Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Time Travel

As a child I longed to be able to travel through time. I'm not a sci-fi geek, just a lover of what as children we probably all called 'the olden days.'

I know there'd be no running hot water, no central heating and none of a whole bunch of other conveniences, but I can't escape the fantasy, even as an adult, that it would be so much fun to break through time and find out what it was like to be, say, a woman in Victorian England.

I have a shelf full of young adult and children's fiction about girls and boys who got to find a way into the past and even a few adult books on the same subject (hello, Diana Gabaldon!) which are nice little worlds I retreat into sometimes when I want to indulge the fantasy.

At other times, I'm just happy to read literature from the periods I love best, or lose myself in those gorgeous, wonderful literary adaptations (or costume drama as it's so often called now) that seem to take up a lot of space in my DVD collection. 

And what's even better is finding something to knit that is in some way contemporary. Lately, I've been reading Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, which is full of treats for the knitter. Discussions of the procurement of shetland wool, the wonders of lace and the frequent mention of 'worsted work', which I initially thought was perhaps knitting in heavier weighted wool but is in fact a kind of needlework. 

To that end, I've spent the last day and a half sheltering from the heat by a fan, with cold drinks and my Myrtle Leaf shawl while watching a borrowed copy of the recent adaptation of Cranford. It's the story of a fictional small village in the north of England in the mid-19th century. It's a fabulous cast, bursting with names such as Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins and a whole host of faces you'll recognise if you've watched anything by the BBC in the last two decades. 

I'm disappointed to say the writers didn't include all the knitting in the adaptation, although there is a scene or two which focuses on a piece of lace which is reputed to be so fine because it was made by nuns (who have plenty of time to concentrate, given they don't speak much). I'm also disappointed to see very few knitted shawls. 

As an aside, I'm also listening to Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbevilles at the moment and it seems every other page contains someone throwing a knitted shawl over their shoulders. I sure hope the new adaptation is chock full of country women wearing knitted shawls when I finally get to see it.

Nevertheless, I have wrapped myself happily in this sumptuous depiction of Victorian rural life and worked on my shawl which is just about the most joyful lace experience I've had to date. I love it. Love it, love it, love it. But it's only good for day work. Can't manage the black lace in the evenings very well, so I'm making the most of it this week while I'm not at work.

Isn't she lovely, my Myrtle? I've had to tink back a few times but on the whole, I'm in a groove now and simply can't imagine anything I'd rather be knitting. Obsessed? Just a little. Happy? Oh yes! I'm not sure it gets better than this.

Myrtle Leaf Shawl

I took a break from the DVDs only for a moment to write this. Next, I'm heading into another Mrs Gaskell novel - Wives and Daughters. I've done my chores for the day. I'm free now to do as I like.

Cranford airs on ABC 1 soon, if you're local and that way inclined. I'll be watching it again.