Cutting it fine

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This is how much of the malachite yarn I had left after finishing my Mum's Christmas present: a lace scarf using the catchily-named "reversible lace stitch" pattern (Ravelry link).

This has been a superbly quick knit for me; five days, start to finish, and that includes pre-Christmas tidying day, Christmas Day (lots of cooking) and a whole day of not knitting because of attempting knitty math, so not bad at all.

The scarf is now blocking (darn it!!  I forgot a to do a pre-blocking shot!) and is ready for gifting to my Mum when I go and visit family for New Year. 

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That's one advantage of doing the family bit a week later – more knitting time!

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Merry Christmas, one and all!

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Roast turkey, chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets.  Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, gravy.  Sprouts (just for me), carrots and cauliflower.  That's quite a lot of food for two people.  For starters we had smoked salmon with potato griddle cakes and parsley creme fraiche.  We are having Christmas pudding with cream and/or brandy butter for pudding dinner.

The table is set with memories – plates and pepper mill from Ikea, when I went with Alex and Martyn to buy their bed; Amnesty International tumblers that were a present from Andy a few years ago; a salt grinder that was a gift from Jack and Heather, a similar time ago.  The place mats under the plates (you can't see them!) were given by Jack's Mum when she stayed in my flat one Christmas – about five years ago??  The cutlery was a really lucky find when shopping with my Mum in Middlesbrough, but I forget exactly when.  Another Christmas, though, I am sure.  And so it goes on.  The table itself was won on eBay, and I love it.  These are the things that make our lives special.  Not the *things* themselves, but the people and the memories that they invoke.

As the year turns…

Solstice
 

The shortest day is past, and we are climbing out of the dark and back towards spring.  There is a Christmas tree in my house for the first time *ever* (I have always travelled back to spend Christmas with my family), and as ever, I have more ideas than time, more inspiration than action, and the blog has been languishing.

It's been a really weird year, for me.  This time last year, I was out of work, voluntarily, and hoping that a company I'd been doing some freelance work for would be able to employ me full time in the new year; never happened.  A relationship breakup in January was followed by months of attempting to buy the house off the 'ex' (mostly thwarted by incompetent estate agents and mortgage lenders), which were punctuated by a career shift into a new full time job for me, and followed, slightly embarrassingly, by me getting back together with J, who is now, I guess, an ex-ex.  No, I've not blogged that before.  It's somewhat hard to get around to.  "Hey, you know all that angst and stress and heartache and headache?  Well, it was kind of a mistake.  Pretend it never happened, eh?"

Long story short, the incompetent estate agents gave us so long to get used to living as housemates, that we realised that we were on to a pretty good thing, all told.  And maybe that little bit of head-space had been exactly what we needed.  This year, we are spending Christmas together, and I'll be visiting family for New Year.  Life is good.

The tree looks good, too:

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It's a fake, and I hope should last us a while.  My parents have never had a 'real' tree, and when we were tree shopping last Saturday, I found the rows of dying trees, smelling like lumber, really upsetting.  Decent fake trees aren't cheap, but on the other hand, if we use the same one for four years, we will be quids in on buying real ones.  And that's before we got it at half price because everyone else bought their decorations weeks ago!  Woohoo!!

Knitting-wise, this has been an astoundingly unproductive year for me.  I started the year with a bang, knocking out Tudora in under a week, then finished off a pair of big green socks (which I love), and moved pretty swiftly on to the first sweater of the year, the pink/purple raglan, aka Strawberry Fair.  This has had pretty little blog time, and some wear, though it still doesn't have a zipper.  Finding zippers for my sweaters is a real downfall of mine.  I'm not realllly sure this one should be called 'finished', to be honest.  Neither should my little green bolero, which was only blogged as part of my 'finish, frog or fix' project in August (which never got any further than that post, incidentally).

I think the next project was the Spring Fling cardi, which worked well and has had a fair bit of wear. There may have been a detour into the realm of the ugly duckling scarf around here, too.  Then…  Untithey!  Love this one, love it.  No finished photos of it yet, though.  And, umm, technically it could use a tad bit more finishing, anyway.  Like an extra hook and eye or something.  Add that to the to-do list, then, before it gets all worn and old looking.  A mystery crochet project was completed somewhere in here, too.  And of course, I did finish my Rampton scarf for the beginning of December, though I didn't blog that, either.  After that, it's WIPs all the way, baby!

Still languishing in the time-out pile we have the gathered pullover, which has badly behaved sleeves.  Later.  On the needles, Alhambra and Lizard Ridge, which is my new 'at work' project, thus removing the necessity of lugging my knitting bag to and from work, and proving I don't really have startitis (see, H??)

I have spun more this year than last, though still not nearly enough, and have only woven one thing – my handspun sampler, which still hasn't been wet finished.  Arrrgh!  I have sewn a new outfit for the SCA, and improved/mended/finished a fancy dres outfit for Hallowe'en, though I don't think I've sewn anything else at all.

There has, actually, been a lot of dyeing, but that has been Top Secret.  Watch this space.

Hereby concludes this retrospective of 2008.  There's a ToDo list to be distilled from this lot later, and hopefully, I'll manage to create a 'looking forward' post for 2009 – before the end of February!

I have… startitis??

Another cast on project!

Malhambrigio

This is Anne Hanson's lovely 'little nothing', Alhambra.  I'm using the rich red Malabrigo lace I bought about a year ago, and it's quite an experience.  The yarn is  a very fine, softly twisted single, and feels unimagineably delicate in my hands.  I had to moisturise my hands last night just to knit on this, because the rough patch on one of my fingers was causing some damage to the yarn before it ever reached my needles.  I cannot knit fast on this, partly because the lace pattern hasn't seated itself properly in my head yet, and partly because I can't bring myself to be at all rough with this yarn.  So this is quiet, peaceful, mindful knitting.  Relaxing in the way that only things that demand attention can be.

For some reason, the words 'Alhambra' and 'Malabrigo' want to blend together in my head, so this is my Malhambrigio scarf.

All pressure is off with the knitting right now; I feel an urge to concentrate on small projects, accessories, but no hard deadlines.  It's nice.

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Yes, I was always told not to use the word 'nice' in my creative writing.  "There is always a better word," I was told.  "Nice is unbearably insipid and sounds insincere."  But this *is* nice.  Sweet, soft, comfortable, relaxing, no pressure.  Nice is good.