So, I finished my spirograph — these pictures are of the item in its unblocked state, as I was in a rush to get outside and stick it on my heid.

Like Anna’s original version of the design, my spirograph adds extra repeats to be more like a a lidless hat than a headband. It is cosy around cold ears, and fulfills its mane-containing function admirably. I used 3.5 mm needles throughout (which has made a nice springy fabric with the Kid Classic). I worked 17 repeats of the pattern in total (including the decrease rounds) and finished the top edge with Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. I really enjoyed knitting Anna’s pattern, and am very pleased with the end result.

The project is ravelled here.

While we were out and about snapping these pictures, my pal John came by and struck a pose.

I don’t think he quite believed us when we said we would put the photograph online . . .
Yoo-hoo, John! You’re on the internet!

Sarah’s quilt

Sarah came round for lunch yesterday. I made a pie.

We ate the pie.

We went for a breezy walk.

. . . and Sarah had a suprise . . .

. . no, Bruce, it’s not for you . . .

. . . a quilt! For me!

Sarah began making this lovely thing when I was very ill. She worked on it a bit, then set it aside for a while, as one does. But she recently discovered it again, and decided to finish it off. I am so pleased and touched that she did!

The quilt includes some fabric scraps that I’d given Sarah, some of which you can see in this post (was that really four and a half years ago! Sheesh!)

Some of Ysolda‘s scraps are in there, too. This is probably one of the thing I like most about quilts – being able to ‘read’ fabric in this way. I also clearly remember Sarah buying a fat quarter of one of the other prints in the quilt on a trip she, Ysolda and I took to Mandors, around the time I wrote this post. The associations of scraps and prints are almost always deeply personal, but, for me at least, tend to be very powerful. I can see my friends in this quilt.

The quilt back is just as beautiful as the front.

I love the birds, and that delicious fresh, Spring green.

Thankyou so much, Sarah! I love it. x


I am sure you are about as tired of hearing about my health as I am of experiencing it, but it has not been a great few days round here. I had a seizure on Sunday which left me totally exhausted, and scuppered a long-arranged plan to pop over to Glasgow earlier in the week. I have had a few of these seizures recently, and they are becoming increasingly troubling and disruptive. I previously assumed them to be migrainous, but as they are completely unlike any migraine I suffered prior to my stroke, my doctors are now considering the possibility that other neurological issues may be involved. I am glad things are being investigated – as long as I can gain some understanding of what on earth is going on in my stroke-addled grey matter, I will really be much happier.

Amidst all this weird shit, several cheering packages turned up all at once. This is the way of things, sometimes. And, entirely coincidentally, all the packages contained fish.

From Jeanette

(lemon for display purposes only)

From Anne

From Elizabeth

These fish – with their different but equally pleasing fishy shapes – make me very happy indeed. Thankyou so much, Jeanette, Anne, and Elizabeth! Your thoughtful gifts appeared here at just the right time.

Anyway, its not all bad – over a couple of days in bed I managed to knit up a fun new hat, which I’ve designed especially for Shetland wool week. All I’ll say right now is BAAAAAAAA. You’ll see it at the weekend.

Knitting LOVE

I do hope that all of you reading this blog realise, by now, just how important you have all been to me over the past year. It has been a very strange and challenging time for me, but you have all been there every difficult step of the way. It has helped me enormously to read your encouraging and supportive comments, and at key moments, you all helped me to stay on top of things. You were willing to share with me your own experiences of loss, illness, disability, and the endless, weird frustrations of brain damage and fatigue. You assured me that I could deal with these things. Coping with serious health issues can put one in quite a lonely place, but, because of this space, I have never felt alone. I was incredibly moved by the cards and letters you sent to me while I was in hospital, and since then, the postman has continued to deliver things to me from my ‘virtual’ friends that I have found both touching and heartening. And, a few days ago, as the first anniversary of my stroke approached, a package turned up whose contents really floored me.

Check out my new felted-tweed scarf! What a thing of knitterly JOY it is! These mitred squares were designed by Pam; the co-ordinator of the whole collaborative enterprise was sneaky, wonderful Heather; and eleven other women were involved in its production. I had the pleasure of meeting Heather in 2009, but the other knitters / crocheters are only ‘known’ to me, to a greater or lesser degree, through the interweb. I have their blogs marked in my feed reader; I follow them on flickr; I favourite their ravelry projects; I read their comments here. A couple I do not ‘know’ at all, but they know of me, and cared enough about my situation to lend their hand to a shared project that might bring me love and cheer.

In my other life as an academic, I’ve spent a lot of time researching eighteenth-century women’s correspondence, their commonplace books and albums. I am interested in these books both as material objects and as works of collaborative authorship. Transatlantic gift-books particularly intrigue me as, on many occasions, the contributors to, and recipients of these books never met each other, but felt a close connection that was just the same as if they had been friends in person. Often, (and particularly in the case of the many Quaker women I have looked at) it was the bond of family or religion that first forged that connection; but women were also brought together in the material world of the letter or gift-book through their political affiliations, a love of gardening or stitch, poetic talents, or other shared interests. Contributing to a gift-book allowed dispersed communities of women to consolidate a virtual connection in and through a material object.

Now, academic folk like me can be sniffy about drawing casual comparisons between moments and cultures that are otherwise vastly different, but particularly since my stroke, I have been very struck by how close-seeming the worlds of the transatlantic eighteenth century and the contemporary craft-related internet can be. Myself and the makers of this lovely scarf ‘know’ each other because of our mutual interest in making things; our shared likes and dislikes, our favourite patterns or techniques, our tastes, our knowledge and our expertise. Just like an eighteenth century gift-book collaboratively produced by women who did not personally ‘know’ one another, this scarf is a material object that illustrates just how meaningful such ‘virtual’ connections can be. Though I have never met them, I can see the individual signatures – the ‘handwriting’ – of my friends in their personal choice of yarn colours or design, their different gauges, and their ways of making stitches. Like many an eighteenth-century woman, I am massively cheered and comforted by their gift, and by the shared affection it suggests. And certainly, this scarf is, to me, just as precious a thing as a gift book would have been to its eighteenth-century recipient.

I love this beautiful scarf, and I love what it represents. I am grateful to its makers, and, in a larger way, over the course of the past year, I have become increasingly, incredibly, grateful to the larger knitterly community of which it is such a heartening iteration. Sometimes it seems too easy to be sentimental about knitting, but, bloody hell, over the past year I have been in need of bucketloads of knitterly sentiment. I have indeed felt the knitting LOVE.

So I am grateful to Alice, Anne, Ashley, Babs and big Babs, to Christy, Carolyn, Erin, Heather, Lauren, Maryse, to Sarah, and to Pam. And I am grateful to all of you who come here, silently or vocally, and who have all, in one way or another, buoyed me up with your good wishes. Thanks for sticking with me over this hideously testing but, in many ways, strangely re-confirming year. Big knitterly love to you all.



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