27 August 2010

The Sheep Man

Thank you all for the response on the last post (seems like people prefer reading about Murakami over knitting..). And I am a fan, so I won't let the subject go just yet. But this is after all a knitting blog, so while I'll try answering the questions from the last post today, I also want to show you this knitted sheep once more. Some of you might remember I made Murakami mitts a while ago, to some friends of mine (the same two friends with whom I enjoyed the festival - without the mitts, though, it's August!). This was right after I'd read A Wild Sheep Chase, my very first Murakami novel - or rather the first Murakami anything. I loved that book, and couldn't just let it go. So I made the mitts. The pattern on the palm is champagne bubbles, because someone once said reading Murakami was like drinking champagne. And it is, only better, because the Murakami bubbles last longer. I haven't made myself a pair yet, but I know what to "write" on them. I'm just waiting for the time and inspiration to knit them.

So, the Sheep Man appear in A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance. Someone says the latter is a sequel to the first, and it sort of is, too. But don't expect to get any answers to the thousands of questions from A Wild Sheep Chase. I read Dance, Dance, Dance looking for answers, and I think I'd enjoyed the book a lot more if I hadn't. The book stands on its own feet, and it's beautiful! I will certainly re-read it in a while, without any other expectation than finding beauty and bubbles.

Some of you asked if he's popular in Norway. He is, but it's not like everyone has read his books or even heard about him. I know a lot of people who haven't. They have heard about him now, though, after listening to me for some days.. But he is popular enough that the 250 tickets for the live show sold out in 1 second and made the computer system managing the tickets break down. And then a few hundreds more got tickets for watching him on screen, but those tickets sold out pretty fast, too.

Haruki Murakami didn't tell us what he's currently working on, and I don't think anyone thought of asking about it either. I guess we were all too busy waiting for the Norwegian translation of 1Q84 and its 1500 pages. And since Murakami insists on Volume 1 and 2 being read as one, the translation of both has to be completed before we can even start. I'll be so ready when they're available!

25 August 2010

The Murakami Blues


The Murakami festival is over. Four days of hearing about him, thinking about him, talking about him, hearing him talk. Except for eating and sleeping once in a while, we did nothing but this. For four days (I didn't even knit. Imagine it!). Haruki Murakami himself has been in Oslo for 4-5 weeks, and came to the festival on Monday. We didn't have tickets to the live show, but we got tickets for watching the show on screen. It wasn't Plan A, but as a Plan B, it was great! So how was he? He said it himself:

"I'm an ordinary guy. Maybe not while I'm writing - you must come see me while I'm writing." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

And so he seemed. Like an ordinary guy. Very much alive, very funny, but ordinary. And yet there is nothing ordinary about his writing. Critics all over the world struggle when trying to put into words what it is about Murakami.

"Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. That is what my stories are about." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

It's hard to tell what else these stories are about, it's hard to tell what it is that he does so well. But there is this ordinary guy, he merely exists in the world, and seems fine with that. No job, no partner, no close friends. He likes listening to music, he likes to cook. And then something happens. A love affair. A wild sheep chase. A deep well. And our guy takes on the challenge, fantastic things happen - or do they really? - and when it's over, the guy keeps on living his ordinary life. And the text is so naked, silent, direct. His writing certainly does something to me, and I like that something.

"I have no plan. That is a main thing. (..) When the story ends, I just know it ends, so I stop the story. (..) The characters just pop up in my mind, from the blue. (..) When the Sheep Man appeared, I was shocked." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

We laughed when he told about his creating the Sheep Man. Those of us who have read the book know this character is really something out of the ordinary. Murakami must have one great imagination (well, I never doubted that). He considers himself lucky to be a writer. That way he doesn't have to stop dreaming when he wakes up in the morning. I hope he never stops dreaming.

Apart from Murakami himself visiting, the festival program was full of other great events. Frode Grytten's "While waiting for Murakami" was spectacular as always (there is a great picture from the show here), the Peter Cat concert with Håvard Wik trio and Gisken Armand reading from Murakami's books was beautiful. And the Scandinavian Murakami translators talking about how it was translating Murakami was very interesting (I will never read a Murakami book in English again). Ika Kaminka (Norwegian) and Mette Holm (Danish) are currently translating the new Murakami book 1Q84, and Yukiko Duke (Swedish) has interviewed Murakami about the book. They talked about the book(s), and said we have a lot to look forward to. I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my signed (!) copies of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Sputnik Sweetheart. In Norwegian, of course.

20 August 2010

Today


It feels like this little butterfly and its cousins, aunts and uncles have all moved into my stomach. The Murakami festival starts today, and I'm so excited!

16 August 2010

Adonis


Adonis, the ever-youthful, handsome Syrian/Greek god and lover of Aphrodite, murdered for his beauty by another god disguised as a boar. My interpretation is a sweater made to make The Man look even more handsome. The patterned front panel is slightly wider at chest than at hip level, and creates an optical illusion of the perfect male body, by enhancing the V-shape they all dream of. The stitch pattern is simple, but one of my favorites for masculine garments, so is the shoulder design, the seamless hybrid originally unvented by Elizabeth Zimmermann (our heroine, isn't she?).

It is worked from the bottom up and is almost seamless. Worked on 3.5 mm needles in a yarn thin enough for a warm man to wear it all the time, yet durable enough for a lot of use. The yarn is lovely to work with, the one I always return to for sweaters. A forgiving yarn that makes your stitches look great. I find it's thin enough for wearing at work (which means I get to use it a lot), yet thick enough to manage to finish the project. The pattern is simple enough for watching TV, but except for the sleeves which are all stockinette stitch, things happen all the time to keep the knitter interested. Despite having a previous history of knitting mostly smaller items, I found this project extremely satisfying. I'll never be afraid of knitting a large sweater again.

Available as kit or pattern in my pattern store. You can do it!

13 August 2010

Friday


It rained a lot all morning, and I mean a lot. It literally poured down, and there is an enormous puddle in front of the house, there is no way to enter the house without rubber boots. Then it suddenly stopped, and I got to read a few pages in the sun before I went inside to make pizza. And yes, it is the chanterelle pizza, once again. Luxury on the last day of the never ending summer holiday. Which of course had to come to an end sooner or later, as it always does. I guess it's okay. The children and I have had more than 7 weeks off, and we've had a great time. A truly relaxing holiday for everyone. Just hoping that the rest of August will be warm and sunny, so that we'll have a slow start on the darker time of the year.

That book I'm reading is no holiday, though. It's so much Murakami, yet so little like him at the same time. The story is so dark, and I don't quite get what's going on. Not at all, actually. I really wonder where this will end (at the End of the World, I guess..). Only one more week before the big happening. I can hardly wait!

09 August 2010

Tomatoes from heaven

Oven-dried tomatoes, which taste like heaven. The recipe is Liselotte's (in Danish), and very easy: Cut tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt, rosemary and a bit of sugar, and let dry in the oven at 100°C for about 6 hours. It takes a while, but in the meantime, a lot of knitting can be done, and the result is fantastic! Put them in your salad, on bread, or just eat them from the jar. My guess is they won't last long in there anyway.

07 August 2010

Mushrooms

It seems like autumn is here already, at least if you ask the chanterelles. Yes, I know there are mushrooms in summer, but to me they say it's already - or at least soon to be - autumn. I think it's my favorite autumn happening, the mushroom hunting. I love being in the woods with a purpose, and the purpose of finding delicious mushrooms to be had for dinner is the best of them all. We found a lot today. And we made chanterelle pizza. The thin, Italian style pizza, but instead of tomato sauce, with chanterelles sauteed in sour cream, and with fried bacon and sun-dried tomatoes on top. We've never made such a pizza before, but it will surely be repeated. It was a great success!

Apart from the obvious joy of finding mushrooms, we had a great time by our favorite lake in the woods, with the canoe, the hammock, pancakes on the primus stove and bathing. A lovely day! My husband's summer holiday ends tomorrow, so next week, the children and I are one our own when he's at work. I wish for warm, sunny days. As much as I love mushrooms, I haven't had quite enough of summer yet.

02 August 2010

While waiting for Murakami

"Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who's in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It's like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven't seen in a long time." - Haruki Murakami.

It's been a busy morning. As you probably know, I love the books by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami*. I even made those mitts, you know. Those books make me feel at home somehow. They're like missing pieces of myself. So, when the news broke that he himself was coming to Norway, I knew I had to be there. And today, the ticket sales started. We were so close to getting hold of the tickets. Close, but not close enough. Fortunately, they've made a whole Murakami festival out of the visit, and we did manage to get tickets to the other almost as exciting events.

While waiting for the next weeks to pass, I'll read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I have read all his novels, except for this one. I hope we won't have to wait for the translation of his latest novel 1Q84 for too long.

And if you haven't read A Wild Sheep Chase, you probably won't understand why that sheep is here. Well, you'll just have to read the book, then.

*Make sure you have the sound turned on when clicking the link. The music is beautiful!