This artlessly artful composition in reds and black greeted me on the table top as we were preparing to leave for Mayenne. Form following function, gear, tackle and trim, and the happy, serendipitous riffing on the colours, the way the ensemble seemed to be making a cheerful, glowing stand against winter and its vicissitudes, all filled me with such delight I brooked rolled eyes at the dilly-dallying and reached for the camera. It features the famous sock wool scarf, and a pair of Norwegian patterned fingerless mitts I made to keep it company for Christmas. They were badly done, Emma, badly done, since my tension in the stranded work (the different colour patterns) was tight and snaggy, and I tried to follow an unnecessarily complicated pattern which insisted on counting all the stitches all the way round every time instead of just those involved in the making of the thumb, an act of repetitive numeracy my easily-distracted brain wasn't up to, so the stitch increases for said digit are all over the place and not pretty. Never mind, with black wool and fierce blocking these things don't show too much, and the recipient likes them, seems to feel ill-at-ease now driving without them, and looks kind of adorable wearing them with the scarf and a chunky black hoodie (sorry Tom - yes my wife knits, why do you ask?) And from them I have learned where I went wrong, have come to understand the structure, sorted out a basic template and now have mittens more or less sussed.
The jump leads just make me happy anyway. I went to my car the day after Boxing Day, it started, but one back wheel entirely failed to go round, and dug itself into the gravel of the drive in protest. Nothing to be done but get the garage out. The slip of a lad who hoisted it up on the truck neatly and kindly smoothed the gravel over with his boot, saying that they would probably need to replace the 'garniture'. Quite what application this culinary term has to do with the car I'm still not sure, but I later gathered from the bill it meant pretty much the whole breaking caboosh. But they managed one or two workarounds to keep the price down without compromising safety or legality (quite), as they do, and had it done before I needed it on the Saturday. I drove it back without any problem on the Friday evening, but come the next morning, the battery was as flat as East Anglia, so Tom had to drive me to St Brieuc (no, I don't drive his car, I'm a wimp and he doesn't trust me to; spare me the grown-up feminist disapproval). Tom was able to put his hand on the jump leads, which we have never had occasion to use since living here, but they were crappy lightweight plasticky ones and one of the clamps was hopelessly broken. So it was back to the garage, who didn't have any in stock to sell us, but lent us a set enormous and heavy enough to jump start a combine harvester (literally, it's a garage that deals with as much heavy agricultural plant as domestic vehicles), went over the procedure for applying them (it had been a long time since Tom had used jump leads, I don't remember ever doing so) and ordered us a new set.
They are really quite lovely: heavy and firm and solid yet with a smooth, satisfying action and flexibility. They're glossy and sleek and smell rather good too. We will probably never have to use them again, and will almost certainly never have to buy another set as long as we live, but I feel inclined to keep them on show somewhere purely for their beauty.
I like stuff, some of it.