Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Swallowtail Summer

I'm back. I took this photograph at the station on the way home.
I expect a lot of people don't know how to pronounce 'Kingussie', let alone its Gaelic original. It's Kin-yoossie. The photograph is a good example of how I take a photograph of something (the sign) and then discover there's something very large and visible in it which I hadn't noticed (the big yellow steps). Maybe they use them to help people get on to the train. When I was little I was terrified of getting on trains and always thought I was going to vanish down the space between the train and the platform. I was an easy-going child, easily diverted by food or the promise of it, but I kicked up Dublin about getting on and off trains and usually insisted on being carried or lifted. I was pretty unhappy about bridges too, especially the sort you can see through and I have been known to stop, petrified, at some. Like this one.

Click on the photo (thanks, Wikipedia Commons) and you'll see the bridge. It's a tiny little suspension bridge, designed by Sir John Fowler who went on to be one of the designers of the Forth Rail Bridge, and it sways over Corrieshalloch Gorge, part of the Great Glen fault which runs across Scotland, 150-200 feet above the ground. A kind boyfriend once drove me there at my request, only for me to take one look at it and get back in the car saying, 'Well, I'm not walking over that.' He managed to keep a straight face, bless him. My horror of bridges, along with other manifestations of vertigo, faded in early adulthood, to return with a vengeance when I was around 30 and half way up the inside of a lighthouse.

Like a lot of phobics, I am curiously attracted to the object of my fear and I have had nasty turns in all sorts of places, not least Barcelona, where sheer stubbornness enabled me to walk around the roof of La Pedrera without vomiting, but nothing in the world could get me past the first floor of the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi must have had the opposite of vertigo, a positive love of heights and spaces. Some of his buildings make me feel swoony while I'm standing on the ground.

Anyway. I had a good time with my friends in the north, and actually knitted quite a lot of the Swallowtail Shawl, even on the train.These photographs still make the colours far too blue; the dark colour is a deep sea blue and the pale is a heavenly turquoise. I found the second colour much nicer to work with; I know this doesn't make any sense and I bought them both from the same seller, but the turquoise is springier, stronger and softer. I found the lily of the valley pattern much easier than I expected and the nupps were a dawdle; in fact the only difficult row was the first one after the lily of the valley, when I was trying to place the final pattern. I think I had mislaid a stitch near the beginning and I couldn't get the patterns aligned. I've done a couple of extra repeats of that to make longer, pointier points. I'm not going to use beads because the beads I thought I might use are too small, but I might finish with a couple of rows of the dark colour again, to bring it together. What do you think?

One of the joys of the Malabrigo is that it already shows the pattern quite clearly. Presumably this is because it's so loosely spun. Although I found this pattern much easier than I expected, I haven't fallen in love with it. It hasn't possessed me, and I haven't constantly imagined doing it in other yarns or different colours. I probably won't knit it again, but I am already itching to get on with the baby's Forest Canopy: the yarn for that should arrive at the weekend.

When I was in the country I kept thinking that it looked as if it were much later in the year: everything was very green and overgrown, as if it were harvest time rather than late spring/ early summer. This is presumably because of the milder weather and heavier rain that we have now. We never seem to have drizzle nowadays, just downpours. My cousin Dave lives in Columbus, Indiana and he has been emailing me about the floods. He's lucky, his house is on high ground, but hundreds of people have been made homeless and the hospital will be out of use for at least two months - and of course it's worse in Iowa. It's like the floods we had last year in Gloucestershire and so on, taking place in areas which have never been a flood risk so people have no insurance. At risk of being pompous, I can't help thinking that if we all turned off a couple of lights, turned the heating down and the refrigerator up, it would help in the long run.


Knitting Linguist said...

Not pompous at all -- just sensible. If only everyone thought so! The shawl is looking absolutely gorgeous, and I love the colors (blues, blues, cool blues). I'm glad you had a good trip, and I love the Gaelic names! (Yup, that would be the linguist in me; I have some colleagues in endangered languages who work on the Celtic side of things.)

Lee said...

I'm not sure that mine rises to full on phobia, but I have a similar reaction to heights. I can even get a bit queasy on ladders.

Your feeling about the difference in the yarns actually does make sense. Dyes are made up of different stuff (for lack of a better word), and these can have different effects on fibers (sometimes even to the extent of slight changes in gauge).

cheesehead with sticks said...

Oh my - I wouldn't have placed one foot on that bridge either! It's scary enough just looking at the photo!