Monday, January 25, 2016
While Miz Kittling Knits: Foyle's War
It's been a month since I've shared my knitting and television watching with you, and I thought it was high time that I do it again. Now that I've become addicted to yarn and knitting needles (as well as books), I've found myself turning into a junior Miss Marple, knitting away in my comfy chair while watching mysteries on television. I may not particularly care for Agatha Christie's writing, but that woman knew her stuff. Knitting and deduction go hand in hand. Since I've started doing this, I've found that my mind is even sharper when it comes to nuances of dialogue.
Last time, I talked with you about watching the superb Hercule Poirot series starring David Suchet. The final offering was an interview with the actor, and I decided to watch it. Why? Because I wanted to know what the real David Suchet sounded like! The man has a wonderful speaking voice that's nothing like Poirot's.
I found that one of the best ways to learn new knitting stitches (besides looking for videos on YouTube) is to make cotton dishcloths. Dishcloths are small projects that work up quickly but give you plenty of time to increase your skills and confidence.
I've made a ton of dishcloths and learned many new stitches. The photo to the left shows you one still on the needles. It's made in 100% cotton yarn. I bought a huge skein of this years ago, and I thought I'd never use it all up. I finally did-- one large table mat, four coasters, and twelve dishcloths from that one skein! I tried to find it, but it's evidently an antique that is no longer available. Oh well. No details for you!
You also get to see one of the ways I recycle. That's a plastic trail mix container that I took the label off and washed. Denis drilled a hole in the lid for the yarn to come out of, but unless you can file the hole completely smooth, the yarn will snag and not pull properly. One of these containers holds a large ball of yarn, keeps it clean, and stops the ball from trying to roll all over the house as you're knitting. Plus, if you're knitting small projects, you can have one project per container.
These dishcloths are so useful in the kitchen! For quite a while Denis wouldn't touch them because they were "too nice," but when he saw how many I was making, he took the plunge, started using them, and has told me that he really likes them.
I've also made them in 100% mercerized cotton which is softer and has a sheen, and these make good facecloths.
Have I kept all the dishcloths I've made? Nope! As you can see to the right, I've bundled up some and given them as gifts-- including holiday red and green sets so friends could have something useful and Christmasy in their kitchens.
Now... what have I been watching on television while industriously stocking up on dishcloths? Foyle's War!
Foyle's War, starring Michael Kitchen and the superbly named Honeysuckle Weeks has been around since 2002, and I've known about it for quite some time. I'm ashamed to say that I avoided it for years. Why? Because I thought it was just about Cold War spying, and spy stuff usually leaves me cold. It wasn't until a fellow book blogger (Cath, who shares her journey through books on Read Warbler) talked about it on Facebook that I was persuaded to give it another look. How wrong can a person get?!?
Foyle's War is available on both Netflix and Acorn TV, and the first several seasons deal with how Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle does his bit during World War II. He keeps applying to do something for the war effort until he's told that a snowball has a better chance of succeeding. Instead, he's stuck solving crime in Hastings, a town on the southern coast of England, as he's been doing for years.
He doesn't like to drive, so young Samantha Stewart is borrowed from elsewhere so Foyle can have a driver. In the first few seasons, Foyle also has a son who's an RAF pilot, but to be honest, I'm glad when he no longer appeared on the series because it seemed as though no one really knew what to do with his character. Samantha is funny, smart, and brave. She also has trouble staying out of trouble and has been known to attempt to cheer a mopey Foyle by saying, "What you need is a jolly good murder!"
Of course, another reason why I like this series is its period detail. I get to indulge my love of old buildings and classic cars. But I've also learned something. I don't know why, but usually what little we Americans learn about life in England during World War II is the Blitz, shortages, everybody pitching in to win the war and keeping a stiff upper lip. Keep Calm and Carry On, right?
I don't know why it took Foyle's War to bring home the point that crime doesn't stop just because there's a war on; sometimes crime gets even worse-- even in do-your-bit England. So... Foyle is playing an important role in the war effort even though he doesn't think so. Many of the episodes highlight what the crooks were up to and the effect it could have on the fighting. I've found the entire series to be enjoyable and fascinating.
The series continues after the war has been won, and that's when it begins delving into murky spy waters. Foyle is a straight shooter and completely wrong for this business, but he finds himself deep in it because of Hilda Pierce (photo to the left). Yes, Hilda Pierce is a spy, and she's done all sorts of underhanded things in order to keep her country safe. She's still doing them, but there's a solid steel core of integrity in the woman, and she realizes that the spy business needs a few honest men like Foyle to keep them from going completely off the rails. Ellie Haddington, who portrays Hilda Pierce, really gives her character depth, and she's one of my favorites right up there with Foyle and Stewart.
Michael Kitchen-- whom I'd known only for his brief role in Out of Africa-- is wonderful in the role of Foyle. Foyle's sharp, observant, and very quiet. But when someone crosses the line, that quiet voice of his can give the person a dressing down that will leave the miscreant feeling flayed to the bone. And that's the very same intelligence, skills of observation, and quietness that Hilda Pierce has. It's interesting to see these two characters work together.
If you haven't seen Foyle's War, are you tempted now? And if you've seen it, what do you think of the series? Inquiring minds would love to compare notes!