My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl Grows and "Valiant Ambition"

My Scrappy Shawl grows as it's the knit I always want to grab.  I love mixing leftover yarn and designing it in a purposefully haphazard way to make it look "scrappy".

     After finishing "1776" by David McCullough (Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and Finishing 1776) I felt like I needed to find an equally good author who writes about the American Revolutionary War in a compelling way.  I am reading several books on the subject (or listening on Audible) but they are thick tomes, filled with lots of details that I do appreciate, but I wanted a book that was fun too (how to explain to my husband yes I do need another book, on the same topic, when I have a pile of them sitting on the table).  I knew that Nathanial Philbrick has a new book out on the Victory at Yorktown: "In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown" but I wasn't at the end of this tale.  And I found his second book in his Revolutionary series: "Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution".  I will have to circle back to read his first book on "Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution", all a part of "The American Revolution Series".

     "Valiant Ambition" ended up a perfect choice.  It starts with Washington in New York and then details Benedict Arnold's heroic exploits that sometimes land in massive failure (leading his troops up the wilds of Maine to invade Canada) and sometimes positively alter the course of the war even though a failure (his battles on Lake Champlain).  No matter what Arnold is overlooked for promotion.  The book steadily will go back and forth describing four years of war for both men and how Arnold ultimately succumbs to treachery yet was at first an able general that was helping us win the war.  Often in history, Arnold has been vilified throughout his life as an evil person.  This account tries to show how and why he fell from patriot to traitor.  I'm enjoying it! (It is so tempting to get it on Audible, but while it sounded good, I mean really good, I resisted.  I do have a pile of books on this subject and Audibles and Kindles.  My only excuse is I'm really getting a good grasp of the Revolutionary War and I feel like it's the first time I'm really doing it, studying history.)

Interesting articles and talks from Nathaniel Philbrick:

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and Finishing 1776

    I'm still working on my Scrappy Bias Shawl out of  Hawthorne Fingering Yarns.  Loving the colors.  (But I ran late today and without daylight, I can't get a good shot, so recycled pics, except Jenny kitty who decided my knitting a perfect place to rest her head.)

      I'm three pages from finishing 1776 and I'm upset.  It's such a great book I want one for every year of the American Revolution!  I'm reading other revolutionary books but I feel like I've been left at a cliff hanger and in the other books I'm still plowing through the causes of the war in detail.  One new book (2016) gives a fresh new perspective "American : A Continental History, 1750-1804 " by Alan Taylor.  Instead of a neat war isolated to battlefields, he explains the entire social upheavals and changes and violence in the Colonies.  Also, he interweaves how the desire for Westward expansion plays into this and also other more far-reaching consequences of the war, a more global perspective.

      I have found I really like "Almost A Miracle", I got the book second hand used through Amazon.  But since it's a 704-page tome I decided to get it also with my Audible.  Sometimes listening to an audio I more easily digest lots of material in a short time (and knit!).  I'm just up to Lexington and Concord with that and I'm actually looking forward to going over the battles of 1776 again.  I know sounds boring but I love the details and the subtle nuances of the authors perspective (it also gives me a chance to really know the material). Goodreads Review of "Almost A Miracle"  

     One outstanding overall impression I have of "1776" as a year in the American Revolution is how much we were actually losing the war.  The smallest details lead to a victory or a save for the day and everyone is evacuated.  We were outnumbered by a trained army of career soldiers.  But the heart and purpose seem to be a large factor in our winning.  I never knew it was that bad a situation only having vague ideas that some battles were lost.  I grew up in Princeton, NJ where a victorious battle took place and spent almost 20 years in the Saratoga, NY area, also an area of a notable victory.  The reality was grim and indeed it was almost a miracle we actually won.  I need so much to find a book on the Battle of Princeton because "1776" has left me right in the middle of my home state and we're just starting to win!

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Weekend New and Hot Patterns Reveal


     Don't you love to browse Ravelry for the new patterns or what's Hot Right Now?  Often new patterns are on sale or free.  I fill my saved patterns by "Favoriting" them where I have every conceivable category, including "Spring Shawls" or "Jonathan Socks" (my son).  Often when I need a pattern I head for my favorite patterns for a quick find among collected patterns.  I like to dream and seeing all the different patterns sparks creativity, even if I am not humanly capable of getting all those patterns done.  So come dream with me.  These are some new patterns (a few free) and some very hot this week.

     Top this week in Ravelry's "Hot Right Now" is Something Pink, a beautiful cowl done in worsted.  "The pattern brings together panels of feather and fan lace and simple ribbing. Great for a beginner or anyone looking for a relaxing, quick and easy knit."

     For other cowls done in fingering and smaller and even more delicate try, the NEW February patterns Spun Sugar, Cream Puff, and Praline from the Confection e-book (Free till the end of February 15th).

     A beautiful shawl designed in memory of a trip to Canada and it's green landscape from Joji Locatelli is free for knitters- Odyssey Shawl.

"Odyssey is a way for me to give back to the knitting community. You can download it for free, forever, but it is not a free pattern… The making of this pattern was paid by all of you, knitters, as a community. By supporting me and my family, you are allowing me to do a job I love and I am giving that love back. And by supporting I don’t only mean ‘buying my patterns’. Support also comes from all the love you send me with your messages. I couldn’t do it without you. Therefore, because you are a member of this community, this is a pattern from me to all of you."

     And for those scraps of beautiful fingering yarn a Garter Scrappy Blanket, new this February and forever Free!

Have a Knitting Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and "1776"

     My Scrappy Bias Shawl calls to me often with its beautiful colors.  A simple rhythmic knit done in various Hawthorne Fingering Yarns.  I raided a bit of a beautiful blue and grey yarn intended for the West Bluff Shawl I have set aside, but I couldn't resist, just a bit.  I'm also eying the purple from that shawl.  Temptation, but I'm getting a pretty result and I can order more if I come up short for the West Bluff.

     I'm still in the grip of reading "1776" by David McCullough.  I even take the risk of taking it into the bath with me at night (it's survived, so far).  For a history book, this is exciting!   Of course, it probably helps that these details of battles and personalities are new to me.  I've come through Boston which the British held during 1775 (from originally coming in 1768) and I was thrilled at Knox's adventures that winter at age 25 to plan and then go get the cannons (all 119,900 pounds of them) from Ticonderoga and get them all down to Albany (through Old Saratoga where I used to live) and over the Berkshire Mountains.  The heavy snow and deep cold helped but Knox had to wheedle and plead to get his caravan to go through those mountains.  Boston is evacuated of the British after a bombardment from the cannons and because a mighty storm came the evening the British was going to try and attack Dorchester Heights where the cannon were.  The British were unable to sail their ships against the wind and by morning Howe changed his mind and ordered an evacuation.

Note - Knox actually used Horses, details in this blog - No Ox for Knox?

     How the vagarities of weather play in the Revolutionary War is interesting.  One almost wonders if God is sending messages (the Colonist's wondered).  In "1776' a large mid-portion of the book is devoted to the fortifying of New York City by George Washington's forces, their defeat on Long Island and a heroic overnight evacuation of all troops from Long Island.  Weather plays a very dramatic part.  The very night that Washington is warned that the British will attack at any moment a huge black cloud comes in and hovers over the city.  People describe it as swirling in place.  Never has the city seen a storm of that magnatude.  One Colonist wonders are there magnetic powers pulling from all the arms in the city ( I haven't a clue if this is possible).  But the lightning is tremendous, arcing for 3 hours over the city, hitting often and a whole group of officers is electrocuted at once.  By morning, the sky is perfectly blue.  The British started their attack.

Details - American Minute 
permission by

     When Washington is trying to silently evacuate ever soldier out of Long Island, practically under the Britsh armies' noses during the night by every boat they could find, he runs out of time. The sun is about to come up, a good portion of the troops haven't crossed over the water and a thick fog descends. One where you couldn't see 6 ft. in front of you.  One person during that time said he thought he saw Washington waiting at the wharf stairs for all to leave (he wasn't sure).  Everyone got out, the heavy fog lifted an hour later, but was never on the New York side.  Strange but also marvelous.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Begonia Wrap and American Revolution Books

     Begonia Wrap, a new pattern in January, hit the "Hot Right Now" list on Ravelry a few weeks ago and it caught my eye and it's free!  It's a cozy beautiful asymmetrical shawl with a scalloped edge that features the soft Knit Pick's Chroma Fingering Yarn, which I had one skein tucked away in my stash.  I had tried this yarn on another shawl and it didn't work, so I was eager to see if this would be better.  Right away this easy pattern has delighted me.  It's fun and requires a repeat of two lines of instructions.  I did make a mistake at the beginning (reading and knitting sometimes lend to losing track of rows).  You are supposed to repeat the rows 7 times, then add an 8th row that adds 8 stitches (the bumps for the scalloped edge); I did an extra 2 rows and then found I liked the more pronounced bump, and the smaller bumps at the edge (three in total) look on purpose before the slightly larger ones.  Some mistakes are meant to be.


     I've been still listening to "John Adams" by David McCullough sporadically, but I'm up to 1786 and I want to know more about the American Revolution.  I've surrounded myself with a stack of history books on the subject and I'm totally so excited to be digging in.  Many are considered Popular History, that is historical books written for the general public versus scholarly works by historians.  I might have a history degree but I'm pretty new to the American Revolution having had only taught the 7th-grade level decades ago and the school textbook was not exactly riveting in it's listing of events.  My total dislike of the time period would be a good summation.  But "John Adams" brings it alive and these Popular History books delve into the subject in an exciting manner.  It makes it alive and graspable. 

      Another  David McCullough book I find myself drawn to the most lately is the book is "1776"; it is riveting.  I've enjoyed reading about Knox's amazing feat of procuring the cannons of Ticonderoga through snow and over a mountain range.  This plan was devised by the 25-year-old and was the deciding factor in getting the British out of Boston.  This is what appeals to me about the Revolutionary War; how the winning of the war depended on so many differing, often unplanned elements.  The weather, a particularly daring move or plan of an individual, luck or providence?  So many aspects of the war leave you with your jaw on the ground, totally amazed we won.

       To get a broad understanding of the American Revolution from it's rooted in Colonial Society to the impact of the Revolution globally I've been reading "American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804" on Kindle and also following it on Audible.  This does delve into nitty-gritty details, but I find them very interesting.  I like this author's perspective.  It's one of the newer books out on the Revolution (2016) and it comes from a fresher perspective that the war was not a neat war, compact to violence only on battlefields, but a total society upheaval with messy violence in many places and global impact.  I'm up to the French and Indian war and refreshingly I hear of Washington's disgraceful attack on the French and outcome.  I had read about this earlier and I was shocked very few mention it, except to say Washington is heroic (which he totally is later in life).  But he is 22 now and very green (he was skilled as a surveyor but knew west of the Appalachians well).  He is ordered by the Virginian Governor to stop the French by any means because the French were trying to gain a foothold in the disputed Ohio Valley for their trade.  Washington using the advice of Indian allies surprise attacks a group of French soldiers (who were on their way to warn Washington that he was to leave French territory).  The French are sleeping in a depression with large boulders around it.  Shots are fired.  One account by a private in Washington's regiment, who wasn't there, but heard accounts from others said a Frenchman fired first and Washington ordered for all to fire. (John Shaw's Account of Jumonville's Murder, 1754).  This was the start of the French and Indian War and really a global World War called the Seven Years War between the French and English.  The French captain Jumonville is killed in murky circumstances.  Reading several versions from differing viewpoints (including the French and Indians) Jumonville was either killed in cross-fire or wounded, then captured by Washington and in the midst of being interrogated the Indian Chief ally tomahawked him and ceremonial washed his hands in his blood.  Then scalped him, a common proof of a kill by both sides and not just by Indians.  Despite being a prodigious journal writer Washington was known to only write of the incident of the musical sound of the bullets whistling by.  "I heard the bullets whistle. And, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."  On one hand, he was ordered to do anything to get the French out, but he attacks in cold blood sleeping French and at that point, there was no war, now there was.  I do appreciate Washington as he ages and learns from mistakes but I heartily appreciate authors who accurately re-tell historical events and are not afraid to speak the truth, even if ugly.  "George Washington's forays into the Ohio country shaped his career and sparked a global war." and Jumonville Glen Skirmish, and a more clear and graphic account - Jumonville Defeat Historical Marker.

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