The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home



I first learned about the World Wars through Remembrance Day poppy drives in Jamaica.  Like Canada and other countries, we have the same traditions of honouring and supporting our veterans.  This is one of the Canadian holidays that is part of our shared history.

In 1999 Marc Goodman wrote an article, “Remembering when the World was at War” in Skywritings magazine.  The subtitle is, “A visit with Jamaica’s last surviving World War I veteran gives a glimpse into history’s bloodiest battlefields, and a Jamaica past”.  The host was 103 year old Ugent Augustus Clark who had volunteered for the British West Indies Regiment at age 22.  Ugent Clark served as an ammunition carrier in the war & was at the Battle of the Somme.  Goodman quotes him as saying:

They speak about (religion) a lot.  You feel religion and God.  You could dead at any time.  You just take it one day at a time…. War is no good.  It changes things, but in the changing, plenty bad things go on.

It is an excellent article.  I can see why Marc was my Mom’s favourite student.

Goodman's Article, The best of Skywritings - with my poppy

I heard McCrae’s In Flanders Fields read on Sunday.  The text is here.  What Dylan Thomas wrote is true: “And death shall have no dominion.”

1 Comment

Daddy Sharpe Toronto book launch

A few weeks ago, I missed our Knit Night for good cause – it was the Toronto launch of Daddy Sharpe:

The specs:

Title: Daddy Sharpe: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Samuel Sharpe, A West Indian Slave Written by Himself, 1832 by Fred W. Kennedy. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2008. 411 pages. Newspaper reviews are here, and here.

It is a historical novel about Samuel Sharpe, a Jamaican national hero.  Other launches have been held in Jamaica & London but Toronto is where Fred (my relative) lived most of his adult life & raised his family.  He filled the auditorium & it was great to hear him read passages from the book.

Outside of Jamaica, Sam Sharpe is not a household name.  He bravely led other slaves in the great Christmas Rebellion in 1831 to fight for abolition.  Sam Sharpe was a literate slave who gained prominence as a Baptist preacher & deacon.  The Rebellion faltered as the local colonial government worked to brutally suppress the uprising.  Slaves were ruthlessly hunted down and captured.  Sam Sharpe was one of the last to surrender, and the Rebellion ended with his hanging in the Montego Bay public square.  It was a sacrifice that advanced the cause for abolition in the United Kingdom.  The Slavery Abolition Act, which applied in Jamaica and most of the British colonies received Royal assent on August 28, 1833.

I was also thrilled because the guest speaker was none other than author Rachel Manley.  She is my favourite Jamaican author.  Hands-down. I have all of her books & naturally had to bring the latest one along for an autograph.  She spoke very well, and, and I was so excited to meet her.  I went to school with her eldest & there are all sorts of small-island connections but this was the first time I ever met her.  This is my copy of Horses in her Hair.

Inside: Lovely autograph.

We did take pics of the event but DH has yet to upload them…. I wanted to post this before Remembrance Day, tomorrow.

I am all set to go to Knit Night, tomorrow.  Here’s the plan.  Attire = new Purple Cocoon Cardi.  Needles = Angee sock & MIL’s cowl.  Also bringing = Kundert spindle & handspun efforts.  It will be nice to see what everyone is working on & catch-up.  It’s been at least a month, I think.

1 Comment

Laborious Labour Day

It was as if we caught the Labour Day bug… big preparations for FIL’s visit.  He comes today & there’s been some serious graft – everything from pruning bushes to cleaning the fridge.  This weekend on top of regular inside jobs, windows got washed, the garage got tidied/ purged, the snowblower got fixed, etc.  So, we are almost ready for the Force of Nature’s arrival!  Almost.

Of course, wool processing took a back seat.  Nearly all evidence of Peter Tosh the Fleece has been sent to the basement.  I got that it would be nuts to leave bags of wool (clean & unclean) in one’s dining room but have a Stepford-clean garage…  See, I’m not that far gone!  Instead, I whipped up a wee bunny with some clean wool & my felting needle.  Who says Romney wool doesn’t full?

We have a mascot!

We have a mascot!

The blue eyes & the nose are from some extra wool I kept.  The white bits came from the fleece.  Plan B is to needle felt my wool if all attempts at spinning fail!

I also found time to finally finish the Hottie Hottie tank top.  It fits very nicely & isn’t tight at all.  Even if Canadian weather turns decidedly autumnal, I can wear this in Jamaica when we go this Christmas…

The side view is my favourite:

And here’s a slightly blurry back view pic:

With that off the needles, I turned my attention back to the secret baby gift.  I decided against alternating yarns & ripped it back to the ribbed edge.  I’m still not too sure about the flashes of colour in the variegated yarn.  It may just want to be a dishcloth but for now I am giving it the benefit of the doubt.  The working plan is to use this as the main colour & change back to the white yarn at the other end.  Here it is on probation:

Shh - still a secret

Shh - still a secret

I’m off to finish the last of the chores!  Happy knitting if you can get some!

1 Comment

Surprise Skeins

Talk about reaching a personal goal:  two great ‘events’ chez moi in as many days?!  Dinner went really well.  Cuz loved her Silpada jewelry.  Shout-out to my friendly knitterly Silpada rep, Miss Megster – close call on this gift!  We exchanged these belated gifts.  Mine was so nice… Ta da!

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Hung in a bush for the morning light & general cheesiness…  TKK now has a good mid-sized project bag!  The Lexie Barnes is much-loved but honestly too big for baby projects and such.  The second part of the gift really blew me away:

Yarn spun from recycled silk.  It comes without a ball band but they make this from old saris in southeast Asia.  Closer:

Fittingly, we had Indian from a local restaurant, The Painted Elephant.  Everyone loved the food & it was good times.  I can see how building from one event to another works wonders with set-up & cleaning.

Am still thinking about what it will be.   Cuz sure got my number.  In case anyone is wondering about Christmas gifts, my fridge magnet sums it up for ya:

More Yarn Please!

This was just an all-over good weekend.  Tomatoes are ripe for the picking!  At long last.  Bear with me on this one – we are city folk & this is simply magical.  Man, are they sweet!  We ate up/ whoopsed off the 2 ripest so fast!  I decided to spare the dear readers more tomato pics.  They look the same as when they were green.  They are now tomato red.

DH was showing off on the phone.  He’s telling the gaming buddy all about eating “the first tomato of the season from the estate.”  Said gaming buddy knows the house – estate, shmestate!  Since the squash is spread all over the lawn, I am pretty sure that New Neighbours think we are whack farmer-types… I have to run but will try to relate a New Neighbour story sometime soon!

Leave a comment

We hear you, Usain!

Can I just say Happy Belated Birthday to Usain St. Leo Bolt?!  Keep sprinting my yout!

The Daily Gleaner’s on-line edition ran a Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) article today that quotes Usain on his main goal:

I keep telling you – my main (goal) is to become a legend. That’s the aim for me and that’s what I’m working on.

Alrighty then!  Seems that Usain doesn’t think he needs a new goal…  Friends & family tell us how absolutely electric the Championship has been for the island.  From strength to strength!

I have barely touched my knitting since Pub Night on Wednesday.  There’s just been no time.  I dropped everything (blog included) to put my house in order.  My ankle decided to make simple cleaning difficult, so everything took forever to get done.

It was a matter of killing 2 occasions with 1 stone.  I was getting ready for an old high school girlfriend’s visit but also for my cousin & her BF who are stopping by for dinner on Sunday.  In my world comprehensive housework gets done for concrete reasons & concrete reasons alone.  Barring that I keep it basic & other fun things like knitting precedence.  Anyhow, with some pacing things got clean & tidy in time for my early bird girlfriend!  We had a lovely day together & I’m very happy that I got out of the old tired lunch-in-the-city mentality.  You know:  sit, eat, chat, kiss kiss.

So nice to have a good friend around.  Toby was a brat for a long while but he eventually figured out that my friend loves dogs – even bratty ones!  Let’s hope he got that out of his system.  The cousins are not quite as dog tolerant as this friend.

Since the tank top is still a thin circle of red yarn, I’ll wait to post a progress pic.  Instead, I give you a page from my 2009 Slingshot organizer:

Top right:  In Knit we Trust

Top right: In Knit we Trust

After their welcome essay, the Slingshhot Collective adds:

Anti-Copyright.  Borrow whatever you want.  We did.

Gotta love that.  So, feel free to pay that one forward.  You can find the radicals over here.  The About page is worth a read.  Now if the radicals know that in Knit we Trust, they are definitely onto something!

All of which is to drop a heavy hint in Brother Man’s general direction… a 2010 Slingshot Organizer would be appreciated!

Leave a comment

Of True Stories

We caught Julie & Julia this afternoon.  I went assuming that Julie’s Little Blog that Could would be the dominant story line.  I have to be the exact demographic for that, right?  Well, hands down, the life & times of Julia Child half is what made this movie for me.  Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci were head & shoulders above the other actors, and they both delivered wonderful performances.  DH agreed, and we laughed over the best lines at lunch.

I am not sure what made the Julie Powell half so underwhelming.  I did have a hard time taking her character seriously after she went to work with a little strawberry pin on her shirt.  She was an almost-30 year old New Yorker… riiight.  She also seemed way, way too  enmeshed in Julia Child.  What with wearing the pearls, etc., I was a little creeped out.  I also wondered if she really only blogged for the 1 year.  It may have been totally ” ingenious” – to quote Sony’s featured blogger – but was that really it?

Before I run downstairs to knit, I have my own true story to relate.

As you may know, our lawn was fairly well overgrown.  It went un-mowed for a good 5 weeks what with the constant weekend rain, my bum ankle, and our dear house-guest.  I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the lawn, and (less of a stretch) neither did DH.

That’s all behind us now, and DH has done his suburban duty.  The grass is neatly cut.  Only to reveal what looked like rabbit fur to me.  I knelt down, and saw it looked like fur used in an old bird’s nest or something.  I gently lifted the thatch of grass and fur.  There was an animal inside!  Curled up with brown fur… Yikes.  Now, I realize that it’s the same exact spot where the wild rabbit always seems to taunt Toby.  The next morning, I found:

It decamped.  I am very sorry for the disturbance…  Here’s the hole’s cover some ways off:

Not even tempted to fiber-gather now.  I went looking on the internet, and have figured out this must be a rabbit forme.  Which is to say his/ her summer lair.  Apparently the larger warren is only used during the winter.  It’s decamped but fine.  Just yesterday, he taunted Toby into a chase again.

Since Toby has a rather large cataract, & lost half of his teeth last year besides, that rabbit is safe.  And he/ she knows it.

Leave a comment

And we’re mobile!

It’s Summer of the Sprain no more – I drove!  Last night in fact.  Just a short trip downtown and back but after a month of being grounded that short drive made all the difference.  Each day the ankle is getting stronger, and I don’t need to favour it as much when walking.

Now that I can get the heck out of the house without begging, pleading or pitching a fit, the next goal is to wear heels at my brother’s wedding in early October.  Apart from my own vanity, there are the photos to be considered.  A single vertically challenged bridesmaid would mess them up…  This happened with our bridal party, so I know all about the negative space.  See, on a good day I am 5′ 2 ½”.

Thanks to the mobility, I am back in the Midnight-blue Room.  The dining table has plenty of space but I missed my books, pictures, and everything else that I have up here.  Toby is happily snoozing.  He can’t see out of this window, which means he gives himself a break from sentinel duty.  Two other things:

  1. Knitting: I am plugging away at the last bit of the purple cardi… 2nd sleeve.  It’s almost done, and the next step is blocking it out to measurements.  That I can photograph.  Possible flaw in the front edges may hinder the program.  Time will tell!
  2. Reading: The other day, I finished Three Cups of Tea.  It ended abruptly, and important parts of the story felt unfinished.  Greg Mortenson meets his contact in Afghanistan; The End.   What happened to the school children in Pakistan?  An endnote would have been nice.  Instead, I left with a bad taste in my mouth after reading the ‘how to help in 9 simple steps’ plan.  It began compellingly with 82 children on an “open ledge 800 feet above the Braldu,” who were trying to learn.  78 of those children were boys.  The story of those boys has not been told.  The author focuses on 3 girls:  Jahan, Tahira & Shakeela.  Even those characters are lightly sketched.  For example, Shakeela apparently was a “poised and pretty” high school girl at age 15 when the author interviewed her with her father present.  It is straight question & answer that delivers her reality.  After only 7 years of primary education, she is away in a town struggling to maintain her grades.  There are other flaws but the material, and what appears to be the sheer integrity of Mr. Mortenson’s mission do carry the day; I am glad to have read this book.

Since it was Emancipation weekend, I went for Song yet Sung by James McBride, next.  It was part of my birthday parcel from the States.  Such a good read!  I actually remember reading this review when it was first out in 2008 but never did get the book.  There is trouble in the plot, and other areas but I practically inhaled it.

When you want trust, scratch a crooked line in the dirt.