Sunday Evening

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Our car was one of a hundred, a thousand perhaps; like a stream of ants going between waypoints, with nothing to do on the way except ensure that the journey is uninterrupted. Back towards the anthill we marched, and if ants can’t plug in a Walkman and sing along to Tom Waits as they drive it’s only a minor discrepancy. I wonder if ants ever look up at the landscape and objects that they pass, and see that the sun – the first proper sun of spring – is casting a receding golden wash over the top storeys of the taller buildings.
A combination of the sunlight and the grainy booze-infused portal to Tom’s world – a world where the carpet needs a haircut and the piano’s been on the sauce – made me say “Let’s get out and walk for a bit.” And so this particular ant swung out of the column and into a side street. I cut Tom off mid-growl and we left the car and took the flight of steps opposite two at a time. Some internal reserve of energy that I didn’t know about seemed to have been activated by the evening’s somewhat expectant calm. The air whispered, waiting for spring’s tendrils to start pushing through the remains of winter.

The city lies in a valley, the old centre spread across the flat of the valley floor, while the hill sides to north and south are arrayed with fine houses and tall trees watching over the spires and towers and little roof-top terraces, looking out across rural urbia to the hill on the other side. From the winding cobbley street below, the layers upon layers of houses that climb the hills glare stoically, sombrely down. Standing guard. Always watching.
Roads wind up the hill sides, but in between and crammed into the gaps between the houses are flights of wooden-edged stairs. I lost track of how many flights we climbed, chasing the sun’s departing rays. They had already left the tallest towers of the lower city. We had to search higher.

When my breath was clawing like nails at my lungs, I stopped to look back at the city. Fairy lights were wound along a balcony rail below me, even though the sky was still light, and the almost-full moon hung in the branches of a bare, knobbly beech tree like a pale grapefruit. The top of the southern hill opposite – my hill – crested with bristly larch and bottle-brush spruce was turning slowly from green to grey.

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We followed the streets and stairs still further, to the layer of the city before the top, and came out opposite a wall guarding the muddy garden of a monstrous, square white house that squatted on top of the hill like a Vogon settled defiantly in the garden of Eden. Over the Vogon’s shoulder, however, were tantalising wisps of pink cloud promising something far more spectacular. The view from on-tiptoes, on-the-wall, was still unsatisfying. So we took the last flight of stairs and marched up a gravel path until the sky to north and west was as open as it can be in such hilly country.

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We had missed the sun – it couldn’t have been expected to stick around while we climbed 200 or so feet up the hill to see it off – but it had left several thin ribbons of golden fire floating above the hills where it had gone down. The trails of aeroplanes far above shone like little glow-worms. The sky above the hills went from purest gold on the horizon to a greyish winter-blue above us, and fantastic rose and dusky purple clouds crept in from above the lake which lay, unseen, away to our right. The swirls and ripples looked so contrived that in a film it would be mistaken for a lazy CGI job. I said “If we painted this now, exactly as it is, no-one would believe us. They’d say we exaggerated it for effect.”
The strips of gold floated higher and their light began to diffuse. The pink clouds inched closer to the gold. Three teenagers passed behind us, chattering in clipped dialect. Voices high, jeans low. The magic broke. We headed back down the hill.

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The street lights had come on now, like more fairy-lights draped along the streets of a toy town. A couple of snowy mountains peered through a gap in the hills. I wanted to push the hills back so that Säntis had a better view. I watched my feet carefully on the stairs. If I tripped and fell, I might knock over the cathedral, or crash through the carefully-placed little streets and houses.

We didn’t follow the same route back, so as the houses grew once again to full size around us, we turned down a back road and into an unlit street. All of the buildings in the row were dark except for one room, from which light, veiled by semi-transparent gauze curtains, spilled. Muffled swing music seeped out of the room too, and I stopped level with one of the curtained windows. Once my eyes had agreed to ignore the gauze and look into the room beyond, I could see the couples dancing, and the sports hall, the mirror on the opposite wall and exercise balls on a rack above it.

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“That… looks like Lindy Hop” I said. I’m not an expert, but we were taken to a taster lesson by a friend in the area once, and the movements of the dance were distinctive. He laughed and said “It is Lindy Hop!” and we stared some more. I pointed at a large, slightly brooding figure at the far end of the hall: “And that looks like…” He stepped nearer and peered more closely through the curtain. “Yes! It is!” he said. We looked at each other and laughed at the strange serendipity of the moment. The music stopped and the women all moved one partner anti-clockwise. Now that he was standing still we could see more clearly. “And that girl… she was in the group that I was in the mountains with the other week!”
When the music started again we tried to recall the dance steps, but the dancers, far more advanced than we were, gave few clues to the basic steps that we’d been taught. Eventually he hopped over the fence at the side of the building and ran up the sloping path to a small uncurtained window, floor-level on the outside, but high up in the inner sports hall wall. “You can see better from here.” We crouched down and watched, looking like children that hadn’t been invited to the party. “It’s the same teacher we had!” I’d already seen. He was hard to forget. Pale hair and skin; a t-shirt, trousers and a boater-style hat on his head, even when walking, he moved with grace and purpose.
The music, slightly tinny, came through an air-vent a few metres away on the wall, and we attempted the steps again, trying not to stumble off the narrow path into the damp soil beside it.

Eventually I said “You know, we still have to cook this evening.” We climbed back over the fence and ran the rest of the way along the street, feeling like naughty children who have been spying on their elders. We skipped back to the car. The stream of ants was smaller now. We rejoined it and headed back to our anthill.

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Crochet Creatures

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Inspired by Lucie’s post to get my versions of these up onto the blog. They’re from the book “Edward’s Menagerie” by Kerry Lord which my mum gave me for Christmas just over a year ago. I actually started crocheting from it pretty soon after receiving it, (it came at an opportune time, just as my friends and family started having babies) but didn’t want to a separate post for each one. Now I’ve done four of them, you can have them all in one nice, compact, easy-to-use blog post. Continue reading “Crochet Creatures”

Tea cosies the second

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I have, of course, made the odd traditional knitted tea cosy in the past. But they don’t keep the pot as warm as the sort that I grew up with, which don’t leave handle and spout sticking out, exposed to the elements. And as I’ve stated, keeping the pot warm while the tea is brewing is very important. Continue reading “Tea cosies the second”

Named Quinn Shirt

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I bought this pattern in the Named advent calendar sale. I’ve had it in my sights for a while because although I love the Archer shirt pattern, the interesting cross-over collar, button placket and French cuffs mean that this shirt is just a little more dressy. And sometimes I want something a little bit smarter. Continue reading “Named Quinn Shirt”

At Last: Bláithín

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I notice, as I leaf lazily (and metaphorically) through my blog, that I haven’t written anything about knitting since August. This came as quite a surprise, as I probably spent more time knitting last autumn than I did sewing. There was the purple cardi, which I sort of finished, and then decided needed the button band re-doing (it’s currently sitting on my sofa with the button band removed but not replaced), a couple of baby presents, but mostly this cardiBláithín by Kate Davies.

Two cardis, you think, that doesn’t sound like so much. Oh if only you knew, dear reader, the sorrows I faced. Perhaps I exaggerate. Not sorrows, then, let’s call it frustration. Continue reading “At Last: Bláithín”

Inhabiting A Stereotype

I thought I’d start off the year with something ramble-based rather than sewing-based to indicate my intention of not being a completely sewing-based blog – I seem to have done the opposite of diversify my blog  (whatever that’s called) since I started sewing.

So welcome to the inside of my head.

P1090002-001 Continue reading “Inhabiting A Stereotype”

Camas

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Well, just to break the Grainline trend for a bit (although only temporarily), here are a couple of blouses from Thread Theory, which brought out the Camas blouse (their first pattern for women) back in the spring. I bought it almost straight away as a PDF (and then sort of wished I’d waited, and got the hard copy) and made one up in this anonymous flowery jersey fabric which I bought online. It’s really pretty, but I have no idea what the fibre content is – it feels like viscose, and is extremely fluid and light. Unfortunately after several washes the colours are beginning to look a bit tired – I’m far too lazy to handwash! Continue reading “Camas”

Morris

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When this pattern came out, Grainline Studios was only half on my radar. Every time I saw a Grainline pattern I thought they looked so well-made that I thought they were way out of my league. But then I got a couple of their other patterns under my belt (including the Archer shirt, which I knew was much more complex, construction-wise) I stopped being scared of it. And then I came across some lovely ponte in a sale which just shouted “Morris” at me. I had a look at other patterns for more casual cardis, but the Morris pattern kept coming back into my head, and in the end I caved in and clicked ‘buy’ (and then asked my poor long-suffering mother to cart it across the Bernese Oberland to me.) Continue reading “Morris”

Archer

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Well, I finally took a leap and moved myself from fairly easy-construction garments to shirts. There are a lot of Archer shirts around the blogosphere, and I’m only going to keep adding to it, because I love the pattern. But I’m not going to write a lot about it, because frankly the sewing blog community is full of more experienced people who have a lot more intelligent things to say about shirt construction than I do. Continue reading “Archer”

Ripping off Shakespeare

Sometimes, dealing with opposing view-points can be fairly humourless. So here is an attempt at some humour.

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Let me not at the barrage of closed minds
attempt intelligence. For not one case
will alter when it quiet reason finds
or, willing, look itself full in the face:
Oh no! It is an ever-fixèd grudge
That reasoned argument believes mistaken;
and each opponent rather just pre-judge
than risk from dreams of black and white awaken.
Waste not one breath, for shouting at a wall
no pain relieved or city reunited;
Waste not brief hours, for time will never stall,
and wasted, patience is, on the short-sighted.
If blinkered anger is their sole resort,
the moral high-ground is my only port.

(And just in case of some 17th century copy-right, here is the original. Check it out. it’s not bad.)