i knit because i can ...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

busy doing nothing ...

Spent the day running on slow, trying to catch up on my rest and laundry! The joy of idling in bed finishing my book - Parky, Michael Parkinson's autobiography. What a wonderful life he has had, what wonderful people he has met. Plus he comes from Yorkshire, so he's a good bloke anyway!

Today is Kathy's (my second daughter) birthday - Happy Birthday, Kathy!! I am always staggered to look back on the birthday of one of my children - much more than my own - and realise how far they, and I, have come since they were born. I recall the long and often difficult years I struggled to give them all a decent life and education. Now it's over to them, while I enjoy my place in the sun. Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable about the fact I am not tearing myself out of bed at silly o'clock to get children off to school and myself to work. Then I tell myself I've earned the right to relax, and take out my book or my knitting!

The upbringing I received implanted a permanent fear of idleness, of not doing enough, of not being useful. If I came home with full marks for a French test, I was admonished for 'not getting any marks for good handwriting', even though such were not available. Unqualified praise was deemed to risk spoiling a child, by making her big-headed. If you did well, it was taken as read. If you did badly, woe betide. Only now am I beginning to clear away all that corrosive fear, and give myself some credit for my achievements, not least of which, for me in any event, is my four beautiful children and their children. And they themselves have helped me in that, through their love. So once again, Happy Birthday, Kathy.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

all good things ...

... come to an end! So now all grandchildren and parents have gone home, and I am left with as much time as I like to myself - so of course, I don't like! Human beings are so contrary, aren't they?

But I've had a great time, even if I am totally exhausted. Yesterday I was round the galleries with Finn's Irish grandfather, Dermot. He's an artist of no small talent, and came over with Jos and Lisa and Finn to see what's on show. Walking down New Bond Street, we were passing Sotheby's auction house. They were advertising viewing for their forthcoming sale of Impressionist paintings, and Dermot had the genial idea of going in for a look. Now I have been down New Bond Street past Sotheby's more times than I care to remember, and I would never have thought of going in.

But in we go, and first off the doorman is from Cahirceveen, so he and Dermot get to chatting like long lost brothers. Then we go round the viewing, and it's fantastic. Lots of unusual paintings, not the usual suspects at all. Bonnards that aren't 'Nude bathing', and Renoirs that aren't blowsy women. Plus lots of wonderful paintings from both well and lesser known Impressionists.

So the moral is? Sometimes it takes someone else to come along and shake one out of one's rut, make one do something different, to make the day. Thanks, Dermot. :)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

'My Princess'

Well, here at long last: more progress on my Princess Shawl. She's obviously not looking her best, because she's not blocked. But in my eyes, she's beautiful - still I'm not being boastful, it's just that Sharon's design is so fantastic. I find knitting the border somehow much easier than the edging - how weird is that??
Sadly, the really zinging colour (Gossamer CashSilk - Viola) doesn't show up to well in my lousy photos, but believe me, it's gorgeous. The yarn is a little unforgiving, because the silk in it makes it quite slippy - so dropping stitches is a nightmare, but tinking is easy - swings and roundabouts, eh what?! ;)

Princess Shawl: detail (unblocked):

Princess Shawl so far, edging and border (unblocked):

This weekend I am looking forward to a positive grandchildren-fest!! I shall be looking after Ellie while her parents are moving house, but I shall also see baby Finn, because his family is coming over so that Dad Jos can help with the move. And to cap it all, I am taking Ellie to visit Luke and family on Sunday. I am so-o-o-o-o excited! Until then, knitting and reading.

In fact, I have finished reading The Tale of Genji. It was a big read, and has taken for ever!!! and I'm generally a quick reader. But it really takes a lot of getting to grips with, so I sent for The Tale of Genji: A Reader's Guide, by William J. Puette to help me understand it. In fact, I am so taken with it, and yet so unsure of what I have read, that I think I'm going to order the E.G. Seidensticker translation to help me get to grips with it!! How's that for dedication?

Finally, if my Princess is my first beautiful thing, my second is my grandkids, and my third is The Tale of Genji, where do I put President Obama?

Well, I'm old enough to remember Kennedy's inauguration, and the massive swell of hope that it brought with it. I was still at school then, and it inspired me and my generation (the oft-maligned sixties baby-boomers) with a new and fresh idealism that outlived his early death, as well as those of his brother Robert and of Martin Luther King. And I can honestly say, this is the first time since the dashing of all those hopes by the dismal seventies and the cynical eighties, that I feel the stirring of real promise for a better future. So I say to those in the United States of America, well done! Hopefully we in the UK will soon be given the chance to make the same choice. I and many like me, including my children, who have hitherto been disaffected from politics, maybe because of the withering of OUR sixties dreams, look forward to a new era when the President of the United States sets the tone for world leaders in looking for real solutions to the problems of inequality both within and beyond our western democracies. All hail to the chief ....

Friday, 16 January 2009

Not much to report today, except that my mum is very pleased with her scarf, so has ordered another with the second ball, so now I am looking for another allover pattern, for variety.

My Princess is coming on quite well now, so I shall take pictures soon, when I feel there's enough to make it worthwhile showing it.

In the meantime, I persevere with The Tale of Genji. It does get easier as I go along, although it is still difficult, keeping track of all the characters. But I am enjoying it, in a strange way, when I can overcome my irritation at the place of women in that society. How much we women in western democracies have to be grateful, in spite of all their imperfections!

My special joy right now is the knowledge that in a week's time I shall see Ellie [second granddaughter, two and a half] and Finn [second grandson, 6 months]! :))))) [and their parents too, of course ;)]

Monday, 12 January 2009

beautiful, beautiful boy ...

Spent some time with my middle daughter and took a picture of my darling grandson Luke in the new Chinese silk pyjamas I brought back for him from Singapore. I know I have a grandmotherly bias, but he is a beautiful boy!

Have still no pictures of the cap shawl, because I haven't had time to block it yet. However, I do have a good excuse, sorry, reason. My mother acquired some white fluffy yarn, Sirdar Blur with kid mohair, very cheaply in a sale and asked me to make her a little scarf. The yarn arrived on Saturday, and I finished today, so here it is, a small thing, but mine own:

In addition I am reading The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese gentlewoman, writing in the 10th Century. Although interesting, it is not an easy read, not least because it is quite difficult to keep a handle on all the characters. But I persevere because it intrigues me, and gives such insight into its time and personae, i.e., ninth century Japanese aristocracy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Having been berated by one of my daughters (she knows who she is ... =[ ) for the lack of blog, I guess I'd better start up again. Had a great Christmas in Singapore with my stepson and his family.

It was my first ever hot Christmas. Walking on a sandy beach in 34°C being serenaded by 'Sleighbells ring, snows a-glistening' was more than a bit weird.

Singapore seems to make even more of a (commercial) fuss about Christmas than we do.

The most amazing thing I saw was this Christmas 'tree', made of red, white and green teddy bears.

The Christmas trees generally were pretty gob-smacking!

On Christmas day itself we went to the American Club and ate and drank ourselves silly from an immense buffet which in addition to traditional Christmas grub had several different roasts, as well as Chinese and Malay food, and a chocolate fountain. Then we repaired to someone's house for further celebrations, only going inside to be refreshed by the air-con, when it got too hot to stay outdoors, even in the shade! ;)

Another delight was our final two days at the Santoza resort hotel and spa. One morning we went for a walk down to the beach, then up to the Merlion, symbol of Singapore:

I then went for a fairly energetic swim in the spa pool. After a mudbath (mud imported specially from New Zealand) I put myself in the wonderful hands of a therapist for a two and a half hour massage which left me feeling so relaxed it was like having no bones. Then I ruined it all when we went to their gourmet restaurant for dinner!

In the meantime I continue to knit. Have nearly finished the cap shawl, but no photos right now, because my camera is sulking. Maybe tomorrow.