Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Knots and the Celtic Tiger December 13, 2009

Filed under: Colours,Ireland,Irish language,Knitting,Knots,Poetry,Words — Janet @ 5:17 pm


  Words, Knots and Lines, published by Púca Press in 3 languages, Irish, English and German

One of the entries in the above book is a poem titled Knots.  The author is Maria Ní Mhurchú.  The linking of the knots shown in the Book of Kells and the state of knots in which we find the state of Ireland today is very clever.  Have a read yourself.

  Knots by Maria Ní Murchú

Knots by Maria Ní Murchú

When I flick through the Book of Kells

On the internet

My heart always misses a beat


Endless knots!

Stylized, graphic, decorative….

Delicatewly woven by dedicated monks

Prayerful, innocent, beautiful.

No sign of the demon of greed here.

It reminds me of the girl with the golden locks

Dancing a Celtic dance

Her long hair plaited intricately

By deft fingers.

Ireland is tied up in knots today.

Not of a monastic kind….

Thick ropes in a boat knotted together haphazardly

By the careless sailor.

The tug – ready to go under.

Politics, economics, spirituality

The greed of our poor oul’ Celtidc Tiger

Coming back to haunt us

To haunt us – down.

It reminds me of the grey-faced, grey-haired impatient man

Who blatantly hooted at the old lady

As she tried in vain to cross Green Street

To light a candle in the Church

Yes.  I do wonder at what the monks might say.

Dear Patrick, sever the knots that bind us today.

Spirit us… artists, poets, musicians

To the land of milk and honey

That we may come back to Hibernia


With a song in our heart!

And a feather in our hand!


Now a change of topic – Update on my stash

  Watercolour painting of my knitting stash – I did this from a photograph taken about a month ago.

  state of my stash, Dec. 2009 – note the knitting on the right – a panel knit from purples and greens from the stash


Words, Lines and Knots December 10, 2009

Filed under: Art works,Cats,Irish language,Knots,Lines,Words — Janet @ 8:27 pm

Words, Lines and Knots or Foclóirín Linte agus Snaidfimeanna or Kleines Linien und Knotenvokabular, published by Púca Press in Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

  Foclóirín Línte agus Snaidhmeanna

A new book published earlier this month.  A little Thesaurus of Lines and Knots with contributions by 19 artists.  To quote from the acknowledgements, here is something to ponder – “A line can be shaped into letters and knots, one can follow it by foot or in thought and might come back to its starting point.  And what would happen if the linear direction of time were to change its direction.”

For the first printing, 340 copies were hand produced on Letterpress.  I have copy no. 30.

Here is one of the entries – Cat & mouse on the Mobius Strip – knitters and cat lovers take note

Verfolgungsjagd auf dem Mobiusband. – Dominique Lieb

An cat agus an luch i ndiaidh a chéile ar an Bhanda Mobius

Cat & mouse on the Mobius Strip


Is Hillary Clinton a Weaver? October 13, 2009

Filed under: Northern Ireland,Weavers,Words — Janet @ 9:18 am

As part of her current European visit Hillary Clinton came to Dublin.

Hillary Clinton in Dublin Irish Times Oct. 12  photo from the front page of the Irish Times, Monday, Oct. 12 2009 


From Dublin she went on to Belfast and addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.  Her speech was carefully crafted and according to the Irish Times newspaper this morning was generally well received.  As I listened to her on the news last night though my ears perked up when she said she was going to weave the opposing sides together stitch by stitch.   Hmm I thought.  Is it possible to weave stitches together??  Knit stitches together wouldn’t have sounded half so good – nor would crochet stitches together.  Or loop stitches together.  But what about join stitches together. 

I can only conclude that Hillary is not a weaver nor is her speech writer and that their careful crafting did not extend to the textile arts.

p.s. I used to be a speech writer for the King of Bhutan.  Should I apply for a job in President Obama’s administration?


A Plethora of Socks July 3, 2009

Filed under: Knitting,Memories,Rhubarb,Socks,Words — Janet @ 11:07 am
Tags: , ,

A Plethora of Socis These socks plus the baby beanie are what I have been knitting lately.  I just love the Regia Kaffe Fassett colours sock yarn.

Now I want to write a few words about rhubarb – unrelated to socks as far as I know but I just feel like writing about it.  We have rhubarb growing in our garden.

Move to Seattle 2 200  rather pathetic isn’t it but it’s early days yet for the 2nd crop.  Then Ian will make a delicious rhubarb and apple and raisin pie.  Meanwhile we’ll depend on store-bought rhubarb for those pies.

I subscribe to a service called Word a Day.  A few days ago rhubarb was the word for the day.  To quote from the site: 


noun: A heated dispute; brawl.


The origin of the plant name rhubarb is from Greek rha (perhaps from Rha, an ancient name of the river Volga on whose bank rhubarb was grown) + barbaros (foreign), but why the word developed this slang sense is unknown. We do know that this usage was popularized in baseball. The Oxford English Dictionary has the first citation from 1943:

“Mr ‘Red’ Barber,.. who has been announcing the games of the Brooklyn Dodgers, has used the term ‘rhubarb’ to describe an argument, or a mix-up, on the field of play.” (NY Herald Tribune)”

The name Red Barber caught my eye.  I remember him from the 1940’s when I was a keen fan of the Boston Red Sox.


Writing Class May 15, 2009

Filed under: Nantucket Island,Poetry,Whaling,Words — Janet @ 8:34 pm

A few years ago I did an adult education course in writing. It was a very interesting class. We had all sorts of assignments and we had to read out our compositions. It was rather daunting at first and I felt quite shy and self-conscious about it. On the other hand it was very entertaining to hear the others in the class. One learned a lot about each of the 15 or so contributors. I enjoyed the class very much – it was so sociable and also we received good criticism and tips for improving our writing.

Our teacher was primarily interested in poetry, being a poet herself with several published works. I felt she wanted to turn each of us into poets but still we were allowed to go our own way, up to a point. I was particularly keen to work on my autobiography but she put me down about that. Nevertheless, I continued to work on it. Our first assignment was to write about our earliest memory. Other assignments followed. Eventually we were told to write a poem. I produced the following:

Nantucket, Nantucket, we went to you for memories sake
You did not disappoint us
The boat, the spray, the mist, the emerging outline on the horizon
Summer island of our youth

We walked your cobbled streets
Absorbed your red bricks and your gray shingled cottages
The air of former whaling days
Of widows looking out to sea
Watching for sea-faring husbands never to return

Your sandy beaches, playgrounds for the summer visitors
We were young and carefree, only there to play
Maybe work to earn our keep
But that was quite light-hearted

Waiting table, washing dishes
Cycling to the beach
Midnight swims
Dancing at the Upper Deck
Flirting with the fellows

And yet behind it all lay the ghost of Moby Dick
And all that made Nantucket famous
In former days of sail and ambergris

The beloved grey lady of the sea

I was disappointed. My teacher didn’t like it – I never did figure out quite why. She held off for several weeks but eventually she discussed it for the benefit of the class. Her criticism kind of made me squirm. She said it wasn’t actually a poem. Oh well, I was still very happy with it and was complimented on it by each of the other members of the class. We were all quite supportive of each other.

After a couple of years I ran out of things to write about and also did not want to be a poet, nevermind the criticism by my teacher. I still liked her but I decided to do some other class – I think that’s when I switched to doing the Irish class so that was about 4 years ago.

Today Ian and I were having lunch at Airfield, an urban farm near our home. (WordPress is not allowing me to show a link – I’m beginning to think my photo uploading problems are related to this – I will investigate further)
At another table was a group of about 10 talking animatedly. I spotted my former writing teacher and 2 of my former classmates. So after lunch I went over and spoke with them. One of them, Brigid, remembered me as did Margaret, the other classmate. The teacher also kind of remembered me. Brigid could always be counted on for an amusing piece of writing. I particularly remembered her account of a hippie type wedding on a hill near Newgrange, a world famous pre-historic site here in Ireland. Margaret remembered me for a particular item I wrote early on in the class. My piece was about our son James and Susan’s wedding in Seattle in Room 9 of the King County Courthouse on July 1, 2000. Now here we were 9 years later and I could tell my friends that James and Susan had 3 children and we were going to move to Seattle to be nearer them and other members of our family living across the pond.

I said earlier that the writing class was very sociable. Well, the term had actually finished a couple of weeks ago and the group today had just gathered for coffee and a chat. What fun to see them again.


Fabric words used metaphorically September 18, 2007

Filed under: Fibre,Knitting,Words — Janet @ 9:16 pm

Fabric words used metaphorically – that’s the theme this week on Wordsmith.  So here’s another one – buckram.  Not a word I am terribly familiar with.  But according to Wordsmith,    

“buckram (BUK-ruhm) noun

   1. A stiff cotton fabric used in interlining garments, in bookbinding, etc.

   2. Stiffness; formality.

verb tr.

   1. To strengthen with buckram.

   2. To give a false appearance of strength, importance, etc.

[Of uncertain origin. Perhaps after Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a city noted for

  “Dick and his father were henceforth on terms of coldness. The upright
   old gentleman grew more upright when he met his son, buckramed with
   immortal anger.”
   Robert Louis Stevenson; The Story of a Lie; 1879.”

Now I’ll try to work it into a theme for today in connection with my knitting.  For me, the word buckram  conjures up an image of a horse and cart – like the surrey with the fringe on top in the hit musical Oklahoma.  But maybe I’m getting it confused with buckskin.  Looking up buckskin in the Oxford English Dictionary I see that one of the definitions is “a thick smooth cotton or woollen cloth”.  At least we’re still on the theme of fabric related words.

I’m working with fibre, but not to make cloth.  I’m combining my knitted and crocheted pieces and scraps to make an Eccentric Blanket.

eccentric-piece-sept.jpg this shows the progress I have made as of Sept. 18, 2007


The Story of Ung; 1896 September 11, 2007

Filed under: Books,Embroidery,Rudyard Kipling,Words — Janet @ 12:24 pm

  “No store of well-drilled needles, nor ouches of amber pale;
   No new-cut tongues of the bison, nor meat of the stranded whale.”
   Rudyard Kipling; The Story of Ung; 1896.

Is anyone familiar with this poem  by Rudyard Kipling and the quotation above?  I read the quote in today’s edition of Wordsmith. 

I was intrigued by the word “ouch” used as a noun.  According to Wordsmith and his sources, ouch or ouche  means “a brooch or buckle set with precious stones”.  This month’s workshop with the Online Guild is about embroidery and Indian elephants with some references to Kipling’s animals so there has been a lot of discussion about what fibres and materials and decorations to use for the embroidery images.   Hence I thought this word would be a good one to add to the discussion.   Now I have read the whole poem and I think the embroiderers’ heads would be reeling with more wonderful images.