A week long workshop at The Watermill at Posara, Tuscany

Last week I arrived in Pisa, Italy to hold a week long hand knit workshop at a beautiful watermill set deep into the Tuscan mountains. I was invited to run a workshop at ‘The Watermill at Posara’ earlier in the year, in fact, my first one should have been in May but because of my heart attack I had to cancel it. Having not done anything like this before, I really didn’t know what to expect but I needn’t have worried as I was delighted to find that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole week. The ladies booked on the workshop were simply lovely, Bill and Lois (the hosts and owners of the mill) were great and the food, scenery and of course the knitting, all fabulous! Even my husband, Mark, who came along to ensure that I didn’t do too much, enjoyed the experience. In fact he was a huge hit with the group and helped create a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Here is a detailed breakdown of my very pleasant week, hope you enjoy reading about it…

Mark and I arrived in Pisa in the early evening of Friday 18th July. It was very warm and humid as we made our way by taxi to the Royal Victoria Hotel on the banks of the River Arno. This hotel, largely unchanged since the 1950′s had an air of faded grandeur and better times long gone. The staff were very welcoming and friendly though and our room very grand (in a 50′s way), clean and comfortable. All in all we enjoyed our one night’s stay. Within the hour we were out and about exploring Pisa, an Italian city I’ve never visited before. In the past I’d only experienced the inside of Pisa airport and the train station on my way to Florence on various work trips. This small and compact city is typically Italian and owes it’s fame to (you guessed it!) the leaning tower.


As we approached, the tower seemed to be leaning at an impossible angle but as we walked around it, it straightened up!




After enjoying the sights, we then found the lovely small restaurant called Osteria La Mescita that the hotel receptionist kindly recommended, and what a find it was! The restaurant served traditional Tuscan food which was simple and delicious. Around 10pm we ventured out into the Pisa nightlife and the city was alive with the hustle and bustle of Italian promenading. It was great to see lots of people, young and old, enjoying the balmy night in a friendly and happy way. We stood for a while on one of the many bridges crossing the Arno and watched with surprise, coypus (or river rats)! At first we thought they were otters, but we have since learnt that they were in fact coypus, which are now common along the shores of the Arno.


After a simple breakfast the next morning we left the Royal Victoria Hotel to go to the airport to meet up with the transport that was going to take us to the watermill. Here we met four of the ladies, Gail from New York, Sue from California, Cathy from Dubai and Annie from Torquay! They all seemed very pleased to meet me (which I always find surprising!) and then we headed off in a mini bus to the Tuscan hills. After a drive of about a hour and ten minutes we arrived at The Watermill to be met by a very smiley Lois, I liked her immediately and very quickly Mark was helping to carry the ladies bags to their rooms. Gail was going onto a wedding in Sweden after the week so her bag was very heavy, poor Mark!


View of The Watermill from the garden


A view from the courtyard

Mark and I then found our room and unpacked. We then sat in the courtyard enjoying the sunshine and waited for the other ladies to arrive. There were 11 ladies in total and the course was fully booked. Later that day we met Jeanice and her daughter Maggie from Indiana, Jami from Kentucky, Tabby from California, Alison from Leeds, Kay from Nottingham and Margaret from Uppermill, Saddleworth. The mill has 11 bedrooms in total, some with ensuite bathrooms and some sharing a bathroom with another room. All the ladies were thrilled with their rooms and it wasn’t long before we were all getting to know each other over a glass (or two) of the house speciality cocktail! That evening we had dinner at the local restaurant in the town of Fivizzano, this lovely small medieval walled town is only a mile and half away so myself, Mark and Margaret decided to walk there and back. Walking is such a great way of seeing the local area and the views were tremendous. It was uphill most of the way but at least we knew it would be an easier walk coming back. After a fabulous Tuscan meal of local pasta dishes, cheeses, meats and salads, we headed our way back to the mill. The walk back was quite magical, there were hundreds of fire flies glowing with little dots of dancing lights illuminating our way back, it really was beautiful!

Sunday was the first workshop day, the whole day was at the mill. After a leisurely breakfast we started project one, a Mosaic Cushion knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. Firstly, I talked through the two projects for the week and then explained the technique of mosaic knitting. This is a simple way of adding colour into knitting without having to strand the colours as only one colour is worked at a time. The hardest thing is to learn that the chart refers to knit and slip stitches and not necessarily the colour!

Close up.

Project One – Mosaic Cushion

I’m actually holding this workshop again in my home village on the 11th October. If you wish to come along then book very soon as there are only 4 places left, to book go to my website. The ladies really enjoyed this project and hadn’t done anything like it before. A few of them struggled a little but when they understood that the chart shows the different stitches and not necessarily the colours, they progressed really well. In fact Jami, Alison and Jeanice finished theirs, with Jami adding a border to hers to make a larger cushion front, it looked fab!

We carried on with the project on Monday, unfortunately the weather was not good, a bit cold and rainy and it was a shame we couldn’t knit outside in the garden. But we started off inside and then Bill took us all to a local convent called the Convento die Carmine to have lunch and have a look around. This fascinating building is privately owned by a family who have converted the upper floors into apartments. They have done a fantastic job of restoring the beautiful frescoes that line the ceilings and walls of the cloisters.


The courtyard of the Convent


The cloisters


A beautiful fresco


After a relaxed picnic lunch and after lots of chat we headed back to mill to finish off the afternoon knitting. A lovely local lady called Marella was the cook for dinner and it was fantastic.

Tuesday morning was market day at the local town of Fivizzano. Myself, Mark and Kay took a leisurely stroll up to the town. The market which is held in the main square each week is a small delight of local cheeses, meats and vegetable stalls as well as clothing, bric a brac and homeware. It was a good chance for Mark and I to have a good look round…


The main square of Fivizzano – taken the day after the market!


Another view


The bell tower

 Other views of Fivizzano…IMG_2848



 After a snack and a delicious ice cream at the gelataria, we all headed back to the mill for an afternoon of knitting. Mark and I walked back and below are some of the views encountered on the way back to the mill…



The church bell tower of Posara can be seen in the distance

As the weather was lovely and warm we met up in the garden and I introduced everyone to project two. This project was about cabling. I had three different designs that could be worked on, each one used two balls of Rowan Cocoon. Everyone could choose which one they wanted to complete once they had they knitted a swatch of all three. Most of the ladies chose the cable wave and the bulky cable scarf whilst a few chose the garter stitch cowl…


Cave Wave Scarf


Bulky Cable Scarf

Garter Stitch Cable Cowl

Again, I’m holding this workshop again at home on September 27th. There are places still available so if you want to book then go to my website. The ladies really like this project as each scarf or cowl uses a different cabling technique not normally used.

Wednesday was my day off! The ladies had a choice to go to either the Cinque Terre (five traditional fishing villages which are now a world heritage site) or to the beautiful medieval city of Lucca. Mark and I could have gone but I thought I should be sensible and rest. We had a slow amble up to Fivizzano in the morning, enjoyed a coffee and I took some photographs and then we walked back to have lunch with Bill and Lois and their two lovely girls, Lydia and Lara. After lunch we walked around the gardens and grounds and then sat by the river, Mark reading and me crocheting! Here are some pictures of the beautiful surroundings of the mill…


The old part of the mill



The mill race


The river in the grounds



The bamboo forest




Old mill stones


A view from the garden



Lois did the cooking the rest of the week and what a fab cook she is, she really spoiled us and I must email her to ask for various recipes! Everyone was really tired when they returned from their trip so Thursday was a day of relaxed knitting either in the garden, patio or indoors. Friday was our sadly our last day and we had a special morning planned. Bill took us further up into the mountains to a beautiful restaurant and small hotel in Monte die Bianchi. Here we sat in the grounds and on the veranda whiling away a few pleasant hours knitting and chatting. We were then served a magnificent lunch of local Tuscan cuisine… life does not get much better!


A view from the restaurant



The friendly donkey


Knitting on the veranda


 We then had Friday afternoon free to do as we wanted …..I just relaxed! We then all met up in the evening and enjoyed a wonderful last meal cooked by Marella. Later that evening there were some sad goodbyes and the promise to keep in touch, which hopefully we will.

I want to thank firstly, all the ladies that made my first workshop week special, Bill and Lois for their fabulous hospitality and to Mark for looking after me. I am holding two workshops at The Watermill in May and September next year, if you are interested in joining me then register your interest with The Watermill. I’ve not decided what the projects will be yet, but I’m thinking of something with fair isle and colour work! I’ll finish here with some images of the old mill workings which I found fascinating……….


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Ciao, arrivederci….

Lakeland – collection two review

I’m so excited that my second book ‘Lakeland’ is now out and available to buy from my website and from Rowan stockists. To celebrate this fact I thought I would tell you about the shoot and give you a look at the designs…….

Lakeland cover

Lakeland – my second collection

The photography shoot for Lakeland is one that I will never forget….not because it was a beautiful location and Georgia and the clothes looks fabulous, it was because in the early of the morning I had my main heart attack (not that I knew it at the time!) Regardless of this, I felt fine when I woke up on that last Wednesday in April and we made our way to Shacklabank Farm just outside Sedbergh in Cumbria to do the shoot. The team was the same as for Windswept, my lovely friends: Peter Christian Christensen – Photographer, Frances Prescott – Hair & Make Up and Georgia Waters – Model. 


Shacklabank Farm

I met Alison O’Neill, the Shepherdess of Shacklabank Farm at a Campaign for Wool event in Kendal back in October last year. We immediately had an instant rapport and a mutual appreciation of each others tweeds (Alison’s) and hand knits (I was wearing Anatolia from Mag 54). We decided to keep in touch and Alison offered that I could use her farm as a location for one of my photography shoots, so it was just over six months later that I was back in Cumbria using some of Alison’s fabulous tweeds as styling for the Lakeland collection and photographing at her lovely farm. Check out the tweeds at her Shepherdess website


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Alison and some of her Rough Fell sheep

jacket hunting macleod large

A Shepherdess tweed jacket

We started the shoot with Windermere, this design happens to be one of my favourites and is one of Georgia’s as she chose this in return for modelling for me! Knitted in Rowan Fine Tweed, it’s a two colour fairisle design so it relatively easy for someone new to fairisle knitting to do.




Windermere close up…well it’s a beautiful photograph of Georgia!

The next design we photographed was Scafell. I decided I wanted to have Georgia feeding some of Alison’s Rough Fell sheep. Alison gave Georgia a lesson in how to hold the bucket and how to shake it to get the sheep to follow her….it was quite funny to witness…..poor Georgia, but she did really well and actually enjoyed being amongst the sheep! Knitted in the fab Rowan British Sheep Breeds Chunky, this design is another of my personal favourites.




Alison shows how it’s done!



 Coniston was the next design to be photographed, this is a great yoke sweater design using a star stitch stripe as the yoke and a traditional celtic cable on the body. The design has optional crochet trims running up each side of the body cable panels. Of course it’s up to you if you add these trims or not but they do make the designs look rather special!

Coniston_03_001 1


Coniston_03_040 Coniston_03_107 Ennerdale is a great poncho design…….  



 After photographing Ennerdale we then moved closer to the farm house to shoot the last four garments…..we decided to work through lunch and to have something to eat later after we had finished as the weather forecast was not great later in the afternoon!

We first shot Derwent with Georgia playing with one of Alison’s sheep dogs. This is a heavily cabled jacket, great to wear on one of those country ramblings on a cold winter’s day. 





 Buttermere is another favourite of mine and also Alison loved this design as she kept it! I’m having another one knitted at the moment! Knitted in Rowan Fine Tweed it uses a simple tweed stitch and plain moss stitch panels. The lovely crochet trims on the front really do make this cardigan really special…I hope you agree?




 Cumbria is another favourite, I’ve already worn this design a few times, it’s just a great oversized shape perfect to throw on with jeans.




Ullswater Loop Scarf_09_004

Ullswater loop scarf worn with Cumbria

 Next was the lovely Kendal snood, great to wear over a jacket or coat….Georgia enjoyed taking a friendly sheep for a walk!

Kendal Snood_10_088

Kendal snood

Kendal Snood_10_047

 I wanted to shoot the last garment design inside the farm house, so we shot Georgia in Alison’s lovely cosy front parlour. Grasmere is a lovely fitted sweater similar in style to Dill from Windswept. 


Grasmere with Appleby table mat on the table



Finally here are some of the images of the homeware designs….the Rowan British Sheep  Chunky yarn is really great to felt with and it felts perfectly at 60 degrees in a washing machine….hope you like these projects.

Cartmel Felted Rug_14_004

Cartmel felted rug

Bowness Square Cushion_13_009

Bowness square cushion

Ambleside & Cartmel_05_027

Ambleside round cushion with the felted rug

 I would love to know what you think of Lakeland, I’m really happy with it!

Happy knitting………











Workshop and website update

Just thought I would let you know that I’ve just updated my website which includes some new images and a slideshow of my new ‘Lakeland’ book. Also shown is the updated workshop page. I’ve changed the layout and I’ve now added details of my next three workshops, the images and details are shown below….hope you like the website and workshop updates. For more information on each of the workshops and to book please go to my website


The Mosaic Patterned Rug

The mosaic lap rug is the workshop that I had to postpone because of my recent illness. It should have been held on the 31st May but it’s now been moved to Saturday 6th September. Consequently not everyone booked on for the 31st May could make the new date so I’ve now got 3 places left! Mosaic knitting is a simple technique of adding colour into knitting using garter stitch. The rug is created by leaving stitches of the first pattern on a holder or thread and then picking up at each side of the pattern and knitting the next mosaic pattern and so on…..Here are some close up images of the rug.


The next workshop on the 27th September is a cabling workshop. The idea is to give those who are not confident in knitting cables the chance to have a go and see how easy it really is! You will be shown how to knit the cables on three designs – two scarves and a snood. Then you will have the choice which of the three you want to work on (there is  enough yarn provided to finish one of the designs), although you will be given the patterns for all three. Here are the images of all three designs on offer.

Bulky cable twist scarf

Bulky cable twist scarf

Here are some close ups of this scarf….




Next is the Cable wave scarf…..

Cable wave scarf

Cable wave scarf

and some close ups…..


and the finally the snood, a simple garter stitch cable.

Garter stitch cable snood

Garter stitch cable snood

the close up….

 Finally the last workshop on my website is the Mosaic cushion. This is an extra workshop at the request of a small group of American ladies that are making the trip over to Hoby for a workshop with me. So if you want to come along and join then you will be most welcome. The cushion uses the same mosaic knitting technique as the rug. Here are some images….

Mosaic cushion

Mosaic cushion

 and close ups…..


Windswept close ups

I was asked (a while back!) to post some close up images of the crochet trims on some of the designs in Windswept. So hear they are….hope you find them helpful. I’ve also added a front and back image of Parsley to those of you how what to make this design longer in length. The easiest way to do this is to just add an extra pattern repeat in the section below the armhole shaping.














Parsley back


Parsley back


This is a close up of the trim on Dill (my original swatch). I’m afraid I haven’t got the garment as it was a gift to Peter (the photographer) for his wife.



A big thank you!

I want to send you all a big thank you for all the lovely comments, emails and twitter messages I have received after posting about my recent heart attack. I was very taken aback by the amazing response I’ve had to this post and that everyone seems to have appreciated my detailed account. What started out as a bit of therapy for myself has turned out to help people, women in particular, to recognise the symptoms of having a heart attack.

I’m thankfully very much on the mend and for the last couple of weeks have felt more like my normal self. I have my first assessment at the cardiac rehab centre this coming Monday. During this assessment my fitness will be tested and they will go through want has happened to me, my drugs and my proposed exercise program. I’ll let know how I get on!

I also have a follow up appointment with the Professor that carried out the stenting procedure towards the end of August but I’m still waiting for an appointment to have a few more tests as I’m still getting heart palpitations, I’m sure all is fine but they should want to check me out.

I’m actually going into the Rowan office tomorrow, the first time for over 8 weeks! I’m a bit apprehensive about driving all that way (88 miles door to door) but I’m sure I’ll be fine and I’ve got all the Rowan Ambassadors to meet, so I’m looking forward to that!

You never know what’s around the corner, a heart attack maybe!!

As I’m now feeling a bit better I thought I would share with you the events of the last four weeks. Some of you may already know but I suffered a heart attack on the 30th April! The main heart attack was in the early hours of Wednesday 30th April as I’d just finished a cushion that I was photographing later that day as a part of my second book ‘Lakeland’. Ironically I didn’t realise I was having a heart attack at the time, after all why would a fit and healthy 49 year old think she was having one!

Myself, Peter (photographer), Frances (hair & makeup) and the lovely Georgia (model) had a not very nice meal at the pub in Sedbergh, Cumbria. We all had the same thing, a steak and ale pie which really was not great. I remember thinking at the time that this was going to repeat on me and I only managed to eat a third of it, whilst Peter had eaten the whole plateful! Anyway later that night I was ready to get into bed when all of a sudden I had a crushing pain in the centre of my chest, as if someone was standing on me, I just thought it was indigestion! The weird thing was that the pain travelled up my neck and into my jaw which became a really unpleasant jaw ache, my left arm felt like it didn’t feel like it belong to me and my hands and feet went cold and clammy. But I was tired and dismissed it has bad acid indigestion although I did think that the jaw pain was odd. I fell straight to sleep and felt perfectly fine in the morning, we went to meet Peter and his assistant at the pub and the first thing he said to me was that he had really bad acid indigestion in the night, of course I said so did I and didn’t think any more of it. My ‘Lakeland’ shoot went really well (I’ll tell you all about that in another posting) and I got home at about 11 o’clock that evening.

I was fine all day Thursday and Friday. On the Saturday (3rd May) in the morning I was at the ‘Threads of Life’ yarn shop in Castle Donington as apart of the Yarn Shop day. I left at lunchtime to do some shopping. When I got home I unloaded the shopping from the car and I suddenly got a burning pain under both arm pits and the same odd jaw pain as before and my left arm going weird. When I put the shopping down the pain went, I thought is was odd as it was the same pain in my jaw as I had on the Wednesday but without the chest pain. It happened again a few more times that day whilst I was doing something. I was starting to get a bit worried now so I looked up the symptoms on the internet and scared myself silly! I mentioned it to Mark (my husband) that I was concerned that the jaw pain had something to do with my heart. He was going out to watch some motor racing with a friend on the Sunday and he told me to do nothing and sit and relax and if it happened again to phone 999. Poor thing had been on at me for ages about working too hard and to be fair I had been putting in the hours over the last couple of months. Anyway, he went out on Sunday morning but he hadn’t had time to take our two dogs out for a walk, so I took them just after he left. I walked down to the river and I had another strange attack but this time I had a burning and tightening sensation across my chest and the same pain in my jaw and left arm (the hospital thought that this was another mild heart attack). At this point I knew that something was wrong and that I had to get home as quick as possible. I cut the walk short, had another episode up the hill as you get into the village and thankfully got home in one piece. I sat down in our lounge and thought ‘well what do I do now’ as the pain subsided when I rested. I decided that I couldn’t phone 999 as I felt relatively ok, so I phoned the new 111 number. I told the person on the line what had happened including the event on the Wednesday, he put me on hold whilst he went and spoke to someone, he came back and told me that they had phoned for an ambulance and it would be with me within 10 minutes. I panicked at this stage as he said, sit and do not move, do you have any aspirin in the house, do you have pets, get someone to put them out of the way and get someone to open the front door…but I was on my own! I tried to phone Mark and his friend Dave but they didn’t pick up, I then tried to phone my friend Steph (Dave’s wife) but her phone was engaged so I phoned another friend Cathy who said she would keep trying Mark and Dave. I had to put Norah and Nelly (the dogs) in the kitchen and open the front door. Actually it was strange as Norah (our oldest dog) knew that something was wrong with me, she wouldn’t stop trying to lick my hands and face.

The ambulance arrived within 8 minutes and the poor dogs started to howl in the kitchen (which they’ve never done before)! The paramedics were lovely and ran an ECG, which they thought was normal, my blood pressure was a bit up but not excessively and my heart rate was fine. They thought as I did that I was starting with angina. My mum had angina and heart disease (she had a double by pass when she was 64, about 12 years ago), sadly she died of heart related problems two years ago. Because of my mum’s problems  I had always vowed to myself that I would not end up like her, so I’ve always eaten healthily, kept fit (I had been training to do the Great North Run in September, running 4 times a week), never smoked and drank moderately. To be honest I was a bit fed up at this point as I thought I do everything right and I still end up with angina! My friend Steph had just arrived and thankfully calmed the dogs down and she stayed at the house whilst the paramedics took me to A&E  to have further tests. Got to A&E, it was about 1pm at this point and still no sign of Mark! They took me straight through and a nurse wired me up to a heart monitor and took another ECG, she also took quite a bit of blood! She said it will be over a hour before they get the results of the blood test so I just stayed on the trolley watching the comings and goings in A&E. I must say it’s rather interesting, you see all different sorts of people from all walks of life!

Eventually Mark arrived, unbelievably his car broke down twice on the way back! They went in his hobby car, a Lotus Elise, and it was it’s first outing this year. Apparently it broke down shortly after leaving Donington Park, they called for road side assistance and fixed it but then it broke down again in a village just about 10 minutes away from home! At this point poor Mark was going frantic, Steph who was at our house came out to pick him up and then go home so that he could get to the hospital in his other car, Dave was left with the Lotus to sort out! Anyway Mark arrived and within five or ten minutes a doctor came in with the news that she was sorry to have to tell me that I had suffered a heart attack! Both of us were completely shocked and I kept wondering why has this happened to me! As the doctor left, nurses came in, put a canular in my arm, injected my stomach with a blood thinner and give me lots of tablets to take. Apparently the ECG had also shown an abnormality and the blood test showed raised Troponin levels. When you have a heart attack your heart releases an enzyme called Troponin, they take one blood test and raised levels confirms a MI (myocardial infarction or heart attack), they take another blood test about 3 hours later and the difference between the two levels indicates how much heart muscle damage there is. The normal level is between 0 and 20, my first one was 220 and my second one 660!

The doctor at A&E told me that I would be admitted to Glenfield Hospital, Leicester where they will decide on the treatment needed. Another ambulance was ordered and when it arrived Mark went home to get some things for me as they had already told me I will be in hospital for about 5 days. We’re so lucky to live close to Glenfield Hospital as it’s the best hospital outside London for heart problems and it’s only about a 25 minute drive from our house! I arrived at Glenfield, it would have been about 4pm by then and I was wheeled into a cubicle and immediately wired up to a heart monitor and had the second blood test. Then I had to wait for a bed……Mark came back and then finally a junior doctor said that my second blood test showed increased levels of Troponin. I was eventually moved to a bed in CDU (Clinical Decisions Unit) ward 19, a senior cardiac registrar called Dr Nicolson came to see me to explain what had happened and what they were going to do about it. He told us that I had suffered a mild heart attack and they thought I had suffered some heart muscle damage but it was minimal. He thought that I had a narrowing somewhere in my arteries and that they would perform an angiogram to see what the situation was and then treat it from there, if there was a narrowing then they would put a stent in at the same time as the angiogram. In the meantime as it was a bank holiday weekend (nothing really happens) they were going to stabilise me with drugs and that I just had to wait for the angiogram. As I was wired up to a heart monitor I was only allowed to walk to and back from the toilet, very frustrating for someone who is so active!

I had a very sleepless night, CDU was very noisy, firstly my heart monitor kept bleeping and then a lot of other ladies had respiratory problems so oxygen machines and nebulisers kept going throughout the night. Mark arrived in the morning with some more things, including my knitting…hooray, and my head phones for my phone. A few friends came to visit and then I had the task of letting some people know what had happened. Firstly I had to cancel a workshop that I was hosting in Tuscany, Italy at the end of the week. Thankfully they managed to get someone else to run it for me and I believe it went very well. I’m still hoping to run the week long workshop there in July as planned, I’ve got Mark coming with me so that should be a big help.

On the Tuesday I was moved to a cardiology ward (ward 27). The doctors were happy that I was now stable and so I could come off the heart monitor and thankfully ward 27 was an unmonitored ward so it was a lot quieter. There were only 6 beds in the female part of the ward and I was youngest by at least 30 years! The other ladies were all lovely though and one was actually knitting when I arrived. Dorothy was so pleased that another knitter was on her ward, she was a lovely lady and knitted solely for charity through her church. I promised that I would arrange to send her some Rowan discontinued yarn for her to knit and she was thrilled! I had a heart echo scan later in the day and thankfully it showed that I hadn’t suffered any heart muscle damage, the doctors thought this was because my heart was very fit because of my running!

Wednesday was not a good day as I had a couple more angina attacks, one after just getting off my bed to help the old lady in the next bed to me put her slipper back on. I got quite upset as I literally now couldn’t even bend down and help an old lady, Dr Nicolson was around so he said he would push for me to have my angiogram on Thursday. He did and I was on the list for Thursday morning.

Thursday came and I was quite nervous, I couldn’t have any breakfast and I wasn’t allowed to have any drinks from 4am. I had to change into a surgical gown, a lovely pink and white checked number and the most horrid paper (one size fits all) pants! I was wheeled down at 10.45am and met the team that would be carrying out the angiogram. They were all lovely…..they had to give me a little sedation as I was nervous but I still wanted to watch the screens and see what was happening. I had a local anaesthetic in my right wrist and then a large tube was inserted into an artery, this still hurt a bit as I think he had trouble getting the tube in, but once it was in it was fine. They then threaded a catheter tube up through the artery and into the heart, it was really weird to see what looked like a thread appear in your heart. The dye was then injected into the tube and it entered the heart. It was quite funny in a way because as they injected the dye a warm feeling washed over me which really felt that I had wet myself! I was assured that I hadn’t!! It’s amazing to see how quickly the dye travelled through my arteries and these could  be seen clearly on screen. It was only about 30 seconds before I realised that they had found something. I asked and they showed me a small narrowing in my right coronary artery that was causing all my problems. My normal coronary artery looked like the thickness of a pencil with a section about 1.5 to 2cm in-between being only the thickness of a tapestry needle. They said they could fix the problem with a stent, so this is when I met Professor Gershlick. I didn’t know it at the time but this amazing man was the number one person in the country for stenting, apparently he has pioneered a new type of stent which I now have. He was really lovely and kept calling me dear! He asked what I did for a living and I said I was a hand knit designer, I had to repeat it as he didn’t quite understand and then said in the 20 years he had been doing this procedure I was the first hand knit designer he had on his table! Well a first for both of us then!! He was actually teaching another consultant to do the procedure on me but said he would take over if there was any problems, which he did towards the end. Afterwards he took time to show me before and after pictures (now my artery seemed perfectly normal) and he also reassured me that my heart was in good working condition and that there were no other narrowings in my arteries. He thought that I may have been born with a narrowing in that part of my artery and coupled with ‘extra sticky’ platelets in my blood and my high blood pressure which I’ve had since I was 36 (but always controlled) had caused the problem. As I had no other risk factors he could only conclude that it was genetic in cause, especially in light of my mother and my grand mother (who died of a heart attack). As long as I keep taking the medication, exercise and eat healthily then I shouldn’t have any more problems. I must admit it was a big relief to have the stent fitted and to hear that everything should be fine. That evening I celebrated by paying for hospital TV to watch the Master Chef semi finals!!

Friday (9th May) I came home. It was so lovely to be home, the house was full of flowers and cards and it was great to see Norah and Nelly again, although Mark had to make sure that they were gentle with me, a bit difficult for two young German Pointers!


Some of the lovely flowers I received.

I had quite a few visitors that afternoon and evening which I found tiring and I had to go to bed at 9pm. It was so lovely to be back in my own bed and I had one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

The next week was a case of taking things very slowly, I had lots of visitors each day so I was never on my own when Mark went back to work. Last week and the first part of this week I had a big set back as I started to get some nasty side effects from some of my drugs. My GP altered my dosages (added another drug) on Tuesday and it now seems to be working and I’m now feeling better again…there is light at the end of the very long tunnel.

I start my rehab at the cardiac centre next week and I can start driving the week after next, so hopefully my life will start to get back to normal. Unfortunately I’ve had to give up the Rowan Mag 57 and my brochure shoots this year. I had arranged to go to Tuscany in few weeks times and do 4 shoots there, 2 for the magazine and 2 for my small brochures for Rowan. Lisa Richardson and Sarah Hatton are now going in my place and doing the art directing and styling. Hopefully it will all go well for them, I just have to learn to let go, a bit difficult for a control freak!! Anyway I am going to start the trend research for Mag 58 next week, so I can concentrate on that. My second book is more or less ready to go to print and is launched on the 1st August, I will be blogging about it in the coming weeks.

I hope that I’ve not bored you too much but it’s a bit of therapy for me to be able to write about it and now you know some of the more obscure signs of a heart attack and that you don’t dismiss them as acid indigestion should you ever be unlucky enough to have them.

Finally I just want to say that my care from the moment the ambulance arrived to when I came home was fantastic. The doctors and nurses on the ward 19 and 27 and in the cath lab were amazing and nothing was too much trouble for them. My care and the care of the older ladies around me was second to none. The whole experience as restored my faith in the NHS!


Workshop 2 Bag

In just over two weeks time on the 26th April, I will be hosting my Creative Workshop 2 at the village hall in Hoby, Leicestershire.


The Reds & Pinks bag from Creative Workshop 2

This workshop is a little special as for the first hour I will be giving a lecture on simple colour theory and how we view colour as individuals. The knitting project that we will work on is a bag made from weaving several moss stitch strips together creating a design which could have a variety of uses ranging from a holiday laundry bag to a knitting project bag.

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Windswept – now on my website!

Just a quick post to let you all know that Windswept is now available to buy from my website. It’s taken from 2pm today until about half a hour ago to set it up – a very steep learning curve for me! If you wish to have your book signed then just leave a message in the PayPal check out area to request a signing. Hope you enjoy the book.

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Now on my website

WINDSWEPT – My first self published book!

I’m so excited to be able to write this blog post as it means that the launch of my very first self published book is just about to launch. The book is called ‘Windswept’ and will be available to buy at Rowan stockists and from mariewallin.com from the 1st March.

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The front cover

I wanted my first collection to be full of fairisles and cabling designs as I just love this type of knit design. I also wanted to make the designs a little unique by adding crochet trimmings to some of them. Of course it’s up to you if you add these or not but I do think that they make the garments extra special. So here is my preview of each of the designs and the photography shoot. I hope you enjoy it!

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