Thursday, 25 March 2010

Gretel Beret

I have some new headgear to keep my brain warm while it strains to produce historical thoughts - Ysolda's Gretel beret, from my seemingly never-ending stash of Fyberspates Scrumptious DK.

Don't look too closely at the shameful glimpses of backpack in the two photos above, though I must admit, it has proved invaluable on the long walk to the archive. 

For the third time (after my Liesl and Crofter's Cowl), this yarn was blissful to knit - barely spun, slippery-soft udon noodles of silk and merino. It was surprisingly easy to cable without a cable needle, and I think the glisten of the silk content  throws the lattice motif into relief.

As with all of Ysolda's designs, this is an extremely well produced pattern. My only minor quibble is that the symbols she uses for cables are a little unorthodox; I found them rather confusing, and for once worked from the written instructions.

It's not easy taking photos of the back of your head...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Genoa: S. Lorenzo Cathedral

I have finished a hat, but it was so miserable and rainy today that I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to whip out my gorilla pod and strike a pose. Instead, here are some photos of Genoa's S. Lorenzo Cathedral. It has been likened to 'a giant humbug'...

The image on the bottom right shows what appears to be a small dog carved into the space between two spindly columns, on the right side of the façade. Someone told me a story about it which I have now entirely forgotten, but I expect it was something along the lines of Greyfriar's Bobby, or, for that matter, Hachiko, whose bronze likeness surveys Shibuya station, near my childhood home in Tokyo. These canines are pretty clever at getting themselves immortalised, it seems to me.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Genoa: Porto Antico

Genoa in general, and its port in particular, used to have a distinctly unsavoury reputation. It spruced itself up considerably, though, in 1992 to celebrate the quincentenary of sometime inhabitant of the city Christopher Columbus' 'discovery' of America, and again in 2004 when it was designated European City of Culture. Today the Porto Antico  is rather a nice place to take a stroll, as I did today. 

Clockwise from bottom left: Aquarium and Neptune's Galley (apparently used in Roman Polanski's 1986 film Pirates); Prawns on sale next to the port; the port, taken from up the hill at Righi, with the symbolic Lanterna (lighthouse) in the middle; Renzo Piano's Bigo; detail of aforementioned Neptune's Galley

Though most commercial activity takes place elsewhere now, Genoa's bond with the sea is still evident here in physical form, as well as in popular culture, such as the wistful song 'Da a me riva' by Genoese singer-songwriter Fabrizio de André. I can't seem to find an English translation of the Genoese dialect on the whole of the internet, so have attempted my own (please feel free to correct any infelicities, or wrong bits):

From my shore
only your white handkerchief
from my shore
in my life
your bitter smile
in my life
excuse the lump in my throat
but I am thinking of you against the sun
and I know you are looking at the sea
just off the coast of pain
and I am here, in front of
this sailor's trunk
and I am here looking at
three velvet shirts
two blankets and a mandolin
and a hardwood inkpot
and a photo of you as a girl
in a black beret
to be able to kiss Genoa once more
on your mothballed mouth.

Isn't 'naftalina' a far prettier word for mothballs than mothball?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


Myself, my knitting, and one ugly but undeniably useful new backpack have been transplanted to Genoa, on the hunt for history. I might blog a little bit about the city while I'm here, as I think it is unfairly underrepresented in current travel literature about Italy.

Yeuch. I can't decide whether this piece of dorsal apparatus makes me feel like I'm 14 and on my way to French or I'm 30 and on my way to a job in a computer magazine.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Body of a King(scot)

I have finally finished the body of Kingscot. I was rather worried that, despite my careful swatching, this was going to be a disastrous fit, but thankfully it seems to have worked out alright. I plan to work the sleeves top down for to make this completely seamless (hooray!). Now my only doubt is which vintage buttons to choose - the chunky pearls, which echo the bobbles quite nicely, or the sparkly glass ones, which proved tricky to photograph. 

Monday, 8 March 2010

Slow Scarf Success

I have been making creeping progress with my Alhambra scarf. The pattern is not thrilling, but it is satisfying in a geometric way to watch the yarn overs and decreases curl apart and curve back together. Since I memorised the lace pattern, I can easily pluck it out of my bag to work on it in snatched moments waiting to get somewhere, waiting for people to arrive, or waiting to go onstage, such as here, in the peculiar Green Room-cum-nursery we used for the Vagina Monologues.

All of those moments have added up over two feet of scarf.

The last scarf I made was right at the beginning of my knitting career, and was an agonising 2x2 rib that so tested my newly acquired skills it made me want to garrotte myself with it. This is an altogether more mellow experience, partly because it is probably for myself (I am not sure it is a good colour on me, so it may end up around the neck of a more autumnal friend) or at least does not have a deadline, and partly because, well, I have just got better at knitting since then. It is nice to feel I am making progress over all in this craft, even if the foolish mistakes I still make sometimes obscure this fact. It is also nice not to have to worry overly about gauge - as long as I end up with a rectangle long enough to wrap around my neck who cares about the exact dimensions? Talking of gauge and mistakes, I have another tale of woe to blog about soon, but for now I think I shall just revel in simple, forgiving scarf-making.

Monday, 1 March 2010

We have a winner...

I entered all of the comments I received on my blogiversary giveaway post into the random number generator online, and the winner is....

Katiepops! Here is her entry - I entirely sympathise with her difficulty in choosing just one song:
Every single mixtape I made had Olivers Army by Elvis Costello on it ... there was just something about the angst and passion in his voice that made it the best song EVER, and it was just MY song! If I was making a mixtape now, there would be so many songs that have to go on it ... Oh Lately It's So Quiet by OK GO - soft, romantic, spinetinglingly wonderful ... Hey Ya by Outkast - fabulously retro cool and funky ... and of course Andre 3000s bare chest and six pack on drums - yum! ... See The Sun by The Kooks - just something about that song that always makes me think of one of my friends. Actually there are so many songs that I would *have* to put on a mixtape that in fact the whole tape would be made of must-haves.

Katiepops, please could you email me at (yes, my predilection for bad puns extends to my email address) with your postal address, and I shall post your mixtape-y package out to you as soon as possible.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the competition, and removed the need for me to get my mum to comment repeatedly under a variety of assumed names to avoid me looking like a loser. I have relished reading every one of your entries - I think I could make a super-deluxe mixtape with all of those gems. This has been so much fun that I am already dreaming of future giveaways, so I do hope you will keep reading.
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