Distractions, distractions

I am easily distracted from the path of righteousness, one of making inroads on the stash or doing what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s so much else to do.

Distraction No. 1: the lure of research.

great heap of booksI realised recently how little I knew about the colours of fleece, and decided to look into it. I know I said I’d devote the next few posts to coloured fleece, but I’m still looking into it… That’s because I’ve been diverted down QI-like side alleys, full of eccentricity and wonder and odd bits of information.

Did you, for instance, realise that Alpine sheep bells came in different tones, deep ram bells (redoun) and higher-pitched ones for ewes (sounnaioun) and each flock had a different mix of tones, thus identifying it at a distance? Or that Merino sheep were introduced to Mexico as early as 1540? I just thought of the Conquistadors as bloodthirsty looters and spreaders of smallpox at that time… and, incidentally, they took sheep to Peru for food rather than for wool; that was provided by alpacas and llamas. Then there are some fabulous breed names, like the Barbados Blackbelly. See? Easily distracted. I’ll get back on topic soon, but the memory of the Barbados Blackbelly may take some time to fade (they’re rather odd-looking sheep, with a sort of dangling chest wig). Ahem.

Distraction No. 2: work. Let’s zoom over that one, at speed.

Distraction No. 3: the garden.

Oh boydog-free zone. It’s gone bonkers; it always does at this time of year but it takes me by surprise nonetheless. Everything is burgeoning. Especially weeds, and P’s dog/overgrown puppy who spends a lot of her time here digging parts of it up while looking for the chafer grubs she can hear moving under the grass, and for dahlia tubers she can’t hear do any damn thing, but which she digs up anyway. Grrr. See? Distracting.

Distraction No. 4: food and cooking.

broad beansThis is sort of part of No. 2, in that I often write about food and cooking, and not just on my work-related blog; I’m working on cold soups at the mo, for instance. I get paid for it (eventually), and have just been allowed into the Guild of Food Writers. But I also enjoy cooking enormously, and it’s related to No. 3 right now – in that I have to eat what remains of last year’s produce and empty the freezers before this year’s insanely over-optimistic, somewhat hysterical, let’s admit it, plain-and-simple overproduction kicks in. I like beans but I’ve still got about two kilos left from last year. I’m growing enough spuds for a family of six. I can’t even fit the courgettes in, so they’re going to have to wait in large pots for the garlic to be harvested. Why do I do this?

Distraction No. 5: I am literally ‘woolwinding’ at the moment.


I bought three vast skeins of Hebridean yarn at Wonderwool and am turning them into something a little more manageable. They need washing, after which they will fluff up and – hopefully – stop smelling quite so attractively of machine oil and lanolin, but in order to be washed properly they need to be in something smaller than a minimum-500g skein. I have several potential pieces of kit which should have helped but, entirely due to the bulky vastness of the MegaSkeins, they all proved useless. After several botched experiments and a nasty tangling incident or three, I resorted to the old expedient of two chairs back to back. Happily I have a great Ashford skein winder, thus removing the need to nail anyone to the floor for several days – I can’t do too much at once or my hands give way. At least this distraction is woolly, unlike…

Distraction No. 6: other crafts…

threadsShh. Whisper it low. I’m attracted to saori weaving, but I haven’t done anything about it yet (a rare instance of being sensible?). Instead I started going through all my threads – while sorting out the spare room, aka sewing room – and then my patterns, dumping most of them as being dated and/or crap or both. Then, tipped off by a friend who should know better, I discovered indie pattern designers. Yippee! I’ve just bought Tilly’s Coco dress/top. When am I going to sew this? Hm?

Distractions No. 7–10: walking…

Walking in the woods, in the hills, on the beach and in the woods again, doing a Plantlife wildflower survey. I’m lucky enough to live in Snowdonia, so this is an ever-present temptation. I spent a lot of years in London because of work, and I loved it at the time, but London can’t beat this:


I mean, dur

It’s not my fault, this easily distracted thing. I’m blaming my parents.

They were avid crossword solvers. My father used to start at 1 across, worry away at it until he’d got it, then move on to the next clue across. My mother would pick off all the words she could get, anywhere on the grid, and only then work out the more problematic clues armed with letters from the words she’d already completed. Dad would then accuse her – she inevitably finished well before he did, despite the fact that they were both very quick – of having a ‘butterfly mind’. I have clearly inherited this tendency. See? Not my fault.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I have the willpower of a maggot.



12 thoughts on “Distractions, distractions

  1. Elaine

    Your posts are so entertaining!! Is there really a place named Snowdonia? Sounds like Chicago in the winter–Chiberia. I think we all need distractions to keeps from ending up in ruts and hardly having time to get out of them. We will all wait patiently for your treatise on Colored Wool!!

    1. kate Post author

      Hee, love Chiberia (and I was working in Chaicago once when the whole place ground to a halt as the result of something I’d not heard of before: ‘lake-effect’ snow. It was very pretty, even if O’Hare closed and I couldn’t get out.

      There definitely is a Snowdonia, but it’s only that in English – it’s really Eryri, except it’s almost impossible for English-first-language people to say as you need to be able to rrrrroll those rrrrrrs. Welsh isn’t my first language, but wherrrrrn it comes to RRRRRRolling RRRRRs, Frrrrench is almost as good… colourrrrred wool coming up. Soon…

  2. Lydia

    Loved reading your post this morning! How beautiful is your garden – no sign of the Barbados Blackbelly nibbling the grass either – I expect they are seeing off the Puppy… I have a wonderful butterfly mind and I wouldn’t have it any other way despite the fact that for some strange reason people are often unable to keep up with my train of thought. I am in the midst of planning our next trip and Snowdonia is calling to me as I write. Now, my mind is thinking which part, here or there, perhaps over there or this looks good here or maybe… and so on. Have fun with the Hebridean – now I am imagining where those sheep lived, the wind, the cliffs and perhaps we will go there too and maybe and so on and so on…… you see??

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks! I wish something would see off that Puppy, sweet though she is – fortunately she doesn’t live here but only visits. Sometimes you really regret saying things, things like ‘I wish you’d get another dog, you’re like a spare part without one.’

      I am developing the theory that butterfly minds are mostly owned by multi-tasking women, and sensible, world-beating women at that. Maybe we should rework the ‘butterfly mind’ thing and call it something like ‘best mind’ or ‘by-far-the-most-efficient-approach mind’. And before some passing bloke points out that there’s a difference between flitting mentally from one thing to another and actually accomplishing a specific task, I’ll just note that while Dad was still puzzling over 5 across because he wasn’t ‘allowed’ to move on before he had solved it, Mum would have finished the crossword, organised us plus the neighbours’ kids and assorted pets/livestock, prepped three lessons and dashed off responses to several Amnesty Urgent Action appeals… Then she’d have had time to throttle Dad, of course.

  3. croftgarden

    I’m sure the Guild of Food Writers will be enlivened by your presence – it sounds very worthy and I’m sure congratulations are due. I was so distracted by your post that I began to muse over my distractions and got completely distracted!
    Having been described as an “intellectual butterfly”, which I took as a compliment, I can assure you that life is richer and far more interesting than disciplined conformity and I suspect that we achieve just as much if not more. It could be worse my sister is so vague that she might as well live on another planet, but she is delightfully doolallly.

    1. kate Post author

      Ha hah!

      And that is definitely a compliment, isn’t it better? YO! I think you’ve got it – it’s balance. Somewhere between OCD-like tendencies (I seem to remember something horrible from my Proper Job days, a category of employee described to me as a ‘completer/finisher’ – when I’d stopped laughing, I sort-of knew what the head of HR meant), and being so far away with the fairies that you can’t actually do anything. Mind you, part of me thinks the latter is actually quite a clever strategy…

  4. knitsofacto

    My (unfinished through no fault of my own) PhD supervisor once described by ability to be distracted by connected but not entirely relevant things as ‘endearing but not exactly helpful’. But I say throw your net wide, you never know what you might catch. Happy trawling m’dear. I shall wait patiently for all you have to tell us about fish!

    1. kate Post author

      If you don’t follow your train of thought down interesting alleyways, you never find the real gems, that’s what a say. And a mixed metaphor is never watered.

      I hope you took your PhD supervisor out and gave him (or am I assuming wrongly?) a good slapping for being sexist? Bet he/she wouldn’t have said ‘endearing but not exactly helpful’ to any bloke they were supervising!


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