A book like our recent West Highland Way project involves many different kinds of work for me: when producing a collection I spend time coming up with the design ideas, swatching, knitting, re-knitting, pattern writing, working with Mel (who tests the pattern and produces many samples), working with tech editors (who check my patterns and whip them into shape), styling and modelling a finished piece, then putting my own editorial hat on during the layout stage.


(Oran do Chaora was the first design that I produced for the collection)

While I’m designing, I’m also thinking about the background of my design ideas, and this process allows me to develop the contextual material which later gets included in the book itself. For this project, I’d planned twelve designs, each inspired by a place or person associated with the West Highland Way.

(Oran do Chaora – Song to a Ewe – was inspired by the work of Donnchadh Bàn)

Researching those places and people in some depth means I get to find out about things of which I might initially know very little (for example, the history of aluminium processing at Kinlochleven or how the 1927 nobel prize for physics began life at the summit of Ben Nevis).


(The Observatory – inspired by the work of the Ben Nevis metereologists)

Over the past year, these research activities have made my experience of my local landscape much richer, as well as occasioning much enjoyment and hilarity (such as the morning Tom and I spent tracking down a particular statue of Rob Roy in Stirling). The project of course involved pursuing ideas through images, as well as in words and design, and Tom might say much more himself about how the process of photographing the West Highland Way has deeply enriched his understanding of it. But from my own perspective, I certainly now know much more than I did about the geology of our West Highland landscape; about the long history of the islands and crannogs of Loch Lomond, about the particular realisation of the eighteenth-century British imperial project in the Scottish Highlands; about Romantic tourism, Victorian engineering, the Scottish outdoor movement, the wonderful songs of Donnchadh Bàn.


(long-armed Rob Roy)

The twelve essays in the book are together around the length of a novella, and I absolutely loved producing them. I also felt a particular kind of ease in the writing that I think partly came from the familiarity of the activity (I’d spent the immediately preceding period happily producing around 1500 words a day for Handywoman) and partly from the fact that I was putting my feelings about and knowledge of my local landscape into words. These essays have several dimensions (aesthetic, personal, political) and I honestly feel proud of writing a book about the West Highland Way that lends my local landscape the social and cultural dimension that I feel some books about walking often lack.


(one of my favourite essays in the book is about ways of seeing Rannoch Moor)

Design, knitting, photography, research, writing, editing, production: there’s an awful lot involved in making a book. People often ask me what I love most about the process, or which part I find most difficult. I can honestly say that I genuinely love all of the work I do (with the occasional exception of modelling, which sometimes involves cold or other kinds of discomfort)


(my hands are in my pockets for a reason)

That said, bimbling about the landscape while wrapped up toasty warm can also be rather pleasant.


(The cosy Electric Village photo shoot)

And the gargantuan efforts involved in styling can also bring their own rewards.


(Remember this?)

I love what I do, and I also feel incredibly thankful that I get to do it: how many former literary historians with weird creative streaks can say they spend their days researching and writing about what takes their fancy, and at the same time making things that mean they actually get to go about wearing their ideas?


(Myrtle)

It often still seems nuts to me that this is my actual job.

(Altnafeadh)

So yes, I love my work, and in answer to the “what’s the worst bit about it” question, I would always say “finishing a project.” And by this I don’t mean that I have a problem with bringing a project to a conclusion – because drawing that line is one thing I seem to be quite good at. Rather, I’m referring to what happens to me when a project finishes.

I hate finishing a project because I always fall to pieces a wee bit. This has happened to me for a long time, and at least since my mid ’20s, when I finished my PhD (anyone who has been there will, I suspect, be familiar with the crazy downer that follows the completion of a doctorate). But I’d say these post-project effects are much worse now, after my stroke, since I’m always having to manage my work alongside limited energy levels and other associated health issues. And as I’ve got better, I’ve also become a little worse at these activities of health management – for me the sheer creative joy of making something — of pulling a wonderful project like West Highland Way together — means I’m not always paying enough attention to the basic requirements of my brain and body.

Over the past few months, for reasons that are not entirely clear, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, and, from being an occasional annoyance, my migraines have become recurrent and really debilitating. And the past few weeks have involved the kind of sheer physical exhaustion I can’t remember feeling since the months that immediately followed my stroke. I have crashed really very badly this time and need to take some time to understand what is going on with my body and my brain, as well as to just get well again.

Our wonderful West Highland Way book is at the printer. Handywoman is approaching publication. These are both really big projects, and I’m immensely proud of them, as well as the work that went into making them. I suppose its obvious (from the outside) that anyone would feel exhausted upon finishing this work, yet why do I never allow myself space to experience that possibility? These periods of intense productivity are always followed by crashes of equal intensity and part of me also knows that such creative peaks and troughs are also constituent of my (annoying) personality. Perhaps, over the past few years, I’ve found I love my work a little too much? Perhaps I just don’t know how to stop or what to do with myself when I do? I wouldn’t say that what I’m experiencing is burnout (though much of Lisa’s post rings true to me) but I do know that somehow I have to find a better balance — one in which my own intense creative impulses and workaholic tendencies don’t result in situations of such severe physical and mental debilitation. I’m going to take the next few weeks to try and do that.

(Don’t worry – I’m ok – but it is useful for me to get these things out in the open from time to time)

118 thoughts on “when the work is done

  1. Thank you Kate for that nice post. As new to the world of professional writing and publishing, I could not follow much of your work and still I plan to look for your work. However, I am really with the opinion you have to take care of your health. InshaAllah (God willing) it will be only a time you will pass with healthier with better focus on yourself. Looking forward to reading your work.

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  2. I join those commenters above in wishing you a good rest. You have a long list of recent accomplishments – no wonder you need a rest!
    I hope spring flowers come soon – they could bring a boost of well-being.
    Your devoted following can wait for you when you are ready.
    best regards

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  3. I am a firm believer in the restorative power of taking to one’s bed. You coudl also try M. F. K. Fisher’s “monastic reviving supper” – freshly-sheeted bed, wine, cheese, good crusty bread. (The sheets might need to be changed the next morning!)

    Take care, get well, and allow yourself the time & space to recuperate. You and your work will be the stronger for it.

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    1. Thank you so much for this! Beautiful writing…I copied this (but other phrases enchanted me as well): “…the poet, knowing words to be meagre in comparison with ideas, has strewn about his page to evoke, when collected, a state of mind which neither words can express nor the reason explain.” It reminds me of the beautiful first present my husband-to-be gave me — a hardbound purple (!) copy of V.W.’s A Room of One’s Own. Also, at present I am not ill, but my 16 yo son is very sick and headed to the hospital today. The doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him yet, and I’m very worried, especially because he already has a chronic mental illness and doesn’t need a chronic gastrointestinal one as well. My dad is also in the hospital, though likely is leaving today and I don’t think it’s serious.

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  4. I have a similar crash after teaching (which, of course, includes the months of prep, including–for me–researching and writing the “handouts” and getting them printed). And I, too, have been neglecting to build in recovery time lately. I think we need to *schedule* it, as part of a project’s timeline–! Join me? We probably both need reminders {wry grin}.

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  5. Handywoman as well, and Milarrochy Tweed) would take it out of anyone, let alone someone with an existing health condition. You are a marvel of inspiration, energy and hard work and you must recharge the batteries that let you achieve all that.
    As a former academic, but also someone who has toes in very different professional worlds (Pilates teaching, among others), I have been struck for some time by the inattentiveness to physical wellbeing and bodily needs that seems to be normal in academic culture. (You of course have had far more time, and cause, to reflect on that and I am really looking https://khudothimanorcentralpark.com/

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  6. Wow, I had no idea you had a stroke. So glad you are on the other side of it. Thanks so much for sharing this. This past year was extremely stressful for me on so many different levels and I totally get the physical exhaustion part of it. I’m assuming you’ve checked in with your regular doctor. You might also want to see a nutritionist. Whenever I get a migraine, it tends to mean I need something changed in my diet (usually more green veggies). Cheers!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos of you beautiful creations! When I’m not writing, I love to crochet and do embroidery work. Somehow, the actions of my hands clear up my mind to write! Hope you are feeling better and able to resolve health issues.

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  8. Do look after yourself, Kate. The WHW project has been one of your best, I think – the ease and pleasure you found in writing the essays come across strongly, making it a real joy to read (I subscribed very late, binge-read all the essays at once, then enthused about them to my husband for a solid half-hour). A spurt of creativity and production that intense (with Handywoman as well, and Milarrochy Tweed) would take it out of anyone, let alone someone with an existing health condition. You are a marvel of inspiration, energy and hard work and you must recharge the batteries that let you achieve all that.
    As a former academic, but also someone who has toes in very different professional worlds (Pilates teaching, among others), I have been struck for some time by the inattentiveness to physical wellbeing and bodily needs that seems to be normal in academic culture. (You of course have had far more time, and cause, to reflect on that and I am really looking forward to reading your thoughts when Handywoman comes out). It is a long slow process, coming out of that culture and learning not only to be attentive to one’s body, but to be able to say publicly that that is one’s reason for doing (or not doing) certain things. As an earlier commenter said, it takes a lot of character to be able to admit to fragility. Writing about your own decision to prioritise your health is yet another way in which you are an inspiration and an example to others; thank you.

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  9. Finding your words and woolly creations along with Tom’s glorious photography and being able to hold some of them in my hands has brought me great joy. I knit and embroider to save my brain from overload and my body from collapse as I live with a debilitating gut problem. I work full time in a profession that can become all consuming if I don’ t anchor myself in the wool, felt and silk threads. I recognise another creative firework when I see one. Find your refuelling place and stay there until you have recovered enough to set fire to the next project. I think part of the post project collapse is a kind of mourning that it is over and every kind of mourning requires time to travel through it. Lots of people have written already about taking time and I’ve heard those words too, the problem is that when you,live through creativity, not creating feels like not living. Reading your books has helped me, is there someone else’s writing you would enjoy reading? Norman MacCaig’s poetry has saved my sanity during periods of enforced rest and I recommend it to you.
    Thank you for all the delight your work brings and, like everyone else, I will wait patiently and enjoy everything you and your team have put out there already. With love, Ax

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  10. Ah this rings so true. I find myself borrowing from my physical reserves to bolster waning mental energy, or leaching emotional energy in places that really don’t deserve and then being very confused when I fail to replenish myself simply by sleeping well for a night and eating a couple of really good meals. It’s mental illness rather than physical/neurological disability that robs a lot of my energy, but nonetheless the energy is limited and has to come from somewhere! I appreciate you getting it out in the open, it’s comforting to know how many people (looking through the comments, so many!) deal with the same kind of creative mania/fatigue cycle because we ignore one system in favour of another.

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  11. Thankyou for sharing. As a magazine editor and someone who likes to take on big challenges wether they be in print, up mountains or knitting, I can empathise with what it like to finish. When reflecting about the process and the accompanied sadness or tiredness at the end, I often wonder if this is pre-empted by our own expectation that society expects us to feel a huge relief and surge of excitement a the end of a massive project when the reality is that we are physically and emotionally exhausted from the marathon. As much as we love doing what we do we are pushing ourselves to do the best we can and what we neglect to notice is how much energy emotional and physical is being exerted in the process. That being the case and seeing things realistically we should expect to feel totally wrung out because no one gets to the end of a marathon and just stops, sits down, sips their tea and says well that was rather lovely wasn’t it then promptly do it all over again. No they all collapse in a heap and spend time repairing the damage they have done to themselves. If what you’ve experienced is a marathon of sorts, and it certainly sounds like it, perhaps the next step is recovery; be it reflecting, unwinding, revitalising and nurturing yourself back to health. Go gently and be kind to one’s self. xx

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  12. I’m sure you know how best to take care of yourself. I hope that you will rest, read a good book, dig in the dirt, take a walk and then nap. You have done so much in the last two years, it’s a wonder that you aren’t even more exhausted!

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  13. Sorry to hear about your migraines, Kate. As a fellow chronic, debilatating “migrainer” I know what a toll that can take. Thanks for all your beautiful and hard work. Now it’s time to enjoy resting with as much gusto as you enjoy your work.

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  14. Sudden unexplained weight loss? Have you been tested for diabetes, which can be stress-related and can manifest itself in this way. This happened to my younger sister.
    Take care.

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  15. Dear Kate,

    Thanks for all the beautiful projects and your writings! Please take good care and enjoy a well deserved rest. Thanks again

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  16. I love the deep connection you have to your landscape and its history, which shows in your writing. As someone who has moved a great deal over her lifetime, that kind of connection does not necessarily exist for me. Also, as someone who works on multiple disciplines – writing, art, and then all my other interests – I really like the merging of your gorgeous knitting patterns with your fluid prose and keen eye for detail.

    And while I’m no doctor (not one of my disciplines), my partner suffers from migraines and has found taking a magnesium (bisglycinate, not citrate) has helped.

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  17. Thank you for sharing, as always. I hope you get a nice, long rest to feel better and get your health in order. Thanks for all your hard work, which we get to enjoy. The club has been a pleasure and I’m really looking forward to the publication of Handywoman. Take good care!

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  18. Ah Kate, for all the wonderful designs you have created, for all the inspiring words you have written, for all the talented beings you have assembled on your KDD team, I thank you. Your work has enriched my life and motivated my own creativity and desire for learning immeasurably, and for that I am so very grateful. In return, I am hoping for your healing, rest, and recuperation in a nice, unhurried fashion as your joy and well being return. Others have said it and so will I — don’t worry about the rest of us — we will be happily occupied reading patterns, contemplating colors, casting on, knitting like the wind, and comparing notes on Ravelry. I hope you will cuddle up in The Shieling and doze before the fire! XOXO, Liz B in Port Townsend.

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  19. As a teacher, I’m familiar with this cycle as I go through it at the end of every schoolyear… letting go after running on so much energy can let you feeling pretty empty. So do take as much time as you need to feel better again and recharge those batteries. All my best.

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  20. Dear Kate. Thank you for the beauty and knowledge you (and Tom) put in this world.
    Do take your break, have the healing time you need. We will wait for you.
    Love.

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  21. Take good care and get well again! I know these cycles and I find with age they tend to get worse. I have had to set a limit to work and keep to it strictly, scheduling relaxation as well. You have given us so many projects to knit we are well stocked with them, so have a pause.

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  22. Kate! While I love your writing and your designs (and Tom’s photos OF COURSE) I don’t love them so much that I want you running yourself into the ground to deliver them! You need to listen to your body, set a pace that satisfies your need to design and write while at the same time nurtures rather than depletes your body. Only you can sort that out. We will still be here when you do.

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  23. The crash and burn after a big creative ( or athletic, intellectual ) is so painfully real. Sinking your teeth emotionally and physically into a project ( note plural in your instance) is just what we do. But the price can be a steep one. You *will *recover and rest and recharge and start anew when you are ready. Talking to friends, reading these many words of support and time ( good music too!)… will all help. I often think I should try moderation but that’s not really me. So I’ll take moderation in moderation:) There’s no pressure from this group to produce. We are all trying to finish more Carbeth’s!

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  24. That truly awful feeling when you have defended your thesis and they have smiled nicely and congratulated you and you feel as if you should go out and celebrate but all you want to do is curl up in a tight ball and cry? And it comes back to haunt you every time you finish a major project? Been there, done that, still doing it. I suspect it is the price for creativity. Bruce, take your human out for some walks!

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  25. Your work (and output) is incredible and so inspirational – I can just about get one sweater knitted in the time it takes you to produce a book (currently finishing Asta Sollilja)! Do put your body first, send us the odd word, and we will all be out here happily working on the products of your brain whilst cheering for you.

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  26. You have given birth to the most amazing body of work; filled with science and history and art. And just like after any long and hard labour, you need to rest, restore and ooh and aah over your wonderful creation. Take time in your recuperation knowing that you have given this world a large part of yourself. Your woolly groupies can wait :) Thank you Kate, Tom and Bruce for all your work. Bruce, of course, did the lions share!

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  27. Good heavens, YES – you do need a rest!! Its amazing what you have accomplished, really in a fairly short period of time. Now its time to be good to yourself, go to a spa, get a massage, eat chocolate dipped strawberries, eat cake!! Be well and we will hear from you after you are refreshed and renewed. Thanks for all you do . . .

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  28. So very glad you will be taking time to take care of yourself. We do that far too little I think – for a myriad of reasons having to do with personality, culture (puritanical guilt, as an example in my culture), you name it. You have created so much. I’m going to need a year to catch up on the many beautiful things you have designed that I want to knit:)! Cannot imagine the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that must follow a year like the one you’ve just had, never mind with the physical challenges your body presents to you. Take care of yourself. We like having you around:)XXOO
    Joan G

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  29. Your creativity and work is so awe-inspiring! I enjoy your work so much ~ take care of yourself for a time now. You deserve a break! A vacation perhaps. Thank you so much, Kate!

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  30. One of the most important things in our life is our health therefore you need to make sure you look after yourself and get plenty of rest no matter how long it takes. Take care and enjoy your well deserved rest. xo

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  31. Kate – You have been my absolute heroine since I discovered your blog and learned to knit just so I could make the Betty Mouat Cowl six years ago – As I sit here in Scotland (my home of four years) knitting Coinneach (which is my second garment, my first was Miss Rachel) I marvel at what you have achieved in that time and how you have unknowingly changed my life and many others, and I’m very pleased to hear that you are doing all you can to take care of yourself now, it is clearly time x x

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  32. ‘You will work through’ and of course it may take longer than you anticipate! I too have thoroughly enjoyed all the walks and the history you and Tom have taken us on, you too Bruce, and the inspirations you have given us. As a nurse I do understand the body demanding it’s due. You and yours are in my thoughts, take your time and thank you again for all you have given us!

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  33. Thank you, Kate, for enhancing my Wednesdays and Fridays with your patterns and essays during this past Winter. As well, thank you for inspiring visits to Scotland. Our first was in 2014 following Colours of Shetland. I returned home with yarn and inspiration. We are planning a trip in May 2018 to Islay, following Inspired by Islay. I am sure to return home with more yarn and creativity. The West Highland Way Club is inserting other points of interest as well to our trip. The Tourism Industry in Scotland might consider giving you an award for drawing visitors. I am looking forward to Handywoman being available because I know I will love reading your writing.
    You have earned “downtime”. Please enjoy it and know that, when you are truly ready to make your next creations available, your fans will be ready to join in the fun once again.

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  34. In my best English, Kate, thank you for taking me on this trip for 12 weeks and the additional Carbeth. Hope you will quickly find your balance both working and caring for your health. I hope you will be able to take us on a new trip in the near future. Take care, best wishes, Daisy

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  35. Thank you for all your hard work and beautiful garments. Take care and be well. Looking forward to hearing that you enjoying yourself and that you feel rejuvenated..

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  36. Oh bless you. After all your hard work it’s not surprising your body is asking for a rest! Please take care of yourself and allow yourself time to heal both mentally and physically. Much love, Susie xxx

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  37. I adore your work and always read your articles with great interest. I’m a non knitter😢 but i do crochet. Do you think you might design a crocheted garment??

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  38. Dear Kate, many many thanks to you and your team for having shared with us such a wonderful knitting and travel adventure. I have enjoyed it from the beginning: the creation of your lovely “Milarrochy Tweed” yarn, your gorgeous patterns reflecting the colours of the magnificent Highland landscapes or inspired by ancient celtic motifs, your fascinating articles illustrated all along the trail by Tom … no wonder you feel exhausted after giving so much of yourself ! You need a holiday! It’s not easy for me to write in English so I will conclude my message on Kathy’s lovely words : ” As you rest & enjoy your family over the following months, just think of all of us knitting your lovely designs & thinking of you & willing you a speedy recovery. Wishing for you a warm summer in your garden, for Tom much success with Ootlier, and for Bruce many Balls & Gloves & Sticks! ” Je ne pourrais dire mieux. Mille fois merci Kate, Mel, Tom, Bruce…

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  39. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Rest and recharge your batteries. You have done so much the past year. You are really dear.

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  40. You have taken such good care of us through this beautiful project; now you need to take that some good care of yourself. Thank you. Rest, rejuvenate, relax, bask in the feelings of a job (labor of love) well done.
    We have lots of knitting to keep us occupied while you can bask in our love and joy over these projects and essays.
    Peace and Blessings.

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  41. Good lord. You’ve just brought back an ancient memory of falling to pieces (limp sobbing pieces) after defending my undergraduate thesis. I didn’t at all understand what was going on. You’ve just explained it. Wow. [blink blink]

    Thank you.

    Here’s sending you rest and peace. Please take the time you need to recharge your batteries (and to figure out what’s going on with you physically).

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  42. Dear Kate,

    I have known you as a designer for many years now. But, as a human being, I feel like we have just met (I’m a little slow on the uptake some times, and just realized you have a blog and subscribed to it). But, human you are. And perhaps, I, like so many of your other faithful readers, love you all the more because you are . . . human. One can only push to the limit for so long before the body needs, demands a break. Please take care of yourself – ok, yes, you know and announced to us that you intend to do just that! I should probably more appropriately say, ‘I give honor and respect to you for your courage to admit to God and everybody else that you have reached a time when ‘putting your own mask on before assisting others’ has become a priority.’ I do believe we can all learn from this. That we, as women, give so much for so long sometimes, that we need to rest to be replenished. Thank you for the gifts of your creativity – they buoy my energy and mood with every stitch. Thank you for sharing about your beautiful West Highland Way – it has been an inspiration to me and my family as we prepare to take the walk next year. And, truthfully, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to take care of yourself. I cannot give you the gift of rest that these efforts deserve, but am grateful that you can give that to yourself.

    In light and love,

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  43. Dear Kate, I once had a discussion with a friend of mine who is in nursing. We were speaking about trauma to the body and it’s resulting impact. Mary feels that in most cases something will be lost that will not come back in the same way again. That is no news to you. I have followed your blog for years now. I love your designs, but it is your determination that truly inspires me. I think of all you have accomplished and try to apply greater discipline to my own creativity. Wishing you the best during this time of recovery.

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  44. I have so loved every pattern and every post in and around the West Highland Way. Thank you so very much for having the strength, energy and enthusiasm to see the project through. I can’t wait for the physical book. Please take care of your health, feel every feeling you are meant to feel and avoided until now. I await the next project.

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  45. You have been riding a whirlwind of work over the past years, Kate, so it’s no wonder that you feel a bit dizzy & disoriented when you finally get off. As you rest & enjoy your family over the following months, just think of all of us knitting your lovely designs & thinking of you & willing you a speedy recovery. Wishing for you a warm summer in your garden, for Tom much success with Ootlier, and for Bruce many Balls & Gloves & Sticks!

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  46. You know what to do, and why it’s happening, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!

    On a very much smaller scale, the day I returned home from mailing my first sweater sample to a magazine, I sat down on my front porch and couldn’t stand up. I asked my husband what was wrong with me, and he said, “You just finished a big project and you are crashing. I’ll take the kids for a walk and make lunch, you stay there or take a nap.” I’m not sure why he knew it would happen and I didn’t, but I’m so glad he did.

    Hang in there.

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  47. Rest, be well and thank you for your work, thoughtfulness, and words. Thanks to Tom for the lovely photos, and thanks to Bruce for all the smiles. Bless you all.

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  48. I fall apart after a final performance, so I know that feeling. You’re hanging by your arms, holding on to two bars. To MOVE, you have to let go of the back one and SWING forward. We are not static, not frozen in time or place. We move THROUGH, adding and shedding parts to our lives. WE MOVE THROUGH. Not a straight path; not a consistent speed. But, WE MOVE THROUGH. I love seeing and feeling your journey. I’m learning to love mine.

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  49. Our bodies are amazing things and do try to tell us when to slow down and rest. Something that we often ignore and then pay a price for!
    You have been amazing creative for the last year by the sound of things – you forgot to mention banging out a few versions of Carbeth as well – and now it is time to rest.
    But be healthy and look for balance. The Earth finds balance in lying fallow through the Winter – you need to rest, regenerate and find your next inspiration!
    I have loved sharing this journey with you through the essays and patterns and look forward to the next!

    Be well.
    Thank-you!
    Lynette

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  50. Kate, thank you for all your hard work, for allowing us to follow you along the West Highland Way, and most especially for giving us the opportunity to create through your creativity. Please rest and take care of yourself.

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  51. Your honesty and openness always leave me in awe. Having had Fibromyalgia (or ME) for 30 years I have had to manage my energy much more finely. Can’t imagine how you have done what you’ve done over these last few years anyway. You are much too hard on yourself. One project at a time would be fine. Plus of course you added speaking back in to your schedule.
    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF Yes I’m shouting Look back at ALL your achievements over the last few years and wallow in those for a while. Blessings and good health.

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  52. As always, you are a true inspiration and such a remarkable woman. You have shown us so many levels of beauty that are so much part of you. Please take take of yourself first and foremost. Rest is a crucial part of rejuvenation.

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  53. I think you are in the company of many geniuses; so many in the realm of art, science, academics and religion suffered with periods of super-productivity and then lapses of near complete exhaustion. Embrace it, it is what drives your creativity!

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  54. Dear Kate, I am hoping that you find something as wonderful and exciting in these days of rest and rejuvenation! Take care of yourself… you are important!

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  55. I was thinking this morning before I read this post how much I will miss hearing from you with WHW club updates. I was feeling a bit let down, too. I also found myself feeling concerned about your health, marveling again at how you began your new “job” on coming back from your stroke. Your patterns, your writing, and your new yarn lines — so unique to you and lovely. Please rest. Somewhere I read, “we are not ‘human doings’, we are ‘human beings’ — the art of simply being is as important as that creative muse you answer to….

    Peace and Happy Easter, Spring!

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    1. I was going to post something similar but Bobbie’s post says it all very eloquently.
      Thank you for a very enjoyable 12 weeks.
      Nathalie

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  56. Take some time to do what you feel is needed. I’d say “sitting still” but what matters is your answer.

    All the best!

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  57. Dear Kate,
    Be kind to yourself and take good care. Wrap yourself in the love and care of family and friends. Take all the time you need. Look for the joy in everyday and delight in it when you find it. Sending you positive thoughts and warm wishes.
    Karen

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  58. Be well, rest and recharge. I am so glad I discovered you and your work — it is a joy to read and to look at. Creativity is both energizing and exhausting. I hope some well-deserved downtime gets you back to where you want to be.

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  59. Beautiful, as always. I love that first cardigan. It’s so delicate and (as they used to say, a century ago), beats.

    You cannot lose weight. You barely weigh a stone, as it is.

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  60. You might find learning self-hypnosis as a useful way to deal with the pain of migraines. I used to have them, and came up with an amateur way of dealing with the pain: I visualized it as a bead curtain and I focused on keeping the strands from bumping together, and fell asleep in the process. Then I woke up! And started again. But self-hypnosis can be a useful tool once learned (no, I’ve never learned it formally, but I once edited a collection of essays about it and it seemed helpful)

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  61. Take care of yourself Kate, it’s all about balance and so easy to get caught up in the busyness. I know because I suffer from chronic Shingles (going on 30yrs now) and am only now learning when to stop and let my body recharge. Dealing with the busyness of teenagers has added a challenge but I am learning to listen and not have the big highs and lows anymore. Steady, steady as my dad would say. One day at a time xx

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  62. Kate, thank you so very much for making this winter so much fun. Three months of weekly new patterns, essays and photographs of some of the most beautiful knitting patterns I have ever seen. With a few extra gorgeous patterns thrown in. Gave me so much to dream about, ponder, and knit. My favorite continues to be the stunning Strathendrick. I love knitting it. Have a wonderful rest and reinvigoration! Much love to you, Tom, and Bruce

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  63. Now is the time to take care of yourself. You inspire so many people and especially others like yourself who suffer debilitating illness and variable energy levels. Completely understand the lows that follow the end of a big project.
    We are all thinking of you, just look at the responses…

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  64. Event hough I don’t actually do the knitting I love reading your blogs and love Tom’s wonderful photography. As previous comments have said Kate take care of yourself so we can all enjoy your wonderful work for years to come.

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  65. Having completed a PhD decades ago, and having run a few half marathons, I am familiar with the emotional and physical dip after finishing a mentally or physically taxing project. At the moment I’m working as a field ecologist, and last year was my first full experience of a ‘bat season’, which lasts from May through to the end of September, and requires dawn and dusk surveys throughout, with day time work as well. It’s heads-down, full pelt, running to keep still, and I love it, but it isn’t until you stop and look up that you realise you’ve worked yourself in to physical and mental ‘negative equity’.

    In terms of one’s energy, if you’re doing something you love, living on adrenaline helping you through, it can be very easy to keep going to the point that you are drawing your body’s resources down into the red. Come up out of that is difficult, takes time and patience. And yes, a learning from that for the next time, to maybe be a bit more aware of how much you are running on empty. Not easy though.

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  66. This last collection is my favourite. Your designs are absolutely gorgeous and I want to knit them all. It’s not surprising to hear that you are burned out, as the high quality of what you have produced requires a lot of work. Take care of yourself.

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  67. I won’t pretend I am not grateful for the work you do, your books are stunning in every way. But please, please take very good care of yourself.

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    1. Hi Kate
      The work is done and well done ! I enjoyed it and I will miss your wednesday posts !
      take care of yourself.
      Evelyne

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  68. Dear Kate, sounds like you need to slow down a bit. Do look after yourself. I am still knitting The Oa. It’s going to take me a while to get around to a WHW project, meanwhile I’m going to enjoy deciding which one. I was wondering only the other day how fast you must be able to knit to get all of these lovely projects completed. Thank you for all your hard work, it is lovely to see each blog post and new pattern. Take it easy xx

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  69. Thank you Kate for this wonderful club. I have
    enjoyed it immensely. Please take the time you need to
    heal. We’ve got a lot of knitting to do and I know I shall
    think of you whilst I knit on my lovely projects. This has
    been a lovely reminder of home for me as I come from
    Loch Lomond and my parents still live there. I visit them
    often and love the landscape so much. Take care and recuperate well.

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  70. I hope you give yourself the care you need to recover. I used to get horrible migraines on Saturday morning until I realized it was post-stress letdown. I’d push to finish something by the end of the week and then wake up miserable. Carefully monitoring my caffeine levels, blood sugar and how hard I pushed helped immensely. I hope you find solutions that work for you.

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  71. Dear Kate. Please don’t beat yourself up because you feel a letdown and are experiencing some health issues after all the work you’ve put into your projects. I think it’s perfectly normal to have a crash as I’ve seen it with myself and co-workers after intense months of work against a hard deadline. You put your heart and soul into your work, so take some time to heal yourself and consider it as part of the creative process. Your work is lovely and it’s so enjoyable to read your essays.

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  72. Thank you for such a wonderful experience Kate. It has been really thrilling to receive those eagerly-awaited emails which signaled another serving of heaven from Scotland and another fabulous design to go straight onto my knitting bucket-list. I have been talking about taking the very short trip across the Irish Sea to visit the highlands for so long and this project of yours has given me the push I needed. My husband is going through very similar problems to your own at present and we’re both exhausted. He’s 50 this year so I’m bringing him on a trip to the highlands as a treat. I’ll have plenty of inspiration from you (I’ll sound like a tour guide thanks to all your writings!) and I will be well wrapped up to boot. Few people bring as much integrity and depth to their work as you do, and that must be very draining. It also takes a lot of character to be able to admit to fragility at times. I salute you for that. As a doctor I spend a large proportion of my time trying to convince people of the harm they do to themselves by not being honest about the delicate nature of the human condition. We can achieve great things, but we also need time to replenish. We are deciduous, not evergreen! Again , thank you for being yourself and for sharing your work and your feelings. Maith thú!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is wisdom, and beautifully-expressed wisdom at that (‘the delicate nature of the human condition’ – ‘deciduous, not evergreen’). Thank you!

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  73. Thank you for this splendid West Highland Way adventure! I hope you and Bruce and Tom take a lot of long, unhurried walks through your beautiful countryside as part of your resting and recovery. I have a lot of knitting to do thanks to you! I look forward to reading the book when it arrives and revisiting all of your essays. The aluminum essay was particularly interesting to me as my part of New York state has been home to two aluminum smelters for 60 years. They are now winding down activity given the global market for their products. I had no idea that Scotland had produced aluminum too. The moor essay was my favorite also.

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  74. Look after yourself. Your exploration of your current health situation was very clear. Thanks for being so open – it helps me understand people closer to home too. All good wishes!

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  75. Thank you, thank you, Kate. Your designs are beautiful, timeless and technically perfect. Rest, wander your favourite and ancient landscapes, and daydream. The creative process is energizing but also draining. I will have spent the last two weeks walking along the Strand on the Isle of Man and staring out at the constant changing weather in Northern Ireland. In a couple of days I will be on a plane headed back to the US and my kitchen, rested, and full of ideas. Take care.

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  76. Your designs are a joy in my life. The recovery path for head/brain injuries is full of twists and turns…so tricky for a creative spirit…the distraction of ideas….so much to do but please do remember to breathe, in every sense.
    Holding you in the light
    Maryxx

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  77. I am worried about much the same balance, of work and health and wellbeing, as I embark upon my own small business venture. I think these peaks and troughs are somewhat inevitable for anyone whose work cycle is more episodic than constant, and as you say, now you have less slack in your system to tolerate the troughs as well as you used to. I hope you’re able to tweak your way back to a sustainable balance. Your joy in your work is so apparent 💜

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  78. Serial migraines are horribly debilitating. I know whereof I speak. I hear what you’re saying about finishing a huge project – it’s almost as if one’s body realises this and immediately clamours for all the attention it’s been denied during the process of creation. I crash at the end of every book, which is such a drag because if ever there was a time to celebrate, it’s when a book goes off to the printer. Take it easy, rest up and hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy spring when it finally arrives.

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  79. Thank you so much for the West Highland Way project Kate!
    I have enjoyed it so much, the essays, the beautiful Milarrochy Tweed and the amazing patterns……I’m excitedly waiting for my Birkin to arrive so I can begin my Còinneach and tackle those scary steeks!!! It even got me walking again albeit locally and not in picturesque Scotland but I was determined to complete the 96 miles of the WHW during the club (I did 103)! :)
    In the meantime however, you take good care of yourself lovely lady!! xx

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  80. Dear Kate, many thanx for showing so many samples of your creativity in knitting and writing about the West Highland Way. I enjoyed every minute of it and looked forward to all your emails.
    It was a wonderfull experience!
    Wish you all the best, listen good to your body and hope you will take your time to enjoy a wee bit doing less and enjoying it!
    Love from Holland
    Marjan
    Love from Holland

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  81. Kate, you work so hard and create beautiful designs. But please look after yourself too. I hope you can now relax and have a good rest. Take care of yourself. Sue

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  82. Good post. I have watched open-mouthed over the years at the amount of work (in the nicest possible sense) you get through, and the past year has been particularly productive. It often makes me wonder on the resources you are drawing on. Your post gives the answer. It’s obvious from the outside that you have been drawing very very deep, though of course it may not feel that way to you because the work is so interesting and inspiring, and accompanied by so many friends. It’s not a bad rhythm so long, as you imply, as it remains manageable. I wish you the very best for your recuperative period, and much look forward to the moment when both the WHW book and Handywoman are available. Meanwhile, if all else fails, the Quakers have a good phrase: ‘Stand still in the Light.’ Doesn’t really seem to matter what sort of light, or whether there is much real (outdoors) light or not – standing still in it, for indefinite periods, when exhausted and not sure where to turn still seems to work as a place to go.

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  83. I too have loved the journey along the West Highland Way particularly the historical references to the area. Thanks so much and I hope you can have some quality time now to pay attention to your recovery. Looking forward to receiving the book and if it’s possible would you be able to sign it for me please? Best wishes

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  84. I am currently knitting the Snood as inspired by reading your blog and am laughing out loud as I cannot remember how to cast on! Last time I knitted was in Primary 7, a pair of fair isle mittens..the knitting teacher always had a queue..
    Finding creativity again is a joyous occasion. I find the balance between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ is present when I give myself the gift of resting on my yoga mat. Restorative yoga, Judith Hanson Lasiter is one person to research while you are resting from work.

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  85. Thank you so much Kate, your regular patterns and blogs with wonderful photos have been small bright lights for me at a very difficult point in my life. I’m looking forward to receiving your book, it will probably stay beside my bed so that I can gaze upon the photographs and spend ages deciding which knitting project I’ll begin when ‘this time has passed’ x

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  86. It is amazing how much you achieve, and as you said, looking in from the outside, to me it seems pretty well inevitable that you become exhausted! Maybe only one major project at a time 🙂

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  87. Thank you Kate for sharing this project. I
    have really enjoyed being part of the WHW
    group and designing two hats for the
    competition. It got me through the winter and
    flu recovery. I am now making a myrtle sweater.
    Thanks again

    Like

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