For whatever reason, lately I keep finishing things.
Abigail's Tulip Jacket is complete.
All the reports you hear of this being a fun and rewarding little project are accurate. What can I say? In putting it together, Dream in Color hit all the right notes: detail sufficient to keep things interesting, yet simplicity enough to knit in public or with company. And did I mention the spectacular yarn? Do I even have to?
Is There a German in the Haus?
I'm re-reading an old favorite, Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family. If you haven't read it, do. It's a sort of Biedermeier soap opera, told in scenes that seldom speak above a polite murmur or move faster than a brisk trot–yet it packs a cumulative wallop that will make your ears ring.
My old copy of Buddenbrooks, a Penguin edition if I remember correctly, was lent out in college and never came home. This edition, from Vintage, is a new translation by John E. Woods and I love it. I have very little German beyond the smattering I learned during my time as an opera coach,* so I can't pronounce it faithful or unfaithful to the original; but the stumbles and bumps I recall in the older version are far fewer here.
But this really isn't a book review. I have a question, and I'm hoping a German reader (or a reader who knows German) might be able to offer an answer. At the beginning of Part Six, Chapter Four, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came to this passage:
Madame Buddenbrook happened to be sitting in the landscape room, crocheting with two large wooden needles–a shawl, a blanket, or something of that sort. It was eleven o'clock in the morning.Huh? Crochet? With...two...needles?
What happened here? Off the top of my head, I can think of three possible scenarios:
- Mann, who renders even the finest period details with loving compulsiveness, didn't know the difference between knitting and crochet.
- There is (or was) a North German version of crochet that actually used two needles or hooks. I vaguely recall something of the kind in Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting, though I also seem to recall it was French or Spanish and possibly mediaeval. My 19th century dictionary of needlework hasn't turned up anything.
- The translator didn't know the difference (or thinks there is no difference) between knitting and crochet, mistranslated the passage, and none of his editors caught it.
*And that smattering isn't very useful in a modern setting. Prior to my last visit to Eastern Europe, I told a friend who lives in Frankfurt that if I got into trouble in Vienna I knew to scream "Zu hilfe! Zu hilfe!" (Help me! Help me!), the first words of Mozart's The Magic Flute. He smirked and said that yes, that construction would be very effective if I were being mugged by a time traveler from the late eighteenth century.