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Tag Archives: Family

Attack of the .. WHAT?

Last night I discovered that my wonderful father-in-common-law (aka D’s Dad) will be starring in a low-budget spatter film set in Aberdeenshire.

Ah, The Geekiness It Runneth in The Family.

I uncovered a few videos and found this one to be the most interesting – not because D’s Dad is it (he is not in this video, actually) but rather because it is filmed where I spend most of my holidays. OK, so it is not incredibly interesting but I thought a few of my Danish pals might want to take a look. Please note that normally the village only houses a handful of zombies and that the video features some colourful language.

Unrelated: is this the greatest headline ever? It’s a contender, I reckon.

Some knitting content to follow, I swear. It has been a long time coming, but my knitting mojo has returned.

Momse’s Sewing Box

The parcel man brought me my great-grandmother’s sewing box yesterday.

My Momse's Sewing Box

It contains buttons of varying sizes and colours.

Buttons

And things that may look like buttons but have clearly been put there by one of my prankster uncles (yes, that’s sweets wrapping paper).

Faux Buttons

And “Chinese thread” (I presume it is linen thread – do any Danes know?)

Chinese Threads

And a beautiful little container of French linen thread. I dare not break this open. So pretty.

Linen Thread

And old coinage. 1960, 1969 and 1985, respectively.

Coins

And this is my favourite: a button from one of Momse’s dresses. The colours & design are so her. I miss her.

From My Momse's Dress

Bricolage

The internet does weird things to how we are perceived and how we interact socially. Two recent examples:

  1. A New Zealander living in Scotland has contacted me through YouTube (where I have added a few Kiwi music videos to a personal playlist) hoping to meet a fellow Kiwi expat: “i’m from xx, north island, where r u from?” .. Denmark? Maybe I should start adding a couple of Danish tracks to that playlist of mine .. nah.
  2. Facebook sent me a message the other day. “Suggest friends for XYZ!” Today the site sent me another message: “Keep in touch with your friends! Leave a wall message for XYZ!” XYZ, a distant member of my extended family, passed away from cancer a month ago. Needless to say, the messages made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I can only imagine what it must feel like for her close relatives to be sent these messages and pushy ‘reminders’.

Following on from that, I have been following a message board thread about personal identity with some interest. The thread started with a newspaper article talking about “late-blooming lesbians”. The thread meandered through discussions on bisexuality, marriage and queer politics – but the one post which made me stop in my tracks asked about the idea of “always having known myself”. Can we really, really lay claim to having a stable identity throughout our lives? One of my all-time favourite quotes is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.

I like to think that our identity is an amalgam of our experiences and a select number of personal traits. I cannot lay claim to “always having known” something about myself, because “always” is a really complicated word. My three-year-old self had a radically different way of perceiving and naming things than my twenty-five year-old self or even thirty-four year old self. I feel at peace with that idea of a fluid sense of Self, a bricolage-like identity, which keeps shifting and moving towards untravelled worlds. I feel significantly less at ease with always having been the same person.

Getting all this from a thread which was basically “u all suck an i’m rite” isn’t bad.

While I remember, I’m tentatively planning an escape a holiday to Denmark. I need to recharge my batteries and I miss people. I don’t know any dates yet (although it’ll probably be late October/early November), but I just thought I’d give a bit of advance notice !

Sunday Sunday

Sunday, Sunday here again a walk in the park..

The day started with me drinking my morning tea whilst listening to BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour where I was informed that knitting was a “post-modern, ultra-chic habit adopted by the very, very cool.” So now we know.

Then I began preparing for the Barcelona skirt sewing demonstration I’m doing Wednesday. I cut out the pattern pieces, read the instructions, and then laughed with relief. The skirt is very easy – just three pieces plus zipper and lining – and although I’ve not done much dress-making in the last fifteen years, I am confident I am not going to mess this up. Famous last words, of course.

The afternoon was spent in the communal garden. We live in a Victorian tenement flat and we share our garden with four other blocks. The plan is to make our communal garden sustainable and organic – today we attended a workshop on turning a tenement garden into a place to grow food (alongside all the other needs it has to fulfil: drying space, bicycle sheds, bin sheds, recreational space etc). A lot of the residents realised that edible plants were already growing in the garden – some planned (like potatoes, various herbs and strawberries) and some rather unplanned (St. John’s Wort, barley and gentian). We discussed getting some fruit trees whilst having herbal tea and cake under the existing Cypress trees.

At this point I felt very middle-class.

Then D & I meant to go blackberry picking. Well, bramble picking since they call blackberries brambles here in Scotland. As you can see, though, the berries are not quite ripe yet (neither are the elderberries). So I went for a little walk through our neighbourhood instead.

The North Kelvin Meadow is just around the corner from our flat. There is a short video posted on its site which lets you see the beautiful space for itself – it is basically a waste ground between tenements which has been “adopted” by local people. There are tiny allotments on the site now but mostly it functions as breathing space for local wildlife and as a “wild” natural habitat in the middle of a busy city. I like looking at the ex-whiskey barrels that have become micro-allotments. Actually, I like spending time there, full stop. The Meadow is very peaceful.

(As you can imagine, though, developers are quite keen on getting their hands on the Meadow (it is right in Glasgow’s prime property area), so there is an ongoing campaign to let the Meadow remain a meadow.)

On a personal note, I went for a walk (and a good cry) because I had some very sad news from Denmark. Sometimes I feel very far away from family & friends, and I am unable to travel back right now (for various reasons). It makes me feel powerless and downright awful. I love Glasgow – it feels more like home than anywhere else I have ever lived – but sometimes I do wish I still lived in Denmark. It would make moments like this one a bit easier to handle.

Guilty Pleasures #231

My Other Half told me that not everybody remembers the German 1979 Eurovision entry. Which is totally a shame as you are about to find out..

Apparently my mum sprained her wrist trying out the dance moves back in 1979. The apple does not falls far from the tree.

Signal

Sorry for the blog silence. I’ve been on a mini-vacation..

I Need Distractions

My great-grandmother’s bedspread/blanket arrived today.

Every single square was knitted individually in moss-stitch and then sewn together before she picked up stitches, knitted an edge, cast off, and crocheted a decorative edge. (So much work. I can deal with the huge amounts of mustard yellow in the spread, in other words.) I wonder if I should drape it over our sofa.. We live in a rented flat, so some of the furniture is not exactly to our taste (particularly the pink-yellow chintz sofa).

Thank you for the comments on Becoming Less than a Magpie. After writing it, I went straight to Ravelry and started weeding out my queue. It has gone from 247 patterns queued to 77 projects queued. It feels very liberating. I know the new autumn/winter collections will be hitting the web soon, so I am prepared to see my queue get a bit longer, but I am keeping the following self-imposed rules in mind:

  • Will it flatter my figure?
  • Will it work with existing items in my wardrobe?
  • Do I already have similar objects in my wardrobe?
  • Will I get any use out of it?

In other words, I will assess concrete things like gauge and shape as well as abstract things like style and wearability. Also, I will no longer be queueing fifteen patterns when one well-chosen pattern suffices.

Style is quite abstract, isn’t it? I am not fashionable (although for one brief month back in 1995 I was outrageously trendy) but I do think a lot about style. Being Danish I have grown up with a certain Nordic aesthetic – you might best know it from countless IKEA catalogues. Scandinavians like their simple lines, plenty of light and very little nonsense to their architecture/furniture/designs. A typical Danish knitting design would be something along the lines of Topstykke, Duet or Granite. Plain knitting with a little twist. On the other hand I have never been a very good Dane and I turned into an bit of an Anglophile when I was very young, cue the love of tweedy things with cables and fair-isle (or, in other words, everything Rowan). Add to that, an uncompromising love of Modernist art and design (and that pesky Scandinavian mid-century modern influence) and that is pretty much where “my style” is at.

See why my queue has shrunk so much? Yeah.

Now I’m off to wave a tiny Danish paper flag about. The Danish football team is playing their first World Cup match today and I’m slightly worried as they are meeting one of the top contenders, Holland. It is going to be tense and I still cannot knit.

Day Two: Inspirations & Aspirations

Fourth Edition is taking part in the Knitting & Crocheting Blog Week, and you can read more about that blog project here.

As I wrote yesterday, my grandmother has been knitting me jumpers and cardigans all my life. My all-time favourite jumper was one she knitted me when I was eleven. I chose the colours myself – forest green and dark red – and I wore it until my gran decided she had better knit me another one. Unfortunately I did not get to choose the colours second time around as I was living in London, not rural Denmark, and I ended up with a beige/fawn combination which I loathed.

Last time I went to visit her, my grandmother had uncovered the pattern she had used for the two jumpers.  The apple does not fall far from the tree, because Gran had obviously modified the pattern. Instead of a cardigan knitted in pieces, she had knitted the jumper in the round with subsequent steeking and whatnot.

I want to knit that jumper. I want my forest-green/red jumper back and I have the pattern right here in front of me. It is a 24-stitches/37-rows repeat, and fortunately I have Gran’s marginal notes so I can follow her math. I plan on knitting it in the round as well, but I am not sure about the sleeve construction. Should I steek for drop-shoulders? Should I attempt to re-chart the pattern for a round yoke? I know I will be wanting a high-turtleneck.

Gran used postal order wool (I still remember pouring over shadecards with her). The actual pattern calls for a yarn which is miraculously still available – Sandnes Garn Peer Gynt (and rav link). It is a standard double-knitting pure wool yarn which should be easy to substitute. The real concern is if I can get the colours I want. Jamieson & Smith seem an obvious choice, but I’m also wondering if I should go for a slightly different look to my original jumper by choosing Rowan Felted Tweed (Rage and Pine would look so very lovely together).

Why is this an inspirational pattern for me? I know I have the skills to knit this – but I am actually a bit afraid of undertaking this project due to its many layers of meaning. By undertaking this project I will be admitting that Gran is no longer able to knit me a jumper and that I am, in a sense, “taking over” from her. In fact, I am now knitting her things, not the other way around. By knitting this jumper I am also reaching out to my own younger self – that young girl who feared so many things and felt so horribly out of place. And I am attempting to replace something which meant a great deal to me and I am afraid that my recreation will not measure up.

Who knew that sticks and string could be so .. meaningful, eh?

Day One: Starting Out

Fourth Edition is taking part in the Knitting & Crocheting Blog Week, and you can read more about that blog project here.

My great-great-grandmother, Ingeborg, died in the 1960s but lives on in the stories told by my grandmother and my mother. Ingeborg was nearly blind when she died, but she kept knitting socks until her final days. My grandmother tells me that Ingeborg would worry about her tension becoming wonky and about dropped stitches, but despite failing eyesight Ingeborg’s socks were as immaculate as they were back in the early 20th century when she kept her sons and one daughter, my great-grandmother, in steady supply of socks.

Intriguingly, Ingeborg used the English method, unlike her daughter (and subsequent generations) who were/are Continental knitters. I was taught to knit by my great-grandmother who was an important influence upon my life. She would knit long strips of garterstitch and sew them together into huge throws (and as I am writing this, I am awaiting a parcel from Denmark containing one of her huge, colourful throws). She would normally use whatever she had to hand – my momse had raised eighteen children through the 1930s and 1940s, and had very little time for anyone complaining about fibres or colours: if it kept you warm, you better be happy (and keep quiet about blue not being your favourite colour).

My grandmother has influenced me more than anyone else. Whenever I am with her, we make things. Arthritis has sadly put a stop to most of her creative endeavours, but she is a wonderfully multi-facetted crafter: sewing, knitting, crocheting, hardanger-embroidery, cross-stitching, and .. I can think of at least five other crafts she has tried.

She started knitting me pullovers and cardigans when I was a baby and, well, she has only stopped now due to her arthritis.  My grandmother made me the pullover I am wearing in the picture below. I think I am about six years old in the photo. She favours cables and textures above all other things, although she is also extremely fond of fair-isle knitting, and as Gran has never done lace knitting, I made her a lace shawl for Christmas (it was very well-received).

The most important craft lesson she has taught me? You can make it yourself.

My mother is no less crafty, although she channels her creative energy into other things such as gardening and writing. Mum crochets more than she knits and she tends towards making things for her home: table cloths, napkins and doilies. I think I get my love of delicate projects from her, as she prefers extremely fine/small-gauge work to quick projects. Her attention to details is legendary.

I do not remember when I was taught to knit or crochet, but I know that all my life I have been Making Things (and now I live with someone who also Makes Things). As a child I would knit fair-isle pullovers for my dolls(!) and made quite good pocket-money selling dolls’ clothes to the neighbourhood kids. As a teenager I was mostly caught up in crocheting (and calligraphy, but that is another story) and made myself some, ahem, interesting pullovers. I abandoned knitting and crocheting for almost a decade, but rediscovered my roots when I found myself with some unexpected downtime. Nowadays I cannot imagine myself not creating things with my hands. It calms me and strengthens me in often surprising ways.

And, most of all, I am a fifth-generation* crafter and I feel connected to my family history every time I pick up my needles.

*at least

In Her Soft Wind I Will Whisper

momseLady on the left? My great-grandmother. She would have been ninety-four today.

The photo was taken in the early 1950s outside her cottage and she is with two of her sons, K and T.

I have several photos of her; my other favourite is from the 1930s when she was approached by a travelling salesman who wanted her to become a hair model. I presume she shot him one of her withering glances. The photo shows her with long, gorgeous hair. I was told it was chestnut-coloured. The photo is black/white.

I was lucky enough to grow up around her. She minded me when I was pre-kindergarten and I spent most of my school holidays in her cottage. Her cottage did not have running water until I was maybe seven or eight and never got central heating. I can still envision her sitting in her chair in front of the kerosene-fuelled stove. She’d knit long garter stitch strips from yarn scraps and sew them into blankets. I think she was the one who taught me to knit. She was certainly the one who taught me how to skip rope.

Happy birthday, momse. We may not always have seen eye to eye, but we loved and understood each other. And I still miss you.

Title comes from this beautiful farewell song (youtube link). Post reposted from 2009 with Momse’s age amended. I continue to miss her.