Thursday, April 30, 2009
That will include unrolling my Seedbed Roll. It’s not just a roll with pre-sown seeds. I’ve used tapes and mats of that sort before, and had good results. This one has got a biodegradable plastic cover, too, which the little plants will lift up as they grow providing them with their own polytunnel. It’s got vents which will get bigger and bigger as the plants push them open. Sounds great. Watch this space.
Yesterday I had an appointment at the eye hospital which I found surprisingly stressful. All is more or less well – my cholesterol turns out to be raised; I need to go talk to my own doctor about statins. I hope it would be appropriate to say “slightly raised” but, although I know what my level is and what it should be, I don’t know the scale. The defective eye is performing slightly better than it was in November. It will have laser treatment in early June, not urgent he said. That will no doubt be stressful too.
So with all this – which wasn’t really very much – I didn’t get much knitting done. My eyes were out of focus for quite a while after I got home, and I felt drained. I managed perhaps one more repeat of the edging pattern, and a bit of bedsock while I waited at the hospital. For a breathless moment when I got there, I thought I saw a fellow knitter in the waiting room, but closer inspection revealed that it was (only) crochet.
I hope to polish off the bedsock while we’re away this weekend.
Princess-reports will be more boring than ever in the weeks to come, as I lose track of how many edging repeats I have done and anyway I don’t know how many will be required. There will be an exciting moment soon, however, when I reach a moth hole. It is on the edge of the border and will have to be repaired before I can attach edging. I promise before-and-after pictures in all their horror.
I have decided already that – unlike the meticulous – I will not fuss about balancing the number of edging repeats on one side and the other. I will have to shuffle my feet a bit as I traverse the final border edge to make things come out even, so that I end with a complete motif ready for lace-grafting. But that’s as far as I intend to go.
Kokoretsi (see yesterday) must be cousin german to the haggis.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The zigzag faggoting and row of holes on the outside are easy enough, as are the patterns that run up the straight side. It’s those slashes in the middle that confound. I have no sense of order there. Working on the border, it was easy to memorise each row before starting it, although no two rows are the same and the repeat is 78 stitches or so. And the centre, of course, was easier still.
I admire your scheme, Maureen, although I wouldn’t want to attempt it, neither an 850-stitch provisional cast-on nor the knowledge, as I knit the border, that preliminary edging was still to do. That border is definitely the more-fun-than-anything part of Princess-knitting.
Thank you for the research on my history with it, Tamar. You’re right, of course: it was my husband’s sudden departure for that brief hospital stay which interrupted Princess-knitting in late ’07, followed by Christmas, and then whatever, including Ketki’s sweater.
The summer IK turned up yesterday. I feel mildly more enthusiastic. I like the Akomeogi Tunic a lot. (What is that word supposed to mean?) I like Annie’s skirt – might even suggest it to a granddaughter.
Lisa, I’ll ask James when the BBC is going to broadcast its Tiananmen anniversary programmes.
I went to East yesterday and came away empty-handed, gloomy but not despairing. I didn’t have enough time. My preliminary ideas didn’t work with each other. I’m too fat. Perhaps the thing is to buy the restraining underwear which we agreed was the way forward (as well as my lo-cider, no sugar, careful-with-fat regime), think again, and then go back. Greek Helen says she has been shopping there for years. The clothes fit all right. It’s not that I’m popping buttons. It’s just that there’s an awful lot of me inside them.
Here are pictures from the Greek Easter which Helen sent yesterday. Mungo, in the purple shirt, is helping prepare kokoretsi, which Helen defines as “offal wrapped in innards and cooked on a spit”. You can see why Greek food tastes so good. The taller man is my son-in-law David. I don’t recognize the other people.
They have sold their beautiful house on Pelion (sob) in order to escape somewhat from the financial anxieties that oppress us all these days – but hope to buy this ruin nearby, camp in it, and do it up bit by bit. Helen is a tiger, and brilliant at houses. It should work.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
“Sharon Miller's "Princess" shawl, started May '05. Edging finished 17/9/5. Laid aside early November, '05, in favour of RWPM's First Holy Communion veil. Resumed 1/2/6. Laid aside 18/2/6 for Nudibranch. Laid aside again 18/3/6 (after border row 66) for HLS' shawl. Resumed 15/8/6. Interrupted 27/9 in middle of row 144 of border, when I broke my arm. Resumed 20/3/7. Border finished 18/5/7, laid aside in favour of Sam the Ram. Resumed 24/7/7. Laid aside 9/7 with insertion done and centre well started. Resumed 9/9/8. Next laying-aside unrecorded, autumn '08 somewhere for Ketki's Calcutta Cup sweater?, resumed 5/2/9 at row 16 of 10th centre repeat. Finished centre, began top edging 27/4/9.”
It was that unexplained year-long break between late ’07 and late ’08 that produced the moth holes.
Anyway, much of yesterday’s knitting time was occupied with getting the centre stitches threaded onto waste yarn. I decided to go ahead – prepared to frog – with instructions as given in the pattern. I picked up the stitches I had left behind when I finished the original edging on 17/9/5. I struggled with a problem and solved it. I think I am much less meticulous than most Princess-knitters. The temptation here was to bash ahead somehow, and I am proud of myself for taking enough time to work it out.
The chart back at the beginning seemed to show 28 stitches for the last row of the edging. I picked up 28 stitches. Why, then, did Sharon say 29? The answer is that one of the squares on the chart indicated a k1, p1 into the same stitch. I was one stitch short because a YO had slipped off. I remedied that, and I’m off.
I am nearly half-way through the first repeat – too soon to have any idea either of the corner or of how neatly I am joining the new edging to the main body. I see, slightly to my surprise, that I have done a chained edging along the border (slip the 1st stitch of every row) – I am picking up both loops of each link in the chain.
Maureen (hi!) – I’m delighted to hear that you’re going to tackle the Princess. It’s an experience like no other. But I can assure you that there is no need whatsoever for decisions to be made shortly (except about yarn). First, knit 85 repeats of that edging….
It’s as difficult as ever it was. I have a dim sense of having been here before, a feeling that maybe it’ll be easier to memorise this time. But that’s all. Every row is a struggle, just as at the beginning.
Miscellaneous including non-knit
Dawn, no, I hadn't heard of the Skye Bridge knitting project. I'll watch for it.
James-the-elder, Chinese James, rang up last night – from Streatham. He is here doing some programs for the BBC World Service connected with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Sq unrest. He was there. He was the BBC’s Peking correspondent in those days. Rachel says he’s looking well, and is not impressed with England – “He says that we are the only country in the world where you can't talk on your mobile underground. I thought that was the way God made things but he says simple technology would sort it out.”
Monday, April 27, 2009
Big decisions loom. The instructions say to pick up those stitches from the end of the original edging, and just start knitting along the top. What about the corner? I gather there has been some anxious correspondence on this point in the Princess group in Ravelry (which I don’t read), and a knitter codenamed Seaglass has devised a most ingenious short-row way of getting around. My cyber-friend Cynthia has sent me the charts, with Seaglass’ permission.
Cynthia used to be on a level with me, or even slightly behind, but she is now steaming along the top. She also sent me a picture of her own corner, using the Seaglass insertion. It makes a very neat and un-stressed right angle. When the work is blocked, the inner angle will be acute and the outer one – which the edging must circumnavigate – obtuse, making the insertion all the more valuable.
This is a link to the original Princess shawl in the Museum of Scotland – the model Sharon Miller has simplified (!) somewhat for her pattern. As you can see, the finished shape is more an oval bisected along its long axis, than a triangle. That corner angle certainly looks as if it will take a certain amount of getting-around, but it doesn’t want to be sharp.
I have great confidence in Sharon – and she knit the prototype in cotton, which presumably doesn’t block as generously as the wool I am using. Her pattern doesn’t attempt a picture of the entire shawl spread out, but she does have a close-up of the final corner, to illustrate lace-grafting, and it looks perfectly smooth.
Some people are worried about bunching at the bottom of the shawl: I’m confident that mine will be fine. The border, with the original edging attached, is a rectangle. At the end, the stitch-count is reduced by about a third in that “insertion” and the border then simply bent in the middle to accommodate the centre. If I’m all right at that point, maybe the top corners will be OK too?
I think maybe I’d better have a look at Ravelry today.
The doorbell rang while I was writing this. The postman gave me a Seedbed Roll, previously only available to commercial growers, which I will roll out in my second raised bed and raise carrots, chard and beetroot with no weeding, no pests, and (presumably) no thinning. One will believe anything, in April.
The beans in the dining room – French, runner, and Cherokee Trail of Tears, a few of each – are at last making a start, as are the courgettes there, destined eventually for Strathardle. The kitchen courgette, which will remain on the Edinburgh doorstep, continues well
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I’m well forward with the garter stitch rows that finish off the centre – I should have them dispatched this week, the stitches threaded onto waste yarn, and the top edging begun. It has occurred to me that when it comes to that moth hole, the damage seems to be confined to the original edging. I may be able to take back a whole repeat and re-knit it and lace-graft it to what follows. At that point the edging pattern will be to the forefront of my aging brain, and I will have mastered lace-grafting to finish off the top edging.
Dreams of glory. At least when I have done half a dozen repeats of the top edging, I will have a real sense of how much longer the job is going to take. I doubt if I can finish before I have to stop – July 1 at the latest – and finish the Adult Surprise for my Games entry, but at least I should know where I'm going.
Thanks for the help on “Knitting and Tea”. Mary Lou I’ve got patterns for cricket sweaters all right – it’s just that I fancied that one, and hoped for a moment that the whole book was devoted to the subject. The more so because in a proper, full length test match, play pauses in the afternoon for the “tea break”. Cricket is the only sport with that feature.
(Thank you for the quotation from Pepys!)
Judith, wasn’t it you who was knitting from a Jane Waller book during our happy afternoon at I Knit recently? I meant to order it when I got back here – too heavy to buy that day and carry back – but I haven’t done it. Now I’d better add the men’s volume to my mental list.
I think I may have solved my wedding outfit problem. I am going to wear an old dress for the wedding itself – one that was made for the wedding of one of our own children, years ago. I want something for travel, for breakfast-on-the-beach, for the rehearsal dinner, and for hanging-out.
I walked the length of George Street the other day, looking dispiritedly into the smart shop windows. Even at Jaeger, if skirts were shown at all, they were knee-length, and the styles totally unsuited to old age. Then I found East, which I had never heard of. I think all four of the needs just mentioned can be dealt with by means of a basic dark skirt with an Indian jacket, shirt and scarf. Best of all, I can plan and covet on-line and then walk back up to George Street and see and try the actual things.
So I’ve put the Gray and Osbourn catalogues on the out pile. That’ll teach them to ask for an “issue number” for credit cards.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
There are still 11 rows of garter stitch and simple “break” patterns to be done before the edging starts – and decisions to be made about whether to try some short-rowing to get the edging up and around the initial corner (Cynthia has sent me an interesting chart which may help). But it’s undoubtedly progress.
Vaster than empires and more slow.
Tamar said in a comment the other day that Princess-progress made cricket seem hasty – and that reminded me of a book which turns up on some days (but not this morning) as a sponsor of Knitty, called “Knitting and Tea”. Has anyone looked inside it?
On the cover is a handsome cricketer holding a tea cup and wearing a very handsome cricket sweater. I think I looked into the book electronically once when it turned up on Knitty, and decided that the other patterns were not for me and I couldn’t buy a whole book for one pattern. This morning something has gone wrong with internet access and I can’t even get that far.
Or post this, until things improve.
I have often reflected that cricket sweaters deserve to be included at least in the second rank of traditional knitting. Their history goes well back into the 19th century. (I must have a look at Rutt.) For a moment, when I first saw “Knitting and Tea”, I thought maybe this was the book to fill the gap – not so, I gather. But the few reader-reviews I have found are enthusiastic, even though cricket appears only the once, and connectivity has been restored: maybe I’ll have it for the sake of that one pattern and the handsome model, after all. I think Thomas-the-Elder still plays cricket.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Lisa, I had always intended in a vague sort of way to sign and date the Princess. But I only charted the lettering very recently, when I realised I was getting to the point where the box would have to be inserted. So now, of course, I’ve got to finish in 2009. The lettering is behind me, but I think again that it will be a bit more legible with a couple more rows of garter stitch on top of it. Picture, therefore, tomorrow.
A 2009 finish really ought to be do-able. Last night, I joined in the last ball of the original purchase of ten. I really wish I had kept track of ball-joining. I think I have knit two whole ones, plus a bit, since I resumed the Princess in February. So one more, even if it turns out not to be quite enough, ought not to take too long. Famous last words.
It will be interesting to see whether any memory of how to knit the edging has been retained in my aging brain. It’s very difficult. It took me fully half of the original 85 repeats to master it. And that was nearly four years ago – I started in May, ’05. But on the other hand I did master it, and recited the edging pattern to myself while my cataracts were being done that summer, as I believe I’ve mentioned before. So some memory may remain. The pattern looks very strange and as difficult as if I'd never seen it before.
I am worried about how thin the New Yorker is this year. It’s always thin in Jan-Feb, after the plump Christmas issues, but this year it doesn’t seem to have picked up. April 20 was a bit better (Easter?) with a fascinating article about the golf course on South Uist. Only the New Yorker could induce me to read an article about golf. But April 27 is down to pamphlet-size again.
I got all set last night to order some clothes for Theo’s wedding from a catalogue recommended by an elderly, shapeless friend. Why not name it? – Grey and Osbourn. I went through the whole procedure – and it wouldn’t accept my credit card. They wanted a two-digit “issue number” whereas all I could offer, other than the credit card number itself, was a three-digit “security number”. I shop on-line all the time using that card. Only last week I bought a boot jack. There are steps I could take, such as ringing them up or sending a cheque in the post. But I think I will give up, crossly, and go look in John Lewis. I now know what I want – that’s something.
B., I am afraid my double-digging days are well behind me. But our soil is very light, sandy, indeed, if it weren’t so much manured over the years. So carrots have a chance. I’ll let you know how they fare this year: I’m trying a new approach. I am absolutely bowled over by how much is growing in your garden in northern NJ already.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Hedgemom, I will take your advice about chard and cut it early -- I am growing it again this year. I think I tend to let things go on too long, in the rare cases where they grow at all. I might try orach again sometime, and use the leaves small. It came up splendidly last year, and looked great, but was inedible. (I did your Greek goddess test, and came out Demeter, which I think augurs well for the coming season.)
And here is the opening chord of that season – a courgette on the kitchen windowsill. It is a new variety called “Midnight” which is said to be compact enough to grow in a large pot on the patio (for which read “doorstep”). I am a sucker for new varieties. They rarely succeed.
The hospital appt yesterday advanced the bedsock nicely. Here it is, and I think you can see the effect of the upside-down gusset shaping (decreases at the bottom of the heel flap). It makes the heel square-er. The first sock seems to have a wee bit of extra fabric around the heel, which one doesn’t want inside a shoe, so this time I made the heel flap slightly less long. On the other hand, extra heel flap means extra stitches picked up for the gusset and more decrease rounds, and these extras may be factors in how easily the sock goes on. One can but proceed by trial and error.
As for the Princess, I am more than halfway across row 32. Row 33 -- this very evening, Deo volente -- will add the final yo’s and k2tog’s to the lettering, so we may have a picture of that soon. And row 34 will establish the final chevron. It’s all very exciting.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tamar and Lisa: Helen Chronic Knitting Syndrome is always after me to use Firefox. Maybe one day I will. But the instability I was experiencing the other day seemed to be more fundamental – I don’t think I’d even loaded Internet Explorer. The whole system went down when I tried to back up Quicken (my accounts program) to a CD-ROM. And continued to do the same thing when I attempted subsequent CD-ROM operations, although I can read old CDs perfectly well.
Knitabulous, I note with concern what you say (comment April 9) about the failure of your cashmere-silk yarn to hold blocking. Sharon knit the prototype Queen Ring Shawl in her cashmere-silk yarn. You’d think it would be all right. Do I dare raise the question in the Heirloom Knitting group?
As for my current knitting, I got around the heel of the second bedsock in the last few days, and should speed on down the foot this afternoon when we have a routine diabetic appt at the Royal Infirmary. That will involve two lengthy bus rides and a great deal of sitting about. On the Princess, I’m doing row 29 of the final centre repeat. Since I’m going to end on row 38, that means that I’m counting down the final ten pattern rows.
The big news is that I have engaged A Man to cut the grass this season. We’ve got quite a bit of it. With that job off my back, I should be good for vegetables for several years to come.
I took the plastic tablecloth off my “raised bed” – under which it had spent the winter – and was so struck by the lovely softness of the soil that I confected a second bed with odds and ends of wood from the byre. It’s not the carpentry that counts – it’s having a patch tended, cultivated, manured and limed which is never ever ever trodden upon. My original one is now entering its third season.
I also dug a hole and tipped a bucket of compost into it, filled it in and erected a tepee for the climbing beans. And put up the support for the peas. And planted a second variety of potato. And then, not having intended to but the weather being so wonderful, I went ahead and sowed the seeds of the sort of things which enjoy – or at least, don’t object to -- a bit of spring chillth: salsola soda first of all, then spinach and lettuce and some other salady bits, radishes, peas both mange-tout and not, and broad beans.
I’ve been at this for ten years now. I went through my notebook and was astonished at the catalogue of failure. Why do I go on? I can reliably grow potatoes and broad beans. Both are delicious. I always get a few courgettes, never the glut that other growers suffer from, and they’re great fun. I’ve got a useful herb patch. That’s really about it.
But the answer is that it’s all for the sake of this wonderful spring moment. This year, everything will come up, and grow on, and taste great, and every weed will be whipped away the instant it presumes to appear.
Friday, April 17, 2009
So we’re off to the country. I should be back here by next Wednesday, and should then remain long enough to finish the centre pattern of the Princess shawl. Wow! I am currently knitting row 27 – 11 to go, when that’s done. Cynthia has got me thinking about the planning necessary for the top edging. One wants to end with a complete tooth, and one wants the same number of teeth on either side. Sharon has drifted off into the warm waters of “adjust” at this point.
I think, roughly, the thing to do is to start at one corner (obviously), knit across one end of the border, and pause when one reaches the live stitches of the centre. One has to fiddle those stitches anyway, knitting two together at various points. It should be possible to add additional fiddles to make the second border-end match the first. We’ll see.
And at the very end of all, one has to graft the ends of the edging together in lace.
Sometimes I think about what I am going to do about blocking. There is not enough unencumbered floor space anywhere in this house, except for a couple of Major Traffic Areas. I just might manage by rearranging the spare room, pushing the beds together. Otherwise, it’ll have to be a floor in Perthshire. I don’t mind floor, for blocking, although this one is going to be a big job.
I advanced the ribbing of the second bedsock at my committee meeting last night, and will take it along today. Hospital appointments next week and the week after will help on that front, too.
Everything is all right with Trailfinders and my Edinburgh-Newark booking. So today’s chore, before we leave, is to chase a man who took a fair whack of money three weeks ago to replace the rubber seal on the washing machine. He said it might take a while to get the part, but I think it’s time he had a phone call. The invention of the mobile telephone has made it easier to get hold of tradesmen, although they remain no less hard to pin down.
The sun broke through the haar for an hour or so at midday yesterday. How it lifts the spirits, the sight of the sun! Accuweather says “partly sunny” for Blairgowrie for the next five days, and getting warmer. That’ll do.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I haven’t yet heard from Trailfinders with my new e-tickets (so I haven’t yet done anything about trying to get our little party into three adjacent seats). Easter is a major havoc-causer in England – less so in Scotland – but I’ll phone today if nothing turns up.
The rest of the country seems to be basking in spring sunshine, while Edinburgh is enveloped in a haar and ten degrees Celsius colder than anywhere else.
On a brighter note, I planted my bean seeds yesterday and am as impatient as any four-year-old for instant results. I hope to get the remaining courgette seeds in today.
We plan to go to Strathardle tomorrow for the weekend. It’s still too chilly for a major seed push, but I can put in more potatoes and start some broad beans and salad and go on weeding and preparing ground.
I’ve reached row 23 of the final repeat of the Princess centre – 15 pattern rows to go when this one is done. Tamar (comment yesterday), I have forgotten what the McMorran Balance is – I could Google it, if the computer would let me; another thing that has started happening is that Internet Explorer simply vanishes, instantly and without an error message, if I ask it to do anything it doesn’t want to do.
But I agree with the principle of what you’re saying: I really want to know whether the original purchase provided me with enough yarn, and I think I’m going to go ahead with it and risk a mark somewhere in the top edging where I have to join in the new yarn. It looks a perfect match, but probably isn’t.
I have to go to a Drummond Place committee meeting this evening. That will advance the second bed sock, anyway. And both my husband and I have hospital appointments soon (the Eye Pavilion, at last, for me). That’ll move things forward, too.
Here is a cheerful picture from Loch Fyne to conclude, taken on Easter morning when the Lenten alcohol-fast was over at last. That’s Rachel’s husband Ed, watched by Thomas-the-Younger.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Nor do I have a bedsock photograph, as I hoped. My husband, whose attention to detail is usually infinite, is not proving much help on this one, either. He constantly complains about the socks he has to wear, but refuses to address the design problems involved in improving them.
However, the bedsock goes on easily, is comfortable, stays on (an important characteristic in a bedsock). So, just knit the same, only more so, for a day-time sock? Hmmm.
Here is the current state of the lettering box in the Princess centre. I’m knitting row 20. I have been allowing my mind to wander to life-after-the-Princess, more than a bit prematurely. Ravelry is wonderful for looking at what people are knitting, and how patterns look on real people. The Internet is wonderful for allowing one to browse glorious yarns.
But any such considerations are a long way off, for me. I discover that there are 11 more rows to knit when the centre patterning is finished. (11? not 12? My lettering box means that the work now has a definite right side/wrong side.) They are easy rows, mostly garter stitch, but they won’t be instantaneous over that many stitches.
And then it will be very interesting a) to get some impression, as the task unfolds, of how long the top edging is and b) to discover how much I have retained of the edging pattern. It was tough to learn. I knit it four years ago. The current ball of yarn is much depleted, and I will join in the 10th and last of the original purchase soon. It would be nice to think that that’s all I’ll need, but I bought more when I bought the Queen Ring pattern recently, and I’m glad to have it. I’ll use the new yarn to start the top edging, so we may never know when 10 balls was enough.
I planted three courgette seeds in a pot yesterday, and hope to go on today with more courgettes and various beans. Spring seems slow and reluctant this morning, but it’s on its way.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(Knitabulous, I think “All My Deeds for God” is a simply brilliant translation-interpretation of “AMDG”. All the sense is there, and the letters fit. Full marks to the nuns.)
We had a grand time. Alexander has had twelve raised beds made – with gravel paths in between – for his vegetables. I felt the faintest twinge of jealousy. Also, Alexander, who doesn’t own a jacket, let alone a suit (he works from home doing mysterious things with a computer) – Alexander had gone to the only bespoke tailor surviving in Glasgow to have a suit made for Theo’s wedding.
Hozzat? As we say on the cricket field.
I’ve started row 18 of the Princess centre. The working of “2009” is finished but it’ll look better with the ensuing garter stitch rows done so I’ll postpone the photograph until tomorrow.
Likewise, of the bed sock, no photograph here because it is being worn right now. I cast it on on the train to Glasgow on Friday; finished it and cast on one for the other foot on the bus from Cairndow (in Argyll) to Glasgow yesterday. The wool-and-possum yarn is gloriously soft. It will be interesting to see how it wears. Bed socks seem to take as much punishment as any other sock, although they are never in a shoe.
I incorporated several of your helpful suggestions, fit-wise. I cast on 72 stitches, instead of my usual 64. (I kept with no. 1 needles, though.) I used double yarn to cast on with. I lengthened the heel flap a bit. Most interestingly, I used Ted’s idea (I think it was Ted) of knitting the gusset upside down. Assuming I understood the idea correctly.
That is, the decreases are at the bottom of the heel flap, between the flap and the sole, instead of, as usual, at the top, between the flap and the instep. And the sock slid on easily last night. It will be examined and discussed with more attention today.
The foot, on 72 stitches, looks too big. I suppose one could decrease on down to 64 if one wanted to. My husband’s ankle is of larger circumference than his foot, these days.
I may try to summon up the time and energy to collect everybody’s ideas about comfortable socks for diabetics and put them somewhere where they can be readily accessed instead of just slipping further and further behind among Comments, as at present.
I will take it along for Strathardle knitting next time – and I hope that will be soon, as the big vegetable-sowing season is about to start. Has started, in more salubrious climes. The sock won't progress as fast there as it did being peacefully knit during a weekend when I was relieved of responsibility, but there should be some progress.
Friday, April 10, 2009
So I will be brief – because we must be on our way to Glasgow and its cathedral for the Good Friday liturgy. There we will meet Rachel and her family, who will have driven up the face of England, and Alexander and his, who will have come down from Argyll. Devotions complete, we will all go to Loch Fyne for a happy weekend. I should be back here on Tuesday.
I hoped someone else would do the sums for me, but no one did, so I have tried to compare Heirloom Knitting’s Gossamer Merino to Habu A-32. What I think I find is that 20 grams of the Habu would be about 240 meters, well less than the 480 meters of a similar weight of Gossamer Merino. (I wouldn’t mind if someone else would have a bash at this – the raw data are in yesterday’s entry.) Is it suspicious or not that 240 is half of 480?
If that’s right, the Habu is out as a candidate for superfine lace. And that is a relief, because I share your suspicions of mohair, Beverly. The soft colours are very attractive, however.
I have wound the first skein of Cherry Tree Hill’s merino-and-possum sock yarn in the colourway “Spring Frost” and will cast on some bed socks when we are safely in the train.
And as for the Princess, I am more than halfway along row 16 of the final repeat. Another good session will enable me to show you “2009” complete.
We had a nice time with our Birmingham friends yesterday, but they brought us much news of cancers and strokes affecting themselves and mutual friends down south. It has left me with a lively sense – if that is not too much of an oxymoron – of the unpleasantness to come, and the suddenness with which it may announce itself. Appropriate to the season, but disheartening none the less.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
I have lost about half-a-stone (7 pounds) during Lent, through not drinking cider and not replacing it with chocolate (as I tended to last year, under stress from the Primaries). Now I learn that Joe has lost ten pounds over the same period, through a book that seems to involve hypnosis and an MP3 player. And on Joe it shows; he looks better. I don’t know what I conclude from these facts. I couldn’t get away with walking around with a MP3 player.
Thank you for the kind remarks about Fergus’ shawl. I designed some others, for other grandchildren, but that was the best because it was the simplest. Less is more. I haven’t seen it for quite a while – I think the photograph has come out blue-er than the yarn actually was.
Susan, I’m knitting my Princess in Heirloom Knitting’s own Gossamer Merino (which I recommend highly) on a 2.25mm needle. The yarn is plied, and therefore much stronger than Shetland cobweb. I think it’s finer, too. It’s very well behaved – Sharon knit the prototype in cotton, and says that the stitches kept trying to escape. Mine don’t, even when there were more than 800 on the needle.
I’m much taken with Cashsilk, from the same source, and will probably go for that in a deep colour when/if I attempt the Queen Ring. That’s what Sharon used for the prototype and a little bit is included with the pattern, for swatching. I am also much taken with the Habu A-32 yarn (snappy name, eh?) I saw at I Knit. Mohair & silk, 186 yds to half an ounce,. (Gossamer Merino is 480 metres to 20 grams – you’ll have to translate; I’ve got to go make a bean soup.) The Habu yarn comes in wonderful muted shades.
There I had better stop for today.
Except to say that I've finished row 13 of the final repeat of the Princess centre. The opening motif is done!
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I’ve got my three books piled up beside my passport – the new Kate Atkinson, a popular science quantum physics book about Schrodinger’s Cat, and Eudora Welty’s “Delta Wedding”, a re-read which seems appropriate to the occasion. I remain anxious about running out, but I’ll have my knitting and I’m not traveling alone. Much of the time will be filled with animated conversation.
When my mother was alive (until quite recently) I used to go to the US twice a year, most years, to visit. I often ordered yarn to be delivered in advance to my sister or whoever I was staying with, to avoid custom’s duties and VAT. Sometimes they charge, sometimes they don’t. It can come in quite expensive when they do. So I’m giving some pleasant thought to doing that again -- Franklin’s Panopticon colourway in Lorna’s Laces sport or worsted, for instance? And I like “Amy’s Vintage Office” and “Roadside Gerry” from other favourite bloggers. An Adult Surprise with an intervening solid to tone them down and hold them together? Pleasant to speculate.
Vogue Knitting Book No. 18 is now on offer on eBay – spring, ’41 I think. 270367636870 if you’re interested. It’s got three days to go and is already up to £17. I am surprised anew that I got No. 8 so cheaply the other day. Maybe the attraction is the war?
The Last One of All is also on offer – 180344564272 – No. 8 in the little British series that followed the death of the Anglo-American Vogue Knitting Book proper. The seller has included lots of photographs, and I think you can see in the photography an elegiac sense that the end has come. I love that issue. Some good designs, too.
I’ve embarked on row 10 of the final repeat. It’s wonderful to be doing each row for the last time. In recent weeks, the experience has been uncomfortably like that jolly movie “Groundhog Day”. One toils on and on, and finally gets to the end of a repeat – and there it all is to be done again, and again. But now it’s just like this week of Lent – there’s the last Tuesday done, and today is the last Wednesday.
I’ve used lacy lettering to sign and date knitting before now. This one was knit for the baby who proved to be Fergus Drake, now of Athens. As you can see, the lettering is really too big for the bush. It’s going to work better on the Princess because the shawl is so enormously big, and the yarn so fine.
In general, I was rather proud of Fergus’ design. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces “Helen’s Lace”, I think. The border alternates roses and thistles with reference to the English and Scottish origins of Fergus’ parents, and the center is meant to be interlocking Greek crosses for the land of Fergus’ birth.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
-- I bought Vogue Knitting Book No. 8 for substantially less than I have ever before paid for a single-digit, i.e., 1930’s, VKB. I might as well tell you: £21. I got No. 23, autumn 1943 I think, wanted for the sake of its cover, for a couple of pounds.
-- I got some potatoes in, trench and all.
-- I bought some compost and filled the pots and the Roottrainer in which I will soon start courgette and bean seeds. My flesh-and-blood local guru, the Spinning Fishwife, says “mid April” for this activity, so I will hold off until next week. (The link is to her garden blog, sadly neglected of late.)
-- I solved a plumbing problem which had been worrying me. When we leave the Perthshire house, we turn off the water and drain the tanks. In winter, we also open five little taps/screws/spigots under the five sinks/basins to drain the horizontal pipes. The last time we left, the one under the kitchen sink came completely free. That had happened before, and we had to call a plumber. If I couldn’t get it back in securely, we obviously couldn’t turn the water on. It is an awkward operation at the best of times because the particular pipe involved is at the back of one of those kitchen cupboards with things in it. But I succeeded, and now don’t need to worry about that over Easter.
-- I emptied out and re-did and brought back the herb trough that lives on the doorstep here.
-- I picked a lot of daffodils
I left them on the kitchen table here. There is nothing to be done – they’ll have to go in next time, past their-sell by date.
I didn’t put in any broad beans, for lack of time. But the seedling weeds aren’t up yet – they are the gardener’s sure signal that’s it’s time to get going. It’s easy to be impatient. The later seeds catch up remarkably well.
As for the Princess, I’m past half-way on row seven of the final repeat. (Row 38 will be the end.) This early stage of the repeat is slow and of course the rows are longer than they used to be. But I have the hope that I may have finished the awkward early rows – and “2009” -- before Easter.
(Rosesmama, I hope you’ll try lace lettering. It’s sort of tricky because there is no rhythm to it. The same is true of colour-work lettering. In both cases, it is sort of magic when rhythm-less tricky knitting pulls itself together and makes a new sense.)
Adrian from Trailfinders phoned while I was away. My husband didn’t try to take a message. I am filled with a renascent anxiety about my booking – KLM seems willing to let me off the hook, but will Trailfinders play ball? The cancellation of the non-existent flight has to come through them. We’ll soon know.
Monday, April 06, 2009
One big plus is that I can stop at the garden centre on my way in to Blairgowrie. I read vegetable-gardening books and magazines obsessively, learning little, as there is not much to be said about 12 vegetables – all the climate allows me. But recently I read something so stunningly obvious that I will put it into practice this very day: if you have to carry water any distance to your vegetables, as I do, it is a good idea to have two watering cans, one for each hand.
Nematodes are watered in, and if the ground is at all dry, they must be preceded (or is it, followed?) with more water. Lots of can-carrying.
I can also get some fish-and-bone-and-blood meal for organic fertilising, some Growmore for general use, and – because my husband won’t be there to forbid it – some compost to start my seeds in. They like it: my husband doesn’t believe they should be coddled.
Alexander is weeks ahead of me with his vegetable-sowing. (But on the other hand, Strathardle is not on the west coast: single-figure April is distinctly early for us.) One of my four varieties of potatoes has got vigorous sprouts. I will plant them today, if the state of the soil allows. At least it’ll reduce the panic-stricken pressure of the main planting-and-sowing season. The other three varieties are coming along nicely, but clearly prefer the comfort of the dining-room window sill to life in the wild.
And I might essay a short row of broad beans. They’re tough.
And I mustn’t forget, when I get back, that the two VKB’s I’m interested in close this evening. A Vogue “Hand Knits for Service Men”, which I eschewed, went for £2.22 yesterday. I hope tonight’s bidding strikes a similar note. There’s no excitement yet, certainly.
Anyway, here’s “AMDG” towards the top of my Princess. (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – for the greater glory of God) I’m now in row 5 of the final repeat, and you can see the wee holes with which I have established the next line up: “2009”. The way vertical lines in the lace pattern continue up the faggoting which borders the box is sheer good fortune. All I did was centre the box.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
No more travel news, for the moment. Thank you for the KLM ad, Joan. Greek Helen says she has set herself the goal of dressing for the wedding for £15 with the help of eBay. My guess is that she will succeed, and be the best-dressed woman there.
And speaking of eBay…
My collection of British Vogue Knitting Books is complete, in a sense. I have a bound volume of all the ones from the 1930’s which includes three that I don’t own in any other form. The binder has left out the covers – those early ones are rather interesting – and the pages of pure advertising, which are often fascinating. So I keep looking on eBay for those three, as well as to replace the coverless and excessively tatty ones in the main collection.
Well, one of the missing three is coming up tomorrow. It’s been a long wait. Plus (same seller) a wartime one which I have in coverless form. The one on offer is in poor shape, and the cover is detached – but it’s there. I won’t bid high, but I’ll try. Plus a “Hand Knits for Service Men” which I think I can forgo. So there’s hope that she – the seller – has some more of auntie’s treasures up her sleeve.
As for knitting, I finished the 13th repeat of the Princess centre, and rushed straight on, not pausing for counting and calculating and photographing. The first pattern row is plain knit – Advance to Go – and I’ve done that. The first rank of lettering is now complete, but I think it’ll look better with a wee bit of plain knitting on top, so I’ll show you tomorrow. I wish I had planned on more plain rows of knitting between the ranks of letters – I’ve allowed only three – but it’s too late to do anything about that.
There’s a interesting discussion going on in the Heirloom Knitting Group about how to manage the centre stitches as you knit the top edging on. These are all knitters, I am sure, who bought the pattern when it was re-released. Mine is one of the original, signed limited edition, and I am probably among the last of the original purchasers to be tottering towards the end. I feel there ought to be a website somewhere with Princess-finishers listed in a roll of honour. Perhaps I’ll propose the idea. I feel they are set apart from the rest of humanity, like those who have done the Haj or climbed all the munros in Scotland.
Oddly, the correspondents keep referring to “+- 800 stitches” in the centre. That was the border, ladies. The centre should have +- 647. That’s bad enough. I will count when I finish, just to see. I’m sure I’ll be substantially off the count.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I phoned Trailfinders, spoke to someone entirely fresh to the problem (Adrian wasn’t in yet). He sounded doubtful, and the Amsterdam-Hartford flight still showed up on his computer. He told me they would need instructions in writing before they could cancel – I think he was stalling. So I wrote, enclosing as requested the email from KLM which seems to imply that I can cancel – through Trailfinders – and also enclosing, for good measure, the article from the Hartford “Courant” about how Northwestern/Delta has dropped the route.
So I should have positive news soon. I certainly won’t splash out on my planned Travel Wardrobe until matters are confirmed. Incidentally, Lenten austerities have pared half a stone from my bulk – undetectable to the naked eye, but I feel sprightlier.
My husband has a cold – a trivial matter four or five decades ago, not so now. So no Strathardle tomorrow. I may rush up and back on Monday or Tuesday to do the things which urgently need doing such as watering in my nematodes. They expire in Easter week.
Finished row 43 of the 13th centre repeat – could I even finish the repeat (46 rows) today?
EZ and 21 Mount Nod Road
I wish Google Street View allowed precise links. I’m looking at what they call “21 Mt Nod Road” on my screen, and this is what appears in the address bar – just the opening page for Google Maps. If you type in “21 Mt Nod Road” there, and then choose the now infamous “Street View”, you get No. 12 (it claims in the caption), semi-detached and having a bin out in front with “9” on it. Google never claimed the addresses were absolutely accurate.
Proceed to the right by clicking on the arrow for a while until you get to the first detached house -- the label will say 19 or 21. Notice, as I didn’t at first, that it has been converted into flats – there’s a terrific row of bins to the left.
That is where, I feel sure, EZ spent some months with her Lloyd-Jones aunties during the Great War. (“Knitting Around”, p. 27)
I return to this subject because a close friend of Rachel’s daughter Lizzie used to live there, until a developer made them an Offer They Couldn’t Refuse a couple of years ago. Rachel has been in the house, and says it is (or was) wonderful. She drove us past – it’s very near where she lives. The odd thing was, it’s now called No. 26. One of the semi’s is 21.
EZ’s description matches the detached house pretty closely. So either the numbering has changed on Mt Nod Road in the last 90 years, or the elderly EZ misremembered the address.
Emboldened by my experiments with borrowed DVD’s, by the way, I ordered two from Schoolhouse Press and sure enough, they play perfectly. So far I have only watched a few moments of the Russian Prime one. But I can say with confidence that much as I respect and revere EZ, it is Meg I love – the Jane Fonda of knitting.
Friday, April 03, 2009
The news continues to improve. Yesterday I had an email from KLM, responding to the one I sent them with the link to an article in the Hartford Courant about how Northwestern/Delta won’t be flying the Amsterdam-Hartford route this year. (This is preposterous: they’re a major international airline, I am Mrs Miles of Drummond Place.) But the important thing is that the email says, as I was told on the telephone, that I can cancel.
It has to be done through the travel agent that booked the flight in the first place, so today I’ll phone Adrian at Trailfinders and put him to work. While he’s at it, he can book me and Lizzie onto the Continental flight from Edinburgh to Newark which Greek Helen is already on. Amtrak stops at Newark airport. We’ll proceed by train to New Haven – or Old Saybrook, if we’re lucky. I shall snooze. Lizzie can have her first look at the USofA. (Greek Helen has been there quite a bit, and longs to see the Manhattan skyline again.)
Today’s fun, if I had nothing else to do, would be the annual general meeting of shareholders in the Royal Bank of Scotland. It’ll be a riot – literally. But we’re hoping to go to Strathardle on Sunday, old friends from Birmingham are coming to lunch next Thursday, we’re going to Alexander and Ketki at Loch Fyne for Easter – it’s all go around here – so I can more usefully employ myself cleaning the dining room and catching up on the laundry.
I’m past the middle of row 41 of the 13th repeat of the Princess centre, and the lettering is beginning to look plausible. So exciting. My husband is pressing hard for new socks, at least bedsocks. I desperately want to carry on with the Princess until I reach the end -- maybe I can calm him by starting some bedsocks over Easter (instead of proceeding with the Adult Surprise). I could even knit bedsocks in Strathardle (instead of the Araucania sweater, my current Perthshire project).
When I got the Cherry Tree Hill merino-and-possum yarn, colorway “Spring Frost”, out to photograph…
…I noticed for the first time that it is hand-wash-lay-flat-to-dry. (But isn't it nice?) That’s the sort of thing that happens when you buy yarn on impulse because you like the name of the colorway. So maybe it could become bedsocks (which don’t get washed so often)? I can try out some of the many helpful sizing ideas you kind people have suggested.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
But first, I should explain. In my distress yesterday I don’t think I was entirely coherent: I never thought KLM – my contract seems to be with them, rather than with Delta/Northwestern – I never thought KLM would let me down entirely. I feared, I still fear, that they might offer an itinerary, take it or leave it, so time-consuming and complicated that I couldn’t face navigating it twice in five days.
To begin with, KLM doesn’t seem to fly to the US from any UK airport. So the day starts with going to Amsterdam. Then you go somewhere else. Then you go to Hartford. Whereas, if I can’t fly directly from Amsterdam to Hartford, the sensible thing is to fly from a UK airport (such as Edinburgh) to Newark or Boston, and take the train. Amtrak actually stops at Newark International Airport.
Yesterday, on the suggestion of Helen’s husband David, I phoned KLM. The nice Dutchman I spoke to didn’t know that the Amsterdam-Hartford route had been cancelled. (Here is the evidence. I emailed the link to KLM later in the day.) When he went into his routine – “But if it’s true, madam, you can be sure we’ll get you there” – I went into mine – “I am old and I chose the route because it was easy for me; it it’s not going to fly, I want to go directly from a UK airport” – he said without hesitation that I could have my money back.
It’s not exactly cash in the hand, but it’s hopeful. Now I can but wait until they get their act together. Your tale, Theresa, of being booked on a connecting flight that left before you had arrived, is not entirely encouraging. My sister sent me this poisson d’avril link yesterday.
The news is even better here. I have begun the lettering which will be my signature and date on the Princess shawl and so far everything seems to be going well. There is every reason to hope that I have counted and planned accurately. I will post a picture the very instant anything coherent emerges. Working from the bottom up, as I am, the first row will be AMDG for Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, “for the greater glory of God”. Lettering is done every-other-row, “lace knitting” rather than “knitted lace”, so coherence will be relatively slow to emerge.
But even more exciting, in a way, is the fact that I am now engaged on row 38 of repeat 13 of the Princess centre – and I have calculated with some care that the whole thing will be finished after row 38 of the 14th repeat. (Other people seem to finish a few rows earlier. We won’t worry about that.) So from now on, I’m knitting each of the 46 rows of the repeat for the last time!
Doubling back to London and my happy afternoon at I Knit: while there I bought some sock yarn because I liked the name. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. It’s a Cherry Tree Hill yarn with some possum in it, and it’s called “Spring Frost”. I’ll try to get a decent picture for tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I phoned the travel agent – a major British one, with branches everywhere. KLM hadn’t bothered to tell them yet that the Amsterdam-Hartford flight has been cancelled. My ticket, it seems, is 100% non-refundable no matter what KLM proposes to do with me. If I bought a refrigerator and the shop sent a completely different one unsuited to my purposes, I could send it back and retrieve my money. I googled “travel ombudsman” and learned that there is no such person in Britain and that “no other business activity enjoys such contractural freedom”.
Today I will phone KLM and try to find out what they propose (and whatever it is, beg them with tears in my voice to give me my money back). My current “confirmed e-ticket” shows me taking off from Heathrow at 9:55 and landing in Hartford at 15:40. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes, I think, allowing for the time difference. I suppose I could put up with another two hours; three at a pinch. After that I’ll have to forfeit the ticket, buy one on a sensible route for my companion Lizzie, and stay home. I’m too old to devote a five-day break to hopscotching around the airports of the western world.
Knitting soothes, as always. I’ve finished row 34 of the 13th centre repeat. The box for the lettering, with its hole-y border, has been established. On row 35 – that’s today, insh’Allah -- I will start knitting letters.
The Heirloom Knitting group seems suddenly full of people who have finished the whole shawl, or nearly. I think there should be a honour roll for them somewhere. This is surely the most elaborate lace pattern ever published in English.
There was a major crisis on Friday when I left my bag on the 159 bus when we got off on Regent Street. It wasn’t a total disaster – no money, no cards were involved – but in it were my beloved old Palm with lists covering all aspects of life, including Current London Exhibitions which was why I was carrying it, and this useful little container…
I suffered over the weekend when I reached a point in the Adult Surprise when I needed to leave some stitches on waste yarn. Rachel has scissors all right, but no wool needle. There is no substitute.
However, long story short, I retrieved the bag on Monday morning from the Arriva office on Brixton Rd. Everything was there. I wish I could have brought their inventory away with me – the Palm had been promoted to “mobile telephone”, and the knitting things must have proved a real puzzle. They were listed as “pedicure kit”.