Days like these….


Some days are just plain painful, not for any reason in particular (at least not one I can attach any tangible sense to) but just for the sheer fact that remaining upright is an effort and maintaining a smile bearing any vague semblance to a genuine entity a chore.

My head throbs. My eyes prick. My neck and shoulders are locked: stubbornly resistant, oppressively tight. There is this malicious thing going at my chest with a fork. It is blunt and tarnished, void of serration and shine. It is old, too and overly admired. As for my heart, that most delicate of creatures: it feels fragile and weak, like it’s been recently broken by some element or identity it most desperately loves.

I’m not sure where to attribute the blame: the weather, the date, the season, bodily hormones, the phase of the moon, events, recent treatment of self by self and/or by others, or just life in general and the incomprehensible nature of it.

Not that blaming helps. Attaching a label is never a wise thing to do and rarely serves a greater purpose beyond shrinking and limiting. Call a glass of milk a glass of milk and it can never be anything but a glass of milk. Present it as a potent vessel, life-giving liquid, a substance matching a March moon in colour trapped within a container resembling in clarity a pair of NHS glasses or else tri-annually cleaned windows, and it is immediately that much more interesting. At least in my book it is. To you, it may now just be confusing.

As I said: I have a migraine and my thoughts are jumbled. I’m writing in an attempt to evict the pain and because, otherwise, my afternoon will be empty of employment. I can’t read. I can’t sleep. The thought of meditating, although tempting, also seems like a waste. I want to do something useful but my options are limited. This is the compromise.

Pining August, missing her already despite still sitting pretty within the arms of her last day embrace, I am trying to remain in the moment. If I look back, I see the ribbon of summer – colourful-worn and spent. Forwards, I see autumn leading towards winter, the approach of weather that hurts, sky that is mean, sun that doesn’t like very often to come out. A time of wrapped up, curled up, hunched in front of while the wind screams in earnest and the clouds weep. I see me disappearing. My voice fading. My confidence failing. Tears close by.

So I’m trying to stay where I am. Trying to make the most of every day I have. Trying to do enough so as to warrant justification and stave off regret. And I am managing, just about. Even with this pain, I am obedient to routine: traveling to new places, working out and about, visiting people, being as sociable as my limited diary will permit. I’m not slacking. I’m not shying. So why isn’t it easier? Why does this black thing, this shadow, follow me around and about? What did I do to deserve it? What can I do to make it go away?

I rest. I exercise. I meditate. I read enriching books. I express myself in words and in imagery. I make sure I get enough air and light. I eat raw ingredients and buy organic products. I avoid sugar and processed foods. I restrict, as much as possible, violence and crime, distressing information, destructive people, depressing news. I protect myself. I love my dog and I allow her to love me. I express myself openly and honestly – to my partner and to my friends, allowing them to do the same back. I try to be nice to everyone I meet, to give instead of take. I put in as well as extract, invest as well as lay claim. I believe in my purpose, my destiny: something I have looked deep to find, worked hard to own, and attend to daily. Surely life should be better having done and still doing all of this? That is, after all, supposed to be the answer.

But who is this omniscient being who professes to know what makes us tick; what repairs the cogs that are dented, the coils that are squeaking, the wheels that are turning the wrong way? He’s not God. He’s some intellectual who has studied a lot, some guru who claims to be enlightened. He’s not the real thing. He’s not even always a ‘he’. How can we, I, trust something so ordinary, so similar in genetic makeup? We can’t really and we oughtn’t to, but we do, because at the end of the day all any of us wants is answers, solutions to problems and questions; because the not-knowing how, why or when is just too big, vast, empty to live with. Like looking over the edge of a building or down into the depths of a well, there is this aching feeling, this hollow scream, a carved-out wound that feels like a child that ought to be there but isn’t, a lost baby, a dead pet. It makes one want to jump, to just hurry up and get it over with, to bail out. And it also makes one feel absolutely terrified. Far easier to simply buy into, accept, adopt, leap onto and cling. Whether it’s Deepak, Robbins, Hay, Hart, the Dali Lama, Buddism as a belief, Christianity as a crucible, Gestalt and Jung as theories and philosophies: anything, everything; one, two, ten… is a better thing to cling to than empty space.

I look. I find. I try. I attach. And for a time, I am full. Then the gnawing returns and my soul complains that it is hungry again and needs to feed. Like a child with worms, there is no sating it. And it’s the no sating, no solving, no sedating, that enslaves me.

So I lie here in limbo, an adult crying for a parent who no longer exists, yearning for a breast that has long-since been interred; essentially waiting for a miracle that may (or may not) eventually come. It’s a sorry state of affairs to be managing and yet somehow I am in charge of it.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Cats Feet


She wakes to a fresh opportunity: wide, open, yawning with room. Like the soft silence of cats feet, the hushed whisper of secrets, the calm that floats upon the aftermath of a storm: space to get up, stretch, run around.

Lifting a hand – raising first one arm and then the other – she embraces it, pressing it to her breast, pulling it against her chest. Then, heart sated, she rises – slowly, reluctant to alter her perspective lest she shatter the transformation that appears, overnight, to have changed the world in which she exists.

Sunlight warms a patch on the floor – grey, concrete, habitually cold. Departing the rug – sheepskin, white, once sleek, now matted beyond repair – naked feet set out across unobstructed terrain, padding lightly down a hallway, through a sitting room, past a bathroom that doubles as a corridor into a kitchen beyond. There, stopping, a head looks up, casts two eyes at a window, implores the body corresponding, belonging, attached, to respond, walking towards it with haste. Reaching, opening, feeling, inhaling: fresh, fragrant and full. She is in love with summer; it is a recent discovery and she cannot get enough of it, of what it means. To lie baking on a lounger beneath a clear blue sky, turning first golden and then cinnamon brown; to swim – initially clothed and then partly and then not at all – in an outdoor pool used only by her; to play music – loud, to stay up – late, to cook and eat outside, to sleep without hinderance from a duvet; to hear the chirrup of crickets, the buzz of bees, to see bats cast shadows across a yolken moon; to watch it wax, wane: new, precious, vital. To have to part with it, to be forced to bid it goodbye, farewell: inconceivable. And yet she must, and soon, for September beckons, threatening a slow return to all she has sought and still most ardently desires to evade.

So the letter – encased in Manila; pocket-sized, informal, handwritten – piques her interest. Inside unknown, it could represent anything: an invitation, an announcement, a job offer, an unsolicited proposition of love – and because of this there is a reluctance to break the seal, to release the contents. She cannot bear, for now, for the moment, for the first few breaths of the morning that feels so full, so alive, so pregnant, to shatter the dream. To go back, to return, to stay and to slowly be swallowed: too painful for her.

A heart flutters, a soul flaps its reply, a mind adjusts itself to the possibilities – considering every angle, exploring all corners, climbing the visage of walls, exposing the flat expanse of floors, lifting up planks and probing beneath. Good, bad, ugly; meeting, greeting; considering, contemplating; accepting, rejecting; embracing, fleeing: so much to accommodate, so little to satisfy, such a small window of hope.

The phone rings, pulling her up, out, into the room and back into her body. Leaving the letter, she descends: feeling heavy; aware again of the inconvenience of weight and the intrusion of sound. Feet crash, soles slap, knees creak and ankles click. She is getting old: the lines on her face, the grey in her hair, the recent sag of certain formerly-pert bits – breast, belly, butt – proving it. Time flies, regardless of whether you are having fun. Hours pass, slowly but surely; ignorant to feelings, untouched by pain. It’s all the same to them: tick, tock, flik, flak; round and round, evolution after revolution. To the world: she is nothing; less significant, even, than a speck of dust, a smear of dirt, a drop of water stolen from the middle of an ocean. But to her: that envelope, that morning, mean everything – hope, escape, salvation, survival. To crush it, that, would be to crush the happily ever after, killing the naïve notions that she has always clung to, polished, nurtured and insisted upon growing up: the staunch belief that one day her prince will come, that together they will cross over, stepping across a veiled threshold, walking beneath a fading rainbow, descending into coral shadow to embrace vanilla light.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A Fit Bird

Dishing the dirt

OK, so it’s time to ‘fess-up and dish the dirt on all that I have been avoiding – and here I am talking about the things that I have been stepping around as if they were both odious and frightening: things that keep me awake, that play on repeat, that torture and torment me when they think that no one else is looking or listening in.

Of course, there are many of these (and I have no doubt that you possess your own fair share of devious miscreants you would like to ignore or outrun) but I have decided ‘in the nature of taking things slowly so as not to scare the tiny bird of courage away’ to start with one: my newsletter. It is an issue that I have been evading, posting bits of writing as and when they come but neglecting to show you my actual art as it develops and progresses. There is a reluctance to be vulnerable, to expose myself to the thoughts, feelings, whimsies and opinions of other people, in case they don’t match up and hurt me. And it occurred to me the other day that this was actually rather sad and something I will come to regret.

So, in a bid to reduce the measure of that remorse as and when it arrives, I have decided to begin at once and make a start. And while I might not feel ‘officially’ ready, because my website is still in progress: I am aware that it is going to be growing for quite some time, so I may never catch up. Besides, it’s about time I took my own advice. I am constantly gently pushing and encouraging others; I need to now take those steps myself.

A leap of faith

Why is it important to document and share? After all, it’s intensely personal, entails risk and presents you naked and vulnerable to the world on mass. And when you put it like that, it sounds positively scary: something to avoid at all costs. And yet, somehow, it’s not.

From my point of view, documenting will be like building a time capsule; my newsletter serving as the all-important container. It will allow me to look back and remember and to observe both my evolution and my development along the way. It will illustrate the transition from blank to full, simultaneously revealing how each fresh piece came to life, gaining a story and a soul. And it will clear up the issue of just how long each one takes, resolving the mystery which has come to haunt me like a dinner-impatient dog, pestering the heels of my meticulous and details-oriented mind.

From your perspective, on the other hand, which is arguably more important as you are the one reading this: it will hopefully unveil the particulars behind what I do, showing you how I go about it and thus encouraging similar imaginative forays and bold adventures on your side. I’m also hoping you will post pictures, sharing with me your achievements and your mistakes, and feel confident enough to put up your hand and ask when some extra help or advice is needed.

Love thy neighbour

We live in far too isolated a world and our separateness creates so many unnecessary problems within the smaller circle of our lives. It is important, therefore, to protect ourselves; to have a network – a sibling, a soulmate, a best friend, a mentor, an advisor, a therapist, a parent, a partner, a spouse, a much older and wiser someone to turn to when things don’t work out, when we are scared or alone, etc… And they don’t have to be related or real. I have people who fill those roles for me and they come in many shapes, sizes and guises. My dog is one of them, even if she isn’t technically a person. My grandmother too, despite having passed away. I speak to them both and always they reply, although I might have to be patient and open to the signs, willing to read beyond the obvious for the advice underneath.

I hope that creatively I can be there for you, providing whatever you, in that moment, require.

I also want to encourage creative confidence and growth in as many people as possible. It is my wish for everyone to have a tool to turn to when they need something solid and safe to hold on to, something they can rely on when everything else appears to have let them down: when the world is still afloat, still rushing by, but when they themselves are sinking.

Smile, you’re on camera

Below is a photo journal of my latest piece, featuring a flamingo. “Why a flamingo?” I hear you ask. “Well, flamingos are bright, bold and silly little birds and they remind me of summer.” Sometimes, that’s all the encouragement you need.

Alternatively, you can use the following links to:

View the rest of my work (i.e. my online gallery/portfolio)
Adopt a piece (what the heck is this?)
Commission your own bespoke creation (how do I do this? I’m intrigued)

A proper tangle: day one

Selecting a colour palette

Each time I begin a new piece, I start by selecting a colour palette. Looking to my emotions for assistance, I let my heart do the picking, trying to stay out of the way, going with my gut. If for some reason I feel guided towards colours that clash or combinations I usually dislike, I don’t resist: I unravel, wind and cut. It is important to me that the entire process is organic, that it comes from deep inside, from the place where my creativity lives and thrives.

A bird by any other name: day two


Destined to be a flamingo

This piece was destined to be a flamingo; I knew this from the beginning, before I even put needle to thread. Some friends here on the island (Mallorca, if you are unfamiliar with my background) have just opened a boutique and, obsessed with flamingos, built their brand around the leggy redhead. Never having written about, drawn, sewn or knitted a flamingo in any shape or form, I was curious as to the challenge it might present and intrigued to see how something I wouldn’t necessarily have selected might translate. This is the bird as it came off my needles, before it really resembled anything: a strange pink shape with various bits sticking out, camel-like in appearance. At this point, I am unsure about it, undecided as to whether I like it and whether it is good enough to be kept. But, abiding by my own rules – those of going with the flow, allowing, keeping, refraining from condemning or counting as a mistake – I am determined to stand by it. To do otherwise, would be a betrayal of myself, breaking the bond I am trying so hard to forge.

Sexy pins: day three


It’s quirky and I like it

My flamingo is beginning to take shape, looking more and more like it should, developing a presence and a personality. It’s quirky and I like it. I have forgiven it for yesterday, when I was doubting the success of the venture and the ability of my hands. They know what they are doing and I should know better than to question the silent dialogue they share with my head. I may not be privy to the words or the message, but the physical statement is clear: when I allow, it usually works; when I interfere, it gets tangled up and eventually breaks. Standing back, trusting, waiting, listening to the stitches….. this is the way to proceed. 

So, what is there to report?

Well, first up my flamingo has an eye. It is pale blue in colour and matches the sky. It’s not what an actual flamingo’s eye looks like (they are yellow and beady with pinprick pupils) but I liked this one better, lit has more warmth and depth. In reality, flamingos are a bit spooky; they give me the creeps.

Next, comes the beak. It is made out of variegated sock yarn, which means it changes in colour as you knit, creating a pattern – sometimes complex, sometimes simple. It is pink in colour. It looks a bit sinister at the moment. Dare I say a bit fallic? But I have faith that it will soften with the addition of some shiny bits.

And finally, the legs: the pièce de résistance; for what is a flamingo without its legendary pins? – they are, after all, it’s most distinguishing feature. They need them to wade through deep water to get to the fish. And also to balance. What you think are their knees, are actually their ankles. Don’t believe me? Read this. Anyway, back to the point. I used the same variegated sock yarn here as before and allowed the wool to dictate the colour. I think they worked out rather well, considering I made them up. At any rate, my camel now looks like a bird.

All that shimmers: day four

This piece gets more exciting each day and I am enjoying watching it grow. As I add to it, I slowly warm to it and fall in love. This part of the process is vital: for without emotion, there is no creation; when I hate a piece, I find it almost impossible to work on it; like reading a boring book, it drags, every moment agony.

Today I added beads and sequins, which, as you can imagine, took a long time. It also required a good deal of patience. But I find the process of accessorising quite therapeutic as it allows me to zone out, disappearing into my head.

Redeeming features

And my beak has redeemed itself, as I knew that it would. It’s almost crown-like in appearance: a tiara encrusted with jewels, making my flamingo look royal, a creature with a distinguished roots. Does that make me, its mother, blue-blooded too? Or is something bigger than me to credit for its aesthetic demeanour: the Universe, God, ancestral spirits, Mother Nature, elves, fairies, etc…?

I spend the rest of the day adding to various parts, working slowly so as not to overdo it. I have a tendency to crowd a piece and I am trying to remedy this: pulling back, listening before responding, waiting for the inner message to emerge, giving myself up to the process.

Fly by night: day five

Next comes the wing, a vital accessory, necessary for both beauty and movement. After all: a bird without wings is like a spider without legs.


A spider without legs

Interestingly, the common assumption is that flamingos can’t fly. I, too, believed this. And why not? They look too big, too heavy. Their legs are too long. However, thanks to Google and an article on the anatomy of said bird, I have now been set straight. Flamingos do indeed fly, it’s just not a widely known fact because they mostly fly at night and we don’t see them. They also aren’t actually pink. Their colour varies, depending on the foot they eat. The more Beta Carotene, the deeper the pink. Conversely, flamingos that are white are malnourished and sick. So, if you see an alabaster flamingo, don’t just admire it, simultaneously documenting it and posting it on all of your social networks: take out your mobile and phone the R.S.P.A or your respective country’s equivalent. Otherwise, it might die. 

This wing took me several hours and is all I have to report. The rest of my time was spent on another piece, which contains a rainbow frog and a pink-haired fairy standing in a meadow underneath a cloudy moonlit sky. With a pastel palette and lots of beads and sequins, it is very colourful and shiny.

Anyway, I think the wing worked, adding an element that was missing. It needed something to balance it out. So far it has been all head and leg. The wing makes it feel more complete, like a story with a middle as well as a beginning and an ending.

Luscious locks: day six


More fictional in nature

Applying hair made me laugh. Technically, a flamingo doesn’t have any hair, but I wanted mine to have more character than the real thing and to be more fictional in nature. It’s like fairies: as far as one can prove, they don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or that I can’t choose to remain open to the possibility that they might. After all, who am I to say? Believing in Father Christmas got me presents; The Tooth Fairy, cash. And anyway, life is better that way: more mystical and less daunting. If one believes in fairies, then one can believe in fairy godmothers and magic and bad things going away. It’s the same with my flamingo: if she has wings, she can fly; if she has hair, she can look pretty and secure a prince, and, if I am lucky enough to meet her, even in my dreams, perhaps we can talk? After all: if she has one made up thing, there’s no reason why she can’t have others. 

I also carefully cut around my flamingo with sharp scissors and stitched her onto a larger piece of felt. Now she is centre stage, ready for the rest of her narrative.

Will it be day or night? Will the weather be foul or favourable? Where will she be: the beach, the city, the forest, a meadow, etc…? Will she have companions? If so, who? And what will be her underlying message? All of my pieces have a story to tell about something that is happening or has happened in my life, reflecting the events of the world around me and my own personal landscape. The longer you look at them, the more you see, picking out your own messages and writing your own script, their translation unique to each individual who comes to visit.

A shiny tail and a beaded bottom: day seven

Now for the finishing touches, at least to the bird. The background comes later and shall be documented differently, or else we shall be on this journey forever, you and I, and getting distracted. Not that it’s an unpleasant journey. It’s just that there are other things we should be getting on with and it doesn’t do to delay in one area since the rest then gets neglected. I have a frog and a princess to complete, a cabled iPad case to finish, a Kindle case to knit, a necklace to design, a cheer-up present for a friend to stitch and send off, and a pair of gloves to block. Added to that, there is writing and drawing. My hands are never idle and neither is my mind.

The tail is another element added for aesthetic pleasure. It evens out the head and the wing, bringing the bird as a whole into balance with itself. It’s also rather fun and the more beads and sequins the better. I like their softening effect, the otherworldlyness they add to a piece. Looking at the bird now, I think she is finished. I will start to work on the rest of the piece and return to her later if compelled. From here on in, I shall document on a weekly basis. Most pieces taking two to three months to complete, that’s plenty of pictures and accompanying text. Any more, and you’ll have fallen asleep on me, drooling on your desk and ruining your paperwork. This is not, after all, a novella. Although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.


Added for aesthetic pleasure

The ribbon, in case you are wondering, is the one I have selected to border the piece: my version of a frame. I like the fact that is is bright and colourful, like my bird, and also that I haven’t used it yet. My choice may change later, but for now I think it fits.

Under the light of a silvery moon: week two

This week I French-knitted a moon and some waves to represent the sea and continental-styled a lace pattern to serve as clouds. Something new; something previously untested: I was interested to see if it would work. I have made fingerless gloves using this pattern (lots – I have a tendency to get addicted*) but nothing abstract, nothing entirely my own. So far, so good. I am pleased with its appearance on the fabric and will do a little more, perhaps down the top right-hand side of the piece to cushion the moon.

* Last year it was socks and now I have drawers full of them. The year before, it was hats. It’s anyone’s guess what comes next…

A moon and some waves

The moon itself is made out of a Fairisle-effect yarn – faux-Fairisle to be precise, similar to the one I used for my iPad case. In fact, it may be the same ball. It’s a pretty pastel pattern and nicely represents a sunset in the Mediterranean.

The sea, a baby blue in a hue that I adore – soft and delicate, warm rather than cold – is also new for me. I haven’t tried waves with water. Usually I just make it flat, a calm sea, undisturbed by life and nature. This time, I have curled it up and down and then added French knots (because I love them and like to let them exist at least once in every picture) just above to represent the froth; the white horses, so to speak. The yarn beneath the waves is a paler blue, with a fine metallic thread running through it: tricky to sew with but worth it for the effect. To me, it suggests magical things: the beauty that often lies hidden beneath the exterior, the wealth inherent within the subconscious mind, what we all conceal and entrap for fear of harm or pain. It also accommodates the unpredictability of nature, the chaotic dance of life; the constant movement each of us must endure, embracing or resisting, up to us.

Slow and steady: week five

Pretty in pink

Stitching in earnest

I know I wasn’t going to continue here, instead beginning and from there updating another post, a fresh one, but I decided in the name of simplicity to remain and to keep a tight rein on myself. In the future, it means everything is in one place, neat, tidy and ordered, which is the way I like to live my life.

As you can see, I have begun to stitch in earnest – first attaching my flamingo scene to a plain piece of felt and then edging it with ribbon. It is a slow task, heavy on the eyes, and I proceed slowly limited by the available light. Evenings have begun to draw in. I have lost an hour of creative time and am fighting off the darkness at 8pm. By 9pm, I have lost the battle. All is black: blue a distant memory, white absent, save for the silvery moon, which shines intermittently. Although she too has been elsewhere lately, deserting me just as surely as my manmade substitute has. The hotel terrace where I currently work has sequestered my gerkin for alternative use and it now lights the tourists frequenting the outside BBQ as opposed to me. My flamingo and eyes morn its departure as deeply as if it were a close and long-held friend.

Crossing over: week 6


Ready to fly

I’ve had to wait for pity to descend in order to continue. Stitching without light is unwise, especially given the fate that befell my previous piece Wings and Webbed Feet. Once bitten: twice shy, so to speak. I am suitably humbled and chastised. Luckily, an unlikely benefactor came to my aid and I have been gifted a fresh light. The chef in charge of the BBQ, a man whose food I have never savoured and in passing only once spoken to, took pity on me, fearing for the health of my eyes, ordering the return of the one he took away. I think, in his bottle-top glasses, he learned the hard way and, in his kindness, sought to at least attempt to save me the same fate.

Reunited, almost leant up against, fighting for space with the moths, I have stitched in earnest and managed to arrive at the end. My flamingo is ready to fly, to go out and officially meet the world. I am happy with her, given that we have been on an eventful journey with many highs and lows: waiting several weeks for a new order of sequins to turn up, just one of them; others entailing hunting every haberdashery department and shop I could think of on the island in order to find five pale pink sequins for my fish who, although far from greedy in her requirements, managed to exhaust my existing supply. Because I often buy things on impulse, keeping them for that ‘special’ piece, not knowing exactly when I might need them or if I even will but sensing that I will appreciate the instinct and foresight one day, I regularly lose track of where they originated, sometimes even in terms of country. When this happens, it takes me a while to hunt them back down, or, in extreme circumstances, locate a substitute. Usually, bar the one incident where I lost through no fault of my own but the manufacturer discontinuing the line, I win, even if it means I have to go through Ebay or online shop clearance bins. Where there’s a will: there’s usually a way; and if not, the creative thinking that ensues eventually lands me somewhere far better than if the simple solution had applied. For this reason, I entrust my path to fate and the whimsical nature of the Greater Power up above.

• Meet the rest of my flamingo’s friends
• Check out my shop


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Wings and Webbed Feet

Once upon a time…

A long time ago, before either you or I were born; before, even, most of us can remember – not our mothers or our grandmothers, or their mothers and their grandmothers – there was a handsome prince. And, like many far-off fabled princes, he was spoilt and mean. He teased his sister, chased his maid, terrorised the kitchen staff, shouted at both of his parents; refused to attend school, whether home or otherwise, and spent most of his spare time (which, considering he rejected investing in anything that wasn’t directly relevant to him, was a lot) catching moths, dissecting butterflies, tormenting little kittens and stealing baby birds.

The prince who favoured the beast

The handsome prince

His family, being good God-fearing people, suffered his behaviour to the best of their ability, attempting to instil their beliefs and values into him in the hope that, eventually, he would change. And for a while, they genuinely believed that he would.

But as the years passed and he grew from a boy into a man, drawing ever closer to the time when he would, traditionally, inherit the kingdom: their concern grew, it’s toes extending into every corner.

Fearing the destruction of everything they held dear: the community they had built, the people they worked hard to protect, the landscape that not only inspired artists but attracted writers from miles around, they called in external help, turning to the one person they knew they could rely on. And while her ways were initially painful, often confusing and unusually harsh, they accepted that they were also always right.

The one person they knew they could rely on

The one person they knew they could rely on

So began a time of mourning, in which the kingdom wept a thousand tears and all who lived there learnt to pray for compassion and forgiveness.

Years passed and nothing much happened: the king turned grey, the queen grew plump, the staff became less vigilant and the townsfolk gradually withdrew, for, although they knew it wasn’t their fault, they couldn’t help feeling responsible for the way that things had turned out.

The frog prince

The prince, and what befell him

As for the prince: he grew into a man – bitter, twisted and resentful, all the worse for the feelings his punishment had evoked in him.

Hiding inside the palace walls, he survived the comments, whispers, stares and judgement by keeping to himself.

And then, one day, the king of Mercy arrived with his daughter, Grace, and the prince, who was now a frog, awoke, the beast inside him dissolving in an instant.

The fairy princess

The beautiful princess

Determined to win the hand of the beautiful princess, the not-quite-so-beautiful prince set about improving, first attending to his own (up until now) wicked ways, and then extending his efforts further into every attainable interior of the kingdom.

Slowly, the chill began to melt. Life returned, laughter resumed and, once again, love remembered.

And then a question was asked and a hole was created – inside of which, there existed everything.

Meanwhile, in the present day…

So far, so good…

This piece is under construction and currently receiving lots of love. I am working on it slowly, in conjunction with several other pieces:

a pink flamingo
• a collection of beaded spindle bracelets
• a cabled iPad and Kindle case (mini iPad and iPhone to follow)
• a cheer-up present for a friend

Having more than one piece on the go helps to keep me in motion, the pressure providing motivation that, in the heat of summer, it is otherwise hard to maintain.

A place where anything can happen and often does

The inspiration for this piece is loosely based upon the tale of the Frog Prince, the title initiating a journey I then followed independently; the idea being that all little boys are smelly and nasty and mean to girls, pulling their hair and spitting at them until they grow into big strong men, who can – if kissed in the right way, by the right girl – turn into princes and later kings.

Like so many of my pieces, this one, too, is evocative of fairytales: a place where anything can happen and often does and good wins out over evil, eventually…

I read vicariously as a child and was enchanted and entranced by mythology and folk law. I still am, especially the dark stuff. My favourite authors include: Aesop, The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, Giambattista Basile, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve… to name but a few.

I also have a deep love for Enid Blyton, William Nicholson, J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, Ursula LeGuinn, Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

An colourful proposition

This narrative, mine, as pictured both above and below, depicts a frog and a fairy princess in a state of limbo: the frog deeply in love, desirous of the princess’s hand; the princess not quite so sure, for, while not terrifyingly ugly, the frog is a little garish with his rainbow dreadlocks and his feet that refuse the inside of shoes.


A state of limbo

Is matrimony to such a creature wise? And why does she have feelings for something so slippery and slimy anyway? Where did they come from? Her emotions unnerve her.

Indecisive moments twinned with periods of doubt

The working title for this piece is ‘The Frog Prince and The Fairy Princess’. But I don’t know if it’s right.

Playing around with other ideas, I am considering:

• Wings and Webbed Feet
• Beauty and the Frog
• The Frog Prince


Otherwise known as

What do you think?

If you have a flash of inspiration, a stroke of genius or a brilliant brainwave, let me know. The top answer will be declared the winner and awarded a crown: one of my own; self-invented, hand-devised.

The point at which I say…

Ok, so this is supposed to be the point at which I say: “Hurray. We are finished…”, pushing myself vertical to dance in public; twirling, euphoric; jumping up and spinning round and around. And I did, for a day. And then I came back and looked again – closer this time, inspecting for detail; searching for mistake, error – and it struck me, slowly, that something wasn’t right. Something was missing, felt off. As a whole, it was incomplete; the landscape, too white.

So, as much as it pains me (and it does, because I have spent so long on this already: days, nights, etc.), I have to go back and attend. I’m thinking some French knots around the edge of the inner canvas. Or a thin knitted line – something to box it in, pin it down. Also, possibly some embroidered stars, or some beaded and sequinned ones? Or some knitted tendrils, like on my previous piece The Princess and the Pe-kinese and similar to those on the tree above? I will ponder it for a week and then decide. There is nothing but disaster to be gained from leaping. Less haste: more speed.

A stitch in time

To be, or not to be…

I am praying in earnest to all of my stars, lucky or otherwise, that what transpires is what I need and that that will be the solution. It would be a shame, a tragedy, even, to be left with an unusable piece. If I don’t love it: I can’t sell it. Besides: if it looks less than great, it’s not like anyone else will want it either, unless they have a penchant for collecting lost and hopeless things, things that need rescuing. It’s probably something I would do. I collect broken things: objects, animals, people, plants. I cannot stand to see them standing alone, needing comfort, requiring aid, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness. It physically pains me.

When I was a child, I could never part with my toys. I worried about their feelings, how they would fair. I couldn’t bear the thought of their pain at being thrown away or at being deemed unwanted. They had hearts, souls. They were alive. They got lonely if they got left, dismissed. Hurt if they fell or were dropped. It was a complicated job navigating all of them and still having room for me. I’m not sure I ever managed it.

But I digress… Back to the art. That is, after all, what you are here for, what you are really interested in. My childhood, my past, my injuries and my neuroses: they are part of another world, one you can subscribe to if you so desire but one which I will not force upon you if not.

Strength and perspective

Absence makes the heart grow stronger and distance provides perspective. After having stepped away for several weeks – focussing on other projects; concentrating on things that, kindly, were working in my favour – I have returned: doubly inspired, solution inhand.

Like most things, it was actually relatively simple when it came down to it; the mistake, easy to remedy, not entirely of my hand. The culprit, the ribbon, was the wrong colour: too dark, too oriental, beige. It needed to be more subtle, not to compete so much with the piece; to compliment it, frame it, rather than dominating and weighing it down.

I searched around in my ribbon drawer (yes, I actually have a whole drawer dedicated to housing ribbons… And, my goodness… I have so very many. I think I’m a little obsessed, acting like a squirrel preparing for winter lest my current shop of choice – and, I hasten to add, the only one available to me here – should close down, move away or sell out) and found the perfect design: delicate flowers (blue, orange and yellow) on a white background.

Now all I have to do is carefully unpick the existing one so that I can sew this in its place. Having only just finished adding the ribbon edging to my pink flamingo, I am aware of the time involved, the concentration required and the damage such detail does to my eyes and, potentially, the piece. It is not a task I relish or approach with enthusiasm. But it is an important one, worth every bit of the pain for what it adds to the result.


Free from offending entities

As I said above: absence makes the heart grow fonder. And it does, because, having removed the offending entity without consequence, I am thawing out again. The dominating ribbon, the ribbon that wants to overpower the piece – ruling me, my handiwork, my princess and my web-footed prince out of the picture and into the ether of non-existence and negative effect – is once again separate, sequestered to the relevant drawer.

Now I just have to attach a fresh background of white felt and then add the new ribbon. I sense a series of long evenings.

I spy: not a lot

I have been straining my eyes on this one, racing against the setting sun, the following darkness. I have turned German too, if only in my antics, running out onto the hotel terrace where I work most evenings in a bid to secure my usual seat, the only one with light, before anyone else takes it. I’m not sure why, but the rest is unlit, bereft even of candles. It’s strange. Silly too. Do the management not realise how depressing it is to sit in the dark, struggling to see what colour your drink is, what your companions look like; unable, even, to read? Or do they presume we all have Kindles and iPads to accommodate our needs?

But what if you are eating? This isn’t Dine in the Dark, no matter how much I would like that – just the once, if only to try it. It’s on my wish list after my brother did it in Singapore with his wife. It sounds like a laugh, even if you do end up with food all down your front and indigestion from eating goodness knows what.

Stitching myself blind

A fresh piece of felt and two lengths of ribbon

After three nights or roughly six hours, I have managed to attach a fresh piece of felt and two lengths of ribbon. Two down: two more to go. Or it should be, only there was a slight technical hitch yesterday afternoon leaving me to navigate a temporary delay. Well, there had to be, didn’t there, if only so that this piece could live up to its reputation of a noxious little beast. I blame it on the frog, I think he’s a little too fond, reluctant to leave the lap within which, nightly, he is lovingly caressed. And who can blame him? It’s a lovely lap, even if I do say so myself. I, too, would prefer it to the wall or a drawer; unless it happens to be your wall or your draw, in which case I would infinitely prefer it to my lap.

Anyway, the hitch: I ran out of ribbon. I must have used this pattern before and only begun with half the two metres I usually have at my disposal. I’m an idiot for not checking first. I was near the haberdashery shop only last week, buying sequins for my flamingo piece. I could have saved myself a long walk: up cobbled steps, down narrow streets, past hordes of tourists meandering lost in the mid-day heat. There’s a lesson to be learned if I can manage to remember it. Hopefully, I will catch the shop before it closes for lunch. They take four hours here and then stay open until late. It’s forever tripping me. It was the same in Australia (only with the ending, not the middle) where everything shut at 5pm. I got ousted from cafés all the time, left with two hours to kill before my ride home arrived. It was a pain. In the end, I usually ended up walking home, even if that took over an hour. At least it was action. It’s the hanging around that kills me. I hate delay.

It’s the same right now with my future, which is all up in the air. I’m waiting to find out where, when and how, knowing only the why and the pressing urgency of it. In order to cope, I have devised a new motto. To find out what it is, click here.

Let me introduce you

The straight and narrow

The finished article

Finally, the ending: long-awaited and much-coveted. This piece has challenged my patience more than most. But it has also charmed and entertained me so I cannot chasten it. Besides, it was my first tentative foray into the landscape of ‘less than pretty’ and a complete experiment. I have drawn uncertainty and darkness, unsightly and different, but I have never knitted or stitched it. It was time for a change, time for a challenge. In this sense, it was a success.

Next up, I plan to attempt something a little different, going back to the knitted background and building up from there.

And, perhaps, I will change the dimensions; try something circular or square? We shall see… After all, it’s not up to me in the end. My hands simply obey what is delivered from beyond.

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Ode to Dog


Our fascination with dogs stretches way back and we have both observed and cohabited with them for as long as records can recall. In honour of what they mean to us, what they give and what they do, men and women the globe over have immortalised their experiences in ink. Although there are many brilliant examples, below are just a few of those readily available on the internet.

My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet. ~ Edith Wharton
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. ~ Groucho Marx
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera
If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain
Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them. ~ John Grogan
Dogs are really people with short legs in fur coats. ~ Unknown
Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies. ~ Gene Hill
When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” ~ Unknown
I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better. ~ George Bird Evans

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Protected: In Sheeps Clothing

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A dark-winged moth

Like a dark-winged moth
coveting a flame that will surely kill her,
she sits just inches from the light –
a plastic monument
similar in shape to London’s Gerkin,
only smaller and many miles from the Thames.

The last time she went there,
London’s Southbank,
was years ago.
The closest she’s been since was dinner in Eton:
same river, different town;
an hour from the capital.

She wonders how much it has changed
and if it has missed her?
She wonders if any of her friends still live there
and which of them remember her when she did if they do?
She wonders when she will go back and if she ever will,
why she would want to?

She wonders why she wonders about things so much
when wondering only creates problems
she has no idea how to solve?
Wondering this,
she decides to stop;
only it’s not that simple,

and somehow,
wondering about the little things,
the trivialities,
helps stop her from thinking too much
about the things that really matter,
like family and friendship and love.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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It’s not easy to make me laugh; I’m more the reserved type. However, there are some surefire ways, the majority of which are clichés. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t find most of the normal avenues people my age generally take pleasure from remotely funny, but that I do fall for the obvious ones. Like me, my humour never quite managed to grow up.

So what does make me laugh? Tickling my feet always seems to work. As does watching cheesy comedies, stuff designed for kids. Or easily-accessible sitcoms, like Friends, Frasier, A Modern Family, Silicon Valley and, being a bit more adventurous, Curb your Enthusiasm. But I’m not really into comedy as a rule, so tend to avoid it, preferring, instead, psychological thrillers and gritty dramas that challenge my mind and exercise the remains of those little grey cells. If I want popcorn, which is what ‘in my model of the world’ comedy is, I will rent a laugh-out-loud rom-com; that way, I get some romance thrown in with the smiles and a guaranteed happy ending to boot: much better for the soul and the heart.

I’m also helpless inside the walls of a church, especially if I’m attending a service. A silly line, for instance, in a serious hymn (like “the purple-headed mountain” in All Things Bright and Beautiful) and I’m doubled up and choking. The fact that it is impolite to laugh, only increases my need. Jokes don’t do it but funny stories do. People walking into glass doors or tripping up steps also has me in fits, although the guilt that follows finding humour in another’s humiliation or harm is painful to me and these days I try to look away or, if in the vicinity, run in to help.

Off the top of my head, that would be it. But more may surface later. I haven’t had cause to laugh for a while, so I have forgotten what makes me tick. I can’t even remember what uncontrollable laughter feels like and only get close when witnessing it in other people. Then, I watch closely and take notes, gaining quiet pleasure from my voyeurism.

I do, however, smile: at thoughts, at memories, at ideas, etc. As a task, it is easier to accomplish. To make oneself laugh, on the other hand, is a whole lot more challenging, requiring tools I don’t have. I’m also far too serious. If you could climb inside my head and listen for an hour, you would get it. The incessant ranting never lets up: my inner voice is relentless. Last night,I kept myself awake for hours just thinking and worrying about things I have no control over or power to predict. Accepting that would have been far wiser: I could have rested, woken refreshed, been happier.

But this is about laughter in its purest form: laughter that erupts; the kind of laughter that explodes, whether you like it or not. This kind of laughter doesn’t need permission to take: it does as it chooses. Or maybe I should say gives? After all, it is a gift, precious and vital. Laughter heals. Laughter helps. Laughter inspires and motivates. Laughter joins us, befriends us, diffuses negativity in both ourselves and in others. I love laughter more deeply than I love anything. Sadly, at least for now, laughter is yet to love me.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A little white Chihuahua

While looking through my window,
I had a great surprise:
a little white Chihuahua
was floating in the skies.

I ran to fetch my camera.
It nearly was in vain,
for very soon she disappeared
and it began to rain.

by Howard Atherton

I have to credit my father for the above poem, as he wrote it for me as a present in response to one that I sent him. I was charmed and touched by it. So much so, I had to share it. I hope he forgives me for the impulse. I love you daddy.

Searching on Google, I found some more cloud dogs. Here are just a few of them.






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Passenger Therapy

imageI am terrified of cars – their size, their noise, their speed, the idiots who drive them (present company excluded). Having been involved in two accidents, neither of which were my fault and in neither of which was I driving, I am hyper alert, my eyes finding danger everywhere that I look. Put me on a road cluttered with hire cars fresh from the airport and crazy locals who talk, smoke, eat and change lanes all at the same time, and I am a nervous wreck. I need something to contain me. Passenger Therapy does just that. It has proved so successful, I now even look forward to my journeys. Something I would never have thought possible.image
So what is it and how does it work?

Well, simply put: it is the use of knitting as a distractant, predominantly in situations where you find yourself a passenger of circumstance, travelling, as it were, against your free will.

I mostly use it in the car, but it also works on buses, trains, aeroplanes, boats and, I dare say, bicycles, if they happen to accommodate two. Wherever you are a passenger, and here the term can be applied as loosely as you like (for example: queuing at the post office, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, etc…), it can be used to positive effect. You literally take your current project and pick up your needles where you left off.image
How do I do it?

Initially, it is advisable to pick a pattern with few complications and to use at least a 4 ply wool – the bigger the better, in my opinion. But as you advance, your concentration increasing, your ability to juggle at speed around corners and roundabouts, compensating for G-force and blurred vision, improving with every trip, you can branch out, experimenting with more delicate yarns and detailed patterns.

I have made mohair hats on impossibly small needles, lace gloves on 4 dpns, cabled cowls worked in the round and turned the heel on several pairs of socks. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. As long as you are prepared to sacrifice the occasional project to an unexpected corner or an abrupt emergency brake, you can push yourself to your heart’s content.

Relax. Work slowly. Knit without expectation or pressure. As with any form of creative therapy, the most important thing is the process. The product and the quality of that product is merely a bonus that comes as a result of having gotten the hang of it and of having cured the trauma which necessitated the need for that therapy in the first place.

Be gentle with yourself and love whatever comes out. Everything we make is precious, holding within it a story about a time and a place in our lives.
Obligatory words of caution

Be careful with your needles. They are sharp, pointy objects and you are travelling at speed. Keep them away from your eyes and don’t point them at either yourself or the driver. Switch metal needles for wooden ones. Heaven forbid you should do yourself an injury, they will at least bend or snap.

For more information

If you would like to know more about knitting as a form of therapy, take a trip over to my other website where there is an article detailing all of the amazing facts.

To view my completed projects, visit my clothing and accessories page.

To see read all about my pieces as I make them, complete with instructions, photos and anecdotes, check out the following pages:

It’s ok to judge a book by its cover…
I spy with my little i

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