Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I finished knitting the second front band last night, cast off, and tried the more-or-less finished whole on my lumpy self. I thought, at a brief,horrified glance, that the neckline was impossibly low.

This is therefore a good moment to go away, as we will now do. If I am right, the solution probably is to undo the front bands and the neckband and re-do in one continuous sweep -- kimono fashion, do I mean? We shall see. I allowed myself a few moments last night of winding a skein of yarn to start the Clapotis with, to cheer myself up.

So no more blog until the weekend, or even early next week. When we get back, if I can avoid bumping into any cows on the way, I will have a new picture of the kitchen garden and of the striped Koigu.


I think I see my way forward, so to speak. Of that more anon.

I saw a television program the other evening about the cold war. It was interesting to me reminded of the fear in which we lived for so long. Al Qaeda is pretty small beer by comparison. The program included interviews with pilots and crew who flew the British nuclear deterrent. Since seeing a nuclear explosion, which could easily happen to such a pilot, under certain scenarios, can blind you, someone had the very bright idea of having pilot and co-pilot wear a patch over one eye, so that they would have one eye left and be able to fly on.

Looked at like that, my situation doesn't seem so bad.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The party Posted by Hello

There seems to have been a rather jolly party at Rachel's house the day before we arrived in London for our recent visit. Ketki with James-the-Younger is center left, Al;exander with Thomas-the-Younger on the right, my sister second from the left, various other sisters and cousins and aunts hither and yon. I don't see Rachel in this picture. Her husband Ed is behind Ketki, to her left.

Our country sojourn has been postponed for a day, as my husband hit a glitch in his work here last night and wants to get it straightened out before we leave. The weather forecast for the week is not good. Our soil is very light, however, and I should be able at least to plant some potatoes in the intervals of showers although seeds may have to wait. We'll see.

Fine by me, as it gives me a chance to stock up at the supermarket today and also to finish, actually finish, the knitting of the Fair Isle jacket. I'm currently doing the second front band, the one with the button holes. I'm using the variation of the one-row buttonhole which Meg gives in Sweaters From Camp. It's so neat and tight that the result (over three stitches) is smaller than I expected but I am forging on. There's still more steek-tidying and end-securing to be done, of course.

Footnote-copying also proceeds. I've done more than 60 files by now, something over 10% of the whole job. At least that's enough to register on the scale. Sure enough the Palm can swallow them all with quantities of memory left.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Reading Party Posted by Hello

A dearth of suitable knitting-pics at the moment, and alas we have no cat. So we'll have a couple of days of pictures my brother-in-law took in London recently. Here are Ketki and Jamie and my sister.

I fussed a lot about picking up the front-band stitches on the Fair Isle jacket yesterday. Photographs of the prototype -- the only other Fair Isle jacket I've ever knitted -- make it look as if the pattern doesn't quite match across the front. That's impossible, since, like this one, it was knit in a tube, but it could mean that the front band stitches were picked up unevenly. The buttonholes, of course, will be located in relation to the completed button band, not to the jacket patterning. 

Well, that may be an illusion created by photography, but I wasn't (for once) taking any chances. I was satisfied with the result in the end, and have knit most of the ribbing for the non-button band. I'll re-post a picture of the first jacket, along with its successor, when I finally FINISH.

I have been thinking of the future, too, and writing to Mary Hughes-Thompson about getting some more Koigu to make "Jamie's sweater" for his brother Thomas-the-Younger, and to Candace Strick about her Merging Colors, destined I hope to metamorphose into a sweater for me. www.foxyknits.com and www.strickwear.com, respectively.

And footnote-copying progresses. I'll be able to go on with that, at a somewhat reduced pace, when we are in the country next week, as we now have an up-to-date laptop there. I have decided, though, that the simplest way to be sure of keeping it virus-free is not to attach it to the Internet, so no blog again for a while, after tomorrow.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fair Isle Jacket

I nearly finished picking up stitches for the front bands last night -- I have one of the most extensive collections of circular needles in the Second New Town, so I thought it would be a good idea to pick up both sides at once in order to be fanatic about evenness. So far so good, I think. I hope to begin knitting this evening.

I re-read Meg and Starmore on cardigan-finishing yesterday, AFTER doing my neck-band, and learn that I should have decreased some stitches at the back neck on the first pass. I hope the day will at last arrive when I take a moment to find this sort of thing out, before making the mistake.

I am full of ambitious plans for the future, after the Clapotis interlude. Until I actually commit myself to one project, I can knit them all in my head (and buy yarn...)


I did a good day's work yesterday on footnote-copying, and squirted a further eight files into the Palm in the evening. I've done four easy ones already this morning, before hitting a major obstacle, still not as big as yesterday's big one. Onward!

On Monday if all goes according to plan, we'll go to the country for a week of potato-planting and revelling in spring sunshine. This is absolutely the most delicious moment, before the grass has to be cut on a weekly schedule.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Nearly Done Posted by Hello

There's the jacket, with its neckband half cast off. I'm pretty pleased. Notice the discrepancy between the cuffs. I think now that it's perfectly acceptable as a Design Feature. I will try to make the two front bands identical, however. Maybe I'll do another Fair Isle next winter, given that the stash is endless. I'll keep better notes next time -- I have only very sketchy ones for this job.

Meanwhile, however, thoughts are turning lacewards. It'll have to be scarves, I guess, since nobody I know goes in much for shawls. Much as I love knitting them. My sister-in-law, rejecting the offer of a shawl, said once that she'd like something she could wear in bed, so maybe I'll enlarge something into a stole for her. Meanwhile, it's time to take Heirloom Knitting down from the shelf again.

And then I read Mary Morrison's Blog, and start thinking textured. Life is too short.

Life Is Also Long

I've got my husband's first 25 files into the Palm. Now all I have to do is slog on patiently forever. I've done two already this morning -- copying endnotes from word processing limbo into the main text, then saving the result in MS Word 2003 -- but the next one has 230 of the wretched little things, so that will take me awhile. Meanwhile, although I can create and name folders on the Palm, I haven't figured out yet how to copy files directly into them, nor even exactly how to move them once they arrive on the Palm. I'll worry about that later.

My husband is a great one for getting the bit between his teeth and pressing remorselessly on with whatever it is. Lately we have been shopping for a think, solid cushion for him to sit on when working at his new laptop in the country, to make it easier to reach the keyboard which is, in the usual laptop fashion, separated from the user by an empty expanse. And he has been nagging me to fill out an insurance claim form relating to the peeling of ceiling paper in the dining room where Mrs Carson's tenants' bathwater dripped through in January.

But he doesn't seem to include the state of my eyes amongst our current problems, great and small. I'd rate it high, but I'm just as glad to have the mental space to myself. One morning while we were in London last week Rachel came over early with my sister, who was staying with her, and we dealt in record time with a number of outstanding problems -- preliminary arrangements for my husband's 80th birthday in November, and for Thomas-the-Elder's 21st in August. (That one was easy: no party.) Then there was accomodation for the Games -- we can house two families-with-small-children in Burnside itself, in addition to me and my husband (priority for those places goes to the families with the youngest children), and I've already secured an entire bed&breakfast house in the village for some of the overflow, but I need to look for more space when we are there next week. Then we got on to the subject of eyes and the advice contradicted the decision I thought I had come to and I feel like a rabbit in the headlights. I did make a phone call yesterday, though.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Thomas's Socks Posted by Hello

The neck stitches on the Fair Isle Jacket have been successfully picked up, I think, slight unevennesses decreased away leaving behind slight anxiety. I should be ready to show you a picture tomorrow -- and should be finished with the whole thing in the forseeable future. Next will be the Clapotis. Then it would probably be a good idea to get to work on my friend Janis Witkins' hat design from a recent Knitter's, as it is going to be my Games entry this year and I hate deadline-pressure. ("Games" = the Home Industries Tent at the Strathardle Highland Gathering on the 4th Saturday in August)

But then what? It's time for lace, I think. I had a look at Sharon Miller's website yesterday. (www.heirloom-knitting.co.uk is the address, I think.) She's added a delicious range of very fine PLYED merino yarns. My collection of lace yarns overfloweth, and of course each ball or skein takes weeks to get through -- but I'm sorely tempted.

Then there's Candace Eisner Strick's Merging Colors to look forward to...

The picture shows my progress last week with Thomas-the-Elder's socks (which I had hoped to finish). I was half-way through the ribbing when we left last Monday. The trouble is, the long train journeys aren't as productive of knitting-time as one might think. The carriages were stuffy, and I dozed when I should have been knitting. Still, progress of a sort.


I got the first 25 of my husband's files into the Palm yesterday -- and discovered that they had left their footnotes behind. Endnotes, strictly. They survived the transition from the DOS-based program he uses, Word Perfect 4.2, into today's World Perfect 12. They survived the subsequent translation into MS Word 2003, although they mysteriously became footnotes in the process. But they're not there on the Palm. When you tap an endnote number you get a prissy message to the effect that this feature is not supported by Documents to Go.

There seems to be a way of moving whole folders to the Palm without going through Documents to Go. I might try that. The only alternative I can think of is to copy the notes, one by one, into the body of the text. I made a start on that yesterday, and if I keep at it long enough I'll get it done. But crikey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Formerly attached to the FI jacket... Posted by Hello

Top Dog

...or The Day of the Rottweiler.

I was disappointed at the choice of Pope, but will have to trust that the Holy Spirit knew better. My fishmonger told me yesterday morning that the new Pope, when elected, would take the name Benedict, but he got the nationality wrong -- he thought it would be a Frenchman.

Cardinal Ratzinger used to be called "God's Rottweiler" (or maybe it was "The Pope's..." -- I do my blogging early, before I walk across the square to get the papers). Diana and her friends used to call Camilla "the Rottweiler".


A good day yesterday with the Fair Isle jacket. Both armholes and sleeve "seams" are now tidy, and the front steek trimmed and pinned down and partly secured. My books agree that I've got to knit the neck band before the button bands, so today I hope I'll finish a first pass at the front steeks and pick up stitches for the neck. That's the last tricky bit. If I can get them even -- which means, if I've calculated right up to now -- we really are on the home stretch.

Starmore seems to think that I should make a second pass at securing the steeks -- having overcast them once with stitches which go like this: / I should go back over the work in the other direction, making stitches which go like this: \ and thus cross the first ones. I don't think that's necessary at the armholes, where I seem to have a fair amount of fabric and have largely turned it under, but the front steek seems more precarious so it's probably a good idea. Starmore reduces a steek to two stitches per side, which seems distinctly precarious.

The photographs shows the results of my toils to date.


I got the first 25 of my husband's files converted and moved to the launching platform yesterday -- and then couldn't persuade them to make the crossing into the Palm. I was nearly in tears. But just as I got to the point where I had to switch off and attend to an evening meal, I think I spotted my mistake. We'll soon see.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Beverkey Nichols' Neckline Posted by Hello

Today's picture, while we are on the subject of horrible necklines, shows another interbellum gent  -- this one doesn't seem quite so bad to me as yesterday's Prince of Wales. He is Beverley Nichols, and the picture is the frontispiece of his Autobiography, "Twenty Five", published in 1926. People who were around to read British women's magazines in the 1950's will remember his name well.

His neckline seems to be a sort of facing with a small Fair Isle motif, clearly, somehow or other, knit separately and attached.

My Knitting

Just to keep you posted -- I finished tidying one sleeve-hole of the Fair Isle jacket last night, and then dealt with the yarn ends down the corresponding sleeve "seam". I started tidying the other sleeve-hole steek, but haven't finished that. I should manage it, along with the yarn-ends, this evening. Then I think I'll do the edges of the front steek before I pick up stitches for the button bands, but leave the neck-tidying for the very last. One great advantage of a cardigan is that all the body yarns were attached in mid-steek and won't have to be dealt with one-by-one.


In London we bought an up-to-date Palm on which my husband means to store his magnum opus so that he can have access to the whole thing when looking up niggling points in libraries. It is a thoroughly wonderful little machine, about the size of a RyVita. (It's neither a camera nor a telephone, which keeps the size down.) Yesterday I got it talking to my computer, and started on the job of getting my husband's files into it. Every one of them, and there are hundreds, has to be loaded into my computer, thereby upgrading it from his old DOS-based system to a modern format, and then saved as a Word file which the Palm can read. It will take me the rest of my life. Maybe I can compose a macro of some sort.

I profoundly lament the demise of the computer manual, a literary form I used to adore. I fell I am going to be floundering around for a long time, stumbling on features of this terrific little machine, instead of reclining in my bath and getting an overview, as I would once have done. Yes, I could print out the Adobe PDF manual, but ink is expensive and I don't want to.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Prince of Wales (as was) Posted by Hello


I can't remember ever liking weekends.


I finally finished off the second cuff of the Fair Isle jacket, and am now tidying cut steeks, not a very photogenic occupation. I was surprised, nay, alarmed, to find an inch and a quarter or so of patterned fabric inside, where the sleeve joins the body. Not exactly a steek problem, but a matter of having maybe followed the wrong stitch when I was picking up the sleeve stitches. However, it seems to have happened on both sides and, more importantly, the whole thing looks even. Maybe I'm OK. I think I've been sloppy about this job, knitting it for winter comfort and for stash reduction without paying enough attention to the details which contribute everything to the result.

There will still be the front bands and neck band to knit when the inside is tidy. My sister told me once that the wine you find left in the bottle when you've had your pudding and coffee is called "King Olaf's Soup". That's how I feel about the knitting left over at the very end of a project like this one that requires a lot of tedious finishing.

The Prince of Wales

In London, we saw a picture by Sir William Orpen of the Prince-of-Wales-Before-This-One in a golfing sweater. It's in an exhibition currently on at the Imperial War Museum. The picture belongs to the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews. It appears above, I hope (I haven't tried to take the photograph yet). It's not the famous Fair Isle sweater; that portrait of the Little Man, reproduced in many a knitting book, was painted by Sir Henry Lander, an artist unknown even to my husband, which is a pretty rarefied level of obscurity.

This sweater is Shetland -- a simple geometric design in natural colours. The pattern repeat is about 2 1/2", I would guess. The fun thing is that the pattern seems to flow continuously up the sleeve and into the body. That is because the pattern is both horizontally and vertically symmetrical, so the designer has been able to take advantage of the squareness of a knitting stitch in colour work to calculate a join -- there is clearly a seam at the dropped shoulder line -- where the sleeve stitches can be connected to the body rows, one for one, and the pattern appears to be uninterrupted.

The very same trick that Meg Swansen employs in the cover sweater of the current Woolgathering!

My husband is no knitter, but he has a sharp and critical eye.  He commented on that feature as if I might not have noticed it. But I had.

(Assuming the photograph appears): Isn't the neckline horrible?


Sunday, April 17, 2005

...and Back Again

safe and sound and exhausted.


I didn't finish the travel sock, but I got a fair amount done, round the heel and onto the home stretch. I love Lang Jawoll, and no longer so sadly lament the demise, or absorbtion into something else, of Socka Colors.

We saw a lot of art in London (hance the exhaustion) but only one item of knitterly interest, which I will report on soon. I can't scan the image from the exhibition catalogue, out of respect for its binding, but I should be able to photograph it and at least give you a rough idea.


We saw lots of family, of whom the most engaging was Thomas-the-Younger. He is now five months old, and has a broad smile which implies that YOU are the person he has been waiting to see. He will go far in life if he can hang on to that. My sister was there, and said she missed the Blog, although she understood the reason (=that I was in London, as she was). She is probably the most faithful of my ten or a dozen readers. It was odd to hear her say it, like meeting oneself on the stairs.


Ann asks why I can't reply. When a comment is made via the Blogger system, it is relayed to me as an email (I have to check the Blog myself for the Halogen ones). I think maybe Blogger has changed things recently, so that replying is sometimes possible. Certainly yours came, Ann, in a format I could reply to, and the other comment on my last post was deliberately anonymous, an option Blogger wisely provides. When I first started this caper all the emails arrived anonymously. I happily replied to each one before I noticed that my answers were going into the Blogger Anonymous Basket.

Camilla: the other comment asks, why not Camilla for Queen? and I couldn't agree more. I think she is an admirable woman, who will make the Prince of Wales a good wife and the nation a good Queen Consort. I also think (paradoxically) that the marriage cost her more than it did him, altholugh it elevated her at a leap from commoner to senior royal. She already had the love of her prince, and I am sure all the diamonds and horses a woman could require. She had to give up privacy and expose her fragile (I think) nerves to constant public scrutiny and also will have to spend a lot of time doing boring things and smiling through it. The Prince, on the other hand, has lost nothing and gained much. Whereas I am sure Diana never cared for Prince Charles himself, or was ever very interested in him. She was dead keen from the beginning on the idea of being Diana, Princess of Wales, however.

(I didn't buy or read those Andrew Norton books, but I looked at one in a railway station once and found that she complained that Prince Charles took a BOOK along on their honeymoon on the royal yacht. The complaint, of course, was made years after the event. It was a slight she had suffered and remembered. Crikey.)

But we have had centuries of blameless Queens and Queens Consort recently, and I was taken aback, no more, last Sunday when I heard the joke which I repeated in my last Blog, at the idea of having a Queen -- a Queen -- of whom such a thing could be said. I recalled it over supper one evening in London last week -- Alexander and Ketki had heard it too, and agreed that it was funny -- and said that the Queen would probably be willing to part wioth a good few Canaletto's not to have a daughter-in-law people could make such jokes about. "Or a son", Alexander said. Rightly.

Monday, April 11, 2005

...on to London

...I'll try to log in from there with an unillustrated message, if I get access to a computer during the week. We're staying with Alexander and Ketki -- he makes his living from computers, and strenuously keeps his mother away from his ones, but I may get a chance at our daughter Rachel's house at some point.


Three, yesterday! Beat that, Queer Joe! They came to me in Unanswerable Email form. Maureen stumbled on us looking for Wonderful Wallabys -- the news there, Maureen, is that Fergus' WW shrank irretrievably after the first washing, and has been passed on to his much younger cousin, Thomas-the-Younger (aet. 5 mos.).I've got lots more of the yarn, and will knit Fergus another a.s.a.p. But "p" in knitting doesn't always come quickly.

Ann and Linda wrote about the royal wedding. Ann is soon to be a mother-of-the-bridegroom, unenviable role, except that it's cheaper than the other one, and hopes to look as elegant as Camilla did on Saturday. Linda expresses general doubts and lack of enthusiasm, which I must say I increasingly feel. I mean, they're soulmates, absolutely made for each other, and I never liked the other one, from the beginning. But -- Queen?

There was an ugly joke on a satirical program we watched last night. Saturday was the day of the Grand National, and indeed the Queen herself began her speech at the wedding reception, we are told, by letting everybody know who won. The satirist -- this was mainstream, network British television, so it must be all right to repeat -- sort of wove the two together: "...owned and trained by Andrew Parker Bowles, ridden by the Prince of Wales."



Sunday, April 10, 2005

I think I'll skip an illustration again today, although all went smoothly yesterday. When I was having trouble the day before, there were no error messages, nor did the program seem to try and then fail. It just wouldn't do it.

I didn't get much further with the ribbed cuff yesterday, although I did rip the first attempt out and got the decreases right. I discovered a few rounds on, that I've used the wrong grey for the first stripe. Wrong, at least, in that it doesn't match the other sleeve. I'm leaving it, for the moment, as yet another Design Feature. It won't take long to frog and change if I decide afterwards that it looks too silly.

I tidied up the coloured yarns and put them back with the rest of the stash. My Shetland Jumper-Weight collection looks entirely undiminished. I didn't buy a single inch of yarn for this project -- it's all done with stuff left over from the second millenium, and the finished weight of the garment is appreciable. But I've still got just as much yarn as I started with, it would seem, and it's sort of depressing. I don't think I actually finished a skein of a single one of the pattern colours. I did better with the background ones, of which there were fewer.

Royal Wedding

I watched some of it. I still remember having to miss the actual exchange-of-vows at the Prince's first wedding because I had to drive to Birmingham Airport to fetch my husband home from some trip. The streets were utterly deserted, I remember, except for a couple of chaps walking their dogs.

This time everything was very nice, but I was surprised at how strong a note emerged of sadness and doubt, although all the reporters were smiling away in their nice clothes and genuinely wished the couple well, I believe. I wondered how it looked with American commentary. Even more doubt, I imagine. I thought Camilla's clothes were marvellous. When I grow up I'll go to her dressmaker.



Saturday, April 09, 2005

Rachel's "Harmony" jacket Posted by Hello

Camilla's Wedding Day

I have always thought it a slightly odd coincidence that both of Prince Charles's choices had pagan names (not a saint's name).


I had a titanic struggle yesterday to get that little picture of my children up. The program I use, called "Hello", wasn't doing things they way it usually does. I think that the fault was at the receiving end. I had another go on Typepad, and feel even cooler. I'm very inclined to think I'll stay here and try to figure some more things out.


I did finish the Fair Isle aspect of the Fair Isle jacket. I then did the wrist decreases wrong -- got rid of too few stitches. And since I started ribbing as I decreased, there's no painless way to do the additional decreases on the next round. Rip it out and try again, this time paying a bit more attention, is the action now required. There are still two evenings to go before London. That should be enough.


On Thursday we crossed Edinburgh to call on my husband's sister. She is a depressive character, and has been depressed lately, so it was a depressing visit. (How rich English seems to be in suffixes.) She needs a cataract operation too, and hasn't done anything about it, and it seemed to me that she has nothing to worry about -- her garden (which means a lot to her, as mine to me) is right outside her door; she has a daughter on the spot -- they live separately, but under the same roof -- who could drive her about when necessary during the recuperation period; and no one will complain at whatever arrangement she makes, whereas my husband's dislike of my optician is, I have come to believe, the major complicating feature of my own situation. But gloom and anxiety of course expand to fill the space available, and she is just as miserable as I am on the subject if not more so.


If Blogger is functioning properly today, I'll out up a picture of my granddaughter Rachel, taken last summer in her "Harmony" jacket. It's a Candace Eisner Strick pattern with which I thought I was assured a gold in the "Child's Cardigan" class at the Games, but I was unplaced. I got some seconds and thirds for various vegetables, which was some consolation.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Us chickens Posted by Hello

I should finish the actual Fair-Isle-ery of the jacket today -- there are only a few rounds left to do at the end of the right sleeve. That leaves the ribbed cuff to do, then what may be weeks of securing ends and tidying steeks, then, finally, the front bands and the neck ribbing. But finishing the Fair Isle is definately a landmark.

If there is a photograph above, it is the one I am using for "wallpaper" this year, taken at the Games last August, showing Rachel, Alexander, James and Helen, in order, with Mungo Drake, Helen's son, in the foreground. I'm not quite sure where it is to be found on my computer, however. If I switch to Typepad I can have photo albums, and one thing to do would certainly be to have orderly pictures of all the people who keep being mentioned here. No more progress to report on the Typepad front. The near approach of a week in London induces a near-panic state in which computer time is spent accomplishing useful things, like balancing bank statements.

My sister and her husband should arrive there today, from Mozambique.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Travel socks Posted by Hello

The state of the current travel socks, destined for Thomas the Elder. Flash photography has done rather well for once. I intend to press hard when we are in London next week, and see if I can get them finished. The contrast toe is because I had only two skeins of lovely Lang Jawoll -- spelling not guaranteed -- which isn't quite enough for a pair of gents' socks the way I make 'em.

I struggled on with Typepad yesterday without making much progress. Perhaps I'll stay here after all. I like the way Blogger gives one complete access (apparently) to the HTML code for one's template. I'd like to choose a stronger color for the things in the sidebar to the right, and then to put in some links to the few patterns of my own which live on my website. I tried Googling once for "knitted First Holy Communion veil" and was surprised that my one didn't come up in the first page or so. Nor did any other, come to that. I got a lot of religious stuff, with the word "knitted" used metaphorically. Perhaps I should try again. I doubt very much whether there are many other patterns out there and it seems a shame that anyone searching for one, shouldn't find mine.

The veil can be seen at http://www.jeanmile.demon.co.uk/veil.htm    I'm really rather pleased with it.

I had my hair cut yesterday in the hopes of looking tidy in London next week. I used to have it long, in a bun, as in the photo to the right, until I broke my right arm two and a half years ago. Alexander and Ketki were in NY at the time: I wrote to tell them that I had had my hair cut of course, and Alexander wrote back to ask what having one's hair cut had to do with breaking one's arm. Then Ketki explained.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Current state of the Fair Isle jacket Posted by Hello

Yesterday I reached the point where I had to re-introduce the unsuccessful colours from the beginning of the jacket into the second sleeve, to make it look like a design feature. The picture above may explain what I mean. I should have taken it yesterday when we had a splendid day with lots of natural light. The weather has reverted to disgusting, and the picture is therefore the flash-bleached usual. There are five more knitting days before we go to London. I should finish the sleeve easily.

I continue to explore Typepad. I've got 30 days free (now 28) before I have to decide whether to go on. I discovered yesterday that the Basic service I've signed up for doesn't let me change fonts or background colour. One thing I really do like about Blogger is its legibility, so that's a downer.


We spent a significant amount of time in the country last week trying to master our new laptop computer. My husband uses an old DOS-based system here, perfectly successfully, but for various reasons wants to move into the present millenium. His old program is Word Perfect 4.1. Miraculously, the modern version, Word Perfect 12, will not only read his old files but will save them back into the old format if required.

Acquiring mouse-skills is proving difficult for him, both as a physical skill and as a mental set. Since we came back, I've looked around a bit and discovered that really quite a lot can be done from the keyboard. We'll try it that way, next time. But how is one supposed to know about such things, now that computer manuals are no more? Looking things up in the Help index is all very well if you know what to look up.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The original "Jamie" sweater Posted by Hello
Rachel's Striped Koigu Posted by Hello

A Day Later

Prince Charles made the right decision, to postpone the wedding -- he had to, but that's easy to say once the decision is announced. It changes the whole aspect of things, and almost redeems the man.

Yesterday was a day of achievement here in Drummond Place -- dispatching a card and birthday present to Rachel's daughter Lizzie, acquiring and fitting a printer ribbon for my husband's obsolete but perfectly functional printer, getting started with Typepad. (The field I was inadvertantly omitting in my previous attempt was the year of my birth.) I think weaving text around pictures is going to work fine. Now I've got to master the rest of it. The Fair Isle jacket progresses well, although the twirling-around-in-lap aspect of things is getting serious as we near the end of the second sleeve.

Above is the current state of the country knitting, Rachel's striped Koigu based on my design for her nephew (my grandson) -- my accumulation of ideas from hither and yon, more like. I'm really awfully pleased, both with the effect of the stripes and with the feel of the fabric. Another stripe or two will bring me to the armpits. Then the stitches for the front will be left behind, and the back knit straight to the shoulder. I'm not tempted to try steeking with a yarn as smooth as Koigu. Things will get mildly more complicated after that, as I'll have to figure out the size and placing of the neck placket. The VK knitting book, and perhaps other texts on my well-furnished shelves, offers some help.  

If I were working in Typepad, I'd put in my fuzzy picture of Jamie's sweater now. Perhaps I'll stick it up there anyway. It's standing up well to wear. His mother Ketki puts it in the machine, on a cold cycle.

I had the idea the other day -- Janis has already heard this -- of knitting a negative-image version of the sweater as a first birthday present for Jamie's brother Thomas-the-Younger, in November. Using, that is, a very-nearly-white yarn for the background. One of the laws of nature, when you knit in stripes, specifies that you never actually finish a skein, so I'll have plenty of colours still available. And according to the Koigu page in the Patternworks catalogue, there are a couple of Aran-y-looking off-whites to choose from.

Monday, April 04, 2005

You see what I mean about the weather... Posted by Hello

And one of those grey days last week was the second anniversary of my mother's death.

Above is the routine picture of the Vegetable Garden Now, as it appeared on Saturday morning. The eyes of faith can perhaps discern rhubarb growing to the left of the pot. It's growing inside the pot, too, and next time we're there we'll have rhubarb to eat. I grew up believing it to be an exotic and expensive luxury. Turned out that my mother didn't like it -- otherwise, it's freely available. Rhubarb can't be forced every year -- too much of a strain. So next year the pot will be moved.


The new UK magazine arrived this morning. And reminder notices from both IK and Knitter's.

I'm advancing smartly down the right sleeve of the Fair Isle jacket. I'd like to finish the sleeve this week, before we go to London. But equally, I hate to have deadlines of any sort for my knitting. I very rarely knit birthday or other presents. We shall see. We'll be in London all next week. London is hard work, and it's not an entirely inviting prospect.

The Pope

This is my fifth Papal death, counting from Pius the 12th. Thomas-the-elder will be 21 this summer. He and, a fortiori, our other grandchildren have never known one before. Our children were all unmarried and indeed still mostly living at home, last time. And the other times, the Papacy was something that happened to old men. Even 58 -- the late Pope's age when he was elected -- didn't seem exactly young to me at the time. But this time round, they are almost certain to elect a man younger than I am.

Edinburgh cathedral is our parish church. Our local Cardinal said Mass yesterday. He regularly turns out for high liturgical occasions, but this is only the second time I can remember his appearing for external reasons. The other one was the Sunday after 9/11. That was an impressive and moving affair. Yesterday, the media were there in force, with much equipment, looking like aliens. I tried to pay attention and not think about knitting and not pick my nose, just in case.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

No Picture Today

We're safely back from the country.

The sun didn't shine all week, not a glimmer (until the drive home ysterday, predictably). It was an odd, grey Easter week -- the parallel agonies of Mrs Schiavo and the Pope, the peevishness of Prince Charles. ("Schiavo" means "slave" in Italian, I think. How could it become a family name?) Now the week of the Prince's wedding will be completely overshadowed by the Pope's dying -- perhaps the only world celebrity who clearly outranks the British royal family. I'm not sorry.

Spring, despite the gloom, is powerfully coiled for action. The grass has taken on that sinister green colour which means that it is growing and will soon have to be cut. The potatoes are sprouting. The snowdrops are over and the daffodils are out.


I made great progress with the striped Koigu -- photo promised soon. I love the effect, and the feel of the fabric. Back at base, I have resumed the right sleeve of the jacket. Sure enough, the colours seem to have gone slightly awry. Tania, thank you for your comment. And Julianne, for yours. I have added both websites to my Favourites list -- click below where it says "Comments (1)" beneath (a) the latest picture of the jacket and (b) the text for Easter Day, for the URLs.

Marian has made an inventory of all the Barbara Venishnick patterns she could find (www.marianknits.blogspot.com), a valuable resource which I shall print and save.


I have been thinking a lot, and have still done nothing. We drove north on Monday in a considerable rainstorm. I decided to let the potatoes rot and go ahead with the cataract operation right now. I can't remember quite why I decided that. Then on Wednesday I had to do a variety of errands, a thirty or forty mile round-trip, just like suburban America, and when I finished doing that I felt, what am I worrying about? That was fine. As the week went on and I got my hands muddier -- many a creeping buttercup and fragment of sinister creeping grass has fallen -- I felt again that I simply couldn't be away from Strathardle for too long in April and May. Or june. Or July. But sight isn't good.