Monday, November 28, 2016

Wool gathering


Little to report. I owe too many e-mails, stocks are running low, there are still piles of leaves to rake in the garden, and in general I have left undone those things I ought to have done etc and there is no health in me. But we have lit the second fire of the winter, a warm dog and warm sofa is beckoning, the world is filled with woe but home is good, though it seems less important where it is.

I was asked what I thought about when knitting. It's rather hard to say; sometimes about the other things I ought to be up and doing instead of knitting, sometimes what I'm watching or listening to at the time. Just lately it's been this serialisation of this book, about girls and women acquiring the power to electrocute people at will. It's a bit good but I get the impression reading the review that the serialisation misses out quite a bit.

In fact I rather like this passage from Rose Tremain's Music and Silence (probably more my scene that speculative post-feminist dystopias really) set in 17th century Denmark, about the act of knitting, which I have posted here before but I don't suppose anyone remembers:

Queen Sophie, when she was young ... loved to be rowed in a little boat to this island and there sit in the sunshine and indulge in her secret passion for knitting.  This activity had been proscribed throughout the land as tending to induce in women an idle trance of mind, in which their proper thoughts would fly away and be replaced by fancy.  Men called this state 'wool gathering'.  That the wool itself could be fashioned into useful articles of haberdashery such as stockings or night bonnets made them no less superstitiously afraid of the knitting craze.  They believed that any knitted night bonnet might contain among its millions of stitches the longings of their wives that they could never satisfy and which in consequence would give them nightmares of the darkest kind.  The knitted stockings they feared yet more completely as the probable instruments of their own enfeeblement.  They imagined their feet becoming swollen and all the muscles of their legs beginning to grow weak.

'Wool gathering' seems like a good description of not only what is going on in my head when knitting but in my life much of the time. Could be worse.



(Old photo, again, posted before.)



5 comments:

Julia said...


I was impressed by all the knitting going on in Iceland
Impressed and inspired
I may indulge in a little guerrilla knitting but shh - do not tell :)

polish chick said...

this is the time to turn inward, to hibernate, to stick to the warm dogs and sofas. embrace it sans guilt.

Catalyst said...

Methinks the ladies know what they were(are) doing.

Roderick Robinson said...

Nice to be able to call up le mot juste (several of them, in fact) just like that. Many thanks.

Did I tell you I bought Rose Tremain's novel The Colour at Hay Festival, got her to sign it and asked what proportion of work on any novel was devoted to the draft and what proportion to revision. She told me charmingly but irrelevantly; her methods were those of a writer who gets paid for her stuff. Charming, nevertheless, very charming. Or am I being euphemistic?

Lucy said...

Thanks chaps.

Julia - I am glad you got to see some Icelandic knitting! I wanted to recommend the Handknitting Association shop to you but thought perhaps I was too late. It's just got frosty cold here in Brittany and I've put my lopipeysa on for the first time this winter, it's such bliss!

PC - it's odd, once winter's properly here I feel much happier, it's the transition time of autumn, though I love it for its beauty, which brings on the dark moods and apprehension. And I love fires and wool stuff, and warm dogs!

Catalyst - I've no idea if there really was such a ban on knitting in that time and place. There isn't enough fiction involving knitting, to my mind!

Robbie - I'd looked up the passage shortly before you asked the quesiton, and sent it to my niece in an e-mail. She's just got into a fairly obscure fibre craft called Tunisian crochet, a hybrid of knitting and crochet, but she does have a self-employed working life and was saying how she daren't take her latest project into work with her or she'll just keep picking it up and saying to herself 'just one more row...'. Rose Tremain wasn't answering your question was she? Rather annoying. Have you asked any other writers/novelists that question? Is it typical to be evasive and protective of their process, not wanting to give away too much about the mechanics of it, I wonder? Perhaps she's a bit embarrassed that she doesn't revise much, or too much, or relies on a very highly paid editor or something? I've not read 'The Colour', I enjoyed the 17th century ones so much it didn't appeal so much, but I may yet try it.