Barack Obama is in London. BBC News is showing the door to Number Ten and is building up the tension. The channel has two experts commenting (one qualifies by being American, the other by being a UK blogger) and finally Obama steps out ans answers questions we cannot hear. BBC News keeps saying that Obama’s visit to Germany was tantamount to rock star adoration. Maybe Obama is not giving a speech to thousands of people here in the UK, but BBC News is certainly guilty of the rock star treatment too. I find it amusing when media double standards/lack of self-awareness are as evident as they are right now.
Today’s edition of The Guardian has a special supplement on ‘rebel knitting’. As I’m the polite sort of person, let’s say the patterns are unexciting. The introduction to the new wave of knitters is okay, though. I recently read Knitknit: Projects and Profiles of Knitting’s New Wave which is an excellent overview of avant-garde artists, edgy knitwear designers and intersection between art and craft. It also deals hands-on with the politicisation of knitting which the Guardian’s supplement also addresses. (Yes, I’m the sort of person who has to intellectualise activities)
The kitchen needs tidying, there is laundry to be done and, oh, there are crisp croissants to be had in a minute.
A family who were bound for a week’s holiday in Lanzarote are back home after a check-in desk mix-up meant they caught a flight to Turkey instead. (..) Mr Coray said they had not realised their mistake because their boarding pass stated only Bodrum airport and not that it was in Turkey.
On a vaguely similar note, try your American news IQ. The interesting bit is actually at the end where you can see the demographic make-up of results.
The other night the land-line phone rang and a tiny boyish voice said “im goin be big brotha”. Yes, I’m going to be an auntie again. This time it feels even bigger than the first time. One of my best friends is also going to become a mother. This calls for Auntie Bookish to surf the net for things to knit, obviously.
My partner’s sister and my friend may never speak to me again, of course:
(if this is your creation, let me know so I can give you credit for being a genius)
One of these days I’m going to knuckle down, find the copy of WordPress for Dummies that Auntie M. gave me for Christmas*, recover the password for my webhost and do another installation of WP on the second SQL server.
(* WP was messing me about at that point. Possibly the three-hospitals-in-11-days thing didn’t help either. So I bought that book with Auntie M’s usual book voucher. I’m not sure the book did me any good but the hospital visits became less frequent and certainly not as dramatic. Unexpected side-effect.)
See, I am really getting into this weird and wonderful world of
fibre arts knitting. I have stories to tell about projects, interactions with other knitters, yarn photos and all that. And I don’t really want to fling it all on 4th Edition because my brain isn’t compartmentalised like that. So I want a knitting blog. Oh yes. Hosted by myself, of course. And you people who are yet to be smitten by my enthusiasm can avoid reading about knitting. And I’ll be writing scores of fascinating entries about lace patterns, knitting podcasts and buying yarn. For people who’ll appreciate it
Deadline for myself: end of August. Baby steps. Any links to WP-on-2nd server baby steps much appreciated.
I may have injured my wrist through too much knitting. Yes. Really. I’m going to see my doctor tomorrow for my usual ‘why do I keep keeling over, Doctor McKay?’ thing and might just ask him about my poor overworked wrists. I suspect the answer may be to lay off with the knitting for some time. At least that will give me time to finish various reads.
I’m currently halfway through Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost which reads like a mix between early Julian Barnes and Umberto Eco with a dash of classic whodunnit. David gave up on the book after about 200 pages but I find myself enjoying its slow pace, Pears’ knowledge of 17th century science (unlike, say, Ross King whose Ex Libris was so, so, so inaccurate that it nearly made me cry) and the novel’s multi-narrative structure. My partner bought Pears’ The Immaculate Deception from Oxfam Books yesterday. It looks to be a light read, though. I might keep that for winter. I tend towards light books during the dark months.
Also on the backburner: Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Back when I was in the process of moving countries, I read her Gilead. It floored me with its precise language, its exploration of ‘home’ and ‘family’ and the slow, deliberate move towards its dénouement. At that point of time, I was living out of a suitcase whilst spending nights on friends’ sofas. I was susceptible to Gilead, in other words. Robinson’s Housekeeping is bleaker and I cannot quite muster the calmness that her novel demands. I still adore her way of using language though.
And then there are the books which have suffered. Maps For Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam and Old Men In Love by my beloved Alasdair Gray (signed 1st Ed – I should scan the dedication). They’re on my bedside table and deserve far more attention.
If everything else fails, of course, there’s always my growing stack of knitting books..
The first family request for a Christmas wish list usually pops up about a month after my birthday. I’m a February child. Lately I’ve found myself asking my Other Half what he wants for his birthday. His birthday is in November. I suppose we all try to be different from our parents and none of us succeed.
But I usually hate writing wish lists whether they be for my birthday or for Christmas. Last year was a classic case of Ms Bookish trying desperately to think of things that could easily be sent by mail, was difficult to confuse with anything else* and that would not just gather dust. So, I asked for plain table cloths, a mascara and a Danish film. I didn’t end up with any of these things, of course.
(* I remember one year I asked for a tiny saucepan because I was a poor student with foodie tendencies. I got a huge stew-pot instead because I “needed that much more”. I put it next to my other two stew-pots. No, it was impossible to exchange it for the tiny saucepan; stew-pot came straight from my auntie A’s cookery stash)
This year will be different. I have signed up for Wist which apparently helps you organise cool things you see online (it would be extra useful if I could remember my password). I have bought a notebook where I keep track of lust objects and when my mother finally pleads for a wish list (this month? next month?), I shall mail her one with well-organised, colour-coded items I would absolutely love.
Here’s a little preview of my two-page long list:
+ Merino/silk yarn from Nimu
+ Icelandic shawl pattern & yarn
+ Knitted Lace of Estonia – Nancy Bush
+ Addi knitting needles: 3mm, 4mm, 5mm ..
Huzzah for new, exciting hobby and all the exciting things that overseas family can easily send me! Huzzah! Christmas cannot come soon enough – and I think it’s the first time in my adult life that I’ve said that.
How badly do I want this uppercase scarf? Pretty badly, I tell you. The scarf led me on a typographic journey of the net which yielded new interesting sites: the & Blog, Bembo’s Zoo which is seriously cool, FontStruct which lets you design your own (very basic) typefaces, and, er, The Swedish Furniture Name Generator.
Hey, I can’t be all arty and intellectual all the time!
How about A.S. Byatt on textiles, textures and texts, then? It marries all my loves: books, texts, literary theory and, ahem, yarn.
Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a spindle, the Lady of Shalott is entwined in thread, Silas Marner is enclosed in his loom – why have spinning and sewing so often been associated with danger and isolation? (..) We think of our lives – and of stories – as spun threads, extended and knitted or interwoven with others into the fabric of communities, or history, or texts.
I’m hand-dyeing yarn right now.
First, I soaked a hank of merino laceweight yarn for about forty minutes in lukewarm water. While it was soaking, I mixed green food dye with a touch of blue food dye into about two pints of water. I added citric acid as a fixing agent. I heated up the dyeing solution in an old stovetop pot. When it was very warm (but not boiling), I took the soaked yarn and gently put it into the warm dye. The idea is not to agitate the yarn because agitated yarn = felt. I let the yarn simmer for about 35 minutes until I saw the liquid running clear. I turned off the heat and let it cool for ten minutes. The yarn was rinsed gently in very warm water as temperature shock would cause the yarn to felt. And now the yarn’s drip-drying, huzzah!
Proper instructions here.
I’m reserving judgement on the end result but at least the merino’s no longer pale yellow-green..
Stephen Moffat does write the best Doctor Who episodes. A planet which is one giant library? Yes, please! And that is all I will say as I do not want to give away any spoilers..
Now, as some longterm readers/friends may know, I’m absolutely obsessed by paratexts and paratextuality: tables of content, indices, illustrations, prefaces, typefaces, paper textures etc. Everything that makes a text a book, basically. I have found an absolute gem: A Book of Tables of Content. You can see a slideshow at the site and there is even a Flickr group where you can upload your own favourite Table of Content. Personally I have a thing about the ToC in Iain Banks’ The Bridge (my favourite Banks novel, by the way). The novel takes place on the Firth of Forth Bridge and if you turn the ToC ninety degrees, it actually takes on the shape of that particular bridge. Nifty.
Finally, a very, very cool/scary photo of when volcanoes spew lightning.
PS. I have finished my first sweater and I’m very proud
If I’m going to have to rip out another effing row on the neckline on my effing sweater, I swear I’m going to toss the effing thing on the bonfire I’m going to build in our backyard. What do you mean “Well, it’s your first attempt at an actual garment and you did abandon the pattern after the first three rows”? That’s not the point!
The bonfire I’m going to build will consist solely of good intentions gone awry: my copy of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” that I took with me across the North Sea in the misguided belief that I’d read it (and left my vintage Georgette Heyer novels in the discard pile while I was at it); the tins of dry yeast that have been sitting in my cupboard for a long, long time waiting for my bread-making to re-ignite; the clothes I was going to mend last summer but haven’t; the plants I forgot to water after having declared 2007(!) the year I was going back to have plants in my home. Let’s not go into my decision to re-reinvent cabbage.
Okay, maybe the sweater will not go the way of the plants or the culinary plans. Knitting continues to astonish me – not just the process of taking a string of X material, looping it in various ways using fancy sticks and ending up with a textile, but also the actual community surrounding fiber arts and crafts. I may be frustrated by a sweater refusing to shape up exactly as I had envisioned it, but the frustration is countered by warm and witty encouragement from the knitting community.
Just three more rows of moss seed stitch and I swear this’ll be it. Grrr..
PS. I have actually begun reading again! Hooray!