In Search of Natural Light

These past few weeks, I have been knitting and reading with an Icelandic theme.  I am still reading “Names for the Sea:  A Stranger in Iceland“.  The author spent a year teaching 19th century English literature in Iceland.  But she hardly ever writes about that.  Mostly she writes about the absence of fruit and vegetables and how strange it feels to be “a foreigner”. 
Now, Iceland is a place I have always had on my “must visit” list.  But the threat of a 3-day journey by ship over rough seas followed by the torture of a diet of cottage cheese and dried fish?  Um… no thanks!

Except… maybe it’s not really like that.  There doesn’t seem to be a ferry from Aberdeen anymore. I would have to fly to Copenhagen  and then to Reykjavik.  Expensive and complex, but at least sea-sickness would not be an issue.

Continuing on the Icelandic theme, last weekend I picked up a copy of Knitscene and devoured an article by Cirilia Rose about a gathering of the knitterati in Iceland.  There’s more on her blog. She talks of boutique shopping and wonderful hot chocolate and amazing yarn, set in an awe-inspiring landscape. With Jared Flood, Stephen West, Ysolda Teague…. the whole gang was there!  That’s more like it! If I ever win the Lottery (unlikely, as I never buy a ticket) I will go on a Knitting Iceland holiday.
I see that Cirilia has also written a piece for the latest issue of PomPom.  Has anyone seen this?  Is it worth £9.50?
So I returned to “Names for the Sea” with a more circumspect eye and read a little deeper. Isn’t it funny how you trust your narrator?  Maybe Sarah Moss isn’t like me after all!  Maybe we wouldn’t get on if we met in real life!  Or maybe she was just rather depressed.  I wouldn’t blame her:  two young children, a new job, living in an unfamiliar country in the midst of an economic crash with a volcano erupting down the road.  Yeah, that could get to you! 

She writes of the absence of daylight in winter.  As if this was unusual.  And I realised that even within the UK our experience of light is very different from North to South.  Talking to The Girl on Sunday, she was shocked to hear that there had only been daylight between about 10am and 3pm that day in Aberdeen.  She said someone at school had asked her if it was darker in the North and she hadn’t really known.  Yes.  Yes, it is.
Other things about Icelandic living rang loud bells for me – the prevailing driving style:  too fast, too close,  in big cars, with zero use of mirrors or signals. Sarah Moss’s reaction to this was to stay indoors, avoiding driving wherever possible.  Yup.  That’s me.  Only to discover she had spent almost a year in Iceland and seen nothing beyond the domestic and working realms?  Yup.
And the local attitude to money among those of working age? The same.  There are very few second-hand shops in Aberdeenshite, unless you mean charity shops.  People buy new and throw away last year’s model. Interiors are cream-carpeted and glossy.  Children here do not wear patched hand-me-down clothes like the middle-class kids of London, they have the latest designer labels.
Remoteness, insularity, over-inflated consumerist expectations and debt:  that’s what Iceland and NE Scotland have in common!
And yet, there must be pockets of resistance here, as in Iceland. I just need to find them.
Until then, I have blogland.
And this last week, with an office unexpectedly to myself, I have spent my lunchtimes listening to knitting podcasts while knitting – wow!  Creativity in the workplace!  This is a whole new realm of knitterly exposure!  I recommend Student Knits (UK) and A Playful Day (UK) and also enjoyed an episode of Dramatic Knits (USA).

And with the exciting news of a one per cent annual payrise, back-dated to 1 August I am treating myself to a glorious necklace (as seen on Attic 24).
To hell with Burgundy! (Or Reykjavik.)