I’ve just returned from a lovely weekend in Dublin, where I was teaching a workshop at one of my very favourite yarny places, This is Knit. The shop has recently moved into new premises in the Powerscourt centre.

I always feel welcome at This is Knit.

Upstairs, on the mezzanine, there is a great teaching space. I gave a short presentation . . .

. . .and we all got down to work.

At cutting time, silence descended. . .


We then made neat facings for our steeks, using a method which I have called the “steek sandwich.” This simple technique features on a couple of my forthcoming designs, one of which will be released toward the the end of this month.

I enjoyed the workshop tremendously, which was really something of a relief. It was my first teaching experience since January 2010 (the last class I taught was, in very different circumstances, on this day). Shortly afterward, I had my stroke, and the rest you know.

I realise I’ve not been talking so much about my health of late. This is not because I suddenly feel better, or anything, but somehow, for whatever reason, at the moment I’m finding it more useful to just try to get on with things rather than dwell on them. I am not ignoring my limitations – on the contrary, they determine how I live life every day – but I do find that I have a tendency to become frustrated if I focus too much on these issues. I have many other things to think about right now – I’m enjoying what I’m doing and life is largely very good. A while ago, someone asked me what I missed about academia. I shocked myself by answering, quite truthfully, that there is not a single thing that I miss about my previous position. Indeed, despite the awful hideousness of having had a stroke and the many difficulties attendant on the process of recovery, weighed in the balance, I would say that I am much, much happier supporting myself through my own creative endeavours than I ever was working for a University.

In any case, I feel that I’ve crossed another hurdle this weekend. And, as on a previous occasion, my friends in Ireland have helped me to cross it. I was happy teaching a workshop at This is Knit because I knew that, if I had a “bad” day and found myself unable to turn up, then both staff and pupils would have understood. This is not always the case, though, and one of the most annoying things about my present circumstances is having to remain cautious about putting myself in situations where my health issues might not meet with the same level of understanding.

Anyway, without making any sort of fuss about it, This is Knit did everything they could to put me at ease, and I’m very grateful. Thanks also to the lovely knitters at the workshop, who made the occasion a genuine pleasure for me. Before I left, Lisa and Jacqui presented me with this beautiful shawl pin, the work of local designer, Eimear Earley. Inspired by brooches in the archeological collections of the Museum of Ireland, Eimear’s pin was commissioned by This is Knit, and is just one of many examples of how the shop supports and fosters creative talent.

Thanks for a great weekend, ladies. I’ll come back any time.

Edited to Add: having received a few enquiries about the shawl pins, you can find them here.