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Thursday, 31 December 2020

The end ... or the beginning?

It's 7.00pm on 31 December, New Year's Eve, here in the UK.  Elsewhere in the world, it's already the start of a whole new year and by this time tomorrow, we'll all be standing in January 2021 and I hope that it is a better year for us all!

I always think of the year as a clock and the hands are almost back at 12 o'clock.  This might not be the usual way to think of a calendar (or so my husband tells me!) but I've always seen time like that, and I love that moment in January when it's a whole new year with the hands at the top of the clock face and the new year in front of you ready for you to do something with it - a bit like snow on the ground that's waiting for you to walk on it and put your mark where nobody else has been.  

Oh yes, we've had snow - I'm surprised you couldn't hear me cheering from where you are!  Big daughter woke me up early a couple of days ago to tell me look out of the window (she'd got up in the middle of the night and didn't want it to have melted before the alarm clock went off) and I spent a long time looking out of the window into that snowy, orangey half-light, grinning from ear to ear, until I realised that I was really cold and got back into bed.

It was good news for the sprouts which had their first dusting of frost on Christmas morning (sprouts always taste better after frost!) ...


I never thought I'd be so excited about sprouts at Christmas, but home grown ones taste so much nicer than bought ones and it's a happy memory of my Dad who always used to grow his own sprouts and then bring them over to whichever house we were eating Christmas dinner in (we usually take it in turns to host between our family - although not this year!).


Christmas Day was for us, as for you as well no doubt, a low-key affair.  No rushing around to get dressed to go out or to get food ready on time for guests.  We lit the fire and opened our presents in our pyjamas, taking our time and enjoying each other's company and delight in the gifts they received.

I asked for books this year - well, I asked for two but got more which was lovely! - and I have every intention of making more time to read them.  I suspect that big daughter has her eye on the Milly Johnson book (I love that she's of an age where we can swap books now!) so I may have to start on that one first, but there's something about a new book, isn't there?  I haven't been reading properly for such a long time (don't ask me why, I got out of reading for pleasure quite a few years ago after finishing my Master's degree and I've never really been able to get back into it) and I've only been re-reading books that I know I like and I've forgotten what it's like to have a brand new book to open.  This little pile, though, is making me feel very happy and I'm looking forward to working my way through it!


Here's another pile that I'm looking forward to working my way through ...


Ooh, I LOVE Toblerone and my husband knows it!  Yes yes, of course I'll share it, but there might be a few bars squirrelled away to a secret stash for emergency needs later on ... 😀

I also asked for a sourdough lame - it's basically a razor blade on a handle that you use for scoring sourdough (and perhaps other) bread before it goes into the oven.  


Up until now, I've just used a kitchen knife and it worked well enough ... but oh my life ...


Look at me!  I look like I know what I'm doing! 


Sprouts, Toblerone and sourdough bread ... sounds like a healthy diet to me! 😀

My brother and sister-in-law sent us a jigsaw.  How long is it since I did a jigsaw?!  It must be years!  My Dad used to get one for Christmas every year (it was a tradition - my brother bought him a jigsaw and me the Broons or Oor Wullie annual - it's Oor Wullie this year) and I'd put a few pieces into that when I went round to his house - it would be out on the dining room table on a big board for a few weeks (he used to like ones with huge numbers of pieces) - but I probably haven't done a jigsaw myself since the girls were small.  Probably not even then as neither of them were particularly interested in them.  

This one, however, is out of the box!


It's called Christmas Llamageddon and has lots of pictures of llamas dressed up as Christmas sprouts, snowmen, in pyjamas, with angel wings ... I'd forgotten that you can spend as long looking at the picture details as doing the jigsaw itself!

Oh, it has been so good to shuffle around in that box of pieces looking for the right one!  I'd definitely forgotten the feeling of the pieces against your fingers, that rustly noise as you swirl them around and turn them over, hoping that the exact one you need will magically appear on top.  I did wonder whether me making a start would attract extra help ... but no.  Big daughter has put a sum total of two pieces in, but nobody else is remotely interested so I've had a lovely time on my own, not feeling guilty at all about spending time doing a jigsaw instead of something more "productive".  

I used to feel that the world stopped in those few days between Christmas and New Year - back before the days of email, mobile phones and internet shopping - but I don't feel that it does so much now, and it's easy to think that you've got to keep on going; planning for the next year, pushing yourself to finish things before that (imaginary) cut off date of 31 December, working, working ... it's been quite an effort to tell myself that it's OK to spend an hour here and there on a jigsaw but I'm definitely feeling better for it!


I'm going to shock you now by telling you that I've also cast on a new project.  Ha!  Bet you never expected that! 

Actually, you won't have expected what I've cast on ... it's a jumper!  I haven't knitted myself a jumper for ... ooh ... twenty-odd years (how am I that old?!) but I've got some lovely purple alpaca blend yarn that's been at the bottom of my stash for a looooongg time and I've been looking for a way to use it up for a while.  It's a long-discontinued Sirdar yarn and I originally bought it to knit a cowl for my sister-in-law one Christmas and liked it so much that I bought more of it ... and then realised that the gradient in each ball would give me stripes that I perhaps wouldn't like so much in a jumper so I put it away.  Anyway, I've finally given myself a good talking to, found a pattern that I like (I think this is the third one that I've started) and cast on for the eight hundred billionth time ... how does anybody knit with such big yarn on such big needles?!  They're 6mm and feel like chopsticks!

I've not much to show you in the way of the jumper itself right now, but I can show you the needles which were a gift from KnitPro (thank you very much!).  It's their new Knit & Sip interchangeable set - I've used a set of KnitPro Nova interchangeables for years so I was very pleased to have an updated set.  








As you can see, they're wooden tips and I was a bit worried that they would be too light in my hands compared to the metal ones that I have but actually, they're a decent weight and I've been fine knitting with them.  I like that the sizes are stamped onto the tips too; I have to use a needle gauge with my Nova tips when I forget which size I've used, but these all sit snugly inside the box in their own little slot. 

They're coffee-themed which makes me laugh as I don't drink coffee so those dinky espresso cups are wasted on me (although my husband and big daughter might like to make use of them), but each tip size is a different wood (I think, they're certainly a different colour!) and named after a different coffee drink.  The cable pouch (4 cables - 60cm, 2 x 80cm and 100cm) is a coffee bean too, so if you're someone who likes coffee then this set will be right up your street!  It's neatly done and the whole set feels very luxurious and a proper treat - I felt very spoilt to be gifted it, even though it feels rather rebellious to have my mug of tea next to it!

There are more details and stockist info on the KnitPro website if you want to take a look.  It's not an affiliate link.

This is where I've got up to with my jumper so far ... 


I promise I'll show you more as I get a bit further on with it.  I'm using the Painted Hills pattern by Kay Hopkins and it's a top down knit with short rows on the yoke which have taken me a few goes to get right, but I think I'm just about sorted now.  It's quite strange having such a big project to work on, but I'm sure it'll be good for me to do something different!

So that's about it for this year.  

Thank you for being here with me through this peculiar year.  It's certainly been a strange one, hasn't it?  I hope you have got something good from it as well as all of the things that we seem to have lost along the way.  

Thank you for taking the time to write your lovely comments, for giving me advice when I've needed it and for letting me know that you're there - it's an incredible thing that we're able to do, having this online conversation, isn't it?

Fancy doing it all again next year?


Happy New Year to you - wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful 2021 in everything you do! xx



15 comments:

  1. Happy New Year to you and your family. Yes, let's do it all again! I look forward to reading all the blog posts you write in 2021. I'm sure I will feel lots of inspiration to try new things as I did last year. Wishing you good health and a sense of fulfillment in all that you do in the coming year. Dianne :-)

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  2. Happy New Year, Christine! Feel ridiculously pleased that I am the first person to comment at the start of this new year. We live very close to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, and always walk up to a trig point to watch the sun rise on the wall on New Years Day. Usually, we meet with friends, and share hot chocolate and a little tot of whisky as the sun comes up, but it will just be us this year! No snow here yet, though it threatened yesterday.I love reading your blog, wish I could meet you for a cuppa sometime! Best wishes for this new year, good riddance to 2020. Xxx

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  3. Wishing you and your family all the best for 2021 xx

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  4. Happy New Year to you Christine. I’ve just started following your blogs after being a member of your lovely sock a long and knit and natter groups for a few years now. What joy they all bring - thank you 😊

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  5. Happy New Year Christine, I look forward to your next year of musings and thoughts...thank you fir teaching me how to make socks, as usual the whole family got them for Christmas from me!! I’ll start on this years Christmas Socks in a couple of weeks!! Much love Lissie, x x

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  6. A very happy, healthy and creative 2021 to you
    and yours.
    Thank you for the entertainment and joy that
    reading your blog brings. I don't knit but you
    have inspired me to begin the New Year by crocheting
    myself a pair of socks.
    Thought you might be interested in an alternative to
    the usual `Resolutions' I don't give things up or plan
    to change my body/home.
    I take on doing something for someone else that takes me
    out of my `Comfort' zone which being severely disabled isn't
    always difficult :-)
    Last year I trained as an End of Life Doula (sadly much needed
    in 2020) this year I'm committed to helping and supporting a gentleman
    who's been on the streets 5 years.

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  7. Happy New Year Christine! Love reading your blog anx
    will definitely be reading it on 2021. Rebecca in Australia

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  8. Many thanks for your company this last year
    Love getting your posts
    Hope for a more positive 2021
    Take care and Keep safe
    Regards Ruth Howard
    Keep safe

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  9. Happy New Year to you and all your family! I have read two of those books and know you will enjoy them!! My husband is a puzzle addict and would have got on really well with your father - 2-3000 pieces minimum and half the dining table is the norm!! The jumper looks lovely and I can't wait to see it finished! Such a lovely colour! It is trying to snow here in Surrey as I write - so maybe a white New Year! I hope that everyone will have a safe, healthy and happier year in 2021! Thank you for all the wonderful musings which have really helped us through a personally difficult as well as globally difficult year!! Take care!!

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  10. Thank you, Christine, for your lovely patterns, the photos of your beautiful countryside, and for allowing us to share your life. I love sprouts too but have never tried growing them myself. Maybe this year...? I think I've read more this last year than other years, but mostly on my Kindle. I'm trying to not have so many books for my daughters to eventually have to sort through! The jumper looks interesting - can't wait to see how it works out.
    Wishing you and yours a Happy and healthy 2021!

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  11. Happy New Year!
    I also cast on something for the New year, a lace pattern that was in the naughty corner and I restarted from scratch. Planning to learn a lot. Size 4mm needles feel so big as my last 2 knits of Dec were socks.
    Here's to a lot of inspiration and creativity in 2021!

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  12. A bit late commenting, time is running away with me already! Happy and healthy new year to you and thanks for your company. The needles are lovely, I'd spend ages just looking at them and dreaming of all the things I was going to knit with them. xx

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  13. Happy New Year. I really enjoy your blogs. I too have started to knit a sweater after many many years. There is so much choice both wool and patterns. I decided to use some wool from my stash as a jumper can add up to quite a lot of money. I have knit most of the jumper but have put it down as I near the end and reverted back to socks. I will finish it, after all it will be a welcome addition to my wardrobe. Hand knits always look so good.

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  14. Happy new year Christine to you and your family, these needles look fantastic I think you will produce wonderful items with them, enjoy lesley

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  15. I smiled to see what you said about how big the needles feel - I've just made my sister your split palm mittens and a matching cowl which I used 6mm needles for - then cast on for socks on 2.5mm needles that felt as if I'd break them!

    The jumper looks lovely, as do the new needles!

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