Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hot Days

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Apple Basket! We are sweltering hot here, at least by Danish standards; summer has really come at last with daily temperatures above 25° C and unremitting sunshine.
So it’s time for sunbathing – and seeking out the shade, as I am doing right now – for the short, strappy dresses that spend most of their lives packed away, and for getting out of bed early enough to run before it is too hot.
I love it, more so because I know it won’t last. Very soon, the temperatures will drop, the sky will be overcast, and we can once again complain about the wind and rain. So the present languor brought on by unwonted heat causes only a temporary disruption of life and work ethics, and soon there will be no excuse for laziness.

Not that I am completely idle, and some of my perceived idleness is enforced: I am having a hard time watching films – only in the evenings, mind you – without knitting. I feel lazy sitting there with empty hands, and now that my arm is so much better, it is even harder. But I don’t want to jeopardise my recovery, so I am toughing it out for a few more days, and then I will pick up my needles and see how it goes.

This weather makes the perfect backdrop for writing a summer short story; the Fiction Writers’ Guild on LinkedIn, of which I am a newbie member, has, as it turns out, a monthly short story competition, with a few set parameters and of course a limited word count. The July story has to be set on a very hot day, include a superstition and the word ‘liberty’. Well, it is American, after all. So, I have been doodling a bit and may come up with a submittable story.

The Knitting
Well, there has of course been no knitting at all this week; I had the second and hopefully last round of acupuncture on Wednesday, and things are really looking up. I am even able to contemplate the possibility that I might actually be able to knit again, that this part of my life is not necessarily over.
My ever helpful mum let me know that it is Perfectly Possible to live without knitting.  I did restrain myself from any comments of the ‘easy for you to say’ kind. She does knit, though – at least, she made a doll’s dress for Laura last year.

Earlier this week, I had a newsletter from Garn Garagen (the Yarn Garage) informing me that the Samarkand yarn – light fingering / laceweight lambswool & silk – is going to be DISCONTINUED and therefore, it was (is?) on SALE.
As you know, those are two dangerous words, and when they are in conjunction, as in this case, the danger is not merely added, it is multiplied and squared. Any yarn addict will understand that now is the time to quote Oscar Wilde:
‘I can resist anything but temptation.’

Let me hasten to say, before you become too nervous, that I did not sell any of my children or even endanger the food budget for the remainder of this month. I did buy some yarn, and almost all of it has planned / intended projects attached to it. This is what I got:

A cone of colour 57, Azure, 962 grams including the cardboard thing in the middle. With this I can make the Queen Street Cardigan by Andi Smith, for my Lady Violet look, and the Laminaria shawl by Elizabeth Freeman. Have I mentioned that I love lace knitting?

4 50-gram skeins of colour 16, Ecru. This is for one or maybe two lace shawls that I want to design.

1 50-gram skein of colour 40, Gentian Violet. Ok, this one was just for fun and because it was the last one in that colour. But hey, it was DKK 16.20, so the damage done is limited.

Because you are clever and quick, you will have spotted the inconsistency in the above: first, I whine about not being able to knit and falling into the pit of despair, or at least teetering on the edge of it – and then, I go and buy yarn.
What can I say? Except to put the mood swings down to withdrawal symptoms: when you are prevented from doing something you love and are used to doing, it is all too easy to feel deprived and estranged, to see that world gliding away from you and leaving you stranded on a desert island. It is the same feeling I get when I am (have been!) unable to run because of injuries, and I cannot bear to even look at my running shoes or books, and the list of unheard episodes of Marathon Training Academy just grows and grows.
But once in a while, a ray of hope bursts through the cloud cover, and I am convinced that all will be well soon enough, that the future me is running and knitting to her heart’s delight – while of course being rich and beautiful and happy and successful and all that. And in the spirit of those moments, I can buy yarn and plan more projects.

At the University of Surrey in the UK, Dr. Julia Percival of the Chemistry Department is right now running a project to create a huge, knitted and crocheted model of the molecular structure of a group of mineral called Perovskite; these ubiquitous minerals have great properties such as superconductivity, magnetoresistance, and ionic conductivity, making them hugely important in microelectronics and telecommunication (according to Wikipedia).
The project invites knitters and crocheters from around the world to either knit a blue octahedron or crochet a yellow ball, which will then be all assembled into the crystalline structure. Submissions will be welcomed until the end of August 2013.
I am thinking of knitting an octahedron; I have some more of the blue Kauni wool that I used for the TARDIS last summer during the Ravellenics, and I think the colour falls into the given spectrum. Just for fun.

The Books
While not knitting, I can at least read; so this week, I have finished The Sign of the Four by sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the second of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Also, I have read about writing: my lovely cousin Lasse gave me Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, an American bestselling writer (whom I must confess I had not heard of before), in which she with great warmth and humour recounts tales of her life and writing, and gives tips & tricks as to how to tackle both. Your own life, of course, not hers, and your own writing, too.
When you have read a handful of books on writing, and of course the ’10 tips’ lists found here & there on the Internet, you begin to notice how several pieces of advice recur, often in slightly different wordings, but essentially the same. This is somehow comforting: it seems there is a plan, be it divine or not, writers do have certain traits in common, and some of the method is communicable.

And of course, listening is always an option: I finished Bleak House by Charles Dickens this week, with some relief over certain developments in the narrative – I can’t say which without spoiling hugely, so I will be silent on those points.
Bleak House is not bleak, though populated with persons in troubled circumstances; Dickens’ well-known social indignation shines through, but so does his knack for satirical and funny descriptions of characters large and small.
The Dickens biography by Claire Tomalin that I am also listening to is proving to be rather long-lasting; of course, with everybody home I have less listening time than when they are not – but the book does seem to want to include every detail of Dickens’ life and be rather verbose about them, too. I am sticking with it, though; at the point I am at (1842, I think), Dickens is being criticised for not being able to write female characters, so I have to consider what I think of the women in Bleak House.
Certainly Esther, the first person narrator – there are two voices in the book, Esther and an impersonal, omniscient third person narrator – is an example of the ever good, ever patient and humble and self-deprecating and generous and  [fill in the blank] little woman, to the point of being nauseating or at least annoyingly naïve. Still, I was relieved when her future was settled, so she must have evoked some sympathy in me, if not any desire to emulate.

Each morning, I read a chunk of Caesar; by now, I know the words and phrases for sending ambassadors, receiving hostages, engaging in combat, burning farms and villages, and other cheery pastimes, by heart.
In Book 6, he breaks off the narrative to play ethnographer, recounting the habits and institutions of the Gauls and the Germans; including the no doubt intended-to-be-chilling description of the huge tracts of forest covering most of Germania. In these forests live reindeer, elks, and aurochs, three otherwise unknown species. The description of elk hunting had me laughing out loud, much to the surprise of my surroundings.
You see, according to Caesar, elks resemble goats, but are larger, and have no joints in their legs, so they are unable to lie down, and if they fall over, they cannot get up again. Thus, they sleep standing up, leaning against certain trees; and when the hunters find those trees, they undermine or cut them so that they stay standing, but break and topple when next the elks lean on them, and the elks topple over as well and can be killed.
Bet you didn’t know that!
Of course, Caesar makes quite a point of the vastness and wildness of the woods, the ferocity of the aurochs, and thus of the people, repeating how they are big and strong and live on and for hunting and warfare – all in order to explain why Rome is not colonising the far side of the Rhine.

Well, this is it for this week – I have been typing two-handed this time, and now it is time to not overdo things.
I hope you have a lovely week; keep happy, keep healthy, keep crafting!

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