On Thursday it will be eight years since my stroke. I am doing pretty well now, and think that I am doing well because I have learnt that dealing with a stroke is at least as much about managing limitation as it is about recovery. I know that I need an unusual amount of sleep to maintain my energy levels, that I don’t function well in the evenings, and that socialising in noisy environments is something that my post-stroke brain is probably never likely to enjoy. I walk outside every day, I pay more than ordinary attention to my physical and mental health. I know that I can successfully manage my own limits by restricting the number and range of tiring / difficult things I do. All of this is no bad thing. In my limited life I am quite focused, less frustrated, pretty productive, and generally rather happy. But I know in some ways this makes me unusual as a professional: I don’t attend many events in any capacity, I very rarely talk about the things I design and make in person, I meet friends and colleagues in the industry very infrequently.

I also work very hard. Last year I didn’t take any sort of holiday, and lately I’ve had a yen to travel. Perhaps it is a good sign that I also feel well enough to consider this possibility. I’d particularly like to return to the US (somewhere I’ve not been since the months immediately prior to my stroke) and there are other places I’d really like to visit: Denmark, Norway, Germany, Finland. In recent years I’ve received many lovely invitations to attend various knitterly / crafty / textile events all over the world. Each time I’ve had to say no, because each time I know that my priority has to be to manage my post-stroke limitations. But this year I feel that my priority should be to expand my horizons, and possibly to test my limits. I’d like to see more of the knitting and yarn-y world, and perhaps more of the world more generally.

So, if you know of, or are hosting an event or retreat which you think I’d be interested in attending, why not drop me a line? I will have a new book Handywoman out this Spring about which I’d like to spread the word (in what I hope is an entertaining way!) I can also give lectures about my work in Shetland, about textile history, women’s history, my own design practice and inspirations. I’m not able to teach classes or workshops, but if you’d like to have me speak at your event, why not write to me at:

kate@katedaviesdesigns.com

I’m really looking forward to seeing some new places, and to meeting some of you there!

74 thoughts on “branching out

  1. Hi Kate

    My health issues are in no way in the same league as your own but I have a deep appreciation of where you are coming from.

    It has taken me four long years to get to the point I am, but I was told at Christmas that my 80% recovery was going to be as good as it gets. I’ve had to rethink a lot of things. Finding the boundaries of what I can and can’t do has been a struggle and can be very difficult to explain to others. Often the smallest thing can be a challenge which others would take for granted. I’ve learnt I need to mange my condition, work with it, but also to be gentle on myself.

    I am back at work but only 4 days a week which I am super proud of, at one point I was told I possibly wouldn’t be able to work again. I have to pace myself but have also become super efficient at managing my time both in and outside of work as I know how easily I can tire. I’ve certainly rethought my priorities.

    However, what I really wanted to say to you, if you want to travel and feel ready then absolutely go for it!!! It was one of those things I thought I would not be able to do again. It took a lot of courage to step on a plane for the first time after all this happened but I am so glad I did. The first place I went was Machu Picchu, I’d always wanted to go there but kept putting it off as I always thought there would be time to do it later. I can’t describe the emotion I felt when I saw it for the first time after everything that had happened, lets just say it involved a lot of tears.

    The only advice I would give is pace yourself. Where as in the past we would go somewhere and try and cram as much as we could do into 1 – 2 weeks, now we try and find one or two centres and travel out from there so it is less tiring. We also try and build a lot of contingency in, so if I have an off day then I don’t feel like I am missing anything if I need to rest up. I particularly try and leave a couple of days as rest days at the beginning and end of the trip to get over the travelling.

    Travelling is definitely do able, but again it is about working within your limits. I have to say though, I am liking our new style of travelling. By taking it slowly and concentrating on one or two place we have seen so much that we would have missed in the past by rushing through and have gained a much deeper understanding and connection with the places and people we have met.

    I wish you many happy and safe travels in the future xx

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  2. Kate we love you here in Toronto! In fact last week I saw a stunning Sheep Heid on the streetcar and had to talk to its owner/knitter ;o) It was the first one I had ever seen in the wild.
    I travel to the UK quite a bit to visit family and friends and actually would suggest a trip without the added issue of jet lag for your first foray into travel. It pains me to say that as I would love to see you in person, but it would enable you to use your energy more productively.
    With love and appreciation for all that you do, SarahP

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    1. Oh please come to North America, Kate!
      Tortonto and Vancouver are so lovely.

      So is San Francisco, Denver (Fancy Tiger Crafts) and NY (Purl Soho is obvious.). Oh better—how about the big
      NY state wool show in Rensslaerville (sp) in the
      fall maybe?

      Wherever you choose in the world, please let us, your adoring fans, know far enough in advance to book decent airline tickets. We promise to resist mobbing you.

      So glad you are feeling up for an adventure!

      JenV in Wash DC.

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      1. SaraP makes a good point. Sorry in
        my zeal, I got a little selfish on the
        travel requests. If you stay in your time zome, please would you still let us know far in
        advance? A trip to hear you would be a worthy big 50bday gift to me from me :)!
        Jen

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  3. Hi, Kate,
    I have been following your blog since the beginning (I think!) and have knitted some of your designs. You inspired me to visit Shetland last year, which I loved.
    If you and your entourage need a place to stay near Nashville, please allow me to host you.
    Regards, Bonniecand

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  4. Just another Seattle-ite clamoring for you to visit us here in the PNW! Tolt and Churchmouse are both great, and we’ve had a real boom in knitting events locally, with the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, Knit Fit and Vogue Knitting Live all happening here. Portland, OR is also a few hours away with it’s own great fiber scene. The weather and scenery here are somewhat similar to the West Highland Way, a home away from home. Keep us informed!

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  5. Hi Kate, I own a yarn shop in mid-Michigan, and have long followed your blog, although I have mostly lurked due to my time constraints. I know that I would love to host you for a day or two or more if you decide to do a North American tour. My shop is 4 hours from Chicago, and 5 hours from Toronto, and a talk by you would be most welcome. Michigan is beautiful, and I would love to show it to you!

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  6. Dear Kate – what bravery, what candour! If you do even a tenth of the suggested itineraries you will be a wonder. And I can hear bed-makers all over the world getting ready to put you and your entourage up, so no worries there either. The Antipodes, America and Canada are all places I visit every now and then, and I entirely agree – the wool shops and the knitting groups are inspirational.
    I also suffer from a debilitating condition, which limits my energy and makes big events too challenging. My advice, for what it is worth, would be to do one big thing and one book signing and maybe one or two knitting group sessions and come home and see how you feel.
    I say this because I also find the huge enthusiasm and love extended when I travel rather overwhelming and judging from the responses to this post – it is all out there for you too.
    This is quite simply one of my favorite blogs, the other is A little blog of books https://alittleblogofbooks.com/ which I strongly recommend to knitters and readers alike.
    Thank you, Kate

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  7. It would be a long flight but do consider Australia and NZ. We have lots of yarn-y things to do and see :) I have not had a stroke but have recently had an unruptured cerebral aneurysm coiled and stented and am just so tired and struggling.

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  8. You may not remember me, I sent you pictures of my daughter and son-in-law wearing sweaters I knitted (that you designed) at their wedding in October, 2016. You immediately sent a lovely response, which was greatly appreciated. Please, please let me know if you will be doing any kind of event as I would love to attend. Any chance you might be willing to have visitors? I am attending the Shetland Wool Week and would consider it a highlight to meet you.

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  9. Kate,

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! My younger brother had a massive brain stem stroke last spring. He (with tremendous support and strength from his amazing wife) has worked his tail off and made a pretty amazing recovery. It has been encouraging to me to read your posts sharing about your journey as I’ve watched him struggle and progress. He still has a long way to go, but I am encouraged and confident in his future. I’m am very much looking forward to reading your new book.

    I love your designs, your words, and Tom’s amazing photos. Thank you for sharing all of this with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Kate
    it is so good to hear and see that you are doing so well. I am looking forward to reading your book. I am also in on the “Fanø strikkefestival” in Denmark. It would really be something if you visited Denmark.

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  11. Hi Kate:
    The San Francisco Bay Area is a beautiful place to visit and we have several lovely, small knitting events in the summer and fall. And some great yarn shops.

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  12. I think – for the US – the Pacific Northwest would be a great, knitterly, destination. For events – a smaller, more quiet one would be the workshops at Squam. Google it. It seems like your cup of tea!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. One more sales pitch for Chicago..: StitchesMidwest and Yarn Crawl in August, the Art Institute, Millennium Park and the Bean, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (doing some advanced rehab with stroke and paralysis recovery), walking by Lake Michigan. And our kindness and polite respect for others.

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  14. I’m in Colorado now and we have some wonderful yarn shops but I lived in Seattle for many years before here. I would go back to the PNW to meet you in person or here in Colorado.

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  15. You are a strong woman with a huge talent. To recover and then turn your focus to a new workdestination, that is strength! To know your own limits and to make the right decisions accordingly is great. Maybe the work that you now do was not your first choice but I still hope that it gives you the same satisfaction.

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  16. I am so thrilled to read this post, Kate! If I were a lot younger, I would turn a few cartwheels in celebration of your reaching this stage! So glad you are considering a jaunt to the US. I’ll add my vote for the Pacific Northwest (PNW)! I am in Port Townsend and we have a nice community of knitters here, led by the two lovely yarn stores. If you come anywhere in the PNW, I would be there to listen to your words of wisdom. I definitely second Jane Moxey’s words. She lives about 50 miles south of me, as the crow flies, in Gig Harbor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Kate, I very much look forward to reading your book when it comes out! I will add to the contingent of folks encouraging you to visit the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. I live near Port Townsend and have a small farm that includes Shetland sheep. I also know other near by Shetland sheep breeders and knitters who would be very excited to hear you speak. I would be happy to host you here at my farm and/or visit you nearby if you end up at a yarn shop. Jennie Watkins Ananda Hills Farm Port Ludlow Washington USA

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    2. Port Townsend and the Pacific Northwest are beautiful. Port Angeles is not too far where you can catch the Coho Ferry across to Victoria, British Columbia.

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  17. Good for you for knowing your limits. I live in the Pacific Northwest too (35 minutes worth of Seattle) and can say how beautiful it is. What an amazing knitting community there is around these parts. It’s so close to British Columbia in Canada so you would be able to build a nice “tour” of these parts if you could manage more than one location. The ferry rides in the local waters are a fabulous and most relaxing way to travel. Lots of wonderful and interesting book shops in these parts, too. I’m sure the invitations will come flooding in and you will be spoiled for choice. Make sure you have your contract ready with all the needs you’ll require to be met in order to have things be organized and smooth (and fun and doable) to suit you.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Now Kate we still have a LOT of sheep here in Downunder and, just over the pond, in New Zealand they have more sheep than people. (They also have a lot of possums which add to the interest of the yarn they produce.) Now I am sure that a nice, relaxing sea voyage and then a leisurely tour through the Antipodes would be good for you. Just think of all the woolly wonders you could meet!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I bet you 4 skeins of Buchaille (that’s what I’ll need to complete a future Carbeth) that you get over 100 invites. Congratulations on just plain feeling ready, physically and mentally, to travel afar. Wherever you choose, they will be a fortunate bunch of people. This post moved me. The honestly and transparency and hopefulness of good days ahead after your stroke. Colorado would be a wonderful place to visit-count that towards your 100 invites:)

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Maybe you should get in touch with Christel Seyfarth. She’s the ‘primus motor’ of the Fanø Strikkefestival, and I know that she has been collaborating with the lovely people at the Loch Ness Knit Fest. Fanø is quite unique – I’ve been there twice, and wouldn’t mind a third visit. Esp. since I was late in getting a ticket for your talks at the EYF. http://www.strikkefestival.dk/en/

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I am so interested in the story of your recovery. I am disabled by migraine headaches 2 to 3 days a week. I have to watch that I don’t book anything in the future because I don’t know if I can do that thing on that day. Your courage and perseverance in a situation far worse than mine gives me the affirmation to go on. Thank you.

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  22. Kate,
    It is early in the year & you are budding out in all directions like my witch hazel & Daphne plants! So many possibilities have been presented to you! You’ll have a lot of pruning work to do to head out to your destination!
    I suspect that the little package I sent you last October when I was vacationing in London never reached you. I sent you Andrea Hungerford’s By Hand Lookbook No. 4: Puget Sound. It has stories on Tolt Yarn & Wool and Churchmouse Yarns & Tea, which I had heartily endorsed. I also recommended Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood Tea Cozy Yarn Shop http://teacozyyarn.com/ They are great fans of yours & are never without copies of your books. In fact, it was from them that I learned about you ~2 1/2 yrs ago. They are also near to the new location of the Nordic Heritage Museum, which is under construction & due to open in May. They have had knitting weekend events there in the past (here is the link to the one for 2017: https://nordicmuseum.org/knitting/125136 ).They have had knitting-related exhibits in the past, such as on Norway’s Oleana.

    We have a wonderful monthly gathering here in north Seattle called the Young Adult Stroke Survivors. http://seattleyass.weebly.com/ They meet the 3rd Saturday of each month. They started out ~30 yrs ago, I believe. As they aged they didn’t want to get booted out of their wonderful group because they were older, but they loved their name, so kept it & include people of all ages, including those that are survivors of traumatic brain injuries. You can scroll through minutes of their meetings to get information on the wide variety of presenters. I am certain that they would be ecstatic to host you as a presenter. As per my correspondence in October, my husband & I would be very happy to host you & Tom (& Mel & your parents too, if you travel as an entourage).

    About 3-4 hrs south of Seattle by vehicle, is Canby, Oregon, where there is an annual wool/yarn festival http://flockandfiberfestival.com/. No doubt that they’d love to have you as a speaker. It has been several years since I attended & it wasn’t too overcrowded then but things may have changed. I have not had an opportunity to visit, but a yarn store in nearby Silverton, Oregon, gets big raves from my mother-in-law.
    https://applestooranges.net/

    I wish you much joy in planning your travel adventures & hope we are able to rendezvous, wherever you may land!

    Liked by 3 people

  23. I live in Bentonville, AR which is a small town but we
    have a wonderful knit shop one town over in Rogers. W
    We have Crystal Bridges which is an art museum that
    is on par with some of the great museums in the world.
    All in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Look for an invitation from Mockingbird Moon. We would love to have you.

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    1. I could have signed your Bio as my own.
      Thank you for your candor.
      I have not had a stroke but, I have an Eye issue.
      I need to be very careful about over extending.
      I need creativity and productivity.
      I live on the Central Cast of California.
      I am thankful full everyday
      I too need to be outdoors in nature everyday.
      I constantly need to adjust my priorities.
      I watch that I don’t get drawn into situations that drain my energy.
      I loved hearing your story and I Wish You Well!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Balance is so hard ~ I know how very hard it is to manage limitations. Gets me in trouble all the time. Yet you’ll never know… so go for it! How exciting for you! I just hope one day our paths cross :-) I’d love to meet you and listen ~

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  25. Dear Kate,
    Branching out indeed ! You are planting new trees! You have have enabled yourself and grown so much. I admire your determination and strength in choosing the path you want to take and the pace at which to take it. Pick a place that makes your heart sing and is easy to get to. Toronto is a direct flight from many places in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. (I must disclose that the five hour drive from my home works for me.) Wherever you go there will be many happy to greet you. Happy exploring.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Sending positive vibes your way for safe journeys in the yarny world this year! May you cross the paths of many like minded knitties and grow in spirit! <3

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  27. This is so brave, so exciting, such good news. My suggestion My suggestion is to get a credit card or other authorization authorization that would allow
    you to use the airport lounges of your
    selected airline. Recently I got a resounding
    No to this request to rest in a lounge despite
    a doctor’s note certifying need. Their “rules”
    would do it; the lounge would make a big
    difference in the quality of your travel.

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  28. Kate, I urge you to consider visiting the Seattle area, not only for the gorgeous landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, but especially to visit the most wonderful of yarn shops, Tolt Yarn and Wool, in Carnation, Washington. In June, July and August they host Camp Tolt, an evening of knitting by a campfire, or you can stay longer and camp overnight. Sounds like the perfect short duration event for you. Thanks for your beautiful designs and wonderful blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi Kate,

    So happy to hear you are feeling like traveling and participating in some events. I’d suggest Churchmouse Yarns and Tea, located on Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a small island community about a 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle, Washington, and very well-known and respected. In the spring, they host an Island Retreat (here’s the link for information about this year’s program: https://www.churchmouseyarns.com/collections/classes/products/knitting-with-company-an-island-retreat). They’ve already booked and scheduled for this spring, but you may think about it for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would drive 4 hours in any direction from Seattle to hear you speak, and possibly meet you you are an inspiration in so many ways!

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  30. Wonderful that you are feeling able to travel and see things in the world. I know it is difficult after a major event such as yours. I wish you good luck in your endeavors, and the best of events to see. I’d love to hear you, so if you get to the American Midwest, put me on the list to attend!

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  31. How wonderful is that!! Onward and Upward!! You have the balance you need and you figured it out yourself which is the most important thing :)

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  32. I add to the invitation to come to Toronto/Ontario. We have a vibrant fiber community that would welcome you. Ontario has has it all: world class big city and beautiful lake studded rural countryside within easy reach. Come see us!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Would you be interested in the Chicago area? I work at a wonderful yarn shop next to a great independent bookstore – both women-owned businesses with strong communities. We are currently doing a Shetland month and have many Knitters who are fans of you and your work. And Chicago is a great city of art, architecture, and history.

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  34. Kate, although I will be attending EYF I missed out on getting a ticket to one of your readings. However, if you do return to the US I will definitely find a way to hear one of your talks. We have a few very good and active yarn shops here in Virginia that I’m sure would love to invite you to speak.
    So glad you are interested in traveling again. My son is disabled and travel is difficult for him. Learning how to live with limitations and deciding when to try to stretch beyond them is a daily challenge.
    Looking forward to seeing you and reading your book.
    Love, Janice

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  35. Kate -did you know there is a short one hour doc about a young woman’s post-stroke experience and her consequent interest in brain research on Channel 4 this week? It’s called ‘Can You Rebuild My Brain?’ And is on Tues eve at 10pm. I’ve seen it already and thought it was fascinating, especially in how she feels her life has changed after the stroke. I can understand it might be tough to watch if you’ve been through similar experience and there are some images of brain surgery that will not appeal to all but I thought I would point it out in case you’re interested.

    I hope your travel plans develop into something exciting. I know you will nothing but inspiration out there!

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  36. Great news Kate, another step forward in your recovery. Good luck for your knitterly travels, look forward to hearing all about your adventures in your blog.

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  37. I know it’s hardly international travel Kate, but please consider coming to Loch Ness Knit Fest in October. We feel so lucky to have this here, as most shows, festivals etc never venture further north than Edinburgh or Glasgow. I’m sure you would be more than welcome.

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  38. The Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto is a highly attended (and fun) knitting event every year. Canadian and American yarn producers and designers show off their wares on one day at the end of April. I expect the organizers would be over the moon if you were to say you were interested.
    As someone who has recovered (recovering) from PTSD, I understand the crowd and noise factor and the Frolic does get crowded and noisy with happy people. It is held in the Japanese Cultural Centre of Toronto though, so it has several display rooms and one is much smaller and quieter than others. There is also a break room for display people. You could also set the hours that you are at the table, leaving someone else there while you take a break.
    If you want some real inspiration, walk across the road to the Aga Khan Museum. Its stunning beauty will probably have you on the road to a new book of design. Toronto in the early spring can be inspiring.
    There is the added bonus of good trade relations between Canada and the UK.
    Good for you, Kate, for trying this out. Just hold on to what you need to do to stay healthy because people will try to talk you out of it, one minute at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They schedule workshops over two days. If you want to sell your book, you could get a table for that. I don’t see any reason why a workshop time couldn’t be a lecture time from you. I would certainly sign up. We also have the Textile Museum of Toronto downtown that brings in guest artists to talk on specialized subjects. It is situated close to the College of Art and Design so it would be well attended too. With knitting, spinning and weaving guilds, we are a very active and vibrant arts city.

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  39. I attended Loch Ness KnitFest last year – much closer to home I know, but it was good fun. They have close links with the Fanø Strikkefestival in Denmark, and there were a lot of Danish knitters visiting Inverness. It made some of the Scottish knitters rather tempted to visit Denmark.

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  40. Can I suggest a trip to Australia? Bendigo has a yearly Wool and Sheep Show, which is probably the premier event in Australia. Each year has a featured sheep breed, and sheep dog trials. All is accessible to people with disabilities, we breed extra fine merino down here, and identifying people’s knots is a fun activity! I have seen many of your deigns ‘in the wild’. And the food is great.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I’m sure you will get lots of exciting International invitations this year Kate, not least because I think your forthcoming book, Handywoman, will spark a lot of interest. I’ll be attending one of your Edinburgh Yarnfest readings; I’m wondering about where you place yourself on the disability ‘spectrum’ when you’re away from home, because it is clear that there is still so much to do to enable people with limited abilities to just what you are looking forward to – travelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. I was in Aarhus last year. Beautiful calm city on the sea. There are at least 8 yarn shops in the city! All with a slightly different range. I know you will be familiar with some Danish brands but others were a delightful discovery for me. There is a festival in mid June which I aim to get to. Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  43. As always, I enjoy reading about your stroke recovery journey. Your experience is similar to my own post stroke observations. I am thirteen years out and am grateful everyday for being here. I look forward to reading your book and your travels.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Hi Kate,

    I would love to attend one of your events. You have so much to give to the knitting community. I fully understand your reluctance to embark on travel if it affects your health, it’s a fine line to keep the balance between demand and what you are ready to undertake.

    Liked by 1 person

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