Eurovision Knitwear

Earlier this week I was doing some Eurovision punditry for ESC Insight (the podcasts will be available soon). As a result I can bring you Eurovision knitwear. Iceland's promotional video offers great knitwear alongside its top-tipped, but slightly dull song. Enjoy.

PS. I'll have a proper Eurovision blog post up closer to the actual contest. However, I can already say that I am tipping Sweden, Italy and Azerbaijan as the biggest scoring countries on the night.

I Saw the Best Minds of the Rebellion Eaten by Sarlacc...

Who on earth likes both Star Wars and 20thC poetry? ME! And this is one of the funniest things I have seen on the internet this week:

so much depends upon

a scarred young jedi

stitched with cyber netics

beneath the black helmet

Or how about

For I have ordered them, ordered them all— Have crewed the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have crewed my life with storm-troop goons; I know clones dying with a dying fall, And Alderaan, beneath the Death Star’s doom The soundless, vacuum-muted boom.

Or indeed

There died Hunter Fugitive. And the best of them, among them For old Boba gone in the teeth For a botched storyline.

There is just a smattering of Shakespeare in the linked post, which is fine by me, but I do think this cries out for some rock'n'roll 17th C poetry. A bit of Andrew Marvell - but sadly filking is beyond my abilities. I can but dream.

Just Knitting

March 2011 204Sometimes I get so very tired of knitting. No, I do not tire of knitting - that simple enjoyable activity that involves a ball of string and two pointy sticks - but I do tire of certain aspects involved in knitting.

I tire of the one-upmanship I see in the knitting community. That you need to be knitting the latest viral pattern craze in precious hand-spun unicorn yarn from a small island off the coast of Chile to be a cool knitter. Or that coolness equates you knitting crazy Estonian lace at knitting group whilst shrugging off its difficulty with a modest "oh, it's straightforward, really" and frantically counting in your head. I'm currently that last knitter (although my stitch pattern is straightforward, honestly) and I'm even knitting my crazy Estonian lace in an expensive designer yarn. Where is this one-upmanship coming from?

I tire of the idea of "a knitting community" too.

I was recently contacted by another knitter who asked me to share a copyrighted pattern "to support our knitting community". Really? Just because I knit, I am not automatically your new best friend. We share a common interest but I am not just a knitter. My identity has so many other markers that I do not feel automatic kinship with anyone who knits.

Besides, the very idea of a "community" is ridiculous when I see these self-confessed 'yarn snobs' and 'knitteristas' roll their eyes at seeing someone knitting a baby jacket on straight needles using cheap mass-market yarn. Isn't "the knitting community" just another way of saying "exclusive club"?

So, honestly, I needed something to cleanse my palate. I wanted to be reminded why I love knitting so much.

March 2011 210 I took my inspiration from the recent Rowan magazine - it is actually turning into one of my favourite resources together with Knit1 Fall/Winter 2008 - and specifically Kaffe Fassett's Unwind Wrap. I looked in my stash, uncovered some yarns that went well together and I sat down to knit. I had no plan, no pattern, and I just used up some spare balls from the stash. No fuss, all freedom.

It felt great. I felt great.

I'm going to weave in my gazillion ends now and then get my partner to shoot a few photos of me wearing my newest project - but I'm not going to make out that it is the most exclusive, most amazing, or super-difficult project ever. Knitting it made me feel good and wearing it (despite the many loose ends) makes me feel good.

But at the end it is just knitting, you know?

Why Neil Gaiman is Like a Toffee-Coated Banana

Want to feel jealous in a bookish manner? Go look at Neil Gaiman's library. The colours, the layout, the view from the windows and the mind-boggling amount of books.. I hardly ever covet anybody else's possessions but I do covet that room. On the topic of Neil Gaiman, people tend to assume that he is one of my favourite authors and I am at loss to explain why this is so. I have received emails from dear friends with subject lines like "Neil in Edinburgh!!!" (at which point I flailed happily around the house until Other Half pointed out that the email referred to Neil Gaiman and not Neil (yes, in Casa Bookish there is only one Neil and he needs no surname)). Other friends have assured me that if I run out of reading material, they have plenty of Gaiman books  they'll put at my disposal. And yet other friends approach me asking if I've read the latest Gaiman novel?

I've read two and three-quarters Gaiman books: American Gods, Neverwhere, Good Omens (co-written with Terry Prachett) and Odd and Frost Giants. None of these clicked with me - Neverwhere came closest, I think. American Gods is said to be Gaiman's finest and most complex work so far and it left me completely cold. I did like the film adaptation of Stardust.

I understand that people are passionate about their favourite author and I get that  people want to share their passion, but once I have read a couple of books by an author I am able to make my mind up about an author and decide that, nah, that guy isn't really for me. In that respect, Neil Gaiman is a bit like Ian McEwan. I read Amsterdam (still the worst Booker prize winner, in my opinion) and Atonement (horrid), listened to people going into raptures over McEwan, read a chapter of Black Dogs, and decided to choose Life over reading another page.

I suspect the "you must love Neil Gaiman' thing has to do with demography: I am in my early thirties, like geekery, am a Firefly and Doctor Who affectionado - and Gaiman just sort of goes with that territory. I still consider Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials one of my favourite reads this past decade, so sometimes I do find books within that niche that I really like. Gaiman just doesn't do it, though.

Have you ever experienced something similar? Have you read, listened to or watched something you knew you were meant to be Just Your Thing, but you just couldn't get into it? Other examples of mine include Bjørk, Tori Amos, Jonathan Safran Foer, and, well .. banoffee pie.

"Are You Sure It Isn't Just Some Fanboy Thing..?"

I saw this* and then I started missing academia once more and also really, really wanted to move to London. But, you know, life isn't so bad. Thursday I'll be baby-sitting the Old Maiden Aunt studio as Lilith's away, so do pop by West Kilbride if you fancy buying some lovely handpainted yarn and a chat over some tea and knitting. Via John (and presumably everybody else on the interwebs): Buffy Summers meets Edward Cullen.

"It's an example of transformative storytelling serving as a visual critique of Edward's character and generally creepy behavior. Seen through Buffy's eyes some of the more patriarchal gender roles and sexist Hollywood tropes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed in hilarious ways."

As John says, "..I have a sneaking feeling that a Spike meets Edward Cullen remix would [also] be a thing of beauty and a joy forever."

* I nearly fainted when I saw Jewel Spears Brooker was speaking on “The Fire and the Rose: Eliot and Julian of Norwich”. Phoawr!

Random Is the New Black

april-272We have found more clay pipes by the Forth and Clyde Canal - here is one of the nicest pipes, if not exactly the most intact.. Notice also the rather interesting shards of china in the background. We've identified one piece with the Willow Pattern but the rest remain elusive. Interestingly we've found tiny bits with lettering (be still my beating heart!) and other bits with what looks like fishing huts.

Swine flu has been confirmed around 12 miles from us. I'm expecting an outbreak of panic here which will involve people looting tissue paper, tinned soup, hand soap and cans of lager from our local supermarket. In other words, I'm not worried, although my mother might be once she realises how close I live to Monklands Hospital (i.e. not very close but in the same country). As a Dane I feel obliged to inform you that pork products are perfectly safe to eat. Mmmm, bacon.

Only one random link today: Vidders Talk Back to their Pop-Culture Muses.

"For decades, Americans sat in front of their televisions and watched — just watched — their favorite shows. (..) But one group of fans has interacted with their favorite television shows for more than three decades. Vidders, as they're called, make unauthorized underground videos using clips from the shows. Each vid compiles dozens of clips from various episodes, all set to a song."

To be perfectly honest, I've seen a handful of these fanmade vids and most of them are .. not very good. The formula goes something like this: one plaintative love song - say, Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love". Then take the lyrics and pair with with your fandom of choice  - so, when Leona bleats "Time starts to pass.." you insert pictures of Captain Kirk/the Doctor/Six looking at a watch. Lather, rinse, repeat .. But unsurprisingly there are some mindblowingly good vids out there. This is the best I've seen.

PS. Happy birthday to regular commentator and offline compadre, Darth Ken. I love you, man.