Saturday, December 10, 2016

I've just heard that AA Gill is dead. I mentioned him in an earlier post, not all that long ago, along with his cancer diagnosis. I don't think anybody expected the end quite so soon. He will be missed. A final column by him, about “Facing up to Cancer”,  is promised in tomorrow's Sunday Times. I can safely predict that it will be very good.

What else? I knit a swatch for Ross's hat. Weinstein says, engagingly, "Make a stockinette determine approximate gauge." I love that “approximate”. I knit it with two strands held together, as mentioned yesterday. The fabric is distinctly tight with the needle size I more-or-less randomly chose, and slightly uncomfortable to knit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad knit circularly, with no purl rounds. But I may try again tomorrow, up half a centimetre or whatever it is we're talking about, in needle size.  Weinstein wants a tightly-knit fabric, so maybe I’m better where I am.

Swatching is not too bad, once one gets started on it, if one can steel oneself to the fact that nothing will have been accomplished by the end of the day. The great thing is that one is in charge, making a judgment on the fabric rather than the other way around. If one finds oneself thinking, this isn't working -- well, throw it away. It's only a swatch.

Then I did a couple more scallops on the second-side edging of the shawl. Thank you for the algebra, Sara. I'll weigh the ball when I finish this second side and see what conclusions I can draw. The ball appears completely unaffected by all I have knit from it so far.

“Shetland Oo” came today, and is as good as expected. Tom’s photographs are magnificent. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Here are pictures of my sister in her Uncia, just to prove that everything is all right. It had been there for a couple of days, in fact (but not in time for the birthday). The card saying they had a package had been submerged by junk Christmas mail.

Today I wound a skein of Ross' yarn. It's not DK. It's pretty well exactly Shetland jumper weight, very soft. I fear swatching is going to be inevitable. I found the pattern in Weinstein's book (sometimes I can find things, sometimes I can't). He wants a watch cap to be tightly knit. I think I'm going to start by attempting a swatch with two strands of yarn held together.

One of the things I Do Not Do is deadline-orientated Christmas knitting. And here I am with two unknit hats and a fortnight to go. I won't be panicked. One or both hats won't be finished by the 25th. That's all right. The world will go on turning, and the light will come back anyway.

Indeed, having wound a skein, I went back to the shawl and have now finished half of the edging for the second side. I wish I had some idea what proportion of the whole the edging constitutes. It won't be negligible but I don't want to deceive myself by claiming too much for it. The birth of this child is a deadline I really don't want to miss.
The Uncia turned up in DC. Now my sister is struggling with the problem of how to wear it.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

It begins to look as if the Uncia may have been lost in the post, although we haven’t quite despaired.

I can't remember when I sent it, but I thought I was in plenty of time for my sister's birthday on the 3rd. And there have been several delivery-days since then. I feel quite calm -- I knit it, I wrapped it up, I wrote "Happy Birthday" on it, I addressed it, I got up to the Post Office and posted it. Job done. She's the one who unfortunately has to do without an Uncia.

But I hesitate to consign her husband's Whiskey Barrel socks to the Christmas mails, although their loss would be fairly trivial by comparison.

I got all the socks toe-grafted and finished today -- four pairs. There has also been a pair of Vampires of Venice which I gave Cathy at some point -- those five pairs are probably the whole story for '16, sock-wise. It'll be easier to keep track next year with my projected list in the side bar.

When I knit the first stripey hat, I was surprised to find that I didn't seem to have a 16" 4.5mm circular. Since that Christmas decades ago when I knit hats for everybody, I thought I had short circulars in every imaginable size. So for the first hat I knit the whole thing on the 4mm needle required for the initial rib. ("Knitting is forgiving stuff": EZ). But this time I mean to do it properly, so I sent an order to Meadow Yarns this morning.

And as for Ross' hat, Ravelry would seem to suggest that  Bruce Weinstein has the answer in "Knits Men Want" -- which I've got, and have, indeed, knit from. I haven't looked it up yet. For today, I went back to the shawl. I’ve now done slightly more than ¼ of the scallops for the second side.I love the way it's looking.

Carol, you were right -- I found Paton’s leaflet 893 while I was tidying things away after finishing off those socks. I'm trying to knit the shawl edging-inwards because that's the way I learned to do it from Amedro in her book "Shetland Lace". The yarn is Melanie Berg's Portland Lace in the shade Morning Rain, from the Yarn Collective. I am increasingly delighted with it. 

And I got the first Christmas cards written today. We're edging forward.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Pearl Harbor Day

Not much knitting, although I’ve finished  the toe shaping for the 2nd Kaffe Fassett sock. Tomorrow, tidying and toe-grafting all round. But there has also been a certain amount of knitterly event:

-- The package arrived from Deramores. So, whoever they are, they're really here. I must investigate the website(s) with care.

--A neighbour and dear friend came to call on my husband yesterday and mentioned that he had some yarn, no use to him, would I like it? I bravely said yes, expecting some vintage '50's Patons or Sirdar from his late granny's stash. Not a bit of it. I found on the doorstep this morning two beautiful skeins of a dusty blue, with a note explaining that they come from the now-defunct Brora Woollen Mill to which his father used to supply Cheviot wool from their farm. More or less DK, I think. I have put it in the freezer for the time being, just in case. Ross must have a hat.

It might be interesting to add another item to the sidebar next year (as well as the planned FO list) in which I list what the next three projects are going to be. There will be months and months when the list doesn't change, and times like these when excitement lies around every corner. Currently hat, hat, shawl. And you never know, Scotland might win the Calcutta Cup next year.

I wrote the rest of this before reading your second comment, Carol, and also Judith’s:

Carol. Yes, Paton's 893 is the shawl I'm knitting. Except that a recent oddity of life is that I put it carefully aside when I had mastered the edging pattern, which didn't take long, and now I can't find it. It must be here amidst the detritus in this room, not far from where I sit. Fortunately, I also have 1085 which is identical while including a second shawl. I would be worried about the disappearance of 893 except that I've got too much else to worry about.

For the pattern, Kate Davies says that members of the UK Knitting and Crochet Guild can access it. You could join? She says that she first saw it in the archives of the Shetland Museum. And what about Bishop Rutt's digitalised archives at -- I believe -- Southampton University? Is it in copyright? Could I scan it and send it to you? 

I never throw away a knitting pattern, especially one I have actually knit, but for many years I couldn't find that one. I sought it high and low, and eventually found it in a loose pile of patterns at the now-famous Christian Aid book sale here in Edinburgh in the spring. That was a very happy day. And now I can't remember why I have two. Or used to have.

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.