It’s a little strange writing about new beginnings at the end of January. It’s the right month, but feels like shutting the barn door after all the horses have bolted. The new beginning has already happened, and in fact this is more of a moment to be reconsidering all the ‘new year, new me’. Only the truly scatterbrained, such as myself, would stop on the 27th January to think about new beginnings.
There’s reasons for why I am. Last week, I found out I had passed the first five of my qualifying exams and I would be able to keep going with my job for another year at least. I was happy but mostly exhausted. I like challenges, but this job has been proving to be one in a life consuming way. My friends have had to get used to ‘oh I’d love to come along but I really can’t drink as I have a test tomorrow’ or ‘I’m very sorry, I’ll be away in Orkney’.
Life for the next three years can concertina out in front of me, a cascade of busy weeks and exams and travel. It’s nerve wracking but reassuring too, a path into the future. And when you have a path, stepping into a new year doesn’t feel so much a new beginning as one step along a long road which leads you to somewhere you desperately hope you want to end up. It would be too easy to focus so much on the path as to forget to enjoy the scenery around it. And there has been some pretty scenery.
This past week took me to Orkney, an archipelago off the North Coast of Scotland. I flew in a tiny plane over the very snowy Highlands to get there. The first morning when I got up, I found that the snow (or at least a hard frost) had followed me up. It’s dark and windy up there in January, but like Edinburgh it was beautiful regardless of the weather.
I wandered around in the evening after I had finished my work. I was based in Kirkwall, on the island dubbed ‘the Mainland’ which isn’t half confusing. I found a yarn store, a yarn, complete with a black Labrador called Blitz. Blitz gives excellent hugs. It is a credit to the yarn store that Blitz is only my joint favourite thing in it. His lovely owner machine knitted some of the most beautiful knitted goods I have ever seen. I have loved colourwork for awhile, but this made me fall in love with fairisle. I walked out of there with yarn and something even more precious, inspiration.
I had, of course, brought something to knit with me. I bought some fabulously sparkly self striping sock yarn when I started work back in August. Stripy sock yarn is a staple of my stash, I love it. If you cast on at either cuff or toe, knit until the heel where you put in waste yarn for an afterthought heel and then keep going till it’s done, it’s an incredibly simple project which is both fun to work on and looks fantastic. It feels like maximum effect for minimum effort. I need to go buy more especially as if we end up with a no deal Brexit, I may have to start paying customs on some of my favourite dyers.
They were perfect knitting for my trip and I even finished them off right as the trip ended. I got back home, added in the heels, sewed in my ends and ta dah! My first project of 2019 completed.
Then, this morning I pulled out the yarn I had bought in Orkney and cast on. I bought 3 balls of Jamieson’s Spindrift (a yarn which is different from Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weigh, though both are from Shetland) in some cheerful colours to start a blanket. To me, this marks a new beginning. A chance to start something new in 2019. It may be a bit behind everyone else, and it’s certainly not that instagramable but it comes from a place of enjoying knitting.
Where things aren’t perfect, you have to start from somewhere to make it better.