From the age of romance (apparently!), a very beautiful series of 19th century letters at
I would loved to have copied one or the other to show you but it seems the British Museum is strict about use of their images, but please do have a look!
Some other art I’m feeling enthusiastic about just now is that of Mela Koehler, who was part of the Wiener Werkstätte between 1903-1932 and whose style I think is gorgeous, if typical for the age… Is it a coincidence that the little dog there is a spaniel?! Never seen a white one, tho’!
Time for another collector’s round – today it’s appropriate that we look at hearts! All of the ones I’m showing you are here all the year round as I do think the heart has a happy symbolism, so I want to cultivate that :) Hearts of stone Hearts of glass Hearts of fire Heart of buttons Hearts of metal Hearts of clay …just lots of love, really…
Now you may think tax and treasure could go together, but that’s not what I’m talking about!
It’s February, it’s time to fill in tax forms where we live in Switzerland (as with so many things, this can vary from canton to canton…). We aren’t taxed at source, here, and as we are self-employed, our income varies from year to year, our children grow older and their situation alters along with so many other factors. Just saying, getting the taxes sorted each year takes up a certain amount of time, requires coordinaton to pull all the necessary documents together and is generally not something we look forward to, no matter how well prepared we are. These days, we are helped somewhat by the fact that the council delivers a CD along with the forms and your computer can build on the data from the previous year – yay for those with terrible handwriting LOL.
Anyway, while my husband frowns over the screen and calls for various documents either spread around the entire room or still in files downstairs, I sit around until I need to scramble for this or that, make some copies, clear up a point or provide endless post-it notes, and instead of twiddling my thumbs, it’s nice to have something to pick up and put down easily without having to do much thinking – hence it becomes the time of year for blanket knitting (I have decided). A few years ago, I ordered some beautiful yellow-green-brown heathered wool directly from Sheteland, which felt like an enormous luxury and as if I was tapping into a great heritage. I’d planned to make a quite rustic cardigan but very soon realised it was so rustic, I probably wouldn’t wear it. What to do with 12 balls of fairly heavy pure Shetland wool?! I came up with another blanket pattern (the Hourglass Throw), beautiful but a bit too daunting in size to keep me going and probably not enough wool, and so initially decided to revert to a blanket pattern I’ve made several times in cottons and which whips up in no time, Brooklyn Tweed’s “Tweed Baby Blanket”, which begins with a very innocuous diagonally worked square (sorry if you’re geometrically challenged, there!). I was then basically too lazy to actually get the pattern out and just started off with my 3 stitches, increasing one at the beginning of every row, using a couple of the rewound balls and then from a randomly chosen mid-point when a ball ran out, decreasing at the beginning of each row – which leads to a pretty even square. While absorbed in this mindless knitting with no other distractions going on and in an atmosphere of great concentration as the big man hunched over his laptop, I started getting creative… The plan is now to switch to crochet once the square is finished, something fairly plain and simple and dense until the wool runs out. After that, my mind’s eye is envisioning some decorative wool embroidery around the middle square, perhaps with hearts in the corner and something that meanders between them… I’m quite pleased with the idea, but we’ve heard that before!! Well, we will see. The colour is really difficult to photograph, but as I have some golds and browns in my living room, it could look very nice indeed in here! And now for the treasure… At Restalrig, Edinburgh, there used to be a woollen mill, or factory which went under the name Munrospun. If you google this, it becomes clear that they were marketing many patterns and yarns throughout the 20th century and there are quite a lot of old patterns available.
My mother-in-law suddenly produced three sealed packs of knitting wool by Munrospun recently, dating from the mid-1970s, which means, my friends, that they are 40 years old!! Apparently, her mother travelled to the Lake District with a friend at around this time, and brought these packs back – two of them are for a child’s jumper or cardigan, one is for a ladies knitted dress, presumably intended for my MIL and her two sons, the younger of whom was born in 1974, so I think they must date from 1975/76, though it seems the factory stopped producing in 1973 (though this is difficult to verify online). Each pack contains a finished fair-isle yoke – the interesting part! – and enough yarn to finish each garment, fine 4-ply Shetland yarn in a pleasant mid-blue, neither quite teal nor yet Prussian blue. The children’s fair-isle yokes are mainly red, yellow and blue, while the adult-sized dress features some pink. The idea is that you pick up the stitches on either side of the yoke to make the appropriate sized garment and neck ribbing, presumably using steeks (oh oh…) if you intend to make a cardigan! Whatever the reason was, whether my MIL wasn’t taken with the colour or whether she was daunted by the hours of boring stocking stitch which knitting these garments would entail, I don’t know, but they have languished for nearly 40 years, apparently without being discovered by moths or taking on any funny smells – for which I thank her!! Theoretically, I could make these all up for my daughter and her two children (the children’s jumper is unisex), but realistically, I think it may well just be too much to contemplate – years and years of plain stocking stitch… Perfect condition!
Still, what a treasure!
And now for the P.S…. you probably saw it coming, but this was just too clumsy a combination and offended my aesthetic eye, so it has all been frogged, tinked, unravelled or whatever other imaginative words there are for undone! At present, I think it will just be enough for a pretty little girl’s cardigan, Alana Dakos’ Wee Wildflower (Nevernotknitting) as it really is beautiful yarn But first to finish some other WIPs… now I’m one down LOL
Today’s update for the Follow Your Arrow shawl does not bring happy tidings!
Clue 3 is finished – a simple few lace rows much like the 2nd clue I did - A couple of clues ago, I had to put in two markers, and in the course of the lace pattern, these had had to be moved along a couple of stitches. As long as the pattern worked out and into the count of stitches, I didn’t specifically count my stitches, and all was going swimmingly. At the end of clue 3, I am supposed to have 257 stitches and the helpful pattern tells me I ought to have those set out between the markers as 86/84/87.
I don’t. In the middle I seem to be 20-30 stitches short…! No idea how it happened, everything has worked out perfectly so far and I wasn’t ever aware of being off – see, it can happen anytime and to anyone. Sigh.
Since I have no idea (not a clue!) where I went wrong, and my patterns have all matched up, I am going to leave it and see how clues 4 and 5 go.
It rather answers the question I was musing over as to the amount of yarn I have left – I specially purchased 2 skeins, as required, but have barely used half of one, yet. No wonder if I have so few stitches.
Having said all that, I’m not terribly enamoured of the shawl so far. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as nice a pattern as any of the ones I have done before and I have a sneaking suspicion I will be frogging the lot once I’ve finished… after being a little disappointed with the yarn colour, I think I got off to a bad start. It’s lovely yarn and will make something very pretty and pinky-purply-grey.
But probably not this shawl! Well, unless a miracle happens…
You remember that, right? How well do you know me?! Ahem. I’m afraid I AM serially inclined – not only with books – and couldn’t stop till I’d used all those different coloured cottons up… Which brings me to rainbows, of course. I have a modern lamp with cut glass pendants and when the sun shines into my living room, all sorts of things happen. Look! That happens quite a lot on the far wall, but the following is unusual, as it’s reflected back onto a wall without light! I have no idea how the stripes happen, though.So, no snow so far… but still some sparkliness in the house!
I was taught to knit by my Auntie Mary when I was about four years old. Presumably she sat and showed me what to do, helped me struggle through the first few stitches and rows – and then left me to it. She wasn’t someone I saw very often, and I can’t remember either having the necessary tools (needles/wool) or skills to continue on much further on my own. However, when I was seven, our teacher decided it would be a good thing for us all to learn to knit (this was Mrs. Woodhouse, who had us draw colourful borders on every piece of paper we used for schoolwork, which we loved doing, though now I think she wanted to get our little paws relaxed for writing – and the knitting was probably a similar exercise in coordination, manipulation and motor skills!). Steel pins were distributed and we had the choice of murky brown or sickly green cotton yarn to make a dischloth. These cloths had a garter stitch border and stocking stitch centre, enabling us to learn the basic skills of casting on, knit, purl and casting off… and although I can’t remember now how long the project was intended to take, I’m sure we all sat there with cramped fingers and tongues clamped in the corners of our mouths, with the occasional wail of “Mi-i-i-sss, I’ve dropped a stitch…”! I do remember that I didn’t finish before the end of the school year and was leaving to go to Switzerland, and the work in progress came with me, including the school property pins. The dishcloth is no more and the steel pins are somewhere in nirvana, too, although I do think I finished it – eventually. It certainly was never used as a dishcloth – we had J-cloths in our house!
Fortunately, my cousins had passed on a little book from the 1950s that had basic instructions, so that whenever I forgot how to do something, I could consult the book (story of my life!), as my mother doesn’t knit. Not so long ago I came across a more recent 1960s version of the same book called “Knitting” by Isabel Horner, from a Teach Yourself series – the old book having also disappeared over time, though I’m sure mine had a different cover and title. I recognised the book by the language and the illustrations, in particular a pattern for a pixie-hood, “I met my ten year old friend Jean wearing this attractive hood the other day, and great was my surprise when she told me that she had made it herself under her Mother’s direction.” Oh the tone, the fact that a 10 yr old would make something she could actually wear and Mother with a stern “M”!! This had definitely stayed with me – also the mind-boggling idea of knitting vests “for my baby sister”…
So it was with a big smile to myself that I came across a dishcloth pattern yesterday and had some soft cotton lying around – a couple of hours work produced this I still don’t know if I would use it as a dishcloth or facecloth but I like the idea and I have plenty of cotton lying around needing to be used…
(A while ago I also came across a great alternative to cottonwool pads: http://moralfibres.co.uk/diy-reusable-cotton-wool-pads/ which I think is a brilliant idea!)
(The pattern is called City Blocks Dishcloth by Deb Buckingham of The Artful Yarn and was part of a fantastic 2014 knitting calendar I received as a gift – thanks El! The yarn is what is known as “school yarn” in Switzerland, a no-name 12ply soft cotton running to 84m/50g – I used just under 80m for this cloth.)
The Follow Your Arrow knitalong (KAL) is going along swimmingly with, in my case, another round of simple lace columns before I head on to Clue 3 this week, which has already arrived… These things look more than a little scruffy, scrunched up and wonky at this stage, but believe me, it will be a different matter when it’s all finished and blocked out! So far the patterns are not what I would have put together – garter stitch lace? – but I am open to seeing the finished result and deciding then how much I like it – certainly the wool is lovely and soft and lofty and cuddly, so that’s promising.
2014 has got off to a rambuctious start, with two medical operations dominating, and lots of knitting as a result – if only it were actually winter, that would be nice. I think North America has greedily nicked our winter in addition to their own and should send it back, pronto! The grey we’re having is sometimes mild, sometimes cold, and this morning there were about 6 snowflakes for 5 minutes and that, once again, was it. But winter it certainly is not!
The consequences of OP1 can be shown as follows: Another Ishbel shawl (Ysolda Teague) in Malabrigo Sock in “Solis” – colours like the aurora borealis and always a pleasure to knit with this yarn! Only conundrum – apparently you need 555m to knit the larger size; I had 420m and knitted the larger size anyway, then had about 40g left over??This is Blank Canvas, another Ysolda Teague pattern, in Drops Merino, which though plain, is a supersoft and smooth merino that has knitted up beautifully and is lovely to wear!
Which leads me to the third knit and OP2, an anatomical heart that was on Knitty a number of years ago, by Kristin Ledgett - If you could keep this 23 yr old young man, who is having a mitral valve repaired next week, in your thoughts, that would be lovely – thankyou!
That was actually really interesting and fun, if fiddly, to knit – I think it takes the prize even in front of the knitted dalek…
(knitted in a mixture of a leftover MadelineTosh sock yarn and a Regia silk-wool sock yarn)
I had a lovely surprise Christmas present in the form of a pattern for a mystery KAL – a knit-along for the non-knitters here! Ysolda is definitely in favour, as this is yet another of her clever ideas. Called “Follow Your Arrow”, a new clue is published each week, so you don’t know until you’re finished what it will look like. It’s a shawl, I know that much, but as there are two options each week, everybody’s shawl will look different anyway, in addition to the shawls all being different colours and weights of wool! So far, so good, this was after Clue 1: It’s more Malabrigo Sock in a colour called “Lotus” – be warned, it’s nothing like the photo on the shop site, as I was expecting pink/blush/cream and got purple/rose/grey…!
A bit late for Christmas, though it did rush to catch up as valiantly as it could, we are now rewarded for some TLC of an “old” amaryllis bulb that has produced a 2ft stem with four flowers on it and is very beautiful! And last, but not least, here is something in town that I simply didn’t register (possibly thought it was a squashed can of coke, out of the corner of my eye!) until I actually tripped over it… It’s art, apparently, and quite amusing, I think! Happy January…
To get the New Year off to a good start, today it’s guest blog time again from my very clever and often funny husband!! It would be ideal if you are multi-lingual
(Another DH-contribution the world has not been waiting for…
Having married into a family of linguists, teachers and translators, accumulating basically all Western European languages except Portuguese in our clan, it is not really surprising that language and playing with words are important parts of our lives. We love making puns and mixing expressions from various backgrounds to the point where family conversations at Christmas dinners would fly back and forth by simply giving each other the cue for the next punch line. When we pointed out to our then 10 year-old daughter that she might also have daddy’s gene for puns, she replied quite naturally that “of course; I am a papagena”.
(I would happily credit this picture but the site is in Russian – which I don’t have! Should the original photographer like to get in touch in a language I understand, I will be happy to add to this caption!! Beautiful Papagena, though…)
Though we all do it, our brains seem to work rather diversely from one another: My DW literally “sees” a word i.e. she always has the (correct) spelling of a word in front of her mind’s eye. Where I struggle to control the various spellings and meanings of a mostly harmless word like “program” (or “Programm” in German, “programme in French” and “programme” in British English, as long as one does not refer to executable computer code, because for this even the Brits use “program”), it is always crystal-clear to her, which is which. As my brain, on the other hand, seems to be organised according to phonetics, I can stumble over little trip wires in basically every sentence. Why, for example, does my brain in the last sentence “seem” to be organised where it could also “seam” to be organised…. or maybe not.
I will happily play with words that more or less sound similar and throw them into meaningless but (sometimes) funny constructions like “Jews choose chews over juice” or “Hugh uses your U, ewe!”. As if this was not bad enough, I might also invade on other languages. “Le dinde d’Inde” does not really bear any meaning apart from the general assumption that turkeys might be fostered in India and – should they end up on a French Christmas dinner plate – might be the proverbial “dinde d’Inde”. But it sounds cute (or qute?)…
Drawing on an international vocabulary can sometimes lead to unexpected or unwanted results which are greeted with perplexity and astonishment by native-language audiences, as only the twisted minds of the x- or cross patriot can follow the multi lingual muddle unfolding in their ears. One little story that my DMIL likes to tell is that of a native German-speaker who was fluent and accent free in English. However, on one rare occasion that lady gave away her roots as she talked about “two-eyed twins”. Of course, everybody would hope that the siblings in question were in good health and would indeed have two eyes. The unintended pun came from her brain taking a short-cut to her native language where “zwei-eiige Zwillinge” (stemming from two eggs/cells) is the official term for non-identical twins. As the German “Ei” (egg) is pronounced exactly like the English “eye”, the body parts of the poor children got somewhat mingled. (Good job they were not Scottish then? Aye)
Experts can take these multilingual mix-ups to a level where whole stories are told. One of my favourites is the following: (To be read in a Bavarian voice apart from the fat italics which are to be pronounced the English way).
Englisch is a merkwüadige Sprooch:
“I” hoasst “I”,
“Ei” hoasst “egg”,
“Eck” hoasst “corner”
Some people said that it would only take me two words in any given language to either get me into trouble or to make a pun. I lived up to this statement when I visited Peru for the wedding of my friend and best man. Later, the whole family and we five guests from Switzerland sat around the TV watching the video of the celebrations the week before. When the film came to a scene where the car convoy turned up the candle-lit driveway from the main road to the bride’s house, I spoke the only two words of Spanish I knew to describe the situation: “Sendero luminoso”. Meaning “shining path” this was an absolutely correct comment on the picture in front of us. However, also being the name of a Maoist terrorist organisation in Peru and the words being spoken by a strange gringo from la Suiza, the roars of laughter of my Spanish-speaking hosts were immense. All it took were two words….
I’m not really one for resolutions.
But there are some things that are vaguely lined up in my mind, if not for this year, then hopefully to do at some time. You never know, this might be the time!
In knitting, there aren’t many things I don’t just get on with if I have some instructions. However, I’ve never done steeks. This means knittng and then cutting through what you just knit :o! Absolutely traditional in Scottish and Scandinavian knitting and yet just the thought still gives me an uneasy feeling, even though I totally understand the theory and the use…
In books, there is one in particular that I’m determined to reread, apart from the usual TBR pile that accumulates, and that is Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I am famed for having read it in a long weekend when I was 12…goodness knows how well I understood it, but I think it’s about time I went back to it! I like reading things I’ve read before, as I usually see the story from a different angle anyway.
I’ve never really learnt to play an instrument and since my daughter’s Celtic harp has been sitting around getting dusty for x years, now, why not take advantage and see whether I can do anything with it? The sound is breathtaking even without being able to play, so how much better if I could really get a tune out of it?!
Lastly (for the moment, I’m not particularly ambitious, either! LOL), fitness has never been a big aim for me, and neither have I ever felt any desire to climb mountains. However, a lot more walking for both health and pleasure does figure on my list of “wants”, and all it requires is to get up and go…
PS All the very best for the new year to everybody out there, both commenters and lurkers Make it happen!!