As so often with 2010, I find myself finally getting time to sit and actually think about the new year after it’s already zipped past. This was a year of just keeping up, of turning inward and focusing only on the most elemental and essential of things. It was a year of simple stockinette sweaters, of small projects that I can’t even really call to mind now, a year of getting lost in the rhythm of fiber turning to yarn, yarn into cloth. This was a year of entering into the fabric of life, of being more about process and less about outcome. 2010 was a year of preparation; it was spent laying the foundations for new projects, setting the stage for new directions to open up, a time to till the soil in anticipation of life springing forth again. It’s often felt like things are going nowhere, but a lot has happened. Sometimes the quiet and subtle times are the ones that nurture the most change, even though the shifts don’t become apparent until much later.

So it was with this past year. There is a sense of quickening as the new one begins, an acceleration toward new frontiers emerging. If 2010 was a year of preparing ground, I think 2011 will be a year of blossoms.

As the year finishes, I find myself looking around, taking stock of things on and off the needles. The handwarmers were duly finished in time for gifting, though I completely failed to take a picture. They were by far the most elaborate handwarmers that I’ve made so far, with flaps that convert them to mittens and buttons to hold back the flaps when fingers need to be free. They were well received, as was the flower hat. My inner designer was right (as usual)…this was a Sarah hat, and it will be well loved.

I have begun a new hat, to match the first piece of lace I ever knit (in the background of the picture below). It’s a simple stole, knit from Cashsoft DK, and has somehow become my single most used piece of knitting. It’s wide enough to be a plane blanket, just long enough to wrap around when I’m cold at the office, and wonderful as a winter scarf. It has worn beautifully, despite almost 5 years of being carried around in my work bag (winter and summer, because it’s so good in an over air-conditioned office); the fabric is in very good shape and shows almost no pilling.

Since I wear the scarf so often, I decided to make a matching hat. I was so pleased with how the yarn had held up that I bought a few more skeins on super clearance a couple of years ago, so I have a few to spare. The lace pattern is not complicated, but is proving surprisingly hard to convert to a simplified version for the hat. After a couple of setbacks, I think I’m finally on the right track, but I still need to pull out a repeat to get back to the correct pattern.

Since that wasn’t very good conversation knitting, I brought along a couple skeins of Louet Gems in Teal, for my own version of the Drishdi scarf. This one is wider, and will probably be shorter because I’m running a little short of yarn, but it will make a good shawl-scarf.

The yarn is absolutely beautiful in this stitch pattern. It’s a superwash merino, and it’s very shiny. I loved the shine of the Cascade Venezia in the original scarf, and when I saw the Gems I knew that this was what it wanted to be. Isn’t that an incredible texture?

Sadly, the sweater is still sitting neglected. I’m almost done with the body, and I’ve apparently run out of steam. It was too big to take for holiday knitting, and the gauge is too small to make for instant-gratification knitting, so it’s lain untouched for well over a week now. It is calling, though.

And so we begin 2011. Welcome to the new year!