Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A week is a long time in knitting.

You will remember that I cast on the second KF sock the day before we left. I set myself to finish the ribbing before we got to Newcastle – and achieved it. After that, the wonderful yarn knit itself. I finished the socks. Rachel wore them to work yesterday. Fraternal stripes look fine, I thought. I didn’t have a camera, but Rachel’s daughter Lizzie took pictures and I hope they will turn up here soon.

Ed wore a KF vest on Sunday which I made him years ago, couldn’t be fewer than 15, back in the days when Rowan used to put designs up in kits and sell them cheap in the January sales. This one is in dark colours with a fair amount of silk, and looks great. He probably only wears it when I’m around. I hope he will wear it to my funeral. Lizzie took a picture of that, too.

Then I cast on the next pair of KF socks – man’s size, this time, so slower. I thought I had bought more stripes in a different colourway, but it turns out I had the same colourway, “Earth”, in the other mode, Mirage instead of Landscape. (There’s a good illustration of the difference here.) I made good progress, despite dozing quite a bit on the north-bound train yesterday. I’m about 2/3rds of the way down the leg.

Photographed on the doorstep for the sake of the light. The effect is rather artistic.

While in London I bought “Knitting New Scarves” by Lynne Barr (and rushed straight back to enter it in LibraryThing from Rachel’s computer). Everybody is recommending this book, and everybody is right to do so. I try to insulate myself as far as possible from the movements of fashion, but I happen to have walked past a couple of racks of scarves “Just In” lately, and I can tell you that three-dimensional, as in the book, is what they’re selling this year. By which I don’t mean fun fur.

See Chronic Knitting Syndrome's blog entry for October 24. She makes me want to knit Shag, for which I have Just the Thing in my stash. I love Linked Rib but I’m not sure I’m good enough. There are many others. But it’s time to start Theo’s cashmere gansey.

And “Kaffe Knits Again” has just – at last! – fallen through the letter-box.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

London today. Blogging should resume next Wednesday, the 31st.

KF Socks

Our doctor’s appointment system is too good to allow for much knitting these days, but at least I got the second sock cast on and joined into a circle while I waited to see if the flu injection would prove fatal. I’m ready to get cracking this morning as the train pulls out of Waverley Station.

What follows may be either (a) entirely wrong or (b) something that everybody else figured out in childhood. I’m not really very good at this kind of thinking.

It occurred to me that if I had started my KF socks with the second ball – there was a 50/50 chance – I wouldn’t have needed to unwind nearly so much of the first ball, to match the stripes, as I would need now, doing it the other way around.

If that’s right, it may mean that if you’re keen on matching the stripes, it would be a good idea to unroll a few yards from both balls before starting, and see if you can find an economical starting place. And perhaps mark the spot for the initial slipknot on both balls, to ensure utter identicality. Maybe I’ll try that, when I embark on the other colorway.


The Yarn Yard October Sock Club selection arrived yesterday (more beautiful than ever). Natalie couldn’t post it until the postal strike was over – and when she did, it took a full eight days, first class post, to get to me from a starting point just outside Edinburgh. The postmark is unusually clear.

Fishwife, the yarn at Jenner’s is good, and there was a lot of it on Monday, but nothing to make the pulse race. I would have left empty-handed if I hadn’t gone in search of something specific, that extra KidSilk Haze. I think maybe you should save your breath, unless you have a particular project in mind. That is an interesting idea, that they are going to replace their own department with an in-store concession, but I bet it’ll be Rowan.

The scenario was played out, rather more rapidly, at Rackham’s in Birmingham in the mid-'90’s. Move yarn dep’t upstairs, replace with a little Rowan shop, close down altogether. We shall see, as I said yesterday.

Of course, if it’s not going to be Rowan, that’s another story.

Since Blogger has got its act together at last, here is the long-promised Araucania swatch. It's nice, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Flu injection day, early appointment. Brevity required here.

Still no picture of my Araucania swatch, but this morning Blogger says "We are aware of this problem and working on a fix". I should hope so, too.

I got to Jenner’s. Sure enough, 50% off everything, including books. I bought some KidSilk Haze. I asked as I was paying if this meant the yarn dep’t was closing, and she denied it, as happened to you, Mogs. They are just making room for new stock. It certainly felt like a closing-down sale to me. We shall see.

The Earth Stripe Stole is up to 15”. It looks nice. There are errors, including, I discovered to my horror yesterday, a wedge-shaped stripe which must mean that I turned around in mid-row. Even my grandson Alistair, knitting his first scarf last summer, managed to avoid that one. I’m leaving it.

I’ve updated projects in Ravelry, and I’ve figured out – or they’ve improved the system; things change fast, over there – how to replace a WIP picture with an FO one on the Projects page, without going to the length of deleting the former. I’ve still to update stash.


Mar, I’m always flattered when you stop by here, like those fans at Rhinebeck who were too shy to talk to you. We’ll see soon how KF socks look if knit fraternally, so to speak. I think I might actually like them that way, although I agree with you that the broad stripes make it risky.

Tamar (on swifts): you’re right, there are drawbacks to mine. Even with waxing, the cages don’t turn quite as easily as I’d like. I always ensure, as do we all, that yarn isn’t wound too tightly, so what I have to do is pull out a length with my left hand, and then wind it, and then repeat. A modern swift would be much faster.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I finished my swatch. I love the look and the feel of this stuff, and am eager to get started. I’ll run the new gauge through Garment Styler today, and pack everything up nicely for our next trip to Strathardle. I've got a picture ready to show you, but Blogger doesn't like pictures this morning.

Having done that, I added a few rows to The Earth Stripe Wrap. I heard from the Spinning Fishwife this morning that Jenner’s is closing its yarn dept – 50% off everything, including Rowan. There is one colour of KidSilk Haze which will clearly need replenishing, and others which I might like to top up. I’ll try to schedule a visit.

Maureen in Fargo, fraternal it will be, for the KF socks. I realised yesterday that the subsequent pair, for Alexander, in the other colorway I bought that day, will have to be fraternal, because in recent years I have at last hit upon one economy I can practice in the yarn-buying area: I now buy only 100 grams for gents’ socks, and finish off the toes with something from the oddball bag. So I won't have enough to allow myself the luxury of unwinding yards and yards in search of the second starting-point.

I have an appointment to get my flu jab tomorrow. As I remember, one is required to sit quietly for a few minutes afterwards. I should get Rachel’s second sock cast on, at least.

And now to update Ravelry on my recent activities…

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lunch was wonderful. We were the only Occidentals there. Alexander ordered a magnificent dim sum feast for us. It’s a good way to eat, helping oneself to a delicious mouthful here and another there instead of contemplating an unmanageable mound on one’s plate.

Kate, “Sauchiehall” is pronounced “Sauch-ee-HALL” giving the “ch” that almost-k sound, as in “loch”. Once the Princes Street of Glasgow, it’s pretty dismal these days, half squalor, half pedestrianised horror.

I all-but finished the first KF sock, so decided in the evening to polish it off; tidy up the Shawlette, and swatch the Araucania. I didn’t finish the last-named task – the rugby proved too exciting even to swatch to.

I’m glad it came out the way it did – sorry, Theo. We had selfish reasons.

a) Our bedroom is immediately above a student flat. They had friends in last night to watch the match, several of them wearing English rugby shirts. When it was over, they went quietly home.
b) If England had won, there would have been a victory parade through London one day this week, team in open-topped bus, crowds totally paralysing the centre of the city. And it might have been one of the days on which we want to look at art.

The next question is what to do about the second KF sock. Normally, I don’t worry at all about matching repeats in multi-coloured yarn, finding delight in variety, but I have really been wondering whether I should try to, this time.

The repeats are long – this sock involves two repeats and a bit, as can be dimly discerned in the rather dark pic. Inevitably, the second ball begins at a point about an inch down the cuff of the first sock, so I would have to unwind a lot to get to the matching point.

And I think I have decided not to bother, but to let the second sock be different.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rachel and her family, ever prone to sudden, decisive action, drove to Glasgow from south London yesterday, to spend the weekend with Alexander and Ketki. They will all watch the Rugby World Cup final together, and I’m glad I won’t be there. But we will go over this morning to join them for lunch at the New Loon Fung restaurant on Sauchiehall Street. The website is largely in Chinese, which promises well. They are said to be tolerant of small boys.

We’ll go by train this time. Less sock-knitting opportunity, alas. And not free.

Digital television

I re-tuned our new set, and reception of BBC1 and BBC2 remained lousy or non-existent. So I wrote to the Toshiba helpdesk, and got a prompt reply in the form of a couple of questions. Zen-fashion, they solved the problem.

Was I watching in digital or analogue mode? Until yesterday, I didn’t know there was such a thing as digital television. I thought it was in the future, and I knew that our new set promised to be ready for it. But no, it’s here among us. I figured out how to switch to analogue – it’s not the best manual in the world, but it’s not the worst, either. The set then tuned itself all over again, and all is well with BBC reception. So full marks to Toshiba.

Somewhere down the line we’ll need a new aerial, I’m sure.

And I figured out how to make the screen square for old movies, a point that had been worrying my husband a lot.

So we’re very happy, and I feel I’ve Learned Something.

My swift

I got it in an antique shop. It’s a form of shopping which my husband is fond of, and I abhor. But there it was. I didn’t even buy it. We went home, and I thought about it overnight, and rang up the next day. I have seen two or three similar ones in antique-eria's since, but they’re not common. Is there some website where one could register a request, like asking Abebooks to look for a book?

The side bars have holes in them, and you can easily move the dowels on which the cages turn up and down to accommodate skeins of different sizes. There is a nice little cup on top, for resting the half-wound ball of wool in when you want to go off and do something else.

I was in my Knitlist phase when I got it, and wrote about it. I think someone said that it was called a “squirrel-cage” swift. I think she or someone else remembered old-fashioned wool shops with a similar arrangement, only larger, somehow attached to the wall, for winding customers’ skeins.


I finished my LibraryThing catalogue – about 250 books, when the ones on dyeing and mosaics and needlework alphabets and Amish quilts are subtracted. No time for Ravelry this morning, though; we must rev up for Glasgow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This is a picture of our third-millennium television set.

(And on the left, my yarn-winder, currently empty. It's very handy to have something that can stand permanently in its corner looking like furniture.)

When I bought the television set, I arranged to have it delivered sometime in November, not knowing when exactly we were likely to go to London. I was happy enough to drift on in that state, the plunge taken but with no facing-up involved.

But my husband increasingly felt that since we had bought and paid for it, we ought to start watching it. So yesterday I went up to John Lewis’s and fetched it home, and we spent a tense afternoon setting it up.

We succeeded beyond expectation, in that we can now receive a lot of mysterious channels which we had thought (in our 20th-century way) were only for people with “cable” or “Sky” and other mysterious entities like that. In fact A Man once told us that we couldn’t receive Channel Five because our aerial wasn’t up to it.

However, as we were watching the early evening news, BBC One broke up and then disappeared. BBC Two went with it, but other channels remained fine. Alexander, consulted by telephone, says to try re-tuning. I will face up to that after a fortifying breakfast.


Here’s the current state of the Earth Stripe. Five feet are required, so there’s a long way to go. Reading the pattern with more attention, I see that not one but two rounds of single crochet are expected around the circumference. In that case, I feel that attached i-cord would be a reasonable substitute. I will probably try it.

I should get the last few books into LibraryThing today, and then back to Ravelry, which is already out of date.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thank you for everybody’s kind messages yesterday. I’ve written to Mary Lou to take her up on the offer of getting a Holiday IK for me.

It feels as if all the Bloggers I read are going to converge on Rhinebeck this weekend. What the world is waiting for, is the second picture of Mel in his kilt – the first one is already available on his website. I am stunned with admiration at his courage in embarking on such a project. It is sort of like deciding to build your own cathedral. And it looks as if he’s succeeded.

I didn’t know that Bletchley Park is now a museum – thanks for that, Elizabeth. I think I’ve spotted some Xmas presents for grandsons in their shop. I’d love to see the real place.

And I love that Pirate Sweater, Knititch, as I am sure Carl will. When I used to read the Knitlist, I was saddened every year by the people – I’m sure they’re still there – who worked themselves into frenzies over Christmas knitting. That time of year is tough enough and stressful enough, for those of us north of the equator, without depriving ourselves of the comfort of knitting.

I often give knitting as presents. I have occasionally – daughter Rachel’s 40th, Sister Helen’s 70th – given special presents of knitting, starting them months and months in advance and finishing with weeks in hand. But mostly I just hand things over when they happen to be finished.

I floated happily on with the Earth Stripe Stole yesterday. It is ethereally light. When it’s finished, one is supposed to go all the way around with a row of single crochet. When I first read that, I thought, no thanks: what about attached i-cord? But now that I am involved with the project, I wonder if i-cord might not be too heavy. I may have to hunt out a crochet hook after all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Look what turned up in the mail yesterday, just as hoped:

It’s delicious, and pretty boring. The two ZephyrSpuns (one of them appears in ball-form in the picture above) seem to be settling in nicely amongst the Kidsilk Hazes. The current plan is to float forward in a Kidsilk haze until we go to London next week, and then come back and cast on Theo’s gansey, reverting to the Earth Stripe on weekends, perhaps.

There’s a big birthday looming in November which it would be nice to have Earth Stripes finished in time for, but they won’t be, and I never let myself stress about knitting to a deadline, so that’s that. It would be nice to have Theo’s gansey done while there’s still ’07-’08 snow in them thar hills, too. (See Theo's Family Blog, in my sidebar.) We shall see, on that one.

An hour will have to be found in the next few days to swatch the Araucania and feed the proper figures into Garment Styler.

Here’s the Shawlette, being blocked. I’m happy with it. Lest you think it looks a bit sloppy, Judy Pascale says not to finish off the loose ends until after blocking.

And as for the rest of the cashmere Koigu (one skein and a bit): Will my subscription to IK bring me the “Holiday Gifts Issue”? I never had such a thing in the past. But I’ve got to have Jared's hat pattern. That’s all there is to it.


Mary Lou and Shan: At the funeral, C’s daughter read the passage where the Mock Turtle tells Alice about his education, concluding with the Classical Master, an old crab, who taught Laughing and Grief. During the war, C. had been one of the brilliant young men who broke German codes at the now-semi-legendary Bletchley Hill. He loved word-play all his life. [There were brilliant people of both sexes at Bletchley Hill, and some may even have been middle-aged, but C. was a brilliant young man.]

And yes, Mary Lou, those KF socks would have been perfect mindless knitting on Monday evening, but I have got so in the way of regarding socks as things to knit when I’m not under one or the other of my own roofs, that it wouldn’t have Felt Right.


I’m pressing on, up to 250 books with not many to go. Not all are strictly knitting. There are some on natural dyes, for example, and others on mosaics. This is the bookcase I’m currently dealing with, working across that bottom shelf. The entire bookcase, and the cupboards below, are full of knitting, but the rest is magazines and loose patterns and my own notes and I’m not going to try to catalogue that. Those three box files (you can only see two, but there are three) standing on the floor hold my beloved collection of Vogue Knitting Books.

It’s slow going now, because I’m down to the books I have to enter manually and also because this bookcase is a long way from the computer, unlike the other one, and books are remarkably heavy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The funeral wasn’t as bad as feared, but emotionally draining, as was inevitable.

There was a good turn-out. And there was a clergyman! He was somebody’s cousin. He wasn’t billed as a clergyman in the programme; he wasn’t dressed as one. But he was a priest in the Church of England, and did the whole thing splendidly, with enormous sympathy and intelligence.

I really don’t think he pressed his views too strenuously on his largely godless congregation. He warned us at the beginning, though, that there would be Christian prayer at the end. And when that moment came, he turned to C. in his coffin and commended him to God in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, whether you like it or not. (Those last words, unspoken.)

Apart from him, and two hymns, there was only C’s daughter, who read a passage from Alice in Wonderland. It is the book we reach for, too, in extreme emotional stress. The perfect choice.


I finished the Shawlette. I hope I’ll get it dressed and photographed today.

I wound a skein of the Araucania, mentioned yesterday. In my fingers, it felt terribly familiar. Could it actually be just good old sock yarn – dyed in Chile, but not necessarily spun there? I’m not complaining, but I am curious.

They have a fancy-schmancy website, with lots of yarn, some of it quite Malabrigo-like. But as far as I can see, there is no mention of the quality I bought.

There couldn’t have been a worse moment to finish the Shawlette. I needed mindless knitting last night, and needed it bad. So I didn’t swatch. I just took the gauge off a sock-yarn ball-band and ran it through The Sweater Wizard and cast on a boy-sweater in Araucania Ranco. I got enough done to be pretty sure that the gauge is off. The only thing to do is to frog and start again, with a swatch. The fabric looks great; that’s all right. And it’s still going to Strathardle. But I’d like to get the gauge and the pattern established before it goes.

And I need more paper-pen-and-calculator time before I cast on Theo’s gansey. It would be nice to get it done while it’s still cold in Denver, though – click on the link to his family blog in my sidebar, and you’ll see why.

So what about tonight? Frogging and swatching? The Grumperina hat in cashmere Koigu, mentioned here recently? Wouldn’t it be nice if the missing colours of Kidsilk Haze should turn up in the mail – now that we’ve got mail. An evening with the Earth Stripe Stole would be just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today is the day we are going to a funeral. Our friend was once a Big Cheese in Edinburgh. He had a stroke in 2001, and a miserable time of it since, helpless and clear-headed and cross. It will be interesting to see whether the establishment turns out, or whether he outlived himself. We went to visit him in hospital when it happened, and I learned not long afterwards that Gladys Amedro was dying in that very hospital at that very time.

HK Handknit

You still haven’t heard about my visit there last Thursday. Helen and I went because she had heard that they had the new KF sock yarn. And they did! I bought two pairs-of-socks-worth. I cast on one of them on Friday morning, in the last few minutes before we left for Glasgow.

And look at this, knit on the bus journeys and while sitting about in Alexander and Ketki’s house on Friday evening:

I’ve loved yarn that changes colour since childhood, but I don’t think I’ve ever knit with one that was quite such fun as this. It’s a sock for Rachel, who
a) wears socks a lot;
b) likes them short in the leg; and
c) has small feet.

So she’s the ideal subject for trying out sock yarn on. If I can maintain this pace, I should be able to finish this pair easily in time to leave them behind with her in London when we go down later in the month – 4 ½ hours on the train going south, six nights there.

Alexander liked the look of them, so I will probably knit the other KF yarn for him.

I also fell for this:

It’s called “Araucania”, hand-dyed in Chile. And it’s a bit more sophisticated than you might expect, being 25% polyamide, like a sock yarn, and therefore machine washable. I need some knitting for Strathardle, now that Ketki’s gansey is finished. I had thought to take Rowan “Tapestry” to knit something for one of the little boys. Now I think I’ll take this instead, for its superiority in the washing machine.

I’ll have to swatch it, though, before I can run it through “Garment Styler” to generate a pattern.

Back at the ranch, I have pressed on with the Shawlette, and should finish this evening.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

We had a nice time in Glasgow. The new house is a good one. Alexander collects pictures – they look much happier with all that space than they did crammed into much more expensive premises near Clapham Common.

The gansey fits Ketki well, and looks good. When she had it on, James-the-Younger traced “Mrs Laidlaw’s pattern” with his finger, with delight. And his brother Thomas-the-Younger asked me to knit them “lots of sweaters and hats”.

Free bus travel really works. They go in each direction between Edinburgh and Glasgow every fifteen minutes, and all you have to do (if sufficiently elderly) is stroll along and get on board. Free busses in Glasgow, too. (When we go to London, as we will soon, the major expense after exhibition-entry is daily travel.)

I got to k1 Yarns, and left empty-handed. They’ve got some good stuff, including Habu which I’d never actually seen before and lots of Colinette, who is doing some interesting things. It’s a smaller shop (to my surprise) than our own dear HK Handknit here in Edinburgh, and of the two I much prefer the latter.

Morandia wrote to me, while we were away, asking about errata in Amedro’s “Shetland Lace”. She came to the right source.

I wrote Amedro's obituary for the Scotsman, the last journalism I ever did. I didn’t know her, but talked to a lot of people, including principally one of her sons. He said that there were no mistakes in the book. His mother was determined that there wouldn’t be, and had it proofread by two separate teams, one member of each reading aloud, the other reading the printed page.

That’s what I wrote in the obituary, for his sake. But there is a mistake, and I had found it, some years before.

When I did, I wrote to her, care of the Shetland Times, since the book had obviously been produced with such care. I didn’t put a telephone number in the letter, but she succeeded in phoning a few days later to apologise, and persevered when I wasn’t there at her first attempt.

I think that’s a better story than the one I printed.

The mistake is this: in the pattern for the fine lace stole, knit end-to-end, she says on page 35, “Work as rows 35 to 58 a further three times.” And on page 36, after the centre is knit, “continue with the Ring Stitch and Edging Lace, working as rows 35 to 58 three times.”

So, one more repeat on one side than on the other. I didn’t notice until I was blocking it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

We’re going to Glasgow today, to see Alexander and Ketki and their new flat and, in my case at least, to visit K1yarns. I had a stash-enhancing visit to Edinburgh’s own HK Handknit yesterday with my friend Helen, but I will postpone a report of those excitements in favour of getting started on the day. We’re going by bus, travel by which means is free for the elderly in this socialist paradise (=Scotland). Not as good as Ireland, Janet, but a start.

So, no blog tomorrow. And for today, just comments.

The Dark of Summer

Mel, Pamela: If I have persuaded two people to read it, I haven’t lived in vain. No, Pamela, I wouldn’t pay $75 – although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it isn’t worth it. Try Abebooks: it’s there for a fiver. An American fiver.

Fishwife, when I was being gloomy on the telephone to Rachel the other evening about the funeral we will soon go to, she said that she had been to a “good” humanist one recently. I’m sure you’re right, that what matters is a real connection with the deceased and that what is awful is an embarrassed clergyman trying to talk about someone he – or of course she – didn’t know.

Kate, my friend Margot, whose wonderful funeral I went to in Birmingham last summer, was buried in the sort of place you describe as your mother’s resting-place, not a “churchyard” or a “cemetery” at all, but a hill in the country, with views. I had not known of such places. It was good.

The other Kate: I agree with you, I’m afraid, about not caring much for “Lace Style”. I’m a great admirer of Pam Allen, and of “Scarf Style”, so it was a disappointment. I’m glad to hear you got out to a movie without the enchanting Tilly. In the twinkling of an eye, she’ll be going to movies without you.

We got an LCD television – I can just about handle that question. “Plasma” screens seemed to be for the biggies. But I don’t know what you mean by a “bent screen”. Our present, second millennium, one is sort of square.

Janet, at the risk of sounding priggish, part of my routine when I’m F’ing an O is to gather up the notes and envelope-backs and pattern-leaflet if there is one, and add some scraps of yarn from the pile on the floor where I’ve been doing the finishing, and put it all in a folder. With date, and (ideally) finished dimensions. I used to add a photograph later, but that practice has sort of slipped in the digital age.

When the folder gets too full, every decade or so, I move the contents to a box file and start again.

I keep being surprised at how often I look back at these records, despite digitalisation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Big day, yesterday.

Postal services were restored, perhaps briefly. I’ll have more to say below, but here, this:

beautiful bookmark which Nurhanne sent me from Kuala Lumpur. Fine wooden veneer. A pure, unexpected present, utterly beautiful.

And I’ll tell you the book it’s in: “The Dark of Summer”, by Eric Linklater. My husband and I read to each other at bedtime – I read, he listens; I couldn’t stay awake otherwise. We’ve covered most of English literature in our half-century of married life, including “Ulysses” – that book was made to be read aloud.

I don’t know where he stumbled on a reference to The D. of S. We got it through good old Abebooks. It’s wonderful – a rattling good read, as they say; remarkable prose. Set in Shetland. How many other 20th century books of this calibre are lying around unremembered?

Back to yesterday:

We bought a third-millennium television set, albeit a rather small one. It hasn’t been delivered yet.

We decided on dates for the dreaded art-trip to London (Oct 24-30) and bought our tickets.

We learned the date and time of a godless crematorium funeral we ought to (and will) go to next week. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I fear and it should at least, my husband says, be brief. Religion, however improbable the narrative, does give a certain structure and dignity to death.

Yesterday’s post also brought a book order from Schoolhouse Press: Simply Shetland 4, the one with the famous sexy Fair Isle by Eunny Jang; Pam Allen’s Lace Style; and “Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition” by Terri Shea, all about those mittens. Maybe I should knit some mittens – gloves, no.

I noticed that two big, easy-fitting sweaters for men in the Simply Shetland book were 53” around. I have done my initial calculations for Theo’s gansey at 50”, which turned out to be exactly the size he asked for when he sent measurements yesterday. Theo is tall and strong, and I want a slightly easier fit than you see here, where he is wearing his Striped Koigu. I’ve got my notes for that, and could tell you how many stitches are in it – but not the finished dimemsions.

Moral: write everything down.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday is my weekly osteoporosis-pill day. The instruction is to take it first thing in the morning with a glass of water, and then sit (or stand) upright for half-an-hour, consuming nothing else. It’s a bit of a nuisance, because one reaches bleary-eyed for the kettle first thing on the other six days, and as a consequence I regard that half-hour as peculiarly mine.

Today I spent it working with paper, pen, tape-measure, swatch, and Brown-Reinsel on Theo’s gansey, going for a standard XL size since we forgot to get the tape measure out when he was briefly and happily with us for the Games. And when, the half-hour elapsed, I sat down at the computer – there was a message from Theo with the measurements, taken from a favourite sweater, which is the best way.

They’re a bit less than the XL ones I was using. It won’t be hard to shave something off the edges. The great thing is to have started.

Here’s the current state of the Shawlette. The first skein of cashmere Koigu is finished. There’s not all that much more to do – finish the current eyelet panel, do another six rows of garter stitch. I begin to wonder (since I started with three skeins) whether I’ll have enough left over for a hat.

It’s hard to say. The shawl increases by three stitches every row, so the final panel will consume a lot. But I had a happy hour in Ravelry yesterday looking around – the pattern section really is brilliant – and think I rather fancy this one by Grumperina. We’ll see. I may be a bit disappointed with the colour qualities of cashmere Koigu, but a skein of it is not to be cast lightly aside.

Today’s the day when I’m going to hit the buffers in LibraryThing – I’ll pass the 200 mark, and have to pay. The choice – both seem very modest – is between $5 a year or $25 for life. Not much to choose, in my case, but I think I’ll go for life.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

That’s splendid news, that one person’s LibraryThing list can be useful to another.

I’ve finished the bookcase I showed you the other day, and that leaves only a longish shelf in the bedroom. It contains the real dogs; the real treasures – my few 19th century knitting books; the sock books; the history books – Rutt and a couple of others; and the peripheral books on such topics as natural dyes, quilting, and mosaics.

LibraryThing is such fun and so quick! I embarked on this project a couple of years ago, on my own, in Excel, and got bogged down after 50 books or so. But LibraryThing can usually guess what I mean from a title or an author – the trick is powered by Amazon, somehow or other, although a lot of the books in question aren’t in print. And I speed along.

I am sure that one day soon, Ravelry and LibraryThing will be seamlessly joined. But for the time being, I really don’t think there’s any point in trying to list a serious knitting library like mine (hem hem) in Ravelry, when their database is so incomplete.

Meanwhile, I haven’t actually visited Ravelry for days. I’ll go today, happily to add you as a friend, Manic knitter, and to look for hat patterns for Koigu. I think I may have as much as a full skein left over when I finish the Shapely Shawlette. We shall see.

knititch, I love your green-on-green pics. I am a Dickenson fan too, but I didn’t know that one.

Actual knitting

I did a swatch for Theo’s gansey yesterday. Here it is. I like it:

It’s terribly simple, compared to Ketki’s elaborate gansey. But the K.I.S.S. principal works as well in knitting as in other areas of life, and I think I’ll press ahead. Brown-Reinsel expects one to chart every single stitch. That I won’t do, but even so a certain amount of thought cannot be avoided. This pattern should be easier than Ketki’s to fit into whatever space turns out to be required.

The yarn, Mongolian cashmere 4-ply from, is sheer heaven to knit – much more so than cashmere Koigu, for whatever reason. Crede expertae.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I’ve wound a skein of yarn for Theo’s sweater – not exactly tangled, but it wasn't entirely easy; I hope they’re not all like that – and looked at some books. I’m going to go ahead and swatch my original choice, Brown-Reinsel’s “snakes and ladders” pattern (it’s on the cover), but will keep Meg’s preference for horizontal patterns in mind.

And I’ve done some more Shapely Shawlette – second eyelet panel finished.

And catalogued some more books. I’m doing my beloved lace books at the moment.

I got a lovely message from Maryjo in Kazakhstan yesterday, asking who I am in Ravelry. “Tayside00” is the answer. When I first signed up with Yahoo, I wanted “Strathardle” but someone already had it, and I wasn’t going to be Strathardle02 behind G*les, if he it was, so I went for Tayside instead.

I’ve just added that tidbit of information to the sidebar.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Who’d have thought it? Finished!

That neckband proved to be perfect rugby-knitting during yesterday’s thrilling match between Australia and England, and lo! and behold the result.

There is a difference between the sleeves – as reason had suggested, one has more stitches than the other. I’ll leave it for the moment.

The sweater is dense and heavy. Unless Ketki gives up banking and goes to sea, she’ll only be able to wear it a couple of times a year. It’ll be just the thing for a long walk on Boxing Day.

Here’s a neck gusset.

Now I can start swatching and sketching (very grown-up, sketching) for Theo’s cashmere gansey. I think I know what Brown-Reinsel pattern I want to use, but having all these books off the shelf in the last few days, in order to catalogue them, makes me feel I should at least leaf through the traditional-British-sweater ones.

Fishwife, (comment yesterday) did you manage to make yesterday’s widget in the sidebar work? I couldn’t get any sense out of it, and have just replaced it with a simple little thing that goes straight to my catalogue in LibraryThing. I’m sure you’ll have as many books as I do when you reach my great age.

Joe's current post raises an interesting question about what it means to be rich. Maybe I’ll write an essay on it one day. But for now – I remember when I wasn’t rich, admiring Gladys Thompson’s book in a shop in Birmingham again and again but not being able to justify the expense to myself. That must have been in the early 70’s.

Whereas when “Glorious Knitting” came out in ‘85, and I plucked it from the shelf in that same shop, I said to myself, “I’m going to buy this one eventually, so I might as well have it today.”

KF came and gave a talk in a department store in Birmingham in ’93. I took it along like any schoolgirl and asked him to sign it for me. So, a signed first edition. For Mrs Thompson, I wound up with the Dover reprint.

Don’t miss The Panopticon’s account of his day-long workshop with Kaffe and Brandon Mably. Oh, happy man!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hooray -- pictures today!

Carlarey (comment yesterday), bless you and thank you. I’ve got KF’s “Family Album”. That sounds like a very good price. Maybe you should snap it up, and offer it on eBay.

I finished the second cuff of the gansey, and am knitting the neckband, gussets and all. I found Brown-Reinsel a bit hard to follow at this point. The book in general has a slightly padded feeling, as if the material had to be stretched to make it fill a whole book, and this can make it perversely difficult to find exactly what you need.

There are three kinds of neck gussets: the triangular, which I am doing, I think; the inverted triangular, which I am not eligible for since it can only be used with bound-off shoulder seams, and I’ve got a shoulder strap; and shoulder-strap gussets, which I don’t understand.

I’m doing a rolled neck, which B-R likes with a garter-stitch welt, which I’ve got.

I’m very pleased on the whole, except that photography has revealed a slight change of colour in the top bit, when I switched from circular to back-and-forth. I expected a change of tension at that point – but not this.

On the left, yesterday's picture, taken with the paradigm-sweater. On the right, today's, photographed from the other side. The front view shews a much more striking change of colour.

The whole thing will have to be washed when it’s finished. I’ve been working on it for over a year. Maybe the two-tone effect will vanish then.

Meanwhile, on with LibraryThing. I have solved my own problem: if you click on the word “Author” at the top of the author column, the arrangement becomes alphabetical. So that’s fine. The picture shews a bookcase we had made to fill an otherwise useless space -- five whole shelves tall enough and deep enough to hold the most extravagant knitting book!
I'm working my way from the top down, and am a shelf-and-a-half further than when I took this picture yesterday.

Apparently there is a way I can put a link in the sidebar here to allow people to search my library. That would be a good deal more interesting, I feel, than six random book covers. I’ll look into it. I’ve entered more than 100 books by now, and am cantering along.

Friday, October 05, 2007

We’ve got a postal strike – no more mail until the end of next week. I know Natalie at The Yarn Yard is anxious and distressed, and there must be thousands and thousands of small business like hers, depending on the post office. But I feel chipper – no guilt about the Earth Stripe Stole since I haven’t got the yarn. No guilt about the Yarn Yard, indeed – I think I’ll have to drop my Sock Club membership once the October package arrives, because it’s piling up. But each is more beautiful than the last, and I love looking forward to my blue package. So that’s going to be a tough call, now mercifully postponed.

And meanwhile I should finish the gansey. Blogger is having picture-problems this morning, unfortunately. The illustration, and my comments on it, will have to wait.

The only sewn cast off I could find in EZ, at a quick look, was for garter stitch. I found one for k2 p2 rib in Vogue Knitting, and set merrily at it, with the thought that if I can graft ribbing (Sam the Ram’s tummy) I can do anything. I was wrong. It’s very awkward, and I think there is a mistake in the instructions, and I gave up after about six stitches, unpicked it – you’re right, Mary Lou, not easy – and retreated to a variation of the Icelandic bindoff which Helen and others recommended. I’m not sure I got the rhythm of it quite right, but I am pleased enough with the result.

I should finish the other cuff today – and then the neck. That will be fun. It involves more gussets.

I also progressed with LibraryThing. I think the idea with Ravelry is that eventually it will harmonise completely with LibraryThing. For the moment, Ravelry’s book feature isn’t much use to me, since their database is so incomplete, whereas LibraryThing is wonderful. I came to Kaffe’s “California Patches” yesterday, not much more than a glossy pamphlet, no date, no ISBN, and thought for a moment that I’d leave it out.

Then I thought, no, it needs to go in. I’ve knit from it. So I entered title and author by hand, and LibraryThing not only accepted it happily, but told me of other members who have it.

My one grumble with LibraryThing is that sometimes it seems to list things in random order, other times they are alphabetical which I prefer, and I can’t figure out how to force the latter.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ratatouille! Of course. Thank you, Dawn! (And others, for other recipe ideas.) It turned out I had all the ingredients in the house – the courgettes, of course; an aubergine, peppers and onions, fresh from the supermarket the day before; and some tomatoes, precariously near the end of their usable lives. We had it for lunch. Delicious, and that pretty well takes care of the courgettes.

For supper we had Delia Smith’s Broad Bean Salad (bits of bacon and spring onion), warm with tuna. Today I’ll revert to faux-succotash. There’s still a way to go, on the broad bean front. They were Europe’s only, or at any rate, basic, bean before Columbus. They’re dead easy to grow, rabbits don’t like them, and we do.

As for knitting, I’ve abandoned Ravelry for the moment, for the delights of LibraryThing. I’m getting on swimmingly. It’s very quick, because the program tries to find the book for you, the way Ravelry tries to find a yarn or a pattern as you add it. This has resulted, occasionally, in my being credited with the wrong edition, but, hey! we’re not the Library of Congress. It is perfectly possible to add a book by hand, if I had preferred to be pedantic.

I’ve even managed to get LibraryThing into my sidebar. You have to scroll right down.

As for actual knitting, I got back to Ketki’s gansey last night. I tried to take a picture this morning and found the camera battery dead. I should finish a cuff this evening. How to cast off? Brown-Reinsel just says, cast off. What do toe-up sock-knitters do? I’ve got nothing if not lots of books (see above). I’ll poke around a bit.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I eschewed both the Scylla of the Earth Stripe Stole and the Charybdis of Ketki’s gansey last night (after checking the spelling of those words) and knit peacefully on with the Shawlette. I should finish the second eyelet panel today (of three), if I persevere. I had thought to take it north as country knitting, replacing the gansey, but I think I’ve already done so much of it that there’s not much point.

I decided that there was nothing to do but bite the bullet and order some more Kidsilk Haze from Colourway. I’ve done it. We’re about to have a postal strike, which will at least postpone the moment when I have to cast it on again, and in the meantime keep it off my conscience.


Shan, your Wellness Blanket is wonderful. I hope it will wrap your friend in wellness.

Gretchen, courgettes are zucchini all right. Last night we had them in a carbonara recipe from Jamie Oliver’s new book, in which they pretty well disappeared. Helen and David have given me a wonderful Greek cookery book – that produced a good potato-and-courgette bake last week, but the book lives in the country. Antonio Carluccio has an interesting-sounding recipe in which courgettes and potatoes are mashed together. I might try that today. The broad beans I steam with sweet corn cut from the cob, and pretend it’s succotash.

We subscribe to the New Yorker and to Kitchen Garden magazine (among others), but read them only in Strathardle, where life is quieter. As it happened, last week, I read articles in each of those magazines about the revolution in food on both sides of the Atlantic as a result of Columbus’ voyages. He carried seeds and plants in both directions, I learn.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Postscript for Terri

Dear Terri,

All I can tell you about First Holy Communion veils is on this page of my website. I don't have any notes about the finished size, although you can get some idea from the pictures of the little girls at the bottom of the page. Good luck!

We had a grand time, got a lot done, and feel the better for it.

The grass hadn’t been cut in August –at first because the mower was out of order, and then because the Games supervened and there was no time for anything except shopping and cooking – or September – because we weren’t there. It doesn’t grow the way it does in May and June, but still things looked shaggy and unkempt. I got it all cut, before preparing the mower for hibernation.

And brought in the harvest. Fourteen delicious apples (Keswick Codlings, highly recommended); more courgettes than we really want – courgettes are much more fun to grow than to eat; lots and lots of broad beans; and even a modest crop of carrots.

And took pictures for the September page of my calendar and got this unexpected one yesterday morning (Oct. 1) which will do nicely for the October page if we don’t get back this month -- for I fear a trip to London looms.


I worked briskly on Ketki’s gansey, and brought it back here to finish. There’s an odd problem. The sleeves are knit top-down. I calculated the rate of decrease with some care, and have recorded my reasoning. But I found, two-thirds of the way down the first sleeve, that I was decreasing too fast, and had to slow the rate from two-stitches-every-three rows to two-stitches-every-five.

But the second sleeve is conforming to the original calculations.

This ought to mean that I picked up more stitches for the second sleeve. I can’t see (or count) any difference. I’ll just have to finish and spread it out and judge severely. I’m prepared for, although not enthusiastic about, major frogging.

I switched from two-circulars to magic-loop while we were there and liked it a lot, although it didn’t work as well for the end-game, and I’ve gone back to two-circulars. I’ll put it on dp’s when I resume here.

Back here last night, I found that the package from Colorway had arrived, and I cast on the famous (maybe soon to be infamous) Earth Stripe Wrap – and immediately hit a problem. Four of the colours I have extracted from stash are Kidsilk all right – but not Kidsilk Haze. They’re much thicker. I hadn't noticed that. So do I buy four more? The Jagger ZephyrSpun combines nicely; that’s all right, at least.

I tossed it aside and went on knitting the Shawlette, to which I am now devoted, except for the continuing embarrassment of having to type its name.