So I visited my great grandmother today, and discussed knitting. She taught me the basics of knitting months ago, and today I had a finished project to show her.
This led to a discussion about the person who taught her to knit, and the fact that she “knit weird”. Apparently, my maternal great great grandmother was a practitioner of traditional Portuguese knitting. Most knitting- continental, American, Russian, Japanese- pulls yarn from the BACK of the work. Portuguese loops yarn around the neck, and pulls it from the front of the work. This means that unlike both continental and American style, purling is ridiculously easy- in fact, garter stitch pieces are worked entirely in purls, because purling is simply a thumb flick of the yarn.
My great grandmother went and dug out my great great grandmother’s favorite knitting needles for me- a personalized set of five wooden double pointed needles, that she carved notches into so that she could catch the yarn more easily. It was… interesting, holding knitting needles that are over a hundred years old. My great grandmother never mastered DPNs, and never liked them.
I’m rambling a bit, but the point I’m getting to is that-
I’m now determined to learn Portuguese knitting, so expect some weird posts about it.
I was doing some research for a paper about scientology and I started to wonder. How does L. Ron's books hold up against his contemporaries.
I hate to say this, because L. Ron Hubbard is a monster
who created a horrible cult responsible for ruining people’s lives, but…as
a pulp writer, he wasn’t half bad. I would love to hate him, but his stuff is not
unreadable dreck, and a lot of it are brainbending great reads and adventure yarns. A lot of the pulp scifi of
the time was about square jawed wisecracking engineers who are always drinking
booze and are traditionally heroic, but Hubbard’s pulp era output tended to be
about neurotics, nervous everymen who show fear and who get wrapped up in situations
they don’t entirely understand, kind of like Alfred Hitchcock’s characters in movies
like North by Northwest. Like many nervous people, he was fascinated by post-apocalyptic scenarios.
I hate armchair psychoanalysis, but I find that fascinating.
A lot of people in Hubbard’s organization say that Hubbard would constantly use
the e-meter on himself for auditing, and the feeling I get is that he wasn’t so
much a scam artist as much as he was someone who believed his own scam.
“Typewriter in the Sky” was a Philip K. Dick story before
Philip K. Dick, switching between a neurotic pianist in modern day and a pirate
story a friend of his is writing, and the characters in the story hear
typewriter clacking and reality changes every time the story is revised. The
inability to tell between fantasy and reality and passing between two worlds
are major themes of Hubbard’s (considering his life’s story, that’s kind of
fascinating), and you see it again in his horror novel Fear where it’s not
clear if a man fascinated by witches and demons is actually seeing witches and
demons, or if he’s hallucinating another horrible nightmare world. Another one
that dealt with these themes is “Slaves of Sleep,” an Arabian Nights fantasy where
a modern day guy who lives with his Aunt travels to an Arabian Nights world
whenever he falls asleep thanks to a genie’s curse, and meets a Queen of the
If I have a critique of most histories of Hubbard and
Scientology, it’s that they don’t see Dianetics as an extension of scifi
fandom, and they don’t analyze the context that produced Hubbard. The thing
that you have to remember about a lot of science fiction fandom of the 1940s
and 1950s is, it was kind of like InfoWars, with a lot of people who have very
fringe beliefs who were selling things that didn’t work. An example would be
how John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction (and Hubbard’s good
friend), who stuck his neck out and pushed fandom on something called the Dean
Drive, a reactionless thruster that ended up not working.
Dianetics is the other ultimate example of this; it was
originally published in Astounding (with a monster on the cover!) and it was one of fandom’s great
controversies gone over and over in letters pages and fanzines, with some
who believed it’s the best thing since sliced bread and others who found the whole
thing malarkey; basically, Dianetics was the GamerGate of its time (and might
have been even worse, considering how it all ultimately turned out). And then
you had the Shaver Mystery, which I’ve heard people describe as a “malformed
twin to UFO hysteria that died in the womb,” and which is too insane to
Okay, I’ve never lived anywhere you could really say it felt like spring in March. Minnesota? Dumps a ton of snow. Wyoming? Also dumps a ton of snow. New Mexico? It’s been between 60 and 80 all month!! Only 2 cloudy days, even! This is good livin’ I’m tellin’ ya.
Now, I started working on this scarf before I left Wyoming, so it was merely a wish for the future, but now I truly feel it’s the season of this spring flowers scarf!
This was actually a pinterest-inspired scarf. Here’s the original:
It’s been repinned many times, and you can even find 2 others, probably made by the same person:
I can’t find the original source after quite a bit of searching, so if anyone knows, let me know so I can give credit to the maker of these gorgeous scarves!
I decided I didn’t want to straight up copy the scarf, which wouldn’t be too difficult, but to instead try to embody the happy spring flowers feel and make something different! The original is probably a fingering weight yarn, and uses yarn strands, rather than chains, to attach the flowers. It’s very delicate, whereas mine is a bit chunky.
Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:
Film Critic Bob Mondello: I’m reading the novel on which one of my favorite Toronto International Film Festival films was based and marveling with every paragraph. If I’d read it first, I’m sure I would have sworn that no one would be able to make a film of André Aciman’s coming-of-age/coming-out story Call Me by Your Name. I mean, the book is gorgeous, lush, heartfelt and beautifully written, but doesn’t remotely seem dramatic (at least not in its first 40 pages). But man it made for drama on screen.
Executive Editor Edith
Chapin:Enemy of the Good by Matthew Palmer, the
prolific diplomat who spins great yarns from all over the globe. It should be
just what I need for two long plane rides over the weekend.
Reedy: I just started The Leavers
by Lisa Ko, which was recently longlisted for the National Book Award. I’m only
50 pages in, but I can already tell it’s one of my favorite books of the year.
Correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates:
finished Salman Rushdie’s The Golden House. Gatsby meets The Godfather, with a
little Bonfire of the Vanities thrown in. Very satisfying.
Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Critic Annalisa Quinn: I’m reading Dunbar, Edward St. Aubyn’s retelling of King Lear for Hogarth.
News Assistant Sydnee Monday:Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing
My second pair of finished socks are made from the pattern Kick In The Pants(available on Raverly for free) and the yarn is KnitPicks Felici.
This pattern is a fairly easy one that I kinda consider a “palate cleanser” to do in between more complicated socks that need more focus on them and when you just sort of want to mindlessly knit something for a while. It’s great for self-striping yarns that need a tiny bit more flare than just being knit into regular stripes.