I find it difficult to sit too still and TV programs too boring to lose myself in. Even recuperating from a nasty bug, I keep myself occupied. (Thor calls me “self-contained.”)
As I have been going back and forth over the exact design of Thor’s birthday (belated) present – the cabled cardigan, I have been knitting up the clues for the KAL for the 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl. The pattern, designed by Michele Bernstein aka PDXKnitterati, is not difficult and has very clear instructions. Add onto this the lovely yarn I’m using (Knitted Wit), and it’s a quick knit; I have finished each of the first two clues in a day. (I’ve left the knitting in a crunched pile for the picture so as not to spoil the clues for the KAL knitters.)
I have a new knitting book to browse: 400 Stitch Patterns: A Complete Dictionary of Essential Stitch Patterns (Potter Craft). I keep this on my bedside table. Instead of “visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head” as I fall asleeep I see various projects that would show off the stitch patterns. (Nicely enough, the stitch patterns are given in both narrative and graphs.)
The other book I am reading is most definitely not a bedside table book. Owning The Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership by Andro Linklater, a Scottish non-fiction writer and historian. The book’s introduction caught my attention. In that section, Linklater posts the exportation, as it were, of the British enclosure movement, to the New World in an 1583 visit led by Sir Humphrey Gilbert who sought to establish the first English colony in the New World.
“On August 5, 1583, Gilbert arrived at Saint John’s [Newfoundland] harbor to find almost forty fishing vessels already there, not only catching cod but drying and salting them onshore. Immediately the surveyors went to work, and, as [Captain Edward] Hayes put it, “did observe the elevation of the pole and drewe plats [plans] of the countrey [sic] exactly graded [to scale].” Before the end of the month, the first transactions had taken place, and parcels of land along the water’s edge were being rented out to fishermen who until then had occupied them freely. “For which grounds,” Hayes pointed out, “they did covenant to pay a certain rent and service.” In return, Gilbert assured his tenants they now had the right to occupy their own particular spot from one year to the next.
On the face of it, Gilbert’s behavior was absurd. For uncounted generations the granite hills overlooking the long, dog-leg inlet of Saint John’s had been used by the Mi’kmaq people, who regarded it as their territory. The Basque fishermen who had discovered the sheltered haven perhaps before Columbus sailed to America in 1492 believed that they and any others who had the audacity to cross the ocean to fish for cod had earned the right to use the landing-grounds during the summer season. But that was as far as it went.
Yet now, under English law Sir Humphrey Gilbert asserted just such a right, and on that basis proposed to charge the fishermen rent for using a part of the wilderness for activities that they had always engaged in freely. For the first time, an idea that would revolutionize the structure of society and transform the way people thought about themselves had made itself known outside its homeland.
Yup, I am hooked. (Note: The book is written in a historical narrative format – not my preferred format for reading history – but I think this format appeals to a broader audience.)
P.S. Thor and I watched The Flat (thank you Netflix), an Israeli film (2011) by Arnon Goldfinger. Excellent.