As Storm Ellen buffets and blasts the willow tree in my garden and shakes the bejeepers out of the last raspberries that cling to their free-swinging canes, I sit inside my home listening to its ferocious gusts. And my mind turns to knitting.
I know, dear reader, I am more known for the hook than the needle, but as Ireland’s weather patterns shift inexorably from warm rain to cold rain, I find my fingers itching for the simplicity of a knitted jumper once more.
Every year I make one. Just one.
And it simultaneously comforts me to know I’m taking care of Winter-Aoibhe’s cold bones and soothing Autumn-Aoibhe’s frantic need to prepare all the things.
I get decidely medieval during weather like this. Suddenly every single fruit on my neighbour’s crabapple tree that overhangs my small veg patch is precious, every boysenberry yet to be picked is ripe with urgency, every germinating winter veg and maturing spring veg seed is a lifeline. Thoughts like “This will see us through the winter” and “I’ll be glad of this in January” pop up time and again as I gather fruit to make wine and jam, and chase a few intrepid spiders off my berry hoard with juice-stained fingers.
Never mind that we have ample supplies of both in the local grocery store, or that they deliver so I needn’t even go out and face the possibility of catching the plague. There is just… something… about putting the labour in to prepare for the weather and darkness to come that strikes me as fundamentally, instintually important.
“I’ll be glad of this in January” is at the front of my mind with every stitch too and I know I won’t be content to face winter 2020 until I have cast on.
I don’t go fancy. I prefer to keep my knitting simple. So, usually I just work a garter stitch band til it fits around my waist, pick up along its selvedge and knit upwards. Raglan decreases are perfect – I can watch TV and barely glance at what my fingers are doing – but a little stranded colourwork is not out of the question, either. Doesn’t it make for a cozier jumper after all? And it’s great if you’re stash busting and haven’t enough of any one colour lying around.
It’s been my autumn ritual these last 6 or 7 years.
Gather berries, Make wine, Knit jumper. Face the storms.
This year, I get the sense I may need to make more wine than usual, though. And maybe fit in a second jumper along the way.