April 13, 2012

Radio Silence and More Knitting with Tolstoy

Yes, I know, I haven't been updating this thing.  There's a reason, and unfortunately, this reason will continue for at least two more weeks (damn the real world getting in the way).  I am working on things (slowly), but I haven't had time to take pictures, nor the inspiration to write about them here.  Maybe next month I'll update on my June project progress.

So this isn't an excuse post, I do have an update on the book quote thing from my last random post.  You see, I finished War and Peace...oh, about a month ago?  It took me a month to read, I know that.  Not bad, but that's another write-up entirely.

No, what really caught my fancy was two more knitting-related quotes that really stood out from the numerous references to yarn craft that Tolstoy throws in his books. The first one is a good 80% into the book, and oddly, has an unusual character praising the activity of knitting (note, still have the Project Gutenburg version of this book on Kindle):
"She [Natasha] was sitting in an armchair placed sideways, screening the light of the candle from him, and was knitting a stocking.  She had learned to knit stockings since Prince Andrew had casually mentioned that no one nursed the sick so well as old nurses who knit stockings, and that there is something soothing in the knitting of stockings" (loc. 21291).
I think most of us who do yarn crafts can attest that doing such crafts is soothing...well, when you don't want to throw it across the room, at least.  And I can imagine a more relaxed person is a better caretaker (do note that these books take place around 1812, and were written in the same century; hence the assumption that caretakers are female.  The sexism is a product of the author's time, though I find that Tolstoy handles the characterization of women very well for a man writing in the 19th century).  Anyway, given the next line mentions clicking needles, I presume that Prince Andrew had ulterior motives for this suggestion to Natasha. I think he found watching and listening to someone else knit relaxing, more than suggesting that Natasha would find it relaxing.  If you know the context of this scene...well, the request and Natasha's compliance are quite understandable. 

The second is one of the last chapters of the first epilogue (the one that ends the story, not the essays):
"'Two, two!' they [the children] shouted.  This meant two stockings, which by a secret process know only to herself Anna Makarovna used to knit at the same time on the same needles, and which, when they were ready, she always triumphantly drew, one out of the other, in the children's presence" (loc. 21857). 
What I really want to know is 1) what process is being described here, because I  haven't got around to knitting socks yet, and therefore don't know the techniques or the history enough to be able to guess it, and 2) how the hell Tolstoy knew that some weird way to knit two socks at a time existed back then.  It's not like he could just Google it.  Maybe he knew how to knit?  Or maybe his wife?  I don't know much about the author, so I can't say.

There are other quotes I bookmarked, but they're all standard 'so and so was knitting x'.  These two were a lot more thought provoking.  Who know that I could (or would) read War and Peace and geek out on the knitting references?

Anyway, as I need to get some sleep (have to get up early on a Saturday, *sigh*, though it's my own fault), I will sign off.  Hopefully my life will be put back in order by the middle of next month, but I can't make a promise on that.  Until then I most likely won't get around to posting.