More vintage knitting patterns

knitting mag 4

Has anyone else heard of the “S-stripe”? According to the pattern, that is what’s on the front of the sweater on the left. I had no idea such a thing existed. Those colors are a little bright for me, though, and the headbands would make me feel like a shepherd in a Christmas pageant, so I will not try to reproduce this look.

The ensemble on the right, however…I wouldn’t wear it all at once, partly because my daughter would refuse to get in the car with me until I took it off, but I would definitely wear the blouse by itself, or the hat. I think I would also wear the sweater with a navy pleated skirt, but only with my hair in a Moomintroll style topknot.

This may just indicate that I need help; if any friends reading this would like to send sad pictures of me to one of those makeover shows, be my guest. I think I’m beyond the reach of Oprah.

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Happy birthday to Miss Emily Eden

NPG 6455; Emily Eden by Simon Jacques Rochard

She would have insisted on the “Miss.” Emily Eden was an English writer and traveler, and a remarkable and talented woman. She traveled to India when she was quite young (her brother was Governor-General there); her letters about her travels was later published in Up the Country. She is also the author of two very funny novels that I read whenever I’m in a really bad mood: The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House. She can be obnoxious, with all the prejudices of a 19th century aristocrat, but she creates wonderful characters, and she is never, ever, ever boring.

Her favorite novelist was Jane Austen, and it shows, although there’s a bit of Charles Dickens lurking in Semi-Detached.

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Her portrait is courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, and is offered for limited, non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.

The vanishing world of ice

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“Vanishing Ice,” the exhibit at the Whatcom History Museum, has been extended until March 16. I saw it on Friday, because I love looking at things that people classify as art and had a mournful feeling that I should learn more about climate change. I was a little sad that many of the paintings are reproductions, but as soon as I got there I was so overwhelmed by the images of the ice that I barely paid attention to anything else. Two of my favorite children’s books are The Golden Compass and East (a novel based on the Norwegian story East of the Sun and West of the Moon), and I loved the evil snow queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All my fantasy landscapes are encrusted with snow, ornamented with fur and reindeer bone, and infested with wolves.

Here is the beautiful ice: I loved Len Jenshel’s Narsaq Sound, Greenland, and Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, East Greenland, by Camille Seaman. I also liked Beechey’s illustration of the HMS Hecla in Baffin Bay, and Paraselene an illustration from Scott’s last 1912 expedition. The illustrator, Dr. Edward Wilson, died on that expedition along with Robert Scott. Ice Lens, by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, is also lovely, although I hope they at least send a Christmas card or something to Andy Goldsworthy).

Tiina Itkonen photographed Uummannaq, the village I would like to live in, proving that I am completely mad.

I did, however, find Chris Linder’s photograph of the melting Siberian permafrost at Duvannyi Yar pretty distressing. Frank Hurley’s photograph of Shackleton’s boat trapped in the ice at night is awesome, in the oldest sense of the word – it’s the livid ghost of a tragedy. And Chris Jordan’s Denali Denial is both witty and despairing, the picture that pulled me out of my icy dream.

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The icy dream at the top of the post is not from the exhibition; it’s a photograph provided by dmdzine under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license. Thank you.

Entropy vs. the thumbtack

Well, moving on…
Yes, I could teach workshops on firmly repressing your feelings.
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I was surprised that Rebecca likes this corkboard covered with odd things. It is so not her – she’s very tidy.

Unfortunately, like many people who make things out of recycled materials, I like to have them out where I can see and brood over them, with predictably cluttered results. Here, among other things, I have old wooden spools; wrapped in multicolored thread, they’re….spools wrapped in multicolored thread. But they’re cute! I’ve given them as Christmas ornaments to people who either liked them a lot or are excellent actors. Jane liked hers.

The picture of the cat wearing a head scarf is something my daughter won (plus a cookie) at the Islander store. The other postcards, with the rustically posed trees, are from the town in northern Minnesota where my mom was from. I’m not about to use them in a collage; I just like to look at them sometimes.

There are various supplies in bags – embroidery thread, flowered beads from a broken necklace (a gift from my daughter’s friend :( very sad), and silver buttons and hooks from a Norwegian sweater.

There’s a felted tag I embroidered, to the best of my ability; my daughter used to wear it on her backpack. Now she hates it, but she loves the ruffled scarf that she hated a year ago when I knitted it…mothers get used to these things.

There’s a silver vial on a chain that I hope held something exotic or dangerous, and two medals belonging to my uncle by marriage, Josef Hrabek. I was told that they were Russian, Tsarist-era medals, but someone who sells these things on Ebay told me they were actually Polish. I should have known, because I can sort of read one, about St. Michael, so they’re not in Cyrillic. Strangely, I love this evidence of their unreliability. As I said in one of the captions, that side of my family was apparently full of compulsive liars, or storytellers. My mother’s family also abounded with storytellers, but they didn’t expect you to believe them.

Someday, I’ll tell you about the bootlegging. And the baby beauty contest.

February 21: Happy birthday, Mr. Auden

"Landscape with The Fall of Icarus", ca. 1590-95, by Pieter Breugel the Elder

“Landscape with The Fall of Icarus”, ca. 1590-95, by Pieter Breugel the Elder

In celebration, here is Wystan Hugh Auden‘s poem about Breugel’s painting (above).

Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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“Musée des Beaux Arts” is my favorite of Auden’s poems; I’m suppose it’s almost everybody’s favorite (if they read him), but I love it dearly so I won’t pretend to be original. It has everything I need – poetry, painting, death and survival. That first line has been stuck in my head forever.

Click here for a much larger version of the painting. The Breugel images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.