12 December 2008

reading, knitting, and me

I've been so distracted with one thing or another lately that I have neglected several blog topics: reading, knitting, and me. So, no political screeds or Jeremiads today, just a little reading, a little knitting, and little me.

Carlyle's House and Other Sketches by Virginia Woolf. These are early "passionate apprentice"-stage pieces that never were published, or even transcribed from her early notebooks until a few years ago. They are rough sketches, very rough if compared to The Common Reader, or the mature perfection of A Room of One's Own. And yet, Woolf's sensibility is evident, as in an imagined moment between Thomas and Jane Carlyle: "Did one always feel a coldness between them? The only connection the flash of the intellect. I imagine so." Or, a character study of Miss Reeves, lover of H.G.Wells: "She seemed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid."

Any Modern Reader (however common) must recoil from the short essay, "Jews," a brief portrait of one Mrs. Loeb. "It seemed as though she wished to ingratiate herself with her guests and expected to be kicked by them...Her food, of course, swam in oil and was nasty." Her ostentatious kindness to poor relations is designed to acquire for them "the society of men and marriage. It seemed very elementary, very little disguised, and very unpleasant." Anti-semintism amongst the genteel of her time was common, indeed, but this Jewess wonders why a sketch of one woman was presented - albeit only in the notebook - as a description of "Jews."

Doris Lessing, in her introduction, writes, "We all wish our idols and exemplars were perfect; a pity she was such a wasp, such a snob - and all of the rest of it, but love has to be warts and all." Amen to that.

I haven't been very productive lately. I've only finished a couple of face cloths and one little crossover scarf. After a blissful reread (via audiobook) of To the Lighthouse (do you sense a trend?), I developed a passionate desire for a green shawl. I spent two of the three weeks of my convalescence swatching the forest-green worsted from my stash, and came up with nothing pleasing. Now I'm thinking of a simple basketweave stitch with a moss border. Yes, that may do.
(Note: when I say "shawl," I mean rectangular wrap - better coverage to keep my poor, battered lungs protected, and now down-arrow in the back calling attention to my - lower back.

Right now I'm knitting a simple, long, slim scarf from fingering yarn that gave me such trouble when I knitted one sock out of it, and when I swatched for a lacy scarf, that I actually threw it away. I thought better of it, rescued it, and substituted texture (the Harlot's one-row stitch) for delicacy. Voila! Perfect.

Reading and knitting
I have joined (as co-moderator) the new Ravelry group for lovers of Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury. (Do you sense a trend?) This group has promise. Next month, I shall moderate a readalong in the Pen Fetish group, which has voted to read Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks. We pen folk will take to this account of the Brooks as she tracks down and meets childhood pen friends, I'm certain, just as we have taken to deep and detailed discussions of nibs and Noodler's ink.

All of the above, plus an XF nib. Or several.


Carrie K said...

I didn't know Geraldine Brooks had written a new book. (Hopefully that's new).

Sad to see the prejudices of the past. I wonder what future generations will think of us? Nothing that we're aware of, no doubt.

Rectangular green shawl sounds like the perfect antidote.

Stacey said...

You and I sound like we are in the same uninspired knitting funk. Hoping to get some this afternoon yet and get these things completed that are on my list. You shawl does sound cozy though I will have to see if you have it on your Ravelry page.

Thanks for the ink stained hands being a "badge of honor" that is the perfect description.

Enjoyed your update and your lates reads.

Stefanie said...

Hmm, I think I do see a trend there. I think I have read Carlyle's house but I can't remember. How sad is that?!

KSD said...

I've always liked the word "Jewess." But then, I like so many things Jewish. . .

Using sock yarn for anything but socks is a particular pleasure of mine. . .

KnittingReader said...

Thank you so much for the Virginia Woolf inspiration. Mrs. Dalloway has been my favorite book since I was 12 or 13, but I really need to expand my horizon. (I didn't care for To the Lighthouse when I read it 10 or so years ago.) I also adore Doris Lessing, which makes my even more eager to renew my adoration of V. Woolf.

I love knitting shawls but absolutely cannot wear the pointed type. I can't wait to see how your dreams of a green shawl become expressed.

And I will join your Ravelry groups. I have to keep away from there tonight as I must make progress on my gift knitting. (I hate deadlines!)

teabird said...

Thanks for the pattern, Stacey!

Roggey said...

I'm looking forward to our group read of "Foreign Correspondence!"