mr porky’s thought for the day


Yesterday was the third anniversary of my stroke. It is not an anniversary I want to ‘keep’ in any way, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t occasion in me a little melancholy and grief.


Bruce and me have been out walking.


Outside things are starting to grow.


And Bruce found something that really interested him.


Really, it is just another, ordinary, February day.

91 thoughts on “mr porky’s thought for the day

    1. Love your work Kate! I discovered your site by accident! My Gran Duncan was brought up in the 1920’s in the little village of Hamnavoe in Shetland and my childhood memories are of her sitting surrounded by wool and attached to a brown leather Shetland knitting belt ( that belonged to her mother I think ) knitting all these beautiful intricate patterns, Still have some of her knitted things she made for me! Thank you Kate for keeping this wonderful heritage alive, you are an inspiration!

  1. Beautiful collection of photos, somehow seems to perfectly your post about your ‘anniversary’. New life, hope, beauty, wisdom amongst the change and loss (the first pic), and of course, the bizarre and wryly humorous in life, (Mr Porky’s).
    Even Bruce’s expression seems to fit!
    You are an inspiration, Kate!

  2. A day for reflection but rejoicing too! You are here, with us, sharing every new day…. From the look on Bruce’s face, I think he agrees. Stay strong. xxx

  3. And I sit, half a world away, knitting the first of two little owlets for my granddaughters. You cannot know how much pleasure your photograph of the teasel gave me – I am not particularly artistic, yet I have very proud memories of my rendition of a piece very like the one you show that I drew for an art class about fifty years ago. We cannot know all the ways in which we connect with each other, but I would like you to know that through your writing, photography, knitting and sharing of your life you have resonated strongly with me, an elderly woman living about as far away from you as it gets. You have survived and blessed me and many others. Congratulations and thank you.

    1. Seconded. you put it far better than I ever could! Very glad you are still here, Kate, and very grateful for your work and inspiration.

    2. Extraordinarily well said. Your blog has also been a tremendous help as I’ve been recovering from my life changer. Thank you ever so much for proving that it does get better, even to those of us on the other side of the planet.
      PS- I can’t wait until I’ve saved enough to be able to buy one of your patterns. I’m finally advanced enough to try one. :) I’ve been drooling over them for ages.

  4. Who would have thought that the litter someone carelessly dropped would give so ,much inspiration to you and fun for those who read your blog, to say nothing of the pleasure it gave to Bruce. It shows that there is a positive side to everything. One only has to look for it.

  5. I read for the first time your article about stroke. It’s emotional. Thanks for this end for your fabulous knitting talent

  6. Pleased that you are here to celebrate the survival of your stroke! You bring so much pleasure and inspiration through your blog and craft, thank-you.

  7. Thank you for being you, for sharing and for your wonderful perserverance. You are definitely an inspiration to all who come in contact wih you through your writing or in person. Thank you again, Kate.

  8. Even Bruce makes a sad face… You have been struggling hard to make the most of your situation. Be proud! But it is also okay to be sad on that day.

  9. Since discovering your blog, like so many others, I find your writing, your pictures, but above all YOU and the way you are dealing with your recovery a huge inspiration! Those of us who live with a chronic health condition or are struggling to recover from something major, understand only too well how you are feeling. Thank you for persevering and for all the treasures you share with us…. they make a REAL difference!

  10. Though I understand your sorrow on this anniversary, I must agree with the others above who remind you of what an inspiration you are. And to such a widely scattered band of people.
    Just a week ago, I wore a “lambs and yowes” inspired scarf which I had knit. I always receive compliments on it.
    And this time, in a coffee shop the scarf led to a conversation with a lady who admired it so much she went directly, via laptop, to this website of yours and marvelled at all you have accomplished. She understood the challenges you have faced because her husband had a large left hemisphere stroke less than a year ago and his recovery has been slow. She was much encouraged by your work here.
    So, in her behalf, thank you so very much.

  11. I’m with Bruce. I’d love to munch on Mr Porky’s pork crackles, but I’d soon look like Mr Porky if I did. There is not yet anything growing in Sudbury except the height of the snowbanks. They are 5 feet high at the end of my driveway. It will be lovely to see green in another 6 to 8 weeks(lol).

  12. Whenever I come to one of my “anniversaries” like this, I always tell myself that it’s a good thing, because I’m still here and I know now what I am capable of. Enjoy your day – especially since you can!

    P.S. I love Bruce!

  13. The ordinary is truly the most extraordinary, to paraphrase GK Chesterton. You, on the other hand, are truly extraordinary. Thank you for your indomitable spirit and super designs. Give Bruce a smooch from me, OK, one for tom too :)

  14. Glad you are here and glad that you share your wonderful talents with the world. You are truly an inspiration.
    P.S. Aren’t dogs the best? They bring so much joy.

  15. You had a stroke, and your life changed direction. The things you have created since! I am always inspired, as I always write, when I visit here. Just passed my 2nd anniversary of cancer diagnosis, not as life altering, but certainly life changing. Sobering and wonderful to be here still, knitting mittens into the wee hours of the night while watching Lost. Dreaming of bigger and more exciting challenges! I learned how to knit an i-cord and that was exciting.

  16. Hello, Kate, wishing you well after your three years and letting you know (as so many have done already!) how much your work and quiet reflections (not to mention Bruce’s) help and inspire others. I was the winner of your book ‘Colours of Shetland’ which you gifted to visit.shetland, but I was already hooked with the Rams and Yowes hat/blanket waiting to be knitted at home! Sending warmest thoughts your way today.

  17. Missy’s comment really touched my heart. Kate, I love your blog and wish you continued happiness and success in your recovery. PS The first photo above is really pretty!

  18. “The important thing is not to think much, but to love much;
    and so do that which best stirs you to love.
    —St Teresa of Avila 1560

    thank you for all your love x-x-x-x-x-x teri in Oregon

  19. Anniversaries like yours, or some of us who have survived cancer, are important to remember and celebrate because we are still here, enjoying life with our families, furry and otherwise, and doing things we love. Thanks for sharing your inspiring life with all of us, Kate.

  20. Thanks for sharing. I am so pleased for Bruce. Hopefully Mr. Porky was not just an empty bag and was consolation after those frustrating snowballs. I too was feeling a bit melancholy but your blog always brightens my day, I am loving my Colors of Shetland. Haven’t decided what to knit yet because I am still working my way through the text which is fascinating. I hope you are celebrating the cycling achievement and the book success, and looking forward to new challenges for 2013. I hope you bought that dress!
    Best wishes for all the tomorrows.

    PS any news on the Tea survey? Did I miss a post?

  21. I know this time of year is a really difficult hump to get over. We all have such anniversaries, I do. Each time the week of my mother’s sudden death rolls by, I get plowed under the old emotions which ruled my life for several years, but now are two decades behind me. So will be with you and the first of February. You know what? I even am aware of this date, having followed your blog since before your stroke, so your life and your hardships as well as your blessings, ripple out far amongst your readers… and I have remembered this anniversary too, way out in California. So I just want to close in saying that you have become even more so a heroine in the eyes of many , a pure dead brilliant artist in mine, and at the very least an inspiration for indeed hundreds. Not bad. Not bad at all. But, I wish you happiness on The Day After. :) xx

  22. I am always inspired and encouraged when I read your writing, about knitting and about life. I know it is not what you planned, but your life’s work now touches many people around the world. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Kate, I fell in love with your designs one sleepless night a few years back. Found your blog only a couple months ago (hey, I am getting there, although a bit slow). Just wanted to say ‘thank you’ as you are truly amazing! Your designs, photos, writing… your books! Beautiful! And I’ve learned a lot! Your recovery… Inspiring! The trials you’ve pushed through & the obvious difference you make to many. So thanks for sharing – I can’t wait to get your new book :-)
    From Colorado…. Hugs to you and yours, yes Bruce, too!

  24. Kate I was reading your blog before your injury and have followed your journey as you healed and your life moved onto different paths. I’m not saying that what happened wasn’t awful and unfair, but I’ve watched you come out the other side and have seen your creativity and designs bloom. You have taken your new life and made things happen. And that in itself is a victory.

  25. I just wanted to say that I read your blog every day and get much enjoyment from it. I admire you and your work (both writing and knitting) and look forward to seeing more of it in the future. Thanks for inspiring me, and teaching about knitting and history (my two loves).

  26. Kate – you are an inspiration and a joy. Your strength is amazing. I read your article on your stroke and was shocked as I have only recently found your blog. The only way to live is in the here and now – let the future take care of itself, and knit, write, walk and love your dog!!!!

  27. Kate, I am not a knitter (although I love textiles) but I avidly read your post. Your blog is of a rare quality which is a delight to read, to look at and be informed by and you have generated a vast network of ‘friends’ and colleagues whose lives you enrich. Thank you so, so much.
    And when it comes to inspiration, I have just bought a ‘How to Knit’ book!

  28. That reminds me of the labrador we had when I was a child. His name was Randy (I didn’t know what it meant at the time) and we would go for a long walk on Cannock Chase with him, and then stop off at the pub … sitting in the garden … for a drink and crisps. Randy loved crisps and had developed a clever way of “borrowing” them from unsuspecting drinkers. He would creep under the slatted wooden tables and carefully tease the edge of the bag through the gap and then pull the whole thing through. He could open the bags easily and would always look very pleased with himself as he scoffed the contents.

    Dogs are wonderful.

  29. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your life with us. I have been reading you since before your stroke, and I will never forget that post from Tom. Echoing Karen in Tasmania, you can’t always know how you connect with others. In my case, you have been a steady source of strength and wonder to me, buoying me up in some very trying times. And, echoing others, many of us have anniversaries similar to yours. My own is breast cancer, 31 years ago, and I can assure you that the anniversaries get a little easier as they grow in number.
    I am very much enjoying the challenging (for me) knitting I am encountering with the Betty Mouat Cowl. I am learning a lot! So, thanks for that, too, and your book, of course. The very best to you and Tom & Bruce.
    Liz in Seattle

  30. Kate, I am a newcomer to your blog, and after reading this post, returned to your initial post about your stroke. You write about it so courageously and movingly. You are a humbling and inspiring example to follow. Thank you. Wishing you continued strength and a sustained recovery. Congratulations on your reaffirmation of life!

  31. Your writing, fotos, knitting – add sparkles to my ordinary days. Thank you for beeing there and sharing with us. Bruce is lovely! !

  32. Thanks for the recipe, am trying your scones tomorrow as we love Taleggio. There is a very nice risotto using it in the excellent little book ‘risotto’ by Ursula Ferrigno, pub. Ryland, Peters and Small.

  33. How could you not be aware of the date of such a life-altering event? I too mourn your losses, but also echo Wendy, “Me too, thank you for your writing, your photos, introducing me to Bruce and oh so much more …” In addition to all that, Sheep Carousel is my favorite knit design ever!

  34. God Bless you Kate-you have been through so much-must have been nice to walk with Bruce yesterday and just enjoy him and nature. Of course you were aware of the date-life changing for sure but just look at you now, girl!

  35. i am trying to put a similar injury behind me. it’s tricky. needlework and doggies and walks help. i don’t know if you’ve been following the research on the therapeutic nature of needlework. it is extremely interesting to me.

    there’s a social worker in philadelphia who is writing about therapeutic knitting for recovering addicts and alcoholics — who often feel as if they are suffering the same cognitive distortion problems other brain injury patients have.

    and the loving care by dogs is famous for its healing qualities.

    xxx to all. never, never, never, never, never, never give up.

  36. i am trying to put a similar injury behind me. it’s tricky. needlework and doggies and walks help. i don’t know if you’ve been following the research on the therapeutic nature of needlework. it is extremely interesting to me.

    there’s a social worker in philadelphia who is writing about therapeutic knitting for recovering addicts and alcoholics — who often feel as if they are suffering the same cognitive distortion problems other brain injury patients have.

    and the loving care by dogs is famous for its healing qualities.

    xxx to all. never, never, never, never, never, never give up.

  37. Three whole years! I can’t believe it. I know you must surely still have days where things are foggy and difficult, but I breathe a sigh of relief for each post that goes by without a mention of any stroke symptoms, in hope that it means that your daily life is becoming more and more “normal”. In the meantime, you are doing extraordinary things. Surely one of life’s great contradictions! Congratulations on that, if not the anniversary xx

  38. My thoughts are with you. It’s not the same thing, but I have a serious illness right now and so I am even more aware of what you have been through and continue to deal with and admire your courage and determination.

  39. Thank you for sharing your life, photos and wonderful designs. You should be immensely proud of your progress and achievements. It’s only human to reflect on the anniversaries of significant events and it’s only by taking the time to reflect that we realise how many other things we have to be thankful for. I am a great believer in the saying that as one door closes, another one opens. Take care.

  40. Kate, use this day to celebrate how far your recovery has come since your stroke. Your designs are fabulous – you inspire me!!!

  41. Hello, Kate. On this difficult and yet hopeful anniversary I can start to understand your sadness, and yet love the new opportunities that the stroke thrust upon you. I can start to understand your sadness not because I have had a stroke, but because I have just made the difficult choice to leave academia (to keep my family together). Leaving that world leaves a chasm behind of my hopes and dreams and even my fears. It was my life for so long that recreating my career is both exciting and mournful. I can appreciate what it meant for you to leave your original career – though it was not by choice – and the courage and faith that required. And I love sharing your journey along the way. It is now an inspiration for me – creating a new career with the chords and harmonies of the original career. Thank you so very much for sharing your story.

    I should also note that I am finishing up my first Owls sweater to match my daughter’s Owlet!

  42. I follow very few blogs but yours is probably no.1 for me. They’re lovely to read and your work is truly inspirational. I only wish I had an iota of your talent. Glad to hear Mr Porky helped to put things in perspective :)

  43. No, not an ordinary day. When we go through these life altering events, where we’re picked up, wholesale, and plunked down on a parallel path, where we can see where we came from but can’t get back, these events have to be acknowledged and mourned. How can we stride forward otherwise? And stride forward you surely have….
    We all look forward to seeing what wonderful things will flow from your needles, and pen, and camera, in the coming year. Cheers, say I!

    1. Hear hear! You have come such a long way in these three years. Your work is a constant inspiration to me and many others.

      Lots of warm thoughts to you!

  44. My thoughts are with you. I’m sure it is in many ways frustrating to have people note that you’ve accomplished a great deal, and that we are all glad to have watched you recover so and create such beautiful things. (All of that is 110% true.) Really, I’m sure you’d rather it had never at all happened. And probably all you really want to do is go for a walk and maybe get a massage. Maybe eat a good dinner. So I hope you get all those things.

  45. I’m so sorry for your pain and troubles. However, I hope you know how much you add to so many of our lives and how much we appreciate you.

  46. Kate
    You have made great strides. I think it brought you in a different direction. Keep looking and you find more rainbows.

  47. Of course you’re allowed to be melancholy. Life is ever full of the fair and the foul. In sharing your journey with us you’ve brought (and continue to bring) inspiration and encouragement and warmth to thousands of people. Thank you for that. Well wishing you as always.

  48. I too had a stroke at 36. Mine was a result of a carotid dissection. I read your story of that day and it is just so similar to mine. The alertness, but still feeling so far away and so very strangely calm. In fact I was so impatient and frustrated to just get to the hospital since I could not make comprehensible speech and no one else seemed to know what was going on. Anyhow, I call the anniversary of my stroke “my strokeversary.” (Term coined by a friend and it stuck.) I look it at a time of celebration of life, but I can’t help feeling wistful and sad too. I hope you had a good strokeversary! (I just had my strokeversary on January 29th. I made sure to have cake and champagne!)

  49. Aaaah your have been heard Kate, as see from the vast response. I have the same melancholy each and every year since my car accident changed my life. And I dare say each time I can’t quite do what I used to and “especially want to” because of the change in my wrist, I still get quite frustrated. Then I get a surprise once in a while and do something I haven’t done in almost 9yrs (crazy though it sounds) and I rejoice once again. I think of the many blessings that have come to me, since that day and they keep me going on the tough days, which come much less often now.

    When you are able to put your feet on the floor and greet the sunshine each morning…it is a good day! Wishing you a very full life of sunshine filled mornings, my dear; wrapped in a warm hug. :)

  50. Bruce looks a bit melancholy too, but then the flat pack of Mr. Porky’s explained that. Are you sure he’s a lab? He didn’t devour the empty packet? Hugs to you. You are a force now,

  51. I came home from work today (in Australia) to find my copy of your book at the door. I’ve just read most of it while sitting on the deck, and am looking forward to starting a project & reading some more on Old Scatness. I’ve learnt to knit with both hands recently and am practicing away so I can make one of your designs.
    You’ve had a rough path but you are inspiring people by doing what you love. I’m pleased Bruce came 2nd in the acknowledgements at the back of the book!

  52. I wanted to agree that your courage and determination have been an inspiration. I found your site last year, not long before Colours of Shetland was published and read through all your archives. I found reading about the stroke and its aftermath very moving, partly because my father had a massive stroke on 16th September, 2008 since when he has been bed bound with many other deficits and it has had a huge impact on my mother and myself as well. The other reason is that I have a fairly rare medical condition- idiopathic intercranial hypertension which has prevented my working full time and impacted on my life. While the roads you have been prevented from travelling are bound to occasion sadness, I hope you will feel that the road you are travelling is bringing many blessings to you, as well as to those who love your work.

  53. Thank you for your beautiful work, Kate. Beautiful and interesting words, beautiful pictures, beautiful knitting… I remember checking your blog every day because such a silence was not what you had used us to, and then being so thankful to have some news, even if they were not what I would have prefered to read. Thank you for turning this event into food for the thought of your readers, which must not have been easy to do and was so generous of you.

  54. I don’t know you but I so admire your designs and now I admire your courage in admitting the sense of loss and being brave enough to say it. I myself have had m s for twenty six years. You probably always will remember but it is the beauty of the ordinary which is worth fighting for.

  55. Kate…you are amazing…you are an inspiration to many of us :)

    BTW…the packet that Bruce found…I absolutely LOVE pork crackles…rinds…chiccharones as my fave brand calls it…but really…at my age…I ought to be careful…

  56. Kate, I just read about your stroke for the first time. As if you weren’t enough of an inspiration already! Your story made me even more glad that I escaped the mad women at work who were making my hair fall out and once robbed me of sleep for three nights running. Freelance life is bliss, but I hadn’t realised how dangerous that kind of stress could be. Thanks for your patterns and your stories.

  57. You do have my deepest sympathy, it really must be hard to live with 1. the consequences of that stroke and 2. all the “ifs” and “whens”. You are doing an amazingly good job. And I certainly would have missed you as a designer. Thanks to you I discovered the wonderful shetland wool I am working with constantly now and I have your northmavine on the needles and the warriston, I am planning on more…
    And last: as strange as it may seem: you helped me to be grateful for the things I have. I had to go through back surgery a year ago and cannot do all I loved before. But still, there is a great lot left and I should be thankful for it (as I am much more now).
    Therefore: thank you very much for sharing your life and all the best wishes!

  58. Kate – not related to this post but I thought I should send you this picture sent on to me by one of my PhD students – something to get your teeth into?

  59. Kate, I so love reading your blog over here in Canada on a VERY cold morning. On this day with its difficult memories for you, please never forget how much pleasure your writings, beautiful designs, and marvelous photographs bring to so many of us all over the world (and of course, we dearly love the ever soulful Bruce).

  60. Hello Kate! I recently came across your blog while knitting Sheep Heid. Your patterns, color work and wrirting are such an inspiration. When I discovered you had a stroke three years ago, I couldn’t believe it. You are a living miracle, my dear. Through your writing, you have taught the world that while a devastating medical occurance can disrupt one’s life, sheer grace and perserverance will prevail. My husband and I will be in Scotland later this spring and I cannot wait to see, first hand, the beauty of a country that has inspired such beautiful knitting.

  61. Dear Kate
    I arrived at your blog for the first time yesterday having followed a link posted by Rowan on Facebook. I read and read your blog last night and from time to time tears pricked my eyes. I felt horror at what happened to you, I admire your courage to get where you are now and there were happy tears and laugh out loud moments when I saw Bruce and read his posts. I am not surprised that Bruce can write so well, he is just so lovely and so Labrador. We used to have a chocolate brown lab, Jed. He died last year, his old arthritic joints and dodgy heart finally got the better of him. I miss him terribly at times and seeing Bruce reminded me of all the FUN and love we had with Jed. Bruce seems to think quite similar things to Jed. Anyway I am truly inspired by your blog, you are so present in your writing and I feel already that I know and like you and Tom and Bruce, thank you. I am a super keen knitter, I love your designs and your book, and now after discovering your blog I shall follow with enjoyment. Very best wishes Keiry

  62. I hear you loud and clear Kate! My 3-yr anniversary was on Sunday. It’s not like I want my SAH to colour everything I do for the rest of my life, but EVERYTHING in my life has changed because of it… and as I have a scar on my forehead because of the craniotomy I’m reminded of it every single day anyway. Most days I just feel happy to be alive, but I suppose I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel a bit down about it every so often, right? Here’s to us, the survivors :)

  63. So many of us with these anniversaries. It’ll be three years for me in April since my brain injury, and I think it’s natural and helpful to mull it all over sometimes. I love Karen’s (above) idea of celebrating her anniversary with cake and champagne: here’s to life! And to your many inspirational successes, with many more to come.

  64. Hi Kate ! Dark day, full of black energy. But trust me, one day you will discover with great and strange surprise that you forgot to think about this anniversary and let it pass just like another day. A no-anniversary, in an AliceInWonderland way.
    Till then, toute mon amitié,


    ps I have been parading with my Peerie Flooers hat and mittens since Xmas (they were presents from a knitter as I have’t got this talent !), I look great under the hat (eeeh I think so) and I get nothing but compliments !

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About Kate Davies

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