More U.S.A. Today

The other day my mother handed me a bag of knitting wool.    

Putting the bounce back into hand-knitting


Where it came from, I have no idea. My mother never knit; though her mother did. Her mother died in the late 1980’s, so I’m wondering if this mish-mash of “goodies” dates from over twenty years ago. Certainly the knitting patterns could have…    

When DH saw the pattern on the left emerge out of the bag he asked “why is it called a Sirdar”? I told him that “Sirdar” was the name of the brand of wool. He told me that Sirdar was in fact    

a) the name of  level of native-born Indian Prince in the time of the British Raj and    

b) the title given to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Egypt.    

This conversation was similar to a previous one that I had with DH, when I thought I had hit upon an interesting convergence between his interest (military history) and mine. I related to him that a stitch had been named after an English General, who had bemoaned the seams in soldiers’ socks. DH nearly had an apoplexy when he realised that I had never heard of Lord Kitchener in any other context. And just so as you know – because I certainly do now – Lord Kitchener has another knitterly connection: he was Sirdar in Egypt.     

Looking through the contents of the rest of the bag, it could have been mine from ten years ago.  

Anyone for Archaeology?

Tivoli Superlite Chunky

Yoko Chenille Cotton

When I used to knit – before I recently re-discovering it in its new (r)evolutionary (re)form through the internet – my knitting M.O. went something like this: visit wool shop; browse their patterns and wool in stock; buy whatever pattern they also had the wool for in the shop; buy the wool and buy the needles too if necessary; knit pattern and keep any left-overs.  Consequently, I moved house six times and a plastic bag of oddments moved with me. My Grandmother must have been a knitter with a similar M.O. because, sure enough, in the bag we’ve got the left-overs from each of the patterns pictured above: Yoko Chenille Cotton for the children’s cardigan and Tivoli SuperLite Chunky for the Women’s cardigan. If my Grandmother knit these, they must have gone to my cousins and aunt respectively, because I don’t remember ever seeing them before.   

What can I say?

The bag did enclose a treasure after all. My mother – or perhaps her mother – had written a note…  

Note to self

… but when I turned it over I found that it was written on headed paper from my Grandfather’s Grocery Shop and Public House. It’s a bit small to read it all. On the top left it says “Memo from” in Gothic script. Under his name it says, in a Times-type font: “GROCER, TEA, WINE, SPIRIT AND PROVISION MERCHANT”On the top right it has their three-digit phone number. How high-tech were they? Having a phone was that era’s 3G Broadband, I guess.  

Grocer's Note

We grew up with these sheets strewn and stashed in various places all over the house. We used them to draw and colour on; my mother used them to write notes on. I haven’t seen one in a long time, so this part of the package I will treasure – crumpled and torn though it is.  

What to do with the rest of it posed a bit of a conundrum. After all, I still have my own bag of strange left-overs; not to mention several more bags of good stuff that I’ve acquired more recently. Then I reminded myself of a little plan that I hatched before Christmas. A plan that I have now even more reason to follow through on. I think I’ll save it for another post.  

My recent competition generated quite a buzz for me, personally, as well has here on the blog. Such a good feeling, that I want to run one again soon. I’m going to wait until it’s my birthday, next month and no! the prize won’t be a recently acquired stash of random oddments!
In the meantime, someone else is having a birthday competition on her blog:
And this blog post constitutes my third entry, out of a possible four for me (since I’m not on Facebook).


8 Responses to “More U.S.A. Today”

  1. Helen (of troy) Says:

    Oh-well now your work is cut out..

    ask him about the crimean war–specifically lords Cardigan and Raglan-(kitchener was there too, but he was very young!)

    Kitchener was the model for the WE WANT YOU recruiting poster (in US it has uncle Sam–a total rip off!)

    (I was an adult before i knew who Nelson was (and why he had a pillar. I went up the one in Dublin before IRA blew it up.)
    but i didn’t know sirdar (as a title) only as a yarn!

    (and just before my mother died, i got some of her stash it included Red Heart WOOL (from 1970’s or so!) and some circs with wire cables (think of piano wires!) circa 1960!)

    • undermeoxter Says:

      It was because of the WE WANT YOU poster that he couldn’t believe I’d never heard of Kitchener other than as a stitch.
      I can’t wait to ask him about Cardigan and Raglan – thanks for that. No doubt a two hour disertation on the Crimean and The Charge of the Light Brigade is in store!
      That’s cool you were up in Nelson’s Pillar. Have you seen our modern take on it? Such a wasted opportunity not to have something you can climb up to get a view.

  2. undermeoxter Says:

    DH’s reply: The Battle of Balaclava!

    Moral of the story: Lords Cardigan and Raglan should have *stuck to the knitting*! Bah-boom-tish!

  3. Kat Says:

    Lord Kitchener is very well known in SA, where his great claim to fame is not knitting, but rather the fact that he devised the brutal Scorched Earth policy during the Boer War. The British burnt the Boers’ farms, slaughtered livestock, and moved women, children and the elderly to horrific conditions in concentration camps sparking an humanitarian crisis. Many South Africans whose families have been here for more than 100 years had family in those camps with their high death rates – ours did. As you can imagine (and can, as Irish people understand), this did nothing for the popular opinion of the British.
    We’re still waiting for the Queen’s apology….

    • undermeoxter Says:

      I was aware of this horrible episode of history because my Father would tell me, as a child, never to forget that Germany did not “invent” the idea of Concentration Camps, but that the Britain did during the Boer War. I was not aware of the connection with Kitchener, though.
      Recently, I was watching “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” a film about Ireland during the “Black & Tans”, prior to the creation of the Irish State. It was difficult to stomach the potrayal of things that the Black & Tans and the British Army did. Their actions provoked conflict, rather than quelling it.
      What is important, these days, is that Nations learn from History’s lessons to avoid them being repeated; rather than use History as an excuse to keep conflicts kindled.

      • Kat Says:

        Oh, I don’t disagree at all, and wish people (and nations) could be more so – how many problems that would solve.
        However, to understand why people have the long memories they do, it does help to know how deep-rooted some of these bitter resentments can be, especially when we today feel removed from the time and context of their genesis.

  4. undermeoxter Says:

    How many kilometers of yarn did I use for my first attempt at Glenvar?

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