Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Choosing a good yarn

Once again, your advice is sought please. I've nearly finished 'Vanessa Bell' and can't quite decide what to read next. There are two books that have suggested themselves, and as my brain is proving selectively functional at the moment I wonder if you could help me choose. Here are the two contestants:

On the left you see 'A Brief Stay with the Living' by Marie Darrieussecq. I've never read anything of hers and wouldn't have chosen this book for myself, but my mum went to see her talk at a literary festival a few days ago and brought this back. She really enjoyed the talk, and told me the next day of Darrieussecq saying that something she'd found she liked about Britain was 'the soft quality of the rain' and that she'd probably include this in a book sometime. Mum said that listening to her talk about her work made made her think of other artists collecting threads for their embroidery, fabrics for a patchwork. You see where I'm going with this don't you? I've been reading about one of my favourite artists, and inspired by all the sewing I've seen in blogland recently have also been amassing fabrics for a patchwork - so an artist who builds up her novels from scraps of word pictures seems like a perfect choice. (Darrieussecq doesn't only make verbal pictures - look at how she signed the book):

But that's not all - on turning the book over the first thing I read was a quote from Scotland on Sunday: 'A novel that bears resemblace to the best of Virginia Woolf.' So, it's all there really: the Stephen sisters association, a recommendation from someone I respect. Nice cover, chain of association? Tick, tick.

Then in the right corner we have 'Sleeping Fires' by George Gissing. This was the book I was intending to read next. (I told you it had an amazing cover didn't I? It's a William Morris print of acanthus leaves and seedheads, in the most vibrant shades of pink and orange). As you can see it's brought quite a lot of supporters: the flowers and candles that have been kindly watching over my school work and the scarf that's keeping me warm today are all decked out in the team colours:

Gissing comes highly recommended by my friends, and this book has also been sitting on my shelf for a year. As if that wasn't enough, I was reading Patience Gray's 'Honey from a Weed' while eating my lunch yesterday and and came across a mention of her reading 'By the Ionian Sea' on her travels through Italy with Irving Davis. See? An equally strong case there too, I think.

So, what do you think? I was going to make a poll for your blogging pleasure, but realised that that really was a displacement activity, so a comment if you don't mind would be very nice.

There is some knitting content in here, I promise. I realised recently that something that would greatly improve my wardrobe is a navy blue, wraparound cardigan like the ones I used to wear for ballet, but with a lower acrylic content. I liked the Cache-coeur cardigan Fluffa knit for herself to go back to school, and I realise I already have a pattern for a similar one:

It's 'Paula' from the Debbie Bliss 'Alpaca Silk' book, and herein the problem. While I'd love to swathe myself in a giant garment of this luxurious fibre, I think nineteen balls might be slightly beyond the capacity of my pocket. So, if you've any suggestions for a good yarn substitute they'd be gratefully received. It has to be navy, and not too acrylic.


Elizabeth said...

You might want to check out Knit Picks - they have a lot of lovely yarns for cheap. I substituted Merino Style for the DK version of Alpaca Silk - but Knit Picks has chunkier yarns that are alpaca blends. I wish I had some advice for you on the books - but I'm actually not familiar with either author. But you might want to go with the one that's compared to Woolf.

Marie said...

You might want to check (though I'm not sure if they ship to the UK) as their Peruvian Collection yarns (several different weights of various alpaca or wool blended with other fibers) are relatively cheap and come in many colors. Also, WEBS ( carries Alpaca Silk and there is a 20% discount if you order is more than 60 dollars. :)