Sighthound Charity Snood


Dizzy Lily: A Snood For a Hound 
knitting pattern is available from
Here on Erssie Knits or Ravelry 
All pattern proceeds go 
to Galgos del Sol

You can also apply for a free licence
to make your own snoods for fundraising: 

If you don't knit but want readymade snoods you can buy some from
who donate their own proceeds to dog rescue charities.

Erssie is reading...

Erssie's bookshelf: currently-reading

Wolf Hallonce bittenThe Confession of Katherine HowardAlice's Adventures in WonderlandThe WildingThe Children's Book

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Hidden Pages

skeinspotting: a world of erssie knits


Plastic Surgery

I might be having plastic surgery. I start treatment and hand therapy soon and assessment as a candidate for stem cell therapy. This involves implanting stem cells into areas of scarring in the hope that it will regenerate new cells formuscle, tendons and other tissues. Then hopefully those new areas will be softer than the existing scar tissue. The idea is to try and soften areas to allow more extension, movement and function of both arms. Lately the scar tissue has been causing major contractures and as the arm wounds healed from their previous state, even though it should be returning to normal, they have actually been getting tighter and tighter. My arms are stuck at right angles which means they are too short for normal function.

The contractures have affected my knitting. I have been able to knit and crochet but extremely slowly and this has affected taking on multiple projects if the deadlines are close together. I am trying to only have one job on at any one time, with my own projects working simultaneously. I do have lots and lots of kids patterns I want to share with the public but first they need making and so its a race to see how much I can get done before the treatment above starts.

The treatment involves lots of mini- surgeries, probably overnight in hospital and then with a bowman's brace on which holds the arms in place, so not possible to knit I should imagine. I just pray I do not get my normal Behcet's reactions and then end up with a worse situation.

Do you remember the sitcom Father Ted? Here is an episode where Father Ted and Father Dougal were given a car to look after for a raffle prize to raise funds for the Church. However, they accidentally dented one small area so they tried to fix that with a hammer....then jump in time and pull away to reveal a car which had dents all over it, much worse than the original small blip. Well that could be the story of my arms and hands since about 2002!


Achey Breaky Hand...

The fact this is my first post since beginning of Feb, just shows how long I have been waiting to sort out my hand. I had a fall in about end of Oct last year, did not see the doc until about Dec and he sent me to a fracture clinic for a suspected break of metacarpels 4 and 5. This could have happened in two ways; firstly by me punching the tiles in the bathroom as I fell, and secondly by my fingers stabbing right side on to the kitchen cupboard (was trying to get hold of a dog and misjudged the distance). Apparently, it does not show up on xray so I needed to get a CT scan.


Anyway, I could not get an appointment until beg of Feb to see the Ortho docs at the fracture clinic, but 3 days before that appointment the consultant decided he did not want to keep the appointment and referred me to another hospital because I have a chronic condition. Apparently, even if you have an acute accident, a chronic illness will stand in the way of getting your average treatment...nobody wants to upset the apple cart as far as immune disorders go. So, I got an appt in March....but the consultant just briefly looked at it in the waiting room and couldn't do much without xrays or CT scans which I had today, and then I don't have an appointment until end of May. So falling and injuring myself, has taken 7 mths for me to actually get a proper consultation. Hand injuries should be treated immediately. I would have expected that the fact I already had limited use of the other fingers on that hand would have made it all the more important that I get my two injured fingers treated, but it seems like the fact my hand was not functioning normally just means that the disability is stepped up, but appears to be of little consequence to my consultants despite it causing big changes in my life.

It is a little bit annoying that knitting is seen as a little joke, when actually designing and sharing my patterns is a really big deal to me. To not be able to do so, because I did not get my hand fixed soon enough is a major thing to me.

The thumb, forefinger and middle finger and half of the ring finger on my right hand (I am right handed) have little sensation, no temperature sensation and poor movement as well as extreme pain, but it is the ring finger and my pinky that appear to have fractured across the back of the hand. This means it is impossible to hold things in that hand now without them slipping through, and this has affected my knitting. I cannot use the forefingers to hold tension on yarn, so used to thread it through the ring and pinky.

I am still knitting, and am still designing but at a snail's pace. I will have some things coming out now that I made ages ago, but I can see a big fat space is going to probably hit later in the year. Being chronically ill, there are two things I can do. One is to write my blog, do social networking with other knitters and write patterns as well as make illustrations and knitting charts.  And the other is knitting.

On top of the breaky hand thing, there is the problem of why I fell over in the first place. There are areas on my left side which have gone numb and I do feel like I  am walking through treacle on that side. I have not had a stroke but it could be the Behcets so I am seeing neurologists about that.
The orthopaedic doc is referring me to his colleague who is a  plastic surgeon who specialises in Scleroderma. It seems that what I thought was normal scarrring, stopping movement and turning my arms and parts of my legs into cement is not that normal and is to do with the Behcets and the fact that immune disorders tend to involve tissues thickening my arms have literally been turning into blocks of wood.

All of this has me mightily peed off, obviously, and I am very frightened that my already limited life from chronic illness is going to be pared down even more. I am still attempting to knit, but am badly behind on patterns because of the typing....and hence not putting up things regularly on this blog!


I heard through the grapevine, that my book Knitted Letters is out now, but am awaiting a copy of it as I have never seen the final version. It is on sale but the publishers have not yet sent out the author copies.  I might have to try and buy it second hand. New books become obsolete days after they are published as people buy and then put up cheap 2nd hand copies of it, which undermines sales of new books. This is quite common in the publishing industry. I won't be getting any royalties on this book though so it won't affect me, I assigned all the rights etc to the publisher last year. I am so happy I did this job ages ago, because right now I would not have been able to do the work as fast as they required it. 

So, I am quite worried that I will not be able to fix the hand, it has probably mended now but has done so badly. There is a note on my file saying my medical condition prevents the opportunity for surgery and it is not recommended. And I am also slightly worried about the solidifying tissues and turning into a block of wood from sclerodermic tissues....


 A World of Sugru

As some of you know, I have a hand and arm disability and that has slowly got worse of late. It has slowed me down a lot. The most annoying thing about disability aids for the hands are that they are expensive despite looking cheap and nasty and there are nowhere near enough products to fit everyone's unique need. Some of them just do not work; an abrasive sponge on a metal stick that just comes off after one shower, plug pulls that tear off after one use; horrible contraptions for wiping one's derriere that are just a metal rod that do not work. All in horrible flesh coloured and elderly styles.

I did have some aids which naturally wore out then when I tried to get them replaced was told  sorry, these are no longer available from the NHS or your local council and you have to buy them. I bought a very expensive set of cutlery with adapated silicone handles and took them into hospital on the request of OT (they could not afford to provide them for meals), they were locked in a nurses' kitchen for safety and somebody stole them from there... 


IKEA hangers made into a room divider by Diogo Agular and Teresa Otta of LIKEarchitects

However, have you heard of hacking? This design craze, recently featured on the BBC Culture show, is where users 'hack' a product (aka design repurposing) to fit their own use by adding, changing or rebuilding. They even have a website specifically dedicated to those who like to hack IKEA products to fit their own use.



A child's camera is 'drop proofed'; instructions on

One of the products which can help to repurpose a design or repair an item, or make it more usable is a silicone called Sugru. This is sold in foil packs and is malleable just like plasticeine. I love plasticeine and was a dab hand at moulding little animals and other sculptures many years ago. Sugru can be used to repair objects (like this bra strap), add gripping handles, make an object shatter proof (like the camera above for a child).



Bra hook

 As soon as I saw the BBC programme I was annoyed at how in my part of the Worldwide Web, this had not cut across thus proving what I have felt recently, that the web is not fully inclusive and generalised it is made up of tiny exclusive pockets and just like in the real World, you can become quite centred on chosen interests missing out on a whole other existence. Anyway, I know about Sugru now and cannot un-know it but it has been around for years. I did use Fimo and other polymer clays, but have yet to see if Sugru will be better than them for aids that need a lot of pressure and strong adhesion.

So how could hacking help a person like me? Apart from Sugru being really good hand therapy, when I clapped my eyes on that brightly coloured Formerol I could see the possibilities unfolding in my head (pushing out a lot of my knitting designs) Yes, at last disabillity aids could help the disabled hack their favourite every day utility objects into something that is easier to hold, or extended, or has extra handles added. Could I make an extra hand with this? Or adapt knitting for a one handed technique? Or make that elusive bottom wiper I need? Occupational Therapists I have worked with have always been trained in design repurposing and adapting an individual's environment to meet their needs but this could be a product they have been waiting for. What I am finding is that whatever I am imagining to help me, most of it has already been done as you can see below.

Egg Holder

knife handle


Grippy Pencils

Blackberry Handle

Softening the edges of plaster


Wool by Hugh Howey


I cannot rave enough about these sci fi stories, I just love 'em and wrote a rare (for me) but rambling personal review of the Wool Omnibus on Good Reads. Here it is:

A few folk have grumbled about a couple of things with Wool. 

Firstly, some think it is a stupid name and totally irrelevant. I don't and think it is a genius name, dripping in metaphor. This is a novel about striving for truth and choice, and the wool pads given to those condemned to ''cleaning'' outside lenses in order to give a clear view of what is happening outside is a parallel to the levels of knowledge withheld in the silo society, including the amount of debris that the main characters need to clean away for us before we as the readers can know the full truth. Also, I think of that expression of 'having the wool pulled over your eyes' and that is certainly what those in the know are doing with each and every citizen with their divide and rule practices.

Some readers have also complained about long passages of technical information because the heroine comes from a mechanical vocation and background. I don't think these technical explanations have anything to do with wanting to give the reader a working knowledge of the technical aspects of the silo. Early on in the novel one of the characters tells the heroine plucked from 'Mechanical' to become a sheriff, that there is little difference between pulling a machine apart and finding faults or fixing them and looking at cases and solving mysteries and finding a human culprit for the crime. The technical passages are key to supporting that metaphor and I enjoyed the parallels being brought to my attention by the author. If those parts had not been necessary to explain a finer point, he would have edited those out.

There is a strong resemblance to the Worlds of Ray Bradbury and Philip K Dick here, and I think a lot of readers completely misinterpret the themes in really great science fiction novels. Alien environments and dystopian societies are not there just to present oddities and the author's prowess in World building, they are there as a backdrop to reflect the parts of humanity that stand out against the oddness. Sadly, a lot of film adaptations that translate the best science fiction novels into fantasy sets or action scenes that are extremely visual often make the genre suffer as we miss out on the internal monologues of the humans involved.

I am now on to reading the prequel trilogy, Shift. The best news, is that I am hearing that publishers want a piece of the action of new authors who self publish and sell eBooks, so much so that authors are now able to pull off deals to suit them instead of agreeing to a really piddly royalty amount just to have the experience of being published. This is good news for hobby craft non fiction writers, because hopefully some of that attitude will filter down to us.

Designers often get offered a few thousand dollars as an outright buyout fee for a knitting book that might take up 18mths of their time. No royalties, just one measly buyout fee. A designer can potentially make more money from selling just a single popular pattern PDF than they could signing for a whole book to a print dealer. And if designers self publish, the revenue is not capped and does not end, a popular pattern will continue to sell steadily. In addition, those designers truly get artistic control over the book. No author's name on a self published book has been put to work they did not even see (unlike a lot of print publishers and book packagers). Designers could just do with that one viral knitting pattern to set them up. Eventually to get good designers/authors, publishers are going to have to approach those who self publish and offer something a little better. Look out book packagers and freelance editors as you might find that co-edition publishing and the middle man gets cut out altogether. I know of a handful of British knitwear designers who authored books based on their own ideas submitted to mainstream US publishers with no a book packager in sight.


Books in 2012

Well, I didn't quite reach my 50 books target for books read in 2012, I read only 46. Which is the same number of books exactly that I read in 2011. I tend to only make a note of fiction books that I read, so am sure that adding the non fiction titles would bring that to over 50. 27 of those 46 novels are Young Adult science fiction, post-apocalyptic, dystopian novels.

Nevertheless, I am going to try and read another 50 novels in 2013 starting with my current read. I am reading Once, the second in the Eve trilogy by Anna Carey. Once again it is a Young Adult dystopian fiction book set in a World rebuilding itself after being decimated by plague. I was not entirely sure about the first book in this series and found it to have a rather linear plot with too much left unexplained. However, I am enjoying this middle book more and finding it to have a little more substance although there is still something a little empty about part of the World building. I like to feel that a World exists just as richly even if I am not staring it face-on,  but in Eve's World I feel that although it is rich enough right under my nose, somewhere out of the corners of my eye or behind my head,  that World is insubstantial and woolly and so throws doubt on to what is in right in front of me.

Talking of Woolly things, my OH Stevie Savage pointed me towards the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey. I don't know how this passed me by, but I had not heard of this sci fi series. Being a knitter I cannot help but be amused by a book called Wool, with Proper Gauge and Casting Off also part of the series....I realise this is not actually a knitting book of course, but interesting titles nonetheless for an apocolyptic sci fi series. This series is next on my list of books to read, then I might have a go at Ken Follett's World Without End series. I recently completed Pillars of the Earth. Historically speaking, it is probably not the best education, but I still found it an easy and absorbing read. The older I get, the less I worry about why I find some pulpy books enjoyable. I read what I like, whether it is for adults or children, and I put down what I do not enjoy.

Take a look at some of the books I read in 2012:

Erssie's read-in-2012 book montage

Peony in Love
Of Human Bondage
Dreams of Joy
Moon Over Soho
A Stolen Life
Comedy and Error: They Really Were Marvellous Times
One Day at a Time: A Memoir
The Somnambulist
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
The Stand
And I Don't Want to Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder
The Declaration
Talulla Rising

Erssie's favorite books »