That difficult age

You may have been wondering about my lack of blogging this year… in fact I have been too. I started the year with grand plans for book writing, but these didn’t actually come to fruition until the last month and even then my writing is a bit erratic. To begin with I thought that I was just feeling uninspired and then Max died and I was feeling sad, but as the year progressed I realised that I was suffering from what I can only describe as brain fog, sometimes accompanied by poor sleep and lethargy and sometimes accompanied by feelings of stress. I bimbled along for a while before realising that these were symptoms of the menopause. It’s a funny old thing – if you are pregnant, you can talk about the effects of your hormones on your body and your brain quite freely (and get support and sympathy), but if (like 100% of women will be at some stage in their life) you are menopausal, you keep quiet. This means that you don’t know what to expect; I was beginning to think I was going bonkers.

The really strange thing was, as soon as I realised and started chatting to my friends of a similar age, it all seemed much more manageable and normal. Mr Snail was worried about me too, and finding out that what I am going through is normal has helped him immensely. Everybody has different experiences, but I found some common threads – often mental rather than physical. The classic symptom is the hot flush, which I started having these about six years ago. They are rare for me now and I assumed that their gradual disappearance meant that is was all over – I was wrong. Brain fog, however, seems to be something most women I have talked to experience.

Anyway, this is the real reason why I haven’t been writing much. It seems to have adversely affected my creativity too and so I haven’t produced so many fun/lovely/quirky things to show you. However, I’m hoping that my newfound honesty and support network (including Sister of Snail, Mrs Robinson and The Great Creator) will buoy me up and help me find a new perspective.

I’ve toyed with writing this post for the past few weeks and wondered whether it was just too much to share, but then I watched a programme on the BBC the other day about the subject, which highlighted the need to talk about this and not to feel ashamed or embarrassed.  So, here I am. Sorry gents if you find this uncomfortable, but if you ever encounter women, this is something that is relevant to you too and which it would be useful to understand. So, lets start some conversations and accept that we all go through changes in our lives during which we need support and understanding.

I’ll just finish with two of my favourite songs from the wonderful Henry Priestman both about getting older… listen to the lyrics, they are wonderful.



Magic loops and toe-up challenges

Social media is a funny old place – we show off our successes and hide our failures and attempts, so the world sees a very skewed picture of our lives. I am trying to rectify this with some honest blogs posts (it all began here).


the most recently completed pair

When you read my posts you might be forgiven for thinking that I am an expert with yarn, creating whatever garment I desire with ease and flair. You would be wrong, though. I quite often post pictures of socks I have made or am making and these always draw admiring comments. However, in general, I always follow the same pattern… actually I don’t follow a pattern, I just know how to make them one way and almost always choose that path of least resistance and do what I know.


One of the ideas behind 17 for 2017 was to set myself some challenges to do different things – one of which was “knit six pairs of socks including three using patterns I’ve never tried before“. Just yesterday I completed pair number three, but all had been made using my standard design. Today, therefore, I’m learning a whole new way of kitting socks: from the toe up (I usually knit from the top down). And not only that, I’ve abandoned my trusty double pointed needles and am having a go at using a technique called “magic loop”, which employs a circular needle (i.e. a stick on each and with a flexible wire joining them). Plus, I’m going to knit a pattern into the sock in the form of little cables rather than using a self-striping yarn. It is possible that I should have started with a simpler challenge, but if you are going to make changes, why not make really big changes?

The pattern I selected  is by Louise Tilbrook, a sock designer I admire very much, and it’s called Honeycomb Cables (pattern available here). Now, I am not guaranteeing that I will be successful, but so far I have managed to cast on, using a whole new technique called Judy’s magic cast-on (thank you You Tube, I couldn’t have done it without you) and done a few rounds without throwing it out of the window. There is definitely at least one mistake in there, but I’m hoping no one will ever notice as it will be inside my shoe when I wear the sock.

It’s early days yet, but at least 17 for 2017 has encouraged me out of my comfort zone to try something different.


I’m following the advice on the mug

The frog princess

Sometimes you know when something is wrong.

Over the winter I crocheted most of a sweater. All the main pieces were done, it just needed the neck working up and sewing together. But I didn’t do it. It sat in my work basket for months whilst I made up excuses for not finishing it.


nice wool, shame about the pattern

Finally, over the weekend, I got it out of the basket and looked at it. And admitted that I really didn’t like the shape – too long and skinny. In fact the pattern was for a man’s sweater and I should have taken this into account and adjusted it, but I didn’t, I followed the pattern. I should also have stopped working on it when I realised my tension was wrong and it was not as wide as it should have been for the number of stitches. For some reason, I pretended this wouldn’t matter as I worked and considered adding side panels… despite the fact that this would change the way the arms would have to be attached.. and their length… and their shape. And even knowing this, I followed the pattern for the arms too, so they weren’t going to work if I made the body wider. Is it any wonder that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it off?


back to balls

On Saturday, however, I bit the bullet. I love the yarn and hate the way the pattern turned out. The only thing to do in such circumstances is to frog (unravel it for those of you who don’t do yarny stuff… because you “rip-it, rip-it”). So, with much sneezing (it had got dusty from all that sitting around), I converted it back into balls. I have plenty of yarn, so now I’m going to have fun choosing another pattern to work it up into… probably a cardigan or jacket. I have to admit that this is one of the reasons I like knitting and crochet better than sewing – the work can be completely dismantled and the raw material used again in its entirety if you don’t like the finished item or if it doesn’t fit.



This is another in my series of ‘honest’ posts, about things that don’t work or aren’t perfect. You can read my first one (about gardening) here. This is the anti-Instagram!




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