Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Basket once again! I hope you have had a great week and, if you’re in Denmark and have kids, that you have enjoyed the vacation. I have; being not actually working, I haven’t had time ‘off’, but it has been good not hauling the boys out of bed and off to school every morning. And something tells me they enjoyed it, too ...
I did dye a bunch of yarn, I’ve been knitting (of course), played with my sister’s little ones – oh, and went to a new knitting group. More about that later.
Now, this was supposed to go out yesterday (Sunday) at the latest; hence the title (last week was week 42 in the calendar; have you noticed, by the way, that Mulder’s apartment number is 42? That cannot be a coincidence) – and then life happened. I’ve been writing bits and pieces over the course of the week; I usually make a Word document and then copy it into Blogger, it’s easier to work with. So, I was going to continue the tale of Penelope and her wiles, and then the text somehow morphed into an explanation of hubris, and I wanted to use Oedipus Rex as an example (in addition to the knitting bit) – but jumping from the Odyssey to Oedipus and back again seemed rather messy, so I’m saving the hubris for next time. Assuming, of course, that the gods allow me a next time :o)
So here goes the
Apple of the Week:
We discussed last time the way Penelope keeps the suitors at bay with her weaving; this time, we will look at the way she greets her returning husband.
The situation in the home is this: Penelope’s ruse has been discovered, and the suitors are pushing for her to make a decision. Telemakhos has gone away for a week or two to try to find some news about his missing father; to do something towards becoming a man rather than just staying at home with the women, as he has done all through his childhood. The suitors set an ambush for him, but their plans are thwarted. Still, events are in motion.
|Bronze age axe head (from salimbeti.com)|
Penelope decides (Homer tells us that Athene puts the idea to her, but remember, ‘Athene’ is Penelope’s own clever mind talking to her) to have a competition: she does not want to marry just anybody, she will tell the suitors, but only the man who can string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through 12 axes lined up on the floor. This is no easy task: back in the day, only Odysseus himself could string the bow and shoot that straight with it.
At this point, Telemakhos returns safe and sound from his travels, bringing with him an old beggar he has met in the country – Odysseus, of course, who thus sneaks into his own home to get the lay of the land, observe the suitors and gauge the fidelity of his wife. The suitors mock him, the beggar who is already there does not appreciate the competition and is sent off with a thrashing, Penelope shows up, looking lovelier than ever, and reminds everybody of their duty towards the poor. So far, so good. No surprises there.
Oh, and while she is at it, Penelope reminds the suitors of their gentlemanly honour (while all they can think of is sex) and so their duty to give a lady some pretties – and they immediately send off home for jewellery and fine clothes. Go, girl!
In the evening, Penelope requests a talk with the beggar to see if he has news of Odysseus; he (who claims to be the bastard son of a lord from Crete) says that met him long ago and even describes the clothes that Penelope made for him. She weeps a bit and then tells him of a dream she has had: an eagle swooped down from the rooftop and killed her flock of geese, and she wept for them in the dream. Don’t worry, the beggar says, this means that your husband is coming home to kill the suitors (but why would she weep for them?). Next, she divulges her plan for the competition and is commended by the old man.
Now, the big question in this section of the story is whether Penelope sees through the disguise of Odysseus: does she suspect or know that it is him sitting there? I think she does. I think that she is almost certain that her husband is back, cleverly disguised, and knows that he has his reasons to be so. They are playing a game to lure each other out: he needs to know if her loyalty has shifted – and she needs to be absolutely certain that this man really is the Odysseus whom she has not seen in twenty years. There is too much at stake for both of them to risk accepting each other at face value: if Penelope has found a new lover, Odysseus is a dead man walking; and if she throws herself at the wrong man, her reputation is shot, and her fortune in ruins. So they circle around each other carefully, giving convoluted messages. There is no reason, for instance, to think that any old man passing through is a reliable interpreter of dreams: Penelope wants to see if he has anything useful to say about it. Which he does. And then she can warn him of the upcoming competition.
The next morning, Penelope demurely draws her veil up over her face before addressing the suitors: she has decided how to decide on her new husband. The bow is produced and the axes lined up (which by the way tells us that the floor of Odysseus’ house is made of dirt). The suitors try and fail to string the bow, the beggar tries and succeeds, Odysseus reveals himself and kills them all, including the 12 ‘unfaithful’ maids, yada, yada.
Anyway, later – after the cleaning up after the carnage and a much-needed bath for Odysseus – Penelope is invited downstairs again to officially meet her husband; and she is cold. She keeps her distance, claiming to be unsure of his identity, while Telemakhos is jumping up and down like a kid in frustration with her. Finally, she relents and tells this stranger who claims to her husband that he can spend the night in Odysseus’ bed: she will have the servants put it out into the hall for him. Odysseus is flabbergasted: he carved this bed himself out of the trunk of an olive tree, still attached to the roots, and built the bedroom around it. How could it be moved? And so, he passes the final test – because apparently nobody but Odysseus himself and Penelope knew about the properties of the bed.
So, all in all, we must conclude that Penelope really is both clever and strong: were it not for her, Odysseus’ property and life would be lost to a lesser man. She keeps going for years and years and then, on top of that, keeps her cool under pressure to protect herself, her son, her status – and her love, let’s not forget that.
During the vacation week, I have been watching quite a few dvds. Victor and I went through the whole of X Files (over a few weeks, though), threw in Season 4 of CSI, and then followed Thomas’ repeated
recommendations to watch Firefly &
Serenity. And a good thing we did!
Joss Whedon-fun all around.
We knew, of course, several of the actors from other stuff. Nathan Fillion from Buffy (scary), Gina Torres from Angel (scary), Alan Tudyk from A Knight’s Tale (not so scary), and Adam Baldwin from X Files (scary again).
So, coming straight on top of X Files, the beginning of it was a bit weird: ‘Knowle Rohrer’ appearing with big guns and being not altogether trustworthy, and then the guy who gave up years of his life and a promising career to find and rescue his sister from an evil government conspiracy to experiment on her. Hmm.
Anyway, great show; I highly recommend it :o) And now I know the provenance of the ‘I’ll be in my bunk’-phrase that I’ve heard so often on Knit1Geek2 ...
For those of you who have not come across it: this is a one-season, one-movie TV show about, well, space cowboys. Nothing like Cowboys and Aliens – for one thing, there are no aliens – more the classic western featuring bank robbers, smugglers, gun fights, saloons and whores, cattle, isolated settlements and all that. In space, on and between various planets and moons that have been terraformed (possibly by Weyland-Yutani, by the way). The ship, captained by Nathan Fillion’s character, is a Firefly class ‘boat’ named Serenity; hence the titles.
True to any Joss Whedon-show, we get the strong female characters, the sarcasm and one-liners in the face of death, the killing off of at least one central character (don’t worry, I won’t say who), the band of very different and not always compatible people who nevertheless stick together and defend each other against the bad guys.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had several occasions for reflection. Well, I have that in any week, of course, but these have been connected reflections, so to speak.
At Sunday knitting group two weeks ago, the little old lady there, the one with the not blue, but jet-black hair (and eyebrows) and the pastel-coloured acrylic knitting suddenly says: ‘My mother died when I was nine. So my father was alone with the four of us for a few years, and me being the eldest, he taught me to knit socks, so I could knit them for my brothers.’
How do you even begin to respond to that? This must have been in the 30’s or 40’s, in a time when people died of things we have mostly forgotten; and in a time when some skills were ubiquitous that now are mostly forgotten.
A couple of days later I was proudly showing my seamless Watson sock toe to my mum (no, I haven’t outgrown that need), and she says: ‘My mother could do that.’ Well, of course she could, and my father’s mother as well, and probably everybody who knitted socks, including the father of the black-haired lady, who must have been not much older than my grandparents, come to think of it.
A lot of knowledge about techniques and materials and how to treat or not treat them was common knowledge once, imparted as an integral part of bringing up your children. There are so many little – or big – things in cooking, cleaning, how to get particular spots off, you name it, that I do not know, and then my mum will say, again: ‘My mother knew this.’ I can’t help thinking about the abundance of knowledge I might have got from my grandmothers, if I had thought to ask for it.
This old knowledge, these same techniques, are now put on the internet and dubbed ‘magic’ or ‘surprising’ – and they do seem like magic when you come across them for the first time.
This makes me sad and happy at the same time: knowledge shouldn’t be forgotten, it should be kept alive and thriving – but then, that is what the internet does. And in the absence of an extended family filled with aunts and grandmothers – and uncles and grandfathers – to teach us all the skills, we modern crafters turn to our extended virtual family for help and guidance. Ravelry, for one thing, is an invaluable source of patterns, techniques, tips & tricks, yarns, ideas, and general chat about knitting, and crochet, and dyeing, and ... you name it.
Now, what have I been up to knitting-wise?
Well, the Hitchhiker with the beaded teeth (that does sound a bit silly, doesn’t it?) is coming along nicely; I’ve been working on it while reading the first Discworld novel, thus mixing Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett for a big slice of crazy pie :o)
And the o w l s is done – well, nearly, I still have to sew on 18 more beads for eyes ... So, I did it top-down which meant reversing the pattern; I gave the short row shaping at the back of the neck a lot of thought and afterwards realised that I could probably have looked it up in, say, Modern Top-down Knitting. Ah, well, my brain can always do with a little exercise.
The owls chart itself was pretty straightforward; I ended up doing two extra sets of decreases and increases on the back to get the snug fit; and the length is just fine. Not very long, but fine. And then, all that remained were the 34 owl eyes.
So the next logical step was of course to cast on an Owl Cowl using the same chart, with 100 stitches / 10 owls. It will be a Christmas present for my cousin who loves green – and owls, I hope!
In honour of the season, I made a handful of pumpkins using hand-dyed yarn – finally, a use for the madder orange! The pattern is the Jack be Little, found for free on Ravelry. I made two big ones with an aran weight wool from Greenland and three littlies with fingering weight wool; you can see the size difference in the pic.
And I am working on a pair of socks for Thomas: Bowties are Cool by SheepytimeKnits, also found for free on Ravelry. Gotta love Ravelry. And those little bowties are so much fun to knit!
I think that’s it – no, wait, I did a bit on my Carnaby skirt on Thursday, when I went to the new knitting group. The group itself is not new; it meets at a LYS, Garnshoppen (which, not surprisingly, means The Yarn Shop), once a month. Nice, friendly people, some new chat; I didn’t say much, perhaps, just getting to know people – again, all women. But I’ll go again; the boys will have to get used to me going out once in a while.
And that really is it for this week – or rather, last week, it being Monday and all. I will be back later this week with updates on knitting and life and the bit about hubris. Until then: have a great time; I hope your autumn isn’t drowning you, as it seems to be trying to do here (and they’re threatening frost this week!).