I know the country’s media has been full of ‘snow in the UK’ stories, but large parts of the country have been clear, and we’re one of them (the UK, in this context, appears to mean the south-east corner, extending up the east coast).
While it’s been comparatively warm here in Snowdonia – 10 degrees at one point – it’s also been damp. What a surprise.
I tried a walk, but though the colours were gorgeous, I got fed up with drips down the back of my neck and squishiness underfoot. Just the weather for lighting the stove, bunging an old film on the DVD and getting out your knitting. Only I can’t. Well, I can do the first two – but all I can do is knit about eight lines and then I have to put it away again. Doesn’t last a whole DVD.
So it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on one of my Christmas books. Hooray!
I’d already put my book orders in with my friends and family when I found Knitting Around the World by Lela Nargi, so I bought it for myself. I’m glad I did. I’ve found it fascinating (though debatable in places – but that’s part of the fun). It is also – and you have to bear in mind that I say this as an editor and writer myself – rather badly copy-edited, if it’s been anywhere near a copy editor at all. But that’s just a niggle.
I’ve not finished it – my readathon was interrupted by ancient tribal ritual*, plus I kept getting diverted – and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
The book is divided into regions of the world – and I do mean the world – with some historic or interesting patterns included, as well as pull-out features on particular people working with yarn, such as Françoise Dupré and Solveig Hisdal. Some are new to me, and I’ve found those parts particularly interesting.
And it is wonderfully illustrated – I should have made that clear at the start, instead of droning on about editing. Typical.
It’s great book to flick through, and that was what I had done until this weekend, and I’d enjoyed doing so. But I’d not really concentrated on it, given it a chance – I must admit that the editing errors had put me off a little – and actually read it properly. When I did, I noticed immediately that it kept sending me to other books and reference works, sparking me off in other directions, and for me that’s one of the marks of a good book.
It’s had this effect on other people too. Earlier, I’d taken it along to the January meeting of our branch of the GWSD, where it provoked a predictable debate on the relatively brief section about Welsh knitting. The caption for the photograph on the left suggests that the knitter is working on a sleeve – nah, it’s a long sock: general consensus. (Of course, we were all wearing stovepipe hats, aprons and shawls. It’s what we do at the Llyn Guild.)
In less local territory, I’ve been introduced many other delights. I now know more about Japanese knitting and scary Japanese patterns; I’ve learned more about the really, really ancient craft of nalbinding (there are some clear illustrations – you can see them on the left-hand page of the first spread above) and Greenlandic beaded wrist-warmers. I’ve been introduced to Turkish socks and the world of ‘utopian knitting’ – the Shakers and Mormons. I’ve discovered Icelandic shoe inserts through this book:
And aren’t they fabulous?
I can’t think of a better way of spending a wet weekend, given that I can’t knit or spin properly and wanted to do something woolly – though I suppose I could have done some housework instead. Hmm.
(*Ancient tribal ritual? The little matter of yelling at the TV during a certain rugby match.
I have to admit that I had to watch the end through the fabric of my polo neck, which I’d pulled up over my eyes. There are exciting matches and there are really exciting matches. And commiserations to any Irish readers – bechod…)