Norwich this July as it as hot and steamy as a Palm House. Lethargy lurks at every turn and the drowsy afternoons float by, punctuated only by the chirruping of the Tour de France commentators.

Palm House, Kew Gardens
Palm House, Kew Gardens

I am at a point where I want to reboot my creativity. I have allowed it to become submerged over the years, as I’ve prioritised earning a living over and above living itself. Now I’m stepping back a bit, taking some time to work out who I want to be and how I can become that person. To determine a new purpose for myself, building on the bedrock of my creative abilities as much as on my practical aptitudes.

Care to come along for the ride?

What’s a girl to do?

This evening it occurred to me that the final two little chores that awaited me with my knitting were likely to take forever.  I had worked desultorily on them at the weekend, sewing on an odd button here, working a row of sock there.  Didn’t even pick them up last night.  When the knitting blahs descend like this, what is a girl to do?

Picture of a French church circa 2009, anyone?

This is not a finished knitted object....

Perhaps you are keen for a quick resume of the Tour de France?  Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha – he of the perfect cycling technique – was going great guns on Sunday until a French TV car covering the race decided to plough right into him, also causing injuries to another rider.  Whilst they’re both still in the race, I think we can be forgiven for thinking they might not be at peak fitness now.

Ah, but surely it hasn’t all been cycling and working and falling off bikes (since it’s proving so popular in the Tour, I thought I’d give it a go myself yesterday!)?  Surely there must have been some knitting-related activity?  I won’t really still be staring at an almost-finished cardigan and almost-finished sock when the final trump sounds?

No, of course not.  Tonight I plugged my iPhone into the stereo, fired up the Norah Lofts audio book (about Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine – very enjoyable) and told myself to just sew the rest of the buttons on the cardi and graft the toe of the sock.  Neither took much time at all, which isn’t really a surprise.  The cardigan needs its post-construction wash and the other sock needs to be knitted.  But right now I don’t technically have anything on the needles.

And whilst not knitting, I have been thinking over future projects.  I have been wondering for a while how to work more jumpers into my list of things to knit when every time a pattern calls out to me it’s a cardigan.  Jumpers are just so much more practical.  However, my new job has suddenly turned everything on its head.  Instead of wearing my usual skirts and jumpers, it looks like I will be spending most of the year in leggings and tunics, and cardigans are going to be just exactly what I need on cooler days.  So perhaps my subconscious knew all along that cardigans were just so much more practical!

I feel this is a bit of a ploddy post, but having motivated myself to work on my projects, the least I could do was let you know that progress is being made, if very slowly.  And one day soon there will be photos of finished objects, not just random old holiday photos.


Why “Palms Socks”?

Heel and gusset worked

You may be wondering why I’ve decided to name this pair of socks “Palms Socks”.  Well, this is why:

Alan Reed photographic prints in my living room

If you click on this photo to see it larger, the print on the left as you look at it is the exact same colours that appear in the yarn for these socks.  The print is called “Palms” and thus the socks are called “Palms Socks”.

A bit of background to these prints.  They are by a photographer called Alan Reed who lives and works locally here in Norwich.  I bought these two prints soon after I moved into my flat and I love them to bits, as I do the majority of his work.  I bought these at my local art gallery “Grapevine” which is literally a five minutes walk from my flat.  The other print is a view inside Norwich Cathedral which is about a 20-minute walk from my flat, so I hope that makes these prints relatively low-carbon-footprint, so long as we ignore the cameras, computers, printers, paper, ink,  possibly chemicals…..  But, hey, lower carbon-footprint than if they’d been shipped all the way from the United States for example!

As you can see from the photo of my knitting, the first sock is coming along well.  I decided to do the heel flap in a twisted rib for a little bit of texture.  My go-to pattern is very plain indeed, but it fits.  I did once try to do a different heel shaping, but the heel flap and gusset works well for me, so I stick with it.

The first week of the Tour de France has been a roller-coaster ride for the team I support – Team Sky.  On Thursday Edvald Boasson-Hagen won the stage, the first stage win in a Tour for Sky, then yesterday their star rider, Bradley Wiggins, crashed out with a broken collar-bone and the team plummeted from second place to bottom just like that.  Let’s see what today brings.

Long, warm Sunday

All kinds of ribby textures

It has been a long, warm day during which I have slightly run out of steam.  So, no, my slope rib cardigan isn’t complete and as I head off to my new job tomorrow it remains to be seen how long it will take me to finish this cardigan.  Not that there is any need for a thick wool cardi at the moment, and knitting is a relaxing pastime, not a competition.

I did buy some paper and start practicing my handwriting.  This was preceded by the ritual filling of fountain pens then scrubbing of ink off hands.  The pretty pen in the picture above is the most temperamental and it took some coaxing to get it working after a couple of weeks sitting empty.  The other two are rather better-behaved, if less pretty.  Isn’t that always the way?

There was no shortage of knitting time today, as there was another long Tour de France stage.  Unfortunately, the heat put me off the idea of knitting for the duration, although the Tour has been interesting enough to keep my mind off my knitting.  Yesterday Juan Antonio Flecha came in at position 134.  This is quite respectable.  He’s very much a support player for Team Sky in the Tour – just solidly getting on with making sure the team members like Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas get the support they need to do the stellar stuff.  Today it was a team time trial day and Team Sky came in at third place which is very good.  They were only 4 seconds off the lead.  Again, Flecha played a solid part as the team sped through the 23 kilometres.  Tomorrow is another long haul through the French countryside and I’ll be recording to watch in the evening.

And they’re off

The essential equipment

The 2011 Tour de France is underway with the long first stage heading into the countryside of the Vendée after a scenic route along the coast.  I support Team Sky, because they’re British and because Juan Antonio Flecha rides for them.  I have a soft spot for Flecha.

I’ve gathered together the essential equipment for Tour-watching: knitting, route map, Tour guide magazine, remote controls, French biscuits.

Today also marks the start of the Tour de Fleece and across the world spinners and knitters in their hordes will have picked up their fibre or yarn and set off on their own competition to spin or knit their own pre-set goal (for example, spin a set amount of fibre or knit a jumper) through the duration of the Tour.  I don’t have any goals and haven’t joined any groups, I’m just not a joiner-in, but it can’t be argued that a competition like the Tour de France offers great blocks of time to sit on the settee and knit.

Will the sleeve of the Slope Rib Cardigan be finished today?  Will I simply grind to a halt and give in to the attractions of the French biscuits?  Join us tomorrow to hear how the day went.  I might well keep you updated with Flecha’s performance in the Tour too!