Thursday, July 13, 2017

Canadiana Part II: KnitTraders and A New Leah Mercer

Knitting news!

I haven't visited Kingston, Ontario, in a long time, but they have a great Little Yarn Shop, KnitTraders, and I love getting the KnitTraders newsletter in my inbox. It's always full of interesting news and ideas, and adds to my growing list of projects I'd like to start.

Here's one, from a Canadian based yarn company, Spinrite: "a free, online Lookbook, filled with all manner of knit and crochet projects (like this EH! pillow) sure to please all Canucks."

There's also this happening, which I really unfortunately just don't have time for this summer, but could maybe try over the winter!

Summer Shawl AlongFleece Artist
with Trisha for Canada 150 
The National Parks CollectionWelcome to our second annual Summer KAL.
This year we will be hosting a shawl knit-along that features Canadian yarn and Canadian designers
-Simply pick a shawl pattern from a Canadian Designer.Can you believe it? There are over 700 patterns that fall into that category on Ravelry alone.-Check out all the Canadian Yarn  possibilities at KnitTraders, including the stunning National Parks Collection just in from Fleece Artist; The Oh Canada colourway (or any of the other magical colours) from Happy Cat; all the stunning options from H'ewePhoria including a great new assortment of semi solids; alpaca from Silver Cloud Alpacas, (who are just up the road in Elginburg); classic sturdy yarns from Topsy Farms and Briggs and Little, Grazioso from our friends at Sweet Paprika. Plus many more. Make your selection and you're all set to join in. -Post your patterns and yarn choices on our Ravelry Page to inspire others. 
-Follow us on Ravelry, or if you're in the Kingston area please join us in-store on Tuesdays from 1-3pm and/or Thursday from 6-8pm.
-And feel free to email KnitTraders or drop in to ask any questions you might have.
OVERWHELMED at the thought of making a fancy lace shawl? There are stunning yet easy patterns available that are well within the reach of anyone who can knit and purl. Ask the friendly and knowledgeable staff atKnitTraders for their advice.Let's Celebrate our Canadian Knitting tradition now, and create something beautiful to remember this great summer of pride and joy. 

In other Canadian news (my last Canadiana post featured a YouTube playlist I'd made), author Leah Mercer has a new book coming out!

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It's just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage -- until he says he's leaving her.
Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they'd built together -- and the bright future they'd imagined -- counted for everything. How can he walk away?
The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own -- secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him -- and he'll do anything not to expose her to that.
But unravelling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it's too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

I don't know how to review this book -- anything I say will be giving away spoilers! It's intense, and very moving, and involves characters who believe they're acting for the best, even as they alienate themselves from those around them. Some misunderstandings are resolved, but other problems greater than the people concerned are simply unsolveable. Does that explain anything? I'm trying not to reveal the secrets that are slowly unravelled throughout the book.

One thing I do hope, that in a future book we might catch a glimpse of Anna and find out how she is, a few years down the road!

As for my own writing and ROW80... CampNaNoWriMo is progressing slowly. I have an idea for resolving the time frame difficulties of my YA time travel story, but still haven't uncovered the central conflict (I can see all you plotters rolling your eyes at this). Also, I keep breaking off to do more edits on The Charm of Time. I've nearly completed the missing scene (referred to as "Friday", since the book takes place over a two-week period), and can now go back to editing on paper. Starting with "Sunday"...

Two gratuitous food photos to break up the text, from different places and different days:


Eaten something good lately?

What projects are you hoping to start?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chamonix and Mont Blanc, and Knitting Spies in Wartime

Cross-posting to the knitting blog today because I've realised that five posts from now I will have 200 posts!

Trying to get my anniversaries to run concurrently -- on 6 September, I should reach 1,100 posts on this blog and, come August, I will have been blogging for 10 years!

Came across an interesting article the other day, about knitting used by spies in WWI and WWII:

"During World War I, A grandmother in Belgium knitted at her window, watching the passing trains. As one train chugged by, she made a bumpy stitch in the fabric with her two needles. Another passed, and she dropped a stitch from the fabric, making an intentional hole. Later, she would risk her life by handing the fabric to a soldier—a fellow spy in the Belgian resistance, working to defeat the occupying German force.
Whether women knitted codes into fabric or used stereotypes of knitting women as a cover, there’s a history between knitting and espionage. “Spies have been known to work code messages into knitting, embroidery, hooked rugs, etc,” according to the 1942 book A Guide to Codes and Signals. During wartime, where there were knitters, there were often spies; a pair of eyes, watching between the click of two needles.
When knitters used knitting to encode messages, the message was a form of steganography, a way to hide a message physically (which includes, for example, hiding morse code somewhere on a postcard, or digitally disguising one image within another). If the message must be low-tech, knitting is great for this; every knitted garment is made of different combinations of just two stitches: a knit stitch, which is smooth and looks like a “v”, and a purl stitch, which looks like a horizontal line or a little bump. By making a specific combination of knits and purls in a predetermined pattern, spies could pass on a custom piece of fabric and read the secret message, buried in the innocent warmth of a scarf or hat."

Just the thing to weave -- sorry, knit -- into a story one day!

I was up nearly 4,000 metres last week! Close to 13,000 feet.

The town of Chamonix, France, at the foot of Mont Blanc, is already at over 1,000 metres, and I took the cable car up another 2,000 metres... I was clutching on for dear life, and I couldn't look out the window, but luckily the trip itself takes only about 15 minutes.

On our way to France!

25 metre-high statue of Christ the King

First sight of the Bossons Glacier

Tip of the glacier, apparently called the snout

The cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi at 3,842 metres (Mont Blanc's highest point is at 4,808 metres)

Images of and from Mont Blanc.

Noting for the record that the better, more daring shots, are photos that my mother took, since I was too afraid to lean over any railings or parapets.

It was 30 degrees Celsius in town, and 6 degrees up near the top...

Recording an ascent to the Aiguille du Midi in 1856

Looking down from the cafeteria...

Heading back down

Almost there

I can see solid ground!

The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on in 1786, by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.
The statue doesn't show Paccard, but Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who gave a reward for the successful ascent.

Old-timey mural

Back in the town of Chamonix

Church of St Bernard

Stained glass showing Grenoble, France

There was a small sidewalk exhibit all about authors and climbers through the ages.

The photos above is of Henriette d'Angeville, the second woman to climb Mont Blanc, 30 years after Marie Paradis in 1808. She caused a bit of a scandal when she married one of her guides, who was not of the same social class as she was. Here's a bit from Wikipedia:
"D'Angeville set off for Mont Blanc in 1838, in the company of Joseph-Marie Couttet, five other guides, and six porters.[1] A suggestion had been made by the guides to join with two all-male groups, but d'Angeville declined.[2] Her arrival in Chamonix created quite a stir; crowds cheered her on her way to the mountain. She received a social call at the Grand Mulets, at 10,000 feet, from a Polish nobleman (who sent his card to her tent), and an English group joined them as well.[1]
D'Angeville's party left for the summit on 4 September 1838 at 2 AM. Along the way d'Angeville proved herself strong and agile enough;[4] particularly on rock she climbed as well as the men,[2] though she did suffer from heart palpitations and drowsiness [altitude sickness].[5] The party reached the top of the mountain at 1:15 PM. Toasts were made with champagne, doves were released from the summit to announce their success, and d'Angeville was hoisted on the men's shoulders and cheered. A cannon salute welcomed them on their return to Chamonix. The celebrations the next day also included a special guest, at d'Angeville's request, the now sixty-year-old Maria Paradis.[4] Also present in Chamonix during that time, though he left the day before d'Angeville's successful climb, was a young, poor, and hopeful author and mountaineer Albert Richard Smith. Smith had tried to attach himself to an expedition but would not climb the mountain until 1851, after which he turned his experience into a theatrical show; he notes d'Angeville's expedition (and the "Polish gentleman [sic]") in his "Ascent of Mont Blanc."[6] ... Since Paradis, according to her own account, was partly carried up by her guides, d'Angeville is often referred to as the first woman to reach Mont Blanc's summit with her own strength.[7]"

I'd never heard any of the names, but they all seem like interesting people.
One young man disappeared on the mountain at the age of 27.

The Arve River, which flows all the way to Geneva.
Glaciers are made of compact ice, not snow, and the ice cap of Mont Blanc pushes out the glaciers, which melt into rivers, dragging silt with them -- which is why the Arve is the sediment-y colour it is.

Leaving the glacier

Two glaciers!
The Bossons Glacier and the Taconnaz Glacier. Apparently, Bossons is a safe glacier, whereas large ice blocks break off from the Taconnaz Glacier, and an avalanche barrier is needed.

Next time, I'd like to visit the Matterhorn, since Tolkien was there in 1911!

A quick ROW80 update!

I've been all over the place the last couple of weeks, slowly drafting a missing scene for The Charm of Time, adding a few changes to Druid's Moon before submitting it again (and the epilogue is done!), writing a new short story (this seems to be semi-regular summertime thing for me, and I love it!) tentatively called "The Tattoo", and working through another round of beta comments on "At Summer's End" before I resubmit it. The latter is this week's priority!

What's the highest peak you've stood on?
Or the lowest place you've descended to?