nature is big and scary


We saw puffins in Aberdeenshire. We were out cliff-walking just south of Aberdeen when D. took out his binoculars. He spent almost twenty years living in a small fishing village off the North Sea coast, but this was only the second time he had ever spotted puffins. They were out to sea, but they were unmistakably puffins. Søpapegøjer! I also saw a couple of yarn shops. Wool For Ewe came recommended to me - it had pleasant staff and a nice selection. I ended up buying enough Jamiesons Ultra to make a lace shawl (shh!). I also bought one ball of JC Rennie 4ply in a green-blue colour which brought home just how much I'm itching to do a proper fair-isle project. I have a good selection of colours in various Shetland 4-ply yarns stashed aside and these days most of my pattern purchases seem to be colourwork-orientated. Apart from the new Rowan 48, I have also just bought Sasha Kagan's classic book on fair-isle knitting. Kagan's book is very dated in terms of styling - hello 1980s make-up and hair! - but the patterns are very interesting and inspirational. While the idea of a dachshund-covered waistcoat might not appeal, I can certainly see myself knitting some fingerless gloves with pansies or seagulls.

I'm slowly moving towards autumn-knitting, you see. Scotland is never the warmest place in the world (or even in the UK!), so woolly knits are never far from my thoughts. However, I was browsing through some old blog entries the other day and I noticed how much I emphasised Needing Accessories. My thinking is that I might as well get a few quick-knit accessories under my belt before I start to yearn for big woolly cardigans. Last winter I loved my big snuggly scarf, so I have kept that in mind as I'm trying to narrow down my must-knits. Matters are complicated by the fact that I have been commissioned to design a couple of scarf patterns, that I have a few commissioned knitting projects, that a colleague of mine is expecting (and is going on maternity leave in two weeks, so I better start knitting!), and that my wrists are still not entirely happy about the amount of knitting I do.

Most of all, I wish I could take more time off and spend it up north. I do not why I love Aberdeenshire so much, but I suspect it reminds me of Denmark (albeit with dangerous cliffs, birds of prey, hills, crumbling castles, granite, puffins, and glorious 'high' skies). I always feel at peace whenever I am up north and it takes me a few days to adjust being back in Glasgow. Sigh.

Away for the Day

As today was a Scottish bank holiday, we both had the day off and decided to spend the day in a semi-productive way. We took the bus thirty minutes out of Glasgow and spent the best part of the afternoon walking a tiny part of the West Highland Way through fields of bluebells, hiking up fairly steep slopes and catching our breaths underneath old, gnarled oak trees. A beautiful sunny day with a defiant breeze added to our enjoyment, as did spotting several buzzards flying high over the Campsie Fells. Next time we will plan ahead, pack a proper picnic basket and maybe even check the map before we head out. We ended up on a bit of a detour involving a massive 19th century water reservoir (pretty, but not what we had in mind) which I'd be quite keen on avoiding on our next adventure.

PS. Eurovision? Wasn't it exciting?! Congratulations to Germany (who can almost afford to host the event unlike most of the other participants) and a big congratulations to Norway, a fabulous host.

PPS. I have cast on a shawl.


A few links to tide things over:

  • A few weeks ago a perceptive blogger wrote about volcanic activity in Iceland. Seeing as Northern Europe's airports are more-or-less shutdown due to a massive cloud of volcanic ash coming from Iceland, you might find it an interesting background read. Also: Katla, another Icelandic volcano, could well be about to get ready to rumble.
  • Speaking of Eyjafjallajökull, have you seen this fantastic photo taken by a local farmer?
  • And this is how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull (links to sound). Not what I expected.
  • Pictish writing?! The idea sounds ludicrous. Language Log explains.
  • Best places to eat in Glasgow for the budget-conscious? The Guardian has a few ideas.. and handily includes a photo of the 78 (one of my favourite hang-outs) plus the opening paragraph explains why I love my new home.
  • If you love fashion history or even costume history, chances are you will have heard of Prinny - King George the IV - a man so fond of bling that he built entire bling buildings where he could wear fabulous clothes with his bling and eat outlandish food. Glass of Fashion has been to see an exhibition of some of Prinny's outfits.
  • Literary T-shirts. The double-think t-shirt is pretty cool. Others leave me wanting.
  • Douglas Coupland has teamed up with Penguin Books for their 75th anniversary. Speaking to the Past is seriously gorgeous stuff with typical Coupland 'little ironies'. One for the bookmarks.
  • Finally, Auntie Beeb asks why we need oil painters in a war zone.

Rufus Wainwright last night was very good, but I had certain reservations. More on that later - I also have a finished object to share and some thoughts about a certain free-for-all pattern.

Wednesday Linkage

An assortment of various links for your pleasure.

  • Dicey knitting - for the ones among us who like to throw dice when we need to make a decision. "Start with the Ivory Cube -- it will tell if you you knit, purl, slip, increase, decrease, or cable/twist. This is where you Impose Chaos". Thanks, L.
  • Golden silk from golden orb spiders: "A unique piece of golden yellow silk brocade cloth, woven from spiderwebs, is on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. To harvest enough silk to make the cloth, more than a million female golden orb spiders were collected in Madagascar, "milked" for silk, and released back into the wild." The links are not for the faint-hearted, but they are incredibly interesting. I say this as a arachnophobe.
  • This has been mentioned a lot on various literary blogs, but it bears repeating: An Open Letter to the Federal Trade Comission. There is a difference between being a lit blogger receiving freebies which may/may not be reviewed and a corporate shrill. The FTC has apparently not noticed the difference.
  • Most of my adult life I have been looking for the perfect Bauhaus teapot. I now know why it'll never be mine.
  • Glasgow Guerilla Gardening. What it says on the tin. Sometimes they include knitting.
  • The house of my nightmares. And probably also of the assigned estate agent..
  • The 56 Geeks. Which one are you? And yes, you will be one because you are reading a blog. Brownie points for guessing which one I am. (thanks, Emme)
  • The continuing saga of Amazon, their Kindle and the concept of "Fail".
  • Hilary Mantel won this year's Man Booker. I can't even pretend to be mildly interested. Sorry.
  • One of Dave's online buddies have started a parenting blog. Normally the words "parenting blog" strikes fear into my heart, but when it's called When Should They See Die Hard and the first post made my day: "The first stage is what I'll call "The Minion Stage". Essentially having a little tiny henchman who does as their told and will make Manhattans for you."



Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers have teamed up to make an adaptation of the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are. Growing up in Scandinavia, I confess I had never heard of this book, but the trailer looks stunning (and turn the volume up - the chosen song fits perfectly). Via John, aquarists at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay have uncovered the identity of a mysterious coral reef killer. Like John says, the accompanying picture really sells the story. It looks like really bad CGI from a D-list Monster Movie of the Week .. but it is not. Ew.

io9 lists The 7 Deadly Sins of Religion in Science Fiction which feels a bit lazy as they mainly focus on Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who with a bit of Heroes and the odd Star Wars mention. What? No, X-Files with their beatification of Dana Scully? I'm also rather unsure about the attack on the use of cargo cults.

On a similar-ish note: what do you get if you divide science by God is a strange little article:

The bizarre nature of quantum physics has attracted some speculations that are wacky but the theory suggests to some serious scientists that reality, at its most basic, is perfectly compatible with what might be called a spiritual view of things.

And so the journalist proceeds by asking random scientists about their spirituality and we are all somehow supposed to jump to startling conclusions about quantum mechanics, the existence of God and what not.

Oh, let's just end with a BBC headline which I first saw thanks to Anna: "God will not give happy ending!" Oh damn.