Weekly Happiness: #1
Best Nine Projects of 2015

Christmas in the Shire

Do you recall last week, when I declared how pleased I was that I finished my knitted Christmas gifts early this year?

It didn't last for long.

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

After Alec let me know that his mother had bought me a Christmas present, I felt terribly guilty that I hadn't got one for her. He spent a good deal of time trying to tell me that it didn't matter, but I'm the sort of person who feels awful receiving a gift without providing one in return. Although I appreciated him telling me, I felt terribly guilty so I've spent the last few days frantically finishing this pair of socks for her. Thankfully, I was already halfway through this pair,  which was originally intended to be for me, and she just so happens to have the same size feet. 

I've called them Last Minute Socks

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Yarn is Admiral R Druck by Schoppel-Wolle (shade 1745 Int). You can purchase it here at KnitNCaboodle. Again, I chose to use my old faithful toe-up sock pattern: Gusset Heel Basic Socks by Wendy D. Johnson. To be honest, after having made several plain pairs consecutively using this pattern, I've become more and more dissatisfied with it. I am wearing one such pair today, and I simply don't like the fit of the heel. It is far too loose on my ankles and instep; I keep tripping up. 

So for the pair I have just cast on (for myself), I've chosen to instead use a top down pattern on double pointed needles. I'm going to see whether this method - with a heel flap and gusset - produces a fit that's better suited to my skinny ankles and flat feet. 

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

Yarn: Opal Klangwelten in shade '9040: Pop Music'. Available here.

Knitting panic aside, I'm enjoying being back in Lincolnshire for Christmas. Through my teenage and student years, I dreaded coming back here because I was always filled with the fear that, like most of my family, I would stay 'stuck' here for life and never move away. Now that I have permanently moved away to live and work in London, I feel much more settled about being here. I know I'll be heading back to London. Lincolnshire is now a place for Bank Holidays and Christmas. It is where I come from, but it isn't really my home any longer. I've escaped. 

image from farm6.staticflickr.com

Being back here is both alien and familiar. I've got home comforts around me, but at the same time, I'm surrounded by ghosts of the past. Memories of unhappy years spent wanting to get away, memories of those no longer living as well as several people who are no longer part of my life. Being here, I am very conscious of how far I have travelled over the last six years. It is strange, and I do not think it would be good for me to stay here for more than a week at a time. I'm quite melancholy right now, and I fear that any extended stay could lead me to regress and become depressed again. One has to be careful about revisiting the past, particularly if that past was not a happy one. 

Emotional baggage aside,  I've been trying to capitalise on pleasant moments of nostalgia and to savour the sights and sounds of Christmas. Yesterday I drove over to Lincoln to meet up with a friend who was celebrating his birthday. Despite having lived in Lincolnshire for most of my life, saving the three years I spent in Australia, Lincoln is a place I've visited only a handful of times. Fortunately, my friend Alex was educated and raised in the City. He also spent time working as a Verger at the Cathedral, which has been used as a shooting location in a number of Hollywood films. The Da Vinci Code and The Young Victoria are particularly prominent recent examples.

image from farm6.staticflickr.com

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

As you may see, the late afternoon light provided some truly stunning shots of the intricate architecture and stained glass.

Owing to his relationship with the Cathedral, Alex was able to give me an impromptu tour that included several places that visitors don't usually get to see.

Like the roof...

image from farm6.staticflickr.com

From where I was stood, on the Chapter House roof, I was able to see for miles out into the surrounding fenlands. Everything is so flat that I don't doubt a clear day would probably allow me to see as far as my hometown thirty miles away.  On that December day, however, things were looking quite bleak. The scenery made me think of the opening chapters of Great Expectations, where Pip meets the escaped convict Magwitch out on the marshes. In hindsight, I think this may have had something to do with my conflicted and discomforted state of mind! 

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

Thankfully, my parents house is a lot more cheerful. Beyond knitting, I've largely been occupied by cooking and 'cat protection duties' (i.e. preventing my cats from destroying the Christmas decorations). Murphy, the older and larger of my two cats, is particularly obsessed with the golden birds propped up in a floor vase in the hallway...

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

image from farm1.staticflickr.com

How do you all cope with going home for Christmas? Do you enjoy it or find it challenging? 

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