So, I think I’ve made the most perfect winter hat ever

I love hats. I love grey. I love cold winter weather and the fact that I have to wear hats most days (as my hair grooming is minimal, hat hair is actually a useful frizz tamer in my case. Seriously.) Anyway, for many years, my go-to hat has been a version of Ysolda’s Snapdragon Tam I knitted at least five years ago. I remember knitting it in a camel/merino blend that was lovely and warm and the pattern was the first complex design I attempted. I loved that hat.

However, it was getting old and I couldn’t find it after the move anyway. The winter of 2014-15 required a new hat. I set about searching Ravelry for a new hat that I could knit in grey (it is my favourite colour for knitwear, after all.) I found and fell in love with the unisex Dustland hat by Stephen West/Westknits.

How it should look. Image: Stephen West/

How it should look.
Image: Stephen West/

I eagerly bought the pattern and the yarn- I chose Drops Merino Extra Fine in Light Grey mix. I bought two balls and used one and a half when making the small size.

I LOVED this pattern. It’s simple, but with enough stitch variation in the construction- knit and purl used to make interesting patterns that WOULD NOT BE PHOTOGRAPHED BY ME FOR LOVE NOR BLOODY MONEY- that I stayed interested. I love the style too; it’s a slouchy, relaxed hat that can have the addition of a button to tack down the extra fabric if need be, but I chose not to add this, as I liked the style as it was. It’s a smart, yet comfy and sloppy-in-a-good-way hat that I think I will be wearing for years to come. You have to make it.


This was the best photo I could take of me wearing the hat, but at least it’s proof I finished it! Anyway, knit it. Even if you’ve not knit much before, you should be OK with this. Trust me, I’m a knitter.

Losing my mojo

Today has been a bit of an odd day. The cold weather I have wanted for so long has finally come (any chance of some snow? Please?!) and I’ve kind of gone into ‘hibernating mode’.

I usually, when this happens, pick up my knitting needles. But I have no desire to at all. It’s been the same all week. At first, I thought it was just because I have had an insanely busy week, which looks to continue into next week too. I tried to do a bit of knitting. It wasn’t fun. I tried a bit of the Ongoing Monster Tapestry* that I have knocking around. I did a bit, but then got bored. It is weird having no creative juices at all. Even my writing has gone to pot. There is nothing in my head- not one creative thought excites me. I have no desire to make anything, or to write a sentence of the ‘novel’ I’m writing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

This troubles me. I am used to running around like a mad thing, my head fizzing with ideas, my brain all keen and enthusiastic to such a degree that I would out-perk even the perkiest, most wholesome Mid-Western college student in a rom-com. I know I am tired and a bit stressed and a bit listless. But this is ridiculous.

Instead, I spent today sorting out my Ladies in Monochrome blog, buying a proper domain name, importing the whole thing over to WordPress, setting up a dedicated Twitter feed and scanning and sorting photos. All a bit boring, really. It’s all I could manage and the sorting and organising made part of my brain very happy indeed.

I’m going to try and rectify this grave situation by sitting down with The Killing season 1 and hoping that I can muster up the energy to knit a bog-standard, no thought sock.

*The Ongoing Monster Tapestry is actually a really very pretty, if large, William Morris design.

Creative brain freeze

So, today was my first day back at work. It’s interesting how getting back to normality seems to have sparked something in my brain… over the Christmas holidays, I found that a gem of an idea floated into my head, but now it’s sort of crystallising. I find it really hard to discipline my brain, as it scatters over lots of different ideas, which is not great when I’m trying to focus!

It’s really hard to explain how my brain works when I’m trying to write something. Whatever it is, my brain decides to go off on all sorts of tangents. I think this explains my love of researching a topic to absolute death- even as a kid I enjoyed getting every book I could find on a subject and reading it from cover to cover. Dinosaurs, dogs, pandas, Marilyn Monroe,  Ireland- all these things have been subject to my voracious appetite for knowing stuff. I might have no common sense, but I can tell you all about Lewis Carroll or answer a pub quiz question about dinosaurs. My brain just… retains stuff. (It might not surprise you to know that I’m hoarder of things as well as facts. All I can say is thank goodness stuff like Kindles and external hard drives were invented. I don’t think I’d be able to move in the house otherwise.)

So yeah, I’ve started the research on this potentially fascinating thing, but can I write any words down? Can I heck. I tried yesterday and managed a bit, before the evil voice inside started whispering to me how rubbish my idea was and that my sentence structure was all over the place. I even read the Guardian’s guide to unleashing creativity today to no avail. It just won’t come.

I think problem is that I haven’t pinned down the main character. It’s like she’s there, but faceless, like some horrific Doctor Who villain (there was a faceless one, right? Where the features of a person disappeared? Or am I dreaming?) I know all sorts about her, but I don’t have her name. I know how her story sort of pans out, but I can’t go any further until I have a face and a name. Until I can christen her, I’ll have to people watch and pore over photos and think really, really hard. And that’s kind of fun, but also exhausting and frustrating.

Sometimes, I’m asked to write stuff for other blogs/magazines/websites (which, by the way, if you want me to write for you, I’d totally be up for it. Email me!) This can equally be hard, as the ideas bounce around inside my brain and I try and streamline them into something that resembles an article. After all, I did study journalism at a fairly good university, so you’d think I should be able to use the skills.

Can I also add, that because of this stupid way of thinking, I don’t drive? I get too distracted by cows and birds to focus on the road. I have accepted my lot as one of life’s passengers (in the driving way. I’m very proactive otherwise.)