First FO of 2014, a Norfolk flat white and a brilliant novel

First Finished Object of 2014! This is a lovely little baby top from my Patons Learn To Knit book. It’s suitable for a near-beginner, I’d say, as the cable-effect twists involve one stitch-twisting technique rather than a cable needle. Being baby-sized, too, it knitted up quite quickly. The only problem, really, was finding 4-ply wool which wasn’t a sickly pastel colour. This is Jarol Heritage yarn and it’s lovely – possibly a little too ‘woolly’ for the pattern, which specifies cotton, but it does look really nice. I’ve sent it off to friends with a new baby – I hope they like it!

Over Christmas, I read Grace McCleen’s unique and fabulous novel, The Professor of Poetry. This is her second novel, apparently, but I hadn’t even heard of her before (very remiss of me!). This novel has an unusual protagonist, as I noted in an earlier blog entry when I’d started the book – a single, female, middle-aged academic. Recovering from a serious illness, she returns to the university city of her youth and her old tutor, and waits for her Big Idea to arrive. She is well drawn, as is the tutor, but the real star of the novel, I felt, was the university city. I thought this was unmistakeably Oxford, though it isn’t named. Very occasionally, I thought little details suggested perhaps Cambridge – but then the description of the Upper Reading Room at the Bodleian was so clear and realistic that I felt Oxford was the setting. I wish she had simply named the city; it didn’t need to be mysterious and it would not have been to the detriment of the story in any way to have named it. Anyway, McCleen’s description of the atmosphere of the city in all lights and weathers is just superb. Well worth reading – and I’m going to hunt down her first novel very soon.

And, finally – I like my café shots, as you know, so here is the rather nice newish Chapters café in the Books department of Norwich’s finest department store, Jarrolds. Here, we had a delicious flat white while surrounded by books. Lovely.