If you saw December's three short posts relating to Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods - they featured works by Angie Lewin, Angela Harding, and Janet Johnson - you may like to know that Janet has a new website which you can find here. Her paintings of snow are particularly 'topical' as Britain has been having very wintry weather for the time of year, and as I write more snow is forecast for the end of the week!
We've been using Marius Fabre liquid soap (alternating with the Finnish stuff) for a year and more now, and I do recommend it - it lasts a long time and the fragrances are lovely. The bars have been in use for many months, too, but not in the conventional way; I took a tip from Bois de Jasmin and put them in the linen cupboard where (even still tightly wrapped) they scent the sheets beautifully.
Still on the subject of music, if you're in the mood for something joyful, may I offer you the above performed by Edinburgh's own Dunedin Consort conducted by John Butt (and I suggest listening closely to Matthew Brook's bass part). For the significance to the piece of the number three, click here.
For more from the Dunedin Consort have a look at these videos - we had the benefit of John Butt's erudition at an excellent evening a couple of years ago so I can tell you he is well worth listening to.
My thanks again to Rosie for flagging up Eric Whitacre's Cloudburst, a piece I hadn't come across before; to hear it, follow the link in Rosie's comment here.
"My only purpose in this book was for me, as a music lover, to have a discussion of music with the musician Seiji Ozawa that was as open and honest as possible. I simply wanted to bring out the ways that each of us (though on vastly different levels) is dedicated to music." Haruki Murakami's passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books. Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfills a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk about their shared interest. Transcribed from lengthy conversations about the nature of music and writing, here they discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more. Ultimately this book gives readers an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.'
The snails have made a garden of green lace: broderie anglaise from the cabbages, chantilly from the choux-fleurs, tiny veils- I see already that I lift the blind upon a woman's wardrobe of the mind.
Such female whimsy floats about me like a kind of tulle, a flimsy mesh, while feet in gumboots pace the rectangles- garden abstracted, geometry awash- an unknown theorem argued in green ink, dropped in the bath. Euclid in glorious chlorophyll, half drunk.
I none too sober slipping in the mud where rigged with guys of rain the clothes-reel gauche as the rangy skeleton of some gaunt delicate spidery mute is pitched as if listening; while hung from one thin rib a silver web- its infant, skeletal, diminutive, now sagged with sequins, pulled ellipsoid, glistening.
I suffer shame in all these images. The garden is primeval, Giovanni in soggy denim squelches by my hub, over his ruin shakes a doleful head. But he so beautiful and diademed, his long Italian hands so wrung with rain I find his ache exists beyond my rim and almost weep to see a broken man made subject to my whim.
O choir him, birds, and let him come to rest within this beauty as one rests in love, till pears upon the bough encrusted with small snails as pale as pearls hang golden in a heart that know tears are a part of love.
And choir me too to keep my heart a size larger than seeing, unseduced by each bright glimpse of beauty striking like a bell, so that the whole may toll, its meaning shine clear of the myriad images that still- do what I will-encumber its pure line.
Purely by chance, all things Irish converged in these socks: the pattern is called Dublin Bay, the wool is Cork-based Hedgehog Fibres' Sock Yarn ('Wish'), and I finished them on St. Patrick's Day. In real life the colour is more peacock green than emerald, and it's richer than the picture suggests. That said, gallons of dye came out when I washed them and I fear there's more to come next time, so be aware of that should you choose this yarn.
This was a straightforward knit, and a good one to try if you're prone to getting little holes at the 'corners' when you pick up the heel stitches because you knit into the openwork section on both sides so any gap becomes a design feature! My project notes are here.
In Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum on Saturday I saw a display of ceramics (owned by Friends and staff of the museum, and of sentimental value to them) repaired using the kintsugi technique during a residency by visiting artist-craftsmen Muneaki Shimode and Takahiko Sato from Kyoto.
Unlike western methods of ceramic mending which aim to be as invisible as possible, kintsugi uses lacquer and gold powder to highlight joins and chips and to make things whole again while 'celebrating', in a way, their inherent fragility and imperfections.
Each piece was accompanied by a very personal caption - as you see above.
"In the lovely Estonian town of Viljandi there lives a young artist by the name of Kristi Jōeste who has knitted hundreds of pairs of exquisite gloves. [...]
Every knitter and every glove has a story to tell.
Museums have preserved many wondrous old gloves but very few stories. [...]
Kristi Jōeste invited her childhood friend, the well-known Estonian writer Kristiina Ehin, to write the stories.
And so this isn't by any means a typical handicraft book.
In this book art meets literature in two creative women, one who expresses herself by means of knitting and the other by means of words.
Kristi Jōeste's lively use of patterns from Estonian folk art, her carefully chosen colours and tight weave as it was done centuries ago are compelling in their perfection.
Kristiina Ehin's sensitive and imaginative stories about Estonian women who knitted invite us to travel with her in our thoughts to the times when a magical world of glove patterns was created in the grey day-to-day of nearly every farmhouse."
I'm reading Ornamented Journey by Kristi Jōeste and Kristiina Ehin, from which the above is the introduction. It's not a book of patterns, although there are instructions for some of the techniques involved in the designs, but you could adapt the designs to patterns you already have - should you not wish to knit at the gauge of some of the work shown: e.g. one-ply yarn on 0.7mm (US 000000) needles, 172 stitches around the hand!
The book tells us that gloves accompanied Estonian people throughout their lives, and patterned gloves were believed to increase good fortune and keep evil at bay, which is no doubt why such skill and artistry went into their making. The gloves, mittens and wrist warmers shown involve various techniques such as embroidery, appliqué, entrelac, Roositud inlay, beading, and colourwork, and all are beautiful. The stories - I'm in the midst of them now - complement them perfectly.
Lastly, a word on where to find the book. I put it in my basket at Loop's online shop and took it out again when I discovered how much the postage would be. You can get it from the publisher, Saara, via Amazon which is what I did; the postage was very reasonable and it took a week to get here. I've since discovered that you can order directly from Saara where the book is cheaper, but I can't speak to the cost of delivery. They also sell yarn, needles, kits, and other bits and pieces.
When Blacker Yarns released their limited edition Cornish Tin to mark their 10th. birthday, I managed to get some of the 4 ply in Botallack Blue. It's a blend of ten fibres: alpaca, mohair, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Texel, English Merino, Falklands Merino, and Gotland/Romney Cross, and teamed with some Blacker Classic for contrast heels and toes, it has made a sturdy, warm pair of socks. I like the woolliness of these socks, their dense fabric (56 stitches on a 2.25mm needle), and the way the mix of fibres takes the dye and adds depth to the colour.