Here comes the hygge….

Reader – I did it again! I can explain….

Despite a dizzying assortment of weather offerings in the last months, it’s safe to say that autumn has settled its mantle here over the West coast of Norway. Flooding, epic rainfall, landslides, yet mild temperatures. The tail-end of Dorian made the use of a hairdryer redundant by the time I reached Grieghallen.

Whilst the rain is lashing, the itch begins to manifest itself. And persists as I start “making things cosy.” The cushions change their covers…something rustic and inviting. Out comes the woollen throw (Max already has first dibs on this). Candles resume their places. A bowl piled with the current fruit in season (plums). And I start making soup. Current favourite – bean, tomato and spinach with a zing of harissa. I seem to be embracing my inner vegetarian. The digestive system approves.

The hygge is on! That special form of Norwegian cosiness….coorie, in Scotland. I try to resist that resulting itch. But it succeeds in leading me inside the wool shop, shelves glowing with rainbow colours, tempting as the old-fashioned sweetie shop of my childhood. I get this urge every year at about this time. I’ve produced a few sweaters over the years. The thrill and satisfaction of completion is the same one writers experience. Most of my colleagues are far more proficient with wool than I am. I watch in fascination (and envy) as gorgeous garments evolve from their needles.

I get that earthy feeling of going back to basics when I knit – to these home crafts taught to most of us as we grew up. The pride in that first pair of wonky squares which became a shoulder bag. In purple. How I laboured over it. So slowly that i despaired and my mother pitched in to add considerable centimetres. I was constantly lured by glossy pattern photos of finished items. It seems that I am still susceptible.

The selection of wool types, quality and colour combinations has expanded to become a true art form. My local Aladdin’s cave displays “rare breed English” wool, alongside Icelandic and Norwegian varieties. You can get tweed-effect, silk blends or alpaca. Even yarn incorporating yak hair. My fingers drift down the shelves where every variety seems to squeak “Pick me!” (Do balls of wool have squeaky voices?)

Texture is the first thing I choose. I’m smitten by the Icelandic yarn, which reminds me a little of a much-loved (and much-missed) Faroese sweater which I want one day to recreate. Faroes wool is expensive and hard to get hold of, unless online. I love colours which reflect the landscape. But my eye is distracted by an alpaca mix, wonderfully lightweight, which reminds me of the piece of Harris tweed I couldn’t resist this summer. There’s a grey-blue greeniness to it that is drawing me in. I reluctantly leave the Icelandic shelves, decision made.

I do have a slight habit of collecting all that I need for a project and moving on to the next one before the first is complete. Ah well. A bit like my mind really. Flitting like a butterfly from one idea or thought to another. Automatic writing exercises, in my case, are quite astonishingly diverse. I’ve seen my daughter’s eyes glaze over a few times as I jump from one subject to another in speech. It’s all perfectly rational inside my head, quite logical. But of course sounds in reality totally random.

This time however, my knitting project has a new dimension. I get to create one thing whilst mulling over another in my head. Thinking time. Time to consider my writing projects, to see where my mind leads me, and to unravel the plot knots whilst my hands are doing the opposite of unravelling! Choosing wool colours is like rearranging characters….Oh, add in THAT one and how does that change things? Or…what if I do THIS??

Multi-tasking again. The orchestra takes our production of Peter Grimes to Oslo in late November, before London the following week. I decided to take the train there and back, partly to be eco-friendly where I have an option. And partly because it’s the low-stress choice for me. Seven hours on a train is time I can use productively. The knitting and notebook will join me, along with the imagination. Yes, Girl (ok…Woman) on a Train. Now where could that lead me?

But first….a new week at Moniack Mhor in which to be creative. And a chance to chat with those Highland cows down the road…..

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