And more progress on the stole. As I said before, we’re on the downhill leg of this journey – the challenges are all now put to bed, and things are just sailing along:
Here’s the whole thing, folded on the bed, just to prove that I’m not unraveling from the beginning end. This is a king-size bed, so you can imagine how long the thing is now!
I anticipate finishing up by the coming weekend, latest. Blocking however will have to wait. I’ve got no soft surfaces in this apartment large enough to do it, since pins don’t stick well in bare marble floors.
To do that I’d need to roll up my sleeves and figure out what the heck I did. Also do the graphs. I adapted this from designs in the Duchrow books, and considerable reinterpretation into modern notation was necessary. But what I won’t have would be yarn quantities – the scarf is at home on the other side of the world.
So the question – would a pattern without yarn quantities be useful? Would you be interested in knitting up something like this?
I’m in the home stretch now, well past the line of reflection in the center. The figures at this point are straight repeats of those already accomplished. Plus I’ve long since aged off the line by line prose instructions. It’s far easier – for me at least – to keep track of where I am and spot check my progress against a visual chart than a mass of line by line directions.
And here’s a close-up of the center mermaid for Kathryn and Hastings:
The first shot above was taken with the stole patted out on my bed. It’s worth noting that it’s a king-size bed, and the stole as it is right now stretches almost entirely across. I don’t know how I’m going to block it here because I can’t pin it to the marble floors. I might have to wait until we get a rug, provided of course, the rug is large enough.
In other news, India continues to delight and baffle me. A new found friend gave me a flyer for a western-style bakery that does home delivery. Tired of supermarket bread and my own feeble attempts at roti and parathas, we chanced it. “Look! Bagels and Danish!” Here’s what we got:
The Danish were nice – flaky, but very sweet. These are fruit. The cheese ones were also flaky, and being less sweet, even better.
The bagels though were open to wider interpretation. As a toroid breakfast bread, they were fine grained, more like a pierced Pullman loaf than a bagel, clearly made from a raised dough with more butter in it than the bagel standard. Also they were neither boiled nor crusty. However they did go nicely toasted, with butter and cheese. The verdict – o.k., certainly a better start to the morning than the local equivalent of Wonder Bread, but are perhaps an bagel incarnation informed only by pictures, conceptualized and baked by someone who has never eaten one. But labels are only labels. I say pass the “bagel” – tomorrow’s will go great with Nutella.
More words that though not new, are new to me as I read local newspapers and advertisements, and learn more about Pune, and India in general.
Guntha – A measure of area, about 10 x 10 meters, roughly equivalent to 1/40th of an acre. It’s common to see magazine articles noting the reservation of a certain number of gunthas, to be dedicated to parking or some other specialty use.
Dabbas – Lunch boxes. These are the Indian version of bento boxes, traditionally carried by school children or workers. There’s even a whole industry dedicated to speedy transport of dabbas from home to office workers, or to supply catered dabbas for those who need non home-cooked meals, ensuring a hot, fresh-cooked lunch when and were it is needed. Note the multiple compartments for keeping several items warm and separate until they are eaten. I’ve also seen these called tiffin boxes or tingkats.
Gutka – A word from the tabloid papers. An addictive, chewed stimulant based on betel nuts, plus other substances. Apparently there is a thriving trade in this illegally manufactured, untaxed, carcinogenic, (and often dangerously contaminated) stimulant. Every now and again there’s a piece on the arrest of a maker, transporter or gang of distributors.
Gram Panchayat – A village council, or local government body at the village or town level. Panchayat representatives are elected from panches – the village wards or districts. A proportion of each local panchayat’s seats are reserved for women representatives. Panchayats can levy taxes on some local activities, and are responsible for civic activities, including street lights, public education, drinking water, sanitation, and population records. Sadly, not all seem to serve in the public interest though, because occasional newspaper pieces talk of isolated cases of voter coercion, misapplication or misappropriation of funds, or naive choices with unforseen outcomes. Not unlike local governments in other places.
Techie – A member of the “New India” workforce, especially one working in an engineering or technical field. The tabloids especially seem to have a fascination for young professionals and their doings. Many are 20- and 30-somethings with disposable incomes, far away from the watchful eyes of their families. Not surprisingly, occasionally they or come to harm, either self inflicted through careless behavior, or through victimization; or they commit crimes of passion. These especially are reported with breathless detail.
Tatkal Tickets – These appear to be railway tickets booked in advance like airline tickets, as opposed to tickets that are purchased at the train station. There’s a surcharge for advanced purchase. And since it’s probably now clear that my new words are largely furnished by the sensational crimes section of the local papers, there are occasional pieces on folk who have figured out how to hustle the system, and scalp tickets. Photo ID is now required for passengers boarding trains with pre-paid tatkal tickets.
How do I like it here? My friend Osa was right. Every day is an opportunity for limitless learning and the development of infinite patience. Small challenges can be daunting (like finding someplace to buy the very unusual light bulbs used in the apartment) but while accomplishing these quests may take time and present transient frustration, the sense of accomplishment, and joy in new things is palpable. In short, I’m having a great time.
Rolling right along with my amended Dragon Stole. I’m now officially past the half-way point. Everything from here on in mirrors what has happened before.
The undine turns out to have a rather small head for all that body, and a face and gesture rather like that of Mr. Bill:
I guess, surrounded as she is by two rather formidable hippocampi, she’s caught in the middle of saying “OHHH, NOOOOOO!”
A semi-quiet weekend here at String.
First, progress on my Dragon Stole, which I’ve modded to include the central undine from its pattern’s ultimate ancestor:
Mods include the star above the beastie’s eye, the large flower in front of it, and beginning of the mermaid at the right.
You can see that my spool of Valley Yarns Tencel 8/2 has been barely diminished by all this knitting. The tencel is quite easy to work with, a bit slippery compared to cotton (which for me is a good thing), but less slippery than rayon. It doesn’t roll back on itself to kink, even coming off the cone. Being about half done at this point, I estimate that my cone, claimed by Webs to have 3360 yards on it, will be ample for 8-10 shawls of this size. At around $25 for the cone, I’d rate it as a very good buy. Aside – if you’re budget challenged or packing for an extended stay somewhere, consider taking up lace knitting. Lace offers the most knitting satisfaction per dollar invested on materials, and per square inch of suitcase space.
Then, coincident with the Indian nation’s Republic Day, Younger Daughter’s school had their annual field day – a morning of track and field events pitting the Indus International School’s various houses against each other. Phoenix, Orion, Hercules, and Pegasus have vied all year for points in academics, debating, deportment, and sporting events, just like at Hogwarts. Field day is the culmination of the annual competition.
Assignment to the houses appears to be pretty arbitrary, no sorting hat here. Younger Daughter was shuffled off to Hercules on the whim of the admitting administrator. Hercules took first place in the day’s marching. Here they are, behind their blue flag:
Perhaps the most fun of the day was the kids vs. faculty tug of war, where (no surprise) the myrmidons of the massed houses triumphed over their long-suffering teachers. Younger Daughter’s sense of triumph is palpable:
Phoenix house won the 2012 house trophy. I hear the kids are already plotting new domination strategies for 2013.
Progress on several fronts here. Slow, for sure – but progress.
First, my MMarioKKnits Dragon Stole continues to grow:
Both Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn and I were convinced we’d seen this beastie before.
Sure enough, blessed by the local resource fairy, and well versed in Siebmacher’s oeuvre, Kathryn managed to dig up the original, from the 1603 edition of Siebmacher’s Shon Neues Modelbuch. I got in touch with MMarioKKnits himself to ask if he used the Siebmacher when he drew up his pattern, or if he remembered some other secondary source that was his inspiration. Many of these designs were re-collected in the mid 1800s, when counted work went through a major renaissance, some of which was inspired by actual Renaissance pattern books. I suspected that one of these mid 1800s collections was the source in question.
MMario confirmed that he indeed started with a mid 1800s work, but he didn’t remember which one. He pointed me at the Antique Pattern Library (more on this below). I’m pretty familiar with their inventory, but wasn’t able to find his secondary source either.
There are some differences between the MMario version and the one from 1603 – as one would expect in a multi-century game of garbled pattern transmission telephone – but the main motif, a hippocampus (not a dragon) is spot on count for count the same. Why do I think it’s a hippocampus? Because these designs were highly thematic, and a mermaid would be more likely to keep company with a mythical sea-steed than a dragon.
I’ve got official permission from MMario to post some quotes from his graph in order to put the changes in context. The black squares are the same in his rendition and the 1603 Siebmacher version. The red squares are from 1603, and are different from his design. The majority of the beastie is the same in both.
This center panel – a dual tailed undine similar to the one used by Starbucks in its logo – can be used as a drop in, inserted right into the MMario piece to make a wider stole.
The other modification is in the tail. MMario’s beast has an elongated tail swirl with a nifty trifoliate tail. But in the original we see instead a smaller, tighter spiral sweep, a large quaternary flower, and the implication of a bridged mirroring putting two hippocampi tail to tail, centered around a second “bounce line.” Please note that I’ve not included the whole dragon repeat in order to keep from stepping on MMario’s pattern toes. You’ll have to visit his design to get the rest of it.
I’m going to attempt to introduce the center mermaid into my Dragon Stole. Wish me luck!
Aside on Antique Pattern Library – this is a non-profit, volunteer effort to scan and preserve out of print documents and ephemera related to needle and domestic arts. They have a huge collection of public domain embroidery, knitting, crochet, tatting, sewing and crafts books and leaflets dating from before 1920. A large proportion are from 1860 through 1910 or so. They even have a couple of early Modelbooks thrown in! As a reference, its invaluable. As an archive of women’s history, even more so. I strongly urge everyone to visit, to sample some of the freely available resources there, and most important – to donate to sustain the collection. It’s no secret that they live hand to mouth. I’d truly love to see them do so a bit longer.
France may be the land of 500 cheeses, but India is the land of 10,000 snacks.
They take their snacks very seriously here. There appear to be micro-regional specialties, and a dizzying variety of basic types – far beyond the chips (crisps for my UK readers), pretzels, tortilla chips, and smattering of other items seen in American supermarkets. I suspect if a new vegetable or grain were to spontaneously appear, the US FDA would study it for two years before decreeing wholesomeness, the European Union would ban it because there is no established tradition of farming or cooking it, but India would throw open her arms and overnight it would appear in fifty new packaged fried snack foods, each with a distinctively cheerful bag.
We’ve been trying some as our weekend treat, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available at the Hypermarket down the street:
Yes, those are potato sticks. The particular variety we tried is (like much of India) perfumed with cumin. Potato (aloo) sticks come in dozens of varieties, some spicy/hot/salty, some herbed, and some plain. We really liked this one, they’re easy to nibble and go great with roasted little red-skin peanuts, smaller than those in the US, but tastier.
Oh. I forgot to mention, combining these nibbles into one’s own custom snack mix appears to be a national pastime, so we’re following suit, mixing and matching these as whimsy overtakes us.
This one is a bit messier to eat. In texture, it’s like fuzzy dust studded with little bits of roasted lentils, cashew nuts, and other seeds and spices. It’s so fine it almost needs to be spooned. It’s also intensely spicy. I love the product tag line “A Munching Device.” A good mixer to use with other, less intense varieties.
These are The Resident Male’s favorite. They’re crunchier than Cheetos, and flavored with onion and chili instead of Mystery Orange.
Puffed wheat! Very roasty tasting, and a perfect background foil to these other hot and spicy treats. I knew a little about the variety of Indian foods and was prepared for that exploration, but the wealth of casual nibbles here took me by surprise. I find it a very amusing arena for small discoveries. I’ll post more about these as we try more.
On the needlework front, I’ve made a bit of progress on the Dragon Stole:
I’m just about up to the body, half way through the first dragon.
And I’ve unpacked my stitching. I’ve set up my big green sampler.
Unfortunately, there’s no good place in the apartment to work on it. I need very bright light, and even though we finally found the exotic flavor light bulbs used in the fixtures here, and have more than one 40 watt light source in the living room, there’s still not enough light to work it by. So as a stop gap, I’ve started the Sarah Collins kit I picked up at Winterthur in 2011:
I’ve never done a kit before, preferring to muddle about on my own. I am having mixed feelings about this. It’s cumbersome, with a zillion large scale detailed charts that require constant cross-referencing. The design is pleasing, the colors are o.k., not my faves, but well suited to the design. The linen is nice, and working 3×3 is a refreshing change, quite large compared to what I’ve been stitching of late. I opted for the cotton rather than the silk threads, in part because the silk kit was expensive. That’s why I’m working it on the padded round frame. Were this silk, it would fight for space on my flat frame with Big Green.
Oh, and yes – I’m working on T2CM, too. I’m up to the exquisitely boring part, where I add proofed counts to each pattern.
No, this alarming looking device is not a Vogon marital aid:
It’s a coconut reamer – the perfect tool needed to produce fluffy grated fresh coconut from a whole nut. Grated coconut is a common cooking ingredient, and the best is obtained by buying the coconuts and shredding them yourself. And if we choose to save the husks, I’m sure we’ll have enough to outfit an entire clip-clop cavalry detachment by the time we return home.
In knitting, Dragon Stole continues to grow:
You can make out the tail section in the center. Long time needlework pal Kathryn is probably right – the graphed pattern used in this MMario Knits design has a very Renaissance look, and resembles several patterns in the various editions of Siebmacher’s modelbooks. I’ve been through his 1597 pattern book on line, and didn’t find it, but recourse to my library is a bit constrained over here in India, so I am not giving up yet. (Aside: Kathryn provides a selection of the 1597 patterns in her collection Patterns from Renaissance Germany, available on Flowers of the Needle).
The long flight overseas was not wasted. I managed to knit a hat during the trip. This is Le Bulot (The Whelk) by Kokolat de la Kokolatiere. I worked it up with some remnants, roughly less than half a skein each of charcoal color Regia Extra Twist Merino, and On-Line Supersocke 100 Harlekin Color for the multi.
I’m pleased with the result, but I can say that the pattern isn’t entirely straightforward. It took some deciphering, plus referring back and forth between the French original, the English translation, and the very informative pix of the finished item, but I got it all together in the end.
One thing that sped up production and minimized the number of things that could go sliding underneath my airplane seat – instead of using the slip one stitch to a cable needle and knit in front, I used a left twist stitch. When I got up to the part of the pattern that included decreases made at selected twists, I worked them by inserting the tip of my right hand needle into the backs of the second and third stitch from the end, knitting them together but leaving them on the right hand needle, then shimmying the right hand needle into position to knit the twisted stitch, and finally slipping the entire unit off the left hand needle. Oh, and while doing that I kept track of which color would follow in the logic of the row, and made sure that the decrease was worked with that one. Not particularly difficult, but not exactly mindless, either.
On the yarns, I’ve used the Supersocke many times before. It’s a standard issue self striping sock yarn, with an interesting mix of bright colors in a rather conservative small repeat. On socks, about four full repeats of the entire color sequence will occur in the foot part. I was less pleased with the Regia Extra Twist Merino. It’s nice and soft, and looks good when knit up, but for a sock weight yarn it splits like crazy. No word yet on durability, but I’ve knit a hat, admittedly not the most torturous use for the stuff.
I’ve finally unpacked my knitting and stitching stash. Working on my big green sampler right now will be problematic, though. I don’t have a good light for evening stitching, although I can haul a kitchen chair to the big windows and work on it during the day. I may ease my stitching withdrawal symptoms by working on a smaller in-hoop project. I brought some supplies and a kit with me, so I’m armed.
In the mean time, I’ve embarked on the MMario Knits Dragon Stole, an extended exercise in filet knitting.
I’d played with filet knitting before, but was not satisfied with the methods I had tried. MMario uses three worked rows per graphed chart line, and while not as teeny, nor as precisely geometric as filet crochet, works quite nicely. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to apply his method to my huge warehouse of Italian Renaissance graphed patterns and have some cross-pollination fun.
We’re still learning the ropes of our new adopted home, but we took off some time last week before Younger Daughter started school today to explore some of the sights of the Pune area. Thankfully, Elder Daughter was armed with her camera, because I’m pitiful at taking pictures.
On Wednesday we visited Parvati Darshan, a temple complex on a hill in the middle of the city. Structures at the complex date to the mid 1700s, and were constructed by the Peshwas, the royal rulers of the Maratha Empire, formerly centered in this area.
There was a small cultural museum at the base of the hill, displaying Peshwa dynasty artifacts, including weapons, portraits of the ruling line, coins, and everyday items. The climb to the 2,100 foot summit was a short uphill hike ascending wide ramps and stairs, with stonework to either side.
The Vishnu temple at the top is spectacular:
And the view of the surrounding city is also well worth the ascent, although I don’t have any snaps of that to hand.
With the quick climb behind us, our driver Rupesh suggested additional exercise – this time a hike up to Singhagad, one of the massive fortifications ringing the city. These forts also date back to the 1600s and 1700s. They changed hands many times and were the sites of historic battles, sieges, and massacres as the Maratha forces vied with the Mughals for control of the region.
Singahad Fort’s summit is over 4,300 feet – about 2,625 feet above the surrounding country, an imposing presence with a commanding view. To be entirely fair, we didn’t hike from the base. There was a twisty switchback road about 1.75 car-widths wide that took us most of the way. One side of the road was the cliff, the other a haphazardly defined margin of scrubby bushes, with a deadfall just beyond them. Since this was a two-way road with occasional bus traffic, it made the day all that more exciting. The last several hundred feet though was on foot, up another series of ramps and stairs, winding around the top of the hill.
The climb does not dissuade path-side snack sellers, who ply their trade at every landing and vista on the way up. The white city in the distance is Pune.
Around every breathless bend was another spectacular shot:
We went out touring again on Saturday. First we went to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park. We went early, just as it opened. The morning was cool and breezy, and the zoo was quiet and shady, compared to the bustle of the streets. The larger animal exhibits are well spread out, and we enjoyed strolling along the zoo’s lanes to find them.
Having been warned, we avoided the thought of ruffling the tigers, guar, wolves, and hoofed stock. Snake hackling was also right out.
You’ll have to take our word for it though that we saw elephants, macaques, and cobras, too – but all were camera-shy.
After a pleasant morning strolling about, we went to another historical venue. This was a memorial to Shinde Chhatri, a heroic general of the Marathas, who served the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780. The building has been recently restored, inside and out.
The caretaker explained to us (as best he could) that the line of notables descended from the general and his family (the portraits lining the walls) persists to this day, and remains active in governance and politics.
Needless to say, I’ll be reading more about India’s pre-Colonial history, especially that of the Maratha Empire.