The past is another land

July 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about it, but my grandmother has cancer. Has had it for over 25 years, and she’s slowly but steadily nearing her end. Dexterity is all but gone, and it’s never hit me as hard as today.

We were sitting in her kitchen together with a sliced-up apricot between us, she in her wheelchair, me next to her, knitting on a sock. Drachenwolle yarn, featuring the same ripe yellow the apricot had inside. And my grandma kept looking at my hands, at the needles, going round and round and round with such longing in her eyes, until I gave her the sock.

Three knit stitches. Three painfully slow, careful knit stitches, was all she could manage before she lost what strength she had in her arms and had to give it back.

This is the woman who showered my sister and me in knits when we were small. My mother brought me back from the hospital in a hat and a dress-cum-sleeping-bag my grandmother had made. When she wasn’t knitting, she was crocheting, or doing the most amazing needlepoint, or painting. She was the one who taught me Hardanger needlepoint when I was maybe six or seven, knits and purls when I was twelve or thirteen, and crochet around the same time. She was the one on whose balcony and in whose living room I spent two summers and a winter knitting garter stitch scarves for myself and my family, and crocheting pot holders for my parents. Who is always the first to ask about what I’m up to in the knitting department.

Three knit stitches is all that is left of that.

Three tiny knit stitches, already indistinguishable from the rest of the lot, that are probably the last stitches she is ever going to knit.

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Severus… please.

July 22, 2009 § 1 Comment

So! New Harry Potter movie!

I have to say, before I get started, that I tend to not really like the even-numbered Potters. Philosopher’s Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix I still adore to this day, and I can even make my peace with the seventh book (minus the epilogue). But Chamber of Secrets? Meh. I daresay I only read the book four or five times, which is ridiculously little if you consider I’ve read the first book somewhere between twenty and thirty times. Goblet of Fire? Better, but got kinda long-winded after the sixth time or so, though I liked the movie a lot.

But now Half-Blood Prince? I loved it. I’ll have to see it again, this time in English, but it was quite good in German too, which is something of an achievement in my opinion. It wasn’t really close to the book, there was a lot of Draco tinkering with the Vanishing Cabinet and stuff like that, but that absolutely justified and fleshed out Draco as a character more so than in the books. Because, let’s face it, the books are so filtered by Harry’s perception that you don’t really get a choice whether you think canon Draco is a git or not. (Fanfiction is something else and I know there’s a lot of people shipping Draci-poo in some way, shape or form, but seriously, even without the Harry goggles on, he’s kind of a jerk. But maybe not as much as Harry think.)

Anyways! Back on topic! There was a lot of awesome tension that comes with a couple of hundred teenagers cooped up together in a castle. I loved it. Cormac McLaggen? Awesome. Him puking on Snape’s shoes when Harry tells him he’s supposedly eating dragon balls? Priceless. Hermione constantly having white stuff all over her face and having Ron point it out. Ron on Romilda Vane’s love potion. Lavender. Oh dear, I loved Lavender. She was just as obnoxious as in the book. Luna again, I love Loony Lovegood, she’s so, well, loony. I like quirky people, and I absolutely envy the hair. All the UST between Harry and Ron, yet again, just when I thought it couldn’t get any more unintentionally hilarious after the last two films.

And the textiles! Not just the costumes, which featured some awesome knits, more on that later, but also… everything! The texture of McGonnagal’s robes! The sweeping robes of both Dumbledore and Snape! The upholstery-slash-pyjamas of Slughorn! The Gryffindor common room has got to be the coziest set ever built, right along with the Burrow, and, and… they had the friggin’ Unicorn in Captivity tapestry in front of the Room of Requirement!! I squeed embarrassingly loudly at that. The Unicorn tapestry! Very exciting.

I would also like to announce I am totally in love with Ron’s worsted weight striped cardigan. It’s striped in beige, brown, marroon, orange and ochre, I think that’s it, and it’s mostly reverse stockinette, except there’s a stockinette strip down each arm. Cap sleeves, I’m thinking. Looked very cozy, and went very well with the ginger hair.

Other cool knits feature the Quiddich raglans in 2×2 rib, with a gold stripe across the chest and the arms on the chest level, and Hermione’s grey hat. Fingering yarn, I think, with a sort of wavey lace pattern that didn’t go at all with her Norwegian-patterned colorwork scarf. (Maybe she made those herself? I remember the Yarn Harlot talking about her daughter complaining that she always looked so ‘knitterly’ because her accessories didn’t match. We know from the books Hermione does knit, however, she must have progressed quite a bit from the ‘wooly bladders’ in fourth year. Which is entirely possible, considering we’re dealing with Hermione.)

Oh, and the best thing? They totally kept Dumbledore’s love for knitting patterns in!!! I squeed. I totally squeed. That was even more exciting than the Unicorn tapestry.

*

In other news, the Ninth Doctor, also known as Christopher Eccleston, is in the GI Joe movie. Yet another squeeworthy moment as I realized in the previews where I knew that nose and those ears from. I might even watch it. After all… it’s the Doctor!

*

In even more unrelated news, the socks, just like Muir, are coming along slowly but steadily.

Final breakthrough

July 16, 2009 § 1 Comment

I am done. Finally, blissfully done with my exams. No more reading all day. Even though I have to admit, it was nice to get to reading again, it was just… so MUCH! Plus it’s less fun when you have to do it, so.

So, between Wednesday morning and now, I felt like I got more knitting done than in the past three weeks or so. I mean, I did spin the dog hair during my study phase, and I did knit about one and a half socks. But the last two days… I wound a ball of yarn, made most of a sock (I did start Tuesday just before my exam, but that was only the 10 rows of ribbing or so), washed and wound the dog yarn, AND got around to ripping back my Muir to the point where I made that pesky mistake (=16 rows or so. ugh.), picked it back up, and continued. I got about a third of a chart repeat done today… it was glorious. Just so relaxing and awesome.

I love reading. But I did miss knitting. I’m glad I had 4 1/2 hours of train ride today, and I’m glad I split the time pretty evenly between the two.

No more reading about the Tudors or English Literature or English History though. Sex research (‘Bonk’ by Mary Roach) it is, and Torchwood fanfic. Or combining two of my favorite things and listening to Torchwood audiobooks while knitting. I have time now. Time, time, and more time. Oh, I am beyond excited.

PS: I totally rocked that oral English Lit/History exam. 1.3 – best exam of the morning!

One down, two to go

July 1, 2009 § 3 Comments

Exams!

Portuguese: Dooooone! First thing I did was skip the class today, since I hate reurgitating exams. I do have to write a short paper until the 20th, but most of that’s done, too.

Translation: read one more article, type up Ulla’s stuff, study until my ears are bleeding. A lot of it is really obvious stuff – ‘Subjective translation problems depend on the skill and information of the translator’ ORLY? – but it’s so obvious you wouldn’t even think of writing it in an exam. Also, I need to buy a bilingual dictionary.

Anglistics: another 394 pages to read till the 14th, most of that in textbooks but 76 in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’. (which has amazingly gay subtext, by the way. I love it.) That plus the 200 pages of textbook I’ve read until now to summarize and learn. That shouldn’t be too hard though, I love history, and English history is thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe I should reread ‘Brave New World’, just in case. And ‘Dr Faustus’, definitely. Also, I have to prepare Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19 (Devouring time, blunt thou the lion’s paws) and a Scottish poem, but I’m pretty settled with the rest of my 10 Essential Texts of English Literature.

The Scottish poem! It’s me indulging myself, really. I don’t really get around to knitting much these days – I think in the past week, I’ve done, what, two half-socks? I.e. the second half of the second Mad Cow sock and the first half of a plain stockinette sock. And though I’ve started spinning up Wave’s hair, I don’t really have time for that either. So to satisfy my fibery needs… I selected ‘The Weaving of the Tartan’ by Alice Macdonnel.

The Weaving of the Tartan
I saw an old Dame weaving,
Weaving, weaving
I saw an old Dame weaving,
A web of tartan fine.
“Sing high,” she said, “sing low,” she said,
“Wild torrent to the sea,
That saw my exiled bairnies torn,
In sorrow far frae me.

And warp well the long threads,
The bright threads, the strong threads;
Woof well the cross threads,
To make the colours shine.”
She wove in red for every deed,
Of valour done for Scotia’s need:
She wove in green, the laurel’s sheen,
In memory of her glorious dead.

She spake of Alma’s steep incline,
The desert march, the “thin red line,”
Of how it fired the blood and stirred the heart,
Where’er a bairn of hers took part.
“‘Tis for the gallant lads,” she said,
“Who wear the kilt and tartan plaid:
‘Tis for the winsome lasses too,
Just like my dainty bells of blue.

So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads;
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to mine.”
I saw an old Dame sighing,
Sighing, sighing;
I saw an old Dame sighing,
Beside a lonely glen.

“Sing high,” she said, “sing low,” she said,
Wild tempests to the sea,
The wailing of the pibroch’s note,
That bade farewell to me.
And wae fa’ the red deer,
The swift deer, the strong deer,
Wae fa’ the cursed deer,
That take the place o’ men.”

Where’er a noble deed is wrought,
Where’er the brightest realms of thought,
The artists’ skill, the martial thrill,
Be sure to Scotia’s land is wed.
She casts the glamour of her name,
O’er Britain’s throne and statesman’s fame;
From distant lands ‘neath foreign names,
Some brilliant son his birthright claims.

For ah! – she has reared them amid tempests,
And cradled them in snow,
To give the Scottish arms their strength,
Their hearts a kindly glow.
So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads.
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to thine.

**

Speaking of Scotland: we are so totally going on a road trip through England, Wales and Scotland this summer! More about that at some later point, when we’ve planned more. Though the route was pretty much the first thing we mapped out. Wheeee!

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