Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Festival of Colour – Bloom, June 2010 June 8, 2010

Filed under: Books,China,Colours,Gardening,Handcrafts — Janet @ 5:45 pm

Bloom is possibly the Dublin equivalent of the Chelsea Flower Show.  I have never been to Chelsea for the famous flower show but Bloom for me is quite outstanding, and since it is sponsored by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, it is probably rather different in scope.  This year’s show marked its 4th year.   A wonderful event now firmly established in the Irish calendar.

 overview of Bloom from the Bloom website

My duties this year at Bloom were minimal.  The Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers had been allocated space by the Crafts Council of Ireland.  This year we were located outside approximately where the Basket Makers were last year.  This year all the craft stands were bunched together under an awning, sheltered from the sun and rain but open to fresh air.  Not like last year when we were in the main hall and it was stifling.   This year we were located beside the first in line were the basket makers, then the potter, then us, and then the felters.  A nice line up.  The blacksmith was at the end sort of around the corner from the basket makers.

  we had 2 spinning wheels and a loom in a very narrow space.  I was able to squeeze in and do some knitting, which also attracted attention.  Questions like, how do you knit on a circular needle?  Most passersby knew how to knit and had knit in earlier years but not on a circular needle.  One man and his wife who stopped to look at the loom and the weaving said that his mother had woven cloth for many years to clothe her family.  He was from northwest China.

I was able to wander around and visit some of the other areas.  Here are the gardaí on duty in the walled garden.  A nice assignment on a sunny day.

Here’s what the gardaí could see

And then on to the show gardens, with music

And then I went inside, and what did I find but a friend,  from my Dublin City Book Fair days, James Vallely of Craobh Rua Books in Armagh,  I browsed there for a long time, and what I bought I’ll tell you another time.


Changing Colours

Filed under: China,Colours,Hong Kong,Ireland,Postal history — Janet @ 11:33 am

Changing from red to green – when the British handed over Hong Kong to China on July 1 1997, the colour of the postal service changed from red to green.  I wonder at what point the men (and women?) were out there with their paint brushes all around the Territory.  Would it have happened close to midnight?  I read in wikipedia that these classic pillar boxes which were painted green in 1997 have gradually been phased out of use and replaced with a new design.  However, I did find, again in wikipedia, a green reminder of earlier years.

  classic red pillar box in the Museum Gallery in the Central Post Office, Hong Kong

  part of the ceremony at the Handover   (photo from Wikipedia)

  one of the last colonial post boxes, in Central, a Scottish Crown Type C   (photo from wikipedia)

  Post Office in Stanley

  Central Post Office

  new design of Hong Kong post box

  historic franking stamps in the Post Office Museum Gallery

This transition from red to green has lead me to wonder when it took place in Ireland – presumably following Independence in 1922.   Unlike in Hong Kong, many of the historic boxes still remain.  They just get fresh coats of paint.

  VR pillar box in Kilkenny  (photo from wikipedia)


Back to Knitting….. June 7, 2010

Filed under: Blankets,Book covers,Books,China,Colours,Knitting — Janet @ 10:44 am

Back to knitting, but I’m still going to write a bit about China.  This is one of my current knitting projects – the big blanket – 35 inches wide and now 23 inches long – over one-third of the way to 60 inches, weight approx. 500 grams or l lb.  It’s getting rather bulky for working on but still manageable at this stage.  Some of the yarn is what was given to me by my knitting friends for the woven tapestry project that never happened, or should I say hasn’t happened yet. (Thanks again Maire and Freyalyn

In Hong Kong, when I first ventured forth on my own from the Parkview apartment complex, I took a taxi to Happy Valley.  It cost me all of approximately 35 Hong Kong dollars or 3 euro.  A distance of 3-4 k (?) winding down the hill with a taxi driver who wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go nor was I.  But when we got to the general area the streets began to look familiar from my previous visit over a year ago and the driver and I came to an agreement over where I would get out.  The landmark I was looking for was Dymock’s Book Shop and where I  alighted from the taxi was not far away.   I entered Dymock’s and it seemed much smaller than I remembered.  It was small a year ago and it’s still the same size.  It was in this Dymocks that Ian found what I thought was a strange book – The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale.  How strange I thought to find a book in Hong Kong about a murder over a century ago in a remote house in England.

The paperback edition was published in 2009 and our previous visit was in February of that year so the book must have just come out.  It’s not a book that would have caught my eye but now I seem to see it everywhere and I have at last read it and enjoyed it very much.

This time, May 2010, I was looking for a book written by Catherine Sampson, the daughter-in-law of Jean’s knitting.  The book was Catherine’s latest murder mystery set in Beijing where Catherine and her family have lived for many years.   The Slaughter Pavilion – I look forward to reading it.  Having found this book I went to the magazine section in search of knitting magazines.  But what caught my attention was this magazine, Yishu, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.  And in this issue of Yishu there is an article about knitting.  The title of the article is “Knit Together: Movana Chen and the Politics of Identity in a Global Society.”  I tried to read the article without wearing my reading glasses; hence I went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find this knitting, but that was the subject of an earlier blog. 

The Hong Kong based artist Movana Chen was commissioned by Shanghai Tang, a big department store, to create an artwork for the first international art fair in Hong Kong in 2008.  This artwork was to be a body container knit from approximately 427 shredded pages of Shanghai Tang’s ready-to-wear catalogues.  The body containers certainly turned out to be eye-catchers!  My knitted blanket could be something similar??


Another View of China June 6, 2010

Filed under: Ageing,Authors,Books,China,History,Hong Kong,Writing — Janet @ 12:04 pm

Just published this year is a new biography of Pearl Buck by Hilary Spurling.  Pearl lived in China for most of her younger years and she identified strongly with the Chinese people.  Of missionary background, she had conflicting loyalties all her life.  She was born in 1882 in West Virginia.  Her missionary parents returned to China when she was 3 months old.   Most of her years were spent in China until 1934 when she left China for good.  She is possibly remembered best for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Good Earth.  It topped the best seller lists in the early 1930’s.   However, she had a prodigious literary output and in 1938 she was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  Burying the Bones by Hilary Spurling

  you can see that the subtitle of the book is Pearl Buck in China.  Most of this biography is devoted to that time in her life.  Much of her writing is indeed autobiographical and derives from her years in China.  When she left in 1934 she was in her early 50’s and lived to the age of 80, writing prodigiously all that time.  The picture shown here is Pearl in 1938 when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  Pearl in 1932 (from wikipedia)

  photo from wikipedia

Pearl died in 1980 and is buried in Vermont.  If she had lived longer, I wonder what she would have thought of the handover ceremony in Hong Kong in 1997.

  Robin Cook, Cheri Blair, Prince Charles, Chris Patton – Hong Kong, 1997   (photo from wikipedia)

In any event, I found Burying the Bones a fascinating biography and I plan to reread The Good Earth and be on the lookout for some of her other writing.


Along the trails in Hong Kong June 4, 2010

Filed under: China,Hong Kong — Janet @ 3:48 pm

In my last post I wrote about the hikers and the trails in the hills of Hong Kong.  I didn’t actually follow any of these steep looking steps myself but maybe next time I visit I’ll try a bit of non-urban walking.  A few pictures from Wikipedia are intriguing:    This red-necked keelback is a character I would prefer not to meet in the forest.

  a fort near Tai Tam   (from WWII?)                                                                         

Hong Kong Camellia

Tai Tam Reservoir

Instead of hiking through the forests, I followed the urban option – coffee at Starbucks and Pacific Coffee; shopping at H&M, M&S, and Zara; browsing in Shanghai Tang, Lane & Crawford; lured inevitably into Dymocks and Kelly & Walsh Book Stores; eyeing the art galleries; riding the double decker tram; craning my neck in awe at the skyscrapers; getting lost in the vast shopping malls.  I never made it to the Sun Yat-sen Museum – another objective for next time.

  bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen


Reading About China June 3, 2010

Filed under: China,History,Hong Kong — Janet @ 1:43 pm

I commented a few days ago that I had to keep reminding myself that Hong Kong is now China.  The 150 years of annexation to be a part of the British empire were just a blip in the area’s history. 

In my wanderings I felt I should find a book about Hong Kong.  This is the one I came up with.  Hong Kong by the traveler author Jan Morris.  Jan has written many books about different parts of the world, but I think she is known particularly for her books about the British Empire.  This book, Hong Kong, was written in 1988, almost 10 years before the handover in 1997. 

The book was fascinating.  I found it hard to believe that what I was reading was written in 1988, rather than 2008.  I want to read further though to find out if Hong Kong post 1997 is as similar to the earlier Hong Kong.  I visited Hong Kong myself many years ago in 1965 but my visit was brief and my memory is dim.  I was with my cousin and her parents.  I vaguely remember crowded streets and shopping and bright lights and eating opportunities.  We would have landed and taken off from the old airport Kai Tak.  There is one image which remains with me and that was a visit to an American Baptist missionary family living and working in the hills above the central area.

In 1985-87 we were living and working in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.  The Foreign Minister was our landlord, boss, and friend.   It was probably during the summer of 1986 that we met 2 teenagers who were staying as guests of the Foreign Minister, Lyonpo Dawa Tsering.  These 2 boys were the sons of David Wilson who was soon to be the Penultimate Governor of Hong Kong.  David Wilson, now Sir David Wilson, became the 27th Governor, serving from 1987-1992.  He was Governor during the crisis of the Tiananmen Square riots and also the later influx of refugees to the territory. 

Sir David, Lyonpo Dawa, and I were each born in the mid-1930’s.  Sadly Lyonpo Dawa passed away in 2007.  Sir David is now, among other things, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.  One of his other roles was President of the Bhutan Society of the U.K.    The 2 teenage boys are now grown up; one is a diplomat, the other a Church of England clergyman.

  Sir David Wilson

  Lyonpo Dawa Tsering