Monday, May 30, 2016

Perhaps I got a little bit more than usual done yesterday; perhaps not. I don’t feel that I feel as strong as I ought to feel.

One of our carers left recently on maternity leave. We heard today that she has a little girl, very much the desired sex. I tidied up the Milo Bambino – we’d nearly forgotten about that one – and applied a bit of judicious steam iron in lieu of blocking, and packaged it up nicely for her. Another FO! 

Today’s teaser-hap is another stunner, by the Icelandic designer Helene Magnusson. I restrained myself with some difficulty from ordering the yarn kit immediately.

It is not, by the way, for these bursts of girlish enthusiasm that KD wants to thank me – but I’m glad to hear that they have inspired some to order the book. I sent her my obituary of Gladys Amedro from the Scotsman, and responded when she put out that appeal for people who had knit the famous Paton’s leaflet by “Mrs Hunter of Unst” in the ‘50’s.


Thank you for all of them. You can be sure that I’ll tell you all about the book launch. We are about to face a sad gap between the revelation of the final teaser-haps and the release of the actual book, a 10-day desert. Fuguestateknits, I am sure this book is, as you say, a classic and a keeper.

I am greatly looking forward to KD’s chapter on the traditional construction of haps. I was rather alarmed when she said that there was more purling than might have been expected in her own contribution, the Moder Dy. If I knit it, as is quite likely, there will be less. I might wrap and turn at a corner – as I did for the edging of the Dunfallandy blankie, and nobody has complained yet. Or I might try to master Fleegle’s technique for garter-stitch-in-the-round using two balls of wool.

KnitWit, I was worried by your comment a couple of days ago, fearing that you wouldn’t have the courage to knit Gudrun Johnston’s Hansel pattern. I’ve bought it; it’s safely there in my Ravelry library. I have read through it hastily: it’s not difficult if you don’t mind purling, and I’m sure you’d have fun. I have the hap-piest of memories of my first hap, the one in Madeline Weston’s Traditional Sweater Book. Her method is rather unusual – borders-inward, half of the shawl at a time, so that at the end you have two corner seams to sew. But no purling. Like Gudrun’s pattern, it’s done in Shetland jumper-weight which makes it a pretty quick project.

Tomorrow is the big day when I’m going off to Strathardle for an overnight stay. I’ll be back here on Thursday, insh’Allah.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I’m sorry about yesterday's silence. The confusion of having-people-about throws me into a real old-woman tizzy these days.

But WHAT excitement – the launch of the Haps book right around the corner, a few steps beyond the Hussains’ invaluable corner shop, closer than the butcher or the fishmonger! It could hardly be more convenient unless they had decided to have it in our own sitting room – and that might have been awkward. Of course I will be there! Kathy’s Knits is a good choice, because she sells exclusively British wools, and because KD used to live around here. But still a most unexpected blessing.

Yesterday's teaser-hap was a spectacular "fancy" from Lucy Hague (who will be at the opening), and today's is a cosy shoulder-wrap from Hazel Tindall herself. 

KD has written to me saying that she is going to give me a copy of the book because I “helped” – quod absurdum est. Or if I did, I have already been more than repaid in pleasurable anticipation. In either case, now she doesn’t have to send one. She can either give it to me that day, or I will more than hap-pily  buy one and have it signed by her and Jen and Gudrun and Lucy. I’ve taken Gudrun’s Craftsy class on hap-knitting and am rather afraid of her.

Other knitting news is good, too. I’ve finished and blocked the Neap Tide shawl. At first, I thought I could just pat it into position, but then I found that it lacked two or three inches in width – and anyway, no lace edging ever knit has failed to be improved by being pinned out. So I’ve done that, and am very pleased indeed with the result. It is very close to the dimensions on the schematic.

I took two pictures but can only download one.

Perdita likes to help with blocking, but she also likes to pull the pins out and bat them about. I fear she might swallow one, and have to exclude her from the room. She is determined to get back in, and she is a good deal more nimble than I am.

I’ve enjoyed every moment of the process, and am delighted with the result, and also have an extra twinge of pleasure at having actually finished something I bought at the LYF market that happy but extravagant morning.

I knit a couple more rows on the half-brioche sweater last night, and am ready to begin the patterning on the front. And it is now time to face up to the Sous Sous, of course, as well.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Today’s hap is a small one, lacy all over, a “fancy hap” according to KD. Not as startlingly wonderful as some of the others, but wonderful nonetheless.

Patience, Karen (comments yesterday) and I have now heard from Susan Crawford, so all is at least reasonably well. Her second fortnightly report is about the difficulties of reconstructing the pattern – in a range of sizes -- for a particularly difficult and beautiful ‘50’s cardigan. She has produced a range of wool in colours to match the antique ones. One of the photographs in the new report shows the modern sweater, knit in the new Susan Crawford yarns, and as far as one can judge from a computer screen, the match is pretty well perfect. This is going to be good when it all comes together.

The Neap Tide shawl is all but finished. A few more rows, tidying, blocking. Today should do it, except that Greek Helen and her family are about to arrive and excitement may overwhelm me. As I said yesterday, I’ll miss it.

Thank you for your thoughts about e-books. I very much like the idea of, in future, buying any book that sounds like a book-of-patterns for the Kindle app on my iPad, and printing out any patterns that I actually want to knit. I can’t, at a glance, see how to do that, but I’ve just Google’d the question and there seem to be answers. I probably won’t want to knit any of them anyway. I’ll be too busy knitting haps.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today’s teaser-hap is by Gudrun Johnston, and it’s another good one. I’m clearly going to have to spend the rest of my life knitting haps. I clicked on everything in sight in Jen’s blog entry introducing today’s shawl, and I particularly like, for its colours and simplicity, Gudrun’s “Hansel”. I’d better put that one in the Queue before it gets away. I may even turn out to prefer it to KD’s own hap-book hap, Moder Dy.

I’m going to be rather sorry when the haps book is finally published, and this delicious interval ends – waking up in the morning and spending the first hour and a half of the day in a state of happy anticipation of the forthcoming hap. With the near-certainty that it won’t disappoint.

Poor Susan Crawford! On May 10th, she wrote a message which she said was the first of a series of fortnightly reports about the progress of her book. That was 16 days ago. Never mind the book, I am now somewhat worried about the woman, if even a promise to update us once a fortnight is too much for her to keep.

I have sped on with the Neap Tide shawl. The part is finished, where I decrease a bit more slowly during two repeats of the edging pattern. Now it’s all systems go for the end, and I suddenly realise that I won’t have it to knit for much longer. I’m going to miss it. I’ve got the half-brioche sweater to steady myself by, as I face up to the Sous Sous again.


Wooleidi, I don’t think electronic will do it for me, with knitting books, although I haven’t really tried. I have bought a couple of cookery books that way, and it didn’t work. But I do think I can prune my absurdly large stash of knitting books quite a bit, when the time comes, by adhering to the principle of taking reference books along with me, and leaving books of patterns behind.

But even that won’t entirely work – I’ve got Madeline Weston’s “Traditional Sweater Book” here on the table beside me, and Rae Compton’s “Complete Book of Traditional Knitting”. The former because it contains the pattern of the first hap I ever knit, the latter because Susan Crawford referred to it in her first (and so far, only) fortnightly message. Both are essentially books of patterns, especially so Weston; both I would want with me for the final move.

And what about my few 19th century knitting books? Unlike Franklin, I don’t think I’m ever going to knit from them – but could I leave them behind? This is going to be very difficult.

Sue, (comment yesterday), whatever is speeding towards you from Susan Crawford, it couldn’t possibly be the Vintage Shetland book. Publication is now scheduled for August 15. Let us know!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today’s teaser-hap is another “Oh, wow!” Maybe we’re going to have to knit our ways through this book after all. It’s by Kate's co-editor, Jen Arnall-Culliford. It looks as if it might involve a daunting amount of k1,p1 rib for the sake of making it reversible, but that should be trivial for one such as I who has (almost) knit the Sous Sous of solid double moss stitch.

Kate Davies’ blog and wonderful photographs warmed me towards the Veera Valimaki hap yesterday. It’s done with madtosh yarns, which of course I love. What fun it would be to choose two for that particular combination!

One of the particularly delightful things about all this, is looking forward to the half of the book we’re not hearing about just now, Kate’s research into Shetland hap shawls. She is a trained academic, a university lecturer until her stroke early in 2010. If by any chance you don’t know about it, read this and then read this.

And now, look at her: designer, stylist, businesswoman, and I can’t think of a noun to cover the creation of Buachaille – not a matter of some pretty colours and her name tag on somebody else’s base, but a whole new yarn which she has engineered from sheep to mill to dye pot. Famous, and loved, in a wholly different world. There are clich├ęs to hand, about ill winds, and doors opening as others close, but they all seem inadequate to this extraordinary situation. I was surprised, looking out the links above, to be reminded how very recently it all started.

I gave a little more thought to the idea of plucking out from my shelves the books I have actually knit from. Not so easy. I must have all of EZ, to begin with, whether I have actually knit anything from a particular book or not. And much of Kaffe, similarly.

It might be more useful to think of assembling the little collection which must go with me to the nursing home when my time comes. For reading matter, I can rely on the iPad – I think I can trust our children and our finances to ensure a nursing home with wi-fi. But for knitting books, one needs paper. And there may not be much shelf space there. Mary Thomas, EZ, Kaffe, Barbara Walker, Sharon Miller, KD, Eichenseer-Grill-Kron for Bavarian twisted stitch… they may have to find room for another bookcase, after all.

There’s a strong bias towards reference books in that little list.  Even in one’s terminal nursing home, one can download individual patterns from hither and yon as required. It may be a useful brake to apply to book-buying henceforth: will I want this one with me in the nursing home? Haps, certainly.

Meanwhile, the Neap Tide shawl progresses very nicely. A couple more days should see it done. I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, and counted stitches. I seemed to have two too few. That was easily adjusted by omitting two decreases. I found it alarmingly difficult to work out what to do, however. Too few? Too many? Skip a decrease? Put in an extra one? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I had an excited email from Greek Helen yesterday – she said she follows Kate Davies on Instagram and had just seen Tom of Holland’s hap. “Oh wow”, was Helen’s comment – and that, presumably, without being fully aware of its hexagonal wonderfulness, or of the equivalent wonderfulness of Buachaille. I had better add it to my Queue.

Today’s teaser-hap is by Veera Valimaki. I know the name – VK? although I’m sure I’ve never knit anything by her, nor can I associate a pattern with the name. Her hap is another good one, but it doesn’t quite suggest delicious snuggling like the preceding ones.

What a brilliant launch this is proving to be – at presumably little or no cost. Poor Susan Crawford!

I awfully like your idea, Melfina, (comment yesterday) of trying to knit at least one thing from every book on one’s shelves, and one from every year’s-worth of a magazine. I’m too old to embark on such a project, but it might still be interesting to rearrange the books to put all the ones I’ve knit from together. There’s a great appeal in trying to structure one’s knitting.

I like the idea of a KAL, too, although I’ve never done one. There is talk of an informal one to start soon, involving Sharon Miller’s new pattern, the Jewel Long Shawl. We’ll see.

Little to report. I advanced the Neap Tide shawl somewhat, but not much: it was an interrupted and uncomfortable day, yesterday. But I’ve eliminated nearly 40 stitches and am whizzing forward, at least intermittently. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

I wake these days in a state of great excitement, and as soon as I have put on enough clothes to be able to open the door to the early-morning carer without embarrassment, I go on-line to see today’s teaser-hap. I had a whole hour’s wait this morning – but was rewarded by Tom of Holland.  

It’s an interesting thought, Amy, to knit right through all the patterns in a particular book. Like you, I would never do it. But this is clearly a case when the idea is at least remotely thinkable, and it will be fun to watch Ravelry and see whether such a group forms. What a wonderful pile of haps would result, after a couple of years.

I’m pretty sure that the book I have knit the most from, surely more than half, is Amedro’s “Shetland Lace”. But I wouldn’t want to commit myself to doing the rest.

Heart-warming story

Ten days ago, one of the very best of the private carers we have daily, James Lawrie by name, told us that he had a client of 106, Ben, a bit tottery and more than a bit hard of hearing, but still able to distinguish a hawk from a handsaw, and a passionate Hibs fan. James had conceived the idea of taking Ben to the Scottish Cup final.

He had a friend who would provide a limo to take Ben to Hampden Park in Glasgow. But he needed tickets. You would have thought the football club would jump at the chance – Ben is obviously one of the oldest people in Britain, and I would be willing to venture a modest bet that he is the oldest to be living independently.

But James was having no luck. He went to the club and showed his ID as a Bluebird Carer and explained his mission, and they said he would have to send the request by email. He did that, and did it again, and had no reply.

So at that point, when we last saw him, James thought the best he would be able to do would be to get Ben to the Hibs clubhouse on Saturday to watch the match there.

But now it turns out that wiser counsels prevailed, somehow or other. Cinderella went to the ball. James will be here again on Friday – they send us a weekly schedule of who is coming on which day – and I expect to hear all about it.

Ben was not even born the last time Hibs won the Scottish FA Cup.

Back to knitting

Here’s the latest state of the Neap Tide, in two pictures because I couldn’t figure out how to get it in one. The decreases are definitely beginning to tell, and I am speeding on towards the finish: