Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Joys of Cold Weather.

knitted scarves

I'm a sunshine kind of girl. I have the kind of skin that benefits from sitting on a beach (I never burn, even without sunscreen), and I'd happily wear flip flops for the rest of my life if I could. I can think of nothing better than spending my time outside in the heat, until I can bear it no longer and jump into the nearest body of water.

I got a lot of that in December in Australia. It was absolute bliss - the kind of summer I dream of here in mild and generally soggy London, where it's not unusual for me to still be wearing tights in July. We drove around the Yarra Valley with the top of the car down, I drank a seemingly endless supply of gin and tonics and ate my dinners outside - without a cardigan! Having grown up in Virginia, where you can veritably see the heat in summer, all things felt right in the world again.

All things but one - it was, after all, December. It's a strange thing for a Northern Hemisphere native to experience Christmas in what actually feels like July. Christmas tress make no sense, the fact that Santa has a sleigh is bizarre (how about a jetski?) and you just don't get that comfy, cosy, mulled wine-drinking feeling. So while it was lovely to have a barbecue with the family outside on Christmas day, I have to say that's just what it felt like - a barbecue. I'd spent Christmas in Australia before, but perhaps was too wrapped up in the trip last time to really notice. This time though, I was feeling that lack. Who knew that so much I felt about Christmas was tied up in the cold weather? It turns out that keeping warm is half the fun.

So now back in London where the temperatures are firmly in the single digits, I am surprised to be relishing it. Normally I spend as little time as possible outside in January, but since we've been back I've been enjoying weekend walks to the local cafe where hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow is made even more delicious by drinking it outside, mitts on. I suppose as knitters, winter is our time to shine and really enjoy woolliness and cosiness. Lots of countries claim this saying as their own but it's true no matter which cold climate you're in: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad dressing."

So bring on the snow! I've got boots, I've got hot chocolate and I've got eleven hand-knitted scarves and wraps (yes, I just got up and counted). I am loving being outside in January. So how about you? Has knitting changed how you feel about winter? Are you enjoying basking in knitted glory rather than summer sunshine? And how long will this feeling last...?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Down South.

I know, I know, I have taken an extended break (again!), but like most people at the beginning of a new year, I've got good intentions for keeping this ol' blog bang up-to-date from now on. I do have a few excuses for being out of commission for a while, the most recent and most interesting being a month-long trip to the southern hemisphere (yes, you should be jealous).

We set off for Melbourne via Singapore and made our way up to Port Douglas and through Country Victoria during our trip. It was blissful summer, but don't let that fool you into thinking I neglected all things knit-related while we were there. This was one of our first stops:

Bendigo Woollen Mills

Needless to say, I bought some yarn. Okay, I bought loads. In case you haven't heard of it, Bendigo Woollen Mills is one of Australia's biggest hand knitting yarn producers. At the mill, there is a great shop where you can buy their current yarns off the shelf, but what I would recommend is delving into their back room, where discontinued yarns and colours hide out. It's all great quality stuff for a bargain.

Lucky for my husband, the mill also makes a good stop on a road trip of the Victorian countryside. Bendigo itself is a former gold mining town with a whiff of the wild west about it and we used it as a stop on our drive up to Echuca, where paddle steamer boats chug up and down the Murray, Australia's longest river. (The fact that my husband's name happens to also be Murray made for many a hilarious joke on this trip, let me tell you.) We took a lovely little ride down the river on one of these babies:

PS Emmylou, Echuca

From Echuca we moseyed over to Wangaratta (Australian town names just get better and better), where we checked out Australian Country Spinners, with a mill shop similar to Bendigo's, but with a less exciting range. Driving back down to Melbourne, I kept my eyes peeled for famous Australian wildlife (I am but an excited school kid at heart) but the only kangaroos I saw were sadly dead at the side of the road. Not cool. Eventually I decided it best to keep my eyes on the socks I was knitting.

We did lots of other fun, non-knitting things too, of course. Like head up to Port Douglas in Queensland, where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. As you can imagine, it was amazing. We snorkeled with the sea turtles, we swam in the rainforest, we ate A LOT of amazing food.

Port Douglas

Back down in Victoria, we wandered about wine country and spa towns and came across this lovely lavender farm:

Hepburn Springs Lavender Farm

And this adorably retro pitstop. (And yes, that is a mural of the infamous Ned Kelly with a sausage roll.)

Yellingbo, Australia


On the way to and from Oz, we stopped in Singapore and it was much more exciting that I had imagined: cheap delicious food, interesting neighbourhoods, amazing architecture, and one hell of a zoo.


So now we're back in London, putting our knitwear to good use, but for once it really feels like I've been on vacation. Until next time I can reminisce, right? My new favourite thing to keep me feeling the vibe is the truly fabulous Frankie Magazine, which I highly recommend you check out. That and, well, Vegemite. No, really!