The moving city of stillness in all its chaos

 unexpected partner – the Wind

The 16th day of the 11th month. 2021

19 days in the city and finally, no longer is my first involuntary sense that of hearing. 

My body is not accompanied by that initial, uninvited, instinctive sense to hear before listening, which partnered me for the year I lived in the small croft house facing the sea, in Shetland.  I learned that my human body automatically responded to the anger or the brevity or the absence of the sound of the wind whipping around the house or down the chimney by hearing to listen. We gather information by hearing. but, what of it when there is nothing to hear?

I no longer need that first sense because here, in the still city, basic survival it is not a requirement – for me, though it will be for others – I think of the homeless, or abused.

To hear before the body wakes fully is about survival, it is a fully lived experience of the close surrounding external world. Hearing first is a heightened way of living dictated by surroundings.

To hear fully in this way is not heard by all – not even in a lifetime. In my case, it / was is closely related to fear. 

I am sure that the experience was heightened because I lived it alone, in unfamiliar surroundings, without a person to share any of my experiences with. If I had had someone by my side to share the initial waking of a day, I am sure the immediate sense of acute hearing would have been diluted, slower,  but I didn’t.  Living alone in extreme weather conditions is not like living alone in a city or town where the weather is halted in some sense by buildings.  

And I think that here it is uncovered – the second layer of external and internal effects that required survival techniques – being alone.  I did it all alone. Dealing with everything alone in extreme conditions multiplies sensory response –  when there is not a support network to turn to.

Humans intuitively have sensory responses to situations. When I am alone, sensory perception is heightened.

But, three weeks back in the city and I am not yet used to its silence. Even in the long queues of purring traffic, the emergency vehicle sirens, the streets of people talking, kids and dogs, it is all still and silent to me. I am surprised by the stillness of the crowded city. I am not yet used to the loss of the wind.

Stillness meaning windless.

A swapped state of experiential extreme natural elements, which almost can be looked back on as charming, but only from the comfort of a busy city. A city where the fierce weather is removed and it is not a daily battering, nerve fraying occurrence.  

Two years ago, I lived on Fair Isle for November and December and the winds did not shake that island world.  Last year, I arrived in Shetland in September and the winds did not shake my world for weeks, but this year, 2021, the winds did latterly shake my world daily. In the end, my experienced days were accompanied by the ever-present winds of between 40 and 55mph driving around the house – driving me in. But, when the exhaustion of a howling harsh wind is removed, only then can the memory of it change in to something that was maybe a dream.

So, I have lost my partner – the wind, and I am not sorry. I had craved a changing world from a city, and I got it. I experienced it fully.

23rd September 5am

Looking back through journals, I see that every entry expresses my daily companion to some extent or degree – the weather features in every written page and not as an English conversation but as an observation of how it affected the day – both positively and negatively. My closest daily companion, with all its friendliness and rage was the weather – the fog to the ground for weeks, the brightest blue sky and sea, the lashing rains, the sea spray plastering the windows, the sun sparkling, a full double rainbow as big as the world view,  the cracking open of the day light in the fold between earth, sea and sky, the extended moonlit nights, crisp crunchy ice, the crystalline constellations and stars above and the winds – all extreme, all experienced fully.


The elemental life that I so craved for five years before moving to Shetland, became my first and last daily thought – and, you might say to yourself that I knew what I was getting in to. And I will say to you, no human will ever know such extremes until you fully live it, without escape, alone with your own thoughts.  Even if you did your research for extended previous stays, it appears that the weather is changing and living with extreme winds is different.

At the end of a Shetland year, what does one desire? A windless day? A respite in weeks of fog? A walk along a beach, a street, in a park, through a gallery, by the canal or along a pedestrian shopping street? A full moonlit night? A partner? Ease in the storm? A long awaited visitor? A long train journey south? A son sitting opposite me at a table with a dinner laid out? Or a daughter’s arm place around my shoulder as she steps off the train? These are not material things. Materialism is long gone from my desire – these desires are peace.

It is easy to – guild the lily, over egg the pudding, lay it on thick, go overboard when all is beautiful and in Shetland there is plenty of beauty but when there is no longer the heart for it, it is time to go.

An inner landscape changed by an outer one. I changed into something vulnerable.

I missed my son and daughter. I missed the choice to visit them – for them to visit me.  It all changed, it went off like a light switch.

Release comes in bursts, in letting go, in acceptance. The process to understand will take time – it is complex.

True enough, I am not stirred by the sun rises in the city, nor the way in which the moon shifts. I do not have a clear unbroken view of sun or moon or sea as in the beautiful house in Shetland but I am calm in the arms of the city – both inward and out.  Nature was not enough in all its beauty. A beautiful house was not enough, in all its glory. In the end –  a painful experience which I am still slowly unravelling. I am a changed person from it . Someone told me, ‘the soul knows where it has been’

It will soon be Christmas, but before that will be a friend’s birthday – a time to celebrate with more faces in one room than I had seen in one year in Shetland.  A place to be part of something bigger than just me and a beautiful house.  

I am slowly processing so much. Slowly, slowly accepting the moving city of stillness in all its chaos. Everything is familiar but new again. Nothing yet everything has changed.

At Christmas, with a daughter, there will be a serving of dinner and memory making of family, however small but true.

I wonder if the last year was all a dream but I am assured that it was not.  And, I regret nothing, not the dream, nor the extreme move, the purchase and sale of a house within a year, the extreme move back, the terrible fall on the ferry, and now, my feeling adrift. I regret nothing because, I suppose, when my energy is high, I am a soul searching woman.

Below is an entry from my journal. I notice now that, retrospectively, the wind was creeping in. I read that I was fascinated with a sense the excitement of everything new, including the wind.

It was A dream.

15th day of the 11th Month, 2020 – one year ago.


Winter winds

Now, every day, the winds blow to some degree (except the occasional pure crystal clear still day – but they are few in Winter). By the porch, I have a creeping juniper that is growing flat to the ground, over the flags, across the stones. It seeks solace and creeps lower than the wind / under the wind.  It grows entirely horizontally covering the contours of the stones, adopting the shapes beneath it, twisting its arterial trunk backwards upon itself to grow low. This tree/bush cannot escape the wind but it has devised a way to survive. I nearly removed it for practical reasons of access but it has been a topic of conversation for anyone local – they say it is years and years old and I will respect that. I am learning each day.  It will go on creeping.

On waking, my first sense is hearing.  Before my eyes are open, I register the day by what I can hear. This is not a conscious decision, it is my living body waking to my surroundings, possibly drawing on human’s need to survive.   I now realise that anyone living in this house before me would have done the same – listened.   Weather can dictate our entire Island day. Wind is no element to strike up a fight with.  My living body listens to the day before I open my eyes.  If there is no sound of wind, sight swiftly decides the situation by looking seaward.  These sensory responses of hearing and sight take place over a nano second. 

My waking gauge  of the strength of the wind is primitive, having said that, I have unwritten and flexible wavering levels of experience.  If I can hear the sound of wind wrapping around the house, down the chimney to the blocked fireplaces or rattling the gutter downpipe in its socket – the wind tells me it is here and from which direction it arrives.  It will blow my hood down, blow the ash from the fire into a dust cloud, will make Alfie squint and fold his ears back when he exits the porch, will make my door knocker, knock as if the wind itself is trying to get in.

I was told that there is a sense of hibernation here in the winter.  I have yet to burrow down.

We have had one storm. I sat by the fire watching the fanned flames in the stove burn the coals away at a ferocious speed.  I need a capping on the chimney before next winter.  It is difficult to get anyone to come out at this time of year.  I have not yet gone through a winter but learned I need to stop the wind fanning the fire.

Yesterday was a harsh weather day.  Visible driving winds from the west full of spiteful rain, chased down the hill, across the road in sheets towards the sea.   I thought that because the house faces East with its back to the West and a hill behind the road, I might be protected from the Westerly winds but found that the wind hits the other side of the hill with high pressure. On this side of the hill is low pressure due to being protected but the low pressure sucks down the high pressure and causes Flans, which are sudden squalls of wind that are channelled in direction and take out anything in their path.  They have been known to take out residential caravans, sheds and outbuilding roofs.

I have decided, at my cost, to never leave the house now without wearing waterproof trousers during Winter.  I can be drenched in minutes without warning.  Often after brief fine weather, we have fog rolling over the hill, often accompanied by winds.  

I am finding this fascinating – taking me back to a way of life dictated entirely by weather. This I never felt in the protected city.

Growing things.

I have a small porch, and in it, I have dragged the solid garden pot plants that I had growing so calmly in Sheffield.  A jasmine, star jasmine, orange blossom, two cherry trees grown from stones and a rusty pot with Allium like fireworks.   Outside, they were all suffering.  Inside the porch, they are flourishing sheltered from the winds and salt water rain. Yesterday, rather belatedly, I dragged in the hydrangea which now resembles sticks with odd burned leaves from Sea salt in the winds.  I am hoping that they will regain strength.

Here are no Autumn Apple harvests or fir cone collecting days or bunching of dried flowers for wreaths – I will look to other ways of foraging and collecting – I have started with whale bones from whales long washed up on a shore in Scalloway. 

I am growing and learning along with the plants in the porch, and the starlings and sparrows coming for their seed breakfast.

Design and colour in Knitting Workshop Ideas for Sheffield

Call out to register interest in Sheffield workshops.

I have been back in Sheffield almost two weeks and I have found the perfect space for workshops in the city for like-minded people to meet and spend creative time knitting, learning and experimenting with colour and design for knitting. I am now considering doing two new face to face workshops in Sheffield starting in January and if you are interested, I would love you to register your interest in the form at the bottom of the workshops page here.

The workshops will be in a creative space called ‘Craft Sheffield’, owned by Sarah, who offers sewing workshops and a chance for other creative teachers (like me) to hire the space, which nestles over an old coach house yard on Abbeydale Road. You can see it below above the shop.

The studio has a large table in the middle and 10 separate workstations and a beautiful bay window with two relaxing chairs, which means there is plenty of space for a group of 10 to sit around the table and to use as break out spaces if you wish. There’s also a great little kitchen and bathroom so everything is to hand.

Access – please note that there are steps up to the entrance of the studio space – it is not on ground level, which unfortunately makes in not possible for participants who are unable to climb stairs to access the space. I’m sorry about that.

My first two face to face Sheffield workshops that I am considering are:-

Workshop 1  – Colour Blending and swatch knitting for Fair Isle motifs

Workshop 2 – Start experimenting with colour and design to start your swatch design book

Possible dates – Saturday January 8th and Saturday 15th (tbc)  10am – 2:30pm

A small synopsis of each session is written below. But if you would like an overview of each session sending to you, please contact me through the online form on the Online Workshops page here.

Colour blending swatch workshop  10am – 2:30pm – date tbc

For up to 10 people.

At this hands-on workshop, you are able to learn the basics and more difficult techniques of colour blending within Fair Isle knitting. I will do a one-hour presentation on colour blending within Fair Isle motifs,  then we will be aiming for everyone to knit a yoke sample with a tree and star in the colours of your choice.  The choice will be yours as to what motif you use to swatch and what colours to use from an abundance of 200 balls of Jamieson’s of Shetland yarn available on the table. I will show you many traditional Shetland tree and star designs and you will be able to use copies of motifs out of my swatch book or you could graph your own Shetland star motif to knit your swatch sample at the workshop.

The main learning curve of this session is to develop an understanding of how to blend colours within your own knitting projects and to develop the skill of choosing your own colours with confidence and understanding how it will turn out, therefore minimising colour mistakes. This is a session for the experimenter in us all and for those who want to learn how to successfully choose your own colours for projects rather than using the colours that the designer has chosen.

Workshop requirements: – 

If you can knit and are not an absolute beginner, and you want to learn more about colour blending and Shetland design – this is for you. Come and experiment.  This workshop is not for people who cannot knit.

At this workshop, you will learn: –

  • The basic and more difficult techniques of Shetland yoke patterns – the choice will be yours as to what motifs you use from a selection on offer.
  • How to blend colours in your knitting using the huge variety of colours on offer to create a harmonious pattern.
  • You will learn how to choose your own colours for your own projects – and not to just go with the designer’s colour choice.
  • If you love colour and textiles, you will enjoy the experimentation

What is Included in the session.

All yarn will be provided for the workshop.  You will be able to choose from a large selection of Jamieson of Shetland spindrift yarn colours provided for you to knit your swatch.

If you have not had time to finish your swatch during the workshop, you will be able to take enough yarn home to finish your sample.

A full set of workshop Handouts on colour blending, tree and star patterns and how to colour blend.

All tea, coffee, biscuits and cake provided during the workshop

Workshop 2

Swatch/design book Saturday 10am – 2:30pm date tbc

for up to 10 People.

This is a hands-on experimental workshop where you are able to learn the basics and more difficult techniques of colour blending within Fair Isle knitting to make your own experimental knitted swatches sing in the colours you want.  I will do a one hour presentation on colour blending  and the benefits of swatching for your knitting projects. Swatching isn’t torture – it’s a great way to understand quickly if your colour choices will work or not. It’s a great way to learn, show progression and learning.  We will be aiming for everyone to graph out a motif of your choice or you can use photo copies of motifs that I have already graphed out (to save time) for your first swatch and your new sketch book. I will photocopy motifs from traditional Shetland pattern books and you’ll be able to choose a motif that you like most then you will be able to choose the colours you would like to use from an abundance of 200 balls of Jamieson’s of Shetland yarn available on the table. The choice will be yours as to what motif you use to swatch and which colours you will use.

The main learning curve of this session is to get excited about experimenting with Shetland motifs and to knit it a swatch in the colours you choose.  It will start your journey of your own swatch/sketch book.

I will bring along my design sketch books from my Masters at Nottingham Trent University and you’ll be able to see how swatching develops your skills analysing what colours work and what doesn’t and even why.

Workshop requirements: – 

If you can knit and are not an absolute beginner, and you want to learn more about colour blending and how to really experiment with Shetland motifs and colour – this is for you.  It would be a good workshop for a textile student to develop ideas for sketch books.  This workshop is not for people who cannot knit.

What is Included in the session.

All yarn will be provided for the workshop.  You will be able to choose from a large selection of Jamieson of Shetland spindrift yarn colours provided for you to knit your swatch.

If you have not had time to finish your swatch during the workshop, you will be able to take enough yarn home to finish your sample.

A full set of workshop Handouts and graph paper.

All tea, coffee, biscuits and cake provided during the workshop

If you are interested in the above workshops, please go to my workshop page and complete the form at the bottom to register interesthere   

Happy knitting, happy learning, happy experimenting – visit Sheffield.

Testimonial – Alice Hartnell – I attended Tracey’s colour blending workshop during a holiday in Shetland.  The venue, Traceys croft, definitely added to the experience but the workshop was fascinating and informative.  I could knit but had no previous experience of colour blending, Tracey explained the theory using her own work to illustrate.  She encouraged us to choose colours for our own blending, explaining why some worked and some didn’t.  Once we had settled on our colours we knitted a sample to test our choices.  The day was well paced, Tracey had a knowledgeable but approachable style and I came away feeling I had learned a lot about the use of colour in knitting.  Highly recommended!

Smola – a replaced blog from November 2020

I came to Smola in the 57th year of my life, wondering if it was foolish, due to age, aloneness, no income, no idea of future with two cats in a cat pram, arriving in a storm.

I still wonder those things, but will be patient with myself and life.

There are real highs and fairly low lows but I am in the right place, I know it.  This place in time belongs to me and how I live it. I should not worry, I should just continue and be the best person I can be for myself and towards others. 

I’ve said it before but I will remind myself that, Anais Nin said, ‘we do not see things as they are but as we are’ .

Yesterday, I called in at John’s who said speak to Jim, so I went to Jim’s and Martin was there too, they were off to a funeral and Jim was gracious with his time with me. He told me of Susanna (Susan, Cissie) who lived in the house that I now live in and that he was sent, as a child, to get the milk from her.  She had one cow and rowed the little milk bills up on a shelf in the porch, the same porch that I have.  He was a young boy – he told me of his house too, so much history in every place.  After,  I walked out of Jim’s old back gate, across the tufted grass,  down the bank and on to the beach, along the length of it then up the south bank to come up behind the cemetery. I stupidly and possibly unempathetically, didn’t think that the funeral would be at Levenwick, so when I saw the people all in black with face masks arriving, I left.  

But Martin, spoke with Raymond who came to see me today with the most wonderful handful of photos of photos of Susanna Halcrow (Susan, Cissie, or even Zizzie) and I saw, for the first time, a face to a name of a woman who lived in my old house for many years. She was born on the 6th February 1876 and Died 4th January 1960 – she was 83 and what a beautiful picture she was.  Raymond brought me 4 photos of Cissie and 4 of John, that had been left in the house before his Aunt Alice lived in it. Raymond remembers it well. I had seen John in a photo before –   John Halcrow, who one day walked out of that front door of the old porch facing the sea in Levenwick and never came back – he died in the battle of Jutland 31st May 1916.    I am beginning to gather the stories of the lives in this old house – some sad and this one of war and loss and a wonderful looking woman called Susan with a dog called Ralph.  So, if Tiggy will allow me,  I will also get a new puppy and call him Ralph too.  The woman looking back at me, who appears to have only worn dresses, gives me strength and look – the group are leaning against the wall that still surrounds this tiny house that used to be called Croft number 7 and Ralph sits upon it too.   Susan looks absolutely calm and I want her to know that I already love her old house which is now called Smola and hope to share it with other women who possess  a love of the wild and windy Levenwick and the old authentic place with a wall around it. And I think my next knitting pattern will be named Cissie.

With great thanks and appreciation to Raymond Irvine.

Two letters – a replaced blog from November 2020

Yesterday, a witch wrote to me from Idaho.   What did she see in me that I do not yet see or acknowledge in myself.  She said that we would have been called witches – it was, and I took it as, a compliment.  My hair is becoming shaped and reshaped by the wind, knotted at the neck. Since being so far North, it has taken on a grass-like quality.  A little like a long cat’s tail with a curl at the end –  like a plait made of grass.

Tiggy purrs loudly beside me with watery eyes. His coat is wet from his night hunt in the rain – thankfully, he came back empty mouthed.

Today, 25th November, is the day I can open a letter I wrote to myself exactly one year ago to the day.  Also in the envelope is the letter I wrote to myself the year before.  The letters write what I hope for myself for the coming year, what I think I ought to do, try to aim for and wish for. I always forget what I wrote in the letter (s).  Today is the day to find out what I was thinking.  Here are both letters written to myself – word for word.

25th November, 2019, Upper House, Brindister, Shetland.

Dearest Tracey, So many things have happened since you wrote to yourself one year ago.  Some of the hopes have come true – risk taking, finding a path that is true to you, becoming more open.  
There is one thing you did but need to continue doing – that was to make calculated decisions and stick with them.  

You need to really decide now, because you are at a cross roads – what will you decide?  – here – I’ll list a few options.

Get an artist studio @SI Get an interesting job in Sheffield p/t – like arts co-ordinator

Sell the flat to buy in Shetland

Look to rent a place in Shetland for a year to see what happen
Apply for the Phd @ NTU – 2 options there

You WILL NOT get a full time office job – that’s for sure.

Tracey, choose a path.

Your patience has paid off lately.  Patience waiting @ SHU, patience with the situation last month, have patience with S because I think if you could have anything – it would be a growing, deepening relationship.

You learned to love on FI and you were loved also.

Do not forget that love in the coming year.   Open up more to love, Give more of yourself and of gifts of time – Just give

Volunteer, if you feel lost when you return to Sheffield. 

I wish for you, that your creativity flourishes – that you grow creatively  –  that the path you started to carve when you took VR is more deeply carved and you are on a great journey of self.

Be kind, be open be love and loved.  Xxx

Also, in the envelope was the letter from 6th November 2018, which I opened on 6th November 2019 by the sea whilst living on Fair Isle.  I took Lola, way before dawn and we walked to the North of the Island and I sat on a rock and opened the letter written to myself exactly a year before.

6th November 2018. 

Dearests Tracey.

Be kind to yourself.  To push yourself every minute is not entirely fruitful.

Take those moments to continue to be real, more real, most real.

What is this real?  What is the shape and colour of this reality?

Build on what touches your core, opens you up, loses you deeper into the life that is ever present. 

Wellbeing – basics – go to more yoga, keep going swimming, wear your cycling helmet, talk to dogs, wave at kids, book those trains, ferries, planes. 

Remember ( the distance between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash)

I hope in one year that you will have carved a path that is entirely true to you, a place that you are happy to work, a place of wellbeing, a place of some kind of contentment ringed by periodic risk taking.  Don’t stop taking risks.  Be true to the real reasons.  Do not blame.  What do you want for yourself for in one year?  

To be less (not isolated, not alone, not single – but more open to a partnership with someone – will you ever find that – that thing?

You are still on a journey – be patient, it will grow.   So much growth already, but we never stop developing ourselves, do we?

I hope that you will be more professionally fulfilled.   You take calculated risks but actually, you should make calculated decisions and stick with them.

Do you want to live on the Tibetan Plateau for a month – if so, do it.  This is now.   What do I want now for you in the future?  I want you to be sound and happy.  Eric would say during yoga, ‘comfort and stability’ whilst standing on one leg.  I want contentment and joy, or excitement and joy, or health and connection.  Does it have to be two things only?  No. 

I want you to grow more sound in your wellbeing, more connected to people, more open to those things that you can have, break through any fear, give more of yourself to others, open yourself to others because you already make opportunities.

Be pure, be you – 6th November 2018.

Midnight, 25th November 2020, Shetland.   

Two years later – I am outside, in the small road by my broken gate and the old wall surrounding my small house, under a sea of stars in this clear Shetland sky.

The Plough is not above me, as it was in Sheffield, but to the North.  the aurora is showing but I cannot see it with my eye. To see it through a six second open shutter is to stretch time, hold time in one frame as if holding my breath to catch the dancing green light.  I will wait.

Already the inside of the windows in the porch and bedroom are clouded with condensation through their touch with the outside cold.  Here on the bench, for the first time in weeks, I see the sea, the stars, the moon and smell the heady scent of peat fire smoke.  All the world is here within the stars, the universe, the sea with its horizon line lit at midnight by the light of the moon, the old stone walls built and rebuilt over almost 2 centuries surrounding this house. All these things turn on the axes of the earth and will still be here long after I have gone. 

The cats have taken themselves to bed.

Tomorrow, I will write myself a third letter of what I hope for myself to come for the year ahead.  3 letters in one envelope to read a year from now – so many changes already – so many to come

.26th November

I nearly deleted this post as it makes me feel open to criticism by being completely vulnerable but I read a beautiful comment which made me leave these words in the hope that it may make you stop, just for a moment. And, then I looked at some of the great changes I have made – moved house, moved 1,000 miles from city to island, had a year of making, of helping people at the NHS, of being brave, taking risks, being open, started designing small knitting projects, started driving again after over 12 years of not driving a car, written words, taken photos, dug out a byre, researched a woman who lived in this house facing the sea. To date, this is my most meaningful creative piece – it may be a hat but it encompasses over 40 years of my knitting, of travel, of recognising strong women. The life that has inspired this latest pattern is a woman that lived in this very house I write in for 83 years, looked out of the same windows and door on to that vast ocean and sky. I called the Pattern Good Wishes for the New Year – Here it is

Here she is

Ravelry: Good Wishes for the New Year pattern by Tracey Doxey

Ravelry: Designs by Tracey Doxey

Notes on the weight of colour

For me, choosing colour for my knitting projects (and even my home) comes in many forms, from many points of inspiration but always from really looking – I mean really looking, and feeling.  

Colour is a personal development of experience from seeing colour choice mistakes and understanding the mistakes to tweak them to make the piece sing. Colour choice is about experimenting and being excited to try new colour combinations as well as recognition of combinations through the tactile feel of yarn in my hands.

Colour comes from the edge of where sea meets sand or from looking at an old red gate with rusted hinges hanging off, once cared for – inspiration – not just seen but also felt.

Colour is in movement – the movement of the sea, of the eddying mist, the fog that drops like a blind and a flan or flann of wind (A sudden squall of wind blowing from high land over the sea- or in my case, over the hill behind the house, around a corner to find me)  which knocks me sideways. 

Anyone who has taken one of my colour blending workshops will hear what I say.

This is how I work. Colour invades me from different angles like the waves – always undulating, telling a story, many stories of winds and moon and sun affecting the tides. These things touch me. Colours undulate.

Colour also comes from a place of gratitude in seeing the small things – the bigger details of life.

I am always site responsive.  That means, I respond to the purity of a specific moment in a specific place which moves me. I figure out why it moves me enough to write about it, to see it through my eyes to sense the place or moment, to feel it personally  – the nature of a knitted row takes in not only yarn and the movement of my hands but the memory of the event which has moved me. It could be a first sight – such as inspired the Smola set of scarf, mitts and hat, inspired by a red gate, the peat cut by hand from the hills, stacked bagged and burned  on the fires, the smoke taken in on a quiet evening sitting on a bench below the chimney and then there is the movement of the sea. I suppose colour can be sensory for me. I don’t just grab colours for a project – the story and the idea dictate my colour choices.

Here is an extract from the story with the ‘Dear Susan’ Pattern. ‘Outside, I Inhale the heady scent of peat smoke, as a hundred women must have done so before me. Standing on to the hand-hewn flag stone veranda that skirts the front of the house, I take in the heady scent of the previous night’s peat fire smoke lingering in the air.  The grey sky is touching the grey sea beholding all that is in front of me, under my feet and behind me within the stones of this old house.’

And again here:-

I’ve likened this sharp first breath outside to that of when I lived in China. It is the sharp clear smell.  Here, the first air is heavy with last night’s peat smoke scent. In China, when I lived in the hutongs, it was braziers, left out in the lanes, lit in the evenings with charcoals for light and warmth.  There were no street lights there either. It’s the same combination of mixed senses.  Smell of coals, smoke and the biting freezing sharp air, backed by a rising sun. With this combination, I am instantly taken back to China. But I stand here, in frozen Shetland.

Senses enter the knitting and the colour choices.

In my workshops, I say, ‘go out and choose your colours with your heart.’ But now I see that there is something more to it for me and that is to ‘feel’ the elements of colour. Feel the moment.

I develop from mistakes. What I saw to be really interesting 2 years ago, I have developed into a movement of colour.  Below is my development from Shetland Wall Flowers pattern to the Smola colours and pattern.

The Smola Beanie, though my cheapest pattern at £2.50, cheaper than a brief cup of coffee in a café, is my most sophisticated in colour choice embodying light, sea, eddying mist, an old red gate, the scent of peat smoke, a walk where sea meets sand at an ever changing pace and place. It moves from light to dark in more ways than one.  A solitary, singular figure connecting with surroundings and landscapes.

If you would like to join me on a colour blending session which will make you see differently, I have added New online colour blending workshop dates to the website :-

Wednesday 24th November   2-4pm UK time

Wednesday 1st December   2-4pm UK time

Saturday4th December 2-4pm UK time

Sunday 5th December 2-4pm UK time

Smola trio of hat, scarf and gloves are here.