Well, hello my long-neglected blog. Perhaps it’s time we got reacquainted.
Tomorrow marks two weeks since my quiet little world went a bit bonkers. Two weeks ago tomorrow, I woke up to my phone blowing up, to hundreds of new Instagram followers appearing by the minute, out of the blue. Through my 6am -bleary eyes, it was baffling. And the timing was just impossible. Knee-deep in half-packed boxes, as I prepared to move with my husband and five sons 300 miles south to Lowestoft, from the sleepy ex-mining village that had been my home for 9 years, I fielded a call from a gentleman reporter at The Times.
“Tom” I nearly said, “stop doing a silly voice,” so convinced was I that it must be my brother winding me up.
“Did you know?” Mr Malvern asked me. “How has it affected you?”
Erm, I’ve had moments to process this! Plus, not to put too fine a point on it, my head was a little thick with the late night last hurrah I had just spent with the ladies I call friends, before I was due to leave them all behind.
I had by this stage, of course, twigged though. That Tom Daley, that diving legend, had been photographed, a picture globally distributed the night before, knitting my pattern at the Olympics.
And he had tagged me.
The debate was hot: what was he knitting? Some confidently professed it a hat.
But no. It was my little Juno’s jumper.
I had had a couple of brief exchanges with Mr Daley, who had told me he had used my pattern to knit a few dog jumpers for friends already, and thanking me for “such a great pattern”. As if that wasn’t amazing enough!
It’s always been my most popular pattern. And I don’t think it’s hard to see why. The photograph of my feisty little princess looking like butter wouldn’t melt is kind of irresistible, especially in such a rich and beautiful coloured jumper. (Those in the know are fully aware she’s waiting for the treat just off camera…) And it’s a speedy knit, without being complicated.
But I certainly didn’t expect it to become news.
Sure enough, the next morning an article appeared in The Times online. “Alice Neal, 50” Come on, Mr Malvern! I’ve only just turned 50. Give me a chance to process that, too! But sure, perhaps that’s not the bit to be focusing on. And besides, it gave my friends something to rib me about.
That same day, I had an email from the Sun, a message from someone at the Daily Mail (the less said about that particular experience the better. Let’s just say: lesson learned) and an email from the Mirror. I’ve never had a faster, more precipitous lesson in the crazy world of ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ journalism. And all the while, those boxes weren’t packing themselves.
I managed to squeeze a pattern for an Olympic-themed scarf between packing up the sitting room and the last of the kitchen (“I literally have nothing to sit on”) and it appeared in the Mirror that Sunday.
I am more grateful than you can know for the outpouring of enthusiasm for my designs, the pattern sales, and the little messages of encouragement from fellow knitters around the world.
Now that the dust is settling the other side of the move, now that I’m only ankle-deep in boxes, and they’re being tipped out rather than filled up, now that I can walk regularly along the seafront, breathing it all in as deeply as my lungs allow, I am looking forward to an autumn of new patterns, old favourites, and getting to know a little bit more about all the people who have come to share in my good fortune.
With love, gratitude, and bundles of yarn,