Knitting and Reading

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 KALpic2for 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.)

400StitchesI 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.)

OwningTheEarthPicThe 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.


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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12 Responses to Knitting and Reading

  1. Never minding who (then) currently lived in between those markers … (Sigh) The U.S. has a history of similar conquest of the “untamed, open” land.


  2. needleandspindle says:

    that history book sounds fascinating. There are still spots in Melbourne where you can see the original markers set by the European surveyors for dividing up the land (irrespective of the original inhabitants of course) if you could clear the land between the markers you could keep it and farm it. Ironically one of these places is now a wildlife sanctuary, hence the preservation of the original markers!


  3. As son as the KAL is over (and it’s all blocked), I’ll post a pic. 🙂 >


  4. salpal1 says:

    hope you are feeling better! both books sound interesting, each in its own way. 😉 can’t wait to see what the mystery KAL is….


  5. Another fascinating investigation!


  6. Glenda says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who can’t sit still and knit and watch tv! And yes, the last book you posted does sound intriguing. I’m mired in The Jamestown Experiment.


  7. Understood … I’ve been reading a little each day and find myself almost gnashing my teeth!


  8. kiwiyarns says:

    I find the best way to fall asleep is to peruse a knitting book before bed. Funny that. Like you, I then fall asleep with visions of knitting… The land book sounds very interesting. Not sure I could read it without becoming totally enraged though.


  9. ‘Absurd’ is right. I imagine the fishermen and Native Americans watching the surveyors and, once told they now had to pay rent, laughing hysterically and walking away. I can only assume the surveyors came with their own protection detail or perhaps they would have mysteriously perished!


  10. 🙂 Today I am eyeing my loom … It seems to be calling me to warp it!


  11. Ruth says:

    I really like the look of the knitting stitch book. I bet I could lose myself in that for hours. Owning the Earth looks good too – such a description of activities really does fit into the ‘absurd’ column, doesn’t it? It’s amazing they got away with it.


  12. That does sound like an interesting book, I might look that up. And I know what you mean about not being able to sit still


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