Friday, 31 January 2014

As tradition dictates

As recent tradition dictates, on Up Helly Aa night (last Tuesday in January) I go round to my brother's flat, we order a takeaway, he connects up the laptop to the telly, and we watch the Up Helly Aa webcast and get faintly homesick. Or maybe nostalgic. Really if you can't be there in the wind and rain (and it was a particularly vile night in Lerwick that night), watching the webcast in warmth and comfort is the next best thing. It started out a few years ago, as one of the commentators said, with three cameras and a laptop. Maybe that's slight exaggeration (or it might be the literal truth!) but it was a fairly low-key affair, and lots of fun for all that. However it's getting more slick and professional every year, without losing its sense of being truly local.

My pictures are rubbish because obviously being pictures of the telly they're a bit fuzzy, but you'll get the fiery gist and possibly get an idea of how windy it was.

What a lot of non-Shetland people maybe don't know, even if they've heard of Up Helly Aa, is that this one, the big one, the Lerwick Up Helly Aa, is only one of a number of Up Helly Aa celebrations, as a lot of the country areas have their own on different nights. An absolutely filthy night is often the norm for a rural Up Helly Aa. In the town, the galley is burned in the playpark in the middle of town so although it was certainly a grim night on Tuesday they get a degree of shelter from surrounding buildings.  When you're launching a galley into the sea in a gale, in a village that is barely more than a hamlet and everyone's tramping through bog and across beach to watch, a wild night in every sense is pretty much what's expected.  There's a teeny bit of footage, plus a bit of good-natured ribbing at the expense of those who burn their galleys in a playpark, in this video.

There's no denying however that the Lerwick Up Helly Aa is a real spectacle.

The town hall flies the raven banner for the day and this year the clock faces were lit up in red. It doesn't show up very well in that photo but it looked good on the webcast. Social media make the experience more shareable - a lot of people were tweeting about it, tweets were being read out by the webcast commentators and I saw a tweet from one of my old school friends, now living in New Zealand and therefore up early to watch it, so we're now following each other on Twitter. Shetland people are often scattered round the world anyway, and since the oil boom there are a lot of people who possibly only lived in Shetland for a short time but get a chance to relive Up Helly Aa this way. Technology makes the world smaller. And also a bit weirder.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Calm colours

I've been watching the second season of The Bridge. And the thing that struck me the other day is how extraordinarily restful it is to watch. I mean the colours. It's all so muted and peaceful. Never mind what's actually happening in the plot, it looks calm. Apparently Danes (or possibly Swedes, I'm not sure who's from where in this season) even bleed in a muted and tasteful way.

 Yes, I took a picture of my television.

I think after the general bright twinkliness of Christmas and New Year I was in need of some muted neutrals.

The other morning it was very foggy and on the way to the mundane world of the supermarket I stopped for a completely magical walk round the loch. It was all very arty and Danish. Or possibly Swedish. Generally we're more dreich and Taggarty (disclaimer: haven't actually seen Taggart in years and years).

The sun was making efforts to burn through the fog and gradually it cleared.

I almost wish I'd zoomed in on this one to get the misty island without the contrast of the sun on the rocks. Might have to crop that one and see how it looks.

Ah. Nice colours.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The sock's afoot

Okay, that's a strange picture. I took it myself, then rotated the file before I saved it, and it looks sort of .. odd.

Oh well, warm cosy feet anyway. I finished these on, er, Friday I think. I finished grafting the toe just before I had to go and get the kids from school. And I'm very pleased with them - the socks that is (the kids are tolerable too). 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Sock-knitting frenzy

Last week I found a sock I'd started knitting, ahem, some time ago - the toe shaping hadn't worked so I'd ripped it back to the gusset shaping and then promptly got interrupted by something else and forgot about it. Finishing the first sock took no time at all in the end - I just kept decreasing the foot until it fit, then kept on as normal.  I cast on the second one on Saturday and look, I'm shaping the toe already! This is officially my quickest ever sock - and partly that's because the wool is a 6-ply, but it's also that I know what I'm doing with vanilla socks now. Yay for cozy socks!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Day 1: Still no flying cars.

There for your perusal is the Hogmanay onion-skin-and-daffodil dyed wool. 

As ever, a yellowy shade is almost impossible to photograph - in reality this one is rather more mustardy and rather less pleasant. However as a contrast colour in some kind of colourwork I think it'll work quite well. Maybe some stripes would look good. Hmm. I sometimes think I spend more time planning (or just day-dreaming about) future knitting projects than actually knitting them. This is completely normal, isn't it?

Today we have continued with our strategy of lazing around doing not much, which is quite nice, though the kids are possibly going a bit stir crazy. Certainly the bicker-o-meter went up a few notches today!

And I finally got round to having a piece of Christmas cake. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... very nice this year. At some point I'll try to blog the recipe so that when I find I've lost the printout-with-scribblings in 10 months time I won't panic. It was actually the recipe I usually use but for a smaller tin so I had to start by doing arithmetic to work out the proportions, which I don't care to repeat too often. It's funny, I honestly hadn't felt like eating anything as overtly Christmassy as Christmas cake until today. And it'll probably last me another month.