I Knit London Tweets

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Son of Stitch n Bitch

We're almost there. I can't beleive the UK Sticth n Bitch Day is almost upon us. We've put a so much into this that I know it's going to be a great day and the tickets are selling fast!

The book arrived and it's great! I love it! This will be your first opportunity to purchase the book and the only UK opportunity to meet DS and have her sign it. DS is a great woman and she's so excited to be coming over and meeting us all.

10 November, Royal National Hotel, London.
UK Sticth n Bitch Day
tickets are only £7, they will be £9 on the day so make sure you get your in advance!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Seagulls, sailors, stitching and bitching...

Sunday I spent in the company of friends at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Whilst Gerard had hat designing to do at home for Innocent, I had the job of representing IKL at this knitting session in conjunction with the museum's Sailor Chic exhibition. We caught the great film featuring the incomparable Gene Kelly before heading upstairs to knit...there was lots to do, and a good turn out, and we saw some familiar faces. Our sea themed knits for the day included this fabulous seagull, which adorned my cap for the rest of the afternoon, by Sue, a mini sailor's cap and a ship's bell and ship's cat too. We also did some teaching had some gorgeous cakes and homemade biscuits courtesy of Melissa.

Before and after were fun to - I got myself a gorgeous pink duffel coat in the market, a fair isle tank-top (which I might pass as my own handiwork!), and a new perspex pink and brown ring that matches both. Fate.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


we are knitting tits. as I write! we are raising money for breakthrough breast cancer, too!

thank you felix.

thank you to Sue.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Son of Stitch 'n Bitch is here!

I have, right now, in my sweaty little hands one of the only copies in the UK of the new Son of Stitch 'n Bitch book! Oh yes, it's here, and it's brill. We have shipped over a special batch of copies exclusively for the UK SnB Day on November 10th - you'll be able to get the book there first before anyone else, and ask Debbie to write her name in it too. But before then, is it worth it? Of course, we're going to say it is...but it really is. As a man who knits it is genuinely frustrating at how little there is in the way of fashionable men's knitwear patterns in just about every knitting magazine. Sure, most of them pay a passing nod and include maybe a boy's or man's pattern per issue, but only one, and even then they are generally pretty bland. So it is with honest excitement that I say the book is full of really sexy, gorgeous stuff (and that's just the models. Ho ho). I was walking down Oxford Street just the other day, looking in the window of BHS I was disappointd to see the usual contrast - the ladies knitwear was stylish, interesting, textured, cabled, sexy....the men's knitwear was plain, brown, bland. Why?

For obvious reasons I can't scan the images and post here but believe me if you're a bloke, or if you have a bloke, there will definitely be at least one thing here that you can knit.; from really simple hats and scarves, to socks, stylish and silly. For the more experienced knitters there are some great sweater patterns, including my favourite the Ernie sweater, by Andrew Steinbrecher in bright day-glo stripes (sounds hideous but I love it!) and a really sexy white cabled jumper by our old pal Heather who we met last year at I Knit London. Of course, Jared's stylish smoking jacket stands out too (Jared I hate you, you are a crafty genius!) All this, and cushions shaped like beer bottles, 'beer gloves', beanies, hats, caps and more, plus Debbie's 'Lucky Socks' with dice motif...now you have no excuse why you can't knit your man something for Christmas this year, and I have no excuse not to do more knitting. There are genuinely loads of things here I'd love to make, with 45 patterns in total, both knitting and crochet.

Debbie will be holding a workshop at 10.30am at the SnB Day to work on the Argyle scarf featured on the cover of the book. We expect this to be oversubscribed, so we plan to choose ticket numbers for this workshop beforehand at the show. It seems the fairest way! And, if you're still waiting for your tickets they are in the post as we speak!



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Knit, a National Treasure

Yesterday was an amazing day. We got a late call to go on to the Alan Titchmarsh show and talk about knitting. Who are we to refuse?

for those of you who don't know, Alan Titchmarch is a national treasure. His show is on ITV1 in the afternoon (but I think the last episode of this series is today).

All the production staff were fantastic and I loved every minute of it. I talked, very briefly to Ulrika and Cannon and Ball!

My two favorite parts of the show -
1, talking to Alan about knitting and making sure that I said as much as possible about I Knit
2, meeting Jonathan and tasting the gin. He's a fantastic man and I urge everyone to buy his gin right now. We will be stocking it in the shop and I will be giving it to many people this Christmas.

I waved at Alan once while dressed as a tap at the Chelsea Flower Show. He didn't have time that day and I was devastated.

I spent hours in the BBC building and I let the door close on Ruby Turner and was slightly devastated that I didn't bump into Terry Wogan.

Gerard Allt: a National Treasure

I think most of us already knew this, but when Gerard appeared on ITV this week on The Alan Titchmarsh Show his status as National treasure was secured - and he even has a plaque to prove it!

Gerard was with Jonathan from Sloe Motion in a section about 'Winter Warmers'. Amazingly G didn't bring any sloe gin home with him. If you look closely you can see a collection of Gerard's knitted goodies (including the now famous sheep tea cosy). He was brilliant. I saw lots of Alan Titchmarsh recently when I was off with my trapped nerve and I can say that G is in esteemed company - as it says he is now among an elite group of "the Best of British, from the unsung heroes to our biggest stars". LOL!

You can watch the interview here - click on the 'Winter Warmers' clip. Anyone coming to the knitting group tonight, form an orderly queue, only one autograph per person please!


Monday, October 22, 2007

UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day...counting down...

What a mad weekend. I missed all the fun on Saturday when Jane came around to IKL and shone like a freshly polished crystal rosebowl. I think G was really taken with her, and I hope everyone had a good time. I've just had an email from a friend who popped along to the shop and couldn't get in the door! We must move somewhere bigger. It was great to see Jane's post last night about Gerard's pineapple pressie too. He's so thoughtful.

For me, I was working elsewhere and missed the fun, but joined G, Sue and Lynsey at the Vauxhall Griffin for leftover cake and cider, although I suspect they'd already had enough of both by the time I arrived at 9pm.

We like Sundays, they are our one day off after a 6 day week. But not yesterday. The UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day is just 3 weeks away and so much to be done! After a little setback when I left our ticket print sheets on the bus on Saturday (doh) we'll be sending them out this week, with a timetable and some info about the show - if you haven't got one, get one now!. There'll be a free programme on the day with more info and some lovely pics of us and stuff....I spent most of yesterday in the shop confirming details from the designers, the yarny people and the publishers. It's getting really exciting, and we've put up a timetable for the workshops and I Knit Lounge area already. But there's so much more to see and do, with charity projects there and, of course, shopping! We'll have the full website links active by the end of the week...

The difficult bit is trying to get everyone the chance to do something. Obviously not everyone will be able to attend the workshops as space is limited so we've decided to have some kind of registration on the day, and, perhaps for Debbie's Argyll scarf workshop (on the front cover of the book) we'll have to hold a lottery. I like the idea of a tombola. Very retro. Debbie emailed just the other day and she's really excited about it all, and the books are somewhere mid-Atlantic as I write. We're thrilled to say that the UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day will be the first and only place to get a copy in the UK before it's released!

And, just a note about the webpage. There's a curious mis-spelling; the gorgeous wool is from YorkshiRe!


just give, if you can

It seems that not a week goes by when I hear another story. All of the money from the knit a tit afternoon will go to breakthrough breast cancer. I wish we could do more.

Please help if you can.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

in the eye of the storm: pt 2

Yesterday was great. Jane Brocket came to the shop to talk about her book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, and her blog. Jane was lovely and a great speaker and we loved hosting the event, thanks again Jane, we can't wait to see you and your crochet flowers at the Stitch 'n Bitch Day! Also, I was super glad with Jane's perfect accent. The North West of England, being the centre of the universe, produces the most exquisite people.

Not being a great photographer and being at the back of a massive crowd meant I didn't get great pictures...
...Jane's cakes were great! They lasted about 5 minutes.
A chocolatey quilt; gorgeous! Quilting is one of things that I have always loved the idea of. I've never done any and I suspect I wouldn't be very good but I would love to get into it. One day. It's on the list of things to do and, thanks to Jane's book, it's getting closer to the top!
Another great thing about yesterday was that one of my favorite people, blogless Lynsey, finished her first pair of socks. They are as beautiful as her and the sock world is now her oyster!
Craig missed the storm yesterday, and we missed him, but I managed to keep a few of Jane's cakes for him which were munched in the pub with the obligatory cider.
Thanks also to Melissa, Sue and Lynsey for all your help with yesterday. mwah!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

sock wars?

Is anyone reading involved in sock wars?

I signed up but I didn't ever hear anything so I must have fallen off the list somehow. I'm so disappointed! I was really looking forward to being part of this wierd game where you are given name and adress of a target. You knit socks for this person and send them. This eliminates them from the game and they send you their work in progress and the details of their target. This goes on until there is a winner.

I guess I am a looser!

Anyway, we've got a map on or blog! It's exciting to see the dots/readers are all over the place. Sock what?


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

the eye of the storm

The most controversial figure of the decade is about to descend on us, ladies and gentlemen!

I've read the blog, fondled the book and now I'm braced for some light vanilla sponge and some pinny porn!

Yep, Yarnstorm, Ms Jane Brocket herself, is coming to our little shop this Saturday for a spot of crafternoon tea!

We are thrilled to welcome Jane to the shop for the crafternoon (sorry for using the 'pp' phrase, Jane). The book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, is gorgeous and we can't wait to meet her, sample some delicious cakes and drink some tea. The books are stacked and screaming to be signed.

We've also set up a baricade of fences to keep the paps and blood thirsty journos at arms length!

It's going to be a great afternoon. See you there!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lavender, blue, Ally Pally...

After a very long week for Gerard we met up in Vauxhall with Elly and blogless Lynsey (as in de Paul) after their looong day at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. I'd been in the shop all day, with Sue and our one-day beginner's knitting session. To mark National Knitting Week we're having our big sale so I spent most of the day sorting through everything, pricing up the half price stuff and getting the buckets filled up. It was a grand day - hopefully everyone learning enjoyed the day, and with the big show in town it was nice to meet lots of visiting knitters who'd travelled south of the river (only just) to find out what I Knit London was all about!

So, Saturday night in Pico's, our local Portuguese restaurant, always packed and always super. Then to The Lavender - we couldn't avoid the rugby but the conversation was more about yarn, family, names, the Arctic musk ox and knitting. A couple of bottled of Chilean sauvignon blanc later and I think we were all pretty relaxed! And I am grateful for the discovery of Qiviut for online Scrabble!
But we were up very early on Sunday. Gerard has had his WaterAid cap on this week at the Ally Pally show, working there since Thursday, and today was the last day, and my first. So, up at 7am and off to north London. I've never been and the view of Alexandra Palace as we crested the brow of the hill, smothered in fog was quite spectacular. But what of the show? I loved it! It was so great to meet some of our knitty friends who I've only ever spoken to by email and phone - I spent most of the day flitting around from stall to stall...and met some new pals too - not least Amanda from The Natural Dye Studio (left) - you won't believe the amount of gorgeous alpaca and Blue-faced Leicester that will be gracing the IKL shelves from tomorrow! We also grabbed our first batch of Cherry Tree Hill's Sockittome and met Cheryl for the first time. It was funny being there from a business point-of-view, and although I was surprised just how much more non-knitting there was included, there was plenty to get your teeth into - we're certainly adding some new stock to the IKL shelves between now and Christmas, including some stuff we've never seen before - it's ironic that this all comes in the same week that a yarn we've wanted to stock for ages has become 'unavailable' to us (for reasons which I shan't dwell on here!). It's like the balance has been put right. But I was thrilled to meet up with Ann and Ruth from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop (below) with whom I've had so many phone conversations - and we couldn't go away without grabbing some more stock too. And, Elaine and Nicola from Jamieson's of Shetland were another long-distance realtionaship where I could finally put names to faces! There were a bit camera shy, so no pics!

Ann & Ruth from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop

Darlene from Handjive at the fabulous Habu stand

Laura and Loretta from the new knitting mag Let's Knit! - get a copy, it's brill and we're in it! Plus you get a free DVD too, how nice of them.

Gerard sits on the river, after four days, waiting for the taxi home - note, four bags and two boxes...wonder what's in there?

Of course the main reason we were involved in the Knitting and Stitching show this year was to show off our knitted river. I say 'our', really it belongs to all those who took part, knitting, crocheting and sewing up. There's always a message behind displays such as this and this time we were asking people to take the next step in the process, filling in cards to send to the Japanese Prime Minister. He's the pne who will be setting the agenda for next year's G8 summit and the more names we can muster the louder our voice will be to convince him that water and sanitation issues should be on the agenda and high up too. It's always difficult to engage some people with ideas like this, and this is why, not just because of the phenomenal response of 100,000 squares, I think the river works so successfully. It's an amazing thing that stops you in your tracks and gives us, the WaterAid volunteers, a chance to get our message across much more easily than if I were just to stand there with a poster and a pen. There was a genuinely great response over the four days, and it was also very special meeting some of the people who made some of the squares. We've met very few of the thousands who took part so it was an opportunity to say thanks in person and to show knitters that this type of action can make a difference. There are some pictures from the day now added to our photo gallery, which we continue to update regularly, so check there and you might spot your square!

Of coursem there's more to be done - if you want to add your voice to the campaign you can do so here .

To end on a happy note....Gerard heard yesterday (for the second time in a year) that he's an uncle again! Baby #2 is due next summer and G's knitting fingers are twitching already!



Saturday, October 13, 2007

A scally at Ally Pally

Here's the knitted river stand at Ally Pally. Gerard has had his WaterAid cap on this weekend, setting up the stand and helping out over there, whilst hobnobbing with the knitters and meeting friends new and old. I expect I'll be going along on Sunday to pick my way through the wreckage of four days of knit-crazed shoppers. This is Esther in the pic, who volunteered to help out on Thursday, surrounded by the huge blanket of blue - it's funny, I hadn't seen the stand anfd asked someone who'd been along to Ally Pally yesterday whether they saw it or not - they said "You couldn't miss it!". I see what they mean. Looks fab. If you are planning a trip please go along and say hello to the WaterAid guys and gals, sign the postcard (they're not after your money!) - it really can make a difference, and just ogle at the immensity of all that blue knitting.

Our other current charity 'do' is the Knit a Tit afternoon on 27th October which has turned into a little party, not just a workshop. We'd like everyone to come along and bring something pink - gin, champagne, grapefruit(?), prawns(?)....there's a workshop to learn how to knit your own, or just come for the fun of it. Here's one Sue made earlier, complete with 'ball of wool' piercing!

As we're still puting together the UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day, as well as the shops selling their wares we're also looking for charity projects who'd like to take part - yesterday we confirmed the Children's Society Big Stitch. So if you know of any, tell them to get in touch. G spoke with Debbie yesterday, too, who is really excited about it all and is putting together her own small workshop from the new book. We're excited!

Our big National Knitting Week sale starts today! There's so much to do, and our printer broke yesterday so looks like I'll be writing everything by hand. I hate technology. Anyway, I know where most knitters will be but some have alreayd fit I Knit London into their knitting schedule...yesterday I had the pleasure of the whirlwind that was Badger, Spanner....erm, forgotten the other two, sorry! but all from the Donkey! Monkey! forum. It was like they were still intoxicated from the knitting show! All loaded up with lovely yarn. Ee bah gum.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Simply Shetland 4 at Tomales Bay

This book is gorgeous! Well worth the wait, we had an exciting package delivered today - in it, more Spindrift rom Jamieson's of Shetland and the new book Simply Shetland 4. Love it!

It's one of those books that really inspire you to knit something - I know I am the laziest knitter ever, but I look at the stuff in here and just think 'I'm going to make that'....mmm, we'll see. There's 21 patterns for men, women and childen, including my favourites...the Autumn Rose pullover by Eunny Jang, the amazing Tomales Bay skirt and the not-quite-decided-yet Passive polka dots by Carol Lapin. It's such a pleasure to see a great British yarn used by some great designers and shown of to great effect. G and I are having a well-earned break over Christmas and I think I've just seen where I want to go - Tomales Bay, California.

Yesterday we also got the new copy of Knitting magazine. I know there's a lot of consternation about the range of magazines for UK knitters, but this one, for me, is always the best. It's published by the Guild of Master Craftsmen (who have a great portfolio of craft books, and sponsor/organise National Knitting Week) and I find it so much more readable than the alternatives. It looks good, it's well laid out and the patterns are versatile and wearable. We're still a way from having a UK 'Knit.1' but Knitting is the best of the bunch in my view, but seems to be overlooked when anyone discusses the state of the UK knitting mags. We'll have to wait and see if the new Let's Knit, due out this week isa departure from the 'safe' route that most Uk mags go down. I'm not just saying this because the latest issue has an interview with Debbie in it, honest!

Last night, another IKL knitting club here at the shop. Great night, as always, I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. We have new stock in the fridge too - the delightful Kopparberg pear cider (4.5% - I think the strength of your alcohol is just as important as your neede size when you are knitting) which tastes like pear drops with an extra kick. Yummy. G is over at Ally Pally for the next few days setting up the WaterAid stand and laying out the knitted river. Go and say hello to him - and sign the cards to End Water Poverty... I stil haven't ever been, so might make it on Sunday...


Monday, October 08, 2007

spot the difference

These are some duck feet bootees. For Louis of course! I love love love them. I think he will. They are Rooster DK, the pattern is from 50 baby bootees by Zoe Mellor.

Have you spotted the difference?

I couldn't believe it! I thought it was my tension. Craig asked the obvious question.

Did you use the same needle size?

No! I used 3.25 for the first and wasn't paying enough attention so used 2.5 for the second!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

mystery object

I was determined to finish these over the weekend but as Sunday night is here I obviously wasn't determined enough.

I'm really excited about these, I'm sure some people will be able to guess what they are. You'll have to come back on Monday night or Tuesday morning to see them completed!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

cocoon hat and scarf

This is the finished coocon hat (done ages ago) and the shifting sands scarf. The cocoon yarn is perfect for this scarf, although I'm loathed to say it, this new rowan yarn is fantastic.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Postcards (and patterns) from the past...

Another turn up from the charity shop trip last week (apart fom Dame Edna records) was a couple of extra books for the shop's knitting library. It's fair enough to say that much of the stuff in our out-of-print book collection is out-of-print for a reason, including this latest gem from a book called First Knits. Michelin springs to mind, or maybe, as he grows up it just expands - defo value for money. What's interesting about these 'old' patterns is that most of the stuff form the 50s and 60s is so wearable that you can't help but think "will this ever come back?"

A friend we first met in our knitting group sent us a brilliant set of patterns that she found in flea market in New York, the highlights of which are a great mittens/glove booklet, totally usable now, about 50 years later, plus this incredible 'Pineapple' booklet. With Gerard's new-found lace compulsion I expect we'll have a few of these adorning our table-tops very soon. And if you ever needed proof of just how life-affirming a bit of crochet can be...check these two out. They're loving it! (Thanks Hailey for the package, a great surprise!)

If this isn't retro enough for you...go back a bit further. Well known for my geekiness (and proud of it I say!) I've been collecting postcards too...and starting a nice little collection of sheep and knitting. If you've been in the shop you might have seen

some of them around the walls...this one's a Manx woman and her cat, with a sock on the go, from 1924. So if you see any knitty, woolly cards do send 'em in! I'm hoping to eventually add them to our Flickr collections at some point. I've also discovered the brilliant Postcrossing site for those who want to be a bit random...

We're having a bit of a retro couple of weeks actually, with, right now as I type, The Talented Mr Ripley on for our new Friday night film night, and next week it's Far From Heaven, which, if I remember correctly, has some quite nice knitwear in it! I think I'm going to enjoy our Fridays from now on...


Friday means a film! and a competition!

Tonight is the first Friday Film Night.

The Talented Mr Ripley, 7pm.

We chose this film not just because it's good but because the book club recently loved The Cry of the Owl, both written by Patricia Highsmith.

Tonight is the first Friday in ages we won't see Tom. We miss him while he's sunning himself on a tropical beach holiday!

ALSO, inspired by the recent competition on GlittyKnittyKitty I am offering 2 tickets for the UK sticth and bitch day for the winner of the best film titles with knitting puns.

The Talented Mr Knitly, obvious really.
Oliver Twisted Thread
Girl with a Purl Earing

The winner will be the funniest, obviously much funnier than these!!! - and will be judged by myself and Craig and other I Knit reps.

post entries as a comment
winner announced next Friday!


Monday, October 01, 2007

The 'C' word...

Scary word isn't it? I've wanted to blog about my own personal experience of cancer for awhile now, but feel like a bit of a fraud. I mean, how could I possibly understand what it's like? It's actually that very feeling that's finally made me get this off my chest. Weirdly, I first thought about it about two months ago when G and I were watching the last series of Battlestar Galactica. It might seem a bit trite, and a bit of a leap but those who know the show will also know that President Roslin (left) was diagnosed with the disease and given a short time to live (as if the destruction of your home planet wasn't enough to deal with!) Well, of course, in the best tradition of TV drama serials she survived...and I felt a bit cheated, to be honest. That miracle mix of human/Cylon blood was just too easy a way out in my book.

I've decided to blog now because this month Breakthrough Breast Cancer are asking everyone to go 'pink for October', changing the colour of websites to raise awareness of the disease. We've changed our main header on the I Knit website from our usual yellow to bright pink, but we've also launched a 'Just Giving' page where you can donate directly to the charity. As an added incentive (if you need one) every pound donated gives you an entry into our prize raffle - with £50 to spend at I Knit London, a pink Denise Interchangeable Knitting Kit or a pair of tickets to the UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day to be won. The more pounds you donate the more entries you get. Visit the page here.

My own experience of cancer began in the late 1980s. My grandad (here pictured with Nana C. at Portpatrick in the sunshine) succumbed to lung cancer when I was about 14 years old. I remember vividly helping my dad to wash the car with my grandad looking on. He collapsed onto the garage floor and I just stood and stared. I had no idea what was going on, and no idea how to react. I left it to my dad to notice and jump into action. I matured very slowly and was very naive, until I was about 23, but the image of him lying there, and my feeling of complete redundancy has never left me. He'd been a smoker all my life, and probably for most of his own, so it was hardly surprising it happened to him, but certainly not deserved. no-one deserves to spend the last few years of their life dying a very, very slow death. It was two years after the episode in the garage that my grandad was finally taken over by the disease. Even then I wasn't mature enough to really grasp the idea of mortality.

My immaturity played a huge part in our family's next battle with cancer - in 1989 my mum, aged only 41 was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, our family history is sketchy to say the least, and I hadn't lived with her for about 7 years at this point. I'm ashamed to say that made it so much easier for me to shirk any filial responsibility to visit and offer support. Fact is, at 16 years old I didn't understand it, I didn't know how to behave around her and I didn't know the right things to say. Not one for high emotion I stayed away, visiting her only once in hospital and leaving the support to my sister (who has always been her closest friend, and who left with her when the family was broken up) and her partner, Geordie. I cannot bear to imagine what she was going through and how she must've felt isolated, especially by her son who stayed away. My mum got through her cancer, but suffered the trauma of a full mastectomy on her right breast and the unimaginable psychological fallout from that. I believe that the year or so surrounding my mum's diagnosis/operation shaped our relationship permanently, and I am full of regret for not having the courage to be there for her, instead choosing the selfish 'easy way out' and avoiding it altogether...it is vitally important that everyone, men especially, understand what it is to receive that diagnosis, what it means physically and mentally and what they can do to support and care for those affected. My mum got through her dark days with the help of my sister and her own strong will. Her cancer did eventually cause two break-ups; her marriage and her sunbed (which was smashed into pieces shortly after diagnosis). The pic is her with her first (so far only!) grandchild.

By 1996, I'd like to say, aged 23 I'd matured enough to deal with life, and death. but then my Nana (my mum's mum) was given the news that she had a cancerous tumour in her pancreas...and that it had spread so widely there was nothing to be done. Now, my Nana was the closest person to me whilst growing up. During the family's break-up she continued to look after us, my brother and I (we're together in this old photo, me right, in a strop), and we saw her almost daily. She brought me up, in some respects, and the news that she would not be with us after a few months was devastating. Tearful phonecalls and emotional visits aside it was weirdly normal from then on. She continued to come around, we'd have our usual heated arguments about some petty thing or other. She looked after my brother and I for so many years and I still couldn't look her in the eye and tell her how grateful I was, how brilliant she'd been to us and how much I loved her. Gradually, week by week, I started to notice how thinner she was becoming, how the muscles in her arms started to disappear and how tired she looked. This was what death looks like, I remember thinking, only in time-lapse, slow-motion. She managed to out-do the expected 6 months and saw Christmas 1995. It was New Year when she collapsed at home and went into hospital...and I stayed away. Once again too emotionally-stunted to cope with this again I visited her only once in hospital, mid-January. Unbelievably I couldn't find her on the ward, only to discover I'd been standing a few feet away from her bed, but didn't recognise her. She was only 73 years old, no age at all, and another strong-willed Ridley (like my mum). About a month after I saw her in hospital I visited again, this time at home, where she'd returned, to die. It's the first, and thankfully, only time, I've seen death. Somehow, in retrospect I have often felt vindicated for staying away, my guilt convincing me that I did the right thing to keep away, because my lasting images of my Nana are not the ones I want to have. But I know I'm making excuses for myself. We have to face up to this disease in order to exert some kind of control over it and to beat it. My Nana's death changed me in so many ways. My last visit, the day before she died was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my life. To feed bits of pineapple on cocktail sticks to a dying woman who had no clue who I was, where she was or what was happening to her, with so much morphine charging round her body that she could barely speak. It was the only time I ever told her I loved her, the only time I ever thanked her for everything she'd done for me over the past 23 years...and my greatest regret is that I have no idea if she even knew who I was or what I was saying. I've never regretted anything more, before or since. It is so important for everyone to understand what this disease can do, what it means for mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, friends...It is too easy to make your excuses and leave; I've done it three times now and I only hope I never need to do it again.