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Week 32: 17 – 23 August

9how32aIt’s nice to reach the second sleeve. The end is in sight – feels like forever – so you’re motivated just to put in the hard yards and get it done. This time I’ve been helped by a couple of factors.

First of all, England have finally beaten Australia at cricket – hurrah – and won back the Ashes, after a long, hard summer of 5 test matches. (As a true Kiwi I find myself reverting to type – as the old joke says, I support New Zealand and anyone playing Australia.) And even though the games were only live on satellite TV, which we don’t get, I was able to listen to the radio commentary and knit. As Nigel said, this is real thing when it comes to cricket, and it doesn’t come much better than beating the Aussies. Mwa ha ha ha.

9how31cSecondly, and it’s probably not a coincidence, I’ve rediscovered my love of Wagner, in particular his epic Ring cycle of 4 operas, a mere 15 hours of music. The astonishing thing about the Ring, not only did Wagner write both the text and music himself (and what music), but he used old legends to illustrate his thoughts on the nature of human society and human nature. So the Ring is, in one sense, a portrayal of the world, from creation to dissolution. (To give one example of the originality of Wagner’s thinking: he devised his own creation myth, to get the cycle underway; but in it he portrayed the gods as morally corrupt, “mired in sleaze” as the saying is, requiring human beings to renew the world and offer a hope of redemption. Usually it’s the other way round.)

And of course, Tolkien, despite his denials, nicked a crucial part of his mythology from Wagner, and not from the old stories, as he claimed… (Can anyone guess what it was?) “They both have a ring in them and it’s round” was, I think, his rather testy (and disingenuous) rejection of the suggestion.

Thirdly I’ve been listening to Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel “Anathem” as an audiobook while I knit, which has got me hooked, even though I know I’m not getting all the implications. It’s pretty heavy going at times, but at least (unlike Wagner) it’s got some good jokes.

9how32bSo lots to keep me entertained while I put my feet up and knit, as the rain hammers on the roof and the howling wind rattles the windows, in what passes for summer up here. All of which explains the dramatic progress of the last few days, and the euphoria that follows the realisation that I will never, never have to knit a row of this soul-destroying pattern ever again. (Yes, all right Suzanne, I admit it, you were right! Woody Allen has a character in one of his stories who falls out of a box at the opera and lands on his head; rather than admit it was a mistake, he goes back every night and repeats it to make it look like it was deliberate… In some ways that’s not a bad metaphor for me and this pullover.)

And I’m already thinking ahead to what I can tackle next – something Scottish, of course. Something to keep out the rain…

4 comments to Week 32: 17 – 23 August

  • Suzanne

    The sad fact of the matter is that tedious knitting very often yields a more harmonious result than advanced acrobatics involving cables and lace. This is a truth that has only just dawned and, given that I am a total junkie for the mind-bendingly complex, has brought my knitting to a grinding halt. As the late summer morning air shifts to downright chilly, I am eyeing the two hanks of Wingham 5-ply slated for Staithes, and wondering what I am going to do… Your gansey is looking very nice!

  • Hi Suzanne,

    I realised a curious thing about this pullover recently, or rather my attitude towards it. I think it has come to symbolise a pretty grim period in my life – losing my job, having to relocate and leave a nice house and friend, starting a stressful new job (in a new country), finding somewhere to live – and as a result it will always remind me of that. So I’m kind of hoping I can “download” all my bad memories and feelings into the jumper, and put them behind me – a bit like a Harry Potter “pensieve”. Which is why I probably won’t keep the finished article, and why I’m so keen to finish it now. Ganseys as therapy!


  • =Tamar

    Do as you will, of course, but it might be possible to have the gansey symbolize triumph over the grim.

  • Hi Tamar, there’s plenty more grimness out there before I can call it a triumph, but I see what you mean. DH Lawrence titled one of his collections of poems “Look! We Have Come Through”, and there’s an element of that in what you say (though one critic rather unkindly commented, “They may have come through, but why should we look?”)