Word of the Year

Hello again!

It’s good to be back here after a 2-week break. I hope that, in spite of everything, you’ve had an enjoyable festive season and a good start to the New Year.

We had a quiet and pleasant time, and on New Year’s eve I baked a big batch of knieperties. These very thin wafers are a traditional end-of-the-year treat in this part of the country. I always make more than enough to share with several neighbouring families.

This year’s conundrum was how to hand them over at a safe distance? It didn’t feel right to place them on people’s doorsteps. I came up with this solution:

Loops of silver ribbons tied to the bags to hang them from the hooked stick we otherwise use to open our attic hatch. It was great fun, really, and brought smiles to everybody’s faces, including my own. The anderhalvemetersamenleving in action.

Anderhalvemetersamenleving (1.5-meter-society) was chosen as Word of the Year 2020 in the campaign organized by our leading Dutch dictionary Van Dale.

A word that sums up a lot about the past year, and also a word that we will not be leaving behind us soon, I fear. (As a former translator, I have a thing for words. Although I worked with digital dictionaries for years, I still treasure my paper ones.)

My knitting during the Christmas break was entirely in the spirit of the Word of the Year 2020. It’s an exactly 1.5 meter long scarf for my brother who lives in Germany.

Knit in 2-by-2 ribbing it is very tight and narrow now. It will need some TLC (a bubble bath, some steam, and an acupuncture treatment) to relax.

More about that and the matching hat soon.

I have very little knitting to show today, but there will be more over the coming months. Lots more, I hope. Looking back at 2020, I realized that I haven’t finished those UFOs that I planned to turn into FOs. Not nearly all of them. Am I beating myself up over that? No, I don’t think that will help. But their state of unfinishedness did set me thinking. It’s not just those UFOs. I currently also have 4 WIPs as well as loads and loads of plans for new knits. What might help, is a personal word for the year 2021 to give me some direction.

At first I thought of ‘limits’, but on second thoughts that sounded too bleak. There are so many outside limits already. (Our present lockdown lasts until January 19 and we don’t need a crystal ball to predict that it will be prolonged.)

A word with a similar meaning that sounds much friendlier is ‘focus’. Maybe more focus is what I need. Or maybe not. During the past year I’ve become a very focused grocery shopper.

On the left an old-style shopping list with everything in no particular order and room for browsing around. On the right my new-style shopping list with everything neatly arranged along the supermarket aisles. Pro: More focus makes for very fast shopping and I’m not in anybody’s way for long. Con: It sucks all the joy out of shopping.

But still, I have a feeling that the word ‘focus’ may help me in my knitting as well as in other areas of life. At least it is something to explore. I don’t know if it’ll be worth writing about here, but we’ll see.

Now for something completely different. Spring is still a long way away, but even at this time of year there are a few bright and flowery spots in our garden. There’s the Viburnum tinus (top) that gives us flowers for a long, long time and provides a great hiding place for the sparrow family. The hazel shrubs already have catkins…

… and for the first time this year the Cyclamen coum is flowering. Its bright pink flowers are only about 7 cm (3”) high, but they cheer me up no end every time I look out the kitchen window.

Focusing on things like this really helps in a world in turmoil. Yes, Focus seems like a good word for 2021. Hope, too, by the way. And Peace.

17 thoughts on “Word of the Year”

    • Well, I may seem focused to others, but on the inside it often doesn’t feel that way. The garden is a great comfort these days.

  1. Thank you for a great word to help me this year too, FOCUS! I’ve lost my daily routine and rhythm along with my desire to knit recently. I had a routine, even though being retired it’s easy to slip out of a one. This last year instead of going to bed and getting up earlier so there is more time in my day, I’ve found myself staying up later, sleeping in and doing things when I get around to it. This is not a way of daily life I want to continue. Thankful our American “Clown Show” is soon coming to an end. I’m hopeful my level of stress and anxiety with what the OrangeMan says or does will decrease in 13 days. I’m hoping for normal days, days with more cheerfulness and joy. More days when I will not say “now what has he done” to my husband. Thank you for FOCUS! I pray for us all for better days ahead. I want more days for us all to remember we are part of our ONE WORLD united by our humanity and caring for each other. We must work together to make our world better for us all. “MelKnitsInOly” from the Ravelry Churchmouse Group

    • Like you, I’ve found over the past year that a large part of my attention has been drawn to news about the pandemic and the world at large. It’s good to stay up-to-date. But I have to remind myself time and again that it’s also important to focus on the good things in life, big and small, too. Take care!
      PS: Do you really need to wait for 13 days before you can start focusing on the things you used to enjoy again?

  2. Good morning,

    very nice article – I do hope that your blog will remain in your focus!

    My very best wishes for you and your loved ones.

    Ein frohes und gesundes neues Jahr!


    • I think it will. I have the feeling that my blog helps me focus. Thank you and best wishes to you and yours, too!

  3. So nice that there is not only your blog to read but comments aswell. Thanks to your courage to write not only about knitting but about other issues too. Specially moved by Melanie: not even being American myself I felt fear and shame the past 4 years, anger too, and I do hope that the new president will be like the Cyclamen in your garden: an hopeful symbol of a growing season!

    • Totally agree – the comments are a really valuable part of a blog, too! Thanks for yours. I love your cyclamen comparison.

  4. Thank you Marijke for putting us back on track to focus on the good things in life – family, friends, life in general and the beauty that is in front of us everyday on earth.

    In response to previous comments, I would prefer that readers not get political as I for one have appreciated seeing the man in charge “focus” on less government regulation (improved Mexico/Canada trade agreement), reducing our taxes ( middle class too) and putting more people to work in the US in the last four years (with the exception of 2020’s pandemic) than ever before. He could have done even more if the other side and the media would have helped rather than hindered and held a fair election.

    I may not agree with his personality and tone of voice, but he has done much good and hopefully all that good will not be undone by self-serving individuals who now want to take the “Amen” out of prayer because it refers to gender. It is a word, not a gender description. We all need to focus on how to improve our relations with each other in 2021, and how to help small businesses again flourish like the cyclamen or should I say cyclawomen?

    My apologies if I have overstepped my bounds, but I didn’t expect to awaken to political comments in this blog.

    • Hi Tory, thank you for your comment. From the news we get here, I gather that feelings run high in the US. I don’t think this is the place to fight things out. What I hope (and what the cyclamen can be seen as a symbol for) is that there will be an end to the pandemic in the near future and that there will come a time soon that people will start accepting and respecting each other’s opinions. That the focus will become less on what divides people and more on what unites them. I hope for health and safety, and also for peace and understanding all around. I understand that you’re in a difficult situation right now, and hope that your knitting and other positives in your life will bring some relief from all the stress.

      • Thank you Marijke for putting things in perspective. My knitting is always enjoyable and my vegetable garden is a positive. Unlike many others, my husband and I have not felt the stress of the pandemic as we still shop as we choose and get together with our neighbors. I feel aggravation of our local and state governments for locking down the businesses that provide jobs for our local residents and economy. Lockdowns are not working in California as data is proving. I pray that people will not remain divided, but only time will tell.

  5. Yes, to the garden, although it is sleeping, with the exception of a lovely hellebore that has shown its blossom, as well as many of its buds… far earlier than past years. Could it be a sign of hope? Yes, and it makes my heart sing just looking at it. Yes, to knitting socks right now, and so many projects all waiting in queue. Where there is yarn and knitting needles, there is hope. Your post is lovely, and the word, “focus”, resonates. I will add it to my all-time favorite word, “HOPE”. Many thanks for your thoughtful posts, Marijke!

    • Thank you for your kind and supportive comment. Ah, yes, hellebores, so lovely at this time of year. Choosing the word ‘focus’ was very personal to me, and I’m pleasantly surprised that it resonates with others, too.

  6. Hallo Marijke,

    I recently got the link to your Blog from Karen and Erik and enjoy it very much. Especially the shopping tips for your local Farmers market and the wool shop. In normal times I would already plan to visit them, but this year I guess I will have to wait at least until summer.
    Just like you I like knitting and gardening.

    Greetings from Westerwald


    • Hello and welcome! Karen told me about you. You’re right, the shops will have to wait a while. But from what I hear they are doing fine online and will survive. It’s lovely to meet you here and, who knows, maybe some day in real life.

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