Book Club: Cræft

Hi friends!

Anyone who knows me is aware that I read a lot of books.  Like, a lot. In middle school, I won a prize for most books read in my class.  Or rather, I should have won — but that’s a story for another time.  While often I’m rereading an Agatha Christie or a Georgette Heyer, I do make increasingly frequent dives into other genres, including non-fiction.  In the last year, I’ve been intrigued by books that offer a different way of looking at the issues of today.  These books have given me a lot to think about and a lot of motivation to put thoughts into action.

With that in mind, this is the commencing post in what will be a biweekly series where I highlight thought-provoking books.  I will offer my thoughts and takeaways, but I invite you to offer me yours.  The ultimate goal is to spark a meeting of minds and that goal can’t be accomplished if it’s just me talking!

So without further introduction, allow me to introduce our first book: Cræft by Alexander Langlands.

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This book came my way by a review in Vogue Knitting, of all places.  I was intrigued.  Langlands, a British archaeologist, takes a deep dive into tradition crafts (primarily English crafts) and what their place and meaning is within modern society.

But to address the elephant in the room: what does cræft mean?  Cræft is an Anglo-Saxon word that could be roughly translated to skill or knowledge.  We can see its descendants in words like witchcraft, handicraft, and crafty.  However, the concept can be expanded to an entire way of life that values knowledge and workmanship over convenience and speed.  Naturally, this way of life was somewhat necessary in the past due to the lack of industrialization.  However, its implications are still relevant today.

It has become apparent that in the near future we will not, and should not, rely on fossil fuels.  While it is possible that the gap left by fossil fuels will be filled by renewable energy, it is by no means certain.  Additionally, we cannot assume that renewable energy will be available with the same convenience, amount, and pricetag.  Therefore, it would be prudent to consider a locally based economy that derives as much as it can from local resources and labour.  Unfortunately, after the globalization of the past fifty years, this would be a dramatic shift.  However, within our lifetimes, it could become our only option.

In such a future, traditional crafts such as the ones described by Langlands will become essential.  Instead of plastic bags, we will be using baskets and instead of going to the mall we may find ourselves weaving cloth.

I would hesitate to call myself a pessimist, however I like to be planned for all eventualities.  I am by no means planned for a breakdown of the existing economic and political framework.  I doubt I could ever be prepared.  Does that mean I should not try?

As always — love, Valentine

Moon Musings (Ixchel)

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The Ixchel sweater in all her glory.

Hi friends!

This season, the moon has been a present motif in my thoughts.  It certainly helps that I’ve been working on Catherine Clark’s Ixchel sweater for PomPom. That’s not the only thing keeping the moon in my mind, however.  We also recently had our last supermoon of 2019.  I recently had a birthday, and therefore I’ve been considering cycles and transitions.  And of course (the elephant in the room), I am a woman and I spend a lot of time thinking about another monthly cycle …

Women have been traditionally associated with the moon for millennia, for somewhat obvious reasons.  Artemis is the best example of this, she was the moon goddess but also responsible for the hunt, chastity, and childbirth.  While the hunt and chastity are gender-neutral, childbirth is undeniably female.  The moon is a gentle complement to the sun, waxing and waning with her light, but always there.  It is the moon that gives us the tides.  For the moon, everything is a circle.  There is no end and no beginning.

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My friendly, canine helper-models.

When I was a child and I was upset, I would often go out for a walk and look up at the moon.  You never see the same moon in the sky twice.  The colour, the texture, the light, the size – there’s always something new. I would talk to the moon and ask it what to do.  Naturally, she did not respond with actual words, but I felt like I had been comforted and then I would know what to do.

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Shivering artistically.

Cycles are all around us, closing in a temporal fractal.  Some of them are so mundane that they almost fade into the background: the cycle of day and night, seasons (although if you’re from California you may not know about those), and the ever present circle of life, which moves us all through despair and hope.  Then there are larger cycles that in our short lifetime we don’t get to see. We are cycling through glacial and interglacial cycles.  Every few thousand years, the planet’s polarity switches.  A combination of cycles on the scale of millennia combine to create the Milankovitch cycle, which dominates large scale climate.  Our planet herself is orbiting in, for the most part, a circle around an enormous sun.  All of these are on a timescale we cannot see, because the Earth is old, older than we could ever conceptualize.

Within these cycles is where we exist.  Time is the air we breathe and we let it in and out.

In a world that is full of hustle and bustle, we often forget to do simple things like look up at the moon or the stars.  There is so much to see around us, if only we pay attention.

Love, Valentine

Completed: Boudicca Scarf

Hi all!  It’s been a bit, but I hope you all remember my Boudicca scarf.  If you don’t (and no hard feelings), you can refresh your memory here and here.

Now that we’re all on the same page, I can tell you that I’ve finished her!

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Mere moments after completing the fringe

I love how the textural details on this scarf and I’ve had so many people compliment me on it.  A lot of people have said it looks complicated, but I’ll let you in on a little secret — it really wasn’t!  If you can knit, purl, and own a third needle, you can definitely make this scarf!

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A surreptitious selfie with me and my new child on the street

The fringe was also really easy.  When I do fringe, I like to class it up a little with some knots rather than just have straight fringe.  It just makes it look that much nicer and only takes about ten minutes and a good eye.

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A better look at the fringe

Have a lovely weekend and stay calm!

Love, Valentine

Guess what day it is!

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Here I am pictured with some appropriately festive trees

In case you were not aware, my name is Valentine.  If you want to make sure I’m not joking please direct your attention to the subtitle of this blog, where I make a bad joke about it.  Presumably, you also know that today is Valentine’s Day. The day of love, couples, chocolate, romance, and me.

Growing up with the name Valentine was not always fun.  It was kind of fun to have a long name that sounded like a princess, but it was less fun when kids decided to get witty.

Here is an incomplete list of jokes I have heard (more than once) about my name:

  1. Will you be my valentine, Valentine?
  2. Who is your valentine, Valentine?
  3. Happy Valentine’s Day, Valentine!
  4. (not exactly a joke, but definitely not kind) Haha, your name is Valentine!
  5. And shout out to the grown man who legitimately did not believe my name was Valentine! You know who you are.

I have also had strangers fawn over my name and then demand to hear the start to finish story of why that is my name, complete with set design and costume information.  This is not as delightful as it sounds.

For many years, I hated Valentine’s Day because it meant that people would once again be reminded that my name was also a holiday.  I especially hated it in middle school, when cooties and hormones were both popular accessories for the masses.  By the time I got to high school, if anyone so much as looked at me on Valentine’s Day, I would be ready to rip their face off.

But then I had a wonderful realization: I don’t need to give a shit.

Yes, my name is Valentine.  Yes, people will always say dumb, dumb things about it one Valentine’s Day (seriously, no matter how funny you think it is – I assure you it is not).  But no, I don’t need to care.  Because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who are going to look foolish when I am not laughing at their joke.

And none of them have their own holiday.

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I like to take pictures with lights, because who doesn’t?

So happy Valentine’s Day.  And if any of you have a Valentine, Valentina, Valentin, or Valentino in your life, do everyone a favour and wish them a happy Valentine’s Day if you desire. But if you want them to like you, please don’t ask them to be your Valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from Valentine.

WIP: Boudicca Scarf

Hi all!  I though I’d give you a quick update on my WIPs.

I’m taking a break from the Socialite Sweater (knitting in fingering is exhausting) and working on my Boudicca Scarf!

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A close look at the cabled richness

I love how plushy and cozy the cables are and this yarn (from Tess Designer Yarns) is just so squishable.  I’m really excited to pair it with a gold shawl pin for when the weather is super cold — as it often is here in Toronto!

In other news, has anyone else read this article from the CBC about the melting Antarctic and Greenland ice?  As someone who was already concerned about climate change, I am finding myself increasingly anxious and frustrated by the lack of coordinated action by political leaders.  It often seems like there isn’t anything that I as a single person can do.  Does anyone else feel this way?

Anyway, I apologize for the dark turn this WIP took.  Have a lovely rest of your weekend!

Love, Valentine

#FiberuaryChallenge

Hello!

Just a quick update today to tell you that I’ll be participating in Fiberuary this month.

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It’s me, in case you forgot what I looked like.  Co-starring my Cape Battersea

Fiberuary is a challenge in the knitting community where you post something new about your knitting everyday for the entire month.

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Each day of the challenge (from @fiberuarychallenge)

You can follow along on Instagram with me!  I’m @vavivalentine and comment on today’s pic to let me know if you’re doing it too!

Here’s to a fun month!

Love, Valentine

P.S. I’ll give you the link to the Cape Battersea pattern, in case you wanted one of your own 🙂

WIP: The Socialite Sweater II

Hey all!

I’m still working on the Socialite Sweater, but I’ve made some changes.  I’m no longer making it with long sleeves and it’s no longer cropped.  I decided to make it a normal top length with half sleeves.

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The sweater so far!

In the picture above you can see the jog where I switch colours, which I wanted to be a focal point in the sweater.

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A knitter’s eye view!

This has been a fun project, but I’m kind of ready for it to be over.  Anyone else feel that way about projects sometimes?

Love, Valentine