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May 31, 2008

Reconciliation, Part Two

Mom and Dad, 1952

In late 1951, my mom left Japan via Yokohama on the USNS General W. H. Gordon (T-AP-117) bound for the western US. While I was doing my genealogy research, I found the list of passengers -- my mom's shipmates. I didn't know the name of the ship prior to finding the passenger list, nor did I realize that she was traveling with many other Japanese nationals - women with Japanese first names and American last names. This was one of the ships bringing Japanese wives stateside with their husbands - American servicemen. Some of the women were pregnant (this was noted in the list -- my mom was four months pregnant as well) and two of the women had already had children. The youngest wives were 19 years old, with the average age being 22. There was one Chinese woman and one Korean woman on the ship as well.

My mom doesn't like to talk about the journey from Japan to the US -- she hated traveling by ship and it was a long, unpleasant trip -- she left Yokohama before the end of December and arrived in San Francisco in the second week of January, 1952.

Over the years, I've pieced together some details that she's shared with us and although hers is the only story I know, I imagine that almost all the other Japanese women aboard the ship were disowned by their families and had to face the same degree of background investigation, medical exams and probably their share of humiliation and racism in order have permission to marry an American. The "reconciliation" I'm referring to in the title of these posts, refers to my reconciling the historical facts with the feelings and observations my mom has shared. Once in the states, she felt she had to stop "being" Japanese. She even had to have an American first name, which confused me; she was "Sandy" and her friends were sometimes "Kim" or "Sue." I was so curious about my Japanese heritage and wanted to know more, but I was often shushed and left with my own curiosity; I would have to be content with reading and imagining until I went to Japan with my mom in 1985.

I've been working on this post for a few months now and for some reason, working on it has made me feel rather blue. It's been difficult coming to terms with the war and its aftermath and also the racism -- not just towards Japanese women, but toward other cultures as well. It's hard to reconcile the pride and privilege I feel with the suffering and disgrace we inflict on others.

May 23, 2008

Happy days are here again

Happy Vesper Sock Yarn
Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn, "Spring has Sprung"

This has been the year of connectivity issues with my internet at home. The gremlins invaded last week on Friday afternoon and I was without internet till yesterday afternoon. In the early morning or evenings, I was able to use my husband's wireless broadband connection but during the day (prime websurfing time), he has to use it to . . . work!

So I was faced with deciding what to knit when nobody's looking (i.e. when I can't blog or post photos to Flickr like I normally do). I'm so used to casting on and sharing here and there that I never really thought about how GOOD it might feel to knit without instant feedback. It felt great! And it's not that I don't value your opinions and wonderful feedback -- I have the most awesome readers, after all -- but when it comes right down to it, perhaps I could (and should) knit without an audience. I frogged a lot of WIPs that weren't making me deliriously happy. Ultimately, all that left me was the secret knitting and secret swatching (i.e. stuff I can't share here due to their being gifts or designs in progress). But it's no secret that it was satisfying to just knit -- to work on something without showing anybody.

What would YOU knit if nobody was looking?

By the way, my internet problem this time? Loose cable connections -- my cable signal was strong, but it wasn't getting to the modem! Once that was taken care of, I had to set up my wireless router again -- a two hour process -- and now I'm good to go. For the past several months, I was having to go upstairs to reset the modem at least once a day, sometimes more. There's no telling how much more knitting time I'll have now that I'm not constantly having to reset the modem!

May 22, 2008

Reconciliation, Part One

My favorite photo of my mom - taken several years before WWII

Earlier this week, I watched Grave of the Fireflies and it has unexpectedly stuck with me. If you're new to my blog, my Dad served in the USAF and was stationed in postwar Japan (during the occupation) when he met my mother, who is Japanese. While I was growing up, my mom didn't talk about her childhood in Tokyo except in vague terms. To say I didn't understand her back then is an understatement. But I started asking questions when I was a teenager and thirty years later . . . I'm finally beginning to understand some things.

My mom was 12 years old in April 1942 when the US first bombed Tokyo in retaliation for Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor. By 1945, B-29 bombers were being flown from China to bomb Japan, with many sorties over Tokyo. It's difficult for me to imagine being a teenager during the incendiary bombing of Tokyo; my mom shared about one incident of heading to the bomb shelter and not being able to locate her favorite cat. But it wasn't until I watched this animated, but nevertheless very accurate, depiction of incendiary bombs and the story told from the point of view of Japanese children, that I was able to begin to understand some of what she went through. I'll leave it to those of you who take the time to read through the links to reconcile your own feelings about WWII and about "war" in general. Personally, since watching the movie, my own views are beginning to change and evolve.

Actual knitting content resumes tomorrow; I've frogged nearly everything that was giving me trouble.

May 14, 2008

About Twisted Knitter

Twisted Knitter on an OLD Smith Corona

Twisted Knitter is my knitting blog handle; my real name is Janet and I live in a SE Texas suburb between Conroe and Houston. I've been a blogger for years but now I blog mostly about knitting-related things . . . occasionally I sneak in something unrelated to knitting.

You can also find me on Ravelry and Flickr (where I've been posting photos since August 2004).

I've been knitting since 2003 and my passion for it increased with each successful finished project. From over a dozen felted bags and many socks, it never occurred to me that you couldn't knit with wool in Texas. (Did you know that's the first thing people assume about Texas knitters - that it's too hot here to knit?) Houston has a large and accomplished knitting population and I've been fortunate enough to attend workshops taught by Beth Brown-Reinsel and Nancy Bush.

I'm not much of a garment knitter; I knit mostly for tactile and visual reasons. I'm taken in by yarn that's "my" color or a fiber that feels luxurious. I quickly abandon a knitting project that isn't satisfying or fun. I knit first for enjoyment and second to master a skill -- I will knit a pattern repeatedly until I feel I have mastered it. Recently I shared some of what brought me to knitting in the first place and the fact that my blog is something that I do for myself. This is the space in which I am generous to myself and others and I try to be kind even when I share strong opinions.

My hope (and continued goal) is that I demonstrate that I am interested in my readers and fellow knitting bloggers. I enjoy getting to know you through your blogs and your Flickr photostreams. I'm grateful that so many of you have continued to blog about what is going on in your lives and not JUST the knitting projects you're working on! Recently, I decided to post more up-to-date photos of myself, because many of you already do -- and this helps if I ever run into you while I'm working or attending a fiber-related event. If you're meeting me for the first time, I'm really shy (though I seem standoffish) and I guarantee I will figure out a way to say something goofy even when I am consciously trying NOT to. Susan is the first fellow knitter I met in the flesh and I'm delighted that she and I are still knitting more than dishcloths after all this time. (I am *so* not opposed to knitting dishcloths - and I still knit them proudly!)

I have three sisters; Jayne is in banking, Joan is an attorney and JL works in the entertainment industry. I'm married to Paul and have three kids - a daughter and two sons. My sons prefer that I not blog about them; however, I'm pretty sure my daughter doesn't mind. Prior to my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I worked as a database administrator -- first for a building products manufacturer in Oklahoma City and later for Marathon Oil Company.

Thanks for reading!

May 13, 2008

Need your opinions

To my readers:

I need your opinions.

Do you read the "About" pages on blogs? I read them when I am new to a blog but beyond that initial read to get to know the blogger better, I don't read them again.

Do you find it helpful when a blogger provides contact information beyond the comments section? Again, for me it's rare that I use the "contact" option (outside of leaving a comment) but I can see that it might be useful to some of my readers who want to ask me a question but not necessarily leave me a comment.

If you are reading this at my blog (and not through a feed reader) you can see that I'm preparing to decide whether I want to include these additional options - but right now, it's not linked to anything. I'm also working to make sure my avatar is the same throughout the places I frequent online.

On the knitting front, I'm going to frog the triangular shawl today because I think I need to go down a needle size. I committed to experimenting with the book, the yarn and the concept but didn't officially make it a project. So I don't feel guilty about starting over. I do love the yarn and the color.

And among other things on my needle right now, I felt like casting on a sock:

Noro Silk Garden Lite Sock

It's NORO Silk Garden Lite, a DK-weight version of Silk Garden. I've got mixed feelings about it so far, but I love how quickly a DK-weight yarn becomes a sock!

May 08, 2008

Count to five

So I counted and I'm working on five things that I can't blog about till they're finished, and that means no in-progress photos or musings. However, you can still catch occasional random non-secret knitting photos on Flickr:

A peek

I started a shawl from Knitting Lace Triangles, by Evelyn Clark. The yarn is Mama Llama Silken Cash, which should be enough for a small shoulder shawl. I'm really enjoying the book and the straightforward approach to starting and knitting a triangular shawl. As is typical for me, I've started and re-started a few times and unless I can figure out where I lost two stitches, I'll probably frog again tomorrow (and the yarn is holding up well to all the frogging).

There are a few other things that are going to need my attention and some action. And it's possibly I'll have some non-vacation travel coming up. No escapism allowed, but the knitting does find its way into the spare moments here and there. I also make time to check in on blogs and websites to see what everybody's working on. There's absolutely no shortage of inspiration either:



Knit happy!

I have TWO magazines to give away to the first person who comments and expresses an interest. I will pay free Media Mail postage:

Interweave Knits Fall 2007 and Creative Knitting March 2008

Act fast!

(Comments will publish immediately so please just indicate your interest and I will email you for your address)