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

More of Erssie's books »
Erssie's currently-reading book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Hidden Pages

skeinspotting: a world of erssie knits


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 »


Calaca Danzanta

Just had to share this wonderful version of a Dancing Skeleton chart in filet crochet made by Carol Schoenfelder. Not only can charts be used in Fair Isle and Intarsia for knitting or crochet, they can be adopted by other media too.

This is filet crochet, formed by making holes where the motif squares normally show a contrast colour and it is great for two tone designs. Filet crochet makes wonderful lace curtains, can you imagine ''curtain twitching'' this skeleton as you spy on your neighbour's activities?



When I was a littl'un, me Naaan used to say this amusin' thang in a Janner (Plymouth, Devon to you) aaaccent

''There be piskies up to Dartymoor, An' tidden (no) gude yew zay there bain't.''

I had no ideal t'all that this was almos', a krek quote from a properr verse. I jest googled 'im, and found that akchterrrly, this in't a made up seyyin', t'is from a Piskie Verse 'bout Darrrtmooorrr as follows:


Thar be piskies up to Dartymoor,
An' tidden gude yew zay there bain't.
I've felt 'em grawpin' at my heart,
I've heard their voices callin' faint,
I've knawed a man be cruec down —
His soul fair stogged an' heavy-like —
Climb up to brawken Zaddle Tor
An' bare his head vor winds to strike.
An' all the gert black mawky griefs,
An' all the pain an' vog an' grime,
Have blawed away and left en clear
Like vuzz-bush vires in swalin' time.
An' what med do so brave a thing
As thic' white spells to tak an' weave,
But li'l piskies' vitty hands,
Or God Himself as give 'em leave ?
But tidden Him would stop an' spy
From Widdicombe to Cranmer Pule,
o maze the schemin' li'l heart
Of every Jacky- Lantern fule !
For mebbe 'tis a lonesome rod
Or heather blooth, or peaty ling,
Or nobbut just a rainy combe —
he spell that meks 'ee tek an' sing.
An' this I knaw, the li'l tods
Be ever callin' silver faint.
Thar be piskies up to Dartymoor,
An' tidden gude yew zay there bain't.



Lily and her Princessy Little Toes


Poor Lily. A couple of months ago, she started shrieking every time the nail clippers went near her claws and it was becoming difficult. We thought she was making a fuss about nothing. Then about 2 weeks ago, a nail fell off and left the bare stump of a quick which was all raw and bleeding excessively. We stopped the bleeding and assumed she had got the nail caught on something and it ripped out. Even with just one nail like this it was awkward and painful and went on for weeks, sometimes bleeding, then healing over and over.

This weekend, on Saturday night we noticed her other claws fellt a bit odd and unstable with puffy quicks bulging over the hard bit at the back. By Sun eve they were separating from the quick and by Mon morning, the claws were hanging off and some were sticking out at right angles, it was an awful mess. We took her to the vets, and she had to stay in and have every single claw removed. 


It was diagnosed, partly by us then confirmed by the vet, that she had an auto-immune condition called Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy or SLO. This is a condition that can cause severe damage to nails in the nail bed inside the toe joint, then when the claws grow they are deformed and separate from the quick. The diagnosis can be confirmed by amputating a whole toe and examining it, but that is a cruel thing to do and the symptoms are distinctive so it is best just to go ahead and treat it. It can be misdiagnosed if it happens to just one toe as either an accident or fungal nail infection. When it happens in succession to multiple toes, then it is obvious what it is.


The nails, if they do grow back may quickly crumble, or like Lily just separate and fall off leaving the living part of the claw exposed. It is a painful and bloody mess. With Lily there was no option but to have all the loose ones removed under sedation. We could not bring her home last night, or see her as it might unsettle her. The bleeding stopped about midnight apparently and she had overnight supervision from a nurse on night duty on the animal ward.

We will be going to pick her up later today and will need to take great care. No doubt it will be really painful and look very strange. It takes around 6-9 mths for new claws to grow but SLO can be a lifelong condition and they may grow back deformed and in all likelihood, she will lose the new claws repeatedly. I just have to hope it is only one at a time and infrequent. We know from her last claw lost that even a short walk can start the bleeding again. It is quite a sad thing in a dog that used to like to run so fast. At best,  dogs can appear to go into remission if supplements help them.


There are things we can do to help her new nails grow a bit better. We can supplement her diet with omega 3 and fatty acids, and make sure she has enough Vit E. We can give her other supplements and make sure she has antibiotics as the exposed quick can easily get infected. She will need regular foot baths too. We will have to lay sheets and blankets down, as she is likely to leave bloody pawprints.

If the change in diet and supplements do not work, then the last resort is steroids....if that doesn't work not sure what we will do. I just hope her inability to walk and run properly at the moment will not last long. The next couple of months will be hard for her, but we will still take her out in the car and let her stand in the park so she at least feels she has been somewhere. And, she might feel it is all worth it if she gets to eat stinky fish for breakfast every day....apparently, the best tinned salmon is what works well she says.....but only if the whole tin goes to her and she doesn't have to share with Dizzy.



If you own a greyhound yourself, take care to give them really good supplements of omega 3 and other vitamins. Don't wait until you see the nails suffer, because at that point it has taken over 3 mths to grow out of the paw and the damage is done much earlier, invisibly, inside the toes. Giving hounds etc supplements is not going to harm them if the amounts are considered safe by your vet. We did supplement Lily with her special food. However, she has other autoimmune problems like baldness around the backside and neck, a lichenoid type ulceration of her vulva and skin cysts.