Thursday, October 14, 2010

I never knit socks for myself – that’s how I managed to overlook the stupendously obvious reasons for knitting toe-up (try on for fit, knit until you’ve used up the yarn and then stop). Many thanks. I retire abashed.

Good progress with the shawl yesterday, no more disasters. I think I’ve reached the tipping-point, where fewer stitches on the needle really do mean more rows knit per evening.

I was much struck the other day with Franklin’s enthusiasm for Gwen Bortner’s new Entrelac book – so new, it hasn’t been published in Britain yet. (And I see there’s another entrelac book coming hard on its heels.) Franklin is sent so many free knitting books – poor man! – that he has to cull his shelves regularly, but he says this one is a keeper.

I am surprised and intrigued. I wouldn’t have thought there was all that much to say on the subject. I was absolutely enthralled when I first encountered it, in Sheila McGregor’s “Traditional Scandinavian Knitting”. For my first attempt, I somehow managed to paint myself into a corner that involved cutting the yarn after every square.

I got better than that, but never got past the Michelin Man effect. Maybe it’s time for another look? And Franklin says that he learned from this book to knit-back-backwards in what amounts to no time flat. I suspect he is a good deal more adroit than I am – but it would certainly be a skill worth having.

The author had an entrelac pattern, “Prussian Jewels”, in Knitter’s 91, Summer ’08. I pursued it to Ravelry and decided I don’t like it very much. So I think the answer for the time being, at least, is Wait and See.


I read Alexander’s copy of Mark Diacono’s brand new book, “A Taste of the Unexpected”, at the weekend. I won’t be buying it. The idea is to forget about potatoes and carrots and things and grow what you really like to eat. (Has he ever tasted freshly-dug potatoes, boiled or steamed a point and then tossed with salt and pepper and butter and a handful of torn-up sorrel?) But he makes insufficient allowance for the fact that we don’t all garden in Devon, and the choice of contents is idiosyncratic. Rhubarb is included, sea kale is not.

It sent me off on a Google search this morning for Good King Henry, my first attempt at a perennial vegetable. It used to be common, all the sources say. I've got several plants, doing very nicely. The only trouble is, it doesn’t taste very nice. Next year I’ll try soup, and an omelette.


The story of the rescue of the Chilean miners is a very rare example of utterly good news, straight up and down, unadulterated. I hope we’ll learn how it was done. In a world over-full of badly-organised events (Knit Camp 2010, the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, the Edinburgh tram project all come to mind as examples) that one was a model. No faffing about, no well-we’ll-have-to-try-something-else. Did they have a contingency plan all along for how to get men out from under half-a-mile of solid rock?

Do go read Jeanfromcornwall’s blog entry.


  1. Jean from Cornwall's blog entry is definitely worth reading. It was all bit close to home here too - brought back memories of waiting for the two men trapped in Tasmania - but they were there for a mere 17 days from memory. Having to go out one by one - and leave everyone else behind is what really got to me.

  2. growing veggies - with limited space, my husband's approach is to grow things that we both like but are difficult to get from the shops or we use often. so we tend to grow different varieties of chilies, chinese leaves and salad leaves.

    the miners... there was a lot of international focus so they had 3 contingency plans. it leaves one to wonder if the focus wasn't there, if 3 drills would had been going concurrently... anyway, it is a triumph of so many things. the lives of 33 miners are indeed more precious than the cost of the operation!

  3. Phyllis1:09 PM

    Do try to "knit back backwards". The motion is similar to unknitting a few stitches, (putting the tip of the left needle into the stitch on the right needle) so I found it easily learned, having spent a fair of time tinking errors.

  4. I was struck by the use of NASA technology and experience. Who would have imagined that what was useful in space would be used to bring men up safely from deep under the earth. We watched some coverage on the spanish language channel as well. A very different approach to to the coverage, very emotional.

  5. I had almost the same thought yesterday- it was a 100% good news story. Very refreshing. It will be interesting to hear the miners' stories as they are able to share them.

  6. had a good giggle about "good king henry", being edible, but not tasting very nice:)) I have quite a few books which give infos about edible plants, and most of them, when tried, end up as being edible, but not necessarily very nice to eat:)) I'd say there is a reason, why certain veggies are grown all over - and others are not. ok, if I ever end up in a survival situation, I won't starve, but that isn't very likely here, even in the west of ireland!
    and I agree about growing what I like - and I happen to like fresh potatoes or carrots very much!! not much use in trying to grow artichockes and chillies, if noone wants to eat them....
    the one downside of rescuing those peruvian miners to my mind is that this is ending in a total media frenzy, where they get offers of book contracts, film rights etc... instead of just being happy for them and their families that they're safe now.

  7. They had three rescue bores going, so they were running Plans A, B, and C simultaneously. Plan B got there first.

    The rescue effort was a magnificent display of teamwork.