Words To Live By

Do you like inspirational quotes? I do, and I don’t. I’m not keen on the traditional ones, from Great Minds of History. The trouble is, they get so over-quoted that they become boring and trite. I prefer to go to alternative sources for words that inspire, cheer, comfort, motivate, and generally get you through your day. Comedians, songwriters, cartoon characters, tv shows……. Pop culture wisdom, if you will. So here is the first in a series of quotation posts, featuring some of the ones I love.

This week, the very great Calvin & Hobbes (aka, Bill Watterson). Everything you need to know about life, you can get from this awesomely cynical kid and his toy tiger. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the comic strip is for kids, because it isn’t. If you haven’t read any of them yet, you are in for a treat.

“I pray for the strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to tell the difference.”

“I keep forgetting that rules are for little nice people.”

“People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.”

“A little rudeness and disrespect can elevate a meaningless interaction to a battle of wills and add drama to an otherwise dull day.”

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don’t help.”

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.”

“To make a bad day worse, spend it wishing for the impossible.”

“I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone’s expectations.”

“Careful. We don’t want to learn from this. ”

“Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around.”

“There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse!”

“People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.”

“It’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.”


As you know, all of the yarns in our range are named after women. To begin with, I picked names that I thought sounded Posh (lots of them from Georgette Heyer novels!), some of the earlier ones were Cordelia, Lucia, Seraphina, Henrietta. But as our range has swelled (I think we’ve had over 100 different yarns at one point or another), I’ve started picking out names for more than just their sound. I’ve started using names that mean something to me, from people I find inspirational.

When we first got the cobweb weight merino/silk/cashmere, I didnt have to look far for the right name for it. Valerie is a very dear friend of mine, more family than friend, really, and she is someone I really look up to. She is truly Posh. Would you like to meet her? I thought you might…………

Do you remember the two friends I went to America with recently? Well, Valerie is the mum of these two lovelies (who have an equally lovely brother). So I grew up with her in my life, albeit as the mother of my friends. But in the last couple of years, we’ve grown really close, and any generation gap that might have existed when I was a kid has vanished now. Mind you, that’s partly because Val has the secret of eternal youth (just like Tony!). She’s one of the wisest women I know, and has certainly been through her share of trials, but she’s never lost her sense of fun, of excitement, of curiosity, and of joie de vivre. She embodies joie de vivre. I hope that one day I might be as strong as she is, as capable, as brave. She is incredibly honest, and faithful, and true to herself. She’s really funny too. 

She’s also one of the most loving people I know, and its no coincidence that her family is one of the happiest, most supportive, most joyous families that I know of. These people really know how to have fun, how to make a holiday out of an ordinary day. I love that about them. 

I feel very blessed indeed to have Valerie’s friendship in my life, and I try my best to be a good friend to her to, by being supportive, and telling her how much I value and love her. I don’t think that Val has to try; it comes naturally to her to be nurturing and kind and supportive. I would like to think that she’s a good influence on me. I wish I was more like her.

She’s also very good at coming up with colourway names, some of my recent favourites are actually from her. And she patiently taught me to crochet last week. Thank you Val! You are an inspiration in every possible way. Don’t ever change. Not one teeny bit.


October Sock Club


Can you believe it’s nearly October already?! This is the penultimate sock club shipment – how fast that year went! The yarn went out in today’s mail, so it should be with members very soon. This time we used my current favourite sock yarn, Elinor, a tightly spun superwash merino, which has 400 yards per 100g skein.

For the colourway, I was inspired by an autumn fireworks display, bright colours on a muted background. I wanted it to be a colourway with a lot of different colours in it, in Tony’s special subtle way. And he’s done a beautiful job. I gave him the theme, and he interpreted it with his usual flair.

However, a colourway that has lots of subtle colours is virtually impossible to replicate over a dye lot of 110 skeins (we always do extra). And so there is a great deal of variation between all the skeins. They are all beautiful, they all capture the theme, but they are all completely individual. So please, please don’t be upset if your skein doesn’t look identical to someone else’s, and if anyone does post spoiler photos, please don’t have any exact expectations as to your own skein being the same as that one, because it almost certainly won’t be (which is why I haven’t taken any photos myself.

That proviso having been said, I really think everyone will love this colourway. I know I do. I may have swiped a skein for myself! Here are my pattern suggestions for the yarn:

Gretya Socks

Kernel Scarf

Sinusoida Socks

Little Colonnade Shawl

Bodice Ripper Socks

Baana Scarf

Bines Socks

Hearts On Fire Scarf

Weasley Rib Socks

Life’s A Beach Shawl

Xanthophyll Socks

Multnomah Shawl

Podster Gloves

A final word about the sock club: we’ve talked and talked, and we really don’t think that we will continue it on in 2010. Tony feels that his time would be better spent in dyeing extra yarn for updates, or in doing one off kits. The way he dyes does not easily lend itself to replicating a colourway over such a large amount of yarn, and he gets a little stressed trying to do so. So although I’m not saying we definitely won’t be doing the sock club, there’s a good chance we won’t. But if we don’t, we’ll try to come up with fun one off yarn events for you all instead. In the meantime, enjoy the last couple of club yarns!

Five A Day

I recently discovered the website Mindapples. The idea behind it is that, just as for physical health and wellbeing we are encouraged to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and veg a day, we should try to incorporate five activities into our day that encourages good mental health and wellbeing. What a wonderfully simple, but effective, idea. One that all of us should embrace, whether as prevention or as part of a cure. To spread the word, bloggers are encouraged to do a kind of meme, mentioning the five things that they do each day for their mental health. I’m not going to nominate anyone in particular to join in, but if you do have a blog, it would be lovely if you participated. This can be a particularly difficult time of year for those who struggle with depression/anxiety and other mental health problems, so it’s a good time of year to exchange ideas.

Ok, my five things. Nothing very earth shattering, just a few basic things that I’ve learned are essential for my mental health and wellbeing.

  • Eat sensibly. For me, this means eating regular meals, and making sure that each meal gives my brain the nutrients it needs to be healthy – protein, good fat, complex carbs, plenty of vitamins and minerals from fresh produce. I avoid caffeine, because it makes me feel very jittery, and I don’t have alcohol that often either. I’ve found that there is a direct relation (for me) between what I eat and how well I sleep, which in turn affects my mood.
  • Pilates. Ok, I’m cheating a bit here, because I don’t do Pilates every day, I do it 3 times a week. But I wish I could fit it in every day. I always walk away from class feeling 100 times better than when I went in. It makes my overly tense body uncoil, and I get a real endorphin rush from it too. On the days when I don’t have a class, I try to do fifteen minutes of stretching exercises in the evening, to help my body unwind from the day. 
  • Do something creative every day. Take some photographs, knit, write a more personal blog entry, anything that switches off the analytical side of my brain and focuses on the creative side. Even for ten minutes.
  • Stop labelling others by their appearance. She’s fat, he’s short, she’s got ugly hair, he’s got a big nose. If we do it when we look at others, we do it when we look at ourselves. Now this is a tough one for us women. We don’t like to think that we’re this shallow, but hands up how many of us have seen an old school friend or someone we haven’t seen for a while, and immediately thought, “they’ve put on weight! and they look so much older!” From which it’s a small step to,  “I’m sure I’m thinner/younger looking than them.” And an even smaller step to, “I’m the fattest one in the room.” Not good for the self esteem.   
  • Keep a tidy house. This is a very personal one; it may not bother a lot of people to have a messy house, but it really bothers me. My spirit gets all rumpled up when the house is untidy/dirty. But it’s a bit of a Catch 22, because when I’m stressed, things tend to pile up, and then I feel all overwhelmed and where do I start? When it gets like that, I try not to think of the long list of chores to be done, instead I think, “Just do one thing.” Just one thing. No matter how bad you feel, you can manage one job, the washing up, clean the bath, tidy the living room, do a load of laundry. Just that one thing makes me feel so much better that I can usually manage one more. Another tip I read on Ravelry, but haven’t tried yet, is to set a 20 minute timer, and work madly for that 20 minutes, then stop. It’s only a short time, not too daunting, but you can get a lot done in 20 minutes.

So, there’s my five. Now it’s your turn. 

Baby Boom

Thanks for all the lovely book recommendations yesterday. Some of them may or may not have fallen into my Amazon cart……. Now I need some more recommendations from you. Baby clothes.

Not for me, silly! No! No, no, no, no, NO! Heh, heh.

But have you noticed that we seem to be in a bit of a baby boom at the moment? Two of my lovely online friends are expecting, and quite a few of my offline friends are as well. I’d love to knit something for all of them, but I don’t know what. Something very small and quick (since I haven’t much time and am a slow knitter) but very cute, and a little bit special. Can anyone suggest anything? I love the Saartje Booties, but I’m not sure how well booties would go down with non-knitters.