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. Félix 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.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Owls and Cathedral Bells

Greetings from my new nest!

I can hardly believe it, but my move is complete.

My knitting chair overlooks the wild end of a Big House's garden.

I have owls, my friends!
When I heard them last night, it brought tears to my eyes.

On Sunday morning, it was the cathedral bells.
Every hour, a clock tower chimes for me.
These are the sounds of the Old Town.
My home.

And already, it definitely feels like Home.
I have found my home at last!

On the day of my move, I woke early to a strange white light.
I assumed it was the moon.

I breakfasted and packed my last bowl, mug, spoon.
I picked up the bin bag and stepped outside...
Oh NO!
Three or four inches of snow, and more falling, thick and fast.
I threw the bin bag into my car boot and set off up the hill.
It will be fine, it's all going to be...

I made it over the hill, but only just.
I disposed of my bin bag and tried to turn the car.
I reversed up the public road and took a slow and steady run at the track.
So I parked by the standing stone and trudged up the hill, heart pounding.
Not today!

My removal men rang - the city was gridlocked, they would be late.
I decided not to mention the state of the road - after all, it might thaw soon..?
They rang again at 10am, seeking directions from the neighbouring farm.
When there was still no sign of them at 10.30, I went out to look for the van.
Halfway up the hill, there they were, shoveling snow, the vehicle stuck fast.
I offered a giant bag of salt, FL's emergency stash.
It helped.
Their determination was astonishing.

The loading took no time at all.
I had honed my possessions to the bare essentials:  books and wool mostly!
The only furniture to go was a solid wood book case, a single bed and one small table, which I had treated with beeswax the week before.

The Steadings' children were playing in the snow.
I said goodbye.

The removal van set off.
I wandered into the house to await the new owner, who was coming to get the keys.
He rang to say the city was still in chaos - he would be late.

I decided to visit the Tree, to bid FL farewell.

And there they all were:  the removal men, my neighbours, a broken tow rope...
The younger one was shoveling furiously.
The older one was revving his engine.
I suggested this was not going to happen without a tractor.

And so, the day after I said "Thanks very much, good luck!" to my Friendly Farmer, I had to make a sheepish phone call.
"P?  Um... it's Ruth here..."
You probably heard him laughing from where you are now.
He was on his way.

I stomped over the fields to the Tree.
I informed FL that enough was enough, and that he had to let me go.
I needed to leave.
"That's it - do you hear me?  It's over!"

The new owner arrived before the tractor.
His dog ran excitedly back and forth between us, as I wiped my tears away.
Poor man - that's twice he has had to witness my emotional mess!

Conversely, his delight in the place was tangible.
"Look at it! It's at it's best now!  Will you look at that view!"
 And I found myself grinning back, because I knew that FL would like this man, who truly appreciates the farm and is going to bring it back to life.
They are going to get on well, I thought.

I took him indoors, passed him the keys and gave him a photograph of the day FL moved in, of cows in the byres, the house as it was back then.

And then I gathered my last few bags and walked over the hill to my car and left the farm.

Time for another new Roo.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Edge of Seventeen

It was a hard weekend.
I am surrounded by boxes.
I had a ritual burning of the unspeakable.
I sobbed.

And then I found some unexpected pictures of my seventeen-year old self, with her wild mop of curls and dazzling smile and I felt a rush of hope.
I am not that girl anymore but I can be someone else now.
No longer in his thrall.

It is all going to be fine.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


I hold my breath, waiting to move.
A box a day, the packing continues.
A little more slowly every day as I grind to halt, waiting for certainty that this is really happening.

A painting taken away by someone who recognises its landscape.

Family photographs retrieved by The Family.

Someone else's love letters gathered together to await a forwarding address.
C'est très douloureux.
I agree.

And breathe...

It is hardest in the middle of the night, with nothing to hear but the scuttling of mice, the rustling of leaves, the wind, an owl.
The waiting.

I do not wait well.
I reach out in the darkness and there is nobody there.
An unwanted email sent into the abyss.
So sorry, I should not have done that.

In my new home there will be music.
Meanwhile, I wait, pianissimo.