Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I calculated, and re-calculated, and finished casting on, and have now knit myself somewhere into the second inch of ribbing on Ed’s Gardening Sweater – and isn’t it bliss not to have to count rounds? because back and front are being knit together in a tube; and not to have to measure and worry about whether I’ve done enough ribbing, because I’m the boss and can stop whenever I think I’ve done enough?

The experience is fully as wonderful as I anticipated, and this is only the ribbing, which I don’t much like doing. I should be well enough along by the time I see the recipient on Boxing Day that some judgement can be made about size and suitability. I feel I don’t care – I wouldn’t mind ripping out and starting again forever, with this wonderful yarn, like Penelope at her loom.

Perhaps 2013 will be the Year of madelinetosh. If I decide to abandon the Japanese shirt, I could order some more tosh sock yarn (oh dear, naughty) and do a finely striped tee. I need to talk to possible female recipients about what they might actually like. Rachel, Ketki, Cathy, Hellie and Lizzie will all be on the shores of Loch Fyne soon, and so will I. Knitting for men is easier. Simple shapes. The idea is to keep warm. It’s no use endlessly knitting for myself and then not wearing the result: what would women wear?

I took my husband to a podiatry appt yesterday and sat knitting the current sock while waiting for him. I sat next to a woman who admired what I was doing – “Those are very fine needles. Twelves or thirteens?” She was referring to the old British sizes (the opposite of American sizes, where big numbers mean big needles). They went out when the currency was decimalised in the late 60’s, I would say. Since then we have used millimetres.

She said her family was tired of being knitted for, so she knits for a charity that sends lorry-loads of sweaters to East European children. I told her about the Dutch woman with 60 years of sweaters piled up in her house. She – my companion in podiatry – doesn’t have a computer or a television, and listens to the radio sparingly. She reads. Those smart men and women in suits who run the country need to be reminded sometimes that not all of us care to keep up with them.

The new needles for the last-minute hat didn’t turn up yesterday, despite having been posted first class on Monday. Surely today?

To return to earth: Thank you for the help both with long-tail cast-on’s and short rows.   You have persuaded me to use the latter to lift the back neck, when I get there. At the moment – remember, I am doing this bit by bit, with Meg’s four articles in Knitter’s 2000 – she is suggesting them below the armpits, even perhaps in front to accommodate a paunch. I don’t need that.

Or do I? Don’t miss JeanfromCornwall’s comment on yesterday’s post, about how men put sweaters on.

You have also persuaded me to attempt the phoney seam described yesterday. Meg says that you can drop the stitch when you get to the underarm, and persuade it to run down, or “you may do [the seams] incrementally as you inch your way up the body”. How would that work? Ladder back after a couple of inches, crochet up, restore the stitch to the needle and knit on?

And I shall retain and ponder your suggestions for calculating the long-tail. Someone said something about this in Franklin’s lace class. Do you remember, Shandy? I think it was your idea, BlueLoom. But I think next time I’ll try using two balls of yarn tied together.

Today’s excitement is that Archie will turn up under his own steam this afternoon or evening, and I will drive him to the airport tomorrow and dispatch him towards Athenian warmth and sunlight. So if I’m not here tomorrow, that’s why. 


  1. Have you tried travelling loop?
    (The video calls it magic loop with one loop, but it will give you the idea) It means you don't need to have a circular needle with the exact circumference of your hat, you can use whatever size is to hand. It's easy and quick, I use it all the time for hats, cowls etc.

  2. Drop it whenever you like and then when you next encounter the "seam" pretend it's a yarnover? No luck yet with the asymetrical cardigan from Bergère de France, will keep an eye out for it, perhaps in the next issue.Usually their special patterns appear in the magazine.Marcella, who's is Dutch but does not hoard knitted sweaters yet

  3. Karen2:35 PM

    What about doing the seam as knit for 2 rows, and then next row knit into the stitch below (as in Fisherman's rib)? That should end up with 2 rows of seam st for every 3 rows of sweater.

  4. I think you can do the fake seams just by slipping the seam stitch every other or every third row, can't you? I hasten to add that I have never done this, but I think I have read about this version somewhere.

  5. Anonymous3:57 PM

    On a recent jumper knit in the round I purled the seam stitch on every other row.

  6. I read with interest your plan on a future project to use two balls of yarn for your next long tail cast-on. I use the two ends of the ball I'm using.

    I think you'll be fine doing the faux seams when you reach the armpits, though if you're doing miles of stockinette the periodic moments when you need to stop and do something different would make it attractive. Place a marker at those points just in case. ;)

  7. I'm squirming round to see what I did for a false seam on the guernsey that I am wearing today - it would appear that I just knit one stitch purl every round. It rather disappears into the fabric of the stocking stitch, but it served as a marker for me as I was working and that is what I wanted it for rather than a decorative element.

  8. there is also a book on the Dutch sweaters - read about it in Jan's blog at
    i've never done false seams, so i am curious to see what methods there are!

  9. Sarah JS8:41 PM

    About UK knitting needle sizing: Perhaps my memory fails, but I'd thought that the needles I bought in the UK during my college "junior year abroad" were marked as 7's (or something like) and were MUCH smaller than this U.S.A. kid expected them to be. (Hadn't even thought that perhaps knitting needle sizing might vary from one continent to another.) This would have been 1984. I think I still have those squirrelled away; I'll have to see if I can find them! Too bad I didn't keep the vest I whacked together (no pattern) that winter. If memory serves I gave it to a UK friend as my suitcase wouldn't hold all my belongings after my year away.

  10. I'm hopeless at determining the length of long-tail cast on's. I don't mind redoing it if it's under 100 sts, but for >100 I have given up. When I see a pattern begins, 'cast on XXX sts' I either quickly abandon thoughts of knitting that pattern, or if that doesn't work I do a knitted cast on. The tail is only as long as you need to weave in.

  11. I only ever use a knitted cast-on, although I recently graduated to the cable cast-on. At the Loop class, the American girl who worked in the shop suggested casting on ten stitches and pulling them out to measure how much yarn it took for ten. Then you could calculate how much to allow for your stitch-count. Sounded sensible.

  12. Hullo, Jean!

    A rough-and-ready means of figuring out the amount to let out for the tail of the long-tail is three times the length (or circumference)of your first row (or round), plus a bit. The bit, in my case, is usually 6 to 8 inches.

    This is always works, except when it doesn't.

    In her Orenberg Lace classes, Galina measures out the amount for a shawl by wrapping the yarn three times around the waist. You would think this would vary wildly according to the thickness of the knitter.