Creature Comforts 5


It is difficult to find inspiration to write when it is as cold, grey and windy as it is just now, up here in Orkney.  I was mindful that of the suggestion that not all birthday blog posts should be about knitting and/or MSF and was hoping to be brilliant and colourful in my birthday blogging. Alas, the grey chill defeated me; robbed me of my inspiration. I got to thinking about two things, the first of which was my love of colour. I am looking out of the window as I write this. The sky is a flat grey, exactly matching the storm-whipped sea  and the field that I see, covered in the fading yellow of straw stubble  punctuated by the grey and brown shapes of the birds that are fattening up for winter on the spilled barley left from the harvest.  The scene has its own beauty, which I hesitate to label “bleak” but I slowly become aware of the scarf about my neck…

It is dangling there because, although I am indoors, the Orkney breeze is managing to find its way through the nooks and crannies of my stone-walled cottage… and I am reminded that we Northern knitters have more opportunity than most to flaunt our handiwork. It is not cold today, but there is a lack of psychological comfort when the sun fails to shine and the sound of the wind in the eaves is relentless. I realise that the comfort that I crave is not just the soft warmth of the fibre nestling against my skin. There is a reason why I choose this scarf to wear over the many choices available to me in my scarf drawer… and it is its marvellous colours – a muted rainbow collection, too soft in shade to be called “jeweled” and too rich to be termed “Autumnal.”

This realisation prompts me to look about me. In front of my keyboard sits my current sock kit – a self-striping yarn of broadly similar hues to today’s scarf: several shades of blue from faded denim to French navy, plums and amethyst, forest green, with a gorgeous dark greenish gold in the mix. To my left is a lace scarf in progress, in a lustrous  cinnabar yarn. Over to the far side of my desk lies my recent disaster of an Urchin hat, knitted in two different  multicoloured yarns  and therefore  a riotous mix of aqua blues, purples, red and green. The project basket on the floor at my right hand is overflowing with work in glorious colours from lipstick pink through glowing burgundy and royal purple, to the softest sage green.

I would like to show you this riot of colour, but there is far too little light today to be taking photographs indoors. Here is one I made earlier:

Glorious colour!

So, one of the ways in which my soul finds comfort is in seeking out colour. I think perhaps this is one of my primary reasons for knitting so much and so often.  I have no skill to paint, so I rely on the dyeing skills of others to provide me with my colour fix – and I knit, and I knit, and I knit… filling my scarf, sock and hat drawers with more woollies than even an Orcadian can ever need in their lifetime. Today is a Blue day? Then I may pick from a plethora of socks: azure, indigo, cerulean, cobalt… Perhaps tomorrow will be a Red day – no problem, I can find just the right hat to pop on my head when I take the dogs out. Or maybe I shall be feeling a little Green about the gills – do not worry, I have the perfect Crofters Cowl in dark pine green.

The sky might be grey and my spirits may be blue, but I can be bedecked in any hue that will comfort me, on this or any other day. I fact, I can be wrapped in a Jacob’s Coat of colour, if I wish it.

I find that thought comforting indeed.

(Footnote: the second Creature Comfort that I planned to write about shall have to wait, as this post came out lengthier than I had anticipated.)

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