Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A New Year's Revolution

Yet again the first day of the Christmas holidays was greeted in our house with the traditional cry - 'I don't feel very well'. Faced with the prospect of a half-day at work followed by the long drive to Manchester, C. manfully struggled out of bed looking like a wet rag and, insisting he would be fine, went downstairs and poured his coffee onto his breakfast cereal, at which point it was decided that maybe we'd go up the following day after all, when hopefully he'd be a bit better. By the next day he did indeed feel a bit better, and I felt a lot worse. So we passed Christmas Eve in the time-honoured fashion, listening to the Nine Lessons and Carols in heavy traffic on the M6 whilst I sucked cough lozenges and frantically knitted last minute Christmas presents, and Christmas morning found me with a festive tea-towel on my head humming Dink Donk Berrily on High into a steaming bowl of Vicks VapoRub.

In spite of this inauspicious start, however, Christmas itself was a very merry affair with two-thirds of the family gathered together to eat too much, drink too much, and wear silly paper hats (the remainder being condemned to an antipodean Christmas consisting of lying on the beach with temperatures in the high thirties centigrade, poor things). After some initial trepidation and a prolongued spell of chestnut-wrestling, we successfully cooked our goose (once we'd finally pursuaded it into the largest roasting tin we could find) and used the resulting fat to produce some very fine roast potatoes and (as a result of an impromptue game of hunt-the-table-mat) a small skating rink in the middle of the kitchen floor*.

Everyone seemed happy with their presents, though since we bought my parents a dishwasher and they gave us half a shed, not everything was actually wrapped up. My brother and his partner had gone to considerably trouble to wrap up our present from them, though we didn't have much trouble guessing what it was nevertheless (it's a large spade).

Getting it out of the wrapping was another matter, however. Alongside a lot of other lovely booty I also received a gratifyingly large number of exciting knitting-related presents, including the lovely gold-plated Harmony needles set from C.

The Christmas knitting was a bit of a wash-out however. My cunning plan to order yarn to arrive whilst C. was away at a conference so I could knit him a hat and scarf in secret fell at the first hurdle when it failed to arrive until the day after he came back. Abandoning all attempts at secrecy I decided to start with the scarf which was supposed to be made from Rowan Purelife organic wool (in colourway tannin), but so much of the dye came out that after simply casting on my hands looked like I'd been knitting with newspaper, so that went back into the basket to be experimented with at a later date.

Instead I turned to the hat, which had by now become two hats, since my mum had also requested one for my dad. His existing favoured headgear was one of those ribbed acrylic affairs that ought to be rolled at the bottom and worn as a sort of beanie with a big rolled brim, but my dad prefers to leave it unrolled and only pull it down as far as the tops of his ears, leaving the remainder standing up on the top of his head like a black woolly nipple and causing my mum great consternation, particularly when they have to go out in public together. So, all the way up the motorway I frantically plugged away at Turn a Square, but despite having got gauge and produced a very nearly finished hat by the time we reached our destination, it soon became apparent that even on C's capacious dome the thing looked like a pillowcase, so it had to be frogged and reknit on smaller needles. Neither was done in time for Christmas, but they did both get done over the "festive period", and seem to have been hits, in the recent cold weather, so all's well that ends well.

In fact, this Christmas knitting has followed the pattern of most of the autumn which has been a singularly unproductive period knitting-wise for me. I still have only one Mingus sock, and the Tangled Yoke, though it has edged forward a little in the last few days, has largely languished unattended. In part this was because I had to break off to make other things, such as the Felix cardigan and more recently large numbers of Christmas-card stockings.

However, overall my lack of progress has mostly been due to a rather different sort of WIP.

Between the middle of September and late November I was suffering terribly from what is commonly, and in my case completely erroneously, known as morning sickness. For me this struck virtually every day from about 5.30pm onwards, putting a serious crimp on my social life and turning me into what I recently saw described as a 'bog ostrich'.** As a result, instead of passing my evenings knitting, blogging and in various other gainful practices, I spent the majority of them lying on the bathroom floor. Mercifully, however, this has now finally passed and so normal knitting service should be resumed presently, though how long it will last is another question, since all being well, the major production of 2009 should be a little boy, due sometime in mid-May.

*It's a long story... Basically the table-mat was put under the roast potatoes when they were removed from the oven for stirring and then seemingly vanished. After much searching we all became convinced it had been put back into the oven with the potatoes, so my brother took them out again and held the tray in the air so that we could inspect the bottom of it. Only he didn't manage to keep it quite level... Needless to say the mat turned up later somewhere else but despite much scrubbing the kitchen floor retained its ice-like quality for the rest of the evening, being only slightly improved by the addition of several ounces of flour during a gravy-making escapade later on.

** A person who ends every evening with their head down the lavatory.