Today is the seven year anniversary of my stroke. Seven years ago this morning I lay terrified in a hospital bed, unable to move the left side of my body. Today I’m here, releasing a new design, about to finish one book and start another, able to walk, to drive, and to swim again. I live a good life: making things that I enjoy and running my own creative enterprise here in this lovely part of Scotland with my man and my dog. I know with no small degree of certainty that for me this is a better place, a better life, than the one I was living prior to my stroke. Was my stroke, then, a good thing? Was it (as people often feel compelled tell me) “meant to be”? Absolutely not. For if anything has reaffirmed my conviction in the randomness and raw brutality of life it was that event. There is nothing “good” about being suddenly disabled, and my stroke was most definitely not my destiny. Life is adventitious; it has no pre-determined narrative, but a rupture in the narrative might open the possibility of its re-writing. This is how I see what’s happened in the past seven years, and today seems a good a day as any to begin to try to explain that. So this morning I’m sitting down and starting to write a different sort of book.

I’d be grateful to hear any thoughts and suggestions you might have. Are there particular questions you’d like me to answer or themes you’d be interested I explore? What autobiographical writing have you particularly enjoyed? Are there any books, essays or articles you feel it might be useful for me to read (new research in academic journals is particularly welcome). (I’ve read lots of Oliver Sacks and find much of his writing troublingly exploitative, so please don’t feel the need to mention him!)

The design at the top of this post is the Dunyvaig hap, today’s new release from the Inspired by Islay club.

153 thoughts on “seven years

  1. It’s taken me a while to get to reading this blog Kate and just wanted to say thank you! You are an inspiration to many including me – well done on surviving the stroke and for enriching so many people’s lives with your wonderful blogs, designs, books and humour.

    Like

  2. Dear Kate, although I knew about your design, I didn’t kno
    know your story until I heard you on the “Women’s hour”.
    It inspired me to truly believe that I too can look past my
    limitations and do what I love. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  3. Hi Kate. Catching up late to your fabulous blog. My recommendations come from a different point of view: that of a carer to a severely disabled child. When I can bear to, I read carer memoirs. A favourite is actually a novel – though inspired by a real-life situation – of a friend of mine: the Tidal Zone. For it’s witty, smart and truthful account of navigating life altering events and all that comes with it, I cannot recommend it enough.

    Like

  4. People who have not themselves been through a life altering trauma have no idea what it’s like, or what strength it takes to re-write your story afterward. You are an inspiration! Be proud of who you are and the great things you already have and are accomplishing. Keep living the new life you are building to the full; enjoy it! :) With love,
    ~Sarah

    Like

  5. I am late to this post, but it comes just as I happen to be beginning Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, which I am so far enjoying. I found your blog very soon after your stroke, and so appreciated your writing both about that and about knitting – I, like so many others here, feel that your writing offers so much and love the idea of you exploring memoir writing.

    Like

  6. We’ve all now got a fabulous reading list of biographical material! I don’t know if you’d consider a graphic autobiography, but Allison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” was a wonderful read. I would also recommend Joan Didion as a stylist, especially The Year of Magical Thinking, about how devastating life’s ‘interruptions’ can be.

    I would think you have plenty of material to go back to, so it’s a matter of framing and style. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect way to tell your story–you always do.

    Like

  7. I would love to read a personal book by you. I have followed your blog for a long time, definitely more than seven years, and I have always loved your personality, your personal stories. I love your knitting and your history and your photos. But what I most love is you, your personality, your voice. It’s what keeps me coming back over and over to read your words.
    Seven years later, you’ve built an amazing life for yourself. I’m so sorry that you had the stroke and that it changed your life and your body forever. I’m grateful, though, for the stories you’ve shared since. They’re very powerful. I’d love to read more.
    I’m also grateful for the yarn and patterns you’ve made. I’ve found knitting your patterns with your yarn extremely satisfying. It’s even more so since I know some of the story behind how it all came together.
    I’m sorry I don’t have any specific advice for books to read, but I think you’ve already received many. I’ll just say thank you, thank you, for the years of writing you’ve done here. Thank you for sharing your stories and photos with us.

    Like

  8. A little late to the party — and simply skipped to the bottom here. I write both fiction and autobiographical-ish essays — and since his recent death, I’ve been reading John Berger again — I think you’d really like Bento’s Sketchbook, subtitle How Does the Impulse to Draw Something Begin? — his meditation on Spinoza and drawing — I keep dipping back into it again and again. The other odd thing I find really useful when I get stuck is Virginia Woolf’s diaries — especially the middle volumes, when she’s really working at her peak, and not too hindered by her mental illnesses. Also, she’s hilarious, which no one ever remembers. I don’t know if Annie Dillard is known in the UK? But I loved the Maytrees, and go back to the odd theological ones quite often: Holy the Firm and Teaching a Stone to Talk.
    What I find most useful when trying to do autobiographical writing are tangential works that get my brain going, and give me purchase to jump into the next chunk of work.
    (and to fangirl for a moment — congratulations on your recovery. I too suffered a rupture several years back of a different sort, and your story, and seeing your business develop and discovering the intersection of craft and intellectual work through your site — well, it was one of the things that gave me courage to quit my job and return to writing when I paid my house off last summer. So onward and upwards to all of us. Also, Tom’s beard is very handsome!)

    Like

  9. I say yes write a book! I would like to read more about the process/progress you went through to open my eyes to struggle and to have empathy for others . . . I am never sure how to respond . . . you were a teacher, continue to be a teacher, and from afar have taught me an awful lot!

    Like

  10. I love to read autobiographies and biographies (can’t stand “fictionalized” biographies though). I found Patricia Neal’s autobiography As I Am very interesting. She writes quite a bit about the stroke she had at 39 while pregnant and her recovery from that.

    Like

  11. Congratulations! You have done so many wonderful things since that awful event.
    As someone who suffers hearing loss, I am always interested in seeing the scientific facts of a health issue discussed in tandem with the actual experience of living with that health issue. A scientific text can explain why I have lost my hearing, but it can’t even begin to touch on what it is like to live with a hearing loss.
    I have always found your writing wonderfully informed and approachable, so I am sure whatever you choose to write will be a treat to read!

    Like

  12. A theme which I’d be interested in hearing about is how you have (very successfully!) shifted your career from what I call the “mass” world (in your case, mass education/academia) to something far more artisan/independent/personalised.
    It seems you have brilliantly combined the old (traditional knitting patterns, the history of the region where you are based) with the new (E-Commerce, new publishing formats). This strikes me as a much more fulfilling life and one which many people would enjoy hearing about.
    A writer who identified and talked about the “alienating” affects of the “mass” world in the early twentieth century, Nikolai Berdyaev, is well worth a read.
    Berdyaev also thought God was present in discontinuities, rather than continuities (what could be called a rupture in the narrative). He also thought we were closest to the divine when undertaking creative acts, like reading, writing, knitting, etc.
    Congratulations on your 7 year milestone!
    Stephen B

    Like

  13. One thing I know you won’t do is write a memoir with a ‘neat’ ending.

    It’s not the same but I’m a carer for my mum and yes I love her dearly but I also know the trials and tribulations the ‘why me’ it brings with it. I remember hearing a man on the radio who’d written a book called if I remember rightly “The Selfish Pigs Guide to Caring” when he talked about guiding his disabled wife – who he loved and cared for – down the stairs and getting an overwhelming urge to push her. This resonated with me. It’s the side of adversity that we hide, we always look for the noble and life can be far from noble. I hate stories about young carers for the same reason – yes they’re brave and take on responsibilities far beyond their years but it’s not a choice it’s what they were dealt in life – instead of giving them awards we should be taking the burden away and helping them. I hate it when people say “I don’t know how you do it” or ‘You’re amazing’ – no I’m not I didn’t get a choice other than not do it and live with the guilt.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is we always search for a narrative with a neat story and conclusion – real life is far more complicated than that as I’m sure you’ve discovered over the last seven years.

    Like

  14. Hi Kate,
    I was recently doing some research into knitting and PTSD, with a view to offering some of my Chiropractor’s patients classes in this wonderful craft. The wonderful internet took me to http://www.Stitchlinks.com where I encountered some very inspiring information on research being done into the links between abilities and knitting/crochet. It might be interesting to you.
    Slainte
    Kate L.
    Nova Scotia

    Like

  15. Dear Kate,
    I can see you have received many, many comments to your post. None the less I feel compelled to leave one as well. Actually, somewhat inspired by your work I took a class on writing memoirs last autumn. It was an interesting and encouraging experience, but it also became very clear that to me anyways, was working out exactly which story to tell. I have always admired the way that you have been able to put your designs into context of places, history, and other people’s work. I have especially enjoyed that you seem to not only be interested in promoting your own work, but also work of others, as well as the craft itself. In the class I took, recurring examples of successful memoirs were Mary Carrs Liars club, and Angela’s Ashes. Mary Carr has also written a book about writing memoirs. I do, however, find your unique blend of personal experience and knitting more inspiring. Good luck on your journey!

    Like

  16. I echo the person recommending Jeanette Winterson’s Why be memoir. I was also very struck, and still am years later, by the tone of Ben Watt’s Patient. Honest, and very much a male voice. It was so interesting. I’d wish you good luck but I don’t think you need it, you are so talented, you and Tom together. Xx

    Like

  17. I will read with great pleasure and happiness anything autobiographical from you. Apart from what others have mentioned, I like to read what creative people I admire say about the creative process itself: how their ideas come to life, how they have to be turned around and worked on before the final product (the only thing the public can see) arises. A good example of this would be Virginia Woolf´s diary.

    Like

  18. I am so happy to have stumbled upon your work and page. I am the wife a stroke survivor. One year ago on Oct 11th my dear sweet husband at 50 suffered a stroke in front of me and my then 9 year old daughter that left him unable to use his left side nor swallow. It was all so shocking and unbelievable. The work and prayers to get him almost whole is miraculous. One year later my husband still as some weakness on his left side, more of lack coordination in his legs, full use of his left arm and hands, and almost 100% in swallowing. Chocking is still a real concern, but he handles it well. My husband has returned to working full time and restarted his PhD program but most importantly, is here and has kept our little family whole. It was a scary time, one that I would not want to repeat. Congratulations on your seven year anniversary. I don’t have anything to recommend but I wish you nothing but love and light.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Kate,

    (I sit here in my central heating sweater – a lovely soft grey Shetland wool Warriston!)

    Seven years ago I won an award from a business organisation for women for ‘Success in Adversity’; it came as a compete surprise/shock to me. The citation included all sorts of nice things about not being defined by my husband’s disability, providing leadership to those around me by inspiring them to not let difficult things get in the way of their ambition and above all accepting without recrimination, resentment or regret what had happened to me. I found it the hardest thing on the face of the earth to accept that ‘as I was’ was exactly what those around me valued so very much. At around that time someone suggested I read your blog, knowing my love for knitting. I have felt so encouraged and inspired by you, your acceptance your determination and seeming cheerfulness and humane approach to so much, back to the ‘chain’ from WH perhaps.

    It is a truism that we never see ourselves as others see us but perhaps a book celebrating some quiet descriptions, of the battles fought or lost, the challenges of acceptance or not the sense of living a life despite adversity is what the world most needs it seems to me you know not what you give us and perhaps just putting that gift in a different form is all that’s needed and from what is written below most wanted.

    I send MY heartfelt thanks and a private wish that more people could know your attitude and strength than those of us who love our ‘needle sports’ ( as my beloved Son 1 refers to my knitting, sewing, crochet and whatever!)

    Like

  20. Hi Kate,

    Many years ago I read a book titled “My stroke of insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, an American neuroscientist who had a massive stroke and a s a result, the chance to experience that incident from the inside rather than as a medical observer which she had been prior to her illness. I believe she now talks in order to raise money for brain research as the more they know the more can be done and she says very few people will donate their brains to research. They are happy to part with other organs after death but the brain somehow is different. It was a fascinating book and gives the reader a huge awareness of what it must be like to be trapped inside a non-responsive body but to be able to experience in full the surrounding events.

    I am delighted you have made such wonderful progress. I only discovered your blog after your life changing event through my interest in knitting and for some time was not aware that you had had a stroke. I love reading it and seeing Tom’s lovely photographs and enjoying your knitted creations but I must confess to having a favourite and that would be Bruce!

    I look forward to what ever you produce next. You are a multi-talented woman-keep up the good work-it enriches so many.

    Like

  21. A book I can recommend is “The woman who changed her brain” by Barbara Arrowsmith Young. Barbara was diagnosed with severe learning difficulties, but managed to shape her own brain by devising exercises for herself. She now develops programs for students with learning difficulties. The books spoke very strongly to me about the brain’s ability to change and grow. Barbara is optimistic and hopeful where other people may have given up.
    I have been following your blog for a long time now, and think you are an inspiration.

    Like

  22. Step back from yourself, use your experience and knowledge to try fiction. Fiction reaches the parts that autobiography can’t .

    Like

  23. Hi Kate,

    I don’t read much autobiography, particularly when it very realistic and stark. I prefer the creative distance between the author and their writing. But what I have enjoyed, very much, are the following:

    Boy – Roald Dahl.
    The other side of the Dale – Gervase Phinn
    Birthday Letters (not strictly autobiography, and it’s poetry) – Ted Hughes.

    My masters thesis was on the childhood experience in 19th/early 20th c. Egypt, and my main source was autobiography, so I have read tons of witty and fascinating Egyptian autobiographies from this pivotal period. My main focus in the literary crit was on using autobiography as a historical source. Whilst I have plenty of recommendations for such reading, I’m not sure it is what you would be looking for. If it would help, I am happy to send you the titles. Just leave a reply or email!

    Like

  24. I agree, those breakings could never be ” good” things, they are too harmful and so so hard to live through. They are and we can go through and that’ s fine !
    Do you know ” karista” de K M Balldursdottir ?

    Like

  25. I very much look forward to reading this. Best wishes on the writing process. I’ve been following your blog for years and have always found your discussion of your stroke and ongoing recovery so interesting and inspiring. I have a chronic pain condition, and almost everyone urges me to try their favorite alternative medicine to cure it. Wish they wouldn’t. :) Wish they knew that where I’m at at the moment they’re talking to me comes from a complex, physically and emotionally taxing, ongoing journey of going down many roads, turning around at many deadends, trying to figure out how to balance caring for this condition with living the rest of my life, etc. Wish they knew that this balance occupies a place in my every moment. There’s no way that “Oh, have you tried realigning your lymphatic system by bouncing on a trampoline — it cured my sister!” is going to be the ah-ha moment that changes my life.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Five and a half years ago I had an asthma attack. I was intubated and put on a ventilator. I developed double pneumonia, fungal infections and finally sepsis. I underwent a tracheotomy and then proceeded to die 4 times. I was in a medically induced coma for two months. When you are in a coma you actually can become aware of those around you and hear what is said occasionally. I heard a doctor tell my husband to unplug me and let me die. they finally called in an infectious disease specialist who changed my antibiotics and saved my life. I ended up in a rehab and long term care facility.. I had to learn to swallow, eat, walk, talk go to the bathroom all over again. It was and still is a battle. My doctor thought I would be in a nursing home the rest of my life.. I fought…today I drive, ride horses, knit, sew…do just about all I did before, though I have lung damage. I know how hard it is. I know you have fought and continue to fight.. you are a hero in my eyes…..

    Liked by 4 people

  27. I’ve been reading your blog a long time, for some time before the stroke (years maybe?) I actually had a similar story, i broke my back in a serious accident, and then my mom died, around the same time, 2010. I was in academia at the time transitioning between my masters and phd with a publication in print I wasn’t able to finish, a masters thesis in revisions I never was able to finish either between being completely broke and on welfare and being in pain. Like you, I was able to get out of academia and now am in a totally different field as an electrician apprentice where I am going to make a lot more money and have more stability and be able to live in the city that I love. (my back recovered pretty well after several years of being no good at all) I always liked your blog for the writing: i do not knit, despite an interest in textiles. I vividly remember you going through the brutal austerity process of applying for disability. I was never able to get disability myself because it was uncertain how long I would disabled for, so i had to be on welfare which is a terrible and demoralizing thing (i live in canada)

    I think its something that we are not properly prepared for, that moment when life goes off the rails and changes suddenly- and yet its something that’s going to occur in the lives of most people at some point, if not through disability through an unexpected death or death or an event like this happening to someone close to them- and yet we are so unprepared for it. and feel like we are alone in dealing with these transitions. i was unable to write about it myself. i felt caught in some liminal status between being disabled and hoping to be un disabled at some point, but i felt like many people in my life dealt badly with this status, including activists, but also including family members who started disowning me for being a failure.

    while in some ways i’m better off, and was able to multitask in those years i wasn’t able to work to have a baby, i am still very sad about all the years i wasted in academia, how friends from there turned out to be temporary, how i had to start over at 34 with a small child with those years of injury lost, and those years before preparing for a career and a life that i can’t have. and yet social science academia is such a trap and a dead end, especially for working class women like me, (especially if they want children and don’t marry rich). I feel like people are mostly unable to write about these times in their life especially if they don’t fit a certain dynamic (and especially with an anti neoliberal state analysis thats against cuts to disabled people).

    Also, i’m sure people say things like “Look, she was disabled and on welfare with a child and now she’s an electrician” ignoring the special circumstances that allowed me to do that (community support, close friends, my boyfriend, a special program for women electricians at the ywca that was discontinued after) and the forces that crush injured and disabled people and prevent their recovery if they don’t have parents or partner to take care of them. And the fact that I live knowing that my back might give out at any time and force me into unemployment again, maybe forever…

    looking forward to reading what you might write about this.

    Like

  28. I would just like to say that everyone has “ruptures in the narrative” of their lives at some point. It’s not the events that shape us, but how we react to them and deal with them. We may not choose the event, but we choose how we respond and that makes all the difference. However – forget writing – I’m waiting for a knitting/photo workshop hosted by you and Tom in the Highlands!!! I would be the first person to sign up. :)

    Like

  29. I very much look forward to seeing where you go with this and reading anything new you write. As for suggested readings, I have three: Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and Finding Beauty in a Broken World, which are both by Terry Tempest Williams.

    Like

  30. thank you so much for sharing your wonderful work – I read your blog since a lot of years. I admire your creativity and you were one of my inspirations – to knit a lot – and finally to publish my own knitting books. But then, one year ago it happend to me … I had a cerebral bleeding, I was pregnant with my 3th child … now one year later my little daughter is 10 month old, the most cheerful child you can imagine, and I’m getting better every day – I’ve learnt to walk, to do the laundry, to cook , to write and my hope is, that my sensibility disorder will improve one day, so that I will be able to knit more than 5 or 6 needles. But I believe in and your story gives hope – thank you! ela

    Like

  31. A project that has been a long time coming. Count me first in line when the book is released. My friend, Nikki, a poet, had a stroke the same time you did. So young. Heading to a career as a teacher. Your recovery posts provided a much needed ballast as she sailed toward the future. I think this project will inspire others, as it did my friend.

    Like

  32. I would suggest “I Can See Clearly Now” by Wayne Dyer. Wayne reflected on different things that happened in his life, and how those situations, life choices and events moved him towards a new direction in his life, and, for him, how these events shaped the person he became.

    Like

  33. Kate, I echo many of the sentiments by other commenters here. I greatly enjoy your writing and believe that writing a book on your experiences will be a great gift to the world as you have the ability to synthesise academic rigour and incisive thought with direct experience and write in a way that communicates emotionally without sentiment. I would gladly read any book you write and hope you will write many! There is a pretty good list here in the comments to keep you going for a few years ;)

    Thank you for all you share with us. I am so glad that you and Tom and Bruce thrive together. Much joy to you and yours.

    Like

  34. I think it was May last year, I was home feeling fearful and sorry for myself after having three mini strokes in quick succession. I heard you talk on woman’s hour and you gave me the kick start I needed to get my life back on track. Thank you for being brave and determined.

    Like

  35. Dear Kate,
    I think you already have the core of your thesis in your opening to today’s post. And today is indeed a good day to “try to explain that.” Write what is in your heart. Someone else (Rosie) commented that she thought Tom’s view would be interesting. I agree—a juxtaposition of viewpoints. Let us hear your voice and Tom’s as you both travelled this path. I think sharing what you can of the experiences, emotions, and things you’ve learned along the way can be of great benefit to all of us, especially anyone else (and their loved ones) experiencing a “rupture in the narrative.” Best regards, Anita

    Like

  36. I read your post just after a telephone conversation with one of my doctors. I have had a negative reaction to medication which had been improving my quality of life. I now have to stop the injections. I have joint pain which is interfering with my knitting joy. I am feeling discouraged. However, reading about your stroke and the obvious emotional and physical strength you found to recover is amazing and encouraging to say the least.
    I hope your day is filled with love and celebration.
    Bee

    Like

  37. I have never had a stroke, but I have had 2 significant head injuries. The most recent occurred almost 8 years ago and affected my vision and balance. You have a gift for articulating the experience of having a brain that isn’t working quite the way that it is supposed to. I was so excited when I read your first blog post about your stroke — I printed it off and sent it to people and said “this is what it is like, this is how I feel.” I am glad to hear that you are sharing your story with a wider audience.

    Like

  38. Oliver Sachs latterly added a couple of autobiographies to his fine cannon of writings on neurological conditions – the first was primarily about family, the second about his adulthood. He wrote without shame or embarrassment and always with humour and intelligence. A hero of mine from early reading of “the man who mistook his wife for a hat’, through TV and then consuming anything he wrote as he wrote it. If you can achieve a small fraction of his honest self appraisal, gift for clear, simple but explanatory language, then I’ll read that book.

    Like

    1. I completely agree with everything you say about his writing, but, from the perspective of someone on the other side of the neurologist/ patient equation I find his early work very difficult to stomach.

      Like

      1. There is a book where Sacks describes how he breaks a leg while walking in the woods. All alone, a bull looking at him and he cannot move. He describes his emotions and fears during hospital and recovery. I have forgotten the title, but since that book I have a changed outlook at his books.
        Theory and practice were not in accord.
        I loved Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber. A moving story told by his wife and him during her struggle with cancer. Inspiring and uplifting, but also to the point and down to earth.
        Love your blog.

        Like

      2. Sachs work is difficult if you are the other side. I found this when I read about people who “hear” music that isn’t really there. This happens to me, but when I read the book, I felt more normal again and realized I was not alone in hearing things.

        Like

  39. I have enjoyed Atul Gawande’s writing, especially his Being Mortal. While he’s a physician he acknowledges some of the burden of assumptions that comes with medical training. I join others in commending Gretel Erlich’s A Match to the Heart; her experience of life changing in a moment would seem apropos to yours. Joan Didion’s two memoirs of personal catastrophe are beautifully written, forthright and insightful. These traits are pretty much what your many readers appreciate in the brief bits of writing you’ve shared about your stroke thus far so, carry on. I’m so glad you’re here.

    Like

  40. You write very well and manage to communicate extremely effectively. I am sure this will carry over to your next project.

    Slightly off the path of memoir, strictly speaking, I wonder if you might find Krista Tippett’s _Becoming Wise_ useful as a model? It grows out of her radio show, “On Being,” and compiles stories of wisdom from different people she has interviewed over the years. You could also check out the podcast (or audiobook). Here is a link for more details – http://onbeing.org/becoming-wise-the-podcast/

    Like

  41. You write in a way that makes the difficult approachable, you are thorough in your research, you obviously care enthusiastically about your subject, and you spark curiosity and inspire affection and understanding in your readers. Great ingredients for a classic!

    Like

  42. Kate- I am an avid reader of biographies of all kinds. I love the fact that every story is unique and how people overcome diversity. I am sure it has been a struggle to decide how much you wish to share with readers and still maintain some privacy. It helps to know that every human being is grappling with something. It’s not what happens, it’s how we handle it.

    Clearly, you are a creative soul, and you are living an authentic life that is true to that.

    Like

  43. I work with children facing many different levels of sudden unfair disabilities.
    Things do NOT happen for a reason, things happen because we are organic and vulnerable. People who think only bad things happen to bad people surely haven’t had their bad thing happen to them .Yet.
    Parents ask me how long it takes to get “over” the event/death/accident and rather than trot out the chestnut of time, faith or other such religious nonsense I tell them you will never get over it. You will get used to it. The hardest part for the family members is learning to not feel guilty because it wasn’t them that suffered .
    One book that helped me not take the “everything happens for a reason” approach was When Bad things Happen to Good people by Aaron Kushner. Old book, but workable.
    A few of our patients have experience “locked in ” syndrome with the appearance of brain death when in fact they are very much aware. One child was declared dead, we withdrew support and she is alive, well, fully recovered and her parents never trusted anything we said again. Good for them. This is why I do what I do , not because I think God makes miracles, but because I believe the body may recover , biologically , with much work by it’s owner. My job is to always treat the person as a person, not a failing system. And more importantly to NEVER EVER assume we are always right.

    Like

  44. Wow! Two things immediately come to mind—
    1) Its beyond words that you have managed to come back to a happy, productive life after such an event.
    2) I’ve been faithfully reading your blog for longer than 7 years, as I can remember Tom writing to let us know what had happened. Only the best to you in the future. I agree in no way was the stroke your destiny. Beautiful shawl.
    xo Laura

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Two recent works come to mind. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee puts the narrative of his family’s history of genetic based mental health issues within the narrative context of the human understanding of the genome.

    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a memoir of his life as a neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Part of the memoir spends time talking about his philosophy on the quality of life that his patients are likely to experience after neurosurgery. He wanted to be a writer, but became a surgeon with the idea that he would have time to write later. This book was his last chance to be writer and his academic work in literature before medical training shines through.

    Like

  46. Hi Kate,

    I posted last night and then this morning, I was reading Cauchy Complete’s blog (she is an American academic who makes the most amazing quits and cross stitch!; https://cauchycomplete.wordpress.com), and in her Dec. 15, 2016 posting, she had a link to an article in The Atlantic on constructing autobiographical narratives. I love when life gives you dots to connect. Here’s the article if you’re interested:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/life-stories-narrative-psychology-redemption-mental-health/400796/

    Like

  47. So glad you’ve recovered so much from the stroke. And so glad that your designing and publishing career has taken off so well.

    Thank you for sharing both with us, it’s been wonderful watching you progress.

    BTW – I knitted Hat 101 last month, it came in very useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. I had left a comment earlier but I have been reading the other comments and felt that dwelling on the past isn’t good for you or anyone. Yes we need to learn from the past but you have done this. You changed direction and you feel fulfilled with your new life. Happiness.
    Therefore I wouldn’t write about your past experience until it is long past. Long past. Now keep moving forward. New experiences.
    The only exception to this is another HAP book but this time using eastern European designers eg:
    Agnes Kutas Kerezstas, Letes, Hada knits= Hanna Maciejewska , and many Estonian or Russian designers.
    Keep feeling the peace and tranquillity of your life and remember :
    I am doing the best that I can AT THIS time.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. “A rupture in the narrative” indeed: well said. I think only you can answer what such a book might include, because it is an exploration of your own curiosity about the person you are now, compared to who you were then, and how this came to be. Or maybe it isn’t! That’s for you to determine! Just start writing and see what happens. Editing comes later. Go girl! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  50. I would read a book about your life before and after the stroke and your recovery and setting up your own business. I know that’s effectively your blog, but I’d love it in book form. I find it very inspiring and have referred people to your blog who are going through difficult times.

    And yes, totally agree about things that are “meant to be”. I had anxiety and depression and I just cannot see it that way. I learnt many positive things from it, not least how many amazing friends I have, but I don’t think that equates to it being “meant to be”!

    So glad to see how well you are doing seven years after your stroke – I’m sure it’s not as effortless as you make it appear, but I have really enjoyed watching your business develop (and selfishly, have benefited enormously from your patterns and writing!)

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Hello Kate
    Oddly I actually wrote my childhood autobiography last year and the person who asked me to do it is insisting “that is part one” and that I need to write the rest…but there is still so much to do! I haven’t finished with life. I did something this year that I thought I would never do. I ran a class on Shetland lace knitting for a summer school. It might not sound much to other people but I have mild cerebral palsy and yes, it was a challenge. I’d say no your stroke wasn’t meant to happen but when it did you used the opportunity it presented…and that is what matters.
    As for what you might consider reading perhaps try “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf – the life story of Humboldt…and when you have done it perhaps try working on something related to knitting and the environment – seaman’s guernseys/jerseys, cables from knotwork, the need for mittens and the double layer in the real Faroese shawl and why – and a lot more. I’ll keep you company as I start to prepare for a new challenge – teaching a class on knotwork and how to knit it.
    Cat

    Liked by 5 people

  52. Thanks for sharing your Story,your Designs and your Inspiration.
    It brings hope into my World and open the Window to a new View.
    All,the best to you,Kate.

    Like

  53. I thoroughly enjoy your writing. While I especially appreciate it when you write about women, knitting, crafts, social history, and the political and economic impact/value of women’s work, I enjoy all your topics. I started reading your blog a couple of years ago and was so impressed with your ability to weave so many different themes into your writing, not the least of which was your experience of the stroke and ongoing recovery, that I went back to the beginning of the blog and read forward until I caught myself up.

    I would recommend the memoir “Glass Castles” by Jeannette Walls. She writes about her childhood, which most people would consider harrowing, with honesty, humor, and compassion. “Strength in What Remains” by Tracy Kidder is the nonfiction story of Deogratis Niyizonkiza, a young Burundi man who survives the Hutu/Tutsi genocide, escapes to America as a refugee, and attempts to rebuild his life. What he faces in America is no less destructive to his personhood than the genocide he flees. His ability to overcome the sudden and irrevocable rupture his life underwent makes for compelling reading. I also really enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, “Wild.” When she writes about her anger and despair, it is raw and electric. Also, a sizable portion of the book takes place while she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. As an experienced outdoors woman, you’ll marvel at her bravado and, I think, enjoy her journey.

    I’m very much looking forward to whatever you decide to write about in the next book.

    Like

  54. Hello Kate,
    I remember reading that after your stroke, you could not plait your hair. This bothered you deeply because your braids are part of your identity. Although I have not had an experience like your stroke, this feeling was simple to understand and revealed to me the depth of your confusion, frustration, and sadness. I also recall you mentioning that Tom’s unconditional love made all the difference. I’d love to hear about the strategies you use as individuals and as a couple to deal with the moments when the challenge of getting and staying well is about to get the better of you.

    On a separate note, most of the knitting that I do is directly inspired by places that I visit, and one trip often results in dozens of ideas for “memory pieces”, which become souveniers. Your Inspired By Islay collection is a lovely example of this process.

    Thank you and best wishes for the new book.

    Like

  55. Hello — I’m so in love with the Dunyvaig hap but I’m not sure how to get the pattern. Is it in a kit? I see that’s it’s part of the “Inspired by Islay” club but I’m not a member. I love reading your blog and the gorgeous photos but often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the patterns — but the Dunyvaig hap I love and would love to knit. Is it possible to get the pattern? i’m in the US.

    Like

  56. When you asked which or what kind of autobiographical works I have enjoyed reading, I was kind of stumped. I don’t think I read much of the genre upon which you are about to write. I quite liked Martin Amis’s Experience and Viktor Schklovsky’s Third Factory, but apart from that I don’t think I read or enjoy reading personal autobiographies. Not to say that I would not read yours! I have been reading your blog since the Owls sweater days and I have really felt like I “know” you. I have tons of questions about your family, about giving up what was previously your life’s work and part of your identity, about all the plans you had in life that having a stroke changed. you know, the usual.

    Like

  57. Jill Bolte Taylor is an American neuroscientist who had a massive stroke, knew what was happening, describes it, and, like you, fought her way back. she, too, wrote a book that I very much enjoyed. The insights were many and in her recovery the parallels to ‘differently brained’ folk like those on the savant/autism spectrum, and just regular folk recovering from brain trauma were many and much food for thought.
    She also gave a TED(Technology Entertainment & Design) talk that is a terrific and concise precis if her book does not appeal. the talk is here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight. You can easily find her book online. I think that your own ‘voice’ and story will do very well. You are an excellent, thoughtful, and perceptive person and writer. I very much look forward to reading the story you will tell. I say tell it straight out. It is, after all, your story, and therefore unlike any others. All the best to you.

    Like

  58. I would very much like to read a book (or books!) you’ve written, on whatever subject. But since you asked, my mind wandered and lit upon this: I’ve had a couple of instances in my life where my path took a sharp turn because of some sudden, outside event. If one considers a stroke to be an “outside” event, that same quick turn happened to you. In the midst of the upheaval after such a turn, my life felt awful, chaotic, impossible, and yet a few months, perhaps a year later, I could tell my life was better – and yet I could not, did not, have recognized my life needed improvement before the outside force hit me. So, write about how life changes, and sometimes even improves, when something literally sweeps one off one’s feet.

    Like

    1. Hello! I have been a fan of your blog and knitting for quite some time, but never had a comment to contribute before today. A favorite memoir of learning to live with a disruptive medical condition is The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks, a renowned law professer in the US who has schizophrenia. Highly recommend!

      Like

  59. I just want to say thank you for all the times you’ve shared about your stroke and your recovery. Last summer a young woman from my work had a stroke just a couple of weeks before her 31st birthday. It was so shocking and hard to reconcile with my image of this active, vibrant woman. Watching her recover has been an amazing thing and everytime you share something new that you are able to do (like picking up your violin again) I am encouraged and hopeful in her recovery.

    You also inspired a project for my colleague. Her stroke was just a couple of weeks after The Book of Haps was released and I had haps on my mind a lot while I was thinking of her in the hospital. Along with the other knitters at work I organized a blanket where everyone knit squares for our friend and I seamed them together. So many people who had never knitted or hadn’t since they were children made simple garter squares. The finished blanket was a beautiful thing and so full of love.

    Liked by 3 people

  60. My stroke happened on New Year’s Day, 2012. I was about to watch the Rose Bowl Parade, but never got to see it. The short story is that I survived, with no post-stroke problems. It took me a moment to again recognize what a keyboard was, and to again play the piano; but that has long-since past. Since the stroke, I have been a regular contributor of cartoons to my local paper, I cook, paint, and write about food for a national magazine. Each Tuesday, I meet with, and enjoy the company of other stroke survivors, and play an active part in our meetings. Early on, I enjoyed The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge (Penguin). I have written often about strokes, and offer this poem that told of my disdain for them:

    To a Stroke – Duncan Holmes
    Unwanted. Uninvited.
    Furtive, faceless creature,
    Slinking in by night;
    Burglar on soft and sinister feet,
    Sweeping along a stolen highway,
    Oxygen starving, finding a corner
    To dump your damning poison;
    Sometimes to take life,
    On occasion to spare it,
    Leaving ugly, messy footprints,
    A stamp to last a lifetime.

    Conquest? A decision to make.
    This time, faceless creature,
    You have met your match.
    Yes, I felt your sucker punch,
    Squeezing, blinding, overpowering,
    There to lie exhausted,
    Forever changed, a loss enormous.

    But life remained, cruel intruder.
    Glorious life. Light of new day.
    Another chance, a chance to change.
    Leave memories, nameless burglar,
    But in time they, like the pain,
    Will be pushed aside for better things.
    Blessings day to day will push you,
    creature, into yesterday.
    There, in well deserv-ed solitude
    To fade. Alone. Away.

    Like

  61. I so agree about the well intentioned but daft comments about a stroke being meant to be. In your case I think of grit in oysters. I feel sad that for various reasons my husband’s stroke seems to have a gloomy outlook. On a more cheerful note, I love seeing the cabbages and roses designs and feel rather pleased that we have 2 garments in common (which happen to be all time faves!). Love the beautiful knitting- thank you

    Like

  62. Hi Kate,

    Well, hmmm…I haven’t read all that many autobiographies, but one I enjoyed very much is “Dancing Fish and Ammonites, A Memoir” by Penelope Lively. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have already read this, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

    I thoroughly agree with you about life’s being adventitious. But oh my, at least in this country, we seem to have the attitude that things happen for a reason and one must accept that and gather strength from that. Balderdash. I heartily endorse your statement that “There is nothing “good” about being suddenly disabled, and my stroke was most definitely not my destiny.” When I had breast cancer and the ensuing slash, burn, and poison treatment that was required almost 25 years ago, I thought much as you do, but I felt I would be regarded as weak or ungrateful for saying so aloud. Sigh. Yes, of course I am pleased as punch to be contemplating my impending 70th birthday in a few months, but still, I could have done without the cancer. So, expanding on your feelings & thinking about this sort of “fateful” philosophy would be great!

    Oh, and I must say that one of your images that really gives me a quick shot of encouragement is your “swants leap” in 2013. Can’t wait to read your new book, once you have written it. Take care and all the best to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  63. One aspect of response to traumatic occurrence that intrigues me is the issue of resilience. What lays the foundation for a journey of resilient recovery after a traumatic life event? What underpins the response whereby some victims of trauma manage to re-write their reality in a direction of possibility, where others are broken by their experience?
    Having also experienced a health-related event that left me feeling as if I had been lifted up and plunked down on a parallel path, where I could see the old one but with no way back, I’ve heard (as you must have) the phrase “the gift of sickness”.
    Even in this post you’ve touched on that conundrum; what is true is that being violently reminded of “the randomness and raw brutality of life” can add to one’s appreciation of the joy, as well as pain, that life can bring. The awe associated with that joy can fade with time, as life returns to a new normal, but some people never, ever experience that hunger for beauty.

    Liked by 3 people

  64. This is so interesting. It wasn’t a stroke for me but a three year period of debilitating depression after my first child was born. I’m not glad it happened to me….I can never get those three years back….but my life has changed since then and I can say it is better now than before. Unfortunately I cannot recommend any research material for you but I am looking forward to reading your thoughts and the outcome of your research.

    Like

  65. I find your posts about your physical recovery very interesting… For example your one about swimming again was excellent, but I also enjoyed your return to cycling and driving as well as hill walking. They all give great insight into practical difficulties and having to accept or work with the limitations of your body, so I’d be interested in more of this.

    As for style Penelope Lively’s memoir… Or sort of memoir… Ammonites and Leaping Fish uses different objects as triggers for memories and discussion giving a memoir which does not have a traditional linear approach but is effective and allows her to address issues or tell stories that she wants to in a flexible structure.

    Good luck with the writing.

    Like

  66. There’s an American expression: “Life can turn on a dime.” (“To have the ability to make a very sharp, agile turn. The dime is the smallest US coin, implying the sharpest possible turn.” Quora) Yours certainly did. I have had nothing so dramatic as your stroke happen to me, but I was diagnosed with diabetes 22 years ago last month, and the day I received that diagnosis many things changed for me. I have been dealing with the chronic nature of the illness ever since. Sometimes well, many times not, though better in the last few years.

    I eagerly look forward to your book, because whatever you write about is fascinating! I heartily second the recommendation of Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Winterson. You may have already read it, in which case you’ll know that it’s just an excellent book, whether one is contemplating writing an autobiography or not. Someone else mentioned Terry Tempest Williams’ book Refuge, also excellent. I also found Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking very powerful. Another “turn on a dime” story is Gretel Ehrlich’s A Match to the Heart: One Woman’s Story of Being Struck by Lightning. All of these books still echo for me years after reading them, and I expect that yours will too!

    Like

  67. I happened across your blog a couple of years ago when a knitting machine came into my life. I followed along until you referenced your stroke. What?!?!? Floored. I went back to your first blog entry and began at the beginning (a good place to start) and read nothing else for days while tracking your creativity, your love, your insight into women’s historical roles, your frustrations with academia, your body’s betrayal, your dedication to re-expanding. While reading, I realized what a wonderful story you were knitting and how beautifully you were telling it.
    What I’m saying is you have the book already, or at least a strong framework.
    p.s. I think you are happier now. Who could have imagined that?

    Liked by 3 people

  68. Please just write from your heart as you always do. It’s your voice and your thoughts that bring us all to your blog and your books.

    Like

  69. I enjoy your blog very much. The colour, the pattern, the landscapes, the academic rigour and research, and above all your voice. I feel you are very generous here, so for me to ask for specific topics seems greedy, but I would be interested in hearing how you dealt and deal with the loss of dreams, the rewriting of plans, mentally and emotionally. It is a very different thing, and I do not mean to conflate them, but my husband and I have been failing to conceive for three years, and three rounds of Ivf, so to hear how you may have processed some similar issues would be interesting.

    Like

    1. Hi!
      Please ould you expand on your dislike of Oliver Sachs! I’ve always found his writing rather honest and humane, and I seem to recall him having emotional intelligence, and a developed sense of awareness of himself,, his patients and how/what he was writing. I’d be interested in you following up your short aside.
      PS Good luck with your new literaryexploration!

      Like

  70. Two autobiographies that I have read, really enjoyed and used nature to help understand their world was H is for hawk by Helen Macdonald and more recently ‘the outrun’ by Amy Liptrot set mostly on Orkney a fantastic read.
    I also really valued Toast by Nigel Slater… it stunned me as a way of writing… of any book Ive read it is the one that made me think I could have a stab at writing my life down. It is made up of memories both long and short like snapshots… honest and clear.

    Hope this helps

    Like

  71. Another exciting adventure ahead! I’d recommend Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, not because of its core subject (a young, brilliant doctor finds he has cancer) but because his writing is astonishing, his observations are astute, and there isn’t a sentimental word or moment in the entire manuscript. Kalanithi has/had a passionate way of engaging with the world, and his insights, linked as they are to the world of the intellect AND the body, remind me of the incisive ways you so often tackle subjects. I look forward to reading your new work — as I always enjoy everything you pen (type). All the very Best, Suzanne Wilsey

    Like

  72. Perhaps you might find the later essays in Terry Pratchett’s autobiographical collection, A Slip of the Keyboard, of interest; he talks with his usual compassion, clarity, humour and total lack of pretension about being diagnosed with a degenerative condition and about continuing to live, and also about the assisted dying debate.

    Like

  73. My Stroke of Insight; a Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor describes her feelings during her stroke and her role of her mother in recovering from her stroke. She has given a TED talk and has spoken on talk radio about the subject.

    Like

  74. Hi Kate! So many thoughtful comments and eloquent remarks that I almost don’t know how I can add anything to the discussion, yet I feel compelled to add my two cents.

    Like many others I’m a long-time reader of the blog and avid follower of your work. To say that I’ve ‘enjoyed’ reading about your recovery from stroke and the aftermath of it’s effects on your life, seems a bit ludicrous to me, but I have always found the honesty in your writing to be completely engaging and relatable, the hallmarks of great writing. I I can say, unreservedly, that I admire your writer’s voice so much that I would gladly read you on pretty much any subject you should choose to discuss.
    However, if I’m honest, I would be SO happy to see you give full rein to your academic leanings and write an entire book on the overlapping subjects of craft and making, women’s rights and the history of knitting. I suppose some of my favourite blog posts are the ones that reference your scholarly background and research into women’s correspondence and making in the 18th century (I hope I recall the timeframe correctly?) and I’m a big fan of the articles in your books around the history of knitting.
    I just find it endlessly fascinating, the admittedly broad subject of women’s handwork through history, and enjoy nothing more than having my mind blown with examples of womens’ artistry as expressed through the making of everyday items.

    Just my thoughts… but ultimately, please write what you would love to write about and we will love to read it.

    Thanks for all you do, Kate, to inspire and educate and entertain us with your knowledge and your creativity!
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

  75. For me it’s been nine and a half years. Still a lot of all too intersting stuff happens–it’s never fully over with a severe brain injury. But there’s been a lot of good stuff as well–I’ves become a better person (more empathetic, more patient, beeter able to connect with people). I’ve also become a better teachere, and have become a writer… In fact I have a book about my journey coming out in October. Pretty exciting.
    In the grand scheme of things, life is harder, but more fulfilling–the gains outweigh the losses.
    Ultimately, life is good (despite the glitches).

    Like

  76. Hello Kate
    The two autobiographies that I have read and loved are H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and more recently ‘ the outrun’ by Amy Liptrot a fantastic read based mostly on Orkney.
    I also loved the way that Toast by Nigel Slater was written. It contained chapters (sections?) both long and short like snippets of memory. If ever there was a book that made me think ‘I could do that’ this is the one!
    Hope this helps
    Sheila

    Like

  77. I have found Joanna Field (Marion Milner) helpful over the years – A Life of One’s Own & An Experiment in Leisure contain valuable insights into what gives life meaning and fulfilment. Mary

    Liked by 1 person

  78. I would read anything you write, full stop.

    The books listed here by other commenters would make a very interesting reading project — I might well do it myself — but I am not convinced that you *as a writer* need to read anything that you wouldn’t read in the normal course of your life. Indeed writing something of the sort you suggest might well lead you to read very little by anyone else for the duration.

    And I am another one who wants to thank you for revealing your annoyance with people who tell you that your stroke was “meant”.

    Like

  79. “My Stroke of Insight, a brain scientist’s personal journey,” by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD is a book that I hope my caregivers will or have read should I ever suffer a debilitating stroke.

    Like

  80. Hope I didn’t miss that someone else suggested this book … My Stroke of Insight by Jill Taylor Bolte- She is a neuroscientist who had a stroke at a young age as you did Kate. There is also a TED talk. I will hear Jill speak this weekend at a conference I am attending about the Anat Baniel Method (evolution of Feldenkrais) that Norman Doidge writes of in the book suggested earlier – The Brain’s Way of Healing.

    Like

  81. I am among those who have been “reading you forever” and STILL vividly remember Tom’s posting about your stroke. What I hadn’t remembered was that you had been in the rehabilitation hospital for so long.

    I cannot even begin to join in with the many eloquent and articulate replies above – they are magnificent. I was shocked to think that we don’t see this kind of writing and thought on social media so I hope you are pleased with the answers.

    I am torn in thinking about what kind of topics you should tackle next but constantly am wondering and marveling at your energy and discipline! Somehow you knit, design, walk, write, do domestic chores I’m sure and more … all in a day. That’s what I’d love to know about! Maryjo

    Liked by 1 person

  82. Wishing you much joy in your latest writing adventure. If you haven’t heard of Jill Bolte Taylor, stroke survivor, neuroscientist I recommend you either read her book ‘My Stroke of Insight” and/or watch her Ted Talk titled the same. A remarkable woman indeed. You are an inspiration and great gift to humanity. Sending you, Tom and Bruce bright blessings, deep gratitude and love, Jennifer

    Like

  83. I haven’t read your blog for all that long, so I don’t know how you treated the subject of your stroke when it first happened. But what would really interest me is how that process or relearning things that the stroke destroyed works on an emotional level and also how easy patience came to you as something of an intellectual high-flyer.
    I for one completely agree with you on your refusal of assigning any greater sense or purpose to severe illness. I’m not even completely sure why I feel that way, but I find it distinctly tasteless to assume “it has a greater reason”. Because I can pinpoint my feelings on that topic exactly I would be really interesting in reading your thoughts on that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. You are an inspiration for all of us. I thank you on all levels for sharing your journey with us. You have turned lemons into lemonade! Your gifts and talents are many and your adventures are the best. I fully enjoy your adventures in the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands with Tom and Bruce too. Thank you for all. I only wish you to continue on your current path…

    Like

  85. You are such a inspiration! and I am often wondering how you survived and have gone through this mentally. Also Tom’s view would be very interesting.

    Like

  86. If you are considering autobiography, have you read Diana Athill’s memoirs? If not, I heartily recommend. I saw her interviewed at the Hay festival some years ago and she was absolutely wonderful, still emanating a powerful zest for life. I think she was 90 then. She read aloud from Somewhere Towards The End (Costa Biography Award 2008), a brief section where she describes going sailing with her brother not long before he died aged 85; it was extraordinary.

    Liked by 1 person

  87. Hi Kate.
    I love reading articles on Mighty. Some do seem to be a touch depressing, but others are enlightening and help make me feel like people understand what it is like to have a body which has betrayed you and your original dreams. Part of living with disabilities is seeing who you can be even with that in your life. You have helped inspire me and continue to.

    Like

  88. Milestones are always a good time for reflecting on the road one has travelled… it has not been an easy one for you, but you have certainly made it your own, and shown great resilience and strength along the way. Thank you for putting so much of that journey into such articulate words for the rest of us, and I wish you much luck for this next chapter in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  89. Kate, you have been generous the way you have shared your life’s journey through your blog. I have followed you since knitting my Owls sweater in 2009. It is inspiring to read about reality of changing your path and the physical challenges you’ve experienced since the stroke. The image that stands out to me is of you on the three-wheeled cycle with a joyful expression on your face as your dress is flowing gracefully, and you are wearing a great sweater. I can imagine how free and happy you must have felt in that moment!

    The life you have now was not in your original plan, and you have managed to create a new and beautiful life. You will find the words to share the challenges and victories of your life by just being your strong, beautiful self. Thank you for inspiring me. Give my regards to Tom and Bruce!

    ❤️Deborah

    Like

  90. I suspect you would rather recoil from being called an ‘inspiration’ but nevertheless I feel compelled to tell you that the way you have lived your life since your stroke has been a huge encouragement. I’ve been working for years to come back from some difficult stuff and you’re one of the people who keep me pressing on! Plus you make me laugh, especially when you are Bruce. x

    Like

  91. Congratulations on your continued good health and sharing your experiences is so important to others. Lovely shawl in your top photo.

    Like

  92. As someone of decidedly not Christian faith, I look at what happened to you rather differently. Your family history (their choices over time – thousands of years), your genetics, and your choices, all led up to that point in time. It was fated, but not for the reasons anyone might think. It’s not something you had control over, or you reasonably could have changed. It may have happened sooner, or later, had you made different choices. But it happened, and you made choices afterward that made a huge difference in thousands of lives. Including your own, your family’s, and Bruce’s.

    I personally am glad you have made the choices you have, at least since your stroke. I enjoy your blog, I love your patterns and plan to buy more, and I love the fact that you share Tom’s photography with us. It may not have been a good thing, but much good has come of it. So thanks for making the choice to become the person you are now, with the career and work you now have.

    Liked by 4 people

  93. Dear Kate
    Mazel Tov on celebrating your 7th Anniversary! Bravo!
    John Hockenberry’s books are ones I recommend. He’s an NPR journalist. Your blog and books and patterns are such a gift to us.
    All the best to you & Tom & Bruce
    From me & my 2 kitties Donovan & Johnny

    Like

  94. Dear Kate, I have been a knitter for a long time, and I first knit your Owl Sweater in 2009, so I have been aware of you as a knitter since before your stroke. My real connection to your blog, and to you, came as you began to write about your experiences post-stroke. I have a PhD in Linguistics, and started out my career as an academic. My husband, also a linguist, is a specialist in aphasia. He has established research centres in multidisciplinary approaches to cognition and neurodynamics in a number of countries over his career. For the past ten years, he has been the Director of a research neuroscience centre in a UK university, which does functional MR, and EEG, and which specializes in aphasia as well as autism, depression, vision, pain, mathematical modelling of cognitive processes, etc. Until last year, when I embarked again on a teaching career, I managed this Centre for him. In this role, I had contact with many people who had experienced stroke, with their carers, and most particularly, with the researchers and PhD students who worked in these areas. From your very first post regarding your stroke, I was struck by your ability to explain, very lucidly and precisely, the experiences you had. I found your writing to be remarkable; you were able to write very rationally and analytically, but also extremely personally and emotionally, about every stage of the process. In my job, I spoke with many people who had had strokes, and with the people who dealt with them, friends and family, but also members of the medical, nursing and research communities, but your writing was special – it opened a window into stroke and recovery, as well as resilience and creativity.
    One day, a particular post captured my attention so strongly, I found myself reading it to my husband. He inquired about you and I went back and read to him all of your posts on the subject. We found, in these posts, not only so much to admire about your strength and your character, but also much practical information that we found enlightening. At some point, I had a PhD student who was working on a study with stroke patients in very early stage post-stroke. She was having troubles dealing emotionally with this, and also, because her patients had rather severe problems with aphasia, she found that they were unable to express directly to her what they were feeling. I directed her to your blog as well and she found it extremely helpful. Her abilities to deal with stroke patients and their families, with understanding and increased empathy, clearly benefited from your words. Another research project involved working with an engineer, a designer, and a clinical language specialist to develop tools that could be used by stroke patients to reinforce language lessons. I shared some of your observations with the engineer and designer as well. My experience is that you are in a unique position; certainly you are not the only one to have experienced stroke, not even the only eloquent narrator to have recorded such an experience, but the combination of skilled writer, analytic and academic background, incredible honesty, and resilience, is really a very special gift to the rest of us. I think that if you were to write a book of your experiences and journey, it would be a fantastic resource to many thousands who deal with illness and recovery.
    I guess part of what I am saying is that I don’t feel you need to explore what others have said or written, or ask for advice on what to write; you are clearly already on the right track for this book.
    In a final comment, I recently went back to school, gained an Exec MBA, and now teach personal development in a business school. One of the things I am interested in is the journey that women take in their careers, especially with regard to careers interrupted, and forging new paths. I think that your experience with starting up your design and yarn business is extremely powerful in and of itself (without reference to your stroke and recovery).
    I wish you the best of luck in writing this book. I know it will be an incredibly powerful piece of writing and will inspire many people. -Kelly (kellydawn on Ravelry)

    Liked by 11 people

  95. Kate your life and your designs are so inspiring to so many of us. You really can’t know how you have touched us. Keep being you, keep exploring, keep us all in your hip pocket ☺
    Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  96. I have been following your blog with delight for somewhat less than seven years…ever since I was a very new knitter. It’s helpful to remember (particularly nowadays) that good and creative things can come from severe misfortune, if we are brave and lucky enough to persevere. I’ll have to think about autobiographies, but one book I have to suggest are Anne Fadiman’s “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” which could be classified as ‘medical journalism,’ I suppose. I’ve also been coming back to Tamar Adler’s ‘The Everlasting Feast,’ which was itself inspired by MFK Fisher–I can’t decide if it’s unbearably twee or an essential manifesto for makers. As always, I look forward to your next creative venture!

    Like

  97. ‘No Place For a Woman’ – Marie Christine Ridgway because I love NW Scotland – and loved your Buchaillie so much that I bought another copy for a friend for her birthday – she is absolutely delighted with the patterns, recipes and photos – a wonderful mix.

    Like

  98. So happy for you, for the life that you’ve made, and for sharing it with us. I can honestly say that I have a richer appreciation of things like historical women’s work, which I was too apt to romanticize before, from reading your blog. And your patterns have given me many pleasurable hours of knitting!
    I don’t read much memoir, because the contemporary version of it is often too unbearably ego-centric for me. Can an autobiography lack egocentrism? Absolutely. Yes, it’s about you, but you are a part of life, which is greater than yourself. Right now I’m reading the first book in Madeleine L’Engle’s memoir quartet, A Circle of Quiet, which is a non-chronological, cyclical, thematic read that gives me great pleasure in being there with her. The other two memoirs that I continue to think about from time to time are actually both about illness: Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, and The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathway. Refuge links Williams’ mother’s breast cancer to atomic testing in Utah, and the story of her (ultimately losing) battle with cancer is set against the flooding of the Great Salt Lake which devastated a neighboring bird refuge. It’s incredibly powerful and simple at the same time. The Little Locksmith is about the author’s (ultimately successful) struggle to overcome the limitations imposed in her by others because of spinal tuberculosis, which has twisted her body and prevented her from growing larger than a child. Her greatest success (she feels it to be so) is to make a home for herself in Maine, and the loving way she describes what she’s created is very moving.
    I look forward to reading whatever your book ends up becoming! Best of luck, and enjoy it!

    Liked by 3 people

  99. Would read anything you write, Kate! Two outstanding autobiographical-and-so-much-more pieces of real literature: the already mentioned H is for Hawk, and Jean McNeil’s Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir, which I can’t recommend highly enough- worth a look for structure alone, for what a memoir can be and how deep it can go.

    Liked by 1 person

  100. I am currently reading “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. Her prose is very good and I really appreciate the general style of this memoir. It has nothing to do with major illness. It has lots to do with inventing a life. I would strongly recommend it as a consideration for general style of a memoir.

    Liked by 2 people

  101. I have been trolling your blog for seven years, I found you right after the stroke, remember the big black dog, and have loved every since, from what I see here. Be blessed with another 700 years.

    Like

  102. I so appreciate your unwillingness to indulge in the notion that “everything has a reason”—a phrase that gets bandied about all too often, by the religious and nonreligious alike. I too would suggest Gloria Steinem’s newer memoir My Life on the Road as well as Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and echo Anna Elliott’s insightful comments on autobiography above.

    Liked by 1 person

  103. Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie” – nothing at all about illness or recovery, but a travel and life journal, a man and his dog. Your accounts of travel around Scotland and the Isles are fascinating, you go so much further in research and explanation than most, I think a sort of diary book of thoughts and places would be good to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. I’m a huge fan of the historical and travel aspects of your writing – as well as the knitting. I love reading about the history of places that inspire you, and I enjoy this type of non-fiction writing immensely. Reading about the experience of others inspires me to visit places, to read more…………and to knit more. I agree that things are not meant to happen, I refuse to belief that life is laid out like this for us, my belief is life is random (sadly) things happen good and bad and we have to meet this and deal with it, however we can. I’m sure whatever subject you tackle next in your writing will be amazing and inspirational and look forward to reading.

    Like

  105. As you are a champion for women and their home skillsale, you could create a book on Scottish coastal villages and their different knitting styles
    Or just different knitting styles throughout the celtic world, so it would include Arans from Ireland
    Or the different knitting knitted between the clans?
    If you didn’t want a knitting book then write about the different Islands and their essence.

    Liked by 1 person

  106. I remember when I used to read Needled… :) i admired your knitting and enjoyed your opinions on tea and yarn and needles and textile history on your blog back then.
    I felt very moved when you started to write about your stroke and reflected on it. I especially liked the honesty of your down days. You were not trying to be upbeat. You were just being honest on how depressing the reality of it can be some days… And then moved on and got on with building your new life. I admire that strength and determination in you :)
    after reading you mentionning briefly and mysteriously last summer – after the women’s hour – on a new kind of book project with a good publisher and a mysterious meeting in London with the stroke foundation I immediately thought that you might be writing a book about your stroke soon. I think it would be brilliant as it would bring hope and strength to a lot of people who are facing one of these “interruption in their life’s narrative” and feel down and hopeless.
    To answer your question, I think that a book that brings together the idea of life crisis and reconnection with nature would be very interesting… A bit like H is for hawk, but in your own style… A book about reconnecting with yourself and your destiny through spending time in nature and making things as a way to discover yourself and your destiny… :)

    Liked by 5 people

  107. I´m so thankful to read posts from you and be able to met you in the knitting world. It is always a great happiness to see the patterns from you and the books and to read about your life in a beautiful place together with bruse and your Husband. I have one book mybe it is interesting for you, it is called: The sound of a wild Snail eating.
    It is from
    http://www.elisabethtovabailey.net/
    The book is made with special paper and the cover is great. I´m a very (I hope I find the right english word) emotional person who likes special paper and grafics and scripts. It is a book about her life and a very bad disease so I can`t say, it is a great book, I enjoyed reading…But it has a very special touch to me. Maybe you like to read it too and get some inspiration of it.

    Liked by 3 people

  108. I would love to hear more about the ways you have brought the skills and delight you obv found in your ‘old’ research academic life to this new one. I can see it from the outside as seamless but I am sure it was not. The ways in which the stress, committees and general bullying which hounds people and mostly women in academia and in other professional roles is not often talked about and certainly not the consequences. What is, is that old displacement site of femininity and maternity and what should woman do about them.
    Many go into teaching and researching to model progress, see and publish alternative views. This is now increasingly harder and I am not sure if I would advise academia as a career now.
    I now look back and see my happiest times as a Phd student were finishing two complicated colour work jumpers and advising middle class Oxford how to fairisle – a skill they valued well above anything else.
    I would like to hear those links and see them as a continuation of the work you and Tom have accomplished with the books, the yearn and the foregrounding of the context and the people behind /alongside the patterns.

    Liked by 1 person

  109. I’m so happy that your are so much better off than 7 years ago and was very inspired by former posts of yours with regard to the stroke. Especially those describing, how you felt being in hospital with no time to prepare yourself for that and so I would find it very interesting to read how you managed to stay strong, where you got your strength and inspiration from and how you did the transition from your former life to the one of today. From your perspective but from Tom’s too, as a serious illness always impacts the loved ones as well.
    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to your new book and wish you “happy” writing as far as one call it so with that topic.

    Like

  110. Life is adventitious.

    I love that.

    You have such a great writing style, I look forward to reading your philosophical discussion. Onya, Kate. You really are an inspiration to me. x

    Liked by 1 person

  111. I always enjoy your posts about places you’ve visited, and wonder if the love of place which inspired ‘Lives in Oo’ and ‘Inspired by Islay’ might grow into travel writing focused on Scotland – I’m coming to Edinburgh Yarn Festival and would love to read a book all about Edinburgh written by you, for example! Something like Jan Morris’s ‘Oxford’, combining people and place. Or further afield – a book pulling together your travels to Iceland and Sweden and your experiences and reflections on the knitting of those areas – you could also visit Estonia and Norway for that one.

    Like

  112. I didn’t really “know” you prior to your stroke. I was asked by a knitting friend to knit a square for you which I did with pleasure. I am so happy that you have recovered so well and that you took what happened to you to make a better life for yourself. I know a young man who suffered a massive stroke when he was 18 who remains paralyzed on his left side, takes medication to prevent seizures but he completed University, walks unassisted, works full time, things he was never expected to be able to do. And does it all in good humor. He is my hero.

    Like

  113. I’m not a big reader of autobiographical writing, but those I have enjoyed (such as Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road and Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl) have had the overriding sense of the author’s voice- a real person speaking, openly and with passion. This is not unlike your writing already, so I’m sure you’ll be on the right track! I also tend to find autobiographical writing much more readable when it isn’t strictly chronological, but more organised around themes- the significance of a particular domestic object or tradition perhaps. I really liked the snippets of autobiography that appeared as pre-ambles to the stories in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Christmas Days’ for example. Lastly, congratulations (if that’s the right word) on your seven years of fighting back. It puts me in mind of Maya Angelou:
    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.

    Like

  114. I am so looking forward to your new book. Off the top of my head, I can think of Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Janice Galloway’s autobiographies, and Kathleen Raine’s 3 autobiographies. They all address issues which are primarily not physical but which they have overcome. They also write well. They have all inspired me. I love your writing. Good luck!

    Like

    1. You might find Brain On Fire, My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan interesting. It is certainly compelling reading, whether or not it helps you in your search for direction with your next book…

      Like

  115. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot is an impressive piece of writing. She manages to convey a sense of place and being in the present that transports the reader. Her reflections on her addiction avoid sentiment or judgement, making them seem very real somehow.

    Good luck with the new project.

    Like

  116. bonjour Kate, je viens de lire ce qu’il vous ai arrivé, moi aussi j’en ai eu un en décembre 2015 et je vous comprends!!, je vous souhaite un très bon rétablissement et beaucoup de courage et de reprendre vos activités, je vous embrasse, marie

    Like

  117. And not actually about CVA but Margaret Forster writes wonderfully about life , surviving illness and changing perceptions in Have the Men Had Enough? (dementia) and Is There Anything You Want?

    Liked by 1 person

  118. I’m glad life is good for you post your stroke. Once you’ve had a stroke it’s always there in the background of your life but you learn to live with it being there. My husband had a major stroke when he was 30 and spent over 6 months in hospital, lost his licence for 2 years. We are at 24 years now and we just accept what he can/can’t do and live our lives accordingly making the most of our time together and making great memories with laughter along the way. i consider us fortunate, he is still here and we are together. Enjoy each day and write what ever flows out first ……. take care and I love reading your blog, knitting your patterns and admiring your husbands amazing photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  119. In terms of autobiographical writing Marion Coutts book about the death of her husband Tom Lubbock ‘The Iceberg’ is a really valuable read about life being torn apart by an unexpected diagnosis.

    Like

  120. Yours is a story of survival, not one of ‘it was meant to be’ but one you have created and driven by yourself. They are often the harder but more rewarding stories than one of f’ollowing what life gives you’ without stepping out and making your own way – Your story is one of ‘breaking out of what was thrown at you and making it a much better one’.

    Like

  121. I, for one, am so glad that you were able to seize your opportunities with both white-knuckled hands and made such a good life out of what could have been a complete disaster. And now you can share your talent and your life with us all.

    Like

leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s