Friday, September 30, 2011

We had a great time.

Kristie and Kath are first cousins, Rachel’s age, seeming like sisters. They have just finished walking the Cateran Trail, in my beloved Strathardle and thereabouts. We had been planning for months to meet in Kirkmichael – it turned out much better this way. They say they were utterly exhausted on their Kirkmichael evening – and we were in London.

Whereas yesterday, we met at K1 Yarns – in fact, we met in the street outside, and recognised each other at once. Kristie bought some splendid blue Scappa Aran. I had been wondering, as I knit Thomas’ sweater, whether perhaps the primary colours can appear in a full, rich, saturated form which is impossible for any other colour, however wonderful, because all the others are mixtures.

If true or if not, Kristie’s blue Aran corresponds absolutely to Thomas’s red madelinetosh. Utter blue.

I bought a pattern for a Dr-Suess-type red felted hat, the design of the shop-owner, but it says on it not to let you see it.

And Kristie gave me a Crazy Zauberball:

(Everybody knows that sock yarn doesn’t count as stash.) 

I have admired this yarn from afar, and will knit it as the very next pair of socks. The label specifically says that you can’t persuade the yarn to produce identical-twin socks: “Kein Socken gleicht dem Anderen.”

Then we had lunch in a pleasant, cool, quiet pub – everybody else was sitting out in the crowded, sticky sun.

Kath took a picture of me and Kristie before we parted. I was surprised, looking at it, to find that I was a whole generation older than they are. While we sat and ate and talked and laughed, I felt myself their age.

Do go look at their wonderful pictures of the Cateran Trail.


I should finish the second Brownstone sleeve today. I spent a few moments just now, while the synapses were firing, or whatever it is they do in the early morning, calculating the number of stitches needed for the body and the number to cast on. Jared increases about 10% from ribbing to body.


Wren, thanks. I have joined the p/hop group on Ravelry and think I understand about donating yarn, although the process is not absolutely as clear as it might be.

Beverly in NJ, you’re right, of course, that knitting bulky diminishes stash faster than knitting lace. But I think my problem has reached the stage where even that wouldn’t make enough difference. One of the great things about life, Annie, is that there’s always somebody somewhere who’s worse than you are at whatever it is.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kristie and I made contact, and we got the picture. A good day.

Kristie and I and her cousin plan to meet at K1Yarns at noon. I'll report tomorrow.

The picture cost us £400, plunging my husband at once into gloom – that’s a lot for a bad picture. I don’t know what it might fetch if cleaned up and the hole repaired and authenticated as a ???????. More than £400, certainly. But he would never sell it, so that thought doesn’t cheer him up.

It is a portrait of the artist’s brother James, a unique image of him whether genuine or only purported. He is shewn as a young man, early 20’s, in the uniform of the militia, with grey hair. Powder? (This is the early 19th century.) Or premature greyness? My husband can enjoy himself working on that question.

Knitting -- Comments, yesterday

Thank you for finding that pattern, Gretchen. As you will have noticed, it’s not a boat neck at all but the very opposite, a high turtle neck. The sweater is slightly shaped at the waist, which I don’t think quite suits as one approaches 80. That leaves the basic idea, of alternating two shades of KF’s hand-dye effect sock yarn in four-row stripes. And that remains tempting.

And, Beverly, thank you for the link to the KF dolman sweater of the year before, which I have also noted. Goodness, the man is clever. When he started working for Rowan they let him do a whole range of light-weight yarns in KF-type colours from which he confected the things in his early books. Then they pulled the plug on that, and now no Rowan quality has more than a dozen shades, if that. But the master seems to be able to go on pulling rabbits out of hats, indefatigably.

Back here at the ranch, I’m about half-way up the second Brownstone sleeve. Finish at the weekend, maybe?


I swept in to the cupboard yesterday and did half-an-hour’s energetic tidying. Two bags of odd-balls for the charity knitters in Alyth next time we’re over there:

And some of what remains. Sock yarn is stashed elsewhere.

There are six bins in the background, full of yarn: three of Shetland jumper-weight, one lace, one various bulkies, one Koigu. The plastic bags in the foreground also contain yarn. A long way to go. I feel a bit more cheerful, however briefly, for having faced the problem.

And speaking of Koigu, I have heard from Amazon that the British release of “Knit, Swirl” has been again delayed. First it was to have been late August, then late September, now it has been postponed sine die. Looks like carelessness, as Lady Bracknell might say. I can’t imagine what the problem could be, since it’s been available in the US for months.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big day today.

The picture that might be an early effort by ??????? (but the auctioneer doesn’t believe it) comes up for sale this morning. We’ve left a bid. Some auctioneers update their on-line catalogues with the hammer price as the sale proceeds. Not this one. We’ll have to ring up.

And Kristie gets to Edinburgh. I hope we’ll make contact this evening and meet tomorrow.


I’ve finished Thomas’s first sleeve, and made good initial progress with the second. I’m reasonably satisfied with the upper circumference of the first. Gauge seems to have settled down at 5.5 sts to the inch (not 5 as in the swatch) and the body will be calculated on that basis.

Ron – is the move to Canada permanent? – it’s funny about that yarn. Regia could perfectly well have achieved the colour-effects with their usual firm-twisted sock yarn. Why didn’t they?

Can anyone help? I first heard of KF “Hand-dye effect” in a pattern in VK, within the last two years I should hope, towards the back of the magazine, quite plain, I think using two different shades of the yarn in stripes, perhaps with a boat neck. Does anyone know where it is exactly? I looked up the yarn on Ravelry yesterday and browsed the projects. Lots of wonderful socks and some stunning shawls, but I saw no sweaters at all.


I am very grateful indeed for your offers of help. It would be wonderful if you would take some of it to the p/hop yarn swap, Fishwife. You could take some of the lace – plenty of hop’s for relatively little space in the car. And somewhere I have a bag of Candace Strick’s Merging Colors which she ran off for me specially, a sweater’s worth, but I know I’ll never knit it now.

I looked at the p/hop site but they seemed more interested in having you knit than in having you contribute stash. Everybody’s got stash. I’ll look again. Wren, I don’t think I’m organised enough yet to be photographed, but I am extremely grateful for the offer. I spent ten minutes in there this morning, looking for the Merging Colors without success. (Have I already given it away?) And came out depressed, as usual, and determined to put things into better order.

Is this a factor of advancing age? At some unnoticed moment, a tipping point was passed. I can’t knit all that stuff. There isn’t time.


I assume that what happened was that the Latin word for “weigh” – pendo – segued into meaning “think” (reasonably enough) in Italian and other Romance languages. I love your idea, Tamar, that there might be a different word for trivial, frivolous thinking.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We did it! More accurately, Rachel did it. (And Kristieinbc did it too – she got to K*rkmichael!)

I finished Rachel’s socks, and left them behind. I didn’t have a camera, so you’ll just have to imagine them. I got the next ones started.  Here they are:

KF's Hand-Dyed Effect in "Rhubarb". I don’t like the soft, splittable yarn or the big floppy ball that keeps coming apart. The result is OK, though. I must persevere. Perhaps I’ll take a couple of evenings some time soon to finish the ribbing so that when we next spend an afternoon in a waiting room, or go off somewhere – Christmas? – I can hit the ground running. I move the safety pin up every 10 rounds, as an encouragement. 

Rachel met us at King’s Cross on Thursday. Friday we managed by ourselves – the dear old 159 bus leaves not far from Rachel’s doorstep and proceeds all the way to Trafalgar Square. We saw an exhibition of altarpieces at the National Gallery, and also a little show about Sir Charles Eastlake, an early director. And we must have walked past four or five of the World’s Top Ten Paintings, getting from one to the other.

On Saturday Rachel took us to the Saatchi Gallery for modern sculpture,  a lot of fun. And on Sunday to the British Museum for an expensive and exhilarating exhibition of reliquaries. And yesterday she took time off work to drive us back to King’s Cross. And here we are.

Lots of points arise from your dear comments which need discussion, but I am going to go off on a tangent now, and hope I will remember to get back to the comments.

Boring bit

It occasionally happens, when, as last weekend, I want to get some knitting finished in a specific time, that I set myself little targets for each day. Nothing too strenuous – life is stressful enough without adding stress to knitting. Just enough, this time, to stop me spending too much time playing Freecell on Rachel’s computer. (I am obsessed with that game, and have deleted it from my own computer.) 

And whenever I do that – I’m talking about the last few years – I have a nagging feeling that there is a word which originally meant an amount of yarn weighed out for a day’s spinning, and went on to mean exactly what I was doing, a day’s task. Every time the situation came up, I scoured the corners of my mind looking for that word, and could never find it. “Stint” was the best I could come up with, and that wasn’t it.

This time, as we traveled south on FirstEastern and I was doing my day’s ??????, I had a sudden moment of illumination, as represented in the cartoons by a light bulb going on over the subject’s head. It isn’t an English word, it’s a Latin one.

Rachel produced, with some difficulty, the back half of a Latin dictionary, starting at “il…” That was the half I needed. I looked up pendo, I weigh, and there was my word: pensum, a second declension neuter formed from the perfect participle, meaning precisely what I just told you, both literally and metaphorically.
English has a vastly richer and more expressive vocabulary than Latin, but that doesn’t mean there is a one-to-one correspondence. The word doesn’t seem to have survived into modern Italian, a pity. The relief I feel at having thought of it at last, is tremendous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I was able to knit all the way through the eye appt yesterday, including the pupil-dilation phase, except when actually being dealt with by medical professionals. (My sight is unchanged since last year: that’s good.) I’ve finished the ribbing for the second sock, and have considerable hopes of finishing the sock itself in London this weekend.

I found a knot, rare for Regia. Worse, a knot that interrupted the sequence of stripes. If I had been one of those knitters – and there are many – who carefully wind out the yarn so as to start both socks at the same point, in orderto achieve identical rather than fraternal twins, I would have been pretty cross. But I’m not, so I wasn’t.

And progress on the Brownstone sleeve, Mark II, has been good. I’m going to need more stitches than I thought to get the top sleeve circumference anywhere near what Jared seems to think appropriate, but I’ve got room to get them in. For the body, I think I calculated that I need about 5% more stitches than Jared’s Size L, to hit the circumference of the sweater Thomas sent me to measure. For the sleeve top, it’s going to be closer to 20% to get a size between Jared’s L and XL – no measurement from Thomas to guide me here.

Thomas himself is coming to see us at the end of October. It would be nice to have body and sleeves joined by then, but that may be a bit ambitious.

I continue full of enthusiasm for madelinetosh. I have mentioned here before that my stash, which I have been so virtuously nibbling away at for the past two years, is low on providing enough yarn in any single shade or quality to knit anything substantial. That’s probably at least partly why I’m having such a good time here.

I could dispose of the entire stash, couldn't I? except for Koigu and the KF sock yarn and one or two of the very choicest lace yarns, and devote the rest of my life to madelinetosh. Maureen in Fargo, you say you are knitting tosh socks. Have you done that before? Do they wear? I would be a bit hesitant about using pure wool for socks, even reinforced, but I would be very happy to be persuaded otherwise, especially in this case.

Edinburgh Freecycle? Is there a local charity which would welcome yarn donations? It's time to get serious about the stash cupboard.

I was even casting around in my mind yesterday for what to knit next after the Effortless. The mitred jacket in “Knit One Knit All” would be an interesting challenge. And, of course, “Knit, Swirl” should be with me soon.


Woolley Bits, couldn’t one grow madder in one’s garden? And woad? I’ve never tried, but that might be a project for next year. Your cochenille silk is gorgeous.

Well, London tomorrow. We haven’t done this since late last year and I am already in a tizzy over packing and train-catching. Shall I take the iPad? Back here Tuesday if all goes according to plan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not, as one might hope at this stage, the second sleeve, but the first one over again:

I was very near the top yesterday when I stopped to measure the width. It was not a measurement I had taken from the sweater Thomas sent me – I had to trust Jared (easy to do). And the answer was that the sleeve was going to be too tight by a couple of inches. I was getting nearly 6 sts to the inch instead of the 5 of my swatch.

Could that be because I was knitting the sleeve on 3.25 mm needles instead of the 3.75’s I swatched with? Why was I doing that?

After only the briefest of mental struggles, I frogged it and started again. If my knitting has improved at all in recent decades – and it has – it is because of a greater willingness to frog. If in doubt, take it out.

This has given me the chance to make a couple of minor changes. In the first draft, the increases and the sleeve length were going to finish with the same round. This time, I have put an extra 4 stitches into the cuff and am increasing every seventh round instead of every eighth. That should give me some wriggle room at the top, to adjust the length precisely and/or add extra stitches to the circumference if required. One wants one's wearer to be able to gesticulate in comfort.

The gauge seems to be right, this time. I’ll keep checking.


My sock-knitting is reserved for travel and waiting-rooms, and we have had very little of either recently. I have an eye appointment this afternoon, the annual check-up on my retinal vein occlusion of three years ago. I have just started the second of Rachel’s self-knitting KF socks – today should advance things a bit. Then, on the train and in London, I will press forward earnestly, hoping to finish. Rachel has small feet and likes short socks.

Next, I will start a pair of KF’s “hand-dye effect”, shade Rhubarb, for my husband. I decided this only last week. The yarn arrived yesterday, almost impossibly soon. 

It’s rather surprising to look at, sort of loose and fluffy-looking, not the brisk twist of the sock yarn I’m used to. You can sort of see what I mean in the picture. The people down at Regia know about socks so I’m not really worried, just surprised.

Yarn and colour

I spent quite a while yesterday, off and on, dipping in to Jimmy Bean’s madelinetosh dk page. Despite what I said yesterday about red, I find myself drawn to “Cosmos” and to “Smokey Orchid”. Or should I wait until they get a new delivery, which I think will be soon? They’re low on quite a few shades.

My sister is making only a brief trip to Britain and hopes to be able to do it with hand-luggage-only, which rather rules out a sweater’s worth of yarn. I’ll just bite the bullet and pay the tax, bearing in mind what you said yesterday, Helen C.K.S.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thanks for your encouragement to precipitate myself down the primrose path. I’ll do it!

I have spent some time already this morning with Jimmy Bean’s madelinetosh DK list (which is brilliant) and got as far as putting in a request with them to let me know when they have any more “Byzantine” and asking my sister if she’d bring it when she and her husband come in November to celebrate a faux Thanksgiving with the Ogdens in London. It’s bulky and inconvenient stuff, yarn, and she’s not always keen.

I don't mind paying pretty well anything for yarn, but I hate having to pay extra on the doorstep for Customs and Excise, or VAT, or whatever the hell they call it, plus a hefty charge to the Post Office for the trouble they have taken in collecting the tax.

What is it about red? Something that utterly transcends culture – it is the colour of choice for Hindu brides and Chinese emperors. Transcends even species – the birds will strip our red current bush bare unless carefully netted, but leave us almost the entire white current crop of almost identical taste. At Hampton Elementary School in Detroit in the 40’s, whenever we did coloring, there were never enough red crayons. The few there were, were appropriated at once by the big fierce children.

I found by accident some years ago that knitting with red yarn was a cheering thing to do in the dark days around the winter solstice. At the rate I’m going, I don’t think Thomas’s sweater is going to last me all the way through:

That’s to let you know how far I’ve got on. I hate to have you see it with the colour dulled. The delicious slight variations at least show up somewhat.

Red is a difficult one to get with natural dyes. I learned in my natural-dye phase that the local lichens mostly produce brown and yellow. I did find ochrolechia tartarea on the hill behind the Croft of Cultalonie – it produces a sort of purple, and a gentle red if macerated in vinegar (or urine) for awhile. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I used the results in Helen’s MacDougall sweater. I think all the colours of that one are either natural sheep colours or Strathardle lichens:

There is a famous passage in Virgil’s 4th Eclogue in which he imagines a golden age in which sheep will run about their fields all red and purple and gold without the need for any dye. It is difficult not to giggle, reading the passage. I think it was not until I was passing through my own natural-dye phase – long after student days – that I grasped that he doesn’t use the normal colour-words in that passage, but instead the names of the expensive imported dyestuffs needed to produce those colours. Red is “sandyx” – either oxide of lead or red sandalwood, pterocarpus santalinus, according to the commentator.

I think I could be very happy, knitting the Effortless cardigan in madelinetosh DK “Byzantine” this winter. Failing that, “Blackcurrant” from Die Wollbox.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

We did it, there and back.

We got there in good time Friday afternoon. It was raining hard and steadily. There was nothing to do but light the fire and sit beside it, reading and (in my case) knitting. Despite our considerable ages, we don’t spend afternoons like that, and it was rather delicious.

Yesterday morning was dry, although precariously so. I got the chores done while my husband was getting up and breakfasting – fixing some netting under the apple tree for the apples to fall on:

…getting the vegetable harvest in, the clothes line down and stowed for the winter, a couple of other things.

There was even less harvest than I expected, because the deer have been down already, early for them. They had taken the runner beans, and made serious inroads on the broad beans, and nibbled the Jerusalem artichokes and bunching onions. They were completely indifferent to courgettes and Good King Henry. Deer usually arrive in our garden only after those things have disappeared for the winter, so I didn’t know that. They also left the real artichokes.

But the big news is – the vegetable cage works:

Deer, like rabbits, love anything brassicacious. The Brussels sprouts and cabbages (to the right) were planted before I had the vegetable cage;  most of the cabbages exceeded the dimensions and couldn’t be included. They are utterly gone, root and branch.

There are no sprouts on the Brussels sprouts – should I worry? I bought the plants at the Blairgowrie Farmers’ Market in May and have no idea what variety they are. But even if no sprouts ever form, the tuft of leaves at the top of the plants will be delicious, in a brasicacious sort of way.


Woolly Bits, you will be the ruin of me – or the salvation.

This is the time of year (golly, we haven’t even reached the equinox yet) when stash-building-temptation is at its height. I love my madelinetosh dk scarlet with so passionate a love that I have pretty well decided to proceed from Thomas-the-Elder’s electric red “Brownstone” sweater straight on to an “Effortless” for me.

I have had my eye on that pattern for a while – I bought it and printed it goodness-knows-when. It is written for madelinetosh dk. Talk about fate. Talk about fourth-quarter temptation.

I am pretty sure, from Google, that there’s no such yarn in Britain. Yarns Apart, in Amsterdam, from whom I got the scarlet yarn, is closing her doors and moving to London. She’s having a closing-out sale, and she still lists quite a bit of madelinetosh, although only a few dk’s.

So I had just about decided, despite all my virtuous restraint over the last two years, to order an Effortless-worth’s of “Bark” from her yesterday. Then, when we got back in the afternoon, I read your comment, and visited the wollbox page, and bookmarked it, and thought maybe I can leave the ordering until nearer cast-on time. Is that wise? Or should I make my move now?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank you for all your kind remarks about the shawl.

Here’s my new baby, although I hate to let you see it looking so orange:

It turns out (I think) that I need 5% more stitches than Jared’s “Large” size. That’s not rocket science, and I have set forth on the journey on that assumption. I’ll keep checking size and gauge, of course. I love this stuff so much that I think I would actually rejoice if I have to rip it out and start again.

I feel I will need to knit something else in madelinetosh DK after this one. Google doesn’t suggest it will be easy to find any around here. (Loop is good on madelinetosh, but doesn’t have DK. The shop in Amsterdam which sold me the stuff I’m knitting has closed its doors. Nothing on eBay. I haven’t tried Ravelry yet.)


We’re going to Strathardle today, in gloomy weather, planning to come back tomorrow. That’s going to make a strenuous 48 hours for an old woman. My husband is anxious to get the apple harvest in – a frost on May 31 carried off most of it. For quite a while we thought we had only one apple, and then he found four more on low branches hidden in (and probably protected by) the long grass and weeds around the foot of the tree. It’s a small tree, and has since been tidied up.

If they’re not quite ready yet, he plans to bunch netting around the foot of the tree to make a soft bed for them, instead of having them rot in the grass.

And I will harvest my vegetables, which won’t take long – broad beans and runner beans and courgettes. And admire my Brussels sprouts in their vegetable cage, and see how the seedbed roll is progressing. When last viewed, the little plants were visible, but they looked squashed between the layers, rather than growing down through the mat and lifting the plastic cover on their little shoulders as they should do.

Will the autumn raspberries be ripe? Almost certainly not.

Next year’s seed catalogues have started arriving already. I am much more suspicious of their promises than I used to be. This time, I mean to approach the problem as Stout recommends, and plan where everything will go in advance, instead of buying twice as much seed as there is room for.

On a different subject, I had an exciting time in Waverley station yesterday trying to get the tickets I had booked on The email from them contained a “booking reference” and a message saying that I would need to key  my “collection reference” into the machine at the station. I was worried about the discrepancy, but there was nothing else in the message which could possibly be a “booking reference” so I set off with high hopes.

It didn’t work.

I stood for quite a while in a queue for tickets FOR TODAY ONLY because it seemed to be the only way to get to talk to a human being. When I finally achieved that goal, difficulties melted away. I put my card into the proffered machine, all the details appeared on the nice man’s computer at once (even without my PIN number); he printed my tickets. It turns out the “collection reference” was in the title of the email from I’ll know next time. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Isn’t it nice how life sometimes works out? Kristieinbc phoned from Canada yesterday. She has a nice voice. I felt sure we would get on if we ever got to meet. And she said she wasn’t mad at me for scuppering our long-laid plans to meet in K*rkmichael on the 24th of September. So, although still sad, I felt a good deal better about the whole thing.

And then she sent an email to say that she will be in Edinburgh for two days at the end of the month, after we get back from London. So we will meet after all!


Well, here it is. I can’t claim that last percentage point until I have mended two holes -- you can see them, up at the top -- and tied a couple of loose ends. But, essentially, finished. And I’m essentially pleased with it. This is the one where the border decreases are done throughout the rows, at wide intervals between the decrease rows – instead of mitering the corners as is usual. I rather like the effect – less rigid, design-wise. It does mean that there is a slight puckering, or at least bunching, at the internal corners, the corners of the central square. That effect has been much soothed by blocking, but you can see how the colour pools at those points.

My blocking isn't quite straight, either.

And look at this:

It is the box of Chinese yarn, said-to-be-cashmere but Cathy says not, which she and James gave me for Christmas a few years ago. (I think I’ll give our niece one of the ball bands to amuse her, along with the shawl.) I knit the Amedro lacy cobweb wrap, whatever it’s called, for Greek Helen last year with the dark yarn, and now this. Months of work. One’s heart sinks to see how much remains.

One of my serious resolutions for ought-12 is to figure out what to do with lace-yarn stash. Do charity knitters want it, is the first question? Can I do anything with it, knitting three strands together, is the second? I tried that once and didn’t like the effect, but I could try again.

On a brighter note, I decided I had done enough swatch-cap, threaded it onto waste yarn in case I want to go ahead and make an actual hat of it one day, and measured the gauge. Five stitches to the inch, bang on.

I had hoped that, after a little arithmetic, one of Jared’s sizes would give me the dimensions I want for big-Thomas, but it doesn’t work. “L” is too small and “XL” is nearly two inches too big, at five stitches to the inch.

Last night, I was tired. I felt it would be impossible to meddle with Jared’s arithmetic, and I would have to plump for one or the other. This morning, I feel stronger. The pattern is essentially pretty simple. I don’t see why I shouldn’t aim for exactly the size I want. I have started with a sleeve, as the pattern requires, completely ignoring the fact that I probably don’t have enough yarn. The Lord will provide.

And, gosh, the yarn is wonderful. A rich, saturated red with slight variations in intensity which are going to look marvellous, I think.

VK and Woolgathering both turned up yesterday, but will have to wait until tomorrow.

I don't know why we've got so much space between paragraphs today. Blogger's fault.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Kristieinbc and I have been scheming for months to meet in K*rkmichael on September 24. She and a friend are walking the Cateran Trail and will be there that evening. Now it turns out my husband and I will be in London.

I’m not at all sure my husband is up to London any more – he’s not sure either. I thought we had agreed that we would go in November, when the big Leonardo show will be on at the National Gallery. But he has been getting restive about all he is missing. We haven't been to London for a long time. So we agreed to go October 1-2. But Rachel, on whom we will depend, is going to a wedding that weekend. She would prefer to have us before or after. Several shows my husband wants to see will have closed by October 8-9. And so September 24 it is.

A crushing disappointment. I hope Kristie and I can at least contrive to speak by telephone.

On a more cheerful but still art-related note: a friend recently spotted a picture “attributed to” my husband’s artist at a forthcoming sale in a pleasant provincial English city. “Attributed to”, in a sale catalogue, means that the auctioneer doesn’t think it’s by the artist named. This one, in addition, has got a hole in it. The auctioneer’s estimated price is so low as to indicate that he thinks it’s practically worthless.

You can’t tell much from an image on a computer screen, but my husband is “inclined to think” it’s genuine. We’re going to try bidding for it by telephone, if the auctioneer rises to such sophistication. You must have seen pictures on television of banks of people off to the side at an auction sale each connected by telephone to a distant punter. That’ll be us except that I will be hiding under the bed.

It’s not great art, even if we could prove conclusively that it’s by Leonardo. And we will rapidly be outbid if a dealer decides to snap it up on spec. We will have to hope that no such dealer rings my husband up between now and the sale. He cannot tell a lie, although he can (and would, in such an eventuality) be economical with the truth.


The Mourning Shawl is finished, except for a few loose ends. I hope I will get it blocked this morning – pic tomorrow, if so. That process will no doubt reveal an additional spot or two requiring attention.

I had a stressful day yesterday, including an unsuccessful attempt to buy our train tickets at Waverley Station. I waited 40 minutes. At that point there were still 19 people ahead of me (it’s one of those systems where you take a number) and one of the two girls selling tickets abandoned that task in favour of counting money. I have often bought tickets at Waverley Station and have never before seen anything like it. It wasn’t even Christmas, just a Tuesday in September. I came home and got our tickets on

But in the evening I needed comfort, so I abandoned the shawl and cast on a swatch cap in madelinetosh dk scarlet. I’m going to enjoy this. It’s wonderful stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Slower work than I expected, this last bit. As so often.

The final row of knitting went briskly enough, but getting the fourth border stitches from their waste yarn onto a needle wasn’t instantaneous. And we had trouble with the video recorder last night – that’s my province. And the grafting itself is laborious – I am working with far too long a piece of wool, in my anxiety not to have to attach another half-way across. And every stitch – every two stitches – must be drawn all the way through and carefully tensioned.

I’m maybe 3/4s of the way across, so the rest shouldn’t take too long, barring further disasters. Gosh, I might even get a skein of madeleinetosh wound and a swatch cap cast on this evening. Blocking is not an evening job.

I’ve ordered two more skeins from Jimmy Bean, and had an email from them last night to say that the two skeins they have in stock, although both madelinetosh scarlet, look rather different from each other. Should they send them, or wait until their new order arrives in 2-4 weeks? I was impressed. But I told them to go ahead and send. I’m up to the eyeballs in dye-lot problems already.

With those two skeins, I’ll have enough if the gauge turns out to be 5 stitches to the inch, but without much margin of error. I’ve said before that anxieties about yarn running out are more than I can bear, so I have ordered three more from Happy Knits in Portland, OR. By now, I could probably knit a reduced copy of Jared’s pattern for Thomas-the-Younger as well. Or matching hat and scarf.


I spoke to Rachel last night, and learned that Lizzie, on the very threshold of going off to Birmingham University, had her card cloned and her bank account cleaned out. The bank has replaced the money, several hundred pounds, although it is inaccessible until the new card turns up. I am sure Lizzie has never been careless with her card, nor did she notice anything funny at an ATM. Scary.

I had a funny phone call recently from a man purporting to be phoning from the Bank of Scotland – or did he say HBOS? – about some interest that should have been paid into our account and hadn’t been. His voice didn’t sound very BofS but I talked for a while, and even told him my date of birth. When he asked what standing orders were paid from the account, I hung up.

I got more and more worried overnight, and in the morning tried to phone the bank. I utterly failed. Automated voices kept asking me for random digits from my security number and I didn’t know what they were talking about. (I bank on-line, and get into the account with user name, password, and “memorable information”. None of those seemed apposite.) I decided to stop worrying – if I couldn’t talk to them, he probably couldn’t either, if he was a bad guy. And he didn’t know my mother’s maiden name or the name of the dear cat, dead more than half a century, which I incorporate into some passwords.

This was in Strathardle. When we got home, I found a letter from the bank about interest they should have paid us and hadn't. So maybe he was on the level. But I remain unhappy about not being able to talk to a human being when I need one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Almost no knitting yesterday, a most aimless day. Still two rows to go on the centre of the Mourning Shawl. I ought to be able to squeeze them in this morning and free the Serious Evening Session for grafting.

Yarnsapart no longer had madelinetosh DK scarlet on their website when I went back yesterday. I wrote, hoping there might be a couple of skeins lying about anyway, and heard back almost at once, despite its being Sunday: no. I flailed wildly about and wound up ordering two skeins from Jimmy Bean in (of all places) Reno.

I did a bit more flailing this morning, with no success. The difficulty is that there are quite a few different qualities of madelinetosh yarn, with a vast range of colours within each. There are lots of stockists, but it’s still difficult to find a particular colour in a particular yarn.

Madelinetosh doesn’t have dye lots, but the extra stuff from Nevada is bound to be different from the Dutch lot. Jared’s “Brownstone” pattern has a biggish shawl collar. Otherwise, I can’t see any way at the moment to introduce a discordant note. I will just have to alternate it with the main lot of yarn at the top of the sweater.

Ah! what about provisional cast-ons for sleeve and body so that the ribbing (as well as the ribbed collar) can be done in the “wrong” yarn if need be? That’s a thought. I’m assuming I’ll be ready to cast on before the yarn arrives from Reno.

I will get an idea of how the yarn is holding out as I knit along, of course. Jimmy Bean gives the gauge as 5.5 stitches to the inch which would make things even worse if true.

I do like this pattern. I have been reading it through to see what happens – it’s very straightforward, and meticulously written. I am glad to see that there are two short-row passages in the back. Seeing Joe in the Grandson Sweater on Games Day, I wished I had put in some short rows for him. I thought only EZ and Meg did that, and it’s wonderful to discover Jared paying attention.

Knitting oddities

This one is from a review in the FT in May, ’09, of a show of conceptual Russian art at a London gallery called Calvert 22 in Shoreditch. Rather off our beaten track, gallery-wise. It is called “The Knitling” by Leonid Tishkov, although the text says that it was actually knitted by the artist’s mother. (Lots of artists don’t make their own stuff these days. You can go to the City Art Gallery here in Edinburgh this very day and see David Mach’s studio – it has been moved to occupy a whole floor of the gallery while the current Mach exhibition is on. There you will find keen young people hard at work while Mach himself – if that was indeed him, the day we went – sits about reading the newspaper.)

In this case, we don't know whether Leonid or old Mrs Tishkov actually designed the suit. It is meant to “bring to mind the balls of thread leading the heroes of Russian fairy tales.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today is New York's day.

I’ve got my yarn:

...and I carried it on our walk, as you suspected. It wasn’t very heavy. (Thinks: have I bought enough?) They’re jokers down there at the Warriston post office. The card said I would need identification, so I had taken an old, cancelled passport. The man – who knows me well enough, as post offices know customers – looked through it as if he were an immigration official, and then said, “I’m afraid this won’t do. We’ll need…” They are Pakistani down there, and probably have some experience of immigration officials.

The yarn is wonderful, ca va sans dire. It is lighter than Jared’s specification – 5 sts to the inch, according to the label, as contrasted with the pattern’s 4 ½. (Thinks again: have I bought enough?) I got out the “Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements” – Helen C.K.S. gave it to me as a First Foot present one year – and ran the figures past it. 5 sts to the inch, 46” finished chest circumference (as required by the sweater Thomas sent up for me to measure): sure enough, I don’t have enough.

I’ve got enough according to Jared, if the gauge turns out to be 4 ½ sts to the inch, and of course I haven’t swatched yet. But I’ll order more today. I simply couldn’t stand the months of anxiety.

We know by now that colours, especially red ones, can’t be trusted camera-to-computer – not, at least, until I finally succeed in going to one of Franklin’s classes. But the new yarn is really rather remarkably similar to the shawl yarn which my husband calls “electric”. Thomas must, surreptitiously – gosh! I got that past the spell-checker! – have been reading the blog, although he didn’t say so, when he asked for an “electric red sweater”. So I feel confident that I have fulfilled his requirement, whether or not it’s a good colour. And whatever “electric red” means.

In fact, the picture at the top today of the yarn in its box, taken on the doorstep, is not half bad, colour-wise.

The shawl: four rows to go. Today, barring disaster, should see me embarked on the grafting of top-of-centre to fourth-border. I’ll have to look up garter-stitch grafting again, but I did it superbly, if I do say so myself, for the Round-the-Bend jacket, so I know it can be done. I have left myself rather a generous allowance of percentage points in the sidebar for the finishing process. Better than over-shooting.

Contract knitting

I am sure you are right, anonymous-not-Ron, when you say that minimum wages could never be applied to hand-knitting. And I have a lot of sympathy for the exploited knitters who say they want to knit for next-to-nothing. Apart from other considerations, I know there are housebound, handicapped knitters who are delighted to exercise their considerable skills and earn a little something. It’s a good deal better than addressing envelopes.

I feel sorry for skilled knitters who don’t have grandsons who ask them for sweaters. On the other hand, people who knit faster than I do, and more skilfully, and who prefer thicker yarns, will find the practice soon becomes rather expensive and may rejoice in being given good yarns and set to knitting and actually paid for the result.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Twelve rows to go. But today’s excitement is that I am going for a walk with our niece, so there will be no opportunity to nip in and knock off a row or two between domestic chores. Indeed, since she is the Intended Recipient, I’ll have to bundle the whole operation out of sight before she comes – we’re starting from here and planning to walk along the water of Leith to the Galleries of Modern Art where we will have something nice to eat and perhaps cruise the gift shop before walking back.

Our route from here to the nearest Water-of-Leith access point takes us past the little post office to which my Package should have been delivered by now. We’ll stop by and see if it’s there. If it is, I doubt if I will be able to resist carrying it about all day. The Post Office will be shut when we get back in the afternoon. The premises are also a shop, and they’re nice people – maybe they could put it under the counter for me. More likely, I won’t be able to part with it.

On sober reflection, I think a swatch is the way to go. I did one for the Grandson Sweater, I seem to remember, and it’s one of my more successful recent efforts.

The trouble with a sleeve, if knit bottom-up, is that the ribbing pulls the work in and you’d have to knit quite a lot of sleeve before getting an accurate reading on the gauge. The same trouble applies to a “swatch cap” – so you have to cast on a circle and knit for a while without ribbing. It could be turned into a cap eventually, by picking up stitches and knitting the ribbing downwards. But you can’t do that right away, because the swatch might need to be ripped to supply yarn for the end of the sweater. I don’t know what happened in the end to the Grandson circlet. I suppose it must be in the stash cupboard somewhere.

(Round-and-round gauge is slightly different from back-and-forth – hence these stratagems.)

It would be interesting to discuss these problems with Meg. I do envy your great good fortune in having been to Knit Camp, stash haus.

Maybe she knows her yarns well enough that gauge can be largely assumed. That’s how peasant knitters must have operated – you spend your life knitting Fair Isle or Aran, you get to know your gauge and can indulge in flights of design without anxiety.

Contract knitting

“Inverallan” – see yesterday – is still in business, but only just. According to a supplier of their sweaters, The Mandon Store, location unknown, prose uncorrected:

”Inverallan is one of the last remaining few original hand knit companies left in the Aran district of Scotland. originally set up by a consortium of Fisherman's wives who made purely for there husbands. the brand has continued in its cottage industry fashion, hence the knitters signature on each garment. the company has however called it a day so this may be the last chance to ever own an piece of history.”

The sweaters retail for £200, so the knitter gets 10% if things haven’t changed since 2003. I have a couple more observations to make on the subject, but right now I’d better get on with sourcing some sandwiches for my husband’s lunch.

Friday, September 09, 2011

We can count in the other direction from here: 25 rows to go on the centre of the Mourning shawl. The last set of initials are charted and printed, and indeed I have started on the panel where they’ll go, although I haven’t reached the letters themselves yet. I use Stitch and Motif Maker for charting. It seems slightly amateur and clunky these days, but it does the job and is faster (I think) and more fun (certainly) than doing it by hand.

Three more evenings (or less) should polish off the knitting. Then there’s the top edge of the centre to be grafted to the fourth border – I love grafting. Tightening and tidying – there are two safety pins embedded in the fabric, holding stitches that tried to get away, and some other points, I fear, that may benefit from cosmetic attention.

A miniscule bit of sewing – the ends of the edging need to be attached to each other, and I knit an inch or so of the borders back and forth before embarking on the Fleegle system.

And blocking.

I always feel sorry for people who don’t know what they’re going to do next. They used to crop up on the Knitlist from time to time. For me, a major part of the pleasure of these last few days consists of looking forward to the next one, laying out the yarn, whatever. And I think the yarn from Amsterdam is here – when I got back from the supermarket yesterday, there on the mat was one of those dread cards from the Post Office – “While you were out…” My husband had been in the house, but didn’t hear the bell.

Usually, dread. This time, I let out a small exclamation of joy.

In the fairly recent good-old-days, the sorting office to which undelivered packages were returned was within walking distance of here. Then they moved it to the other side of town, no doubt informing me in a letter which explained that this was being done for my greater convenience. I have arranged for this particular package to be delivered to a relatively-local post office. It should be there tomorrow. It had bloody better.

Jared’s Brownstone pattern – for which the scarlet madelinetosh is intended – is done in the round, starting with a sleeve. If the suggested gauge on the label attached to the yarn is anywhere near Jared’s, I’m inclined to think I’ll just plunge in. I think Meg says somewhere that that’s what she does (doesn’t swatch, starts with a sleeve).

Knitting Oddities

A lot of the items in the file are clippings of news and feature articles relating to knitting – not really oddities at all. Or pictures of people wearing sweaters I happened to admire. A theme that keeps reappearing is the question of payment for handknitters – I have a long article that appeared in Scotland on Sunday in 2003 about a firm called Inverallan which was brought to book by the Inland Revenue for paying knitters (much) less than the minimum wage. The knitters, of course, were all having a lovely time, happy to help, £20 per garment will do nicely.

I can’t look up “Inverallan” at the moment because I am in the process of updating my browser. The article says that they now get their knitting done in Ireland and India.

I wonder how much the dress Cate Blanchett was wearing in yesterday’s illustration cost, and how much the crochet-er got. I am pulled both ways on this issue.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Today is James's 50th birthday. That leaves only Greek Helen. Happy Birthday, James.

Mourning shawl

148 rows done. Charting those final letters has now become rather urgent. I asked our niece yesterday what her name was, and a good thing I did – there were no unexpected names, but the ones I already knew appear in an unexpected order. She, like her mother, travels under the second of her given names.

I made a small design decision yesterday, too. The thing is: assume the central portion is going to come out square. In one corner, the lower right, are the initials of my husband’s sister who died in March: MCRM. In the middle is the year: 2011. I had planned to put our niece’s initials, ECR as I now know, in the upper left-hand corner, turned the other way. Now I think not: that would be all right without the date in the middle, but as things are it will be better to orientate them in the same direction as the other two panels.

So I don’t need Rorem’s upside-down alphabet after all, this time.

We have now entered what I think might be called the time-frame for the arrival of my new madelinetosh scarlet yarn from Amsterdam. (I ordered it last Saturday.) There’s only about a week of shawl-knitting left, so it had better turn up soon.


Thanks for the link to Windy Valley, anonymous. The colours look promising, all right – but all of the qiviut yarn seems to be lace-weight (understandably, given the price). That’s how I remember things from my own qiviut phase. I knit my mother an Amedro stole in it.

But I was struck yesterday with the fact that Caryll Designs offers the hand-painted colours in fingering weight – the naturals come in sport-weight as well. That still doesn’t achieve the worsted-weight you mention, anonymous, but it makes it possible to think of knitting my husband an extravagantly expensive and beautiful vest. With the price of heating fuel these days, it might even pay for itself.

Knitting oddities

The brain was knitted by Dr. Karen Norberg, and was on display at the Boston Museum of Science when I cut this item out two and a half years ago. The picture of Cate Blanchett was exactly two years ago, September, 2009. To my mind, fully worthy of the late lamented blogspot You Knit What?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Considerably more cheerful.

I bought Interweave’s 2011 “Knitting Traditions” yesterday to cheer myself up, knowing I wouldn’t like it much, but at least with the iPad I’m not left with a great expensive can’t-throw-it-away-but-don’t-really-want-it to add to all the knitting stuff here.

What I discovered in it is MOCO yarns, meaning Musk Ox Company, meaning qivuit, from Caryll Designs. If qivuit could be said to have a fault, it’s colour. The fibre starts pretty dark, when still attached to the musk ox, and never gets lighter. But it looks, even so, as if there are better colours than there were during my qivuit phase many years ago.

There’s no room for temptation (quite apart from the prohibitive cost) because of my new rule – I mustn’t buy it until I can knit it. And that won’t be for a while, with the Japanese shirt stretching ahead in Strathardle and Thomas-the-Elder’s electric red sweater soon to be cast on here.

I once bought a couple of skeins of cashmere Koigu from String in NY. Do they still do it? I had it delivered to one of you who was about to come to Edinburgh, and I shall never forget my first peer into that package as we sat over coffee. Cashmere, yes. Koigu, yes. But the colour was dull, compared to the Koigu I knew and loved. I learned something about fibres and colours that day (not much, but something).

Silk, wool, cotton – you can’t beat ‘em.

Mourning Shawl

I’ve reached row 133. No new problems yesterday. At this clip, I’ll reach the row (161) where I plan to start the final panel of lettering, our niece’s initials, in two or three days. I’d better start charting.

Knitting Oddities

Hinke Osinga at the University of Bristol crocheted (what would wind up as) a Christmas decoration based on the “Lorenz manifold”. It’s something to do with chaos theory.

And then how about this:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Row 116. I was like an old horse yesterday when its head is turned back towards the barn. Here is the “2011” panel – it’ll be a bit clearer after blocking, I hope.

I had a moment of sharp gloom last night when I felt there were too many small and medium mistakes, some to be ignored, some to be clumsily repaired at the finishing stage. Maybe I can’t do this any more? I feel only marginally more cheerful this morning. Maybe it's time to start taking vitamin D, even though the time change must be more than a month away.

The centre pattern is printed on two pages, and when you finish them, you go back almost to the beginning and do it again. That’s where I am now, nearly half-way up the first page for the second time.

But otherwise, there’s nothing to say until my madelinetosh yarn turns up from the Netherlands, or “Knit, Swirl” from Amazon. The latter is now promised for later this month.

So, as suggested yesterday, here are two items from my Knitting Oddities file. The first is a poem from the FT Magazine, undated. The second, from something called “Trace” – it must be a publication devoted to stolen works of art – appeared in June, 1995.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Little to report. I’ve done 94 rows of the Mourning Shawl centre – one short of half-way. The remaining-stitch count is perfect on the right. On the left there are three extra stitches, a legacy somehow I feel sure of the stitches I dropped some inches ago and my feeble efforts to get back on track. I’ll slip in some extra double-decreases. I’ve started the digits for “2011”.

Thank you for the comments on “entreknits”. I was glad to have my impression confirmed – that it can’t be had on an iPad – by younger and sharper minds. Wren, I tried clicking on your name, as I often do with comments, and got only to a screen that said your profile had been withheld.

I spent an entertaining few moments Googling “wren blog knitting”. Are you jenwren? Blogduwren? Littlejennywren? Grandmotherwren? Smalltownwren? Perhaps even wreninthelibrary? Probably not blogduwren.

On Saturday there was a major spread in the Telegraph magazine about a forthcoming knit-your-own-cat book. I can let that one go. “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding” is enough for 2011. But the cats were extremely ingenious. I put the pages in my Knitting Oddities file, and thought, as I did so, that I could bring out some of the treasures therein on mornings like this when there is nothing to say.

But I’ve spent so much time chasing wrens that I can’t even do that, today.


I remarked the other day that none of us had entered the Pillow Fight at the Games this year. Alexander sent a one-word email yesterday – “Nonsense!” – with this link. You can see what I mean about violence.

Here is this year’s group picture, looking rather attenuated.

There are three sweaters knit by me there -- Ketki, largely invisible on the far right, behind Ed, is wearing Kaffe's tumbling blocks. James-the-Younger in the front row is wearing his new Aran sweater, unplaced in the competition, and Joe, behind, with the Dan Webster Cup, is wearing the Grandson. And then there is Thomas-the-Younger, beside his brother, with a therapy scarf I knit as I was recovering from one of my broken arms.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Row 87 done, of the centre of the Mourning Shawl. If I maintain my present pace – but Sundays are not altogether conducive to knitting – I should reach the actual middle row today. More serious counting, at that point. I’ve started the frame for the numerals, but haven’t yet embarked on “2011” itself.


Thank you for your kind and encouraging note, Ron. I went to the iTunes store yesterday and searched on “knitting”. Nothing of the remotest interest.

But the new issue of Piecework arrived from heaven and inserted itself into the iPad. Wonderful! Browsing it, I found Interweave’s ad for “entreknits”, an “emag” with some big-name designers, including Meg.

I went haring off in pursuit of it, but by the end of the day I had concluded that it is for PC’s and Mac’s only. I would be happy to be contradicted on that. It is an interactive magazine – you can zoom in close to look at things, and there are videos to illustrate tricky points. It is certainly an interesting idea, and I think they’ve missed their target if it really can’t be had on an iPad.

They say it takes fifteen minutes to download, or is it twenty? I’m not at all sure my now-rather-antique desktop has that sort of memory to spare, and anyway I don’t want to huddle in here amongst the unfiled financial papers when I’m reading a knitting magazine.


Thomas-the-Elder’s “electric red” sweater looms nearer, as the centre of the Mourning Shawl progresses. He wasn’t able to come to the Games this year, but he sent a favourite sweater which I have carefully measured. That’s almost always a better option than measuring the actual chap.

I had pretty well decided on Cascade 220 “Christmas red” but yesterday I was suddenly overcome by madelinetosh thoughts. The advantage, perhaps – or disadvantage – of not buying yarn too long in advance.

Loop, in London, has only one even-remotely-possible red in stock, in the needed DK/light worsted yarn, and not enough of that. A Google search for UK retailers produced nothing better. OK, I thought, let’s just pay the customs duty – but visits to Knit Purl (who got me started on madelinetosh), Patternworks, String, and Webs left me equally empty-handed.

I then did what I should have done at the beginning, and went to Ravelry. The madelinetosh group has a vendors’ list. Almost at once I found Yarns Apart in the Netherlands. Their madelinetosh list doesn’t have any of those depressing “3 skeins” or “out of stock” notes next to the colours one might want. Next to “scarlet” it said only “in stock”, and I have ordered a sweater’s worth.

And one thing undoubtedly to be said in favour of the EU is that there will be no customs duty.

I do like the sound of the Supreme Possum Merino they offer. Have a look.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mourning Shawl

Row 76 of the center done. That’s near enough the middle of 190 rows that I must chart “2011” today – obviously, I have to start the box well before the middle row, in order to centre it. No creativity is called for – I’m using the letters “O” and “I”, and I did a perfectly satisfactory “2” when I was signing and dating the Princess shawl, so it’s just a matter of copying.

I’ve reached the second instance of the 12-row passage I found so difficult the first time, and it’s going a bit better, despite jeanfromcornwall’s eloquent and much-enjoyed description of Murphy’s law last Thursday. This time, I have sort of analyzed what is going on instead of trying to learn it row-by-row. And EZ’s most useful advice – “Look at your knitting” – has come into play.

I had some trouble yesterday of a sort which has been mercifully absent up until now, when a whole row somehow got thrown out by a stitch or two. The result is that a lozenge-shape made up of a stack of big holes – k2tog, yo, yo, k2tog – doesn’t quite stack properly. I’m not a perfectionist, and it doesn’t bother me much, but I’ll be more careful the next time those big holes come around. Big holes are a bit tricky to align because they involve an even number of stitches.


Yesterday’s big news is that Kitchen Garden magazine is going to print a little piece by me about Good King Henry in the December issue. You’ve read it all here already. It’s just a last-page piece which they invite readers to contribute, and the reward is only a £20 voucher for a firm which may not have anything I want. (Perhaps some fleece?) Still, it’s publication.

I used to do occasional bits of journalism, in the days before my husband retired and I had to start cooking all day long. The last thing I did was Gladys Amedro’s obituary for the Scotsman. No payment at all for that, and I had to pay a Shetland photographer myself for the picture they used. I google’d it yesterday and was embarrassed to find how often I have boasted of it here, but the obituary itself is also on-line, to my pleasure.


Knitlass, thank you for the link to Purl Bee (comment yesterday). She’s got some good things, but my heart is already committed to Jared, scarf-wise.

I get the feeling from Beijing that James doesn’t think I am making sufficient use of my beloved iPad, as I sit here peacefully reading “The Turn of the Screw”. The Telegraph was giving away free e-copies of “The Tenderness of Wolves” yesterday, so I helped myself to one of them, but I don’t think that’s what he means.

I don’t really think I want Goodreader – I prefer to print patterns and write comments in the margins with old-fashioned writing implements. No need to catalogue stash for reference in a yarn shop. Don’t want to risk gravy-splashes by cooking from it. I must snatch some time today with the iPad lovers on Ravelry, and perhaps the App chapter in “iPad for Dummies.”

Friday, September 02, 2011

The stitch count came out right – I’m on the right track for attaching the centre of the Mourning shawl to its edges. There was some trouble last night on the left side. It still looks messy, and this morning I found two errant border stitches just waiting to break away and create big trouble. I’ve secured them with a safety pin and I’ll have to fudge something at the end.

So this morning’s picture is of the right-hand side again, with a reappearance of the initials. It's those vertical panels, just below the diagonals currently being knitted, which gave so much trouble. I'm sure they'll look better when blocked.

I’ll check the stitch count again at the half-way point, including checking to see whether I’ve got the same number of stitches still-to-pick-up on the one side as on the other. I’m sure not. There’ll be some tweaking needed at some point, but at least I know it won’t be major. A great relief.

Yesterday being the first day of the month, I turned the page of the Grandmother Calendar Rachel made for me last Christmas – and

look at that! I take it as a Sign.

It shows Thomas-the-Elder and James-the-Younger on Games Day, presumably in ’10. Thomas is sitting on the Pillow Fight bar. You put one hand behind your back and try to knock your opponent off the bar with a pillow held in the other. It can get pretty violent. None of us went in for it this year.

And Thomas is undoubtedly wearing his Cocoon scarf. I must have observed it at the time, but had completely forgotten. (Within living memory, the Fourth Saturday of August has been uncomfortably hot in Strathardle. But in recent years, global warming has put a stop to that.)

The Mourning Shawl must be finished in ’11, I feel – but there should be plenty of time for that as well as a Christmas scarf. This new – or is it not yet out? – book of Weekend Hats looks as if it has some good things in it, but I think members of my list may already be saturated with hats.

Amazon has written to tell me that “Knit, Swirl” has been delayed. It was due at the end of August. I can wait. That will affect the project-after-next, at best.