Friday, December 15, 2017

On we go. Perhaps I might write a few more Christmas cards tonight, before it becomes altogether too late. I’ve done some Italian homework, for once. I have wrapped up a regalino to give my teacher tomorrow. I’ve knit onwards, with the shawl.

The border lace is embarrassingly easy, and constantly interrupted by the long, wrong-side rows where nothing happens at all. I’ve done the first decrease row so there are eight fewer stitches than before. But since the decreases, at this stage, happen only once every six rows, it’ll be a long time before they add up to anything appreciable.

Nevertheless, as I expected, the shawl beckons hypnotically at this stage. And I even begin, rather prematurely, to look forward to the next WIP. Nancy’s Vest is high on the Possibles list. I bought the yarn, Blacker’s Samite Silk-Blend, at the EYF this year, some may remember. That’s the one that changed from an interesting dark red to a dull brown in my hands before the ink was dry on the check. It’s still a good pattern.

And, of course, the Calcutta Cup will be contested here in Edinburgh (meaning, we have a chance) at the end of February. That could lead to Alexander’s Fair Isle vest. Or I could knit him a non-Calcutta-Cup Fair Isle vest. Ketki admires the swatch-scarf. Maybe I could metamorphose it into a cowl.

Anyway, there are things to think about.


The new season of The Crown is up on Netflix. I suspect it is going to be rather tedious, but I’ll watch for a while. Someone has actually published a book about things they get wrong. Here is my contribution.

There is in Italy – at least in southern Italy – a beautiful gesture which I have experienced once. You offer your hand to a man for shaking. Instead, he lifts it slightly, and inclines his head, in a gesture which says, “I kiss your hand”.

New ambassadors and new Prime Ministers go to see the Queen for a ceremony described in the Court Circular as the Kissing of Hands. I can’t prove it, of course, and we’ll never know, but I feel sure that what actually happens is on the Italian model. But in The Crown, it is represented as an actual, embarrassing, smack of lips on royal knuckles.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Another day with a good deal less achievement than I would have liked. No more cards written. More on-line banking which always frets me and gets us nowhere.

The shawl, however, has progressed somewhat. Mary Lou, it’s not quite as bad as that. There are 160 stitches per border now, but by the time we get to the centre it will be only 85. The main reason I so like what I think of as the Amedro System – edging-inwards – is the delicious illusion as one progresses that the knitting is going faster and faster.

Then back and forth on those 85 stitches of one border, taking in one stitch from each of the adjacent borders on every row: that must be 170 rows. Then graft the edge of the finished centre to the stitches of the fourth border.

And, since that’s the way I’m doing it, sew up one corner.

At least it doesn’t have to be finished by Christmas.

At the moment, the only problem is the tedium of the long, long wrong-side rows. The simple lace pattern happens only every other row – and the decreases haven’t even started yet.


There’s an occasional thread in the Fruity Knitting group on Ravelry where we suggest people we would love to see interviewed. (Kate Davies! Franklin!) Recently someone asked for a Japanese designer – no one specific -- and I lept in to suggest Gayle Roehm, who translated and introduces the new Japanese Stitch Dictionary. Andrea herself has responded to say that Gayle has already been interviewed.

I’ve already watched every single episode of Fruity Knitting. I’ll go back and have another look at that one. It’ll help to keep me going over these tedious holiday weeks.


Kristen – absolutely! – andarsene. That’s an infinitive meaning something like “to be off”. Whatever languages you know or don’t. you’ll sympathize when I tell you that “I’m off” is “me ne vado”. The “ne” is still there, unchanged in form but in a different place; everything else has altered. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It has been another fairly unproductive day.

I had a tedious, business-y thing to do, involving the scanning of bank statements. I’ve done it. But that leaves quite a lot of other things undone.

I’ve found the J&S version of the shawl pattern – but have lost my invaluable Italian grammar book. I've reached the bit which any student of Italian will remember, when pronouns and untranslatable "particles" begin to attach themselves to the end of verbs, and then hive off and take their places in the sentence, the pronouns changing, the particles not. Slightly like nuclear physics.

Knitting has progressed well. I have done the first two – plain – rows of the shawl border, counting and counting; and am now establishing the pattern, still counting away. Once that’s done, it should look after itself.

And I was wrong: Mrs Hunter of Unst’s shawl, knit for the previous great-grandchild, has 185 stitches in each border at the beginning. This one has only 160. Should be a doddle.

Knitting the borders back and forth has the very considerable advantage of sparing me the agony of joining all that great length of edging together without twisting it. There was once, long, long ago when I did twist it, despite all my care and caution. I’m afraid I took my scissors to the corner that time.

You’ll have heard that Patreon has backed down, and is not going to impose a surcharge on patrons’ donations after all. Knitty says that their income is down $1000 (per month?) anyway.

And Susan Crawford says that the Vintage Shetland Project will be with us soon. “Eight years ago, when we started work on the Project, we had no idea what we would encounter along the way, but the obstacles we faced have only made the book stronger and better than we ever could have imagined.

One of those “obstacles” was the fact that crowdfunding produced more money than asked for or expected, so publication was postponed for the first of many times, to allow her to go back to Shetland for more research. It could have been more tactfully expressed.

Tomorrow I mean to start early and Get Things Done.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A good day, but not entirely a productive one.

I went for a walk this morning along the Water of Leith with a dear friend who is determined to get me into shape for Palermo. I’m sure it did some good.

But when I sat down at the computer, not all that long ago, it fired up all right and then made a little pfffft noise rather like an expiring light bulb, and expired. I went back to the old computer, and even managed to write a couple of paragraphs for you, but couldn’t figure out how to upload them (although I must have been on-line, in some sense).

Then I came back in here and found a loose connection and tightened it, and all is – it would seem – well.

I find I can’t even remember how to connect a computer to the Internet. It just connects, by itself. But goodness! how important that connection is for one’s mental well-being.

Anyway – I think all that distress is excuse enough for not having got much of anything done today.

Knitting has advanced. I’ve picked up the stitches from the flat edge of the lace, and am beginning to knit inwards. The numbers aren’t perfect yet, but nearly. It has been much more of an effort than I remember from Mrs Hunter’s shawl for the last great-granddaughter, not all that long ago. Was that one substantially smaller? I’ll look tomorrow.

The Japanese Stitch Dictionary is here, and is as wonderful as expected. There seem to be a couple more promising-sounding Japanese-derived books promised for next year. This one has more bobbles than I entirely like, but is otherwise entrancing. The only thing to do is to swatch.

Utterly non-knit

Archie came for supper last night, and I asked him about this business of trigger warnings, or whatever they’re called, when Unsuitable Material is about to be discussed in class. I had heard on the radio in the night that Ovid’s Metamorphoses had been so flagged somewhere.

I thought of that delicious passage in Metamorphoses I where Apollo is pursuing Daphne along the Peneus River. Clearly, harassment. The ground is rough, and he is worried that she will trip and fall. He calls out, begging her to run more slowly, and promising that he will, too.

Archie knew the story, but didn’t know that it happened at the very spot, in the Vale of Tempe, where we used to stop on the journey from Thessaloniki to their house on Mount Pelion, to eat delicious barbecued corn cobs and walk for a while beside the river. The path is much smoother these days. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

All well, but not a stitch of knitting has been done.  I’m ready to pick up the stitches for the borders of the baby shawl. I still can’t find the pattern – most peculiar. The advantage of the new one is that everything is charted. But I’ve knit my way through a lot of Amedro in my time, doing it her way without charts, and I’m sure I can do it again.

Archie came to supper, and seems very well.

And I got another five Christmas cards written. And various e-mail-y business attended to. The more I do of that, the more there seems to be.

It’s very cold, and in lots of other places – but not here – there’s enough snow to interfere with movement. Will we get to Palermo? Archie says, of course we will.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

As days go, not too bad, not too good.

Archie is coming to supper tomorrow, straight off the train from his university. I have made him a stew in my slow cooker – stews are always better the next day. It’s fairly tasty, but still needs to be decanted and the cooker washed. It’s cast iron, and can’t be neglected overnight like everything else.

And I got a few more Christmas cards done – including ruining one of my well-printed round-robin letters by writing a bold “Dear L. and…” at the top before noticing, in my address book, that L. died a year ago. I’m afraid that’s a fatal error – another sheet of waste paper.

I have tried to concentrate my mind, and extract the names of people from the Christmas card lists of past years – I’ve got all the lists, back until 1994 – who might not have heard of my husband’s death, and who need to hear from me anyway. About a dozen, beyond those done already. I’ll do them in the next couple of days.

No knitting yet today, but last night I got within a scallop or two of the end of the lace edging for the new shawl. If I have the strength to carry on for a while tonight, I could finish it, and even start picking up stitches from the straight edge.

At the moment – I’m sure it’ll turn up – I can’t find the new version of the pattern, which J&S sent me with the yarn. In the old version (and, I think, in the new) Amedro unashamedly does the borders in st st – that is, round and round with every round knit – and the edging and centre in garter. I must, therefore, have done it that way for Archie, 21 years ago. Nobody complained.

For Mrs Hunter’s shawl, last winter, I’m pretty sure I left one corner open, and knit the borders back and forth, thus achieving garter stitch throughout. I could search the blog if I set myself to it. I think that’s what I’ll do this time, anyway.


I happened to see your comment on Mason-Dixon Knitting, Mary Lou, and was very happy to find in you a fellow-fan of the recipe for Toll House cookies on the back of the Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Morsels packet. And, in answer to your question, I think “The dog ate my homework” is as well-known in GB as in the USofA. I’m not sure whether that extends to Italy, but my tutor seemed to understand.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

All well here. The Italian lesson – il cane ha mangiato i miei compiti – always leaves me exhausted, but I got a bit of kitchen-cleaning done, and some cooking, and a few Christmas cards written. Well, three. And December won’t be in double figures until tomorrow.

This is my tutor’s first winter in the north. She came to Edinburgh in May (and found it chilly). Like Greek Helen, she is now finding the darkness a bit much. Whereas now that I have grasped how much darkness affects me, I’m doing better.

So far today, no knitting. I should be able to knock off a few more scallops on that lace edging before bed.

There’s a great flutter in the doocot because Patreon has imposed a surcharge on patrons. I didn’t entirely understand the message when I got it at first, but since then I have had agitated messages from both Knitty and Fruity Knitting (my two sponsorships). Apparently I am to pay a bit more – they will get the same – Patreon pockets the difference. I think that’s it.

I’ll hang on. A significant number of Knitty patrons, at least, have dropped out. It’s a shame.