From the mountain to the air

January 31, 2011 § 6 Comments

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To say my clothing style is a bit hodge-podge may well be the exaggeration of the year.

In other news: I have sore feet. After a good three hours of constant treadling the spinning wheel, I’d expected sore thighs or sore calves or, hell, sore fingers from having a notoriously overplied thread running through them. But no, it’s the tops of my ankles that are kind of sore. What a random place.

Apart from spinning, we also washed yarn, which I guess is a thing you can only do with wool people… Annelie had a bunch of beautifully structured by wonky-smelling skeins of polyester yearn, and we washed a couple of them in the hope that the smell would go. Me agitating the soapy water until my rolled-up sleeves were full of splashes, Annelie rinsing the soapy skeins and hanging them up to dry… it’s moments like this when I feel so connected to history, to long-dead people all over the world, sitting together to wash and card and spin wool, talking and being useful at the same time. Everywhere, all over the world, for hundreds and thousands of years, connected by the red thread of… yarn.

It’s a good thing I don’t have my own spinning wheel (yet), or I’d just sit in front of it today, moodily wishing I could go on but realizing that the fun would last about 10 minutes until I’d crawl back to wherever I started from, tail tucked.

So instead I wound the gorgeous yarn Annelie gave me into a ball, and started on Cookie A.’s Kai-Mei socks. Annelie, if you’re reading this, thank you again. One day soonish I’ll make you a pair of socks in a color you actually like.

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Un amante de lujo

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Now, while I’m pretty much rocking the Sherlook…

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I’m also quite sure he wouldn’t be caught dead with this addition to his wardrobe.

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Now, in my men’s dress shirt and my waistcoat, off to Annelie to spin with freshly-baked digestive cookies in my bag :D

There’s been a run of crazy dreams

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

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I don’t know why I don’t post as many pictures of the church next to my house anymore. I used to be such a whore for it and the pictures are always quite stunning. Especially this morning, when it started getting light, and I saw the beautiful misty crispness of the day.

I don’t know why I’m awake – I’ve been up since 6 for no reason at all. All the more stunning since by all rights I should be hung over like crazy. My new favorite cocktail is Agent Jack: 1.5cl cointreau, 2 cl lemon juice, 5 cl whiskey, 18 cl cola. We call it Captain Jack around here.

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News on the knitting front: zero. I’ve been wrestling with the Spanish armada but haven’t gotten anywhere due to the abysmal charts; I’ve done a couple of rows on the second sleeve for Thermal but haven’t gotten anywhere due to my pronounced disinterest.

But I’ve been reading.

It gives me such joy these days. To sit down with a good book is such a simple, overwhelming pleasure, tactile as well as intellectual. Sometimes, I feel like the internet removes us from our senses too much. It’s all the same smooth, sterile, ultimately uninteresting keys. No touch, no smell, no taste. Not that I’m not grateful for the internet, but it’s like apples and oranges.

I’ve been buying books like a madwoman. Dover Thrift Editions and used books on Amazon make it hard not to. Some are totally in my comfort zone – the Lucifer Box series by Mark Gatiss, several Oscar Wilde books are among them, one of them no other than De Profundis, which is beautiful in its bitterness. With some, I’ve surprised myself, like ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, or Stephen Hawking’s ‘A briefer history of time’, which is turning out to be the most enjoyable and funny read as well as an educational one. I feel like there’s a whole world just opening up to me. Like the last two years were in this tiny bubble, and suddenly I’m bursting free and expanding.

I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed books.

The Hawking, by the way, is a byproduct of my recent obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch. He played Stephen Hawking in the heart-wrenching BBC movie ‘Hawking’, and there was so much joy in this movie. So much excitement at the wonder of the universe. So much life and joy in such overwhelming sadness. And it makes me feel so humble and small: Stephen Hawking knows where the universe comes from. Last week, I didn’t even know where Stephen Hawking is from.

Funny how you get the most fantastic impulses from the weirdest places. But then, I tackled Goethe’s ‘Faust’ (one of the key dramas in German literature) because the drummer of my favorite band at the time did a stripped-down-to-the-basics audio adaption of it. Another unexpected result of the Cumberbatchitis is that I found a fantastic recipe for Indian/ Parsi scrambled eggs.

So here I am. Reading the possibly longest letter in modern history and eating fantastic eggs. And later going over to Annelie’s to spin.

Have I mentioned how much I love my life?

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Perfectly sound analysis

January 25, 2011 § 6 Comments

I was in a bit of a knitting frenzy last night, because the end was nigh… and lo and behold, at 1 am I put away my sewing needle, cut off the last thread, and held in my hands my magnificent, gorgeous, amazing Watson sweater.

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I don’t feel any need to mince my words, since I’m ridiculously proud of the thing and will continue to be so in the future.

I didn’t really use the pattern that’s up on Ravelry – the lovely authors of that one are amazing in their own right and I referred to the pattern when it came to the shoulder short rows and the neck, but ultimately, we came up with our charts at the same time. Mine is more faithful to and more independent from the original at once: my chevrons are reverse stockinette like in the original, but I mirrored my cables so they wouldn’t all go in the same direction. Also, my yarn only bears a passing resemblance to the one used in the original in that they’re both yarns and they’re both undyed (but in different shades and of varying fuzziness).

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All in all, now I have a complete Watson outfit and a complete Sherlock outfit (well, except for the scarf), and what’s more, I totally rock. Because I created it from a picture, and it fits me perfectly, and I’m wearing it right now with a checkered shirt and jeans, while Saskia is getting ready in her room in her aubergine shirt with a black waistcoat and blazer.

I think we’ll raise the surveillance level to three. – Of whom? – Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

Oh, thou who changest not

January 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

I know I haven’t blogged in a while. Mea culpa, mea culpa. But while I’m sure y’all would be much more interested in the Watson Sweater (mostly done, I’m only missing about half a sleeve) or the Spanish Armada (on first row of the print o’ the wave), I’m gonna have to delay talking about those until I have decent pics. And instead come back to the Bootees.

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As you could probably tell from my last post, I mostly made them for fun: because they’re small, and cute, and I’d always wanted to make bootees of some kind.

Pregnancy is such an abstract concept for me; I’ve never been around pregnant women enough to pay close attention to the whole shebang, and it’s just… you know. She’s pregnant. Whatevs. It’s such a bizarre idea that there might be a human growing inside another one, you know.

And this afternoon, Annelie popped over and we spent a very pleasant day knitting and talking and drinking tea, and somehow, something changed. Maybe it was the way she just kind of casually referred to her baby kicking and liking the music (it was Doctor Who, how could she not?). Maybe it was how we were talking about keeping a journal (kind of hard not to, with the half-shelf of journals staring you right in the face from my bed), and how she was keeping a pregnancy journal for her kid and how she’d written about the bootees.

And I realized, holy cow, there’s a tiny person whom I gave these bootees to.

And that tiny person is going to grow, until someday, in twenty years, when she’s graduated high school and is almost as old as I am now, she can hold those wee bootees in her hand, and marvel at how tiny she must have been to fit into these… and I’ll be the one who knit these, her first, bootees.

And no matter how old she’ll ever be, I’ll always be the one who knit her first bootees.*

What a crazy place this world can be.

* I know I’m wildly overestimating my own importance in the life of others here, but wow, in my head this is huge.

And now someone else is getting all your best

January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

I think most people have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to babies, and I think most knitters have a bit of a soft spot for knitting baby clothes. And why not? They’re small, which makes them relatively quick and affords you the chance to try new things, and also they’re adorable.

The only problem I had, until now, is that I didn’t know any babies. Or pregnant women. Which is a shame, really, because there are tons of adorable baby things on Ravelry (like the Baby Yoda Sweater, which has been in my queue forever), and I simply didn’t have anyone to give them to, since all my friends, for some reason, refuse to have babies despite my insistent bribery with the promises of baby things.

So when I went to the Strickcafé last Wednesday, I was overjoyed to meet Annelie, who is pregnant, and even more overjoyed when it turned out that she is a terrifically nice person, that we get along swimmingly, and that finally, finally I’d found someone I could knit baby things for.

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Exploding ovaries all around. Seriously, they’re the most adorable thing I’ve ever knit. I think it may be all the garter stitch, and the tweediness, and the folded-over shaft, and the fact that both of them fit into my hand at the same time. Both my roommates went gaga over them as well.

And who can blame them? All the while I was knitting them, I couldn’t stop myself from mumbling ‘oh my god, aren’t they just the cutest things ever? just look at the wee little bootees! most adorable thing ever!’

For those who want to know, they’re Knitgirl’s Mother’s Stay-On Baby Bootees, in an experimental tweed version of Zitron Trekking Handart, color Nepal, on 2.25 mm needles (15 cm DPNs are just long enough). They have a very interesting construction involving short rows, but it’s pretty much necessary to fudge a bit with the seam, as it tends to be a bit on the pointy side. However, due to the garter stitch, you can sew the seam invisibly by sewing through the purl bumps at the edge; I was surprised at how many of the project pictures had bulky seams at the back.

I think I may have to make one to just have one, and to go gaga over whenever I feel like it.

Whispering sounds of silence

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Warning: this post might not make a lot of sense if you haven’t read or at least watched Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.)

I realize this blog might not be the ideal platform for this – maybe, just maybe, I should start another blog for my reading, since I plan on doing that a lot this year. But for now, you’ll have to choose between reading all of this or simply ignoring it (I’m putting most of it behind a jump just in case). I need to share this.

Because today, I was sitting in a Starbucks and I suddenly got what Dorian Gray was all about.

In my effort to read at least one book a week (which isn’t too much of a problem, I’m realizing, since I read slightly more than a page a minute), I’ve been devouring Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, which is meta on so many levels (and some besides), and it got me thinking about Dorian Gray. Which is just as well, I suppose, since I’ll be needing to think about him quite a bit this year.

The thing about Dorian Gray is that how good it is largely depends on the way you read it. If you read it for the language and aphorisms and witticisms, you’d hardly be disappointed, but I always found the characters rather one-dimensional. Merely a vehicle for all the wit, so to speak – also, the story, while based on a terrific idea, is kind of thin on the details, and seems more like a canvas than the picture. Not much happens in Dorian Gray.

But then, I’m realizing, this is Oscar Wilde we’re talking about. If his characters seem flat, they’re probably so intentionally. Maybe I haven’t been looking deep enough, or in the right places. The whole book is about outward appearance in contrast to the inner workings of humans, so…

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