Sunday, 21 September 2008


I have become so accustomed to having my knitting in my hands through most evening entertainments with friends be it chatting and drinking wine, watching television or just the stars, when someone says after dinner, as I am just contemplating with some satisfaction that I will be turning the heel on my second sock, 'What about a game of Kniffel?' my face might momentarily display a wave of shock and dismay at all that potential knitting time wasted. Now, as a well trained house guest I know that to refuse would be breaking the unwritten rules of the invited guest which include:

No bringing strangers home to spend the night
No leaving hair in the plug hole
No refusing to play board games on request.

Basically, Kniffel turns out to be Yahtzee in German which is an extended form of poker dice so not too taxing for the mathematically or strategically challenged such as myself. What shocked me was how grumpy I became and at points downright surly when convinced that my host thought I couldn't add up or hissed disapproval when he considered that I had made a tactical error. I am sure that if I had had my knitting in my hand and could have thrown my dice through some ingenious foot pedal system I would have been the most congenial playmate but sadly for poor Juergen he was soundly beaten (at least once) by someone with all the sportsmanship of John MacEnroe on a bad day.

So, the Yarn Harlot was right, it is the knitting which makes us patient and sanguine, remove the needles at your peril....

This undeserving creature was further chastened by the most wonderful trip we went on on my last day in Italy. This time we headed up into the valleys, gorges and high plains of the Apennines. As we wound deeper into the mountains the sides of the wooded valleys seemed to swallow us up, giving a completely different atmosphere to the landscape compared with the hilltop towns looking down over fertile valleys that I had become accustomed to.

Our first stop was Visso, which, as you can see already has a slightly out of the way feel with the high hills surrounding it on all sides.

We pressed on into the mountains and came to the high plains. Across the valley on a small hill is Castelluccio which has to be my favourite place of the whole journey. It is set in this vast expanse of rolling hills and fields leading up to mountains which even now are beginning to be covered in snow.
The town itself, which has been sadly knocked about by earthquakes makes few concessions to the tourist trade.
Much of it is still being repaired and refurbished.

But where else could you eat your lunch with a view like this? It's hard to describe but I found it so beautiful that I could feel the tears at the back of my eyes. They say in the spring that the plains are a mass of wild flowers but there was something about the starkness of the early autumn landscape that really moved me. I think it has something to do with the fact that for most of the week I have looked at buildings and paintings that demonstrate how clever and creative human beings are. This scenery and the struggle of Castelluccio to cling to its hill reminds me of how small we really are and how magnificent natural beauty is. I've always been on the side of nature. I really want to create something that will remind me of this beauty but I fear my skills are far from adequate for the task.

And just in case you thought I had completely forgotten that this is a fibre arts blog, look what I saw in a shop doorway in Norcia on the way back. It does make me a little sad to see abandoned and neglected spinning wheels like this used as an ornament. It makes me want to rescue them and take them home to be used for the purpose intended.

Next time normal service will be resumed. I have plenty of hand spun to show you, a couple of finished objects and an idea or two of what to do with hand spun.


LittleBerry said...

I've thoroughly enjoyed your trip to Italy... I feel like I've been too :o)

Lin said...

What beautiful views.

Auntie Noo said...

I love your travelogs nearly as much as your fibre! :)

fran said...

What beautiful views Jane, how ever did you manage to tear yourself away??
Thankyou for sharing your holidays with us and don't worry about the fibrey stuff for now, my eyes get a treat whenver they visit your blog in one way or another ;o)

Suse-the-slow-knitta said...

what beautiful views, a balm to the soul.

Spinningfishwife said...

I buy wheels like this....I work out how to get them home afterwards, oops!

celadon2 said...

Dangerous that, taking our knitting away!

The Yarn Harlot was right.

K. said...

Those pictures are beautiful. I really like the one with the beautiful cross over the door. I had no idea Italy looked like that. It reminds me in some ways of western Ireland. How terrible to see a spinning wheel out in the weather like that!