Reality Check………….

One of the ongoing decisions that every blog writer makes is how much reality to allow into their blog. The best blogs create a feeling of intimacy between writer and reader, which makes the reader feel that they are peeking into someone else’s life. But few of us want a warts’n’all look at someone else’s life. We prefer an edited version; albeit one that is edited so carefully that we can’t really tell. Our own lives are real enough, without experiencing the grittiness of someone else’s reality.

At least, that’s how I feel about my favourite blogs. And that’s how I approach this blog. And you know what? Maintaining a blog is a great tool for happiness. As well as allowing you to connect with friends across the planet, it helps you to set aside the petty irritations and black clouds of life, and find something cheerful, funny, and entertaining in each day’s existence. I used to write a diary, but found that it tended towards the gloomy, which did me no good. But this blog often uplifts me (especially when it becomes two way, through your comments). No matter how busy I am, I enjoy taking the time to plan and write each day’s entries.

But I’m not going to enjoy this one very much. Because it requires me to lift that veil, and show you one of the realities of my life.

For the last few years I have been struggling with an autoimmune thyroid disorder. My thyroid swings between over- and under-active. Stress makes it worse. Over activity makes it worse. I catch any virus that is going around, because my immune system is so busy attacking me that it doesn’t do it’s job correctly, and then the viruses make it worse.

But this is not a call for sympathy. Many people are far, far sicker than I am. Besides, this has been going on for years, and the longer it goes on for, the easier it is to deal with. Funny that, but it’s true. You learn to cope, to find your limits and listen to your own body’s wisdom. I know the warning signs, I can tell when I’m pushing it, when a burnout is impending. And when it is, I know what I have to do.

This year has been a difficult one, so far. There has been a tremendous amount of stress, from one reason and another, plus I seem to have caught every cold and virus that is going around. Now my body has put up the red light. Danger, Will Robinson.

I’m telling you all this, even though I loathe talking about my health problems, so that you’ll understand the reasons why, when I tell you that we have had to cancel Wonderwool Wales. It’s last minute, because I’ve been hoping against hope that I could do it. But I can’t. Just can’t. I’m so sorry to those of you who were looking forward to meeting us; I was looking forward to meeting you too. What a disappointment.

But such is life. We compromise, we adjust, we give, we take. I hope those of you who are going have a wonderful time anyway. Maybe we’ll make it next year.

Let’s finish on a cheerful note: my Forest Canopy shawl is complete. At least, I’ve completed the recommended number of pattern repeats. But I’ve only used half my yarn. Shall I continue, and make it even bigger, or shall I finish here, and have it as a shoulder shawl? Your thoughts, please!

Button Up…….

Here are some more of my favourites from this week’s yarn:

Eva 4ply in Lavender

Eva 4ply in Bud

Amelia in Harvest Moon

Amelia in Pansies

The preview is now up, so have fun window shopping. The sale is, as always, Sunday at 6pm.

It may just be the cold meds, but I’ve had a moment of inspiration! At the bottom of this post, you’ll see our cool new blog button. Are you a Posh Knitter? If so, lift the button! Besides decorating the sidebar of your own blog, it will give me immense pleasure to see a gang of posh knitters sprinkled across the blogosphere. Just cut and paste the code below to do it the easy way.

<a href=”” mce_href=””><img src=”” mce_src=”” border=”0″></a>

Button up, my lovelies!

Cecilia, You’re Breaking My Heart…….

Imagine going shopping for thousands of pounds worth of yarn. Sound like fun? Ah, but here’s the catch. You can’t keep any of it. Well, you can’t keep much of it (I do cream off a few skeins now and then, but shhh, don’t tell Mr P). It’s still fun to shop for it all though. This month I’ve been busy choosing new summer yarns, to join the current range. You seemed to like the silk we debuted last week, so there’ll be more of that. We’ve got an exciting mystery yarn coming in, which I think you’re going to riot over. And I’ve been considering a cashmere/silk/linen yarn, which I think will be wonderful for summer knits. What do you think?

We’ve also had a small shipment of Cecilia, our cashmere/silk cobweb weight yarn, arrive. I love this yarn, and it dyes beautifully, but I’m slightly awestruck at those of you who actually knit with it. It’s so fine! But the results are, I admit, spectacular. My mum has promised to knit me an Icarus shawl out of some, just as soon as she has finished knitting up next month’s Lace Club pattern, the Central Park hoodie for my nephew (that I volunteered her to make), and the sweater she’s had on her needles since last summer that keeps being postponed by my requests. You gotta love mothers.

So, here’s your first sneak peek of this week’s yarn. More to come tomorrow, then the preview sometime tomorrow evening. I’m running a little late again this week, partly due to delays with a supplier, and partly due to last week’s flu virus, which has come back bigger, badder, and even more vicious. Thank goodness for a laptop that enables me to work in bed. So, Dee in her pj’s presents for your viewing pleasure:

Cecilia in Seek

Cecilia in Fresh

Sophia 2ply in St. Tropez

Cecilia in Samba (and it really is that bright)

Alice in Glow Worm

Alice in Gossip

Alice in Grace

More tomorrow. And thanks for all your crochet advice – the lovely Claire has offered me a spare copy of the Happy Hooker, so I’ll let you know how I get on with that. Probably next week, once the cotton wool in my head gets replaced with brains. Right now, mine’s a Nyquil on the rocks.

Gone Fishing…….

We live in a gorgeous part of the country. The Pembrokeshire coastline is edged with dramatic, rugged cliffs that soften down to sandy bays and wide sweeping beaches. The Gulf Stream keeps the water fairly warm, not skinny-dipping-in-November-warm, but warm enough that you won’t lose a toe if you decide to paddle, warm enough that you can see dolphins playing off the coast in the summer months.

We spend a lot of time at the beach. Walking along it, tasting the salt spray, on a wild winter afternoon, sunbathing and snorkelling in the summer, beachcombing for shells and driftwood, barbecuing, bonfiring, fishing.

Well, I use the Royal ‘we’ there. When I say we fish, I mean Mr P fishes, while I sit and knit (which makes me feel terribly Elizabeth Zimmerman), read a book, or just lay back and watch the birds sweeping through the sky. I like fishing. It’s relaxing. Usually.

You see, Mr P has discovered a wonderful fishing spot. Scores of mackerel leap to his bait, its quiet and beautiful, and few other fishermen are there competing for the catch. But why are there few other fishermen there?

Because it’s on the edge, the very precipice, of a cliff. And to get down to the edge you have to scramble/slide down a slippery grass slope. Which is practically vertical. As you scramble, little stones skitter out from under your feet and bounce over the cliff edge. You get to the fishing spot, and peer over (you just have to know how bad it would be) and it’s a sheer drop. The sea below churns over wicked looking rocks. It is terrifying.

I loved it. Who wants to come with me next time?

I’ve Got It!

I’m not very good in learning new skills. Not very good as in, can’t do it. Thank heavens my mother taught me to knit when I was a little girl, because I think I lost my ability to master new skills at about 24. Case in point, crochet.

Lately I’ve been feeling a distinct urge to crochet, partially due to the cool patterns in Interweave Crochet, partially due to the influence of the Crafting Queen (are there any bloggers out there who don’t have a crush on Ms Posie?) and her ripple afghans. Trouble is, I never learned to crochet. But how hard can it be?

Hard. For me, anyway. I got Crocheting for Dummies (which I wouldn’t recommend, by the way) and a nice chunky crochet hook, and sat myself down to learn. I followed as far as the foundation chain, then things got a little misty. The instructions made no sense. The pictures made no sense. I started feeling nauseous. I had a strong urge to throw the crochet hook across the room and start bawling. I gritted my teeth and pressed on.

No, I didn’t, I gave up. I can crochet a foundation chain. And that’s it. Will that come in handy, do you think?

It’s very dispiriting. I’m always like this when I try to learn something new, whether from a book or by someone showing me. I get a mental block, start feeling quite panic stricken. I just know, unequivocally, that I will never get it.

Sometimes I never do. But other times, I get the lightbulb moment. Like with knitting from charts. I always said I was a written instruction knitter, couldn’t use charts. I did try, but it wouldn’t click. This makes any kind of interesting knitting – lace, Fair Isle – slow and difficult. The Forest Canopy shawl, for example, was crawling along. Then one day last week, I took another look at the chart. Lightbulb.

All of a sudden, I got it. I could follow the chart without even thinking about it. Rather than knitting away in solitary confinement, muttering the instructions to myself, feeling exhausted after two rows, I could knit on it any time, any place. I could hold conversations which knitting it. My brain could read and follow that chart without my intervention. Eureka!

Now I’m hoping that the same thing might happen with crochet. I’ll leave it a while, let those instructions simmer away in the back of my mind. Maybe in six month’s time, I’ll pick up a hook and a skein of yarn, and find that I can crochet beautifully. I’ll whip up an intricate lace dress while watching an episode of House M.D.

Well, maybe not. But if I could get past the foundation chain, that would be something.