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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.

All about ME


I realised that while I whitter on quite a lot about how ME can affect me, I don’t do much to raise awareness of it generally and seeing that I’m involved in a few campaigns to do so (here’s one), it makes sense to use this space as well.

So that’s what this post is all about. Stick with it, if you’re someone unaffected then the least you can do is spare a few moments and read a few words. 

Firstly, despite it being a condition that affects around 250,000 people in the UK alone, doctors don’t receive any training on it (compare this to 220,000 people in England and Wales with a diagnosis of schizophrenia). It isn’t ‘claimed’ by any particular speciality; if a sufferer is fortunate enough to see a consultant, it could be anything from a rheumatologist to a psychiatrist.

The latter having done more damage to the understanding of ME than anything or anyone else. It harks back to the days when if a physiological explanation couldn’t be found then it was automatically classified as a mental health issue. Imagine having flu’ and being told it’s all in your head.

The scandal of the PACE trial evidences how treatment of ME has been completely ambushed by mental health professionals. The PACE trial (unfortunately named as pacing can be a useful method of managing symptoms) was a large scale five year trial funded by the UK government, at vaste expense, looking into four different type of treatments including CBT and graded exercise therapy (GET). To cut a long story short, the findings were published in the Lancet and informed the current NICE guidelines on the treatment of ME. However, it then turned out that the results were skewed and ‘considered the height of clinical trial amateurism’ by a leading statistician. As a consequence patients are offered treatments that can potentially and dangerously  worsen their condition as well as directing funds away from useful and credible research.  

Similarly the emphasis on therapy and exercise reinforces the stigma that people with ME are merely lazy and just need to ‘get a grip’. Replace ME with another illness such as glandular fever and you can see what a defamation this is.

Ok so what is it? If you know me, then the chances are you have a pretty good idea but if not or just to remind you then here is the ME lowdown.

Just to add to the confusion there are different names. Sufferers, including myself, can prefer to call it Myalgic Encephalitis (ME). The NHS likes to call it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; the issue with this is that it focuses on just one aspect of the illness, fatigue is only part of it. Then we have Chronic Fatigue Immunity Disorder Syndrome (CFIDS) in the US; better as it acknowledges the immune aspect of it, although this is, as yet, not established. Finally, the NIH attempted to rename it Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disorder (SEID), that, funnily enough, hasn’t really caught on.

Oh and doctors also like to lump ME in with fibromyalgia too saying they’re the same thing.

So what is it, whatever it’s called?

Firstly, and the obvious one, fatigue. Not tiredness. It’s a feeling of utter heaviness where standing up to make a cuppa is a mammoth effort. I remember tired, after walking 12k for example, where you just want to sag on the sofa. It is not like this, it’s as though someone has swapped your bones for lead. And sleeping makes not one jot of difference, in fact a good night’s sleep is guaranteed to leave me feeling dreadful. It’s being out of breath after cleaning your teeth, having an overwhelming feeling that I must lie down right now.

Next are the aches and pains. It’s believed that people with ME have higher than normal levels of lactic acid, the thing that causes aches and pains after exercising, but we get it without the benefits. In this respect it can feel very similar to MS, as sufferers can also experience nerve pain, tingling, numbness and just completely unexplained stabs of pain that take your breath away.

Then there’s a whole host of others things from digestive disorders (one I’m very fortunate not to get), orthostatic intolerance (low blood pressure when standing up), insomnia, headaches/migraines and the wonderful brain fog.

Whilst it’s not considered fatal (although there have been incidences of ME being the cause of death on a death certificate in the UK), people with ME are six times more likely to complete suicide than the general population, and the average life expectancy is fifty five. Less than five percent of people who have had it for five years or more are expected to recover.

May is ME Awareness Month. We desperately need your help in raising awareness, so share this post, have a look here (and don’t get me started on ME Action, that’s for another post…) and if you know someone with ME, consider messaging them just to say ‘hi’, remember social media is often the only way we have of making contact with you.

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…

Everything is looking beautiful today, in the Spring sunshine. I love this time of year with its yellows and fresh acid greens, sounds of birds twittering around their nests and the longer days. 


The view from our house is spectacular with the gorse in full bloom and the blue sky.

Right enough of the positivity, I’m never one to wax lyrical about the joys of living for too long. Wait a minute while I shake on my cloak of darkness. Ok normal transmission resumed…

We had a week away in Skye. It’s the first time we’ve visited for some years, it used to be our yearly holiday, often more frequently if we could get the time off work. Our first introduction to the landscape of the Highlands was via Skye and it used to be my favourite place. Note the past tense; this time was very mixed.

We stayed in a super renovated croft near Uig in the north of the island, it was as comfortable as you could wish for with amazing (more superlatives I know) views over the Atlantic.


The whole week was really bittersweet though. Firstly Skye, you’ve changed. You’ve gotten really popular, like the top cheerleader everyone wants to be your friend. So we spent the whole week driving at five mph constantly pulling into passing places.

But the main issue was, of course, the fact that I can’t do the things I used to. Our holidays were spent walking; our all time favourite was the Quiraing, all the way along the bottom then up and over the top, finished with an epic slide down the end (honestly try it, whip on your waterproofs – best not to use your best ones – sit down and sliiiiide). So not being able to do that anymore was difficult when confronted with memories of past experiences. Yes I’m grateful to have been able to have done them before but, well, sigh.


This was topped off by the fact I brought the wrong knitting with me. All I had was a sock project, in yarn that I wasn’t that keen on (lovely colours, just a bit thin and hairy). We did have a visit to Shilasdair which is always good, but I’m not (shh) that keen on their yarn, it runs a lot. I did buy a few skeins of sock yarn and started a shawl, however it didn’t disappoint and I get blue hands every time I pick it up.


So all in all, we were glad to get home, if anything I appreciate our comfortable cosy wee hoose even more. So it came good in the end. 

10 Things I should’ve learnt about knitting by now (and wish I had)


So it turns out I’m a slow learner.  Who knew?! Well probably most of you but it’s news to me (and yes I’m aware that this is an example in itself).

But when it comes to knitting, I’m spectacularly slow, let me tell you all about it…

1. Count your stitches. I thought I’d start with an easy one. It’s pretty obvious too but somehow eludes me. I’m great at casting on the right number but then, somehow, I forget. Or maybe it’s because I darent. I mean, if the stitches are right then it’s a waste of time, if they’re out then…well you’re just going to have to burn it. So it’s just best not to know.

2. This came up in a recent conversation. Remember to change to the larger needle size after you’ve finished to ribbing. You know how patterns often recommend you use a slightly smaller needle for cuffs? I think I’m just so relieved to have finished the endless k1, p1 and skipping at the idea of just knitting, changing my needles is so far from my mind it doesn’t happen until I’m halfway up the body of a sweater and realise it’s looking a little on the teeny size. So now I don’t bother, I use the larger ones throughout, I mean who’s noticing if your cuffs are a little baggy anyway?

3. Be realistic. I know I can cable/knit stranded/create complicated lace shawls. The issue is whether I actually want to enough to finish the project. Remember this? The fair isle blanket? I mean who on earth knits a fair isle blanket? My point exactly.

4. Accept you never ever have the right needles for the project. I have three, yes three, full sets of interchangeable needles as well as a whole heap of fixed end circulars. Do I have the right size? No. My plan? To employ a ‘project manager’ to put the right yarn in the right amount (don’t get me started on that one either) with the correct needle(s) (depending on whether I’m risking life and limb with the cuffs) and notions all in a pretty bag with the pattern so I can just get knitting. Because that’s all I want to do. It’s not much to ask, surely?

5. That stitch marker you love? Yeah, say goodbye. I’ve developed this ‘skill’ of being able to flick the marker right off the end of the needles never to be seen again. I honestly couldn’t tell you how I achieve this, if it wasn’t so annoying it’d be my party trick.

6. Scissors. Who eats them?

7. Never, ever knit anything that will involve sewing at any point. Do I make myself clear? There is something horribly wonderful about how parts of a cardigan can look so neat and professional until they’re sewn together. Then it looks like something a four year old has made, after the cat has chewed on the corners a little and the dogs have dragged it around the lawn. Thank the Lord for knitting in the round. Every day.

8. The prettier a skein, the more disturbingly tangled it will become when you’re balling it up. It’s a law of nature. 

9. Never promise to knit anything for anyone. How to suck the joy from knitting in one easy step: promise you’ll make something for someone. The more they mean to you the worse it will be. When I was writing my dissertation, I exchanged a pair of socks for some transcribing. Despite it saving me hours of work, I honestly had to drag every last stitch from my fingers; I’m good with giving something to someone after it’s finished, in fact that’s one of my favourite things. But the expectation you’ll knit something has a peculiar way of ensuring it will be a chore from hell.

10. I’m not patient. People say ‘I don’t have the patience to knit’. Being impatient is exactly why I knit. I’m perfectly happy to be kept waiting for appointments; two hours is the longest, after a new admin system created chaos for my consultant. However, I had my knitting and was over the moon to have some extra yarn time, as this was back in the days of full time work. Without the knitting I’m just two sticks and some string away from a stabby, discombobulated gorgon. 

Take up knitting they said, it’ll be relaxing they said. Humpf. Happy knitting 😉

Fibre Fests abound!

Like proverbial buses, fibre fests seem to come all at once. Two weekends ago it was Edinburgh Yarn Fest, the one I’d decided not to go to, in the name of energy and penny conservation.

However, the excitement was building via social media and I was beginning to feel very deprived so at the last minute we decided to throw the pacing out of the window and have a wee visit. Like last year, it was amazing; as much yarn as you could possibly want as well as a few (though not nearly as many as Woolfest) other quirky yarn related stalls. One of the best things is seeing everyone’s gorgeous hand knitted creations, it made me want to cast on even more projects. A Yarn Fest is the perfect place to show off that cardi that normally looks a bit crazy cat lady or wear the Westknits shawl in eye blinding neons. I took no photos, I’m afraid I was far too busy exploring everything.

I had two days of pretty frenetic activity, with lots of walking and dealing with bright lights and loud noise as well as falling off the keto diet wagon spectacularly. I thought I’d got away with it as there wasn’t a crash immediately afterwards but by the following Thursday I was pretty zonked. 

This weekend just gone was the Dornoch Fibre Fest, a slightly smaller wool event just down the road from us. The fibre fest team do an amazing job of organising it and Dornoch gets wonderfully yarn bombed in the process.


We went along to the opening talk, by Debbie Zawinski, a spinner, knitter and walker who travelled around Scotland in search of local fleece to spin and knit socks. It was fascinating to hear about her adventures and she has written a book if you’d like to know more.

I also managed a couple of hours visiting on the Sunday, the festival is getting larger and larger each year with lots of local yarny types with lovely stalls. Finally I had a happy chat with Helen from Ripplescrafts, who must be exhausted as she had also been selling at Edinburgh. I was amazed she actually had any yarn left!

I’d love to describe more details but I’m pretty fatigued today so I’ll leave you with some photos.

Woo hoo

Well hey, I was going to write this post after I finished these socks (Fyberspates ‘Vivacious’ and a pattern called ‘Nutkin’, free on Ravelry


but well, you know me by now. 

And this just happened


‘This’ being the Marled Magic MKAL, a mystery knit along hosted by Westknits.

It’s so much fun, I’ve not been this excited by a project for, ooooh, at least a week. No seriously, it’s fun.

I’d originally decided against it as, from the teasers, it appears to involve large amounts of seed stitch. Meh. 

But I’ve recently been trying to address my weird purl technique; I don’t think anyone purls the same way and it’s just plain weird. I’m a continental knitter, so I hold my yarn in the left hand and I could never get the hang of using it to purl, it just doesn’t work for me so I developed this weird thing that I can’t even describe. 

Then I came across a method a while back, had a go and dismissed it as too much faffing, as it involves more movement than my adapted way. I saw a video by chance on Instagram showing the Method (as it is now known here) and it seemed the best way to manage purl where seed stitch or other patterns where you’re swapping between knit and purl stitches. Here’s the YouTube link if you’re interested, hang on, let me find it…

Link!

Anyway, the MKAL, it’s been designed so you can use up odds and ends of sock yarn as well as incorporating texture if you wish. I decided, after seeing some lovely photos by others, including Skein Queen, to use a strand of mohair with a strand of sock yarn which makes it it gorgeously floofy. Although it’s very early days, I’m really pleased with the result.


I have some news other than knitting too. If you are a regular reader then you’ll know I have ME/CFS and the last twelve months have been especially tough.

I’ve been aware of Dr Myhill’s work for a long time, since diagnosis really, but dismissed it, plus following her protocol (paleo or ketogenic diet, lots of supplements, pacing, sleep management) seemed like too much. As someone who’s life has been significantly restricted I didn’t want to restrict it further.

Desperation is a good motivator for change though and I’ve been slowly incorporating her suggestions over the last few weeks. I’m now fully keto, diet-wise, and am taking so many different supplements, most of which I have never heard of before – l carnitine, ubiquinol to name a few. While I am cautiously optimistic, I am overjoyed to have experienced progress. My energy has improved, I don’t take two hours before I can even communicate in the mornings and although I’m still all too capable of forgetting important things, my brain fog has begun to disperse. Like I said, I’m cautious; I’ve experienced improvements before, like when I did the Lightning Process training but I can’t help but feel over the moon about it. Whoot!

I strongly recommend her book about treating ME; she doesn’t promote anything not backed up by research nor anything other than an improvement in symptoms but being able to cook a little and be able to sit comfortably is such joy.