….and back! You didn’t think I’d disappeared again, did you? Yes? I’m sorry. I need to do something about that. Let’s just say I’ve been busy. There has been knitting!
Tomas #1 was on and off the needles in record time (3 days, I think), and despite the candy-cane striping of the Needlefood “Eat your greens” (I’m really going to miss Michelle), it looks and fit beautifully.
Tomas #1. A quick and fun knit...
There were mods… like a cinched toe (my new and personal favourite), Jeny’s stretchy cast on, and no cable needles… the only thing I didn’t do (which I have for Skellig below, and will for all my other socks this year) is the gusset decreases down the sole. Still kicking myself about that.
But I’m digressing. In order to stave off the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome, I picked up my Skellig socks (The Janel Laidman Kells pattern from her 2010 Sole Mates Sock Club), with what I initially thought were pretty scary cables. I was wrong. I loved the cables. They were fun. (I have always been a sucker for punishment, yes). So much fun that I’m even contemplating Eunny Jang’s Bayerische socks. Yes, I am serious. No, I don’t need my temperature taken, I’m perfectly fine, thank you. I finished Skellig #1 yesterday watching Test cricket, and One Day cricket (Isn’t Watto a good boy?), and some (huzzah!) Tour Down Under prologue event-type thing. This is what I ended up with:
Skellig, the front
There were mods for the toe, the gusset decreases, the number of stitches for the sole… I’ll put them on Ravelry when everything is done.
But I have a (mis-matched) pair of socks, and it’s just halfway through January!
Two socks, 16 days. And there was other knitting too...
There was other knitting. I’ve also finished the body and one sleeve of the Boulevard Zip in Bendi Cotton (Sepia)… and I should have the other sleeve done in the next few days. The GAAK will come in the setting of the zip. Eek! Not looking forward to that, but I am to wearing it! I’ve also cast off and blocked what will now be a very belated Christmas Present (as I am waiting for something from the US to arrive) – so more on that when it’s gifted, and I’ve started another birthday present in a pattern I said I’d do again, but on needles and at a gauge I swore I’d never do. And it may never see it’s recipient, I love it too much: I’ve taken leave of my senses and decided to make another Henry. This time in Bendi Luxury 4ply and 3.75mms (not 10ply and 5mm needles like last time). It looks good. Really good. Worth the effort. I’m going to be interested to see how it blocks out and drapes but I’m impressed. I did snag myself a ball of the 4ply Autumn Glow to make one for me, one day in the dim and distant future, and if this colour is anything to go by, a deep russet will be an absolute winner. Photos when I have some decent pattern repetitions to swoon over.
But it also hasn’t been all about the knitting. There has been some *gasp* relaxing. Switching the mind off. Blobbing. Yes. Blobbing. And when a dear friend says come over and blob on the deck with views like this, who am I to say no?!
What a lovely view to blob to...
And there has been reading. You were warned, now you have to pay the consequences. My thoughts and opinions. *cough cough*.
First up: Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay.
I love Kay’s work. The Fionavar Tapestry is still one of the best works of literature I’ve read. String Theory in all its fantastic glory. I loved it. Tigana and A Song for Arbonne too… Fascinating. The sheer detail of historic research done, and then the tale told just one step to the left of real history is highly entertaining. But I found I needed a good 6 chapters to get into Sailing. It concerned me, because usually with Kay, 3 pages and I’m hooked. This one was hard work to begin with. And even then, once I’d finished the book, I had to re-read the first chapter for the prologue to then make sense. But it was a page-turner by the end. It’s companion/resolution book, Lord of Emperors has duly been ordered and I look forward to finishing the story.
Second Up: W. B. Yeats: Poems selected by Seamus Heaney. I bought this book at the Daunt Books on Fulham Road in Chelsea while I was researching Blake and then Tolkien. It was a fantastic little shop that could have bankrupted me, just down from the best woodfired margarita pizza I’ve ever had (okay, maybe I need to head to Italy at some point, but all the chefs/pizzamakers/cooks were Italian first and foremost, that’s got to say something). But my head’s in the clouds again.
Poetry is a tricky subject to talk about. It is easy to read and enjoy because plays on the emotions. The poet has to convey the depth of emotion and back story to the reader with more brevity and constraint than the author of the novel or the short story (unless, of course you’re Tennyson *eyeroll* or Homer where you poem is an epic, and makes novels quail in the shadows. That’s not to demean Tennyson – many have done so for me – and in his defense I do know several of his poems by heart, so he can’t be all that bad). A good poet can tell you the story in a few lines, evoking emotion and memory with a suggestion of detail of place and time and tone. Good poetry has many layers of depth, and unlike novels and short stories, poetry collections can be dipped into as frequently as one desires without needing the commitment of finishing a tome to get the big picture.
I have a rather soft spot for Yeats. It began in my honours year when I took a paper on Irish Romanticism with an odd lecturer who’s method of teaching was to write the aims of the week’s lecture on the board at the beginning of the allocated 50-minutes, walk out, and come back 45 minutes later and ask us what we had come up with. Needless to say, he didn’t get the best review from us and didn’t get his contract renewed. But during that year of… oddness, we encountered Oisín for the first time, and at some point we needed to do an essay on an Irish poet, author or playwright, and I picked Yeats. Reading Yeats some 6 years and many theological, political, and classical tracts later, and not only do I find the poems have more depth and poignancy (for me), but the man could write lyrical poetry to make the Romantics and Classicists weep (big call, I may have to defend that position one day, but I stand by it).
This is a good collection, selected by one of Ireland’s other great poet-sons. But I quibble that some of Yeats’ greatest lyrical poems (Before the World was Made is an example of one I love but isn’t in this collection) are omitted… actually works from two of his collections aren’t even acknowledged or included in this collection, but we must remember that it is a selection by Heaney as editor. That’s not to say that it’s terrible to have left some poems out. Yeats’ poetry is masterful, and some of the images he conjures stay with you. Such as the opening sentence of Sailing to Byzantium: That is no country for old men.; and the concluding lines of The Circus Animals’ Desertion: Now that my ladder’s gone,/I must lie down where all the ladders start/In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart. And there are many more I really like: The Folly of Being Comforted, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, The Second Coming, What Then?, The Man and the Echo, The Coming of Wisdom with Time… they all make it into the edition – as well they should – but unfortunately his plays and prose don’t. I see an addition to library there…
Next up on my reading list: T. S. Eliot… I need to revisit The Wasteland and Four Quartets in particular. Far heavier reading that Yeats, but I look forward to it. His play The Murder in the Cathedral needs to be revisited again… Also Greene’s The End of the Affair is next on my book pile so there’s a great deal of depressing war lit to come. In my bag is currently Orwell’s Why I Write and Morris’ Useful Work verses Useless Toil. I really have taken to reading again with gusto. It’s great.
So onwards and upwards, and there may be tales of job-hunting and apartment-seeking in the not-too-distant future… In a place where all my millions of scarves and shawls and socks will come in very handy.
Until then, adieu!