Sunday, January 24, 2021

Socks, Snow, Cakes, Lockdown

 It's been a trying week - this lockdown feels harder than the previous ones - maybe because it's a new year, partly because of Brexit, definitely because despite the vaccine the end still feels endlessly far away and the real life impact is getting harder to work around. 

I suppose it's part of aging that sometimes you need to take a bit of time to grieve just generally; for all the things that have changed and you can't get back, the people you miss, and all the other things which don't matter so much on their own, but which accumulate into significance. I don't know what the early days of Brexit would have been like without a lockdown to mask them, but I can't shake the sense of something lost, or that as restrictions lift the reality of it will be more and more dismaying.

On the upside we've finally got snow, so there's a new reason to stay inside, and everything looks different - which I like. It feels like a snow day from childhood and represents a brief window to stop worrying much about anything else. In a moment I'm going to take a pause from writing this post to take a dog for a walk - for once I think I'm more excited than she is to go out. 

I've also finished my first sock (singular, I have yet to start it's mate) and am ridiculously excited about - to be fair, so's my mum. More than anything else I've ever knitted, it feels like a magic trick - yarn and needles have created this complex shape, and I've learnt how to do a few new things in the process. I've well and truly caught the bug for making them - and really wish I'd started this pattern a week earlier so that I could wear them whilst it's this cold.

The pattern is Alison Rendall's Stoorbra socks from the 2020 Shetland Wool Week Annual. They're a bed sock kind of thing - not meant for everyday wear, but for sitting by a fire with on a cold day. They're something I've wanted for a while, but given the time they take to make, have cost to much for me to buy (not over priced, just the yarn came to about £16 never mind the hours of knitting, but I'm cash poor). I love this pattern. The socks are splendidly flamboyant which makes them fun to knit, the charts are easy to follow, and so are the instructions.

I love knitting Fair Isle as well, in much the same way that I like making bread. It's such a pleasing fabric - warm, soft, unexpectedly water resistant, usefully wind resistant. It feels like something that's been made for a very long time, the colour and patterns adding artistry to the practical elements. 

At least the sock turned out well - in contrast to this weeks baking. A cake for my mother's birthday worked in the end, and against the odds after a stupid mistake about how much flour needed to go into it that meant a scramble of adding other ingredients until the texture of the batter looked promising. Baking is not an exact science unless you want to replicate something. Mum thought it was one of the nicest chocolate cakes she'd ever had - I have no idea what really went into it in the end so can't make it again.

It was the scones which were a real disaster though. The self raising flour jar turned out not to have self raising flour in it, so we ended up with leaden lumps of dough (the dog enjoyed them, but she's not even a little bit discerning). In normal times it would be nothing to go to the shop and replace it, but irresponsible in a lockdown. Making a decent scone is a point of personal pride so this maybe annoyed me more than it should.


  1. I've seen pictures of being snowed in. Looks picturesque but cousins say freezing. I think it has added to the sense of being cut off. In my country the picture is not good though figures not on other country's scale but very worrying.

  2. It's a long time since I've been snowed in anywhere - maybe about 10 years. We used to get snow like that most winters - this was only about an inch or 2 of snow. Enough to be pretty, but already almost gone, and not the cause of any serious disruption. Being properly snowed in does feel isolating, with the added worry of the cold and the damage the ice does. I hope you and yours are taking care and staying well. It's a worrying time.

  3. That is a splendid sock. I'd love to see a photo of the wrong side as well, though one can tell from the right side that the wrong side will be equally impeccable. One day I will come to grips with fair isle knitting. One day.

    1. When I finish it's pair I'll post inside out pictures. It might be because I was taught it young, but when I came back to Fair Isle as an adult it made sense really quickly. What I like about it is that I can't get lost, the pattern tells me exactly where I am, it's always interesting because of the emerging patterns (even when it's slow going) and traditional patterns tend to have short floats which helps with getting the tension right. I think it's generally a lot easier than the finished results suggest.