Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Scarves Galore January 24, 2015

IMG_5306   my latest scarves, let us call these the brown. green, and white sequence, scarves 13, 14, 15

the prior sequence could be labelled the Seahawk Sequence in blue, green and white   IMG_5345      scarves 10, 11, 12     Both sequences were knit lengthwise on size 4 needles.


Just for review – Scarves 1 -9   IMG_5346   These scarves are knit crosswise


Meanwhile our cat Katerina continues to pursue her mischievous ways.     She is especially fond of pens and pencils.   And she is developing a taste for birds.                                                                                                                                                                                                         IMG_5288            IMG_5336            IMG_5340  sad

When I knit I can also read.  Today I finished reading a very good book.    IMG_5328  A Star for Mrs. Blake, by April Smith.  This portrayed a little known aspect of World War I.  This is sort of a footnote to history and reflects careful research.  It is written with great sympathy and understanding.  Gentle is a term I would apply to it.  The author handles her characters delicately and yet honestly.  5 stars.


I can knit and watch television also.  I’m getting ready for the Super Bowl on February 1st.  This T-shirt arrived in the mail today.  IMG_5326     GO SEAHAWKS     Seattle’s great football team.  (American football that is – not to be confused with football in Europe and elsewhere in the world)


Around in Circles September 30, 2014

Filed under: First World War — Janet @ 6:05 am

I’m trying to get ready and my heads going round in circles as I contemplate the things I have to do and/or want to do before I leave..  It doesn’t help that the entire air system in the U.S. has been disrupted by a criminal act in Aurora Illinois.  Flights in and out of Chicago have been particularly affected.  I’m scheduled to change planes in  Chicago.  Will I have a lot of airport waiting time??  Never mind, I’ll take plenty of reading material – and my knitting.

I recently read a very good book – Wake by Anna Hope.  The thread of the story is set in post World War I England and there are flashbacks to action in the War itself.  The author has recreated the overall gloomy atmosphere of England at that time extremely well.        index   I recommend it if you like to read books about the First World War and its aftermath in England.


More reading June 21, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Book covers,Books,First World War,Irish History,Reading — Janet @ 2:48 pm

This is a book which has been on my shelf since Christmas  – I wasn’t terribly attracted by the cover on the dust jacket ……..but the book turned out to be excellent.  A novel but it incorporated historical fact about Niagara Falls and the surrounding area in the early part of the 20th century.  Really a very absorbing book and rather unusual.  The author, Cathy Marie Buchanan, is a Canadian writer who grew up in the Toronto area.

I like the historic postcard of the Falls – this is the back cover of the dust jacket.

Now here is another book that has been on my shelf for a while, it’s been there for longer ago than last Christmas.  But it sat on someone else’s shelf many years ago, a person in Dungannon Northern Ireland.  The book was published by The Companion Book Club, London in the 1950’s. The book was originally published by Allen & Unwin.  Whenever I see books like this in used book sales or book fairs I look at them quite closely and if I haven’t read the book many years ago I tend to buy it.  Invariably it turns out to be a good read.  This book, Two Eggs on My Plate, was written by a Norwegian, Oluf Reed Olsen, and translated by F. M. Lyon.  It is an incredible story telling of the authors years in the Resistance during the 2nd World War in Norway.  For me, this non-fiction account reads far better than any fiction I have read about that period in history.  And incidentally, since this is the time around the Summer Solstice, I took note that the drops to the Resistance fighters could only take place up until early April and then had to be suspended until the autumn when the hours of darkness were longer.

The Companion Book Club was similar to a publisher in the U.S. who republished popular best sellers.   I can’t think of the name at the moment.  The Readers Digest condensed books were a different species but similar in making best sellers available to a wider readership.

And here is another book about Irish History.  Not very interesting to me at first as the author, who is Sean Molloy’s grandaughter, goes in to detail about each battle that was fought in the area around Cork, territory not familiar to me.  But I decided it had been worth struggling through the first bit in order to appreciate the later stages of the book when this rebel guerrilla fighter became a politican and served in Government in a number of Ministries.  I was impressed by the author’s extensive research into official documents and records.

And now one more book, a volume of over 900 pages.  Not a book to read cover to cover, but I did about 15 years ago when I was one of the proof readers.  It’s good to see it in soft cover – and to find that in the Preface there is an acknowledgement of my proof reading efforts.  And being paid to read it was really a pleasure.

  A New History of Ireland, Volume VI, Ireland Under the Union, 1870-1921


Dundrum History, cont. June 18, 2010

Filed under: First World War,Local history — Janet @ 9:02 am

I seem to be on a local history sidetrack.  Yesterday en route back from our visit with our friends we met a man crossing the Dundrum by-pass just near the library.  He looked familiar, we exchanged pleasantries, and then scurried across the road – the pedestrian crossing green light doesn’t give us oldies much time – when we’re only half way across the green turns to yellow.  When we were safe on the other side the man asked me if I had found any more books on Irish history.   Ah – you were the man I met at the Taney Church fete last Saturday.  You were at the book stall and helped me look for books on local history.  Alas I answered his question, only the book by Geraldine Mitchell.  He looked blank.  Further I added, she wrote Deeds Not Words The Life and Work of Muriel Gahan.

Again that drew a blank and we moved on.  We talked about the local history books about Dundrum written by J. (James) Nolan.  I told him I had been looking at those books in the library and that my copies were in much better condition.  (My copies are in Seattle.)   He wondered how I was interested in this topic since I wasn’t native to these parts.  People seem to know immediately that I am a foreigner so to speak – and it is the speaking that gives me away.  So I explained that we were here in Dundrum over 40 years.  Ah he said, a “blow-in”.  Now if there’s one term that really irritates me it’s to be called a “blow-in” – it makes me feel very unwelcome.  He proceeded to apologize profusely and go on to say that one could be a “blow-in” even if born just a few streets away.  Anyway, I digress. 

He proceeded to tell me about a relation who had served in the First World War as a member of an ambulance crew and over a period of 2 years had written home regularly, home being  Dundrum I was lead to believe.  The family has preserved these letters and a book has been written about them.  The book is at the printer now and will only be available privately.  Alas, an elusive and tantalizing source of local history.

Incidentally I also noticed the book that the man was carrying – Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, a book about Afghanistan.  The conversation could have shifted far across the world if only Ian had not gone on ahead,  I felt it was high time I caught up with him before he disappeared altogether and I missed my luncheon date.


Erin Go Bragh December 28, 2009

Erin go Bragh

There was a fascinating article in the Irish Times today by Donal McMahon in An Irishman’s Diary.

The photograph in the article shows a little girl sitting on her young soldier father’s knee.  Her father was killed not long afterward when that little girl was just over 15 months old.  It took over 80 years for that little girl, Ina,  to find out the truth about his death.   At the age of 10 that little girl Ina lost her mother and she grew up with cousins and was sent to boarding school.  When she asked about her father, all she could find out was that he had been shot during the Troubles.  She eventually married and had a family who, in turn, grew up ignorant about their grandfather.  Ina knew her father had served with the British Army during the First World War but after that there was a blank.  In actuality, after her death her son Donal found out that his grandfather had served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Now with the resources of the Irish Times archives, Donal has found that his grandfather, Sergeant Thomas Enright, RIC, had been shot dead on December 14th, 1921.  This took place at a turning point in Irish history.  The Anglo-Irish Treaty had been signed eight days previously and was to be ratified by overwhelming majorities in both houses of the English parliament two days later on December 16th.   

Sergeant Thomas Enright, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and a Constable friend were attending a coursing meeting at which Thomas had entered two dogs.  They wore plain clothes.  They visited the hotel where the draw was made for the following day’s coursing.  They left the hotel (the establishment) shortly after 11 p.m., and as soon as they appeared on the street a volley of revolver shots was fired at them by a group of men who were standing near the post office.  Thomas was age 31.

Donal shared his findings with his mother.  He speculates that it is quite possible that reading the account of her father’s death brought some sort of closure to Ina.  She passed away scarcely 2 weeks later.

Donal goes on to write that happily we now have an Ireland where it is possible at last to break the silence surrounding those who served in the police and army of pre-independence times.  The men who shot Thomas, and the reporters of the time, were not to know that Thomas carried a tattoo on his right arm:  “Erin go Bragh”

Reflections – 74 years ago today,  December 28, 1935, was my parents’ wedding day.   My father-to-be had 3 children, age 11, 9, and 8.  My sisters-to-be were flower girls, and the ceremony was held in Winchester Massachusetts in the parental home of my mother-to-be.  I suspect that her sisters, my aunts, were her bridesmaids.   I must ask my sisters, now 83 and 82, and my 96 year old aunt for more of the details.  Or maybe I can search the archives of the Boston newspapers.

I blogged a few days ago about The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.       Many questions were unanswered in the investigation of this case – many family secrets still remained.   After reading it I thought about the probability that most families have secrets, some quite innocent but will never be uncovered, others that will be revealed in the course of time if we know the right questions to ask.


Irish History June 9, 2009

Filed under: First World War,Irish History — Janet @ 11:54 am

Sebastian Barry book               The Picture She Took  

A few days ago I wrote a blog  about my father-in-law and the First World War.  Still thinking about that, I just wanted to refer not only to the book mentioned in that blog (The Picture She Took) but also another book I read recently, Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way.  These 2 books portray so vividly some of the complexities of the involvement of Irishmen in the First World War.  Just after writing the previous blog I came across an old box of photographs taken by my father-in-law and his father at that time.  A real treasure and a tantalizing discovery.  Those photographs have been safely packed for our move to Seattle and at some point I’ll scan them and write more.


I Have a Dream…… June 6, 2009

Filed under: Dreams,First World War,World War II — Janet @ 4:59 pm

I Have a Dream  I Have a Dream….a song to sing

This Abba tune has been going through my head all morning.  I am reading a very good book – The Picture She Took by Fiona Shaw.  It’s about the First World War and my dream last night was about the uniforms worn by the men in that war.  Many men from Ireland served in that war, among them my father-in-law who died after the War but long before I met the family.  The uniform that he wore was kept in the “maid’s room” in my husband’s childhood home.  I can quite vividly remember the uniform and how small it seemed compared with the height of his 2 sons.  It somehow seems appropriate to write about this on June 6, 2009, the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in the Second World War.  It is important to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women of those generations.  The book I am reading is particularly about the scars, both mental and physical, left by the First World War. 

m_MOM_ww1_officer  This is a photo I found on the internet.  It is an officer’s uniform worn in the Manchesters Regiment in the First World War.



How I would have liked to have known my father-in-law and to learn of his experiences, if he could ever have brought himself to speak about that period of his life.   (My mother-in-law, whom he married in 1927, told me he never spoke of his experiences in the War. ) He was an officer and he lost a leg in the Somme Offensive.  His brother was killed in another part of France and the body was never found.  I have seen photographs of my father-in-law when he was recuperating in England after he had been wounded.  The nurses look most attentive.  He went on to marry and father 3 children but sadly passed away still at an early age.  My mother-in-law told me she thought he had been weakened not only through the loss of his leg but also from other wounds.    The tragedy of war.  So many lives lost, so many families losing their loved ones, and the women left to be spinsters and never know the joy of marriage and having children.  It is important to remember.