“Ein messesondag klar”

Ein messesondag klar
på gamle prestegård
Det var så fint å sjå
der gamle kirkje lå…







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February blues

The cold has finally come to Norway!!! And because I dislike wind on my face, I decided to knit a cowl: Jotunheim. Free pattern, anyone? 🙂

As you can see, dear reader, the light box produces its share of execrable photos. It does, however, make this blue — which is rather matte and blah in real life — look rich and lovely. Now, if only it could similarly transform the sport weight sock yarn into cashmere or 18 micron merino…


If you wondered where “Jotunheim” came from, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s latest: Norse Mythology, a retelling of some of the Norse myths. These are stories for reading out loud. For dark winter evenings and overcast days and too-long train trips. They are straightforward and tinged with tragedy as if the gods know that their adventures, no matter how much laughter and awe that they induce, will only lead them to Ragnarok.

On a musical note (pun totally intended), I’ve gone from The Clash to Antonio Caldara. This aria! And this aria! FROM AN ORATORIO ABOUT MEROVINGIANS! And then this whole cantata! I am quite convinced that one could await Ragnarok without worries or anxiety as long as one were not deprived of this music.

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Res nova

Hey there, dear reader! There’s no art here, none, nada! 😉 Instead, inspired by Hege, I’m here to write about knitting, music, and to a lesser extent my reading habits. There’s so much more than merely knitting to share with you and I hope that you’ll afford me the indulgence.

On the knitting front: a top-down Faroese shawl with shoulder shaping. The design is based on one I did a few years ago, the 17th of May shawl. That pentagon shape gave me the undeniable feeling of drowning in lace, and I mean that in a bad way. So the last few years have witnessed my attempts at a half-hexagon and a half-pi, and any assumption about my dissatisfaction with those shapes would be quite correct. Hopefully this iteration will be the last. It’s simple enough to have accompanied me so far through seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (over the course of which Odd-Even has become a grudging fan). Now onto seasons 6 and 7 — I’ve only got about 430 nupps left to go on the edging.


As for books, I haven’t excised fiction from my life entirely, but with the exception of my definite weakness for historical romances, my consumption of it consists almost exclusively of re-reading favourite novels from my adolescence and, of late, French comics acquired on Amazon — and what a goose chase it has been through their sites in the UK, USA, and Canada to find Le Château des Etoiles. The technical French put paid to my ambitions to translate it into Norwegian, but an English edition will be published in September. In the meantime, even if you don’t read French I’d recommend a long luxuriation in Alex Alice’s art.

And now, drum roll please, because I recently discovered The Clash. Right, you might say, so how does someone with my politics, music tastes, and access to the Internet spend 20 years knowing their name (vaguely, and often confused with The Who and The Cure and The Damned) but not their music? I’ve got no answer and no excuses, but they’ve been a soothing influence for the past 10 days. Such a description is perhaps paradoxical given that every run-through of the playlist necessitates Palestrina motets and masses to clear my head, but given the state of the truth these days, I feel no particular need to defend my contention that The Clash are both cacophonous and calming.

May the knitting gods be ever in your favour, and keep you from the frog pond.

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Hello, dear reader. I know that I’ve been posting a lot of art lately. Probably too much art. In fact, it’s definitely too much art, and it makes me wonder at my self-professed label of philistine. Nevertheless, I really wanted to share with you my latest discovery of the Dutch Baroque painter Quirijn van Brekelenkam (fl. 1648-1669).

Quiringh Gerritsz. van Brekelenkam 002


As Peter Paul Rubens’ Twitter feed provides the bulk of my exposure to art, I don’t know if in fact there might be a glut of similar scenes depicting men at the spinning wheel in the Golden Age. Accept my apologies for the wastage of space and time if you’ve already been inundated with such images from other sources.

I also follow NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and if you have ever entertained the idea of sewing professionally (and even if you haven’t), you might enjoy the story of “spacecraft dresser” Lien Pham, who works at the JPL. She started out as a lingerie seamstress for Olga and now makes thermal blankets to regulate spacecraft temperature!

Last but not least at all: it seems that “dictionary writer” and “knitter” might occupy that sweet spot at the intersection of a Venn diagram. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: A Ravel of Knitting Words, complete with photographs.

As for my own endeavours…last week I took a break to relieve my hands from the suffering that had ensued from that surfeit of socks on tiny needles — and discovered anew that one can survive 7 days without knitting a single stitch. I drafted charts for future projects and contemplated the future of the blog. All in all, a very inconspicuous end to January 2017.

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Industry and virtue

My industriousness has led to the production of a lot of socks recently. The sock yarn stash is steadily decreasing!





Also on the industriousness point, Dad helped me build a lightbox, pictures of which I will not regale you with here; suffice it to say that we were both surprised to discover that a contraption made of wax paper, cardboard, and a kilometer of packing tape works as well as it does. I’m still trying to get the hang of it, as the sock pictures attest, but here are some better pics of old projects in a new light (literally!).




Virtuousness has been rather more difficult, as this episode of the January blues has seen me window-shopping all over the Internet for BFL lace yarn — which might as well be a unicorn for all the success I’ve had in finding it. I have, however, thus far managed to abstain from any actual purchases.

Anyway, on a completely different note: back in the day, “industry” didn’t contain allusions to “CEO of a socially irresponsible company worth billions of ill-gotten dollars” and could be mentioned in the same breath as “virtue” without any irony. In medieval manuscripts, virtue and industry often went hand in hand with the spinning of yarn.

From the Royal Dutch Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek):

Clockwise from the top:

Annunciation of Christ’s Birth, KB, 76 F 14 fol. 36r
Adam and Eve, MMW, 10 B 34 fol. 3r
Spinning monkey, MMW, 10 F 50 fol. 46r
Woman winding wool, MMW, 10 A 11 fol. 235r
Calendar, October, KB, 76 F 13 fol. 10v
Woman spinning while riding a pig, MMW, 10 F 50 fol. 108v
Group of women spinning, MMW, 10 A 11 fol. 69v

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Beating back the Old Year

Clockwise from right:

From the Koninklijke Bibliotheek:
St Blaise, the patron saint of wool combers, about to be pierced by iron combs, KB, 76 F 2 fol. 260r

From the British Library:
Woman beating man with distaff, Additional 42130 f.60
Woman beating fox with distaff, Royal 10 E IV f. 49v
Woman hitting man with cards, Royal 10 E IV f. 142v
Woman chasing fox with distaff, Royal 2 B VII f. 158

Though I dearly long to “curse for ten minutes without repeating myself” at the Old Year as I kick it out the door, there’s a total lack of guarantees about 2017 that makes me hold my tongue. The pessimist in me refuses to discount the possibility that this year might bring us whirlwinds, heathen raiders, and fiery dragons.

Nevertheless, I must evince some optimism: this blog has survived for four years! On this day in 2013 I wrote the very first post. Some kind of celebration will be forthcoming in the near future, dear reader. In the meantime, let me simply wish you (a slightly belated) Happy New Year 🙂

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Be jubilant, my feet

You may yet remember, dear reader, my dislike of sock-knitting. I tend to knit them in spurts: best to get them all over with at once. However, for reasons that you can likely imagine — e.g. the state of democracy, weather, and the general crappiness of the latter half of 2016 — the monotony of stockinette socks really suits me now and as luck would have it the sock yarn stash really needs knitting down.

Over the course of the past month (since 2 December, to be precise) I’ve discovered that socks on 2 mm needles are substantially less awful than memory would have me believe, so I’m knitting all these pairs at a gauge of 9 sts per inch. Is it true that each stitch per inch corresponds to a year of hole-free wear? Ha. No. However, in the spirit of fake news, I will choose believe that outrageous claim because I want it to be true.


Odd-Even said, with utmost diplomatic style, “Maybe you should knit with fewer colours next time.”

I replied, “The yarn is dyed that way and comes off the ball in that order.”

Odd-Even: o.O

Apparently, it might not be such a great idea to trust “the professionals” with colour combinations any more than I trust myself. Speaking of which, here’s a big old fat Lesson Learned when it comes to buying sock yarn without any indication of how it knits up:


Faced with the usual leftovers, a blanket seemed the likely result although that idea sort of left me with WHY????? ringing in my head whenever I half-heartedly considered it. After all, I did my scrap yarn duty with Knoll and Tott’s granny square afghans, right? Right. So back to the pit of despair, which is where I go when I realize a stash of leftovers has accumulated with no magic wand to Evanesco! (The best I can do is bamboo, 7 inches, with a core of qiviut, but it can only work partial vanishing spells so for each 100 g of sock yarn it will vanish 75 g, thereby leaving 25 g to hang about with no aims or ambitions to become any sort of Work-In-Progress, much less Finished Object.)

Anyway, I managed climb out from the pit of despair and into the Ravelry forums instead, which led me to this thread and these projects. Now I’m already mixing and matching actual remnants with soon-to-be remnants with a view to scrap socks.


I also calculated that the total sock yarn stash weighs, as of now, about 1325 g. At 75 g a pair, that means 17 (and two-thirds) pairs of socks. Each pair takes about a week to knit. So, broadly speaking, I could knit nothing but socks until the end of April.

First thought: I can totally do that. Second thought: Do I really want to do that? Dear reader, you can surely guess my answer! But after further reflection I’ve concluded that there’s only one thing worse than slogging through seventeen pairs of socks, and it’s DARNING the thirty pairs in my drawer…

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