a little snow

brackensnow

Everything is relative: I am sure that those of you in North America, who have been shovelling the white stuff for months, will not be in the least excited to hear that it actually snowed, but here, where winter has been horribly dank and soggy thus far, it is an exceedingly welcome change. It is the cold, crisp, crunchy days that get me through the Winter: there have been far too few of them and I confess that the sight of this in the morning made me foolishly happy.

snowfirs
snowonthecampsies
snowdumgoyne
snowgate

Bruce is also in a good mood.

flakybruce
bruce1
bruce2
bruce3
bruce4

I love to walk in the snow, and we spent a good couple of hours out there this morning in the silence, with no other folk in sight. Birds seemed everywhere, immediately spotted against the landscape’s white blanket. As well as the usual neighbourhood woodpecker and buzzards I saw an osprey by the loch and a hen harrier hovering above the snow-covered fields. The birds are pairing up: this cold snap has come late, and there are already signs of Spring.

snowgorse

I wonder how the bulbs I planted will fare.

Well, its back to my desk. I have my first post-stroke driving lesson tomorrow – wish me luck!

whwsnow

today . . .

home

There has been some snow.

rumbled

Bruce was rumbled, sleeping in Tom’s chair . . .again

penguins

And only 5 penguins remain on my advent calendar.

Which reminds me: today is the last day for orders if you’d like a book or kit from my online shop. My postie will hoik the last sack of parcels away tomorrow and I’ll be taking a wee break from packing for a couple of weeks. We are all looking forward to a holiday here – hope you are too!

snowballs and other mysteries

bruceinthesnow

Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today there is SNOW. I like SNOW because when it arrives we get up early and go for fun walks in my favourite places.

One of the many mysteries of taking a walk in the SNOW with humans is how very different their priorities are from mine. Kate, for example is endlessly preoccupied with taking pictures of the SNOW. . .

flurry
holly
bridge
branches

. . . as well as photographing other humans lost property . . .

specs
mitten

. . . and muttering in vague rhapsodic fashion about how Edinburgh looks beautiful in the SNOW.

arthursseat

I on the other hand know that SNOW is best for frolicking . . .

frolicking

. . . and that if you are good in the SNOW, BISKITZ magically appear.

biskitz

However, one thing that is very odd about SNOW is the thing that is called SNOWBALL.

snawball

While other BALLS may be chased after, retrieved, and chewed, SNOWBALLS are mysterious and elusive. They smell of next to nothing, and, when thrown and chased after, they are somehow able to conceal themselves in an extremely vexing fashion!

huntthesnawball

And worst of all, on the occasions that you manage to catch a SNOWBALL in your mouth, it just makes things cold, and then it disappears! Beware! These SNOWBALLS are not at all like other balls, but are confusing and not to be trusted!

confusing

Personally, I find a STICK to be a much more steady and reliable creature, even when it is covered in SNOW.

stickleap

And one of the best things about this particular SNOWY walk is that it visits a selection of my very favourite sticks. Do you remember that I once told you about the sticks that sing? Well, here are the singing sticks, singing in the SNOW.

marimba1
marimba2
marimba3

The obvious conclusion: sticks beat SNOWBALLS paws down.

Hang on . . . she’s off again. . . . I’d better catch up . . .

offagain


See you soon, love Bruce xxx

snawheid

Here is the result of my pompom mania — SNAWHEID!

Snawheid is a seasonal, snowflake-adorned beanie, feauturing a gigantic snowball pompom. It being Wovember and everything, I thought it would be fun to present to you three rather different Snawheids, each made in a different British breed-specific yarn. All are, of course, 100% wool (as is, incidentally, the rest of my outfit, with the exclusion of my boots).

Snawheid #1 is knitted in Shetland Organic 2 ply. As its name would suggest, this yarn comes from certified organic Shetland sheep, and is processed by organic mills. It knits to a standard 4 ply tension, and, as you would imagine, has a lovely woolly, typically Shetland hand. In the ball it has a matt, almost chalky feel to it and it is plied and spun slightly looser than other natural Shetlands I’ve knit with. When blocked, it puffs right up, producing a lovely halo. I gave it a good long soak and the yarn bloomed and relaxed tremendously. Its a really special, totally traditional Shetland yarn, and makes a lovely soft, even fabric. It has lent Snawheid #1 a quintessentially cosy, Wintery feel.

For a rather different look, I present to you Snawheid #2, which has been knitted by Jen in Excelana 4 ply.

I decided not to stick the pompom on Jen’s Snawheid just yet, so that I could show you my crown design — which is shaped to resemble a gigantic snowflake. If one were in any way averse to pompoms, or preferred a sleeker look, the crown ensures that your heid will remain adequately snaw-y, however you decide to knit this hat.

Excelana is a collaboration between Susan Crawford and John Arbon: the former has unparallelled knowledge of vintage yarns, and the latter is the UK’s independent spinning meister. The result is this delicious blend of 70% Exmoor Blueface / 30% Bluefaced Leicester which has an incredibly smooth, soft hand, a lovely sheen, and a good bit of bounce. Being worsted spun, it also has superb stitch definition, making it ideal for showing off some festive colourwork snowflakes.

Without the enormous pompom, and knitted in the monochrome shades of Persian Grey and Alabaster, I think Jen’s hat has a lovely muted, classic feel.

And finally, here is Snawheid #3.

After I finished Snawheid #1, and got my hands on Snawheid #2, I had a sudden desire to make another one using Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight. Snawheid #3 is knitted in shade FC 34 — the coolest of cool winter blues — and 1A, a natural Shetland white.

I am not quite sure why, but this is my favourite of the three.

Perhaps I am just in a blue-hat mood, or something.

Or perhaps its that the addition of colour makes this hat feel particularly jolly and festive.

Or perhaps it is just that knitting with Jamieson and Smith jumper weight feels like spending time with an old friend.

In any case it is fair to say that I have gone a wee bit Snawheid crazy. These gigantic, happy pompoms certainly chime with my mood right now; I am really pleased with the design and I absolutely love every one of these three hats. And let me tell you that you have got off lightly with the name, as the temptation to call it Bawheid (one of Tom’s dad’s favourite insults) was extremely strong.

Well, now there’s just a bit of pattern-tweaking and checking to do and, all being well, the SNAWHEID pattern will be released on Ravelry tomorrow (19th).

Winterreise

It has been a bit like the house of the undead here this week. Tom kept to his annual ironic tradition of returning from the conference of immunologists with an evil infection, and has been very ill all week with flu. I have not been much better myself (delirium actually set in at one point), but had perked up enough by Friday to be able to take on duties as principal tea-maker etc. The weather has made things a little tricky for us too, as the recent freeze / thaw / freeze pattern has made it much more difficult for me to get about (the pavements are largely clear, which means that I can’t wear my crampons, but smaller footpaths are strewn with deadly patches of ice upon which my left leg is liable to give way at any moment). While the rest of the UK seems heartily sick of the snow, I was actually grateful for a fresh fall today, as it meant I could at last put on my spikes and get out for a decent walk. Bruce’s affection for the snow also continues unabated.

It felt very good for the sick zombies to get outside with their enthusiastic dog. Tom actually celebrates his birthday today, so our walk ended up in our local, for a taste of festive ale. This was Bruce’s first introduction to World of Pub, and I am happy to say that he behaved himself admirably – only emerging from under the table when a Jack Russell dropped by to say hello.

The promised Hogmanay entertainment seemed singularly appropriate for two convalescing invalids.

After raising a modest glass or two, we returned home to decorate our tree. One of my favourite things of the many lovely (and moving) items I received while I was in hospital was a nativity scene, knitted by Sister Winifred and the other nuns of Kersal Hill convent, Salford. (The scene’s donkey has his own entry in my correspondence archive here). Though we do not celebrate the season in a religious way at all, I am incredibly proud to have Sister Winifred’s knitted nativity in my living room this Christmas.

I think Shepherd number 1 is my favourite figure. . .

. . . though I am also very fond of Balthazar

The whole scene is a thing of knitted JOY, and you must see it. (When we get some decent light, I’ll take some more photographs and show you). In the meantime, it’s back to the sofa with me. Hopefully the coming week will see us feeling better and fired up with festive VIM. Till then . . .

at home


It’s still snowing here.


Snow is one of those things about which Jesus definitely is Not Sure.

Just check out his plum tree. . .

The wee man is spending the day inside, but me and Bruce have been out with the camera. I love the transformative effects of snow, even on the greyest winter day.



It was very quiet out there.

Though Bruce tried his best to make a ruckus.

Spare a thought for poor Tom, though, who set off for Liverpool this morning and is currently stuck on a stationary train somewhere in deepest Cumbria. Familiar Words of Doom have been uttered: “Replacement Bus Service.” If he ever gets there, Tom will be spending a few days at a conference. This will be interesting for both of us, as we’ve not been apart since I came out of hospital. It feels significant. Tom is really quite amazing: as well as working extremely hard in the World of Spleens all day, he then comes home and performs far more than his fair share of household tasks so that I can save my energy for my rehab. I know I couldn’t have managed the past ten months without him, and he is top of the list of the many things I feel extremely lucky for. But it seems a good time for me to try a few days of total independence. I am doing quite well at the moment. I mean, I feel a little peculiar all of the time, but lately the little peculiar that I feel has been slightly less. My norm seems more normal, in other words. I have found myself wondering two things: 1)whether this constant-vague-peculiarity is really subsiding or my brain is just getting used to it and 2) whether people realise how generally weird things are for those who have had a stroke. (I know that brain-injury sufferers who have linguistic difficulties carry around explanatory cards to be whipped out in difficult public situations, and there have been several occasions over the past few months when I have wished I was wearing a t-shirt proclaiming “HELLO! I’VE HAD A STROKE.”)

Physically, I am definitely still getting better, though the improvements are slow and incremental and sometimes hard for me to see. In fact, other people seem to notice these improvements more than I do. On Saturday, for example, we ran into a physio friend of ours who regarded my walking as something quite incredible (which I suppose it is, considering that the part of my brain that was most damaged was the bit controlling my leg and foot, and that some of my medical team thought it was unlikely that I’d ever be able to walk without a stick, brace, and one of those electronic thingummies). Recently, when I’ve been out with Bruce, I have even tried running a few steps. This is really very difficult – there is nothing my left leg likes less than moving at speed – but over the past few weeks I have progressed from five lopsided steps to twenty five. It feels quite exhilarating.

While I am on the subject, and as much for my benefit as anything else, I want to record an experience of a couple of weeks ago, after which my gait seemed to noticeably improve. Mostly, on my daily walks, I just pootle along as best I can, but there is a nice flat stretch of about half a mile where I try to make every single component of my gait correct – this takes more effort than you would imagine, and Bruce often becomes frustrated with what he must regard as pointless dawdling when ahead lie innumerable sticks and squirrels. Anyway, I was covering this gait-focused half-mile a couple of weeks ago, and found that I was walking really well – the knee seemed to be working without locking (a recurrent issue), and my steps were smooth and even. This continued for about half a minute, and then I suddenly had a terrible attack of vertigo and nausea – I had to hold onto a tree while I waited for it to subside – and then took Bruce the shortest way home. There then followed the particularly evil bout of fatigue (mentioned in this post), but a few days afterward I found myself capable of walking six-and-a-half miles from our flat to the Modern Art Gallery and back. I have wondered since whether, at that moment, my brain finally made some sort of useful connection, and that this somehow caused the crazy nausea. In any case, since then, my leg has certainly had more strength and stamina and my knee has been acting more reliably.

Anyway, I seem to have rambled far away from the ostensible subject of this post – which was supposed to be the novel experience of doing my own washing up and cooking for a few days. On the subject of which, I better go and put my supper on. . .

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,204 other followers