Friday, December 31, 2004

Ketki and Jamie Posted by Hello
Koigu! Posted by Hello

Thinking Ahead

Above you see some of the Koigu yarn which Janis has just sent me from the US. I am overwhelmed by her kindness.

Also above you see my daughter-in-law Ketki, on Christmas day, holding her older son James who is wearing the striped Koigu sweater I designed for him. That's the one the pattern for which is on my website, www.jeanmile.demon.co.uk, in Jamie's size only.

(That is not just a quizical expressing on Jamie's face. He was born with something called Goldenhar Syndrome. My son forbade me to look it up on the internet, and I have obeyed. Jamie's right ear is essentially missing, and the right side of his face is twisted. He will have his face corrected when he is six or seven. His parents have decided to leave the ear for him to decide about later -- doctors could either stick on a plastic one, or construct a flesh and blood one from other parts of Jamie. Meanwhile his abundant subcontinental hair does a good job of concealment.)

Our daughter Rachel, Jamie's aunt, admired his sweater, and wants one for herself -- so that's what I'm going to do. I got in touch with my friend Mary Hughes-Thompson at Foxyknits ("The Koigu Connection") yesterday to get some more of the black yarn. It's not dead black. It's sort of flecked with grey, as it might be a raven-haired beauty beginning to be touched by age.

And the nice thing about having done so much Koigu knitting in the last year, is that I know my gauge and how it will behave, so it should be easy to construct the sweater. Traditional knitting must be like this. You knit a few Fair Isle-type sweaters in Shetland jumper weight, or a few ski sweaters in a standard Norwegian yarn, and you then know how things work, and can improvise if you want to.

I'll check Mary H-T's website address for tomorrow -- I'm afraid to navigate away from here now for fear of losing my prose. Meanwhile Google will find her.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Rachel's socks Posted by Hello

Back in Edinburgh

...with much to say and show, and no time, due to the necessity of cleaning up and getting in some food before the New Year descends. Scotland still takes it pretty seriously. I wrote to Janis about that yesterday, and she asked what the seriousness consists of. I feel a whole essay looming on that subject. Very soon...

Someone wrote anonymously about my post from London about the tsunami, saying that some things were beyond words. I'm not entirely sure, here. There was a general holiday lightness of tone on the Knitlist on Sunday and Monday, combined with not the slightest hint that anyone had ever heard of the Indian Ocean, which upset me. Things are different now. People are writing about various fund-raising efforts.

And I was wrong about the worst-natural-disaster. The Tianjin earthquake in China in1976 killed a quarter of a million people. That was just the other day. I've never even heard of it.

Our son James and his family, who live in Beijing, spent Christmas last year in Thailand. Their seven-year-old was considerably disappointed when she grasped that they weren't going to Toyland. We all speak to each other on the phone on Christmas day. Last Saturday, I even said to James, Where are you? Have you gone to Thailand again? No, we're in Beijing. It was a considerable comfort to know that, over the following hours. I wrote to him yesterday to ask where, exactly, in Thailand they had been.

Knitting: I finished Rachel's socks on the train coming home yesterday and started a pair for grandson Thomas. I've now got two grandsons Thomas, as that is the new baby's name. These socks are for the big one, though.

Monday, December 27, 2004

From London

The tidal waves in the Indian Ocean 30 hours ago must be a strong candidate for the title of the worst natural disaster in recorded history. Certainly if the number of people dead and ruined is to be the criterion. The eruption of Vesuvius in the first century AD destroyed more interesting places and things, probably. I am duty Listmom on the Knitlist this week, and am horrified that this event has caused not the tiniest ripple there, they who are always so prompt to knit afghans for hurricane victims in Florida and send needles and yarn to those who have lost all. Not that there's much to be accomplished by knitting, in this case. But someone could at least express awed helplessness.

We're having a nice time, and had a great Christmas. My son and his family came to Christmas dinner dressed every one in my knitting (just as I want everyone to do at my funeral) -- the new baby, now named Thomas, had on his Baby Surprise, and his older brother was wearing the striped Koigu sweater I knit him for his first birthday (the pattern is on my website, www.jeanmile.demon.co.uk). His parents were wearing socks of my confecting.

Pictures will follow, when we get back to Edinburgh.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Non-Knit

A brief look-in before setting off for London...

Our daughter phoned last night to say she'll meet us at King's Cross. That's going to mean almost two hours of driving for her, and will save us from a very awkward hour of struggle with the suburban line. What have we done to deserve such a daughter? Mothers of four who will be cooking Christmas dinner for 12 or 15 people, have plenty to do on December 23.

I heard yesterday from my sister. She has sent some pewter which belonged to our late father, to my daughter in Thessaloniki. It seems to have arrived in Greece, but there is a problem getting it through customs. Our son-in-law is planning to go down to the office with his eldest son, Archie -- Mungo and Fergus' brother. Archie is fluent in Greek and brave as a lion. It should be an interesting encounter.

We spent Christmas in Thessaloniki with them two years ago. When we were leaving church on Christmas day, there was a beggar woman sitting on the step. Archie left our party and went back to her and said something which she found very funny. None of the rest of us speak Greek as well as he does, so we asked what he had said. "You have only one tooth", was the answer.

One of our Christmas cards last year came with the news that the writer's grandson could speak Greek. He lives on Cyprus. I am afraid I wrote back to say that we had a couple of grandchildren who could do that, too, and a couple of others who were fluent in Mandarin. It was wicked of me, but irresistable. This year the card from that source contains no news whatsoever. Serves me right.

The Christmas card flood has brought a certain amount of news of death and diagnoses. I feel ashamed to grumble so about fear-of-the-dark, when we are all alive and well.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Mungo's sweater, again Posted by Hello

Solstice + One

The dreadful black irony about yesterday's attack in Mosul, is that the letters which must inevitably arrive from Mr Rumsfeld (however he deigns to sign them) can only add to the unimaginable pain that 20 sets of parents and who knows how many widows and widowers, are already feeling. "Oh, look, dear, here is a letter from the Secretary of State. Do you think he signed it himself?"

All well here, I guess. This Blog has been too long unillustrated, so I will, I hope, post later today the picture I take of the Koigu sweater to send to Mungo in Greece. I'm doing the neck ribbing. The neck looks awfully big -- calculated according to Elizabeth's Percentage System, which allows, as revised and improved by Meg, a larger neck for children. I think I'll take in a stitch or two on the ribbing, anyway.

Next in line is a return to the aborted Stillwater. That pattern itself is gone for good, but I still have the four inches of ribbing I did, and I'm set with a better all-over pattern (if I can remember which one I chose) and some new colours.

I was tempted though, yesterday, reading IK in the bath, by the 72-stitch-hat in the Fall issue. I need a hat.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Winter Solstice!

We made it! Another successful tour of the sun!

We are going to London on Thursday -- at the two extremes of the earth's course, there is a palpable difference in light between London and Edinburgh. ("Palpable" is perhaps not the mot juste. ) That will be welcome, and the change will begin to make itself felt here not that long afterwards. By Groundhog Day it should be obvious to all that another year has been born.

My knitting books arrived yesterday from the Schoolhouse Press --"Two-End Knitting" by Ann-Maj Ling and "Shadow Knitting" by Vivian Hoxbro. Both are clearly going to demand some concentrated work. There are some pages on two-end knitting in Sheila McGregor's invaluable "Complete Book of Traditional Scandinavian Knitting" which I think will be useful when I tackle Ling. I am a bit disappointed that the Hoxbro book doesn't have any aliens in it, but perhaps once I get to grips with the system, I'll be able to devise aliens of my own.

I don't buy books by designers any more, except for Candace Eisner Strick and Sharon Miller (Shetland lace) and dear Kaffe (who has quieted down, alas); just techniques.

We had a bit of a turkey crisis over the weekend. (Christmas Dinner is extremely important here -- it is like celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in one day.) I had ordered an excessively expensive large organic turkey to be delivered to our daughter in London on Thursday. I paid with a Visa card which expired at the end of November, as of course was clear on the order form. On Saturday I went over my November statement for that card and was horrified to discover no turkey payment. (Perfectly correct from the supplier's point of view, of course -- charge the customer when you make the delivery. But I thought they'd see that the card was about to expire.)

I emailed them and tried to phone. The phone produced only a pleasant voice saying in a recorded message that our order lines for Christmas have now closed.

But after a few hours of mounting angst, they phoned me, in response to the email, and all is going forward. They now have the number of the new card. They said they would have delivered the turkey anyway and straightened it out later. Maybe.

I may well finish knitting Mungo's sweater today. Certainly, tomorrow. So I'll be able to tuck the loose ends inside and send him a pic of the whole thing.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Sock Knitting

My modem seems to have dropped the line without telling me, while I was composing deathless prose on the subject of Mr Rumsfeld and sock knitting and Anne Modesitt's blog. When I clicked Publish, all was lost, except, oddly, the title.

Here, an abbreviated version.

Someone wrote anonymously to suggest sock-knitting as a remedy for the formless fear which is strangling me. And it's a good idea. Eight years ago, inspired by my new membership in the Knitlist, I started knitting socks again, specifically as travel knitting. The experience of flying -- I used to be seriously terrified -- was completely transformed. It's something about turning round and round in the same place.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Mungo's sweater -- nearly done Posted by Hello

Comfort Knitting

As you can see, Mungo's sweater is nearly done, and I'm pleased. Four more knitting days before we go south for Christmas -- I may even finish. Certainly I'll have a picture to send him to prove that I'm nearly there.

I had a very kind message yesterday -- unsigned, and it arrived in one of those Blogger anonymous comments which I think I can't reply to -- about yesterday's gloomy post. Many thanks, whoever you are. She suggested knitting a Fair Isle sweater with all the colours of winter, as Meg Swansen once recommended. Not a bad idea.

Last year around this time I happened to be between projects and happened to spot a picture in the paper -- in an article about scarves -- of the delectable actor Tom Baker wearing his Dr Who scarf. He was Dr Who. I've mentioned him before.

So I knit a Dr Who scarf of Shetland jumper-weight oddballs and sent it off to Peking. It's cold there in the winter. And as I was knitting I thought, how comforting this is, I must do it every year. This year, I started a little thread on the Knitlist about Comfort Knitting and had some interesting replies. There was a consensus in favour of knitting something red. I am sure, for me, it also has to be something relatively easy -- no lace or cables. And something cosy.

I chose Fergus' orange Wallaby and Mungo's beautiful Koigu deliberately as this year's comfort knitting, and they have been of some use. And now that I know that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is something that people have and that gets discussed in the Sunday papers, it behooves me to shut up about it.

On the other hand: on Friday afternoon, as we were coming back from a successful Christmas shopping session, my husband had a small health scare. He was fairly all right that evening, and fine yesterday. But the fact remains that we made a vow 47 years ago, solemnly but with high hearts, to stick together "till death you do part". And God is going to call in his marker one day, sooner rather than later. We're not likely to have another 47. This thought obtrudes more some days than others; it's always there, and worst in the dark.




Saturday, December 18, 2004

Timor Mortis Conturbat Me

Sorry about the headline, but that's what it's like.

A very helpful email from Socklady offers a suggestion about posting pictures to this Blog. I hope to take hold of the situation soon and follow up her method.

Meanwhile the book "Patterns from China" by Judith Gross has arrived. That's the book Janis remembered when I wrote about my ambition to have my Mandarin-speaking granddaughters write a definitive tome on the subject of Chinese knitting. The blurb on the dust-jacket says it is "the first to bring the lovely originality of Chinese hand-knitting to the Western world." There's room for more, I'd say, but this one is extremely interesting.

The author noticed, on a trip to China about 25 years ago, that the children (one per family, of course) were wearing colourful and original hand-knit sweaters, whereas the adults wore a semi-uniform of blue or grey or dark green or brown. That has changed, and perhaps there is less knitting now (as in Scotland), and now there are pattern books with Western-style designs. I came home with a couple last year. Ms Gross says she found no printed patterns at all.

But she did find a printed sheet of stitch patterns posted on the wall in an LYS, with eager knitters copying them down. She was given a copy, and, with some difficulty, had it translated, and has created patterns for children's sweaters using the Chinese stitches. The book is partly illustrated with pictures she took while she was there of Chinese children wearing their knitted clothes.

I found the book on www.abebooks.com, an ever-useful resource.

I'm expecting two more knitterly items in the mail -- two books from the Schoolhouse Press, and some yarn. Not to mention the new issue of Knitter's Magazine with my friend's hat pattern in it. That ought to be enough to cheer me up, but it isn't.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Using Up Yarn

I got another kind message from Ann yesterday, with the URL for the DNA scarf. I've downloaded and saved it. Many thanks! It mentions a date, too, which should help finding the magazine article and pattern if I want to -- I'm a founder-subscriber to IK, and have them all.

I've reached a (for me) happy point in Mungo's sweater --where almost every stripe I knit finishes off another skein of yarn.

I keep a record of yarn-in-and-out over the year in a spreadsheet. A pretty futile exercise -- but the figures for 2004 are exceptionally good, and I am delighted to be adding to the yarn-out column even in these last few dark, dark days. The spreadsheet has its uses, too, in restraining my hand occasionally when I am tempted to buy.

I sent packages off yesterday to Beijing (it may arrive in time for the Chinese New Year, if I'm lucky), Old Saybrook, Thessaloniki, Milngavie (it's pronounced "Mill-guy") and London, spending more thereby, I think, than I had spent on the presents inside. But it's done. Card-writing continues.

There were some questions and answers about Blogging on the Knitlist this morning. I think I see what can be done about pictures -- to get more than one into an entry. What I need is a couple of quiet hours to work on the problem, and that's what I see no prospect of.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Salonika

Mungo's yoke progresses. I have reached the early stage of the point where the decreases begin to make themselves felt and the work seems to accelerate.

I'm falling behind on Christmas card writing, though.

Our son-in-law in Thessaloniki professes to like weighty tomes as presents, so, needless to say, he gets little else. This year there is a new book out, very well reviewed, called "Salonica". (I don't know which way to spell it.) I think it will be published in the US in February. Our daughter emailed me yesterday, rather intelligently, to say that David already had two copies and she had just headed off a third. It occurred to her that it was just the sort of thing which we might be about to send him?

I was able to reply, rather smugly, that we had indeed chosen a book for him of local interest and infinate tedium, but not that one. We are sending a modern re-print of F.C.H.L. Pouqueville's work of 1820, "Travels in Epirus, Albania, Macedonia, and Thessaly." Books don't come much more boring than that.

I think I had better knit him a scarf next year. (Winters are fairly cold in northern Greece, and the whole family goes ski-ing.) The DNA one from IK, perhaps, if I can find it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mungo's sweater

Since I succeeded in incorporating a picture in a Blog entry yesterday, I'll try again. I'm afraid to go back to yesterday to correct the spelling of "inimitable" for fear of losing both text and picture.

Back to business: here's how Mungo's sweater looks now. Love that Koigu!

Mungo's sweater -- latest Posted by Hello


He won't have it for Christmas, but thanks to the modern digital age I will be able to send him an email next week -- he's one of the ones in Thessaloniki -- with an up-to-date picture and the promise of delivery soon.

I'm decreasing only one round in three, as I zoom in towards the neck. Perhaps I left too many stitches behind at the underarm. Never mind. I think it looks OK.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Still no Knitting

I've done some -- Mungo's sweater is all in one piece, yoke depth calculated, short rows added to raise the back and lower the front -- but a lovely message from Ann yesterday tempts me to leave knitting aside for another day. I am also attempting to write an entry around a picture. In the early days, I sometimes succeeded with that, and sometimes didn't.

Ann's message was about the line in which I said yesterday that I preferred to be my children's mother than anybody else's.

I'll expand on that obliquely today by saying that my son James, in his last year at Oxford, lived on the same stair as Hugh Grant and once, according to James' version of events, loaned him a frying pan.

James and his wife had a year in Ann Arbor some time ago, when they were still childless. James had a journalism fellowship. In his career at the BBC he had met the Pope and the Dalai Lama and some other folk, but all anybody in Michigan was interested in hearing about was Hugh Grant.

Hugh Grant is a millionaire and his waxwork effigy is in Madame Tussaud's. James, on the other hand, has a beautiful and highly talented wife and three wonderful children. And he has never, that I know of, been arrested for unsuitable behavior, although it has to be admitted that he stunned the University of Michigan by appearing at the farewell party that year

Not Hugh Grant Posted by Hello


wearing a skirt.

That is his daughter Kirsty on the left, and his nephew the innimitable Fergus Drake, on the right.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas cards

It occurs to me that I don't _have_ to write about knitting -- and anyway I didn't get much done yesterday. Christmas interferes badly with life.

As sure as we'll sit down to turkey and Brussels sprouts on the 25th, some journalist between now and then will fill up a few column inches making fun of the summary-of-the-year sheets which some people include with their cards. What I want to say is, I love them. The ones I don't like are the cards from old friends whom we haven't seen for years, who just say Happy Christmas Love Jeanetta (or whatever) without even a half-sentence of news.

When we were young we used occasionally to keep track of who sent us cards, with the thought of excluding from our own list anyone who didn't reciprocate. I decided that was mean, and we abandoned the practice. This year, I'm going to resurrect it, not for the sake of weeding out the Scrooges, but just to see who's still alive. Not sending us a card doesn't prove that anyone's dead, my husband rightly points out. But sending a card definately shows that they were alive in mid-December.

I think there were times, when our children were younger, when some people's year-end summaries did make me feel that our children weren't quite pulling their weight at school or, later, at improving the world. But now that they are all middle-aged and I am secure in the knowledge that there are no four people in the world I would rather be the mother of, other people's stories are enthralling, and arouse no angst.

I'm well up on my own card-writing (hence limited knitting) and not too bad on present-buying. Wrapping and trudging up the hill to the post office to dispatch packages to Thessaloniki, Beijing, and Connecticut is where I am badly behind. Beijing will be lucky to see anything before February.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Out of Sync

Since I didn't beam up pictures of the shadow-striped fisherman's rib sweater until just now (below), they will have to count as today's illustration. The inside-out sweater doesn't show the reverse striping very well -- not the fault of the photograph; the sweater is like that. But I think that is because the two yarns are so similar. The variegated yarn contains a lot of the solid colour, so on the reverse side, all you see are occasional flecks of the lighter colour. If you see what I mean.

I believe that in two contrasting yarns, there would be distinct stripes on both sides. I really must try it.

Meanwhile I finished Mungo's second sleeve as far as the armpit, and will this evening, I hope, join everything into one whole. A fun moment. So tomorrow's photograph should be more interesting
Shadow stripes Posted by Hello
Inside out Posted by Hello

Friday, December 10, 2004

Vertically Striped Scarf

Somebody asked on the Knitlist recently for a pattern for a vertically striped scarf. I had an idea which pleases me enough that I may actually shop the stash and see if I can find anything to knit it in.

There is a way of knitting fisherman's rib which comes out with the knit ribs in one colour and the purl, receding bits in another. If you turn it over, the same thing happens except that the colours are reversed. It's dead easy to do. I knit a sweater that way, back in the days 8 or 9 years ago when Colinette still did reasonable-sized, knittable yarns. I used a variegated DK of hers for the ribs, and a toning solid colour for the background and for the genuine, k1 p1 rib at wrist and waist. I love the sweater, but it pills dreadfully. I have been forbidden to wear it because my husband has tired of picking up pills all around the house.

As I understand it, a stitch pattern can't be copyright -- so here's how to do it:

Definitions

K1b -- Knit into the stitch below the stitch on the left-hand needle and slip both stitches off together.

P1b -- Purl into the stitch below the stitch on the left-hand needle and slip both stitches off together.

The stitch pattern

Work on a circular needle with two colours of yarn, A and B. Cast on an odd number of stitches

Row 1 (RS) With colour A, *P1, K1b, repeat from * to last stitch, P1. Do not turn.

Row 2 (RS) With B, purl

Row 3 (WS) With A, K1, *P1b, K1, repeat from * to end. Do not turn.

Row 4 (WS) With B, knit

That's it. Easy peasy. It would make a good scarf, I think, on largish needles to keep it soft and fluffy. One might make a fringe by hooking in tufts of the two yarns together.

I am writing this before taking the pictures of my old sweater, but I hope an illustration will soon appear above to give you the idea.

Meanwhile Mungo's sleeve progresses nicely. More of that tomorrow.

jean@jeanmile.demon.co.uk


Thursday, December 09, 2004

The ribwarmer Posted by Hello

It's Awfully Dark...

...but at least there's less than a fortnight to go to the solstice.

I got a lot of knitting done in the country. The never-very-satisfactory portable computer I use there gave up the ghost entirely -- a liberating experience. And daylight was brief, so relatively little could be done outsoors. I should have taken more Christmas cards along, but I didn't. So I knit, and attended to the most delightful of gardening chores, choosing my seed list for '05.

The ribwarmer went faster than I expected. I should finish the body of it when we are next there in January (insh'allah). I'm using the four skeins of Debbie Bliss "Maya" which I fell for recently, and it's going to be touch and go as to whether I have enough, but I think I'll make it. The collar is done, and if the instructions are to be believed, the back is a couple of rows shorter than the front. It's that close.

I'll edge it with i-cord. I was delighted with the effect on the recent Baby Surprise. But I can use a different yarn for that.

The instructions were unspecific about whether to wrap the next stitch when short-rowing to make the corners. I was working from Woolgathering 58, March '98, "The Ribwarmer Revisited". The knitter who had done one of the longer models illustrated there, specifically said that she didn't wrap. I tried it that way and thought it looked horrible, so ripped out the first corner and did it again with wrapping. Much better.

The neighbour's party was very pleasant. We had champagne to drink, which I always enjoy. This was a party, industrious readers will remember, launching a widower's new lady friend as mistress of his house. We don't know what the dead wife's family think of this. It is, in fact, their house, still.

It has also to be reported that the deer have been down and helped themselves to my vegetables. I try hard to have something available to eat from the garden in other months of the year besides glorious August and September, but without deer fencing it's a mug's game.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Yarn

You don't really need another picture of last night's 2-3" addition to Mungo's second sleeve. I was going to write about a pattern for a vertically-striped scarf, but last night I got one of those Anonymous comment messages which I can't reply to, from Brigid, who said, "As for your own sweater: what a nice choice to make - between cashmere or Koigu!" She's so right!

But I thought back to the winter of 1957-58 when I was not long married and expecting our first child. No such choices then! I knit her a Shetland shawl, designed by Mrs A. Hunter of Unst, and it took 8 balls of Paton's Beehive 2-ply, Patonised. I couldn't afford such an outlay all at once, so I bought them one at a time, as required.

The pattern was a Paton's leaflet. By my current advanced standards, it was fairly routine. It required one to knit six pieces: the four trapezoids, the center square, and finally the edging, and sew them all together. It's hard to believe, even in those days before circular needles were common, that that's the way it was done on Unst.

The call came before I had quite finished. I knit the last couple of scallops of the edging on my hospital bed, and a dear friend sewed the whole damn thing together so that I could carry the baby home in it. That's friendship! All four of our children were carried in it to be baptised, and our eldest grandchild likewise, and after that I gave it to the daughter it was knit for and she thinks she's got it somewhere but can't quite lay her hands on it.

The pattern is mentioned in the bibliography of Hazel Carter's self-published "Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts". Although I have kept most of the patterns I have knit in lo! these many years, and a great many others I haven't knit, that one got away. I sought it high and low, turning over piles of patterns in charity shops. Then, three years ago, at the great annual Christian Aid Book Sale here in Edinburgh, I found it! in a pile of miscellaneous knitting patterns. I thrust a pound into the woman's astonished hand -- don't laugh! that's nearly $2.00 -- and took the pattern, leaving her with the rest of the pile. And I'm very glad to have it.

We're off to Kirkmichael today. When we get back on Tuesday or Wednesday, I will reveal how I got on with the ribwarmer, and expound my vertically-striped scarf idea. By the time all that is done, Mungo's sleeves may even be attached to the body.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Second sleeve started Posted by Hello

Pressing on

I've started Mungo's second sleeve, as you see, on dps.

We are going to Kirkmichael tomorrow, where attention will shift of course to an attempt to knit a ribwarmer in the Debbie Bliss homespun yarn "Maya" which I bought recently. Full report on return, Tuesday or Wednesday.

I had what I think might be called an epiphanic moment the other day. I had been thinking of knitting myself a cashmere sweater from the yarn at www.handknitting.com -- they have a wonderful range of colours and they claim that there are slight unevennesses in the dyeing, an attribute I like. But the other day I was surveying my sweater drawer in which already lie several cashmere sweaters, presents from my son and daughter-in-law in Beijing. They are wonderful. I love and wear them regularly (and will certainly have one on when we head north tomorrow).

But they're awfully warm, and the Edinburgh winter is as often damp and mild (today) as it is briskly cold (yesterday). Do I really need another cashmere sweater? Wouldn't I prefer a Koigu of my own, like Theo and soon Mungo?

Hmmm.

The yarn is now available in Britain, at a price which makes even me hesitate. It might be better to order it from the States and take a chance on paying customs duty. By the time I finish Mungo's sweater my Koigu stash will be seriously depleted.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Mungo's sleeve Posted by Hello

December!

I always feel much better when we actually get to December. Sure, it's still getting darker -- but not for much longer. I have something of the opposite feeling on the 1st of June every year. This is wonderful, but it'll soon be over.

As you see, Mungo's first sleeve progresses, and may well be finished today. I'm not greatly enamoured of the two-circular method, but I'm making it work. I suspect I will leave this sleeve behind on one of the circulars and switch to dp's for the other sleeve.

The new "Knitter's"

However, today's great excitement has nothing to do with either of those matters. I had a look at my favourite Blog last night (www.queerjoe.blogspot.com). Queer Joe was giving his opinion of the new Knitter's Magazine. Better than many issues recently, was his conclusion.

But the excitement stems from his reference to one of the patterns he liked -- a hat by Janis Witkins! She's my friend! (Not to be confused with the other Janis, my cyber-friend.)

I have met several designers at Stitches events, and I rank Candace Eisner Strick as a friend, too. (www.strickwear.com) But she was already an established designer when I met her, at Camp Stitckes in 1999. Indeed I already owned her first book.

But Janis W. is different -- she's what might be called a private friend. In 2000, I went to Camp Stitches again. It was on beautiful Lake George in those days. After Camp, I wanted to go visit my sister and mother at the mouth of the Connecticut River. I consulted timetables on-line, and the conclusion I reached was that America was simply not set up to transport people from the Hudson Valley to the Connecticut Valley. You had to go to New York and back out. So I appealed to the Knitlist, and Janis responded. She was at Camp, too. She lives in Old Lyme (famous for Lyme Disease) and it would be perfectly possible, if a bit strenuous, to walk from her house to my sister's, on the other side of the river.

We had a grand day driving down, including a stop at Webs. Later, on a subsequent visit of mine, Janis and her husband came to supper at my sister's house. I cooked, and didn't make the chilli hot enough. Since then, we've kept in touch by Christmas card. And now she's in Knitter's!

That magazine is the slowest of my subscriptions to make the journey across the Atlantic. It will probably be January before I see it.


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dies Atra

No pic today, although the sleeve in fact progresses well.

Today is the darkest in the calendar for me (despite St Andrew's cheering presence), because of a grim family event 45 years ago.

Two years ago, the anniversary picked up some extra baggage.

We were in Kirkmichael. Walking back from the village in the morning, I met a friend who told me that our nearest neighbour had cancer.

Relations with the neighbour's family had not always been easy. They were already there when we bought our house, Burnside, in 1963. There was -- is -- no access to Burnside except over land owned by the N. family. Well, I suppose we could buy a helicopter. In retrospect, the lawyer who acted for us on the purchase should have attended to the matter of access, but he didn't.

All went well for 20 years or so. Then the old generation of N's passed away and the new ones began objecting to our driveway. We were happy to make a new one, entirely at our expense, out of sight of their house. Even so, it had to cross a field of theirs.

It is hard to remember now how this situation could lead to years of expensive bickering, but it did. Finally we got our new driveway.

Then a couple of years after that, our water supply failed. In order to connect to the village water, a pipe had to be laid across that same field. Our contractor dug a trench along the line of our old water pipe. The N's were furious -- the trench should have followed the line of our new driveway. They kept us without water for a year while we bickered some more.

But I had always liked I., the woman who now had cancer. I think she was sorry about what had happened, which was the fault of her brother (driveway) and her husband (water). So I resolved to knit her a chemo cap.

That afternoon I slipped in the dank grass, fell and broke my right arm rather badly just below the shoulder. An uncomfortable winter ensued. I was able to knit again in time to knit I. her chemo cap in February or March. She liked it. She died in June.

We hoped her husband would move away -- hey! we might even be able to buy that blasted field. But he's still there, and indeed we are going to a little drinks party this coming Sunday up there, hosted by G. and his new bidey-in. Should be interesting.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Gorey's "Fruitcake" Posted by Hello

Fruitcake

I got a fair amount done on Mungo's sleeve last night; if all goes well, there should be enough for a picture tomorrow.

But today's illustration is of a favourite Christmas card, sent me a few years ago by my oldest friend. We were college roommates in 1950. I love it -- I already loved Edward Gorey -- and now it is the earliest of my Christmas routines, to take it out and prop it up on the table in front of me as I start to write the Christmas cards. And I did start yesterday -- five done. Half an hour lost to knitting.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The finished Wallaby Posted by Hello

Miscellaneous

Here's a picture of the Wallaby. It's still unblocked, but I think I will do that at some point soon. I am pleased with the result. Those are balls of Koigu for Mungo's sweater in the background.

Chinese knitting revisited

I got this message from "alltangledup" last night, a propos yesterday's Blog entry: "chinese isn't all that peculiar, but men are.. especially when it comes to buying yarn. " I laughed out loud -- not a conventional Internet lol -- I laughed out loud.

I have been corresponding with Janis, who sent a corrected title for the book about Chinese knitting. It's "Patterns from China" by Judith Gross. Here's the URL:


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0442203993/qid=1101610311/sr=1-8/ref=sr_1_8/002-3911491-8459222?v=glance&s=books

but if that doesn't work, you could just go to Amazon and do a search. Despite being 20 years old, the book still seems to be available. I'm going to order it, and will eventually report further.

Current knitting

I didn't get much done on Mungo's sleeve last night, but the two-circular method seems to be working well enough.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Travel socks Posted by Hello

Back to Knitting

The picture above is the promised record of what was accomplished during the week away -- hosband's socks finished, daughter Rachel's first one nicely started. Last night I finished Mungo's Koigu sweater up to the armpits, and started the first sleeve -- on two circulars. I think I got the hang of it, after a few struggles.

I heard from Janis yesterday, so we're back in touch. I hope she won't mind my quoting part of what she said about Chinese knitting, since comments don't seem to show up on this Blog:

"There is a book that was published when China was just opening back up again (late 70's or early 80's) with the creative and original title "Knitting in China" It is a lovely but now outdated book. It tells how it is very popular to knit for children in China. At the time the book was published, knitting supplies were not that easy to come by. Inexpensive wools and synthetics were available at "the People's Department stores" and handwritten knitting stitch patterns were posted on the wall and people would copy them down. Patterns for garments were not common. Knitters would sometimes unravel garments and remake them to be thrifty or in order to obtain a new supply of yarn."

I'll have a look on Abebooks today for "Knitting in China".

And here, since I'm in recycling mode, is part of what I said to Janis once I got her email address:

"Our son James is the Economist magazine's Beijing correspondent. He speaks fluent Mandarin -- when he worked for the BBC he used often to broadcast in that language. When we were in Beijing last year I visited several LYS's which were found by paying attention as we moved around the city -- not a technique which would work in Edinburgh or London or even New York. In one, I bought some lovely near-cobweb-weight black yarn to knit a lacy evening wrap for a granddaughter. I had knit her mother the one from Gladys Amedro's book "Shetland Lace" for her 40th birthday, and now Helen wanted one too. I tried to sell her on some of the coloured lace yarn in my extensive stash, but no, black is clearly the new black for London's teenagers.

I knit the wrap -- it came out slightly larger than her mother's one, but the yarn was infinately more wonderful to work with than Jamieson & Smith cobweb-weight. I have more than half the purchase left over, which I may well use to knit the thing again for my sister's seventieth birthday in '06.

Anyway, I asked James to tell the shop assistant that I was going to knit a lacy wrap for my granddaughter, and he shrank back in horror; he didn't know how to say it, he claimed. I haven't studied French since I attended Asbury Park High School (later made famous by Bruce Springsteen's attendance) more than 50 years ago, and I certainly can't speak it, but I could have made a stab at that. "dentelle" "grande-fille" and some miming. Chinese must be a _very_ peculiar language. "

Friday, November 26, 2004

A postcard I found in London Posted by Hello

Home Again

We're safely back from London, very tired. I have much to report in the way of grandchildren met, art viewed, Christmas shopping accomplished -- but for today, the illustration is of a postcard I found in a bookshop there.

Janis (who wrote to me about knitting in China): of course I remember you, but alas haven't kept your email address and your message came to me as one of those blasted anonymous Blogger comments to which I can't reply. I am jean@jeanmile.demon.co.uk -- just send me your email address. I want to write to you. I must get this comment/email thing sorted, too.

I finished the then-current pair of travel socks soon after we got there, and started a pair for the daughter we were staying with. She likes 'em short, and has small feet, a pleasant change from knitting for gents I'm not far off finishing the first sock, in a jolly Socka Color yarn, white with little flecks of green, blue, yellow, and red. Rather Christmassy, in fact, in an unobtrusive way. Picture tomorrow.

It is always nice to come home to Edinburgh from London. When we get there, we still have nearly an hour's journey to whichever house we are staying at, most of it through pretty ugly terrain. When we get to Edinburgh, we have ten minutes' walk home, through this lovely city, beautiful even in darkness.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dr Who

Here I am in London, where all is well. The new grandson, still nameless, seems a nice baby. We've seen lots of art, with more to come.

On Sunday we saw an episode of "Monarch of the Glen", generally eschewed in Edinburgh as it bears no relation whatsoever to Scottish country life as we know it. The actor Tom Baker turned up in Sunday's episode -- he who used to be Dr Who.

When we knitters speak of a "Dr Who scarf" what we really mean is a "Tom-Baker-as-Dr-Who scarf". Several other actors played the part before and after TB. None of them wore scarves.

I knit one at the end of '03 and the beginning of '04, in the dark of the year, and found it very soothing to do. I was inspired by a fortuitous picture in the newspaper of Tom Baker in his glory days, wearing his scarf. I'll write again one day soon on the subject of Comfort Knitting. Last year's one is on my website, www.jeanmile.demon.co.uk.

Baker, I am sorry to say, has grown stouter with the passing of the years -- he's not the only one --but the wonderful voice is still there, and he still conveys the delightful sense that the role he is playing is utter nonsense so let's ham it up.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

To London...

We're off, for nearly a week. I ought to be able to post some un-illustrated tidbit while we're there, but normal service will be suspended. (The difficulty is to find a moment when (a) 18-year-old Hellie is not on the telephone and (b) her sister Lizzie isn't playing with the Sims.) I hope to come back with many pictures of the nameless boy, perhaps even wrapped in his shawl.

I finished the Wallaby last night. Actually finished-finished, underarms woven, loose ends dealt with. I may or may not block it when we get back. The digital camera is packed with the London stuff, so the final picture will have to wait, too.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Rachel, knitting Posted by Hello

Knitting in China

That's a more cheerful picture, surely, than another orange Wallaby one.

My granddaughter Rachel lives in Beijing. Not to be confused with her aunt, my daughter Rachel, who lives in London. I haven't done very well at starting the next two generations on a knitting career, but I did teach Rachel when her family was here in Scotland in the summer, and she took to it with enthusiasm.

When they left, the knitting was left behind by mistake and a number of other things deliberately, in a last-minute panic about whether the luggage was overweight. I was pretty slow about bestirring myself to pack things up and mail them on, and the post offices involved were then remarkably slow about actually making the delivery. But they finally arrived yesterday, and Rachel has been reunited with her knitting -- happily, it would appear.

The Chinese are knitters, so Rachel's nanny ought to be able to keep the flame alight.

I have high hopes for Rachel and her younger sister Kirsty -- there is a book to be written about knitting in China, and maybe they could do it. Rachel speaks pretty good Mandarin, and Kirsty (now four) was brought up with it as her first language.

We were there for a very happy fortnight in April of last year. I saw lots of people knitting, and bought some yarn. The most interesting sighting was on the day when we drove out into the country to visit the Wall. Our son enjoys seeking out bits of it other than the famous spot where Queens and Presidents are photographed. In one village, with substantial remains marked with a "national monument" plaque, a youth told James that we were the first foreigners who had ever come there.

In that same village, we saw a group of women sitting by the roadside, knitting. We asked if we could take a photograph but they didn't like the idea -- shyness, I think, rather than hostility. I wish I had gone home that evening and made careful notes of what I had seen. One of them, I remember, was knitting an all-in-one small (but not baby-sized) garment in dense grey wool. She was using long sharp-looking double-pointed needles, some of which had been left behind holding stitches while she worked on one of the limbs.

Well, I want Rachel and Kirsty in 20 or 30 years' time to go out into the countryside and find out about Chinese peasant knitting. And yarn -- we weren't far from Beijing, but I doubt very much if those women ever went there to visit an LYS.

Maybe, of course, there is such a book -- they are the Middle Kingdom, after all; we're the periphery. In that case, Rachel and Kirsty can translate it.

I brought a couple of Chinese knitting magazines back, provided by a kind friend, but they were a disapointment -- western-style patterns throughout.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Mungo's Koigu, again Posted by Hello

Back in Edinburgh

...after an energetic weekend in the country. The weather was kind, which cannot be guaranteed in Perthshire in November or indeed any other month, and we got a lot done outside. The deer have been down, but contented themselves with eating the tops off an unsuccessful brassica called "Romanesco" and left my successful kale. Kale has never yet made it past the winter solstice -- we shall see.

My dear vegetables are fenced against rabbits, and when I win the lottery I'll get deer fencing.

I didn't get quite as far as hoped with Mungo's Koigu sweater -- it still lacks ten or more rounds to the armpits. I brought it back here, and will resume as soon as I finish the Wallaby. I reached the neck ribbing on that last night. I think I'll do two inches or so, and double it inside.

If I'm slightly worried about the Wallaby being too small, I'm also worried about Mungo's Koigu being too large. And the fault, for once, has nothing to do with gauge. For Mungo, I measured a loose-fitting sweat shirt when he was here in the summer. For Fergus, I'm aiming at the dimensions given for "child, small" in Vicky Square's book, "Knitting Great Classics".

Well, as with the kale, we shall see.

I doubt if I'll have Mungo's sweater finished for Christmas, and I'm not going to obsess about it. It'll be finished a lot sooner than it otherwise would have been, now that it's goingt to be an Edinburgh WIP. The Debbie Bliss yarn and the Ribwarmer pattern will go to Kirkmichael next time.

We're going to London on Thursday for a strenuous week of art galleries -- all weeks in London are strenuous in that respect -- and, of course, of meeting the new, nameless baby. I should finish the current pair of travel socks while we're there (currently, turning the second heel) and perhaps start the next one.

Alexander knows a lot about things, and could theoretically help with the two major outstanding problems on this Blog -- how to insert an "email me" button and how to fix comments so that they're accessible to all. But he is also a very hands-on father, and he now has two sons on his hands, so I doubt if such mundane matters will be worthy of his attention.


Friday, November 12, 2004

Nearly done Posted by Hello

The Wallaby -- nearly

Last night didn't quite get me to the neck ribbing, but I'm close. I'm very pleased with the result -- and my laborious trial-and-error arithmetic about the rate of the raglan decreases seems to have got it right. My husband thinks it looks too small for Fergus. I think we're OK.

Judith wrote yesterday encouraging me to do circular knitting on two circular needles. (I tried and failed with the Wallaby sleeves.) I have done it in the past, and am going to try again, with her encouragement. I may reach the sleeves of Mungo's Koigu sweater while we're in Kirkmichael this weekend. I'll take circulars and try. And when we get back, the Wallaby itself will probably get too small for its present needle as I get nearer the neck, so I'll try the system for that, too.

Meg Swansen "revisited" the EPS in four articles in Knitter's Magazine in (I think) 2000. I knit a sweater for son-in-law David (father of the Drake boys) from those articles. Instructions for knitting-on-two-circulars were included in part two, when we got to the sleeves, and I did it successfully then. When I knit Theo's Koigu sweater recently, I did the sleeves flat until they were big enough to reach around one circular needle. I'll put the relevant issue of Knitter's with the stuff to take to Kirkmichael.

Both Judith and Brigid wrote to say they share my enthusiasm for the "Maya" yarn mentioned yesterday. Brigid has actually got some and is knitting wrist warmers. I had a lovely email from Sydney, too. It seems extraordinary that anybody reads this Blog, let alone three people!

We're off to Kirkmichael today, back Monday, if life goes according to plan. The Blog should resume on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

"Maya" from Debbie Bliss Posted by Hello

Temptation Unresisted

I was wandering around John Lewis's yarn department yesterday, after an unsuccessful attempt at early Christmas shopping elsewhere in the store, and fell for this yarn. Even in the unsatisfactory glare of a flash photograph, I think you can see why. It's called "Maya" and the label is most unforthcoming, information-wise. It's pure wool and "handspun". No yardage.

I think November is the most dangerous of months for yielding to yarn-buying temptation.

I'm thinking ribwarmer. I knit one from Noro Kureyon a couple of years ago and I wear it fairly often -- oftener, probably, than most other things I've knit for myself. But the shoulders are rather butch, and I'd like to try again and see if I can narrow them. Meg Swansen did a "Woolgathering" on the ribwarmer pattern. and I think she even says something about that aspect of things. This could be the next Kirkmichael project -- I need easy, straightforward knitting there.

In fact, I might after all yield to the temptation to bring Mungo's Koigu sweater back to Edinburgh and see if I can finish it for him for Christmas. The Wallaby will be finished or as-near-as-dammit this evening (insh'Allah). I'm a little bit worried about giving Fergus his Wallaby for Christmas and having to tell his brother Mungo that his sweater isn't finished. I feel much happier about the size of the Wallaby now that it's got its top nearly on.

Picture of Wallaby promised for tomorrow, finished or not. We've postponed Kirkmichael until tomorrow, too.

No more news from London, which I trust is good news. Three of our previous 12 grandchildren were born with serious birth defects (to three different sets of parents) and I was braced for a further extension of our medical vocabulary, but it begins to look as if we may have got away with it this time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The new baby with his parents Posted by Hello
Ketki and her sons Posted by Hello

Miscellaneous

The Wallaby, to begin with, progresses well. Sleeves are attached and I'm zooming through the raglan shaping. I've now abandoned the Wallaby booklet and trusted myself entirely to EPS. There was a moment yesterday morning when I was forced to think, an unpleasant process. I knew roughly how many rounds there should be between armpit and neck; I knew how many stitches I needed to do away with. Decreasing at the four raglan points every second round would get me to the neck too quickly; every third round would be too slow; so it had to be a combination. I got it, I think, by trial and error. Is there some mathematical formula that would have helped?

Just as well. I then went to see our dentist about some rumbling pain and he x-rayed and said, out it must come. I spent the rest of the day capable of knitting, but definately not capable of thought. And we won't go to Kirkmichael today. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday.

Lace Knitting

Judith wrote to me about lace knitting, a propos yesterday's shawl. The yarn, I should have said, was Lorna's Laces "Helen's Lace" in a shade called "watercolor".

I didn't knit shawls for my first four grandchildren, the children of our own eldest child, Rachel. When the first pregnancy was announced in what might be called the second wave, I knit a hap shawl for him of Shetland jumper weight from a pattern in Madeleine Weston's "Traditional Sweater Book". An interesting construction method -- she has one knit the edging for two sides, pick up stitches and knit inwards decreasing at the mitred corners, and then make another similar piece, and finally knit the centre square back and forth, picking up stitches from the inward edges of the trapezoids at the end of every row. That leaves the final side of the square, and two corners, to be joined at the end. The pattern was basic "hap" -- feather-and-fan for the trapezoids, garter stitch in the centre. I had a lot of fun doing it. The baby was Oliver Drake, who died at six weeks. He was wrapped in the shawl for burial.

Next was his cousin Alistair Miles. I knit him another Weston hap. He's fine.

Then Oliver's mother got pregnant again and this time I pulled out all the stops, as I then thought, and knit one of Gladys Amedro's patterns in lace-weight yarn, from a leaflet I bought from Jamieson & Smith. Archie is fine too. Amedro's construction method is similar to Weston's, but she has you knit the entire edging first. At the end there's nothing to do except graft the final side of the centre square to the bottom edge of the fourth trapezoid. This is the way I like to do it, and the method I have used ever since.

From then on I knit a shawl for nearly everybody. When Alistair's younger sister was expected, I pulled out even more stops and knit a Christening dress and shawl in cobweb-weight yarn, based on the pattern in Amedro's book "Shetland Lace" but with alterations.

By then I was ready to embark on a little mild self-design. Sharon Miller's wonderful book "Heirloom Lace" came out at just the right time, and also I was fortunate enough to meet New Zealand's champion lace knitter, Margaret Stove.

Oliver and Archie's youngest brother, the inimitable Fergus, intended recipient of the Wallaby, got perhaps my best shawl design. Keep it simple, stupid.

The two Miles boys -- the two-day-old one and his brother Jamie, in the pictures above -- got shawls in which I was rather too ambitious, and didn't provide the zig-zag line which I'm now sure a trapezoid needs to held it together.

Much of this can be seen on my website, www.jeanmile.demon.co.uk. And my email address is jean@jeanmile.demon.co.uk. I might as well stick it in from time to time, until I figure out how to add an "email me" button.




Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Shawl for Unnamed Grandson Posted by Hello

It's a Boy!

My 13th grandchild was born yesterday, a 7lb 11oz boy, younger brother to James. No pics yet, so today's illustration is the one this Blog started with, the shawl I knit for this child. It is my fourth attempt to design a Shetland shawl. Some have been more successful than others. Now I must tear myself away however briefly from the solipsistic delights of Blogging to post the shawl on my website, with explanatory notes.

I picked an edging from Sharon Miller's wonderful "Heirloom Knitting". Because the repeat didn't give me the length I wanted for the sides, I added a transition bit at each corner, simply repeating the first and last row of the edging pattern for a while. It looks a bit odd, but does the trick. Iy would have been better to have taken a few rows out of the edging pattern and knit the scallops (therefore) smaller but in a multiple of stitches that would have achieved what I wanted. That would have required too much thought.

The trapezoids have at their centres a swastika, not to express lunatic political opinions but because it is an ancient Hindu symbol of good fortune and the baby's mother is a Hindu. In the corners appear thistles to represent the baby's Scottish-born father, my son. Then there are sort of paisley-like teardrop things floating about. This is not entirely successful. Trapedoids, I am now convinced, need a zigzag line of some sort from one edge to the other, to pull them together. Another 13 grandchildren and I might begin to get somewhere with shawl design.

The centre square, which is fairly successful, I think, is meant to represent the London Transport symbol, a circle with a horizontal bar through it, to stand for the child's birthplace. London, I mean, not that he was born on a bus. It can be discerned with the eyes of faith.

Meanwhile, back at the Wallaby, I am in the process of attaching the sleeves. It looks small, but I think it is just bunching on the needles. I seem to be getting the gauge I'm aiming at -- seven stitches to the inch -- which gives the wanted circumference of 25 inches.

Monday, November 08, 2004

My Audience

My sister -- Theo's mother; see yesterday -- and my friend Selma both read my Blog yesterday! Selma sent a comment via the comment facility. I still don't know for sure whether my replies to comments (I've had but few, and have replied to all) are sent on. I suspect not. I need an "email me" button.

The second Wallaby sleeve progresses. We're going to Kirkmichael on Wednesday, I think. I hope to have body and sleeves joined before we leave.

I found myself toying with the idea yesterday of knitting other Christmas presents, besides Fergus's wallaby. If I bring Mungo's Koigu sweater (like Theo's but smaller) back from Kirkmichael, I could probably have it finished in time. I bought a slipper-sock kit from Claudia of Countrywool when I was at Camp Stitches in '99. That would knit up quickly and make a nice present for someone....

But I have stamped on these ideas. I hate knitting to deadlines. Sometimes it's necessary -- babies get born, for instance, and need a shawl then and not when they are walking and talking. I knit a lot of things for people and when I finish the things, I give them to the people. Let's keep it that way. The Knitlist at this time of year gets fuller and fuller of messages from people who are frantically knitting presents. The dark is depressing enough without that.

Chinese cashmere

On a brighter note, my sister says that both she and her husband will be passing through London on their way to Mozambique in early '05 and would be glad -- well, willing, at any rate -- to bring yarn. I saw in the paper yesterday that the Chinese may soon be forced to re-value their currency, so maybe I had better go ahead and order the yarn. Selma says she's seen it, and it's good.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Theo in his Koigu sweater Posted by Hello

Theo's Koigu sweater

Here it is! in a picture fresh from the ether. Theo has been working for Senator Kerry, setting the stage for rallies before the candidate arrived. In particular, he was in charge of arrangements for the press. After Tuesday's sad outcome, he spent a couple of days with his parents in CT before moving on with life -- I don't yet know whither. I had sent the sweater ahead to be waiting for him there.

The size looks good. Sleeves could even have been shorter. I hope the horizontal welts don't look too silly. It's hard to tell from the photograph.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I finished the first Wallaby sleeve last night and started the second. We'll be going to Kirkmichael in a couple of days, so progress will be arrested.

My Yarn Score

One of the things I do is keep track, in an Excel spreadsheet, of Yarn In and Yarn Out. It's a meaningless statistic -- the yarn for the recent Striped Fringe scarf, for instance, consisted of seven skeins of Louet Gems Merino. When the scarf was finished, I had seven oddballs. Score 7 in, 0 out, although the yarn was promptly and virtuously knitted.

But the score for 2004 is so far extremely good -- a Dr Who scarf in January knocked off a lot of oddballs, but even more important, I gave a substantial amount away.

In the best of years, grim November is a time when one is severely tempted to buy (unnecessary) yarn. This year is worse than usual, because one needs urgent cheering up after Kerry's defeat. But the spreadsheet is some curb to temptation. Whether or not a sufficient one, remains to be seen.


Saturday, November 06, 2004