Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Twenty years ago, on the 70th anniversary, the BBC showed a brilliant production of “Journey’s End”. I sort of hoped they’d fish it out of a drawer and put it on again this week, but alas, no.

I learned about the Great War through what might be called archaeology. Of course I knew about it, Ypres and Passchendaele and the mud and the Americans coming in only at the very last minute. I assumed it was about as bad as World War II which goodness knows was very bad, and which I had lived through at a remote and safe distance.

I first came to England in the summer of 1953, with college friends. We skipped about hither and yon, and couldn’t help seeing the war memorials on village greens, in churches and Oxford colleges and department stores and banks. Again and again and again, two times, three times, four times as many names on the Great War list as in the WWII section. That’s how I found out.


I’ve started the hat again. It was an epic saga.

On the first attempt, I found when I had cast on 110 stitches, that I didn’t have enough long-tail left for the other six. It happens sometimes.

On the second attempt, I found when I was half-way that I was forming the stitches on my thumb with the working yarn and knitting them on with the long-tail. That was a new one to me, and I’m not sure the mistake couldn’t have been redeemed when the cast-on was complete, but I didn’t risk it.

On the third attempt, I found when half-way around the second row that I was knitting with the long-tail. It happens sometimes.

The fourth attempt was successful, and I have done three rounds. You will be surprised to hear that I don’t seem to have twisted the work around the needle when joining it into a circle.

Two things about the chart:

1) The key, in my copy, shows both “knit” and “no stitch” as a plain white square. “No stitch” should be shaded.
2) In row 24 – that’s about where I was when I had to rip out the very first attempt – the 8th and 9th stitches, counting in from the right, are shown as “knit”. They should be “purl”, to make things balance.

However, today’s big news is not there but on eBay. I’ve found a VKB!

Devoted readers will remember that I am trying to complete a set of the original Vogue Knitting Book, published in Britain twice-yearly from fall, 1932 until the late 60’s. (I don’t know its exact relationship to the American VK: that will be something to find out.)

I discovered eBay in mid-’06 and made great strides that year and the next, supplementing the pile I already had from my Early Knitting Life. I bought Number One in November last year, and from then on have entertained a substantial hope of completing the set. I got nos. 18 and 19, two fine wartime exemplars, in late November and early December last year.

At that point I lacked only five issues. But 2008 has been a complete washout, so far.

eBay has, for some reason – does anyone know? –, stopped sending me email notices when new offerings are made under my search heading “Vogue Knitting”. I used to hear from them daily. So I’ve now got to go in and toil through the list a couple of times a week. And yesterday I found one.

It’s coming up on Saturday. I will coy-ly refrain from mentioning its number just yet. You’ll hear more.


  1. Hi Jean
    If you do a search for what you're looking for on ebay, it will come up with 'x results found for..'. Next to that there is a 'save this search' option. If you click on this a dialogue box opens with a further option to be emailed daily when items matching your search are listed, you choose how long this runs for.
    Hope this is useful! Good luck bidding on the VKBs. Mary

  2. I've never seen a production of Journey's End, too bad BBC hasn't made it available. Have you read Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy? You've got me thinking, perhaps I'll post a list of my favorite Great War writings and hope to hear about others. And good luck with the hat. I looked at it last night at the shop and thought I'd move on to something easier!

  3. Anonymous3:56 PM

    A new-to-me mystery writer focuses on the Great War effects going into the early 30's - I found it very enlightening (as well as a good read!) "Maisie Dobbs" by J... Winspear. It's a series now, 3 more which I am collecting from the library.

  4. Anonymous9:39 PM

    I do know that I have to renew my order to have new items on my eBay favorite searches sent to me yearly, perhaps you missed this? My thing is beer nutcrackers...I spend my life with lots of German nutcrackers holding beer steins staring at me! I'm always looking for new ones...