Knitting mojo

While I am away in York, through the miracle of technology, and scheduling software, I thought I would keep you company by telling you about my knitting. Let the good times roll.

It has been a while since I did much knitting, as my head has been in a different plane of existence form my hands, and I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything as tricksy as counting or remembering whether to knit or purl a stitch. I am pleased that the msits seem to be clearing at last, and I have now achieved two important goals.

The first was to finish my Killing jumper. For those unfamiliar with the garment in question (I believe there may be some people left in this unfortunate position), I am referring to a particular jumper which was the star of a Danish crime drama a few years ago. Naturally I set out to create my own copy, being a fan and all. It’s a pretty basic pattern but it was first time I knitted anything entirely in the round (no seams, just tubes) and I had a bit of a job sorting out how to keep roughly to the pattern while increasing and decreasing. I hope I got away with it – at least I now feel happy about a) making another next year in reversed colours, and b) wearing the article in public.

Look out if you are a Danish criminal - EBL is now fully equipped to bring you to justice

Look out if you are a Danish criminal – EBL is now fully equipped to bring you to justice

The second important thing was finally learning to crochet. This means I can now crochet about as well as the average crochet-enabled 5 year old, which is more than I have ever managed before. I went on a course in November, but understood even less than I thought I knew. My poor saintly aunt had tried to teach me as a child but it never worked. Somehow my brain didn’t bend that way. It’s like trying to write with the wrong hand; I’m just not ambidextrous.

But then something switched on in the grey matter and suddenly it made sense and I managed a circular object. It was untidy and uneven and ungood, but it was a real thing and I was very happy to have got that far.

crochet by EBL

A trumpet against the nay-sayers! This old EBL got there in the end

So this EBL learned a new trick against all the odds and almost 50 years of evidence to the contrary. Who says miracles can’t happen?

Have you ever had a sudden epiphany like that? Do tell!

Namaste.

Scraping off the rust

rusty chains

That’s how it feels anyway, although it would make me some kind of RoboBagLady, rather than a mere Electronic one. I’m not sure I’d be keen on it, honestly, because I’d probably have to adhere to Asimov’s Laws and I’m not sure I’m that kind of person.

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A robot must protect its own existence, except where such protection would conflict with the First or Second Law.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

Still, rejoice, oh gentle reader! I have found my way back to the keyboard and hope to enter into constructive dialogue through the medium of the Blogverse. Let’s go!

Things got a little overwhelming back in the summer, both for good and less good reasons, but now that is over. The thing is I finally had to take a break from normal routine and allow myself a rest. I eventually recognised that I had been struggling to balance work, family and community, and that if I was someone else, I would be telling them to stop. So for once I listened to my wiser self and did indeed stop.

Guess what? It worked and I feel much better so here I am, bothering your eyeballs as you scan my words. In due course I will be scanning and chatting away just like the old days.

Ah, the old days! Things were better then. We were cleverererer, the sun was brighter and policemen were kindly and compassionate adults rather than arsy adolescents with acne and snotty noses. There were fewer television channels but we made our own entertainment and wrote about it in letters to the local paper – the equivalent of the blogging world I suppose.

Right then, I’ll remove the rose-tinted optical devices and get back to reality, but allow me the odd excursion to a fantasy land.

On a slightly related note, I heard that there is a film in the making of the Magic Faraway Tree, by far my favouritest book of all childhood, and I am half desperate with anticipation and half terrified in case of disappointment. It was the same with Lord of the Rings, my favouritest book of post-childhood, but Peter Jackson was in charge of that and talked to the fans so it was all OK. In the case of TMFT, as it will inevitably become known, I doubt the same rigour will apply. Oh woe to the world!

So here is your EBL-homework until we meet again:

  1. How do you feel about your favourite book being “interpreted” by film? Be honest.
  2. Would it/did it work? Be polite.
  3. And really, who is going to play the part of Moon Face? Be creative.

Namaste

Nordic knitting and inky fingers

Today I had a day off. I know, I know, I had all last week as well but that’s just the way of it. Today I used it for pottering about with creative projects. I haven’t provided a knitting update for a while either, and I know at least some of you are keen needlefolk.

Without further ado, this is the back of the jumper I am working on. The front is about a third done, and has grown much more quickly now I can see what I am doing after the laser treatment last week. Hurrah again for lasers!

nordic jumper

However, this morning I have been trying to puzzle out the script used for Old English. Newer readers may not have cottoned on to the fact that I am trying to learn Old English, that is the language of Alfred the Great and so on. It sounds beautiful and actually I think it looks rather beautiful too. You can see proper pictures on the British Library website, but this is an example from there of the poem “Beowulf”.

Beowulf manuscript

from the British Library website

Some years ago I did a calligraphy workshop and learned modern uncial. It’s the kind of script that gets used to denote Celtic, whatever that is. Certainly Celtic wasn’t a word used by the people often referred to as Celts. But that’s a rant for another day and today I am feeling too mellow to indulge. I had been practising the uncial (unciallating?) and playing with different inks and paper to see what worked best. The first ink I tried simply soaked into the paper so I got a really splotchy effect.

Blotchy Modern Uncial

Blotchy Modern Uncial

The lines are from the Battle of Maldon, a poem created to remember an actual battle which was probably the equivalent of the Spartan 300. Basically the local prince faced up to an invading Viking force with far fewer men behind him than he needed, then decided to let the foreigners have the advantage because that was more honourable and got slaughtered for his trouble. I may be being unfair to him, but if you are interested you can look it all up and decide for yourself. Meanwhile these lines were spoken as a rallying call by the prince’s aged retainer to the men after the prince was killed. They are about dying honourably in the face of overwhelming odds (which is of course what happened) and they are the lines that our teacher read to us when I was a mere sprig of a girl and they made me decide I wanted to learn Old English. Roughly translated they mean:

“Our courage shall be the greater, our hearts the stronger, our minds shall be the firmer, as our strength grows less.”

The problem I was having was that the uncial reference sheet I was given did not include the Old English characters for æ (a as in ash), þ (th as in thorn) or ð (th as in eth). Naturally I turned to the British Library to see how your actual Old English People wrote them and realised belatedly that the script was quite different. So then I spent the morning puzzling it out and by lunchtime I managed to produce the lines in something vaguely resembling the original script (with apologies to people who do know much more about this than me – it’s all a learning opportunity!).

hige_sceal

reinvented Old English script courtesy of EBL

And that’s what I did this morning.

How is your day going? If you have returned to work, as most of us must, I hope it was not too traumatic.

Namaste.

Five Years

I was thinking about updating the blog, just to let you all know I am still alive, when this popped into my notifications:

5 years WPWell, knock me down with a feather! I have been lurking on WordPress for 5 years! I only started being more active about a year ago, when I decided to try out NaNoWriMo, and wrote up progress each day.

You see, I was thinking yesterday that now my major projects are nearing closure, I can get back to working on the work-life balance project. It’s the Big One for me, even more than OJEU tenders and new product developments.

So thank you to all who have flown with me (to coin WordPress’s phrase) and please now settle down as we continue to cruise, with possible turbulence at unpredicted intervals.

Here’s what I was doing rather than blogging or working.

DSC_0013Firstly I was making the Christmas cake. I make it in October and top it up with brandy regularly until Christmas so that by the time we cut it and eat it, it’s more a thick drink than a cake. In fact, designated drivers have to take their slice home in party bag. People like it. They tell me it’s very moist, usually giggling as they do so. I don’t allow seconds for at least an hour.

Shawl in close-upThe other thing I was doing was knitting furiously. By which of course I mean “as fast and hard as I could”. I wasn’t cross at all, quite the contrary. I wanted to finish a couple of projects to tidy up my knitting pile. As any knitters out there know, they do build up a bit. So this weekend I finished a present for a friend, and moved onto the end game for the Danish wool scarf. I will post a picture when that is completed too because the wool is Gorgeous with a capital G.

That only leaves me with the Norwegian Rose sweater which is the practice sweater prior to knitting The Killing pattern. That has been two years waiting so it will now be prioritised rather than all the other knitting for friends and relations. Finally.

Now I’m off to help the Local Offspring with packing stuff into boxes to move into the new flat.  I hope you are happy and busy and bright (or calm and content and quiet if that is your preference). What I mean is – love to you all!

Namaste.

 

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I believe in magic

I’m sorry, my dears, but EBL feels whiny today so this will be a post of brevity in order to spare you my complaining. It’s enough that my family suffer without inflicting it upon other innocents too.

InsteadShawl I will show you the knitting I completed over Easter, because I think they were good and cheerful things and they make me feel better.

Firstly I finished a shawl I was trying out in super chunky wool. I scaled it up from an Aran pattern and it worked pretty well. The most fun, as so often in life, was adding the tassels.

 

TheFair isle jumper second was a fair isle jumper, which was an exercise in the style of knitting, as I am still building up a head of steam to produce the Sarah Lund jumper later this year. It turned out pretty OK, and I am now working on a chunky Norwegian style jumper, in part to get my tension right. I like this style of knitting but it takes more concentration.

 

To relax I am working on a cotton scarf, using a pattern from Stolen Hearts, Vintage Souls. It’s pretty, but I find I am not fond of knitting in cotton. It’s basically coloured string.

However, I proved today that such knitting is truly magical. This is going to refer obliquely to my complaininess, but be not afraid. I want to tell you about it because it made me laugh too.

Yesterday I had to take mother for a spirometry check-up. It’s traumatic for all concerned because she can’t follow the instructions due to her dementia, and she gets very anxious being somewhere strange and she can’t remember why she is there so gets more anxious the longer we stay. Anyway, on top of all that we had to wait for about 40 minutes because they were running late in clinic. It was the dictionary definition of stressful.

Today, as it happens, I had to go back for a blood test myself. Shoulder pain, boring. But to pre-empt the inevitable delays and waiting I took my knitting.

“We won’t have to wait if I take it,” I told Sigoth, “they don’t like it if you get settled with some knitting to keep you busy.”

And so we arrived a little early, because traffic was quiet, and sat down. Out popped the nurse straight away and within a few minutes we were heading back home with me laughing like a drain most of the way.

If the NHS introduced targets for completing rows, I reckon it would transform patient care within a week.

Namaste.

Love in stitches

Rarasaur’s latest Prompt for the Promptless is:

Meraki [may-rah-kee]  This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

When we first moved into our current house, just over 10 years ago, we inherited an Aga with it. The poor old thing needed some love itself, but was still giving it out. Agas cook love into food, did you know? The first meal we cooked on the Aga for the Offspringses was sausages and mash. That is a meal of love right there. Interestingly, one of the Offspring opined that they liked the sausages because they “taste just like Grandma’s.” Grandma, you will have guessed, also has an Aga so whatever she cooks tastes better by default.

So we said it was because they were made with love.

TDalek_jumperhose of you who have read a few other posts from me will know I occasionally take up the needles. Knitting is a way of weaving love into the world .

The picture jumpers I made for the Offspringses when they were small, and even ones when larger, were warmer than shop jumpers because they were made with love.

It’s a well-known fact that home-made jumpers, even (or especially) of the Mrs Weasley variety, are snugglier.

weasley_jumpers

The Offspringses used to ask how we could give them all our love in their Christmas cards, when we gave all our love to each of them. They were logical and mathematically sound Offspringses. I fear. We did our best, but rationality kept breaking through. I blame the schools.

“Because love is infinite,” we told them, “and the more you give the more you have to give, to everyone.”

And so it was and is. No matter how long the arms.

Namaste.

Knitting Zen

A friend phoned me the other day and we talked about how we were both coping with our various issues and troubles and woes. Sometimes it’s good to talk about them instead of just being brave. Sometimes you need to look those little scamps right in the eye and call them out for being what they are.

As we talked she told me about how she was starting to do more creative activities as a way of coping with the stresses and strains of living. Given that I have been adopting this strategy myself over the past few months, it was a conversation close to my heart.

Sometimes it seems those stresses and strains just need to be sung to sleep with a lullaby, or painted into a corner, or sewn into a pocket. You can’t let them run around creating havoc. You need to create a space to hold them, through music or art or cooking or whatever you feel is right.

It emerged she had taken her needles back up and was knitting and purling her way to equilibrium.

“It’s like meditation,” I said.

“Exactly!” she replied.

My dears, that is indeed what it is like, as I have said before, and probably will again. It’s my Great Discovery. You count and focus and keep present in the moment, otherwise your knit becomes purl and your increase a decreases and your cable in back a cable in front, and before you know it your lovely new cushion cover has turned into a beret.

As I pondered our conversation later, in the small hours of the night, I became a little fanciful. That’s what the small hours are for, I think, a chance to let our imagination gambol for a while before the everyday world requires a halt in chaos, and demands sensible behaviour.

It seemed to me that we are the stitches of a greater whole, fitting into the warp and weft of the Goddess’ Great Project, not a tapestry but maybe a sweater for Christmas. Perhaps I am a little stitch or even an absence of stitch, an artfully placed hole in the lacy bit, so to speak. Some of us may be a little knot in the yarn; we try to keep the knots at the back of the work, but sometimes they insist on poking through and creating a stubbly disruption in the pattern, for better or worse. If Shakespeare had known more about the mechanics of knitting I’m certain there would be a good quote from him for just such an occasion. Sadly you are left with me.

I’m glad my friend is finding solace before the needles. She is far more creative than I am, and has already made socks. I countered with a cabled jacket, and raised her a knitted Dalek, and then we moved on to designs for knitted covers: gadgets, teapots and sundry small storage containers. She will no doubt create amazing patterns while I continue my love affair with fair isle and further my plans for a Sarah Lund jumper before the next millennium. (Of which there may be more in due course, should you care.)

I think I have discovered that great as these hobbies are, and calming as they may be for the fractious brain, having someone who shares them to talk to is even greater.

Think then on this; it can be your homework for the day. Answers below in comments please.

If I drop a stitch when no one is there, does my cry make a noise as it falls?

Namaste.