Tuesday, December 06, 2016

I watched the second instalment of the Fair Isle documentary today. I had slightly the feeling that they were avoiding talking about knitting on purpose, and that they lingered too long on matters which could have been dispatched more briskly. Still well worth watching, and there is lots of good knitting to be glimpsed when they’re talking about something else.

The Financial Times had an excellent "Books of 2016" feature last weekend, absolutely chock-a-block with Boring Books for David's Christmas. The previous front-runner had been "Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War 1914-1918". But I discarded that idea, and also decided against "The Rise and Fall of American Growth", Princeton University Press, 784 pages, "the most important book on economics in many years", as perhaps too boring. I won't tell you any more just now.

There were lots in the FT, including that one, which I might have enjoyed reading while I still had the mental strength.

I'm whizzing on down the foot of the second Kaffe Fassett sock, eager to get back to the shawl. When Archie was gestating, i knit an Amedro lace-weight pattern, a departure for me at the time, and felt I was doing my bit, knitting the shawl while nature was knitting the baby. I would like -- absurdly -- to help in that way again. I think I should be able to finish the sock tomorrow. Grafting the toes of it and the others in the sidebar won't take all that long. Back to the shawl by Friday -- depending on Delamores.

I had a bit of difficulty when I finished the Kaffe Fassett yarn (always a moment of achievement, to finish a ball of yarn) and couldn't find the Madtosh Whiskey Barrel sock-weight which I had used to finish off the toe of the first sock. Searched in vain. Then I thought, it's probably in that Cairndow Childcare bag, on which each of the children has drawn a picture of himself or herself. Thomas’ self-portrait is there, the younger of the Little Boys. James must have moved on to primary school by that time. I often carried knitting in it, back and forth to the hospital. 

And sure enough, once I started looking for that bag instead of looking for the yarn, I found it almost at once, with the yarn inside. It was very gratifying to have solved a problem by thinking about it. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

I've finished the edging for the first side of the shawl. It measures about 42", stretched out on the carpet firmly but not excessively so. Blocked, it won't be far off the 47" the pattern hopes for. 

I wish I had some sense of what proportion of the finished shawl, the edging constitutes. I hate knitting to a deadline -- but that's what a baby amounts to. I'm sure I've got plenty of time,  but I worry a bit, here in the dark. Perhaps it's worth concentrating on the thought that it won't be born -- insh'Allah -- until not long before the summer solstice. 

But in any event, I have laid the shawl aside and am now finishing off that sock, with the intention of then grafting the toes of the others which languish in the sidebar. Then the second stripey hat -- if Deramores proves as good as its word. I should be knitting shawl again before Christmas.

Mary Lou, I had never heard of Deramores either -- but if they can supply you with British yarn, and me with American, without customs charges, it's a name worth remembering. 


Cat, I'm not organised. I'm just terrified.  I pretty well know when it's time-to-get-up these days, not by traffic sounds beyond the dark window, but by my mounting sense of panic as I struggle towards another day of consciousness.  I can't really imagine Christmas in midsummer -- but surely it can't be quite as scary. 

I went to visit a neighbour today, who lives directly above us, way, way up -- but her address is around the corner, actually on Scotland Street. We had a nice time talking about our local murder. She has been interviewed by the police three times, although her windows allow no view of the scene and she is far too old and arthritic to be much about in the street. Nobody interviewed us. We didn't see anything either. 

I failed to take the promised picture of my swift, but here is our local crime scene, at midday today. I asked the policewoman' s permission before I took it. It's not very interesting.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

A pretty good day. I have decided to proceed with the shawl edging until I finish the first side -- perhaps that will even be tomorrow. I've done 9 of the second 16 scallops. I'm terribly pleased with the yarn. What a good thing I read the mail in my Promotions folder that day!

You're right, Shandy, this edging is very like the one on the Houlland shawl in the Haps book, except for being simpler. I'm sorry to hear about your "ugly ridge". I learned what little I know about shawl-knitting from Amedro, who very much prefers edging-first. She has a simple and elegant picture in "Shetland Lace" showing a needle being slipped through that edge chain. I suppose nowadays it must be on YouTube. (Sharon Miller, on the other hand, I suspect of being a fan of centre-out.) 

Maybe the ridge isn't ugly?

I suspect Mrs Hunter of Unst (or James Norbury) of making this old Paton's pattern as easy as possible, while still looking fancy, for the benefit of us southerners. The pattern is written, remember, in 6 separate parts, to be sewn together. That's what I did in 1958. It's unlikely it was ever done like that on Unst. Now I'm trying to Amedro-ize the pattern and knit it in one piece, edging-in.

I plan, at least at the moment, to keep the borders in garter stitch by wrapping and turning. That will make a strong line at the relevant corner, but otherwise solves the problem. Purling -- no. I have knit a shawl using Fleegle's brilliant system, but I got a bit tangled up in it. I seem to remember that I got a bit tangled up in wrap-and-turn when I was knitting Hellie's wedding shawl -- "the ugly corner". But I have done it successfully in the past.

I'll take a picture of my swift for you in tomorrow's light. It stands in a corner and has had the same ball of yarn on it, half-wound, for quite a while.

I've heard from Deramores that my 2nd striped hat has been dispatched -- no grumble about the inadequate charge for postage, so it must be coming from within the UK. But the email claims to emanate from Deramores-US. If it does turn up, I think I'll try to dash it off in time for Christmas.

What hasn't turned up is my Knitzi. 


Gretchen (Stashdragon) I will happily tell you the winner and runners-up in David's Boring Book of 2016 race -- but of course can't do so until after Christmas. He knows he's getting a Boring Book. 

I took another forward step towards Christmas. I got the cards out, and decided we didn't have quite enough, and ordered more. (I get them from Aid to the Church in Need – efficient service, nice holy cards, very reasonably priced.) Next I must ensure that I have enough ink cartridges for my fountain pen, rarely used in the other eleven months. I have composed a round-robin to enclose, where appropriate – a form of composition I only adopted last year, although I hugely enjoy getting them. Maybe tomorrow I will even print an initial run, and write a few cards.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Today is my sister's 80th birthday, on which I wish her all happiness. But if you want to feel really old, try having a younger sister of 80.

My iPad has been updated and I find the results disconcerting.

But otherwise it's been a fairly good day. I've done half of a side of the new shawl -- 16 scallops. It measures about 21 inches. The original pattern says that the shawl will be 47 inches square. Blocking may well achieve that, or close enough. At any rate, it'll be better than handkerchief-sized. Here's a pic. I've done some more since it was taken in the brief daylight.

I am really rather pleased at how well it's looking. It could hardly be simpler, short of being a garter stitch strip. But what a pretty little lace it Is!

And I followed the link to the American Delameres site and ordered another hat kit. Thanks for that. They have acknowledged the order although they haven't charged me nearly enough for postage. The friend who wants me to knit it for her says that she tried, and they refused to mail to the UK. We shall see.

The new Knitter came today, with an interesting article about early knitting books. I've got a couple, but one really ought to rev oneself up and visit the digitised archives at the University of Southampton to which Bishop Rutt left his collection. 

The Techknitting blogsite has a great post on corrugated knitting. I tried it a couple of times and abandoned the idea because nobody had told me that it wasn't meant to pull in like real ribbing. I thought I was doing it wrong. I think it's time to try again. When Scotland win the Calcutta Cup and I knit that Fair Isle vest for Alexander, perhaps. Next year in Jerusalem-- not. (We're not going to win in an odd-numbered year, when the match is played in Twickenham.) 

Carolyn, that was an incredibly kind suggestion, about the ball-winder. But, as you suspected, I'd be happier without. I've got a swift, which I don't often use because it's perpendicular and I prefer to sit with the skein around my knees. I like getting acquainted with the yarn. It was just, the other day, that 100 grams of lace-weight involved an awful lot of winding. As I've already said, the pleasure of winding those mini-skeins is half the fun of the stripey hat. 

And I got at least slightly to grips with Christmas today, and feel the better for it. I'm not going to get all the way through the present list, let's face it, but some things are essential. We have an odd tradition -- no idea how it got started -- of giving Greek Helen's husband David a Boring Book for Christmas every year. I've chosen a good candidate, but will look a bit more widely before I order. Boring but worthy, is the idea, and he faithfully reads them.

Friday, December 02, 2016

I’m sorry about yesterday. This is as far as I got:

“The yarn arrived; it looks splendid. I am knitting the sock with ever greater speed.

And I've ordered the Shetland Oo book.

I think that next year -- meaning next month -- I'll add an FO box to the sidebar.

It's been a remarkably tiring day. I hope to be back tomorrow in better fettle.”

And here I am, in at least slightly better fettle. KD says that the fancy edition of the Oo book sold out yesterday, the day of publication, which leads one safely to assume that sales in general are good and likely to continue so. And that’s good news.

I decided, lying in bed this morning, to go ahead and wind a skein of the lace wool. And I have successfully done so, no knots, no tangles, but what a task. You wind and wind and wind and wind before you even get to the point where you begin to think, maybe we’re getting somewhere. And then you wind a lot more. But it’s done, and it should last me until February at least.

In the peaceful afternoon, I cast on the edging (of Mrs Hunter of Unst's shawl -- see KD's chapter in the Haps book) and have knit seven or eight scallops. The pattern is simplicity itself – one of those edgings where you don’t have to do the decrease rows, always somehow slower and more depressing. You just knit up to the summit and then bind off (in this case) 5 stitches and start again. I have no memory at all, in my fingers, of knitting it for Rachel before she was born -- although I did so. 

I think I need 32 scallops per edge, judging from the number of stitches to be picked up for the border. And so when I have 32 scallops, I will also have the means to make a rough-and-ready guess at the finished size. And by the same token, when I have 16 I’ll be able to make an even rougher estimate. I’ll go on tomorrow at least until I reach that point.

My one anxiety so far is that the yarn is so nice, it might be hard to persuade then to use the shawl. I'll try to get a picture over the weekend.

Here’s the hat picture. Isn't that nice? 

Roobeedoo, I couldn’t find the hat kit at Deramores, despite searching their website for “hat kit” and “striped hat kit”. Can you zero me in?

I’m not abandoning that sock. I need it for Christmas.


The evening carers tell me that we’ve had a murder around the corner on Scotland Street. (What will Alexander McCall Smith have to say about that?) I saw a satellite van at the corner when I went out to shop at midday and assumed it was looking for people without television licenses. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I've ordered Morning Rain -- Melanie Berg's lace weight yarn, mentioned yesterday. I agree, Beverly, that Sheepish looks awfully nice, too. But I am anxious that this should be a shawl-for-use, and was afraid that Sheepish might come out looking keep-for-best.

I tried to compare yardage and weight with J&S Shetland Supreme, and was stymied by the failure of the Loveknitting website to give the weight of Berg's skeins. A guess would have been right, but it's wiser not to rely on guesses at critical moments (general rule of life). I floundered for a while before I thought of Ravelry. The answer is that they are very similar -- 860 metres per 100 grams for Berg. 800 for J&S, I think, or thereabouts. That'll do. The baby is not going to take a tape measure to the result. So I ordered it.

A dear friend would like a stripey hat, and I am delighted to have an excuse to knit another. But Loop has sold out for the time being, which leaves me feeling slightly smug for having acted fast. Alas, I didn't get around to taking a picture in today's brief light. Tomorrow, I hope.

I've done the heel flap of the 2nd Kaffe Fassett sock, turned the heel, am making good progress with the gusset decreases. Loveknitting says that the lace yarn has been dispatched already -- a great incentive to press on fast. 


It's tough, but we're doing pretty well. The care package we have been waiting for, for so long, is excellent. My life is easier in some ways than it was before, now that I am not allowed to help my husband to move (although I have done it a few times, when someone else was here to help). I'm constrained, but so I was with daily hospital visiting. I'm not very strong, but can't think of any specific markers in the past year which might serve to measure my decline.. And maybe this is what being 83 is meant to feel like. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The hat is finished, without ever achieving a place in the sidebar.  I'll miss it. I'll take a picture tomorrow in the light. It was gratifying at the end to throw away all the odds and ends -- nothing left to augment the stash. Gratifying, too, to have dispatched an impulse buy so briskly. And to have another FO.

Now to finish off some socks. The current Kaffe Fassett pair is not quite as near the 2nd heel flap as I remembered; another dozen or so rounds to go.

I thought the programme about Fair Isle was very good indeed, with another to come next Monday. Not much about knitting, although it was mentioned. A good sense of the island community. I was surprised to hear that cruise ships manage to land there.

 I've seen Fair Isle, out of the airplane window. I booked my seat on the left-hand side on purpose. It was a wonderful moment. But not quite as wonderful as standing on the northernmost point of Unst, a couple of days later, and seeing the lighthouse at Muckle Flugga.

The new Knitting magazine tells me that Carol Feller has published the book about gradient yarns which she promised us during her class on the subject at the EYF earlier this year. And Marianne Isager's book of designs based on manhole covers is one I'd like to look through in a bookshop, if I had access to a bookshop. But I fear neither would make the cut when it comes to final-home, so it would probably be wiser not to buy them now. 

I'll be ordering Kate Davies' book about Shetland Oo, however, any moment now. I'll go for the paperback.

Wandering through the Promotions folder in my mailbox, I found an ad from the Yarn Collective pointing me to some very nice-looking lace weight from Melanie Berg.  I think her "Morning Rain" might be the very shade I'm looking for.

The trouble about knitting a striped shawl for the new baby, as several have interestingly suggested, is that it sends me back to the Hansel hap pattern. I love it. It was a joy to knit. I hope to knit it again (and again).  But just now, so soon after knitting it for Emmett, I feel I want to strike out into pastures (relatively) new for my own great-grandchild.

Many thanks for all your help about fudge. I will look up Hugh F-W, for a British slant on the question. It occurs to me that Alexander -- a serious cook, as I have mentioned before -- probably has a thermometer which will tell them when the mixture has reached 238 degrees Fahrenheit which = the soft ball stage, according to Mrs Rombauer. Then you cool it to 110, she stays, and start beating.