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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I might as well stick it in from time to time, until I figure out how to add an "email me" button.