Friday, 31 December 2010


A bit over a year ago I registered for a website called which, as the name suggests, is a tool for recording how much yarn you have knit up over a period of a week, a month or a year. As a bit of fun at the start of this year I decided to see if I could knit 1000 metres a month during this year and yesterday I hit my ultimate target of having knit more than 12000m in 2010 - 12040m to be exact. I may stop using the site though, because at times it made knitting a little bit stressful - worrying that I hadn't hit my "target" for the month, even though the target was utterly meaningless.

So there is one of my plans for the year achieved, if an odd one. My other 'resolution' or aim last year was to knit a pair of socks a month, which I almost achieved - I made 11 socks over the year - though I've still got half a sock on the needles. As of today I have finished the seriously warm knee high socks I started on Christmas day so that should help in the next cold spell.

For 2011 I would like to knit at least one item a month for charity - probably for St Mungo's mainly - and also keep developing design ideas. In non-knitted areas of life I would like to get back on the Weightwatchers waggon, having fallen off in a spectacular fashion over Christmas, and keep living more healthily and losing weight. It would be good to make up the Clothkits bag kit I bought ages ago and generally improve my sewing skills, learn to use my new camera and I would like to keep blogging and keep writing. Otherwise generally keeping on building on the CBT skills I learned earlier in the year and be able to be less at the mercy of my mood, and be more sociable and probably most importantly keep walking closely with Jesus. I pray I can keep pressing on into God, rather than just drifting along, get to know Him better and study His word more, grow as a Christian.

Most of all I'd like to get better, but that's more in the "pipe dream" end of things! I have no idea what the next year will contain or whether I'll manage the things detailed above, I sincerely hope so, but I know that God will be with me through the year and that He will never leave me or forsake me, so that's the important stuff covered.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm afraid I've been rather lax on blogging of late, been horribly tired and struggling to keep up with Christmas preparations. There's just so much to do in the run up to Christmas and lots of meeting up with people, though I've been doing less than most people I suspect!

However, now decorations are up, fairy lights that work have been located, cake has been made and iced and presents have been knitted and even wrapped up. I'm sad that I've not been able to make it to church or to do many of the things I'd wanted to do for Christmas or in the run up to Christmas. But the extra time I've had to think has been helpful and has led me to realise that we put far too much pressure on ourselves over Christmas. There exists this mythical "perfect Christmas" that we've seen all over the media, from tv adverts advising shopping at a particular supermarket for "the perfect Christmas" to magazine fronts emblazoned with "top tips for that perfect Christmas you've always dreamed of". However, the truth is that the perfect Christmas has already happened, more than 2000 years ago, in Bethlehem and the main celebrants were a group of shepherds and some "magi from the east". Nothing can ever better that Christmas, prepared with infinite care and yet some apparent glaring omissions (such as hotel bookings) by our gracious, loving Father to bring us the best gift ever. All we are doing is celebrating that this has already happened, marking the occasion, so no pressure. If the gravy is lumpy and the presents held up in the post and the Christmas tree a bit askew, it doesn't matter.
What matters is Emmanuel - God with us, made flesh, coming to save the lost. So have a lovely Christmas, if you want to. I leave with you with John Betjeman's poem Christmas, which puts what I have been trying to say far better than I ever can.

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cold weather, good books and an unexpected parcel

Yet again it has been a while since I last posted and I feel like an update is more than overdue. I am currently most relieved that the weather has returned to something akin to its senses and is no longer so Siberian in its nature. The first week of snow felt like the longest week ever, with everyone cooped up in the house and everything cancelled, though the first of the pair of socks I was knitting for Dad's Christmas present made quite admirable progress. The post still hasn't caught up with itself which is infuriating as I am waiting for a lot of parcels, mainly Christmas related. Lately I've been finding the cold harder and harder to deal with and a trip to the doctor's on Wednesday confirmed what I feared, namely that I have Raynaud's Phenomenon/disease, a circulatory problem where insufficient blood gets to your extremities - in my case mainly my fingers are effected - meaning they feel the cold very badly and can be painful. My finger tips spent the week of the snow changing colour between white, red and blue, which was at the very least patriotic of them.

It is never pleasant to receive yet another diagnosis, especially when it is yet another condition for which nothing can be done, aside in this case from wearing gloves (what did the doctor think I was doing?!). Although I suppose it is good to know that I'm not just being a sook or a wuss: my body genuinely does find cold weather hard to deal with. Partly to "treat" this and partly to cheer myself up I have ordered some Malabrigo worsted to knit the Bird in Hand mittens by Kate Gilbert. I cannot think of warmer or softer mittens!

The good books have included Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol; although the story is a familiar one I couldn't remember whether I'd actually read the original book and having just finished it I recommend it heartily. Not only is it a great story exceptionally well told, it is also a superb portrait of Victorian London and a book that gets a great message across about Christmas. I would particularly recommend it to my fellow Christians, although it is not "a Christian book", it contains a lot of the spirit of what is best in our faith and speaks eloquently of the capacity for even the most calloused heart to change. For those who find the idea of Dickens daunting, I would add that this is a short novelette or short story, that moves at a fair pace and does not contain a lot of the slower more ponderous passages contained in many Victorian novels (mainly there for the purpose of stretching them to the prescriptive length required for the customary three volume novels of the time).

My other reading material lately has included The Deaf Sentence by David Lodge, the campus novel moving into retirement, a clever and engaging novel, and some more titles from Persephone books. Persephone is a company I cannot praise enough or recommend enough: their books never disappoint. This time I borrowed Operation Heartbreak by Duff Cooper from my mother's bookshelves, another comparatively short novel but well written, Cooper has the power to make you care about his characters and he writes from a perspective of authority on the period - during which he was a minister in Winston Churchill's government. He is writing of his generation, the generation George Orwell (in his novel Coming Up for Air) feared would be forgotten, a generation whose lives had been sandwiched between two world wars. Although this has not (yet) happened, the first war left a huge scar on the generation who fought in it and Operation Heartbreak provided an angle on this that I had never seen before. Now I have moved onto The Closed Door by Dorothy Whipple - more on that anon.

Lastly the unexpected parcel... I won a competition! Just a prize draw one, but the prize is enormous, the biggest parcel of knitting related goodies you ever saw! I took a photo of it (I'll try to get the photo onto here in the morning, for now it's on flickr). I'm still getting over the shock! Anyhow that is quite sufficient for now, I always get long winded when I get onto books! Hopefully next time some thoughts on 1 &2 Samuel and the life of king David, my recent Bible reading.