of dogs . . . and sheep

It has been an interesting week. On the downside, there have been a couple of days of evil, all-consuming fatigue to contend with. This meant that I was unable to go across to Glasgow, and hence unable to meet up with some folk I’ve been looking forward to seeing for ages, to chat about lace. Though I detest not being able to plan ahead, or having my plans scuppered when I do, I am pretty much resigned to the fatigue now, and I get by OK as long as I a) don’t get frustrated with myself and b) don’t try to do anything too taxing when it strikes. While I was feeling tired and rotten, I listened to an interesting interview with philosopher, Havi Carel about illness, which really chimed with my own recent experiences. Most of what she said was common sense, but it was very eloquently put common sense. I have ordered her book.

Fatigue notwithstanding, there have also been many good things over the past few days: the most exciting – nay, amazing – being that I FOUND BOBBY. To explain, when I had my stroke, I collapsed on the cycle path, where I was luckily found by a man and his dog who were out for an early-morning run. I remember the dog very vividly: it was a lovely black spaniel; it was wearing a flashing disco collar; and its name (perhaps predictably for an heroic, Edinburgh dog) was BOBBY. I remember the man much less clearly, but I am so very glad he was there. This man turned out to be a GP and he knew exactly what had happened to me (I was conscious, but had no clue what was going on). It is thanks to him that, within 20 minutes of having my stroke, I was being seen by the skilled neurologists at the Western General. He may well have saved my life. For the past year, I have wanted to find this man, to thank him. As I walk up and down those paths a lot, I thought I might be likely to run into him, but the problem is that I did not know his name, nor have any idea what he looked like. The dog, however, I did remember: since the advent of Bruce, I see and speak to a lot of dogs in our locale, and I have been on constant look-out for a black spaniel named Bobby. AND THE OTHER DAY, I FINALLY FOUND HIM! I ran into Liz, one of the dog walkers, down by the weir. She always has a jolly pack of hounds with her to whom I like to say hello, and as I approached, I heard her refer to one of them as Bobby. Sure enough, Bobby turned out to be a black spaniel! And when I asked Liz about Bobby’s owner, I discovered that he is a GP; indeed, the very man that helped me! Liz has put me in touch with Andy (for that is his name) and soon I shall finally be able to thank him in person.

I found it very moving meeting BOBBY, for, as you might imagine, he has taken on a near mythic status for me. While I was lying in hospital with my stroke-addled brain, I had many odd recurring dreams, in one of which I was walking with a black dog. It is fair to say, that in the months following my stroke, I developed an interest in, and affection for, dogs that I really did not have before. Hence, this fine fellow:

OK, that’s it for the dogs, then, but what about the sheep? Well, occasionally folk are kind enough to send me the odd woolly treat, and I wanted to say a quick thankyou. At the top of this post are Suzanne‘s sheep, who seemed very happy to play their part in this Christmas’s knitted nativity. I like them so much that I couldn’t bear to put them away after the festive season had passed, so they now live on top of my knitting cabinet. Really, how cute are they? (You can find their maker here — I love the photograph of all the different sheep sizes!) Thankyou, Suzanne!

A little further down the post you see some lengths of Hinnigan’s tweed, that Anne kindly sent me. My love affair with Hinningan’s tweed is long standing. Anne tells me that the shop has now sadly gone from the centre of Selkirk, but you can still buy their fabric through Locharron. Thankyou, Anne!

And last but not least is this beautiful Beiroa yarn from the wonderful Rosa Pomar. I really admire Rosa’s research into Portuguese textile traditions, and this yarn is the fruit of some of that work. The yarn is spun from the fleece of Bordaleira sheep, who live on the slopes of Portugal’s highest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela. These sheep are better known for their delicious cheese, but for many years, their wool has also been used to make woollen capes, which remind me very much of mauds, in the Scottish shepherding tradition. The wool of the Bordaleira sheep is as delicious as their cheese, and Rosa is now putting it to good use for hand-knitters. She soon hopes to produce more yarn from the coloured fleeces of this flock.

The Beiroa really is a lovely 1 ply yarn – just the kind I like – rustic and sheepy and real. I rewound the skein into a cake the other day, and since then have been swatching away. I thought it might knit up like Manx Loaghtan, or one of those similar ancient goat-y breeds, but it has much more spring and body to it. Indeed, it has great bounce and stitch definition (it is a yarn that seems to to demand cables) and I will be interested to see how it behaves when blocked. I sense a hat coming on. . .

. . . hold up a minute , the light is falling on the yarn-cake rather nicely, and now the sheep want to play too. . .

. . the thin sunlight is interesting, coming in through that window . . .

Now you’ve gone too far, Kate! Move away from the sheep!

69 thoughts on “of dogs . . . and sheep

  1. We love you most when you go too far! So glad you’ll get to thank that Good Samaritan in person, I’m sure he’ll be astounded by your post-incident progress.

  2. You’re being silly, I love it! The ribbon and tiny sheep bell really made me smile, what a great way to make a skein of yarn remind you of where it came from…

  3. What a wonderful dog story. I am so happy you found the kind man and his companion. Bruce looks particularly handsome in his latest portrait.

    The sheep are adorable (I love all things “sheepy,” also). Maybe they will make another appearance when the yarn is transformed into something wonderful.

  4. Yay for Bobby! And yay for finally getting a chance to thank your good Samaritan.

    That yarn looks lovely – everything that you might want in a handspun, by the looks of it.

  5. So pleased you found Bobby, and his good samaritan owner Andy. That feeling of finding something that has taken a long time to find is so marvellous, particularly when connected to your ‘loss’ with the event and recovery of your stroke.

  6. Given your love of the Scottish Isles you might like to know that a new series of ‘An Island Parish’ is starting on BBC2 tonight – but instead of being set on the Scillies, it follows around the Catholic priests on Barra. Given that there are three priests there is much talk of parallels with ‘Fr Ted’. My guess is that it will be as unevenful – and as compulsive – as the Scillies version!


  7. Hi Kate,

    I’m so glad you found Bobby. My spaniels were always wandering around with their noses into everything when we were out. What a chance meeting, and meant to be, as they say! Excellent! It’s almost like being full circle, finding Bobby and Andy. You’ve come a long way in this time, and taken us with you. You’re inspirational and just plain gutsy. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Thanks for the Havi Carel/Tom Shakespeare reference. I missed it. Just the sort of thing I’m looking into at the moment.

    Hope you recover your energy quickly. Have a good weekend!


  8. Your are on one amazing journey. Bruce is a handsome boy and finding Bobby, well no coincidences there. I think he found you. Did he remember you?
    I feel like a Rip Van Winkle knitter just waking up when I read your blogs and soaking it all in. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I am knitting a scarf in the “linen” stitch because I loved your blanket so much. I hate circular needles with a passion but I am hanging in with this one…progress?…well not yet, but getting there.

  9. Bless Bobby and his owner … I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found them and will be able to let them know how much their being in the right place at the right time has done.

  10. Love, love, love the sheep and wool stack. The light is just perfect. Also, so great that you’ve found your heroes, both dog and owner. Amazing where this journeys lead you…to your own beautiful black dog Bruce.

  11. Dude. FINDING BOBBY!!! totally made me cry. YAY. I bet the pup sensed you were in trouble as much as the man did and I’m so so glad they found you when they did. I’m also SO glad it led you to Bruce. Because Bruce…ah, he is a heartbreaker. Sorry you missed out on your Glasgow trip but there’ll be another I’m sure. Just keep fighting your way through the fatigue!! You’re (still) getting better every day!!

  12. Love this post – enjoyed listening to all the radio programme very much…love the sheep…love the nativity figures and want to make them badly…. and am so happy for you that you have found Bobby! The gods are looking after you somehow!!

  13. How wonderful that you were able to find Bobby and Andy! The Portuguese wool is beautiful – and I love the story about the sheep. Can’t wait to see how it knits up.

  14. Dogs have a way of entering our lives when we most need them. Bobby found you and now Bruce lives with you – he’s grown into a wonderful looking dog and I’m sure he’s added so much to your lives.

    Thanks also for the sheepy goodness – I am so much more aware of textile history because of your writing.

  15. Great story and quite wonderfully wooly sheep. I must agree with everyone, Bruce is quite the looker of a pouch, I think my Georgie Girl might have a bit of an internet crush on him.

  16. All good news here, even the bit about your learning to accept the infrequent bouts of exhaustion. You once thought that would be your constant state, remember? And now…you are cavorting with Bobby and Brrruuuce. (That is how I hear it when I see his name.)

    The yarn is amazing. I am so glad it fell into your hands as I know you’ll turn it into something amazing. I’ll have to add it to my Dream Yarn list…I hope you get to meet your kind rescuer soon. Your dreams have come true, after all, and likely because he was walking the dog that day. Fate, darling, fate.

  17. the BBC program was fascinating; it’s a concept that’s just starting to gain a foothold here in the U.S., bringing the lived experience of illness to the forefront in medical care. it’s startling that that should be such a “new” and “improved” idea. i particularly liked her comments about the exposure that comes along with illness, and how bare that experience can be. thank you for mentioning the program. and so happy that you found andy.

  18. I also have a chronic medical condition which causes extreme fatigue (among other things), and makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to make plans. I so understand how frustrating it can be!
    And love your dog story — very touching.
    p.s. beautifully smooshy looking wool & sweet little piggy back sheep ^v^

  19. I used to have a couple of sheep just like that, at our holiday house in New Zealand. I think they stayed with the house when my parents sold it.

    Hooray for finding Bobby!

  20. Wonderful to have the opportunity to say thank-you, but even more wonderful to have the right person come upon you (with a pooch to remember!) at that very critical time. So very happy that you have the opportunity to meet up again with both.

  21. I am a new fan of your and thanks you for sharing with all of us. I have been blessed with the company of 4 wonderful canine girls in my life. One was my “quilt puppy” since no matter what time of the night I finished a quilt and pined it to the wall, she would wake up, and come out and “pose” for the photos. (One of her many special qualities)
    If you can get a photo of your special black cocker, I would love to see it! You have a spectacular photo of your new black buddy! Great job! You are doing so very much, it’s hard to imagine that your not exhausted. Take care of yourself, please. With love, Susan

  22. The little sheep are fantastic. Very sorry I cannot speak/read Dutch (or the language in question). Is it possible to find them through a link in English, for those of us who are sadly mono-lingual?! How very amazing to have found Bobby and his companion. Hope you get to spend time with them both. Blessings to you and yours.

  23. I’ve only just started reading your blog lately. Your story of Bobby brought tears to my eyes – I’m very pleased that you found him. It will be amazing when you meet his owner.

    Thanks too for the lovely sheep shots .

  24. i’ve just discovered your blog and have spent the past few evenings trying to catch up. as a fibre artist i’m getting so much inspiration and information from your entries. your insights and your strength are outstanding kate.

  25. Your story reminds me that truth is stranger than fiction. What a blessing that a GP would find you because every minute is critical with a stroke and minimizing the damage if not, as you say, saving your life.

    Dogs are man’s best friend :)

  26. I really had to fight back the tears reading this one – what a lovely story! Although I can’t quite shake the notion that Bobby was the one who saved you!

    Keep up the nutty sheep photos – highly entertaining!

  27. Hello Kate
    What a very beautiful story! How wonderful for you to at last meet Bobby and his friend. Doggy news from me is that we are going to keep Bruce’s twin, Woody! We have grown so fond of him that we have not the heart to part from him. I think he knows too as he has been extra cuddly of late. My partner, Rob, has lost heaps of weight walking briskly many times a day with a very enthusiastic furry friend. So, we now have two dogs, two cats, two chickens….. I also love the yarn you mention. I am teaching myself to spin on a spindle – so far I have blunted the spindle on the floor many times but I will keep trying. I so enjoy your posts, from Over Here – Bye for Now.

  28. I have been staking out this blog in the hopes of seeing more of the knitted nativity (which I have loved since the first donkey was photographed for your Correspondence section)–but it was your serendipitous reunion with Bobby that really made my day!

  29. nothing is better than dogs, as the faithful of the bobby ilk well know. i had a long talk of sorts yesterday with the woman who was cleaning my teeth. she rescues and fosters wolf dogs, who are very special characters. her brother, who has severe mental health and other issues, is actively soothed and CARED FOR by one of the wolf dogs, lakota, who also takes in and shepherds and guides the much abused younger dogs. i am going to meet these dogs. i can’t have one because they mostly need a safe space in which humans leave them alone, so that’s not my thing. but the deep therapeutic connection between a highly intelligent (or not!) and emotionally intelligent dog and other beings is really something.

    1. that’s a long way of saying that they really are our guides, in ways we don’t quite understand yet, but they do. give bobby and andy a big hug for me.

  30. I am thrilled that you have found the man that helped you (saved your life) when you had a stroke. I can understand completely your desire to thank him although I wish I could say that I have had the same experience. I was hit by a car whilst jogging 28 years ago and left lying on the side of the road. After several passed by, one man stopped to see if I was okay. He ran back to his home and called for an ambulance returning with a blanket to wrap me in. The ambulance whisked me away and I never knew my hero’s name….I long to thank him, too! How wonderful for you, Kate! And, no doubt, Andy was thrilled to see you in such excellent condition!

  31. How wonderful you found the little black spaniel and the owner. What a lovely ending. I love the wool; it is very textural.

  32. Dogs really do bring people together! Pat-pat to Bruce and Bobby. I’m so glad you found Andy and will soon be reacquainted in much better circumstances. He’ll be thrilled at your progress and the good luck in being at the very right place in that very awful moment. Do keep us posted. I hope he reads your road to recovery and can appreciate what an amazing and determined young woman he so ably assisted.

  33. It was so great to hear that you have finally tracked down the person that helped you.
    Im sure that its a wonderful feeling.
    Love the wee sheep

  34. Wow Kate you are an inspiration. I have you in my favourites as ‘stoke blog’ but you are so much more than a stroke survivor. I developed chronic pain a few years ago and my moochings about led me to you. I’m so glad they did.

    Usually in the summer time I do a course at Edinburgh College of Art. Planning to get back on the horse again this year and would just love to meet up with you if that was possible. Big Fan – not mad axe murderer, I promise.

  35. Oh, I am so happy for you for finding Bobby and his owner. I know how nice it is to be able to say ‘thank you’, and especially in your case. One could almost say that you had some luck on that unfortunate day as well, since you were found by a GP who knew exactly what to do.

    All the warmest wishes to you!

  36. I love reading your blog. Both sets of great grandparents were born in Scotland.. if you can believe it, my mother is a Campbell and my father is a Donald! And grew up in a section of our town called the Highlands (our town was known for its knitting mills and my great grandmothers and grandmother were finishers, taking in the sweaters and such) I have a small fund set up in hopes of one day visiting. Until then I can visit here!

    As a life long dog lover and past dog walker, Bruce is a beautiful boy!

  37. Wow! That’s the first time you’ve mentioned what happened immediately following the stroke and how you got to the hospital. Somehow That key piece of information makes me feel a lot better. Maybe because I know you weren’t alone during that frightening time? It makes sense that you would remember Bobby since you were down at his level, and if he’s like most dogs I’ve met, he was probably quite concerned because he could tell you were in trouble. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found Bobby and his human. As a lifeguard, I’ve found that most of the emergencies I respond to don’t happen anywhere near a pool and once the police or paramedics have taken over I go on my merry way and always wonder what happened with the person I helped. About twelve years ago I witnessed a rather scary car accident and came to the aid of the elderly lady who was in the car. She later tracked me down by getting my information from the police and invited me over for tea. I was so relieved to see that she was okay and at home with her husband.
    As for the sheep stacking…I grew up on a sheep farm and the lambs used to stand on their mothers like that all the time! I’ve no idea why but it made for a lot of giggling.

  38. ….still greeting – but good tears. I am so glad that you found the missing piece of your jigsaw.
    On the sheep front – I have two similar little sheep – one black and one white – given to us by dutch friends, Harry and Else.

    It seemed appropriate to call the black one Dirty Harry………..

  39. Your story of finding Bobby is absolutely beautiful, so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. Dogs are truly amazing animals.

  40. Hi Kate,
    I’m so glad that you like the sheep (it looks like you guys have been having a lot of fun together… love the sheep-stack! :) and your photographs are, as always, very beautiful.
    I was also very happy to read that you have found Bobby (and Andy). Hurrah for handsome black dogs!

  41. Thank you for your newsy and interesting blog, so many things to check out.
    Photo of Bruce is beautiful.
    The sheep are very nice, and your merry nature is coming through! Yarn lovely too.

    On the back roads in the country where I had the car accident, the first person on the scene was a trauma nurse.
    It is strange how these thing happen. I am glad you found Bobby the dog, and his GP owner.
    I think all this is a help towards more recovery.

  42. Bobby and Andy – what a miracle to have found you. I have always loved dogs but now, that loved just doubled tenfold. Lovely yarns and sheep – especially with the sun shining on them so. Thanks for letting us into your reality – you are on quite an amazing journey.

  43. Havi Carel’s book, ‘Illness’ (i imagine this is the one you ordered?) is amazing and has helped me through some pretty debilitating depression as well as helping us come to terms with my boyfriend’s epilepsy. She’s an inspiration on living well, even with the knowledge of death and discomfort every day. Hope you enjoy reading it!

  44. Your posts (and designs!) are so inspirational. What a journey this past year’s been for you! Am so pleased you’ve found Bobby and that you’ll have the opportunity to thank Andy in person. I can see how important this is to you. It’s a very moving story.

  45. What a seriously wonderful post full of life – wooly, canine and human. I became a bit verklempt when reading of you finding Bobby. How absolutely thrilling, though I imagine some trepidation will proceed the meeting, in being able thank Andy (and Bobby). I should imagine that Andy will find it quite emotional as well.

  46. I am thrilled that you will be meeting your good samaritan and that you met up with his incomparable dog. Also your dog is certainly a handsome boy. Being a bit mystical and a true lover of dogs I understand the dreams and the deep connection-hopefully your boy will help you along your journey.
    Those sheep! That yarn! I can see you smiling and having fun taking those pictures. Smiles and laughter are good.
    Hugs to you-Pam
    I am still trying to “catch up” in reading about you, also-after having “found you”. I beleive your story will inspire me on my own journey.

  47. Yea! You found your angels! Love the inspirational video too. I really love the sheep. I went to the maker’s website and it’s in a language I can’t read. Do you know where I can buy them with English instructions?

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)