Back home resolutions. Or something.

Note: I’d like to start by excusing the tardiness of this post. I know, I know, most people tend to have their new year posts out of the way in January but I am a trendsetter didn’t have an internet connection for the entirety of that month. So no real way around it!

I used to claim that I never made New Year’s resolutions, possibly because I thought that this made me cool. Or something. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I don’t tend to articulate them in those terms. It’s not like I resolve to do certain things from 01 January onward. It’s more that the end of the year almost always finds me away from home, and away from home (wherever that may be) always seems an appropriate distance from which to think about ways to improve being at home. You know, Regular Life and all. So perhaps I don’t make New Year’s resolutions so much as I have a good old think about the things that I would like to do better once I get home. But that’s a much less catchy title. For all that you’d never know it from reading my writing, I am actually a fan of being concise, so perhaps we should just call them New Year’s resolutions. Or Back Home Resolutions, perhaps?

That established, I am also never sure if I should make my New Year’s resolutions public. It gives me an excuse for another blog post at the end of the year; the “did I actually live up to my good intentions” post in which I congratulate and gently eviscerate myself by turns. My posting is erratic at best, so what’s not to like about a guaranteed post? There’s also the public shaming element, too, I suppose. But I can beat myself up with great efficiency free of assistance, so it’s hardly necessary.

Plus, you never know what life has in store that’ll throw your resolutions right out the window. A bleedingly obvious example is your health; I’ll probably write more about this later, but I’ve had my share of health related surprises over the last year or so; surprises that have definitely shaped my day-to-day life in a very major way.

But, considering one of the things that I decided I would like to do is actually post on your &$*#ing blog from time to time, Anna, I thought that I’d at least post my knitting, crafting, and baking related goals. The internet at large really doesn’t need to know about my intentions re: the tidiness of my desk, after all.

In terms of knitting, I would like to work on more original designs. The embarrassing truth is that I have a sketchbook partly full of ideas, but for the most part, I haven’t gotten around to ushering any of them into reality. This is partly because I’ve spent so much of the last year or so being sick and/or low on energy. When you’re groggy and lethargic and in pain, the last thing you want to do is swatch or crunch numbers; you just want comfort knitting where you don’t need to think (like massive garter stitch blankets). At all. But the fact of the matter is that the fatigue may not be going anywhere any time soon, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my knitting career making plain raglan pullovers and garter stitch scarves. So I’m going to try harder to make the best of the times when I am able to concentrate on designing.

I’d also like to learn some new techniques; specifically, I’d like to get more comfortable with steeking, as well as maybe dip a toe into some intarsia. I’d also like to try zipper insertion, and attempt adding a fabric lining to a knitting project. Generally speaking, I’m also interested in refining my techniques a little. I’d certainly class myself as an intermediate knitter nowadays – I’m perfectly comfortable with stranded colourwork, elaborate cabling, lace, chart reading, grafting – but I’d like to work on the small things that enhance fit, finishing, etc and just generally improve the craftsmanship of a knitted piece.

I also want to have a go at more elaborate cabling, because cabling is super fun! Full disclosure: I didn’t like cables at all before I tried knitting them. Now I can’t stop. Ever.

(pictured below is my cabled version of the pick, pick, pick it up! cardigan that I promise I will finish as soon as I decide how I’m going to make it work)

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I’d also like to continue focusing on items that I will actually wear, that work well with my existing wardrobe. Like many knitters, I’m often guilty of the “oooh, I want to knit that” response to a pattern that realistically I know I will never wear, or not often enough to justify the expense of the yarn or the space the unused item will occupy in my wardrobe. I’m not saying I want to completely quash that feeling, because that would be a joyless existence! But I am thinking that I’m instead going to channel it into knitting things for friends/family who might wear the item in the cases where I know I certainly won’t.

I’m trying to get to the point where my main focus is wearability (ideally with a side helping of aesthetic interest), where my approach is to figure out gaps in my wardrobe and knit to fill them, or at the very least to identify design elements that work for me and go from there. A recent project that I really enjoyed was an improvised project where I decided that I wanted a colourwork pullover (the stranding keeps my neck/chest nice and warm, and lets me use up scraps!) that also had pockets to keep my hands warm. I used the yoke design from one cardigan pattern (the Istex Icelandic Zip Cardigan) and the pocket style from another (Astor by Norah Gaughan) and sort of sandwiched them together in pullover form. I’m really happy with the result and more to the point, the project ticked all of the boxes (warm chest, warm hands) that I’d had in mind when I started. I’d like more of my projects do that; to knit with purpose as well as creativity.

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My non-knitting crafting goals are a little less focused, but I guess that’s to be expected given that my skill level is lower. I’d really love to do more sewing to consolidate my (meagre) abilities; specifically, I’d like to focus more on wearable garments, and small projects on which I can get much needed practice. I’d also like to try my hand at sewing more stuffed toys, as many of my friends have small children on whom I love to dote, but knitting at the tight gauge required for toys with stuffing is murder on my hands and just not enjoyable.

I’d also like to do more drawing; I’ve been dipping a toe back into this lately, and really loving it, or at least loving it on the occasions that I can let go of my expectations and insecurities and just draw without worrying about whether the result looks any good.

I’m also hoping to expand my sourdough repertoire. I’m very happy with the crusty white loaves I’ve been baking the last year, but I’d love to broaden my range into ryes, multi-grains, and more creative ingredients generally.

So there you have it. I made resolutions. Now there’s only one more incoming start-of-a-new-year post through which you all have to sit before I finally reconcile myself to the fact that it’s 2017. At least I’m posting, right?

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Operation Wanderlust

I could talk about the budget… but given the state of things, it’s probably better if I focus on my upcoming trip out of the country and the (blissfully minor) problems it’s causing.

Example: how on earth does a person who knits as much as I do find herself bereft of an appropriate pair of gloves, come a trip to the northern hemisphere? It’s honestly not like I haven’t done this before. Perhaps I can knit some in London, which will hopefully be long before I need them.

Ordinarily I would be cheering myself up with the prospect of my destination being warmer than my point of origin, as my darling Melbourne has been none too warm (or dry) over the past week*. Except that my second stop is Iceland. I’m pretty sure** that even when it’s pushing summer, Iceland is not going to produce any temperatures that my antipodean self would recognise as mild weather. That said, it’s not going to be all that much colder during the day in Iceland than during the night in Melbourne, and while admittedly I’ll be up and about instead of curled into a tight ball under several doonas, Melbourne does have a distinct lack of glaciers.

 

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Also I have lopapeysa anxiety and I have no idea if this makes me conscientious or a complete knob. When I knitted my Riddari pullovers (yes, I actually made two and no, I don’t need you to judge me about the fact that they use the same main colour because the Boy has already poked ample fun at the whole thing) I didn’t actually have the faintest clue that I would be visiting Iceland. I want to bring my pullovers with me because, frankly, Iceland is cold and they’re some of the warmest things I own. But I also feel somewhat weird about wearing them in Iceland. Thoughts floating around in my head include: a) guilt over using stash yarn instead of Lopi, b) will people judge me for my choice of contrast colours, and of course, c) uh oh, does this count as cultural appropriation and if so am I a terrible person and does it still count if I made it myself and perhaps it if is cultural appropriation then it’s really no better doing it in Melbourne than in Iceland and wow I am super behind on self loathing.

Ahem. I probably worry about these things too much. At least today I had biscuits to distract me. It was my brother’s birthday and I have been waiting for this occasion for quite a while for one very specific baking-related reason:

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Yep. Domo biscuits. I followed the recipe here (though I used the icebox cookie dough that the author links to at the start of the recipe) and was very happy with the outcome. They were very well received as well!

And now I should really go and finish my packing. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in London doing my best to eat my bodyweight in Bendicks Bittermints, my #1 favourite UK treat. They’re like being punched in the face with a minty fist. What’s not to love?

 

*though of course that’s set to change as soon as I leave. Thanks, Melbourne.

**and by “pretty sure” I mean I am depending entirely on Wikipedia and a 1994 edition of Lonely Planet.