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December 2021

Background to my PTSD and knitting article.


The new issue of Knitting magazine is out today and apart from some patterns by me it also contains a first person article where I talk about how knitting helps me manage bouts of anxiety caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For my own well-being I have resolved to be more open about suffering from this condition but I know that it can provoke a range of reactions. So alongside the article I thought I’d say a few things about PTSD and me. (In the future I will put a version of the article on my blog but for now you’ll only find it in the magazine)

Firstly, this revelation shouldn’t change how you see or interact with me. If you have met me as an adult, chatted via social media, emailed with me, you have almost certainly done so with someone who has PTSD. It is as much part of me as my short-sight or my hair colour.

That said as a PTSD sufferer I know from my own and other’s experiences that mention of the condition can provoke some reactions I find difficult.

Curiosity – you might want to know what caused someone’s PTSD but please don’t ask. I might tell you at a time of my own choosing but feeling obliged to think about a trauma can be triggering. Plus facing other people’s shocked reactions to some trauma stories can be a difficult experience in itself.

Judgement – there are some people who seem to want to rank trauma in some way as if some is more worthy of causing PTSD than others. Please accept that the condition exists whatever the cause. I also have arthritis in some joints but I don’t find people are nearly as curious about the causes of that chronic condition.

I would also add that there is some common ground between the sort of arthritis I have and PTSD. An accident caused long term changes to my knee joint, just as a traumatic incident caused physical changes to how my brain is wired. Physiotherapy helps my knee, talking and other mental health therapies help with my brain.

That’s what I can manage just now but I hope it is useful. And yes, knitting does help.

UPDATE 31/12/21

I don't want people to go away with the idea that my life is a constant round of nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks - and wanting to hide under the table the whole time - although there are times when those are more regular than others. What PTSD does on a daily basis is affect how I react to my environment and how I process the stimuli around me. I am a higher level of alert most of the time and surprising things can trigger panic etc.

Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a discounted pattern

Christmas 12 days


My idea of celebrating Christmas is holing up somewhere quiet with lots of cheese and yarn.

And for many the festive period especially the “Betwixtmas” days are ones when they can grab some knitting time. So, my Christmas gift to you is a 12% discount on all my patterns until 6 January on both Ravelry and Payhip with the code 12DAYS.

Just the thing is you get some lovely yarn from Santa this year – or if you are planning a stashbusting new year.

There are one skein wonders in a range of yarn weights, and patterns for gloves, hats, cowls, shawls and socks to entertain you.

Find yourself a lovely knitting treat.

Have a the fabulous festive season that suits you.



Tip of the week: The rule of 3/4 and picking up stitches

28 picking up stitches
One part of finishing that seems to ambush a lot of people is picking up stitches. 

There are two issues here. Firstly, picking up the right number of stitches evenly. Even if you place markers at the halfway and quarterway points it doesn't seem to work. Sometimes this is because your row tension is slightly different from the one the pattern. In this case, picking up the number of stitches listed in the pattern may not fit the space.

The rule of 3/4 can help here - especially on stocking stitch based patterns. To get an even edging, pick up and knit three stitches for every four row ends. This makes sense because stitch tension on stocking stitch is usually three-quarters the number for row tension, for example 21 stitches and 28 rows to 10cm is common for DK yarns. Plus by sticking to the rule missing every fourth row end you avoid bunching or uneven gapping between your picked up stitches.

A second bonus picking up stitches tip - put your needle under both parts of the edge stitch. In other words, your needle tip goes into the work in the same area as where you find your ladders for mattress stitch.

This gives a firm foundation to your picked up stitches. I often see people only using the outer loop pf the edge stitch which can stretch too much making your edging look sloppy.

Below you can see the firm foundation for the edging using both loops gives.

Guess what? You can practice on a swatch.

Tip of the Week: Mattress stitch gives you a neat finish

27 mattress stitch

Sewing up can be the thing that makes knitters reluctant to try some patterns or dissatisfied with their final product.

The answer is simple and about finding the right sewing up method. For straight seams, mattress stitch is a great choice and once you get the hang of it, an easy way to create a good finish.

Surprisingly mattress stitch in worked on the right side of your work and is easiest done over a table.

Mattress stitch is worked in the gap between the first and second column of stitches on each side of the seam. If you stretch your work slightly you will see a “ladder” between each column of stitches.

Put the pieces to be seamed side by side with the right sides facing upwards.

Thread your darning needle with a long length of yarn – I’ve used contrasting yarn here to help you see. Insert the needle under the first two rungs of the ladder between the first two columns of stitches on one side and pull the yarn through leaving a long tail.

Now move your needle to the other side and go under the first two rungs on the other side. Pull the yarn through but not tight.

Now put the needle under the next two rungs up the ladder on the first side and pull some yarn through. Repeat for the second side, and then continue working under two rungs at a time, alternating sides, until 2-3cm of the seam was been worked.

Hold the tail of yarn at the beginning of the seam and gently pull your working yarn until your seam closes neatly. Don’t pull hard because this will risk puckering the seam. Stop when you have a flat join. As you can see this creates a neat flat seam and my sewing up thread has disappeared from view.

Continue to work up the seam, taking in two rungs at a time as before. Pull the seam closed every few centimetres. At the end of the seam fasten off both ends of your sewing up yarn.

 Why not practice on some swatches? 





Give the gift of warm hands

It's definitely chilly hands weather, so as well as making myself some extra fingerless mitts, I expect Mr Penguin will need some more fingerless gloves - he is very specific that they should be gloves not mitts.
Socmed grey ham 1
I designed both Hamilton (grey) and Carmicheal (green) especially to his requirements and then discovered other men who would with the "gloves not mitts" requirement. The Hamilton pattern tends to be a favourite at this time of year with people looking for a last minute gift to make for a man in their life.
Carmicheal new 2 crop
Both types are made in DK and matching hats are also available in a discounted bundle.
Plus Carmicheal includes advice on turning these into full fingered gloves should you want to give it a go.
Wishing you all warm hands.