This year I absolutely promise that I am not going to turn my back on the garden and just sneak off inside. I am going to clean the greenhouse and cut back and mulch and all those good things. Honestly. But there is nothing like a rainy day to set me thinking about winter projects. I am not one of those people who carefully finishes one thing before starting another but even I was surprised at how many things I seem to have on the go or waiting. Confession time.
It is a bit of a giveaway that the basket which holds all the wool waiting to be worked is my parents' old log basket, i.e quite a big one. The bag on the top contains the project which at the moment is at the top of the queue. Younger son and his wife are expecting their first baby in November and I am making a blanket. Not a delicate white blanket for a newborn but a cheery, cosy blanket for the car and the pushchair.
The wool is a soft merino aran and the pattern is from Ravelry, Amirah by Katherine Vaughan. I am really enjoying knitting this and there is nothing intrinsically difficult about it but it is not TV knitting. You have to follow the pattern and you have to count. The baby is due right at the beginning of November. Must keep knitting.
I have already finished one thing for the baby, this little jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It is called the Baby Surprise jacket and is knitted as one piece. The surprise is that something which looks when you are making it like a twisting rectangle can fold into a perfect little jacket. I really loved knitting this one as it was unlike anything I had ever done before and required some real thinking as I went along. I just have to sew on the buttons and it is done. I know many of my blogging friends, Pondside, Materfamilias, Annie at Knitsofacto and Stephanie at Millefeuilles to name just a handful, combine high intelligence with a talent and passion for knitting but I think that as a society we have lost our respect for craft and skill which is based in domesticity. We do not revere it as we could. Somehow we associate it with our grandmothers and we do not give it due admiration. Even the current and very welcome revival of interest in making and creating things can sometimes be a bit twee - tie a ribbon on it, cover it with buttons, cut out a flower from a piece of wrapping paper and stick it on a tray - all no doubt good fun but a long way from the thoughtful and tricky process of acquiring a real skill. I don't mean to be dismissive. We have to start somewhere and any activity which involves creating something rather than buying it is for me far more satisfying than simple acquisition. To make anything is to know it and to understand it and, often, to love it. I am by no means at the creative end of being a knitter. I couldn't design a pattern (yet) but I am fascinated by the process by which a ball of wool and two needles can magically make warmth and beauty and pattern and texture. Knitting may not be art but it can be craft of a high order.
If the blanket needs attention, you must also have something that needs very little: knitting for watching the TV or chatting with family. This is some very beautiful yarn which I bought last year from the Colinette factory which is not too far from where I live in North Wales. The yarn itself is quite complicated so I wanted to make something very simply constructed which would allow the yarn itself to be the star. This will eventually (I hope) become something between a shrug and a slim, fitted poncho. I copied the pattern down from a friend's book of patterns from Vogue from twenty years ago. It is all a bit of a leap of faith.
Carry on down the basket and we find some purpley pink wool spun and died by the same friend from local fleece. I think I have enough to make a hat or a cowl. I had a bit of a love affair with cowls last year so I do have three which are just waiting for the cooler weather but you can always manage to find room for another one. Or maybe two.
It might have to be two because I also have this yarn which I brought back from our holiday in the Outer Hebrides. It is handspun on the Isle of South Uist and is all the colours of the sea in sunlight around the islands, blue and turquoise and green and blue again . I have already identified a cowl pattern for this so yes, it will have to be two.
And here is another project: the ingredients for a knit your own chicken teacosy, sent to me for my birthday by my younger grandson Joseph and his other grandmother. I can hardly wait to get started on this but I might have to! It will be good to have a new chicken without trusting eggs to the vagaries of our old incubator where they need thrice daily turning. Mind you, it works very well as the six new chickens out in the nursery henhouse testify. But none of them would be much good as a tea cosy. I had a bit of theme going for my birthday as younger daughter bought me two lovely knitting books, one of which was a whole compendium of knitted farm animals. I am particularly tempted by a Holstein cow. That could be something else for the new baby if I can knit fast enough.
But turn around and what's that, not in the basket but looking up reproachfully from the corner?
It is a very nearly finished jacket, knitted top down and just needing the sleeve to be finished and the addition of a shawl collar. This is another Ravelry pattern called Iced. I made one as part of my coming back to knitting three years ago after a working life when time was always so very squeezed that the pace of knitting was simply beyond me. Being able to spend time like this was one of the many complicated reasons I decided to leave my job and try to live a simpler down sized life. I am not so sure I have achieved the simpler life but I do have time to knit! I don't know why I haven't finished this. It has been waiting for a year or so. I like it. I like the wool and the pattern and know I will wear it when it is done. Somehow I have simply gone off the boil with it. I will do it this winter, when the blanket is done, and the hen, and the cowl..... Does this happen to you?
So there they are, the winter projects, all lined up and ready to go. There are crochet projects too and sewing ones but at the moment it is the knitting which sits by my chair waiting for the fire to be lit and the curtains closed and the garden put to bed.