Monday, November 30, 2009

I agree, Lisa, that that most interesting letter from the Shetland Museum is a remarkable feature of Fleegle’s remarkable story. Something will have to be done about getting it into print. The last journalism I actually ventured on was Gladys Amedro’s obituary for the Scotsman. It occurred to me then that maybe nobody would do it, if I didn’t, and I think I was probably right.

It was fun, doing the research by telephone like a real grown-up journalist. (I spoke to Amedro on the telephone once, but we never met and I certainly couldn’t be said to have known her.) Something of the sort may be necessary here, if I can’t nudge anyone else into doing it.

A good day’s hat-knitting yesterday. The early crown decreases occur only once every four rows, and therefore seem slow. Pretty soon I will begin to accelerate towards the end. Maybe I’ll postpone the ASJ and finish it off today.

That still leaves time for one more Christmas hat. I am thinking of a cashmere watchcap for a child, using the skein-and-a-bit of eggshell-blue yarn left over from Theo’s gansey – the one that was meant to be photographed with then-candidate Obama, although it never happened. I’m not quite sure I’ve got enough, and the handy how-much-yarn-do-you-need calculator Helen C.K.S. gave me as a first-foot present a couple of years ago, won’t work since I don’t know the length of a skein.

It’s uncomfortable, worrying about whether one has enough yarn. And I can’t think off hand of anything else to finish off the crown with if I run out. On the other hand, it’s a shame to waste that yarn.

This week’s excitements will be provided by seeing what happens to my Tickerfactory progress line when it gets to the end of the scale, and, I hope, by the arrival of a pompom maker. That’s proving slow.


I made a good start on the Christmas cards yesterday. I’m doing pretty well with the on-line present-ordering, too. I hope to advance both of those efforts today.

But the big excitement this morning will be toiling up the hill to view an auction sale to be held later this week – one of the items is a picture of our very house, by an artist who used to live in Drummond Place. The estimate of £6-8,000 puts it well out of our range, but if my Fairy Godmother is still trying to think of a Christmas present for me, there it is.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today’s knitting news is in Fleegle’s blog. A most remarkable project, a most remarkable achievement. I hope she – they -- will consider putting it in journalistic form. A knitting magazine should publish it – maybe the British “Knitting”, if IK isn’t interested -- and so should the Scotsman and/or the Shetland Times.

I found I didn’t even know what continent Fleegle lives on. She’s just a Super Knitter in my mental address book. I’ve trawled back a bit: she’s American.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

A good day of hat-knitting here. I should start the crown decreases today.

Thinking of the future: James and Cathy gave me some yarn for Christmas last year. It’s pretty fine, lace-weight. It’s called “Gold skin soft cashmere” – “Lightness, Softness, Comfort, Conservation”. (No goats were harmed in the making of this yarn? Or what?) Cathy said it isn’t, in fact, cashmere. It's pretty darn soft, whatever.

Until yesterday I thought half of the box was red, the other black. Yesterday, suddenly, in the horizontal winter sunlight, I saw that the dark balls are a deep brown-y purple. Wow.

I spent some time with the books, and I think I have chosen VLT’s romantically-named “Large Rectangle” as a scarf for myself. I’ll also offer the yarn to Greek Helen when she’s here in the summer – I think this has to be done in person – and we can discuss her lace shawl with stash spread around us.

I have some other Chinese lace-weight – unlabelled; I have wondered whether cashmere was involved. I bought it myself in a little shop. I think I thought, that day, that it was jumper-weight and I could meld it into my Shetland stash for future Fair Isles. But it’s not. The greenery-yallery shade seems utterly Chinese. I’d like to use it.

The colours are totally bleached out by the flash, even on the doorstep in what passes for natural light around here in late November. Interesting, though, that the dark yarn in the box is patently not black when photographed. I suspect there’s a year’s knitting right there, without venturing back into the house.

I was in the shop in Beijing that day with James – we had just happened to pass it, somewhere – buying black lace yarn to knit an Amedro-Cobweb-Evening-Wrap for Hellie. She had asked for one like the one I knit for her mother Rachel’s 40th birthday (how long ago!) and was completely unimpressed with what I could offer from stash. Black was clearly the new black, that year, for London’s teenagers.

I think I have enough left over of the (wonderful, as it proved) yarn I bought for that project to knit another one. The other skeins I threw in, as one does, because I wasn’t likely to pass that way again.


My next job, now that the income tax is filed, is to get started on the Christmas cards. It’s already late. Yesterday I got the 2008 pile out and sorted them into USA/Strathardle/rest of world/never-heard-of-him. But I didn’t get as far as actually writing one myself. Today I must.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mel, (comment yesterday) we have all seen the photographs: if you lost 2 ½ stone, you would softly and suddenly vanish away, as the Baker did when the Snark proved to be a Boojum. But you’re absolutely right that stress is a major problem in this area.

My husband was diagnosed diabetic sometime in the early 90’s, and after a long, long transitional period, I now really don’t like sugar. That helps. (I have read that the same thing can happen with salt, and that food actually tastes more interesting after the painful transition. If I could do that, I’d live forever.)

For comfort I mostly make do with tins of Green Giant sweetcorn (with or without added peppers), eaten from the tin. The urge to draw a cider-provided veil between myself and the stresses of life is slowly receding. I was pleased to note that I navigated Thursday, the filing of the income tax and the discovery that the dining room ceiling leaks, without feeling the need for a bottle.

Peanut butter remains a fatal lure. I can’t keep it in the house.

Speaking of cider, I found the local branch of the Wine Rack locked yesterday. The owner, Thresher’s, had been in administration for some time -- I knew that. I went in on Tuesday, after driving back from Strathardle in the rain worrying about whether the Forth Road Bridge would be open, to get a bottle of cider. (Home-from-Strathardle-lunch is a recognised exemption.) Shelves were thinly stocked, there was no Weston’s Vintage, and the manager, a friend from my more bibulous days, was sunk in gloom. No one was telling him anything. His first child, a little girl, was expected at any moment – already a week overdue. And he didn’t know whether he’d have a job next week.

Presumably he now doesn’t have one. He’s young and strong and responsible enough to manage an off-license. He should be all right in the end. But it’s very tough.

So, knitting.

Susan, the repair of that line of st st in my ASJ wouldn’t have involved the crochet hook – I was only a couple of rows past the spot when I found it, and the thing to do would have been to rip. The yarn is cheerful, independent stuff – picking up 294 stitches would have been perfectly possible, if slow. Better than the crochet hook, anyway. (But I didn’t do it, and still don’t regret it.)

And you’re absolutely right about how it must have happened. Despite being garter stitch, the ASJ has a clear front-and-back because I am joining in new colours consistently on one side, as Meg suggests. I must have purled a wrong-side row instinctively, and not noticed because the purl bumps fit in so neatly with garter stitch. It remains odd that I didn’t notice on the next row, either.

Here it is. My ambition is to finish the current section, the lengthening, next week, and start the edging. The st st row is in the broad red stripe near the bottom.

Slouch hat today, anyway. I’m having such fun that I may have to knit one for myself, when this holiday thing is over. It occurred to me yesterday that I could probably spend the whole year of the yarn-fast knitting with sock yarn. Then another two years knitting lace, and we might be beginning to get somewhere.

Friday, November 27, 2009

You win some, you lose some.

Yesterday began well, with a New Low (for ’09) at the morning weigh-in: V stone 11 ¾. I started off, early in Lent, at X stone 12, so it is now really true that I have lost two stone, although I have been claiming it for a while. I sort of feel that my ideal weight might be somewhere around V stone 7 – below that lies scrawniness. Back up to V stone 13 ¼ this morning – that’s the way it goes.

And the day continued well. I screwed my courage to the sticking point and filed our income tax return on-line. We are owed a small refund. That is because our income has declined in these hard times, but still it’s better than not getting a small refund.

However. Before we went to Strathardle last week, I left the income tax papers in neat piles on the sideboard in the dining room, each pile topped by a freshly-minted print-out summarising the results. When I went in to get started yesterday, I found the piles damp and wrinkled. Water had fallen on them. Through the ceiling. There was no other possible source.

That involved the nice G’s upstairs again, whose baby son Alexander died earlier this year. Much of the rest of the day was devoted to the problem. You never know, with water, but at least they are concerned and working on it. Their bathroom is above our dining room. They are going to the Royal Infirmary today for a conference with senior doctors about genetic incompatibility and the prospects for future babies.

(The G’s come into the category of people for whom I would break the yarn fast and knit a Tulip Jacket, if another pregnancy is forthcoming.)


I discovered an interesting thing, when I resumed ASJ-knitting after the Strathardle break: a whole row of st st in the midst of all the garter. I’ve left it, and it doesn’t worry me. It’s in the skirt part – I think it would look a lot worse in a vertical stripe during the mitreing bit. I don’t think I’m going to be able to photograph it, even.

But how did it happen? There are only two possibilities:

1) that I knit two consecutive rows from the same end. In order to do that, I would have had to detach and re-attach the yarn. That manifestly didn’t happen. So what must have happened is that

2) I did 294 purl stitches without noticing what I was doing. Incredible.

Speaking of leaving things: the ear-flap hat has a hem, and one is told to do it by folding the hem inside and knitting one stitch from the cast-on edge with one stitch on the needle, all the way around. I know perfectly well that I am incapable of doing that sort of thing on the wing (i.e., without picking up all the stitches in advance and carefully counting them) but I tried, and it came out more than a bit skewed.

I went forward for a whole inch and more, telling myself that it would smooth out in the blocking, before ripping back and leaving the hem hanging. I did it with a needle at the end. It looks fine, smooth as a millpond.

So I am capable of ripping, when it has to be done. When in doubt, take it out, is a good rule of life. I’m not in doubt about leaving the ASJ with its odd mistake.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, I guess. I’m glad not to be involved. The family is celebrating in London this weekend, unless it was last weekend. My sister and her husband are with Rachel on one of their frequent transits from Africa to CT, and Alexander and Ketki have brought their sons south for the occasion. Maybe we’ll be sent some pics.

Wet, is what it was when we were away. The east of Scotland got off fairly lightly, compared to the Borders and Cumbria. Even so, it was wet. Rivers and burns roared and strayed beyond their banks although they didn’t actually flow down the high streets of Kirkmichael or Blairgowrie or Perth or Bridge of Earn. We are not wimps, and we able to work outside every day except Saturday.

I got some space prepared for the seakale, and covered. The kale is gone already; the villains were early this year. I put plastic sawn-off water bottles over some of the stumps, in hopes of some greenery in the spring. I planted some tulipa sylvestris bulbs which are supposed to naturalize. We climbed up ladders and cleaned cold, soggy leaves out of the gutters.

Speaking of rivers, we buy old postcards of Strathardle on eBay these days, as well as Vogue Knitting Books. Here is our latest, surely a candidate for the title of Most Boring Postcard Ever Sold. It is unused, so there is not even the excitement of an old message and a stamp with the picture of a king. Bidding was somewhat less than frantic. We love it.


I was assiduous, as hoped. The ear-flap hat is finished, except for its pom pom. I am delighted with it. It will be delivered first-hand at Christmas, insh’Allah, and we can have a picture then.

Then I started the Sock Yarn Slouch Hat, another free Ravelry download. I’m having a great time, now that we’re back here. As we were leaving, I snatched up sock needles – appropriate for sock yarn, no? – and my new Addi circular sock needle, which arrived just in time, and a skein from the Yarn Yard called “Bonny”, which it is.

What I hadn’t figured was that with 192 stitches neither itsy bitsy sock needles nor an itsy bitsy circular would exactly cut the mustard. I managed, with a combination of them all, but it was slow. Here in Edinburgh I have head-sized circulars in every gauge known to knitting, a legacy from a Christmas long ago – before I was a grandmother, even – when I knit hats for everybody.
Now that the stitches are happily settled on one of those, I’m whizzing along. Weekends for the hat and other days for the ASJ should do it nicely.


Did you know that the Schoolhouse Press is giving away – free download – the pattern for the famous Schiaparelli Bowknot sweater?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dis aliter visum.*

We got as far as Bridge of Earn, stopped for lunch as often, discovered that my husband’s spectacle case was empty. This happened once before, and we managed a whole four or five days of talking to each other over our meals instead of reading the New Yorker. But it wasn’t to be contemplated at this time of year, when darkness drives one in to the fireside by 5. And I wasn’t too keen about having to fill the syringes for insulin injections, either.

So we came back.

And start today tired and out of sorts. We’ll try again.

Don’t miss Franklin’s London alphabet. I wondered if we’d meet at the Royal Academy on our last day in London recently (November 9) – he was going to appear at I Knit London on (I believe) the 11th, and his blog had already featured transatlantic airplanes. But, alas, no.

Angel, Rowan Cocoon, in which I have recently finished a Christmas project, is seriously soft and cosy (also seriously expensive). Just Fisherman’s Rib it? I haven’t got any ideas for your Swiss friend. That's the trouble with the pricey IK book: they don't seem to realise the pressure of time, or the possibility that you might have more than one friend to knit for.

Last night I knit some ear-flap hat – which I had expected to be doing in front of the fire at Burnside – and some ASJ, starting the length-extension. I think I want about seven more inches. I couldn’t hit upon a rule for dividing the time between the two. I hope Strathardle will see the hat finished.

Have a look at the Fishwife’s ear-flap hat. No Fair Isle, no stripes, just utterly nice. Lucky Lad!

She suggests that I – and all other bloggers – put in a plug for p/hop, a fund-raising site for Medecins sans Frontieres, the brain-child of Natalie at the Yarn Yard. p/hop means “pennies per hour of pleasure” and MSF is about as worthy a cause as you can get. On the website you can, among other things, download knitting patterns that designers have contributed and then send an appropriate donation of your own choosing.

Off we go again. Back on Wednesday, maybe.

*"The gods thought otherwise."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A good day, yesterday. I got the income tax return ready to submit – including logging on briefly to the government site to make sure that ID and password still work. I almost went ahead and filed it, but decided that it is a job better kept for the morning when synapses are firing. And not today, since we’re going to Strathardle.

The weather forecast is more than a bit Novembrine, but at least it doesn’t include snow. I want to get a site chosen and prepared for my sea kale thongs, and I want to net the common-or-garden kale (if it’s still there) against the winter incursion of deer. Anything else is parsley. There’s plenty of wood to cut and knitting to do.

I made a good start on the ear-flap hat (Ravelry link) yesterday, after polishing off the tax. The ear-flaps grow organically out of the hat by a most ingenious employment of short rows. I hope the Fishwife will allow us a picture of hers soon.

I’m not going to put in any Fair-Isle-ery, just some stripes. This is the season for getting things done, I feel.

Meg, I forgot to thank you for pointing me to the hat in the new Twist Collective. They’re awfully good, aren’t they? Going from strength to strength, I think. I like Tanit’s Jacket, and the Dryad shawl.

I have knit Amedro’s Cobweb Evening Wrap – first, as written, for Rachel’s 40th birthday, which I am afraid was rather a long time ago. Then, same shape but with Heirloom Knitting lace patterns substituted, for her daughter Hellie, and finally – again with pattern substitutions – for my sister. She wore hers at Theo and Jenni’s rehearsal dinner, and my travelling companion on that occasion, Greek Helen, said she wouldn’t mind one herself.

If there’s one thing my stash is rich in, it’s lace yarns. So I mean to do something about that during this year of abstinence. And the Dryad is a possible alternative to more Amedro. I do think the long, narrow triangle is a very wearable shape.


Sharon Miller’s new gossamer cashmere. Oh, dear.

And my husband says he wants a sleeveless pullover. If there’s one thing my stash is not rich in, it’s sweater’s-worths of yarn of any one colour. I’ll have to think about that one. There may be a work-around.


I agree, Tamar, that the neck looks empty, but that may improve. The whole thing will eventually have an edging, about an inch wide, which will both fill the neck from below and bring it in from the sides. We shall see.

Back early next week, insh'Allah.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Success at K1 Yarns. The tie-dye sock kit was even better than I expected, because the colour is in the ties. The owner, who sounds transatlantic, like me, said that she found them in the States and then got together with the Knitting Goddess to make up the kits. So, no mess in the kitchen. You tie the skein, lovely alpaca, with various colours in various places, and stew it for a while.

My only mistake was buying IK’s “Holiday Gifts” without even looking at the cover price, on the theory that since I wasn’t buying yarn for myself, I could have anything else I wanted. It was expensive and I fear useless.

Here’s the ASJ, photographed in November's early morning gloom, mitres finished, superimposed on a favourite old jacket. Now comes the part where decisions will be needed:

1) how long? That should be relatively easy.

2) What to do about the sleeves? Mid-forearm, unshaped? Or tapered to the wrist? And if the latter, a ribbed cuff or more garter stitch? Knitter’s Fall 2000 (in the glory days of Nancy Thomas’ editorship) reprises the ASJ, with tapered sleeves and garter stitch cuffs. It looks as if they would drag in the soup.

3) A collar? That decision, at least, can be left until the very end.

The Mysterious Christmas Project has embarked on its final pattern repeat, so I think the thing to do today is polish it off and then start the ear-flap hat so that I can iron out any early problems before taking it to Strathardle tomorrow. I’m uneasy about the discomfort of knitting with a short circular. I did the swatch that way, back and forth of course – even EZ wouldn’t expect you to knit a swatch cap when planning a hat. And it wasn’t entirely comfortable.

(I was electrified yesterday by the Fishwife’s discovery of a comfortable circular sock needle. I quite like knitting with dp’s, I don’t like the Magic Loop or Two Circulars. A comfortable circular would be heaven, and output should double, at least.

So, since starting to write the paragraph above – it’s all happening before your eyes – I went to Pavi Yarns, following the link provided by the Fishwife, and ordered one for myself. And then I thought, why not? and also ordered one in the size I used for that hat swatch.)

Rosesmama, I fetched out the Summer 2007 IK you mentioned, and I can’t find the update on the Maltese Fisherman’s Hat, which I would very much like to see. Could you look again and give me the page reference?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Christmas-card-selling went well, but left me prostrate with exhaustion. Something about interacting with the real world. Better this morning.

Today’s project – I might as well be up-front about this – is to go to K1 Yarns and look at kits for tie-dying sock yarn. I had an email from them on the subject, and I thought it might make a good Christmas present for a granddaughter, accompanied by a promise to knit her a hat or scarf or even socks, as requested, with the result.

I Googled for such things, after I heard from K1 Yarns, and found examples in the US but nothing in Britain.

You’ll just have to take my word for it, that this wouldn’t count as “buying yarn”. And I will have to resist the siren voices of the rest of the shop, of course. Perhaps I should go in blindfolded.

Isn’t it funny how pom-pom-making suddenly seems to be everywhere? The gadget the Fishwife’s daughter is using to churn them out must be the same thing I’ve just ordered, and Angel’s mother uses.


As you see, the Mysterious Christmas Project is within a few inches of completion. And the ASJ needs only one more increase row – I should manage that today with any luck at all, and produce a photograph for tomorrow.

We’re hoping to go to Strathardle this week, probably on Wednesday. It’s time to organise the annual digging-out of the ditch that runs along beside our driveway. It fills up with leaves and eventually overflows, flooding the driveway and making a mess of the adjacent field. One of the distinct perks of old age is that we’re too feeble to do it ourselves anymore.

I’ll take along an ear-flap hat to knit. I’ve done half a swatch, two strands of Araucania Ranco held together, and I like the resulting fabric. In fact, I’ve thought of someone else on the Christmas list who might also like such a hat.

What is an i-cord machine, as mentioned by Tamar and catdownunder? A real machine with moving parts? or a variation on the old wooden cotton reel with four nails knocked into one end? That was my first experience of knitting, remembered with delight. For the ear-flap hat(s), however, I think I’ll probably go with a plait after all.

(Catdownunder is well worth reading for the experience of drought -- easy to put out of one's mind in the northern hemisphere in November.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It’s all your fault, Angel – or, rather, your mother’s. I’ve just ordered a pom-pom maker. It certainly sounds easier (and – dare I say it? -- more fun) than the old cardboard-circle system.

(JeanfromCornwall, how right you were the other day about the modern ease in obtaining materials. And it works both ways – a specialist supplier like Heirloom Knitting can sell to the world without the trouble and expense of a central London shop front. The Internet has to be up there with nuclear fission as one of the defining and transforming events of the 20th century.)

I am very grateful to you, Mary Lou, for the earflap hat pattern, and to you, Fishwife, for the Ravelry reference to the earflap hat pattern generator. That’s a keeper, for anyone who has a teen-aged head to knit for. Are you going to try to line yours, as Angel did and like the one your son admired?

So no heavy cotton, and no intarsia flowers, but I see a hat looming. I’m sorry to abandon the Ganomy (for the moment). It sounds an interesting idea, and I’m keen on mitres. But it’s a sound general rule of life, to aim for the product your recipient actually wants, rather than the one you think would do just as well.

What yarn? I don’t have much of anything in the way of bulky or super bulky, so I can’t use your kind gift, Mary Lou, straight out of the box, so to speak. I spent some time in the stash cupboard yesterday, reflecting rather glumly that if I do achieve a year without yarn-buying, the difference in there will scarcely be noticeable.

I considered Koigu. I have a substantial collection, which I hoard like Silas Marner his groats (or crowns or ducats or whatever they were). But maybe too light? I am rich in sock wool, to put it very mildly. Maybe two strands of that held together? I haven’t done that for a long time, but I remember the resulting fabric as easy to achieve and rather nice: firm and smooth.

As for actual knitting (as distinct from potential): I’m back in the saddle, so to speak. The ASJ now lacks only five increases – ten long, long rows – before I reach the centre front and leave a lot of stitches on hold and reveal it in all its potential glory. So I’ll postpone photography until then. The Mysterious Christmas Project is very near completion now – as you can see, because I’m keeping its progress bar up to date. I may be able to polish it off this weekend and get on to hat-swatching.

Silence here tomorrow. I’m going to be selling Christmas cards for Burma Assist at the RC cathedral in the morning, and before I do that I’ll have to make my own breakfast – can’t face the day without my porridge – and my husband’s, and lunch. Back Monday, insh’Allah.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I got a couple of those spurious comments yesterday, advertising things or perhaps more sinister. It took me a while (due to own stupidity) to find and remove them. The email from Blogger incorporating a new comment gives the first few words of the post in question (like the archives in the side bar). The first spurious comment was attached to a post that began, “Rarely if ever can a non-knit topic have been…”

I got that one, after some thought. Peter Davison modelling a Fair Isle sweater pattern, in February of this year.

The other began, “I’ve done a half pattern-repeat, nine rows, on…”

What on earth? The current Mysterious Christmas project has a 15 row repeat. The Griswold stole, recently finished, is 14 or 28, depending on how you reckon – a 14-row repeat is then offset by half. The Princess edging is 20 rows, and the centre, if we’re going back that far, more than 40.

I finally grasped what should have been obvious, that I could click on a link in the email itself. The answer is Alexander’s Calcutta Cup sweater, discussed in February, ’07. What is the point of such comments? Nobody’s going to go back that far and read it and be impressed.


Last Sunday while we were in London, there was a picture in the Sunday Times Magazine or Style section – did anyone see it? – of a vaguely Peruvian-shaped white cotton hat, heavy yarn, with ties and pompoms, decorated with three or for largish intarsia flowers. It cost £130, or maybe £160. I passed the picture wonderingly around the crowd, and Rachel’s younger daughter Lizzie said meekly that she’d really like a hat like that.

I’m thinking Gonomy. And I’ve emailed Rachel to ask her to ask Lizzie which are the elements particularly admired. If white-with-intarsia-flowers is essential, enthusiasm flags. But Gonomy would produce the shape, roughly, and stash yarns could produce some jolly stripes, and I could bring myself to add i-cord ties. Making pompoms is against my religion, but maybe they can be purchased.


Dawn, I haven’t decided which grandson to aim for, with the Grandson sweater. One of the grownups, of course – that narrows it down to Rachel’s two sons. They’re not far off each other in size. (They are side-by-side among the Various Grandchildren in the sidebar, and Joe, in the blue sweatshirt, is not as bulky as he looks there.) Maybe they could take turns with it. The Knitting Doctor has recently (November 2) finished a plain-vanilla sweater for her sweetie, and it’s a lesson to us all on how good a sweater looks if it fits properly.

So maybe I’d better pick a grandson and concentrate hard. I think I’ll see them both over the Christmas holiday – but by then I may want to have cast on.

Non-knit: I stopped off at Waverley station on my way back from the Eye Pavillion on Wednesday, and found a woman who found me some leaflets which suggest that we may get a full refund for our northward journey on Tuesday. If the delay is more than two hours -- we generously exceeded that measure. We filled out the forms and sent them off yesterday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll take those two Progress Bars down tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A quick touching-of-base. No photograph.

We’re poised for London. Catching the train will be tough. Once on it, a happy day’s knitting stretches ahead, with the latest collection of Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories to fall back on.

Yesterday went well. The Secret of Life is not to do any ironing or cleaning. Then it becomes possible to achieve quite a bit, even if slowed down by old age. I think the income tax is about ready for on-line filing. A terrifying prospect, but I’ve done it twice before. And this year, I’ve left things so late that I’ve missed the deadline for filing on paper.

I’ll double-check everything when we get back, and then just do it – in time to start on the Christmas cards.

I attended to the must-do’s-before-we-leave, unless I’ve forgotten some of them, and got quite a bit of knitting done, as well. I’ve reached the 15th increase row, of 25, on the front of the ASJ. And finished a skein of Charcoal – all stash-holders will recognise the thrill of actually finishing a skein. And knocked off two full repeats of the Mysterious Christmas Project.

The discussion of sleeved shawls has been interesting (yesterday, including comments). It is a demonstration, I am absolutely sure, of the thesis that great minds think alike. I am sure that Sarah Hatton’s pattern and the previous Sleeves-in-Your-Pi were separate inspirations. (Although I read something by a classical scholar once about the difficulty of knowing whether the brilliant idea that occurs to you in your bath is indeed original, or something you read four years ago.)

I’m glad to hear (Fleegle’s comment yesterday) that Sleeves-in-Your-Pi is still popular on Ravelry. And I will remember, if it makes its way back to my HALFPINT list, her idea of shaping the sleeve caps.

Day is forming outside the window. It is time to face up to it. Goodbye for now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sorry about yesterday’s gap, especially as I had been looking forward to labelling it “La Fete des Morts”.

Good progress, however, on the knitting fronts. The Christmas Project is moving along nicely, as is the ASJ. For the latter, I had to do 25 more increase rows – that’s 50 long, long rows of knitting – after reaching the neck edge, to get me to the front edge. I’ve done 11 of them. It would be nice to reach 13 today, half-way, before we go off to London tomorrow. Back in the middle of next week, insh'Allah.

Helen C.K.S. will be the one with her finger on the trigger when the deadline comes up later this week for that Vogue Knitting Book I have my eye on. She has nerves of steel, and has acted as my agent on several similar occasions in the past.

If the weather is reasonably cooperative, I’ll take a picture of the ASJ today just lying there, not forced into something approaching its final shape. I’ve just finished a narrow stripe of Envy and am about to go on to a broader one of Roadside Gerry.

I’ve printed out the free pattern for the Claudia hat. Now that we’re actually in November, however, time presses, and I can begin to feel panic at the back of my throat. The Income Tax! The Christmas cards! One thing to be said for these dreadful, dark months – they go by all too fast.

Here’s a question for you:

Take a look at this (November 2), Fleegle’s recent, splendid FO. (I don’t read The Knitter – who’d have thought there’d be a magazine I’d skip? – but I do extravagantly admire Sarah Hatton’s work.) However, the question is this – there was a sleeved shawl in one of the magazines, probably Knitter’s, within living memory. It spent some time on my HALFPINT list before slipping back into oblivion.

Does anyone remember it?

[My notes are better than I thought they were -- I'm thinking of "Sleeves in your Pi", Knitter's, Winter 2000. I haven't looked at it yet.]

I really ought to document the HALFPINT list more carefully. I used to keep notes in my electronic Filofax of interesting patterns in the magazines as they slipped by. I haven't noticed anything worth recording in Knitter's since 2003 but, as you see, I found that useful note on an earlier page.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Scam

Mary Lou, thank you for that most interesting comment, which I have forwarded to Mary. An English friend of hers phoned the police on Friday, but they weren’t interested. Whereas in your stepmother’s case, Western Union already knew. Maybe this is a standard-variation scam these days. Maybe the police take it more seriously, states-side.

Gretchen, the scammer had thought of your points: “I would have loved to call you but i don't have any money on me and the hotel telephone has been disconnected at the robery incident” and “I've been to the US embassy and the Police here are not helping issues at all.” It doesn’t stand up when you think about it, but when you think you’re reading a message from a friend it is, at least for a moment, unsettling.

And it is very unsettling to think of a hacker not only hacking, but reading one’s emails to construct a plausible appeal. As if a burglar went through your underwear drawer.


I moved forward yesterday, but not very far. Less than an inch on the ASJ, and a full repeat but no more on the Mysterious Christmas project. It’s too wet for a doorstep photograph this morning. The latest stripe is Pilsen.


My sister grumbled in a telephone call the other day that my blog was of little interest these days, being all about knitting. She should enjoy this one, at least.

I’ve been holding back on this, but it’s all completely public-domain. The Chambers of which Thomas-the-Younger is a member has been much in the news lately.

And Thomas himself has at last got his page on the 4 New Square website. They make much of his months at JP Morgan Chase without mentioning that his Aunt Ketki was influential in securing the post for him.