Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I must be brief – the new Fruity Knitting is up, right on schedule – and it’s Marie Wallin!

I sometimes wish I could reach through my computer screen and comfort Susan Crawford. I fear that she is shrinking from the completion of the Vintage Shetland Project because it’s going to be expensive and it's going to involve hard work. Indeed, we had a post complaining in advance about the hard work of sending out the books, way back there before the cancer diagnosis.

She will have had the crowdfunding two and a half years ago. Now she’s got to pay the printer, and then package up the books (and other rewards) and send them out to us all. It’s no wonder that she prefers to concentrate on simpler and more immediate tasks, as her strength returns. But I wish she’d face up to it and tell us what’s happening, even if it’s very bad news.

I’ve had a reasonably constructive day. I’ve finished 20 scallops, on the edging of the Amedro shawl for the prospective great-grandbaby. That’s the first side done. I should surely be able to finish the edging before Christmas. By then I should be near, or at, or beyond, the end of the first 25 gr of yarn, and better able to calculate the time needed for the whole.

If it weren’t for Fruity Knitting, I’d do a bit of Soutache before bed.


Barbara, I looked at Amazon for the “health walking seat”, as you suggested, and it sounds very good. But I can’t remember what it was exactly that I bought for my husband. It could even be that. The first thing to do is to see if Helen can find it when she goes to the country next weekend. There will still time to order another one.

The big non-knit news is that I’ve heard from the Duchess, and there seems to be every hope that she can scrape together enough clients from her b&b people for a cookery class in Palermo to include me and Archie during the first week of January.

How’s that for Degrees of Separation: 1) the Duchess, who is married to 2) the adopted son of 3) Tomasi di Lampedusa, who was the author of 4) Il Gattopardo, who was played in Visconti’s famous film by 5) Burt Lancaster.

Here’s another cat picture for you, taken this morning. Things are not quite as peaceful as this might suggest, but, on the other hand, they’re not too bad, either.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I’ve always been rather glad to be relieved of Thanksgiving – all that cooking, and all that family pressure. Although I enjoyed it, the one Thanksgiving in my married life (1960) that I spent in the USofA; and it does take some of the pressure off Christmas. I am horrified, however, to find that Black Friday has made its way across the sea, this year for the first time, as far as I am aware. Poof.

I remember the Queen’s wedding day, the 70th anniversary of which we are celebrating today. I would have been 13. We were able to listen to the tail end of it on the radio in NJ before I went to school. “The Duke of Edinburgh turns to his wife…” the commentator said, and I was quicker than my mother – devoted though she was to the Royal Family – to grasp what was being said.

I knit a few more scallops today, without incident, and will perhaps knock off a few more before going to bed. My guess is that this first 25 gr ball of yarn will last most or all of the way around.

I’ve finished reading “Jamieson & Smith: A Shetland Story” and would highly recommend. There are some pleasant Fair Isle patterns attached, too. I was surprised about several things I learned. For one, the change from “wool broking” to supplying yarn for knitting seems to have happened only in 1967.

I used often to shop at a place in Perth – I can’t remember what it was called, although I could lead you to its former site without difficulty – which claimed to have been the first to import coloured Shetland knitting wool to the mainland. They must have been doing it before 1967. I bought some choice 1930’s patterns there.

Jamieson & Smith’s is a story of survival, where others have fallen. The business was sold in 2005 to Curtis Wool Direct, I was horrified to learn. But that may be the price/cost of survival. Oliver Henry submitted the text of the book to a senior person there, who replied: “I found it very interesting, but would that apply to the wider textile world? Also, the writing is a bit ‘croftery’.” Oliver felt hurt, at first, but then decided that it was a fair judgement.


That’s a brilliant idea, Tamar (as ever, from you) (comment yesterday)  – that I should take a portable folding seat to Palermo, for moments of weakness. I bought my husband such an item, towards the end of his active exhibition-going life. He never used it, but I am pretty sure it can be easily found in Strathardle, where Helen is going next weekend. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A pretty good day. I’ve now done 11 scallops for the shawl edging – past halfway on the first side. I was beginning to encounter the dread where-am-I, what-did-I-just-do syndrome as I was knitting the 11th, so no more tonight. I'll watch some television and knit some Soutache when I've posted this. 

J&S has supplied me with an alarming-looking eight balls of yarn. I won’t really be able to estimate how long this is going to take until I finish the first. I don’t know when in April the baby is due, and don’t want to cut it too close anyway.

The new IK has arrived; there are some good yoke sweaters and some good cables therein. And an article on how to avoid Cable Flair which is a problem I don’t think I’ve ever been aware of before. And an interesting interview with June Hemmons Hiatt.

I’ve got the first edition of PoK, and almost never consult it. Perhaps I should. Back in the days of the dear old Knit List, someone offered to swap it for an early issue of the Rowan Magazine (No. 4, I think) – which I had. I had, indeed, knit a cabled sweater from it, and thought I could afford to let it go. I don’t need to buy the new edition of PoK, do I? How radical a change is it?

Today initiates a week in which there’ll be a new Fruity Knitting. We patrons got a delicious outtake this morning.

Poor Susan Crawford promised us, three weeks ago, an Update on the Expected Publication Date of the Vintage Shetland Project in 2-3 weeks’ time. It didn’t occur to me then, but it’s obvious now, that we’re sure to miss another Christmas – the third. Publication was going to be November, ’15, when we signed up for crowdfunding.


Someone named James is coming to measure the kitchen tomorrow. Exciting!

Helen’s husband David is here for the weekend – he’s still based in Thessaloniki. We all three walked down to the Stockbridge Market this morning and, as ever when I go there, spent more than we meant to. I was tottering a bit by the time we got home, and worried again about whether I am strong enough for Palermo. Archie will have to carry me about. But it was a cold day, and there is nowhere to sit down in the Market, and it was well past lunchtime by the time we got back.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. It must be a difficult moment in any bereavement.

Today was a good day – successful knitting, exciting rugby. Scotland came that close to beating the All Blacks.

I figured out what was going wrong with the shawl edging last night. Can I explain it?

In my (admittedly limited) experience of lace knitting, the knitting of a shawl edging begins at the inner, straight edge, whether you are knitting the edging onto an otherwise-finished shawl or, as in this case, knitting it first. The pattern stitches are done on that first, outward-headed row, and on all subsequent odd-numbered rows. Unless you’re doing a really fancy-schmancy lace with pattern stitches on both sides.

I assumed that that was the case here. I have, perforce, bought the kit from Jamieson & Smith, which includes charts. I am glad to have them. Amedro didn’t chart her designs. The new chart clearly shows the scallops to the left, as the work faces you for the first row.

But that's not right. By the time I had finally finished two pattern repeats, it was clear that the knitting started out at the scalloped edge.

Now that I have grasped that, all is going well. I’ve done eight scallops, 10% of the whole. The danger now is inattention due to the easy pattern. The answer will be (as so often in life) little-and-often.

It has left me wondering, how does the knitting know which side to put the scallops on? For the first eight rows, you are increasing; then, for the next eight, decreasing. The chart, as printed, looks curiously upside down. But why? The symbols are correct, and following the chart will produce the desired result, if not the expected one.

I did a bit more of the Soutache, too. I am tempted to knit the Blue Sky Fibers slouch hat again. It’s been cold here lately, and Greek Helen has been wearing the one I knit for her last year. It’s certainly attractive. It makes a good, if rather expensive, Christmas present. It’s ideal winter solstice knitting. It would be something straightforward and simple, on days when both the Soutache and the shawl seem too much of a challenge.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A distinctly better day.

The package came from Jamieson & Smith. The yarn for the shawl is fawn, as requested, and is more beautiful than I had expected. I also ordered their new book: “Jamison & Smith, a Shetland Story” which I have been reading with great interest. Oliver Henry wrote it. Some attractive “Fair Isle” patterns are included, but the story is the thing.

And I got my hoped-for place in Kate Davies’ “West Highland Way” club. Greek Helen is determined that I should have a proper kitchen, at last, here at the end of life, and she had made an appt for us to go up to John Lewis and talk about getting one fitted, for 10:30 this morning.

KD’s club went live at 10.

So there I was poised, fingers on keyboard, Helen here waiting to drive me up the hill. All went well until the actual moment when I clicked on PayPal – and then I lost the connection. I think the trouble was that Paradox, who had been trying to help, had put me into Flight Mode. Whatever – it took me a while to re-establish the connection, and then I couldn’t persuade the website to listen to me and it was time to go. So I went. I didn’t need the yarn anyway. I could join the club without it.

But when I got back, and went back to the website, I found that my order was still in my basket. I happily paid, and all is well.

Last night I reached a milestone with the Soutache: it was time to wind and join in the fourth gradient colour, and that has been done.  The fifth colour is the one which will form the mid-way point of the scarf.

But for today’s knitting, I cast on the newly-arrived yarn and started the edging. I have had a terrible time. Like Miss Rachel’s Yoke, it’s too easy. The first time, I found that I was confused as to which end of the row I should be knitting from. (That is, had I left out a plain-vanilla even-numbered row?) The second time, I was interrupted at a vital point and found myself unsure whether I was nearly finished with the first repeat, or just starting on the second. The third time, everything was going swimmingly, I thought – but what I expected to be the final row, was two stitches short.

At the moment, starting yet again, I am half way through the first repeat and unaware of any error.

Here is another cat picture, Perdita this time:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It hasn’t been a wildly productive day. I have done no knitting at all, but intend to hunker down with the final episode of Victoria before going to bed. That should move things forward.

The mail was a real disappointment. There was a big, squishy package just right to be my yarn – but it wasn’t. It’s something from Greece for Greek Helen. There were two interesting-looking envelopes: they tuned out to be for the next-door neighbours.

For many years now, I have kept a file of clippings about the Most Expensive Picture Ever Sold at Auction. There have been years when I seemed to have added to it every few months. But of late, the supply has dwindled away. So I was very keen to have today’s addition. I bought two newspapers, and neither of them have the story.

Perhaps tomorrow. This will surely be my last clipping. It will be a good while before anything can eclipse Leonardo. It looks like a fairly dreadful picture. I don’t know what I’d do with $450 million, but it wouldn’t be that.

One thing I did today was watch Notting Hill on my iPad, thanks to Netflix. It really is very classy schmaltz. I must have told you repeatedly that James used to live on the same stair as Hugh Grant, when they were both students, and once loaned him a frying pan. That frying pan is our family’s claim to fame.

Here’s another dead-cat picture for you.

I was interested in your comment about religion and presidents, pgnitter. It would indeed make an interesting newspaper article. Times change, and we change with them, but we don’t always notice.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All well here, and the Soutache has progressed slightly. The stitch count continues sound. I wonder what I was doing wrong. I may yet find out.

Dear Carol, thank you (link in comment yesterday). That’s “my” duchess all right. Goodness, I hope I get to meet her. In our exchanges she mentioned that she lived for a while in Glasgow. Her written English is certainly faultless.

Knitting news is all on-the-brink, nothing actual. The package from Jamieson & Smith should be here soon, I’m hoping for tomorrow. Will the yarn be “fawn” or will I have a tedious return on my hands? And on Friday, I can sign up for Kate Davies’ new club.

Brooklyn Tweed has a holiday brochure up, and unlike all the other examples I know of that genre, it includes two (rather delectable) sweaters, as well as the expected – and also delectable – hats and cowls and scarves. I don’t think there are any mitts.


I’ve gone on watching “The Crown”. Your fault, Mary Lou. Today it was 1954, and the destruction – that certainly happened – of the Graham Sutherland portrait of Churchill, considerably to the old man’s discredit. I hope the sketches survive. Two remarks:

1)    They can’t include everything, obviously. But you’d never suspect, from what is shown, that Churchill went to Washington to see Eisenhower in the summer of 1954. I was young then, and world events get remembered as they entangle themselves with one’s own life. I had a summer job at Life Magazine, cutting up the day’s newspapers and filing them. American presidents were expected to turn out for church every Sunday – are they still? – and there was always a paragraph or so on the subject on Monday. I was impressed to learn that Churchill gave instructions to be called in time for lunch.

2)    A few years ago, Alexander saw a Sutherland in the window of a charity shop, tagged at £10. He went in and tried to buy it, but the man behind the counter had another look and withdrew it from sale. I don’t think, strictly, that you’re allowed to do that. Alexander didn’t really like the picture all that much – he was just hoping for a quick buck.