Friday, 23 January 2009

B is for...


(château de... louis xii wing)

To continue the theme of French castles for the ABC-along 2009, RedScot Inc. brings you the Château of Blois, in glorious Technicolor. 

(Although, technically, the incredible Castle at Blois is brought to you first by the Counts of Blois (from the 10th to the 13th centuries), then by Kings Louis XII and his Queen, Anne; François I; Henri III; Henri IV; Louis XIII and finally his brother, Gaston d'Orléans.   As country retreats go, it's not too shabby at all...)

The building itself can be divided into four main sections, the first being the Louis XII wing, the exterior of which is shown above.  Now, as you can probably imagine, I have many, MANY photos of this place.  The formation and stone-work especially has me drooling in architectronical* delight!

Above the main entrance-way you find an equestrian statue of Louis XII in full battle armour.  The original was sadly destroyed in the Revolution, but there's the magnificent copy from 1857 to gaze at in its place.

louis xii in ceremonial armour

So, by the time you get to this portal, you're already a tad impressed, but nothing quite prepares you for the courtyard...

unfinished classical wing of gaston d'orléans with françois i wing to the right

You enter through the Louis XII wing into a bright and very spacious courtyard to be confronted with several architectural styles: facing you is the latest (and unfinished) wing, built in the Classical style by Gaston d'Orléans. To the right is the Renaissance wing of Francois I, where a jewel of a polygonal spiral staircase adorns the façade.  It is truly, truly stunning!

i'll take two to go, please

The detail is incredible:

 maybe slightly on the draughty side, though...

:: droooooool ::

The wing on the other side of the courtyard houses the chapel, which although not particularly stunning from the outside, is beautiful inside...

bien sûr - stained-glass had to figure somewhere in this post!

I don't have so very many shots of the interior.  Well, no, to be truthful, I have lots of photos of the interior, but not of the particularly clear and focussed variety.  I do have a semi-decent one of François I's little crib, though...
restful, calm and muted colours - perfect for a good night's sleep

Once you think you've seen everything, you follow the direction for the exit, wander down a little staircase and go through a doorway, to be presented with a final wonder - the Hall of the Estates General - a massive salle with an incredible ceiling:
6,720 hand-painted gold fleur-de-lis

I don't think enough good things can be said about the restorers of the 19th and 20th centuries.  The French Revolution and then bombings in WWII led to much being damaged or destroyed, but thanks to the incredible work of these restorers, the Château of Blois is again a stunning thing to behold.  And photograph!

*architechtronical - pertaining to anything related to architecture that that can reduce the beholder to embarrassingly public shows of emotion.  (The RedScot Dictionary of Made-Up Words OUP 2018)

Monday, 19 January 2009

No Sox Please, We're British

A lie, of course!  I finally got back on track with some coverings of the podalic variety.  I name these socks 'Rock Pool Socks'.  God bless, them and all who sail in wear them.

tidal wave socks by deby lake in noro kureyon sock colourway 150

I call these 'Rock Pool' socks as the colours of this yarn remind me of the little pools to be found on the rocky beaches near my home in Scotland, complete with gentle wavelets brought in by the tide.

But oh - the colours!  The colours (actually, it was the only colourway of their sock yarn that didn't make me want to run away, shielding my eyes and whimpering for ocular salvation) are beautifully muted in shades of (working downwards, and remember, children, mummy is just a tad colour-blind and may be relying on Dulux colour cards for nomenclatural inspiration...) periwinkle, mocha, slate grey, nutmeg, amethyst, turquoise, emerald, café-au-lait, cedar, ivory and back to periwinkle. 

rainbow'r'not us

I must admit though, that I was all "UGH, this yarn is AWFUL" to start with, as the first quarter of the ball seemed to include all levels of thickness (and thinness) from cobweb/embroidery thread to DK in places.  Okay, it's NORO and it's to be expected, but I was not of the happy bunny camp and lost some of the length to chopping out the ridiculously fine stuff, after having it break too many times just at the part that was being worked on...  But further on into the ball, and further on into the pattern, it seemed to even out a wee bit.

I made a couple of mods... or at least I think there were a couple, but I can only remember one off-hand:  I changed the heel-flap to 'eye-of-partridge- stitch, as it seems to be quite a hard-wearing stitch, and with this yarn I reckoned I needed all the help I could get...

eye-of-partridge - check the unevenness of the yarn
(although it may also be my non-knitting prowess showing through...)

The stitch pattern is easy to memorise, and after the first couple of repeats you see the wave pattern emerge.  Simple but effective.

[add audio of gently lapping waves here]

I recommend this pattern very much indeed.  BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!  Oh no!  I finished another pair of socks, too!

'zombie socks' by sheryl giles in a&e 4-ply sock in maisie
'jaywalkers' by grumperina in a&e 4-ply sock in plum crumble

Hey - I didn't say they were a pair for each other, did I?!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A is for...


(château of...)

Actually, originally 'A' was going to be for 'architecture', but I soon realised that:
  1. the post would be on the extremely and way, way, way too long side
  2. I'd be shooting myself in the foot if (hah - I say if like it's already not a certainty...) I couldn't think of a subject for any of the letters, and the opportunity for 'V for Versailles' (for example) had already been used up in a marvellous but way, way, way too long first abc-along 2009 post
  3. Hang on... I think I've left the oven on...
So.  Chateau d'Amboise, subject for this post.

Brief history 101 (courtesy of kind Mr Wikipedia ): Built on a promontory overlooking the Loire River to control a strategic ford that was replaced in the Middle Ages by a bridge, the château began its life in the eleventh century, when the Count of Anjou rebuilt the stronghold in stone. Expanded and improved over time, on 4 September 1434 it was seized by Charles VII of France, after its owner, Louis d'Amboise, was convicted of plotting against Louis XI and executed in 1431. Once in royal hands, the château became a favourite of French kings; being rebuilt extensively, beginning in 1492 at first in the French late Gothic Flamboyant style and then after 1495 employing two Italian mason-builders, who provided at Amboise some of the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture.

So, where was I?  Oh yes... Château d'Amboise is built on a hill.  I guess you may have noticed that already, but what you don't fully grasp until you get to the other side is that it's partly man-made.

wall and chapel of saint hubert

Rather sturdy, to say the least.  The Chapel of Saint Hubert is a particular favourite building of mine.  It is (or was for some time) the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, and also hosts some marvellous stone-work and beautiful stained glass windows.

I'm also rather partial to the wondrously carved portal, the details of which are superb, to say the least...

jaw-dropping intricacies

Inside the château proper, you find a spacious ground floor with guard rooms and halls and the council room, and every nook and cranny plays host to carvings and sculptures, like this little monkey and his plums...

(ooh - the comments I could make...)

... ornate fireplaces...

... and the odd king-sized (literally) bed or two:

The first floor is furnished in the more up-to-date style of the 19th century, the pièce-de-résistance being the marvellous music room, the fortepiano of which was very nearly ruined due to damp.  (My drooling.)

:: drooooooooool ::

The gardens are lovely, but sadly I don't have many photos of a decent quality, as the heavens had opened once we left the château, and decided to stay open for the rest of the visit... Except for one moment when we were back down on 'ground' level. Here's a shot of one of the towers, the spiralling insides of which were a simpler means of transferring soldiers and carriages up to the top, than the main steep entrance to the side.

excellent early exponent of the helter-skelter

Oh, and there's an olde chocolate shoppe just round the corner, too...  Marvellous!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

FO? :: faints ::

I know.  A real-life finished object.  A rarity in these parts recently, rumours are rife about the sighting of the fabled Finished Object*.  We sent our roving reporter off to see if truth indeed be in them thar hills...
"The first indication of any legitimacy to this story was discovered when we stumbled across what appeared to be the cast-off skin-type remains of the FO...  Strangely, yet geometrically patterned, the 'skin' was examined by our experts who concluded that it may have come from a variant of the 'Lion Brand' Sweater Bag, sometimes called the 'Chinese' or 'Doomed' variant.

Feeling hopeful about a fruitful ending to our quest, we continued onwards until a scout for the group gaspingly returned to inform us that a species of
Sweater Bag had indeed been sighted nearby...

Not wishing to startle it, (for it has been told that they have a tendency to pounce and maul, if frightened) we approached its den with stealth and as silently as fourteen reporters, six cameramen, seven coffee-runners and five camp followers could...  And there it was.
Confirmed as the Chinese Sweater Bag of Doom, ('Chinese' due to its interestingly coloured gullet) we sidled-up with caution and managed to take a few photos of it in repose. A strangely beautiful animal, the Sweater Bag is an odd beast.  Dull and with a somewhat plain dark-grey plumage, (black and white photos have been lightened to show the markings off to a better degree)  it seems rather unremarkable at first sight, but on closer inspection, there are hints of blue in the strange appendage at its top-most regions.

Before we could make any further examinations of the sleeping beast, it woke up and attempted to frighten us off by showing its coloured under-plumage in a rather exciting display of flapping and twirling.

Much like the legendary Sweater Bag Australis, (discovered in the early 21st century but yet to be photographed in the wild) we discovered that the Chinese Sweater Bag also had a marsupially pouch-like appendage on its front, which appeared to be ridged in pattern, but we had to wait for the flapping display to reach its zenith before we could confirm that to be so...

But confirm it we did...  The pouch was indeed in evidence, possibly as a remnant from early marsupial life in this part of the world, (thought until now to be extinct) and covered a surprisingly large surface area of the front of the beast.  This led us to believe that there may be at least one more pouch in the belly of the Bag.

Sadly we had forgotten to bring a net with which to capture the Bag and despaired of getting close enough to see inside, when an enterprising coffee-runner, with pin-point precision, threw her mobile phone at the Bag and knocked it out cold.  One of our more intrepid photographers rushed over and took a photo of the gapingly-mawed Bag in full gaping-mawdom (the results of which should ensure him everlasting fame and fortune) and provided us with proof that as well as having an interior pocket, the jaws of the beast were of the toothy Zipped type.  A remarkable discovery.

Obviously of mixed heritage (in the end we decided it was of Chinese-Scottish lineage) we saw an interior of Chinese silk and a Scottish tartan inner pocket - the mix in itself a very rare finding.  (The reasons for which were discussed with our experts, and the leading theory promulgated was that the original lining must have been lost, perhaps in a fight with another Sweater Bag, and a replacement found at the very last moment. Possibly in a remnants store...)

We left the beast as it started to regain consciousness and legged-it back to the studio. Sadly one of the coffee-runners never made it, and we dedicate this monumental discovery to his untimely demise.

This has been RedScot reporting for WTF News."

*Based on the Sweater Bag by Lion Brand Yarn in Katia Basic Sport in the Dark Grey (011) colourway.  Chinese silk lining and ribbon embellishment.  Yes, I did lose the lining before I finished it, so had to improvise...!

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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