Wotan had taken away her immortality, but at least she still had her knitting needles.
I'm an opera fan, and while I don't listen to operatic music exclusively, I do find it highly suitable as a background for knitting.
A love of opera is much like a love of knitting: one feels compelled to spread the joy. To that end, I give you my off-the-cuff list of opera arias, duets, and scenes that pair well with certain types of knitting.
- For knitting 2x2 rib. "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's The Barber of Seville. It may only be true for continental knitters (of which I am one), but if you can get the alternation of your knitting and purling to fall in with the rhythm of Figaro's patter, you can build up a head of steam and finish your sweater or cuff ribbing in record time. Don't try to keep up with the final molto allegro, though. You'll put your eye out.
- For knitting something for your sweetheart. "Deh vieni, non tardar" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. My favorite aria from my favorite opera. Simple and calm, but filled with the buoyant feeling you get (at least, I hope you do) when you think of the person you love.
- For knitting lace. "Sul fil d'un soffio etesio," from Verdi's Falstaff. When it's properly performed, the texture of the music is pure gossamer.
- For ripping back a little. "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinen Herzen," from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). The first line of this notoriously difficult, fiendlishly angry aria translates to "A vengeful Hell pulses within my heart." Enough said.
- For ripping back a whole lot. "Ah, chi mi dice mai" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Another vengeance aria. Includes the delicious and appropriate lines "I will destroy him. I will rip his heart out."
- For weaving in ends or sewing seams. "Dome epais" from Délibes's Lakmé. Awfully Enya for something written in the last century. If this won't keep you calm and balanced as your project nears completion, you need to switch to decaf.
- For dancing madly about the room with a really cool just-finished object. "Je suis Titania" from Thomas's Mignon, "Son vergin vezzosa" from Bellini's I Puritani, or "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. All sunny and frolicsome, to put it mildly. You get to be the queen of the fairies, a sprightly virgin, or a love-smacked Juliet Capulet. Take your pick.
- For lying down very still in the dark after completing your first Fair Isle or Aran sweater, an Orenburg lace shawl, or some other absolutely epochal project. Isolde's Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. "Liebestod" means "love-death" and the character in question is simultaneously dying of, and being transfigured by, love. This is for celebrating achievements bigger than a new hat or a shrug. This is for the projects that lift you up to the next level of knitting.
- For trying to collect yourself when the #$@%^! pattern just isn't working, or you just found a @$#%^ error five rows back. "A vos jeux, mes amis," from Thomas's Hamlet, "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice" from Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, "When I am laid in earth," from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca, "Addio del passato" from Verdi's La Traviata. All mad scenes or pre-death arias. Have a good cry. You'll feel better.
- All-purpose. "Song to the Moon" from Dvorák's Rusalka, "Mi chiamano Mimì" from Puccini's La Bohème, "Depuis le jour" from Charpentier's Louise, "Gold is a fine thing," from Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love).
And of course, it would have been therapeutic for Cio-Cio San (aka Madama Butterfly) to have a hobby, instead of staring through that damned telescope all day watching for Pinkerton's ship. After completing her first sweater–a well-known booster of self-esteem–maybe she'd have grown a backbone and decided to cut her losses, take the kid, and marry that nice Prince Yamadori.
On the other hand, there are quite a few songs and arias that either reference or actually involve spinning. But that's another entry.
*If there are some I don't know of or have forgotten, I guarantee other opera buffs reading this will let me know. We're a garrulous bunch.