Counting my blessings

I realised today that it has been about one year since My Boy, Bilko, came into my life. Bilko is the first dog I have had as an adult, having had rescue cats all my life. I had just moved into a ridiculously rural area, was working from home, and the time was right to give a loving home to a dog. I originally went to the Little Valley rehoming centre to see another dog, Murray, who had been with them for about four months. Murray was a German Shepherd cross (but no one knew what with) who was very wary and just couldn’t connect with anyone who came to view him. As my friends will tell you, I have a real soft spot for sob stories and the underdog, so Murray intrigued me. I met him and he was painfully shy. Now, I’m no animal psychologist, but it made sense that I made myself as unthreatening as possible so when I met him in the field, I first walked and talked with the trainer, paying him no attention at all. When he seemed a little more comfortable with my presence, I crouched and offered him a treat (given to me by the trainer) behind my back so there was no eye contact. I gradually brought my arm round to the front with several more treats, until he was facing me and absolutely ok with me. He was such a lovely boy!

I went home and did some research on the breed, having not had a dog before, and it broke my heart to realise that my home (and I) would not be the right match for Murray, for several reasons. I didn’t know what he was crossed with, GSD’s need a lot of exercise and around deadline time I was usually superglued to my mac for several days in a row. They also shed a lot, which (on a purely selfish level) would mean a lot of work to keep it away from my yarn. Working on commissions with dog-fluff flying around is not ideal! Also, anyone who visited me who had a dog allergy would suffer. So, it was with great reluctance that I went back to the rehoming centre to explain my reasons for being unable to offer a home to Murray. They understood, but it didn’t ease my conscience any. On the way out, I saw a rather scruffy looking Tibetan Terrier, who took one look at me and started barking like mad. It was definitely not love at first sight! I enquired about the TT, and was advised that he had been a house dog for an elderly gentleman, he hadn’t been socialised and was a problem dog who needed a quiet household, no other dogs nearby and someone with lots of time to be with him. I knew a bit about the breed, as a friend has several TT’s so I know that they are demanding, intelligent, don’t like to be left alone, bond closely with their ‘owners’ and wasn’t looking at it through rose tinted glasses. I also knew that, due to their double coats, they tend not to moult like other dogs, which is great for allergy sufferers (and for my yarn!).

Bilko and I went for a walk, with a trainer, in the field. He had clearly bonded with the trainer, and viewed me as a stranger. Although I held the lead, he was more eager to walk with her than with me. There was no magical ‘connection’ at our first meeting, in fact I left wondering if we were right for each other.

All that changed when I got him home a couple of weeks later and it quickly became apparent that we were a perfect match! I can still remember how uncertain he seemed of everything, but I let him take things at his own pace. I talked to him all the time (and still do!), let him investigate and find his feet. He quickly became my little shadow. In the year we’ve been together, he has changed beyond recognition. He is a confident, assured boy, who takes commands well (sit, stay, up, down, wait, gently, rest, high five!) and is my best friend. He is no longer a ‘problem dog’ (unless you count his predilection for Hungry Hector biscuits as a problem), has canine (plus the occasional feline) friends and is the funniest dog I have ever met. He snorts like a little piglet when he wants something, shakes with excitement when he’s happy, hides my slippers, loves to play ‘Biscuit!’ and regularly has ‘funny five minutes’ when he dries his beard after drinking!

Right now, he is snoring on the sofa after a lovely walk, and I will join him in a moment for some Sunday Afternoon Knitting on a very secret project indeed, involving almost ONE MILE of lace yarn. More on this later…x

It’s bliss and I am happy to count my blessings today.

*Bilko images are copyright of the lovely and talented Magda at studiomag.co.uk

Knit therapy

And relaaaaaax…

I find knitting and crochet incredibly soothing. Knit classes should be available on the NHS, as it is cheaper than medication or therapy – although possibly more addictive! While I learnt to knit and crochet as a child, I only took them up seriously later in life as a form of stress relief in my former career, and I am so glad I did – I haven’t looked back! It is the only real activity, other than reading (or playing guitar, badly), that helps me to completely tune out and lose myself. I suppose it’s a form of mindfulness, although more on that another day. It doesn’t matter what I am doing – if my day has been particularly mundane, it is wonderful to fall headfirst into a complex lace pattern, requiring intense concentration and silence. If my day has been busy and I just want to veg (or I am feeling under the weather, physically or emotionally) then something basic does the trick just as well – plus you can watch a film at the same time. Bargain!
I haven’t been particularly well of late and as a result had lost my knitting mojo. I was worried. I was still just as stressed, but without knitting I had no other way to unwind. I knew that I had to knit to get my mojo back, but how? And with what?

Easy knits

I turned to an old friend, the garter stitch. There was a time when I (wrongly) thought little of the humble garter stitch, but it is such a lifesaver and I really love the simplicity and the resulting squishiness! For some yarns, garter stitch is a great way to go. I love those little resulting ‘pops’ of colour. So, to get me back on the knitting path, I needed just plain knit. I picked the very popular (and fun!) ten stitch blanket by Frankie Brown, but made a couple of alterations. I worked on 20 sts, as I knew that I didn’t want to be turning every ten stitches (or knitting backwards, as I tend to do on short row sections) and I added a slip stitch join to get a lovely box-spiral ridge. While working on it, if I dared to put it down for a second, my gorgeous Tibetan Terrier would run to sit on it and claim it as his own. Luckily, I tend to work all my knitting on circs, otherwise he could have done himself an injury! I knew that it was never going to be the prettiest blanket, because all the balls were different, but the aim was just to get me back on track. So with no other intended recipient, it rapidly became ‘Bilko’s Blanket’.  When I finished, I added a 5st applied i-cord edging, just to make it that little bit more substantial. It goes everywhere with him!

My little stinky fella is pooped after a long walk so I couldn’t tear him away from his blankie long enough to get a photo of it on its own (and he loves to play to the camera anyway!), so this shot will have to do for now.

Not that I don’t have a million and one other projects on the go, but once Bilko’s Blanket had been cast off, I needed another garter stitch saviour, and so  began the ‘Curious Case of the Log Cabin‘.

Oh, happy day – I was hooked again!

pw x

New beginnings

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Those of you who know me may know I’ve tried to blog before, but life always seemed to get in the way. It has taken me in some surprising directions, not all of which were unpleasant, but it’s been a bit of a struggle. So, I’ve decided to take Life by the balls (of yarn!) and at long last create and follow my own road map.

So, what’s the plan, I hear you ask (or not, as the case may be!)…

FIND MYSELF

I know, it sounds very philosophical. I haven’t had much of an opportunity to discover my own ‘style’ yet. Don’t get me wrong, I can dress myself (usually co-ordinated too!) but I need to discover my own design style. I have followed briefs, created because of a specific need (or page count to be filled) but haven’t really been able to express my own creativity. It will be interesting (well, for me anyway!) to give myself permission to experiment and find my own way. It’s a ‘permission’ I have given to my students over the years, and it’s time I took my own advice! I might fail miserably along the way, but if you share my journey with me, I hope that you can learn from my mistakes.

 

So, what can you expect from Little’ole me? Well…..

  1. Yarn tales – what I love, what’s new, what excites me, any great finds, books, blogs, shows – everything and anything yarn related!
  2. What’s on my sticks/hooks – and possibly sneakysneak previews of Designs To Come, along with free patterns for both knit and crochet. (Note to self: must get round to putting existing patterns here too!)
  3. Details of classes – lots of them are planned, so keep on checking.
  4. Lots of tutorials and interesting tricks’n’tips. I know, I should keep these up my sleeve, but some are too great to keep quiet about. Share and share alike, that’s my motto – at least sometimes, anyway. Unless it’s yarn, in which case it’s mine, I tell you, all mine!

So, that’s my ‘mission statement‘ for this blog.

Why share it with the world? Well, it’s a way for me to monitor whether I’m sticking to it, and to give my ‘journey’ (bleurgh) some direction from the start. However, I reserve the right to make the occasional detour now and then. After all, life can be more fun when you go off-road every once in a while.

Feel free to call Shotgun and ride along with me for a while. I have tea and cake for the duration – and I do stop for yarn shops!

Happy Road Trip,

pw x