Copenhagen Dreaming

DSC00801 I moved to Copenhagen in 1995 to start university. It was a hot July day, but my student hall kitchen had a fire escape from which you could watch the Tivoli Garden fireworks and the Vor Frelsers Kirke spire. I listened a lot to the Danish band Love Shop while I biked around town. I sat in cemeteries/parks reading the massive Victorian novels required for my coursework and met some of the best people I know in small cafes. Copenhagen remained my base as I travelled a lot from Norway, Sweden and Scotland to New Zealand. I always returned home to the fire escape and the best view in town. I graduated and bought a flat on the other side of town. I spent most of my time with friends in the Nørrebro and Vesterbro districts - and occasionally biked across my beloved Langebro (obligatory Love Shop link). I left Copenhagen for Glasgow in 2006, but Copenhagen is still home. DSC00820

On Saturday night one of my oldest and dearest friends ran for his life in Inner Copenhagen. Without going into details, I am so very grateful that he is still alive and well. I have very mixed feelings about how the media narrative surrounding the incidents was set up from the get-go, how things were interpreted on the ground, the extent of the media coverage and what the probable aftermath in Danish politics will be. But, I don't write about politics on this blog and I have no intention of starting. I just feel very far away from a city I love so much and my friends who are all so very dear to me.

So, I'm (yet again) restarting my project of sharing beautiful things and celebrating all the things in life that matter to me.

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This is my first "selfish" project in a very, very long time. I'm knitting the Hetty cardigan by Andi Satterlund in Cascade 220 (shade "Birch Heather"). I am hoping to complete it in time for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I chose Hetty because I love the silhouette but also because I wanted to learn more about a structured top-down construction. The pattern is fun to knit (though I freely admit rewriting it so it suits my brain) and the construction is interesting. I have four skeins of the yarn and I've opted for the L size (though it does look tiny and I should maybe have gone for the size up, but I trust Andi's sizing comments).

In other news, I released the second instalment of the Old Maiden Aunt/Karie Westermann 2015 Sock Club on Friday. The pattern is called Mad Larks and it is knitted in a gorgeous, rich and layered brown shade. The Byatt KAL is going great over in my group - please do join in! We are having great fun discussing colour options, how to customise Byatt and if anybody would freely admit to being a Hufflepuff!

Finally, I am exceptionally honoured to announce that The Island Wool Company has set up a Designer Collective and that I am one of the six designers involved. We are all very passionate about North Atlantic knitting traditions and we are huge fans of the yarns that the Island Wool Company works so hard to bring to a larger audience. I look forward to reinterpreting and communicating a very strong knitting heritage - one in which I am lucky to have a very small stake.

Beauty exists and I'll do my very best to keep bringing more beauty into this world.


Home Is Where The Baked Beans Tins Are Stacked

"It's a really nice day outside, you know," said my partner when he called. I know and I'm heading outside with my working-from-home bits in just a second, but first I wanted to share a video I came across the other day. Felice Cohen lives in a 90 sq-foot/8 sq-metre apartment in Manhattan, New York. This is her choice and I respect her for the decision. However, it brought me back to the eight years I spent living in a 16 square-metre/170 square-foot pad in Copenhagen.

I moved into my place when I was 19 and just started university. The first few years I loved my haven: I shared a huge kitchen with other students and we had a great time getting used to living away from home. Then the building was refurbished; my little pad suddenly had a kitchenette where I once had storage; and student life got mixed up with people who lived there because they had split up with their partner or because the authorities thought it a good place for "vulnerable adults" to mix with "normal people". Things got very claustrophobic. These were the times when I bought an obscene amount of interior design magazines just to fly away on escapist dreams.

Copenhagen is a very expensive city - including real estate - so moving elsewhere was not an option for many years. One of my friends coined the phrase "3D Tetris" which was terribly apt. Finding room for your tin of baked beans became a competitive sport at times. I look at that video of Felice Cohen and I can see several ways she could use her space better. And I'm not a naturally organised person. The space has a high ceiling and I'd utilise that height a lot more.

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Eventually I got my own flat with a separate kitchen (it felt like such a triumph), but it was a real Copenhagen apartment with no bathroom (the shower was in the bedroom I rented out), a tiny toilet (you'd bang your knees on the door when you sat down), and no laundry facilities.

At the time I thought I was happy there but it was a place where time fell into the cracks between the floor-boards and I was actually terribly unhappy there. I lived there for two or three years. I miss the view from the kitchen but that is all.

What home means is such a difficult thing to pinpoint but I know what it is like not having one (I lived in my suitcase for a year. I cannot recommend this). Home means privacy. I shut the front door and shut out the world. Home means space. I can stretch out my arms and not touch walls. Home means peace. I can relax and be quiet. And home means my partner. This is exceptionally sappy, of course, but it is very difficult to imagine a home without him curled up with a book.

Now I'm off to grab my iPod (loaded with Danish-languaged postcasts on culture, society and language), my work and I'm heading out into my Glasgow version of Ms Cohen's Central Park. Enjoy your day.