discover spinning fluff bunnies in your knickers

10. Dressing gowns are especially prone to collecting fibre, I’m usually attached to several ozs of roving, generally offset to my left (drafting) side

11. There are infinite places for your cat to snuggle down in.


12. The bath and/or sink is just as likely to contain wool as an actual person 

So there you have it, I’m clearly beyond help, maybe you’re not but why bother even resisting?!

Back to Blog

Did you know this blog has been going for four years?!? That’s a lot of yarn, knitting, spinning and nonsense. I have been wondering whether or not to continue, I mean why on earth do I do it? Some of you lovely readers have been with me since the beginning (for which you really should be awarded some kind of endurance prize) and others might dip in and out occasionally. Altogether there are, on average, 16,000 of you a year (well not so many the first couple of years but now that seems to be my stable readership). Thank you, having just gone to find that out, I’m pretty astounded to be honest.
But back to my wondering about blogging and life and the universe in general. Well, just the former really. I started a video blog for a couple of weeks, however I have decided not to continue, for several reasons. Firstly, it’s more work over an intense period. I thought talking to camera would be easier than actual writing, energy wise, but as it happens, this is less tiring. Then there’s the exposing factor. I mean you get to see me with all my stutters, pauses and sniffs (I discovered I do that a lot!) whereas there’s a chance to edit this (I know you can edit videos but I have no idea how to and no inclination to find out). So I think the blog is the way forward for now.

Right, now we’ve sorted out that dilemma, let’s return to a little yarny chat.

I have two main wips on the needles and one finished object. Joji Locatelli released a new pattern not so long ago (have you noticed she’s one of the pattern monsters? She releases tons of them, I have no idea how she manages it) called ‘I see Spring‘, which is a plainish boxy-style sweater with just a little lace detail at the front neckline. Having some Eden Cottage Titus burning a hole in my stash I thought it would be perfect; I was right! It’s a lovely pattern with some interesting short row shaping and I’m really pleased. I know I’m pleased as I didn’t take it off for about a week after finishing it.


My only misgivings are that I made the sleeves slightly too long, although I quite like that as it makes little ‘hand hugs’, and that the Titus, probably due to the silk content, is very unforgiving. You can see every tiny inconsistency and hiding balls changes is difficult so I think in future I’m going to save it for shawl knitting. I like the boxy shape and the dropped shoulders, especially as it means you don’t have much knitting to do on the sleeves, plus the colour is very wearable. I’m a bit slow to the party as it’s only just dawning on me that I need to knit in colours I actually wear as opposed to any random pretty skein colour.

So I had my usual couple of days of moping about with finished object trauma then started this

which is on its way to being Tegna from Caitlin Hunter (aka Boylandknitworks). After the lace border, it’s a tedious hike through stocking stitch tundra but at least this one has short sleeves (there’s a tiny voice inside reminding me I hate short sleeved tops, but my other ‘this time it’ll be different’ voice is happily drowning that out).

And to see me through the boredom, I’ve started a shawl from Curious Handmade, I’ll tell you more about it next time but here’s a wee photo to keep you going.

Cat and Sparrow Fibre Club Review

The lovely Racheal of Cat and Sparrow has started a monthly fibre club inspired by world feast and festivals. Being one of my favourite dyers and fibre suppliers I had to try it out.

Prior to signing up though, I was mindful of the theme of the club; it’s only too easy for people of privilege, of which I’m one, to trivialise other cultures and belief systems so I discussed the question of cultural appropriation with Rachael via her Facebook page. I was reassured that it was to be a thoughtful and considered theme and not an insensitive exploitation of other cultures. I find one of the disadvantages of living in the Highlands is I miss experiencing other cultures in the way I did when I lived and worked in a very diverse city so I saw this was a way of continuing my education.


So I was very excited to receive the first parcel.

I chose to spin the above first, on my ladybug using the medium whorl to give a ratio of 6.5:1, to give a loosely spun 2 ply worsted spun yarn. 

It’s a blend of silk, alpaca and wool and because I didn’t want it to get too muddy looking I decided to split it into colour groups first comme ça


It spun beautifully and made this pretty skein which has been added to my collection!


This club also contained some different blended top, some silk hankies (! They’ll be fun!) as well as some dyed mohair locks which I’m saving for the Tour de Fleece as I love a little lock spinning in between finer spins. I’m really looking forward to the next month’s parcel, it’s so exciting to open.

Just quickly before I go, I finished this too. It’s a Snowmelt Shawl, there was a mystery knit along on Ravelry earlier this year but as I prefer to see the whole project first before I commit to it, I’ve waited until now to give it a go. It’s honestly the best written pattern I’ve come across, with the percentage completed alongside the instructions which is encouraging. The lace is very simple but did require lots of stitch markers to keep me on track. It’s made me realise how much better I’m doing health wise too, as there’s no way I could’ve tackled this kind of project earlier in the year. But I have a clearer mind so it’s easier to follow patterns that aren’t just straight stocking stitch.


The yarn is some gorgeous Titus by Eden Cottage Yarns, a blend of silk and merino that’s perfect for a shawl project. I have some more in my stash waiting for the right sweater pattern too…