still making


Worry not . . .I’m not going anywhere.

I produced yesterday’s post because:
1) this is my space and its useful for me to have a record of such decisions
2) this is your space too, and I like to be honest with you
3) some of you may have been expecting to run into me at various events, and it is only fair to inform you of my absence

Really, I am OK — I am just someone whose health can be annoyingly variable and who, because of this, has limited resources. I have to use those resources in the best way possible, and pondering the imponderable question of whether or not I may let someone down because I may be unwell at a certain point three or four or six months down the line is simply not a good use of these resources. I have to cut myself some slack, and yesterday’s decision is simply the best way for me to do this. I know that all of you living with chronic conditions, or who have experienced the interminable frustrations of recovery from strokes and other brain injuries know exactly where I’m coming from (a big shout out here to Jen and Dancing Beastie with whom I feel tremendous solidarity).


The thing is, that however rubbish I am feeling, I cannot stop making stuff. I might have felt totally crappy last week (you know things are bad when getting dressed marks the day’s first insurmountable hurdle) but I still turned out a sweater and this pair of socks. The experience of grafting the sock’s last stitch, or of putting the sweater in to block, probably represents accomplishment at its most basic, but I can tell you that such experiences have saved me from some very black places when I’ve been at my worst.


So I want all of you, my virtual friends, to know that though you might not find me at a show or in a class, you will generally always find me here. Still making.

121 thoughts on “still making

  1. Good. Very good. Knitting can be very good healing activity. (I had many-years-long health challenges in my twenties. I knitted through them, and that was good. Well, there was also needlepoint and crochet and embroidery and, when energies waxed, weaving. And a lot of spinning. But the core activity for the couch and the “gathering forces” times was knitting.)

  2. Wow – socks AND a sweater! I’m envious :-) The socks are beautiful. I’m inspired to knit harder on my two pairs of socks so I can get back to my Manu. Thank you :-)

  3. I do hope you get back to feeling more yourself soon, Kate. I’m glad to hear you’re taking care of yourself.

    Lots of love. Xx

  4. That’s very welcome news on this first day of spring. I always look forward to your news and pictures, and of course, Bruce!

  5. Hi Kate, I have a congenital heart defect and know exactly where you are coming from! I write this from my bed, with my hot water bottle and fair isle cushion cover I’m knitting. Be kind to yourself :-)

  6. Kate

    I, for one, completely understand where you are coming from. Having been reduced to near-zombiedom by an episode of shingles, which in-turn triggered an auto-imune disorder that wiped out my thyroid, I am well acquainted with feeling so shattered that knitting is almost an impossibility.

    Take care of yourself. The rest of us will continue to appreciate your designs and, when you feel up to it, your company in person.

    – Pam

  7. what you’re telling us is that we can count on you:::::::::::::for being YOU*
    cuddle up and carry on, my dear!!!

  8. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do, not only for yourself but for those of us who enjoy your blog your wonderful ohotographs and your beautiful designs. :-)

  9. Hi Kate
    I can completely understand where you are coming from. My health has caused me concerns recently and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Going all out for others is a really great thing, but you can’t replace you and your health. After the sabbatical you can come back whenever you feel better and come back stronger.
    Take care of yourself, I will like everybody else keep reading your blog. Your designs are stunning.. I just wish I could knit.. Maybe i’ll try again one day


  10. Dear Kate, you have touched the hearts and souls of so many of us out here. Please please please look after yourself. You are a very special person!
    Love, Rosey :-)

  11. Having suffered 2 strokes that affected my eyesight I do know that lots of adjustments need to be made, especially when you have a stroke that doesn’t “show”.
    Thanks for mentioning your beautiful knitting and the Ann Cleeves Shetland mysteries, I have just finished reading the first book and can’t wait to begin the next. Her writing is so excellent. We probably won’t get the movies in the States.

  12. The socks are wonderful. Hope you are taking care of yourself, treat yourself as a precious object. I read that once and it is good advice.

  13. When my joints are swollen with arthritis and I don’t feel like doing anything, I still have to do SOMETHING. Knitting is that something. I may not be the fastest knitter when I feel like crud but just holding needles and yarn and knitting one stitch at a time keeps me going. Knitting helps me to focus on what’s important and keeps my mind off just how badly I am feeling. Keep those needles moving, Kate!

  14. The socks are beautiful – a testament to the enduring value of creativity. Take care of yourself, now, and everyone will understand – and keep on trucking…

  15. I am still struggling with this decision myself. I do not want “sick person” to be my subtitle, but having finally made the decision to cut back has eased so much of the mental anguish! I need to cut back even further, but I still have things to finish first….

  16. Like so many of your other readers, we want you to care for yourself, and in your self-compassionate ways of expressing yourself, you help each of us have compassion not only for you but for ourselves. Yet one more of your wonderful gifts. Love the socks as well…..

  17. Another PURL of WISDOM::::::

    just stay home
    and knit and write
    So I can read + knit
    and stay home at night.

    keep it simple sweetheart x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-xox

  18. Totally love those socks!! I bought and downloaded the art deco inspired cardi a few weeks ago, just need to find a lovely wool for the project and of course finish my current piece of knitting!

  19. I bow to the master… A sweater AND socks… All I seem to do is run around looking after others than me. But today I had a great day, and I hope yours will reach that level soon, too!

  20. Oh, the stitches round the heel of those socks are a thing of beauty! I could almost try knitting socks…but first to finish the Ursula cardigan, and Deco which is lined up.
    Look after yourself, and really wise to weed out the things which cause extra stress. Hopefully the Scottish spring will return some time soon as well.
    So glad you are still writing, I was just thinking of reading lots of past blogs to satisfy my addiction to all the lovely ideas and photos.

  21. Great news that it is just the “new normal” and not something grossly serious that will keep you close to home and hibernating to heal. We will look forward to the times when you peek out and venture forth.

  22. I went back to knitting after having my knee replaced and really got into it after tearing my ankle apart (my right leg is for sale to anyone who wants it!) so I commiserate totally with you and your situation. Keep calm and keep knitting! And walking the dog – such a necessary part of life says my corgi!

  23. Knitting certainly stopped me from who-knows-what when my health problems reared their ugly head. Like you, it has to be a really bad day for me not to pick up my needles. So glad to read you will still be creating and blogging, the other things can wait. You’ve certainly made a hard decision but everyone understands. Look after yourself and let others look after you. Lovely socks as well!

  24. I think we are all reassured by today’ s note. Also reassured that “making” is as essential to you as it is to me and most knitters. It’s what keeps us going when other things (health, family, job) aren’t heading where we want them to. It is solace and renewal all in one. Lovely socks.

  25. Take care of yourself Kate. Although it may be difficult to clear you mind of all the desires to do, trust me that taking the time to take care of yourself will pay off. I once experienced this place in time. I had a Tee shirt that read: I’m dressed and out of bed, what more do you want?
    Time healed and I was able to retire this Tee shirt.

  26. I love those socks too! Oh to be able to achieve such a well-finished sock. Well, achieving any type of finished sock actually, given the lack of sockliness going on in my knitting list. Clever, clever.

    Those days when your head just goes ‘floof’ are foul, and I can empathise with the chronic, debilitating tiredness and the resultant lows. It is all about pacing oneself, and giving in when one’s body just succumbs to tiredness, but try telling that to Conscience, Motivation, and Creativity. Ill-met bedfellows.

    Anyway, here’s to more ‘up’ days, far less ‘floof’ days, and continued power to your knitting needles!


  27. I knew you’d still be “here” to talk to us and show us your creations-yummy socks, by the way-something I do not know how to do. Love to you and your lovely hubby and my friend Bruce

  28. beautiful socks! love the colors.all your designs inspire me.i look forward to more pics of you and bruce,enjoying the sunshine on the beautiful shetland isles… :)

  29. Glad to hear that you are well and setting an excellent example to us all–to take care of ourselves. Too many say it yet do not do just that. Thank You. About those socks: is that a short row heel? I’m experimenting with different heels and am still struggling with the perfect ss heel. Yours is lovely, so I must learn what it is.

  30. There is nothing better for a dark day than to sit and create. No matter how stressed or depressed I feel, I am always working towards the reward of finishing something new. :)

  31. Well done putting you and your health first. I wish more people did as you are doing. And it’s a bonus that you’re able to do something you love!

  32. The lag times are so long in this business, that you just can’t know where you’ll be and how you will be feeling in 3 or 6 months. Good on you to take matters into your own hands and do what is necessary. As you wrote above, you feel better already to have that weight lifted. This is *your* life now, and for better or worse you need to live it your way.

    We’ll still be here to visit and chat. And see more Bruce pics. And read more Bruce notes from the field. :)

  33. I think that is the first pair of socks I have seen on your blog! I have a pair sitting in my knitting basket, waiting for the second heel to be finished …. I have decided I don’t like the “afterthought heel” method.
    I think deciding to do less brings a great feeling of relief, rather than struggling on trying to cope with too much ….. you are the second friend to decide this recently.
    Anne x

  34. Oh Kate, thank you for the shout out :) I, too, feel tremendous solidarity with YOU. It’s not a club I ever thought I’d be joining, but it’s so nice to know we’re not alone. Keep smiling!

  35. There is something about knitting that soothes the soul even when the body feels dragged down. Thanks for continuing to knit and inspire me.

  36. Making can be ever so healing. So many of your ‘virtual friends’ have stories to tell. Stories of ill health, of setbacks in life, of other big problems. And so many have turned to making in various forms. Most of us “know” where you are coming from.

    I can so relate to what you say and I always feel a particularly deep connection to everyone here in this space and very much to what you do and say. Thank you.

    1. …because my health left me along the lines, too! Today was good, yesterday was a how shall I get dressed day. Tomorrow?

  37. You’re fighting the good fight, Kate. Keep on. (stockinette certainly helps, doesn’t it? I knit a tremendous number of socks during rough patches.)

  38. Absolutely the right approach to your life – it is so important to take care of yourself. (Everything else falls in line behind that, right?) Your beautiful and always inspirational knitting designs and projects are bound to help carry you through each day – as will, I hope, the unwavering support of all your many, many supporters.

  39. Good for you — do what makes you feel better mentally and physically! It’s good to be reasonable about what you do. I feel better looking at your photos, seeing your creations and “listening” to your thoughts. I am a retired oncologist and I loved my patients, and it was all the harder job because of that. Art, needlepoint and knitting (creativity of any kind) helped me cope with the sad parts. Laughing helped too. we laughed a lot in my office believe it or not. Don’t ever let your injury steal your joy in this beautiful world. You make a huge contribution just doing what you do. Thanks.

  40. Glad you are still knitting, a fallow piece of land is not unproductive, it is the human aspect of over working it which has to be curbed in order to let nature do what it does best! Cheers Kate.

  41. Great socks! Great to “see” you on the blog. Keep on doing what you do. I’ll keep marvelling at your talent.

  42. Love the socks, and hope to see the sweater soon :-).
    But really, you did well to make a decision. This traveling and talking thing is exhausting even for people who’re healthy. If iffy health makes you pay more attention to getting exhausted, then it may even be a good thing :-). Take a good long time now to work the way you can, just at home where you have much more control of what gets done and how. If you feel positively frisky later, you can always reconsider and allow some events back in a bit at a time. You don’t owe anyone anything, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels grateful for whatever you feel up to putting out.

  43. You posting today was a sight for sore eyes! Thank you. Millie said it rightly, treat yourself like a precious object and I would add, jewel/gem. I am sure I am not alone when I say ‘we’ feel a great attachment to you and yours and wish you ALL the best! Again, thank you.

  44. Great to hear such resolve when, I imagine, your making of things is the thing of primary importance. All knit events (even those closest to your heart) are secondary to this and it would be a shame if they consumed the energy required for the making.

    I love that you consider this space as shared… But I am glad you are clear on not getting caught up in other people’s expectations too!

    Happy day!

  45. Even if I only have a few moments to knit or spin, I feel a great wave of relaxation rolling in. Thank you again, Kate, for sharing your makings with us.

  46. I fall into the “chronic” camp. I understand so much of your decision-making process, and am glad you have a support system and network in place, right at home.
    Love the colors in those socks!

  47. How nice to still be able to knit and create when you don’t feel well. I am jealous…I have no capability to knit when I am under it.

  48. Socks *and* a sweater in the same week are a tremendous achievement! At my worst an inch on a garter stitch square counted as an achievement to me and as a reason my day had not been a total waste. Even now I don’t seem to produce anything that fast. Finishing something does feel good though, I know exactly how you mean.

  49. you are inspiring. i’m knitting through some health problems of my own. thanks to you i’ve discovered colour knitting & some lovely scottish yarns. i’ve got a Snawheid on my needles & will tackle the Sixareen Cape next. that should keep me occupied for a while :)
    so a big thank you. take care!

  50. Kate, your decision shows your real strength not your weakness! Making choices to protect your health and care for yourself first before other commitments is something many women can never seem to do. I have seen many friends who pay that price with exhaustion and a drain on their creative resources. I send you warm wishes, honor your choices and look forward to your future success.

  51. You continue to give us insight into your world which I find extremely valuable . . . not only knitting but more importantly to remind me to be patient with others as I am not walking in your shoes or hiking in your shoes. You are a remarkable person Kate!

  52. I’ve just found your designs and your blog this week. I wish I could conjure up a better word than “inspired”, but I just can’t seem to. I’m inspired by your strength, inspired by your grace, inspired by the beauty in your designs, inspired by the wisdom you show that seems above your years. bravo to you for being all that you are!

  53. You absolutely must do what’s best for you! My 15-year-old daughter has been more or less housebound with severe ME for a year and a half. She is very slowly recovering but often getting up and dressed in the morning is a huge hurdle. I’ve been so inspired by your courage in dealing with the aftermath of your stroke. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to do the best thing for yourself, when your own resources are more limited than others, and people may not understand.

    A friend and I were actually talking about you recently, and saying how much energy it must cost you to attend events.

    Thank goodness for the internet, which allows so many of us to read you and see your beautiful designs.

  54. I think it is a very wise plan. You can’t know in advance how you will feel with a chronic illness and it is silly to put pressure on yourself.
    I’m a great fan of plain socks when the going is tough, or even (slightly vulgar) selfstriping ones!

  55. I’m happy to read news from you, to know that you feel well, and that you listen to your body. You’re a great example! Love your blog!

  56. Your health has to come first. I always enjoy your blog posts, so am so pleased that you will carry on making things and posting! Take care.

  57. I concur with all of the above posters asking you to take care of yourself. Best wishes and your readers look forward to seeing your future projects. I hear spring is coming but it snowed in Toronto again today.

  58. Dearest Kate! no more frozen winter camping for you! Stay warm and cozy by the fire, and know how much we all adore you!

  59. Goodness – I am so impressed at your ability to continue making even under duress. Those are beautiful socks. And your health is far more important overall than being present at one or two events….Feel better soon x

  60. one more thing. i think you could learn, if you wished, how to skype or record remarks/speeches/lectures for events to which you are invited and in which you’d like to participate. skyping you could respond to questions. you could do it in your footed pajamas. no one would know.

  61. I’m so glad to hear that you are indeed ok. I do hope I can meet you some day, but if I cannot, I know I can always find your talent and wit here. Sending you thoughts of strength from the other side of the pond,
    Your virtual comrade in yarns,

  62. Kate! I’ve just started a Dollheid tam! Green colourway…to match my muted green puffy coat…
    Thank you for inspiring me…I-cord cast on is super cool…I can see many projects that can use it!
    Hope you are well…

  63. Well, I suppose accomplishments are all relative, but I can’t tell you how proud I’d be if I ever managed to knit a pair of socks! G’awn yersel’, as they say hereaboots. And thanks for the shout out – your solidarity has been more of a support to me than you probably realise.

  64. As an avid knitter and college English teacher with rheumatoid arthritis, I experience these dark days and difficult decisions myself. Your blog, your words, your work always uplift me.

  65. Knitting is my saviour too, without it, without a doubt I would not be here today. I love your beautiful things and you and them make me happy. ”Keep knitting and Carry ON”

  66. I so appreciate you sharing your experiences and I am delighted that you have found refuge in your craft. The pieces you create are breathtaking and the knitting world is all the richer for having you in it.

  67. So wonderful, the healing power of craft. It has saved me and my life in so many ways and without it I simply wouldn’t know what to do with myself. It is a part of my being, therefore I create. I hope you have many happy, healthy days ahead of you, although some of the darkest and hardest places in ones life leads them to brighter and better ones. Sending you healing vibrations!

  68. I absolutely understand, Kate. It’s one of the most frustrating things about chronic illness for me, never knowing if I can rely on myself and if I can keep my promises. I am at the stage now where I also find it’s better for my mental health if I don’t commit to other peoples things because I hate to let them down.

  69. Kate,

    I feel like it’s time to thank you for this post, and for your whole blog. I saved this in my inbox so I can look at the subject line daily as a reminder not to get too down on myself for having a chronic condition that has been so painfully difficult to deal with for the past 8 months. Your post came during a huge hiatus from knitting because I felt like I just couldn’t do anything, but your perseverance motivated me, and I’ve picked it back up again. Thanks so much. You are so wonderfully talented as a designer (I’ve only been knitting for a year and only can dream of making your patterns!), but also such a wonderful source of inspiration and exemplar of courage.

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About Kate Davies

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