The Woollinn Workshops!

I’m excited about Woollinn Dublin!

After the success of YarnFolk Festival of Wool in August last year, it’s clear we need more woolly events on this island 🙂  Ironically, it will take me as long to get to Woollinn as it does to Edinburgh Yarn Fest (door to door) 😂 😂 😂 😭. This island is so poorly connected. I think if you’re coming from anywhere else the Woollinn location is great, right next to the airport.

So! I was dithering and dithering about which days I would go, what I would sign up to. I have finally registered, so go get yours! In addition to the workshops, I am very excited to see Kate Davies talk about her work and her new book: Handywoman.

Handy Woollinn Workshop Guide

I found it hard to understand the workshop schedule since it’s just a list.

So I made this handy-dandy table if you were curious too. I don’t know if the schedule is subject to change, but is up to date as of 17 March 2018.  Continue reading

i’m sorry, i was doggie paddling

i’ve always sucked at swimming. i hate putting my head underwater. (yes, i still blame my well-meaning teenaged brothers and sisters who chucked me into the water when i was little. because that was the best way to learn to swim apparently.) having my head underwater just seems like drowning.

have you ever tried doggie paddling though? it’s basically how i swim. keeping my head up, treading water, not really getting anywhere fast.

it’s supposedly easy, but it takes an incredible amount of effort.

imagine people asking you to hold things while you’re doggie paddling. trying to talk while you’re doggie paddling. trying to even get anywhere. it’s exhausting.

you’re moving so much it’s like you must be getting somewhere. and you’re not.

a former boss was shocked to see me so overwhelmed and unable to keep up. i never said no. she didn’t recognise her positional power and she thought at some point i would just say “no” to her. she expected me to say no. i was fired. that sucked. turns out it is my pattern. i don’t say no. i have repeated the same pattern over and over and over. it’s been hard learning this. again. i haven’t been proud of my work for a long time.

starting things then dropping things. picking things up then losing them. reaching out then drawing back. i say yes and yes and yes. paddling and never getting anywhere.

i think i need to draw a line. and just get on with it.

i’ve been doggie paddling through life. and i want to apologise to anyone who needed me to do things for them. finally to say: i’m sorry, i was doggie paddling. 


Photo underwater by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

later in life, i learned how to float.

i realised (thanks to my stores of fat) i could float in salt water with little movement. this was the best thing that happened to me and my relationship with water. i remember floating in ocean hot springs on green island in taiwan with my friend S. calm warm salt water, light purple sky, reflecting in a smooth opal pool. we could stay afloat with just a flick of a finger or foot. i go back there in my mind when i’m overwhelmed.

late night and early morning is my favourite time to swim. the water is calm. mostly my version of swimming now is just floating when i can.

i’ve been trying to get there with how i live too. i said no a lot from 2016-2017. no to this. no to that. nope. nope. nope. cutting things out. not joining. not showing up. not doing. i unknit more than i knit. i threw out more than i made. floating not doggie paddling. learning to sit. meditating. sitting for 10 minutes is hard. though even when i suck at it, it works.

and then you’re floating. it’s much easier this way.

by learning to ease through – i survived this past winter without falling in a hole. i’m damned proud of that.

it’s one thing i did that is actually working out. i’m proud of learning to live with anxiety and depression. i’m ok with my little shadow. keeping it real for me. (i can’t understand people without shadows.)

now i want to say yes, and to thrive, and to move through space. to swim, finally.

not sure what this is going to look like.

“I learn by going where I have to go.” The Waking by Theodore Roethke.


ripples on the surface of the water

Shivering – photo by me



Tap when you knit? Use this cute finger protector.

I think Bernie (Bear in Sheep’s Clothing Yarn) isn’t the only knitter who taps when she knits. Once she showed me a welt in her index finger from where she taps on the needle as she knits. Like, a HOLE in the skin. She said she winces each time she taps, but can’t really knit any other way. I’ve heard other knitters get calluses, sores, and cuts.

When I was in Japan, I saw these rubber finger covers and thought they’d be perfect! And here’s Bernie delighted with her new finger protector.

How you can get one of these magical knitting finger protectors

I’m sure someone more clever could fashion a finger protector out of all sorts of things, or cut the top off of rubber finger thimbles. But if you want one of these from Japan, they are easy to get and might save you lots of pain, while still being stylish.

They are called メクリッコ, which sounds like mekurikko. (me-ku-riko). You can search for them on Amazon. I’ve looked around, and I think if you’re shopping from outside Japan, Amazon is handy because they handle the customs declaration for you.

If the Amazon site comes up in Japanese, make sure to switch out for English in the footer at the bottom.


Why so many kinds of finger covers in Japan?

I first found some kind of smelly rubber ones that covered the finger entirely. They were sold in the stationary section. The later, I found MUCH cuter ones which just wrapped around the finger pads, came in pastel colours, and had little bows on them! For example, メクリッコsweet.

As you can see on this ad, mostly they seem to be for managing flipping through A LOT of paper. And people love paper in Japan. They haven’t gone digital and they read many many more magazines and books than we do out here in the UK/Ireland. At least from what I can tell! My mind was boggled with all the beautiful magazines they have, and that seem to take up a much larger floor space in comparison.

The cutest finger protectors I found were advertised for ID protection. Very clever marketing! See, they proved in Jan 2017 that someone could theoretically nick your fingerprint from a photo taken nine foot away. And in Japan, it’s common to take a selfie with your friends posing making a peace sign! This puts anyone taking an innocuous selfie at risk. (Side note: I noticed Japanese folks I follow on Instagram generally much more protective of their online identity, and savvy in general. For example, they tend to blur or block faces in photos to protect them from facial recognition.)

So I think in this case, I saw some finger covers that were rebranded as “ID protectors” – which were basically the same exact product, for a new potential security-conscious market.

And next, I think they should rebrand them as KNITTING FINGER PROTECTORS! 😀


If all synesthesia is idiosyncratic, then why doesn’t anyone like 9?

Since I was very little, each letter has had such a distinct personality and relationship between its nearest letters. As soon as I knew letters, I knew who they were, just as if I’d met someone.

There’s handsome G, stuck between sweet, gentle F who he pines for, and on the other side: H who he’s committed to. Will they break off the engagement?? H treats G horribly! And always snickers behind his back in her bitchy clique with I and J. KL are such snobs anyway, they don’t even seem to notice. They’re older and really can’t be bothered with all that nonsense…. etc!

I don’t think I understood the complexities when I was that little. But the story became embellished as I learned more and got older. My understanding deepened but the situation was the same.

I’ve asked others if they had dramatic stories behind the arrangement of letters in the alphabet. When I kept on getting weird reactions, I stopped asking. I assumed I’d taught myself this little tale to remember the order of the letters.  26 letters. And a tale I’ve never forgotten.

Now I see that I wasn’t alone in assuming I’d “learned” it.

“I figured that numbers must have been taught that way to me at a time when I was so young that I could no longer remember the teaching of it.” – Do you have Synesthesia?

I didn’t recall meeting anyone who had a similar experience. Until today, my friend MizzAdamz said that letters and numbers had personalities, complex back stories.

She’s a synesthete, and she said one of the rarest with Ordinal Linguistic Personification Synesthesia.

Apparently, the reason I have no trouble remembering this convoluted 26 character story because I can perceive the relationships.

I am also a synesthete.

Synesthesia comes in various forms

It turns out if you’ve got one kind of synesthesia, you may have another kind.

I was sitting here researching and I’ve just yelped out loud. “NO WAY. WHAT?! Doesn’t EVERYONE feel a touch on their body when they see someone else being touched?”

Turns out not everyone does feel it. This is Mirror-Touch Synesthesia! “I can feel other people’s pain.” I can feel if someone across a room touches their cheek gently. I feel if someone gets punched in a movie. (Also, I wonder if it’s why I can’t cut meat. It feels like I’m cutting my own flesh. I get worried I’ll get confused and actually cut my own arm.)

Turns out I also have other types of synesthesia, and I may have others.

  • Colour to sound synesthesia 
    • I hear pure tones from colours. Moving and flashing images are very “loud.” Sounds are apparent when they “switch” – it’s like hitting a tuning fork. It fades.
    • For example, I use an app that darkens my screen as the night goes on. And the screen changes “tone.” If I ALT+tab to another app where f.lux is disabled, the screen goes brighter and bluer. And the pitch goes higher.
  • Spatial sequence synesthesia
    • I “see” time and numbers. This is also how I see temperatures and conversions.
    • Times and dates advance to my right, and recede to my left. Past is left. “Now” is centre, where I am. Years, months, days, hours, all ticking along bands around this drum. The furthest right and left are darkened, in shadow, because I can’t see around the disk.

I wonder if other people with spatial sequence synesthesia also get this sensation of everything “clicking” when it lines up together. It sounds unlikely.

Turns out these idiosyncratic traits mean no two synesthetes see the same colours.

That question intrigues me. For me, F is a shy and kind girl. She’d never stick up for herself. And then I came across an article on synesthesia which said “F is shy, hesitant, some would say spineless.”

Are there patterns?

Why is 9 such a jerk?

MizzAdams told me about the number characters which go into the hundreds and even thousands. As soon as you say a number, she intuitively knows it. She said “9” for example was a total bitch.

I came home and started reading about it. I saw a video which said “For Gayle, 9 is an elitist girl.” (TedEd video below) There seems to be a pattern of negative associations with 9. Emily, a 13 year old, wrote Me and My Synesthesia. 9 is an annoying boy.  Another blogger write “Nine looks down on everyone. He thinks they’re a pack of idiots, and treats them all with barely disguised contempt.” in Do you have synesthesia?

They must just be coincidences?

As described in the video below, the first shock for synesthetes is to discover no one else who perceives your sensations. Then there’s a shock when you find someone else that does. The final shock is when you learn that they do not have the same exact associations.

So I’m curious: Do you have it? You can take this quiz to find out. 

The Dominos Effect: Own your shortcomings and they’re yours.

If you know anything about me, it’s that I love pizza. Pizza was such a priority when we lived in Japan, we bought an oven specifically so we could make pizza. The pizza there was expensive, and not awesome.

I love pizza. Yet, until recently I wouldn’t have eaten a Dominos pizza. Ever. I would make my own before I would get one of those. They were horrible. I was a pizza snob. Until recently. I tried it again and it seems they’ve made improvements. The crust is better, the sauce is better.

What they changed: They listened to customers. I learned about this listening to Tom Shapiro’s talk on “Using Neuroscience to Optimize Customer Acquisition,” and I had to read more about it.

In 2009, they ran a commercial showing the negative feedback they got in their ad. Their stand-out feature– delivery in 30 mins– wasn’t remarkable anymore.

In “Dominos Pizza Turnaround” the CEO says, “There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change.” The feedback they show from customers is cringeworthy stuff. In grainy video, you can see customers complaining about the bad quality.

And then you see the staff respond.

They used the negative comments to get excited about making improvements. “We want people to love our pizza.” After they made improvements, they got to come back and say: Yeah! People said our crust tastes like cardboard! Now we’re fixing it! It’s a great story.

And now I want pizza. (Actually after drafting this we ordered Dominos. I got a Dominos pizza with a little bottle of chili oil, and rocket to put on top from their Italiano range.)

Own your shortcomings and they’re yours

My friend and I discovered this saying by mishearing or misinterpreting another common adage. 80’s feel good author Richard Bach said “Argue for your limitations, and they’re yours.”

What I heard was “Own your shortcomings” as in know your shortcomings, and be master of them. And “They’re yours” meant to me, no one can use them against you.

I think that can be applied here. Products or services can always make improvements.

Listen to customers, be upfront about the shortcomings, and show where you’re making improvements. After you make improvements you can show the new positive feedback.

It takes some bravery though to own your shortcomings. But if you don’t, your competition will.


A few of my favourite things

I’ve tried a few times to do photo 365. I can’t commit to a daily anything.

I decided to pick a photo theme not dependent on frequency. My theme is “My Favourite Things” and I will count up to 100. I mean to capture things as I come across them.

To start, my first few are absolutely intentional, starting with my absolute favourite things. These are things that if you really know me, you know these are my favourite things.

I want to use them for reflection. I love Thurzday Adamz’s Gratitude posts she puts on Instagram and FB. She writes

Today is a good day; I can greet the sunrise with a smile, I have a fireplace to keep my house warm, candles to light the dark evenings, oils to scent my space, and inspirational books to read. These are things to be grateful for. These things make life worth living.

Today is a good day… These are things to be grateful for. These things make life worth living.

I’ll start writing a little longer in the posts too. It’s only a little thing, but feels like a big deal to me.

One of my #favouritethings 1/100 #tinyhouse

A post shared by Heather McNamee (@nearlythere) on







Organic Reach is Dead -Pay to play

In the Golden Age of the Algorithm the networks have complete control over what you see.

The move to things like Facebook instant articles, and Google’s AMP pages mean that readers may never even reach your site.

Soon they will control all of the traffic, through their paid portals. Is it like AOL all over again?

They have been laying the groundwork for this. Facebook started increasing the mix of friends and family in newsfeeds. They knew this would provide a better experience. Companies were penalised.Their followers weren’t getting their updates. They asked people to make sure to “get notifications” – but no one bothers.

Brands were finding their audience was even less than they thought it was because Facebook was fibbing about the view numbers on videos. Also in Nov 2016, a bug in Facebook showed that organic reach was even STILL lower than that. Your organic reach counted on Facebook includes people who don’t view your entire post.  Less than 5% of page fans see your content.

And no one is clicking! Did anyone ever click on Twitter? This article from 2011 complained about the widespread issue. And nothing has changed.

A natural reaction would be to increase your output. Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says: Don’t. (The whole episode is great. #134: Preparing for Future Traffic Declines: What Content Creators Need to Know.) Now, he explained, Facebook penalizes companies that are trying to increase the volume of organic reach.

You have to pay to play!

Guardian argued that human “gatekeepers” still hold the key. They act as curators to trawl through the mediocre stew of information, and serve up delightful selections. Yet even now tools like Pinterest can predict what you want. Will you even need to do the curating yourself?

Pinterest uses “deep learning” to analyse the data you have already give it (the pins you pinned). And then it takes that to predict which pins you’ll most likely pin. And it can suggest the board you would like to pin it to.

Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pinterest just pin them for me and I’ll sit in front of my computer and watch a steady stream of digital crack cocaine?

Since brands will soon have to pay to play. It would reduce all of my entertainment down to a slow stream of advertisements. How grim.