Showing posts from March, 2012

Hats off to you!

I'm a hat person. I love designing, knitting and wearing hats, so no doubt there'll be at least a couple in my next book.  I've been looking at the sort of hats I've designed over the years and it's soon clear that I do love the beret. For my market research it would be great if you could let me know your faves - the sort of hats you like to both knit and wear.
Boho is from my second collection for Artesano, a Fair Trade yarn company specialising in yarns from South America. It was inspired by a similar hat worn by the little girl in the film Secret GardenI've vamped it up a little with tiny bugle beads in the centre of each flower for a 1920s sort of look.
Another design for Artesano, this time inspired by the Peruvian Chulo hat.  Worn in the Andes to keep the head and ears warm and usually made from alpaca yarn, as it's both warm and a good insulator.
Aquamarine was from my first Manos collection, featuring an easy drop stitch pattern with a couple of …

Back to work!

It's been ten days since my mother died and the funeral was yesterday, somehow completing the circle.  I understand that to say this is closure would be foolish, but I do feel I can now resume my life without my mother. She'll always live on in my thoughts, like other people who've left my life before her.

Lily's funeral was a truly lovely occasion, better than I'd ever hoped for.  Sunshine, stories and songs - even the birds joined in with a sweet chorus during the contemplation - and her favourite daffodils everywhere in full bloom. I know she would have approved.

I haven't knit a stitch for nearly three weeks - this must be a record? Just getting my thoughts in order to deal with everything, both practical and emotional, has been a major achievement recently.

The yarn for the first three projects in my next book arrived from Rowan a couple of weeks ago and the first deadline looms mid April, so I've really got to pull out all the stops now and get on wit…

My mother and I

Dipping in and out of all your lovely messages and wise words has been hugely comforting over the past week. To hear your stories about the loss of your own mothers has been both soothing and reassuring and I thank you all so much for sharing them. The warmth and solace that your messages bring with them might seem disproportionate to the content, but just reading them makes me know that we're never on our own.

Strange the cards we are dealt. My mother was an intelligent woman who either didn't have the right circumstances to develop her intellect or maybe she never wanted to and the curiosity was missing.  Either way I feel sad that she could have had a much happier life - on her own terms not mine. Her cup was always half empty and she was always afraid of what others might think. I remember her telling me when I was in my early teens that she would rather I went into town with rollers in my hair, plus headscarf, rather than chance any of her friends meeting me and seeing th…


Lily died this morning on Mothers Day. She was peaceful and I think ready to go. I don't have my own words to say how I'm feeling other than I now understand why this popular anonymous poem has become an anthem for the bereaved.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
Am not there, I did not die.

My thanks to you all for your kind messages and thoughts x


I'm so very touched and comforted by everyone's kind words and thoughts - my thanks to each of you.

Lily has been battling on with palliative care only over the past couple of days and it's hard to know where she's finding the strength. I don't have much to say right now as it's too difficult for me to put complex feelings into words, but everyone at the hospital is kind and caring, trying to make my mother's last days as comfortable as possible.

It's upsetting and scary for me to see her doing what they call Cheyne stoking, but her consultant assures me it's part of the process and that it's not distressing for her. I pray he's right.

Not sure what's been happening on the blog tour, but Philip says it's all going well and that it's the lovely Carla Meijsen's stop today at Life'n Knitting in Rotterdam.  Thanks to everyone for your knowledgeable and interesting reviews, it's consoling to know that so many of you appre…

Sad times

My mum had a massive stroke a couple of days ago. The doctors were amazed she survived it, I'm not sure it's a good thing that she has. I feel bad about thinking this, as I know her will to live is very strong, even though she has many serious health issues. However, her quality of life has been poor at best for the past couple of years, she's elderly, frail and this seems to be the final straw. The stroke has left her unable to speak or swallow and paralysed down her right side, although her doctor says she can hear. At the moment she's kept hydrated with a drip and food comes through a tube in her nose and the only other treatment seems to be time. They say the next few days will be crucial.

My fear is that she's afraid and anxious (which she is at the best of times), locked in her body and unable to communicate how she feels. Yesterday she developed a nasty infection, so was given constant oxygen, a course of antibiotics, another drug to bring her heart-rate dow…

Socks and the braid pattern

I've been meaning to feature some of the techniques I've used in Sweet Shawlettes and explain some more about them. One of my fave edgings is the braid pattern, often used in Scandinavian designs. In Sweet ShawlettesI've showcased it in Frost, where it's used as a single plait at top and bottom. An easy technique if you're OK with working with two colours and very effective for getting colour and movement into your knits.  I love wacky socks and I've designed quite a few pairs over the years, and I've just realised that the braid pattern has cropped up quite a few times.
Although seen here edging colourful fairisle and intarsia socks, it's just as useful for adding an accent to a plain pair, in fact it brings the braid more into focus, plus you can play around with the colours and make a real feature of it. If you add three layers of braid, you could keep Colour A the same and change Colour B in every repeat, or just change it in the middle repeat, or…

Beating the blues

Hmmm, feeling lethargic today, hope it's not some lurking lurgy, I've only just got rid of the last one.  Got back to York from our short break in Wales a couple of days ago and now it feels like I dreamt it. Even if we can only manage a long weekend I always take yarn, needles, books, guitar, laptop - my comfort blanket gets bigger all the time, whatever happened to travelling light?

However, this time despite good intentions I got no design work done, leaving me fretting about the dreaded designers' block - something that must cross many designers' minds in darker moments. However, I've banished the thought and I'm now convincing myself maybe there were just too many distractions.
After being holed up for the winter I'm always so excited to be in the garden again, I can never get enough of the magic light you get at this time of year.

So in the few days we were there it was all Boy's Own stuff, spending as much time as possible outside - cutting path…

Old friends

Met two old friends for coffee yesterday in Aberystwyth. We don't see them very often but it's always like we saw them yesterday when we do meet up.  In our twenties we all lived together in a big old house in Brixton, London - a sort of early version of Friends, with two toddlers thrown into the mix. There was Marj writing her PhD and the rest of us trying to make a name for ourselves in the music world. Strange how life knocks us into shape, taking us all in different directions, but there are some people you never lose contact with.
One of my all-time best memories of Anthony was when he arrived at the hospital in Aberystwyth the morning after I'd given birth to my eldest son, Tristan. I could hear the nurses telling him only husbands were allowed in, but quick as a flash he replied I'm not her husband, I'm her lover!

I'm always amazed by what other people do in their lives. Marj is training hard for the London marathon next month and Anthony is as busy as e…

World blog tour kicks off...

...TOMORROW!  So excited to be introducing Sweet Shawlettes to knitters outside of North America, where it was published in January.  The US blog tour was such a success that we decided to do another one to coincide with the UK and rest of the world publication date - March 7th.
We duly went ahead and arranged the world tour to start on that date, naively thinking that the big booksellers like Amazon would stick to it.  How wrong can you be?  The book has been available on Amazon UK since the 12th January, albeit low-key, as no-one actually knows about it.

Publication dates are paramount for promotion and it makes me angry that authors are not kept in the loop and consequently made to look like fools when the book is available unbeknown to them. There must be people who've bought the book on Amazon wondering why we've waited until March to start the blog tour.

As there are so many knitting books being published these days, getting them reviewed and noticed by the knitting pub…

Wedding bells and spanakopita

Congratulations to Rowan and Nicky on their wedding yesterday.  It was a lovely day enjoyed by us all, especially the two little girls who had been talking about our wedding since Xmas.  The weather held fast and the cherry blossom appeared overnight to celebrate with us - natural confetti.

The spanakopita I mentioned a few days ago is one of Nicky and Rowan's favourites - it's a great standby that I often make for Sunday lunch - so as I said I'd post the recipe soon, thought this would be a good occasion.

Quick and easy, it's the perfect dish for throwing together in a hurry to feed six generously, or eight with average portions. There are other versions which involve eggs, but I'm not a great egg-lover so I've never bothered including them and as far as I know, no-one's ever noticed. Served with a big mixed salad it makes an excellent spring/summer lunch. Enjoy a glass of ouzo in the garden beforehand, crack open a bottle of Domestica with your meal and o…