There are somethings worth waking up early for. Christmas morning is one, as are pancakes and going away for a holiday. I would, however, struggle to classify a Monday morning train to Aberdeen for work as being worthy of the early hour. From Aberdeen, I traveled onward to Ballater, a tiny village in the Cairngorms National Park near to the royal estate of Balmoral. The next morning, I woke up to snow.
I really shouldn’t have been surprised. It’s a hilly area away from the coast, and it was bitingly cold. On a Monday evening in January, I was one of only a few staying in the Hotel. But a wood fire was roaring in the fireplace, and after a helping of Sticky Toffee pudding, I was sufficiently warmed up to knit.
The next morning, I woke up early to find the world covered with snow. As I wandered around before work, I got to see a little of the village. The sun was still fairly low in the sky. Scottish winter mornings can be dark, with sunrise after 8 am in early January. The world felt still.
Later, the sun rose high enough to shine down on the surrounding snow covered hills. It sparkled as I walked to work. By lunch time, the village was back to normal despite the snow still on the ground. Life went on. The early morning, however, had been magical.
It’s the sort of magical moment that is very linked with Scotland in popular culture but doesn’t reflect my normal experiences living here. Edinburgh is coastal and any snow we do get is a more fleeting and less picturesque experience. Snow is not, perhaps, Edinburgh’s best look. For the Scottish Highlands, it feels right. It feels like the setting of a Christmas at Hogwarts or the front of the former biscuit tin I use to hold my handmade mince pies at Christmas. But for the residents of Ballater, it is a beautiful but normal experience.
Back in Edinburgh, it’s cold and clear with plenty of winter sunlight. Admittedly, the sunlight is absent of heat and it doesn’t even slightly warm the skin. Instead, the sandstone buildings shine in the light, contrasted against the blue sky. The wind is starting to pick up.
I woke up early this weekend to knit. With studying starting back up again, most of my day again needs to be dedicated to learning. The early morning can still be mine. I sit with a mug of tea, some toast with marmalade, and a project.
This morning it was my Sneachda (snow) teapot cozy. It’s nearly finished; the steek is cut and it’s only missing a good wash, the ends woven in and a pompom on top for it to be truly finished.
It’s a good fit, thankfully. The contrast between the bright blue and the dark is a little stark in the photo, but thankfully blends better in natural light. I wanted it to add a little brightness to the cozy as a whole but I worry it takes away a little from the cohesiveness of the snowflake pattern. It’s a live and learn project, I suppose. Nothing a pompom can’t fix and it’ll keep the tea warm regardless!
With the Tea Cozy firmly off the needles if not completely finished, I’m back to working on my Puddlejumper, a drop shoulder jumper of my own design. It finally feels like I have some momentum behind me as I knit it. It’s now joined in the round, and the colourwork has begun. The hope is that from here, it will be a purely fun project. The hard part of working out stitch counts and short rows is over. It should be just stocking stitch in the round with occasional bursts of simple colourwork to keep things interesting.
I do plan to work on a few more Pewter Heel socks. There’s a pair I’ve got sitting on my mantle with the first sock already completed and the second half way done. A few episodes of Endevour, and I should have a new pair of socks. Wish me luck!