Saturday, 18 June 2011

Summertime and the Cotton Knitting is Easy. . .

I recently was working at the book fair of a long (eight day!) academic conference that took place in the lovely city of Fredericton, New Brunswick. I found a really wonderful shop downtown called Yarns on York and absolutely fell in love with the colour of this deep coral yarn. It's called Sawya and is 60% cotton, 25% alpaca and 15% silk. It's created by Mirasol, and I love that proceeds go to building schools in remote areas of Peru. It's a dream to knit, and I had a lot of fun creating this summer scarf.

Then I finally finished a project that I've been working on since January. Part of the problem was that I was using this lovely textured, 100% cotton yarn made by Mission Falls, which then was subsequently discontinued. Of course I didn't initially buy enough and so had to scour a number of yarn stores in and around Toronto before I thankfully found a few more balls.

My inspiration for this was taking a block from Nicky Epstein's fabulous book Knitting Block by Block called Seed Stitch Cookie Twist (page 194) and expanding it into a scarf.

It turned out to be quite heavy so I think I'll be using it more as a fall scarf. But it's wide enough to work as a nice summer wrap for cooler nights.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Read the Small Print. . .

I'm trying to decide if this would be the coolest poster ever, or if it just makes my eyes hurt. Spineless Classics creates posters that include the entire text of the book - in about 4pt, which apparently can be read if you have 20/20 vision, or with a magnifying glass. You can see the different selections on their website here. (Thanks to The Fabric of My Life for the link).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Little Russian Surrealism from the 1920s. . .

Quadraturan from Valeriy Kozhin on Vimeo.

I love this animated film of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s short story "Quadraturan" found in his collection of surreal and very funny tales written in the 1920s called Memories of the Future, translated by Joanne Turnball. I highly recommend the whole collection - there's a great story called "The Bookmark" in which the Eiffel Tower decides to run away. The other thing I like about the collection is how many of the pieces deal in some way with relationships between words, books and readers. Completely original and entertaining. Thanks to NYRB's A Different Stripe for the link to the video.
Looking forward to Krzhizhanovsky's next book, also published by NYRB Classics, coming out in December. The Letter Killers Club promises a group of writers who are "professional killers of conceptions" and compares it to G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, a book I also quite liked.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Woody Goes to Paris. . .

It's been a while since I've so enjoyed a Woody Allen movie but his latest, Midnight in Paris, is the perfect summer escape. Not only for all the great shots of the city - the opening is a lovely montage of different Paris locations in the day, in the rain and at night - but the script is clever, moving and very funny. Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood hack who wants to be a serious novelist. He is visiting Paris with his fiancee Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents, none of whom find the city as enchanting as he does. While Inez spends her time in the company of a pendantic bore, played by Michael Sheen, Gil gets transported back to 1920s Paris and starts hanging out with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and a young woman who has been modelling for Picasso. There's a very entertaining scene in a bar where Gil is trying to explain that he's a time traveller to Dali, Man Ray and Buñuel, none of whom find it at all unusual. Oh, and the gorgeous clothes! And music by Cole Porter. And the Charleston. Just cinematic bliss.

A couple of other related things to recommend:

I'm fairly new to downloading podcasts, but I've thankfully discovered Filmspotting and it has quickly become my essential Friday treat. Matty and Adam are terrific at talking about what makes a movie worth seeing, they love many of my favourite films, they have a funny segment called Massacre Theatre where they enact a famous scene for viewers to guess at, and every episode ends with a fun and thoughtful "Top 5" list on various cinematic subjects. Plus they don't just review new films, but often embark on marathons to further their own ongoing education. Their latest episode was just wonderful - a review of Midnight at Paris (they loved it), a discussion about Red, the last film in their Krzysztof Kieslowski marathon, and their Top 5 movies set in Paris. Honestly, if you love film, you must listen to these guys! You can download their free podcast from iTunes or listen to it at their website here.

And if you love Paris (and who doesn't?) and Woody Allen films, particularly Husbands and Wives, you would enjoy Hervé Le Tellier's novel Enough About Love. Two women in their forties embark on affairs - one will be successful, one won't - and the novel follows both women, their husbands and their new lovers, as they talk, philosophize and intellecualize about relationships and love. There is a psychatrist - as in many Allen films - but he's one of the participants involved, so he's not much help. I loved the playfulness of the prose and seriousness of the discussions. Very French, and yes, it will make you want to go to Paris tout suite!