I never really think about knitting Christmas presents for people. I can’t be that organized and I can’t bear the degree of disappointment I would feel if I failed. So I only really knitted one Christmas gift this year, and it was always on the cards.
I am unashamedly a Rock+Purl fangirl, and that’s very much helped by the fact that Ruth is one of my favourite people in the whole world. When she brought out this pattern, I a) knew I wanted to knit it, b) knew it deserved to be made with a touch of luxury, and c) knew who it would be for.
Claire, my personal trainer, has looked after me for over two years now. We kicked off in June 2010, after I decided that I’d had enough of my family telling me how ‘big’ I’d got, and she whipped me into shape. Over time, she didn’t just train me: she listened to me, helped me with my confidence issues, and re-introduced me to the wonders of yoga. We discovered together that yoga was incredible for depression, just absolutely eye-opening in terms of what it did and how it helped. At least, it was for me, and I would whole-heartedly recommend it for anyone seeking other options in dealing with depression.
When I have a bad day, I curl up. I hunker down and hide and wait for it all to pass over and then slowly unfold and creakingly come back out. With yoga, all that stretching, all those big, wide movements, all the dynamism of the human body helps me unfurl, become tall again and take charge of my space.
Claire deserves a good pair of luxurious knitted socks. She squeed when she opened her little parcel, declaring, “Oooh! Yoga socks!” as if she completely understood me as a knitter. I told her I thought of her sitting on her mat, at home, meditating, her feet toasty warm. And that made her incredibly happy.
I realized that I didn’t do too badly this year, knitting-wise, with 10 finished objects. I hope to finish a couple more before the New Year, which would be great if I did because that would mean I have an average of one finished object a month this year. But a lot of other things happened, too.
I bought a guitar and had my first guitar lessons. I hope to have more in the New Year.
I finished my RHS course at Hadlow College.
Technically, this means I am allowed to run free in other people’s gardens and work in them. I’m still not so sure. I mean, I wouldn’t let me. But I joined the WFGA, and am now on their WRAGS traineeship scheme, so hopefully in the New Year something will come along and I will have my first paid work in horticulture, which is what it’s all about. Meanwhile I’ll return to volunteering at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in January and learn my trade there, as well as go to a few short courses with the WFGA.
I also got to go to an event at the Paralympics in London.
Which was a treat and a half, as not only did I get to visit the Olympic Park and watch Team GB take a silver medal in swimming, but I got to spend the day with the very lovely Michaela, who provided the spare ticket.
I got over my fear of my sewing machine and made a quilt of my very own. All by myself.
And on a more frivolous note, I decided that twenty-odd years was enough and I was going to quit biting my fingernails. That was in August.
This is what they look like now. I am slightly guilt-ridden by the fact that despite all those years of constant biting and tearing and abuse, my nails have grown very hard – I couldn’t bite them now even if I tried – and without any evidence of ridging, weakness or blemish. They’re pink (when not painted) and healthy and as I’ve discovered via many accidents, can do serious damage without damaging themselves.
(That, by the way, is my second-favourite ever nail polish, Jessica in Nutter Butter. My favourite is Zoya in Bailey, but I have acquired a small collection of random fun colours. For whatever reason, metallic is my thing. Also a bit of glam glitter doesn’t hurt.)
And all throughout is my new camera, my fantastic, beautiful Berenice. She is responsible for all the above photos, and all but a handful since August. I love her. Every time I take a photo with her and I look at it on her screen in those seconds after the click, I hear myself saying, “Oh you little beauty.”
I don’t really know what to expect next year. I haven’t really thought of the bigger things. Little things, yes. I’ve booked in for an 8-week swimming course to improve my strength and coordination in swimming, and while the winter winds are up I’m hopefully going to get on to a few powerkite-flying courses. I start a diploma in Garden History, Philosophy and Design in February, as a taster to find out if garden design is what I really want to do.
For what to me are little things, they’re things that are slowly going to end up defining me. When I dream about my future self, she’s drawing sketches in the morning before going out to tend to a client or two’s gardens, hopefully interrupted by an offering of a mug of tea, perhaps a slice of cake if she’s lucky. And then when the winds are good, she’d get her gear, drive to a bit of coast and unfurl the powerkite and board.
I think all I want next year, is to be able to answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with this:
I’m a gardener. I kite-surf at the weekends.
It’s not a lot to ask.