Monday, 19 February 2018

Fisherman's Ribs

I have been exploring my city in the company of one who knows it well.
The quirky cafes and the hidden green spaces are no longer secrets.

Poring over old maps, like solving crossword clues, unpicking the puzzles.

The house is not dark when I get home now, and what a difference that makes!
Suddenly there are more hours to knit, to read, to move my life forward.
So many possibilities as I embrace the unexpected.

I am working my way through a new vegan cookbook: "Power Plates" by the writer of The Full Helping Blog.

I have tried two different recipes using mushrooms, miso, tofu and barley:  a soup and a "bowl".
An Italian bean / tomato based soup.
A roasted carrot / green lentil salad.

This last was eaten alongside an Arbroath smokie - a delicacy I don't believe I had tried before.

Nor had I tasted haddock roe - made into a pate with vermouth and smoked paprika, eaten on sourdough toast.

This week I am on standby to try smoked coley, a delicacy in Germany, I am told.
I  have found an enticing recipe for that, with spiced kale and coconut milk.
Exciting new adventures at the fish market!

No, not at all vegan.
I am working on "balance", remember!

And in knitting news... I am powering through my second "Warm and Snug" sock, the February pattern in Mina Philip's latest sock club series.

It has knitted-in welts, like the wrinkles in Nora Batty's stockings.

I really don't see the point of these,  but I am well on my way to finishing the pair, using leftover West Yorkshire Spinners' yarn.

After that?
All of the things...
I am obsessing over the entire contents of Laine Magazine Issue 4.
Have I knitted anything from Issues 1, 2 or 3 yet?
But that doesn't stop me dreaming of fisherman's rib cardigans and oversized brioche sweaters!

Thinking I might even be able to do it from stash...

This one, Black Ice by Susie Haumann, for sure:

Two yarns held together... ooh yes, I have a plan for this one!

In a really mad moment I wondered to myself if I might be able to knit this sweater in time for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival...  but that may be pushing too hard.

As my yoga teacher announced last week:  "Life is a playground and not a battlefield".

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Dolphins and Leopards

On Sunday I watched dolphins in the harbour.
I had no idea!

Passing the binoculars back and forth between us.

Leopard sculpture at Marischal College, image from the BBC website
And then a leopard - neither pictured by me, too busy being in the moment.

My birdfeeding station may shortly require planning permission.

Daylight when I reach home in the evenings brings with it a new sense of ease.

A new plant cascades to the floor in rivulets of tiny hearts.
And breathe...

The evolution continues.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Freedom to Knit

Irving Socks
I have already shown you my knitting nest, the chair in my bedroom where I curl up with my needles and wait for the owls.

I have yet to see them, but I have identified the calls as belonging to at least two tawny owls, which swoop in from the north west and almost certainly perch on the roof of the ancient building which marks the boundary between my little group of cottages and the gardens of the grand mansions beyond.

I sit there in the early hours of my weekend mornings, waiting for the rest of the world to wake up so that I can do the weekly food shop or burn off some energy at the gym.

And in the evenings, I often retreat upstairs with a bundle of sock projects for some Pick 'n Mix knitting, accompanied by a podcast or my latest audio book (The Life of Charlotte Bronte).

In addition to  sporadic Brighton Plaid crochet square production, I am all about the socks.

I have:

My Christmas Eve cast on
My Christmas day cast on
My New Year's cast on
Then there was the need to cast on the Irving Socks...

Coming up in February I have signed up to two new sock clubs, from the Knitting Expat and Curious Handmade.

At some point soon I will hit peak anxiety about the number of unfinished objects that litter my knitty nest.
But for the moment, I am enjoying five rows here and there on one or the other.

This weekend, I might finish two socks - not a pair, but  certainly a couple!

There will be knitting.
There will be dancing.
There will be owls!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2018, apparently

This is the year in which I will:

Fresh ink, a clean page, sustainable living

  • Go on a writing retreat
  • Attend Dance Bootcamp again 
  • Commit to Aerial Hoop as my preferred circus medium
  • Renew my passport and actually use it
  • Know when to push myself
  • Know when to stop.

Those are not resolutions, they are intentions. 

Tulle Shawl by Curious Handmade, Knitvent 2017

I thought about having a word for the year - you know the concept?
A logo to slap on my forehead and stare at in the mirror every morning, to repeat like a mantra until I become a better person.
The words that occurred to me were "strength" and "balance".
So I am teaching myself to perform a handstand.
No, really I am!

First square of my Brighton Plaid blanket
I am still very much "a woolly person" as my new neighbour described it, on viewing the state of my table.

My current works in progress are mostly socks (five pairs!), but also mittens (two pairs) and the beginnings of a Brighton Plaid crochet blanket, which I am very excited about.
Christmas Eve cast on:  Twas the Night Before Christmas pattern
Day One of my return to the workplace knocked me out, for no good reason.
I could not summon the energy for my aerial class, failed to eat properly, and was in bed by 7.30pm.

Day Two was better.
I took a sock to knit at lunchtime, bought the ingredients for dinner (Black Bean and Peanut Stew) and talked myself back off the precipice of anxiety, because... WTF Roo?!  

Know when to push myself and know when to stop.

Read more, write more, eat more, treat myself more kindly.

Take more time to just... be at peace with myself.
That's the hardest thing of all.
Trying to do... less?

Happy New Year, dear readers!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Essence of Fairy Lights

It is that time of year again: the advent countdown (meltdown) season.

Last weekend I sat down with The Modern Cook's Year and planned meals for the seven days when The Girl will be here with me.
We are aiming for a vegan Christmas and I was very excited to discover not one but TWO veggie restaurants in the city, one of which had a pre-ordering offer of a take-away vegan nut roast which The Girl agrees "sounds bangin'" and vegan carrot Christmas cake, with a cashew cream "cheese" topping - nomnomnom, indeed!
Photo by A Food Story Cafe, Aberdeen
The holiday period will be a chance to settle in properly, establish new routines, press my reset button.
I did so much decluttering in the approach to my move, both mental and physical, that now there is a feeling of emptiness.
I need to take the time to enjoy that, to listen to the echo.
It is so tempting to fill the void with meaningless activity and possessions, instead of letting the place tell me what it wants to be, and finding out who I am in that space.

I have been purchasing a few "beautiful things" for my home.
The Reinvention of Roo permits a certain careful curation of objects, that for the first time in my life do not need to be entirely functional.
Pictures will follow - with or without Christmas lights!
(Did I tell you I opened a box marked "kitchen essentials" and found the fairy lights were right at the top?!)

I have always feared the accumulation of stuff, shedding possessions at every opportunity like so much dead skin.
Always ready to pick up my bag and move on.
To be free, weightless.
Maybe now I can settle down.

I also have great knitting plans for the holiday and those deserve a post of their own.

I am allowing myself to knit absolutely anything I fancy and last night I was instantly smitten by the Chasing Unicorns Shawl.
It is my favourite shape - a great big asymmetric triangle - perfect!

I am looking forward to using some of my Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles stash for this one.

And of course there is the Christmas Eve cast on  - I plan on knitting the Twas the Night Before Christmas Socks and / or Vintage Fairy Lights.

Because I can!

Whatever you are doing this holiday season - enjoy it!
And be kind to yourself as well as others.
That's my plan!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

In My Own Private Swoon

The momentum of moving has left so much unsaid.

The knitting, the reading, the writing, the circus, the living...?
Yes, it is has all been going on around here, but in a complete Oz-storm.

In the two weeks since I moved (two whole weeks already!) I have accidentally lost a kilo in weight.

This is not a brag, it is an alarm bell.
I am not allowed to lose any more weight.  I am supposed to be trying to put it on.
When I weighed myself at the gym this morning I hit myself on the head with my water bottle, because I was so frustrated.

I am writing it here to make myself accountable.  To make sure I turn this thing around.  This cannot go on!
My instagram pals will have seen me in two new pairs of trousers recently.  I splashed out and went for quality and style and fit.  Especially fit.
Accountability?  Zara's "Extra Small" is now too big FFS.

So here I am:  Me and Em Size 6.
Just shoot me now.

The handles have now been screwed onto my new pots and pans.  There is a supermarket at the end of the street.  Eating is definitely an option!

But so is the gym.  I can walk there in ten minutes.
And it is an addiction. 
I am up at 5 am so that I can get a good hour of exercise in before work.
So that I can be at work by 8 instead of 9...?
Then there are the aerial classes, the yoga, the sh'bam.

And the more I do, the more I want to do.
It makes me feel alive.
A sort of moving meditation, a seeking and a finding.

So in mitigation, I make myself sit down to knit.
I am knitting two pairs of mittens, a shawl and two pairs of socks (or is it three?)
I settle myself in my knitting chair and put on a podcast or my latest audiobook and try to slow my heartbeat, to be calm and quiet.
And the next thing I know, I am asleep.
Which is not helpful either!

Moderation in all things:  that would be a good idea, Roo.

The title of today's post comes from a review of my latest audio book choice "New People" by Danzy Senna.
Maria, the main character, "exists in her own private swoon", writes Doreen St. FĂ©lix in The New Yorker.
Oh dear, I do, I really do!
I am loving this book so far.  Danzy Senna's first book, "From Caucasia With Love" struck a chord in this crazy mixed up family. 
"New People" might be another to pass around, but for now it is just for me.