Welcome to Erssie Knits

To see my new website, and find patterns to download and more go here to the Erssie Knits website
Merry Christmas Everyone!

We are off soon, and I won't be back to Erssie Knits until the New Year, although I will be taking my Christmas knitting with me (for a book). We are going to stay on Little Comfort Farm for a while, we get a cream tea on arrival and we stay in a toasty cottage with a wood burning stove with our two greyhounds. Emails may pile up whilst I am on holiday, I will deal with all that from the 2nd onwards. Pretty scary as I am getting about 60 emails a day about knitting at the moment.

Here is our cottage in North Devon. Of course, it won't look as green, as that it is going to be a bit crispy and most probably muddy and damp!

I would like to say thanks to those people who donated money towards the Snood for A Hound pattern, I have paid £20 to Lurcher Link and £50 plus some equipment is going to Essex Greyhound Rescue tomorrow in the post. I know Julie is going to make a wholesome Christmas stew with some meat from the butchers to give to the hounds she has in her rescue kennels.

I will continue to sell this pattern, or forward it to rescue hound owners free of charge throughout the Winter and I intend to have more pet rescue items to knit at a later date, I will tell you more about that when I can.

Here are some Pixie Hounds, the crochet pattern is here
from Aerie designs. I love them.

Dizzy Lily
A Snood for a Hound

Download via PayPal
£1.50 GBP

Pezdiva with her snood for Maggie is the first pic I have seen of my pattern for rescue hounds. More pics of knitting on her flickr album here. I won't tell you where Maggie is, it could be anywhere in the world, as I don't want to advertise the whereabouts of dogs for security reasons.

If you would like a free pattern for your own rescue dog, then email me telling about your hound.

If you don't have a rescue hound, tha pattern is for sale at $3/£1.50.

Download via PayPal
£1.50 GBP

Even if you have a rescue dog, donations are most welcome as Julie from Essex greyhound rescue says she is going to make sure that all the dogs in the rescue kennels and the ones fostered at her home will get a special Christmas dinner made from some fresh meat. The remainder of donations is needed for food, collars and leads and the most biggest expense the vets bills as some dogs arrive with broken limbs and all sorts of conditions that need treatment before they can be put up for rehoming.

Doesn't she look cute and snuggly and warm? I will be keeping pics of all the rescue hounds who get one of these, that is if their owners send me a pic. Then I am going to stick up a gallery of them on Flickr.

Dizzy gets a snood too!

He doesn't have a bald neck, there is no excuse for wearing a snood, unless the weather gets very icy and stormy on our trip at Christmas. This is the large version of the snood and it fits very comfortably around the chest, but it still isn't the biggest size, I have now extended this to fit 4 sizes in case someone has a lurcher cross and a monster sized hound.

Look at Dizzy in this pic, this is his slightly manic face when he first goes into the garden, trying to sniff out the cat that attacked him 6 months ago. he is terrified of them now.

Dizzy Lily: A Snood for a Hound

I have designed this shaped snood for Lily who has a bald neck. To make it more interesting and to warrant writing it up formally as a knitting pattern I have shaped it with ribbeed sections decreasing to a central cable section and then increasing again to give gentle flares that fit over the chest at one end and the head and ears at the other.

As with most of my work, it is knitted in the round and to make it a quick knit that uses up odd balls of my stash, I have made it in a worsted/Aran yarn, shown her in Rooster Almerino Aran.

Now Dizzy is snoodless and jealous, so I am part of the way through knitting up a large verison in a warm orange shade of Jaeger Shetland Aran (which also contains a small amount of aplaca). The pattern is in 3 sizes ranging from a small female greyhound (or a large whippet) up to a large male greyhound.

I am giving the pattern free as a pdf to those who have rescued a greyhound (some sort of proof will be needed) or are using it for fundraising for greyhound charities. For those who wish to buy the pattern, I am charging $3 for each pdf, 100% of which I will donate to either The Essex Greyhound Rescue service or Lurcher Link. Email me if you would like to knit one of these for your own hound.

It's Cold outside

Poor Little Lily. She has got a bald neck and her hair is thinning.

Seasonal Hormonal Alopecia.
Why am I mentioning this on a knitting blog?

Because it is absolutely my duty to provide her with warm and soft knitwear, she needs a classic snood.

Hound Snood Knitting Pattern,

So, anyone interested in a pattern, just register your interest here or email me, leave a message on the Grey Knitters group on Ravelry and I will write up a pattern for a flared/shaped snood for your hound. Free to those who have rescued ex racers, but $3 to those who have not or who wish to donate to the Essex Greyhound Rescue charity.

The Red Poppy Appeal

Regarding charity, I have collected an odd amount for the Red Poppy appeal as I had an order from Japan that inolved postage, so I am covering that myself and donating the postal costs to The Red Poppy Appeal as well.

My Charity Knitting Work

I was a little disappointed I could not get more people interested, but I hope this will be different next year as I will start earlier. It is so difficult to do stuff for charity, and broadcast it without it appearing like self promoting Spam, and I apologise to anyone who feels offended by requests like these. If you see a notice of one of my charity things, and you have seen it before, I would be very grateful if you could just overlook it and leave it for other people to find. with so many specialist groups around, it is difficult to reach everyone.

Christmas Holidays

This year I will be selling the Santa Hat pattern, Christmas Pudding Hat pattern and Christmas mini-stocking, tinsel and baubles patterns to raise money for childrens charities. 100% of proceeds will go to charity from me.

Remembrance Day is Coming Soon

Red Poppy Crochet Pattern

So far I have collected £32.67, to go directly to The Red Poppy Appeal

Here is my design for a Crochet Poppy
This is no longer available as a single pattern
It is to be found in the book Hookorama by Rachael Matthews

Gorgeous Knitting!

I am inlcuding these pieces of work, just because they are so beautiful in every way. They are designed by Marnie Maclean who has a wonderful talent of making the yarn work for her in complete curvaceousness and drape, no lumps in sight.

How beautiful! that is all I need to say. I have chosen to post these two pics of Marnie enjoying the modelling, you can see more serious pics of these projects on her blog/website (where her patterns including this one are for sale)

Samhain Salutations!

I can't believe another year has gone so quickly, and that it has been a long time since I could put up some ghostly designs of my own. I hope by next year, I will have a little more to show publicly in the way of single patterns.

I wasn't well on actual Samhain eve, it was indeed 'some pig' (see scarf above and below) and it passed by with just a flicker of acknowledgement. I will have to make up for it next year by designing something specifically for it, last year I designed the Silvanus bag for the Anticraft. Talking of which, do take a trip over there to see their latest
Samhain issue; Sticky.

I am an arachnaphobe. so it truly gave me shudders. There are three lovely projects which are my favourite, a knitted cardigan Cocooned, and some crochet webby gauntlets To Weave a Tangled Web as well as a lace scarf Charlotte A. Cavatica

Here are some mini pics of those projects, but do go over to the magazine for the full set. The Anticraft book is out soon, how exciting, especially as it means I will be in current print again. They kindly chose three of my projects to be included, and can I just declare, they paid their designers before the book was even finished, that is how nice they have been. Unlike some other publishers and authors who still haven't paid me to date! (you know who you are, I send you threefold reflections)

Yuletide is just around the corner

Or as some of you prefer to call the holiday season; Christmas. I know some people have been downloading my Christmas patterns from here for charity and fundrasing use, that is all well and good. I had tried to make that easy for you charity knitters by allowing you to do that on one click. Sadly, some people have been using those patterns for personal projects, and not donating the honesty fee requested ($3 per hat and $5 per Christmas Tree decorations).

Now that I have listed these patterns officially on Ravelry, I have asked that anyone who wishes to use these for charity or fundraising to contact me, describe the use, and I will allow people who are knitting for a good cause to have the patterns for free. On the other hand, if you wish to buy these patterns, I will donote 100% of the proceeds to a children's charity, once a year (end of December or beginning of January)

So here are the patterns I am selling for charity:

Christmas Pudding Baby Hat $3

Christmas Santa Hat $3

Christmas Tree Decorations:
3 versions of Mini Stockings, Gold and Silver Baubles, Tinsel $5
Erssie's Easy Beanie (Fairisle beanies) $3

If you wish to buy any of these, email erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk with the pattern title, the cost and your PayPal username/email address and I can invoice you straight away and forward the pdfs via email as soon as funds clear.

Making Lace

I always had a problem getting the point of lace knitting. Well, it looks pretty and it is delicate but there just seems to be so many other ways of making lace that made so much more sense than actually knitting it. To produce even the most simplest of 'holes' in the fabric of knitting, seems such a complicated issue compared with just picking up a crochet hook, and the 'holes' just being there as part of the stitch.

Every time I have taken a complicated lace stitch pattern from a library I always felt after a few rows that even a chimp could follow the instructions stitch by stitch and get a result, but that didn't mean they understood it. So, whether it is the lack of lace making that made me weak in this area of design, or whether it was just such a complicated thing hardly anyone could get, I just couldn't decide. I had tried explaining how I felt about this to other knitters, and they might assure me that it was easy etc, but however much I knitted lace, things didn't really fall into place.

I have always been happy about picking a lace 'block' or panel, and tweaking it into a design, but I think what really bugged me was this. In order to 'design' a sweater or garment with colour work, designers are not supposed to pick out patterns from books and slot them in, I have always had great pressure on me to invent my own colour charts, and anything more complicated than stripes, would have to be totally original. Then when I moved over to the equivalent of lace design, I have rarely found anyone who could go beyond the understanding of an existing piece, and totally make up their own stitch patterns from scratch.

So I jumped at the chance to go to an Amy Singer introduction to lace workshop, thinking perhaps there was something missing from skills set. So on Sunday, I went, and didn't find any magic answers to designing in lace, but definitely felt more confident in being able to read my lace, and loved Amy's approach of adapting lace stitches to be easy and memorable...and I thought, yes, that is what I need to accept, is that sometimes the most simple and easy patterns are the most popular and the most beautiful, and if I decide to design something using a lace motif or stitch, then I don't need to feel in any way inadequate if it isn't complicated and isn't so complicated that no-one can attempt it.

I often feel a fraud as a 'designer', after all, I have not formally studied this craft and anything I know is just years of fiddling about. In fact, when I got back into knitting again after a long break it was with the understanding that I cannot push myself into anything taxing as the brain power is not there (drugs and illness), the dexterity isn't there either (drugs and illness). So what on earth am I doing now, beating myself up over skills I don't seem to be as strong in compared with others?

All this thought of lace knitting recently. rather than making me go into more complicated knitting or designing, is actually leading me back to simple and pure is best. You know how you can just pick up something like a garter stitch scarf, in a beautiful shade and yarn, and it just seems so right? It doesn't matter if garter stitch is a beginner stitch and a scarf has no shaping, the thing is just right to wear. This principle I am going to apply to me and lace and anything else I do...simple is best, and rather than go up a blind alley of specialisation, I am going to remain an inexperienced dabbler. Literally Jack of all Trades and Master of None...that suits me!

I just don't want too many people to get hung up on that word 'designer', so I might drop that and just say 'crafter' instead, and provided my craft works are original, then I can publish them (or perhaps not..it doesn't really matter).
To Draw or Not To Draw?

There are some thoughts on Woolly Wormhead at the moment, about the design process and Ruth explains why she prefers not to be limited by the disadvantages of drawing sketches of designs before submitting them to publishers to acquire work.

I have to say that although I do sketch (badly, childishly but informatively), on the whole I agree with Ruth on this matter.
I do start with a sketch, but that is just something to keep an idea 'floating' in case I don't have time to make the thing until a year or two later. However, let me add a word of warning about these 'sketches'.

Publishers who 'accept' these as submissions, are often mistaken in thinking that we designers jump straight from sketch to finished written pattern with no stages in between, and so when we complain that deadlines don't give us enough time to complete, a publisher actually fuses the 'design' and the 'make' of a project, they only pay once a combined fee for both and so assume that the 'idea' is finished. A publisher will often say "I know someone who can knit it up in time, just hand over the pattern to them and they'll do it"

I want to say Whoaaaaa! Hold your horses there publisher, I made a series of sketches/drawings for a submission idea only....I do not have fully finished garments and written patterns in a range of sizes with instructions for someone to knit up magically appearing on paper as a 'pattern' yet!!"

This is the danger of sketching or even talking to people about a 'design idea', they think the 'idea' is what we designers are credited with, and that the idea is fully developed as a pattern and ready to go the moment the publisher says "Yay" or "Nay" to it. Are they mad....? Yes, generally they are, they only understand a finished object and a printed pattern not the stages that need to be worked to get there.

Ruth is so right to make her piece, to go way beyond swatching to have something developed.
My sadness is that I do not work fast enough, so I have the idea then get pressurised to write up a pattern without having even knitted anything. This takes out firstly the fun, and also the huge relief of being able to iron out problems as I go. It limits me, because I can only write down instructions I know to be safe, when perhaps I might have tried a new technique to see if it worked in those materials, but too risky to hand over to a 'knitter'. My happiness though, is that with my drawings, I can make a multitude of them and distribute them, and get work without wasting my time in making them all to have 90% of them rejected. As I keep saying, I submitted 13 ideas to the anticraft for their book, only 3 of which were made, and if I had made say only a couple of those ideas and submitted as FO's the chances are they might have been OK in their own right but not actually have fitted in with their stories. However, publishers should realise that my drawing is a mere wisp of an idea, hinting to them in their own language, and is in no way a finished and fully formed piece with which to run.

Also, if I finish a piece independently of any brief, and am totally happy with all my design choices, and then it gets accepted for publication, I know it is all mine and somebody approved of my ideas. If I submit an outline of an idea, to a specific brief, and then the publisher makes all the choices with regard to style, yarn, and shades and actual design of the piece, then somehow it knocks the excitement out of me, and I don't always agree with their choices but have to go with them anyway.

Often I have found that a choice someone made for me, was actually the wrong thing to do and I end up wishing I had chosen all the elements myself including the making of the project, and that is the only way designers can keep artistic control and quality in check.

Other times, I just change my mind, or find that a particular shade I had envisaged just doesn't exist and cannot be bought even as a custom dye, but a promise to a publisher for that shade can make them feel another would be inferior when in reality, if I presented them with a finished object of my own choice they might be just as happy anyway.

In conclusion, a drawing can be liberating in not being constrained by the materials in front of us and in striving to make the project we promised, we can stretch ourselves and that is a good thing.

However, in some circumstances, it can limit us to the 'promise' we made to make something look exactly the way we have drawn and it doesn't give us room to improve or go off in a better direction on the actual make.
Woolly Wormhead is not just about the outside of the head, she explores the inside of our heads too!

Here is some background information on her blog to who she is and what she is about when it comes to textiles, and that is why I love her and respect her. She is far too modest for her own good and so generous with her skills, always has time to explain and doesn't jealously guard her secrets in any way. However, she is often slighted as being 'just a hat' designer, as if she isn't capable of other work too but she strongly defends her choice to work in her current medium, she enjoys it and finds it liberating. You might still persuade her to spin in dog hair again if you are lucky though.

"Reflection of the Arty kind

I've been meaning forever to post some photos from my degree work - I did my main textiles degree at Goldsmiths, - Fine Art Textiles. (Prior to that I'd started a Textiles Bsc at Bolton, Industrial Textiles to be precise, but dropped out after the first year due to boredom. It was interesting indeed - learning about formulas for drape of fabric, industrial dyeing processes and so on, but zero creative input or scope)

It was during my time at Goldsmiths that I taught myself to spin, got my first wheel (an Ashford Trad) and got spinning in preparation for work for my final year degree show. I'd previously done some work with human hair, influenced by the artist Emily Bates who spun and knitted human hair into elongated, disproportionate dresses - they were incredibly daunting to see in the flesh. However, conceptually pet hair held different meanings, and that's what I wanted to explore.

The work I finished for my degree show was an installation comprising of a few related works. The main piece was a 6 foot square patchwork blanket, hand spun from cat and dog hair, that was draped over an armchair. The armchair itself was wired up with speakers - I'd recorded my previous cat Twiggy (who was identical to Minky looks wise yet much more like Spook in personality) purring, put it onto a loop and played it through the speakers. Basically, the whole installation was purring, yet at that level of amplification it closer resembled a deep, murmuring heart beat.

The blanket was at the heart of it all. It took over 6 weeks of solid work to make - spinning every day in my studio, knitting every knit when I got home. I was resourceful in how I collected the hair, and some of it had to be blended (mainly the cat hair) and this was when I first came across Wingham Wools. To add to the effect of the blanket, I deliberately didn't wash the dog hair - I wanted the smell to be part of it. And it stank! It was beautiful to look at... all those natural colourings and incredibly soft to the touch..... but it needed a repulsive element, and the smell did it.

Alongside this purring dog hair armchair was another piece of work, hanging on the wall. This comprised of 25 dog tags, each engraved with an emotion. Probably the quickest piece of work made! It's message was much more apparent - tags are used to label, identify ourselves, as are our emotions. Regardless of how we deal with our emotions, they make up who we are and how we deal with situations. Comfort, confliction, routine, it was all part of it. The work was intended to gain a different reaction from each viewer, and it did that.

In hindsight, I probably didn't pick the easiest subject to deal with. I'd had a really difficult time during my 2nd year at Goldsmiths - pivoting around the violent attempted rape by the alcoholic ex. It was horrific, and the only thing that got me through it all was my creative work. So, dealing with this issue - well mainly my recovery afterwards - may not have been the best work for a degree show, but it was what I needed to do as a person. Actually, the grades I got for my 3rd year work were the lowest of my whole degree.

But art reflects life, does it not?

Prior to Goldsmiths, after Bolton, I did my foundation course. For those not familiar with the British system, if you want to go to Art college, you are generally required to do a Foundation course, which is a prep year, to help break you out from the constraints of academic studies. Without this Art school can seem like a bit of a culture shock. I did mine at Southend, and this was where I started playing with hair as a sculptural medium. This piece was another exploration, probably into similar meanings as the work above but I may not have been fully aware of it.

Human hair doesn't felt in the same way wool does, yet it mats up a treat, particularly if you throw water into the mix. I built the mould from odd bits of wood, drilled drainage holes and proceeded to make everyone at college coil up in repulsion as I threw bags of hair into water and stuck my hands in! (fear not, I wore rubber gloves) I don't think I have this piece anymore, but it stayed in it's sculpted form without problem. It freaked a lot of people out, they hated it. Yet I found it quite charming... and considered the idea of it as a brick to be rather poignant.

It's interesting looking back on it all.... just goes to show that most of things I create these days are pretty tame by comparism. I've often thought about creating larger pieces of work and exhibiting, but as time goes on I've grown to be more comfortable with expressing myself in smaller ways.

Apologies for the poor image qualities - the originals are safely stored in the loft at my Mum's house in Sheffield; these are scanned from copied images in my portfolio. Do click to get a better view, though. I do still have the blanket, dog tags and the tape of purring... couldn't bear to part with them."
More New Books

I recently bought myself Vogue Knitting: Ultimate Sock Book and although I really loved the patterns in there, as a designer, I found that there was much missing from the actual guide to sock knitting at the front of the book. As any sock knitter knows, there is a variation on choice of construction i.e. cuff down or top down, or toe up. However, even within these methods, there are more choices and I did feel the detail was a little lacking and that this book although helpful, could hardly be 'Ultimate' as in all encompassing without the need to refer to other sources. I had heard that there were errata, which I have not checked yet and I wondered if one of these erratum might be in connection with an omission on their wrapping techniques. They show how to wrap i.e. WT, they show how to pick up a wrap i.e. WW on a stocking stitch/right side. But they do not really show how to replicate that on the purl side, and then their generic toe up sock, completely confuses the issue by putting in the instruction WW,WT so therefore introducing an extra wrap and turn after the work wrap, without any explanation (we are to assume that WW refers to connecting the next stitch, already wrapped, and then we must assume that we pick up both wraps to be worked next row??)

As the idea of short rows is actually the most daunting and the most important skill a sock knitter could acquire, I think the explanation is pretty poor.

As it turns out, I have my own weird way of doing and working these wraps, which seems to look better than any other method I have tried, even though I sort of made up what I was doing as I went! Other methods leave me with mismatched sides, or a row of tiny dimples/holes on one side and a slight mess on the other, or a lot of criss crossing if I decide to WW and WT for another time and pick up 2 wraps. Aaaaaak!

I will leave you to decide what you would prefer but it would have been nice to have a slightly more in depth explanation of this and provisional cast on methods in this book.

Another book I have recently received, I just found an absolute joy. I have got
to the stage where I want books to either be purely technique, or to have vast amounts of facts surrounding knitting in them and I rarely buy a book to follow a pattern these days. Amy Singer's No Sheep For You has the best description of materials in yarn composition and how they behave. Obviously, as she is allergic to wool, this is a definitive guide of non fleece products and it is a really good thing to have to hand if you are a designer looking for more interesting options to write patterns with and get readers interested. I am slightly allergic to wool, it depends on the kind and how much of the original grease is in there so I suspect it is a slight lanolin allergy, and I hate acrylic so this book has a good guide. There are some beautiful patterns as well, and true to the house style of Knitty, those designs have interesting or unique features that hold a inspire and give rise to admiration.

My third recent acquisition is a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters and as the title implies it is an emergency guide on how to fix some of the things that might happen when no other source is to hand (like a good knitting buddy on the net perhaps...as they;re all in bed). Now this is a great book for a beginner, but for someone who has been there and done that (as in made lots of mistakes before) I found it a disappointing read because I did know most of the techniques in there, or could have improvised them in dire emergency and I a m not a naturally resourceful type and a keen frogger of things that just ain't right.

However, there are many questions in there that people often ask me, so I can't knock it for a person who hasn't learned to 'read' their own knitting as such. I've always been taught, mainly out of being self sufficient, to understand the structure of my stitches, so that I can go back and fix the odd mistake without frogging but I can also avoid mistakes by being able to recognise exactly what I have just done rather than rely on ticking off rows or writing it down.

Now for people who are at an intermediate stage like me, apart from just learning by experience, it is quite easy to reach a plateau. For instance, I know how to knit lace, I understand patterns, and charts BUT I would really love to be able to design lace. I'm not talking about taking an established stitch pattern form a library or tradition, and then designing a garment fitting those repeats in, I am talking about actually designing lace patterns form scratch, brand new twining knots, or leaves or flowers or anything where I was able to 'draw' with my knitting needles.

I did do this with a lace and bobble pattern, which I wanted to have slanting wheat sheaves in different directions. it does look like a lot of other patterns but I did construct this completely on my own, although it is basic. Now how did someone in our history actually sit down and start to design stitch patterns? Did they experiment, get a total mess and perhaps just one time out of a hundred it worked? What were the processes? Every time I think to enroll on a course, I invariably find that actually, they are teaching the basics in that subject, although that subject be it lace knitting or texture knitting is classed as an advance subject. I was excited for instance, to see that Amy Singer is holding a lace workshop at Loop, but disappointed when I read the details and she was actually going through a pattern in her book, and teaching how to knit that pattern. I thought lace workshop meant making up new stitch patterns of our own, and learning what each little part does and how to use it.

Oh well, I suppose I am back to experimenting on my own. And never really getting anywhere because there is nothing like a workshop to kick you up the behind and do your homework.

So where are all these people who can do these innovative things and pass on to other generations? Or do we all just depend on the existing stitch libraries now in our tradition?

Some Pagan Thoughts
Magic Warning!

Gosh, I feel old, I have read lots of books and Pagan articles, and realised it was 15-20yrs ago and cannot remember a thing!

I feel like a lapsed Pagan, but really, once you have absorbed the principles, you don't need to be a City Witch who can recite the names of all the deities and give off a holier than thou essence. Pagan, does mean being in touch with the forces of nature so I *feel it* and experience it, rather than learn it. Principles guide the way I live my everyday life and are not a hobby to delve into in a separate box from everything else I do.

I can't recite lots of stuff, it gets forgotten, but I can experience some psychic and intuitive stuff when I tune into it. After a brief time of experimenting, and making spells, I did run out of things to ask for that don't end up having a threefold backlash, and I realised that I didn't want anything that badly that wasn't already my destiny. For example, if I wasn't ill (a bad thing) I would never have got into knitting in such a big way (a good thing)

I once went to a Pagan discussion group called The Talking Stick, and each week we had a talk by people like Marian Green (her books on ritual and natural magic and others in the series are good), but once some nutty Utopian Nazi type people (very scary), one of which actually said "I practice black magic to bring about our Utopian ideal, but I fully believe that to achieve this, means getting it by evil means, and therefore I fully accept that there is no place for a person like me in our own Utopian future once realised"

It was very interesting, although I was shocked at the number of Pagans who smoked and drank (their bodies being an ashtray rather than a temple) but on the whole, when people got talking, it was like a Pagan Olympics, a typical conversation would go:

Pagan Priestess (dressed in purple velvet robes and wafting frankincense perfume)"Hi my name is Starbusty Moonmenstrual what's yours?"
Lapsed Pagan (T Shirt and jeans)"Er...Erssie..."

How high can you go on Astral Projection?
"....well I can go 10 feet....|
"Is that all? I can go 1000 feet. Which 'group' are you a member of then?
"Um I practice rarely, in a solitary fashion"
"Oh, I am in the OTO, but don't ask me what that is cos it is secret (and I can't remember what it stands for), so how many names do you know for female representations in the invisible realm?"
"UM...one? er Goddess?"
"Oh, you need to read these books....." (hands over bibliography, list so long it is designed to keep you indoors in a distinctly non pagan atmosphere until you die)
Erssie "So, do you get outdoors much....have any pets......live a healthy lifestyle?"

Pagan Priestess "Er...what with all the reading, and my high powered office IT job, and living in the centre of London....er well, I just buy herbs from Mysteries (shop in Neal's Yard) and burn them on the incense burner every night...er what about you?" Takes a drag on her 10th cigarette for the evening and a swill of dirty looking ale

Erssie "Well, I do go out at Beltane, and talk to the Hawthorn...I watch my animals to give me signs of how to live, and experience their joy outdoors....."
Priestess"Oh, I wouldn't know what plants actually *look* like in the wild, in their natural habitat, and these robes trip me up a bit in mud, but I could tell you the page number on which it appears in Culpepers Herbal.."
Erssie gets tube home, to suburban but leafy green fields just outside London and cuddles up to her greyhound familiars. Pagan priestess goes to dingy patchouli smelling bedsit in North London, then becomes prematurely aged on fags and beer.

Keep up the reading and enjoy, but new Pagans, do quickly get involved in the principle of experiencing magic which after all is only a science whose principles are out there, whether you access them or not.
I do think that books should help define what you already know and feel, and should help you to feel a little less solitary. Books on visualisation, and meditation exercises and Natural Magic can be a good way of introducing you to the principles of your *own* unique experience, then you can read about other peoples. I used to live next door to a booky Pagan, and she had never seen anything from the other realm in her life, so bogged down with the academics was she, whereas my partner and myself were 'witches' and experienced 'weirdness' as children before we even knew what that meant.
Then again, we could just be mad and imagining it all....

And how does this relate to knitting? There is a Pagan Crafter's group on the forum of which is a new Pagan asking for reading materials, and finding myself at a loss to think of what is actually useful I had the above thoughts.

And, I have a few knitting charts of these symbols drawn up and graphed, just need to knit them before someone else does!