Saturday, October 31, 2009
It’s a relief to have the Charcoal. I bought two skeins to start with. The first one is nearly finished, won’t last for more than a couple of further dividing stripes. And I need it not just for dividing stripes, but also for a final edging of the whole and perhaps a collar.
I reached the neck edge yesterday, as hoped. I’ll take a pic tomorrow, when I’ve advanced another inch. The neck-edge stitches left behind don’t do much to make photography easier. And it won’t get easier, until I’ve finished mitering and left all the front-edge stitches above the diagonal on waste yarn. Another 48 rows.
I could happily spend the rest of my life knitting Lorna’s Laces colours into random stripes, but if I had to choose one, it would be Mother Lode. Not a Chicago place at all, unless there’s a local (copper?) mine.
I’ve packed my knitting for London next week – I am determined to finish those tiresome red socks for my husband, and start on a Christmas-present hat – I don’t think I’m giving too much away, there – with the Lorna’s Laces Charcoal Shepherd Sport yarn I bought by mistake (instead of Shepherd Sock).
Indeed, it occurred to me as I worked on the Mysterious Christmas Project yesterday that I will have enough expensive and delicious Cocoon left over that I might just dash off a brioche hat – EZ has a pattern somewhere – for someone not on my Christmas list at all. Daft.
I was the non-victim of a brilliant scam yesterday. I belong to a little group of knitting friends, six women, the other five American-based. We haven’t met as a group since Stitches East in ’02 but we have a name for ourselves and we are, I am sure, grouped in each other’s mailing lists under that name.
One of us, Mary, is an Englishwoman by birth, from a numerous family. She made her career in Hollywood – as a writer – and still lives in California. But she is an intrepid traveller, adventure-prone, and the message from her was therefore perfectly plausible, saying that she had been robbed at gunpoint in London -- she often comes over to visit family -- and needed money urgently to pay her hotel bill so that she could catch her flight home.
I assumed the message was for our little group. We haven’t been in close touch lately, but we still love each other.
The prose didn’t sound like Mary, but she was supposed to be upset. I didn’t do anything but felt guilty and uneasy all afternoon, until I heard from her alive and well in California. Someone had hacked in to an old email address and sent the appeal for help, apparently, to her entire address list, not just our little group. She doesn’t know whether anyone fell for it – a Western Union address was given, to which you were asked to wire money. The police aren’t interested.
I have always felt not too worried about security for things like Googlemail, although I’m pretty careful about on-line banking and eBay. This episode sort of shows what a dangerous world we're involved in.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I got back from the supermarket to find a card from the post office – they do function, intermittently – to say that they didn’t deliver a package for me because there is a customs charge. That must be the package from Angelika’s – two more skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in charcoal, essential for finishing the ASJ, and two or three more colours, just for fun.
The actual customs charge was modest, as befits a modest package. But then the post office superimposed a charge of their own, three times as large, as is their wont, to compensate them for their trouble. I paid on-line, and now I am worrying about whether that will translate into anyone’s actually picking up the package (when there is anyone available, not on strike, to do so) and bringing it to me. The sorting office used to be near here, and one could walk over in the afternoon and straighten things out. But it recently moved far, far away.
At least it’s American yarn. In my early internet days, when the world was suddenly open to me and I hadn’t learned any better, I paid charges more than once on packages of German sock wool being re-imported to the EU (=me) from Patternworks.
Later yesterday I learned that the chain that runs my local off-license has gone into receivership (like Chapter 11, only worse – teetering on the brink of bankruptcy). That’s where I buy my Sunday cider, Weston’s Vintage, and I have no other handy source, not Waitrose or the local Tesco’s. (I could divert to Sainsbury’s. They have it.) I’d rather become an out-an-out teetotaller than drink Magners.
And my troubles are small compared to those of the pleasant people who work there.
Knitting continues to chug forward. In fact, today I might reach the point where I have as many stitches on the needle for the ASJ as I started out with – a major milestone. That will mean I am at the neck edge, and can abandon six inches worth of stitches, secure on waste yarn, as I go on mitering. That will speed things up a little bit, at least at first, and also may make photography easier.
And I got in a repeat and a half of the Christmas project yesterday, too.
Mary Lou, you're absolutely right: brioche stitch is so quick and pleasant to knit, and trying to do it in the round so awkward, that there’s really no point.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I have so far only dipped a toe into all this richness. First impressions are that Knitter’s is really pretty tedious, Knitting (the British monthly magazine) continues to improve, and VK (now called Designer Knitting here) is pulling away from the pack.
There’s a KF in Vogue which caught my eye as I first flipped through, but I didn’t spot it as his. That’s unusual. It’s in Rowan Colorscape Chunky – Kaffe does half the work and the yarn does the other half and it looks easy and fun.
Lots of cowls, but I continue to prefer the Moebius one. Perhaps I’d better buy the pattern and salt it down with the others on my HALFPINT list.
(The mysterious and surely unknit entry on my Christmas list of last year.) Thank you for thinking about the problem, Tamar, but I don’t think it was the swatch cap. (I’ll have to do one for the Grandson Sweater, though, and am looking forward to it.)
I thought for awhile yesterday that I had cracked it – the i-cord lattice hat in a recent Woolgathering. I half-intended doing that for the Knitted Hat class at the Games this year, but didn’t get around to it. But I looked it up and it was published in March ’09, which rather rules it out for last Christmas.
I’m sure I wasn't thinking of the Dubbelmossa. I looked to see if there was a hat in Meg’s VK articles last year. No. One remaining possibility: her invention of brioche-in-the-round. There is such a hat in the spring ’09 Woolgathering (along with the lattice one, and others) but I think it was previously published in a magazine, probably in a brioche article. And I did cast on some circular brioche once, fairly briskly abandoned.
Maybe I should try again. It would be quick and cosy and fun to knit, if I could crack it.
It’s very slow, now, as I keep saying. I’ve moved the Progress Bar forward a bit, but it’s pure guesswork. The Schoolhouse leaflet I am working from doesn’t really give us a full-length picture of an ASJ. We have adults wearing jackets, but the photograph is sort of cut off at the waist. I can’t yet guess how much lengthening of the body I’ll want to add once I finish mitering. That’s the point at which a BSJ is finished (except for finishing).
Not terribly much, is the answer, I suspect. I don’t want a jacket as long, proportionately, as the CSJs which are fully illustrated in the leaflet. I’ll use a favourite, beat-up cloth jacket as a model for length.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Stash Haus, I don’t at a glance see how to search the IWOOT website by personality, just by price. There are enough miserable gits on my list that I’d like to try. So far, as is my wont with Xmas shopping, I’ve been working with the paper catalogue, turning down the corners of pages. I’ll order on-line in the end.
Jane-Beth, it is more than slightly unnerving to learn that you passed us as we were setting forth on our afternoon expedition yesterday. Two worlds colliding. I wish you had spoken, although my husband would have been disconcerted.
It was certainly us – the man in the anorak said he was from the media dept of Belfast University, maybe he even said he was a professor. He was trying to identify the locations in which the film version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was made. He had all of them except one, in which a little girl leaves a house – Miss Brodie’s house? – and runs along a road towards some park-like greenery. He showed us the clip on a digital camera. We couldn’t help. The whole episode was so improbable that he must have been genuine.
Donice, I love the Claudia hat. The Ravelry link is to your projects page, because your photograph of it is brilliant, but it is easy enough from there to find the free pattern. It reminds me slightly of a hat pattern in Vibeke Lind’s “Knitting in the Nordic Tradition” (love that book) which I knit once for my sister, where stripes of colour swirl and merge as the ribs do in Claudia.
I’m not absolutely sure that one repeat a day is quite enough for the Mysterious Christmas Project. I may step it up a bit, for the sake of moving on to other delights. I’m keeping its progress bar up to date.
One of my Christmas problems is unexpected, and rather disconcerting. I keep an Xmas spreadsheet of presents. It goes back many years now, and can spare me embarrassing repetitions. Last year, I have Ketki down for “slouch hat?”, Kirsty Miles of Beijing for “Meg’s hat” (what was that?), and Greek Helen for a watchcap. I don’t remember knitting any of those things, and suspect that they were supplanted and that the list was never brought up to date. But can I be sure?
There is other knitting recorded, which I do remember: The Rowan Earth Stripe stole in ’07 for Hellie Ogden (that’s when I resolved never to touch KidSilk Haze again), the Lynne Barr “Ribbed Links” scarf from “Knitting New Scarves” that same year for her sister Lizzie. I clearly remember knitting both of those.
Stash Haus, I like your stash-limiting rules. I think my stash largely grows from the feeling that I-may-not-be-able-to-get-it-later. (How long will Regia go on marketing KF sock yarn? Merely phrasing the question tempts me to order a few more colourways.) And from buying-too-much-to-be-on-the-safe-side.
As for the ASJ, it inches forward. Scarcely that, but it’s moving. I now have only 9 more increase rows – 18 rows of knitting – before I have as many stitches on the needle as I started with. But there will still be another 25 increase rows – 50 rows of knitting, on lots of stitches – before the mitering is finished. Pic soon.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Three bits of knitterly news today – four, if you count Nancy Marchant’s sensational brioche stitch website that Else referred us to yesterday. I’ve tucked it away in the “Knitting Ideas and Thots” section of my web favourites, for much further study. I love that kind of knitting, including fisherman’s rib. “Fruity” was the word EZ chose for it, and it is the mot juste.
Here’s my news:
1) I have thought of a different approach to current multi-tasking: I will knit one repeat of the pattern of the Mysterious Christmas Project every day, before turning to the ASJ. The pattern consists of 14 kindergarten-simple rows, followed by a 15th which could only be Lynne Barr. I think doing it this way, instead of having a dedicated day, will speed the project along.
I sort of got started on Christmas list-making yesterday. Much as I hate deadline-knitting, there’s no doubt that everybody’s got the IWOOT catalogue but not everybody can knit. Is there time for a couple of hats, when the current project is finished? Or even (sans beads) the cosy-looking Moebius cowl of which the Faculty Meeting Knitter has already made two? And, come to think of it, I’ve got a Lynne Barr scarf in the UFO category. Finish it off? Still nearly two months to go.
2) I heard from Helylle Hantverk yesterday to my surprise, after five days’ silence, and ordered Rauma Finullgarn for the Grandson Sweater. So we shall see.
I am toying with the idea of a new year’s resolution – and I don’t normally go in for them, either – not to buy any yarn in ’10. With a proviso in advance that if anybody has a baby, I’ll knit it a Dream-in-Color Tulip Jacket. I was scrambling about in the stash the other day, looking for something, and reflected that there’s some really nice stuff there. A year wouldn’t make much impression on it.
3) Constant readers from way back will remember my obsession with the old Vogue Knitting Book, which was published in Britain from autumn, 1932, right through the war, and which finally expired in the late ‘60’s. The parallel America publication shared the first issue, then disappeared, then re-emerged late in the war.
I’ve got a lot of old VKB’s that I have saved from my own youth, and since I discovered eBay I have been trying to complete the collection. And in a sense, I’ve succeeded. In the sense that I’ve got a bound volume of the issues from the 1930’s (except for Number One, which I’ve got separately). But they were bound without covers and without advertising pages. Of complete, separate issues I still lack two.
Wartime issues might still be found carefully preserved in the archives of a sprightly great-aunt finally called to her reward – there have been a couple listed on eBay quite recently – but that’s now impossible for the first 10 years of publication.
After a long, long hiatus, one of the ones I lack is currently listed on eBay. It closes on the 5th of November, when we’ll be in London. I shall have to make arrangements.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I lay aside the Christmas Project today and return to the ASJ with joy, but I had fun moving the Christmas Project progress bar.
To double back: JeanfromCornwall, I was interested to hear that you have EZ’s brioche hat in an old Sunday Times colour supplement (as the magazine used to be called). I said the other day that that spread on the BSJ and ASJ was the first I had heard of EZ, but I noticed when I dug the tattered pages out for photocopying, that the text said she had been introduced to Sunday Times readers the year before.
I wonder if that is where the brioche hat came in? (I’ve knit it a couple of times; very quick and cosy. Meg recently figured out how to do brioche in the round – that completely defeats me.)
Sabrina, thanks a million for that wonderful tour of Chicago (comment, yesterday). If there’s a Little Italy and a restaurant called Tuscany, I don’t think we need look further afield for the source of the “Tuscany” yarn colour.
Grannypurple, yes, it’s marvellous, isn’t it, how each new stripe changes the ASJ. Or any SJ. I have currently embarked on what is intended as a fairly broad stripe of Amy’s Vintage Office (see yesterday’s pic), wonderfully evocative for those of us who grew up changing typewriter ribbons. I had feared it wouldn’t fit in very well, when I saw all my choices together, but I think maybe “Franklin’s Panopticon” will link it in, with its light tones and blue-i-ness.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
(I didn’t include a link to your blog because my ancient computer freezes when I go there. I’ve added you to my Google Reader list, and will follow you in the slightly reduced form provided there.)
Day is slowly forming outside the window (I have saved my Extra Hour to spend later) – it looks dry, and if so I’ll attempt another doorstep picture of the ASJ. It’s now possible to see where we’re going with the front mitres.
But I spent yesterday, as promised, on the Christmas Project. It progresses. I think I probably won’t need the 5th ball of Cocoon, which is rather a pity, given what it cost.
Yesterday two skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport yarn arrived, charcoal-coloured. I ordered them recently from a eBay shop, and realised immediately after the mouse-click which committed me irrevocably that I didn’t want Sport, I wanted Sock. (Which I subsequently ordered from Angelika – it’s not here yet.)
But Shepherd Sport is lovely stuff. I have thought of another possible Christmas Project on which these two skeins could be employed – I, who abhor the concept of Christmas Knitting. And I also wondered how Shepherd Sport might do for the Grandson Sweater. I went through the conversion process again, grams to ounces to metres to yards, and – if I did it right, a big if –Shepherd Sport seems to be slightly lighter than the yarn Pagoldh recommends (in “Nordic Knitting”, for her Portom Sweater).
But it’s a yarn I love and trust, and I think I’ll go with it. I still haven’t heard from Sweden. If I get a reply, I’ll order the Rauma Finullgarn I asked for. Otherwise, Shepherd Sport and swatching.
Chicago Place Names
(for Lorna’s Laces colours) The idea is wonderfully evocative. And how appropriate that one of their Famous Blogger colourways comes from Franklin, Chicago’s famous citizen.
What about “Andersonville” and “Tuscany”? two of the colours I’m using? Are they places in Chicago, too, as well as more famous places elsewhere?
I have found it absolutely impossible, over all these many years, to explain to the British why they are wrong to translate the Monopoly board into well-known London addresses. It should have been Nottingham, or Exeter, or even Perth. I didn’t know for decades, along with millions of others, that I was walking the streets of Atlantic City when I played Monopoly. I didn’t know what a Boardwalk was. Although I wound up in Asbury Park (where that particular question was answered), and have APHS in common with Bruce Springsteen, I have never been to Atlantic City. To think of actually strolling along Marvin Gardens!
I’m awfully glad to know I’m knitting Chicago into my ASJ. It was there I went for the interview which won me the scholarship to Glasgow which set the course for the rest of my life.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The red version, at the bottom right of the ASJ page, has cuffs, one notices. The other one is simply an adult BSJ – neither the jacket nor the sleeves are lengthened, as they are in EZ’s adult version. That must have been the way you knit it, Hat? I think I deduce that the red one was only available as a kit, involving “more than a dozen French yarns – mohair, wool, rayon and cotton, velours and tinsel and glitter.” Even so, £75.50 sounds a lot, considering that it was all that time ago.
I had been wondering about cuffs. But I think I’ll stop in mid-forearm, February-Lady-Sweater fashion.
I’m getting on fine, but it’s become slow again. One begins by casting on 9K. My K= 49. I have separated the groups of stitches with markers, just to keep track of the numbers. Then you do the decrease mitres until you have 5K left – that means, the K’s on each side of the two centered stitches disappear completely. Then you start the increase mitres, putting the stitches all back on again.
Well, at the moment I have 30 stitches in each of those K’s.
Alas, I must lay it aside today and tomorrow. The Mysterious Christmas Project didn’t get worked on last Sunday, when we were in the country, so today will make up for that. And tomorrow will be its designated day. It must be done: the goose is getting fat. The one comfort is that two day’s work on those big needles, with that big yarn, will see the Progress Bar shoot ahead.
That will leave me with nothing to talk about for the next two days, so I’ll postpone a discussion of Chicago place names in relation to Lorna’s Laces yarn names. I don’t think I knew that, Matthew, and I love it. Like Atlantic City and Monopoly.
Friday, October 23, 2009
But I have allowed myself to nudge the Progress Bar forward, nonetheless.
I’m currently doing a stripe called Irving Park, one of two new colours I got the other day along with the additional Panopticon yarn. The names of the Lorna’s Laces colours are not the least of the joy of knitting with it. My other new colour is called Pilsen. Something to do with beer? Relevance is often far to seek, but the names remain fun. Both Irving Park and Pilsen are basically red.
I’ve probably got enough yarn now to knit two or three sock-yarn ASJ’s. Better than worrying.
My initial brown stripe, vaguely meant as an edge, was a mistake, as I vaguely thought at the time, because the cast-on edge isn’t an edge in the finished garment. Where this is going to matter is on the sleeves, where stitches must be picked up and knit downwards. The broader stripe in mid-sleeve will make the extension look dreadfully like an afterthought.
Yesterday, I thought of the (really pretty obvious) solution, on the good old principle: If you can’t conceal it, make a feature of it. All the brown stripes on the lower sleeves will be broader than usual.
I first met the Surprise Jackets in an article in the Sunday Times many years ago. It was the first I had heard of EZ. You could send in a stamped, addressed envelope for the BSJ and ASJ patterns. I did, but only (alas! alas!) for the baby pattern, and it came back on a mimeographed sheet. Very second millennium.
The Sunday Times version of the BSJ is double-breasted. I haven’t seen that anywhere else. It’s nice and cosy for babies, and I always knit it that way, but laid flat and buttoned, the side edges are pulled slightly forward which mars the perfection of the geometry. I wonder now if the Sunday Times ASJ was in any way changed from EZ’s original?
I have annotated that mimeographed sheet, now reduced to near-tatters, with the names of the many babies for whom I have knit the pattern through the years. The first is “Bernadette Ogden” – Hellie’s code-name in the womb, and Hellie will be 23 next month.. The ASJ apparently first saw the light of day in ’81, according to Meg’s note in The Opinionated Knitter. Five years previously, to spare you the arithmetic. The BSJ is older.
I bit the bullet the other evening, Wednesday to be precise, and emailed that shop in Sweden about buying Rauma Finullgarn for the Grandson Sweater. As yet, no reply. Maybe the woman who knows English only comes in on Tuesdays, but that seems unlikely.
The Faculty Meeting Knitter is knitting a wonderful moebius cowl.
Judith, I didn’t know Franklin was coming back to London, and I’ll miss him again – I have a Retinal Vein Occlusion appt at the eye hospital on November 11. It’s getting a bit like Evangeline. But we’ll meet in Stirling next August, insh’Allah.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Start with the latter.
I cleared and manured and covered my “raised beds”. I’ll test the soil and probably need to lime it in February or March. So three square yards, at least, will be weed-free and rarin’ to go in the spring. I filled the compost bin with rotten courgettes and run-to-seed lettuces. I began thinking about next year’s strategy – I have achieved gluts in both courgettes and runner beans, and it is now time to concentrate firmly on things we actually like eating. French beans are a subject that rarely do well for me. There’s room for expansion there.
Next time I must choose and clear and manure the permanent spot for seakale.
But the highlight of the weekend was the visit of Alexander and Ketki and their little boys. We celebrated, so to speak, by planting the pinus sylvestris aurea (the Golden Scots Pine) our children gave us on Games Day, ’07, to mark our Golden Wedding. My husband re-potted the tree at the time and left it to get used to its new pot. He thinks that treatment is good for a tree. I disagree.
But now it’s in the ground. (That's the tree, between Thomas, to the left, and James.) It was a tough job. It’s in rough ground, in a hole generously deeper and wider than the root ball. Every cubic inch of the soil was sifted for couch grass and nettle roots before being tucked around the tree. We had glorious weather for the struggle. The next day, not so, as you see. But my husband got a little house built with wire netting, after this picture was taken.
I kept my nose to the grindstone, sock-wise, and made good progress. A visit to London looms, rather soon. That should finish off this pair and advance me to KF. Note the new Progress Bar.
The package from Get Knitted was here when we got back. (The Secret of Life is a good-sized letter box.) I finished off the stripe of the ASJ I was engaged in, and have added a generous one in Franklin’s Panopticon, now that I’ve got plenty of it.
It looks blue here. It's also greenery-yallery.
JennyS, I’ve been to your Ravelry projects page (and I love your avatar, if that’s what it’s called). I think we’re folding our Surprise Jackets the same way – I think the mitre on the front, from the bottom hem to the armpits, is the increase mitre, on yours as well as mine. But goodness knows: no pattern on earth is more confusing. And the part I’m knitting at the moment, after the mitres change direction, is the most confusing of all.
You can't really see the new mitre, in the picture above. It appears only in the form of bunching at the armpits. Here is the mitre, spread out. In this form, it's unintelligible.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I got seriously worried yesterday about whether I have enough yarn. The two-row separator stripes seem to be eating up “Charcoal” at a great rate, and I want it for the final edging and perhaps collar. And each of the colours seems to have taken a substantial hit if I have used it for a stripe of any width. I’ve got plenty of Roadside Gerry and Amy’s Vintage Office, but the others are one-skein-each.
So I set to and discovered Get Knitted, which lists a considerable range of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, much of it alas “currently unavailable”. But what she does have is “Franklin’s Panopticon”, so I got two more skeins of that, and a couple of other colours that looked compatible.
What she doesn’t have is Charcoal, or any solid colour. I tried to find a UK source, and failed. Yesterday afternoon, as so often, was a collect-prescription-from-Boots and wait-half-an-hour-in-the-Post-Office day. These duties put one close to John Lewis’ yarn department, so I had a look there. Nothing remotely suitable among the sock yarns. So I finally went back to Angelika, who has a vast range and who supplied me in the first place (but who doesn’t have any more Panopticon) and ordered two more skeins of Charcoal from her. The package, if I’m lucky, will be small enough to slip under the Customs & Excise radar. Maybe.
So here’s where I am. I have had a couple of sessions with the double-headed crochet hook, retrieving dropped stitches, and I haven’t mastered it yet. The struggle results in a visible scar.
Audio Books and Onions
Thank you again for all the help. Alexander and Ketki will be able to explain about MP3 players and iPods when I see them in Strathardle at the weekend. I like the idea of putting the iPod into a radio-sized thing for kitchen listening. I don’t have a laptop. Your ideas for the sources of audio books will be most helpful, if/when I get that far.
Dawn, my mother in retirement used to record books for blind students, at a place called Reading for the Blind in Princeton. I think it’s rather a shame to restrict the service to actors, especially when specialist scholarly books are requested.
Fishwife, I will remember and employ your onion-growing tips. Mary Lou, I don’t know about Egyptian Walking Onions, and will investigate. You remind me that there are various perennial solutions. We used to have something in our garden in Birmingham with leaves like salad onion leaves and a good flavour, and which stood all winter. Very useful. No bulb, though. And there is a peculiar onion – the Welsh onion? – which produces a bulb at the top of the leaf, rather than underground.
I am determined, as I said, to grow spring onions like everyone else. But it’s worth looking at other possibilities.
I have some questions to ask about Jerusalem artichokes, but that’s enough for today. Back on Tuesday, insh’Allah.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
My sister-in-law asked about the pattern, when she was here to lunch yesterday, and I showed her the Schoolhouse Press leaflet. She pointed to a photograph in it and said, “That is just what you have become, an Old Woman knitting.” I am not sure the remark was entirely kindly meant, but since she was pointing to a picture of EZ it was a bit like having someone walk in when you were painting the kitchen and say, “You look just like that funny old fellow who is doing the Sistine Chapel".
We hope to go to Strathardle tomorrow – it’s been rather a long time. The remaining beans and raspberries and strawberries must have rotted on the vine by now. Alexander and Ketki and their boys will join us at the weekend, the beginning of their half-term. I hope to get the raised beds manured and tucked up for the winter.
The 2010 catalogues are beginning to turn up. It’s too soon for perusal, but I am enjoying thinking of next year in broad terms. I am resolved to master the growing of salad onions. They are often listed right up there with radishes as an easy crop for beginners. Not for me. I try every year. They germinate poorly, and then just stand there, the ones that do come up, little blades of grass.
I will study my books. Do they like lime? Hate lime? Like fertile soil? Prefer it impoverished? I will get several different packets of seeds and sow them in frequent succession. 2010 will be the Year of the Onion.
I think I will take the red socks along tomorrow, pushing the real Strathardle knitting aside yet again, my dusty pink Araucania sweater. The socks have been on the needles far too long. I am tired of them. And as soon as they’re gone, I can cast on some of my new KF yarn and watch it knit itself.
Thank you for all the help about machines that read aloud. I knew that the Kindle could do it, and it’s rather an attraction, but I think recordings of real people reading intelligently are the way to go. I listen to the radio in the kitchen quite a lot. Having someone read aloud to me would be even better than endless discussions of the news
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The Faculty Meeting Knitter has heard of my struggles with progress bars, and posted a most useful summary of how to do it through Ravelry. What I want to know now is, how did she know I’d been talking about her?
(I think I’ve found the answer, in Google Webmaster Tools. But in searching for it, and trying to use it, I’ve wasted valuable time. The computer got all huffy and window-is-not-responding, and I had to reboot, wasting more time. My sister-in-law is coming to lunch today, not a great kerfuffle but it behoves me to sweep the kitchen floor, and I meant this to be quick.)
So, on to knitting.
That's a view of the back, of course, because that's all there is so far, with the sleeves folded up into something like their final position.
Mother Lode is wound and will be knit into the ASJ today. When that’s done, all the colours will have been deployed except for Franklin’s Panopticon. I took a moment yesterday – how’s this for time-wasting? – assigning percentages to the different stages of ASJ-knitting, mitre-in, mitre-out, neck edge, skirt (where you lengthen the jacket), sleeves, edging and finishing. They may not be the right percentages, but they’ll serve for progress-bar use. The Christmas Project is easy, because I’ll assume that the five balls of Cocoon will more or less get used up, and derive percentages from how much yarn has been consumed.
Your observations are salutary, Dawn. Another problem for me is that I buy paperbacks, essentially, to read in the kitchen. It isn’t wise to have proper books in there, to read as I stir the soup. If I had a Kindle, I might well feel that it was too valuable for the kitchen as well, thus defeating the whole purpose. And does it need two hands? Maybe what I really want is a machine to read books to me, while I stir the soup or knit.
I must find out how James is getting on with his Kindle. His reason for buying was perfectly justifiable – that English-language books are slow and expensive to acquire, in China.
So I’ll watch and wait. The National Trust is advertising a cruise for next year which will call at both Fair Isle and Unst before going on to some interesting Scandinavian ports. I shall dream of taking my Kindle along when I go cruising (not a chance).
Monday, October 12, 2009
But big needles and big yarn made me feel stupid and clumsy, and I shall return with joy to my ASJ today.
I’ve given the Christmas Project a progress bar, as you see. EJ, I thought there must be a way to link Ravelry progress bars with a blog, because when you click on one of the Faculty Meeting Knitter’s projects, you find yourself in Ravelry. I’m grateful to you for the link.
I went and had a look. It’s not crystal clear (to me) how to do it, and anyway my Ravelry WIP page is sadly out of date. When I first joined, I fell upon it with enthusiasm, put in lots of WIPs, past and present, and photographed and catalogued my entire stash. But since then, things have slipped. I now drop by mostly to look for patterns, or to see who’s doing a pattern I am interested in.
Angel, I neglected to thank you for the tip-off about Kindle International. There was a big article about it in the Telegraph that day (but I had heard it from you first) and when one logs on to amazon.co.uk these days, the first page is devoted to it. It’s not yet for sale over here – you have to order it from America and pay shipping costs and customs duty. But that should soon change.
I don’t have much of an excuse for getting one. Except for reducing clutter around here by not buying impermanent-type books. Or even semi-permanent ones, like Hilary Mantel and Jhumpa Lahiri. And I’m curious about how I would like the experience of reading a Kindle.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I used to have multiple WIPs all over the place. I think, as much as anything, I was set on the narrow path by (as she later became) Greek Helen, asking once, “What’s that going to be, Mummy – if you finish it?”
I have embraced with enthusiasm the concept of “locational WIPs”. I ought to remember who coined that brilliant phrase – Google can’t seem to help. For years I have had my Strathardle knitting, and my travel-and-waiting-room socks, and my knitting-knitting. But recently, things seem to be expanding past that point.
One very positive advantage of the strait-and-narrow is that it makes it easier to recognise the moment when something just Isn’t Working. And to decide to abandon it, formally, instead of shoving it to the back of the cupboard and doing something else today.
I had pneumonia at some point in the ‘80’s, no fun at all, and part of why I remain nervous about Swine Flu. (How penicillin changed the whole landscape of human suffering!) But the recuperation period was, at least at first, rather delicious, sitting by the fire without responsibilities. I remember facing up to several of those back-of-the-cupboard UFOs, and promoting most to the status of TOADs (Trashed Object Abandoned in Disgust).
All this is an embarrassed preliminary to saying that yesterday, far from ordering yarn from Sweden, I went up to Lewis’s and bought yarn, nor was it cheap, for a Mystery Christmas Project, which I will cast on today. I don’t think the intended recipient is likely to read these words, but if s/he does, it will mean nothing when I say that Lynn Barr is involved, and Rowan’s Cocoon.
As you see, I’ve mastered progress bars. To advance them, I have to go into the HTML and change the numbers, but that’s easy, and better in many ways than dragging them.
Another good day with the ASJ, which I now lay aside rather reluctantly for 24 hours. I have nearly finished the first wave of winding skeins – there only remains Mother Lode to do, for the stripe after next, and Franklin’s Panopticon, when his turn finally comes. It will speed things up not to have to keep stopping to do that. I must have decreased more than 100 stitches – it is just slightly depressing to think that I will soon put them all back on again – and the underarm turning point is only three or four days away.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Just now, I typed “progress bar for blog” into a Google search box. Just those four words. And what should come up top, out of about 10,700,000 results, but “Knitters’ Progress Bars”? Exactly what I want, in words I can actually understand. A search engine with mind-reading thrown in.
What got me started on this was the progress bars the Faculty Meeting Knitter has in her sidebar. She’s clearly a yarn-buyer, and a multiple WIP’er. I particularly like the way she has some progress bars showing no progress at all – meaning, I suppose, that she’s bought the yarn and means to get around to the project one day.
I seem to be descending the slippery slope towards multiple WIP’ery myself, at a fairly rapid pace. I sort of feel that if I lined things up in progress bars, where I could see them all, I’d feel better about my state. James’s jabot, 38%. The February Lady Sweater, 0%. The Grandson Sweater, likewise. (I still haven’t ordered the yarn, but today may be the day.)
Worst of all, guilt-feeling-wise, I bought the latest Rowan book recently. I am horrified at how much they cost these days, but Helen C.K.S. said, when I expressed this horror, that it’s less than subscribing to a knitting magazine. And she's right, of course. I was in the post office, where we now have a ticket system for counter service. There turned out to be more than 20 numbers ahead of me, so I threw that ticket away, went to John Lewis’s yarn department (a due passi, as we say in Italian) and bought the Rowan book, and then went back to the post office and took another ticket and had a pleasant wait.
I don’t mean I feel guilty about buying the Rowan book, particularly. But something in it has inspired me to think of a Christmas present I might knit. Another yarn purchase? Another progress bar? And I don't do Christmas knitting. It's against all my principles.
I’m getting on fine. That final stripe is Amy’s Vintage Office, and that’s as wide as it’s going to get for now, although it will reappear one day. My progress here is sort of conducive to further extravagance. All that wonderful Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Sock yarn in famous blogger colours was a rash purchase. An ASJ in sock yarn is a lot of knitting. But I’m having such a good time on all fronts – I like the experience, like the result so far, love the colours – that I sort of feel I can do anything.
Tamar, I haven’t frogged my attempt at a CSJ as my Games entry last summer. I got it out, and I think I can see what you mean about the line of the decrease on the wrong side. I seem to have given up and thrown it across the room, in fact, when I reached the next stage and started increasing. Do I remember losing a stitch marker and not being able to replace it with certainty? A straight line of st st, with the increases on either side of it, is going to make that bit easy, too.
That’s a nice cat, all right, Stash Haus (link in comment yesterday). And I wish you joy of Kidsilk Haze. Few are the resolutions I am sure of keeping, but my determination never to touch that stuff again is high among them.
Dawn, my idea on weight loss is just to go on with my current blameless life forever(cider only on Sunday, no sugar, careful with the fat), and see where the weight winds up. There’s no counting or rationing or hunger involved. It’s a healthy way to live. The trouble will come the next time the sky falls, as it is eventually bound to do, and I want to reach for the bottle.
Friday, October 09, 2009
I think the single most important thing I was ever told about knitting, was said to me by Margaret Stove herself, and is: the first stitch the needle enters, for any decrease, is the stitch that will wind up on top.
Franklin, in his post for September 21, down at the end, illustrates some cool stitch markers he has been given, with “k2tog” and “ssk” on them. He adds, “I can never seem to remember which side of the damned gusset is k2tog and which is ssk”. He was just being polite, surely – and they are darling stitch markers. But all you really have to do is to remember the principle I have just enunciated, about which stitch will be on top, and then look at your knitting – a practice EZ always heartily recommended – to see which way the line is going.
The decrease I am using for my ASJ mitres is slip 2 tog knitwise, k1, p2sso. That is, you enter the next two stitches on the left-hand needle as if to knit them together, but you don’t, you just slip them. As you say in yesterday’s comment, Sue in CT. So the first stitch the needle enters is the centre one of the three, and it winds up on top. Then you purl it on the other side, and get a nice st st line.
EZ’s preferred decrease for the Surprise Sweaters was slip 1, k2tog, psso. That puts the first stitch of the three on top, and gives quite a different effect. It is with some trepidation that I advance a thought to contradict you, Tamar; I have never met anybody who knows so much about knitting. But I think we’ve got two different decreases here.
I used to spend hours with the books trying to figure out which decrease to use for what effect, before I knew that simple rule. I had a nice illustration of its usefulness last night.
I realized I had neglected to do one of the decreases, and decided to put it in on the wrong side, rather than tinking back. OK: so I’d be decreasing with a purl action, to preserve the st st line on the right side. How to centre it? The answer had to be, enter the next two stitches from behind, as if to purl them together tbl, slip them, purl 1, p2sso. It worked, although the top stitch is twisted at its base. I should have turned them on the right hand needle, before purling the next stitch.
I’m back up a pound this morning – that’s the way it goes. You have to watch for trend lines.
I mentioned recently that some old friends came to lunch. That's the photograph Mr. Friend took on parting. Maralyn, on the right, was once my husband’s secretary – and a brilliant one. (The cat, alas, is not ours. Or, partly alas. We don’t want black. We want tortoiseshell-and-white.) I don’t know how to explain my curious arm gesture, as if just out of traction, but the point is, I find I can now look at a full-length picture of myself without recoiling in horror. I have no ambition to look like Nancy Reagan.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I wonder whether the comparative immunity of old folks is just a reflection of the fact that many of us live out of the world, less exposed to danger. It’s folk like Mel and Angel who are close to lots of people every day, who are in trouble.
Angel, I’m sorry you’re so tired. It sounds tough. I’m glad you still call in here. And thank you for the Kindle link. There’s a phrase in there which makes it sound pretty certain that Amazon.uk will be selling the new international Kindle soon – and Christmas is coming. But I haven’t got time to read; I’ve got to knit.
I had another good day with the ASJ. I think, if I conscientiously neglect other responsibilities, I may reach the half-way point between cast-on and underarm today. I forgot to tell you that I had my first exciting session with my new double-headed crochet hook the other day. When I was knitting the swatch, I split several stitches. That isn’t happening with the real thing, but I found a stitch facing the wrong way, purled where it should have been knitted. It must have slipped off the needle and gone down a row and been replaced the wrong way.
It really didn’t matter. The smooth, st st side of the stitch was on the wrong side. But I wanted to have a go on the crochet hook. It wasn’t entirely easy, but I eventually more or less got the hang of it.
Here is the nice, straight line of one of the mitres. The trouble with EZ's prescribed decrease -- slip 1, k2tog, psso -- is that the line is difficult to follow even when established. Believe me, I tried.
The Faculty Meeting Knitter has just bought more yarn than (surely) she could knit in a year, following a yarn-binge in August. Angel got in a modest, sensible amount to celebrate her PhD. I had a good weigh-in this morning – another pound and a half, and I can say with hand on heart that I’ve lost two stone this year. Maybe today is Finullgarn day.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I've been reading your last blog entry, back in May. How the Pregnany Food Fascists have spread their nets since my day! I didn’t drink alcohol during pregnancy because we couldn’t afford it. I did (horrors!) smoke. I must have drunk coffee. Do statistics show that babies are better off these days?
Dawn, I’m sorry to hear you’ve joined the diabetic club. It’s an awful nuisance. The consolations are that the diet is what we should all be eating anyway, and drs can now keep you alive and well until something else kills you. It was not always so. Interesting, that you, in the Netherlands, already have appts for the swine flu injections. The nurse told us yesterday that our practice doesn’t know when it will get the vaccine, and doesn’t know who will qualify when they do.
I’m scared of swine flu, as I may have said. And the more people whose science I doubt assure me that old folks are immune, the scared’er I get. I did have one inspiriting thought recently: they said that swine flu would be back in the autumn, and that it might have changed into something worse. Well, it’s back all right, but it seems to be just about as bad as it was before. That’s bad enough, but it's not yet 1918.
But we’re supposed to be here for the knitting.
I love my ASJ. I’m going to be knitting it forever, and I don’t mind. It’s sort of the Basement Cat counterpart to the Princess: endless, and, in contrast to that project, utterly simple. I have concluded the initial Andersonville stripe and started on Tuscany. I’ve been a bit worried about whether I'll have enough Charcoal for the final edging, but that’s silly. This is sock yarn, for heaven’s sake. I can find an equivalent-weight dark brown or grey sock yarn.
I’ve got the architecture more or less clear in my head. You begin by casting on for a rectangle which runs along the top of the sleeves and across the shoulders in between. You knit, obviously, downwards, creating two mitres, left and right, which make the sleeves hang down at right angles to the back. When you have decreased a specified amount, you are at the underarm. Then you start increasing along either side of the stitch at the centre of the mitre.
I don’t yet grasp how the lines of those increases can possibly run down the front, as they do, whereas the original mitres are in back. It’s fiendishly clever, as I and the world have long said.
I’ve been reading the interesting chapter about fit and shape in the Melville book, “Mother-Daughter Knits”. (Helen C.K.S. and I agree on hating that title.) Maybe I should aim my ASJ at the Ideal Short Sweater Length – except that the contortions necessary to calculate it for one's particular self are probably beyond me. Maybe I'll add a collar.
Still no decision on the Grandson Sweater. We went on to the Gallery of Modern Art to see “Artists’ Rooms” yesterday after our flu injections, and when we came out there was a young man sitting on the steps of the gallery wearing a vaguely Nordic sweater with seeding on it, not nearly as nice as the one I have in mind. But if he was meant as a Sign, I don’t know which way he was pointing.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I’ve chosen “Andersonville” as the first colour in my ASJ, after the charcoal non-border. It’s slow work, but I’m enjoying it. I should have something to show you after a couple more days.
The idea, insofar as I could be said to have an idea, is to have a single or double ridge of charcoal at each colour change, and use it for the final edging. “Charcoal”, unexpectedly, turns out to mean a rich, dark brown. I’m not complaining, but a bit surprised.
Most of the colorways I’ve chosen, probably inadvertantly, are green-brown-yellow. That’s fine, too. There’s a skein of “Envy”, chosen deliberately to provide that occasional flash of chartreuse which KF often uses so effectively; and there are three skeins of “Amy’s Vintage Office”, which doesn’t fit in very well but at least doesn’t clash. Those two can appear in relatively narrow stripes. "Tuscany" has got some red, which will be welcome.
It’s a sock yarn. Amy’s Vintage Office will do brilliantly as socks. I think I’ve over-ordered, as usual.
And I think I’ve re-figured-out the basic architecture of the Surprise Jacket, and know where to deploy Franklin’s Panopticon.
Garter stitch is unforgiving, and I’m not really a very good knitter, but so far I’m pleased with the fabric.
All of the things I ordered in my recent burst of extravagance have now made it home, except for some sock needles from America. The most recent arrivals are the Melville Mother-Daughter Knits book, and “Custom Knits”. I haven’t really addressed myself to either of them yet.
Nor have I taken any action on the grandson-sweater matter.
Today we are going to have our Old Folks’ flu injections. As distinct from Swine Flu. I hope the nurse will be able to tell us what’s happening on that front.
Monday, October 05, 2009
I loved it dearly once, but now prefer the crisper east.
I knit as industriously as I hoped to do, and finished the second bedsock. Here it is.
I then resumed the current travel-and-waiting-room sock, finished the first one, and discovered why it’s taking so long, why it went all the way to Connecticut and back and made so little progress. The yarn is softer than the sock wool I usually use, prone to splitting, less crisp, less fun to knit. Lang Jawoll Silk, it’s called; it’s got some silk in it.
So I think I had better devote a day or two a week to it, and get it done. My husband tried on the first one and while it trembles on the edge of being too big, it’ll do.
But what I did last night was cast on the Adult Surprise Jacket, which is to be done in all those wonderful Famous Blogger colors of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. I started with Charcoal, to form a border, although I don’t really think the beginning is an edge. I’ve knit more Baby Surprises than I can count, and it surprises me every time. I only have one skein of Franklin’s Panopticon, so I must try to work out what will be a prominent place, and use it there.
Although this is going to be a Long Day’s Journey into Garter Stitch, as Meg says somewhere, the yarn is lovely on the hand, and I’m hugely looking forward to all the colours. I am centering the decreases this time, and purling that stitch on the other side, and even in Charcoal I can see a nice firm line already.
I haven’t forgotten the Grandson Sweater, and will think hard about it today – thank you for the help on ordering Finullgarn from Sweden, Catriona.
But today’s news is Japanese. “Flat-Style of the New Sense” turned up, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for:
I can’t even tell you the designer’s name. There’s a picture of what I take to be him, and he’s rather sweet, young, with spectacles.
What the English-speaking world needs is a Japanese knitting book in which half a dozen Japanese designers offer three or four patterns each, not interpreted, not re-interpreted, just translated, re-knit with accessible yarn and intelligible needles (Japanese needle sizes are neither English, American, nor metric), and re-photographed.
It writes itself. If Mrs Miles of Drummond Place can think of this, surely they had the idea at Interweave a couple of years ago. It must be nearly ready for publication by now.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Anna, the website you provided yesterday seems to fill the bill, Finullgarn-wise. I can’t see a proceed-to-checkout button, but it might reveal itself if I actually started ordering yarn. They don’t seem to show the colours, just a list of numbers – but Nordic Fiber Arts shows the colours and includes the numbers, so that’s all right.
Mel, I was touched by your offer to get the yarn for me and ship it, and deeply grateful. Home-made packages, especially if marked “gift”, are quite likely to escape the attention of H.M. Customs and Excise, although there’s no guarantee. But carbon-footprint-wise, it would be better for the yarn not to cross the briny twice, if it can be avoided.
We are going to Glasgow today to see Alexander and Ketki and their sons, and try to find a family grave in the Glasgow Necropolis (which is worth seeing on its own) – this is an offshoot of James’s family researches. If I apply myself, I should be able to finish the bedsock on the train journeys, and while sitting about in the evening not cooking supper. Back here Monday.
And next week I’ll face the Grandson Sweater/Finullgarn-ordering issue head-on.
Meanwhile, here’s the current state of the bedsock. My husband says the first one is comfortable, and stays on. It's wonderful how Kaffe's different colourways work with each other.
I’ll take the red travel-and-waiting-room sock along, too, the one that’s already been to Connecticut and back. I may well be able to make some progress on that too.
is pretty strange and wonderful. I’ve now got a stitch dictionary, an Heirloom Knitting book, with Aran and Fair Isle and such, and the latest issue of Keito Dama which must be the VK of Japan, but bigger and glossier than anything we’ve got except possibly the Rowan magazine. I’m still waiting for “Flat-Style of the New Sense”, direct from Japan.
The stitch dictionary looks the most accessible, and the stitches are wonderful indeed. One could start by swatching.
I have been taken through the Japanese system of pattern-writing-by-chart once at a session with Mrs Habu at K1 Yarns. The Needle Arts book shop has a good basic set of instructions on the subject. I think the thing to do would be to pick a design – there’s lots that's very nice, nothing that grabs me by the throat – and try to write the pattern in English.
The models are all European-looking.
The Glasgow branch of K1 Yarns is within an easy walk of Alexander’s house. But I think the Edinburgh branch is bigger and better, and anyway why would I want to go to a yarn shop? I’ve got yarn already.
Back here Monday, insh’Allah.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
I finally wrote to Nordic Fiber Arts, and had this sweet reply promptly: “I don't think the factory deals directly with retail customers, and unfortunately, I don't know the names of ANY shops in Norway.”
This morning I went to Ravelry, to pose the question there, and discovered promptly that the yarns are sold in Norway only through a chain of Nordic-Arts-type shops called Husfliden. I tried their website, found the yarn all right, but could see no hint that they do mail order. (My Norwegian is shaky, but I know “ull” and “garn” and “Rauma Finullgarn”. “Klikk her for…” seems intelligible, too.)
Why don’t I just hop on a ferry and cross the North Sea? There don’t seem to be any ferries from Scotland that cross the North Sea.
I could order yarn to be sent to my sister – she’s used to that – and she could bring it when she comes to see Rachel on her next trip to Africa. I think that’ll be in November.
But I don’t need any more yarn, or another project.
Meanwhile, here’s the present state of the 2nd bedsock.
And here’s my new KF sock yarn:
Old friends are coming to lunch today. Most of my life is devoted to cooking and eating – and here you thought it was knitting and vegetable-growing -- but even so the day will involve a certain amount of kerfuffle. So I will leave a discussion of my new Japanese knitting materials from the Needle Arts Bookshop until tomorrow.
A vegetable-growing note on which to conclude. I am going to put in some seakale, as part of my programme to make life a bit easier by extending the perennial aspect of vegetable-growing. Blanched seakale was a Victorian delicacy, and doesn’t sound all that difficult. I have just ordered five thongs – that’s what they’re called – from Marshall’s, to be delivered in March. When I originally google’d for “seakale thongs”, Google came up with the goods, as usual, but the ads in the right-hand sidebar were, for once, very wide of the mark.