Thursday, 23 October 2014

Restless reading

When we were all still living under the same roof, I was impressed by the way my sister read books: by stack. What's the point of reading Proust, after all, if you don't carry more than one volume of the Recherché with you? At least, as a reference tool, to remember what good old Marcel was ranting about 400 pages before.
She seemed to apply the same methodology to pretty much any kind of literature: from fantasy to Kundera via King, the Adri in my memory has always more than one book with her. And she leaves books scattered around the flat, open at the page she arrived to.
I didn't know how she could do it, I found it extremely distracting. Plus I didn't want any crease to form on my books, so the notions of leaving books over the sofa, on the table, on the heaters, etc. was not that appealing to me.

Things have changed recently. I blame it on the lack of decent bookshelves: I already told myself I was going to get a decent book case hundreds of time, but I keep postponing the purchase. There's always something more interesting to do on the weekend: like reading a book, for example.
Situation has worsened in the past months and now the space in the flat assigned to the books is in utter chaos.
I blame Murakami too. After finishing reading his latest novel, I found myself unable to be linear in my readings: I seem unable to start and finish a novel in a straightforward line.
I start reading a book, then I put it aside.
Open another book, read few lines, leave it on the bed to get tangled with the sheets and be found again only when I change them.
Start re-reading a childhood book, forget it in the office drawer for a whole month, while wondering at the same time where I left it.
I jump from novel to short story, unable to focus on more than 2 chapters in a row.

Some months ago I'd find this whole situation deeply unsettling. I would have probably headed straight to Ikea to get a decent bookcase. However, not only I got better things to do in my spare time now, but I also don't want to change things. I don't want to get the shelves, because part of me doesn't want them in the flat: I don't want to invest money and time, I don't want to settle in.

For somebody that always wanted to settle, to be balanced and at peace with herself and the world, it's ironic how much I've come to appreciate my restlessness. I don't want to settle in. When the "in" is so shitty, fake and grey, I welcome the mess and lack of peace.
So no Ikea trip for this flat anytime soon (for the little home in Turin, however this is whole different story): I will enjoy the chaos for some more time, waiting for the books I started reading to eventually turn up somewhere in the flat.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Yarn in Munich

Something I do every time I travel is visiting yarn shops.
It's a joy and a pain at the same time: it's really cool to visit new shops, not necessarily buying things (even though, this time, I shopped in basically every single yarn shop I visited), but just browsing through their shelves, looking at local yarns and just enjoying the atmosphere.  
It's a pain because I know I got to return to Italy, where the situation is awful and depressing. 

Turin fares it slightly better than Milan. In Turin, you can never go wrong with shopping at the traditional Albozzi, where you can get the everyday, heavy-duty pullover yarn: colours don't really change over time, but yarn doesn't pill too much and it's got a pretty good price/quality ratio.
Then there's "La compagnia del cotone" with its amazing rainbow wall and haskets of different yarns. Sometimes I go there with my friends just as a beauty treatment for my eyes. 

As for Milan... Well suffices to say the best yarn can be found at the stall of Antonio at some of the markets around town. Then it's the desert. There are some other shops that offers not a lot of choice in terms of fibers and colours, not to mention the lack of proper manner of some of the shop assistants.
The yarn shops quality in Milan is so poor that I basically gave up on the idea of finding something nice and rely on travels and online shopping to stash up.

Munich has been a great trip for this: I didn't got enough time to visit all the shops, I was there for work after all. Yet, I managed to find enough time to visit 3 stores.
First shop on the list was Wolladiho. The entrance was already promising, with model of their creation outside:


And one colorful welcome at the door:


The shop is really tiny, but it's tightly pack with loads of different kind of yarns, in baskets, shelves up to the ceiling, basically everywhere.

Second stop was at Strickeria.
They have their own needles,  especially made for them by Knit Pro, do I really need to say more?



Other than I bought something else with them, obviously:


But the best shop, the one that I fall in love with was Die Mercerie. It is a yarn and fabric shop with a small cafe and book section: it offers courses and workshops as well.
When you look at it from the outside, you don't expect very much:


But then you step in and you start asking yourself some important questions such as: can I sleep in a yarn store? Can I ask my manager to move my office into the yarn store?
There is yarn everywhere you look: on the shelves, in baskets, hanging from the ceiling!


It hosts a wide variety of international yarns: from Filatura di Crosa to Madeline Tosh, from Holst Garn to Koigu. The variety is impressive, alongside the quantity and different colorways on display







The shop assistants were very helpful: I was looking for some yarn for Manuela and for once I didn't have to dive into the shelves and hope for the best, but just ask them and they checked on their shop database on the computer.
I hope to get a chance to visit Munich again soon, to visit them once more and continue my exploration of the other shops.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Barbottina e il tutto

La sveglia è suonata presto nella nobile ma non troppo magione degli aRissoGatti.
Avendo prenotato il taxi, avevo detto ai miei genitori di non preoccuparsi: davvero, non c'era bisogno che mi accompagnassero all'aeroporto.
Ma cuore di mamma e cuore di papà oblige, e quindi si sono alzati alla mia stessa ora e abbiamo fatto colazione insieme.

Mia mamma si è poi preoccupata che avessi "tutto".

"Hai tutto?"
"Sì."

Sono anni che mi chiede se ho "tutto".  Sono anni che le rispondo di sì.
Dov'è il problema? Il problema è che i nostri rispettivi concetti di tutto non coincidono del tutto. Mia madre l'ha ovviamente capito prima di me e infatti, subito dopo il mio sì, eccola partire con una serie di domande atte a scoprire falle e lacune del mio tutto.

A volte mento dicendo che non ho certe cose. Perché? Beh, perché io sono cuore di figlie, ed è un modo innocuo di far capire all'altra che le si vuole bene senza dover ricorrere alle parole.
Quindi quando mia mamma mi ha chiesto se avevo i fazzolettini di carta, ho risposto di no.

"Vuoi quelli di Peppa Pig?"
"Eh no! Peppa Pig no! Sto partendo per un viaggio di lavoro, cerchiamo di salvare quel minimo di serietà che mi è avanzata!"
"Angry Birds?"
"No, gli Angry Birds no..."
"Barbapapà?"
"Oh sì, vada per i Barbapapà! Però no, non mi dare quello rosa, dammi quello arancione, Barbottina è la più intelligente..."

A quel punto la mia serietà ha deciso di tornarsene a dormire perché era evidentemente di troppo nella conversazione.
E ovviamente nel mio "tutto" mi ero scordata di includere la giacca autunnale, quindi c'è qualche possibilità mi prenda il raffreddore, ma tanto ho i fazzoletti con me.


Friday, 3 October 2014

The mad hat

"The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day I am a moron"
(Nick Hornby, "Fever Pitch")

Back in Brighton last July, I bought this wonderful skein of Lush Worsted from The Uncommon Thread:


Beautiful, isn't it?
I knew the universe would be deeply unbalanced if I didn't buy it (so I bought it! You can thank me later, universe); and I knew I had to turn it into a hat (so I knitted it).

I bought the pattern for a hat by Robin Ulrich, called Greyhaven.
As I enjoy swatching and the pattern had info for gauge both in stockinette stitch and in lace pattern I swatched them both. I then proceeded to wash and block the swatch: it turned out that this yarn lets go a little after washing, and this was something I was happy as it meant my tension was at that point perfect without me needing to alter anything. 

I quickly started the project and knitted the hat in less than a day; I didn't try it on: I was just too caught up in how quickly the hat was growing before my eyes and how soft the yarn felt in my hands.
It truly was growing fast and it looked so nice and... and big, but hey, I got a big head, so that's fine!

Binded off the hat, washed it and updated the Ravelry page as the hat was drying. Everything was perfect when... ("Jaws" music cues in)... tragedy! Tragic tragedy!!!
This hat is huge even for my Charlie Brown, very round, XXXL head!
How on earth?!?! WTF!?! I called for help and moral support from some fellow knitters, some of whom had their fair share of gauge drama recently. 

I googled for possible explanations and solutions, while in my heart I knew what was going to happen to me and to the hat. I tried to put off the inevitable, but then I had to give up and admit I had to frog and reknit the whole hat.

So I started frogging the hat, while still trying to understand how my tension managed to change within 2 days. Because obviously the hat must have been bigger than it should have even prior to washing and blocking. Or my head shrunk to the size of an apple. But I checked and no, my head is still closer to the size of an Halloween pumpkin than the one of an apple.

It was puzzling and unnerving. I couldn't understand why: the swatch was ok, I followed the pattern, I didn't cast on more stitches than needed, I used the right needle.... and that was the moment. The moment when I started to doubt myself, the moment when I started connecting the dots, the moment when I went back to the knitting bag and checked the needles. 

The moment I realized I'm a moron, a moron that used the wrong knitting needles for the hat!!! 

Instead of the 4.0 mm I knitted the swatch with, I picked a 5.0 mm circular needle and happily knitted till the end of it as if nothing mattered. What's the difference between a 4 mm and a 5 mm needle after all?
Just a little tiny inconsequential single millimeter, right?
Wrong! It's the difference between knitting a hat for myself and knitting a hat for a Dalek!

I finished the hat yesterday evening, washed and blocked it again and now its dimension are back to normal levels. 
This story taught me that no matter the attention I can put to every single details of a knitting project there's something that will always prevail: my innate capacity of abso-fucking-lutely messing it everything up. Even though now I can do it while wearing a very cool hat!

The right size for my big head