Saturday, December 19, 2009

I think this would be a good point at which to pause for the hols. Happy Winter Solstice, everybody – except for Kate and her friends, who will have to watch the light retreat henceforth. (Alice, as she fell down the rabbit hole: “How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards. The antipathies, I think.”)

The ASJ is finished, except for its two buttons and a couple of loose threads, no more. I wanted to rush ahead and get it blocked so that it will be dry in time for Loch Fyne. It’s a light yarn, and I’ll move it in to the cosy kitchen tomorrow or Monday. Looks OK, but the proof of the pudding…

I hope to have some action photographs when we get back, of that and of my Christmas knitting. Maybe even one of me in my green suede jacket.

Here’s a pic of the left-over yarn, easily enough to knit another ASJ except that I’ve used slightly more than half of the Charcoal. Thus are stashes formed.

I think I’ve come through these dark days in slightly better form than usual, with only occasional glimpses into the abyss. This could be due to:

a) taking a lot of vitamin D;
b) the placebo effect of taking a lot of vitamin D;
c) the weight loss. Nobody seems to notice my new, trimmer self but two stone is a lot of luggage not to be carrying around, and I feel much sprightlier;
d) the lo-cider element of my regime – alcohol is depressing; or
e) just one of those things.

I'll relax my regime a bit over the hols, although I won't be sending out for any deep-fried Mars bars (not a joke: they are a well-known Scottish delicacy). But cider! cheese! bacon! that sort of thing.

I didn’t buy any yarn yesterday. John Lewis only had a couple of balls of Rowan’s Calmer, uninspiring of colour, and the whole frantic atmosphere of the place disinclined me to spend any money for anything. My current thought is the Coward’s Solution – two chemo caps, one cashmere and one sock yarn.

So – goodbye, God bless, see you next year sometime.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I am very grateful for all your help with my chemo cap project. Holly, I’ve downloaded and printed the lace-edged cap you like. I’ve got another prescription-collecting job to do at Boots this afternoon – I’ll look at Rowan “Calmer” in John Lewis. I don’t think I’ve heard of it. I’ve got cashmere, and abundant sock yarn, and Jaggerspun Zephyr which Sharon suggested in a private message, but no “Calmer”.

“Calmer” would mean breaking the yarn fast, but this is serious.

My cold continues subdued. I had a grand time yesterday, got shoes, fairly silly-looking but dark and I think comfortable. I went to East and bought a skirt which I needed and a glorious jacket which I didn’t.

I’ve gone down a dress size. The pleasure of plucking the 1*’s from the rack, instead of the 1?’s, fearing that alone in the dressing room I would burst out of them like Tom Kitten, and finding that they fit nicely, with ease! You can imagine. Skirt and jacket are both dark green. It needs but a green hat with a feather and I can be Robin Hood in a Pantomime.

I’m down to the last few rows of the ASJ. I should finish today, and start on the finishing (so to speak). One now reaps the benefit of those endless rows – there’s not much seaming, just the shoulders and, continuing on down, the top of the sleeves. And fewer ends to deal with than might otherwise have been the case.

Alexander phoned last night and proposed coming to get us next week, instead of my driving west. It is a delightful prospect, and wonderfully good of him, considering especially that he is about to host a house-party of indeterminate length for 13 people. (Add in the home team of four, and we won’t be 13 at table: don’t worry.) We will have to return by public transport, but that should be easy when we have left behind 15 presents and a Christmas pudding and an (empty) bottle of Savigny-les-Beaune. And some other stuff.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 1600th post. This is ridiculous.

One of the seriously depressing aspects of this time of your, at our age, is the certainty, as one sits down to write the Christmas cards – “Dear Frank and Jane”, “Dear Evan and Brenda” – that the incoming tide will bring bad news of someone, from somewhere. Gone the days when one's friends' Christmas cards reported their children’s successes and marriages and childbirths of their own.

We had some bad news yesterday, from old friends in Birmingham. They came to see us in April, in Holy Week. He seemed, then, to be fading, she as strong and energetic as ever. But she told us that day of the cancer she had survived. It was a big ‘un.

Yesterday’s card said that his kidneys have failed, and she is back on chemotherapy.

I thought I’d knock out a chemo cap, over the hols. Ravelry is bursting with patterns, all free downloads. But I sort of incline towards the simplest of cloches, cast on and knit upwards in st st and let it roll itself upwards to make a brim.

I had a wee rustle around the stash this morning. I’ve got some Cherry Tree Hill cashmere and silk, not as luxurious to the touch as that composition suggests. Almost string-like. But it would be non-irritating. I’ve knit a chemo cap with it before. There’s some Jade Sapphire Mongolian cashmere, utterly wonderful to the touch. It would be like having a light-weight cat on your head, And some Brown Sheep Handpaint Original, mohair and wool. I’m not sure that that wouldn’t be ever so slightly prickly.

Or Koigu? Or sock yarn? Advice welcome.

A day of some progress yesterday. I think my cold has passed its apogee. My sister-in-law sounded grateful on the phone that I wasn’t proposing to inflict it on her, and happy with the idea that we should just postpone the present-exchange until after Christmas. So now I’ve got today, during which I mean to get those shoes and drop in at East.

I had a good run at the ASJ yesterday – only 3 ½ inches to go on the second sleeve. It was a good idea to finish off that endless edging first. Yesterday’s activities involved the old one-two of prescription-picking-up and post-office-queueing – Boots and the PO are opposite each other in the horrible local mall – so I went on into John Lewis nearby and bought buttons. There are still six evenings here, unless I get into a terrible twist over present-wrapping. That should finish ASJ and cashmere watchcap both – and perhaps even leave a moment to swatch the chemo cap, so I know what size needles to take along when we head west on Wednesday.

El Dorado

Jenny, it’s wonderful to meet another El Dorado fan. I actually went on a demonstration, when it went down. We rode on a bus, perhaps open-topped, from Euston Station to Broadcasting House and presented a petition, I think to Anne Robinson. I still have my demonstrator's tee-shirt, "I Am One in 8 Million" (referring to the audience-size), and I wear it for gardening when Strathardle weather allows.

Tamar, that’s a very good question – what should the programme have been called? I like your idea very much, “Paved With Gold”. I’m trying to think of something with sunshine in it – so far no success.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Soap operas

It’s “Neighbours”.

For many years, it was “Crossroads”. We lived in Birmingham, and the ITV studios weren’t far away. We often saw the actors in our local shops. It involved a real effort of will not to smile at them. It was one of Thomas-the-Elder’s very first words. Rachel was giving him a bath one day when he started pushing her away and trying to say something. She realised he meant, it’s time for Crossroads.

When it went down, we struggled to find a replacement. At last! “El Dorado”. That one was good. It only lasted a year – Alan Yentob killed it, and has never been forgiven. I should have written my letter to them, which was to suggest they change the name. It sounded like foreign muck to half the population, and like something you didn’t really want to watch, to the rest. It was set in a British expatriate community in Spain, a brilliant idea. I read somewhere once that Marks and Spencer doubled the sale of a certain soup when they stopped calling it “vichyssoise” and re-labelled it “leek and potato”.

Now we’ve got Neighbours. We tried “Home and Away” the last two days. I found it unbearable.

My cold is no better. I spent yesterday afternoon in bed. Like my husband’s cold which preceded, it remains confined to the head. It means we can’t go to lunch with my sister-in-law tomorrow for the annual exchange of Christmas presents – she has suffered a series of chest infections in the last 18 months, and has been in and out of hospital. Currently she’s on steroids and bouncing about like a spring lamb, but I still don’t want to go near her carrying an active respiratory virus.

What are steroids? The Wikipedia entry seemed completely irrelevant to my sister-in-law’s problems.

So Christmas chores are being pared down where possible. Fortunately knitting doesn’t involve much expenditure of energy. I’ve finished the first ASJ sleeve and picked up the stitches for the second. Both that and the hat should be ready for Loch Fyne – a week today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I think I’m getting a cold, like the one from which my husband is continuing to recover. A simple cold, streaming eyes, sore-ish throat, much sneeze, nothing worse. One is torn between the perceived need to soldier on and the known need for caution.

Christmas is going well – I should polish off the last couple of recalcitrant Christmas cards today, and move on to the much more arduous task of present-wrapping. One more session with the post office queue is inevitable. I need new shoes – I can’t go to Loch Fyne in these.

And I have another costume from East in mind – skirt, blouse, jacket. Unnecessary and extravagant. But tempting.

I need to get some cider in for this coming Sunday, and for coming home to. That involves an expedition, now that the local off-license has closed. And the rest of this week (but not next Monday or Tuesday) is dotted with appointments.

You get the idea. I’m sure your own week is worse. Our soap opera, the half hour when we sit down at the end of the day and I pick up my knitting, has unexpectedly been withdrawn from the television schedules. We’d expect it to go off over Christmas, but this week? Britain is about to close down for a fortnight. It behoves all of us to behave normally this week.


I would have finished the first ASJ sleeve last night, but that I had to wind skeins for the last two stripes. “Franklin’s Panopticon” went fine, “Charcoal” for the final border got in a tangle. I should use the swift more often and rely on my knees less.

Beverly, I shouldn’t have spoken so hastily of Schultz’ patterns looking ridiculous. I was mainly thinking of his “mantel aus 4-fach-patches”, a knee-length coat of electric blue, worn by a white-haired 60-year-old. It would stop the traffic in Drummond Place. But the basic idea is fine. It could be half the length, and it doesn’t have to be blue, which is not my colour anyway. The book is full of good ideas.

How we all miss You Knit What?

Speaking of which, Donna Druchunas is full of enthusiasm for a book called “Crazy Lace”. I don’t believe it. I don’t think you can sit down and just let rip and create worthwhile knitted lace, any more than you could design a bridge that way. Nor do the photographs from the book incline me to revise that opinion. But I am open to persuasion. Has anyone seen and tried to use it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

I think my husband’s cold is receding. We will continue to be very careful.

The hat reached the crown-shaping stage yesterday. One more session should polish it off.

But back to the ASJ today. I missed the chance of some sunshine yesterday, for picking up the stitches of the other sleeve, what with Mass-going and lunch-cooking. So far, today doesn’t look very promising.

Unrelated trivia

Yesterday’s sermon was delivered by a priest who tends to go on too long. I played a game my husband taught me, from his school days. You listen for a word beginning with A, then for a B, and so forth. It’s harder than it sounds. You have to sort of print the text in your head as it is delivered. I imagine that it creates on the face of the player a look of rapt attention most gratifying to the preacher. It would work as well for any tedious speech. I got all the way up to P yesterday. That’s pretty good.

Mel, thank you for the German rendition (comment yesterday) of “theologiques, nourrissants et morbifuges”. I was reminded of a favourite comment on Horace’s poem “O fons Bandusiae”, addressed to a spring on his farm in the Sabine hills. He says (rightly) that his poem will cause it to rank among the famous fountains. A German commentator on that line explains, “Such [famous fountains] were Arethusa, Castalia, Dirce, Hippocrene and is now near Schulpforte the Klopstocksquelle.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My husband is no worse, I’m pretty sure, but – at best – not much better. Franklin’s near-death experience is sort of encouraging. He pulled through. He also introduces a new temptation for the yarn dieter – Lorna’s Laces Fisherman Yarn. I hadn’t known about that. I think maybe my safest course of action is to start a list of what I’d like, for use when the year is up.

I’m proceeding happily with the ASJ sleeve. A couple more evenings should do it. And of course I can safety-pin the sleeve seam and try it on without even putting the stitches on waste yarn. One begins to see the advantages of top-down knitting.

At the very last moment, I grasped that I must pick up the sleeve stitches in a bright colour – that’s “Huron” – or I would only widen the unwanted brown stripe. I’ll balance it with another big brown stripe at the end.

But I think today will be cashmere-hat. I could put a pom-pom on top! I think I will!

I never finished telling you about my new knitting books.

I like “Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum”. The museum turns out to be in Iowa – maybe you knew that. It is a museum of Norwegian immigrant materials, more than a century old. The book is good, patterns for mittens and hats and stockings with those shaped calves, and sweaters, too, and also lots of interesting old photographs.

“Swedish Knits”, on the other hand, is a huge disappointment. It is a knitting textbook, sort of Montse Stanley but I’ve already got her and she’s better. The authoresses are native Swedes, it says.

Schultz’ “Patchworkstricken” has also turned up, Even without much of any grasp of German, I think it’s going to be valuable. (Imagine trying to say “theologiques, nourrissants et morbifuges” in German.) For one thing, several of the projects are modelled by ladies of advanced age – although not as advanced as me – which is helpful in letting one see what looks ridiculous.


Leslie, it is wonderful to hear from you. When I got on-line, in 1994-5, my first venture into cyber-space was to look for knitters. I joined a chat group called, I think, rec.craft.textile.yarn. Leslie found me there, sometime in ’95, and suggested that I join the Knitlist. The rest is history. As I remember it, those early adventures were entirely text-based. I hadn’t figured out the Internet yet. It seems utterly of a different millennium.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sorry about yesterday – I had to take the car in for an overdue service, and found myself driving before dawn in freezing fog. I haven’t done anything like that for years, and it was scary.

The day went on like that – a real diet-breaker. I wanted only to eat chocolate, drink cider, and buy yarn. But I held out.

This morning was forecast to be as bad, but the dimly-discerned gloom beyond the window doesn’t look foggy to me. Anyway, by the time I set out to retrieve the car this morning it will be what is laughingly classed as full daylight.

“A Serious Man” is a good film – highly recommended. My husband sounded a bit sniffly on the way back, and by yesterday had a full-blown cold. His chest is clear, I think, and there is no fever, but everything is scary at 84. Especially in December.

The big news here – Rachel rang up on Thursday, just after we got back from the film – is that Hellie has a job with Greene & Heaton. A proper job, with a contract. Hellie is bright and personable and extremely hard-working. She has been determined to get into publishing. But it’s a hard nut to crack at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. The quest has had its thoroughly depressing moments, including some this week.

She has been keeping costs down by living with her parents, and keeping body and soul together with temping jobs. She never signed on as a "job-seeker". The official unemployment statistics must exclude a lot of people like her.

Dawn, I cannot adequately thank you for tracking down the phrase I imperfectly remembered, describing the wines of Savigny-les-Beaune: “theologiques, nourrissants et morbifuges”. Having that right will greatly enhance the experience of drinking the wine. I’ll report back after the hols.

“Morbifuge” is translated on several sources provided by Google – probably one source, repeated – as “death-preventive”. I don’t know French but I do know Latin and I’m going to risk my neck here by venturing the opinion (without looking it up) that it means “disease-preventing". “Morbus”, not “mors”. It's a wonderful word. I suppose you could spoil the whole thing and translate “healthy”.

And, oh yes, knitting.

I’ve picked up stitches for the first ASJ sleeve and am knitting merrily on, tapering the sleeve. 100 stitches are a mere bagatelle. Charlotte, casting on more at the beginning would widen the ASJ body and deepen the sleeve, but wouldn’t have much effect on length. I’m getting good at the geometry of this thing.

I didn’t like the picking-up, and wound up with six extra stitches. But it looks neat, and it’ll be OK if I can pick up the same number on the other sleeve. If the sun ever reappears around here, I’ll seize the moment and do the job. Artificial light, dark brown stitches to pick up, and poor eyesight are an unhappy combination.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I got that skein wound, and had another satisfactory evening of hat-knitting. There’s no project so swiftly-completed and so heartening as a simple hat.

(If all goes according to plan, this yarn will literally have been around the world. It is Chinese cashmere which I bought from I don’t remember where they are, but assume the yarn arrived there via the Pacific or perhaps the North Pole. Thence to CT, thence to Edinburgh, and now back to China via Europe and Russia.)

The skein was broken in several places. What could that be but m*ths? Oh horror! horror! horror!

I pinned the ASJ together and tried it on last night. Size is good. EZ is right that the sleeves in their present state hit the arm at a particularly hideous point. I need another eight inches or so. I’ve now got to figure out the amount to decrease, and the rate to do it at, all by myself. I don’t like thinking, especially in December.

(Kathy, the only thing that gets me through Christmas these days is on-line shopping and starting early. Yesterday, in recognition of the fact that December was about to move into double figures, I counted how many Christmas cards remain to be written and how many days remain to do them in – and found, to my surprise and pleasure, that I don’t have to up my game. The job will get done, as long as I maintain my present peaceful rate of progress.)

Thanks for help on the asymmetrical jacket front. I looked at the Melville pattern, and browsed Ravelry, and will get VK out and look at Gaughan. But I felt as I have felt before that a jacket whose pieces were actually of different lengths would look silly and/or incompetent on me. Ambermoggie, your suggestion of the Elsewhere jacket absolutely satisfied the mood I was in. I’ve bought and printed it.

Elsewhere jacket: that’s a Ravelry link. If you scroll through the pics by people who have knitted it, you’ll find lots of Ambermoggie’s work. I am particularly heartened to see that it can be worked in such different yarns.


We’re going to attempt the Coen Bros’ new film again today – we aimed for it last Thursday and bailed out because my husband was hypoglycaemic at lunch time and I was exhausted after a morning of running around town.

I had a brief phase some decades ago of reading books about wine. I never got very far with drinking it. But I think I remember – although I can’t persuade Google to confirm this – that the wines of Savigney-les-Beaune have been described as “nourrissant, philosophe, et morbifuge.” I love the phrase, and yesterday, at Waitrose, I finally bought a bottle. I hope soon to consume it with friends on the shores on Loch Fyne. It was expensive but not absurdly so, and I thought, why wait any longer?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thanks for the help with the ASJ – current thinking is to taper the sleeves into a garter stitch cuff of some sort, keeping the sleeves shorter than the version in Knitter’s – and for the undeserved compliments on the colours. Lorna’s Laces did it all. My only contribution was the coup de rouge, in fact several, and “Envy” to add a lime-green accent the way Kaffe does.

I bought Famous Blogger colours, especially of course “Franklin’s Panopticon”, for the sake of the bloggers. “Amy’s Vintage Office” was perhaps a mistake, in this context. I like it, but maybe not here. I see a slouch hat or socks in its future – I’ve still got two complete skeins.

Anyway, on we go. I had planned to give today to the cashmere watchcap, which has started well. Note its new Progress Bar. But the skein I’ve now got to wind turns out to be disordered. How did that happen? Not my fault. I’ve got it over the back of a chair and will have at it from time to time, but for the sake of my temper, actual knitting time had probably better be devoted to actual knitting.

The excitement here yesterday was the arrival of Father Christmas in the form of all those knitting books I ordered from Amazon last week while I was supposed to be doing on-line Christmas shopping.

“Haiku Knits” was a mistake – I knew it was a gamble. There are some nicish things, but nothing I’ll ever knit, and nothing that catches and lifts the spirit like the things in my Japanese magazine, Flat Knits of the New Style or whatever it was called.

“Painter’s Palette” – the Koigu book – is much better. With that, and with Herr Schulz when he turns up, I should be able to work out something in mosaic knitting for my Koigu stash. Choose a shape and devise little pieces to fill it. Schulz is in German and will arrive from a different source.

I haven’t even started on the Norwegian and the Swedish books.

I have found myself thinking, the last couple of days, about a wild, swoopy asymmetrical jacket. The sort of thing that looks as if you had seriously miscalculated. I hoped maybe Haiku Knits would produce one, but it doesn’t. The Anhinga has something of the spirit, except that it’s not a jacket and not very asymmetrical. Perhaps I’ll trawl the Twist Collective today.

As for photography – by accident rather than design, all five recipients of my Christmas knitting will be members of the party on Loch Fyne at Christmas. I’ll take the ASJ along and get photographs of the whole crowd.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Target un-hit, again yesterday. Casting off 450 stitches purl-wise (or however many it was – somewhere in that ball park), is not done in half-an-hour. But it's finished -- that part is finished -- although the hat isn't started. I like what I’ve got. I’m particularly pleased with those neat mitered corners.

My initial reaction, contemplating it like this, is to think no collar after all, and perhaps simply lengthen the sleeves to mid-forearm without shaping. I’ve got the ASJ-revisited pattern out, from Knitter’s Fall 2000, in which the sleeves are tapered to a garter stitch cuff. So I might do that, keeping the sleeves on the short side. I had originally thought to shape them and end with a ribbed cuff which would harmonise with the ribbed collar.

Decisions, decisions. This is a good moment to stop and knit that watchcap.

Comments, etc.

Janet sent me a puzzle to do this morning. Art, rather than knitting. It was fun. It was Helen C.K.S who launched me down that particular primrose path – she’s got some good ones in her sidebar. Knitting, rather than art.

Janet (again), when I first read your Pearl Harbor comment, I thought one or the other of us must be remembering the time wrongly. Time zones always give me trouble. But then I worked it out – your 5pm EDT would be 4 or even 3 in Detroit, and that’s how I remember it, mid-afternoon.

No more electronic gaming comments, but I had a rambling financial one this morning.

A friend is coming to lunch today – art, rather than knitting – and although it is only going to involve a hearty soup and some French bread, I had better go start faffing about.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I vividly remember December 7, 1941. My father was the Associated Press bureau chief in Detroit. The memory is of him answering the phone, and rushing out. He was at home because it was a Sunday afternoon. One of those memories in which I can almost see the room and its furniture.

Less than I’d hoped got done yesterday. Couldn’t have anything to do with cider-drinking? But I have now embarked on what will be the last ridge, the last two rows, of the edging of the ASJ. Then it has to be cast of in purl. So today’s plan is to do that, and to start the watchcap if there’s still time. If I succeed, the ASJ will be ready for quite a revealing pic tomorrow.

The intended recipient for the watchcap will be among a substantial party expected on the shores of Loch Fyne on Boxing Day. On Christmas Day itself, there’ll be nobody there but us chickens, namely the Loch Fyne Mileses and my husband and me. So I can knit the hat right down to the wire and even finish it on Boxing Day in the morning if need be.

One of the great joys of ’09 was finding and buying clothes to wear to Theo’s wedding. For the wedding itself (as distinct from the rehearsal dinner) I had a sort of embroidered linen coat, not as grand as it sounds, worn over an old dress. I think I’ll get it out for Christmas Day. Maybe Ketki would wear her shalwar kameez. I have heard her little boys asking her to wear her “wedding dress” again.


Yesterday’s comments, including one from Ambermoggie herself, sort of answer the question about the pattern for the Red Sandstone Jacket. How unexpected the answer seems – a spinner’s leaflet. All my knitting used to be done from them. Now, I can’t remember when I last used one.

Kathy, I went over to the Ticker Factory just now and found it very confusing. I get the feeling that the underlying idea is to measure menstrual cycles looking for fertile times. A worthy objective, but of little use to knitters.

I think you start by choosing the option to count down or up to an event, and then just toil through screen after screen of rulers and then of sliders. I like my little sock, but the background is boring. My starting date was the day the box of yarn for the Grandson Sweater arrived from Sweden.

Sabrina, you’re quite right, I can turn on full moderation or word verification for the blog when we head west. The spammer has left me alone for 24 hours (I think) – perhaps that’s encouraging. There used to be ads on (my vice) telling you how much money you could make at home with your computer. I wonder if your task would prove to be placing spammy comments on blogs and getting paid when people clicked on them?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I’m half-way through the ASJ edging, buttonholes in place. I put in only two, in the modern fashion. Saves all that fuss about spacing them, and I really don’t think buttoning up from top to bottom is what will be wanted.

It’s got six mitres, at various corners – four outward and two inward. I think I’ve got them all going in nice straight lines. It was a bit scary at the beginning, with poor eyes and poor light and dark yarn. I put in lots of markers, of course, but if you put in a marker between (say) the bottom of the jacket and the upward-advancing stitches, and then start a mitre, you have to remember on the next round, a long time later, whether the centre stitch was the last one on the front or the first one on the bottom edge.

I can’t bear to leave off now, so I will go ahead and finish the edging and cast off, possibly achieving all that today. Then tidy up, then maybe think about that last Christmas present, the cashmere watchcap, before proceeding to lengthen the sleeves.


Donna, your concern about sag is a serious one. I will keep you posted. Sock yarn is light, and garter stitch is firm: I have high hopes. My worst episode on those lines was an alpaca fisherman’s-rib sweater, long ago. After a couple of wearings, it was a mini-dress. A couple more, and it was discarded. It was bliss to knit, and I learned something about alpaca from the experience.

Kathy, that is an unnerving story indeed, about your unwanted commenter. I think the only time I’ve deleted a comment that (probably) came from someone who had actually read the blog, was the time I was describing the street in south London where EZ’s aunties lived and where she herself spent some months towards the end of the Great War, to get away from the Zeppelins. Mount Nod Road, not far from where Rachel lives, and one day she drove me along it. The comment was the one word “snob!” and I took it to refer to something I had said about the comparative size or detachment of the houses. Or did I refer to the “better end” of Mount Nod Road? I’m sort of scared to look back.

I’m keeping up with the electronic-gaming comments, which are coming in thick and fast. I worry about what will happen when I go away for Christmas.

EJ, I want to know about the “red sandstone jacket” too. I’ll write to Helen C.K.S. today. I didn’t try Ravelry myself, but I followed her link to Ambermoggie, from whom she apparently got the pattern. There’s the jacket again, and again no specific detail about the source. It clearly depends on having a wonderful self-striping yarn, and I don’t think I’ve got anything that qualifies in stash, so I mustn’t let myself think about it too much.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Oh, TickerFactory! I wondered yesterday whether I would continue to get credit for individual days, now that the scale has changed. I do! What fun!

And speaking of shameless plugs, I’ve had a few unwanted comments lately mostly (or perhaps entirely) about electronic gaming. They're not obscene, and I get rid of them pretty quickly. I think they’ll go away after Christmas. I’d rather not moderate if it can be avoided. If anyone does have anything to say about electronic games, please put in something relevant to the day’s post so that I don’t cast you needlessly into oblivion.

Excitement on the ASJ front.

I’ve got the border stitches assembled. It will be difficult indeed not to spend the day working on it, but, like everyone else this time of year, I’ve got a lot to do.

When one finishes the “skirt” of the jacket, one finds oneself at one of the lower front corners. The instruction is to knit upwards, picking up stitches on the selvedge just knitted and then adding the stitches on waste yarn and then going around the neck stitches before turning around – the back of the jacket isn’t involved at this point – knitting downwards and around the back and then up the other side.

I didn’t realise the drawbacks until I actually had the thing in my hands, starting to do it.

1) If you do it that way, the selvedge stitches on one side are picked up from behind, and on the other side, from in front. Surely not a good idea?
2) There will be one more row of knitting, half a ridge, on one side than on the other.

Since you’re probably going to be changing colour anyway at this point, why not get another long dp out of the cupboard and start at the top and go all the way around in one swoop? That’s what I did, and as I was doing it I wondered whether there weren’t a third objection to the original plan –

I left those stitches on waste yarn after a wrong-side row. If I were now to knit another wrong-side row on them, wouldn’t I get the dreaded line of st st? Even if it’s only on the inside, it seems an avoidable nuisance.

And I think, while I’m at it, that there’s an actual mistake in the pattern. There’s a drawing on page 7 of the Schoolhouse Press A-B-C-SJ leaflet, of the whole thing at the stage I’ve reached. It shows the letters “E” and “F”, relating to an earlier diagram, at what seems to me an impossible place. It should be “G” and “H”.

Hundreds of people, thousands, must have knit this famous pattern. It seems most unlikely that Mrs Miles of Drummond Place could have spotted things which eluded them all. It leaves the uncomfortable possibility that I have totally misunderstood the entire thing.

Vitamin D

Thank you most sincerely for your note on Vitamin D, Mel. I am taking cholecalciferol, by good luck rather than good management, and I’m glad to see it’s one of the safer forms. I drink a lot of Waitrose Sugar-Free Bitter Lemon; I hope that counts as water. Kidney stones don’t sound fun. And I plan to pack the project in, or much reduce the dose, at the vernal equinox.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The TickerFactory measure has re-set itself! So exciting! The most profligate among us often go a month without buying yarn – the achievement is negligible. But it feels good.

My system, if you can call it that, of thinking about the stash and sorting it and forming a mental list of possible projects is going to be helpful, I think. But danger lies everywhere, as for a recovering alcoholic. The Faculty Meeting Knitter bought some unbelievably beautiful yarn the other day – fortunately for me, a limited edition which had already sold out. Helen C.K.S.’s Red Sandstone Jacket (Wednesday December 2) is another form of temptation – I want one like that.

Yesterday went well enough, up to a point. I racketed about in the morning and hit all my targets. I was exhausted by lunch time, but it was my husband who succumbed to hypoglycaemia so we didn’t, after all, go to the Coen brothers’ new film in the afternoon. Soon.

I’ve read about Vitamin D in the NIH link Gerri provided. I seem to have hit upon the NIH upper limit all by myself – 2,000 IU a day. The symptoms of overdosing sound dreadful and seem to encompass most of the human condition: “fatigue, somnolence, headache, dry mouth, metallic taste, vertigo…”

I haven’t got to Schulz yet.

As for knitting, I keep fretting about the length of the ASJ. How long is a piece of string? Is it reasonable to measure it against a cloth jacket? It is currently 24” long, I just measured. The edging will add another inch.

I consulted Vicki Square’s ever-useful “Knitting Great Basics” – she thinks that’s enough for a medium-sized adult jacket. I have embarked on what is meant to be the final horizontal stripe – “Franklin’s Panopticon”, of course, which is going to go in all the important places. I think I’ll knit a bit more of it this evening, and then proceed to the edging, the Panopticon stripe narrower than originally planned.

I’ve had a frustrating morning of computer slowth – I’ll stop here. Here is a picture from the family Thanksgiving in London last weekend – Hellie and her boyfriend Matt and the Miles boys from Loch Fyne.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

In considerable haste, this morning. I am scheduled to spend the day racketing from one end of Edinburgh to the other like a ping pong ball, and must begin with my porridge-and-yoghurt eaten slowly and calmly as usual, if I am to get anywhere. First on the agenda, an early dental appt.

Tomorrow morning, when life calms down, I am going to follow up the Vitamin D links you provided, Gerri, and read with care. The article in the FT said exactly what you say, Kate, that Vitamin D is really more like a hormone. It also said that the large-scale trials which might (or might not) demonstrate some of the advantages claimed, don’t get made because Vitamin D is out there and cheap and no one is going to make a packet from selling it.

Thanks for the Horst Schulz information, too. I will also look up the Ravelry group when there is time to draw breath. I added his “Das Spiel mit Farben und geometrischen…” in cheap paperback form to my acquisition pile yesterday. One of his books has taken off into the stratosphere with Starmore-like prices.

The ASJ lengthens slowly. I won’t launch the final piece of Christmas knitting until its border stitches are securely picked up.

Now, off into the darkness to get the newspapers. Can’t eat my porridge without a newspaper.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Better, this morning. Simple knitting in bright colours (the ASJ) is a proven approach to seasonal gloom. And I resisted the Tempter’s suggestion that a glass of cider would help. It wouldn’t.

I’ve been taking a lot of Vitamin D lately, on the recommendation of an interesting article in the Financial Times about a professor who has devoted his life to it and thinks we should all – especially those of us who live near the North Pole – be taking much more than the official Recommended Daily Dose. He believes it is prophylactic against a whole lot of things you don’t want to have, including depression. The FT is a responsible newspaper, and there was a sidebar about how there was no danger of taking too much. Trouble is, there’s no real way of knowing whether it is helping or not.

The postman did his best yesterday, with the arrival at last of a pompom maker, and the new IK. About the latter, I am inclined to agree with the Curmudgeon’s curmudgeonly remarks, but the pompom maker is a great success. Once I figured it out. Here is a picture of, from left to right, my first and my second attempts. The third is on the hat.

Why does John Lewis, on which we rely for so much, sell an inferior pompom maker when the Clover is out there? I suppose even the buyer for Our Haberdashery Department can’t know everything.

This morning I had an extravagant depression-breaking session with Amazon. I started out looking for “medallion knitting” – thinking of my Koigu collection – and didn’t get very far, except a recommendation to a chapter in Mary Thomas which I shall certainly look at.

It was the wrong phrase, and I eventually got myself straightened out and bought Maie Landra’s “Knits from a Painter’s Palette”. Might as well go to the source. (I think I was thinking the whole time of something by a man named Horst. More than one book. Does anyone know who he might be?)

Then, partly because Amazon is fiendishly clever at leading one on, I also bought “Haiku Knits” and “Swedish Knitting” and “Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from the Vesterheim Museum”. Oh, dear.

I never said I was going to give up book-buying.

I feel pretty gloomy about stash-busting. I don’t mean that this is the source of gloom; more likely a symptom. Still, it’s there, the growing knowledge as I organise things in the stash cupboard and make plans for it, that a year’s knitting will make no impression at all. I knew that I was well into SABLE territory (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy). When I joined Ravelry, I photographed and catalogued it all. That should have tipped me off. But the full realisation is only now.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gloom suddenly grips. I sailed through November and the weekend’s black anniversary in good form, but the Black Dog has crouched and made its leap.

I have just re-read last December’s blogging, to see how I was feeling then. Up and down, is the answer. The interesting thing is that I discover I was knitting a watchcap, in lovely red Koigu no less, which I had completely forgotten and which doesn’t appear in last year’s knitting-done roster. I fear it was a Christmas present for the person I had in mind this year for the Sock Yarn Slouch Hat (Ravelry link), which I finished last night.

My husband kept saying, “You’re always knitting hats for X.” He’s rarely wrong. It’s nice; I’ll give it to someone. But I’ll have to jiggle the present-list around a bit.

I was glad to see myself writing, on November 30 ’08, that I hadn’t started the Christmas cards yet. I thought I always got the USA’s done in November, until this year.

Fleegle’s news (comment yesterday) about “Knitting” Magazine and the Queen Susan Shawl Project is splendid, and shouldn’t leave room for gloom.


I got a couple of rows of ASJ done last night, after polishing off the slouch hat. I think I’ll attempt the cashmere watchcap, and just see what happens. But first I want to get the ASJ body finished and the edging stitches picked up.

I increasingly think about how little effect a year’s abstinence is going to have on that stash. I have started turning the Koigu question over in my head. It will be something involving medallions, I think. Somewhere I’ve got the Oriental Jacket pattern that everyone was knitting a while ago.

I was briefly in the yarn dept. of John Lewis yesterday (just looking). I asked if they had pompom makers, but was shown one that seemed to be just the old cardboard-circle system turned into plastic. That couldn’t be what so delights Angel’s mother and the Fishwife’s Princess. I must continue to wait for my Clover, but I grow impatient.