Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Law (is the true embodiment/ of everything that’s excellent)…

I Google’d “Red Mass” (the ceremony I described yesterday), Stash haus, and found this on Wikipedia. Apparently it was a pre-Reformation practice which fell out of use and which RC’s (but not the C of E) revived fairly recently in various English-speaking countries. The annual one at Westminster Cathedral in London is much grander than ours. In the course of my Googling I found an episode of The West Wing called “Red Mass” but I didn’t discover what it was about.

Thanks for the quotation from Captain Blood yesterday, Shan (and I hope you feel better soon). Helen and I had lunch last week in a pub in the Grassmarket called “The Last Drop” (joke) where once we might have sat and looked out on the gallows. It is good to be reminded, when one is tempted to despair of the world, that small positive steps are occasionally taken. Those old gentlemen in their fancy clothes can’t hang people any more.

As for the bear, his purpose and destination will be revealed very soon. I must prepare him today for his trip south.

And as for knitting, I returned very happily to my Princess. I am about the finish the sixth 46-row centre pattern repeat. That will call for a picture. I wish I could find words to convey what utter delight this sort of knitting is.

And I found the Spring issue of Knitter’s – it had slid off the Knitter’s pile onto the adjacent pile of Loose Patterns and got buried. It is Candace Strick’s “Nordic Stars” that I wanted.

You will remember that I want to knit a Fair Isle (using the term loosely) in which I pick up stitches at the shoulder and knit the sleeves downward with the pattern undisturbed. That means using a pattern which can be rotated, as Candace’s one can, and also means that one is restricted to two colours. I failed to grasp that point, last time, until I had knit six or eight inches of the body.

Candace’s trick is to use two colours, but to reverse them just below the beginning of the armhole steeks, making the whole thing, I think, look livelier and more interesting. Candace reminds, too, that extra colours can be used for the ribbing and (on Ketki’s sweater) the Calcutta Cup ’08 band just above the bottom ribbing. Here is her husband’s Calcutta Cup Ought Six sweater which you’ve seen before, to give the general idea.

His colour scheme is based on a picture by Giovanni Bellini. When we are trudging around the London art scene this week and next, I’ll look out for similar inspiration for Ketki. The idea is Kaffe’s (of basing a colour scheme on a favourite picture) and it’s a good one.


  1. A plot summary for that episode of "West Wing" can be found here, though it doesn't seem to shed any light on the significance of the title.

    I'm afraid I still don't get conceptually why one is restricted to just two colours. Is this because of the raglan sleeve construction, as I know that in traditional drop-shoulder Fair Isles the tendency was to repeat the band patterns of the body as one worked down the sleeves, so that the bands would match?

  2. Anonymous1:30 PM

    "The title refers to the Red Mass celebrated each fall at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C."

    This from wikipedia regarding the West Wing episode.

  3. Thanks for the information. When looking up the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, wikipedia lists that it is the site of one of the famous red masses - held at the beginning of the term of the US Supreme Court and that, in addition to the Justices, Cabinet members, members of Congress and even past presidents have attended. Don't know where I've been all this time, but I had no idea. Usually we're just concerned with the cases before them and not any tradition happening outside of the Supreme Court building.

    I had no idea that Justice Rehnquist's funereal was controversial as it was a Protestant service held at the Cathedral.

    I've seen all of the West Wing - have no idea why that episode was named that - I don't remember this show writing the Red Mass into the script.

    Looking forward to hearing the bear's story.

  4. By the way - I forgot to ask - have you always gone to the Red Mass in years past?

  5. I'm completely....well, I must say I'm completely gobsmacked by your last paragraph about basing a colour scheme around a favourite picture. It's like I've just had an epiphany. What a WONDERFUL idea! Especially since the old works, masters and so on, have such unity and subtlety of colour. I wouldn't do a Pollock, but wouldn't Vermeer's Milkmaid be a gorgeous sweater? It would look very muted-Provence, with that lovely daffodil colour and the lapis skirt, amidst all those graduated greens and browns...

    Wanders off to dig through the stash...