I Gotta Use Words When I Talk To You.

One day I'll stop viewing the world through TS Eliot's words. Thankfully that day is not yet here:

There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.

Today is my writing day. Visions and revisions, toast and tea. And in the company of Old Possum who laboured over words way back in 1915.

It feels like the past ten years never happened.


Visual poetry: a poetry form in which the shape of the poem is as important as the words themselves. The Scottish poet and gardener Ian Hamilton Smith combined gardening, sculptures and poetry to great effect. The woods around Bennachie yield beautiful surprises as you walk around in them:  words carved in stone, sentences arranged amongst branches and trunks.  I live far from Bennachie, but I live very close to The Glasgow Arboretum (you can almost see my home in the photo) where you can also find fragments of poetry scattered among the trees. My winter mitts? A fairly quick, uncomplicated knit. I used a pattern I found in The Knitting Book and yarn given to me by my mother. I have tiny hands, so went down a few needle sizes and I also added thumbs. The yarn matches a cowl and a hat I made earlier, so I'm all set for winter now. Bring it on.

I am spending today swatching for a future project/design. I played around with charts in Excel earlier and now I'm trying to figure out which texture I like best. It is always fun trying to strike a balance between my personal aesthetics, an imagined level of difficulty, and the actual purpose of the pattern.

I had a quick Twitter exchange with a few people after I came up with a true lace chart (i.e. lace knitted on both sides). I loved the idea of the pattern, but when I started to work it up in 4ply I knew it did not work in such a relatively heavy yarn. Twitterati consensus was that true lace is scary. I don't think this is necessarily true, but I know that this is what many people feel. Honestly, this project is not one for 'scary' lace so that chart was shelved alongside many other charts. Hopefully I will find the right project for it at some point.

Meanwhile I have come up with another chart - or, rather, four different versions of the same chart. I am busy swatching trying to figure out which version works best. I'm using some leftover Old Maiden Aunt merino/silk for the swatches. I need more of this yarn, I really do. It's beautiful to work with on my new Addi bamboo needles.

Finally, the soundtrack for work: I rediscovered this album this morning. The light is pale and thin. Like you. Has it really been 19 years?

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.

It's Complicated

PatsyIn August last year I began knitting Patsy (or "Lumley" as I call it) by Kim Hargreaves. It's now April and I am still not sure what I am going to do.

It's complicated.

I chose the pattern because I knew it would flatter my body type: a deep-V neckline and an emphasis on shoulders and waist are textbook examples of what someone with an hourglass figure should wear. I also liked the vintage feel to the design and knew if I lengthened the sleeves a smidgen, I'd live in this cardigan.

I hedged my bets and substituted the suggested Felted Tweed with Baby Alpaca DK (so if anything went wrong, I could knit up another design from Kim's book). The Baby Alpaca turned out to be a very, very good idea. It knits up beautifully but I had no idea just how magical it would become post-blocking. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but keep this in mind: the yarn substitution plays no part in why I am writing this post.

I began knitting the cardigan having swatched like a good girl. The back knitted up in no time. I was pretty happy. I began the front. Things fell apart (the center could not hold; mere anarchy was loosened upon the world - hello Yeats). I wrote up a spread-sheet to keep track of the pattern. The fronts looked pretty and also pretty small. I had also reached mid-November at this stage and my mojo was gone. Forcing myself onwards, I finished the sleeves in early January and did a quick crocheting-together of the body so I could see what it all looked like and maybe regenerate some of my mojo.

Mere anarchy was indeed loosened upon the world. Textbook examples for the hourglass body had combined into possibly the least flattering garment in the world. The fronts did not swooped gracefully down my bust: they flapped around the outer realms of my general bust area. The back looked absolutely brilliant and the shoulder area looked great. But those fronts..

.. so I put Lumley back into my knitting basket. I pulled it out again last week, undid the crocheted seams and blocked the easter bunny out of the pieces. As previously stated, the Baby Alpaca just turned into the most amazing fabric. Wow. Seriously, WOW. So I adjusted my hopes and fears for Lumley. I sewed it all up like a proper knitter. And finished sewing in the last sleeve at my knitting group.

The response could not have been clearer. "Uhm," said Paula, "I can see why you were .. ambivalent." Meanwhile Lilith tried to channel a Middle Eastern diplomat: ".. maybe if you wore it open..?"

I still haven't sewn in the collar nor have I woven in ends.


  • The shoulder and upper-arm areas fit like a glove. Without doubt the best fitting garment I have ever made as far as those areas are concerned.
  • I love the fabric (you weren't in doubt, were you?). It is soft, drapey, beautiful, silky, smooth.. wow.
  • The colour is great as is the vintage feel. Lumley fits right into my wardrobe.
  • And I have perfect buttons waiting to be sewn on.


  • Nobody above an A-cup should wear this garment (or B-cup if you are super-willowy). I am very much not an A-cup nor am I willowy.
  • The lower part of the sleeves look very odd (presumably because I lengthened the sleeves). In fact, they look like chicken cutlets swaying in the wind.

It's complicated. It really is.

I am so tempted to just stitch that collar in place, weave in the ends, sew on the buttons and call it a day. Maybe sew & cut the offending chicken cutlets from the sleeves if I'm feeling particularly grumpy. I have spent so much time and gone to such lengths with Lumley that I just want the cardigan finished. FINISHED AND OUT OF MY KNITTING BASKET.

But it'd be a waste of good yarn, wouldn't it? Oh, I could think of other projects in which it would be so delightful and useful..

Oh, Lumley. "That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all."

Shall I Compare Thee to the Great Pele?

After the years of Andrew Motion being poet laureate, him whining about it and his "official" poems going "Better stand back / Here’s an age attack, / But the second in line / Is dealing with it fine", it is a relief to have Carol Ann Duffy in the seat. Somehow she seems to understand the job better and is able to find poetry in the small things that fill our everyday lives (which, I would argue, is what poetry is all about) and the news story flickering on our screens. Recently she wrote a poem about David Beckham's injury which sees him out of the England World Cup squad.

Achilles (for David Beckham)

Myth's river- where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boyflowed on, his name on its lips. Without him, it was prophesised, they would not take Troy.

Women hid him, concealed him in girls' sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs... but when Odysseus came,

with an athlete's build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd's roar, and it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball...

but then his heel, his heel, his heel...

The poem was originally published in The Daily Mirror, a tabloid, which employs Duffy as a regular columnist. Meanwhile, The Guardian, my newspaper of choice, looks at the poem approvingly but the comments section is where I found the biggest thrills. I particularly enjoyed FinneyontheWing, IantovonScranto and tw*tbeak but I strongly recommend the entire section. It is filled with limp poetry, bizarre imagery and iambic pentameter.

Fog of a December Afternoon

dec09 043

Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon You have the scene arrange itself—as it will seem todo— With "I have saved this afternoon for you"; And four wax candles in the darkened room Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid. We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and finger-tips. "So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul Should be resurrected only among friends Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room." -- And so the conversation slips Among velleities and carefully caught regrets Through attenuated tones of violins Mingled with remote cornets And begins.

(Portrait of A Lady)

Addendum: My friend Iain shot a great photo of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery today.