Monday, June 06, 2011

Aran sweater

Mary Lou, how can you use the saddle as a swatch for an Aran sweater? Isn’t it the last thing to be knit, an extension of the already-finished sleeve?

Annie, I got “Knitting the Old Way” down from the shelf on your recommendation. I hadn’t looked at it for years – goodness, it’s good. It’s sort of worrying in my present situation, though, as she assumes a steek or at least some “platform stitches” when you are going to cut a sleeve opening, and I haven’t got one. What I’m about to do is called “stitch and slash” on page 45, and Gibson-Roberts is not entirely enthusiastic.

But I got away with it on the Grandson, and it’s what EZ recommends in her generic Aran instructions in the Opinionated Knitter, which I am vaguely following.

Shelly, I too love knitting a sweater with an EZ yoke as you describe – but I don’t think it would work here, because of the difficulty of maintaining complicated Aran patterns while decreasing. Might be fun to try. And anyway, although I grumble about lack of progress, I suspect I’m past the underarm.

I remember with a curious vividness a pattern in (I feel sure) VK sometime in the late 40’s, when I was in high school. It was perfectly plain except for a deep cabled yoke. The spaces between the cables were reduced as one got towards the neckline. I thought it was wonderful, but never attempted it. Now, I could re-create it without difficulty. Sometimes I wonder if it was an EZ pattern, flattened and made two-dimensional by the editorial requirements of the day.

I didn’t advance much yesterday – the tennis was too interesting, and since I finished Joe’s socks, I didn’t even have a sock handy to pick up.


I hope we’ll get back to Strathardle this week. Maybe Wednesday.

Catdownunder, I’m going to need you. There was a letter in the Telegraph on Saturday claiming that beans in the southern hemisphere wind themselves around the pole in the opposite direction to northern beans. Could that be true?

British beans are said to go counter-clockwise. I can’t even remember, and the last time I saw mine, although looking for the most part very cheerful, they hadn’t started twining. “Counter-clockwise” would mean that, as the bean faces the pole, it would go to the right, behind the pole, and re-appear on the left? I hope mine will have started climbing when I see them this week, and that much, at least, can be established.

New Zealand beans, according to the letter-writer, go clockwise.

I broke off just now to Google the matter. The top item was a discussion of this very point, with someone asserting that southern hemisphere beans went the other way, and someone else disbelieving it. So, cat, I hope you will be able to find a bean to observe and we will be able to settle the matter definitively. Beans have very strong opinions as to which way they are to go – it’s not random, and the gardener can't persuade them to do it the other way this year.


  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I just Google-imaged runner beans and it seems you're right - they do climb anti-clockwise! Similarly, sweet peas; if it were'nt raining so much I'd venture in to the garden to examine the clematis...
    Perhaps it's something to do with the direction in which the water comes out of the watering can?!

  2. It is dark and raining right now but I will take a look in the morning!

  3. Good luck with the stitch and slash ... you're a much braver woman than I !

    I hope you don't mind that I used a link to your blog in my recent blog post on the blogroll as a great leveller ... I imagine Jared Flood would have a lot to learn from you. Nothing beats experience :)

    Re. the runner beans I'm sure I've read somewhere that the direction of circumnutation is mostly constant to species wherever in the world a twining plant is grown.

    Anyone remember the words to the old song about the right handed Honeysuckle and the left handed Bindweed who fell in love but could never 'marry' as their offshoots would not know which way to turn?

  4. Anonymous11:43 AM

    My runner beans haven't even germinated yet (got them in rather late), but I'll have to check when they get big enough to climb!
    The song referred to by Annie is on one of the Flanders and Swann LPs At the Drop of a Hat. The words are at


  5. Sorry for the confusion, Jean. I forgot to add that I generally sleeves top down, so I can end the saddle with live stitches. I know this makes the stitches run in the other direction from the body, but it has never troubled me. I put in little french bush beans this year, so no way to look at twining. We do, however, have lots of bindweed!

  6. The evidence points in both directions but more anti-clockwise than clockwise.

  7. Maureen Taylor1:27 AM

    If you want to use your saddles as swatches you might want to know about Janet Szabo's FLAK pattern here:
    The saddles are knitted first, then the body is picked up from their edges, etc. It's one of many ways to knit a top down sweater a là EZ.....

  8. =Tamar5:56 AM

    If you assume you are perched on a
    ladder or an elevated deck over the vegetable garden, looking down at the top of the bean pole, plants that twine counter-clockwise/anti-clockwise as they climb the pole are described as twining in a right-handed spiral.

    Spirals are a nuisance to describe.

    If you hold your right hand up in front of you with the thumb pointing leftward, and the forearm slightly angled, you are looking at the back of your hand. Turn it so the thumb now points rightward: the tip of the thumb moves up and to the right. If the thumb continued around and upward, it would then appear to move up and to the left behind the metaphorical beanpole. That's a right-handed spiral.

    The left-handed spiral is the same idea but done with the left hand. The left-handed spiral is sunwise or deosil, because we arrogantly assume we are above the north pole looking down at the earth when we describe the apparent motion of the sun in the northern hemisphere during the spring.

  9. GrannyPurple4:34 PM

    One could just imagine plants twining (like yarn) S-twist or Z-twist!