of dogs . . . and sheep

It has been an interesting week. On the downside, there have been a couple of days of evil, all-consuming fatigue to contend with. This meant that I was unable to go across to Glasgow, and hence unable to meet up with some folk I’ve been looking forward to seeing for ages, to chat about lace. Though I detest not being able to plan ahead, or having my plans scuppered when I do, I am pretty much resigned to the fatigue now, and I get by OK as long as I a) don’t get frustrated with myself and b) don’t try to do anything too taxing when it strikes. While I was feeling tired and rotten, I listened to an interesting interview with philosopher, Havi Carel about illness, which really chimed with my own recent experiences. Most of what she said was common sense, but it was very eloquently put common sense. I have ordered her book.

Fatigue notwithstanding, there have also been many good things over the past few days: the most exciting – nay, amazing – being that I FOUND BOBBY. To explain, when I had my stroke, I collapsed on the cycle path, where I was luckily found by a man and his dog who were out for an early-morning run. I remember the dog very vividly: it was a lovely black spaniel; it was wearing a flashing disco collar; and its name (perhaps predictably for an heroic, Edinburgh dog) was BOBBY. I remember the man much less clearly, but I am so very glad he was there. This man turned out to be a GP and he knew exactly what had happened to me (I was conscious, but had no clue what was going on). It is thanks to him that, within 20 minutes of having my stroke, I was being seen by the skilled neurologists at the Western General. He may well have saved my life. For the past year, I have wanted to find this man, to thank him. As I walk up and down those paths a lot, I thought I might be likely to run into him, but the problem is that I did not know his name, nor have any idea what he looked like. The dog, however, I did remember: since the advent of Bruce, I see and speak to a lot of dogs in our locale, and I have been on constant look-out for a black spaniel named Bobby. AND THE OTHER DAY, I FINALLY FOUND HIM! I ran into Liz, one of the dog walkers, down by the weir. She always has a jolly pack of hounds with her to whom I like to say hello, and as I approached, I heard her refer to one of them as Bobby. Sure enough, Bobby turned out to be a black spaniel! And when I asked Liz about Bobby’s owner, I discovered that he is a GP; indeed, the very man that helped me! Liz has put me in touch with Andy (for that is his name) and soon I shall finally be able to thank him in person.

I found it very moving meeting BOBBY, for, as you might imagine, he has taken on a near mythic status for me. While I was lying in hospital with my stroke-addled brain, I had many odd recurring dreams, in one of which I was walking with a black dog. It is fair to say, that in the months following my stroke, I developed an interest in, and affection for, dogs that I really did not have before. Hence, this fine fellow:

OK, that’s it for the dogs, then, but what about the sheep? Well, occasionally folk are kind enough to send me the odd woolly treat, and I wanted to say a quick thankyou. At the top of this post are Suzanne‘s sheep, who seemed very happy to play their part in this Christmas’s knitted nativity. I like them so much that I couldn’t bear to put them away after the festive season had passed, so they now live on top of my knitting cabinet. Really, how cute are they? (You can find their maker here — I love the photograph of all the different sheep sizes!) Thankyou, Suzanne!

A little further down the post you see some lengths of Hinnigan’s tweed, that Anne kindly sent me. My love affair with Hinningan’s tweed is long standing. Anne tells me that the shop has now sadly gone from the centre of Selkirk, but you can still buy their fabric through Locharron. Thankyou, Anne!

And last but not least is this beautiful Beiroa yarn from the wonderful Rosa Pomar. I really admire Rosa’s research into Portuguese textile traditions, and this yarn is the fruit of some of that work. The yarn is spun from the fleece of Bordaleira sheep, who live on the slopes of Portugal’s highest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela. These sheep are better known for their delicious cheese, but for many years, their wool has also been used to make woollen capes, which remind me very much of mauds, in the Scottish shepherding tradition. The wool of the Bordaleira sheep is as delicious as their cheese, and Rosa is now putting it to good use for hand-knitters. She soon hopes to produce more yarn from the coloured fleeces of this flock.

The Beiroa really is a lovely 1 ply yarn – just the kind I like – rustic and sheepy and real. I rewound the skein into a cake the other day, and since then have been swatching away. I thought it might knit up like Manx Loaghtan, or one of those similar ancient goat-y breeds, but it has much more spring and body to it. Indeed, it has great bounce and stitch definition (it is a yarn that seems to to demand cables) and I will be interested to see how it behaves when blocked. I sense a hat coming on. . .

. . . hold up a minute , the light is falling on the yarn-cake rather nicely, and now the sheep want to play too. . .

. . the thin sunlight is interesting, coming in through that window . . .

Now you’ve gone too far, Kate! Move away from the sheep!