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.
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.
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. A suggestion had been made by the guides to join with two all-male groups, but d'Angeville declined. 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.
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; particularly on rock she climbed as well as the men, though she did suffer from heart palpitations and drowsiness [altitude sickness]. 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. 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." ... 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."
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!