Thursday, June 22, 2006

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Where to begin?

Start with the worst. The gansey book arrived yesterday. It’s more a pamphlet than a book – 32 pages long. There’s nothing seriously wrong with it, but it doesn’t turn out to contain anything that I needed to know, and most of the pictures aren’t clear enough to convey much information. Reproducing old photographs of dark-coloured sweaters with fine knit-and-purl detail, is not easy.

The “worst” is that it cost NINETEEN POUNDS. Not second-hand as a bibliographical knitting rarity. Not at the end of a crazy bidding session on eBay. Nineteen pounds, new. Caveat emptor, is what I say -- “32 pages” must have been mentioned somewhere in the description, and I didn’t spot it. It was published in 1983 and no wonder it didn’t sell. It would be seriously expensive at half the price.

So, not recommended.

(I have tried a new approach, for illustration, this morning -- posting the picture with "Hello" first, then adding text.)


I did the second cuff to match the first, and am now picking up stitches around the body. I’m sure I can do it all at once, in a circle. Unlike the sleeve ends, the problem now is that there is too much shrug, so to speak, for the number of stitches I am allowed to pick up. This time, I am doing it carefully, ripping out when necessary, acquiring exactly the specified number. The whole thing at the moment looks floppy and out-of-control. A trim ribbed edging may be the making of it.

There is an interesting article about silk in the Knitty archives. It is remarkable that anyone ever figured out that a thread could be spun from those unprepossessing cocoons.


Thank you for all the help and advice. My essential difficulty is that this involves a whole new mind-set, compared to bidding (either in person or by proxy) at the local auction house – giving away one’s maximum at the start, and trusting eBay not to bid that high if it turns out not to be necessary.

I’ve heard of, Yvonne – the people who do split-second last-minute bidding on one’s behalf. Why not? I’ll have a look, anyway.

The state of play at the moment is:
1) VKB no. 40, which I don’t have, is coming up tomorrow evening at about 10. There’s no bid yet except my “killer” one – to be distinguished from “nuclear”. It’s not as early an issue, and therefore not as choice, as the one that got away from me for that absurd price early in the week. Maybe I can just sit back and let the killer bid do its work.

2) VKB no. 39, which I do have, is coming up on Sunday evening. It looks like a good copy, with cover, whereas mine is particularly tatty, no cover, pages loose. I’ve put in a non-killer bid – again, there is no other bid yet, but if someone else wants it, they’re welcome. Bidding up on that one would be collector-ism at its worst.

3) The war-time one, no 23, ends at 10 am on Monday. I haven’t bid. I really want it. I’ll have to give some serious thought as to what a nuclear bid would be. Anyone who can afford nineteen pounds for “They Lived by the Sea” ought to be able to go pretty high. Esnipe would reduce the nervous stress.


Thank you, Esther. I’ve got the Fall 2000 IK, and will look up Gibson-Roberts on combined knitting. I had already thought of going down a needle size for the back-and-forth bits: rather, a commenter had already suggested it. The purl rows must be where the looseness dwells, so it makes good sense, Janet and Yvonne, to drop a size on the purl rows only.

Fortunately, we have a rare (for us) social event in a neighbouring glen on July 1st, so we’ll have to go back north next week and my vegetables will get weeded. Things get busy here this time of year, even for us, and if it were not for that date, we might be tempted to linger on.

Old friends from Birmingham are coming today, staying two nights. I have spent the last two afternoons purging the spare room and near-by lavatory. They’re looking much brighter. I’ll go for Jamie Oliver’s “Tender and Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes”, from “Jamie’s Dinners”. Very easy, very tasty, all in one pot.

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