Friday, March 30, 2012

The vest passed muster. It’s finished. The picture is slightly fuzzy, I'm afraid.

I noticed to my horror, however, that in certain lights and from certain angles, the re-knit part looks different from what precedes. Because it is unblocked? Or because – horror of horrors! – my husband was right (he usually is) and I should have de-crinkled the yarn before re-knitting? It looks sort of un-ironed.  He hasn’t commented on it, it may disappear with wear, and I prefer not to think about it.

Thanks for your comments yesterday, Helen, on the subject of de-crinkling.

So yesterday’s knitting was devoted to the Zauberball sock. I finished the ribbing and am speeding down the leg. Pic soon. I should reach the heel today. The current plan is to do something slightly more demanding than the Afterthought Heel, since I’m here with my books. A Dutch heel, perhaps? Neatby’s garter stitch heel? I couldn’t attempt an Andersson if I wanted to, because it’s toe-up.

The yarn for the snood will presumably be heralded by a card telling me what I’ve got to pay. I’m very unlikely, therefore, to have the actual yarn before Monday at the earliest. By then, I should have done so much sock that I might as well go ahead and finish the pair.

By the way...

Jared has an interesting blog entry about the Inversion Cardigan in his new collection – one of those babies you can wear upside down. I was rather struck by it my first time through, when I bought the infinity scarf pattern which may wind up as my snood, at least stitch-wise. And I’m tempted again.

Sky Scarf

I was interested in your comment Tuesday, JennyS, saying that your Kent-based scarf is bluer than mine. I suspect the inferiority of Edinburgh weather is the reason, but there are other possibilities, starting with the time of day of the observation. I often find that the day starts with a light cloud-cover even when it’s going to be sunny. And much depends on the yarns available for selection. But the whole thing is really very subjective – the sky is often partly blue and partly grey. That’s the fun of it.  

I hope the Little Boys at Loch Fyne will be interested in the project when we are there next week. If they are, I will knit their choices for those three mornings, however much I disagree.

I, too, had considered a Sunset Scarf for next year. There were some marvellous late afternoon skies around here in January. But the logistics might be tricky – I mean, getting oneself in position to observe the sunset, and doing it every day.

Beverly, I am taken with your idea of knitting the scarf as a tube, ends inside. There could be purl stitches at either side to encourage flatness. I like the opportunity to knit with two yarns held together, making it a little easier to express what I see. But I could still do that.

That leaves garlic mustard still to be dicussed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shandy, that was sweet. Thank you. But a Terrible Event is certain, in a sense. They can strike at any stage of life, they often do, they always come as a surprise, but one of the differences between old age (if you’re lucky enough to get there) and the rest is that you have occasional flashes when you realise for sure that one (at least) is really going to happen to you. As I did on Monday evening -- reduced sight could mean loss of driving license and therefore no more Strathardle. Was it actually happening?

A Tom Stoppard character observes in Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead, that we all remember making interesting discoveries about sex, but can’t remember when and how we found out about death.


The v-neck vest is finished (again) except for a final try-on this morning. I don’t think I’ll block it again. I resumed the Crazy Zauberball socks. It takes half-an-hour or so for the fingers to readjust themselves to smaller needles and round-and-round. Once that happens, one never wants to stop.

Zauberball is new to me. It looks from the label as if it will take a whole sock for the colour changes to work themselves out. What fun!

This is the pair on which I mean to learn the Afterthought Heel, and I found myself worrying last night about the question of how much heel to allow for, when measuring foot length. A bit of Googling this morning, and I think 2” should be about right. Maybe now that I’ve got the bit between the teeth, I’ll go ahead and finish this pair before knitting the snood.

That could involve starting the next pair at Loch Fyne next weekend, where knitting-time increases. And if so, the overall plan needs adjustment. I had meant to do the Andersson Heel next but I do not understand it at all. It needs to be reserved for quiet evenings in Edinburgh. I’ll pick something else from the list and make the necessary plans. Hundertwasser is to be the yarn.

Helen C.K.S. reports, in the blog entry I referred to yesterday, that she decided to frog an entire shawl at the stage when it was being wrapped in pretty paper for dispatch. Observe that she wound the yarn into skeins, not balls, and then washed them because they were so crinkled.

Is that necessary? When I frogged the top of the vest recently, my husband fretted that the crinkled yarn would knit up differently. I didn’t think so, and I didn’t notice any difference when I was re-knitting it. Sometimes I was using ravelled yarn, sometimes new (because I found I had enough and didn’t need to repeat the alternate-skein thing to incorporate lighter yarn).

Nor is there any discernable difference in the result, as far as I can see. I’d better write to Helen about this.


I’m glad I posted about my vision thing yesterday, and grateful for comments. I’ve learned a lot. I feel you’re very likely to be right, Theresa, that an allergy is at work here. I know I am very sensitive to house dust, in which I am embowered. But what’s new lately? Maybe just spring pollens?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Helen C.K.S. is back! Don’t fail to follow her link to the Handmade Ryan Gosling Tumbler.

There never was such a woman for good tips on websites and films. I offer my own with appropriate diffidence: Twenty Twelve is back. Friday, 10 pm, BBC 2. Lord Downton Abbey (=Hugh Bonneville) is transmogrified into Ian Fletcher, head of the Deliverance Committee in charge of arrangements for the Olympic Games. Olympophobes like me and my husband may enjoy it a teensy bit more than the general population, but there is a lot for everyone if it's half as good as the first series.

The v-neck vest needs one more evening, or part of one, after all. I’ve ribbed both sleeve-holes and am about halfway through the neck ribbing. I started at one shoulder and picked up stitches down the front at the agreed rate, three stitches for every four rows, and then back up the second side to the other shoulder – and only then, stopped to count. I had exactly the same number of stitches on each side – 51. I’m not boasting or anything.

There is much to be said, and comments to be commented on, a propos both garlic mustard and the Sky Scarf, but I think I will deviate into Something Completely Different (and self-indulgent).

On Monday evening, for half an hour or so, my vision was distorted as if I were looking through tears, or broken glass. I have learned, fairly recently in a long life, to worry about retinal detachment so I wondered if this were that, and went screaming to the optician yesterday, and it wasn’t, my retinas are fine.

When I had my cataracts done four or five years ago, the surgeon said that my eye sockets were unusually deep and that that made retinal detachment more likely than for people with shallower eye sockets. Live and learn. A whole new anxiety to put up there with macular degeneration. My sister is a doctor, you will remember, so naturally I conferred with her on the subject.

Within a week, she woke up with symptoms of retinal detachment – it was like looking through lace, she said. She had prompt laser treatment, and all is well. But it proves that it can happen, and that God has a sense of humour.

The optician thought my symptom sounded like the visual distortions which often precede a migraine – or can happen, painlessly, with no headache to follow. That’s news. See a doctor if it goes on happening, she said. I am so relieved that my sight is, for the moment, safe, that I don’t care about anything else.

But it was a scare, and a chilling one. A reminder – I don’t want to be too gloomy here – that something serious and bad will happen in the reasonably near future, given my age. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The v-neck vest passed its trials with flying colours, making me feel actually happy about the re-knitting. The narrower shoulders look good, and don’t want be augmented by much in the way of sleeve-hole ribbing, which is fine by me. I’ve done the first sleeve-hole, it looks very tidy, and have started picking up stitches for the second. Two more sessions should finish this baby. The higher starting-point for the v-neck opening is a great improvement, too. It can have a bit more in the way of ribbing if it wants.

I’ve enjoyed thinking about a Concept Scarf for next year. Standing on the doorstep every morning at 8:15 and looking upwards is quite enough in the way of daily discipline – I don’t want to add the requirement of having to go anywhere, even across the road. So what about the garden just outside our kitchen window?

(You’ve seen it before. It is tended by a Little Old Man and Little Old Woman who are endlessly out there tweaking it. “It’s a wonder they have any garden left,” my husband said the other day.)

Picking up your suggestion yesterday, Gerri, it could be divided mentally into seven sections, one for each day of the week. Or, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays could be devoted to the most striking current colours, and the other days to representing greens. [Currently, there is a conspicuous blue flower just below the steps, to the left. You can scarcely make it out, in the picture.] I think the Shetland yarn stash – so far untouched by the current purges – will produce a good range of greens. That would be essential.

Here is the Sky Scarf. Helen said when she was here for Archie's "taster" week at Merchiston school that it looks much better in real life than in its photographs.


I just stumbled across a reference to garlic mustard in one of the blogs I read. Have I ever heard of it? It sounds delicious. It looks rather like a nettle.  I gather it is a serious, invasive weed in the NE of the USA. It seems to be widespread in the UK, too, but perhaps because we’ve got so many other weeds, no one seems greatly agitated about it. It prefers a heavy, calcareous soil. Strathardle is light, sandy, and acid which may be why I don’t know it. I hope I can keep it in mind long enough to look it up in Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World when I get back there.

Thank you for your comment, Anonymous, about the wonders of the Internet (comment, yesterday). Yes, indeed. And how easily we have come to take its miracles for granted. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

I haven’t been frittering away time this morning, I have been composing a reasoned message to my four children and their spouses about tree-planting, but the effect is the same – I must be brief here.

I am grateful for your sympathy, and greatly encouraged that three people thought our pinus aurea might regenerate. What I tell you three times is true, in the immortal phrase. Tamar, we have already engaged a man to build a proper cage for the tree (or for the spot where we will plant another tree, as the case may be) and also one for a tree which we mean to plant in memory of my husband’s sister.

If the tree is as dead as it looks, I am very much inclined at the moment to put a pinus bungeana there. The link is to a page of pictures. It is famous for its beautiful bark.


I finished re-knitting the v-neck vest yesterday, except for the ribbing which is of course no small thing. So this morning my husband will try it on again – big moment. I tried something which turned up in that newsletter of Meg’s you referred me to, Ron, namely some short-row shaping on the front shoulder line although there was none at the back. It won’t involve much frogging if it doesn’t work, I figured – but in fact it looks fine.

I didn’t take the Sky Scarf kit to Strathardle and it was just as well, because both mornings the sky was a uniform dull grey, the sun hidden behind a haze which never quite dissipated, no need for careful thought over yarn selection.

Leafcutter Designs has come up with a new idea called the Social Knitwork where you choose some colours and then ask your Facebook friends, or whoever, to choose which one they like and write to tell you why they like it and what associations they have with the colour and then you knit the stripes in the order the comments come in.

I’m not impressed. I’d like to do something else next year that involves a daily decision, though. So it would have to be something that changes, such as nature. A daily stroll through the nearest outdoors – Drummond Place Garden, when we’re here – followed by knitting a colour one sees? Which could be an overall impression of dancing daffodils or deep snow or returning green, or alternatively a small flower spotted somewhere? More subjective than looking at the sky although that in fact is more complicated and subjective than you might think.


Here, for my sake rather than yours, is a boring picture of the Strathardle garden last week. I have put up the rhubarb-forcing pot, as you see. You are not meant to force the same rhubarb twice in succession, and I found I couldn’t remember where I had put the pot last year. So I looked at the blog on my iPad and found a picture which answered the question.

Maybe next year I will find this one useful.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We’re back. Good weather. We had a good time and got some gardening done. Tragedy struck.

We vaguely arranged, at the end of last summer, to let a neighbour put her two ponies in our unused paddock. We assumed – most fatal of Famous Last Words – that she would get in touch in the spring to discuss arrangements. She didn’t. There they were. They have eaten (it is the sort of thing horses do) our pinus sylvestris aurea, our Golden Pine, a Golden Wedding present from our four children.

Here it is, on the day we were given it, Games Day, ’07. (The actual anniversary was three or four days later.) There never has been such an assembly, or such a day. My husband’s sister, who died a year ago, is the figure in prophetic black towards the right. I am holding the Glenisla Shield, which I won for Sam the Ram. Rachel Miles of Beijing, in the front row, has the Mandy Duncan Cup, for the best entry in the children’s sections. And my husband is holding the tree.

Here it is in ’10. Its photograph from last year is a bit boring, lacking a human being. It was just beginning to settle thoroughly down, and had much enjoyed the mild winter we’ve just had. I wish I had photographed it when we were there in February.

There remains perhaps a foot of trunk, rather barked. My husband says there is no hope of regeneration but of course we will leave it in place this season. I’d settle for anything, however bizarrely shaped.

These things happen. My husband is philosophical. We will replace it, the new tree will grow. I’m not sure I want to replace it. It was a living link with that happy day. It was  the last tree my husband will ever plant with his own hands. It can’t be replaced.

There are a couple of other things we had been thinking of – a pinus bungeana, for instance, which the Chinese plant around temples. And there’s something whose name I forget, with beautiful bark, just inside the near gate of the Botanic Gardens. Maybe one or the other of those, for the spot? We’ll see.

I got more gardening done than I would have thought possible for a single day. My wild garlic has come up! I weeded the revenants – rhubarb, sorrel, Good King Henry. I flung compost and well-rotted manure about, better late than never. I put the support up for the peas. I moved the vegetable cage to its 2012 spot. I turned over some soil. There is no sign of the globe artichokes or the sea kale, but there is no sign of the Jerusalem artichokes yet either (no relation), and they are unstoppable.

Not many Welsh bunching onions have come back. There is an excellent turn-out, however, from the walking onions I put in last year from a very unlikely source – was it Finland? – via eBay. I think it may be time to give up seed-planting here and order some Welsh onion plants. They should be as indefatigable as chives.

As for knitting, the Japanese shirt has regressed somewhat. I had put in the second buttonhole last time, and there was a mysterious indentation in the selvedge at that point. There isn’t going to be any other edging in which it could be fudged, so I decided to rip. (“When in doubt, take it out.") The buttonhole has been replaced, the edge is straight, but I haven’t knit back quite to the previous point.

Here, I have calculated the new slope for the v-neck – decrease every three rows, involving therefore the dread p2togtbl. It’s not really that bad, and things are going smoothly. I am knitting furiously, hoping to finish before the package arrives from Knit Purl so that I can do some more sock-knitting. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I suddenly had a searing sore throat on Tuesday evening, accompanied by uncontrollable coughing. It lasted about an hour and then both symptoms melted away, leaving me feeling battered, and newly aware of the precariousness of life. I sort of took yesterday off. I'm fine this morning, so today we’ll go to Strathardle for a two-nighter, back here Sunday. Glorious weather.

We’ll need to do better than that from here on out, if I am to have a garden this year. But two nights will do for now.

I have sorted out two generous bags-ful of lace yarn for the knitters at the Session House. I have retained enough to keep me going for the rest of my life, if I knit nothing but lace. However, for the first time since this vague clean-out began, I have the feeling that there is less yarn in that cupboard than there used to be.

The one box that never gets touched, of course, is the one with my Koigu collection. I really must get going with implementing one of my ideas for that, if it is not to be thrown ignorantly away after my death.

And I have ordered Candace Strick’s sock book. “A revolutionary approach to sock knitting”, written by a friend. How could I resist? It’s coming from doesn’t have it, and Candace’ own website suggests printing out the order form and sending it to her with a check, which sounds to me about as useful as sending cowie shells.

I’ve finished re-knitting the back of the vest, and have embarked on the front. The next job, now pressing, is to re-calculate the rate of decrease for the new, shallower v-neck. Re-knitting great stretches of something already signed off as an FO turns out to be fully as dispiriting as you might imagine. The temptation is great to throw it aside and get on with the next sock. This time, at least, I will have the wearer try it on before knitting the neck and sleeve-hole ribbing. Although the thought of a second failure is too dreadful to contemplate.

And I’ve been thinking about my forthcoming snood.

Fiona, thank you for the tactful pointer (comment, Tuesday) to the fact that there are two versions of the Shibui Gradient snood pattern. I hadn’t noticed  -- I took the two measurements, on a hasty first reading, to be inches and metric rather than First Size and Second Size. Whatever, I will have only the four skeins from the kit, so it will have to be the smaller one. 45” sounds OK.

I have been spending quite a bit of contemplation time, the last two days, (=while washing up, or walking about, or knitting) thinking about the question of yarn use with this pattern. If you wind a skein carefully into three balls of equal weight, and then knit for a while with all three held together, and then drop one and add a different colour, and then drop a second and add a second of the different colour…you get the idea.

If you do all that, the three balls from the colour you started with will diminish unequally. I think I’ve got my head around the problem and its resolution, but it’s an effort.

Gerri, we need to talk about your question: is Jared's knitted-on i-cord the same as EZ's? I don't know yet, is the short answer. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I didn’t mean that I was going to attempt Argyle-type hose: way beyond my abilities. Not suitable for Archie’s purpose, anyway. That was just a random paragraph about kilt hose.

Roobeedoo, thank you for the pointer to Kate Davies’ Betty Mouat Cowl. Yes! I think I subscribed to her “Textisles” when the first issue came out – whether or no, I’ve got it somewhere and will certainly get this one tomorrow. I’m not going to use that pattern for the snood, though.

Whatever pattern I use for the stitch and the details (=Jared’s knit-on icord edging), I am going to stick with Knit Purl’s (=Shibui’s) system of knitting with three strands together and changing one at a time so that the colours merge into each other. This means they’ve got to merge back so that the end of the scarf matches its beginning, and that may create problems related to how much yarn one has got and how long the scarf is to be. If there’s one thing worse than another, it’s frogging mohair.

I’ve downloaded the pattern from Knit Purl. It specifies a change every 4”. I’ll just have to go for that and hope for the best. I see I’ve got to wind each skein into three equal balls muself – I had sort of hoped that chore would be done for me. Careful weighing needed.

That system (the three strands, changing one at a time) is the one my friend Candace Strick uses in her trademark Merging Colors. In looking her up just now for that link, I find that she has a sock book out. Fate!

Notice, by the way, that Kate Davies offers “snood” as a possible noun for the Betty Mouat Cowl. I’m sure I’m on the right track here.

I got back to the v-neck vest yesterday, made many calculations, started re-knitting the back. It’s going very briskly, on fewer stitches of course, and I begin to entertain hopes of finishing by Easter.

Here are Ketki’s socks with their Sweet Tomato heels. I always knit fraternal rather than identical twins, with self-patterning yarn. There is something very satisfying about socks: so pleasant to knit, so complete as objects, so useful, so quickly done.

I’ve written to the designer of the Saxon Kilravock kilt hose, Smurf by name, to ask how she got the Saxon braid pattern to come out even, although I think the only possible answer is that it won’t, necessarily, unless one is lucky. She says she has “OCD tendencies” which I think means she will have wanted it to.

Here is another family picture, completely irrelevant to anything that precedes. It shows Grandson Joe (Rachel's younger son), on the left, in Cambodia last week. He's the one who graduated last summer and now wonders what to do with the rest of his life. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rejoicing in NYC on Laetare Sunday, 2012:

From left to right, around the table: Hellie’s boyfriend Matt, Matt’s brother, my sister Helen, her son Theo, his wife Jenni, my brother-in-law Roger, my granddaughter Hellie. I don’t know Matt’s brother, or even his name, but once he was identified to me, I recognised the smile.

I rely on you people for useful information, and you never fail me. But equally, for thumbs-up’s to my wildest extravagances. Thanks for the approval (comments yesterday) of my purchase of the future snood from Knit Purl. I have bought Jared's "Convoy" pattern. I like its open stitch -- the Knit Purl pattern is done in seed stitch. But I can't tell, reading it, whether it is going to be easy peasy or an utter pain, in the actual knitting. I am sure I will return to this subject.

The trouble with my 2012 knitting to-do list – this probably applies to all years and to all of us – is that items keep being added to the head of the list, meaning, obviously, that other items are pushed further and further into the future. Notably, here, my Effortless, or VK drape-front sweater as it may prove to be.

For I think my best plan, once the vest has been re-knit and passed as satisfactory, is to knit the snood right away – my 2012 Games entry, 4th Saturday in August. That should free the summer months for Archie’s kilt hose, which he will presumably need when school starts in September. Do read Tamar’s extremely interesting comment yesterday about the history of tartans and their associations with families.

And (for Tamar): a dear friend, a retired naval officer who often wore the kilt and who paid considerable attention to matters of dress, told me that white hose are never worn unless you are in a pipe band. I had thought, until then, that they were appropriate for formal wear, but he said no, for that you need something special. As far as I can remember, the only time I have ever seen hose being worn which were comparable to those in that link, was on my friend’s younger son, at his father’s funeral. It was a memorable sight.

I discover, in tracking down that link, that Kinloch Anderson have produced a panda tartan. Archie might like to consider that.

The computer is being a bit more obliging this morning (because I’m not in a hurry) – here’s the Ravelry link to the Saxon Kilravock hose. Nice, no?

I finished Ketki’s socks last night, and cast on my own Crazy Zauberballs, which will have an afterthought heel. They should advance considerably over the Easter weekend, but for now will be relegated to the Emergency Knitting Bag as I resume the v-neck vest. I am knitting these socks on my new square needles, size 2mm. They didn’t come in 2.25mm, my usual sock-needle size. I bought both 2mm and 2.5mm and have chosen the smaller ones because my new library of sock books keeps recommending firm gauges. I can’t feel the squareness, in use.

The current plan is, Strathardle on Wednesday. We have an appointment there on Friday -- my husband doesn't want to be away the whole week because, with his hand still painful, he can't do anything there. I phoned the woman in charge of the Session House yesterday and learned that the knitting group can use laceweight yarns. I'll make up a package for them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Laetare Sunday called because the liturgy of today’s Mass begins with the words, “Laetare, Jerusalem…” [meaning, rejoice!] The priest’s vestments are a pleasant rose instead of Lenten purple, and we relax our discipline a bit [meaning, drink cider!]. The Pope sometimes blesses a golden rose and presents it to a Catholic queen, although he seems to have given over that practice recently.

That opening bit of the Mass goes on to something about being filled from the breasts of your consolation – don’t ask me; blame deutero-Isiah – which is presumably the reason that today is Mothering Sunday, when children traditionally pick a posy of spring flowers for their mothers. The day has been seized upon by the money-makers and horribilised, but it retains its place in the liturgical calendar and moves hither and yon through the Sundays of spring at the bidding of Easter.

Kilt hose

Archie rang up yesterday – he is the only one of my grandchildren who regularly does that – sounding both amused and pleased at the idea of my knitting his kilt hose. So it’s all systems go. I can’t actually do anything, even buy yarn, until Archie has chosen a kilt. He could wear the school tartan, which is blue, or he could go for Robertson like his uncles (see sidebar), and it that case he could wear either “red Robertson”, like them, or the “hunting” version, which is basically green.

We are agreed on a dark colour for the hose. Helen will study school photographs to see what people have on.

(The computer is being more than ordinarily recalcitrant, and seconds are precious on Sunday morning. I’ll have to omit the links and fact-checks I’d like to include.)

Thank you for your help with this project. Woolley Bits, that link to the yarn source is precisely what I wanted, and will be kept safely until needed. Skeindalous, I found the Celtic Kilravock pattern on Ravelry (and the stitch pattern in Barbara Walker). It’s stunning. It’s beautifully knit – that white yarn would show up every blip, and there aren’t any.

What if the pattern doesn’t come out even, in the length needed for fit? Maybe I’ll write to her.

And, Skeindalous, I don’t believe in authenticity (speaking as an American of Dutch descent). All this kilt-ery and tartan stuff was invented by Walter Scott when George IV made his ceremonial visit to Edinburgh. Go to the Kinloch Anderson website (they make stuff for the royals) and look at their female skirts/kilts.


I must have bought something from Knit Purl once, because they keep sending me tempting emails. Yesterday they came up with this – the link was essential – and I fell for the green colorway. That’s my snood, my Games entry. I hope to use Jared’s pattern for the actual knitting, with the Knit Purl Gradient system of blending the colours.

And what’s the use, you may well ask, of giving up Rowan Kidsilk Haze for life if I’m going to fall for Shibui Silk Cloud?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progress, all round. Alexander rang up yesterday to talk about arrangements for Easter. Maybe Lent will end, one day! The sky is blue again this morning. I should finish Ketki’s socks this weekend. Athens sounds pleased with the idea of my knitting kilt hose.

In more detail…


Tomorrow is Laetare Sunday, the traditional day for mid-Lent relaxation (if you’re keeping the Sundays at all, as I am – strictly, they aren’t part of Lent, and if you count, you’ll see that there are 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday without them). I’ve got some cider lined up. Rachel’s daughter Hellie and her lovely boyfriend Matt will be in NYC, for reasons which I hope to fathom when we meet on the shores of Loch Fyne. Something about work. My sister and her husband are going down to the city to have lunch with them, and looking forward to taking a glass or two of wine.


I’m round the heel and cruising down the foot of Ketki’s second sock. I have decided what to cast on next for the emergency bag. Whatever it is, should progress considerably over the Easter weekend. Well: it will be the Crazy Zauberball Kristie gave me, for myself, with an afterthought heel.

I figured that was something I could master and not have to worry about peering at an instruction book while the party happens around me. I’ve done it, just now, although it took a while to find a tutorial that cut to the chase. Everyone seemed to want to be cute, or to take up a whole 15 minutes (plus loading time) on YouTube. But here’s a good one.

The Van Gogh "Bedroom at Arles" yarn, and the Italian flag, arrived yesterday. What treats are in store!

Kilt hose

Helen writes: “Socks knitted by his grandmother will blend in much better than a pair of bought ones which will only be striving in their bought-ness to look as if they were made by someone's grandmother. You can ask him what colour he'd like and we'll scour the Merchiston on line photo albums to make sure the colour is more or less what everyone is wearing.

I haven’t yet found a European source for the solid-colour Schoeller & Stahl Fortissima Socka recommended by the Kilravock pattern-writer (link yesterday). Lots and lots and lots of self-patterning. Buggered if I'll order from America and pay tax to re-import it into the European Union.  Robeedoo, I like the OnLine yarn you recommend and will go for that if one of the colours turns out to suit.


I'm beginning to look forward to getting back to it. The interval has been just right. Ron, thank you very much for the Zimmermann references. I've now read Meg's newsletter – how did I ever get unsubscribed to that? I have rectified the omission – and am ready to roll. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

A blue stripe in the Sky Scarf this morning, the first for a while. Lifts the spirits.

Miscellaneous, again

Roobeedoo, that is simply the most wonderful model-picture for a pair of kilt hose I have ever seen – and the hose are pretty wonderful, too, although I’d make the turnover deeper. I haven’t heard from Athens yet, what Archie thinks about having his grandmother knit his kilt hose. My sister warns me not to rush into it, lest I make him the laughing-stock of the school.

Anyway, first I'd need to see the kilt.

I was interested that the designer uses Schoeller & Stahl Fortissima Socka. That sounds and looks like a plain-vanilla sock yarn. I have knit two or three pairs of kilt hose, can’t remember, all of them in DK or sport-weight. Sock yarn would mean more knitting, but perhaps a trimmer look. It doesn’t seem to be available in Britain, from a quick search, but it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to find a German supplier. The colour range looks good.

Although that is one project where I’d really like to see the yarn before buying. Maybe I’ll go to the farmer’s market tomorrow and make my way home via K1 Yarns. Or maybe not. All her sock yarns (I’ve just looked) appear to be the sort of thing I’m knitting now, not the sort of thing required for kilt hose.

Cotton and Cloud has an enthusiastic blog entry this morning about a free Icelandic design-your-own-Lopi website. It looks good, although I didn’t persevere because it needs a free Microsoft download on the lines of Flash Player, and I didn’t want to tax this poor old computer beyond its capacities. I think maybe Easter will be the moment to buy a new one. I’ve been talking about it for years.

Ron (comment yesterday), where does EZ set out the percentages you mention? I think I’ve got the whole corpus here, but I could only find yoke sweaters or drop-shoulder, nothing on how to approach a set-in sleeve or sleeveless vest.

As for actual knitting, I am rounding the second Sweet Tomato Heel without even looking back to the instructions (famous last words). It consists of three short-row wedges stacked on top of each other. I am just starting the second wedge.

Amazon seduced me this morning with Ann Budd’s “Sock Knitting Master Class”. If nothing else, I’ll emerge from this phase with the best sock-knitter’s library in Drummond Place.

Two of the sock yarns I ordered the other day have made their appearance. I chose the blue colorway for Marasca (the new Yarns-of-Italy yarn), thinking it might be darkish and gentlemanly, and it is. Not for my husband, who is anti-blue, but for anyone else, even for a son-in-law who wears a suit to work. I don’t think I’ve ever knit socks for Helen’s husband David.

The other is KF’s Random Stripe in “Heather”, which I long to cast on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Jared has a new collection out. It works like a one-man Twist Collective: you thumb through the book on-line and buy individual patterns. There’s an “infinity scarf” – a “snood” in my new vocabulary – which I’m much taken with.

And I liked a pair of patterned socks which Zite offered the other day. I thought again of Kristie’s system – fancy socks as Knitting; plain socks for the emergency bag. Normally in Zite, an item moves further and further back in the magazine for four or five days, and eventually falls off the end. But occasionally an item vanishes before its time, and that’s what happened to these socks.

I clung to what survived of my memory of them, and google’d “sailor’s knot sock pattern”. Google got it in one, although the socks are actually called “Angler’s Loop”. I wondered again how we managed our lives, before Google. I’ve downloaded the pattern. I love cables.

And by the way, if you follow the link above to Kristie’s blog, you’ll see her in a beautifully-knit example of Kate Davies’ Boreal pattern, with link to the pattern. Kate most kindly sent me that pattern. I’ve printed it out, and it’s on my ever-lengthening HALFPINT list.

Which gained two new items yesterday. Helen’s husband David said that they urgently need a teacosy for their house on Mt. Pelion. He suggested that I knit one in the shape of Mt. Ossa nearby (literary/historical reference). I’ve been through five pages of amazing teacosies on Ravelry without seeing anything that looked like a mountain. You’d think it would be an obvious shape for a teacosy. Does anyone happen to know of one? That assignment defeated even Google.

I think the one I liked best on Ravelry was the one that looked like a cricket sweater.

And the other new item on my list is a pair of kilt hose, for Archie. Apparently he will need a kilt in his new role as a Merchiston schoolboy. (I trust David and Helen have calculated not only the fees for this venture, but the multitudinous extras. Kilts aren’t cheap.) I have knit hose for James and Alexander, with fair but not spectacular success. I think Alexander is wearing my effort in the sidebar. James's wonderful red ones are store-boughten. I’d like to try again, remembering the principle of negative ease.

But before any of this can happen, I’ve got to finish that vest a second time. Rosesmama, thank you for the pointer to “Conservative (but pretty) Dad Vest”. I found it, and downloaded. The shape is perfect. The designer suggests making a schematic from an old vest that has the desired shape. I should have followed that simple procedure from the beginning, using the raggedy vest mentioned yesterday.

I was interested to note that several of the vests on the Ravelry Dad Vest page have the fault which drove me to frog, namely too-wide shoulders. One of them even showed the shoulder seam flopping down over the upper arm, just like mine.

I’ve run out of space. Ketki’s socks are getting on fine, and should reach the heel tonight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Merchiston Castle school has offered Archie a place, and his parents have accepted it. So here we go.

And Mr Santorum won Alabama and Mississippi. I am enjoying the Republican primaries enormously, although I doubt if I would enjoy watching President Santorum and Mr Netanyahu nuking Iran.

I finished the ribbing of Ketki’s second sock yesterday – the rest will knit itself. The Sweet Tomato heel is easy, once you’ve done one.

I am afraid I ordered all four of those sock yarns yesterday – even before I read your kind, enabling comments. I am full of plans for measuring the balls of people’s feet and their ankles on the shores of Loch Fyne at Easter, and discussing socks with Rachel’s grown up daughters – do they ever wear them? and with Alexander and Rachel’s husband Ed – how adventurous can I be with yarn?

Alexander works from home, and until he needed one for Theo’s wedding, didn’t own a suit. (He was married in his kilt, a "red Robertson", which held its own rather well amidst Hindu finery.) Maybe he would accept a pair of Bedroom-in-Arles socks to go with his wife’s Restaurant-de-la-Sirene-at-Asnieres? Ed wears a suit and very business-like socks during the working week, but perhaps he’d like something more colourful for the happy hours spent at his allotment at the weekends? Such as KF stripes or the Italian flag?

By then the revised vest should be nearly finished, too.

No, Knitlass, I haven’t done anything at all yet about calculations for the second attempt on the vest. We both thought, during the try-on, that two inches need to come off each shoulder. That’s a start. And the angle of decline of the v-neck will need to be steeper if it’s to start later. I will pay closer attention to the prototype, a raggedy vest I knit for my husband decades ago. And, Shandy, you’re quite right that a professional pattern might help. I must have something in my extensive archives. Perhaps even the original pattern leaflet for the raggedy prototype.

I was using Vicki Squares “Knit Great Basics” or whatever it’s called – but perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention to it.

Miscellaneous (ironic)

When the current adventure in Afghanistan started, there was a group which threw itself into knitting Afghans for Afghans. Maybe they’re still at it. I think I spotted one, covering a corpse in the back of a lorry after Saturday night’s massacre. You probably saw the picture – triangles joined to make squares. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The good news…

is that I finished Ketki’s first sock, and started the second. I like it a lot.

The bad news…

is that my husband tried on the vest, and it won’t do.

It’s fine in the two respects I was worried about, length and breadth. Where it falls down is that the shoulders are too wide, and actually hang down a couple of inches over the upper arm in a most unattractive fashion. And the v-neck is too deep, by a couple of inches. So much for winging it.

All the verbs in that paragraph should in fact be in the past tense. The vest couldn’t have been left like that, hoping for the best. I’ve got to try again. And experience teaches that it would be fatal to lay it aside while adding it to a mental to-do list. The only course was to frog, and fast. I’ve done it.

I did allow myself to take some time de solido die for the task, rather than assigning it to the precious evening knitting slot. It took a while, what with detaching the neck and armhole ribbing and dealing with those alternate skeins on the upper back. (I think I’ve got enough of the darker yarn that I won’t have to do that again.) But the job is done, and the stitches recovered.

I have discovered in the past – although I don’t think I’ve ever had a disaster involving as much re-knitting as this one – that once the stitches are back on the needle, and persuaded to sit correctly, and the knitting is going forward again, all sadness is forgotten. We shall see.

I’ll finish Ketki’s socks, so as to be able to hand them over at Easter and see them on her feet. Then I will have to start another pair, so that I have something in the emergency-knitting-bag for waiting rooms and whatever life offers in the way of out-of-the-house knitting time. I’ll follow Kristie’s excellent plan of having a plain-vanilla pair on the go there, and save the exciting stuff for when I can return to the Sock Project.

But I laughed out loud, catdownunder, at your comment yesterday: “Can’t you just make them the way you always have made them, because they fit that way?”

Do I deserve some more sock yarn, to cheer myself up for the frogging? KF’s Random Stripe “Sizzle”?  Van Gogh “Bedroom in Arles”? the Italian flag? Or what about one of the new Marasca sock yarns? A lot of the German yarns say made-in-Italy, if you look for the small print. Why not go straight to source?

Watch this space.

I’ve added Joyce Williams’ Latvian Dreams to that little list in my electronic Filofax (yesterday), for the toe-up heel cast on. Thanks, knitting08816 and stash haus.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I begin my day with my iPad – email, Flipboard, Zite. Flipboard has a “News” section – its own idea, and I rarely look at it, but I did this morning. The first page is Gaza, Syria, and something about losing weight; the second page is British news. There is nothing about Afghanistan anywhere. Of course at the moment it is the middle of the night in the USofA where the mighty Flipboard computers are. But we in Britain had the news by the early evening yesterday – afternoon on the Eastern seaboard. Plenty of time. Does that represent the news reports America will wake up to this morning? Surely not.


I hope to finish Ketki’s first sock today. I don’t know what we’re going to do about Strathardle – my husband has been having a series of highish blood sugar levels, and wants to consult the hospital. Also, his right hand, which had been slowly improving, seized up entirely yesterday. Walking is more difficult even than usual because he can’t hold his walking stick in his right hand. I had to help with dressing for the first time. Slouchy-sized socks – my recent knitting – make things easier.

Anonymous, you asked for my “little [sock] list”. Here it is, as it appears in my electronic Filofax. Notice the reference at the end to comments here – I appreciate you people:

Nancy Bush, "Folk Socks"
June socks pattern (downloaded & printed)
Lucy Neatby's garter stitch heel -- in pattern "Timberland Toes" downloaded and printed
"Afterthought heel" -- this is probably EZ
Yarnissima's "brainless" -- free Ravelry pattern -- downloaded & printed

Advice on stretchy cast-offs: comments Sunday 5/2/12 and Monday
Tips on interesting yarn for gents, 8-9/2

I agree with you utterly, Catdownunder, about being unenthusiastic about toe-up socks. That fiddly cast-on! The tedious ribbing last! And, worst of all, no way to correct the foot length if I get it slightly wrong. All the pattern-writers seem to think we knit socks for no one but ourselves, and can be constantly trying them on.

But this is my year for challenges, so I’ll have a go at it.

Twisted-front sweater

Mary Lou, I’m completely sure that the pattern coincidence I talked about yesterday, was no more than that – a coincidence, as you say. Both magazines and both designers were probably upset by it. Judith (comment, Saturday), I so agree that Ravelry is simply invaluable for letting us see how a contemplated pattern actually looks on actual people. The En Pointe looks better than I would have expected. There aren’t enough real-world examples of the VK version to judge.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A grand walk – around the Gladhouse Reservoir, if I’ve got that right. About five miles, gradient-free, easy underfoot. There was a savage, cutting wind. I won’t venture on such an activity again until I’ve knit myself a hat.

I’ve finished my first Sweet Tomato heel. It’s early days, to say what I think of it. It looks less decisive than the standard heel I’m used to. We’ll have to see what the wearer thinks.

Sally (comment yesterday), no, I’ve never tried the Afterthought Heel. But, like Ko Ko, I’ve got a little list, and it’s there. Until I embarked on the current sock, I had never done any heel except the bog-standard heel-flap/turn-heel/pick-up-stitches-and-gradually-reduce-for-gusset.

The list was made at random, with no attempt to arrange it in order of priority. The next item on it, after the Sweet Tomato, is the Andersson heel. I can’t remember how I came by it. I don’t find the instructions at all lucid. It’s toe-up, and I’ve never done that. But I’m here for the challenge.

My first thought was to skip it, don’t like toe-up. But so many respected sock people are enthusiastic about it, that it’s time I tried. The Sweet Tomato instructions start with toe-up, and add top-down as an afterthought. (The heel is the same, either way.) Fleegle’s heel, further down the list, is another exmple. Her instructions, needless to say, are a model of lucidity.

I was pruning my Picture file just now, and stumbled on this, taken last June, labelled “sock yarn”. 

When I began to think of this Sock Project a few weeks ago, I found I had only a dozen pairs of Unknit Socks, all of them reasonably attractive. So I must have done some useful culling. The more I cull, the more yarn there seems to be in that cupboard.

Twisted-front sweaters

I found the IK “En Pointe” pattern, Spring ’11. It’s even more similar to VK’s “drape-front sweater”, Winter 2011-12, than I expected. Both are rectangles knit sideways, with the front rectangle twisted. In the IK version, the short edges are then joined at the bottom, forming armholes from which stitches are picked up for sleeves. No sleeves for VK.

The IK one thus becomes more of a garment, like the ballerina sweater its name suggests. It is knit of Louet KidLin Lace Weight (35% mohair) on big needles, which may be why I passed it over. I renounced Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze for life after knitting the Earth Stripe Wrap, cover of Rowan 42, for granddaughter Hellie.  (The result was very successful – no quarrel with that.) And I think my antipathy may extend to all mohair.

The VK version is knit in alpaca. Both versions have to be worn over something else, because the twist creates quite a low neckline. But the VK one is more frankly a layer. And I still prefer it.

But I am surprised that VK would use something so soon that seems so clearly a rip-off. (Or is a twisted rectangle a well-known design feature which happens to be unknown to me?) The IK designer, Alice Tang, must have been livid.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I must be quick this morning, insofar as this dinosaur of a computer will let me. No links, no polished prose, no checking of statements. I’m going for a walk with our niece. I hope I don’t disgrace myself by flagging – I am aware of myself as older and feebler by the day.

The v-neck vest is blocked. Again, the madeleinetosh yarn has relaxed a lot when wet. I’ll carefully note the gauge I’ve now got, since I know I will never attain to the state of perfection required to wet and block a swatch. But (as Ron and I agree) what’s the use? The vest, as I promised a while ago, has been blocked for a bit of extra-width and less-length. So the gauge is scarcely set in stone. Still, worth noting.

And I’m nearly finished with my first Sweet Tomato Heel. All my instincts rose up to protest – can’t I just do it the usual way? But I persevered. There was some frogging – what one does is knit to the point where the heel is to be, then purl back to the other edge of the section designated for heel, then start short-rowing.

Cat designates that first purl row as short-row, although it isn’t. The instructions, however, are crystal clear. But I muffed it, and short-rowed the purl row, and fairly soon realised that that wouldn’t work, because one needs to be poised for a knit row when the shaping is done and all the little gaps have to be closed.

I used Eye of the Partridge for that first attempt. But since I had to start again anyway, I seized the chance to abandon it as too much for my weary intelligence. I’ll come back to it in another sock when I’m not all agitated about heel-shaping. I’m using my usual heel flap k1 p1 on the right side rows, purl the reverse.


I wandered around Meadow Yarns for a while (link yesterday) and found a nice sock yarn, can’t remember whether Opal or (I rather think) Regia, based on national flags. I want some Italian socks. I also want all the rest of KF’s Random Stripe range for Regia, now that I’ve knit two of them; and all the rest of Opal’s Van Gogh range now that I’m knitting one. Lots of socks.

Not Zite but my email in-box had two interesting items this morning:

1)      Madelinetosh merino light. For my snood?
2)      An IK pattern called en pointe which is remarkably like the VK twisted-front pullover I have my eye on. The IK one precedes – it’s from the Spring, ’11, magazine which I will now have to find and examine.

Construction is different. The IK one is a Moebius tube with sleeves inserted. The VK one is two rectangles, one longer than the other to allow for the twist, partially sewn together along one long edge to form shoulder seams. All st st – the edges must curl. You can’t really see in the picture. No sleeves, just overhang.

I must have turned right past the IK version a year ago. Another triumph for photography? More on this tomorrow if I can find the IK pattern.

Friday, March 09, 2012

You guys are always helpful, but you really excelled yourselves yesterday.

Theresa and Sarah, I have, in my day, done the provisional cast-on where you crochet the stitches directly on to the needle. And was interested, indeed, to read Sarah’s caveat about what happens when the following row is ribbing. I’ve also done the one where you make a cat’s cradle of the two yarns and dip the working needle first under one, then under the other. I’d need to get the books out again for that one, but it’s a lot of fun once you get going.

But since this is the year of challenges, maybe I should try to master the crochet chain. There must be a video of it, out there somewhere.

Eadaoine, I don’t think I had ever heard of the Eye of Partridge stitch, but I’ve looked it up and it’s easy (and memorable) and I will try to incorporate it in the Sweet Tomato Heel. Which I should reach today. I don’t think Cat’s video is much help, really – I looked at it again yesterday. I need things written down. The pattern is in the copy of Sockupied I’ve got on the iPad – I’ll work from that.

FiberQat, a broad rib sounds a good idea, for fit.

And Kristie, you have solved the sock-pattern problem. (Keep a plain vanilla pair always on the go – as I have for years; and classify anything fancier as KNITTING to be done in the time-slot available for knitting.) That’s it! I think the next pair of socks I knit after Ketki's will be for myself, with the yarn you gave me last summer, to practice some of these new ideas. 

Here’s one for you, in return: I have been suffering some losses and breakages lately, and needed some more of my beloved KnitPro needles. I ordered them from Meadow Yarn, new to me, and a site I will revisit. I ordered a set of the square ones, as well. It sounds an odd idea, but KnitPro must know what they’re doing.


The vest is ready for blocking. I hope I’ll get that done this morning. And Ketki’s socks, as mentioned above, have nearly reached the heel. I love the way the Opal Van Gogh yarn is working out.


Rachel and Ed are finding Lent a bit tedious, too. They spent an evening recently with their daughter Hellie and her lovely boyfriend Matt who were drinking white wine and beer, respectively, and found it difficult. (My peaceful life is largely devoid of such challenges.) Matt said that since we drank on Good Friday last year, it is now traditional to do so.

He is wrong. We only drink on Good Friday when the Rest and Be Thankful is closed. My husband and I had to make a 50-mile detour that day through Crianlarich and Tyndrum and Inverary, to reach Alexander and Ketki. Rachel and Ed, driving up from London, had to take the Dunoon ferry.

But Matt’s remark shows that he has learned to think like One Of Us. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The vest is finished, except for a few loose ends and the blocking. It’s looking good.

Here are some pics, colour useless. Taken yesterday, before I had quite finished. In real life, it’s a rich dark grey shot with green, really rather magnificent. The pictures show more than the naked eye perceives, of the difference between the initial light skein and the subsequent dark ones. 

On the back view, you can clearly see the striped effect on the back from armhole to shoulder, where I was alternating the skeins.

I’ll try for better photography when it’s stretched out being blocked. Those are ridiculous.

Now on to the sock project. Sarah (comment Tuesday), you’re right about The Knitter’s Book of Socks. It’s seriously good. She says, among much else, that short-row heels, being all in st st, are more vulnerable to abrasion than the standard heel-flap-and-gusset model. We shall see. I wonder if all the heels in the little list I have made, come into that category?

The first to be attempted, on the current Van Gogh socks for Ketki, is to be Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato heel. I will warn Ketki.

It sounds as if the incorporation of a certain amount of ribbing is my best bet for a longish leg that doesn’t sag too much. Alas, as it will interrupt the sheer peacefulness of sock-knitting. I admire a lot of sock patterns, including many of the ones in this book, but so far have no ambition to knit them. The whole point, for me, is the bliss of knitting round and round with wonderful yarn and no effort.

Thank you very much indeed, Roobeedoo and Skeindalous, for your remarks about the Millwater snood (as we must learn to call it). I haven’t looked at the pattern at all yet except to note that it begins with a provisional cast-on. I have never mastered that business of picking up back loops from a crocheted chain. Maybe this is the moment? Or maybe I’ll fall back on one of the easier methods.

But I’ll remember that it can be made smaller.

My current vague plan is to knit the VK drape-front sweater (no 12, Winter 2011-2) with the madelinetosh yarn previously earmarked for Effortless. I can always knit Effortless some other time. I think I would get more use out of it, as something to fling on over a shirt on a cool summer’s day of which Scotland affords many.  And I think it might use less yarn, and therefore leave some for Millwater.

The left-overs from the v-neck vest won’t be enough, and the difference between the light skein and the two dark ones is too much to be overlooked

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Economist, and the New Yorker, and The Knitter’s Book of Socks were all in yesterday’s post. A great relief. And there is an Alice Munro story in the New Yorker – not an issue to miss.

At very first glance, The Knitter’s Book of Socks disappoints in having too many pages devoted to yarn – I am happy to leave that topic to Mr Opal and Mr Regia – and not enough on fit. But I think I’ve got to move beyond first glance. The author is clearly concerned with fit – it’s promised on the cover. I suspect the ideas are in there. To begin with, I must pay more attention to negative ease.

Maybe the best way really to get to grips with the problem, would be to knit socks for myself. I normally don’t wear them, because I don’t wear trousers (shock! horror!) and don’t want to draw attention to my sturdy ankles.

As for actual knitting, I’ve polished off the neck ribbing on the v-neck vest, and have proceeded to the armholes. Indeed, am poised to cast off the ribbing for the first one. Might I even finish this evening?

I bought the pattern for the Millwater scarf this morning – it came up, remember, when I asked Ravelry for “snood”. I like it, and have decided to declare it a snood willy-nilly (that being the category required for Games entries this year). Is there enough madelinetosh DK “Georgia O’Keefe” left over to knit it? I’ll get out the kitchen scales. I didn't print the pattern, with the thought of moving it into GoodReader on the iPad and knitting from that. 

My sister and her husband are coming to see us in May. I put "gardening sweater for Ed" on my New Year's list of things-to-knit. More madelinetosh?

I reflected just now that Lent and the Sky Scarf have reached precisely the same point:  the excitement of starting, the pleasure of making early progress, are giving way, in both cases, to irritation at the burden and gloom at the thought of the path ahead. On I plod with both, however.

I am feeling restless this morning. Although the weather has turned colder, the sap is rising all around me. We need to get back to Strathardle.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A good day, yesterday.

I got my husband to the National Gallery, and later fetched him away from it. I got some things done in his absence that had been bugging me. And later,  knitting leapt forward.

In the end, I phoned the Gallery. To their credit, the telephone was answered directly by an intelligent human being. No need to choose-from-the-following-options. And she told me that it was all right to drive down the Mound from above, despite being neither a bus or a taxi, if all I wanted was access to the National Gallery. But don’t take my word for it. The centre of Edinburgh is a mess, and the rules can change from one day to the next.

My husband had a nice time, but came home tired. The committee won’t pronounce on our picture until June. In the evening we watched "Coogan's Bluff". It hasn't aged at all well (=isn't terribly good). But it was interesting to look back on a world where goodies and baddies alike smoked, and where there was only one black man in the whole of Manhattan. 

While I was alone, I tidied a little table which was piled high with the clutter of months. That felt good. And sent in my seed and potato order. It has been hard to find the usual enthusiasm for that job, so miserable was last year’s garden. But it’s done at last. I have ordered a few plug plants, as Rachel’s husband Ed does. Will they fare any better?

And, knitting

In the evening, I finished the body of the v-neck vest (to my surprise), did a three-needle bind off on the shoulders, picked up stitches around the neck and knit a couple of rounds of ribbing. For the pick-up, I did a careful one-two-three skip down one side and up the other, as advised, without counting higher than four. To my astonishment I wound up with exactly the same number of stitches on each side. My memory is that when I am aiming at a specific total, it is much easier to achieve it on one side than on the other.

Vicki Square’s kimono book turned up yesterday – the first one. It’s good. She starts with the history of the kimono, and its basic construction, and then provides a dozen or more variations on the theme. Even flipping through the pages, one is inspired to seize the elements and reconstruct them to one’s heart’s desire. Might this be the stage for my ever-receding Koigu masterpiece?

We had no mail delivered last Friday. Any other day of the week, one might shrug (suspiciously) and say, well, maybe no one wrote to us. But the Economist always comes on Friday. It didn’t, and hasn’t turned up subsequently. I think last week’s New Yorker is missing as well. I was worried about “The Knitter’s Book of Socks” which I will need for the Great Sock Session to come, but Amazon says that’s due today.

Yesterday I was successful in collaring our excellent postwoman. Friday was her day off, she said – no surprise there. She’s now on the case. 

Monday, March 05, 2012

Archie is in Athens. Helen phoned from there last night to say he was in rare form, enthusiastic about going to Merchiston – why not name it? – in a way she hasn’t seen him enthusiastic about anything for a long time. This is wonderful news.

Today’s event will be delivering my husband to the National Gallery for lunch with the Director and a curator friend. He will hand over that picture we bought some months ago, an adolescent work, a portrait of his brother, by ????? ??????. The idea being that the Gallery might be interested to have it as a document, since the artist in question was one of Scotland’s greatest, in his maturity.

The Acquisitions Committee has to OK acceptance. Today's handover is to let the Director see it before the committee meets.

So last night we packaged it up. My husband is fussy to the last degree about the physical welfare of works of art. It is now ready for a rough sea crossing. And today I must figure out how to drive from Drummond Place to the National Gallery. A week ago – when Helen and I took Archie to Merchiston – one drove across Waverley Bridge, up to the top of the Mound, and then down to the Gallery, if required.

Yesterday there were electric signs all over Edinburgh saying there was no access to Waverley Bridge. The Mound is open to busses and taxis only. Websites are not helpful, at least with my limited understanding. The simple answer would be to send him off by taxi, if he’d let me.

We have had the picture on a table in our bedroom all these weeks. It grows on one. We’ll miss it.


Picture-wrapping consumed the evening, and little was achieved knitting-wise. The two halves of the front of the v-neck vest are getting farther apart as I progress (as they should) and last night the feared disaster struck – I finished a row on one side, and found that the yarn on the other was not where I expected to find it, but at the far end.

I panicked, I think. Quiet, calm deliberation was needed at that point, but what followed was a little frenzy of frogging and re-inserting the needle from the wrong direction. I think I’m back on track. It is easy to see the decreases, they are even, and I have the same number of stitches on each side. Must be all right.

Thank you for the reinforcement about the three-for-four ratio for the nexk ribbing (three stitches picked up for every four rows). I didn’t consult the Zimmermanns on this point, not entirely trusting EZ. I’m glad to learn that that’s the way Meg does it.

The reason I didn’t entirely trust her was that when I first knit the Seamless Hybrid Sweater from KWT – I  regard it as unspeakably beautiful – I followed instructions as written, and the saddle shoulder puffed up in a most unattractive way. EZ says to join shoulder to body at the end of every row. It doesn’t work. You’ve got to allow for the difference between row gauge and stitch gauge in st st.