Monday 24 February 2014


These fell off my needles a few weeks ago but they lay forgotten until the other day.  I love knitting socks, espeacially when they purposefully turn out all higgledy-piggledy like these ones. The yarn was some more 4-ply unravelled leftovers that I also used for Nico's slippers. I knitted these up on smaller needles which made for a lovely compact, cozy texture. 

Without wanting to sound all showy offy, I don't tend to use a pattern when knitting socks. Mainly because I only ever make them for myself, but also because that was how I was taught. My Danish sister-in-law, the master sock knitter, never uses a pattern, and she showed me how to work out the increases and decreases as well as how to turn the heel and cast off the toe. 

But for the next pair of socks, I'd quite like to use a pattern so I can try out some kind of lacey knit, and who knows, maybe even a picot edge for the cuff?

Saturday 22 February 2014

bear # 4


A brown bear knitted for my nephew, who will turn 6 very soon.
I knit him up beside the fire during the week, and finished him sat outside this week-end.

Pattern: Free knitted teddy knitting pattern

Knitting needles: size 4,5 mm
Yarn: Unknown 4 ply 100 % acrylic yarn (around 100g)
Stuffing: Carded wool

Historique : Already knitted 3 times

Technical: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Result : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♡ ♡
Total cost: about 0,50€ (for the stuffing)

This certainly seems to be my current favourite knitting pattern! This time, I used a larger yarn and bigger needles, which gave me a considerably bigger bear. It's also the first time I've knitted a bear using recycled yarn, this brown bear used to be a crochet waistcoat! Teddy bears aren't fussy and so I'm pleased with the overall shape, texture and size. 

I wanted to experiment with a darker yarn than I've previously used. Although I'm happy with the overall look of the bear, the face ended up much darker than expected which made embroidering the face rather tricky. Not exactly how I would have liked, but still handsome enough. Perhaps next time, I'll have a go at knitting with two colours, or even making a pie-bald face...

Wednesday 19 February 2014

bear # 3

Teddy number three. I think we can safely say I'm addicted to this pattern ! This time, I used a small ball of two-ply pure wool I found on our recent rummaging trip, and much finer needles (n°2,5mm). I really took my time on the sewing up, and even added a tiny scarf for good measure.

I really enjoyed making up this minature bear, so much so, a fourth ted is already cast on my needles...

Pattern : Free knitted teddy knitting pattern
Already knitted 2 times

Needles: n° 2,5 mm
Yarn: 2-ply, pure wool, around 100g
Stuffing: recycled carded wool

Technical : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Result : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Total cost: around 1€ (for yarn and stuffing)

Monday 17 February 2014

bear # 2

It took me nearly three months to finish the first complete this second bear, I didn't even need three days! 

Already knitted once

Knitting needles: size 3 mm
Yarn: Unknown 2 ply yarn (wool/acrylic blend), around 100g
Stuffing: Carded wool

Technical: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Result : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥
Total cost: about 1,50€ (for the recycled yarn and stuffing)

I'm very pleased with the overall result of this bear - including my knitting techniques. I really paid attention this time to the shaping and tried out some different increasing and decreasing techniques to avoid holes in the tummy this time!  

I also took my time over the sewing up, using mattress stitch for the first time. The final result is very satisfying. The only area for improvement really now is to work on my embroidery skills. In the absence of small beads for the eyes, perhaps I should try the aptly named "french knot" for the eyes? 

As for the cost, well what can I say?!!

Saturday 15 February 2014

simple pleasures, small gestures

No Valentine's card for me today.  No forced roses, out of season strawberries, extortionate champagne or unethical chocolates. No candlelit restaurant or diamond ring.

No big, show-offy gestures. Just a long list of tiny, meaningful ones. Just me and my love.

He made me breakfast in bed, because I was too weary to rise. He came back from a walk bearing a blooming bough of black thorn, bringing the promise of spring into our home. He massaged my aching muscles. He held me close when the tiredness overwhelmed and the anxiety threatened to carry me away. 

We're simple hearted folk. We don't celebrate Valentine's day, we don't even know the precise date of out first meeting, our first date or all those other firsts that seemed so important to my younger self.

We don't keep these dates, but what I do know is this: it doesn't really matter to commemorate when the seed was first planted, but rather to keep nurturing and  tending to this precious love every single day.

I guard our precious memories fiercely in my heart's mind. When I am afraid, worn out or downhearted, we take one out together, carefully unwrap it, admire and enjoy it from every angle with a whispered "Do you remember when...?"

We didn't celebrate Valentine's day with pomp and circumstance. But was there for me when it mattered, on a very poorly day, just like he always is.
Needless to say, we didn't take any pyjama day pictures either. These photos are from a walk and picnic in early summer 2013, through gorgeous woodland and flowery prairies... 

Friday 14 February 2014

tiny ted # 2

Another tiny ted (this one looks like a she-bear to me), knitted with oddments on size 2.75m needles.
This one is small enough to slip into an envelope with a letter to send across the Channel to a dear friend.

Wednesday 12 February 2014


Another exhausting week at work, where there is nothing to do but keep going, in spite of the awful fatigue.

It leaves me wondering what I can should do to get on the road to recovery. Perhaps I should take a few weeks off to recuperate a little bit? But that would leave my students without a teacher, and me without an income. I feel so powerless, so lost faced when faced with this dilemma...

Thankfully, I have plenty of small, manageable projects to distract me between siestas. They occupy my fingers, and keep my mind from worrying too much. One of my favourite projects of the week has been untangling the mess of knots from my newly aquired yarn from last week-end, bringing order and calm to my recycled yarn stash. 

If only it were so easy to unravel my dilemma....

Monday 10 February 2014


We made it to the end of the week and found a moment to pause, to breath, to re-focus. Saturday morning, we woke early, hopped in the car and then on a train. We went out of the valley for a couple of hours and made the most of the endless exciting things that the world en bas can offer: browsing through books in our favourite independant bookshop; doing our weekly shop at an organic farmer's market; discovering a new haberdashery; eating lunch in a Tibetan restaurant; rummanging through forgotten fabrics and yarn in our favourite second-hand shop...and coming back with a large basketful of possibilities...

Saturday 8 February 2014

fortune telling

 ‘The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.’  

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Recently, I've begun doing what I've warned myself against: instead of living in the moment, I've slipped back into dreading the future with CFS/Fibro. When tiredness or aches hit, I instantly imagine myself unable to work or to walk, bed-bound once again...wearing nothing but pyjamas.

Some days it gets so bad, I sink into a sort of a mental paralysis, my mind caught up in a whirlpool of negative thinking and anxiety. As I wallow in the mental mud, I spend more and more time in that future. And that future terrifies me.

One week in mid November, it snowed all week. By the weekend, the clouds had parted and the sun shone bright and clear. We got our rucksacks ready and N took me up and out into the mountains. We strapped on our skis and headed up to the gentle slopes around Béderet. As we were inched up the hill, weaving between the ski-lift pylons, I effortlessly slipped into a state of relaxation. Concentrating on my breath and my footfall, I found myself sinking into a rhythmic trance as I put one foot in front of the other.

And then it came to me, my life in focus. All the good things. I am connected to this Earth, to this person I am following. I am breathing. I am moving forward. I am alive.

I may not have full health, but I have a little. I may not be able to work full time, but I can work a little. Some days it might feel like I'm getting nowhere, but when I look behind me I can hardly believe how far I have actually come.

I determined right there and then out on the hill, to spend my time more wisely.

When we go back country skiing, I cannot ski properly if I am worrying about what is to come. I have to let myself go, live fully in the moment. Embrace the unknown, and the downhill. Trust the person I'm skiing with. Trust my body. Trust that it will be ok.

When I am back down in the valley going about my daily life, I cannot tell my fortune. I can't predict the future. Those mental images that so terrify me are just that, only images. But I can count my blessings, be grateful the lot I do have, rather than weeping over the little that I don't have.

I can endeavour to "dwell deeply in the present moment...and feel truly alive." 

Friday 7 February 2014

snow and socks

There was snow in the village this morning, and we were all the better for it. After a hectic week, the snowy conditions were the perfect excuse to curl up in the warm...with my knitting of course.

Sat beside the fire, I got stuck into one of my favourite sorts of projects: knitting socks.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

waking up the bear

In the Pyrenees, legend has it that the brown bear falls asleep just before Christmas and awakens forty days later at Candlemas, le chandeleur. 

When the brown bear puts his nose out of his den, the firstly looks to the heavens. If there is a clear, full moon and the bear sees his shadow, he returns to his lair and goes back to sleep for another forty days. In that case, spring will be late. If however, the sky is darkened by the New Moon, the bear foregoes sleep and leaves his den - signalling the start of spring.

I cast on this little fellow just before the festive season and finished him last weekend, just in time for candlemas. He's a true snow bear, started with the first winter snows...and finished this snowy week-end.
Unlike his brown bear cousins, he didn't got looking for the moon, but rather a place beside the fire.

It has been such a joy to knit up, that I've already started another one.
The first, no doubt, in a long series of little knitted bears...

Saturday 1 February 2014

finding my own rhythm

Walking on the other side, Aragon April 2013
Finding a manageable pace doesn’t come naturally to me. When we're out walking in the mountains, if I don't consciously keep a check on myself, I’m the one bursting off at the start of the trail, only to be later gasping for breath whilst everyone else overtakes.

In daily life, the same situation often occurs, much to the detriment of my health. I easily get swept up in the excitement of new projects or carried along by the enthusiasm of others, until my body just can't take it any more.

After a busy, and therefore exhilarating Autumn, I intended for January get off to a steady and slow start. Instead, I found myself once again overloading myself to breaking point. So many unimaginable possibilities have been opening up for me work-wise since October, that it's almost impossible to say non. Hours teaching English and French or translating are thrilling and exciting. Hardly a day has gone by these past few weeks when I don't come back from an afternoon of classes buzzing with the excitement that comes finally doing a job I've worked so hard for and waited so long to do.

But with that buzz and with those hours comes exhaustion, real over-whelming, anxiety educing exhaustion.

The past week has been a real struggle, as I can feel the busy working days finally stacking up and taking their toll. Doing my accounts at the end of the month, I realise that I have unintentionally been teaching between 15 to 20 hour weeks. That, in addition to the translation projects I was working on at the start of the month mean that my bank balance is looking healthy for the first time since I received my last payment of student loan. My energy reserves are however well and truly overdrawn.

Out in the hills, I've found the key to being able to sustain greater distances is to take my time, to pace. But that inevitably means an acceptance to not only take things a little slower, but also be willing to do a little less each day. I'd love to be able to translate that same principle into my daily life, to feel it were possible to "walk" even greater distances, rather than find my steps petering out and grinding to a holt.

As February begins, I'll be searching for that seemingly elusive rhythm between race and standstill, where my legs get into a manageable rhythm and my feet feel they could keep going for ever. I'll keep my eyes on the summit, stand straight and breath deeply as I take each matter how small that step may be.