Sunday, December 31, 2006

I’m sorry to say goodbye to Ought Six. It’s been a good one, despite the broken arm.

We got to Thessaloniki and back…

We “did” Christmas…

And we won the Calcutta Cup.

Calcutta Cup

Best wishes for Ought Seven to everybody, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring.

This is what I’ve knit this year:

A First Holy Communion veil for granddaughter Rachel, in Beijing. Her sister Kirsty’s initials have been included as well.
A Nudibranch scarf, test-knitting Lorna's fun pattern.
A striped Koigu, rugby-shirt style, for daughter Rachel.
A 70th-birthday shawl for my sister Helen, Gladys Amedro’s “Cobweb Lace Wrap” for shape – an elongated triangle; patterns from Sharon Miller’s “Heirloom Knitting”.
A shrug of Debbie Bliss’ Pure Silk, and her pattern, as my entry in the Home Industries Tent at the Strathardle Highland Games in August. It was unplaced. The object was then bestowed on granddaughter Helen.
The “Paisley Long Shawl”, a Christmas present for my sister-in-law.
A “therapy scarf” – feather-and-fan of Debbie Bliss “Maya” – as I recovered from breaking my left arm in September. It wound up as a Christmas present for daughter-in-law Ketki.
A watchcap, rather small, in brioche stitch, same yarn; a Christmas present for granddaughter Rachel.
A vest for myself of green-y Malabrigo.
ONE pair of socks, for daughter-in-law Cathy.

On the needles:

A sweater celebrating Scotland’s victory in ’06 in the annual Calcutta Cup rugby match against England, for son Alexander; see above.
A gansey for his wife Ketki.
A pair of socks, for some gent.

If my records are accurate, I’ve dispatched – knit, or lost, or given away – 105 balls or skeins of yarn this year, and only welcomed home 85. That’s pretty good. There’s a chance that I may polish off an oddball of charcoal grey Shetland jumper weight this evening, too. That would bring the total to 106, which would be appropriate.

I used to send reports like this, in all their tedium, to the Knitlist. Last year, I didn’t write it down at all. The main usefulness of such an account for myself, is to keep a printout in the file where I also keep untidy and incomplete records of what I have knit, patterns, yarn samples, incomprehensible notes. So this year I’ll print this message. When I am looking back to find the record of a particular project – which happens surprisingly often – it helps to have a summary-of-the-year, now that there are so many years.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Not much knitting today, either. I’ll post a picture of the Calcutta Cup sweater tomorrow, to round off Ought Six in appropriate fashion. It’s inching its way forward.

Current Events

I have always been horrified by the death penalty, but it wasn’t until I read Brendan Behan’s play, “The Quare Fellow”, that I was able to put a finger on what’s wrong: namely, that the normal human conscience is revolted by the taking of a defenceless life. I think the BBC announcer was expressing something of the same idea this morning, when he allowed himself a brief snort of amusement at President Bush’s idea that an execution can be a step on the road to “democracy”.

More Xmas

James sent me some Xmas pictures yesterday. Here I am, pruning an apple tree. I like this one. The pose flatters the figure – and just look at that left arm! Thank you for your concern about it, Lorna. I’m doing fine, I think. It’s still weak and sore, but getting better and more functional, day by day.


The red secateurs add an artistic coup de rouge, don't you think?

And here are two of the ones he stopped to take on the way to Mass on Christmas morning.




Marty52, Grumperina has been on my Favorites list for a while now. She’s good.

Catherine, the Scottish New Year isn’t what it used to be. I’m glad in a way – in the old days, it would have lasted all next week. As late as the 60’s, England scarcely celebrated the New Year and Scotland was pretty casual about Christmas. But now, due no doubt to the forces of commerce, Christmas is big here, and the New Year is big, too, in a party-and-fireworks sense which leaves little time and no strength for the old-style First Footing.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Here we are again. Christmas was wonderful.

By a special dispensation, bordering on the miraculous, the east of Scotland was spared the weather which afflicted the rest of the UK (and nearly closed Heathrow). We had day after day of brilliant sunshine and serious frost. “Everything sparkles,” as Rachel the Younger observed.

This was dawn on the 19th, our first morning there...

Xmas06 001

And it went on like that. James has taken up astronomy in his middle years – he was able to be out there with a whole sky-full of stars every night except one He showed me Saturn and its rings.

James and his children, Alistair, Kirsty and Rachel, plucking pheasants, below. The communal-activity aspect of this task did not last long. We ate the pheasants on Christmas Eve, and very tasty they were. My husband and I finished them off last night in a rather successful risotto.

Xmas06 004

Christmas Day was the coldest and most brilliant of them all. James stopped his car on the way to Mass to photograph the frost effects – I hope I’ll be able to show you the results soon.

And Christmas itself was The Way It Used To Be. We even went on the Christmas Walk – some of us; Cathy and Ketki stayed behind and reduced chaos to order in the kitchen while we were away. You walk upstream a little bit to the Cultalonie Bridge, then across the burn and down through the farmyard and several fields until you get to Balchrochan, then across that bridge and back upstream through our own land. It was tough going, because of the hard frost. It would have been easier to sink into the muddy ridges than to try to balance on top of them. But we did it, me and my husband, James and Alexander, and Alistair, Rachel and James-the-Younger. Although my husband said, as we went to bed, that that was probably his last Christmas Walk.

This is what it looked like on the morning of the 26th -- no more sunshine; they've all gone away.

Xmas06 015

Not much knitting; a few rows of Ketki’s gansey. I’ve done better with the Calcutta Cup sweater since we got back on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I hope I’m not violating copyright by quoting an eBay description of VKB No. 47. You’ll have to hurry; it closes this afternoon. The current bid is only £40.51:

“This excellent magazine has been well used, and shows it’s age. Sadly the front and back covers are missing (I have not listed the patterns affected by this), the back and front pages are detached and have tears, creases and old sellotape marks down the spine. The centre six pages are loose, but although ‘dog-eared’, the rest of the magazine is in really quite good condition.”

I feel good. That “it’s” was not my idea, either; I’m quoting.

Calcutta Cup Sweater

Julie, I cannot thank you enough for those two references. I spent a bit of time with them yesterday, and got out Woolgathering 72. I really feel I’m making progress.

Meg, in both her sweaters, begins the pattern which is going to run down the sleeves, at the armholes. So she can set her pattern appropriately and doesn’t have to worry about splitting it. Feitelson’s “Ballasound Cropped Jumper”, however, is the real McCoy as far as the Prince of Wales joke is concerned. I had to struggle with her instructions (not because they are not clear, but because I am not good at visualizing knitting when it isn’t in my hands).

I’ve learned two things. She breaks the yarn when she gets to the armholes – so that henceforth the end-of-round new-colour join can come in the middle of one of the armhole steeks. Maybe everybody does that. I hadn’t thought of it.

And she leaves the pattern’s centre stitch behind on a holder at each side, below the centre of the new steek. It will eventually become a “seam stitch” for the sleeve. That's why the yarn has to be broken, I think.

For some reason already forgotten, I have elected to begin each round with the stitch before the centre stitch of the pattern. But I could leave three stitches behind, and I think I probably will.

Both Meg and Feitelson say to join the sleeve one row in, and to match the pattern stitch by stitch as you pick it up, not to try to pick up in the pattern for the next round. That baffled me for a while, but there is a photograph in Woolgathering which makes it clear. Meg says she used to pick up in “the next sequential round”, but now does it this way, implying a fair amount of experience in this sort of thing.

I had been sort of thinking of leaving a whole pattern repeat behind at the armhole, so that the sleeve would be set in. But I think I realized yesterday that that’s absolutely pointless in this situation, since the whole thing is going to flow as if cut from one piece of cloth.


There’s more to say, about the Fair Isle, and about Lorna’s and Jenny’s comments yesterday, but I’ve gone on long enough and a busy day looms. I’ve made all those beds, and dusted a bit, and at least it looks as if we’re expecting someone. The plan is for my husband and me to go back to Strathardle tomorrow, the Beijing Mileses to follow a day later when we’ve got the place warmed up. Once he gets there, James will wi-fi us up to the ears again, and I ought to be able to report in at least occasionally.

In case not, and in case I fail to turn up here tomorrow, Happy Winter Solstice everybody! We made it!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thank you for the link to Amazon, Lorna. I wrote to them, and I have had an answer: go try the sorting office, they say. Well, maybe after Christmas. I replaced the necessary books all right, although it took two Waterstone’s to do it.

I walked down Howe Street on the way home -- we usually go down Dundas Street, past the commercial art galleries -- and found an LYS whose existence I had heard of but whose precise location was unknown to me. It’s a curious place, called McAree Brothers. Large and brightly-lit with a lot of interesting stuff and a somewhat impersonal feel – nothing to do with the pleasant ladies who staff it. I stayed for a quarter of an hour or so; there was no other customer, although Edinburgh was pullulating yesterday afternoon.

I bought some Regia sock yarn to encourage them, not because I needed it. The shade was the only one that seemed even vaguely possible for a gent. I was horrified at the price -- £3.95 per ball. It may well be that I have never bought it over the counter in Britain before. Is it always like that?

sock yarn 001

They had a pleasant yarn called Sublime, in various qualities and with some nice patterns. I had never heard of it.

It is pleasant to know the shop is there, as long as it lasts.


Here’s the Calcutta Cup sweater, proceeding nicely as you see. I’m putting much thought into sleeve holes and neck. Since I’m going to want to continue the pattern down the sleeves without a break, turning it sideways, I think I’m going to have to add an extra stitch, front or back, at each side when I divide for the armhole steek, so that back and front finish at precisely the same point in the pattern. Maybe I’d better have a look at the recent Woolgathering in which Meg employs the same trick. I think I’m going to have to pick up the sleeve stitches in pattern, too.

sock yarn 002 sock yarn 003

And what about the neck? I’ve cooled off on the idea of attempting EZ’s seamless hybrid. A shawl collar, maybe?


Things have been pretty quiet on the VKB front lately. I looked in on eBay last night and found that No 41 was closing in half an hour (they’re meant to tell me, but don’t always manage it). I already had it, but in rotten condition, so I bought this one for a modest £5.50.

I also noticed that No. 48, which finishes tomorrow, is up to £26 already. (110066880859
if you’re interested.) It lacks its cover, and an ad has been torn out. Wouldn’t touch it, myself. But it makes me feel ever so much better to know that silly prices are paid for VKB’s even when I’m not bidding. I really had begun to think that they could somehow see me coming, and lay in wait.

I lack only one post-war VKB, so we’re moving in to the end game. It would be nice, although highly unlikely, if one would turn up next week. My grandson Alistair enjoyed eBaying with me in the summer, and he will be here again. Indeed, arriving tomorrow. Today must be spent cleaning and making beds, once I’ve posted those two books.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I’ve just been re-reading my entries for December,’05. There’s not much about knitting. Nor is there much on that subject to report here. The Calcutta Cup sweater is moving on nicely. I’ll take another picture of it tomorrow.

I have started taking calcium pills – can’t do any harm. Eventually, when the NHS gets around to it, I will have a bone density scan. Meanwhile, I discovered this week that the calcium pill container, emptied, is perfect for sock needles. I’ve got all the No. 1’s in the first one.

calcium pills


I finished the cards yesterday, and dispatched two more parcels. Parcel-dispatching can't be concluded yet as Amazon has let me down. (More likely, the Royal Mail has let Amazon down, but I can’t find anywhere on their website to send an actual email to an actual human being to say so.) The books were nothing very fancy, and there is every hope that I can buy them on Princes Street today and struggle with Amazon later.

I do so agree with you about Christmas cards, Lene. I enjoy getting in touch with old friends, however briefly. I am irritated by the socially-necessary ones to people I see regularly. What’s the point? There may be a difference between nationalities here, maybe just between families. My husband’s sister would be profoundly hurt if we didn’t send her a card as well as giving her a present. She’s right here in Edinburgh and we see her often, including more than once during the holiday period; there’s no news to exchange. My sister doesn’t expect a card – if she ever did, which I doubt, she certainly doesn’t by now. And I would, I think, be profoundly hurt if I got one from her. Cards, in my book, are for people a little more distant than one’s very nearest and dearest.

But it’s a tricky time of year. Best to go with the flow.

And yes, Sue, the neighbour who took yesterday’s picture is a member, although only by marriage, of the family which has caused us so much grief. Neighbouring is a tough assignment, especially in the country.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12-14-2006 08;14;10AM

Our Strathardle neighbours’ Christmas card – the dog is running along the Old Driveway. Our property begins behind that gate, which one of them put up to be annoying during the 10-year struggle of wills over the right-of-way question. Our lawyer said at one point that our new driveway cost us as much (in his fees) as an equivalent stretch of the M6. The gate has warped and doesn’t even shut properly, not that there is anything for it to shut either in or out. Still, it’s a nice picture.

I finished the Malabrigo vest – a last FO for Ought Six. I pretty well achieved what I set out to achieve. It fits well, and is deliciously cosy. I think I will wear it.

Malabrigo 001

I don’t like contemplating myself in any mirror, because I am old and fat. The armholes are not cut in enough, so that the vest overlaps the upper arm instead of staying neatly on the shoulder. At least I was successful in short-rowing the shoulder cast-off, so it doesn’t stick out like epaulettes.

Tonight I will return to the Calcutta Cup Fair Isle.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That went well. Driving was surprisingly comfortable and secure, insofar as driving is ever secure. Everything seems in good order in the house, despite our three months’ absence. A bit of natural light does cheer one up, this time of year. Somehow it doesn’t work as well in the city.

december 005

That is how my vegetable garden looked at breakfast time yesterday. One really does occasionally worry, this time of year, that God has simply forgotton to turn the day on.

We bought a Christmas tree – that’s a big step forward. It’s got to be Norway spruce, they sell all sorts of fir trees these days; and it’s got to be rooted. We have spent the considerable majority of Christmasses in Strathardle, since our first one in 1963, always with such a tree. After three or four years it gets too big, and is put out to pasture somewhere. We wish now we’d kept a diary and map of them all. We both feel sure that they all lived.

My arm is having a great time, released from constriction. I think the orthopod was right, that I don’t need physiotherapy. I can now raise it above my head, stretching almost as far as the other arm. It’s uncomfortable. I do it a couple of times a day, for practice. The behind-the-back element of things is taken care of by fastening bras and tying aprons. I think the answer is that there are fractures and fractures.


I finished the knitting of the Malabrigo vest while we were there, mattress-stitched the shoulders, and brought it home to do the sleeve-hole and neck ribbing. Picture soon.

And resumed Ketki’s gansey. I wanted to get that well going, so that I could knit it when the house party assembles next week without having to abstract myself too much. I got back into the swing of the stitch pattern (“Mrs Laidlaw’s pattern” from Gladys Thompson’s book) easily enough, and there’s no mark where the knitting lay untouched for months, probably because the stitches were on waste yarn rather than a needle.

december 002 december 003

But I haven’t much idea what to do next. I have divided it at the armholes, and am knitting the back. The neckline is rapidly approaching. I have pages and pages of unintelligible notes, and even a couple of sketches, very grown-up. I can't make any sense of them. I read Brown-Reinsel and re-read and re-read again, and made a couple of decisions which I wrote down, with page references. We shall soon see.

december 001

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Knitting Curmudgeon has produced the winning entry for the 2006 Bad Taste in Knitting Prize (scroll down her Blog a bit to see it). We’re not even going to interview any more candidates. I propose to nominate the Curmudgeon for a Lifetime Service Award for finding it.


At my previous orthopedic appt in November, apart from losing my knitting, I was disappointed to be sent away with a come-back-in-four-weeks. Yesterday, to my astonishment, I was discharged. I’m finished; cured. The arm is not as strong or as mobile as it’s going to be (I hope) but it’s doing very nicely. I could see the improvement in the xrays myself. If it were a leg bone, he said, I’d now be walking on it.

For the last eight weeks, after two weeks in plaster, I have been wearing a plastic carapace on my upper arm. Now I’m not. Its removal has increased the comfort and usefulness of the arm no end. He didn’t prescribe physiotherapy – he seemed to think the normal activities of life would gradually take care of things. I’ll make some effort, anyway, to swing the arm around a bit. I can’t comfortably raise it even to shoulder height yet. I can fix up physiotherapy locally if I think I need it, he said – the new Infirmary is a long way away.

So we’ll go to Strathardle tomorrow; the Blog should resume on Tuesday. Discomfort on changing gear, as experienced on the way to the supermarket on Wednesday, is muscular, the nice man said. Gear-changing can’t hurt the bone. My husband was worried about that.


I didn’t get as much sock done yesterday as I might have hoped. I was there a long time, but one keeps getting called to move on, from the Initial Waiting Room to the Xray Waiting Room to the Waiting to See an Actual Doctor Waiting Room, with consequent interruption to the smooth onward flow.

But I’m somewhat forrader with the Calcutta Cup sweater, and satisfied, if not overwhelmed with delight, at the current state of things. I will proceed like this, with the pattern distinctly visible, and only small changes as we go along in the colours of pattern and background.

Before and After

CalcuttaCup 004 CalcuttaCup 006

This is the fun part of knitting a Fair Isle jumper, just going peacefully round and round. The underarm and more Decisions will arrive all too soon.

Kate, thanks for your comment. Meg recommends using sleeves as a sort of swatch – she claims not to do proper swatches, herself, which is rather endearing. I can’t do that here, since the sleeves are going to be done top-down. I’ll keep on worrying about the size. And the neck. Getting that right is rather important.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I had a lovely time at Waitrose.

The car started first touch (a five-year-old Skoda; we’re fond of it). Driving is perfectly do-able, my grip on the steering wheel more secure than might have been expected. Changing gear is uncomfortable, but the discomfort doesn’t last once the gear-changing is over. This afternoon is to be spent at orthopedics again, trying not to lose my knitting this time. I will tell them what I did and how it felt, and see what they have to say.

I am grateful for all the suggestions yesterday about the Calcutta Cup sweater. I spent the day transfixed by indecision, rabbit-in-headlight fashion.

[I spent the day doing the things that needed doing, while thinking about knitting, as usual. Jane Austen says of Fanny’s mother, in “Mansfield Park”, “Her days were spent in a kind of slow bustle; always busy without getting on, always behindhand and lamenting it, without altering her ways.” That’s me.]

The Sweater Wizard ran me up a new pattern on fewer stitches. I had a serious look back through the archives and discovered that the number of stitches I have actually been using is identical, or nearly, to several successful sweaters in the distant past. When I got it off the needles, it didn’t look too bad, size-wise, although of course it’s still being held in by the ribbing. The gauge seems to be maybe 7.25 sts per inch.

I like several of yesterday’s suggestions, especially yours, Rosesmama, of putting a wee peerie pattern below the cup. But I can’t do that without starting again.

In the end, I removed the orange yarn which was the prime source of distress, apart from size worries, and went on from there. I’ll have to keep watching size closely, though. Alexander is right, that too big is better than too small, and that may be especially true of Fair Isle which is such a tight fabric. The slightest snugness can make the wearer look and feel like a cushion.

I have abandoned attempts at subtle colour shading. It’s just not me. The pattern is 18 rows (and 18 stitches, so that I can turn it sideways when the time comes), in distinct nine-row sections. I’m keeping the notion of using bright red-and-yellow for the centre row of each section. The remaining eight rows will alternate between grey and brown, with the foreground light throughout. There will be a small variety of browns and of lights, and the grey sections will be both charcoal grey and real black.

Picture soon. Most of last night’s knitting time was spent getting the stitches back on the needle, seating them properly, and retrieving – in the right colour – the ones which had chosen to run back a row. But I’m now moving forward again with some confidence.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Today I am going to try driving to the supermarket – a test both for myself and for the car. I’m scared. I like going to the supermarket: that’s something. It’ll be fun, if I get there. Waitrose has recently opened in Edinburgh: a palace of delights. They don’t deliver yet, so we have reverted to Sainsbury’s recently, who deliver promptly and reliably. But an hour in Waitrose, if I achieve it, will be sweet.

We’ve postponed Strathardle for a day, until Saturday, because of a problem involving a leaking lavatory and an overworked plumber. Lorna's tragic story at least includes a plumber who came within ten minutes. That’s unimaginable, in Edinburgh.

Readership and weight both down this morning!


Many, many thanks to everybody who attempted to lighten my darkness on the .pdf file front. I’ve just been to the Traditional Knitting site and downloaded a lot of Liz’s files – all the ones I think I want – by right-clicking on them. Now that I’ve got them, I can face up to Adobe in a calmer week – or, more profitably, investigate Foxit. Thanks a lot. Right-clicking is a technique I still tend to overlook.

Lene, can't you order Shetland yarns from Jamieson & Smith, having first obtained a shade card? They're very efficient.

Calcutta Cup sweater

I’m not happy.

CalcuttaCup 004

I thought last night that maybe I was just suffering from a bad case of the winter glooms (“I’faith, I know not why I am so sad,” as someone once said) but I still don’t like it this morning.

I am grateful for your sympathy on the gauge front, and interested to hear what troubles other people have had, even using familiar yarn and techniques. I often think of a passage I’ve probably quoted before, from Evelyn Waugh’s “Men at Arms”: “Major Erskine…was strangely dishevelled in appearance. His uniform was correct and clean but it never seemed to fit him, not through any fault of the tailor’s, but rather because the major seemed to change shape from time to time during the day.”

Not that it’s Alexander’s fault, in this case. He gallantly wrote yesterday to say that too big is better than too small. I seem to be getting about 7 stitches to the inch, which would produce a circumference of slightly more than 46”. That’s really too much. I was aiming for 43” (7.5 stitches to the inch) and that is already generous, to accommodate the pattern repeats.

And I don’t like the pattern – so easy it’s difficult. And I don’t at all like the way I’ve arranged the colours vis a vis the pattern. This one, in particular:

CalcuttaCup 005

So I think the thing to do is go back to the drawing board in the form of the Sweater Wizard, and try 7 stitches as my gauge and a different pattern (I’ve found another possible). The Calcutta Cup motif can be altered by moving the bits of it closer together. I won't rip out this work, at least for the time being, just lay it aside as a dreadful warning.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who would have thought cricket could be so exciting?


I’ve had a successful first cider-less day. I always feel much better and more sprightly without it, which is slightly embarrassing. Catherine, I was happy to hear that you agree with my approach: the first line of defence is to eliminate one high-calorie regularly-consumed item from the diet and see what happens. I’m lucky in that my husband’s diabetes eliminated sugar some years ago. He misses it more than I do. And, Kate, I had thought of what you say – that my activity has been limited these last two months, because of the arm, and especially since there have been no trips to the country.

Thanks for much for the help on Adobe Reader, and for the warming that Liz Lovick’s gansey files are going to be removed at the end of the week. But is it possible to download a pdf file without calling Adobe into action? I thought it sprang to life at the first click. Foxit sounds interesting and I will investigate.

Janet, that was tough about missing your birthday flight to Edinburgh. You would have found it pretty stormy here, too. As for airport chaos, we had more than a bit of that on our way to Thessaloniki, and I sympathise.

An early start is always difficult for my husband. We planned to have his first insulin injection of the day, therefore, and breakfast, at Gatwick itself, after we had checked in and done security. It was crowded and pretty awful, but we managed those tedious hurdles and found somewhere that promised a possible breakfast, although crowded, and just as we addressed ourselves to the menu, the entire airport was evacuated because of a fire scare. My husband wound up injecting himself outdoors, and breakfasting on the emergency rations I had provided. The Diabetic Association says always to carry food when you travel, and never let it out of your sight.

All this to postpone talking about knitting…

I had to rip back half-a-round of the Calcutta Cup sweater yesterday. The pattern is so easy that the row-below doesn’t always provide the guidance one expects of a Fair Isle pattern as to whether one is doing the current row right. Off the needle, the circumference of the sweater looked alarmingly large.

And sure enough, spread on my knee, gauge seems substantially off. Why should this be? I have lots of experience, and careful notes.

I think the only thing to do is to finish one pattern repeat and then take quite a few stitches off, perhaps 50 or so, put them on a thread, and try to get a serious idea of what gauge I am achieving. I am mentally adjusting to looking on the whole enterprise so far as a big swatch. It would be sad to have to do the ribbing and the Calcutta Cup again, but it may come to that.

I am forming some notions about simplifying the colour changes. It won’t be entirely time wasted.

Monday, December 04, 2006

So, bonjour sobriety.

In the spring and summer, and in September until I fell down, I started every day by weighing myself, and then booting the computer and looking to see how many hits the blog had had the day before, and then writing both these numbers down in my electronic Filofax.

I’ve stopped both practices since I broke my arm. Today I started again

Compared to September 25, readership is identical and I’m half a stone heavier. That’s seven pounds. No joke.

Odds and ends of knitting…

I finished the Calcutta Cup motif and started in on the actual all-over pattern last night. It’s utter bliss, as hoped. I remain anxious and uncertain about the distribution of colours, and won’t really know how I’m doing for quite a while. I think it will be all right to make minor changes and adjustments as I go along, in fact I think it will make things look livelier. For radical alterations, I’d have to rip.

Picture soon.

Thanks for comments yesterday about my incomplete gansey. I didn’t follow Liz Lovick’s gansey workshop in the Traditional Knitters group, mostly I think because I have an unreasoning dislike of Adobe what’s-its-name. I suspect I’ve been missing something. I did see her article in IK, and it was fascinating. And I extravagantly admire her work. Maybe I had better face up to Adobe.

The good news is that we’ve got a date for the knitting retreat, now re-christened “fibre craft retreat”, that Lorna will be hosting next year: May 11-14. It’s a tough time of year for a girl to be away from her vegetable garden, and I have other domestic entanglements, but I’m desperately hoping I’ll be able to go.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Today is my sister’s 70th birthday. That’s a big one. Happy Birthday, Helen.

A different Helen wrote yesterday saying that it was wonderful to see the Calcutta Cup emerging from the ribbing. So it is – I’m now doing the penultimate row. Gauge seems good, although I’ll keep measuring. I told the Sweater Wizard 7 ½ sts to the inch. Then the total had to be increased slightly to accommodate an 18-stitch pattern repeat. I wouldn’t be entirely sorry to see 7 ¾ stitchs to the inch, and have gone down a needle size from my Fair Isle usual with that thought in mind. 7 ¼ would be bad news.

But that’s not the point.

I knit this sweater for Rachel 30 years ago, when she went up to Cambridge.

12-03-2006 08;39;51AM

It’s from Pam Dawson’s “Knitting Fashion” which was one of the milestone books in my knitting career. Front and back are identical – I put O TEMPORA O MORES on one side, and Archimedes’ “Give me a place to stand…” in Greek on the other. (The reference is to the principle of the fulcrum and lever – “Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.”)

I don’t think I have ever knit so much text. But much or little, the experience is the same. The knitting seems completely irrational, without system or symmetry, but what emerges, makes sense. It’s sort of exciting.

Kathy, what happened to the gansey was that I got worried about size, and laid it aside until Ketki came for the Games, in late August, so that I could try it on. The picture below, which I’ve posted before, shows it being tried on Helen earlier in the summer– daughter Helen, that is, who is not the same person as either of the two Helen’s mentioned above. I filled in the time with a plain vanilla Malabrigo vest for myself – I seem to have deleted all the pictures of that. And then of course I broke my arm, and both these projects were stranded in Strathardle. The vest is virtually finished. If we get there next weekend, I’ll polish it off.

gansey 005

And then go back to the gansey. At the worst, it will fit Helen, and I can start again on one for Ketki, with more information.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Calcutta Cup progresses, and should be finished – the actual motif with its “’06” – this evening. And I’m sort of getting back into the swing of colour knitting.

CalcuttaCup 12-02-2006 09;32;27AM

Thank you for your comment yesterday, Lene. I like the way the colours are looking, too, and am, at least mentally, rejigging my ideas for the all-over patterned bit, soon to begin, in favour of more darkness. Keeping the same colour scheme, but giving the darks a bigger role in it. The picture I’m deriving my colour scheme from, has lots of darkness.


We’re thinking of attempting Strathardle on Friday, the day after my next orthopaedic appt. By then it will be more than 10 weeks since I fell. I’ve made a lot of progress, but the arm is still very weak. I’ll need to try an experimental trip to the supermarket to see whether the car will still start after all this time, and whether I can change gears comfortably. Now that the proposed date is within a week, it’s sort of scary.

But it would be very good to have things squared away somewhat before Christmas, which we plan to spend there with the Beijing Mileses. Alexander and Ketki and their sons will come over from Argyll on Christmas Day, if all goes well, and leave on the 26th. And my husband wants to get this year’s dead leaves out of the gutters and the ditch that runs beside the driveway (and floods it, given half a chance).

And I’d like to recover the sample sweater Alexander gave me as a size-template for both himself and Ketki. He was able to part with it because it’s got an indelible red wine stain down the front. It’s up there serving as a model for Ketki’s gansey, but I’d like to have it here for the crucial period when I discover what gauge I’m actually getting on the Calcutta Cup sweater, and whether the resulting size is going to be acceptable.

I fear it’s time to go back to my Sobriety Routine – cider only on Sundays. Cider has been a great comfort to me throughout my recent ordeal. I sort of thought that suffering might have a refining effect, but apparently not – pounds are creeping back on, and I don’t really think I need the crutch any more now that I can knit. So, Monday…

Friday, December 01, 2006

Well, that’s November out of the way, only three more weeks to the solstice, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

I spent much of yesterday searching in vain on line for a particular object I have acquired this year. I love it, and want to give it as a Christmas present. I will be no more specific – you never know who might be reading this. The website of my American source is no longer available. Much tedious Googling produced no results.

But I knew that the thing I want can be bought in the UK, because I had seen it mentioned in a magazine article in the summer. The sort of magazine people keep back issues of (mine are in Strathardle). I appealed to a relevant newsgroup, this morning someone sent me the answer, I’ve ordered three of the things, Christmas is pretty well sewed up. I’m feeling cheerful.

Back to my knitting…

Here is the Calcutta Cup sweater. Those yellow blobs are the beginnings of the cup itself. A couple more days should make things much clearer.

CalcuttaCup 001

I am interested and surprised that FI is so tiring for you, Lene. Mine is not much fun at the moment, because it’s irregular and has long stretches of the background colour. (“’06” will begin on the next round; that will help.) But I confidently expect that when I reach the actual Fair Isle part and the pattern settles into a rhythm, everything will be as blissful as in the old days. Time will tell.

I ordered a bit more charcoal grey and black from Jamieson & Smith. It arrived yesterday – and look at that! They wind it for you these days! I got a new shade card, too.

CalcuttaCup 003

I still haven’t done anything about mending those little-boy sweaters I brought back from Thessaloniki, and now I have another mending job.

This is a qiviut scarf I knit for my mother, ten years or so ago. Blind follower that I am, I didn’t notice what is probably the only mistake in Gladys Amedro’s book “Shetland Lace” until the scarf was being blocked. It’s the Fine Lace Scarf pattern. At the beginning, she establishes the Ring Stitch pattern and then says, “work as rows 35 to 58 a further three times.” After the centre portion, she says, “continue with the Ring Stitch and Edging Lace, working as rows 35 to 58 three times." You see the difficulty.

CalcuttaCup 002

I wrote to Mrs Amedro, c/o the Shetland Times, and she phoned me within the week, apologising in considerable embarrassment. Accuracy meant a lot to her.

Anyway, my sister now has the scarf, and the CT moths have been at it. I don’t seem to have any more qiviut – I never throw anything away, but I have a dim half-memory of having given it away. However, I have bought some J&S lace-weight which arrived in yesterday’s order and matches surprisingly well. Now all I have to do is get to work. The scarf badly needs blocking, too.