Am really glad everyone enjoyed the Durga Puja photographs! I oscillated between hating the nonstop noise and suffocation by ad-banners, and just soaking in the sheer festive energy and beauty. But I’m still not quite sure what to make of the disconnect between the genuine creativity and interest in using natural, sustainable materials and showcasing important eco-awareness themes within the pandals themselves, and the increasingly unsustainable mode of enjoying them outside and around them – harsh floodlights for the advertisements, the plasticware use strewn all around through the days and nights of pandal-hopping, and the lack of interest in thinking of artificially manufactured and magnified sound as part of the pollution/abuse of the environment. If all these are not actively engaged, the eco-theme itself risks becoming yet another item of consumption, disengaged from the (deafened) neighbourhood. So I continue to oscillate between wanting to stay next year and explore other areas of the city, perhaps even join an effort to talk about some of these issues, and just get the hell out early to some remote hilly place….
I made it for a friend’s one-year-old daughter, whom I am going to see for the first time ever in a couple of hours. Very simple top-down seamless pattern with raglan increases and picot sewed-in edges. Very quick, very cute! I had bought a contrast skein in red to make some stripes along the waist and wrists, but then decided the cream colour looked fine on its own. One of the things I liked best about the pattern is the YO increase along the raglan. See the bottom hole where the raglan meets the armscye – no worrying about the gap created by picked up stitches when joining the sleeve! Looks like a perfect detail in the pattern itself.
Pattern:Helena. Needle: 3.75 mm Pony straights and DPNs. Yarn: Oswal Continental acrylic, 3 skeins and a smidgen, approximately 80-85 gms. These skeins, frustratingly, don’t mention yardage or metreage, but my gauge matched the pattern’s, so I would estimate approx. 450 yards total – would make it about 130-140 yards a skein of 25 gms? Gauge: 5.5 spi over stockinette. Size: 18 months size in pattern.
I made no changes, except to substitute a two-row single crochet border for the knitted one, because I did not have a circular needle to accommodate all the stitches along the border. (Yes, my stuff shipped from the US is STILL not here and two stores I tried did not have a circular needle in the size I wanted.) But I did have a crochet needle, so I first tried a crochet picot border but then gave it up, because it was altogether too much picot in the sweater. I must say crochet borders are easier to do than knitted ones, but I am still not sure I like the look of them as much.
Yesterday I went to this huge market in Central Calcutta called Newmarket, to an old wool store (Guin Wool House) and their adjacent button shop. This was sheer button heaven, with incredibly lovely wooden ones at very cheap rates. I also bought some skeins of a pure 4 ply wool I have never seen before in stores here, called Adreena’s Suprina pure new wool.
It is a lovely variegated brick shade with red and mustard flecks… I swatched for it for another baby sweater in Knitty, but I think it may be too thin, and I might run out of yarn. But it is gorgeous, and looks lovely in lace, no?
Okay, time to gift-wrap Helena, and take her to the baby recipient!
Thank you one and all for the responses to my last post! It feels good to be back in blogland. In perfect sync the weather cooled down late last week, and I promptly headed to a local wool store and cast on for something. It’s nearly done, too… will post more pictures soon.
A couple of years ago I had posted about being in Pune during the Ganpati festival. This time, am in Kolkata, the heartland of Durga Puja. As far as I can remember, people all around me have always compared the two festivals – the installation of the idols amidst colourful themed decorations, the immersions, the community/political overtones of the festivals, their historical importance, etc. Plus, every second Bengali I have met has at some point waxed eloquent (and often nostalgic) about Calcutta during the Puja… so I was very eager to experience it all. In many ways, the festivals are a lot similar – not least in the way the loudspeakers invade neighbourhoods.
But at least to my first-time-observer eyes, the nature of the celebrations is also very different. The art of the puja pandals is of a different order altogether, exploring many different textures, materials and themes… the visual magic and intensity that the various clubs that organise these installations create with bamboo, cloth, pith and clay is quite something.
Rather than indulge in comparative sociological speculation on the basis of my limited exposure, however, here is a slideshow of some of these wonderful creations within a small area of south Calcutta, mostly around my neighbourhood this year. Do click on the bottom right to view the slideshow in full-screen.
Some of these, however, deserve to be blown up on the page here too, not least for us fibre enthusiasts. Two of my favourite pandals were right around the corner from where I live. And while this meant that the neighbourhood was transformed in many ways, drawing huge crowds all through the night, complete with mini-vuvuzela sound effects, I was delighted to be able to just walk there when it wasn’t rush hour, and look at the installations in great detail. The Shib Mondir pandal, in recent years a major player on the pandal prize circuit, created a swirling, thick and colourful tropical jungle entirely out of jute fabric:
The other one by Bengal United Club, a much smaller one, was equally a riotous celebration of fibre, in very different motifs. Angular and flat icons that nevertheless burst into life through a mixture of rags in different fibres, and beads. The dancers and musicians seemed to leap out of the bamboo frames in the soft light of the dim lanterns; it was truly wonderful to peer at them closely and have them stare back at you.
Today is the last day, when the goddess is bid goodbye until next year. Best wishes, dear readers, for Dasara, Vijayadashami, Bijoya…
There are many reasons why a blog post may be delayed beyond all decent limits:
1. You move bag and baggage to the other side of the world, namely back home to India, specifically Kolkata/Calcutta,
2. Said baggage, with all your knitting supplies, is delayed indefinitely at sea,
3. You endure a summer and monsoon so hot and humid that you wish never to see any wool ever again, and wish that all the yarn would just sink somewhere in the Indian ocean,
4. You are so delirious with joy about being back home for good that for once, you actually forget the knitting and the blog for a while,
5. You then begin to ponder the wisdom of picking a place with swampy climate in which to continue a cold-weather obsession hobby, and a blog about it.
6. You seriously consider retiring desiknitter for good, and mentally compose an appropriately tragic goodbye post on the approaching fifth anniversary,
7. You wisely resist the above melodrama, and ignore the whole matter for a few months, and focus on getting a new job, home and settling in.
8. You not only lose one camera in Mexico and absent-mindedly pack the other one into lazy, meandering shipment, you also give away the phone with the decent megapixel camera.
9. You kick yourself for missing many non-knitting, blog-worthy, photo-essay-worthy opportunities due to said lack of camera.
10. You often think of a post, but recoil from recycling a photo from two years ago, thinking this to be really bad blogging form.
All these reasons, and more, apply.
But, dear readers, climate change is with us, and so the blog adjusts. Not just its tagline, but also these little unwritten rules, and – gasp – even its principal content. We are nothing if not flexible.
The long coffee break is nearly over, the froth finally settling down, just like me in my new job and home. The weather may actually be turning in a couple of weeks into a tantalizingly short autumn and winter. My knitting-focused truculence (I hope) will give way to a fresh, adventurous and seasonal crafty sensibility, because I simply have to do something with my itching hands and having the blog to record it, screw-ups and all, makes things more disciplined and fun. The long-delayed shipment, too, will finally arrive, and with it my beloved camera. I am madly thrilled about finally being back home, closer to family and all the stuff I have craved and missed all these years, and there are shawls to knit for aunts, booties for babies on the way, vests for fathers-in-law, little scarves for nieces and suchlike….
Plus, other gadgets and and a whole dizzying world of fabrics also beckon…. I am looking, with a gleam in my eye, at the Usha Janome Stitch Magic, periodically also dreaming about one of the old Singer foot-treadle machines. My tailor woes continue, so a more serious, methodical approach to the whole clothes fitting question is at hand. There might be some experimenting with basic gardening, and there is a kickass school of all kinds of embroidery and quilting not far away that is really tempting me!
Knitting may no longer be keeping insanity at bay for me as an expat academic in the Bay Area, but let’s see where all these desi crafting adventures in a new city near another bay (of Bengal) take me…. stay tuned, and see you soon!