Monday, July 31, 2006

This picture, intended for inclusion in the post above, shows Archie, Mungo and Fergus tucking in to some nachos shortly after their arrival yesterday. They had already had lunch. I include it because you can see my husband's ankle, clad in Socka Color "tealtones", I think.


I like months with 31 days, on the whole. It affords a moment for pulling oneself together.

Not much knitting

I’m a couple of rows further forward with the Long Shawl, and that’s about it.

Helen’s husband David is here, in good form. Helen brought me my first two little courgettes of the season. Here they are, with Mungo on the left, Archie on the right, Fergus in the middle. It turns out that I don't know how to re-size a picture after all, and that two-in-one-post via Flickr doesn't work the way I hoped it would. Maybe I'll try Photobucket tomorrow.

Jamieson and Smith

Sue, in yesterday’s comment, and Helen (not sister), in an email, sent me this interesting link. It sounds as if the future is reasonably well secured. The remarks towards the end about Shetland sheep and the new farm subsidy scheme are particularly interesting.

Most if not all of my own Shetland-yarn-ordering in recent years has been from the other, plain-vanilla Jamieson.

Classical Mythology

The very attentive will remember that under my New Regime, I drink cider only on Sundays.

But every day, I toil on, getting my husband’s Magnum Opus into his Palm Pilot. The bulk of the work is done – I’m now re-doing eight files a day, of the one’s he’s recently revised. And when I finish re-doing them each day, I Hot Sync (as we say) with the Palm.

Sometimes it goes smoothly first time. Sometimes I get an error message saying that my computer (Windows XP) has found a device attached which it doesn’t recognise. Sometimes the Hot Sync fails half-way through. Sometimes it succeeds but the Palm needs to be re-set. Sometimes there is even a Fatal Error. (There’s plenty of room on the Palm still; could the difficulty be that so many hundreds of files are involved?)

What did this remind me of? I kept thinking of Hercules and Antaeus, but that didn’t seem entirely right. Antaeus was the one who needed to be in contact with mother earth, rather like me, and Hercules finally beat him by holding him above his head.

Yesterday, with cider fueling the synapses, I got it. Not Antaeus: Proteus. He was the one who kept changing form, but if you kept tight hold of him, eventually he answered your question.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

James phoned, reunited with his family in Cheltenham. We’ll see them next week, in Strathardle. On the journey north, they plan to have a look at Hadrian’s Wall – which will be a disappointment, or at any rate, nothing to compare with the Great Wall – and a steel mill, an experience I would like to share. James is fond of the Great Wall. One of the best days of our Chinese holiday three years ago was when he drove us about through dusty villages to see un-famous bits of it. Women in the villages were sitting by the roadside doing some rather interesting knitting, too, but they didn't want to be photographed.

I made a bit of progress with Flickr yesterday, perhaps, and will attempt to post today’s picture through them. (It seems to have worked, although I didn't expect it to be so big. I can correct that in future, I think.) It shows potatoes growing on the doorstep. They arrived in early June by post in the form of “microplants”, tiny little spindly things some of which then proceeded to lose their top leaves through damping-off. As you see, they flourish.

We have had the geranium on the right for years. It even got stolen off the doorstep once, but was miraculously recovered.

The potatoes represent varieties which, we are told, growers are not allowed to sell in the form of seed potatoes because they aren’t on the EC Approved Potato List. That may or may not be true, but it makes one feel grown-up. This year’s plants will produce little potatoes which will be next year’s seed potatoes in Strathardle. The varieties are “Shetland Black”, “Fortyfold” and “Witchhill”.

I also signed up with Photobucket, Lorna – they say I have won a free laptop; I don’t believe it – and it looks do-able. But I’ll try Flickr today.


Thank you for a most illuminating comment, Mar. In the old days, before books started to be published in quantity, I always did left-slopers sl1-k1-psso. I moved on to ssk for the most part, once I got the Walker books. But the Long Shawl includes a lot of decreases of which one member is a YO, and it is indeed awkward, and I will this very day take your advice and try working them the old way.

I didn’t get as much done as hoped yesterday, but I have at least begun the sixth and final repeat of the centre section.

Lene, I am touched that you are looking forward to the resumption of the Princess, when blog entries will consist of nothing more exciting than “I finished row 65 yesterday!” for quite a long time. I was wandering around the Heirloom Knitting site yesterday and suddenly found that I was really keen to get back to it. It won’t be long, but I think I’ve got first to fight my way through the current treacle to the end. I’ve got my new blocking wires to look forward to, after all.

On a wholly different matter, I have been corresponding a bit with Myrna Stahman, now safely back in Boise and dreaming still of Lerwick. She says that Jamieson and Smith were bought out, two years ago, by someone called Curtis Wool Direct. She introduces this statement with “as you may know”, so I don’t think I’m betraying a commercial secret.

I didn’t know, and I am distressed to hear it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Well, where are we? I am threatened with nothing-to-say. The sun has left us, for the moment, but the weather remains oppressive. Mood is low.

I spoke to Helen (in the country) on Thursday. It has rained, she said, confirming her son Archie’s report, and my vegetables are in splendid form. They are eating courgettes – a few days earlier than I reckoned when I said goodbye to them ten days ago. She and the boys will be here tomorrow, to meet her husband at the airport. And James, I believe, has arrived from China and joined his wife and children in the midlands.

So what? I am tempted to write. Let us get back to our knitting.

I’m well advanced with the fifth repeat of the centre section pattern of my Long Shawl. Today should bring me within sight of the end. I finished a ball of yarn last night – that’s a real event, the only ball finished in July.

Directional decreases

Myrna Stahman, safely home from Shetland, wrote to the HeirloomKnitting group the other day quoting various people on the subject of directional increases. She promises to improve and repeat the message soon, when she’s caught up on sleep. I was struck with the writers’ meticulousness, which involves swatching and comparing ssk, sl1-k1-psso, and k2tog tbl. The most I would ever do is work a decrease with the slope in the right direction (if I can remember what that is), in whatever way seemed easiest to me at the moment.

I was surprised – I’ve said this before – to learn from Sharon's book that direction doesn’t matter when you’re knitting in fine yarn and garter stitch. The writer of the Paisley Long Shawl says the same thing. But – and here is the meagre point of these paragraphs – it is easier to see the structure of the lace if the charts are done with the directions indicated. Sharon always does it that way; the Long Shawl charts don’t. It’s much easier – as “Mary” says, quoted by Myrna – to read and learn Sharon’s charts, whichever way you decide to do the actual knitting.

I almost got to meet Myrna this week. She was passing through Glasgow on her way home from Shetland. It would have been wonderful to talk to her, and to hear about her experiences up north while they were absolutely fresh. But excessive heat and the need to catch up on life a bit between sessions with grandchildren, were too much for me.

Lene, thanks for your help in yesterday’s comments. Improving my very limited grasp of HTML is very high on my Wannado list. The difficulty with your suggestion, in my feeble understanding of it, would be the question of where to leave the picture. That is, what would its URL be? I could put them on my website at the moment – but that’ll go when I give up my dial-up connection at the end of the year. The whole thing will have to be heaved over to a new site.

I think I know what to do with Flickr now – I’ll try that when I can think of something to take a picture of.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Ted, the Paisley Long Shawl is much too easy for you. Drop that idea. It’s awfully good in every other respect, and would be a great confidence-builder for a lace novice.

I was much struck by Hazel Carter’s “Legends of the Shetland Seas” (I knew of it, of course) on missalicefaye's blog yesterday. The colour she’s using is great, and the pattern looks fully exciting enough to keep one going. I’m going to have a lot of JaggerSpun Zephyr wool-silk left over when I finish my Long Shawl. I bought three two-ounce balls of it, and haven’t yet finished the first one (although I’m getting close).

Blackberry Ridge gives the size of the HC stole as smaller in both dimensions than the Long Shawl (72” by 18” as opposed to 77” by 29”), so if I wind up with half of the yarn left over, as now seems inevitable, I ought to have plenty. Ridiculous thought. Like you, I’ve got plenty of lace on the go. I’ve got to get back to my Princess before it passes the Point of No Return, WIP-wise. But maybe I should at least send for the HC pattern.

What do I like about the Sweater Wizard? Ease of use, I guess, and the fact that the last sweater I made from it, Fergus’s Second Wallaby, fits nicely. It all depends on the dreaded swatch, of course. I did buy an upgrade yesterday, Elaine. I am slightly surprised that it’s coming in the post instead of by download. The clincher was the fact that it now does circular knitting. I’ve still got that Fair Isle for Alexander on my must-start-in-Ought-Six list, and my record of knitting sweaters for him with any claim to fit at all, is pretty low.

The email of acknowledgement was signed “Leah Wulster”. Daughter or daughter-in-law? Does anybody know what happened to Carole, the original programmer? A great person. I met her briefly at Stitches East in ’02. I hope Leah is just helping out in the office.

Lee, your acquaintance with Constantine, Michigan is an absolutely astonishing coincidence. We lived in Detroit during the war years, and often went there to visit. (My parents were terrified that my father’s mother would want to move to Detroit to live with them.) I remember it as pure Normal Rockwell. I haven’t been there since Thanksgiving, 1950, when I went from college in Oberlin, O., to see my grandmother for what proved to be the last time. The Midwest was enveloped in a terrific snowstorm on the Friday, and I had an epic struggle to get away.

My sister was back there not long ago, bringing our father’s ashes. Her husband took some pictures for me, of which the hugely evocative one was that canon in the little park, totally forgotten until I saw it again. I used to climb on it.

I also signed up for Flickr yesterday, but have made only slight progress. It’s mostly geared to sharing photos with Family and Friends (and well suited to the purpose). I don’t see how to post more than one at a time, to a blog. And of course this morning I can’t think of anything at all to take a picture of.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I was allowed one picture today (see below) but Blogger refused the second. This is my new steamer. The beans are mine, too, harvested from the doorstep. Posted by Picasa
I phoned our house in the country yesterday, and spoke to Archie. He said it had been raining. The forecast includes quite a bit of “showers” and “rain” for the next few days, so my crops may be safe. Not a drop here in Edinburgh. Remorseless heat. Sweat and crossness.

Thanks, everyone, for help on teaching Mungo to knit. In his absence, I feel newly empowered. I particularly like the instructions you included, Lorna, for the basics of what to do with the hands at each stage. I knew some of the rhymes, but not “Stab ‘em, strangle ‘em” – I’ll try him on that.

I have scarcely any memory of learning to knit. There was no knitting at home, but both grandmothers did it (I think). I’m pretty sure it was Grandmother Smits in Constantine, Michigan who taught me.

I have a half-memory of being given some stitches on a needle and moving them one by one to the other needle, without knitting. Was that to give me an elementary command of handling needles and stitches? Would that help Mungo? Or was it a ploy to keep me quiet? I think I remember being puzzled as to why nothing seemed to result from my efforts.

Not much news here, otherwise. I’m nearly finished with the third repeat, of six, in the centre section of the Paisley Long Shawl. I looked out some yarn yesterday to mend small holes in two of my husband’s sweaters. (Snags? Or the dreaded m—h?) Colour is interesting stuff. I have a stash of Shetland yarn in skeins and oddballs which must rival Meg’s own, but finding even a roughly near match was a difficult assignment, even for the grey. I’m happy enough with what I found, but I haven’t done the darning.

Elaine, I'll have a look round Sweater Wizard to see if I can find those short rows. I fear my copy may be seriously out-of-date. Could I upgrade? But first I'll look.

I bought a steamer yesterday. I love saucepans.

Don’t miss Franklin on Knitting Camp.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The picture-posting-within-blog of the last two days has evaporated this morning. Here is my huge pile of Malabrigo, with swatch. I like it, but it's too hot and heavy to knit just now. Posted by Picasa
You can see, with some peering, where the pattern turns around. That's part of the scheme of things, not a mistake of mine. Posted by Picasa
Here's where we are at the moment. Posted by Picasa
Helen is now back in Strathardle. She said on the phone last night that – no surprise, here – it’s terribly dry. The weather forecasting page that Lorna told me about, says that there is a thunderstorm in Blairgowrie right this moment, with more showers to come. So I’m hopeful. (A thunderstorm in Blair doesn’t necessarily mean a drop of rain in Kirkmichael, 12 miles away.) I will be tempted to drive up for the day on Friday just to water, if the heavens don’t bring relief.

It’s hot here. Not USA hot, not even London hot, but hot enough to create sweat and inefficiency and bad temper.

I’m glad you like the Farmgirl, Lee. She’s got a great-sounding recipe for tomato salad this morning. I can’t get outdoor-ripened tomatoes here, let alone grow them. And one of my theories of life is that things ripened under glass or (more likely these days) polythene Don’t Taste the Same. Still, I can get British-grown tomatoes which are better than the ubiquitous leather-skinned Dutch ones and have something of that heavenly smell, and try the salad with them.

Anyway, knitting.

I decided to make the v-neck pullover vest in the green Malabrigo, rather than the red Debbie Bliss “Maya”, because the green is somewhat less wonderful and should probably therefore be knit first. Here is my swatch, and the pile of yarn. I seem to have an unconscionable amount.

I generated a pattern in the Sweater Wizard, and have packed it with the hard-backed Vogue Knitting book to take north with us next week. The SW pattern has me cast off the shoulders straight across, which would, I know, make me look as if padded up for football. The Vogue book is to assist in the creation of a gentle slope.

(There must be hundreds of copies of that book on the second-hand market. My request for “Vogue Knitting” produces messages about it from Abebooks and eBay pretty well daily.)

I’ve started on the third repeat of the center section of the Paisley Long Shawl, glad to have lace to knit in this weather. The sticking-out ends show the point of the join. I think it would pass muster even from a slow-moving horse, but I’ll do a better one for Hiawatha.

Helen and those boys will be back here on Sunday, to meet their husband and father off the plane from Thessaloniki. They’ll go north yet again on Monday, and we will follow on Tuesday or Wednesday when we’ve recovered. This is not a suitable house for rampaging about in.

Mungo – the middle one, eight years old – is trying to learn to knit. He’s dead keen, and I’m making a poor job of teaching him. We haven’t got anywhere with the grip – he wants to hold the needles at the end, like oars. I went to John Lewis yesterday and bought some better, shorter needles than the ones Helen got him in Blair, and I’ll look in my stash today for some cheerful multi-coloured yarn. But what I really need is to know how to teach technique. An appeal to Judy Sumner, perhaps?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fergus wasn’t feeling very well yesterday (he brightened in the evening) so we didn’t go to the Royal Museum, and Helen stayed over another day. In the country, with an ailing Fergus, she wouldn’t have been able to exercise and entertain the elder two.

I’m somewhat forrad’er with the Paisley Long Shawl – working the second of six repeats of the interminable centre pattern. Here is a picture of Fergus when I walked into the sitting-room yesterday morning He was holding up my Katcha-Katcha and clicking it merrily. “What’s this for?” he asked. It’s for keeping my place in the 20-row pattern. (His brother Archie told me that it registered “11” when Fergus started in on it. Archie doesn’t go in for missing tricks.)

Blogger seems to have turned over a new leaf, picture-wise. Thank you for the suggestion about Flickr, Xmasberry. I have often thought of using them and will probably do it soon. I love those little grids of changing pictures.


My sister points out, with the acumen which has taken her to the top of her profession, that I can finish the gansey for Helen, and knit Ketki another one. (See yesterday and the days before.) It would be by no means an ideal solution, but it is certainly preferable to ripping out months of work. I’m not being sarcastic: this obvious solution hadn’t occurred to me. Theoretically, it means that I could go on knitting right now, but it’s sort of a fiddle to get the stitches off the needle, and I think I’ll wait until I see Ketki and can try it on her. So I have flicked through Cheryl Oberle’s “Folk Vests” book, but everything is too fancy for present purposes. I’ll need to get that swatch done and run it through the Sweater Wizard before we go north again, probably on Monday.


I continue to follow the adventures of the Farmgirl with avidity. Have a look at those striped blister beetles on July 17, if you want to see horrible. And they’ve had a bad storm which blew down trees and destroyed the greenhouse. Late courgettes and small potatoes aren’t quite in the same league.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Look at that! -- and marvel both at the content, and at the fact that Blogger let me post them.

Helen is here in Edinburgh with her three boys. She’s not far off Ketki’s size, so I had her try the gansey on, last night. And, as you see, it fits fine. So the only thing to do is to wait until I see Ketki herself next month, and try it on her.

Otherwise, not much knitting yesterday. Or today, probably. Helen wants to knock off some shopping, and I am going to take the boys to the Royal Museum which is one of those magical places with a dodo and Islamic tiles and pretty well everything in between, including some fine Shetland lace in the Museum of Scotland section. I doubt if that would interest them much.

I didn’t even order the extra skein of Anya’s Garden yesterday. Age is rapidly eroding my ability to multi-task, which was never very high.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Family pictures today: no knitting. And I'm getting pretty tired of not being about to post them inside the blog. This one shows Rachel, the eldest of our four children, reading on the lawn last week with Lizzie, the youngest of her four.Posted by Picasa
Helen, lighting the candles on her son Mungo's eighth birthday cake.  Posted by Picasa
Rachel's son Joe, who turned 16 yesterday, is teaching his cousins Fergus, left, and Mungo, standing, to play rugby. Posted by Picasa

I didn’t think about it any more. I thought a bit about what I’m going to knit when we next go north – next week, D.V. I remembered that I bought yarn for my Games-entry shrug three times before actually knitting it of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. I think I’ll get one of the rejected candidates out (one is a glorious red Debbie Bliss “Maya” and the other, a green-y Malabrigo or however the hell you spell it) and knit myself a plain vanilla v-necked vest. That’ll be quick, and should allow just enough time for gansey-thoughts to settle. Trouble is, I’d have to swatch….

Paisley Long Shawl

I finished going in one direction, cast off, rejoined the action in the middle, and set off in the opposite direction. The join wasn’t perfect, but it’ll do. Next time – the “Hiawatha” also starts in the middle – I’ll crochet the provisional stitches onto the needle.

I enjoyed all of the blogs you referred me to yesterday, Helen. One is in French! What a lot of good knitting blogs there are in the world! I’ll keep an eye on those other Hiawatha’s.

Ted, that’s a sound and sensible idea, about emailing Blackberry Ridge to ask if I’ve got enough yarn. But I think I’m just going to order another skein from Kaleidoscope today, and end all anxiety. I could leave it until I was actually knitting. I’ll know pretty soon whether I’ll need it, once I’m in action. But maybe by then there will be no more Mongolian cashmere, or no more Anya’s Garden. Who would have thought Debbie Bliss’ “Maya” would have had so short a life?


My cyber-friend Lorna is thinking idly of a knitting retreat we might have in Jedburgh at the beginning of May next year. I hope it happens: it’s a wonderful part of the world and a wonderful time of the year. She tried to write a tentative post on the subject to KnitU but it fell foul of anti-advertising rules. (I used to belong to KnitU myself, but stalked off without a word when a post of mine was rejected.) Anyway, do have a look at Lorna’s blog-entry on the subject, and spread the word.

It sounds as if Franklin is having a good time at camp. He mentions Bavarian Twisted Stitch: my first day at the first of the three such affairs I’ve been to – two Camp Stitches at Lake George, and one Stitches East – was a session on that subject with Candace Eisner Strick, who has since become a friend. It remains a glowing memory, although I’ve yet to make use of the technique. I wish Candace would write a book about it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Not quite! Posted by Picasa
Side view, showing -- in addition to my elegant gusset -- the way a pattern repeat is split but not completely interrupted by the false side-seam.  Posted by Picasa
The gansey isn’t quite big enough.

I feel strangely calm.

It measures 19 ¼” across, at maximum blocking. If Ketki were in fact a seafarer sailing out of Anstruther, that would probably be about right. The old photographs all suggest that they wore them tight. But for a banker relaxing on a Saturday, I fear it’s too snug. Another inch, as a minimum. That’s two inches, in the circumference.

I’ve left the pattern-sweater Alexander gave me, and all my calculations and sketches (note: sketches! Very grown-up!) up north, so it’s hard to proceed. I think I was aiming at 22” across. I’d settle for a bit less. The pattern-sweater was a casual fit on Ketki. A gansey could afford to be a bit closer in.

The pattern-repeat, I can now say with some assurance, is 5 ¾” wide. So I can’t possibly add another complete one. I’ve been working with complete repeats, up to now. I include a picture of the side-seam. Would it matter if the pattern broke off there and then started up again? Or should I start a wholly new gansey with a completely different design?

For the moment, I’m not going to do anything. Perhaps I will even wait until Ketki comes for the Games, and have her try it on in its present state. Then I could decide with something approaching absolute precision, how much more girth is wanted. I can always while away the time up north knitting another stripey Koigu for another grandchild.

Thank goodness for locational WIPs! If I had everything invested in this one, my situation would be dire indeed. But last night I got to within a couple of rows of the end of the first half of the Paisley Long Shawl. I should be steaming off in the opposite direction before the day is done. I no longer intend to block it at the half-way stage and think about length. Enough is enough. It will do fine in its present state as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law.

Meanwhile, on to the next problem…

Blackberry Ridge has sent me Hazel Carter’s Hiawatha pattern, as ordered, and I love it. So that’s settled, as the destination for my Jade Sapphire lace-weight cashmere. BUT I have four skeins, labelled 400 yards each: 1600 yards. The pattern wants five skeins of Blackberry Ridge lace-weight: 350 yards each, 1750 yards in all. Maybe the pattern doesn’t use the whole 1750? Maybe 1600 will be enough? Maybe not.

The Hiawatha could be shortened (it’s very long) but only by leaving out some patterns altogether, not by doing less of a boring centre section, as with the Paisley Long Shawl. I don’t want to do that. I want the whole thing.


The “NatWest Three” appeared briefly on television last night, on their way to a bail hearing. They were wearing ordinary clothes. They were not shackled. And the trial is scheduled for September. They had been telling us that they would be in a Texas jail for two years, awaiting trial. Could it be that they were hamming things up a bit, before they were extradited?

Friday, July 21, 2006

The gansey, yesterday morning -- but see below. Posted by Picasa
The garden, looking south towards the burn. Actually you can't see much in this view except for weeds and long grass. Posted by Picasa
First flowers on the French beans. The beans themselves will be purple, and I have hopes of a modest crop. They should show up nicely in the "Collection of Four Vegetables" class at the Games.  Posted by Picasa
Our first day in Strathardle, last Saturday, was St Swithen’s Day. It was beautiful from beginning to end, and the good saint is doing his best to live up to his reputation. Central Perthshire hasn’t been as stiflingly hot as London, but it’s been pretty warm. I made good use of my new Oriental Gardening Tool, and love it, but the garden implement most in evidence was the watering can. Meanwhile the beans on the doorstep here had a near-death experience from lack of water, but I think they can be saved.


I divided Ketki’s gansey for front-and-back. For the first few rows I tried “combination knitting” – wrapping the yarn the wrong way round, for the purl stitches – and then decided, sod this. It was no fun: getting my mind round the concept of knitting the pattern from behind on alternate rows; remembering how to wrap the purl stitches; working into the backs of stitches which had been purled on the previous row. It was all too much. (The point of "combination knitting" is to bring back-and-forth gauge into harmony with round-and-round.)

However, this all may be academic now. Yesterday morning, Helen and I were ordering sweaters for ourselves from a catalogue, using as our model the sweater Alexander gave me to size Ketki’s from. (It’s got red wine stains down the front but is otherwise in fine shape; it’ll make me a great country sweater once the gansey is done.)

And what with one thing and another, and having the tape measure out as well, I measured across the gansey – which is possible now that front and back are divided – and found that it is far too narrow. It has pulled in, like ribbing, and become much, much narrower than the swatch.

So much for swatching, indeed. I’ve never liked or trusted it. Meg says she never swatches – starts with a sleeve, instead. But you can’t do that with a gansey.

I’ve brought it back here and will today (I hope) take it off the needles, wash and block, and see what we’ve got. Happily, I’ve got the Paisley Long Shawl to comfort me. I finished the hexagons last night and started the little spacer bands at the end. Not much longer to go, on this first half.


All is well. In fact, this is shaping up as one of my best years. The only trouble is, there is nothing to eat yet, except for salads and some rather tough spinach-substitutes. Maybe it’s the way I grow them. Much is promised for next month, but normally we are picking the first courgettes now, and tucking into the potatoes. This year – probably because of the long, cold spring – the courgettes are 10 days or a fortnight away, and the potatoes few and small.

There was no frost (feared as I left, a week ago) but we had had a visit from a deer. (Dolores and her friends would have made very similar footprints, but, and I am sorry to have to say it, far more mess.) It was an idle visit of enquiry, and not much damage was done. Some viola flowers, the tips of the peas, a leaf or two of kale.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Current state of the Paisley Long Shawl Posted by Picasa
I am going to Strathardle today. I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to stand more than a week of it, so I should re-appear towards the end of next week.

Rachel is driving up today with her two youngest children. I’ll go on ahead to meet her and get the beds made. Helen and her three boys will arrive in Edinburgh tonight, and drive on up with my husband tomorrow. She has been delayed a day by a previously-arranged hire car which couldn’t be brought forward.

This arrangement sounds simple, but now that we are eyeball-to-eyeball with it, involves multiple decisions, list-making, and note-writing.

Anyway, here’s the Paisley Long Shawl. I’m halfway through the hexagon panel, and pleased with it. That's the last major pattern panel.


Charlotte, thank you. I’m sure you’re right that my knowledge of the American court scene is based soundly on fiction, and am very glad to hear that prisoners in court appear neatly dressed in civilian clothes. The British, however – at least I think this is the case – distinguish unconvicted prisoners on remand from convicted criminals, and people in the former category wear ordinary clothes all the time. The “NatWest Three” are now in Houston and have been issued with green boiler suits appropriate, we are told, to accused foreigners. They will learn today whether they get bail, which at the best will confine them to Texas. The case will apparently take two years to prepare. They are ruined men even if eventually acquitted.

Helen, thank you for the pointer to the Yarn Harlot. I never read her comments because there are always so tremendously many of them. I would have missed that, and feel awed and honoured to have been included. The assignment was to invite any three knitters, dead or alive, to dinner. I think I’d have an all-male line-up: Kaffe and Franklin and Ted.

Lorna, I will give the beans a good soaking before I leave. I’ve got potatoes growing on the doorstep, too – microplants -- and will do the same for them. They’re looking good. The radio said this morning that there was a touch of frost in the northern glens last night and the night before. My husband says that won’t be us, just further north. We shall see. My vegetables are in something of a frost pocket, down there by the burn. This is supposed to be the one month in the twelve when Frost Doesn’t Happen. Poof. The current forecast is sunshine all the way.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Runner bean "Hestia" on our doorstep Posted by Picasa
Close-up of baby runner beans Posted by Picasa
Never such a day for things of considerable interest happening in different parts of the world all at once. American readers should know – they probably do – that the extradition of the “NatWest Three” is of major interest here. I have only a dim grasp of the issue, but I suspect that part of the difficulty is that what they are alleged to have done is only “sharp practice” here, but an actual crime in the US. But they are British subjects, and what they did or didn’t do was done or not done here. The US has never, or at any rate very rarely, been willing to extradite to Britain people accused of Irish terrorist crimes.

A thing I don’t like at all is the way Americans often dress accused people up in funny clothes, and shackle them in public. The British are scrupulous in ensuring that an accused dresses and appears in public like an ordinary innocent human being, until convicted. Innocent until proved guilty, is the principle involved. Pictures of the NatWest Three in prison garb will not go down well.

We’re supposed to be talking about knitting, but there’s little of that today. I finished the Large Paisley Pattern on my Paisley Long Shawl, and have launched myself into the Hexagon Pattern. Picture tomorrow, before I depart for rusticity.


My sister has kindly taken an interest in my quest, and I have explained to her the difference, in the old days, between the British and the American magazines, I being interested only in the former. In the course of this she has found an incredibly interesting-sounding WWW2 American knit-for-the-boys book.. With socks. I wouldn’t have spotted it, on my own. It’ll probably go for a million dollars, and I will leave the chase in her hands. It’s very exciting.

WorldPay & Fraud

Thanks for yesterday’s comments, which were very comforting. Inspired by them, I went to the WorldPay website and tried without success to find an Email Us button. In the end, I sent the suspicious item to Heirloom Knitting itself. Ten minutes later Mike Miller rang up to comfort and reassure me. They had heard from WorldPay that such an email was circulating, and he was rather pleased to have an actual example from an actual customer, to send on.

I was desperately grateful. Trouble is, lace yarn is so fine and so slow to knit, that I can’t very well buy armloads of the stuff from them. If I ever decide to fall for Rowan’s Kidsilk “Spray” – striated, I would call it, rather than variegated; rather attractive – I will remember to buy it from Heirloom rather than from Lewis’s up the road.


The most attentive will remember that I am growing beans on the doorstep. They have produced rather pretty flowers lately, as promised in the catalogue. The big excitement yesterday was that I discovered some actual beans.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I’m halfway through the Large Paisley Pattern panel, on my Paisley Long Shawl. It’s getting to be more and more fun, and I am more and more pleased with the whole project. The fact that Paisley motifs aren’t vertically symmetrical keeps things lively. Susoolu, of course you’re right, Sharon has blocking wires. I ordered some yesterday.

Last night at bedtime I got this:
“My name is Dave and I am from the Support of WorldPay. We have received the payment order (ID 0220712,Receipt Date 09/07/2006) from you and we need to make a verification of the details you have filled in, as we have received a notice from your card service stating that there was a chargeback made by the owner of the card with which you have made the payment and that your level of authorization has been altered during your last transaction. This is a very serious matter. We have deducted the amount of the chargeback, GBP 149.89, from your account and added our standard fee of GBP 24.00 as well (you can see your payment details in the attachment).”

It must be phony – I didn’t open the attachment. But Heirloom Knitting use WorldPay, and it was definitely unnerving. The date doesn’t match, as yesterday was 11/07/2006; the order number doesn’t match; and the prose is suspicious, but you never know these days. And I have made other on-line orders in the last few days, notably the Hiawatha Shawl pattern. I sent it to Alexander and Ketki for their comments. They know everything.

Elephants, Again

The other thing the Socklady brought me was a delicious pile of old copies of Threads. Much of the interesting stuff has been reprinted in those compendiums, which I’ve got – but in the last one in the pile, there is an article about knitting motifs by using a cable-stitch to outline some st st on a purl background.

I haven’t sat down with a pencil yet, but I think one could do quite a presentable small elephant that way. Smallness being the issue, you will remember. It wouldn’t be a lacy elephant, but it could be set in a faggoted frame. The author says the one drawback is that you can’t do a horizontal line, but I think I know a workaround for that one.


Palm Pilot work went smoothly yesterday. Never ask the computer to communicate with the Palm when the latter isn’t fully charged; always do a Hot Synch after one’s day’s work and before switching off; always exit Documents to Go by hand, before switching off. Which of those maxims, if any, have any relevance to my problem? I’m fumbling in the dark.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Jade Sapphire cashmere... Posted by Picasa
My new Koigu! Another stripey sweater for another grandchild? Posted by Picasa
My Oriental Garden Tool which I love already Posted by Picasa
We’re living again…

--With all those sporting events at last played out, Our Soap has been restored to the television screens.

--Yesterday I finished re-entering all my husband’s document files into Documents To Go, which is now responsible for keeping them up to date on the Palm Pilot while I return to the task of importing up-to-date versions of the ones he’s been revising. Why did Documents To Go forget my earlier work?

--And Helen should arrive in London today, from Thessaloniki, with all her little boys. She will travel north at the weekend, and so will Rachel with two of her children, and I will be reunited with my vegetables.


I finished the 32-row “Small Paisley Pattern” on my Paisley Long Shawl, and tonight will begin the 32-row “Large Paisley Pattern”. It’s much more fun now that I have, for the time being, finished the tedious centre.

It occurs to me that all is not lost, on length. When this half is finished, I have to undo the waste yarn and set off in the opposite direction to do the other half. The join will be inconspicuous, but discernable. But I could perfectly well lengthen or shorten the shawl by adding or subtracting repeats in the second half. The join wouldn’t be dead centre any more, but so what?

I think the thing to do is take it off the needles when the first half is finished, do a proper blocking, and consider options. The pattern says to use blocking wires, pointing out that pins will create little points along the edge. I think the designer is right, and I must set about acquiring some. I love crawling around on the dining room floor with a box of dressmaker’s pins, and the lace I knit usually has scallops, so the issue hasn’t arisen before. I wonder if blocking wires are available in the UK.

I asked my sister-in-law once if I could knit her a shawl, and she said no, she didn’t want one, but added that she wouldn’t mind something she could wear when reading in bed. For that purpose, great length is probably undesirable. We shall see.


Here is my Jade Sapphire, colourway “Anya’s Garden”. And here is my new Koigu. See the entry for Saturday the 8th. (For "here" read "there". Yesterday's miraculous picture-upload didn't repeat itself this morning.)

The Koigu represents some de-stashing on the Socklady’s part. I asked her to bring the cashmere. It was meant to be a simple order, delivered to her, but wound up being immensely complicated, for reasons I have now forgotten because she dealt with them all.

My plan of – at that point, the doorbell rang, and guess what? My Oriental Garden Tool from Pinetree is here! That’s almost impossible. It looks utterly wonderful. I will have to get myself a big straw hat.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Not much knitting yesterday – the men’s singles final was too exciting. And we even watched the penalty shoot-out that ended the World Cup. That’s that for sport, as far as I’m concerned, until next year’s international rugby.

Here is the current state of the Paisley Long Shawl. I’m enjoying it more, now that I’ve got to a more interesting passage. Will wonders never cease! Blogger accepted a picture!

Esther, that’s a very good idea, that Hazel Carter’s "Song of Hiawatha" stole might be the answer for my Jade Sapphire lace-weight cashmere. I think I’ll go ahead and order it today. I wandered around Blackberry Ridge for a while, while I was there – I’ve knit their patterns before, and like them a lot. But I didn’t see anything else, for this particular purpose.

The yarn isn’t fine enough, I’m sure, for HC’s Sampler Stole in “Gathering of Lace”. Judith has sent me pictures of hers. It’s stunning. (jean at milesandmiles dot demon dot uk or miles dot jean at googlemail dot com)

It also occurred to me, that the new XRX book about Victorian Lace will be out before I actually launch myself into this project. Or should be. That’s clearly one I’ll have to get. What is it about the photography which is so irritating? Technically, it’s splendid, so I think it has to be the models AX chooses, and the vapid expression he requires of them.


It’s not that I’ve lost interest – it’s that there’s nothing on offer at the moment except ones I’ve already got. I’m “watching” some of them, and recording prices and bidders in a so-far-vain attempt to find some sort of pattern.

Somebody is clearing and sorting the contents of an apartment on the street where my husband’s Artist used to live, in London. I have high hopes that some juicy VKB’s will turn up there.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The general view, last Wednesday morning. Note the manicured lawn in which the vegetables are set -- that's my handiwork, too. Posted by Picasa
Potatoes, apparently in excellent health and spirits Posted by Picasa
The opium poppy, first of the season Posted by Picasa