Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Back to school

Hello, and welcome to a lovely spring day – or spring day, anyway, with sunshine and clouds and well, temperatures well above freezing. A Danish spring day, in other words; we may have rain later, maybe not, and there may be frost during the night.

And school is starting again tomorrow! Four weeks of lockout are coming to a close; and children and parents – and grandparents – across the country can return to normal.
The government decided to intervene, after all, this week, maybe because the end-of-school tests for the ninth and tenth graders are coming up. These tests were supposed to start this coming Thursday, 2nd May, but have been pushed till the 13th.
Apparently, the Prime Minister said at the weekly press conference on Tuesday that they were still waiting for the involved parties to work out a solution – and then on Thursday morning there was a new press conference detailing a) the government’s proposal for the intervention and b) their expectation that the members of the Folketing would approve it during the long weekend (Friday was a holiday). Which they did; and so the teachers can return to their work – and their pay – and school children can return to school.
Victor isn’t overly thrilled, but that’s just how it is. And it probably is time he went back: what with ‘bridge building’ (trying out the next level of the school system), the flu, Easter break and the lockout, he hasn’t had regular school for seven weeks.

The next few weekends are going to be somewhat busy: Sunday, 5th May, is Music School Day; so we are all going to Copenhagen, as Victor and his guitar group are playing in Tivoli. Last year, Thomas and I and my mum went along with him, and this time, my dad is coming as well, and maybe Andreas; so we’ll have a proper family outing. Fingers crossed for the weather to behave!
The following weekend, 11th & 12th May, sees the Wool Festival in Saltum, where I’ll be going with my sister – on the Saturday, as there is a guitar concert at Ulstrup Castle on Sunday.
So, a lot of music coming up, and yarn ... and this is a perfect segue to:

The Knitting
My Fosco socks are ongoing; I finished the first one and have reached the heel – the Welsh heel – of the second. This Welsh heel is, apparently, the sturdiest one out there (I am merely quoting, I haven’t actually made a full comparison of heel types), done with slipped stitches on the heel flap and double decreases on the bottom of the heel. The picture below shows the slipped stitches; I am about two-thirds down the heelflap on that one.

The sole of the foot has arch shaping that makes the sock hug your foot in a very comforting way; that feature I will definitely use again! Note to self: find out how this is done in toe-up patterns. See, the journey of exploration and learning goes on and on ... gotta love it!

And I am sock designing at the moment, as well; secret socks, for now.

For TV knitting, I have the Comfort Shawl KAL. As I am using an aran weight yarn instead of worsted, I am fiddling a bit with the numbers, not for the first – or the last – time; but everything seems to be adding up.

And I found something else to occupy me, another TV knitting project, in fact:

On these sunny spring days – and even in the summer, sometimes – when the sunshine is warm but the breeze is still cool, I want something around my neck to keep the draught out but not make me sweaty. So, a scarf in cotton, bamboo, or silk is called for.
I have been and am still planning a Wingspan made out of sock yarn leftovers: that will keep till later; and in the meantime, I have dug out my Blend Bamboo leftovers. This is a Hjertegarn mix of bamboo and cotton that I have used primarily for baby things, as it is light and soft and quite lovely – and suitable for a summer scarf.
The Wingspan is built up of staggered triangles made with short rows and is as such excellent for using up bits & pieces. I cast on 54 stitches for the first triangle instead of the 90 stitches suggested, as I want a longer and narrower, more scarf-like than shawl-like, piece, and so each triangle takes up about 6 grams of this yarn. The original scarf has eight triangles; I will keep going until I find it long enough to wrap around a few times and tie the ends in a knot. Maybe 14 triangles, since I have seven colours to play with – nine, actually, but I’m probably leaving out the pink, and I only have 4 grams of the purple, too little for a triangle (I wonder why that particular colour has been used up?), so that bit I can use for some of the final edging.

The Books
Knitting lace & cable socks goes well, of course, with audio book listening (which I may have mentioned before); I am now on to the final 7-hour part of eight of The Vampire Archives, the huge collection of stories spanning several centuries and continents. One feature I like about this collection is the author mini-biographies that precede the short stories (or poems); any aspiring writer should take note of how other writers have made it, thanks to or in spite of, their circumstances.

In on-the-go listening, I finished Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, the big history on how it came to be that Europeans beat other peoples around the world and not the other way round. Diamond is fond of expressions like ‘accident of environment’, stressing in many ways that the geology, continental orientation and so possibilities of plant and animal dispersion, inventions and so forth, happen to be more favourable in Eurasia than in Africa, the Americas and Australia, not to mention a host of smaller entities. Eurasia happened to have large, domesticable animals, an East-West orientation that enabled flora and fauna to travel along an axis facilitating comparable environments, and relatively reliable seasons. And so, Europeans had potential for food production, providing more calories and thus more complex societies including specialisation, a settled lifestyle in close proximity to animals and thus germs to evolve tolerance to, and so on and so forth.

My current audio book is Be a Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell, an upbeat motivational guide on how to break free of the caged corporate life and find yourself, happiness and a steady income, doing what you love.
As you may guess, I find the tone a bit much, though there is useful advice in the book – even for decided introverts such as myself, who do not wish to be life coaches or massage therapists (quite a lot of the examples involve coaching). The whole looking into yourself and reconnecting with your childhood dreams makes sense; more now, anyway, than when I was compelled to do an NLP course 2½ years ago. And sanity checks on your dreams are necessary: there is no point in wanting to do something full time that would require you to work 100 hours a week just to make a living.
The focus is very much on the online based business, be it coaching or blogging; the chapter I am in right now describes how to live nomadically to be truly free. Hm. Well, you can bring up children like this (though the mentioned families have only one child each) – but you can’t all of a sudden drag three teenagers out of school and halfway across the globe. Or am I, oh horror of horrors, only representing the views of the beige army?
Ok, now I’m just being sarcastic; free-ranging is great, and the line(s) of work I can envisage for myself, in writing and knitwear design, can be done anywhere; the patterns are virtual products and only need an Internet connection to be uploaded and sold. But you don’t have to live in five places around the world to be a ‘real’ free range human, and I wouldn’t uproot my boys to do it; not at their stage in life: that sort of life is probably best begun when you are adult or a small child.

On paper, I am reading Savage City by Sophia McDougall, the third book in the Romanitas trilogy that features the Roman Empire – now. The first book in the trilogy opens with the view of steel crosses gleaming in the sunlight along the banks of river Thames in Londinium, ready for criminals and runaway slaves.
I am always drawn to parallel history, the little cognitive shocks you get when your everyday reality collides with the otherness; and when it is well written, as this really is, I love it.
So many details need to be thought through when you create a parallel reality: technology, religion, political and social institutions, names of persons and places and things, world dominance, &c. In this version, the Roman Empire persisted and now rules a large part of the world, including the Eastern parts of Terra Nova (the New World), which is shared with Nionia, a.k.a. Japan, the other large empire. Christianity is an obscure sect, the potential abolition of slavery is a thorny matter, cars and trains run on electricity, and madness is hereditary in the Imperial family (nothing new there).
Words for various objects are derived from Latin rather than Greek, as we are used to: longvision screens are everywhere, people communicate via a longdictor, vigiles patrol and arrest criminals, &c. The ubiquitous and familiar saints’ names do not exist, of course, in a world without widespread Christianity, where the Roman gods are still worshipped in their temples; people have Roman or Gallic or Persian names according to their place of origin.
The story itself is compelling: without giving too much away, I can say that we get runaway slaves, intrigue and murder within the Imperial family, attempts to abolish slavery, international diplomacy as well as warmongering, romance, violence (it is Rome, after all), siblings united and divided. There is a lot of travelling done through various parts of the world, in as well as beyond the Roman Empire, officially as well as on the run.
The characters come alive in the detailed descriptions of their emotions and reactions, both physical and mental; and thus, this story really is a window into another world. Highly recommendable.

And with that, I will leave you for now; next week, I plan to post early, before going AFK for the weekend (not quite globally free range, yet) – so watch this space :o)

Keep happy, keep healthy, keep crafting!

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