Friday, February 25, 2011

I have, as hoped, Rounded the next Bend, and am now knitting the back of the right half of the jacket, bottom-up.

Linda, I’m not a fast knitter at all. It’s a question, if anything, of sticking at it. How I envy Annie Modesitt, who taught herself to knit when she was in her 20’s and just happened to work a out a system which was blindingly fast and smooth and even. I drop-and-throw. In my youth, I used to try to teach myself a better system, to no avail. I can knit “continental” with my left hand when I’m doing Fair Isle, but it doesn’t seem to work with a single colour.

I’m happy the way things are.

I went over to Ravelry yesterday and signed up for the Shirley Paden fan club. I hope someone can help here: who was the designer who died very suddenly perhaps five years ago? The connection of thought is just that I admired her, as I do Paden, and her death was a shock.

Googling doesn’t help – you’d be surprised (and depressed) at how common is sudden death.

I’m going to venture out onto thin ice here.

I was taken aback that Paden is described, in the headline for her fan club, as “the lovely and classy African American woman”. Her brilliant designs aren’t ethnic, that I can see. It’s not as if she was Scottish or Japanese. Why mention race, any more than her height or weight or age?

Earlier this week we watched the old film “All the King’s Men”, based on the novel of the same name which is in turn based on the career of Huey Long. It’s good. It’s set in an unnamed Southern state. Every single character, even in the crowd scenes, even on the streets, is white.

And I wondered why I didn’t notice this when I saw the film in the 50’s. It seems very striking now. My mother’s parents and brother lived in Dallas. We often visited. I knew what the South looked like.

There were other things I didn’t notice when I was young. We lived for a while in Detroit, between Seven and Eight Mile Roads. (Or was it Six and Seven?) There were no black children in my primary school. In Detroit.

We moved to New Jersey the year I started high school. There were blacks in Asbury Park High School, much to the fore in our rather feeble basketball and football teams. There were none in the “college preparatory” streams where I was.

Why didn’t I wonder about these things? I was brought up properly “liberal”. I remember the “Negroes only” notice on the back seats in the busses in Dallas. I yearned, as an adolescent, for the courage to go sit in one of them. But the whole two-nations thing seems to have eluded my attention.


  1. It's funny how time alters your perspective. Remember how only a few years ago, people used to smoke *inside* buildings - in the cinema, on trains and planes! Anyway, enjoy the match tomorrow - let's hope Scotland can regain some of their winning momentum.

  2. I don't know if she's the one you're thinking of but I was totally shocked to learn of the death of designer Michele Wyman from out KnitList days.

  3. Anonymous3:36 PM

    I grew up in Southern Ontario close to the border with the US. I remember once when I was about 6 years old we visited friends in Detroit who took us out to a park of some sort. I remember that trip vividly because I encountered two drinking fountains and one was marked "Colored". I figured out that someone had forgotton the "u" in the word but was rather confused as it was as white as the other. On the way back to the bridge, I saw another sign over a restaurant or dance hall that said "White Gentiles Only". I had to ask what that meant. I never thought that it might refer to people.

  4. Anonymous3:42 PM

    You may be thinking of Barbara Venishnick, who died a few years ago.

    To your other point: as a child I always found that all-white casting in old movies or television peculiar - "that doesn't look real" was my reaction. But I grew up in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and my family's daily life was in all colors, not just black and white.
    -- Gretchen

  5. Interesting observations Jean. I had a university friend who, in the late 70s, got married in a southern US state where her husband was training to be a pilot in the Air Force. She said when they went to get a licence there was one registry for whites and another for "coloureds."

    I wonder what things we will look back on in a few decades and ask the same questions about.

  6. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Funny.... what I remember is my friend Stephen, who I adored in college (circa 1966) and never, ever even considered he might be gay until I read that he had died, during the AIDs years. And it all clicked, and I hated myself.... for loving him so dearly as a friend without ever knowing him at all.

    One of the most serious regrets of my life.

    Barbara M.

  7. Anonymous2:18 AM

    Was it Barbara Albright? She wrote many knitting books. I follow your blog eeryday and love it especially since I love EZ and Meg,also. Mary in Cincinnati