Thursday, November 12, 2009

Safely home. Good trip. Lots of art, assiduous knitting, pleasant times with Rachel and her family. It was all somewhat marred by a signal failure north of Dunbar late on Tuesday afternoon. We and our train were beached for hours at Berwick-on-Tweed.

Two excitements: as we were revving up for departure on Wednesday the 4th – after I had turned the computer off – the doorbell rang and the postman gave me the box of Finullgarn from Sweden. I decided that I might as well attempt my year-without-buying-yarn from now, and as you see have added a visual aid to that effect. The starting date is the day the Finullgarn arrived.

Will the progress bar re-calibrate itself as we approach the end of the month? It’s only a couple of lines of code. The question is enough in itself to impose yarn-buying discipline for the moment.

And as you can see from the sidebar, I not only finished the eternal Big Red Socks for my husband – he’s wearing them, and they’re fine – but started a Christmas-present watchcap out of the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport bought in error for Shepherd Sock when I realised that the ASJ needed more.

Not only started, but finished. I got quite a lot of it done on Tuesday evening in Berwick-on-Tweed, and reached the crown decreases yesterday afternoon in an Eye Pavilion waiting room. (The dr said my sight had improved, and was clearly very pleased with his efforts at laser surgery.) So last night I finished it off.

I’ll take those two Progress Bars down tomorrow.

Excitement No. 2 was the acquisition of VKB No. 6 in an eBay auction. Helen C.K.S. bid for me while we were away – she doesn’t miss. The price wasn’t bad, and it has arrived safely despite the current vagaries of the Post Office. It’s a spanking copy.

Someday I am going to make a collection of paragraphs about how knitting used to be dowdy but has become smart. The word “grandmother” often appears. VKB No. 6 begins with a choice example – written in spring, 1935, before many of today’s grandmothers were even born:

“Knitted wear is chic. From day to day it increases in popularity. Far away in dim ages old ladies sat in horse-hair chairs surrounded by antimacassars and clicked their needles in the gloomy flicker of a gas jet, knitting and purling warm and serviceable, but infinitely unattractive, garments in grey or natural coloured worsted…”

That leads one to wonder when, exactly, chemically-dyed yarns became widely available?

My husband was allowed to leaf through my new treasure last night. He spotted an ad for a wool shop called Darnley’s with an address in Cavendish Square and another on Oxford Street. Implying, he rightly said, money in the selling of knitting wool.

(And even I remember a shop perhaps called the Needlewoman on Regent Street. Mostly embroidery, though, in that case.)


  1. Cynthia9:19 AM

    Welcome home.

    I used to buy cross stitch kits from a shop called The Needlewoman on Threadneedle Street. Same store? This was in the 60s. I'm sure they've been out of business a long, long time.

  2. Indeed, back in the 60s and early 70's The Needlewoman Shop, mail order, was the only way to get evenweave linen, as far as I could find. There were firms in Ireland, but they seemed to only do the stuff for "freehand" work, or transfers. I still have the tablecloth and napkins I did back then, and I remember a Rosenstand bookmark kit, done to cheer up a friend.

    The shop is long gone, but, thank goodness, it is a whole lot easier to track down a much larger range of desirable raw materials.

  3. Dawn in NL12:43 PM

    Welcome back Jean,
    Sorry to hear you had such a trying journey home but happy with the good news from your doctor regarding your eyesight.

    Have you decided which grandson you will be knitting the Swedish sweater for?

    All the best,

  4. GrannyPurple12:46 PM

    As to knitting being newly popular, there are some people who don't see that. I was in Trafalgar Square watching Brenda of Cast On on the 4th plinth in September. On the steps below me were 40 or 50 young knitters. Beside me, a woman perhaps a decade older than me who kept remarking how it's odd that I knit, considering no one does it any more, and there's nowhere to buy yarn... It's hard to know how to respond to that!

  5. The collection of paragraphs would be great. I have an article from a WWII era Fortune Mag. that talks about 'shell shock' and how everyone supported the Great War, but it is hard for some to support this new war against Germany. Plus ca change and all that.

  6. Your quotation from the 1935 text does rather support the view that knitting has always been perceived to be a) done by those incapable of anything else and b)old-fashioned. What amazes me is the material on the Shreddies box, suggesting that Shreddies have been "knitted by nanas," with accompanying images of old ladies. Here it must have connotations of old-fashioned goodness, but it certainly builds on the stereotype.