This will require a bit of back-story, but not much. Alasdair Gray is a Glaswegian writer and artist. I once spent a lot of time looking at how he imagines and uses the Book as a material object. Somewhere in this flat I have a opus magnum which details Gray's use of paratextual elements in constructing and assembling his books (In case you care, his The Book of Prefaces really pushes these ideas to the very edge. I wouldn't call it an interesting read; it's a maddening exercise in finding a text. It's fun.)

In short: I like Alasdair Gray a great deal. In a strange and roundabout way, Gray's work in art and fiction was one of the reasons I moved to Glasgow and probably also one of the reasons why I connected with Glasgow so quickly. When you spend a significant amount of time living with your head inside books that write Glasgow, Glasgow herself becomes familiar.

I was watching BBC's The Culture show tonight. Alex Kapranos was reading a passage from Gray's Lanark whilst sitting in Óran Mór. The inside of my head was splattered across the television screen. To clarify: the frontman whose band's first album was the soundtrack to my life circa 2003-2005; the passage the very one you can find in the sidebar on this website; the novel which spawned a thousand and one things; and my local pub which just so happens to be decorated by Gray himself.

I learned that Alasdair Gray is working on a giant mural for my local underground station, Hillhead. And there is an exhibition in Edinburgh (there are two exhibitions, actually, but I'm mostly interested in the first one).

Life is very odd and very good and very bitter-sweet and very perfect sometimes. I am amazed at where my life has taken me.

Croak, Croak

Health update: I think I'll be okay as long as I a) do not talk, b) do not laugh and c) keep drinking rum toddies. It is a slightly flawed plan, so I have stocked up on Halls Soothers. We are also on our third day of curly kale soup - it is my first time cooking this soup which was one of my great-grandmother's special dishes and I'm happy with the result although I'm going to tweak my recipe a tiny bit to make it a bit more like my nan's - and hopefully all those fresh veg will also make a difference. Knitting update: I have stalled on the first sleeve of Dave's pullover and am seven rows away from finishing my shawl's Chart B. Onwards, ever onwards. I am still pondering NaKnitSweMoDo (interNational Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon) for next year although both my knitting group and my beloved claim I will grow bored and whiny. We shall see. It depends upon the stash.

General update in the form of one link: These literary clutch bags make my heart go all a-flutter although I am most definitely not a clutch bag girl. They combine so many of my loves: books, paratextuality, craft, things handmade and geekdom. Be still my heart.

Also, I'm getting a bit nostalgic about the noughties almost being done and dusted, so expect wallowing entries in the near future.

Buttons and Books

These are my Buttony Mitts. I test-knitted them for Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt. Basically, she asked me one day if I wanted free handpainted yarn and I replied with my best teenage "dooooh" face. The yarn is gorgeous. It is a soft alpaca-merino-bamboo blend and is handpainted in shades of forest green, khaki and pine. It knits to aran-weight but Lilith had decided to use a 4mm needle to create a warm, durable fabric. It worked a treat. The pattern itself was well-written and taught me how to make paired increases. If not for other commitments I could have finished the mitts in the course of two evenings (I love instant gratification projects).

Lilith is planning to make Buttony Mitt kits available on her site, so keep an eye out for those.

Other commitments? Among other things I went to Edinburgh on Friday night for a panel on the future of the book at The Scottish Book Trust. I was pleasantly surprised to see a relatively large turnout (fifty people or so! on a Friday night! in November!) and was even more pleasantly surprised by the panellists who all had interesting points to make. I was particularly impressed by Donald Smith (of the Scottish Storytelling Centre) who knew his book history and made good points about the book (codex) as a material object. The panel ran out of time, so the Q&A session was cut short, but I managed to raise a point about the socio-economic implications of digitalising books which was well-received. I suppose "you had to be there", but I really enjoyed myself.

As an aside, I was cornered by an American who wanted to know what I had bought my cardigan. Score!

PS. I trust the permalinks are working for people now. If not, let me know.