Monday, January 10, 2011

We had a power cut yesterday evening, for an hour and a half. Great fun, except for my husband’s bad temper – WHY don’t we have any baked beans? It was just our bit of Drummond Place, and not all of that, but enough that a little bunch of neighbours congregated on the icy pavement, each happy to discover that they weren’t the only ones affected.

It cut badly into knitting time, however. I think I’ll probably go ahead and finish the current square, and perhaps even start the dark stripe, even if the cowl pattern turns up as expected today.

It made me wonder what domestic work must have been like in the centuries, nay millennia, before houses were lit by gas or electricity. Reality TV can’t begin to address the question because they need so much electricity for their cameras. It’s all very well nearer the equator, but up here there are lots and lots of hours of darkness from November through February, too many to spend them all in inactivity.

I sort of get the impression in Jane Austin that people ate a very substantial breakfast and then another big meal towards the end of the afternoon and finally a modest supper, easier to throw together in the dark, towards bedtime.


“Lunch with the FT” at the weekend was with the architect Koolhaas. I had never heard the name, except as a knitting pattern. Why did Jared call it that? do we know? Helen C.K.S. has been attempting it lately. I knit it for Rachel once, in cashmere Koigu, and remember it as toilsome. Helen also has a link to a hat named Christopher (Ravelry link) by which I – like her – am immediately and totally captivated.

I have added the Koigu Toreador Jacket to my wish list – definitely, at least for the moment. I don’t have much of any one colourway, but I think I’ll be fine, arranging things into colour groups. Is there an acronym for a project at that stage? It’s better than a HALFPINT, but less than a UFO.

I’m off to have a bath. Report tomorrow, insh’Allah.


  1. Jared's inspiration for the Koolhaas hat was the Seattle Public Library's main branch, which was a Rem Koolhaas design. If you do a Google image search for it, you'll see immediately.

  2. And the texture is supposed to be similar to the roof is it not? Saw a Koolhaas hat yesterday - very nicely done and about to be used as ski hat in Japan.

  3. I would be inclined to call a project in just that state that you describe as "Assembling the Kit" - ATK if you like.

  4. JennyS12:16 PM

    I always think that grumpy husbands are one of the curses of January. Why do they expect wives to be psychic anyway? You could hardly predict the need for baked beans....

    The knitting is looking good.I hope your enthusiasm will return as you get over the flu properly :-)

  5. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Jean, I don't know what a HALFPINT means, in knitting terms. Could someone please explain? I love ATK.... that describes approximately half of my stash!

    Barbara M.

  6. I can't imagine doing any reading or fine work by candlelight, given how much light I seem to need these days. I read an excerpt from a book by At Day's Close: Night in Times Past about night in pre industrial society, which is on my ever lengthening library list. Being without electricity for a even a brief period can be irritating, even without a grumpy husband. Our heat goes out if there is no electricity.

  7. Anonymous6:20 PM

    You may like to read the book "Brilliant" by Jane Brox, about the ways human culture has changed with the inventions of ever-brighter types of artifical illumination. I'd be blind by gaslight, let alone candlelight.
    -- Gretchen

  8. Electricity reached the Cumbrian farm where I was raised when I was ten. We had bottled gas lighting in the main rooms and little Kelly lamps in the bedrooms. No fridge,tv, washing machine, Hoover... As a child, I read a lot of books, but I believe staring into the fire is an under-rated leisure activity, especially after a day of heavy manual labour.

  9. =Tamar5:53 AM

    People told long stories, sang, recited poetry, guessed riddles, played charades... and knitted by touch in the dim light of the fire. It is not just a cliche that odd ideas may develop during those long winter evenings. There is much to be said for the ability to daydream, even though it may lead to philosophy.